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Robert Schonfeld

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  1. Robert Schonfeld

    Everyday Wines

    The one good quality wine under $10. I find consistently is Perrin Reserve Cote du Rhone. As little as $7.49 on sale at Garnet, as much as $11 in local retail shops. Red and white. When I order something I am familiar with, I often ask the salesperson to put together a mixed case of things in the same price range that he or she thinks are good quality for the money. This has resulted in lots of good surprises and very few disappointments.
  2. I love unfashionable. How about some more ideas for wines that are out of fashion but that are nevertheless of very good quality, worth buying and keeping?
  3. Your point is well taken, Jaybee. I see nothing wrong a strategy that includes drinking well now, as well as laying down a few things (but not for too long for us old people). Still interested in more specifics. Anybody else care to say what they're cellaring?
  4. If, as Rich says, French wines haven't been made to age since '78, why then does Steve say we will wait 30+ years to drink the 2000 Bordeaux? "Drinking window" means the period of time starting with its release that the wine will drink well? Does one plot the quality of the wine during its drinking window along a bell curve? Or is its peak judged by successive tastings? (Note to self: Beat Steve over the head with my cane when I see him.)
  5. Thanks to those who have been specific. Let's keep this up. What about some Spanish ideas? South American? White Burgundies? Sauternes? Personally, it's easier for me to say that just about the only type of wine I don't especially care for (other than bad wine) is very oaky California Chardonnay. I like variety. I've rarely met a good wine I didn't like. As with food, it is quality that matters most; but unlike my preference for Italian food, I appreciate good wine equally, regardless of its origin. I'd be especially interested to know what other members are putting away. Steve, I'm 54. I'm in better shape every day than the day before. Is it unreasonable to think I will still be enjoying good wine when I'm 85? And if I'm left with anything at the end (Plan B), it will be fun to give it away.
  6. How about it, experts and collectors? What should we be buying now to put away, for a few years, for 25 years? Any kind of wine, any price range, but with an emphasis on less obvious candidates. Please be specific, including where to buy your choices.
  7. I've had a few business lunches at the Knickerbocker Club. Slightly stuffy traditional dishes, overcooked and underseasoned. Saltines in the bread basket. So much for them. Would anyone choose to eat in a private club once in a while versus a restaurant in New York City? Which one?
  8. Like canned cling peaches with a scoop of cottage cheese? You know it, FG. Club restaurants exist largely to satisfy the (very clearly expressed) preferences of the membership. Basically, the message is: keep it simple. A chef who is motivated might make an effort at excellence within the confining parameters set quite rigidly by his regulars, but attempts at real creativity or ideas about waking the palates of sleeping dinosaurs will receive scant tolerance. I hear the Knickerbocker in New York has a good dining room. Never been. Anyone know the quality of the food at different clubs in New York City?
  9. Thanks, SA70. I'm both too stubborn and not smart enough to get a pasta machine, so I'm afraid I can't help you there. I'll be interested, though, to see if any recommendations turn up. Still, there's nothing better than egg pasta made entirely by hand.
  10. Thanks for your reply, Cabrales. Of course, there is a longstanding relationship between artists and restaurants, ranging from starving painters bartering for food to celebrity artists of highly varying degrees of quality providing commissioned works, whether in exchange for food or cash payment. Imho, the quality of art in restaurants is, to be kind, not good. Naturally, there are exceptions, and members may wish to cite their favorites, but in general terms they serve to prove the rule. It is better, I think, for restaurants to concentrate on issues of design and decoration, where aesthetic success is more achievable than it is with works of art.
  11. SA70, nice recipe. Do you make your own pasta? If so, do you roll and cut it by hand, or do you use a machine? What purpose is served by the vodka in this recipe? Did you find it to be a meaningful ingredient?
  12. Ok, Cabrales, you've piqued my curiosity. Would you be good enough to elaborate on this?
  13. The big holes in bread come from a dough with a very high hydration, and, to a lesser extent, from flour with a lower protein content. To the degree that a powerful mixer can develop the gluten structure in a large batch of very wet dough, which is very difficult to manage by hand, this would be a big help. Also, from a production standpoint, there is no way to work by hand enough dough to produce bread in quantity on a timely basis, whether the dough is wet or not. The really tall loaves - five or six inches or more - that also have big holes are hyperdeveloped yeast doughs which wouldn't fall under anyone's definition of competition quality. However, I'm still not convinced that the home baker doesn't have a shot at really holey loaves made a couple at a time, especially sourdough. (I think the yeasted one mentioned above is a lot easier, but since it doesn't interest me as a project, I'm not likely to attempt it.) I've come very close with sourdough, and I know you're talking about the last little bit of difference, but I still think I can do it, given enough experiments with the temperature variable in particular. Stay tuned. Equally important to the home baker's efforts vis a vis the large scale producer is a massive preheated surface to give the indispensible oven spring. I know of some home bakers who have installed small deck ovens in their kitchens. "Freshly baked" is a phrase designed to be used by dissemblers, like "all natural" or "no fat".
  14. Thanks for giving me the reason I needed to add croissants to my list, Steve. Hopefully, some experience with the behavior of yeast will give me a leg up. I know that Vol II of Julia's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" has detailed instructions.
  15. Steve and Jin, aren't croissants are made from a dough very similar to puff? When you advocate making fresh croissants, are you supporting a dough made from scratch, or croissants made with a professional grade frozen puff pastry? One day, I'd love to take on croissants and some French pastries (Danish?). But I'm primarily a bread baker, and there are so many challenges on my list... Back to shortcuts, what about freshly made pasta, whether by machine or by hand, as opposed to a packaged product? At home, I will occasionally make elaborate pasta dishes, such as lasagna, from scratch, including handmade pasta, five-hour ragu (which freezes very well), and balsamella. I do this maybe once a year or less as a demonstration for an appreciative guest, because the difference between the scratch product and anything else is so dramatic. Once the ragu is done, it takes me three to five hours to put the dish together. I can't imagine a restaurant doing this cost effectively. When it shows up in a country restaurant in Italy, it's usually because the proprietor's mother made some at home and brought it over.
  16. Thanks for the almond flour tip, Steve. For years Mazal has made a Christmas cookie for which she has always ground almonds. I don't think she's ever been displeased with the result, but I will certainly suggest that she try some with commercial almond flour. I have corresponded with home bakers who grind their own wheat berries, or even take them to a stone mill for grinding, but never one who has grown his own wheat. At home, I have made bagels, soft pretzels, grissini, puff pastry, and lots of other things from scratch just for the hell of it. It's the challenge, the recreation, the therapy that's important. When all the little specialty ingredients, purchased at retail in small quantities are added up, along with my time, a loaf of New York Jewish Rye can be worth a small fortune. Nobody would expect a professional kitchen with a profit motive to do these things without building them into its model from the start, especially when outsourced goods can be of such high quality. A more confounding question is why restaurants will outsource lousy bread. On the subject of risotto, butter is frequently called for to finish the dish. This is not cheating; rather, it is integral to the final product.
  17. There was a restaurant in Venice - I forget the name now - just one guy and, I think, a daughter, who waited the tables, of which there were about a dozen. The house specialty was a pork chop with some sort of vinegar preparation. He was in every guide book in existence. When the last table was taken, he would draw the shade over the glass door. If someone knocked on the door, he would shoo them away. When a table opened up, he lifted the shade until it was taken. Then, shade down again. Lines, crowds; it didn't matter. The guy went about his business at a pace he knew he could handle. List 'em
  18. If this guidebook is anything but an advertising-driven rote list, then it should be included. From a journalistic standpoint, the restaurant has no say in the matter.
  19. Your intellect has no limits, FG. It's just the other side of the brain...
  20. This seems to me to be self-evident. Maybe it's just the case that I share your view of the physical universe. There is this other thing called creativity, though, isn't there? Otherwise, we'd all be cooking Beetons, whatever they are. Is the nature of creativity different from one cuisine to another? Is there anything about its nature that is consistent from one to another?
  21. For reasons far too complicated to relate, Mazal and I chose to have a quick late breakfast/brunch at Sarabeth's on Madison Avenue before going to the Joan Mitchell show at the Whitney (where there is also a Sarabeth's.) The inserted Lunch menu, which listed a smoked salmon dish Mazal wanted, carried a notice that orders would be accepted beginning at 11:00 AM. It was 10:52 when our waitress took our order. She came back to our table with a look that conveyed fear of both the kitchen and the customer, saying "The kitchen will accept your order in eight minutes." We took this with uncharacteristic good humor. Sarabeth's at this hour on a Sunday is pandemonium. At precisely 11:00 AM, she came back to the table to tell us that the kitchen had begun the preparation of Mazal's order, which, btw, required no cooking. Less than two minutes later, it was on the table, along with my French Toast, which had been held under a heat lamp for the interval. (The French Toast, incidentally, was significanly lacking in egg-imparted moisture.) There were at least two other brunch places visible from the door of Sarabeth's. Neither was doing any meaningful business at all, while Sarabeth's had a crowd waiting outside on the street. Must try one of the others next time.
  22. Thanks for reminding me why it matters, FG. I seem to remember people dressing something like that in the sixties. Just for the record, since you brought it up, midnight blue "looks better" for the reason I gave, but we're not going to discuss visual perception here (unless it relates to food), are we? And as for the Italians, well, they're Italian. Who else could still get away with wearing an overcoat draped over the shoulders?
  23. What's a formalwear shop? Midnight blue will reflect more light than dead black, hence its preference for professionals and people for whom being seen in a certain light is important. For statistical purposes, all tuxedos to be seen at your run-of-the-mill affairs are black, and are worn with black shoes, but, I've forgotten why this matters. More interestingly, brown suede shoes with a blue wool suit (so that the textures of the garment and the footwear are compatible), represents an interesting possibility for attire in a restaurant setting, in which fashion can play a part consonant with the surroundings. In business, otoh, black shoes would be expected for the most part. Unless, of course you're British, in which case, options also extend to yellow socks.
  24. Iridescent midnight blue, with a matching blue velvet clip on bow tie and a ruffled shirt with studs with fake sapphires. I got it to wear to a special Paul Revere and the Raiders concert, but I'll put it on for you if you want me to, FG.
  25. Steve, not only should it be considered right to wear black shoes with a tuxedo, it is right. It is right to serve pasta al dente and steak rare or medium rare. But we can't insist that everyone do it. I think, though, that that does it for this particular point.
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