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Dave Weinstein

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Everything posted by Dave Weinstein

  1. First recipe: The Dark Chocolate Truffle ganache. Because it turned out that my instant read thermometer wasn't an instant anything (it simply doesn't work), I decided not to try to dip the truffles, instead, I put the ganache in small ramekins. Notes: I used 62% chocolate, and added 1 tablespoon of Sonoma Valley Portworks Duet (a Sherry with essence of Hazelnut). Results: The resulting deserts were extremely rich, and both easy and tasty. I put two ramekins straight into the fridge, and let two cool overnight. It wasn't a straight comparison, last nights were topped with whipped cream, and this afternoon I took one, chilled it further, and then did a brulee crust on it.
  2. Any school (in any field) offers three things: 1) The opportunity to learn. Different schools will have different limits, but if you don't put in the effort to learn, the fact that you *could* have learned more at one school than another doesn't matter. 2) Professional networking. Different schools can put you into contact with people in the field, and open up opportunities. Consider someone studying Drama in New York or LA, versus someone studying it in North Dakota. One of these offers more networking opportunities than the other. 3) A credential. The credential (essentially a loan of reputation from the school to you) is a statement that the school considers you to have a certain set of capabilities. How much this is worth will vary based on the field, the school, and on the person considering the credential. If they have had good experiences with graduates from that program, it can be a big plus. If they have had bad experiences, it may be a major negative.
  3. Chocosphere is an online only chocolate vendor, but they are located in Portland, so even the cheap shipping should get here very very quickly.
  4. You can also get cocoa nibs at Whole Foods. And of course, there is always Chocosphere. --Dave
  5. I would much rather go to a restaurant that ran on a "printed price" policy -- the price on the menu includes tax and gratuity (for both FOH and BOH, and no tips will be permitted). If the entree is $25, and you have $25 exactly, you can buy and enjoy it without stiffing anyone.
  6. I've read through the book, but haven't had a chance to cook from it yet. Pluses: I really like the techniques chapter, and the ranking of the recipes by difficulty. Minus: Unless I missed it, there are examples but no ratios. It talks about the different ganaches, but you have to infer how to create a new one rather than working from a ratio. For example, the first recipe is for a dark chocolate ganache, which I fully intend to make. But what if I want to include a liquor in that ganache -- it isn't clear what modifications I'd need to make except by trial and error. Contrast this with Charcuterie, which gives the ratio and then goes through example recipes. Minus: The ganache recipes use corn syrup -- something that I'd prefer to avoid. From the description in the techniques chapter, the corn syrup makes it easier for the emulsion to hold, but the basic overview didn't state it as an outright requirement. Again, I would have liked to see a better description of the ganache formulations by ingredient, and with alternatives. That being said, all I need is the time, and it's chocolate... --Dave
  7. I use the same basic technique for prime rib (made one for Christmas) that I do for a regular roast beef (for which I usually use bottom round roast). Note that I generally make a 3-4lb roast. First, tenderize with a Jacquard tenderizer (optional, but nice). Next, rub the roast with minced roasted garlic, and place in a pan, fat cap up. Next, sprinkle the top and sides with a good coarse sea salt (I usually use a red Hawaiian salt). Then cover the bottom of the pan to about 1/4" with red wine (if I've done an herb marinade for the roast, I use that). Finally, the temperature probe goes in through the side. While all this has been going on, the oven has been on broil, coming up to temperature. The roast goes into the oven until the top is sizzling and getting nicely crisped, then the oven is shut completely off. I pull the roast when the internal temperature is at 105 degrees, or if I am cooking where I don't have a probe, after 60 minutes for a 3-4lb roast. No muss, no fuss, not a lot of work, and the wine mixes in to give plenty of jus.
  8. We've just returned from dinner at Union. Now, you may ask, "why, on the night of your anniversary, are you online"? After six days without power (it was restored last night), and with Internet access missing until sometime this afternoon, well, we'll be wallowing in our online access for a bit. This was one of the finest meals I've ever had, on par with (or a bit better than, it's hard to be fair since it has been a few years) a dinner I and some friends had at Restaurant Gary Danko. The initial six courses were selected by the chef, which made it things even more interesting, since we didn't know what was coming. The first course was the finest oysters I've ever had. I'm not sure I can do them justice, so I won't try. However, don't order them for anyone who thinks the proper way to eat an oyster is to suck that thing straight down. It would be a nearly criminal waste. The second course was a wonderful beef tartare, with pumpernickel rounds. The third course was mussels (amazingly large, sweet, and meltingly tender) with braised leeks, butter, and saffron. The fourth course was sea scallops, served with ham hocks and lentils. Cooked perfectly, and not a combination I'd have thought of. Admittedly, that may be because I, as a rule, hate lentils. The fact that they worked for me in this dish is saying something. The fifth course was muscovy duck, with a port wine reduction, and vegetables. Absolutely delightful, and my second favorite dish (after the oysters) of the evening. The sixth course was the Pave d'Affinois cheese plate. I have a weakness for cheese (my initial response to the approaching wind storm that kept us without power for six days was to stock up on cheese, crackers, bread, and wine. This would have worked for a normal storm, but was insufficient after a few days). Finally, we also ordered a Butterscotch Creme Brulee to split. An absolutely wonderful anniversary dinner, especially welcome after spending nearly a week without power.
  9. According to Tom Colicchio, it was going to be Elia.
  10. Based on the advice here, we have reservations for a tasting menu at Union.
  11. If they hadn't warned the the chefs, I'd agree. But they were warned that they should make no assumptions about what they'd have to work with.
  12. If instead it were "Seattle area tasting menus" what would you recommend?
  13. Interesting. Why? I'd hate to go out for a special occasion for so-so food and rude service.
  14. In our particular case, the food counts for more than the atmosphere. We're already bracing ourselves for the need to dress like grownups... --Dave
  15. As the topic indicated, I'm looking for a place for our 15th anniversary dinner. At the moment, I've got it narrowed to either Mistral or the Herb Farm. So, having eaten at neither... opinions?
  16. I'm pretty sure Argentine beef cannot legally be imported into the US.
  17. What I end up doing looks something like this: Buffet: 10% of the total, minimum $1 General Tipping: 20% of the bill (including tax and drinks) Special Cases: 25% of the bill (including tax and drinks) Poor but not Spectacularly Poor Service: 15% of the bill (including tax and drinks) By special cases, I mean service above and beyond (and for all intents and purposes, there is one restaurant we go to where we normally tip that, and otherwise, it's around 20%). If the situation is poor enough for me to tip less than 15%, it was bad enough for me to talk to someone at the restaurant about it. --Dave
  18. Example variant dish: Debone Turkey thighs, brown, and braise with canned cranberry sauce, half the cranberry sauce amount of cheap red wine, and a chipotle pepper or two. When the turkey is cooked, remove the braising liquid and reduce to half its volume, and use it as the sauce (remove the chipotle peppers).
  19. I don't think they had decided that two people were going, I think they were certainly thinking about it. Obviously, had whichever duo included Sam lost, they would only be sending one person home, and I think if there had been a clear "this person made the critical mistake", only one person would have been sent home. However, when you had the losing team insisting that the decisions were all jointly made, it was fairly clear that both of them would be headed out.
  20. They had two hours, if I recall correctly.
  21. Actually, if you recall, Tom was going to let Otto stay as long as he admitted his mistake. Otto chose to withdraw.
  22. I wasn't particularly surprised by the challenges, nor did I think they were stupid. A number of things about the competition are (to me at least) fairly clear: 1. The competitors are going to be forced outside of their comfort zone by limiting ingredient options or mismatching the ingredients and what would normally be expected 2. The competitors are going to be forced outside of their comfort zone by being required to cook to target audiences and guidelines that they would not normally chose to do. It is clear that the judges are looking for a Top Chef who can handle a wide range of types of cooking (for example, previous challenges on street food) even though many or most are not going to range that widely during their professional careers. 3. The less constrained challenges and the greater range of ingredients are "earned" by appearing later in the competition. Would the quality and breadth of the ingredients available in the final challenge have been as interesting if the competitors had had the chance to work with them whenever they wanted during the entire season? In short, if you want to be able to use top ingredients and aim for fine dining, you had best be able to handle the strongly limited challenges early on. So this challenge didn't bother me, and I thought the Quickfire was really interesting. That being said, I would have sent Betty home. Then again, I would have sent both Marisa and Otto home in the earlier challenge, so I'd be on track to a short season... Oh. And if you aren't willing to actually make the full accusation, don't even bring the issue up. Accusing "someone" of cheating is meaningless.
  23. Otto made a serious mistake. He was not the reason they lost. However, I am a firm believer that no job out there is worth your integrity; and by voluntarily taking responsibility for his action and walking away from the competition, he impressed me enormously. Only one person is going to walk away with the prize package, but there are a lot of ways to win and lose at any reality show. Realizing that you made a mistake and there is only one way to atone for it doesn't strike me as losing. Should there have been a double elimination? Possibly. But I cannot think of any other way that this would have ended well for Otto, and in this case, I think it did.
  24. The external atmosphere is "strip mall". On the plus side, parking is no issue. Inside, it's nice. Not fancy, not really "event" level atmosphere, but defnitely a nice restaurant. It will also probably be crowded. --Dave
  25. No, it isn't the only explanation. In fact, Tom Coliccchio explained it in a recent interview. The reason Lee Ann was eliminated was the guest judges in the Napa event. Essentially, the guest judges get to pick the winner, but not who is eliminated. However, the guest judges chose Dave as the winner, which meant he could not be eliminated. The interview was linked up-topic. --Dave
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