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tammylc

Report: 2008 Heartland Gathering in Chicago

158 posts in this topic

My apologies! I left out the sidedish that was served Sat. night with Ronnie's ribs and Marmish's slaw - potato! Please tell us who made these and the details - i remember yummy, but not much more.

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"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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My apologies!  I left out the sidedish that was served Sat. night with Ronnie's ribs and Marmish's slaw - potato!  Please tell us who made these and the details - i remember yummy, but not much more.

These delectable potatoes were made by elfin.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Clockwise from the far left, there's tammylc (Tammy); two people I recognize but am absolutely blocking out their names (help, again, please); nyokie6 and spouse (Toby and Ron); HeatherM (Heather); someone I don't recognize; and jesteinf and spouse (Josh and Marisa). I'm pretty sure this was the Martinez station.

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The people you are missing are Neil (Amy Viny's husband), Amy Viny, and then me (Santo_Grace). The person next to jesteinf is my guest Steve. Also, judging from the serious look on Marisa's face, I know what she was talking so intently with Tammy about.

Me, too, but I'm not telling... :wink:

Hey, people on here are obsessed with food. My wife just happens to be obsessed with something else :wink:


-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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My apologies!  I left out the sidedish that was served Sat. night with Ronnie's ribs and Marmish's slaw - potato!  Please tell us who made these and the details - i remember yummy, but not much more.

These delectable potatoes were made by elfin.

=R=

How were they made?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Even with all of the time, effort and planning that Ronnie put into the weekend - he still had a few tricks up his sleeve! One of these was including Gary Wiviott of Chicago's lth forum [and his lovely wife ellen] in the festivities. Gary's website. Gary was a fun dining companion, and helped with the meal planning and menus.

And so it came to pass on Friday morning, a stretch Ford Excursion limo drove up to the doubletree hotel in skokie, just for us! A dozen of us would eventually travel together on a whirlwind food tour of Chicago!

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I had known this plot was hatching since October, when ronnie & julie had shown us the town, as depicted here: thread on oct trip. Still, i only knew a few details as friday unfolded - and i was delighted that Gary and our own Fatguy would be joining us.

The only "repeat" from October was the first stop: the original location of the now-franchised Al's Italian Beef.

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Beef & Sausage w/hot & mild peppers, wet

Bob and i wisely brought a sharp knife for this trip, which came in very handy for sharing!

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Since we did the purist experience last time [just beef], we decided to add the sausage this time - heaven on a bun!

our next stop was right across the street:

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Mario's Italian Frozen Lemonade

Again, Bob & I took the purist approach, even though the many flavors offered were tempting, and got our lemonade straight.

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Frozen Lemonade

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Next stop:

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1 of 2 banks of fry stations on either end of the kitchen

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Vienna beef hotdogs in the steamer

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our order - served in an incongruous paper bag

We were told that you never get the same bag twice!

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Hotdog with mustard and fries

Fries were awesome - hotdog ok.

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our order of break tamales

So named because they are small and may appear broken.

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housemade hot sauce

We weren't expecting much from the hot sauce, but we were pleasantly surprised.

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Parking lot mural

Our next destination took an Hispanic turn.

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Gary ordered a feast for us! i am doing this with over a week [and a dislocated shoulder] in the interim, so please speak up to better describe these goodies.

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Cheese chalupas

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Pastor burrito

porky goodness in a fresh tortilla, with 3 dipping sauces on the table for added zip.

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1 of 2 different tortas we sampled

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2d torta

i'm pretty sure one of them was milanesa; don't remember the name of the other. both had crispy pork chop - 1 added cheese, 1 added ham; i think the cheese one also had avocado.

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this one had ham

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Avocado.

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our beverage of choice [empty bottle]

you can see the squeeze bottle of green sauce behind it.

they had a great selection of Mexican sodas [real sugar and not hfcs] and we tasted a specialty beverage - morchata.

Our team of eaters was unable to clean the plates at Cemitas Puebla; how would we ever consume the wares at Honey One BBQ? We brought in a pinch hitter as Jesteinf joined us for this stop.

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ribs, served over fries and under bread, w/bbq sauce on the side

A little dry - but incredibly tasty.

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tips. uhmmmm .....

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Gary and Ronnie had other stops in mind for us - but after we declared 'uncle' after eating just a fraction of the food on table, our hosts resigned themselves to ending the tour. Maybe.

It was 12 year old Lucas who inspired the last stop - you are never too full for ice cream, are you?

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not only is all of the ice cream home-made, but the range of flavors was mind blowing - from jackfruit to birthday cake! hang the knife - we weren't splitting one here!

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bob's - mango

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mine - purple yam

The limo returned us to the hotel, and we had about three hours to digest before dinner. it was an amazing experience - showing up in some of those neighborhoods in that car was worth the trip all by itself! Thanks again to Ronnie & Julie - who's generosity made this day possible. This was a true "play with your food" experience, made all the better by amazing food and wonderful company!


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Hey, people on here are obsessed with food.  My wife just happens to be obsessed with something else  :wink:

And I appreciated her obsession. I'm just sad that we were both to busy recovering the next day to do anything about it!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Karen M - can you talk about what the topping you drizzled on the confit byaldi was? I'm not seeing it in my version of the French Laundry cookbook - is that something you came up with on your own?

Hi Tammy, Just to remind everyone about the movie.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/13/dining/1...gewanted=1&_r=1

Then the recipe..

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/13/dining/131rrex.html

The vinaigrette..........

FOR VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The pictures all look great!!!!

I actually had thyme flowers from my yard.

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The wonderful collection of herbs brought by ?

The herbs were grown and brought by the honorable elfin.

Great pics, Stacey! Thanks for posting them, Kerry.

=R=

Hi - there where more of us who brought in fresh herbs. I placed them in the vases and glasses for all to use. Dill and tarragon from my mom's back yard.

Thai basil and oregano and thyme from mine.

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So while I was doing a few things in the kitchen on Saturday I handed my camera to Stacy - a friend of santo grace - and asked her to take pictures while we prepped and cooked.  I finally had a chance to look through them tonight - and picked out a few to post.  She took some wonderful pictures. 

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Ratatouille.

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One of my pictures from the river architectural tour (thank you Rona for telling us about this).

Stacey was very happy to take pictures.

I think the ratatouille picture is my favorite - probably because it was my favorite dish. Too good for words.

I'm so glad you all did the boat cruise. It is a great way to see Chicago and very relaxing to cruise the river.

Thank -you Julie, that was very nice of you. How was your dishwasher arm the next day??

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And this is how things looked after sampling all four cocktails. That's Ronnie (ronnie_suburban) on the right.

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That's me on the left, and my friend Rachael. She wasn't able to attend any of the other events, but I think she has since signed up on eG.

eta: Luckgirl, thanks for the compliment on the slaw. I loved your beets, too. I am supposed to eat lots of them, so it was nice to have another way to prepare them. Hopefully, we can look you up when we come to Cleveland again. I enjoyed talking with you and your hubby at TVH.


Edited by Marmish (log)

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they had a great selection of Mexican sodas [real sugar and not hfcs] and we tasted a specialty beverage - morchata.

Yum! Horchata, a beverage made from rice, is pretty common in authentic Mexican restaurants around here. I like it a lot; it's like drinking rice pudding, only thinner (obviously) and not quite as sweet or strong in flavor.
Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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Hi - there where more of us who brought in fresh herbs.  I placed them in the vases and glasses for all to use.  Dill and tarragon from my mom's back yard.

Thai basil and oregano and thyme from mine.

Thanks, for the correction, Karen. I should have assumed that more than one person was responsible for providing all those wonderful, fresh herbs. :smile:

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Nice to have two hands to type with again. For now.

MRI revealed a big labrum tear. :sad: Which will probably mean arthroscopic surgery. Bummer. But I had a great time at the Gathering, and fully plan to be there next year!

More photos to come, shortly.


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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More photos to come, shortly.

MRI photos? :shock:

Just kidding. Sorry to hear about it. Of course you have our best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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Ok - someone had to do it!

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Three food geeks (four, if you include me!) taking pictures at the same time! The disembodied hands belong to G Wiv and Edsel; the whole photographer is Ronnie, and his son Lucas and wife Julie are next to him, looking completely bored by all of the photography going on around them. This was the beginning of our Friday dinner at Lao Sze Chuan.


Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Ok - someone had to do it!

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Three food geeks taking pictures at the same time!  The disembodied hands belong to G Wiv and Edsel; the whole photographer is Ronnie, and his son Lucas and wife Julie are next to him, looking completely bored by all of the photography going on around them.  This was the beginning of our Friday dinner at Lao Sze Chuan.

And that certainly got one's taste buds standing at attention. No messing around at this place! IIRC, on the table was Spicy Szechuan Cabbage; Sliced Beef and Maw, Szechuan Style; and something with Pig's Ear.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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Friday evening, our tastebuds were dazzled by the fiery flavors of Szechuan cuisine at Lao Sze Chuan. Bob and I chose our table wisely - since the table next to us had only 4 people, they had a different dinner - and we passed dishes back and forth and got to try a couple of extra things! G Wiv did a marvelous job selecting a broad range of items for us to taste.

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The table next to us

Every table was set with three cold dishes, two of which were from the "very Chinese" portion of the menu:

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Sliced Beef and Maw Szechuan Style

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Pig Ear Szechuan Style

The third item is always presented as a complimentary starter at Lao Sze Chuan - Szechuan pickled cabbage.

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The hot dishes began to flow from the kitchen - and they were hot!

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Szechuan Wonton

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Tony's Chicken with three Chili a/k/a "Chicken Crack"

This is truly irresistible!

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Crispy Shrimp in Mayonnaise Sauce

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Ma Po Tofu

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Prawns with Chili

I'm not sure which menu item this was - but it was delightful. Both shrimp dishes passed my inspection - and had no off smells, tastes or textures (which frozen shrimp often has).

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I am guessing that this lamb dish was "Lamb with Pure Cumin Powder Xin Jang Style"

It was very spicy and had a slight touch of curry flavor.

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Stir-Fried Sliced Potato with Fresh Chilli

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My guess is that this dish was "Sauteed baby Bai Cai"

A welcome compliment to the spicy dishes that preceded it.

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It was about this time in the meal that our "neighbors" began to pass us some of their things - including this bun:

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Steamed Dumpling with Pork

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Don't know which fish dish this was - but it was delicious!

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At this point in the dinner, we were supposed to have "Famous Dong-Po Steamed Pork Elbow" - but the restaurant did not have enough of them. Since a few people were clamoring for relief from the heat - this dish was ordered in its place:

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Noodle Pancake with Beef

This was the only dish I didn't care for - it had a tinny taste that I just couldn't get past. Oh well.

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I am hoping someone can identify these vegetables - which were a nice change of pace from the heavier dishes that preceded them.

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Another donation from the next table:

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This was one of the best things I tasted all night! Gary said it was Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, but it tasted like Chilli Egg-Plant to me. Two bites and I was done. Wo bao le (I am full).

It was fun watching other tables nearby. The couple here is enjoying hua goa or Hotpot.

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Raw goodies are served, and a pot of boiling stock (Lovers Chafing Base, Consome Chafing Base or Hot Spicy Base) and dipping sauce are also brought to the table.

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The goodie plate here includes softened bean curd stick, tofu cubes, prawns, noodles and carrots. A small wire basket is used to lower the chosen morsels into the stock to cook - it's Chinese fondue (eat your heart out, Melting Pot!). Once all of the goodies are cooked and eaten, you add the noodles to cook, and then finish the contents of the hotpot as a bowl of noodle soup, which contains all of the wonderful flavors from everything that was just cooked in the stock.

Since we have no Szechuan restaurant in Cleveland, this was an especially enjoyable dinner for us - the flavors were bold and the quality top notch! Thanks to Ronnie, and especially to Gary, for putting this together for us!


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Nancy, thank you for posting that great report! And I'll add my wishes for a speedy, as painless as possible recovery.

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thanks for the lovely pictures Nancy.

Tony's chicken and Ma Po Tofu with 2$ pork were my two favorites.

Do you think they would deliver to Okla? :raz:

We asked about the greens and our waiter told us Chinese Broccoli-we discussed that it was different tasting from what we were all used to with Dim Sum, perhaps Gary can confirm or correct this.

So sorry to hear about your shoulder.

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thanks for the lovely pictures Nancy.

Tony's chicken and Ma Po Tofu with 2$ pork were my two favorites.

Mine, too, by far. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by a surprising number of dishes.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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The greens pictured are called potherb. I was actually back at LSC last Friday and tried to order this dish. Our waitress reluctantly allowed me to do so. I'm not sure why she was so taken aback by my order, there are far stranger things on the menu there.

Also, the $2 pork is key to the Ma Po Tofu. We had it without pork on Friday night and it just wasn't the same dish.

Also, the prawns with chili are on the menu as "Dry Chili Prawns". That's one of my favorites at LSC. They're everything that salt and pepper prawns wish they could be. The fish dish is called something along the lines of "spicy fish". I can't remember the full name.


-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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Fresser has started a new thread here showing images from the Ethnic Food Tour. But I'm going to put my Saturday lunch pictures in this thread.

We weren't even that hungry when we made our last stop at Himalayan Restaurant, because we'd been noshing all day! The facade promised Indian and Nepali food. LAZ and her husband chose well!

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Our group of about 15 people descended on the buffet! Normally, I'm not a big fan of buffets - but Indian food seems to lend itself to continued stewing, so it works. The food was actually very good.

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The buffet begins with a salad and sauces.

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Chickpea Fritters

These were intended to accompany the soup; they were light and crunchy.

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Fried Potato Slices (Pakora)

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Lentil Soup

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Basmati Rice

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Sweet Spiced Rice

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Chana Masala (Chickpeas w/North Indian Spices)

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Aloo Mutter (Peas and Potatoes in Gravy)

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Paneer Masala (Indian Cheese in Gravy)

Sorry for the blur - I ran out of battery juice while trying to photograph this, and by the time I changed them and returned - the buffet line was a lot more crowded! Like Fresser, I rate this as one of my favorite dishes on the buffet.

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Cabbage Masala

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Tandoori Chicken

The only dish I tasted that wasn't very good.

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Chicken Makhani

On the other hand, this dish of chicken pieces in spicy sauce was lipsmackingly good!

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Khasi Ko Masi (Goat Meat in Typical Nepali Village Style, with Local Herbs and Spices)

This was my second favorite, after the Paneer.

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My cup of soup

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Bread Service

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My plate

I was too stuffed to try the desserts, though they did look good:

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Gulab Jamun

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Fruit Custard

We headed back to Evanston with full stomachs, ready to start cooking! Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. LAZ for organizing this fun and productive tour, and especially this tasty lunch!


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Here's one of the four different "cocktail stations" at The Violet Hour. The ones we sampled -- all gin-based -- were Juliet & Romeo, Aviation, Martinez (precursor of the Martini), and something I can't remember (help, please). The Juliet & Romeo was by far my favorite. It recently was named one of the 20 best cocktails in America by GQ (#3 on the slide show). Toby (Alchemist) posted the recipe here on LTH, although I believe he used Hendrick's gin at TVH instead of the Beefeater specified in the recipe.

Groups rotated through the stations, and Toby would stop by for an instructional session on how and why each cocktail was constructed. For example, if I remember correctly (someone correct me on this, if needed), when we sampled the J & R, we started with just the main liquids, then in succession added the mint leaf, bitters, and rose water.

Clockwise from the far left, there's tammylc (Tammy); two people I recognize but am absolutely blocking out their names (help, again, please); nyokie6 and spouse (Toby and Ron); HeatherM (Heather); someone I don't recognize; and jesteinf and spouse (Josh and Marisa). I'm pretty sure this was the Martinez station.

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And this is how things looked after sampling all four cocktails. That's Ronnie (ronnie_suburban) on the right.

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I just back from a couple weeks in Nashville and Budapest and am trying to remember further back from those memories, so I may be incorrect, but I belive that the fourth cocktail was the Rivera (pineapple infused Campari, gin and Maraschino).

Toby


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I just back from a couple weeks in Nashville and Budapest and am trying to remember further back from those memories, so I may be incorrect, but I belive that the fourth cocktail was the Rivera (pineapple infused Campari, gin and Maraschino).

Toby

Yes, that's it. It was the only one I didn't try. Darn, I have to go back to The Violet Hour. :raz: Oh well, it's a rough life, but someone's gotta drink it.

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Als Italian Beef. A little bit of heaven...

Sure do wish I was there!

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      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.
    • By Kerry Beal
      And so it begins...
       
      I arrived in Las Vegas at 10:30 or so this morning, picked up my rental car and hastened over the the Tuscany Suites to meet up with Chocolot.  After a brief cruise through all the loot that she had accumulated for the workshop we headed out to do a few errands.  We checked in with Melissa and Jean Marie to check that all was well for later in the week and to enjoy a little look around the facility.  I also had to deliver several bottles of wonderful looking paté that Alleguede had made for Jean Marie (I kept one bottle here for snacking purposes this week).  There was serious drooling going on over all the equipment they have available for us to play with.
       
      What was to be a quick stop at Chef Rubber took a little longer than expected - there is a lot to look at there!  And to buy!
       
      We investigated a couple of thrift stores - notably the Habitat for Humanity Reuse to grab a couple of items that will show their usefulness later this week.
       
      And for dinner we hit Lotus of Siam.  We know that we are going back there this week - but it is a place I've wanted to check out since FG wrote about it a few years ago.  And you can never eat too much Thai can you?
       

       
      Jasmine tea for me.  
       

       
      Chicken larb.
       

       

       
      Khao soi - noodles with a red thai sauce.  And the condiments to go with them - some sort of pickled green (perhaps mustard), onion and of course lime.  
       

       
      Pepper garlic shrimp - didn't see a table without this one!
       

       
      And fried rice with veg and egg. 
       
      Right now Ruth is cruising the internet reviews to see what we should order when we return there on Thursday.  
    • By Bu Pun Su
      French food is my favorite cuisine and l’Arpege is my favorite restaurant. Currently, entering the 4th year that I haven’t returned to l’Arpege (Since ’06, I usually make an effort to go there at least once every 2 years). At the very least I had a chance to savor Alain Passard’s cuisine in late ’12 when he became a guest Chef at Beaufort hotel Sentosa – the most memorable part was when Alain personally cooked 2 Brittany lobsters for me. Fortunately, Singapore has a restaurant owned and run by Passard’s apprentice & his former sous chef, Gunther Hubrechsen. Therefore, whenever I crave for (home-style) French cooking that’s light, delicate and delicious, I often come here. Similar to my Les Amis’ experience, I’ve actually been here about 4 times since 2008 but never wrote a (serious) review even once. As a matter of fact, Gunther’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore
      I had dinner at Gunther’s in the same week as my meal at Les Amis. On purpose, I ordered carte-blanche here with similar budget to the Les Amis’ degustation menu. I wondered how these 2 elite gastronomy restaurants (cooking nouvelle cuisine without any molecular element) would fare against each other. A short comparison in a glance,
      Les Amis = 7 courses including one dessert. 2 courses with caviar and 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, lobster and wagyu beef
      Gunther’s = 8 courses with a dessert. 1 dish with caviar and also 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, gambas and wagyu beef
      Anyway, I ate and enjoyed very much the following stuffs at Gunther’s (my top 3 dishes):
      1st: cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar - the restaurant’s most well-known dish and Chef Hubrechsen should be proud of it. It’s the 3rd time I savor this dish; it’s still very delicious – the flavor, the smells, the texture and all other elements were spot on. High degree of consistency...
      5th: carabinero gambas with tomato rice – given how far Spain from Singapore is, the kitchen did a good job in preparing this prawn. I tasted the gambas’ freshness and sweet flavor; it’s well-seasoned too. The Japanese rice cooked with the prawn’s stock and tomato was pleasant except I prefer rice with firmer texture (like in risotto or paella)
      6th: grilled scallop with black truffle – the main highlight of my meal. The Hokkaido scallop was juicy and tender though not as tasty as the one I had at Les Amis. However, it’s well-enhanced by the sublime and sweet caramelized onion below as well as the pungent winter truffle aroma and flavor on top of it. I liked the onion very much here – a good example how Gunther brought out the essence of its ingredient; possibly the closest one (in terms of ‘deliciousness’) to the Passard’s perfect onion gratin with parmesan that looks deceptively simple
      What makes Gunther’s special is that the talented Belgian chef-owner is capable of generating many different kind of ‘unassuming’ dishes and elevating them to higher level using no more than 3 fresh produce on each plate. It seems modest at times, but actually quite sophisticated. Let me describe a few more dishes I had,
      4th: roasted garlic with onion essence – if I had to pick one dish I like the least, it’s probably the one. The roasted garlic had smooth texture and good smell, well-integrated with mascarpone sauce. However, I found the (garlic) portion was too big. After consuming 2/3 of them, I just swallowed the rest (almost no chewing) so that I wouldn’t be too stuffed and/or dilute my palate for the next dishes
      7th: Char grilled wagyu beef in bordelaise sauce – this was the main course served in a nice portion with a right amount of “fat”. Delicate Japanese beef was generally a safe choice; the chef didn’t do too much and just allowed the natural flavor of high quality wagyu to shine. The sauce and the grilled corn were precisely executed. Nothing wow but it’s hard not to like Japanese beef J
      8th: Truffle parfait – dessert. It’s a soft and light vanilla ice cream served with rich chocolate brownie and topped with aromatic smell induced by the Perigord truffle (having slight peppery taste). I hardly eat dessert with truffle in it. This one was sweet and rather delicious
      There were a couple more dishes I had and you can see/read them on the picture link below. For the meal, I drank 2 glasses of wine. The first glass was 2010 Vincent girardin chassagne-Montrachet; it’s rich and creamy with buttery aromas. The second one was 2009 Black quail Pinot noir; it’s medium bodied with dark berries delicate fragrance and dry finish in slight acidity – a quite refined pinot noir that surprisingly went along nicely with my scallop dish (of course, better with the beef). Oh before I forget, this place only offers one type of bread and butter – to be exact warm mini baguette and salted butter served at room temperature – simple but good; I ate 3 baguettes if not mistaken. The meal ended with a petit four consisting of a green tea macaron and canele – both were fine.
      It was a quiet evening, about half of the restaurant’s capacity was filled. Probably most people were still busy to attend reunion dinner with their friends and colleagues. The dining room decoration was minimalist dominated by dark grey color for the walls (some paintings were hung on them) and medium lighting. This way guests would not feel overwhelmed and the food took center stage. The staffs were polite and helpful without being intrusive. Besides the sommelier, one friendly “Indian” maitre d’ and the greeter, most of restaurants’ FOH staffs were relatively new. Chef Hubrechsen, usually visiting the dining room to greet guests, explained that the staffs turnover at Singapore restaurants were still very high; he even did not have any permanent sous chef assisting him in the kitchen. So the good thing is that it’s almost guaranteed Gunther himself would always be in the kitchen daily to ensure food quality.
      I gave my overall meal experience at Gunther’s nearly 94 pts (a good 2 ¼* by Michelin standard) and it meant about the same level as Shinji by Kanesaka Singapore and Eric Frechon’s Le Bristol, seriously. Another lovely meal, and overall it ranked as the most memorable one I’ve ever had here. Well, there was no bad meal experience at Gunther’s. Hope I can return again sometimes next year, even better if not on my own expenses. Lastly, I prefer this place over Les Amis by a small margin. Check here for pictures, https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GuntherSRestaurantSingapore#
    • By Kerry Beal
      Today we started out with a trip to the college to start getting ourselves set up for tomorrow. Then at 10 am we met at ChocolateFX and started our tour. Of course hair nets are obligatory if you are going to go into a food manufacturing facility!

      Wilma and Art had the small pan set up so that we could pan some raisins.

      Here's Pat (psantucc), with beard appropriately netted, applying some chocolate to the raisins.

      Ava (FrogPrincesse's little one) preparing to add more chocolate, Kyle helping and FrogPrincesse awaiting her turn.

      The fancy packing machine.

      Listening with rapt attention to Wilma explaining the making of ganache truffles in the round silicone molds.
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