Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Goody Goody Omelet House, Wilmington, NC

Goody Goody Omelet House is a small, unassuming place on Market Street in Wilmington, NC and I've heard some good things about them. I've been meaning to stop by for quite some time and finally got the chance when I was passing by with a friend and we decided we were hungry.

It was about eleven on a Saturday morning and every seat was full except for a table they were cleaning off. We grabbed the table and looked over the menus. When the waitress came we ordered coffee and we both got the omelet with swiss cheese and sausage at $6.97. We had a few choices for sides and ordered the hash browns, shredded with toast. While we waited, it wasn't a long wait, a line was beginning to form by the door with people waiting for a seat. I took that as a sign that the food was good.

The omelets were very good. Nice and fluffy, large, and packed with fresh sausage and cheese. The hash browns were more like a potato pancake and perfectly cooked. The coffee was good too. Everything was just right and we left full. Yeah, that sign was right, it's a nice homey place with good food at good prices. I can see why they were crowded.

They've been there since 1977 and the same people still own it, in fact the owner was working the register. They are only open from six in the morning until two in the afternoon and they close at one on Sunday. They take cash too, no credit cards. They have a website for more information.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cooking a proper burger, how hard is it?

Okay, I'm on a rant now. I recently ordered a fourteen dollar burger cooked medium and it came out well done. A few weeks ago I did the same at another place and it came to me with a huge bulge on the top and when I touched it all of the juices ran onto my plate leaving me a dry, well-done burger. When I pointed it out to the waitress she sent the manager over and she explained to me that it is very hard to do a hamburger properly. She told me that to cook a rare burger you need to pack the meat tight and to make it well it needs to be loose packed. Wrong! Time and temperature is how to cook. I told her how to test for doneness by using a thermometer, looking at the juices, and simply timing it. I then said that perhaps they should take burgers off the menu.

This improper cooking is getting to be more of a regular occurrence of late than an anomaly. Now in a six dollar burger I can live with an overcooked burger, but when I pay fourteen bucks for a burger it damned well better be perfect. I've spoken with friends about this and they are all in agreement.

So this is an open call for readers to sound off on the issue and to share where they get burgers cooked right, and not so right. I know that in Wilmington, North Carolina the board of health has a regulation that all burgers must be cooked to an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Don't rat out any restaurants that will make it as you like, I don't want them to get into trouble.

I will give a lesson on burger cooking in the near future for any restaurant wanting to learn the techniques.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tomato Cafe, Fishkill, NY revisited

We were here in June and had a great experience so we decided to try them again today. Well, they certainly lived up to my expectations and we had a great meal with very good service. Here is the link for the original review.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tuttle House at the Mill, Gardiner, NY

The grist mill at Tuttletown has been around since the late 1,700's. About twenty years ago it reopened as a mill during the home made bread craze and we went there a few times for flour. A couple of years ago someone made a distillery on the grounds making local whisky, from what I've heard it is good whiskey, and a year ago a restaurant opened after some major renovations.

We were out for a drive after Pine Bush Day and as we passed by we decided to stop by and see how it is. Inside it is loaded with wood and some bright windows overlooking the river. On the outside there are seating areas with a nice view of the small waterfall that at one time powered the gristmill. We opted to sit inside as it was a bit cool. Our waiter brought us menus and asked for a drink order and we simply wanted tap water. We got the water and to get a refill I had to flag down a waiter and ask for it. Later a waitress, not our own, topped off my glass. I needed it to wash down my meal and you'll see why.

After looking over the menus I ordered the burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions on a brioche roll at fourteen dollars. I had the option of salad or fries and the waiter said the fries were good, so that's what I ordered and I said I wanted it medium. When it came it was a nice looking burger and the cheese and onions were very good. The only problem was that it was cooked well and as a result was dry. I pointed this out to the waiter when I was nearly finished, he wasn't all that attentive earlier, and he agreed with me and went into the kitchen. He came out and offered me a new burger to take home with me, but I declined. I had no need for a second burger. The offer of a desert would have been a better move. He told me they have a couple of cooks and that they each have a different way of determining doneness in a burger. He did say they have thermometers, but thought they didn't use them.

This is really becoming a pet peeve of mine. When we go out, I order my burgers cooked medium and mostly get them closer to well done. There are a few places that get it right and I'll do a blog on that soon. Now in a six dollar burger overcooked is acceptable, but a fourteen dollar burger is held to a much higher standard and I expect it cooked properly. One place I went to recently told me it is very hard to get it right. I told them that they should take burgers off the menu then.

Teresa got the garden sandwich, a mixture of vegetables, for eight dollars. It was missing the asparagus that was listed on the menu and we pointed it out. The waiter went to the kitchen and came back saying they'd run out of asparagus (it was a slow Saturday afternoon so I can't see how they ran out) and that he could give her green beans instead. She declined. The asparagus would have been the most flavorful part of the sandwich and they should have pointed it out after we ordered so she could have made a substutution.

Overall impressions; ambiance good, prices okay, service mediocre, food pedestrian (okay, that sounds a bit pretentious but it fits). If someone said they were going there and asked if I wanted to tag along I'd go with them, but I don't think I'll be headed back soon on my own volition. There are so many places that are much better around. Oh, they have a sign that says Zaggat rated but a check on Zaggat reveals that while they are listed, but there are no member reviews posted. I never really consider Zaggat or Michelin when considering a restaurant anyway.

After we ate we went into the distillery store to look around and it looked interesting. The girl asked if we wanted a tasting but they wanted ten bucks for it so we passed. If they gave out a free shot I might have bought a pint of whiskey.

They have a website for more information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Food Photography Rates

If you are a restaurant in need of good photos of your food for the website or Facebook I'd be happy to help out.

My prices include full rights to all photographs. That's right, you own the images and all I reserve is the right to use the photos in my portfolio for advertising purposes. I provide the images in JPEG format at 10M each. I can shoot in RAW as well if you like. I do not edit, all of my editing is done as I shoot, and the images are given to you before I leave. I will be happy to give lessons on food photography while I shoot so you can add your own photos later.

I do not use a stylist and I photograph the food as it is presented by the chef. Well, I may rearrange a fry or two on the plate as needed, but for the most part the pictures are an honest representation of your work. I will use natural settings in your restaurant and take several angles of each dish.

In addition, I will photograph the chefs in action and take some pictures of the restaurant as well.

  1. $250 for the first hour
  2. $125 for each additional hour
  3. $600 Half day rate (four hours)
  4. $800 Full day rate (six hours, yes I know that isn't a full day for most people, but it is for me)
  1. $30 media charge (I put the photos on memory cards for you and give you two cards, one is a back-up.
  2. Travel charges- No charge for work in the Hudson Valley of New York, Wilmington, NC or within 30 miles of Downingtown, PA. Travel outside of these areas will be based on milage and accommodations if necessary. Hook me up with another job in the area and split the expenses.
Time involved in a shoot can vary. I can usually photograph one dish every five minutes, so one hour can yield twelves dishes. Four hours should cover the whole menu.

I spend a few weeks in Wilmington during the year and can make arrangements to be in Pennsylvania fairly easy.

I recommend that the shoot be done during the slow time or when the restaurant is closed. A suggestion is to bring in the staff to sample the dishes for training purposes.

Oh, I get to sample the food as well. That's why I call it Will Work for Food Photography.

Contact me at ecforman@hotmail.com or 845-234-8028 for more information.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chocolate Ribs recipe

To continue with the theme of cooking with chocolate let's look at chocolate and coffee ribs. This is a tasty way to experiment.

First, start with a rack of ribs. I used beef ribs for this one, but I think pork would do better.

For the rub- Take two tablespoons of brown sugar, one tablespoon of cayenne pepper, one tablespoon of paprika, one tablespoon of coffee grounds (expresso would work nice here), two tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.

Coat the ribs and leave them overnight in the fridge, covered of course.

Now get the grill going and cook the ribs using indirect heat until they hit about 150 degrees for beef or 165 for pork. The time will depend on your grill. Just be careful not to overcook the beef ribs, or to undercook the pork ribs. The chocolate gives a subtle flavor and seems to temper the heat of the cayenne. Feel free to experiment with this and let me know how it works out. I'll be experimenting myself and I'll update as I do.

Chocolate Chili recipe

If you think chocolate goes with everything, you're right. This is true of chili too and this is easy to make. Okay, I didn't use the grill for this one, but I could have put the pot there just as well as using the range.

Take about a pound of ground beef, with a bit of salt, and cook it in the frying pan. Drain and put on a chopping board. Chop the beef fairly fine and transfer to a pot.

Dice a medium hot pepper and half of a sweet red pepper and throw in.

Next, add a small can of black beans, drained of course, and add about two-thirds of a medium can of crushed tomatoes.

One tablespoon of paprika, a half tablespoon of cayenne pepper (less if you want less heat), and three tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Cook for about an hour on low heat, covered, and there you are.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Escargots with wine recipe

Escargots with wine

I don't do my snails in shells as it doesn't make sense. Think about it, you take a snail and remove it from it's shell. Next you clean it and prepare it in a shell not its own. When done you remove it from the shell to eat. Too much work. Better to simply eat them with a spoon from a dish.


One can of snails

Half stick of butter

Three garlic cloves (diced)

¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped)

One small shallot (diced)

One cup red wine (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir. Save the rest of the bottle for dinner)

Two tablespoons breadcrumbs (Panko would do nicely)

Open the can of snails, drain and rinse well with cold water and pat dry. Place the snails and the wine in a small bowl and add the minced garlic, shallots and chopped parsley. Cover and marinate for two hours in refrigerator.

Place the snails in a small oven safe dish and pour in the marinade. Cut the butter into pats and spread on top. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake at 450 degrees for twelve to fifteen minutes. They are done when the butter is boiling.

Eat with fresh bread and make sure to soak up that delightful wine and butter sauce. Have a glass of the wine you used in the preparation while eating.

Feel free to vary this recipe as you like. I'm going to add a touch of citrus the next time with some orange zest.

Steak Sandwich from Rosy Tomorrows in Danbury