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Everything posted by Meanderer

  1. It was many years ago, but I enjoyed the Spanish Tavern in Newark when I was in town for something or other. The place has been there for decades and gave me the impression that had I eaten there 50 years ago, it would not have felt much different. It serves, as you can imagine, Spanish food and some Portuguese dishes.
  2. Back in the mid-90s, I sampled a Rowan berry whisky distilled by or for a vendor at the Balnakeil Craft Village outside of Durness. It wasn't very appealing. I would think, however, it might serve to provide an interesting hint of flavor to a chocolate dessert.
  3. Lunch outdoor on a mild and sunny day in a quiet location (garden, atmospheric village square, quaint side-street, bucolic countryside--any of those will do) where we can linger for a couple of hours with well-prepared regional, farm-to-table food. A decent, though inexpensive, bottle of wine doesn't hurt. Sadly, none of those places can be readily found around here so we tend to try to seek them out when we travel.
  4. Just off I-81 in the little town of Draper is the Merc, open for breakfast and lunch. A little bit cutesy, but the kitchen does a nice job.
  5. We are in the preliminary stages of building a new home and have made a few decisions on finishes. Countertop material is one of those and we have decided on Soapstone. While it isn't cheap, it looks good, is resistant to heat, and it does not need to be sealed. My wife was sold on it when she read that soapstone has been used in laboratories because of its antimicrobial qualities. The only disadvantage is that the material is relatively soft, but I don't see either of us as particularly violent cooks so we aren't too worried about it.
  6. Irn-Bru is pretty vile. So why do I keep buying it whenever I am in Scotland...?
  7. Like TdeV, we don't have anyone who delivers out here but I wouldn't use the services even if they were available for the same reason I never use take-out--the waste stream. While our trash service includes the pick up of recyclables, no Styrofoam is allowed, nor is cardboard that has been in contact with food.
  8. We will be in the Sierra de Aracena in March. I fear, though, that all his product goes to the big cities around the world and that none will be available in local restaurants.
  9. A rather odd one that we really like consists of olive oil, garlic, white wine (though a non-oaky red can work), crushed tomatoes and a bucket-load of paprika. Parmesan or pecorino romano doesn't hurt it a bit. I used our homemade piment d' espelette pepper once and it was quite good too but we can't always get a crop of the peppers to grow so I tend to hoard the stuff when we have it to use for other things.
  10. I'm pretty clueless when it comes to this kind of stuff so I asked my wife. She said she would take fresh flowers.
  11. I'm guessing the gold variation of Jacob's Cattle.
  12. We particularly enjoyed 4 amb 5 and Pla when we were in Barcelona in March. Celeri was also quite good but the noise level hurt the overall experience.
  13. I will be curious about how you decide on suppliers. Not so much about who launders your linens but rather, for example, who is your chosen meat purveyor(s) and why. I imagine, in the metro St. Louis area, there are plenty of butchers, bakers, and growers, organic and otherwise, so you will have a wealth of choices. How, and when, will you investigate your options and decide with whom you will do business?
  14. We were in Reykjavik a couple of Februarys ago and, by lucky chance, our visit coincided with the annual Food and Fun festival, during which the chefs of most of the better restaurants (of which there are a good number) pair up with chefs from Europe and North America and perhaps elsewhere to create special set-price menus using Icelandic ingredients. The most difficult challenge was deciding which of 25 or 30 menus sounded the most intriguing. No problem with the abs, though. They haven't been seen in years.
  15. My wife and I have often fantasized about purchasing a second home and spending months in particular place that we visit with some frequency but the thing, other than money, that puts a damper on our fantasy is a situation similar to what you are describing (though not quite as dire, I think). The area is three hours from a first-rate grocery and more than an hour from a small, but plucky one which will attempt to obtain anything we want if we notify them well in advance. The climate is not conducive to growing anything other than cool weather vegetables. Growing fresh fruit is out of the question. Farmers market? Nope. The coastal scenery is stunning but seafood isn't easy to come by and the only local restaurant that prepared somewhat interesting food stopped serving evening meals a few years ago. An artisan bakery came and went in a blink of an eye. We love the place and will continue to visit as long as we are able but living there would cause psychological challenges because, like you, food variety and quality is important to us, as is being able to enjoy that food with others. You may be in luck, however. Depending on how the U.S. presidential election goes, Canada may have a small flood of immigrants from south of the border and, surely, some of them will share your desire for good, fresh food.
  16. I prefer restaurants where the pace is sufficiently relaxed and the noise level not so overwhelming. Those are the conditions that help facilitate long conversations with my dining companion(s), one of the nonfood pleasures of eating out.
  17. If you have any Tamworth pork available in your area, it is worth a try. Probably the best plain old pork roast I ever had came from that breed.
  18. About two weeks ago, we had lunch a few miles outside Espelette and one of the dishes on the menu of the day was loosely translated as veal stew with Espelette peppers. I ordered it and it was pretty basic, seeming to consist of the meat, onions, and peppers in a rich brown gravy. Pretty good, too. I noticed no heat from the peppers, though.
  19. I'll offer a partial defense of the state stores. I live in a rather smallish community compared to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, yet I have three state stores within 15 miles of home. One is a Premium Collection store which has a better selection of products and a significant number of Chairman's Selection wines which, if one is judicious, can yield some real bargains. In terms of variety, this store offers a better selection than most of the private stores I have walked into over the line in Maryland. For example, I recently decided I wanted to purchase a Txakoli wine from the Basque region of Spain. The state store had one on the shelf. I would have been shocked had one of the nearby Maryland liquor store carried it. As for price, I don't notice a huge difference between Pennsylvania and Maryland when I have attempted to make a comparison although it is, of course, possible to shop around in Maryland whereas the prices are always the same across Pennsylvania. Other states are perhaps cheaper, but they are not nearby so I don't know. As for special orders, I have ordered case lots of wine on three occasions. Twice, it was expeditious and problem-free. The third time, I seemed to be the victim of a certain amount of incompetence but eventually my order was successfully placed. At no time was I told that restaurants bought up the entire supply, nor was I charged anywhere near $100 for shipping. I think it was less than $20 each time, though I didn't ask for expedited handling and that might have been a factor. As for the employees being paid a living wage and receiving a pension, I have no problem with that. My primary gripe with the system is its inflexibility. For everyday drinking, I happen to prefer a brand of Bourbon and a brand of Scotch that the LCB has chosen not to sell. That means I can't buy the products anywhere in the state. Therefore, if I want to drink those brands, I must buy them out of state. In a more user friendly system, a product unavailable in one store would be available in another or available by special order but in Pennsylvania, if it isn't favored, it can't be had. A secondary concern is that some of the Chairman's Selections have been a bit of a scam. Yes, the prices were terrific, but only if that wine had been offered at that price a few years previously. Some of the wines were well past their prime and, no doubt, that is why the wineries and/or distributors were willing to unload them cheaply. Unfortunately, many customers would look only at the price and the WS rating and not realize that the wine is but a ghost of its former self. I don't think the practice is as prevalent as it used to be but it still happens. A final concern is that many of the employees lack either training or interest to be able to answer questions about their products. That, however, may be the case in other states as well. I don't know. The LCB should try to do better to train and inspire, however. In sum, I don't see the picture being as bleak as others do. Perhaps that is because I don't have ready access to better stores over the state line. I'm somewhat dissatisfied, but if changes mean private stores like most of those I see in Maryland where the wine selection, in particular, is limited to Turning Leaf, Yellowtail, and its ilk, I'll stick with the status quo.
  20. We use cistern water for washing dishes. This saves electricity because our well pump is much deeper than the cistern pump.
  21. We like the Yelping Dog, a wine store with a limited food menu. Generally, we share a cheese plate and charcuterie while drinking one of the bottles of wine bought at retail price there. There are some interesting grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu as well.
  22. Meanderer

    Scottish nibbles!

    To me, the quintessential dish of Scotland would be Cullen skink.
  23. I will continue to buy locally grown food because I prefer farms in my area to housing developments and warehouses. If I can provide some incentive to a grower to keep on growing rather than selling the farm to a developer, I am happy to do so.
  24. First Bratwurst of Summer by Those Darned Accordions! Making Pies by Patty Griffin Track 4 from Dan Reeder's first CD (my fingers refused to type the title of this song on a family site)
  25. I wonder what your server's response would be if you had a regular customer who ordered a dinner at $44 each visit but drank nothing but water. A second regular came in on the same evenings and ordered a dinner at $44 and a $50 dollar bottle of wine. At 20%, the first customer would be tipping $8.80 and the second customer would leave $18.80. Would your server suggest banning the first regular because the tips from him or her were less than half than those from the second diner? I would suggest that you, as the owner, make a point of getting to know the person with the 9% tipping habit and express your gratitude for his custom. You could do this by personally stopping by his table before he leaves on several occasions and chat with him for a while (unless, of course, he is an early diner and you are still busy with other meals). Once he feels privileged because he has a one on one relationship with one of the proprietors, you could more easily broach the subject of tipping with him and at least learn whether his practice is a matter of ignorance or whether he is a cheapskate. It would be nice to know.
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