Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun at Work

So I tend bar a few evenings a week now at Tricky Fish. Joint I've reviewed and was a fan of for a year before I started working there. It's a funky beach shack feel. Deck out front. Shrimp, Catfish and Mahi-Mahi tacos, oyster baskets, pork bbq, WV classic hot bologna sandwich with the owners soon-to-be famous Bog Sauce (spicy, sweet, deep bbq), hush puppies. NTN Buzztime Trivia inside.

I lurve blackened, grilled shrimp soft tacos. I devour house dogs with chili and slaw. I can't keep away from the hush puppies.

I have a small bar at the back.

We have fun there.

We have a kitchen mascot now...



And we had some extra crab last night, so Chris decided to whip up staff dinner after we slowed down for the night...



Yeah, that's a crab omelet with Spicy Trick Sauce and a blackberry gastrique. Folks, it did not suck. Sweet crab and egg with a tangy sauce and a sweet finish from the gastrique. Um...yeah, I like working there.

And now I'm off to Cafe Cimino with the owner, the Chef at our sister-joint Bluegrass Kitchen (BGK), and another co-worker who spits mad rhymes...



Backup there was Mike Darby and the House of Cards from New Orleans. They rocked the parkin' lot at our Memorial Day picnic.

Chef Gary from the BGK rocked the grill with Grilled Peruvian Chicken with ghost chili, sambol/lemongrass pork skewer burritos, jalapeno/panko crab cakes, and jumbo gulf prawns.

It looked like this...



Larger versions Here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pink Beer in the Afternoon

That's right. The new 8-spout strait-tap system at Sam's has some strange and exciting brews. My candy-@$$ has been swilling draft PBR like it wasn't already out of style after being in style for having been out of style for years.

Maybe if I'd been paying more attention, I might have tried THIS sooner.

Wasn't as excited about pink beer as I should have been until Bethie arrived and noticed it. But when Ms. Bethie gets excited about something, you do too. It just works that way.

I tried the stuff, and won't be ordering it again. Not because it's pink (well, not entirely because it's pink anyway), but because it really wasn't exciting EXCEPT for being pink.

P.S. - Magic Hat? Beer people? TURN THE MUSIC OFF ON THE WEBSITE. Gads I HATE sondtracks to the interwebs. That's what MY friggin' iTunes are for, got it?

Winning Stuff

I received the One Lovely Blog Award from EDG over at Esse Diem today. While I had not heard of this particular award before, who am I to turn it down, right? Apparently, there are some "rules" to this award. Kinda a pay it forward deal. I'm down with that.

I get to accept the award and post it on my blog with the name of the person who gave it to me. Then I get to pass the award to fifteen other blogs that I've discovered recently. I'm going to cheat on my definition of both "fifteen" and "recently." You're going to pretend I complied with all posted signs, placards, and crew member instructions.

Here's good reading...

Food

Thursday Night Smackdown - You want the crazy-train of bad-ass foodery and pork porn? Get here. Be forewarned, you will get f-bombed while drooling on your keyboard!b

cook eat FRET - The high-end of middle-America's cooking happens in Nashville, and it's done by Claudia. Mind-boggling recipes and crazy ingredients flown in from every which direction blended with the annual New York Trip home and GOBS of gorgeous platings.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Actually just the cooking piece of the larger Pioneer Woman world. This lady is CRAZY with the picture-taking cheese whiz. And the food looks gooooooood. I just found this one a few days ago in a SeriousEats.com talk subject.

The Homesick Texan - A true to place blog about the food of a blogger's past, and keeping it and its traditions alive in her present. Gorgeous insight into a piece of the food universe I love.

Non-Food

I'm the Chez - English & Writing teachers with strong senses of self and emotions that come through interweb tubes are hard to find, and this one's good. Even better that it's my best buddy. I'm proud to be a Macaroni.

You're Out of Your Element Bethie - The satire, snark, snippits of the professional late-20-something life, and wisdom of a jew-ISH rapper in South Central West Virginia is strong. Strong on plow.

The Wonders Of... - One of my oldest friends in the world has found a life and a family that should be the envy of us all. And her kids are cute too! One of the places on the interwebs you can learn something.

Esse Diem - Giver of this award to me and a truly newly discovered one I'm enjoying. It's rare that I'll spend much time on a blog that's just about life. I'm more of a specificity guy: the food blogs, the politics blogs, the place blogs. But this is written well, and that counts for a lot.

Synaptic Burble Baubles & Infinite Ammo - Sam's another cat I've known for a while. He is by far the most prolific pop- and just-under-the-surface-culture blogger I've ever seen. He will dazzle you with the range of music, art, culture, and random that he can synthesize into a day.

I Hate So Much - Don't be scared. Well, maybe get a little scared. Full on life of a blogger who knows it can be found here. You will be called out on your shenanigans.

Moving Momentarily - My pals Karl and Cassi (along with some of their friends) are chronicling the life of a metro rider in the DC area. Hilarity and frustration will ensue.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tudor's Biscuit World

It kinda shocks me that I haven't written about Tudor's Biscuit World before this morning. But prompted by my boss's "I think I'm going to get a biscuit, do you want one?" As I rolled in to get my consulting on, I think I must.

Now remember, he said "get a biscuit." He didn't tell me where. I knew.

South of Route 33 in West Virginia is Tudor's country, and whoa to the traveler through the southern half of our fair state who drive through without stopping at one.

Disclaimer, this is not gourmet. It's not even pretty sometimes. But it IS an institution, and the closest fast-food attempt at recreating some other food that I've ever found.

Check this...McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's. Fast-food attempting to re-create the "real burger" in America. EPIC FAIL. They are what they are. They are not a backyard barbecue burger with tomatoes from Rene's garden down the road.

Taco Bell (and even all the ubiquitous sit down Mexican joints with 37 lunch combos obviating the need for any statement of no substitutions on the menu). NOT a true taco. See HERE, and HERE.

LJS? I LOVE your uber-fried combo. But approximating a fish fry, or even further out there a seafood meal, is not what you really end up doing.

Again, I eat at ALL of those places, I'm just pointing out the obvious to make my Tudor's point.

Tudor's is a fast-food attempt at country cooking breakfasts. And they get that. Portions are large, butter is prevalent, customization of platters is possible dine-in or carry-out (scrambled or over easy on those eggs?). You have multiple meat choices with breakfast, and when you order sausage gravy, you get (figuratively) gallons of hot, molten, chunks-of-sausage-laden gravy.

Biscuits are named. The Mountaineer. The Peppi. The Ron. The Mary B. And each has their devotees. Rabid passion can be found in discussions about the merits of different biscuit sandwiches, and outsiders stare curiously inward to try and understand the phenomenon witnessed when a WV expat comes home and requires a biscuit. Usually before going home and saying hello to Mom and Dad.

I have a friend in the DC area who's from Parkersburg originally and has her Mom ship her biscuits every couple of months. She freezes them and rations them out at what must be an excrutiatingly slow pace to await the next shipment. Hey Kate, check THIS out.

And while you're waiting for the DC-area franchise, take a minute to think about biscuits. In their purest form, they are perfect. Crispy tops, golden-brown with basted butter goodness. Flaky-chewy interiors are fluffy and meltingly sweet. Should you wish to adorn your biscuits with extras, the cheese will bind it all, the eggs are real, the ham is salty, and the bacon is not nuked.

OMG...I'll be right back. I won't admit to this in public, but I may have needed a moment.

I am partial to the Mountaineer. Shocked? No, you're not. Ham, potato, egg, and cheese. ON A BISCUIT? It's the Tudor's moral-equivalent of wrapped in bacon. And I lurve it.

The menu is larger than the biscuits, and includes pancakes and full-breakfast plate mash-ups. Lunch items are foreign to many a Tudor's afficianado. I'd wager many folks don't even realize there are burgers and chicken sandwiches, and corn bread and pintos on the menu. But those things make Tudor's an even closer fast-food version of a country-cookin' diner.

I'm skimpy on my lunch experience at Tudor's, but you can read about their hot dogs here and here.

Take a look at Chris from WV Hot Dogs on Tudor's breakfasts:

It is kind of hard to describe a Tudor's biscuit to someone not from the area. Imagine a biscuit from a major fast food chain, only like 1000x times better. They make gigantic homemade buttermilk biscuits from scratch (and I mean from scratch) and thick slices of bacon, sausage, and/or ham (like you would use at home) on them, real fried eggs (not that reconstituted egg-based product found at the national joints) and the best tasting cheese this side of the government commodity truck (by the way, I challenge anyone to make a better sandwich cheese than the US government. No, I'm not kidding.). If you don't believe me, go to a grouping of fast food joints by an interstate exit any morning. You will see a few out-of-staters at Mickey D's and BK and a shipload of people with WV tags at Tudor's.

Staff's exactly what it should be at a place like that. Orders get yelled back to the kitchen even with the tape register printing it out. Good-natured 'where is my side of fried apples' and 'you never tooold me there was an extra egg on this order' occaisionally float out toward the restaurant.

Regulars come in every day and read their paper; sipping on coffee and having a biscuit or eggs and toast. It's not "Have a nice day;" it's "You have a nice day, dear" when you're paying at the drive-thru window.

Here's what I don't like about Tudor's, and it's a relatively short list. First, the coffee, it's really not good. Tudor's clings to the disproven (in my mind) theory that you don't have to put the extra spoonful of coffee in the filter. Please Mr. Tudor, stop skimping. That extra scoop will definitely remove the slightly tin-ny flavor that can only be overcome now by six creamers and four sugar packets.

Second, and this is KEY for your commuter fans, please instruct your drive-thru employees that one napkin per biscuit in the bag is horribly insufficient to wipe fingers clean of the detritus remaining on the customer post-biscuit. Wait, don't get totally mad; I LOVE the butter that comes on, in, and around your biscuits. It's one of the best parts. I just don't want to have to use a power-washer in the garage of the home-office to clean up. One or two more napkins in the bag will take care of that problem nicely.

I'll leave you with a Tudor's ad, since I don't presently have any photos of my own...



Tudor's Biscuit World on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Evil Genious of Breakfast Nachos

Blue corn chips, potatoes, sausage, jack cheese, chunky salsa. Yum.

Then I go all "I want MORE" on the thing and have Chris throw two perfectly poached eggs on top too.

Yeah, you shoulda' seen this thing disappear.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Advertising Snark of the Day

Rolled through the Mc'D's drive-thru yesterday at lunch because it was convenient to the lunch-time errands I needed to run. And ran smack into the second (first here) in what I guess will become a series of 'critiquing the absurdity of the ad.'

The target: McCafe.

The Ad:

Two points of snark.

1) The "Mocha" is "delightful" and the Iced-Mocha is some variation of chocolat-y. Really? Isn't the Mocha chocolat-y too? And is the iced version somehow less or not delightful?

The cappuccino is "full-bodied." Ummm, barista training taking over here. If Cappuccino is right next to latte, why would you use 'full-bodied' to describe the beverage that is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 frothed milk (read FOAM here) while the late is 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk. No froth, more body? I dunno, maybe I just wanted to be snarky and barista-snotty.

2) The flavors are vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, or sugar-free* vanilla. Yup, in the post-coffee-gate world you have to remind people that even if they get the sugar-free flavoring, there is still sugar in their sugar-y sweet, AND "DELIGHTFUL" Mocha.

But it might not be chocolat-y!

Holy Moly!

So I write my little food blog because I love to cook, write, and snark. I'm probably best at those things in reverse order.

Today I woke up and rolled through my Saturday morning routine. Coffee; Sportscenter; the new Express: Ready, Set, Go infomercial; Band of Brothers on the History Channel.

And then I hit the Google Reader for my feeds. People and News first. Save the food blogs for last. 10 stories today. One was SeriousEats.com's "This Week's Tasty 10." I was psyched to see joyyy's post on SE'er Food Blogs had made the list. A great thread that let the community the makes SE go talk about what they write and where. I've added three blogs to my feed after going over the list.

And I was a little geeked that joyyy wrote it since she had been the first to comment on my thread last week about getting back in the kitchen.

And then I had to do a double-take.

'Cause there it was.

My post asking for help from the SE foodies on getting back in the kitchen after a prolonged absence brought on by unemployment and getting back on my feet. Number Eight with an interweb bullet.

What an wild sight to see. Totally through me for a loop. Snark aside (I know, I know, it's as hard for me to type it as it is for you to believe it), seeing that on the screen just got me more fired up to do more with this blog.

There will of course be ample discussion of ambrosia and country cookin'.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Food of a Younger Land

What a great find.

If I ever get done with Omnivore's Dilemma, this goes to the top of my list for next.

Big hat tip to Homesick Texan for the find.

I wonder what the WV recipes would be from that era. I bet my grandma and her sisters made it better than most whatever it was.

Reminds me that my Great Uncle is a tangent to this book's creation in my family. Milt was an administrator in the State Park service and National Forest for years. Ran across a lot of the old CCC Camps in his day. So he decided to write about them.

THE C. C. C. CAMPS IN WEST VIRGINIA 1933-1942. By Milton Harr (by the author, Charleston, WV 1992. Pp. 59. $3.95 plus postage and handling.)

This small publication will serve as an authoritative ready reference to the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in West Virginia. The brief introduction describes the camp structure and organization for the sixty-six camp sites located in the state. There is also information on the camp numbering system, types of camps, the process of selecting and ranking enrollees and a description of the average camp buildings and arrangements. Five agencies operated camps in West Virginia. The United States Forest Service had twenty- two camps, the Division of Forestry, Conservation Commission had twenty-six, sixteen on private and ten on state lands, and the State Parks of the same agency had eight camps. The United States Soil Conservation Service operated eleven on private farm lands and the Army Corps of Engineers had one camp located at the Bluestone Reservoir. Mr. Harr provides a brief description of each camp within these classifications, giving its dates of operation, exact location, some of the personnel, and activities performed. At least five of the camps were integrated, one was for black youth only, and only two were for veterans of World War I. The designation system used alerts the reader to each of these, as well as the type of camp. The publication includes handy compilations of all the camps, their type and location. There are also a few photographs and an outline map for site reference.

I'm Famous on the Interwebs

My delicious hospital food is FAMOUS at Hospital Food.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stuffed Pork Loin and Burst Tomato Pasta Salad

Okay, so here's what came of the great "Pick My Meal Plea" of yesterday.

I went to the store. I didn't give in to temptation and order a big, fat, juicy burger with all sorts of goodness on it (though I may today). I didn't cop out and order a pizza. I didn't cop out and buy pre-made pizza crust and top it myself.

No, I went shopping folks. And it felt good.

Staring at the produce section like I was 7 in the Toys 'R Us with my last batch of Christmas cash and one choice to make: Blow the whole wad on the AT-AT walker or piece it out with some figures, some legos, some board games, etc. I pieced then and regretted it (C'mon, friggin' AT-AT Walker!).

This time, a little of this and a little of that was the way to go.

My premise was pork loin. My purpose was stuffing.

Shrooms it was, and the baby bellas were the right price and the right flavor. On to...wait. What's that? Ginger? Yeah, I see where this is going. Where's the garlic? Okay, one more thing. Pivot, turn, scan. Disco! Cilantro to round it out.

Side dish? Zukes look good, I'll saute them with a red onion. Oh, those tomatoes look nice. Grape or Cherry? Ah-ha! Here's where I get to be all Napa-refined Chiarello and get the Cherry tomatoes so I can 'burst' them. (Insert 'put them on a roasting pan with oil, salt, and pepper and roast them on high heat until the skins 'burst' so you can peel it off easily...).

And then...since there aren't any pork loin roasts among the five thousand pre-seasoned with gunk tenderloins, I must wait for the butcher man to get back from break. So I browsed, and picked up wine, and decided the veg was going to be a pasta salad, and browsed more, and looked ONE more time under all the pork tenderloins. And then Josh arrived. Blessed Josh. Butcher-boy extraordinaire, and I was done, and I was heading home.

Okay, let me tell you something. I have not cooked in my apartment in MONTHS. I haven't sliced, chopped, roasted, sauted, baked, stirred, folded, etc. And it SUCKED. I needed green things to slice, aromatics to chop, meat to butterfly and stuff, water to boil, ovens to pre-heat.

God it felt so good to rinse off a roast and butterfly it, then stuff it with ginger, garlic, cilantro, and baby bella mushrooms. That happened while the tomatoes were in the oven bursting and the water was on the stove-top boiling for the pasta. Then the roast went in, the zucchini was sliced and sauted, the tomatoes were peeled, the red onion was sliced, and it all went into the bowl. Acid from the tomato juice would mellow the red onion while the roast cooked. Salt, pepper, and olive oil were the only seasonings in the salad. I al dente a mean pasta.

Run on what? Paragraphs? Yeah, that's me about now.

Chez came over. Krista too after her shift. I forced myself to clean off the coffee table.

Funny aside...came into the living room from around the corner in the kitchen after taking a close-up shot of the roast and showed it to the ladies. Chez looked at me, at the photo, then at the ground and asked "D, what's dripping?" "Oh," I said as I looked down, "I'm dripping onion." Note to selves, clean off elbow room on counter before leaning down to get close-up pork shot.

We ate. It was, in the immortal words of Hibble-Scribble, bangin'. Jesse at the bar thought so too. The immortal Italian-putanesca stallion behind the bar complimented me on the al dente-ness.

The moisture from the shrooms turned the cilantro, ginger, and garlic into what Chez described as a 'relish.' And the word fits as well as any other. Fantastic bright flavors, perfectly done loin roast. A crust on the outside, tender-fine-swine on the inside.

Pasta salad was the simplest thing ever. No mussing and fussing, unless you count that whole 'bursting' thing. But I don't, so you shouldn't, and lets move on to the closing.

Thought about some of the aromatics in the salad, then realized that was thinking too much and getting to complicated. Four ingredients plus salt, pepper, oil, water, and heat. Keep it that way. Maybe some crumbled feta next time if I'm in need of one more thing.

Yes, I forgot to take a plated photo. I just got excited to eat. It was fun. Next time, presentation for the masses will be better. Not sure if the food can be though

[UPDATE] But wait, you know have Full-Plated-Version-Vision thanks to: 1) No doorman or cocktail waitress at Sam's taking up more of the leftovers; and 2) remembering to take my camera home with me at lunch time today so I could get a plated shot of the meal.

Look at that golden crust people. Just look at it. You know you would have torn that apart.

And man, I still have the taste of cilantro and ginger heat. If you think that's gross and un-kissable, we needn't date further!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Teaser Post


Teaser Post
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
Damn that squash and burst tomato pasta salad looks good! Wonder what it's being served with?

Fill My Grocery Cart

Crossposted on SeriousEats.com.

I Haven't Really Shopped for Food in 3 Months

That's right, my fridge has been bare for sooooo long. Unemployment, partial employment, and digging out after finally becoming employed again have sent me into a spiral a occasionally cooking at a party or other shindig, but mostly draining my very well-stocked pantry and eating out at the restaurants at which I've tended bar.

That's going to change tonight. I'm going shopping for my fridge, and I'm going to use the food I buy on my stove in my apartment.

Now I need your help.

What should it be. A food blogger returning to the kitchen after that long a time away. Do I make something fresh and simple like a pasta primavera? Do I grab some lemongrass and red curry paste and get Thai on my groceries? Do I go retro-steak house and pan-roast a T-Bone with some fresh asparagus and a classic baked potato with butter, sour cream, and chives?

Help a brother out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pollan and Colbert

You may have seen this elsewhere already, but in light of my continuing desire to eat more things that are real, I thought I'd share it here too.

And yes, for my GoodReads pals, I am STILL trying to finish Omnivore's Dilemma.

Side note, this is the first time I'd ever seen Pollan. Why am I not surprised he is a hipster-looking, shorn-headed dude from Berkeley who was still cool enough to buy Fruity Pebbles for his son so the little bugger had at least the normalcy of Fruity Pebbles? Remember my waxing-eloquent about the farm house? That's where I got my Cookie Crisp as the one allowed sugary cereal.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Pollan
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Organic in West Virginia and Co-Opting "Local"

There are two articles today that caught my eye and are, I think, inextricably linked.

First, there's this article I'm excited about for severeal reasons.

One, Thomas Clark is Tommy, buddy and fellow bartender in town who is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet in your life. And he loves agriculture. Works his tail off to help West Virginia farmers.

Two, letting folks know they don't need to go through tedious federal regulations to call themselves organic, when they know they're organic, and their neighbors know they're organic, and the county farmer's market knows they're organic...is a good thing.

Three, it's exciting that while WV organic farms seem at first blush to be is short supply, it's probably more likely that they're under-counted in the existing survey tool. And they just started counting in WV last year. So if I'm right to get excited, we'll be seeing many more organic farms in West Virginia.

Finally, I love that Tommy gets to point this out to the reading public:
"But organic farming is nothing new; it's been around for 30 years -- and really, before industrialized agriculture, it was all organic," he added. "The typical organic practices are hundreds of years old."
And Tommy's right when he says:
"We believe that many small farms are not full-time professions in our state. A 'farmer' might be a teacher, a construction worker, something else 40 hours a week, doing something else to pay the bills. They are then doing some sort of ag on the side -- they may have a couple of cows, leasing a field to a neighbor for hay production, direct-marketing produce -- all of those encompass the world of agriculture."
I know some of those small farmers. He's a middle school principal and she is the co-director of a multi-county intensive academic and leadership academy for girls. They have two kids, two jobs, and a farm.

They are exactly the people you want raising your food, educating your kids, and figuring out how to make local places work for local people.

And I expect we'll be reading a lot more about people like them, and will be able to buy better food for myself. Capitol Street Market is grand, but limited to mostly produce. I want to buy meat and cheese from local folks, and have the Charleston Baakery come set up a booth on Saturdays.

Eh...we'll get there.

The second article today is not making me happy. When large corporations co-opt the terms of small -production agriculture to try and maintain market share without really understandingthe broader context of that language, you get things like this.

Lays Potato chips as the next big local food craze. Lays. Lays! Yeah, you. You big massive chipper that you are.

This is what's happening on a national level today.
On Tuesday, five potato farmers rang the bell of the New York Stock Exchange, kicking off a marketing campaign that is trying to position the nation’s best-selling brand of potato chips as local food.

Five different ads will highlight farmers who grow some of the two billion pounds of starchy chipping potatoes the Frito-Lay company uses each year. One is Steve Singleton, who tends 800 acres in Hastings, Fla.

“We grow potatoes in Florida, and Lays makes potato chips in Florida,” he says in the ad. “It’s a pretty good fit.”

Mr. Singleton’s ad and the other four will be shown only in the farmer’s home state. A national spot featuring all five potato farmers begins next week.
Really?

No Mr. Singleton, that's not a good fit. Your co-opting of the language of 'local food' missed this little point:

Local potato chips would be the ones you make at home. You grow or buy potatoes from a local farmer or market, take them home, slice them, and put them in your dutch oven that's full of lard or bacon grease. Then you eat them. That's "local potato chips."

But don't worry intrepid food-sters o' mine, it gets even better/worse (and funnier in a 'they really thought this was a good idea' way).
“This is celebrating the notion of community,” said Dave Skena, vice president for potato-chip marketing of Frito-Lay. “We don’t use the term ‘locally grown’ because that’s a personal issue for so many people.”
If your title is "vice president for potato-chip marketing of Frito-Lay," you are not my source for "celebrating the notion of community."

Moreover, I don't want to celebrate the "notion of community." I want REAL strong communities. The kind that feed themselves, educate themselves, produce for themselves, and are part of an economy that allows them to sustain their community within the larger world.

And yes, haters, you can still have chains and fast food in that world. It just isn't what you should eat everyday. It isn't the jobs you should rely on to build your local economy. You know that already, so quit yur whinin'.

The good and the bad. The Tommy and the VP for potato chip marketing. The yin and the yang.

Hook

This one had been on my list for a long time. Read about it in a foodie mag or newspaper food section and LOVED the idea.

Good fish spots know from what waters their fish arrived. Hook can introduce you to the fisherman who caught what's on your plate.

Add local produce to that, an expert hand at preparation, and a fantastic eye for making raw or cooked fishy LOOK good; and you have a reason to actually make me consider wading through the throngs of Dolce Gabbana-wearing, Banana Republic is my Good Will -shopping, Starbucks if for poor people-coffee drinking Georgetown glitterati.

And let me tell you, with 6:45 reservations, wade you must.

Met Mom for a Mom's day dinner. She was at the bar waiting when I arrived sipping on a Tanqueray Martooni, very dry. When we got to the table I joined in with my standard Maker's Mark Manhattan, up.

The menu has changed since this online version but several of our items are on it.

The Mano de Leon (head of the Lion there, folks) that's listed in the 2nd and 3rd courses is now only a 1st course. I asked if it came in the shell for presentation so I could see what this head of the lion is all about. Sadly, it did not. But that, you fine foodie followers, was one of only three VERY MINOR disappointments all night.

Three preparations on Monday. Long plate with three distinct sections. Two thin slices of raw scallop on each.

Left to right now. Follow me. Sweet Carrot puree. Nice complement to the sweet of the scallop. Scallops with a grapefruit wedge. Trying for the contrast tart and sweet. Grapefruit overpowered the scallop just a wee bit. Nice texture to both components though. Third was a ginger parsley oil. Spice and sweet here, and it worked perfectly.

Mom went Moon fish. Also 2nd and 3rd on the menu above but only a 1st course option on the menu we had. Don't recall her preparations. Maybe she'll chime in in the comments.

Her second was a fresh arugula salad with prosciutto and parmesan. It was clean-plated in short order. Waiter noted, and mom agreed, that the local arugula they got was uber-peppery.

I went Mussels. Blue Mussels. Cooked in white wine and tomatoes. With Merguez! Sooooo many Mussels. If you went into Hook looking for a bargain (and really, don't go here for that), this was it. I couldn't finish all the Mussels. Ate maybe half of them. 2/3-golf ball sized, perfectly cooked, amazingly fresh, a mild flavor that was the perfect foil for that spicy sausage.

In case you can't tell, I really dug the Mussels. I wanted to eat more of them. I wanted to eat ALL of them. But it didn't happen. Because I knew there was more.

Wine was ordered. Mom went Tombo Ahi for dinner and my mild Lingcod was wrapped in bacon. Umm, well prosciutto see. So kinda bacon.

Anyway. Ordered the Ludovicus Celler PiƱol. $42/bottle made it on the lower end of the price scale for a bottle for sure. And don't be afraid to do that. Don't take my word for it. Food & Wine's Lettie Teague does it HERE.

This one was a Garnacha, Tempranillo, Syrah blend. Light-bodied. Good with both entrees. A little spicy too, which I love. I want either a glass of some berry jam of the Zinfandel variety or a glass someone stood over with the pepper mill for a good thirty seconds. This was the latter. Mom and I both looked up and decided to say we really like Tempranillo. If you're still sorting through cabs and merlots, stop. France will be there when you get back. Get an inexpensive Spanish red or two and see what's what.

Right, back to the food. Quickly on the second minor disappointment. Minor enough that we didn't say anything because it really just didn't rise to that level. Tombo Ahi was cooked probably 30 seconds too long. Juuuuust too much crust before you got to the melt in your mouth buttery rare interior. And you really wanted more of that interior. Like another order of the fish.

Prepared with ramps (one of the selling points for Mom ordering it) and roast beets (cinnamon, ginger, few other goodies).

Mine was the Lingcod. Not on your menu above. Alaskan (Thanks Sarah!). Mild, white, flakes so small you couldn't see 'em.

Close your eyes. Wait. If you've never been camping, then nevermind. But you guys that have? Close 'em.

There have been mornings around a campfire when you have pan fried a fish in the same cast iron skillet in which you cooked the bacon. You did cook the bacon, right?

That's this fish. It's every mild white fish from a brook, stream, creek, crick, or river that has ever been perfectly cooked in cast iron over a fire.

It was amazing. Crispy prosciutto, zucchini, tomato, gnocchi. Light in every way.

...

...

...

Okay, I've had my moment.

We skipped dessert since it was getting late (yeah, 6:45 reservation and it was getting late when we finished) and we were both three-coursed out. But they do have DC's pastry chef of the year. So someday soon, when I work up the courage to brave the throngs again, I'll skip a course of seafood and get with the pastry goodness too.

One final note. Prices. I think both Mom and I felt good getting out of there for what we did. The crudo course for $8? That's a great price for such high quality food. $14-ish for the Mussels? Yeah, fast food places could put that on their value menu for the amount of mind-blowing seafood in that bowl. $25-ish for main courses? No problem.

$13 for a Maker's Mark Manhattan and the same for a Tanqueray Martini? Come on guys, I know what your liquor costs are on those bottles. If you're going there, at least get a full pour into the glasses.

There. I said it. Now get over that last graph and remember the luscious preparations, view of the Georgetown-ites bustling by your table, impressive variety of local flavors, and the sustainably caught fishies that make your belly happy.

Hook on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Baked Steak!!!


Baked Steak!!!
Originally uploaded by kitchen geeking
Country cooking at its finest. Classic WV about to get in my belly.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Yuengling Era in West Virginia

Here it is kids. First Yuengling sold on the East End in Charleston.

I'm enjoying it on the deck while the rain holds off. Thank you rain for holding off.

The Battle is Finally Over

I have to post late tonight to let you know that there is a winner. It wasn't a contest you knew about. At least not in any conscious way.

But there has been a battle for years. And finally one has triumphed.

This battle spanned decades. At least two and part of a third for me.

In my youth, it was Kraft. The ubquitous.

In college, for a brief time, there was Velveeta. No Milk needed, so microwave-only cooking was a distinct possibility. Pasta in water. Nuke. Strain. Cheese sauce. No fridge space wasted on Milk. More room for beer.

Then I got over college (and grad school, and got my papers). Really only sophmore year of college was in question. Freshman year was too much cafeteria. Junior year was living in on-campus apartment-style living. Senior year (one semester) was dorm with a kitchen (112 was mine kids).

Then there were the dark years, the time before the rebellion, when I thought there was no need for Macaroni n' Cheese unless I baked it myself.

Lemme tell ya', I was almost right. I bake a MEAN macaroni and cheese.

Really, ask Pearl.

But tonight, I stopped at the local uber-mart and got myself some Velveeta goodness.

In the world of the processed (No, Ron, not the best world), there is a clear winner.

With the parameters of processed cheese with noodles as the the challenge, and Annie's not a participant; there is one clear winner in the "What do I want to eat late at night when only fake cheese and hard little noodles will do."

And it's Velveeta. The creamier, non-milk needing racer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Organic Cherry-Infused Bourbon Mint Julep

Go get some of this at the Bluegrass Kitchen.

Organic Cherry-infused Maker's Mark bourbon. Fresh organic mint. Muddled, crushed ice. Shaken with panache. A touch of confectioner's sugar.

Ummm, dinner could be from the 7-11 pre-packaged microwave section and I wouldn't mind.

Friday, May 1, 2009

When Japanese Companies Move to Town

My friend Sarah works at a new Japanese plastics/high tech chem plant under construction in the Valley and was provided this Japanese-style chex mix at work today.

She and E were lunching at the Tricky Fish and so we opened up the bag. Sarah really wanted culinary student and all-around coolster E and me, you humble (cough, cough, heh) food-blogger pal to try it.

I think Sarah was disappointed there was only one fish in the bag.

I also think E was relieved to see that and to see my hand swoop in after taking the picture to grab said dried-fish 'snack' and pop it in my mouth.

Yes, I ate the fish. It was, in fact, not tasty.

Chalk one up to cultural relativism and move on to your next meal.