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Everything posted by jhlurie

  1. That's always been my feeling. Rat with a fuzzy tail ← It's funny. I've always heard people claim that and ever quite believed it. But apparently they ARE actually rodents (click me for Wikipedia entry!). The same Order as rats (Rodentia), although a different Family. If you truly hate squirrels, you can perhaps indulge in a bit of "Squirrel Fishing".
  2. Shrimp glue? Wouldn't it be shrimp paste?
  3. I second Jason's suggestion: Pierre Ferrand Ambre. The best everyday cognac I've ever come across. I've found it cheaper than the $40 figure Jason mentioned, although I don't know if ever quite as cheap as the $25 you are asking for. Maybe $32 or $33 for 750ml.
  4. Heh. Everytime I pass by the Bendix diner (a very famous greasy spoon, featuring among other things, a blind waiter who's worked there for many years), in New Jersey, there's a different letter burnt out on their neon sign. I wonder how that affects what people call it. Click for fancy artwork of Bendix, curiously with all of the neon letters successfully lit: http://www.art.com/asp/sp-asp/_/pd--100550...endix_Diner.htm
  5. Seeing as how it's a bit past 2004, I'm going to lock this topic. Talking in 2005 about best meals in 2004 makes sense. In 2006? Well, someone can make a 2005 version of this topic if they need it.
  6. jhlurie

    Jones Sodas

    I'm glad to hear this one tastes better than the last set of holiday sodas, bur frankly I think the whole idea of these sodas has gotten out of hand. They just can't make them cheap enough to be worth buying, so nobody buys them, and they just wind up (still too expensive) on the discount rack after the holiday is over. For holiday candy varieties? That seems to work. Soda? Not so well.
  7. I'm going to give a (mostly unnecessary) caution about sticking to food related stories. You guys are doing great, but I have to at least say it. My grandparents as a group were a study in contrasts. My maternal grandmother was an avid cook, of the most stereotypical "Jewish grandmother" kind, and every social occasion was draped in chicken schmaltz and full bellies. My maternal grandfather couldn't even boil water, but it wasn't an issue in that household. Furthermore, at least half of his life he had dietary restrictions (high blood pressure, divoticulosis, and later on diabetes), so there was a constant tension in that household between the boiled chicken on his plate and whatever grandma was making for everyone else. Sugar free candies battled for space with the sugared ones left out for the grandkids. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the extended family, we had the non-stereotypical Jewish grandmother. My paternal grandmother theoretically could cook, but my understanding from my father is that it was strictly an exercise in fueling bodies. By the time of my childhood, with all of her own children long out of the house, the pretense was left far behind. What they ate when I wasn't around I have no idea, but the introduction of the grandkids into the household meant lots of restaurant visits, and I could swear my grandmother had to have singly-handedly driven the concept of supermarkets carrying pre-packaged prepared foods, because I can easily recall having it in her household in the late 1970s. My paternal grandfather was incredibly robust and healthy for the majority of his life, and puzzlingly in a household with no cooks really relished his food. It always struck me as somewhat ironic that my maternal grandfather lived in a household where good food was there for the taking, but due to his health he couldn't really take it, whereas my paternal grandfather had to find culinary joy in lesser things. He could rhapsodize about a particularly nice apple. Sit him in front of a nice bowl of oatmeal and he'd find some joy. There were other quirks as well. Grandma Shirley, my mother's mother, always had a bowl of grapes at the ready. ALWAYS. I have to tell you that for many years of my early adulthood I steered clear of grapes simply because of over-consumption during my childhood. Sam, her husband--he of the enforced boiled chicken meals--listened to talk radio or watched sports CONSTANTLY when he ate, short of a large family party where he couldn't get away with it. I have to conclude that maybe the distraction helped the boiled chicken go down a bit better. Also, if no outsiders were present, that belt of his would always be open, and while he rarely expelled gas publicly, you could always kind of hear him fighting it. In private he'd have no compunctions about gas expulsion, but luckily it was always from the mouth. Grandma Estelle, my father's mother, frequently made a point of how she didn't dislike ANY kind of food. It was a point of pride for the woman who couldn't really cook that she'd eat pretty much anything (still is, actually, she's the only of my grandparents who is still alive). Since I was a bit of a picky eater growing up, she was often puzzled by that aspect of me, but accommodated as well as she was able. Arthur, her husband, was as I've already mentioned, a man who easily expressed his enjoyment of a meal. He had some other peculiarities. For one thing, he mixed soda. This was mostly in the days before self-serve fast food soda fountains existed, so what he used to do was actually ASK restaurant staff for "half coke and half orange", or better yet he'd drink part of his own soda and then "borrow" some of yours to mix into his own. He also made his own applesauce. When the tree outside made enough apples he'd use that, but usually he just bought a bunch at market. He'd also order or make "half coffee/half water"--he never had it at full stregnth. Finally, he LOVED malted milk powder. He'd use ANY excuse to make ice cream shakes for the grandkids and then he'd dump a ton of malted powder in and consume at least half the conconction himself. Despite being very different types of people, both sets of grandparents lived in Queens, New York, for most of my childhood. One strange little thing which bound them together was Hoffman's soda. You see, in Queens during those years (basically, the 1970s) people didn't just bop on over the supermarket for a twelve pack of Diet Pepsi cans and some two liter bottles of Mountain Dew. When you were in a restaurant, you drank Dr. Brown's soda, or yes, Coke and the other popular brands. Otherwise? You had your local soda distributor deliver cases of Hoffman's soda. Hoffman's could be ordered in cases of 16 ounce glass bottles, but nobody I knew bothered. It was cheaper to get a case of 32 ounce glass bottles instead. You had a standard order you could call up and tweak, but there was plenty of room to be flexible since they'd fill the case with any mix of flavors you wanted. The empty glass bottles were gathered up and returned with the empty case a few weeks later, and were washed and reused. You'd never know who had your bottles before you, but those were less complicated days and really it wasn't an issue. Of course that was a little universe who's bubble was easily burst, as 8-track tapes went out of use, and my paternal grandparents sold their house in the Whitestone district of Queens and moved (gasp!) to New Jersey. Life was never quite the same. My maternal grandparents stayed in their little apartment in Bayside (which was only a few miles away from Whitestone but quite different), but somewhere along the way they stopped buying Hoffman's. Maybe it was the increasing dominance of the Coke and Pepsi brands everywhere else in the universe, maybe Hoffman's stopped delivery service--I really can't recall. Within a few years, as everywhere else, Diet soda dominated anyway, and Hoffman's couldn't have survived that anyway.
  8. I'm with Marlene -- I'm not eating any more, and there hasn't been a marked difference in the taste of things, but my sense of smell has picked up considerably. And yes, salt and crunch have taken center stage. ← A little basic research shows some articles out there which say that smoking does two things to taste buds: inhibits their function, and kills them outright. Taste buds apparently regenerate every few weeks. As people age though the number of functional taste buds goes down from approximately 10,000 to about half that. Smoking apparently retards that even further. So any "recovery" of taste you guys are feeling now would, in fact, have to be mostly olfactary, and only partially due to some previously inhibited taste buds recovering. But in a few weeks, when new tastebuds grow, it should be even more dramatic. I guess it won't be in time to be reported in this blog, but perhaps you guys can post some special final update elsewhere after the fact.
  9. Plus the extra benefit of all those better functioning taste buds! It seems a bit weird to say that reading a blog like this has been enjoyable, but it has been.
  10. ← Website for Uncle Jo's, which includes the menu, phone and address info: http://www.unclejoschicken.com/ Contact info for CiA do Sanduiche: http://www.insiderpages.com/profiles/CiaDo...QtyS3LsTimhH3w/
  11. I know! These little secret places in and around Englewood are always interesting, but this one was a real shocker to me too. Although Mr. Jun's english is only so-so, if you can get by that barrier you are left speaking to a VERY well educated man too. He's a fascinating guy, and I hope he's willing to give you a more formal tour at some point, Jay.
  12. I was by Amazing last week and have to say... Until I visited and tried the thing I didn't quite "get" it. Now I've lived in NJ for many years--a mere mile or so from Callahan's/Hiram's --so I understand the impact of a good hot dog on local culture. It's much more than mere interchangable fast food. It's a meal as often as a snack here, and ideally they shouldn't all taste alike. That said, I still didn't understand what the big deal was with one more new hot dog place... But Amazing Hot Dog blows away all boundries, I think. First, there's the deep fried thing. I've not been a frequent attendee at places like Rutt's Hutt, but I get the idea. At least I thought I did before now. The addition of the bacon wrapping on the Amazing variants is genius. Sure, they aren't going to make any friends at Weight Watchers, but so what? The variations I saw of toppings is the most impressive part of all of this. The cream cheese? Absolute genius. The BBQ baked beans are pretty good too. The Chipotle Sambal is wonderful, and I think ends the idea of ever using something as humdrum as ketchup. The fries are very good. Not the best I've ever tasted, but close enough that they are well worth buying. I rate Amazing in the same class as my favorite hamburger place, CiA do Sanduiche, in Cliffside Park. There's a way to present these old "snacky" fast-food items as truly original, worthy of travel between towns as full meals, and memorable, and both of these places do this, with hot dogs and hamburgers respectively. Has the limeade been commented on yet? I quite enjoyed it, since they wisely made sure it wasn't overly sweet.
  13. I missed out on these a few years back, when I was in N.O., but Our Noble Founder gifted me with one after his last visit. Even a few days old and slightly squashed it kicked ass. Beef tallow rules!
  14. I used to enjoy this place quite a bit, but I've pretty much entirely given it up for Minado, in nearby Little Ferry (although there are other locations, which reportedly are as good, or even better)--at least in the category of "mass quantity" sushi, as opposed to the really good stuff.
  15. Well the kinks don't appear to be in the menu, they appear to be in the service department. Sometimes that's easy to fix, but sometimes it just never happens (I'll use their very close Montclair neighbor Little Saigon as an example of a place where the food rocks, but the service hasn't gotten one iota better, despite more than a year of complaints),
  16. I have to disagree with Curlz, which is unusual. I visited Noodle Central last night and loved most of the experience. The service was the weak point admittedly, but the food rocked. The worst? We waited about 5 minutes by the door to be noticed and seated. This was AFTER I'd already poked my head in about 5 minutes earlier to read the menu, and was ignored for the 2 or 3 minutes I was in the lobby area doing that. Water refill service was okay, if not excellent during the meal and we had no mistakes in our order. Yes, we also had to locate our waitress once or twice, but when she realized we were getting annoyed she stuck close to the table. The food, though, was both original and well done. While the selection is overwhelmingly standard comfort foods, the actual execution featured little tweaks which set them apart from the same items elsewhere. Yes, the Pad Thai was spicy, but it was fresh and vibrant, with huge shrimp as well. This is hardly the first Pad Thai I've had this way, although I agree that it's uncommon. On the appetizer side, we tried both the gyoza and the scallion pancake, and both were as good as I've ever had. The pancake in particular, because it was light and fluffy and not greasy in the slightest (a problem with most scallion pancakes). I was also pleased with the Mixed Green Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing--a relatively light dressing and a large quantity of very high quality greens for the price ($5). The Seafood Linguini Sauce Rosee was interesting--a kind of east meets west dish. The "Linguini" seemed to actually be some kind of udon noodle, topped with mussels in a red clam sauce. One really interesting thing about the menu is that price-wise it's (deliberately) all over the place. You can get a Vietnamese Pho, or a Japanese Tonkatsu and Ramen soup for $6, or on the other end you can get a Duck Whole breast with Coconut Curry sauce for $19. Admittedly this was a first visit, and we only tried half a dozen items, but we felt they batted 100% on what we ordered.
  17. Which town? Now I DO have to comment that while I'm actually reasonably appreciative of WFs prepared foods, I'm a bit surprised that there's an area where no smaller local business exceeds them. I'm not saying this is an either/or in terms of where we should shop, because WF has the extra convenience factor of being combinable with your other foods shopping (and may also be the only place around which serves something like pulled pork, for example), but I'm just curious if they DO have that monopoly on convenient take-away excellence in your area? I mean obviously EVERY town has some portion of lame interchangeable chinese take-outs and a sandwich shop or two, and in those cases something like WF is probably a godsend.
  18. The current discussion is probably a bit too twisted up for us to cleanly extraxt these posts elsewhere, but if one of you lovely posters feels they have enough to say to start a new thread based around these err... Red Hatters, then please do so. It does seem like a totally different vibe than that of a pack of somewhat drunk 20-somethings. But please stick to food-related stories, of course, if you do so--the group is interesting, but we need that connection for it to be on-topic here. Jack... I thought it was just a Linux distro too.
  19. The latest scoop on this place is that they've been stating that the sangria issue will soon be cleared up. Since they can't change the law (that only full bottles can be served if all you have is a wine license) I'm not sure how that will work. Frankly I don't believe it, but I know two different people who've gone into the restaurant and asked recently. It's too bad that decent sangria has to sit after being mixed (usually chilled overnight, so the booze gets in the fruit and the fruit gets in the booze). It completely kills the solution that people could simply bring their own wine and hand it over to the restaurant. Montclair has something like a dozen real liquor licenses, so obviously THAT'S not a solution. I forget... do we have a thread somewhere on how corrupt and screwed up the whole NJ liquor license thing is?
  20. While most of us don't usually resort to takeout in a town we don't live in, I think it might serve as kind of a nice long term reference thread for us to list the best takeout food in towns that we are intimately familiar with. It doesn't literally have to be the town you live in, but it does have to be a town you know well enough to state that your selection is the best in that town. The restaurant can also do table service, but if so takeout must be a major part of their operation and not some afterthought handled by some third party delivery service. I'll start with Cliffside Park (located in the extreme southern part of Bergen County), where I currently live. The two best takeout places are probably Uncle Jo's Fried Chicken and CiA do Sanduiche (a brazilian hamburger joint). Yup, old fashioned hamburgers and chicken lead the pack in this town, at least for takeout.
  21. Is the martini essential? The other things you mention could all be satisfied by a good pub, providing you can find one.
  22. It's funny that you bring up this tasty treat. I was introduced to it at the SFA Conference in Oxford, MS this year during a dinner at Taylor Grocery. It was Halloween, and it was a sugar conference, so everyone was instructed to bring local candy. And they did. Those Valomilk things were great, but Mary Beth Lassiter (the real power in the SFA, and don't you forget it, buddy) told me this really strange story about Valomilk. She called the guy to get some and he wouldn't ship them by air, at all, as he claimed that it ruined the candy-that it broke down somehow. Now I considered this to be total crap, but a good story and forgot about it. BUT THEN I got off a plane a couple of weeks ago and was unpacking my bag and found what else but a completely deflated and kind of gross package of Valomilk that I had apparently left in my bag during my trip (the thing was full of candy when I left as, well, they were just giving the stuff away and I hate to disappoint-free Goo-Goo's anyone?). Could this possibly be a true thing, this Valomilk doesn't fly well thing? I called the guy and he swears up and down that this is true, but I am still not convinced. I have several more packages and I am going to try to mess up my bag a couple of times in January. ← I suppose the next logical step is to try and fly with them in a pressure sealed canister of some type! (vacuum sealing may not be enough...)
  23. I've noticed that not many people above go through the step of squeezing the excess water out of their potatoes (through paper towels, or better yet some kind of cheesecloth) instead of merely draining them. Is there any thought on this? I've noticed a much better result when doing so--the resulting product is much lighter and fluffier.
  24. jhlurie

    table 8

    Shows how little I know.
  25. Obviously it was my visit a while back which sparked him to make a change...
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