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  1. I'm really enjoying this season. So many of the cheftestants really seem like they know how to cook, and work well under pressure, too. Though I think there are still a few middle-of-the-roaders who won't be around for long, it will be fascinating to see how this season shakes out.
  2. I timed the readings I am giving for my new book specifically so that I can be in NYC for the Chocolate Show, which I have been salivating over for several years. For the average chocolate lover, how long should one allow to see everything? I'm trying to decide about squeezing the show in on Friday afternoon/early evening after some meetings and before a play, or Saturday morning, when I won't have any other commitments (but I've heard it gets really busy on Saturday.) Any advice? Neil Plakcy NYC readings listed at www.mahubooks.com
  3. My big mistake came a couple of years ago on Thanksgiving. I have a great recipe which involves brining the turkey, and I was in a hurry, so I didn't bother to carefully re-read the recipe-- which said to brine the turkey for a couple of hours, then remove it from the brine, pat it dry and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. I remembered "brine" and "overnight" and forgot all the rest. The turkey that year was quite moist-- but did not need any extra salt! The mention of green icing reminded me of something that was more a faux pas than a mistake. I make a great carrot cake, and usually decorate it with tiny orange carrots and green leaves. I must have put more than the usual amount of food coloring into the icing the time I made the cake for my big 40th birthday party. The whole afternoon, guests were walking around with green and orange teeth.
  4. I wasn't able to make it to the Food Fest this weekend, but here's a report from the Miami Herald on what went on. One of the questions that was answered was "Who has the best balls in town?" (meatballs, that is.) Neil
  5. I've been the last two years and reported on the fest for egullet; here are links to those reports. 2003 Report 2004 Report I agree, it's just too crowded. I was planning to go just one day this year, Saturday, but the tickets I have are for Sunday. Anyone want to switch? Neil
  6. Anyone else tried the new Starbucks Chantico? I was at a drive through last night waiting for my standard raspberry mocha and saw the ad. The barista told me it was a "thick, rich hot chocolate" and he was pretty correct. It was both thick and had a dark chocolate flavor, served in a fairly tiny cup-- smaller than a tall coffee. I liked it, and will probably experiment with adding a flavored shot. Neil
  7. Borders has been sending lots of email coupons lately; you might want to sign up at their website in hopes of getting a coupon that would jive with your visit. The Borders in Aventura (about a half hour north of Miami) is next door to a Linens 'N Things and down the street from a Bed Bath & Beyond. Both are large stores that often have good deals on kitchen items. Both also regularly mail out coupons & place ads in the newspaper. They don't seem to mind if the coupon is expired, either. Both Borders & Barnes & Noble have store locators at their websites, so you can see which stores might be closest to where you are staying. Look for ethnic groceries while you are here; you can find Latin specialties in the regular supermarkets as well. Have a great trip! Neil
  8. I didn't get much in the way of food gifts this year-- the odd Godiva and so on-- but did get a nice olive oil & cruet set from a colleague (last year he gave me a book of knots, so this was definitely an improvement). Also a digital scale from the BF, though I had to buy it myself and collect the cash from him, so not necessarily the most thoughful of gifts.
  9. A friend and I ate at Joe's about six weeks ago, arriving at 5:30. We were seated right away. Since the place opens at 5, it's been my experience you can get in without a wait if you are part of that first wave of diners. Of course, you have to be willing to eat at 5!
  10. When I was in college in Philadelphia, back in the 70s, a friend's parents baked him the Commissary's carrot cake for a birthday dinner (the restaurant was still in business back then) and we were all so impressed -- it took the two of them all day to make. Now I make the cake all the time myself but use a food processor to grate the carrots and skip the pecan cream filling-- as has been noted before it makes the cake just too sweet. And it's a big extra step.
  11. plax

    Beer in Hawaii

    Thanks! I've got my hero drinking these, as I found them online, but I wasn't sure they would be readily available. I appreciate the info. Neil
  12. plax

    Beer in Hawaii

    Actually, I've got a scene in the first book in the Gordon Biersch at the Aloha Tower (let's hope it stays open until the book comes out!) One of my writing professors has advised me that if anyone complains about my hero drinking a Primo in the first book and says, "They're not making that beer any more," I should say, "That's what they'd like you to think." This comment is said to work for any number of factual errors that may occur. Neil
  13. plax

    Beer in Hawaii

    I've been searching the internet and realized, duh! I could ask here on Egullet. I am a novelist writing about Hawaii while living in Florida. I want my hero to drink the occasional good beer, preferably something local. He used to drink Primo, back before it went out of business. What would he drink today? Are the Ali'i Ales available around the islands, particularly in Honolulu and on the north shore? (locations of the book I'm working on). Thanks for any advice! Neil
  14. I think it's just that the ice cream is really poor quality. At DQ, they mix the soft ice cream with the mix ins in what looks like an immersion blender (if that's the right term.) I love the mix-in idea, and had a fabulous cup at Scoop De Ville in Philadelphia recently. Cold Stone just doesn't start with a good product, IMHO. Also the signing shtick is really annoying when you are waiting for your ice cream, and the server stops to sing. I actually said, "Would you please shut up and finish my ice cream so I can get out of here?" I got a really dirty look. Needless to say, I am not going back there! Neil
  15. I was in Philadelphia this past weekend and went to TJ's three times-- twice in Center City, for all the jars of spaghetti sauce and jam that I could carry home, and for their lavender soap, which is cheap and smells good. Then I convinced my cousins to stop by the one in Marlton NJ so I could get chocolate and cookies to bring home. I'm munching on the all butter shortbread with chocolate filling as I write, watching the level of cookies go down all too quickly. My latest discovery is the buckeyes, "tasty milk chocolate with a peanut butter center." How have I lived without these so far? Neil
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