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Everything posted by dfunghi

  1. We own a Blendtec from Costco (for a year) and have used it endlessly (many times a day, everyday) with no glitches. Paid just a scootch under $400 with a 2 year warranty. This thing will make everything from hot soup to ice cream. A little (frozen) Greek yoghurt, some vanilla and a few berries and ice and you have instant frozen yoghurt. Or add anything you like. We have made some pretty interesting stuff. And I now love (yes love) my Green Smoothies. Apples, oranges, berries, soy milk and handful of greens. Add cilantro or mint to "brighten" the flavors. You can also find "used" commercial machines at restaurant supply places and on CL. We are looking to buy another one and (sadly) watching for coffee - juice bars that go under. Vita mix and Blendtec are in a class all their own and will turn anything into a smooth drink unlike a "normal" blender like a kitcheaid. The commercial "smoothy" blenders are like monster trucks and the household typical blender is like a moped.
  2. Definitely you dine can "worthwhile" here. The aforementioned mexican rec's are all good and the same I and many others would give. But Santa Barbara has other "ethnic" restaurants too. http://www.brummis-restaurant.com/ Brummis is an amazing little German restaurant run by a mom and daughter team from Germany. It is on the map for all S.B. Germany expats and we have many. I love this place. It would be a favorite restaurant of mine anywhere. If I lived back in NYC or LA or SF it would not matter, this place is great, not just "great for Santa Barbara. If you have ever eaten in a small town local casual "bar - cafe" in Europe and had amazing food you will like this. All home made, real honest to goodness "homemade" German food like you would have in Germany. Simple things like Schnitzels, wursts, stews. The stews are all served with homemade noodles or dumplings or spetzle. This in my opinion should be on every visitors list if they enjoy true European home cooking. This place transports me. There is other worthwhile and fine dinning in SB.: http://www.restaurantroy.com/ 20 years in SB turning out great local fare. Roy is man who understands how important quality is. From the homemade bread to the homemade deserts with everything in between, your meal will be tasty, fresh, well made, local and cooked to order by people who care. Solid food with insanely cheap prices for what it is. BTW website has contact info only. Carrillo and State in the heart of downtown. Also features live music after dinner crowds and serves a full menu up until midnight, unheard of here in SB. Hard to find good food late on a weeknight after movie or something. Roy's ! I will admit I am biased here as I worked for Roy 20 years ago when he opened on lower Chapala and we were both young. http://restaurantjulienne.com/ For solid California (sometimes called wine country food, though not by me) cooking is another family place run by a wife and husband team. Fresh, locally sourced, such as Farmers Market and local fisherman, ingredients and solid wait staff. Small efficient kitchen paces meal well and the food is served as the chef intends. Small enough where every diner gets the level of VIP service and cooking. Good for romantic or casual. A very diverse menu spanning many palates. http://www.downeyssb.com/ A classic and a stalwart of the SB fine dinning. Better for a serious meal you would dress for, although this is SB and nothing here is ever too formal. Owner operator, chef driven by a man who would have most definitely mad a much bigger name for himself had he been in SF or Napa these past 20 years we are lucky he loves SB as so many do. Having John Downey here is great. A really well stocked wine list, fairly priced, packed with fantastic local Pinots and Chards if you want to enjoy some of SB counties finest wines. http://www.bouchonsantabarbara.com/ French country / bistro menu done a bit more seriously then a typical American bistro would. Bistro food in a fine dining atmosphere. I have eaten here and liked it but found it a bit pretentious (the crowd, not the waitstaff) and stuffy. The food is really tasty. For steaks I like Holgrens. I eat at the one in Goleta but the original is the same on lower State. I would concur to avoid just about any crowded place on Sate, especially if it serves what I call faux italian. The indian places are pretty good if you have a hankering for some Indian food. Locals and tourists alike love Eladios. I cant say, I have not been there in many years. Joes is a weak shadow of its former self and frankly too depressing for me and all the other multi decade fans of Joes to go to anymore. Harrys is raucous locals place up in San Roque area and has solid cooking but is as much a bar as a restaurant. I tis the same as it has been unlike Joes which is not. The Tee-off is purely a local thing and if you want big slabs of prime rib like you would get at a 1980's Vegas Buffet it is fine. It is a bar and eatery but not a place to "dine". Super yummy and potent handmade Bloody Marys to die for and juicy rare meat. That is the Tee Off. Most sushi here is OK at best. Quality and price varies all over the place and seems sometimes disconnected. I have had really good $40 dinners and really mediocre $80 ones. Have never had a memorable sushi meal. If you want to try some amazing sushi and have a car I have a secret place in Woodland Hills, about an hour south of here. Word has gotten out but it is still pretty stealth and a bit too far into the Valley for most Los Angeles folks. Chef Go and his two helpers have been in the same spot for nearly 20 years. Go's wife goes to the market every day and comes from a well known family of the Tokyo fish market. She gets first pick on nearly everything and is highly respected. This type of sushi does not come cheap. Expect to spend $100 PP to really do it up. I can add more info if you are interested. This place is amazing. No atmosphere be certain to sit at the tiny sushi bar which seats about ten. At the bar, in front of Go is where you want to be so he can watch you and know when to make you something else or ask you if you like certain things. Avoid the tables, wait for seat at the bar if he is full. Usually pretty quiet on weeknights. He has avery loyal (and well heeled) following and he shuns being popular, famous or busy. He likes to buy a few pounds of the best fish available every day and serve 40 or 50 very lucky people.
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/us/09sushi.html?hp "Video of their meal shows the two activists, both vegan, being served what the waitress can be heard calling “whale” — thick pink slices — that they take squeamish bites of before tossing into a Ziploc bag in a purse. The samples were sent to Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Professor Baker said DNA testing there revealed that the samples sent to him were from a Sei whale, which are found worldwide and are endangered but are sometimes hunted in the North Pacific under a controversial Japanese scientific program. “I’ve been doing this for years,” Professor Baker said. “I was pretty shocked.” No Comment needed.
  4. The question about chili-oil on pizza seems to be very regional. In the South of France it is ubiquitous same as in Liguria. I have had it in Rome, but rarely and never al taglio. In Naples I only ate pizza a couple of places and do not remember the oil being offered. Whenever I am offered chili oil for pizza I pour it directly onto my pizza never on the plate or ask for a separate plate. BTW in Portugal they serve this same type of oil (called piri - piri because of the piri piri chili used in it) for Frango and FF which is IMHO the worlds best chicken and potato dish ever. But this is the Italy board so I will say no more
  5. On the first note let me say that it is already the case. Auctions have been lucky to make the reserves (which are moving lower) and many fine older wines are changing hands now for a 30% discount from a year or two ago. This is true here in the USA. I do not know about London but I assume the same is true or else the auction houses would just sell all the wine there instead. 2005 Burgundies are selling for well below their original release prices and can be found in stores. On the second note, food costs are around 30% for most restaurants. That is a standard in business models and of course will fluctuate depending on many other factors. If a small bistro is in a low rent district or better yet the building is owned by the chef he/she can devote more money to ingredients. The deflationary spiral the worlds economies are in now has yet to find its way to things like truffles.
  6. Just to add another idea you may want to look into the area south of L`Aquilla in Abruzzo. We stay in Scanno or Pescoscostanzo http://www.abruzzo2000.com/abruzzo/laquila/index.html where it is cool and dreamy. The area is mostly a ski resort type of area so it is pretty quiet in summer. Although more and more Italians are taking holidays there in summer nowadays. Both towns have great restaurants, are in beautiful areas and can afford day trips to either the coast (east coast) or back towards Umbria. Norcia, Assisi or Spoleto are all close enough to visit. Amatrice in Abruzzo is the birthplace of Amarticina Pasta and worth visiting. Get yourself the Slow Food Locanda Ostrie guide. While dinning in a special little place ask about local cheese or salumi producers they may know or like. Check with tourist offices or Pro Loco shops that specialize in local products. Get a good GPS and travel back roads. I can make some specific rec's if you like. For wine in Abruzzo they make great reds. In Tuscany visit Montalcino which is lovely town and drink Brunello or even Rosso di Montalcino. I stay with a friend who now runs an agritourismo I can send you details if you like. He makes great wine but it is not widely distributed. Others have warned but I will reiterate about the potential for HEAT. I have been in Norcia or Bevagna when it was well over 100 degrees in June let alone July. The heat of southern Europe can be oppressive and dangerous. Plan activities for early morning and evening time. Plan to relax and bake after lunch, during siesta and until 6:00 PM or so. The great thing about that time of year is the daylight extends until after 9:00 PM or so. If heading North is your choice then certainly try to visit the area near Parma - Modena - Emillia. It is not as rural or pastural as other parts of Italy but the food is some of the best. You will be in the heart of Parmesan cheese land and more divine yet is the heart (really the only) of the Culatello production world. Piedmont is of course the center of fine wine for Italy and one of the great wine areas of the world. Needless to say there is no shortage of fine dinning establishments as well.
  7. The Petrol aroma is similar tot eh petrol aroma of a really fine Riesling. I believe it is unique to the white (T. gibbosum) oregon truffle although I am not certain. I have never smelled that aroma from Italian or Croat truffles. There is a "gassy" nose to truffles when stored in the fridge but not when eaten. As to fat soluble I imagine all truffles are but some seem much more dependent on it. I have shaven and eaten Italian whites by just putting a slice on my tongue and letting it warm to see how strong they were. These were still fantastic without the help of fat. Also the Domestic (N. American) truffles do not hold up to any over heating or cooking. They need to be shaved and warmed only. The domestic Blacks are a bit stronger, but we are talking about whites. The domestic whites also have a very short shelf life as they ripen quickly once harvested and will go from unripe to over ripe in a week or so. Whereas Italian whites can be maintained for two weeks or more if kept cold. Of course the fresher the better but at least they do not "rot". Domestic whites get mushy and very earthy tasting when allowed to over ripen. They also tend to be bit dryer and crumbly and do not shave as well as the much denser Magnum do. The one thing t remember about domestic truffles is that there is a reason they are only a couple of hundred dollars a pound (or less in bulk) and not a thousand or more dollars a pound. When taken into account the "value" of domestic truffles they are very good. To think one could bury the entire plate of pasta under a an ounce or two of truffles for $25 or so is pretty delicious. As long as the truffles are ripe. Unripe domestic whites are worthless IMHO. I will not buy from pickers that do not know how to judge ripeness and I will not sell under ripe truffles, no matter how desperate my customers are for truffles. If they are not ready they are not ready. I saw the first ripe whites this week. They are from the coast and are tiny. The size of an almond or so. Under the width of a US Dime. The blacks are a bit larger and much riper. So far this year is very promising. In fact I am off to scramble some eggs with a 20 gram black domestic truffle right now. I will add the truffle (shaven) into 5 beaten eggs and put it back in fridge for 20 minutes or so to allow the flavor (aroma) to penetrate. Then I will cook the eggs in a flash in a large non stick pan with med. heat so they cook in about 20 seconds or so. A little salt, a toasted bagel and a caffe latte. Then the cooking begins. Today is Thanksgiving here in the States. A brined ( I make an apple / black pepper brine) Turkey , chanterelle - corn stuffing, mashed potatoes, fresh haricot vert and a mag of 1996 Forst Kirchenstuchk Spatelase Trocken from Burklinwolfe. Followed by homemade apple-berry pie with a crumb top. I slice and soak the apples in huckleberry and mulberry juice for two days. They look like pickled beets but taste like berry.
  8. We did not make Tre Colli after all. We did however make it to Da Maria about 20 minutes away from Tre Colli for a really wonderful meal. Classic Piedmonte food. When I complemented the chef / owner Giorgio he replied simply "It is my job". The service and food were all top notch. This would be a fine place to plan a meal for a group or just a couple. The room is beautiful, the area serene and the food spot on. An assortment of hot and cold antipasti that just kept coming out of the kitchen followed by a wonderful pasta and topped off by a filling secondo if you have room. The food is all served tableside from tureens or platters by a very professional staff. Nice local wines, all very affordable. I will certainly add Da Maria to my list of places to return to year after year. The menu was 24 euros the day we were there. Seriously underpriced IMHO for the level of food and service. Da Maria has been recommended by Swiss Chef and I along with my traveling partner can heartily endorse his recommendation. Thanks Ed for the great tip o Da Maria.
  9. Eating customs, like everything else, are becoming homogenized in our WWW - Global world. There are fewer and fewer "correct" ways to dine on specific foods. Pizza eating in Italy, or anywhere for that matter is solely dependent on how it is served. Certainly as has been said here common sense will usually dictate the preferred method of consumption. Using a knife and fork to cut wedges and then eat by hand is quite common with pizza served whole. Dainty, polite or formal eating (which rarely involves pizza anyway) of a pizza should be dissected and eaten with tools like the rest of a meal would be. A good rule I suppose is if eating with ones hands seems impolite don't do it. Slices (in any shape) are served on paper with no tools so that is pretty obvious. Drinking wine, beer or even coca cola is all accepted behavior in a pizza place. I prefer wine at a sitdown pizza place and beer or coke if grabbing a slice. In USA it is always a coke. One thing for sure is pizza is an extremely informal meal and can be approached as such. No hard fast rules other than be polite and neat. There are many peculiarities in dining: In Paris falafel are eaten with a fork directly out of the pita like the pita was more of a plate than a bread, not consumed like a pita sandwich as is the norm in USA. Also most of the world serves french fries INSIDE the pita not as a side dish as the USA does. In NYC a slice of pizza is folded (ala our Neapolitan Italian America heritage) and eaten. Non native New Yorkers can be easily spotted by the way they eat a slice. When to serve and eat a salad is always changing and is different all over the globe. Mustard on a hamburger , mayonnaise on french fries, salsa on eggs, waffles with fried chicken and many more things that were once unique to a region or a specific ethnic group have all been absorbed into the norm. As to cutting spaghetti or breaking it that is just silly. Pasta is made in so many shapes and sizes just choose one that fits rather than alter the one being used. The spoon thing I see mostly in areas that serve a lot of seafood pastas like Venice and Liguria and only used when a seafood pasta is served. I have never been offered a spoon in Rome. Sopping up the gravy (sauce) has never once been frowned on in any of many thousands of meals I have consumed in Italy. Of course I adjust my behavior based on company and dinning room. It is most likely started as a peasant / working class thing to do but so what. Why let good food go to waste? In Rome nearly every plate of food is wiped clean by local diners.
  10. The Oregon whites are like a poor cousin to the whites of the Piedmont (or Croatia or Toscana). They have a similar flavor profile with a bunch more of a petrol aroma and a much weaker pervasiveness. There is no comparison. I say this as a person who has sold hundreds of pounds of domestic (Oregon / CA) truffles for over 15 years and has also travelled to Europe to dine on truffles for those same 15 years. However not everyone wants to or can afford to pay the Kings ransom it takes for fine European Whites. At 1/10th the price or less Oregon Whites have a market. They can be fabulous when ripe and used properly. When Green and poorly used they are no better than a potato. I try to convince folks to wait for ripe truffles (usually January and beyond) and avoid the unripe (Green) ones. I have many, many satisfied customers, including those who have dined on wonderful Piedmontese whites. The Oregon ones can be used quite liberally and that helps. They are also FAT SOLUBLE which means they do best in eggs or mixed into softened butter and then put on pasta whereas the Italian version has tons of flavor (when ripe, in a good year) it can stand alone. In closing I will say there is no more a fair comparison between good white truffles of Italy (Croatia, etc) and Oregon as comparing an Opel Astra to a Murcielago. It is a different product entirely.
  11. John, I believe it was a quite new place. The review was recent (this past sumer) and I believe in english. I thought IHT but I can not find it in there. The thrust of the article was about a few lesser known, out of the way places. The pictures were slick and the article was concise. I am still searching for it here as well. Not Zgomates, but that looks good too.
  12. I have tried to search all of the threads again to no avail so I plead for help from those of you with a better memory than mine. There was a link to review of some bistros posted from a publication I can not remember. There was one listed for the 12th, off the beaten track. Perhaps near metro Dausmesnil? The place is tiny and run by two men one of which is a burly fellow with a beard. The review had a picture of the two them standing in front of the business. I hope one of you may know what I am talking about. TIA David
  13. So glad to see you posting. I posted a question to you a few weeks ago regarding some dinning questions. I can be in the area on Sunday the 19th . Do you recommend one fair over another? I will drive up from Montalcino that morning and can be there by noon. I was thinking Moncalvo as I do not know Tagliole Monferrato. But would be willing to learn . I would like to talk to you more about other ideas for the area. I am free from Sunday till Weds with no plans yet. I have a friend (as you may remember me saying last year) in Treiso that I usually visit but would love to see more of the Monferrato this time. I have wanted to try Tre Colli but have not yet. Any thoughts on that? David
  14. nico, I have eaten at A.S. many times and find it to be a fantastic meal and experience every time. Amici Miei I have never tried. Can you recommend an alternate? Neighborhood kind of place with great Neapolitan style pizza and decent pizzeria style seafood? Some place we can show up at 9 or later with a large group of 6 - 8 people? Many of whom are not serious eaters so anything that is good and authentic. I used to go to Silvestri if you know it but the last couple of visits have been a disappointment. We will go to any neighborhood that is not too "sketchy". I chose A.M. because I am staying not to far from the one near parco Valentino. TIA David BTW tickets to Salone are always available at the gate for those having trouble with ticketone.
  15. Looking for ideas and rec's for dining one night (Saturday) in the countryside East of Torino. The reason east is that is where a large contingent of folks I know going to Salone will be staying. Anything within an hours ride and not on too windy of a road. We will drive back to Torino that night. As mentioned before I am considering Tre Colli. Are Swiss Chef or Sam or Bill Klap or Robert Brown still posting about the area? Seems very quiet here on EG these days?
  16. http://www.trecolli.com/ was a place I had wanted to try two years ago but they close abruptly the day of our reservation "for family business". I was wondering if any of you (in particular our Monferatto residents) had any opinion or suggestions about this place or another. This will be for a Saturday in late Oct and we will be coming from (and returning to) Torino for the meal. It is during the Salone and I really want to have a nice meal outside the city and not down in Alba area. SO I have wanted to try to find some places in the area East of Torino. BTW I have a great story about my wife losing all or money and passports at a bus stop outside Montechiaro d'Asti so I have strange feelings about returning.
  17. OK so all you've to do is register for the ticketone site like any site in USA. Once you do then you can buy tickets online with a CC through the secure server. If you have any questions about what to put where you can ask me or just use a translator like babblefish. I bought 2 five day passes and will pick up at box office in Torino. No IVA # needed for non EU citizens
  18. Bread in 18th Anis Bouabsa Au Duc de la Chapelle 32, rue Tristan Tzara 75018 Paris Tel: 01 40 38 18 98
  19. Current thread over in Dining section http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=118430. Maybe they could merge into one. I started the thread on the other board but maybe should have started here? I have not been on EG much in the past year and this new split discussion system takes some getting used to to know where to post what. Of course old fogys like me never take well to change.
  20. Try contacting some of the publishers. I do not know of any books in Italian off hand but you may look for things like James Beard (Simon Shuster) as that would be a classic book for anyone. The other thing I would tell you is that with almost all my friends and acquaintances in Italy the one food they all talk about from America is "Jewish Deli" like pastrami on rye. Maybe a care package from Katz's? Of course the folks I know are all food nuts and all travel to NYC. It is hard to imagine many cookbooks from American chefs being very popular in Italy. Last year I travelled for a bit with a person from the California restaurant scene and she was shocked when no one heard of most the places (including French Laundry) she mentioned. American, big, Hollywood movies are also popular with Europeans (why? I will never understand) so if you can find out if they are fans maybe load up on a few recent releases and send them. I know most DVD's cost about the same as a good cookbook these days.
  21. I spoke (via Email) with a long time friend and wine maker in Nieve and she says that the grapes are a bit stressed from heat but that is a better situation than watered down by too much rain. She contends that if the weather stays as is then it could be a fine year for her (Barbersco and Dolcetto d'Alba) but not so good for truffles. As to the croat truffles I have had wonderful truffles from Croatia, particularly the 2005 - 2006 crops. They have a an almost identical DNA to Tartuffe d'Alba and can easily pass. However when Croatia truffles were first gaining wide appeal as Croatia came out of the war the truffles were half the cost (in NYC) as its Italian cousin. Now sadly the Croats want to ask the same for theirs as they do in the market in Alba (easily the most expensive and dubious place to buy truffles in Italy IMHO) Tartuffe d'Alba is more of a brand name at this point anyway. As many will attest, the Monferrato has equally excellent truffles. Last year early Oct rains and cold brought on a nice early crop which went weak fast. The week I was there in early mid November we saw 3000 Euro a K for mediocre truffles in town and paid 2200 for small truffles from a local we know. They had a good smell but a mild flavor. Even the chef at Antine when we had dinner there said he was not at all pleased with the truffles but had to do a truffle menu because people came there expecting it. Same at Tournevento. The best we had were the little known, yet quite wonderful whites of Tuscany that come from S.G. d'Asso and are referred to as Crete Senesi truffles . So we wait to see how October rolls in. I for one have had my fill of mediocre and expensive truffles and would just as soon pass on one more weak harvest. I keep my fingers crossed for wet weather following the grape harvest at the end of the month.
  22. Thank you "Felice". I was wondering if there was a book that listed such things and if so how accurate and what the popular opinion of the book is. I will definitely look into having some product from all those you listed and visit the ones in Paris. I also did a bit of searching on the web for that restaurant mentioned to me and they seem to have glowing reviews and are considered The place for SW cuisine in Paris. John do you know this place (Sud-Ouest Monceau) and have you eaten there? BTW for those that have not checked Johns food blog (maybe I was the last one to do so and you all go regularly?) do so. It is chock full of info and well written. With all the strolling and eating John does where does he find time to write? John do you sleep? I want to be John when I grow up.
  23. A friend in Paris said this is her favorite place for rilette and lunch. Sud-Ouest Monceau in the 17th. ANyone know it?
  24. I guess you are saying it is another great year for wine and bad for truffles so far? Or what is it you are saying? Are you in the area and do you know what the rainfall in critical areas has been and what the forecast is? I was hoping to find someone with "on the ground" updates. Can you add something to the conversation that will help enlighten us or address the question? BTW truffles need rain all year to develop a good crop, they need late, cold rains to ripen. The following (excerpted) article was written by Zelda Carter and Kelly Collins from a presentation by Charlie LeFevre <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> "In the Spring there is vegetative growth of the mycelium, this requires mild and moist weather. In the Summer, the primordia form when it is warm and dry. This is a risky time of year because, if it gets too warm and dry the primordia will not develop further. In the Autumn, the truffle enlarges. During the Winter, the truffle matures." <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>> So May rains are as important as July rains as important as November rains. They all play a part. Without one the others are less likely to be a success. No Spring rain and no mycelium, no sumer rain and no formation of fruit, no fall / winter rains no growth and ripening. However your point of the rain falling in the correct place is accurate. That is why the thread was started to find out if the rain has been falling in the right areas.
  25. It has not sold out before as the convention center will hold upwards of 50K people or more. Events and dinners do sell out each year. The box office will have tickets and if you decide to buy in advance from ticketone and have trouble try contacting Simona Nuvi her email is listed on the site. If you are going for more than 3 days buy the 5 day pass for 30 Euros (member price). I will write to Simona to see if she can help. It is hard to buy tickets online without an IVA# (sort of a SS # for the EU) since ticketone will not process order without it. I am trying to work around it and will keep you posted. Other than that just buy tickets at the Box Office which opens around 11AM to long lines. Be early and prepare to stand for 30 - 45 minutes then prepare to be on your feet for as long as you can take it. The hours are 11- 11 every day but the last.
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