February 2007 Roundup

Is it just me or did February fly by? I know it’s the shortest month and all, but still….

Dispatch readers voted Katzinger’s as the best corned beef sandwich in town. While there are others that give you much better value and meat quality for the price (Barry’s in the North Market, for instance), I grudgingly have to agree that Katzy’s has the best tasting overall. Before I went to New York, I thought their prices were outrageous, but after seeing $25 Reubens on the menus in Manhattan, $11 doesn’t seem quite as bad anymore. They’re the closest I’ve seen in town that compare to New York style sandwiches. Of course, it’s not like we have a ton of delis in town, right? And it looks like that wrapped up their weekly surveys! They’ve posted a list of all of the winners, if you’re curious.

Lorence from Lorence’s Kitchen posted a very nice tribute to the first ever Wendy’s, which will be closing soon due to lack of business. While I can understand the reasoning behind the closing, it’s still kind of sad when you see a piece of history fall by the wayside.

Recipes from around the blogosphere that I’m adding to my recipe file to make in the future: Deliciously Trashy Mac and Cheese, Cheesecake Factory White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake, and Cream of Reuben Soup from the Columbus Dispatch, Black Bean Pie from 28 Cooks, Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee from a good american wife, Shiitake and Saffron Risotto from Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef, Nutella Cheesecake Brownies from alpineberry, Claudia’s German Sauerbraten from appetitive behavior, Rosie’s Its Too Damn Cold Outside Chili from Bitchin’ in the Kitchen with Rosie, Cauliflower and Poblano Chile “Jackpot” Gratin from Blog Appetit, Frangipane Apple Pies from Cafe of the East, Apple Torte and Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Muffins from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, Sesame Seed Balls from Dessert First, Italian Cheese Bread from Dine and Dish, Show Cooker Onion Soup from A Veggie Venture, Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup from everybody like sandwiches, Maple-Glazed Bacon on Gorgonzola Polenta Squares from Fancy Toast, Crab with Brie, Parmesan and Artichokes from Ideas in Food, Beef in Red Wine and Potato, Cheddar and Chive Soup from Kuchenlatein, Brown Sugar Bundt Cake from La Mia Cucina, Baked Hot Chocolate from Lovescool, Potato Salad from M3rNi3, Pancetta-Ricotta Crostini from My husband cooks, the most mouth watering burger I’ve ever seen from Off the Broiler, Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts from Orangette, Microwave Chocolate Pudding from thepassionatecook, Brie-stuffed French Toast with Maple Syrup and Sliced Apple from tomsaaristo’s Xanga, and CannelĂ© Colossus from The Traveler’s Lunchbox.

In informative posts, learn all about chocolate in the Columbus Dispatch, we are instructed on how to cook Dungeness crab from Daily Unadventures in Cooking, and chili basics from Kitchen Chick.

There was an interesting, yet controversial post over at An Exploration of Portland Food and Drink about fine dining – and the annoying things one encounters at fine dining establishments that makes the evening uncomfortable for some, such as the “thousand yard stare” when you walk in, decrumbing, etc. Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m not one for fine dining because I loathe the pomp and circumstance that goes along with gourmet eating. Give me casual grub any day – for me, it’s more about the preparation than the ambience. However, I’m sure that there are those who enjoy the whole experience (and can afford the cost that goes along with it). I’ve heard people rave about The Refectory (here in Columbus), or The French Laundry in CA, and look forward to it as the experience of a lifetime. I’d be too busy sweating the small details to enjoy the experience. I’d be uncomfortable because of all the rituals that come with “good service”, and agree wholeheartedly with the original poster that the definition of good service is making your customer feel comfortable.

I can remember back in my early 20’s, my roommate at the time and I went to try out a German restaurant (now gone, unfortunately) in town, not knowing it was upscale. We got there before the dinner rush, he in scruffy jeans and a wifebeater, I in scruffy jeans and a metal t-shirt. I realized we were a bit underdressed after we were seated and saw white cloth napkins and fine china, and really realized we were underdressed when others started filing in with upscale business casual/dresses/suits. By that time, we were halfway done with our meal anyway. My point is, not once during our visit there did we ever feel inferior or unwelcome. The service was exemplary, despite our appearance. And this type of attitude isn’t limited to just fine dining. There’s the potential for obnoxious waitstaff at all restaurants, upscale or not. My advice? Treat all of your customers equally well, and read their body language. If they are feeling uncomfortable, it should be obvious. You’d be surprised. I’m sure that our server was – we left a 30% tip for impeccible service. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

And while I’m on the subject – why do servers treat you differently if you don’t drink wine and just ask for water instead? I’m not cheap – I just don’t like much anything to drink other than water.

Another post that caught my eye was Culinary Muse’s Why I Didn’t Buy the $8 Eggs. And I was surprised to see she caught some flack in her comments section who didn’t think she should be taken aback by the price.

I’m a person who will eat local foods whenever possible. Who prefers organic over conventional. But also a person who was once on food stamps, with a $105 monthly food budget for 2 people. If we want local food and sustainable agriculture to catch on, it absolutely HAS to be accessible as a reasonable alternative. And $8 a dozen, my friends, is painful. I’m sure the eggs are great. And I’m sure they will still have people that will buy them.

Here’s my question: are actual costs driving up the price of the eggs? Or is it because some farmers are exploiting the popularity of organic foods to make a quick profit? As I’ve said, I’ll eat local as long as it is economically feasible for me to do so. If I see prices here in Ohio that match those in San Francisco, I’ll buy conventional – and I’m speaking as someone who understands the environmental concerns and can afford to splurge on food. If I’m balking at the price, what about your average consumer?

Oh, how I want this. Now I just need to convince my husband that a log in the kitchen is a *good* thing!

Until next month…

2 thoughts on “February 2007 Roundup

  1. FJK

    Thanks for including my cauliflower recipe. I had already bookmarked some of the other recipes you included above, but was unaware of others, which I now look forward to checking out.

    Re your fine dining comments, the waiter/server always makes the difference. A poorly trained or supervised bus person can make or break a meal sometimes! I wrote about the tasty food at one of the latest “big name” restaurants in Las Vegas lately, but not about the haughty, thoughtless service and the absolutely clueless and untrained bus person. (Having to ask three times for a slice of lemon of my husband’s water, dishes not cleared appropriately, and my favorite, spilling my coffee in the saucer, trying to clean it up while holding the cup by the rim, having to be asked for a new cup of coffee, which he brought back without a clean saucer, so the bottom of the cup was still dripping coffee.)

    On the other hand, thoughtful, personalized (non-scripted) service from a wait staff who knows management will support them in their customer service efforts will make up for a lot and can make an evening seem magical.

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