Clifford's Profile

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Anyone know anything about Nosh in Wabasha?

Used to enjoy a "Nosh" regularly, but circumstances have changed and I'm now further north. Heard they've changed many things (location, capacity, style---but they are still the same to their true adorers).

Wondering.

-Clifford R.C.E.

rules for buying cheap wine (under $10)

The best rule(s) I have found is to look for one of the following:

1. Wine from a less-renowned but nevertheless established region. Broadly speaking, there is great value to be found in Chilean and Argentine wines, as well as South Africa, Portugal, and (to a somewhat smaller degree) Spain. For garden variety cab and merlot, South America is your best way to go. Cousino-Macul Merlot and Cabernet, as well as Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, and even Alamos Pinot Noir, are some personal favorite budget wines. In my humble opinion, you get a better bottle of wine for your dollar from the above regions than you do from Australia, California, or Europe.

2. Look for lesser-known or less prestigious varietals in your price range. I agree completely with a previous post about malbec. Cabernet franc fits into the same category. Lemberger from Washington, or marsanne or gros manseng from from France are varietals I've had luck with in the past. Snoqualmie Chenin Blanc is an utterly nondescript white wine, but it is absolute bargain basement in price and is a great summertime quaffer.

3. In a combination of the above, look for a well-known varietal from a region that is not known for growing it. The above-mentioned Alamos Pinot Noir is an example. Or merlot from Oregon. Robertson Gewurtraminer from South Africa is a wine I still buy by the case.

Also (and you probably know this), if a favorite restaurant of yours has an inexpensive wine by the glass that you like, take note of it and buy a bottle or two for yourself.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to buy wine by the case, but that habit was actually started when I was on a very tight wine budget. Buying cases can net you a 10, 20, or (sometimes at wine sales) 30 percent discount, essentially giving you two free bottles for every ten you buy at regular price.

Again, these are VERY broad rules with many exceptions, but after many years in the restaurant and bar business, I can say that there is at least something to them. Of course, personal taste always trumps rules or, for that matter, anything I or anybody else has to say.

And remember, buying cheap wine is liberating in a way, because even if you buy a big bottle of crap, the most you're out is $10.

Feb 07, 2008
Clifford in Wine

Is it a burger or is it a meatloaf patty??..

It is analogous solely in that it is adding something to the meat. It is the rigidity of the statement itself that was bothersome. I think my biggest problem is that too often these celeb chefs are taken as gospel anytime they say anything that resembles a definitive statement.

Feb 04, 2007
Clifford in General Topics

Is it a burger or is it a meatloaf patty??..

In defense of my use of the phrase "meatloaf patty"---I felt it was necessary to get my point across. I didn't want anyone to read my post and have a vision of an actual loaf (or slice of a loaf) in their head. I felt that the phrase "patty consisting of a meat mixture similar to meatloaf" was wordy.

I completely agree with your criteria: that additives which enhance or emphasize the meat itself are permissible. Any dramatic changes in texture are not. But it still begs the question---what do you call it if you do all the forbidden things mentioned, yet form it into a patty, grill it, and serve it on a bun????

Do I hear the phrase "meatloaf patty?"

Feb 04, 2007
Clifford in General Topics

Is it a burger or is it a meatloaf patty??..

In the last several months I have heard it rather authoritatively stated that "you can't mix a bunch of stuff into your [ground meat]...if you do that you are just making meat loaf...it's not really a burger." I first heard this from Bobby Flay in a rerun episode of "Throwdown" three or so months ago. Then I heard Tom Colicchio say the same thing in an episode of "Top Chef" in this last season (actually, Colicchio didn't say it himself---but it was noted on a number of comment cards related to that week's challenge after Elia Aboumrad had the audacity to mix prosciutto, parsley, and shallots into her ground beef). This weekend, a co-worker (and mindless sycophant of any celebrity chef) said the exact same thing.

To me, this smacks of a "chef-ification" of a formerly (and properly)very loosely bandied-about word. Probably millions of us have tasted, if not grown up on, burgers made with Lipton Powdered Onion Soup Mix mixed into the meat. But apparently those those things my dad grilled every summer weekend at the lake weren't burgers after all. Eddie Murphy did a classic stand-up routine on his mama's burgers that had "onions and peppers and all kinds of nasty shit stickin' outta [the patties]." Here in Minnesota, we have classic sandwich (but not a burger, apparently) that consists of a ground beef patty filled with cheese---lovingly known as a "juicy lucy."

This is bullshit. If you start adding eggs and/or breadcrumbs, or other starchy filler, then I could MAYBE see the point. But just because someone adds onions or peppers (as did virtually everyone I knew in my South Dakota hometown), it does not make the end result any less of a burger.

I am very much for calling things what they ACTUALLY are...I'm actually a bit of a prick about it. But this is incorrect and a hijacking of the word "burger" in my opinion. Any thoughts?

Feb 03, 2007
Clifford in General Topics

Group Staying in Schiller Park, need rec's please

Thank you, wakeup23.

Sounds like it is exactly what I'm looking for.

Jul 29, 2006
Clifford in Chicago Area

Favorite IPAs?

"Overly hopped is in the palate of the taster."

Here, here Josh!

And further, the original poster, what with the California references, clearly enjoys West Coast IPA's.

That said, I enjoy Sam Smith's IPA, but you would barely know that you were drinking the same "type" -- (style? variety? breed? strain? appellation?) of beer if you were to put it side-by-side with a good California or Oregon IPA.

Does anyone else think this has something to do with the quality and intensity of flavor that is common among hops grown in the Pacific Northwest? I think that this is something from which the West Coast style might have flowed.

Just a thought.

Jul 29, 2006
Clifford in Beer

I'm still eating so leave my husband's plate alone!

I would never address you while you are chewing on food, or anything else for that matter. While I might approach the table, I would wait until all parties are finished chewing, swallowing, and ready to speak before addressing the table.

Jul 29, 2006
Clifford in Not About Food

Beer cocktails like the beer Bloody Mary

That sounds like a method to "hasten your buzz." Probably pretty good, but dangerous (and I'm guessing intentionally so).

I'm going to go have one right now.

Jul 28, 2006
Clifford in Beer

What's Your Favorite Bottled Water?

Elgin, Minnesota Tap

...treated with a Kenmore water softener.

I pour it into my wife's empty Dasani bottle every day before I walk out the door.

Jul 28, 2006
Clifford in General Topics

Favorite IPAs?

Bridgeport IPA.

My favorite brand of my favorite type of beer.

Jul 28, 2006
Clifford in Beer

Group Staying in Schiller Park, need rec's please

I will be visiting Chicago in late September with eleven other guys in a baseball league meeting. We will be staying at the Quality Inn-O'Hare in Schiller Park, and would like a couple of recommendations.

We are looking for a good deep-dish pizza joint where we could dine in, drink a few beers and have a brief league meeting (basically a discussion over dinner) on Friday night. I'm aware of Gino's East and Malnatti's...just wondering if there are any others. Also, are the other stores for Gino's East and Malnati's any good? We have a great pizza place in St. Paul, MN (the Green Mill), but I wouldn't send people to any of their stores other than the original.

Otherwise, looking for a good pub grub place in the neighborhood for Saturday (we are playing golf in Zion, IL in the morning)...Doesn't have to be anything spectacular---I'm trying to please a broad spectrum of guys here, and some of them aren't all that open minded when it comes to food. Basically just want to avoid ending up at Chili's or something stupid like that.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I look forward to visiting your great city again when I am part of a more gustatorily adventurous group.

-Clifford

Jul 28, 2006
Clifford in Chicago Area

I'm still eating so leave my husband's plate alone!

I agree with The Engineer about the 4:20, 8:20, 10:20 rule. I have been a server for 13 years in Oregon and Minnesota, and I have never even heard of it (and I wasn't born in a barn, either---I was born in South Dakota, but not in a barn), so to profess to be "shocked" that so few people know about it sounds a bit pretentious, as well.

First of all...yes, communication is paramount. There are both verbal and nonverbal cues on which a good server should pick up.

As a matter of policy, however, I would usually begin clearing (servers helped to bus at some of the places, and I preferred to do it if possible just because the bussers were at times overeager) sometime between the first and last person finishing their meal. As a rule, I never cleared the first person's plate and left them as the only one finished; and on the flip side, I would NEVER clear to the point that only one person was eating. So in a party of 5, three plates might be cleared, but I would always leave at least one other plate so that no one was eating alone.

In addressing the diner, you NEVER say "are you still working on that?" Like the original post said, eating in a restaurant should not be "work," and if it is, you as a server have bigger concerns than whether you get the bussing done right.

A simple "Would you like me to take that?" or something similar, works just fine. Sometimes I said "Are you still enjoying that?", but you have to be careful with that one, as some customers find it a bit cheesy.

As to whether it is done to move customers along so that the table can be seated again...There are things that are done to try to move people along, but these things are done WELL after the meal, dessert, drinks, coffee, have been finished. During the meal, the staff is almost always concerned with you enjoying the meal. You will only get "nudged" along if you have been completely finished for some time, and there are other parties that have yet to be seated.

(I know that there are some people who are infuriated by this, but I personally find it to be unbelievably self-absorbed to linger at your table, coffee cups empty, plates cleared, when you are in a restaurant that clearly has a number of people waiting. I don't say this as a server...I say this as a DINER. If other people are waiting and you have finished your meal, graciously give up your table and finish your conversation in the bar or elsewhere. Either that or get seated late. Then the only people you are putting out are the servers, and we can take it---but that's another post entirely).

Of course I can only speak for myself and, to some degree, the restaurants for which I have worked.

Jul 28, 2006
Clifford in Not About Food