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Posts posted by ghostrider

  1. In terms of how availability of good ingredients in the UK has changed, there is no doubt that there is an immense variety of produce in the supermarkets and specialist shops that simply wasn't there 15-20 years ago. However, when I was growing up in the late 60's/early 70's I clearly remember accompanying my mother to the local butcher, fishmonger, and grocer and buying fresh ingredients for our meals. I still recall seeing the carcasses being delivered to the butcher and that he would often cut a joint to order. Now, meat is often delivered to butchers pre-portion and even pre-packed. 

    My memory of food at home is that it was mostly cooked from scratch, despite my Mother hating the task. Of course we had fish fingers and burgers and the like, but more often than not it was freshly cooked fish or meat with veg, or a stew or salad and possibly a home made apple pie for dessert.

    Today, I have a very good butcher just around the corner from my house, but the nearest grocer's is the city centre open market, and the nearest usuable fishmonger is a 20 minute drive away. If I want to buy really good cheese and bread I have to find a deli whose prices are now aimed at those who can afford to treat food as a hobby rather than a necessity.

    So the situation today is that the good basic food that was available to me as a child on my doorstep at prices my family could afford is now only obtainable as part of a treasure hunt around a 10 mile radius of my home, and at premium prices. This is progress?

    i can recognize that picture from denmark, and from the rest of what i know of scandinavia. crap for the unthinking masses, luxury for the rich gourmets, and almost nothing in between. ham for instance, is either soggy stuff in supermarket plastic, or it's cut for you by a butcher who knew the pig's grandmother's name

    Oddly (or perhaps not), Andy Lymes' words there also mirror my experience of growing up in rural/suburban St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in the 1950s/early 1960s, vs. my current life here in suburban New Jersey.

    It's the way of the world I guess.

    OK back to your puddings!

  2. I had a huge and detailed response to this that was destroyed by a slip of some alt-shift-space-arrow-or-whatnot combination.

    Fascinating thread, thanks to all who contributed here.

    dillybravo, a suggestion, if you aren't already doing this -- after a similar experience a couple of years ago, I now compose any lengthy response in my word processing software (Word) & hit CTRL/S after every paragraph to save it as I go along.

    When I'm done I just highlight/copy/paste the whole thing into my bulletin board response window.

    This has saved my bacon a couple of times since the initial incident.

  3. We had a rental car in Florence - had picked it up in Rome, worked our way north, kept it in Florence for a couple of days before dropping it off there so that we could do some day trips.

    Parking was trickier than the one-way streets, but I have an uncanny sense of how to get around. I wound up using a commercial parking garage near our pensione.

    We did wonderful day trips to San Gimignano - vigna is absolutely correct above - & to Volterra, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found the Etruscan gate at Volterra spellbinding, I was transfixed.

  4. That farm-raised Atlantic salmon also is often dyed after filleting/steaking to make it look more orange. Another reason perhaps to avoid the stuff & patronize your local fishmonger. If you're lucky enough to have one.

  5. I've seen the claim about small businesses closing down after Wal Mart locates near a town. But the story is often told as though this is an explicit and premeditated plan: "We'll locate a mile from Donkelburg, then we'll close down the druggist and the grocery store. Then we'll close the store and relocate 10 miles away." Is there any evidence that this is the case? Just as mags would like to see some numbers on Wal Mart's impact on the cost of consumer goods, I would be interested in the facts on its impact on small towns.

    There is very good evidence that Walmart's corporate strategy is to kill all competition by underselling it until the competition has to fold. Individual Walmarts can absorb the temporary losses because the chain is so huge. The goal, obviously, is not to then close the Walmart - what would be the point? - but to have a Walmart every 10 miles wherever there are enough people to support them.

    I had a very good & detailed article on this which unfortunately I've misplaced, so I can't give any cites right now.

    It's frightening though, if you're on a low-sodium diet, the choices (or lack thereof) at Walmart will kill you. I am deadly serious about that.

    Back on the original topic - in several trips to the UK in the early/mid 1970s, we found very good food in the Lake District and various places in Scotland. You had to look for it sometimes, but it was there. Broke my stereotypical vision of English food early on.

    London was more problematical due to budget restrictions. Generally ate lots of curries in London. Didn't mind that a bit!

  6. We consume wax when eating produce, chewing gum, candies, chocolate, and those funny red molded lips (although I haven't had one of those for about 30 years

    Of course, if you don't eat (or chew as the case may be) any of that stuff, then you won't be consuming wax.

    Chocolate tho? I'm sitting here looking at the ingredients on my box of chocolates & don't see any reference to wax. Would it not have to be listed as an ingredient? Or does it fall under the umbrella category of "natural flavors"?

  7. Slight predilection for dining out on Fridays - end of work week - but can really be any night when the mood strikes.

    In NJ, almost always just the 2 of us. Most of our dining companions still live in NYC & are less mobile than we are, so we tend to go to their turf.

    I don't drink so that's immaterial.

    Will happily drive within a 10-mile radius. Would drive up to 30 miles for something that calls to my tastes particularly strongly -- e.g., REALLY good Indian food or BBQ. Weekday/weekend does not affect driving preferences.

  8. Zurich - Züri Gschnetzlets (diced veal in a cream sauce with sliced mushrooms)  served with Rösti (grated potato formed into a large patty and fried golden-brown on both sides).

    A week's worth of calories crammed into one meal.  And so worth it!

    Oh yes!! Just had this in Engelberg, 1.5 hours outside of Zurich - amazing dish, so simple, but so perfect... and after skiing, who cares about the calories, right?

    I'm a hiker not a skier, but it's the same principle - a day of exercise in the mountain air & yep, forget about the calories! :smile:

  9. Been feeling garlic-deprived as well, until....

    I was at my local Stop & Shop supermarket here in Jersey 2 days ago & they had a heap of really good looking heads with firm feeling cloves. Bought one. Made linguini fini con aglio e olio last night. My senses had not betrayed me; superbly fresh garlic - ah, the crunch, the juice, the aroma, the transluscence when you sautee it...... :smile:

    I have no idea where this crop came from of course. That's one of the things I hate about supermarkets (apart from Whole Foods), we are so divorced from the sources of our food.

    Anyway, if you're near a Stop & Shop and craving some really good garlic, take a look! You might get lucky like I did!

    P.S. These were not overly large heads, it was the evident freshness that caught my eye. I'll take quality over size any day.

  10. We (my SO Sheila & I) decided to drive over to Bloomfield last night thanks to this thread. Binh Duong made for a delightful experience & is a superb value IMHO.

    We arrived at 9:10, a bit later than I'd hoped, but life gets complicated. (We tend to be late diners anyway.) There was only one other couple in the place & they finished & left about 10 minutes later, so we got all the attention we coiuld want.

    We perused the soups & immediately ordered the Shrimp & Crabmeat soup. The bean sprouts/hot peppers plate appeared quickly, then the soup. Wonderfully invigorating. By that time we'd decided on the Mixed Seafood with Crispy Egg Noodles & ordered that. I was on the verge of ordering the Grilled Pork w Steamed Vermicelli as well, but the waiter said that the seafood dish was quite large & we'd likely have enough food between that & the soup. We took him at his word & he was correct, I was hard pressed to finish the last bits of cabbage & onion by the end.

    The noodle dish contained shrimp, those sea legs, what I believe are fried ersatz scallop balls (OK my ignorance is showing), a generous helping of mushrooms & veggies in an oystery brown sauce bracingly flavored with a good quantity of slivered ginger root. All this over extremely thin crispy noodles. You have to move quickly to push the noodles out of the sauce if you want some of them to remain crisp.

    A tasty dish, though I feel it would work better at a larger table, as something to complement a couple of other dishes with different textures & flavors.

    Rec'd some extremely bad family news at this point & had to cut this short. Just popping in for a moment to add that. I'll be back on line, & we'll be back at Binh Duong, eventually.

  11. any knife stuck between jar and lid and turn the tip either left or right. breaks the seal everytime especially on those jar lids that overlap the top of the jar. Sometimes you need a really thin steak knife to get between the lid and jar but works everytime.

    My SO's father has an amusing collection of thin steak knives with bits of their ends broken off in subtly varying patterns. :wink:

  12. Venice - from all I've read, it's a toss-up between Fegato alla Veneziana (liver) and Fritto misto (mixed fried seafood).

    You can certainly find plenty of both on menus there. I prefer the Fritto misto myself.

    Zurich - Züri Gschnetzlets (diced veal in a cream sauce with sliced mushrooms) served with Rösti (grated potato formed into a large patty and fried golden-brown on both sides).

    A week's worth of calories crammed into one meal. And so worth it!

  13. I was bothered by Wolf's comments that the city needs vitality, not monuments.

    It's a sad day when Gage and Tollner gets replaced by Friday's or Ruby Tuesdays.

    I dunno what's coming next, but Friday's/Ruby Tuesday's sure ain't vitality.

  14. Our local banks & political parties give away those textured rubber/plastic (whatever they are made from) jar openers at my town's annual Labor Day street fair - flat circular or rectangular things that simply help you grip the jar lid. I have a drawer full of 'em now.

    They work like a charm.

    I just saw a tip on America's Test Kitchen the other night that, thanks to that textured surface, they also make excellent garlic clove peelers - you just fold the rubber thingie over the clove & roll. I'm gonna be trying that real soon.

  15. In the UK in the 50s Olive oil was something you got from the chemist in small quantities for medicinal use, not as a Major food or cooking medium; my Mother never enjoyed garlic, so did not cook with it. These were not uniquely Jewish or even Ashkenazic. I'm sure garlic and olive oil did not feature in many American homes of the time...

    Curiously, they featured in mine during that time - Protestant suburban St Louis. Couldn't have been a more WASPy household, & yet fresh garlic & olive oil frequently showed up on the table.

    My father was a mess of socio/political/religious contradictions, but somehow he was able to put them aside when it came to good food!

    He didn't "get" the whole EV oil thing, but hey, it was the 1950s.

    Sorry for the diversion. I do that. Please continue on topic.

  16. Of course today it's become In-A Giada da Vida.

    I really gadda learn to stay out of this thread.

    What if Rhea Pearlman's husband joined Giada for a cooking show? Yup....In-A-Giada-Devito. :blink: *runs and hides*


    Good one!

    I know this is all, err, tangential to the topic at hand, but I've rarely met a pun I didn't like.

  17. I have no idea who this person is, but now I've got Ina Garten Da Vida stuck in my head and it won't go away!

    The horror!  The horror!  :shock:

    That reminds me of a previous thread:

    "Ina Garten da vida, baby" thread

    Had a feeling I wasn't the first to whom this might have occurred.

    Big surprise Food Network had Giada De Laurentiis host the Valentine Chocolate special.

    Of course today it's become In-A Giada da Vida.

    I really gadda learn to stay out of this thread.

  18. You may not have been paying close attention to this, but what was your take on the saltiness of the food?

    ghostrider: this probably isn't much help, but, fwiw, i don't recall the food being particularly salty, and that is probably something that i would have noticed.

    Belated thanks for that response!

    That (plus comments on the pulled pork) settles it, I gotta try this place.

  19. I've been thinking about us doing a "Screw Atkins" T shirt and having it put up on the eGullet Cafepress site.

    Who wants to design one?

    I do!

    Unfortunately, though, I have absolutely no talent in the field, so I'll leave it to someone else.

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