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Matt Zito

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  1. Matt Zito

    Embarrasing Libations

    I think the nastiest drink that I've ever had (and continue to drink) is actually a shot. It's called a cement mixer - you're served a shot of baileys and a half-shot of lime juice. First put the baileys in your mouth and hold it. Then, take the lime juice and put it in your mouth with the baileys and swish it around. The taste itself isn't displeasing to me - like a creamsicle, kind of, but the acid in the lime juice curdles the cream in the baileys and you're left with these chunks of clotted baileys in your mouth. Hence the name. Apparently its a joke shot - something mean to do to your friends, but when someone did it to me, I discovered I rather liked it. Matt
  2. *sigh* I will have to give up my seat at the ever-more-enticing-sounding indian outing. Work calls me out of town, and though I tried my hardest to get out, it is not to be. Hopefully someone will take my spot. I think I'm never ever going to get to go to an egullet outing......stupid work...... Matt
  3. Thanks for letting me know... And the other veggies?? Sorry - just rechecked this thread. Eggs and dairy are great with me. Matt
  4. Matt Zito

    Wine by the glass

    D'oh - that's what I get for talking about a wine list by the glass that I've never sampled. This brings up something I've always wondered - how do restaurants with large by-the-glass lists prevent oxidation? I know there are a wide variety of gadgets, machines, etc. that either remove the air, or layer an inert gas over the wine, but I hear conflicting reports of how well they work. Is it just a matter of turning over the stock quickly enough? Or just letting the wines oxidize?
  5. Matt Zito

    Wine by the glass

    I find it surprising that no one's mentioned Artisanal yet. They've got 100+ wines by the glass. Plus I think they've got one or two cheeses on the menu.....
  6. Oh, that's very charitable of you - thanks so much! Scholar and a gentleman.... Matt
  7. Gak - this filled up much more quickly than I expected. Is there a waiting list? Could I possibly be added to it? FWIW, I'm also a veggie, so should someone be unable to fulfill their duties, I'll be happy to stand up next to Suvir and veg away. Matt
  8. Matt Zito

    Wine Course

    Alas, I've only attended one of the three weeks of the class - business travel interfered once and the second time NJ Transit had it in for me. So far, though, I agree with Nina - I like the teacher a great deal, and find her very informative. One of the nicest parts is her willingness to spend some time on tangents not directly related to the course but very instructive as to wine in general - an example that springs to mind was her discussion of the growing "wine lake" in various countries and how it relates to where grape must comes from. On a side note - the school itself will let people who are busy/flaky (like me) attend the classes they missed during the next session of the class at no charge, something I'm finding very useful.
  9. Matt Zito

    A Tasting Party,

    Oooh, I finally have a use for the '98, '99, and '00 bottles of Tuscan 1% milk my roommate has left in the fridge. The '99 in particular, as I recall, made a particularly nice batch of Kraft Macaroni & cheese. It'll be interesting to see how the flavor has developed over time.
  10. Matt Zito

    Brick Lane Curry House

    It definitely builds - the first couple of bites, I was kicking myself for not having been a showoff and eaten the Phaal. Then, as the heat failed to dissipate, I started being grateful I'd gotten the vindaloo. Then I was just grabbing for the water. And I know that water is the wrong strategy, but I don't care for lassi and 'twasn't enough bread.
  11. Matt Zito

    Brick Lane Curry House

    "tough" is a polite way to put it - as a child, I generally used the terms "nuts" and "embarrassing". They seemed to have enough staff - but few of them seemed as competent as they ought to have been. They kept saying that the kitchen was very small as a reason for the delays in the food. If that's the case, they probably ought not to try to serve quite so many people. Brownsville, eh? I went there once when I was little.....I just remember being thoroughly unimpressed with the Rio Grande I'd heard so much about. I'm from Houston - SE corner of Texas. It's also worth noting that the BLCH meal was preceded by cheese and wine at Bar Demi, where Nesita ably assisted Jordyn and myself in picking yummy cheeses.
  12. Matt Zito

    Restaurant Smoking Ban

    Actually, there's a number of bars in NYC that already have that system in place. The few places I've actively noticed it have been in the upscale pub/neighborhood-type bars (two examples that come to mind, iirc, are Kevin St. John's in midtown and Chumley's). They have electrostatic collectors to draw the smoke out of the air, plus good air movement overall.
  13. Matt Zito

    Brick Lane Curry House

    My father spent many years owning and operating restaurants, which has given him a certain fanaticism about restaurant service levels. When I was a child, there was a ritual where whenever a new "family restaurant" opened in our corner of Texas, we would go visit it in the first week after it opened. Of course, the staff would be a disaster - dishes would get forgotten, drinks spilled, inability to discuss dishes, etc. At the conclusion of the meal, my father would ask to speak with the manager. The manager, generally a young guy in his 20's would hurry over and my father, a distinguished looking man with glasses and salt-and-pepper hair would say something like, "Son - I appreciate that you just opened. But I've got twenty years in this business and if I ran my restaurants the way you run yours, I would have been out of business long ago.". He would then proceed to critique every service failure over the course of the evening, not just at our table, but at all the tables within his field of view - never raising his voice, never getting angry, just discussing. The manager would then apologize, cards exchanged, and my father would then leave - content that he'd helped a new restaurant on their way to success. Now, that was when it was a new restaurant. Restaurants in business more than a few months were an entirely different story. Serious service failures in these restaurants were not tolerated, retribution was swift, and heaven help the manager who copped an attitude with my father. The relevance of this to Brick Lane Curry House is that as I watched customer after customer be violated (including Jordyn and myself), all I could think was, "Thank God my father isn't here". BLCH is located on 6th street, towards 1st avenue. We arrived at around 8:30 or so and the restaurant was packed. This seemed to be largely an effect of a favorable writeup in the Times the previous week, as the staff seemed overwhelmed by the number of people they were dealing with, and the phone was ringing nonstop. The woman who seemed to be the floor manager informed us that there were no tables available, that it was very likely there wouldn't be tables available anytime soon, and would we want to eat at the bar? Jordyn and I agreed, and were given menus. The menu at BLCH is best described as "deceptively short", compared to many Indian menus. There are approximately a dozen apps. and kebabs, plus 8 curries as the main dishes, each available with multiple kinds of meat or veggies. The most notable dish was the "Phaal" curry, which was described as, "more sweat and spice than flavor". The menu said that those who succesfully ate an entire portion would receive a free bottle of beer and get their name up on the "'Phaal' of Fame" (which, incidentally, was a small chalkboard that had long since filled - new winners had the dubious distinction of having their name placed on a Post-It note that was placed on the chalkboard). Jordyn dared me to try the Phaal, but I decided to adopt a defensive posture and go for the vindaloo (the second-hottest curry). Jordyn ordered the Lamb Madras. Papdum was served, which was excellent - tangy with a hint of nuts. While we were eating this, the couple sitting next to us at the bar (more than halfway through a bottle of wine when we sat down) inquired whether they would be getting their entrees soon. With an apologetic expression, the server informed them that not only were they not ready, it probably was "going to be a while" before they would get their food. The scene behind the bar was one of general disorganization - servers not saving steps, food arriving from the kitchen with no one knowing whose table it was for, plus the constant ringing of the phone. It took about an hour for the food to arrive. I'll leave Jordyn to discuss his Madras, but my vindaloo was delicious. The vegetables, a good mix of potatoes, eggplant, and peas, were nicely cooked and the sauce was a good consistency. It was certainly spicy - starting slow but gradually growing until, five bites in, I was lunging for the water. The spice, however, didn't overshadow the flavor, which was heavy on the cardamom - I'm just glad I didn't get the Phaal. The rice served with the dish was basmati rice, extremely moist, with big pieces of cinnamon stick thrown in. I also got naan with my dish, which was very tasty, but obviously rushed out of the kitchen, as it was very light in color and doughy in the center. Service was spotty - I was drinking a lot of water and had to occasionally seize someone firmly by the upper arm to get more water or rice. Overall, the food was excellent, but the restaurant is a study in what happens when an underequipped, underprepared restaurant becomes suddenly successful. Judging by the number of angry and frustrated customers I overheard over the course of the meal, they would have been better off simply politely turning customers away and running fewer covers. The consistent reason given for the delay was that, "The kitchen here is very small" - so perhaps they ought not to try to pack as many people as they do? I'll definitely try BLCH again, but in a few months, when the crowds have hopefully died down. I doubt my father would be so generous.
  14. Matt Zito

    Restaurant Smoking Ban

    I'm less concerned about the restaurants - more about the bars. It seems silly to ban smoking in a place where you go to drink poison and get to meet complete strangers. And for the people who say they don't like being around smokers in bars, I dislike being around loud, agressive drunks who pick fights with me - I could always stay home. Sorry if I'm being agressive myself, but the coworkers and I just had a 30-minute argument version of this discussion, so I'm all riled up.
  15. Matt Zito

    Blue Hill (NYC)

    Yep, was just about to. 1) Amuse - Same cucumber soup. I liked it as an amuse - very clean, very simple. I think I ended up getting what was the amuse from the last meal for my first course which was... 2) Corn Soup - an interesting visual feature of this soup was that it had a set of almost identical small green disks floating in it, which were revealed to be 50% asparagus slivers and 50% suspended drops of basil oil. The soup reminded me a lot of the cucumber soup, in that it was very unadorned and simple. People often make corn soup with dairy and/or chicken stock, but this was a surprisingly hearty corn soup with neither. 3) "Tomatoes" - this was a tasting-size portion of the dish I've heard so many people talk about. It was a really great change from the simple amuse and soup to this incredibly tangy and flavorful dish. Several different kinds of tomatoes, plus the tomato sorbet, and the sauce - excellent. The wine they served with this dish was a particularly good pairing, with a nice complexity and acidity to match the tomato. 4) Vegetable Lasagna - the most interesting imagining of a lasagna I think I've ever seen. It was two squares of pasta (more coarse than traditional pasta - perhaps made from a heavier flour?), with a wide variety of vegetables just sort of sandwiched in between. The whole affair was covered in a very thin green sauce, whose components were very hard to identify - there was definitely olive oil, pepper, possibly green tomatoes. I intended to ask the ingredients, but it slipped my mind. The vegetables included broccoli, peas, baby carrots as the primary ingredients, plus a few others. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and tasted as fresh as any I've ever had, while the pasta served as a heartier counterpart. I was ambivalent about the sauce - from a flavor perspective, I didn't feel it really added anything, though it ably took the place of butter or cream. The wine pairing, incidentally, was weakest here - we had a very full Italian red with hints of chocolate that was far more than the dish had to offer. I'm more than willing to attribute that to the fact that all of us got the same wine for each course, despite the different foods. I would imagine it would go extremely well with the pork, though, so at least Jordyn benefitted. I then had the same palate cleanser and dessert as Jordyn. I liked the palate cleanser, but felt like the sauce actually detracted from the incredibly ripe peaches. I enjoyed chocolate a great deal - I agree the cake was mushy, but I feel like it contrasted nicely with the very crunchy crust. The ice creams were good, but the flavors were not as strong as the chocolate cake. I agree with Jordyn - I felt like there ought to have been one more course. Part of that was because my dishes, by and large, were not very filling - lacking the usual complement of mushrooms, potatoes, etc. usually found in NY veggie dining. It also didn't help that I went into the meal pretty hungry to begin with. I definitely want to go back to Blue Hill at some point - the room is absolutely beautiful, the service excellent, and the food extremely inventive. I just wish there'd been more of it.....