Fail to the Chef

July 26, 2010 at 7:46 PM (Uncategorized) (, , )

Wednesday marked the 6th episode of Top Chef DC, a season of Top Chef I was anticipating the start of more so than any other season.  There are the obvious reasons like the fact that I used to call DC home, but I also though that, perhaps, Bravo and the Top Chef crew could try to top last season’s Vegas contestants.  We’re 6 episodes in, and they’re giving us nothing.  The Challenges are lame, the contestants suck– well I’ll give them one thing, they are the most competitive, manipulative group this show’s ever had.

Now that I’ve bitched about the season once again, I have to say this week’s was probably one of the better and more fitting venues and challenges yet.  The contestants had to made only cold dishes on the USS Sequoia, the President’s boat version of Marine One.  The USS Sequoia takes off right next to one of my favorite watering holes in DC, Cantina Marina and is right in the Potomac.  But!!! (and you knew that nice talk wouldn’t last long) I was so turned off when they flew in a guest judge from MIAMI!!!  I mean come ON!  Jose Andres owns 5 restaurants in DC, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, The Source, is in the Newseum where the first epsiode too place, ART SMITH HIMSELF, who has also been on TOP CHEF MASTERS, has a restaurant there and you couldn’t find a DC area guest judge?!  Be serious for a second. Thanks. Phew, glad I could get that off my chest.  End of the day, my iron horse was asked to “pack her knives and go.”  Dagger.  I’m still pulling for Kenny or Angelo.

Now that I’ve got all that out in the open onto a little dish I put together tonight that completely hit the spot.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if there are two types of food a LOT of people like, it’s Mexican and BBQ.  Tonight, I couldn’t decide between the two, so I decided, why not just combine them?

There you see a BBQ ground turkey taco.  Here are the ingredients:

– ground turkey

– BBQ sauce

– Monterrey jack cheese

– shredded lettuce

– sour cream

– salsa

– jalapenos

– soft tortilla

After cooking through the turkey with some salt and pepper, saute it in BBQ sauce, this will heat up the sauce to keep your dish hot.  Then just dress the taco the way you want!  I like mine with shredded monterrey jack, lettuce, sour cream, salsa and topped with some jalapenos.  Since I had some turkey left over, I made a side taco salad with everything but the tortilla!

Wine of the night: Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc.  Runs about $9.99

Tacos are a great thing to make if you just have a bunch of stuff to throw together.  I highly suggest trying this one night if especially for something with a new twist.

This weekend will be the first time I have a moment in my apartment to cook so I will move onto Albania as the second Around the World dish!  Until next time sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

**Peas, Love and BBQ Pavo**

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“Wine is bottled poetry.”

July 21, 2010 at 10:17 AM (Uncategorized) ()

Boy do I agree with Robert Louis Stephenson.  There is nothing that makes me happier than a glass of wine at the end of the day.  Everything about it makes me happy, the taste, the complexities, all of it!  And recently, I have taken it upon myself to really learn about wine, how it’s made, what the best years were, regions that different wines come from and why, etc.  Really take in the time to smell, taste and swirl (unless you’ve just spent the day with hundreds of political activists, then I usually just uncork and drink… no glass needed.)

One problem I’ve come across is the best wines tend to be (DUH!) more expensive.  My favorite wine in the world is Chateauneuf-du-Pape which doesn’t run cheap.  In fact, the cheaper bottles start around $50-60 a bottle!  And I’m certainly not someone that can afford that!  Buying wine to me is like shopping for shoes; you want to find something your comfortable with, within your budget, and something you know you’ll enjoy.  But every once in a while, you get adventurous, find something you haven’t tried before, and splurge a little.  For the everyday stuff, when you’d like to always have a bottle of wine around, I try to keep it cheap.  And for those of you who do the same, or who are really just starting to learn about wine, here’s an article I found really interesting:

5 Ways to Sex Up a Bargain Wine Bottle

Now if only I could get Belinda’s job, I’d be good to go.  Happy Reading!

*Peas, Love and Tannins*

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She Sells Sea Shell(fish) by the Sea Shore

July 15, 2010 at 4:22 PM (Uncategorized) (, , )

This past weekend my mom came from Connecticut to visit which was great because visitors to me screams restaurant time!!!  This is when I head to Open Table, Travel & Leisure and Food & Wine for recommendations in my area.  Her visit prompted me to finally try the Bedford Village Inn right outside Manchester.  Now we all know I’ve bitched and complained about the food around here, in fact, I’ve been waiting for a meal at a restaurant around here that really was satisfying…well ladies and gentlemen! I’ve found it!

There are a number of reasons I absolutely will be making the BVI my “go-to” restaurant in my remaining months here in New Hampshire.  One, of course, as mentioned the quality of food.  Nothing was over-salted (cough cough Firefly cough), undercooked or bland.  The second reason is actually the main reason I love this place: they have three different restaurants in the Inn and regardless of where you eat, the tavern, the restaurant or Corks, the wine bar, you can choose from any of the three menus.  So if you want a more contemporary feeling place with lounge type music but want the high end food from the main restaurant you can.  Or if you want a cheese platter while dressed down in the tavern, you can!  There is also a great wine list.  Corks, which I said before, is the wine bar set up at BVI and it was great.  They had Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc by the glass which is EXACTLY what I was looking for on a hot Friday like last week.

I also felt like I had walked into any restaurant in DC walking into Corks.  It most reminded me of Veritas in Dupont which is a fantastic wine and cheese bar I would highly recommend down there.  It’s definitely a “hidden gem” as you’ve probably driven past it 100 times and just never knew it was there.  I digress!  To the food!  My mother had a veggie pizza that was to DIE for, and I ordered their bamboo steamed shrimp and scallops that came over lo mein noodles with a somewhat spicy soy sauce on it.  It was so good.  I would recommend this place to anyone having to visit the Manchester area.  So happy I finally found a place where I KNOW I’ll get a good plate of food!

Just when I thought I had probably the only good restaurant meal I’ll have in Manchester, we found Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier on Saturday after some retail therapy.  Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier is over the water in Kittery Point, Maine and it is the quintessential place to have lobster!  As you can see, even Travel & Leisure Magazine agrees!!  You eat at picnic tables, wear Lobster bibs, and BYOB.  It is THE best way to experience lobster– here’s the little sucker they made mine:

This was the sweetest, most succulent lobster I have ever had.  It doesn’t even need the drawn butter!  And seriously, if anyone tries to tell you lobster is best in a restaurant, they are clearly out of their minds.  The ONLY way to eat lobster is at a picnic table, fingers covered in shell and a mug of beer next to you.  End of story.  So if you have a chance, get to Chauncey Creek, its absolutely unreal.  Dang it now my mouth’s watering!

Okay, since we’re talking shellfish, let’s talk this week’s Top Chef — since I’ve already written a novel on those 2 restaurants, I’ll make my summary quick.  Here goes:

Crab Quickfire challenge = awesome because everyone knows the best place to get lobster is (well duh) Maine, crawfish is NOLA, and crab is MURALAND (that’s Maryland for all you non district readers).

Fresh Farm Market elimination challenge = also good because of the amazing fresh farm markets DC has to offer… HOWEVER they traveled to Virginia for this one.  Yeah, adds to the beef I have with this season (pun, INtended).

Amanda still drives me nuts, I’m still angry Nelson is gone, and now the Maryland homeboy has been axed.  I’m pretty sure I’m still right though about Tamesha soooo keep an eye on that.

Well thanks for reading!  Until next time, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

**Peas, Love and Lobstah**

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I really gotta get better at this thing!

May 13, 2010 at 11:25 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

Alright, alright, so I said the haitus was over… I was wrong.  Here I am almost 5 months to the day from my last post JUST opening this blog up for the first time since I wrote on Jan. 20.  I swear I need to get better at this thing.  Not just because I have ya know, you 2 readers (that means you Adam and Harry) but I really do have a passion for food and wine.  And I’d really like to get into it as a hobby, so until Food & Wine Magazine calls me to replace Gail on Top Chef  as a judge, I’ll just have to settle for a food and wine blog.

What helps is my dad has now recognized my passion for it… meaning he’s helping me learn the complexities of wine.  I went home to CT about three weeks ago where my dad has now made me the sommolier…I’m in charge of picking the wine.  He certainly knows more than I do, and hell, it’s his cellar so he knows what’s in there!  But I love the challenge.  He’s given me his password to Wine Spectator and I have been spending WAY too much time on websites like Snooth.com.  There I can rank, comment and even buy wine.  They sometimes like to put up recipes to pair with the wine they are showcasing that day/week.  Food and wine has truly been becoming a passion.  And yes I include recipes in this blog, but the more I think about it, the more I love just the taste of food.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking, but we all know there’s no shot in hell for me to ever become Sandra Lee or Giada DiLaurentiis.

Unfortunately for me, I have moved to a city where the food is…well…alright.  Trust me, this isn’t the place celebrity chefs come to open restaurants.  There are a couple places I could write about (and will) but it’s one thing I do really miss about DC, the food.  Luckily for me, I live less than an hour from Boston and have a boyfriend who lives in Providence where the Italian food is just…well the best.  Manchester also has a Farmer’s Market, thank GOD! Lord knows I couldn’t survive without one, Eastern Market was the best part of my Sundays.  Anyways, I do plan on keeping this up now and will definitely be including recipes as I go along.  I did venture out and make creamy champagne pork chops the other night so I’ll have to crack that back out and include it in here.  I’ve also been trying to perfect the pizza and calzone (some of you know it as stromboli) so I’ll keep updating the attempts at that!

Hopefully this blog will catch on, maybe catch someone’s eye, because let’s face it…I’m an English Lit major who loves food and wine whose losing interest in her current career…any takers?! No?! Okay. Maybe later…until then, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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Swimming Upstream

September 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Alright, alright, you know I’m trying to get used to this blogging thing, so I apologize again for the delayed new post.  My association had its board meeting last week so there was no way I had time to cook for myself.  Anyway!  I am here now with a new post, new review and a new recipe that is easy, cheap and delicious!

As I said, last week was my board meeting which went well, but on our last day, a couple of my coworkers and I wanted to thank one of our colleagues for allowing us to make him our bitch all last week.  So instead of sticking around for the “make your own deli sandwich” looking display, we headed around the corner to Bistro Bis located at the Hotel George near Union Station.  Bistro Bis has (obviously) French/Belgian cuisine and is known for being a place to spot top legislators and lobbyists due to its close proximity to the Capitol building.  And for those of you who actually care about seeing that stuff on your lunch break, I still wouldn’t recommend this place.

I had been here once or twice before and the food is decent, but it doesn’t stand out as being a place that is unique or worth the money.  If you really want mussels, go to Granville Moore’s on H street, NE (and on Monday’s they are half off!).  And if you really want Belgian cuisine, I recommend Brasserie Beck on 12th.

The food not being memorable was one thing, but the service was entirely different.  I understand that you’ll catch a place on a bad day once, and maybe it’ll keep you from there for a while, but this was so bad, I’m never going back.  Not only did it take our food an hour and a half to get to the table, but our server was horrendous.  We didn’t see him through most of our wait time, and when we did, he blamed our wait on the kitchen.  Now, I don’t know how many of you have worked in the service industry, but here’s what your job entails… making sure the customer is all set.  No one cares whose fault it is that you brought me the wrong wine, or that my food is cold, or that I’ve now been sitting here for over an hour for a $13 cheeseburger.  Your job is to come over to the table, apologize, and make sure we have everything else we need, not blame someone else.  Another faux pas, we didn’t see a manager until the food had actually come out… and they forgot part of our order.  Yeah, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Sooo needless to say, I will not be frequenting Bistro Bis anytime soon, or basically ever again.  There are too many other places where the food stands out and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg that I would rather waste my time and money thank you very much.

Phew, now that I have gotten that rant out of the way, I have a delicious and easy recipe that is good for anytime of year.  I got this from my brother who can cook with the best of them.  He made it while I was home in August and it was divine.  It’s Maple Baked Salmon with rice pilaf and asparagus.

Now as I was getting everything prepared and ready to cook, I switched on the TV to see what could entertain my ears while I watch my food cook…low and behold, my favorite movie Across the Universe was on.  I knew it was going to be a good night.  I am a HUGE Beatles fan, and this movie did a great job telling a story through some of their finest song writing.  It’s wicked trippy, so for those of you who would like to stay away from the psychedelic, I would not recommend this movie… I also suggest we stop begin friends.  So, now that I’ve got my Beatles tunes through the eyes of Julie Taymor, my food prepped and my wine poured, its time to cook!

So about this maple syrup, I’m not talking about your Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin maple “syrup” aka CRAP.  What you need is the REAL New England Maple Syrup.  It’s going to be the most expensive piece of this meal you buy, but use it, (especially the next time you have pancakes), I promise, you’ll never want to go back to the rubbery stuff.  Everything else for the meal will probably cost about $10-15 depending on where you get your fish.

I got just over a half a pound of Salmon because I was cooking for one.  The best part about that size, I could have definitely cooked for two (that means leftovers woo!).  Also, just grab a small batch of asparagus and a box of rice pilaf and you’re ready to go!

Utensils you will need includes a pastry brush, casserole dish, frying pan, and a pot.

To get started, preheat the oven to 350.  While the oven is heating up, paint the bottom of the casserole dish with the maple syrup, just enough to cover the space the fish will take up while you bake it.  Then place the fish over that area and paint more syrup to the top and sides of the salmon.  If you like things sweeter, you can add a couple coats.  Once you have put the salmon in the oven, bake for 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the piece you have.

Once the fish is in the oven, begin cooking your rice pilaf, this will also take about 20-25 minutes.  The directions are right on the box, so I won’t get into those details for you.

When there’s about 10 minutes left, put your asparagus on the frying pan and fry until soft.  You’ll notice they will start turning a vibrant, beautiful green as they cook.  You can cook them by covering the frying pan with a top and letting the asparagus sweat itself, or do what I do, which is toss them in a little olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and let them cook.

When you’re all done cooking, making a nice display out of this dish is just too easy.  Spread some rice pilaf on the bottom of the dish then some asparagus stalks, then place the piece of fish on top of it all.  If you’ve cooked the fish enough, the skin will part from the meat as you slide the spatula in between them.

salmon

It looks so fancy, but is so easy!  Like I said, I cooked for one, but had enough of everything for leftovers for tonight, so cooking this meal for two will not cost you anymore than it cost me.

Now to recommend some wine.  I frequented my favorite wine shop, Au Domaine, where they just so happened to be having an Italian wine tasting (man was Saturday my lucky day!).  There, I tried a Pinot Bianco from the Northern region of Italy.  I knew this would be a great compliment to this dish since it has beautiful flavors, but dries the more you drink it.  This compliments the sweet of the maple syrup on the salmon.

vino

The picture of the label below is a little fuzzy, but the wine comes from the di Leonardo vineyards and runs about $10.99.  It’s a great wine to drink the day you buy it, or a couple weeks down the road and is well within a reasonable price range.

Alright kids, well I hope you enjoy this dish, I know it’s one I will be making again (and again and again).  Watch out for another post up here this week/weekend since I need to start expanding my stomach for the Sicilian food fest that is my trip Providence, RI next weekend.  Anyway, until then sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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