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#46 SLBunge

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 10:26 PM

I admit I don't know about differences between states when it comes to serving genuine game. It's legal in some places, isn't it?

I don't think so. I think that all states in the US require that meats sold to consumers be slaughtered and dressed in a manner that can be subject to inspection. Can't really do that on a hunt.

I know that for venison from a deer shot legally can only be processed (butchered and partially turned into sausages) commercially if it is given back to the person who brought it into the processor. The processor cannot sell the meat. There was a big outcry several years ago to try to get special permission for processors to take meat that was not claimed (or re-claimed) and donate it to homeless shelters for meals.
Suffocating under a pile of cheese curds.

#47 Stone

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 10:51 PM

In NY it is illegal to sell wild venison.

And she was.


#48 Adrian

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 02:23 AM

Number of base sauces...I would suggest that on the ultra high end, every plate that has a sauce, has its own sauce preparation. At lower levels, but yet still quality places, you can take base sauces down to 1 or 2 steps removed from finished product before going off in a different direction for finishing.


So this is interesting, not really surprising, but interesting because it somewhat illuminates some problems with restaurant criticism. It shows the necessity of multiple-visits and ordering broadly. Presumably, the ability to make a number of different dishes, each with its own individual sauce preparation, and to make each one well is important. The critic needs to recognize this, recognize where there is overlap. There's also a tension between reviewing for creativity and "deliciousness" and more technical reviewing. It's impressive as hell that (ex. eg.) Daniel has a different, involved sauce preparation for each dish and does each one consistently, even if it's not as exciting as what other places are doing. If you don't have an appreciation of that, which again takes multiple visits and some technical knowledge to recognize, then you are going to miss a big piece of what makes a restaurant special. This is the difference between Bruni and Michelin - Bruni seemed to review what he liked, irrespective of the technical merit of the kitchen while Michelin, at least when's it's working properly (which is, apparently, infrequently), seems to be solely concerned with the technical aspect.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#49 yvonne johnson

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:21 AM



Number of base sauces...I would suggest that on the ultra high end, every plate that has a sauce, has its own sauce preparation. At lower levels, but yet still quality places, you can take base sauces down to 1 or 2 steps removed from finished product before going off in a different direction for finishing.


So this is interesting, not really surprising, but interesting because it somewhat illuminates some problems with restaurant criticism. It shows the necessity of multiple-visits and ordering broadly. Presumably, the ability to make a number of different dishes, each with its own individual sauce preparation, and to make each one well is important. The critic needs to recognize this, recognize where there is overlap. There's also a tension between reviewing for creativity and "deliciousness" and more technical reviewing. It's impressive as hell that (ex. eg.) Daniel has a different, involved sauce preparation for each dish and does each one consistently, even if it's not as exciting as what other places are doing. If you don't have an appreciation of that, which again takes multiple visits and some technical knowledge to recognize, then you are going to miss a big piece of what makes a restaurant special. This is the difference between Bruni and Michelin - Bruni seemed to review what he liked, irrespective of the technical merit of the kitchen while Michelin, at least when's it's working properly (which is, apparently, infrequently), seems to be solely concerned with the technical aspect.

Are you being serious?

No serious restaurant will have pre-made sauce to put on all dishes. You don't need multiple visits to see if the chef is using same sauce on every dish. One will do.

If you think Daniel offers great saucing technique to the regular as opposed the one in the box, well...
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#50 Adrian

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:59 AM

I think we're talking past each other. I'm not particularly concerned with whether Daniel's saucing is better in the skybox - it was merely the first familiar to all here example that popped into my head of a restaurant that likely has a different sauce prep for each dish but gets criticized for serving "uninteresting food". Look at my Jean Georges example followed by marauder's comment - each plate has its own sauce which, presumably, has its own sauce preparation. Contrast that with what's been described in this thread earlier, outside of the ultra high end, where sauces are built off a limited number of base stocks and are substantially similar "one or two steps removed from the finished product". The sheer variety in the sauces at a high end place versus something lower on the totem is pretty astonishing - the more unique preparations you have, and the more consistently the kitchen can churn out those unique preparations, the more impressive a restaurant is. The ability to identify that, across the menu and with consistency of quality, each sauce involves its own personal presentation from nearly the base up takes multiple visits. Do you think most recent critics are up to even that task?

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#51 marauder

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 01:56 PM

I'm the last one to stand up for the technical knowledge of the last 2 NYT reviewers. However, Yvonne's point is *probably* close to the answer. Once you know that difference (that the ultra high end has the manpower and budget to go above and beyond through all aspects of the menu), it probably doesn't take a degree from MIT to apply that principle judiciously as you eat across town. Sure, there will be places that are able to blur the line and *trick* people into thinking one thing or another. But I would guess those instances are few and far between. Rather, when a quality chef is true to him or herself and is confronted with budget constraints, they are more apt to refine the dish to the point of acceptability within their constraints. To my personal example, would a venison dish be *better* with a sauce that came from 100% venison stock? Sure. However, to my audience, within my constraints, a sauce that was made from venison trimmings and supplemented with veal and chicken stock proved acceptable and, in my humble opinion, quite delicious.

I think if a reviewer were to highlight the point that JG's "XYZ" sauce "starts from 100% 'xyz' bones and trimmings and is blah blah blah" most people would a) either not car as long as it was delicious or b) be bored to tears by the inside baseball nature of the review. While I believe there is an audience for very technical food writing, the NYT Wednesday section readers aren't it...

#52 Adrian

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 02:18 PM

Sure. It's not that you need a degree from MIT, although some background knowledge, I think, is important. My point is that many critics simply do not take technical points into consideration when coming to their judgment. Similarly, many are impressed by modernist technical whizz bangery but then fail to appreciate the technique that goes into making a dozen unique sauces. Instead, the baseline question is "how much did I enjoy this"? Which is fair to a point to make, although we expect more from our other critics ("I loved the xyz's performance of The Messiah, was humming it on my way home" meanwhile the orchestra spent the whole time running away from the soloists").

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#53 Orik

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:13 PM

I think we're talking past each other. I'm not particularly concerned with whether Daniel's saucing is better in the skybox - it was merely the first familiar to all here example that popped into my head of a restaurant that likely has a different sauce prep for each dish but gets criticized for serving "uninteresting food". Look at my Jean Georges example followed by marauder's comment - each plate has its own sauce which, presumably, has its own sauce preparation. Contrast that with what's been described in this thread earlier, outside of the ultra high end, where sauces are built off a limited number of base stocks and are substantially similar "one or two steps removed from the finished product". The sheer variety in the sauces at a high end place versus something lower on the totem is pretty astonishing - the more unique preparations you have, and the more consistently the kitchen can churn out those unique preparations, the more impressive a restaurant is. The ability to identify that, across the menu and with consistency of quality, each sauce involves its own personal presentation from nearly the base up takes multiple visits. Do you think most recent critics are up to even that task?


My knowledge of Daniel's kitchen is extremely dated but I can tell you that about 10 years ago they were using one of two base stocks for all meat entrees.

I think you're trying to sell a sort of blank slate theory of restaurant kitchens - if a restaurant offers preparations A, B, C, D, ..., Z that are distinct from the ground up then a critic needs to try all of them, whereas if it has offers the same preparations that are all based on basic preparations a, b, c, d, e then a critic only needs to try a handful? No, a good kitchen is a good kitchen and a bad one is a bad one :) You can get lucky (or unlucky) but you don't need to try each and every dish to see problems or genius.



I never said that

#54 Adrian

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:30 PM

I think you're trying to sell a sort of blank slate theory of restaurant kitchens - if a restaurant offers preparations A, B, C, D, ..., Z that are distinct from the ground up then a critic needs to try all of them, whereas if it has offers the same preparations that are all based on basic preparations a, b, c, d, e then a critic only needs to try a handful? No, a good kitchen is a good kitchen and a bad one is a bad one :) You can get lucky (or unlucky) but you don't need to try each and every dish to see problems or genius.


Perhaps, although I think that I'm overselling my point which is simply that a lack of technical understand of what a kitchen is doing can lead to poor judgment. More than anything, it's a critique of the idea that a certain type of labour intensive cuisine is "boring" while failing to credit that sort of restaurant for its technical accomplishment, something that may become reliably apparent only with repeated visits.

The idea is not that the critic only needs to try a handful in the "lesser" place, the idea is that, all things being equal between the two places, the first place deserves credit simply for doing that stuff from the ground up and providing something unique and tailored for each dish.*

*I recognize that there's a hipster gardening/charcuterie problem here, although I think that's distinguishable.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#55 marauder

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:44 PM


I think you're trying to sell a sort of blank slate theory of restaurant kitchens - if a restaurant offers preparations A, B, C, D, ..., Z that are distinct from the ground up then a critic needs to try all of them, whereas if it has offers the same preparations that are all based on basic preparations a, b, c, d, e then a critic only needs to try a handful? No, a good kitchen is a good kitchen and a bad one is a bad one :) You can get lucky (or unlucky) but you don't need to try each and every dish to see problems or genius.


Perhaps, although I think that I'm overselling my point which is simply that a lack of technical understand of what a kitchen is doing can lead to poor judgment. More than anything, it's a critique of the idea that a certain type of labour intensive cuisine is "boring" while failing to credit that sort of restaurant for its technical accomplishment, something that may become reliably apparent only with repeated visits.

The idea is not that the critic only needs to try a handful in the "lesser" place, the idea is that, all things being equal between the two places, the first place deserves credit simply for doing that stuff from the ground up and providing something unique and tailored for each dish.*

*I recognize that there's a hipster gardening/charcuterie problem here, although I think that's distinguishable.


I absolutely get what you are saying. However, unlike diving or gymnastics, it would prove to be a nightmare to factor in "degree of difficulty" into a restaurant review. Furthermore, it would create an inherent bias against your classic, perhaps overachieving 2 star neighborhood joint. I don't think this excuses the likes of Sifton or Bruni from coming to the job with a solid technical foundation. As I've often written here, nothing is more frustrating than a reviewer or blogger that gets things wrong from a technical standpoint. However, it has been argued here fairly successfully, that a blogger's opinion is his or her own and there *really* isn't a responsibility to get technical aspects of a dish correct, when at the end of the day, they are simply making a commentary on whether they *liked* it or not. That may fall short for you, as it does for me, but there isn't much we can do about it. All we can do is hope that those blogs fall by the wayside and ones like those written by UE, Wilfrid and a few others here, continue to gain in popularity. I still believe in "getting it right" even if we disagree about whether it is a successful dish or not.

#56 Sneakeater

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:01 PM

Semi-off-point, but two comments.

One, even at this late date, there's still a distinction between blogs and professional reviews. Bloggers are allowed to write about nothing more than whether they "liked it"; reviewers shouldn't be. (I understand that this does nothing to relieve the frustration of professional chefs, who must endure the ignorant but sometimes influential comments of dilettantes on the internet.)

Second, the main slam on Daniel isn't that it's "boring"; it's that it's inconsistent. Inconsistent, moreover, in a predictable way: you only tend to get the A-game if you are or are with a VIP. Well, all restaurants are like that. The further and ultimately more important slam is that the B-game is often not up to the level expected of such an expensive restaurant.
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#57 Adrian

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:03 PM

I absolutely get what you are saying. However, unlike diving or gymnastics, it would prove to be a nightmare to factor in "degree of difficulty" into a restaurant review. Furthermore, it would create an inherent bias against your classic, perhaps overachieving 2 star neighborhood joint. I don't think this excuses the likes of Sifton or Bruni from coming to the job with a solid technical foundation. As I've often written here, nothing is more frustrating than a reviewer or blogger that gets things wrong from a technical standpoint. However, it has been argued here fairly successfully, that a blogger's opinion is his or her own and there *really* isn't a responsibility to get technical aspects of a dish correct, when at the end of the day, they are simply making a commentary on whether they *liked* it or not. That may fall short for you, as it does for me, but there isn't much we can do about it. All we can do is hope that those blogs fall by the wayside and ones like those written by UE, Wilfrid and a few others here, continue to gain in popularity. I still believe in "getting it right" even if we disagree about whether it is a successful dish or not.


Yes, although isn't it at least partially the job of a critic to educate? We wouldn't tolerate an opera or theater critic who wasn't at least capable of taking technical virtuosity into account in reviews meant for a popular audience. Michelin, when its properly function, I think takes this stuff into account without giving reasons. Bloggers, even the best like UE and Wilfrid (or the Gastroville guy who was really interesting before he went and started a restaurant), have the inherent limitation of only being able to do single, or a limited number of, visits.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#58 marauder

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:29 PM


I absolutely get what you are saying. However, unlike diving or gymnastics, it would prove to be a nightmare to factor in "degree of difficulty" into a restaurant review. Furthermore, it would create an inherent bias against your classic, perhaps overachieving 2 star neighborhood joint. I don't think this excuses the likes of Sifton or Bruni from coming to the job with a solid technical foundation. As I've often written here, nothing is more frustrating than a reviewer or blogger that gets things wrong from a technical standpoint. However, it has been argued here fairly successfully, that a blogger's opinion is his or her own and there *really* isn't a responsibility to get technical aspects of a dish correct, when at the end of the day, they are simply making a commentary on whether they *liked* it or not. That may fall short for you, as it does for me, but there isn't much we can do about it. All we can do is hope that those blogs fall by the wayside and ones like those written by UE, Wilfrid and a few others here, continue to gain in popularity. I still believe in "getting it right" even if we disagree about whether it is a successful dish or not.


Yes, although isn't it at least partially the job of a critic to educate? We wouldn't tolerate an opera or theater critic who wasn't at least capable of taking technical virtuosity into account in reviews meant for a popular audience. Michelin, when its properly function, I think takes this stuff into account without giving reasons. Bloggers, even the best like UE and Wilfrid (or the Gastroville guy who was really interesting before he went and started a restaurant), have the inherent limitation of only being able to do single, or a limited number of, visits.


Yes, in a perfect world, it should be. But I guess it also becomes a pragmatic issue of word counts and copy space and all that jazz that I admittedly know NOTHING about. is it frustrating to me that one week Bruni can be on the London news desk (or where ever he came from) and in the next be on the dining room at my restaurant (hypothetically)? Shit yeah it is. Just like as a politics weenie, it pissed me off to no end that Frank Reich (sp?) went from a theater reviewer to like a somewhat respected voice in the political commentary of early to mid 2000s. In hockey they say, "skate your lane." but I guess the NYT doesn't subscribe to that theory. And in both cases, despite whether you agreed with their conclusions or not, Bruni and Reich covered their new "beats" with a lack of fundamental knowledge that was easy to see for more sophisticated consumers of their work. Other than jazz, I wouldn't know enough about the rest of the Arts scene to make an intelligent comment on how well versed the reviewers at the NYT or similar institutions are.

ETA: I would add that our very own fledgling restaurant "critic" here is an example of what can potentially go wrong when someone who "eats out a lot" is given a Gold card and a MacBook. I don't mean to bust the kids balls, but his approach is sometimes off from sentence one and his youth screams through his words. Not to say he should stop writing or anything like that. My first few dozen souffles didn't rise either. Rather, his 'reviews' are not my cup of tea because they tend to lack the fundamental information that a review should convey. And often times, they lack the fundamental "database" of eating that his youth makes impossible to have accumulated. His response is that I--and those that agree with me--should pick-up a zagats if we want to know the where, when, why and how much of a place. Different strokes for different folks...

#59 Sneakeater

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 09:26 PM

The Times arts writers tend to be incredibly well qualified.

That's what makes their treatment of the food beat so frustrating.
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#60 Sneakeater

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:10 PM

It can't matter, and I'd have thought it was obvious, but I might as well say out loud that I agree with pretty much everything Adrian's been saying in the "meta" portion of this thread.

That's why I liked Amanda Hesser as a reviewer much more than most other people seem to have. I thought she was really good at revealing and evaluating "inside" kitchen (and indeed FOH, too) factors that most customers aren't aware of.
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