gfr1111's Profile

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Everglades City

I haven't been to Everglades City in years. When I used to go two or three times a year, people I knew from the area thought well of the Rod and Gun Club. Raffles' comment makes me guess that it is still good.

Apr 11, 2015
gfr1111 in Florida

What Is America's Worst Restaurant Chain?

I miss White Castles. I grew up eating them occasionally in Northwest Indiana, but not that often because they were not nearby. They were a treat. Then I moved to Florida, where they do not exist, except as frozen burgers. (There is an imitator in Florida, but it is not nearly as good.) White Castles have a unique taste that isn't duplicated anywhere else because the cooking technique is unusual.

There does not seem to be any middle ground on White Castles. You either love them or you hate them. My experience us that most women hate them. They seem to be a "guy" thing.

Morton's vs. Diamond Crystal Kosher salt?

Karl S,

I don't think that I agree with you on what is the standard for American cookbook recipes. Most cookbooks that want you to use a kosher salt specify kosher salt. (This drives me crazy because they don't tell you which brand of kosher salt to use and, as you pointed out, there's a difference in salinity because of how they are made.)

But back to the question of what is standard in American cookbook recipes, surely you would agree that back in the 1930's through the 1960's finely ground table salt was the standard. (I don't think I had ever heard of kosher salt until I was in my twenties, with my Indiana white bread upbringing.) And since then, I haven't seen any change in standard cookbooks like Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens. They're still specifying finely ground table salt, when you can even get them to specify.

Feb 28, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

Why aren't we eating more geese?

Yeah, Paul J,

I've often wondered why the prize bird in the butcher's window in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" was a turkey and not a goose. Maybe it was the difficulty of raising geese in more enclosed environments.

I had the impression that turkeys hardly existed in England in Dickens' day, since they were originally birds of American origin, only brought back to Europe by the early explorers. Some literary historians on these boards disabused me of my impression. Apparently, turkey was all over the place in Europe by the 1860's. Did it displace goose in Europe because it was easier to raise, could live in a more enclosed environment, was less hostile, was less fatty, etc.?

Feb 28, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

Where can I get Provel cheese or St. Louis-style pizza around FL?

Somewhere on the several different board discussions about IMO's and St. Louis style pizza was a recommendation to try Chubby's in Apopka. The poster said that it was like IMO's. I printed out the posts connected with that recommendation and went to Chubby's. (It took me about six or seven years and a job change to make it there.) Alas, there was no sign of the place at the address listed. It had obviously been closed and some new restaurant had taken over the space. As the Snoopy used to say in the song, "Curses! Foiled again!"

Feb 21, 2015
gfr1111 in Florida

Chili con Carne

I have not tried this recipe yet. I had to hand write out the ingredients because when I printed off the recipe, the list of ingredients out to the side disappeared. Very aqgravating.

Jan 17, 2015
gfr1111 in Recipes

May I vent? (living with a reasonably Chowish person who isn't quite a Chowhound..)

This reminds me of my Dad when he was alive. He readily acknowledged a complete lack of understanding about cooking and warned my Mom that, while he was ready, willing, and able to attempt a perilous journey to the grocery store, he did not trust his ability to mind-read what my Mom wanted. So he would set out with pretty detailed instructions from my Mom.

It was amazing how many ways a novice could be tripped up by things that neither he nor my Mom anticipated. But my Dad's philosophy was to come home with something. When my Dad was presented with the inevitable fork in the road for a single item, he'd buy them both! After all, it wasn't like the other thing couldn't be used later or returned.

But here were some of the things that tripped him up: the size of the package, the low-salt versus regular salt version, the multiple variations on a theme: extra chunky tomato sauce, the regular tomato sauce, the tomato sauce with mushrooms, the tomato sauce with green peppers and onions, the brand sought was not stocked but several other brands were available, etc., etc., etc.

He and my Mom were always good sports about it, but it was always a perilous journey!

How do you pronounce your foreign food phrases?

I couldn't play the youtube video (some technical glitch), but I feel the same ambivalence as a lot of the posters here.

I like to pronounce foreign food words and phrases correctly, but many times, when I know how to pronounce the word correctly, it seems like a big time AFFECTATION to do so. I feel awkward doing so, especially when there is a generally accepted way to pronounce the word in American English (which is the wrong pronunciation), but everyone uses it. Thus, I am inclined to say "crayps," an American pronunciation, not "creps," the French pronunciation.

On the other hand, I hate sounding like a gauche American, just "come in from the North 40."

And my default pronunciation, when I have no idea how to pronounce the word (and there is no generally accepted American pronunciation), is to use a Spanish vowel pronunciation, which is probably all wrong, but no more wrong than the American pronunciation and sounds better, usually--a more convincingly foreign-sounding pronunciation. In fact, for reasons I do not understand, a Spanish vowel pronunciation is often-times correct for many foreign languages.

For example, when I lived in Singapore, I learned that I could read (not understand, but pronounce) a menu printed in Anglicized spelling (i.e., not Arabic) of Malaysian words. I used Spanish vowels. My Singaporean friends told me that I had the pronunciation correct, even though I had not a clue as to what the words meant.

A final remark: I grew up in Northwest Indiana, near Gary. The University of Notre Dame was about a 90 minute drive away. So the subject of that university came up in conversation more often than is common. How do you pronounce it?: with a French pronunciation: "notruh dahm" ; with a semi-French pronunciation: "notruh daym" ; or with a full-blown American pronunciation: "noter daym"? I found most people opted for "notruh daym" but "noter daym" was also popular. I rarely heard anyone say "notruh dahm." The later sounded too foreign and too affected.

Jan 03, 2015
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

Help needed: Good gravy from red meats

Puffin 3,This was a very helpful and analytical commentary on the problem. I learned some things, too. But your comment, "I'm not sure how serious you are about making an excellent gravy," puzzles me. What makes you think the OP is not sincere or not willing to put in the effort to make good gravy? He seems to have gone to great lengths to make a good gravy.

Dec 28, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Where to eat in Tampa?

The headline on your post says, "Where to eat in Tampa." but your question seems to be about types of cuisine. So, to combine the two . . .

You should try the black bean soup, the Spanish bean soup (a.k.a. caldo gallego), gazpacho Andalucia, the 1905 salad, "imported sangria" or the "sangria de cava," deviled crab croquettes, snapper Alicante, grouper a la rusa or merluza (cod) a la rusa, paella Valenciana, palomilla steak, ropa vieja, chicken salteado, and, for dessert, brazo gitano, and churros with Cuban coffee and American coffee.

Some commentary: The Columbia, where you can find all of the above (and a lot more) is the oldest restaurant in Tampa, I am told. It is in one of the oldest sections of Tampa, Ybor City, the 1890s (or so) section of town, settled by pre-Castro Cubans. (There are a lot of post-Castro Cubans there, as well, now.) It is located in a more than 100 years-old tiled building and has been run by the same family (including lots of people brought in by marriage) since its founding. The restaurant features Flamenco dancers, on weekends, I think. (I've never seen them.)

On to the food: the Spanish bean soup (caldo gallego) is a bean, escarole, and ham soup, which is very hearty and delicious. The gazpacho Andalucia is a cold tomato puree soup with cucumbers also pureed into it. It is heavy on the garlic because it is served cold and a lot of garlic is necessary for you to taste the garlic flavor. There is also some hot sauce in it (although this seems to vary, depending on who is making it.)

The black bean soup is probably the most classic Cuban soup. Black beans are cooked to the point that they are falling apart and imbue the liquid (sometimes white or red wine) with starch, thickening it into a sauce. A bunch of spices are added, including chervil and garlic. Sometimes it has green bell peppers and onions. It is usually served with white rice or, sometimes in Tampa, yellow rice. It tends to be bland and usually requires some hot sauce, which you must as for.

The 1905 salad is a classic "chopped salad" Spanish dish, consisting of finely diced ham, parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, onions, tomatoes, swiss cheese in strips and some other ingredients I can't remember, plus a garlic-heavy oil and vinegar dressing. It sounds kind of plain-Jane, but, believe me, it is delicious and not to be missed. It is fairly finely chopped. You have never had anything like it. Eat it with Columbia's famous Cuban bread.

Columbia makes three types of Sangria, a sort of fruit punch with red wine. The least expensive one, which you can identify by its not have brandy in it, is cloyingly sweet. Instead, opt for the one with brandy, or its cousin, the one with brandy and sparkling wine. They are less sweet (although still sweet) and delicious.

Grouper Alicante is an invention of the founder of Columbia. It is grouper baked with a gravy, olive oil, Spanish onions, green peppers, garlic, sauterne wine, and topped with sliced, crispy almonds. Grouper is the most popular fish (by sales) in the gulf. It is a meaty, mild white fish.

Deviled crab croquettes are crab mixed with bread crumbs, egg, and other spices, including one which makes the crab a bit hot (hot sauce?). They are then rolled into meatball-sized balls and deep fried. This dish was reputedly developed in Tampa by the Italian community. Tampa is justly proud of this dish, although there are a lot of inferior versions around (i.e., people who skimp on the crab meat). But Columbia does a fine version.

Grouper or merluza (cod) a la rusa is another reputedly Tampa invention. It was developed at another Tampa restaurant which closed a few years ago, but Columbia does a great version. It is a coated with Cuban bread bread crumbs, pan fried, and covered with a lemon-butter sauce, chopped parsley, and chopped hard-boiled egg.

Paella Valenciana is probably well-known to you, so I won't spend much time on it. Strangely, it is not the fish which make the dish, but the rice which soaks up the fish and spices broth.

The palomilla (butterfly) flank steak is a fairly tough, thin steak, coated with Cuban spices. It is a very typical Cuban (and Latin-American) dish which is extremely flavorful.

Ropa Vieja, "Old Clothes" in English, is a pot roast which has been cooked in a tomato, water, and spices broth until it is falling apart into its component strands--hence, the name, "old clothes." It is usually served with white rice, although yellow rice may appear in Tampa versions, where there is a preference for this type of rice. It is nothing fancy but may be my favorite Cuban dish.

Chicken salteado is a sort of Cuban version of a Chinese chow mein dish. It is a combination of cubed chicken, potatoes, and vegetables, sauteed over high heat briefly, with the typical Cuban spices.

Brazo gitano (gypsy's arm--I have no idea why) is a cake soaked in a sherry sauce. It is filled with whipped cream, strawberries, and topped with merengue. Then it is served tableside and flambeed.

Churros are a pieces of donut-like cake, deep fried like a donut, and covered with powdered sugar. They are not greasy, and, when hot, absolutely irresistible--sweet, light, and crunchy.

Anyway, this is what the Cuban aspect of Tampa has to offer. I'm a fan of the Columbia and have no connection to it. Its address is 2117 East 7th Avenue, Tampa. Phone: (813) 248-4961. I hope that you have chance to go there.

Dec 27, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

From NY and desparately searching for cheese curd!!!

The Winter Park Publix at 440 N. Orlando Avenue (i.E., State Road 17/92) just reopened a few weeks ago, after being closed for many months for remodeling. As part of its renovation, the mix of products carried in the store has changed and moved more upscale. I noticed that the deli department, where the high-end cheeses are sold, now carries cheese curd, as of December 2014. (They sell cheeses at four different locations in the store.) I've never tried this food, but I've read people praising it on these boards.

Dec 21, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Gravy burning off?


I think that your point is well taken. The actual cooking time is 25 minutes plus 15 minutes, plus 25 minutes, but I suppose that in so far as burning the gravy goes, it is only the last 25 minutes that one needs to be concerned about, since the gravy was not made until the last 25 minutes of cooking time. With the small amount of liquid that the cook put in the pan, I don't see how he could cook the bird for 25 minutes without burning the gravy.

Also, I think that keeping the skin crisp is a lost cause. The plate on the top will insure that the skin will be soggy, no matter what the cook does.

Sep 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Silky Smooth Macaroni and Cheese - need Sodium Citrate.

First, I tried printing out the Modernist Cuisine article because I would really like to try this Mac 'n Cheese recipe with sodium citrate. I got 14 blank pages.

Then I tried printing out the article using the "print" icon included with the article. This time I got the introductory page (with no recipe on it), plus three pages of photographs, again with no recipe.

The recipe is there (in extremely small--unreadable-- print), but I am defeated as to how to get to it in readable form.

Happily, the posters' comments and CaptCrunch's recipe did print out in readable form, so I guess I will try his recipe, even though it does not include sodium citrate as an emusifier.

Worst Cooking Disaster Thread

I want to warn you about the botulism. Boiling the food with the botulism bacteria in it kills the bacteria, but it does not affect the already released super-powerful toxin already created by the botulism bacteria. So whatever it is that you made, it is NOT safe to eat.

As for my food disaster, I was once playing a board game with some friends. My little brother decided that he would make some hot fudge ice cream topping. He liked mine, so he followed the recipe which I had written out. When he got to the part about how much salt to add, I was distracted by the game I was playing, and I told him, "Oh, just add a little mountain," meaning a teaspoon or so. He filled his entire hand with salt and poured it into the chocolate mixture. Nothing could save that batch!

Sep 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

What happened to the Buca di Beppo in Tampa?

I think that Carrabba's is a much better restaurant than Bucca di
Beppo ever was. In fact, among chains, I would nominate Carrabba's as the number one Italian chain.

Sep 24, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

DTW restaurant emphasizing healthful choices

This is a midwest board. Perhaps many people are not familiar with those counties. I'm not. That could explain the problem. Are those counties in Michigan? Indiana?

Sep 23, 2014
gfr1111 in Great Lakes

Issue roasting chicken thighs on foil lined baking sheet?

Although I hate overcooked meat, including poultry and fish (and generally find that people are fanatics about intentionally overcooking, safety being their concern), I have had the same problem that you reported about oven-baking chicken thighs and chicken legs. My probe thermometer (which I have tested and is accurate) consistently tells me that the legs or thighs are at 165, but later, I find them pink and underdone. I think that the bones throw off the readings.

I just anticipate this and roast to a higher temperature, cutting one or two open to see when the pink stops appearing.

C. Hampster recommends 180 degrees Fahrenheit for thighs and I can't argue with that. It seems reasonable. As she notes, chicken thighs are so fat-laden that the danger of them drying out is minimal. (Also, C. Hampster is rarely wrong about any advice she puts on these boards, in my observation.)

One last bit of advice: there is not much "carry over" with thighs or legs, so roast them to the temperature you want. I guess this is because the pieces of poultry are so small.

Sep 20, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Mistakes, I've made a few

Lamb da calculus, I'm also having trouble finding anyone who knows how to sharpen a Japanese knife (Global, in my case). All you have to do is ask him/her at what angle he/she would sharpen the blade and you know you have an ignoramus, no matter how much expertise he/she claims.

It's not like you can't find the answer out in five minutes on the internet (or on the directions for a Japanese knife, which comes with the purchase).

Also, the last "good old boy" (I live in Florida) to whom I brought my knife, chortled at my Global chef's knife's single bevel edge, showed it to his compatriot, and they had a good laugh about Japanese quality control. What bozos!

Anyway, I may have to mail my knives away to somewhere, which I hate to do, preferring to deal directly with a (human) knife sharpener, but so far, all I have encountered are uneducated louts and sixteen year old kids working at the local hardware store. (The kids are nice but I doubt their degree of expertise to qualify them to work on my hundred dollar plus knives.) But meanwhile, my Japanese blades are getting duller and duller . . .

Aug 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Cookware

Looking for light and upbeat or soothing conversational cooking shows

For light and upbeat, I would choose Ina Garten's "The Barefoot Contessa." For soothing, I would choose Laura Calder's "French Cooking at Home." Both shows do not require heavy attention to follow what is going on.

I also love Alton Brown's "Good Eats" for its humor and boatload of useful information, but it requires more concentration to follow and is more of a science show than the other two I have listed. So maybe this fits into the OP"s "great or complicated" category, except that it is so darned funny.

Aug 23, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

What is the back story of Laura Calder's "French Food at Home"?

When Laura Calder appeared on the Cooking Channel around the time of its inception, my understanding was that she had produced one season of 26 Canadian shows in 2007 and it was not until several years later that the American Food Network, trying to create a second channel, picked up her show. I further understood that by the time the Cooking Channel began airing her one season shows, she had decamped for France and no more shows were available.

Recently, I discovered that she has been making more shows in Canada, steadily, apparently for the last four years, at least.

Yet the Cooking Channel seems to be airing the same dozen or so shows--not 26--over and over and over and over again.

What gives? Are we ever going to see any other shows? This is one of my favorite cooking shows.

Aug 23, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

Anyone tried this recipe?

When I read the ingredients for this dish, my first question was, "Where's the flavor?" Look at the ingredients: butternut squash--essentially flavorless unless you add brown sugar, honey, or spices (which are not called for in this dish); penne pasta--nice texture, but flavorless; ricotta cheese--weird texture and flavorless; sage--plenty of flavor; parsley--essentially flavorless; parmesan cheese--plenty of flavor; hazelnuts--good texture, not much flavor; chicken broth--good flavor, if you make it from scratch, otherwise pretty bland and salty. My point is that it is pretty hard to make a flavorful dish out of parmesan cheese, sage, and chicken broth.

Dee S's comment is right on: "It was a bit boring . . ."

Aug 22, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

The best (store bought) hot dog buns

Bakery hot dog buns blow away those in the bread aisle, in my opinion. But among ones in the bread aisle, I like Pepperidge Farm.

Aug 18, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Just ate lobster for the first time

You're a frequent poster on these boards, RealMenJulienne, and you have a lively interest in food. Why in the world have you not tasted lobster before now? It just seems so unusual for a Chowhound.

I'm from the Chicago area originally, so I can understand the off-putting high price and the fact that Chicago is something like 700 miles inland. Still, it just flabbergasts (love that word) me.

I agree with the posters that you had an overcooked soft shell lobster. Since I was transplanted to Florida, I've had soft shell lobsters and they are not nearly as good as cold water ones.

Please try again and take some care. Have the lobster at an expensive seafood restaurant and make sure it is from cold water, preferably Canada, Maine, or Massachusetts. You are really missing out on something here.

Aug 18, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Where are Florida's best fish tacos?

California Tacos to Go at 1450 Skipper Road (near the intersection of Bearss East and Skipper Road) in Tampa has good fish tacos. This appears to be their specialty. You can miss them easily because they are on a curve of Bearss Road and set back from the road quite a bit. It's take-out and then you can eat on a wooden bench under some big trees, if you want.

I thought that they were quite good--for fish tacos--but I must admit that I don't "get" fish tacos. Fish tacos are so mildly flavored . . .

Aug 18, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Mayonnaise safety: A question about salmonella on the shell of the egg (from a skeptic)

I ditto what VTB said. Thanks! It is always fascinating to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about. You obviously do.

Aug 17, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Mayonnaise safety: A question about salmonella on the shell of the egg (from a skeptic)

Actually, I am not worried about it. I was being a bit sarcastic about the salmonella. The "crawling with unclean death" quotation is from a poem in science fiction writer Robert Heinlein's novel, "The Green Hills of Earth":

"We rot in the moulds of Venus,
We retch at her tainted breath.
Foul are her flooded jungles,
Crawling with unclean death."

I meant to suggest that our concern about salmonella in eggs is a bit overwrought, in my opinion. Still, the questions I asked are questions to which I would like to get the answers.

Aug 15, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Mayonnaise safety: A question about salmonella on the shell of the egg (from a skeptic)

I was recently looking at a recipe for "Japanese" mayo (which, incidentally, seems pretty much like "European" mayo to me), and came across a curious warning in a footnote that I should wash the eggs with water before cracking the eggs because they could be covered with salmonella. Would water be effective? Wouldn't something stronger be needed?

Now, I have read on these boards that the outside of eggs from commercial providers are treated with something (soap? alcohol?) to kill off or wash off any bacteria or viruses. Is this true or not?

I have also read that the "dangerous" salmonella which accompanies an egg is on the INSIDE of the egg and arrived there through the chicken's internal egg-making organs, as the egg was being created, and is not found on the outside of the egg. Is this true or not?

I have also read that the FDA, or other authoritative sources, estimates that the number of salmonella infected eggs is one in 10,000/20,000/30,000/40,000, depending on where you get your information.

So, are these correct statistics? Can everybody stop worrying about eggs "crawling with unclean death"? This skeptic would like to know.

Aug 15, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Looking for Mom's Bread Pudding Recipe


I think that Rainey's suggestion is a good one. Although I have never tried it, I suspect that you could slice the French bread in the recipe I posted much thicker and, as long as the bread was thoroughly soaked in the custard before baking, you would get the sort of bread pudding with a matrix of custard that you are thinking of. There would be almost no "free" custard, but there would be plenty of it in the bread.

Alternatively, you could slice the French bread slices fairly thinly, as called for in the recipe, but load the custard up with them, so that they don't just float on top. The pudding would have a bread component from top to bottom.

Aug 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Have you ever made Boston Cream Pie?


Thanks so much for the recipe. I love it when Chowhounders actually provide recipes on these boards. So useful! It takes a lot of work and I appreciate it.

Aug 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Is there anything better than Boars Head cold cuts?

I like Boar's Head products. But Usinger's is great. After I moved to Florida, I could rarely get Usinger's.

Aug 11, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics