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Posts posted by Darren72

  1. From LeAnn's Bravo blog:

    The fridges had been overloaded with hot food the night before and one of them broke down. The problem was with Radhika, Hosea, and Melissa's food. After speaking with Liz, one of the exec producers, we saw that technically we could still give them 2 hours to do something before they had to get in a van to come to the ballroom. I told Angie that Radhika should use the leftover duck legs in the fridge, but Radhika didn't want to use the legs. I told her that the closest grocery store would probably only have chicken breasts, which she agreed to, so Angie and Peder ran out and came back with 20 lbs of chicken breast and 2 whole pork loins. It was the best they could do in Bushwick at the last minute. By the time they got back the duck legs were already being cooked (thank goodness). I had spoken with Bengt and heard that all of the contestants were pitching in to help so we were confident they would be able to get it done in time. At this point the producers already knew they couldn't send anyone home because of the fridge incident (it unlevels the playing field, therefore we can't eliminate anyone), but the chefs didn't know this.
  2. Re: "one pot" meals.....

    I'm not what people would call "intelligent", but does a meal count as one-pot as long as you only use one POT, but as many pans as necessary?  Just curious, because if that's the case I've been one lazy bastard when it comes to my favorite one pot dishes.......

    I don't think anyone used one pot plus pans. The challenge was that you had to use one pot or one pan. You didn't have to do a "one pot meal" - i.e. a stew, braise, etc. You could certainly use one pot and cook ingredients separately.

  3. That's what I was wondering! Tom was telling the chefs they were getting a Christmas gift of no eliminations -- and I'm pretty certain it wasn't filmed last Christmas.

    Again, a kind of sleazy touch.

    Eugene should've been gone.

    It's a tv show - give 'em a break! :)

  4. I'll chime in with another vote of support for the Capresso Infinity (in black for $90). I have one and have bought a few as gifts over the years. It's a great grinder for anyone who is not going to make espresso. Your french press and drip coffees will definitely improve relative to using your blade grinder (don't throw out the blade grinder - use if to grind spices).

    One extra note: if you are going to invest in a burr grinder, you should also follow other steps to making good coffee. Use fresh beans. Store your beans in an airtight container, away from light. Most importantly: use the proper amount of grounds - 2.5 tablespoons per 8oz cup.

  5. I'm surprised not to see any julep strainers here. I was looking at this one but wasn't sure what to look for. Thoughts? Sources?

    I own this julep strainer. It does the job, but it is quite low quality. The metal is really thin - you could very easily squeeze it and bend the metal. I'd keep looking.

    Someone asked why bother with a julep strainer. It's marginally easier to clean out bits of mint (hence the name) from a julep strainer than from a Hawthorne strainer. As Sam said, it's not a necessary tool, but I like having it in the collection.

  6. It was, she spit that one out. The avocado one also illicited some strong comments from her though. I love Avocado shakes and mousses as well...odd that she thought it was such a horrible idea,

    I don't recall her thinking it was a bad idea, just bad execution. Maybe I am not remembering it correctly.

  7. Thanks again everyone for all of the replies. My wife travels to Seattle for work fairly often and I'll accompany here when I can. We look forward to working our way through the other suggestions.

    Zig Zag was great. Very cool atmosphere. As I wrote above, we first went to Elliot's for their Oyster New Year, which was a blast. Oysters from probably 25 different places, about 25 area wines, live music....it was incredibly fun (especially for two Chicagoans who are used to paying $3/oyster).

    Then we headed to Zig Zag. We walked in a grabbed the first table we saw free. Then a host saw us and escorted us to one of the larger, half circle tables. Way to make us feel welcome. The drinks were amazing.

    We also had lunch at Matt's at the Market and a dinner one night at Quinn's. What a weekend of great eating! Can't wait to return.

  8. NY will definitely hold a place to a standard and 'call' them on it if they fall short.  Chicago folks, interestingly enough. seem to accept things as they are more than would happen in NY.

    You are also posting thoughts on Chicago restaurants at LTHforum.com. It seems a lot of your posts are along the lines of "this place would never last in NY," or "the food scene in Chicago doesn't hold a candle to that in NY". Naturally you are going to get some pushback from people who think you are basing your judgment on a very small sample, and that you aren't picking the best Chicago has to offer. I think you'll also notice on LTHforum (and here) that the people can be incredibly over-critical about Chicago restaurants.

    Your posts at lthforum on the Violet Hour are a good example. Here you had two posts describing your two visits. Over there you only posted about the second (disappointing) visit and basically said that the place isn't very good because they don't make a good Martini. The response you got was that people's tastes differ and that your preferred Martini recipe wasn't necessarily the only "proper" one. I would hardly say this response means people accept mediocrity.

  9. My wife and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation and the One and Only Palmilla. Here's a few quick notes:

    1. Charlie Trotter's restaurant "C" has closed. Jean-George V. will open a restaurant on the property in November.

    2. The food at the resort (at Agua, the Spa, the in-room private dining menu, etc.) are wonderful. The private dining menu is largely a separate menu from that at the Spa and Agua, although any food can be delivered to your room. They will also set up an intimate, romantic setting to eat on your private deck.

    4. The tasting menu at Agua referred to by docsconz is $120 per person plus $65 for wine, if I recall, plus 28% tax and service. We did not try it.

  10. The cherries, sugar, and honey are already combined, so I presume it is too late to use pre-made pectin.

    You add liquid pectin after the fruit and sugar macerate, so it wouldn't be too late to add it.

    Thanks kiliki (although I got this reply after the jam was finished). For future reference, do I need to increase the sugar if I am adding liquid pectin? The original recipe I followed called for a ratio of fruit to sugar of 10 to 8 (i.e. 1 kg of fruit to 800 g of sugar).

  11. I am making a cherry, honey, and mint jam from Christine Ferber's book.

    The recipe calls for 7oz of green apple jelly (which adds pectin). I made this jelly, but it came out more like heavy syrup than jelly. I'm worried that adding this to my cherry jam recipe will not add enough pectin. The cherries, sugar, and honey are already combined, so I presume it is too late to use pre-made pectin.

    Any advice? Should I proceed without the green apple jelly or other pectin and just deal with it? Will the final product be more like cherries in syrup than like jam?


  12. Kathryn,

    I am sorry that you were disappointed. One note: the waiter's actions when you asked about the wine were completely normal and appropriate. You weren't satisfied with the wine and most good restaurants will replace it, no questions asked, whether it was indeed "off" or not. (Imagine if he had said, "No, the wine is not off. It just isn't very good. Enjoy your meal.") You should have been charged the cost of your original bottle, though, not for the more expensive replacement.

  13. I think he's just trying to say that the drinks that are seemingly very different are, in fact, related; they are variations on a theme.

    But they aren't! The Margarita and the Manhattan are not variations on the same theme.

    I think we're going in circles on a pretty trivial semantic issue here. The drinks are variations on his theme - a theme that you view as misleading, uniformed, or both. We get it. Classifying vermouth as sweet and bitters as sour is wrong, wrong, just plain wrong. These two drinks are from different branches of the cocktail tree and shouldn't be discussed together. Again, we get it. :) So why do I keep replying? I guess it's because I think tying the phrase "I don't see a lot of differences here" to a fundamental misunderstanding of mixology seems like a cheap shot and pushing intellectual content where none really exists.

  14. I'm not seeing a lot of differences here," says Bittman.  Really?!  Not seeing a lot of differences between a Margarita and a  Manhattan?  Isn't that like saying you don't see a lot of differences between pancakes and biscuits?

    It should be clear that he is saying there isn't much different in the method of alcohol, sweet, and sour. He clearly isn't saying that there isn't much difference between a Margarita and a Manhattan.

    Pancakes and biscuits both contain flour, milk, fat and baking powder. That's my point. In fact, pancakes and biscuits are more closely related than a Margarita and a Manhattan. And yet, I'm guessing we'd be saying it was kind of dumb if a guy did a show saying "I looked around at a bunch of bread-like recipes and noticed that about 80% of them are made with flour, milk, fat and baking powder" then did a show on pancakes and then, at the conclusion, made biscuits saying, "I'm not seeing a lot of differences here." How about this? How about, there is a big difference between simple syrup and vermouth? How about, there's an even bigger difference between lime juice and bitters?! To be fair, if his point was "cocktails are made out of liquor and other stuff" then it's all spot on! But that's hardly helpful.

    I think he's just trying to say that the drinks that are seemingly very different are, in fact, related; they are variations on a theme. You know more than he does about cocktails and see that he has glossed over important differences. But I think you are also reading a lot more into his words than you should be (and his words from a video - not the article, when he presumably had more time to choose his words carefully).

    When writers in other sections of the paper write about things that I know about, they get a lot of details wrong. It's natural to ask "why didn't they just ask so-and-so!?" Sadly, that isn't how most media works.

  15. Bittman sayd, "Why not treat the margarita like a dish of pasta with tomatoes, assuming a few given ingredients but varying them according to your taste?"

    Why not, indeed?  But one might hope that (1) Bittman would suggest that someone actually make a fairly orthodox pasta sauce or two before thinking outside the box; (2) he would provide readers with some understanding of how good pasta sauces work and why they are typically structured the way they are; and (3) he wouldn't use as his demonstration example a pasta sauce consisting of a cup of ground tomato, 1/4 clove of garlic and a tablespoon of red pepper.

    Here is his "master recipe" for cocktails: "For me, most cocktails look like this: A stiff pour of alcohol, say a quarter cup, over ice; very little sweetener, a teaspoon or at the most two; a tablespoon or more of lime juice."  That scales to 2 ounces of spirit, 1/6 - 1/3 ounce of sweet and 1/2 ounce or more of lime juice.  This is hardly an example of good mixology.

    Then, he has the audacity to write that the idea of making your "cocktails from scratch, ignoring the names and acknowledging your preferences" is one that "clearly comes from the perspective of cook, not bartender."  Like there's a single cocktailian bartender out there who doesn't know how to adjust Margarita or Sidecar ratios in dozens of ways to accommodate ingredients as well as individual tastes.

    ETA:  He also misses the boat on a golden opportunity to talk about balance in a sour cocktail.  How to figure your way towards making a cocktail that is neither sour nor sweet, but both and neither.

    All good points, no question. I think he was trying to be the opposite of the person who says "You have to make it this way...". I agree that he could have done a better job though.

  16. I've watched the video and I think slkinsey was a little harsh in his original assessment.

    Next, he says that he looked around at old recipes for cocktails, and discovered that "80% or so of cocktails are pretty much made from that same formula."  Really?  80% of cocktails are Sours?

    Is it 30%, 90%? Who knows and who cares? How would you ever determine such a thing (80% of drinks ordered this year? Ordered ever? 80% of the drinks listed in some book?) He's clearly making the point that many drinks have sweet and sour components.

    Lomonaco starts things off by explaining that what they're doing is taking raw alcohol and combining it with things to "make it more palatable."

    Brad Noname starts off with a "classic" Margarita, which he compounds with tequila, lime and 1:1 simple syrup (which Lomonaco says should be boiled).  They discuss the necessity of using quality ingredients, and then Lomonaco says that simple syrup helps to make the spirit more palatable again.  Why anyone would need to make $50/bottle Patron tequila "more palatable" is a mystery to me. 

    It is unfortunate that Brad refereed to a "classic" Margarita and then made a drink with tequila, simple syrup, and lime juice. Although there certainly isn't anything wrong with making or enjoying this drink, "classic" is not the correct description.

    They weren't saying that the Patron by itself wasn't palatable. Earlier in the episode, Lomonaco says that a cocktail takes raw alcohol, and then adds ingredients to make it more palatable. When they make the Margarita, he comes back to this idea and says that the simple sugar makes the drink more palatable. He also says that the alcohol (i.e. the Patron) has a nice taste on its own. He clearly isn't implying anything different.

    So what's wrong with saying that other ingredients make the alcohol more palatable? If I may quote from page 71 of The Joy of Mixology, "Mixed drinks of all kinds should glide down the throat easily, and since most cocktails have a spirit base, the addition of ingredients containing less or no alcohol is needed to cut the strength of the drink and make it more palatable." Lomonaco was saying the exact same thing.

    "I'm not seeing a lot of differences here," says Bittman.  Really?!  Not seeing a lot of differences between a Margarita and a  Manhattan?  Isn't that like saying you don't see a lot of differences between pancakes and biscuits?

    It should be clear that he is saying there isn't much different in the method of alcohol, sweet, and sour. He clearly isn't saying that there isn't much difference between a Margarita and a Manhattan.

  17. I didn't want this to turn into a bitter bout of Bittman bashing!  Overall, I like his work.  I just think this represented him at his very worst, primarily because he doesn't seem to have much background in cocktails.

    Unfortunately, I don't think that cocktails are a particularly good fit for his extreme reductive approach.  We're not talking about reducing a restaurant recipe with 22 ingredients and 13 individual steps into something equally delicious, if less refined, that contains many of the same ideas and can be accomplished with 5 ingredients and 3 steps.

    Ultimately, making cocktails is very simple once you have a recipe or even a basic ratio.  You want to make a Margarita?  Fine.  It's got three ingredients: tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice.  Let's say you're using 2 ounces of tequila.  There are a few ways you can make it.  An ounce each of lime juice and Cointreau will give you a bracing tart drink.  A half-ounce of each will give you a more spirit-centric drink.  3/4 ounce of each is in the middle somewhere.  Want something that focuses more on the liqueur? Use 1.5 ounces of tequila, 1 ounce of Cointreau and a half ounce of lime.   Or go further in that direction with 1.5 ounces each of tequila and Cointreau and 3/4 ounce of lime.  Now we have more or less outlined all the usual variations of the Margarita.

    This would then be an opportunity for a reductive approach to say: "See, they're all just ratios.  2:1:1 or 4:1:1 or 3:2:1 or 2:2:1 and so on.  All you need to do is think about how you like your 'New Orleans Sours' and you can make a million of them using these ratios.  Switch up the spirit and the sour as much as you like.  Cognac and lemon?  You got yourself a Sidecar.  Citrus vodka, lime and a splash of cranberry?  A Cosmopolitan.  Spend the summer sipping your way through a bottle of Cointreau and trying different ratios and different spirits.  Then, think about this:  there are lotws of other liqueurs you can use instead of Cointreau?  There's..."

    It's all very simple, really.  Much easier than, say, making your own pizza from scratch.  But, of course, you need to have at least a basic understanding of cocktails to explain this to someone -- and that's apparently something Mark Bittman doesn't have.  Step #2 would have been going to someone else who has some expertise in cocktails.  Instead we got Lomonaco and his sidekick Brad.  And, unfortunately, since he didn't have the background to apply his reductive approach in the right direction (ratios), he ended up just dumbing down what is already pretty simple.

    I realize that the video has a lot of misinformation, but the article pretty much follows your script about varying the ingredients:

    I figured out how I liked my margarita and ordered it that way: good tequila, a teaspoon or so of triple sec, and lots of lime. (Some bartenders acted like that was a novel drink. Others said I wanted a traditional margarita. I suppose.)

    Then I did some thinking and reading about cocktails. It turns out that if you use vodka instead of tequila, the margarita becomes the kamikaze. Swap cognac for the vodka and lemon for the lime and you have a sidecar.

    Look at the pattern — you might call it the basic recipe — of these drinks, many of which might be grouped as “sours”: they combine liquor with water (usually in the form of ice), a sour flavoring (usually citrus juice) and a sweetener (simple syrup, or something more expensive and flavorful, like Cointreau). You might add a splash of soda or, if you like, fruit juice, which gets you into beachcomber or cosmo territory.

    He even makes your point about varying ratios to get the drink that fits your tastes (although I think you say it more clearly):

    The parallels with cooking are clear. You can start with good ingredients, or not. You can start with someone else’s recipe (on which there are usually a score or more variations) or make the cocktail your own. The point — and this clearly comes from the perspective of cook, not bartender — is this: Why not make cocktails from scratch, ignoring the names and acknowledging your preferences? Why not treat the margarita like a dish of pasta with tomatoes, assuming a few given ingredients but varying them according to your taste?

    I haven't watched the accompanying video, but it sounds like he picked the wrong person to host it and said some strange things. But the article itself isn't bad at all. Could he have packed more information into it? Yes. Could he have been a little more clear about the relevant ratios? (How much is 'lots of lime'?) Of course.

  18. Maybe a throw-down is in order?  Why don't Pegu/PDT/D&Co. (or another serious cocktail bar run by people reading this post) issue a challenge to Bittman... maybe the NYT tasting panel that convenes to do wine and beer stories could judge. 

    That's Bittman's schtick, after all... he's done a whole season on PBS of going to the big-name chefs of various cuisines, letting them do something the right way on camera, and then simplifying the hell out of their ideas and executing his own take in the second half of the program. 

    Try pitching this to the Times and see if you can get a follow-up done.

    Yeah, and on every one of those shows, I always get a kick out of watching the chefs roll their eyes when Bittman does it "his way."

    While I'm not defending Bittman's cocktail foray, this is not an accurate statement about his tv show "How to Cook Everything" or "The Best Food in the World". It's clear that he has a good rapport with the chefs and they generally respect his dishes and goal. Not all of his dishes hit. But I've never seen a chef "roll his eyes," act disrespectfully, or express dislike of a dish in anything other than a friendly and constructive manner.

  19. I literally received this book in the mail yesterday. Any specific questions about it? Randomly flipping through the pages, it seems like a steal at the price I paid for it.

    Does it cover sourdough bread? If so, how extensively?

    I see that Amazon has it for $53. Is this the price you paid?

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