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Kurowycky's closing due to rising rent. Share rage, memories here.

@DocChuck re: Walmart. You say things went downhill when Walmart moved in to serve the Chicagoans and Californinans, but is Walmart not from NW Arkansas, where you are from? How far did they have to move in order to move into your town? I ask because I have been watching my favorite childhood eateries slowly close in my old town, years after Walmart moved in. Some lost business, but many are simply retiring, moving away, etc... I'm pretty sure people who were lucky enough (and willing) to experience Chicago's and California's amazing restaurants weren't clamoring for Walmart's frozen food section in its stead.

Are they disgusting or what??

I really don't see why this question was couched with a "city person" being a blowhard about a "country" delicacy and getting his comeuppance when the southern "academic" turned out see this urbanite for his true snobby stripes. How about a plain and simple, "Do you (y'all) like grits?"

I live in New York City, I grew up in the suburbs of it, and spent a decent amount of time south of the Mason Dixon Line. And I do like grits, when they're made well.

Which wich?

An Italian sub, overflowing with tasty cured meats, provolone, pickled hot peppers, fresh lettuce tomato onion, and oil and vinegar on a chewy sub roll, preferably with semolina flour all over the outside that will get on everything and make a big delicious mess while I try to eat it. With a small bag of chips on the side.

Banh mi is a close second.

What's the secret in your chili recipe?

Well I don't know about all this leave out the beans stuff. What I think makes mine unique and tasty is twofold. First, interestingly, is the beer. I have a bunch of Magic Hat (can't remember the name of the actual brew) that is dark as Guinness, which I don't really like to drink. But including a bottle of it in my chili makes it awesomely rich and smoky tasting. I'd say it's even darker than Negro Modelo, which I actually enjoy. And I won't pour a lager or ale in the chili-- those end up tasting waaay too hoppy or grainy for me.

Second is indeed the beans. Black, red pinto, great northern and sometimes a 4th mystery bean. They all go in. I'm not making hot dog chili after all-- I'm making a meal (or more like ten of them)! Besides, beans ARE the musical fruit.

The Power of Food Blogging

I had the unfortunate problem of being discovered as I was doing a review recently. Now, I'm not famous, but I just came with the tools of the trade (camera, notepad) and was just a little less discreet than I should've been. Suddenly I was being treated like a rock star. And that bothered me, because in writing a review, it's just not fair to review an experience that is so different from the typical diner's.

That said, there are other ways to get the rock star treatment. After a meal at 1789 in DC much like your first at Le Cirque, I was so underwhelmed I wrote a letter to the management, and received an offer to make things right. Unfortunately I couldn't take them up on it because it was literally one of my last days in DC before moving to New York. But I assumed that meant I wouldn't be shunted into a table in the boonies, barely waited on and have my entree come out before my wine was served, like the first time.

I would've been fine getting special treatment after writing a letter, a private interaction between customer and business. But the fact that as a food blogger you got it, makes me wary. For instance, you say now " I wrote a post on my website titled (perhaps inappropriately) Only a Jerk Would Eat at Le Cirque." But dude, that's what you're known for! I love that you come up with these great titles and descriptions. And it sounds like you were treated like a sucker the first time you ate there, so why not give them hell for it? As an individual and a family, I'm sure you appreciated the opportunity to have the star treatment. But as a food writer, you can't let that treatment make you suddenly decide you were too hard on the restaurant the first time, especially when you say the food wasn't much better the second time around. If you're going to take that meal on the house, you have to be doubly sure you are not going to be cutting the place any slack, and definitely not recanting what you've already written.

Regardless of my opinion, well done. I appreciated the enlightening and well written essay.

Question of the Day: Ever eaten something while it was still alive?

The beating heart of a cobra. Oh, wait, sorry, I just watched Bourdain do that on TV. So, oysters then. But, oysters plucked right from a riverbed, below the boat I was on. Does not get any fresher, people. Also, don't forget, yogurt is live culture bacteria.

Miller High Life's Century-Old Title as the "Champagne of Beers" Threatened by Krait's New Beerpagne

Yes, it found its way to the free table at my job, and a bunch of us cracked it open and tasted it. It was really, really, not very good. The only thing I can figure is it was skunked or the people making it have no idea what beer is. For example, that it doesn't come in champagne bottles.

Intoxicating Wine and Liquor Stores

I recently went to a bourbon and cheese class at Murray's where "LeNell" was in charge of the booze-half of the course. Some of the pairings she and the cheese instructor created were AMAZING. But some were, eh, just there. What I admired about her approach was her intense knowledge of bourbon, the way it's made and the way each individual distiller blends their particular brands. Yet with all this knowledge, she was happy to cut loose, experiment and come across some sublime pairings at the expense of a few ordinary ones. Kudos to Tonya on her bourbon and her wine selections. I really need to pilgrimage out to LeNell's and see what her shop is all about.

Experiences with Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron?

Sandro, how awful! As I'll probably be moving soon, you can bet my pan is going to be on the top of the packing list. And Serious Eater-- civil war era pans??! Wow! That's incredible. Imagine what foods have graced those surfaces over the years... mmm....

Experiences with Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron?

Why did you have to replace them? In my understanding these things are supposed to last for generations. Just curious as to what happened... (and sorry, no experience with the preseasoned variety)

I have a question.

Thanks FKC. Your recipe sounds scrumptious, and you can't go wrong with a broil. I don't know if I've ever had Borsari salt. What's it like? Oh, but one thing-- I'm not sure if it's paranoia, but I tend not to salt steaks before cooking. I feel like that draws out moisture. Instead I like to salt the meat once it's been served. I really don't know if it makes a difference in moisture, but you can taste more of the (especially gourmet) salt.

I have a question.

How about this: Coat it with olive oil, some fresh cracked black pepper and a tiny sprinkle of cinammon. Fry (medium-high heat) it for 2-4 minutes per side in a cast iron skillet, then put the skillet into a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes to finish it. Pull the skillet out of the oven, let the steak rest on a plate, and deglaze the pan with some red wine. Bring it to boil until it thickens to a sauce consistency. Pour on top and voila. For checking doneness without a thermometer, use the touch test. At different doneness, the steak will feel like different parts of your palm. It works remarkably well.

do you eat at a 'clean' chain pizza place, or a dirty indie one?

You say the pizza at the chains is decent but not great, but you don't mention the quality of the food at the indie chains. Which do you like the best?

Also, a spotless looking kitchen can be a sanitary disaster while a grubby kitchen, if the food is held at the right temperatures and the areas that need to be clean are clean, can be totally safe.

Also, if you live in New York, you can check any restaurant's Health Dept. score online.

Question of the Day: Fancy Pans or Not?

An aluminum nonstick coated pan for sauces and things that will need deglazing. Mine has a bowl shape so it's also good for stir-frying small amounts of food in a pinch. A copper bottom stainless steel for all around stuff, especially good for frozen foods. And a heavy ass cast iron skillet for eggs, bacon, and oil-frying (chicken wings, beignets, so on.)

Are Expensive Pans Necessarily Better?

Kudos on the study. I would reason that you get to know your pan over time and how much heat it will take to get up to cooking temperature.

To me, if I can cook an egg on medium low rather than medium high, that's a good thing in terms of taste and energy consumption (maybe not for one egg, but for 1000 eggs...) Plus the Bowery pan heats quick--better in a restaurant kitchen than waiting around for butter to melt.

If you have the budget, it'd be interesting to get a super fancy chef's frying pan (like say, a Sur la table model) for like $80. Something a restaurant would never use but a kitchen dandy might convince themselves is the only pan their maid should ever use to cook an egg.

Question of the Day: What's your guilty pleasure?

10 cent hot wings from Croxley Ales on Avenue B in New York City on Monday nights. Damn they're good.

Question of the Day: Carolina or Kansas City barbecue?

A third to what onthestereo said. A pulled pork sandwich with that soft, vinegary taste, a touch of sauce, and of course a heap of the side of coleslaw dumped right on top is quite simply heaven on a bun. But KC-style ribs simply cannot be beat.

Best Bahn Mi in NYC??

I really like Nicky's but I admit it's also very near where I live and thus hella convenient. I admit I haven't tried as many Banh Mi shops as I'd like, but I feel like I've already found one of the best places in NYC not two blocks away.

There IS a new place coming on Mott St (the sign is up and fixtures are in the store, but not yet open) that I'm really excited about, if only because it's actually pretty big and I'm curious to see what they'll have to accompany their Banh Mi. Last time I went to Nicky's they didn't even have their normal assortment of Asian potato chips, which was a bit of a letdown as they are the perfect complement to a classic (pate) banh mi. Has anyone ever tried the Nicky's "summer/spring" rolls? They are in a pastry case on the counter-- rice paper wrapped something or other. I'm always interested, but they just look like they've been sitting around forever.

Favorite Burrito in NYC?

Best burrito and best Mexican food in New York. El Maguey y La Tuna on Houston Between Attorney and whatever's east of Attorney. This isn't a burrito shack, but I just think they do a damn good job. Stick with their more traditional Mexican dishes for the best experience, although I hear that their Tex-Mex dishes (quesadillas, fajitas, etc) are starting to get better. They also stock Mexican Coke. This isn't quite a burrito, but I think the best dollar value on the menu is Tacos al Pastor, which is Mexico City's most popular street food for a reason. Enjoy!

What's your favorite Thanksgiving food?

I'm sorry to buck your line, but I think what happens in Vegas when the result wasn't anticipated (like a rainout) is officially a "no bet" so your money is returned. Anyway, I have to vote for the post Thanksgiving massive, ridiculous Turkey sandwich. It goes something like this:

A sturdy bread to hold up to the food. either a Jewish rye or a rustic ciabatta type thing. Turkey on bottom, followed by a spoonful of gravy. Thin layers of potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, a spoon or two of gravy. Cranberries next, perhaps some yam too. A spoon gravy. Top it with a nice piece of turkey skin, put the 2nd slice of bread on, and give it a nice squeeze. My preference is to microwave it, but it can be enjoyed cold. Find a glass of whatever wine was left over from yesterday, and enjoy.


This unanswerable question's answer is Calvin Trillin. A man who lures his daughter back from California with bagels, who enlists his wife's Chinese students to decipher the Chinatown menus, who refuses to ever dine at "le maison de la casa house", who taught us how to pack a proper airplane meal, is a man who deserves his place in the Pantheon. He discovered American cuisine while it was learning to crawl. Nothing has been the same since.

In a time when food writing is bursting with more talent than the '27 Yankees, we must honor the Ur-men: Ruth. Escoffier. Trillin.

Is There Such a Thing as a 4 Star Bargain?

I've found lunch at Cafe Boulud to be a cheap four star experience. Or I did about 2-3 years ago, when I went a few times. I know Carmellini recently left so maybe this isn't the case anymore. When I went, I found the menu to be incredibly well conceived. Their was a chicken liver on frisee salad with caramelized something or other that left my mouth watering for more.

The service was also impeccable and the atmosphere, a nice, modern but comfortable space, is probably one of the things that made the place so well regarded in the first place. A two course lunch is usually in the low 30s, but I believe they run a prix-fixe special for $30 on the dot.

Hmm, I should head back there sometime soon and see if this is all still true!

Tim Zagat Likes Close to Home Cooking

I "really" can't "imagine" using "Zagat" for any "useful information" these days.

There are so many other "good" guides for "food" on the "internet" that Zagat seems like a "relic" of "outdated" reviews and meaningless "ratings."

For those of us who like to read "coherent sentences" uncluttered with "cliched superlatives" or "total inaccuracies" it's much easier to turn to sites like Chowhound, Gayot, New York Magazine, Village Voice, and the dozens of individual food bloggers, all of which usually provide much better information than that archaic little book.

Top Manhattan Slices by Neighborhood

Rosario's on the Lower East Side. Amazing, crispy slices, perfect crust, fresh ingredients. They do not deliver because quite simply they do not have to. Haven't worked up the nerve to try the cheeseburger pizza. Btw, there is an article in this month's Gourmet where 4 elite Italian chefs are taken to Rosario's and although they are horrified by the cheeseburger pizza and plebian atmosphere, they cannot help but compliment the slice.

And upon moving back to the area (but first time in Manhattan), I was amazed at how easy it is to buy a truly awful slice of pizza if you're not careful.


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