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Everything posted by johnnyd

  1. Last Summer three of us had dinner at Cinque Terre and even though the place was 35% full, the service was out of sorts. Also a Wednesday. The food was quite good but I wanted a cheese/fruit plate for dessert and all I got was a handful of garnish berries and some cheddar. The bill was over $300! Martinis and 2 x bottles of wine included...
  2. I don't know about the rest of the east coast but here in the Gulf of Maine there is a short moratorium on harvesting shelfish until the rain run-off from Hurricaine Charley's remnants plays out. Not sure if that affected Rodney's or not.
  3. Think about how awful that oyster was... ... ...yeah, that's right!! How could anything as gross and disgusting as maybe what's in the grease trap make it out the kitchen door and on to your plate? Dude, that crew was on crack last night!
  4. Today in the Gulf of Maine, the water temperature is 62*F off shore, and about 3*F more in the rivers where the best oysters are farmed. The farming takes place at a depth of at least a dozen feet, lowering the temp a bit more. This is the warmest it gets here on the Maine Coast so the oysters here are never really threatened with Vibrio Vulnificus while in their natural habitat. It's after harvesting that things can get dangerous. State shellfish regs are rigorously followed by harvesters because they want Maine Seafood to be successful on the marketplace. Maine Oysters are therefore edible year-round. Virginia/Chesapeake oysters get dicey in summer as it's mighty soupy down there at that time. Lucy, When are huitres francaises available at their best?
  5. Tommy, the foulness of a bad oyster is unequaled, to the point that it could ruin the palate so completely that having dinner after such an event is out of the question. I would have been ripshit at that kitchen for letting such a disgusting item leave the premesis and be put in front of you. The shucker/chef/manager should know better. Still, an average-level restaurant with high-volume seafood and an under-paid, hungover garde manger won't really give a shit, so [everybody now!] don't be shy and make the server stand there until you are satisfied that those oysters are in line with your standards, cuz once they leave, you are tacitly accepting the consequences[/everybody now!] Next Chapter: What to do when you eat a bad oyster...
  6. ... you were fooled, no doubt, by my clever camouflage and mistook me for one of many cats that roam the docks and piers of Portland... we are denizens, all... A tip of the hat to your father-in-law, a nightmare I have seen as well. PM when in town and we'll try to connect for an oyster or two. Ben and his crew are the Gold Standard of Fish Markets. They just do it completely right with a little dose of local flair and seat of the pants resourcefulness. They are friendly, careful, accurate and a blast to visit. I rarely shop elsewhere, if I do it's because they close on Sunday.
  7. Guys, Get your clams now then hold off for a week or two: the unusual rain run-off from Hurricane Charley remnant has prompted our local Dept. Marine Resources to close certain areas for shellfish harvesting. Not a help to harvesters already hit with sporadic red-tide closures.
  8. Christian, I have to admit, I'm a Portland Green Grocer regular in the off-season. The quality and prices are better than PPM in my opinion and there is a faster turn-over of produce, I just can't find parking in summer! It's also the place from which visiting yachtsmen stock their galleys, on a recent (hard-won) visit the pickings were slim. Sam and Dana are indeed in cahoots at Scales, per the staff. We should meet there for a beer and oysters sometime...
  9. Tommy, this is totally unacceptable. That oyster should not have made it past the shuckers knife/nose and on to your plate. If I had served a "mudder" among a good dozen and the order left the kitchen with my blessing I would have been fired on the spot. Let this "reasonably well-respected" place know that they are on notice, big time, cuz Chef Fowke and JohnnyD are coming down to kick some numbskulled new yorkah shuckers sorry ass. Oh, and the manager too... But seriously, trust restaurants with oysters? It's a crapshoot. Mayhew Man and I live in oyster country and would think nothing of a half-rack with a beer any day of the week. I offer this advice: When ordering oysters, make absolutely clear to the server that if the oysters arrive in any way other than your personal standard, they will be refused. If they arrive mangled, and the liquor is clear, the shucker is inexperienced and that liquid is water. Oyster liquor should be slightly opaque. Send it back. While the server is there, lift one oyster to your nose and sniff, only the faint scent of the briny deep should be present, not fish-fry odor. If so, send it back. Color and plumpness of the meats are important too, but vary by region and season so it's not a sure guage. Some early summer oysters are a gray-shade and translucent, which I don't care for but others prefer or even call the best they've had. Go figure. The farther away you are from the coast, the more one should be careful. Maybe it's not too much of a stretch to deem the American Oyster our version of Fugu?!?!
  10. My Wife and I went to the Vieux Ville for our Honeymoon just this last Feb. I've been wracking my noggin trying to think of the names of the bistros we went to and had fabulous food, but I came up empty. So here is a guide that I found that seems more useful than others. It was bone chilling when we were there (see avatar) so we didn't go far. If you find this little street by the funicular, a bistro on the right serves the local Poutine, a stew of venison, beef, pork shrouded in pastry, and try the wild boar tortellini. The Frontenac (top of pic) has a circular bar facing the river and features a robust cigar menu and excellent bar-food. The local cheese plate is devine. One place I had a good lambrack w/risotto was Toast! on rue du Sault-au-Matelot. There seems to be an endless list of places to try in this town. Report back! We are planning a trip back there eventually. JohnnyD
  11. True, True! The Portland Public Market is the source for specialty foods and fresh local produce. Scales has just opened, a seafood purveyor and small restaurant at the eastern end of the PPM. It's a joint effort of Sam Hayward (Fore Street) and Street & Company , a terrific, no nonsense seafood restaurant hidden down a cobblestone street in the Old Port, of which fchrisgrimm is a fan. Checked out Scales last week and there were some reasonable looking salmon, halibut, sword and tuna for sale, and a neat alabaster-type raw bar counter with three types of oysters for sale including winterpoints. The place was buzzing along a little bit. This is the third or fourth seafood enterprise at this particular spot in the Market but the pedigree is there this time. The Market has had a rough ride but soldiers on. Good and Great food concerns arrive and depart among it's two or so dozen stalls and countertops. I particularly miss the venerable Wolfe's Neck Farm Natural Meat purveyor, tenderloins so perfect the mere weight of your knife cuts a medallion like buttah...
  12. Grrrrrrrr! ...lucky bastard! Busboy, I hope you have time to keep up your posts. I speak for all those stuck stateside when I say you provide us with the greatest "inside scoop" to a city in Olympic thrall, and what better city than Athens? Thank you ever so much! Feast well, JohnnyD
  13. I had my oyster bar on a restored Lobsterboat built in '55. The marina I berthed at attracted some pretty amazing watercraft as it lay accross the river from the city and a killer sunset, the perfect spot. Whenever these Teak and Brass monsters tied up, the helpful dock staff would point out my fluttering flags and soon I'd be busy shucking a couple hundred $$ worth of oysters or carefully laying out 21/25's (shrimp) in a spiral with a few different kinds of cocktail sauces on the side. Sometimes the owners, their guests and the crew would make a meal of it right at my little vessel, other times it was a jumping off point for the old port restaurants here in Portland. But whenever a dozen of anything was ordered, I'd put an extra one on to make a bakers dozen. The tips were astounding sometimes. I knew it was safe to do that for the out of towners, but I never did it for the local yachtsmen. Some of my more regular customers got the end of the weekend scraps for free or in exchange for a few beers but that was it. Edited to add: Sometimes I got tipped in Cayman or Jamaican dollars, which was cool at first, but then I collected so many I started using 'em to tip the bars downtown!
  14. You know, after almost a year of shucking oysters as a college student the manager confessed to me while we enjoyed a beer after a particularly busy night that oysters were, by themselves, one of the biggest losers on the menu. By then I had an outsized passion for the damn things and was horrified. He explained that their primary purpose was to boost liquor sales, which they did, and that was why I still had a job. Since then, I've heard the same strategy from bar owners mostly, but the quality of the shellfish suffers mightily. The seafood restaurants that offer oysters are a notch better, but I hate being handed a half-dozen mangled oysters on their side, swimming in bits of shell. If a place is going to offer oysters, don't hand the order to a dishwasher because the garde manger doesn't have time. So as an app in a seafood place of reasonable repute, I can see a margin on the plus side. In a busy outdoor bar by a marina or downtown: you better watch out!
  15. johnnyd


    *Blink!* Yes, a lightbulb... Your Valencia got me thinking. What if we used a blood orange??? Hmmm !!!
  16. Pictures! Pictures!! Pictures!!! Have a safe trip!
  17. ...So at 2oz Vodka, that would be about a tablespoon and a smidge of Lagavullin (which I love), and an eyedropper full of Pernod. Can't wait to try the Smokey! I thought that was your kitchen through the curtained opening Sam, I thought I saw pots and pans hanging, but I remember how space is at a premium in NYC. A reflection perhaps? The shaker and spoon is awesome. I'm sure future generations will benefit mightily!
  18. There is a Beale St BBQ within a mile of my home in South Portland, right over the Bridge from Portland. I, uhh... go there a lot...
  19. Uffa used to have a habit of closing whenever they wanted but I think there is a new owner now. If it is closed, I had a great "tapas" meal at Local 188 last year, which is next door to Uffa. There is a website called food in portland that has some reviews of other places but it is a bit out of date FYI.
  20. Hear, Hear! I started this little operation because I was dismayed at the lack of local respect for some damn fine indigenous oysters, so something had to be done. Believe me, I went to great lengths to keep my oysters as fresh as possible. My un-sullied reputation as a purveyor of quality shellfish depended on it. I fitted special trays in my coolers to keep them flat on beds of rock-weed. As I mentioned earlier, oysters in some parts of the world are more fragile, but Gulf of Maine cold-water oysters are quite hardy. The Aquaculturists assured me they would last two weeks but I ordered twice a week and usually sold out (if I ordered right) before the next pick-up. If I didn't sell out I made oyster stew and froze it for personal use. My menu board always had the date of harvest from the ticket next to the price. I experimented above cuz I was curious. Even though this particular cove was not ideal for this particular species, the Belon oyster grows wild in and around the rocks nearby. The area is flushed by a nine foot tide twice daily and lobsters and scallops are harvested in the exact same spot. I know this because I used to dive for scallops right there and I know the underwater landscape well. I also invited the State health inspector down to the boat at the beginning of each season for a look. She was surprised that anyone would actually call her in to inspect their facility but I knew a certificate from the State would boost customer confidence. She also likes oysters, and brought the family down to the marina I was berthed to slurp a few cold ones. Is that testimony or what?!
  21. They would lose market share because the costs involved in providing actual flavour would raise the price of the beer. Not a problem if all the players do it, "cartel" style, otherwise the Keystones and Schlitzes would win out IMHO.
  22. johnnyd


    Peels are essential. Muddling extracts the oils and adds to the flavour. I like the abrasion theory, and when I was in Brasil super-fine sugar was nowhere to be seen. This might explain why the mixture must sit for a few minutes after a good muddling so the sugar dissolves entirely and the proper blend is achieved. This is another reason Caipirinhas ordered in busy bars are a waste of money. I've been using the "little Susies" key limes that come about a dozen per bag for around $3. I think they are from Texas or Florida or Mexico. They are no bigger than a ping pong ball, have a bunch of seeds, but an excellent flavour. I made a couple caipirinhas using meyer lemons that were really good but they appear to be out of season now. I had three brands, Ypioca, Flor do Brasil and Pitu until Saturday night. Now I'm out of 'em all! Pitu is all I can get here in Maine, que pena, gente!
  23. Ohhh... Poor Chef Shogun! He's mixed Cachaca with Yukon Jack!!! Holy Hannah, you are going to suffer... I don't expect to hear from you for a day or two, but when you come to, keep to the lime/sugar regimen for your caipirinhas (to get the authentic deal) before you try other components. Good luck!
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