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eG Foodblog: chrisamirault - Place Settings


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School jobs were the only ones in which I always kept candy, in both stashes, and some sitting out.  Kids would come in and say, "Can I have some candy, miss??"  Teachers would come into my office and collapse into the couch, and without speaking, stuff some into their mouths...  :biggrin:

That is exactly what I recall as well, Susan! Wonder why it is always candy .. perishables don't withstand days and weeks stuffed into a teacher's desk drawers, of course ... :wink:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I like my job. I can buy good food and store it here in many places. I can even cook something in the kitchen or oven downstairs -- but I never do.

What is it about work that produces such food mishegas?!?

I dunno, but back when I worked for a large software company, I saw food-related mishegas raised to levels I hadn't even dreamed of. It was like the entire company was a huge Skinnerian behavioral lab, with the "technicians" (management) periodically doling out "food pellets" (mainly pizza and beer, with variations) to the "lab rats" (employees) to keep them running in that damn maze known as the Schedule. Only occasionally the rats would escape and engage in mayhem on the food supply or the facilities. :biggrin: But anyway, in this context "healthy" food simply would not do for rat-reward purposes. Nope, you had to have your Basic Four Food Groups: salt, sugar, grease, and drugs (in this context, either caffeine or alcohol; although I wouldn't have put it past a few of the most extreme programmer geeks to have been running something a little stronger...)

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Silence on the diner question, eh? No diner fans out there?!?

I think maybe the real rail car diners are an eastern thing?

The only genuine diner in MN is Mickeys in St Paul. It was built in NJ and shipped here by rail in the late 30's.

There was a show on either FoodTV, Discovery or Travel Channel devoted to diners that was really interesting.

SB (wishes we had more)

Northeastern diners can be something special, and I love them. For my birthday this year I hit two of them, A-1 Diner and Maine Diner (both in Maine).

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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Weather update: the next seven days (including the rest of this foodblog) will be stormy, cloudy, and cool. No backyard grillin', I'm afraid! :sad:

Lame excuse. I have grilled in drizzle, high winds, a blizzard and the evening it was 30 degrees below zero. Somewhere on the butt or brisket thread is a picture of my grill before I shoveled off the several inches of show to get smokin'.

So, what was for dinner tonight?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Tonight: Everything!

That's the name for a kind of Mexican dinner that involves, well, whatever you want. It comes from Lulu's mom's family, and we tweak it over here to include a few of our favorite things. Lulu was helping out tonight with selection, prep, and service. About once a week, she's in the kitchen taking on a few responsibilities. So, tonight, she was eager to show off her knife skills:

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I'm very proud of her clean lines and fingertip protection both! She used that diced red onion for her salsa:

gallery_19804_437_19305.jpg

Muir Glen diced tomatoes, cilantro, onion, cumin, ancho powder, and some salt. Finally, a squeeze of lime with the reamer:

gallery_19804_437_60372.jpg

Then, in front of Felina, our Mexican chica on the bead curtain from Bisbee AZ (extra credit if you understand that reference), Lulu holds up Andrea's mom's tortilla skillet, on which we toasted up some gorditas:

gallery_19804_437_51981.jpg

And dinner is served! Along with Lulu's salsa, there's some grated cheese, cilantro, a rough salsa with onion, cilantro, black pepper, and salt that we had with our carnitas in Bisbee recently, some pork shoulder simmered in chicken stock, onion, garlic, jalapeno, and some refried pinto beans made with lard rendered using Fifi's great method in RecipeGullet:

gallery_19804_437_7787.jpg

Lulu's first gordita:

gallery_19804_437_50574.jpg

My first gordita:

gallery_19804_437_25986.jpg

Bebe's dinner:

gallery_19804_437_34148.jpg

After that, we dug in!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Silence on the diner question, eh? No diner fans out there?!?

I love diners. I grew up in NJ, and I learned from an early age that if you order the club sandwich in a diner, you will almost never go wrong.

Sadly, we really don't have any diners like that out here in CO. But your pictures brought back memories of eating with my grandparents - they loved diners, and must have known about every one of them in a 20 mile radius of their home.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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Forgot to give props to the purveyor. Sanchez Market is on Broad St near Public, and it's a great place for many Mexican and Latino items:

gallery_19804_437_51046.jpg

Here's their chile wall, which also has other things (epazote, Mexican oregano, etc.) in a pinch:

gallery_19804_437_19326.jpg

And here's their vegetable and fruit room, within which I bought the El Gordo gorditas from earlier in the thread:

gallery_19804_437_20808.jpg

Those gorditas are made at Tortilleria Pixatla over on Federal Hill. Unfortunately, they make them from masa harina and not masa, so my search for good masa to use for tamales continues....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'll take Lulu for a visit if she will teach my kiddle how to nicely chop an onion!

I have to say, it's been a pretty jittery experience teaching her how to use knives. You kind of have to take a leap of faith that your kid is responsible, that you're doing a decent job of teaching, and that you can always staunch the bleeding until you get to the hospital :wacko:.... But Lulu's perservered, and she really takes seriously my insistence that she think before she cuts, particularly about where her fingertips and fingernails are.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Just catching up now Chris, it's been a busy week. :biggrin: First of all, I am seriously coveting your bread box. Do you know how long I've been looking for one like that?!

Secondly, if you've already covered this, just ignore me, but how do you deal with food allergies at your school? Do you have a lot of them? Do you have rules about what people can bring in? And again, I may have missed this, but do you have an onsite kitchen to feed the kiddies?

(hey, 7 pages was a lot to read at once!)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Just catching up now Chris, it's been a busy week.  :biggrin:  First of all, I am seriously coveting your bread box. Do you know how long I've been looking for one like that?!

Secondly, if you've already covered this, just ignore me, but how do you deal with food allergies at your school?  Do you have a lot of them?  Do you have rules about what people can bring in?  And again, I may have missed this, but do you have an on-site kitchen to feed the kiddies?

Glad you like the bread box, Marlene! This is another example of simple but smart kitchen design. For those of you who don't have one, bread boxes really do keep bread in good shape.

As for your second question, we ask every parent at the school to tell us about allergies, and there is a list posted in each room with kids and allergies. In addition, we can get rid of any foodstuff that creates problems. After a girl who kept kosher accidentally ate a ham sandwich two years ago (!!!), I just got rid of pork throughout the school. Unlike on eGullet, there are no big hog fans, and many people (including not only people who keep kosher but who eat halal, vegetarian, etc.) were happy about it. Ditto peanut butter this year: we have a kid who is violently allergic to peanuts, so we just got rid of 'em.

Unfortunately, we don't have a kitchen on site that's big enough; we basically have a home-sized kitchen in the basement. So we use Sodexho food services, and they bring slightly better than the usual fare. Some good stuff, some pretty bad, but all of it generally nutritious and varied.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Tonight: Everything!

That's the name for a kind of Mexican dinner that involves, well, whatever you want. It comes from Lulu's mom's family, and we tweak it over here to include a few of our favorite things.

Now that's funny: we had almost exactly the same thing tonight, sans carnitas. It's a regular favorite here as well, if only because I can clear out all kinds of things all at once and slather things in salsa. :wink:

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Thanks! I sat on the Board of Directors of the day care that is attached to our public school, so I was curious. We did have a kitchen, but their other location doesn't so they use a food service too.

The diversity is also a wonderful way to teach children about foods in different cultures.

(Just tell me where you got it ok? And if you ever see another one, I want it!)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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(Just tell me where you got it ok?  And if you ever see another one, I want it!)

You're on! As for where, we're inveterate junk shop, thrift shop, yard sale, and eBay buyers. That item came from a yard sale, I think -- but I can't be sure.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Time for bed; the gingered gentleman wasn't so gentlemanly after all!

Tomorrow, our (local) anniversary dinner, at the site of our first date -- and, many would say, the first truly great Providence restaurant. Ta!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Thanks a bundle, Chris - I'm skimming because I'm too short on time (but determined to read anyway) and NOW I'm going to go to bed with Marty Robbins singing in my brain. Somehow, though, I always envisioned the faithless Felina (with eyes black as the night) wearing a dancing skirt, not pantalones.

I think my question about the difference between linguica and chorice got buried in the flurry of more pertinent questions about food, children and teaching. I'll ask again, how are they different?

Carry on! This is a fine read, even skimming! And I'm really enjoying your taste in mid-(last)-century modern stuff. :cool:

Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Down in the west Texas town of El Paso...

my mom had the Brothers Four singing that on LP, in memory of the time they came to her university and serenaded the ladies outside the dorms. When I was little I used to sob at the end of that song because the poor cowboy got killed. :sad: Man, those guys could sing.

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Good morning!

I've got a few minutes before I've got to brave the rain. I'll spare you the shot of the Kellogs Raisin Bran in a bowl with 2% milk -- deal?

Glad that there are some Marty Robbins fans out there. Yeah, the wicked Felina probably had a dress and not pantalones in the song, but perhaps her evil turned her into a gunslinger, si?

My folks are here to take care of Bebe during the day and evening, when Andrea and I are going out for dinner.

Is this a guessing game :laugh:

Al Forno?

Wow! First try! Yep, we're going to Al Forno. While many believe that Al Forno has slipped a notch, I really think that it is consistently fantastic. I'm certainly not the only one who thinks that, but in an age where the newest and hottest is celebrated over all, people enjoy slamming their old favorites. Not us. We're going back tonight not only because it's the location of our first date, but because it's the high-end restaurant in this region that we most consistently enjoy.

When Johanne Killeen and George Germon opened Al Forno (in the space that now houses New Rivers), they really were among the first in town to do a number of things that have become commonplace: desserts to order, local sourcing, and -- famously -- grilling pizza. While the cuisine is steeped in the general themes of Italian cooking (particularly oven roasted, or al forno, preparations), it also borrows from Providence: you might see Portuguese food, say, or a local sausage maker's wares. They've tried other ventures (including Lucky's, which was wonderful), but have consolidated around Al Forno for some time.

I learned how to eat well at Al Forno. I would save up my money in the years during and after college so that I could go there, often alone. Hardly a regular, some of the folks working there came to recognize me, and I have always been treated really well. Once, George came to my table to ask how things were, and in the course of conversation, I mentioned a cassoulet that he used to have on the menu at Lucky's. The next time I came, it has reappeared at Al Forno.

I'm hoping to get down there midday today to see if I can get us the kitchen table, a deuce right at the edge of the kitchen entrance downstairs. It's where we sat on our first date, and it's a great place if you're interested in all that back of the house stuff :wink:. If I do get a chance, I'll take some photos.

Has anyone here got any nice memories of Al Forno to share? I'd be very happy to hear about them!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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When I was little I used to sob at the end of that song because the poor cowboy got killed.  :sad: 

K

But what a beautiful way to go!

"From out of nowhere Felina has found me,

Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.

Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,

One little kiss and Felina, good-bye. "

SB (gets a tear in his eye even now)

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"Has anyone here got any nice memories of Al Forno to share? I'd be very happy to hear about them!"

My 1 meal there was great. This was about 5 years ago. They were a "favorite punching bag" on food boards but I really enjoyed it...I remember the grilled pizza and a clam/sausage dish.

They also ran a place in Louis/Boston that was very good.

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Good Morning! I don't have a story to share about Al Forno, but I do have very nice memories about Providence to share. So, I will take this time to follow suit and give one of the reasons that your blog is wonderful reading for me!

About five or six years ago the Food Network was doing a tour of Food Network Live shows around the country, and I went to the one held at the Rhode Island Convention Center. That was maybe the first time that I traveled alone on a pleasure-only trip; I had traveled to lots of cities going to work conferences by myself, but it was an adventure to go solo just for fun. Providence was an awesome place for it, and I'll add that before that trip, I had heard that people "up north" from the Delmarva peninsula were in general less friendly people and rather cold :biggrin: (like the weather, maybe?), but I experienced many examples proving that to be wrong.

I don't know which was the bigger thrill for me, meeting and talking with Jacques Pepin and the others at the show or my visit to the JWU Culinary Archives and Museum. Being an antique lover almost as much as a food lover, I adored the museum and have been wanting to go back ever since. I happened to arrive there by cab when the timing worked perfectly for me to have a guided tour by a relative of the curator who was a J&W graduate, a Navy officer, and a Chef Louis Szathmary expert. Next on my agenda that day was Federal Hill, and he offered me a ride instead of a cab. He actually got lost on the way, so I got a look at more of Providence than I would have otherwise seen, and he bought me a Dell lemonade. (...A local favorite, I understand?)

Besides tastes of so many Providence restaurants at the Food Network show, I had dinners at L'Epicureo and The Bistro, the restaurant operated by JWU students.

It was a delightful trip. That is why Providence holds a special place in my heart. :smile:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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My 1 meal there was great. This was about 5 years ago. They were a "favorite punching bag" on food boards but I really enjoyed it...I remember the grilled pizza and a clam/sausage dish.

I would really be interested to talk about this phenomenon. In his new book, Turning the Tables, Steven Shaw talks about the importance of recognizing those special places -- neighborhood joints, old stand-bys -- that often don't get big buzz on food boards, don't get articles in the press (they're not "news"), and generally appear to fly off the radar screen. I really agree with that. What's more, Al Forno is a punching bag more for its previous accolades (best informal restaurant in the world said International Herald Tribune; lots of other awards, too) than for any significant decline in food or service. (Yeah, it's a bit more expensive than it should be.) Would that we all could be taken down a few notches for being the best at something for twenty years.

Like Al Forno, the restaurants that we go to most often (Lucky Garden, Haruki in Cranston, the Red Fez, Flo's -- and the dear departed Empire :sad:) are places that we know we like, that have people whose enterprises we want to support, and in which we feel comfortable, well fed, and part of the community. The cuisine, price point, ambiance all vary, but those things remain the same.

We also function on a tight family budget. Both of us work in education, and we have the usual family expenses (plus some new ones that are approximately seven months old :wink:), so we don't want to drop $140 to find out that the food quality varies wildly from meal to meal, or that things are skidding downhill after a quick, hype-driven media frenzy, or that the buzz is more about the hipster fish tanks in the entranceway than about the fish that have been removed from the tanks, cooked, and plated. (Just as an example. Ahem.)

I know that Providence gets points on the foodie scene when it has new places to trumpet. But those of us who live here, I think, really value places like Al Forno, New Rivers, Neath's, and the like, places that have deservingly stood the test of time. To write them off as dinosaurs visited only by the stodgy few is to miss, entirely, the point.

I'll bet that's true for many people in the eGullet Society. I notice, for example, that next week's blogger is going to Tru and not to Alinea -- how untrendy is that?

Is it true for you?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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