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Everything posted by Deacon

  1. What jordyn said. A fifteen-minute wait is just a fifteen-minute wait no matter which side you're on, and shouldn't be an evening-ruiner either way. No, I was really referring to either the infamous "we've lost your reservation" (in which case you should get your meals comped if you stay or get cash to eat down the block) or the "please wait in our bar for an hour and buy our overpriced drinks" (in which case you should at least get the drinks for free for as long as they make you wait). That's the restaurant's down side for having a policy of charging your card if you're the irresponsible one. And I'm only talking about places that charge your credit card if you don't show. They must hold themselves to a higher standard if they are going to hold you to one. If you're a no-show, they're out the money they would've made on your table. If they screw up, you've made reservations and plans for the evening and coordinated with your friends and then had your plans ruined. Why shouldn't the restaurant be liable for their actions if they expect you to be liable for yours?
  2. Consideration for the other side has to be a two-way street. I always call to cancel when I can't make it. But what about those places that insist upon a credit card so they can bill you if you don't show? Shouldn't they give your party free meals (or the same amount in cash) if THEY don't honor the reservation? If they claim the right to bill your card if you don't show, they should also GIVE YOU YOUR MEALS if THEY renege on their promises to YOU. Fair is fair.
  3. Not so. The French and Swiss governments do exactly this. I didn't know about the French and the Swiss. And I had forgotten, in my earlier post, that in summer and in winter many otherwise-expensive NYC restaurants offer three or four course meals for the year in pennies ($20.03 this year). That amounts to a partial scholarship for those who want to become well-versed in fine dining.
  4. What kind of wine goes with durian?
  5. Deacon


    Sometimes "upselling" is an invitation to friendly haggling. In the case of the hotel room mentioned earlier, say that it's late in the evening. The staff are not in a favorable position to foist an upgrade upon you, but you (because of the time) are in a great position to get a better room (downbuying?). Since the better rooms are going to be going vacant, now could be the time to ask for a free upgrade, or simply a reduction in price. They can hardly object to your haggling, since earlier in the day, when they had favorable positioning, they were willing to upsell you themselves. The customer is usually at a major disadvantage as far as haggling goes, since the hotel/restaurant/whatever has all the information and you have none. If you're dealing with a salesman who needs just one more sale to get that reward incentive, you have the advantage, but most of the time a customer doesn't, and can't, know about it. And certainly the business has no incentive to tell him. The business about the guy on the speaker at the drive-through who asks if you'd "like to try a brownie/hot apple pie/new expensive sandwich today" etc. etc. before you've even said a word--well, that's just irritating. It just raises my ire unnecessarily, and you'd think raising a customer's ire would not be a desirable thing. One of these days, I'm going to start the conversation with "no, I don't want a hot apple pie."
  6. Deacon

    Michelob Ultra

    Instead of two mediocre light beers (toward the goal of not gaining any weight) why not instead drink one really good beer and one really good glass of water? Same amount of calories. . . .
  7. Nothing so gauche as a quantity-driven contest. We're all highly literate here. The eGullet eating contest would be quality-driven, and a marathon, not a sprint. The contestants would go to various restaurants in New York and would be served without seeing a menu. They would then sample the various dishes and provide concise guesses as to exactly what they were eating: techniques, ingredients, etc. This process would be repeated in other restaurants over a period of three weeks. Whoever provides the best, most entertaining dining summaries would win. I predict a three-way final championship among Shaw, Bux, and Cabrales. . . .
  8. Not food: How Great Generals Win by Bevin Alexander.
  9. One can be "well-read" for very little money: there are plenty of used bookstores where a person can buy the great works of literature, history, philosophy, etc. very cheaply. A person can go to a museum on a "free admission" day, buy secondhand recordings of symphonic music, and see free performances of Shakespeare. You can be an autodidact for very little in money, although it's still a time-intensive door to a classical education. However, I don't think there will ever be a comparable approach to being "well-dined" as opposed to "well-read." Everyone's self-educated in this hobby, and eating at places like ADNY and Daniel is expensive. Trips to Europe are even more expensive. No one's giving out gourmet food to educate the masses. Yet.
  10. I'm surprised he didn't get suspicious about the limes, right there next to the salt shaker. Of course, you could always say they were there "to prevent scurvy."
  11. I get the best results opening beers when I use someone else's teeth. Next: opening a beer bottle with a barometer!
  12. Patron Anejo was what I cut my teeth on when I decided to learn about premium tequila. I was advised to chill it in the freezer--I don't know about that, though, seems chilling would dampen the flavors immensely. . . .
  13. The DC in the B-T *was* quite hypnotic. The guy could've sold me dirt. He was just so darn enthusiastic. Same as the current "Billy Mays here, to sell you this Wonderful New Cheap Crap You Don't Really Need!!! But WAIT!!! If you call NOW, right NOW, in the NEXT FIVE MINUTES, we'll sell you Twice As Much Cheap Crap for the same LOW, LOW price!!! Call now!!!" Mays EXUDES sincerity, which is just the problem. The patent-medicine salesmen are getting smarter, so everyone else has to get smarter to stay even with them.
  14. It's your avatar. Chicks dig the avatar.
  15. With two AB's on Food Network (Alton Brown and Anthony Bourdain) we'd better find a way of distinguishing them. Just initials isn't specific enough.
  16. Another thing I like about Bourdain is that his weary cynicism actually works to give him credibility. On the rare occasions when he does express unabashed pleasure and admiration over something, you can be sure it is heartfelt. That is the direct opposite of such maniacal travel cheerleaders as, say, that annoyingly chipper woman who does "$40-a-Day" or Samantha Brown on "Great Hotels" on the Travel Channel. When EVERYTHING generates a big grin, it becomes tiresome and monotonous.
  17. Oh, I wasn't meaning to disparage St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix, Dallas, etc. etc. That was my point exactly: that the restaurants are there, just not in as great a number as in the Northeast, because the population in the middle of the country isn't dense enough to support as many restaurants.
  18. Yes, there is a strong bias in favor of the margins of the country: NE, NYC, NJ, Penn, DelMarVa, CA, and PacNW (plus HI & AK). The other 85% of the country is charitably included as either "Other" or "South Other." ("The Heartland"--you can tell they find that term amusing: "It's a breadbasket, all right--with only one kind of bread, har-har.") Demographically, the only reason that the Northeast supports a lot of restaurants is because of the population density. Once upon a time, as late as 1973, Gourmet covered only NYC because there weren't any other cities populous enough to support that many gourmet restaurants. As the population of the US grows, and more and more cities reach "critical mass," more and more cities start accumulating gourmets and gourmet restaurants. NYC has more because the East Coast started first. Judging from Gourmet, you'd think the only places in the US where you can get gourmet food are still NYC and California. To be fair, though, there are vast stretches between Lake Tahoe and Pittsburgh where the gourmet opportunities are decidedly sparse. But they're there--you just have to look harder for them. Anybody can find a good place to eat in NYC, but it takes a dedicated foodie to find a good place to eat in South Dakota.
  19. Sounds like The Amazing Race, only with better food and no million-dollar prize waiting at the end. ("I can't understand it! Tony said something about 'going to get some mangoes' and we haven't seen him since. . . .") foodie52: Hey, EVERYBODY on FoodTV cooks. Very few of them go out and put their asses in mortal jeopardy for everyone's amusement. Cut the man some slack. I'm trying to picture what kind of result I'd get if I could make Bourdain swap shows for a few weeks with Dave Attell from "Insomniac" on Comedy Central. The two shows have more than a few similarities, and I think Bourdain and Attell would get along well.
  20. Not as Trotter, as Emeril! Can a sit-com be far behind: KELLER! Soon to appear on CBS, right after BECKER.
  21. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Would Chez Panisse have achieved its prominence (especially in Berkeley) if it had been called "The John Birch Society Cafe"? Or "Hitler's Hideaway"? How about "Strom Thurmond's House of Chicken and Ribs"? Definitely not! Well, maybe in Orange County. . . .
  22. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Are you saying Chez Panisse's place at #1 was motivated by political correctness, equating it with Halle Berry winning the Best Actress Oscar? Maybe you'd have a point--in both cases. I wouldn't rate Chez Panisse #1 myself, nor would I have given Halle Berry an Oscar. But there are some who'd be afraid not to, for fear of being accused of being "not liberal enough." Politics rears its ugly rear in every field.
  23. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Gee, I'd hate to see how you treat people you're NOT pandering to. One of the virtues of not coming up with a list is that no one can criticize your choices. Which makes Gourmet courageous in that respect. Of course, one of their motives is to intentionally CREATE controversy in order to sell magazines. Which in turn affects the list. There should be a thread for everybody's idea of the best 50 here, but it would draw so many posts it would unbalance the rest of the site. In any case, in the absence of a fair target, I shall continue my target practice at the first available scarecrow. How about a little fire, Shaw? I'm just here to complain about other people's lists. -- Okay, but how many of the fifty mentioned have you been to? If the only proper criterion is food, and rep is irrelevant, you need to go to Highlands in order to say "Highlands doesn't deserve to be #5."
  24. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    If you analyze Shaw's comments solely from the point-of-view of someone who has a very pure view of the top 50 restaurants in the country, someone who's vision focuses solely on any given restaurant as it exists now, with history and longevity not as factors, then his comments are much more reasonable than they seemed at first. But Shaw has a luxury that the editors of Gourmet don't have: he doesn't have to pander to a clientele, if you want to call it pandering. He can afford a certain ideological purity by excluding factors that they can't afford to ignore. They just have more variables to consider, that's all. Not that there's anything better or worse about that, it just means that their criteria for inclusion and placement are different than his. So, Shaw, what's your list? I'd like to hear your top 50, for purposes of comparison.
  25. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Maybe you could modify the little eGullet dancing guy so that he's appearing to wear a hat, too.
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