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lergnom's Profile

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Best Transparent Restaurants in Boston?

Not in Boston, but a favorite restaurant is Five Fifty-Five in Portland. The food is terrific and the space has an old balcony that rings the room. You can sit above the kitchen and watch them work together, their perfectionism, etc.

Dec 18, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

ISO Tortellini to Cook at Home

If you're ever in Providence, go to Venda Ravioli on Atwells. Great filled and unfilled pasta. And for less than in Boston.

Dec 15, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area
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What are your stovetop oatmeal tricks?

I'm weird because I like oatmeal as a lunch or dinner, not for breakfast. I make steel cut (usually some Irish brand) and add roasted cauliflower and spices like coriander and cumin (which bring out the best in each other). And some hot pepper or hot oil. Maybe this is because I'm not a big dairy fan; I have to take pills.

I find rolled oats and quick cook oats bland and mushy. Make them every once in a while and beat in an egg or two so the whole mess becomes fluffy. Seasoning this properly makes a ton of difference.

Dec 11, 2014
lergnom in Home Cooking

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

Single problem I had was Adam used a quick technique and yet I didn't see him test it during prep. If he did and served the shrimp that way on purpose, it was one kind of mistake. If he didn't, that was another. It felt weird to me because he only needed to heat some oil to test and get opinions.

Dec 11, 2014
lergnom in Food Media & News

Is it just me, or is this really utterly ridiculous?

It wasn't even $4. After the first emails, they said we'll credit you the $3 and he kept raising the stakes over $1. There aren't polite words to describe the guy.

And as a business negotiator, I've seen scorched-earth tactics but this isn't that: it's a personality disorder gone wild.

Dec 10, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area
1

Help me find the world's best cheddar cheese spread!

I grew up eating Win Schuler's Bar-Scheez, which is their cheddar spread. Still sold online. Schuler's is a 100+ year old restaurant in Marshall, MI and made its reputation on this simple bar snack and it became a huge stopover for people driving to and from Chicago and Detroit.

Dec 06, 2014
lergnom in Cheese

Any new places for a casual dinner near 495 in the Acton/Maynard area?

I wholeheartedly recommend Rail Trail Flatbread Company in downtown Hudson. They think out their food. Not ethnic, but creative pizza and sandwiches.

Dec 06, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

West on Centre, a warning

This is why I don't generalize from an experience: there's not much consistency in restaurants around here, from shift to shift, night to night. This is my biggest beef with Boston restaurants generally, not enough pressure to perform at the same level each night.

Dec 06, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

7 layer cake and rainbow cookies

It's a hike but Widoff's in Worcester makes 7 layer cake.

Dec 06, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Liquor store with a good (great) bourbon selection

New Hampshire state liquor store. I recently bought a wonderful bourbon there - Jefferson's, which is delicious - and they had a reasonably large assortment. Considering they often have sales, it's worth a visit. (BTW, I'm speaking of the one on 95 just over the border from MA.)

Dec 05, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Which foods do you wish were more popular?

Tendon. I can't even get people to try it from my Pho and I have to eat my tendon with chili sauce by myself. It's the best.

Hand pulled noodles. Once you eat them, you want to eat them all the time.

Really good bagels. More of a dream these days than a possibility. The kind with the hard skin and soft inside.

Nov 21, 2014
lergnom in General Topics

Anyone want to buy a restaurant?

That building is commercial condos so it makes sense the one for sale would be Yasu.

Nov 10, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

what to do with russet potatoes

I bake a bunch and then use a few for hash. I also like to chop one up - like in my vitamix because it's fast and cleans easily - and cook, sometimes in hot oil (maybe with some chili oil) and then scarf down.

Nov 09, 2014
lergnom in Home Cooking

First trip to Wegmans: What should I get? [moved from Boston board]

They sell these small dried sausages made for them in Rochester. 4 varieties but they often run out. I like the smoked and the Hungarian pipettes. Delicious.

They have some amazing Wegmans brand cheese which they cave age themselves. Often on sale.

I have always liked their pretzel rolls.

They sell my favorite jarred pickles - Bubbies - for less than Whole Foods.

Nov 06, 2014
lergnom in Chains

Bonapita

I stop in to buy the pitas, which are simply delicious when fresh. I usually eat one while I'm walking. 5 for $4, I think.

Nov 04, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Wegmans - man, that is one big a** sandwich

When I would pick up a sandwich at a Wegmans in Rochester, NY, I'd weigh it in the produce section. I got a fair amount stuff on it. Never weighed less than 3 pounds. I felt like a total pig.

Nov 03, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #3 - 10/29/14 (spoilers)

FYI, if you want to step on the field, go into the Red Sox dugout, walk around the warning track (but generally not on the grass), just take a tour. You can't set up a table next to the wall but you can touch it (and I think they let you look inside on regular tours).

Oct 31, 2014
lergnom in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #3 - 10/29/14 (spoilers)

They did a Bears game in which they were supposed to do uplifted tailgate food. The loser did a sort of fine dining thing that sucked. That was the year Stephanie won (duh).

Oct 31, 2014
lergnom in Food Media & News

Wegmans Burlington... any reports?

Yep. My wife was looking for something relatively obscure at the Chestnut Hill wine store and the guy searched and searched in books and online until he found a source for her. No prompting, did it while she kept shopping, explained why it was difficult to find, why their suppliers didn't have it, etc.

Oct 31, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Wegmans Burlington... any reports?

I'd say it's better than nearly all the pizzerias around.

As to the specifics, I live very close to Otto - both of them - and like the ambience but find the pizza a little lifeless with a tendency toward under seasoning. I really like Max & Leo but it's a somewhere between a hassle location and a super hassle location.

Oct 31, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Wegmans Burlington... any reports?

Of their prepared foods, the chicken really stands out along with the pizza. The chicken is about as good as we make it at home but without the risk that the bird will be tasteless (which seems to happen more often these days). I like the lemon or herb ones. (BTW, for comparison, much better than Costco but not as big if you're into quantity over quality.) The pizza is almost my favorite for pizza in the Brookline/Newton area (which is not a hotbed for great pizza). And you can put together a genuinely large large for like $14 of mixed slices.

My wife loves the cheese bread. They make fairly good breads in general, including a pretty good soft marble rye. The pretzel rolls are solid. Their sushi/sashimi is a step up from other markets and I'd say it's better than most sushi restaurants, especially for freshness.

Oct 30, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Info on Market Basket new locations?

We mapped the location of every supermarket in the region. It's interesting how the definition of a "location" has changed. It used to be you looked for holes in coverage, at the age of competitors' stores (because you come in new and they're tired), at access drive times, trade area income levels, etc., but chains like MB and Wegmans are defining location differently; they see their market niches and believe they can prosper where a regular chain sees too much competition or too much cost to build.

As a note, they also likely define trade areas differently. I don't know but when a standard 3 mile or 5 mile radius for a local supermarket becomes 10 or 20, the mindset about locations is vastly different.

There's a lot of focus on the MB acquisition debt but I don't think any of us know what pre-existing debt levels were and thus whether this is a big load at all. If there was not much debt, this debt load isn't bad, given what little we do know about MB's profitability. I'm speaking about the long battles over how much profit would be distributed versus re-invested, banked, etc. In other words, they were spinning cash before but we don't know how much and may have had low debt.

I'd say the top priority was to get the new stores open because the incremental revenue/profit is hugely important; big loans can be set at revenue/income levels and ratios to debt service so turning that dead money sitting in a hole or partly finished building lifts your ratio and gives you breathing room. Stores in planning may have to wait but we have no idea what their plans are anyway.

Wegmans Burlington... any reports?

One nice touch is Wegmans brings employees in from Rochester, Buffalo, etc. to help the store get started and to transmit the service culture.

Oct 27, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

What is a traditionally odd, spicy and delicious thing to order at a Sichuan restaurant?

I was very disappointed when they closed. It's matchsticks of potato that, I believe, is just soaked and dried to remove starch and then stir fried until soft but not colored. I've mostly had it as is, with some garlic and hot sauce, but it's also made with meat cooked first with the potato added. I've been told it was one of Mao's favorites along with red cooked pork.

Oct 26, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

A Big Meh for Chef Chow's House, Brookline

I've had such mixed food at this Sichuan Gourmet, from beautiful to stuff that looked right but was stripped of any actual taste of the original dish. It has made me very leery of eating there.

I no longer trust any of the Brookline Chinese places to serve really good food. That's affected our eating habits; we've switched to other cuisines because a simple Thai place like MJ Ready - whatever that name is supposed to convey - is reliable in quality.

Oct 26, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Eating at an empty restaurant?

Depends. I've eaten in an empty restaurant and had the owner come out and sit with me. One time, at lunch, the owner came out, took our toddler and played with her so we could eat uninterrupted. Another time, the owner talked about his business being bad, so we suggested some changes and he actually took some and unlike Seinfeld they worked.

Sad thing is when I'm alone and the food is really good but it's the wrong location. I used to eat at a Chinese place run by a true master but people wanted beef & broccoli, not what he wanted to make and it wasn't the right space.

One time, we ate in a place by ourselves - Greek place in Ann Arbor, years ago - and the waitress and owner were having a huge fight. She would bring over drinks, random food and try to enlist us on her side of the fight. I think they must have been relatives.

Not exactly an empty restaurant, but when we were kids, we were eating in an old Chinese place in downtown with maybe 1 other table full and a cook came running out of the kitchen followed by another cook holding a cleaver. They disappeared. So did we.

Oct 22, 2014
lergnom in Not About Food

Dinner near Faneuil Hall

I understand that point but Boston is small and the only time I can imagine being restricted to such a tiny radius is if my mother was there, because she can't walk, and even then I'd plan ahead or manage to wheel her around.

Oct 22, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Spelling errors on menus and websites

Sign that lasted for years in market window near me: "Bonoless Rabbits". I'm so over U2 anyway.

I don't fault bad proofreading, which is most of the problem. I once lived in an apartment complex whose big sign said, "A Robinson Brothers Managed Propepty". I mentioned this to the manager who hadn't realized it and told me I was the only person to bring this up in all the years the sign had been there.

Some are fun. A Chinese market always has "Ho-Ho Peno Peppers" and nothing can make them change it. I tried. Can often use some Ho-Ho Peno.

Oct 21, 2014
lergnom in Not About Food
1

Dinner near Faneuil Hall

I'm sorry but I can't see spending $16 on a veggie burger. Or $19 for french dip. I just can't.

Oct 21, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area

Dinner near Faneuil Hall

Love Saus food and beer. Nearby choices might also include Granary on the Greenway and Mr. Dooley's. The former is a little more money.

Oct 20, 2014
lergnom in Greater Boston Area