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Everything posted by FoodZealot

  1. Personally, I leave the fell on, but score it lightly, because I psuedo-scientifically made several racks of spareribs, each with different treatment. One membrane was completely removed, two were left on but scored (just barely through the membrane, vertically between each rib), and one was left completely intact. To me, the best results were with the scored membrane. For the most part, the tasters agreed with me that the one where it was completely removed was too dry, and the one where it was intact seemed fatty. I don't mind the sometimes papery texture. The flavor "seemed" to be an improvement over the membrane-intact ribs, but it's hard to be sure. The smoke ring was pretty consistent for the whole batch, as I recall. In the name of science, I think it's time for another round of testing... ~Tad
  2. FoodZealot


    I am enjoying this thread very much. My mother's side of the family is Okinawan, but for the most part, I am not familiar with these dishes. I do remember my great grandmother always had boiled pork and pork stock around. When we would visit, she would not let us leave without making something simple for us, like frying up some boiled pork slices and frying somen noodles so they were just a bit crispy. My family and I have tried to recreate that taste many times, but no success so far. She would also make a stew with chicken, gobo, konbu, takenoko and araimo. Also, many simple okazu-type dishes with just a few ingredients, like string beans, onions, potatoes and small pieces of pork. Andagi are notoriously leaden and greasy, especially at fairs and bon dances. I believe people just work up too much gluten by stirring, and are so obsessed with the andagi being perfectly round that they add too much flour - making the it more like a dough, easier to handle, spherical, but tough. Just like overmixed muffins, they often have tunnels running through them. My sister calls these rubber biscuits. ~Tad
  3. I usually go to the one on Pico & Cloverfield on Saturday mornings just because it's convenient, but when I'm looking for inspiration, I prefer the Arizona & 3rd Street market in Santa Monica. This year I've really gotten into the white nectarines - really sweet, with almost a creamy quality to them. Tomatoes and basil are always a big deal for me during the summer. I'd like to try some hard-necked garlic varieties. Anyone ever see/use that? ~Tad
  4. To all - I'm sorry if I should already know this, but what is thought to be an acceptable amount of time to wait before a serious review should take place? How long should it take for a kitchen to find it's legs? If I am not mistaken, Rocco's has been open for just about eight weeks now. I'm not being snarky, I don't what the norm is. Thank you. ~Tad
  5. Sorry if I missed this, but along with the many great techniques mentioned, but I would add deglazing. Intentionally creating the fond, then loosening up all them brown yummies and NOT throwing them down the sink. ~Tad
  6. Michael, from your unique perspective, would you please share any thoughts you have on the relative merits of going to a cooking school like the CIA versus a more apprenticeship/self-guided path such as that of Thomas Keller? Thank you. ~Tad
  7. Varmint, I'm new around here, but clearly you are engaged in a very noble endeavor. I salute you. I went out to NC a few years ago and ate my way across the state. Mitchell's and Lexington #1 were my favorites. But as good as the barbeque was in the restaurants, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that homemade must be just that much better. [drool, drool] If there's a next time, I'll figure out a way to be there, even if I have to walk to NC from Los Angeles. ~Tad
  8. I'm perfectly happy being anonymous... [grin] and you're welcome for the pix. I was really intrigued by the Shanghai style - most of what I'm used to eating in terms of dumplings and dim sum is from Hong Kong, I believe. Overall, seems to be a bit more in the savory direction than Hong Kong. Comments? I guess a question about Hakka restaurants belongs in it's own thread, yes? ~Tad
  9. BTW, is there a Jerome in that lineup? I don't believe so. ~Tad
  10. As promised, photos from Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. Please excuse my inconsistent photos and incomplete knowledge of what we ate. Special thanks to Tissue and Gary for being such gracious hosts and patient experts. Today's eGulleteers: Table for 10, please! Please identify yourselves if you wish - I'm horrible at names and nicknames. The exterior - hard to see if going South on Baldwin, and I don't think their name is on the sign for the mini-mall: The restaurant was slammed, but it churns fairly quickly. After about a 40 minute wait for the table, the food starts to arrive quickly after we were seated. There are several items visible in this shot that I didn't get to shoot individually - the vegetarian, fish & vegetable and pork & vegetable dumplings. The skins are so thin, but have a nice soft chew to them. Everything was very fresh. As billed, these mini dumplings are delicious. Tissue's a connected gal - this was one of the complimentary items we enjoyed - a salad of tofu strips, seaweed, bean sprouts, glass noodles and green onions. Dilemma: dumplings must be eaten immediately, but the juice inside is nuclear hot. They are well worth the risk... Not sure if this is called hot and sour soup, but it was pretty good. I love the parade of food concept. Each item has it's moment of glory as it's unveiled with flourish, a cloud of steam, and then instantly devoured. A few items were wrapped with similar folds, so the waitstaff would tell us what each set of things were, although some are transluscent enough to see what the fillings are. I liked the big flavor of these crab dumplings, but the texture of the crab itself was a bit grainy. Some other dishes I didn't get photos of (too busy eating!) were a soup with glass noodles and fried tofu, steamed bao, fried green beans with garlic (salty and good), spinach with garlic, and shrimp fried rice. For dessert, Tissue ordered a "roll" of glutinous rice with sweet red bean filling, a formed dessert of glutinous rice with sweet red bean filling and decorated with preserved fruits, steamed dumpling skins with sweet red bean filling, and the steamed bao with sweetened black sesame filling pictured below. Of the desserts, I liked this one the best. The dark, almost bitter flavor of the black sesame is sweetened just barely enough. It was a great meal! Just behind the hostess, they have a window into one of the prep areas. There's an army of people here, probably 9 or 10 in a small space, all standing and making dumplings. There are probably many more in the other kitchen. Quite a few appeared to be other than Chinese. The guy in the background is rolling out the skins with a simple dowel-like pin about 1/2 inch in diameter. The person in the foreground fills in the pork, and others do the pleating and sealing of the dumplings. It was great to meet everyone and I look forward to more outings! ~Tad
  11. Huh??? I'm not sure what you mean by hot smoking but I could routinely smoke at about 225 chamber temperature with my New Braunfels. That is about optimum for brisket or pork butt. You leave the exit stack wide open and regulate the temperature with the air vent on the fire box. Sorry, I was not clear. I meant to offer the caveat that it's designed to cook in the temperature range you described, around 225 degrees, rather than cold smoking, which would be much lower, for things like bacon and cured fish.
  12. Very true. My favorite saying to that effect is, it ain't the pit, it's the pitmaster... I have the New Braunfel's Black Diamond, which is available at the Home Despot and Barbecues Galore, I believe, for somewhere around $200. I like it, but it's designed for hot smoking. I'm not familiar enough to speak about the Char-Griller, but the NBBD is sturdy if you assemble it well. Personally, I believe that you can fit quite a bit more food in it than a WSM. Here's a great FAQ. If you do get the NBBD, take that section about the tweaks with a grain of salt. Most of the tweaks are concerned with keeping the smoke in. But in my experience with the unit, the problem is not getting enough smoke onto your food (plenty of that), but getting the right tasting smoke. ~Tad
  13. This may be old hat to some of you, but I think Jean-Georges Vongerichten's recipes are pure brilliance. 1 bottle red wine, reduced to 1 cup carrots and water, cooked and pureed S&P Here's one I adapted from Mark Bittman: salmon filet S&P cumin brown sugar Season lightly, pat on brown sugar heavily. Grill skin side down over alder wood with cover on. Do not flip. Remove at 125 degrees internal temperature. This blew the doors off everything else we had slaved over that day. ~Tad
  14. I'm not a huge fan of Bon Appetit, but I did buy this issue off the rack. It wasn't nearly as eloquent as some of the posts in this thread, but at least there's an acknowledgement of the strong regionalism in the country, and they actually went to the mercados and whatnot. It wasn't that long ago that magazine coverage of Mexican food would have been fajitas, margaritas and flan, written from a NY or LA apartment. As far as the *soul* of Mexico, people would do better to read this thread. Jaymes, theabroma and snowangel's posts made me wish I grew up in Puebla instead of Hawaii, (which ain't too bad of a place either <grin>). Additionally, I don't think I would move away from neighbors who would bring peach/blueberry pie, rhubarb pie, or Thai squid salad to an impromptu potluck either. ~Tad
  15. I'm new to eGullet, but thanks to all for sharing expertise and enthusiasm. I grew up in a small town in Hawaii, and there were no Indian restaurants. There were only dishes called curry stew that were closer to thin Japanese curry. Then for college I moved to Stockton in the Central Valley of California, which is not very diverse ethnically nor culinarily. I was curious about Indian cuisine, but had no access to it. I was getting interested in cooking, so I would watch Madhur Jaffrey on TV when I could. I guess the closest restaurants would have been the Bay Area or Sacramento, but we always seemed to end up at Chinese or other places. So really, my first experience with anything remotely authentic was at Gaylord restaurant in Beverly Hills. I was brokebrokebroke, having just moved to LA and working at an unpaid internship (about 11 years ago). I was watching my money very carefully. My friend and his friends were going to this restaurant, so I tagged along. I don't remember the menu, but I recall distinctly having naan and using it to pick up various dishes. I loved the almost grilled flavor or the naan as a foil to all the other dishes. The fragrant basmati was so different and flavorful compared to the Japanese rice I was accustomed to. It was definitely love at first bite, even though I didn't even know whether this was authentic or representative of Indian food in any way. The spicyness did not always have heat with it, but complex and very foreign, but undoubtedly delicious. I spent about $30, which freaked me out because it was about a weeks' budget of lunches. A true extravagance at the time. I would say that I've learned a tremendous amount from Indian flavors and technique, but it hasn't become a normal part of my cooking yet. I always feel like I'm still being introduced to it myself, and it remains exotic. The palette of flavors and aromatics is so broad compared to Western or Japanese food. I was once lucky enough to go to a wedding of a good friend where all the food was homemade and quite exquisite. I think good dishes for beginners are tandoori, cauliflower & chickpeas, the various breads, and dishes where cream is added (korma or masala?). I apologize that I don't know if this is a regional variation or even an acceptable one, but the cream tends to soften and blend the flavors somewhat. ~Tad
  16. I like different hot sauces for different moods, but some favorites are: Tapatio Bufalo Chipotle Red Rooster the Smokehouse sauce from Lexington Barbecue Huy Fong (rooster, green top) sriacha Cajun Power Garlic Pepper Huy Fong also makes a sambal badjak that is genius, but relatively hard to find. ~Tad
  17. I'm not sure this qualifies as an aphorism, but here goes: Somewhere, there exists a very, very short list of things that are not improved by adding bacon. Additionally, bacon itself is not on that list. ~Tad
  18. Hey, can a newbie glom on to this event? ~Tad
  19. Sounds to me like you're talking about quintessential LA. Most people would include: Phillipe's the Original - 1001 N. Alameda St. (at Ord St.) original? french dip sandwich Pink's Hot Dogs-709 N. La Brea Ave. (at Melrose Ave.) Tommy's Original-first location 2575 W Beverly Blvd (at Rampart) LA is a burger town Musso & Frank's-6667 Hollywood Blvd. (Highland Ave.) classic Hollywood Langer's Deli-704 S. Alvarado St. (at 7th St.) my preferred pastrami. go during the day Depending on your tastes, I would add: Lawry's the Prime Rib- 100 N La Cienega (N of Wilshire) lots of tourists, but still an institution someplace with a view: Geoffrey's, The Lobster, Malibu Seafood, etc Guelaguetza-Oaxacan food In-N-Out Burger McDonald's in Brea/Downey is one of the oldest still in existence. They still deep fry the apple pies. You might hear about El Tepeyac (also referred to as Manny's). People love it, but I don't recommend it. I'd also resist any urge to go to either location of the Ivy. Good Luck! ~Tad
  20. Oops, this is the website of a place in NY. Here's the Citysearch profile of the place in question. It's very good. Tidbit - the owner makes all the pottery dishes used in the restaurant. The shabu shabu place mentioned in another post is probably the one in the Little Tokyo shopping plaza. It's good, but if you only have three nights in town, I'd go somewhere else. I do agree that Guelaguetza is worth a dinner. It's mostly from the Oaxaca region, so quite different from Mexican food that most people are familiar with. Killer Shrimp in the Marina is pretty enjoyable and different for a lunch. Gulf Shrimp cooked in a spicy, Cajun-like broth, which you peel and eat with french bread for dunking. No view, though. Sweet potato pecan pie is a nice finish. Chinois and Campanile are great choices. I wish I speak knowledgeably about other places, but I haven't been doing much dining lately... Maybe others could comment on Melisse Mastro's Saddle Peak Lodge ~Tad
  21. Just to supplement a reference to it, In-N-Out Burger still has the same menu as it has always had. unframed In-N-Out menu But customers' special order tweaks have standardized over time. Here's an unofficial legend: genex's In-N-Out Burger Secret menu It's a reliably good, drive-in style cheeseburger. I respect the vision and commitment it tapes to keep everything perfectly simple, even though that sounds like you're doing nothing. In this case, it's not messing up something that people like. Other megachains have turned to chasing trends and novelties, but these guys just do their own thing. Seems like they have a good growth strategy, too. Supposedly, they only open in free standing locations where they can own the property. Off topic-> Personally, I prefer Fatburger, which is more like a backyard type burger. No relish, though. Now owned by Magic Johnson. ~Tad
  22. Here's one I found: chef2chef - Bayless cecina recipe ~Tad
  23. I know this thread is a bit cold, but I'm new around here, so I'm reading lots of threads for the first time. I find this thread fascinating as my college training was in economics, I am currently a musician whose day job is working in the music industry, and I am a home cook who has done some small scale catering. I humbly offer my thoughts: I do agree with the comments that there are many non pecuniary aspects to the food business, which are more in play than in other industries. i.e. there are strong motivators other than profit. These may include desire to make people happy, to create or extend a legacy, having pride in providing a service, belonging to the subculture of foodservice workers, and the romance of being a restaurant owner, the ego stroke of having people like your food, being the best at something, etc. And, now that apparently it's possible to also become a celebrity by being a chef, people will be lining up like actors to an audition - oh, wait.... Fame/immortality is an powerful motivation. People subject themselved to incredible abuse for the miniscule chance at being known to millions, whether as a rock star, an American Idol, or the next Brad Pitt or Jennifer Anniston. Plainly, not everyone has the right combination of ruthless ambition/looks/creativity/abilities/Q rating/sex appeal/self-esteem/tenacity/luck to get to adoration level. Almost everyone that thinks they can cook a good meal, also thinks that they can cook in a restaurant - the same way that a local karaoke star thinks they can be Whitney Houston. And admittedly, I'm closer to the karaoke singer than an unknown but skilled and experienced professional. I'm just leading to the idea that between the common desire to open a restaurant and "all it takes is money" the result is lots of competition. Competition tends to drive profits down. There's an economic model called Perfect Competition, wherein there are low barriers to entry and exit, there is little differentiation, there are many, many suppliers (in this case, restaurants), and profits are economically zero. Not that no one is making any money, just that anyone who can make more money in some other endeavor leaves to do that. Of course there are complexities and exceptions, but I think it speaks to why profits tend to be low and also why restaurants open and close so quickly. Among other things, economic success is possible through differentiation. Yes, a close eye on the numbers is key, but some inefficiency can be traded off for differentiating yourself from other competitors, on the basis of quality, service, price, uniqueness, location, etc. The more you can set yourself apart, the better the premium to be charged. To paraphrase a movie, "this is not restaurant friends, this is (the) restaurant business." Thanks. ~Tad
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