sockii's Profile

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Rudest grocery checker remark

I actually have worked retail for over 15 years (art gallery/jewelry store/craft fairs), so yes, I have my share of stories from that side of the counter and I'm fully aware of what it can be like. That's what communities/forums like "Customers Suck" are for.

Doesn't negate the fact that people working supermarket/grocery retail can say some really rude and inappropriate things as well.

1 day ago
sockii in Not About Food

Is dessert optional?

Sometimes an appetizer, entree or side dish at a dinner party can be a lot more "high calorie" than a dessert offering - just keep that in mind that it's not just the end of the meal that may not be so health conscious.

Personally if I'm having a dinner party I'll try to have lighter dessert offerings available instead of just a rich and heavy pie or cake, like some fresh fruit or simple cookies for nibbling. I'm not much of a dessert person myself, in general, but other people in my social circle/family are so I know I have to have something for them available at the end of a meal. But I've never seen dessert "forced" on anyone who didn't want it, or there being any issue if a person declined anything sweet or asked for just a small taste to be polite.

Feb 27, 2015
sockii in Not About Food
1

My Family Doesn't Eat My Cooking

I'll absolutely second Goblin's suggestions about trying to get the kids involved in cooking. Also see if they can slowly be won over by new and different cuisines that may seem fun or different because of the way they're eaten, and child-friendly (ethnic finger foods, foods on a stick, etc.)

When I was really little I was a terrible picky eater myself. Plain pasta, McDonalds, fried foods, basic sandwihes. But getting a little older, say about 9 or 10, I started helping out in the kitchen more with my mom and grandmother and that started to get me more interested in eating beyond basic kids stuff. My mom also began taking me to some Japanese restaurants and I got fascinated by the food because of the pretty, colorful plating, getting to "sit on the floor" in Tatami rooms, etc. It was a while before I moved beyond tempura to sushi, but it was definitely the start of getting me more interested in different foods, both out in restaurants and at home.

Feb 26, 2015
sockii in Not About Food

Rudest grocery checker remark

Last month ShopRite had their annual "Can Can" sale going strong, and yes, I am one of those people who stocks up like mad at such times on canned goods.

As soon as I started unloading my cart onto the belt, the checker started bitching and moaning at the bagger about how much she hated the Can Can sale. This went on for quite some time about how much extra work it was for her, all the heavy lifting and bagging, etc.

Way to make a customer feel unwelcome and uncomfortable! I actually leave a comment for the local store manager about the incident after the fact. Never heard anything after the fact, but I didn't hear any more complaints about the Can Can sale from checkers after that either.

Feb 26, 2015
sockii in Not About Food

Masterchef Junior Finale 2/24/2015 spoilers

I admit I kind of am tired, at this point, of how often rack of lamb seems to be a main course of choice in a finale battle on MasterChef (Elizabeth did it last season on the adult show, Josh did it in MC 3). That and short ribs which seems to be a default protein. I'd just like to see more contestants do something different in the finale main course: more seafood, something with poultry or pork...but I do get a sense quite often there is a bias in tastes and flavor profiles with the judges and perhaps too what is available in the pantry for them to work with.

I will agree that perhaps it was a mistake conceptually to do a sweet risotto after a stuffed pasta...individually I would have loved all of those dishes but perhaps a lighter main course (a grilled fish?) or dessert (something as unique as Luca's Caprese panna cotta) would have lightened things up a bit. But, for an 11-year old kid? I'm not going to fault him for going for the things he knows and loves. I would equally have found a gratin for an appetizer and a tart for a dessert, as Nathan presented, kind of heavy and not how I would have chosen to order a dinner for myself.

Feb 25, 2015
sockii in Food Media & News

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition! [OLD]

The sweetie told me to pick out three cookbooks on Amazon for Valentine's Day this year, so I ended up choosing:

Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals
- because I got a shabu shabu pot for Christmas and wanted some good recipes to try finally using it!

Sicilia in Cucina: The Flavours of Sicily
Cucina Napoletana: 100 Recipes from Italy's Most Vibrant City

- these two because while I have more Italian cookbooks than any human could really need, I don't have either focusing specifically on these regional cuisines. I already have the "in Cucina: Flavors of" Venice book which is lovely, so eventually I want to collect the entire series.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition! [OLD]

What are some good recipes in that book for a relative baking "newbie" to try first? I do tons of savory cooking but never can get into baking as it seems so fussy. I got this book on a bargain table for $5 hoping it would encourage me to get over my baking "phobia" but have yet to try anything yet.

Feb 25, 2015
sockii in Home Cooking

Masterchef Junior Finale 2/24/2015 spoilers

I was at the viewing party at Andrew's school gym last night to see the finale. Needless to say the entire room was shocked when Nathan was announced as the winner, local favorite bias aside.

Andrew is incredibly gracious and actually rather shy and soft-spoken in person; further evidence not to believe the way you see these kids edited on tv. His mom and dad are super lovely as well, and you wouldn't have guessed the entire night that he wasn't the winner from the way he kept cheering things on and keeping up the excitement. Winner or not he's a huge hero to a lot of people around here right now (especially the younger kids in his school). It's hard to believe he's just a sixth grader, seriously.

He did have one good Jersey-boy comment when someone asked him afterwards how he felt about negative comments about him and trash talk online. He just shrugged it off and said he ignored them; "if people want to spend all day on the MC Junior facebook page talking about a bunch of kids, that's their problem. They should get a job!"

2 Nights in Philly - Restaurant Recs for Seasoned Brooklyn Foodie

+1 for Zeppoli; worth an uber trip for some of the best Italian you are seriously going to find outside of Italy (see my recent post about a meal there).

You might also want to get on the mailing list for Shola's StudioKitchen dinners...very fun experience of getting to watch a chef at work individually cooking/plating everything for you, usually a max of 10-12 people so it's like a private dinner party. Held in a, yes, "studio kitchen" in South Philly. Seats tend to sell out fast as soon as the schedule is announced every month, especially for weekends. http://www.studiokitchen.com/taste

Someone else mentioned Sbraga; I went a few months ago with two friends from California who are big foodies and they both thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I. The vandouvan chicken is worth the trip alone.

Being from Brooklyn I'm not sure much of our Asian offerings would really wow, except perhaps Rangoon as mentioned for the chance to enjoy Burmese food.

Feb 24, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia

Aldine

Shola Olunloyo is who you are referring to. And yes, parking is a bitch in the new location unless you're an a-hole like we are and just park at the ACME and take our chances if we can't find anything on the street nearby. Well worth the parking hassle, though.

Feb 21, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia
1

Bridal Shower Brunch Location

The brunch + party size + byob + "downtown" + $30 combination seems like a really hard combination to fill in Philly. I really think you might need to look at some actual event spaces for something like that (ie, hotel banquet rooms) or more out of the city than in it. Like, I can think of a number of larger restaurants in nearby South Jersey that could probably fit the brunch/large party/$30 price point but not in Center City for sure.

Feb 20, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia

Rehearsal dinner, South Jersey

How many people? What time of year? BYOB or with alcohol? Any cuisine preferences?

With an outdoor space, what are you talking about - just outdoor seating or a place for scenic photos? For the later I would say that I've been to some very nice events at Auletto's; nice gardens and the food, especially in the wine cellar, was very good (less so the traditional banquet upstairs): http://auletto.com/about/

You might want to check with some of the wineries down here which don't necessary do food themselves but where you might be able to bring in your own caterers, or work with one of the businesses which does regular weekend dinners with them. I especially recommend Auburn Road Winery which has a lovely tasting room, outdoor seating, great local wines (no really) and works with several local eateries for dinner events. If my sweetie and I ever tie the knot they are pretty much where I've decided I want to have our event:

http://auburnroadvineyards.com/

Heritage in Mullica Hill I know does a lot of such special events as well. I don't think their wines are as good but it's easy access from Philly, right off 55/322:

http://www.heritagewinenj.com/

In Collingswood itself, Zeppoli is just incredible, it is byob and small but if you book in advance maybe you could get the entie place for a night? They do have a small outdoor space in season.

Feb 20, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia

Vetri "Cooking Classes"...any opinions? Anyone been?

http://vetriristorante.com/events/

I do enjoy a good cooking class but I'm wondering if anyone's been to the events offered by Vetri and if they are worth the price. $100-200/person is a lot for me; I will say I did some of the classes offered by Shola at StudioKitchen last year and loved them, ended up really putting into use at home what I learned in those classes so that's kind of my comparison at this point.

Feb 20, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia

Masterchef Juniors semifinals 2/17/2015 spoilers.

I'm curious to see how Christina does as well - I've been feeling for ages that MC needed a female judge and that it might, hopefully, tone down some of what often reads as sexism on the show (all those closeups on Courtney's high heels last season, ugh.)

The cynical part of my wonders if the producers noted the backlash against Courtney and how many viewers accused the judges of bias, hence finally we get a female judge.

(Luca is my favorite winner of all time, too. I love his cookbook and actually use it a lot, and I'd LOVE to see him on a cooking show!)

Feb 19, 2015
sockii in Food Media & News
1

Place to buy shells for shellfish stock

I would check the local Asian markets for head-on shrimp? Shrimp heads and shells are my favorite for making a good shellfish stock and then you can just use the shrimp meat however you like.

Feb 15, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia
1

does silence on an rsvp mean they aren't coming ?

The OP talks about inviting "12 families" on her side...they can't all grandparents of this kid, I would imagine? Ergo, some extended family members may have other things more pressing to do with their time (or reasons why attending an infant's birthday party could be a lesser priority/actually not something they'd want to do. As someone who has struggled for years with infertility and can't have children, infant-oriented parties can be emotionally horrible for me to attend. So I just decline as soon as invited, and send a gift/card/whatever instead.)

Feb 14, 2015
sockii in Not About Food

does silence on an rsvp mean they aren't coming ?

Um. perhaps best not to make assumptions what other people you don't even know may have going on in their lives? "Social stuff" may be very secondary to other concerns people have in their lives. Again, no excuse for not saying yay or nay on an RSVP, but let's just not make presumptions that no one might have something going on in their lives that takes precedence just because it's not a major holiday season at the moment. (And some folks may have personal reasons for not feeling comfortable at an infant's birthday party, and that could add to reticence on accepting an invite to an event being promoted as such.)

Feb 14, 2015
sockii in Not About Food

does silence on an rsvp mean they aren't coming ?

Well, I was more thinking that some folks might be more interested in a housewarming (ie, a party more for adults) than a kid's birthday (more for kids/those with young kids). "it's not about a birthday" you said in your original post and now you say "is was def clear its a kids celebration", so...?

But regardless, if you included RSVP info, and people didn't, then assume they aren't coming and leave it at that. It's rude they didn't respond one way or another, sure, but I wouldn't turn it into a huge kerfluffle like others have said.

Feb 14, 2015
sockii in Not About Food

does silence on an rsvp mean they aren't coming ?

When you sent out the invites, did you make it clear that RSVPs were requested/required because it was a catered event? (Including a deadline date?) If not, people may have just assumed it would be a casual gathering that they could show up to or not at the last minute, depending.

I find it's really important to specify these things these days, just to avoid awkward situations and misunderstandings like what you are describing here.

It's also weird what your father said, because my SO's family are hardcore Jersey Italians and oh lord, EVERY event in ANY of the young kids' lives means another big party everyone is expected to attend--definitely including 1st birthdays. And if we don't there can be ~drama~. But how much also did you make it sound like a kid's birthday party versus a housewarming? That could have also affected some people's enthusiasm for attending one way or another (although that does not excuse not RSVPing, attending or not.)

Feb 14, 2015
sockii in Not About Food

Zeppolis, Collingswood: The Whole Truth

Yeah, I mean...I don't mind small menus at all. In general it seems a good sign that the (few) options available will be fresh made and hopefully seasonal. But if not for all the buzz here and a few other places online I'm not sure I would have ever made a special point to visit. (Then again, seeing how packed they were on a Wednesday night, turning away people at the door, it's not like they are hurting for business!)

I'd also comment that the decor is minimal and dark to the point of being almost detrimental to the experience. At night the small, black and white photos on the walls are pretty much impossible to see, and the space just felt like it could use a little warmth to better capture what I'd expect for a restaurant with a Sicilian theme.

Feb 12, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia
1

Secrets to easy kitchen cleaning?

My biggest secret? I have a housecleaner come every two weeks.

Hey, you said easy, not cheap :)

Zeppolis, Collingswood: The Whole Truth

Yeah, I was planning on the antipasto, but then I heard "sardines" as a special. Resistance was futile at that point.

Feb 12, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia
1

Zeppolis, Collingswood: The Whole Truth

Finally made it to Zeppoli last night for an early Valentine's dinner (no way we're going out this weekend). All of the above comments are spot-on - this place is incredible. Truly comparable to Italian food in Italy: robust flavors, incredible pasta, and unique dishes you aren't going to find elsewhere.

We totally pigged out. I think because we'd mentioned it was our first visit and we ordered a ton of food, we got an amuse of two of their gnudi in brown butter. What a way to start the night! We then shared two specials to start: beef carpaccio and grilled sardines. The sardines in particular were out of this world. Two pastas: the Pesto Trapanese and the Tagliatelli al Limone with bottarga. Took some convincing of our server that yes, I knew what bottarga was and I knew that the dish would/should have a very assertive lemon flavor. Absolutely one of the best pasta dishes I've had since, well...I guess my last trip to Italy.

For mains I got the rabbit, which was truly fork tender and with beautiful roast potatoes. Sweetie for the special of the evening, a roasted whole fish which despite being told would be sized for one (we asked whether we should just share one fish), ended up being, as the waiter said when he brought it out, "the biggest whole fish I've seen tonight!") And it was also I think the BEST whole fish I've ever had served in a restaurant, rich with so many flavors (fennel, olives, capers, lemons) yet without obscuring the delicacy of the fish.

Somehow we still had room for the zeppolis and panna cotta - which were actually best combined together, like an evil decadent cream donut or something.

Truly, I only regret it's taken us so long to get there. I guess the menu online hadn't completely grabbed my interest and photos of the food I'd seen do no justice to their flavor. But the noise comments are correct; I'm glad we arrived early, at 6, when there were only a few occupied tables. By the time we left at 8 and the place was full, it was almost impossible to hear each other. Our bill on the higher side (about $170 before tip) but no doubt because we got a whole fish and several specials of the night. And ordering way more food than we genuinely needed but hey, it's Valentine's so worth indulging.

Masterchef Junior 2/10/2015

I don't think it's a knock off of Top Chef's RWs...as far back as I can remember in the adult MasterChef US, the top six have always had to do a "restaurant takeover", and it's always been one of my least favorites every season. The difference is that in the adult version the losing team gets a cook-off to see who goes home, but with the kids it always seems to be two arbitrarily sent home from the losing team. Unfair and annoying but how they always do it for the condensed kids version.

I still like Andrew, but that's probably my local bias showing through. If they're doing another viewing party for him next week I'm hoping to try to make it. (http://www.nj.com/indulge/index.ssf/2...)

Feb 11, 2015
sockii in Food Media & News

Gordon Ramsay opening a pub in Atlantic City

It's AC, so the prices seem about what I'd expect for the (inflated) averages there. Obviously it's a theme place anyway. Part of me would actually love to go to have the Hell's Kitchen Beef Wellington after all of these years...

Feb 11, 2015
sockii in New Jersey
1

Sous Vide HELP!? What am I doing wrong?

Responding as someone who has been using a SVS successfully and happily for over a year now:

1. As others have said, your time and temperature was possibly too long, but definitely too high. While yes, you can hold meat at a temperature for a long time sous vide, beyond a certain amount of time the texture will degrade and become mushy. (In some cases you are better to cook, chill, and then rewarm otherwise.)

My SVS time/temp "cheat sheet" that came with my Sous Vide Supreme says chicken breasts (boneless) should be done at 146F for at least 1 hour, no more than 2-4 hours. If you were starting from partly frozen you would have to up the time a bit, but definitely not the temperature. Upping the temperature is NOT the way to deal with frozen vs. fresh except to a small amount to get out of the danger zone quickly at the start of cooking. I recommend the Sous Vide Dash application for determining appropriate temperatures and cooking times for various types and cuts of proteins http://www.sousvidedash.com/ I also highly suggest getting Thomas Keller's "Under Pressure" if not for the recipes just for the science and real understanding of how and why to cook sous vide.

It's not that the claims about cook and hold are bogus, but you have to really actually understand the science and food products involved. You can't just leave a steak or chicken breast or whatever in at a certain temperature indefinitely without certain textural changes happening.

2. If you are worried about doneness, get a thermocouple so you can test the meat internally without puncturing the seal on a vacuum pouch. But following guidelines via the Sous Vide Dash I've yet to have any problems (or make anyone sick).

3. While some oil/seasoning/fresh herbs are a good idea with sous vide cooking, be cautious about the amounts. The vacuum packing and long cooking time can sometimes intensify flavors almost unpleasantly, and as has been said wait on salt for just searing at the end.

4. I really find sous vide the best, personally, for steaks and roasts or doing poultry confit.

Feb 10, 2015
sockii in Home Cooking
1

New to Philly and I need awesome food in my life and belly!!

Hah! I'm so glad you have enjoyed The Pub :) It is definitely an experience, one we enjoy every so often since there's really nothing else like it.

Feb 06, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia
1

Some questions for my NJ friends about our home board...

The problem I have is that a lot of the South Jersey conversation seems to get booted/directed to the Philadelphia board. Which, yeah...no. I used to live in Philly. I now live in South Jersey. I don't want to talk about SJ dining options on the Philly board. I'm generally not interested in driving into Philly to eat out. It feels very much to me like the "New Jersey" section here is really Central/North Jersey only so there's not a lot here I feel like I can contribute or add to.

Feb 05, 2015
sockii in New Jersey
1

New to Philly and I need awesome food in my life and belly!!

anvali, any follow up some months after the fact? Would be interested to hear what you've tried and liked/disliked before throwing out any other suggestions.

Feb 05, 2015
sockii in Philadelphia
1

Rachael Ray gets on my last nerve

I'm not a fan of her shows nor her style of cooking, but I met her totally by accident about a year ago at a rock concert -- I just ended up next to her and her husband in the pit. She was just about one of the nicest and down to earth celebs I've met, so I've had to cut her some slack since then (and give her some props for her taste in music as well.)