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Everything posted by Darren72

  1. Just to add my 2 cents: First, every time I read a post by slkinsey I learn something really valuable. Way back when, I bought a stainless steel All-Clad fry pan and saute pan. They're great. No complaints, though knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have bought the set these came in. There are some much lower cost options to consider, depending on how often you'll use each pan and what you'll use it for. 1. Cast iron skillet. A 12" skillet will probably cost less than $20. They're heavy and therefore aren't ideal for anything that involves a lot of moving around (like a saute). They also aren't great for stewing or boiling because I think that will work against seasoning the finish. But they are ideal, I think, for the low, slow heat you'll want for carmelizing onions. They are also ideal for pan-frying meat. I also like that they are nearly indestructible -- I like to put them directly on hot coals in the grill. 2. Aluminum frying pan from a restaurant supply store. A common brand here in Chicago is Vollrath. You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of all-aluminum in Understanding Stovetop Cookware. The main advantage, for your purposes, is that it is very cheap, say $20-$30 for a pan. This might be the way to go if you want a high-quality saute pan, but also want a fry pan around for occasional use. I have an aluminum frying pan with a non-stick coating that I think is perfect for eggs and fish: because it's cheap, I don't need to worry about the inevitable scratches in the non-stick coating.
  2. Hello eGulleters, I visited Baltimore last week for a short business trip and attempted to go to Mama's on the Half Shell. I called Friday afternoon to confirm that they do not take reservations (which they do not on Friday and Saturday nights), and to ask what the typical wait is around 7-8pm on a Friday night. I was told the wait is usually around 15-30 minutes at that time of the evening. So a group of us take a cab there and discover, to our surprise, that the wait will be over an hour. Maybe there were larger crowds than normal. Maybe the receptionist who told me the wait would be 15-30 minutes was new and didn't know how long the wait typically is on a Friday night. Maybe the receptionist thought I was asking about 6pm, rather than 7-8pm. Maybe the waits fluctuate from week to week, and she was being optimistic. Maybe she didn't know what the wait would be and just made a guess. Maybe the receptionist didn't think it was important to give an accurate indication of the wait time. I don't know what happened. But I do know that future readers of this board should expect an hour long wait on a Friday night at 7:30pm at Mama's on the Half Shell. If you get in faster, good for you. If it takes an hour, at least you were warned. It's frustrating to arrive at a restaurant you had been looking forward to, only to find out that, because of time constraints, you have to go somewhere else. We went to a rather unremarkable restaurant in the neighborhood.
  3. If the temperature in your kitchen and livingroom is comfortable, and the wine has only been there a year, the are probably fine. If they have been in direct sunlight for a year, or have been stored over 80 degrees for a significant portion of the year, I'd be a little worried. In that case, I'd say better to just buy a new $10-$15 bottle for your function (and drink these yourself). Or, just open one of the three bottles with dinner tonight. If it tastes fine, I'm sure the other two are in similar condition and are also fine to take to your function.
  4. I wasn't trying to say Olive Garden is good food. I was simply pointing out that we more frequently hear about food bourne illnesses at national chains rather than local restaurants for a reason, and it isn't because this stuff only happens at national chains. Sorry that I wasn't clear enough.
  5. I think it is important to point out that we hear about these outbreaks at national (or regional) chains much more than at local restaurants simply because national news outlets are likely to carry a story about a large chain that is nationally known. By contrast, there won't be much national interest in virus or food poisoning incident at a restaurant no one has ever heard of, and will likely never visit. I think we should keep our holier-than-Olive Garden tendancies in check.
  6. The third wine was voted a "top 100 best values of the year" by Wine & Spirits. Assuming you've stored the wine in an acceptable manner, this wine should be fine. No one expects a $40 bottle of wine at a school/work function like this.
  7. Darren72

    Food Mills

    I also have a Cuisipro stainless steel model, and it seems to work great. It was around $60-$70 and opted for this over a cheaper model because it is very sturdy.
  8. Gepperth's on Halsted (near Armitage) had fresh foie gras last time I was there, a few weeks ago. 1964 N. Halsted St., Chicago Tel: (773) 549-3883 As others said above, my understanding is that the ban does not extend to sales of fresh, raw foie gras.
  9. I've been researching burr grinders for a while and have sort of hit an impass. I'd like to get some updated feedback from readers of this thread. I considering the following: Solis Maestro Plus - around $150; Gaggia MDF - close to $200 the Kitchenaid - around $200 the Rocky - around $300 I mostly make drip and french press coffee, and will soon try vacuum brewing. So I'm leaning towards the Solis. However, at some point I may get bit by the espresso bug, and I understand that the Solis and Kitchenaid (and perhaps the Gaggia?) aren't great at grinding for espresso. So my questions are: Does anyone have experience using the Solis and/or the Gaggia for espresso? If so, what are your impressions? Thanks.
  10. Excellent story, Fat Guy. Thanks.
  11. Melissa, Just a quick note about Trotter. My *guess* is that the B & W scene you saw was edited. I spent some time in the kitchen at Charlie Trotter's and they were absolute freaks about cleanliness. The kitchen is a very tight ship. If the scene wasn't edited, my guess is there is some other explanation. I am sure that Trotter wouldn't touch raw poultry, then cooked poultry, and then serve the latter. I agree that his books and shows use incredibly rare, and sometimes very expensive, ingredients. I've found that many of the recipes are quite easy to simplify, though, into an everyday version. For example, you don't have to top the dish with microgreens from Ohio, but could top it with herbs. Instead of using basil oil to finish a dish, finish it with olive oil and chopped basil. Now, I realize Trotter decided to present his version and not mention these kinds of simplifications. Maybe the show would be better if he did. Every once in while, though, he does give in. For example, he'll use an exotic piece of meat, and then say something like "you could of course do this with a chicken breast, or a piece of lamb..." Anyways, I realize many are turned off by him and his style. If you ever decide to give him a third chance, you might look at his books "Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home" and "Gourmet Cooking for Dummies". The latter is part of the XYZ for Dummies Series. Both present recipes that are considerably simpler (and by that I mean use more common ingredients, etc) than what he does on the show or in his other books.
  12. Not sure if I should take the bait on this ... There are roasters all over the country from whom one can buy through mail order. I'd kind of like to get away from buying the few brands available to me locally, and branch out and try beans from small roasters located elsewhere. Hence, using my senses is not that helpful for beans located hundreds of miles away. I'd also like to know about small roasters locally that don't sell through the megamart. Sure, as you suggest, I could just start buying beans from different roasters. But rather than do it blind, so I thought I'd ask where people gather information. At a more basic level, I'm not asking about how to evaluate beans in front of me. I'm asking about where one can learn where the beans are in the first place. As you saw, I got some friendly and helpful advice.
  13. I'll add Alton Brown (FTV) and Jacques Pepin (PBS) to the mix.
  14. Honestly, if you read his posts on eGullet, you pretty much got the gist of the short Larry King segment (as you can also see from the transcript above). There were a few nice stills from the Marine ship and a few from Lebannon, though. It was a very short segment, though fun to watch. I loved that Larry introduced him as a "celebrity chief".
  15. Ditto. ← I love Sweet Maria's and it the first place I look for info about equipment. I didn't realize they had notes on beans -- well, more accurately, since they sell unroasted beans, it never occurred to me to look at their pages on beans. Thanks for the tip.
  16. I'm curious what your sources are for learning about the latest coffee beans to try. I begain reading The Coffee Review (http://www.coffeereview.com/) a few years ago and was struck at the time that coffee beans are much like wine in that there can be significant year-to-year variations in the taste and overall quality of a given bean, from a given region, imported and roasted by a particular company. The Coffee Review reviews beans as they come on the market, and it's been fun to try a few of the things they have recommended (but I'm not always excited about shipping costs...) Most of the time I buy Allegro beans from my local Whole Foods because they roast them in the store and I know I'm getting beans that are quite fresh. I also buy Intelligencia, sometimes Small World, and perhaps a few others. But I'm mostly shopping rather randomly...so, ah, what seems good this week? I'm interested in trying a wider variety of beans. But coffee isn't sold in stores similar to wine shops that have hundreds of different bottles and knowledgeable sales staff. So I'm curious what other sources you have for learning about new beans to try out. I live in Chicago, so there are some roasters in town (Intelligencia), but do you buy most of your small roaster beans via the internet? (Owen, I'm especially interested in your take.) Thanks!
  17. What do you mean by "all the restaurants"? I think there is only one El Bulli.
  18. My guess is that many of the chef-branded cookware and knives are not actually used by the chefs themselves in their restaurants. Perhaps some are. My guess is that the chef-branded stuff is meant to be used in a home kitchen, and so the specifications are slightly different than what is required in a professional kitchen. I know many line cooks, even if high end restaurants, use lower-priced knives (such as Victornox). Knives get lost, taken, scratched, etc. and so many chefs and kitchens don't have the highest quality stuff. Similarly, many professional kitchens use aluminum pans. Having said that, I'd imagine that at home many chefs have both their own brand and some of their old favorites. Cooks Illustrated did a test of celebrity chef cookware (not knives) and found some to be quite good, while others were definitely over priced, given their quality. Don't remember any specifics.
  19. I'm just curious about the differences between the Vinum line and the Vinum Extreme line. They are both machine made and are roughly similar in price. The Extreme line seems to have more of a "bowed out" shaped. Is this just an asthetic difference, or is there also a functional difference? Are some wines better suited to one line, and other wines to the other glass line? Thanks!
  20. I've been very happy with the Spiegelau set of 6 that I bought on Amazon. Interestingly, they were $35 when I bought them in January, now they are $45. There is free shipping. I picked these because they were not expensive and I read that a number of higher end restaurants use them because they are slightly more durable than other brands, yet still elegant. I also figured that it would be better to spend more money on fine Bordeaux or Burgundy glasses, but "mid range" Champagne glasses were likely to be fine. I'd say this is especially true if you are making Bellinis. http://www.amazon.com/Spiegelau-Vino-Grand...8496116?ie=UTF8 Friends have also bought these and in none of our experiences did we have any glasses broken upon shipment, or have any deformed glasses (as some Amazon buyers claimed).
  21. I don't mean to move this discussion towards the pros and cons (mainly cons...there I go again) of Zagat. I'm the first to admit that it has some uses, especially if you understand how the rating are put together. But I take any opportunity I can to plug a great article by our own Steven Shaw, "The Zagat Effect," published in Commentary, Vol. 110 • November 2000 • No. 4. Available free here: http://www.restaurantspy.com/articles/zagateffect.htm Excepts of this appeared in the Fat Guy's book, Turning the Tables. When the article first came out in print, Steven generously offered to fax it to anyone who wanted it (It wasn't available on line at the time). I made copies for almost everyone in my office. It's an excellent read.
  22. Crate and Barrel sells good, inexpensive wine glasses, though I don't think they have retail stores in Canada. I've bought Spiegelau from Amazon. I believe they only have sets, no single glasses. They have good prices, free shipping, and I've never had a problem with broken glasses during shipment.
  23. For future reference....I just bought a bottle at West Lakeview Liquors, at Addison and Leavitt (Chicago), for $22.
  24. I agree with the earlier poster who said there is something offensive about the tone of the article. It smacks of a common theme in which someone compares the best of their land to worst of another, and believes he is making a general statement about cultures. Regarding Starbucks: I've thought about this a lot. 1. I mainly get their medium or small (er, grande or tall...) black coffee. These cost perhaps $1.60-$1.90, depending on location. Coffee any decent shop is the same price. This is hardly a luxury item. 2. I think their coffee is, generally, over-roasted for my taste. Burnt. But in many situations I find myself with a choice between burnt coffee at Starbucks and insipid, weak coffee at another place. I opt for Starbucks. It isn't that there are no other good coffee places here in Chicago (There are many), but the Starbucks are ubiquitous and the places that I prefer are not. 3. My recent travels to Europe suggest that Starbucks is just as common in many places there as here. Most interestingly, a trip to Oxford, England about 5 years ago revealed many places advertising "Seattle style coffee," which was essentially Starbucks style.
  25. Hey Darren, When I've done hot-smoked salmon and bluefish in the past it usually takes 45 min to an hour, smoking at around 215 degrees. I use a pretty simple cure that's a 2:1 ration of brown sugar (packed) to kosher salt. You can, of course, add other spices and seasonings. I'll usually stick to black pepper. I cover the fish in the cure, let it cure overnight, rinse it off, and set it out to dry for a couple hours and form a pellicle. If I'm impatient I'll put an oscillating fan in the kitchen to speed this up. Then it's into the smoker. I tend to be paranoid about overcooking things, so I use a digital probe thermometer for just about everything I smoke. When it hits 140, it's done in my book. Hope this helps, Rob ← How important is it to let the salmon dry (after curing) in a fridge versus out of it, and covered versus uncovered? In some places I've read that the fridge is too moise to sufficiently dry out the salmon. Thanks in advance.
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