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Everything posted by michael_g

  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.
  16. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was what I really learned to cook from. She has a distinctive attitude and voice that's both opinionated and reassuring; the long middle section broken down alphabetically by vegetable was what really taught me lots. Each entry describes (a limited selection of) varieties, storage, good spice/herb pairings and complementary foods, as well as basic cooking technique. A few more detailed recipes follow. Between that A-Z section and her recipe for mayonnaise, I was pretty set.
  17. michael_g

    Wine in boxes

    I've had okay luck with the Black Box and Killer Juice brands, but I'm not the pickiest about these things. I definitely preferred the latter, which had a bit more fruitiness and excitement.
  18. michael_g

    Quick Mayonnaises

    Bacon mayonnaise was on Bitten a while ago. Sounds delightfully excessive...
  19. I would guess that they were in fact fermented---the salt keeps the bad bacteria out and lets the good ones (some form of Lactobacillus, I think) stay. Rinsed and used in the base of a stir-fried dish is always good. A tablespoon for a pound or so of main ingredient (chicken, tofu). I've used them in marinades for grilled meats, as well.
  20. I've been a few times since it's opened. The drinks have been universally excellent, the music relaxed --- though sometimes a little loud. It's definitely a hit with me, and all of the friends I've brought there have really enjoyed. Unfortunately, at $11 a drink ($10 each if you go for a carafe for four of their delicious punch) I can't make it there too often.
  21. As for removing stems and stalks, how much stalk do you recommend removing from watercress? Where I shop, it's sold in bunches with 2-3 inches of thick stalk with no leaves below 3-4 inches of thinner stalks with spaced round leaves. Should I remove only the big stalks? Painstakingly pull each leaf off the stalk? Remove the big part of the stalk and chop the tops? I find that removing only the bottoms leaves me (sorry! ) with a salad that you need a knife to eat.
  22. No, but the Inky loved it. I'd be interested to hear how it goes, as it's been on my to-eat list for a couple of weeks.
  23. I'd certainly be up for that, but it would have to be on a Sunday or Tuesday so I could make it. They're closed Mondays, my other night off. Anytime Sunday or Tuesday from 7/27 onward. Not that it's all about me or anything. ← Some upcoming Tuesday might work for me, I'd like to try it based on the comments ← Sunday's better for me -- Tuesday is my quizzo night...
  24. i think my roommate was at that same quizzo. he won a single case. around south and 3rd? Ours was at the Khyber, 2nd and Chestnut. No one else won a case -- if I may say so, my beer-loving friends and I rolled the competition by a wide margin. We picked up the cases at the brewery. The prize was supposed to be a single case, but they threw in an extra one for kicks. N.B.: don't go for a noon PBC brewery tour without breakfast, unless you like finding yourself helplessly giddy around 4:30pm. Back on topic: I know that Philly gulleteers sometimes head to Chinatown as a group -- any interest in a junta to Jovan's?
  25. The folks at Philly Brewing Company were recommending this place very highly when we stopped by for a tour (and to pick up our winnings -- two cases! -- from a quizzo during beer week). We ended up heading back to South Philly and getting two pizzas from Slice, but your description and these pictures are making me regret it... Slightly OT question: that wienerschnitzel is rolled, like chicken po Kievsky -- is that standard? The (Jewish, chicken) schnitzels of my youth were always flat.
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