Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Dishes

The lesson, btw, is just jump.

Just cleaned the last dishes of the year. Saute pan, sauce pan, and pasta pot. One large plate. One juice glass. One small plate. One fork and one knife. One slotted spoon and one wooden spoon/spatula.

It was wild mushroom and lamb ragu over some wild mushroom ravioli from Trinacria. Trinacria did their job. Flawlessly. Something was amiss with the ragu. I think it was old mushrooms more than operator error.

But it was a reminder that it doesn't always work out the way you want it to. But I'll keep cooking, and probably keep a pretty good average of 'better' dishes. I think the leftover macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and ham that was devoured all over the Avenue was a kind indication that the little old lady trapped inside me does, in fact, have more recipes to share with this particular geek.


Happy New Year to all the Geek-lets, Geek-ettes, and just plain regular 'folk reading.

And if you're looking for another lession...just keep punching...

Travel where you can. Eat what's put in front of you.

And if you have the time, share the story w/ a pal or two.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Day Note, or: Running Tabs on Smoke Alarms

By 7:34am I had already set off the smoke alarm in the kitchen by making bacon for the Bacon, Cheddar, Jalapeno Cornbread. I left the seeds/ribs in one of the jalapenos too so there will be more alarms later!!!

It's not a resolution, but I think starting very soon it is my intention to get back to telling you stories. I've had quite a few that I've taken notes on. I just don't always find the time to polish. And since I know, even on this Christmas day, that your expectations are legendary, I will endeavour to find more time to write (and to put the 'u' back in endeavour, and colour, and such).

UPDATE I: I have made FIRE(y hot bacon, cheddar, jalapeno cornbread)!!!


UPDATE II: Just talked to Mom. They're running a bit late but will be over soon for breakfast and presents! She let slip one of Ms. S's presents and I approve wholeheartedly!!!

Oh, and I have made Hot Curry Pea Dip. You can too. One bag frozen peas (thawed. really. do this. texture is MUCH better if you take the time to thaw them or run them under lukewarm water for a couple minutes), 3-4 scallions, curry powder (start w/ 2 T and go up from there as you like. I had Penzy's Hot Curry Powder today), 1 t salt, 2 T olive oil to start plus a bunch to drizzle. Put it all in the food processor and pulse several times (10-15). Then turn it on and drizzle in the rest of the oil until it looks like a dip you want...


UPDATE III: The Morning After. Ran out of time to cook, chat, mbibe a little, and generally make merry while simul-blogging. So y'all lost out with the updates. But it was grand. There was laughter and ham, stories and fried chicken, toasts and collard greens. The collards, by-the-by, were REALLY GOOD. And Even better when you mixed them up w/ the baked cheese grits! My first ham and my first fried chicken were both pretty good. I even got requests to write down the recipe for the glaze that popped into my head as an amalgam of several other recipes and a bit of creative pondering...

You'll get pictures when I have a few minutes to edit and upload them. That'll be after the Mothergeek and Ms. SWM have had lunch at my favorite local spot and then departed. Until then...


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wawa - Scary Good Evil

OMG.

Hot Turkey w/ Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce on a hoagie roll.

God I love Wawa sandwiches, Sheetz Schmuffins, and Royal Farms fried chicken.

As an evil-genius kinda thing.

You know.

Guilty Pleasures.

Ariana Afghan Restaurant

Another DRAFT post that never had "Publish" hit. Circa 2008-9. Maybe it got incorporated into a larger thread. I don't think so...and I'm too lazy to go back and look. Karl and I have added Bogota and Cartagena, Colombia to our list of trips in addition to criss-crossing the DC Metro Area in search of full bellies. But this was a good night too...




Karl and I are partners in food. It started in Dallas (though we didn't know it at the time). The first dinner at a random tex-mex joint; his introducing me to Fat Tire beer; Rod and Karl and I sitting outside on a cool July evening in Dallas talking and eating. Then the road trip to Mercado Juarez and the heavenly salsa (do you all ship it yet?!?), the fresh tortillas, the tex-mex sauces and chimichangas and burritos and enchiladas.

Then there was Manchester (the Red Arrow), and Anaheim (you remember tacos right), and Denver (where did we eat there?), and now New York City. Karl and I aren't quite as busy as some other pals at the conferences, and we've made an effort to take our time and our money and plow it into exploring the food of the cities in which we find ourselves.

Saturday night we were congregating in the hotel lobby with hordes of other conference-goers. We sorted through options ranging from Creole to Ethiopean, to Columbian and headed out of the hotel with a sheaf of menus printed off by the very helpful concierge, turned right onto 52nd street, and walked over to 9th avenue.

Once there, we decided to walk a two block circuit and then pick our spot. We saw one of the places from the concierge's list (and more on it later) but it appeared small and busy and wait-inducing.

So we headed back up to 52nd and 9th to Ariana, the first thing Karl and I had noticed when we walked onto 9th avenue. As it often does when the two of us get together, we just stumble onto tasty.







Big Mama's House of Soul

How did I not hit publish on this? Wow. From a work trip in 2009. Love these guys and hope they're still doing well.







Big Mama's House of Soul on Urbanspoon

Details

There are some questions even I don't expect to ask in the morning.

This was one of those mornings and one of those questions...

Why is my toast wrapped in a cloth napkin?

Why is it on a small plate sitting on top of the metal serving dome that covered my plate of egg white omelet with shitake, tomato, and spinach served w/ poached pear?

Hey, McFly?

It's so the toast doesn't steam and get soggy under the dome.

Thank you Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay.

You and your staff get it. Consistently.

P.S. The butter wasn't rock solid and right out of the freezer too. I appreciate that. Being able to spread butter on toast is a very good thing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where I Eat These Days - Harry Browne's Fall Menu

Writing hasn't come easily for a while. You've seen that. But I'm still enjoying good food on a regular basis. For the past several weeks, it's been the new fall menu at Harry Browne's (and before that it's been their other seasonal menus since Chef Darren Poole took over). I live around the corner. I work next door. It could just be default. But it's not. Darren's creativity has turned this venerable institution into a fine dining destination. This joint should be a regular spot for everyone in Annapolis who thinks you have to go to DC or Baltimore for well-constructed menus.


In addition to this little Duck Confit over Warm White Bean Salad w/ Balsamic; I've rocked the N.Y. Strip over Langoustine Etouffe w/ Wild Rice. Ruby-red mid-rare strip over sweet, sweet langoustines and a earthy wild rice was a helluva way to enjoy a late night dinner after work.

Duck Breast w/ Duck Confit & Arugula Salad and Butternut Squash Gratin. Please. Stop reading. Go to Annapolis. Get this NOW. Ask if there's enough extra that you can have four portions to go. DO IT NOW!

Lobster & Shrimp over Creamy Saffron Risotto. A simple and elegant dish w/ clean flavors and every grain of rice as perfectly cooked as the crustacean-y goodness sitting on top of them.

The Veal Porterhouse is back w/ a Flintstones Bronto-Steak vengeance. And it's back with Gorgonzola Hash and Sauteed Broccolini.

I haven't managed the Scallops over Chorizo/Fingerling Hash or a Housemade Chorizo Ragu over Saffron Linguine w/ Manchego, Cilantro, and Grilled Crostini. I will...

I can even forgive Darren for pulling his ungodly perfectly cooked and eat-with-your-hands delicious rack of lamb. Have you seen lamb prices recently? Oh, and Darren can still pull a special out of his hat every once in a while (Hey, Darren...hint, hint).

Props to owner Rusty Romo for giving this Young Turk free rein to work his magic w/ the menu. Traditional Salmon "Werthman" named for the restaurant's original customer even gets an accompaniment makeover w/ the new menus each season. This time it's a fried rice cake with sauteed edamame and teryaki glaze.

And there's still the amazing and ubiquitous crabcake, and it's treated w/ the respect that dish should be in The Sailing Capital of the World.

Don't forget, too, that Harry's is one of the few spots around with a pastry chef. Last time I saw her, I told her I wanted to go swimming in a pool full of her Chocolate Pecan Tart w/ Espresso Ice Cream and Pumpkin Caramel. Really, I said it out loud. It was that good...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Thailand: Steaming Bowl of Beef Noodle Soup


Just after the elephant rides and the tiger petting....we caught our breath, stopped sweating profusely from fear of large jungle cats, and asked Seree to take us to his favorite noodle shop in Chiang Mai. It was a large spread out affair with sturdy tables, mixed chairs, steamy soup, and a HUGE crowd of people. We were obviously the only non-Thai in the place but the sounds of slurping and clinking crockery soon overtook weird silent looks at the stupendously large 'Mericans.

They had bags of pork rinds on the table for munching before soup. They had the omnipresent dried chili, fresh chilis in vinegar, sugar, and fish sauce for the souping up of...well...the soup. Lean sirloin, fatty brisket, soft round sausages. As I've said before, there's no comparison to the richness of the broth in these soups. We just don't get broth like they get broth.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Go East Young(ish) Man...Far East

If you all thought no posts meant no food, less food, less interesting food, or less interest in food...

...BOY WERE YOU WRONG.

It's good to have a block of small business owners who form a community w/ the people who live, work, and shop there. In my case, it's because my pal Scott owns a custom suit store and was heading to Bangkok to scope out new vendors. And also because he was crazy enough to ask me to come with him. So here's little bits of a week in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

First night. Land at about 11:30 in Bangkok after 23 hours on planes and in airports. Restaurants may be open, but we're braindead. And there's a 7-11 on every friggin' corner in Bangkok. So it's prawn chips, a faux-Korean BBQ Chicken-flavored cracker, and a bizarre purple-Taro-goo-filled roll.

And then sleep!

Leave it to me to find a Mexican joint in Bangkok! Pork torta for lunch on day one. Somewhere near the US Embassy (and amusingly the Vietnamese Embassy across the street from the US ambassdor's residence.

On your way from the hotel to a Sunday Muay Thai fight and your driver says go see Wat Pho and the reclining buddha? Sure.

Yeah. He's 6'7".

It's hundreds of feet long and dozens of feet tall. And the soles of the feets are covered in Mother of Pearl scroll work and pictures.

Portrait of a westerner in the courtyard of Wat Pho.

A slightly discomfortingly young Muay Thai fighter offers prayers before a bout.

Feels good to win.

Meat on stick is GOOD!

Bowls of beef noodle soup at 2am is better. Sausages, brisket, filet and noodles swimming in a rediculously rich, deep broth. This was my default meal for a week...and I will miss it dearly until I get back to SE Asia.

Chicken noodle soup, Thai-style. Funky rust-colored bricks? Yeah, congealed chicken blood. Not terrible at all. Strange to get your head around, but tasty. I finally tasted what people meant when they described organ meats as minerally. Texture like a very smooth, soft sausage.

BEST. FRIED. CHICKEN. EVER.

When you don't raise chickens to have no fat and 10-pound breasts, you get real chicken. And it is unreal. Sinfully delicious. Tender meat and crispy skin held together with a barely set layer of fat.

Catfish in Chao Phraya River. Crazy buggers get fed a steady diet of tourist-flung dog food sold by a small temple to raise money.

Oh. My. God. More beef noodle soup on the way to a riverboat tour north of Bangkok.

Ka Pao Gai w/ fried eggs.

Noodle soup money shot.

Roast Pork w/ Kaffir Lime Leaves.

On the Chao Phraya north of Bangkok.

 Terra Cotta masks.

Frying chicken and pork bits. Including balls of chicken...balls. This is NOT something I'll try again.

Here, piggy, piggy. Chinatown in Bangkok.

Grilling fried dough.

Hello, Chinese doughnuts. Hello green coconut sauce, chocolate sauce, and strawberry jam.

Damnoen Saduak floating market.

Pomelos at the floating market.

Side canal, Damnoen Saduak.

Soup on a boat!

Pork and Shrimp noodle soup.

Outside the Emerald Buddha statue at the Thai Royal Palace.

Panel at the Royal Palace.

Coconut fried chicken nuggets.

Meat-on-stick-opolis.

Candy night in Bangkok.

Even the Thai have hot pockets.

Some things just don't translate well.

Cab rides. No goats (or water buffalo), automatic weapons, sex, wolves, pump soap dispensers, durian, or smoking. VERY Specific.

Cooking lesson in Chiang Mai. Crushing garlic and Thai bird chilis.

Stir-frying pork and the crush garlic/chili mixture w/ a little fish sauce.

Chilis.

Thai basil.

Ka Pao Mhu.

Ka Poa Mhu Fried Rice w/ Fried Eggs.

Longan.

 Longan interior. Grape texture and flavor under a thin layer of bark with one large interior seed.

Breakfast of champions. Rice porridge w/ sausage served w/ sides of fresh ginger, cilantro, crispy shallots, and chili in vinegar.

Yeah. I did that.

 Cute little guy. Sleepy tigers are safe tigers.

Ummm. Some people just call me crazy!

Noodle soup w/ tripe.

Ubiquity, beef noodle soup is thy Thai nickname!

 Kitchengeek-Ball! Chiang Mai.

Snakehead fish in soy. Not scary at all. Sweet, white, flaky fish. Lots of small bones. Worth picking through.

Still scary looking!

Night market. Chiang Mai.

Khao Soy. A heartier noodle soup w/ thick egg noodles and crunchy noodles in a thick broth often spiced w/ curry.

Soup to go. Noodles out of the bag first, then soup.

It comes w/ pickled cabbage and red onion.

Dragonfruit.

Narita. Preparing eel for the lunch rush.

Three-storied Pagoda at the Narita Temple.

Narita. On the way home. More noodles. Udon this time. Thank god for other cultures in which even food at the airports is good. Shame on us for accepting bad food when we travel.

Tempura, miso soup, rice. Narita airport.

The end of a trip.

Look, this isn't even a tenth of the photos I took on this trip.

I'm tall (6'3") and large (we'll keep that sufficiently vague). Going here was worth spending almost 24 hours on a plane to see.

It was foreign in every good sense of the word.

Good news for you? Thai food in the US tastes exactly like Thai food in Thailand. So go get some.