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Everything posted by Simon_S

  1. Aha!! I'm sorry, liuzhou. Certain corners of the internet mix up Scottish and Irish regularly enough that it makes me tetchy. On the plus side, it was enough to smoke me out for the first time in years, so I must have a good look around now I'm here.
  2. It's a long time since I've been here, but this popped up on my twitter feed so I had to have a look. I'm very much enjoying everything so far, I'd forgotten how much I like these threads, but I feel compelled to point out that Guinness is NOT Scottish, it's Irish. Scotland and Ireland may have lots in common, but we're still quite definitely different nations! That point aside, I absolutely encourage its continued consumption. My avatar has been drinking it for 12 years non-stop at this stage...
  3. Simon_S

    Steven Shaw

    This is shocking news! eGullet, and by extension FG, changed my eating habits and the way I think about food completely, so despite never having met him I owe Steven Shaw much thanks. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.
  4. Goodness me, this is surely the basest of savagery. To take the most elegant and genteel of cuts and to barbarically subject it to KETCHUP? Fair enough, this is the kind of treatment that an agricultural rectangular cut could expect, but the triangular quarter deserves better. This is the cut of upper-crust de-crusted cucumber sandwiches arrayed atop doilies on a silver salver. Ketchup indeed. Of course, it's a well-documented fact that triangular cuts taste better (and lend a certain opulence to the occasion) for many fillings, but the uninitiated might be tempted to overuse them. I can report that it is highly inappropriate to cut a chip sandwich (and by chip I mean French fry) in this manner, as it will inevitably lead to the dreaded "chip in lap" scenario caused by all those acute angles.
  5. Such sad news. Dave was one of those forum characters I almost felt I "knew", such was the personality in his writing. My thoughts go out to all his family and friends.
  6. Hi Dave, I'm enjoying the blog immensely, thank you. When we stayed in France last year (not too far from you) I was especially struck by the quality of the fresh ingredients in the Hyper U, but I found myself wondering whether this will ultimately have the same detrimental effect on smaller local shops and markets as it has had elsewhere. Is there still a strong sense of buying from smaller, specialist shops among the younger generations? Also, I notice you say comfit rather than confit. Are they different things or am I missing something here? I really think I could live happily in rural France!
  7. The Greenhouse is top of the list for me. Inexplicably overlooked by Michelin for a star again this year, but IMO the most exciting cooking in town. I don't get out as much as I used to, but what kind of thing are you looking for?
  8. Simon_S


    Normal aluminium pot, kernels in to cover the bottom (generally Kelkin, as it's ubiquitous here), just enough sunflower oil for the lightest of kernel coating, high heat, off we go. The only thing I do differently is that when the first kernel pops I remove the pot from the heat for exactly one minute. I read this on the back of a packet a long time ago and I've done it ever since without ever really testing it. Back then, I felt it made for fewer unpopped kernels as they all seemed more likely to pop at roughly the same time. It probably does nothing at all but I like the ritual, and occasionally I'll see how much of the right hand of Chopin's Minute Waltz* I can get through before the popcorn needs to go back on the heat. After that, reduce heat, open lid occasionally to allow steam out and serve with salt only. For the most part I like my popcorn unsullied, although I have on occasion tried to mimic the popcorn I had at Graham Elliot (parmesan, truffle oil) with limited success. I'll definitely try the colander trick next time. *I know it should probably take more than a minute to play, but that's the popcorn rule...
  9. Ah. Well we've definitely had non-Maldon, non-table salt in the house, so I'll keep an eye out. Try Fallon and Byrne anyway.
  10. Yep, Maldon is available virtually everywhere in Dublin (most supermarkets would have it, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see it at a petrol station!) and specialist shops may have a few other options. Try Fallon & Byrne, for example: http://www.fallonandbyrne.com/, or if you're near any of the increasingly ubiquitous Avoca shops, you'll get some there.
  11. There was a tea bar I used to frequent here in Dublin that I thought did a very good job. They had a massive (almost bewildering) selection of tea stocked on shelves all around, and each one had its own little sample jar so that you could examine and sniff and touch and feel and compare and contrast before the tea was even brewed. The staff themselves were incredibly knowledgeable and were able to explain differences between first flush and second flush, etc., and really tried to guide you to the right choice. There was a certain reverence to the preparation, and that extended to different pots for different styles of tea and, needless to say, cups that were designed for tea rather than coffee. They sold other tea-related stuff, including tea-flavoured sweets and other tea accompaniments, and they also served a small but very tasteful selection of sandwiches at lunchtime. It was, all told, a brilliant place. Of course, it closed after a few months. The problems? For starters, they were too slow. The reverent approach was great the first few times, or when you were in a position to relax and genuinely enjoy it, but at peak times it all just took too long. Waiting 10 minutes for the tea to arrive at your table just doesn't cut it when you have to get back to the office. Since the place only had 4 or 5 tables (it was tiny) the slow speeds meant that tables didn't turn quickly. If you weren't there at the start of lunch hour, you weren't getting in at all. Perhaps as importantly, they didn't serve anything for the "normal" tea drinker. My typically Irish parents love tea, and they drink gallons of the stuff daily from what I can tell, but whenever I tried to bring them there they correctly assumed that they'd feel uncomfortable. They wanted normal Irish tea, they wanted to put milk and sugar into it, and they didn't want this fancy-pants stuff. As a consequence, despite being big tea drinkers, they never went to this place. I'm 100% sure there are many others like them. Best of luck with the venture.
  12. Perhaps you can't hear the tourists who *do* tip normally, or you never realise they're European? Of course, if you're in that kind of tourist area, all bets are off. Those travelling by the "busload" are probably not the most sophisticated of tourists anywhere you go in the world! In any case, it's pointless my attempting to argue with your experience. As a presumed-undertipping European tourist, I've encountered this "less-than-chuffed" reaction to my arrival at a restaurant. It doesn't always make for a pleasant dining experience, and it really makes it hard for me to understand those who doggedly defend the status quo. I don't think I'll ever agree that discretionary-but-not-really 20% tips are the best way to organise the system, but ultimately it doesn't matter to me. I'll continue to tip properly in the US, irrespective of the quality of service I get, and I'll just try to enjoy the moment of surprise when the server realises I haven't stiffed them.
  13. I've seen this said again and again, and honestly, it doesn't at all tally with my experience of people I know travelling from Ireland at least. Most of them simply don't know that 20% is considered some kind of norm. I certainly didn't until I learned it here, and most people are not on eGullet nor have anything like the interest in restaurants that's the norm for people on eG. There are (of course) plenty of people who know that the norms are different but don't know why (they aren't aware that servers are paid below minimum wage) so they're reluctant to go over whatever they usually tip here. Again, servers earning less than minimum wage is news to most people I tell, because minimum wage "normally" means minimum wage. Finally there are, of course, some people who know everything all too well and just decide to feign ignorance and be assholes about it, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to label most European tourists who undertips in this way. Most of them DON'T know better. Most travellers I know AREN'T poring over guidebooks and learning societal norms before a trip to the US, because US culture is so ubiquitous we think we know it all already.
  14. Speaking purely personally, this approach would absolutely ensure my ire, and may trigger a decision to simply leave. I'm not an idiot, and I'm pretty good at picking up when somebody's bullshitting me, especially if I can then watch them frantically entering the forgotten order in full view. If a server comes over, apologises, admits that the fault is their own, I will appreciate the honesty and will be MUCH happier. People make mistakes, that's fine. People making mistakes and then pretending they didn't drives me bananas.
  15. Simon_S


    The terms are generally used interchangeably here (they would nearly always be called scallions in a supermarket, for example) and I've always considered them one and the same, but some googling suggests you might be correct about the difference: http://archives.record-eagle.com/2007/may/21onions.htm http://www.harvesttotable.com/2008/05/spring_onions_green_onions_and/ I'm out of my depth, apparently, so I'll leave it to those more knowledgeable to respond.
  16. Simon_S


    They are indeed spring onions. Not leeks.
  17. Andrew, I ate at Paul Bocuse 7 or 8 years ago and I'm still puzzled and slightly angry with the whole affair. My experience mimics your own in terms of quality of food, and I also found the organ grinder bit very bizarre. I could also say that we found the service to be very poor, but who knows if that's the norm. I'll certainly never return.
  18. No harm really, it's good to see the judges dealing with "new" chefs.
  19. Totally agreed about the disregard for the brief, although it's hard to imagine how to prepare a dish that will leave the punters rolling in the aisles with the sheer hilarity of it all. I missed the first episode this week, was it explained why Corrigan wasn't judging the NI entries? I've never eaten Tom Aiken's grub, but he seems to be a clear cut above the others.
  20. Well, speaking as one of those Europeans who cause such dismay on their arrival at a US restaurant, I think there are 2 problems: 1) Lots of people simply don't know that the acceptable tipping percentage is different from home. My parents certainly didn't until I told them, and lots of my friends didn't either. If you live in a land where tips exist but 10% is the unquestioned norm, it's easy to see why the news might not break through that a 10% tip in the US is not enough. Not everyone researches such things before they go and it's not always common knowledge, no matter how strange that might seem to the average US waiter. It's simply not true to say that "the time is long gone when we can just chalk it up to ignorance". Most people I know going to the major cities in the US don't really bother with guidebooks, and they're certainly not researching local restaurant habits. Because US culture is so ubiquitous many of us assume we've a pretty firm grasp on it and probably don't need the guidebooks. Also, amazing as it may seem, googling restaurant tipping culture in the US is not top of many travellers' priorities. Again, most people I know who go to the US couldn't give a rat's about food and restaurants, and certainly don't do any research beforehand. Of course ignorance is a factor. Is it the only factor, of course NOT. Some people will indeed decide to screw you over because they can. Some American tourists are assholes, some European tourists are assholes. That's life. Not many tourists of any stripe manage the "when in Rome" suggestion, no matter how much I agree with it. 2) It seems to be basically the case that you have to tip 15% or 20% irrespective of how horrible the service. I personally have a problem with that, and I am confident that most tourists would also have a problem with that. When I quered this on eGullet I was told that the "correct" thing to do is to tip normally but complain to the manager. Culturally, that's a million miles from where I come from, and it makes the tip situation very difficult to understand for outsiders. If I'm not rewarding good service, and if I have no apparent control over an acceptable tip level anyway, then why not just include it in the price and we can all get on with it? On one trip to NY, some British friends tipped 10% (out of ignorance, it was their first meal out in the US) and then had the exits to the restaurant blocked by the waiter so they couldn't leave. If that's the level we're at, let's get over the pretence that it's a tip and start including it on the bill. I'm not looking for an argument, I'm just stating my opinions and anecdotal experiences. I don't for one second believe anything's going to change, but it's not always the case that tourists are out to knowingly screw over the wait staff.
  21. Very relaxed. I wouldn't wear a football jersey and runners, but people there will probably be wearing anything from nice jeans to a suit and tie. Taster menu is essential, BTW.
  22. Closest is probably The Greenhouse (http://www.thegreenhouserestaurant.ie/home.php) and it also happens to be my favourite restaurant in town.
  23. Le Cinq for lunch made for a VERY memorable Sunday last time I was there. The lunch price is available on Sundays, which in my experience is quite rare.
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