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What are your favorite inexpensive but tasty American whiskies?

James E. Pepper Rye 1776 sells for about $25 here in Massachusetts and really packs a wallop of taste for the dollar.

Apr 09, 2013
Scortch in Spirits

Allston Super 88 gets new Banh Mi place... or does it?

Sorry I wasn't completely clear on that- still, I think I did a better job that the owners of the place have at making you aware of it!

Sep 26, 2012
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Allston Super 88 gets new Banh Mi place... or does it?

Last week, while passing by the Super 88 in Allston, I saw a banner announcing the opening of a new place focusing on banh mi. Could someone be daring to take on the dominance of Pho Viet in the house? I was intrigued, of course, and on Friday I headed down for lunch to find the counter storefront, which has long been a revolving door of various food businesses, now sporting numerous pastries in its cabinet and an array of sandwich fixin's in it's steam table.

As I approached the counter to check out the selection, a young man offered his service nervously. I asked about a menu and he stated that they weren't ready yet. I then inquired about the possibilities and he awkwardly (it should be noted, not due to any lack of English language skills) suggested a few possibilities. I ordered a pork trio of ham, salami and roast pork. Evidently, someone had placed an order before me (where they had been and why the young man had not been preparing it already is one of the start of the mysteries to come) so i watched as he prepared their sandwich, a beef, by first toasting/warming the roll in an oven and then awkwardly (there's that word again!) assembling the ingredients from the seemingly disorganized array of wells on the steam table.

The beef looked interesting, so I requested on of those as well - figuring I'd split them half and half for lunch and save the rest for later or to share at work. Once he had finished with the previous customer's meal (she had miraculously appeared out of the seated patrons to grab her banh mi) he began in on mine with the same lack of confidence in the activity at hand. Much futile lifting of covers over the wrong items and searching about. In addition, he had to cut fresh chilies for the sandwiches - something that surely should have been tended to in the copious time before my arrival. It was obvious that food service was not in his blood.

Meanwhile, I certainly did notice the ladies of Pho Viet giving this usually loyal customer the hairy eyeball...

Anyway, after a total wait of about 10 minutes or a little more, I had my two banh mi, plus two complimentary promo sodas. The price on each rang up to $3.95.

the verdict on the sandwiches? Decent. Reasonable flavor and a nice variety change from the Pho Viet selections at the very least. But they were incredibly uneven in preparation with the ingredients woefully varying with each bite. The 3-pork started off as a mild cold cut sandwich featuring a nice porky goodness until suddenly I found myself with a numbing mouthful of jalapeno (I love heat, but this was bread and pepper!). The overall results, while having some tasty elements, made me long for the reliability of Pho Viet.

So this afternoon, Pho Viet is where I headed, as much to fill my belly as to make penance to the ladies for my transgression of patronage across the food court. However, when I entered I glanced at the new restaurant and found the counter even quieter than before as there was no sign of customers OR staff. The cabinet was filled with pastries and the lights were on, but... no one seemed to be home. If they were there, the were certainly not aiding in making the place inviting by at least making it seem open for business!

As I left, my Pho Viet banh mi reliably in hand, I check the banner outside for the new businesses name so it could be relayed here, but the banner was now gone.

As I suspect, this potential new addition to the canon of failed 88 food court businesses may soon be as well...

Sep 26, 2012
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Super88 Allston Status Update

I wouldn't say that they're open to the public, but I have called and scheduled to pick up a few 200ct boxes before, cash in hand. I don't know if they made an exception or if they do this as a routine.

Sep 22, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Super88 Allston Status Update

My big wish is for the Chinese Spaghetti Factory pork dumplings to return- the full size ones in the 50ct & 100ct bags. I can still get them from the source in Chinatown, but it's nice to grab a bag on the Friday way home when I have a party on the weekend.

Maybe they haven't yet negotiated with some of the local providers? I hope this changes... big time!

Sep 15, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Rum that you can sip??

A fav of mine is the Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva ($26-$32 depending upon market)-my friends have nicknamed it "Liquid Gold". The above mentioned Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Yr (high 30's $-wise) is excellent, as is the Ron Pampero Anniversario ($30-35), IMHO.

As for the Monk, I do dig it greatly as a mixer but find it a bit too bitter and molasses-ey for my sipping preference (though it IS sippable). In Boston, jkv, Old Monk can be found at Marty's (now, sadly, only located in Newton) and Martignetti's.

Mar 26, 2009
Scortch in Spirits

TC Casey's Take On Finale and Carla

Supposedly the knife hadn't been properly maintained- which says EVERYTHING about the person holding it!

Mar 01, 2009
Scortch in Food Media & News

Top Chef Finale Pt. 2(spoilers)

Oh I agree that it was genuine concern. I meant that to say "damn EVERYTHING else right now, my friend needs some reassurance" has always been the class move!

Feb 27, 2009
Scortch in Food Media & News

Top Chef Finale Pt. 2(spoilers)

Casey's comments are just needlessly bitter. It was obvious to anyone (except it seems Casey Thompson) that Carla took it all on herself, almost crushingly so. Casey acts as if the competition was once again hers to lose and doth protest far, far too much. What WAS hers -hers and hers alone- to lose was her reputation and she did a fine, fine job of trashing it. I am astounded she could think that email was in any way a smart move. My, how the tiny have fallen.

As for our Stefan, I might never call him a "class act" across the board (he's way too irreverent), but the comfort he showed Carla certainly reeked of being classy!

Feb 27, 2009
Scortch in Food Media & News

Top Chef-Last Meal (Spoiler)

I was actually pondering the skill of the editors to manipulate your expectations, especially on this episode where they made it look like Stephan was a sure-fire send home (Mainly by inverting their usual telegraphing of what's to come!). Honestly, with only the footage aired, I bet I could make it look as though Leah won and Jacques Pepin was sent home! Imagine with all the raw footage? - the editors could probably make it into a dramatic murder mystery!

Feb 13, 2009
Scortch in Food Media & News

Where to buy punt e mes

Martignetti's in Brighton has it as well. If I remember correctly, they're a coupla buck cheaper than most places

I'd call and check before quoting me on that one.

Feb 12, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Diners, Drive-ins, Dives, and Disgusting

Just 'cause America eats it doesn't mean it's worth celebrating. There's plenty America does that it should be ashamed of and some of the food you see us it can easily be lumped in there!

Feb 12, 2009
Scortch in Food Media & News

What you drank at "Drink"

The Whiskey Barrel Aged was used when had it? See, that I can do. I definitely know Josie used the Mole from Bitterman's. I'll give the Whiskey Barrel version a shot tonight!

Jan 10, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

What you drank at "Drink"

I've only gotten down there once so far (more to come, though). Josie started me off with the Fort Point (seems to be a good starter for a lot of people), when I asked about the Mole bitters, she steered me to the 1919 (also good 'cause I had wanted to try the Old Monk rum in a drink as well), and then wrapped up my intro evening with a classic Vieux Carre.

The 1919 was the real standout of the evening with the molasses-y Old Monk mixing nicely with the spice of the Rittenhouse and the herbals of the Benedictine. The chocolately finish from the bitters then came, first as a nice surprise and then as something to be looked forward to after each sip. A real winner that kills me that I can't duplicate it at home yet!

I agree that the coffee flip sound tres interesting!

Jan 10, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Source for Luxardo Amaretto, Maraschino and other products?

Though I haven't yet taken advantage of it, from my understanding the Marty's in Allston can have stuff transferred from Newton as kind of a special order. So if you know that they have particular product (such as Marie Brizzard Apry) in Newton...

I don't know if they tack any additional $ onto this at all, but it is an option if you have a tough time getting to Newton but have a familiarity with their stock.

Jan 09, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Source for Luxardo Amaretto, Maraschino and other products?

Agreed! That was my Christmas present to myself this year!

As for the amaretto, I don't know for sure if Marty's Newton has it in stock, but I do know that they had a slew of the other Luxardo products, Triple Sec, etc. Give 'em a call (or use the Maraschino deal as an excuse...).

BTW, I'll have to check out the amaretto myself as my DiSoranno is getting low.... Thanks!

Jan 08, 2009
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

what to do with a bottle of Maraschino liqueur?

Ah, there's the rub! And my personal failing in the maraschino department. I LOVE gin and so I'm sitting here wracking my brain for a recipe I enjoy that doesn't have it.

Looks as if I need to poke around those recipes a bit to expand my experience! Can we leave this one at "I'll get back to you", momskitchen?

Dec 31, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

what to do with a bottle of Maraschino liqueur?

Yup cherries- great idea, ted! But do save some to try to find a cocktail that you enjoy- maraschino liqueur is such good stuff.

Oh, and fancy this being on Chow at the same time as this query:

http://www.chow.com/recipes/13739

Dec 30, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

what to do with a bottle of Maraschino liqueur?

Do a search over at the Cocktail Database:

http://www.cocktaildb.com/index

They list 211 recipes, 138 of which don't contain gin (and many that do, but in a supporting component, rather than base spirit, role). Should be a fun exploration into what ones might work for you.

Dec 30, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

Top Chef -- 12 Nights (spoilers)

A lot of the above questions are answered by Lee Ann Wong's blog.

The refrigerator DID fail as a result of all the hot food put into it, not from the door opening. It's obvious from that revelation that the contestants were coached into implying (or stating outright- i would need to review the ep again) that the door opened instead of a deficiency in a sponsoring companies product.

Once this had happened, the playing field became unleveled and the judges were immediately alerted that they would be unable to send someone home as a result. The contestants were not made aware of this fact and were instead presented with it as a decision of the judges as we saw in the episode.

Dec 19, 2008
Scortch in Food Media & News

Looking for a quality julep strainer...

I think this is the Holy Grail (or one of them) as far as bar- gear goes. Even Robert Hess and Jaimie Boudreau - both of whom known for having ventured into buying expensive gear from companies in Germany who don't export their full lines have bemoaned the lack of decent Julep strainers out there. For such a simple item, I'm really surprised that someone hasn't contacted a metalworker about turning out something -ANYTHING!- better than the cheapies that seem to be ubiquitous both here and abroad.

If you DO find something- let us know!

Dec 08, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

New Rye on the Market

What I mean by hard to get is not that you can't find rye in the Boston area, just that it tends to be carried by mostly the biggest retailers (who also, no coincidence, have a hand in distribution). A lot of smaller owners I've talked to say that they want to carry ryes, or a more extensive selection than Overholt or Beam, but the biggies seem to have hogged it all. I'm not sure what the full politics are of the situation, but the impression that I get is that there is certainly room for more inventory to make its way into the area.

Nov 26, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

New Rye on the Market

As I posted in a comment to the review that Slim listed- I can only hope that the one positive thing that a product of this type and placement can do is bring a few more ryes onto shelves where they hadn't been before. I do know though that in the Boston area, it has been hard for stores that want to carry rye to get a handhold onto what seems like a limited supply.

That said, for the average $50 price point on this new product- it had better knock my backside around a bit to justify the cost! While the above review at DrinkBoston is pretty favorable, we also have this gem:

http://drinkdogma.com/jim-beam-new-ri...

Nov 26, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

ICA: Thanksgiving showdown

It seems, as of late, that anyone on TV with an accent will get a subtitle. On ICA, they take it a bit further (and back to the shows roots) with dubbing on Morimoto. I will admit, while I have never had a problem with his accent, his often humble attitude and the general timber of his voice have made him a bit prone to "whisper" speak. His voice, while perfectly intelligible, can be exceptionally quiet.

It's interesting to contrast the statements on this thread with some of the ones here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/547812 , BTW...

It's interesting to contrast this discussion

Nov 20, 2008
Scortch in Food Media & News

Commercials with prop food

Actually, the Haagen Daz photos, by law, have to be of the product- at least if they are for advertising or promotion. For editorial photos, such as magazine covers or in which something like ice cream is not the item sold but a side item, then often mashed potatoes or more frequently a mix of something like powdered sugar and canned frosting (which looks more realistic).

A useful trick, however, is to set lighting for a photo with the fake stuff, then switch out right before the shot, waiting for juuuuust the right amount of frost to glaze over the ice cream surface!

Nov 13, 2008
Scortch in Food Media & News

Super 88 has let me down-any frozen dumpling suggestions?

Beijing Star does frozen? I'll have to check into that.

Thanks to all so far with this. It's the usual party crunch and the tips are all appreciated! The info on pelemeni is particularly welcome! I'll have to try those just 'cause!

Nov 06, 2008
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

Super 88 has let me down-any frozen dumpling suggestions?

Well, due to whatever factors, the Allston Super 88 is still devoid of the Spaghetti Factory pork dumplings. these were always a great go-to party food for large events like the one I'm of course having this weekend.

Any other suggestions as to where I can reliably buy the bulk (50 or 100) count bags? Even the 25? I prefer the Boston to Framingham areas, but will appreciate any and all leads! Thanks!

Nov 05, 2008
Scortch in Greater Boston Area

good low end liquor

One thing we're certainly seeing here is the variety of pricing, not just state to state, but even block to block. The Plymouth Gin price swing is intense here in Boston. As sailormouth noted, it's $15.99 at Blanchard's (and Marty's) in Allston, MA. $22 at most other locations. I have seen it go as ridiculously high as $36 a bottle here as well. My fav dark rum, Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva is usually now $33 a bottle, but it could be had at Marty's recently for $28! That said, they have the lovely St Germaine and Domaine De Canton at $39.99 (with Blanchards down the road keeping pace at those prices) while it's $7-$8 cheaper almost everywhere else... Of course they had the Canton for an astonishingly low $20 for a while- I kick myself for not buying more!

What am I saying here? I guess I'm saying that it really REALLY can pay to shop around and keep a keen eye on prices. What is a premium priced liquor in one shop can be a real bargain right next door!

THAT said, my fav general affordably-priced booze will always include Old Overholt, Applejack, Gosling's Black Seal, Plymouth Gin, Eagle Rare 10 yr (okay, maybe a bit up there, but damn!),

Oct 14, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

Confused with Bitters

Hmmm - definitely not the classic bitters function, but interesting nonetheless!

Oct 14, 2008
Scortch in Spirits

Confused with Bitters

The Stirrings are a non-alcoholic bitters that seems to be more of a flavoring agent. I'm sure they have a decent use in some new cocktail somewhere, but the only instance I have heard of them being used is as an ingredient in the recipe Jaime Boudreau's Amer Picon recreation. I haven't been able to make them work well in anything. That said, they don't inherently sink the flavor of everything, either.

As for Calamityville's opinion on the Angostura Orange- I will agree that they have a whole lot more character that the Regan's -which itself is a more complex taste that Fee's- but I give them a 50-50 on the importance scale. The Angostura orange is the bridge between aromatic and orange, but I don't always need or want that in every cocktail calling for orange bitters. I am happy to have both in the canon!

Oct 10, 2008
Scortch in Spirits