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Two specific "fine-dining" questions

I'm moving to the Bay Area after five years away and have started fantasizing about where I will eat. Here are two questions I have.

1. One of the best meals I can remember was the dinner I had at Fleur de Lys maybe six years ago. I was pretty shocked to see it wasn't on Michael Bauer's Top 100 list. Is there general agreement that it is not as good as it used to be? Was there some specific change?

2. I can't imagine eating at a restaurant with the name "The Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton". It sounds like the antithesis of a Chowhound destination. I've never been in a Ritz Carlton, I don't think, but to me they're about exclusivity and fawning employees (who probably wouldn't fawn over me). I guess this isn't really a question, but I'd like people to tell me either: "I felt the same way, but the food there is creative and amazing" or "If you don't like uppity places, you should probably stay away".


Dec 12, 2008
jtv in San Francisco Bay Area

I want a cookbook to cook _everything_ from.

Thanks for everyone's replies! It definitely seems like the consensus recommendations are Joy of Cooking, Julia Child's books, and books from Cook's Illustrated. I'm at least slightly familiar with these. (Sadly I think they're much too long for my goal of working through every recipe in them!) But I don't own any of them, so I really should investigate.

Many of the others I've never heard of. I'll try to look for Bittman's The Minimalist Cooks, the Alice Waters and Jean Anderson books, and Cookwise and maybe pick one of them for my project.

Thanks again to everyone!

Nov 16, 2008
jtv in Home Cooking

I want a cookbook to cook _everything_ from.

I've been cooking for about 4 years and definitely still have a lot to learn. My favorite cookbook is "Kitchen Sense" by Mitchell Davis. For those who don't know it, I'd say it's similar to "How to Cook Everything", but has fewer recipes (especially basic recipes). At one point I decided I would try to cook every recipe in it, to force me to learn some that I would naturally avoid. (For instance, I'm intimidated by shellfish beyond shrimp and scallops. There are probably also some ingredients/techniques I avoid without even realizing it.) After cooking from it a lot (by my standards) for a few months, I had barely scratched the surface.

I'm interested in another (shorter) cookbook to try this with. Maybe 50 recipes or so. I prefer an general-purpose cookbook, not from a particular cuisine. I also want to steer away from books whose main point is simplicity, like "Rachel Ray 30 Minute Mains". (If these are too many restraints, then a book that restricts to vegetarian recipes, or salads, would be okay.) So far, Cook's Illustrated magazines are the best I've come up with. I think they're not optimal though because I would just be randomly choosing some particular issues.

If this seems like a ridiculous aim, here's an analogy I have in mind. A very thorough and impressive way to learn the material in a math textbook is by doing all of the exercises. I was thinking about this and wondering what the cooking equivalent would be, and this is what I came up with. If you can think of a closer equivalent, suggest that instead!

Nov 14, 2008
jtv in Home Cooking

Help me with my "12 places to eat in NY" game

So far I am completely convinced Sripraphai and Degustation deserve a place on my list. Is there a consensus choice from the following pairs:
Babbo vs Del Posto
P*Ong vs Public (a fair match?)

Apr 24, 2008
jtv in Manhattan

Help me with my "12 places to eat in NY" game

Freudian slip! I can't figure out how to edit, but you're right, I did mean Shake Shack.

Thanks for all the replies!

Apr 24, 2008
jtv in Manhattan

Help me with my "12 places to eat in NY" game

Thanks for your reply! The "liveliness" isn't a necessity, just something I consider, and a definite tie-breaker between two similar places. Should I consider Bar Boulud instead?

Apr 23, 2008
jtv in Manhattan

Help me with my "12 places to eat in NY" game

In preparation for 12 weeks in Manhattan this summer, I'm trying to put together a list of 12 restaurants to try in NYC. I don't take it too seriously; it's just something I'm doing to learn about restaurants and get excited for moving. As you'll see, what I currently have is skewed towards higher-end restaurants, but not exclusively. It also skews towards Manhattan restaurants, but not exclusively. (Hope that's okay on this board!!)

My current list is in the order in which I'd like to try them. Again, I'm not really serious about that; it's just to make the game harder.

Le Bernardin
Cafe Boulud
Momofuku Ko
Dumpling House
Sushi Yasuda
Gordon Ramsay
Katz's Deli
Peter Luger
Di Fara
Per Se

Places that were considered (should any of them be promoted?):
wd-50, Dawat, AquaGrill, Fatty Crab, Grand Sichuan International, Blue Hill, Anthos, Bar Boulud, Cheburechnaya, Amy Ruth's, Great New York Noodletown, L'atelier, Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Masa.

Places to which I have already been that could belong on a similar list:
Absolute Bagels, Grimaldi, Megu (I loved it when I went two years ago. Has it fallen out of fashion already?) Carnegie Deli, Corner Bistro, Steak Shack, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Gray's Papaya.

What places seem strange on my list (or on my list of reserves)? Is it weird that I have Gordon Ramsay on the list but not Jean Georges or ...? Is Sushi Yasuda reasonable for my only Japanese restaurant? I had never heard of it till I started doing research here.... Most importantly, what places are missing?!

I like "institutions" and places with lively atmospheres. When I read a review that says "I don't like Restaurant X because it is too crowded", I take that as a big endorsement of Restaurant X.

Apr 23, 2008
jtv in Manhattan