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jamesmasonlv's Profile

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Farewell, Foie Gras: I'm Not Sorry to See You Go

What I don't get is this. I have a strong feeling that if someone were to say "It’s only human to feel—to know it instinctively—that homosexuality is wrong", young Mr. Birdsall would have a stroke. And he'd have a right to. So would I. And I have. However, unlike the Author, I love foie gras, and will continue to eat it (thanks to the fact that it's still legal where I live). A lot. Probably frequently at Joel Robuchon. I say thee YAY, Foie Gras.

Jun 08, 2012
jamesmasonlv in Features

The End of "Ethnic"

I have never heard anyone ever say "let's do ethnic tonight." I think this problem is all in the writer's mind. On the other hand, when I was a child, the idea of "let's eat Chinese" was pretty exciting, maybe even racy. These days, my nephew doesn't think of Pho as ethnic, but as soup. And, like his uncle, he thinks of "Hot and Sour Soup" as the perfect cure for all that ails him. Ethnic? Nah. It's just lunch. And, like his uncle, he ALSO knows that Birria ALWAYS impliedly means goat. Unless you call it, say, "lamb birria."

Finally, when did Spaghetti and Caesar salad become Standard American fare? Did I miss yet ANOTHER memo? It probably happened when I tried to invite my friend to "eat ethnic" with me, and couldn't stop laughing.

Jun 08, 2012
jamesmasonlv in Features

PB & J dilemma - Please weigh in!

You know, this sometimes happens to me, and I can't abide it. If I get mayo in the mustard, or mustard in the mayo, I HAVE to remove it (with a clean spoon, mind you), and wash the spoon immediately (actually, I usually wash it and THEN put it in with the dirty implements to be washed). Until tonight, I didn't realize how scary-OCD this is. Same with crumbs in the butter (Ewwwwww!), or jelly in the PB (Oh, Gross!). So, I guess I'm not only a neurotic foodie-guy, but also pretty OCD.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

PB & J dilemma - Please weigh in!

They did make a PBnJ "slice" that was just LIKE individually wrapped cheese. It didn't even last a year. I still don't know how that product that swirled PB & Grape Jelly has survived, but enough people like it that it now comes in grape AND strawberry jam. THAT grosses ME out.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

What did your Mom always have on hand, that you NEVER do?

Try Creamed Corn over Fried Ham Steak. . . .it's amazing. I'm gonna have to try it on top of a baked potato. I can't believe I never thought of this, and I'm WILD about Creamed Corn.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

I don't know why, but I always the Frosty and Fries thing a lot better than with Vanilla. And it HAS to be Wendy's fries, or it just doesn't taste right. My BFF turned me onto this when we were in college; I would never have come up with it myself. Of course, the downside was that by the time you got home from the Wendy's run, you were out of fries, so you had to eat your burger naked. <sigh>.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

Not only doesn't it ruin the apple, it makes it fantastic. It's actually about the best thing you can do for Green Apples. We used to sprinkle Green Apples with Lime Juice, and then put some salt on them. We even used to walk to our local store to buy those cute little tiny Morton salt shakers. I miss those days.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

Thai food combines peanuts and hot chilies in almost every form you can imagine. . .which, I imagine, is why Thai food is so good.

There's also Kung Pao Chicken, Beef, and Shrimp to consider, too.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

Born and Raised in Utah, and our Fry Sauce was always Ketchup and Mayo or, depending on where you were raised, Ketchup and Miracle Whip. Sounds odd, but it tastes fantastic. Typically, you use less Ketchup if you're mixing it with Miracle Whip. And, no, we never call it Catsup (on the other hand, we never call it Mayo, either. It's "May-Nayse." Just sayin'.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

Try the Green Tabasco with your cottage cheese (or even with Cream Cheese). It's Yummo!

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

Sandwich slicing - whole vs. rectangle vs. triangle

I see that one all the time and it makes me crazy. Even more so when I hear a "Professional Chef" say "and here we have the au jus"; it makes me want to smack the table. . .how did you get to be a professional chef and not know that "au" means with and "jus" means juice? It's like when they call it MARScapone. . .it makes me crazy.

Oct 19, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

What are you a stubborn purist about?

I have tried, God knows, to eat instant potatoes, but I can't do it. In fact, I've tried the "scalloped potatoes," and the "au gratin potatoes" and hash browns, and almost every other form, but if it's anything other than a Tater Tot, I simply cannot abide potato "things" that aren't created from Fresh Potatoes, the exception being Fast Food French Fries. Since I am unbelievably Lazy, I almost never experience a Potato Gratin. Anyway, Instant Potatoes, Hurl.

A couple of other observations with respect to purism and/or NOT:

1. Real Butter: YES. Only Real Butter: YES. European Butter: YES.
2. Carbonara: No Cream. I mean I love the Carbonara-like dish with cream and no eggs that also has a bit of grilled onion in it, but that is NOT Carbonara, although it's really delicious.
3, Martinis: I really, really like a Really Dirty Vodka "Martini," but I agree that this is not a true Martini. But any Bartender who is younger than 50 or so probably wouldn't know a true Martini if it walked up and bit them on the butt, although that sounds like fun, and I plan to mention it to my next Bartender.
4. Buffalo Wings: Are a specific THING. There are all kinds of wings. But, as was noted above, only wings made in the style of Buffalo Wings ARE Buffalo Wings.
5. Caesar Salad: I KNOW that the now-famous version of the then non-famous salad is probably not authentic, but, seriously, have you ever had a Caesar Salad without Anchovy? It's insipid. It tastes ghastly. I HATE anchovy, but I couldn't eat a Caesar Salad without it. Is the story true? I've been tracking it down for years, and the best I can tell is that he MAY or MAY NOT have put anchovy into the original salad on that original night, but, it seems it made it's way in there eventually, quite apart from the Worcestershire sauce (or, if not Lea and Perrins, the Worcester sauce). And despite claims that he hated and was opposed to the addition of anchovies, and probably chased his little commis around with a big knife, the fact IS that Cardini's Caesar dressing DOES contain anchovy. I prefer to believe he's okay with it.
6. Barbecue: This one drives me nuts, because barbecue (barbeque, BBQ, etc.) of today bears little resemblance to the Barbacoa of the Taino, so getting all uppity about regional differences, and nomenclature, and naming, and whatnot seems rather foolish unless you LIVE in Pine Bluff, or High Point, or one of the many other enclaves of barbecue, in which case you should feel free to say and do any damn thing you want. I'll be there shortly.
7. Vegetables: Hate to admit it, but I LOVE canned corn. But I also LOVE frozen corn, and I double-plus LOVE LOVE LOVE Corn On The Cob. But I HATE canned peas. And I think peas like a little butter on them, unless they're creamed and served with little onions, which is a dish worthy of Zeus himself. Veggies? Hmmm. My relationship with them is somewhat strained and difficult, but we've agreed to keep seeing one another and try to work out our differences.
8. Pesto: I agree, Pesto Alla Genovese (Pesto in the style of Genoa, the place) is exactly what it is. If they MADE a specific type of Pesto in Emilia-Romagna, it would still be a pesto (Pesto Bolognese anybody?). Besides, pesto is always great. However, I also agree that when you say "pesto" people think of the green sauce with PINE nuts, not WALnuts, despite the fact that it's out-of-hand.
9. Cheesy Poofs rock. As long as that's not all I eat. And it isn't.
10. Ketchup is Ketchup. Not Catsup. And Ke Tsiap is STILL Ke Tsiap and NOT Ketchup, and I use it almost every day. YUM! Also, Ketchup is, I now know, a non-Newtonian fluid, which has far less to do with Newts than you would otherwise guess, and I will eventually be finding out about non-Newtonian fluids.

Jul 29, 2011
jamesmasonlv in General Topics

The Pathogen Swab Queen of Fast-Food Restaurants

I just want to know if the charmingly hyphenated swabber is going to pay both HER share and MY share for the increased cost of my Big Super King Princess Burger. It may only be a couple hundred dollars a month (which on my planet is legally never allowed to be referred to as "ridiculously cheap"), but it's still enough money that the Fast-Food-e-Teria is STILL not going to absorb the cost. And why should they? It's not like they every "rise above" for anything else. . .do you think they care about germs? If they weren't forced to by inspections and fines, most restaurants of any type would probably let anything at all happen and not put any kind of system in place.

Having said ALL of the above, I agree that being TOO clean prevents kids immune systems from developing as strongly as they otherwise could. I'm told I practically ROLLED in dirt when I was a kid (now, I wouldn't be caught dead with it underneath my fingernails), and it probably didn't hurt me all that much. On the other hand, if it did, how would I know?

Jul 29, 2011
jamesmasonlv in Features

Starbucks Wheels Out the Coffee Trough

Oh, for Pete's sake! Is this really what we're worrying about this week? Seriously, if Starbuck's or SBC, or, hell, LMNOP Caffee Fabulosos wants to sell a Gallon Jug of coffee, what is that to me? I buy my Venti, drink it down, and then use the energy to annoy my co-workers with my Super Energy Spike (total fun for me, and I don't even have to leave the building). There will, of course, be people who need to buy this "even bigger than huge" size because they have inadequacy issues that even a pint-plus of coffee won't fix, but that's not my issue.

I say let Starbuck's have their fun. I like the boldness. Unlike the McFast Food companies out there, they're not giving in to social pressure, or Moral Suasion, or understyled (I'm sorry, I meant MASSIVELY understyled) Dietitians proclaiming their pronouncements from Public Interest Podiums. They're saying "Huge Coffee! Get your Huge, Fatty, Sugary, Caffeine-y, totally over the top Temporarily Hot Coffee Here!" I like it. I applaud it. I'm not about to buy it, but I like it anyway.

Jan 26, 2011
jamesmasonlv in Features

Good Crab in Las Vegas?

I have to disagree with some of the postings. Not only do manhy restaurants in Las Vegas have fresh crab of all types and varieties, but Las Vegas imports more fresh seafood every day than any other city in the world. Interestingly, I am told by a purveyor of fresh crab from San Francisco that crab in Las Vegas is anywhere from 3-5 hours FRESHER than what you can get IN San Francisco, even if you get it on the Wharf! I find that amazing.

Having said all the above, you should always ask. Not ALL crab is FRESH crab, but keep in mind that all crab is required to be iced from the moment it's, um, "caught." Also, you have a better chance of getting fresh Dungeness crab than any other type (at least in this town). Absolutely truly fresh, never-frozen King Crab is relatively rare, but it does exist, and you'll pay a premium for it. If you're a fan of Snow Crab, keep in mind that it's extremely rare in town, which is fine, because it's fairly insipid in comparison to Dungeness and King. Of course, YMMV.

Do NOT despair! Good crab is available all over Las Vegas; it just depends on your willingness to go find it, and your willingness to pay. Good luck.

Jan 20, 2011
jamesmasonlv in Las Vegas

If one HAD to pick a buffet in Vegas...

I would say that, all odds being equal, and I know I'm gonna get nailed for it, I still think the overall best buffet on the strip is at the Wynn. I've eaten at almost every buffet in this town over the years, and I think the combination of really great eating options and a reasonable price make it the best deal overall. I wouldn't say that's necessarily true at lunch, but the Dinner Buffet is ALWAYS a good deal. Just about forty bucks, Freshly Steamed and chilled Alaskan King Crab legs, really really good shrimp, and the best Shrimp Shu Mai I've ever tasted anywhere (not just on buffet lines). They always have a bunch of innovative and tasty dishes, altho my friend and I, who go about once a month, always load up on crab first, and then use everything else as a follow-up. I will say that, if you don't like shrimp, crab, and other seafood, you might not be wild about it. Go and visit the Wynn Buffet. I think you'll really like it.

Jan 20, 2011
jamesmasonlv in Las Vegas