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Meanderer

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Everything posted by Meanderer

  1. According to the Dec. 19, 2009 issue of the Economist, per capita comsumption of rice in Japan is about half what it was in the early 1960s and that meat and bread has filled the gap. In the January 2010 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, the number of butchers in Germany has dropped from 70,000 in the 1970s to 17,000 today as fewer Germans eat red meat and more of those who do buy their meat at large supermarkets. Although I have no source, I recall reading that the French drink far less wine than they formerly did but that imported spirits consumption in France has increased per capita. In 50 years, will we be able to distinguish individual food cultures as easily as we can today?
  2. I bought a bottle of Clynelish 14 year old. I think I'll open it tomorrow evening and offer a bit to Santa if he has a little time to spare.
  3. During my working days, I was employed by a series of elected state officials. Each one preferred to be on a first name basis with every employee, regardless of position. I can't speak for others but I respected these folks for it because they were essentially saying, even if it wasn't true, that we were all equally important to the performance of the functions of the office. I think I would have felt the same respect if I had ever worked for a chef who expressed a preference to be referred to by his or her first name rather than by the title.
  4. I wonder what the words "when possible" mean to the 43% who said they would buy locally. I seem to recall surveys that said a substantial number of U.S. consumers would prefer to purchase clothing made in the country yet when those U.S. products turned out to be more costly than those which were foreign-made, the expressed preference turned out to be subordinated to the preference for more money in the consumers' pockets. I suspect Purdue is going to continue to outsell the small, local chicken producers even in the farmers' backyards, both because of price considerations and because of the convenience of grabbing the chicken out of the cooler 50 feet from where the fabric softener and canned peanuts can be found.
  5. Approximately 125 miles WNW of Philadelphia.
  6. Within 300 feet: sour cherries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, rhubarb, blueberries, blackberries, shallots, popcorn, corn meal, leeks, green beans, canning tomatoes, asparagus, pumpkins/squash, all 100%; hot peppers, 95%; lettuce, spinach, fresh herbs, peas, sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, garlic 75%; carrots, onions, radishes, brussel sprouts, jam, 50%; dried beans, apples, 10%. Within 1 mile: eggs 100%. Within 10 miles: milk, 100%; beef, maple syrup 25%. Within 20 miles: turkey, chicken, apricots, sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, honey 100%; apples, 90%; butter, 50%: beef, pork 25%; bread, ice cream 10%; cheese 5%. Within 50 miles: beer 75%. Seafood, wheat flour, pasta, rice, citrus and tropical fruit, grapes(fresh or dried), wine, lentils, salt, sugar, tomato sauce/paste/ketchup, mustard, distilled spirits, coffee, tea, broth/stock, all 0%. This was a very interesting exercise and made me realize once again that I live in a pretty good part of the country from the standpoint of finding sources of fresh food direct from the farmers/producers.
  7. We've had good luck with Rouge Vif d'Etampes, aka, Princess pumpkins. Although we grow our own, I am beginning to see them more frequently at local fruit and vegetable stands.
  8. The parents of a childhood friend were natives of Hungary and the occasional meals I had at their home seemd both exotic and good to me. My recollections of those meals caused me as an adult to search for an authentic Hungarian cookbook, something that was much more difficult to do before we owned a computer. I finally found one in a used book store(The Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang) and I bought it after barely a glance. After getting it home, I decided it might be just a little too authentic because it contained far too many recipes that called for ingredients that were and still are largely unavailable to me locally, e.g., fish milt, smoked goose breast, live carp, partridge, Lipto sheep's-milk cheese(the book says I can use Brindza instead, but I can't get that either). The other problem is that many of the things we have tried from the book turned out to be merely ok. I assume my tastes have changed over time and flavors that were revelations in the 60's when my diet was simpler are less so today.
  9. I'm concerned that Saveur may be lowering its standards a bit recently. When I saw the words "WHY LAMB RULES" on the cover of the most recent issue, my first reflex was to call and cancel the subscription. I'm not a teenager nor, I suspect, are most of Saveur's readers. I am also annoyed by the overemphasis of Tuscany whenever food magazines, including Saveur, decide to print articles about Italy. This issue has a feature about Tuscany and a blurb about a Tuscan wine. I know Italy has food and wine outside of Tuscany but too many magazine editors seem to think readers wouldn't be interested. However, I think we are paid up through about the end this century, so I'll give them another chance.
  10. This was a great trip report and useful, too, as we will be in Toledo in March. I don't suppose you could do us the favor of returning to Spain before the Spring to scout the Alpujarra for us as well. We'd be forever in your debt.
  11. Meanderer

    Anaheim Peppers

    You will need to roast them because their skins are quite tough. We eat them in omelettes and put them on salads. We also like them with goat cheese and a little balsamic vinegar.
  12. I partially succeeded in my plan to try the two apple brandies I mentioned at the beginning of this topic. I could not locate a bottle of the Flag Hill product but I did find a bottle of its pear brandy. It had a definite nose and taste of pear but finished with a faint oily/fishy taste when tried at room temperature. When slightly chilled, as recommended on the bottle, it was better. The Sweetgrass Farms Apple Brandy was really, really, really good. As you may have guessed, I am not terribly articulate when it comes to describing the product but I can say this--if it was readily available where I live, I would purchase it on a regular basis despite its high price(about $35 for a 375 ml bottle).
  13. The best meal we had during a week in the area was at The Town Hill Bistro, a few miles out of Bar Harbor.The creamless mussel and shrimp Chowder was a great start but the cod with leeks was even better. Although I don't ordinarily order dessert, I decided to try a cocoa-ginger cake with salty caramel sauce and that was quite rewarding as well. My wife enjoyed everything she ordered and was paricularly pleased that she had more than one vegetarian option from which to choose. On the other end of the spectrum was breakfast at Cafe This Way. The home-made corn beef hash consisted of a scant portion of undercooked potatoes with a few shreds of dry corned beef. My wife's omelet also came with undercooked potatoes and the salsa that was served on top was ice cold. The service wasn't any better. Nobody ever came by to offer more coffee and when we asked for a refill when our plates were being cleared, we received a pretty ungracious assent. I'll take Jeannie's over this place any day.
  14. Yes, any apple, just as any other fruit, can be distilled into a spirit. However, just as some grapes are considered to be better for grape-based brandy(Cognacs and Armagnacs mostly use Ugni Blanc), so must some apples be better for apple-based brandy. I read somewhere that producers in Normandy may use as many as 75 different varieties of apples in a single batch and that most of those varieties are not typically grown for any other purpose eaten.
  15. I suspect that growers, both artisanal and not, prefer to increase the going rate for their apples by whatever means. If a large grower in the Yakima Valley believes there is a sure-fire, high-priced market for obscure apple varieties to be converted into high-proof alcohol, that grower will plant those varieties. Will that ever happen? Probably not. That leaves the artisanal growers and Laird's in the yet-small field hoping, no doubt, that selling distilled spirits is the best way to make the most money from apples.
  16. That all sounds about right except for the part about growers being satisfied if they are paid the going price. Like any farmer, apple growers would be thrilled to find effective ways to stimulate demand for their produce to increase that going rate. That is what the farmstead Calvados makers so common in Normandy do to get more for the fruits of their agricultural labors. The Normans, however, have the right fruit, the skill, the experience, and the equipment to make a distillate that, apparently, finds a receptive public. All that is absent here except, perhaps, for the receptive public which may or may not be present in the states. We won't know if that exists until there is more apple brandy available for the public to receive, if that ever happens at all.
  17. I wonder whether Laird's has a specific recipe it uses; e.g., 20% Golden Delicious, 35% Winesap, 18% York, and 27% Idared, or does it use whatever apples happen to be abundant in any given year. If it buys apples based upon price and availability, the product should be different from year to year. I understand that Norman Calvados makers may use dozens of varieties of apples in any given batch but I also understand that apple production varies from year to year so that some varieties may produce heavily and others sparsely. On occasion, at least here in the states, certain early-flowering apples may fail altogether, at least on a local basis, because of late freezes If production of apples varies in Normandy as well, it must be difficult for Calvados producers to maintain consistancy from year to year. In that respect, Calvados would be more like wine than grain-based distillates, such a bourbon or scotch.
  18. I know Domfront Calvados uses pears, but I understood that most Calvados producers from other AOC's used apples alone.
  19. Flag Hill Farm in Vershire, Vermont and Sweetgrass Farm in Union, Maine.
  20. I've noticed a slow but steady growth in small scale, artisanal apple brandy producers in the U.S. but I have yet to come across any of their products on the shelves of my local liquor stores. Has anybody had any experience with any locally produced apple brandies and, if so, are any of them on a par with or better than comparably priced Calvados imported to the states? I'll be in the vicinity of two small distilleries in the northeast in a few weeks and I hope to judge for myself.
  21. I have an impression that, in a general sense, people are moving toward the poles in their eating habits. At the one pole are families which primarily eat foods that they had no hand in preparing other than, perhaps, turning on a microwave. The fast food outlets, carryouts, and sit down restaurants are far more common now than they were when I was a tot. The expansion of the frozen food aisles in supermarkets, largely because of the demand for heat and serve items, is further evidence that a large segment of the population doesn't cook, or cook very often. On the other hand, a large segment of the population must be gravitating to the other pole, the one where cooking is an important part of the day. Otherwise, the produce departments in the supermarkets would not have expanded as they seem to have done over the past 20 years, the success and growth of farmers' markets could not have happened, and fresh seafood would not be as readily available as it is now. I think the shrinking cohort contains families such as the one in which I grew up. Several nights a week in our house the meals consisted of cheap cuts of meat prepared simply, baked or mashed potatoes, frozen or canned vegetables, and non-home baked bread(and then casseroles made from the leftover meat). I expect June Cleaver was very familiar with this kind of cooking but there are far fewer June Cleavers in the world now.
  22. In some ways, it may be less frustrating for those of us who live here because we know what to expect and are generally aware of which restaurants have licenses and which are BYOBs. In addition, we may have our favorite BYOBs and pretty much know what we will find on the menuwhen we get there. That helps us to guess about an appropriate wine to bring. Also, we can be spontaneous. If we suddenly decide to go out to the local BYOB at 7 p.m., we aren't put out by the fact that the state store has closed because we can go into our basement and grab something we've been wanting to drink since we bought it 14 months ago. The cost benefits of BYOBs don't hurt either, because there are no restaurant markups and few BYOBs, in my experience, have a corkage fee. Most restaurants seem to have websites and you will be able to find out online whether a particular restaurant sells wine. It is only when you go into a restaurant blind that you may find yourselves alcohol-free during your meal.
  23. Pennsylvania has an archaic system where, except at wineries or retail locations operated by Pennsylvania wineries, wine is sold only in state operated stores. Liquor is sold nowhere else by the bottle. Don't even ask about beer. Fortunately for your Matyson dinner, there is a state store around the corner from the restaurant, on Chestnut Street. Deciding on a wine to take is problematic, as you suggest, because it is difficult to know what you will select from the menu ahead of time unless you have seen the menu on line or posted outside the door and are able to decide in advance. Even then, you may not know about the nightly specials until you are seated at your table. Sometimes I take both red and white wine and open only one, depending on what my wife and I decide to order(we add up or entrees--my scallops, her primavera-- and appetizers--my beef carpaccio, her goat cheese salad, divide by two and then decide whether a red or wine matches. Usually orange works best but we can't seem to find an orange wine). On other occasions, I take a red or a white and order something from the menu that matches what I have brought. My wife typically orders what she wants to eat irrespective of the wine we have brought and never gives the matter another thought, but she is more flexible that I am. As for taking unfinished bottles with them when they leave, yes, people do so. I can only imagine how frustrating the system can be for strangers to Pennsylvania who find themselves in a restaurant with no liquor license and are told the nearest state store is several miles away and, not only that, closed and hour ago. If there is a convenient nearby liquor store and it happens to be open, its selection of chilled white wines is liable to be limited. In fact, stores outside of urban or affluent suburban areas are likely to have a limited selection of wine in general. On top of everything else, the state has no budget right now and state employees are not being paid. If that continues into September, and right now the parties are quite far apart, I can envision state store clerks walking off the job and stores being run by managers and being open for limited hours only. That probably won't happen, but I wouldn't rule it out. Good luck or good planning. You'll need one of them in our beguiling but misguided state.
  24. We had a very nice lunch at One Block West in Winchester on Saturday. Two highlights: the spicy gazpacho, which was as good as or better than any I have eaten previously(other than homemade)and the local berries with passionfruit curd. The latter dish included something I've never before eaten in a restaurant--wineberries. Somebody went to quite a bit of work to pick those things because, although they are common in parts of the east, it takes a lot of them to make a pint.
  25. Meanderer

    Gooseberries

    We use currants for making a syrup to put on pancakes and waffles. I would think gooseberries would work just as well, although I don't think I've run across any pancakes or waffles on my visits to Scotland so you might need something else to put it on.
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