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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Bux

  1. Speaking of links, this has been one of the most promising on the subject of molecular gastronomy - http://www.inicon.net/ . Unfortunately, it seems to have promised more than it's delivered, but it's still a worthwhile site to check and a jump off place to linked sites.
  2. I like Al Roker. I really like him and he has a strong interest in food. I remember the time he traded places with Daniel Boulud. Chef gave the weather report and Al worked the pass in the kitchen, sort of--in both cases, but in a good natured bit of comedy. It's a shame however that all too often Roker plays the clown when there's a chef on camera and in doing so, undermines any chance the chef has in communicating what he's got to offer. In general, the media panders to the masses. TV and newspapers seem to offer us more than ever, but it's an illusion. Actual content is decreasing.
  3. Let me beat the dead, or dying, horse. On three occasions, I have been thrilled to dine at elBulli. I suppose I would consider myself a fan of Adria's, but it's not my favorite place to eat, even in Spain. Nevertheless, I will look forward to the next chance I have to dine there. Even a sushi chef processes food. John, you'd probably hate it, but you owe yourself the opportunity to try it, even if you can't come to the table with an open mind. Cassoulet is one of many old fashioned country dishes for which a take out business has thrived for years at charcuteries and epiceries in France, and I am assured by a French chef of the first order that excellent cassoulet can be purchased in cans, yet I believe we could agree that this is as far from what Adria is doing as any cooking can be and the sort of food you love. Now about this admirer of yours. Who is it exactly that he admires?
  4. Thanks. I haven't run into it in pho. I guess that speaks of the quality of the pho joints I frequent.
  5. The late Nicholas Kurti, a physicist at Oxford University is probably the better father figure. In 1992 he organized the International Workshop on Molecular and Physical Gastronomy, but I'd like to offer a quote that appears in the Introduction to the revised edition of Hal McGee's On Food and Cooking that dates from 1969. I don't believe any of This' work has been published in English before.
  6. Bux

    Room 4 Dessert

    It really is a pleasant space. That may largely be due to Will and the staff. It seems every one connected with the place is well suited to the hospitality industry, or at least possessed of a sunny disposition. More than that perhaps, they're enthusiastic about what they're doing and it's contagious. Everything I've had so far is worth recommending.
  7. Hey watch out when those guys get friendly enough to use the personal"tu." That cilantro, culantro, recao thing is confusing to me too. Most people I know use culantro interchangeably for recao. I'm not sure if that's universal or restricted to Puerto Rico. Which brings me to: Are you saying that recao is often served with pho, or that "culantro" is used for another herb?
  8. It's unfortuante that serious concerns often degenerate into buzz words. Manifestos usually don't help the situation either. There's just no point in issuing a manifesto that repeats someone else'e manifesto. I don't see any contradiction in favoring local sustainable farming, but still appreciating quality from wherever it comes. I'd hate to be restricted to buying bananas from my neck of the woods all year long. (I live in NYC.) At the same time, I recently had some local bananas in Puerto Rico, that were of a color, flavor and texture that I've never experienced here.
  9. I wasn't all that impressed by a few visits to Jazzi Wok either. Congee Bowery Restaurant & Bar at 207 Bowery, on the east side of the Bowery between Prince and Spring, is fairly new and associated with Congee Village on Allen Street. At least I'd assume they were associated since their busine card lists Congee Village on one side and Congee Bowery on the other. This place absolutely escaped my notice until the other day when a neighbor pointed it out to me. I don't know how long it's been there. The waitress said a couple of months and my friend thought it was longer than that. It could be that this is the restaurant to which irongut is referring. I assume there's no connection to Congee further south on the west side of the Bowery.
  10. Bux


    Over time, I've enjoyed the old Craft Bar, but eventually felt there was a decline in the quality of the food and perhaps in the menu selections as well. I'm glad to hear good reports of the new Craft Bar.
  11. For what it's worth, I tend to favor Havana Chelsea's Cubano with chorizo over their traditional sandwich, but I don't think I'd like salami in a Cubano.
  12. Haven't eaten there in a while, but I recall drinking beer with my meal. Odds are that they don't serve beer or liquor, but that you can bring in beer from a neighborhood deli. We had interesting sandwiches cubanos in San Juan last week that were disappointing in an unusual way. They were overstuffed in a manner reminiscent of NY deli sandwiches a la Stage or Carnegie Deli. On the surface, they seemed like a great buy, but the balance was all off. (Panaderia Reposteria España--for those familiar with Isla Verde. This is a classic stand by old fashioned Spanish/Puerto Rican luncheonette and bakery and an old favorite for years. All things considered, it's been replaced for us by the newer and larger Kasalta in Ocean Park. Unfortunately, in spite of its size, it can be crowded at lunch and even breakfast.)
  13. Bux


    haha. don't you mean a million little pieces? clever. props. ← Correct. I didn't think anyone noticed inaccuracies any more. Truth is stranger than fiction.
  14. Mexican and Puerto Rican cooking are very different. It would be like looking for overlap in Italian and French cookbooks, or maybe more like French and German cookbooks. Cuban cooking from what I've seen, is quite similar. Perhaps Domincan as well. as promised, i made it this afternoon--a good dish for a rainy sunday when you're rearranging the basement, because you prep and then stick it in the oven for a couple of hours. verdict: it tastes good. but it doesn't taste quite like what i think of ropa vieja, as well-represented by the restaurant tierra colombiana up in north philadelphia. . . . . ← Latin America is a big area and the cuisine, as well as the culture, varies considerably. As does the use of the Spanish language. In any event, I've never seen carrots and peas in ropa vieja at home or in a Puerto Rican restaurant, although I won't swear about the peas. You never know when some cook is going to throw in peas to make a dish more decorative--peas and strips of roasted pepper. I've only seen her show once or twice and can't really remember why I was disappointed, but she didn't do things the way Mrs. B would have done. Then again, Puerto Rican food is best experienced at the hands of a good home cook and it's not a well documented or codified cuisine. Recipes are going to vary from family to family. However, Puerto Rican cooks do put green olives in just about everything, even spaghetti sauce as I discovered much to my surprise the first time Mrs. B cooked for me. Jason's on the nose with his comments about sofrito. It's just how how you start almost every dish and it doesn't take much time if the ingredients are all staples in your kitchen. In addition to the examples Jason gives for other countries, I would add a French mirepoix. Cilantro is pretty common these days, but I haven't seen much recao except in hispanic neighborhoods. Many years ago we grew a crop on the roof from seeds collected in Puerto Rico. Nothing is more disappointing that ordering arroz con habitchuelas on the island and getting beans cooked without cilantro, recao or chorizo. The same goes for aspao de pollo. We had quite a few disappointing meals out on the western end of the island a few weeks ago. Eating out in local places can be hit and miss.
  15. Bux


    Sounds like a nice combination. ← There's no shortage of egos in the kitchen and culinary world, but I have run into a batch of nice guys who really know how to cook and keep their egos private, even in NYC. That's another thread perhaps, but I don't want to embarrass anyone. I never got to Suba, so I can't really say how much the menu changed after Alex got there, but he wasn't the chef who opened the restaurant and I suspect he had to maintain some continuity. One thing we should all realize is that few chefs are really their own bosss. Even those chefs with their name on the marquee, often have to answer to their investors and many investors are unable to keep from inflicting their tastes and opinions on the kitchen.
  16. The one restaurant, at least in the high end haute cuisine bracket, that's consistently impressed me with their soups has been Daniel. One of the reasons I often choose a tasting menu of more than three courses is that I have a prejudice against devoting a third of a fine meal to soup, but also feel cheated not to have a taste of soup when I eat there. No where else in his cooking is the attention to detail more important. I'm a fan of Balthazar and eat there fairly regularly. Often it's just for oysters and burgers, but there are a number of specialties I really enjoy from time to time. I've never had the onion soup and each time I've seen it at an adjacent table, or at my table, I've never been tempted to order it. It always seems to be gloppy mess of cheese and a parody of the soup I enjoyed in Paris forty years ago.
  17. Bux


    Arola, La Broche's chef is an elBulli alum, but he was in residence at La Broche in Madrid. More importantly, Miami is not NY. I've just finished posting elsewhere to efect that NY is hardly knocking down doors to eat nueva cocina, but there's a greater dining population in NY and the percentage willing to try new things is probably larger than in Miami. Based on what I've heard and my one meal at a Broche in Madrid, Arola's cooking hasn't been all that consistent either over the years La Broche was open in Miami. It's also been my impression that first class chefs from NY who have opened restaurants in Florida have had a hard time achieving critical success. For one thing, there just isn't the employee pool we have in NY. Anyway, Alex isn't just an elBulli grad. My understanding is that his elBulli experience goes back a few years and he's paid his dues cooking menus that were pretty much designed by other people. Perhaps his new Spanish influences were best displayed at Blue Hill some years back. In the meantime he's practiced his craft and learned how to please diners. Restaurants are a risky business, (owning one or eating in one) but I'd invest the price of a meal on the faith that this one will worth trying. I guess that means we agree, but I thought I'd express my reasoning.
  18. Bux


    There really is no "etcetera." Until now, WD-50 has had the avant-garde niche pretty much to itself. The question is whether that genre can succeed in a space that was formerly known for conservative haute cuisine. ← It's also taken Wylie considerable time to pack the place. I realize the location may be off center for restaurants in it's price and class, but my sense is that it's still the easiest place offering that quality of food experience in which to get a reservation. New Yorkers are not knocking down the doors for avant garde food of this ilk. JohyL is correct however in that location may be part of the problem. On the other hand, price is always an issue in more ways than one. Not only is the potential clientele reduced when the price rises, but the really well heeled tend to be more conservative in their tastes. The young are traditionally the ones most ready to accept new ideas. American, and New York, gastrotourists still flock to France more often and more regularly than to Spain in spite of the more exciting press emanating from south of the Pyrenees. If most anglophone tourists in France are happy with lamb chops, most in Spain are sastisfied with pre-cooked paella. Roses may be home to elBulli, but you'd be surprised at how many cafes and restaurants along the beach, in the town proper, proudly advertise branded paella from a commerical supplier that's merely reheated in the restaurant kitchen.
  19. I was first made aware of this sense of community from an article on Carme Rusculada in a women's fashion magazine, of all places. She spoke very encouragingly of the openess in top nueva cucina kitchens and the honesty with which Spanish chefs share their ideas with staff. Traditionally, this is the way all haute cuisine chefs have learned the secrets of the trade, but traditionally one learned slowly over time in a great kitchen. One learned by repetition and obeying orders. Carme intimated a different order of open sharing. Perhaps it's hard to define the difference, but there's an open discussion which is what appears to contribute to a movement. In fact a dozen French chefs all looking over each other's shoulders trying to do the same thing is less of a movement than twelve Spanish chefs doing their own thing, but talking about it to each other, but perhaps I over romanticize the movement. Nevertheless, it's hard to deny the sense of community. It's not surprising for Wylie to spot and make note of it either. I very much sense this would appeal to him.
  20. It sounds as if the health and safety charges are not going to stick to teflon. I always thought the worst offender in the plastic division was from diethylhexlphathalate (and no, I'm not sure of the spelling) and it took a long time to get it out of baby bottles and teething rings for instance, but there's a lot around in consumer containers. Good Teflon pans can be very good for certain things, but by and large, I've never had the overwhelming need for them. Perhaps I've never learned to use them correctly because I've bought cheap ones that loose their magic all too quickly. They're certainly not needed for eggs. A cast iron skillet does quite well for fried eggs and omelets don't stick to my aluminum pan. Naturally both are very well seasoned. Then again we might all consider the risk of aluminum pans. Come to think of it, if you're not in fear of everything you eat, you probably haven't read enough on the subject.
  21. Bux


    I could be wrong on this, but I thought he did his stint in Spain quite some time ago, before he teamed up with Dan Barber to open Blue Hill. As a matter of fact one of the interesting dishes on the original Blue Hill menu was pretty much a copy of a Martin Berasategui dish--smoked eel, raw apple and foie gras. I believe Alex worked or staged at Martin as well as El Bulli. It's interesting that Eatmywords cites Psaltis' comments in regard to Alex, if only because Psaltis has been so determined to paint Dan as a chef dependent on other chef's recipes and yet praise Alex. Personally I'd dismiss the thousand little pieces of that memoir which read more like an attempt to settle scores with some chefs while kissing some other butts. Although the Psaltis memoir didn't get the press attention of Frey's book, it was interesting that when the NY Times interviewed Alex Ureña, who, as Eatmywords notes, got good press in the book, Alex choose not to offer any support in return. I've not eaten at Suba, and was midly disappointed at Marseille, but I think Ureña was hamstrung there working on a menu not of his own choosing. This is actually one of the new restaurants that interests me and one I look forward to trying.
  22. Bux

    Room 4 Dessert

    Will has a graphic designer working in pastry. I caught them updating the menu the other day when I stopped by to wish him luck. It appears as if they were able to reuse much of what was there in the design of the place and get in quickly, but there's nothing that looks as if it was rushed about the decor and nothing looks as if they tried to get by cheaply. Esilda and I stopped in for dessert this evening. Desserts were excellent, and, as has been mentioned, very well thought out and worked out. That brioche was among the best I've ever had. There's real solid old fashioned expertise behind what they're doing. For what it's worth, we chose different pairings than the ones recommended and loved the parings we chose. For Esilda, it was the Aussie semillion with the apple/white chocolate margarita and the moscatel jerez with the brioche/nolitella plat du jour for me. The banyuls should be an even better match, but I wanted to try the wine I had.
  23. Victor and Moby, thanks for your input. I think your posts put this all in a very reasonable perspective. perhaps one that asks when is a manifesto not a manifesto. And of course, Alex, thanks for your initial report.
  24. As has been said, that's quite a tour. It includes a wide range of places and a lot of provincial places off the tourist routes as well as a few places of note. Logroño has a very active tapas bar scene, if you don't see something enticing in one bar, just move on the next, although I'd start with Rogelio's recommendation. If the weather's good, you'll find as many people eating in the street as in the bars. If memory serves, calle Laurel is in the old section of town. We once spent the night in Albacete with some trepidation simply because when we told a Spanish associate of Esilda's that we planned to stop there for the night, all she could say was that no one stops in Albacete except to relieve themselves. Alright, it's not the hippest of cities, but I found it a pleasant place. As we had a very long and late lunch, we didn't have anything for dinner and just went out for coffee. There were a number of attractive options for coffee. Most of them probably served tapas as well. In Murcia, we ate well at the Rincón de Pepe in the hotel of the same name, but I don't recall it being particularly inexpensive, or expensive for that matter. In Leon, or rather outside of Leon, we had a wonderful lunch at a working class place, but you'd really need a car and I doubt it would be open late. Rogelio is a very reliable source. It might be worth while to invest in a guide. I'd recommend Campsa over Michelin, but places recommended in either are likely to be reliable at the moderate dining price range.
  25. I too asked myself what's next, or was this just an article and irrelevant to a reviewer's main work, or perhaps a step towards a higher calling--culinary journalism. If, in fact, this stint could have any bearing on his reviews, he's come up too short and too late. He's already raved about and panned restaurants and awarded a place in the rankings that may stay with a restaurant for several years. Will future reviews be more acurate or understanding? Will the old ratings need an asterisk. If this week's work has any importance, it's minor next to what could be gained from a week in the kitchen, as Fat Guy noted, although something much less easy to do without more rigorous training as Holly noted. Actually that wasn't the question I asked myself, but I did wan't to pick up that thread. What I thought about originally was "what was the restaurant thinking when they put him on the floor?" It sounds as if they shortchanged the diners in the service department. I was reminded of the TV commercials where they substitute instant coffee for freshly brewed coffee. In the latter case, I questioned the taste buds of the clientele and assumed the restaurant normally catered to diners with impaired taste buds and factored that in when considering the restaurant's reputation. My guess is that a "fine dining establishment" wouldn't allow a writer the opportunity to serve its guests. Any thoughts on that?
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