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Posts posted by detlefchef

  1. Asking is different from telling.

    True, but asking "Why aren't there any chopsticks?" in an accusatory tone is just as bad as (and sometimes worse than) telling. And the way I was being asked definitely not just an inquiry. Sometimes, though, they would just ask, "Can I have chopsticks?" though the tone was often, "You dumbass, where the hell are my chopsticks?" as though I intentionally took them away. To add, when I would explain that Thai people (including myself) usually only used chopsticks for certain noodle dishes and Chinese food, people usually gave me a look as though I were full of shit.

    I guess that at the point of asking the waiter should just say "Chopsticks are not traditional within the Thai culture" or some such thing".. if the customer continued to rant well they are a lost cause.

    I once sat within earshot of a real blowhard at a Thai restaurant. He was just going on and on to his date about this and that. Very full of himself indeed. On more than one occasion my date and remarked to each other what an a-hole he appeared to be. Then, for his final act, he made this big freaking deal to the waiter about what a shtty place this was. After all, they didn't even use chopsticks! I about fell out of my chair laughing. The waiter very gracefully explained that they don't really use chopsticks much in Thailand.

    Once again, it is certainly no sin to be ignorant, but it's disgraceful to be an a-hole to your server, and even worse to be one regarding things you don't know jack about.

  2. I run an Asian restaurant that opened this week. One of the dishes is a Sichuan style clay pot that has, among several other things (tofu, black bean, chili, etc) pork and cabbage in it. A patron, whom the waiter described as very snooty and inclined to opinion gave this complaint.

    "Would you please tell the chef that pork and cabbage is a polish thing not a Chinese thing."

    I don't even know where to begin.

  3. Hey all, just thought I'd give an update. This weekend we invited some friends in to practice on. To be honest, we would have hoped to be in the kitchen for several days prior, but late inspections held that up. Thus, we'd barely fired the woks up for the first time on Saturday night. Though we're encouraged by most of what we served, we feel it best that we take a few more days to iron out the kinks.

    So, the upshot is that Wednesday (or possibly Thursday) will be the opening date rather than Tuesday. Sorry for the delay, but we just really want it to be right before we open up.

    Oh, and yes, you can get sammies to go (but we only serve them until 5pm).

  4. Hey all, thanks for the interest. Dean, thanks for the kind words. BTW, you're really got to see Bin these days, they've been putting varnish on the woodwork and it is completey busting out! It is staggering how much better good wood looks with a coat of finish. We just got the booths in last Friday, so it's really taking shape.

    At anyrate, all inspections at Grasshopper have been falling into place to allow us to open next Tuesday (16th). Only a completely unexpected snag would prevent that (currently knocking on wood). I'm about as excited about Grasshopper as I've been about any other place I've done. Talking to the waitstaff about the menu reminded me of how much I love this food.

    Anyone who cares should feel free to stick their head in and have a look over the next week. It's looking pretty cool and we got the tunes fired up the other day.

  5. Allow me to echo phlawless in a) I freaking love this place! and b) the avocado didn't knock my socks off. I'm embarrassed to say that the first time I saw the place, I was getting some keys made next door and thought, "Whatever, there's no way that place makes it." I mean, a whole store dedicated to nothing but popsicles? However, the guy at the locksmith said they were always packed and I later noticed the same thing for myself. Having sampled the wares, I can see why.

    It doesn't hurt that the neighborhood they butt up against is full of young-ish, progressive people that will totally support a cool little niche place like that.

    A place like loco-pops doing well is a truly encouraging sign about the people of Durham (or at least that part of Durham). I wish them all the best.

  6. I'm a bit of an outsider in this forum, but thought I could add something. My wife is from Cinci and we've made a few trips there in the past few years. A good friend of hers is a major player in the downtown business scene and implied a heightened commitment to pumping up downtown. The last time we were there, we checked out the new modern art museum, had drinks at Bella, and dinner at that Steakhouse, Jeff(?) Ruby's. After dinner, we did more bar-hopping at places who'se names I forget. At any rate, everywhere we went was quite busy.

    If the revitalization of downtown Cinci is anything like what's going on here in Durham, NC, it's often driven by a somewhat younger and more progressive demographic. Perhaps that's not what fills up Maisonette. It is entirely likely that their clientelle have fled for the burbs, thus inspiring them to do the same.

    Here's another take: The new breed of people looking to spend top dollar on food are trending towards more innovative places. I'm treading lightly here because I don't know enough about Maisonette to know how old school it is. When I was a kid, I bussed tables at what had been the top dog in my town for decades. However, during my time there, business continued to fall off until they eventually closed. Why? Because their client base was literally dying off and the next generation of diners was not looking for bow-ties, velvet, and old-school french. Again, this may or may not be the case here. That is for someone more informed than I to say.

  7. Well, for some strange reason I've been craving hot dogs over the last few days...go figure. Well today around lunch time I will filling up my gas tank next door to a local hot dog chain, The Doghouse. I'd never been to one before and thought I'd buy one for the road. I ordered a "German Shepherd" which is a hot dog with kraut and mustard.

    First off, even more so than pizza, I believe the phrase "Even when they're bad, they're good" applies to hot dogs. I mean, honestly, when was the last time you remember having a "bad" hot dog. That said, it was a very bizzare shade of red, but only on the outside. Otherwise, it was a sound hot dogs as they go.

  8. For years, my regular routine at Costco was to make the rounds of all the nice folks handing out food samples while incidentally getting my grocery shopping done, and then to hit the hotdog stand. I'd always choose the Polish sausage over a regular frank, and top it with brown mustard and as much sauerkraut as would fit without falling off. It's been awhile since I let my Costco membership lapse, but IIRC they'd get a nice all-over browning on their dogs, and use decent rolls--not standard hotdog rolls but something like a slimmed-down French roll.

    I don't know how they did it before, but now they simmer their dogs. Which is a fine enough way to cook a standard frank IMO. And yes, the buns are good.

  9. But as for fixings, I love a good Chicago-style hot dog.

    Do tell: what exactly does that mean for you? Favorite places?

    And ditto, detlefchef:

    Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

    What, praytell, is a "Skyline Coney"??

    Skyline is a famous chili place in Cinci. There are basically two competing franchises (Skyline and Gold Star (I think it's Gold Star?)) that make Cincinnati Chili. Skyline is fit for human consumption, Gold Star is for luddites and beasts. The chili itself was apparently developed by some Greek brothers way back and is distinctive for it's inclusion of cinnamon. Otherwise, it's your basic ground beef chili. It is typically served over spaghetti with onions and cheese. Some people add beans, but those people are lame (I actually like chili with beans, but not this kind). A coney is a small hot dog served with some of the chili on top. You typically order them a few at a time.

  10. I'd say my first adult epiphany with hot dogs came at Top Dog in Berkeley, CA. That said, my favorite there wasn't exactly a hot dog, but the Bockwurst. A white, fine grained (emuslified?) dog that I believe was made from veal and pork. What I loved about Top Dog was the simple quality and system. About a dozen or so different variety of sausages ranging from classic hot dogs to fennel studded calabrese were lined up, slowly cooking on the cooler side of a large flat-top. As one was ordered, it was simply moved to the hotter side for a brief finishing. The resulting nicely browned dog was served on a great roll (soft, fat, and studded with sesame seeds). A condiment bar with the usual suspects was there. What struck me at the time was that here was a place that served only dogs and achieved variation through different sausages, not through an endless choice of silly toppings.

    Years later, I was working at Oliveto in Oakland and was in charge of sausage making. The chef and I spoke of working on making an emuslified hot dog for a company picnic but it never happened.

    These days, I get my dog fix at one of two places: At Durham Bulls baseball games and, more commonly, at Costco of all places. One of the greatest lunch deals going. For $1.50, you get a big all-beef Kosher frank on a good bun with a large fountain drink. Mind you, I only get one if I happen to be shopping there, which is more than I can say for the crowds who seem to descend on the place during the noon hour.

    My usual combo: onions, kraut, and deli mustard.

    Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

  11. In my opinion, you're going to need to find another country than the US to get this. The closest thing I've found to this has been in the wine countries of CA, but even that is rather staged. That is, less homespun and more a result of other urbanites moving to the country and opening upscale spots. That doesn't sound like what you're looking for.

    Now I live in North Carolina and tend to find it's really slim pickings when you head out of town. You're more likely to find velveeta sandwiches than anything inspired if you dine in the country. Certainly there's BBQ, but you many not want to eat that every day of your life.

    I am proud to be an American chef and feel that modern American cuisine is up there with anyone else. However, I don't think our country has the fundamental and historical dedication to good food that other cultures have. Thus, good food in this country is primarily driven by young urban chefs cherry picking the cuisines of the world. You're not going to find this in the middle of nowhere.

    I'd go so far as imagine that you're going to find it less and less even on the dinner tables of country homes as more people out there are driving a somewhat long distance into the nearest town to work and are probably stopping at Hardies on the way home for dinner.

    This isn't to say that rural US is a total culinary wasteland, but I feel it safe to say, that good food is the exception rather than the rule.

  12. In my limited experience, I have only found 1 form of bread/pastry from Mexico to be worth eating: the bohio (the spelling gods cringe).  The bohio (or however its spelled) is the bread that makes up a torta.  Quite tasty.  Usually pretty fresh,


    I'll give you that one, sort of. It's actually nothing more than OK in as much as any fresh bread is basically good. That said, you wouldn't want a bread of any more character on a torta.

  13. I recall seeing a Mexican bakery near that area, by Wal-Mart. I am anxious to try the stuff there as my experience with Mexican baked goods has been not good; the equivalent of Mexican Little Debbies

    The next time I get anything good from a Mexican bakery will be the first time. It is well documented among my foodie friends that Mexican pastries are by and large the biggest let down going. You always want to think they'll be good and they never are. I really don't get it. The savory food is about the safest bet going in terms being one of those "even when it's bad, it's good" foods, but the pastries...

  14. The natural foods thread covers some of what you're looking for, so I wont duplicate that here. In terms of bread, I'd have to put Weaver St. above at least Guglhupf (though the pastries at Guglhupf are outstanding).

    I second the Grand Asia call by Varmint. It's really them and everyone else. However, it's a bit of a trip from my Durham home and I've found Asia Mkt on 15-501 near Foster's and Guglhupf to be pretty good in a pinch.

    Ditto the Chatham Sq. for Indian food. Pretty much anything you could want.

    Best middle eastern grocery is likely Neomonde (at least the one in Raleigh, the one in Morrisville is pretty much just a restaurant and has a much smaller selection of groceries).

    Mexican groceries are really pretty spotty. They're all over the place, but none have been consistantly good enough for me to totally endorse. One time you go in and everything looks great, the next time you go by there, the one item you went for looks totally piqued and the shelves are bare. That said, you're likely to have better luck in Durham than most other places and if I had to pick a few, I'd take the one at the corner of Club and Roxboro or Superior up Roxboro another half mile or so. Of course, there's always Miss Tortilla on 98 at Mineral Springs which has a great selection of take away prepared foods (including fresh tortillas) but really lame produce.

  15. when will we see some heirloom tomatoes in raleigh? it doesnt seem like the public knows enough about them for the specialty farmers to bring them out. they are more or less saved for the high end restaurants, im guessing.

    It's still a bit early for heirloom tomatoes regardless of where you are. Whole Foods has them, but I can assure you they're coming from somewhere south like Mexico. Tomatoes that pop this early are almost always hybrids bred specifically for early season harvest.

    I could be wrong because my seasonal timing was primarily learned in the SF Bay Area where we never saw outdoor grown tomatoes until early July. That said, the only tomatoes I'm getting out of my back yard right now are cherries.

  16. I'm totally not buying this.  I don't think think any woman ever, who was not born in Russia or the Ukraine, slept with a man because he cooked her beets.  Never, never, never.  :laugh:

    As a tennis fan I can say with absolute certainty that you could do worse than seduce a Russian woman. In fact, it's funny that beets get lumped in with them as both are victims of an undeserved poor rep. Thanks to cold war propoganda we were fed as children, Russian women inspire visions of coarse, manish beasts when in fact they are among the most beautiful women in the world. As for beets, we're led to believe that nobody likes them. However, I've yet to meet that person.

    Oh, and for the record, one can't just simply serve a big pile of beets and hope to get in anyone's pants. But don't underestimate the power of the beet.

  17. Roasted beets, at least when served by a man to a woman is about as sure fire as any food I know.
    detlechef, I roast beets and have never found them particularly "arousing" so, if I might inquire, are you using some sort of seductive sauce? Serving them in some erotic manner? :rolleyes:

    Well, for starters, I did say "when served by a man to woman", so I can't speak of the effect in your case. I'll also say that I have eaten roasted beets on plenty of occasions that didn't result in any hanky panky. Certainly the intention to seduce must accompany the preparation, but the I think the basal and earthy richness helps remind us of our true instincts and purpose on this world. It reminds us that we are animals and, thus...

  18. Roasted beets, at least when served by a man to a woman is about as sure fire as any food I know. Over the years I've consulted on many a special meal that friends were cooking for their lady friends and I'd only devulge the roasted beet if I felt they were truly ready for the next step. The results were quite astounding.

  19. I have to agree with some of the later responses. Certainly it is more about the ideals than strictly adhereing to particular ingredients. That, however, only goes so far. Certainly it means that use should use whatever produce is being grown locally than having exotic asian versions flown in. Bangers, however, don't really count as a raw product in my book. It is something prepared. If one has the means to make a british style sausage, one likely has the means to prepare a chinese style sausage.

    As an American chef who's embraced Asian foods, I take great care in not creating "fusion". That said, quality is more important to me than authenticity. That is, it is more important for the food to reflect where it is being made than reflect the region it was inspired by (though it should certainly do both). When I worked at a Oliveto in Oakland, CA, the chef at the time explained his food to me by saying it's what he hoped a young and inspired Italian chef would make if he was turned loose in Oakland for the day. That's an important distinction that I've carried with me throughout my career.

  20. Where is Durham's farmer's market?  Anyone have an address?

    The Durham market is on, I believe, Foster St. It's on the same street as the old ballpark a few blocks closer to downtown. I actually prefer it to the Saturday Carborro mkt because the parking is better, it's less crowded, it's closer to my home, and I can bring my dogs. Carborro is maybe just a tad better in terms of product, but perhaps not enough to warrant the hassle.

  21. Not sure how much Southern Season has in the way of OG. Your best sources will be at the Durham (Sat am) and Carborro Farmer's Mkts (Sat am and Wed pm). I haven't been to the Raleigh Farmer's Market in some time but was very unimpressed last I went. Weaver St. Market in Carborro is a good source and an Earth Fare is opening up in Chapel Hill soon.

    That's where I would look.

  22. Off the top of my head...

    I'd try Chai's on Erwin. I honestly haven't been thrilled with anything I've had there, but I believe they have a reasonably extensive veggie menu. And the broth is certainly better than Lime and Basil (of course that's about the same as being taller than a midget).

    Baba Ganouj Cafe in the big Wachovia bldg. on Main St is much better than International Delights and has a bunch of veggie options. Neomonde in Morrisville and Raleigh is better still.

    At the risk of tooting my own horn (which I suppose I'm about to do anyway), a project that I'm working on called Grasshopper is about to open and will have a lot of veggie options. Am I allowed to say this? Does this count as advertisement?

  23. Excellent thread. I figured that there must be some decent taquerias w/ the growth in the NC latino population. I was just going to ask the Southeast board where I could find good tacos near I-85 for my July/August roadtrip.

    I'm a little familiar w/ Durham (used to live in Chapel Hill), am I correct to assume that any of the 3 places on Roxboro are <10 mins from the highway?  Pardon the silly question but do any of these 3 places have some shade in their parking lots, since I'll be traveling with 2 Labradors in the middle of summer heat?  I'll probably just sit on my hood and slurp a couple of tacos down, but still it's nicer for the dogs if they're not stuck in a hot car while I get my BBQ & taco fixes as I travel through NC.

    Since detlefchef and phlawless seem to know something about tacos, any other little stands or taquerias that you know near I-85 anywhere between Petersburg, VA and Atlanta? 

    Muchas gracias

    Yes, all three of the Roxboro spots are within a mile or two from 85. Mind you, the Roxboro exit on 85 is an absolute freaking mess right now. In terms of shady spots, your best bet is the one on Club, I seem to recall some overhanging trees on one end of the parking lot. You may have luck at Super, but the other will not work at all.

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