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Everything posted by Artichoke

  1. I just attended a cheese tasting last night that in which I tried the finalists in this years American Cheese Society competition. Some of the best cheeses, including this year's Best of Show, were produced by Syd Cook, of Carr Valley Cheese, in La Valle, WI. This is the link to my notes on the tasting American Cheese Society Finalists
  2. The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan. A wonderful book that reflects the diversity of Israel's cuisine. It also has some beautiful pictures and a good history of the origins of Israeli cuisine. This is the Amazon link The Foods of Israel Today
  3. It is a round peice of metal that you place over your burner. It absorbs and distributes the heat so you can obtain a perfect simmer. This is the one I have Flame Tamer
  4. I am very passionate about (and protective of ) Wusthof knives. Knife preferences are a personal thing, but I realy like the heft of the Wustof. I have an 8 and 10 inch chefs knife, a Santoku and a pairing knife. I love my Le Creuset enamled cookware. I have various sizes and use them for the many braised dishes and daubes that I cook. Lodge cast iron dutch oven. For stews that require the meat to be browned first, cast iron is much more effective than enamel lined pots. The one draw back is that it is harder to determine the color of the fond at the bottom of a black pot as opposed to the white enamel of a Le Creuset pot. All my pots and pans are All-Clad. That sounds expensive, however, I buy them all from Cookware & More, in Flemington, NJ, which is a direct factory outlet for All-Clad. They sell factory irregulars, which amount to nothing more than very minor visual imperfections (small scratches). It is amazing, they are much cheaper than what you would buy at retail (33% off, sometimes more), and the imperfections would occur after one use of a brand new pot or pan. This is the web site Cookware & More Wooden spoons, I have many. Cooking tongs, incredibly useful and versatile, I always have them out. Chinois. I find it essential for straining stocks and sauces. Cheese cloth. Cheap and key for stocks. A flame tamer. It insures that I can get the slghtest simmer for my stocks, stews and soups.
  5. Artichoke


    These are definitely saltier than those canned or jarred in oil, so they need to be soaked, in water or milk and then rinsed. They do have a great flavor, but there are very high quality brands packed in oil that are more widly available now and much less effort. The issue I have is that all the cans of salt packed anchovies I have seen are rather large. I am an anchovy fanatic, but given the prep work of boning and soaking them, it is some times daunting to work through the entire can. I just find the oil packed ones much more convieniant to open and start eating with abandon. The one major advantage of buying the whole salt packed anchovies are the left over skeletons DO NOT THROUGH THESE AWAY! I got a great idea from Colman Andrews book, Catalan Cuisine (a great book by a great writer, Andrews is also the Editor in Chief of Saveur magazine). This is what you do: 1/2 cup milk 2-3 dozen anchovy spines Olive oil 3/4 cup flour Put milk in a small bowl, add anchovy spines, and soak for 30 minutes. Pour olive oil into a cast-iron skillet to a depth of 3/4'' and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Put flour on a plate and dredge spines, shaking off excess flour. Fry spines until deep golden-brown, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. The ultimate snack. I have read about the Japanese frying eel bones as well. As others have mentioned, I love anchovies straight from the jar or can or with roasted peppers. I also love them simply placed on top of melba toast. I often make a salad of raw cauliflower florets broken up and tossed with slightly mashed anchovies, oil cured black olives that I have pitted and crushed slightly, good quality red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper and a small bit of sea salt. Then I just toss it all together and let it sit for 15 - 20 minutes. Delicious. I saw this recipe in Cuisine magazine from New Zealand, I have not made it yet, but it sounds fantastic, it is called Janssen’s Temptation and apparently is a classic Sweedish dish: Peel and coarsely grate 6 medium potatoes. Layer them in a greased baking dish with 12-16 anchovy fillets, two finely sliced onions, freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste (depending on the saltiness of the anchovies). Mix together 300mls of cream and 200mls of milk and pour over the potato. (You can use chicken or vegetable stock if preferred). Bake in a 180ºC oven for 1 hour until golden and bubbly. Here is a nice article from Delia Smith about her trip to Basque country to observe anchovy production. Anchovies in Basque country
  6. The LA Times wrote a piece today on San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace Ferry Building I was there the day before Christmas and had the most sublime oyster experience in my life. As mentioned in the LA Times piece, Hog Island Oyster Company has an oyster bar in the Ferry Building. The space has a nice view of the harbor. The oysters are raised in Tomales Bay, which I believe is only 50 miles from San Francisco and taste as if they were freshly plucked from the water. My favorite was Hog Island's Belon style oyster, which they call French Hogs. They were the single best oyster I have ever eaten. If you like Belons, you will love these. They were unbelievably fresh, tasting of the ocean with a nice metallic finish. The bar also has a very nice selection of white wines, many reasonably priced, to go along with the oysters.
  7. Artichoke


    Eric Asimov of the New York Times wrote an article today on just this topic Sake Takes Its Place by the Reds
  8. I have been very happy with a 24 bottle mini cellar I bought recently for $249.95, from International Wine Accessories 24-bottle mini cellar It is the perfect size for my one bedroom apartment.
  9. Artichoke

    Rare Cooked Pork?

    The CDC list that places pork amongst fox, walrus, horse and wild feline really is bizzare. As for the CDC being any kind of guide as to how to prepare food, it is fine as long as you have no intention of enjoying it. Sunny side up eggs are forbidden ("cook eggs until they are firm and not runny"). Fish is to be cooked until "it is opaque or white and flaky" (ever have a piece of tuna cooked through? I would sooner eat my mouse pad). My favorite however is the CDC's advice on cooking meat "it is done when it is brown inside." There are a lot of countries where I would not eat medium rare pork, then again there are a lot of countries where I would not drink their water or eat their produced un- peeled. As for this country, our pork supply has been safe for some time now. You are much more likely to see cases of e-coli or salmonella than illness reported due to pork consumption
  10. Artichoke

    Rare Cooked Pork?

    Eating pork medium rare is no more risky than eating beef or lamb the same way. It is bad enough that the majority of pork in this country has had the fat and thus the flavor bred out of it, but people still cling to the old rules of cooking it to death. The fact is that the pork produced in the U.S. carry's no higher risk than any other protein we produce. Unfortunately, some people have it so ingrained in their head that pork should be cooked well to medium, that they just cannot get past it. If they could, I believe it would open a whole new world of flavor to them. This is not to say that you should not be able to order something in a restaurant cooked to your liking. I always eat my pork chops medium rare and preffer a thick double chop. There are few meats more flavorful or juicy on its own than a properly raised, well fattened piece of pork cooked medium rare on the bone. Particularly flavorful are some of the heirloom varities that have started to be bred again, like theTamworth and the Ossabaw.
  11. I just ate at Casa Mono recently for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I sat facing the kitchen which added to my experience. I realy like Andy Nusser (the former chef de cuisine at Babbo) as a chef and the ability to watch him that closely in action was a treat. I have never sat at an open kitchen that was that close, if you sitick your arm out you would parcticaly be touching the chef. I have read some complaints that you can walk out of there smelling like the cooking. I did not notice it, but you are close to the action, at one point something coated in smoked paprika hit a hot pan and had me coughing. All part of the fun if you ask me. I had a wide array of dishes. The thing I enjoy most about Nesser's cooking is the fact that it is fairly uncomplicated and utilizes just a few ingredients, experty cooked. I started with a simple deep fried soft shell crab, smaller and denser than what I have been usualy served. Very good and meaty. Then I had Sepia a la Plancha, small cuttle fish cooked on Casa Mono's plancha. These were great, properly charred, tender, served with a salse verde. I was less impressed with the fried anchovies. I love anchovies as well as fried food, but I did not enjoy these. The batter used is thick, similar to what would be used in British fish and chips. That is great on a large piece of plaice or cod, but too thick for the little anchovy. I would have prefered them simply dredged in some flour or corn meal before frying. The sweetbreads were as good as they have been described, certainly one of the best renditions I have had. Deep fried, they come out almost like a popper, the size of a baby's fist. Crisp on the outside, they are juicy and incredibly tender within, with none of the chalky texture that is sometimes present in sweetbreads. A light sprinkling of a grated hard cheese, whose type I do not know, added to the flavor. The tripe was delicious. As I have read on this thread, it is similar in style to a cassoulet. Very tender tripe cooked along with slices of blood sausage and another type of sausage I was unfamilair with, only about the width of a pencil and dense. All of this was coked beneath a thin layer of breadcrumbs. A great dish. Cocks combs were very, very tender, not at all rubbery as I have read in some reviews. They had the texture of very tender cartlidge, like the pad of a chicken foot. They were sweet in their red wine reduction. One of my favorite things of the evening were the simplest item of all. Baby artichokes were tossed in olive oil, cooked on the very hot plancha until a bit charred, then tossed in a bowl with salt, a little lemon juice and whole leaves of fresh mint. The result was simple and spectacular. Mint and artichokes go incredibly well together (something I learned from Lidia Bastianich), the mint accentuating and highlighting the artichokes flavor. The artichokes were just cooked through, maintaining there texture. I had absolutely no room for dessert by meals end and instead opted for what serves as a garnish at Casa Mono. Some dessert plates come served with Spanish Marcona almonds that have been covered in a thick coating of dark, very deep flavored chocolate and then dusted in a light coating of unsweetened cocoa. Perfect with the remaing bit of Spanish Rioja I had and the aged sherry that followed. The almonds are not listed seperately but are definitely worth getting a plate of, they are positively addicting. Despite the fact that the restaurant was packed when I was there, the service was very good and the person in charge of the wine very helpful.
  12. Saveur is the one cooking magazine that I read cover to cover, I think it is the best overall. It is not simply the writing and the subjects covered that are great, but so are the recipes. I have cooked many recipes from Saveur, some are more involved than others, but there are simple ones as well and most importantly, the recipes work. The Saveur cookbooks, French, Italian and American, are a great compilation of recipes from past issues and have the same beautiful photgraphs that are in the magazine. I will second Ms. Victoria's mention of Waitrose Food Illustrated, a beautiful magazine with very good recipes and articles Waitrose Food Illustrated My new favorite cooking magazine is from New Zealand and is called Cuisine. Like Waitrose, it is a very pretty magazine, but I also love the articles and recipes which tend to be so original compared to what you find in magazines like Food & Wine, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. I do not think those magazines would often carry an article such as this one about a favorite ingredient of mine In praise of tripe I think that Cooks Illustrated is overated and there are few people on this Earth that are more annoying, more arrogant or a bigger nerd than Christopher Kimball. I mean Chris, take a look at yourself, what the hell are you so smug about? I would bet he went through very few school days without taking a beating. I cannot bear to watch his show.
  13. Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc. They also own Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones BBQ and one Seasons 52 restaurant. The company's stock performance has suffered due to very poor same-store sales trends at Red Lobster, which has one of the worst sales trends in the entire casual dining industry. Oddly enough Olive Garden's sales trends have been improving. I have never been to one and have no desire to try, but the restaurant does maintain a solid customer base.
  14. A number of years ago the restaurant Etats-Unis spun off a small wine bar directly across the street called Bar @ Etats-Unis (247 East 81st St. Between 2nd and 3rd Aves.). Since it's opening, it has been serving exceptional food in an area of the City which is largely devoid of great dining options. I have eaten at the restaurant on a number of occasions, most recently last night. The menu is eclectic, ranging from duck leg confit, to a lobster club, baked macaroni, traditional fondue made with Gruyere and Appenzaller, Vietnamese beef salad, cured meat and cheese selections, and nightly stew, and fish specials. The wine menu, with many offerings by the glass, spans the globe, although is most heavily concentrated in Spain, Italy, Australia and California. My one complaint about the wine list is that they need to expand the California selections. It is a little known secret that some of the best guacamole in Manhattan is served at Bar @ Etats Unis. This is the result of their hiring a chef who hails from Puebla. The guacamole is made in the traditional mocajete , has no tomatoes and is spiced to your preference. It is served with excellent tortilla chips that are made in house. It is difficult to match guacamole with wine, but the bar serves beer as well. There is a delicious baked macaroni made with aged cheddar and parmesan, cooked in a crock untill it develops a wonderful crust on top. The lobster club is a simple and well executed sandwich served on toasted brioche with large chunks of lobster meat, just the right amount of mayonaise, crisp bacon and bibb lettuce. Last night I started with the soup special. A wonderfuly fresh tasting pea puree soup served hot with a disc of soft goat cheese placed in the middle of the bowl . The combination worked great with the cheese and the soup acheiving the same texture when eaten together. Next I had the special entree for the evening, slow baked tripe. Wow. Served in a crock, the tripe was cooked perfectly along with a mix of carrots and topped with a crust of garlic flavored bread crumbs well bronzed from the oven. The tripe was so soft and unctious, it was exceptional. You must not leave Bar @ Etats-Unis without having the restaurant's choclolate souffle and the warm date pudding served on top of a rum carmel sauce. Both must be ordered at the start of the meal and each are served with freshly made whipped cream. The souffle is rich and molten in the center and has an intense, deep, chocolate flavor, which offsets nicely with the unsweetened whipped cream. The date pudding is one of the best most comforting deserts I have had in the City. Served warm, it is soft, slightly sticky, and the thin pool of rum carmel sauce that covers the plate is good enough to lap up afterwards. The space is small and largely unadorned, which is just as well because this restaurant is all about the food and wine. Bar @ Etata-Unis is serving expertly cooked, uncomplicated food that highlights the few ingrediants that make up each dish, just what cooking should be.
  15. People who say EVOO instead of extra virgin olive oil, seriously, what the hell is that? Rachel Ray is the chief culprit, add it to her long list of annoyances. "Foodie" I loath it when someone refers to me with that term. I am passionate about food, I do not need a label to identify that fact. Plus, it lumps me in with a whole crowd of people who love to prance around with that term on their sleeve and who I would not want to be associated with. "Foam" I never got and I never will. "Fusion" Will that please die already.
  16. That is a great one, it is my favorite part of popcorn. I have always been on the look out for someone who produces those as a snack. Korean markets sell bags of roasted corn kernels that looked very promising when I saw them. They use them to brew a type of tea called oksusucha. However, being simply roasted and with no salt, they are pretty poor as a snack. Some oil and salt are a definite necessity.
  17. 1. The cores of cabbage, cauliflower, and iceberg lettuce 2. Broccoli and artichoke stems (both trimmed of their very fiberous outer shell). 3. I use the oil from jarred or canned anchovies that are packed in olive oil to drizzle over salad or roasted peppers. 3. When a fish is well fried I will eat the tail, fins and most of the head. 4. Fish skin. It drives me crazy when I watch a cooking show and they skin a fish and toss away the skin. The more fatty a fish the better, the skin off a salmon for instance crisps up so nicely in a broiler or high heated oven. 5. OK, this may seem like a weird one, but one time after eating two turkey legs at a sitting I was facing a plateful of tendons. I just rubbed them with a little fat from the pan that I re-heated the legs in, and placed them in the oven until lightly browned. Not terribly filling, but very crunchy with a nice toasted flavor. 6. Any tough cartlidge from the ends of bones or that run through a piece of meat. 7. The skin that forms over the juices left in a pan when roasting meat or fowl. 8. The pockets of fat that pull easily away from a raw duck or chicken. Render that gold. Freeze the fat, and munch on the cracklings.
  18. Artichoke


    I have been to Eli Zabar's Taste (1413 Third Avenue at 80th Street) a number of times for Sunday brunch. I remember reading a NY Times review that had negative things to say about dinner there. It might very well be the case, I have never had a desire to try dinner there, but for brunch I find it to be quite good. I was there this Sunday and had a nice table by the front which opens up to the street. I started with some mixed berries which were very sweet blueberries, strawberries and rasberries. I then just had a simple breakfast of sunny side up eggs, bacon and sliced tomato. However, my friend had ordered the French toast, which I ended up eating about half of. I had never had the French toast at Taste, as I am much more of a savory breakfast type, but this French toast was excellent, and huge. It is described on the menu as an "extra thick slice of buttery challah." I grew up eating challah every Sabbath and it never tasted like this. I would describe it as more of a brioche, but whatever it is, it is delicious. A nice crust on the outside and soft and eggy within. Along with some syrup and a scattering of some of the fresh berries I had ordered, it was fantastic. The basket of Eli's bread that is on the table is always good (the very thin and crisp walnut rasin bread is addicting). I have also enjoyed a number of the omlets, particularly with very soft goat cheese and roasted tomato.
  19. Artichoke


    I went back to Landmarc last week and completed my goal of working my way through all of their offal dishes (I love them all, the liver is my favorite). I had the blood sausage, a heavy dish for this warm weather, but delicious. As has been described in an earlier review on this board, they were "earthy" and very good. I would have liked the sauteed apples that accompanied them to be more caramelized, but that is the only complaint . The french fries that were also on the plate were great as they have been during my previous visits. I was with two other people and we ordered the roasted bone marrow, the sweet breads and the spaghetti carbonara to split between us as appetizers (we were eating light that evening). The sweet breads and the bone marrow I have had before and written about previously, both still excellent. It was the first time I had the carbonara and I loved it. A healthy amount of cracked black pepper, just enough to give a slight undercurrent of heat, and the thick pieces of lardon made the dish. I have never had a steak at Landmarc and tried some of my friend's ribeye. It was a delicious, very tender and flavorful piece of meat, I will be ordering it the next time I go. Since the butter has been discussed recently, let me add that it is greatly improved since my first visit to Landmarc. The butter's temperature has always been good, however, when I first went to Landmarc it was terribly salty. When I was there last week, the butter was unsalted with just a sprinkling of sea salt on top, much better. I am still amazed at how reasonably priced the menu and wine list is. A great addition to our City's dining scene.
  20. I would highly reccomend the Milliken Creek Inn (1815 Silverado Trail). I was there over this past Christmas holiday and had a fantastic time. Nice landscaping, overlooking the Napa river. The style of the inn is British-colonial, brown leather and rattan furniture, khaki and cream walls, fire places in the rooms, my room's four poster bed had a gauze canopy on it. The bedding was extremely nice as was the spa tub. There is a spa on the property although I did not attend. Every evening there is a nice selection of cheese and wines put out as well as ports which are left out throught the day and night. When I inquiered about some good, small, lesser known wineries to visit in the area, the staff gave me some great reccomendations, mapped out my drive for me and called ahaed to let the wineries know I was going to be visiting. I believe that the rooms range from $260-$495, their web site is www.millikencreekinn.com
  21. I really enjoy the sweetbreads at Landmarc (179 west broadway). They have been reviewed a couple a couple of times on these boards. They are served crispy over greenbeans with a light horseradish sauce. On of my favorite dishes as a kid was a sweetbreads dish my mom would make on Fridays for Sabbath dinner. She would simply saute sweetbreads in a pan, add some stock, peas and pearl onions, simmer for a bit and spoon the mixture into the Pepperidge Farms puff pastry shells that are sold frozen in supermarkets. I have had a love for sweetbreads ever since.
  22. Cheerwine, Sundrop, Mr. Pibb, and the half lemonade half ice tea mixture called half and half by some or an Arnold Palmer by others.
  23. Artichoke


    I went back to Landmarc last week and had another memorable meal. I ordered items that have been discused here previously, the roasted bone marrow, sweetbreads and the foie gras terrine. I had not previously had the foie gras, which was very good. The marrow and the sweetbreads I am happy to report are still excellent. I was less happy with what my guest had ordered, the warm goat cheese profiteroles and a roasted bass with fennel, tomatoes and black olives. I found the combination of the profiteroles and the dry goat cheese to be, well, too dry. The bass was too salty. I had my favorite for dessert, the blueberry crumble, the ramekin size is perfect. I think that the best thing about this dessert is that the blueberry is not overly sweet which matches very well with the sweet crumble on top. The service was very good as it has been on my previous two visits and I got seated right away at 8:30 PM on a Thursday evening. I went back to a wine that I first had at Landmarc, the Quintessa 2000 from Napa. It is expensive at $95, yet remarkebly there is no mark up on this bottle and I have actualy seen it sold at retail for slightly higher. If you are in the mood to splurge and like a big California red with incredibly deep berry flavors, this is the one.
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