caravan70's Profile

Title Last Reply

Applebee's $375. Not $3.75....$375

But... you'll be surrounded by several million drunk people. And if you want to watch it from a nearby restaurant, you'll be charged ridiculous prices. I always think it's better to head out to a special event, such as one at a good jazz club (The Stone had John Zorn and Thurston Moore this year.) Watching the ball drop is fine if you're in college and don't care about little things like 10-degree weather and being surrounded by millions of people. These days, I'd rather see it on television from a decent bar.

Jan 29, 2014
caravan70 in Chains

Applebee's $375. Not $3.75....$375

The problem with dining in Times Square is... being in Times Square. Better to take a cab or the subway - even if only a few blocks - either uptown or downtown and go to a non-chain place that's a little more interesting. Even the restaurants up by Lincoln Center have it all over the tourist traps down where the ball drops.

Jan 29, 2014
caravan70 in Chains

What Food Trend are You So Sick Of?

I think you're right... another facet of what I was trying to say, I suppose. "Prix fixe" sounds French and classy to many people; "fixed price" sounds downmarket and brassy. This might speak to a certain sense of cultural inferiority here in the U.S. - gussy things up in French and they sound sublime; speak in American English and they sound a little diner-ish and quotidian. And that would bring us back to the monetary issue... lots of folks would like to seem old-money instead of nouveau riche, and "Downton Abbey" instead of Lubbock oil gusher or hedge fund. Seems to me they're sort of looking for an instant faux sophistication.

Mar 06, 2013
caravan70 in General Topics

What Food Trend are You So Sick Of?

Belated reply, but I suspect the reason "prix fixe" is such a fixture in American restaurants instead of "fixed price" is that no one wants to reference anything as "sordid" as money on their menus. Same reason so many restaurants have taken the dollar signs off of their menu prices... another disturbing food trend. Everything is "15" rather than "$15."

Mar 06, 2013
caravan70 in General Topics

What discontinued products do you miss?

Speaking of Franco-American, one of my guilty pleasures used to be their macaroni and cheese in a can. Creamy, runny, not really too powerful in flavor, but delicious with hamburger patties and some Lea & Perrins. My dad and I were both big fans, and I took the trouble to write the company after it disappeared... they sent me some coupons, but didn't bring back the mac and cheese....

May 06, 2012
caravan70 in General Topics

What discontinued products do you miss?

I used to love the fried chicken at Woolworth's... a real treat to go downtown and fill up on that. Seems like the diners in midrange department stores have disappeared.

May 06, 2012
caravan70 in General Topics

What discontinued products do you miss?

A belated response, but your Vanessi's mention reminded me of their minestrone soup you were once able to get in supermarkets - my favorite minestrone for years. I really miss that soup. :(

May 06, 2012
caravan70 in General Topics

Advantages, Disadvantages and Uses of a cast Iron skillet

slowshooter, if most of us could pick up the kind of things you seem to be finding, we would. I live in upstate NY, and I virtually never see a single cast iron skillet at a flea market or in a thrift store. I'd love to know where you're shopping - Le Creuset at a flea market?

Yes, you have to be a discerning buyer on eBay, but it's like any other transaction: you have to be aware of feedback, and you have to look at the description closely. If you don't like what you see, you pass and look for a better deal. It's all about patience - eBay isn't about "getting it now"; it's about pouncing when you finally see what you want.

As for the quality of Griswold - I can only tell you that I own quite a few, and the slant Griswolds are lighter, seem to conduct heat more quickly, and are aesthetically more pleasing than any other cast-iron skillets I own (and I do have a few modern Lodges and such).

Apr 25, 2012
caravan70 in Cookware

Advantages, Disadvantages and Uses of a cast Iron skillet

One point on the acquisition of a good cast-iron skillet - you can find great 100-year-old Griswolds on eBay for $50 or so, shipping included. Seems a shame to buy a brand-new pan when you can find one that was much better-made in the days when people relied on them.

I keep my #8 on top of the stove because I use it so often. As others have mentioned, it's not good to cook acidic foods in it, but I find it's superior to non-stick for heat retention and I can fry just about anything in it, transfer it to the oven if I need to, and it's easy to clean.

Apr 25, 2012
caravan70 in Cookware

Do you have family/friends who don't appreciate good home cooking?

+1. The key is to be true to yourself, and pursue excellence in all things in your own life, while behaving in a responsible fashion with respect to society and the environment, especially where food is concerned. That may mean sacrificing some relationships, but you'll feel a hell of a lot better about yourself and the life you've lived in the long run. Where you don't really have control over the relationships - in-laws, etc. ... as I've mentioned, give them what they want and don't let their negativity affect your own pleasure in the smells, the sounds, and the feelings you get when you're in your kitchen, much less the finished products.

Apr 25, 2012
caravan70 in Not About Food

Do you have family/friends who don't appreciate good home cooking?

I agree that much of the problem lies in a perception of "elitism." Shouldn't life be about finding the best of everything, be it food, music, art, theatre, TV, films, and on and on? If that's elitist, I'll gladly own up to the label.

I've arrived at a point at which I cook for myself and a few selected others who appreciate the effort and curiosity about ingredients, technique, and presentation involved. Others - well, I don't really worry about them, and stick out a bowl of mixed nuts, some Tostitos, and let them dial the number for the takeout. ;)

Apr 25, 2012
caravan70 in Not About Food

Visiting Northampton Next Month - Restaurants and Grinders

I agree completely with you on Amanouz - the tagine is excellent. Sierra Grille is also great.

Ye Ol' Watering Hole is a true classic - the beer can collection makes it special, along with the great drink prices. Hugo's is pretty great as well in the dive bar category, and given that it's quite nearby makes the combination great for bar-hopping.

As I remember, Sylvester's isn't too bad for brunch, either....

Apr 25, 2012
caravan70 in Southern New England

Visiting Northampton Next Month - Restaurants and Grinders

For a classic Northampton experience, try Joe's Cafe on Market. Terrific red-and-white checkered tablecloth Italian dining. Pizza Amore, over by the Smith campus, also has excellent food.

You'll want to head over to Atkins Farms near the Hampshire campus if you have time. Terrific local products with an old-time feel - you can eat right there in their cafe. Also, don't pass up Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley for great ice cream, made from milk from their cows right on the farm.

For burgers, Local Burger on Main Street is terrific - Brimfield grass-fed beef, and wonderful shakes. One of my favorite burger joints in the country, to be honest.

Hope you enjoy your trip! I'll be back next month for my own college reunion in a town just up Route 9. :)

Apr 23, 2012
caravan70 in Southern New England

Everything is relative. Olive Garden can be the best you've got. Does it matter?

Chinon00, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I'm fairly familiar with the North End (Regina's has some of the best pizza in the U.S., I think, for example), and with Providence. But there are many regions I simply don't travel to enough to be aware of their local specialties. I try to do a little Internet or book research before I go, but it's always a matter of asking the locals where they would go if they had a few dollars in their pocket and were hungry.

I think you're essentially echoing my point. You don't need to go to Olive Garden to get Italian food if you're in a reasonably sized American city. I don't have any brief against Olive Garden - if you're in Bismarck, that may well be your best option. But in most American cities, there are decent interpretations of (mostly southern) Italian food. You have to know where to go. And, thankfully, a site like this one can direct you to the best places in any city to which you might be heading.

And if you don't like those, you can always try Alitalia. ;)

Apr 02, 2012
caravan70 in Chains

so it's a chain, get over it [moved from Chains board]

I guess I shouldn't say they're wholly gone, Servorg... I just meant that they're harder to find. Guy Fieri does a great job of ferreting them out on that show, but while they were once legion - any town you went to had them - they're getting harder and harder to find, and you want to stick a historic preservation sticker on them when you do find them. I suppose that's why there's a television show about them - you can't take them for granted anymore. And I imagine that we never should have done so.

Apr 02, 2012
caravan70 in Site Talk

so it's a chain, get over it [moved from Chains board]

I don't have any problems with chains per se. If I see one of those 2/$4 Big Mac signs in a McDonald's window, I'm more than likely to stop in.

My problem is two larger ones. First, Americans have largely grown up on chains (at least since the 1950s), and older diners and restaurants have become the victim of the endless expansion of these places. The only venues that seem to have a personal culinary vision are very expensive eateries at which most people can't afford to eat. The days when a guy cooked you a hamburger, maybe threw a garlic clove in the middle and gave you a little sauce of his own invention on top, seem to be gone.

Second, expansion only encourages other people to try to make it big when they should be perfecting the food at one restaurant rather than 20. Entrepreneur-ship is a great thing, and should be applauded, but when you do one thing well - like run a single restaurant - why try to run ten more? Cooking - the culinary art in general - is about passion, not about trying to drag every possible dollar from every patron's wallet. You don't need to create an empire to have a happy life. Yet it seems that every individual who has a halfway-successful restaurant nowadays wants to open another location, and another, and so on ad infinitum.

Hey, I don't mind fast food at all. It fills needs: if I'm on the road, hungry, and desperate, I'll take a Taco Supreme. I'm just a little discouraged by the fact that everyone these days seems to want to be Ray Kroc. Isn't it enough to have a little restaurant that does a few things well, and friends who want to be there on a regular basis?

Apr 02, 2012
caravan70 in Site Talk

Everything is relative. Olive Garden can be the best you've got. Does it matter?

It occurs to me that the best option, wherever you find yourself, is to locate local cuisine at its best. Is it a hamburger? Great. Is it a wonderful paella? Great, too. The worst thing you can do is expect to find great examples of a particular culinary tradition in a place that is nowhere near where it originated.

The Olive Garden is not great. Is it horrible? No. I remember that when it was first instituted as a chain the Disney company, as I recall, ran taste tests in different areas of the U.S. and installed different menus based on regional preference. It's specifically calibrated to serve the taste buds of the people who walk through its doors - and this is a very American, and in some ways very appropriate, idea.

I don't go there. I've been once, maybe fifteen years ago. If I want good Italian food in the United States, I wait until I'm in New York City or maybe in North Beach. But I don't blame people for doing so. It has some decent dishes on the menu. I see a bigger issue here: the expansion of chains. At one time, you had a great little diner in every town. Now, you have Denny's and, yes, the Olive Garden. Towns are losing their individuality.

Again, that doesn't take away from the Olive Garden's basic one- to two-star quality. It's fine for what it is - not really bad at all. But we've lost a lot of great little mom-and-pop restaurants in the move to chain ubiquity.

Apr 02, 2012
caravan70 in Chains

Best thing you've found at a 99¢ Only Store?

They used to sell 4-packs of Frappucino knockoffs, which I liked a lot. A previous poster referred to the Hispanic foods - that may be the best thing about the place. I still get cans of halfway decent menudo, 2 for $.99. The hot sauce selection is surprisingly decent.

I like going up there because I never know what I'll find. Now that I live back East, I go to Ocean State Job Lot for the same sort of serendipity - last time I was in that place, I found dried wood-ear mushrooms that I used in a pasta dish the same night. You don't go to a dollar store with a purpose in mind, just the idea that you'll find something you can use.

Apr 02, 2012
caravan70 in Chains
1

Corned Beef with no spice packet?

It shouldn't be salty at all if you prepare it in a stockpot with sufficient water. I like to stick the corned beef at the bottom of the pan, then add a few halved onions, two bulbs of garlic, also halved, and some carrots and celery and a few bay leaves, peppercorns, and coriander seeds. (My butcher, whom I get the corned beef from a few times a year, insists that additional commercial pickling spice overwhelms the flavor of the meat - I've come to agree with him.) Then I just cover everything with water to about an inch over the top, and add some little red potatoes and cabbage at the right time so the potatoes are cooked perfectly and the cabbage doesn't get too sulfurous and overcooked. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! :)

Mar 16, 2012
caravan70 in Home Cooking

Steak restaurants - Lower Manhattan

I've also had a few good meals at Primehouse on Park at 27th, which would be a pleasant springtime walk from your hotel.

Also, I recall that Bobby Van's has always been quite good. It's in an old bank vault, which is an interesting experience. You can take a 1 train (7th Avenue IRT local) down there. I see that they seem to have several locations now, but the one you want to go to is the Broad Street flagship.

There's always Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, but it doesn't sound like you want a blowout. ;) But if you do, bring cash. They only accept their own proprietary credit cards.

-----
Primehouse New York
381 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016

Bobby Van's Steakhouse
25 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004

Mar 16, 2012
caravan70 in Manhattan

Cost of Bones

Great prices. I'd love to see those beef bone prices around here in particular.

Mar 16, 2012
caravan70 in General Topics

Cost of Bones

Here in Albany, I generally hit Rolf's Pork Store (yes, they sell more than pork), for chicken stock necks and backs. When I was there a couple of days ago they were on sale for 50 cents a pound, so I bought a ton of them, stuck them in the freezer, and can use them later on. I imagine there are similar places in other cities that need to dispose of those parts in an era in which people seem only to care for boneless chicken breasts. Beef and veal are a tougher proposition - I generally go to a local butcher and buy a big bag of bones, but they aren't always available, and as pointed out they're more pricey than I'd like. The best option I've found is to buy beef back ribs, which you can find frequently, roast them with some veggies, and then make brown stock. I've seen these recently in a few places for as low as $1.29/lb., but that's a far cry from the 59 cents a pound I was seeing only a few years ago.

Mar 16, 2012
caravan70 in General Topics

Cost of Bones

I think you're right on. A constant irritant to me is that most stores can't cut your preferred cut to order as most butcher shops once did. And if you try asking for stock bones in most supermarkets - like shins - you're be greeted with a blank look.

Mar 16, 2012
caravan70 in General Topics

Good chinese in the albany area?

I apologize for the belated reply. I think Ichiban is about the best we've got around here... the noodle dishes are quite decent. This was what I had in mind, if you get out west: the Shoki Ramen House. You'll find it here... the links don't seem to be working: http://www.yelp.com/biz/shoki-ramen-h...

As far as Chinese, I'm convinced that CCK is the best I've had in the area.

Thanks to everyone for the recommendations... they've made my life here a lot better. :

)

-----
Ichiban Restaurant
338 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12206

Ichiban Restaurant
556 Jefferson Plz, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776

May 06, 2011
caravan70 in New York State (exc. NYC)

Best Thai in Albany PLEASE!!!!

I've had some difficulty finding decent Thai food since I moved out from San Francisco. This seems to be a common lament, and I don't understand why a better restaurant than Capitol Thai or Sukhothai hasn't opened in the region. Please let me know if you find better options. :)

Jan 26, 2011
caravan70 in New York State (exc. NYC)

Good chinese in the albany area?

This is quite belated, but is there anywhere in the area to obtain decent saimin (as I grew up with in Hawaii in the 1970s? I lived in Northern California until recently, and there were good places to go there, but I'm having trouble finding good noodle shops in this area. I'd appreciate any ideas!

Jan 26, 2011
caravan70 in New York State (exc. NYC)

In desperate need of Korean Food

That would be Gohyang, I believe... It's indeed on the right if you're going east from Northampton. Not bad at all, and there's a little Korean market attached.

May 08, 2009
caravan70 in All New England Archive

Local Burger and Fries - Northampton

I agree that food is generally overpriced here in the Valley, especially given that we're sort of out in the middle of nowhere, but when you consider that you're getting a good-quality, non-fast food burger at LB&F for about $6, and a soft drink will set you back about two bucks anywhere these days, that $11 (with fries) per person doesn't seem so out of line. Sure, you'll pay a bit more if you want the local beef, but I don't see the name as deceptive - the casual observer is more likely, I think, to associate the name with local ownership than with locally-raised meat. If you don't think they make a particularly good burger that's one thing, but it's ridiculous in my view to suggest that it's horribly overpriced.

Apr 27, 2009
caravan70 in Southern New England

Thoughts on the Pioneer Valley

Looks worth trying... thanks for the tip! Still no al pastor, unfortunately, much less the menudo I've been missing so much, unfortunately... would love to see some Mexican restaurants in the area with more diverse options.

Mar 30, 2009
caravan70 in Southern New England

Good Mexican Food?

Thanks for the tip... I'll have to wander down that way one of these days! :)

Mar 30, 2009
caravan70 in Southern New England