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Should I get a Costco membership?

While there may be other benefits with the conventional Amexes that the Costco-branded ones don't offer, I'm not aware of any. Maybe Travel Services or something like that. I guess Membership Rewards points instead of the cash back.

Membership Rewards Points used to be worth about 1%, but now they are worth about half that if you want to buy something at most participating vendors. They now can be linked directly to Amazon and they are worth slightly more there so we use them there for points we get with our conventional Amexes.

You don't have to give up your conventional cards to get the Costco ones. For the longest time I resisted the Costco card because the last thing I needed in my wallet was another card. It's not a single vendor card at all because you can use it anywhere you can use an Amex and the cash back is real cash -- as noted above you can take your rebate check and get cash for it at the service desk -- and as far as I know pretty much every store takes that.

We now have four Executive memberships -- one for each of the four branches of our culinary adventure, each with its own dba as listed on our business license -- and each one has its own Amex. For each we max out our Rebate at $750 per year from Costco, and also get a check for about $1500 per year from each Amex, for which there is no maximum limit. This includes 4% back on the gas for our four vehicles including our Food Trucks, which obviously take a lot of gas -- and we fill up at Costco, which has the lowest prices in our area by about $.20/gal anyhow.

I do feel funny about putting down the card with our restaurant name when eating at another restaurant to get the 2% back there, so I typically use our personal card for that and get the points instead.

So I always laugh when I see a question like "are there any pros to having a membership?" as in the OP. Any? Um, yeah. Is it right for everyone? Not necessarily.

about 3 hours ago
acgold7 in Chains

Home-made caesar dressing vs the OG Cardini table-prepared one?

The anchovies are the substitution for the original Worcestershire, I believe.

Jul 18, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

>>>Perhaps the fact that they have a small market share has something to do with it, since they would not have the same economies of scale in distribution.<<<

HD does in fact have the same economies of distribution, as they are made by Dreyer's and distributed by the parent company, Nestle, on the same trucks.

>>>HD is still twice as expensive as common "premium" ice creams. I don't believe this can be explained by the manufacturing process. <<<

In fact, much of it can, in terms of both ingredients and process as well as equipment, as anyone with experience making ice cream will tell you. This is true for all superpremiums vs. "premiums." This is why you can buy the short/near half-gallon (1.75 qt) supermarket "premiums" for the price of a pint of a superpremium.

Jul 16, 2014
acgold7 in General Topics
1

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

I think he meant "segment."

And yes, but that density depends on three factors: overrun (air), solids, and milkfat. Also, the manufacturing process is in fact quite different to make a smooth and creamy ice cream without stabilizers and emulsifiers. It is in fact much costlier and requires different equipment.

Is there a direct one-to-one correlation between cost and price? Of course not, but anyone who thinks the extra price differential for HD is unjustified pure profit is mistaken from a manufacturing cost basis. Of course, one may think it's not worth it to one's personal taste.

Jul 16, 2014
acgold7 in General Topics
3

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

Yeah, he's kidding. Not everyone gets John's subtle wit. But for anyone who doesn't know, HD is not and has never been produced anywhere other than the US. Here's a condensed version of its history from Wikipedia, which in this case gets it right:

--"Häagen-Dazs is an ice cream brand, established by Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York, in 1961.

--"The name, however, is not Danish, nor does it have any meaning in any language or etymology before its creation.

--"Mattus … sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked. The reason he chose this method was so that the name would be unique and original... a move known in the marketing industry as foreign branding.

--"Häagen-Dazs was bought by Pillsbury in 1983. General Mills bought Pillsbury in 2001. However, in the United States and Canada, Häagen-Dazs products are produced by Nestlé subsidiary Dreyer's, which acquired the rights as part of the General Mills-Pillsbury deal. The brand name is still owned by General Mills but is licensed to Nestlé in the US and Canada."

The links still work so you could go to the original articles to read more.

Interesting that HD is produced by Dreyer's, which is revealed if you go to their website.

In our area we have a couple of good alternatives. In the Premium category we have a competitor to Tillamook, made in the same area, called Umpqua, which is pretty good at the same price point and 96g per 1/2c.

And in the Super category we have a very local place with spectacular stuff called Snoqualmie which has both a Danish Vanilla bean and a Vanilla Custard (French Vanilla Style) as well as a Vanilla Gelato and a huge variety of other incredible flavors which all weigh in at about 113g per half cup. They have some flavors in single-serve cups, which come in 4.69oz servings.

I happen to like both HD and Tillamook a lot. But HD undoubtedly costs hugely more than Tillamook because of its very low overrun. Its lack of most additives and superpremium reputation and positioning also clearly justify the price difference for its customers. I generally buy it when it's on sale but I go for the Snoqualmie for myself and the Umpqua for people who just sort of like ice cream but aren't too picky.

Jul 15, 2014
acgold7 in General Topics

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

Here is a very interesting chart which points out the most common usage of the terms. It notes they are not legal definitions.

http://www.cybercolloids.net/informat...

The terms are based on a varoiety of factors, including fat content, overrun, solids content, and even packaging.

Jul 15, 2014
acgold7 in General Topics

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

You're joking, right?

Jul 15, 2014
acgold7 in General Topics
2

What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

Let's just explore Food Truck economics a bit using real actual numbers from a real actual gigs, shall we? Conjecture is fine but facts are better.

Most Trucks look at a $1500 lunch as pretty good. Not stellar but good. That's probably about 150 covers for most of them, more or less. Most consider it achievable. Many won't even roll for less than that and require that as a minimum from their clients just to cover their expenses.

Sometimes you take on a new client -- and to clarify the post above, we only go where we are asked to; we don't "hound" anyone -- without requiring the minimum in the hope you will do well and if they don't at first, you hope they will build. But if they don't you have to move on.

Here are the actual numbers from a recent corporate lunch from a place where we had to stop going because we were consistently losing money.

Net sales after taxes 306.73 (35 tickets)
Food Cost 107.36
Labor 99.00
Insurance 10.00
Amort on Truck 65.00
Consumables 30.00
Mileage 3.36

Profit (Loss) (7.99)

We should have done at least $1000 in sales, but we didn't, and limped home with a truck full of food. So this probably wasn't the incident referred to above, as it's not likely we were out of anything, much less everything, but it's illustrative of the economics and why Trucks may stop going to a place after they've been there for a while.

Jul 14, 2014
acgold7 in Not About Food
1

What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

You'd be shocked at how low the margins are at Gobble Express. Don't ask me how I know. There is nothing on the menu that is "turkey bits deep fried in flour."

We are always happy to go anyplace we are asked to, but can't keep going if we are losing money. If you tell us your location and dates I will be happy to show you each and every daily truck spreadsheet.

Please feel free to contact me personally via the email in my profile here or on the truck or restaurant websites if you'd like to discuss this. We almost never run out of anything -- quite the contrary -- so I am a little shocked to hear this. Sometimes we do run out of a few items late in the day but rarely during the lunch rush.

I think we should all view with skepticism any post which contains phrases like "have got to be" or "I'm sure have," because that means the writer is guessing or making assumptions, and doesn't really know, notwithstanding any family history or prior experience in the business.

Note that this is the first time I have ever mentioned the name of our place on this board, ever, and then only to correct errors of fact when soneone else mentioned it first. I am in no way trying to advertise it or push it or suggest you go there.

Jul 14, 2014
acgold7 in Not About Food

Which 4 cheeses do you recommend for a rich, creamy Mac & Cheese?

I love blue cheese, virtually all kinds. I just don't think it's right for Mac.

Jul 13, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking
4

Hellmans Deconstructed

You show sugar next to salt in your list.

Jul 13, 2014
acgold7 in General Topics

Is it OK when David Rocco pronounces Italian words correctly but not when Giada does it?

And that's the point it seems everyone else has missed --she *doesn't* pronounce her words correctly. She says "spa-GIT-ti" and "pan-CHIT-ta" and not "spa-GET-ti" or even "spa-GAY-ti" the way my Italian teachers and language tapes and the people I met in Italy when I spent some time traveling the country did. She pronounces her short "e"s as "i"s.

She is not the victim of gender bias. Just the opposite -- if she wasn't hot, she wouldn't have a career. She's just an idiot.

There are native-born Americans who can't speak English, too, so lineage means nothing. Anyway, I think she said she moved here when she was five, so I'm not sure she's an expert on her mother tongue.

Jul 13, 2014
acgold7 in Food Media & News

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

I've heard many people do this. You probably couldn't do this with these pickles because they wouldn't be Kosher, or technically, not Pareve. I think.

Jul 13, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

Well, this is why I talked about distilled rather than Spring Water, because you never know how hard the Spring Water is, whether it is a regional or national brand, or what its mineral content is. All these are variables and can affect the brine. Where we are in the NW, the water is much softer than in SoCal, and when we were in Connecticut, our water came from a well and was much harder -- we had to have a water softener. So generalizations are dangerous.

Very true about removing the scum and how not doing so can lead to softening and rotting of the pickles, but nothing in the quotes above (unless I missed it) suggests that this has anything to do with water mineral content, only exposure to air and the wrong bacteria. In fact it states the reverse cause-and-effect is in play: that scum leads to reduced acid, not that reduced acid (caused by hard water) leads to scum.

My Brooklyn ancestors a hundred years ago undoubtedly had access only to (NYC) tap water and if that was good enough for them, it's good enough for me, in principle. They probably boiled it to be safe from bacteria but that wouldn't change the mineral content much.

Jul 13, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

Just shy of a week after putting up this batch, they are in the cooler. Yesterday I cut one open to test it and OH NO! A dreaded Bloater! Had I done it? Had I screwed the pooch and blown an entire 50-lb batch?! Were my fermenting temps too high? Had I not trimmed enough from the blossom end or messed up any one of a hundred (okay, two or three) other things?

Trembling, I cut open another one.

It was fine.

So we'll let these cool down a bit and see where they are tonight. As of yesterday they were just shy of half-sours. Texture fine, flavor a little mild. Garlic, Dill and Chile present but not assertive, not very sour yet.

Jul 12, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

Kentucky Fried Chicken's 11 Herbs and Spices Reverse Engineered

I'll ask Dr. McCoy for his tricorder next time I see him.

Jul 12, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

BROCCOLI Rabe or RAPINI

I've seen it at Sosio's at Pike Place and at most QFCs as well as at Central Market and Met Market.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Greater Seattle

Prime grade bnls. shoulder clod roast $1.99lb. Dry Roast?

You can still get this cut, but not prime grade, for close to this at a restaurant supply house like Depot, Costco Business or Cash & Carry/Smart & Final, if you don't have access to Sysco, FSA, FSI or the like.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

Interesting mini progress report: The pickle we sliced for the picture, just about a day later, has made definite progress. We submerged it after the pic but couldn't resist today and tasted it. The overwhelming salty and bitter notes have begun to subside and the spicy pepper and garlic flavors have begun to emerge. Still not too sour yet but I am possessed by the overwhelming urge to eat ten more.

I think Mr. Taster's time-table predictions are right on schedule. I think we will hammer down the lids today and move into the cooler and leave them undisturbed; I predict we will have nice half-sours in four more days.

No scum of any note forming.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

Yes, all of this has been covered in excruciating detail. I leave mine out for a week. Really, it's all here.

If you don't want to read the whole thread, just start at my 2013 Season update and read all the posts from there.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

We've addressed this several times in our posts (including the one we did just minutes before yours, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8050...).

Wait. Don't do anything. Note that Mr. Taster said he has half-sours after a week and a half, not four days.

Please read the whole thread, especially http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8050.... It's worth your time.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

Overcooked Chicken Breasts - Help

Great suggestions so far. You could also shred and simmer with BBQ sauce like pulled pork.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking

Consumer Reports Chain Ratings

I agree that national and regional chains probably ought to be on separate charts. As much as I love InO, and I do, they don't have to deal with the same sourcing and distribution issues that McD's does, which is why I don't go to McD's.

Not really a surprise that the biggest aren't the best. People go to these places for Fast food, not necessarily Good food. They are popular because they are popular. They sell ubiquity. Parents go because the kids often drag them.

Jul 10, 2014
acgold7 in Chains

What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

Exactly.

Jul 09, 2014
acgold7 in Not About Food

FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

About four days in now and true to form, they're probably what you'd call new pickles -- very salty and crunchy but still bitter and not sour or very garlicky yet. But definitely displaying that pickle character a little bit. Still very white and cucumbery inside. I cut one in half so you could see what it looks like.

Temps have been in the 70s and 80s outdoors and the brine has hovered between 65 and the low 70s.

Jul 09, 2014
acgold7 in Home Cooking
1

What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

Buy better than what? They're probably getting their goods at half to one-third the retail price of the same quality, if it could even be found at retail, which the really prime stuff can't. But as Tom correctly points out, there aren't too many beautiful prime filets on a tenderloin, so even if they pay $10 a pound for the same stuff that's $30 at retail, what do they do with the stuff they trim off?

Sure, crappy thin supermarket bacon is $2.50/lb on sale, but the thick center cut stuff that actually has some meat in it is close to $10 at retail and maybe half that at wholesale. That slice could contribute .50 to the plate.

Jul 09, 2014
acgold7 in Not About Food

What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

It's the same general rule here, roughly, but if you are very good at controlling your costs, you can express it as 30/30/30... 30% each for food, labor and overhead costs, and hopefully 10% profit. If you are lucky.

At least that's what all my consultants tell me.

Jul 09, 2014
acgold7 in Not About Food

MasterChef US June 30 chatter

This should all be on the July 7 thread.

Jul 09, 2014
acgold7 in Food Media & News

What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

How so? Even at wholesale, the food cost (8 oz dry-aged? Top Choice? Prime?) was probably somewhere around $10-12. Labor and overhead were likely the same, each, leaving the restaurant with maybe $5 profit on the item.

Again, in the 10% range, more or less.

Jul 08, 2014
acgold7 in Not About Food
1

Should a chain comp an item (or offer some other compensation) if an entree is prepared wrong?

Not really to the point here, but also note that many places simply won't cook a burger anything other than well by default, for liability reasons. I either don't go to them or don't order the burger.

But if that was the case they should have told you. And then they likely wouldn't have brought a rare-er one.

Jul 08, 2014
acgold7 in Chains