Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Steph and I parked about a block away and she grabbed her canvas bag while I man-pursed up.
Sun shining, cool breeze. Real spring was around. Not straight from snow to scorch like last year.
We got to the market about 9am, which is obscenely early on most days, and tragically so on weekends. It's true, though, that Steph and I had talked about the decreasing frequency of 3am in our lives, and the zen-like calm we have attained about that loss of mad-unrequited-stupidyouth.
So anyway, it was 9am, and the market was...crowded. There are still people to talk to and walk among if you sleep before 3am and wake before the crack of noon. Nice people. With strollers and mohawks (my favorite combo), satchels of veg, and steaming cups of Zeke's Coffee in their hands or the stroller cup holders.
The first thing we did was walk straight down the prepared side to the far end, and the Curry Shack, where I found love in chafing dishes.
Steph stops by hear every week and picks up several little morsels of meat-pie love. The West Indian Patty is always on the menu. And really, it should be.
Neither of us got any of their bowls of steaming yummy, but Steph got her 4 of each of two kinds of pie to have through the week, and I picked up an Indian Curry and a Turkish Beef pie. I was not disappointed.
I knew it was going to be a good first breakfast because of three things. 1) my belly needed food. 2) there was a line of smiling anticipation in front of the shack. 3) my nose was working overtime to grab every little scent pushed out from under that tent by the April breeze.
Sadly for my belly, but not really tragically, it took about 30 minutes to meander through the market for Steph's shopping. And really, I was just tagging along. When I did get to much into them, I was soooooo happy. More on that later.
Because for the time being, I was following along through the crowd to several stops at some of the best little booths I've seen at a farmers' market.
Small loaves, soft and chewy goodness, with fresh rosemary aroma. It wasn't quite 'still warm,' more a function of getting to the market at 9 instead of 7. But it was delicious with some of the Serrano ham i picked up at The Wine Source later in the day.
After bread it was on to cheese.Those tasty looking goodies were at the joint where Steph shelled out a few bucks for some quality looking cubed lamb.
Then to one of the more unique little stalls you'll see. Neopol. Smoked. Everything smoked. Like this massive smoked-salmon pie. Steph was bummed they were out of the smoked chicken salad. I found out why later when we hit the Belvedere Market. The smoked placed has a permanent store there. And I was giddy enough to lick the little plastic spoon of smoked chicken salad I had there.
There's a brief review of Neopol here from City Paper.
And even though it was early in the season, before the market restriction about locality comes into play (first of May I think), there was great produce. You can clearly see that here. I was a bit jealous. Mounds of cilantro, heaps of radishes, piles of kale and early, smallish collards.
And then we arrived back at the car, where I proceeded to furiously unwrap the curried goodness and ear off the back of the car. I have multiple pictures of the pies in the foil, the foil unwrapped, the pies nestled together, each pie pre-bite, and each pie post-bite. Trust me, it was worth the pictures.
Julie, if you're out there, go here if you haven't already.
I do get the impression that there are markets like this all over Bal'mer since it's a real neighborhood town. This one's definitely a keeper for me though.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
neighborhood shot. hampden. go there. it's where peeps from charm city cakes live. it's where golden west cafe is.
menu of last saturday's brunch spot. note the bad-ass-ness of the thing in which they take pride. know your butcher folks. know your butcher.
taking the long view of the polenta. that's tortilla starin' at you folks. and it soaked up all the sauce and egg and pork-ish-ness that my fork didn't capture.
carne adovado. shredded, spicy, porky. yes children, it was a good thing. take a blue and yellow corn polenta cake. grill it. throw some pork on top, then some green chiles, then some of the most fresh tomato/red onion pico you've ever had. pair it with fried eggs. give the masses a tortilla. all is forgiven.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
i was going to keep this relatively short, because...well, because i just want to say a few words and let you drool. but i kept typing and drooling too, so we're all in this together kids.
we arrived for our reservation and i decided i wanted megan (our intrepid server) to like us. so 'we're going to need another table to hold all the food we're about to eat' was line 1. showing my uber-geek appreciation for their food, and being excited about being there was the tone for the rest of the meal. of course, it worked.
next up was deciding on appetizers. we talked about ordering a slider course, then an appetizer course, then a meal.
we would have exploded. so we cut out the appetizer course and went with slider and entre.
that kobe beef and HUNK of foie gras? it was stunning. it was exceptional. it was my first foie gras.
yes, i lived in paris. yes i avoided foie gras even then. it was organ meat. i was anti-organ. i got better. thank you bitter man. the slider came with a truffle aioli and a red onion marmalade. and not a scrap of it was left on my plate.
note to salt...grill the bread a bit. a crust and crunch followed by a creamy, foie gras-y, beefy orgasm would make your customers VERY happy.
after recovering, finishing my glass of Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, and stepping outside to cool off and grab a smoke, it was back for the main course.
thank god for main courses.
if you're going to eat foie gras for the first time, you might as well follow up with the second time in the same meal. bbq pork cheeks with carmelized brussel sprouts, foie gras, and roasted pecan dust with sweet potato chips.
ummm, if the thought of the fat in the pork cheeks having reached the perfect temperature to be a sticky glue holding fork-tender cheek meat together as it sat lovingly in a shallow pool of tangy, sweet sauce is something you enjoy, this is the part of the post for you. 'cause that happened. it was absolutely stunning. i almost couldn't bring myself to share. note to steph, i will not share next time.
the brussels sprouts were an incredible side/complement. the foie gras folded in to the shredded sprouts was perfect. creamy, crunch from the sprouts, earth from the pecan dust. salty, sweet. crisp, smooth.
her dish was no slouch either. and by that i mean sweet ever-loving jebus. 1/8 inch crust of coriander and peppercorns. 1/8 inch sear of cooked tuna. 3 inches of ruby-red, damn near raw goodness of tuna.
i avoided the seaweed salad, but tried her tuna and some of the tuna potstickers that came with it. interesting to pair two applications of the same fish. i tried bites of each, a bite with both, some with the ginger/soy glaze, etc.
each was good, they were great together on the same plate, but i wouldn't recommend putting them on the same fork at the same time. in no way a critique on the food, just on my decision-making process in eating it.
i was very glad megan knew what to get me when i let her pick glass o' wine number two. but it isn't on their wine list by the glass, so i'm not 100% sure of the label. it was a zin, and it was a glass of blackberry/cherry/currant jam, and i wanted to lick the glass.
it didn't work to take a little bit of all the flavors in one bite, the pear got lost that way. but some tuile, pear, and cream? or pear, blueberries, and basil? yeah that was it. and meant that i really had about 12 desserts on my plate.
miss steph went for the three mini-cones with dolce de leche, irish cream, and mint chocolate chip. my fave was the irish cream. steph was gaga for the mint. and really, we both won.
salt's a hip spot, with a hip young bal'mer crowd, and hip, groovy decor. can't wait to get back and eat there more. but apparently steph and i have a mile-long list of bal'mer food to get through, so it might be a while.
Monday, April 21, 2008
one of the stops in the whirlwind tour of baltimore was the belvedere market, and ceriello's italian market. if i had remembered to bring my cooler, my fridge would have olives, marinated artichokes, orzo salad, suasages, and every other italian food that could be stuffed into it.
as it was, i took a jar of their homemade vodka sauce with me. tonight, with the inspiration of about 1/2 pound of carrot noodles from the asian market in morgantown and a bag of frozen peas, drunken chicken peas and carrots was born. no shopping required. ten minutes of total prep and cook time. tasty.
added bonus of discovering a new shop and local handmade product.
i remember picking up the jar as steph was telling me of her love for their fra diavloa and reading the ingredients. the most pleasing part was that tomato was the first and tomato puree was the second. that does not suck in my book.
For those that don't want to fill out a free Gazette form, here's a tease for the article.
Buying local just got a lot easier: Monroe County farmers are now taking orders for locally grown beef, pork, lamb, goat, eggs, goat cheese, organically grown vegetables and more.
Thursday was their first pick-up day. Charleston-area residents who had placed their e-mail orders - so far, the farmers haven't had to advertise except by word-of-mouth - stopped under the shade trees at the Unitarian church on Kanawha Boulevard to pick up sacks full of everything from ribeyes to peach butter.
"Did your neighbor get through the frost OK without losing his apple blossoms?" Cabot Oil and Gas executive Jeff Keim asked farmer Rachel Moran. Moran had been worried about the looming frost when Keim had placed his order a few days before. It wasn't too bad, she assured him.
"Now, if you have any questions about cooking that goat meat, just give me a call," she said
Really, this is a fantastic way to start a week for the foodie in me.
UPDATE: Not good
Friday, April 18, 2008
I am very excited.
Let me re-phrase.
Saturday brunch with SM is at a location to be determined. It will involve coffee and potatoes that have been fried. On thisp point I am confident.
Saturday night is Osso Buco at pops' house. Beth is gourmet. I mean, I'm a fry cook at a bar without running water compared to her. I asked dad if there would be small spoons and baguette. No response yet. Pray for me people.
Sunday brunch before driving back will be Cafe Saint Ex.
Right now I'm feeling the Fried Green Tomato Benedict.
I know. My life does not suck.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
You saute shallots and garlic, throw it all in the skillet and bake 'til you're starving.
Since I was reading your particularly obscene food porn last night and salivating while desperately trying not to eat the ice cream in my freezer (as I watched the biggest loser and did data entry), I thought I would share with you my dinner adventure for this evening. Read it and weep, my food porn purveying friend.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
really, oh. my. god.
when your friend wants to take you out to dinner, and your friend is pg, you scrap plans to do a chili-rubbed flat-iron steak with greek potatoes. trust me, herb and jer will be able to wait to come over on tuesday. pg's schedule is nuts. more nuts than mine most days. so if he says monday dinner, chez and i say go.
we met up and took the course of 12 fluid ounces to figure out where to go. finally naming off so many restaurants that we found one that a) wasn't downtown, b) pg hadn't been to, c) was good for a thank you dinner, and d) had the added bonus of a good friend of pg's behind the bar.
off to the bridge road bistro we went.
it was fantastic. the manager, chef, and sous chef all came out to chat us up. they were friendly, knowledgeable, and doing a damn fine job of plating excellent food.
mussels, maybe 45 seconds less cook time. venison, we'll order rare instead of mid rare next time.
you have now heard the extent of the comments made that could in any way shape or form be taken as critical.
and even then, the mussels were tasty, the broth clean and full of portugal. the venison was slightly musky, but not 'gamey' in the way that people say when they curl their lip and sneer at the thought of eating deer meat. the succotash and beet with the medallions were a fantastic pairing. and i have never loved goat cheese more in my life (in fact, i've never really eaten that much before in my life, i'm usually anti-stinky when it comes to cheese).
we had, in all, three apps, four entrees, four desserts, and three sorbets/creams. the extra dessert and sorbet/creams were courtesy of the chef. he was smiling when he said 'we have a thousand dollar ice-cream maker back there and i figured we ought to use it.'
amen brother. and thank you for the cleanest, most crisp-sweet strawberry sorbet ever. coconut-lychee was no slouch either. and dipping the mexican chocolate churros into the almond mocha ice cream AND the warm chocolate ganache? really, that did not suck.
i'm going to shut up now and just let you read the awesome.
- portuguese fisherman's mussels (saffron white wine broth)
- baked oysters new orleans (tasso ham, chevre)
- sesame fried calamari (ummm, fly here to get this)
- american snapper amandine, creole-style with red beans & rice stuffed piquillo peppers and a red pepper hollandaise
- muscovy duck breast with juniper berry and sage, whipped chive potatoes and sauteed spinach
- venison with hossenfeffer succotash, chevre, and beet
- seafood spaghettini (lobster, shrimp, crab, carrot)
- wild berry creme brulee
- mexican chocolate churros with warm ganache
- poundcake with fresh strawberries and heavy cream
- lemon and thyme tapioca with blueberry vodka compote (yeah, come get some)
- coconut lychee sorbet
- strawberry sorbet
- almond mocha ice cream