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Posts posted by ghostrider

  1. On the landscape that is my diet, I tend to focus on the monuments which rise up against the fabric of everyday food. I dream about the next perfectly poached lobster tail or blue beef tenderloin, how I'll eventually splurge again on something rare or expensive. But what about all the good stuff in between those fancy meals?

    The other day I steamed some young carrots and sprinkled them with freshly cracked black peppercorns. It was truly delicious. A far cry from those ubiquitous bags of pre-peeled and pre-shaped "baby carrots" and an even farther cry from the gray pepper dust that comes out of small paper packets.

    I think carrots deserve their prime spot in the crisper. Everybody eats them but I don't think people always remember how great they can be when done right. And sometimes I get a perfectly pungent hit of the master spice and think WOW it really does belong beside salt on the table.

    Do you ever have those moments where something really common is really, really good?

    I'd like to go back to the very first post & the subject of carrots. Not young ones, but the mature ones that show up in early to mid-fall - late September / early October, at least in these parts.

    There's a certain stand at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC that has marvelous carrots at that time of year. They're big, they seem almost to glow from the inside, and they're as fragrant as they are flavorful when you cut or bite into them.

    Those carrots are one of the things that make up for the dying of the light in autumn. I eat one every day, and when their growing season too starts to dwindle, I get several bunches & pack the crisper with them to extend their eating season another month.

  2. Are these things safe to use in cooking? (Assuming that it's proper to ask this question in this thread rather than starting a new one.)

    I recently got one of those fish flipper spatulas, the angled black one with the silver-colored handle at the bottom of the photo above.

    When I use it to flip filets that I'm sauteeing, it gives off the stench of burning plastic, which winds up infused into the fish.

    When I bought the spatula, it had a label that said "can be used at temperatures up to 400 F" (or possibly 450, I don't remember the exact number). I thought that meant that it would work for the purpose for which it was designed, but apparently it doesn't. Either the label is wrong, or the surface of my frying pan gets to a higher temperature and the spatula reacts.

    Does anyone else have experience with this flipper? Is it really useful only for removing poached fish from the poaching liquid in spite of what its label says?

  3. We all eat to live.  Some of us live to eat.  "Foodies" would fall into the latter category, as would gourmands.....

    I note that the Wikipedia article on Epicurus stated that he stressed the benefits that came from enjoying modest pleasures.  I think that adjective's connotations have been stripped completely from the modern words "epicure" and "epicurean."

    Maybe I don't belong here. I don't live to eat. I enjoy it immensely, but it probably comes in at #3 on my list of passions. Whatever.

    I very much like "epicure" in its original sense. Maybe I'll go with that. Maybe I'll try "epicurie" so that I'll be up to date.

  4. Every time this topic comes up, I urge people to go get the crab cakes at Vikki's Fells Point Deli in the Broadway Market in Fells Point. To my knowledge, no one else ever has. I will still sing their praises.

    I tried 3 different places when we were in Baltimore 2 years ago; Vikki's was far & away the best. (We didn't get to Faidley's so I don't have that benchmark.) They do a very basic crab cake with white-bread filler & a good dose of mustard & cayenne; no frou-frou stuff here.

    Now, it's possible that you might try them & say "too much mustard, too much filler & too greasy" about these also - they throw the handmade crab cakes into the deep fryer - they certainly have those elements & you may react to them differently. Me, I liked the spiceiness - peppery but not so much as to overwhelm the flavor of the crab chunks - & I found them wonderfully crispy w/o being TOO greasy, considering that they were deep fried.

    (An aside - Vikki's had the best cole slaw I've ever eaten. Minced green pepper, not too much mayo, the perfect foil for the crab cakes.)

    All I can say is, next time I'm in Baltimore, I'm heading to Vikki's every chance I get. Faidley's is on its own.

  5. There had to be some landings yesterday - the weather was perfect.  Might have been some large hauls which explains the incredibly low price.

    Hmm. After an absence of more than a month, they were suddenly back at my local Whole Foods yesterday. Same as always, $4.99. Whatever, I'm just happy to see them again. I'll be shelling & cooking tonight! :biggrin:

  6. New to me, anyway, on a stretch of Paterson Ave. that I don't drive down much. I noticed this place for the first time in December & got around to trying them for takeout just in the past couple of weeks. They're a welcome addition to the area.

    Thus far I've tried the Pad Khing, which thrilled me no end - 17 years after I moved out of NYC, there is FINALLY a restaurant in my area that not only has fresh ginger root but uses enough of it! That has been one of the glaring deficiencies of this end of Bergen County since we got here.

    Had the Pad Gra-Pow last night. Very tasty sauce, delicious sliced pork. A little disappointing that they use frozen string beans, but the dish was full of flavor and, requested "medium," delivered exactly the dose of heat I wanted.

    The dining rooms are nicely decorated & well lit; they feel bright & colorful without being glaring. It looks like it'd be a fun, upbeat place to dine.

    Their menu seems more in the traditional Thai vein than Rutherford's Spring Grill - the two places don't have a lot of overlap. They may not offer quite the same value or extensive menu as Wondee's - I haven't been up there in a couple of years - but for me their location is a big plus; and, as noted, there's lots of ginger root to be had. :biggrin:

    Ploi Thai, 245 Paterson Ave. (on the corner of Boiling Springs Ave. 2 blks west of where Park Ave. dead-ends at Paterson), 201-939-6799

  7. I finally figured out the optimal route for swinging by Riverside Farmers Market on the way home from my job & stopped by for the first time this afternoon.

    Produce: I checked out the oranges, apples, lettuce, beans. Seemed comparable in price & quality to what's on offer at my local (Carlstadt) Stop & Shop. Rt. 17 Farmers Market still has a distinct edge on price, generally 20% - 30% cheaper. You have to look at what you're buying a bit more closely at Rt. 17, of course, since they buy in bulk.

    Seafood: they seem to have Maine shrimp! I say "seem" because they had a tray of nice-looking shrimp labeled "Sweet Shrimp" for $4.99 / lb. They looked like the Mainers but that's all the info I got; there was never a person in the area the whole time I was there & I'd forgotten Curlz' admonition about the bell above & didn't see it at all. I wandered out into the deli area, hoping to find someone to ask, but the guys there were engaged in a shouting match with a wholesaler - OK, to be fair, the wholesaler was doing the shouting & the store guys seemed to be keeping their cool - so I just left since my questions would have been academic today.

    Their seafood seemed to be priced similarly to Whole Foods' wares. The stuff looks nicer at WF but that's probably down to lighting & display; everything at Riverside looked good. WF's labels are much more informative.

    I can see that this place would be a welcome addition to the area. I'll stop in when I have some time blocked out to cook Maine shrimp. I'll continue to do most of my shopping at Rt. 17 & WF.

  8. In promotional spots for Diary Of A Foodie on PBS, they offer this definition:

    "A foodie is someone who lives in the food world."

    But don't we all? Because if we don't, ipso facto, we aren't living, we're on the way to becoming food or are already there.

    Just another example of how meaningless the term has become. I haven't got a better one. However, I got along fine for 30 years before "foodie" was coined by saying "I love to shop for food & I love to cook." I'm willing to revert. I can handle the extra words.

  9. Suzy- this is good for 2 fillets, 6 - 8 oz. each:

    For a simple, yet delicious fish fillet of virtually any kind, heat up a good 10" - 12" sautee pan over medium heat, add equal parts olive oil and butter, say 2TBS of each.

    While the pan is heating, put about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of flour on a piece of parchment, or wax paper, or a plate, for that matter.  Add a good pinch of kosher salt, a few  grinds of pepper, maybe a pinch of paprika and mix it up.

    WARNING! - this part sounds goofy: taste a small pinch of the flour.  Adjust seasonings. If the flour is bland, most likely the fish will be.

    Dry the fish on paper towel if necessary.  Coat both sides of the fish lightly in the seasoned flour, gently shake off excess.

    Lay fillets into pan, they should make a good sizzle sound. Cook for about 4 -5 minutes on the first side, it should be a LIGHT golden brown. Flip and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes.

    Remove fillets to warmed plates.  Squeeze a lemon into the pan and swirl it around.

    Spoon the sauce over your fish, maybe add some parsley, and voila!  You have a simple, delicious dish. The French call this "meuniere" - in the style of the miller's wife.

    As you experiment with this concept, you can add additional seasonings to the flour for more fun and enjoyment!

    This is basically my approach for any sort of light white fish filets (flounder, sole, turbot, etc.). The differences:

    I use peanut oil for the neutral flavor & high smoke point.

    No salt (low-sodium diet, fish inherently salty enough for my taste).

    I use FRESH bread crumbs purchased at a local Italian deli - you'll notice the difference between them & the packaged supermarket variety immediately once you try them.

    I often sprinkle herbs (thyme &/or marjoram &/or sage etc., fresh or dried depending on what I have) over the fish as it cooks.

    I just bought a dedicated fish spatula after all these years. What a difference!

  10. This might help All About Turmeric.

    It seems that the turmeric we can buy here is a different variety from that popular in India.

    Excellent linked article. Interesting that India keeps the mellower variety for domestic use & exports the more pungent kind.

  11. The road they were on has high traffic for both CT casinos.


    Maybe that explains it. Still, a fascinating phenomenon. If they tried that in Jersey people would probably just speed by thinking "What the h--- are Maine shrimp & why should I care?" I guess staying in New England gives them a leg up.

    My wife's cousin lives in Friendship & runs several hundred lobster traps. Unlike the shrimpers he rarely leaves town.

  12. I was thinking of taking a trip out to Cranston yesterday for some Maine shrimp, but decided against it because I didn't need enough stuff to warrant the expense. Look what showed up not 3 miles from my home today, two guys from Friendship, Maine with some shrimp brought in yesterday.

    Dang, Friendship is a long way from most places in Maine, let alone Connecticut. They really drive down there just to hawk the stuff by the roadside? Can I ask where you're located, that they'd pull enough traffic to make the whole endeavor worthwhile?

    Sounds like there's more of a story here.

  13. ... so many places here are serving Tazo teas now, which I can't stand*.

    *When I want black tea I want actual tea...

    Care to elaborate? The Tazo "Awake" tea is pure black tea as far as I iknow. It's one of the few restaurant/cafe teas that I can stand.

    I have no expectations of good tea when I'm dining out. Even when you find it, 90% of the restaurant world doesn't know how to brew it properly. (If they're bringing you a pot of hot water, the battle is already over & you've lost.) I just go with the flow, drink whatever I'm drinking with the meal, order a shot of espresso if I need the caffeine & have my tea when I get back home.

  14. Just wanted to post, belatedly, that we had our traditional entering-Maine lunch at Black Tie Bistro (mentioned upthread) a few days before Xmas. This has become a ritual for us - land in Portland, pick up rental car, drive down to Black Tie, have lunch & grab a Bollard. The place continues to be a delight. Potato leek soup, mmmmm. A killer chicken/apricot salad. They seem to get everything exactly right.

  15. Are there any other decent brick oven places around? Places that are reasonably priced, where I don't have to drive around for 45 minutes to get a parking spot? (This leaves the places in Ridgewood and Montclair out!)

    I've never had parking issues in Ridgewood or Montclair. We do tend to dine late though. Plenty of parking for A Mano in Ridgewood up at the train station, it's just a short walk down from there. Very good pizza; just don't expect onions or garlic.

    I don't know of any pizza in Montclair that's comparable to A Mano. Would be glad to hear of some.

    There's Foschini's Brick Oven pizza, 298 Ridge Rd, in Lyndhurst. It's been discussed elsewhere on eG. Some locals like it; I haven't yet tried it.

  16. Before this memory fades into Christmas, I've got to give a nod to City Diner for what they did on Thanksgiving. It's a fun, bustling, hip place on what seems to be a newly thriving strip in one of StL's old old neighborhoods.

    They were serving a $15.95 / all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving special, & quite a few tables of very big guys were taking full advantage of that. We weren't in the mood for turkey. I got the smoked pork loin with cornbread stuffing. Pork a bit dry but very tasty, stuffing excellent. The killer touch was the side dish, simply described as "green beans," in reality beans that were still green & crunchy sauteed with onions, butter & bacon. Really fine.

    My SO had the pot roast. Huge portion & I was still famished from our travels so I ate about 1/3 of it, along with the mashed potatoes, all first-rate. Nice big chunks of carrot, celery & onion in the accompanying gravy.

    Not fine dining, but well prepared, thoughtfully constructed diner food. We were very glad that they were there for us that night & wouldn't hesitate to go back.

  17. $5.99 at Whole Foods in Cranston RI. Bought a pound and a half for our first, quick-dip boil tonight.

    Good deal, CA. I assume those are headless but tail-on? Were they in good condition?

    I picked up a pound of headless for $3.99 at our local Hannaford for last night's app. Served piping hot and dipped in garlic & sage butter.

    They're $4.99 at the Whole Foods here in Jersey. Yer gettin' robbed in RI!

    (Headless, tails on, in primo condition.)

  18. They are definitely saltier than Gulf of Maine species - warm water conditions perhaps.

    And that - absence of pronounced saltiness - may be part of the key to why Maine shrimp have that unique sweetness.

    The Mainers hit my part of NJ (courtesy of Whole Foods) for the first time yesterday, so that leg of the distribution channel has been activated. Now if only I can find some time to cook.... :wacko:

  19. I wouldn't think it is a regional thing, based on my experience.  Both of my grandmothers, born and raised in Illinois, as well as my mother-in-law, a Pacific NW native, overcooked everything as a matter of course.  I assume that was how they learned to cook from their mothers and never thought that any other way was acceptable.

    I think it's hard to make sweeping conclusions based on personal experience. My mom, born & raised in Missouri & certainly of the Jungle generation, cooked everything properly - roast beef was always medium-rare, veggies bright & crisp.

    My MIL, on the other hand, was a notorious overcooker of everything & certainly reinforced the New England regional stereotype.

    So I personally associate overcooking with regionality more than hominess. (Not going to say anything about skill & taste cuz I really love my wife's family. :smile: )

  20. After Athens has recently (meaning sometime in the last year) revamped its menu to expand their offerings of meze. The portions are generous & it's easy to make a meal out of 2-3 of those plates.

    They do seem rather casual about bringing the check - another way to look at it is that they don't rush you out - but I've never had a problem catching our waiter's eye & getting the check transaction done in what I consider a reasonable span of time.

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