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About ol_ironstomach

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    Wunderpus photogenicus
  • Birthday January 27

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    western 'burbs, MD

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  1. dr.com Picnics - It Has Been a Long Time

    Cookbook swap? Ventworm-themed food and apparel? Orphaned wine bottle extravaganza? Massive tasting of <insert food category here>? DanielK hauling paper utensils back and forth? Let’s do the thing!
  2. Five

    ...jade meaning nephrite a precious material in neolithic times due to its remarkable strength and toughness attributable to an internal fibrous microstructure but nephrite also was used to form axes and adzes and other edged tools and weapons and symbols of authority into the iron age because it possessed a hardness exceeding that of any metal tools meaning that it could not be cut by them and could only be shaped by laboriously abrading it using harder stones and its natural riverine abundance led early human settlers and later the new zealand geographic board to officially name that country's south island "te waipounamu" which means "the waters of pounamu" using the māori name for jade and similar greenstone materials which in recent decades have found a significant export market as jewelry leading to the establishment of a jade carving industry centered on the town of hokitika where in a local lapidary workshop the vivacious and well traveled owner of a local bnb stopped by last month to give the master carver the gift of a few pieces of grey obsidian she had picked up while walking a forty day trek over the ancient camino de santiago via the route known as the camino francés which begins at st-jean-pied-de-port in france and crosses the pyrénées and then the breadth of spain to terminate at santiago de compostela thus continuing a lineage of countless pilgrims who in medieval times would have paid the innkeepers along their journey with coins from a bourse du pèlerin which shares its roots with the modern word 'purse' and some of which would have been made from leather hardened in water using the cuir-bouilli technique and molded into the shape of a great scallop or coquille saint-jacques named for saint jacques whose name in spanish is santiago and to this day his eponymous shell is used as a symbol of pilgrimage in his footsteps although in the fourteenth century the saint's name may or may not also have lent itself to the then-new sleeved garment worn by those pilgrims and known as a jacque or in the diminutive as a jaquette from which we derive the word jacket which in the 1898 etymological dictionary by kluge and lutz is the term that immediately precedes...
  3. Australia and New Zealand

    A selection of food impressions from our trip, not necessarily in chronological order. During our stay, NZ$1 ~= US$0.70. And my apologies in advance to any New Zealanders for the gross generalizations I'm about to make. The fact that their monetary unit is also called the dollar leads many Americans to experience a misleading amount of price shell-shock. Remember that you have to apply an exchange rate, and that all taxes are included, and generally so is service (i.e. your server makes a living wage). Most of the card payment terminals don't even offer you a tipping option. My general observation was that prices at the market for in-season produce and meats were very reasonable if not downright inexpensive; prepared and packaged foods and beverages were quite expensive, especially individual bottles of soda; ordinary meals were slightly expensive (on par with major metro area prices in the US); fine dining was often a bargain. At most places, portions are generally quite large...what much of the world might consider American-sized. A lot more food is cooked to order than I would have expected. Be prepared to wait a while. Entrées are such in the French sense, and meant to be followed by your mains. But don't be surprised if you don't have much room left. Bacon. As you might expect, the default is a rasher of bacon, British-style. Streaky bacon is also available. But bacon is generally just barely cooked, and limp...rashers are little more than warmed through, like a slice of ham. You'll probably want to ask for your bacon "crispy" at a minimum. If you actually want crispy bacon, consider asking it to be extra crispy. Many other foods hail from other corners of the former British Empire but have gone off on their own evolutionary path. Fish and chips are everywhere, but the batter is tempura-influenced, and of course the fish are southern hemisphere substitutes. Popular ones include several soft-skinned shark species. Sausage rolls use a finely minced meat with what seems like quite a bit of filler, and little sage. On the other hand, small meat or fish pies are ubiquitous, and usually good (and held in extremely hot warming displays). There is a lot more biltong than jerky around. Condiments tend to be sweet, especially ketchup. Restaurant websites are often unusable. Although most places have one, nobody seems to know what to do with the Web. Consequently, online menus are often not updated, and hours of operation are completely unreliable. YMMV. Oysters. Ummm...more about this later. North Island (north to south) Mangonui Everyone said to stop at the Mangonui Fish Shop (adjacent to the town pier) for fish and chips. They were right. One of the two best fish and chips shops of our trip. Lemonfish was less than NZ$7 per piece; add NZ$3.50 for a scoop of chips. Ahipara North Drift Cafe, owned by an expat Texan, turns out a great breakfast in this small beach town, including some outstanding Eggs Benedicts (though on toast, not on muffins), and good homemade granola. Kerikeri Citrus-growing country. Worth a stop at nearly any stand, but look for the signboards by estate driveways for citrus grown on the property. The funny thing is that most of the Asian citrus varieties all look like oranges: grapefruit the size of oranges, lemons as round as small oranges, limes nearly as pale as the lemons. But the intensity of flavor will spoil you for nearly anything grown in Florida or California; even the navel varieties are richly orangey. They don't seem to have giant processing plants all over the place like in Florida, so the double-edged sword is that it's only available in-season, but then supply so far outstrips demand that it's absurdly inexpensive. In October (early spring in NZ), we paid NZ$7 for a large bag of excellent tangelos; everywhere people were giving away grapefruit. Also picked up some ridiculously good Hass-type avocadoes at one of the orchard markets whose staff seemed to be entirely Thai. The generically named Food At Wharepuke turns out good Thai fusion dishes in a gorgeous wooded setting. Service is rather leisurely, though. Paihia Decent but not stellar seafood at Alfresco's Restaurant and Bar. Auckland The city is home to a series of night markets which combine a food court scene with the usual flea market vendors. We went to Thursday night market in Henderson (West Auckland) which is conducted in the parking structure beneath K-Mart. Lots of different ethnic foods to choose from, but I headed straight to one of the two vendors of Pasifika cuisine for some Tongan/Samoan specialties and my first taste of NZ lamb in its own country. Lu Sipi ($10) combined lamb, coconut cream, and shredded taro leaves, all braised together in a whole taro leaf purse wrapped in aluminum. Ulu (breadfruit steamed with coconut cream) completed this rich calorie bomb. Also in West Auckland, Criollo Chocolates makes excellent sweets and baked goods. Both pastry chefs have been successful in international pastry team competitions; a link to their bios is here. Paeroa We didn't actually eat here, but it was on our route so we posed for a selfie with the giant Lemon And Paeroa bottle in town. L&P is NZ's de facto national soft drink, and sort of occupies the niche that Irn-Bru does for Scotland. We are new fans. Hamilton Mavis Made To Order is the café branch of a farmer's market-driven local restaurant group. After overindulging on meat pies for several days, it was just what the doctor ordered. Plenty of fresh green things, made well, conveniently located in Hamilton's central business district. My only quibble might be that their risotto balls would be even better if they undercooked the rice a smidge before frying. If you wander across downtown to the Riff Raff Statue, you can get a passable NYC-style slice at Sal's Authentic New York Pizza (locations across NZ). The kids staffing the counter might not know much about pizza and the red pepper flakes might be way too weak, but it passes the fold test and the flavor is right. They import all of the pizza ingredients from the US, except for the water...go figure. Rotorua Just north, in the town of Ngongotaha, we probably set a personal record for least $ per pound of food on this trip at Ngongotaha Ocean Seafoods, a local fry-basket joint whose sandwich board proclaimed "fresh fat oysters!" And so they were, but the NZ$15 fisherman's basket came with a veritable mountain of chips, not to mention a generous quantity of residual grease. It hit the spot, though. In Rotorua proper, there's a night market held on Thursdays, which spans not quite two blocks of downtown. We chose the burger stand for a pretty good venison burger (FWIW, the recently introduced venison burger at Arby's owes its existence to the growing red deer ranching industry of NZ's South Island), in part because the line for the all-kinds-of-steamed-dumplings stand was long. Noteworthy although we didn't stay for any: the local Māori also use geothermal features to cook in, so there are a number of hangi available in the area which are prepared in natural ovens instead of in fire pits. Napier In the Art Deco Capital of the Southern Hemisphere, we found Bistronomy to be so good that we ended up eating there three times: for lunch, then for afternoon happy hour and dinner the next day. The food is modern, inventive, and often surprising, including a brilliant expression of vanilla roasted kumara (the traditional Polynesian sweet potato) with sweet and sour tamarillo, walnuts, and goat cheese. I couldn't make sense of whatever concept they might have been reaching for with some of the more precious presentations (the long cantilevered stainless utensil jutting out of driftwood, holding my black pudding ball comes to mind) but the six-course prix fixe (NZ$75, +NZ$45 for matched wines) was an absolute bargain. There was also a nine course option (NZ$100). Relaxed dress. We also took in a superb meal at Pacifica which, despite its self-description as "relaxed fine dining", felt very much like a place worth dressing up for. The 5-course degustation menus are available with a choice of 'seafood' or 'mixed', at the ridiculous bargain price of NZ$50 (NZ$100 with wine pairings). These are several-perfect-bite portions, so the total experience left us just sated. I thought the preliminary fry bread was a bit of a misstep since it was a heavy way to commence the meal and guaranteed to leave you with messy fingers, but that quickly gave way to course after course of really good work. The menu is constantly changing, but my particular standout courses would have to include the "fresh pasta, chicken puree, parmesan foam", and "truffle sweetbreads, pork brawn, cauliflower & chicken liver pate". But really, we loved it all. Reservations required. Wellington NZ's capital and second most populous city has a bustling restaurant scene, particularly in the central Te Aro neighborhood. The food at Ortega Fish Shack was excellent, with intense flavors and rather formal place settings in an otherwise pub atmosphere, but even more impressive was their wine list, which was very accessibly laid out and apparently very sensibly chosen. We had tasted a number of mediocre yet crowd pleasing white wines elsewhere in NZ by this point, but the somm brought out a surprisingly good match for gubeen's shellfish in a 2016 Neudorf "Rosie's Block" Chardonnay (Nelson, South Island; number 58 under the "voluptuous whites" section of their current list), a more minerally Chablis-esque expression despite the wine list description of its toasty citrus notes. The 2015 Quartz Reef GV was a similarly successful pairing with her main of Blue Moki with white bean puree, asparagus, ricotta, rosemary & orange dressing. We booked two seats for the chef's bar (kitchen table) tasting menu (5 courses, NZ$85, NZ$135 with wine pairings) at Field & Green, which describes itself as "European soul food". On a Wednesday night, it was a treat to have chef/co-owner Laura Greenfield (formerly of London, and the long time head chef at Sotheby's Cafe) and her sous largely to ourselves in the kitchen while the rest of the patrons took dinner in the dining room. Another very good meal; my standout was the salad of pork belly, pickled rhubarb & fennel, green peppercorn vinaigrette. But absolutely, absolutely remember to save room for the ice cream and sorbet list, which had 13 housemade flavors while we were there. Our tasting menu included four scoops each, so we managed to cover a pretty good range.
  4. Australia and New Zealand

    Yeah, unfortunately, it wasn't a matter of freezing or getting kicked out or anything like that...the editor just plain truncated everything past the first paragraph. That was also the same amount that draft recovery was able to restore. Anyhow...
  5. Australia and New Zealand

    We're back, after a five week adventure ranging over both of New Zealand's main islands. But the #$@! Invision post editor demolished my first post about NZ cookbooks when I was about 90% done with nicely formatting it with links and pictures, and then barfed on undoing whatever it thought I had asked it to, so it'll be a while before I have anything to say again. Buggy POS. Short version: lucky month to catch recently-released cookbooks. The _New Zealand Restaurant Cookbook_, edited by Delaney Mes, is a mid-sized coffee book title that visits with 50 of NZ's best-loved restaurants. Softbound, with interviews and recipes. Released in October; not available in the US. https://www.penguin.co.nz/books/new-zealand-restaurant-cookbook-9780143770756 Al Brown's _Eat Up New Zealand_ is a wonderful collection of recipes featuring the chef's take on both traditional and modern NZ dishes, interspersed with short essays. Hardbound. Released in September; will be available in the US in May. https://www.amazon.com/Eat-Up-New-Zealand-Recipes/dp/1877505773
  6. Australia and New Zealand

    Any updated reccs, particularly on New Zealand?
  7. Whiskey

    Just felt a need to bump this legitimate question about the desirability of Pappy 20 in 2006. Time flies. :-)
  8. FWIW, Sierra Trading Post currently lists a 5.5 qt Fontignac cocotte on closeout for $99 in red or blue. Unclear what the lid knob material is, but the specs say oven safe to 485 F. And to clarify earlier posts, these are made in France. I should say that the smaller one I purchased last year has been excellent so far, and I just came back from glamping with it for 1 1/2 weeks as my primary pot. The enameling may not be as glossy on the exterior as Staub's, but for performance and durability on the interior it has been first rate. https://www.sierratradingpost.com/fontignac-round-cocotte-with-lid-55-qt~p~223gp/
  9. Austin, TX

    Word out of Austin this morning is that Hurricane Harvey's outer band winds blew embers out of Franklin Barbecue's pits and started a heavy fire overnight. Pits damaged, but restaurant saved; they are expected to recover. http://kxan.com/2017/08/26/franklin-barbecue-is-on-fire/
  10. I can't get overly excited about the contents, but THE BOTTLE, man... Ustianochka vodka is an inexpensive and relatively new Russian import (to Pennsylvania) that sports a particularly nifty bottle closure. The cap assembly has an internal helicoid that releases a pop-up cap and raises a pouring spout when untwisted. Twist the cap back down to retract the spout, and snap the cap back into place. Apparently it's unique to this brand at the moment, but I'd be surprised if somebody else doesn't pick up on the design for rail liquors. http://ustianochka.com/unique-cap/
  11. Orthodox Church Festivals :-)

    Ahem 1 2 (IIRC their fall festival is usually in early October) Also, the little St. George Coptic Orthodox church tucked away in residential Cabin John has their annual Egyptian festival coming up on the weekend of Sept 9-10, 2017.
  12. I can understand how *I* completely missed the news of Le DeSales opening in DC a scant three months ago, but...how did we as a group manage but one description and no discussion of a two-Michelin-starred chef coming to DC from Le Cirque ex-Hélène Darroze at the Connaught? The latter gets grief for not having much changed its menu lately, but Francois earned them two stars, and my meal there in January was excellent. Were we all distracted by the excitements of Sfoglina and Mirabelle? I know that I was. And now he's already gone. Dang it. :/
  13. Congratulations to the entire team at The Columbia Room, winner of the 2017 Spirited Awards "Best American Cocktail Bar", announced tonight at Tales of the Cocktail.
  14. Solar Eclipse, August 21 2017

    I decided to seek out some magnification for this event, and picked up a pair of Lunt Sunoculars earlier this year. These are a fairly normal set of ruggedized 8x32 roof prism binocs, but with a glass solar filter installed internally, from a company that specializes in solar telescopes and observation instruments. If you do choose to splurge on what is, after all, a single-purpose piece of equipment, (or if you're looking to add a filter to your existing fancy optics, or if you're going whole-hog and taking the plunge on hydrogen alpha equipment) then I would encourage you NOT to buy these things online, but instead to drive out to Laurel and patronize the fine folks of Company 7. A longtime fixture among local astronomers, Company 7 is one of the last of a vanishing breed of specialty shops that actually possess genuine expertise *and routinely use it with conviction*.