Tag Archives: food

Gone Baby Gone

23 Oct

Maybe you’ve noticed but it’s been since March that I’ve posted on this blog and that is for several reasons/excuses. I got a full-time job, I was learning about marketing at my job and become completely immersed in that while channeling my writing juices into my company’s blog, and then I got on a serious budget which stopped my cash flow into adventurous cooking and cocktail/beer explorations. That said, in the interim I discovered how much I loved Twitter, then dumped it for Google+.

My refocused energies mean I’ve decided to start a rotating small plates club (way better than book club), try running a 5K/8K this year, retire this blog and move it to Google+, rev up my Italian and get my groove back. Any and all interested in joining me on my little adventure, heave ho!

Get recipes, tips, stories and great pics from fellow foodies here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/

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Williamsburg you old dog you.

1 Nov

This past weekend I traveled to Hampton, Virginia to see Disco Biscuits and String Cheese Incident for Hulaween 2010. As an added bonus I got to visit my brother a bit too which meant we had some great food. Before stopping at his house I picked up a 750 of Allagash Black, the brewery’s new Belgian style stout (they’re based in Portland, ME and I haven’t seen their bottles anywhere in Ohio yet). Some Terrapin Hopsecutioner and Hop Karma IPAs out of Athens, GA and a smoked cheese and another great creamy and nutty cheese called Pyreness. Scrumdiddlyumptious to say the least.

This was all a prelude to lunch with my brother at The Blue Talon Bistro – a French comfort food restaurant in colonial Williamsburg with Redmarker Ale on draft and a reasonably priced and decent wine list with a very nice Malbec by the glass. Paired that with a delicious brandade – think artichoke spinach dip in steroids and but no artichokes or spinach but instead … SALTED COD, ohhhh yes please. To follow a delightful green salad and a blackened fish Reuben.

Needless to say, when I ran out of crostini to scoop up the brandade, I started slathering on my sandwich. Thanks to colonial Williamsburg for yet another delicious meal.

I ♥ U FALL

17 Sep

About a month ago I got made fun of for wearing a sweater and jeans in 80° weather.  This is a yearly problem for me come the end of August.  I am just itching to get into sweaters, jeans, boots and maybe a jacket.  Fall is my favorite season hands down.  Our family orchard is in full swing, the trees dripping with fruit ripe for the picking.  Maybe being a part of this family means a certain genetic predisposition to love this season but it can’t be helped.  Honey crisp, Gala, Elstar, Swiss Gourment, Mollie’s Delicious and McIntosh’s are all jumping off the trees into our hands for enjoyment.  The leaves will soon start to turn, mimicking the fruit they bear; some a little green with a flash of scarlet racing across the skin.  Today I stopped by the orchard to snag my favorite apples — the more old-fashioned varietals — Elstar and Swiss Gourmet.  The first bite I popped off the Elstar created a heart shape and I couldn’t help but chuckle.  I guess they learn after 125 years on the same orchard.  How well the apple knew its consumer.

Nostalgia Beat: Tuna

15 Sep

Tuna is a crazy overfished…fish.  It’s enormous.  Way bigger than the little tin can or convenient foil pouch you scratch the flakes out of, this fish has dominated American life from cradle to grave.  As a kid, I loved eating the sandwiches on hikes with my Dad and at home for a change from PB&J (a life partner) with my mom.  High school provided the warm cat-food smelling tuna casserole that I actually adored and devoured.  At college, Middle Ground Café made a zesty refresher course of traditional mayo/celery/chicken of the sea by replacing mayo for vinaigrette and opting for ginger instead of celery.

Coming back from the whirlwind of graduation, I found myself sleeping for a week, watching Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and listening to 90’s songs.  But I also was eating a lot of tuna.  Was it the protein I was so lacking at school for 4 years or a shameless wallowing in nostalgia for the good ol’ days?  Frankly I don’t care, and I can’t stop eating the stuff.  It’s become my on-the-go snack on my road trips to Chicago so I don’t have to kill myself with McDonald’s or the incredulity of the KFC Express/Pizza Hut.  I love it plain from the pouch with a fork, in salads, in lettuce wraps, on English Muffins, in a bowl with Miracle Whip and a hefty portion of mace or on a sandwich with my own arugula/radishes/blueberries and cheese.

Whichever way you cut it, the world and I are going to have a hard time if this great fish disappears and yellowfin isn’t going to be the answer.

Chinato

5 Aug

“Zack Bruell be my boyfriend, are you married?”

“I want to be best friends with lardo.”

These were the one-liners rolling off my tongue as I ate bite after bite of excruating beauty at Chinato, on E. 4th Street.  I’ve lived in Milan, my mother has lived in Bologna and Florence but an evening at Chinato brought us almost to tears.  Here was Italian food, dare I say, better than or on par with the pinnacle of Italian gastronomy in Italy.  The price point is well, on point!  I ate here again just tonight with a friend and with a crudo, an antipasto, an entree, a dessert, a cocktail and a glass of wine WITH tip and tax was $52.  Not to mention the service was outstanding (our waiter from a few weeks ago was our waiter again and remembered us), the wine choices impeccable, we were visited by the chef himself and treated to Damilano Chinato (a digestif) following our meal.

We started with a crudo, tuna with lardo and our hearts melted a little.  My mind was racing to figure out how I could make and eat lardo every day, even if that meant my body would take the name and shape of the delicious slivers that were melting in my mouth.

Next we shared the fresh sauteed sardines with parsley, olive oil and lemon — the nostalgia of eating fresh fried sardines in Genoa when I was 20 washed over me and pulled me, like the strong oceanic undertow, back to that fleeting moment.  After, an exquisite salad of julienned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, arugula, goat cheese, roasted turnips and balsamic dressing.  I don’t even want to describe the dish because then it’ll just give away the ending.

Our entrees: for me, the fritto misto of sweetbreads with fried caper berries (our country is at least a trillion light years behind every country when it comes to our definition of bar food — because this would blow those pee covered pretzels and peanuts at the bar out of the water), for my mother the veal breast with polenta unlike any kind of polenta you’ve ever had and salsa verde (parsley, olive oil, anchovies).

Dessert was the best almond panna cotta I’ve tasted and also a lemon polenta cake with a scoop of cherry gelato.  This is Italian comfort food, the peasant food, the cheap cuts of meat or fish and making the most out of them by perfecting the cooking technique, letting ingredients speak for themselves and coaxing flavor out of tough cuts.  The result is something like magic.

I’ve taken to listening to TED podcasts in my car on the way to work, and they have a great catch phrase: “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  Recently I came across one that just spoke to me so clearly.  This time it was Chip Conley, who spoke about how we should re-evaluate what we value: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or GNH … Gross National Happiness.  Surely, a restaurant such as Chinato is a focused human lesson in what we should appreciate and what counts.  What is the logical outcome of people loving what they do and creating what they love for others’ enjoyment?  An intangible measurement, with a very tangible result.  I don’t think it folley to say the lessons in Chinato are ideas worth spreading.

Drool Worthy

24 Jun

Between the Travel Channel, TLC and the Food Network, I don’t know which channel to blame for making me ravenously hungry at inconveniently late hours.  And they always seem to coincide with an empty fridge, lack of cakes and absence of gargantuan novelty menu items in my home.  Such a bummer for me.  Anyways, Man v. Food is a show that can either turn my stomach in that I’m-about-to-hurl way OR it turns my appetite on in a big fat way.

He recently came to Melt Bar and Grilled in Lakewood and I missed the show.  But whatever, because I’ve had the pleasure of eating there in person already, dying and going to Heaven.  I’d tried once at their new Cedar Road location but the wait was so long even at 9:30 pm on a Thursday that I bailed for another night and their original location on Detroit Ave. It was a religious experience to say the least.  I ordered the Smoky Russian — don’t worry I knew what I wanted before I got there because I’d already perused the menu online about 20 times, while I mopped the drool off my face.

photo courtesy of KH

The sandwich alone is ridiculously good, like I don’t want to talk to you until I’m done with this good.  The kind of good that makes you chuckle to yourself because you’re so happy and you can’t believe you have the good fortune to be eating this right now good.  But the sandwich is part of a trifecta: the vodka kraut slaw with pickles on top and double fried fries complete the plate, beautifully complimenting its buddies.  The beer selection is also very good, obviously not close to the Beer Engine’s offerings but still very respectable.  The ambiance reminded me of my dorm rooms: Cranberries playing, plastic light-up lawn ornaments over the bar and a Miss Pac Man cooler for bottled beer.  Not to mention the really beautiful blue pressed tin ceiling.  If this place isn’t on your list; you’re either crazy, stupid or have just had open heart surgery and don’t wanna push it.  I repeat:  DROOOOOOOOL WORTHY.

photo courtesy of KH

Eat You UP

9 Apr

There’s that song out by BoA called Eat You Up and I couldn’t help but think of the new Jamie Oliver show on ABC called Food Revolution, wherein, Jamie tries to salvage the city of Huntington, VA from literally consuming itself.  Closer to home than Texas, this city was recently labeled the most obese in the nation.  As a Northerner/Midwesterner, we/I like to think that the truly obese reside in the South which I guess includes Virginia but geographically it’s too close to home for me.  As Jamie tours the public elementary school’s lunchroom, kitchen and classrooms you immediately get a clear picture of the deterioration of food education in this country.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents were both college and graduate school educated who valued food, taught and exposed us to all types of food even in utero.  So when I watched a little boy look at a potato and have no idea what it is, then look at a french fry and know exactly what it’s called I almost barfed.  In a world where a french fry counts as a vegetable in public school lunch programs, it’s pretty easy to see why Michelle Obama is dedicated to reform and raising awareness.

Eating well has become a moniker for the privileged.  However, eating well did not used to mean expensive, it meant eating fresh and local.  The advancement of fast food, processed snacks, beverages and the industrialization of the meat market has created a vacuum into which marketers and large companies stepped in to offer up cheaper substitutes.  When you read literature on families living with Welfare, part of the discussion is overwhelmingly devoted to feeding the family and the choices available to them: it should be a crime that a liter of Coca-Cola is cheaper than a gallon of milk — this marketing targets the underprivileged and inflates the obesity numbers and unhealthy in our country.

Besides putting me on the verge of tears, Jamie Oliver’s show made me give thanks for the progressive stance of my private elementary and middle school.  Obviously as a private school they are not as subject to the strict dietary and regulatory guidelines as public schools.  In the heart of the most visited national park in the States, the school has always put kids and food education together starting in preschool up through eighth grade, advocating local foods and sustainability.  Now they sport a “Living Machine” which serves to clean the school’s wastewater and a classroom to educate children in the greenhouse.  The challenge becomes greater when you move to urban schools who are not as fortunate to have a rural environment in which to learn.  Hopefully, with more education and the dedication of groups and individuals the heinous state of food in our schools can become a beacon of reform for the rest of our country.

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