Culinary land mines

I strongly dislike mustard; all varieties and brands. I've never met a mustard that I've liked so I'm one of the weirdos who prefers ketchup on hot dogs. I hate it when mustard is included in anything especially potato salad. I'm also not a fan of cilantro and will find any dish containing even a trace amount inedible.

Boston Cheap Eats: 10 Great Dishes Under $10

That pizza looks great

Poll: What's the Farthest You've Gone for Pizza?

When I lived in Scottsdale AZ I used to drive all the way to Flagstaff AZ (4 hour drive) for pizza. The place was based out of a gas station but had really good Chicago style thin crust pizza. I definitely miss that pizza!

Introducing Our New Etiquette Column, Manner Matters

I agree that this can be tricky especially for those of us who don't drink alcohol. I had dinner a few weeks ago with 5 other people and our total bill was over $600 with most of the cost being the result of several mixed drinks and 3 bottles of wine. I was pretty peeved when the bill came and my friend started calculating an even split until someone else chimed in for me. It sucks to have to be "that person" but I had a salad and water, which was less than $20 so it's a little presumptuous to assume that I'd be willing to subsidize everyone else's alcohol. It is hard to speak up because you don't want to look like a cheapskate, while in my case I'm just trying to avoid getting cheated.

The Top 10 Burgers in Melbourne From The Burger Adventure

@dinuc not in San Francisco I'm sure that the burger is not only preservative free but from a cow that was hugged every night before being tucked in. The chef probably has a photo of said cow with his old buddy farmer John displayed proudly in the dining room to justify the $20 price tag. The cheese is also probably superior as it's also a product of Dolly, I mean the cow.

Alinea and 'Babygate:' Should Babies Be Allowed in Fine Dining?

It's a tough position for the restaurant because if they booted the couple they would have found themselves on every morning talk show attempting to save face. But I agree that management should have addressed the issue instead of ignoring it, and asked the couple to take the baby out until quiet.

Mission Cantina: Danny Bowien's Foray Into Mexican Falls Short

I actually thought that the chicken dish was reasonable. It was the $5 taco that made me do a double-take.

What is beef summer sausage?

Lol @ Bob I remember it being a cheap gift for coworkers. It would usually come in a small gift box with cheddar and honey mustard. I would pick up 4 or 5 of them for $10 each (or less) and being in the midwest, look like the best coworker ever.

Slow-Cooker Chicago-Style Italian Beef and Sausage Combos

I grew up on those Italian beef kits that you could buy at grocery stores all over the area and most of them came with deli roast beef. IMO the Scala kit we bought often tasted as good, or better, than most of the beef sandwiches I had at restaurants. I really don't think that there's a hard and fast rule when it comes to any dish. I mean if it tastes good who cares?

Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker

Does The Doughnut Vault Serve the Best Doughnut in America?

Maybe I went on an off day but I thought that the donuts were a bit too sweet. Probably just my sugar tolerance, but I couldn't make it through half of a glazed.

Tasty Burgers and Terrible Service at Gordon Ramsay BurGR in Las Vegas

Lol it is kind of funny that 40 people feel the need to whine about the writer's annoyance with one word. Like your butt hurt trumps the writer's. But I guess you all are right - given what you could be called in the south "ma'am" probably isn't that bad. Bless your heart...

dishwasher vs. hand-washing dishes?

I haven't seen a dishwasher that requires rinsing in years. My dishes, pots and pans included, go straight in without being rinsed. I never have leftover residue on my dishes. I like it because I can load the dishwasher throughout the week as opposed to leaving a bunch of dishes in the sink, which I find to be extremely gross. Of course I hand wash, if needed; however, the dishwasher is always preferred. I also feel like my dishes are cleaner then when I hand wash. My dishwasher has a steam option and is HE so it requires very little detergent and water, but cleans thoroughly.

Ask the Critic: Here's How Tipping Actually Works

I find it odd that I've seen several recommendations for dealing with poor service, but no mention of talking to the server directly. I manage a large department and nothing annoys me more than someone coming to me to discuss an issue with one of my reports without having discussed the issue with that individual first. That behavior is so juvenile. If I have issues with my service I first address it with the server and if I don't get anywhere, then I bring it to management. I've found that 99% of the time the issue was calmly and quickly resolved with the server without involving management or having to short change the waiter for something in which he probably wasn't even aware. We all have a different definition of "good service," so I imagine that it has to be a pain to anticipate the individual needs of every person who walks through the door. Just a couple of nights ago I was at dinner and watched a man dress down the server for constantly interrupting him (the server was just refilling chatty Cathy's drink). So how many refills are too many and conversely what's too few? It's one of the reasons I switched from the vendor side of my industry because I grew tired of dealing with every client's requirement for personal attention as if they were my only client regardless of how much they contributed to my company's profit (I imagine it's also the same in that the people spending the least amount of money are the most demanding).

Ask the Critic: On Restaurant Critics and Expense Accounts

I agree that a professional reviewer not funding the meal can create a bias when considering value, but I think that's where peer reviews can actually be useful. I actually do this often for electronics. The professionals are often fan boys of manufacturers and also basing their reviews off of free samples provided by the manufacturers, so sometimes I question their opinions. I'll then refer to the comments sections of the reviews or even go to Amazon and check out what others (who've actually spent their money and so who are potentially better judges of value) have to say. Food reviews are similar; I'll often seek out professional reviews for opinions on the quality of the food and then check Yelp to see what others have to say about quality. No, none of the opinions will actually force my decision but they can help with making the decision. So as much flack as Yelp and similar sites get, for some of us they do have a place.

Building Trust in a Restaurant Setting

I also go to a restaurant with the dessert menu in mind. I'm a fairly decent cook but a terrible baker, so the only time I eat sweets is when dining out. My problem is that I usually dine out with folks like meatntaters who finish their entrees and want nothing more than another glass of wine. I usually stick to a salad to save room for my main course: chocolate cake. So I'm often the only person having dessert, which sucks. It's always nice when restaurants offer desserts that lean more to the savory side for those who aren't huge fans of sweets, or desserts that are lighter so that they're tempting after a large meal (other than boring standbys like ice cream, sorbet, or fruit). I also like simplicity. Living in San Francisco I see a lot of restaurants offering these deconstructed versions of popular desserts that require instructions from the waiter or a manual to figure out how to combine the components on the plate to get them to taste like bread pudding. I really don't want to work that hard for bread pudding. So variety is nice as well; 2-3 items that showcase the pastry chef's talent and that offer something to suit most palates.

Fast Food Workers Strike for Higher Wages

Five years ago I too would have said that a fast food restaurant is a summer job for a 16 year old, but given the unemployment rate I guess work is work. Maybe that's the real problem; the complaints are coming from individuals who would have never considered the fast food industry when they had other options, but now that their options are limited and they feel stuck (when compared to past experiences) they also feel underpaid. Maybe it's unrealistic expectations that are the problem, and not wages.

The Food Lab: Three Ways to Grill Corn

I've never had a problem getting grill marks and grilled flavor from corn in the husk. However, I use a charcoal grill and not a glorified hot plate (i.e. gas grill).

Staff Picks: What's the Best Pizza in Chicago?

+1 cpd007 How did Villa Nova in Cicero not make the list? I'll also take Giordano's over Lou Malnati's any day. Lou's pizza always tastes under-cooked unless you ask them to damn near burn it.

Golden Corral Video Exposes Unsanitary Food Storage Conditions

Not at all surprising! I did my MPH internship at the Maricopa Dept.of Health and most of my internship involved creating summary tables for their annual outbreak and influenza reports. I can tell you that Golden Corral was implicated in almost 20 outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness over a 5 year period. Food handling was rarely the culprit as most of the outbreaks were thought to be caused by sick employees handling the food. Oh and for the chain haters the small mom-and-pop restaurants were responsible for the majority of the complaints. Of the thousands of outbreak reports that I reviewed, chain restaurants were implicated in a very small percentage. In fact McDonald's didn't have any complaints, but Golden Corral and Pizza Hut were the biggest offenders for chains. I always joked to friends back in PHX to be very careful eating at Mexican restaurants with "Berto" in the name because those were the biggest offenders (one restaurant had an outbreak of meningitis most likely caused by the head cook who had been diagnosed with viral meningitis the day before he decided to come to work and prepare food).

Taste Test: The Best Bottled Barbecue Sauce

Although they might not be around for much longer Fresh and Easy has some pretty good sauces under their brand. I especially like the Whiskey sauce.

Chicago Pizza: Flour & Stone Tries to be 'Chicago's Brooklyn Style Pizza'

Is it the prices that make it "Brooklyn style" pizza?

Fast food mix 'n matching

Had an In-N-Out burger and Whattaburger fries for lunch. If you're going to indulge might as well do it right.

12 Corned Beef Sandwiches You Should Eat for St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

I miss AP deli! Although most of them were in shady locations, they turned out great corned beef sandwiches at a reasonable price.

Where to Take Your Barbecue-Loving Friend in Chicago

Chicago is just a city boys and girls IL is the state and there are plenty of great bbq joints outside of the city limits. Mike Mills, a bbq legend, who has beaten pit masters all over the country, including supposedly untouchable Texas, has 4 restaurants in IL. People seem to forget that if you drive outside of Chicago you are surrounded by farmland and there is plenty of good eating at small family run restaurants throughout the state.

Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker

Do you have this pizza maker? If so, would you recommend it? The reviews online are good, but I'd like to know what the SE community thinks as well.

I don't need a new toy, but I'd definitely like one and WS has it on sale.


The Best General Tso's Chicken

If the British can proudly call Chicken Tikka Masala their national dish, then surely it's time that General Tso got his chicken in our national spotlight. Everybody knows the candy-sweet take-out joint version, but I firmly believe that it has the potential to be so much more than that. How great would a homemade version of General Tso's be, with a flavor that shows some real complexity and a texture that takes that crisp-crust-juicy-center balance to the extreme? Our version does just that. More

Chewy Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Inspired by classic Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, this gluten-free version made with marshmallows, almonds, and chocolate chips nails the textbook chewy texture and delicious, candy bar-like flavor. While these bars contain dairy, they can easily be made dairy-free by using an equal amount of coconut oil in place of the butter. More

Coconut Rice With Chicken Thighs

Why I don't cook everything in coconut milk is beyond me. It adds a rich flavor, creamy texture, and a sweetness that is perfectly at home in savory dishes. This particular one-pot recipe, made with tender chicken thighs, fresh, crunchy snow peas, and lightly spiced rice cooked in coconut milk is not from any particular tradition, but it sure is a tasty way to make a quick, weeknight meal. More

Quick Indian Cabbage Salad

This salad of crisp cabbage, carrots, and coconut is one of those Indian dishes that takes minimal effort, doesn't involve a whole range of spices, and is ready in minutes. Dressed in an infused oil, it's the perfect side dish for a meal of rice and chicken. More

Coq au Vin With Veal Sausage, Thyme, and Merlot From 'Joy of Kosher'

Coq au vin was one of the first dishes that Jamie Geller learned to cook. As she tells it, her mother-in-law taught her how to gently simmer chicken in red wine sauce shortly after her wedding. The recipe in her new cookbook, Joy of Kosher, is a version of that dish—the chicken and red wine remain the same, but Geller has added slices of flavorful veal (or chicken) sausage to the mix. More

Easy Stir-Fried Pork With String Beans

Pork loves sweet, snappy counterparts—think pulled pork and cole slaw, or pork chops with sautéed apples. Maybe that's why pork and beans are such a classic Chinese combination. In this version, I use sliced marinated pork loin stir-fried very quickly with some blanched green beans, all flavored with ginger, garlic, and a simple marinade. It comes together in just about the same time that it takes to steam a batch of rice, making this a perfect weeknight meal. More

Fudgy, Spicy Cinnamon Chile Brownies

[Photograph: Andrew M. H. Alexander] This is a pretty classic brownie approach, but these are anything but boring. I've modified the classic (and well-loved) Baker's One Bowl recipe to produce a firmer slice with a stronger chocolate flavor, which, while... More

Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns (Gua Bao)

True Taiwanese pork belly buns have five defining components: the fluffy steamed bun, tender braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, fresh cilantro, and powdered peanuts. All combined, it's a messy, colorful, glorious snack of salty, sweet, pungent, and fresh flavors, with multiple textures to boot. More