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Everything posted by fresco

  1. There is a way to roast your own pig in a small yard--buy one of these, or build one. Think there are instructions somewhere on the Net: http://www.lacajachina.com/
  2. Yup. Which is why I bring back a bunch from Spain or Portugal every time I'm there.
  3. What is unfortunate is that he had retired a while ago after a long career at McDs and was persuaded to head up a turnaround effort when the corporation was not doing well at all.
  4. McDonalds CEO Jim Cataloupo dropped dead of a heart attack at the fast food corporation's annual gathering for owners and operators in Orlando, Florida. He was 60. http://www.forbes.com/newswire/2004/04/19/rtr1336111.html
  5. A friend of my son who is in his early 20s has decided he wants to be a sommellier, and is trying to decide where best to train. He's thinking about France or Italy, but might he be better off staying in North America. (He's in Toronto.) Any advice?
  6. I can't discuss it, sorry.
  7. There is probably someone somewhere who has reverse engineered Heinz Ketchup, although God only knows why. Failing that, try this: http://www.ketchup.wonderland.org/recipes/ketchup.html
  8. The story ends by saying that McD shares fell 34 cents this morning.
  9. I'm not sure it has to be a cost issue. Saffron isn't to everyone's taste, especially if the cook happens to be heavy handed.
  10. What about saffron? I've been making paella for years with it, only to read in Saveur a while back that in Valencia (and elsewhere in Spain) restaurants and people at home use food dye. This was certainly the case with the paella I sampled on two separate occasions a couple of weeks ago in Seville. Is it a cost issue, or have people concluded that it just doesn't make enough difference to bother with?
  11. Miguel, We finally made it up to Joao Portugal Ramos's winery near Estremoz, which you mentioned in your PM to me, and as always, you were right--wonderful wine. As you know, the operation is only seven years old, but he's already making wine that seems to be the talk of Portugal, and the UK, and the US... We bought half a dozen bottles of his Vila Santa, extremely fruity and just wonderfully frrsh tasting red, as well as three bottles of the Marques de Borba Reserva, 2002, I think it is, which I suspect is a much earthier, more powerful and more "classic" red, but won't try it till we return to Canada, and then may keep it for a while. From what we could observe on the drive up, there seems to be hundreds of acres of new vines being planted in the area--very exciting. If what Portugal Ramos is doing is any indication, the area will soon by one of Europe's celebrated wine regions. Fascinating to see it in its infancy, and thans again for the tip.
  12. Comparing prices probably doesn't lead to much happiness, and may well lead you into false comparisons if you take it too far. Toronto may be one of the least expensive and best places in the world to shop for food, such is the competitive and multinational complexion of the city, but I haven't found Portugal anything but good value. I'm pretty sure you'll come to similar conclusions, but in any case, let us know.
  13. Marco, The way you describe your stays here makes me want to stay forever...or a lot longer than a month. Vila Lisa is in a small village a few kilometres east of Lagos, damned if I can remember the name. The Algarve is the oddest place, in that it is probably easier to eat poorly and superlatively here than almost any other place I've encountered. The number of short term package tourists has encouraged the sort of establishment that offers a "full English breakfast" pretty much all day and all night. The supermarkets, which stock wonderful food, also have bins full of frozen readymade cheesburgers (presumably to go straight into the microwave) and the number of new pizza places is truly disheartening. But there are probably more cafes and restaurants here than anywhere else in Portugal, and many are reasonably priced and produce good food.
  14. Hi Fresco !!! Thanks for sharing your experience ! Was the meal a "fixed" meal, at a "fixed" price ??? Or was there an extra charge for wine, "firewater" and dessert ? Neither my wife nor I, are much into alcohol... perhaps a glass of wine or a bottle of beer at the most. We'd just as soon pass on the booze, especially if it was so-so quality. 192 Euros is appoximately 27.43 Euros per person. About $34 US per person. Maybe I'm spoiled but, I don't consider $34 per person... "cheap" Thanks !!! The price included wine and firewater, in pretty much unlimited quantities. I'd say it was a deal. As Bux has noted, food is generally inexpensive in Portugal, but the exception is seafood. On Saturday we paid 30 euros for a couple of kilos of clams at the Silves market. The same quantity would have set us back, I'd guess, much less than half that amount in Toronto. But Portugal without seafood wouldn't be Portugal, would it? I don't know if you could negotiate a price without alcohol, but it's certainly worth asking. There was a couple across the room who seemed to be drinking just bottled water. If you are staying in a place with a kitchen, cooking in the Algarve is a real pleasure. Because we enjoy cooking a lot, and also because this trip in part was a bit of a reunion, we've done a lot of our own cooking, everything from the above mentioned clams to hake, Lisbon style, (in tomato, onion garlic, white wine, etc) and chicken. All good.
  15. We're hoping to make the trek up to the wineries in Alentejo on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the wines available in the shops here is good. And while the Algarve is often disparaged as overbuilt and commercial, there is a rich vein of earthiness that runs through the place. You can hear roosters crowing first thing in the morning among all the hyperdevelopment, and fishermen still go out every night from Ferragudo, returning the next morning to sell some of their catch in the small but excellent local market. The municipal market in Silves is a marvel. We talk a lot on eGullet about roasted cauliflower, but I think the appeal of roasting it in salt, garlic and olive oil has a lot to do with cauliflower in North America being essentially tasteless. I haven't encountered a vegetable here that isn't the real thing--extravagantly flavourful. Same with the chicken, and almost everything else.
  16. Miguel, Thanks for the information about gritty authenticity. It makes sense. I do almost feel guilty carping about a little sand, though, considering the quality of the food and the ridiculously low prices. We have pictures of the proprietors and the food, but alas, they well have to await our return in three weeks.
  17. We've been in the Algarve for a week, and life could not be better--great weather, wonderful food and wine. Last Friday, seven of us dined at Vila Lisa, and it was, as Miguel has said above, the best restaurant one is likely to encounter in this part of Portugal. I have no idea how intentional this is, but the place has much the quality of the little taverna or trattoria that a lot of us from North America harbour fantasies about when go to Europe--it's completely anonymous, no name or other form of identification on the building, which looks like every other humble white stuccoed cottage in the village. You are seated on benches at long tables, and Jose Lisa (one of the two owners) arrives immediately and begins pouring white wine from cheap plastic wicker covered jugs. The wine is every bit as mediocre as the paintings which adorn the walls, the product, I think, of the other owner, one Jose Vila, hence the establishment's name. The food begins soon afterward, and while it is not perfection, and as you'll see, oddly out of balance, it does add up to an extraordinarly good meal. For starters there are small bits of garlicky roast potatoes, slices of chorizo and a good local cheese. Keep those potatoes in mind. They'll make a few appearances. Next is the clam soup Miguel also mentioned above--clams about the size of your fingernail, with rice and coriander in a chicken broth. I'd be prepared to accept Miguel's assessment of the soup as life changing, except that the kitchen (it seems to be a man and a woman, not the owners) has not taken enough care with the clams, and they are gritty. Once again, we have roasted potatoes, this time with chunks of octopus, lots of garlic and olive oil. And once again, someone didn't take care, and the octopus is gritty. Still, a hell of a dish. The main course consists of two smallish, whole roasted pork shoulders, with--you guessed it--roasted potatoes. We carved the roasts ourselves with a couple of flimsy serrated knives, and found the meat tasty, but overcooked. Mr. Lisa then began pouring red wine, bottled in the restaurant, I suspect, and better than the red. Next came a second soup, chick peas, with shreds of beef. To my mind, this was the star turn of the evening, no grit, perfectly textured chick peas, extremely flavourful beef and broth. We finished up with truffle like desserts of fig and almond, and I think, almond and chocolate, as well as coffee and the local firewater, a grappa-like liquer made from medranho fruit. As you can see, the courses we a little out of whack (three servings of potatoes and no other vegetable?) The reason for this I think, is to keep the demands on the kitchen to a minimum--a separate vegetable course would require more preparation, even if it was just a simple salad. The bill for all of this, though, was 192 euros, including all of the wine and the firewater. It's almost unseemly to suggest that the partners would do better to charge a bit more, hire some more help, offer a better wine selection. That might bring the place closer to perfection, but more likely, it would just ruin it.
  18. Now I'm not quite so envious of people in Quebec, who have it all over people almost everywhere else in Canada, because they can actually buy wine at the corner store. But is it actually the case that depanneurs are prohibited from selling anything but bulk wine? Or are they prohibited from selling wines which are sold in the SAQ stores?
  19. This place sounds good enough to justify a trip to the Algarve all by itself.
  20. I'm not sure if it's in RecipeGullet, but here's a link to a thread where she discusses it: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...=0entry142369
  21. I totally agree with you about the Algarve and its charms relative to the rest of Portugal, but travel agencies in Canada make it extremely easy to book a long vacation there, and less easy to do so elsewhere in the country. What we try to do is cherry pick the best of the Algarve (and there are very good bits) and otherwise use it as a base to explore other areas. We keep talking about finding a way to base ourselves in the north, and eventually, we'll do so. And again, thank you for all of your advice and encouragement. If you ever plan to visit Toronto...
  22. I remember reading it, but will refresh my memory. Sounds like you had a great time. What would you look to do the second time around?
  23. Maggie, As a sister Canadian (albeit an expat) you must know that Portugal is fast becoming Canada's new wintering ground. You must find an excuse (or a junket) to visit Portugal.
  24. Miguel, Thanks for all of your advice and counsel. We spent a month in Portugal last year, and all of what you say rings true, especially about looking for innovation, which is both wrongheaded and asking for bad food. As you note, the true genius of Portuguese cuisine "is all about the freshness of the ingredients and the cooking of traditional, regional dishes which have been around for ever." What more can you ask for? Your offer of emergency advice is very generous, and I will take you up on it.
  25. Lia, what part of the world are you in?
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