Will Owen's Profile

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Taix - 10% more effort needed

Last time we were there both in-laws were still alive and fairly perky, so it would have been early 2009 at the latest. Maman was a Parisian until 1949, Papa had been to Taix when it was still near downtown, so this was the sort of "French" they were familiar with. Maman always defaulted to Moules Frites no matter what else was on the menu, as I tend to default to Steak Frites, and we both found our dishes satisfactory; though I agree that the fries would look more at home next to a burger, they were cooked properly.

We have not been back since, though not so much because of its status as a genuine throwback as the fact that we just don't eat like that anymore as a rule. And if we do crave French, Bistro de la Gare is much closer to home, and though the menu is limited the cooking is more careful.

Aug 18, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

How long will mustard keep in the fridge?

It will never be "bad" in any dangerous way, but mustard loses freshness very quickly in the first month or so, then goes slowly downhill from there. My late father-in-law was a mustard connoisseur and the first importer of Pommery mustard into the U.S. Later, when he learned that Trader Joe's Dijon mustard is packed to order and never more than a few weeks old on the shelf, he switched to that exclusively. If I were the one in your dilemma I'd chuck the mustard and buy fresh.

Aug 18, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
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What do you eat when you don't know what you want?

If it's mealtime, eggs or canned soup or leftovers. If it's just an urge to nosh, I like to peel off strands of mozzarella; if I feel a bit fancy I'll dip them in peanut butter.

Aug 18, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Just ate lobster for the first time

The last time I had real Maine lobster was over 40 years ago, when a couple I worked with bought a house in the Santa Cruz Mountains that had been a retreat of some sort, and had an outdoor fireplace and cauldron, plus a giant cable-spool table with a ball-bearing lazy susan. Then someone said "Lobster feast?" and we pitched in $15 apiece for live ones flown across the country. I paid double so my California-born girlfriend could have her first one all to herself. We had at least three in the crowd who'd done this before, so they came out perfectly cooked, tender and sweet. I think I ignored everything else until I'd dug out the last buttery shred, then had corn and salad for dessert. Man, it's been too damned long …

Aug 18, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Bacon

I'm tired of the obsession, not so much the bacon itself. However, yesterday I got one of the regular email ads from Early's Honey Stand in Tennessee, and this one was pushing their NEW CHOCOLATE-COATED BACON! Okay, I thought, that is a sure sign of the Apocalypse … I don't mind chocolate-covered bacon, have even enjoyed a piece or two, but to add a candy coating to good dry-cured and hickory-smoked bacon is to my mind akin to putting whitewalls and a Continental Kit on a Ferrari.

Aug 15, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
1

Dashboard Changes – How Do I Make This Work?

And, for the record, I am not Pinterested, I Tweet not, and there's enough damn clutter on Facebook already.

Aug 14, 2014
Will Owen in Site Talk
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Dashboard Changes – How Do I Make This Work?

All of a sudden there is no Reply option in the comments, and the one comment field tells me whatever I write will be voted on by the "committee" – Where did my old Chowhound go? And why?

Aug 14, 2014
Will Owen in Site Talk

How to make chicken salad?

In my experience there are two schools of thought on chicken salad, both tending to be a bit fanatical: the breast-only gang, who consider dark meat to be cheap and vulgar and not fit for such a delicate dish, and those who are disappointed if the rich juicy thighs etcetera have been excluded. You can probably guess where my sympathies lie!

The best chicken salad I've ever had was offered at a very fancy equestrian event in Tennessee from a spread put out by the local Junior League, in spite of which it DID contain both kinds of meat. It was cut into a mostly uniform and rather larger-than-usual dice, with finely-chopped celery, some herbs I'm not remembering, and just enough good (possibly homemade) mayonnaise to bind it, served on a white bread that was not gotten at Kroger. It was easily the best $3.50 I've spent on a sandwich. Twenty years later I can still almost taste it, just not well enough to place the herbs …

Aug 11, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
2

Your Favorite Meat or Protein?

Typically, whatever's in front of me, though given two seconds to making a choice I'd say pork. But which would I rather have really – suckling pig? Capon? Goose? Barbecued mutton? Turkey I can take or leave, chicken is always welcome, but ducks, geese and capons are the birds that most easily seduce me. I'd rather have a merely okay steak than a similarly ordinary pork chop, but would take a slow-braised pork shoulder butt over a standing rib roast most days, if offered the choice. And I might kill for a rabbit, (Midwestern) squirrel or young raccoon brown-braised as Mom used to make. Or a platter of fried bluegill, which leads us into seafood (and lakefood and creekfood), of which I've never had so much as to get tired of it, though tilapia and the like are as boring as turkey.

Aug 11, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
1

MEAT DONENESS -- then and now

@ sandylc: Marshall, the next actual town south of Paris. Our shared Big City was Terre Haute IN.

Cottage fries is what we had, referred to us simply as "fried potatoes" – peeled, sliced and fried in lard or Crisco, usually, sometimes with onion. My mom always made hers with cold boiled potatoes, a big improvement.

Aug 11, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

MEAT DONENESS -- then and now

"Steak" in our house was chuck or top round, with salt, pepper and flour pounded into it with the edge of a plate and then fried. Then at some point when I was in high school an old friend of my dad's up in Paris, IL, who owned a couple of grocery stores there, bought the Edgar County Fair Grand Champion steer, and after a suitable interval for dry-aging invited us up for a steak dinner. My mom and Mrs. Curl manned two pans each on two separate ranges, one pan each of steaks and one of cottage fries. I have no memory of the degree of doneness, only that it was the best beef I'd ever put into my mouth and I had TWO of them, along with the fries and a big plate of fresh-picked green salad.

I was still growing into adult cookinghood when I met my first wife, a woman who insisted on sampling raw hamburger before buying any, and who liked her meat deep pink in the middle. #2 would eat anything she liked with no demands except that it be cooked and she could chew it. The current and final Mrs. O famously wanted her meat cooked just enough so that a good vet could have the animal back on its feet, right up until she decided to be vegetarian. As for me, I like a bit of char on the surface and a bloody middle for steaks, just pink in the middle for burgers, and I know why: few burgers have any flavor when they're still cool in the middle, but with a bit more cooking start to taste like real beef if the meat's of good enough quality.

Aug 09, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Wexler's Deli - Yesterday

I don't always agree with his assessments, but "clueless" will never be a word I'd consider applicable to J. Gold. First of all, clueless writers don't get Pulitzers. And the man has eaten in damn near as many places in Europe and the Americas as Tony Bourdain. Nor have I ever seen him use any sort of mindless mindless catch-phrase as "hopeless," "ridiculous" or "clueless" to describe any chef, cook or eating establishment, preferring to leave that sort of thing to Yelpers and their ilk.

Aug 09, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area
5

Call it something else, but please don't call it a margarita.

Didn't know it was old, but I'm pretty sure most small-town bars in '30s Illinois were no more likely to have egg white on hand than they are now. As the most common "mixed drinks" in those parts have but two ingredients and only rarely three, I would expect that a request for egg white in one's whiskey sour in, say, the American Legion bar in Marshall IL might well be met by a suggestion that you should go back to Chicago.

JMF, I have to say that "sissy drink" is to me a category that includes anything frothy whether I like it or not, the Ramos Fizz being an example of one I do like. And the 1886 sour was quite well-made and nicely balanced; it just wasn't what I had in mind, nor what I'm in the mood for when I ask for one.

Aug 09, 2014
Will Owen in Spirits

Call it something else, but please don't call it a margarita.

It's one that snuck up on me; I ordered a whiskey sour at the usually reliable 1886 Bar in South Pasadena and got this frothy sissy drink. Drank the damned thing out of curiosity, but one is enough.

Aug 08, 2014
Will Owen in Spirits

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

Sharuf, it was the refrigerated fresh tortellini, not the dry kind. Juice from the tomatoes and the marinade is enough to cook it in usually, but I've thrown in some white wine from my glass when I thought it might need some.

The TJ marinated artichokes are very young hearts with a bit of stem and some tender leaves, though I do check for any that might be papery.

Aug 08, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Fun With Marinated Artichokes

Sorry to be so slow, but I get mine at my neighborhood Food 4 Less. I'd imagine they're at Latino markets too, as it's a Mexican brand (Huerta).

I made that mac'n'cheese for company last night and they went through it like Sherman through Georgia. The recipe is on the Home Cooking Board – search for "Low-Carb Mac & Cheese."

Aug 08, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Call it something else, but please don't call it a margarita.

As a lover of drinks my daddy would've drunk when young – 3:1 martinis and the like – I'm finding more flexibility among bartenders now than thirty years ago. I remember one very good but very young one who almost broke into tears when I insisted on enough vermouth in my martini to be an actual ingredient, rather than a quick rinse. We were in a very hip club the other night and I asked the server to bring a very simple whiskey sour, 1 pt simple + 2 pts lemon + 3 pts rye, on the rocks. "No egg white?" she asked, eyes wide. "NO egg white," I said. It was so good I had two.

Aug 08, 2014
Will Owen in Spirits

Should spaghetti sauce be heated to taste good?

The closest to that I know of was a standard offering in the area around Brindisi when I was there. On the plane home I sat with two sisters from Bari who explained the process of cutting up fresh tomatoes and letting them drain, then heating oil, adding and stirring chopped garlic for several minutes, then doing the same with the tomatoes just until they go soft. Add the strained juice and salt to taste.

Of course if you want an uncooked sauce that has no tomatoes anywhere near it, there's always pesto! That would probably make even this fake "pasta" taste good.

Aug 02, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

What would be in your perfect picnic basket?

Cold roast pork loin sandwiches from a good fat heirloom hog, on homemade white bread with butter, a smear of mustard and some thinly sliced sweet onion. My family's potato salad (cubed boiled russets, boiled egg, onion, homemade mayonnaise and some dill), fresh greens to lay it on. A salad of chunked heirloom tomatoes done caprese style with chunks of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil cut in a chiffonade, dressed with just salt, pepper, and a plain vinaigrette. Some more bread with cheeses for nibbling before and after, grapes and cherries and stuff (surprise me!), a few crisp beers (such as Stella or Beck's) and – just to let you know this is fantasy – some unlabelled rosato from a small town in Puglia, still a bit young and fizzy, in a liter bottle with a crimped-on metal cap.

Aug 02, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
1

Wexler's Deli - Yesterday

The usually reliable J. Gold had what looks like it could be the same photo with his Wexler's article today. I wonder if those guys know who all the writers are and save the good stuff to hand-cut extra thick for them, as Jonathan waxed poetic about its texture and flavor.

I haven't eaten at Belcampo yet, but Mrs. O brought me home a fine piece of pork (coppa, it was called) which I pan-braised and ate for dinner one night when she was out. Not only was it tender and succulent, it had a pork flavor that I have not tasted in at least fifty years. Here I'd been thinking it was just my old taste buds, but no – it's been the pork itself. This is the pork of my childhood, though at prices that would have bought a good restaurant meal for a whole family then!

Aug 02, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Crossroads Kitchen - Pasta Bolognese

Can't speak for Crossroads, but I've managed to make some pretty convincing "meat" sauce, as well as chili, with the Beefless Ground Beef from TJ's. Careful use of herbs and a good-quality vegetable oil, plus such things as using good rich tomatoes and shallots instead of onion can give a meaty presence to the sauce. Gentle frying and slow cooking are important too, but better stop now or this'll get transferred …

Aug 02, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Dulan’s On Crenshaw -- Pass the Pork Chop

What's the cornbread like? I think you know my prejudices …

Aug 02, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

I hate it when I don't know how to pronounce a food's name in a restaurant

I was thinking maybe it might be a "solution in search of a problem" too, since though I can't speak Italian, French or Spanish I know their spelling/pronunciation rules and can order off a menu. Well, goody goody for me … until I get a Vietnamese or Thai menu, then PLEASE send me that app! I've been lucky so far in that servers have been politely helpful, and heaven knows there's no real shame in not knowing how to pronounce something in a language with which you are totally unacquainted, but it would be nice to skip that moment, especially if I really learned how to say the word so if I liked the dish I could order it unaided in the future. Better yet, if I found a menu on line I could rehearse it up front!

Aug 01, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
1

Call it something else, but please don't call it a margarita.

All us old poops, gather 'round … I've never wanted to stand in the way of progress, social change, political change (if it's FORWARDS!), but tell me you have a dog of each gender, or use "indifferent" to mean "apathetic," or call even a glass of vodka with a brief spray of vermouth a Martini and you will instantly arouse my Inner Curmudgeon. I've been like that most of my life, but now that I'm old enough to be a real curmudgeon it's become a lot easier.

Unfortunately, even some authentic Mexican places we've been in recently, including some whose actual margaritas are superb, have added such atrocities as banana or pineapple "margaritas" to their menu. Time to get going with the torches and pitchforks …

Aug 01, 2014
Will Owen in Spirits
6

Favorite sushi right now? With low price as a consern.

When Papa-in-law was still among us he loved to take us to Frying Fish in Little Tokyo because it was about as cheap as he was, and he liked the fish. So did we. It's been several years, so I don't remember prices (and didn't usually pay anyway), and of course the tariff will have gone up some, but I remember his looking fretful one day when I added one more plate to my $16 pile.

Aug 01, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Dulan’s On Crenshaw -- Pass the Pork Chop

I'm betting that pork chop and its gravy with those mashed potatoes would make the angels sing. And the greens.

The only thing Roscoe's has charmed me with was their mac'n'cheese, and that's been really good only sometimes. When Mrs. O is out of town week after next I'm going to see what Big Mama's can do, but the best "soul food" I've found so far in Pasadena (fried chicken excepted) came off my stove, and that's just everyday Illinois/Tennessee cooking.

Aug 01, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area
1

Pureeing the Myth of Sriracha Sauce

For the record, this American has added a combo of Best Foods and Sriracha to his list of Things to Put On Meat Before Roasting. Very good on both pork and lamb chops. I wasn't aware of a commercial blend, but while I generally make my own I could see packing a jar of this in the picnic basket for hot dogs and/or burgers

Jul 30, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Fruit. Cake?

My granddaughter just turned six, and I know she would have been enchanted by this and her mom would have loved to make it. In fact I'm going to send her the link right now.

Jul 25, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Fruit. Cake?

I got "404 not found."

Jul 25, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Attention Chefs: Can we all agree that bacon is over?

Bacon itself? HELL no!! Bacon craze? Oh, I hope it's over. It was fun and then it was silly and then it got tedious. Like those books that show 187 sexual positions: why? I say three's plenty unless you do it eight times a day and bore easily. Since a household of two with one vegetarian can use only so much bacon anyway, but in nothing to be shared unless friends come over, the bacon-wrapped hot dog and the chocolate-coated stuff (at $20 for five pieces!) at the fair are as loony as I get. And even though I adore the stuff I do not want any in my hamburger, thanks all the same.

Jul 25, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
2