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Everything posted by carswell

  1. Love the onion gratin idea. A certifiably great paring with beef. Staying in the same family, leeks braised with butter and finished with Parmesan are another beef-friendly side. And let's not forget the classic: mashed potatoes. For a treat, flavour them with garlic or horseradish. Or skip the leeks and put the Parmesan in the spuds.
  2. Sicilian blood oranges often come wrapped in tissue paper printed with the brand name and logo. I remember seeing, years ago, Tarocco oranges wrapped in red paper emblazoned with the head-and-shoulders portrait of a person of colour and, I believe, the brand name Moro, which in this instance would translate as Moor or Negro. Chances are your Moro was a brand name, not a variety, especially as the variety is rarely specified on packaging.
  3. While I'm not an expert, my info comes from discussions with some of the city's top green grocers. There are two main varieties of blood orange*: Tarocco and Moro. Yours sound like Moros. Moros are red or even purple fleshed. They come into season earlier than the Tarrocos and their flavour changes as the season progresses: very tart early on and disagreeably musky toward the end. Frankly, I find them something of a crapshoot. They used to be pretty rare birds in these parts. For the last couple of years or so, they've been brought in from the States (not sure where, though Florida is said to be potentially prime blood orange country) bearing Sunkist stickers and have just about pushed the Tarrocos out of grocery chain produce departments. Another instance of appearance trumping flavour, I guess, and another reason to shop at green grocers. Tarrocos are larger and slightly softer and the peel is often looser. The flesh is typically orange with red streaks, though sometimes there's no red at all. The flavour is far superior to Moro's (Montreal's leading artisanal ice cream maker, Havre aux glaces, uses only them for its fabulous blood orange sherbet). The ones we see here almost always come from Italy, usually Sicily. ____________ *In light of Adam's post, this should probably read "There are two main varieties of blood orange sold in Montreal."
  4. Leméac's steak frites is as good as ever but their post-22:00 special is now $22. How friggin' congruent. <grumble>
  5. I say rest for 30 minutes, minimum. ← You're quoting out of context. Child suggests resting the roast, untented, on the countertop for 10 to 15 minutes and then transfering it to the cooled oven, where it rests for up to another hour.
  6. Julia Child's method never fails. For a seven-rib, 17-pound roast, smear the cut ends with butter, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a preheated 325ºF (170ºC) oven for 3¼ to 4 hours, until the meat's internal temperature is 125ºF (52ºC) for medium rare. Every half hour, baste the cut ends with the fat that accumulates in the pan. About an hour before the end of the cooking, strew some chopped onions and carrots around the roast. You should start checking the temperature at or slightly before the 3-hour point; when it reaches 105ºF (41ºC), check it every 5 minutes. As soon as the desired temperature is reached, remove the roast from the oven, leaving the door ajar. Allow the meat to rest for 10 or 15 minutes while the oven cools, then return it to the oven, close the oven door and leave it, for up to an hour. Check the temperature every 15 minutes; 100ºF (38ºC) is fine for serving. While the roast rests, make the jus. Remove the fat from the roasting pan. Add 2 or 3 cups beef stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom. Bring to a simmer, mashing the vegetables into the broth. If you want to add rosemary, now's the time to do it. Skim off any fat. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, strain the jus into a warmed sauce boat, adding any juices from the resting roast.
  7. Yes, some unevolved wines may benefit from several hours breathing. It's more oxidization than accelerated aging, though. The wine's appearance doesn't change; it does when aged. And neither the bouquet nor taste evolve as they would with time in the bottle; for example, secondary and tertiary characteristics simply don't develop. Generally, however, I'm mystified by the number of geeks, including several whose palates I admire, who make a point of tasting a bottle over two, three or more days and often speak of the wine in glowing terms on the basis of its Day 3 showing. My experience is that most wines suffer when exposed to air for more than a few hours. They may taste softer but they also taste flatter. As a result, I almost invariably decant leftovers into small bottles at the earliest possible moment and gas them with Private Preserve. FWIW, a few years ago, friends and I did side-by-side tests of four young mid-priced wines — two whites (a Burg and an Alsatian riesling) and two reds (a Burg and a Bordeaux). A third of each bottle was transferred to a 250-ml bottle and gassed; another third into a half-bottle and "sealed" with a Vacu-vin type system; and a third was left in the original bottle and recorked. The wines were tasted blind two days later. In every case, the majority preferred the gassed wine.
  8. Nick Robinson (of www.montrealfood.com) and Barry Lazar (occasionally of the Gazette) have just raised the bar for foodie pictorials of Jean-Talon Market and environs. Turn on your speakers and click here for a Quicktime video tour that includes Caffè Italia, Roma, Poisonnerie Shamrock (dancing lobsters!), Jean-Talon Market (winter enclosure, extension, Prince Noir, Qui Lait Cru?, Hamel) and a pit stop at Schwartz's. Of course, they made the vid in winter, so we may still need to rely on sf&m's soul-warming pics of the market in August to raise our sagging spirits.
  9. ...that also happens to deliver good bang for the buck. Here's Tastet's take.
  10. Way back when, there used to be a great fish monger on Laurier West, about where the Au Pain Doré outlet is these days IIRC. They had beautiful, lightly smoked, white-fleshed smoked trout and jars of delicious and affordable whitefish caviar from Lake Manitoba. Ever since they closed, I've had a hard time finding either ingredient, especially the trout. All the smoked trout these days seems to be rainbow (i.e. orange-fleshed), heavily smoked and often marinated to boot. It's been years since I've served an appetizer of smoked trout filet with horseradish cream or the simplest and most elegant pasta dish ever, a dish tailor-made for a romantic occasion (in a skillet, reduce heavy cream by a quarter; remove from heat; toss flaked smoked trout and boiled and drained fresh fettuccelli in the skillet with the cream; season with salt and white pepper; plate; garnish each serving with a tablespoon of golden caviar; serve with Champagne). Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Any leads? edit: The recipe's based on one in the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook.
  11. True though that thread's more for reporting finds. I, too, had been thinking of starting a query thread, but gus beat me to it. Fresh curry leaves I usually pick up at one of the Indian/West Indian/SE Asian stores on the west side of Victoria a couple of blocks north of Van Horne. The southernmost store is Marché Victoria Orientale (6324 Victoria, 514 737-4715), though I tend to go first to the smaller store a couple of doors north of that. Both stores also have a wide selection of hard-to-find ingredients like chat masala powder and drumsticks. Just make sure you freeze any dried herbs, spices, grains, pulses and chiles for a few days before putting them in your pantry (unless you like dealing with meal moth infestations, that is). I've also seen curry leaves from time to time at the Kim Phat on Boyer near Côte-des-Neiges.
  12. carswell

    TN: Drinkers' dozen

    One checks one's PM inbox.
  13. The problem is you've given us so little to go on. Knowing what was on the menu would be a big help. That said, Côtes-du-Rhône is arguably the most versatile of reds, so I'd probably go that route. Careful, though, as 2002 was a generally lousy vintage in the inundated southern Rhone and the hellishly hot 2003 produced many blowsy, raisinated, baked/stewed wines. If you can find a bottle, the 2001 Coudoulet de Beaucastel is a lovely wine that would probably hit your price point.
  14. carswell

    Vin Jaune

    While it's probably too late to be of help to you, I'll add some information I just got from a Jura native in case it's of use to someone else. He agreed with the Comté and walnuts pairing and suggested mini-brochettes (of chicken or seafood, for example) flavoured with curry powder (Patricia Wells' Simply French has a Joël Robuchon recipe for curried chicken brochettes) and preparations involving morel mushrooms. He also gave a thumbs-up to my idea of a tarte flambée, the Alsatian "pizza" topped with onions, bacon and crème fraîche, because, as he put it, savagnin likes smoky flavours and vin jaune likes cream.
  15. carswell

    TN: Drinkers' dozen

    Great to have your feedback, thomasein! While I don't consider myself a big SB fan, I have to say this tasting had me questioning whether it wasn't time for a reassessment. To my surprise, in the days after the event my palate was haunted by the wines' clean, pungent, refreshing flavours. I actually craved another taste. The NZ wines are, without a doubt, industrial and geared to a pretty low common denominator; still, I find their exuberence hard to resist. Though not a knock-your-socks-off kind of wine, the Menetou was perfect in its be-all-you-can-be way. Have consumed a couple of bottles since and, yes, it pairs well with seafood. But it also makes a delicious aperitif. The 2004 vintage is said to be classic and 2005 stellar. Let's hope the prices stay more or less put. You weren't alone; several who attended have since told me they found it wow-worthy. I didn't dislike it so much as find it disconcerting (it was nothing like the zin ringer I'd been hoping for). I also wonder how it would fare at table. But character it had in spades.
  16. The vinegar and tomatoes rule out anything fancy or subtle. I'd probably reach for a warm-climate red. Two Greek wines that'd do the trick are the Rispani Reserve from Tsantalis (a blend of native varieties) and the pricier Domaine Gerovassillou (a blend of syrah, merlot and grenache). Sicily makes several wines that would probably work (Ulysse from the slopes of Mt. Etna is a fave) as would the Umbrian Vitiano (a merlot-based blend). Côtes-du-Rhône (and their New World imitators) are extremely versatile and pair nicely with spices. Switching hemispheres, I might incline toward a pinotage.
  17. Can't do picks since steak-frites isn't something I order often. That said, I do enjoy Leméac's hanger steak and fries. Quality meat, always cooked to the specified degree of doneness, a coin of herb butter, a huge pile of thin, crisp fries and mayo maison for dipping. What's more, it's a fixture on the after-10 p.m. menu, so you can get it and your choice of first course (tubetti with snails, portobello mushrooms and confit tomatoes in a puddle of basil foam, for example) for $20. Good wine list and a short but interesting selection of wines by the glass, too. Um, where might that be, sim?
  18. From the useful Cook's Thesaurus Liquid Sweeteners page: I think your idea of combining the Greek "blackstrap" with sugar syrup (or maybe honey) would be worth a try.
  19. Disclaimer: I have zero experience with your machine. That said, you should check with an expert (the manufacturer, a knowledgeable retailer or a geek who knows the machine) before leaving it on for extended periods or putting it on a timer. Vapor lock problems mean some machines, even more prosumerish machines like the NS Oscar, cannot be run off a timer without a third-party fix, which may or may not be available for your machine. In the meantime, see Mark Prince's celebrated Cheating Miss Silvia article on getting cold machines up to temp fast for tips that may be applicable to your rebranded Saeco.
  20. The SAQ has stocked the Iron Horse vintage brut in the past. Good stuff though, as is so often the case with the better California wines, low QPR meant it didn't exactly fly off the shelves.
  21. The knee-jerk substitution is flank steak or hanger steak. Disclaimer: Am unsure which thread you're referring to, so I haven't seen the recipe or a description of the dish. Provide a link, pointer or description and we'll be more specific.
  22. As I recall, the problem stemmed from an insecticide used to treat the wood beams in an off-site cellar the chateau rented for storage. Only the barrels stored in the cellar were affected. Am fairly sure the first problem vintage was the '86. It is one of the few Bordeaux I own a case of and I remember feeling sick to my stomach when I first read that my bottles could be infected (I hadn't tried the wine at that point and probably couldn't have returned it to the vendor). Am relieved to say the only problem with my bottles is that, as Bill points out, they won't be à point for another decade at a minimum. But, man, did I ever open that first bottle with trepidation!
  23. carswell

    WTN: Catching Up

    Like Clos du Papillon, La Jalousie is the name of the plot that the grapes used to make the wine come from. Don't know why they only recently changed the wine's name but it may be related to their increasing emphasis on terroir. The 2002, which I haven't yet tasted, is supposed to be made in a new, somewhat more accessible style (malolactic allowed, aging on lees with stirring).
  24. She didn't say fish made her gag, just that she is less fond of it than her husband. Don't know about you, but when I prepare a birthday dinner for someone, I usually put his/her preferences ahead of my own. Besides, the dish in question, especially when made with wild striped bass and impeccably fresh shellfish, is one that can make a believer out of a fish doubter (I've seen it happen); eliminating the bones often does the trick and, if it doesn't, the savoury, briny, herby smell/taste and moist texture almost assuredly will.
  25. It's getting lost in the flood of ideas, so please let me bump up Marcella's whole fish stuffed with shellfish, the suggestion that popped into my head when I read your call for help and before I'd read Pontormo's post. It's a perfect dish for large gatherings: it's simple to put together and a good part of the prep can be done ahead of time; the recipe is easily expandable (two or three fish would be sufficient for your crowd); each fish is wrapped in foil before baking so no fancy cookware is required and the fish can easily be moved from counter, to oven to table; once the fish are assembled and in the oven, there's no more work involved, leaving you free to concentrate on other things; the fish are deboned by the fishmonger, meaning you slice them like a roast and diners don't have to deal with the skeletons; you are guaranteed at least four rounds of oohs and ahs (on bringing it to the table, on opening the foil and releasing the delicious aromas, on slicing it and on eating); and, despite its simplicity, the dish creates a sense of occasion, making it appropriate for a special occasion. As your husband is a fish lover, he'd be doubly impressed. A make-ahead dessert that I've been getting a lot of milage out of lately and that never fails to delight comes from a local restaurant, Brunoise: vanilla panna cotta with basil syrup and passion fruit pulp, an unusual combination of flavours that makes blissfully perfect sense once you've tried them together. The most elegant presentation is in martini glasses or champagne flutes, though I've been known to use tea cups for a crowd (if the cups are all the same height, you can stack them in a fridge so they don't take up much space). I usually serve them with a crisp, rolled cookie; for something fancier, you could take a cue from the resto and whip up some petit fours. Since I'm invariably asked for the recipe when I serve it, I have the script typed up. If you'd like it, shoot me a PM and specify the language (it's in French but I could translate it into English a flash because it's really, really short).
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