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Everything posted by laurenmilan

  1. Problem with gourmet though, is that it's been misused to the point of meaninglessness. "Gourmet" is no longer reserved for fine resturants, or a magazine about good food & good living... it is also applied to popcorn, cold cuts, cookies, any variety of specialty food, regardless of its actual quality. I attended the Fancy Foods Show at the Javitz Center in NYC. A staggering array of wonderful specialty items, a showcase of quality and creativity. Compare that to the Gourmet Food Show in my hometown. Maybe 2-3 vendors selling high-quality foods. The rest were either pure novelty - pumpkin fudge, chocolates filled with chili peppers - or were from local companies. it seems like "gourmet" is just a catchall term for novelty items or vendors that make their products in-house. Shouldn't there be a higher standard?
  2. As a "foodie" and a "Trekkie", I gotta comment... In both cases, we like to pretend that there's no such thing, but we know in our hearts there is. And in both cases, the difference between an enthusuast and an "-ie" is a sense of superiority and pride based on the ability (okay, the CHOICE) to spend an inordinate amount of time, effort, brain power and of course MONEY on the object of one's obsession - often to the detriment of other aspects of one's life, and focused on something that is not quite worth being proud of. Frankly, I see little difference between an individual who will only use Madagascar bourbon vanilla (despite the outrageous prices from a suspicious shortage) or will only cook with a particular brand of cookware or knives... and a 40 year old that has lives with his parents, but has all the Trek series on DVD. /me runs for the hills before she's pummelled by Neiman-Massey bottles
  3. When I got this issue, I honestly was wondering if I was the only one that thought the rock-star attitude towards chefs was obnoxious. It's bad enough that these prima donnas get to play at cooking, with their increasingly irrelevant cooking styles (foam, anyone?). It is bad enough that one got to perform a culinary "Emperor's New Clothes" in the restaurant. But for Gourmet to further enable this attitude...
  4. LOL, I've been thinking the same thing... if this were 1999. they'd be working in some braindead dotcom scheme. I remember the wasteful spending (coupled with the late payments for the coders & freelancers), the screwing around, the backstabbing ,and the attention whores trying to get into Wired. It's all coming back to me now...
  5. You said it! Believe it or not, New Jersey (land of 1000 chain restaurants) has a newspaper, the Star-Ledger, that always calls attention to the desserts in its reviews. Are they in-house or bought from a vendor? Are they unique or same-old, same old? Are they stellar or bland, or does the chessecake still have ice crystals in it? Gotta give them some credit, that's one critic that shares my appreciation for in-house desserts.
  6. Wonder how much Amex money they will throw at this sinking ship to keep it afloat another year inorder to prove he'll be part of the 10 percent who make it? His ad should be amended to say "90% of restaurants close in the first year. Now we know why." Why did they waste so much time with those not-so-polite table of women? Yeah, they were a real class act.
  7. Oh Christ, I'm watching right now. And they're already into the "ooh the new blonde's so hot thing." I feel kind of embarrassed for her... another female's accusing her of being a disturbing presence, and yet the camera's on said blonde almost as much as the Amex crap. Almost. Oh Chriiiiiiiiiiist, now they gotta table of child stars that Rocco's trying to steal airtime from. Man, it can be fun watching these people fight for the camera, but whooboy. Oh christ, I'm turning this off. LOL I'm embarrassed!
  8. Tony, you really nailed the essence of Rocco's - "post-ironic red-sauce-Italian". In the eps I've seen, it feels like a culinary rendition of "Emperor's New Clothes", with a (mostly) compliant staff just busying themselves as they speed towards humiliation, all for fear of being fired for not understanding the chef's vision. Rocco's feels like a theme restaurant, like the one in Manhattan that serves nothing but cafeteria cuisine, or one that does nothing but "White Trash" southern cooking. Yep, "irony smells bad." It's a surprise to hear that Rocco does have a legitimate, as opposed to trendy, reputation. From the looks of this show, I'd had him pegged as one of the tragically-hip young chefs that have little to do with food that people enjoy eating. The basil-infused-foam type.
  9. laurenmilan


    In my local area (New Brunswick, NJ) it would seem that Starbucks is the only coffeehouse that does NOT char the drip coffee! Honestly, the indy coffeehouses in my town do a good or great capp or espresso, and other mixed drinks, but the drip coffee must be sitting in the carafe for several hours, because it has the cigarette-butt taste to it. When I want to hang out for hours and enjoy a capp and write/read, I go to a cafe. WHen I want a great dessert, I go to a cafe. When I want to be undisturbed, I go to a cafe. When I want coffee to go that I can drink, I go to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Sorry, but the Tweek episode of South Park was right... sometimes, local coffee truly sucks, and that's why Starbucks succeeded.
  10. The web site for Rocco's is absolute crap too. http://www.roccosrestaurant.com/ Simple without being elegant, basically a placeholder for possibly the most hilarious menu in New York! I am straining to imagine tragically hip 20somethings pretending they're having some amazing experience paying $14-30 for poorly prepared Italian-American cuisine. Talk about using a restaurant to sell yourself rather than an experience...
  11. Better than BBQ? In the carolinas!?! I'm reporting you to the Food Police & having you deported from the Carolinas! Seriously though, thanks, but I have tons of ethnic cuisines of every kind up here, so when I travel, I'd much rather use my mealtimes for stuff I can't get at home. What places do you recommend for native Carolinian cuisine?
  12. Very good point... in areas of the US where alcohol consumption is culturally/legally restricted, I've seen the sugar/grease consumption go way off the scale (my experience of such has been mainly with travels in sections of Eastern PA, and the Carolinas - man oh man, if they could batter & deep-fry butter, they would!) I truly believe in my heart that those who lack alcohol in their diets 1) are craving SOMETHING soul-satisying in its place, and 2) have little/no taste due to the lack of stimulation that comes from fine spirits. ;-)
  13. I first tried masala chai in Indian restaurants (hot, no milk) and tried the iced sweet variety (honey and milk on ice) in a local coffeehouse. It was quite powerful and fragrant, not too sweet, and since then, I insist on making it myself by the pitcher. I get good results with Stash Chai (loose, not bagged) but I also make it with black tea & the whole spices from my cabinet. And yep, I've tasted the boxed stuff (won't touch the powdered stuff) and it's sickeningly sweet and kind of bland. And when I live in such an Indian neighborhood, why pay 4X as much for something 1/10 as good?
  14. I just got back from a week in Greensboro, NC, attending a conference with a great many adult palates (or so I thought.) Many people were content to take advantage of the chain restaurants in the areas - Ruby Tuesday's, Red Lobster, Shoneys, you name it. And although I can see a stop at Subways for a quick to-go lunch, there is so very much good local fare to be enjoyed in the immediate area that when I had the chance, I got in my car and drove around exploring. Stopped in a Waffle House (a chain, but one I get to enjoy only on my trips south!) and chatted up the locals at the counter. A lot of folks are all too willing to proudly describe the various types of BBQ in the Carolinas, and debate which are the best. I found a farmers market, and brought back some wonderful baked goods and two quarts of increible blackberries (you sure can't find blackberries in any reasonable quality up north!), and found a terrific hole-in-the-wall lexington BBQ place where I took a few of my buddies. They loved it too! Moral of the story... you'd be amazed how many adults are as afraid of going off the chain-restaurant menu as their children.
  15. Wow, I lived in that area for 20 years of my life and never knew about it. ;-) I smell field trip (and nice stinky cheese!)
  16. I highly recommend Williams-Sonoma Risotto. It's a very specific topic, but the recipes are wonderful, and not just for the traditional heavy cheese risottos, but all 4 seasons. I've done about 1/4 of the recipes... so far...
  17. Wow, I've been beat by a mile. I have 67. On the other hand I do have over 5,000 recipes stored on my computer from various web sites (as well as over 200 web sites bookmarked for recipes along and a "recipe file" on epicurious.com that's currently, oh, 350+ strong... IF it weren't for the internet, that'd probably be another few hundred I'd be blowing each year on cookbooks I may or may not use (I have used maybe 50% of my cookbooks at least once, 20% more than once.)
  18. They get back to the FN programming at 9 AM, I watch Ming Tsai as I get ready for work.
  19. Oh, definitely, everyone there, no matter their shape or size or age or whatever, was annoyed. Some whined, some complained to the manager, some turned on each other. But well, some went totally off the deep end (I saw even more of this at the second place than at the first). Screaming at the hosts, threatening, turning red, making demands, acting like they were gonna keel over or have "the big one". Just plain wierd. And the ones who were doing it were almost all, not just big, but truly immense eating machines. I'm just saying what happened. I'd never seen anything like it before. Did anyone else see this?
  20. Actually, it's absolute chaos inside the place. there's no "waiting area." there's a narrow foyer with the very crowded takeout/dessert counter running along one side, and the bar is on the other. So forcing folks to stand there inside the restaurant for 3 hours is sardinelike. Forget talking to each other... the noise is deafening.
  21. Yep the waits suck, even the waits at the takeout counter suck (and you get hit on both sides by people standing waiting for tables, and waiters cutting the line to get cheescake from the counter!) But to be honest, the worst part of it was my last visit (I think for a very very long time!) at a newly-opened one. The # of morbidly obese people (by which I means 350 lbs and well above) was staggering. Just amazingly-sized people, some of them pacing nervously, some of them yelling for seating in the waiting area, many of them cursing out and otherwise acting like crack addicts waiting for their dealer to show up. Everyone was annoyed, hot, and anxious, but this was just surreal. And depressing as hell. I said "I don't need cheesecake THAT bad" and left it to 'em. I'm sorry, that sounds elitist. I love rich food as much as anyone (More, perhaps?) but coming across these angry, anxious individuals that were acting like food is a drug, it just hit me badly. I think the discussions about Junk Food being Satan's Tool, while hyperbolic, are not entirely implausible after seeing that display of flesh.
  22. I think you'll find southern cornbread only in the homes of curious northerners these days ;-) I make a skillet cornbread using basically the same kind of recipe you listed (the "southern" one) and it comes out just great, but yes, a lot of my guests have no clue that's how cornbread is originally supposed to look. I guess it's no surprise that it seems like as well-meaning americans experiment with other regions' cuisines, we are beseiged by a tidal wave of food options that drown our own regions' individuality (what the hell IS new york/New jersey regional cuisine anyway - unless you count the local ethnicities' dishes). Cornbread's gotta be the one thing that's SWEETER in the North than it is in the South, though...
  23. I know I know... it's just that well, he strikes me as someone who acts like he still thinks he's college-age, and so I give him the same respect I give the hipper-than-thou-college-student type. Yes, there's a glut of perkiness over at TV Food Network, but is someone who brags about bordellos and drugs really an improvement? It just seems like another flavor of fake to a geek like me.
  24. Heh, surely we can do better for guest writers.... Bourdain is a sorry wanker, he insists he's too cool for FoodTV but has nooooo problem cashing their checks. He also has no problem acting like the rock-star chef he claims to detest. I've seen a couple of his shows, between the oooh-i'm-so-cool act and his constant whining, only a moron would buy his Keith-Richards exterior as genuine. Bourdain, you're pushing 60, or at least you look like you are. Give it up, you're not cool, you're just a poseur. Emeril may be corny, but at least he's not constantly trying to pretend he's still 25.
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