Revisiting cereal and restaurants


January 31, 2007|By Erica Marcus | Erica Marcus,Newsday

This week: reader mail.

Last week, I wrote about hot cereal and how long it takes to make it properly. Ginny McGowan of Hempstead, N.Y., e-mailed me with the method she and her husband use for steel-cut oats: "Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of steel-cut oats, mix and take off the burner. Put a cover on the pot and let sit for at least 12 hours - we usually let it sit for 24 hours."

I've long used a variation on this method for all hot cereals: Before you go to bed, put cereal and about four times as much salted water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, cover and remove from heat. The next morning, your cereal may indeed be completely cooked; if not, at the very least, you'll be halfway finished.

In another recent column, I offered advice on assessing a restaurant even before the food shows up. Lori Giambanco, who, with her husband, Vito, owns Sal's Pizza in Sayville, N.Y., wrote in to say that "nine times out of 10, you can tell how good a restaurant will be by the house dressing on the salad." Giambanco also opined that chef-owned restaurants are usually better than those in which the chef is merely an employee.

Al Weinberg of Farmingdale, N.Y., suggested that prospective diners first visit the bathroom before ordering. "To me," Weinberg wrote, "a dirty or badly kept bathroom indicates ... a poorly kept kitchen ... and is a reflection of the owner's sloppiness."

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food/Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.

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