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Holiday Gift For Wife Getting Into Cookie Making

yeah we have a few industrial baking sheets and a good spatuala - but the cooling racks and silicon sheet we are lacking

Dec 07, 2012
bennyscuba in Home Cooking

Holiday Gift For Wife Getting Into Cookie Making

Ha! Probably the best suggestion!

I decided to purchase the martha stewart book - has good photos with a nice balance between classic and creative and another friend swears by it...

Chanukah is around the corner so gotta act fast! but if all goes well i'm sure more books will be in store. i think some of the other suggestions look good for once you get beyond the basics...

thanks all for the tips!

Dec 07, 2012
bennyscuba in Home Cooking

Holiday Gift For Wife Getting Into Cookie Making

also, does all the use of shortening in BC book seem odd? I'm not a baker (more a cook) but that seems off to me...

Dec 07, 2012
bennyscuba in Home Cooking

Holiday Gift For Wife Getting Into Cookie Making

Thanks for all the amazing feedback. I think i know what i'm looking for at BBB:

baking sheets, cooling racks and scoops.

the last thing is the book. I'm a bit torn btw. the betty crocker, maida heater and the all american cookie book. Is one best for both newer baker but still interesting options...

Dec 07, 2012
bennyscuba in Home Cooking

Holiday Gift For Wife Getting Into Cookie Making

Thanks for all the quick responses. To answer some questions:
(1) I don't think she will be in to decorating - she primarily likes cookies b/c they take less time and less fuss than baking other things and my guess is decorating defeats that purpose

(2) Scoop and shapes sound like a fun idea

(3) Yes I think a kitchen aid mixer may be in the pipeline at some point

Any other cookbooks recommended to start with?

Dec 07, 2012
bennyscuba in Home Cooking

Holiday Gift For Wife Getting Into Cookie Making

Hello All,

My wife has recently gotten more into making cookies and I wanted to get her a holiday "gift set" to encourage this habit! I was thinking a good cookbook and any side equipment.

As for cookbook I saw Maida Heater's cookbook recommended in other threads. But I know she also likes stuff with pictures and it doesn't seem this has it. Anything else that folks recommend that have good interesting recipes with pictures...

And is there any equipment (silicon baking sheets, cooling racks etc). Figure this is a good way to use our 20% off coupons at BBB...

Thanks all,

bg

Dec 07, 2012
bennyscuba in Home Cooking

X-mas Eve in Sedona

thanks BC - got most of the restaurant recs from your earlier review. sadly garlands seems closed for the season...

where actually coming from northern cali so will be coming in via flagstaff - any thoughts along I-40

Dec 02, 2012
bennyscuba in Southwest

X-mas Eve in Sedona

Hello All,

We will be in Sedona for 4 days over x-mas (23-27). We are staying at L'Auberge and likely plan to eat there a night or two. However I noticed for x-mas eve they have a 5 course menu for $125, which is high but fine, but there are no choices on it, i.e. both the wife and i will have to get the same thing, and that just seems unacceptable. I was wondering if there were any other places that folks would recommend for x-mas eve. it doesn't have to be anything fancy - just tasty and open!

also should we expect most things to be open on x-mas day?

in general do places need reservations or can we more "play by ear". places that look intriguing to us (we eat just about everything):
Elote Cafe, Che-ah-chi, Heartline Cafe,

thanks,

bg

Dec 02, 2012
bennyscuba in Southwest

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Wanted to thank everyone for feedback.

We got back from our Big Sur/Paso weekend and I wanted to give a quick report.

Started at Denner. By far the scenary for just sitting back. Our favorite was the Mourverde. Found it interesting that most of the '09 are recommended to open in '18 while the '10 which they were pouring are ready in '15. He said '09 is going to be a killer crop. I personally have no patience to wait but hope in 5-10 years I have the opportunity to try one of these as they are quite great now. Really curious about what they'll become.

Next, just went up the road to Oso Libre. Very friendly place - chatted with the father and son. I guess they were slammed on Saturday but were quiet on Sunday. Compared to Denner, a lot simpler with more fruit - but also clearly ready to go now.

We were caught between going to Terry Hoage and Adeliade next - equidistant from each in opposite directions. We ended up going to Adeliade figuring we may try things at a better price point first and then finish at Hoage.

Adeliade had a great vibe going - a decent amount of people but a lot of space so you didn't feel it. They were tasting about 15 different wines. A combo of new release, reserve, dessert and barrel. It was a really a great variety and felt that some of their reserves matched up to Denner. Found their whites a bit disappointing but the variety of red made up for it. Their price point I found pretty reasonable, and if I lived in the area I could see joining their club (doesn't seem to make sense to join a club that I may visit 1x yr)...

Given the variety we ended up spending close to 2 hours there and never made it to Hoage. Something for next time!

Thanks again all for the tips and happy tasting!

bg

Oct 21, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Thanks for all the discussion. Edward Sellers looks a good place to check out next to downtown. Maybe in place of Justin(?)

One other query, if we wanted to try some kick-ass wine that we weren't going to buy a bottle of but just splurge and enjoy the taste is there anywhere else you would recommend? Would that be L'Aventure (in addition to Denner - where will end up buying stuff!)?

bg

Oct 15, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Rhonely,

Thanks for the honest feedback. We definitely prefer to avoid the "factory" style wineries - why we liked our last trip to PR so much. Considering we like to buy a few bottles when we taste would any of these fall into the < $40 range. Denner is definitely our splurge place b/c we loved it so much, but we would love to find some quality in the $20 - $30 range.

Last time we were down there we weren't that impressed with Tablas Creek - much too crowded, very impersonal, and wines were only so-so. But anything else in the Rhone style would be appreciated.

Thanks,

bg

Oct 15, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

So after all the great tips (and thanks Ed for directing me to the Cali board), I think we have an itinerary for next weekend. I was curious what folks thought. As a reminder we will be coming from the south (coming from Big Sur via 46 and then heading back north to the Bay Area):

(1) Denner (have an appt at noon - but will likely try to get there earlier)
(2) Oso Libre - seems like a nice point for a good variety
(3) Pick up some food at Di Raimondos
(4) Adelaida
(5) Justin
(6) Halter Ranch (if we are feeling it)

4-5 is probably a good number for us - but I was curious if there was anything else worth squeezing or replacing...

Thanks all,

bg

Oct 14, 2012
bennyscuba in Wine

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

So after all the great tips, I think we have an itinerary for next weekend. I was curious what folks thought. As a reminder we will be coming from the south (coming from Big Sur via 46 and then heading back north to the Bay Area):

(1) Denner (have an appt at noon - but will likely try to get there earlier)
(2) Oso Libre - seems like a nice point for a good variety
(3) Pick up some food at Di Raimondos (thanks mike)
(4) Adelaida
(5) Justin

4 is probably a good number for us - but I was curious if there was anything else worth squeezing or replacing...

Thanks all,

bg

Oct 14, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Yeah that was our impression last time we were down there - we loved how chill everything was. Also liked the fact that most of the houses were architecturally interesting and not the overtop style you often see in Napa...

Since we will be there during Harvest Week is there a good reason to rethink "wanting to avoid crowds" and anything compelling worth checking out? Again this would be for Sunday, so the end of the week...

Oct 11, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Thanks - some more to add to the list..And I like that price point!

Also should have asked at the top - any recs for a good place to pick up lunch. Thinking a picnic style lunch is a good idea so something along the lines of an Oakville Grocery where you can get nice salads, sandwhiches cheeses etc. to go...

Oct 11, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

What's Harvest Festival like? We tried to avoid it when we lived in Sonoma b/c we aren't really into large crowds. We more like being able to drive through the country-side sipping good wines where you can chat a bit with the people making it...

Didn't realize Justin was sold. Has their quality changed?

bg

Oct 11, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Hello All,

Next weekend the wife and I are going to swing by Paso Robles on the way home from a Big Sur weekend. We have only been down there once 2 years ago (live in the SF Bay Area).

We plan to go back to Denner (and have an appt) which we loved.
We went to Tablas Creek last time and weren't that impressed. It was a bit crowded and the wines weren't as solid across the board.
We wanted to go to Justin but it looks like that is their harvest weekend.

We would like to find 2 - 3 more wineries to visit in addition to Denner. We enjoy:
Syrah over Zin (though one quality Zin place isn't terrible); Pinots are also great
More European style (earthy and dry over fruity and heavy)
We also appreciate oaky chardonnays and crisp acidic sauviogon blancs
We will buy bottles in the $20 - $60 range. Denner is our $60 place so would like to find some places that had quality bottles in the lower price range too.

Any suggestions for places to go would be appreciated.

Thanks,

bg

Oct 11, 2012
bennyscuba in California

Another Paso Robles Winery Question (with specifics)

Hello All,

Next weekend the wife and I are going to swing by Paso Robles on the way home from a Big Sur weekend. We have only been down there once 2 years ago (live in the SF Bay Area).

We plan to go back to Denner (and have an appt) which we loved.
We went to Tablas Creek last time and weren't that impressed. It was a bit crowded and the wines weren't as solid across the board.
We wanted to go to Justin but it looks like that is their harvest weekend.

We would like to find 2 - 3 more wineries to visit in addition to Denner. We enjoy:
Syrah over Zin (though one quality Zin place isn't terrible); Pinots are also great
More European style (earthy and dry over fruity and heavy)
We also appreciate oaky chardonnays and crisp acidic sauviogon blancs
We will buy bottles in the $20 - $60 range. Denner is our $60 place so would like to find some places that had quality bottles in the lower price range too.

Any suggestions for places to go would be appreciated.

Thanks,

bg

Oct 10, 2012
bennyscuba in Wine

Paris without reservations

Thank you for the feedback - spent the weekend emailing places and was able to secure a few good reservations so that is good. I'm crossing the fingers that our hotel will be able to get us into Frenchies or Yum 'tcha for one night...We were able to get Robouchon for Sunday night so hopefully that will a special "last night of vacation" meal...

I'm guessing that there is no paris version of OpenTable....

As an aside, is there a rationale for so many places being closed on Saturday? Sunday I can understand (though that is less common in the states now), but Saturday seems odd...I guess there is something to be said for a culture that isn't all about chasing the holy dollar (or euro)...

Apr 30, 2012
bennyscuba in France

Paris without reservations

Hello All,

The wife and I will be in paris the last weekend of May (Thu - Mon). We plan to do one fancy dinner (likely Sunday night) and dinner with some friends on Friday night where will have reservations. I was wondering for Thursday and Saturday night are reservations essential for a good restaurant? We don't need to go anywhere with a name (that will be the other two nights) but still want good parisian food.

We are usually pretty good at judging a menu and ambiance so like being able to walk up to a place and see if it looks good and with the wealth of restaurants in paris picking them out ahead of time is a bit daunting. If this is possible on a weekend, what neighborhood/street would be our best for walking around and popping in somewhere - even if that means sitting at a bar.

If this is not possible (at least not without an hour wait) that is fine but would be good to know...For example if you were visiting me in San Francisco I would say this would not be a good idea ;)

Thanks,

bg

Apr 27, 2012
bennyscuba in France

Last Minute Dining Madrid

Just got back from dinner at Dantxari - excellent food. we got there at 8:30 and were the second couple there. by 10:00 it was close to packed so good call on getting there early. Had a special appetizer of "crab lasagne". I had sea bass with wild mushrooms and the wife had a special duck with fig jam. dessert was white chocloate mousse. The food was excellent though some of the duck was a bit too rare. I asked for a "basque" wine and was given a white txakolina which was crisp with a bit of fruit and held up very well through the meal.

thatnks for the tips...still gotta figure out what our last night meal will be, but sure it will be tasty. may just go back to cava baja for tapas hopping...

bg

Feb 17, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

Last Minute Dining Madrid

that was the one i saw and liked the most - can you get in without a reservation? they don't seem to take internet reservations?

Feb 17, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

Last Minute Dining Madrid

Thanks all for the tips on wine bars - we hit a Casa Lucas and the San Miguel market tonight with great success...

As our trip winds down we were trying to think what foods we havent eaten and Basque food and Asadores popped into the head. While I see there are many good ones around, I was wondering if there were any that were good that one could safely eat at last minute (i.e. Thursday /Friday of this week (17th & 18th)). We dont mind and actually prefer the earlier side (8:30/9pm)...

thanks,

bg

Feb 16, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

Wine Tour Madrid

Thanks for the tip...We like the idea of a tasting as opposed to a simple wine bar - we've informally been doing that the past week and a half with great success!

The place we buy wine from in CA mentioned the stuff Spain exports to the US is different from what they sell here (sweeter for the US palet) and we've found that to be the case - you keep the good stuff for yourselves!

bg

Feb 13, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

Wine Tour Madrid

Hello,

I'm not sure why we didn't think of this sooner but we are wrapping up a two week trip to spain in madrid at the end of the week (Fly out Sat). We will probably have an extra day and were thinking of doing a wine/food tour (we have eaten wonderfully thanks to this board).

I was wondering if anyone had any recs for such a tour. It can either be a day trip outside the city of something within the city. We don't have to visit a winery (we live in Northern CA) but aren't oppossed either. We've loved the wines we've drunk and would appreciate a singular experience to compare and contrast the spanish wines.

Thanks,
bg

Feb 13, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

Review Hisop and Moo

Thanks all for the great Barcelona food tips. We are still traveling in Spain but wanted to write up our review of our two main meals in Barcelona. On Saturday night we ate at Hisop and on Monday we ate at Moo.

------
Hisop:
9:00 reservation. We were the first couple there but a few others walked in around the same time. Small neighborhood restaurant with only 10(?) tables. By 10:30 all the tables were filled and server commented that they don't turn over any tables. The decor is very sparse - nothing on the white walls and just a single flower on the tables. I kind of liked it but the wife didn't (she was also sitting facing the wall).

We ordered a Catalonia Red wine. I gave the server a couple of choices in the 30 Euro range and she recommended one that was her favorite. It was definitely very good and held up throughout the meal.

The menu consisted of a tasting menu (5 courses) for 49 Euro or an ala carte. Based on the ala carte the prix fix is a good deal and it appeared thats what most tables ordered - we did make one substitution which they were comfortable with.

Muse Bouches: the first muse was a pea soup with cockles. This was very good. I tend not to like cockles but the strong pea flavor really balanced it well. The second muse was a salad of cuttle fish with oyster sauce and truffles.

First Course: "After Eight" foie gras. We weren't sure what After Eight meant until the dish was served - it refered to the mint chocolates. There was a mint foam and some chocolate shavings. The idea was very creative and the flavors worked amazingly well together. Unfortunately there wasnt enough of the mint and chocolate taste. you really had to focus on the foam to get the mint. Also the piece of foie was huge. And while I enjoyed eating it all my stomach wasnt happy 3 hours later. Also it could have used a piece of toast to assist.

Second Course: john dory with artichoke soup and artichoke puree and caviar. This was probably the best main course. Great piece of fish. amazing artichoke puree wrapped in prosciutto. Definitely a dish that needs to be eaten all of its components together as individual pieces were a bit salty (prosciutto) or briny (caviar) but melded perfectly overall.

Third Course: This was the substitution. The wife had the standard pork belly with chocolate and porcini mushroom. overall very good. I substituted the Rabbit with hazelnuts and chocolate. There was a hazelnut bombom on the dish that was simply divine - so incredibly smooth.

Fourth Course: Cheese. By far the weakest. 7 cheeses served. All were unmemorable. the only thing we really liked was the quince jelly. would have preferred less cheese with more accompaniments.

Palate Cleanser: Mojito with lemon rum sorbet. Amazing. Perfect flavors. Great creativity. But I think i offended the waitress when I said this was my favorite ;)

Dessert: Green tea passion fruit jelly? Not bad but were a bit confused by this. However it was a good light dessert after a heavy-ish meal.

Service was very good - basically shared between three waitresses. No problem with the fact that we don't speak Spanish. The meal last about 2.5hrs but we also lingered at the end. The portions were quite generous and we were happy to have a 40min walk back to our hotel!

--------
Moo:
Compared to Hisop very different decor. Off the lobby of the modern ohm hotel it had a very "chic" feel to it. We got there at 9:00. A few people were seated already and about 7 tables came in after us (never filled up) which I would imagine isn't bad for a Monday night.

There are 4 tasting menus as well as an ala carte. The wife wasn't as hungry so she did ala carte while I did the "seasons" tasting menu (70 Euro). We appreciated that they let us split like that considering I had 5 courses and she had 3 - she took off my second and fourth course.

The wine menu was very extensive though impossible to navigate. I asked the sommelier where the local wines were. He pointed me to the page. They were divided by region with no description of the grape break down. I randomly picked a few under 40 Euro asked his preference and he picked one. It was very good but I think I liked the one at Hisop better - though held up well and worth the price. I get the impression the restaurants dont mark up wine like they do in the US. The one California wine he had (which I was familiar with) was appropriately priced.

Muse: snacks of croquettes - foie gras & chocolate, cheese and pear, truffle, and shrimp chip. Each was a great bite that burst in the mouth - exactly what a muse should be!

Muse 2- Carrot salad on one side and what i think was squid salad with a jelly on teh other. I did not care for the squid though its not my thing and the wife did like it. The carrot salad was very nice and had a nice bitter note in it.

First Course: (mine) (spring?) Lobster ravioli with sweet potatoes and carrots. the lobster was excellent - very generous. Very fresh pasta on the ravioli. I found the carrot & sweet potatoe puree a bit sweet for my taste. Also the dish wasn't very hot (something that happened a few times). (wife:) Leek cod soup. Great dish. in the soup was cod puree with a leek wrapped around it. Also a piece of cod filet in the soup. Again could have been a bit warmer.

Second Course: (Summer?) My second course was the leek cod soup. A bit better temp.

Third Course: (Fall?) Rice with thrusts and mushrooms. Not a risotto. Very nice and earthy. I really enjoyed. Mushrooms had a great meaty taste - dont know what kind they were. Wife had sea breem with artichoke and truffle. Generous shaving of white truffles and also a black truffle sauce. Excellent fish. Great artichokes (we had great artichokes all weak in Barcelona)

Fourth Course: (Winter?) Pork with artichoke and root veggies. Pork was medium rare which as an american weirded me out. very good hearty course. Not much to say as it felt like a very typical course - meat with root veggie hash and a nice sauce. well done.

Dessert: Chocolate and tangerines. What it sounds like - various chocolate things (cake, mousse) with candied tangerines and a cointreau sauce. Wife had musicians dessert. She had no idea what it would be and I'm not sure we know what it was but it was excellent. Had marshmallows, icecream some crunchies and other stuff. very whimsical and refreshing.

Service: I felt service was a bit off. It was much stiffer and formal than Hisop. A few times we were without wine or water in our glasses and actually had to ask for the rest of our water to be poured out. Fairly comfortable with English though Hisop was better mainly bc one waitress was Canadian.

------
Overall I preferred Hisop while the wife liked Moo. I think she ordered better at Moo and that definitely helped. The tasting menu at Moo was more composed (a definite progression) but was also 20euro more. I preferred the ambiance of Hisop, the wife Moo. There was something more intimate about the smaller room at Hisop and the fact there was no decor really made you focus on the meal while I found myself people watching more at Moo.

Both were very molecular (compared to the bay area) and I may even call Hisop moreso, though perhaps Moo used it better. Moo felt more appropriately restrained where Hisop was trying more things with not always to perfection (mint foam). If I lived in Barcelona I could see going back to Hisop b/c the tasting menu is a great deal but would not hesitate to try Moo as they changed around their menu.

Overall can't complain about the food and if this is just a smattering of the restaurants - you all are lucky.

Thanks for the tips,

bg

Feb 10, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

1 great meal Barcelona

So I've been able to get some reservations to a few of the places on your list and was curious on your thoughts. I was able to get a lunch reservation at Cinc Sentits on Saturday (1:45pm). A dinner at Hisop on Saturday night (9pm) and a dinner at Moo on Monday (9pm). I also had a dinner at Con Gracia on Saturday but will cancel. I did contact Gaig about Saturday.

Does lunch at Cinc Sentitis and then dinner at Hisop (or Gaig) seem like over kill? Is it going to be a very heavy lunch? Also will it be a 2-3 hr meal - don't love the idea of killing so much tourist time. Or is the meal "just" worth. If Gaig comes through which is better? I wasn't able to find Gaig's menu. Moo we're excited about for the Gastro aspect. I figure the rest of the time we will spend checking out Tapas bars...

Ok, now time to start researching food in Sevilla & Granada!

Thanks,

bg

Feb 01, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

1 great meal Barcelona

Thanks for all the insight - you definitely learn a lot about a culture by how they eat!

I agree, it's hard to spend 3 hrs eating when there's a beautiful city to visit...

Our trip is actually pretty flexible so if we fall in love BCN we may spend a few extra days there so Girona could be a good side trip.

Coi is def the main game in town. We can't even say if we are into MG as it doesn't really exist - as you say. Campton Place seemed to be doing some of it a few years ago but they've had so much change it's hard to say what they're doing now. Though I do have to say, I'm quite happy, SF has evolved out of the California Cusine funk the city seemed to be in a few years ago. Only so many times you can eat a perfectly seared piece of fish with steamed veggies - particularly when I can make the same thing at home!

Jan 30, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

1 great meal Barcelona

Thanx - Cinc Sentits looks really nice and I'm intrigued by Moo. From what I've read Mol Gast seems much more advanced than what we have in SF.

No I don't think it ever really makes sense to compare restaurants in that way - each course and meal is so personal. I more meant, on that level of well thought tasting menus, that focus on tasting what's local.

One more "culture" question. How common is it to do a big meal for lunch. For example, Cinc Sentis recommends booking for lunch if you can't get dinner. Typically I would shy away from that, but I'm guessing if people don't eat dinner till late, a big lunch is pretty common...

bg

Jan 30, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal

1 great meal Barcelona

PBSF thank you for the great information. I guess when I say great meal, I mean something that would be on the lines of a French Laundry - extravagant but worth it. Cuisine we are open, but I would say that I don't go to Spain to eat French food unless its a twist on French food unique to the area (if that makes sense).

I know obviously doing something like that last minute is challenging (this trip is a bit of a last minute trip)? Reading through the board their don't seem to be a shortage of worthy places, so where do you think is realistic to get into (given that contacting from US is a bit of a challenge).

Thanks,

bg

Jan 30, 2011
bennyscuba in Spain/Portugal