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Zeb A

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  1. Smithfield Ham

    What? Pork with a pedigree. "This is the great American contribution to the world of ham," David Rosengarten wrote in The Dean & Deluca Cookbook. The rich, salty Smithfield ham is cured in both salt and sugar for six months to two years. Legally, only hams produced in the town of Smithfield, Virginia (which devised the curing process) may be called Smithfield hams, although producers often get around the law by labelling their product "Smithfield-style." In American Cookery, James Beard gave exacting instructions for making a sandwich using Smithfield ham: "The flavor... seems to be best enhanced when served on homemade bread, preferably white, with whole wheat or Graham being next in preference. The bread should be cut thin and the ham not too thick. No other additive is required except a bit of mustard. Pickles accompany it extremely well." Rosengarten, however, begged to differ. "This very dry, almost stiff ham is not pleasant on sandwiches," he wrote, "but it does add great flavor to cooked food."

    from James Beard website

  2. husband - the engineer - set up the itinerary based on how far he wants to drive per day.

    thanks all for the suggestions and keep them coming. i'm compiling a list to take with us.

    I drive the stretch from Rocky Mount to DC on 95 with some regularity. Rather than stopping in Petersburg, I suggest stopping in Richmond. The distance between the cities is negligable, and Richmond has so much more to offer, both from a food perspective and, frankly, from most perspectives.

  3. Sanitary Fish Market

    The Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant, beloved Morehead City institution, is worth the minor detour between Wilmington and Nag's Head. It's been there forever. Kids from Virginia and the Carolinas have been going to summer camp around there for generations. We all have treasured memories of meals at the Sanitary and the respite it provided from mundane camp mess fare. Many folks of my dad's generation could tell you what it was like in the '40's and '50's- exactly the same.

    I feel like all I do these days is post disagreeable comments to enthusiastic recommendations, but . . .

    I wouldn't stop to eat at Sanitary. We spend a week at Atlantic Beach last summer--hit the main restaurants there and in Morehead City. Sanitary is a big generic restaurant with mediocre fried seafood. It was a good place for our group because we had three screaming kids with us and they fit right into the scene. But, if you are looking for memorable, tasty, or interesting food, I'd look elsewhere.

  4. This is a dumb place to post this and it is probably old news, but I received an email today from the people from whom I bought the El Bulli book. Thought people might be interested:

    GOURMANDBOOKS : February 19, 2004


    Editions Alain Ducasse published in French in February 2001 "Le Grand Livre d’Alain Ducasse", his 5,2 kilogs (12 pounds) masterpiece with 1056 pages, over 700 recipes, and more than 1000 photos.

    Editions Alain Ducasse are now publishing it in English on April 19, 2004.

    Suggested retail price in Europe will be 240 Euros.

    The exclusive international distributor is Gourmandbooks.

    As you are a previous special client, Gourmandbooks is making you a special offer before publication. Until April 19, 2004, the price will be for you 215 Euros, plus transportation costs, which are :

    To Europe : 32 Euros for each book.

    To North America : 61 Euros for each book.

    Rest of the World : 80 Euros for each book.

    If interested confirm by return. Payment by credit card as usual.

    Under the same contract with Gourmandbooks the later books in The Grand Livre collection will also be published in English, starting in 2005. The books included in this program are English editons of "Patisseries" (in French in 2002), "Brasseries" (in French in 2003) and "Mediterranean" (in French in 2004). They will not necessarily published in the same order in English.

    A reviewer called the "Grand Livres d’Alain Ducasse" the cookbooks to end all cookbooks!

    P.S.- If you buy before March 15, there is additional discount, and the price of the book is 195 Euros, plus transportation.


    Exclusive International Distributor

    "Les Grands Livres D’Alain Ducasse"

    Pintor Rosales, 36

    28008 Madrid – Spain

    Tel: +34 91 541 67 68 Fax: +34 91 541 68 21

    E-mail: maria@gourmandbooks.com

  5. Zeb A: I agree. Nothing beats a home cooked burger, but I do have to admit that I'm a huge fan of the charbroiled burger. It's hard to find a good one, and from what I hear Char-Grill knows what they're doing.

    On a side note, has anyone been to Vivo Market & Cafe (on Glenwood I think)? I read an article on the pastry chef awhile back and it really got my taste buds going. If you've been there, it'd be great to get a list of some hits and misses before I make the trip.

    I have enjoyed my visits to Vivo. Nothing earth-shattering, but good. The thin pizzas (I think they call them flatbreads) rock. Pastas have been average to good (I had a really good raviloi one night.) No wine by the glass, which was a minor annoyance. Hard floor, so something is always breaking, which is entertaining.

  6. Response:

    1. I did not pass out into the ragout.

    2. I had too much to drink.

    3. After eating the ragout, I started sweating and shaking profusely and exited stage left.

    4. I realized that I had eaten way too much rich food, and in combination with the alcoholic excess, I was in for major GI trouble.

    5. I took care of the immediate problem.

    6. I continued to sweat and shake.

    7. I sat in the living room chair some time before midnight; sweating and shaking did not diminish.

    8. I woke up in said living room chair shortly after 3 AM.

    9. I went to the guest bedroom.

    10. I fell asleep in said guest bedroom.

    11. I woke up in said guest bedroom at approximately 7:45 AM.

    12. I continued to clean up the kitchen.

    13. I went to my own home at 9:15.

    14. I continued to have GI problems.

    15. I need to eat and drink less.

    Sworn this day, the 11th of February, 2004.

    Dean M. McCord

    I am sorry that I missed this, but, I am sad to say that I have seen this all before. In a way, it is reassuring to know that Varmint hasn't changed all that much.

  7. I don't really care for their shakes, but the burgers are damn good. Just like Varmint said, with ice berg lettuce and an insipid tomato, regardless of the time of year. But that's the way I like them, basically a vehicle for condiments. And I'm probably one of the few here who doesn't enjoy my ground meat rare; it's a texture thing.

    I have to say that I do not understand the Char-Grill fascination. Over-cooked and grisslely (is that a word?) . Of course, I am generally not a big fan of restaurant burgers. Give me a home-cooked rare monster-sized burger any day. (Although, I had a burger at Porter's Pub recently, and it was pretty darn good.)

  8. The Barn is definitely a local institution. The overall experience is vastly different than say, Sullivan's. Red and white checked table cloths and a sort of cornpone vibe exist at The Barn. Sullivan's has a much more hip feel. Just depends what you want. Personally, I prefer both the steaks and the atmosphere at Sullivan's

  9. Whenever we have had to find obscure meat or fish, we have had much better luck at Fowler's than anywhere else in the Triangle--and we have looked quite a bit. Price is always high, but they have been able to find things that others could not.

  10. phlawless, thanks for your post! Your description of "complexity" makes sense to me. I now think that perhaps we have been discussing different ideas.

    I was initially reacting to Varmint's post where he said:

    "The only downside of this dish is that it has been done for so many years (although, perhaps not in Raleigh), that it is not all that exciting. The chef at Vin knows her stuff, but she's ultimately very conservative when it comes to creativity."

    To me, the things that we see on the menu at Mag are not all that different than the things we see at Vin. So, I don't find the menu at Mag any more "exciting," "adventurous," or innovative than the menu at Vin. And, I wasn't really trying to make some sort of Vin v. Magnolia Grill commentary--I just mentioned the Grill as an example of a premier triangle restaurant that, at least in my mind, is not significantly more innovative or creative than Vin.

    I guess a different question is how the food is prepared and what level of effort, expense, aromatics, etc. goes into its preparation, which can result in more or less "complex" flavors. I know I don't have the knowledge to be able to evaluate that and I doubt I have the palate to be able to differentiate unless perhaps I ate similar items side-by-side. It does not surprise me to hear your description of how it works at the Grill. And, like I said, if I could only go one place in the Triangle, it would be there, so I am quite happy with the Grill experience.

    Finally, all I really wanted to say in my initial post was that I like Vin quite a bit and ate a real good pork belly there the other night, and I recommend the bellies to the readers.

  11. I will say that what Ben Barker does at Magnolia Grill is far more creative and adventurous. The flavors are much more complex . . .

    You know more than me, so I suppose you are right.

    But, I've eaten at both places many many times, and, though I would certainly pick Magnolia Grill over Vin if I had to select one over the other for my last meal, it would not be because I thought that the food was more creative or adventurous at Magnolia Grill.

    I can understand the words "creative" and "adventurous" when used in the sense of, "the food that Ferran Adria serve at El Bulli is creative and adventurous." I don't see the food of Ben Barker being creative or adventurous in the same way.

    Also, though I am sure I show my ignorance, I hate phrases like, "the flavors are much more complex." They are meaningless to me and make me feel like there must be something really "complex" that I just don't understand, sort of like calculus. What's so complicated about steak with a cabernet oyster sauce?

  12. Not a fair comparison really, but, just looking a relative "riskiness," I don't see either place as being particularly innovative. (Though I must say, looking at these menus makes me hungry.)



    Lobster Salad with Melon and Thai Mango Dressing

    Glazed Oysters with Leeks, Zucchini Pearls and Osetra Caviar

    Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Toy Box Tomatoes and Zucchini

    Corn and Arugula Salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Tomato Vinaigrette

    Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms and Lemon Soy Dressing

    Warm Lamb's Tongue Salad with Saffron Potatoes and Honey-Lavender Vinaigrette

    Heirloom Tomatoes with Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Balsamic Glaze

    Seared Foie Gras, Caramelized Red Onions, Figs and Huckleberries

    Warm Quail Salad with Potato Cannoli and Champagne Grapes

    House Cured Duck Prosciutto with Torchon of Foie Gras

    Lobster and Corn Bisque with Maitake Mushrooms

    Fish, Seafood and Shellfish

    Horseradish Crusted Salmon Medallion with Dilled Cucumbers

    Roast Maine Lobster with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Edamame and Tarragon

    Seared Sea Scallops with Leek Purèe, Tomato Fondue, Saffron Sauce and Mustard Oil

    Pancetta Wrapped Frog Legs with Sunchoke Garlic Purèe, Potato, Lentils and Parsley Sauce

    Branzino Sea Bass with Braised Fennel, Picholine Olives, Preserved Lemons and Socca

    Seared Tuna with Warm Bean Salad, Butter Poached Cucumbers and Orange Oil

    Chickpea Crusted Black Grouper with Roasted Tomatoes, and Corn

    Meat and Game Birds

    Lemon Herb Duck Breast with Plum Compote

    Moroccan Spiced Squab with Chermoula, Orange-Cumin Carrots

    Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb with Potato Gratin, Roasted Beets and Fennel

    Sautèed Guinea Hen Breast, Confit Leg with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Corn

    Pan Roasted Quail Stuffed with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Port Glazed Figs

    Beef Medallion with Orzo Risotto, Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Chutney



    Organic lettuces with fresh herbs, verjus and Parmagiano Regianno 6_

    Roasted red and gold beets with Laura Chenel goat cheese, baby beet greens and Minus Eight vinegar 9_

    Warm Maine lobster with herb salad and drawn butter 15_

    48-hour Niman Ranch fresh bacon with roasted local sweet potatoes and rosemary jus 11_

    Crispy wolf fish tacos with marinated red cabbage, roasted chili crema and grilled tortillas 10_


    Lobster consommé with seafood quenelle 9_

    Prince Edward Island mussels with broccoli raab and roasted garlic 12_

    Arborio risotto with roasted plum tomatoes app 11_ entree 16_


    Niman Ranch pork tenderloin with Brussels sproutpotato gratin and organic baby carrots 21_

    Poussin three ways with foie gras cornbread pudding, braised Winesap apples and local cider jus 31_

    Angus bone-in petite filet with organic arugula, crushed Yukon gold potatoes and roasted red onions 29_

    Pan-seared NC wild striped bass with Mountain Hedgehog mushrooms, corn, black truffle and lemon 24_

    Braised Wagyu shortribs with creamed spinach and soft polenta 27_

    In contrast, what we ate at Akelare awhile back:

    · Fava beans and broad bean salad under mint snow

    · Lentils and wild mushrooms “Irish coffee” with germen and Phycoidee glacial)

    · Rice with snails and periwinkles in tomato and basil film

    · Grilled sole with citrus fruits and fresh asparagus

    · Glazed mallard with garden roots and vanilla

    · Toasted milk cream, strawberries in pink pepper, red must and grape verjuice dices

    · Nuts, lemon and cinnamon in crispy equilibrium

  13. Point taken. Although:

    1. This was just one small item on their menu.

    2. Personally, pork bellies are risky enough for me. I know that you are partial to pork snouts, but you have to admit that you are a bit indiosyncratic.

    PS: I really don't have the food vocabulary to debate "riskiness" in food preparation (and I'd be hard-pressed to even offer a definition), but I have eaten at quite a few places over the years, and I have never thought that Vin was particularly conservative in its food preparation. For example, I don't think that food served at Vin is any less risky than food served at Magnolia Grill in Durham. For that matter, taking a broader perspective, I don't think that, for example, the food at Danko in SF is any more adventurous than the food at Vin. Now, the food we were served a year or so ago at Akelare in San Sebastian was adventurous, and I think it would be outstanding if Raleigh were to somehow attract such a restaurant. Unfortunately, in my experience, what I would consider to be truly risk taking food is very hard to find, and, in most cities, we probably have to be satisfied with a different definition of riskiness.

  14. Everytime I go to Vin, I leave happy. We recently had another great meal there. If you go anytime soon, try the following appetizer:

    48-hour Niman Ranch fresh bacon with roasted

    local sweet potatoes and rosemary jus 11_

    It wasn't much to look at, but was just awesome. About a 2-3 inch think piece of "bacon" accompanied with the sweet taste of seet potatoes. I say "bacon" because, after getting a credit card receipt that described it as "pork belly," I confirmed that is a more accurate, though less appetizing, description.

  15. I was the person who used the phrase "Food Morons" and I stand by it. . . . I'll give you an example of how dumb people are. . . . [A]ll the customers ate pastrami cold with mayo despite his attempts to teach them that it really wasn't the way to eat the stuff. . . . So if people can't even learn how to eat pastrami on rye - how do you expect them to learn to eat things that are more sophisticated?

    Not to be obnoxious or to bring up old debates that have been re-hashed hundreds of times, but I really disagree with concepts such as there being a "right" way to eat a pastrami sandwich. Likewise, I disagree with the idea that Southerners are "morons" who need to be taught how to eat. If there are fewer per capita fancy restaurants in the South than in the Northeast, I suspect it has to do with factors such as those suggested by Varmint, not some inherent stupidity on the part of people born south of the Mason-Dixon.

  16. That looks real good, and I just happen to have to make something this weekend.

    McCord: will I be able to buy goat's milk at Wellspring?

    Also, I am not a cook, but I can follow directions. I see directions for all, but what about the "candied pepitas"?


    PS: If you have the tamal recipe, that would be cool too. Thx

  17. So, I posted this inquiry in another thread, but it was the wrong thread, so it was deleted before I had a chance to read the responses.

    Here is the question.

    I enjoy it when people post photos of their meals at restaurants. However, I never feel comfortable pulling out my camera in a restaurant, so I do not reciprocate.

    Anyone have any thoughts about restaurant photography etiquette?

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