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Everything posted by plax

  1. Went to the Cold Stone in Boca yesterday and got the peanut butter whatever... chocolate ice cream mixed with Reese's cups and chocolate syrup. It was pretty good. A Farrell's at the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, near where I grew up, opened when I was in high school. A girl I knew, Sharman, was a waitress there and she said if you said it was your birthday you got a free ice cream. So my friends Mary Lou and Karen and I went there and we all said it was our birthday, and Sharman brought us all free sundaes. But she hadn't told us that they rang bells, sounded sirens and sang for you (I think Farrell's was one of the first places that did this.) I still remember this clutch of waiters and waitresses standing around us singing, "Happy Birthday, Karen, Mary Lou and Neil." Needless to say we were mortified, feeling that the whole restaurant knew we were scamming them. Neil
  2. My number is lucky 13. I want to add a vote for Steak N Shake, which just came to south Florida recently (a welcome addition.) We also have a local chain called Char Hut, which makes a great burger.
  3. I spent five years building restaurants, fast food operations & retail stores in shopping malls, and I also was surprised that they missed some of the drama of construction-- where's my equipment? The grease trap isn't in the right place! These are the wrong chairs! etc. I have seen places built in this sort of fast-track manner, and I think part of the reason why it seems unrealistic is that they edited so much out. Maybe the next reality show can be "Building the Restaurant." I'm sure they could get six hours worth of drama out of that! And I agree about the camera crew tracking the staff as they get the call saying "You've got the job!" How fake was that!
  4. plax

    DQ Blizzards

    My favorite's a chocolate blizzard with Reese's peanut butter cup mixed in. And they always hold the cup upside down for you to show that the spoon doesn't fall out before handing it to you. I've noticed that our local Dairy Queen has now become Dairy En. At first I thought it was just that a few letters had fallen off, but it appears that they've broken away from the corporate pack. At least they're still selling blizzards.
  5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! When I was in college in Philadelphia, my big treat after a Sunday of studying was a roast beef hoagie and a bottle of Frank's Black Cherry Wishniak. The IBC black cherry is good but doesn't have the sentimental memories!
  6. I applied for a teaching job at the J&W in North Miami a while ago, and by incredible coincidence one of the deans there was my writing student many years ago, and he called me in for an interview. We discussed a position that seems relevant to this discussion. Apparently they have job placement counselors who double as instructors, teaching classes about work and job hunting. It sounded quite impressive, though I didn't get much in the way of detail because they weren't quite ready to hire (he'd called me in more to just say hi & catch up). I ended up getting a tenure-track position at another college so removed myself from consideration for this job, though I'd still love to adjunct in writing there sometime. Has anyone had any experience with this kind of class/placement? I'd be curious to hear more about it. Neil
  7. plax

    Ruth's Chris

    Two years ago, I took my mother and my partner (whose birthdays are a day apart) to the Ruth's Chris in Ft. Lauderdale for dinner. I think we were all quite disappointed-- the restrooms weren't clean, the service was oppressive (too many people hovering around, and then never available when you actually needed something) and the food just wasn't great enough to justify the price. So Varmint, I agree with you, the place is quite overrated, and I don't see what keeps them in business.
  8. plax

    Girl Cook

    I read an excerpt from a new novel called Girl Cook at the Random House website and thought it was something that Egulleteers might be interested in. She has some scathing things to say about Le Cordon Bleu in Paris -- that most of those in the fictional heroine's class were rich South American girls learning to cook for their husbands. Any relation to reality? Here's the link: Excerpt from Girl Cook by Hannah McCouch
  9. I went to college in Philadelphia and adored both Frog and the Commissary; I bought all their calendars and the cookbook, and still look back to them years later for recipes. The Commissary's signature carrot cake is still one of my most-demanded desserts, as is the sour cream walnut apple pie from the Fish Market. Neil
  10. I've been using Silpats and parchment interchangeably when baking cookies and haven't really noticed much difference between them. I don't much like that slimy feel of the Silpat-- never quite feel like I've gotten it clean-- but it has certainly held up and cut down on my need for boxes of parchment paper. Neil
  11. JWU=Johnson & Wales University. They have campuses around the country, including one in North Miami where I've taken a couple of their one-night "cooking with a chef" courses; I assume from the geography that Kate is at the main campus in Providence, RI.
  12. plax


    My mother and I had dinner at Craft last year, and I was incredibly impressed by the knowledge and friendliness of the staff. Our server was quite willing to help us navigate the menu-- I'd never really been to a restaurant with that kind of pick and choose small plate menu except in a tapas bar. You didn't mention the service-- were they still helpful? Or did you (being sophisticated e-gulleteers) not have too many questions? Neil
  13. We love the CF and eat there regularly, and I was so pleased by your post explaining how fresh everything is. I think the food is great-- there's just so much of it that we end up taking home half the meal in order to have cheesecake. We go early to avoid the wait. We have lunch there a lot at 11:30 or 12, or eat at 5 or 5:30 because my Picky Eater won't wait anywhere. We also found a new CF that opened in downtown Ft. Lauderdale without any fanfare, and for weeks after it opened no one knew about it and we could get in right away. Neil
  14. I've been to the CSC in Boca Raton a couple of times, and though I like the concept of mix-ins I have to agree, the ice cream itself isn't that great. I also don't like the price concept-- they charge you by the amount of the mix-in that you tell them to put in. I'd rather they just said, "Hey, here's the price per item for mix-in, and we mix as many as necessary to get the right consistency." Neil
  15. At the community college where I teach, we're making a big effort to combat plagiarism, emphasizing to students the importance of properly indicating any material that's not your own. I make a distinction between "intentional" plagiarism-- that is, finding a paper on the Internet or getting one from a fellow student and passing it off as your own-- and "unintentional" plagiarism, where a student quotes from some source but then forgets to attribute properly. When they submit their research papers to me, I make them submit copies of all their source material, so I can check for just this purpose. As far as wondering where my students' papers come from, we do regular writing exercises in the classroom so that I can compare that work to anything which is created outside the class. I haven't yet come up against a case where there's a significant difference, but I will be keeping my eyes out. I'm taking the Hartford Courant story in to class tomorrow to point out that plagiarism has consequences outside of academia. Neil
  16. I haven't been down toward the Keys in a while, but here are some of my favorites. I love Marker 88, a seafood restaurant on the Florida Bay side of US 1 at mile marker 88 (MM 0 is in Key West.) They make this Snapper Rangoon, covered with a sweet fruit topping, that's fabulous. The Islamorada Fish Company has a branch up here in Dania, but their original location is at MM 81.5. They're generally reliable for fish. The Green Turtle Inn, at the same MM, is an old reliable, too. Of course, check out Louie's Backyard in Key West, particularly at sunset. Neil
  17. If you buy juice, be careful to buy "key lime juice" not "key west lime juice" or some other marketing ploy. Key limes are actually a different fruit from the regular lime, so the juice will taste quite different. Here's an article I wrote for Saveur about key lime pie, if you're interested. Neil
  18. plax

    Culinary Schools

    I'd like to add to the idea about going to a hospitality management program rather than a cooking school. I got my MFA in creative writing at Florida International University in North Miami, which is also the home of what is supposed to be one of the best hospitality management programs in the country. For five years after my graduation, I taught writing there, and so have a lot of experience with the HM students. I was almost always impressed by them-- they were generally terrific students, very nice people (going into a very people-intensive business) and they came from all over the world. For example, there's a 2-year hospitality college in Curacao, and we got many students from there finishing their last two years. Also lots of Chinese students because (as I was told) China has no tradition of hospitality toward strangers-- they built a wall to keep people out, but now recognize that they need to improve the quality of their hospitality management. I know that they took cooking classes, but also courses in mass feeding, club management, etc. So if you are looking for a way into this field but discover that you don't want to be in the kitchen, a program like FIU or Cornell might be good. As far as money goes, FIU is pretty cheap, as a state university, particularly if you can be here for a year or so before hand in order to qualify for in-state tuition. Neil
  19. plax

    Legal Seafoods

    I have eaten at the Legal at the Boca Raton Town Center several times and have enjoyed the food. What I found interesting is their bragging about quality, how everything goes through their quality inspection in Boston. I asked specifically about the soft-shell crabs, which appeared to be from Maryland-- did they go from Baltimore to Boston to Florida? What well-traveled crabs! I never got a clear answer to that, or to whether they use local Florida fish. But all the info on the place mats is impressive. Neil
  20. A couple of weeks ago I had lunch at the Snook Inn in Marco, which is right on the water next to the marina. It was a gorgeous day and the water traffic in and out of the marina was always interesting. The food was OK; I had a grilled grouper sandwich, made even more pleasant by the location. The Bubble Room in Captiva is always a treat, a very kitschy decor with lots of Xmas decorations (bubble lights, in particular, hence the name) and terrific desserts. There's a bar in Captiva, too, whose name I've forgotten, but I remember using the men's room there. It's right behind the bar, and as you stand at the urinal you're looking out at the patrons from behind the bar through one-way mirrored glass. A very weird sensation. Neil
  21. The Fresh Market has just opened a branch in Aventura. I went there for the first time today and was impressed with the beautiful layout & merchandising, the gorgeous produce & meats. Anybody have experience with this store? They have branches in North & South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida.
  22. Hey, Rich, thanks for the recommendation, but I'm not much of a sushi fan and the Picky Eater won't touch Thai. But I'll keep it in mind if anyone asks for a good place.
  23. Funny, there is a branch of Balans on Lincoln Road in South Beach; it's where the Picky Eater and I had our first date dinner. So I guess it's pretty gay as well! Neil
  24. I think my experience of restaurants parallels that of the rest of the responses here; I can go pretty much anywhere in South Florida with my partner without attracting any unexpected reactions. There used to be a place on South Beach, just off Lincoln Road, called Jeffrey's, that was well-known as a "gay date" restaurant-- you could stare soulfully into each other's eyes, hold hands or steal the occasional kiss without raising any eyebrows. The same folks own a place called Magnum off the 79th Street Causeway that I've heard has the same ambiance, but I have not visited it. There are certainly restaurants where we've seen a primarily gay clientele, but that's been in gay-friendly neighborhoods such as South Beach and Wilton Manors. There used to be a place on US1 in WM called Nickels where we went often for brunch, and the clientele ran 50-50. But I believe it's a neighborhood thing more than anything else. Neil
  25. From the Miami Herald: Bacardi's New Visitor's Center
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