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Everything posted by SWoodyWhite

  1. Count me as one of those who learned not to be afraid in the kitchen because of Smith. He made for a good starting point, right when I needed him, but I was either smart or lucky enough to figure out that there was a lot more to learn than he could provide. This is why I still like the F. G.'s Culinary Handbook; based as it is on a specific cookbook from the past, instead of the scripting for a television program, it provides some insight into the history of cooking in America. It's not a book I turn to for recipes, but rather for ideas and a window into the past. Not surprisingly, it is the only one of his books that features Wollam on the dust jacket picture, and his name in as large print as Smith's as the book's author, a hint as to whose project this book really was. Interesting, that Wollam has moved on to theater design (as noted in an earlier post).
  2. This is a far cry from AB's original post, which suggests that the entire convention contingent will be on board ship. Having been to a prior convention, I can guarantee that the conventioneers will be spread throughout the city. Come to think of it, if we can keep the Congressmen and their guests confined to the ship, it might make the city a safer place for everyone else! (And yes, I'm a Republican and making that joke!)
  3. I think what you may be referring to is The Frugal Gourmet's Culinary Handbook: An Updated Version of an American Classic on Food and Cooking, by Jeff Smith and Craig Wollam. It is based on an "Original Text by Charles Fellows," which dates from 1904 (the update was published in 1991), and includes a Delmonico's menu in the introduction. The text of the book came in two colors: brown for the original Fellows text, black for the updating by Wollam and wot's-'is-name. The only book by JS that wasn't a companion to any season of his show, it is also the only one that remains interesting reading. Which now brings up the question: What ever happened to Craig Wollam? Anybody out there know?
  4. Delaware also has a no-smoking law, in effect for about a year now. I admit, my partner and I moved to Rehoboth Beach only a month ago, but we've been looking around town quite a bit during that month. It's supposed to be off-season right now, and many places are packed! Restaurants, bars, they're doing very good business. Even at the bars where we were expecting more people, the bar staff told us "Everyone comes in later, more like ten or eleven." The smoking ban is not destroying business. This mirrors our experience in California, where we were hearing stories of gloom and doom when their smoking ban took place. Never happened. When people who smoke really want a smoke, they go outside for their nicotine fix, then come back in. If anything, having a crowd of smokers around the door signals the popularity of a joint. That's good for business, in my book.
  5. Susan, you're right, my error on the name! For what it's worth, they have their own website, at http://www.roseandcrown.org , but I don't know how frequently they update it. Taking the good with the bad, I was talking with one of the doctors while at the Beebe Emergency Room, and he was recommending the Cape Gazette as a good resource for dining deals, particularly during the off-season. Turns out, they've got their own on-line restaurant guide, http://www.diningdebeaches.com/ which looks to be a good resource, at least for starters.
  6. I haven't tried Dogfish Head yet, although I've enjoyed their beer. I was able to find out that Blue Moon will be closed from New Years through approximately Valentine's Day. A couple of links are probably in order: Dogfish Head: http://www.dogfish.com/ LaLa Land: http://www.lalalandrestaurant.com/welcome.html
  7. I haven't had a chance to explore Rehoboth proper, being located more towards the outlet malls and very busy with job hunting. I'll have to report on what's open off-season later. I can tell you (and everyone else) that Rehoboth is increasingly a year-round area, not just for tourists. A surprising number of businesses have been installed along the Highway that are geared for permanent residents, such as doctors offices, which is good news for people like me who have chosen to call this area home. Two places I have been able to sample since our arrival are the Rehoboth Diner and the Rose and Thorn. The Rehoboth Diner is right on Highway One, located where an Italian eatery used to be. It's nothing spectacular, but serves decent diner fare from a menu that runs for pages upon pages. For some reason, both my other half and I had a hankering for the grilled Reuben sandwich, which was pretty good. The soup de jour, a tomato bisque, was the better part of the meal, made on-site and very tasty. The best news is that they're open 24 hours, a rarity in these parts. The Rose and Thorn is in Lewes, the next town up the coast, along their restaurant row. We've had some pretty good dinners there before, and figured a stop there before visiting Bruce's daughter would be a good idea since her cooking skills don't exist. Again, good soups to start, with Bruce enjoying their chowder while I went for the soup de jour, which was an Italianesque take on the ingredients of a Denver omelette. He enjoyed the crab cakes, I tried their tapilla (? spelling), which was nicely breaded and served atop smashed potatos. The Rose and Thorn has a good bar, very friendly waitresses, and feels like an English pub but with better food. We'll be going back. Thanks for the questions, meaghan! When I get the answers, I'll be posting.
  8. For what it's worth, this eGullleteer has now moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, so we now have a permanent resident to ask questions about the area. I may not have all the answers, but at least I'm here for a hands and teeth on response. But first, I have to find a good winter coat.
  9. Fish heads or cow horns? To be worn by a group of engineers? Nah, can't picture it. Do-it-yourself hats made from Erector Set pieces is an idea, however. More seriously, though, Mark, what I've found is that the larger the group, the lower the general food education level. At that dinner at Nola, I'd estimate that one third would have been comfortable with the regular Nola menu, one third would have muddled through somehow, and the final third would have found the menu at TGI Friday's too complex. This wasn't an uneducated group, but their food education was lacking. The previous night, a quintet of us had gathered at Red Sage for dinner, the five being two from Long Beach CA (myself and partner) and three from New Orleans. I would have assumed the New Orleans background of the three would have meant they all would know something about food, but for one of the trio the menu was a complete mystery and cause for much grief. If we had known in advance, the rest of us could have helped guide him, which in turn would have made for a better evening for everyone. There are people who need their hands held during the ordering process. By cutting down the number of selections available to them, the odds are reduced that they will order something that will disappoint them. It's a bit like handing them a children's menu, but in this case that's exactly what they are. I'd much rather reduce my own choices in such a situation than risk a childish snit-fit from the company I'm with, and save my finer dining experiences for those times I'm with people who can understand those experiences with me.
  10. A few years back I was with a group of about thirty that had a dinner at Nola, in their "wine cellar." I have no idea about cost, but the service was quite good, and they had the sense to limit the menu to a couple of choices per course, which helped the kitchen a great deal. This trick of limiting the menu is one worth considering at almost any venue when dealing with a large party. The clerical manager where my partner used to work regularly would be the planner for their gatherings, and would pre-select two or three items per course from the menu with the restaurant's help. She then had everyone attending make their selections a day or two in advance, which she then had written down on cards. All the servers had to do, when taking the orders, was collect the cards. Not only was the taking of orders already done for them, since the cards were collected in order they knew which person around the table had ordered which dishes, which made serving a breeze. (This was for an office of engineers, which is probably why they were so logical. )
  11. Not being a New Yorker, but coming from the left coast and having spent some time observing NYC from a distance, I find this comment simplistic. NYC isn't about marketing, but about taking materials from other areas, reworking them into a more accessable form, and then marketing them well. Take another form New York City is known to specialize in, the theater. While some new plays get their start in NYC, a great many others are brought in from outside NYC, often with a refining process taking place before the play gets to NYC. The works of August Wilson serve as a good example, where they are usually presented in the Seattle theaters first, then travel down to Los Angeles, and finally reach the theaters of NYC. The play Metamorphosis added a step at the front, starting in Chicago before following the typical Wilson route. Similarly, the latest Stephen Sondheim musical, Bounce, first opened in Chicago, and has moved to Washington D.C. in a revised form, with an appearance in NYC still unconfirmed. These aren't cases of plays being taken "on the road" before coming to Broadway, but of plays that evolve en route, with Broadway a desired goal but not a scheduled one. The same can be said about cuisine. NYC has little in the way of cuisine that originated there. Unlike Paris, it is a blank canvas where traditions can either be embraced or used as guidelines. Does this mean that the cuisines that make their way to NYC are exactly the same as can be found at their points of origin? No, the tastes end up changed, much as light is through a lens, where in this case the lens is the comparison not with the cuisine itself but with the multitude of other cuisines available. But it is in the refining process that the different cuisines become part of NYC, capturing the spectrum and at the same time blending them all together as a whole. The marketing process comes much later, and then only as a means of selling the refined product back to the world at large.
  12. The Fairfield paper is the Daily Republic. The Daily Reporter is based in Vacaville. I performed a search, and am unsure which article you are referring to, LLT. Could you provide a link? As it is, both papers are published daily, and your ref to a "front page picture this week" is a little vague.
  13. I find the star system doesn't affect reading of reviews in such a negative way. The people who already read the reviews will continue to do so; most of those who don't read reviews will only look at the stars. But there is always the chance that someone will see the stars and decide to read the review, out of curiosity. If the writing is interesting, they will read the next review as well, and begin to learn more about what they're eating. The only time star systems take over the reviewing process is when the writing is garbage to begin with, and that hasn't been the case with TS.
  14. If there is a flaw in the writing/editing of Jamie's Kitchen, it is in the amount of time spent with each of the fifteen students in the program. The focus is 95% on the students who are failure-oriented, and 5% on the students who take the opportunity and make the most of it. Even here, I'm being generous about the amount of time given to the good students, because most of their time is in the background of group shots. We aren't given any opportunity to learn about who these people are, as opposed to the poor students who are given most of the airtime. And this is wrong, because that means that the ten students who appeared to do well get none of the credit, while the five who don't do well get everything. My figures are probably off, and there was possibly a lower number of students who really gave a damn, but I'm talking about television, where appearances are everything, and the appearance was highly unbalanced and cynical. Oliver has every right to be proud of the students who did well. Their story deserves to be told. It just wasn't told this time around.
  15. As I've mentioned in the "other" L. A. Zagat thread, one improvement in this years guide is the inclusion of websites for many of the restaurants listed. My estimate would put those with websites at about half the total, but I won't be sure until I finish my totally anal-retentive transfer of the data to a spreadsheat/database. (I obviously have too much time on my hands. ) The advantage of the website listing is that it gives the readers a chance to check menus and other information, as opposed to Merrill Shindler's "haiku" of seven or eight lines of quotes. Don't get me wrong, I've met Shindler and found him a very nice, enjoyably personable fellow, but the reviews contain as much relevant information as can be found in the average newspaper horoscope. Even a PR blurb can give the browser a better idea if it's a restaurant he/she would like to try.
  16. An interesting article by Russ' L. A. Times cohort David Shaw can be found here: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo...-headlines-food Personally, I've been reading both the Times and Press Telegram for years. The Times is better at national, state, and county-wide coverage, the P/T better for local. But the critics at the P/T are a joke, not worth bothering with. Rudis writes each review from a stock formula that requires him to interview the kitchen as to the contents of each dish, making his reviews PR blurbs rather than honest assessments. Djurklou, who doubles as a theater critic, regularly gets basic facts wrong. Both are inept at putting words together. I will not miss their writing at all. But, back to Russ' statement that "...the hard facts of life are that restaurants follow the money and there's just a greater concentration of spendable money on the westside than anywhere else." The key word here is spendable, or more accurately spent. I've been to a number of houses on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where the kitchens alone are larger than the average NYC apartment. These people clearly have money, and lots of it. Do they have many restaurants where they live? This year, Zagat lists three: Ruby's (a local chain), Marmalade Cafe (multiple locations), and Trio Mediterranean Grill (the only single-location operation listed), so I'd say the answer is no. In order to dine out well, these residents have to travel. The same is true, to a lesser degree, of the wealthier enclaves in Long Beach, and there are several. The money is there, but it's not being spent within these neighborhoods on fine dining. This suggests that it isn't the money that is important for the location of the finer restaurants, but the existance of a culture that puts a value on spending that money on fine dining. "Let's go out to eat" is a phrase more likely to be heard when there are good choices of where to dine to be found, and synergetically the better restaurants gather where the diners are likely to be found. (Yes, I realize I'm now contradicting my earlier comments, but second thoughts are allowed, aren't they?) The question thus becomes one of how to create that synergy in new locations. Pine Avenue, Long Beach, was moving in that direction, and Broadway and Second Ave. also have their share of dining choices in this city, although parking problems have hampered all three areas. Nearby, on Candlewood in Lakewood, a different synergy has been established, focusing more on chains like Outback, Stuart Anderson, and Red Lobster. (At least Lakewood had the sense to include plenty of parking.) There's even a group of restaurants in North Long Beach, mostly on Atlantic Ave., that are doing a growing business. They might not be what Zagat is looking to survey, but they're there. (Oh, Russ, regarding 555 East, Bruce and I have also been impressed with their wine list. There was the night we weren't quite so impressed with their cellar, however, as our waiter had to return three times to tell us that they were out of the bottles we had selected! Even the maitre d' was embarrassed; I think if we'd selected a fourth missing vintage he would have grabbed the list from us and pointedly told us "Here, order THIS one!" )
  17. The strike isn't affecting me personally, because I've been shopping mostly at non-union stores for some time (well over a year). I simply prefer the quality of the produce, my choice has nothing to do with the workers. The Los Angeles transit strike is having an effect on the supermarket strike, of course. Supermarket workers who would normally take the bus to work are unable to get to their stores to do their part on the picket lines, simply because the busses aren't running. Someone wasn't paying much attention to scheduling! (Long Beach busses, being part of a separate transit authority, are still running.)
  18. I'm assuming you're not interested in cheesesteaks for Sunday Brunch, Erin. Running a comparison between lists in the new Zagat's, I've come up with the following for you, close to where you're staying. (Mind, I'm not a brunch person, so I can't say for sure on any of these re quality). IN MARINA DEL REY: Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch, 4325 Glencoe Ave (X Mindanao Way), 310-578-1005 www.auntkizzys.com Cafe Del Rey, 4451 Admiralty Way (bet. Lincoln & Via Marina), 310-823-6395, www.cafedelrey.com IN VENICE: Hal's Bar & Grill, 1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd. (bet. Main & Venice), 310-396-3105, www.halsbarandgrill.com Joe's, 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd. (bet. Main & Westminster), 310-399-5811. www.joesrestaurant.com I'd suggest checking the websites, to get a better idea of what's offered, price ranges, etc. I've heard good things about Aunt Kizzy's, however, and some simple math from the Zagat ratings make it look like the best bang for the buck, as well.
  19. Russ, I'll be missing your column in the Food section of the LA Times when I move to Delaware later this month. Your work has been a pleasure to look forward to every Wednesday. Yeah, sure, I'll be able to catch up on-line, but that isn't the same as opening up the paper and finding your words in good, solid ink. So, I'll put to you the same question I posed to Tom Sietsema when he was in the proverbial hot seat: Which food writers do you enjoy and admire yourself? Role models, mentors, current rivals, in newspapers or elsewhere, the whole gamut? Which writers top your list?
  20. I can't claim to have had much food experience at the time, but when I was seven or so I can remember the Nut Tree using very fresh ingredients that were interestingly prepared, without heavy saucing. Working back, this would have been around 1960...earlier than 1965. David may have seen what was happening at Nut Tree and taken it several steps further, or may have come up with similar ideas on his own. For that matter, the Nut Tree could well have been adding their own spin on what they saw others in the Bay Area trying to accomplish. There's a synergy to food that makes the whole "I'm the First!" business rather silly, in my view. Of course, I was far more interested in the on-site toy store at the time, along with the small-gauge railroad they had running around the orchards. Today I'd be interested in the food first...and then the toy store!
  21. I'm lucky, because when I was growing up my father made a point of exploring the state with the family on every vacation. I've been to most every mission, as a result, along with trips to the vineyards of Napa and the gold mines of the Sierra Nevada. I've even climbed Mount Lassen. Disneyland? Been there, done that, ever since the first year it opened! The Witch in the Snow White dark ride scared the heck out of me (I'm made of stearner stuff now). Strangely, it wasn't until Bruce and I joined together that I made it to Hearst's Castle. It was a side-trip during a political conference. A member of Log Cabin, who worked there, gave us a more personalized tour than many guests get. We went to the Getty Museum for a similar reason: the board of a theater company Bruce was serving upon held a weekend retreat there, and a tour was part of the package. Unfortunately, we're not in a position right now for any long trips until the BIG one, mainly because of the dogs. Moving the three we owned was going to be hard enough, but a couple of weeks ago a pair of enchanting mutt pups were abandoned in our neighborhood and the family grew! That's why we want to make sure the new family members get fixed before we move - we simply want the work done by a vet we trust. Now, what else? I'm highly familiar with the Blue Line light rail system, and the Red Line subway, since I used them daily to get to work before I retired. The Watts Towers were a regular landmark on my commute. We've also made the mistake of going to the Music Center for theater, expecting the Red Line to still be running when we got out. It wasn't. Fortunately, we had the cash for cab fare to the Blue Line connection home! Mexican food? I'm already looking up sources for tomatillos on the East Coast, so I can make my own salsa verde. I do know I'm going to miss the avocado tree in our back yard, even if most of the fruit was eaten by the dogs, contributing to their glossy coats. And I will miss the jacaranda trees exploding with purple blossoms. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions so far!
  22. Frankly, I don't even remember which restaurants I submitted comments on, and my ego isn't based on getting three or four words quoted for a review. And since I'm moving to Delaware before the month ends, I'm not likely to be using this year's LA edition to advise me on restaurant choices. Although, as I was reading over the Long Beach reviews and numbers yesterday while partner Bruce drove us to our errands, we were reminded that we want to drop by Lashers (22-21-23-$38, 3441 E. Broadway) before we leave. Someone included the line "Thursday is wine lover's night," sounds like a good time to drop by and see old friends.
  23. I've mentioned elsewhere that, after living my entire life (50 years so far) in the Los Angeles area, the last 20 in Long Beach, I'll be moving within a month to Delaware. For this reason, my partner and I have been talking about the places we haven't been, which we might want to visit before we leave. He, for instance, has never been to Universal Studios. Heck, the only time I've gone there was soon after they opened, long before they even included Bruce the Shark as part of the tram ride, so that counts as something we both haven't "done." I've suggested we go to Musso and Frank's, as much because a friend of ours loves the place as because it's a classic Los Angeles restaurant. There's no way we'd be able to fit every suggestion into our schedule, not with packing and getting two dogs fixed and everything else that we have to get done. But, hypothetically, what places "should" we try to work in, the sort of places that long-time residents seem to never get around to trying? I'm not talking tourist traps (although Universal Studios certainly counts as such); I'm talking about Classic Los Angeles.
  24. I'd forgotten that I'd sent some opinions to Zagat a while back, so I was nicely surprised to find the new Zagat Survey 2004 Los Angles So. California Restaurants in the mail. Two changes in the survey are the inclusion of web site addresses, and the division of the book into regions. No longer is the entire county a single entity, which always struck me as awkward since LA is larger than some states, both in population and area. The book is now divided into: Los Angeles/Hollywood/West Hollywood The Westside South Bay and Long Beach San Fernando Valley and Burbank San Gabriel Valley/Pasadena/Glendale Orange County I am bothered a little by the introductory comment by Merrill Shindler that "Surveyors overwhelmingly prefer the west for fine dining." I've a strong suspicion that the readers of Zagats LA tend to either live on the Westside, or spend most of their visiting time in that area, and stick close to their home base in their dining choices. As a Long Beach resident, I'm glad to see more representation of my city in the guide; the first edition I picked up featured barely a dozen restaurants; this edition brings the total up to thirty. But this barely compares with the index listings for Santa Monica, which take a full page to list. My point being that if Zagats wants to sell more copies of their guide to people in Long Beach, or Burbank, or other cities in the county, they're going to have to reach out to these people by including more restaurants in these cities, or at least more easily reached. Otherwise, it will continue to be a Westside-biased publication.
  25. The Prime Rib at least has the advantage of only having three restaurants, while the Palm has ten times that number. I can understand how the dessert menus for each restaurant might not be listed, considering the (hopeful) seasonality of the desserts and use of local ingredients. Still, I'd choose the Palm as the lesser site, because of it's attempt to cover every restaurant through a corporate hub, which means the individual restaurants aren't really involved in their own web presence. The Palm site reminded me of the Outback chain, which has a McDonalds consistancy from coast to coast.
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