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Posts posted by SusanGiff

  1. FYI, my husband tells me he just found very VERY low-cost boxes of coarse sea salt at the Italian imports store in Chelsea market. Haven't seen or tasted it yet, but I imagine whatever it is, it'll work out fine. Unless it melts in the oven, of course. Oh well. That's sort of the idea of the dinner: Try something you've never attempted before, and if it doesn't work out, we'll call for pizza.

  2. We're attempting a whole salt-baked striped bass for a dinner party tomorrow night (theme: "Recipe for Disaster"--seriously) and need pounds of sea salt. Is there any place in Manhattan to buy large quantities for a somewhat reasonable amount? Anyone sell it in bulk?

    Sorry. I have to limit it to Manhattan or possibly northern NJ very close to the city.


  3. This is one of those stories that has only just filtered down to people like me, your average consumer. I started noticing this thread, and just today, after paying $15.30 for 18 bagels at my usual shop, I glanced up from my morning stupor and saw two things almost simultaneously: The store had removed all the prices from its price board, and they had posted a notice about the increase in flour prices, what it would mean for bagel prices, and what it would mean for availability--ie, the shop would no longer bake its more "exotic" flavors (no loss there!) like blueberry, presumably because those are the ones most often being tossed at the end of the day.

    As a customer, I really appreciated that notice, and I'd imagine those of you in the artisanal/organic bread business have customers who feel the same way: It explains to us exactly why my 55 cent bagel is suddenly 85 cents, and their $4.50 loaf of bread has gone up to $6--not because you have a greedy landlord or owner or want to increase your profit margins, but because your most basic ingredient has gone through the roof. People who can't afford the higher prices sadly are going to stop buying anyway, but those who can will at least understand why, and maybe even feel compelled to help you through all this (while, of course, helping themselves to some tasty, high-quality stuff!). So, if you haven't already, you may want to think about following my little bagel store's lead.

    Good luck. Sad news. And don't get me started on ethanol.

  4. I have a so-so recipe for this pie and I am looking to improve it for a birthday dinner party. Anyone know this one? My recipe uses a crust of crushed vanilla wafers and salted butter (!) which I have changed to a basic graham cracker crust. The filling is simple: lemon juice, condensed milk and one egg yolk; then a meringue on top. It bakes til the meringue is browned, like 20 minutes, then it cools, then into the fridge it goes til very cold. The lemon layer is quite tart, which I like, but the resulting pie isn't very dependable structurally, and sometimes it's better than other times. It usually tastes far better than it looks.

    Maybe the meringue part needs improvement? That's 6 egg whites, 1/2 tsp cr of tartar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extr and 3/4 c sugar beaten to stiff peaks. I'm not much of a baker so my meringue experience is very limited. Any suggestions or recipes out there? The rest of the menu is moderately southern and I definitely want a lemony dessert. These are old old friends who have had my OTHER lemony desserts many times.

    Oh, since the pie is supposed to be chilled very well, would it suffer if I made it the night before?

    I've actually served the pie frozen after having it that way at a soul food restaurant in Memphis--it's amazing, and not quite as gummy as when it's just refrigerated. Unfortunately, I've got a couple of web recipes in my folder and can't remember which one worked best, but I'm pretty sure it's: this. I may even have frozen the meringue and traded taste for authenticity. Of some kind.

  5. This is the casual place next door to Blu, and owned by its chef/owner. If you've been, what did you think? I had a sandwich there yesterday, and was unimpressed, to put it extremely mildly. But I love Blu and am willing to try Next Door again if someone else raves (even mildly).

  6. I have been happily using a pavoni grinder for a few years now and there's nothing wrong with it except the noise.  It wakes my children in the morning.  I can't have that.  I know the rancilio is quieter because a friend has one.  Any other suggestions?

    We have a low-end Pavoni at a beach house, and I have to bring it into the back bedroom to use it in the morning so I won't wake my kids up. At home, though, I use that large and lovely Kitchenaid and it's not nearly as noisy. It's also quite handsome. But I don't make espresso, so I don't know how well it works for that grind.

  7. I have no idea how or how well it works, but there's a press at the Bodum store on 14th St. that the company is marketing as an espresso maker. Just a thought. Of course, you can't look at a range of them there. Maybe you'll see it somewhere else.

    [Edited to fix embarrassing grammatical error.]

  8. FG and others: Do you use the dough straight out of the refrigerator, or bring it to room temp and let it rest/rise a little longer? I have no insights to add, just wondering.

    My only similar experience was with dough that I waited an extra hour or so to use (I'd fed the kids the first pizza, and then the spouse was late home from work). Even then, the dough was noticeably easier to work with.

  9. Hi. Sorry for the late response--I got swept up in Thanksgiving mayhem.

    Also, unfortunately, I'm not a good person to speak to the pairing situation. If I drink more than a small amount of wine during dinner, something wicked happens to my sinuses or my palate or something (probably the sinuses). Sometimes I've been unable to taste my dessert after a lengthy tasting menu, and for me that's a real tragedy. That said, the stuff I tried didn't blow me away, although I loved having the little beer shots with the pizza.

    I asked my husband, who says he thought it was fine. Not a rave, but I don't think he missed having additional choices. Although he certainly would have enjoyed them.

    Still, for that amazing price...

  10. My husband is trying to remember the name and location of an old restaurant on a side street in the lower 30s/upper 20s, near the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel. It was in the basement of a townhouse and, he seems to recall, very pretty and homey--American food, or possibly Italian. I'm drawing a blank on everything other than a dim memory that such a place existed. Can anyone help? Is it still around?

  11. If you have plenty of room, why not finish the mac and cheese except for baking?

    This is the big issue of the morning that sent me to the computer for help. Can I fully make a mac and cheese, cooking the pasta quite al dente but not baking it, and then just refrigerate it from now until Thursday? Or will everything turn to mush?

  12. A recent post on Baristanet pushed me to finally get over to The Fine Grind, a place I've had on my list for at least a year b/c they often have live music.  While Little Falls may not be a culinary mecca (or maybe it is? Tell us!), I thought this place was charming, the coffee delicious, and prices more than reasonable enough to deserve a post. 

    Separate topic, but I've heard that the Japanese restaurant on Main St. (where the Portuguese restaurant used to be, and before that an Italian restaurant) is very good. Anyone know?

  13. I do have to say, it's great to bring women with you (John and I were accompanied by our wives) because by the time the foie/short ribs and then the kobe come, they're usually full - I had 2 pieces of foie and I think I had 4 or 5  slices of kobe.

    I believe that would depend on the women you bring. We went with another couple on Friday night (the restaurant made scheduling snafu with our Thursday reservation and kindly made up for it with a Friday seating), and neither woman would have parted with a bite of that kobe. I may have given my husband a little bit of my short rib, minus the fois gras. Unfortunately, being full doesn't always stop me from eating.

    I missed having bread a little bit, but I think that might have put me over the top. At a certain point, I appreciated it's not being there.

    The menu was largely still as described, with the addition of an undistinguished duck course from a visiting chef from Friulia (one of the few I didn't finish). The food was excellent; we particularly enjoyed the squab and the kobe, but that bass was fine. All I can add is this: what with our conversations with Waldy Malouf, chef Michael Smith, our gregarious waiter, and our friends, it definitely was one of the most fun nights I've ever had in a restaurant.

  14. A couple more suggestions:

    5 - What's the best Southeast Asian (Thai, Vietnamese, etc.)? I haven't been to other Vietnamese in NJ, so some else may want to weigh in, but Little Saigon (formerly in Nutley, now in Montclair) is excellent.

    6 - What's the best Italian-American red-sauce place, and the best Italian market?

    No one on eGullet ever seems to talk about the oddly named American Bistro, also in Nutley--a big, beefy, Italian-American restaurant with massive portions of terrific food. Best? Who knows? There are so very many to choose from, and sadly, it seems that every time an interesting restaurant goes out of business here, it's replaced by an Italian one. Ditto Italian markets in terms of quantity, but in Montclair, where I am, I love the previously noted Belgiovines, and especially Rosario's, which carries amazing organic meats, homemade sausages, and superb imported everything, including real Italian Nutella!

    (edited after reading FG's post more carefully)

  15. Two years ago, when we had just a small group (6 adults, I think), I made pumpkin pots de creme from the Gourmet cookbook, supplemented with some brownies for my two kids. They were a kind of classy alternative to usual usual messy crisps and pies and such, and they tasted wonderful. If you make them, try crumbling some amaretti on top of the dollop of whipped cream--they needed a little crunch, we thought.

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