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7 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches We Love in San Francisco

I can't believe you didn't include the pressed pecorino with almonds at Tartine! A game-changing grilled cheese, even if it is fancy-pants. Yum.

Bake the Book: 'Flour,' by Joanne Chang

Read the recipe ALL the way through . . . and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand. Because sometimes, there are no substitutions!

Cook the Book: 'Canal House Cooking Volume No. 6'

I'm pretty sure my first truly memorable experience was my first visit - now a weekly even - to the Union Square Greenmarket. I bought some staples - lettuce, cucumbers, some pasta - but happened to stop at Eckerton's stand and saw the most gorgeous, tiny cherry tomatoes. They offered me a sample, and the flavor was so incredible! I don't think I'd ever tasted a tomato with that much sweetness. I've been buying multiple pints per week for a few years now, and it's just not summer until Eckerton's tomatoes come in. (And since my husband is allergic to them, more for me! :))

Introducing David Lebovitz Week

I heart David. Thanks, SE - this is the best gift of summer!

Sixth and Rye, Spike Mendelsohn's Kosher Deli Truck in D.C.

The million-dollar question is, is it REAL kosher, or "ingredient kosher"? And if it is indeed truly kosher - declared by a mashgiach - I wonder what made him go that route? Interesting! I'll be curious to try it next time I'm in DC!

How Long Would You Stand In Line for Coffee?

My daily Starbucks run (in the Woolworth building, at work) takes about five minutes, which is all that Starbucks is now worth. But I've waited 10-15 minutes at various Joe's locations - always worth it - and in November, at least twice waited over half an hour (just to ORDER) at Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco - don't ask about the additional ten-fifteen minute wait time for the coffee. but that was really worth it - best coffee I've ever had.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Russ & Daughters Brunch Package

Oh, definitely shakshuka! That and coffee from Joe the Art of Coffee. Not necessarily in that order.

Cook the Book: 'Around My French Table'

Florence, Italy - a tiny place called La Carabaccia (sp?). We got there about a half hour before our reservation, because of rain - not realizing, of course, that this was not NYC and Europeans don't even open their restaurants before 8pm. We were greeted by the host, who told us to come in and dry off, offered us wine and bread and asked us to wait until the staff meal was over. And when it was, we not only had a fantastic meal, but were given a couple of extra courses (including a fabulous artichoke appetizer) as a show of THEIR appreciation for OUR patience. I couldn't believe it - and even though I have not been there in years, I still dream about that incredible meal.

Cook the Book: 'Fresh from the Market'

Butternut squash and roasted shallot soup, and just about anything with cauliflower! Plus i'd love to try and squash and brussels sprouts en papillote from Dorie GReenspan's new cookbook, maybe for Thanksgiving.

Apple Nut Cake

This cake is beyond delicious. It is well worth grabbing a box of cake meal to make it. But check his book for the non-Passover apple cake, which is seirously to die for.

Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 12, Gastro-nauts

J. Kenji - technically I agree with you re: the "arbitrary" issue. I think the real problem is, at least this season, they're showing more hijinks at the cast house and less work in the kitchen/less discussion of the food, so the audience doesn't have as much of a window into the decisions as in previous seasons. I don't really think it is rigged - which, you're right, plenty of people do. I'm just not that cynical - but so close to the final four, I would have appreciated one of their extended episodes, to get more insight into their decisions.

Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 12, Gastro-nauts

I think Kevin should have gone, too - that he stayed only shows how arbitrary this competition has become. He's been fair to mediocre all season - except for the halibut that wowed Frank Bruni (and that was probably because everything else served was terrible) he's never really come up with a stellar dish.

ANd while Ed's dish last night sounded amazing and seemed well-executed (I happen to love MOroccan food, so there you go) I find it interesting that Tiffany was sent home over a guy whose restaurant just got NO STARS from the New York Times. THough it was nice to see how sad he was that Tiffany got sent home.

Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 9, Restaurant Wars

I also thought Amanda should have gone home, because she failed to do one thing well, while Kenny was complimented on maintaining order as exec chef and failed at his dishes, so technically - by the TC rules - he's one up on Amanda.

However, I think some of the decisions this season seeem awfully random primarily because we're getting to see much less of the judges discussions with the teams AND with each other, because of too many commercials. So when Colicchio explains it all in his Bravo blog, it falls kind of flat to me because we should get to see more of the debate so that we, the audience, can understand the decision.

And can we all start a campaign for Frank Bruni as a permanent Top Chef judge?? he was fantastic (for the two seconds they let him speak on camera. Honestly, why have him on if you're going to keep cutting to Gail Simmons???)

Caffeinated Complaint: Why Is Restaurant Coffee So Bad?

The Modern in NYC was the absolute best cup of restaurant coffee ever, hands down. I typically won't order coffee with dessert anywhere, because it's usually a huge disappointment. It's nice to hear that Danny Meyer maintains consistency through his little empire on this front - I probably shouldn't be surprised about that!

Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 8

Alex is a jerk. Personally, I can't wait for next week's episode - Frank Bruni should make for a killer judge. They should have made HIM a permanent judge this season!

What's Your Favorite Falafel in New York?

I love Alfanoose in the financial distrinct (on Maiden Lane, I think.) I also LOVE Olympic Pita's falafel, and Gazala Place is not bad either. Just in case your search includes the outer boroughs, I would also recommend a place called David's in Brooklyn (I think it is on King's Highway. Amazing.)

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (Ep. 5): 'I'm Not Trying to Make Hippie Food!'

I agree re: the rice/soy/etc but a so-called healthy set of milk choices doesn't have to include anything with sugar or food coloring - it could simply be skim, 1 or 2%, and whole. Period. (And in fact, legally, that satisfies the regulation of offering a choice - at least, I think it does.)

Did anyone else find it interesting that when Jamie was at the high school, asking the kids why they chose his healthy meal over the usual burger/fries/pizza, one girl told him she liked the taste, but she also liked having a different choice, because they usually had the same lunches every day. I wish he had made more of an issue of that comment, because it is a huge part of the problem as well.

Overall, while I've never been a fan of Jamie's . . . antics, for lack of a better word, I've seen what he's done in England and applaud him for it. I think the Brit TV shows he's done - Jamie's Kitchen, School Dinners - show him in a much more professional light than this US program (probably because ABC couldn't get anyone to watch a more serious reality show), and I really worry that the conventions of reality TV might distort his all too serious message.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (Ep. 4): 'Jamie Vs. Radio Rod'

I think it's because of the American TV audience, to be honest. I liked the fist two or three episodes but hated this one because it was so staged (or seemed that way) that I cringed through it. I absolutely support Jamie's message and his efforts - many people in this country talk about doing things like this, i.e. MIchael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Alice Waters, and so on - but not enough people get up and do thigns.

However, strictly re: the TV show - if you've seen any of Jamie's British series on this subject, like the wonderful JAMIE'S KITCHEN or JAMIE'S SCHOOL DINNERS, you'll see things very differently. He's much, much, tougher - even with the kids - less cartoonish, much more straightforward in his tone and actions. I'm not sure why that sort of straightforward reality show can't be done here, though I suspect after years of Extreme Home Makeovers and REal Housewives of _______, the ability of the average American TV viewer to tolerate "real" reality TV is nil. (And yes, I am an American, not a European acting as a ringer here.) Honestly, I think Jamie's message runs the risk of being diluted by the antics of the show/editing if they're not careful.

What Are Your Favorite Matzo Recipes for Passover?

Salpico, I'm with you - except I use Breakstone's sweet whipped butter and sprinkle it with kosher or sea salt (for some reason, the salt quotient of B's salted butter doesn't suit me.) But that is my absolute favorite thing on Passover - with Aviv matzah, of course.

Just FYI, peanut butter is not kosher for Passover because peanuts are a legume. But this year for the first time I've seen kosher for passover almond butter. I'd buy a jar to get me through the week (since i lurve PB) but I'm terrified that this Ha'olam brand will taste nasty. And it's so expensive!

'Cake Bible' Author Rose Levy Beranbaum Charged $25 'Forkage' Fee at The Breslin

I think people are overlooking the fact that RLB - who is a highly regarded cookbook author and authority on baking in general - did not just saunter into The Breslin with a box of cake she intended on having for dessert. If that were the case, she'd have called ahead and gotten the OK from the chef (see her story re: Soltner and Boulud.) She was carrying cake leftover from an earlier shoot, and from the way she frames the story, just wanted to give her two friends a sample bite. I complete agree that one shouldn't bring outside food into a restaurant - whether it is Starbucks, where I sometimes see people bringing pizza! or Daniel - without the permission of the establishment, this really doesn't seem like what she was doing. In particular, handing her business card to the waiter and asking him to tell the pastry chef - who would have likely recognized her name instantly - is a very professional way to handle things.

I've heard a LOT of bad things about service at the Breslin since they opened, and even if RLB was in the wrong, the waiter sounds as if he was just plain rude and obnoxious. ANd if it is indeed the restaurant's policy to change a $25 dollar fee for this kind of thing, the waiter had a responsibility to inform the party of this charge and give them the option of making a fully informed decision. I would NEVER not leave a tip in any situation because I think it's bad form, but in this case, this guy deserved exactly what he got. As for RLB, the only thing I'd say is that while I don't think she really did anything wrong, jsut to avoid this kind of thing in the future it might work better if she said something as soon as she and her party are seated, just to be safe.

Flour vs. Matzah Cake Meal?

I will, and thank you so much for this. I hope it work!

Why Peanut Butter and Crackers Are a Beautiful Thing

Oh, wow - this is like my idea of heaven. Personally, I love peanut butter on nearly any kind of crackers, though lately I think salted multigrain crackers seem to be the perfect partner for the PB. But nearly any cracker will do! Now I'm hungry . . .

Quinoa for Passover

Yes - Michael Chiarello has one (I think it is in Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking) - it uses whole citrus fruits, including the rind, shallots and olive oil. Basically, you cut up the whole fruits and shallots, throw the chunks into a food processor and grind, then strain into a bowl and blend in the oil and salt. This way, you not only get the juices but the oils from the zest. It's fabulous on bitter greens like arugula and radicchio, and I've also used it over fish. (And yes - corn, beans of any kind, even - sob - peanuts - are a no-no on Passover. Sadly.)

Passover 5770 (2010) ~ Seders and other menus

I also love Passover (no, really!) It's the only holiday of the year that I go out of my way to "really" observe, and so I try to do it by the book. :) Actually, I don't have a recipe for this, but I LOVE this dish my grandmother and great-aunt used to make - spiced ground beef encased in a matxah meal batter and fried. Bad for the arteries, great for the soul. I'll see if I can find some recipe somewhere, because while it is a pain to make, it's absolutely delicious.


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