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  1. Content advisory: this is going to come across as an unalloyed rave, so let me say at the outset that I have no connection with Pen-y-bryn other than having stayed there. Now we have that out of the way - we visited Oamaru for the annual steampunk festival at the end of May this year. Oamaru, a small (pop. 13,500) town in the South Island, 250-odd kilometres south of Christchurch, is home to one of the best-preserved Victorian precincts in the country. The Victorian heritage has been embraced by the community, first with Victorian re-enactments and now with the steampunk. Oamaru calls itself the steampunk capital of New Zealand and the annual Queen's Birthday weekend festival is quite an event. I could go on at length about it, but this is not the place. Pen-y-bryn (Welsh for 'top of the hill' was built as a private residence in 1889 and is said to be the largest single-level residential building in New Zealand or Australia. Here's the house: I met one of the owners, James Glucksman, through eGullet a couple of years ago, and this seemed a good opportunity to meet my first eG member in person. James and his partner James Boussy (collectively: the Jameses) are of US origin and have travelled extensively. The lodge is filled with period furniture, some of it made for the original owner, and decorated with items the Jameses have collected in their travels. There's a full-sized billiard table (one of three originally made for the New Zealand Parliament; only two would fit so the remaining one came south to Oamaru), a fantastic original Florentine ceiling in the dining room and any number of comfortable places to sit with a book and a drink. James G is the chef and morning guy (how does that work?); James B is the gardener and evening guy. Breakfasts are splendid affairs. As well as (lodge-made) fruit compotes and wonderful jams, muesli and granola, there's always a freshly-made baked selection. I can thoroughly recommend the croissants, although it's hardly fair to single them out, and I have now been introduced to the famous biscuits and gravy - not something often seen in this country: Rather good, I must say, and I'd certainly have them again. I think James said we were the first guests he'd tried them out on. Sausage gravy, for those of you who are wondering, with just the right level of cayenne. After that, if you have room, you can have your choice of eggs with bacon, tomato and mushrooms. For the first few days of our stay we were deeply involved in festival affairs and weren't able to have much more than bed and breakfast at the lodge. Not that that's anything to be sneezed at, and it was very pleasant to return exhausted in the evening and be met at the door by a James, then ushered into the drawing room for a nightcap - a cocktail, or perhaps a glass of James G's excellent nocino. On the final day, though, we thought we'd be having a free day and arranged to have two of our friends who had travelled with us from Wellington join us for afternoon tea, to be followed by a proper dinner. As it turned out we got involved in a photo session in the morning followed by helping pack out of the hall much of the festival had been in, and ended up with only minutes to spare to dress accordingly (one must!) before we were due for tea. But we made it: (Photo courtesy Pen-y-bryn) What a splendid group of people, don't you think? That's Mrs Hudson (the younger) on the left, then Professor Carwardine, myself (Colonel Hawthorne) and Captain Smollett. A very distinguished gathering indeed - you may note we had abandoned most of our steampunk accoutrements in favour of a more pure Victorian look (save for my cravat pin, but you can't see that). Our host was no less splendid: OK, he didn't dress like that all the time - he cuts a decent figure in chefs' whites as well - but this is what eGullet members can look like when they put their minds to it. We'd neglected to warn James until the day before of the gluten-free needs of one of the party, but he came through magnificently. Coronation Chicken and radish/poppy seed/cream cheese sandwiches, feijoa/orange tea cakes, English Royalty currant scones with clotted cream and more of James's jam, along with rosewater/pistachio meringues. All except the tea cakes were gluten-free, and everything was delicious. I haven't experienced much gluten-free food, but if it's all like this (I believe it isn't!) I think I could cope. This was accompanied by our choice from an extensive tea list. The Jameses have lived in China and their knowledge of teas is vast - they can even do a full tea ceremony at the lodge if you wish. A very nice touch at afternoon tea was a discreet printed menu so we knew what we were having. This was also offered later at dinner, to which we now come. Having dressed appropriately (again - we're getting quite good at it), Mrs Hudson (the younger) and myself descended to the drawing room. James G had unfortunately been forced to take to his bed after our afternoon tea (we wore him out?), but his young sous-chef Ashley and James B between them gave us a memorable evening. We began with cocktails and canapés. For the former we introduced James to the Tolkien. He's not big on mixed drinks, but allowed that this one was acceptable. Ashley presented this offering: Chorizo, mozzarella and cherry tomato with a balsamic reduction, and crostini with stracchino and saltwater pearls. The chorizo and both cheeses were - again - made at Pen-y-bryn. After a suitable interval we repaired to the dining room: James offered a short but thoughtful wine list, and we went with this: When one is in Otago, one must drink Otago, don't you think? It was a good choice; warm and fruity and a good match for what followed. First, cocoa-nib rubbed North Otago venison carpaccio, served with confit cherry tomatoes, sumac-sesame-pinenut soil and balsamic caviar: This was a beautiful dish in every way. Although our first meeting on eG was in the chamber sealer topic, I hadn't been aware quite how modernist James's cooking was (he told me later he likes to include modernist elements, but may dial it back depending on his audience. He didn't have to hold back with us). Ashley was able to chat happily about maltodextrin and spherification - I flatter myself she enjoyed having people there who knew what she was talking about! But as the eG modernist community knows, it's not all about appearance; the food has to taste good. And this certainly did. If you're wondering, the white thing is a coconut sphere. Then, after a lovely mixed fruit sorbet with triple sec, the main course. Sous vide confit Canterbury duck leg with crumbed quenelle of pommes sarladais, sorrel gel, baby bok choy and haricots verts, and port wine sauce. And look at the plate: This was another lovely dish. The duck was just as tender as you'd hope, with just the lightest crisping of the skin. The potato quenelle was possibly the best of its type I've had, and the dots of sorrel gel provided a nice bitter note. We had to finish eventually and it was in fine style, with passionfruit-lemon tart with crème Chantilly and vanilla-poached tamarillos (the photo was taken before the tamarillos went on): Again, delicious. A shortcake-style base with delicious thick cream, complemented beautifully by the berry (I think) sauce and tamarillos. After this it only remained to return to beside the fire in the drawing room to join some new friends we'd made on this trip. A very lovely evening. I can thoroughly recommend Pen-y-bryn for a luxury stay if you get to this part of the world. I have only one criticism - it's completely ruined me for staying anywhere else. Thanks, guys. We'll be back.
  2. Italian Wine Tasting Vin Classic Wines 5717 Legacy Drive Suite 120 Plano, TX (Map) Thursday June 28, 2007 6:30 - 8:00 pm Free, with a paltry $5 contribution per person to the eGullet Society Wines tasted: Frescobaldi Brut Millisimato 2000 Attems Pinot Grigio 2005 Nipozzano Chiant Reserva 2003 Castelgiocondo Brunello 2002 Tenuta di Castglioni Rosso Toscana 2004 Ornellaia 2004 Pomino Vin Santo 2001 Thanks to Darrell Gibson at Vin Classic for arranging this special tasting, and to Gina della Vedova from the distributor, Folio, for the interesting background on each wine poured. This was the most extensive free tasting I have been to -- from the $12 Attens Pinot Grigio 2005 to the $175 Tenuta dell' Ornellaia 2004.
  3. We tried 8 French olive oils. I will list the 8 and give my tasting notes for each, then let the others chime in with their notes. (1) Chateau de Montfrin (14€): Smooth, soft and warm. The oil lasted on the tongue but never turned bitter. (2) Moulin a Huile Paradis (negrette) (13€): I listed this one has having a sharp green unpleasant bite. (3) Moulin de L'Olivette (12€): I tasted a floral dusty bite, somewhat like the taste of the inside of a flower. (4) Domaine de Marquiliani (21€): Mild and smooth up front with a spicy garlic finish. (5) Huile d'olive de Nyons (26) Tache (15€): Very green with hints of fresh olive. Clean taste like it had been stored in steel. (6) Moulin Jean Marie Cornille (17€): Zesty and bitter with hints of lemon rind. (7) Chateau Virant (12€): Super smooth with almost zero bitter finish. (8) J. Leblanc (15€): Pine and bark hints with mildly bitter taste and lasting mild finish. In these olive oils, I found myself leaning towards the milder ones in the batch. My favorites were (7) Chateau Virant (12€) and (1) Chateau de Montfrin (14€). The Corsican olive oil (4) Domaine de Marquiliani (21€) I also liked, but more for it's uniqueness than for something I would use on a day-to-day basis.
  4. Thursday night twelve of us put together a solid effort at tasting a plethora of salted French butter. In total there were 16 butters (although two were from Pennsylvania). The butters ranged from basic Monoprix brands, to market butter scraped from an urn, to the much lauded Bordier. We tasted blind, and simply started by tasting the butter that was situated closest to us on a table filled with butter plates (pics coming soon). After two hours of smearing the pale yellow pats onto little nuggets of baguette, we all felt a little tired, a little nauseous, and a strange mix of being full and desiring a salad at the same time. Throughout the tasting we independently kept track of our favorites and (more importantly) our least favorites, then tallied those scores at the end. Here are the butters we tasted (with my notes) and how they ranked. 1. Buerre de Baratte AB: Dull, with an artificial texture and slightly bitter. 2. Monoprix Gourmet:Salty but nice mouthfeel, slightly bitter finish. 3. Payson Breton: Mild salting, creamy with a lasting oily mouthfeel. 4. Grand Fermage: Chunky bits of salt with a mild slightly oily finish. 5. Marie Morin: Strange funky taste, artificial and oily. 6. Bernard Gaborit (Beurre Cru): Hints of the ocean in the salt with a lasting creaminess. 7. Le Montsurais: Mild, not oily, not salty, almost no distinction. 8. Le Gall (P'tibio): Dull, mild, no mouthfeel. 9. Grand Fermage (Charentes Poitou): Boring! Tastes like nothing. 10. Echire:Sweet, with a nice milk taste. 11. Cantin:Tasted like the wax from baby bell cheese, hints of plastic, not good. 12. Hendricks (unsalted): Like a frozen popsicle of milk. 13. Gin Meadow: Tasted like cake batter, or that stage when you whip butter with sugar. 14. Bordier: Lot's of up front salt, but a mild finish. 15. a la Motte Sale:Salty and more grassy then the others. 16. Au Bon Beurre: Super salty, hard to taste anything else. Let's start off the results with the big losers of the bunch. 5. Marie Morin: With nearly a unanimous vote, this was the WORST butter of the bunch. We bought this one at Galleries Lafayette Gourmet. 11. Cantin: With the second most votes for disliked butter, most people noted the plasticky and waxy taste. And now the big winners of the night. 10. Echire: With 7 votes, more than half the people here voted this as the best of the bunch. 4. Grand Fermage: and 2. Monoprix Gourmet: Tied for second with five votes each. 9. Grand Fermage (Charentes Poitou) Rounded out the last of the top votes with four votes. Interesting notes: The Bordier butter came in with three votes. The most contested butter was the 16. Au Bon Beurre which had three votes for favorite and four votes for least favorite. I will let others ring in with their notes as well as information on the butters they brought.
  5. First Annual Asian Lunar New Year Dinner Saturday, February 9th, 2008 - 7:00 pm Kirin Court Chinese Restaurant 221 W. Polk St., #200 (Central Expressway & Main Street, S.E Corner) Richardson, Texas 75081 $35, included tax, tip and $5 contribution to the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. We had a great time last night at Kirin Court. It was good to meet some local members of the eGullet Society for the first time. The conversation largely revolved around the high quality and authenticity of the food, and people's experiences eating in China and Malaysia, as well as around the DFW area. The restaurant worked well with us to make this a great meal. We successfully adjusted the menu a bit in order to maintain the same cost per person. Thanks again to Kent Wang for selecting the original menu. His choices were terrific. Asian Lunar New Year Dinner Menu Appetizer Boneless Pork Back Soup Seafood soup Main Dishes Peking Duck Vegetable Special New Year Fa Cai Whole Fish - Flounder Salt & Pepper Shrimp Whole cold Chicken Dessert Almond Cookies Tea Chrysantimum Green Tea served with Rock Sugar Thanks to Jeff Meeker who took photos of the dishes. Thanks to everyone attending, we raised $35 for the eGullet Society. Everyone agreed we should do this again next year, so note your calendar for the Second Annual Asian New Year Dinner tentatively the second week of February 2009.
  6. Tarantino, you did it again! It was a fabulous Chinese new year Banquet at Joe Poon's studio. Pics to follow. Anyone else take pics beside me? I think I missed some of the courses! I am a poor food pornographer. Damn near 70 of us (and about 20 newbies) partied, laughed and ate and just devoured the heck out of Joe Poon's hospitality. What a great DDC night. Kudos, Jim!
  7. Okay, here is what we had: Moutarde Violette (recette Charentaise) Nice mellow mustard that would be tasty with crackers and cheese. The sweetness of the wine mellows out the mustard seed really well. Moutard de Truffe (Tubissime) OMG, that is not okay! Two tastes that came together as something you would shoot at a fancy fraternity party, as a dare. Moutard au Miel (Champ's) Yummy, a discernible amount of honey created a delicious classic pairing. (While I didn't have time to bring it, the honey mustard from Les Abilles is amazing. It features a spike of horseradish that gives it another dimension). Moutard de Picard (Champ's) I felt the cider didn't add anything to the taste. The flavor was as if plain whole grain had cider vinegar dumped into the batch. Moutard au Vin Charentais Nice whole grain look, but tasted of dust and cider. Verjus et Miel (Maille) Nothing special, tasted of your basic brown mustard. Horshradish (Maille) I LOVE horseradish and assumed I would love this mustard. Unfortunately this mustard tasted nothing of the bite or tang of horseradish and instead offered only little pickled nuggets of the root. Forte de Dijon (Monoprix) The strongest of the Dijons. A bit too powerful for most applications. Unless of course you want to clear your sinuses instantly. French's ballpark Oh French's, this instantly takes me back to pulling those nasty encrusted udders at Fenway. How can I say anything bad about something so charged with good memories. French's Dijon So either this one had gone bad, or just IS really bad. Tastes of flour and flowers, with hints of cardboard thrown in. The texture was pasty to boot. Moutarde de Dijon (Champ's) Classic Dijon taste without being overwhelming like the one from Monoprix. Moutarde de Meaux (Pommery) Big bits of whole grain but with a smooth taste that develops in the mouth. Hints of Champagne left a nice finish that felt as though it would cut through a fatty steak really well. For me the best of the lot were the Champ's au Miel and Dijon, both of which represented the best of their respective genres. My other favorite was the moutarde de Meaux which was both original and delicious. The French's Dijon and the moutarde de Truffe should be labeled as "not meant for consumption". The French's ballpark gets high scores for nostalgia. Here is a link to the labels and the pretzels: Mustard Gallery
  8. NOTE: For planning-related questions, please see the PLANNING TOPIC. The eG Heartland Gathering (2011 edition, eG HG v7, and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Society!!) is almost upon us, thanks to NancyH's indefatigable efforts! The schedule is as follows: Thursday Evening "Tremont Crawl" 5pm: Fahrenheit, 2417 Professor Avenue ($11) 7pm: Lolita, 900 Literary Road ($32) 9pm: Dante, 2247 Professor Avenue ($38.30) Friday Lunch 11am: Meet with Chris Hodgson of the Hodge Podge food truck 11:45am: Eat at the food truck, Voinovich Park (pay per item, $3-$12 per) After lunch: Tour of the soon-to-open Crop Restaurant by owner/chef Steve Schimoler Friday Happy Hour 5pm: Velvet Tango Room, 2095 Columbus Rd (pay by drink, no t-shirts, shorts, or ripped jeans) Friday Dinner 8pm: Greenhouse Tavern, 2038 East 4th Street ($73 + T&T + $8 valet) Saturday Feast [NO TIME SET]: The Chubby Cook, 3365 Richmond Road #225 ($30) Sunday Lunch 10:30am: AMP 150, 4277 West 150th St ($30 + Tip) For reports on previous Heartland Gatherings, see: eG HG 0, Grand Rapids, MI 2003 eG HG I, Ann Arbor, MI, 2005 eG HG II, Ann Arbor, MI, 2006 eG HG III,Cleveland, OH, 2007 eG HG IV, Chicago, IL, 2008 eG HG V, Kansas City, MO, 2009 eG HG VI, Ann Arbor, MI, 2010
  9. Well - it's Friday night and we'll all just rolling back to our various homes and hotel rooms. We've been eating all day!!!! I've spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday running the contents of my house down to Niagara - and wondering how I'm going to get them all home again Sunday evening. It was a delight to see people again and to see some new faces as well. We drove across the border in a couple of different cars and I dropped off my charges at Landies Candies. I had a few errands to run so wasn't able to join them there. Apparently they weren't allowed to take pictures. We had planned to meet at the Anchor Bar for lunch but apparently the earliest reservation was 1:30 so I quickly headed over to Duff's (the other wing place in town) and grabbed up a table for 10 before the joint filled up. Apologies in advance for the pictures. Gene and Josh (who works for Art and Wilma and attended in their stead) RobertM and Curls - so sorry about this picture - not one of my better ones! Chocolot. Plus one and Connie (another of Art and Wilma's staff) The wings. The fries. After lunch - off to Tomric to meet with Brian Donaghy to show us some panning and play with the Selmi. Brian starting to pan some cereal. RobertM - cutting his caramel and cookie creation in preparation for enrobing on the Selmi. Brian making some last minute adjustments to the Selmi. Waiting for the goodies to come through the chocolate.
  10. The building and the name are pretty much all that remain to tell the visitor that this was once a pub. Inside, it’s fitted out and staffed in entirely restaurant style. So, let’s regard it as a restaurant and, indeed, one with a Michelin star, rather than a gastropub where one might go to drink as well as eat. There’s no freebie amuse bouche, but there are a few nibbly pre-starters to buy. Scotch egg, perhaps, or a couple of rollmops. Or, for me, rabbit rillettes on toast. Well seasoned bunny with a few slices of cornichon to contast. Game, in the form of pigeon breast salad continued to be my choice. Thin slices of rare pigeon, quails egg, a little frisee, a little radicchio, a scattering of pine nuts and sultanas. They all worked well together. It felt a bit Italian and that part of the world was certainly the theme of my partner’s starter – a courgette flower stuffed with ricotta and served warm. Alongside, and served at room temperature, pine nuts and sultanas, sliced artichoke, a little beetroot and a few raw peas. All very summery. Lemon sole, served on the bone, was excellent and came with a salad of pea shoots, marinated cucumber and brown shrimps. If the starter hadn’t been summery enough, this sorted it out properly. On the other plate, venison haunch came with a very zingy pepper crust – the sort that harked back to the peppered steak of the 1980s. But here, the dish was softened by wilted spinach and a mash which was, to my taste, more sloppy than it needed to be (but then, I’m someone who likes their mashed potato to be potatoes mashed, rather than pomme puree) Desserts were a mixed bag. Strawberry jelly and elderflower cream shouted “English summer”. And, including pieces of fruit in the jelly and topping it with a strawberry sorbet, meant it was shouted pretty loud. I liked this a lot! Rice pudding was as well made as your granny would have made it. It came with two jam doughnuts. Now these seemed to be fashionable dessert accompaniments three or four years ago (at least in our part of the world). They weren’t a good idea then and the passing years havn’t improved the concept. Service was generally good, although the order taken seemed to do a runner towards the end of service which left us, and other tables, doing a bit of finger tapping until we managed to flag down a passing waitress who consented to take our dessert order.
  11. We only had four people this time: franktex, future eGullet member Anthony, my girlfriend, and me. We still managed to order nearly everything we've gotten in the past. Pork intestine. Proper high-heat stir-fry with a bit of a crispy crust on the intestines and rich, smoky flavor from the peppers. This treatment of intestines doesn't leave them as chewy, which is more palatable for Westerners. Overall, one of the best intestine dishes I've ever had. Seafood dumplings. OK. Filling overcooked, packed too tightly. Not as good as Zhong dumplings at Asia Cafe. Pork stomach and pickled vegetable soup. Very simple. The pickled vegetable was quite sour and an interesting thing to have in a soup. Lion's head. Very soft, with a few very small pieces of water chestnut. Whole sea cucumber. Very tender. Best sea cucumber I've had in America. Quail. We forgot to take a picture, so this photo is from last year. This year it was only four pieces, but there was a nice tray of sea salt for dipping the quail into. Braised ham hock. Sauce with rock candy. Appeals to my Shanghai tastes. Better than last year. Eight treasure rice cake. Very wet, even more so than previous years. Otherwise, pretty good. Overall, the food is the best I've ever had from Pao's and one of the best Chinese meals I've had in America, and not far at all from what you can get in China. I hope to organize more events this year, the next one in March. Higher res photos in my Flickr. Pao's Mandarin House review on Fearless Critic partially written by me. Reports from 2008, 2007.
  12. Okay here is the roundup from the chocolate tasting. First off I will tell you what we tried with the prices, origin and cocoa percentage. 3.80 € Michel Cluziel (Mangaro) (n/a) 3.60 € Jean-Paul Hevin (Sao Tome) (75%) 1.50 € Monoprix (Ecuador) (70%) 5 € Patrick Roger (Ecuador) n/a) 6 € Maison du Chocolat (Cuana) (74%) 6.50€ Pierre Herme (Madagascar) (75%) 4.26 € Chocolate Bonnat (Venezuela CHUAO) (75%) 5 € Patrick Roger (Madagascar) (n/a) 3 € Valrhona (Guanaja) (70%) 3 € Valrhona (Dark) (72%) Second I will note that our tasting was a bit flawed in the sense that we didn't have the opportunity to compare single origin beans, given the variety of origins that each chocolate maker uses, it would have been difficult to do so. Finally each person's tastes are completely subjective. Some prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate and vice versa. Some preferred the presence of fruit, while others preferred the woody or nutty aspects. All that being said, there were some favorites across the board. Maison du Chocolat got the most votes by our tasters. We all noted the texture was extremely smooth and tasted the most like a true dark chocolate with hints of cocoa nibs and a nice bitterness. Chocolate Bonnat tied for second with 2 others; Patrick Roger (Ecuador) and the Pierre Herme. Bonnat had a sweet wood taste and a slight bitterness. Some noted the dried cherry and apple hints. Patrick Roger (Ecuador) had a bergamot taste (earl grey) and slightly dry. Mild taste with a light finish. Pierre Herme had a bright citrus taste with hints of lime and zest. The others each had one vote except for the Michel Cluizel which received ZERO votes from the tasters. Ptipois will have some photos from the event. Join us next time for Olive Oil. Details coming soon.
  13. We have our reservations made, and we'll be at the Green Valley Grill at 7:00pm (problems with a 6:30 reservation.) Ask for the e-Gullet or the Tyson group. And if you find at the last minute that you can make it after all, come on - we have extra seats. Hope to see all y'all there. - TT
  14. I gotta say, this was a fantastic, extremely well planned, timed and organized tour, with not a weak dog in the bunch, from Dee's Truck (my personal favorite of the day), to Galloping Hill (who COMPED EVERY PERSON ON THE TOUR A HOT DOG AND DRINK to start off the Tour--that is amazing generosity, and evidence of the high regard in which our tour organizers, John Fox and Benzee were held), to The Windmill, to Jimmy Buff's to Manny's to Bubba's, each and every place was unique in its own way, and each place was distinctively great in their own way, a tremendous achievement by the thoughtful planners of this tour. The Galloping Hill dog, a custom dog on a custom bun, I enjoyed with mustard and hot relish, and it was dazzling. But nothing, to me, topped the fresh snap of the natural casing Sabrett dog at Dee's, served on a equally fresh bun, simply perfection. The Windmill was also quite good, nicely grilled footlong dog with very good chili, mustard and onions. Manny's is my current favorite chili dog, with a chili sauce that has hints of nutmeg and cinnamon--I thought I was in a Cincinnati chili parlor!---and a nicely grilled dog. Great service staff also, I must say. JImmy Buff's in East Hanover was the best version of the Italian hot dog that I've had in along while, just well sauteed onions, peppers and potatoes, great pizza bread and a very good tasty dog. But Bubba's was also great in its way; I had parts of a plain dog with mustard and relish, as well as a chili dog, and they were both superb. KIller fresh cut fries at Bubba's, too. But in the end, its the people on a tour that you enjoy the most, and I've gotta say that this tour had some of the NICEST people you'd ever hope to meet; enthusiastic, eccentric, colorful and best of all, funny. Truly a great day of fun in the hot dog subculture of New Jersey. I hope I can make it every year from now on.
  15. Sushi Tetsu opened on Monday night in the very tiny premises formerly occupied by Passage Cafe on Jerusalem Passage in Clerkenwell (next door to the Dove Belgian bar). It's owned and run by Toru Takahashi and his wife. Toru was sushi chef at Nobu for five years before leaving to open his own place. I don't want to burden them with massively inflated expectations, but this was the closest thing to the Yasuda experience I've found in London. Toru served up piece after piece of top class sushi whilst keeping up a patter on Belgian beer, bossa nova (Astrud v. Bebel Gilberto), blues (Does Johnny Winter hate Japanese people? Why Bobby Bland isn't really blues) and the relative merits/demerits of various sushi restaurants in London and further afield (in fact he namechecked Yasuda as an influence). It's a more classical sushi bar than Sushi of Shiori (which I also very much like). No hot food, no miso. Just sashimi, nigiri and maki. It's a true sushi omakase experience, one piece of nigiri at a time, the meal developing its own flow, its own momentum. It is quite traditional, occasional use is made of a blowtorch but not to the extent it is used at Yashin. The torch giving an effect not unlike the grill used by Masa in Tokyo. In the end, of course, this is London. Billingsgate is not Tsukiji. The fish is not quite at the level of Yasuda or Kuruma (who can import directly from Tokyo) not to mention the Tokyo heavyweights. But it's very, very good and it's prepared with immense skill and passion. This was a hugely encouraging first meal (all the better for it being 400 yards from my front door). I suspect the London sushi scene has a new contender.
  16. Moderator's Note: This report topic has been split off from the planning topic. -- CA Thanks for hosting a great event Kent. It was great to meet you all and I look forward to getting to know you all better. -j.
  17. The annual Heartland Gathering is this weekend in Kansas City: this is the place to post reports about the event, and read about it as it is ongoing. Many thanks to the Kansas City denizens who have been working feverishly to get ready for the onslaught, especially Aaron Deacon and moosnsqrl who have spearheaded the beast. The schedule of events for the 2009 event is: Thursday, July 23, Dinner: Lidia's Thursday, July 23, Cocktails: Manifesto Friday, July 24, Barbecue tour of KC Friday, July 24, Dinner: bluestem Saturday, July 25: The Main Event Sunday, July 26, Breakfast/Brunch: Crum Farm My knives are sharpened, and I'm hungry! ___________________________________________________________ Topic Recipe Index: Roasted Green Chile Risotto (chileheadmike) Pastrami-Brined Short Ribs (edsel) Thai Red Curry with Lychee and Pineapple (Kerry Beal)
  18. Just got back to the hotel after the first day of the 2010 chocolate conference. Steven Lebowitz has done a stellar job of putting together this conference for us here in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A bit of a crisis to start the day - eG was down!!! Making it impossible to figure out where we needed to be and at what time. I remember worrying a lot last year when I was organizing it that something like that might happen - and indeed it did. Fortunately I had Steve's outside e-mail and was able to contact him and figure out where we were meeting. So we started the morning meeting for dim sum at the New Fortune restaurant. An excellent variety of the classic dim sum offerings - there was something for everyone - one of my favourite ways to graze. People trickled in, more food getting added to the tables until it was time to head over to Albert Uster. There we were met by Amanda Haba - one of the corporate pastry chefs. She was assisted by another excellent pastry chef - who's name I will have to leave for others to post - as I seem to have lost track of it. They showed us a number of different items - salted caramel macarons, nougat (made with crystallized flowers), a couple of different bon bon fillings and showed a few different decorating techniques for molded chocolates. A small showpiece flower was produced as well. Here is Amanda using oiled gloved hands to incorporate the inclusions into the nougat. Tip of the day - use an alcohol dipped knife to cut nougat. After purchasing a couple of things at Albert Uster, and getting all the supplies out of Stevens car into the school for tomorrow's classes - we got a bite of dinner then met up for a little look at what everyone has been making. There was a nice selection of wines (3 ice wines and at least a couple of nice reds that I noticed) and a huge quantity of chocolates, popcorn and munchies. The popcorn that RobertM brought along was excellent - I'm going to snag myself a little more of that tomorrow! Another hit of the evening was merlicky's caramelized white chocolate center - wonderful. The secret seems to be let it caramelize long enough. We all wimp out too soon! Didn't realize how small the memory on my new little camera is - so I didn't get a lot of pictures - and missed a picture of the 'care package' that Ilana (Lior) sent. The halvah was fabulous! and there were a variety of packages of various herbs and spices that I'm going to get a closer look at tomorrow (and perhaps make use of in my class). There wasn't any Ganache brand chocolates in there though!
  19. This was our most successful Chinese New Year banquet yet, with eight people in attendance. Photos by yimay. Jellyfish. Everyone liked it! Kao fu. Wheat gluten, mushrooms, bamboo, etc. Traditionally, a Shanghai breakfast dish. Pork and soy sprout soup. Dumplings with pork, shrimp and scallops. Very interesting, I've never had a dumpling with scallops before. They might have been dried scallops as there was a more pronounced briney taste. Quail. "Lion's head", giant meatballs, extremely tender and fluffy. Peking duck. Ti pang, braised ham hock. Thick layer of skin and fat. Probably my favorite dish. Me, my friend Pete. Whole flounder with roe. A fish with roe is considered an auspicious sign. Mustard greens covered in "black hair" seaweed sauce. Black moss or black hair seaweed is actually an algae and is eaten on Chinese New Year because its chinese name "fa cai" (hair vegetable) is a play on words that means prosperity, as in "gong xi fa cai", which is a greeting exchanged during Chinese New Year meaning good luck and prosperity. The seaweed is mild in flavor but added a thick texture to the sauce. Eight treasure rice. The most important Chinese New Year dish, composed of eight different "treasures" in sweet, glutinous rice, similar to a rice pudding. I can't remember all eight of the treasures but they included dates, raisins, gingko nuts, peanuts and prunes. We all have iPhones! Pao's is a really terrific restaurant. If it was more conveniently located I would come out all the time. We raised $32 for the Society at this event. Thank you everyone for coming out. The Year of the Rat is shaping up to be a delicious one.
  20. Kerry Beal

    NiEggara Fest 2012

    Sunday was a gorgeous day at the Hernder Estates Winery - site of the 2012 NiEggarafest - the Big Green Egg fest put on by my Big Green Egg dealer. AnnaN and I asked for the use of 2 BGE's and spent the week preparing - we hoped to impress folks with what we were able to produce on the egg. We started the morning with a breakfast bread pudding - chunks of dried country bread, broccoli, onion, mushrooms and cheddar held together with a custard containing well blended cottage cheese and sour cream. Next up - Not Cinnamon Buns - rolls containing Macadonian green pepper and eggplant spread, some cream cheese, garlic and cheddar shreds. Next we did the Momofuku pork buns - didn't get a picture - too busy with the assembly. After this - some naan with a La Bomba dip. I was making the naan the same day as the steamed buns - put the dough in the fridge to retard it - apparently it didn't retard a whole lot. Then some kimchi pancakes - they were a big hit. Pork tenderloin in a thai coconut dip. We finished off with dried figs, stuffed with dark chocolate and walnuts - roasted for a few minutes to make the chocolate nice and melty. Didn't get a picture.
  21. Just waiting for Kathy to get here with some coffee! We're ready to go!
  22. What's so great a great about crab cakes? And how do you make them even greater? In response to the gauntlet thrown down in this [link] topic, Busboy, aka Charles Sweeney, and I are hosting the great crab cake cookout at the Busboy residence in DC's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood on the afternoon of August 26, at 3 PM. Everyone in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is convinced that they and they alone have the perfect crab cake recipe, we aim to compare and contrast the infinite variations of this summer delicacy to discover the perfect recipe and technique - or at least to argue about it over beer and soda on a (we hope) lovely summer Sunday. This event is BYOC and BYOB: bring your own crab for final assembly in the somewhat cramped Busboy kitchen, and bring your own fa vorite crab-oriented beverage. We'll supply soft drinks, corn and tomatoes. And non-crab-cookers -- everyone, actually -- are invited to bring a side dish of their choice. Kids are invited and parents interested in coming into town for the day should note that the house is a quick walk from the National Zoo. We're looking forward to a relaxed, fun and illuminating afternoon where you can show your stuff or just relax on the last weekend before Labor Day. Everyone is invited, including friends, spouses and otherwise, but space limitations mean that we'll have to cap the event at 20 people, first come, first served. This is also an eGullet fundraiser, so we will be asking a contribution of $10 per person. For further details, please PM Charles or myself. Yours in crabbiness, Bridget LEGAL STUFF: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN ORGANIZED THROUGH EG FORUMS BY MEMBERS BUT IS NOT SPONSORED BY THE EGULLET SOCIETY FOR CULINARY ARTS AND LETTERS OR EG FORUMS. YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY ARRANGED ON OR DISCUSSED IN EG FORUMS IS AT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RISK. BY USING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE FORUMS YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND (1) THAT IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY, YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO A VARIETY OF HAZARDS AND RISKS ARISING FROM THOSE ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS; (2) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE, DISCHARGE CLAIMS, RELEASE, INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS THE SOCIETY, ITS AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AGENTS, AND OTHER PARTNERS AND EMPLOYEES, FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY ON ACCOUNT OF, OR IN ANY WAY RESULTING FROM INJURIES AND DAMAGES IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY SUCH EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES. YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THESE TERMS WILL BE BINDING UPON YOU AND YO UR HEIRS, EXECUTORS, AGENTS, ADMINISTRATORS AND ASSIGNS, AS WELL AS ANY GUESTS AND MINORS ACCOMPANYING YOU AT THE EVENTS.
  23. This is probably the most delayed dining report ever to appear on eGullet. We went to Paris in May of 2011 and I am just now getting to the point of this report. What can I say – life intervened. But some folks are still PM’ing me with hints about this report, so I thought I’d go ahead for anyone who is interested. We got lots of help and advice on the trip before going from eG folks, especially Forest who we were fortunate enough to meet and have dinner with. If you want to see the England part of our trip you can start here: http://forums.egullet.org/topic/139686-england-trip-report/ Wednesday 5/25/2011 That morning we took the train from St. Pancras station in London to Gard de Nord in Paris. We left so early that we didn’t have time to stop for a last English breakfast and had to make do on the train with a Crunchy, an apple and a pain au chocolat. Train food being train food, the Crunchy was the best part! Arriving in Paris was otherworldly. Everywhere we went in England felt like my natural home, but Paris was ‘foreign’ in a very special and wonderful way. You must remember that this was the first time I’d ever been anywhere that English wasn’t spoken. It was exciting and scary all at once. My Mary Tyler Moore moment as the fact of actually being in Paris really washed over me: 25-20m by ozisforme, on Flickr Our hotel was the Familia in the Latin Quarter on rue des Ecoles. Family owned, small and charming with a wonderful, welcoming and helpful staff. When the young lady who served us coffee and croissants in the mornings realized that I didn’t like coffee, she brought me (unasked) fabulous hot chocolate every morning. After checking in and hurriedly dumping our luggage we hit the street. We were still ravenous after our train snack, hour long taxi wait at the station and open mouthed drive through Paris so we stopped at the first place that smelled good and bought two quiches to eat as we walked: 25-20k1 by ozisforme, on Flickr A mushroom for Mr. Kim and a Lorraine for me: 25-20k2 by ozisforme, on Flickr Not fabulous, but perfectly good and much better than any street food that we are used to. We took a bus to the Eiffel Tour area. And, as an aside, we found the Paris bus and Metro system incredibly easy to use. Mr. Kim has a little French and I can say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” and recognize lots of menu French, but even so I think that I could have gotten around on my own fairly well, I think. I was raised in Washington DC and that Metro is supposedly based on the Paris one. I think it must be true because I found the maps very familiar. We walked and gawped and grinned for some time. I loved finding the food stores and wished I had a kitchen: 25-33kby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-34kby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-35kby ozisforme, on Flickr And, of course, the bakeries: 25-36kby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-37kby ozisforme, on Flickr Some of the canned goods gave us a bit of a giggle: 25-56k2by ozisforme, on Flickr 25-56k3by ozisforme, on Flickr The food that French people don’t want us to know about! And, dear Lord, the cheese shops: 25-56k4by ozisforme, on Flickr Since we were taking an evening Seine cruise, we had an early dinner at Café Constant: 25-61k9iby ozisforme, on Flickr I’m sorry that I can’t remember who recommended this to us, but thank you! Every single dish was excellent. And the restaurant itself was charming with a nice mix of old and modern: 25-61k9bby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-61k9aby ozisforme, on Flickr We had a nice chat with the waitress and bartender while we were waiting for our table and it turned out that the waitress had worked in NYC for some time. Again, as I noted in my England report, folks on my side of the ocean don’t do near as much traveling as the British and French folks that we met. I started out with Bisque de crustaces aux queues d’ecrevisses a la crème legere: 25-61k9dby ozisforme, on Flickr Creamy shellfish bisque with crayfish tails. Perfect. So light and intensely flavored with the shellfish. Mr. Kim’s starter was Terrine of ‘Kako’, pressed foie gras and pork shin, lentil salad: 25-61k9eby ozisforme, on Flickr No idea what ‘Kako’ is, but this was stellar. Albeit a tad scary looking to a fellow raised on middle class American food, but he bravely tucked in and cleaned his plate! Mr. Kim’s main was duck and potato pie with crispy apples: 25-61k9fby ozisforme, on Flickr Perfect pairing and really good. My main was veal cutlets from the Basque country with white Tarbais beans: 25-61k9gby ozisforme, on Flickr Just gorgeous. Tender and flavorful and the beans were so perfectly cooked firm, tender and each one separate. And that little wedge of lightly grilled romaine on top: 25-61k9hby ozisforme, on Flickr was just astonishing in its simplicity. I’d love to know how that was done. Of course, I couldn’t possibly find such perfect little lettuces in Richmond VA, so I’ll just have to make do with the memory. More than a year later, I can still feel the texture and taste it. The cruise was wonderful. One of those things that seem slightly too touristy before you go, but something that I’d recommend to anyone visiting Paris for the first time. Especially if you only have 2 and a half days there. Since it was an evening cruise, we got to see Paris light up for the night. Breathtaking! After the cruise, we walked along the Seine and took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe and wandered down the Champ-Elysees. I ended up having a head cold for most of the trip (irritating, but not bad) and was hoping to find something like Sudafed. Just down from the Arc is the Pharmacie du Drugstore des Champs-Elysées. The sign indicated that this was an ‘American Drugstore’. Translation is everything. This was NOTHING like an American drugstore. Gorgeous place with little specialty shop-type areas, amazing confections, Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier in the freaking basement. Tres posh. But alas, no Sudafed. At least not that we could find. One of the travel guides that we read said that when in Europe resistance to McDonald’s was futile. That, no matter what we thought ahead of time, no matter how lofty our culinary standards, we’d end up in a McDonald’s. Primarily because of the bathrooms. Once inside, it posited, we’d succumb to the familiar fragrance and the cheap food. Well, we didn’t eat there, but strolling along the Champs-Elysées, we DID need a bathroom and lo and behold there was McD’s. So, we’ve been into a McD’s in Paris. But not even a cup of coffee passed our lips. We felt like we’d passed some arcane test. Cab ride back to the hotel – around the Place de la Concorde, past the Louvre, across the Pont Marie and into the Latin Quarter. To our first view of Paris at night from the balcony of our room: 25-150kby ozisforme, on Flickr Coming up - first full day in Paris and my favorite meal.
  24. A quick report on our seven nights in Paris last month. The highlight was dinner at Taillevent, which I thought was even better than the last time. The tasting menu is a bargain at 140E. A Remoulade de Tourteaux was extraordinary, and was perfect with a Dagueneau Pur Sang Pouilly-Fume. A simple pan cooked rouget with a dab of tapenade was also memorable. In fact everything was excellent. Loss of a star has only made things better from what I can see. Second place went to Dominique Bouchet, where everything was near perfect. Le Clos Des Gourmets was exellent and quite reasonable for the quality of the food. Dinner at Drouant got off to a somewhat shaky start as far as service, but soon all was well. I don't believe M. Clemot was there, so maybe that had something to do with it. We had a very nice dinner at Les Fines Gueules, which I found delightful. We travelled out to Leslie Caron's Auberge La Lucarne aux Chouettes in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne one day for a birthday lunch for a friend. The place was enchanting and the food was quite good. That night we had a light dinner at a cafe. On our other night, we returned to Aux Trois Oliviers, a little place across the narrow street from our apartment, which we had liked two years ago. The food has gone more upscale, and while good, I think I liked it better before. We were all content as we headed out of Paris for the South.
  25. Today I went to Providence to butcher a pig. My train to Providence from New York City was at 7am, but with the spring time-change overnight it made my wake-up time feel like 4:30am. But it was worth it. Many photos were taken, much video was captured, and I'm sure those reports will be rolling in soon. I just had a few impressions of the event (the schedule and details of the day are here) that I wanted to share: First, our hosts Matt Gennuso (the chef of Chez Pascal, where the event took place) and Matt Jennings (of Farmstead and La Laiterie) were incredibly giving of their time, information and meat. Not only did they tirelessly instruct us all day long about all things pork, but also they put out an amazing and abundant lunch spread of cooked and cured items. It was like an entire meal of grilled meats, plus an entire meal of charcuterie, but it was one meal that began at lunchtime, sustained us as we returned to the platters and grazed throughout the day, and still supported plenty of leftovers for folks to take home. Chris (Amirault) and Steve (New England) did an excellent job putting the event together. Thanks guys. Second, I came for the pig but I stayed for the knowledge. Really, the venture to Providence (which requires 3.5 hours of train travel each way for me), would have been worth it just for the detailed Gennuso tutorial on how to butcher a pig into a variety of restaurant-appropriate cuts. But that was only the beginning. After that, Jennings led us through the production of pate, we had our epic lunch, we prepared and salted a leg for prosciutto with Gennuso, we made Toscano salami with Jennings, we made sausage with Gennuso and, before all that, there was a presentation about pork, agriculture and all manner of related issues supported by a nifty full-color booklet that our hosts prepared for the event. Third, it was such a pleasure to be part of this group effort to learn and do. I hope the chefs were as into it as we all were. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, and you're a food-obsessed eGullet Society type, you sometimes feel as though you're the only person in the room who cares deeply about the food -- it seems like everyone else is more interested in the atmospherics of dining out. So it's a real treat to be surrounded by a group where each person comes to the table already dialed in at the maximum enthusiasm setting. Looking forward to some of those photos and, eventually, video.
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