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Everything posted by derricks

  1. No kidding! Even for our normal dinner parties, I draw up a big list which I put on the fridge. It's got timings on it, a complete to-do list with "must be done by" times or "after this time" notes, and usually I also draw pictures of the platings I want to do (sketches, at any rate). I even try and set up timings that are flexible (as in "when guests arrive, start the oil heating" or whatever). That was after one too many dinners where the guests arrived at 6 and finally got to eat at 8!
  2. We did a 10-course menu a while back (see here), in a tiny apartment kitchen. It's a lot of work, but I had a lot of fun doing it. But even our normal dinner parties run about five or six courses. They take a lot of planning and time, so we don't do them nearly as often as I'd like!
  3. That is unfortunate, but even one person I spoke with shortly after who was very close to the restaurant said the restaurant closed because of the business being taken away by the deli. Of course, he might've been giving the party line to protect the Kleins' privacy. It's a shame to see them go. I think the raw philosophy is a bunch of hooey, personally, but I was surprised by how much I liked the food. I thought it showed a lot of creativity (as cooking with severe constraints often does).
  4. derricks

    Beer tasting notes

    Good point, in which case Champagne tasting notes might be closer to what one wants for beer. Most Champagne strives towards a consistent and distinctive blend year after year, and in general is meant to be young. Of course, there are vintage Champagnes and there are people who distinctly seek out older Champagne. But in general, once it's disgorged, its shelf life diminishes.
  5. derricks

    Beer tasting notes

    I come from the wine universe, but I noticed this and it seemed like an interesting thread. Some thoughts: It seems like what you're proposing is nothing more (nor less) than a wine tasting note applied to beer. The wine tasting notes I've had to write for magazines follow a pattern of <Details>: <visual>.<Descriptions of smells>.<Description of taste, mouthfeel>. <Overall impression/score>. Each dot represents a period. So: "Purple edges become an ink-black center. Aromas of blueberries and grilled meat leap out of the glass, mingling with more subtle notes of leather and smoke. Tannins dominate the palate and almost overwhelm the dark berry fruit flavors and decent acidity, but the long finish allows notes of smoke to come through in the end. This wine is drinkable now, but could benefit from a couple years in the cellar." (I just made this up, so it's not some particular wine). Smells are tough. In theory, the wine world has a standardized vocabulary (Anne Noble's aroma wheel), but in reality it's not something that can be standardized. My first wine teacher was from Brazil, and would often use descriptors like "jack fruit" and other things in his culture. Another wine teacher was a cook, and would use terms like "blueberry creme brulee". As far as seeing other impressions, the problem is as soon as someone says "I get a lot of lemon" that's what everybody smells, even if that's not exactly what they were smelling. For just this reason, I rarely look at wine tasting notes for precise smells; more often I just get an impression (fruity vs. earthy, well-balanced, good acidity) and work from there. But starting with maybe the inner ring of the aroma wheel might be a good start.
  6. Buy a new lid for it. This goes to my blog because there's no direct link I could find for the lid proper. Hopefully you can figure it out from that. Of course, I'm not sure if ours are the same size. Yours sounds bigger (mine's a lot older, too), but I'm horrible at estimating volume. My lid is one of the best kitchenware accessories I've ever gotten (the meat grinder on the Kitchen-Aid ranks pretty high as well).
  7. derricks

    Food Mills

    Well, in addition to all the other great suggestions people have (mashed potatoes, hm? Interesting), I've used mine in a pinch for spaetzle making. I don't have a spaetzle-making thingy, and the largest holes in the food mill work reasonably well. Plop in the dough, and mill into salted boiling water/stock.
  8. Certainly not. I've long argued that the Parker Effect isn't really Parker's fault, it's the fault of the people who heed him or kow-tow to him. On the other hand, he often says that the tasting notes are the really important part of the description. So why include the scores at all? Oh, I know, I know. It's a convenient shorthand for all that comes after. But you'd think he'd want people to read the notes and encourage them to do so by leaving off the scores. Of course, then, people wouldn't buy TWA because it would be too dull
  9. The SF Chronicle had a piece a while back about wine storag, including storage facilities. It's down towards the bottom.
  10. When we were in the Loire on our honeymoon, we tasted at one winery where someone who was clearly a favored customer said (roughly), "This is their simple wine, this is their good wine, and this wine is for Robert Parker." And when we were in the Piemonte (a little bit later on the same trip), we were at an enoteca in La Morra and the owner said (to us obviously American visitors) "Robert Parker likes this wine. He's a supertaster, a supertaster." We said we weren't sure we agreed with Robert Parker about Barolo, and to his credit he didn't miss a sales beat and said "Ah, you like classic Barolo." It's one of the smoothest and most deftly handled turnabouts I've seen. But anyway, I love Echezeaux's approach. I constantly tell people that Robert Parker knows what he likes, and that's great, but if you're intent on following wine writers (and let's face it, most consumers don't get the chance to taste a lot of wines, so they have to look to someone), you should buy a few wines recommended from different wine writers, and find the one you most agree with. But then I tell them that no one can tell them what they like or don't like, and that's what they should base their decision on. I think I'll add the comment about Robert Parker not coming to dinner. A great line!
  11. derricks

    Wine with Sushi

    I seem to remember reading (Bacchus and Me, perhaps?) that the current head of Dom Perignon is a fan of Champagne and sushi. It's hard to imagine this isn't at least partially motivated by the desire to pair Champagne with a newly popular (outside Japan) style of eating, and thus sell more bottles of his wine. On the other hand, Champagne is notoriously food-friendly (as is riesling, by the way). A slight correction. These aren't mutually exclusive, though halb-trokken auslesen aren't super common. Auslese refers to the ripeness of the grapes at harvest; halb-trokken ("half dry") refers to the sweetness of the final wine.
  12. derricks

    Rendering Lard

    Thanks for the great follow-up suggestions. Lard experiment #1 went fairly well, and I used some of the lard in a pie crust today. I was worried, tasting the dough, that the crust would be too meaty in flavor, but when baked and filled with a sweet filling (seckel pears, brown sugar, butter, vietnamese cassia cinnamon), it tasted fine. And boy, was it flaky!!! Tonight I'll be portioning the lard into little jars for later use.
  13. That thought struck me as I read it as well, though I don't know that either of those two sections have covered foie gras (as an ingredient). Still, it was worded glibly enough to make one suspicious (the other arguments about what to sign and veto seemed more rational). Of course, I imagine our governor doesn't pay much attention to the Bay Area's opinions, given the voting demographics in the recall election (the Bay Area was pretty much the one place not to encourage Schwarzzenegger into office).
  14. derricks

    Rendering Lard

    Abra: Thanks for the reference. That's more or less what I imagined (I recently made rillettes in a semi-similar way), but it's good to read an actual account of it. Off to the stove!
  15. So I've got a bunch of pig fat, and I want to render it into lard. Any thoughts? I loaned out the cookbook that I know has a technique for doing this. Thanks in advance!
  16. derricks

    Nat Decants

    Yeah, I wroter her when I saw that (I get her newsletter) and complained that she was, by her own admission, inflating her scores to more closely match Wine Spectator's (a common complaint from her readership, by her account). Heaven forbid you should have opinions that don't match WS's!
  17. I've seen it on both sides of the argument, to be honest. Which makes one wonder about those same people being deaf to complaints about pigs and poultry. The mortality rates for chickens in this country are vastly higher than even the worst fg producers, and they certainly lead worse lives than the ducks at any of the American producers, even considering the two to three weeks of force-feeding. And pigs are so horribly treated they make poultry farming look humane. So if it's distant and unsavory, ban it, but if it's close to home and unsavory, ignore it? That's what drives me bonkers. But I think you're right that people consider foie gras a distant concept, and so it's easy to just say, whatever, ban it, who cares. I considered it dispassionate when I first read it a long time ago, but now that I've talked to other people about it, and read it again or referred to portions, I'm less sure. I've talked to critics who argue that the comittee was predisposed to oppose foie gras (many of the English scientists involved have ties to the animal welfare community), but I've also heard that internal politics affected the results and made them less harsh. If you read the primary source papers, they are less conclusive than the EU document makes them sound, and it's easy to realize that the points in the EU document were often worded to emphasize the negative aspect first and only then temper it. But of course with scientific papers one often has to worry about what Stephen Jay Gould called "The Cordelia Effect" (though I've always thought "The Regan Effect" would be more appropriate)--the tendency to not report negative results. But I agree that it covers a lot of ground, and it's definitely worth a read (though it's a bit dry in parts)
  18. I just wish there weren't so much misinformation about foie gras out in the public consciousness so that people could make real decisions about it. And that's from both sides of the issue. That's what I find most annoying about this bill, is that it's passing based more on emotion than reason. But one could say that about virtually every topic, I suppose. Not everyone has the motivation to heavily research every single issue, so we naturally rely on filters who obviously have their own agendas.
  19. I also have several titles in play at the moment (and that's just in food; I have more on top of that): Le Inspecteur se met a Table - the "tell-all" book from a Michelin inspector. Vino Italiano - a really good write-up on Italian wines, but really meant to be read with wines in hand, not as casual bedside reading The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy - really good essays, but some are drier than others And a seemingly infinite number of Wine Spectators and probably at least one issue of Gastronomica.
  20. 7 years was definitely the (amended) timeframe for California (that's what it took to get it to pass). But I've read of this 15-year timeline in the EU as well, but the news articles I've read don't seem to jibe with what the various foie gras players are saying. Of course, misinformation about foie gras runs rampant; most articles I've read have at least one and often more factual errors (see above comment about "few farms" in California). People do seem to get more incensed about foie gras than other forms of husbandry, or even agriculture in general (the conditions that immigrant workers live in, for instance), but I don't feel that food should be banned (especially when the one producer in the state is using absolutely the most ethical techniques known for raising foie gras). The bill would've seemed more appropriate (though still unfortunate) if they banned force-feeding rather than the production and the sale of f.g., though I haven't checked yet to see if the bill made it through the Assembly with the ban on sales still in place. Anyway, I'll be curious to see what the governor does with this bill. He might see it as a way to throw a bone to the left, since he's at constant loggerheads with them. He loses little by signing it into law (see comments about small percentage of population that actually eats it), but a lot more people will be outraged if he vetoes it.
  21. Do you have a reference on this, out of curiosity? I had read that as well, but when I asked people in France who study foie gras (I'm writing an article about the ethics of foie gras), they said that it wasn't so much a ban in 15 years on force-feeding as it was that they were required to study alternate methods (see Dr. Alexander's comments at the end of the EU document you cited earlier). What will be banned (I forget the timeline) is battery-style cages, common in many large-scale European facilities, though not in any of the three American companies. Even Dr. Broom, one of the authors of the EU document, didn't mention an outright 15-year ban, so I'd love to get something concrete on this.
  22. Incidentally, I note the article mentions "a few farms". There's only one, though it's possibly confusing since Sonoma Foie Gras has two labels (Sonoma Foie Gras and Artisan).
  23. The writing has been on the wall with this one ever since the Assembly released their analysis. They based most of their research on the EU working group's analysis, which some argue was predisposed to disapprove of foie gras. The original source materials (say, from Gerard Guy's group) are more neutral. Even Guillermo at Sonoma Foie Gras has resigned himself to this, and as someone earlier pointed out, will be looking for ways to produce foie gras without force-feeding (some research on this has been done before, by the way, but I don't think PETA and all will accept lobotomies as a viable alternative). I wish him luck; foie gras as we know it today (with the funnel and food as opposed to just pushing food into a goose) has been around for 2000 years.
  24. In the beating a dead horse with a stick camp (I just noticed this thread), when I was there several times last year for an article about the west side wineries, I heard both pronunciations, but indeed most people just say Paso.
  25. The ones I check every day that haven't been mentioned (I also read C & Z and tastingmenu and The Food Section and Cooking With Amy): The Domestic Goddess Cheese Diaries Vinography - not a food blog per se, but you can't have food without wine. I obviously check my own blog for comments. Would I recommend mine? I don't know. I definitely use it as a public incarnation of the directive that writers should write on a regular basis, and not just when on assignment. There are things I want to change, different ideas I want to explore, but I have fun with it.
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