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Showing posts from February, 2020

A Chinese Lunch

Witty and I went to lunch today at Lan House, one of our favorite spots. We chose a Chinese restaurant deliberately. My Atlanta neighbors, the Centers for Disease Control, offer a number of recommendations for preventing the coronavirus that you can find here . Avoiding Chinese restaurants is not one of those recommendations. Let's remember our Chinese friends and neighbors and take the time to remind them how much we appreciate them.

Asheville NC: Breakfast at the Moose Cafe

The Moose Cafe, located at the Farmers Market, is my favorite breakfast spot in Asheville, to the point that I can't bring myself to eat anywhere else in the morning. The place draws huge crowds but their efficiency allows them to keep waits to a minimum without making patrons feel rushed. I decided to try something different for this visit so I ordered the fried chicken breakfast. The chicken was delicious. The gravy was flavorful, rich, and smooth. And that biscuit was my second---my first came from the basket that was delivered as soon as I ordered. I don't exactly deserve a hearty breakfast like this but it did help me through the drive back to Atlanta.

Update: 12 Bones South Asheville

12 Bones' south Asheville location is always my first stop on a trip to the city. Their outstanding food makes a perfect completion to a morning drive and a great start to enjoying the mountains. I arrived this time to find that they have hugely expanded. Their decor is quasi-industrial and very hip. I was, unfortunately, too hungry to take a picture of my half rack plate. Rest assured that the food is still spectacular. These are some of the best ribs I've had: sweet pork that resists the teeth just enough to entice. My sweet potatoes gave those wonderful sweet and earthy notes that we expect from the orange tuber. My corn pudding was spectacular.

Delta First Class Lunch

An upgrade gave me not only more leg room but a much-needed lunch. I believe that this plate was advertised as a Reuben. It was more of a pastrami sandwich---the mustard is the tell. But it was tasty with good meat and some crunch in the rye toast. This meal was welcomed, appreciated, and enjoyed.

An All-Rose Levy Berenbaum Cake

I was in the mood for a chocolate cake and decided to go all Rose. The cake was her Perfect All-American Chocolate Torte. The icing was her Neoclassic Buttercream. It not only tastes great but is a lot of fun to make. The result was both beautiful and delicious.


I finally decided to make my own yogurt. I scalded the milk, then added some yogurt as starter. I originally planned to incubate the yogurt in this Thermos bottle but I ended up incubating in the oven for 12 hours. The result was nicely firm and became even firmer after refrigeration. I didn't see any need to strain. The yogurt was, I think, more flavorful than the commercial variety. For my next batch, I will make an entire gallon. Yogurt, after all, has all sorts of uses.

A Total Fail on Cornbread

I needed to use up some buttermilk and decided to make cornbread. I wanted to try a recipe that uses no all-purpose flour. The recipe resulted in a pretty loose batter. I baked the cornbread in the skillet and pulled this pleasing result out of the oven. I then attempted to follow the directions to remove the cornbread from the pan immediately. I flipped it over onto my rack. The middle came right out but the edge stayed. This is what the mess looked like when I tried to put it back in the pan. To be clear, the failure was entirely mine. I will try again with a slightly denser batter and see if I can get it out in one piece.

Des Moines: Northern Lights Pizza

I needed a quick, easy lunch during a trip to visit Mom. A local Northern Lights Pizza fit the bill. This is a carry-out chain, which fit my needs perfectly. Service was very gracious and speedy. The crust is of the medium-thickness variety, similar to Atlanta's Mellow Mushroom. The sauce hit the tangy and sweet notes. The cheese gave both flavor and body. My pizza did its job and I am grateful they were there.

Valentino's Sauce

I was hungry and strapped for time. When I passed the display of Valentino's sauce, I grabbed a bottle and headed home. Valentino's is one of the major Lincoln pizza chains; I didn't realize that they sold their sauce at retail. A half hour later, I enjoyed a dollop of sauce on my stuffed shells. The sauce (do they call it gravy in the Midwest?) is classic Italian-American with notes of both sweet and tart. I was satisfied enough to finish off the bottle the following night.

Lincoln NE: Misty's Downtown

I finally had my chance to try Misty's downtown location on a cold winter evening. Dinner started with this fresh mini-loaf of bread. I ordered the ribeye, medium rare, with onions. The steak was tender and full of Nebraska beef flavor. Isn't this loaded potato impressive? And fish...

Des Moines: 801 Chophouse

801 Chophouse has been on my Des Moines to-do list for quite some time. I didn't expect to be able to get in before the caucuses given the wall of reporters and politicians lined up for a table. But even a following weekend proved to be challenging. The wait, however, was worthwhile. The food and service were both excellence. I will say that they don't make this place easy to find. I saw no outdoor signs and very few even inside the building. This photo of my brussel sprouts is the only one that came out. They were slightly crisped but bathed in butter---very rich. My steak was excellent. My server strongly recommended medium over medium rare, so I went with his suggestion. The outside had just the right amount of char. The interior was warm, juicy, tender. The steak flavor came through like a bell.

LIncoln NE: Lunch at Shokunin

Witty and I headed to Shokunin for a lunch discussion. I started with a delicate salad; sesame dressing is a favorite. Witty highly recommended the salmon skin roll. His advice, as always, was spot on. The combination of intense flavor and small quantity makes for a great dish. The sushi platter is both excellent and large. The fish was very fresh with outstanding, delicate taste and texture.

Lincoln NE: Dinner at Piedmont Bistro

Dinner at Piedmont Bistro started with this nicely creamy hummus. For my main course, I ordered this wonderful pork chop. It was thick, tender, juicy, and flavorful. The top had been beautifully grilled to give it a touch of extra texture. It took care of my meat requirements.

Banana Bread for Mom

Mom was in the mood for a treat. I made banana bread, a family favorite. I used the Betty Crocker recipe for the first time. The result was a tasty treat and warm memory.

Lincoln NE: Lunch at El Potrero

A lunch appointment led me to El Potrero in the Haymarket district. I decided to for salmon, the healthy option, which was also very enjoyable.

Vitamix as Grain Mill

I decided to try to use my Vitamix as a grain mill. I ran the blender for quite some time. Even so, I could see whole wheat berries in the mix. I underestimated the density of unground berries and went ahead with the loaf. The result was the disaster you see here. I will try again and grind longer. I suspect that the much larger chamber means that the berries spend less time in contact with the blades, resulting in less efficient grinding.

ATL: Dinner at Phillips

A night flight out of ATL, combined with lack of time to catch dinner before getting in the car, gave me the chance to revisit Phillips in D. I always enjoy Phillips whether in Atlanta or Maryland. For a change, I ordered blackened salmon. Everything was nicely done and the fish was very nourishing. The hush puppies were a great treat.

Dinner at Mr. Hui's

A dinner meeting at Mr. Hui's gave us the chance to try several new dishes.

Dinner at Harvest Habersham

I enjoyed another wonderful dinner at Harvest Habersham, which I consider to be the best restaurant in the north Georgia mountains. I started with cornbread that combined corny sweetness and a wonderful texture. My duck was exquisite, rich and tender. The greens were wonderfully fresh---my server explained that many of them were grown on her farm. This salad combined vegetable cubes, cheese cubes, and a vinegarette sauce. Not only were the elements great but they melded together very well. Coffee got me ready for dessert. My tart was outstanding. Tje fruit was tart to balance the sweetness. The crust was flaky and buttery.

Spices for Blueberry Pie

In the need for some breakfast pie, I found some frozen blueberries in my freezer as the filling. I decided to try some nonstandard spices---ginger and mace---to see what they would do. Here is the pie under assembly. And here is the result. The crust browned nicely. The spices didn't make much difference, surprisingly. Perhaps I didn't add enough. The pie was fine but it didn't have the exotic flavor I expected.

Update: Northern Chinese Eatery

I hadn't been to Northern Chinese Eatery in awhile and was happy to see that they are going strong. The place was hopping; it seems to have become a hip destination. I think that their scallion pancake is one of the very best, if not the best, on Buford Highway. It combines a flaky exterior with a rich interior. These pork dumplings are perfect comfort food. I haven't tried the soup dumplings before and they were excellent. The soupy interior is like a surprise package.

Dexter IA: Drew's Chocolate

Dexter is a small town about 20 miles east of Iowa. I am always in the mood for good chocolate and I'm glad that I stopped at Drew's. The shop is in the basement of the proprietor's house. She explained that her family have been chocolatiers for over a century. The chocolates look enticing. They provide great flavors, too, in the fillings as well as the chocolate itself. I tried a sample of a mint patty that gave a sharp, pleasant minty bite. My peanut clusters are outstanding with a wonderful peanutty flavor. I haven't yet tried my sea salt caramels but I'm sure they will be excellent.