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johnder

eG Foodblog: johnder - Bouncing Around Brooklyn

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John,

I love how your kitchen is comming along and really admire you for tackling all those tasks on your own. What would you say is your level of carpentry/electrical accumen? Do you have any type of training?

I just couldn't imagine taking on those projects, I really admire your abilities.

Great start to another fantastic blog!

Looking forward to the rest of the week.

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John,

I love how your kitchen is comming along and really admire you for tackling all those tasks on  your own. What would you say is your level of carpentry/electrical accumen? Do you have any type of training?

I just couldn't imagine taking on those projects, I really admire your abilities.

Great start to another fantastic blog!

Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Well, I guess I learned a lot of how to do this first from my parents. They purchased a brownstone in Brooklyn and did a similar gut rennovation on it. This was when I was about 14 years old, and lasted until I was about 17. Needless to say I was recruited for a lot of the manual labor during that time. :blink:

I also have a background in computer and mechanical engineering, both being things I studied in college, so that definately came in handy, along with many, many hours of studying the local building codes.

We had an architect friend help us with some of the layout for the kitchen, but I pretty much had the layout already planned, he just polished it up, and helped with the cabinet layout. I had 3 basic requirements.

A 48" stove

A kick-ass exhaust system

A huge amount of counter/prep space.

So the kitchen was basically built around that!

I learned most of my cooking skills and style from either my mother/sister who are both bakers, from classes at the French Culinary Institute, or most recently my crazy cookbook collection. Regardless of growing up with 2 bakers, I really don't like baking. I think it is because I don't have the patience to be that precise and to be so hemmed into a specific recipe. I am much more of the type that will take a basic recipe and twist and turn it to make it something different.

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John, what did you do with the old sink? I looked and looked and look for one of those when we remodeled (my SIL has one and I love it) and came up empty handed. Please tell me that you didn't just toss it...

BTW, Paul and I have done two kitchen remodels -- in the space of under 2 years (the second one wasn't as extensive). and wow, if you add three kids to mix of that...but, we are still married! (and, we are also DIY'ers).

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John, what did you do with the old sink?  I looked and looked and look for one of those when we remodeled (my SIL has one and I love it) and came up empty handed.  Please tell me that you didn't just toss it...

BTW, Paul and I have done two kitchen remodels -- in the space of under 2 years (the second one wasn't as extensive). and wow, if you add three kids to mix of that...but, we are still married!  (and, we are also DIY'ers).

The old sink was put out on the sidewalk and just as I was putting it out, a couple was walking down the street and asked if it was being thrown out. When I said I didn't need it anymore they asked to take it and made off down the street with it.

The stainless steel top of the sink was in great shape, the plumbing and cabinet had seen better days!

Doing the work was, uh, definately stressfull on the marriage at times, but we both survived. :smile:

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John, what did you do with the old sink?  I looked and looked and look for one of those when we remodeled (my SIL has one and I love it) and came up empty handed.  Please tell me that you didn't just toss it...

Similar sinks show up in lots of laboratories, so perhaps there's a new angle to search in future (call your local lab, ask for facilities, get name of contractor who built the place, call them, etc.... or maybe just look in the VWR or Fisher Scientific catalogs).

They take infinite abuse!

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John,

I love how your kitchen is comming along and really admire you for tackling all those tasks on  your own. What would you say is your level of carpentry/electrical accumen? Do you have any type of training?

I just couldn't imagine taking on those projects, I really admire your abilities.

Great start to another fantastic blog!

Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Well, I guess I learned a lot of how to do this first from my parents. They purchased a brownstone in Brooklyn and did a similar gut rennovation on it. This was when I was about 14 years old, and lasted until I was about 17. Needless to say I was recruited for a lot of the manual labor during that time. :blink:

I also have a background in computer and mechanical engineering, both being things I studied in college, so that definately came in handy, along with many, many hours of studying the local building codes.

We had an architect friend help us with some of the layout for the kitchen, but I pretty much had the layout already planned, he just polished it up, and helped with the cabinet layout. I had 3 basic requirements.

A 48" stove

A kick-ass exhaust system

A huge amount of counter/prep space.

So the kitchen was basically built around that!

I learned most of my cooking skills and style from either my mother/sister who are both bakers, from classes at the French Culinary Institute, or most recently my crazy cookbook collection. Regardless of growing up with 2 bakers, I really don't like baking. I think it is because I don't have the patience to be that precise and to be so hemmed into a specific recipe. I am much more of the type that will take a basic recipe and twist and turn it to make it something different.

I'm totally with you about the baking thing. I wish I were that meticulous. I have made some good attempts, but I'm no Ling!.

Exaust fans are so important. Our kitchen was renovated by the previous owners, and they put in an externally vented, suck white off rice fan. The other night, I grilled a cowboy ribeye steak 2.5 inches thick. I had the cast iron grill screaming on the gas cook top, and the smoke was billowing off. And I tell you, I got a char like an outdoor grill, beautiful med/rare steak and all the smoke sucked up and blown out where the neighbors could only drool.

:laugh::wub:


Edited by monavano (log)

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Hey - we're neighbors! I'm 5th Avenue between Garfield and First, which puts me right smack in the middle of what Doc calls restaurantville.

It's funny seeing all the changes in the 20+ years that I've been here. I've seen some of what Doc has, in the sense of the neighborhood being an old Italian neighborhood before it went downhill. The place that is now Tempo was a really cool old Italian bakery with a wood fired oven that looked like it had been there since the Victorian era. And if the fish store I knew is the same one Doc's talking about (5th Avenue further down toward Flatbush, east side?), I loved it and I really, really miss it. It had been there since the 20s, and they would cut your fish for you exactly to order.

Nice view from your office window! And right near Jacques Torres, too. :wub:

Well, I'm thrilled that you're blogging, and I'm curdled with envy of your beautiful kitchen and stove. I look forward to great things this week!

* The best fish store I've found in the neighborhood is on 7th Ave, east side of the street, between 3rd & 4th streets, I think. The Japanese owned one. (It's a couple of doors down from another one that doesn't smell so good).

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So it looks like tonights plan will not be dinner at home, but dinner at En Japanese Brasserie downtown.  I have been there once or twice before and as far as mega japanese restaurants go, it isn't the worst.  It is for a birthday dinner for a dear friend of mine who decided on the place.  My main complaint about the place is the sound level.

As far as the dinner party on Saturday, I started thinking about the menu.  I really want to do something with the wild mushrooms that Mikuni Wild Harvest has, so I ordered some mushrooms and going to work one of the courses around that.

I ordered a pound of the Wild Oregon Golden Chanterelles

and a pound of Wild Lobster Mushrooms

and a bottle of something new they have, an Indonesian Lemon Vinegar which is supposed to be amazing.

I plan on using (for now) the mushrooms in a very simple pasta dish with some homemade pasta.

As far as the exact menu, I still need to see what is at the greenmarkets and the local stores, but it will be something along the lines of:

Amuse

Pasta Course

Fish course

Meat Course

Cheese

Desert

For the meat, I have an amazing pork belly from the Flying Pigs farm that I am going probably end up using.  Everything else is up in the air.

Sounds great. I am curious about the mushrooms. I look forward to seeing what you get. I also look forward to your thoughts on the Flying Pigs pork. It comes from my neck of the woods and I have become friends with the farmers. They are good people and do a wonderful job of raising top quality pork in as humane an environment as a pig could ever hope for. In addition, Jenn Small was a panelist on Sustainability at last weeks International Chefs Congress. Some topnotch restaurants in NYC like Mas (Farmhouse) and Savoy use their pork.

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Hey - we're neighbors!  I'm 5th Avenue between Garfield and First, which puts me right smack in the middle of what Doc calls restaurantville. 

It's funny seeing all the changes in the 20+ years that I've been here.  I've seen some of what Doc has, in the sense of the neighborhood being an old Italian neighborhood before it went downhill.  The place that is now Tempo was a really cool old Italian bakery with a wood fired oven that looked like it had been there since the Victorian era.  And if the fish store I knew is the same one Doc's talking about (5th Avenue further down toward Flatbush, east side?), I loved it and I really, really miss it.  It had been there since the 20s, and they would cut your fish for you exactly to order.

Nice view from your office window!  And right near Jacques Torres, too.  :wub:

Well, I'm thrilled that you're blogging, and I'm curdled with envy of your beautiful kitchen and stove.  I look forward to great things this week!

* The best fish store I've found in the neighborhood is on 7th Ave, east side of the street, between 3rd & 4th streets, I think.  The Japanese owned one.  (It's a couple of doors down from another one that doesn't smell so good).

Sounds like we had some overlap in the neighborhood, although it haven't lived there regularly since 1977. My parents lived there until about 1990 or so. I do believe that was the same fish store that you referred to.

I love Jacques Torres Chocolates too. I particularly like lunch at Grimaldi's followed by dessert at Torres.

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I don't want to alarm anyone, but in terms of gentrification, 5th Avenue has just about maxed out. You can find smatterings of bobo chic all the way up to Flatbush. Hipster joints have started to open up on FOURTH AVE. The DMZ is dwindling...

Prospect Park is lovely but I admit, I prefer the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the occasional stroll. It's free on Saturdays before noon! And to bring it back to food, johnder, I tend to avoid eating in Park Slope before I hike it on home to Boerum Hill. Any local joints you're particularly proud of? I always have my Metrocard on me, in case a short bus or train ride is called for :cool:

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I don't want to alarm anyone, but in terms of gentrification, 5th Avenue has just about maxed out.  You can find smatterings of bobo chic all the way up to Flatbush.  Hipster joints have started to open up on FOURTH AVE.  The DMZ is dwindling...

Prospect Park is lovely but I admit, I prefer the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the occasional stroll.  It's free on Saturdays before noon!  And to bring it back to food, johnder, I tend to avoid eating in Park Slope before I hike it on home to Boerum Hill.  Any local joints you're particularly proud of?  I always have my Metrocard on me, in case a short bus or train ride is called for :cool:

The BBG is one of my favorite places in Brooklyn, but is best in spring during the cherry blossoms. They have (or at least used to) agreat Japanese Festival there each spring.

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Still do (although in what may be a telling sign it's gotten much bigger and somewhat worse over the last couple of years).

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Any local joints you're particularly proud of?

I'm not johnder (and I'm not proud of these businesses), but as someone from an adjoining neighborhood (John can give his more truly local list when he logs back on):

Al Di La

Tempo

Rose Water

Stone Park Cafe


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Ok, stand by for a big update... still uploading pictures.

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Ok, so originally I planned to cook a nice dinner at home today, but plans changed and I ended up going to En Japanese Brasserie. So we begin... first over to the train station, down the long tunnel...loooong tunnel at York street to wait for the F train, which seems to take forever to come.

gallery_28660_3644_26911.jpg

gallery_28660_3644_308712.jpg

En is on Hudson street, which is technically just above TriBeCa (the Triangle Below Canal). Given this is above Canal street, I guess it would be localed in the West Village.

We were a group of 6, so we just ordered a bunch of stuff off the menu to share. I will see if I can remember all the dishes.

First was one of their specialties, which was their house made tofu, which they make every hour and a half.

gallery_28660_3644_97417.jpg

Next up was the tuna avacado tartare, pretty standard fare. Decent, but not amazing.

gallery_28660_3644_83298.jpg

Next -- some awesome fried shrimp balls, simply served with lemon and a grilled pepper. I can't remember the name of these peppers, but they must be in season because it is the 3rd time I have had/seen them in the last week.

gallery_28660_3644_41632.jpg

Next up, some seaweed wrapped sweet potato that was mmmmm deep fried. It was served with a small dish of salt for dipping.

gallery_28660_3644_86494.jpg

Next, the miso black cod that every Japanese place is making, based upon the original Nobu dish.

gallery_28660_3644_96980.jpg

Next, rock salt encrusted fried chicken, again served with Lemon.

gallery_28660_3644_92933.jpg

Finally, a giant sushi platter that we all demolished it pretty short order.

gallery_28660_3644_68040.jpg

Overall it was a pretty good meal. My one complaint which I voiced earlier (the noise level) really wasn't a factor tonight. The food overall was consistant and good. The hit of the evening was the friend shrimp balls, and I personally really liked the tofu.

I apologize for the picture quality. As you can see the quality of the pictures increased as the evening went along, mainly due to me tweaking the settings on the camera.

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Ok, so after En it turns out Donbert was at Pegu, checking out the aftermath of the Greenmarket event they had earlier. I ended up making a surprise visit to pegu for 2 drinks. Yes... this is a first, I only had 2 drinks at Pegu.

No, I don't have a fever, just 2 drinks.

I started off with a classic -- the 20th Century.

gallery_28660_3644_25899.jpg

Donbert was finishing up his Ti punch which he was nursing. His next drink was a take on the Silver Lining, which Chad modified to use some house made blueberry infused gin.

gallery_28660_3644_33100.jpg

My second drink was a interesting one, a combination of Blueberry gin and Lillet along with some bitters. It was a drink Chad has been playing around with and I think is still undergoing some more tweaking. I think it was mighty fine as is.

Unfortunately the picture came out way too blurry.

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Given I have yet another early meeting tomorrow I am going to be heading off to bed.

I was originally hoping to answer any questions that came up tonight when I got home, but given the stopover at Pegu and the minor battle I just had with imagegullet uploading the pictures causing time to slip away, I will defer answering them until the morning.

Talk to everyone soon!

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Oh, two last pictures. The kitchen as it looks when I got home tonight and hence -- post rennovation!

gallery_28660_3644_148388.jpg

gallery_28660_3644_168542.jpg

The view of the first photo is pretty much the same view you see from the demolition photos above, mainly the one where you see the kitchen and bathroom together (or what is left of them).

As I mentioned up thread, the kitchen is pretty much done with the exception of a few minor details. Mainly the toe kicks under the cabinets, the cabinet panel to cover the massive ductwork for the range needs to be installed, and the a few other odds and ends.

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I thought the Village started north of Houston St., but perhaps I'm wrong.

I'm very much enjoying this, johnder!

You work near the River Cafe. What do you think of that restaurant?

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Next -- some awesome fried shrimp balls, simply served with lemon and a grilled pepper.  I can't remember the name of these peppers, but they must be in season because it is the 3rd time I have had/seen them in the last week. 

gallery_28660_3644_41632.jpg

Shishito probably.

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I recall your demo days a while back jd - what a renovation! Outstanding job!

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Hey - we're neighbors!  I'm 5th Avenue between Garfield and First, which puts me right smack in the middle of what Doc calls restaurantville. 

...

Nice view from your office window!  And right near Jacques Torres, too.  :wub:

Hi H, we sure are neighbors! You definately have a large selection of resturants go to aound you, and probably all the Pabst Blue Ribbon you can drink given the number of bars around you too.

Yes, I can almost see Jaques Torres from my window. I try to have self control and not go crazy and spend all my money there.

John

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Sounds great. I am curious about the mushrooms. I look forward to seeing what you get. I also look forward to your thoughts on the Flying Pigs pork. It comes from my neck of the woods and I have become friends with the farmers. They are good people and do a wonderful job of raising top quality pork in as humane an environment as a pig could ever hope for. In addition, Jenn Small was a panelist on Sustainability at last weeks International Chefs Congress. Some topnotch restaurants in NYC like Mas (Farmhouse) and Savoy use their pork.

I actually first met Jenn and Mike at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket. We got to talking and found out after first trying their bacon I was hooked. I have also been to a few "Meet the Farmers" dinners at Applewood in which they had a meal planned around the their product and they spoke fo 15 minutes about what they are doing, and how they are raising the pigs.

A year or two ago they started selling their chickens that they just let roam around the farm mainly for egg laying purposes, but at the end of summer they sell the chickens off -- man are the chickens good. Taste nothing like store bought fancy organic ones, way more flavor and texture.

We actually have a summer house in upstate NY, it is on Canada Lake, which is about one hour west of Albany, in the southern most part of the Adirondack park.

Where about are you doc?

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I don't want to alarm anyone, but in terms of gentrification, 5th Avenue has just about maxed out.  You can find smatterings of bobo chic all the way up to Flatbush.  Hipster joints have started to open up on FOURTH AVE.  The DMZ is dwindling...

Prospect Park is lovely but I admit, I prefer the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the occasional stroll.  It's free on Saturdays before noon!  And to bring it back to food, johnder, I tend to avoid eating in Park Slope before I hike it on home to Boerum Hill.  Any local joints you're particularly proud of?  I always have my Metrocard on me, in case a short bus or train ride is called for :cool:

Fourth avenue is actually, if the realtors and developers have their way they want to -- and I quote, "Turn 4th avenue into the next Park Avenue". I wish them luck with that, that is a bold task. Recently they started building some huge 12+ story condos on 4th avenue around 3rd street. They are pretty hideous.

As far as local joints go, the places we really like to go to on a somewhat regular basis is (Sneakeater did a good job at catching most of them)

Blue Ribbon

Blue Ribbon Sushi

Applewood

Little Dishes, which I think just changed name to something else.

Stone Park

Rosewater

As far as bars, my favorite places are:

Total Wine Bar

Commonwealth

The Gate

On the topic of the BBG, this Saturday they are having their annual chili festival. They have stands setup where you can buy all sorts of chilis, chili plants and cooking demonstrations along with live bands.

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I thought the Village started north of Houston St., but perhaps I'm wrong.

I'm very much enjoying this, johnder!

You work near the River Cafe. What do you think of that restaurant?

En is on Hudson and Leroy, which is a block or two north of Houston, so I think it falls in the WV. I am not sure what you would call the area South of Houston to Canal? Anyone?

I work about 3 blocks from the River cafe. I haven't been there for dinner in years, many many years, so I can't remember how it was. On the other hand I have been there for lunch a few weeks ago and it was really good. I had a simple scallop ceviche and the hanger steak. The food was very well seasoned, and prepared nicely. Of course the view is stunning, but then again, I see that from my conference room. :wink:

I think one of the biggest reasons I don't go there more is it is pretty expensive and for that price range, I have a lot of other places competing for that spot.

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