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Everything posted by trillium

  1. In addition to cat's great list, Eugene also has two great fish markets, Newman's and Fisherman's Market. I happen to like Newman's the best, but they're both great, good selection and prices. I would say the restaurant culture here is pretty dreadful once you get past burritos from local chains or tacos from Plaza Latina. I don't actually require my gustary boundries to be pushed, gels and foams etc. aren't really my favorite, but I want it to be taste better then your average Sysco supplied restaurant. A lot of places here seem like they're cooking for the culinary equivalent of a 4 year old. I like Marche best of all the places we've tried. I don't require performance art on my plate, so if I can get a locally sourced duck egg over asparagus with anchovy vinagrette at brunch, I'm a pretty happy eater. Their pizzas aren't half bad either, you sit at a counter downstairs in the Provisions section (which sells Carpono's Antica Formula and Fee's aged bitters and therefore I love them). Don't tell anyone, but their slices can be just as nice as some of the coal fired ones I tried in New York. On the other hand, their baguettes are some of the worst I've tried. Hideaway Bakery is making a valiant effort in the bread arena but I pine for Ken's Artisan. Bel Ami is a really nice place to get decent, classic cocktails, haven't tried the food. regards, trillium
  2. I think I might have been hallucinating and mixed up San Crispino with Il Lab. But I'd swear that I've been to an Il Laboratorio del gelati in Italy. I think our goal is to hang out in certain neighborhoods and walk around while eating a cool spots in that particular 'hood. Il Lab was only on the list because of it's proximity to Katz, R&D, etc. But I'll keep an eye out for Otto too. regards, trillium
  3. The bottled kind that you squeeze and white stuff comes out of. Er, Japanese mayo. Too sweet for me. regards, trillium ← no, what I meant was...which menu items were using it? ← a lot of the non-local momofuku/chang press discusses his use of kewpie mayo.. ← right...in a couple dishes...most of which aren't even on the menu anymore. ← Um, I was referring to not being very crazy about okonomiyaki and raji's suggestion that one made in his kitchen would make a convert of me. They're frequently served with kewpie squirted all over them, and a bottle on the side to add more. I was teasing raji. Nothing to do with Momofuku. I understand his food has some serious supporters and I'm very appreciative to get everyone's feedback on what they think are good spots to go to. I'll certainly keep all of the suggestions in mind. regards, trillium
  4. The bottled kind that you squeeze and white stuff comes out of. Er, Japanese mayo. Too sweet for me. regards, trillium
  5. Order a knish at Katz's; different type of knish, but serviceable in a pinch. DiFara's probably not worth your valuable time to schelp, wait on line, be aggravated, etc. Don't forget the whitefish salad at Russ & Daughter's - they'll try to sell you bagels (H & H), but get your bialys at Kossar''s...remember, Kossar's is closed from Friday evening till Saturday around 8 PM. ← I think I would make the trip to DiFara's if I lived in the city, but since I don't, I feel like you do, not worth the time with only 3 days. I totally forgot that some of these places would be closed for Sabbeth! Crap. And some are closed on Sunday. Hmmm. Thanks for the warning. regards, trillium
  6. Thank you all very much for the suggestions, I'll keep them all gratefully in mind. I appreciate forewarning about relatives expense and waiting times. I have to be in a special mood to wait more then 30-40 minutes to be seated, and it doesn't happen all that frequently. On pizza, at this point I'm completely overwhelmed with the adamant opinions both pro and con that pop up for the most commonly mentioned spots, which is why I didn't ask for opinions here! I like pizza, I do. I've waited to be seated for at good spots in north America and Italy. But I'm not sure I'm up for the madness that is DiFara, I have trouble with religious fanatics (hee). I only have 3 days and we'll just have to see. Given that I now live in a spot that offers macaroni and cheese as a topping for pizza, I figure even just plain good, instead of amazing pizza with be sufficient. Amazing would be nice though. I'm going to try really hard to eat at one of the soba places, our one attempt at making our own soba was much more dismal then the passable ramen we make. I really like Santouka ramen but I never mind trying something new. The waiting in off-hours thing is bad though. Given that I'm not from Okinawa or a huge spam fan, I'll rule out Suibi. I appreciate the add-ins for our LES tour, I'm a huge cake donut and pickle fan (no not together) so that's a bonus. I've never had a knish I thought was a good use of calories. I was kinda thinking I should give them one more shot, but it does sound like there are tastier things to be eating. Michael, thanks for chiming in about Skyway, I was hoping you would. Our friends are excited about it, the spouse isn't (the joy and trouble of having enthusiastic food friends and lovers). I will swap out Grand Sichuan for Szechwan Gourmet. Steve R., thanks for the noodle and dumpling recommends and the lap cheung place. I'll keep my eyes peeled. Thank you all very much! I'm getting hungry just thinking about it and I just ate plenty of the sambar we brought in for soup day at work! Trillium ps: raji when should we plan on showing up at your place for an okonomiyaki that will convert me? pps: I really don't like kewpie, which might be part of the problem!
  7. Because we have to eat? And are really not that good at making ramen? regards, trillium
  8. Exactly. Momofuku (either Noodle Bar of Ssam) doesn't produce anything remotely resembling any Asian "fusion" food that I've eaten in KL, Singapore, or the like, unless I missed the restaurant that served ten kinds of artisanal bacon, oysters with kimchi mignonette, or an old-school sauteed skate with Old Bay. It's a very distinct, very personal style of cuisine. Other than the fact that it's run by a chef of Asian origin and features some Asian ingredients, it's not the kind of food that you seem to think it is. ← I'll give you that it might not be the kind of American Asian fusion food I think it is, and I'll give you that it isn't like what we think of as "good" Asian fusion food (Peranakan for example or where Thailand hits Malaysia). But I've looked over the menu at both spots and it looks pretty Korean fusiony to me. I don't disagree with anyone that food is most likely very tasty, just don't think it's at the top of the list because of time limitations. Using better quality stuff is a really good idea. We source our own cooking ingredients very carefully, and can be even more selective then Mr. Chang since we have the luxury of it being a hobby instead of a profession. That give us time to cure our own pork products from hogs we've slaughtered or ferment our own kimchiis or figure out which single-breasted heirloom chicken breed we like the best, or experiment with different ways to flavor duck confit. regards, trillium
  9. Actually, that's my spouse! Can you give me 4 good reasons a ethnic Chinese from Singapore who has travelled (and eaten voraciously) in SE Asia (one of the cradles of Asian 'fusion' food) should get over the Momofuku block? Not trying to pick a fight, just telling you what you're up against. regards, trillium
  10. 4 adventurous and obsessive cooks/eaters/oddballs are meeting up in Manhattan next weekend, myself and the the partner included. Besides our fancy pants lunch planned at Jean Georges for Monday, we're hoping to keep it pretty econo in style. We're also planning to seek out things we don't normally cook or eat on home turf(Singapore, Seattle/Portland/SF and Boston are the culinary backgrounds). We're planning on doing a LES walking eatathon for Katz, Russ and Daughters, Yonah Schimmel's, egg creams, Kossars, Gus's Pickles, Il Laboratorio del Gelato (3 of us have been to the one in Rome, is the same thing?). We may also be venturing out to the Bronx (Arthur Ave), Brooklyn (pizza) and Staten Island (ferry ride and pizza). Basically, for the rest, we're looking for non-Euro based food that is at it's best in Manhattan (if you leave out Flushing). Due to budget constraints, we're not going to do sushi, but there are plenty of other places to choose from in the East and South East Asian category, some that we're thinking of are Yakitori Totto or Torys, Aburiya Kinnosuke, Ramenya Setagaya, Sobaya, Gyu-kaku or Suibi for Japanese. I'm not a okonomiyaki fan, 2 of us are big ramen fans (Santoka is our favorite Japanese export so far). Any clear consensus on something must not miss on the list? We're also considering Grand Sichuan Intl, since our friends haven't had good Sichuan before. Other considerations are Skyway (because one of them loves Malaysian food, but the partner is dubious given his culinary background), Congee Village for when we're in that hood trying to find house made lap cheung, places in Koreatown like Han Bat or Mandoo Bar. Our interest was also piqued by Chinese-Cuban, but it seems like that is pretty much a dying cuisine in NYC? Are there any glaring omissions in our list? Any avoid at all costs? We're not tied to just Asian, but its the easiest for us to figure out. You'll notice I didn't mention any Momofuku places, fusiony Asian places have a pretty high activation energy barrier for some people in the crowd to get over. thanks in advance! trillium
  11. I think I must be pretty lowbrow, because I wouldn't call TAC Quick a dump at all (the neighborhood maybe, the interior no). I thought I was in the wrong place last weekend because it looked too fancy for a place serving good Thai food. I would give them a B-. The khanom jiin was a total disappointment. The yam kraphao plaa (fish maw salad) was decent and the thwat man (fish cakes) equaled what I ate in the night markets in Thailand. Depending on your tastes, you may enjoy going to Mysore Woodland, the dosai are good, the sadarava dosai not something you see in every South Indian restaurant and you can buy some very tasty snacks at Kamdar Plaza (I have a weakness for the chuklis). I also think you can't go wrong at a taxicab driver place, I still lament the loss of the one that occupied Sport Dog (now that was a dump!). In my eight years in Chicago I never appreciated the deep dish nor the beef, but I did and do love the sandwiches at Fontano Foods (best made by Mary Fontano) and the Conte Di Savoia (because they're open on Sunday!). The giardiniera with 4 kinds of pork cold cuts is a thing of beauty. My views may be colored by the fond memories I have when I worked near-by at UIC but they seem very Chicago only type of places to me. regards, trillium
  12. Wow, google really let me down! I did a site search and din't pull up anything. Thanks. I think my curiousity is just going to make me purchase a bottle just to find out how different it is. regards, trillium
  13. Dammit, I wish I'd have know about Warehouse Liquors sooner. I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and went to Sam's to fill out our bar supplies, there was stuff I just couldn't find in Madison. I was disappointed that I couldn't find any bitters there besides the usual. I also couldn't find Marie Brizard creme de cacao, which the last time I was there (ok, it was 6 years ago) they carried. According to an employee some investment firm now owns 80% and they're being encouraged to not stock interesting things, but just things that sell well. I also couldn't find the cognacs from small makers that I loved to splurge on previously. Will I sound like a lush to say that moving is very hard on cocktail making? We gave away or drank down for our 2K mile move, but I am missing not only the creme de cacao but my homemade bitters, cherries in brandy or bourbon, limoncello, vin de noix etc. regards, trillium
  14. Anyone know what this is? There are a couple of dusty bottles at our favorite booze store in Madison, but I can't find any info on them. They were priced about $3 more/bottle then the Luxardo maraschino. regards, trillium
  15. I'd like to know when good times to visit are too. I'll be in Chicago this weekend and would love to stop by for a drink or two, but I'm not really into standing in lines for them, especially since we're pretty cocktail-fluent all on our ownses. On a beating a dead horse note, I was pretty happy to read about a cocktail devoted bar opening in Chicago, especially since we've moved back to the midwest and are still adjusting. But I was surprised that some people were surprised by the location or needed to defend the superiority of other cocktail-loving places as being more "serious" (Samuel, I'm looking at you!). There may be more serious places to imbibe in the world, and I'm not generally a midwest booster, given my strong west coast leanings, but I've never been more consistently able to drink well-made cocktails without seeking out "serious" places then I have in the midwest. I understand the point that Chicago isn't known for it's artisan crafted Ramos Gin Fizzes or "bar chefs" but I do think being able to get consistently good classic cocktails (as in fresh citrus, a few well used bitters bottles, and an understanding that a martini contains vermouth and gin) at ordinary places has its own charms. I remember drinking very good Sidecars at Green Dolphin St, aw man, it was about 13 years ago, time flies, having martinis made for me at 3:1 gin:vermouth ratios at Green Mill, drinking perfect Makers Manhattans at Delilah's, etc. etc.. I've never had to tell a bartender what was in a Negroni in any place I've been in the midwest vs. other parts of the country where if they know what it is, they do stupid things like use vodka "because it's better". Chicago has one of this country's best-stocked booze stores (hey, when I travel I like to go to booze shops, so what?), Sam's Wine and Liquors... all that good stuff is getting drunk right there in Cook County! regards, trillium
  16. If you get really obsessed with kaffir limes and want to start using the zest from the fruit in addition to the leaves, Four Winds Growers sells really healthy trees grafted onto dwarf rootstock. My tree is 4 years old now and doing great. It lives outside in the summer and under a gro-light indoors in the winter. I have more limes then I know what to do with, so I give them away... As a bonus, the blooms smell really good too. regards, trillium
  17. The dish I know has the pounded paste stuffed back into the shells. I think most nonya recipes for ayam buah kelauk do that? The nonya recipe you link to in your post is the same, you restuff the shells and cook them in the dish. regards, trillium
  18. Ben, the partner and you are in total agreement about brown rice. I grew up with a hippy mom and lots of brown rice and have tried, on occasion, to convince him to give brown rice a try, it being so good for you and all, but to no avail. He's very set in his rice ways and it's 50lb bags of jasmine rice from Thailand all the way (and Golden Phoenix in particular). We also have smaller bags of the best quality Japanese rice we can find (can't remember the name but it smells much better then the calrose types) and glutinous rice, both white and purple, for SE Asian dishes. We also have a nice aged Pakastani basmati, but it's for south Asian cooking or times we make a very Indian/Singaporean curry. You cook it much differently then you do "regular" rice. Yaohan, in Chicago, used to have a machine where you could get your rice freshly milled and then take home both the bran and the rice. Dietarily speaking, that made sense to me, that you'd still include the bran in your diet somehow, even if it wasn't on the rice. The one thing we have started doing occasionally is putting a couple of tablespoons of Thai grown brown jasmine rice into the pot, it's not a lot but it makes me feel better about getting a little extra whole grain in, and it isn't the gross American grown brown jasmine, so it actually tastes ok. I promise not to add it if you're ever at our house. regards, trillium
  19. I have a Peranakan mother-in-law and Ayam Buah Keluak is one of her specialities. I'd be happy to get my spouse to ask her about the keluak nuts the next time they talk, but I can't promise that it will be soon, since she doesn't do email! regards, trillium
  20. Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate the feedback. Liam, do you shop at Sentry? I'll have to check it out on the scouting trip, I haven't heard of it until now. I have a funny feeling Shorewood might be out of our range, and lakefront for sure! I have a friend who says you can figure out where you should live based on whether you mow your own lawn or have it done. We always mow our own... regards, trillium
  21. Thanks for all the tips so far. We'd like to avoid having to drive everywhere if we can, it's nice to be able to walk or bike for shopping (or to work). We consider a mile or less to be a reasonable walk to a grocery store, longer for bike rides. We'd also like to avoid student-heavy areas just because we're kinda past that point in life and enjoy a little peace and quiet on the weekends. regards, trillium
  22. Thanks, when we go on our scouting trip we'll check out the Asian IGA. I didn't ask, but a good booze store is definately in our plus column as we add things up (and we wouldn't have to drive to Sam's in Chicago). The partner is an avid beer drinker (and homebrewer) so micro-breweries are good to know about too. As a sidenote, for fun, I had a genuine WI-style brandy old fashioned at a fish fry when I was out there visiting for my interview. I got the "sour" version, and holy smokes it was sweet and strong. I'd hate to drink the sweet version! The grey-haired grandma at the table next to us starting wildly flirting with the barely of legal age waiter after her third.... regards, trillium
  23. The partner and I are considering moving to Madison for work. We are west coasters who live in Portland, OR right now, but lived in Chicago for 8 years (94 - 02). I've spent enough time in Madison to know you can eat out pretty well ( we enjoyed the Lao, Nepal and Indonesian places we've tried) and the farmers markets are a big, big plus in our book, but what I'm more worried about is buying groceries in the winter and a good SE Asian grocery store for year-round access to things the SE Asian in the house can't live without. Cooking is a pretty big part of what we do for fun and we're totally spoiled by New Seasons here (a local chain that sells everything from organic Seville oranges to Salumi salami, with basics at prices that are frequently much lower then Whole Paycheck, fair wages to employees, and none of the politics/price setting of Aldi-owned Trader Joes). In addition to our downtown market (equal in size and scope to the one around the capital) we also have a great bi-monthly farmer's market that sells produce throughout the winter. I know Madison has a Whole Foods, and I checked out a Brennan's that I wasn't too thrilled with (Meyer lemons wrapped in plastic on a Styrofoam tray make me sad) but what other grocery store options are there if you like buying local and organic? On our next visit we plan on checking out the Willy St. Co-op, does anyone have any other suggestions? I figure that with the Hmong population in WI there has to be a few fairly decent Asian grocery stores in Madison but I haven't been able to track them down, so suggestions there would be great too. Lastly and related to the grocery question, any input on good neighborhoods to live in that are good for people who are mildly obsessed with food and don't like driving everywhere? many thanks, trillium
  24. I haven't been on Kasma's trips, but I have benefited greatly from her and her husband's advice. My friend and I "knew" her husband online and had helped with some store addresses and such for her second book. He in turn helped us with recommendations when we went to southern Thailand. We went to a lot of the places they recommended and they were all spot on except for one, which I don't think you go to for the food (it was a beautiful island you take an hours long boat ride too and there was fantastic snorkeling). We also found some great places on our own and did a lot of night market eating, but the hardest part was transportation. I think that would be a big benefit to going with a small group, she hires a couple of drivers. I'm not a tour group kind of person, and I would go on one of her tours. http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/travel/tripinfo.html regards, trillium
  25. I made the home-style tofu (the one with the shitake mushrooms and without the black beans) and added ramps instead of green onions and it really rocked. I think it's very Chinese to use what is local and in season! We've tried many of the bean curd recipes in this book and it's our favorite. The others are good, but for some reason this one is in constant rotation. I use store-bought fried tofu most nights, but it's even better with home-fried. I also use the ground Korean red pepper that Ms. Dunlop recommended on this forum during a discussion of her Sichuan book. I think in this recipe it's listed as optional red pepper flakes, but it's never really an option at our house, 'specially with a SE Asian involved. We've been eating it with stir-fried ong choy with stinky tofu and garlic. It's a nice match. This week I also made the red-cooked pork belly and went crazy by adding not one but three of the optional add-ins (tofu skin, deep fried water chestnuts and deep fried garlic cloves). I used belly for the first time, last time I used shoulder, and I gotta say, authentic or no, I prefer it with shoulder, which is plenty fatty for me. I also doubled all of the spices and chillies this time, again, I blame a SE Asian influence. We also made the home-style stir-fried pork with peppers. She recommends Italian frying peppers, which you can't get here, but Anaheims worked nicely. I liked this dish, but it wasn't as WOW as some of the other ones, mostly because it tastes like similar to things we make as a matter of course, without a cookbook. I hadn't noticed the indexing problem, but that's probably because I flip through the sections looking for a recipe instead. regards, trillium
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