Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Update: One Flew South at ATL

Thanksgiving is a hectic time of year to fly. For those of you traveling this year, the traffic into ATL's south terminal was backed up for perhaps a mile, and it's only Tuesday. I thought that a nice meal would be a good way to prepare me for a long trip. I headed to One Flew South in Terminal E. It is very well known as great food, not just airport food. I haven't visited here in quite some time.

My chicken soup proved to be a delightful surprise. I had naively assumed that the soup would be close to the traditional Southern comfort food. It was, in fact, a mix of influences. The noodles were thin Japanese noodles, which makes sense given their large sushi menu. The great broth thin, not thickened as is traditional, and was spiced with cardamom, a very bold choice that worked well. The soup and my main course were delivered at the same time, but I guess they do that to be sure that patrons can finish in time to make their flight.

The pork belly had a hint of Japanese in the sauce but hewed closer to Southern tradition. It was succulent with just a bit of doneness around the edge. The belly had plenty of meat and I sure loved that fat. Great food and very gracious service prepared me well for my trip.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Buttermilk Donuts

What better use for extra buttermilk than donuts? I used a recipe from the King Arthur cookbook. This is the mise en place---the recipe calls for rolling out the dough.

Here are the admittedly inconsistent results of cutting out some donuts.

Here they are in the oil.

And here they are after a turn. Chopsticks make perfect tools for handling donuts.

And here are the tasty results.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Decatur: Louisiana Bistreaux

Louisiana Bistreaux is located in the Wal-Mart center in Decatur. I have passed their College Park location many times but this is the first time I have eaten at one of their restaurants. We started with a small service snafu but everyone recovered very gracefully.

My meal started with a hunk of warm, soft bread. I indulged in some butter.

This is my eggplant Ponchatrain: a thick hunk of eggplant, breaded, and fried. The sauce was very buttery---a pleasant surprise. The potatoes were nicely roasted and gave a great hearty complement to the eggplant. This was a very satisfying meal in both substance and taste.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Steak au Poivre

Steak au poivre is, in my view, the best way to enjoy a steak without a grill. It isn’t hard to do.

I used the bottom edge of a pan to crack some peppercorns. I then pressed both sides of the steak into them to coat. I cooked the steak on each side in a pan with some olive oil and butter. The oil helps to ensure that the steak sears but doesn’t stick. When it was done, I put the steak under a foil tent. I then poured out the excess oil from the pan, trying to keep as many peppercorn pieces as possible in the pan.

I added a healthy dose of Kentucky bourbon, enough to cover the pan. The bourbon deglazes the pan and provides a very rich flavor. I’ve tried this sauce without the bourbon and it isn’t nearly as interesting.

I then added a good dose of heavy cream and cooked the sauce down until it could coat the back of a spoon.

Finally, I poured it onto the steak and enjoyed. I recommend a nice piece of bread to sop up that rich, flavorful sauce.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Chicken Thigh Tenders

I decided to make some chicken tenders for dinner using thighs. Not only are the thighs a lot cheaper than breasts, they are also tastier. They are, however, harder to butcher. After taking out bone, tendons, and silverskin, my limited skills leave me with a few larger pieces and many smaller bits of thigh. That's why I decided to call these tenders.

Here is my breading line: first flour, then milk, then bread crumbs.

I first browned them on the stovetop in my trusty cast iron pan.

I then finished the nuggets in the oven for about 15 minutes. I served them with some tomato sauce. They were, in fact, much more flavorful than the manufactured variety and really not all that much trouble to make.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Costa Mesa CA: Darya

Darya is in one of the satellite malls around South Coast Plaza. I stumbled across this gem one evening many years ago when I couldn't get into one of the other, more boring restaurants. It combines outstanding food, elegant surroundings, and very gracious service. This Persian restaurant has a reputation with Persians I know on the other side of the country. I have long considered it one of the best restaurants in Orange County. While I was tempted by the fesenjon, a walnut pomegranate sauce I have had before, I went with the four course meal.

The bread is very thin, much more so than a pita. It tastes great by itself but also comes in handy for the next course.

This eggplant, rich in both smoked flavor and texture, is a great excuse to dip that bread.

The Persian salad was very crisp and tart. It made a great complement to the eggplant.

Lamb is something I don't eat every day and I really enjoyed my main course. The meat was medium rare, tender and juicy, yielding gently to the fork and knife. I really enjoyed the roasted tomato, slightly charred but still firm. The rice was comforting and elegant.

I ended my meal with this wonderful fruit custard and a cup of decaf.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Irvine CA: Il Fornaio

Il Fornaio is a chain, I know, but one that I enjoy when I travel. A nice dinner with good service takes the edge off a long trip. The consistency of a chain adds to the comfort it providesl

The meal starts with good, fresh bread. These slices had olives embedded which gave a very nice salty note.

This is my chicken pepperocino. The chicken is basically a spatchcocked pair of airline breasts that had been nicely roasted. The pepper sauce sneaks up on you. It starts off creamy but gives you a nice buzz after about 10 seconds. The spinach was tender but not overcooked. The potatoes were well roasted and a very comforting side.