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Everything posted by Darren72

  1. I certainly would not call Detroit a "great restaurant city". But having said that, Detroit is very different in an important respect from most of the other cities that have been thrown around: there has been a flight of wealth out of Detroit proper and into the suburbs to a much greater extent than in most other cities. Thus, if/when greater demand for higher-end restaurants develops in Detroit, I'd predict that a greater fraction of the leading restaurants will be in suburbs. During my time in Ann Arbor, I rarely heard people talk about dining experiences in Detroit proper or in the suburbs closer to the city. It was much more common to hear people talk about dining experience in Chicago (a good 3.5 hour drive).
  2. It's a quite large place so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a seat if you are solo. A friend of mine has visited solo quite a few times grabbed a seat at the bar and talked mixology with some of the bartenders. If you catch them at a less-busy time, I'm sure you'd learn a lot (to follow up on your earlier post about looking for a bar to learn about wine and cocktails). We didn't have any trouble getting a table for three last Friday (though we arrived at 8:30, only 30 minutes after it opened).
  3. I'm a professor. I could laugh at the dumb things that students ask every day. But then I remember that they asked the question because they want to learn. This guy called a wine shop because he had a question about wine. Wouldn't the best response have been to tell him that most wine does not benefit from aging, perhaps give him a two-three sentence explanation of which wine might benefit from aging so he doesn't face the same issue next time? Edited to add: ok, now that I've gotten further along in this thread, I see that someone else asked the same follow-up question and Katie gave a quite reasonable reply. Er, nevermind.
  4. Wife likes the instant on of gas. Marital compromise. Oops...Real men don't give in to wives... ← Real men do use charcoal, especially lump coals and sometimes wood chunks. But for $200 it's nice to also have an inexpensive gas grill also. There are times when you want to quickly fire something up and don't have time or the energy to fire up the charcoal grill. We bought a $200 "BBQ Grillware" model last summer from Lowe's. I think BBQ Grillware is their own label, but in any case they don't seem to sell it anymore. It has three burners, cast iron grates, a side burner, and a spot to hook up a rotisserie (which is sold separately). The cast iron grates were the main feature for me. I think it's important to get a grill with three burners, rather than two, since it makes indirect grilling a little easier, IMO. As the Fat Guy said, even heating throughout the grill is huge. We're constantly reminding ourselves of the temperature gradient between the front and back of our grill. For what it's worth, everything I read about gas grills suggested that the main difference between the cheaper and more expensive models (assuming they have the same cooking area, etc.) is durability. I've never seen a rigorous study, however, comparing the long-term performance and durability of grills. Finally, before you buy a grill, be sure there's a way to get replacement parts, especially grates, hoses, and "flavorizer" bars (i.e. the metal bars that cover the burners). Most of these should be available somewhere on the net, if not at the original place of purchase. Replacement parts are easier to find for bigger-name brands, such as char-broil, weber, etc. TJHarris: that Uniflame at Wal-Mart looks great for the money.
  5. Like I said, I'm not implying there is or should be any form of competition. I also didn't compare Chicago's cocktail scene to New York's. It's clear that NY has more cocktail-focused establishments, though that seems beside the point. If you reread both of my posts, it should be clear that all I was saying is that there are places to get quite good cocktails in Chicago -- especially at the more innovative restaurants. As you wrote in a post about New York's cocktail scene "indeed, one tribute to the popularity of serious cocktails [in New York] is how many new restaurants and bars are at least pretending to have serious cocktail lists". The same applies here -- we've actually moved past Jack and Cokes. Perhaps (and I hope) the Violet Hour will set the bar higher in Chicago. But the idea that we're not ready for the Violet Hour, or that we couldn't appreciate it, is simply ridiculous. Perhaps we're saying the same thing here, whereas you are emphasizing that we're not NY and I'm emphasizing that we're not Antarctica. However, there seems to be little gained from sorting out whether we're closer to NY or to Antarctica.
  6. Sorry, didn't mean to sound territorial. I certainly didn't mean to suggest we should view these things as a competition between cities or between bars. My earlier post was simply meant to contrast the reality that it is quite possible to get great cocktails in Chicago with the view expressed in two earlier posts that seemed to imply this is more of a barren wasteland in that regard. After all, why would you open a serious cocktail bar in Chicago? Those heathens can't appreciate it. It's amazing how many people are surprised that you can actually find good food in Chicago, beyond pizza and cheap ethnic restaurants. I've been to the Violet Hour and I think it is great. As I said in my earlier post, I'm glad the Violet Hour is open and wish it the best, but I was hoping to put a little balance and perspective into this thread about where Chicago is. It will be a nice day when someone does something new in Chicago and doesn't get a reaction "Why Chicago?".
  7. The first serious cocktail place in the city? That's maybe just a little overstated. Below are two, the latter being around for about a hundred years (seriously). More generally, many, if not most, medium- and high-end restaurants here have pretty serious/modern cocktail menus. Not to distract from the main topic though, I'm glad The Violet Hour has opened and I wish them the best. The Matchbox 770 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60622 (312) 666-9292 The Green Mill 4802 N Broadway St Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 878-5552
  8. You can definitely do this without the egg wash.
  9. Perhaps the milk had been frozen....clearly she wasn't drinking year-old milk.
  10. ...and??? So does practically everyone I know. How do you suggest we defrost it??? ← In the fridge... ← If I were to try to defrost in my fridge, it would take DAYS o_O I dont tend to plan my meals out that far in advance. I am guilty, I am a counter thawer too. ← If you are really in that much of a hurry, try defrosting by filling the sink with room-temperature water and putting the (well wrapped) meat in the water. This is much faster than defrosting on the counter. It will be even faster if you have the water running a little bit.
  11. Darren72

    Preserving Summer

    Thanks for the replies. I stopped back at Ace today and discovered the graniteware pot and rack is $18 -- too cheap to even think about using something else. I also picked up a $3 cake rack with finer openings which will be useful for small jelly jars. Thanks again.
  12. Very interesting thread. Here's a question for the experts: I made my first batches of pickles last summer: pickling cucumbers in either white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. They turned out extremely tart. At the time, I remember reading that you had to use vinegar with at least a 5% acidity. I've since seen a lot of recipes that call for a mixture of water and vinegar. This seems like it would produce a less tart pickle. But doesn't watering down the mixture violate the rule to pack the cucumbers in a liquid with 5% acidity? Thanks!
  13. Darren72

    Preserving Summer

    I've just started canning and worked my way through this very interesting thread. I have three questions that I hope to get a little help with: 1. I've been using my All-Clad dutch oven to process jam jars, but it isn't tall enough for pint or quart sized jars. I know there are cheap pans designed for water baths. My local hardware store sells a Grantiteware pot and rack for about $25. Do most of you use this type of setup, or do you use your largest stockpot? 2. Do you use a special rack to hold the jars in the water bath? A cake rack? Something else? 3. Are the clamp-style jars just as good as the Ball brand screw-top jars? I had heard that the Ball jars are best, and they happen to be incredibly cheap when bought in bulk. Thanks for all of your help.
  14. Interesting thread. This past weekend we made (and canned) our first batch of jam, a simple raspberry jam. One of the things that struck me when looking through recipes was that some called for macerating the berries and sugar for 15 minutes, others called for cooking without macerating, while one called for macerating for 24 hours. We did the later, simply because we bought the berries on Saturday, but didn't have time to proceed until Sunday. One thing I noticed was that the jam seems a little on the loose side. It's perfectly fine, but I'd prefer it a little stiffer next time. We used about 2 lbs of berries, 2.5 cups of sugar, and about 2 tablespoons of lemon and lime juices. After macerating, we cooked the berries and sugar for about 10 minutes, then added the acid, and then canned it. None of the recipes we consulted called for adding pectin. Was the resulting jam on the loose side because I should have added pectin, or did I not cook the berries long enough? Edited to add: We used our dutch oven to process the jars. This worked fine for the small jam jars, but won't work for larger pint or quart jars. I know I can buy canning pots for $20 at my local hardware store. Do most of you use something like this, or do you just use a very large stockpot (which I would have to buy also). Thanks for any tips.
  15. Marinating is for flavor, not for tenderizing. If you want tender a tender flank steak, cook it to medium rare and slice against the grain. A marinade can be a great way to add flavor. Here is one that I particularly like: 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 honey Some crushed garlic cloves and chopped rosemary Cracked pepper Mix the above together and marinate the steak for 1-2 hours. I like to do it in a ziplock bag, if the steak will fit. Wipe off marinade. Grill over direct heat for about 4 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing against the grain. I also like to top the steak with blue cheese (or a mixture of blue cheese, butter, and herbs) when it comes off the grill. A different topping is a Chimichurri, which is chopped garlic, parsely, salt and pepper with olive oil. You can add other things also, like vinegar, paprika, etc.
  16. Darren72

    flavored vinegar

    I wouldn't reconstitute them in hot water first. I don't really see the need. I would just put them in room temperature vinegar and let them sit for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better. You can taste the vinegar along the way to see how strong it is. I've usually used cider vinegar alone. But I'm not sure how well that would work with persimmons. In any case, yes, I think using a mixture of white, cider, wine, and/or rice sounds great.
  17. One book I can recommend is Gourmet Cooking for Dummies, by Charlie Trotter. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "Gourmet Cooking for Dummies" sounds a lot like "How to get smart in 5 easy steps". That was my reaction too when I saw the book. But I really like Charlie Trotter's food, tv show, and other books. So I starting reading the book at my local Barnes and Noble. Lo and behold, I really liked it and went ahead and bought it. This isn't a book about how to cook, or how to use "local" fresh ingredients, etc. It's very different from, say, Joy of Cooking. Instead, this is a book for people who already know, at some level, how to cook, but want to learn how to take things to another level - the level you might find at a place like Charlie Trotters (though the recipes tend to be much simpler than those from his restaurant books).
  18. Darren72

    flavored vinegar

    I've made infused vinegars quite a bit as a by-product of another dish. Perhaps my experience will be useful. I like to take a mixture of dried fruits, rough chop them, reconstitute them in cider or plain vinegar, squeeze out excess liquid, and then stuff them into pork tenderloin (or loin), chicken, etc. The leftover vinegar is great. I strain it, bottle it, and it seems to keep forever. So, to answer your questions: Can you use dried persimmons? I've never worked with persimmons specifically (in my vinegar), but I don't see why not. Try it and report back. Chop them up? Yes, rough chop them - I think that would speed up the infusion a little bit.
  19. I might add that you can order from the Topolombapo menu and the Frontera menu if you are seated in Frontera (and if you are seated in the bar). So, in case you can't get a reservation at Topolombapo, or just want to sample a few of the dishes, you aren't out of luck.
  20. Two more Italian suggestions: Merlo (which has two locations with the same menus, though the Lincoln Ave location seems to have a more casual feel). Excellent food. Quite traditional style. Terra Gusto. More like "the best neighborhood joint". It's small. Slightly less traditional, but excellent food. Poke around here and on LTHForum.com and you'll find many more detailed reviews. Merlo Ristorante 2638 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-529-0747 Terragusto 1851 W. Addison St. 773-248-2777
  21. For those who were as unfamiliar with Le Sanctuaire as I was, here are the details: http://www.le-sanctuaire.com/ SANTA MONICA 2710 Main Street Santa Monica, CA 90405 T: 310.581.8999 F: 310.581.8991 Hours: 7 days 12 - 6 SAN FRANCISCO 315 Sutter Street, 5th Floor San Francisco, CA 94108 T: 415.986.4216 F: 415.986.4217 Hours: M-F 10:30 - 4:30, Sat 10:30 - 2:30 One thing I've learned from reading eGullet, Alton Brown's books, talking with people at restaurant supply stores, is that there are some products where "high end" is better. There are other products where you're probably better off buying a cheaper version from a restaurant supply store. Two examples: I've been well-served by $5 aluminum sheet pans and my $25 aluminum-teflon non-stick pan by Vollrath. (The teflon starts to come off after a few years, mitigating the value of a high-end pan with a stainless steel exterior.)
  22. Good questions. I tend to get frustrated with these places when I feel I'm overpaying. Having said that, my impression is that their prices are more competitive for higher-priced items (such as knives). Other stores for high-quality goods: One that comes to mind is Crate and Barrel, though I think they may be even more expensive and have a more limited selection. (The selection at W-S seems to vary a lot across stores). Beth, Bath, and Beyond and Linens and Things have a lot of overlap with W-S and Sur-la-Table, and tend to have good prices (especially if you use one of their ubiquitous coupons). In general, they don't have as much "higher end" stuff as W-S and SLT. Restaurant supply stores are another good option. Though they tend to have products that appeal to restaurants and might not be considered "high end" (such all aluminum cookware), many do carry popular brands, higher-end brands. They also tend to have very knowledgeable sales people. What's the draw? Besides differences in quality, I think people really like the shopping experience these stores offer, much like many who like shopping at Whole Foods over a Mega-Mart. It's not just the organics at WF, but it's a different experience, one that some prefer and others don't. I also think the sales staff at Sur La Table is more knowledgeable than what you'd find at most other kitchen stores. Since I've been reading eGullet and other web forums, though, I hardly ever rely on advice from sales people at these stores anymore. I figure out what I want and then find the best price. When I do buy from Sur La Table or W-S, it's usually because they are the only store in town that has a relatively rare item in stock.
  23. Jeff, Yes, I think it is worth buying a burr grinder. When I upgraded from a whirly blade to a burr grinder, I immediately noticed the difference in my french press coffee. As much as I tried to avoid it when I used the blade grinder, I always had a lot of sediment in my french press coffee. It simply wasn't possible to achieve a uniform grind and inevitably there were smaller grounds that went through the french press filter. (Or, I'd grind too coarse and the coffee wouldn't have any flavor.) The french press with the burr grinder was much more flavorful and had a lot less sediment. If you aren't going to make espresso, you definitely don't need to buy a $300+ burr grinder. But there are some lower-cost options you might consider: Capresso Infinity: $90 in black, $140 in chrome. [As far as I know, the "insides" of these grinders are the same. The only difference is that the black is made of ABS plastic while the chrome is, well, chrome. If you opt for the chrome, try to find a 15% off coupon for Bed, Bath, and Beyond (they do not carry the black model).] Other options to consider: Baratza Solis Maestro, $115 Baratza Solis Maestro Plus, $149 Baratza Solis Vituoso, $199 Bodum Antigua, $70 All of these have conical burr grinding mechanisms. Some are a little louder than others; some heat the grounds a little more than others; some leave grounds with a little more static than others. Some have more plastic while other have more steel. Some give you more grind settings than others. A good website to compare these and other models is Whole Latte Love. Another good website is Coffee Geek. Reading the reviews on this forum and the other websites, I came away with these general impressions: first, each of these have supporters and detractors. Second, there seems to be little support for the idea that any of these can match the performance of the higher-priced models, such as the Rancilio Rocky ($285). Third, it is very difficult to find "rigorous" reviews. Most of the consumer reviews you'll read describe the writer's experience with one grinder, or perhaps compare the grinder to one they previously owned. These can be very useful, of course, but can't give you the same information as a side-by-side comparison of coffee made with different grinders. My experience: I recently bought a Rocky Rancilio and I love it. Although I don't make espresso now, I chose this model because I plan to start making espresso some time soon. I definitely have noticed a vast improvement, however, in my daily french press, vacuum brewed, and drip coffees. I also recently gave my parents the black Capresso Infinity burr grinder (who only brew automatic drip) and ordered a second one to keep at a second home. I chose the Capresso over the other mid-priced grinders for a few reasons: first, my impression was that most people who wrote reviews on Whole Latte Love were happy with their purchase; second, the reviews on WLL indicated that it was slightly less noisy than some of the other models; third, I didn't want to spend over $100. Finally, a sales person at WLL said he thought the Capresso generated less static electricity in the grounds. My parents have used theirs for a couple of weeks now and are very happy with it. They said it generated a lot of static when they first started using it, but report less now that the weather is warmer and more humid. My Capresso hasn't arrived yet, but when it does I'll write a more formal review.
  24. This is true, but many of his books also talk about BBQ to one degree or another. See "The Barbecue! Bible," "How to Grill," and "Ribs, Ribs, Ribs," for example. Another idea is "Where There's Smoke," by Richard Langer, which is specifically about using a weber (or similar home grill) as a smoker.
  25. Most websites that I checked indicate that frozen shellfish can be kept for about 6 months. Personally, I'd feel comfortable pushing that by a few months, but not 4 years.
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