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russ parsons

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Everything posted by russ parsons

  1. Times style is to give a doneness indicator first, followed by a rough approximation of time. i find this works very well.
  2. actually, as big a fan as i am of the two restaurants, i wouldn't say there were obvious differences between the two, except in terms of room and style of service. the menus reflect the same sensibility.
  3. bad writing is bad writing. at one time, i think a certain rowdiness was a welcome break in food writing--kind of like john belushi bashing the guitar of the gentle minstrel's head in animal house. now it's sometimes just belushi.
  4. hmmm, does that mean you cook snake different than chicken?
  5. i've eaten there a couple of times. once on an anonymous meal, once as part of a dinner party for daniel boulud's show. both times the food was very good. the latter obviously was a good bit better. i wouldn't put it up there with providence, but it is in the next tier. i'm not sure whether los angeles appreciates that kind of restaurant ambition, quite frankly. time will tell. ETA: Can anyone tell me how those hyperlinks were inserted in my comments? I am making no endorsements for either product. This is just weird.
  6. depends on what you like Sam, and depends on what you mean by "saute". I'm using the classical definition (well, one classical definition) of a chicken that has been browned and then cooked with other ingredients including a little bit of stock or cream. Obviously, dryness isn't the goal with those. In other "saute" dishes, like a schnitzel, the goal is a crisp skin and in those cases you wouldn't cover. A lot of this has to do with semantic gray areas: what is the difference between a chicken saute, a fried chicken, a braised chicken and a fricaseed chicken? I'm hoping Michael Ruhlman will be able to make some sense of it with his book and I'm eagerly looking forward to arguing it with him point by point.
  7. i agree about evaporation. but there is one other thing a lid does: concentrate the heat. saute something uncovered and it browns well on the outside but stays cooler in the center. Cover it and the center will cook more. depends on what you like. I did a chicken saute with peppers last night and cooked it covered in teh beginning to cook the chicken through, then removed the lid to let the sauce reduce a little.
  8. it occurs to me that this same discussion could have been had 5 years ago, substituting the word "organic" for "heirloom." these are valid labels that honestly describe certain characteristics of the products. it's just that they don't mean what many people understand them to mean.
  9. doesn't she run one of puck's restaurants? ask michel, he'll know.
  10. I learned everything I needed to know about the glamorous world of fine dining by watching Thomas Keller spend 45 minutes wrapping his ankles and knees before service every day.
  11. that's why they let me hang around.
  12. technically, yes. but the definition "Vidalia" meant a whole lot more before it spread to 20 counties. In reality, almost all so-called sweet onions are from the same variety and are labeled according to geography (maui, imperial valley, texas 1015). the exception to this is the Walla Walla Sweet, which comes from Corsican seed brought over at the turn of the century.
  13. regarding melons, my guess is that it's just too early. they take extended, extreme heat to build sugar. we're just starting to get great melons here over about the last 3 weeks. and it does seem to me that california's season hasn't been quite as powerful as it has been in the past. i wonder if the central valley has been a little cooler than normal (which would still mean killer hot).
  14. i'm with chris on this one. too often we still fall into the "brand name" fallacy when it comes to agriculture. it's all about the farmers. i'd much rather have an early girl tomato grown by a good farmer than a brandywine grown by a hack. these things aren't cars: you're not buying the "cadillac" of tomatoes. and also, kudos to anne for the excellent explication of the heirloom phenomenon. to get tomatoes with great flavor not only involves careful farming, but later harvest than is usually practical for a product that is going to be shipped. and that's where those little grape tomatoes come in--they're usually pretty terrific (just by flavor, not by bragging rights--they're very new varieties). Grapes start out higher in sugar (12-13 brix compared to 8-9 for most tomatoes), but they also have fairly thick skins, so they can be picked riper and still survive shipping. When in doubt about what to get, those are a terrific fallback.
  15. the moisture barrier is part of the reason flouring helps the crust adhere. you're right about that. The reason for lightly beating the eggs is to mix the yolk and the white. nothing more.
  16. olive oil is one of those things you buy strictly on taste. except for about 5% of producers, I wouldn't believe I thing they say on their labels. On the other hand, if it's a good product, what does it really matter where it's from or what it's grade is? I'm still smarting from a big piece I did back in 1985 about the huge freeze in Tuscany that wiped out a big chunk of their olive orchards (trees froze down to the ground!). based on interviews with knowledgeable experts, I predicted that it would be many years before we saw reasonably priced Tuscan oil again. The next year, exports actually rose (part of this is due to the interesting quirk in olive oil bottling laws that assign the place of origin as the place the oil was bottled, not where it was grown or pressed; the rest was sheer fraud).
  17. I believe that Andy and Mark Mariani are shirt-tale cousins.
  18. chiming in late, but affirming: the surface of the food to be breaded needs to be very dry before it goes into the egg wash, otherwise the eggwash won't stick. that's the purpose of the first flour. the rest after breading helps with this, too, because it allows the protein in the eggs to "bond" with teh flour underneath and the breadcrumbs on top.
  19. russ parsons

    Making Vinegar

    when you say "smells good" do you mean "smells like vinegar"? As I pointed out in one of the earlier posts, I've got a vinegar barrel that has been thriving for at least 5 years without a "mat" on top. There's a kind of film, but no cellulose. and the vinegar is terrific. remember, that "mat" is one place the acetobacters live, but it's not the acetobacters themselves.
  20. hmmm, forgive an impertinent question: were your parents writing on deadline when they came up with that name?
  21. clear creek is an absolutely incredible producer. they make terrific stuff. i remember visiting them many years ago and the guy had perfected an eau de vie that was made from the tips of spruce branches, the new growth. even that was delicious. i always have a bottle or two of clear creek eaux de vie in my freezer--it lasts forever.
  22. yeah, that's my reaction exactly. given the price of real estate (and the nature of billionaire egos), it's getting harder and harder to find small wineries in napa that aren't going for the whole $200-bottle boutique cabernet thing. That said, one place you definitely ought to check out is Sinskey (caveat: they're friends). But they make really terrific wines still on a relatively small scale. Their '06 rose is the best yet, as delicate as a Bandol but with a lot more depth. They also make really good PN and a really elegant Merlot (I know, but mark my words, good merlot will make a comeback once that silly movie is forgotten).
  23. it's possible there was a commercial arrangement, but i think it's more likely that the claim is based on continuity of judges. It was the same committee that was doing the IACP/Seagrams as was doing the early Beards. the judges were very proprietary about their awards, which is the reason they left when IACP wanted to exercise more control. In fact, it would be interesting to compare the early IACP award winners with the early Beards. Probably the same.
  24. it does seem odd for an organization's awards to pre-date the organization's founding by a couple of decades. i'll grant you that.
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