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  1. Hi from the LBI, where this New Yorker is surrounded by Philadelphians. Ship Bottom's Zen is at least recently terrible for noodles, maybe thanks to the global apocalypse. Good cold soba when we dined in two years ago, but their takeout "soba" last month may as well have been spaghetti. But there's good news in Tom's River from 4.3: The Point: Toms River, NJ Rejoices with News of a Unique Ramen Restaurant Opening Soon “Ramen, when done right, can be a delicacy. Ramen has roots. . . . According to a profile from APP.com, Wayne’s love of Ramen came from watching the Brittany Murphy movie ‘The Ramen Girl.’ . . . Wayne wanted to create a sit-down ramen restaurant, and he did. Roc N Ramen is now operating in New Rochelle, New York, the Bronx, and Dubai. . . . His next venture is a brand new chain of ramen restaurants called Vibe N Slurp. Ha! . . . Lucky for us, one of the ten nationwide locations set to open will be in Toms River. Look for Vibe N Slurp at 1776 Hooper Avenue taking the place of Bamboo Panda. . . . [There will be] infused ramen such as shrimp scampi. . . "
  2. As awful as the pandemic has been, I've enjoyed the wider and deeper access to such deliciousness via deliveries, since we've been sheltering very strictly. All durian is shipped to the US East Coast frozen, so far as I know, so if it's "fresh" I'm sure it's been thawed. (My coop board's not gonna see this, right?)
  3. Not broken at all. My best guess is that it's a dishware manufacturer's sample. The owner of the restaurant (Jiangnan-style food with lots of patrons from a China Institute center nearby) declined to sell. I'd hoped to make it a gag gift for a friend who collected only eighteenth-century Worcester and Meissen porcelain.
  4. I found this decoration in a Chinese restaurant a few years ago.
  5. From a 1962 Green Giant ad in the New Yorker. A James Beard recipe can be trusted, right? . . .
  6. I owe Spam an apology. Our first dinner in Rome, at a restaurant that turned out to be not only bad but infamously bad (now "10,207 of 10,235 Restaurants in Rome" per TripAdvisor), featured what I remembered as Spam pizza. It was terrible, but now I'm reminded that it wasn't Spam. Not my photo -- we went in 2011, someone else took this in 2015, and they're still serving it.
  7. As an upcoming birthday present, I'll be given the smoker of my choice to go alongside a natural-gas, high-heat grill at a summer house. I'll be the only one using the smoker. In the past I improvised with the grill, struggling for low temperature, but got more bad results than good. One whole brisket was spectacularly tender and flavorful. Another became a brick. Despite the grief described in the topic "Assembling a Propane Smoker" at I've got to go with propane too. Household natural gas just isn't available for dedicated smokers, I don't want electric, and my limited time at this house won't make wood or charcoal fuel practical. So I'd welcome any new propane-smoker tips. eGullet was where I first learned about the Big Apple Barbecue here in NYC, after all. I've found comprehensive reviews at two BBQ-specific forums but I'm not up to that level of obsessive detail, not yet. A minimum feature I'd like to have is a separate door for replacing the wood chips. Many box models have a single door, which wastes the smoke and heat when changing the chips. Also, the smaller the better, I think; I won't be doing anything bigger than whole shoulders or briskets or chickens. I might like to drill a hole to install an accurate digital-thermometer lead. Here's what I've found so far: Lowe's sells a Master Forge Double Door smoker for $179 ( http://www.lowes.com/pd_411913-95393-MFX784BDP_0__?productId=4459479&N ) that the members of one BBQ forum rave about (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/products/master-forge-double-door-smoker ). Amazon offers, with Prime shipping, a $140 Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker that another such forum likes a lot (http://amazingribs.com/bbq_equipment_reviews_ratings/smoker/char-broil-vertical-gas-smoker ) though the Amazon customer reviewers are less enthusiastic (http://www.amazon.com/Char-Broil-11701705-Vertical-Gas-Smoker/dp/B004J66WWG ), Conversely, Amazon customer reviewers loved the $167 Prime-shipping Masterbuilt Propane Smoker (http://www.amazon.com/Masterbuilt-20051311-2-Door-Propane-Smoker/dp/B004W4NDPY ) though the first other forum's commenters say it needs extra care and even improvisation during assembly and use (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/products/masterbuilt-two-door-propane-smoker ).
  8. Still hunting for that perfect Barcelona cooking class. As an alternative to the meh-looking top-rated TripAdvisor course at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d611509-Reviews-Cook_and_Taste-Barcelona_Catalonia.html , I've found: http://www.golearnto.com/course/itinerary/858/spanish+cooking+course+%2b+boqueria+market+ http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2254518-Reviews-Espai_Boisa_Barcelona_Cooking_School-Barcelona_Catalonia.html http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2178269-Reviews-A_Taste_of_Spain_Culinary_Day_Tours_Catalonia-Barcelona_Catalonia.html http://www.catacurian.com/1_day_barcelona_cooking_class.html (or day trip at http://www.catacurian.com/2005_programs.html http://www.foodietours.com/One-day-cooking-class-in-Barcelona.html http://www.cellartours.com/spain/culinary-tours/barcelona-cooking.html http://www.travelbar.com/spanish_cooking.htm http://www.euroadventures.net/ViewProduct.asp?ProductID=1051&AF=52 http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/things-to-do/entertainment/spanish-cooking-classes-1187 It makes me want to settle for room service. For instance, one of the five reviews of http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2178269-Reviews-A_Taste_of_Spain_Culinary_Day_Tours_Catalonia-Barcelona_Catalonia.html , begins "As the owners of a small, family-operated bakery/restaurant," which reminds me of the planted reviews as documented in the article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html
  9. The gf (now fiancée) and I are going to Barcelona and Madrid for our vacation (now honeymoon). Unfortunately our hotel always has to be central, and walkable to sights. For Barcelona, we'll be looking at the central old city (Barri Gòtic, El Born-La Ribera) neighborhoods; and for Madrid, maybe Los Austrias/Sol. This means we'll be surrounded by overpriced, crappy tourist restaurants, but we ate well in Rome and Istanbul thanks to careful research, so I'm optimistic about Spain. We may stick to Eastern time so we can dine out as late as Madrileños, but then we'd have less daytime for sights, so maybe we'll end up living on tapas. What puzzles me the most now is which cooking class to pick in Barcelona. We loved those in other travels. Tripadvisor favors one (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d611509-Reviews-Cook_and_Taste-Barcelona_Catalonia.html ), but its lowest-star feedback complains that there's not much hand-on cooking and the recipes aren't great. I'm trusting Tripadvisor less over the years. When overwhelmingly uninformed people pick the best-rated venues, they tend to rate them well no matter what, and I see self-reinforcing feedback of less objective praise. So I'm googling for other Barcelona cooking classes. http://www.catacurian.com/2005_programs.html , despite its link, is current and looks like it has a variety of good choices. Of course, Google search results are victim to that self-reinforcing feedback too.
  10. Since grapefruit doesn't go well with my Lipitor, when I order brunch with my partner, I encourage her to order a glassful of the juice so I can smell it. But usually she orders orange juice so we can share it. Yet what I really want is to smell her grapefruit juice.
  11. jkarpf

    Short Ribs

    Braising's my favorite technique for short ribs. I'm skeptical about slow roasting, as described above, rendering out the fat, or making it easy to whittle out the gristle, since I once spent a whole day smoking cross-cut short ribs ("before" photo below) and dealt with lots of fat and gristle. Maybe I needed ribs cut lengthwise, instead of crosswise?
  12. I did the top-Google-result recipe "Braised Goat Shoulder Rubbed With Spanish Spices," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/15/dining/151grex.html , which was fantastic. But my shoulder, which had been sold to me at the NYC Union Square farmer's market as "rib" meat -- which I'd initially hoped simply to roast! -- needed around twice as much braising time as given. So whatever recipe you use, check it for doneness as you go along.
  13. jkarpf

    Buying a half cow

    Yeah, don't grind those up. And enjoy those need-special-cooking but more flavorful cuts -- braising will be fine for many of them; no need for sous-vide. Don't worry about ground beef since you'll get more than you want anyway. Decide whether you want a whole, long tenderloin (which would include the filet mignon), which would be whittled out from front to back and then with the neighboring meat ground up; or whether you want more steaks, which would keep the tenderloin as part of many of those steaks. Do you get a choice of how the animal was raised/fed? My informal cow-buying group (more on that in a second) started with grass-fed and grass-finished, but even those steaks could be tough. So we switched to grass-fed, grain-finished, which has been amazingly tender. Such fattier steers dress down to less usable meat, so they're relatively expensive compared to the former, leaner kind, but we've all preferred the latter. (I don't know much about aging, but though that dessication increases the deliciousness, that too reduces yield and therefore increases the cost.) Finally, if you buy certified-organic rather than close-to-but-not-certified-organic, you may end up with 100 percent grain-fed since with certification, it's hard to prove that the fields that the steers graze on don't have pesticides or pollutants even just drifting over from neighboring farms or roads. My friends and I have, for the last seven years, been buying whole sides of beef from New Paltz, NY. Our organizer has it butchered and flash-frozen near there, and then he drives it down to NYC where we divide it up, having PayPalled him for for our shares, which are eighths of a side (each being 1/16 of a whole steer). Each share is around 30 lbs of meat. It has cost us around $130/share, or around $4.30/lb for each share's assortment of cuts. It is delicious. It's not the easiest way to buy beef. We meet at a mutually inconvenient home in Brooklyn, though once or twice we used a low-traffic sidewalk. Dividing common cuts like burger and most steaks is easy, but larger or more unique cuts like roasts, short ribs, skirt steak, and hanger steak then require some friendly round-robin picking, and then maybe trading if some people prefer some cuts over others. (For instance, some like the convenience/smaller size of the ground beef, while others like the challenge of the brisket). These cuts are wrapped in butcher paper and stamped with the name of the cut, so you can't examine it in advance. But this is head and shoulders above supermarket meat. I don't know when we'll be doing it next, but you can see photos over the years of us dividing it up at at http://foody.org/meating.html . Or hear me talking about it on KCRW-FM's "Good Food" at http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/gf/gf040424noodles_your_own_cow . Or read one member's blog post about it at http://familyoffood.blogspot.com/2009/01/beefening.html . Finally, if any other eGullet members want to take part in the future, we've created a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=307598391990 . I'm hoping the next share will be for pig, which has also worked well a couple of times.
  14. Recently someone from New London told me that she'd discovered a sort of regional, invitation-only event for ice cream. Lots of cream is trucked in and attendees bring ingredients for making dozens of unusual flavors. Plus there's activities like contra dancing. She's a family friend I see annually; I'm sure she wasn't pulling my leg. But I don't have her contact info, so I'm hoping the fellow food nuts here will know about this. No, I'm not angling for an invite. My gf lets me get away with the occasional midnight steak or raw milk, but not a day (or more) of ice cream. She might've said it was called Bait, or something sounding similar to that. A couple of hours of googling have been fruitless.
  15. I'm glad Martin's served better portions overall. This year, I was again underwhelmed by Ed Mitchell's whole hog, which so vinegared and so finely minced that it was, again, almost like tuna salad (cracklings weren't available when I asked). I would've enjoyed Martin's whole hog more had there been more. Portions can be such a crap shoot. My group ended up getting five orders of 17th Street ribs thanks to their highly smoked deliciousness, and the largest serving must've been three times the size of the smallest. Another reason to go w/ friends and share. Moonlite's mutton took the place of the weird-food niche occupied last year by Smoki O, which had served delicious but off-puttingly-named snoot sandwiches. Most of my group loved the mutton, though two of us felt it didn't taste much LIKE mutton, more like beef. I too was impressed by the trafficking, except for my last attempt for a meal, at Jim 'N' Nicks, where many sausages had been plated w/ their sides but the lines to buy were needlessly long. Cruising the booths shortly before noon meant instant service. I'll be going again in 2011. The whole fair has inspired me to try my own smoking in a couple of weekend when I visit my gf's family, which uses their grill only for grilling, not smoking. I'll make a big mess, of course, but that's one of the benefits of being just a weekend guest: the privilege of not having to clean up entirely after yourself. I have some frozen heirloom-breed short ribs I'd like to experiment with. Steve, great meeting you, but if I can wear a bacon shirt to a 'cue fest, you can wear bacon pants instead of fish pants.
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