Kurtis's Profile

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Good Banh Mi and Pho in Baltimore?

Yes, from central highlands and above, but most abundant and of varieties served were in central highlands.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred – Heavenly Meringue Pastries

I would love hear others weigh in, but I find clear differences between here and ones from Paris whose I find much lighter (almost feathery), less creamy/buttery, and not heavy/dense. I wonder why...

2 days ago
Kurtis in Manhattan

Dooby's Bread Club in Baltimore

Thanks for this write up. Not a fan of their food, but I will definitely give this a try.

Ouzo Bay - Baltimore

I was in Harbor East yesterday early evening and decided to try a few things here. Ordered two grilled items: Octopus and calamari. Neither were grilled to order, and octopus was soggy -it seems they may be keeping pre-cooked ones in a container of liquid/marinate. Calamari was quite overcooked. I think it was $25 for the octopus and half that for the calamari. Any better luck with other menu items here?

Help identify this chile sauce from Szechuan House in Towson/Lutherville

I don't know what it is called, but I have tasted this there and have wondered too. It definitely has flavors of doubanjiang - salty paste of fermented bean and spices - but then has chili and the oil mixed into it. Too salty for me to consume it generously with a dish, but quite tasty.

Good Banh Mi and Pho in Baltimore?

It's a rough void to fill especially returning from abroad, and impossible to find a poor replica at the source.

Good Banh Mi and Pho in Baltimore?

Very true that these herbs you mention are far more pungently fragrant and a bit different in VN. I was also referring to a dozen or more other varieties of shaved herbs that accompanies different types of pho (not sure if this is what the op was referring to):

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920339

I have yet to see these herbs served with pho outside of VN.

China Chilcano in DC- Report

From the general manager:

"We get our Hearts of Palm fresh from Hamakua Farms in Hawaii. We get a shipment flown in every week."

This is a good news as this dish is difficult to find even within Peru where comida de selva is the specialty of the restaurant.

Fork and Wrench or Sotto Sopra

I would choose F&W for being one of a kind though their menu can be a hit or miss, and more misses lately. It's always an enjoyable evening there with friendly owner and the staff. Knowledgeable bartender with short but decent wine list.

SS's food has always been good, but not exciting or outstanding; their pasta used to be my favorite in town until Pazo's southern Italian makeover. Both of their pastas are better than Cinghiale's imo.

Fork and Wrench or Sotto Sopra

Baltimore has been my home for the past three years and I love this city very much, but I am afraid I agree with WWD in regards to the dining scene; each category of cuisine and ethnic varieties I find much better quality options (and better price at times) in the cities that sandwich us.

Little Serow in DC – Report

From my experience, BG has two different versions of som pa; one is served as crumbled fermented fish with egg (I think it's some kind of fish egg but not sure) mixed into it, and the other is served sliced in the size of sashimi. They are my favorites as well.

China Chilcano in DC- Report

Thanks for the reports.

Has anyone tried their chonta under salad menu? Original version is with fresh hearts of palm shaved paper thin shown in this link, and nutty oily flavor with just a bit of salt, oil, and squeeze of lime is memorable: http://www.rpp.com.pe/2011-04-20-iqui...

Good Banh Mi and Pho in Baltimore?

In Baltimore I like Indochine the best which has more northern Pho flavors than Mekong Delta's.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/981211

But for the most part I am afraid you are looking for them in a wrong country less maybe San Jose if you are looking for that taste from VN. Those varieties of heavenly aromatic herbs have been impossible to find, non-existent in restaurants, and equally hard to forget...

Little Serow in DC – Report

This menu looks great, especially the cockles soup and fermented fish dish. Is this menu a recurring one? Their website is slim with info. I am more interested in going here looking at this menu.

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

Would love to give this a try. As ceviche, poke seem to have evolved with fusion of Japanese influences. Wonder what it was like in original form...

Mar 10, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

This LA Times article on how crudo evolved in America:
http://www.latimes.com/style/la-fo-cr...

It was David Pasternack's/Batali Italian restaurant Esca in NYC where I've been enjoying crudos and above mentioned aged mackerel (or at least it seemed to me). Equally favored on CH for crudo in NYC is Michael White's Marea though I find Pasternack's versions much more to my liking - in their simplicity, superior quality ingredients, and consistency.

Mar 10, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics

Figs Mediterranean Cafe, Moroccan in Palisades - Report

My only opportunity for b'stilla was w/ chicken - a poor man's substitute for pigeon or squab, and still great. Seafood!?! That would require some delicate balance of temperature...

More to look forward to going there. If it is within 30 min of my reach I would be there daily for a week for sure to try things out.

Figs Mediterranean Cafe, Moroccan in Palisades - Report

This looks very promising Steve. Thanks for the report.

I am sure to try her harira soup and chicken tagine on the menu as the chef is from Marrakesh. I remember for years I was in search of good tagine while living in NYC without success - for some reason nearly all of tagines in the best of NYC's north African places were excessively sweet (not to mention poor quality mushy chicken). A dollop of harrisa mixed into harira works great on a chilly day too. Looking forward to the visit in near future.

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

Mar 08, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics
1

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

I have tried on several occasions and loved them each time. I wish I had made a batch of them for this long winter! Looks delicious.

Mar 07, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

My most recent obsession is Som Pah/Som Pla - aka Lao ceviche. It's a rice cured tilapia, typically serviced with fresh chopped garlic, galangal, peanuts, and bird eye chili. For best enjoyment, it's nice if you can take on these condiments, as chopsticked all together it is one of the best accompaniment to a cold Beer Lao on a sizzling summer afternoon. I am lucky to have a restaurant near me whose chef has this on her regular menu.

http://www.thipkhao.com/

Mar 07, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics

Let's talk about blood sausage.

Chicken Balmoral sounds delicous...

Mar 05, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics

Let's talk about blood sausage.

Had this again that night back in the rented apartment as they were generous with my request; kinda like going to heaven twice you know...

Not sure if this is a traditional bread from somewhere or their invention. Any thoughts?

Mar 05, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics

Let's talk about blood sausage.

Blood sausage bread (pictured is from restaurant Steirereck in Vienna): the bread has the texture of muffin, and the blood sausage, as silky and decadent as chocolate. Absolutely addictive stuff!

Mar 05, 2015
Kurtis in General Topics
1

Raw Fish: How do you like to eat them?

Here's a link to many different preparations:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_...

I've been enjoying Japanese preparations (most undergo some degree of aging) for most of my life, but recently I have become addicted to Italian crudos - the combination of good quality fish drizzled in good olive oil and salt seems a refreshing (change) and IMO better way of tasting at least some of the fish. I generally understood that fish served as crudo are not aged (correct me if I am wrong) but I was surprised to encounter aged mackerel in one of known crudo/Italian place in Manhattan, and while un-aged fresh mackerel I find very nice, aging does bring out best of its flavors for mackerel IMM, and wonder if this is a common/traditional practice in Italy for some of the fish that taste better when undergone a degree of aging? From online search, I do encounter mediterranean chefs aging fish before grilling, and personally I sometimes enjoy lightly salted and aged (usually 1-2 days) fish for grilling.

I very much enjoy ceviche, especially Peruvian versions. For a long time, I preferred quick marinade of less than a minute which is a modernized version, but my recent trip into the Peruvian Andes I had mackerel ceviche at a market that was marinated well beyond 24 hrs which is a common practice there and was served along with a bowl of warm broth made of of mackerel parts (variant from the coastal leche de tigre which is just cold ceviche marinade liquid served alongside). Quite delicious though not something I could eat daily.

As a Korean, I enjoy hoe as well which is un-aged fresh fish most often prepared after you pick a live one out of a tank in a restaurant or from the boat returning from a morning catch; these are usually white fish enjoyed for firm/chewy texture it retains at fresh stage (one of the better example of this is cuttlefish or squid - when sliced into slivers alive, they are crunchy and firm and not mushy and soft which is often the state at the markets). Dipped in gochujang/vinegar sauce the actual taste of the fish gets lost a quite a bit, but while trends are changing, my culture has embraced this for a very long time over the Japanese process of aging. As the process of killing the fish is different, hoe require a tank in the restaurant/stores before getting sliced and plated vs sashimi which is already killed at the market and stored at home or restaurants before being sliced and plated (again, those with more insight into this please correct me if I am off).

Vienna Trip Report - February 2015

I am going to join in on your praise for Steirereck experience, and thanks to this board espeially Sturmi for all your help in my trip last September as well; apologies for not reporting back sooner. Steirereck to us will be a life-long memory of great meal, not only for the fact that we celebrated my father's 80th b-day but the meal was exquisite all around. We were coming from equivalently rated MS restaurant in Paris a week before and both my wife and I enjoyed this experience far more.

The chef here has an excellent lightness in handling the vegetables we very much appreciated. He also seems to have wide knowledge of different cuisines and specific skills they require as we experienced on several plates. I thought the progression of food was done very well and service has right balance generosity and no-frill. And when we were thoroughly impressed toward the end of meal, they brought out what seems to be an entire herb garden on a cart when ordered the teas, one of the biggest cheese cart (5 year-old gouda was very memorable) I have encountered when it was ordered, and their bread cart in the beginning of the meal is equally impressive - I can still taste their blood sausage bread (see pic) in my memory very clearly, and I don't think this is something I could get elsewhere... (the other photo shows a projected celebratory words on the table from a hidden ceiling device)

Lastly, the overall service from cafes, small bistros and restaurants in Vienna is something we deeply appreciated and envied; they seem to achieve a balance of efficiency and warm accomodation better than any I have encountered even though by US standards - except at Steirereck - we found most places to be understaffed.

Again, many thanks.

Mar 05, 2015
Kurtis in Europe

Quick Hit at La Piquette (Across from 2 Amys)

Recent visit here was very much worth the drive from Baltimore. Their menu reads very delicisou w good quality ingredients, great vegetable/salad selections as well as varieties of protein preparations. Best of no frill/no non-sense service. This is as close a perfect "neighborhood bistro" as it gets IMO though I am sure many others including me will be happy to make the trip.

does kimchee go bad?

Very old kimchee - mookeunjee or mookji (2-5 years, usually napa cabbage type) is indeed a delicacy and you do want to know in what condition this was preserved. Well-preserved ones still retain the crunch, and color deepens with some translucence. I usually like to eat this as it is, but grilling over a wood charcoal brings out great added flavors and it is a popular condiment to bbq pork belly in Korea.

Many younger kimchee can easily become not ideal for regular consumption; left out in warm weather too long, frequent in and out of refridgerator or under suboptimal temperature. Koreans at home and in restaurants prefer to use these in their kimchee jjigae. Also, if it has addition of oysters, fermented baby shrimps or the likes then it will generally ripe faster. Good harvest year's cabbage -firmer and better water content - yields better preservation as well.

Now days one can buy kimchee at any time of the year, but a long tradition has been that at the end of fall/early winter a family makes a large batch of kimchee to be preserved in several very large terra cotta pots burried underground, and throughout the winter and into spring a family is able taste daily progression of this kimchee - in this light I find much similarity with wine/cheese. My MIL usually saves a small container each year and usually keeps them for 3 years or so (kept in a specialized refridgerator for kimchee ;), and I am forever grateful for these treats on my visits.

Baltimore Ramen

I wonder if the location is a good spot for it as I remember Five Guys across the street from the potential Toki space closed after several years of being there.

Baltimore certainly needs more competition. Thanks for the heads up!

Baltimore Ramen

Thanks for the heads up on Dooby's, and looking forward to trying them out.

I find Ten Ten Ramen to be quite good if you order well; their spicy tonkotsu is likely the best of the lot and competes well with Toki. Other food items on their menu are not as successful. Here's a thread on this place: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/973167

There's newish place Ejji Ramen in Belvedere market that has bit of Malaysian twist - three choices of different sambals to add to the ramen, along with satays (not so good) and roti canai (good). Their ramen itself leaves some room for improvement, but certainly unique offering. They also serve Laksa with ramen noodle which was decent tho not sure why they would use ramen noodles for this when they already have rice noodle available. I really like their concept, but find some inconsistencies in execution.