Chris VR's Profile

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November 2014 Openings and Closings

wickedated seems to be in the know about Griddler's, mentions "our store" here:

about 13 hours ago
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

What happened to links?

It's not like the term "Permalink" was exactly intuitive either, and certainly befuddled many...



What is "Permalink"?

What is a "Permalink"?

What is a permalink?

Plus ça change... ;-)

about 14 hours ago
Chris VR in Site Talk

Q & A convert to discussion

I'm on iOS 7 and the up arrow works for me.

about 22 hours ago
Chris VR in Site Talk

What happened to links?

As Melanie Wong mentioned the last time this was raised there are a lot of sites that do it this way, including Facebook and Twitter.

about 22 hours ago
Chris VR in Site Talk

QUICK BREADS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (October 2014)

Glad to hear it. Give this a try sometime! I've never made really great cornbread until this recipe. I've never made it with the creamed corn, but wherever I got it from listed that, so I keep it in in case that's something you want to try. You could probably make it just fine with a baking pan instead of the skillet but the skillet gives it such a lovely crunchy exterior.

1 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 c. sour cream
1/3 c. corn oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp butter
optional: 1 sm. can (1 c.) cream-style corn

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Put a cast iron skillet in the oven.

In a large bowl, beat sour cream, oil, and eggs. In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients. Fold into sour cream mixture. Optionally, fold in cream-style corn. Do not overbeat.

Take skillet out of the oven and melt butter in it, and then pour butter into mixture and mix to incorporate butter.

Pour into skillet and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Cool; cut into squares.

1 day ago
Chris VR in Home Cooking

QUICK BREADS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (October 2014)

I have a recipe for what I think is a really fantastic cornbread but it's sweetened, which is I know is a big old NO for many people. I love it though... let me know if you want it! And it has sour cream and butter, so won't work for ilanaw10.

Oct 19, 2014
Chris VR in Home Cooking

A Tale of Two Donut Shops (long)

If you've got the hankering for cider donuts and can't make it to one of the Holy Cider Trinity (Cider Hill, Russell Orchards, Honeypot Hill), Wilson Farm's cider donuts are passable as long as they are fresh from the fryer. Walk right past the ones in plastic crates around the store, and if that's all they've got, keep walking. They were doing blueberry donuts out of the fryer recently and those were pretty good too. But it's a distant second to one of the Trinity's donuts.

Winter Emergency Stock-Up

It's the basis for the French Toast Alert System up here in Boston!

Meals for Family Struggling with Illness

If you can make a nice sourdough, I'd aim for soups and stews that would pair well with it. Those are easy to eat and fast to reheat. You could even do a trio of soups without too much effort. Maybe a lentil soup, broccoli and cheese and a nice homey chicken soup? Throw in a bagged salad and it really feels like a complete meal.

Oct 13, 2014
Chris VR in Home Cooking

stainless steel sheet pan?

Are you also taking the safe approach and avoiding drinking water, which is also a source of aluminum?

Oct 11, 2014
Chris VR in Cookware

What can I do with my Kousa Dogwood fruit?

I found out this fall these are edible, so I've snacked on a few. Maybe it's because it's later in the season, but they are really tasty right now. Very creamy, with a bit of a tropical taste, but also hints of strawberry and peach. I was wondering if there's anything I can prepare with them. Peeling them is tough... what I do is peel off one edge and then sort of squeeze the fruit into my mouth, spitting out the small, hard pits, but that's not really going to work for cooking. I was wondering if anyone has any experience cooking with them. I might throw some into my food mill and see if I can get the pulp without the skins, although the seeds might get stuck in the mill. Any other suggestions? Blanching perhaps? Ideas on what to do with the pulp?

Oct 07, 2014
Chris VR in Home Cooking

Matsutake Mushrooms in Boston area???

Thanks, I made a followup that got lost. I do think I've seen Matsutake somewhere recently but I'm going to keep my mouth shut until I can find it again and be sure :)

Oct 06, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Matsutake Mushrooms in Boston area???

I saw them at Russo's last Wednesday... at least I'm pretty sure that's what I saw. I also saw them last Tuesday at the Lexington Farmer's Market, at Stillman's Farm Stand.

Hmm, never mind, what I saw was a big feathery mushroom, not like what I Google for Matsutake Mushrooms. Sorry for the false alarm!

Oct 06, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Szechuan's Dumpling Is Amazing, Lucky Arlington

This has been been our go-to takeout place and I agree, the dumplings have traveled nicely. My husband had lunch there last week and said it was VERY salty. He won't be back.

Oct 05, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Heirloom Cookie Sheets - Heirloom Cookie Sheets

Thanks, I was hoping for a link to a scientific journal that supported your statement. Considering the author of the article you point to seems to have the bulk of her expertise in the area of yuppie dog toys, she doesn't come across to me as an expert, but even there, even she agrees what I had understood... there hasn't been a proven link, and even the suspected link is connected to acidic foods and long cooking, none of which comes into play with cookie baking. I'll stick with my sheet pans, thanks!

Good luck to the business, it seems to be a family run startup and I'm sure they will find enough people who buy into hysteria and hype over aluminum and cooking, but that's not much to hang a business on. Their testimonials seem to all be suspiciously similar in tone, but if they really want to show the difference between their product and other cookie sheets, pictures of the finished cookies cooked on various bakeware might convince.

Oct 05, 2014
Chris VR in Cookware

Heirloom Cookie Sheets - Heirloom Cookie Sheets

Do you have any references that support your theory that aluminum leaches into food via baking sheets? My understanding of that phenomena is that if it happens, it's linked to cooking acidic liquids, which isn't what's happening when you're baking. FWIW I love my cheapo baking sheets that I pick up at the restaurant supply store. I wouldn't spend $30 on a baking sheet, myself.

Oct 03, 2014
Chris VR in Cookware


How do you use the olive oil? Are you talking about the tablespoon here or there one might use in cooking, or in salad dressings, or are you saying you apply it right to your skin?

Oct 02, 2014
Chris VR in General Topics

McSweeney’s: All Under Heaven

"You’ll get an exclusive preview of a recipe from the book, a coupon for a preorder discount, and you’ll provide us with essential feedback to make sure no errors sneak by us and ruin your next dinner party. We’ll also post your pictures of the process and the finished recipe to this website. To participate, enter your email below and we’ll get in touch with simple instructions. Cooks of all experience levels are welcome, and we can accommodate any dietary restrictions."

Sounds fun although I have to admit that I find Chinese cooking really daunting! I suppose that's as good a reason as any to sign up...

Sep 25, 2014
Chris VR in Home Cooking

Park Place Pantry's Tuscan Style Salsa at local farmer's markets

I saw that on your Facebook page, good for you guys! Cider Hill's donuts and unpasteurized cider have been calling me anyway so now I really have a reason to head up there!

Fred's Franks- New home in Medford- NOW OPEN !!!

Great news! I hope he updates his website soon. I was driving past his old location today, and that prompted me to check out his website to see if there was any news on a new location, and there was no mention of this there.

Sep 23, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Szchuan's Dumpling in Arlington under new management

The windows are covered in brown paper, and there are signs up in the windows. I tried to peek while driving by and I think it said something about new management.

Their website confirms: "The restaurant is now under new management, Right now is temporary closed. We are waiting for the final approval from Town of Arlington. "

I'm wondering if anyone knows who the new management is? It's one of our favorite places so I am keeping my fingers crossed this is not a bad thing.

Sep 17, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Healthy Popcorn

^^^^^ This. Airpopped popcorn tastes like styrofoam to me, and I feel like I end up loading it up with butter just to make it edible. I use oil in my Whirley Pop and then just sprinkle it with salt.

Sep 04, 2014
Chris VR in Home Cooking

Buy a Chicken Pot pie or 8

We do have Costco around here but I think Chicken Pot Pie may be a seasonal item, along with chicken soup, which I've enjoyed from Costco in the past, but couldn't fine when looking for it in Waltham recently. It makes sense, I suppose, that they're probably using their leftover rotisserie chicken (which, I assume, is what goes into the pot pies) for chicken salad this time of year.

I'm overdue for a Costco run so I'll check and see if it's in the case at Waltham. I do like Harrows, a bit on the bland side... wish they'd offer a dark meat version.

Sep 04, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Our 4 Days/3 Nights of Enjoyment in Boston

Thanks for reporting back!

Sep 02, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Big Island Road Trip report 8/17-8/24

That looks like the fruit, thanks! Looks like no chance of getting it here on the mainland, and I'll chalk it up as one more thing that makes a trip to Hawaii so special!

Sep 02, 2014
Chris VR in Hawaii

Looking for a bakery that will make a 3D Patriots helmet shaped cake for a wedding.

The Icing on the Cake, in Newton, and they have sone really delicious flavors. You can browse some really amazing designs in the gallery on their website.

Aug 31, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Big Island Road Trip report 8/17-8/24

I hope you don’t mind me tagging along on your thread. We were on Big Island for our second time on August 10-20 and trod many of the same paths as you. Nothing groundbreaking, but I wanted to report back here on our trip with some picky eaters:

Shave Ice:

Anuenue Shave Ice in Kamuela was absolutely, top of the pile. It was our first shave ice this trip so I feel like I didn’t really appreciate how great it was until we went everywhere else. It was partly the texture of the ice, which seemed fluffier than the others we tried, and partly the real fruit flavors that seemed to be present in the syrups. The ice cream was also really good. I read the line can be brutal but it wasn’t bad the day we were there…. one nice benefit of going in off season. We had hoped to hit it up for a second time at the end of the trip and didn't manage to do so, and I regret that!

We were trying to find WIlson’s by the Bay in Hilo and it’s moved. In the area where our guidebook says it used to be was Mauna Kea Snow. We had a car full of cranky and tired kids (and adults) so we decided to just go there. It was meh. Chunky ice, artificial flavors and slooooooow. We were the in line behind one person ordering one shave ice and it felt like it took over 10 minutes for us to get 2 shave ices and an ice cream, and that’s with 2 people behind the counter. The store felt a bit grimy as well. Would not return.

There was a shave ice stand on the beach in front of the Marriott, where some of our family was staying (Yelp says it’s Abay Café.) Hours are a bit quirky, and we missed them open the first couple of times we tries. Yelp says they are there from 10-2 and we finally caught them in. Again, chunky ice and artificial syrups but the woman in the stand was nice and quick and it’s a lovely spot to enjoy a shave ice (if it’s not too windy, as it was the way we were there.)

Special event meals:

Evening at Kahua Ranch: this was chosen to appeal to my father in law, and the steak (which is from their ranch) was really good. It’s a fun experience, but a pricey one. The rest of the food was fine, and the s’mores were a big hit with the kids. It was neat to see inside some of the ranches we’d been driving by, and the all-you-can-drink beer and wine was a nice bonus (for the people who weren’t driving!) It’s a bit of a scary drive home, on windy dark roads although they offer a more expensive option that includes bus transport. Without the bus, it's around $100 per person, and you're not really seeing that value in the food, but you do really feel like you're seeing a ranch in operation, and supporting that operation, so while it's definitely a splurge experience, I'm glad we did it.

Legends of Hawaii Luau at Hilton Waikoloa Village: This is pricy, but we got a discount because we were staying at a Hilton property. We could have paid to upgrade to “Ali’i” seating but I'm glad we didn’t. They were served appetizers and I think had waiter service for drinks, also got first crack at the buffet but there was plenty to go around and there were two buffet lines that seemed to move pretty quickly. There are two bars as well, but they weren’t talking that up, so the line at the bar at the back of the venue was really long, whereas there wasn’t much of a line at the bar at the front of the venue, to the right of the stage. The food was all really pretty good. I remember liking the poke a lot, and the coconut milk fish. The pork was good but way too salty for me. Nice dessert buffet and the mixed drinks were decent. The show was impressive and we enjoyed the experience overall.

Eating in Waikoloa resort area:

We were staying in the Waikoloa resort area with a full kitchen, so a lot of our meals were at home. We hit up Island Gourmet a couple of times but regretted it because the prices are so insane there, and there’s not a lot of selection. I did enjoy the poke, which we got twice. Can’t remember what types, but the ahi one with a feathery sort of seaweed was my favorite. Waikoloa Village Market is a MUCH better deal for general groceries and it’s only 10 minutes or so away from the resort area. Well worth it for the savings and larger selection. Costco in Kona is far and away the best deal, as everyone says. We went in close to closing and I wish we’d had more time to wander the aisles, because they had some neat stuff not found on the mainland. This is also a great place to go for souvenir type food- they had large tubs of assorted variety Mauna Loa macadamia 2 ounce bags for a great price. We picked up mostly basic stuff— lunch meat, bread, milk, potato chips.

We had takeout one night from SanSei, and i do really like their sushi, although it’s pricey. They had this neat flower sushi with a quail egg yolk nestled in the center which was lovely and tasty. For some reason they don’t accept takeout orders before 6:30.

We ate a lunch and a dinner at the Marriott resort. Sky high prices, but the food was fine. I had a really nice Furikake-crusted ahi for dinner. Their mai tais are NOT good. They have specials every night (50% off entrees one night, $23 lobster another night) so eating with the specials is a way to keep the cost down. I probably wouldn’t bother going there if you weren’t actually staying there.

We did lunch at the Hilton Waikoloa, at the open air restaurant right by the dolphin pool. It’s a great place to eat with kids, because you can see the fish on one side and the dolphins on the others. Lots to keep them entertained. The food was unexceptional, but not bad. Whatever recipe the Hilton is using for Mai Tais is a lot better than the one the Marriott is using.

We had ice cream at the place in Queens Marketplace that does mix-in flavors, outside and to the right of the food court. It was pretty good. The kiddie sizes weren't that expensive but the rest of the sizes seemed pricey. I think they only allow kids to buy the kiddie sizes, or that's the impression I got from their price board.

Eating in Kona:

We enjoyed Kona Brewing Company last time we were on Big Island and liked it again. Nice beer samplers allow you to try a wide variety of their beers. The breads/pizza are made with spent grains,which didn’t appeal to my picky eater, unfortunately, but they nicely took it off the check, which I hadn’t requested or expected. Everybody else seemed pretty happy with their meal. I liked my pork sandwich.

We ate at Huggos on the Beach for our last meal, when we were killing time before our flight home. We had a personable (and very tall) male server, and the mai tais were really good. They were out of tortillas so couldn’t do the pork quesadilla I’d ordered. I had the catch of the day and it was fine. Nice potato chips on the side. The burgers were really on the rare side, which was odd since my MIL had ordered hers medium well. Usually places overcook, not undercook, burgers. No fries on the menu, only chips. The open air nature of the place, and sandy floor reminded me of Blue Heaven in Key West. Very loud musicians were good but made it hard to talk. The sunset was absolutely lovely. I think it was a bit too offbeat and casual for my in laws, but I liked it and the kids seemed to like it too.

Eating in Volcano:

I had thought we’d go to Cafe Ohi’a but they aren’t open for dinner. Instead we ended up at Lava Rock Kitchen, which is where we went last time we were there. The service was a bit better than I remembered, although we did have a long awkward wait at the front of the restaurant where staff kept bustling by us and not acknowledging us. We stood there for about 5 minutes before someone spoke to us, but once we were seated, our waitress was fine. We did watch people standing and waiting a long time for a table, longer as the night went on, so try to get here early if you can. The food here is eh. Nothing special, but it’s open and we were fed.

The next night, my inlaws took the kids back to Lava Rock and we did a date night at Kilauea Lodge. We both had specials, including a local mushroom appetizer, which was good but a bit underseasoned. I had half duck l’orange and it was also missing something in the seasoning, plus the duck was dry. I can’t remember what my husband had, but he had no complaints. He really liked the celery cream of coconut soup. I think I just can’t taste cream of celery soup without getting a taste memory of the canned stuff, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as he did. I had the Haupia Coconut pie. The crust was tough but I liked it otherwise. He had some sort of coconut macadamia pie and liked it.

Driving around the island:

We stopped at Tex Drive Inn. We had an assortment of malasadas and mostly liked them. The mango and apricot were oversweet but because the dough isn’t that sweet, it balanced out. We made the mistake of trying to have lunch there and the food was dismal. Never again.

We stopped at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory in Waimea and it was great to be able to taste everything they offered. We ended up buying more than we probably would have because of the samples, so it’s a good selling strategy.

We also enjoyed the Greenwell tour, and it was very interesting to see ripe coffee berries and get an understanding of the process. We had stopped at a factory the last time we were on Big Island but it was in May and it’s hard to really get a feel for the process without ripe berries.

The South Kona Fruit stand really stood out in my memory as a fantastic place the last time we visited, and I don’t know if it was the day we were there or just what was in season, but we were disappointed by a fairly small selection. However, we were introduced to a round yellow/orange fruit that was described as tasting like vanilla pudding and it was like nothing I’ve ever had, so it was worth stopping just for that. Anyone know what it's called? We also got some white pineapple, which I’d never had. It took a few days to ripen and the difference between white and yellow is subtle… the white seemed to be more sweet, with less of the astringent “piney” taste I taste in the yellow pineapples. However, we did experience some gastric distress later and wondered if it might be connected to the white pineapples.

There was a “Farmer’s Market” set up in a parking lot one day when we were driving in Waimea, and was really one person selling a bunch of stuff. We got some great bananas (love those apple bananas!) and avocados, although the type of avocado was mostly pit. I later got a big avocado from the Waikoloa Village Market that was better and a better fruit to pit ratio.

That’s about it! Thanks for the tips here, always appreciated!

Aug 31, 2014
Chris VR in Hawaii

Snappy Patty's West Medford: An early report

I"m assuming that you mean "SP" aka Snappy Patty's, not "FP" or is there another place here that would fit the "FP" abbreviation, and i"m just missing it?

Personally, I'm glad to hear a contrary viewpoint, and hope Syje1 sticks around. I think too often we end up with these board darlings, and people are reluctant to share anything but a rave about those restaurants because they're afraid they'll get called out negatively. Different strokes for different folks, and I'd like to hear from everyone, not just the people who all agree.

Aug 30, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area

Seeking input on outdoor Puerto Rican pig roast facility under development [Holyoke, MA]

Would love details too! Hmm, Lechonera on Sept 27, The Big E on the 28th...? I feel like Templeton the rat just considering it!

Aug 29, 2014
Chris VR in Southern New England

Is anyone going to boycott Market Basket?

I stopped into Burlington MB this afternoon because I was in the area and needed a few things. Some dairy, a bit of meat (not sure what kind), a smidge of seafood, no produce that I saw (but I didn't go wander around there), some bread, a lot of empty space all around the store. Bakery was closed, no prepared foods. Not surprising, just reporting what I saw. It's kind of interesting to see how they tried to fill the space. For example, in the canned fruit aisle, there's 4 shelves full of the same kind of applesauce. I was able to get the cat food I needed, the shredded cheese I wanted, a packaged Boboli pizza crust (don't judge!), jarred pizza sauce, and 2 loaves of white bread (not the brand I wanted, but close enough). There weren't many customers or staff around, but they all seemed really happy. The store was freezing though. I suspect the A/C units are set to handle a higher load of people and food. Couldn't stay long, but it was nice to shop without the typical hordes of people, even if I couldn't get everything I was looking for.

Aug 28, 2014
Chris VR in Greater Boston Area