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plasticman's Profile

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Am I alone here: underwhelmed by Zahav?

I'm visiting Philly this week and went to Zahav. It has an interesting menu, but for me everything just missed. The hummus was whipped into a soft, mousse like consistency. The spices on some of the salatim were too strong (e.g., way too much cloves on the carrots). I had the haloumi cheese, but it was too chewy. The cauliflower was bitter. Whatever lamb dish I had was too salty like bacon. And dessert was disappointing. The jammed some chocolate into a kataifa, making it too dense and overwhelmed all the other flavors. It could be a very good restaurant, but everything seemed just a bit off for me.

Aug 03, 2011
plasticman in Philadelphia

Why are baguettes in the US so bad?

seriously, anyone here wanna rave about other unrelated breads? I sometimes like rye bread.

Oct 19, 2010
plasticman in General Topics

Why are baguettes in the US so bad?

I read recently about a French baker in Washington DC who tried to sell authentic French baguettes. His customers complained, business soured and he was forced to make American baguettes. So I think I agree with you.

Oct 18, 2010
plasticman in General Topics

Have you ever "trained" yourself to eat something?

I can't believe so many people admit to once hating beer! I hate the taste of alcohol and never learned to like it. I tried very hard in college because I knew I was missing out on drunken hookups. Years later, for no particular reason, I ordered a light beer with a burger. It really tasted great. But I had no reason to drink alcohol anymore and decided not to continue.

Oct 18, 2010
plasticman in General Topics

Have you ever "trained" yourself to eat something?

My dad drank espresso after business dinners because everyone else did. He hated it. Over time he developed an affinity for it and now visits Starbucks. But he still makes a pained expression after the first sip.

Oct 18, 2010
plasticman in General Topics

Why are baguettes in the US so bad?

Funny, I just injured myself on Amy's Bread for lunch today, which spawned this discussion. I'll try WF in Chelsea, but if it's bad I'm coming back here to complain. ;-)

Oct 18, 2010
plasticman in General Topics

Why are baguettes in the US so bad?

The baguettes in France are light, airy and have a thin crust. I could eat a whole baguette easily. The baguettes in the US are terrible by comparison. Some are just white bread shaped into a tube. All are extremely dense and heavy and chewy. Most have a thick crust that cuts into the roof of my mouth. I have tried nearly every bakery in NYC often recommended as having acceptable baguettes. None come close, IMO.

Are there any bakers on this board that can explain why American bakers can't make a decent baguette? From my limited knowledge, the biggest difference appears to be that the flour used in France is not available in the US. I didn't think this mattered until I made a brioche with French flour. The result was magnificent. But surely there's some way to import it? King Arthur claims to make a comparable flour for baking breads. What else explains this bad bread?

Thanks.

Oct 18, 2010
plasticman in General Topics

Yogurt maker that also heats milk

Perfect! Thanks.

Feb 02, 2010
plasticman in Cookware

Yogurt maker that also heats milk

Making yogurt is simple: (1) heat milk to 180F, (2) cool to 115F, (3) add yogurt starter and (4) let sit in a warm place for a few hours. Yogurt makers only solve (4), which really doesn't require an expensive appliance. Is there any yogurt maker that will perform all 4 steps without any/minimal intervention?

Yes, I am that lazy.

Jan 19, 2010
plasticman in Cookware

Vegetables

I don't quite get your comment about Per Se. Are you saying the preparation is complex, rather than something simpler that "shows off" the veggies? Ubuntu is similar to Per Se, it makes fancy veggie dishes though Per Se is fancier. I was underwhelmed by Ubuntu. Kajitsu is Shojin style, which looks simple but is also quite complex. It was ok, but it lacked something. I had a Shojin meal at a temple in Tokyo and it was phenomenal. I think the only place I've been to that "shows off" veggies is Chez Panisse (it was boring). Also, Charlie Trotter's in Chicago can make a raw veggie meal. It's way way better than it sounds.

-----
Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

Kajitsu
414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

Nov 09, 2009
plasticman in Manhattan

Ricotta Cheese

Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

Jun 12, 2008
plasticman in Manhattan

How do you know it's good?

How can anyone know if an unfamiliar foreign dish is "good"? I was reminded of this when Thomas Keller (French Laundry) said of molecular gastronomy that you taste it without any reference to some previous dining experience. That is, if you eat fried chicken, you compare it to all the other fried chicken dishes you've ever had. But if you try something weird at El Bulli, you can't compare it to anything else. Although it does have to conform to your cultural expectations of taste, smell and mouthfeel.

I think the same is true for most people when they go to an ethnic restaurant. If you've never had Korean food, can you really say that some version of Soon Tofu is any good? Compared to what? I overheard some boys from Idaho complaining about the Mexican food in LA. They were looking forward to getting burritos from Taco Bell. I feel like many of the posts on CH in the past few years have been written by people like these guys. They are so used to the swill at their local sushi, chinese or indian joint that they measure all new places by that poor standard. Consequently, I've had lots of bad meals based on recommendations from people who don't know any better.

There are a few regular posters who've developed an obvious expertise on a cuisine in an area (i.e. Chinese in LA, pizza in NYC). I propose that Chowhound anoint these people as "Star contributors" so I can quickly locate their posts in a thread. This would really help when I'm traveling to new places.

Apr 21, 2008
plasticman in Not About Food

Thoughts About Special College Graduation Dinner?

I just went to L'Espalier two days ago. I've been to most of the "top-tier" restaurants in the US and L'Espalier is definitely well below average. The food ranks as a decent mid-tier restaurant in New York. Spend your money elsewhere.

Jan 17, 2007
plasticman in Greater Boston Area

Malaysian roti bread

You can find this at Indian grocery stores in the frozen foods section. I've forgotten the brand name, but it's sold as Indian Paratha even though it really isn't. Check for "Made in Malaysia" on the front.

Jan 03, 2007
plasticman in Manhattan

What is Halwah?

My mother (indian) makes this. It bears no relation to the middle eastern version. It's mostly ground almonds, sugar and milk cooked into a thick, smooth porridge consistency. Restaurants often make it badly: too dry and flavorless. It's perfect in the morning with chai (Indian, not that Oregon swill).

Nov 15, 2006
plasticman in General Topics

nice, stable site with tons of features. too bad it's not as much fun as the old chowhound.

Agree w/ Mick. I frequently threatened to build a chowhound competitor because it was so sickeningly bad. This appears to be a fantastic leap in the right direction. It was several years past due. Well done, chowhound.

Reading the whining above I'm reminded there are some still nostalgic for the old text-only games (Infocom's Zork). Let me assure you that these people are crusty Luddites clinging to VHS, vinyl and decrepit underwear. It's time for a change.

Jul 24, 2006
plasticman in Site Talk