I can’t believe I reviewed only six restaurants this year! That’s four less than last year, even though I still feel like I spent all my time eating Eastern European food. However, I can comfort myself by saying that my reviews are getting more thorough, and by looking at all of the many shorter restaurant reports and Red Alerts.
As a reminder, I rate the food on a scale from 0 to 10, and eateries are grouped into three categories: Recommended (rating > 6), Not worth a special visit (rating between 5 and 6), and Avoid (rating < 5). But this year, all the restaurants I’ve visited scored above 6! No disasters like Nasha Rasha (which is now closed, by the way), so I’m definitely not complaining.
Drawing by G. Valk
Before heading to France and Czech Republic for the next two weeks, I’d like to wish you all happy holidays! I plan to come back with enthusiastic (I hope!) reports on modern Czech cuisine, but in the meantime, if you’re still looking for ideas for your dinner parties, here’s a small selection of some of the finest recipes I posted this year.
OK, OK, I promise I won’t bug you with my off-topic work stuff for a while after this, but I just published a piece about Chef Watson on MUNCHIES: I’m Happy to Have a Computer Help Me Cook Better. The article focuses on the history of cookbooks, which you might find interesting even if you don’t care about Cognitive Cooking. (Reminder: you can request access to the app here.)
You might remember that apart from this blog, my day job as a software engineer has been all about Chef Watson — the app that helps you discover never-seen-before recipe ideas — and I have a couple of announcements to share just in time for the start of the holiday season:
- We just released a new interface for Chef Watson. You can read all about it here, and sign up here. So go ahead, answer the quick survey, and start making some crazy recipes!
And since this is a Russian food blog and not some sponsored content provided by IBM, here’s a recipe for Eastern European Salmon Kebab. The instructions might need some minor tweaks, but the ingredients don’t sound half-bad:
Four years already! That’s 319 posts, including 167 recipes, 62 restaurant reviews / Red Alerts, and 37 travel posts.
This is slightly off-topic, but I was invited to give a talk on the Future of Food at TED this past Tuesday — the video is available here for the next 7 days or so. And don’t forget to try the Russian Waste-Not Burger!
Now that I’m back in NYC, expect a restaurant review in the next few days…
I’ve been thinking for a while about using the metric system to weigh all the ingredients in my recipes. This is what many professional kitchens do, by the way. I long ago abandoned nonsensical cup measurements. I’ve made a reasonable effort to keep using ounces, but when it comes to spices and such, it just doesn’t make much sense. Teaspoons aren’t any more helpful, unless you’re using 1/16 increments.
From now on, I will measure all my ingredients in grams, unless the recipe requires a specific count of a given ingredient (one tomato, two eggs…). Dimensions will be similarly measured in millimeters or centimeters.
Let’s face it: if you’ve tried my recipes, you must already have a scale, and it can most certainly display weight in metric units (please don’t tell me you’re using an analogue model). So this change will only make your life simpler! Because at the end of the day, that’s is what it’s about: simplicity. No measuring spoons, measuring cups, hexadecimal conversions between pounds and ounces. Just put everything on your scale and measure away! Proteins, liquids, flour, cereal, seasoning — no job’s too large or too small!
Romanian Post – Centennial of the metric system in Romania – 1966
I spent the last ten days in Albania, drinking mojitos on the beach, driving on mountain roads that give Georgia’s worst nothing to envy, doing some bunker sightseeing, and taking angered gas station attendants to ATMs. Of course, much local food was had. Stay tuned for recipes and travel stories!
Happy Paskha 2014! Here are a few suggestions to keep your paschal meal interesting:
I feel like I spent all my dinners out eating in Eastern European and other post-Soviet restaurants this year! As is now the tradition, here’s a summary of the places I reviewed, rated on a scale from 0 to 10, and grouped into three categories: recommended (rating > 6), not worth a special visit (rating between 5 and 6), and avoid (rating < 5). While I usually mention decor and service in my posts, only the food is being graded.
Drawing by G. Valk
2013 was the year of the Manhattan restaurants. Call me lazy, but I figured I might as well review some of the eateries closer to home before venturing too often to Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. The conclusion is that they tend to be better than their Brooklyn neighbors (with one exception that’s so blatant that it can only confirm the rule). This doesn’t really come as a surprise: a restaurant can’t hope to survive long among more discerning diners if it’s got average food and poor service, especially when there are a dozen other joints within a one-block radius. Not that Outer Borough restaurants can’t rate well — look at #1 Uzbek Palace. Continue reading