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Charlie Trotter's


adrober
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I can never tell which knife to use when I'm at a formal streetfight?

I always recommend a curved butcher's scimitar. Its menacing shape and size seem to have a discouraging effect on potential opponents. My one experience yanking one out of my kit (against multiple aggressors) ended in a grudging--but injury-free--detente. Sometimes it's good to be a chef. You can carry knives everywhere.

We're currently accepting applications for Secretary of Defense.

In your application, please indicate your level of familiarity with Leo Strauss.

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I can never tell which knife to use when I'm at a formal streetfight?

I always recommend a curved butcher's scimitar. Its menacing shape and size seem to have a discouraging effect on potential opponents. My one experience yanking one out of my kit (against multiple aggressors) ended in a grudging--but injury-free--detente. Sometimes it's good to be a chef. You can carry knives everywhere.

I remember watching the butchers in the North End of Boston -- in the early 80's probably the greatest concentration of old-school butchers on the North American continent outside of the West Village -- whip those long, curved knives out to perform the most astoundingly delicate work on the whole spectrum of meats. I expect that with the proper training, a scimitar ,and a good boning knife, a third-generation Italian butcher could cut your nuts off in a streetfight or perform a liver transplant with an aplomb that would make a thoractic surgeon envious.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I can never tell which knife to use when I'm at a formal streetfight?

I always recommend a curved butcher's scimitar. Its menacing shape and size seem to have a discouraging effect on potential opponents. My one experience yanking one out of my kit (against multiple aggressors) ended in a grudging--but injury-free--detente. Sometimes it's good to be a chef. You can carry knives everywhere.

I remember watching the butchers in the North End of Boston -- in the early 80's probably the greatest concentration of old-school butchers on the North American continent outside of the West Village -- whip those long, curved knives out to perform the most astoundingly delicate work on the whole spectrum of meats. I expect that with the proper training, a scimitar ,and a good boning knife, a third-generation Italian butcher could cut your nuts off in a streetfight or perform a liver transplant with an aplomb that would make a thoractic surgeon envious.

You're nominating Bill the Butcher for Secretary of Defense?

Edited by MatthewB (log)
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I can never tell which knife to use when I'm at a formal streetfight?

I always recommend a curved butcher's scimitar. Its menacing shape and size seem to have a discouraging effect on potential opponents. My one experience yanking one out of my kit (against multiple aggressors) ended in a grudging--but injury-free--detente. Sometimes it's good to be a chef. You can carry knives everywhere.

I remember watching the butchers in the North End of Boston -- in the early 80's probably the greatest concentration of old-school butchers on the North American continent outside of the West Village -- whip those long, curved knives out to perform the most astoundingly delicate work on the whole spectrum of meats. I expect that with the proper training, a scimitar ,and a good boning knife, a third-generation Italian butcher could cut your nuts off in a streetfight or perform a liver transplant with an aplomb that would make a thoractic surgeon envious.

You're nominating Bill the Butcher for Secretary of Defense?

Whatever it takes to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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  • 2 months later...

I first ate at CT's about 9 years ago, and have eaten there multiple times per year every year since.

There has been a slow, steady, and palpable decline in the food, service, and level of excitement in the restaurant. Maybe it's just that, hey, they have been doing this style of food for more than a decade.... CT isn't there much, is rich, middle aged, and doesn't have the fire anymore. It wasn't old hat after the first 10 times, but now, I have to tell you, I get invited and decline the free meal....

Exciting cuisine is all around... NYC, Japan, Spain, Italy, and right here in the heartland at Trio is the best synthesis of all of that that I have seen.... Trotters was very influential... I think it is past its prime. I would be very surprised to see it last another 3 years.

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adrober, I don't know if you're still reading, but I'd make a few points.

1. It takes a certain bravery to expose your naive and uneducated self to the richly deserved whackings you've gotten in this thread.

2. If you're looking for value Trotter's isn't the place to go. The place is about spending that extra $200 or more per person for that tiny increment of "quality." There's only one question to ask of Trotter's: Was it as good as it possibly could have been? You want value? Go to Outback Steakhouse.

3. Yes, you're too young. The way to appreciate Trotter's is by comparison to other places; it's a place for people who have eaten at scores of other restaurants and have an eye for very fine distinctions. You hit Trotter's too soon in your dining career.

4. You were looking for insults, disappointments and a reasons to feel ripped off. By telling me that it wasn't "worth it," you've told me nothing. If the waiter snubbed you -- although I think most of those snubs occurred in your imagination -- it seems to have been with good reason. You were begging for it. You all but taped a "Snub Me" sign to your forehead.

CONCLUSION: If you were to tell me your meal was a slapdash affair; the food unimaginative; the waiter disengaged, rude or haphazard -- then I'd care. But it was too expensive? So what?

Edited by Wilson (log)
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  • 1 month later...
Better stick with restaurant reviews. I think your chances as a playwright are a bit too long.

I found out today that I got into the Tisch School of Playwriting. Just thought I'd share :)

Congrats Adam...that's wonderful news. :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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I've also had a friend who smoked weed in Charlie Trotter's bathroom, so they aren't watching you that close.

:wub: My newest hero! :wub:

=R=

Word!

I had forgotten how nasty/funny this thread was. Congratulations adrober. :smile:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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  • 3 weeks later...
2. If you're looking for value Trotter's isn't the place to go... You want value? Go to Outback Steakhouse.

Perhaps it's a matter of semantics, but I couldn't disagree more. Value is all we have as consumers, which I measure as the right amount of money spent for the experience. I've gleefully dropped hundreds and pissed and moaned about $1.50 -the only thing I require is that I leave the table saying "it was worth it." Apparently, for Adam, it wasn't worth it. And I don't condemn him for the evaluation.

Paul

Edited to add: Adam, a belated congratulations on getting into Tisch, not an easy thing to do. I wish you many years of good work ahead.

Edited by paul o' vendange (log)

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Don't know how, but my mom managed to get us a reservation at Per Se this Saturday night.  After my Charlie Trotter debacle, will my palate be ready to face the music and dance?  Stay tuned.

:biggrin:

I can hardly wait...

:biggrin:

=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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I am going to predict a better experience. I haven't been to Trotters, but based on having been to French Laundry, the service there was far from overbearing and intimidating. I would expect that the same will hold true at Per Se. Although this is essentially the second "opening" night at Per Se.

Now whether that will translate in your account - we shall see.

Bill Russell

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You know, I might not be as analytical as everyone at this point but I keep thinking one thought

as I read through this topic after all this time. Ferris Bueller. The famous lunch scene, however

his scenario ended quite pleasantly. a hui ho. :cool:

"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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  • 2 months later...

On PBS on Saturday, saw a 30 minute program by Charlie Trotter on a celebration in his restaurant of a chef from France. Since this program was the first I ever heard of Charlie Trotter, I came to this thread to learn more. eGullet comes through again: There is a lot here on Trotter.

On the PBS program, Trotter essentially reproduced a dish in a book by the chef from France. Here is how it went: He made a vinaigrette of vinegar, soy sauce, oil, and a few other fairly standard ingredients. He tasted it and added more oil; no wonder: He mixed the vinaigrette just by dumping and clearly had more vinegar than the standard 1:3 ratio of vinegar to oil.

He steamed some clams.

As a step in 'spontaneous creativity' emulating the French chef, he added some minced steamed clams to the vinaigrette.

In a skillet, he browned some scallops lightly on both sides.

He took some strange stiff greens and added some vinaigrette.

With a large white plate, he put maybe one square inch of greens in the center and arranged about four scallops mostly on top of the greens. He put a few pieces of clam meat and some clam shells and a few pieces leek around the outside.

As decorative garnish, he added some stalks of chives to the center.

This thread described some of the dishes at his restaurant.

From the program and this thread, it is clear that a dinner at CT is a special 'experience'. Okay.

Here I question what Trotter is doing. I'm not criticizing, I am questioning. I'm not asserting; I'm asking. I'm not trying to put down Trotter's efforts; I'm asking others to provide reasoned support. My goal is to better understand Trotter's direction in cooking. I'm skeptical but eager to learn.

I do come with some positions: I don't like raw fish or raw meats. I don't like fois gras or caviar. I can like the flavor of truffles, but I am offended by the prices and believe that terrific flavors should be available from other much less expensive means. I welcome things that are better and, thus, necessarily new, but I don't value newness for its own sake. I hate fads, pretense, and elitism. I can like top quality table settings and room decorations and even like some 'total dining experience' but, really, want to concentrate on the food itself -- I would want the food to be good even if taken out on paper plates and eaten in the car. I do like classic cooking from France, Italy, and Germany. I believe that browning, stocks, reductions, butter, cream, salt, acid, aromatics, etc. have yielded some of the best tasting dishes ever. While ingredients of very high quality from careful attention to variety, cultivation, and handling are a great help, I rarely find that such ingredients alone or nearly so make terrific food. That is, I don't find a slice of a fresh tomato as good as a good tomato sauce with olive oil, garlic, onion, parsley, etc., even from canned tomatoes. Generally I thought that nouvelle cuisine was not good. I'm not big on subtlety: Yes, there are some dishes with very carefully balanced subtle flavors, and the effort required is amazing. But, being amazed is not my main interest. Instead, to me a good dish really lights up the neurons, and subtly is a really sweet, pretty, darling, adorable six year old girl in a floral pastel print dress outlined with satin ribbons at bat in the World Series -- doesn't work.

I like three wines: Red that is dry and has a lot of flavor -- e.g., Cote d'Or, Barolo, Chianti, Haut Medoc. White that is dry, crisp, and clean -- e.g., Macon -- to go with a light seafood dish while I'm waiting on the main course with red wine. And sweet wine for dessert. Missing a good sweet dessert wine, I'll just take a Coca-Cola -- been there, done that.

For a good meal, mostly I want one really good course and, then, a good dessert. I am willing to entertain a bowl of soup, a slice of pate, or a light seafood dish while the kitchen gets the main dish ready, hopefully beef or game with a red wine from the Cote d'Or. Good to have French bread and sour cream butter on the table. Okay to have some simple greens, I recognize, and none of the greens bitter or tough, with a simple vinaigrette, no soy sauce, no Balsamic vinegar, no EVOO, while the waiters cut some slices of strong cheese, e.g., Basque Chiberta, to go with the rest of the red wine.

Other than some such classic bistro meal, it's easy enough to like (1) a Maryland seafood house where they bring a large basket of deep fried scallops, a large basket of deep fried strongly flavored hushpuppies, along with plenty of coleslaw, lemon, butter, and beer, (2) a Maryland seafood bar where they bring a huge plate covered with a huge broiled flounder along with a lot of lemon, coleslaw, French fries, bread, butter, and beer, (3) a Maryland seafood house where they bring steamed lobster and lots of lemon butter or lots of scallops sauteed with shallots, garlic, butter, oil, and white wine, (4) a really simple Memphis BBQ joint with chopped pork shoulder BBQ on a white bread bun with hot sauce, BBQ beans, and coleslaw washed down the cold beer and followed by chocolate ice box pie and Coca-Cola, (5) a huge thick Porterhouse steak cooked with lots of black pepper over charcoal in Shenandoah with potatoes baked by being wrapped in foil and placed on the coals and then served with sour cream and chives, maybe some cold three bean salad, washed down with red wine or beer, (6) an Italian restaurant with a red and white checkered tablecloth, some just terrific red sauce lasagna, and a good Chianti.

For dessert, I want it good: This means at least as good as my family's apple pie or strawberry shortcake. I have had coconut cream pie better than the desserts in many high end restaurants.

In food, I don't value 3D food 'art and architecture': I don't want to admire, paint, or photograph a framed artistic 'still life'; instead, if it's good, then I want to eat it; else, let the dishwashers do their work.

Here are some questions about Trotter's directions:

First, I don't think I would like the scallop dish he did on TV. Sure, this dish was in homage of another chef, but it looked to me like a waste of some really terrific clams and scallops. The problem was, there just couldn't have been nearly enough flavor there. That there were some beautiful quality raw scallops quickly browned and some clams just steamed and very little else just is not enough in flavor. Sorry, but I would very much prefer any decent version of any of the traditional good ways to cook scallops, including deep frying in a Maryland seafood house. My personal favorite is poaching in fish stock, white wine, shallots, and mushrooms and served with a sauce from the reduced poaching liquid, cream, egg yolks, and lemon.

Where am I wrong here? Why have a dish with terrific quality scallops and clams served with nearly no flavor?

For the vinaigrette and greens, mostly I would just move them to one side. In particular, should I taste the vinaigrette, then I would believe that the vinegar would threaten to conflict with any white wine 'paring' I would try with that dish.

Why am I wrong here? How the heck are we to get a white wine paring with a dish with noticeable vinegar?

I might like some Chinese sweet-sour scallop dish, but I can't discuss such a possibility because, while I often like Chinese cooking, I flatly don't understand it at all.

To me, Trotter's track record at scallop cooking has started off poorly. Otherwise from his cooking, I hear about strange combinations of weird ingredients.

I ask, for Trotter's other scallop and seafood dishes, the ones he serves in his restaurant, are they any good? Or are they just 'different'?

Second, if I were in Trotter's restaurant and he brought me a plate with five or fewer scallops, then I would be torqued that I had to wait on such a small portion and have one of two reactions: If the scallops were poorly done, then they would go back to the kitchen and I would demand a course with a big serving of beef or game ASAP. If the scallops were good, then I would ask for six more servings ASAP, a big fork, some cold beer, some French bread, combine all seven servings on one of the huge plates, dig in, using the French bread to soak up the sauce, and say get the salad and dessert ready and forget the rest. Waiting for the other six servings, I would be lusting for the big basket of fried scallops in a Maryland seafood house -- brought all at once, right at first, ASAP.

If the dish is good, then let's eat it and call it the main dish in a good meal. If it's not good, then let's get a dish that is good.

I am eager for the chef to hit one over the fences, but the idea of 12, 15, or 20 swings at the 'plate' to do so seems like the chef needs some batting practice or someone to show him where the fences are.

I have another issue: To me, the worst time in a restaurant is between seating and the arrival of the first food. I'm hungry and forced just to sit there. It makes me want to pick up a cell phone and call for a pizza delivery, to my table!

After that initial torture, the worst times are between the courses where I have to 'synchronize' my eating with the 'supply chain' of the chefs, waiters, and path to my table. Agony.

I doubt I would really like many of those strange combinations of weird ingredients, and all the waiting, especially through a course that I didn't like, would be torture. Instead, if the restaurant is any good at all and I order Coq au Vin, roasted chicken with morel mushroom sauce, fried scallops, charcoal broiled Porterhouse, steamed lobster, BBQ ribs, or lasagna with tomato sauce, then I know that the dish will at least be okay.

At CT, behind the curtains, do the waiters keep some barf buckets handy? If they brought me something raw or I found some caviar in the bottom of a soup bowl or a quail's egg, I'd likely need the barf bucket.

So, I ask, what's all this stuff with so many courses, with so much waiting, for tiny portions of strange combinations of weird ingredients, with risk of the barf bucket, instead of just a good quantity of a good main dish?

Lessons I draw from decades of eating are that food can be terrific but does not have to be astoundingly expensive and spending a lot more risks food that is much worse, not better. Am I the only one drawing this conclusion?

Is Trotter really going in a better direction, or just a different one?

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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So, I ask, what's all this stuff with so many courses, with so much waiting, for tiny portions of strange combinations of weird ingredients, with risk of the barf bucket, instead of just a good quantity of a good main dish?

Lessons I draw from decades of eating are that food can be terrific but does not have to be astoundingly expensive and spending a lot more risks food that is much worse, not better. Am I the only one drawing this conclusion?

Is Trotter really going in a better direction, or just a different one?

Different strokes for different folks.

I quite like many courses and combinations of weird ingredients. Caviar and quail eggs would elicit cries of joy from me, not a call for a barf bucket.

"Better" is in the eye of the beholder. You know what you like. You can get what you like in plenty of great restaurants. Eat at those, and leave the multi-course tasting menu restaurants for those of us that appreciate them.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Project, I am sorry my friend but just " GET IT", my best dining experiences ever have come from there, and I am an industry professional. Hope I did not hurt your feelings. Besides, if you dont get Chef Trotter's food, how would you get Chef G's food or Chef Omar's.

Edited by M65 (log)

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux

makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin

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tammylc:

"Different strokes for different folks.

I quite like many courses and combinations of weird ingredients. Caviar and quail eggs would elicit cries of joy from me, not a call for a barf bucket.

'Better' is in the eye of the beholder. You know what you like. You can get what you like in plenty of great restaurants. Eat at those, and leave the multi-course tasting menu restaurants for those of us that appreciate them."

Yeh, mostly I do know what I like! That's one of the pros/cons of many cases of been there, done that! On my list of really good KFC FLG items (where KFC doesn't make it!), I haven't added anything in a long time! But, Trotter is trying hard to be new; there is no question he is working really hard; and I'm wondering if what he has is really better. So far, I'm guessing that too often, I wouldn't like his results.

Soooooo, it's a "multi-course tasting menu" restaurant. Right away, I see lots of time waiting between courses, some courses where I wouldn't like the food, and other courses where I did like the food but didn't like the tiny portions.

For 'tasting', once at Harrald's (about 60 miles north of Wall Street), at least 14 years of five stars from Mobil, Harrald brought me an 'experiment' from someone in his kitchen. It was quail in pieces roasted with oriental flavors, likely soy sauce, etc.

Harrald asked for my opinion: I said that it was good but not up to the main items he served. Although the work was clearly done with great care, and although there was a lot of flavor, still, the dish, as a whole, seemed too dry. E.g., there was no KFC FLG sauce with cream! And, just as an oriental dish, the flavors were not exceptional; commonly good Chinese chefs do better (although I don't have a clue how they do it).

Here on eG I did just see the link to

"Bresse Chicken Fricassee with Garlic Cloves and Foie Gras

Georges Blanc's Recipe on The Worldwide Goumet"

While I'm no fan of 'foie gras', what Blanc has there sounds better to me than some novel 'oriental fusion' quail or the strange combinations this thread describes for CT because Blanc has aromatic vegetables, a reduction, some white wine and/or consomme, and some heavy cream. Also Blanc pays careful attention to getting a moist result.

If I were at a tasting menu restaurant and they brought the quail dish, then it would be a step down but not the barf bucket.

But, quail eggs or caviar in the bottom of the soup -- good chance of my losing all the earlier courses.

Soooooooo, for me, lots of courses with lots of 'novelty' increases the chances of some really disappointing courses.

One really bad course could seriously ruin the dinner for me.

So, you essentially always like, at least enough, all the different items, like the novelty, like, and don't barf, at unusual ingredients such as quail eggs or surprise caviar in the soup, and don't mind the time between courses? Gee ....

M65:

"I am sorry my friend but just ' GET IT', my best dining experiences ever have come from there, and I am an industry professional. Hope I did not hurt any feelings."

Naw, no hurt: It's certain that some people do very much 'get it'. And there's no joke that Trotter is working hard. I knew these points before I posted.

I am having a tough time 'getting it'; that's why I posted. In those famous words from Iowa, I'm "reticent, yes, I'm reticent".

I was wondering mostly just about the food itself.

At least from tammylc, it is clear that some people would really like quail eggs and caviar. Not I, but okay.

On the PBS show, I was disappointed in the way Trotter mixed his vinaigrette -- looked like he should borrow the bottle I got with Good Seasons salad dressing mixes so that he could use the little horizontal lines to get the proportions of vinegar, water, and oil correct "each and every time"!

Sure, from this thread, it's easy to see that Trotter has worked hard to create an 'experience'. There are many ways to do that: I used to go to the Rive Gauche at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street in Georgetown, DC, and there the owner worked hard to have all the customers feel like European royalty with lots of severe discipline in the room, with several 'classes' of staff, some that could never speak or even communicate at all and could only do very limited tasks in precisely specified well practiced very stilted ways, up to people that spoke to the customers, only gestured, never spoke (like the supervisor at the Baccarat table in 'Golden Eye') to the lower staff, and never touched anything on the tables, a hostess that insisted on being the maintainer of a social pecking order in all of Washington, DC, and an owner that just observed. Harrald's had an 'experience' of a rustic country inn, where some of the customers might imagine they would go for a romantic interlude. 'La Cote Basque' in NYC, which had been Soule's place after the Fair, had bright lights so that everyone could be seen by everyone else and staff that worked with great speed as if they were serving impatient business people. Lutece had their white painted diagonal wooden lattice work as something of a New York City desperate attempt to make their half flight down basement location suggest a patio surrounded by a garden while the space was crowded, the lights were bright, the staff worked very quickly, saying nearly nothing, and Soltner came out, a little tired but friendly and without pretense, to greet people.

Clearly at CT, before the dinner is over, the customer has had a few thousand dollars of plates, stemware, and flatware placed in front, some expert very attentive staff, etc. There are various ways to create 'experiences'.

Mostly I was wondering about the food itself.

But, so far, I don't 'get it'.

I guess that the first gap I would have to cross would be the idea of a 'tasting menu' restaurant.

I do like the idea of a big round table with eight people and 20 dishes at a Chinese restaurant. So, here is a really big 'tasting menu'. But, the dishes are commonly brought all at once so that there is no waiting between courses and no delay for a dish that doesn't seem, look, smell, or taste good. Also there isn't the problem of trying to find a dozen or so wine 'parings' -- and I would have a tough time paring at all with a dish with prominent vinegar such as the scallop dish Trotter did on TV.

For weird ingredients, no one can compare with the Chinese, but the Chinese have some of the most tested traditions -- even though they are nearly never written down clearly enough for me to understand them!

Good to learn that serious knowledgeable people can like CT, and that is a stake in the ground. I haven't been with 100 miles of Chicago for years and don't plan to be near there soon. So, starting with the stake in the ground and this thread, I'll try to see WHY people would like such a restaurant. If I had been the 'venture' investor, I would have taken a 'pass', so CTs is a good lesson on the challenge of evaluating 'ventures'!

Early in the planning of FedEx, some of us went to a good restaurant in DC. One of the party, not I, insisted on ordering off the menu -- he wanted a hamburger. Period. Mostly he just wanted to refuse to become 'part of the experience'. My list of KFC FLG items is long and has no hamburgers, but I'm not jumping to become part of the CT thing without more evidence!

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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Project, I really recommend reading Chapter 11 of Amanda Hesser's "Cooking for Mr. Latte": "Hard Thoughts Soften Over Dinner." I did so yesterday (just because I'm reading it for pleasure) and she gets into a fight with her boyfriend over this very issue. The boyfriend (Tad Friend of The New Yorker) says French food is "too fussy and pristine, or too smeared in heavy sauces. I never feel good after eating it." He goes on to ask: "Why do people want to eat food of equal pleasure [comparing bavette at Lupa to lamb chops at Jean Georges] but have six waiters fluttering around them, giving them a new napkin every five minutes?"

Amanda answers: "Some people like to be pampered or need to feel special...Or they feel that the food demands such formality, and they see it as entertainment. What do you think?"

Tad responds: "I think it's silly."

And that's the debate in a nutshell.

The Amateur Gourmet

www.amateurgourmet.com

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adrober:

So, it's all about the 'experience' of being made to feel 'special'.

I'm reminded that for a few months 10 years ago, I worked far too hard, clinched my teeth, and cracked the tooth on the lower left second from the back. The crack meant that the root of the tooth got infected, which hurt. So, I had a root canal procedure.

The procedure was done by a very serious and expert 'endodontist'. While I was reclined with my mouth open and he was on my right drilling away on one of the worst 'experiences' there is, on my left was one of his assistants doing something to help in the work. She was young, gorgeous, in a beautifully pressed spotless white uniform, with pretty, tiny, gentle hands, and voluptuous. She made the 'experience' MUCH better, and I nearly totally forgot about the guy on the right and the root canal procedure!

So, maybe with enough TLC, even I could keep down raw eggs from some strange primitive fish!

In Hester's story, I can sympathize with Tad: He reminds me of the father in the original Disney movie 'The Parent Trap' where his reaction to an attempt at a romantic dinner was "You know I hate that glop". Disney did have some insight into American culture!

More generally, one of the stronger 'great American' themes is men that concentrate on the practical and suppress the emotional. For me, essentially all of English literature with its attempts at communication, interpretation of human experience, emotion with passion, pathos, poignancy, and poetry was worse than that root canal procedure, really, REALLY offensive smoking, flaming, fuming, glowing, bubbling, reeking, sticky, chunky, industrial toxic waste barf. This is a particularly American division of reason and passion.

In particular, American men can begin to conclude that they have gotten into the wrong place, and are about to spend important money on some really offensive purposes, as soon as the 'environment' begins to suggest some contrived 'total emotional experience'.

Things French, and particularly French food, can be especially suspect for such American men: For at least 100 years, American men have regarded the French as ineffectual emasculated effeminate effete esthetes.

However, there is no question that we must eat; and there is little question, even among American men, that some food tastes MUCH better than other food -- including as carryout on a paper plate. And, among things that taste good, the leading examples come heavily from France, China, Italy, Germany, and Austria. So, even many American men can like such food.

Some of the 'secrets' of why such food tastes good include browning, aromatic vegetables, stocks, reductions, fat, and good balances of salt, acid, pepper, and sugar. Okay.

Within such secrets can come many of the classics of French cooking, but Memphis chopped pork shoulder BBQ also tastes terrific and also makes heavy use of browning, fat, salt, acid, pepper, and sugar. There are good reasons such BBQ tastes good, and the scallop dish Trotter did on TV will not compete.

There can be a point to Tad's "... I never feel good after eating it". I've long since concluded that the US fast food restaurants have long since concluded that much of their success depends on serving food that lets people "feel good after eating it" and, to this end, include enough fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates. E.g., when US fast food made a recent move to salads, they kept the fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates all plenty high. That is, people come in hungry and in a big hurry to satisfy their appetite; if two Whoppers, complete with mayo, works, then people will get 'conditioned' to return. A restaurant that serves no fat 'soy-burgers' on a low-carb bun without mayo or serves lettuce with strips of carrot and celery with no-cal no-carb dressing will soon find their parking spaces occupied by used cars.

This lesson will hold for a high end restaurant: No way do they want to learn that their customers left and an hour later went for a Whopper at Burger King or a sundae at Dairy Queen.

At one high end restaurant that had worked really hard to 'cut the fat', I did notice what Tad did, sometimes left weak and hungry, and then made sure to eat enough fat from sauces, beef, cream in the dessert, and butter on the bread.

If lunch is two Whoppers and the rest of the day is spent drenched in sweat and with a high heart rate loading 100 pound sacks of cement, then there should be no obesity problem. If the rest of the day is spent typing legal briefs, then the person should likely get a better job -- say, loading 100 pound sacks of cement so that they can live to enjoy more nice lunches!

Hesser's story illustrates another point going back to the French Revolution: There Western Civilization got the idea that any difference represented unfair inequality. In particular, men and women were to be seen as identical to the greatest extent possible or more so. One reaction is "men and women deserve equal respect as persons but are not the same" (extra credit for knowing the source!).

One major difference is that women are MUCH more emotional then men. Another difference is, among American men, emotion is regarded as a source of dangerous and irresponsible loss of crucial control. For having "six waiters fluttering around them, giving them a new napkin every five minutes", an American man would sense the emotional trap and quickly feel that he was being expected to do something really foolish. In the story, notably it was the woman Amanda that was saying "Some people like to be pampered or need to feel special ... Or they feel that the food demands such formality, and they see it as entertainment. What do you think?" and the man Tad that was objecting to such things.

The story has Amanda and Tad failing to agree: Of COURSE they can't agree.

That is why Tad might agree with me that a lunch in Memphis of two BBQ sandwiches, some hot sauce, a side of BBQ beans, some beer to wash it down, and some chocolate ice box pie would be quite good, much better than the scallop dish Trotter did on TV, even if Trotter had "six waiters fluttering".

However, if Amanda were like the girl at the root canal procedure, then either Tad or I might spring for the $1000 for a dinner for two at CT's if that might suitably impress her!

Of course, before I went, I might want to drop by Burger King and get a couple of Whoppers so that I wouldn't be too hungry for the 3 1/2 hours of barf bait "glop" I wouldn't eat! A girl that could get me through a root canal procedure might even get me through CT's!

For all of this, Amanda would have to be really something; but, as ALL REAL American men know VERY well, there are MANY such women in the US, some with long bouncing blond ponytails tied up with yellow ribbons, including 100 miles or more from Chicago in a circle of radius 600 miles with center at Chicago (Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa -- WOW!), although the total count would not fall by even one if all the 'feminists' left for France!

Yup, American MCPs know what we like and REALLY like blond ponytails and BBQ!

So, here we have the first lecture in American Esthetics 101 or "How an American man can enjoy dinner without being foolish or losing his manhood."

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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Project

I think the point of Charlie Trotter and other fine dining chefs across the country is

that they find the freshest ingredients and not mask their flavor.

How could one know how fresh a piece of fish or vegetable is if its cooked in a sauce like a stew therefore taking the flavor of the liquid that is it being cooking in.

One could not define a piece of fish for its natural taste when their natural taste has been masked/overpowered by other flavors.

To me (and I don’t mean to be disrespectful ) the dishes that you mentioned sound totally unappealing. Do I want to eat a scallop because it tasted like a scallop or do I want to coat a scallop in a crust and deep fry it and taste not much of anything.

As far as the vinaigrette, I think what Trotter was trying to say is that one should follow a recipe as a guidance but adjust it to your taste. Some like a lighter vinaigrette and some like it stronger. In the case with the scallops a lite vinaigrette would be equal to using a white wine for its acidity.

There are many wines to drink that would not be overpowered

by such a vinaigrette.

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Declaring an inability to enjoy a formal dining room because of the linens and floor staff can be as pretentious as a Frenchman's turning up his nose at a good slab of ribs.

Project, if you don't like that sort of thing, don't do it. But why not try accepting high-end dining on its own terms, and learn to appreciate it, if not enjoy it. The days of the brutally arrogant maitre d' have largely passed, as have the days of endless, overwhelmingly rich tides of fat-based sauces (dammit!). Last winter I journeyed into the belly of the beast and went through nine courses or so at a Micheline two-star in France: it was practicaly spa cuisine, except for the three desserts.

A linen napkin is not a challenge to one's masculinity, and a tasting menu is not a trap. As we used to say at Le Pavillon, just sit back, relax and enjoy.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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