A FB connection posted a link to this, an article about a posting in the craigslist rant and rave section from a NYC restauranteur, and I found it amusing. A look at restaurant patrons then and now. I’m sure the gist of it is true, and captures how diners have changed (the phones, the photos). But some of it makes me skeptical:
7 out of the 45 customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of 5 minutes of the waiter’s time. Given this is recent footage, we asked the waiters about this and they explained those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded the waiters try to help them.
Seems most people would be surfing on their on 3/4G and not the wifi. Maybe this restaurant makes a big deal of the fact that they have wifi, which makes customers want to take advantage of it—in which case they should expect that customers may ask for assistance. Still, I don’t know anyone who carries a smartphone who would bother to ask a waiter for help to get on the wifi. At a Starbucks or cafe maybe. In a restaurant with appetizers?
Also, I take photos of my food, but I’m pretty sure my dining companions would kill me if I took 3 minutes to do so (set a timer for 3 minutes and get a sense for how long that actually is). And he (maybe it is a she?) claims this was the average!
While I question some of his “facts,” I cannot deny that diners are different today. My meals are much more of an experience today than they were 10 years ago. And I don’t mean the cell phones or the photos; I mean the lingering over a meal, or “luxuriating over it” as my friend once called it.
I’m not sure what restaurant this might be (I notice he doesn’t have the nerve to reveal it) but it does sound like he’s got more tourists than locals, a destination joint with folks that are trying to capture that “they were there.” He should be glad his marketing is working. But if he doesn’t like the kind of patron he is attracting, he should consider doing a different type of restaurant.
Perfectly Poached Chicken Breasts
A while back, I jotted down a method for foolproof panfrying chicken breasts.
This time I want to make note of great way to poach them. Perfect for chicken salad and such. So simple, too. Just start with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper and put in a pan with any aromatics you have on hand. Today I used a bay leaf and some celery, but you could also use ginger, or any array of herbs, onion, carrot, etc.
Barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Don’t open the lid! Let it sit until the water is cool. By then the chicken will be cooked and so moist and tender.
Broccoli Romanesco about to be steamed.
I always love finding Romanesco at the farmer’s market. It reminds me of living in Rome, where I first had this vegetable. It’s got such a beautiful unique shape, although its flavor is not quite so unusual. A member of the Brassica family, it tastes more like cauliflower than broccoli. When my landscaping project is done and I have vegetable beds again, I might consider this, if I am brave enough to try Brassicas again (they seem to attract icky aphid-like bugs).
I should have photographed it before I cut it up, but I didn’t think of it. There are some really beautiful photos online already. I had no idea that the number of spirals on the head are an example of the Fibonacci numbers! Beautiful, tasty and good for you!
The end result: wild (and not-so-wild) mushroom salad. Yellow oyster, pioppini, lion’s mane and the lowly white button mushroom, dressed with shallots, EVOO, wine vinegar, lemon zest, and herbs from the garden.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
It’s my first time cooking these gorgeous mushrooms (see them raw here). They’re quite spongy. In fact, they say if you wash them in water (I didn’t—they were pretty clean so I just dusted them off) that you should squeeze the water out of them before you cook them.
Once cooked, they looked like chicken:
There are some interesting facts about these mushrooms. According to this site, they may have properties that stimulate nerve growth and therefore be helpful to people with cognitive impairments. I will try to remember that :-)
They cooked down to near-nothing! But the texture is nice and chewy, and they carmelized nicely (I can see why it’s best to cook them when they’re as dry as possible). In this photo they also look a bit like cauliflower!
Yellow oysters, pioppini and lion’s mane mushrooms.
Don’t these look yummy? They’re going into a mushroom salad for tomorrow’s picnic. I’m told the yellow oysters have a delicate cucumber flavor and are best eaten raw. So we shall!
Boar’s Head Tureen at the Legion of Honor.
Can you imagine being served soup or dinner from this? It would definitely set the table!
Chicken breast atop pioppini mushroom fricassee.
The food (not to mention the cocktails) at Martins West just never fails to delight. This was particularly delicious—the skin on the chicken was so crispy and tasty. Along with the fricassee: green garlic and gnocchi. Not just any gnocchi, but “Parisian gnocchi.” I never knew there was such a thing. Gonna have to try them.
So that’s what makes it different!
Good article in the Food&Wine section of the Chronicle today that talks about the trend of using nitrogen to carbonate beers. More breweries are starting to use nitrogen instead of a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide to give the beer its fizz. I didn’t know that’s the reason that Guinness—one of the first (if not the first) nitro beers—is so smooth and creamy.
I don’t drink a lot of beer—usually the carbonation is too much and it fills me up. But I guess because there is so much nitrogen in our atmosphere to begin with, beer that is carbonated with nitrogen is much less likely to give up the gas, leading to a creamy head with staying power, and a drink that seems less carbonated. I guess that’s why, to my surprise, I liked Guinness so much!
I think I’ll have to do some taste tests!
Huge and delicious meringues at The Whale Wins in the Fremont district of Seattle. These. were. terrific!
Maybe we should stop telling people they’re eating insects…stop saying ‘worm.’ If we use the Latin names, say it’s a ‘Tenebrio’ quiche, it sounds much more fancy…Another option is to cover the bugs in chocolate, because people will eat anything covered in chocolate.
Marcel Dicke, Entomophagy-pushing entomologist
Guilty. Then there’s frying, too. I always say you could fry a cockroach and it would taste good.
Plastic ware is getting pretty good at looking like silverware. But it still doesn’t work as well.