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Zeb A

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Posts posted by Zeb A

  1. To describe someone as 'wrong' is a value judgment.

    Yeah. You may be right on that. I guess it depends of what the word "wrong" means, or how it was used in context.

    Does "wrong" mean inconsistent with majority view?

    Does "wrong" mean inconsistent with some absolute "standard" that the person just doesn't "get"?

    Who sets such a "standard"? God? the Majority?

    With respect to matters of taste, how is the "standard" established?

    Have "established standards" of taste changed over time?

    Does "wrong" have a different connotation when used in connection with a statement about physical facts (the earth is flat) as opposed to when used in connection with a statement about matters of taste (Sprite tastes good with steak)?

  2. You cannot say that she doesn’t taste sour where you taste sweet (unless she’s lying). You therefore cannot reasonably claim that her reaction (“I don’t like this”) is wrong. All you can say is that the majority reaction is different.

    And, a Quote from Wilfrid

    "I said all along that certain individuals, having been offered the chance to experience eating and drinking in accordance with those standards, may nevertheless choose to adhere to certain personal preferences which taste good to them. And I said they may have good reasons for those decisions - it doesn't make them idiots, but it doesn't stop them being "wrong" either."

    If I am not mistaken, we are now down to a narrow dispute:

    Group A believes that idiosyncratic tasters are wrong.

    Group B believes that idiosyncratic tasters are simply idiosyncratic.

    I guess the other issue is: are Group A people snobs?

    Personally, I don't think all Group A people are snobs. It depends on whether they make or convey a value judgment in their estimation of indiosyncratic tasters as wrong.

  3. I had another idea: 42nd Street Oyster Bar

    The food itself is not so unique, but the restaurant is. It's a downtown Raleigh institution. Very large, fairly casual, often loud, up-scale oyster bar, with all kinds of seafood, fried, grilled, however.

    I have always enjoyed the meals I have had there, and the place is fun. License plates on the wall from local politicians, nice long bar where you can order oysters and anything else on the menu, nicer tables if you want a more civilized experience (we always sit at the bar). Food is very good. When you sit down, you get a basket of hush puppies and a tub of butter. On my initial visit, I scoffed at the butter dippers--hush puppies+butter seemed a bit much. But, once you try it, you won't go back to eating them dry. Good beer and wine list. Much more expensive than Bullocks, but still modestly priced.

    Should be a different experience than something found in NYC

  4. hmmm. let me think about that for a a little bit.

    also, varmint lives around here, and I am sure he will post some ideas once he gets back from his B-Day dinner at Magnolia Grill tonight.

    One idea is Bullocks. This is a BBQ place and then some in Durham. I first found it when I was in school at Duke. I doubt you'd find anything quite like it in NY. (Then again, seems like the big city has a bit of everything if you know where to look). No reservations. You get in a line that can be rather lengthy at peak times. The thing to do is order "Family Style". Its like $10 or less per person (everyone at the table needs to get it). You get all you can eat, BBQ, fried chicken, hush puppies, brunswick stew, green beans, sweet tea, etc., etc. I think the food is real good. Only downside is: no wine or beer. But, no real BBQ places seem to have a liquor license. The place is a real institution. Lots of pictures of famous and not so famous people on the wall etc. People argue like hell about BBQ down here, and I've never really heard anyone say that Bullock's was "the best." But, its plenty good to me, and the overall experience is always fun.

    PS: I think you'll really enjoy Magnolia Grill. Do save room for dessert.

    PPS: After dinner, if you have some time and are so inclined, drive down 9th Street toward the school and stop in at the Green Room. This old pool joint is another nearby institution. No food, but plenty of beer and tables.

  5. Hey, finally a question from my neck of the woods. I'm in Raleigh.

    That's a pretty open-ended question. If you are in Durham, I'd say stay there. Generally speaking, that's where you would find the best restaurants in the Triangle.

    In my opinion, the two best restaurants in Durham for a nice night out are: Magnolia Grill and Nanas. I think the guy who opened Nana's worked at Magnolia grill before he opened his restaurant (which was at least 8 years ago). If you haven't been to Magnolia Grill, I suppose I'd go there. It is great. I ate there about 2 weeks ago for my birthday. For 4 people, each with and appetizer, entree, dessert, pre-dinner drink, post dinner drink, and 2 bottles of wine for the table (toward the inexpensive end of the spectrum), I think it cost about $70 a person, tax and tip included. So, not too bad. Nana's is excellent as well, and I suppose I prefer the atmosphere there. Magnolia Grill is basically a large open room with a bunch of tables close together. Nana's has more spots for an intimate meal. Price would be comparable at Nana's.

    A mid-range option in Durham would be Pop's, which is also affiliated with the Magnolia Grill/Nana's crew in some way. It is basically Italian.

    In Raleigh, a mid-range place to go is Fraziers. We probably eat there more frequently than anywhere else. Its on Hillsborough street near NC State. Good upscale food at a reasonable price. Another good place, slightly more expensive, but still cheaper than Magnolia Grill, is Glenwood Grill.

    I guess the nicest expensive place in Raleigh might be Second Empire. But I wouldn't go there unless you have already been to Manolia Grill and Nana's and want variety. Food is not as good; atmosphere is stuffier; price is higher.

    I don't know as much about Chapel Hill. We also recently ate at Fearrington House, which is near Chapel Hill, and was excellent. This place is more expensive than any place I have mentioned, price fixe only, and pretty darn formal. Still food was great and rural setting is different.

    For cheap, how cheap do you want? Many good local BBQ joints. I think FG was in this area a few years ago and wrote about some of them. I'm not that picky when it comes to Q--I like it all.

    I have no idea about Sunday hours.

  6. it is possible to take someone with limited knowledge and understanding of food - who might very well claim to enjoy prune juice with steak - and teach them to try new things and broaden their horizons.

    Fair enough. And then Bob goes to 500 dinners with you--top restaurants only. He reads every book in the world on steak, prune juice, and wine. He appreciates that other people prefer wine, understands that his tastes are unusual, and intellectually can understand the agrument in support of wine as the preferred accompaniment. But, when alone and away from his new foodie posse, he secretly indulges in prune juice with steak, which, to his palate, tastes best. You can't convince me that he is "wrong," and I can't convince you that he isn't wrong. No problem.

    You may never want to take a food recommendation from Bob. Sounds like a good idea.

    You may not want him to pick the restaurant when you go out to dinner. Might be a wise move.

    But, if you think that he just doesn't care about food the way you care about it, that's your right, but I would personally consider that to be snobbish.

  7. Most of the people will be drinking wine. That is because wine is the right thing to drink with steak frites. That is already what most everyone does.

    Say everybody in the world, except Bob, thinks that the thing that tastes best with steak frites (whatever they are) is wine. Bob thinks prune juice is the thing that tastes best with steak frites.

    You can prove that Bob is wierd, strange, idiosynchratic, whatever. You cannot prove that Bob is wrong is his own assesment of what tastes best to him (unless you can do some sort of wierd Being John Malkovich thing). Assuming someone has an informed opinion (ie they have eaten steak frites both with wine and prune juice), I do not believe that you can prove that their opinion is wrong on matters of taste.

    If you try to persuade Bob that he is wrong, your are not a snob.

    If you explain to Bob that he is the only person in the universe who thinks prune juice tastes good with steak frites, you are not a snob.

    If you observe that his opinion runs contrary to that of all the most respected food critics in the world, you are not a snob.

    If you think you are better than Bob, you are a snob.

    If you act like you are better than Bob, you are a snob.

    If you say to Bob, "I guess I am just the kind of person who cares about flavor," you are making a snobbish comment.

    If you say to Bob, "I disagree with you, as does everyone else in the known world, and I don't understand how any one could have your opinion," you are not making a snobbish comment.

  8. In the world according to Steve P., telling someone the truth about their opinion shouldn't make you a snob.

    It seems to me that there are two issues in your post: (i) can someone be objectively "wrong" in their opinion on issues of taste and (ii) whether telling them that you think they are wrong makes you a snob.

    Issue 1 seems to the the real hot-button issue in the thread. I guess I fall into the camp that it is impossible to be wrong on issues of taste. I mean, a person can objectively sing on or off key. But you can't really challenge my personal belief that, for whatever reason (maybe I am tone deaf or have an ear problem), I prefer to hear an off key sound.

    Issue 2 deals with whether, on issues of taste, you can respectfully disagree with someone (I think Big Macs taste better than Whoppers and I can prove that most people with refined palates who eat at nice restaurants and care about food agree, but I respect your opinion to the contrary because I know that you have eaten the two hamburgers and have taste buds.) If you can't respectfully disagree, but, instead, feel like the person with the Whopper fetish is a lesser quality human, then, I think, you are a snob. (And, if it appears to others that you think the Whopper guy is an inferior human, then they will likely consider you to be a snob)

  9. Isn't the question that started this thread a definitional question (ie, what is a snob?). That question can be answered. The people who posted dictionary definitions got it right. Another way to go at it is by example:

    1. Say I took my step-father Ralph to dinner at Arrows in Ogunquit Maine (a fancy expensive restaurant) (based on a true story). While trying to be a good sport, he did not have a good time. The meal was very expensive; he thinks foie gras is gross; the portions were small; etc. In contrast, I thought the meal was great, the food tasted great, etc.

    2. A month later, he took me to this little hot-dog looking stand on some busy street in Arlington, VA where an El Salvadorean guy was serving burritos (or something that looked like a burrito) with all sorts of unusual ingredients. Ralph thought this was the best place. He would eat here every day if he could. I thought it was OK, but wasn't completely psyched about it.

    We have different tastes. You can debate whose tastes are more consistent with yours or some particular group. You can't out-of-hand exclude anyone from having a legitimate opinion because, after all, we all have tongues and the ability to taste (or the vast majority of people do). (So, asking Ralph what tastes better is not like asking a blind man what looks better).

    But, you don't need to debate that to define a snob.

    If I think that Ralph is an inferior person because he prefers the hot dog stand to Arrows, I am a snob.

    If Ralph thinks I am an inferior person because I prefer Arrows to the hot dog stand, then he is a snob (some might call it a reverse snob).

    Its a free world, and you can be a snob. Some people won't mind. Some people won't like it.

  10. My wife and I spent a little over two weeks in Spain in the summer of 1991. We spent the first 1/2 of the trip in Northern Spain (Barcelona, San Sebastian, and some places in between) and the second 1/2 in Southern Spain (Sevilla, Grenada, and Marbella).

    Generally speaking, the tapas were excellent and fun everywhere. And, they varied region to region. Tapas in San Sebastian bear little resemblance to tapas in Seville. For restaurants and fine dining, we found that the restaurants in Southern Spain couldn't really compare with the ones in Northern Spain. Of course, for my palate, that is a tough standard to have to meet. We ate at Akelare and Arzak on consecutive nights, and they were two of the most memorable meals I have eaten. Our Barcelona meals were also outstanding.

    My wife and I keep a journal when we travel. It can be hard to read because we take turns writing in it and often write while drinking. Plus, our audience is our family, so we try not to overwhelm them with food descriptions (they aren't really into food unless it is cheap and voluminous)But, below are two portions of the journal related to dinners we had in Seville:

    1. "Dinner was at Egana-Oriza, on the edge of the Murrillo Gardens. Thank god, there was no choice for a multi-course dinner here. Instead, we got langoustines, gazpacho, hake and scallops. We got scorned when we drizzled olive oil on our plates for our bread (what else are you supposed to do with it?), but had a good bottle of wine and a good time. They say that Seville parties until dawn and we can vouch for that by the street noise we heard until about 6:00 a.m."

    2. "We headed out to Poncio for dinner. I had seen this restaurant in one of my cooking magazines and the author of the article said when he told the taxi driver where he wanted to go, the place was so new the taxi driver did not where it was. We had the exact same experience, but arrived at the small restaurant tucked in a neighborhood on the other side of the river with little problem.

    The chef came out and explained the menu to us, which was helpful because the whole thing was in Spanish. This explanation was also good as it prevented Zeb from ordering what he interpreted to be "pasta," but which was, the chef explained, pig's trotters. The chef suggested a couple of tapas, some pastry dough type things with onions and cheese. I got pigeon and Zeb got a special pork dish - both of which were yummy. Desserts were a napoleon of some sort of chocolate ganache and coffee-flavored cream between crisp layers and a kind of vanilla cream soup with dumplings."

    Thinking back on the meals, we enjoyed the newer and less famous Poncio much more than the more renowned Egana-Oriza. But, both were very good. I wouldn't put either in the "you must eat there" category, and, in fact, we found no such restaurant in Southern Spain. But, don't let that discourage you about the food. Our last night in Seville was spent roaming from tapas joint to tapas joint, sampling many little taste treats (including inumerable servings of jamon and manchengo), different wines, and, of course, the ever-present San Miguel.

    Have fun on your trip!

  11. Well, I wasn't there, so I can't really offer a review. But my wife ended up a place called Todd Jurich's Bistro in dowtown Norfolk (210 W York St Norfolk VA (757) 622-3210). (It soon moves to 100 Main Street.)

    She reports that she had an oustanding meal.

    Its a pretty fancy place (I think she mentioned foie gras.) She ate at the bar and met some cool people and sort of overdid it on port purchases (She spent $100); but, I get the sense that even if you were more moderate, you're looking at 75 bucks a person (wine, tax, tip included).

    The people she met all claimed it was the best restaurant in Norfolk (if not the entire Tidewater area.)

    It's current site is small--10 tables or so + bar. It was filled on the Wednesday night she went.

    Basically, she loved the place.

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