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Showing posts from October, 2018

Happy Birthday, Barbecue Kitchen

I stopped by Barbecue Kitchen for lunch upon return from a trip and noticed a sign proclaiming their 60th birthday. I have had many meals there over the past few years. Their food, like this four vegetable plate, is satisfying. Their staff is always warm and welcoming. Don't forget to try the rutabagas---their rendition will make you rethink this humble root vegetable.

Guest Blog: Cape Town: Afrika Bites

My friend Shuvra contributes this guest blog from Cape Town where we both attended the same conference. Afrika Bites at Victoria Waterfront. Victoria Waterfront in Cape Town contains a large food court and market called V&A Food Market. The multi-story building is filled with stalls providing inexpensive but very nice snacks, and meals of many varieties (African varieties, Thai, Hungarian, and various others). On my last day on this visit to Cape Town, I had lunch from one of these stalls, called Afrika Bites. Afrika Bites serves South African style dishes, including wraps, burgers, and stews. I chose the beef stew with "pap" balls. Pap is a "is a traditional porridge/polenta made from mielie-meal (coarsely ground maize) and a staple food of the Bantu peoples of Southern Africa" (from on 10/25/2018). The dish contained a very generous serving of beef, and was very tasty. The staff patiently introduced me to the various opt

South African Preserved Meat

I spied this display of biltong at the Cape Town airport. This preserved meat seems to be a little wetter than jerky. And yes, the label says ostrich---the birds are raised on farms in this country. I tried some fresh meat at our big dinner and found it to be very rich, almost beefy. I'm sure it would make an excellent jerky.

Cape Town: Breakfast at the Cullinan Hotel

Every day at a hotel starts with breakfast. The buffet seems to have been adopted worldwide. It is relatively simple to pull off and provides a sumptuous feast for the eyes. Our conference was located at the Cullinan near the waterfront in Cape Town. The buffet hit the spot, including the omelet station. Most of the food was generic American/European but with some Asian influences. The large cheese station was an unexpected pleasure.

Cape Town: Gold Restaurant

Our conference enjoyed a very good show and dinner at Gold on the waterfront in Cape Town. The show opened with a display of drumming and a chance for the entire audience to drum together. A hundred drums played at once, even by unskilled people, is a truly impressive experience. This is a touristy experience but one that I enjoyed and appreciated. South Africa's economy attracts people from all across Africa so a pan-African show makes sense. The food was great, too. South African cuisine shows influences from all over the region as well as local ingredients and techniques.

Milwaukee WI: Public Market

A drive around downtown Milwaukee led me to the Historic Third Ward District, a nicely renovated section of old Milwaukee. I spied the large sign of the Public Market and decided to stop by. Most of the vendors sell prepared food as is the modern way. They offered a wide range of itemsincluding this seafood vendor. Kehr's has a very large selection of chocolates. I scored here---a pound of excellent seconds chocolates for $11.

Milwaukee WI: Wisconsin Cheese Mart

How could I pass up the Wisconsin Cheese Mart? The store has been here since 1938, after all. Inside I found a cornucopia of cheese. The manager was very helpful and encouraged me to try the wide range of samples arrayed around the store. A few of their cheeses at the far end of the rack are imported but pretty much everything you see there is Wisconsin. I ended up with a large assortment of cheeses. Everything I've tried so far is outstanding in flavor and texture. I am set for cheese for the next few months.

Milwaukee WI: Milwaukee Brat House

Sausage for lunch was the original purpose of my quest. One of the neighborhood restaurants was closed that day but Milwaukee Brat House was invitingly open. I went upstairs to find a table. I found myself at a table next to the upstairs bar. Most of the other occupants worse Packers green and gold. I ordered the sausage sampler and received this appetizing display of four sausages: Italian, brat, Hungarian, and one other. Each came with their own sample of sides, for example sauteed red peppers for the Italian and sauerkrat for the brat. All were excellent. The bartender came over to check on me and told me that the hot Hungarian was his favorite and I definitely agree. The food was outstanding and all the servers were extremely welcoming. I couldn't have asked for a better lunch.

Milwaukee WI: The Spice House

I spotted The Spice House across the street from Usinger's and decided to stop in. I found a large selection of spices, mostly mixes. The staff was very helpful. I picked up a bag of chili powder that I hope to try soon.

Milwaukee WI: Usinger's

I knew that I wanted to try some sausage during my visit to Milwaukee. Usinger's came up as top of the list. They have been in operation since 1880. Their shop does not include a restaurant, just sausages. The walls are adorned with murals that show the elves hard at work making sausages. Quite an array of meat... I concentrated on the summer sausages as something I could take back with me on the airplane. They gave me an entire sausage to try---wow! This sausage has a wonderful flavor that combines meat and spices. The connection between Milwaukee and spice starts to make sense. I left with two packs of these wonderful sausages; I am kicking myself for not having picked up more.

Wauwatosa WI: Penzeys Spices World HQ

I was driving down the road in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (try to say that fast three times) when I spied a Penzeys Spices sign in front of a non-descript warehouse building. This must be their world headquarters! I doubled back and checked them out. Inside I found a nice Penzeys store with the addition of a picture window into their warehouse. They had some deals, too. I walked away with a bag of star anice pieces for just over $3. This accidental visit turned out to be the start of an impressive food afternoon in Milwaukee. More to follow...

Seven Springs Country Store

US 25 in South Carolina is truly the Fruit Corridor. I have acquired the habit of peach shopping in spring. Now I know also to look for apples in fall. I happened upon Seven Springs during a leisurely return from Asheville. The proprietors are very helpful in explaining their fruit. They are also very liberal with apple slices. This shot gives you some idea of both the range of varieties they stock as well as the sheer number of apples they have on hand. I left with a half bushel of several varietiess: Arkansas Black, Fuji, and a couple of others. They are in cold storage at the moment; their eventual destinations will be in apple butter, applesauce, and apple cake.

Asheville NC: Breakfast at the Moose Cafe

The Moose Cafe at the state farmers' market in Asheville is a treasure: great food in huge quantities, welcoming service, and beautiful flowers everywhere. This is my breakfast. I couldn't finish it but I sure enjoyed it.

Asheville NC: Baked Pie Company

I spotted Baked on the way to dinner and instantly knew where dessert would be. The shop has a wide range of pie flavors in several styles: cream, fruit, low-sugar, nut. The place was hopping on a Saturday evening. An evening pie shop is a great idea. The decor is cozy. I didn't manage to get a photo of my low-sugar raspberry pie but it was all-around good: filling and crust.

Asheville NC: Dinner at Travinia

A celebration called for a trip to the mountains and a nice Italian dinner. Traviana in Biltmore Park Town Centre fit the bill. My meal started with a Caesar salad and moved onto a nice plate of chicken marsala and pasta. I don't have the chance to eat marsala very often in Atlanta and I welcomed the chance to enjoy it here.

Butter-Basted Steak

Inspired by this article from Serious Eats , I decided to butter baste a steak. I marched down to Tucker Meats and picked up a nice, thick ribeye. Then I got to work. The technique is pretty much as it sounds: keep spooning butter over the steak as it cooks, flipping it several times in the process. The goal is not to make the steak taste like butter, although it does pick up a nice buttery flavor. The hot butter helps to cook the steak on both sides at once. Flipping also helps to even out the heat. As a side effect, the butter helps to give some nice crunchy bits on the steak's outside. I also made some home fries. While the steak rested, I drizzled the leftover steak butter on top. The result was deliciously crispy potato and superbly crispy potato skin. This was a very satisfying meal.

Silicon Valley Agriculture

A few pockets of farmland still exist around the South Bay. I found one next to Cadence headquarters. In the middle of the large field was a tarp and a very nice family selling a variety of fruits and vegetables. I bought some raspberries that I enjoyed over the next two days. I am impressed by the hardiness of these farmers. Some day, another corporate headquarters may be dropped onto this land. In the mean time, I'm glad that these folks are making use of the land and enriching our lives.

San Jose CA: @YC Coffee

Faced with a few minutes of free time, I decided to check out San Jose's Japantown. Tbese days the neighborhood is home to a mix of cultures plus some urban gentrification. I stopped by @YC for a quick snack. I found a store decorated with quite a bit of art. The proprietors were friendly and welcoming, clearly proud of their shop. My bagel with cream cheese hit the spot. I sat down and enjoyed it before heading out into the world.

San Mateo CA: Wursthall

A trip to the northern end of the Penninsula gave me a chance to try Wursthall, the restaurant associated with Chef Kenji Lopez-Alt. Downtown San Mateo is filled with early 20th century architecture. The space inside has a modern, airy feel that complements the traditional facade. I went with currywurst. The sausage was good, the potatoes were outstanding. The potatoes combined bits of crunchy exterior and a soft, nourishing middle. The curry sauce combined a kiss of spice with creaminess, a perfect combination for the potatoes and an alternative to butter as a source of moisture. I am disappointed that I was told only at the end that they do not accept cash. Electronic commerce exposes customers to a number of risks of both security and privacy. Telling them they can't pay with cash only after they have eaten is a little late.

Los Altos Hills CA: Cetrella

Dave introduced me to a new place in downtown Los Altos Hills. Cetrella is a California Italian restaurant in an elegant setting. The menu combines Italian pastas and meat dishes with modern pizzas. I followed Dave's lead on ordering. First, a light and flavorful salad. Then onto the salmon pizza. The thinly-sliced salmon worked perfectly. The distinctive taste of salmon wasn't an obvious pizza topping for me but this worked very nicely. The salmon was thin but still retained its moisture and texture.