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Derek J

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Everything posted by Derek J

  1. I much preferred Fatburger to In-N-Out Burger when I was in Vegas a couple years ago.
  2. I stayed at Aria and dined at Gordon Ramsay Steak a couple years ago. GR Steak was a big disappointment. I hope I just caught them on a bad night. I got the American Wagyu beef and it was spectacular. Unfortunately, it was also basically unseasoned. I should have sent it back, but didn't want to make a fuss, so shame on me, but shame on them for not even salting the thing. I also tried the bone marrow (didn't care for it, but that's probably a personal taste issue) and the foie gras (very disappointing after having first tried a MUCH better rendition of it at Alinea the year before). My wife is a hyper-picky eater (think 3 year old on a bad day) and stuck to some side dishes that didn't sound too scary. I think she got a potato dish and mac & cheese. I tried both and neither was very good. I would consider going back to give them another chance. I may have just had bad luck. However, with so many interesting places to eat in Vegas, it will probably be years before I rotate back through. We're planning our second trip to Vegas early next year and will probably try out Ramsay's gastropub instead. As for Aria, we loved our room, but it was a little inconveniently located. Getting to the strip is a long hike through another casino. It takes a good 15 minutes of power-walking to hit the strip. I highly recommend Border Grill. The chips and salsa were the best things we ate when we were in Vegas and that isn't a criticism of the other food. The chips and salsa were just wonderful. I would really love to eat my way through their menu. Bouchon was also a highlight.
  3. I'm sorry. I wasn't clear. I know to cook until the turkey is done per a thermometer. I'm trying to figure out a ballpark cooking time so I know what time to put the bird in the oven do that it will be ready by dinner time.
  4. I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year and my wife invited a bunch more people than I expected, so I'm working with a bigger bird this year. I'm using Alton Brown's brined turkey recipe which yielded good results a couple years ago. The recipe calls for a 14 to 16 pound bird with an estimated cooking time 2-2.5 hours. I'll be using a 20 pound bird this year. How much extra cooking time should I budget for the larger bird? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  5. As a starting point, how long have you whipped your cream before giving up? What is "lots of whipping" to you? It may turn out you are not patient enough or there may be something else going on.
  6. I've found Pamela Anderson's How to Cook Without a Book invaluable as a starting point for my cooking. Among other great stuff, it covers how to sauté a chicken breast, make a pan sauce, and make a basic pasta sauce. The recipes aren't complicated and emphasize techniques. It's much less intimidating than dumping a best recipes collection from Cook's Illustrated in someone's lap. Anyway, I'd suggest showing him how to make some of the simple things in the book, then show him the book. Once he figures out he already knows how to make something from the book, it shouldn't be too scary to branch out with the other recipes.
  7. I've got a friend going to St. Louis in the next week. She's looking for something in the $30-$40 per person range. She didn't specify any particular cuisine. Any recommendations? I haven't been to St. Louis in years, so I'm out of date.
  8. I had high hopes for this show, but it is a snooze-fest. The tiresome banter between Malarky and the French guy is not entertaining. Bourdain is a shadow of his formerly edgy self. This show is fantastic on paper, but the execution is booooooring.
  9. Derek J, when I am faced with this situation I put a little of the mixture in a ramekin, and nuke it in the microwave to cook it. Then I taste it. The microwaved version will not taste exactly like the final dish, but it gets me in the ballpark for seasoning and other adjustments. Also, when seasoning eggs, my rule of thumb is one pinch of salt per raw egg. That is some damn useful advice. Thanks!
  10. It was Stonewall Kitchen EVOO.
  11. Sadly, there are no Trader Joe's in my area, nor are there any Whole Foods stores. Just another aspect of life in flyover states.
  12. I'll try to remember to check when I get home from work tonight and will post the brand later.
  13. Yes. It's normal for any good EVOO to have that olive flavor. EVOO is supposed to be from the first pressing of olive oil and if it didn't have that olive flavor I would stay away from it/don't buy it. It also should have a different hue (EVOO's tend to look more green) than regular olive oil. Thanks for this and all of the other replies! When I think of how awful and non-olive-tasting the supermarket options are, I'm pretty annoyed. You'd think they would have at least one decent oil there, but I've tried a bunch of them with consistently mediocre to bad results.
  14. I've been trying to work some more veggies into my diet and started making salads this week. I've been trying homemade vinegarettes (hope I spelled that right) and have been trying to find a decent extra-virgin olive oil. The stuff I found at my friendly neighborhood grocery store was pretty awful, so I went to the specialty kitchen store at the mall and picked up a slightly more expensive brand that they stock. It was much better than what I got at the supermarket (my salads no longer smelled like feet), but the taste was surprising. It tasted like olives. I've never noticed an olive flavor with EVOO before. Is that normal for a decent EVOO?
  15. That's awesome. I loved the original show, but can't stand the US version anymore. I would be thrilled to see some of those old ones again. I still snicker over the Oto faction (or whatever the group that wanted to destroy Morimoto was called).
  16. That's where I'm at. I bought 2 Lodge cast iron pans and the seasoning failed fairly epicly with both. I cooked a hamburger in a brand new one and it stuck to the pan so badly that scrubbing off the meat residue took off the seasoning. My project this week is stripping off the remaining seasoning from both pans and reseasoning with flax seed oil. I baked the first coat this morning. I should be able to do 2 coats per day until I'm done.
  17. I wish I'd read your post before going to the hippie store. I was filled with despair when I found every kind of oil imaginable except for flax seed. They had macadamia oil, walnut oil, almond oil, safflower oil, apricot kernel oil, rice bran oil, avocado oil, and even (I kid you not) something called "olive oil for children." Fortunately, the friendly lady at the checkout register pointed me toward the refrigerated foods section and I got my flax seed oil.
  18. My best dish from 2012 probably is a very simple slow cooker pulled pork sandwich. Basically, trim fat off some pork, toss it all in a crock pot with root beer, drain after 7-8 hours, pull the pork, mix in some barbecue sauce, reheat, and serve. Incredibly simple, but very good results.
  19. We don't have a Whole Foods, but we do have a nice hippie place with lots of grains and granolas and whatnot. I hadn't thought of checking there. Thanks for the kick in the right direction!
  20. I'm planning to reseason a couple cast iron pans. Cooks Illustrated had a note a year or so ago about how to do this by applying repeated coats of flaxseed oil and baking at high temperatures. I am having trouble finding flaxseed oil, but I can get grapeseed oil. Does anyone know if substituting grapeseed oil for flaxseed oil in this process is viable?
  21. I got a Thermapen, too! And several cookbooks (some of which I even wanted). :-)
  22. I was in Vegas last week and got to try out several restaurants. I've separately reviewed Gordon Ramsay Steak in its own thread (nutshell: disappointing and grossly expensive for the quality of the food). I'll give mini-reviews of the other places I ate here: When we got into Vegas around 9 pm, we headed out to the Strip with no real plans. We stopped at the first place that appeared to serve warm food (we were quite tired after a day of travel) and ended up at PBR (professional bull riding or something). The food was hot and that was about it. Lousy service with mediocre food in a loud environment. Pretty much exactly what you would expect going throug the door. We didn't have the energy to search for something better and accepted our fate. We grabbed lunch a couple days later at Hubert Keller's Burger Bar. The food was good. Our server appeared to have forgotten about us for quite a while (I have a great photo on my phone of my fiance putting her head down on the table in despair), but very apologetic when she discovered we were still in her section and the service was great after that. We started our planned meals with Beijing Noodle No. 9 in Ceaser's Palace. I was relying on Eating Las Vegas 2012 for a lot of my restaurant choices. They recommended the pulled noodles in tomato and egg sauce. I tried that and it was quite good, but nothing spectacular. Definitely not something I could get back home, so I enjoyed it. My fiance got chicken fried rice (she is a hyper-picky eater who believes in 6 basic food groups: chicken fried rices, pizzas, burgers, chicken strips, tacos, and candies) which was pretty bland. I would like to try a lot more of the items on the menu and would happily go back (I'm a noodle fan). My fiance was in charge of lunches, so the next "restaurant" we hit was ChickeNow at the food court in the Venetian. It claimed to have the world's best chicken tenders. They were okay for fast food. We took the monorail back toward our hotel and made the grave error of stopping at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar bar and restaurant. So, so many things wrong with this place. The hostess was wearing bikini bottoms with assless chaps. Theoretically sexy, in practice just tacky and sad. We sat for about 10 minutes before a bus boy came and took our drink orders. A waitress eventually showed up and took our food orders (we just ordered dessert). We never saw her again. Our horrible food eventually arrived. No one ever checked to see if the food was satisfactory. Still later another woman brought our check. We paid and escaped as quickly as possible. Forum rules prohibit me from honestly expressing my loathing of this restaurant. Suffice it to say I've never wanted to buy a Dixie Chick's album more than when I left Toby Keith's abomination. Next up was Gordon Ramsey Steak, reviewed elsewhere. The next day we gave Fatburger a shot. Judged strictly on a price:quality ratio, it crushed Gordon Ramsey Steak. For dinner, we had our best meal of the week at Border Grill at Mandalay Bay. The chips and salsa alone shamed everything we had at Gordon Ramsey Steak. I can't remember which entree I had (Cancun pork, maybe?). It was a solid dish. My fiance got chicken quesadillas and was pleased with them. I would love to work my way through the Border Grill menu. The only real criticism I would make is the price is high, but that's true of everywhere you go in Vegas. We grabbed lunch at the Jean Phillipe Patisserie at Aria the next day. My fiance says, "It sucked." I thought it was okay and liked her sandwich as well as my own. Their coconut gelato is excellent. They have a bunch of beautiful desserts. Our last big meal was dinner at Bouchon Bistro. We started with a crispy pork belly appetizer which was quite good (I would call it "lovely," but that just sounds pretentious). I got the Bouchon steak for dinner. It was good, but not spectacular. Once again, I was unable to resist ordering steak at a fine restaurant. Someday I'll learn that it's hard to do anything spectacular with steak and order something I can't make at home. The steak was much better seasoned than what I got at Gordon Ramsey Steak, but I could really tell the difference in the quality of the meat (no Wagyu at Bouchon). My fiance went with French fries and mac & cheese. They were both solid. Anthony Bourdain proclaimed them the best fries ever on No Reservations and I agree they were the best fries I've ever had (although fries can only climb so high on the Awesome Meter). For dessert we had the mini bouchons and the creme brulee. The mini bouchons were nicely done (a bit too bitter for my tastes, but Keller seems to like his chocolate much darker than I do) with really good presentation (they came with pumpkin ice cream, a ginger bread stick, and I think beautifully charred marshmallow on the plate). The creme brulee was quite good, but a little pricey at $12. The entire meal was well done, but I'm not sure it was worth the high sticker price (again, everything costs too much in Vegas). I would like to eat my way through Bouchon's menu if I ever win the lottery. One weird note: after taking our drink orders at the beginning of the meal, a waiter plunked down some bread and butter on our table (no serving plate) and we were left to our own devices. We didn't have bread plates. We waited a couple minutes, then figured this must be intentional, so we dug in and got crumbs everywhere. About 5 minutes later, after the table was covered in crumbs and we were nearly done with the bread, a waiter brought us bread plates. WTF? It was an odd, confusing note for a Keller restaurant. I'm not sure if the mistake was not giving us bread plates initially or giving them at the end. Or maybe at French bistros it's customary to give you a bread plate when you're done with the bread? These are mysteries that they don't prepare you for when you grow up in a fly-over state. That odd note aside, it was a fine meal and a nice end to our dining in Vegas.
  23. I ate at Gordon Ramsey Steak (hereinafter GRS) on Tuesday of last week. Sadly, it was as disappointing as it was expensive. I got a Wagyu strip steak, plus bone marrow and foie gras. The fancy fat was a mistake on my part as I was feeling a little queasy after that much gelatinous, fatty food. The pluses: the Wagyu steak was a fantastic piece of meat; the service was very good; the bearnaise sauce was excellent; the bread options were quite good. The bads: the steak was criminally underseasoned (I cook a better-tasting steak at home, albeit with a vastly inferior cut of meat) rendering the steak an overall big disappointment; the sides were not particularly good (my fiancee tried the fingerling potatoes which included "truffle chips" (IIRC) that seemed to be overcooked and dried out truffle-flavored mushroom caps); the restaurant has goon-looking floor managers constantly roaming the dining floor looking like security guards who made the dining experience somewhat uncomfortable; the foie gras was deeply disappointing (I've only had it one other time, at Alinea last year, when it was one of the most exquisite things I've ever tasted; GRS's version was charred and kind of flavorless -- it was just warm fat -- a huge drop in quality from Alinea (sure, GSR isn't trying for 3 Michelin stars, but what they did with the foie was a waste of an ingredient by comparison). The bone marrow was not "my thing" in the end, so I'm not going to criticisize the restaurant for my not liking it. It was served with a chimichurri sauce and was interesting, but occasionally gritty and not something I would order again. The mac & cheese was okay, but nothing special. We tried the toffee pudding and did not care for it, but again I put that down to my personal tastes rather than any defect in the restaurant. The meal was simply disappointing and nowhere near good enough to justify the hefty price tag.
  24. I'm going to Vegas in November and have reservations at Gordon Ramsay Steak and Bouchon. I'm very excited. Dinner for 2 at those restaurants will probably cost less combined than my solo dining experience at Alinea last year. Still planning on where else to go. I can't afford any more high end dining, so Robuchon and company will just have to wait until.
  25. I cracked this book open again over the weekend and I'm gearing up to start making some more recipes. I tried the pumpkin-gorgonzola flan last night. I'm sad to say it was pretty awful. I think that's due to two factors: (1) the dish just wasn't suited to my tastes/preferences; and (2) I probably used too much salt. The recipe just calls for S&P without any quantification. I've got a good feel for how much seasoning to use with meats, but I was at a loss as to proper seasoning for a blender full of pumpkin, eggs, and cream. The final product was just disappointing until I tried it with the sour cream as recommended. That unleashed something simply awful on my taste buds. I have much higher hopes for the next recipe I'll try on Saturday.
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