Saturday, August 19, 2017

Duluth: Zion Market

Zion Market is the latest entry into the busy Asian food market on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, right next to Micro Center. It is a mid-sized market specializing in Korean groceries. It has a large produce section where I saw some pretty good deals. The seafood section was large with items ranging from octopus to fresh abalone; many of the items were on trays and wrapped in plastic. A stand with a name something like Mom's Treats offered little tiny fish that had been pickled or dried. And of course they featured a large aisle of red pepper sauce.

Yellow Cake With Chocolate Ganache

I was in the mood for a cake but, quite frankly, I didn't want to spend forever making one. I started with the classic yellow cake recipe from The King Arthur Cookbook. To prepare, I cut paper rounds for the bottoms of the cake pans. Mom used to cut these out of paper bags from the grocery store. Of course, that was back in the twentieth century when grocery stores put your groceries in paper bags.

I creamed together the butter and sugar for a good five minutes.

I mixed in the eggs and buttermilk.

After some time in the oven, I pulled out these three eight-inch layers. After they cooked, I soaked them in simple syrup.

My next step was the chocolate ganache. I poured Guittard baking chocolate coins into boiling heavy cream. I normally use Alton Brown's proportions but I decided to try Ina Gartner's. The result was much stiffer, even with some added cream. As a result, I spread the ganache rather than pouring it on.

The result looked like this.

I realized too late that I should have used fruit preserves between the layers rather than chocolate. I decided to serve the cake with cherry preserves and hazelnuts from my trip to Seattle. Overall, this was not my most successful cake. But hey, it's still a cake.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dayton OH: 4 Lb. Diner

I was in the mood for meat for lunch and 4 Lb. Diner satisfied me. It took me awhile to parse their logo and figure out their name. Inside, I found a brand spanking new version of a classic diner. I pulled up a seat at the counter and was greeted with warmth and efficiency. I enjoyed watching the cooks work.

This is my bleu cheese burger. The cheese is packed into the middle of the patty. A little more cheese would have been fun but overall this was an exemplary burger. The salad was good, too.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dayton OH: Corner Kitchen

The Oregon District is next to downtown Dayton. It reminds me a little of South Street in Philadelphia with its mixture of hip and slightly seedy establishments. Why is this neighborhood called Oregon? Beats me. And Dayton is in the Miami Valley. Go figure.

The cream of corn soup gave a nice balance of cream and corn.

I wasn’t sure how the stuffed eggplant would be prepared. It turned out to be a roasted eggplant with ratatouille, or at least the rest of the ratatouille ingredients minus the eggplant. It made a delicious combination.

This is my lemon buttermilk cake. My server suggested that I dive in and take a vertical scoop through the entire dish. That turned out to be an important suggestion that allowed me to get the lemon curd, cake, and whipped cream. The sweetness and acid balanced perfectly. And it wasn’t too big.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dayton OH: The Killer Brownie from Dorothy Lane Market

When I checked in at the hotel, the staff member told me that if I was going to dinner in Oakwood, I had to stop by Dorothy Lane for their killer brownie---named top 10 in the U. S. I reminded her that my mom was in the competition but that I would be sure to try it.

I didn’t realize that Killer Brownie is the official name of the dish. This brownie is indeed impressive. It is both much thicker than the typical brownie. It is also very dense---most cakey brownies are not this dense. The taste is very flavorful but not overwhelming. A layer of nuts and caramel is buried in the middle.

This brownie has great taste and provides a wonderful sense of indulgence. Mom, your crown is secure, but this killer brownie is pretty good.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dayton OH: Oakwood Room

Oakwood seems to be the Main Line neighborhood of Dayton. The streets are lined with large, elegant houses and manicured lawns. The main street is nicely curated collection of upscale shops. The Oakwood Room fits in that mold as a classic beef house with wood paneling, low lighting, and classic décor. I would say steak but their signature beef dish is the prime rib. Naturally, they also serve seafood. The service is very gracious. Many of the patrons were clearly regulars and I was treated with equal warmth.

The bread course was hearty and appreciated after a day of travel. The dressing was a vinaigrette dressing that was very nicely balanced.

I was in the mood for a fine piece of prime rib and that’s what I got. It was tender, juicy, and delicious. My server warned me that the horseradish was extremely hot and she was right---wow. The hash browns were formed into a neat cake, as is the style with steak houses. My only very small complaint is that the vegetables had a hint of fish, probably from sharing the steamer with some. But overall, this was a classic meal nicely done and service that made me feel like an old hand.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kalispell MT: Cislo's Family Restaurant

Cislo’s is a classic coffee shop right down to the local business ads laminated into the tabletops. The service is just what you would hope for, warm and welcoming.

As soon as I saw the sign for the double berry pancakes, I knew what I would order. These were the best pancakes I’ve had in awhile, thick and fluffy. The strawberries and blueberries were fresh and plump. This was a wonderful breakfast. Cislo's seems to be the place to go for breakfast in Kalispell.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

St. Mary MT: Park Cafe

I was passing through St. Mary, just outside Glacier National Park and in the Blackfeet reservation, when I saw this sign. I should have “I brake for pie” bumper sticker, although perhaps a tattoo would be a more appropriate expression of my commitment. So of course I stopped and ordered a piece of pie.

Luckily, I snagged the last piece of cherry pie for the day. The pie was very good. The lattice top in particular was perfectly executed, making my attempts look sad in comparison. Of course, I’m glad I added the vanilla ice cream.

If you do travel to this part of the country, be sure to visit the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning. It has a superb collection of Plains Indian artifacts that are both historically important and visually stunning

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Glacier National Park: Ptarmigan Dining Room

The Ptarmigan Dining Room is the spectacular main restaurant of Many Glacier Lodge. The lodge was built by the Great Northern Railway early in the 20th century in a grand style that modern hotels simply can't match. The dining room has a hugely high ceiling and a beautiful view of the lake. The gracious service recalls an earlier era.

Check out that item in the middle of the menu: Maid-Rite Loose Meat Elk Sandwich. The moment I saw that, I knew what I would have for lunch. I have tried the original Maid-Rite loose meat sandwich, the Midwestern classic dating back to the 1920s. I wanted to see just what the chef would do with this idea.

Here is my sandwich with a glimpse of the view from my table. The sandwich was outstanding. A light Sloppy Joe-style sauce had just a bit of sweetness. The slight gaminess of the elk meat complemented the sauce perfectly. The result was a wonderful marriage of savory, sweet, and hearty.

For dessert, I had this wonderful blueberry cobbler with ice cream. Berries are the crowning fruit of the north and I tried to enjoy them every chance I had during my visit.

Monday, August 7, 2017

West Glacier MT: Belton Chalet

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner experience at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier. The chalet was originally built by The Great Northern Railway, themed for Switzerland. The railroad was a pioneer in theming its resort establishments, it turns out. The Alpine theme of the original establishment is lovingly preserved. The service is just as gracious as I expect was the case at the turn of the twentieth century.

I started with a delicious soup, creamy but not too heavy.

Here is my main course, a rainbow trout. It had a more pinkish skin than I am used to, which seems to be common among Montana trout; perhaps the color is due to the minerlas in the water. The sauce was raspberry and peach. Below was a polenta patty with nicely rich greens.

For dessert, I ordered blueberry pie in a jar with huckleberry ice cream. The crust was perfectly cooked, nice and brown. Blueberries were wonderfully delicate in both taste and texture. Just sweet enough, not overcooked so they retained their shape and texture. I wasn’t sure how the ice cream would work but it was similarly subtle; the fruit flavor came thorugh without overpowering either the cream or the pie.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Glacier National Park: Eddie's Cafe

Apgar is a tiny town within the limits of Glacier National Park, located on the western edge of Lake McDowell. National parks aren't supposed to include private property but Apgar is a historical exception. I think that it is part of its charm and appeal. The beautiful scenery and the simple pleasures of the town combine to make this a haven for families. I found being in the midst of so many parents and kids enjoying their time together to be marvelously peaceful.

Eddie's Café is run by the family of Glacier's first ranger. The food is straightforwardly good and tasty; the service is very welcoming. I ate there several times during my stay.

For my first meal, I ordered the fried cod. The crust was superb, the fish was tender and juicy. For another meal, I ordered the burger. For breakfast, I ordered an omelet. Both were very satisfying.

Friday, August 4, 2017

West Glacier MT: West Glacier Restaurant

West Glacier is just outside of the west entrance to Glacier National Park. It does have a post office but the term "town" gives it a lot of credit---what you see here is most of what you get. There are two other restaurants on the other side of the tracks but I ate a lot of meals here. Luckily, the food is good and the service is friendly.

The veggie burger didn’t hold together well but very flavorful and hearty. Good cheese on top.

The hippie Scramble omelet was similarly hearty. The potatoes had an excellent crust.

One evening, I stopped in for chili. It was bean-oriented, nice rich sauce, just a bit of a kick. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Glacier National Park: Two Dog Flats Grill

Two Dog Flats is located in the Rising Sun Motor Inn on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. This is the less-traveled side of the park, which is a pity because it is beautiful. But when you come, expect limited dining options. If you don't eat here, you can drive another 10 miles to St. Mary, which has perhaps three restaurants and a gas station with an enticing variety of jerky and chips. Luckily, Two Dog Flags has very good food and very gracious service.

I decided to try the lamb burger for a change both from beef and from the elk that you find everywhere in the park (including here). This turned out to be a delicious choice. The lamb had a distinctively lambey taste that was still delicate. It was balanced nicely by the feta cheese, which gave a creamy texture and a mellow note.

My server suggested this pound cake for dessert and his recommendation was spot on. The pound cake was moist and sweet; the strawberries were very fresh and firm. And as he pointed out, the serving size was small enough to be refreshing without being too heavy.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Glacier National Park: Jammer Joe's Grill and Pizzeria

Jammer Joe's is the casual restaurant next to Lake McDowell Lodge. It does a brisk business but I had no problem being seated.

This is my elk sausage sandwich. The casing had a nice, satisfying snap. The filling was meaty and hearty but not overly gamey---a very nice change of pace.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Glacier National Park: Russell's Fireside Dining Room

Lake McDonald Lodge is located on the shore of a nine-mile lake in the middle of some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The century old lodge is beautiful and stately, calling back to an earlier, more gracious time. Russell's is the elegant dining room that provided me with the perfect way to end a long day of travel.

Dinner, of course, starts with bread.

The salad's light dressing nicely highlighted the very fresh greens.

Trout seemed like the best way to enjoy local ingredients. I'm used to Rocky Mountain rainbow trout. This turned out to be steelhead trout, which is the thickest, pinkest trout I've every seen. I checked with my server to be sure that I hadn't received someone else's salmon. The fish was perfectly cooked. The thick cut made for a very hearty dinner.

The huckleberry is the local berry---you run into it everywhere in and around the park. This pie gave me a good way to enjoy and appreciate the berry, which is fairly delicate. It is small and not overly sweet with a nice combination of sweetness and tartness.