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Beef stew meat - suggestions other than beef stew?

I agree.

Apr 13, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Beef stew meat - suggestions other than beef stew?

Interestingly, we were in Innsbruck, Austria in a restaurant at lunch time. We met an elderly German couple who raved about the restaurant's "boiled beef." There were several boiled beef dishes on the menu. We did not try them because we had already ordered, but I was impressed by the degree of enthusiasm displayed.

Apr 13, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

How can I intensify the lemon flavor in a dish without added so much lemon juice that the dish seems watered down?

I like Hollandaise sauce but rarely can get it lemony enough for my taste. If I add extra lemon juice, the Hollandaise either curdles or becomes too thin for use as a sauce. Similarly, I like lots of other sauces with a more intense lemon flavor than is customarily put in a dish. Other than using more lemon juice, is there a way to intensify lemon flavor in a dish?

Apr 13, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

What would you consider are your 6 essential spices?

I guess that more often than not, I am either cooking something with a Mexican bent or a French bent. So the spices are garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, fresh cilantro, fresh basil, fresh tarragon, and thyme.

Lots of the dishes which I cook are not identifiably from either country, but these are my "go to" spices.

Apr 12, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

What is swai fish?

"Consumer Reports" says that it is a southeast asian catfish.

Apr 04, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Goodbye, Palm Restaurant. We'll miss you.

I just encountered an article indicating that The Palm Restaurant will be closing its Tampa location in Westshore Plaza after 13 years. They have about 30 other locations, including one in Orlando, so this is not goodbye to the whole chain, but it leaves Tampa "Palmless." I thought that it was a very good steak restaurant and I'll miss it.

Mar 27, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Has Kahlua changed its formula recently?

JMF,

I look forward to reading your review. I would do it myself, but I don't have any of the old Kahlua to compare.

Thanks.

Mar 27, 2014
gfr1111 in Spirits

Phil Smidt's substitutes?

Alas, Phil Schmidt's did not reopen. I have not been to Northwest Indiana since 2005, but at that time, the Town Club (a restaurant open to the public, despite its name) in Highland, on 45th Street, I think, had good boned and buttered lake perch.

Tiebel's Restaurant in Schererville, of course, is the place everyone mentions for boned and buttered lake perch and when I was there in 2005, the pan-fried lake perch was still excellent.

I think it is a sad commentary on what used to be a Calumet Region tradition that hardly anyone on these boards has come up with any other restaurants that still serve this heavenly specialty.

Mar 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Chicago Area

Has Kahlua changed its formula recently?

Kahlua has changed its bottle design and now features prominently the assertion that it is a rum and coffee liqueur. Kahlua never used to claim this. When I bought a bottle, the liqueur seemed thin, more like the consistency of Tia Maria, rather than the very thick consistency of Kahlua that I've grown accustomed to over the years. Also, the stores seem to have dropped the price for Kahlua by about six dollars.

Mar 23, 2014
gfr1111 in Spirits

frustrated search for baking pan

C Oliver,

All I have to say is: baby formula, the paint on toys, pet food, drywall that emits poison gas and disintegrates, prescription drugs, etc. All of these have been put into the marketplace by Chinese companies. All of them have had serious quality problems which resulted in harm to the consumer.

Now, despite this, I buy Chinese stuff because I can't avoid it. Their goods are ubiquitous and their inexpensive prices have driven competitors who make higher quality goods out of the market. This is sad, but sometimes I have no choice but to buy the crappy Chinese stuff. And certainly, some of the Chinese stuff is good. If you have a country with 1.3 billion people, it is bound to produce some quality items. BUT OBVIOUSLY, based on China's track record, quality control is a joke in China.

Until China can get its act together, give me French, Japanese, Germany, British, Thai, Taiwanese, and American, etc. products any day. I'll pay more--much more.

Mar 23, 2014
gfr1111 in Cookware
1

Ft. Myers Trip Report -- 3/14

Thanks for the review, nosh. This was helpful and interesting. I wish we could get more reviews like this.

Mar 22, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Where Have All the Greek Restaurants Gone?

I come from the Chicago area where there is a large Greek population. However, I am now living in Florida. When I lived in the Chicago area, I found that there were two types if Greek restaurants. The first was a traditional, ethnic and authentic (as far as I could tell) restaurant, serving large quantities of lamb and fish cooked in a Greek style, plus dolmades (spiced ground lamb in grape leaves), a sort of Greek lasagne (I have forgotten the name), Greek salads, baklava, galactobouriko, etc.

The second type of Greek restaurant was a cafe, which was very inexpensive, with an incredible number of items on the menu (maybe 75-100 dishes), few of which were Greek. They were just standard American dishes. These cafes always had a Greek section or sprinkled a few Greek dishes throughout the menu. Because the menu was so big, these still accounted for a substantial number of Greek dishes.

An article I read indicated that Greeks had gone into the restaurant industry in droves and that roughly 50% of all restaurants were owned by Greeks, although you rarely knew that this was the case, since many Greeks owned restaurants of other ethnic origins, such as Italian, French, Chinese, etc., in addition to the ubiquitious Greek cafes.

So, I suspect that the Greeks are still in the restaurant industry in large numbers but they are not necessarily serving Greek food. As second and third generation American Greeks have moved up economically, they are probably working behind the scenes, owning restaurants, investing, and generally playing the same kind of financial role that other ethnic groups have played as they have achieved the American Dream.

Mar 22, 2014
gfr1111 in Greater Boston Area

Has Fast Food Killed off all the cafeterias??

There are Chinese buffets all over the place here in Florida. Sweet Tomatoes (Souplantation to much of the rest of the country) is going strong. But neither of these types of restaurants is a traditional cafeteria. We also have Piccadilly, a traditional cafeteria, and, maybe, Morrison's. (I don't recall one I have seen recently, but the name rings a bell.) Also, there is a chain of truck stops here that have a cafeteria attached.

The problem with cafeterias, in general, is that the food is not very good. It is held at a high temperature for long periods of time, instead of being recently cooked. I'm not surprised that casual dining has pretty much done them in.

Mar 22, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

I can't eat at our local Chinese restaurant anymore.

JayL,

I read a book called "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles" by an author with the distinctive name of Jennifer 8. Lee. (Yes, the "8" is correct and was given to her by her parents because "8" symbolizes luck in Chinese culture.)

She writes that there is, in fact, a central outlet for Chinese American restaurants. Unfortunately, in the disorganized mess that are my bookshelves, I cannot find it to check the name at the moment, but it is something like the "New York Chinese Restaurant Association" or the "Chinese Restaurant Association of America." It has a newsletter written in Mandarin or Cantonese (?) and provides advice for anyone wishing to open a Chinese restaurant.

According to Lee, this is why a new trend in Chinese or Chinese American cooking sweeps the country so quickly. General Tso's Chicken is an example. Chinese people are not wild about intensely sweet dishes, but Americans are, and General Tso's Chicken swept the country many years ago because this Chinese restaurant association published the recipe and reported that Americans loved it so much. So I guess that this Chinese restaurant association should be taken to the woodshed.

Mar 22, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

One from left field: is there such a thing as a craft/boutique/premium Worcestershire sauce?

So if we say, "That girl is hot . . .", what we are really saying is "That girl is a smelly, fermented fish sauce girl . . ." (!)

Mar 20, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

No evidence saturated fats promote heart disease, no evidence unsaturated fats reduce it

As someone who ignores these sorts of studies, pro and con, I would love to believe that what these researchers say is true, but it is just one study, even if it is based on 72 other studies. What I mean is that no/few other researchers have reached this conclusion, so why, suddenly, should we believe this study?

Enjoy your meat, fat, milk and cheese but eat a balanced diet and ignore all these studies!

Mar 20, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News
3

Europe wants the US to stop claiming to make European cheeses

The state of affairs now regarding cheese is like what we used to have in the U.S. regarding wine names in the 1960s. Then the U.S. shifted to naming the majority grape juice in the wine (i.e., pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon) instead of calling the wine burgundy or bordeaux and the problem was solved. Some wine makers in the U.S. still abuse the names but reputable wine makers are now embarrassed to adopt a European name for an American wine. Problem (mostly) solved.

We should stop stealing the names of European cheeses and create our own names. This is embarrassing and the Europeans are understandably mad about the abuse.

Mar 18, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News
3

Visiting Tallahassee - Where to eat?

Becca Porter,

You will be staying at the extreme edge of town (the eastern suburbs, really). I am assuming that you do not want to drive all the way into downtown Tallahassee, where you would be near Kool Beanz, Cypress, and Shell Oyster Bar, all good choices.

I think that you would be happy with something closer to your motel. Take 90 (which goes right east-west right by your motel) headed west. 90 becomes Mahan Drive when you get closer to town. When 90 intersects Capitol Circle Northeast, a major thoroughfare (traffic lights etc.), cross Capitol Circle Northeast and look for a restaurant on the left (i.e., south side of the street) called Habana Boardwalk at 2819 Mahan Drive. They have a good collection of Cuban standards, like Ropa Vieja, Cuban sandwiches, flan, but they are more of a dinner place than a sandwich shop.

The left side of the street is below street level, so you may not be able to see the address. The restaurant is in a strip mall about 500 feet from the intersection of Capitol Circle Northeast and Mahan Drive. You will have to make U-turn on Mahan Drive to get to the restaurant. Habana Boardwalk has very good food. Check them out on the internet.

Mar 17, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Vinegar(s)

I think that there are two scales for vinegar which you have to consider: the strength of the vinegar and the sweetness of the vinegar. Admittedly, most vinegars have a 5% acid level, but they do not all necessarily taste that way. In order of perceived strength of acidity (the most acid first), I would rate them as follows:

1. White
2. Apple
3. Malt
4. Balsamic
5. Rice

In order of sweetness (sweetest being first), I would rate them as follows:

1. Balsamic
2. Malt
3. Apple
4. Rice
5. White

Red wine is my "go to" vinegar for most uses. I would rate it somewhere in the middle of both lists.

Mar 16, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

TRUFFLE OIL WHY USE IT???

This is interesting to me. For years, I have heard about how wonderful truffles are, yet the only time I have had truffle oil on/in a dish, I thought that the flavor was repulsive--very acrid, sharp and inconsistent with the rest of the dish. This was white truffle oil, and, until this board discussion, I had no idea that I was eating something that might not be genuine, but rather, "imitation" white truffle oil, rather than the real thing.

I agree with John Georges. Maybe some day I will get to sample the real oil, and maybe even further in my future, I will get to sample an actual truffle, either black or white! (Somehow, I think that the real thing would be much different.)

Mar 16, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Cooking hash browns: a side-by-side method comparison

This is a great thread, RealMenJulienne. You went to a lot of work and its shows. Thanks for all the information and the cute monicker.

Mar 16, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

question for european visitors... what surprised you the most about american restaurant culture

I am an American. I never heard of that signal until I found this discussion.

Mar 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Not About Food

question for european visitors... what surprised you the most about american restaurant culture

I'm an American Floridian. I thought your observations were dead-on correct, smartie. Let me comment on your observations.

Yes, servers are much more chummy. Some of it may be mandated by restaurant management, but I think it is cultural. If you have ever read James Clavell's "Noble House" or "King Rat," he comments on how Americans want to call you by your first name almost immediately. Brits want to reserve that privilege for people who have truly become their friends. They are more likely to use last names.

Plates are removed immediately after someone finishes. I don't find that procedure to be that common, but I"ll bet that when it does happen, it is mandated by management and the waiter/waitress gets in trouble if the manager sees a finished plate sitting on the table. (Ditto, the constant refilling of your iced tea or water glass.)

Yeah, I too hate having to reuse my silverware after the salad course (or any other one). It is really irritating and messy, especially when you are left with the alternatives of piling your silverware on top of itself or putting it on a pristine tablecloth.

That asking you what you'd like to drink a split second after you sit down is, again, driven by management. They think that it shows good service and that you are being attended to. I don't think that will ever change. I have to always tell them that I will need a few minutes to look at the drink list (or, as you Brits say, "the drinks list.)

Mar 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Not About Food

"Sundays are the Worst"

The author states that servers' wages have not gone up in 20 years, but since you tip on a percentage of the amount of bill, this is nonsense. There is an inflation factor built into every bill.

I tip 20%, whether it was a 1994 bill of, say, $100 or a 2014 bill of, say, $160 (the same bill, adjusted for inflation). The difference to the waiter or waitress is nothing.

Mar 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Not About Food

Sbarro get's ready for bankruptcy reorganization.............

I confess to liking Sbarro's pizza. I thought it was a typical "New York" style pizza and one of my preferred choices at a food court or at an airport. It appears from the replies below that opinions about their pizza are mixed.

Mar 11, 2014
gfr1111 in Chains

your favorite vintage cookbooks

I am taking you at your word that 20 years old does it. I have no idea whether some of these are still in print, but I really like them and still cook out of them:

1. The New York Times International Cookbook (mentioned below), Craig Claiborne, 1971. It has lots of good recipes, but I particularly like the Szechuan Shrimp recipe, the French Bread-and-Butter Pudding recipe, the Peking Duck recipe, and the Lemon Chicken recipe.

I remember stories from some of these recipes. Regarding the Peking Duck, my father came home from work one day to find two ducks tied up in twine and suspended from the handles of our kitchen cabinets with a small electric fan blowing on them. He burst into laughter. (Per the directions in the recipe, I was trying to dry out the skin on the ducks, an integral part of the recipe for Peking Duck, in which the bits of crispy skin are highly prized.)

I also remember shaking my head and then adding an entire bottle of lemon extract to the lemon chicken recipe, as it called for. Subsequently, many people told me that it was the best lemon chicken which they had ever had. After cooking, the lemon extract had mellowed out a bit and was excellent.

2. The New Orleans Cookbook, Rima and Richard Collin,
1975 (hardback) and 1986 (softback). I particularly liked the blender bearnaise sauce--the first time I ever tried to make it for a recipe in the book called "Chicken Pontalba." The dish is a bed of potatoes, onions, mushrooms and some other vegetables sauteed in butter and garlic with an assortment of creole/cajun spices, doused with white wine, with fried chicken breasts on top, covered with the bearnaise sauce. The bearnaise sauce recipe is still my "go-to" recipe for bearnaise sauce and the Chicken Pontalba recipe is outstanding. I also like the Shrimp Creole recipe a lot. There really is not a loser in the entire book.

The amount of spices that the book calls for (not chile, and not hot, necessarily) is a bit jarring, but I have closed my eyes and proceeded to follow each recipe with good results.

Mar 11, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

Looking for Crawfish

You have not specified whether you are looking for fresh or frozen crawfish, but I assume frozen is acceptable, since that is the way most crawfish meat is sold in this country.

I live in Tampa and I know you can get bags of frozen crawfish meat at Cox's Seafood on Dale Mabry in Tampa. I am sure that other seafood places also sell it frozen in Orlando. I believe that this is not a problem.

Mar 07, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Excellent Taco Recommendations

If you fold the tacos over when you bake them and bake them to the point "where they no longer fold," how do you prevent the tacos from being closed? I would guess you have to insert something in each taco to hold the edges open while you are baking them. What do you use?

Mar 07, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Customer Service: How important is it to you?

This inquiry made me think of a place in San Francisco which I had been to in the mid to late 1990s twice. I couldn't think of the name. It was Sam Wo. Before I went the first time, the review said that I would be insulted.

I don't think I was. Edsel Ford Fong to me was impatient and wanted to tell me what to order, but he wasn't rude, just surprisingly controlling. The food, especially for a really inexpensive Chinese restaurant, was excellent.

Mar 01, 2014
gfr1111 in Not About Food

Olive Oil

I agree. I bought some Olio Santo when I was in San Francisco and it was great.

Mar 01, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics