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Megan Blocker

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Megan Blocker

  1. Megan Blocker

    Steven Shaw

    Like so many other folks, it's been ages since I posted on eG with any regularity, but I had to come by today to say how sorry I am to hear about Steven's death. He (along with so many others) created a wonderful community for all of us, and I am so grateful to him for helping me find so many wonderful friends.
  2. Hey, guys! I'm (finally) heading to Italy for the first time in May. We'll be in Florence for five or six days, and I can't wait to sample all the culinary delights. Any more up to date recommendations for can't-miss lunches, dinners, gelato, cafes, pastry, etc.?
  3. Megan Blocker

    "Toast" by Nigel Slater

    I just finished Toast by Nigel Slater over the holidays. I bought it on a whim - I think it came up as a suggestion on B&N when I was buying some cookbooks as Christmas gifts, and I just added it to my order. Turns out, it's a pretty good book. It's written in short bursts, each section a recounting of a memory tied to a specific food. These little vignettes follow Slater from about age 8 or so to his early 20's, with a concentration on adolescence. One of the things I liked so much about the book (and have liked about Ruth Reichl's work, particularly Tender at the Bone) was its emphasis on the links between taste, smell, and memory. For me, scent and taste have always been the two senses most likely to set off an explosion of recollection (I know I'm not alone here.), and so it was easy to put myself in Slater's shoes when he approached his material this way, even though I had no real idea of what it was like to grow up as a boy in 1960's England. All in all, I'd definitely recommend this one. An extra bonus: it's written in those short sections, which makes it ideal for commuting or bedtime reading, since you don't have that I'll-just-finish-this-50-page-chapter angst.
  4. Megan Blocker

    Christmas Dinner in Chinatown

    My family and friends are descending en (sort of) masse - 10 people for Christmas dinner, and neither my brother nor I can really fit that many for dinner in either of our apartments. So, we were thinking of doing cocktails and nibbles at my place, and then heading down to Chinatown for dinner. Can anyone recommend a place that 1) they know will be open for Christmas dinner and 2) they like?
  5. Megan Blocker

    Christmas Dinner in Chinatown

    Thanks, guys! This is excellent info! As per usual, when family is involved, things are shifting in terms of the plan. I'm still hoping for Chinatown, though! Will keep you posted on the outcome.
  6. Megan Blocker

    Recent Trip: Degustation and Lupa

    Yeah, $200 sounds like a LOT for Lupa...
  7. Megan Blocker

    Boston Area Graduation Dinner

    My cousin graduated from Tufts (med school!) last May, and we did a dinner at Toscano (in Beacon Hill, on Charles Street). It was great - good food, pretty room, very good service.
  8. Megan Blocker

    Food exhibitions and wholesalers

    Thanks, guys!!!
  9. Megan Blocker

    Food exhibitions and wholesalers

    Hey, guys! I'm hoping the good people of the Kitchen Consumer forum can help me help my Aunt Cathi. She's thinking of opening a specialty foods shop, either in Dallas or in Rhode Island (she splits her time between the two), and is a newbie to the business. She's curious as to where to start sourcing products - any thoughts about industry exhibitions or shows she could attend to start building relationships and exploring possibilities? Obviously, things in the Southwest or Northeast would be the most convenient, but she'd love to hear any ideas you all have! Many thanks in advance.
  10. Megan Blocker

    Aligot

    Gourmet's May issue was a travel special, with dishes from destinations all over the world. One of the featured dishes from Europe was aligot, a dish of potatoes whipped with Cantal or Tomme cheese, often served with grilled meats or hot sausages. Here's the recipe Gourmet published, an aligot and horseradish gratin, and here's a standard aligot recipe. I've never had aligot, and my question is this - is it as good as people say? A quick search revealed the following words of praise: So what's the deal? Is aligot as awesome as promised? Do you make it, or have you? Any tips? Help!
  11. Megan Blocker

    Strasbourg, Champagne, and Paris...

    I did not! We never made it out of Strasbourg, sadly, though I am thinking of doing an Alsace trip for the big 3-0 next year. I can't wait to hear all about your Christmastime trip to Alsace...talk about a fantasy.
  12. Megan Blocker

    Strasbourg, Champagne, and Paris...

    Over in the the Elsewhere in Europe forum, I've been chronicling the beginning of my recent two-week jaunt to Europe - five days in Prague! In this topic, I'll be posting about my time in France - three days in Strasbourg, three in Champagne, and four in Paris. We start with the 12-hour train ride from Prague to Strasbourg... We left Prague around 9 AM, and were first on a train from Prague to Munich. The train was relatively empty, and we managed to snag a compartment for ourselves for the majority of the trip. The food cart came by once in the Czech Republic, and once more after we crossed the border into Germany. On the first go-round, we bought a seltzer water and a hot chocolate. Even the hot chocolate made from powder is EXCELLENT in the Czech Republic. Here's a shot of Louisa in our compartment. We rather fancied ourselves as riding the Hogwarts Express, in shades of grey. By the time we got to Munich around 3 PM, we were absolutely starving. We found an ATM (had to stock up on Euros) and snagged ourselves a doner kebab sandwich, topped with tzatziki and some pepper flakes. The sandwiches were like manna from heaven to the two of us - we hadn't been hungry in four days, and we weren't pleased with the feeling. Funny story about the sandwiches - the guy who sold them to us offered Louisa his phone number along with the sandwich...she told him she was married, but this didn't deter him. "Are you Canadian?" he asked hopefully. "No, American." "Oh. Huh." And a look of disgust. It was pretty hilarious. We got back on the train, this time without compartments, just rows, found our seats, and settled in for another five hours of train time. We really enjoyed the views of Germany that we glimpsed from the window - especially a tiny town nestled in the hills that we descended toward ever so slowly, and Ulm, where we had a great view of the Ulm Munster, the tallest church in the world. (Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which you'll see in a bit, used to claim the title, but is now the fourth-tallest.) On the way, we sampled the candy we picked up in the Munich Hauptbahnhof...some of the fruitiest, loveliest sour patch kids ever, some great gummy cherries, and a few other bits and pieces, the most unusual of which we photographed... These were sour and sweet, and dissolved into nothing in the mouth. This guy tasted like caramel marzipan... And, finally - a dried apple covered in chocolate. Rubbery and kinda icky, frankly. We finally rolled into Strasbourg at 9 PM, and promptly grabbed a cab from the Gare Centrale to our hotel, Hotel Cathedrale, which was (literally) right across from the Cathedral's western facade and main entrance. The view from our room, taken at sunset... That street running off down the left of the cathedral, toward the two-spired church in the distance, is rue des Freres, which is where we had dinner our first night. Invigorated by the cool, crisp Strasbourgeois air, the gorgeous architecture, and the fact that we could speak the language, we dumped our bags in our adorable room and headed out to Flam's, a restaurant devoted to the tarte flambee, one of Alsace's specialties. It's a pizza-like tart, with a really thin crust, cooked in a wood-burning oven and topped, in its most traditional form, with creme fraiche, lardons, and onions. Flam's was crowded and really warm, full mostly of students having a cheap, late, loud dinner - it's part of a chain of restaurants, and had the requisite menus with pictures on, but the food and wine were good, and our waitress was adorable. We both started with a salad, but were mostly psyched about the main event. Well, and the wine, too. We started with a pichet of Riesling, then switched to Pinot Noir with our tarte, which was half traditionelle, half champignons fraiches (just traditional with mushrooms added). The tart was delicious - crispy, but just bendy enough in the places where the creme fraiche had soaked in. The lardons were salty and smokey, and the onions had just a little bite. We both really liked it, and left feeling very positive about the virtues of Alsatian cooking. After dinner, we headed to a bar on rue des Freres - we'd spotted it on the way over to the restaurant. It's called Les Gayots, named for the courtyard onto which its back entrance opens. Since Strasbourg is a university town, we were a little nervous that it would be overrun with students. The students make themselves known, for sure, but this bar was a little older (skewed to the 25-50 demo), and was great fun. We sat at the bar and had some muscat, and were chided by a delightful guy (French, but went to UT Austin for university) for not ordering the Gewurtztraminer, which he claimed was "the best grape you can get." He was the first person we'd spoken with since we arrived, and he gave the city a ringing endorsement - something that turned out to be quite prophetic, given the excellent time we had over the following three days.
  13. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Kim, that scampi looks great - really peppery, and the shrimp look so juicy. What method/recipe did you use?
  14. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Marlene, that lamb looks incredible. Wow. Shelby, I have to agree - the macaroni and cheese in the pepper looks positively crave-able. I've been on something of a Greenmarket tear recently - I made a Knoll Crest chicken on Sunday night and ate it all week - except for the night when I had Knoll Crest egg fettucine with beets and green beans. Too-licious, as my mother used to say.
  15. Megan Blocker

    It's Just Food. Eat It.

    Because you're elbow to elbow with other patrons. That's my assumption, anyway. I didn't get the impression, from what I read about it, that it's at all an intellectual property issue or anything (which is supported by the fact that, as Fat Guy points out above, Chang has not banned photography at his other restaurants).
  16. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Bruce, those cucumbers are calling to me! Susan, that potato with caviar is truly over the top. How did you come up with the idea? And what are your plans for the rest of the caviar you bought (if you had any left after that - again, wow!)? Tonight I had a light dinner after a day of grazing...roasted beet salad with green beans, dill and Greek yogurt. Made a dressing with some sherry vinegar, mustard, honey and minced white onion. Totally refreshing and easy.
  17. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Hey, Kim! Yes, the pickled ramps are something I did myself - got the recipe from this Serious Eats post. I pickled about four pounds' worth back in May/early June. I gave one jar away, but kept two for myself and am currently working through the last jar. They're great cooked or just chopped up in salads or salsas.
  18. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Is that some balsamic drizzled over the top of the steak, Chufi? Looks great.
  19. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Pan-roasted a pork chop and then used a plum from the farmer's market and some of my pickled ramps to make the sauce - added some mustard and mustard seeds into the mix to make things a bit earthier.
  20. It's true! Union Square inches even further toward suburbia with the addition of a Trader Joe's on 14th Street (joining Whole Foods, Forever 21, DSW and Filene's Basement, all relatively recent additions). Have to say, though, I'm pretty psyched about this one... For all the New Yorkers, whaddya think? For all those who already shop at TJ's, what should we newbies zoom in on when the doors open this spring? Here's a link to the item in the NY Times...
  21. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Shelby, I love the quick trifle! I'm curious - how did the balsamic work with the Grand Marnier?
  22. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    I'm visiting my friends Nick and Louisa in Ohio, and on Sunday we had a pork belly-off. Louisa has to develop a pork belly recipe for a novel she's writing (it's about a chef and a restaurant critic, and there will be recipes laced througout the book), so we thought it would be fun to try a few different things. Her recipe will be autumnal and focus on apples and walnuts, so she tried braising a piece of pork belly in cider, then searing it and serving it on top of fresh apple and spiced, candied walnuts. I made my belly by braising and searing, then serving topped with slices of homemade pickled jalapeno and a watermelon salad (watermelon marinated in lime juice, basil, mint and jalapeno, tossed with fresh mint and basil before serving) and some cucumber. This turned out really well - I especially liked the fresh, cool salad with the hot, meaty pork. Nick made a take on pork milanese - he made a napoleon out of fresh arugula and broiled tomatoes, then topped the napoleon with breadcrumbs. Alongside, he served a lemon compote - it was SUPER lemony, and we decided it should come in smaller dollop. His was, by far, the most elegant plate. Finally, Louisa made a second version, which was supposed to barbecue-esque, but turned out almost candied (pork belly pralinee, she's calling it). Pork belly with a maple-bourbon glaze, served with a minty slaw. Yum.
  23. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Made a fritatta for dinner last night...leftover broccoli, scallions, garlic and a little parm. Bruce - no! I will never cross over to the dark side!
  24. Megan Blocker

    Dinner! 2008

    Bruce, I'm totally with your sons on the cilantro thing, but the rest of that looks awesome.
  25. Megan Blocker

    St. Helena near the CIA

    The Larkmead Inn is a cute little B&B, really reasonable, just north of the St. Helena/Calistoga border. If memory serves, it's pretty close to the CIA... Click! A bit chintzy in decoration, but nice, comfortable, and convenient.
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