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Absolutely! :-)

Sep 11, 2014
joeljkp in U.K./Ireland

Critics' lists for London

Sep 11, 2014
joeljkp in U.K./Ireland


I'm interested in checking out Ottolenghi while I'm in London, mainly because I've been hearing about it a lot, and it's known for creative vegetarian dishes.

I'm a bit confused about it though: there's multiple locations with different features; apparently it's known for takeout, but has a seated component also; is it best for breakfast/brunch or dinner, etc.?

Any recommendations for getting a good Ottolenghi experience?

Sep 11, 2014
joeljkp in U.K./Ireland

Critics' lists for London

Excellent, thank you.

I've also found the "Good Food Guide", which has its top lists online for free.

Sep 10, 2014
joeljkp in U.K./Ireland

Critics' lists for London

I'm headed to London for a week in a few days, and I like doing a bit of food tourism, seeking out the best places across the city. Preferably at the cheaper end if the spectrum.

So where should I look for some good "best-of" lists? Note that I'm much more interested in critics' lists than something like Yelp or TripAdvisor.

TimeOut is kind of my default, but there have to be more that I haven't stumbled across yet.

Sep 10, 2014
joeljkp in U.K./Ireland

Eating out healthy: does this app exist?

Yeah, I think the data categorization aspect of this would be the most critical part.

You'd need to limit it to chains at the beginning, though I could see a future in which folks could help by tagging menu items by what they contain, just as a hint for the algorithm. The spinach dip appetizer would get tagged "vegetable", "cheese", and "high fat", for example.

As far as building a balanced meal... I'm thinking you could use a combination of ingredient lists and nutrition data for that, along with nutrition best-practices. If the general rule of thumb is that you should get less than 30% of your calories from fat, well, that's an easy one. If you should try to get 2 servings of fruit/vegetable with dinner, that seems pretty straightforward too, given the right data.

I'm tempted to just throw together a prototype and put it on Kickstarter.

Jun 24, 2014
joeljkp in Food Media & News

Eating out healthy: does this app exist?

I've been traveling a lot, and the classic problem when eating out all the time is that you can eat healthy, filling, or cheap: pick two.

To help solve this, here's the app I want to exist:

1. You choose a restaurant you want to go to. Say, Applebee's (stay with me here).
2. The app asks you what size meal you want: small/medium/large, or maybe by total calorie count. I'm eating dinner, so I want an 800-calorie meal or so.
3. The app sorts through the menu and the nutrition facts and gives you a series of options that combine menu selections in a way that get close to your "fullness" goal but also have a balance of fruits, vegetables, relatively low fat, etc. You can swipe through the options to find one that looks appealing to you.

Please say this app exists!

(Or barring that, how you handle this problem.)

Jun 24, 2014
joeljkp in Food Media & News

The Indian Chipotle Exists Right Now in San Francisco at Tava

Take a look at Spice 6 in Hyattsville, MD. Sounds similar, and I can confirm its deliciousness.

Jan 19, 2013
joeljkp in Features

MD Food Center

I have no idea. I was hoping someone would chime in and answer that question!

MD Food Center

It's a big complex at the corner of Rt. 1 and Rt. 175 in Jessup, MD, though the seafood entrance is off of Oceano Ave.

Here's a map:

MD Food Center

Is the Maryland Food Center in Jessup open to the public? Is there any reason to try going there for produce or seafood (freshness, price, selection)? Any good (or bad!) experiences?

Callebaut, Droste, or Merckens cocoa powder in DC/Baltimore?

I'm trying to make some high-end hot cocoa mix, and I hear from Cook's Illustrated that I should be looking for Callebaut, Droste, or Merckens brand powder.

Does anyone have any idea where to find these in the DC/Baltimore area?

They appear to be baking-supply brands (rather than consumer), and their websites are no help with finding retailers.


Visiting the Maine Ave. wharf

I'm considering visiting the Maine Ave. wharf area next weekend with family, and I'd like a few questions answered before I go, so as to stand around looking confused as little as possible.

When I checked out the area earlier, I noticed that everything had prices, except for the live crabs. Are you supposed to haggle with the sellers over the price?

Will they sell a couple dozen live crabs, then cook them for you on the spot?

I saw a covered eating area on the east side of the fishmongers, do you take your food and bring it over there? Do they have utensils, napkins, newspaper, etc.?

Will they cook fresh non-crab for you too (fish, shrimp, etc.)?

I've read that the actual catch comes from places like Jessup; is there a similar area over there that would be even better to try, assuming enough time to drive?

Thanks from a confused transplant.

Protein pairing for tomato soup?

I'm currently on a kick where I'll make a lot of one thing and eat it day in and day out until I can't stand it any more. It helps with time and I get to perfect it instead of making an attempt at a different thing every night.

So right now, my go-to dinner is homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tasty, satisfying, inexpensive, quick to prepare, and you get a full serving of vegetables in there as well.

So the only thing I'm missing is a protein. Sure, there's a bit in the cheese, but definitely not enough to make a good weeknight dinner. But that's the problem: what (inexpensive) protein source goes well with tomato soup and cheese? Some sort of bean preparation? Chicken?

Mar 10, 2010
joeljkp in Home Cooking

Fresh oysters in DC?

So John Shields tells me (in his book) that now is oyster season on the Chesapeake. Do any of these fresh oysters make it over to markets in DC? What's the best place to get some?

Best cookbook to introduce me to Maryland/Mid-Atlantic cuisine?

I'm new to Maryland (PG County) from another region entirely, so I'm looking for a good cookbook or two to give me an introduction to traditional MD/Mid-Atlantic food. The most I've gathered so far is that crabs are big here. But beyond that, I'm lost. Any good suggestions?

Jan 21, 2010
joeljkp in Mid-Atlantic

Where to buy salt pork in DC/PG County?

I'm looking for some salt pork to make a cassoulet, but the few places I've been around my town (New Carrollton) don't carry it. Has anyone found a good place that carries it in the PG County/Greenbelt/New Carrollton area, or even in DC proper?

Your best Sweet Potato Recipe

More of a general technique than a recipe:

Chop a couple large sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and add them to a 9x12" baking dish, along with a peeled and quartered onion. Toss with olive oil (or an oil of your choice), course salt, fresh ground pepper. Roast at 450deg, tossing every 10 minutes until tender.

Nov 20, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking

Kitchen reference card: where to find one?

Thanks Antilope, that first one was almost exactly what I was looking for.

I wonder why it doesn't have the conversion for beans, though? 1 15-oz can = 1/4lb dry, in my experience.

Nov 20, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking

Kitchen reference card: where to find one?

I'm looking for a nice pre-made kitchen reference card, something that I can download as a PDF and print out, maybe laminate, and stick on my fridge.

My dream ref sheet would have common conversions, common times and temperatures, units of measure, substitutions, etc.

Anyone have good source for this?

Nov 19, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking

How do you store your most oft-used recipes?

I have a handful of cookbooks stashed near the kitchen that I pull out again and again for the same old recipes (for variations, or because I forgot a temperature or a quantity).

I used to search through them every time I looked. Then I bought a small notecard box and copied down my favorites onto index cards, but that turned out to be rather annoying (writing out instructions by hand?). Maybe instead I'll buy some sticky tabs and label each page directly in the book.

So if you have a lot of cookbooks, and several recipes you go back to again and again, how do you keep them ready and convenient?

Nov 13, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking

What percentage of your cookbooks have you actually cooked from?

I know there are people that have lots of cookbooks (read eGullet sometime, there are numbers in the 6 figures). But how many of those have you actually cooked from? Do you try to cook your way through a new book you buy, or just flip through it for inspiration?

I have about 10 recipe books myself, plus a Cook's Illustrated magazine collection. My biggest success has been Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but I'm sure I've only made 1% of it by recipe count.

I have sort of a latent fantasy to cook every recipe in every one of my books, but I know it's hopeless. That's the kind of thing people make movies about, apparently.

Nov 11, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking

Cooking with regular olive oil (not extra-virgin)

I'm confused about the role of regular (not extra-virgin) olive oil in the kitchen.

I've always understood that extra-virgin is a delicate oil, the fine wine of fat, intended for lightly-cooked sauces, drizzling, and dipping. Cook's Illustrated has a few articles mentioning this, and advocating regular olive oil for sauteing, pan-frying, etc. They even said the regular stuff has a slightly higher smoke point.

And yet, every CI recipe I've seen calls explicitly for extra-virgin.

Same with Bittman - his "about oils" chapter in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian says that fine extra-virgin has delicate flavors that are wasted when cooked, but all his cooked recipes call for it anyway.

And to add to the confusion, at least in my local store, extra-virgin and regular oils are exactly the same price.

So what's the role of regular olive oil? Does it have one?

Nov 10, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking

What to do with a gallon of milk?

I have a gallon of 2% of milk that's about to expire, and there's no way I can use that much in the next few days.

So any ideas? What can you do with a lot of milk that will make something that will last long enough to enjoy?

Oct 21, 2009
joeljkp in Home Cooking