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  1. I agree on both counts. I'd go further and say that JG probably has the best food in the city (haven't tried Per Se yet), but the dining room just doesn't do it for me. It's as if the person who designs the dining rooms for Holiday Inn were given a blank check and asked to create the ultimate, generic hotel restaurant space.
  2. Creeper

    Sushi Gari

    How does it compare to Yasuda? Super high quality and traditional or more modern? I love Yasuda but haven't tried Gari yet and am debating it as well.
  3. Creeper

    Food Writing

    But that's not analogous to this discussion. If FG were the fan of say a Ducasse TV show that wouldn't supply a reasonable motive to slant a review in favor of ADNY or Mix. It does become relevant when the reviewer has incentive to slant a review... for example, maintaining relationships to further his/her career or possible financial benefit. I've been reading FG's reviews since the fat-guy site and have long known he's a fan of Ducasse, I'm guessing long before they actually met. But a review of Mix in 2003 needs to be taken in its current context, and I think the fact that FG and Ducasse are friends and that FG's agent is Mix's twin brother are relevant. Even though a professional critic should certainly write an objective review in spite of such relationships, disclosure puts all the facts on the table and shouldn't leave anyone second guessing a review.
  4. Creeper

    Fairway Cafe

    BYO is indeed a thing of the past at Fairway. I had dinner there last month and wasn't the only one in the restaurant who went home with a full bottle. I talked to Mitchell London about it, and he claimed BYO is in violation of some liquor law and Fairway's attys urged him to do away with it. When I asked him if Craft, Gramercy, etc., were breaking the law by allowing BYO, he said they were. A lawyer friend of mine looked up the relevant information, and it turns out (not surprisingly) that BYO is perfectly legal. So, I'm not sure what the deal is. At the time, dinner was still $35.
  5. I've heard great things about the Char-Griller but ended up buying a WSM and a Weber Kettle for space reasons. I've been greatly impressed with the WSM. I had to do a quick modification to install a thermometer... aside from that, it's a pretty effortless piece of equipment that produces great results. -Steven
  6. Creeper

    Wine Storage in NY

    Thanks for the responses. Zachy's doesn't sound too bad, especially if they have space in their Manhattan facility. I've heard good things about Chelsea Wine Vault as well. And that erobertparker link is definitely worth looking into. Of course, maybe I should just look at moving into a small Manhattan apartment as a way to cut down on my wine expenses.
  7. Creeper

    Wine Storage in NY

    I am in the process of moving to Manhattan and would appreciate any suggestions for offsite wine storage. I will be living on the UWS, so something nearby would be ideal. But I'd be open to anyplace with great facilities and decent pricing and service. Thanks. -Steven
  8. Creeper

    first time smoker

    The BBQ/Smoking FAQ is a must read if you're a first time smoker. http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/faq2/toc.html
  9. The Pei Mei books are great, but I'll also second Nina Simonds books, esp because of their widespread availability. Another wonderful book is The Food of China. I'm not sure who the authors are, but it used to be available on Amazon. Great pictures, recipes, and stories.
  10. Creeper

    first time smoker

    I agree with Schiekle on the pork shoulder, assuming you have the time. If you're impatient and want more immediate satisfaction, toss on some pork ribs or a chicken with the pork, and you'll have something to nibble on while waiting for the shoulder to finish.
  11. Wonderful post, Steven. Anti-hedonism definitely plays a role in explaining America's relationship with food. And much like anti-intellectualism, it raises a number of contradictions and questions. I think one of the more interesting contradictions comes from your conclusion that "indulgence in cuisine is still considered vulgar by many." Agreeing that "too many Americans fall into one of two camps when it comes to food: 1) Totally ignorant; or 2) Overly intellectual," I think often what each group considers vulgar is the indulgences of the other group. For instance, someone from group one may have a habit of ordering a triple cheeseburger for lunch. Surely an indulgence, maybe not in terms of cash, but certainly in terms of fat, grease, and sheer volume. Group two may indulge in the occasional meal at Ducasse. The amount of food, especially stretched over three or four hours, isn't necessarily extreme, but the price surely makes it an indulgence. Both groups indulge, but each sees the other as being vulgar. Of course, we're dealing with relative extremes here. There's a huge class of people between these groups who would neither make a habit of triple cheeseburgers nor fork over the money for Ducasse. On your secondary issue, while I agree that America's embrace of change, technology, and innovation, esp Post-war, damaged our country's food scene, I think those same tendencies are going to be partly responsible for creating the "core culinary culture that the US lacks." Take the Food Network. Even though many of its shows are obnoxious, it is introducing its viewers to foods, concepts, and customs that they otherwise might not have discovered, thereby nurturing a group that's more adventurous and knowledgeable about food than they would have been otherwise. I'm hopeful that as the general level of food knowledge continues to increase, it will be reflected in our culinary culture.
  12. Robert- Your post raises a number of interesting questions, which will hopefully trigger a rather interesting thread. I have asked myself some of the same questions, and I think when viewed in a larger context, the "American Way of Eating" is as riddled with contradictions as any facet of American life. When viewed on its own, though, I think a lot of the nonsense surrounding our approach toward food can be explained. First, I'd like to toss in my two cents regarding your discussion of Fabricant's coverage of Brennan. I think that claiming the Artisinal Cheese Center is an "attempt to pull the wool over the food public's eye" is a bit extreme. I imagine Brennan's attempt to bring quality cheese to his customers is a sincere one. But even Brennan is not immune to the USDA's inane cheese restrictions. It's foolish to think that in a three paragraph story announcing his new venture he would go out of his way to highlight the fact that, "Hey, by the way, I won't be carrying many of the world's best cheeses, just FYI." Nor do I think there was anything especially audacious with Brennan's conduct. However, the audacity of the NY Times' coverage is another thing entirely. Fabricant should certainly have brought up the issue of raw milk cheese restrictions and how they would relate to Brennan's shop. Of course, if Brennan manages to cultivate any serious customers, they're going to become aware almost immediately of such things. Any cheese book or online search will provide that information. (But that still doesn't excuse the Times.) As for "The American Way of Eating," this could be a difficult topic to keep in check, especially considering how potentially broad it is. I'll try not to wander too much. I think America's interest in higher-end dining and foods is tempered by a sort of anti-intellectualism that can also be seen in our country's attitude toward politics or academia or many other areas. I also think that attitude, along with a few other factors, such as convenience, can go a long way in explaining some of our country's unique gastronomical practices, like menus that advertise "Niman Ranch Lamb Chops" and the hesitancy of many to purchase a bottle of wine before finding out how some wine geek scored it on a 100 point scale. I think the answers to these questions can also explain why Food TV airs 9 hours of Emeril a day, while shows like David Rosengarten's "Taste" end up in the turdbox. Even if someone is unfamiliar with the producer, seeing "Niman Ranch Lamb Chops" on a menu is going to have an impact on your average diner in a high-end restaurant looking for a high-end dining experience. They're going to think, "here's a $32 lamb chop that comes from a single, fancy-sounding ranch, and chances are it's better in quality than the frozen turds on a stick I picked up at that warehouse store last month." And they're right. They're able to enjoy the consumption of better food and the knowledge they're consuming better food without having to lead the perverse, detail-oriented life of your average E-Gulleter. In other words, details like that allow Americans to have a better dining experience without having to invest lots of energy, time, and brain-power into food outside of their regular dining hours. Of course, others view such menus as pretentious nonsense, so what do I know? Also, living in a country where the quality of food varies as greatly as it does, I'm often a fan of the details on a menu. When you're in Italy and order a tomato salad, chances are you're going to get a decent salad. In the States, chances are you're going to get a bowl of pink mealiness sprinkled liberally with some type of raspberry ass juice. On the other hand, when a menu says, "a Salad of Fresh Heirloom Tomatos from Boggy Creek Farm dressed in Ligurian Olive Oil," it's probably worth ordering. I think people like wine rating systems for the same reasons. People can easily by a decent bottle of wine without having to invest much time in the subject... they can just go to the local shop and pick up whatever wine has a Wine Spectator 90 Point tag on it. Americans like wine ratings because they're convenient, allow you to choose a wine without appearing unknowledgeable, and it adds something of a competitive and interesting edge to what has traditionally been considered a rather dull subject by many Americans. Personally, I found ratings useful when I first started learning about wine. It now seems ridiculous not to talk with a shop's proprietor about what you're looking for, but a lot of people new to wine find that intimidating. And of course, nothing can provoke an anti-intellectualism backlash like wine. I'm sure most of us have known people who would rather "have a damn beer" than do something as silly as flip thru a leather bound wine list. As for our "robust media," how much of it is serious food discussion as opposed to light, food-related entertainment? Sure, there are tons of publications and TV shows that relate to food, but as far as I know, aside from books, there are only a handful serious magazines, TV shows, and Internet sites. People are interested in food no doubt, but most are more interested in watching the Food Channel than flipping thru the Oxford Companion to Food. People can casually watch TV or read a couple of food magazines a month and seriously improve the way they eat. You also run into diminishing returns pretty early on. Reading a couple of publications a month will certainly broaden your knowledge of food without taking up too much time. Spending the majority of your waking hours on EGullet will continue to increase your knowledge, but it will also peg you as a social outcast. Of course, anyone who has traveled outside the country probably realizes how lucky we are to have the breadth of choices we do. If you travel to Japan ,you eat sushi. Travel to China, you eat Chinese. Travel to France, you eat French. Not just because these are the local cuisines, but for the most part they are the only cuisines worth eating in those places. To my mind, this is probably the biggest advantage America's food scene has. In many American cities, you can eat quality Japanese, Chinese, French cuisine any night of the week, along with hundreds of others. Granted, it's a tradeoff. Sure, there are a lot of restaurants where the wine choices are limited to Columbia Crest Merlot and Oakville EXtreme-Oak Chardonnay. But where else can you enjoy Ouzo with a Greek platter on Monday, Lone Star with you BBQ on Tuesday, and a Mouton Rothschild with your steak on Wednesday? -Steven
  13. So, what's the verdict on Joe's soul food restaurant?
  14. It's at 3652 Bee Caves... not sure if that's near Walsh Tarlton. It's in a strip mall, about a half mile west of the Belgian Cafe, maybe two miles east of 360. If you bring cash or check, it's 15% off six bottles.
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