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nrxchef's Profile

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Sigh................ Cooking Channel and Baron Ambrosia

I think of it more as narrative than shtick. Look, we can't have 24/7 programming of stand and dump cooking shows, and FN and CN know that. So... we've had cooking shows at Tonight Show (Emeril Lagasse), cooking shows as game shows (Chopped, etc), cooking shows as reality TV (Top Chef, et al). We've had travel shows (that Guy guy, Anthony Bourdain) and - with Alton Brown - just a bit of kitschy narrative. I think it's high time for a tongue in cheek, comedy show meant to appeal to the Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, Portlandia watching viewer. And the funny thing is that, unlike some Guy Fieri, Baron Ambrosia gleaned serious media cred in New York for slapping the jaded New York food media upside its collective head and saying: stop writing about every time David Chang clears his throat! New York has amazingly exotic food cultures in its outer boroughs. Aside from the narratine, BA's food journalism got him into the pages of Saveur, the New York Times, etc

Jun 10, 2012
nrxchef in Food Media & News

End Vowel Ommission in NJ Italian Restaurants

My understanding of this is that the mass migrations of Italians into this country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came mostly from the preindustrialized south -- places like Naples and Sicily. There is a pronounced regional accent in these areas -- just like there is in the American south -- and the immigrants just kept it up here. This accent is characterized by dropped final vowels (as in mootzarell' and brasciutt'), Gs replace Cs (so you get Sijill for Sicilian and gabbagole for coppacola), Bs replace Vs (so "va in c*lo" becomes "ba fung***"), and sometimes Bs replace P's --so you get "brazhoot" for prosciutto. Fs are sometimes replaced by Vs--so you get "jvoolyadell" for sfogliatelli, "pasta vazool" for pasta e fagioli and "gavone" for carfoni. I have been ernestly corrected by American speakers of this lingo when I've attemped to pronounce things in the standard Italian dialect--like prosciuttO. "Ha! You sound so American! It's "brazoot"!"
While I don't think regional accents are wrong, and people shouldn't be ashamed to speak this way, I also think it's bad to perpetuate what is basically non-standard language that'll get you laughed at in most of Italy. I also suspect that it's become exaggerated here as well. Oh--and it all over the Northeast, not just in poor, maligned Jersey.

Aug 10, 2007
nrxchef in Not About Food

Westchester Ice Cream Spots???

Longford's is a scam. They use a commercial base that includes carrageenan (seaweed thickener) and other additives. The base comes in half gallon containers that they pour into the machines. I like the Blue Pig in Croton for best American style ice cream, but the Paleria Fernandez is tops for bright flavors and exoticism.

Crudo in Westchester or Greenwich?

Do any local Italian places do Esca-style (esque?) crudo? That means Italian sushi, basically: raw fish or shellfish dressed very simply in top quality olive oil and salt. I can't think of one place in Westchester--how about Greenwich?

Frank Pepe's...Fairfield

People grumble that it's not like the original, but the pizzas ARE JUST like the original -- same coal oven, same ingredients, same crust, same pizzaioles. What's missing is the Wooster street vibe. The clientele are mostly families with kids, so that's kinda different--not a lot of people drinking pitchers of beer, etc. And the site is less than cute--it looks a bit like a converted tire-store or something. Bland, inoffensive, charmless. We're coming up from Westchester, though, so we love that the Fairfield branch is only a 40 minute ride and not a 60 minute ride, plus, there not a huge wait for tables. We've never encountered a wait, whereas you know the deal at the original--you're lucky if you only have to wait 1/2 hour outside in all weather. So we're thrilled with Pepe's Fairfield. Here's a link with menu:
http://www.pepespizzeria.com/

Worst restaurants in Westchester

We always write about our favorites on this board. How about our LEAST favorites? Overpriced, overhyped, ugly, bad food, surly service--get it all out, here and now.
I propose that priority should be given to ambitious places that don't deliver--not the humble, cheap places that don't aspire to much to begin with.

Best Traditional Diner in Westchester

I second the Star diner. They use real butter on the toast (unlike practically everywhere else) they cook the bacon to order, the home fries are yummy and not just starchy plate-filler. PLUS, it's house in a genuine 1930s streamlined, bullet-shaped lunch counter. i love the Star.

Brunch in Westchester?

Equus at the Castle in Tarrytown and L'Escale in Greenwich are fairly elegant and the food is great. Then there's always Crabtree's Kittle House--where the ambiance is less formal, but the food and wine are still top-notch. Menus are up on their website for a closer look. BlueHill Stone Barns does lunch/brunch and is the perfect special event space, PLUS they even offer a dividable private room if you have a ton (12-20) of guests. They're all going to cost you, but Equus (being in a converted mansion) is really special feeling, as is Blue Hill Stone Barns.

Red Velvet Cake at Westchester Restaurants?

I know there are a couple of Westchester bakeries serving red velevet cake, but are there any restaurants serving it for dessert?

Excellent Fried Chicken in Westchester?

There's a lot of token fried chicken around. You know--we've got a Southern menu, gotta have it, even though it's not that great. Are there any restaurants doing GREAT fried chicken? I'm thinking iron-skillet cooked, maybe buttermilk soaked--none of this dredge it and drop it in the Frialator stuff.

Sushi Nanase White Plains

Thanks, marge--I'm saving my pennies as we speak. I love the idea of home-brewed soy sauce--commercial brands are so overpowering on delicate fish. I tend to skip it altogether.

Marcel attacked with bottle in Las Vegas

Scary. It was on the Bravo video clip of Sam and Chef Collichio--apparently 2 female fans attacked Marcel "Mr. Whippy-Head" in a lobby in Las Vegas. He needed stitches on his face. Horrifying. Whatever impolitic things he does or says, he doesn't deserve to be attacked!

Jan 26, 2007
nrxchef in Food Media & News

Moving to Pelham - delivery, take out - where do you go?

Try Red Lotus thai--they deliver to New Rochelle, Pelham and Larchmont and their menu is online at www.redlotusthairestaurant.com

Truffle oil

I use 2 different brands--very good truffle oil for special dishes and Trader Joe's White Truffle for everyday dishes. My every day use is primarily in a simple bruschetta: toast a few slices of Italian pane di casa (round, boule-shaped bread). While the bread is still really hot, scrape with half a cut garlic clove--2 or 3 passes is enough. The irregular bread surface will act as a grater, and the redidual heat in the bread will cook the garlic and prevent that raw garlic acridity. Shave some pecorino romano or parmgiano reggiano over toasts with a veg peeler, drizzle generously with truffle oill and finish with a few grates of the peppermill. Delicious! And very easy.

Jan 22, 2007
nrxchef in Home Cooking

In search of a BAKED Strawberry pie Recipe...

Here's my recipe, but WAIT until strawberry season! The strawberries really need flavor to carry the whole pie, amd mid-winter berries taste more like straw than berries.

One 9” Double-Crust Pie
FOR THE PIE CRUST:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 ounces of cold, unsalted, high butterfat butter (such as Plugras), cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice water

1. Put flour, salt and sugar in bowl of a food processor and process briefly, 3 or 4 seconds, just to combine. Add butter chunks and pulse processor just until mixture resembles cornmeal. Do not over process.
2. Turn the mixture into bowl and sprinkle it with 4 tablespoons of ice water. Lightly fork the water through the mixture (a 2 pronged meat fork works well for this), until the water is evenly distributed. Test the dough by forming a ball of it in your fist: if it doesn’t form a ball, add the last tablespoon of water.
3. Gather the dough into 2 slightly uneven balls and flatten them into roughly 4” disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour.

FOR THE PIE:
8 cups fresh, seasonal strawberries, washed, quickly dried and then hulled. (To dry the strawberries, line a roasting pan with 2 layers of kitchen towels, carefully turn the wet berries into the pan and gently rock the pan back and forth.)
3 1⁄2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1 to 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 egg (for egg wash)

1. Preheat oven to 450°
2. While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Turn the berries into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix about a cup of the sugar with the tapioca, and sprinkle this mixture over the strawberries. Add the lemon juice and toss this mixture through the berries until it’s well distributed.
3. Taste the filling for sweetness (the tapioca will be crunchy). Add additional sugar only as needed, as too much sugar will overwhelm the flavor of the berries. Allow the mixture to macerate while you finish chilling and rolling out the pie crust.
4. Roll out the pie dough to fit your pan, using the slightly larger disk for the top crust. Pour the macerated berries and juice into the bottom crust, and dot them with the butter pieces. Seal the pie with the top crust. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and brush the top of the pie with the egg. Cut 4 or 5 vents in the top crust.
5. Place the pie in the oven on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake for another 35-45 minutes. Serve the pie slightly warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream.

Jan 22, 2007
nrxchef in Home Cooking

Is it better to freeze the cookies or the dough?

My feeling is to freeze the dough, because as good as the cookies are cool, they're even better warm. Avoid the freezer flavor problem by spooning the dough onto one end of a parchment sheet. Fold the sheet over the dough, and using a ruler to keep the edge straight, tighten and press into a 1-inch roll. Wrap ends tightly (taping is good too)and freeze. No need to defrost--just cut 1-inch sections of your frozen roll and place on pan. Bake as directed.

Jan 22, 2007
nrxchef in Home Cooking

Unfortunate foreign food names or brands

Heinz makes Spotted Dick in a can. Yum.

Jan 08, 2007
nrxchef in Not About Food

Unfortunate foreign food names or brands

I've often noticed that Gatorade tastes like sweat. Maybe pocari is a persons who prodces the drink?

Jan 08, 2007
nrxchef in Not About Food

Unfortunate foreign food names or brands

Jussipussi!!!! Oh My God!!!!

Jan 08, 2007
nrxchef in Not About Food

All u can eat sushi Long Island

I personally think you're insane to consume all you can eat sushi! Are You NUTS! How do you think they cut costs and provide raw fish at that price point--maybe the fish isn't sushi grade, maybe it's not-so-fresh, maybe it's been doctored with wasabi, etc., so you can't tell that it's old. Do your colon a favor and don't buy discount sushi--it's suicide. Also, any food that advertized by quantity over quality is doomed.

Dirty looks while eating out with kids...

I absolutely agree--it's torture to expect the average small child to sit through a two hour dinner, with napkin on lap, and no noise or movement. That's why they really shouldn't be brought. Unless, of course, this particular child loves the experience--but that would have to be a kid in a million.
The problem is that all parents fully believe that their kid is that kid in a million. Parents (rightfully) love their children to pieces and are blinded , to a certain extent, to their faults. They tend to empathise rather than criticise--and so they should. But I've seen parents of a shrieking kid look around at their dining neighbors with an apologetic grimace and explain, "Sorry--he's teething." Actually--teething or not -- you need to hustle the kid out of the restaurant, pronto.

Jan 03, 2007
nrxchef in Not About Food

Dirty looks while eating out with kids...

I agree with the other posters that the dirty looks might be a sign that "a little loud" for the parent (who loves the little tykes) might be beyond the pale for other diners. Personally, I object to loud or whiny diners of any age, because that can be disruptive to my experience. (And I don't think you can put a price on disruptive--just because it's a cheaper chain doesn't mean that it's okay for kids to be disruptive. Bad behavior is just wrong--even at McDonalds.)
Personally, I don't like seeing kids play with their food in my sightlines. It can be like a car accident--disgusting, but you can't look away. I've seen kids joyfully poke and fling food with rubberband-rigged chopsticks, blow eruptions through straws and methodically spread food from tabletop, to banquette to floor, while the overwhelmed parent just tunes it all out. I've also heard whimpering, whiny kids refuse to eat, argue vociferously and have tantrums. I've also seen kids, bored with the table having eaten in 3 1/2 minutes, released and roaming the restaurant--underfoot, in danger and disruptive to other diners.
I think one has to look at one's kids and ask--is what we do at home okay to do in public? You can't ask kids to code-switch instinctively. If the kids are used to eating with their hands, blowing milk bubbles, yelling, whining and squirming at home, that's exactly what they'll do out of the house.

Jan 03, 2007
nrxchef in Not About Food

Is it legal to carry lardo into the U.S.?

I brought a package of lardo into the U.S. and I'm not sure whether I've broken Agricultural Dept. importation rules. The lardo is dated and stamped with a lot number, from Da Amerigo in Sevigno (Emilia Romagna). I'm curious about this product--is it merely cured like prosciutto? Is it pasteurized and/or cooked in some way? It's cryovac'ed, and still attached to skin with bristles--yet it's pure white with no visible veins/tissues/nerves. I was told that two related products are made from the pig's fat back--the semi-solid, fibrous part is made into cicioli (which is sometimes fried and sold as a snack, sometimes just sliced v. thin), the rendered creamy white stuff into lardo. So the lardo is cooked, not cured, and therefore legal. Any thoughts?

Dec 21, 2006
nrxchef in Not About Food

Store-bought hummus

Whoops--in my sarcastic fit, I forgot the tahini. Karma! That's my punishment for being snotty. (I also forgot to mention to rinse off thise beans)
I know many people who prefer to soak dried beans rather than using the canned variety--the flavor is supposed to be better, plus they're much cheaper (if more of a pain). But...you can whip up hummus bi tahini with canned garbanzos in about 30 seconds, or a shorter time that it takes to heat up your pitas.

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

It seems to me that the rub is whether the fat was pasteurized or not, no? It might not be a "cured" (that is, uncooked) meat. It's so purely white and unstreaky that I wonder if it can be uncooked--it looks refined. Even prosciutto--which is cured, not cooked--has streaks of meat, etc. It is concievable that lardo is the pure all-fat fat-back of the pig, simply cured as prosciutto. But it seems strange--there are no veins or other tissues in it--it looks like rendered lard, pressed onto pigskin. The cryovac'ed package is actually stamped and dated, with a lot number and some sort of Emilia Romana production code.
Admittedly, it was disingenuous of me to "forget" to mention the lardo, but if I'm not sure whether the mode of production for this arcane foodstuff passes regs (and I'm fairly knowlegable about food), then I'm sure the Ag. worker might not know it either. Ive tried to look it up, but no luck. It's not actually a cured ham and it's not a salami--and for all I know, it's pasteurized. My fear is that the Ag. Dept. would just chuck it on suspicion.
BTW Absinthe is illegal to import for personal consumption? I brought some in from England, made somewhere in Eastern Europe. I thought it was just illegal to import or make with the intention of selling it in the U.S. (unless it's fake and not made with wormwood)?

Dec 21, 2006
nrxchef in Not About Food

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

I checked yes on the form, as I was bringing in wine, aceto balsamico, truffles, truffles in oil, tea, chocolate, pecorino and parmigiano reggiano. I always check Yes, and then I'm asked what I'm bringing. The lardo kind of intentionally slipped my mind in all the kerfuffle--there was a big commotion of shuffling bags and describing the huge amount of foodstuffs. I checked Yes and was compliant and polite, they waived me through. That has always been our experience, and we usually brink home edible souvenirs.

Dec 21, 2006
nrxchef in Not About Food

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

I have a question. Is lardo (the Italian seasoned pork fat) okay to bring in? I haven't really been able to ascertain whether it's legal or not--that is, whether it's merely cured or actually cooked. It's so pure and white that I'm wondering if it is in fact uncooked and unrefined--but the specimen that found its way home with me is attached to skin that actually has some bristle on it. It was vacuum packed by the producer--da amerigo in sevigno--but the dog never found me out. I flew into JFK and always get hassled by the Agriculture Dept. Have I smuggled?

Dec 21, 2006
nrxchef in Not About Food

Store-bought hummus

Here's a thought: buy some cans of chick peas, drain them and chuck them in a Cuisinart with water, fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic, salt and (if you want) harissa. Then push the button. By the time your hand would've touched your car's door handle, you'll be sitting down to lovely spicy hummus. You can also add cumin and/or coriander.

Wusthof Sale is Now ! (and this means you, adamclyde)

Those shears might not cut through the center of a thighbone, but they'll definitely cut the ribs alongside the backbone and through the cartilaginous joints, which is where you usually cut a chicken anyway. Also--I think $30 for a top-of-the-line Wusthof "Classic" chef's knife is a real bargain!
I'm partial to Wustof, though--you sound like a Henkel person. I feel that Henkel seriously de-valued their brand with those cheapo sets at Costco. They have a lot of not-top-quality lines (as does Wustof, to be honest) but I think that the cheaper Wustof knives are better than the cheapest Henkel knives.

Wusthof Sale is Now ! (and this means you, adamclyde)

Sadly, the stock is slightly reduced as far as I can tell. (And yes, I went again this time and no, it wasn't to buy gifts for others.) I came away with a great white handled "Classic" knife for $30 (black is $45 at the sale). Great buys on excellent poultry shears (the kind that come apart to wash), $9, all sorts of lower priced knives. Seems to be a few quality grades--make sure you get the through tang, steel bolster knives or ask the staff for advice. PLUS--do not forget to bring in your knives to be sharpened. They do a great job--and I'm a little fetishy about my knives--at only $1 per.
I love Corona's Luncheonette in Sleepy Hollow for Cubanos--$4 for a real deal, gooey, salty, earthy Cubano.