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Everything posted by Alcuin

  1. I've never seen this before. It's pretty neat, but I don't think I would be interested in more than one after the novelty wears out. Plus, how are they going to make this work for service. Are they going to premake them? I see some potential problems there (what if I want my OF with baby Saz not Buffalo Trace?). If they don't premake them, am I going to have to wait 20-30 minutes for a drink? I wonder how long and forgiving in terms of time the freezing process is. There are a lot of variables to juggle here when you actually think about something like this being ordered made.
  2. Interesting, I eat more sandwiches in the summer (it's BLT season after all). I wonder if there is a seasonal trend one way or the other for the whole country. I definitely change the kinds of sandwiches I eat in the summer to maximize BLT consumption too. In the colder months I bake a lot of bread and for a snack I'll just put something between slices and eat it. If that qualifies as a sandwich, I eat a lot of them. I make a lot of tortillas in the summer so its chips and salsa instead of the sandwich usually. Probably pretty idiosyncratic though.
  3. The grinder is ok. For my purposes it's good enough, since I usually only do 5 lbs of sausage at a time. It's just fine for ground beef and the like. But like dougal said, get a dedicated stuffer if you want to stuff. The stuffer attachment is pretty junky and results in a lot of frustration and a weaker product. I really want that pasta roller attachment. Hands free rolling, no clamping to a table, and it makes very thin pasta. One of these days it will be mine.
  4. I agree, if the person stops at smooth and says nothing else. To me, non pro taster that I am, "smoothness" is about a rough mouthfeel due to an overbearing sensation of alcoholic burn. That's not necessarily a bad thing either and it can be slight and pleasing within the balance of the spirit or completely out of whack and over the top. It doesn't necessarily correspond to alcohol content in my experience, though I don't know why. An anecdote: A friend of mine came into possession of two bottles of Hirsch Small Batch Reserve, a 25yr and a 28yr. I expected the 28yr to be "smoother," thinking that more time in the barrel would smooth off some of the edges in the whiskey, like it does say with Laphroaig 15yr as opposed to 10yr. It was the opposite though. I was surprised that I thought the 28yr to be a bit less smooth than the 25yr. There was a sharpness to the mouthfeel in the 28yr that wasn't there in the 25yr that made it slightly less smooth to my mind. That's not to say both aren't excellent whiskies--they are, but they were different in the smoothness department than I thought they'd be. I wonder though what the effects of sugar are on perceptions of smoothness. I have a very dry palate and don't use a lot of sugar but one time a made a Tombstone with Wild Turkey and added 1/2t too much rich simple. I remember the cloying mouthfeel making the drink feel smoother, lacking the roughness I was looking for at the time.
  5. I probably eat at least 4-5 a week in the summer. In the winter, when I bake bread every week, that probably doubles if you count good WI cheddar between bread as a sandwich. The sandwich is one of the greatest things ever invented. Today I had left over pork loin roast sliced thinly with a roasted hatch chili and mayo.
  6. Apropos, I don't know if eG did one already, but you could readily run a thread on fatuous, fashionable pop misconceptions about food science. Taken together, in an age when information including accurate information is easily available, these notions themselves may be the ultimate (if not too ominous a word) culinary sign of apocalypse. E.g., fashionable stigmatizing of HFCS (fructose-glucose syrup) without also considering that fructose ("fruct" from "fruit") and glucose (from Gk. for "sweet") are among the most common sugars in fresh fruits & vegetables, the core of our natural ancestral diet, and that honey is a natural HFCS (close in composition to common synthetics) with important trace nutrients added. Or that fructose has long (much longer than HFCS was around) been viewed as a "healthier" sugar than common sucrose because its slower metabolism causes less blood-sugar peaking, consequently less insulin response (lower "glycemic index"). These inseparable considerations are often missing in discussions of HFCS in which I see a tone suggesting if we'd just eliminate that "toxic" HFCS, we could go on eating our 140 pounds of commercial sugars annually with free conscience and no more diabetes or obesity. Jacques Barzun, The Culture We Deserve (Wesleyan University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8195-6237-8) Sure, HFCS is just another sugar, but it is not the same as honey. Honey is far more difficult to produce, and more expensive. Not to mention that, because of its unique production (bees, flowers, et al), it has character. The problem is that HFCS makes it easy for "food" companies to deliver 140 pounds of sugar annually. Sure, another sugar would cause the same effect, but the ease with which the HFCS flows is the real problem. Renaming HFCS to corn sugar is a cheap ploy to redirect our attention away from HFCS, which leaves the sugar itself center stage--"pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" though. Focusing on the naming of the thing itself focuses us on the thing itself, not the systemic problem that is behind it.
  7. I agree about Handy being smooth, but that's probably just in contrast to the memory of Stagg. Definitely somewhat relative to your experience and taste.
  8. I've always understood that to mean that "rough" denotes an unpleasant sensation, like alcoholic burn, tannic astringency or too much alcohol in wine, etc. "Smooth" is the opposite of that: easy to drink. But I'm no professional.
  9. Alcuin

    Beef stew failure

    30-60 minutes? I can't really see any tough meat becoming tender in that amount of time. I usually go at 250F in the oven (easier to control the temp that way for me) and start checking at 2 hours. I also always use chuck, but that's just because I think it ends up less dry. Anything else would break down fine, it just might be a bit dry if it's in chunks big enough to have to cut with a knife and fork. I also use as little oil as possible to brown-gives you much more fond (brown deliciousness left on pan to deglaze with wine).
  10. The only reason I wouldn't do it is flexibility. Sometimes I want more/less vermouth depending on the gin. Sometimes I want a different gin. Not only is it not that hard to make a martini, I like doing it.
  11. Hilarious. I've never watched her show before, but whenever I've seen her she typically seemed pretty savvy. She looked ridiculous in this clip. That look from Bourdain was the icing on the cake. If I found out this was some kind of meta performance art, I might say it was the most brilliant comedy I've ever seen.
  12. Got mine yesterday but didn't have a chance to check them out. I'm going to tonight though with a favorite inexpensive wine (pinot noir from the Dolomites). They're similar in shape to some Stolzle stems I have, but nicer.
  13. The one I went to had a good selection of stemware but you could tell almost all there business was probably to be used as wedding gifts. I was pretty sure they wouldn't have them but its a nice Macy's and I was excited so I figured why not. All's well that ends well-just ordered white and red glasses. Looking forward to checking them out.
  14. Wow! I went to Macy's looking for these to play with them over the weekend but couldn't find them. I intended to order some time soon but I'm going to do it right now-thanks!
  15. Etymologically, traditional implies a handing down of something, whether a recipe or a song. This is more flexible, because I can hand down one thing and you can hand down another. Those two maybe slightly different traditions are part of a culture. Authenticity implies authority, or even an author. That's why there are no tradition police, but there are authenticity police. Whenever you invoke authenticity, you're getting into contentious territory. I don't always think its pedantic to talk about authenticity. Pedantry is about style not content to me. When I make a dish, I often like to have a baseline in the tradition. To get that, I often go to an author for a recipe whose ethos (and my experience with it) tells me it will be authentic, in the sense of an authoritative iteration of a tradition which can be multiple and that amounts to culture. That said, I wouldn't refer to anything I made as authentic. The idea of authenticity is useful, but that's where I like to leave it.
  16. One reason the idea of an "authentic" dish is good is that authenticity relies on tradition, and tradition tends to hand down good ways of doing things. To keep with the Carbonara example, it is a dish that is honed down to its most important elements. You can add cream for a creamy effect, but you don't have to because the dish with its most basic elements will provide that for you. Good tradition often tells us what works. On the other hand, if we're too constrained by the idea of authenticity, it becomes a problem. You're chasing after an ideal that doesn't really exist (there is no outside the cave). I'd say it's best to have the idea of the authentic as you're starting point, rather than where you want to end up. That way, you're moving forward not backward. You, not the "recipe" or someone else's idea of what's authentic, can then decide what you like and what works.
  17. This is good news. I've never really liked the idea of having so many different glasses around and I'm skeptical that so many are needed anyway, so a glass designed specifically (and rigorously) to apply to most situations would be ideal. I like the break resistant glass too-I've seen them in action in stores (in impromptu demonstrations) and they are pretty resistant. Could be a good investment-I'm definitely going to check this out. Thanks for the heads up!
  18. Firefly really is pretty good! I love my classic cocktails but, flavoring neutral spirits isn't a travesty. Its Gin, aquavit, lemoncello.... To each his own of course but I just happen to be the sort that thinks there should be some limits on things. Iced tea flavored vodka is a bridge to far for me. It's the point at which we let go and give ourselves over to the idea of flavoring for flavoring's sake. I think about it this way: its possible to think of gin and aquavit as seasoned spirits, in which I know what the seasonings are. I can't really conceive of iced tea flavored vodka as seasoned spirit, its flavored, like gummy bears or grape soda or blue water ice. I don't like powdered iced tea either. I'm just not a fan of this kind of abstract "flavoring." I just don't think gin and iced tea vodka are the same thing. But as always, if it pleases you, it pleases you. One man's apocalypse is another's tipple.
  19. Alcuin

    Pickle vs. Brine

    I always thought that pickle refers to the preparation of vegetables or meat in a sour, salty, and sweet solution. It may be preserved or a quick pickle. The sour/salty/sweet solution itself is the brine. I call something pickled when its served in the brine solution itself--the presence of the brine is part of the preparation of a pickle. I call it brined when it is steeped in the brine, taken out, and prepared another way. So you can have pickled pigs feet that are floating in brine. If you brine a pork chop then grill it, it was grilled. Both were brined but only one was pickled. Wow, this really is pretty confusing. I'm sure people have their ways they use these words, but to me its a bit odd if not misleading to talk about grilled pickled pork chops. Its not wrong, but the nuance is a bit off, like a good speaker of English who uses a word that's not completely wrong semantically, it just sounds funny.
  20. What about this? In Oseland's _Cradle of Flavor_ he recommends subbing cilantro for rau ram because Though cilantro tastes nothing like Vietnamese basil, its fresh clean taste makes it a good substitute.To my mind, he's not saying they taste the same, he's saying they have a similar effect in that they are both herbal in similar ways (fresh and clean). Maybe you buy this or maybe you don't but I think it works. Subbing canned pineapple for mango, come on! Yes, they're both fruits as cilantro and rau ram are both herbs, but if you sub out the mango in a mango pudding, its not mango pudding. That's a red herring. If you sub out one herb for a salad, you're not compromising the integrity of the dish. Pineapple for mango? That's apples to oranges. So what I'm driving at here is that it's not an all or nothing proposition: if I sub out vermouth for white wine in a pan sauce or my risotto (I do this regularly), that doesn't mean I think you can just sub it out in any application (poulet au Riesling is one obvious example). In some instances it changes the dish, in some it doesn't. Knowing how to sub and how to read what a dish is or should be out of somebody's recipe is something that has to be learned by experienced cooks and really, I think, something that defines one. Besides, if I can't sub nebbiolo from Langhe in my brasato al "Barolo" I'd never be able to make it.
  21. This is a really good point. Plus there are many great sauces in which tomatoes play a supporting not a main role like the eggplant and ricotta sauce with rigatoni I'm having tonight: about 1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes are in the mix, but its about the eggplant and ricotta.
  22. Yes and I think there's a sweet spot where they're not too hard to peel and still have a well centered yolk. The last hard cooked eggs I did were with oldish eggs and almost every one were very much off center. Very easy to peel though of course.
  23. They also have a stand at the market, pretty much right across from Fromagination. The woman who makes the cheese and what I assume to be her family members run it and they have samples of everything. Last Saturday a very knowledgeable teenage girl sold me on the Ridgway Ghost. She really knew what she was talking about-it was impressive.
  24. Limburger sandwiches! It's rare to find something as unique as that. And fried curds are good, but they're nothing but fried curds. They're good with beer. There are so many stellar cheeses made here, I'm glad you got to enjoy some of them. My personal favorite right now is Fantome's Ridgeway Ghost, an aged goat sprinkled with a bit of some kind of special salt from Utah. I've never experienced a texture of goat cheese like that, densely fine-grained and creamy at the same time. Its flavor is mellow but nicely complex.
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