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Everything posted by tomdarch

  1. Yep. I'm pretty sure that Tom and Patty will be happy to sell you some nice salt without any yammering. (I mean, they're very nice, and they'll talk to you, but they won't unnecessarily yammer about mixed feelings about selling you a responsible amount of salt...)
  2. After being repulsed by the promos, I stumbled across the actual show, and I was.... amused. I don't have much of an expectation that a useful cooking show would be shown on FoodTV/Cooking, so as a piece of entertainment, I liked it. The show is clearly having fun with itself - good, silly fun. Most importantly, for the sake of eGullet - I didn't think it was worth several pages of discussion either way. I guess that it succeeded in stirring some passions.
  3. How "cooked" is the end result? My guess is that these short times are leaving the veggies hot but crunchy - is that about right? (The end result looks/sounds great!)
  4. By subtle, I don't mean bland. I mean restrained. If there's ginger...just a hint etc. The amuse should awaken the palate gently so as to not overshadow what is to come. Spicy stuff, to me, is to be avoided eg smoked paprika would be as far as I'd want go in that direction. I recently had as an amuse a demitasse of a rich mushroom soup spiked with a hint of lemongrass. Lovely but not bold in the way I think of "bold" . It depends a lot on what's going to follow. (I guess if an amuse is going to be perceived as a stand alone app then it's a totally different story) When Shawn McClain was opening Green Zebra, the amuses ranged from semi bold (garam masala popcorn) to very subtle/simple, like very lightly salted steamed edamame - but that's because the dishes to follow were exceptionally subtle. One of my favorites I've made at home was a rosemary fresh green apple juice (it was out a book of amuses, but it was from the library and I can't remember the title or author.) In contrast, an amuse that's going to be followed by big fireworks should probably be pretty bold, and get the party started - get that chipotle mayo and sherry vinegar in there and top it with tempura crumbs for crunch! Kablooey! (Don't forget that instructors/professors sometimes create lousy problems/assignments. A "black box" of ingredients and a limited amount of time makes for good TV ratings, and can be a good challenge once in a while, but I'm skeptical that doing that sort of thing more than once in a while is really going to teach students a great deal. Then again, I'm not a professional cook!)
  5. wow.... that many pages WITHOUT pastry. In all the buildup to this book, I just assumed that anything this massive and extensive would include, well, everything. I can't wait to see this monstrosity! I'll be celebrating my 40th by giving ChefG 2x the price of this set (well, I'll be eating and drinking one set's worth, and the lovely wife the other set's worth), so it will be some time before I can seriously consider springing for this. I've been tempted to start figuring out who at the Chicago Public Library I should harass to make sure they get a set for the reference collection.
  6. Given the Corialis effect (different directions of stir depending on which side of the equator you're on), what do they do on risotto pirate ships when they are near or at the equator? (I mean, in addition to the things typical sailors do at the equator ) After risking their lives to steal the finest rice, they must have a special technique - maybe it's something like the "spoon in the center, stir outwards" technique? Probably a major risotto pirate secret - if we ever found out, we'd be beaten to death with a pirate's dual-use pegleg/spurtle...
  7. What you're describing sounds more like the bones having high thermal mass, rather than being a good thermal insulator. It's possible for bone to be both. Either would be an issue when SVing. For SV marrow, are you SVing long pieces of bone, or are you cutting the bones into "disks" to make them easier to bag? It would probably be overkill, but the "best of both worlds" approach that came to mind would be to cut the bones, remove the marrow, SV the marrow, oven roast the bones, and then re-assemble. Probably crazy outside of the French Laundry or Alinea's kitchens...
  8. When you add categories to the list of "things that NYC isn't best at" such as: Mexican, barbecue (of any style), "best dining under us$100 per person", etc. doesn't that lead you to question if NYC is actually the "best" overall? Sure, if you want to blow as much money as possible regardless of the actual quality of the food to show off then NY might beat LA and Las Vegas. Also, NYC clearly has the best NY style pizza in the world. Overall, as the center of media in the US, the NY scene is certainly the best scene in the US at telling everyone (including themselves) how great their own scene is. But, uh, does that really make NYC the best dining city in the US? If your definition of "best dining city" is "biggest variety of restaurants at any price point" then, yes, I'll give you NYC as "best." But there's more to the story about Alinea, Moto, etc. being in Chicago. It isn't just about "molecular gastronomy". Along with Alinea, Charlie Trotter's, Topolobombo and a bunch of other amazing restaurants were "incubated" in Chicago. For financial and "hype" reasons, Achatz, Trotter, Bayless and others couldn't have gotten started in NY, and there aren't many other communities in the US that would support the various kinds of sophisticated cuisines that they developed. At the same time, you'll notice that Spago came and went here, and that there are no pop-media-"chef" restaurants here (e.g. Bobby Flay). I'd argue that Chicago rewards quality and turns it's nose up at bull... er, baloney. Whether Chicago or NYC is at the top of the list would be a long, drawn out, not terribly useful argument. Regardless, we have the top 2 spots on this "top 10 list" filled. I'm a big fan of Toronto. San Francisco (and environs) would have to rank pretty high. Where else?
  9. With the Aria hotel opening in the CityCenter development, I'm very interested to hear about Sage. I'm a huge fan of Shawn McClain's restaurants in Chicago - specifically Green Zebra and Custom House. (Plus, McClain was Grant Achatz's predecessor at Trio) The description of Sage makes it sound like a "best of" his places in Chicago, so I've got pretty high hopes. I don't think I'll be out to Vegas anytime soon, but I'll be interested to hear if anyone makes it there and what they think.
  10. Oh man ... I can't help but think of .... SOLENT GREEN!
  11. So this is driven by some prosecutor filing suits against sellers of dragees... It sounds like everyone just buckles and settles in the face of his suits. Based on the little bit of research I just did on silver toxicity make me think that someone needs to call his bluff, go to court and force this guy to put up or shut up. When you consider that lots of idio... er, I mean fine people with alternative beliefs consume "colloidal silver" preparations (aka "snake oil"), it doesn't seem that ingested silver is particularly harmful. The main effect of consuming very large quantities of silver is called "argyria" - it turns your fingernails and skin "ashen gray" or bluish. There are lots of examples of people consuming enough silver to color their whole bodies blue-gray, but no other specific harm. Lots of places sell this "colloidal silver" stuff and (worse) devices that use an electical charge to pull atoms off a pice of silver into water, which is then drunk (worse because I suspect that it is very difficult to control the amount of silver that gets into the water...) Anyway, the FDA doesn't stop companies from selling this cra.. er, these fine products - rather the FDA insists that they not make unproven health claims (which translates to prohibiting any claims of health benefit). There are a few documents that turn up when you search for "silver toxicity humans". One of them is from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As a nuclear weapons lab, they know quite a bit about toxic substances. Their document really doesn't point to much harm from silver beyond argyria. Yes, inhaling lots of silver dust will harm your lungs, and putting silver solutions in your eyes will inflame them. But beyond those examples of acute exposure, the document didn't point out any particular harm. So, the FDA has decided to allow the sale of silver solutions that they know people are intentionally drinking, but this prosecutor has decided to go on some sort of crusade against cake decorations. I rather doubt that if he had to go to court and prove that dragees present a real danger, he get very far.
  12. Just so we're clear on things, there are actual allergies, and then there are other things that someone may "react badly to." An allergy is an excessive activation of a person's immune system (by a specific antigen) triggered by a normally harmless environmental substance. That's it. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy. Food that gives you a stomach ache or nausea is not an allergy, and so on. Various people have various other reactions to various foods, and these could be called "an intolerance" or "a reaction", but they are not allergies. A homeopath telling you that you are "allergic" to apples has about as much (maybe less) scientific or medical weight as saying that apples conflict with your star sign. Is it possible that the long list of foods causes this person's body to overproduce Immunoglobulin E? Yes, it's possible, but it's very, very unlikely. On the other hand, if this person chooses to not eat all those things, it's probably a good thing that she is being upfront and clear about them, and it's a good thing that she's telling you ahead of time, rather than when she's sitting at the table. It's just irritating that these preferences are probably being mis-represented as "allergies."
  13. Hmmm... Maybe I should test your claim with field observation to see if I can replicate your results!
  14. I can't say I know for sure, but my guess is that the answer to your question is the answer to a broader question, "We recently did actual testing and realized that the way we were taught to do things wasn't based on any good reason - So why were we doing things that way?" The answer is: tradition. (The other factor is that Keller has a relatively insane food budget. I don't mean that he's wasteful - it's just that he doesn't have the kind of budget "stress" that would drive that kind of re-thinking.) My guess is that Keller didn't know what Dr. M has figured out and tested - the fat doesn't/can't penetrate the meat.
  15. I'd say to anyone who has the Alinea book but isn't really cooking out of it - make the "cheese and crackers" dish! It doesn't take any funny ingredients, just a way to squirt the cheese into the crackers (like a squirt bottle), and the result is really delicious. Especially as a holiday/party appetizer or buffet food, it's great. About the Tomato dish - reading those pages and mentally working out the logistics on that dish made me realize that there are a few dishes in the book that really require a team of people to make them happen. In part, there are all the components to prepare ahead of service, but the real kicker is plating - to put together more than one or two of those at once, I really think you need a few people working together. I'm very interested to see how/if Carol at alineaathome or the guy at alineaphile deal with those mega-dishes.
  16. tomdarch

    Mince Pies

    I haven't made mince pie yet, but I'm tempted. Looking at some recipes, most call for apples. Having recently been experimenting with quince, and thinking that mince pie is a bit "old fashioned", I suspect that the hard-to-describe-but-apple-like flavor of quince would be a great addition.
  17. Yep! I went through the book to put together a "shopping list" and came up with something like 22 different hydrocolids and texture modifiers, plus 6 different "sugars", and a few odd things like ice cream stabilizer and "UltraSperse 3" for making films. What I've done is flip back and forth between recipes to pick out a few that use a specific set of these "unique" ingredients to limit what I've had to buy. Out of all these molecular ingredients, I have actually used citric acid in a couple of dishes to boost the tartness or balance against sweetness.
  18. I went over the weekend and it was kinda nice. I have the disadvantage of having been to lots of public markets, and doesn't compare to what you find in most non-US first world countries. That said, our summer, outdoor markets are getting pretty good, but a year-round, indoor market space has been sorely lacking in Chicago. There was a big crowd around Pastoral (wine, cheese, bread), so I didn't look too closely. There were a couple more nice looking places selling meats and cheeses. There were several stalls with produce and a florist. In terms of - I'm not sure what the ideal term is for this - "food the folks at the stall cook for you", we had some really yummy crepes from Flip Crepes. We also saw (and smelled!) some nice looking tacos at Buen Apetito and Vietnamese at Saigon Sisters. The requisite cafe slot is held by Lavazza. Sadly, the folks at Frietkoten didn't seem to be up and slinging frites yet. I was all set to get their smallest serving with curry ketchup and some sort of mayonnaise-based sauce - but it was not to be - well, there's an excuse to go back again. Additionally, there are a patisserie and a chocolatier, some additional bakeries, some crafty stuff, popcorn and at least one soon-to-open smoothie stall. When the closest thing to a "chain" or franchise is Lavazza, that's pretty good. It isn't on my normal commute, so I won't be a regular there, but it's in the commuter train station that serves the well-to-do northern suburbs, so a fair number of those folks will be stopping in for produce, cheese and similar. The pace of condoization in the area has slowed significantly, so I don't know how many people will be living within walking distance. All-in-all, it's a nice start for Chicago - let's hope it leads eventually to something more like the St. Lawrence market in Toronto.
  19. Typically, I see jamaica in a good sized bag of flowers, for a few bucks a bag. I'm guessing you've gone through those bags and there aren't many per bag that would work for you? The only alternative to sorting that comes to mind - would it be possible for you to source flowers in volume when they are in season and dry the flowers yourself? Given that you're drying them, you may be able to get them when they're past what's salable by florists? I'd like to second the idea that jamaica pairs with margarita flavors. I made some jamaica sorbet and it seemed to benefit from some fresh lime juice. From there a little tequila to, uh, help the texture while freezing (yeah, that's the ticket!) seemed like a natural move. The result was great.
  20. I keep imagining someone looking at a food label with "maltodexterin, Ultra-Tex 8 and carrageenan" and being horrified at the "chemicals", then buying a food with "tapioca starches and seaweed extract" thinking they're eating "natural" food. Just remember that your food is full of the scary "chemical" dihydrogen oxide, and that 100% of cancer deaths showed evidence of dihydrogen oxide in the body!
  21. Has anyone noticed that the book is basically sold out? (Amazon, Borders and other on-line sellers are showing it out of stock!)
  22. Hey - dinner at Alinea would simply be like a cherry on top of any visit to Chicago - you should be so lucky! FYI - you don't "need" an anti-griddle - a baking sheet on a block of dry ice should do the trick! But, yes, scale up the dishes! The wagyu cap with melon looks totally adaptable (albeit with a cheaper version of the cut!) and I'm planning on scaling up the pork belly with barbecue tuile and doing the duck/banana soup with larger portions of duck. On Alinea at Home and Alineaphile, they've both used excess components/ingredients in some great looking alternative dishes. But with the three teenagers - if you could get a good couple of day's kitchen labor out of them, you could probably get a enough dishes together at the same time to make a decent meal!
  23. Cool - I was looking at the salsify "dish". I made a test batch of the "lemon pudding" from that dish. Technically, it worked really well (stiff agar agar gel, that's blender blasted to a "pudding") Several comments, though: I made 1/3 of the full recipe and ended up with something like 6-8 ounces of final product. Given that the lemon pudding is "dotted" in the final plating, I'd suggest making a 1/4 (25%) batch for 8 or fewer servings. (The lower limit is a function of how little gel you can get your blender to blend properly - with my Vita Prep, I realized that lots of "tamper" action was crucial to getting the stuff to blend!) Also, the full batch calls for 2g of saffron. One problem is that 2g runs something like US$20!!! The other is that with good quality saffron, that much will give you a saffron pudding with a hint of lemon, not lemon pudding with a hint of saffron. I used about half as much as was called for, of dubious quality saffron, and it the saffron flavor was almost overwhelming. Lastly, if you're super picky about plating, put the agar pudding on the plate as late as possible, it leaches water slightly.
  24. I only half remember it, but there was a piece in the Chicago Tribune a few weeks ago about Keller (and tangentially about the book, I think.) My impression is very much that the PR approach currently is selling the story (particularly his relationship with his father) first and foremost, and the book is secondary. The market of "people with fathers" is somewhat larger than "people who know who Thomas Keller is and are interested in yet another one of his cookbooks." (I hope that doesn't sound too snarky - Ad Hoc at Home is at the top of my Christmas wish list, despite that fact that it encouraged me to get a Vita Prep 3... cart before the horse, anyone? )
  25. The only "yuzu juice" I've been able to find in person has been the salty "sauce". I'd second the suggestion that Meyer lemon is the closest substitution. If you really want yuzu, they are available in the states. Check Japanese markets like Mitsuwa. From some time around November through some time around January, you can order them from the nice folks at Ripe to You. They aren't cheap, but it's the real thing.
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