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Everything posted by BeefCheeks

  1. Well put. My only beef with that, you should pardon the phrase, is that reviewing then runs the risk of being entirely self-serving, since excellence in cuisine is so subjective.
  2. I agree with you, Zabar, about hands-on kitchen knowledge: it makes for a better-informed reviewer and review (although the number of times that I've let my readership know that what they're eating is really re-purposed FILL IN THE BLANK is equal to the number of pieces of hate mail I've gotten over the years). All of this said, do we think that reviewers should, first and foremost, represent the general consumer?
  3. Reichl spent a long time out in California in the 80s -- the heyday of Spago, L'Orangerie, Stars, etc -- and cut her reviewing teeth in an amazingly creative environment. But again, her lack of hands-on cooking experience has been the cause of consternation among many of the chefs she's reviewed (badly). As for Amanda, well, there's no better way to make yourself instantly "known" than by setting yourself apart (although I couldn't disagree with the subject of one of her first reviews; the last time I was at that establishment--which you list, above-- the place smelled like a urinal, the food was pitiful, and I swore I'd never go back); Ruth did the exact same thing when, right after starting at the Times, she infamously handed out stars to a Chinatown noodle shop. The result of THAT was the possibly apocryphal tale of Bryan Miller (who Reichl had replaced) sending a scathing letter about her to not only Punch Sulzberger....but to the Page 6 editor of the Post. Ms. Reichl, in Miller's opinion, had denegrated fine dining by awarding stars, subjectively, to what he considered a dive. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder. Someone please correct me if I've gotten the above story wrong.
  4. Note: I didn't mean to gloss over Mimi Sheraton or Bryan Miller--both are remarkable writers, particularly the former. Sheraton has also written the sine qua non of German cookbooks, and knows food from all sides of the table.
  5. Speaking strictly as a reviewer with a pro cooking background, I have to say that what Bruni does for a living is not, alas, an easy gig; I do think that most restaurateurs and chefs FEEL better about reviews when the reviewer actually has a hands-on, pro food background (until, that is, they get a negative review). But let's remember: Ruth Reichl didn't (commune cooking in the late 60s doesn't count unless you're Molly Katzen). Craig Claiborne really didn't, until he hooked up with Pierre Franey. This leaves us with Amanda Hesser, who -- if any of you have cooked from any of her books, you will know -- is a stellar recipe writer and a veritable walking encyclopedia of food. Many "food people" loathe her for the most hideous and innane of reasons: she's thin, incredibly successful, and -- in the words of a well-known, attitudinal cookbook author who shall go nameless here -- "leads a charmed life." But if she writes a negative review, she's suddenly Brun Hilda. So, hypothetically-speaking, let's say a former pro chef-turned-reviewer had covered Kobe the same way; what would Chodorow's response have been? Likely, the same. Because regardless of our backgrounds, it all comes down one thing: the way it makes the chef/owner "feel." (I was once physically threatened by a restaurateur who took umbrage at the fact that I mentioned her ex-husband's establishment in the same column. The review was actually excellent but it made the restaurateur feel "badly." Poor her.) The challenge that reviewers have is to paint an accurate portrait of the restaurant and the entire dining experience itself from the point of view of the patron; if Chodorow doesn't want anyone discussing the thousands of swords hanging threateningly over the heads of his patrons, he should go minimalist. If he doesn't want anyone covering the insane hilarity of flights of beef that, for a party of four might nudge the bill into the four-figure neigborhood, he might be a little more prudent while retaining his over-the-top sensibility. This isn't food: it's theatre, so it matters little that Bruni is deemed "not a real food person." Why? Because the Chodorow experience is not a "real food experience." For that, diners need to go to Per Se. Or Le Gigot. Or Momofoku. Or The Waverly Diner. The bane of existence for restaurateurs like Chodorow is the fact is that patrons today are smarter and far better educated about food and the overall dining experience than they used to be; they understand that these 200 - seat megaliths, unless monitored very carefully, can easily become nothing more than glorified airplane hangars more focused on trend than quality of food and/or service. Unfortunately, by the time they hit their stride, the trend is dead and gone. Bruni's take, like it or not, was right on the money. And Chodorow doesn't like it, of course. Then again, Chodorow is a master at PR....and ANY PR is good PR.
  6. Who has read her bio by Joan Reardon-?
  7. BeefCheeks

    Dinner! 2007

    Take it from a professional editor folks.....you photographers ROCK. I used to work for a publisher who was so cheap that they forced the food editors to style and shoot their own photos; they always managed to come out looking like either a car wreck or the aftereffects of salmonella. Publisher is still in business, food looks a little better, but only a little. Seriously people, you're amazing. I'll add my image of drying pappardelle in upcoming post.
  8. Zum-Zum; Jahn's; Chock Full O'Nuts (and their date nut and cream cheese sandwiches)
  9. Please forgive this late arrival....your proposed kitchen is DROOL-WORTHY. And I say that being the owner of a 1970 center-entry ranch who is ripping out her kitchen bit by bit. An excellent visual reference tool, FYI, is the Rejuvenation Lighting catalog and website.
  10. Hi all, I just purchased an iron kadai from Kalustyan's the other day, and I'd like to use it this weekend. Should I be seasoning it the way I'd season French steel or cast iron prior to the first time I cook with it? Many thanks BeefCheeks
  11. Sounds wonderful. She's a lucky mom---Enjoy!
  12. I never met Bux, but I had the pleasure of working side by side with his daughter for a year--Everything I heard about him -- his love for his family, the joy he took in the culinary world and in the mentoring of others -- jumps to life in these posts. My sincerest condolences to the entire Buxbaum and Allanic family. God bless.
  13. For light cleanings and regular upkeep, I've found Simple Green -- undiluted and sprayed directly on the surface of the cooled stove -- to be without peer. If you can pop out each section that surrounds the burners, do so, put them in your sink, and spray on SG; let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, and then wipe it down first with a clean paper towel followed by cool water. Amazing.
  14. Let's forget about hair-of-the-dog for a minute. What do you eat when you're worse for wear? Bacon, egg, and cheese on a hard roll? English fry? Salt bagel? Croque Madame? Onion soup? Congee? Ramen and egg? Frito pie? Wherever you're from, Beefcheeks would like to know what your home region's favored curative is, if it has any history attached to it, and why, exactly, you think it makes you feel better. Thanks, and cheers.
  15. Even after pro training, I'm still a bread moron (although the best results I've ever had came via this recipe). But, can anyone link me back to a discussion of making a whole wheat/grain version of this bread? Any suggestions on how to tweak the original recipe to make this successful with whole grains and not have it come out as heavy as an anvil? Thanks much!
  16. This is reaching way WAY back, but I collect Baedakers Red Guides---they're informative, often hilarious, and sometimes poignant (the 1938 Guide to Germany, for example). The London guides do contain quite a bit of information on food (ie, Rules, Savoy, etc), etc.
  17. Now THAT is brilliant. I'm off to the hardware store right now.
  18. How much heat can a romertopf stand? Thanks-
  19. I mean the black knob---the pot itself is fairly old, probably close to 20 years old. Melissa, is yours more recent? Welding gloves, huh. They didn't teach us that at ICE, but hell, I'll try anything. THanks!!
  20. I'm having a hell of a time braising (lid on, of course) in my Creusets; even after preheating the oven, I get a really bad chemical odor emanating from the stove, and we've deduced that it's the black handle on the pot. (Temp usually around 350 or so) Has anyone else had this experience? I want to give Bittman's bread recipe a try this weekend, and we can comfortably get the stove up to 500 without going to broil....but I'm a bit worried. Any suggestions (other than using all cast iron or Staub)? Thanks everyone.
  21. Truffled potatoes (if you really like your guests)....?
  22. This is actually what BIG FOOD is all about----
  23. One suggestion---great book on the market called Big Food, which offers excellent recipes for those who shop in bulk (everywhere from Costco to farmer's markets). Lots of info on storing, freezing, re-purposing.
  24. What stellar writing; how terrifying, sad, and ultimately delicious it is to carry one's beloved family recipes on such a harrowing journey---Whether we are Vietnamese and escaping the fall of Saigon in 1975; Jews escaping from Poland in 1939; Lebanese escaping the airstrikes in 2006; the stories are the same. These gastro-cultural ties bind us together, no matter who we are or where we come from. Thank you, thank you Andrea. Your recipes and your stories are magnificent.
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