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"Michelin Man"


Al Dente
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The plan is to hit the grill for lunch today.

Perhaps you could read "Young and Hungry" while waiting in line. It's all about the "Old and Ornery". :P

Read all about the Michelin Man himself! You gotta get out and grab a copy. Trust me :wub:

Edited by Al Dente
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Perhaps you could read "Young and Hungry" while waiting in line. It's all about the "Old and Ornery". :P

Read all about the Michelin Man himself! You gotta get out and grab a copy. Trust me :wub:

Is there a link to this? I went on Citypaper and couldn't find the article.

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JoeH?  This should be good.

Why is he not a member here?  So he can defend himself....

Read the article. It is illustrative. As someone who followed along with the drama from afar it was good to get background on the behind-the-boards action.

Why do I feel like the Mother of All Letters to the Editor is nigh? :P

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Man oh man am I looking forward to reading this article. JoeH's opinions may differ from some, and he may be cranky at times, but his experience and passion are amazing and give me tremendous respect for the man. Couple that with Kliman's writing, I'm sure the article is a great read...

goddamned suburban office park means I won't get to read this until tonight!

K

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I think it’s great that Joe H. is now a member of dr. His posts are always thoughtful and are often entertaining. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he writes (sorry, but I’ll never think DC is as beautiful as Paris, for Gawd’s sake) but who the hell cares? I met Joe a few years ago at a CH dinner he organized at Laboratorio and I appreciated the way he clearly enjoyed bringing people together from far and wide to experience what he will happily tell you is one of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S., and possibly on Planet Earth. Anyone who loves food and loves sharing it as much as he does just can’t be all bad. He’s bright, articulate, well traveled and always ready to contribute his thoughts and opinions about food. Isn’t that what this type of forum is really all about? I’m looking forward to his first dr post.

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Just got to read the article (thanks Mel!) and I find the idea of giving Mr. Heflin his own forum to relate experiences in very, very interesting... also, I really hope topics that seem to spur ad hominem attacks (Ray's and the Alabardero paella incident come to mind) don't follow the EG pattern.

Welcome JoeH to the board, I look forward to reading your writing again.

K

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I do hope that Joe jumps in here. I know and like Joe, I think that most people misunderstand his passion, and how he views food. I have not always agreed with his reviews, or views, but I respect that he has taken the time to share his opinion in a far more dignified manner than most posters on the other boards.

I read the article and remember some of the events described, the idea that he “schmoozes” any more than other people on this or other boards is disingenuous, he just writes and talks about it more. Nor do I see anything wrong with it, I have many friends who do it, and I enjoy the benefits of their hard obsequious work. :wub:

The one quibble I would make with the article is that it makes it seems that Joe only cares about those restaurants that have or should have Michelin stars. Granted he does profess a love for them, but I have had countless conversations with him about BBQ joints and Pizza shops, none of which are likely to be bestowed with any honors by the tire company.

Now Joe, does this get me another invite for some of your great risotto? :P

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Just got to read the article (thanks Mel!) and I find the idea of giving Mr. Heflin his own forum to relate experiences in very, very interesting... also, I really hope topics that seem to spur ad hominem attacks (Ray's and the Alabardero paella incident come to mind) don't follow the EG pattern.

Welcome JoeH to the board, I look forward to reading your writing again.

K

You people who claimed to have read it...how about sharin' some love? No fair to comment on something others can't read - yet. Stop making me feel like I'm not pretty enough.

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My main quibble is that Kliman made it seem that only the dr group got the discount when it was sent out on the Galileo mailing list. So anybody on the mailing list could get the same discount.

I also disagree with Joe's view that we could not find any dish less than perfect just because we got a deal. That would be dishonest. Has anyone heard any protest from the folks at Galileo about what was posted?

I know Joe only electronically and have experienced parts of his electronic personality that I like a lot and parts that I dislike intensely. I share some of his views and disagree vehemently with others.

Let's just all remember that every community is built on social interaction. Social interaction, even electronically, requires adherence of ALL to a set of rules and norms of behavior to function properly.

I welcome Joe's wealth of knowledge and hope he starts posting.

Everybody just needs to remember that, in the words of John Donne --

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manner of thine own

Or of thine friend's were.

Each man's death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

Edited by JPW
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I have to say I am amazed at this article. Nothing to do with Joe, but that a major paper would publish what really goes on here (CH, EG and DR) in such detail. I guess its amazing to me that anyone cares about our little world here.

In some ways it makes all of us look a bit petty.

If anyone wants a copy, email me. Someone was nice enough to share it with me so I will gladly pass it on.

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My main quibble is that Kliman made it seem that only the dr group got the discount when it was sent out on the Galileo mailing list. So anybody on the mailing list could get the same discount.

I also disagree with Joe's view that we could not find any dish less than perfect just because we got a deal. That would be dishonest. Has anyone heard any protest from the folks at Galileo about what was posted?

I know Joe only electronically and have experienced parts of his electronic personality that I like a lot and parts that I dislike intensely. I share some of his views and disagree vehemently with others.

Let's just all remember that every community is built on social interaction. Social interaction, even electronically, requires adherence of ALL to a set of rules and norms of behavior to function properly.

I welcome Joe's wealth of knowledge and hope he starts posting.

Everybody just needs to remember that, in the words of John Dunne --

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manner of thine own

Or of thine friend's were.

Each man's death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

Well put, Thank You.

I've always kind of had a thing (in a good way) for JoeH - don't tell Mr. B! and I look forward to his input and hope that those that have had a thing (in a bad way) for JoeH practice holding their tongues.

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It's funny - I work in Politics with a capital P.

Yet I'm constantly amazed and often disgusted at how much politcs with a (very small) p are involved in internet food boards.

Anyone who is offended by my remark probably should be.

You should see the back and forth on the DC United chat board about whether or not the two main DCU supporter groups (Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava, who's sections are next to each other) should have people leading chants so that the two groups are coordinated in their drunken singing. Unfortunately even internet chat boards aren't immune to pissing matches.

As someone who has enjoyed all of Joe H's Blow Outs, welcome Joe!

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fetch

"In September, Don Rockwell, at that time eGullet’s moderator for the D.C. and DelMarVa forum, wrote a sneak preview of the hotly anticipated CityZen. Rockwell mentioned, offhandedly, that he was a “cheap fuck” for not valet-parking his car."

:P:wub:

Edited by Meaghan
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Here is Joe H's recipe for Risotto which was mentioned in the article. Remember...

DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING

Joe's use of superlatives is one thing (among others) that seems to raise people's hackles, but he's not saying you have to agree with him (in fact, he seems to relish the debate). I definitely appreciate his passion for food and respect his opinions (he seems to have an incredible wealth of dining experience to back them up), but it was that risotto that made me realize my tastes are different than his. I made it once a couple years ago and thought it was completely inedible. For roughly 2 cups of rice, you're adding 2 sticks of butter + about a pound and a half of cheese (not to mention 1/4 cup olive oil). I guess it's heaven for some...

Edited by cjsadler
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I had the pleasure of meeting Joe H a few years back when I worked with the Sea Catch.

I wasn't eager to meet him, as I found his writing to be bombastic, self-aggrandizing, and chock full of hyperbole and definitives instead of opinions.

I envisioned him to be a cranky curmudgeon so obsessed with food that he probably had the depth of a sheet of paper.

In fact, he was an exceedingly likable gentleman. Elegant, wordly, and a most entertaining raconteur. He wasn't a blowhard or braggard, but a very nice man, with an equally lovely wife, whose presence was, dare I say, fun.

I've read the sniping between some on the other boards and Joe, sometimes with a good degree of amusement and sometimes with a good deal of outrage. His writing is very forceful and strong, and he probably is too agressive when his opinions are challenged in cyber space.

But having met him once, and only once, I would be happy to sidle up to Joe H at a bar and spend of few hours drinking wine, talking food, and a whole lot of other stuff. And I bet most here would too.

Brian Reymann

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not much to add

I read the article and thought it was "fair and balanced". I know Joe, have participated in and enjoyed two of his "blowout" dinners, and enjoy his passion for food and dining out. That said, he needs to learn when a horse is dead.

I hope he starts to post on DR - I especially enjoy his posts from overseas although I'm not sure whether that falls within the DR paradigm.

my 2c

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I agree.  And provincial about those places we consider "ours."  I see the same loyal praise Joe H heaps on Laboratorio and Maestro heaped on others' favorites here and on eG.

Don't forget the intense defensiveness in response to any criticism of these places on all sides.

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My main quibble is that Kliman made it seem that only the dr group got the discount when it was sent out on the Galileo mailing list. So anybody on the mailing list could get the same discount.

That's the only thing there that would make me consider writing a letter to the editor. It was an open deal that we organized around, not a special event that was organized for us because we're DR.com. Especially with his comment about "the chef probably came in on her night off," it casts things in a light I don't quite feel is accurate.

Other than that, I'm just not sure how the general public will feel reading about the finer points of who posted on what food boards, where and when, and what they were wearing at the time.

Jael

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The following post is merged in from the thread entitled "My Last Chowhound Post." This is the actual post whose deletion by Chowhound caused me to leave that board:

There are several comments from posts on a thread below that bother me. Generally they represent a feeling from several that having moved here they are "stuck" or forced to accept residence in a city second to where they moved from. For them part of this residence is acceptance of a restaurant scene that is distant from where they came.

This is arrogance.

This is also a reflection of what I believe to be the complete lack of promotion of our city government and our local publications. Also the restaurant industry.

Even ourselves.

I am guilty of a great deal of hometown chauvinism since I was born and grew up here. I am in love with this city. With a passport with almost 100 entrees I have travelled to a lot of other places. Every single time that I have come home I have known that I have returned to where I want to live. Not a single city that I have visited anywhere has been more beautiful, powerful, wealthier, educated or more desirable. Nor has a single one offered more oportunity to myself or anyone else than this city.

When I see negative comments like this I am going to stand up for what I know is right: I am indeed fortunate to have grown up here and to continue to live here. It is my decision that I remain, not a company's nor an economy's. My opportunity was here and I have taken advantage of it. I have resisted moving anywhere else.

When I contribute to the San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, New York and other boards I do not include negative observations or concerns as part of my posts. I don't go to these cities thinking that I will miss part of what I have found here. I know, as others below have noted, that there is very real local excellence that will eclipse what I have found here in some ways. I also know that the same is true for here, unique to us as their strengths are to them.

New York may have MORE better restaurants; so may Chicago, perhaps San Francisco. New Orleans is the most food obsessed city in America (although there is nothing there on par with our three or four best restaurants). D. C. is not obsessed with food. At least we are not SUPPOSE to be. Just as Tysons Corner has eight steak houses with another on its way, this is suppose to be a meat and potatoes city, much as it was in the '40's, '50's and '60's.

But something happened along the way. Chefs such as Roberto Donna moved here from Italy when he was very young, Jean Louis Palladin and Gerard Pangoud left Michelin two stars for here, Michel Richard left Los Angeles where he owned one of the city's best restaurants and grew his restaurant here into a BETTER restaurant, Fabio Trabocchi left one of the best restaurants in London to open a BETTER restaurant here, The Inn at Little Washington grew from obscurity to be America's first legitimate effort for a Michelin three star receiving the publicity in the '80's through the mid '90's that the French Laundry receives today, of course the chef de cuisine from the French Laundry has recently moved back home-D. C.-and opened CityZen, Cindy Wolf moved from Georgia Brown in D. C. and opened Charleston which today is one of America's best restaurants. All of these have staff that have grown and moved on to their own restaurants, many local. This benefits us, reinforces the local industry and most importantly raises the bar for when we go out.

Just as these chefs have grown on another level so have grown those who have moved here from their native countries and brought their own hometown flavor with them, growing it here until it is close to what they left. Perhaps a taco truck, a store front or cubicle but for many, eventually, an opportunity to influence our whole dining scene taking it to another level that we have never known. In their own way contributing just as much as the more popular chefs noted above.

I should also note that Phyllis Richman, a native born Washingtonian, grew her reputation here in our hometown paper with gifted prose based on experiences in our restaurants. She also, sharing pride and loyalty as I do, told the world about Washington's growth almost presiding over it. She never would have achieved her reputation had she not have had the material to write about. Many of those in the preceding paragraphs were among the many that provided her with this. She grew as they and we did.

These also remind us when we visit elsewhere that there is genuine excellence here on par with anywhere else. Perhaps we may not have as MANY good or great restaurants, but still, we have them. And today, with currently 5.9 million people living in the D. C. area and almost nine million counting the Baltimore metro area we are now THE THIRD LARGEST GREATER METROPOLITAN AREA IN AMERICA, behind only Southern California and New York. We are also now growing the fastest of anywhere in America for better or worse.

Our restaurant scene is also growing as fast as anyone. From the Eden Center to Riverdale to CityZen.

But we do not promote ourselves.

And someone needs to tell others what is happeneing here.

Only Patrick Lynch has won the national James Beard award. No one else. Every year for the five chefs nominated for the "best chef, Mid Atlantic" there are usually three or four from here. And, usually, the winner comes from here, rarely Philly, Richmond, Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

The national winner invariably comes from New York with San Francisco second. Occasionally Chicago, less occasionally elsewhere.

Unfortunately this last fact reinforces the restaurant industries in these cities. Chefs know that if they work there they will receive more exposure because of the city's local industry working and promoting itself. There is motivation to MOVE there from here once one is out of the blocks so to speak. And this can hurt us. Two years in a row Fabio did not win the Rising Star award. Some question if he would have won it if he were in New York. If this is true this can hurt us in the future.

But not if we protect and promote our image. At some point our city government and our hometown newspapers and magazines and even ourselves-yes, ourselves-will stand up and scream that we are equal to anyone.

Because we are.

I only hope that those who write and talk about us nationally, those who live here and those who move here, understand that for most of us-especially those born here as myself-love this city. It's about time that we stood up and told the world that our restaurant industry and its level of excellence is on par with anyone.

For many of us we are just as passionate, just as enthusiastic, just as obsessed with anyone in New Orleans, San Sebastian or Bologna. We just need to let others know that what we have is worthy of this passion.

Edited by Joe H
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That's the only thing there that would make me consider writing a letter to the editor. It was an open deal that we organized around, not a special event that was organized for us because we're DR.com. Especially with his comment about "the chef probably came in on her night off," it casts things in a light I don't quite feel is accurate.

No need. If Mr. Kliman hasn't already seen this thread, he will soon.

If he thinks the point is valid and worthy of a correction, he'll print one. If not, well...

Edited by JPW
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Joe's use of superlatives is one thing (among others) that seems to raise people's hackles, but he's not saying you have to agree with him (in fact, he seems to relish the debate).  I definitely appreciate his passion for food and respect his opinions (he seems to have an incredible wealth of dining experience to back them up), but it was that risotto that made me realize my tastes are different than his.  I made it once a couple years ago and thought it was completely inedible.  For roughly 2 cups of rice, you're adding 2 sticks of butter + about a pound and a half of cheese (not to mention 1/4 cup olive oil).  I guess it's heaven for some...

Not to mention there doesn't seem to be enough liquid. I always wind up using more than 3 1/2 cups of liquid for 2 cups of rice. My eyes bugged out at the amount of butter and cheese, as well. :P

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I only hope that those who write and talk about us nationally, those who live here and those who move here, understand that for most of us-especially those born here as myself-love this city. It's about time that we stood up and told the world that our restaurant industry and its level of excellence is on par with anyone.

Wow...what a great post, JoeH! You've put into words some of the things I've been thinking and feeling for a long time. We have so many great chefs in this town, so many people who love good food and good wine in this town, and it's high time we start recognizing that. I read a really good profile in the Georgetowner of Phyllis Richman a while back...she seems like a smart lady with good taste who had a lot of great things to say about our local treasures.

While we shouldn't "water down" our opinions or speak up when food, service, atmosphere, what have you are sub-par, we do need to do a better job in general of taking our place in the culinary scene...a place that has been EARNED by creative, capable chefs; delicious regional ingredients; beautiful locations and designs; hopefully IMPROVING service; and some great critics (like Richman) as well as some very good critics who are forging new ties with restaurateurs and the public (like Sietsema.) Let's celebrate and spread the word about our city!

Bon apetit!

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The recipe is correct. At least 20 or more people from Chowhound have eaten it at my house along with a number of chefs. (John, we have to remedy this!) For all of my emphasis on not changing anything in the recipe it seems that many people STILL insist on changing it. It is correct as it is. This is why I wrote that with such strict instructions: do not change anything. If you need more liquid then you have not timed it correctly. Other risottos require more, perhaps much more liquid. This does not. This is also one of the most fatteningly intense dishes that one can eat. My guess is that this recipe will serve as many as fifteen people since it is basically about 8 to 10 bites and that's it because of the richness. I'm sorry for the tone of the post but there were approximately 250 to 300 responses to this over several threads and at least 10 or more people CHANGED something in the recipe to suit it to their tastes before ever making it correctly to know what it SHOULD have tasted like. All I wanted was for people to taste it the way I make it; then change it.

Also, use violane nano which you can buy at Dean and DeLuca or the Italian Store in Vienna. Balducci's carries a generic brand of it. Carneroli gives a somewhat different texture. Use Mauri gorgonzola dolce which Balducci's and Wegmans sell. Whole Foods' and Dean and DeLuca's brands are not as intensely flavored.

The original recipe was from Roberto Donna's cookbook which I made following his exact instructions. He does not specify dolce in the recipe and he does not chop his toasted pistachios so they are chunky. But everything else is the same as his recipe. Today (and I have made it for him three times) Roberto says it was a missprint. He would never put so much cheese and butter in a dish!!!!!! If it was a misprint I am indebted to him for not correcting it!

Since I wrote this several years ago I have tasted a better risotto: Roberto's white Alba truffle risotto which at the last Lab blowout generated spontaneous applause from the 30 in the room. Roberto's speck and red bell pepper risotto is also outstanding as are several others he does. Fabio imports his arborio from Italy himself and has several outstanding risottos as well including a really interesting and unique grappa version. CityZen's foie gras risotto is another excellent dish.

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Welcome, Joe! :P

Rocks.

[Also, everyone please remember that this website is Chowhound-friendly and eGullet-friendly. Joe's posting has a home here because it's a legitimate piece of internet history (yeah, okay, we live in a very small world, but you get the picture.)]

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No need. If Mr. Kliman hasn't already seen this thread, he will soon.

If he thinks the point is valid and worthy of a correction, he'll print one. If not, well...

This is actually my fault - Todd had submitted a portion of his article to me for fact-checking, and I had found three things to correct (this was the third thing). Then I got busy with work, and when I finally got around to emailing him the next day, I could only remember two of the three things. Then I got busy again, and forgot to mention it to him altogether.

However, keep in mind that Galileo did extend a courtesy to people on this website: they allowed people here to have the same half-price privileges as the people on their mailing list. This offer was not available to the general public.

(By the way, I had dinner at Galileo last night. And I got the risotto, and I paid full-price.)

Cheers,

Rocks.

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However, keep in mind that Galileo did extend a courtesy to people on this website:  they allowed people here to have the same half-price privileges as the people on their mailing list.  This offer was not available to the general public.
In several regards I think that the donrockwell group at Galileo was afforded service not available to the general public. Most notably (and someone can correct me if I am wrong) was being able to order the three course fixed price dinner using individual courses off the Galileo tasting menu, rather than just ordering from the a la carte menu. Without an upcharge. In fact, at half price. That was much appreciated - as was our seating in the Lab despite not having the "real Lab" dinner. Edited by crackers
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I'm a friend of JoeH, having met him countless times through CH and been at his home occasionally (once for the risotto...). I even had lunch with him today, where he read the article and was pleased that it came out fair and balanced (how I hate that phrase).

I also find that I don't agree with all (or sometimes much) of what Joe has to say about dining, and of course he can be bombastic etc (so can I), but he definitely has a passion for food, and for the DC area, and for all the things we should be passionate about if we are members of this and similar fora. I think it's a shame that CH banned him, and find that since he left that "other board" has become rather boring.

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I have not seen this article. If anyone can post a link it would be appreciated.

I have met Joe at several of his blowout dinners. I would like to say Thank You to Joe for putting together top of the line excellent events.

As far as the Chowhound board banning anyone, I find it a disgrace and a big loss for them.

I am not a regular poster, put enjoy keeping up to date on what is happening and I beleive there are many other readers that may not post often.

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They banned me because I objected to their deleting "my last Chowhound post" which is posted above as post #30. I felt that by deleting this particular post (actually an essay since I took a bit of time to write it) they were making their own comment about D. C. I also felt that by leaving Reece's posts (which are still there having never been deleted) they were making their own political comment. The deletion of this particular post, for me, left me no alternative but to leave. I wasn't alone in my response to Reece: there were another seven or eight people who responded to him. For all of my objections it was pointed out to me by them that it was their board and I had to subscribe by their rules. They found Reece's posts to be "chowworthy" and "my last Chowhound post" to be otherwise, perhaps even political from their own pespective. Regardless I had also been attacked about mentioning Maestro so many times and they never accepted my explanation that I (and John B.) had arranged a dinner for 58 people there along with numerous posts before and after it on the board. Or that whenever someone asked for an opinion about D. C.'s best restaurant Maestro was almost always one of the names given. Rather, that I had been "schmoozing" and had my own agenda with Maestro. (I have no involvement with the restaurant except as a fan of it.) Because I had so many friends on Chowhound-we had our own community-I did not want to leave. We had a group of 14 or so where once every month or two we would cook for each other, meet regularly for luncheons, occasional dinners-because of Chowhound I met a number of good friends who continue to today as do the get togethers. I am deeply indebted to them for allowing that. I am also thankful to the many people who personally wrote me asking what happened to me. And to one poem that I received that was sweet. And to several people who I corresponded with from time to time about weight (I once lost 142 pounds on a diet and have kept if off for over 25 years, in part by walking 25-30 miles a week. Even in snow.) I wish them continued success.

I should also note that Chowhound has dramatically changed over the four years I posted. On the D. C. board I posted essays about "Horror in Vancouver," a dinner I had at the bar of a restaurant in San Francisco and stories about experiences in other cities all of which, again, were on the D. C. board. During 2004 moderation on all boards became considerably more "present"; they had decided on a path (rules or the enforcement of) which many of us felt was totally different from their earlier path. Any post not specifically related to the area was deleted. "Chatty" and more personal posts were also deleted in many instances. On the Chicago board a similar community had formed to what we have in D. C. After a number of months most of them left and formed their own board similar to so many having left eG and moved here-but for different reasons. Most of this I (and others) accepted but I had one post in particular ("Bongos on the Beach"-Chinois and a "drum circle") which was the best essay I ever wrote on Chowhound. It was deleted from the General Board. What bothered me is that I accepted the deletion but felt that it could have at least been moved by a moderator to a different board. They felt otherwise. Because of this, with the exception of "my last Chowhound post" I never published another of what I would call an essay. (Whatever happened to Burke and Wells?)

I am certain that Chowhound's moderators will tell you that I was overbearing and imperious in my demands to have my last posts restored. They would be right. I would add that in the almost four years that I posted on Chowhound however, other than the moderators or Jim Leff, there were only a handful-if that-of disagreements between myself and others that were not merely differing opinions on food. Or how much cheese should be in a risotto.

Chowhound was about much, much more for me than just better restaurants or even "5,000 mile hamburgers." It was a community that I was part of and enjoyed. In my travel for my business I would have experiences that I could not wait to return home and write for the board about. I wanted to share with them. Whether cheese in a Bologna shop, a bratwurst in Nurnberg or curry on Wilmslow road in Manchester's "curry mile" or a visit to a 2,000 year old Roman furnace in Liguria. These were extraordinary experiences that I was fortunate to have. I wanted others to be there with me.

I thank all who were there to read them, that I could share them with. That was what made Chowhound for me. The several "blowouts" were a celebration of sorts of this, but they were secondary. It was the camaraderie and the friendship, the communal acceptance of strangers who shared perhaps only some common values, yet to each of us they were among the most important of all the values we could have shared. There was one photograph that Roe Panella took in particular of the first Lab dinner where thirty strangers met, twelve of whom were single, few of us knew another. In the photo which I am hoping she will post (I cannot download it) there are six glasses raised in a room with twelve or more smiles. The happiness of that moment captured a spirit for me that I will never forget. Maybe I was somewhere on the road by myself more often than not wishing I was home; but this night I (and Roberto) were able to bring something special to those I wanted to share so much more with.

Chowhound was a wonderful escape from my business. Were it not for the board that Jim Leff started and faithfully supported and promoted himself I would not have so many wonderful memories. But, again, it is his board and for all of the boards that started in the late '90's and disappeared his (and eGullet and Roadfood) are about all that really remain from then. However I might disagree with the "evolution of his formula" it is working and I respect him for this. It is also best that I've moved on-I'm really away from these boards altogether, I no longer have the interest to participate as I once did.

Edited by Joe H
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I wasn't eager to meet him, as I found his writing to be bombastic, self-aggrandizing, and chock full of hyperbole and definitives instead of opinions.

I envisioned him to be a cranky curmudgeon so obsessed with food that he probably had the depth of a sheet of paper.

In fact, he was an exceedingly likable gentleman. Elegant, wordly, and a most entertaining raconteur. He wasn't a blowhard or braggard, but a very nice man, with an equally lovely wife, whose presence was, dare I say, fun.

I've read the sniping between some on the other boards and Joe, sometimes with a good degree of amusement and sometimes with a good deal of outrage. His writing is very forceful and strong, and he probably is too agressive when his opinions are challenged in cyber space.

But having met him once, and only once, I would be happy to sidle up to Joe H at a bar and spend of few hours drinking wine, talking food, and a whole lot of other stuff. And I bet most here would too.

After reading Joe's posts on Chowhound for about a year, I also found him to be opinionated, bombastic and hyperbolic. That's just what made me eager to meet him. I had a food-obsessed, opinionated friend named Joe many years ago in Los Angeles, and I missed him. So, one day I e-mailed Joe Heflin and invited him to come to my house for dinner, "sight-unseen." That was the beginning of a great friendship, and we have shared many meals together--at each other's homes and in restaurants, with other Chowhounders who have become a rather freeform group of fellow food-enthusiasts.

As the post above accurately describes, Joe is different in person than he is when he is writing on-line and responding to challengers. He is personable, friendly and generous to a fault. He tells everyone who gets to know him, about growing up poor in Silver Spring, with a single mother who supported the family by working as a waitress. He is now quite a successful man, but knowing that about him helps to illuminate the roots of his sensitivity. For some people, strong opinions and emotions in others are difficult to tolerate. Me? I appreciate passion, even if I disagree with the content being expressed. I don't share all of Joe's likes and dislikes, and I am not blinded by friendship to his difficulties. There is no question, though, that he energises and enlivens the local food community. As I've told him many times, he is "the straw that stirs the drink." I hope Joe can find a home here, so that he can continue to write about his passions.

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