Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grilled Ham & Cheese on Fresh Bread

Freshly baked American sandwich bread requires a sandwich.

So here you have it. Grilled ham and Swiss for a working lunch.

Bite, chew, wipe fingers, type. Rinse and repeat.

I think I may have finally nailed the 'regular white bread' part of baking. Or at least a loaf about which I have no complaints.

I think focacia is next. Would have made that today if I'd had the large baking tater required by the America's Test Kitchen 1,000 Best Recipes cookbook. I'm a sucker for that rosemary/salty flavor and the crispy crust. Mmmm.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Soho's

Lunch with the ladies today. Grilled eggplant, caprese, basil pesto, roasted peppers, crusty bread. Mmmmm.

K went prosciutto calzone and the house salad. STK went chicken panini and pasta e fagioli. We all went back to work full.

Here's the lunch menu.

Calzone needed less prosciutto and more cheese for texture balance and to reduce the saltiness a bit. It's a Carnegie Deli-like ratio of meat to dough.

We also wondered at the ubiquitous Sohovich kettle chips with the calzone (adding to the salt factor).

Prices for lunch can range from $7 for calzones and sandwiches to $16 for some of the entrees. Saw the spag and meatballs and had order envy. 10-inch pizzas are a good bet at the lunch. The shrooms and carmelized onion is delicious.

We all wished there was a 'small' salad option other than the $6 House Salad, though the gorgonzola crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette is smooth and tasty.

Soup was a HUGE 'cup' chock full of escarole, beans, and chicken. Nice twist on several threads of classic Italian soup.

While I have to agree with the Chez that it's not my favorite atmosphere, it was nice to sit at the bar with the ladies and watch the Charleston Glitterati lunch. And the food has been good every time I've eaten there over the years with excellent consistency and friendly staff.

Soho's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Some Very Exciting News

For all my WV readers, get ready for Yuengling. That's right, according to today's Charleston Gazette, we'll have America's oldest continuously operating brewery here. The company is in talks with distributors in the Mountain State and will begin selling in it's fourteenth state (including DC) sometime soon in the Spring.

No more trips up Stewartstown Road across the PA line from Morgantown. Martinsburgians and Shepherdstownians will no longer have to stop in Hagerstown and Sharpsburg on their way anywhere else in the State to bring needy relatives and former roommates a case of the good stuff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Guy


This Guy
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
This guy will be eating meatloaf, tuna cheek, and the seen-here oreo milkshake tonight!

I will be eating my second meal at Casa Garcia today (Chez didn't get to go at lunch and by her own admission pouted and threw a jealous-rage twitter-fit).

That, people, is how we roll here in Charly West.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jamaican in SoChar

I haven't made it yet to the new Jamiacan place in South Charleston; but after this picture sent by my trusty business and food colleague MP, I kinda wanna go NOW.

Really? Whole fish. Dirty Rice. What appears to be a plaintain and a grilled tomato.

I need some of that action damn quickly. Maybe they're open on Sunday?

Maybe I'll drive by after work today?

Who can tell...

[UPDATE] Here's the Daily Mail article on Jamiaca Cuisine. The addy and phone are in the comments now (thanks I'm The Chez).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ham and Asparagus Hash

More than a bowl of oatmeal.

Two yukons, one yellow onion, three slices of deli ham cut into squares the same size as the taters, four to five spears of asparagus chopped, two slices of swiss cheese, a splash or two of chicken stock, salt, pepper, olive oil.

Oil heated, diced onions and taters in the pool with salt and pepper. Stir through quickly to coat. Leave it alone on med/med-high heat. I mean it. Leave it alone until the taters crisp up. Stir it up, splash of chicken stock, cover, let it go for 5-7. Stir in the ham and asparagus, one more small (2 tsp size) splash of stock, stir through, cover, and heat through. Put it on a plate, scatter the swiss throughout, take to the table, put a fork to it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Happens on the Deck...









Nathan's Dog. Dill mustard relish. Bog Sauce. Mustard. Bun.

Laughs with A.

This is what dinner on the deck SHOULD look like.

I Roll Like This...

Sitting on the deck at the Tricky Fish waiting on Herb so we can have some dinner. I have the warm sun, a cold Negra Modelo, and all the free wi-fi I can handle.

Applications for "Person Who Sleeps on My Couch So As To Be Closer To My Food-ventures" are being accepted now. Veterans preference will be granted to G, Chez, Krista, Steph, Hatton, my Seester, and Karl in their applications for having already proven able food-ska-teers.

I Must Go Here

on a Tuesday night...

Eleven

Pittsburgh's Eleven is a helluva fine dining joint. Sitting on the downtown end of the Strip District and just a short hop from the Convention Center, it's a modern, curving lines architectural amalgam of wine storage, open kitchen, dark bar, open and loud like a restaurant should be main floor, and tucked against the walls upper seating.

Mike and I were one of several customers there on a Tuesday night. Nice enough that I didn't bring the camera. Should have. Heather our server was, in addition to being extremely knowledgeable and correct in her suggestions three times over the course of the meal, a fantastic personality who wouldn't have batted an eyelash at my photog-ing.

Go see her soon. She's leaving town. Been there for several years and wants out of the waitress gig (her word, she said she's a waitress not a server. old school like that. even more endearing.)

I won't go into the food detail too much since you can see the menu HERE and you can tell when you read it that THESE GUYS know what they're doing.

P.S. in the middle -- I also ate at the restaurant group's Kaya on this trip and will have that review and tales of old-school cocktails up soon.

I'll just share the text I sent to G:

Carmelized onion and mushroom crostini amuse buche;

Oysters on the half shell with house made mignonette and hot sauces;

Smoked Lamb taco w/ crispy corn tortilla, tomatillo coulis, goat cheese, and refried lentils;

Elysian Fields' Farms lamb w/ creme fraiche potato puree, cipollini, squash, Brussels sprouts, golden raisins, sage, and vin cotto;

White chocolate pistachio citrus fudge.


Yeah. He got that text.

No. He did not respond.

Mike also had the Three Greens (which is the house salad) and the lamb. Second time this trip we had different apps and went for the same entree.

Third time on a two day trip I had Brussels sprouts. Twice Monday night at Kaya, and here with the entree.

Highlights for those of you slackers who have so little to do that you can read things like what I think about the food and how it was prepared (I am aware this breaks my pledge of a dozen graphs ago to 'not go into detail' about the food. Kiss off. Keep reading.):

The lamb was brilliant. The creme fraiche potatoes, sprouts, squash, raisins, and cipollini were stunning accompaniments. I forgot about the sage when I was eating and can't tell you now if i could taste it when I was eating. No matter. The chef recommended it mid-rare. I eat it mid-rare. We ordered and received it mid-rare. Perfectly.

The homemade hot sauce at Eleven is screaming hot in the BEST possible sense of the word. One quick dash of the mignonette, one squirt from a lime wedge, and two fork-tine tips worth of hot sauce were perfect for these mid-sized Long Island Sound shells.

The homemade breads were excellent.

Lamb is so tender you can see some people cringing when I typed out lamb taco. They need to get over it. It was delicious. The tortilla was silver dollar pancake-sized, the lentils were an inventive twist, and the tart tomatillo is quickly becoming one of my favorite flavors.

The service is impeccable. Heather, her staff on the bread and clearing, the manager we spoke with as we were leaving the restaurant, everyone. Suits for the manager and matre'd. Black and white for the service staff. Smiles on faces. Uncanny recall of the menu and the wine pairings.

The wines (each of us had a glass of white with the oysters and a glass of red with the dinner) will have to wait. They were both on the daily menu, not the wine list online. So I'll have to get home and recheck my copy to update here. Suffice it to say they were excellent. The restaurant's wine list is massive, and has won awards.

Heather's first correct choice was a more buttery white to pair with the oysters even though my head and palate usually tell me to pull something more acidic and minerally to counter the richness of an oyster. I wasn't thinking about the sauces changing the equation. The buttery was much appreciated and a great pair.

Heavy red goodness on the dinner wine. Can't even recall the grape now. Wasn't concerned about it then either. By that point in the meal our 'waitress' Heather had us wrapped around her 'i know you business traveler types will do what i tell you' fingers. (Managers reading this should note I type that with not one ounce of regret. We enjoyed being led through our meal by your excellent server. She's an asset.)

This is truly 'fine' fine dining in a city that is clearly doing something right by it's food and culture people. I wish I didn't live three-plus hours away.

Eleven on Urbanspoon

Bubble Tea in Charleston


Bubble Tea in Charleston
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
That's right folks, there's bubble tea at Pho Vinh Long in South Charleston Tapioca balls in iced tea with milk. Yum.

I'll have one after I finish my Salt-Plum and Soda water. More on that later. It's both good and 'interesting.'

[UPDATE] Krista in the comments is right. Salt-Plum with Soda water is a strange and curious cocktail. I couldn't tell if I liked or didn't like the salty hit you got with the sweet of the plum...might be worth another try.

The Honeydew Bubble tea, in all it's neon-green glory, was stupendously sweet and delicious. Since the folks at Pho Vinh Long serve a semi-slushy mix, some of the tapioca balls ended up freezing before I was done with the tea. A warmer day and a togo tea would have solved that problem.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This Is What My Day Has Been

Finishing up Afghan and Columbian in New York and a two-day business trip to Pittsburgh worth of food will have to wait until my stomach can deal with solid food again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mmmm, High-Fiber Breakfast

The Greentree, PA Radisson really rolls out the green carpet for guests this week.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cooking with The G - Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Sadly, intrepid geekers, you'll have to wait a while for the full dinner story. Not because I'm some sort of braised short rib tease...well, at least not in this instance. No, it's because I mostly cooked last night.

My camera was, as evidenced by the photo here, in attendance. But Jerry's was too, and he actually edits his video and makes little stories for the people.

So I'm going to let him do that and then embed later for your viewing pleasure. Trust me, you'll like the embedding. There's lots of banter. Witty banter. Maybe even a few witty repartees sprinkled in for your viewing pleasure.

But for today, you'll have to deal with the presentation photo and a few other words about the middle course from this guy. Which is really a lot, and really the substance of the night after the first course of port salou, mini-mozz, the most lemoy stilton ever, a leyden that was creamy and cumin-y and wonderful, prosciutto and mozz stuffed pepperoncinis, and a killer wet salami that screamed eat me with that bread. And after the final course was cooked and not eaten (sort of) because we were all so full.

I mean, I tasted the asparagus and baby portobello risotto as I went, and G and I both tore apart one of the Carmenere-braised short ribs to taste (since neither of us had ever cooked them). But in the end, we just had the app platter, some lobster bisque of a damn-tasty-coming-from-the-store variety, and the scallops course.

Oh, the scallops course. gorgeous orbs of mollusk-y goodness wrapped simply in applewood-smoked bacon; seared in a pan with drippings from said bacon and a pat (or two) of butter; then plated family-style with a passed bowl of red pepper-mushroom cream sauce and whole-grain baguette oven-toasted with olive oil, sea salt, and fat-cracked black pepper.

The bacon is one of two pounds I have left from last year's bacon of the month club. On the simple side as most of them were. This wasn't a club for weird; it was the club for bacon. Simple, porky, slightly smoked with fruit wood in some manner. Case in point, the Applewood-smoked bacon from Oscar's.

We had enough for the scallops, some crumbled back into the cream sauce, and five slices on which to munch. And you've heard me talk about it before, but there is NOTHING like the chewy, salty, wonderous texture and flavor of simple and well-made bacon. If you want to get some here's what you do. You drive to Sam's Uptown Cafe. You tell me you're there. We drive and get more.

One of the few times I was cameraman last night, tending the bacon as it rendered to start the cream sauce, I got to capture this beautiful sight. The G, wrapping the scallops in the bacon, finding out the bacon was from upstate New York.



No only is the man a master in the kitchen, he's homestate proud too. You have to respect that. Maybe next time he heads up to Utica he'll take a swing over to Oscar's.

Come to think of it, my gas tank is almost full.

And he'll be working at the bar tonight.

And we'd get there in time for High Tea with Bacon if we left when the bar closed.

And I just ran the directions to get there...