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Jack Rose

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  1. Jack Rose


    Any skate or ray fans out there to sing its praises. Being new to Portland and Maine, I think that its wonderful to find skate wings at the local fishmongers readily available. Most even have the tough upper skin taken off. As far as a price to quality ratio, skate is extremely hard to top. With codfish populations significantly reduced throughout the 80's and 90's, making its availibility and price fluctuate wildly - skate would have to be one of my favorites. I first started cooking skate when I was working in Brittany. One of the more inspired dishes that I had created was a preparation thornback ray (very similar to the local skate here in the Casco Bay) that was left on the cartiledge but cut into two symmetrical halves to "stuff" the area inbetween. The stuffing mixture was pan-roasted cepes (porcini), fresh chestnuts, and lobster knuckles and the wings were dredged in a mixture of chestnut flour and white flour before panning. Fresh local butter added towards the end of the cooking helps the crust develop a nice "browned" exterior. A lobster sabayon finished the dish in true glory, with its rich, fattiness complimenting the medley of flavors. Any comments or descriptions on cooking preparations? Often, simplicity is best and outside of a luxury restaurant it is hard to find the time or staff to prepare such an elaborate dish, plus one is not fetching $45 for it anymore.
  2. Thanks for the reponses and I am a little better versed now. Pardon any redundencies in a PM. Can one go clam-digging all year? Is there a better time or trends to looks for - basically when it is not freezing rain, like this morning. I would definitely be interested in hearing more about digging and even trying it out. Any local Mainers willing to make a go of it when the weather improves? How would I find out more about permits? Maybe it is an obvious question because variety is the spice of life. When someone either digs their own clams or buys a significant quantity, is the practice to make both fried clams and steamers for consumption? Seems like that would be my natural choice.
  3. Nalgene containers are remarkably really and indispensible. They are extremely heat and cold resitant. I freeze water inside to put into a cooler for car trips - kills two birds with one stone and once it thaws, you have cold drinking water. I have never seen the press but it is a great invention. At $20, a little steep though.
  4. Thanks for the info. I agree that most of the steamers that I had over the past few months were of mixed results. Leaning more towards the bad side. I am going to definitely use sea water for steaming now. When I cooked them, I basically poured about an inch of water to a covered pan. Would it be better to actually 'steam' them above the water by means of a rack or is it just terminology? What is the best way to clean the soft-shell clams prior to frying? Are you really rinsing the individual whole clames after opening and removing from the shell?
  5. I am glad that you made mention of this for I have been wondering some things about steamers, in general. How do you start off a new topic? I am still very new to this and still trying to find my way around. Steamers are a soft-shell clam as I have seen in markets and restaurants. Are they dug out of the mud and sand in the same manner as littlenecks. I have been disappointed purchasing them at the markets on Commercial Street (Free Range and Harbor) for a good portion are usually cracked and broken. Any tricks or methods to determine on whats alive and to easily identify ones that have passed on. They are often really, really dirty and have not had the best results in rinsing them in several times of cold, fresh water. Surely this is the reason for the accompanying broth, but there are always several clams with residual grit. Is the traditional method just to steam them in cold water? Any other choices here? Seawater? Beer? Would it make senses to add in herbs or any other aromatics? Last query, what is the difference between a soft-shell steamer clam and one finds as the Traditional Fried Clam (whole belly)? Is it the same? They do not taste as sweet, but I have determined that fried clams are definitely not littlenecks or cherrystones.
  6. Wow, I find that surprising that no one will buy the most recent catch. One would think that large scale purveyors would be able to move a good volume. One restaurant chef that I know says that he will buy 50-75 pounds, cook, and prepare them and freeze the meats, shells, etc. separately to last through spring and summer. Not that I recommend freezing anything, but definitely an economic option and takes up otherwise down time for prep and lunch cooks considering the seasonal lull.
  7. I saw a few older posts regarding the Portland Public Market and wanted to comment and learn more about it considering many of you have lived in Portland many years. I was there yesterday morning walking around with a friend who was visiting. El Mirador (mexican stand) has indeed closed and it looks pretty bad having two completely empty stalls in addition to a what amounted to a handful of customers. Who actually owns the Market, the City of Portland? I asked some friends and heard that countless stores and vendors have come and gone from the market in the past 7-8 years. Is it that residents view it as being a tourist trap and too expensive for what it is. The building and structure looks a lot like the Pike Place Market in Seattle, but why wasn't a second floor built. The high-vaulted ceilings and beams look visually outstanding but there is over thirty feet of unused space above the vendors. My assumption is that the various merchants sign on and open with the promise of being the only option in a certain category - in effort to avoid direct competition but it leaves the consumer with no real options with regard to selection or quality and by and large the market as a whole is overpriced. I think that the beer and wine shop, Breaking New Grounds, Horton (cheesemonger), and the outlet for Big Sky bakery are likely the only vendors that may last in the long run. The two vegetable and fruit stands seem to have the same produce for weeks on end (meaning the same, exact old peppers and squash) and Scales is so expensive it has me wondering if anyone actually buys from them. Any comments or information...?
  8. Anyone with comments and insight on some of the newer restaurants in Portland? Caoila's on Pine Street and the Front Room and Blue Spoon on the Munjoy Hill end of Congress. Also, any suggestions on restaurants that are open for Monday dinner? Now that it is the middle of winter, it is close to impossible to find anything open on a Monday.
  9. Sad to hear the news of the Greengrocer closing. There location was great to pick up some cheese and a bottle of wine while cavorting around the Old Port. The prices on their cheese were much more reasonable than Hortons in the Public Market and other larger-format stores, Wild Oats and Whole Grocer. I had heard that it really wasn't the same after the snafu about the loading entrance and been limited access. Well, the landlord wanted to make more money and this forced the establishment to adapt and eventually go out of business. Rosemount is always an option for those with a car to make the trip out on Brighton and as I understand is operated by a former partner (employee?). Alas, it takes away options and who knows what will settle in the former space. Another high-priced women's boutique or a high-end dog store that offers embroidered personal pooch pillows?
  10. It is great to see that the general restaurant populace is starting to embrace the concept of freshly squeezed juices - for this has always been the way for a top-notch cocktail bar and absolutely a must for a properly-made cocktail. A few tips: for a busy operation, prepare juice several hours to opening on a daily basis; realistically it will keep a second or even a third day if properly maintained - transferred to glass bottles after passing through a sieve by means of a funnel. Always keep in a low-boy or case refridgerator for the "jockey" barely sits in the ice in the bin and the juice has an off-taste by the end of the night. Plastic really is the issue. A large Sunkist or Waring uses a plastic attachment and pieces in the housing. Cleaning has to be done with due diligence for citrus pulp and pith get caught in side and the liquid will dry on the apparatus. Unless, the machine is cleaned thoroughly, often it will produce volumes of juice, but with just a slightly impaired flavor. Metal juicers work best. Find smaller hand held and squeeze what you need - transfer as above and use chrome speed pourers to control the amount added. Again glass for storage. Something about how plastic absorbs flavors and color of its contents - think about how difficult the Store 'n Pour that was filled with tomato juice is to clean. Basically orangish-pink for its lifetime same as Tupperware containers once filled with tomato sauce. Hope the suggestions help
  11. 1.5 oz JW Red 1.5 oz Apple Cider .75 oz Ginger Syrup Have you ever used or are familiar with Stone's Ginger? It is labelled as a ginger wine but don't think that is accurate, more of an old moniker. It is used in a classic UK cocktail known as a Whiskey Mac. When made correctly it is a balanced and surprisingly smooth cocktail, similiar in texture to a Rusty Nail without the same heather honey mouth feel and less sweet. I find that Cutty Sark is probably the most mixeable of blended Scotches. What about pomegranate juice or making your own grenadine. That would be a good recommendation for it is a balance of sweet and still has a slight bit of pucker or aciditiy to it. Grenadine 4 fresh pomegranates - cut in half and juiced with citrus apparatus 3 1/2 oz. demerara sugar (can substitute a dark brown sugar) 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice pinch of sea salt Pour pomegranate juice into a saucepan with sugar, bringing to a low boil and stirring to dissolve sugar. Over low heat, simmer for ten minutes before pouring off to let cool. Add in the lemon juice and touch of salt (acts both as a flavor inhancer and preservative) - pour into a bottle and refridgerate. Should last up to two weeks but have always used it faster than that. Are you talking pressed apple cider or hard cider? I am assuming the first. Pear is actually very good with a small amount of ginger. Looza and Ceres makes pear nectar, which really is great mixed with cognac and Belle de Brillat. One can always readily make pear juice with a centrifuge juicer and a bag-ful of boscs. For more inspiration, look at the recipe for a Blood and Sand cocktail. Blended Scotch is mixed with Cherry Herring, sweet vermouth, and orange juice. Although it sounds a bit murky, it works surprisingly well. Also, Audrey Saunders has a Cranberry Cobbler that has a great flavor profile and may lead to some new ideas, save that it is not a Scotch drink. Wonderful use of Berentzen's Apfel Korn and a making a cranberry compote on the stovetop.
  12. Malacca was great, distinct gin while is was produced - albeit not popular enough to warrant its continuance. Dr. Cocktail makes that reference with his Pink Gin (Gin and Bitters) recipe and I was too late in reading a couple of years back to find some. I was told that it is still available in the UK. Is there any truth to that? It looks like the Tanqueray Sterling Vodka has either been discontinued or is really limited in scope of distribution. The African-American mention was valid for I remember print ads although I cannot imagine what the rationale was. I asked some black friends and found that Tanqueray has always been popular within their demographic - usually mixed with grapefruit juice.
  13. johnnyd, thanks for that link to the cachaça thread and it was great to see the amount of interest. Looking forward to the next food blog done locally here in Portland or in southern Maine - so that I can learn more about my new surroundings.
  14. Johnnyd, kudos on the food blog from this past year - I just spent the last hour reading the entire thread. Great job and your pictures were really demonstrative of your efforts. Seeing that you lived in Brasil, my caipirinha post may see a little redundant. I have never seen limes cut into such small pieces, always quartered and really forceably muddled so that beat up husks remain. That is an enormous pestle/muddler. Only being here for a few months, I cannot do some of those recommended activities but was lukcy enough to have a private tour at Geary's and have discovered One Fifty Ate in Willard Square - great baguette when they are hot from the ovens. I also noticed that I am not the only one who saves the NY Times Dining In/Out sections and my food magazines. I look forward to seeing what you do next - as far as a blog or more daily musings.
  15. Esme and Johnnyd, thanks for the responses and warm welcome. It is a bit discouraging to find the State of Maine being so backward with regards to the Wine and Spirits industry and distribution. The vast majority of states (at least where I have lived and worked in the industry - NY, CT, MA, FL, GA) have wholesalers that offer the product at roughly 60% of the retail market and without tax. This margin is what allows you to make enough profit and operate as a business. Is it great to see some interest in cachaça here in Maine. Pitù is one of the most widely distributed aguardentes nationally but also one of the lowest in quality. For 750ml, the price should be closer to $18 and RSVP is not likely to sell many bottles at that price. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different cachaça in Brazil. Other cachaça brands available in the US (decreasing level of quality in my opinion) include Pirapora, Toucano, Ypioca, and Pirassununga "51" - the last being the most common. "51" is average and a good value ($20-21). All of these are sold in New York City and Miami, where latin cocktails are extremely popular. Aguardente (de cana), as cachaça is more commonly called is not great on its own and needs to be mixed in a cocktail. It is also called pinga and parati, though interestingly enough the latter is also slang for penis. My level of Português was that great and now rusty at best, so I never did completely comprehend the subtle difference on what sense the word was being used as. This may explain a number of smaller cachaça brands having pornographic labels. Caipirinha, "peasant farmer", is the most popular and similar to a cuban Mojito, omitting the mint and increasing the lime. Coarse cane sugar (a large crystal turbinado in the US) is used in high end restaurants and bars, to muddle the lime quarters for it literally rips into the flesh and extracts a good deal of flavor (six quarters per glass) with about two and a half to three ounces of the spirit. A full glass of ice and absolutely no soda water, unlike the common practice for "lengthening" a mojito, which really is only a splash in Cuba. Cachaça is also widely drinken in a variety of batidas, which is fruit puree or juice mixed with the base spirit and some sugar syrup if there is not enough naturally in the fruit. Abacaxi (pineapple) is excellent as is coco (fresh cracked coconut, although yellowish ones are used and they are not all hairy). My favorite is melzinho, which is pinga mixed with a tropical honey and usually served up. As far as the bottle of Pirapora, I am willing to settle it. It really is excellent and is unopened 1.0 liter. I can even pass on my drink recipes from Sao Paolo and can write down the proportions. I even have specialty glasses (13 oz chimney) that I used at my restaurant bar in Miami Beach for caipirinhas that are available and at least one unused muddler if that is needed as well. I guess I am a collector of sorts with regards to spirits and cocktail paraphenalia, so if anyone is looking for something hard to find, I likely have it or know where to source it (e.g. Cuban rum). Since I am new around here, so I am not really sure on how the bells and whistles work. What is PM? Private messaging, how does one do that? Also, how do you add the graphics, quotes, and home city to the member ID on the left margin?
  16. I am new to both Portland and egullet but have have enjoyed reading the posts and trying to catch up what is happening here. It is good to see that there are members posting and following up with some frequency. I am a chef who recently moved up this way and am still getting my feet wet here and eventually will be looking for work. Esme, you have some great posts and work at the top table here in Portland from what I can see. I have only had a couple of drinks at the bar with some starters, but am hoping to get back soon. Why doesn't the state allow cachaça? I brought back a couple of liters of Pirapora (one of the best, err smoothest since it is not the easiest going down - but great mixed in a caipirinha or batidas with fresh tropical fruit). I actually have an extra bottle that I might be willing to part with. It seems like the whole system of distribution is a bit ass backwards. Is it true that restaurants and bars buy spirits from other retailers (e.g. RSVP or Downeast Beverage) at the same prices as a regular customer? No wonder why it is close to impossible to get a decent cocktail at the average bar in the Old Port. Anyone have any inside information on White Heart Cocktail Lounge? (That covered renovation project on Congress across from MECA and next to Olympia Sport - construction crews have been at work since I moved here in the fall) When is it due to open? There is a website but not much is posted yet save for a logo.
  17. Louis Lunch is more about the history and the kind of backwards charm that it exudes. Although it is argued, it is one of the oldest establishments that claims to have invented the hamburger. For someone to galvanize or disprove their claim would be intriguing. The burgers served are pretty bare bones - they are cooked in these metal, antique ovens that vertical racks are inserted, allowing fat to drip away. Two pieces of toasted bread, an optional tomato, and a spread of what amounts to melted Veveeta cheese (kept warm by means of a steam table - akin to what is served with nachos at a coliseum). Overall a quality burger, with the only complaint of not being seasoned at all. Grab a couple of packets of salt if you are taking them away. Not much choice with regards to any type of food to accompany for they don't offer fries. One has to settle for Kettle potato chips and birch beer from Foxon Park in East Haven. New Haven is great in the scope of Connecticut for it offers a lot of ethnic variety as far as restaurants go. Ibiza is overall pretty good, but does not deserve the plaudits heaped on it - basically, uninspired El Bulli and the nuevo cocino retreads with out the skill or flair. Union League is dated with regards its food. Menu has not changed much over the years - a few dishes come and go but reappear that following season. More about the dining room and the level of service. It does have a good wine list and makes pretty good, original cocktails. Both are expensive but worth if it you exercise some restraint and make good menu choices. Rumba is way over-rated and snobish for no good reason. Decent starter courses if you are on an expense account or somehow convinced a date to buy.
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