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Showing posts from November, 2019

Lincoln NE: Bison Witches

Justin and I walked to Bison Witches for our meeting and lunch. The restaurant is tucked away in the corner of a building, offering a nice space that is conducive to discussion. Our servers were very friendly and helpful. I ordered the Reuben; I seem to be on a midwestern Reuben tour. This edition was excellent. The meat, cheese, slaw, and dressing were all very nicely balanced. The size was just right, too.

Black Friday Breakfast

Mom and I had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving. We wanted to continue to enjoy ourselves at home on a Black Friday. An apple Betty with apples fit the bill. This pancake is rich but not overbearing. The apples give just the right amount of sweetness.

A Pre-Thanksgiving Lunch

Witty and I decided to take a break from pre-Thanksgiving emails for lunch at Lan House. This gave me the opportunity to try something that I have seen go to other tables. The pork belly was extremely tender, just north of fall apart. The sauce had a touch of peanuts to give a rounder sense of savoriness. The meat, fat, peanuts, and salty soy sauce all made for a symphony of pleasure, wrapped in little buns. A wonderful Thanksgiving to everyone wherever you are!

A Blind-Baked Crust

At this time of year, thoughts turn to pie. (At least mine do.) I was in the mood for a pumpkin ricotta pie. The filling is pretty much what it sounds like: half pumpkin, half ricotta, a couple of eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger. I don't often blind bake my pie crust but I thought that this pie deserved the special treatment. Blind baking is relatively simple if you have something to weigh down the crust as it bakes. I have ceramic pie weights but I know that dry beans do just as well. The crust came out golden and crisp; one of the side benefits of the process is the pure pie crust smell you can huff as you pull it out of the oven. After cooling, I filled it and baked again. The result retained the crispness of the crust on the bottom, exactly the result I had hoped for.

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

I decided to make a chocolate pecan pie for my guests. This seemed like the ideal opportunity to try King Arthur Flour's whole wheat pie crust recipe . As I suspected, whole wheat turned out to be an ideal crust for this pie. Whole wheat and chocolate make great partners; the whole wheat's earthiness also goes very nicely with the pecans. Not only did I have enough to make my guests happy, enough was left over to provide the Breakfast of Champions for several mornings.

Lincoln NE: Rutabagas

Rutabagas is sufficiently tucked away that I walked by it several times before I noticed it. I'm glad I stopped by. The vibe inside is coffee house---inviting and casual. This is my vegan mac and cheese with faux bacon. The bacon was outstanding, the cheese is excellent. I do with that the pasta (eggless, I presume) would have been cooked a little less to be more al dente and provide some texture. But this lunch overall left me quite happy and satisfied.

Lincoln NE: Blessing Thai Food

Blessings is tucked away in a strip mall in north Lincoln. The atmosphere is casual and very welcoming. I ordered at the counter and sat down to wait for my plate. My curry was flavorful nicely balanced with vegetables and savory tofu. I asked for their highest level of heat; the result was nicely warm but I didn't cry. And isn't the heart of rice a nice touch?

Crete NE: Antonjitos Guatemaltecos

A visit to Doane University gave me a chance to sample the restaurants in Crete, abuot 45 minutes southwest of Lincoln. Guatemalan food sounded like a great comforting meal and Antonjitos delivered. Fried fish was sadly not available so I went with the beef. Everything on my plate was flavorful and satisfying. The trio of beef, refried beans, and rice makes for a very satisfying meal. The salad supplied a bit of acid with its dressing, not to mention crunch. And look at those warm, fresh tortillas... The proprietors also run the adjacent shop. I used the opportunity to pick up a wooden pestle I can use to crush my spices.

Smoking with the Pit Barrel Cooker

Everyone on the InterWeb seems to love the Pit Barrel Cooker so I ordered one and finally had a chance to fire it up. The design is elegant: a small barrel with an adjustable vent on the bottom, fuel held in the bottom, and a hanging rack on top. The holes for the hanging rods (made of rebar, another touch of elegance) seem to provide most of the ventilation up top. This shot shows the meat hanging on a hook. The result is all-around heating from vertical airflow, a much improved situation from my old two-barrel smoker. This airflow results in considerably faster cooking times while maintaining moistness and flavor. I used some applewood chips but I think that a lot of the flavor comes simply from dripping onto the hot coals. The vertical meat means that applying a traditional liquid mop is difficult; the solution is to rub with oil. After about 4.5 hours I applied the Texas Crutch (foil wrap and chicken broth) and finished the brisket in the oven. I then used the smoker

Mexican Food Trucks in Winter

I was in the market for a quick lunch in between meetings around town. I realized that this was my opportunity to try this food truck that I have seen open at all hours and in all conditions. The proprietor was very friendly. I don't get to eat pupusas very often so I ordered two: one with pork, beans, and cheese; the other with just beans and cheese. The weather was cold so I waited in the car for the proprietor to make my meal fresh. About ten minutes later, he waved me in for my pickup. The result was delicious. I loved the cornmeal bread that formed an envelope. The fillings were rich in flavor. Everything was soft and warm, perfect for a winter's day. A few other people drove up in the time I was there; I hope that everyone keeps coming to reward the hard work and talent of this trailer's owner.

Omaha: Hog Wild BBQ

A trip to Omaha gave me a chance to try Hog Wild BBQ. This chain comes out of Kansas and also has a location in Lincoln. I ordered the brisket which was nicely smoky although a bit dry by the time it got to me. The slaw had a nice tang that I enjoyed.

A Relaxing Dinner at Sprig

Sprig is a great place to spend a nice dinner recovering from a hard week. I very much enjoyed my salmon, combining a big meaty feel with delicate salmon flavor. Sprig's corn pudding is excellent, sweet and hearty. And the squash and zucchini were fork tender and tasty.

Lincoln NE: The Harbor

A morning errand gave me a chance to try The Harbor in midtown Lincoln. The place was lively in a coffeehouse sort of way with people busily working on their laptops and consuming caffeine. My coffee was very good, rich but not overly bold. I didn't have a chance to try the baked goods but they looked great.

A Quick Dinner at O'Hare

I thought that I would have plenty of time at O'Hare to catch dinner. Events proved otherwise. A late departure and two tries at the approach meant that I had a limited amount of time to walk from one terminal to the other, let alone eat. When I made it to my departure gate, I found that I had a few minutes to spare. I saw the opportunity for a civilized, sit-down dinner at Chili's. They came through nicely with good food, friendly and efficient service, and a calming atmosphere. These little things are greatly appreciated by harried travelers like myself.

Strawless Cups for Cold Brew

I ordered cold brew at Starbucks and was greeted with this fancy cup. Shuvra tells me that this is their new strawless design. The cold brew was excellent, smooth and rich.

Arlington VA: Epic Smokehouse

Shuvra and I both needed lunch after our meeting and before our trips back. We decided to try Epic Smokehouse just outside of the Crystal City district and were very happy with our lunches. I went with the three meat assortment. All were very good, moist and with a nice smoke tang. My favorite was probably the ribs. The slaw was of the semi-creamy, semi-tart variety that I find to be a crowd pleaser.

Crystal City VA: Ted's Montana Grill

Shuvra and I decided to plan at dinner for the next day's meeting. Crystal City has a limited range of options. We chose Ted's because it has good food and is very predictable. Both of us, as it happens, ordered buffalo. Mine was very tasty; it was not gamy and it was not in the least bit tough. I really enjoyed the mashed potatoes and vegetables, too.

ORD: Billy Goat Tavern

Billy Goat Tavern is another example of the lineup of Chicago favorites available at O'Hare. I needed a meal during my transfer and Billy Goat seemed like the ideal choice. My Italian beef reminded me of everything I loved about this dish during my visits to Chicago. It was sloppy and beefy with the texture coming primarily from the beef. This version had some pickled vegetables that added a nice flavor spike as well as texture. I walked to my flight very happy and satisfied.

Lincoln NE: Mr. Hui's

I found Mr. Hui's in a strip mall on Cornhusker Highway on the north side of Lincoln. It is popular with the student set; its combination of good food, fast service, and low prices are all powerful attractions. The menu has a range of menus, some of which are more traditional than the normal Chinese-American menu. On my first trip, I enjoyed my fried tofu, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I ordered mapo tofu on my second trip and was impressed to see the sizzling platter come out. The food was great, with bits of pork swimming in a nicely hot sauce along with their tofu chunks.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

An extra container of sour cream led me to make a pan of sour cream coffee cake. Mom used to make coffee cake as a treat but her recipe, inherited from her grandmother, didn't use sour cream. The batter is thick and rich. I added a bit of streusel before I loaded it into the oven. The result was everything I had hoped for: soft, rich, moist. And it holds up very well when dunked in coffee, just as my great-grandmother used to do.

DCA: Lunch at Legal Sea Foods

Travel by flying is hectic at best. At worst, eating a proper meal simply isn't possible. I had time before my flight before lunch and took advantage of the opportunity. Legal Sea Foods, located in the non-secure area of DCA, is a favorite restaurant of mine and I was happy to see it. I ordered blackened salmon, which was excellent. The menu includes both blackened and Cajun options. When I asked my server the difference, she told me that they were the same. Perhaps on my next trip I should try the Cajun version to compare. I wanted a little something extra. These chocolate chip cookies gave me the added bonus of allowing me to eat one at the table and save the rest for later. They were outstanding: warm, soft with a bit of crunch, rich with brown sugar, butter, and chocolate.

Omaha: Jinya Ramen Bar

Jinya is a popular ramen bar in Omaha. The neighborhood includes a large Chinese supermarket. The atmosphere in the restaurant is very hip. I ordered a bowl of tonkatsu black. The broth was superb, the egg soft and rich. The noodles were soft and comforting. The entire bowl was very flavorful.

An Impressive Lineup at O'Hare

A transfer at O'Hare reminded me of the impressive lineup of Chicago's favorite foods that are available to travelers. I was tempted by Garrett popcorn but passed due to bulk. I did take home an Eli's cheesecake. And I topped off my haul with some chocolate-covered pretzels from Nuts on Clark.

Tampa: Bern's Steakhouse

I haven't been to Bern's in many years. A meeting in Tampa gave me a chance to revisit and I'm very glad I did. This photo of the entrance shows you the theatrical nature of the restaurant. The service is impeccable, gracious and welcoming. And the food is very well thought out and extremely well made. My meal started with a cup of French onion soup and bread. The soup was full of umami from both cheese and broth. The textures were a lot of fun and a big contrast to the steak to come. Next came a salad which I ordered with bleu cheese. My main course was the Delmonico, 14 ounces, rare. The steak came trimmed of fat, a welcome luxury. The dry-aged steak was very flavorful, extremely tender. The side vegetables were excellent and just enough to complement the meat. I didn't drink but the wine list is huge and legendary. After the meal, all guests are treated to a tour, starting in the kitchen. The tour goes onto the wine collection, which they consi

TPA: Lunch at P. F. Chang

I rarely travel to Tampa but I have always enjoyed the airport. Its Florida version of midcentury modern is cleanly stylish. The original terminal has been augmented with new buildings that extend the theme with some current touches while maintaining the integrity of the design. I chose P. F. Chang in the main terminal for lunch before I boarded my first flight. I started with a nice bowl of wonton soup. My main course was tofu lettuce wraps. The filling was well spiced but not too hot. I ran out of lettuce leaves a little early; perhaps my technique for this dish is a little rusty. I was very satisfied as I took the train to my gate.