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Jim Dixon

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Everything posted by Jim Dixon

  1. My problem is with the word “foodie.” I really don’t like it and make pains never to use it in anything I write. But I think the real distinction isn’t so much between high-end, white tablecloth, “fine dining” and cheaper but distinctive “chowhound” food as it is between passion and trend. To me, foodie implies trendy. Foodies only go to the hot new places or those with celebrity chefs. Foodies say things like, “Pasta is so over.” Foodies care about food as part of their image, not as something good to eat. I believe that if you are truly passionate about food, you can’t really be a foodie. If you have passion, you can appreciate both the Ů pad thai and the ษ entree. You don’t have to like everything or hew to some artificial standard of taste, but you’re curious about new food and generally willing to try anything (or almost anything) at least once. I’m fortunate enough to be paid to write about food (not too well, but paid nevertheless), and my editor picks up the tab when I eat at expensive restaurants. I’ve had transcendant meals and really awful ones at places that charge a lot, and the same goes for the cheaper restaurants, too. Jim www.realgoodfood.com
  2. Jim Dixon

    Basil

    a couple more uses..... add torn basil leaves to green salad....biting into one gives you an intense burst of basil-y goodness coarsely chop equal parts basil and parsley, a little garlic, maybe some anchovies and/or salt-packed capers, and a tomato (less tomato than herbs, though), drizzle with good olive oil...serve this salsa verde with grilled meats or vegetables (especially grilled eggplant)
  3. I use two different types of olive oil for everyday cooking (and for those other days, too).... #1 For cooking (and uses where the oil’s flavor isn’t a big issue), I use Trader Joe’s extra virgin, which costs about Ŭ/liter. This is the default oil in my kitchen...I usually don’t have any other vegetable oils on hand, and it seems to work fine for anything that needs to be cooked in oil as well as for recipes that call for the addition of oil as the primary fat. It’s not too strongly flavored, but I don’t think the flavor of olive oil is really detrimental to anything I cook. Trader Joe’s is, I believe, located only in western states, so look for something in the same price range. I’ve also used Bertolli extra virgin that I could buy at the local Mega-Lo-Mart (aka Costco) for about the same price. I’d recommend trying a few of the less expensive oils available in your area to find one that you like. The key is to use extra virgin oil....other grades have olive oil have been extracted from the first pressing paste using high heat and solvents, so they lack the healthful benefits of olive oil (and may contain some residual from the chemical additives). #2 For flavor, I use mostly the oil I import (from Michelin 3-star Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 on the northern edge of the Amalfi Coast...more about that at my web site: www.realgoodfood.com), but also other ‘estate’ quality extra virgins from other regions that use different olive cultivars so the flavor is different. I drizzle this on almost everything, but only after it’s cooked. Once olive oil is heated over about 180 F, the volatile flavor elements start to disappear, so it’s a waste of money to use the good stuff in anything that’s going to be cooked very much at all.
  4. back to the original question....yes, I think many spirits taste great, but the preference is an aquired one (much like the taste for beer). During warm weather I love limoncello, either straight from the freezer or over crushed ice (have to make it myself since there's no good stuff available here in Oregon). When it turns wet and gray, I switch to bourbon or good brandy. And Clear Creek does make several eau-de-vies, including a great pear.
  5. in the vuccirria, Palermo's market district... this guy had a sort of wok-like pan that could've been an old hubcap sitting on a propane burner...thin slices of raw beef (it could've been veal) were piled up on the high side, and a pool of olive oil bubbled at the bottom...he slid some of the meat into the oil, cooked it briefly, piled it onto a hard roll, and squeezed a half-lemon over the whole thing...mmmm
  6. The best chip I've tasted is the locally produced Kettle Chip (local for me means down I-5 a bit to Salem, Oregon). The biggest difference from other potato chips is the use of russet potatoes instead of white-skinned 'chipping' varieties. The russets have more sugar and caramilize nicely..add to that a small batch production, use of expeller-produced oils, and a nice range of flavor options (including my current fav', a ruffled chip with salt and black pepper), and they're hard to beat. Not sure how far east they distribute, though.
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