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Marc Olson

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Everything posted by Marc Olson

  1. Mistral creates a great tasting menu. After several run-ins with Scott, I can't recommend Lampreia. The Herbfarm is a different experience, but it's 'communal dining' done on a scale not seen in many restaurants (disclaimer: I am an investor). Lark is fabulous if you like the small plates meme. The Harvest Vine is also great, and does the 'plates' in the Spanish style, which some would say is where it all began.
  2. The Herbfarm in Woodinville, WA does this.
  3. I celebrate our 11-year old twin boys cooking their own breakfast and eating off the menu in restaurants. They love to go out to eat, and have even made it through the Herbfarm marathon. Interesting article in the NYT about kids and restaurants: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/dining/3...f872362&ei=5070
  4. The options in Mallvue are somewhat limited. Try Daniel's Broiler or Ruth's Chris for a straight-ahead steakhouse/bar experience.
  5. Buying and tasting based on ratings has become an increasing trend. I used to belong to several tasting groups where the focus was more on what someone else said about the wine and how great it is/was than the experience we were having with that wine in the glass. Like food, everyone has a different palate. When people ask how to learn about wine I encourage them to try lots of regions/styles/producers to see what speaks to them. Unfortunately the rating system has made people afraid to have their own opinion about what they like.
  6. I ordered sushi grade scallops from Catalina Offshore Products in California last week. They were amazing, I would order again in a heartbeat. http://www.catalinaop.com/Scallops_Hotategai_s/61.htm
  7. Marc Olson


    No source for Conch, how about abalone? http://www.catalinaop.com/Abalone_s/42.htm
  8. I used to upend the whole onion and pre-dice by cutting off the root end but leaving the stem end intact; do the vertical and horizontal by cutting from the root towards the stem and then rotating, and then 'slice' off the dice. Now I halve, take out the root and then slice 'radially' ala Shalmanese and then cut. Once sauteed you can't tell, goes way faster.
  9. I'm of the school that believes: 1) breakfast is important 2) protein is important 3) leftovers rock. Our kids (twin boys, age 11) haven't experienced 'packaged cereal'. If we aren't up to make breakfast, they make their own, ranging from eggs over easy to turkey scrambles. When I bring home Chinese take-out, it's the next morning's favorite breakfast. I just don't get high carb breakfasts.
  10. Sounds like a fun test. In one of my regular tasting groups we've done this by purposely putting the same wine in the lineup from two different people. Sometimes the same wint from two bottles will show differently, but this idea should eliminate that.
  11. This is why it's often best to taste a wine blind--know what it is (and what you 'should' expect) can result in conformity. Assigning ratings to wines (in a tasting group situation) has always seemed to be to be somewhat of a folly. IF you can taste thousands of wines a year MAYBE you can come up with a scale. For most people I think it's way more important to develop a sense of preference (just like with food), the ability to say 'I don't like this' without being intimidated, and the freedom to explore. As you learn about grapes and regional style, then it's interesting (for some) to 'test' that knowlege by trying to discern (from what you know) the basic framework for a wine you've never tried before.
  12. Skin the duck breast and cook the skin (cure it a bit in salt and then render the fat). The two parts can be reunited on the plate--crispy skin and tender duck.
  13. The best champagne is a fine wine with bubbles. Having a glass that will allow the aroma to develop and be retained can make a big difference. Our favorite champagne glass is the Riedel Sommelier Vintage Champagne, similar to #2 above but slightly narrower in the body:
  14. Like slkinsey, my uses of the tools are more mundane than gourmet. I have a minipak torre sealer and a couple of water bath options. On a regular basis I cook lunchmeat for the kids (either Tri-tip roasts or chicken breasts seasoned). I do a batch, cool them in a water bath and then freeze them. We also use this for ski lunches that we bring to the slopes. Hard to go back to deli counter lunchmeat after this. My favorite use for cooking of this technique is for duck confit, where I first brine the legs in a bag, then rinse and re-package (four to a bag) with a dollop of duck fat from the fridge. I cook for 12-24 hours at 180F and then chill and refrigerate. No muss/fuss with the leftover oil, bags are portioned for reheating and crisping, etc.
  15. As a side effect of making Gumbo last weekend I remembered that cooking a roux had a very positive effect on the seasoning of my primary cast iron skillet. This time I did 1/3 duck fat and 2/3 safflower oil, heated the oil until shimmering and then added the flour (carefully) to avoid the boilover as the moisture in the flour cooked off. By the time the roux was done the pan had absorbed more oil than during a normal seasoning. This pan gets used regularly and is seasoned similar to Octaveman's suggestion after use.
  16. I purchased my vacuum sealer and continue to buy bags from here: http://www.dougcare.com/. They sell in bulk and the prices are reasonable.
  17. I brine them and then cook them slowly (250 F) over a charcoal fire in my Big Green Egg. Very moist smoked salmon!
  18. We have three pairs: Cutco (purchased 16 years ago after my college-buddy cut a penny with his demo pair...), a Henkels and a Wustoff. The Cutco don't see the light of day much. I usually reach for the Henkels when I'm doing food shearing; rarely larger than a quail though. The Cutco do easily come apart but I find that the size of the blake on the Henkels makes them perfect for the small shear jobs we do.
  19. With the new menu format at Mistral, you could argue that it's the same as an omakase format--what's the chef's interpretation of today's best menu given market and season. But, at Mistral, that's what everyone gets. But, it's great. Scott at Lampreia is also worth a visit, at least once. If you can navigate Scott, then you may find the menu inspired. Or, you may find it to just be a PITA.
  20. Vionier in the Northern Rhone ranges from Condrieu (several styles, including a dessert from Guigal called La Dorianne). My favorite viongnier is from Chateau Grillet: http://www.terroir-france.com/region/rhone_grillet.htm
  21. A couple of years ago I asked my team what *they* wanted to do as a team-building event. They did a bunch of research and we ended up at Kaspar's on Queen Anne in Seattle doing a four course lunch. It was chaos in the kitchen, but we had fun. Best part was just socializing...like anyone does when they cook together. Were we more effective as a team? Dunno.
  22. I cook chicken breasts (boneless) sous vide at 140 F for 12 hours. The kids love the result as lunch meat. Tender and juicy, completely cooked. And well within the FDA guidelines.,
  23. It's been nearly a year since the last posting, Elemental lives on. Same phormat, same Phred, and I guess Laurie behind the counter. We were invited to dinner with some friends who we enjoy cooking for (or would that be kooking); their apprehension at introducing us to the experience was evident during the walk from their house, but we'd been prepped and were excited to just have the experience. The placard at the door (and the lack of a sign) remains telling: "There are 1500 Normal restaurants in Seattle. This is not one of them." We arrived early on a Thursday night and there were only two other tables seated, so we had our pick of the four-tops. I'm accustomed to bringing wine from my cellar to dinner, so to arrive without a 'wine plan' was to be part of the 'relax, enjoy' mantra. Cocktails were on offer, after a glass of mulled wine of some sort. The rest of the wine program was equally enjoyable, and well chosen, but I gave up both guessing and trying to remember what the specifics were, because none were familiar. The food was quite enjoyable, and the format of ordering and the presentation was as well. The 'menu' being a stainless plate with menu items written with a Sharpie, MiniMag flashlight included for viewing, three columns with a notation where appropriate about 'no meat'. We chose the tasting menu of three courses, and opted to 'share' each of the courses by couple, leading to essentially a six course meal, each with its own wine(s), follwed by cheese and dessert. We quickly surrendered to Phred's MO, focusing instead on our conversation, the plates in front of us, and speculations on the wines (only some of which we shared with Phred). Was the food inspired? Occasionally. My croque monseiur was delightfully deconstructed--circle of toasted bread, a cylinder of something wrapped in proscuitto with a cheesey bechamel topping it off. The lamb was mediocre at best, but the pork loin with mustard sauce and brussel sprouts was divine. All of this from a barely visible kitchen (I counted three portable gas rings on the counter, no range or oven in sight). Apparently they shop at Whole Foods daily because they don't have the storage or duration to their menu to warrant an extensive cold storage. So, we had a fun evening, good food, interesting wine, and a host 'with an attitude', but it never crossed the line to rudeness. I'm sure we'll go back.
  24. Marc Olson

    About roux

    The first gumbo I made I was so paranoid about burning the roux that it took more than an hour to get it properly dark. Now I use the 'flash roux' method of heating the oil on high until is shimmers, nearly smoking, and then adding the flour all at once and stirring like crazy. If you stay on it, you get a nice dark roux in 10 minutes.
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