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Everything posted by mcdowell

  1. I'm not so sure. It's not just state codes that vacillate. Go browse around ttb.gov (treasury's alcohol tax division) and you'll find that there's a pretty even split between spellings, though where definitions are offered it seems that "whiskey" outweighs "whisky" in the code. ATF is similarly confused. I'm not sure I know where to look for the "official American spelling", given the rampant inconsistencies in the federal code. Wikipedia, I think, is using authoritative tone where it might not be so appropriate (imagine that).
  2. Note the spelling. Much of the pertinent legal regulations may be found here, in 27 C.F.R. PART 5—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF DISTILLED SPIRITS. ← Unless, of course, you're in Kentucky and looking at the language of the code there, where "whisky" doesn't seem to be the preferred spelling, as example: Note the spelling. As in most things language, ambiguity and inconsistency rule. Keeps it fun.
  3. If you're on the Terlingua side, there's a little place called the Starlight Diner on the hill with the ghost town and the general store. The menu was surprisingly sophisticated and the food surprisingly fresh (given where we were). It's called the 'starlight' because part of the roof is missing and you can see the stars. The night I was there, they had live jazz. The night before, when I tried to eat there, I found a hand written sign "gone exploring in Mexico, back in 2 days". Your mileage may vary. You don't say where you're coming from, but try and travel through Marfa. If you haven't been there, it's a real treat. Have some wine at the Marfa Book Company, and meal at Jett's Grill at Hotel Paisano. AND you can see the Marfa lights, decide for yourself whether Texas was settled by aliens.
  4. To force a fresh & hot fry at McDonald's, ask for an order without salt.
  5. For what it's worth, I loved your original write-up. I think it's asinine that any of us here, in these forums, would stoop to critiquing anybody's dinner party based on pictures and ingredients. I'm a little embarrassed for the writers of some of this feedback. Food, when not used as fuel, should be about pleasure. And a dinner party should be about creating a shared experience that brings both emotional and sensual pleasure. If you were paying for the experience, then the host might have different obligations. But this guy was there to share the night and help you indulge in a little distraction from life, and it sounds like that happened here. If those made-from-pilsbury pigs-in-a-blanket felt right on your tongue, then none of us should question that.
  6. I've fallen asleep in front of a computer screen more often than I'll ever admit, but then I work in technology. I work on the the side of the business that is enabling these sorts of gadgets, getting paid to live five and ten years in the future. I'm a fan of these sorts of devices, and I think they really will change the way we go about the business of living. If I were simply reading, I can easily see a day in the very near future where an eBook reader might be my primary choice. And if I were just using a text as a reference, looking for a recipe, say, then I often use the internet, and can see using the eBook. The problem is, I rarely use cookbooks as reference -- I use them as inspiration. I don't always know when I grab one off of my shelf what it is I'm looking for. I see my cookbooks very much as analog to my art and design books. In that regard, I think that the technology is failing us. While I can use an electronic text and scan through pictures and bold face titles looking for something to light my pilot, it's far more enjoyable to take a fat book to my most comfortable chair and flip through it. I'm almost always surprised by what I find, and I relish the intangible feelings I get from the tactile experience of touching the pages and holding the book. I could do that on the computer, but it all just seems a little soulless to me. I want the feel of the paper under my fingertips. I want to flip the pages and be surprised. I want to navigate without a map. eBooks don't let me do that yet. All that said, we've done some studies on the impact of these classes of technology. The "tweener" generation, the one right behind most of us, doesn't have the nostalgic and emotional ties to these physical objects. I little doubt that phsical books will go largely go by the wayside within a couple of generations, cookbooks included. I'd say sooner, but newspapers have proven that we'll support the printing business long past their need. Me, I'm going to miss them. I'll read a novel on epaper without complaint, and already largely use the internet as my reference library, but I want my art printed, and sitting right over there on my kitchen shelf.
  7. Forget the food, anything public to share, from the dinner, on why he's out at Bloomberg?? And, FG, your visit made gawker.com yesterday (so says my girlfriend, as I'd -never- read a gossip site) w/ the headline "sad restaurant critic burns food": http://gawker.com/5002921/sad-restaurant-critic-burns-food
  8. It's not clear where you're located, but here's a list that might get you started: http://killtherestaurant.com/findings.html
  9. There's an interesting exchange w/ Anthony Bourdain on-topic in this past weekend's "The Onion", full text online here: http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/anthony_bourdain, and excerpted by me, below: ... AVC: Do you ever feel like your sense of taste or smell was diminished by your drug use? AB: Who knows? I think, technically, male palates start to decline very early anyway, around 27 or 28. That's what God made salt for. AVC: Do you feel like your smoking has affected it? AB: Oh, I'm sure it has. But most chefs smoke. I always love reading on the foodie blogs, these complete idiots who say, "I would never eat food made for me by a smoker." Listen, asshole: You've been eating food made by smokers your whole fucking life. Most of the three-star chefs—at least half of them—smoke. ...
  10. Matt's is to Tex Mex as Salt Lick is to BBQ. Something like that. Trying to categorize all of this is a slippery slope, I really hate that term 'authentic', and I'm usually dragged kicking and screaming to places like Matt's or Maudies (unless tequila is involved at some level)... all that said, my two favorite places in town for Mexican-inspired fare are: Curra's Grill, Oltorf just west of I-35 (think there's a north location as well, but have never been) is a favorite lunch place, modestly priced, but with a really good selection of moles, and more variety and surprises than you might find at your typical cheesy enchilada & taco shack. Fonda San Miguel, up on North Loop and a little higher-end, is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and also one that I think sits well outside the classification of Tex-Mex (though it is definitely Mexican, more Diane Kennedy than Rob Walsh). Their menus are up online at http://www.fondasanmiguel.com. What I'd really like to find in Austin is a 'new mexico-mex' place, with the sorts of great chili sauces that you find throughout that state...
  11. By and large relationships are about sharing passions, especially this passion that many of us have around things epicurean (almost by definition a shared experience). My partners don't have to have tastes that match mine, or even what I judge to be a sophisticated/educated palate, but they do have to have a willingness to indulge and experiment. And to not be judgmental. Two quick anecdotes: I lived with a woman once, not long ago, who initiated and took me to an amazingly innovative Thai restaurant just outside of San Francisco. She had the pad thai (of course), and I ordered a spiced frog leg dish. She watched me eat, then she stopped eating, pushed her plate away, and told me: "it makes me sad and disgusted that you would eat that". She stole my joy with that simple sentence, and it ruined the night for both of us. A recent girlfriend, I took to a relatively high-end and experimental sushi restaurant here in Austin called Uchi. One of the best in the country. And I spent about $200, including the sake. She told me that it was good, but she just couldn't "appreciate food that cost more than about $20". That took away, for me, much of the joy of sharing my favorite restaurants with her. We'd still go, but less and less often. It created a dead spot for me. Fortunately, we liked to cook for each other, and that compensated. I love wine, but can (and have) dated alcoholic women with no problem. A girl who's idea of ideal sunday brunch is waiting in line at the IHOP, and turns her nose up at Fonda San Miguel (or my eggs on my deck), different story. I'd like to, but I don't have to, share my books, my art, my porn, the things that feed my inner life... but food, drink, socializing with my crowd, that's an important part of my outer life, and I need a partner who fits. I've been around long enough to know that, given my lifestyle and tastes, 'has food issues' is an important indicator as to the kind of person I'm with, and whether I'll find ultimate compatibility. Which is what it's all about, because eventually you have to sober up, put on your clothes, and exist with this person you've chosen for yourself. What's important enough for you to keep that connection?
  12. I buy nearly all of my tools at local Acemart Restaurant Supply. For non-mainstream stuff it usually comes in extremely competitive, and lasts forever. Recent example, needed a new chinois (china cap). $20 bought me a 10" steel tool at the restaurant supply store, whereas at the more traditional outlets they start north of $50USD (you can do this experiment yourself online). Also a goldmine for things like baking hardware and squeeze bottles... wander the aisles and you'll find things you never knew you needed. My pans & knives are high end and pretty, but stockpots, etc, all from restaurant supply, including a cache of inexpensive but quality saucepans to handle the busy nights in the kitchen.
  13. Totally agree with melkor. And while I find Bourdain (one example in the original slate article) oft projects a little too much affected machismo, I can read John Thorne or Jim Harrison all day long, satisfying my urges. In fact, Harrison & his Raw and Cooked column in Esquire back in the late 80's heavily influenced my early culinary attitudes, while I'd only flip through Gourmet, looking at the pretty pictures. Even so, browse the food-heavy section at the local Barnes & Noble and you'll find that flowery prose still far out-numbers the macho writing by a couple of orders of magnitude. If anything, there's not nearly enough Hemingway balancing out the plenitude of Nicolas Spark's out there, on any shelf or subject. And aren't we long overdue for another Thorne collection??
  14. [edited to say Whoops - wrong London]
  15. I agree - I'm not a big fan of the Clay Pit. It's not bad, but mediocre. I think it attains its hype level strictly on the merit of it's location. One place I do like is Sar-o-Var on Burnett, just south of 183. It's in a strip center on the west side of the road. I've eaten there 3 or 4 times this year and have always been satisfied. There's another place on Anderson, in strip mall adjoining the Alamo Drafthouse. I don't remember the name, but had the lunch buffet there a few weeks back. It's passable, but not a destination. Sadly, I've not found a place on the south/soutwest side of town, where I live and work. If you have recommendations, speak up!
  16. Can't help you with fresh sources, but looks like there are at least two web sites where you can order, and who don't seem to have shipping restrictions w/in the US: www.crawfish.cc www.exoticmeats.com $15-20lb + hellacious shipping. You'd have to love turtle.
  17. I don't know where to go in Palo Alto, but I lived in Cupertino for a long while. I really liked Marina Grocery on Bandley Drive (just off Stevens Creek, west of where it crosses De Anza). Large, extremely clean, and well stocked with all of your Asian produce and fish needs. Between Marina Grocery, the Whole Foods up the block, and Trader Joe's there on Foothill, most of your specialty needs can be covered within a couple of mile radius. Man, I miss California.
  18. mcdowell

    Street Food

    I was completely overwhelmed on my first visit to Delhi. We had toured Red Fort and, against the very strong advice of the 'escort' our hosts had arranged for us, decided to walk the surrounding streets. This was the middle of the afternoon on a warm April day, just this past spring. I'm a big man. Just over six foot tall and built like a middle linebacker. My hair is very blond, and in April I had it long and in a ponytail. I was dressed like the Texan I am, short pants and a comfortable cotton shirt. It was hot after all. We walked down a crowded alley, my travel buddy and I, pointing ourselves towards the domes of Jama Masjid. I could smell the food cooking somewhere up the street, it was quite pervasive, and I was following my nose. Tired of too many nights of bland hotel food, I wanted what everyone else was eating. So we headed out to find it. What I didn't expect was the reaction that our appearance caused -- people would quite literally stop and stare, nudge their buddy and point at the overfed American with the long blond hair. I wasn't sure how to feel about it, but quickly realized just how out of place my appearance was. On this day, I was the only white face that I noticed (at least outside of the fort and temple). So I rolled with it. A one-legged boy came up and offered to be our guide (the first of probably 20 such encounters), but our escort showed his weapon and shooed the kid away. That was the second thing that struck me, the breadth of beggers and available 'guides', and how even little children would hold babies and head towards the rare white faces, asking for spare rupees. We pushed through the crowds around Red Fort and the Jain Temple, past the stalls of the seemingly ubiquitous trinkets and cheap electronics, to discover alley after alley packed with stall after stall of the most amazing and delicious smelling foods that you could ever imagine. We had mutton korma, tikkas, kabobs, biryani... and dish after dish of food that I couldn't recognize or describe today, but that I was drawn too by the sensuous bouquet and wonderful textures, and I ate it all -- and all while my buddy simply stared and told me that I would soon die of food borne illness. I've been all over the world, but this trip down the side streets of Old Delhi is one of the more amazing culinary experiences I'd been pleasured to have. It's up there with anything I've found in Asia. But it's not for the timid tourist, to be sure, but is very much there for the adventurous, and very rewarding.
  19. mcdowell

    Baies Roses

    I visited the little island country of Mauritius not long ago and was given, as one of the parting gifts at the event I attended, a collection of island spices and flavors used in the local cuisine (along with way too much vanilla-infused Rum -- but different topic!). I have no problem with the curry blends and the fennel and sugars and such, but... I have 50g of something called "Baies Roses". Very beautiful pink & red peppercorns. At least they look like peppercorns, but they seem more fragile. Google is less than useful to me on this one, as most of the hits I've found are in French, and that's a language I don't speak. So, Gulleteers, what can I do with these things? Are they really peppercorns? And how long will they keep? I seem to have a lot of them and, not really knowing the shelf-life, I haven't yet broken the seal on the bag. But they're starting to mock me.
  20. My favorite is Yuki Sushi, little place, lot of character, fills up early, corner of Winchester & Pruneridge, just north of Stevens Creek near the mall. Fantastic sushi & sashimi, and a more traditional Japanese menu for those so inclined. It's also less than a mile from Santana Row, where you can get coffee or desert after.
  21. My parents live in League City. Can you tell me more about this place? What's it called? What's so special about their kolaches? ← You have to be talking about 'kolache bakery' there on 518 -- it's very good (my parents live just west of League City).
  22. I'll offer a more dispassionate view. You’re both right, and it’s not about tomatoes, really, but the natural path of a product following the curve from craftsman to commodity. This is very well understood mechanism in product development circles: When you have a new product being nurtured by a relatively few number of artisans, you essentially guarantee quality. A limited market won't tolerate substandard. As the market develops, with a demand that virtually guarantees that whatever you put into the market will consumed, the number of providers will increase, and there will be, as result, a tremendously greater amount of fruit moving through the market. Greater amount of fruit from larger number of vendors leads to natural variations in quality when you look at the overall market for heirloom tomatoes. This is what Steven is saying: quality across the population of products is varying far more than it used to, and you can no longer assume that it’s going to be good. And he’s right; and this is natural and expected (the variation, not that Steven is right!). But even in the face of increased production across numerous vendors, with the resultant quality variations across the population of all heirloom tomatoes being sold, there remains a consistency within each vendor, and some take more pride than others. The craftsmen are still there, just maybe a little more lost in the noise. The “good” tomatoes from 1997 are still there, just adrift amid a sea of competitors. You have to seek them out. That’s what Dave is saying. And he’s right. It’s not about tomatoes. You see the same thing in every trendy food (or insert your favorite product category here) that’s caught the commodity wave. It’s almost like saying you can’t get good goat’s milk cheese anymore, or olive oil, or good Angus burgers (isn’t there a McDonald’s thread somewhere on that one??). The truth is that you can, but you have to know where to look. As the market matures, the consumer has to become more discriminating for things that matter to him. You don't buy the good olive oil at Costco -- at least I don't. My mother does. One of the points of eG, as far as I’m concerned, is having that dialog about where to look for the quality of experience, and help each other isolate the artisans and craftsmen that are dear to us; but this forum is equally critical in identifying where we’re in danger of trending into territory where experiences are starting differ as the market evolves (be it EVOO or Heirloom tomatoes) and to educate the greater base about the experiences that are possible. Good topic. I hate that you guys are bickering over this (entertaining as it might be!)
  23. I travel fairly extensively and quite often find myself alone in far-flung cities, where I will seek out a good restaurant and dine, alone, at a table. Sometimes I read, but mostly I sip my wine and gaze the room, or maybe lose myself in my blackberry (no company, does that make it a social faux pas?). But I’m a man, confident in myself, and fairly difficult to intimidate socially. A woman I know who travels the globe nearly as much as I do abhors the thought of eating alone. She will choose room service over any of the alternatives almost every time. She believes, quite strongly, that women put themselves into situations where they’re vulnerable, or that they’re sending inadvertent messages to those watching (esp single men), when they position themselves alone. So, to tweak the question just a bit: are women more uncomfortable, as a whole, in dining alone than men are? Should they be?
  24. You're absolutely right (or your friend, Miss Vadalia was!), and an appallingly large number of grocers mislabel any sweet onion as 'vidalia', turning it inappropriately into an adjective. But to answer your question:
  25. mcdowell


    I've had good luck w/ Dean & Deluca: http://www.deananddeluca.com
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