Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Meal of Thanksgiving

This is the Thanksgiving meal I made for myself: turkey, brussel sprouts, corn pudding, cranberry sauce. I used this meal to remind myself to be thankful for everything. Sometimes it takes a special occasion to remind us of the the importance of every day.

Squash and Carrot Soup

I finally had a chance to make something that I've been thinking about for awhile, namely squash and carrot soup. It's a comforting meal on a cold day.

I started by cooking down the squash, carrots, an onion, and a little ginger for zing. After a few minutes, I added chicken stock and let it all simmer.

Once everything was cooked, into the blender it went.

The blended vegetables went back into the pan for cream, a little nutmeg, and some pepper.

Here is the result. It was just rich enough to satisfy. All the flavor of the vegetables came through wonderfully.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Update: Hop's Chicken

Helen and I made a Gang of Food visit to Hop's Chicken to try their fried chicken. They sell it by the piece, a half bird, or a whole bird. Here is a breast: very moist and tender; crust is crispy but not extra crispy. It was excellent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pittsburgh: Eleven

My CMU friends treated me to a wonderful dinner at Eleven. The food was outstanding and the wonderful atmosphere gave us the perfect chance to reminsce.

We started with a selection of breads. I chose the cherry bread, which added a fairly subtle touch since the bread wasn't sweet.

My first course was the squasy soup. It was rich but very well balanced between cream and squash and it was perfectly seasoned.

Phil's first course was the crabcake which also came with a small potato and a few other items. Phil enjoyed it but said that the crabcake came with a full dose of Old Bay.

My bread for the main course was salted focaccia. My main course was this amazing beef tenderloin. I was drawn to order it by the promise of bone marrow. But the Flintstone bone spanning the plate was an impressive surprise. The meat was superb. The marrow was excellent (although probably not the best marrow I've ever had but, hey, how often do you get bone marrow?). This dish was a huge success both in terms of flavor and style.

For dessert, I ordered the dark chocolate cake. It was very good although not quite the chocolate orgy I was hoping for. Chocolate and beef make an excellent pairing for some reason..l


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chamblee: Pan Chapin

I was in the mood to get out of the house. I decided to try Pan Chapin, a small place on the second floor of Intown Plaza on Buford Highway. What I found was a combination Hispanic bakery and convenience store: baked goods and a few tables on one side; sardines, chewing gum, and phone cards on the other. The ordering system is standard: grab a tray and some tongs, put what you want on the tray, head to the counter to pay. My inability to speak Spanish made things interesting but hand-waving goes a long way in these situations.

I started off with the sugar roll. It was a fun little treat that was just sweet enough. I saved the plain roll until dinner. It reminded me a little of Italian rolls: good carmelized crust covering a pillowy center.

Chamblee: Saigon Tofu

Saigon Tofu is in the newly renovated shopping center on Buford Highway that also houses City Farmers Market. I really enjoyed my lunch.

For some reason, I didn't take the words "To Go" on the sign seriously. I expected at least some tables. But these folks mean what they say. As you can see, the store has two long counters of serve-yourself food. Some is hot, some cold. Some is vegetarian, some is meat or fish. They also serve made-to-order sandwiches.

I took my food home and enjoyed it at my table. My vegetarian spring roll was good but the fried spicy tofu was the real hit. A sign in the restaurant explains that they make their own tofu fresh daily; several gallon jugs of soy milk attested to their diligence. Tofu has an often well-earned reputation for blandness but this tofu offered a complex of interesting flavors: milky from the soy; a bit of heat from the chilis sprinkled through the tofu; and savoriness from the frying. Really great stuff and so filling that I had to take a nap.

And here's the punch line: this very filling lunch cost me only $1.60.

Saigon Tofu

Saturday, November 14, 2015

City Farmers Market

City Farmers Market is the new market on Buford Highway in Chamblee, taking over and radically renovating the former location of a flea market. The store is very nicely appointed. Speakers played "Mr. Grinch" as I walked in, an interesting choice that, along with the fancy architecture, gave it a bit of an amusement park feel. The market is very large and well-appointed. As tradition dictates, aisles are marked by nationality. The produce section includes a wide variety of items whose use I don't fully understand. The large meat counter includes some items whose function I do understand ("beef pizzles"). The fish counter is very large and well-appointed. I picked up a couple of cans of coconut milk and I will think about some interesting dishes that I could make from items I pick up on my next visit.