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Everything posted by plax

  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
  16. We love Jaxson's, especially as it is only a few minutes from the house. The lines are terrible, though, particularly on weekends. As we're driving home, we make a point of looking at the restaurant and saying, "Look at the line!" The next time we go, though, I'll ask about the Coca-Cola thing... never noticed it myself. Good to hear the report on Billy's, which is just across the Intracoastal from us. Have been down to Joe's but never over there. Neil
  17. I'd like to add a reference to what MFK Fisher said, that writing about food is really writing about our appetites, for all kinds of things, including love. (Forgive the mangled quote, MFK.) For me, the best food writing connects to those appetites, makes me see something beyond just the ingredients or the mode of preparation. Maybe I approach this differently, as a writer much more than a cook or gourmet, but I do think Ms. Fisher was on to something. Neil
  18. I just caught up with this thread now and was amazed to see all my IKEA kitchen stuff here! I bought a couple of their regular pots when they first opened in NJ many years ago, and they're still going strong. I also bought that set of 12 glasses with the horizontal lines one year because we were having 12 for dinner and my SO wanted matching glasses. I'm going to Philly in a couple of weeks & making a trip there & to Sur La Table-- can't wait!
  19. plax

    TDG: Burn, Baby, Burn

    I've been baking cheesecakes since I was a teenager, and by the time I was in my late twenties I really thought I knew the recipe by heart. I was visiting friends who were sailing their motor yacht around the Abacos for the winter, and they said they'd really love one of my home-made cheesecakes. So we walked to the one grocery in Marsh Harbour-- the main town of the Abacos, the one with the traffic light-- and bought all the ingredients, including a springform pan. (Probably the only one available in the Abacos at the time.) I thought I remembered baking powder in the recipe, so added it. Unfortunately, there was no baking powder in the recipe, and none needed. The cake blossomed in their galley oven, growing and growing like a character out of Alice in Wonderland. We finally realized and pulled it out, but by then it had gotten into the broiler element, spilled out of the pan and made a huge mess of the oven. They told me that years later, when they prepared the boat to be sold, they were still picking cheesecake out of the element. Neil
  20. I've been to the Cours Saleya in Nice on many occasions (though not in the last ten years or so), and it is a fabulous market. But how can you fail, a block inland from the Mediterranean? I remember in particular those wonderful little Cavaillon melons, piles of ruby-red cherries, and the adjacent fish market.
  21. Wow! It was fun to see this thread, which somehow I missed when it started. We used to go to the Mastoris Diner all the time when I was a kid; our next-door neighbors were Greek-Americans, and owned their own diner, the Starlite, in Levittown, PA. Then, the girl next door, Peggy Pappas, married Alex Mastoris, so the place has even more sentimental value to me. I'm glad to see people are appreciating it!
  22. I have had similar difficulty in finding the E. Guittard line in South Florida-- last year there was even a rep at the SoBe Food and Wine Fest, and I asked where I could buy their super size chips-- and he said there was no retail outlet anywhere here. He suggested I buy from the website. I only had to point outside and ask how the chocolate would hold up in the Florida heat. I'm resigned to only ordering chocolate by mail or web from November to February. Neil
  23. Bond Girl and I will be meeting up at this weekend's SoBe Wine and Food Festival, and then writing about it for the Daily Gullet. Anyone else going? Neil
  24. Well, I'm stepping out on a dangerous limb here... but I kind of like Dweezil and Lisa. They don't pretend to be anything more than people who really love food, and they have a cool opportunity to explore that. At my house, we loved the Two Fat Ladies and wish the one surviving one would find a new fat friend and start cooking again. Based on Mario's current show, I have been trying different pastries at my local Italian bakery, so I think that's a good thing. I try to watch Follow That Food when I can, and I also enjoy Rachael Ray's $40 a day show. Neil
  25. Wow! I too grew up going to Roman Hall in Chambersburg-- I had no idea it was still in business. It's what Italian food was to me as a kid. Thanks for the nostalgia hit! And for all the current recommendations-- I grew up in Yardley & still get back there occasionally. Neil
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