Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What I've learned

While a lot of recipes for Boeuf Bourguignon (and similar dishes) call for a thickening slurry towards the end of the cooking, using, e.g., arrowroot or corn starch, I much prefer making a roux in a separate sauce pot, then adding it with about an hour left of cooking (to cook out the starchy, floury taste).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chef at home, gay everywhere

It's Tuesday night, the night for all the cooking shows on the Discovery Home Channel, including Chef at Home. I don't really think the guy's gay, but eating all vegetarian meals once a week (as he says he and his family do) doesn't help.

In all honesty, this show has grown on me. I especially like the extreme close-ups of the stove being turned on. (Ugh.) The idea behind the show is "cooking without a recipe" and being inspired by your ingredients. That's fine if you're an experienced and accomplished chef, like the host. But for a lot of people , they first have to know what flavors go together and how to get flavor at all. So, the premise of the show doesn't get most people too far.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Signs you need to get out of New York more

"You can find it at any Chinese grocery store." --Alan Harding, on his show Cookin' in Brooklyn.

I forget what ingredient he was referring to, but come on, guy. This show is on Discovery Home; it has a national audience. I grew up in Indiana. I don't think there's a Chinese grocery story in the entire state. It's entirely possible that the only Chinese grocery stores in all of the midwest are in Chicago, if any. And I'm sure most of the country is the same way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I might as well pass this along

(Long Island, NY – Oct, 2005) The 3rd Annual Best Pizza on
Long Island
Festival and Bake-Off was held on Sat., October 1, 2005
at Adventureland
Family Fun Park.

Pizzeria finalists were the top contenders as
voted by Long Islanders
in the Best Pizza on Long Island Contest. Visitors to
the Web site were
able to vote for their favorite pizza by entering their
votes on the site at

The top
five pizzerias in each category were invited down for the final
taste test
and judging at the Long Island Pizza Festival & Bake-Off.


-Best Regular Pizza
Gigante's Pizza of

-Best Sicilian Pizza
Prince Umberto's of Franklin

-Best Marinara Pizza
Gigante's Pizza of

-Best Grandma Pizza
Spassos Pizzeria of

-Best Specialty Pizza
Prince Umberto's of Frankin

Each pizzeria generously donated their time, supplies and
expertise to
make this a fun-filled day for all who attended. Participating
pizzerias received
Official "Best Of Long Island" Awards and
gift certificates for
food supplies from Cremosa Foods.

Pizza of Wantagh won for Best Grandma Pizza. In addition, Spassos
was deemed
'Best Overall' in the Long Island Pizza Contest. Spassos was honored
by Joe
Carlucci, World Champion Pizza Acrobat to represent the World Pizza
in the World Pizza Championships to be held in Salsomaggiore, Italy
in April, 2006.
Spassos receives an all-expense paid trip to Italy
representing the United States and
sponsored by the World Pizza Champions,
Inc. For more information, go

**Prince Umberto's Pizza
of Franklin Square won in two categories, Best Sicilian
and Best Specialty
Pizza. As a special honor, Prince Umberto's will go on to compete
in the
American Pizza Championships. The winner from the American Pizza
competition goes on to compete representing the US in the
America's Plate, an International
Competition held at Pizza Marketing
Quarterly (PMQ) New York Pizza Show on Nov. 1-2, 2005.
For more information
about the New York Pizza Show, go to

The Best Pizza on Long Island
Contest & Festival is an annual event put together by to
promote local pizzerias and at the same time raise funds for a good
cause. A
portion of the proceeds goes to Long Island Cares and Island Harvest,
organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry on Long

Sponsors include Party Pizzazz, event planning services;
World Champion Pizza Acrobats;
Adventureland Family Fun Park; Cremosa Foods;
Marsal & Sons, Inc. Pizza Ovens and WBAB
Radio Station. This is an
officially sanction event by Pizza Marketing Quarterly Magazine (PMQ)
as a
preliminary competition to the American Pizza Championships. Supporters,
volunteers and friends are gratefully acknowledged for helping to
make this event possible.

Next year's contest will begin Spring
2006. Check the Web site at for updates
and more information
about the Best Pizza on Long Island Contest

For more information about the Pizza Contest & Festival,
please contact Ruthie,
our event coordinator at 631-423-3445.

I have no idea where any of these places are. But if you're ever in one of the areas, check 'em out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Review: La Plage

La Plage is located in Wading River, way up almost on the water (the water is on the other side of the street). The building is a one-story converted beach house in a neighborhood of other beach houses. Seriously. So, ambiance (including the window-unit air conditioners sticking out of the walls) is not exactly the place’s strength.

The restaurant does not offer any complimentary amuses, just rolls—that were warm and not terrible. Other than that, the meal started off well. I had seared foie gras over quail with a gastrique of some sort. (There were also the trendy micro-greens that, of course, add no flavor to the dish—at least not a dish of that sort.) It was quite good, though the piece of foie gras was a bit small (not the enormous portions the Mill River Inn, for instance, offers).

The wife had a salad and pumpkin risotto. The risotto was all right, nothing extraordinary. I could hardly taste the pumpkin. I did like that, instead of the traditional tossing in of grated Parmesan at the end, they decorated the perimeter of the plate with quarter-sized bits of Parmesan frico.

For an entrée I went back to the risotto, namely braised short ribs over a risotto featuring wild mushrooms and sweet peas. The short ribs were very nice—very tender and not even a bone in them, just two big hunks of meat. The risotto was good, but not great. It was a tad under-seasoned (and no salt or pepper on the table, of course) and did not have any particularly strong flavor, which I was hoping for. There were fresh chanterelles in the risotto, which was nice.

The wife had rigatoni with shrimp in a manchego sauce. If that sounds like something you’d find at the Olive Garden, you’re right. It was fine, but the flavor was simple and obvious, just like you’d find at the Olive Garden. Except at La Plage it cost something like $22 instead of $10.

For dessert I had pumpkin cheesecake. (Oddly enough, before going to the restaurant my wife worried they’d have pumpkin or butternut squash all over the place. I told her it’s way too early for that. Shows you what I know.) This was all right, but nothing to get excited about. My wife thought it was disgusting. She had a peanut butter tart that didn’t look anything like a tart. Her entrée tasted like something you’d get at the Olive Garden, her dessert like something from Applebee’s.

With tax and tip it came to $160, about average for the allegedly upper-crust restaurants on Long Island. The food was good but not great. It lacks the complexity and subtlety of flavor of the better restaurants. For some reason it is consistently in the top-10 in Zagat’s.

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

North Fork Wineries

Various North Fork wineries are featured in this month's Bon Appétit--the article is not available online. Louisa Hargrave gives an introduction and possibly wrote the short paragraphs describing the wineries. The article includes some very good recipes using the local wines.

Also in this month's issue, a shout out to a Charlottesville restaurant, C&O, for which a reader wanted a recipe for Steak Chinoise. Unfortunately, we never got around to it when the wife and I lived there. To my knowledge, this has been the only Cville restaurant ever referenced in Gourmet or Bon Appétit since I've been reading them (about 6 and 4 years, respectively), which is a shame. I had always hoped Rachel Ray would do a $40/day episode there, but it never happened.

Monday, October 03, 2005


I found in my email today from a message advertising the following:

Best Pizza on Long Island Festival & Bake-off
Saturday, October 1, 2005 at Adventureland,
Route 110 in Farmingdale from 12-6pm

The 3rd Annual Best Pizza on Long Island Contest is underway.
Pizzerias from Valley Stream to Montauk are competing to be
named "Best Pizza on Long Island!" Top pizzerias will be invited
down for the Pizza Festival /

The Pizza Festival will be held on October 1, 2005 at
Adventureland, Rte 110 in Farmingdale, NY from 12-6pm.

I guess I should check my email more often. I'll have to remember it for next year.

However, there is still, via Food Blog, the Turkey Testicle Festival. Mmmm... testi-clicious.