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ronnie_suburban

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by ronnie_suburban

  1. Brining in a properly-made (kosher) salt solution does not produce a "hammy" taste. It's the other elements that people often add to brines -- sugar, curing salt -- that produce the "hammy" effect. I don't believe that pre-seasoning meat with salt-based rubs produces such an effect, either. At least, it hasn't done so over my multiple attempts with it. =R=
  2. Dayum! Looks like bacon to me -- and some mighty fine bacon, at that. Nice job! *pop* =R=
  3. I wouldn't worry about it. I've produced fine bacon from bellies that didn't render much liquid. The process varies. Sometimes the moisture gets fully absorbed into the dry cure and sometimes there just isn't that much of it to begin with. If you're sure your formulations were right, I'm sure the bellies will turn out fine. =R=
  4. The smoking itself does negligible preservation, so the bacon is as preserved as it will be after the cure is done. I wouldn't leave it uncovered for 3 or 4 days, though -- I'd worry that the meat would dry out and get leathery. ← There is a restaurant here in the Chicago area which makes and serves something they call "old school" bacon (and I believe they learned the technique from someone in Tennessee). It's actually bacon that's been cured normally but then dried for an extended period of time before smoking. They keep it in a temperature and humidity controlled chamber, wrapped in
  5. No flash . . . ever. =R= ← Ditto. The trick is to use a high ISO and have lens stabilization. If the lighting is really low, it can be adjusted on the computer. Sometimes that can result in a grainy photo, but the only thing that absolutely doesn't work is a blurry shot. ← As much as I love taking pictures in restaurants -- especially Alinea -- I'd hate to be the source of anyone's discomfort, via the use of flash. Given the choice between using flash or taking no pictures, the camera would just stay in the bag. =R= ← Agreed. While I have used a flash in restaurants including Alin
  6. No flash . . . ever. =R= ← Ditto. The trick is to use a high ISO and have lens stabilization. If the lighting is really low, it can be adjusted on the computer. Sometimes that can result in a grainy photo, but the only thing that absolutely doesn't work is a blurry shot. ← As much as I love taking pictures in restaurants -- especially Alinea -- I'd hate to be the source of anyone's discomfort, via the use of flash. Given the choice between using flash or taking no pictures, the camera would just stay in the bag. =R=
  7. Good description, Edsel. Just to elaborate, the limes are placed in the tubes and pierced with a retractable blade. From there, the juice is actually squeezed out of them, using lobster crackers, while the limes remain in the tubes. Once squeezed, the limes, tubes and tools are removed from the table. Soldier, I hope you enjoy your upcoming Tour. =R=
  8. I had the great pleasure to experience Alinea's newest menu last week. Chef Achatz was in the house, intense as ever, after a couple weeks off for treatment. It's been said that 'half of cooking is thinking about cooking' and it was abundantly clear that chef Achatz had had some time to 'think about cooking' during his absence from the restaurant. The meal we enjoyed was the most tightly composed progression I've experienced in my many trips to Alinea. The delicious courses delighted our senses, evoked unforeseen emotions and captured the essence of the season masterfully. What follows are
  9. The salad bar at Fogo is what I would describe as "premium," for lack of a better term. In addition to a few above-average, pre-made salads (lettuce-based and other varieties) that are similar to what you would probably find at other places. They also have several distinctive salad-bar offerings like whole artichoke bottoms, asparagus spears and a few varieties of fresh and pickled peppers. There are usually a few decent mid-level cheeses, some good bread. There's a lot more but I'm drawing a blank at the moment. And there are probably some seasonal pros and cons in play, too but because
  10. I agree. But the salad bar at meat palace Fogo de Chao is very highly regarded by a few of my vegetarian friends. I'm not sure, but I think they even offer a special price to 'salad bar only' diners. Love the Greektown suggestion, too. =R= Fogo de Chao 661 N Lasalle St Chicago, IL 60610 312 932-9330
  11. . . . and the list of prospective stops was so much longer. As the song goes, "these are a few of my favorite things." But there are only so many hours in a day. =R=
  12. Dayum, Nancy! You're making me hungry all over again!! You know, scaling back to just 2-3 meals a day has totally disoriented me. =R=
  13. Most 'International' stores in Chicago tend to be focused primarily on 1 country's goods (eg Super H-Mart, Mitsuwa, Cafe Iberico). I didn't realize that you were only looking for specific brands. As long as that's the case, I'd suggest contacting the manufacturers via their web sites or e-mail and asking them for a list of US-based distributors. =R=
  14. There is a fairly comprehensive discussion about Charcuterie sources in Chicago taking place here. Yet, I think the likelihood of finding what you are looking for, even using that great list, will be tough. As others have posted, if you want good Portuguese sausage, your best best is to find a Portuguese community that offers it. As diverse as Chicago's neighborhoods are, I'm not aware of any pockets of Portuguese influence. Perhaps more well-versed person out there can enlighten us all about this. =R=
  15. Beautiful shots, Eliot, of what appears to be an amazing meal. I can't wait to return to Binkley's. It's now a "must stop" on any trip I make to the Phoenix area. =R=
  16. From what I have read, cold-smoking is done ideally at between 70 and 80 degrees F but any temperature below 100 degrees F should provide smoke without cooking the food in question. I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with cold-smoked salmon. If you are interested, you can read about the results here. BTW, I love your rig. It's very similar to mine but mine's even lower-budget! =R=
  17. LMAO! This was a meal for 4, so you have to interpolate a bit. But we normally 3 courses plus dessert (and more often than not, in such cases, the kitchen sends something additional out for us because they figure that we're very hungry). Here, we each ordered 2 courses, plus dessert with the warm salad of boar sausage being a "split" item, so we all could try it. I hope that clarifies things a bit . . . =R=
  18. Had another fantastic dinner at Vie recently which, if no longer a surprising experience, is no less enjoyable. The only sad part is that we'd eaten a late lunch and showed up a bit less hungry than we normally do. As such, we got to try fewer items than normal but many of them were quite memorable . . . Amuse of skate wing and pickled red onion I loved the way the rich skate and the fruity, aromatic olive oil paired with the sweet/tart pickled onion. Seared Hudson Valley foie gras with spiced Scottish shortbread, date puree, roasted local sunchokes and honey crisp apples Just look at the
  19. I will know more on this front shortly -- hopefully by the end of the week. Once I have a selection of dates from the facility, this is probably the way to go. Thanks, Tammy, for the guidance. Definitely hope you'll be able to make it. Duly noted Probably too early, based on previous Gatherings. We'll almost certainly be doing this in July or August. Not a bad thought, either. =R=
  20. Hey kids! Tell your friends about this thread and ask them to check in here. The only way we'll be able to choose the dates that work best for a majority of folks is for everyone to post here and let us know which dates would work best. Obviously, it'll be hard to accomodate everyone, but as people weigh in, maybe a couple of weekends will become obvious choices. Hopefully, in the next week or so, we'll be able to nail down something specific. =R=
  21. I'm thinking we should just extend this to the entire month of July! Seriously, the first step should probably be to check with Kris on available dates, since she will be traveling the farthest. =R=
  22. LOL . . . and there was also that time I made him share all his pork products. I know that couldn't have been pleasant for him, regardless of the huge portion sizes =R=
  23. Yes, indeed, there's a bun supplier. Most places with good dogs get theirs from Alpha Baking, which incorporated Mary Ann buns and also Rosen's Rye, both long-time Chicago institutions. The bun should never be crusty, and most have poppy seeds. They are always steamed--squishy but not soggy--in the best places. Ideally, the dog protrude slightly. Dogs are usually Vienna, but several makers, including one in southern Wisconsin, have done a pretty good job of knocking off the formula. One, Eisenstein, even bears the name of Vienna's founders. Dogs vary in size, typically from 12 to the pound to
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