rllevy's Profile

Title Last Reply

Cheap but tasty passion fruit puree in the Bay

also, it looks like Duc Loi (18th and mission) had it in the freezer cases the last time I was there.

Aug 14, 2012
rllevy in San Francisco Bay Area

Cheap but tasty passion fruit puree in the Bay

Found it at casa guadelupe (the larger one at 26th and mission, not the small one at 25th and mission) in the freezer. Not goya brand, but a ~350g flat-frozen packet. Don't buy them out of it :)!

oh, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was <$3 for 350g.

Jul 03, 2012
rllevy in San Francisco Bay Area

late night eats in Ft. Myers/Naples area?

Hi chowhounders,

I am coming down to Naples on business tues-thurs, via Ft. Myers.

My flight doesn't get in until 9:45pm, and I'll be looking to eat because I connect through Charlotte, where the only palatable food in my connecting terminal is the froyo.

I'm looking for something decent open in Ft. Myers after, oh, 10pm, or in Naples after 11pm.

I have a car, but I'm planning to take I-75 to my hotel and don't want to venture too far off the main road.

I'll eat pretty much anything, but something on the healthful side and not a tourist trap would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance.

Aug 23, 2010
rllevy in Florida

Your Order Is Politically Incorrect

There is a perfectly good time to impose your morals on other at the dinner table -- when YOU would violate YOUR morals by eating whatever is proffered by your dining partner.

If you're asked to partake in part of an offending dish, a simple "No thank you, I try not to eat shark/veal/mushrooms because of the way the shark/baby cow/shroom is caught/raised/farmed." Usually, a dining partner who wants more information about the immoral that is their plate will ask "Really? Why?" then, of course, you may enlighten, not lecture.

If you habitually dine with the same person and they have a penchant for the immoral shark/veal/mushroom, when you see the item on the menu, pre-empt with "Let's not order the shark/veal/shrooms, I just read an article/heard on NPR/saw a special on CNN about the way the shark/veal/shrooms are caught/raised/farmed and I don't think I can stomach it." and leave it at that.

There's no reason to lecture, belittle or harangue a dinner partner, unless you don't want to be their dinner partner for much longer!

Sep 10, 2009
rllevy in Features

what is the single best recipe you have ever made ?

Ina Garten's chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

any time I'm hosting a dinner party for a new group, I make this. almost everyone I've served it to raves about it -- I found something transsexual strippers and evangelical Christans can agree on!


Apr 22, 2009
rllevy in Home Cooking

Reheating spaghetti carbonara?

I usually finish off my carbonara over a bain marie cause I like the sauciness that extra egg gives, but the sauce just doesn't firm up like it should.

perhaps add a touch of milk or cream, then reheat over a bain marie, stirring constantly and taking off heat if you even have the slightest inkling the eggs are going to curdle.

Apr 22, 2009
rllevy in Home Cooking

Passover Chocolate flourless cake (or better suggestion welcome)

i love the mock chesnut torte recipe on epicurious. i use trader joe's pound plus belgian chocolate which is pretty cost effective. it's hard to screw up, but I always do a ganache frosting in place of the water-based frosting. it's fluffier than the usual flourless torte.


Mar 22, 2009
rllevy in Home Cooking

Setian in STL

it's very easy to make your own if you start with wheat gluten flour. You can purchase this in the bulk bins at whole foods or in boxed form (bob's red mill, ener-g).

this recipe is a good starting point:

and this is also delicious:

Feb 18, 2009
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

gourmet, non-chemical gluten-free and dairy-free recipe sources?

My best friend was recently diagnosed with an intolerance to dairy/gluten.

For her birthday, she requested that I cook for her/teach her how to cook gluten free/dairy free. It's a pretty tall order and I really want to do right by her (she's an amazing person and has had a very tough year).

I want to make food that I can teach her to make, without a whole ton of weird GF ingredients (25 types of flour...). I worked in food technology r&d on gluten-free baked goods, so I'm somewhat familiar.

I'm looking for recipes (yes, I can use google, but sometimes other people have better ideas) where all the ingredients can be purchased at a typical grocery store, are cost effective and delicious. The words "xanthan gum" will make her run in the opposite direction; no strange chemicals. Bonus if they are processed-sugar-free.


Feb 18, 2009
rllevy in Home Cooking

[stl] downtown lunch spots?

Despite living here since 2005, I've never done lunch downtown. The better half and I are taking the plunge this Friday since I'll be downtown for an interview and he'll be downtown because he has a boring lawyer job.

We're looking for something cost-effective and casual. The closer to 7th and market, the better -- my schedule is really tight so we have less than an hour for lunch.

Any suggestions?

Jan 26, 2009
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Non-Carnitas Ideas For Pork Shoulder

I made this braised pork shoulder the other night. didn't turn out exactly like I thought it would (I think I was supposed to skin the shoulder first?) but it's great with some blackened potatoes.


Nov 24, 2008
rllevy in Home Cooking

What do Chowhounds do for a living (besides eat of course)? [old]

back in the pre-grad-school days, I was a Chemical Engineer in Marketing and Technical Services; I primarily worked in applications development for my former company's food technology products. Interesting work, when I did formulation development I got to cook/bake all day which was a fun alternative to, say, my chemE friends who worked for Shell. or Monsanto.

currently I'm a graduate student getting my MBA. exploring a few things; focusing on business analysis, development and strategy. my target industry is pipeline and intellectual property valuation in the pharma/med device area.

Nov 21, 2008
rllevy in Not About Food

Alcohol-free beer can chicken?

if you are cooking for someone who cannot have alcohol for medical/health reasons, DO NOT use nonalcoholic beer.

nonalcoholic beer has a small amount of alcohol. legally, you cannot buy nonalcoholic beer if you are not of age -- because it *is* an alcoholic beverage.

a close family member cannot have alcohol -- even NA beer.

I'd suggest using Dr. Pepper or another dark soda.

Sep 19, 2008
rllevy in Home Cooking

Looking for lunch between St. Louis and Springfield

if you want to experiance a "slice of missouri culture", I believe Lambert's is off 44 between springfield and STL. I could be incorrect -- the town it's in is Sikeston and I'm pretty sure you hit Sikeston before FLW...


Jul 25, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Real gyros in STL

with the PA connection, jump on 476 and go south -- Bitar's in south philly on 10th and federal (slightly south of washington near the italian market/wing phat circa 2004) is the best falafel/gyros I've ever had. Darn, now I miss philly again...

they have the "giant piece of meat on a stick". there's also a few places in the village up in NYC that have gyros done that way.

down the block from gyro house is another gyros/middle eastern-type place. if gyro house is the place I'm thinking of (only has gyros and not much else? blue and white motif? sells tshirts? the one down the street has a green awning iirc...) I wasn't too impressed with their gyros.

Jul 25, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Downtown St. Louis Restaurant Week 2009

We went to Carmine's last year -- very good.

If you're into the prix fixe, many locals restaraunts have a 35 (or less) 3-course tues-thurs. Some that come to mind are Harvest, Niche, Moxy, The Crossing, Liluma -- all great places where an extree can easily go for the mid/high 20s.

personally, I'm excited for An American Place. we've been meaning to try it for so long, but the market menu means dinner at 6:30 which does NOT fit with our schedules.

Jul 25, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

[sf] review of ducca

I went to Ducca last weekend with family after a long flight in from the Midwest. The food was good, not exceptional, but the waitstaff and service were very good. We moved our reservation and had to hold an 8-top for a little under two hours before I could join the party, which wasn’t a problem at all. Almost all our food got expedited, and in general, the service was attentive beyond expectation.

I had the yellowfin crudo for my app – excellent. The tuna was in a lightly sweet, acidic sauce. The description had some pretty strong flavors – pine nuts, mint, currants – indicated, and I was a little hesitant. But the sweet of the currants and the tang of the mint were subdued enough that they matched with the bitter, heartiness of the pine nuts without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the fish. Only complaint I have is the “chips” that came with the crudo – the crudo was strong enough that it could have stood on its own. The chips that came with it were deep-fried and did not match the elegance of the crudo (think kettle-fried chips). Additionally, they were not hot, so the oil had cooled and left a layer of grease on my palate. Overall, chips should have never made it on to the plate – hot chips and cold crudo? No thanks. Cold, oil, greasy chips and cold crudo? Again, no thanks.

The portions are quite large – I got the risi-bisi risotto for my main, but in an app portions, which was more than enough. The peas were exceptionally fresh and perfectly cooked. There was no “raw pea” flavor, but they were not obliterated into a mush and still had a good crunch. The risotto was well cooked; I find risotto is usually a dish I regret ordering, because most chefs can’t find that balance between underdone, crunchy insides of kernels and rice pudding, I though the dish was a bit salty – the broth/sauce was on the salty side, as well as the rice itself, so I’m led to believe it was a salty stock rather than a cheese problem.

I tasted a few of my companion’s dishes – the buckwheat bucatini is interesting, but bucatini might not be the best foil for buckwheat with consideration to the heaviness of the grain. The sardine sauce that came with the bucatini was excellent. The squid ink pasta was a beautiful dish, but was pedestrian beyond being “black spaghetti”.

Dessert was quite good. I had the almond crostada, which came with strawberries and citrus ice cream. The ice cream was phenomenal – delicately flavored and creamy, without leaving a “coating” on your mouth. The crostada was a bit heavy and well-flavored, but the strawberries on top were not very fresh and lacked a bit of crunch. The caramelized almonds used to garnish the plate were very good as well, but the crostada was a bit of a disappointment – almost tasted underdone.

The brownie got rave reviews from our table; I don’t like chocolate so I only had a taste – but if it’s your thing, the brownie is excellent, although less like a brownie and more like a dense torte.

Overall, high points – the crudo, the citrus ice cream. Low points – risotto, crostada. A decent amount of this might be my personal preferences; I like delicate, balanced, light flavors. The other diners raved about the osso bucco and chicken, so perhaps the risotto was a misstep on my part. I did experiance a bit of sticker shock, but I also live in the Midwest (we still consider 3.89 "pricy" for regular; Mid-grade just popped over 4.00/gal) so, grain of salt.

Jul 25, 2008
rllevy in San Francisco Bay Area

[stl] i'm trapped in the airport!

I will be confined to our lovely lambert-stlous airport for several hours this coming friday. apparently needing mobility/disability assistance requires one to arrive two hours prior to flight... yikes. So I'll be enjoying an early dinner with my hopefully dashingly handsome CSR.

so, where's the best place to waste my time? anything is fair game -- I'd love to have a Meal That Doesn't Suck As Much As Normal Airport Food and I'll have a few hours, a pretty spiffy set of wheels and a poor, poor chauffeur at my disposal.

Note, I do intend to at least buy a Coke for the poor sap who is suckered into being my companion for those two hours. I'm not completely malicious, I just haven't gone to the airport more than an hour before a flight since September 15th, 2001 (THAT was a real fun flight).

Jul 17, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Dining choices in Central West End St. Louis

moxy is quite good and reasonably priced.

I've heard very good things about liluma.

avoid whatever asian-fusion place is next to llewelyn's -- it used to be called zoe and I think changed names a few months ago.

if you make it over to the loop, 609 is a bit hidden (1/4 block off delmar) but very good.
If you want to hit up some bars as well down there, Tom's on the corner of euclid and laclede has kareoke fri/sat nights. Llewelyn's also is good for the laid-back bar scene. Avoid Bar Loie unless you like the meat market feeling.

Coffee Cartel on maryland & euclid is open 24hr and a nice place to hang out.

Jul 06, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Who has the most inventive desserts in St. Louis?

I'd caution the OP against bailey's. I've repeatedly had awful service there, and every time we go there's ALWAYS two or three things that they're "out of" on the menu (on weekday nights, around 8pm). Last time it was the crepes, the cinnamon ice cream and the cheesecake. As well as a handful of their beers. Wouldn't be a problem if we had been told... before we ordered. That's just one of the examples of what we refer to as "chocolate bar service hell"

additionally, I don't find their desserts terribly creative -- sure, the chocolate-pear bread pudding is somewhat different. But if you look at the menu, for the most part, there's nothing that really goes beyond chocolate cake and ice cream sundaes. don't get me wrong, the desserts are usually very tasty. I just wouldn't call them "inventive".

Jul 01, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Any decent Asian restaurants near Richmond Heights, MO?

there's some excellent traditional chinese restaraunts on Olive. Lulu seafood restaraunt has a very authentic dim sum on weekend mornings; I'm sure the rest of the food is equally good. There's a review in sauce magazine about it.

House of Wong isn't bad, but it's more "american" chinese food.

If you want to get embarrassingly intoxicated with your meal, Guo Bin at 170 and delmar has giant drinks and not-so-shabby food.

The thai food in the loop isn't awful, but IMO it's a bit pricey for the quality of food that you get.

I second the recc for Everest -- I haven't been to the new place yet, but their old location was a bit "hole in the wall" and delicious. The owner came over and talked with us; apparently they're the only Nepalese restaraunt in the midwest. If you care, they also have tons of veg options.

If vietnamese is what you're looking for, also at delmar/170 is Mai Lee, which is also pretty authentic and very good.

Jul 01, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

Who has the most inventive desserts in St. Louis?

I've been able to get "primetime" weekday reservations at niche the same day (most recently... called in at 10am on a tuesday, got a res from 7pm that night).

For weekends, if you're married to a specific time, I'd say 10-14 days in advance. If you're will to dine at 9pm, a week or less is do-able.

Jun 30, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

laid-back eats in downtown SF/along BART?

I'm arriving in SF around 8pm on a Friday and will be using BART to get around. The people I'm visiting are having dinner at Ducca at 6:45, so I'm sure they won't be done by the time my flight lands (or, for that matter, until 10pmish probably).

I'd prefer something casual, since I'll be traveling straight from my office after work and will be on central time -- somewhere where I can relax, read a book and eat my meal is choice. I'll have my bags with me still, so proximity to BART is key and I'd prefer not to have to make a ton of transfers. Something down-town-ish (ie somewhat close to Ducca) is also preferred, so that the visit-ees don't have to drive cross-town to fetch me.

In terms of food, I'm not a huge meat eater but I'm fairly adventerous. Price is not an object, but I'll be wearing jeans.

thanks in advance for helping this midwestern girl out!

Jun 30, 2008
rllevy in San Francisco Bay Area

Visiting Creve Coeur...

there's not too much along the "hip" end out in creve coeur.

I live in clayton... second the rec for roxanne -- reasonable prices and portions, thoughtfully seasoned food, good wine list.

araka looks great and everything I've heard about has been positive. I personally haven't been there though.

miso is a good "hip" yuppie-ish place if you're into sushi or pan-asian.

May 29, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

vegan in nashville?

we are heading down to nashville for a wedding tomorrow. we're looking for a vegan-friendly (ie no vegetables cooked in lard/soup with chicken broth is not veg) place for dinner.

it doesn't have to be a 100% veg place but we'd be happy to go somewhere totally vegetarian/vegan. Our vegan does not eat eggs/dairy/honey/fish/meat. we'd like for it to be somewhere with more than 1 veg/vegan option on the menu. We also would love if it's somewhere semi-nice, since it's a pretty special occasion.

we're staying near vanderbilt and driving in for 5 hours, so we'd appreciate something close-ish

May 29, 2008
rllevy in General South Archive

Visiting Creve Coeur...

I'm eaten at roxanne. the food is bistro-style and pretty good. the portions are normal sized (you probably won't be taking anything home) and the prices are resonable. I had the hanger steak with grilled asparagus -- the steak was done perfectly, although the asparagus was a bit greasy.

May 29, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

STL: Review of Trattoria Marcella [long]

yeesh, good to know -- we thought about doing my birthday dinner there. we've done niche the past two years (back in '05 we sat amid the boxes and ate guo bin from 569 dine) and it's our all-purpose "special occasion" place with advance notice, but I do want to explore a bit more. we're thinking about an american place -- cross it off the to-do list finally this year.

May 27, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

STL: Review of Trattoria Marcella [long]

yep, I'm a transplant from the east coast (phl/nyc/bos). Moved to STL in 2005. A good amount of the comments comes from my professional background as well -- I work in food (fwiw in chemistry not in a "restaurant" setting) and have undergone extensive sensory training (food tasting/evaluation = huge huge part of my job). So I do, by habit, look at food through a more critical standpoint. I've been known to throw around the word "mouthfeel".

The beau and I actually had an excellent dinner at Gian-Tony's a few months ago, but for us the fun of st. louis dining has been trying everything. I mean, when the food is good, it's very good. But when it's not good, it tends to be very bad.

May 26, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

places to buy pork belly in st louis?

I asked specifically not for the markets on olive because I know they carry it -- I was curious as to where other 'hounds procure what I consider a slightly specialty product.

May 26, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive

STL: Review of Trattoria Marcella [long]

My beau and I dined at Trattoria Marcella the other night – initially he wanted to hit up Cunetto’s, which is the bane of my existence.

Called around noon on Thursday, no problems getting a reservation for 7:30 that night.

Ample street parking nearby, in a fairly safe area. A little far from the blocks associated with “The Hill”, slightly further west than Lorenzo’s (where I had the worst butternut squash ravioli ever).

Overall, the ambiance and service were above average – points for attention to detail. For example, although only the two of us were dining, we were at a 4-top next to a party of 4. The wait staff had already removed the two extra settings closest to the other party; which allowed us a bit more privacy. We also lingered and ended up closing the place, but didn’t feel rushed at all by the staff. Crowd seems more “neighborhood” and less “yuppie” – we’re in our early 20s and were probably the youngest couple there. The place isn’t too loud, with the exception of a rather raucous/drunk party of 8-10 in the center of the dining room. The space is a bit cramped; if we actually were a party of 4 the accommodations would have been way too small. No gimmicky décor or whatnot here. We BYOB’d it (fyi, they have a 15 dollar corking fee) although they do have a fairly interesting wine list. I will note, after seeing the wine list, we felt the corking fee was a bit high – their least expensive bottle starts at 20. Now, the markup on most of their wines isn’t huge (eg mount pleasant 2001 norton for 35) so I guess they have to recoup that cost somewhere, but we probably won’t be doing BYOB here again – it was a very special bottle of wine (1990 spanish red, gift from beau’s fr.).

The menu, when compared to other places in The Hill, is fairly short. No pasta con broccoli here, but there were a decent number of dishes we wanted to try to choose from.

We started off with a field greens & calamari fritti, which were both unimpressive but not bad. The field greens were dressed in an oversweet balsamic vinagrette, although the red onions were blanched which is always a pleasant surprise. The calamari was above average for fried calamari – not too greasy, light crispy batter, rings were not overcooked and rubbery. A note, the calamari comes with flash-fried spinach. According to my beau’s fr., Trattoria Marcella was the “first place in St. Louis” to do flash-fried spinach. Who knew?

Now for the ugly… the entrees. We ordered the chicken risotto (sundried tomatoes and okra?) and the fresh tortellini (cheese stuffed, spinach and porcini mushrooms in a butter sauce). The risotto was varying degrees of cooked, from underdone to overdone. It was also rather salty, even for sundried tomatoes, and had a slight flavor of canned chicken broth, with a somewhat "boullion" salty/umami aftertaste. To be fair, the risotto in St. Louis continues to disappoint me. I had an excellent truffle risotto at Tony’s a few years ago, but the rest (including a Tony’s redux) have been consistently bad. The tortellini was oversalted, almost to the point of being inedible. Or rather, the sauce was oversalted – ironically, the all-cheese filling of the ravioli was fairly well balanced in terms of its flavor profile. The sauce was devastatingly salty, and not in a clearly intentional (anchovy or caper based, for example) way, just improperly seasoned. The spinach was sort of slapped on, it looked like they had braised/sautéed whole leaves rather than chop the spinach, which didn’t really go with the petit nature of the rest of the dish. I found one slice of porcini in the entire dish, although it appeared to be fresh, not rehydrated. Overall, our entrees were underwhelming and disappointing.

We ended up ordering dessert. Again, there’s not a huge selection, but all of it sounded so good. We got the chocolate bombe and chocolate chip cheesecake. The bombe is more of a mousse with a dusting of nuts and a chocolate glaze, but was outstanding. The chocolate chip cheesecake was also very good. I’m not a big fan of the soggy graham cracker crust; the cheesecake had a 50/50 mix of crust and chocolate chips on the bottom. The chocolate used in both desserts was also good-quality, which is a good sign. Overall, two excellent desserts, although I’m not sure if they are made in-house. We made the right decision to stay for dessert, not go to Ted Drewes.

The bill ended up coming to about 80 (before tip) for both of us including the corking fee. For the expense (both entrees were around 16.00/ea) the food was subpar and didn’t live up to the expectations we had.

I’ll probably give the place another shot, considering I have heard many good things about it and maybe we just got an odd night. Or the night the salt shaker broke.

May 23, 2008
rllevy in General Midwest Archive