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Posts from January 2009

Steak: a nice change in approach

IMG_0083Steak at Ristorante Tasso, Sorrento, Italy

One of the key elements of the classic American steakhouse is girth.  We love big steaks, and steakhouses know how to cook 'em:  charred on the outside, and medium rare inside.  I'm certainly of the opinion that a steak needs a good "char" on the outside, which adds to the flavor and texture of the meat.  A thick cut of meat and 1800 degree broilers help to make that char possible while still keeping the inside at a medium rare temp.  That's the steakhouse approach, and one to which I fully subscribe.

But on occasion I've had steak that doesn't fit into that paradigm:  steaks with little to no char, and much thinner than 2 inches thick.  And they were phenomenal.  We had a steak in Sorrento (pictured above) a while back that fell into this non-American steakhouse category.  And it was wonderful.  The Italians know a bit about food, and a bit about steak as well.

Inspired by that steak, I went off to the Market Basket in Franklin Lakes, NJ, and figured I'd get a nice thin strip to duplicate the experience.  Well they just don't have them cut thin (they'd do it if you ask, I suppose).  But not wanting to ask for a special cut, and feeling  a bit defeated, I grabbed a couple of 1.5/1.75 inch thick strips, figuring I'd fall back on what I know best:  high heat, char, etc.

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The bun: as important as the meat, and a thank you to the Spotted Pig

Burger with spotted pig bun3

Clearly I like burgers.  Clearly.  It's a beautiful thing, the hamburger is.

Since most restaurants have no idea how to make a good burger, I spend a good amount -- probably an unhealthy amount -- of my time thinking about and making hamburgers at home.  I never buy pre-ground beef (except from Fair Lawn's Swiss Pork Store, where they grind to order), use only high-quality interesting cheeses (most of the time at least), really good bacon, rarely ketchup, tomatoes only when in season or Campari tomatoes if not.  And as for the bun?  Well hell, I'm not a baker, and we don't have many options in north Jersey for fresh baked buns or brioche.  So I have to concede and use store-bought mass produced buns. 

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Rosso: pizzeria + wine bar: Santa Rosa, CA

Rosso margherita

A friend of mine from out west told me about a great pizza place in Santa Rosa, CA.  "You have to go to this place for pizza when you come out here.  It's called Rosso."  A very smart man, even though he also said they put corn meal on the bottom of the crust, which is simply not the case.  But that's a subject for another argument.

After some briefing googling, I found Rosso's website.  It took me about 3 seconds to know that I was, in fact, going to be eating at Rosso.  How did I know so quickly you ask?  Well let's see, where do I start: Rosso's approach includes a focus on local food, Neapolitan-style pizza, a wood burning oven, wine bar with wines by the glass, quartino, or carafe.  They had me at "Rosso".

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Smart Lidz: Greatest things, ever

Smart Lidz.  These sound like the greatest things ever.  If every one of the readers of this blog could send me 1 dollar, I'd almost have enough to buy these 10 dollar lids, and then I could provide a full and detailed review. If you're not willing to send me a dollar, I might just go ahead and do it myself. These lids seem amazing.  After the jump, you will see what I mean...

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