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Cakes for Occasions, Danvers

They are worth the trip. My friends and I get the opera cake for every birthday. It's silly good. They are quite talented at that shop.

Oct 02, 2008
garcon in Greater Boston Area

Salem for Halloween

I live in Salem and the best place to eat (in my opion) is Bella Verona. Consistent, good service, delicious, and cheap.
http://www.bellaverona.com/

That said, the city is mobbed, especially on Halloween itself and weekends. Absolutely make a reservation for dinner and plan your lunch ahead of time. Be prepared to wait for food and bars, as most will have lines on Halloween night, particulalry downtown. Take the train into Salem if you can. Driving isn't worth it. They close down several roads and the traffic is insane. Not that there will be anywhere to put your car if you do get in. Don't worry about the train leaving before last call, the Boston horse police and about 10 other towns sweep the streets at 11:00, so plenty of time to get to the station. You may also be able to take the Salem Ferry, if it's still running
http://www.salemferry.com/

Have a good time, bring a camera with fresh batteries. If the lines are too long, this year they have plenty of street vendors for fried dough, sausages, fries, etc.
Here is the Haunted happenings website. Some, about a third, of the places to eat are down the bottom.
http://www.hauntedhappenings.org/dini...

Have fun

Oct 23, 2007
garcon in Greater Boston Area

Just Bought A Bottle Of Cachaca

Hello Dave. This is Snowy is dead from egullet.
I'm just north of Boston, in Salem. My comparison to agricole is based on only having had 51 cachaca and one single ti punch Mr. Hamilton bought me at flatiron. The aloe vera type flavor I found similar, but, then again, the ti punch was a potent drink. I'd love to try a better cachaca if I can find one.

Jan 07, 2007
garcon in Spirits

Infused Bourbon

I do a pound of dried bing cherries in three bottles of knob creek. Sit for two weeks and strain well. Gives an awful lot of flavor, sweetness, and body to the bourbon. The key to infusing anything is alchohol. The higher the proof, the better the flavor extraction. Don't be afraid to let it sit for quite a while in a cool dark place. Also, when done infusing, make sure to remove all biologial matter from the booze and refrigerate. I usually use a pasta strainer, then a chinois, then cheesecloth. Have fun.

Dec 28, 2006
garcon in Spirits

Just Bought A Bottle Of Cachaca

The brazilian boys at work tell me that calinas is the best cachaca availiable here that they've seen. I don't know how it compares to 51, but they won't touch 51. They also tell me that they cut up about half a pineapple and dump it into a jar filled with cachaca for about a day and drink that. The language barrier prevented me from finding out if there was ice, shaking, etc. Sounds good though.

Cachaca reminds me of real rhum agricole, which you can't really get outside of NY. The Ti Punch, to be precise.

Dec 28, 2006
garcon in Spirits

Violet Liqueur

The jupiter cocktail is not very easy to master, kind of like a pegu club or aviation. Just never seems to come out quite right. Oxo makes very handy mini measuring cups. I have several at the bar.

Dec 28, 2006
garcon in Spirits

Which orange bitters best in a martini?

Fee brothers is more readily availiable and is quite passable. For a martini, however, I would definitely use Regan's. Much more pleasing flavor, in my opion. If you are in New York you can but them at Pegu Club and, I think, Flatiron. Othewise buffalotrace.com has them. The shipping is horribly expensive from what I remember.

There are more and more coming out all the time, so hopefully avaliability will increase.

Dec 11, 2006
garcon in Spirits

Violet Liqueur

Parfait Amour is availiable in the States from the Bordeaux producer Marie Brizzrad. About $20 for 750 ml. For more information do a search on this board for parfait amour.

The monin stuff is way to sweet. Parfait is not a true creme de violette as the main flavor is orange. It is also very sweet. It is no longer made domestically and it can be very hard to find, even in France. My sense is that it is much easier to find in southern france. Some stores in London carry it, but even they have a hard time keeping it in stock. There is a brand that will ship? or is availiable in the US, Benoit Serres liqueur de violette. From what I understand it is the closest we can get. Not many people really know what it taste like, being defunct in the US since the 60's. Apparently the company that made it is still around, so perhaps with a few million emails they'll restart production.

Dec 11, 2006
garcon in Spirits

good recipes with pimms?

My preferred version is ginger ale, pimms, and lemon. Taste like iced tea. Much more botanical with the tradional cuke. I've seen pimms fruit cups at a bar in New York, Employees only, I think. They added lemons, orage, lime, cuke and others to pimms no.1.

I believe the other pimms are all defunct except for no. 3. I believe there were 6 of them, the main difference being the base spirit. No. 1 is gin, there were rum, whiskey, scotch, vodka, etc.

Dec 11, 2006
garcon in Spirits

What would the premium brand for Creme de Cassis be?

Domaine Santhenay (sp?) from Gevry-Chambertain in France goes for about 15 for a 750ml bottle. It is also availiable in 375s. I find it quite good for cocktails.

Dec 11, 2006
garcon in Spirits

Parfait Amour and Creme de Yvette - what do they taste like and where can I find them (in SF)?

You can also try Benoit serres Creme de Violette. I understand this is availiable in the states in some places. I've never seen it, but I hear it has less of the "toothachingly sweet" flavor that parfait d'amour has. It also lacks the orange component and has much more of a floral taste. Again, this is all heresay, but it comes from the highly informative egullet peeps in NY.

Nov 30, 2006
garcon in San Francisco Bay Area

Wild Horse Cafe in Beverly?

Try Duckworth's Bistrot in Gloucester if you feel like a drive or the Grapevine and Bella Verona in Salem. All three are open on Sundays, but it's worth calling before you show up. Sunday is a rough place for dining past 8 O'clock on the North Shore. Not sure what time the matinee is though.

Nov 30, 2006
garcon in Greater Boston Area

How much more do you tip if you're a regular?

I second the idea that tipping a bit more as a regular is an investment. Creates a good relationship between the server and patron, especially when comps are involved. One hand washes the other, so to speak. Frequenting a place and always leaving a bad tip or never improving on a normal tip when granted special treatment for being a regular might, to some, appear ungrateful.

Oct 15, 2006
garcon in Not About Food

As Requested....From a Waiter's Perspective...

Very good thread. I, too, am amazed that is has been so civil for so long. No help from me, of course, but that is what happens when you post right after work. I will try and refrain from that in the future.

As far as the "I'll be back with your change" bit, phrasing is one thing, intention is another. A grammatical slip/mistake/misintrepretation/whatever is not really a valid reasib for reducing a tip. Do I charge the cutomer more when they tell me something was UNedible? Or that the glass of wine they don't like is CLEARLY a week old when I just opened the bottle? Or if they call me John all night when I said my name is Sean? No, it's just people being people. So I don't expect to be docked if my phrasing doesn't meet a standard that I don't know exists. I can't tell you how many times I say "I'll be right back with that" and they say "yes", and when I bring back the change they say, "no, that's all set." The point? Half the time they aren't really listening to you, so you do/say what you need to. Maybe they hear/understand you, maybe they don't. Can't tell. Should we lose income over a perceived slight/mistake if people don't always listen? It is the same as the "may I get you a dink" question. Some people answer the question, others don't.

Oct 10, 2006
garcon in Not About Food

Romantic CHAMPAGNE BARS? How about FLUTE?

I went to the flute next to Gamercy in June. Very cool music, fairly good separation of guest, and comfy seats. As an added bonus, there is very little to find fault with having good bubbly in a nice room with good music and a very beautiful French girl bringing you more bubbly...

Oct 07, 2006
garcon in Manhattan

Parfait Amour and Creme de Yvette - what do they taste like and where can I find them (in SF)?

Creme Yvette is a now mostly defunct violette liqeuer from france. Supposedly you may still find a bottle or two of recent production in small towns here and there in France, but it is no longer imported to the United States. The last I heard, most French stores cannot get it. Flavor profile is unclear, as most have never tried it. It is sometimes assumed that the cocktail the Aviation once had a measure of Creme Yvette, which would have given it an acutal blue color, making a tad more sense.

Parfait Amour is widely availiable in the States. Flavor is that of violettes and orange. Like a flowery, sweeter cointreau. The color is violette, but it has an unpleasant tendency to turn most drinks it is added to a dish water grey. The flavor is quite strong, and I personally find it quite hard to mix with. Too much and that is all you taste, too little and you wind up with dirty bath water. Works well with margaritas and citrus/lemon, in my limited experience. About $20 U.S.

As far as comparisons with chambord and grand marnier, there isn't really one. Chambord is more blackberry, currant, and cassis. Grand marnier is an oragne curacao with cognac. Parfait amour is about as sweet as chambord but less berry. Grand marnier has a bite to it due to the congnac. I would say cointreau is a closer match than grand ma.

Oct 07, 2006
garcon in San Francisco Bay Area

As Requested....From a Waiter's Perspective...

Very good post.

I have to say that substitutions can be a problem, but only sometimes. Where I work, the chef will always say yes to a menu change, unless there is a limited amount of something that cannot be replaced. For example, NY strip special with baked potato. If there are 10 steaks and 10 spuds, then you probably won't get with your chicken. The problem with special orders arises when entire parties or several tables all change something about their dinners. Now, as I said, the chef will always say yes, but now you are creating your own menu. The line is set up to prepare and serve the food the way it is listed on the menu. When several special orders are on the line, it slows everything down. EVERYONE in the room waits for their food while the special orders are addressed, because we are not set up to do it. I've heard the "how hard is it to scoop A instead of B" argument, but you have to multiply that by 30 or 40 different dishes at a time. The chef does not cook one dish at a time, and careful timing and planning is involved to feed everyone the right food in a timely fashion.

I didn't see anything about reservations up there (I might have missed it) but these can be a big problem.
1. If you make a reservation, please show up. If you can't show up call. Not 5 minutes before you are supposed to be there, but as soon as you know. I know life gets in the way, and stuff happens, but nothing is more infuriating when we call to see what's going on with the reservation that is 20 minutes late, and the baby sitter says they left for dinner 2 hours ago someplace else.
2. Do not play "reservation roulette." Making several reservation across town and then deciding where to go while you're out is crap. It is incredibly rude. This hurts the restaurants and most likely your chances of getting another reservation there in the future.
3. If you are late, please call. As mentioned, things happen, but let us know. If you are 30 minutes late and didn't call, you don't have a reservation anymore, and we will probably give the table to a walk-in if we can. After 15 or 20 minutes, you are probably going to be considered a no-show. As mentioned in a previous post, courtesy goes both ways. Another downside of being late is that your dining time is cut short. There are probably tables coming in after you who have also mader reservations. The clock does not start when you show up, it starts at the time when you made your reservation. Almost every time I have to apologize for seating a reservation late, it is because the table was late before them.

A few more observations. I had a table complain this weekend that they waited almost 45 minutes for their table. Sounds reasonably, except they showed up and hour early and wanted to be seated. You haven't waited at all until the time actually arrives. Delays over that absolutely should be addressed, but that isn't being "made to wait."

I read the post above regarding switching tables. When possible, it shouldn't be a problem. But sometimes the floor is arranged in a way to fit certain people. Maybe there is a large party that only fits at a certain table. Maybe there is an anniversary who requested this or that table. Or just maybe there are enough seats for the people on the books as it is arranged taking into consideration all the reservations that are booked. Redistributing the work load isn't the guests problem. But it isn't always possible to do either. Just because it might look to a guest like there is room, doesn't mean there will be in 30 minutes.

This probably sounds like a rant, but there is a lot that goes into making a night work. When 100 people show up to dinner, there needs to be the mechanisms to provide food, beverages, service, and the ability to take care of ALL the patrons. It's more like a ballet or a symphonoy, with lots of moving parts, and less like a assembly line.

Ok, last comment. I hear this one alot. A friend of mine just tried a new place. I asked him how the service was. He said, "well, ok. Not too good." I asked him what went wrong. He said "the food took a while."
Service is what the server does. The kitchen cooks. The correct answer would have been "the food took a while, but the service was good/bad." Losing a tip for bad service is fine. Losing a tip when the service was good but the kitchen sucked, and is punishing the messenger. Talk to management or the server if the food is slow, but don't tell people the service was bad if it wasn't the waiters fault or even his job.

Oct 01, 2006
garcon in Not About Food

Poteen

I just brought some back form Ireland in July. Didn't find the taste unpleasant, but wouldn't go rushing back for more. Vaguely sweet and slightly viscous texture.

Sep 28, 2006
garcon in Spirits

Bella Verona -- Salem

I probably eat at Bella Verona once a month for the last five or six years. Always consistent and always good. We're not talking mind blowingly good, but I always leave happy, full, and don't feel like I wasted a dime. Where else can you go on the north shore and get apps, entrees, dessert, and a decent bottle of wine for $100 for two people that has any kind of intimacy or atmosphere? They do close up a little early sometimes, but I think they get alot of tourists from the hotel. Service has always been good and the staff is friendly.

Sep 28, 2006
garcon in Greater Boston Area