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Everything posted by Stu-i-moto

  1. I will make it to Mecca, a.k.a. TFL, this September - for the first time. I have been trying to get a table at TFL for so many years, I finally just gave up and bought the two cookbooks and started making this stuff at home. Reading a TK cookbook is like reading Einstein's personal diaries. It is incredible how he gets your head into the food the way he looks at it. And without a kitchen staff, these dishes, although not terribly exotic from an ingredient standpoint, are a labor of love for the lone home chef. Thanks for the advice about asking for a tour of the kitchen. I did this once when I ate at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and Hubert Keller (no relation to the uninformed) personally took me and my wife around. I think my wife would have dumped me for him - she was like a high school cheerleader gazing into the eyes of the star quaterback. Good thing I was able to peel her starry eyes away from him. I can't wait for this. But I have just one question: for those of you who have eaten at TFL, where have you gone from there? What's next? Anything? Back to Mickey D's?
  2. I really like Mayflower too. The only thing is they are too crowded. Seating arrangement wise. I meant, really elbow-to-elbow crowded during meal hours, compared to other dim sum restaurants in the city because their restaurant is so small. I also like Parc Hong Kong nearby. And Hong Kong Restaurant on Noriega near 33rd in the Sunset district. ← try Lychee Garden on Powell (near Broadway). it's on the edge of chinatown and north beach. Great dim sum there - no tourists. note: no one there really speaks english, so just point and nod...
  3. My new favorite spot is Just for You Cafe in the dogpatch. Since I don't eat eggs (especially bad ones), I love the fact that they serve pork chops (thin and tasty) and - GRITS! Now, who has the guts to serve grits in this town? That shows some individuality - and I like it. I have had mixed results with their beignets. At times, they are fluffy and hot and great with some honey drizzled over. Other times, they are greasy and dense, and put me into a food coma (a definite no-no for breakfast - after all, you have the whole day ahead, no?) What I don't like is that it's cash-only. But there's an ATM in the convenience store next door. Good enough for me in a pinch.
  4. Lychee Garden is very authentic - and inexpensive Koi Palace is good, but bring your patience as well as your pocketbook - it'll take forever - and it's not cheap - but the food is good. Yank Sing - good if you want Americanized dim sum - good but not as authentic as other options out there.
  5. Good to know - thanks, ghost. I am a transplanted New Yawka too - and always spanning the globe looking for the perfect slice...
  6. Stu-i-moto


    Has anyone tried to make a turducken by: - brining it - smoking it, then - - frying it?
  7. Hanger or flatiron - only from grass-fed, sustainably-raised, no hormone or antibiotic beef. Other than that, I am a huge fan of rabbit, as well as duck -
  8. It's OK - if you like feedlot beef, pumped full of more hormones and drugs than an MLB star. To top off your meal, you'll catch a nice whiff of the feedlot next door... ...on top of all that, their beef is nothing special. I tried it a number of years ago - before I knew about such things as sustainable farming and such. Bring a sandwich on your trip - and don't go out of your way for this "deal" - life's too short. My $0.02
  9. I agree with that assessment - Where's that? I'm always on the lookout for an honest bird...
  10. OK, Eje - I finally went. Here's my honest opinion. Note: the restaurant has only been open 4 weeks, so it is still in it's initial "burn in" period. Read: ruogh around the edges, even though it is packed to the gills. That said, the service was very marginal, but they tried hard and maintained a good attitude which made up for a lot. They even brought us a couple of comp apps to smooth things out, which I consider a great gesture in any establishment. The place was packed; we had to wait what seemed like an hour for a table. Eventually, we figured out we could just order apps at the bar and we were about to order our entrees at the bar when the table came available. We had the fried chicken, the black eyed peas with collards, the grits and the cole slaw. The grits were the best of the three; the black eyed peas were quite good but needed more salt. The cole slaw was OK. The chicken, their signature dish I suppose, was not authentically southern, but it wasn't bad. I have to say, however, that the crust (corn meal crusted - cheap way to get crispiness) was overdone/burnt, and the white meat was very dry. Good thing I don't like white meat. Plus, this chicken was deep fried, not pan fried. For my money, the chicken at Hard Knox Cafe is much better (and pan fried - the real southern way). I liked the chicken but I didn't love it. I'd give the food a 6.5 out of 10 and the service a 5 out of 10. Eje, let me know if you want to go to Hard Knoz for some better chix.
  11. Hmmm... I feel a bit on the spot! ← Didn't mean to put you on the spot, Eje. I really want this place to be good because it's right around the corner from my house. I'm just being cynical about it- Lutefisk, eh? Can you share a recipe for that? I'll let you know how I find the fried chicken over there - thanks for the heads up!
  12. Eje - tell me more about your background. I want to know where your adjective "stellar" emanates from. I don't want to get too excited and run over there to try the food - I can't tell you how many "southern" food places I've tried all across this great country that have only led to disappointment. It's not just a San Fran phenomenon. So far, the only stellar southern food I've had has been at my grandmother's house in Queens and at church potlucks in Brooklyn (that my grandmother dragged me to when I was a kid).
  13. Ever read an in-flight magazine lately? See those "best steak houses in..." or "top gourmet cuisine" such and such? Now, you can just pay to be on a list, and they'll put you there. What is this world coming to??
  14. I can't help but wonder "why does this matter?" If you were to ask someone who the best impressionist painter was, and they had seen impressionist paintings before, I'm sure they would have an opinion. Whether you agree with it or not is an entirely different topic. What constitutes a "proper evaluation" to you? Maybe a proxy for how you would evaluate? Can you ever really rely on that with a subject as broad, diverse and complex as food preference? Everyone's proper evaluation will vary anyway- I used to live in Boise, Idaho - a place where locals would swear the best seafood could be had at Red Lobster and the best Italian was at the Olive Garden. So I've seen this issue up-front (painfully). In those cases, I just chuckled to myself and reminded myself never to ask a local for a restaurant recommendation unless I had "pre-qualified" their opinion, meaning they were more aware of the world of cuisine - at least as aware as I believe I am. People know what they like, and they'll reflect that back if asked - and maybe even if they're not asked. That's just the way we humans tend to be -
  15. Bocadillos definitely. But there are quite a few places that have "small plates" - that seems to be the style in San Fran.
  16. Ahhh - the Tulikivi. These are indeed beautiful pieces of craftsmanship. A good friend has one in his house near Lake Tahoe (sans pizza oven); I looked into getting one installed in my house in San Francisco when I was going through a mojor renovation/rebuild and could pretty much do anything I wanted. I really wanted this oven - they are highly efficient - I've experienced this personally. I talked to the distributor/installer (one and the same out here). In the end, I didn't do it, for the following reasons: 1 - There is a lot of prep that needs to be done to the site in order to accomodate this stove. You wouldn't believe how heavy it is - so it either needs to be on concrete slab or it needs to have reinforced flooring beneath; 2 - In the words of the distributor, "You would heat yourself out of your house." Unfortunately (or fortunately), San Francisco doesn't have the kind of blistering cold that would make a soapstone oven useful. Just using it to make awesome pizzas was not enough to justify. Hope that helps -
  17. Let me expand on this point: The law, which is governed by the FDA, relates to *any* cheese (foreign or domestic) that is made with raw milk and aged less than 60 days. AOC Brie de Meaux, for example, is a raw milk cheese that is aged for 45 days. Most goat's milk cheese is aged a very short period of time, typically from as little as 7 days to 45 days. Before 9/11, cheese came into the U.S. and customs either looked the other way, or they were told the cheese was made with pasteurized milk when it wasn't. After the Bioterrorism Act came into play, however, the process for bringing anything with organic material/contents into the U.S. changed. Now, you have to get pre-authorization from the FDA and U.S. Customs. In order to get this, you have to detail what your product is (in this case, cheese), where it came from, how it's made and where the ingredients came from. This process change is what effectively shut the door on the importation of most fresh raw-milk cheeses from France and everywhere else. The cheeses that are "close" to 60 days, like Brie, can be aged another 15 days and then sent over. So you can still get AOC Brie, if you look real hard. Other cheeses just don't have their special flair if they hold them over too long. Think of a banana that's overripe and you'll have a sense for what I mean. This is not a health issue, it is a money issue. The stated reason has been that there are food-borne illnesses associated with raw milk products, most notably, listeriosis. You can get listeriosis from a piece of cheese made with pasteurized milk, by the way. It just depends on when the infection/bacteria reached the cheese - pre-pasteurization or post. Europeans are not dropping dead from eating cheese. What makes me laugh even more is how pregnant women here avoid raw milk cheese like the plague because they think they (or their unborn baby) will drop dead from it. Meanwhile, you can go to a Bennigan's in Pittsburgh and get some scallions on your nachos that are infected with Hepatitis. The whole premise is laughable. It is much more difficult and expensive to make cheese with raw milk. In France, you have to test every batch of milk for pathogens before it goes into production. That means you have to dump batches of milk if they don't pass. If you produce cheese using pasteurized milk, you can use 100% of what you take in. This also means you can take in a lower quality product - it all gets smoothed out in the end. Unfortunately, the flavor goes away as well. Try boiling a bottle of your favorite wine before you drink it. You'll see what I mean. You can tell this is a soapbox issue for me...
  18. That's why you would need to look for (or ask for) "AOC" on the label. There is only one AOC-approved brie, which is Brie de Meaux. It is *night-and-day* different (and better) than other varieties you can find in the U.S. There are also cousins of brie that are quite good, all made with raw cow's milk. They go by different names- Unfortunately, the farmers who produce the "real" brie have not done a good job of protecting the brie brand. Maybe this responsibility should also fall on the shoulders of the French government. As a result, "brie" is made in 100 different countries, including Russia and Mexico. Now, due to the U.S. Bioterrorism Act (passed after 9-11), French producers are sending a pasteurized version of Brie de Meaux over to the U.S. Be careful - and ask - your local cheese merchant if the cheese is "AOC Brie de Meaux" or not. Or ask to see the box it came in or the label (depending on the cheese). The right one will have AOC on it and it will also have on the ingredients list "au lait cru" - made with raw milk. I have even caught Whole Paycheck (a.k.a. Whole Foods) selling the "close imitiator" here in San Francisco. It's misleading to customers - but most don't know any better. So now you know...
  19. St. Nectaire is indeed a "classic". There are 40 AOC-approved cheeses in France. AOC represents the name-controlled cheeses, where minute aspects of the production, packaging, etc. are specifically outlines to protect the artisanal methods. The Auvergne has five of these, more than any other region in France. The five are:- Cantal, St.Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert and Salers. Auvergne isn't exactly a tourist destination in France; it has traditionally not been the easiest place to get to. But because of it's rich, volcanic soil, it is a heartland in France, and a great place for producing cheese.
  20. It's very typical to use butter on a sandwich in Europe (vs. mayo, mustard, ketchup). I much prefer it myself as well - It is also common to eat very salty cheeses, like Roquefort, with butter. The butterfat cuts the saltiness of the cheese.
  21. The soft cheeses also lend themselves well to toppings and accompaniments. So what do you top yours with (depending on the variety, of course)? ← In the Pyrennies region of France/Spain, they produce mostly sheep's milk cheese. There is a tradition there of spreading some black cherry jam on toast with a slice of good sheep's milk cheese. It's addictive. I don't think you need to be concerned about what you eat your cheese with, as long as: a) YOU like it, b) it goes with your wine, of course...
  22. FYI - Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards (in the hills above Cupertino) won a James Beard award this year for outstanding wine and spirits professional. You could give that a try as well - they are well-known for having particpated in the 30th anniversary of the "Judgment of Paris." See below for a synopsis - 1976 Paris Tasting Rematch May 24, 2006 On the 30th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris tasting, the original wines were tasted blind by expert panels simultaneously in Napa and London. The 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon earned the top rating by both panels. "Judges on both continents gave top honours to a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello cabernet...." The Times Online "The Ridge Monte Bello was my top wine ­ warm and spicy with no sign of age, as fragrant as a fine Bordeaux, elegant and beautifully balanced." The Independent "A 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet from Napa received the highest praise." BBC News "When the results were combined, the 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains finished first,..." San Francisco Chronicle "Judging panels on both sides of the Atlantic declared the 1971 Ridge Monte Bello, a wine from the hills above Cupertino, the best wine in the tasting." Mercury News (free registration required)
  23. i agree - SR is like a high-end Disney village. Great if you're looking for a manufactured experience; if you want quaint, stick with P.A. if you're driving, right off 280 (from P.A., go east/left when you reach the Wolfe Rd exit - about 12 miles), about 1/2 mile on your left (@ pruneridge) will be a shopping center that has mostly chinese and vietnamese shops & restaurants. some very good dim sum can be had at the main restaurant in the center of the 'center' - i forget the name. telltale sign that it's good - a lot of chinese people are actually eating there, and my chinese friends from hong kong like it. also, in mountain view (el camino real) is Amber India - good lunch buffet.
  24. try the garden court hotel - it's right in dowtown palo alto, on cowper (1/2 block off university ave).
  25. I have a charcoal weber kettle with LP starter, which has served me just fine for many years. I have successfully made "slow & low" BBQ ribs, brisket and pork shoulder on it. The good thing is that you can cook with less fuel, but you are going to be limited to less than half the surface area (because your fire will be on the other side). If it's weber, you should also add a drip pan filled with water so your meat doesn't dry out - I also have a BBQ pit with an offset firebox. This is the "official" competition-style BBQ. Be aware that these are designed specifically for slow & low cooking, so you will have a tough time getting the temp up very high (beyond 350 degrees - you BBQ at 225-250 degrees). You will also use a lot more fuel than a weber. but the results will be more reliably good. weber's "The Art of the Grill" is the only BBQ-specific cookbook I use. it's great - and every recipe has a picture, which I like.
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