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Do you hold Grudges against Restaurants? And for how long?

I live in a college town (Ok, Ann Arbor) where there is a local "organic pizzeria." I didn't really love the pizza - crust was too dry and chewy, toppings were not always to my taste-but I was asked to pick up a couple of pies on the way over to a gathering. They had an online ordering system, and I used it to order the pizzas. I didn't receive a confirmation email, so I called a couple of times just to confirm. No answer. I show up, and there's a blaringly loud jazz band in the corner. Clearly, there is no way of even hearing the phone ring with that racket! I had no idea three people could make that much noise. I walk up to the counter, state that I'm there to pick up my order, and the girl behind the counter blankly informs me that they didn't receive it. No apology, no suggesting alternatives. I say, ok- you deliver right? I order the pizzas and give them the address of the shindig. An hour and a half later, I call and am assured that the pizzas are on the way. (The apartment was 4 blocks away from the pizzeria.) Another hour later, I call back, shocked at the ineptitude of this place. As I am sputtering on the phone, "But this is what you DO! You make pizzas! How is this so hard???" The doorbell rings, and our cold, dry nasty pizzas have finally arrived.

Blech. Never again.

Apr 02, 2015
keslacye in Not About Food

thai basil and Korean chili paste in Ann Arbor?

Thank you! My mistake has been going to Chinese markets, it seems.

Oct 05, 2012
keslacye in Great Lakes

thai basil and Korean chili paste in Ann Arbor?

Hi All,
Does anyone know where I could find fresh thai basil in the Ann Arbor area? The Chinese grocery on Washtenaw only had one half-rotted bunch. Also, is there an Asian grocery where I could find kochujang and ssamjang?

Thanks much!

Oct 05, 2012
keslacye in Great Lakes

Spicy Green Rice (Arroz Verde)

This rice was tasty. I had a lot of people over, so I tripled the recipe. The nice thing about this recipe is that the amounts of peppers and herbs don't have to be so exact. I had a little less than required, so my rice wasn't as green as the photo, but it was a nice side dish to the chicken chile verde and Belizian beans I made as well. As others have posted - it's not spicy, it's just nicely herbal.

Jun 19, 2012
keslacye in Recipes

ammoglio . . . and Detroit?

I was just at my husband's friend's house yesterday (in Metro Detroit), where his wife (of Sicilian descent) had just made a batch of ammoglio out of fresh cherry tomatoes from her garden. Her recipe: take a bunch of ripe tomatoes, score the skins, blanch for a minute and then plunge into an ice bath. Remove skins. Rough chop tomatoes and place in strainer to remove excess liquid. (seeds are not removed) Pulse three times in a food processor to produce a very slightly chunky puree. (her husband likes it pretty smooth, but texture is up to you) Add a glug of EVOO, crush as much garlic as you can stand, and sprinkle some oregano, S+P to taste. (fresh basil did not make an appearance). She also said that you can make it with canned tomatoes in the winter.

Jul 31, 2011
keslacye in Great Lakes

No Special Treatment for Vegetarians at Barbecues

Personally, I think it is strange to equate "BBQ" with "ask your friends to bring their own meat." Unless you're still in college, then if you have a party - actually HOST the party. Guests should not be asked to bring their own main dishes. I would rather eat the same hot dogs and burgers as everyone else than I would bring my own special Wagyu porterhouses and have to crowd around the grill with everyone else, making sure their 'investment' is properly cooked. A BBQ is a communal event, godsakes!

Top 4 Wine-Tasting Gaffes

This isn't so much an etiquette suggestion, but it would be nice to engage boyfriend's family with conversation about the wine. Tell them up front that you don't know much about wine, and ask questions about their own perceptions - what does the wine taste or smell like to them? If they really like a wine, ask them what it is that they really like about it. Ask them to help you discern the taste of oak, etc. I find that half the fun of wine tastings is getting to use all kinds of under-used adjectives to try and describe the experience. And be as specific as you can! You'll quickly find that even descriptors like 'peppery, smokey and farmy' are not necessarily bad things when it comes to wine.

Mar 15, 2011
keslacye in Features

Ask RuBo: Are Celebrity Chef Restaurants Worth It?

IT seems like the person who wrote in wasn't so concern with seeing the celebrity chef, but was afraid that the food or experience wouldn't match the hype. Personally, I think the best thing to do is to research your options carefully, read reviews, read Chowhound, and I think you'll get a pretty good sense of what you're in for.

Feb 02, 2011
keslacye in Features

Hello, I'm Your Annoying Server

I have absolutely no problem with servers introducing themselves, checking back on the food, and drawing whatever they want on the check. I do find the crouching occasionally a little creepy, but whatever.

The strangest experience I've ever had with a server was, admittedly, in a crappy chain restaurant along the lines of "Flingesr." AS we were ordering, after each item was mentioned, our waitress would repeat it back enthusiastically as if she were not only approving of our choices, but actually cheering them on. I think there were claps involved. It went beyond 'enthusiasm' to solidly 'manic'.

Jan 25, 2011
keslacye in Features

Greedy Gobbler

When people want to take leftovers from me, I'm ecstatic - not only does it mean that they enjoyed the food (always a nice compliment), but it alleviates my guilt at having to throw it away a couple of days later. There's only so many turkey sandwiches and so much green bean casserole one can eat. I'm usually good for one or two more meals from the leftovers, and after that - I'm done with it. But I also feel terrible wasting food. So, it's win-win when people want to take some home!

Nov 23, 2010
keslacye in Features

Bad Breath Intervention

Bad breath, especially the metallic variety, can also be caused by certain medications. Usually it is a known side-effect, but as Helena mentioned it's difficult to assess one's own breath.

Dec 02, 2008
keslacye in Features

Best Butchers/Fish Mongers in SE Michigan

There's a stand-alone butcher in Warren on 12 Mile Road, just east of Ryan, called Steiners. I've bought some roasts from them, and it was very good. They're very accommodating if you're looking for a special cut, etc.

Nov 23, 2008
keslacye in Great Lakes

How to Talk Politics Over Dinner

I have a slightly different perspective on this...I am pretty liberal and my father is pretty conservative. When we get together we love to spar on the issues and it does get pretty heated. It might sound angry, but we're really just having fun. My husband and mother, on the other hand, are less interested in politics and much less interested in actually arguing about it. So, in our case, the discomfort comes less from the people engaged in the discussion and more from the people who have to witness it. For them, the tension that they used to feel has mellowed into boredom, but it's still rude and I do try to tone it down now.

Oct 29, 2008
keslacye in Features

Best Bread in Detroit Region

Two places I can think of - first, the bakery at Pape Joe's Gourmet Market turns out some tasty breads. I have only had them from the Birmingham location, but I'm sure it's good in Rochester too. Also, there is a baker who shows up at the Saturday Farmer's Market in Royal Oak who makes the MOST DELICIOUS multigrain bread. I don't know their name, but at least last summer they didn't have a storefront yet. They sell out of most everything by noon, but if you get there early everything can be had sliced or not.

Oct 12, 2008
keslacye in Great Lakes

Good Italian in Rochester or Auburn Hills MI?

My husband and I just went to Franco's last night and it was terrible! It recently got a good review from Mel Small in the Metrotimes, too. We had the roasted red pepper appetizer, the lobster bisque, dinner salad, and two entrees: Veal Siciliano and the fettucine alfredo with chicken and spinach. First, the roast peppers were not tasty, and the skins were left on. (I'm not sure if that's typical in Italian cooking, but my Jewish-Moroccan aunties would never dream of leaving a skin on a roasted pepper). The lobster bisque tasted of salt and corn starch, the dinner salads contained the funkiest-tasting cicis, the alfredo was cafeteria-grade at best, and the breading on the veal had the texture of sand. The ammoglio that came with the veal had little flavor as well. Plus, despite the relatively nice decor, the food came served on the typical cafeteria plates that are brown-flecked and have dark brown edging. There was truly nothing good about that meal.

In the metrotimes review, Small compared the food to typical italian chains and suggested that it was better to give the business to someone local. While I normally fully agree with this sentiment, I have to disagree that the quality of the food even approached what you would get at an italian chain. Even if the food was better quality, it would certainly taste better at a chain. I would go to Maggianos or Buca any day of the week over this place.

Kids Gone Wild

I dont know, Cheflambo, I think you could have done better to discuss the issue with your nephew and explain why snickering really isn't the appropriate response. I don't have children, so my understanding is second-hand, but if you nurse and baby won't accept a bottle, that pretty much means you're housebound for as long as you're nursing if you're not able to nurse outside of the home. Isn't it nicer to cut the new mom some slack rather than grumble about how your meal was disrupted?

Besides - a woman was feeding her child. (If I could italicize and bold that, I would!) What part of that scenario required comments and snickers from the peanut gallery?

Jul 07, 2008
keslacye in Features

Kids Gone Wild

I know this is getting a little off-topic here, but I am interested in this conversation about the etiquette of breastfeeding. Clearly over the past 50-60 years the pendulum has swung away and back again - breastfeeding has been proven to be the most ideal and inexpensive way to feed a child. There are probably a lot of American women who will breastfeed now, but who were themselves not breastfed. I am curious to know what rules our grandmothers or great-grandmothers followed when breastfeeding. I don't have children, but I probably will someday and I will breastfeed them. Of course, this is speculation, but I think that I wouldn't have a problem feeding them at the mall or at a casual resto. But I definitely would not feed them at my synnagogue's services nor would I do so at a really nice place. Did women of past generations feel that breastfeeding 'anytime, anyplace' was appropriate, or were there some rules about it? Should there be rules now? (not laws, but social norms)

Jul 01, 2008
keslacye in Features

Shhhh, She's Not Invited!

In an office of 60 people, you can't possibly be frirends with everyone. In a group that large, you are bound to have your friends, aquaintences, and those whose names you barely know. I think it's perfectly fine to invite just those people you have actual friendships with - those who you already socialize with outside of work. If you are trying to make friends, or trying to develop a more personal relationship with your boss, a party could be a nice way to achieve that. The people who I would be most worried about offending are those that are between friend and aquaintance. For those, I would err on the side of generosity and invite them. Chances are they won't come anyway.

Jun 18, 2008
keslacye in Features

Is Saving Tables Wrong?

Thanks to BobB for posting the link. People make lots of good arguments for and against marking tables and also cite regional differences. Hardly anyone mentioned what they would do (or have done) if they were in a situation where they had hot food and a limited amount of time to eat and there were no free tables, but some that were marked. Personally, if I were alone, I would ask another solo diner if I could join them. If there were no people I could easily join, or if I was with another person, I would just go ahead and sit down at a table, mark or no. In crowded places, people are used to sharing tables anyway. Probably by the time they came back, a new table would open or I would just apologize and blame the situation. I think you'd have to be really aggro for it to blow up into a confrontation. I think, as a person who marks a table, you do take the risk that someone will ignore your mark.

Jun 11, 2008
keslacye in Features

I'm Vegetarian but I Eat Bacon

There are definitely some religions/cultures that consider fish or seafood to be not quite in the same realm as meat. As someone pointed out, Catholics can eat fish during Lent. Jews consider fish to be parve, which means you can eat it with either a dairy or meat meal (which are never mixed). The literal translation of the French word for seafood is 'the fruits of the sea'.

On the other hand, when the Greek Orthodox fast before taking communion, they cannot eat meat, fish, any type of oil, or dairy - a more 'vegan' approach.

Apr 15, 2008
keslacye in Features

The Awkward Lip-Kiss Greeting

Oh, hell no!

Lip-kissing? Friends and casual aquaintences?

I reiterate, Oh, Hell to the No. Not by anyone but my Husband. Full stop.

Even if someone tried to do it to me, I would be going for the cheek and would maneuver out of the way at the last moment. Luckily, I don't know anyone who would even conceive of doing such a thing. Disgusting!

Mar 04, 2008
keslacye in Features

Joined at the Hip

I think the column was interesting, on the mark, and the above posters are spoil-sports. Every week, the same bunch of complainers. If you don't like the column, people, don't read it!

I, for one, have been on both ends of this situation, been accused of being too couple-y, and really disliked it when other couples refuse to be parted. As a recently married person, in a relationship for 3 years before getting married, I love the opportunity to talk with other people with my husband in my viewing orbit, but not close enough to hear that I might be talking about him. Even banal stories sound scandalous when you overhear them being told about yourself, so it's important that he scoots away sometimes. Plus I totally agree that seeing your SO across the room makes them a little new and special again. Definitely reignites the spark.

Feb 19, 2008
keslacye in Features

Your Dish Is Unwelcome Here

I like the clarity of those who are arguing that anything brought to a dinner party should be treated as a host gift - to be served at their discretion. However, I think reality is a bit more complicated. A bottle of wine won't go bad, and the guests won't miss it if they're served other wine. But if someone worked to prepare a casserole or other perishable dish, they are probably looking forward to tasting it. Ice cream seems somewhere in the the guests did say it was their 'favorite' which does indicate they wanted to eat it that night.

On the flip side, there are definitely some dinner parties to which I would bring wine I myself plan on drinking. These tend to be with people who don't care about wine and aren't so sensitive about etiquette so as to be offended if I do bring my own (to share, of course).

Jan 29, 2008
keslacye in Features

Need Help Asian food recs Detroit/AA

I live in Madison Heights, and would love some tips on what to order at the Vietnamese places. I stopped in one day and tried the pho, but it was very plain and didn't come with the condiments that I thought it would.

I am a HUGE fan of Edamame. They just opened a couple of months ago in a great little space in a stripmall of all places. The menu is Japanese and they also have some Phillipino dishes as well. The food is VERY well priced and decent quality. I've had americanized sushi rolls there and also the tempura udon, both of which are fantastic. A couple of guys next to me ordered some fantastic-looking jalapeno crispy squid. They also have more traditional stuff like bento boxes.

For Japanese, my husband and I both love Sushiko in West Bloomfield on 12 mile rd and Orchard Lake. Cherry Blossom in Novi is known to be the favority of the Japanese guys he does business with (little pricey). If you're looking for a ginger martini to go with your sushi, try Ronin in Royal Oak. It's a little pricey, but the fish is great quality and it's a great scene on the weekends.

Troy/Birmingham dining

I'm sorry, but Mon Jin Lau is not excellent. It is overpriced, has tiny portions, and is completely inauthentic. There are a bunch of chinese places in Troy with much better food and reasonable prices. Also, my husband experienced discrimination at Mon Jin Lau! He and a couple of his friends ended up at there after a long motorcycle ride. They walked in with their jackets and helmets, put their name on the list, and watched as group after group of people that came in AFTER them was seated. They kept being told that they were next. After an hour and a half of this, they left. And trust me, they're not hooligans, they were all engineers at Ford at the time.

creme brulee - how far in advance can i torch the top?

Trying it out in advance was a good idea. Unfortunately, all I had that is vaguely custard-like was some fat-free sugar-free chocolate pudding. It was kind of hard to distinguish the browned sugar from the brown pudding. But it didn't take that long.

So when you torch the sugar, does it actually take a bit to set into the crunchy end state? I think the pudding melted a little underneath, so I had to put it into the fridge for a couple of minute for the sugar to set.

Jan 20, 2008
keslacye in Home Cooking

creme brulee - how far in advance can i torch the top?

I am going to be making creme brulee for a little dinner party held at a friend's home. I've never actually made it before, and I'm afraid that it'll take too long to torch the tops of them with my little williams-sonoma-type torch and I'd really just like to bring them ready to eat. I want to enjoy the party, after all! How far in advance can I make the crackly top without them losing their snap? Every recipe I've seen says to do it right before serving...

Jan 20, 2008
keslacye in Home Cooking

Table Settings – Does this bug anyone else?

I thought this post was fascinating. It's interesting to learn about rituals (and their rules) which have fallen almost completely out of use. I'm curious to know more about the type of people who are able to keep such things alive. I have a hard enough time trying to get a timely RSVP out of most of my friends. All of this detail would be completely lost on them. To the OP, on what kinds of occasions do you set a table (and cook a meal!) this formally?

Jan 19, 2008
keslacye in Not About Food

Best Detroit area BBQ ribs?

I agree with most of the posters here - Slows is pretty good, but not great. I think you go there for the atmosphere more than anything else. Famous Dave's is disgusting, I would never go there again.

Honestly, the best and most consisently good ribs I've had in this area are at any one of the three J Alexander's. I know it's a chain, but I love their sauce, and the ribs always fall off the bone. Fantastic sides, too. The mac and cheese there IS amazing.

Jan 19, 2008
keslacye in Great Lakes

bloomfield hills or birmingham top dining?

I have to second Streetside - it's definitely cozy and the food is great. No reservatons, though, so if you arrive after 6pm, you'll be standing for an hour in a crowd around the bar.

Another nice place that recently opened is the Town Tavern in Royal Oak. It's a lot roomier than Streetside, and they also have fresh fish specials everyday as well as great comfort foods.

If you're looking for something quieter, you could try Fiddleheads, also in Royal Oak but not downtown. Space is nicely minimal, food is a bit cerebral. It's a nice experience.