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Posts posted by monkey2000

  1. I am in total agreement on rumaki. Teryaki and waterchesnut and bacon. Everyone loves food on toothpicks and chicken livers are cheap! Just don't mention liver when passing them to the guests. People like to prejudge.

    Also Lobster Newburg, etc.

    When I was a kid I adored something my mother used to make for company, this wicked broccoli and chicken something called Chicken Divan. May have had velveeta for all I know but it was AWESOME. At least it seemed so 25 years ago.

    I also love those cheeseballs people would make for parties. A mess of cream cheese, cheddar, etc. mixed rolled into a ball and then rolled in chopped nuts and/or herbs. Mom made one for every party.

  2. Hi, Bekki. You will definitely notice a difference using pimenton. It has a very distinctive taste. My grandmother was an amazing cook and when I was growing up in Madrid I relished her cooking. I tried over the years to recreate some of her recipes in the US. Never seemed to work. Until I picked up a tin of pimenton de la Vera at seafood store in Bethesda. I can't explain it any better than to say that I found pimenton was often that thing, that missing something, that flavor that makes her recipes (and those in José's book!) taste right.

  3. So I am off to Croatia for two weeks later this summer and am wondering what to look out for foodwise. And where I should go to eat.

    My reading so far makes it sound like an interesting mix of Greek, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, Slavic and other Eastern European influences. A cured ham called prsjut made me think of prosciutto! Sausages cured with spicy paprika bring to mind chorizo! A strudel like pastry that can be savory or sweet! Cabbages either stuffed or as sauerkraut!

    I am headed to Istria, Split and Dubrovnik and wherever else our wanderings take us along the coast. Any recommendations?

  4. It was horrible in some respects but I confess the place I really miss is Pied de Cochon!

    Started going there in high school. Sometimes we'd skip class and goof off in Georgetown for the day. Or maybe go to the Biograph or Key for a movie followed by Pied de Cochon. We'd order coffee and smoke cigarettes and pretend we were French. Stuck up little teenagers.

    Later, I moved to Georgetown for school and began to go more often. Many late nights ended there with eggs benedict. And many Sunday mornings/afternoons began with the Post and their early bird special.

    I especially loved all the black and white photos of groovy people in the 70's on the wall. There was one photo in particular that always caught my attention. A guy in a fedora and make up, full David Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust days mode. I wonder sometimes what happened to all those photos. And the plaque commemorating some Soviet defector.

    I haven't lived in Georgetown in ages and I almost never make it over there these days. I was very sad to see Pied de Cochon was gone. Thank God Billy Martin's and Cappucino's pizza are still there. What about Fetoosh?

  5. R: Is there any chain restaurant food that you can tolerate?

    A: Well, if I'm stoned, or even semi-stoned, and it's late at night, I don't mind The Colonel every now and again. I think he's evil, but I like his chicken.

    Is this a reference to the Pentavaret?

  6. Easy now with the yuppie bashing. And the class warfare talk. I am an exceedingly underpaid prole who made my home in the neighborhood for years, way before it became so posh.

    And I loved Trio's too. There were many nights I wound up there after too many vodka tonics at Fox & Hounds or Mr. Eagan's. However, my love did not blind me to its ugliness! Admit it. It was, at best, a homely little place.

    As for the argument that the sub sign was some sort of historic landmark well, erm, I miss the sign too but you lost me there.

    Besides, every townie knows the best bad pizza is to be found at Millie & Al's.

  7. I went to Hank's last night with a few friends and it was wonderful. The folks there took a grimy, nasty sub shop and turned it into a beautiful, bright space. The place just has a really nice, laid back, comfortable vibe and a great location within walking distance of my home.

    And the food is fantastic. Simple, clean, bright flavors. To start, our table tried the oysters of the day (two east coast varieties Blue Point and Chedarsomething, and two Pacific varieties Hood Canal? and Hama Hama), the Artichoke and Oyster Dip and the Fried Ipswich Clams. The dip was nice and the oysters especially the Pacific ones got a thumbs up. But the fried clams, ah, the clams they were something else. In a word, perfect. Very lightly floured and quickly fried preserving their texture and flavor. Just a beautiful briny, crisp, hot mouthful. And the accompanying sauce was the perfect creamy, horseradishy pairing for the clams. We fought for every crumb.

    For dinner, we tried the halibut, the bouillabase, the soft shells and the lobster roll. I'm not that crazy about halibut 'cause I think it is kinda blah but this was cooked perfectly and had a nice tomato salsa to give it a little zip. The bouillabase has a generous amount of mussels, clams and scallops and had a nice depth thank to the lobster stock. And plenty of fennel. The only thing I'd do different is serve it with a rouille. I think a good garlicky rouille is essential. The soft shell crabs were two to an order and just quickly pan-fried. No breading. No heavy sauce. Nothing to hide that essential crabby goodness. A few summers back, I went to Maine for a week and couldn't believe how cheap the lobsters were. I devoured lobster rolls like a madwoman. This was better than anything I had in Maine. The lobster roll was overflowing with big chunks of lobster (both claw and tail), studded with celery and lightly bound with mayo. And the bun bore marks from the grill. Love that.

    No desserts yet but I strongly suggested to the serve that they add a lemon tart or perhaps a summer berry trifle layered with lemon curd. Anything lemony.

    Only beer and wine for the moment but my feeling is that a cold beer is the best pairing with Hank's simple, beach-inspired seafood anyway so I didn't miss the booze.

    The only thing I would change is the oyster bar itself. It is a bit, err, bijoux. Really small. After all, the place is called Hank's Oyster Bar and I think it would make more sense to make that a more prominent feature. Maybe place it in the window a la J.Paul's. Dunno. Just my $.02.

    Anyway, go. It's good.

  8. Sandwiches I luv that make people cringe. The titles come from actual comments from family, friends, roommates and SOs:

    The "I Thought They Only Sold That Stuff In Gas Stations and Camp Stores" -- on white bread lightly buttered, equal parts Underwood's deviled ham spread (critical) and yellow mustard, sliced radishes and bread butter pickles;

    The "Ramen is A Soup" -- cook a batch of chicken ramen noodles and drain them before mixing in the spice packet. The noodles should be a little moist. Mix in some Kraft Parmesan or American cheese. Serve on buttered white bread.

    The "Not As Bad As I Imagined" -- on pumpernickel or other dark bread lightly buttered, loads of cheap liverwurst with bread and butter pickle and slice of American cheese or in a pinch some sharp cheddar;

    The "There's Olive Oil Dripping Down Your Arm, Loser" -- on a crusty baguette or similar, green peppers that I've fried in olive oil until they blister or get a little charred and copious amounts of salt. No butter needed because of the large amount of olive oil.

    The "Frugality Has Its Limits" -- after making a batch of potstickers and getting sick of rolling out wrappers, stuffing and steaming, reserve the leftover filling. The next day, fry up some of your potsticker filling and fill a kaiser roll or other bun. If you have some cabbage, fry it up and top it off.

    The "Aw, Jeesuschrist, You Can't Be Serious" -- on any bread lightly buttered, cold leftover spaghetti with meat sauce. It has to be the old school kind my mom used to make in the '70s with Hunt's tomatoes and tomato paste, ground beef, onions and bay leaf, straight from the fridge and heaped on the bread with a generous sprinkling of Kraft Parmesan from the green can. Mmmm, mmmm, good.

  9. Does anyone have any thoughts on the StarChef site, www.starchef.net?

    I have been playing it and while it seems a little heavy for our purposes, it might work.

    Before I commit to anything, I'm wondering if there is a better solution. Is the software better? I toyed with the idea of creating a database of our own but it was rapidly getting out of control.

    Ideally, we want to:

    * create a recipe book for all our stores

    * allow employees to access the recipe book from all our stores (probably via web interface)

    * control employee access to the recipe book (some can edit, some can only read, some can't do either)

    * search for recipes by ingredient, technique, etc.

    * link recipes to images of the recipes

    Any advice or insight would be much appreciated.

  10. I don't really think of myself as a generous tipper. I tend to leave 20% minimum and more if the service is outstanding, sometimes 100%. I figure it’s a tough job, even tougher to do it well, and these people live on tips. After all, how well would any of us do if our salary was pegged to performance? And not an overall, averaged out performance but broken down by the hour, by every work-related interaction? However, from time to time, I am reminded not everyone is inclined to tip the same way.

    I've got great friends, good people, who think 15% is what you leave for stellar service and scold me for leaving a penny more. Or leave five bucks when we've been comped for $50 worth of cocktails. And then there are those who calculate the tip without tax AND forget to add the tax back to the final bill "Let's see it was $100 before tax so let's leave $115," not realizing what they've done is force the server to cover the tax out of that $15 tip.

    Some people I’ve observed are downright punitive in their tipping practices. It is usually when I dine with someone who is not part of the restaurant industry or has never, not once, not even for a week before hating it and quitting, served drinks, waited tables or worked in a kitchen. These are the customers who are unhappy with the food and want to punish the server, the ones want to punish the server for being "rude" when not chatty enough or "overly familiar" when less reserved, the ones who want to punish the server if the food took longer than they expected, and so on. And God help you if the server makes an actual mistake or spills a drink.

    Others act as if they have a license to abuse the staff by virtue of sitting their ass in the dining room. One friend actually said to a runner who had the misfortune of bringing his appetizer with the entrees "That just cost you your tip." The server rushed over to see what was the matter and when I pointed out that it could easily have been a kitchen error, he said to the server "Well, then you tell the kitchen they just cost you your tip." I thought she was going to burst into tears. And I was mortified.

    Perhaps, the best, the worst?, incident happened at a seafood place in Florida with a few friends. Two of the girls deemed the server an incompetent bitch and decided to leave nothing, not a cent. The rest of us tipped 15% on our share. One of the non-tippers argued with us vigorously, trying to convince us to leave nothing. I thought “She sucked but wasn't appallingly bad and WTF it’s a seafood restaurant at the beach, what do you want?” The server said nothing.

    We then stuck around and got hammered at the bar. Emboldened by our obvious drunkenness, the server chose to confront us as we left. What did the loudest advocate of a zero tipping policy say? Well, she chose not to share her critique of the server’s performance and simply walked away leaving the rest of us to deal with the angry server. The server got her revenge later and double charged the loudmouth’s credit card. (The rest of us had left cash.) For the record, I am no fan of credit card fraud or any felony for that matter but in this case, I understand.

  11. Wow! Look at the discussion this sparked!

    We use comales de barro at Oyamel www.oyamel.com to make our tortillas. Its something of a draw for the diners. They enjoy sitting at the taco bar and watching several cooks making tortillas by hand using traditional comales over fire. The taco bar itself is our mod version of a traditional Mexican kitchen. We do this every day, all day long, with no serious problems.

    Thanks for all the advice and insight!

  12. I'm hoping someone out there can help me.

    I desperately need to purchase a comal de barro, the traditional Mexican clay griddle, but am having little success in my search. Most places appear to carry the cast iron type of comal only. Does anyone know of a source I might try in the US?

    Thanks in advance.

  13. My colleagues at Café asked me to pass this along:

    Thank you for taking the time to express your dissatisfaction with your recent evening at Café Atlantico. We apologize that the experience failed to meet your expectations.

    There was a snow storm earlier on the evening in question and we had been inundated with cancellations. It was threatening to snow again so we had to make a decision about closing and sending our employees home early. At the same time, we didn’t want to disappoint any customers so we took extra care to confirm every reservation on the books. In this instance, there were two reservations with very similar names and there was some confusion. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

    That said, we want you to know that at Café Atlantico we take your comments very seriously. We recognize that it is only by examining and analyzing where we go wrong that we can have any hope of doing it right. The type of feedback you provided helps us become better.

    We hope you will choose to be our guest again at Café Atlantico. We promise to do better next time.


    Jimmy Pumarol

    General Manager

    Café Atlantico

  14. Growing up in Madrid, I learned there is nothing better than a crisp churro with a cup of thick, rich, not overly sweet chocolate. However, Churreria Madrid just breaks my heart.

    Their churros are wonderful when freshmade. Crisp little curclicues of deep-fried heaven, lightly sugared. Bliss. Unfortunately, they have a nasty habit of giving you old ones from time to time! C'mon guys! Its fried dough! It costs you pennies! Cook them to order!

    I gave up on their chocolate a long time ago. They were serving a watery chocolate! I suspect it was Swiss Miss! Real Spanish hot chocolate should be thick and rich so that it clings to the churro without destroying the texture. It should really be like a hot chocolate pudding. (Just kidding. That would be gross. Kinda.) Churreria's watery stuff just makes the churros mushy.

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