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Posts posted by alwang

  1. Now that I have settings for a tabletop roaster (when I need a large volume bath) and presto multicooker that are stable, I personally don't have a need to upgrade the system. I can do eggs and salmon mi-cuit. So, I my setup isn't limiting me. If I had several hundred extra dollars I personally would use it to upgrade my pans. (The tabletop roaster can be found new for around $40 and can often be found in thrift stores).

    Off-topic, but do you mine sharing your SousVideMagic PID setting for the Presto Multi-Cooker? I've never been able to get it to satisfactorily stabilize.



  2. If you're looking for a truly exceptional Neopolitan pie, a new place just opened in Hopewell, NJ. Not exactly within Philly city limits, but it's closer than New York. I seriously debated not posting this, as it's hard enough to get into as it is.


    I personally prefer it to Motorino and Co in NYC. Keep in mind, it's only open Wed-Sat.

  3. Had a fantastic experience last night dropping in on Del Posto for dessert at the bar area. Our party shared:

    - Chocolate Ricotta TORTINO, Toasted Sicilian Pistachios & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    - Lidia's Sweet Pea SFORMATO with Local Strawberries & Strawberry Gelato

    - Butterscotch SEMIFREDDO, Rhubarb Marmellata, Crumbled Sbrisalona & Milk Jam

    - Torta al ROSMARINO with Warm Cherry Macedonia, Spicy Pecans & Yogurt Gelato

    The Tortino and Semifreddo were good, the Sformato and Torta al Rosmarino were exceptional. The sformato burst with strawberry flavor, even this late in the season. The Torta was a finely balanced composition of sharp flavors, from the tang of the yogurt, to the savory herbaceousness of the rosemary, to the controlled sweet of the cherries. In general the pastry chef showed a deft touch at integrating savory elements into each dessert.

    Service was also excellent, and the chef came out to present a couple of additional comped treats: chocolate-dipped gelato lollipops, cream-filled bombolini, and petit fours. Again, we were there only for dessert, and none of us were regulars/VIPs.

    I can't speak for the savory dishes there, but on the basis of the dessert experience, I'd actually say Del Posto is underrated.

  4. I guess that's not the greatest marketing move.

    No, it's not. And neither is telling every table within earshot that the "Farmer's Feast" is a special menu designed just for that table when it's clearly a standard fare for the room at large (VIPs excepted, of course).

    Again, my experience appears to have been very different: the tasting menu my table received was clearly different from the tasting menus on the tables to my left and right. Sure, many of the dishes were similar, but most of the meat courses were different after we mentioned to our waiter that we were adventerous eaters. Again, I'm no VIP.

    I think this repetition question is a red herring. I think we can all agree that it's possible to create a menu repeating a single ingredient in which the variation in preparation prevents the overall meal from being boring. There a successful tasting menus focused around an ingredient, there are sushi meals which heavily utilize an ingredient which happens to be fresh. It sounds like you did not receive this sort of experience at Blue Hill but I don't find the concept of repetition itself to be at fault.

    As far as service goes, my impression was that the level of service was slightly more casual than that of 4-star restaurants in New York City. I didn't mind this. I thought our head waiter was excellent, both engaging and knowledgeable. The subsequent servers were less informed about dishes as they were bringing them out, but they were more than willing to get answers from the kitchen to our questions. All in all, I don't consider the service exceptional, however the food certainly is.

  5. Whether it was because my friend was ordering a thousand dollars worth of wine, or because anybody at the restaurant knew or cared I was there, or just on account of a genuine fondness for shoe repair, we got what was surely the VIP progression of canapes.

    Thing is, I'm not sure you *did* receive a VIP version of the canapes. My girlfriend and I are foodie nobodies, and on our first visit to Stone Barns, without ordering much in the way of alcohol, we experienced pretty much the same thing: just wave after wave of amuses, none of which were on the menu.

  6. Another can't miss for me: the whole roast suckling pig at Amada. I can't say for certain you can't find pig of this quality in New York, but:

    - It's the best I've personally had, bar none.

    - The price is very reasonable.

    - I ordered this recently with a table-full of New Yorkers, and the consensus was they'd gladly make the trek down to Philly for this experience again.

  7. Similarly, NYC can't hold a candle to a city like Houston when it comes to Vietnamese food. But whether or not it can hold a candle to Philadelphia when it comes to Vietnamese food? Probably. Same thing with some of those other categories. If Philadelphia has a couple of great Malaysian restaurants, NYC also has around the same number of Malaysian restaurants at right around the same level. But, again, 2 great Malaysian restaurants out of a total of around 30 does not seem like "a lot" to someone who lives in NYC. It seems likely that neither NYC nor Philadelphia can be counted as a "great city" for Vietnamese or Malaysian food.

    Are you saying this having eaten the Vietnamese food in Philly, or are you just assuming? I've eaten Vietnamese in both cities extensively, and in my mind (and supported by most local Vietnamese I know), Philadelphia is leaps and bounds better. Philly can't compare in scale to the Vietnamese dining scenes in Houston or Orlando, but the restaurants that it does have tend to be very competent.

    New York, to be perfectly honest, has embarrassingly poor Vietnamese for a city of its size, even including all the boroughs. Not only does Philly do it better on the East Coast, so do DC and Boston. Even this recent NYC banh mi fad has done little to contribute quality authentic Vietnamese food options, but the fact that they've suddenly become all the rage highlights how low the bar had previously been set.

  8. I agree. Maybe also this is the tiny little part of the truth in the old NYT controversy about Spain taking over France. It seems that Spain, but moreover those days, Denmark and Germany, are the places where stuff unheard of happens, exciting new things that sophisticated diners will jump on a plane just to taste and be "in". Meanwhile, back at the farm (meaning in France), all we have to offer is the best (and the less good too, alas) of our view of food as part of culture, not fashion.

    I just returned from a little more than a week in Paris, and I couldn't agree more. Although I originally hoped to seek out more "destination" restaurants that were innovative and creative, for personal and logistical reasons we ended up eating more casually and more ad-hoc: we only made one reservation our entire trip. We stayed mostly with traditional bistro-style mid-range (20-40 Euros pp?) dining which was prepared with obvious care, was deeply soulful, and was good value. Our experience in eating in this manner and at this price point was we received more consistently satisfying meals than if we were to do similarly in New York, the town I'm most familiar with. Particular standouts for me were lunch at L’Ecailler du Bistrot and a dinner at A La Biche Au Bois.

    On the negative side, I found myself missing New York's rich low-price ethnic dining options, particularly for Asian food. I can't understand why a city like Paris would not have better Vietnamese options, but what we sampled around Belleville was mediocre. Speaking now strictly from value, New York seems like a better deal on the low-end and high-end of dining, but Paris really shone for us in that mid-range.

    Sorry if this post got quite off topic...

  9. We should clarify for Al and all that the reason to sit at the common table at Afaria is that you get the tapas-type stuff there and no longer at the tables farther inside and it's the tapas-type stuff that makes the place interesting. 

    Indeed. We visited without this information and enjoyed a very ordinary meal in the inside dining room. It was ameliorated by two charming young Basque couples sitting next to us who wanted to practice their English.

    I will also repeat my past warning about Lena et Mimile: the modern menu is only served half the year! Check that it's available when you book.

    Thanks to all for the advice! I assume I just mention that I would like a seat at Afaria's common table when I make a reservation?

  10. ONe has to define creative?

    TRuly creative like P gagnaire or modern cuisine with creative twists,i.e La table d'eugene.Jadis etc

    I guess what I mean by creative is ingredients, flavors, and techniques that I'm unlikely to find elsewhere. That may include either:

    - Truly creative restaurants, possibly like Gagnaire, which have few frames of reference for regional comparison, OR

    - Modern cuisine with twists that I'm unlikely to find outside of Paris/France.

    My own eating experience is based largely around New York City. I've had my fair share of molecular gastronomy meals in the US, so I wouldn't necessarily find rote mimicry of El Bulli techniques "creative". Since there are very good restaurants in NYC combining Western and Asian flavors, I also wouldn't find fusion "creative" in of itself, unless there was some intrinsically French twist on it. (That's why at least from the online menu, I have not been too excited about Ze Kitchen Gallerie)

    Hope that clarifies, or at least fuels the discussion. ;)

  11. Hi all, will be visiting Paris in about a month, staying in the 11th. Anyone have good recommendations for what I hear is an up-and coming food neighborhood? I'd be interested in all types of cuisine, at all price points, as long as it's good. Places I've heard good things about:

    Le Chateaubriand

    Bistrot Paul Bert

    L’Ecailler du Bistrot


    La Gazzetta

    Cotte Roti

    I'd also be interested in hearing about truly creative restaurants anywhere in the city.

    Thanks in advance,


  12. I tried making a Japanese recipe for this recently that I thought was excellent: the broth was a shiitake stock with soy milk, and the ingredients included cod, a number of types of mushrooms (enoki, king oyster, etc.), tofu, and some other assorted veggies. Really deep flavor for such a simple dish.

    In Chinese (hopefully I'm copy pasting this right) 豆乳鍋 and in Japanese 豆腐の豆乳鍋.

    I'm not so sure whether this is a Chinese or Japanese creation although admittedly, my first (and sole) experience had been at a Japanese restaurant. Googling it, I've found many results linking to Taiwan.

    Anyway, that aside, who here has tried it? What are your thoughts? Yay or nay?

    From what I recall, it was sort of rich, being slightly (just a tad) creamy. In that respect, I felt like I was eating seafood laksa hotpot-style. Very interesting indeed; I'm tempted to try it at home (or maybe even plain milk...or coconut milk?!).

    I've heard stories that soymilk hot pot is great in nutritional value but I can't be too sure myself.

    Food porn




  13. I haven't found any definitive applications where 3HP would be a significant advantage over 2HP. I will say though, that you should definitely get a Vita-* (either mix or prep) with the variable speed dial: that is genuinely useful in maintaining a vortex.

  14. As we speak I am SVing duck legs confit in preparation for a holiday meal tonight. Plan is to go 8 hours at 180 degrees F. My question is the following: when I put the legs in the bath, the temperature dropped to 160 and, an hour later, has only crept back to 172. Do I start my 8 hours from the initial immersion, or from the time we are at 180?

    Equipment: Auber PID, Euro-Pro Crock Pot. I need to cultivate my scientist friends in order to procure a real immersion circulator.


    I've found the Auber/crock pot combination extremely slow to respond to temperature changes: it's the main failing of that combination. You might have better results with a large rice cooker, and certainly immersion circulators will be more responsive.

    That said, for confiting duck legs, there's not too much harm in overcooking: i would just go an extra hour or two.

  15. Just to clarify: I generally love Philadelphia's Chinatown, and I think it has a lot to offer: that's partly why I was so disappointed at my recent meal. Like you say, there are a number of excellent Cantonese and Sichuan places. The Vietnamese restaurants are better than anything you can get in Manhattan, and that's not even counting the places in South Philly.

    I have to assume I just hit ZWG on a bad afternoon. It wasn't particularly crowded, but we did come at a slightly off-hour (around 1:30PM). I have to believe based off of all the raves on this thread that they're capable of better food...

  16. A couple of friends and I tried ZWG the other weekend, largely on the basis of the recommendations on eG. I have to say, our lunch was sub-par. The xiao long bao were unacceptable: the skins were quite thin but they had been overcooked, and out of two orders, 4 or 5 dumplings had already burst when we received them. The Hangzhou duck noodles were very mediocre. Even simple stir-fried bok choy was overly greasy. We actually had to go immediately after our meal to Nan Zhou for some hand-drawn noodles to restore my faith in Philly's Chinese food.

    I know there aren't a whole lot of other options for Shanghai/Hangzhou style food in town, but even if you're willing to head up to central NJ, there are significantly better options (Grand Shanghai in Edison, Shanghai Park in Princeton).

  17. I've done lamb shoulder CSV, cut into cubes, confited in olive oil. One problem is that the meat comes out looking incredibly unappetizing. It tasted great, but I think you'll want to either brown the surface of the cubes afterwards (in which case you might want larger chunks of meat), or you'll want to pull apart the meat altogether, and mix it with other stuff to make it more visually appealing. It all depends on what you're looking for.

  18. The other thing I thought was interesting was just how much transglutaminase they're using these days in their dishes. Actually, Activa's much more prevalent in Under Pressure than it is in the Alinea book. In most cases, the recipes could probably done without Activa, but interesting nonetheless how Keller is disguising modern techniques that most diners will barely notice.

  19. A couple of friends and I went to Mitsuwa this weekend for the annual tuna cut. I learned a couple of things about myself:

    1) There is such a thing as too much o-toro. I've never been in a financial position before to discover this, but now I know.

    2) If you ever want the backbone from a 700-lb tuna, all you have to do is ask:


    That spine easily weighed 40 pounds. We made a broth with some of the bones: not bad, but as I mentioned, we were a little tuna'd out after the sashimi.

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