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Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 5:48PM


My recently found favorite soy sauce (for sushi and some Japanese dishes) is Yamasa Soy Sauce Less Salt 45. I don't think I ever realized that there were some brands of soy sauce that were not made from fermented soy beans.

There's a new book out about looking at American history through food (even surveying cookbooks) - "From Hardtack to Home Fries". The Boston Herald writes about it here. And in case you're wondering (as I was) - what the hell is "hardtack"?

Men are doing more cooking at home. I do all the cooking at our house. (New York Times - free registration required)

Satay is delicious. For some time now I have told myself I will figure out how to do a decent job of making delicious grilled meat at home. This article has some basic tenets for grilling  - asian style. I was salivating within 10 seconds of seeing this page load.

 

Friday, August 30, 2002 - 8:11AM


Yesterday I heard a story on the radio about how they're using DNA to tag and authenticate sports collectibles. Here's an article that talks about doing the same thing with rare and expensive wine.

Here's a cool article from the New York Times (free registration required) about making lighter and more refined  soups. She asks why onion soup should be dark and sludgy. Come to think of it... I wonder the same thing.

A slew of Jewish holidays are coming up - all with a relatively major focus on food. Don't want to just boil the life out of everything? Here's an overview of some resources for cooking for the holidays including having a honey tasting. Neat.

Does it really matter how you swirl your wine in the glass?

 

Thursday, August 29, 2002 - 11:44PM


Back to Seattle's International District for lunch today - Chinese food at Hing Loon Seafood Restaurant. The Chinese food scene in Seattle is not top grade unfortunately. That said, we have some good (not "oh my god" good but good nonetheless) Chinese restaurants here. Hing Loon is one of my favorites. The Chicken with Black Bean Sauce was a star as were the shrimp and pork wontons they served in the wonton soup. The French Black Pepper Beef was also interesting and tasty (peppery) and the potstickers were yummy as well. The soups - wonton broth and the hot and sour soup were really good but too subtle. They were almost a touch diluted. The core flavors of the soups were actually great. They just needed to be more concentrated. I'll definitely be back there.

Tonight we went out on the search for east coast pizza in Seattle. The following is a relatively convoluted explanation of how I'm trying to judge the quality of the pizza we had tonight. There are many foods I "love". I "like" pizza. It's not that I'm anti-pizza, it just doesn't occupy the same place in my head as sushi for example. Debbie "loves" pizza. And I do mean "loves". Living in Seattle is trying for her because essentially the pizza here is pretty crappy. Either some west coast weird riff on pizza, or a pale copy of the Pizza on the east coast. Debbie's favorite pizza is New York style as served in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts at Patsy's. Kira and Deb ultimately agree that the best pizza in the world is from New York City. That said, Kira feels that Pino's in Brookline, Massachusetts is the best in the Boston area. Deb who has also eaten at Pino's feels that tonight's pizza at Post Alley Pizza in Seattle is as good as Pino's. So what conclusions can we draw from this complicated algebra equation? 1) We may have finally found east coast quality pizza in Seattle - thin, tasty, hot, yummy, 2) the folks at Post Alley were really nice... they stayed open a few minutes late to accommodate us as we didn't realize they closed at 8, 3) Post Alley Pizza may be the best in Seattle (more research required to make that statement definitively) but it still won't equal what you can get in NYC (according to Debbie and Kira). We'll definitely be back there. Now if only we could find a place that had great subs as well as east coast ambience. (BTW, the best sub in the world is served in Brookine, Massachusetts at Presto's - 4 doors down from Pino's).

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2002 - 11:23PM


Monday during the day I grabbed a few bites of sushi at a new branch of Chinoise in the International District of Seattle by the gorgeous and huge Uwajimaya Asian market. Tough to judge in too much detail since I only had a bit to eat, but it was very decent. Big pieces of fresh fish.

Monday night we all went out for Chris' birthday dinner to Dahlia Lounge owned by semi-famous Seattle Chef Tom Douglas. Apparently before I moved to Seattle, Dahlia moved from their original location to their current one. Many locals have told me that they preferred the restaurant at the old spot - but having nothing to compare it to, I think the food is just great. Bunch of "tastes" and appetizers including scallop sashimi with yuzu and shiso, smoked salmon with a very spicy mustard (I love this even though I sometimes wish it the salmon were more like lox than the thicker (more "cooked") smoked salmon they serve), Alaskan spot prawns with young coconut and chilies, super delicious (and I mean super) shrimp and scallion potstickers, and five spice duck leg with a nectarine duck sauce as well as little buns to make sandwiches. The Tuscan grilled bread salad was really yummy - much to the dismay of Lauren who's a vegetarian - because we think the yumminess came from cooking the bread in bacon fat. The baby lettuce and goat cheese salad was good but not very special. But the mozzarella with heirloom tomato terrine made up for it by being spectacular! Entrees included white bean ricotta raviolis with zucchini, albacore tuna with roasted beet and mint aioli, Alaskan halibut with sugar pea broth, and 3 of us had the chili-soy flat ron steak with Chinese bacon and black jasmine rice. I don't think i'm that into black rice, but the steak was so juicy, flavorful, and delicious. All of this and the traditional Belgian fries on the side. Everything was just great. Even better, dinner was topped off with a bunch of desserts including their signature made-to-order doughnuts with apricot jam and vanilla mascarpone. Lauren asked for chocolate sauce... they didn't bring us any but it didn't matter. I love those little doughnuts. They remind me of the ones they sell fresh in Pike Place Market. There's something about the french fries and doughnuts that brings Dahlia Lounge's high end food down to earth a bit, and makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable. 

One other note: Alex brought a couple of bottles of wine. I am pretty much never a Merlot fan, but the 1996 Paradigm Merlot Oakville was delicious.

 

Sunday, August 25, 2002 - 11:49PM


Yesterday for lunch we went looking for Philly Cheesesteak. Poor planning meant we didn't have time to go to Geno's or Pat's or Jim's. Instead we went to Tony Luke Jr.'s (a location on 19th street in Philadelphia) - it sucked (though Lauren said her veggie sub was good). We should have known. The guy at the hotel told us it was almost as good as one of the top places. Luckily, Kira and Steve went to Jim's today. They said it was much better than Tony Luke Jr.'s but still not as good as a Steak and Cheese sub at Presto's in the Boston area. On a side note - on my last visit to Presto's I tried to convince them to open a Seattle branch - no dice.

Cheesesteaks aside, the star of the day's dining was our trip to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's Morimoto restaurant - his first solo gig since leaving Nobu in NYC. This marks the completion of our quest to go to every (current) Iron Chef restaurant (to be accurate we still haven't done the second Japanese and first French Iron Chefs, but we have eaten at the other 5 restaurants - 4 of them in Tokyo). Dinner was amazing. Chris and Leslie had gone the week before, so we had advance scouting to help us figure out our approach. For 8 people we ordered 9 appetizers, 1 soup, 5 entrees, 4 or 5 vegetarian dishes, 2 Omakase meals (top level tasting menus), an assortment of sushi, 3 bottles of wine (including a Caymus Cabernet) and dessert. The meal was worthy of an Iron Chef, and justified our trip to Philadelphia. Appetizers included: toro tartare, yellowtail tartare, shira ae - mixed vegetable with tofu dressing, seared kobe beef tartare - just delicious, tuna pizza - tuna and sauce on a crispy flatbread - clever and yummy, Morimoto sashimi - 5 "blocks" of gorgeous sashimi with 7 different sauces - amazing, suzuki carpaccio on japanese cucumber with some type of yuzu sauce - a bit understated yet the favorite dish of many of the people at dinner, rock shrimp tempura - unbelievably good/incomparable, drunken shrimp 'yopparai', 10 hour pork  'kakuni' - pork belly in porridge (I figure anything they took 10 hours to prepare is worth me trying - and it was), a gorgeous plate of small Kumamoto oysters with different sauces including one with osetra caviar, and Iron Chef's chicken noodle (ramen) soup. If that wasn't enough, the entrees included black cod miso - a classic dish expertly prepared, crispy whole fish 'ichi yaboshi' - and you could eat the whole fish - delicious, lobster epice - just amazingly spiced and cooked to perfection, seared Japanese river trout on top of a base of Japanese mountain Yams (shaped like a scallop) and a layer of seared foie gras with cilantro and Morimoto teriyaki sauce, Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce, shaved ginger, and hot oil, and finally ishi yaki 'buri bop' - yellow tail prepared at our table on hot river stones - very cool. When it was time to bring out the dessert plates that came with the tasting menu, our excellent waiter Clint told us that since we'd ordered just about everything on the menu, they were reconfiguring our standard tasting menu dessert offerings to contain samples of every dessert on the menu. The star of the desserts was definitely the wasabi tiramisu with the yuzu white chocolate sauce. While the sushi handrolls (tuna and shrimp) were definitely very very good, the rest of the sushi was surprisingly just ok. The pieces of rice were relatively small, and other than the tamago, the items on top (tuna, etc.) were kind of small. The sushi just didn't leave the same impression as everything else. Surprising, but not fatal. The overall dinner was absolutely fantastic. No doubt about it.

Flying to Philadelphia for the weekend to eat was definitely worth it.

 

Saturday, August 24, 2002 - 5:27PM


This weekend Debbie and I we're in Philadelphia for a food-filled weekend with Lauren, Alex, Steve, and Kira. Things started off last night with dinner at Pasion. Dinner was "fantastico"! We had read about Chef Guillermo Pernot's restaurant in Gourmet's Top 50 Restaurants in America and were super excited to eat there. We were not disappointed. The six of us ordered roughly 20 dishes of the "Nuevo Latino" cuisine. Appetizers included: Guacamole Cubano -grilled pinapple and avocado, conchitas gratinadas - an incredible scallop dish with melted parmesan, a ton of garlic, and a sabayon sauce, pork empanadas on top of frisse dressed with yummy dressing with pumpkin seeds, costillitas - sweet and tasty guava glazed ribs, camarones y pollo - amazingly tasty spiced shrimp and chicken on rice that came in a baby thai coconut branded on the side with the restaurant's logo, arepas - colombian corn cakes topped with pork, shrimp, and foie gras, and the ceviche tasting platter with baby octopus, shrimp, giant clam with squid ink, eel, and lobster drenched in some sort of fruit juice with these little french fries on top - one of our most favorite dishes of the night. Baskets of warm bread kept coming throughout the evening with a 2 kinds of sweet and creamy butter - herb and garlic for spreading. The best was the little "pain de bono" (sp?) that populated each basket - a single tiny munchkin sized fresh hot roll that was unbelievably good. We eventually asked our waiter for a basket with just those. Entrees included churrasco - an amazing skirt steak dish, a sampler that included an amazing salmon item as well as a crab cake morsel, a grilled vegetable collection, and an awesome flavorful roast chicken dish with a goat cheese tamale on the side. There were a bunch of sides as well including "creamy fufu" a mashed potato like dish made from plantains. We also drank Sangria throughout the evening. When we first walked in, Pasion seemed a little trendy, and we felt just a tiny bit out of place. That quickly faded. The kitchen is open and fun to watch, the service was great, and the food was absolutely incredible. Every dish was a winner - bold flavors with lots of spice, citrus, and general yumminess. As our gracious waiter Jose said when we asked him how we did at the end of the meal: "You destroyed the menu!" We'd return to Pasion in a heartbeat. The chef also has a cool ceviche cookbook for sale. I just bought a copy.

 

Thursday, August 22, 2002 - 11:15PM


The weirdest thing happened. On Tuesday, I linked to the Salon article about Riedel wineglasses. Yesterday, Alex told me a story about how they were visiting Napa the previous weekend, and didn't have any wineglasses, so they borrowed a bunch of Riedels from one of the vineyards they visited. Then, last night Debbie gave me an early anniversary present of - you guessed it - 4 beautiful Riedel Cabernet Sauvignon glasses. Neat. :)

The LA times (free registration required) has a great article talking about an upcoming (2006) edition of the Joy of Cooking. I never realized there could be so much intrigue and maneuvering around a cookbook.

Tomorrow starts a crazy food weekend. I'll fill you in as it happens.

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2002 - 9:27AM


"Mostly Martha" is a new German film about a Chef who is obsessed with food. According to the article the food scenes are super accurate.

Joel Robuchon - an icon of French cooking - is opening a new restaurant (free registration required) in Paris. One of the coolest parts is that the food will be prepared in full view of the customers. They describe it as a "sushi bar without the sushi."

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - 11:16PM


The LA Times (free registration required) has a piece talking about heirloom tomatoes. It got me to thinking about how deprived I often feel on the tomato front. The best tomatoes I have ever had are grown in Israel. I consider it Tomato Heaven. Most tomatoes sold there will do - though the ones I ate on the kibbutz - farm collective - were spectacular. I am particularly fond of firm tomatoes with a definite lean towards an bit of sourness. Some people like soft and sweet - not me. The tomatoes in Israel really remind you that they are fruit - so incredibly juicy and flavorful. I guess there may even be Israeli heirloom tomatoes.  The closest I've ever come to the flavor and texture of the great Israeli tomatoes was when buying organic tomatoes at the Aptos Certified Farmer's Market near Santa Cruz during February when they were in season.

Slate has an article all about Riedel wineglasses. The writer is both taken with the glasses and self-consciously skeptical about whether they're just the product of great marketing.

Speaking of equipment, I'm trying to decide which brand of pots and pans to standardize on. I'm leaning towards the All-Clad - stainless. The copper ones look cool too.

 

Sunday, August 18, 2002 - 9:43PM


Last night Debbie and I went out to dinner at Typhoon in Redmond, Washington. Since I ate Thai food earlier in the week and have been longing for a really good Thai place, it seemed smart to give Typhoon another try. First some background - Wild Ginger is a very popular restaurant in Seattle. It is a modern Thai place, and up until last year it was a place I LOVED! Wild Ginger was always packed and eventually moved to a new home. Their homey/hip exposed brick, wood raftered, packed place with the satay bar at the center was replaced with a cavernous/non-descript rectangle. Now ultimately all I really care about is the food. And the food at Wild Ginger is still very good. But for some reason it doesn't taste quite as good. I hesitate to blame this all on the new lame atmosphere, but there really is something missing from the food itself. I guess it got lost in the translation... Now, back to Typhoon. I've been to the Redmond location 3 or 4 times now. They've consistently struck me as a Wild Ginger wannabe. (They even opened a Seattle branch in Wild Ginger's old pad down by the pier). And while Typhoon is decent in a pinch, it just doesn't seem to have any depth. We weren't famished last night so we ordered a bunch of appetizers - Chicken Satay, Superwild Shrimp (the "wild" was some jalapenos - really "wild"), this interesting ahi sashimi wrapped in nori and then fried in an egg roll shell, the Thai salad sampler, some and some Vietnamese fresh salad rolls. They didn't really nail the pan-asian fusions, and the Thai dishes seemed a little bit one dimensional. I loved the idea of a summer menu, and the Thai salad sampler seemed great - promising  beef/chicken/shrimp salads from different regions of the country. Neat! They all tasted the same to me - fish sauce, lime juice, etc. Many of the other dishes did as well. They did have a very extensive menu of teas. Debbie seemed to like hers. I'm not a good judge as I hate tea - tastes like flowers to me. I'll likely go back to Typhoon - maybe I'll try one of the other locations. I'll definitely go back to Wild Ginger at some point, but I won't rush, and when I'm there I'll be wistful for the way it used to be. 

 

Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 3:56PM


Just noticed, the best food TV show ever - Iron Chef - has 4 hours of specials on tomorrow night. At 8pm is the "2000th Plate Special" in 2 parts. At 10PM is "France Battle" where the Iron Chefs travel to France to "defend the honor of the Gourmet Academy". Very very cool!

 

Thursday, August 15, 2002 - 10:53PM


Tonight Peyman, and Alex and I went out for Thai food. I've been to the (almost hidden - it's down an alley) Chantanee Family Thai Restaurant once before and I recall the food as being really good and the atmosphere family friendly - an unlikely combination. On the food side, tonight didn't quite live up to expectations. Things started off well with the Miang Kum appetizer - take little bits of browned shredded coconut, roasted peanuts, garlic, shallot, lime (with the peel - neat), hot pepper slices, and tiny dried shrimps, wrap them in spinach leaves and dip in delicious Thai sauce. I was psyched. The rest of the dishes were a bit inconsistent. Some were good (not amazing) - Lamb Satay, Tom Yum Goong soup, Garlic Prawns, and some were just "ok" - Heavenly Beef, Papaya Salad. I would not rule out returning to Chantanee but it didn't make me fall in love. I'm wondering if they had an off night.

And although I haven't found Thai food nirvana in Seattle yet, Chantanee was still better than downtown Seattle's  Toi. We went there a few weeks ago. Things started off well as the Satay was simply the best I've had so far in Seattle. Unfortunately the rest of the dishes were pretty mediocre. According to CitySearch Toi is "Trendy Thai and cocktails for the beautiful people." Maybe we should have been scared off by the mention of the trendiness. But I think I romanticized the self-describe "Royal Thai Cuisine" that they served. After all, if it's Royal it's likely to be good. Not only was the food a bummer, but the people weren't that beautiful.

The best Thai food I've ever had was at Thai Basil in the small beach town of Capitola, California, just south of Santa Cruz. The place is tiny - 5 tables? It's been a few years since I've been there though. This guy seems to agree with my evaluation of Thai Basil.

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - 8:08PM


I love sour candy. SweeTarts are my perennial favorite. But I am interested in trying these new Altoids sour candies.

Yumfood.net has a really cool guide to the "top 125 movies about or featuring food" - Screen Cuisine. What's especially neat is the suggested food (and sometimes recipes) to eat while watching each movie. I haven't even begun to make a dent in seeing all the movies listed. That said, my favorite food movie of all time remains - Tampopo.

On Sunday night we went over to DebDu and Peyman's house for dinner. Peyman made two dishes from the Tetsuya cookbook. His book title says he's Australia's most acclaimed chef. I asked my Australian friend Victor if he'd ever heard of him. Nope. Doesn't really matter either way as the dishes were tasty. We had a tuna sashimi appetizer and a duck entree. The food was awesome, the cookbook is on it's way. Peyman said the recipes were surprisingly simple to make considering how complicated the end result looked.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Seattle restaurant Avenue One recently went out of business. Major bummer.

 

Sunday, August 11, 2002 - 10:41AM


Last night Debbie and I went out for dinner at Le Gourmand Restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood of north Seattle. For a long time I'd heard how this unpretentious classical French restaurant was fantastic, and last night did not disappoint. One of us had the tasting menu, the other went a la carte. Being French, sauces were of course the foundation of the evening and they did not disappoint. Among the dishes that blew us away were: Blintzes made from  Sally Jackson's sheep's milk cheese in a chive butter sauce - blew me away with how flavorful and light they were; zucchini lavender mint soup - I don't like mint but for some reason this soup was great, the mint was present somehow only in the aroma; foie gras in red currant and sour cherry sauce - which Debbie described last night as perfect; Albacore tuna in shiso and nectarine sauce - which was excellent though my love of Japanese food had me secretly longing for the tuna to be much closer to raw; Boeuf a la Ficelle which was beef tenderloin cooked in stock served with a sauce of cabernet pressings and included homemade mustard and marrow (though the texture of the marrow was not my favorite, it did have a really interesting aftertaste - I was glad I tried it); a sorbet of pineapple and sage - the sage was super subtle and a surprisingly good complement for the pineapple; and chocolate Kirsch mousse and amazing profiteroles (which were super good, but almost too sweet if such a thing is possible). The only slight low points (all things being relative) of the evening were the Quail with chanterel mushrooms which was slightly dry and chewy though the fantastic sauce helped make up for that, and the mixed greens salad with edible flowers which could have used more of the vinegar in the vinaigrette - a little too much oil. To be clear, the meal was fantastic and a little slice of organic French heaven right in Seattle. One other highpoint of the evening was the butter - Plugra - which has a higher percentage of butterfat making it creamier than American butter. All in all, delicious!

 

Thursday, August 8, 2002 - 11:59PM


Bibim Bap (Korean mixed rice dish) is all the rage in Los Angeles according to the LA Times (free registration required). My understanding is that this dish is typically served with a raw egg floating at the top. Doesn't seem like that's a facet of the LA instance of the dish. The truth is that my favorite Korean dish is a variation called Hwe Dup Bap. This is somewhere between Bibim Bap and the Japanese Chirashi Zushi. Good description here if you scroll down to the review of "Sushi Bar Golf." I still need to work on finding a proper recipe but essentially you fill an extra large soup bowl half way with rice (short grain sticky) and then put a layer of widely sliced lettuce strips on top of the rice (Bibb/Boston would be good). Carefully place 4 small-medium piles of raw sliced fish (tuna, salmon, octopus yellowtail, etc.) at opposite ends of the bowl (forming a plus sign). Sprinkle slivered cucumbers (vinegared) and thin strips of Nori on top. Serve with a small bowl of spicy Korean sauce (typically based on bean paste) on the side. The trick is to get rice, lettuce, fish, cucumber, nori, and spicy sauce all into one bite - and every bite. Very very good. The most reliably good place I've ever had this was Shilla in Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Haven't been there in years though.

 

Thursday, August 8, 2002 - 1:40AM


Tonight we went out to dinner in Seattle at St. Clouds. We were lucky enough to stop at a friend's house so he could pick up a couple of bottles of wine to bring to dinner - the Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon 98 was yummy. The appetizers were very good. In particular (as we'd heard) the Sauteed Shrimp Panzanella was very good. At first I was a little overwhelmed by how much balsamic vinegar was used in the dish, but in the end I decided it was really distinctive. Almost sweet. The shrimp ceviche tostadas were decent. Entrees didn't go as well. Ranging from bland fish, to dry steak, to fries that we're a bit limp we were just underwhelmed. The onion rings that came with my steak were an exception as well as the ribs which were juicy and flavorful. 8 of us split one (large) dessert. The ice cream sundae. It came with a great chocolate sauce that inspired friends to make the following recipe for Scharffen Berger Chocolate Fudge Sauce. (I've since made the recipe - it rocks. Need to melt it a bit in the microwave before serving.) Bottom line on the night out - St. Clouds scores points for having a very "homey" feel but like many restaurants of late starts decently with the appetizers but falls down on the entrees. I often wonder why more restaurants don't just turn into Tapas bars.

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 8:02AM


Ketchup is starting to evolve. :) The LA times has a short article about the history of ketchup (requires free registration) as well as talking about some enhancements to modern tomato ketchup. Weird that there's no mention of some major new advancements from the king of ketchup Heinz. They recently released organic ketchup as well as  the new flavored ketchups (scroll down a bit). One funny thing I noticed while poking around the Heinz site is that they also sell tomato seeds. My favorite seeds (based solely on the arugula they grew which was incredible large and peppery) are from seeds of change.

 

Monday, August 5, 2002 - 11:16PM


We recently went on a trip to Boston. Before going we spent a bunch of time researching which restaurants to go to. In the recent issue of Food and Wine, Thomas John was featured as one of America's Best New Chefs of 2002 in the country. He is the Executive Chef at Mantra, in Boston, Massachusetts.  Mantra is said to be a fusion of French and Indian cuisines. Dinner was fantastic. The restaurant is in an old bank lobby. The downstairs (where the kitchen is located) is replete with huge bank vault door. The bar is the former teller counter. The bread tray made many trips past our table with the best item being small warm nan. They were so good the bread lady kept running out. The staff was very attentive, but the service seemed to get even better when we started looking at the expensive wines on the wine list. As always, I was looking for a big Cab.  The assistant sommelier ended up recommending the Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 97. She nailed it. The Snowden was huge and tasty. All in all the meal was incredible with the attention to detail of French cooking and the spices of India. From the Citysearch review "The tendril-like tangle housing the hookah smokers and the gimmicky bathrooms seem calculated to please the adolescent taste of new money." The hookah room was cool, the bathrooms did have a cool trick (i won't spoil the surprise) and the people at Citysearch seem a trifle insecure about my newfound ability to afford dinner at Mantra. Whatever...

 

Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 11:34PM


Last night we went over to a friends' house and made a variety of foods. The most interesting part of the evening (other than the fact that I finally made decent sushi rice for the first time) was a unique American delicacy - Deep Fried Twinkies. I am not a fan of Twinkies, and I only had one bite, but it was surprisingly yummy. They were fried in a rotofryer. The St. Petersburg Times recently reported on an upscale version of this delicacy.

One other note from last night, someone brought up the Fancy Food Show - this bears further investigation. We might have to attend.


 

     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

   

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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