MGZ's Profile

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Synthetic Food?

Frankly, I am seriously torn as to how I feel about it all - both love and hate, joy and shame, utter fascination and deep disgust. I want to simultaneously embrace the technology for my own future benefits and lead the revolution to destroy it at its roots to preserve my own antiquated values.*

*Admittedly, I feel the same way about high end vodkas.

about 6 hours ago
MGZ in Food Media & News

Best advice

Yeah, I'm with you.

Food always pairs best with fun. Imagination must be fostered, but knowledge is at our fingertips.

about 6 hours ago
MGZ in General Topics

Good vs. Bad Pizza: Is there such a huge difference?

So does that mean I should start referring to it as "La pizza cartucciera"? "Pizza famiglia"?

Hey, if nothing else, you and I may have finally found something where we agree that centralized control has proven beneficial.

about 7 hours ago
MGZ in General Topics

Can you smoke a corned beef?

Hey Chief, welcome to Chowhound - and thanks for adding to this conversation. There are a couple of ancillary questions we've considered over the years, your answers to which might help provide insight for future 'hounds looking to try this dish. First, do you soak, repeatedly soak, or simply rinse your briskets prior to smoking to reduce salinity? Second, do you apply any sort of seasoning or rub prior to the cook?

Personally, I'm still ok with just a thorough rinsing. Earlier this summer, I experimented with side by side points, one soaked for an hour, and one rinsed for several minutes. It seemed the rinsed meat was preferred by the "tasters", but, in fairness, it was also the fattier slab.

As to seasoning, I have come to believe that ground chiles, black pepper, and turbinado sugar comprise the ideal rub, but there are certainly fans of a more "pastrami-like" application. I'm a fan of the bark, is probably why. That's also the main reason I almost never employ the crutch, that and the fact that it somehow feels like cheating (kinda like spending too much time on Facebook with an old college sweetheart - technically not a rule violation, but something about it just does't seem right).

Oh, and then there's mop sauces . . . .

about 7 hours ago
MGZ in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Good vs. Bad Pizza: Is there such a huge difference?

It never hurts to try . . . .

about 22 hours ago
MGZ in General Topics

Good vs. Bad Pizza: Is there such a huge difference?

Considering that old joke, one can't help but wonder when looking at a pie from CiCi's, if masturbation counts as sex.

Portofino's - Tinton Falls

Don't panic 'til she starts dotting her i's with those little, blue hearts . . . .

1 day ago
MGZ in New Jersey

Good vs. Bad Pizza: Is there such a huge difference?

"I'm fortunate to spend my time in the corridor between NYC and New Haven so good pizza is never far."

Ahh, yes. The northern loops of the Pizza Belt. That stretch, roughly following I-95, and continuing to the City of Brotherly Love where you have no one but yourself to blame when settling for mediocre pizza. Pedants can argue that it's the traditions, the demographics, the cake in the bottom of the ovens, the Mafia-owned suppliers, the way the owner sweats near the ovens and pronounces "gabbaghoul", or, of course, the water. Regardless, the truth is, if you've spent any significant portion of your life inside the belt, you know that there is a chasm between good pizza and bad.

Now, that's not to say that there are not great pizzas to be had elsewhere. In some ways, the 95 corridor's effect has been stretched. There are great pies to be had in Boston. Baltimore and DC are no longer the pizza wastelands that made me think wistfully of hopping on Amtrak to fill the void during my "learnin' years". There's even terrific pizza to be enjoyed in places where the salt spray in the air comes from the Pacific.

Moreover, I'm from the school of thought that there can be joy derived from the regional pizzas in the center of the Nation. Sure, St. Louis and Chicago styles may merely be cousins to those of New York or Naples, but, that doesn't mean they can't be great in their own right. I mean, Miley's not Miles and Britney's not Brahms, but sometimes they're sure to make you smile and put a little spring in your step.

Though I'm not a purist, I am still prone to jaded opinion. Bread and melted cheese can and should be a thing of beauty - and beauty oft resides in each of our eyes. Nevertheless, beauty, like mozzarella, is a tough thing to stretch from coast to coast, especially when it travels in a box bearing a corporate brand and is designed for shareholders not slice-holders. That, I'd say, is the toll road to bad.

1 day ago
MGZ in General Topics

Portofino's - Tinton Falls

C'mon. What's the harm in planting such a seed in a father's head, right? Probably don't want to get caught looking through her purse for a bunch of singles though.

Sep 29, 2014
MGZ in New Jersey

Portofino's - Tinton Falls

"Not sure if she over-heard the stripper portion of if that was just my daughters observational commentary."

Maybe they simply work together? You know, that RBC education paying off?

Sep 29, 2014
MGZ in New Jersey

Is it too soon to talk about Thanksgiving?

I'm glad to see you're still having fun seeking your path with your passion, my friend. Your concoction sounds terrific - bet it would work great even just for a soda on a sunny afternoon.

Sep 29, 2014
MGZ in Home Cooking

Drink / liquor prices not advertized at the bar

"[H]istorically, bars have rarely had price lists."

You're correct, but there are two developments that suggest such practices may need to be changed as well.

First, consider the increase in the number of spirits generally available. I mean, the days of gin selections being a choice between the rotgut on the rail and Beefeater are long gone. Pricing isn't even done as a simple split between "rail" and "call" anymore - with varying tiers of "premiums" available. Getting a tab with a $35 slap for that ounce and three quarters pour of some scotch that caught your eye can be pretty blindsiding. I'd say it's often more comparable to considering wine offerings now then the days when "two fingers of rye" was all one needed to mutter.

Second, drink costs have outpaced inflation as the cocktail renaissance has flourished. I still remember smarting the first time a twenty didn't cover two martinis. Today, that's basically the norm once happy hour's over. Bottle prices don't appear to have doubled and tripled, nor has the amount of labor involved in stirring a 4 to 1.

Sep 29, 2014
MGZ in Spirits

Crabbing, Fishing, Hunting, etc. in NJ

In the late 70s, the Miss Barneget Light was the only big boat my towheaded, lowercase self was allowed to drop lines off of.

Sep 27, 2014
MGZ in New Jersey

Crabbing, Fishing, Hunting, etc. in NJ

I think mhujm could still have some fun dropping some chicken backs into the river. Weather's nice, water's still warm, I think we've still got one more full moon until the season's really done - at least as far north as Exit 98.

As to advice, to the newbie, I'd say nothing more than that the patient profit. Be slow until you see the white belly and fast as hell with the net. Good Luck!

Sep 27, 2014
MGZ in New Jersey

Minimum Wage Impact on Restaurant (especially FF) Prices

"To compare to the robber barons misses a significant difference...income tax."

Same flaw noted a couple minutes ago. Wealth and income are not the same thing. Your income that you've worked so hard to earn is being returned into the economy - either through your taxes or your spending. Ever accumulating wealth is not.

Sep 27, 2014
MGZ in Not About Food

Minimum Wage Impact on Restaurant (especially FF) Prices

"But in the AR case it was the "1" asking for money from those less wealthy which is the exact opposite of today where it is the less wealthy asking for the funds from the more wealthy."

I'm afraid I understood your point, it's just not correct. The problem remains your interchanging wealth and income. In the case of the example I gave, I'll make it over simple for clarity.

"1" has land (wealth*).
Many take land.
Many distribute land amongst themselves.

Based upon what you've divulged, I can empathize with why your perspective and belief structure is focused upon income and taxation. I was once unmarried, without dependents, renting an apartment, making a scoch over 20k a month, and this was in in the days before the Bush Tax Cuts. I didn't want to pay half my money when I had blisters from my own bootstraps. Perfectly understandable, but far from objective

In fact, it's this power of the subjective that ties the whole subthread back into the OP's inquiry. Economics, as a soft science, tends to fail when in steps out of the classroom, because it can no longer be restricted to "the facts". If it could, there would actually be an objectively correct answer to the original question posed and we'd never see another global financial crisis. To put it another way, there is only one square root of pi, but you can slice the pie anyway you like.

PSRaT, johnb, and others have listed a great number of the factors that comprise the facts, but there still remain other "imponderables" not mentioned. For example, how much of the downward pressure on the franchise owners is the dividend paying parent corporation willing to alleviate? If the NLRB continues to find McDonalds to be a "co-employer" does the answer to the preceding question change? What other subjective, human decisions must be foreseen?

*Income may be derived from land, but it is always of lesser value than the wealth of the asset itself. No market permits one to rent a property for its purchase price after all.

Sep 27, 2014
MGZ in Not About Food

Minimum Wage Impact on Restaurant (especially FF) Prices

Actually, I'd say you've gotta scratch a little deeper than the "taxation without representation" speil. Those were primarily transactional taxes, not income. At bottom, the Crown's wealth was what was desired - the land itself. That was the focus of the redistribution - they took true ownership of the real estate through violent revolution.

Perhaps the most famous, last minute edit ever was telling. When Jefferson agreed to delete "property" and substitute "happiness" in the Declaration, it not only served a vague Enlightenment notion, it became politically more veiled and palatable.

Sep 26, 2014
MGZ in Not About Food

Minimum Wage Impact on Restaurant (especially FF) Prices

Yeah, I avoiding opining on the OP's original issue since it's all too speculative. Throughout this thread, there is mostly just theory and little of it accounts for all of the variables. For example, even spite will come into play eventually. I realize there is some limited empirical evidence as well. The NewYorker (9/15/14), for one, points out how high the wages paid in Denmark are and that a BigMac only costs thirty-five cents more. I kinda think nobody will know until everybody knows.

Sep 25, 2014
MGZ in Not About Food
1

Minimum Wage Impact on Restaurant (especially FF) Prices

"I love the new PC name for Communism, wealth redistribution."

There is certainly nothing new about the concept of "wealth redistribution" - or the phrase. Its articulation long predates Marx or contemporary notions of "political correctness". The action is basically an inevitability at some point in all human civilizations. Hell, wealth redistribution was the underlying motivation for the American colonists assertions of independence from the British crown. The only real question is, as a society, do we gently permit controlled redistributions periodically through agreed upon practices, or do we wait for the chaos that ensues after too much consolidation.

The good news, for folks paying forty percent of their income in taxes, is that they don't have to worry too much as they haven't accumulated enough wealth to really be "at risk". Income like that requires some form of labor, not merely the simple multiplication of wealth that follows from just possessing wealth. Passive, effortless income of that ilk is taxed at a much lower rate.

The conversation on the topic is more open right now for a few reasons. The recent global recession, the rapidity at which wealth is being accumulated in a few hands globally, and the recent release of Thomas Picketty's book (which, regardless of what one might think about the conclusions drawn, is very well researched and presented - even if somewhat painful to wade through at parts).

As to communism and capitalism, they are simply concepts that establish the outliers on a scale - the thesis and antithesis of the dialectic. Neither has ever actually existed, at least not in any of our lifetimes. Societies have always functioned on some point of synthesis. They have to, given the fact that physical, sociological, and psychological realities trump economic ones.

Taste aversion to alcohol?

Researchers from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently performed a genetic study and concluded that "[h]ow people perceive and taste alcohol depends on genetic factors, and that influences whether they 'like' and consume alcoholic beverages, . . . ." See, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...

(Un)fortunately, I appear to have a lesser recognized gene that makes booze taste like sunshine, falling in love, hitting a walk off home run, and your grandmother's world famous, Sunday gravy, all rolled into one.

Has Home Cooking Slowed Down?

I was actually thinking that the whole site had a reduction in posts. Well, except for the three year old, Chow Feature on the worst fast food places. That sure seems to have received a great deal of attention recently - albeit from first time posters. http://www.chow.com/food-news/80682/w...

Sep 24, 2014
MGZ in Site Talk
2

Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists

"If no one challenged bullshit or intellectual dishonesty, well, that's all we'd have."

Well put. Particularly poignant in an age where people are being paid to post content designed to distract and deceive.

I kinda see a lot of it as akin to spending a day loathing and thinking, "what an idiot" about the guy at the table next to yours, then sliding down the dinosaur, hanging out, and killing the better part of a bottle of gin together with your feet on the same brass rail. Being a zealous and effective mouthpiece doesn't require being an asshole or taking things too personally. Generally speaking, the arbiter will spot the difference and that's the only opinion that's not yet set and ultimately matters.

Sep 24, 2014
MGZ in Food Media & News

Ghost Peppers - what to do with them?

Dude, do you ever freeze your chiles? Over the years, I've come around to that as my preferred method for preservation, but I don't harvest nearly as many as you do. I realize the shelf life of dried is greater, but I find freezing lets the pods hold onto their other flavors better - which seems to inure to the benefit of the ultimate taste of any sauces I make.

This year, I managed to get one Trinidad 7 Pot and one Carolina Reaper plant to grow from seed to production (non luck at all with the Scorpions - my thumb is, at best, "olive drab"). So far, I have only harvested one 7 Pot, but there is more fruit on each plant. Having the inquisitiveness of a twelve week old kitten, I tasted a toe nail sized slice from the center of the pod. Holy Shit!

Sep 24, 2014
MGZ in Home Cooking

Ghost Peppers - what to do with them?

If you did that with one dried bhut in a normal sized coffee mill, you'd wind up with maybe 4 to 6 ounces of salt? It's capsaicin level would be outstanding. I'd think that then cutting the result with fine sea salt, say adding another 6 to 8 ounces, might result in a more usable product - albeit still quite hot.

Also, danny, if you do try it, after grinding the chile(s), you might want to cover your nose and mouth before opening the mill. The dust and vapors will still make your eyes tear, but they won't render you incapable of finishing the task at hand.

Another idea is to simply cut slits in a chile and bury it for a couple weeks in a zip lock bag full of fine sea salt. I've done this with habaneros to satisfying results, but, having treated it as a bit of a lark, would be hard pressed to try and offer measurements more accurately than suggest one bhut and a bit over half a gallon bag of salt. After the chile is removed, leave the bag open a couple days to remove any remaining moisture.

Sep 24, 2014
MGZ in Home Cooking

Red Bank Redux

I'm glad you enjoyed your bagels, Heidi. I sometimes wonder if some of the old school places I cherish are still actually as good as I remember or if the taste of their wares simply benefit from romanticized reminiscence still seasoning my palate (sorta like why it's never a really good idea to recommend the food at a place you've only tried when incredibly hungry or terrifically stoned - "Dude, you gotta try the peanut butter, salt carmel brownie at the Krauzers off Ryders Lane. Oh, and make sure you get extra nacho cheese sauce on it . . . .")

Nevertheless, since you enjoyed BO,* I'm gonna leak a bit of doughy deliciousness closer to home: the baguette at Massuto's Market in Wall. Actually, all of their breads are excellent and have become pretty much the only ones I will bring home. I'm not sure about everyday, but I do know that the loaves seem to be put out at around 11 am on Sundays and thus are wonderfully warm when I go in at 11:05 (give or take). The tip that sticks out of the bag is a fine reward for being the one who goes to pick it up, and should never still be intact when you pull in the driveway. (I will confess that I actually hesitated to fully disclose the foregoing, out of fear that I might let the cat too far out of the bag, but, after all, what fun is there in being a 'hound if there aren't a bunch of cats to chase around.

* He He He. Sorry, I've still got a bit of an eleven year old boy in me.

Sep 19, 2014
MGZ in New Jersey

Sweet Jesus: Whole Foods No Longer Getting Brillat-Savarin Due to FDA?!

"I don't really agree too much of the time but you're good to have around here."

You don't need to agree with the message, but you certainly have to a lot of respect the messenger and the manner in which his message is consistently presented.

Sep 19, 2014
MGZ in Cheese

Wasabi: Why invest in 'the hardest plant to grow'?

Cool. Thanks for posting that link. I'd long wondered just how hard could it be to start raising the plant commercially in the US and couldn't imagine that there wasn't some decent amount of demand for it.

Sep 19, 2014
MGZ in Food Media & News

Is it too soon to talk about Thanksgiving?

You're welcome. You can see the rum's evolution and instructions in this old thread:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/551635

Sep 18, 2014
MGZ in Home Cooking

Is it too soon to talk about Thanksgiving?

That's the spirit, my friend. Bless you!

Thanksgiving is the ultimate holiday. Four days of celebrating gluttony. An excuse to obsess over wonkish details of ingredients and preparations without anybody thinking it's all that weird. Cocktails at 11 am. 'Alice's Restaurant' on the radio at Noon. A table covered with desserts met with a sheepish chorus of, "I'm just gonna have a little slice of each." Come on, how can that not bring tears of joy to food geek nation?

OK. Sure, like all great things, there's a few potential downsides. Too many dishes to fit in the sink. A bitchy aunt who drinks too much of the boxed wine she brought and won't let up with the "clock is ticking" bit. Dad passed out, pants unbuttoned, in his Lay-Z-Boy, snoring and farting loudly enough to make it hard to hear the Lions game. But, come on, those are small prices to pay for an extra-long weekend, a plateful of stuffing and mashed potatoes doused with gravy, another chance to make the ultimate turkey sandwich, and the glee of that inevitable moment, near the end of the meal, when someone exclaims, "Oh dear, I forgot to bring out the cauliflower . . . ."

As for me, this year's prep is well underway. The rum infusion (fig, cinnamon, vanilla) is almost ready to strain. The Hatch peppers for the apple pie were roasted last month. Over the summer, I think I figured out just how cool grilled green beans can be.

Of course, there's more to do, and it's nice to have others' help. Mom's ordering the turkeys (one fried, one roasted). Brother's agreed to be in charge of the wine. Nevertheless, I still have an excuse to cure and smoke some bacon; maybe take a train to The City, goof around and pick up some cheeses. You know, just generally revel in being in love with all things eat and drink.

In the end, Thanksgiving, as the name makes no pretense of hiding, only asks one thing in return from a 'hound. So, give a little thanks. I, for one, am pretty grateful every year that we all get to bark, chase our tails, and play in this little yard.

Sep 18, 2014
MGZ in Home Cooking
1

Is it too soon to talk about Thanksgiving?

It's the holiest day of the year. I start thinking about it on Black Friday.

Sep 17, 2014
MGZ in Home Cooking