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Everything posted by dillybravo

  1. Here's a good article discussing water hardness vis-a-vis dough: http://www.gftc.ca/articles/2001/baker08.cfm. Note that water that is too hard isn't ideal either, it tightens the dough too much. I agree the water quality is a key factor, but feel the need to note that there are other important steps in dough preparation. For instance, cooler, slower, multiple risings; wetter dough; starting the night before with a sponge/poolish; or autolysing the flour/water mixture for an hour or two---all of these will likely improve your dough more than changing the water you use. For instance, you might experiment with some easy modifications: try an autolyse, mixing the flour with about 90% of the water, letting it sit for 20 minutes, then adding the remaining water and other ingredients. Or, do essentially what you do now, but mix a wet poolish w/ a portion of the flour and about half of the yeast the day before, and add it to the bread machine w/ the rest when you start. Or do both. Follow with a slower rise in a cool rather than warm spot. Any of these techniques will greatly improve the end result. You might also be interested in considering certain dough improvers. Ascorbic acid can be useful in small amounts. Another good dough improver is fava bean flour. _The Village Baker_ by Joe Ortiz has a good discussion of the use of dough improvers in artisinal breads.
  2. Ack! I guess I'll have to pull a Steingarten and clear out 1/2 the fridge for a couple months. Unless anyone else has a line on extra-dry-aged beef? Maybe some of the organic producers... Good thing I didn't buy that BBQ last week (no patio, so it was gonna be a special cook-out in the park just for those steaks!). yunez, while you're down there, can you ask them if their steaks are wet-aged or dry-aged and let us know?
  3. In contrast to some of the old reco's above I must say that I find the Jackson's on Granville to be not the best; maybe good for steaks but I always see plenty of too-old meat in their cooler, particularly sausages. I like their Irish Cured Ham but it's been pretty funky a few times I've bought the vacuum packed ham steaks and even sliced ham, so I try to stay away now. The most intriguing recommendation that I haven't followed up on yet (no car, no BBQ, no time!), which you may miss mention of, is Traditional Fayre and Meats, said to be near Hastings and MacDonald about two blocks from Cioffi's. Pretty far from Richmond, but I've confirmed with a couple of people that he dry-ages his steaks well past the 28-day mark on occasion and that to me is the best of all possible worlds, even if the marbling isn't perfect (which I suspect it likely is). It is hard to find well-marbled steaks because the consumer prefers steaks with "less fat" and the "fatty" ones don't get sold. You should definitely ask particularly, wherever you go, if they have anything well-aged and well-marbled in the back, or if they can get something in, because they probably can. Any good butcher will appreciate that you have such good taste and knowledge about your beef and find you something special. Finally, if you like reading about meat as much as eating it, you should check out Steingarten's adventures in search of well-dry-aged beef (and the pursuant attempts to do it himself when none could be found), in the essay "High Steaks" found in It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Edit: Hmm, wasn't going to mention Armando's at Granville Island because I'm not sure about the marbling, but I just found this suggestion from VanEats where 30-day aging (but is it dry-aged? I suspect wet-aged, which is not the same) is claimed; also, the people at Oyama, whose prepared meats are the finest in the land, recommend them as well.
  4. I'll put in a word for the UBC Farm too. I haven't been to the actual market but they do occasionally sell produce elsewhere; last year they were at the Apple Festival or whatever it's called at the Botanical Gardens. Lots of squash, mostly, and good varieties. They had those super-sweet small pumpkins and about 3 or 4 odd species. I forget what the other produce was but it all looked very, very good and the prices were reasonable. I would suggest checking the market at the farm out for sure (at least, if you have a car to get there!) especially since if Martha Piper and her development cronies gets their way the farm may soon be no more. So if you like the farm, support the market, and write the board a letter!
  5. Well, thanks canucklehead and nondual1 for giving us a new great place to eat; Golden Szechuan was under our noses this whole time, only about 4 blocks away! I am so sad we haven't been eating here for the last few years. The boiled beef was great, nice and spicy, good slow burn as you've both mentioned, and so delicious that I've been wanting more all week. Also a tremendous deal, I think you could feed four with that bowl alone. The twice-cooked pork was also pretty tasty, although compared to the boiled beef... Next time peppercorn chicken and cucumber with garlic and chili! Totally delicious, my new favorite restaurant (until Dan reopens that is). Anyway, I wouldn't pull this back to the top again, but I, too, would like to know the identity of the 3 Hunan restaurants, if you could oblige rm_blizzard and I.
  6. Yeah, the timing of the truck market does suck for those with the 9-5. Although some vendors might be there earlier/later. From my experience they are usually grateful and surprised to have knowledgable customers; I'm sure you can get them to save you something of whatever's good if you partake regularly, thus get to know them. And canucklehead...so far this year the ratio seems 100% in favour of flowers and tomato plants. One stand with honey and beeswax. So you might want to wait a few more weeks. If I get down there this Thursday I'll report back!
  7. Well, since no one's mentioned it yet, I have to pimp the Granville Island Truck Market a bit, which is Thursdays "all day" in theory; but many vendors pack up by as early as 10 AM when they sell out. I'd recommend going around 8:30 or 9. Not sure if any produce vendors have shown up yet this year; as of two weeks ago no. Contrary to what one might expect, this is my favorite market in the city and has some vendors that don't seem to appear at the other markets. I am usually not so down with the pricer-than-usual and also not-as-good-looking-as-usual produce at Granville Island, but this market is tops in quality and low in price. The artichoke, pattypan squash and kale lady from Nat Bailey makes dual appearances and she always has great products. She actually has a name for her stall but I forget what it is. Easily distinguished by the multiple varieties of artichokes. Also stellar is the dude (and dude-ette?) with ~10 varieties of potatoes; the potatoes are great, but more importantly, excellent and awesome cherry tomatoes once that time of year shows up. By far the best tomatoes I have found in the Lower Mainland. Also great patty pans and other produce. There is a scraggily old German (?) guy with good nuts, grapes and other misc. stuff that changes weekly, he sells from a converted truck. I suggest you keep an eye out as well for the basil man who always has a lineup for his extremely flavourful basil. Identifiable both by the line and by the huge bags full of basil. Also zucchini, broccoli rabe and a few other odds and ends that he takes a great deal of pride in (all very delicious, and at extremely low prices). Finally, there is the tall, lanky fruit purveyor who usually sells also-awesome apple chips inside from time to time. Not sure if the lady selling them inside right now is related, I haven't tasted them yet. Towards the end of the summer he'll have peaches, nectarines and plums, all of which are picked when ripe. Usually they end up a little bruised and even over-ripe for my taste, but these are the only truly ripe stonefruit I have ever found a seller willing to take the risk in transporting. This guy is my hero. The rest of the sellers I can mostly do without. Now to wait for them all to start showing up...maybe this Thursday!
  8. Totally. I'm all for it. But some of the remarks seem to suggest that people didn't actually read or understand what I wrote, that's all. Arguing to the side so to speak. Address me head on, rebut, confront, that's all I ask. Don't argue with me about something I didn't say. I too apprecate all the viewpoints and feedback, as I think I am pretty effusive in demonstrating? I've said I agree with almost eveything everyone's said! What's the prob? Sorry I offended you, I didn't mean to give the impression you got at all. Now I'm going to turn off the computer since I just...can't...help myself. Edit: Also not saying people are trying to shut me down, or talking about this thread on that count. Look at the churros thread again, partic. Sam and Daddy-A. That's what I mean. Or read the responses to Foodie Girl. Daddy, Jamie. Totally harshing on it. It happens all the time. Go through the threads here and read 'em. You can slag on me all you want, I can take it. That's all I meant.
  9. Hey Jamie, did you like it (if you've tried it)? As I said it sounds pretty damn tasty to me too, complaints aside...and I do like his foie. So now I am sorely tempted to head on down and drop some coin. Look at that, criticism -> sale! Who would've guessed? Someone stop me before I go, blow a gasket, report back and get banned or something. Anyone know when the Feenster'll be back in the kitchen again? Also Jamie I think you are maybe being a bit unfair. I too was a little suspect of the foie complaint, but I am willing to hazard that even if it was the first time, if it had been really good, that wouldn't have been an issue. Then again, the substance of the complaint seems to be that foie shouldn't be in soup... So Foodie-Girl...did it taste good anyway? Just the lack of crust that bugged you? Or was it crappy no matter how you slice it?
  10. OK, last time I swear... Then I'm going to try to leave you all alone again, for a while at least, since I'm such a forum hog and all. editor@waiterblog I hear you. And I agree. But I still think that the marketing, the hype, the websites, the food media, the tourism publications, all pimp it like it's going out of style. They make it sound like it's the best. They themselves talk about the euro-trained chef, the incredible wine list, blah blah. And everyone charges like that's the truth. I enjoy my food plenty fine. I keep my expectations in check, I don't think it's fair to suggest I've set them too high, although I have probably made the impression quite fine on my own. I've been a little over-blown above but I don't feel like the critiques being lodged have actually understood and considered what I've said. Read it all again if you care to. This isn't about expectations; it's about value and facade and being at least a little critical and not just accepting it because it's good enough. For $300 you should be blown away, period. You should never have a downright bad dish. There are plenty of places here where you can go waste $300 on a meal that's not even worth $60. I think I do a pretty good job of adjusting for context, and things still aren't right. Yeah it's not fair to compare as I did, I'm sorry. But I'm not the one charging the same price and tooting the same horns. This is my point: expectations and all considered, it's just not as good. You're saying that yourself; but you think it's OK for some reason. Plus many others are content to insist that it is, and slag anyone who disagrees. Well, this is my last (and first) stand. I think it's bullshit. And Auberge de la Charme I think is a perfect comparison for West. Same price points, not too well known, young chefs on the way up. And honestly West comes close sometimes. But Auberge is better. And cheaper. It's also in Burgundy though, so...maybe that explains something. The right thing to do would be to admit the bad and the good, and to charge what you're worth instead of the most possible. And to allow people to critique and encourage it instead of insisting everything is a-ok-awesome. Maybe it's just the city and the cost of living in general, but I am mystified as to why a great chicken sandwich at Coco Rico in Mtl is $2.00 or something, and here I can get a cold, greasy, poorly sauced and surly-served beef brisket at Memphis Blues for $8.99 or 10.99 or 12.99 or whatever it is. And on and on and on and on at all levels. butter...you're a saint. And I don't think it makes a whit of differnce how well dined you are. You deserve to know that you can get better than you've been getting, and that you're paying much more for it than you should be. You deserve to know that if you save your pennies and stay away from Bin 942 and maybe don't go to Lumiere this year and instead fly off to Montreal you can go to the same kind of places and spend 1/2 or 2/3, and you will have an awesome time and be totally amazed like you wouldn't believe. But instead many people are suggesting no critique and lowered expectations. You should be pissed off.
  11. I agree Keith. It is very likely that Toronto sucks more. And costs more. So you can take some pride in that! It's better in the west! The Montreal thing really gets my cheese. You can go eat something awesome in Montreal for $3.99. Or less! Here you're lucky to get day-old rice and some funky beef and brocolli.
  12. Since apparently I've been branded a Lumiere-hater, I gotta say it.. I think Feenie is a great chef. I really enjoy a lot of his dishes. And I have had some of the best foie ever at his place, love that bar menu 4-way. Speaking of which Hawksworth foie parfait is awesome too. So there's one thing people manage to do top honours with. That doesn't mean, however, that he might be packing the tables too tight and or pushing the expensive water too hard, and maybe he's had a misstep of late, or just one bad night. But almost anything I've eaten at Lumiere has been great. I haven't been in a while though. As for Feenie's, that's another story...and because of it I now avoid Lumiere too. I'm gun-shy, what can I say? Is there anyone out there who hates Feenie's and still goes to Lumiere? If so let me know so I can go get me some good eatin'. And I still think the R&C lowered the bar a bit because they needed some Canada in their book. You can get better for less if you look in some of the other sections.
  13. Note that I said I was the hyper-critical asshole, not Feenie. Although I imagine he must be pretty damn devoted to excellence. Daddy-A, please let me know if my personal attacks on myself are out of line.. I figured a little self-criticism can't hurt. As for who claims they're the best... I think if you read the forums and, more importantly, the food media, there are consistent claims about how great Vancouver is, what a great food city it is, best in Canada, yada-yada, and it is that I have a bit of a problem with. Pluis everyone above keeps consistently saying "Vancouver is awesome, Vancouver is great, easily on par with any great food city." And I don't think that's fair. I am also happy with a lot of what I eat. But most of the time eating out here in Vancouver I am not. I pay too much for too little. Elsewhere I am usually quite happy. But here I am very infrequently wowed. Maybe it's just the weather?
  14. Being, admittedly, an unreasonable know-it-all, I just have to respond once more. When you charge the kind of money some places here do, and flout how great your food city is to all and sundry, you tend to attract people like us. Some of us might even decide to move here (proof you truly can't know it all). There are many restaurants in the world, likely run by these sorts of hyper-critical know-it-all assholes, which pride themselves on satisfying other hyper-critical people and do it. Consistently. At the same or lower price point as the restaurants here that don't, some of them in much more expensive locales with much higher staff and food costs. They deserve to be acclaimed and not be stuck in the same company as those who are still attempting whilst claiming success. Otherwise they'd probably give it up too. I admit that judgement by peer jury may be preferable...but unless consumers are educated and demanding, what do you care if a few chefs in the know have complaints? As I said, a few people making suggestions isn't going to raise the bar. Fine, a lot of you don't think things are all that bad here. But take a look at the churros thread. Fine, maybe I'm too critical. But to some of us, those aren't good churros! And many people are perfectly fine with that, to the point that I get told to f* off about it. Asked why things have to be that good. Slighted for over-analyzing the food on a site that claims to want to discuss. Well, fine. Accept mediocrity then. Eat your shitty churros and have a good time; I honestly envy you, because I hardly enjoy anything anymore, and it sucks. But call it what it is and stop luring us people who really, really give a shit in, or you're gonna pay for it. I'm not blasting you Sean because you sound like you actually care, and I deserve your bile for the unsubstantiated things I said about your place on the Lumiere thread. For the record, we've been to Fiction once, and it was so slammed that before they seated us they told us we would wait forever for our orders. We waited even longer; even the waitstaff were a bit incredulous. And when it arrived it was perfectly fine, but not wow. Considering we could've gone to West for the same price and had something much better, I criticized and dissected. I was guilty of exactly what Sean mentions above, and Alex got pissed off because she just wanted to enjoy her meal. It's not Sean's fault, and I wasn't clear about that; in fact, I think they did an admirable job considering that they were, truly, super-slammed. BUT...while the food may be for the people, and not the other way around, for some of us the food is still important. If it's only OK and it's someone's birthday, that's no problem. The food isn't the star of the show. But when you dine out all the time for the pleasure of dining, the food becomes a big part of it, and if the quality is not there, your whole reason for dining out is gone. We don't need to dine out to eat perfectly decent food, we can cook it ourselves at home. So when we go out we do it in hopes of having our taste titillated, period. The whole package is important. But if that one piece is missing no amount of ass-kissing is going to make it up. Everytime I lay down 3 bills here I think about Auberge de la Charme or Mugaritz, or heck even sometimes West, fabulous fabulous restaurants where I have had perfect food and better wine and spent less! Or I think of small little hole in the walls picked at random in some cities in the middle of nowhere that are better than anywhere I've ever eaten here. For like $10. How do you explain that one? THOSE chefs are doing new and exciting things and innovating, or they care a whole bunch and pump out fab food at a huge bargain. And there is absolutely no comparison. So when I hear about the great restaurant or the secret find in Vancouver, that's what I go in (half-)expecting, and it's never been even close to the truth. Whether that's the chef, the climate, the ingredients purveyed, I don't know. It's probably all of that; I'm sure they have advantages you don't have here and hardships too. Admittedly there are two different classes of customers here, the frequent diners and the special occasion ones. You're on the money for the second group, and maybe they're more important to you. But if you want to tout it on the global stage and claim you can pull your weight with the best and charge more than they do...then you have to deal with people like me. Maybe things are getting better, maybe you deserve more coddling and cuddling in your delicate adolescence of fine cuisine (and I really think that's about where the region is) instead of critique. Who's going to want to open a restaurant or a farm or whatnot in a firestorm? Who's going to want to even give it a shot if they know they will fall short? Admittedly no one. But maybe you should keep it under wraps for another decade or so before you invite the world in and they piss on your parade.
  15. I agree with you all. Savagery is probably the wrong word. But a little bite can't hurt if, yes, it's constructive. And Kurtis...if there's nothing to lose, there's plenty of danger, I agree. But if there's nothing to lose, there's also the potential for radical truth that those who have something to lose (like shelora here) will clam up about. Brenda, I think I specifically said that I was not claiming Vancouver is full of only mediocre chefs. Yes, I think that is mostly the case. I agree with PaoPao's numbers. Less than 5%, probably less than 1% of meals have lived up to their hype. But there are exceptions to be found of course. Now that I know you are all not as totally averse to criticism as it appeared to me perhaps I will let the guns out once in a while. We've stopped eating out as much though so it may be few and far between, and of course I don't want to post two reviews of crappy restaurants a day? No one wants to read that! I say feedback will not help in this climate because the kind of feedback being suggested seems to be of the "soft" kind. And that isn't going to help any delusions, it's going ot lead to little improvements, and little improvements aren't going to result in the quality that is claimed. This was too cold, this not quite flavourful enough. That's not the issue, to me. Most of the technical stuff is fine, there's just no bang! No wow. Compare $300 spent here (or even $20 if you prefer, although on the low end I think things are not nearly as bad; I should've mentioned that) to $300 in Montreal. Or better yet $300 almost anywhere in Europe. I save my money now for those restaurants. Thus, I think the problems are more systemic. There needs to be not feedback but critique, strong critique. Some of the wind needs to come out of the sails before people are forced to take a good, hard look at themselves and really ask if they measure up (and, from my perspective, find that they don't and fix it). And not everyone is going to be the best artist, that's the sad truth. If the market will bear it, as it does now, things will stay the same. Finally, my method (bile) does of course has to be balanced with effusive and truthful praise and critique from people who love the establishments too. I don't mean to imply it all needs to be war, kindness can help too. But it needs to be kindness with much bigger teeth. Edit: Just to clarify on the $300 and the high-end...I'm not talking about Lumiere or West here. I've been wowed by both of these chefs and I think they have the skills. Maybe not to match up to some of the best anywhere, like some people would like to have it, but definitely very good. Some of their dishes are top echelon. But even at these places I have had some meals that were far worse than they should've been, and as you move on down the list of top restaurants here, the cliff gets pretty steep, and I've thrown a lot of money off of it.
  16. I don't want you to feel picked on Gerald (or Sean, or anyone), because I really respect the way you've handled the feedback on your establishments as well as your opinions. You are a top-notch guy. But there are a couple things I have to address. First, in regards to the lemonade sweeter, the summers longer: I found the last city I lived in somewhat lacking, too. Almost immediately we wished we'd stayed put (actually, we wished we'd moved to Montreal inside, but I digress)! So I don't think that is the whole story. Since we'd had the grass is greener for Vancouver for a long time beforehand, you'd expect we would've liked what we found, no? Some of you may be thinking at this point that I could never be satisfied, but I can assure you, I am frequently overjoyed. Just not lately. I find it interesting that the people who are most critical appear to be new arrivals, who picked the city for its food rep nonetheless. I think this might indicate in fact the opposite of what you suggest. Maybe you're used to the place? It's certainly happening to me. Plus, as I said, I take the time to calibrate my palate through travel and tasting in other places. Maybe it's because it's new and fresh and exotic that I find these places better, but the magnitude of difference is such that I am quite certain that isn't the case. Sean makes a good point though.. Maybe the reason I'm starting to come around is because I'm starting to like and enjoy the region, and care about it, and maybe it's just a matter of getting the local vibe. However, again, the magnitude of difference is such that I don't think that's the whole story. And I think care can sometimes lead you to turn a blind eye and not even know you're doing it. Maybe that's a good thing though? Maybe I'm one of the spiteful ones. I agree with you on the savaging. People should try to be open-minded. Maybe there's no point in complaining. But I've tried that for the last 2.5 and nothing has improved! So maybe it's not the best strategy. Kurtis, yes, there is a lot of bogus criticism on here. But as for anonymity: if you don't have a "name" (mean: a name that people will know), who cares anyway? If you have nothing to lose the name means nothing. My name is Dylan Gordon. Do you feel better now? The anonymous-reviewer argument is a total straw-man IMO. The only reason you want the name is accountability. Accountability means you know the person and have some juice to lean them in your direction with. So as far as I'm concerned a big name makes the review less likely to be accurate because there's more to lose. It has a levelling effect, at the best. Big names have to keep their mouths shut to keep their public happy. At least then you know that a bad review is likely to reflect very, very bad indeed (not that you'll ever see one). But a good review is closer to meaningless. I firmly believe that the quality in this city is not on par with reputation, in general. There are expections. But this leads into my final point. You have all suggested that feedback will be taken and improvements made. I agree. But I am not talking about cut-and-dried horrible food here. I'm talking about food that is pretty good but not great. If a hypothetical community wasn't all that sophisticated in the first place...how far could the improvement go? I do not want to claim that all the chefs in Vancouver are only half-chefs, because that would be ludicrous. There are a lot of people who work hard and have great results, and I respect all the people who are trying to get to that point too, even if they aren't there yet. But it pisses me off when they gloat about how great they are when...they're not! Humble pie, my friends. I think there is a huge amount of mediocrity that feeds upon itself, and feedback is not going to help. If you can't do it, you can't do it, that's all there is to it. You can't strive for what you claim to be and say that's enough: change your claims! It really pains me to say this: there are a lot of places here that just can't do it, at least not as well as they seem to think they can, and yet have the luxury of thinking they're among the best. I don't think that's fair to anyone on either side of the table, and goes a long way to explaining some of the complaints. Anytime I'm being a sadsack and someone calls me on it, it makes me angry. I don't take criticism well, as much as I love to dish it out. But then I get dedicated to improvement, when I realize they're right. Much moreso than when someone's nice. And much moreso when my career and self-concept are on the line. Admittedly this isn't true for everyone, but people don't change because of lillies and puppies. They change because the hell-hole is staring them in the face and they're gonna fry; or because someone who they really care about and want to impress is making demands. Neither of these are present here to the degree required, IMO. So it's my opinion that there needs to be some more savaging; but real, justified, and detailed savaging, so that no one can escape with vague platitudes. A lot of places suck. Deal with it people! Get angry, and then get even. Pump it out so good that we couldn't even dream of being spiteful. That's the way to do it.
  17. Are you expressing first hand knowledge or an opinion? I'm not sure from what you said. Hmm, it seems like an opinion to me. Otherwise no seeming, no? Is the price of the water clearly posted? Is it even on the menu? I have been in perhaps two fine dining establishments where water, soda, etc. were priced on the menu. Now why could that be? Servers push drinks. For profit. Usually before you even open the menu. Restaurants want to make them as expensive as possible. In a very nice place, how gauche would it be to ask for prices? The social requirement to act like you don't care about the cost is very high in this setting. And it is exploited. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, because eveyrone knows. If you really care, maybe you should ask. But the restaurant does not tell you, and there's a reason for that. Anytime prices are hidden this is not in the interests of the consumer, I can tell you that. Maybe Lumiere isn't guilty of the deepest depths of this particular practice, but I don't think in any case it needs to be so strongly defended. And it seems to me this was clearly an opinion, although not one solely applicable to Lumiere. If they really cared they would have comped the water too. Instead they kept the most profitable part. Totally greedy! Shame!
  18. Oh, I should say, I think the ethnic food is great too, almost all of our favorite places fit in that category. I wonder why this is the case? Maybe we need yet another new thread...
  19. I read your post on the other thread canucklehead. I too am guilty of not pulling out the knives, which is why I never post here. I am usually not in agreement with the rave reviews on this board, and I don't feel it's my place (generally) to tell people that their taste is "wrong" or something, because I don't believe that. Lately I've been feeling saucy though...and if I'm going to say anything, it's gonna be sharp! I think there are standards that can be defended, without denying that some people might enjoy something that doesn't live up to mine. That doesn't make you a lesser person, in fact it probably makes you a greater one. But this is a forum for the discussion of food, and discussion leads to criticism, and criticism is in pursuit of the best, for better or worse. Years ago I enjoyed a wider variety of restaurants. Now I find that as my taste has improved (at least, become more discriminating in the most basic sense), I have a harder time. Even my grandmother's food isn't as good (how sad is that? maybe she's just getting old...) Physiologically (if you want details...), we are always increasing the complexity we can discriminate. I think there's a loose ceiling to one's perceptual complexity and anything there or above is going to taste relatively great. As the ceiling rises...as you enjoy more food...you end up enjoying less and less of what you used to adore, and there become finer gradations between. Not hard and fast, but I think it's generally true. Bourdieu pointed out the perversity: the better taste one claims to have, the more one claims to appreciate food, the less one will accept on one's plate! These sorts of monsters can be satisfied, of course. Whether they are satisfied by an objective "best" or just something that fits their conditioning and appears "best" is up in the air...but I think there are claims that can be made for more universal types of excellence. So I don't mean to imply that people are not noticing faults or that they are too clueless or tasteless. Some people may not have been refining their taste as much, and enjoy (lucky them). Then there are those who see the good in everything instead of the bad (please trade places with me). A lot of people I think care more about the restaurant experience and the attendant status than they do about gastronomy, although they might not know it. In other cases (as nwyles mentioned) they have personal or industry reasons for not saying things. This is the case for most pro reviewers in this city, IMO. There are frequently continued and unanimous praises for restaurants which I have been to, a few times sometimes (because I think I _must_ be wrong), and have become convinced are abyssmal. Whether they truly like these places, or are just towing the line, I don't know, but either way I find it mystifying. Most importantly, however, I sense a lot of community in the industry here, which is good, but there tends to be a lot of mutual support which leads to thinking things are better than they are. Others have made similar comments about BC wine, for instance. This is true of anywhere, of course. But when I hear people saying that Vancouver is the best food city in Canada (or North America) I am always amazed. I think there is a lot more boosterism than quality. So I disagree on carrots instead of stick. There are more than enough carrots, there is a ton of cash here, and lots of reviewers pumping out the good reviews for all and sundry. Plently of tourists to take up the slack. The responses from the industry you see here I think show this: why didn't you tell me privately? Why didn't you protect my rep? I see this as a vague entitlement (although I also appreciate it's hard to succeed, and marketing is king). But someone who really cares about quality (and there are some of those here too) will respond appropriately and attempt to appreciate the criticism, not shut it down. If you really believe in what you are doing, you know it's great, and that's enough (almost). Plus, the great places deserve to be placed above the horde, and that means someone's gotta burn. PaoPao, your experience is almost identical to mine. We moved about 2.5 years ago, and the food was a big consideration. Unfortunately I went based on eGullet and pro reviews (hence some of my bitter tone). On scouting trips we ate at the best places you all (different people now) recommended. We cross-referenced reviews and found the places almost everyone lauded. We found all of them not very great, and very pricey to boot, but with only one visit each..."surely it must be a coincidence." Well, now that we're here and eating out daily or more, yeah: hardly anywhere gets a repeat I'm sorry to say; actually most do, with great regret afterwards. And even some of the ones that do get repeats do because it's as good as it gets. Lately we're starting to enjoy the food here a lot more, just the last 6 months or so. But considering that when we go to other cities and dine we are usually much more satisfied, we figure that our new enjoyment is due to an insidious lowering of standards we must fight against. So I blame none of you for your enjoyment! I don't have a solution either but I do think more criticism would be good. Perhaps the subjectivity is a problem but I find I can read between the lines and get a sense of how discriminating someone is and make my own meta-review, so I appreciate moderate detail, at least in terms of what someone thought/experienced, more than what the food was. Most crucially, I think this should be an environment that supports criticism instead of trying to insinuate against it, which is very definitely what happens. I am of course the guiltiest, because I've been lurking for a long time and saying nothing, and now I am the one stirring the pot. Sorry for the length (if you even got this far!).
  20. You bring up a good point Wyles.. I must admit my girlfriend is always riding my ass for ruining her dinner. I can recall a meal at Fiction...but since you all like it so much I won't. [N.B.: I've only been once, and it was super-slammed]. Maybe we should start a new thread on fooling yourself when it's all going to hell so you can enjoy your dinner anyway. Unfortunately my palate won't cooperate. Also edm although I agree with some of your criteria, I think a lot of it is more subjective than you make it out to be. Especially seasoning and precision of cooking. I too would like to have some sort of objective standards for taste but I am not totally convinced that we wouldn't be fooling ourselves. At the very least the meta-standards we judge doneness or seasoning by (should be balanced, should have good mouth-feel, etc.) are arbitrary. You could maximize a wide variety of attributes (odour, texture, visual affect, etc.), and all of them are going to have tradeoffs. If you try to get the most "moderate" and best of all worlds even that is a preference. Honestly I've found a lot to disappoint in Vancouver for the most part.. and I think a good part of it is a lack of critical response by the dining public. In cities where people have firm opinions on what's good and make a big fuss when it isn't, the purveryors have to supply or they won't survive. Take Montreal as an example, which for some reason Vancouver is always compared to. To me it's no contest. Some cities just seem to accept a lot more middle-of-the-road without complaint. If the posts here are any indication I think that is some of what's happening here. If Feenie can get away with packing in the tables and not paying too much attention to what's coming out of the kitchen, and still walk away with the coin...why not? If people will even defend that decision...why not? I refer you again to that Slow Food in Tuscany article I pointed to elsewhere. Aesthetic of entertainment vs. aesthetic of gastronomy. It's a lot easier to go for the whiz-bang than the real quality...and a lot more people who don't know better will prefer the former to the latter. It takes a lot of energy to care, and a community that cares, and people that will notice, to make someone want to put in all the effort for excellence.
  21. Woah, woah. Who's insisting? They might not deny you the right. But they will slag you for it, like they just did. Touche! Then again, I too agree the "bad taste" thing might be an unfortunate choice of hyperbole...although if I burned $300...I might have a bad taste too! Especially seeing as how much the place is pumped... Nothing worse than spending so much cash on a poor meal that doesn't even live up to adequacy, nonetheless expectations. This has happened to me quite frequently in these parts, so I feel your pain. Also note that while your forum admin will not deny you anything, he may stick to sly suggestions that you're a snob or too critical, or heck, he might suggest that instead of peeling the onion and actually saying something, you're over-analyzing, looking too close! On a forum for analyzing and discussing food, none-the-less! Where was I insisting again? I think I missed that part... Edit: OK, I have to give Daddy-A some credit. He did let that Irish Heather thing go on for a good long while, and was pretty diplomatic. Plus yeah, no one's going to prevent you from posting negative reviews. But I do insist on one thing: the climate around here has grown steadily less critical over time...
  22. I think the people running it are awesome too. And I actually kind of liked their hot chocolate, although it was too thin for good dipping. So all you nay-sayers can just get lost (hahaha)! I will probably go back at least a few more times in hopes the fryer cools down. Also it is totally possible that I got the most super-fried churros ever to leave Churrolicious, although from what other are saying... And of course you are all welcome to enjoy your churros. I'm just telling you straight: if you don't know what you're missing, you're missing a lot, and these can get a heck of a lot more delicious. But who cares about all that anyway? Anyway, back to the point: who to sleep with for the good ones. Well, I'm sorry to say it's not me. I myself have tried to make excellent churros and had only mild success. There is something about the Spanish dough in particular that adds a great taste and texture (usually, I still contend, lacking in many Latin American versions). And of course you need the churros die, although you can make suitable facsimiles with a rosette and an icing bag. Also you can purchase hand-powered home churros makers. Note on this page they even mention the two secrets to awesome churros: FLAVOUR and TEXTURE. So there. But without whatever goes in the secret dough (and likely the oil) it's just not even close. Maybe the Mr. Churros mix is good?
  23. Wow, them fightin' words. I can hardly wait to see how this one plays out. So before you get totally slagged, congratulations from me on posting what you really think anyway and keep it up! I appreciate that you've saved me a few hundred. I too agree with your criticisms of the menu, the new tasting menus don't really excite me too much either. To tell you the truth though, I decided a while ago to stay away based on experiences at Feenie's, which have been getting consistently worse since it opened. Inconsistent service, with more attitude than they deserve to have, both of which I could stand, but worse is the inconsistent food. Even the same dish can be good/bad depending on your luck. Not even the burger is immune (one of the safest bets, IMO). I must admit though, I long for a more detailed critique. Plus that might cover your ass a bit (or draw more fire, hah!). Was the foie really that bad? I can kind of see it melting into the soup.. nice rich broth.. little pieces of crust that somehow survived.. Then those firmer mushrooms.. Honestly I'm imagining something pretty delicious here. How did it taste, aside from the texture problems? Also what was up with the salmon? Did you just not like the way it was cooked, or were there other problems as well? Flavour? Texture? It sounds kind of interesting to me, too, this one. Would you say this is something you in particular didn't enjoy, but others might, or would you suggest that no one could possibly find something to like here? It sort of sounds to me like he's trying to be a little more inventive (which he'll have to be to compete with the Relais in Europe...no comparison on that front; I can't believe Carme Ruscadella and Feenie are even in the same org!). Also, what was wrong with the service?
  24. Oooh, testy testy. Sure there are tons of contradictions! Who cares? I think my point is clear. If you want to logic-chop go right ahead. If you have substantive complaints make them. You don't have to go to Spain to get great churros; but nonetheless these are not good churros. Latin American churros are great (and who's to make such a broad category anyway?) but a mote crunchy for my taste. I think these are overcooked and hella-chewy, period. Anyway. There are plenty of good churros in the world. I too have eaten many of them and enjoyed most. These were, unfortunately, quite disappointing, and I don't think it would be too hard for them to be improved. I hope they are, because churros are probably one of my favorite snacks. Personaly, I think you people need to be more critical from time to time. Yes, I and a few others speak their critical minds, and clearly it pisses most of you off to think your precious establishments don't meet the standards of some. Well, most of us have stopped posting. Now it's a big Vancouver-glee-fest, and you can't sift the wheat from the chaff. For anyone who still cares: I think this one is chaff. But caution, opinions may vary! Maybe you should go hop on the person who dissed Lumiere before the whole house falls apart.
  25. Does anyone have any word on Dan? That was my favorite restaurant I think. I am in severe withdrawal still. Also any replacement suggestions? Yuji's, unfortunately, wasn't even close. : ( Maybe it was an off day. And Octopus' Garden is pretty good but pricier and not quite the same selection of non-sushi dishes.
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