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Posts posted by faine

  1. I've eaten quite a few of these "organic" junk foods before. It's definitely a fallacy to think they're any better for you calories and fat wise then the chemical-laden stuff - they usually contain just as much, if not more. I guess the rationale is that if you're going to be eating fatty, salty food, you might as well avoid the chemicals and toss in a little whole grain. But you're right, it still doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense.

    Far as taste goes, I really like Kettle's Organic potato chips, especially the chipotle barbeque flavor. They're greasy and will kill you but are very good. The organic/all natural/whatever white cheddar Cheetohs are pretty darn good too. And I love Late July's saltine crackers with a little bit of cheese for lunch. Oh, and Kashi's ranch TLC crackers. It's a natural ranch taste which is very different from Cool Ranch Doritos, but still pretty darn tasty....and hey, they're whole-wheat so you can trick yourself into thinking you're eating something good for you.

  2. I'd like some restaurant help. I'm going to be studying Mandarin in Beijing for a little more then five weeks, and I'd like some cheap-but-good food in the area near my school. It'd also be nice if these places are okay with young solo females/I wouldn't look weird, although judging by the guidebooks that shouldn't be a big deal in Beijing. The school has three locations.... here's what the website says-

    "The schools in Beijing have three locations in the central area of the city. The first is located in the Guang Ming Hotel near the Embassy area and the Lufthansa shopping center. The second is in the e-Tower near the Chinese World Trade Center. Thethird lies right within the Imperial Ancestral Temple—inside the most charming and peaceful part of Beijing, the Forbidden City."

    Any ideas?

    Oh, and for the first few days, my parents will be with me, which means we can go expensive...I've found some neat options in the thread so far, but if anyone has any other tips, I'd love em'. We're very used to Chinese food and are open to trying anything. We especially like lamb and seafood, although apparantly that's not something you want to mess with in Beijing... (well, hey, we're going to Hong Kong too!)

    I'm bringing my camera and hope to produce a massive trip report to share when I get back. It should be fun.

  3. I think one of the many reasons the baseline for food in this country is often "suck" is due to the proliferation of those damn Sysco vans. You can get shitty frozen food just about anywhere, after all. I drove from Houston to Sacramento last year and was somewhat appalled at all the cafe's we stopped in at in backwater little Western towns - and how horrible the food was. We encountered a few soulful little Mexican gems, but most, despite their geographical remoteness, featured the same damn boil-in-a-bag junk that stretches across our fine and generally interesting nation.

    (They should make them state that on the menu. We pour this junk out of a bag. We do not actually engage in preparation.)

    And yes, the audience of an area does determine food quality. But anyone who's noted the long long lines outside the Cheesecake Factory, within spitting distance of excellent (and cheaper!) indie restaurants will appreciate that.

  4. Well, here's what we ended up doing (if you're interested.) I had a fantastic first visit and can't wait to return again. Thanks for all the reccomendations...I will remember them when I go back.

    We got into the Taj, where the concierge informed us that Peach Farm was "gross". We immediately knew we had to go. Our meal there was fantastic - pan-fried (HUGE) oysters with scallion and ginger, and the salt fried combo of pork, squid, and prawns. And hell, it even had some modicum of ambience, which is more then a lot of my favorite Chinese joints back home in California can offer.

    Dinner that evening was Sel de la Terre. It was pretty loud in there, but overall the food was quite good, though I wish there had been slightly more options. We had a special duck appetizer featuring dried duck, a duck terrine, a few slices of roast duck, and an amazing "shot" of whipped duck broth. I also enjoyed the curried chopped salad. My barbequed salmon was smoky and falling-apart rare, just the way I liked it, and the lentils it came on were addictive. My dad's porkchop was equally tender, and the pomme frites on the side were pretty standout. Service was a bit slow, but that's my only true complaint.

    We also visited Le's in Cambridge - pretty good Vietnamese, although a few dishes were too sweet or soupy. The shrimp that came with the do it yourself spring rolls were simply divine, however.

    I have a bus ticket I didn't use, so I'll definitely be returning again...what a cool city.

    Longer writeups with pictures on my blog if you're interested. (Scroll down.)

  5. It's definitely the Carolina style, at least in my experience. My dad is from Mt. Airy, which is about an hour or so from Winston-Salem and nearish Lexington, and slaw comes on all the sandwiches I've had up there. (Or even better, barbeque sauce infused slaw.) That's how we do our barbeque at home...lots of pepper sauce and lots of slaw.

  6. What was your family food culture when you were growing up?

    Yuppie fresh food strained through Asian and Southern influences. My mother and grandparents were ex-pats in Korea and Hong Kong and traveled extensively through Asia, and my father is from a small North Carolina town (and a barbecue freak.) Food is always very fresh, pretty healthy, and usually heavily spiced. We got into fresh ingredients and organics when we moved to Sacramento, although thankfully my parents aren't annoyingly religious about it. We almost always had family dinners together at the table, which is apparently getting increasingly rare for someone of my age. (18.)

    Was meal time important?

    Very important. We ate out frequently, but we almost never had those disjointed "running around shoveling in food" meals the media likes to harp on. We always had a rule about no TV and no books (in my case) when we were eating, even if our days had been so boring that we just stared at each other and chewed. They'd always play slightly mournful jazz in the background, which I found kind of inappropriate for eating.

    Was cooking important?

    Very important - both my mother and father really take great pride in cooking. We always like going through our old Asian cookbooks, finding something new, and seeing if we can properly execute it. My dad is more of the artiste but they can both get something good, interesting and fresh on the table quickly. I aspire to such things. I've finally resolved to learn to cook over the summer since I'm vaguely embarrassed that all I can make is irregularly chopped salads and not-half-bad guacamole.

    What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table?

    "Hey you, get your elbows off the table," generally. If they're feeling humorous, they might poke me viciously with a fork. I considered calling CPS in my youth but concluded they would laugh at me.

    Who cooked in the family?

    Mom generally when Dad was away on business trips (often) and dad whenever he was home. They do have their specialties: mom for pastas and salads, dad for meat, fish, and various Asian dishes. My dad and I are creating a tradition where we go to the Vietnamese area of town, eat banh mi, and buy big angry crabs for Singapore chili crabs later that evening. Yum.

    Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions?

    Usually about three or four times a week - my parents are definitely foodies and into checking out the local restaurant scene. (And lazy bums.) We never seemed to make it more then two weeks without going out for sushi or Korean food. The determinant factor for going out was usually "how lazy am I feeling?". Trips to pretty much anywhere are horrible food orgies, which I research months in advance.

    Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over?

    Only at big family dinners where there were, you know, other kids. I'm an only child (which probably explains a lot.) They've been known to kick me out of the house or bribe me to stay in my room when it's people they actually want to impress.

    When did you get that first sip of wine?

    Probably around twelve or so. I now get a glass of good wine with dinner every night when I'm home , which I really appreciate. I was in a class discussion a few weeks ago where we took an informal poll of whose family drank at least a bit every night, and only my hand and the Hungarian kids hand went up...I thought that was really strange. Is it because we're Southern, or is it just because we're lushes?

    Was there a pre-meal prayer?

    No. We're heathens. (My mom prefers agnostic.) Thanksgiving is usually composed of the whole heathen family, in which we have an awkward "So what now?" moment before we all fall to. Last year an attempt at a non-denominational blessing turned into an animated discussion on cannibalism as we doled out turkey, so I guess we're not getting anywhere.

    Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)?

    We could never pull off that much organization. Recurring dishes were my dad's really good barbecued chicken, thai beef salad, coconut milk curries, etc. And lots of simple grilled fish and steaks, with a side of sesame oil spinach and some other vegetable that looked good at the supermarket. I'm a broccoli addict, so I request that a lot.

    How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life?

    I'm in college on the other side of the country (and don't have much money) so I'm living out of the dining hall. This drives me nuts. I'm waiting eagerly for the day when I can live somewhere with my own kitchen and start making food that hasn't been filtered through Sodexo for my daily purposes. And I miss that non-swill wine.

  7. I'm a college student in the Berkshires, and my dad is coming to visit from California for the weekend. He's going to drive me and a friend up to stay a night in Boston (which I've never visited before and know nothing whatsoever about.)

    So - I'd love some ideas for places that serve excellent food in a somewhat casual/laid back atmosphere. My dad and I are experienced foodies but my friend, while very flexible and cool about such things, is not....hopefully there's somewhere that can satisfy us both? Price isn't really a factor, although my dad probably wouldn't look too kindly on dropping 300 a head on a couple of silly teenage girls.....

    My dad is also interested in trying Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger - is it worth it?

    And if there's anything else that I CANNOT MISS IN BOSTON OR MY LIFE WILL BE INCOMPLETE, I'd love to know! :smile:

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