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cdh

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by cdh

  1. cdh

    Lamb cooking physics

    It was, indeed, a bone-in rack approximately 6 inches long (8 ribs). The probe, which is about 4 inches long was inserted into the center of the loin, to a depth of approximately 3 inches in, on a plane orthogonal to the bones' axis. (I think that is the right word, but my cartesian vocab is quite rusty...) edit: correction of cartesian speak
  2. cdh

    Lamb cooking physics

    I've not done side-by-side comparisons with the thermometer and any others, but it has worked fine in all other kinds of applications...In boiling water it reads 211, and in cooked pork loin it says 160... it even tells me that my melted sugar is 350 when it starts looking and smelling like nice dark caramel... But at 140 lamb is still rarer than rare beef, which is 10-15 degrees cooler. What's up with the lamb? I agree that the recommended 180 on the chart must be a misprint... but that still doesn't get the lamb off the hook for cooking differently.
  3. cdh

    Lamb cooking physics

    Since we're getting into the mechanics of cooking now, rather than just the physics of why lamb behaves as it does, here's the story that prompted the question: A rack of lamb, previously frozen, was defrosted and thrown on the grill with the probe of a Pyrex instant read digital thermometer firmly planted in the center of the meat, away from the bones. Grilling commenced, and the internal temp rose. When it got to 140F, I pulled the rack off the grill and whacked off a chop. Said chop was nearly raw in its texture and appearance. This got me thinking "Beef at 140 is never anywhere near this raw... what's up?" so did a little research. Said research (the table of donenesses that came with said Pyrex thermometer) indicated that medium rare lamb was achieved at internal temp of 180F... Huh? What is it about lamb protein that is so radically different than beef protein that it needs a full 60 Farenheit degrees more heat to acheive the same level of denatured-ness? So I posed the question here, which WHT took a stab at... Is lamb protein really more dense? (Time to bust out with a scale and a graduated cylinder...) How would the density of a protein affect the temperature at which it denatures? How would internal fat content affect the temperature at which a protein denatures? What's up with lamb flesh??? Lamb! The Amazing Asbestos Animal!
  4. cdh

    The Martini

    hmmm... I've been making a few martinis lately and have found that a 3:1 ratio of gin (or vodka) to vermouth is really quite tasty when a dash of orange bitters enters the mix as well. This is going very pre-war, I know, but I have found them to be quite delicious. And a use for the Fee's Orange Bitters I went so out of my way to acquire. And they are, at least arguably, still proper Martinis, rather than some other cocktail served in a martini glass. I've been quite pleased with Noilly Prat dry vermouth... so pleased in fact that I find it tasty when served alone on the rocks before dinner. I've been less pleased with Martini and Rossi... riding on reputation... (and don't get me started on their Rosso, which is downright vile...) When it comes to gin, I love Beefeater, and I'm pleased to see that others here corroborate my affection for Seagrams... All the while I was thinking it was nostalgia for my series of "Cheap-Gin and Tonic" parties I threw shortly after I got out of college (which featured Seagrams as the starring ingredient, and left me with lots of it to play with in my evening mixology sessions.)
  5. cdh

    Lamb cooking physics

    As everybody here, I'm sure, knows, when a cut of beef's internal temp gets to 140F, it can in no way be described as blood rare.... So... Why is it that lamb, when taken to the same temp, still manages to be almost raw and bloody? What is it about lamb protein that resists the denaturing power of heat? Do we have any food physicists who could take a whack at that question?
  6. Tony- Thanks a lot for the behind-the-scenes take on the Beard House... I'd wanted to hear a bit more of the Kitchen Confidential treatment of that place. It is a pity that the audience is so geriatric there... but the food more often than not makes up for the fact that most of the crowd were old enough to have voted for Eisenhower and Kennedy. There are a few of us young Beard people... but only a few, unfortunately...
  7. That sandwich reminds me of the cream cheese and olive sandwiches I ate as a little kid. Haven't had one of them since, probably, fourth grade... but they were good... probably fell out of the dietary habit as my mom got turned off to fat as the health craze spread across the mind of America. That really looks like a grown-up version of food I ate long ago. Now that there are better olives than just the pimento-stuffed brine-in-the-jar kind, I might have to start experimenting with that sandwich again. hmmmm...
  8. I was just thinking about the two varieties of Roses myself... To further explain the differences between the two products, the boozy one (about 3% or so, if I recall correctly) is marked "Roses Lime Cordial" while the supermarket one is marked "Roses Lime Juice". Have never done a side-by-side tasting, but have been building a curiousity about the difference. Everybody-- look in your fridge/liquor cabinet and report on whether you're using cordial or juice...
  9. cdh

    Fromage a Trois

    1) Cabrales -- thereby covering the goat/sheep/cow categories 2) Boucheron-- preferably left in the fridge to age for a month or two to maximize the thickness of the ripe part... too young and it is a little chalky. 3) That German Brie-esque thing with the mushroom bits in it. yummy. With certain St Marcellins and Castello Blue as runners up.
  10. cdh

    Searing tuna

    Have a look for the Good Eats episode where Alton Brown uses a roaringly jet-engine-afterburner hot chimney charcoal starter to get the tuna seared properly. Moral to the story is that you need huge quantities of concentrated heat to sear properly. Experiments with blowtorches might be in order if you can't get a charcoal chimney going in your cooking venue and your stove can't get your cast iron pan to glow red.
  11. Central Market still has Wegmans beat. CM has no vestigial "traditional supermarket" aspect to it like all the Wegmans I've experienced. Imagine chopping all the flourescent asiles of General Mills and Proctor and Gamble products off of a Wegmans and replacing them with more small-producer specialty type stuff, and a better fish section, and a better butcher, and much much much more developed bulk stuff section. CM is almost purely about food (though they have some stuff like soaps and vitamins and herbal supplements and such), while Wegmans is place you can go to stock up on toilet paper and toothpaste and such. What I miss about the CMs is the promotional introductions of lots of the smaller producers' stuff... they used to offer great products at excellent intro prices. Wegmans doesn't appear to be doing that. Maybe a artifact of marketing decisions... maybe they think Texans need to be given a chance to try off-the-beaten-path stuff cheap, while us sophisticated yankees will pay full price to test it. I also miss all the tastings that CM did that I've not experienced at Wegmans.
  12. And I had always thought that the British preference for "serviette" was derived from the local usage of the word "napkin" or colloquially "nappy" to mean a baby's diaper. Not something one of the "U" would desire to spread across the lap. As there are lifelong residents of the Isles in question likely to read this, I'm sure I'll either be bolstered or corrected, as is necessary.
  13. Scrapple is more of an at-home food than an order-at-diners food, as far as I'm concerned. The spicing mixture of the scrapple is the key to its flavor, and you can never tell whether a diner is using the good stuff, or the awful cardboardy flavored stuff. My favorite scrapple makers are Habbersetts' and Alderfer's. They've got the spicing right. There is also a divide in the scrapple eating population between those who like it wafer thin and fried until crunch throughout, and those (like myself) who like a 1/4 inch cut that is fried until golden and crispy on the outside and is still mushy on the inside. Yum!
  14. Actually, it is Lil' Frankie's, as I learned when the directory assistance operator could find nothing listed for Little Frankie's, which left me unable to call them when I'd wanted to. However, upon arrival, I made note of the name on the door... Lil' is the word you want to tell the operator if you're looking for their number.
  15. While spending a few months in London, I went out of my way to fly off to Piedmont to experience the truffle festival in Alba... don't know if I'd have done that while living in the US, but the cost and convenience of intra-european hops made the Alba jaunt irresistable. In choosing venues for my last serious vacation, Thai and Malaysian gastronomy certainly influenced my choices (but the seriously cheap airfare from Malaysia Air was a greater factor in the decison... that and the scuba diving)... In a more local sense, I made a 1.5 hour drive up into otherwise uninteresting Northeastern Pennsylvania on the rumor that a texan had set up a BBQ joint up there that was out of this world. (It was, but sadly didn't survive as a business.) While passing through Northern California, I happened to be there when the Gilroy Garlic Festival was going on, and had to see that... though I'd not known it was going on during the time of my visit, so it wasn't planned... I don't know that I would go more than a daytrip out of my way for a one-food-only destination... particularly one with little else to recommmend it... But find me a hidden shangri-la of epicurian delights, and I'm there for a good while... hold on, New York already is that... and not so hidden... no wonder most of my weekends are spent there.
  16. Trillium, The rumormongers who indicate that the Torani clone is a good replacement are to be found over at http://groups.msn.com/DrinkBoy ... they're a reasonably astute bunch, so if you're on the left coast, I'd see about getting my hands on some of the stuff and taste-testing it against the real thing. The DrinkBoys seem to like it pretty well. I wish they distributed it on the East Coast. As to availability from importers, who was the last importer of record? Did somebody after Remy Amerique pick it up? Did they do business on the east coast? I'd hate to have missed the opportunity to get some due to incomplete research.
  17. Indeed I am, and naive in the hopeful belief that objective evidence of subjective experiences could sway the immobile Plotnicki.
  18. As a brief postscript, a bit of googling has yeilded confirmation: 1) there is an olfactory equivalent to color blindness: anosmia http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/CHEMWEEK/Odors...s/chemorec.html 2) there is a genetic component to anosmia http://personal.ecu.edu/wuenschk/Genetics.htm So, I'm somewhat vindicated and not nearly the crackpot I might have been if my suspicion had turned out to be without any basis. That is to say that discrete populations may well have a genetic predisposition not to smell certain odors. I think that is a pretty wide open door for gastronomic relativism to walk right through. Sorry, Steve.
  19. Here, we're in total agreement. There is no way to become totally proficient in all cuisines, and admitting a lack of knowledge is a better path than hastily acquiring a veneer of knowledge, and then proceeding to make pronouncements from a learned point of view.
  20. 1) Since "bad" Dutch cuisine persists to this day, and people seem content with that state of affairs in the Netherlands, that is a sign that the Dutch don't, in fact, appreciate non-Dutch food more than they do Dutch food. 2) "Appreciate" is a problematic word when we're talking about things olfactory. Since we have no absolute measuring stick like we do with vision. We have no way to tell what an individual's subjective experience of an olfactory stimulus is. We don't have (AFAIK) an analogous test for smell that we have for color blindness... Who's to say that a degustation at (name fancy french restaurant) does, in fact, makes somebody with a dutch nose as happy as it does Plotnicki? No way to tell. 3) Inability to "appreciate" does not translate into inability to eat.
  21. Since when was I calling this difference either an "inferiority" or a "flaw"????! Just because they may not be able to perceive olfactory input the way you do says nothing about their intrinsic character or worth. While you may be disgusted by the state of dutch frying oil, maybe there is some ineffable quality to raw herring that you could never experience without the dutch sensory equipment. It seems that you have a burning desire to believe that there only one "best" cuisine, and that that cuisine is french haute cuisine. What I'm saying is that maybe other people are built in such a way that similar gratification to that which you receive from french haute cuisine is available to them from other sources. This difference only becomes a "flaw" or an "inferiority" if there is an absolute best cuisine, and the inability to properly appreciate it is some kind of social stigma. To you, maybe it is a moral failing to fail to genuflect before the altar of Ducasse and Robuchon. I'm not that judgmental.
  22. Speaking as somebody with a predominantly Dutch ancestry, I've noticed in a subset of my relatives that there is a problem with detecting certain odors that others can detect easily. The answer to Plotnicki's aspersions cast against the Dutch and their seeming happiness with rancid oil may be a physical difference in the ability to perceive what he considers offensive. We know that some people are color-blind, being unable to perceive all the colors that others can. And we know next-to-nothing about the intricacies of the olfactory system... which leads me to wonder: is there a heritable trait that is the olfactory equivalent of color blindness, a physical difference that masks the perception of certain rancid odors? If the answer to that question were yes, then we know precisely why the Dutch tastes differ from those of the French and the Belgians-- those groups historically maintain largely separate gene-pools... Anybody know any science on olfactory cognition and the mechanics thereof? I'm interested now... And if I'm right, then I and my taste buds are also glad that the ancestors chose to intermarry w/ the French rather than the English.
  23. Toby's last point strikes me as the rub of the matter. FG's query about how one should approach unfamiliar cuisines as a food critic seems to require further analysis about the audience receiving the criticism. The approach to the story would appear to depend entirely on who the expected audience will be. FG appears to be striving for a detached academic objectivity, which I would argue to be too lofty a goal unless the audience is a culinary anthropology seminar. The essential questions I would ask myself as a journalist in FG's position are: 1) Who's going to read this? -- are you writing for gastronomes and gourmets, denizens of the neighborhood in which the restaurants are situated, casual diners, or culinary adventurers? How much does your audience already know about the subject cuisine? 2) What does the audience want to get out of it? While a dissertation on the finer points of just how acetic a good injera should be (if such a thing exists ) might be appropriate in a town with a dozen competing Ethiopian restaurants, the simple facts that injera is a spongy flat (very) sourdough bread might be all that is necessary to forewarn an audience unfamiliar with Ethiopian cuisine what to expect were they to adventure out to try it. 3) Does the audience expect a detailed parsing of the presentation, and technical critique of the execution of each dish, and does it expect that criticism to come from somebody authoritative? 4) If they're looking for somebody autoritative, is the expectation that the authority is knowledgable about aspects of authenticity of the subject cuisine? Or are they looking for somebody whose authority stems from knowing what is considered "good" by the intended audience itself? (Watching the tasting panels on Iron Chef when a French chef goes up against the Japanese Iron Chef and noting the different reactions and judging criteria used by the Euro and the Japanese panelists is instructive on this point.) 5) Are you writing to educate, or to provide a sophisticated criticism? I'm sure that there are more, but those questions struck me as the first attack on the problem that FG presented. edit:typo
  24. JAZ, is it the real Amer Picon you're inundated with there on the Left Coast, or is it the Torani clone? If it is the real stuff, then somebody is obviously shipping it into this country again... In the 90s, my research indicated, Picon got dropped by its importer. If it is back out there, then a friendly chat with a liquor store owner might be all it takes for Wilfred to get it in NYC... It is most definitely not on the inventory of the Pennsylvania liquor monopoly.
  25. What you're looking for is Luxardo maraschino... much more complex than Stock, though no less sweet. I recall a friend telling me that Luxardo had changed their bottles from the old-school wicker wrapped ones to something more modern and less distinctive... If I rightly recall, he told me he had observed the new bottles at a liquor store somewhere in his 'hood, around the intersection of W 4th st and W 12ths st in the ever-confusing warren of the West Village. I'm recalling the store being called something castle-y sounding, but wouldn't swear to it. I'd pull a phone book, look up liquor stores, and call all the ones from 14th st to Perry St, between 7th ave and Hudson. I'll bet you'll have luck. FWIW, I bought my first bottle luxardo from Mr. Wrights on 2nd Ave in the high 80's/low 90's.
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