Best dining in New York

The Magic of Napa With Urban Polish

Published: September 8, 2004

HE butter-poached lobster almost did it, but not quite. I had been wooed with succulent lobster before. The Island Creek oysters and Iranian caviar, mingled in a kind of sabayon that I was served during that same dinner and during others, made a seductive case. But I was wary of such ostentation.

In the end, it was a different night and a nine-course vegetable tasting, of all things, that made me drop any reserve, cast aside any doubts and accept the fact that I loved Per Se — and that this preening, peacock-vain newcomer deserved it.

I ordered the meal out of a sense of duty, with a heavy heart. Jicama ribbons? Warm potato salad? How transcendent could those be?

Silly, cynical, carnivorous me. The jicama was sensational, so packed with moisture and so faintly sweet that it could have been a new, undiscovered fruit, and the cilantro and avocado that came with it were like idealized essences of themselves, so flavorful that they seemed to have been cultivated in a more verdant universe. The bite-size marble potatoes in the potato salad popped like grapes in my mouth, and an exquisitely balanced mustard-seed vinaigrette gave them a subtle zing.

Lobster is easy; potato salad is hard. And a restaurant that turns a summer picnic staple into a meal-stopping, sigh-inducing dish — and makes that dish a legitimate course in a $135 tasting menu — cannot be denied. Per Se is wondrous.

It is not wondrous 100 percent of the time, and it can be maddening: at moments too intent on culinary adventure or too highfalutin in its presentation and descriptions of dishes, one of which came with a choice of four salts from three continents. To get a reservation may well require a degree of planning and effort that verge on masochistic, and a multicourse, mini-portion extravaganza may well require four hours, which is more time than many diners have or want to spend.

But here is the thing: the return on that patience and that investment is more than a few mouthfuls of food that instantaneously bring a crazy smile to your face and lodge in your memory for days and even weeks to come.

My no-meat meal (with plenty of eggs, cheese and butter) went on to include a creamy but correctly firm risotto that was anointed with a decadently generous mound of summer truffles from Provence. I shared the dish, so I had only eight bites. A month and half later, I still remember the first of those, and how insanely happy it made me, and the last, and how ineffably sad I was.

Yes, yes: Per Se suffers somewhat by comparison with the French Laundry. That is the Napa Valley restaurant where Thomas Keller, the chef at Per Se, made his reputation as one of the most talented American cooks of his generation and created a culinary Mecca, drawing worshipful pilgrims from near and far. Per Se is Mr. Keller's attempt, amid dauntingly great expectations, to recreate that magic in New York, a city that failed him (or that he failed) earlier in his career.

An exact replica is impossible. After several visits to Per Se, I traveled to Napa for a night and ate at the French Laundry. It inhabits a 19th-century house among vineyards and rolling hills, and that setting dilutes the starched formality of a prolonged meal. It also emphasizes the kitchen's connection to the land around it. Ask a waiter at the French Laundry where a vegetable on your plate came from, and he or she will likely say, "Across the street."

Per Se is across the street from Central Park, in what is essentially a shopping mall. With its brown tones, dark woods and shimmering metal surfaces, it looks like a gilded corporate boardroom, not just touched but kissed by Midas. It offers opulence in place of hominess: an appropriate adjustment, I would argue, from Napa to Manhattan.

It also feels blissfully indulgent. The space between tables — only 16 of them — is vast, and every table has a view of the park and the grand buildings that skirt it. If you can wangle a reservation that puts you in Per Se around dusk and allows you to watch the light fade over Manhattan, do it. The reward is a profound sense of peace that very few of this frenetic city's restaurants can offer.

I am handicapped slightly in evaluating the service, because the vigilant staff repeatedly recognized me, and kept a special watch over my table. But I, in turn, kept watch over other tables and listened hard to acquaintances' reports of their experiences. I am convinced that everyone at Per Se is pampered.

The service departs compellingly from the traditional French model by mingling formal attentiveness with breezy, even cheeky banter. I laughed one night as a server poured a slowly hardening chocolate shell over orange-scented vanilla ice cream; he alluded to an earlier dish that no one at my table had loved enough to finish.

"Maybe," he said, "we should have done this to the rabbit."

The dessert was listed on the menu as a "creamsicle," an example of the way in which Per Se tries, with its food as well as its service, to inject a bit of wit into the proceedings. Mr. Keller's canapé of salmon tartare — one of several carry-overs from the French Laundry — is served like a scoop of ice cream atop a black sesame cone that is filled with crème fraîche. No utensils required.

Mr. Keller divides his time between New York and Napa, often leaving Per Se in the hands of the chef de cuisine, Jonathan Benno, who was in charge on most of the nights I dined there. It is to him as well as Mr. Keller, then, that I owe prodigious thanks for a simultaneously comforting and thrilling dish of agnolotti filled with a sweet corn pudding. For a dizzyingly rich egg custard infused with white truffle oil. For tagliatelle with black truffles, which Per Se keeps frozen for use year-round. Sybaritic to the core, Per Se is big on truffles, and it is big on foie gras, which it prepares in many ways, depending on the night. I relished it most when it was poached sous vide, in a tightly sealed plastic pouch, with Sauternes and vanilla. The vanilla was a perfect accent, used in perfect proportion.

Per Se hunts down superior ingredients — turning to Elysian Fields Farm for lamb, Snake River Farms for Kobe beef — and lets them express themselves as clearly as possible. This is cooking as diligence and even perfectionism, not sleight of hand, and little fillips go a long way. That Kobe beef comes topped with a sliver of sautéed marrow that deepens the richness of the meat tenfold.

But Per Se also dares to be different, and insists, sometimes to its slight detriment, on departing from favorites like grouper or Dover sole for something like cobia, a game fish that, at least at Per Se, was too chewy to warrant the trouble.

Per Se wants to dazzle and sometimes to challenge you. I recall in particular what I came to think of as a Wizard-of-Oz course of four different dishes of organ meats, including calf's brain (as delectably molten as foie gras) and calf's heart.

Those were part of an extended chef's tasting menu that Per Se presented to three friends and me as a special option, something it does for a few tables during every lunch and dinner. The usual options are a nine-course tasting menu for $150 and a five-course prix fixe for $125. Each of these proceeds from appetizer to seafood to meat and tacks on a reliably superior cheese course, with cheese being defined liberally enough to include, say, ravioli filled with it.

I recommend the nine courses, and I recommend that you let Per Se do wine pairings, which cost about $120 per person for a meal of that length. (Many bottles here cost more than that.) Per Se can be trusted with such decisions.

It lavishes attention on every aspect of a meal. The gin and tonic I had as an aperitif was an unusually smooth-tasting knockout that used tonic made in-house and came with a gorgeous, gleaming silver stirrer. The shallow pool of crème brûlée that Per Se throws in, as an unheralded extra, among more elaborate desserts would be a lesser restaurant's claim to fame.

But this restaurant shoots straight for the stars. And it soars high — and often — enough to grab four of them.

Per Se


Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle; (212) 823-9335

ATMOSPHERE A large, plush, brown-toned dining room with just 16 tables, a great deal of space between them and a lovely view of Central Park.

SOUND LEVEL Relatively quiet, but not downbeat.

RECOMMENDED DISHES Chilled carrot soup; chilled pea soup; sabayon of oysters and caviar; warm potato salad; tagliatelle with truffles; lobster; Kobe beef with marrow; chocolate tower with peanut soup; "creamsicle."

WINE LIST Expansive, thoughtful and widely varied in geography and price, with many bottles under $100 and many wines by the glass or half bottle.

PRICE RANGE Five-course prix fixe, $125 plus $25 supplement for foie gras. Nine-course tasting menu, $150 plus $25 supplement. Nine-course vegetable tasting, $135.

HOURS Lunch, Friday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dinner, daily, 5:30 to 10 p.m.

RESERVATIONS Extremely difficult. Call exactly two months in advance, at 10 a.m., when the reservation line opens. Expect to redial and to hold. Another option is to get on the waiting list.

CREDIT CARDS Visa, American Express and MasterCard.


(None)|Poor to satisfactory
**|Very good
Ratings reflect the reviewer's reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration. Menu listings and prices are subject to change.


Lake Tahoe

A friend of mine is going to Lake Tahoe for a bachelorette party.

Looks nice, 8 person spa, BBQ, Pool Table. $300 a night.


Recovering a failed hard drive

Often people ask me...

My computer just died, and all of my data for the last 10 years is on it. How do I get my data back?

I tell them BACKUPS.

And they reply... OH. 🙁 I don't have a backup, can you do some magic and get it back.

At that point I point them to a data recovery service and tell them to open their wallet... open it BIG. Because it isn't a cheap task to recover a hard drive.

Well all of that is going to change. See... I had a brand new drive that was my backup drive. Well after 3 months, it died. Yes folks, it happened to me, and since it was my USB- One Touch backup drive with 250GB. I didn't have a backup of the backup. I figured all was lost until I called Maxtor to troubleshoot my problem. After spending some time on the phone, they diagnosed that the problem was my NTFS partition table was corrupt, but the drive was still visable to Windows XP. The suggested I take it to a recovery place, or buy some Data Recovery software.

I got myself a copy of OnTrack Easy Recovery and let it goto town on my drive. After 9 hours, it came back with a full listing of everything that was on my drive. I had since bought a new 200GB drive, and selected the files and let it run for 14 hours restoring my data. All is up and running on the new drive, and as I write this, I am re-formating the 250GB drive so it can be used again.

Comments... Restoring/analyzing the drive over Firewire was much faster than USB 2.0, even though USB 2.0 usually gives me better performance in day to day use. I also found another product called SPINRITE, by GRC Labs that works awsome from DOS on normal IDE drives, but does not help me with Firewire and USB drives. So if you need to restore data from a failed HDD that is IDE or SCSI, SpinRite might be your best bet. And it fits on a FLOPPY! Cool stuff!


Well what do you know, things are not all well at the OK Corral. Apparently when I went to format the drive, it would not format successfully, and in looking at the System Event Log, I found several Red Stop messages warning me about the drive having bad blocks. EventID 7 was apparently the right thing to say to the guy because we stopped troubleshooting the problem and moved onto processing the RMA. So if you have problems with your drive look for this error. I might find a way to have something notify me of this even error code. 🙁

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Disk
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7
Date: 9/27/2004
Time: 10:56:18 PM
User: N/A
Computer: C6
The device, DeviceHarddisk2D, has a bad block.


iPod battery upgrade

Newertech's 21 Hour iPod Battery

filed under portableaudioIf you're an iPod fanatic (you know who I'm talking about) you'd better have a sit-down. Xlr8yourmac recently reported that after they replaced their original iPod battery with one from Newertech they went from 4 hours to 21 hours of playtime. It cost them $40 and five minute's effort, (although this definitely voids the warranty). The $40 includes a tool set and installation guide, and if you tack on the coupon code 'HIGHROAD' when you check out you can get the NewerTech RoadTrip FM Transmitter device for only $9.99. Not bad, especially if you've got an older iPod (1st or 2nd gen) with a worn out battery.

Read - iPod Battery Upgrade [GadgetMadness] -

Read - Catalog Page [MacSales]

Update: Some people are having problems with the RoadTrip code, so don't hold me to that.


DVD Cleanup

I found a way to pull apart the DVD's of our home movies we had made. I'll post information later on how to have Super-8 converted to DVD. After its on DVD, they put it into (4) 1-Gig .VOB files. By using DVD Decrypter to 'backup' the DVD, I was able to tell it to create VOB files based on Cell-ID. This caused each chapter to be made into its own VOB files. Which are pretty close to MPEG-2 files. Mom is going to see if we can re-encode these files, or add audio to them (Super-8 has no sound).

Also, I can make the DVD's smaller by using DVD Shrink, which can change video clips into slide shows, remove audio etc.


Popup Ads and Trojan Horses Spy Ware

After having to clean up a friends computer from more infections I wanted to add more information and bring this to the home page. I do know that SP2 for XP will benifit alot of people so I can't wait for that to be released, it brings a firewall and popup-blocker to a majority of people that would never think to install it.

Neowin Guide to Removing Spyware - A good article on various tools to run

Spy Sweeper / Spy Audit

Free audit of your computer! - NEW! - ACTUAL PROGRAM THAT CLEANS, RUN THIS

Ad-aware 6.0 - free version - removes spyware

Anti Trojan v5.5.407 - (atro55en.exe)

removes trojan software (does the pop-ups etc)
It is no longer on their website, but you can find it on (
Search for "anti trojan", and the first result from will be the one you need.

The news groups say its not supported anymore, so look hard to find it. Name: RAGNAROK Code: 6ABFAC367EDC3F7


This one scans your machine to find programs that change your default search engine.

Zone Alarm 4.0 - Basic

Zone Alarm - Free version of Zone Alarm's firewall.
Be sure to hunt around the web site to find the FREE or BASIC version of this product. That is all you need.
This program will prompt you when a program tries to 'access' the internet. Things like Outlook Express, Internet Explorer will come up right away. You will want to 'allow' them access. If you know you want that program to access the internet ALL the time without prompting, check the box that allows it all the time.

Linksys DSL/Cable Router Firewall

Your best bet is to get this piece of hardware. It sits between your cable modem and your computer and blocks hackers from getting to your computer. This doesn't mean it does everything, but its part of a good complete defense. You can buy ones with 802.11b access so you can have wireless access in your house. It works great for allowing multiple computers to all use one cable modem.

Norton Anti-Virus
Norton Internet Security


4 Reasons to install Windows XP Service Pack 2

4 reasons you need Windows XP SP2

You probably won't notice many changes in the way your computer works. But you could be a lot safer. Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies, a free upgrade for Windows XP users, includes every security update Microsoft has issued for XP. But you should already have those. The biggest news is the new protections available to solve some well-known problems.

Even though some consumers may already have SP2 installed, many are still deciding whether to install this new service pack or continue to stick with SP1. This article will show you four reasons you should have SP2 installed.

1. The pop-up blocker shines in Internet Explorer.

If you hate pop-up advertising, you'll love this change. Since I started using a test version of Service Pack 2, I've seen no pop-ups. It also blocks pop-under ads. True, you could block pop-ups with the MSN or Google toolbars. But now you won't have to install another program to do the job. This feature does not block pop-ups that result from an action on your part. You're likely to want those. When it blocks a pop-up, an information bar and message appear at the top of the page. You can see the pop-up by clicking on the message.

2. You get new spam and attack protections.

In Service Pack 2, Internet Explorer includes a feature called Manage Add-ons, allowing you to disable individual ActiveX controls. These "add-ons" are small programs you usually download to add some Internet capability, such as a Shockwave Flash player. With Manage Add-ons, you can disable the scripting capabilities that allow rogue sites to hijack your Internet Explorer browser and force you to go to their sites. If you've ever gotten trapped in seemingly endless redirects and secondary browser windows whose content may be pornographic, you'll welcome this feature.

Here are some other protections:

• Messenger service. This utility is now closed by default. Spammers use it to pour pop-ups into your computer. Messenger service should not be confused with Windows Messenger, Windows XP's instant-messaging program.

• Buffer overruns. In recent years, we've been repeatedly warned about buffer overruns. This simply means that a flaw in Windows allows an attacker to send too much data. This overflows the proper place in memory. The overflow gets into another memory location, where it can be used to attack you. With Service Pack 2, Microsoft has blunted this threat, but it is probably not eliminated.

• Virus attacks. Dangerous attachments are now quarantined in Outlook Express and Windows Messenger, the instant-messaging service. These attachments won't be able to attack your system, unless you insist on it. If you know that the attachment is not dangerous — for instance, if you were expecting the attachment — you can make Windows open it.

3. The built-in firewall is turned on by default.

Firewalls hide your computer from "probe programs." The bad guys use these programs to send out pings, listening for answers. When a computer port answers a ping, it is identified as vulnerable.

Windows XP has always had a built-in firewall. It does a good job of hiding the computer. However, it was turned off by default. People had to know enough to enable it. SP2 fixes that, and adds some security enhancements as well. It is now turned on by default.

But if something gets into the computer and broadcasts out — sending spam, for instance — the firewall cannot block those transmissions. Other firewalls, such as ZoneAlarm, do block them. Microsoft feels that antivirus programs should deal with malicious programs that land on the hard drive. If you agree, the Windows XP firewall is fine. If not, stick with a third-party firewall.

One or the other firewall should be disabled. Two running firewalls may well conflict with one another.

The Windows XP firewall is most important if you have a stand-alone computer. If you have a network and router, and the router has a firewall, you may not need firewalls on the individual computers.

4. Wireless support has been improved.

A new interface in Service Pack 2 makes it easier to find your wireless network. It tells you what networks are available, their strength, and their type of security. You can easily move between networks, if necessary.

Also, a new wizard in Service Pack 2 makes establishing a wireless network virtually painless. Furthermore, it steps you through security features, whether the old Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or the new, much stronger Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).

Overall, Service Pack 2 tightens up security considerably. But that could pose problems for some custom programs. They may have to be rewritten to accommodate new defaults. Developers who followed best practices shouldn't have a problem, but you should have your developer test his or her work with Service Pack 2 right away. Don't wait.

Other programs could also have issues with SP2. Microsoft quickly developed a list after SP2 was finalized. This isn’t surprising; SP2 is a very major update.

If you have some of these issues, you may be tempted to ignore Service Pack 2. Don't. It's crucial.

Complete Article @ Microsoft


Call Forwarding on Verizon

Feature Instructions

To Activate:

  1. Press *72
  2. Enter the phone number where you want calls to be fowarded # eg)*72-908-123-4567
  3. Press "SEND" and wait for confirmation
    # You should hear a confirmation tone or a message "Your feature has been activated"
  4. Press "END"

To Deactivate:

  1. Press *73
  2. Press "SEND" and wait for confirmation
    # You should hear a confirmation tone or a message "Your feature has been de-activated"
  3. Press "END"


Keepers Club – Childrens Zoo

Today's Keepers Club was the Childrens Zoo. I arrived a bit early today and was able to see them walking a Timber Wolf through the park with its partner (a golden retreiver). They pair Wolves and Cat's (big cat's) with Dog's to keep them company since they might not have two of one type of animal, and if raised from pup's, they grow quite fond of each other.

At the children's zoo, they were walking a Tree Kangaroo around, so again I got withing 3-4 feet of the animal. It was really cool. But what took the cake, was the African Serval Cat. I found out that Big Cat's and Small Cat's aren't classified by their size, but rather if they Purr or Roar. Interesting. The Serval was VERY magestic, and slender. When it sat with its paws straight up in front of it, he looked no more than 5-6 inches wide, but almost 1.5-2 feet tall. Quite striking. When they walked "Shawne" through the crowd, allowing him to come sniff you, it was amazing how calm this animal was. He is apparently 4th generation of "incaptivity" breeding. But still quite wild. Shawne has markings of a Cheetah, and is very very lanky. They don't hunt down their prey by chasing, but rather pounce on their prey quickly with several foot range. Oh Shawne's keeper is Richard, who does a great job explaining the animals.

Also saw a Indian Porcupine which was really quite cool, as he fluffed his spikes. Apparently people think it can throw it's quill's, but it can't. The north american Porcupine that I saw later had adapted an interesting begging technique where he would get on his hind feet and walk like a human. It was SOOOO cute. He looked like a little teddy bear waddling around.

Saw some endangered Parrots, and the Mercat's. Sat for about 10 minutes watching the Otter's play, and then caught up with my Mom and Brother. So the Three of us could goto breakfast down at seaport village.


How to configure URLScan and Exchange 2003;en-us;823175

During installation, the Urlscan tool assumes that multiple services are installed on a single Exchange Server 2003 computer. Therefore, to help enhance the security of the computer, you must edit the Urlscan.ini configuration file to remove any extraneous functionality. To customize the Urlscan.ini file for your particular Exchange 2003 computer role, you must remove verbs in the [AllowVerbs] section of the Urlscan.ini file. However, make sure that the recommended verbs for your computer's role are included to obtain appropriate functionality. If multiple Web-based features are required on a single computer, you must merge the appropriate [AllowVerbs] section requirements.

To edit the configuration file after you install the Urlscan tool, open the Urlscan.ini file. The Urlscan.ini file is located in the following folder on your Exchange Server 2003 computer:


Note To download the Urlscan 2.5 tool, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

with key highlights:

; Exchange 2003 Urlscan configuration for OWA, Outlook Mobile Access, Exchange ActiveSync,
; remote procedure call over Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and Web Folders.
; Version 1.1
; NOTE: Customers with Exchange 2003 running on Windows Server 2003 with URLScan installed may need to modify the "VerifyNormalization=1"
; option in this template to be "VerifyNormalization=0" if they encounter a "404" error when attempting to open messages or items that contain
; the "+" symbol in the subject or name.

; These are the only verbs that are permitted.


; Request headers that are listed in this section cause Urlscan to
; reject any request where these request headers are present.
; List headers in the form
; Header-Name:


; Deny executable files that might run on the server.
; DO NOT include .exe in this list if Exchange 2003 OWA is configured to use SMIME as that would disable OWA.

; Deny scripts that are used infrequently.
.htw ; Maps to webhits.dll, part of Index Server.
.ida ; Maps to idq.dll, part of Index Server.
.idq ; Maps to idq.dll, part of Index Server.
.htr ; Maps to ism.dll, a previous administrative tool.
.idc ; Maps to httpodbc.dll, a previous database access tool.
.shtm ; Maps to ssinc.dll for server-side includes.
.shtml ; Maps to ssinc.dll for server-side includes.
.stm ; Maps to ssinc.dll for server-side includes.
.printer ; Maps to msw3prt.dll for Internet printing services.

; Deny various static files.
.ini ; Configuration files
.log ; Log files
.pol ; Policy files
.dat ; Configuration files

; Deny extensions for Outlook Mobile Access.
; .dll ; Cannot do this for RPC over HTTP or for Exchange ActiveSync.

.. ; Do not permit directory traversals.
./ ; Do not permit trailing dot on a directory name.
; Do not permit backslashes in URL.
% ; Do not permit escaping after normalization.
& ; Do not permit multiple Common Gateway Interface processes to run on a single request.