Friday, July 31, 2015

Doraville: Mamak

I just tried a wonderful dish at Mamak named Yong Tau Foo. Based on the description, I thought it would be a simple and homey dish, but it was actually quite sophisticated. As you can see from the photo, it has three distinct components. Two large cubes of soft tofu were capped with some fish stuffing. They absorbed the sauce very well and the softness of the tofu was comforting. A pair of peppers stuffed with fish and shrimp paste was at the opposite end of the scale---hot in that sneaky, wait for 5 seconds before it hits kind of way. And the pair of stuffed eggplant slices were in the middle, the eggplant nicely conveying the flavor of both the stuffing and the sauce. I really enjoyed all the flavors in this dish. And it was a very satisfying meal.

Mamak Malaysian Kitchen

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Boulder CO: The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House

Karl and Rhonda introduced me to a gem of Boulder, the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. The building is a gift from Boulder's sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. As you can see from the photo below, the building is decorated ground-to-roof with handmade tile sculptures. The amount of work required to create these ceramics is astonishing; the care with which they were transported half way around the world is impressive.

The restaurant presents a world cuisine, as you will see from our dishes.

The meal started with an egg-dough bread served with olive oil.

Rhonda and I enjoyed the cheese soup which, as Karl pointed out, is not an obvious dish for a tea house but illustrates their commitment to world cuisine. Some cheese soups can be heavy and overbearing, but this soup hit the sweet spot for flavor and consistency.

These are my Indonesian noodles with peanut sauce. The sauce had a medium heat kick to it that goes very well with the peanuts.

This is Rhonda's tamarind shrimp, which she said was excellent.

And this is Karl's tagliatelle (world cuisine, indeed), which he clearly enjoyed.

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Flowers and Flour

Cathy and I had to check out Flowers and Flour just based on the name. It is located in Auraria near the light rail track.

This is primarily a florist but they also sell baked goods from a variety of local bakers. I had to try the white chocolate cookie, which was very enjoyable.

Denver: Osteria Marco

Cathy and I spent a very enjoyable dinner at Osteria Marco. It's located in Larmier Square, a hopping location even on a Monday evening. The restaurant has an entrance and a few tables at street level, but the main room is downstairs. It's a huge room with a big ceiling that manages to be both very inviting and not overly loud. The menu features a wide variety of Italian items: antipasti, salads, pizzas, and main courses.

We started with a cheese and meat plate that was wonderful. It's hard to pinpoint which item I enjoyed most, but the speck was very intruging and quite subtle. The plate gave us a good chance to try several items without filling us up before dinner arrived.

Cathy ordered the short rib, a truly outstanding dish. It was extremely tender and superbly flavorful. It came in a canellini bean preparation that was a great complement both in flavor and texture.

I ordered the vegetable risotto. I am always tempted when risotto is on the menu. Cathy and I agreed that this is one of the best risotto dishes we have ever tried. The vegetables were superb, with very distinct flavors and soft texture. They complemented the risotto perfectly but didn't disappear into the rice. The risotto was also the perfect combination of creaminess and toothiness.

For dessert, we tried the chocolate hazelnut cake and peach cobbler. Both were great but we agreed that the peach cobbler was the big hit. Of course, this is peach season so the peach itself was wonderful, with everything else working together very well.

Osteria Marco

Denver: Spinelli's Market

Cathy introduced me to Spinelli's Market in Park Hill. It's a real market with groceries. The meatl counter also serves as a sandwich counter that provides some excellent food.

This is my classic Italian sub. As you can see, it's a big, thick sandwich that makes a very satisfying meal. It included three meats, all excellent, as well as some great Provolone cheese. The pickled red peppers are a classic touch. The bread was outstanding: the crust was crunchy with a nice caramel note; the crumb was soft and very wheaty.

This is half of Cathy's sandwich, which featured chicken. She reports that it was ecellent.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sandy Springs: Galla's Pizza

Galla's Pizza is a local chain. The Sandy Springs location is the younger sibling to the original Brookhaven location. I have eaten at both locations many times and enjoyed their food every time\.

Today, I tried something different and ordered the veggie sandwich, which I really enjoyed. Unlike many vegetable sandwiches, this one had all cooked ingredients. The cooked spinach melted together with the cheese to make a surprising and wonderful combination. The hot sandwich was very savory and satisfying.

Galla's Pizza

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Des Moines: University Library Cafe

The University Library Cafe is down the street from Drake University. It has been a local bar for many years. The current iteration has some excellent food. I have heard great things about their nachos, but I was able to try them for their weekend breakfast.

As you can see from the decor, students can reasonably tell their parents that they are sitting among books. But perhaps they shouldn't mention the dancing beer cans on the wall.

I started with a side of one pancake. This is on my top 10 pancakes list. It was beautiful, thick, and tasted great.

I ordered the three cheese omelette, which was excellent. The cheeses came from the local cheese shop. One was a brie, I'm not sure about the others. It also included a healthy serving of ham as well as three eggs. The roasted potatoes were also excellent---amazingly tasty.

University Library Cafe

Friday, July 24, 2015

Des Moines: Patton's Restaurant

Patton's has received national attention, including Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, for two very good reasons: superb food and outstanding atmosphere.

We visited for lunch, which was served as a buffet. Everything on my plate was so good that I hesitate to pick out a favorite. The catfish was tender and sweet with a perfect cornmeal crust. The rice and beans (with pork, of course) was superb with a good kick of spice. The mac and cheese was creamy with a nice crunchy garnish. The corn was simple but very sweet. The cornbread was moist and rich like a cake. I didn't grab a piece of the red velvet waffle, which together with the catfish made an interesting spin on chicken and waffles.

The hospitality at the restaurant is very Southern---Mrs. Patton is from Columbus, Georgia. They understand sweet and unsweet tea, very Southern concepts. Although we were there on a Friday, the atmosphere was Sunday brunch, with people visiting with each other all the time. We had a very nice conversation with the people sitting next to us. When I mentioned this to Mrs. Patton, she said "We do that on purpose. You can't come here without talking to someone." She is a gifted chef and a wonderful hostess.

Pattons Restaurant

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Amana IA: Ronnenburg Restaurant

We had an outstanding meal at the Ronnenburg Restaurant in Amana. The restaurant is located in one of the old communal dining halls from the early days of the colony. The decor is low-key but very nice. The service was extremely warm and helpful.

The meal started with bread for everyone; my meal also came with an excellent creamy cole slaw. This plate shows the white bread. We also were served rye bread, which was everyone's favorite.

I ordered sauerbraten, a dish that isn't easy to find in the U. S. but is very popular in Germany. The meat was tender very flavorful. The sauce had just a bit of sour that was a wonderful touch. The sauerkraut on the side was superb. The green beans were also excellent.

I ordered a piece of rhubarb pie. The filling was outstanding and the crust was among the best I've ever had. Mom ordered the five-berry pie, which was amazing.

Ronnenburg Restaurant

Kalona IA: JW's Foods

We took a drive on a beautiful day to Kalona and had a very enjoyable lunch at JW's Foods. Kalona is a small town about 20 miles south of I-80 year Iowa City. The area seems to be a mix of Amish and Mennonite. JW's foods is a grocery store with a restaurant inside; it is located at the edge of town near the grain silos. The service was very helpful and friendly. The food was pretty darn good.

I couldn't resist the tenderloin sandwich and I wasn't disappointed. As is traditional for these sandwiches, the tenderloin hangs out well over the bun. The pork tender was tasty and tender with excellent breading.

Debbie had a beautiful turkey sandwich handmade from the deli. She reports that everything, from the bread to the meat, was outstanding.

Des Moines: Jethro's BBQ

We had a great lunch at Jethro's---the original location near Drake University. It was after the standard lunch time, so the restaurant was fairly quiet, but I understand that the place is hopping during lunch. Our service was very friendly and attentive.

I ordered the dinner for two to share: a half chicken and half rack of ribs. Everything was great. The rib meat falls off the bones. The chicken was very moist and tender. The onion rings were probably everyone's favorite. The jalapeno corn had a nice zing to it---very tasty. The cornbread was very moist. The photo doesn't convey the huge size of the plate and the portions. Amazingly, most of this food was gone by the end of the meal, a testimony to its tastiness.

Jethro's BBQ

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Des Moines: Flix Brewhouse

I was very disappointed with my service at Flix Brewhouse. To make a long story short, the server was very inattentive, the order was mis-executed, and management was indifferent.

Here is my mac and cheese. I can't be too specific about its qualities since I had to let it sit until the rest of our order came. It wasn't bad but I wish I had been able to eat it fresh out of the oven.

I have two more observations about the Flix procedures. First, their procedure of handing out checks during the movie is distracting---other movie dining chains take care of business before the movie starts. Second, the tablets their staff used for ordering seemed to have complicated menu systems for the staff and my waitperson had to reboot the tablet (Windows in case you keep score) during the middle of my order.

Des Moines: Snookie's Malt Shop

Snookie's Malt Shop is a summer institution in the Beaverdale neighborhood. It's an old-fashioned ice cream stand with great atmosphere.

In addition to outside seating, they have a large indoor seating area with all sorts of books and knick-knacks.

We all ordered hot dogs with mustard and relish, which hit the mark.

I ordered a chocolate malt (hey, it's a malt shop, after all). A real malt is relatively hard to find these days and I really enjoyed it. The cookie was a nice touch.

Mom and Debbie ordered sundaes. Those are banana slices around the middle, with the hot fudge on the bottom. Everyone was extremely satisfied.

Des Moines: Donut Hut

Donut Hut has been on Douglas for years. After a visit, I can see why it is well known.

Here is the owner with the main assortment of donuts. They also have a case of fancy iced cakes and cupcakes plus another case filled with massive bear claws and sweet rolls.

Here is my double chocolate and coffee. The donut was wonderfully tender. The glaze was perfect. I took my time to savor it with sips of coffee.