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Everything posted by jaypm51

  1. If your local wine merchant does not have the latest PR, WS, Tanzer or Burghound (the latter only in an advanced knowledge merchant) score on shelf talkers or quickly available the majority of the wine buying public will think that they know nothing about wine. A wine merchant that recommends from having tasted and studied the wines he or she sells is considered an oddity. True! But a knowledgeable wine merchant can both post the "shelf talkers" and then recommend others wines of comparable quality for far lower cost. This won't tempt the collectors but should and could have an impact on the serious consumer. I buy from a few very reputable dealers who often do this out of concern and respect for their customers.
  2. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. A better solution would be to send French winemakers a message by not buying their wines at absurdly high price points. There's simply too much good wine out there to be stuck with buying a label or a rating. After one or two vintages sitting on inventory, French winemakers might reconsider their pricing policies. Problem is, even under those circumstances, its probably not likely.
  3. Tripe, which I love, is more about texture than intrinsic flavor. Therefore to protect what little flavor it has is important. It is also extremely versatile in that it relies heavily on the ingredients with which it is cooked for most of its flavor. I prefer a classic French preparation where the tripe is long cooked in the oven at low temperature in a covered or sealed pot, with enough liquid and vegetables (fundamentally carrots, onions and garlic) to create a rich and flovorfull sauce. Unless you know the tripe to be very fresh (I like honeycomb) soak it in cold water for several hours. Do not blanch or parboil or you will remove what little flavor there is in the tripe. Prior to cooking, the tripe should be cut into small squares or strips, 1 - 1 1/2 inches or so. Veggies should be thinly sliced or cut into medium dice. Flavor with a bouquet garni and salt and pepper. Before serving, add some white wine, reduced with shallots, and and finish on stovetop over medium heat while adjusting the seasonings. I also add cow or calf's foot to the pot as well which helps to richen and smooth the sauce.
  4. Whole Foods downtown, for sure. Can generally count on very good quality and freshness.
  5. Kris, Hiroyuki, Thanks for the info and the links. Very informative. Will be visiting NYC this weekend and will see what's available. Still think gin will remain top of my list for martinis.
  6. Ditto, andiesenji! There is no greater joy than preparing a meal for friends except being asked for a recipe for one or another of your creations. I have many chef friends and am always delighted when a variation of some dish I've prepared for them appears on a menu. No other acknowledgement necessary.
  7. Speaking of the devil.... Just received a bottle of "Hamada Shuzoh" Japanese Traditional Shochu made from select sweet potatoes, from a Japanese chef friend who came to dinner last night. Unfortunately, that's all of the label I could read since the rest was in Japanese. Kristin, since you seem to be the de facto expert, what if anything can you tell me about this? Is Shochu commonly made from sweet potato? Sort of Eastern vodka? Certainly tasted much better. Went down very nicely.
  8. God, this is a slippery slope. I agree with jmayer. At what point does the number of locations become a chain associated with a celeb. chef's name. I think Emeril's is there, for example, and it shows. I don't believe an accomplished chef with a well trained and disciplined staff needs to always be present in the kitchen. If I want a sense of what his food is about I can probably get that without his presence. If, in turn, the chef has a gifted chef-de-cuisine who, at some point needs to grow beyond his current responsibilities and make room for somebody else, a second location in a different place makes sense and doesn't necessarily mean sacrficing the essence or philosopy of the cuisine. The important point for me is, that I know who is in the kitchen so I can make an informed choice. If its Keller, for example, and I want to go to the FL on a night when he's in the kitchen because I believe it makes a difference, then I expect I should be given that choice. Frankly speaking, I will be at Per Se next week and don't really give a hoot if Keller is in the kitchen or not. On the other hand, I booked the Chef's Table in the restaurant of a luminary Chef not too long ago only to find, after we were seated and were served an amuse bouche, that the Chef was not in the restaurant. It took me a very long time to get past that one.
  9. jaypm51

    Roquefort and Wine

    Thanks all for the input. Looks like I'll just have to organize a tasting of the wines with the cheese. Will post notes as soon as possible.
  10. Therese - I hate to disappoint almost as much as I hate being second guessed, but "remarkable" might just describe the whole experience with just a few minor exceptions. Will post the details elswhere.
  11. A lot of intellectual bruhaha or, perhaps, simply differences in fundamental philosophy. I think of the often repeated story of a person who just completed eating what he described as, quite possibly, the worst meal of his life ending his commentary with the exclamation, "and the portions were so small!" Its difficult to disagree with much of what's been said and, perhaps as has been suggested, an independent thread on tasting menus is called for, but I feel compelled to share some ramdom thoughts. I, like many of you, have spent the better part of my now 60 years on this planet preoccupied with all things gustatory. I am on a never ending journey in search of perfection, whether in my own kitchen or those of others. My search has taken me to just about every continent where I've partaken from street stalls to the temples of gastronomy. After all this time have I found, what is for me, perfection? Absolutely and often. Like umami its been there in many dishes I've eaten and why the thought of every new adventure is as exciting to me as the last. I've also had, what seems to me, more than my fair share of disappointments. Every chef, great and not so great, serves up the occasional disappointment, the great ones, hopefully, far less frequently, especially with respect to our expectations. I, more often than not, will order a tasting menu at notable restaurants which I am unable to frequent. My search is exponentially expanded by the number of dishes I'm able to taste and more importantly the expected "disappointments" are less consequential than if they had been the main event of an a la carte meal. By the way, as a chef, I learn from the mistakes of other as well as my own. I admire the courage of a chef who is undaunted by the challenge of virtuousity even if missing the mark on occasion. I want those chefs to experiment on me. We're in it together. We're dance partners. The tasting menu is the best opportunity a chef has to demonstrate the depth and breath of his skill and knowledge and the versatility with which he can pull all that together and make it work. It also provides a great opportunity for innovation with minimal risk and almost instant feedback with the flexibility to change or modify quickly. One of the most memorable meals I've had was 12 years ago. It was in Kyoto and was the epitome of a tasting menu. It was a kaiseki dinner at Tawaraya and I remember every plate and every bite, some were ethereal and one or two, well, disappointing, but nonetheless, I couldn't imagine altering one aspect of that meal except, perhaps, the check. Other more recent tasting menus I've had, all with their highs and lows, which have delighted my palate were at the Georges V in Paris, Kai in New York, Seeger's in Atlanta (more on that later) and, believe it or not, the French Laundry. Undaunted, I will be at Per Se next week. Sorry to cut this short but its time to go to work. Off to the market in search of the right and perfect ingredients for my own tasting menu tonight. Got friends coming over and want them to enjoy as many taste sensations as I can coceive of. My goal is to have everybody lick every plate clean. (LOL). I'm thinking jellied calf's snout salad for starters. Let me know if you're coming. There will be some pretty great wines too.
  12. Torakris, Thanks much for your gracious welcome. I agree. Ume and shiso are a woderful combination as are squid and shiso. Try a roll with all three and I promise you gustatory happiness. I'd love your feedback. Easy on the sqid, balance is everything.
  13. Ume ika shiso maki. Perfection!
  14. I find the best way to keep my vanilla beans from drying out or becoming moldy is by storing them in rum. I use Appletons red rum which gives me the added advantage of of a nicely flavored extract with a little bit of depth. Makes for great bananas foster. On another note, speaking of rum and vanilla, has anyone heard of, or come across, an Indian made rum called Taj Mahal? I tasted it on several occasions many years ago and found it to be quite pleasant for sipping. It was smooth with a pronounced vanilla taste.
  15. I have a pretty good palate for both cheese and wine and have been doing both for more than just a few years. Among my favorite cheeses are Roquefort and Gorgonzola and after all these many years of pairing them with a variety of Sauternes, Ports, and Banyuls I'm not satisfied I've found the perfect match. Would welcome input and observations Thanks all, in advance.
  16. Try this, presuming you can find the black cod and yuzu which I can't help you with since I live in Atlanta. You can start with the Nobe recipe, if you like. Try 1/2 cup of sake with the 3/4 cup of mirin, the 2 cups white (shiro) miso and the 1 1/4 cups of sugar. That's going to be pretty sweet. Marinate the Black Cod filets as directed by the Nobu recipe for twelve hours reserving 3 - 4 tbls of the Saikyo Miso. Prepare a sauce using: 1 cup dashi 1/2 cup mirin 1/4 white or light colored soy sauce 3 tbls of the reserved Saikyo Miso 1 tsp yuzu juice (fresh squeezed or bottled) Simmer the ingredients gently for about tem minutes and taste. You are looking for just the right balance (to your taste) of salt, sweet and tang from the yuzu. To adjust the sweet add some of the reserved Saikyo Miso or a bit of sugar, for salt, add salt. Be careful with the yuzu as the flavor can be very dominating. Its better to start with less and bring it up gradually to get it where you want it to be. Cook the fish as instructed by Nobu and serve in wide shallow bowls with several tablespoons of sauce. Alternatively, you can forget the Nobu recipe entirely and instead of adding the the Saikyo Miso to the sauce add 6 tbls shiro miso, 1/4 cup mirin (instead of the 1/2) 1/4 cup sake and 2 tbls of sugar. Salt the filets, sear them in a hot saute pan with several tsps of peanut or grapeseed oil, make sure to brown the skin side and finish them in a hot oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Serve the same way as above. Let me know how yours turn out.
  17. Tapas are, in many instances, small portions of larger dishes. They are also called pinchos. A tapa was a plate used to cover drinks in bars, the obvious purpose of keeping flies away. Evolving from that to being a repository for bits of cheese, olives, cured meats etc. Today tapas bars, which are found all over Spain, range from very simple to extensive. Since Spaniards typically dine at incredibly late hours an early evening visit to a tapas bar helps tide one over. Dishes are both hot and cold and always small, usually just a mouthfull or two. Grilled shrimp, fried calamari, baby squid cooked in its own ink, serano ham, chicken wings or legs simmered in garlic, oil and wine and salt cod dumplings are among a few of the many offerings. Under the circumstances, I suppose, one could consider any small dish a tapa.
  18. Soto is about nothing but the sublime. Forget about service, in any traditional sense, forget about ambience, unless you're into zen like simplicity, forget about everything that is not about taste. Pure, simple sublime taste. What Matisse did with art, especially towards the end of his life, Soto does with food. Simple, focused strokes produce unimaginable flavors and taste sensations. Soto begins with perfect ingredients, always, without exception. Nothing is pre-prepped. With the exception of some of the cooked dishes and a few of the rolls, Soto personally prepares everything. That explains the wait, unfortunately. From a food perspective, everything is there. Art and eye appeal, texture, temperature, scent and flavor. His uni ika sugamori (sea urchin blanketed in squid sitting in a nest of seaweed on a shallow pool of ponzu like sauce) is transcendental. The intermingling of taste and texture sensations are unreal. Raw lobster sashimi with a teaspoon or so of golden, silky yuzu, white truffle infused sauce is etherial. Yikes, this is lobster! Paper thin slices of aji sashimi fanned across the plate, again with a light dressing of incredible depth that enhances rather than hides the flavor of the fish, is followed by another plate of barely-seared-on the outside red snapper that melts on the tongue. His simmered sea bass, two styles,is among the best fish dishes I ever had, rich and unctuous, again without masking the flavor of perfectly prepared fish. Lest hyperbole fail me, I'll conclude this note by remarking that genius, at times, comes with a heavy price. Clearly nothing else at Soto's rises to simple beauty of the food, but, for some of us, that's what its all about.
  19. I'd travel just about anywhere for a good (great) blue cheese. Tops on my list is always a well ripened Roquefort particularly Roquefort Carles if you can get it. After that Bleu d'Auvergna, Forme de Haute Loire, Gorgonzola and well aged Cabrales. In a pinch, Cambazola slathered on a freshly baked baquette aint half bad.
  20. Rainbow Chard is an actual varietal. The stalks of a single plant are multi-hued, therefore the bouquet you purchased was perfectly natural. Always good when sauteed with olive oil and garlic finished with a squeeze of lemon.
  21. Sounds like a tempest in a teapot. There is usually pretty broad consensus among critics when rating the same wines. Robert Parker (Wine Advocate) has had a long standing policy of not accepting gifts, payment, paid trips or accomodations etc. in return for rating wines. Also accepts no advertising dollars, yet interestingly his ratings are more often in the same ballpark as WS, Wine Enthusiast Kevin Zraley et. al. Given the numbers of wines and producers they rate each year, it stretches the limits of plausibility to think the ratings are influenced by dollars spent on advertising. If they are, shame on them. Nonetheless, as a longtime and reasonably discriminating consumer of wines (all regions and price ranges), I have found their ratings to be pretty consistently on the mark. Taken with a grain of salt, it at least helps narrow the field for those of us who can't spend all day everyday tasting wine but want to keep our cellars full of reliable wines to complement our meals.
  22. jaypm51

    Fiddlehead Ferns

    I don't get it. Well prepared fiddleheads are delicious in the same way that otherwise bland mushroom preparations can be. Try this: Trim and clean well under cold running water. Rub the flat surface of the fern with your fingers to remove brown fronds. (Incidently, choose only the freshest fiddleheads which will be bright green.) Blanch in salted water for 3 - 4 minutes. Shock in ice water and then drain. Heat a saute pan over medium to high heat. Add 2 tbls olive oil and 1 tbls butter. Add 1/2 lb fiddleheads and liberally season with salt and pepper. Add 1 1/2 tbls finely minced garlic. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Do not let garlic brown. Add juice from 1 medium sized lemon. Cook for another 30 seconds. Serve hot. Try this same preparation with haricots vert and toasted pinenuts which are added just after the lemon juice. If this tastes like nothing, or worse yet, dirt, then bring it on.
  23. With respect to glasses appropriate for tasting rum, I have enjoyed using Riedel's single malt scotch stem. Its tulip shape, four inch height and two and a half inch width flared mouth allow easy swirling and sniffing without overwhelming olafactory senses. In other words it sniffs well. I often use this glass with rums taken neat. Have also tried adding a bit of cold (non-tap) water as is done with single malts as this seems to help lift the flavor by smoothing the effect of alcohol.
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