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Everything posted by derricks

  1. derricks

    Making Vinegar

    Both a wine writer I know and the aforementioned AoE article mention using the spit bucket from tastings. It seemed icky at first, but then I realized that the vinegar's going to pretty much kill anything from people's mouths. I've only accepted that on a rational level, not a visceral one.
  2. derricks

    Making Vinegar

    The Art of Eating (issue 68) has a nice piece about making your own red wine vinegar. It's written by Ed Behr, so it's very thorough, and he's honest about the fact that sometimes it doesn't work. Curiously, he says you don't actually need to acquire a mother, though he points out that the wine->vinegar reaction might take a while (months) if you don't have one. He also talks about barrel aging. The article's entitled "The Best Red Wine Vinegar You'll Taste is the One You Make Yourself" or something like that. I'm thinking of trying it.
  3. Foie Gras: A Passion says a) you should always use the highest grade possible (hardly a surprising sentiment from a foie gras producer) but that b) grade A should be used for terrines (it's more work to clean lower grades, and you don't want blood splotches in the terrine) and c) grade B works for searing because the browning hides discoloration and the heat causes more blood to leak out. Le Livre du Foie Gras may say something about it, but it's not where I'd expect to find it, and my French isn't good enough to free-associate through the index. I've seared grade A from a U.S. producer and it worked nicely. Note that in the U.S., at least, grades aren't regulated. They're self-imposed. Don't know about Canada, but I believe they are in France. Canadian producers represent a gap in my foie gras knowledge, but Sonoma Foie Gras here in California has two labels. There's Sonoma Foie Gras, which is what we buy in stores (I've always seen grade A), and Artisan Foie Gras, which you buy through Sonoma Saveurs. Artisan is made from ducks that are force-fed cooked (not raw) corn and then cold-eviscerated (kill the bird, chill overnight, remove the liver). Artisan is supposedly higher quality, but it's kind of a matter of taste. Some high-end restaurants here buy Artisan. The upshot of all that being that Canadian producers might do something similar. Or maybe they just make sure that the upper ends of the grades go to restaurants and the lower ends go to home cooks less likely to notice.
  4. The fried oranges from her fritto misto section show up frequently at dinner parties at our house. I made her panzanetta salad before, and I've made various things that I've liked a lot.
  5. That's an easy one. We gave our caterers a workout, though (they said) they had a great time with it because we really cared about it. When we did the trial run, they brought out a plate with the lamb and wouldn't put it down. The chef first said "Now you said you wanted it really rare, right? As rare as we could make it?" We got the plate once we assured her we were serious. My uncle said it was the best meal he had eaten (followed shortly by the rehearsal dinner at Oakland's Jojo the night before). Yep. We set aside time just to eat. Of course, we didn't make it to every table as a result I think we'd have chosen different wine. We bought the wine before my love affair with German wine began, so I'd have done that for the white.
  6. I made the duck confit (once with magret, once with legs). It's really good, but you'll really want to rinse off the meat after the cure. I didn't do it as much last time and the legs are right at the edge of too salty for me (and I like a lot of salt). I used it for the confit with Brussel sprouts on the next page, which may have made me a Brussels sprouts convert.
  7. On a related theme, I've had good luck with reduced pomegranate juice. Nothing more than that, actually (though the juice was reduced 50-60%). Oranges are good as well. And I season, pan-sear, and roast until just rare (that's for Magret de Moulard; no one makes foie gras from Muscovies here in the U.S. anymore, so I've never found Magret de Barbarie).
  8. I'm planning on going on Sunday the 23rd. I wasn't super-compelled by it last year, but I do live just across the water from it, so it seems silly not to go and check it out.
  9. Perhaps they had a policy change in the interim? Or it was a new policy when you spoke to the person the first time and they forgot? Most restaurants that ask for a credit card here in the Bay Area say they'll charge you a set fee per person if you don't show up AND don't cancel your reservation far enough in advance (some require 24 hours, others 48). The ones I've dealt with around here will charge your credit card, but will send you a gift certificate for that amount. So if you don't show up, you're buying a g.c. so you can not show up at some other point. It's unusual for a two-person reservation, though Chez Panisse requests a credit card for any size. I usually have to deal with this because I routinely make reservations for large groups (8+)
  10. derricks

    Confit Duck

    I get duck fat at my local butcher's. Of course, I live in the SF Bay Area, so it's a bit easier. Mine is from Grimaud. Hudson Valley Foie Gras sells some, and it's worth calling Sonoma Saveurs, though I don't explicitly remember them selling duck fat. Also, for you US cooks, Barbary ducks are the same as our Muscovies. (At least in terms of breed. Obviously different producers will raise them differently). And of course all the foie gras ducks here in the U.S. are Mulards, which are structurally more like Pekins. Just for handy conversions between meats.
  11. We had our first-of-the-season crab last night. I bought it from Market Hall in Oakland (higher prices, but very convenient to BART). The guys there said it was caught in the Bay and they didn't know about the overfishing problem we seem to have had. It doesn't seem to be widely known in fact. Anyway, we didn't quite finish, so tonight I'm making a risotto using a stock from the shell, the leftover crab meat (tossed in at the very end) and crab butter I made with leftovers last year.
  12. My mom got me a pressure cooker (fairly small) for my birthday, and I'm looking for ideas on what to do with it. She uses hers for stock, but I suspect that wouldn't be useful if I wanted clear stock. Mine can also do small canning batches. And it's sold as a risotto cooker, so presumably it can do that as well (I've heard of this technique but don't remember the details). Anyone have thoughts on the pros and cons of using a pressure cooker for any of these things or for other things? The cooker came with a book called "Pressure Perfect" but who knows how reliable it is. So any recs on good books for figuring this little guy out would be useful as well. Thanks all!
  13. derricks

    Grower Champagne

    The SF Chronicle did a piece on this today. Michael Skurnik wines, via Terry Theise, is one of the best importers of estate-grown Champagnes. At least in my opinion.
  14. I can hope so, but I'd have to disagree about its likelihood of passing. On the other hand, HVFG is about nine times the size of Sonoma Foie Gras so they might have more resources to fight legislation (I can't imagine La Belle has much in the way of resources to fight foie gras bills, but since they do so much other poultry, perhaps they do). I'd wager that the success of the bill here in California will strengthen the New York bill. Frankly I think foie gras production is in its sunset years overall, and certainly on the verge of extinction in the U.S. I'm not talking about tomorrow or even seven years from now when the CA ban kicks in. But a couple of decades? I'd be surprised if there are still American foie gras producers. Cynically yours.
  15. I didn't read last year's comments, but here are my memories. We had good luck with bacar both years, though some co-workers were less thrilled with it, so maybe it's somewhat variable. We liked Maya last year, though the night we were there the service was horrible; I suspected a few missing staff members rather than a general tendency.
  16. More or less. Break into good-sized pieces, season well with salt, white pepper and brandy. Press pieces into mold. Cook at low temp in a water bath until foie gets to 120. I wouldn't cover because then the moisture will get trapped and the ambient temperature will get up to boiling quickly. Uncovered, moisture will evaporate and cool the foie. When it comes out, weight it down, cool, and chill. This will squoosh up a lot of fat, so have a pan underneath the terrine mold. You can then melt this fat and use it to seal up the top.
  17. You can make a terrine and seal it with the rendered fat. That should keep in the fridge for the couple of weeks you'll need. Or you can confit it, but that you probably want to sit for more than between now and Christmas.
  18. An addition to Carolyn's comment. There's also a Pasta Shop in Oakland, part of the Market Hall complex near Rockridge.
  19. The most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated (looks to LARGE pile of magazines to his left)--I think--has an article on these kinds of cookies. Of course, their idea of perfect may vary from yours, but you can be sure they made eighty quintillion batches.
  20. Yeah, it seems like a waste. We've not ever brined our birds (this will be our third year) and they've come out fine. Last year I smoked one and roasted the other. I don't remember the precise details on the roasting, but it was fairly low temp for a long time. I think I used the Cook's Illustrated Poultry book's recipe for turkey and adjusted as I felt appropriate. Sorry I can't offer more details.
  21. Do you mean wine store wine clubs as well? We belonged to Ridge's ATP program for a while (until I got laid off from my last job). That one gave us a chance to try more unusual bottlings, and we found some great wine that way. I think it's quarterly. Or maybe bi-monthly. On store-level wine clubs, we used to belong to K & L's "value wines" club. We had great success with that when we started, but then the buyer changed (I think) and the wines became less interesting. Now we belong to the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant's club, which we've enjoyed thoroughly. We've found a bunch of interesting wines, and have often bought more bottles, sometimes cases, of the wines from our shipment. So we've probably helped more wineries than if we belonged to one or two wine clubs. Both of these are montly clubs. The Chron had an article about wine clubs a while back, but now I can't find it. Urgh.
  22. derricks

    wine for the bird

    Hmm. I like the Beaujolais idea. I used to drink a lot more Beaujolais but over time I've moved away from it, and occasionally I get a reminder that I've dallied with other wines for too long. But I've made a tradition the last three years (well, this plus two) of getting some bottles of estate-bottled rose champagne. I know I'm getting a Geoffroy this year, but I haven't figured out the other one. (we have a relatively small Thanksgiving)
  23. A bunch of the local food bloggers went a couple weeks back. (for those interested, here's Amy's take and Sam's take) It is a pretty neat concept. (Note, I haven't read the article yet, so forgive me if I repeat what they say). It's sort of like having a big wine-by-the-glass selection where you gets tastes rather than full glasses. There were probably 40-50 bottles when we were there, with a wide range of styles. Some well-known names, but also some small lot makers and unique wines (there was one from Mexico). The staff wants to have "comfort wines" and "new discovery wines" represented for much the same reasons restaurants do. The "expensive" wall had a Gaja Barbaresco ($18/taste) and a '97 d'Yquem ($28) among others. The cheapest taste I remember was about $1. They had little snacks for us, but they didn't seem to have much in the way of food. It's worth checking out, though Sam's argument that it's a little sterile is a valid one. But it's a great chance to "try before you buy."
  24. Ah. Right. I meant glass bottles. I don't like plastic bottles so almost never get them.
  25. I often find a difference between the taste of a soft drink in a can and a bottle. Sometimes more subtle, sometimes not. I wonder if it's a chemical reaction thing. (I have to assume it's the same recipe; it'd be too much of a pain to manage otherwise).
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