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Everything posted by britcook

  1. I take the food cost, add roughly what the house wine would have cost if I'd had that instead of what I selected and work the percentage on that. It may be miserable but I figure the house is making enough on the wine, if they don't share that with the staff, ain't my problem. Have to say that in the US where markup on wine is generally much more reasonable than in the UK I tend to go more for the straight percentage.
  2. We always eat together, at a table, always have. So OK the one eyed monster may be at the end of the table but we have the mute or off switches and we all know how they work. Maybe it's just me but I can't get on with a TV tray, always seems so...insecure.
  3. Actually tommy, I think we agree. I don't draw any conclusions from the absence or presence of a parking lot, or the mix of vehicles in it, although others claim they can tell something about a restaurant.
  4. that does seem to be what the cook is getting at. although i think he knows he's full of it just as much as we do. or at least he realizes that many great restaurants aren't accessible by mass transit. or worse yet, perhaps he *doesn't* realize this. Well of course some restaurants have parking lots and you can draw whatever conclusions you want from the assembled autos. But the closer you are to downtown in most US cities the less likely you are to have a dedicated lot that you can actually see, best you get is valet parking. Even it has got a lot you'll never see my car in it on the basis that a good meal kinda requires the accompaniment of a good wine which, for me at least, rules out taking the wheel afterwards. If I can't get to it by public transport (which usually means a cab) then I don't go. Yeah, I know it means I miss some good places but the original post was about finding yourself in a strange town, which implies transport is available.
  5. To know how to cook you first have to know how to eat. Your palate needs to be able to work out what is pleasing, and what is not, once you are at that point you can move forward because you have a framework in which you can operate. A book/website/magazine full of recipes will do you no good unless you can cook in the first place, if you understand what it is you are trying to achieve and realise when you have got there (even, sometimes, if it is not the place you expected to be) then you're on the way to real cooking. There are one or two cookbooks from which you can take valuable lessons - Julia Child in the US and Delia Smith in the UK are notable examples - but mostly it is about working out what pleases yor palate and then comparing that to the views of others. And then practice - getting it wrong is not failure if you learn from the mistakes- until you know what it is you want to achieve and, more importantly, how to produce it.
  6. Well last year Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle and New York, year before that Boston, San Diego, Ann Arbor, Miami, San Diego plus a bunch of smaller places. Get about a bit! I have to say I have more trouble in the US than elsewhere, mainly because the people who write the menus are often more skilled at their job then the people who cook the food. But the menu is still the best clue you have, size, presentation, content, seasonality, paper, print/handwritten all give you clues.
  7. I've eaten out in some excellent restaurants throughout Europe and the US and can't remember the last time a decent restaurant had a parking lot (well actually I can, it was in Orlando about 3 years ago but everything in Orlando's got a parking lot). I thought the only restaurants that had parking lots were the Olive Garden and the like, so am I missing something? I would have thought the absence of a parking lot was a good sign!
  8. Bars are for drinking, restaurants are for eating. If you get people eating at the bar there's something wrong with the balance. Give it a miss. The short menu is a much better guide. A daily menu is even better.
  9. I might take some issue with this, possibly to rephrase it as no strong indigenous peasant cuisine. The English have a strong tradition of cookery, from the earliest known English cookbook "A Forme of Curye" way back in 1390 through to Eliza Acton and Mrs Beeton in the 19th century, but this was for the upper classes, eventually coming down to the burgeoning Victorian middle classes. This domestic cuisine has always readily taken in foreign and exotic ingredients, every large house had its kitchen garden with fresh herbs, spices, although expensive, were surprisingly common. The far flung parts of the empire were used as sources not only for ingredients but also new recipes and methods of cooking. This all rather fell apart after WWI when the social order disintegrated and domestic servants, like cooks, were no longer used (or affordable). WWII and its shortages completed the social disintegration and also seemed to take the interest out of food for a while, but once decent food became available in reasonable quantities in the 50s people like Elizabeth David and the Cradocks showed how people could produce this themselves without needing a cook. Elizabeth David took the peasant cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean and made them acceptable while the Cradocks showed how more traditional fare could be produced without needing major talents. OK so it took a while to recover, and some British food is still crap, but it doesn't mean that we (or at least the artisan and merchant classes) never had decent food. Do Scottish gourmets eat haggis every week? I doubt that. They probably never eat it if they have a choice. Like the English equivalent, faggots, this was simply a way of making the rather more unpleasant parts of an animal palatable, because you couldn't afford to waste them. Yep, the peasant, or working class, diet was pretty dull because our climate doesn't give us the wonderful flavours of fruit and vegetables that you get further south in France and Italy, so that never developed as any sort of cuisine. We also industrialised earlier and more heavily than most of our European neighbours which also tended to discourage the development of quality in agriculture but did encourage the use of mechanisation and the like to feed the growing industrial centres. This is probably the origin of our crap food - fuel for the industrial machine which we just kind of got used to.
  10. LML's comments are simultaneously astute and facile. If one were to look almost anywhere in the world there is no (insert national adjective here) Way of Eating, be that nation France, Italy, America or India. However we do know that the eating experience in any of these countries is going to differ from that in any of the others. What the original post posits is that there are certain shared characteristics in the British Way of Eating which distinguish it from other nationalities. Of course there will be regional and other differences as pointed out by Fat Guy but what I think we are looking for are those things we have in common rather than those in which we differ. Tony quite rightly points out that there is still far too much crap served (which is a point to dislike), but on the other hand standards in general have improved over the past 20 years, as has the choice of ingredients and repertoire of restaurants. So nowadays if you go in to a pub you will at least have a choice of meals, most of it may still be crap but it wasn't that long ago when your choices were nothing, a packet of crisps or a stale cheese roll.
  11. britcook

    Odd Measures

    The Scoville scale registers the amount of capsaicin in something (usually peppers), devised by chemist Wilbur Scoville who worked for Parke-Davis. Definitely not an odd measure. And a gill is a quarter of a (British) pint.
  12. Well I've tried the Kitchen Table at Charlie Trotter's (and he wasn't there that night, but no big deal) and it was fascinating to watch the activity in a top class kitchen, how a well run brigade should (and did) function. Terrific entertainment. Plus you usually get a more interesting and extensive menu than is available in the restaurant. And unlike Andy my skills (and inclinations) are not sufficient to work a stage in a top class kitchen.
  13. Sometimes a specific bottle (or two!) is agreed beforehand whether I'm host or guest but for the impromptu offering as a guest I have two approaches. If I don't care whether my wine is served or not then I make it obvious by saying something like, "Here's one (or a couple) for your collection/cellar/rack/whatever" or similar. If I would like the wine to be served that meal (not often, but it does happen) it's more the, "I've found something interesting I'd like to share with you, if you can fit it in" which still gives them the opportunity not to serve it if doesn't suit them, and if they don't then no problem. If I really, really wanted it I would agree beforehand (see para 1)
  14. I take all the fat off because I like this particular cut that way, but no other reason. With Jinmyo's times they are probably closer to the ones I actually use, but 15/15 gives you a good start point.
  15. Not sure what state of trim they come in over there, but the best way is French trimmed, chined and with all the skin and fat removed. Brown in a hot skillet, about two minutes in total then roast on a rack in a pre-heated oven 400 (200 C) for 15 minutes. Remove, wrap loosely in foil for at least 15 minutes, unwrap slice into small cutlets and serve. You can also cut the "eye" out of the meat and treat it in similar fashion. Most recipes I have seen cook the meat for too long and don't rest it for long enough.
  16. britcook

    "Napa in the Negev"

    At a wine tasting last week I offered Massaya Selection 1999 from the Tanail Estate in the Bekaa Valley owned by the Ghosn family (around $18/bottle) which seemed to go down quite well. Let us not forget the Romans built a temple to Bacchus in the Bekaa Valley so it has a long history of wine.
  17. That would work, I'm impressed
  18. This is only a short thread (so far) but I think you'll find the answers to your questions are already in it.
  19. They do a similar program in the US called Ready, Set, Cook. Just as dire. I like Jackal's menu but fail to see how it could be completed in the time allowed - I mean, Dauphinoise start to finish in 20 minutes?
  20. I thought we were talking about the dining experience, and since when did that include "training" to exclude visual and other non-taste clues. Somehow I suspect you didn't gain your dining experiences blindfolded in an anechoic chamber.
  21. To help with the calculation a pièce is around 300 bottles of wine and at current rates 1 euro is about $1.06. The price drop might be good news assuming some decent stuff was made, certainly for our wine group as Conal sources the wine for it.
  22. I'm not going to deny that because I totally agree. Besides which my diet strictly forbids the ingestion of spatulas.
  23. I'm not known for being fair. I think this thread is excellent, to discuss the interacting effects of taste, visuals, ambience, and associated influences is what this board is about, so no argument from me. It's the "taste is absolute" regardless of circumstances argument that I'm getting bored with. No cigars
  24. Perhaps we should just organize a telling Plotnicki he's wrong rota. I'll take the 10 to 2 EST shift.
  25. Oh dear God I wish I lived where you live. Utopia must be wonderful.
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