Sunday, November 29, 2015

Beef Bourgigone

I was in the mood for beef. Beef bourgigone seemed like the perfect antidote. I used the recipe from the Culinary Institute of America's Professional Cookbook. Here it is after several hours of cooking. I used at least three cups of beef stock in this dish so you can imagine how beefy the sauce tasted. I used a piece of bread to sop up every drop.

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

ELEVEN

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.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

OMG Dept.: McGold Card

As described in this AV Club post, there is such a thing as a McDonald's gold card and Rob Lowe has one. It allows him to eat for free for one year at certain McDonald's locations in Southern California.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro

I find Rockville Pike to be, while not exactly a food desert, relatively inhospitable to visitors. Two of my main restaurant choices in this neighborhood are Hooters and Fuddruckers. That's why I ate dinner at Matchbox for two nights in a row.

The menu has a good selection of meat entrees as well as burgers. On my first night, I ordered the trout, which is something that you don't find every day. The fish itself was good. It came on a bed of cous cous and greens. While they were good, they were also pretty oily.

On my second night, I ordered the dried tomato and fresh mozzarrella pizza. The thin crust was more on the crisp side than chewy. The toppings were pretty good but a little salty for my taste.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sandy Springs: The Brickery

Grant and Marie, the Nick and Nora Charles of food blogging, invited me to join them on a farewell visit to The Brickery in Sandy Springs. We are losing this restaurant to progress---their shopping center will soon be demolished and replaced by some new, random building. It's too bad that I didn't discover them earlier because their food is great.

We started with homemade potato chips topped with bleu cheese. The potato chips were wonderfully crisp. They were covered in just enough tangy bleu cheese to provide a good contrast. Too much cheese would simply hide the chips.

I ordered the brisket. It was wonderfully tender and came with a great homemade tomato-based sauce. The menu suggests "order it with the kugel!" and they were right. The kugel is nicely spiced and is much more interesting than plain old potatoes. The cabbage was very good, too.

I also got a chance to try their fried chicken. It was coated with a crackly-crisp coating. The meat was very tender. This is excellent fried chicken in a town known for its fried chicken. The onion rings were outstanding.

The Brickery

Friday, November 6, 2015

Air France

My return from Europe was on an Air France flight, which allowed me to sample their food. Here is the rather impressive shopping area in my departure at Charles De Gaulle airport.

We started with an introductory course. The foie gras was excellent, served with a melange of tomatoes. We also had parmesan cheese. The salad was served with a choice of two dressings served in little tiny bottles; I chose the olive oil-based dressing, which was quite good. The roll is walnut bread and was outstanding, exceeded only by the butter.

For my main course, I ordered smoked salmon, which was outstanding. The smoking was subtle and the flesh was very tender and juicy. IT came with little balls of potato, zucchini, and tomato. I also had two cheeses: Camembert and Sainte-Maure. I didn't complain about the second helping of walnut bread and that firm, salty butter.

Dessert included a small praline, a smallorange cupcake, and a banana in vanilla cream.

The entire meal was outstanding and the service on-board was excellent.

Lausanne: Cafe Romand

My EPFL friends finished my visit with dinner at Cafe Romand in the center of town. This restaurant has clearly a mainstay; the decor is that of a stately but welcoming home.

We came here for the cheese fondue. I consider a fondue to be a foregone conclusion on a trip to Switzerland. Making a fondue at home is one of those things that takes a little practice to get the right balance: not underdone, not burnt. The dipping bread came in thick slices that we tore apart and speared with our fondue forks. The cheese was tasty and very satisfying but not overly heavy.

And why stop there? Dessert is another foregone conclusion. I swear that the menu listed this item as "fondue au chocolate noir": dark chocolate fondue. As you can see, it was a cake. It was very good and a great complement to the cheese. I guess I don't understand Swiss food as well as I thought.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Lausanne: Crois d'Ouchy

My EPFL friends and I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Croix d'Ouchy. The decor is elegant and refined. The service was wonderfully polite.

I started with some ham paired with a little cheese.

For our main course, all of us ordered the same thing, a venison-like dish. The waiter briefly brought out the entire roast to show us. He then returned a few minutes later with our plates. The meat was very flavorful and meaty without being overly strong; it was also very tender. The brussels sprouts were cooked just right, with a nice green flavor and great texture. The spaetzle made a perfect complement. We ate slowly, enjoying our food and and talking about old times.

But that was a big roast, not to be done in by a single round. After clearing our plates from the first round, the waiter came back with these plates for a full second round of the main course. If you look carefully, you can see that the side dishes are slightly different. We all greatly enjoyed our second chance, but we were also grateful that there was no third round.

Such a magnificent dinner deserved a proper send-off in the form of dessert. My berries and cream were splended and a great pairing to the meat of our main course.

Lausanne: Tom Cafe

Tom Cafe is in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne on the shores of Lake Leman. My friend Nanni De Micheli and I enjoyed a wonderful brunch on its patio. We had an outstanding view of the lake on a beautiful day.

The brunch spread is large and varied. This plate was my catch from my first visit. All the food was very well prepared. I managed to save a little room for the wonderful pastries.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Delta One

A trip to Europe gave me a chance to try some food that I normally don’t get to eat---Delta One’s food service. Sleep is an important commodity on long flights but when I saw that the menu had been prepared by Linton Hopkins, I knew that I had to stay up long enough to eat. I wanted to see how he presented Southern food for this very international audience. I also wanted to see how he designed the food to handle the long hold times and reheating inherent in airline food. (Sorry, I’m a nerd and I can’t help thinking about these sorts of things.)

We started with a dish of Georgia pecans. They were very nicely spiced with a bit of heat.

The next course included several small items. The salad was an interesting exercise in minimalism: two large leaves and pickled red onion. But it was good. The charcuterie, including beef salami and potatoes, was tasty as well. The squash soup was wonderful, with outstanding spices and a dollop of collard greens as an unusual garnish. The roll was excellent.

I had to try the chicken pot pie for my main course. The vegetables had been only lightly cooked and presented a lot of veggie flavor. The meat was very tender and juicy. The filling was held together not by a white gravy, as is typical, but by mashed potatoes. I’m sure that the potatoes are easier to transport and reheat than the gravy would have been.

For the big finish, I had both cheese and sweets. At this point, the stewardess was my active accomplice in enjoying the meal. “Everyone else is asleep and all this will go to waste!” she said. The Georgia cheeses were very nice; I particularly enjoyed the hard cheese. The toffee cake was very sweet and moist. I ate only a little bit (this was essentially the fifth course, after all) but it was very enjoyable.

At this point, I could finally go to sleep, deeply satisfied with a meal that would have been very enjoyable even on the ground, let alone in the air.