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Posts posted by britcook

  1. To maintain regular weight for a healthy guy the average daily calorie intake should be in the region of 3000, slightly less for a woman. Now assuming that you eat out on a regular basis and not just once in a while as a "treat" then what you eat at any given meal should enable you stay within these limits. If your main meal is eaten out I would think that in total it should add up to no more than 2000 calories with a reasonable balance between carbs, proteins and fats. So a 12 ounce broiled sirloin would take half of that so the rest of your meal should add up to 1000 calories. There are many ways of achieving a "reasonable" diet, and I'm not talking "strictly follow the guidelines healthy" diet, but the start of this is to have reasonable portions which stay (more or less) within the RDA guidelines for calorie and fat intakes.

  2. The doggy bag is one of those things Europeans find amusing about America.


    Because of the number of spurious reasons Americans will find to justify this habit in attempt to conceal the real reason which is fundamental greed. When a European goes out for a meal he or she will order/expect sufficient food to be served which will satisfy them for that meal (not that meal, the next and probably the two after that), not the typical American portion which would seem to be enough to satisfy two Sumo wrestlers who have been starved for three days. There is of course the European hangover of food shortages when clearing your plate was a sensible thing to do, there wasn't much on it and you were never quite sure what was going to be on the next one, if indeed there was going to be a next one. Waste not want not is an admirable philosophy, the European approach seems to be buy, serve and eat sufficient for keeping healthy, the American approach seems to be buy and serve big and then take whatever is left of a gargantuan portion home for later.

    And of course there's the quality question. A decent piece of leftover steak can provide a decent meal in all sorts of ways but personally I find that the reheated remains of congealed leftovers is rather less than appealing, particularly if it has been plated and then scraped off into some kind of foil container.

  3. I occasionally make reservations at 2 places ......I always cancel the one I'm not going to as soon as I make up my mind, though with enough time for the restaurant to give my reservation to someone else.

    This naturally assumes you are the only person (or one of very few) to adopt this multiple booking approach. But if the practice becomes widespread and acceptable then taken to extremes you could get a restaurant that is fully booked until a few days before when all of a sudden everybody cancels "within the cancelation policy" and the place has no business at all one night. Ok, so maybe that won't happen, but it doesn't take that many canceled bookings to make a big hole in the restaurant's turnover. And the bigger the party the worse it is, just before Christmas I went to a restaurant that had been "fully booked" for weeks but a table of 12 had canceled the previous day and with practically no walk-in business , kinda wiped that any thought of profit that night.

  4. "Fine Cooking has more of the recipes that might appeal here, in RecipeZaar there's far too much of the "mix cream of crap soup with a bucket of velveeta and decorate with Jell-O" kinda stuff. You've got to mine an awful lot of rock to find a few diamonds."

    I certainly won't argue with you on that account, but at this point I'm pretty familiar with the more sophisticated chefs.    I've just discovered recently that many of them had been (and still do) hang out on Fine Cooking.  :cool:

    Yeah, they see their expeditions to 'Zaar as missionary work!

  5. I like Fine Cooking(there are recipes linked to the main page, but if you go into the forums and use the search function, you can really find some great stuff), and my first internet recipe experience came from Recipezaar.  I still pluck recipes from certain chefs on there.

    Fine Cooking has more of the recipes that might appeal here, in RecipeZaar there's far too much of the "mix cream of crap soup with a bucket of velveeta and decorate with Jell-O" kinda stuff. You've got to mine an awful lot of rock to find a few diamonds.

  6. I want to register a protest here, there is far too much talking up of Zin. If this ever leaks out there will be a massive price hike and one of the true bargains to come out of California/Croatia will be lost forever. If you don't like Zinfandel that's fine, but if you do keep it quiet!

  7. Over-critical implies that you're finding fault with something that you have previously enjoyed.

    A good summation. Does the acquired knowledge which now enables you to find fault enhance your dining experience, lessen it or merely change it? A good point for me to exit the discussion.

  8. How are high standards bad?

    How many times will you wilfully miss the point? Nobody, least of all me, is trying to say that high standards are bad. I would like to think that my standards are pretty high, and would even stand up to examination by other educated and perceptive diners. But they're my standards, not absolute, not measurable, probably not populist, but probably still high. The original point, which I'm still, for some strange reason, trying to follow, was does this come at the price of not being able to enjoy simpler, i.e. on some sort of measurement scale "less good" pleasures. I know that food is both an intellectual and sensual pleasure but in moving towards the cerebral does one lose the simple joys of the sensual. It's a good question and I wish there were a few more people like ahr (and Jaybee who started the thread) who were trying to address it.

  9. Sensual enjoyment is not subjective.  It can be measured on a quantitative scale.  It is a linear dimension.

    I disagree. Think about the variability in intensity of sensual pleasure. It's completely subjective.

    I think that's called irony :wink:

  10. And the reason we didn't enjoy the meal as much as you is because we have more experience both at that restaurant and probably eating that type of meal then you do. So our sphere of experience is different then yours. That is my entire point.

    Some of us don't give a stuff about your entire point. Jaybee's original point was not about knowledge as such, but did acquiring that knowledge actually reduce the pleasure of dining out, which you have now fully agreed with by implication in the point above - "we have more experience". But until then you chose to ignore that and go charging off on your own favourite hobby horse (no change there then) and bring all sorts of other irrelevant points in. Cows are still wandering about the meadow.

  11. Much of this thread seems to be built upon somebody's assumption that there is some kind of absolute standard for food which can be judged objectively which is, of course, cow droppings. Our attitude to and appreciation of food is formed by our innate tastes, our culture, our upbringing, our education and our place in time. As in this and all other forms of art there are no absoutes, the only "best" you can hope for is some kind of concensus among like minds. It is the same for painting. Is Poussin or Picasso the "better" artist? If you like Picasso which was his "best" period, which is his "best" painting. Ridiculous questions. Even if you fully understand art in general or Picasso specifically all you are doing is ultimately giving your subjective opinion about "the best". The same goes for music, film, theatre or any other branch of the arts you care to name. Culinary art is no different. So if JAZ doesn't like blue cheese there is nothing wrong with her taste or with the cheese. If Tony's gourmet friend likes instant coffee with powdered milk that's his prerogative, and long may he enjoy it as part of his gourmet intake. Both may be surprising but neither are wrong or bad.

    So back to Jaybee's original point, which I thought was excellent and has been (mostly) woefully ignored, which was, to paraphrase slightly, does our education in matters of taste which leads us to be able to appreciate and enjoy more complex flavours take away from our ability to enjoy simpler and more basic foods? In striving for the finer things in life do we lose something on the way? To use the bloody peach example does acquiring a taste for exquisite peach desserts blind us to the simple pleasures of an unadorned peach? I suppose most of us would like to think that it wouldn't, but in some cases it does happen, you find that having reached a certain level of maturity in your tastes the products that you once enjoyed no longer give you pleasure. In a restaurant you find dishes that you might once have enjoyed now seem to lack something compared to other dishes you have had since, which you subjectively found better. Or take bread, mass produced wrapped sliced loaves, the mainstay of my childhood, now seem pappy and tasteless compared to a decent rustic bread. So yes, too much education is not always a good thing, but the trick is not to let it become the focus of your meal. I frequently dine out at places where the food could, at least to my tastes, be better but I still enjoy the overall experience - the service, the company, the ambience and the simple fact somebody else is doing all the work for me. All I ask is that the food is edible and that I am allowed to express some opinion. Curiously enough I derive a certain perverse pleasure in analysing the strengths and weaknesses in a certain dish and even if the overall score is not high I can usually find enough good points to make it worthwhile. All my better half asks is that I don't do it too often or too loudly because everybody else will think I've had no fun at all.

  12. Way, way back as a college student I went to my first "great" restaurant, full-on French haute cuisine of the best kind, one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in the UK at that time. All this was, of course, to impress some girl, up to that point food was just something you ate. The word may or may not be epiphany but I was just blown away by the food, the atmosphere, the service, the whole thing, but above all it was the food. How could they conjure those magical tastes from such apparently common ingredients? I wanted to eat like that on a regular basis but, like most students, the income would not stretch to that on anything like a regular basis, so I resolved that if I couldn't afford to go out to eat it I'd have to learn to do it myself. Over the years I've become a fairly good amateur cook and there is never any shortage of volunteers to come and eat my food.

    So yes, I enjoy the whole process of cooking from finding ingredients to presentation but in the end the objective is still to put food I like on my plate for a good eating experience. Now if I could get somebody else to put decent food on the plate for me I'd accept that kind offer, because the desired end has been reached without major effort on my part. Besides which food produced by somebody else always has the element of surprise (usually pleasant) either because of the unusual ingredients/combinations/presentations or the skills that have gone into it. Even the rare poor experiences show you what to avoid, either in restaurants or in home cooking, so the next experience is better. And as Fat Guy says knowing the basics of production also enhances the experience of eating someone elses great food.

  13. Curious that you are getting different results when you stabbed it about, although straight out of the oven there will be some temperature gradient, 97 degrees is a little low for a piece of beef loin that is cooked. Sounds like you've got a faulty model. Mine seems to be reasonably accurate and is best for the smaller joints which always seem to cook quicker than you think, and is at its most useful for pork, which years of conditioning have led me to overcook and now I'm actually beginning to get it right.

  14. There has to be a place for fine journalism in restaurant reviews, even though the product reviewed is by its very nature more ephemeral than anything else subject to regular review. Not only transient but intensely personal because only the reviewer eats that particular meal, other diners may eat what purports to be the same meal but because of the nature of the ingredients and the cooking process those meals will not be identical. At least with a performance or piece of art everybody sees the same thing even if they interpret it differently, with food you don't have that certainty. The best food writing from, for example, Elizabeth David transcends time and place and is as enjoyable to read now as it was when written decades ago. That said I have not yet come across a restaurant critic who is consistently able to write elegantly AND give one a full sense of that particular restaurant visit, with an objective view of the food and their subjective reactions to it. Some, and AA Gill has been mentioned far too frequently, try to develop a personal style but this tends to interfere with their objectivity and to most people gets in the way of the basic point of a review, which is to inform the reader whether or not the place is worth a visit.

    But just because it has not been done yet, does not mean that it will not in the future, and we can all live in hope.

  15. OK, so my original comment was, "So what's to discuss", but a further comment, if I may, is that it is good to see a reviewer state her (or his) preferences and bias. None of us (in spite of what Mr Plotnicki says) are truly objective and candid views, precisely explained, will help us to make up our minds about whether the object reviewed will appeal to our tastes or not. In the days when I bought rather more music than I do now and avidly read the music press there were some reviewers whose taste was almost diametrically opposed to mine, and normally if they liked an album I didn't and vice-versa. However the best of them would would occasionally be sufficiently lucid and descriptive to persuade me to buy an album anyway in spite of previous differences. In this case the digression and lack of focus did not appeal to Suzanne but that sort of style appeals to me, I am not really a fan of overstructuring meals so the loose thread hits my buttons. I've not had the opportunity to read the book yet but after that review I will certainly look for it on my next trip, and, depending on other input, may yet buy it sight unseen.

  16. I've not tried the Inniskillin Vidal so can't agree or disagree with Kummer's opinion, but it does seem to me that any wine starting with Vidal or, let's expose it for what it is, the producer of nasty thin wines, the Ugni Blanc grape, does not have the best beginnings in the world. Yes you can improve it by various techniques to make it reasonable but it's always going to struggle to match varieties like Riesling which have many more advantages. Vidal is likely always to produce wines with less body and depth of flavour than the same wines made with the Riesling.

  17. Is it botrytised or not? I think I've been giving out bad information, I think I was quoting from a specific supplier about their own particular wine (to talk up the price no doubt), although the exact source is lost in the mists of history. Certainly nowadays it can be botrytised or not, I might do a bit more research.

  18. It is wine that has been affected by noble rot (botrytis cinerea) and then frozen on the vine at which point it is picked.The conditions have to be right for both to happen and if you get it wrong you lose the whole crop, which is why it is expensive. The result of both conditions gives you an intense sweet wine with a lot of body and terrific length.

  19. Yeah, we've got them in our wine group, "The Dead Claret Society". I'm not a medium and so can't have conversations with the dead but those guys hear voices in their heads. Good Bordeaux can last a surprisingly long time, I've drunk wine older than I am which was superb (definitely in better shape than me) but mostly when it's gone, it's gone and at the prices charged I'm not going to take the risk.

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