Friday, August 17, 2007

Travel Food

I love the Alton Brown show about Road Food on his show called Feasting on Asphalt. He travels across the country looking for good, authentic American cuisine as found along the road. And while I'm on the road a lot (at the moment I think the count is up to 1 full week at home over 3 months), I don't seem to have the same great things to say about American cuisine. Last week was Tampa, this week was Fayetteville, I've also hit San Diego (twice), and DC. And while I've had some good food some of those places, I can't seem to find the same good, authentic American cuisine. I'm currently sitting in a Chicago-style pizza joint in Wilmington, NC. The pizza was mediocre at best, but at least the beer is cold.

Well, now that I think about it, let me be fair. San Diego had two FANTASTIC restaurants that mom and I went to. One was definitely my style, very cutting edge, modern, and super creative call Chive down in the Gas Lamp District. The other was Anthony's Fish Grotto, which I think would play well on Alton's show. The fish was great, but what was more fun was getting my mom to order a big blue drink. Since she doesn't drink much its always fun to get her to try a new cocktail, somehow it feels like a mini victory in getting her to understand me. But when it comes to food, she and I are in pretty close agreement. Both places were great.

Unfortunately, the other trips were less colorful, interesting, or even tasty. Mostly chain restaurants and steak houses. But perhaps that speaks more to the tastes of my coworkers than what America has to offer. And just in time to keep me from really falling into a funk over unoriginal food, a trip to Sweden has just popped up.

So.......ludifisk here I come!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Thank you for the thank you......

T and I had our realtor and her husband over, who are friends and parents of very good friends, as a thank you for all their help in finding our house, getting moved in, finalizing paperwork, arranging various inspections, deliveries, etc., and generally making the move across the ocean much smoother. While we have corresponded with them quite a lot, I had never met D (the wife) and we hadn't spent much time with either. So the menu was a shot in the dark and with T's help I think it was one of the best thought-out meals. Made much harder because it is hotter than the 5th level of Dante's Hell, meaning I can't make my usual heavy-rich-creamy-butter-over-the-top meals, and I don't know them so I didn't want to go too avant garde (sp?). Plus it is hard to cook for less than 6 people because I always end up with too much food. So the menu below was what we settled on, with a little bit of everything, but I think it fit the bill:

Appetizers (served with Prosecco)

Belgian Endive leaves filled with Obatzda (a German cheese mixed with beer and spices)

Arctichoke Hearts wrapped in Bacon

First Course

Seared Scallops over French Green Lentils finished with a marscapone cream and cider reduction

Main Course

Spinach Stuffed Sole (substituted Haddock) topped with a Shrimp Cream Sauce

Butternut Squash Gnocci with Balsamic Brown Butter

Balckberry and Goat Cheese over micro greens served in a Black Pepper Asiago cheese bowl


Key Lime Cheese Cake

I had made the scallops before without the lentils, and I think they were better without the lentils, it was too much earth for the light scallops. I only set the fire alarm off once or twice while cooking the bacon...... One more justification that people who don't like meat can't cook it very well. But I'm determined to try. The meal was lovely, and it actually all came out at the right times, although I could have made some of the parts easier. But T thought it was the best dinner I've ever served, so I'll take that as a win!

And, of course, in very sweet southern tradition I got a thank you card from them a few days later. I had to resist the urge to send a thank you for the thank you for the thank you.......I figured they might not see the humor. So I'll chuckle to myself and eat some more cheesecake!