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Picky NYC foodie looking for a well rounded list of restaurant recs

I'd add Lebanese as well.

Aug 25, 2015
Roland Parker in U.K./Ireland

Picky NYC foodie looking for a well rounded list of restaurant recs

I wonder if you're approaching this the wrong way. While you can find quite good restaurants in all categories perhaps it's better to focus on what London offers that stands out? For example, I don't think you'll find any pizza in London that is better than what you can find in New York. Comparable artisanal Neapolitan style pizza? Yes, but you don't need to travel to London for that.

Anyway, I'd recommend these modern British restaurants as being very good and showcasing among the best of British cooking:

Anchor and Hope
St. Johns
The Pig and Butcher
Harwood Arms
The Ledbury

For a truly old school but very (very!) good British restaurant in a wonderful, old fashioned setting, I love Rules.

As for Italian, River Cafe has been a longstanding London institution.

For Asian (non-Indian/Pakistani) the only east Asian I would go for in London over New York is for dim sum. London takes the edge because of its closer connections to Hong Kong, the home of dim sum. Royal China is a great place for good dim sum and it won't break the bank. Pearl Liang is another good option. There's higher end ones as well.

Aug 25, 2015
Roland Parker in U.K./Ireland

Would you travel out of the U.S. for a great steak?

No. I've been to all these places and have had steaks and they were good.

But steaks in the US is also terrific.

I actually prefer American grain fed steaks over the grass fed steaks of Spain or France. Australia has both grain and grass. I'm not especially wild about Wagyu beef as it ultimately ends up tasting like grilled butter (if that makes sense) and sacrifices the meatiness of the meat.

I would happily go to all these places you mentioned but not for the sole purpose of having steak.

Aug 21, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

Different humor for different people. I found the comment about the salmon rather funny because I had a similar experience once at a high-end seafood restaurant in Baltimore. We were taken to the counter where all the fish available was displayed and the waitress proceeded to spend a goodly amount of time telling us the difference between the fish, where it came from, how it was raised, to the point I rolled my eyes. I wish I'd remembered to ask which side of the river it swam on!

I'm only defending the review because I found it funny in its attempts to make fun of certain types of egoism surrounding modern day fine dining. It's meant to be satire. I got it. I understood it. Maybe you need to be British or have spent time in the UK to appreciate this particular type of review. Americans as a whole do not respond to satire particularly well.

Aug 15, 2015
Roland Parker in Manhattan

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

I don't understand you?

I am American but I have lived in the UK in the past and believe me when I say the British couldn't care less about the American Revolution. It's one little historical incident in a long, long and long history, and one that has no meaningful importance to the British. The Napoleonic wars afterwards was far more important. Put it this way, it was not their Vietnam....

Aug 15, 2015
Roland Parker in Manhattan

Ground Lamb

Lamb is not common in generic supermarkets and you're much more likely to find it in upscale markets, including Wegmans. If they have lamb, they'll likely also have lamb burger patties, and thus ground lamb!

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

Many of you may not realize that professional food criticism in the UK tends to be much sharper, biting and satirical. They are not soft or polite. And it's not just for food, professional or academic criticism in Britain is, despite the British reputation for reserve, much more direct and to the point than in the United States.

Believe me, the same types of restaurants in London would receive the same level of criticism.

And, as an American who has dined at several of the "most prestigious" restaurant (of the day) in the US, I'm glad to see someone point out some of the fallacies and egoism surrounding aspects of very high fine dining. And I know that I'm hardly the only American who would have this reaction too. In the words of my father's good friend who was an epicurean long before foodies became popular, "it's just food."

Aug 15, 2015
Roland Parker in Manhattan

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

Is there anything as trite as the old tired Revolutionary war reference that some Americans drum up every time someone from the UK dares criticize something in the United States?

Aug 15, 2015
Roland Parker in Manhattan

homemade ice cream with no sweetener, will it taste okay?

My guess is that the ice cream will end up tasting a lot like frozen yoghurt. Tangy.

Be aware that cold products will not taste as sweet as a warmer product, which is why ice cream generally call for a lot of sugar (and that sugar is often integral to the texture of ice cream). Your final product will probably be icier and tangier than the typical ice cream, but you may very well enjoy it.

Aug 11, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking 17 "American" Food Aisles From Other Countries

For the longest time the only thing I bought from the "American" aisle in Europe or elsewhere was salsa. Never very good and always the standard mass market salsa, but until very recently it was generally the only place to find it, along with a handful of generic Tex-Mex products.

Asked to leave the building after ordering take out

Always. Never tip take out but do tip dine in.

But based on the OP's post this restaurant sounds like a self serve type place similar to how Chipotle is structured. I don't tip at Chipotle.

Aug 08, 2015
Roland Parker in Not About Food

Best Buffets in the World

The all you can eat/drink Friday brunch (runs from 1:00-4:30 PM on average) in Dubai is a major institution.

Some are dreadful, but others are actually extremely good with a wonderful selection of very well prepared food.

One particular place does an outstanding buffet that includes fois gras, oysters on the shell, fabulous patisseries and wonderful mains, along with free flowing champagne. It's $200 USD/head.

Given the high cost of alcohol in Dubai the brunches are fairly good value if you intend to drink more than two or three drinks.

Aug 02, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

What is your perfect breakfast?

I'm boring.

Yoghurt, a few slices of fruit and a cup of cappuccino.

If I'm indulging then a croissant with the cappuccino.

As much as I love the appeal of the larger breakfasts, I can't eat too much food early in the day and I'm up most days by 6:30 AM.

Jul 27, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

Why everyone should stop calling immigrant food ‘ethnic’

I normally enjoy reading most of what you post but this time I'm going to offer a differing viewpoint.

Most people I know when they refer to "ethnic" aren't specifically looking solely for cheap food. If they wanted cheap food, they would have gone to McDonalds.

In seeking out the foods that traditionally was regarded as ethnic (Indian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and so forth) it looks like people are seeking out exciting flavors and ingredients they normally don't eat on a daily basis. These cuisines are indeed very different from the typical American or British diet. One would think that labelling food as "ethnic" is a positivity rather than a derogatory term.

I know quite a few people who routinely dine out on "ethnic" food because they find it good value. They like the flavors and they think they're getting their money's worth. Is that a bad thing? So many ethnic cuisines were first introduced to the UK or the US in the form of inexpensive immigrant run restaurants catering to the local, poorly paid, immigrant community. That level of cuisine is what they're familiar with and enjoy, and as we know, food is a very personal thing.

High end "ethnic" restaurants are still thin on the ground in both the US and UK once you leave London or New York or a handful of other cities. If people associate ethnic food with low costs it's primarily because of this lack of exposure to much more expensive versions of those cuisines. The vast majority of Americans and British also do not dine out at expensive British or American style restaurants either. Many people who resist at the notion of spending more money at an expensive "ethnic" restaurant also resist the notion of spending a lot of money at any restaurants, period.

As someone who is an excellent home cook I can somewhat sympathise with this attitude, I've had too many $30 dollar entrees at "American" or French/Italian/Continental/Fusion restaurants that passes for the default aspirational cuisines of the western upper middle classes that were pleasant but didn't feel worth the money when I compare it to what I could make at home, whereas the $10 "ethnic" Thai or Malaysian or Indian curry seems to be much better value. I don't cook those cuisines, the flavors are different enough to be a novelty and yep (if one is careful with research beforehand) still extremely well prepared. As such, I never think of "ethnic" as a derogatory term but something that is exactly what it implies: different food generally well prepared by a relatively recent immigrant group. And, ironically, "ethnic" was a popular buzzword in the 1970s-1980s used by the politically correct to celebrate the diversity of the immigrant groups as opposed homogenizing them into the standard mass culture.

4 elegant but simple dinner recipes / menus to master for dinner parties

Like several other posters have already done, I strongly recommend Ina Garten's cookbooks.

As someone who also does the occasional corporate related entertaining for my husband's career, I've discovered that people are happiest when eating what might be termed upscale-casual/upscale-home cooking food. Ina Garten's recipes are perfect both for the ease of cooking and for entertaining.

There is also no shame in outsourcing part of the meal. Instead of making your own dessert, buy a good quality tart or cake or pastries from a reputed bakery.

How to brown cake edges?

I think there's a little confusion here over the terminology and it may be because of a UK versus US audience.

Traditional sponge cake, and as it's understood in the US and Europe, is naturally quite pale as it's made with flour, sugar and eggs, but no butter or fat or milk.

The recipe you linked is a bit unusual in adding butter but it also added a blend of melted butter and milk, which results in something different than creaming butter with sugar and eggs and then adding flour. The American version would be a hot milk sponge cake.

Given this technique and the small amount of butter, there's really not much you can do to deepen the browning of the cake without drying it out.

But when I look at the picture you have in your post I'm guessing you really have the idea of making a Victoria Sponge cake, which is much more similar to the US pound cake, or to go by another UK name, madeira cake. Many people in the UK refer to this simple cake as a "sponge" even though it isn't quite a sponge and is solidly based on a butter batter.

If you want brown edges as you find with a proper Victoria sponge, use a Victoria sponge recipe (which calls for much more butter than your recipe did and is even easier to make) and do not line the sides of the tin with parchment, but thickly butter and flour the tin. The more butter you use, the browner the cake edges will become. And yes, it's one of my favorite parts of the cake! I love a nice thick brown coating.

Jul 06, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

potatoes in chicken soup?

You mean advice?

I make chicken soup with diced potatoes in it. The potato adds a bit of starch to the soup and the potato absorbs the chicken stock flavor. It's one of my favorite things to nibble on while eating the soup. I actually prefer it to the chicken meat.

If your potatoes are already cooked, odds are they will disintegrate rather than hold their shape unless you're very gentle and add the potatoes to the soup after it's already largely cooked and only at a simmer for about 10 minutes to warm up the potato bits.

Jul 03, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Too much sugar in dessert recipes

The issue isn't so much that dessert recipes have too much sugar. It's that your taste preference differs from the "norm."

As others have suggested, seek out recipes that call for less sugar. I have a sweet tooth but not an intensely sweet tooth. Many baked goods are mildly sweet, such as unglazed cinnamon or raisin rolls and croissants. Creamy desserts can be made with less sugar, such as freshly cut up fruit served with unsweetened whipped cream. Desserts that have a lot of fruit can withstand having the sugar content dialed back, such as apple pies, but it's much trickier with cakes.

Too much sugar in dessert recipes

I have many old cookbooks dating back to the 19th century and the amount of sugar called in typical cakes and pies seems to be about the same.

People ate large quantities of jam and preserves in the past and jam is little more than sugar with fruit flavoring.

All kinds of pickles were also popular and they also had a fair amount of sugar.

I think the big change is that sugar was started to be added to what was otherwise strictly savory.

New dining options in Bmore?

Hello Kukubura, I do remember you well. I had wondered what happened to you. Like you I no longer live in Baltimore but still have family in town and return almost every summer and Christmas.

We have scores of British relatives and friends and the one restaurant they always love in Baltimore is LP Steamers in Locust Point. They love the old fashioned "Baltimore" atmosphere and if the weather is nice, sitting outside on the rooftop deck. They will claim to enjoy the crab but being British I can tell that they're not overly fond of using their fingers and mallets to tear apart the crab, but they will happily chow down on the steamed shrimps, oysters, crabcakes and the seasoned fries.

If you are still in Baltimore and have your British coworkers with you, I would head down to LP Steamers with them. Your London coworkers will likely already be familiar with restaurants of Parts & Labour and Woodberry Kitchen calibre, but LP Steamers is different and the style and seasoning of the food is not easily found in Britain.

Would you buy dessert sauces at a farmers market?

I've seen them for sale in markets in the UK, along with the jams and relishes.

Good quality chocolate sauce to heat up and pour over vanilla ice cream would probably be a nice hit. I'd buy it.

Washington Post: Eating healthy through Ramadan

You should see Ramadan in the UAE.

Iftar buffets every night in fancy hotels for affluent Muslims, groaning with huge platters of rich food and much of it is wasted and thrown away each night, while poor labourers subsist on rice and daal after spending all day hard at work with no water or food in 110+ degree heat.

I find the whole tradition peculiar. So many Muslims take long naps during the afternoons and then stay up very late. It really affects the body metabolism. And others who have health issues, including diabetes, persist in fasting despite the dangers it presents (Saudi is expected to have as much as 50% of its population diabetic in the next few decades). And all for what?

Map: The most uniquely popular cuisine in every state

I seem to remember a thread on this topic not long ago?

I think people pointed out there was an overlap between an higher than average numbers of certain immigrant groups and the state's uniquely popular cuisine. Such as Filipino food in Nevada, despite that Hispanic immigrants would greatly outnumber the Filipino. The same is true for Peruvian for both DC and Maryland, which is due to the higher than normal numbers of immigrants from certain Central American/South American countries, but it doesn't mean that Peruvian is commonplace. At all.

One way or another, it is a silly map.

origin of Cracker Pie

I was intrigued as I do have some knowledge of food history as well as rationing during WWII.

I suspect the articles confused rationing in the UK with what occurred in the US during WWII. Apples were not one of the rationed foodstuff and given the sheer commonality of apple trees and orchards across much of the United States, something that was not in short supply. Quite a few "war recipes" called for apples. Canada even rebranded apples as a patriotic food because the war disrupted international trade, including Canada's apple export market, so the government encouraged Canadians to support their farmers by buying as much Canadian produce, including apples.

It is possible that in parts of the US without an orchard culture, such as the southwest, fruits including apples that were normally imported over large distances may have become more expensive as a consequence of the war, but it would not have been nationwide.

As you pointed out, the extant articles claiming the origins of mock apple pie on WWII rationing seem dubious given the pie's much longer history and I also suspect it's a case of one speculative writer's theory being taken as gospel by other bloggers or those anonymous internet articles and restated over and over again without much validity.

Jun 14, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

origin of Cracker Pie

Apples were not one of the rationed food items during WWII. Apples were so commonplace so I doubt they were really that rare or expensive. Sugar was rationed and that would have had a greater impact on the evolution of pies to suit rationing purposes.

Mock apple pie recipes have been around in the US for a long time, well before the war. Pioneers would make it when they arrived in a raw new part of the country where apple trees were in short supply and were missing a taste of home. The origins of the pie doubtlessly stretches long before even the Civil War.

Jun 12, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

Store-bought vs. homemade grated Parmesiano Reggiano

It's possible that the store's cheese grater wasn't fully cleaned of another cheese before grating the parmesan, and it was that cheese that went moldy.

It's one reason why I won't buy pre grated parmesan from my local Carrefour because I once opened a package and there were bits of mozzarella mixed in with the parmesan!

May 29, 2015
Roland Parker in Cheese

Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock in the kitchen

Actually you are right. I wrote in haste. Suet, not lard, was used for the puddings and fruitcakes.

May 28, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock in the kitchen

Many old British steamed pudding and fruit cake recipes included lard for the fat. A once very popular dessert was jam roly poly, which is little more than a dough made of flour and lard rolled out, filled with jam, and then rolled like a Swiss roll, and steamed for hours.

The concept of the pork cake wouldn't have been so atrocious.

May 28, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Store-bought vs. homemade grated Parmesiano Reggiano

I use a lot of reggiano in salads, pasta, baking.

I prefer to buy by the block and process it in my cuisnart rather than buying it pregrated.

I'm of the opinion that the best flavor comes from when the cheese is grated into something akin to crumbly, hard breadcrumbs that still has texture, rather than the fine powder you associate with the generic Kraft brand. You're not going to get this grating the cheese on a regular grater. The cuisinart is wonderful for doing this, really, just about perfect.

Too often I find prepackaged grated reggiano grated into long straws (at least one Whole Foods in Maryland was guilty of doing this for ages), or into a powder, and neither brings out the best of the flavor. Quite often the store will grind a good portion of the rind along with the cheese, which dilutes the strength and flavor of the overall package.

Last but not least, I've come across grated Grana Padana labelled as reggiano!

May 25, 2015
Roland Parker in Cheese

Best type of pan for caramelizing mushrooms?

I remember reading Julia Child and she observed that the trick to browning mushrooms was not to cook too many mushrooms at one time.

If you have too many mushrooms, it releases too much moisture and while the mushrooms do cook, they become soggy in the liquid and remain gray in color.

As long as I don't crowd the pan I do successfuly brown mushrooms to a wonderful brown color and the flavor is excellent.

May 22, 2015
Roland Parker in Cookware