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    Crystal Lake, IL
  1. I'll be spending some time in Portland later this week. One of my favorite cities, period. On Friday afternoon, I'll be driving out to the coast. We'll be staying in Seaside, and plan on just trying to relax, enjoy some scenery, hiking. I've read that Mo's has the best clam chowder? Not sure if this is tourist fodder or if its really something to go after? Also, just looking for opinions on dining options in the general area - in general, good food, representative of the locale is really what appeals to me. Also, if there happens to be a place you know to get some great sandwiches or other picnic fare, I'd be up for hearing about that as well! Yeah, kind of vague, but since I haven't spent any time there, I'm just trying to get a feeler... Thanks in advance!
  2. I'll be headed to Rome on the 26th of January, and a friend has recommended a restaurant called Ferrara. Has anyone been there? I'm curious about everything from anything that you found particularly tasty, good, bad, etc. I've only got a few days in Rome and have explored the existing posts about dining in Rome, but certainly if there are any new spots that I should know of that would be fantastic.
  3. oggi

    Kitchen Hustle

    Cooked, indeed. I read all but the first 20 pages in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. I've never been in prison, but have spent a couple of nights in county for some minor infractions which I need not go into here. Nonetheless, and curiously, the kitchen work always came up amongst those that were also there, and had spent time in prison. That, and the laundry. I purchased the book, and had no expectations. What I found in it was probably one of the greatest recipes of all time. An absolute metaphor presented through life's challenges and ultimate victories. The same that anyone who cooks can relate to in the world of food. Take those raw ingredients. Sometimes they are the unwanted bits, sometimes they look pretty, sometimes you stumble upon them by accident...make something out of them. Realize that there is learning, realize there is trial and error, but realize that those raw ingredients put together thoughtfully and soulfully can be pulled together into something that may be special and oh-so-good. If you try, if you stay focused, if you have that ultimate vision and goal in mind. I see Cooked as that. Congrats on where you're at, Jeff. In my mind, you didn't write a book extolling the virtues of cuisine or secret recipes, necessarily, but you did indeed lay forth a good recipe for inspiration in life and dealing with the challenges it presents.
  4. I'm going to be visiting Seattle most likely next week - and both Lark and Cremant look incredibly inviting; I'm unfortunately probably only going to have time for one of them during my visit, but I was curious if you had any sort of opinions, comments, in detail. The both look comfortable; they both seem rustic; definitely the type of atmosphere's I'm interested in. Any comments on the service? Any special menu items that really stood out? Etc. etc.
  5. I will be on my way to Barcelona Spain the first week of January for a work event. One of the company sponsored events will be a visit to a winery - Cordorniu Winery. This works well into my plans, because I've long been a fan of robust reds that come out of Spain - but unfortunately, my knowledge of this winery is minimal ** (well, actually non-existent). Their Website I'd love to pick up a few bottles, and I'm sure that the tasting will certainly guide me to those that I may be interested in...but... Anything I may want to know before going? Any hidden gems that I must be sure to at least get a taste of? Any comments, suggestions, or warnings would be greatly appreciated. *edited to proclaim realization that cava is the premier product out of this region*
  6. I agree - there's really nothing like it. It really is unto itself, and Tabasco is just not the same. Fortunately, from the article, it sounds like long term it will be there - it's just gonna be a while before its back in mass production. I definitely agree- stock up if you can!!!!!!
  7. A curious thread, given my personal situation at the holidays this year...I'm happy I found it. Without going into too much gross detail my girlfriend and I have decided to do the opposite of what is normally done on Xmas day. Simply due to a very emotional year with way too many downs than ups (not with us - we happened to find one another at a most perfect time, and we needed each other) Initially I began to think purely about the food...i.e. what could be the exact opposite of Turkey, dressing, potatoes, etc. (as if Thanksgiving wasn't enough)? That was a tough one. No matter how I tried I just could not come up with a satisfactory menu...then it hit me...Rather than just thinking about the food....think about the season... So, I've gone with a menu related to a theme...Roughly the polar opposite of Xmas on a calendar would be the 4th of July (Here in the US)...so this year, Xmas day will be populated with: * Beach party favorites, including leis made of garland, palm tree centerpieces, beach balls * The bathtub filled up with some sand, palm trees, and a small water basin, just to get your feet wet * A cooler stocked with beer and mixin's for margaritas * BBQ Ribs * Buttery corn on the cob * Potato Salad * Cole Slaw * Quesadillas * Starwberry Pie with vanilla ice cream Yeah I know. We're crazy. And I know the corn and strawberries will have to be bought frozen, so definitely not the ideal. But after a few margaritas, and some licking the BBQ off of our fingers, the worries of this year will be no more than memories, and we'll have had a brief encounter with our long lost friend, summer (realize I am in Chicago). As the song goes... Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light From now on, our troubles will be out of sight Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Make the Yule-tide gay, From now on, our troubles will be miles away. Peace and Love during this Holiday Season
  8. Something I stumbled across with my 7 year old, is the fact that whenever I make homemade pizza, he and his 13 year old brother end up finishing it off straight from the fridge...no heating; which, hey, cold pizza can be a guy's best friend. Given that I can select the ingredients and toppings, and generally "mix it up" from week to week, I've decided that home made pizza (i.e. high protein, quality flour, quality cheeses and veggies), with the 7 year old's input on toppings will surely be a staple in his lunchbox this year.
  9. oggi

    Rachael Ray

    I like the fact that even though its "30 minute meals", she makes her own salad dressing. She always stresses the fact of quality ingredients, fresh herbs...the only cans or jars of food items I recall her using are things like olives, roasted peppers, capers, tomatoes, and chicken or beef stock/broth. My wife says I just watch her because there is the obligatory "booty shot" near the beginning of every show when she first goes to the fridge. My wife may be correct. $40 a day. No thanks. I agree- she's got to come up with some better expressions and reactions. I'd really like to see her get a BAD meal. Then I'd watch it. She's got a new show coming up I think? Tasty Travels? Oh my. $40 a day, but with a much larger per diem it seems....I think I'll pass. (edited to include the $40/day)
  10. oggi

    Quick Prep Grilling

    grilled skirt steaks? You'll probably want to marinade the steak for about 1/2 hour or so, but that may fit into your time frame...I've made this a couple of times; its a slight rendition of a recipe I found on the web somewhere. A really hot grill (really hot for quick cooking and a good sear) 1 lb. skirt steak cut into 4 pieces Marinade: 2 tsp. sesame oil 2 tsp. finely chopped ginger 1 tbs. red pepper flakes (adjust to suit your taste) 1 tbs. sugar 3 tbs. soy sauce 4 garlic cloves chopped 3 scallions chopped Don't really need salt in this, since the soy covers that... Cook: Grill the steak right over the flame for 2 mins each side for about med. rare. Let it rest when done. When you cut it (as with all flank/skirt steaks) cut it against the grain for maximum tenderness in the mouth. Good with grilled pineapple rings and a nice salad (arugula is what I like with this - with a simple vinaigrette made with rice wine vinegar)
  11. This is fantastic - I've been thinking about making an attempt at this for some time; I think what you have put together here is fantastic. I do have a question though - I have never purchased one of these cakes, or even been at a celebration where this style of cake was presented - So, my question is, what is the appropriate way to cut/serve this?
  12. The only thing missing is the cucumber ← Amen to that....I think I once read the Chicago style dog affectionately referred to as "A hot dog that was dragged through the garden". I had never known how attached I was to the Chicago style dog until I moved and lived in Cincinnati for 4 years. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the Skyline coneys...with the mountain of cheese on top of the chili....yum.... But being a Chicago boy at heart I began making Chicago style for my new Cincy friends...they thought I was crazy. Well, I guess I am actually...but I meant, in relation to how I like to eat a hot dog.
  13. I think that family (as expressed above) is one of those areas where this sort of scenario most often occurs. Particularly in the day-to-day meals of a family at home. In my mind, the best way to approach sharing "new" or "different" foods with someone is very similar to how one begins to introduce a child to the wonderful world of cultural foods, spices, experiences; that is, make it an EXPERIENCE - something fun, something that is interesting, something that addresses all the senses - and approach it from the standpoint of building on what they already like. As simple run down of my nuclear family... My Wife: Grew up in a typical mid-western 1970's household. That meaning, there was alot of canned veggies, ground beef (meatloaf, burgers), ham steaks, etc. When we met, a "Veggie Cheese Melt" at Denny's was haute cuisine. My oldest son (13): Very much a meat and potatoes kid. Hey, he's 13 - if it is fried, and you can get it through a drive through window, it is what he wants. My younger son (7): Still developing - the classics like Chicken noodle soup, hot dogs, pizza are what he prefers. I on the other hand have always been interested in "trying new things" - when I was younger you might have called it "Extreme Eating"...Now that I have a full fledged family and truly enjoy cooking I often need to temper my desire to go full-on with new cuisine with my family's ENJOYMENT of the meal - that's it - their enjoyment of the meal. With my kids...I look at what they like - I KNOW how good 30 minute delivery pizza tastes to a kid...or how good french fries covered in melted velveeta is... But I think ... what *is* it about that stuff that gives the positive impact? Texture? (i.e. the smoothness of the cheese, the crunch of a fry)...Saltiness? (yeah, that's a given)...The experience? (of GOING through the drive through, of having the delivery guy drop it off?) I think all of those and more. As well put in the other threads; its all about the experience. My wife now LOVES tapas - things like jamon y queso, marinated mushrooms and olives, she loves sushi, and she will eat anything I make except for octopus For her, I have realized that while it is important that the food tastes good to her - it is also SO much about the experience...Of knowing that I have our places set, with something I made with my own hands, and selected a bottle of wine, or a tasty beer to go with. I believe THIS opens the mind to try and accept new things (for her) - it tempers the new experience; the fear or hesitation, with the warm "blanket" of a good and enjoyable personal experience. She also knows that if she doesn't like something...I am going to gladly gobble it up, and she can laugh at me and move immediately to a nice dessert I've made I could go on and on about my children as well. I think the point is, that as people who enjoy food - we also enjoy other people enjoying it. We have a natural desire to "want" someone else to like what we like - because *we* derive such pleasure from it we want *them* to as well! How nice of us!! I think that for me, I just need to remember that, really. The pleasure of it. It's not a test or a quiz...its not a speech or dictation...its not a crown I am putting on my head...its good stuff; and we all like good stuff; and we all like good stuff even more when we're having a good time.
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