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carswell

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Everything posted by carswell

  1. Hi, Paula. As you know, I'm a huge fan of duck confit, so I'm delighted to find TCOSWF contains recipes for confit calf's tongue, pork and toulouse sausages besides the expected duck, goose and gizzards. But I'm also curious about other types of confit you may be familiar with. Confit lamb shank has almost become a cliché in Quebec restaurants, but I don't recall ever seeing confit rabbit or hare on offer here or elsewhere. Ditto beef, venison, boar and veal, not to mention exotic game meats (squirrel, antelope, camel, alligator, etc.). Is fish (e.g. tuna) ever confited? A local butcher shop occasionally offers confit sweetbreads; I've not bought them because the shop's duck confit is second-rate and because I'm uncertain how to use them (in a salad? as an appetizer?) or even prepare them (whole? sliced? cold? heated in the oven? steamed? fried?). Does other offal lend itself to the confit technique? And are these preparations at all traditional or is it a case of finding new uses for a traditional technique? Lastly, is confit an exclusively southwest French thing or is something like it found in other cuisines?
  2. Bear in mind that I've only eaten food from Arzou, not Restaurant Uyghur. Anyway, definitely not gewurz. A savoury, warm but not too big red would do the trick (not too big because the meat is always well-done). A Côtes-du-Rhône or St-Joseph, say, or something from one of the Rhône rangers. Or maybe a Languedoc or Gaillac, especially if they had some syrah in them.
  3. Mali is the worst of the bunch. At least the staff at Café Union are friendly and give you the impression they care. A few years ago, I was obsessing over the Isomac Zeffiro and overjoyed to learn it had a Montreal distributor, namely Mali. I trundled off to the store, had sticker shock at the price (C$1,900 vs. US$800 from Chris' Coffee, IIRC) and was disgusted by the staff's "you ignorant non-Gucci wearer, why are you making me waste my time on you" attitude and outright lies ("our grinders are the best period; none of that Mazzer Mini crap"). I haven't set foot in the place since. People over on the coffee board know more about this than I do, but it's my impression that the city isn't a great place to go espresso machine shopping. Just about everyone, including many Canadians, recommends dealing with one of the online merchants (Chris' Coffee, The Daily Grind, 1st Line, Whole Latte Love, Espresso Parts Northwest, Sweet Maria's, etc.) from both a price and service standpoint. The first two on the list have the advantage of being located in the Albany, NY, area (i.e. a five-hour drive from Montreal).
  4. FYI, a lukewarm review of Restaurant Uyghur was posted this morning on Chowhound. The poster found the food fairly good but unremarkable, the lighting too bright and the ambience next to nil. However, he did provide this interesting piece of news: the resto's a BYOB.
  5. carswell

    Pintxo

    Salomon, your point about the small portions is well taken. When recommending Pintxo, I always mention that it's not a place to go when you're hungry enough to eat a horse. That said, I've had dinner there twice with a total of nine other persons and no one has complained of leaving hungry, angry or feeling ripped off. Of course, all of us ordered the table d'hôte ($28 for four pintxos of their choosing and a main and dessert of your choosing); that strikes me as the way to go, from both a cost and quantity standpoint. Also, is $330 so excessive for a party of five? What does that come to before taxes and tip? $260? $280? Let's split the difference and say $270. Subtracting $100 for your two bottles of wine, we're left with $170 for food. Divided by five, that's $34 a person. Also, in reply to another post, Pintxo's wine markups are pretty standard. While I haven't done a bottle-by-bottle comparison with the SAQ list price, the five bottles I've ordered were basically twice the SAQ's commercial network price rounded up to the nearest dollar. What's more, the resto has several drinkable wines in the $25 to $40 range. Sure I'd love a 50% markup, but that's the exception, not the rule, in Montreal restaurants.
  6. carswell

    Confit Duck

    Am sure it can be done but unsure why anyone would want to. First, the shape of the bird, with its huge cavity, means a prodigious amount of fat would be required. Second, you'd be confiting the breasts, which don't take to the treatment as well as the legs and wings do.
  7. Four more that spring to mind: - A dry to off-dry Alsatian gewurztraminier with red-skinned new potatoes boiled until just tender, sliced while hot, piled into a buttered baking dish, topped with slices of raw-milk Munster, sprinkled with cumin seeds and run under the broiler until the chesse melts and bubbles. - Nebbiolo, mature enough to be yielding, young enough to be vibrant, with a tortino gorgonzola (individual gorgonzola soufflé). - Mature nebbiolo, Burgundy and Claret with mushroom ragout. - Provençal-type rosé with tarte aux blettes (swiss chard, golden raisin and pine nut pie in an olive oil crust dusted before serving with powdered sugar).
  8. For some reason, I've never been big on either duck or lamb with pinot. As far as duck breasts go, it's worth bearing in mind that the idea of cooking duck breast like you do steak originated in southwest France (they had lots of duck meat left over from foie gras production, and breast isn't well-suited to confit). Not surprisingly, many tannic reds from that region pair beautifully with it: Madiran, Cahors, Côtes de Buzet, Médoc, Fronsac, Corbières, etc. So, I'd lean toward the cabernet-merlot blend. Still, there's no denying that it's among the most wine-friendly red meats.
  9. By the way, people should feel free to use this thread for sharing other horror stories (maybe we can shame the merchants into lowering their prices) and leads to good buys (anyone who points me to an Expobar Brewtus for under C$1,000 delivered will earn my eternal gratitude and a year's worth of free lattes). In the lead department, Toronto's Green Beanery is selling the crème de la crème of domestic grinders, the Mazzer Mini for $529, a price that compares well with US retailers' (the last price I saw quoted in the Montreal area was $850 at the now-defunct Dezco); plus, while you pay for delivery, you don't pay PST. Also, Edmonton's Caffe Tech has become the Canadian distributor for the Chris' Coffee upgrade of the QuickMill Andreja, the Andreja Premium. If believe I recall reading that Caffe Tech's pricetag was about C$200 less than Café Union's for the standard Andreja. In the horror story department, prices for Innova's stylish line of espresso machines appear to be spiking. Last I checked, the Arc could be found around town for $400 to $450 but is now going for $723 at Green Beanery. Similarly, Café Union lists the polished aluminum Dream for $650; Green Beanery has what I assume is the same machine for a cool $1,084.
  10. carswell

    Alba v. Perigord

    To my nose, Himalayan truffles smell very much like Périgord truffles but are short on flavour (the best use I've found for them is to truffle eggs); in cooked dishes, what little flavour they have fades even further. According to the Wikipedia article I linked to above, Chinese truffles look like their Périgord counterparts but taste bland and have a chewy texture; no one I know who has used them has been impressed. Italian black or summer truffles — which around here are the ones most commonly seen in cans and jars (look for the scientific name Tuber aestivum on the label) — are pleasant in their own right but don't begin to approach winter truffles in the intensity or complexity of their aroma and flavour.
  11. Yep, I was including them under shipping. Apparently they can vary greatly, depending on the shipping method and carrier. A while back, Chris' Coffee Service in Albany was paying both borkerage and shipping on most orders to Canada. Don't know what their policy is these days.
  12. carswell

    Alba v. Perigord

    The so-called Alba truffle is Tuber magnatum. A Chinese summer white truffle exists but is rare and, according to Wikipedia, has yet to be given a scientific name. Two types of Chinese truffle are found on world markets and both are black: Chinese (T. sinensis aka T. Indicum); and Himalayan (T. himalayensis). I have experience only with the latter. It is indeed inferior to both the Périgord aka French aka winter truffle (T. melanosporum) and the summer aka Italian black truffle (T. aestivum). The Chinese black truffle is said to be inferior to the Himalayan. I believe Oregon white and black truffles are different species from the any of the above.
  13. Am gearing up (and salting away) to buy a new espresso machine. While sticker shock is a common occurence here in la belle province, especially for heat exchanger and two-boiler machines, I think I've just run across the jaw-droppingest price of all. The QuickMill Eliane is a single-boiler, non-heat exchanger machine with the coveted E61 grouphead. Current price at 1st Line: US$699. Estimated price for delivery to your Montreal doorstep (including foreign exchange, shipping, duty and GST/QST): C$1,000–C$1,100. Current price at Café Union in Montreal's Little Italy: C$1,795. Price including GST/QST but excluding delivery: C$2,066. In other words, we're talking double the price to buy the machine from a local merchant. The strange thing is that the Eliane's big sister, the QuickMill Andreja, a bigger machine with a heat exchanger and a dedicated hot-water wand, lists for a mere C$200 more at Café Union. C$1,995 almost seems like a bargain, until you notice that 1st Line has the same machine for US$995. Will someone please make the case that local espresso machine retailers aren't taking us to the cleaners, that you wouldn't be a fool to buy an Eliane from Café Union? Haven't local merchants heard of the Internet? Why do they seem intent on pushing us to take our business and dollars out of province?
  14. Robin Garr's Wine Lovers Discussion Group and Food Lovers Discussion Group used to have a real names policy (exceptions were allowed when circumstances warranted), and the feeling among participants was that it tended to create a stronger community and favour more civil discourse. Ironically, the policy has just been abandoned, as the groups have migrated to the Netscape community fora (where they're now collectively referred to as the Wine Lovers Community) and Netscape does not insist on real names. Some old-timers have stopped participating as a result. I believe erobertparker.com also has a real names policy but, as I've always avoided the place (even back when it was Mark Squires' Wine Board), I don't have an impression as to its impact.
  15. Is it safe to assume that you, Russ and jbonne are comfortable with the "celebrity" status that your being published authors confers? It's not something I crave in the slightest; I'm not in this for the glory or the perks. In fact, at one point I stopped posting on Chowhound because I was profoundly uncomfortable with my online persona being referred to as a "star," with requests being made for the best "Carswellian bistro," etc. As someone whose name is unique in Montreal, Canada and possibly the world, I'm instantly identifiable. I'm also a freelancer and frequently discuss — always fairly, sometimes critically — one of my clients on various online fora. If I were to post the criticisms under my real name, the client would know it was I who wrote them and would probably stop sending me contracts. It's why I don't write letters to the editor of local papers critical of, say, major banks, though god knows I have a lot to say after seeing from the inside how they work and what their goals are. If I post a critical or glowing review of a restaurant, the staff is probably going to recognize my name the next time I call to make a reservation (call display doesn't do pseudonyms), which, in turn, may prejudice how they treat me. Also, I know of two women and one man who have been stalked as a result of their participation in online discussion groups. One of them even had to take out a restraining order. And besides, is someone like me (with a "paper trail" of nearly 1,400 posts on eG and hundreds, if not more, on Chowhound) or tommy (14,000+ eG posts and counting) really that anonymous? Haven't we earned a kind of street cred? All of which is to say I don't think it's as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be.
  16. Have you ever asked for one at Cafe Italia or Olympico, jb? (I've not but they both know how to pull a decent espresso.)
  17. A freelancer who often works to very tight deadlines, I regularly find myself in this position. My strategies are several. I almost always cook one big batch of something reheatable or recyclable on the weekend when I have a little more time: stew, chili, lentil or bean soup, a roast. I also avail myself of the frozen prepared main courses on offer at a couple of local butchers; some of them are quite good (venison stew, quail with cognac, cassoulet, etc.). A whole rotisserie chicken in the fridge is a source of comfort as well as nutrition. The roasts and chicken are usually eaten warm the first time around and as additions to a salade canaille (the salad version of a Dagwood sandwhich) in subsequent incarnations (I'm not a big sandwich person). I also have a small repertory of ultraquick-from-scratch pasta dishes, recipes for a couple of which I posted in a thread the then-kitchenless Varmint started a while back. If you cook your rice the day or three before, egg-fried rice (stir-fried egg, rice and green onion in its most basic form) takes no more than 10 minutes to prepare. Tuna and bean salad is a lifesaver: combine a rinsed and drained 19-oz can of white kidney beans, a drained can of tuna (preferably packed in olive oil) and half a red onion thinly sliced; dress with high-quality red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Cheese, bread, sliced pear and some watercress. Salad of arugula, crispy pancetta, black olives and parmesan shavings dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. As the lady sang, "these are a few of my favourite things." edit: Sorry. I misunderstood the intent of your post. Breakfast cereal, sometimes straight from the box sans milk, is about as low as I regularly go, though a few weeks ago I plowed through an entire container of powdered almonds (bought for a tart but absolutely the only thing in the pantry) and followed it up with half a small jar of honey (straight from the jar, no bread in the house). Alcohol is out 'cause I need every last brain cell for work, especially when pulling an all-nighter. It is welcome as a way of puching out at the end of a session, however, and is sometimes necessary to stop the mental gears from spinning at 3 or 4 a.m.
  18. Among the flyers stuffed into my mailbox this summer was one announcing the grand opening of Arzou Express (6254 Côte des Neiges, 514 731-2184), a restaurant featuring Uighur (also spelled Uyghur) cuisine. "Uighur?" you ask. Relating to the Turkic and largely Muslim people that comprise the largest ethnic group in Chinese Turkestan, now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (yet another spelling!) in northwestern China and sharing borders with Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan (for about 50 km, as per my atlas), Kashmir (the exact border is in dispute) and Tibet. Excuse the list but it's because the cooking strikes me as closer to Kabul than Beijing or Hong Kong: kebabs, noodles and dumplings and even a stuffed nan. Heavy on the red meat, starches and Muslim spices, nary a drop of soy sauce. My favourite dishes to date have been laghman (spicy lamb and red peppers served on hand-made noodles), pitir manta (wonton-like dumplings stuffed with minced beef and onions) and a hearty beef short rib and vegetable soup. Note, however, that my impressions are based on the food delivered to my door; I've been waiting for cooler weather to investigate further and actually visit the resto, though a friend who did summed it up this way: The owner/deliveryman speaks little English and less French, but I believe he told me in August that Arzou Express opened last April and was Montreal and Canada's only Uighur restaurant. Apparently not the first, however, since Paul Gagné refers to a long-closed establishment on Sherbrooke West in his Voir review of Arzou. And now it appears a second Uighur resto has opened. Yesterday a Chowhound post gave a thumbs-up to Restaurant Uyghur (1017 St-Laurent, 514 393-8808), with what sounds like a very similar menu. So, has Montreal become a magnet for Uighur expats? And would that be due to the large number of Muslims from the Middle East and Northern Africa? Well, vive la diversité. And feel free to post any Uighur resto reviews here.
  19. Three of the 2003 Joblot cuvées landed at the Signature today and, except for the Clos Grande Marole, had sold out by noon, despite a $4.50 price hike ($43 vs. $38.50). Odd that the 2003s sold so fast when the probably superior 2002s took more than a week to disappear. Armand Rousseau's 2002 Chambertin Clos de Bèze and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes also flew off the shelves, despite the respective price tags of $195 and $135. And Phaneuf's Guide du vin 2006 is now on sale at a bookstore near you. Also just published is a large-format soft-cover book of Phaneuf's colour photographs of vineyards and wineries around the globe.
  20. From Friday the 18th through Sunday the 20th by all reports.
  21. First time I've heard that. Every French food-and-wine pairing book I've seen has indicated that the traditional accompaniment to French onion or any other soup is no wine at all. Have read that at Les Halles they served FOS with Beaujolais or young Côtes-du-Rhône. Personally, I'd probably opt for a generic Burgundy or a fruity white from Gaillac, Jurançon or elsewhere in the Southwest. But, then again, I'd probably forego the Port. A while back, an e-friend organized a comparison tasting that involved onion soup and several red wines, ranging from zinfandel and Amarone to a $3.99 vin de table from Trader Joe's. The Amarone and Médoc were not good matches; the zin, a Beaujolais and a generic French merlot were OK; to everyone's astonishment, the VDT took the prize. Make of that what you will.
  22. Yep. It's one of the best ways to fill in the many gaps in the SAQ's offer. Not that's it's without problems, however. Prices are often higher than they would be on the open market. And big purchasers get the royal treatment (priority access to sought-after wines; invitations to private tastings; hand delivery of purchases; etc.). Still, some of the "importers" (quotes because the SAQ is technically the importer; the "importer" is the promotional agent) value wine lovers regardless of the thickness of their pocketbooks. Yep. They're a small firm. The prime mover, Jean-Philippe, has one of the best palates in town and is as funny as hell. You can trust them. I almost always find them unique and endearing. Serve them to someone with a Parkerized palate, though, and they'll accuse you of trying to poison them. And the SAQ generally refuses to stock the wines because they're unpredictable, can be cloudy, spritzy, bracingly tart, often have a sedement and (this always kills me) don't contain enough sulphur. Tue-Boeuf is run by the Puzelat brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry, and produces wines from grapes grown in the family's vineyards. Thierry also makes wines from purchased grapes and sells them under his eponymous négociant label. See here and here for some background in English. And just because a wine isn't on Rézin's website, doesn't mean it's not available. They're not religious about updating. And I suspect that if the quantities they receive are small, they don't make an effort to publicize the wine's availability, especially for wines with an assured audience of fans (like the Puzelat's). Well, you could see if others were interested in splitting a case with you (hint, hint). Or you might approach the importer about selling you a mixed case. And, shocking as it may seem, some importers have been known to sell private imports in less than case amounts. Not that I'd ever suggest you or anyone else try to lead an upstanding importer astray by suggesting such a devious act to him.
  23. Even before checking, I was sure from the name and description that the wine was made by Thierry Puzelat, one of the Loire's most iconoclastic producers. It's also on the list at Bû and, I believe, Pop. It's definitely a private import (the SAQ views its features as flaws) and chances are good it's brought in by Rézin. If not, the sommelier at APDC or guys at Bû will be able to give you the dirt.
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