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Will

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  1. Well, for one, they're widely available, not too fussy, and allow viewing of the leaves. But secondly, even with the leaves on top, the device still allows you to separate the leaves and the water (once some water has been poured out). I'm not suggesting it's unique (obviously, other brewing devices can also allow this). I mentioned before that this is not really a preferred method of tea brewing for me, but I think if you're going to use a French press to brew tea (as many shops seem to do, whether because they already have one or because they think it's stylish), this would be the way to do it.
  2. I got a set for my folks' house, and I think it's great for the price.
  3. I also don't love the "French press for tea brewing" thing, but one suggestion I saw recently that was really good is to put the leaf on *top* of the press portion. That serves two functions -- 1, makes it easier to take the leaf out of contact with the water, and 2, prevents the user from actually pressing on the tea leaves.
  4. Yeah, I think loose leaf is basically a given in a case like this. And definitely offer loose tea and good teaware for sale in addition to serving it at the shop.
  5. I think tea service in a setting like that is just tricky to do right. Tea has a lot of variables (and a lot of personal preference) in terms of how it can be made. I would start with figuring out your approach to water. Good water is very important to tea -- that includes the water itself, as well as how it's heated. A good spring water with not too high TDS would be ideal, but I understand that's not practical in most shop settings, so I'd say an industrial strength carbon filter system (not RO) would be ideal. If you can use some Zojirushi water boilers and some smaller electric kettles, this will probably give better results than most industrial strength boilers like a Bunn or something. Education is the other thing - there are a lot of people with good experience in preparing coffee, but with tea, you'll need to educate your staff on a continuing basis. While I'm not a fan of the "scientific" approach to tea making in my own tea brewing, I think it's important for consistency in this kind of setting. That is, X grams of tea (using weight is far preferable for tea than volume), water at X temperature, steep for X amount of time (or, alternatively, for this last parameter, give the customer a recommendation of when to pour, but give them the ability to choose when to pour the tea, so that they can control the strength). With the teaware, I'd say try not to get super fussy, but I would suggest white porcelain for the drinking vessel, and either porcelain or glass for the brewing vessel. If you don't have a lot of experience choosing tea, I'd get some help in terms of finding suppliers and choosing the actual teas.
  6. Will

    Where to eat in Austin TX?

    Yeah, Paul Qui's current truck is called East Side Kings; there are a few different locations. I went recently, and the food was excellent (price is not the cheapest and portions are small, but certainly falls within the constraints mentioned above). Lots of great food trucks around, and most of them are clustered in little semi-permanent "trailer parks". I think most of the food I had from the trucks there was good to excellent, and I like the way the city has really helped to encourage, rather than stifle the whole food truck thing. I live in LA where the whole upscale food truck thing seemed to start taking off, but really, most of the trucks here aren't very good, and the city really doesn't do a lot to make it easier for them to operate. In contrast, Austin has really done a great job of creating an ecosystem where the barrier to entry isn't bad, and there's enough competition that the quality of the food seems to be fairly good. If you've got the money, would really also suggest Uchiko / Uchi, the restaurant run by his former mentor. But definitely far above the price range you're talking about.
  7. I think the way has been alluded to several times -- a lot of practice / know-how. The specific composition of the dough isn't as important as that. The reason more people can't do it (myself included) is because they haven't spent the time to master the skill, which is not easy. And to be honest, most people don't need to know how to make these at home. Personally, I usually just go out if I'm craving handmade noodles, but more rustic hand-cut ones are fine in a pinch too.
  8. Overall, 00 flour isn't especially high-gluten, is it?
  9. So, looking at the description again, this is a riff on a dish from a contemporary restaurant on the outskirts of Taipei; the dish is definitely "fusion". The original dish it's based on was fresh tofu with uni (sea urchin) on top, soy sauce, a hint of wasabi, and a wedge of avocado. Whatever the origin, the dish is pretty tasty. She has the more usual variant with soy sauce, green onion, sesame oil (and optional pidan) on the previous page (41).
  10. The portable butane ones that run of canisters work pretty well, and can be bought fairly cheaply at Asian supermarkets. But I think some of the ~ $70 induction burners are also supposed to be decent, assuming your cookware's induction capable.
  11. Not mind-blowing to me - the whisky taste didn't really come through that strongly, and the bitter-sweet / spice flavors of the Gran Classico and vermouth were a bit strong. I'm not the biggest Negroni fan to start with, though, so maybe I'm not the best person to comment. I did enjoy this more than a standard Negroni, because the bitterness was a little more balanced.
  12. I was seated at a table, so I didn't watch it being made, but guessing you could make it as you'd make a Negroni, so 1:1:1 might not be a bad starting point. I'm guessing that's a nerdy enough question that one of the bartenders might answer if you give them a call. Here's an article with a bit more about the drinks there. http://www.lamag.com/lafood/digestblog/2013/01/17/hinoki-and-the-bird-cocktails-sam-ross-david-myers-century-city I'm a bit skeptical about the suggestion that "Tokyo cocktail style" would be more of a fresh program - most of the cocktail bars I know about in Tokyo are much more focused on classics and solid execution than fresh / seasonal ingredients.
  13. Foil-lined wok , with the food on top of chopsticks going across the top, works pretty well for me.
  14. btw, a restaurant here in LA has an entire section of negroni variations on their cocktail menu. http://hinokiandthebird.com/wine-list/ Classic Negroni Gin, sweet vermouth & Campari, rocks, orange twist White Negroni Amère sauvage (bitter gentian), bianco vermouth, rocks, grapefruit twist Harajuku Hakushu Single Malt Whiskey, Gran Classico, Maurin Quina & Chocolate bitters Kingston Negroni Smith + Cross Jamaican Rum, Gran Classico, sweet vermouth, rocks, orange twist I tried the Harajuku recently; I wasn't blown away, but it was definitely interesting and had potential.
  15. Will

    Ideas for a vegetarian feast

    Yes and no. Yes, the food has to taste good, but your friendly neighborhood vegetable curry won't cut it for the feel of these meals. The standard for these feasts is five to six courses (including cheese and sorbet interludes). The things mentioned in the original post are not meant to be all implemented (or indeed any of them), it's just what was in my head when I wrote the post. But I have to find some idea to develop the menu around. I think there is a wide area between "your friendly neighborhood vegetable curry" and "Pressure-cooked mustard seeds" as "caviar" (though I think there are fine-dining places which manage to make SE Asian style curries that are both beautiful and refined tasting). My point is just that you don't have to use molecular gastronomy techniques to make nice looking and good tasting vegetarian or vegan food. Focusing too much on being clever can take focus away from the more central point, which IMHO should be imparting richness, complexity, and depth of flavor. Playfulness is important too, but only once the fundamentals are there. BTW, some of Great Chefs Cook Vegan is available in Google Books and in the Amazon preview. While a lot of the stuff in here is not practical to make for a weeknight dinner at home, I think the ideas in it really do help a lot with techniques you might use for the kind of cooking you're talking about. There is also a Kindle edition, though I'm not sure how well the photos translate from the print edition, which is gorgeous. You might also have a look at the Dirty Candy cookbook. One other comment, from someone who's eaten a lot of vegetarian / vegan tasting menus ... compared to something with meat, you may want to use slightly larger portions and / or make sure to include a starchy component (rice, grains, spaetzle, pasta, whatever) with at least one of the courses. I would do a test run and make sure that an average person will leave feeling satisfied, though not stuffed.
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