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Posts posted by malachi

  1. A bunch of personal favorites (in terms of price/quality) are:

    - Fattoria Monsanto Sangiovese Fabrizio (1999, hard to find)

    - San Felice Vigorello (1997 and 1999)

    - Avignonesi Toro Desiderio (OK, not Sangiovese but Oh My!!)

    - San Fabiano Calcinai Cerviolo (1999)

    - Fattoria Corzano e Paterno Il Corzano (1999)

    - San Vincenti Stignano (1999)

    - Isole e Olena Cepperello (1997 and 1999)


    And to be honest, I have to dispute the "over-rated" tag on Tignanello. Perhaps this is due to my own good fortune (I was lucky enough to get a case of the 1997 upon release while in Italy at a now excellent seeming price), perhaps it is just personal taste - but I find it a truly wonderful wine.

  2. Oh...and here we go (cribbed from Robb Walsh):

    Hot Papaya Pepper Sauce

    Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a saucepan. Saute 2 medium diced onions until soft. Add 6 diced carrots, 2 peeled and diced chayote, 12 allspice berries, 10 whole peppercorns, 4 sprigs thyme (cleaned) and 1 ounce diced fresh ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 ripe papayas (skinned and seeded) and 12 scotch bonnet chilis (stemmed and seeded). Once the sugar becomes syrup, add 1/4 cup cane vinegar and cook until carrots are soft (5-10 minutes). Blend to smooth consistency and bottle to cool.

  3. While I don't want to simply dismiss your anger (I'm sure many restaurant patrons would agree with you) I'm afraid that your points are based on a fair amount of ignorance when it comes to the realities (economic and otherwise) of food service businesses. If this is a topic that you care about (which seems to be true for the level of venom in your post) then it would probably be worth your while to gather more information about the business.

    For some quick examples:

    food costs are ridiculously low: a potato "costs" $.10 & nyc restaurants charge $6!!!!

    If, in fact, a restaurant were to serve you a generic cheap raw and unadorned potato for $6 then you would be right in being upset. But the reality is that you're comparing apples to tarte tatin. You need to incorporate the cost of the other ingredients, waste and utilities.

    labor?? when is the last time one looked into a kitchen, including hi-end. if all had to return to their respective 3rd world countries.... their labor costs are less than Nike's!!!

    To be honest, the per-employee, per-hour labour costs are (while obviously much higher than Nike's) quite reasonable. The trouble is that even at these low base costs, the total grows rapidly when you look at the actual headcount of a restaurant. And once you start to calculate the actual headcount costs (including such lovelies as workers comp) it balloons in a sudden and frightening way.

    left with the chefs: ummm, i keep hearing how LOW the wages are, sooooooooo, how much ARE these labor costs????

    Given that some of those posting here are back of the house professionals, you should be aware that this is an emotional and sensitive issue. It is why I left the business. In my last job in a restaurant I was the Chef de Cuisine in an award-winning and busy restaurant. I was salaried. One day I did the math to figure out how much I was making per-hour. Turned out the dishwasher had a better base than I did. I almost doubled my income while halving my hours worked in the first year out of the biz.

    overhead costs: like running anything, "it is what it is" quit griping!!! i wish i didn't have to pay for MY refrig costs when i am not using.

    Actually, I'm afraid it is not like "running anything."

    This is where you lack of exposure to the business is skewing your viewpoint the most.

    The overhead of running a restaurant is not like the overhead of running a music store which is not like the overhead of running a dry cleaner which is not like the overhead of running a waste disposal company which is not like the overhead of running a pipe fitting manufacturing company. While it may seem like there is little if anything to the restaurant business when it comes to overhead - this is an illusion.

    The reality is that an excellent businessman running a very tight ship in the restaurant world and maximizing their margins with a popular and expensive restaurant is unlikely to ever get past 12% margins. In fact, getting to 10% qualifies you as a superstar in this business.

    IF U DO WANT TO OPEN A RESTAURANT, 1st work 50-75 hrs/wk for some jerk who treats u like crap for very little salary

    If you throw in "while being screamed at in 125 degree heat and surrounded on all sides by objects which can maim you" then you've got a perfect description of what everyone who cooks for a living goes through.

    i'm tired of hearing all the whining, i'm tired of overpaying for mediocre food & worse service, i'm tired of being overcharged for crappy wines, i'm tired of hearing about unsophisticated clienteles.  i'm tired of all the criticisms of restaurant people, being just that, usually restaurant people. if more restaurants disappear, maybe, just maybe, the industry will wake up & provide a service that = the price!!!

    There are thousands of restaurants out there that cater to someone with your perspective - that deliver on the promise of providing food at low costs. Is it great food? Of course not. You get what you pay for.

    As a friend said to me one, "yeah - and I'm all bent out of shape about the lack of $15k Ferraris on the market."

  4. Got two gorgeous small golden trout up in the Sierra yesterday morning.

    Combined salted and diced cucumber with scotch bonnet chilis, fresh corn kernels, red onion, lemon zest, garlic, diced tomatoes and some thai grapefruit juice. Chilled this "salsa."

    Dredged the whole, cleaned trout in flour, sea salt, cracked pink peppercorns, dried orange peel and a small amount of dried ginger.

    Fried the fish whole (heads on, diagonal slits on both sides) until quite crispy.

    Served on the mounded "salsa" with a drizzle of olive oil and sherry vinegar and a little sea salt.

    Spinach salad with crispy bacon lardons, lemongrass and poached egg with mustard-vinaigrette served on a smaller, side plate.

    1999 Villa Maria Reserve Riesling

  5. Having recently returned from France, I have to say that I had some truly fantastic beers there. Now... to be clear, only one of them was actually brewed in France (Jeanne d'Arc Belzebuth). The rest were either Belgian or German. Personal favorites included Chimay Cinq Cents, Drei Fontainen Oud Gueuze, Wesmalle Tripel and Saison Dupont.

    As for Stella, Fischer et al - I would concur that they are at best marginally preferable to Coors.

  6. An interesting topic. As both an ex-Chef and an ex-Venture Capitalist (no, seriously) I have to say that you're touching on a lot of the causes here.

    Would I ever invest my own money in a Restaurant? Hell no.

    Would I ever invest my own money in any food service business? Probably not.

    Would I ever invest someone else's money in any food service business? Maybe.

    Would I ever invest my own money in my own Restaurant? I'd rather be dead and burning in Hell.

    As noted above in the thread - the margins in the Restaurant business are truly terrible. What makes the business side even worse, however, is that the revenue is entirely non-forecastable. These two simple facts combined with the high risks (staff turnover, health department, bad reviews, equipment failure, breakage and waste) result in a business venture that is entirely non-rational.

    Is this a bad thing? Of course not. Any and all good restaurants are, IMHO, labours of love. And love, of course, is the definition of non-rational.

    Finally... the throw gas on the embers... I think the true nightmare in running a high-quality restaurant lies in the simple fact that the vast majority of the populace has no taste and no appreciation for quality food or a quality restaurant. In addition, the majority of customers are fickle and tend to choose restaurants based on factors and attributes either unrelated to, or at best only tangentially related to, your efforts. Thus - trying to build a customer base that will fill the room or at least bring in enough sales per day to keep you going is a desperate and perhaps unwinnable battle.

  7. - 1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably),

    Taqueria Cancun on Mission, La Taqueria on Mission or El Farolita on Folsom

    - 2) a fantastic and interesting dinner place (nothing stuffy or traditional French please) in the $100/per person range,

    Masa's (get the 9 course chef's tasting menu)

    - 3) a good Italian joint

    Delfina (mmmm.... chianti braised short ribs, pappardelle with rabbit sugo...)

    - 4) the best place for Dim Sum.

    Yank Sing or Harbour Village (lunch only if you want the good stuff)

    - 5) And if anyone knows a great bakery for breakfast and coffee, we wouldn't mind the suggestion.

    Tartine or Citizen Cake

  8. Venison Medallions with Dried Cherry Sauce

    Serves 2 as Main Dish.

    This dish offsets the rich and powerful flavor of venison with the sweetness and tartness of dried cherries – creating a unique balance. The side dishes are designed to further emphasize the complexity of the flavor of venison. The corncakes provide a sweet and spicy earthiness while the greens add a punch of bitter to offset the sweet. The dish should pair well with a good quality Merlot or a medium to light bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.


    • 1/2 lb venison medallions
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh sage
    • 1 T crushed juniper berries
    • 1/2 tsp coarse mustard
    • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 T frozen butter

    Dried Cherry Sauce

    • 3/4 c dried cherries
    • 1/2 c fresh chicken stock (can substitute with low-sodium chicken broth)
    • 1/4 c Brandy
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
    • 1/2 clove garlic (sliced)
    • 1 whole clove
    • 1/2 tsp green peppercorns

    Spicy Corn Cakes

    • 2 ears fresh corn (can substitute 1 small can crisp sweet corn, well rinsed)
    • 3 green onions, chopped up to the green
    • 2 T fresh jalapeno chili, minced
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 c milk
    • 1/2 c flour
    • 1/4 c cornmeal
    • 1-1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp red chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • Canola oil
    • unsalted butter

    Pan Wilted Vinegared Greens

    • 1 bunch chopped Fresh Kale or Chard (spinach can be substituted)
    • 1 T butter
    • 1 T canola oil
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 T sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar can be substituted)

    Season the medallions with salt and pepper. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the butter in a mixing bowl. Place the venison in a large ziplock bag and pour the combined ingredients into the bag. Eliminate as much air as possible from the bag and place in the refrigerator overnight.

    Remove the venison (still in the marinade) and allow to come to room temperature (30-45 minutes).

    Heat a large, heavy frying pan over high heat. Add the medallions and sear on each side for 4 minutes. Remove the venison from the frying pan and let rest for 2 minutes before serving.

    Heat the dried cherry sauce (see below) and whisk in the frozen butter.

    Serve the venison with the dried cherry sauce poured over them and with the corn cakes (recipe below) and greens (recipe below) on the side.


    Dried Cherry Sauce

    Reserve ¼ cup of dried cherries.

    Combine all remaining ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Bring contents to a boil and lower heat to a very low simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced by ½.

    Strain through fine strainer and add the, roughly chopped, reserved cherries and salt and pepper to taste. Hold covered off the heat at room temperature for at least 15 minutes until ready to serve. (See instructions above for serving notes.)

    Note: Can be prepared in advance, refrigerated and reheated.

    Spicy Corn Cakes

    Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the shucked corn to it. Cover and remove from the heat for 8 minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and cool in running cold water. Once cooled, cut the kernels off the cob and combine in a bowl with the green onions, jalapeno, milk and eggs.

    Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix well.

    Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add oil and butter in equal parts. When the butter is melted, ladle the corn cake mixture into the pan to create 4 inch pancakes. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and flip. Repeat for the other side.

    Note: Can be prepared in advance and reheated in a medium oven.

    Pan Wilted Vinegared Greens

    Wash the greens well and do not dry.

    Heat the butter and oil in a large, flat bottomed pan until butter is melted.

    Add the greens and the salt.

    Using tongs, stir and toss the greens constantly until they begin to wilt. When wilted, remove from heat.

    Strain the greens and serve with the vinegar sprinkled over them.

    Keywords: Main Dish, Intermediate, Game, Dinner, American

    ( RG524 )

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