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  1. All, I don't think that increased recall power from the FDA or USDA is a remotely good idea, although an increased budget for them would be good. The FDA, in particular, is notorious for requesting recalls based on flimsy evidence ... like the tomato recall of a couple years ago, which after-the-fact turned out to be a rash of food poisoning caused by poor sanitation at Mexican restaurants, rather than anything at the source. I agree that the best thing the FDA and USDA could do with an increased budget is a home-food-saftey and restaurant-food-safety education campaign. Barring new evidence, I'd guess that at least 3/4 of the foodbourne illness occurs during preparation, and not in supplied ingredients.
  2. Katie, I generally use a mix of grated Haloumi (or part-skim mozzarella when I can't get Haloumi) and drained, crumbled feta cheese, and it turns out great. Sure, some of the nicer Greek sheep cheeses ... like Kefalotiri and Manouri ... are even better, but you can't really get them outside a Greek grocer or well-stocked cheesemonger.
  3. Azurite, Yep, long back. We did OK. Portland Bay crab was in season, so we had crab available. I also got other local fish from Local Ocean Seafood. There was some kind of farmer's market on Wednesday, which we caught before it closed, and got the rest of our ingredients. Things went fairly well: http://www.fuzzychef.org/archives/A-Northwest-Costal-Thanksgiving-Part-I-Portuguese-Salad-11-2010.html Oh, and Rogue had their semi-annual mislabeled beer sale, which we took advantage of. I don't really recommend the food at Rogue Public House, but the beer and service were very good. We'd heard about the mushroom guy, but didn't want to depend on him being open given the narrow time window, so we bought our mushrooms ... picked on the Oregon coast ... in Medford.
  4. Some recent non-cookbook food reading: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles is a fun tour of the World of Chinese Restaurants, deserving its bestseller status. Save the Deli is mostly a continental tour of Jewish delis, but has a solid 4 chapters of good-read history. McGee recently released Keys to Good Cooking, which I don't have yet, but hey, it's McGee!
  5. Hopefully this doesn't catch on in the USA. What really gets me about automatic service charges is that generally the restaurantier is hoping that you won't notice the service charge, and put a regular tip on top of it. In the USA, where there's usually a mandatory service charge of 15% for large parties, this often results in the restaurant collecting a 30% tip. Here in the States we're told that tipping is essential because we wouldn't get good service otherwise. Having been to several countries where labor charges are standard and included, such as Germany, Italy and Japan, I find that such is not the case. Rather, I think that tipping exists to drive the management's labor costs down without increasing advertised prices, and they've brainwashed customers into thinking that it's good for them. Over the decades here we've seen tipping creep up from 5% to 20%. The only way I can see that tipping is good for the servers is that, if they have to cover more tables or work a really busy night and do a good job, they earn more. But even without tips, the Italian "coperto" system covers this.
  6. Annachan, Now buy a good steel to keep those knives in shape. The best thing you can do is learn how to use a steel and a sharpening stone properly. I have knives which are 20 years old and still sharp ... because I take care of them.
  7. First, plan to make at least a couple meals from food you pick up at the Christmas market. Not necessarily healthful meals, but filling anyway.. For other eating options: you must, must, must go to Demel. They are the #1 chocolatier in Austria and probably Europe, and have a branch in Salzburg. Have dessert or tea at the cafe. Speaking of Cafe's you can also eat at the cafe' Constanze Mozart was fond of. Finally, picking up some real Sacher Torte at the Salzburg branch of the Hotel Sacher. You also need to take the opportunity to sample many of the excellent Eastern European wines which are available in Salzburg and don't make it to the USA. And, of course, beer and espresso. Here's some bloggage from my last trip to Salzburg: http://www.fuzzychef.org/archives/Steigl-Brauwert-Restaurant-11-2008.html http://www.fuzzychef.org/archives/Gourmet-Salzburg-11-2008.html http://www.fuzzychef.org/archives/Die-Plegerbruoke-A-Typical-Austrian-Pub-11-2008.html
  8. John, I got very excited about this, but then I read to the bottom of the article and realized they're years away from being able to do anything about how wine affects my allergies. Disappointed!
  9. One other tip: heat the machine up before grinding the coffee and filling the filter etc. There's no reason to let the coffee hang out for 20 minutes, losing aroma, while it waits for the machine to heat up. Also, you will get a much better cup of espresso if you grind your own beans, just before pulling a shot. However, this requires a grinder which is espresso-capable, which will set you back at least $120. Finally, most "espresso blends" are anything but. For espresso, you want a coffee with a medium or light roast. A dark roasted coffee will give you oily, bitter espresso ... and likely gum up the espresso machine.
  10. Janet, Hmmm, then there's factors I didn't realize could make as much difference as they do. I have a 1960's-era apartment gas stove, which is 7000 BTU/h max (and probably less). And I live in San Francisco, which averages 70% humidity. I guess the lack of heat power and the dampness makes a difference of 2X to 3X in reducing time rather than just 20-30%. For the fish example I gave, the recipe specifically said to reduce the liquid at a simmer. Not sure whose cookbook it was, I got rid of it after that.
  11. Janet, Sure. They also depend on ambient humidity. However, given all of that variance I'd expect at least sometimes cookbook authors would recommend too long ("reduce by one-third, 45min") but it's always too short, and sometimes so much too short I wonder what kind of super-stove the author has that they could even consider that time reasonable. I've had recipes tell me to reduce 6 cups of liquid to 3 cups "around 3-5 minutes". Where this is particularly annoying is fish recipes. Several authors have had me braise the fish in the liquid, remove the fish to an unheated platter, and then reduce the sauce to a syrupy consistency while the fish cools "2-3 minutes". Thing is, that reduction requires boiling off a full cup of water, which ain't gonna happen in 3 minutes on any home stove I've ever cooked on. In the meantime, the fish is cold and dry (and ruined) while I wait 15 - 20 minutes for the sauce to reduce. The only thing I can think is that the authors are used to commercial stoves and cookware with 75,000 BTUhr of heat.
  12. Chris, We have some SimpleHuman cans. On the plus side, these are fairly effective footpedal cans and the company actually has customer service (they sent me a new hinge, gratis, when my old one rusted away). On the minus side, they're expensive ($100 - $200), and despite the stainless steel exterior they still have plastic interiors (why won't manufacturers learn to put metal on the inside!).
  13. Le Master, All: I think that Grant gave a good summary of the problem: a few pictures are fine, even good. But there's a line; when you're using tripods or have a video camera glued to your hand, or videoing the staff, that's going to far. Direct link: http://alineamosaic.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=919&st=0 Frankly, I'm a little shocked; I can't imagine someone setting up a tripod in the middle of dinner service and would support the staff throwing this person out. If you work for a real publication and need professional-quality photos of the food, make a darned appointment. I guess the real problem is that restaurants are afraid to criticize, stop, or throw out paying customers who are being obnoxious. It's not the camera, it's being an insensitive (if enthusiastic) jerk. Several restaurantiers suggested an interesting solution; cameras are strongly discouraged, but the restaurant offers free high-quality digital pictures of the night's plated dishes to any diner who asks for them. Heck, at an expensive restaurant, you could even sell/give away USB keys.
  14. I'm not surprised that cookbook writers can't estimate cooking times. I certainly can't. The only way a cookbook writer could estimate times accurately would be to give the recipe and unprepped ingredients to a friend and set a stopwatch. And it's not like the publisher is going to pay (or wait) for this kind of testing. Heck, these days most publishers don't even copy-edit recipes. Given my low expectations, there's only two timing things that really annoy me: 1. Reduction times, per above, which always seem to be an order of magnitude too short. What's up with that? 2. When a recipe author has the times only in the dense recipe text, and there's 8-12 different time segments, so you don't realize until you start making the recipe that it takes 95 minutes. This kind of recipe really calls for a total cooking time somewhere.
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