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    Philadelphia, PA
  1. I recently had some excellent eaux de vie at Bistrot La Minette. I brought a great bottle of barrel-aged amarone grappa back from Italy, but it's long empty. Now I'm jonesing for more. I want to bump this old thread, see if there's any new info. Where do people buy eaux de vie, marc, calvados, and grappa around Philly? Any new place open up lately? The PLCB website is horribly disorganized, so I'm not sure how to even find out what's available legally in-state.
  2. Well, there's a (typically short) blessing over the food first, which varies by food. (I.e., are you blessing the fruit of the vine, the earth, etc.? Which blessing to use on which foods can be the topic of extended discussion. If you want to troll an orthodox Jew, ask them what blessing should be used on seaweed. ) On the Sabbath, the blessing includes a longer blessing over the wine---but I don't know why anyone would see this much outside of a Jewish home, since travel and money are essentially prohibited on shabbat. When my (orthodox) father goes out to eat---at a kosher restaurant, mind you---he'll "bensch" (Yiddish for "bless") afterwards quietly. There's usually a card on the table with the prayer written out in full, so nobody thinks twice about it. I'm not religious at all, but at momentous meals with friends---Thanksgiving, going away dinners, reunion dinners---there's often a moment where we acknowledge the occasion. More than once, we've sung "Let the Circle Be Unbroken". There's a sense of irony to it, but there's also a strong sense of togetherness and thankfulness. Another mildly devotional practice I've applied is to imagine the genesis of each bite of food you're eating. This is also a good way to get yourself to eat less meat.
  3. Oh dear...I've been there. 6pm on Thanksgiving day, saying, "Honestly, really soon, the turkey will be done smoking. It's at like, 130F!" You have impressive staying power---I'd be tempted to finish in the oven, smoke be damned. As for good, fatty brisket, I've had good luck at Esposito's in Philly's Italian Market---9th & Carpenter. It's cryovaced beef, but it's plate and super fatty. Made some fantastic corned beef and pastrami. I realize that's a haul for you, but the butchers there are competent, at least. (What's more, the full thing came to about $40...so even with gas, that sounds like a cheaper option. )
  4. As for the pronunciation of Acme, I have never heard that. Then again, I never shop at Acme (too depressing), plus we've only lived here two years. In Philly, at least, it's the "Ac-a-me", where the second a is a schwa (ə). You see it in a few other places, e.g., Passyunk Avenue is "Pass-a-yunk". I'm not sure where that accent comes from...German influence from the Pennsylvania Dutch? Italians? But ditto on depressing. No Wegman's in Philly proper, though, so I'd have to pay $4 in tolls and borrow a car to get to one. Good incentive to go to farmer's markets, I guess.
  5. Ooh, thanks for the tip! Can't wait to check it out. I hope they're open...late.
  6. I'm a big fan of Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty---it's big on technique and very informative, though only really for Sichuanese food. She has another book on Hunanese food, but I haven't read it yet. Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is also pretty good. Both of these cookbooks emphasize technique and have long introductions. Not to mention beautiful pictures.
  7. I was, until about 11:30am, a Philly hot dog virgin. I hit Moe's for an early lunch today. I had "Moe's Combo" (hot dog + fishcake) with pepper hash. This seemed like the most Philadelphian way to go. Like Bob, I was underwhelmed by the dog itself, but the bun and fishcake were both top notch. I also liked the "pepper hash", which was surprising: I had expected a potato product, but was still pleased with a cabbage product. Is there a "formal" difference between pepper hash and cole slaw? Looked like theirs was cabbage, carrot or red pepper, and maybe green pepper, in a light mayonnaise kind of thing. The Champ's Cherry was...interesting. I stopped drinking soda a long time ago, so I'm not a good judge, but that chemical cherry flavor is definitely not up my alley. The 25 cent bag of Utz was a must, though I should have gone Red Hot, or at least BBQ. I'll definitely be back there, since it's only a few blocks away.
  8. The dishwasher unloading tip is a good one---I tend to put that off, as well. The biggest thing I do to clean while cooking is not dirty things in the first place. For example, when I was making cornbread, I used a bowl for all of the dry ingredients. Since I was using the last of a jar of homemade yogurt for the liquid, I threw the egg and oil into jar, shook, and poured into the bowl. I also try to use downtime in prep and cooking to clean a few things. You can definitely clean a plate or a bowl in the time it takes for a pan to get hot.
  9. Got it---that makes a little more sense. That being said, what could be done to make for a sweet, light pickle? I've always found vinegar pickles to be a little bit lighter, and we'd probably want to go heavy on the sugar. Do you think they should be left whole? This recipe leaves them whole while this one chops them into chunks. If I have time this weekend, I'll start an experiment: natural vs. vinegar, whole vs. cut.
  10. That sounds like a natural pickle---one where the acid is produced by natural fermentation (by some species of Lactobacillus) instead of brought in directly by vinegar. That being said, that's a sweet pickle! I've typically used 2 salt:1 sugar (to a 5% salt brine, therefore 2.5% sugar), if I even use sugar at all.
  11. With a case of persimmons running about $10, I'd love to hear more about this, too. Is David Chang's pickle a natural pickle or a vinegar pickle?
  12. Sounds like a fun experiment! I'm reluctant to do it, though, because with a bit of sugar and salt the whey makes a delicious drink in the morning, kind of like a light lassi. If I can remember, I'll save what drains off my yogurt cheese next time.
  13. I make half-gallon batches, turning half into yogurt cheese and half into breakfast. I salt the former, and it tends to last quite a while. The latter usually doesn't make it beyond two weeks, but it's still fine at the end of that. By way of contrast, I follow rudimentary sanitation conditions and start with raw milk, though I do take the milk to a boil before cooling and pitching.
  14. Yep, those are collagen. I used them for my first few projects, when I was making kosher sausage with my father. They work great and store easily, but I miss the "snap" of natural casings. Definitely less trouble, though. I think they're also (slightly) more expensive than natural.
  15. Well, you might not want too good of a sniff. Even well preserved, those casings don't smell like roses! I've kept salt preserved hog casings in water to no ill effect, though I used them within six months.
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