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Liz Johnson

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Posts posted by Liz Johnson

  1. It is a tribute to Steven that the comments on this thread bring back such a flood of good memories of friends and familiar names, back to a time when we all first found each other and loved to come together around our common passions. So many connections, such a community. Such an innovator, such an influencer.


    Thank you, Steven, and heartfelt condolences to PJ and Ellen. A big hug for the Fat Guy.

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  2. Hang in there. I think you're ok.

    The reason some folks take the fat off is either cosmetic or to get more when rendering.

    Hey Chris,

    If people do this, how do they crisp the confit later if there is no skin?


  3. Canola oil is netural and can be used very successfully.  This is especially true if you have some duck fat because the flavor will come from that and the canola is just a way to extend it.

    Darn. Wish I'd done that. I did have enough duck fat to cover about half to 3/4 the way up the duck legs.

  4. I broke down and used the olive oil. AND I put my order in at HVFG. This was my first stab at confit and I know it won't be the last. Plus, I certainly don't mind having a tub of duck fat lying around.

    This confit is destined for cassoulet, so I'm thinking the difference in the flavor there will be negligible. Fingers crossed.

    BTW, do we have any good Vietnamese restaurants in Westchester yet? Connecticut?


    Unbelievably, no. I've heard people say they like The Viet Nam in Spring Valley, but last time I went I wasn't wowed. Not sure it's worth the 40-minute drive from Northern Westchester.

  5. Thanks Rob and Joan. Great suggestions, both.

    I may be in trouble now. My duck has been curing for almost 24 hours and I don't think I have enough duck fat.

    Maybe I should brush the salt off, put back in the fridge and start calling around. After all this work, I don't want to use olive oil.

  6. OK great. Phew! Thanks Chris.

    I don't need ALL the cracklins, so I will do some on the sheet pan and some using the food processor idea.

    I'll report back later today.

  7. So I'm halfway through making duck confit. I cured the legs and wings yesterday and rendered the fat.

    But I'm worried I've made mistakes.

    Are you supposed to trim all the fat off the legs, too? I've seen recipes (and pictures) with the fat on and the fat off. (Mine is on. I'm curing legs, wings and neck with salt, thyme, garlic, shallots and pepper.)

    I'm also having trouble with rendering the fat. I had about 3 1/2 pounds of fat from 4 ducks. I added 3 cups of water (that was likely too much) and simmered (ploop, ploop) on the low burner for 3 hours. I couldn't stay awake any longer so I turned the burner way way down and went to bed. It's been going for 11 hours now ... and the fat is still blubbery.

    Does this mean I'm not getting all the fat? Why hasn't the skin turned to cracklins? I was afraid of high because I didn't want to ruin the fat.

    I poured the liquid fat out and am waiting for it to separate from any water. I spread the solid fat/skin out on a half-sheet pan. I'm thinking low oven until they crisp? What temp? Will I get more fat?


  8. I think when Jane made it she only garnished. I tried it with muddling and it's great that way. I used about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cucumbers and 3 sprigs of mint per drinks. Very refreshing.

  9. I'm about to start work on the Badminton Club, which I tasted during this visit to PDT. Thanks to Jane for introducing me to it. She wasn't too specific, but here's what I got out of her:

    Over 3/4 St. Germaine elderflower liqueur

    2 gin

    1/4 simple syrup

    3/4 lemon

    Couple cucumbers


    Top with soda in a rocks glass.

    I'm thinking I'll muddle the cukes?

  10. Hi Crackers.

    You can find a lot of things on my work blog (Small Bites, link in my signature below).

    White Plains is a hot spot right now. BLT Steak just opened; Peniche is a great tapas place; 42 at the top of the Ritz Carlton is a fancy, special occasion place; Antipasti is by NYC chef Rick Laakkonen.

    In New Rochelle there are a ton of great Mexcian places. That Little Mexican Cafe comes to mind. (There's a restaurant search at lohud.com/dining)

    There's also a place I'm wanting to try in New Rochelle called Spadaro. (211 Main Street, New Rochelle. 235-4595.) It's not in our restaurant listings yet because I haven't been yet. No menu. No freezer. It's whatever they make that day. Chef Antonio Spadaro is from Rome. Cross your fingers.

    In Bronxville, Underhills Crossing is popular, but I haven't been in years.

  11. I'm surprised you had such an unpleasant experience at Aguila y Sol; I have found the service quite good, in fact MORE laid back than normal - and I also hate pushy over-zealous service. Give it another try sometime.

    It's a deal.

    On the other hand, I find the food at Pujol somewhat pretentious...

    Of course, it could all depends on your mood. Mine was much better the evening we went to Pujol.

    As for Rojo Bistro and the "not Mexican" idea:  .. they can be a welcome respite from "la tradicional". And some of them, such as Bistro Mosiaco, are quite good on their own merits. Don't get me wrong: my first ten or so years in Mexico I REFUSED to set foot in a non-Mexican restaurant!

    That's kind of what I figured. I'm glad I went.

    I decided that Mexico City is a great cosmopolitan city, like the one I live in.  I eat in French restaurants here, so if the taste strikes me I'm not going to avoid them in the DF.

    My thoughts exacto!

    Elizabeth, thanks for your report and the links to your blog. I did not have the chance to experience Aguila y Sol for myself, but I concur with your view of Pujol.

    Thanks for reading Doc. Glad you liked it.

  12. I'm not sure where to begin, except to apologize for taking so long to post my report. You know, life gets in the way.

    I've already written very detailed reports on my blog, Sour Cherry Farm, but I'll recap here and provide you links. (To see all the Mexico posts, you should click on the archives for November and December. Now that they've been up for a couple weeks, I back dated them to reflect the actual days of the trip.)

    The first few days of my trip were in Cuernavaca and Taxco, so I posted on those threads first.

    Here's Cuernavaca. Here's Taxco.

    I had five days of dining in DF, and three of them were at high-end places.

    Aguila y Sol.

    This place pissed me off. We were tired and weary from traveling. We'd been to an all-day wedding Saturday, walked all over billyhell in Taxco Sunday, and drove in from Taxco and settled in our studio apartment Monday. By Monday night, we were looking for a relaxing, pleasurable experience.

    It was like dining with the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. The pace was maddeningly quick. The flurry of waiters around the table was distracting. And the rest of the customers were so straighbacked and serious we couldn't relax. Finally, after a margarita that we didn't really order (it was pretty much forced on us), we started to feel better and I took out the camera.

    I only got this shot and a couple more off —


    — before the waiter came over to tell me that photographs were not allowed. I was surprised, and now very annoyed. Our every move was scrutinized.

    You know what? The food was actually very good. But I had such an unpleasant experience that I would never go back. On the way out, I asked for a menu so I could remember our dinner better. The hostess refused. "It's not our policy."

    Here's my full report. (Which, apparently, has made someone named Beatriz quite upset.)


    Oh my. My favorite. It was wonderful. The food was inventive, playful, delicious — and the atmosphere was relaxed and the pace easy.

    It's a small room, spare but not sparse. The food is teetering on avant-garde, but is still grounded. I got the cocoa-crusted venison and my husband had the tongue. All the food was spectacular and the service amazing.


    Sour Cherry Farm goes to Pujol.


    I liked Tezka, and would definitely go back. But I think I'd like to go with more people. The restaurant's decor and atmosphere is very austere, while the food is anything but. I think a livelier table (or maybe just more customers) would help make up for that difference.

    This dish —


    — was unbelievable. Each and every vegetable sang a note clear as day, yet they all played so nicely together in the bowl.

    Unfortunately, I took so long to write up more report — here it is — that some of the details are foggy.

    So those are the high end.

    We took the advice of eGers and made a trip to Azul y Oro (clicky) on the campus of UNAM. Wow are we glad we did.

    Here's that hot chocolate everyone is raving about:


    The food was terrific. I loved my cream of cilantro soup. We also had tortilla soup, duck ravioli with mole and cochinita pibil. All the flavors were true and you could tell the food was prepared with love.

    Other meals:

    Sanborn's in the House of Tiles. I can't help it. I love the restaurant — it's like an old friend. I was so pysched to take my husband there. We had breakfast, and the meal held us until dinner!


    Tapas at Capicua. We wanted a pick-a-little, talk-a-little meal and this really fit the bill. Was it the best food ever? No. But it was good to be in a casual spot that's popular in the neighborhood. And the serrano ham was great.

    Drinks at El Hijo de Cuervo in Coyoacan. Fun people watching on the square. We wanted to go to Los Danzantes (there's a photo on that post I'm linking to), but they wouldn't give us a table just for drinks, so we went across the park.

    Drinks and snacks overlooking the Zocalo at the Holiday Inn. What a view! What terrible food! It's worth it, though. Especially at Christmastime with all the lights. Mira:



    Drinks at La Opera in the centro. What a cool old place. We didn't eat here, but we liked the rococo, late 18th century feel.

    Tenampa in Garibaldi square. We wanted to go to Cafe de Tacuba for dinner, but it was closed on Friday night. (The inauguration scared enough people that DF was very empty that night.) So since our plan was to head to Garibaldi after dinner at Cafe de Tacuba, we just went and ate up there. It was nothing special. Except, of course, for the mariachi bands!

    Drinks at the Condesa DF. Thanks, Ruth, for this suggestion! We loved being above the trees. And the hibiscus margies were a bit hit.

    Rojo Bistrot. I'm surprised that we ended up here, because I feel like it's not really "DF," but in a way, it is really DF. I like visiting the neighborhood spots and seeing how people who live there dine day-to-day. The food was quite tasty and we had a lot of fun.

    The cheese and pate plate-salad thingy:


    I know there are so many place I didn't get to. I'll have to go back!

  13. We spent one night in Taxco in November. And each of our three meals there, we tried to go to the pozole place that Rancho Gordo and Jaymes recommended. It was cerrado each time.

    Our three meals were eaten wedged in tables on balconies at three different restaurants. Hey, in Taxco, it's all about the view, right?

    La Parroquia, on the zocalo, overlooking the church, where we just had some simple tourist fare of quesadillas and guac:


    Here are more photos, including of the view.

    For dinner, we ate at El Adobe on the other main square with the glorieta. (Oh my god. Driving in Taxco is worse than driving in India as far as I'm concerned. Here's a funny post about us driving to the hotel.)

    El Adobo (blog report here) was pretty good. My favorite dish was this Mexican version of potato skins.


    Our last meal was the worst. We were still hoping the pozole place would be open, but alas, not until 2 p.m., and we had to get out of town before then.

    Do not, under any circumstances, go to Cafe Borda. It was the worst food at the most expensive price of anything in our 10 days in Mexico.

    It was $35 for two breakfasts, which included cold, soggy huevos rancheros with a sauce that tasted like black pepper and a piece of ham opened from the Oscar Meyer package.


    We stayed at the Hotel Victoria, which I would not recommend either. It's pretty dank. But the view was amazing.


    So, to sum it up

    Highly recommended

    El Adobo


    La Parroquia

    Not recommeded at all in any way, shape or form:

    Cafe Borda.

  14. I'm also posting in the DF thread, but since this part of my trip was in Cuernavaca, this information is more appropriate here.

    So the reason for my trip was the wedding of the sister of the family I lived with for nearly a year in the mid 1990s. Let's just say it's a long story, but I did a lot of wandering during that time of my life. (Europe, Asia, India, Australia, Mexico and Central America.)

    The first thing we ate in Mexico was one of the best dishes of the entire trip. I kid you not. This chile en nogada was two stores down from our hotel Hotel Antigua Posada near El Centro.


    It was a little place on Av. Galeana called La Casa de los Exquisitos. Really. Here's my post.

    Our other favorite restaurant in Cuernavaca was a place called Restaurant Taxco. (Post here, mixed with photos of La India Bonita.) It was also on Galeana, near the Centro. We only had breakfast there, but the sauces on our eggs were rockin'.

    The reason these were our favorites in Cuernavaca is because the fine dining in the city, well.... It's not very creative. I walked by Gaia, which is supposed to be one of the best restaurants, and the menu looked boring.

    We went to Las Mananitas — on Thanksgiving, and they were offering a prix fixe expat meal with roast turkey. We were hoping it would have been with mole, but since it wasn't, we ordered off the regular menu. We adore the setting and how we were pampered, the food was good but not great. The flavors just didn't wow.


    But how could you not enjoy dinner there? Look at this:



    Full report here.

    We also went to La India Bonita. The crema de poblano soup was terrific. The rest of the meal was eh. And there weren't any Spanish speakers there.

    And we went to Marco Polo. Terrible stuff. I mean, this is their Caesar salad.


    See my blog report here.

    Our favorite food experience in Cuernavaca was going to the market.

    Warning: graphic pig image coming.


    We had so much fun wandering around and tasting things and talking to people. We were looking for a good taqueria to have lunch, but we were told the best tacos in Cuernavaca were at Tacos Orientales.

    Here are a ton of photos from the market.

    I was worried we wouldn't get to taste the Tacos Orientales because they're not open for lunch, and we had the wedding to attend on our last day. Well, we were in luck.

    After the wedding ceremony, heading to the reception for a comida and then six to seven hours of dancing, the bride and groom provided sustenance to mop up all that tequila!

    Se los presento Tacos Orientales!


    We couldn't get to Tacos Orientales? They came to us — setting up a cart outside the wedding tent and serving tacos to the hungry masses:


    Here's the particulars for Tacos Orientales. The tacos al pastor were garlicky, spicy and greasy. Just the way I love 'em. (And they had the pineapple, too.)


    That's about it for Cuernavaca. We only spent three days.

    To sum it up:

    Highly recommended:

    La Casa de los Exquisitos.

    Restaurant Taxco

    Tacos Orientales

    A trip to the market


    Las Mananitas

    Not recommended:

    Marco Polo

    La India Bonita (except for the cream of poblano soup).

  15. This is Ricardo Muñoz Zurita's resto and even though it's on the UNAM campus and does only comida, it is incredibly good. Ricardo is a certified master chef trained in the U.S. and Europe. He's written several excellent cookbooks and the Enciclopdia Culinario which is a seminal work on Mexican cuisine. I had Mexican hot chocolate there one morning and it is without a doubt the single best cup of hot chocolate I have ever had in any country.........and it was made with water.

    Great Kalypso. Thanks for the advice. I will make it a point to get to Azul y Oro.

    I notice by your sig line that you are a food writer, are you by any chance a member of IACP?  If so, Ricardo works with Marilyn Tausend on her tours and with Rick Bayless as well.

    I'm not a member of IACP. James Beard and the Association of Food Journalists, but not IACP.

    In addition, Ricardo is a very warm and friendly fellow. When i return to Mexico City his restaurant will be a must for me.

    Great doc! Not only will I make it a point to go, I will make it a point to introduce myself.

    Thank you both.

  16. Last time I was in the DF, made a point to go to El Moro.  After having had chocolate and churros in Spain, I was really looking forward to the chocolate and churros in the DF because I assumed they'd be the same.  At first, I was disappointed at El Moro because the chocolate, though delicious, was not the thick gooey delight that one gets in Spain.

    So I studied the menu more closely and discovered that they had chocolate "Spanish style."

    Of course, had to order it to see if that was what I was looking for.

    And it was.  So I'd recommend it to anyone that is looking for curros & chocolate a la Espana.

    OK great. I'll get there.

    Breakfasts in el DF.

    Some of my favorite memories of dining in the DF are breakfasts.  I really, really loved El Cardenal (the original one), another place where one should order the hot chocolate to make the morning meal perfect.

    And Liz, I'd suggest that just for tradition's sake, you also have a breakfast at the Sanborn's (the one with all the tile outside) in El Centro.  I love the atmosphere of that place.

    Rancho and I, along with a few others, had a magical trip to the DF and Taxco a while back.  Admittedly, my dining companions probably added to the ambience, but I'd still recommend that you stop in there for breakfast one of your mornings.

    Thanks Jaymes. I forgot to add that. My husband's never been to Mexico and I agree, he needs to see Sanborn's in the house of tiles.

    Where did you stay and eat in Taxco? We might do a day trip.

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