Staff Picks: What to Drink at a Not-Great Bar

Are the people dismissing Campari from the Midwest/South? I feel like this is not an entirely uncommon thing in the Northeast. Depending on the neighborhood/owner's family, you could even find several different amaros hiding in the back rows of the bar, or a decent bottle of whiskey that the right bartender will overpour for you because you drink his da's brand. Or they could have no idea what Campari is, and think whiskey means Jack Daniels. You could find both at the same bar.

And when did ginger ale from a soda gun become some sort of high falutin' yuppie drink? Wrong kind of syrup, I guess.

A Beginner's Guide to British Beer Styles

When a discussion turns on autocorrected spelling errors, it's time for it to end. To each his own.

A Beginner's Guide to British Beer Styles

@11USCCH7 Thanks for assuming my perspective for me. I've not only stepped out of the 50, I've lived outside of it. In Ireland. One of the countries currently being discussed. I've also sampled the brewing wares of the UK extensively both in its country of origin, next door in Ireland, and in the USA.

Many of the good beers brewed in either the UK or the USA will not appeal to your particular palette. Dismissing Americans for liking hoppier beers is like dismissing Belgians for all those sour beers they like so much.

A Beginner's Guide to British Beer Styles

@Lorenzo - What American beer was 30 years ago is completely irrelevant to my claim. What the UK scene will be in 20 years is also irrelevant. Right NOW, the Yanks are brewing more great beers than any other country. Of course, we're also 300 million people, and we brew (and consume) more truly awful beer than most of the others combined. No one's making ME drink it, though, so I don't really dock points.

The UK is now taking a page out of the American Craft Beer playbook. It's not necessarily a craft issue-- a lot of it is about financing and logistics. Added to some of the great breweries, such as SS and Fullers, it's going to be pretty awesome. But right now it just hasn't really made a dent yet. Give it time.

@ssorg I specifically said that the UK and Ireland ARE great beer nations. They're just not top seeds, as it were.

A Beginner's Guide to British Beer Styles

Britain and Ireland are pretty low on the list of great beer nations if you go by quality of the available brews. But there is no drinking institution put forth by the Belgians, Germans, Czechs, or Americans that can hold a candle to a nice snug in the back of a good pub.

What's Your Biggest Gripe About New York Restaurants?

Honestly, less to do with restaurants and more with their local patrons, but my main gripe is the attitude that even a mediocre restaurant or bar in NYC is somehow unparalleled anywhere outside city limits.

My favorite back in college was a New Yorker explaining "real" Indian a woman who'd just come back from a year abroad in London.

A Very Unofficial Snack Cake Field Guide

My dad ate a breakfast of Ring Dings and Diet Coke for years. He also ran 5-10 miles a day, so I guess it evened out? Us kids were bigger fans of the Yodels (for peeling) or Devil Dogs (for dunking). The only Hostess product any of us cared for were the cupcakes. Twinkies and coconut abominations were exiled from our house by unanimous accord.

Fantastic Irish Brown Bread at Matt Murphy's Pub in Brookline, MA

I miss the old layout/vibe. Waiting for the guitarist to finish his hot solo so you can scootch between him and the bassist to go to the bathroom is kind of awesome.

The Best Budget Irish Whiskeys

Did Paddy not make the cut? I've a bottle of Powers in my sideboard despite not drinking Irish whiskey for ages, but only because Paddy can be a bit of a trick to find in your average Boston area "packie".

Manner Matters: The Knife-and-Fork of It

V/X = not done, parallel = done. Assigning a specific placement on the plate is fussy and unnecessary unless you think a .25 second delay in your server clearing is unacceptable.

That's my take. But as a lefty, I find most table "etiquette" to be the work of sadists who should have their knife and forked superglued to their hands.

Are Shooter's Sandwiches Really Worth a Damn?

I'll do my best to spellcheck from what must be a potato, because this is the first I've heard of this phenomenon.

I do not approve.

This looks like a sandwich for people who don't like bread. Which is kind of dumb. I'm also skeptical of the steak. The whole thing seems likely to come along for the ride on the first bite. Then you're standing there like some kind of wild animal with a steak hanging out of your mouth and a sad piece of what used to be good bread dripping mushrooms on your shoes.

Gadgets: Swissmar Cheese Holder

@BeavisPeters - Um, I would 100% prefer people's fingers be on the handle of a gadget than the cheese I plan on eating. Is that preference strong enough to procure this gadget? Probably not. But pretending there is no difference between those two options is just absurd.

Poll: Which Standard Burger Toppings Do You Secretly Despise?

Mustard is acceptable as an ingredient (e.g. Animal Style), but not as a topping. Because reasons.

Would You Eat These Crazy Pizzas?

I don't think the Supreme Pizza Poutine is claiming to be pizza any more than Pizza Flavor Goldfish. It's a play on poutine that is topped with all the things you find on a Supreme Pizza. How is this at all confusing?

Also, the Daily Meal's list has now made me want a nice charred slice topped with some really spicy Chinese pork and drizzled with Kewpie mayo and maybe some sriracha.

Ask a Cicerone: What's the Best Affordable Beer?

Yes, a $8 bottle of beer made by the people who used to brew the best beer in the world is affordable. You are not supposed to resell Westveleteren. St Bernadus 12 at $8 is an "inferior good" that substitutes for a beer that requires a trip to Belgium with NO GUARANTEE that you will get to buy ONE CASE of it.

Guess what? There isn't a craft beer that drinks like Pliny but sells for the price of a PBR tallboy. And there are a lot more beer experiences than crushing some brews with your bros. Would I like to find the equivalent of a Notch Session Ale that costs $6-8/sixpack? Yes. But I stop by a small-town NH general store that stocks 750-ml beers fairly regularly. Turning their low turnover rate into my personal aging cellar is an ingenious way to have a high-end beer experience at a price I can afford.

Taste Test: Is Better Vanilla Extract Worth the Price?

@HappyHighwayman - The explanation is that the beans have no alcohol, which is present in uncooked applications using the real and imitation extracts: "That alcohol would mostly evaporate with cooked products, and is not present at all when using actual vanilla beans."

Point/Counterpoint: On Dairy Queen Coming to Manhattan

I think it's interesting that DQ provokes such a virulent response where other, equally bland corporate chains do not. As another poster pointed out, NYC is awash with terrible froyo clones. People may snicker, but they do not wring their hands at the loss of New York's character. Is DQ so clearly associated with suburban/rural places that it seems wrong in the Citiest of Cities? Or is it kind of a regionalist or classist thing?

The Strange Stories Behind the Names of 5 Popular Beer Styles

I've heard that barleywine was a wartime replacement for the French claret well-to-do Brits couldn't get (or did not want to purchase for political reasons) during the y18th century. Any word on that possibly apocryphal story in your research?

Pantry Essentials: Canned Cranberry Sauce

I'm pretty neutral on the homemade vs. canned sauce argument. I only like it on sandwiches, and in moderation. But Andrew, please refer to Wheaton's Law. Passive Agressive shaming of people who prefer canned is a minor violation.

Poll: How Many Slices is Lunch?

I ordered 3 sicilian slices at my favorite local spot, and there was a pause on the other side of the counter "Did you say...three slices?". I WAS CARBO LOADING, Judgy McJudgerson!

Feasting Bavarian-Style at Bronwyn in Somerville

@arjordan - Nothing I've had there felt high end. The mains aren't incredibly overpriced relative to similar places, but the quality isn't the same. Likewise, the starters seem reasonable until they come out and you realize what you're paying per bite. They've placed themselves in the price range of a lot of very excellent restaurants in the area, and they aren't keeping up. There are several restaurants sharing the same parking lot that are putting out more consistently delicious food for less money.

A $7 pretzel in a Bavarian restaurant should not be mediocre and small. It should make your eyes widen. Your dining partner should shoot you a look that says "We are coming back soon to eat pretzels and drink like professionals." When things are good, like the wurst plate we had, the portions are laughably and uncharacteristically small.

The beer list is fairly boring except for a few German beers you won't see elsewhere. But it's all several dollars more than it should be. The entire menu is overpriced relative to the quality of the actual food.

Feasting Bavarian-Style at Bronwyn in Somerville

Meh. Overpriced and underwhelming. Doesn't help that they're right next to a bunch of really fantastic places that know exactly what they are. Bronwyn feels like an outpost of Harvard Sq more than an addition to Union.

Ask The Food Lab: Do I Need To Use Kosher Salt?

I feel like table salt is useful for people who bake with it and for people who have a cherished collection of older recipes that assume it. Otherwise, I kind of scratch my head when people wonder why you need kosher or sea salt. It just seems like a backwards question.

I have a big box of kosher salt for cooking and sea salt for the table. Somewhere I have fancy finishing salts that don't get used unless I've tricked a lovely lady into joining me for dinner. "I eat like this every night, honest. And all of my shirts are this clean...."

Mexican Mashups?

Pub down the road from me has special menus on Wed nights. This month is French Mexican fusion:

A mix of obvious (Duck confit tacos) and interesting (Coq au vin enchilada).

Valentine's Day: Where to Take a Date to Eat in Boston

Someone should write a short story called "What We Talk About When We Talk About Boston".

If someone ranking "Boston" restaurants or bars means only the City of Boston, they will tell you. Otherwise it is assumed they are including at least Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville (in practice, these tend to replace Charlestown and East Boston. Life isn't fair).

Skillet/broiler pizza technique-- supersize it?

Home sick and about to cook breakfast in one of my cast-iron skillets. Last night we used it to make pizza via the skillet/broiler technique. Actually, we made about 5 pizzas. They were delicious, but tiny.

Got me thinking-- what about those cast-iron griddles you put over 2 gas burners? You know the ones-- they have grooves on one side and are flat on the other.

Does anyone know any reason these things shouldn't go in the broiler? I'm thinking I could make a much bigger oblong pizza (a la Sally's or Pepe's). Cast-iron is cast-iron, right? Or am I missing something (like a coating, etc?)

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