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Posts posted by ermintrude

  1. Interesting to note that people are now adding Gin to Pimms, many years ago it used to be 40% alcohol then they drooped it to it's current level (I believe because of the UK tax laws), to get an old style Pimms you need to add a slug of Gin or Vodka.

  2. I only have the English books - the books pictures are food porn but some interesting text, the recipes are on the CD's these I find difficult to navigate esp the earlier editions but the books and CDs get better in the later years.

    They are beautiful books so I've decided to collect them, but 2003/2004 was the best book/CD combination so far. But I would say more a source of ideas and inspiration than a cook book.

  3. The constructive points are well taken.  I guess what I was getting at was:

    1.  What are the core skills to develop to become a good home cook? 

    A. Learning the nomenclature

    B. Understanding and becoming comfortable with equipment

    C. Identifying problems with their causes and solutions

    D. Practice Practice Practice

    SB (and then .... Practice some more! :wink: )

    I think you should add E. Timing.

    E.g. No point having the chicken ready and the potatoes aren't boiled. without timing everything can get messed up.

  4. Chocolate Pithivier - The recipie is in one of Simon Hopkinson's books not sure which one. Still on the menu at Bibendum and if you like chocolate.......it's amazing\(But I can't eat a whole one - some chocoholics can).

  5. Normally you never tip at a bar, or just leave the spare change (but say keep the change) don't leave it on the bar. If you are being served then usual tipping rules apply (but check your bill or ask as they may have added service 12.5% average) and if you tip you may end up paying double. Look for this in restaurants as well as often even though they have added 12.5% they will leave the tip space blank on the credit slip and many people end up paying twice. Not all do this so it is important to know when you get the bill if service is included (add an extra 5 - 10% is it was very good), if it was totally rubbish you can take it off the bill (but expect a fight unless you can justify it).

    If you think you are getting good service or wish to tip then you can leave one (but unless in a high end bar that is odd) but normally say 'have one for yourself' and the bar person will generally take something appropriate to what you have been drinking (lager, martini, crystal....) or a standard E.g. "gin and tonic" BUT they will not take the drink but take the price of it and put it in the tip jar.

    Many bars forbid drinking alcohol on duty so that's the way it works. However if you are chatting up a barmaid/man and they accept a 'drink' and time the drink (even if a soft) so it looks like you bought it and continue to chat to you, they could be interested........ <grin>

    All that said, In general bar staff are on low wages in the UK compared to the USA and we should reward good service. "Buying a drink for the bar person" would go a good way to sort this and we should (in the UK) do it more as at present you have no incentive to give good service, but do not want to see it go to the extent of the USA.

    (From an ex London barman from a late night club)

  6. I understand that Nougatine is used to try new dishes before they move into the main dining room if successful

    Ok I may be wrong about try new dishes. But when I made the reservation I was asked did I want the fine or casual dining room - our schedule and other commitments - meant I had to accept the 'casual' option. I was expecting similar food but less high end ingredients. No mention was ever made of Nougatine.

    But when there it seems some of the dishes on offer were similar (from what I read on here - E.g. Foie Gras Brule) to what was served in the main dining room. So it may be true and would seem to be a good idea - perhaps we just got the bad ideas and with service dedicated to the main room that's why we had a cold dish.

    To be honest, I don't remember where I heard that Nougatine was a testing ground it could have been from a friend in the UK or on t'internet somewhere but I was very disappointed and it was my 'worst' (in quotes as the meal was ok but nothing to write home about) for one of my USA destination restaurants.

    I still want to eat at Jean George (Fine dining restaurant) from comments here, so may try again next time I visit NYC but perhaps their reservation desk should call it Nougatine and not the casual dining room.

    At least a lesson for anyone else booking at JG.

  7. Depends what you mean buy a custom cake.......

    If I called a restaurant and said could you do a birthday cake with only 48 hours notice I'd expect it to be possible (basic sponge with some fruit/cream/chocolate and made to look great) , but if they told me I should have given 7 days notice I would not be offended ).

    If I wanted a fruit cake (or even sponge) with the works then I would aim to give at least a months notice but would chance it at 14 days before as I know the work involved.

    FYI My mum used to make cakes as a hobby (sugar flowers, Concord etc) she stopped doing it, although only for friendst hey could not appreciate how much (Ingredient wise) a cake like that cost, silly time scales - but it was for a 'friend' and the stress (what if they don't like it). If doing it as a business while you can do things quicker and in bulk and have things in stock the one thing really costs is time and resources.

  8. Four of us had a great meal there on the 11th of May, service was excellent and asked the them to choose the wines for us. Service was exemplary and although I did say match the cost of wine to the food it came in about 1/2 the price and was perfectly matched to the food.

    Staff were friendly, never intrusive but always their when you needed them.

    The food excellent and everything I'd anticipated.

    That said my best dining experience in the USA was Moto in Chicago but they are almost impossible to compare Moto would be:- enthusiasm, creativity, fun and the French Laundry would be classic, refined, elegant

    Next time I'm in SF if I can score a reservation I'll be back.

  9. You will always forget what you came into the fridge for once you get there.

    (I call this, "walk-in memory loss syndrome.")

    Douglas Adams came up with a good name for this in his book "The Meaning of Liff"

    so sample definitions (all based on english place name

    WOKING (participial vb.)

    Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for.

    WEMBLEY (n.)

    The hideous moment of confirmation that the disaster presaged in the ely (q.v.) has actually struck.

    ELY (n.)

    The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.

    GODALMING (n.)

    Wonderful rush of relief on discovering that the ely (q.v.) and the wembley (q.v.) were in fact false alarms.

    You can find more here http://folk.uio.no/alied/TMoL.html

  10. We ate at Moto on the 10th of May and this was the best meal of our trip to the USA but under unusual circumstances.

    While in New York I was called by Moto to ask if we could change our reservation as there had been a mistake with the booking (I had booked up 2 months before), I explained because of flights, meeting an old friend for dinner this would not be possible so they said no problem.

    When we arrived the restaurant at 8pm and it was VERY lively but we got shown to the private dining room downstairs and offered cocktails while we waited for my friend to arrive – I was a bit concerned as it looked like the 3 of us would be dining in the room alone and it could have been a bit sterile – how wrong I was.

    My friend arrived and we went for the GTM and tasting menus (unfortunately the battery on my camera died but my friend brought hers so photo’s to follow) and thought the food was amazing and our server was attentive, friendly and chatty. And we discovered that a conference had booked the restaurant upstairs so that was why we were in the private dining room.

    Around 9:30pm on going outside for a cigarette the people upstairs had left and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves and that’s when the chefs started to bring out and present the dishes with explanations, also as we were alone we could talk about things that would be inappropriate in a normal restaurant with other tables next to us.

    In retrospect I wish I’d taken more time to talk with the chefs/servers for foodie reasons but the combination of inventive, tasty and humorous food, sublime service, meeting a friend I’d not seen for years combined to make this the best dining experience I’ve ever had.

    Many thanks to all the staff at Moto for doing this for us, it was much appreciated.

  11. Just arrived in NYC on the 4th and was recommended Landmarc by someone we were talking to in a bar, since travel can be unpredicable we had no reservations for this night so thought give it a go. In the same center as Per Sea (didn't eat there as had reservations for the French laundry)

    Was surprised to see "bone marrow" on the menu so I went for that, the rest of the menu was standard fare but very well cooked and we all enjoyed the meal. The surprise was the cost of the wines, extremely reasonable so we went for the châteauneuf du pape, clos des papes, paul avril 2004 at only $72

    A great recommendation from a local New Yorker for a casual meal.

  12. Ate at WD-50 on the 7th May and had a very enjoyable meal, we went for the tasting menu and the wine pairing.

    Service was good and we ended up talking to the couple on the table next to us who were there to celebrate her birthday. As the guy had not told WD-50 I asked them to send over something for her birthday and they sent out an extra course for her.

    This was the best meal we had in NYC

  13. I ate at Nougatine on the 5th May as I could not get a reservation for the Main Dining room and was unimpressed with the food. The only course that was admired was the Foie Gras Brule and one course arrived arrived tepid and had to be sent back. The rest of the food, while nothing wrong with it never impressed or was a verging on bland so we skipped desert.

    Perhaps we were just unlucky as I understand that Nougatine is used to try new dishes before they move into the main dining room is successful.

    The service however was very good and the cold dish issue was dealt with very professionally.

    Compared to the other meals we had in the USA at higher end restaurants this was at the least rated.

  14. If you've access to a thermomix, put the Parmesan in and make a note of the weight, blitz into powder and double the weight of water cook on 80 for 30 mins drain through a sieve to get the broth.

    IMPORTANT: Clean the thermomix & sieve immediately as if the gloopy solids remaining set then it's a nightmare to clean - done it once never again,

  15. We had a bit of a problem with the mango foam (post-photo); things got messy. It happens.

    Reminds me of my own foam incident - I always test foam into a bowl at first as if the ISI decides to go into spay mode it's easier to contain and I still have foam can use. If things work right then much easier to spray into the serving dish but that first go is a bit of a worry.

    I appreciate that you can get this sorted but as I don't do foams that often I'll go for safe (or less messy).

  16. Try here http://www.catalogobuffet.com then select products.

    Just got some Texturas Malto, I was expecting the standard Texturas tub but it's more like a small bucket. So now I have to find a suitable cupboard as it's to big for the rest.

    The powder is very fine and light, initial experiment with an inexpensive Olive oil is yes it turned it to powder but go by weight not volume for the 2:1 (Maltodextrin:Oil). What was the effect interesting 1 for a brand virgin olive oild it brought out the taste of the oil.

    The crumbs can also be heated/toasted in a frying pan and stay as a powder/crumbs with the standard olive oil toasting them lost most of the oil flavor and was swamped by the caramelization.

    Along with the Gluco and popping candy it's playtime over the Easter weekend.

    As for ordering from http://www.catalogobuffet.com the service was very quick but they sent packets of silica ge in place of 1Kg of Isomalt (as shown on the invoice) Have contacted them to let them know and will post how the result. However this may not be a bad thing as the silica gell popped into the tubs of the various texturas and other chems may be perfect for keeping them at thier best. As a home cook I hope these tubs will last for years.

  17. From my m experience Zanussi never caused me a problem and only left behind when I moved.

    In the new place I went for top of the range AEG and it's been nothing but trouble (the same goes for the washer/dryer) it seems, from my experience and others tales when AEG involves anything plumbed in has problems.

    AEG - jam detector keeps failing, dishes/pans come out unclean (and we're not talking baked on stuff - or at least it wasn't till it went through the drying cycle). When it does work it's great quiet, red dot on the floor to show operation, easy to load with multiple options just not reliable.

    However for things not plumbed in the AEG induction Hob, Steam/Conventional Oven, Microwave and Espresso Machine are brilliant.

  18. I prefer the system that many restaurants in the UK use, where 12.5% is added to the bill as service charge. Where this is not done the bill is generally clear marked service not included.

    The advantage is this if the service is really good you can leave some more, if it's really bad you don't have to pay it and can deduct some or all of the 12.5%. In generally this barely ever happens (although I did do it once, under some appalling circumstances).

    The advantage is even the cheapskates pay the 12.5% so at least the staff get a reasonable wage, for good/excellent service many will leave an additional tip so the good servers/restaurants get rewarded.

    Finally with regard to tourists, sometimes they don't know. I've been in places where I've not known and generally ended up leaving a tip when none was required and I'd had bellow average service. Also when I knew a tip was required I've often got the amount wrong plus or minus. When I lived in the USA for a while the brits that came to visit me would often leave the UK standard of 10 - 12.5% not knowing the norm was higher in the USA but changed when they knew. Also after a few bottles of wine tourists can often revert to home behavior by mistake when calculating the bill.

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