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Dave Hatfield

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Everything posted by Dave Hatfield

  1. On another aspect of this discussion the economics involved with wait staff. With tipping it is the customer who primarily determines the value of the wait person. (Assuming that the salary is a much lower portion of their total compensation.) They do this via the size of their tips. With no tipping the salary of the wait staff is determined by the market. Offer too low a wage & you'll get no applicants for your job. Offer a higher wage & you'll get more applicants. Offer a very high wage and you'll attract the very best wait staff. ECON 101. Obviously, as an owner I want wait staff that do a good job, but I don't want to pay over the odds. Letting the customer decide the value/quality of wait staff by the amount they tip is an acceptable method of determining compensation, BUT breaks down in a culture where 15% is EXPECTED regardless of the quality of the job done. This is the current situation in the USA. In the no tipping situation the owner can pretty quickly evaluate the quality of a wait person and act accordingly. That is fire the bad ones and raise the salary of the good ones. As a customer I'd much prefer that the restaurant owner pay them wait staff adequately, have that cost included to the price of my meal and be able to know the total cost of my meal up front.
  2. I would have to guess that the price of meals is higher if there's no tipping and the restaurateur has to pay the wait staff more per hour. The question is; is the combined total larger of smaller than a meal + tip situation. I don't know the answer. In a perfect world the total would be the same or less. All I can give are examples, but again how relevant are they from country to country? Yesterday we had lunch at a nice local restaurant. The fixed price lunch (2 courses plus cheese & dessert) was 14.50€ ($19.00) This was for the meal and included service. This would be roughly $ 16.00 in the US before tipping, but including taxes. Hard to say whether this is more or less than a place where service is 'optional'. Excellent meal by the way!
  3. Tipping!! I'm dreading it. We're coming to the states next month for three weeks & will be eating in restaurants quite a bit. HAVING to tip just drives me nuts. Here in France one just does not tip. Well, maybe the loose change, but nothing serious. I'm not quite sure how the French did it as when I first started coming her in the late 60's - early 70's tipping was endemic. If you didn't leave 15% then the waiter would let you know about it. Now, no tipping. So, it can be done. Maybe we can learn how in the states. All I know is that I hate doling out the money. Still, I'm not brave enough Not to tip when in the states. The tyranny of the server!!
  4. We'll be visiting the Ft Pierce area in February. Staying for a couple of weeks. We're looking for recommendations as to the best places to dine. We eat just about anything, but would be particularly interested in places that serve the best fish or steaks or Mexican or Cuban. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
  5. We did indeed have a dry summer here in SW France. We then had a lot of rain, but the ground is still dryer than normal. These kind of fluctuations are normal in our area. The experts at the Lalbenque market, however say that the crop is pretty normal so far. They expect that quantities will improve in the new year; January & March are typically the best months. We have friends who have a truffle 'ranch' (or maybe we should call it an orchard??). They planted inoculated trees 8 years ago and have been getting a good crop for the past three years. Their truffle hound is a ten year old Labrador named Marcel. I'm not going to worry about a shortage yet. Wonder what the Mayans had to say about this?
  6. Dave Hatfield

    Pork Belly

    I personally don't think that brining either wet or dry adds much if anything to pork belly. For me just a good long slow cook does the trick. I like to place my belly over halved onions so they pick up the flavor & end up nice & soft. I also find that a slow cook with the skin on sets things up for making great crackling at the end.
  7. How were the dates with the cheese? I've never tried that. Aged Gruyere is great as is aged Gouda. Both favorites & obtainable here even though they're not really French. ( The French might claim Gruyere, but I think the Swiss have a better story.)
  8. Found my special cheese guy at St Antonin market this morning and sure enough he had some Bresse. Its Domaine de Bresse though not Blue de Bresse. It is, however, the real deal. Nothing like the cardboard stuff sold as Blue de Bresse. Here it is. You can see that its creamy and has blue veins running though it. Its tasty with a bit of bite, but not too strong. You probably can't read the small print, but it says that its made from veined 'pâte'. Pâte in this case being the curd. The cheese is from pasteurized cow's milk. It comes from the Department of Ain which is in the Rhone-Alps region. Another hard to find blue cheese from the region is Gex; unpasteurized milk in this case & a different bacteria. Interestingly, the bacteria in Domaine de Bresse is the same as that in Roquefort. It is, therefore, a close cousin of Stilton from England although I think Stilton is made from unpasteurized milk. Taste wise there are some similarities. While I was buying I also bought some Jefou which I'd never seen before. When I looked this up it turned out to be from my friends at Le Pic in Penne. Its new creation of theirs. Not bad, but I don't think it will go on my list of favorites. Anyway Rotus I seem to have cracked the Blue de Bresse mystery for you.
  9. Dave Hatfield

    Pork Belly

    Radtek That's a good price. I pay about € 2.95 a kilo when on sale. (about $3.77 if my conversion is correct.) Thus about $ 1.89 a pound. Not much different, but its more when not on sale. Rotuts Lurk away.
  10. Be continental. Serve the 'ice' after the oyster soup & before the turkey. Its a nice palette cleanser. My advice for cheese with a meal this large is to choose one superb cheese only & serve that. St Félicien if you can get it is strong enough to stand up to the rest of the meal.
  11. Dave Hatfield

    Pork Belly

    I buy pork belly on a regular basis. Its easy to find & very cheap to buy here in France. I freeze it most times as I like to buy when its on sale. It freezes just fine. Just make sure its well wrapped; I use zip lock type bags with as much air squeezed out as possible. My favorite way to prepare it is a very slow roast. My recipe is on my blog.
  12. I've done some searches, but can't seem to find any posts about this classic dish from Northern France. I'm making Choucrute for dinner tomorrow and would appreciate any tips you may have. I'm using sourcrout bought from a the charcuterie section of a large local market. I've got proper hot dogs, smoked pork sausage, poitrine and smoked lardons for my meats. I'll wash the crout so its not too salty and cook it in a nice Riesling with juniper berries & coriander seeds before adding the meats & then slowly cooking it in a sealed crock. Any hints, tips or advice?
  13. Interesting debate. My solution is to use both ceramic and steel knives. I have two ceramics, a 4" paring type and a 7" which I use for fine slicing. They are fragile so aren't much good for chopping and need to be handled with care. My German steel knives are great, but I guess I'm too lazy to spend a lot of time getting a super sharp edge and too cheap to buy the necessary equipment to do so. I just use a diamond impregnated steel and it keeps them sharp enough for most purposes. And, of course, they're rugged, and thus perfect for bashing, chopping & dicing. For me having both types works perfectly/
  14. I'm sitting here in front of the computer spreading crumbs all over as I type this cheesy post. We went to Albi today and whilst the ladies shopped for clothes My friend Rob & I visited the beautifully restored covered market. There were all kinds of wonderful edibles for sale, but I was good & only bought cheeses, First, I bought some great looking Parmesan from an Italian specialty shop. I got a nice chunk so it should last for a while. After perusing two beautiful cheese stands I exercise great restraint and only bought two little cheeses. They both are chevres, but they come from very different parts of France. Here's the first: As you can see its called; Le Fontadam. It come from the Pitou-Charents area from near a small village called Chail. I'm not sure who actually made it because its by: Jeqan-Noel Lavergne who is a collecteur- Affineur so I'm not sure whether he made the cheese or bought & aged it. In this case I think he made it because the label says 'lait de Melange' (mixed milk). In any case its a fairly firm chevre with a nice bite to it. Not too strong at this stage of development. I can assure you that it won't last long enough to develop much further. My second cheese is from much closer to home. Its from near Carmaux. ( Carmaux is an old mining town & probably the ugliest town in our area) I'm glad I didn't hold that against the cheese. As far as I can find out its from a village just North of Carmaux in the Tarn hills. Its a raw milk cheese and what's interesting is that its first wrapped in linen along with a sprig of rosemary and then aged for a week or so. Its then unwrapped and formed into it's quenelle like shape. I can assure you that it is drop dead delicious. Again, it won't last long. My contribution for the day. What cheese did YOU eat today??
  15. Peanut butter & dill pickles sandwiches are great, in fact nearly as good as peanut butter and American mustard ones.
  16. Couldn't resist this quick post. When I went into our local shop for bread this morning I noticed they had in some local cheeses. As you can see the only label is the price. These come from a local sheep farmer whose wife makes the cheeses every so often. These felt as if they were ready to eat so I bought one. Last of the big spenders at 1.05€. I was almost right. Probably another day would have been perfect. Could have been marginally runnier. I managed anyway. Absolutely delicious. Some will complain that I didn't eat it on proper French bread which is true, but I also like cheese on the crisp Swedish crackers. Chaque'un a son gout!
  17. "DH: can you get Bleu de Bresse? http://en.wikipedia..../Bleu_de_Bresse although Google thinks this is a 'bigginers' cheese, a billion years ago I though it was the Cats Meow in FR. if you see it in passing, Im very curious about the prices in FR vs here " Rotuts - There's a curious thing about Bleu de Bresse. There are two Bleu de Bresses! Like you I used to love BdeB, then when I tried buying it in the French supermarkets it was terrible. Just blah, hardly any taste at all. Its available everywhere, but hardly worth buying. Very strange and just not the same cheese. This is the stuff that mostly comes in the little round cardboard containers. Yuck! Not too long ago I noticed that one of my favorite cheese vans at market had BdeB, but in a larger block. I tried a sample and was immediately taken back 20 years to the cheese I used to love. Turns out that there are still some small producers who produce 'true' BdeB. The stuff in the cardboard containers comes from the cooperative. ​This particular seller seems to be the only one who stocks what I call real Bleu de Bresse. I'll buy some next time I go to a market where he comes. As you say the real thing is delicious. Mild, but with a wonderful nutty flavor. There's no other blue quite like it in my experience. I'll try to get you some prices as I buy.
  18. Fp, Nice pictures and some nice cheeses. The article on Andante dairy. was interesting. Sounded to me like typical US prejudice about cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Obviously, I haven't tried them and I must cop to a bias against 'cutesy' names, but I'm sympathetic to small producers. Especially those who are located near where I grew up in Santa Rosa.
  19. Caught me!! In my defense I'll say that this is a pretty typical array of cheeses found in our house. The St Andre is the only one not stocked on a regular basis. More normally, there would be a blue in stock. Most likely a Blu des Causses its nice to know that somebody actually not only looks at, but actually reads my blog. Thanks!
  20. I promised to show you some cheeses so here they are. These are all cheeses made from raw goat's milk. I've got three to tell you about today. First comes Selles-sur-Cher. This is an AOC cheese from the middle of France. It is named after the town where it is made. Its best during the summer months, but gets a bit sweeter in the fall. Coincidentally I lived in nearby Chateauroux for about 6 months in 1961. Don't particularly remember the cheese from that time. Next come two from a local producer, Le Pic. They're about half an hour away from us. They've grown from a sort of hippy beginning into a fairly large concern today. They make an amazing variety of goat's cheeses. They've recently started to make a cheese from sheep's (brebis) milk, but I haven't tried it as of yet. I've only got two today but there are many many more. Their website is interesting, mainly in French, but easilyy understood or translated by Google, here it is: http://www.fromages-de-chevre.fr/. Each type of cheese has a brief description in both French & English. There are two paves. One with and the other without ash. Typically mild and slightly 'chalky'. The Rouelle is one of my favorites. With a bit of age it goes gooey and more delicious as the days pass. My kind of cheese. I'll be posting about more of their cheeses as time passes. Rotuts, didn't know I'd been busted or even what I was busted for. Do tell? Via PM if its too embarrassing.
  21. This is exactly the kind of post I was hoping for. Interesting cheeses with links and as a bonus some are available via mail order. More, more please! Again, what I was hoping for. A budding cheese maker, wow! Please keep us up to date on your cheese adventures. These posts are so neat that I'm going to hold off on my next post about some of our local cheeses. The weather was lousy this morning so I didn't go to market anyway. I'll will post on cheese soon though.
  22. Its nearly 4 months since anyone has done a cheeses post. Yet, on my recent food blog there seemed to be more interest in cheese than almost everything else. I'd like to see if we can generate more activity. I'm sure that these days there are plenty of good cheeses being made in the states. I for one would like to hear about them. To kick things off I'm going to do a post on three local varieties of goat's cheese tomorrow. I'd do it tonight, but want better light to take some pictures. Additionally, I might just see if St Antonin market has anything special to offer tomorrow. Let's hear from all of you cheese loving eGulleteers!
  23. I think Mjx is right. Do everything as you did, but submerge the lamb shank or at least nearly so. I do a recipe that's the same ingredients as yours except that I use dry green lentils. I also just let mine cook on top of the stove at a bare simmer. The oven works equally well. 2-3 hours and the lamb is moist, tender and just right. In fact the lentils are the pacing item.
  24. I have found that Julia Child's deconstructed turkey works beautifully. You can easily get both white & dark meat cooked perfectly. In addition you can have the 3 legged turkey by buying an extra leg/thigh thus satisfying those who (like me) prefer the dark meat.
  25. This will be my last post for this foodblog. (Naturally, I'll continue to answer any question you may have.) I was going to quit earlier, but all the cheese heads were complaining about the fact that there was no cheese included in Saturday's lunch. So, I've scoured the fridge and done a bit of shopping just to put together a little selection to satisfy them. Nothing fancy or unusual just some that I buy on a fairly regular basis. Here are the four cheeses I came up with on short notice. Cantal. My go to cheese. We almost always have some around. To me its sort of the French cheddar. Can't beat it. This is the ubiquitous soft Boursin type of cheese with garlic & herbs. Simple, cheap, but lovely. St Andre. Think I showed some before. Very high butterfat content. Originally from Normandy. Sometimes compared to Brie. Lastly my favorite St Felecien. As you can see this one is partly eaten. It never lasts long in our house. I've been known to feature it when occasionally do a one cheese cheese course. These can be fun if you choose an unusual cheese or a superb example of a more familiar one. That's it for the cheese on this blog. I'lll sign off by showing you my simple lunch for today. Here are the ingredients for the sandwich I'm going to make. Whole wheat bread from the local shop. My sandwiches. A smear of Dijon mustard, Slices of garlic sausage, slices of cantal entre-deux, sliced cornichons and a dab of mayonnaise. One of my all time favorite sandwiches. I'm being good and washing it down with a soft drink instead of wine. I've lots to do this afternoon as I'm off for a three day golf holiday tomorrow. Finally, thanks to all of you who had a look at this. I particularly appreciate those who took the time to comment or to ask questions. Hopefully, I'll be back blogging some day in the future. Jusqu'à la prochaine fois; a bientôt.
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