Friday, January 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Foodgoat!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bonny Doon Vineyard

When I was a kid, I used to climb onto the kitchen counter, sneak into the cabinets, and eat Nestle Quick chocolate powder straight up with a spoon.

My sweet tooth is satisfied these days by slightly more refined foods.

Dessert wines, for example. The pool noodles of my recent wades into the wine pool have been dessert wines: sweet and fruity. Some, of course, are nicer than others.

Bonny Doon Framboise, a raspberry wine, won us over right away, being smooth and delicious and full of berry-ness. It's like raspberry syrup, except it makes you boozy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tryout Tuesday: Brennan's Colony

Brennan's Colony
2299 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights

In the middle of our dinner at Brennan's Colony, a family occupied the booth behind us, complete with a couple of kids running around.

Leading Foodgoat to wonder: how come he never got to eat at a bar when he was a kid?

The closest I came to a bar as a kid was losing my parents at the shopping mall and sneaking into the one bar in my town to see if they were there. They weren't.

But back to Tryout Tuesday. Brennan's Colony is an old-fashioned neighborhood tavern: worn wood booths, a long bar perched with a variety of types taking in beer, cable news and sports, a Ms. Pacman video game, and good food.

Foodgoat ordered, of course, from the bar menu: beginning with hot wings. They had that crispy, perfectly-fried texture that wings so often woefully lacks, and powerful enough spice to clear out my sinuses just by breathing in the aroma.
Wings were followed by a grilled chicken sandwich with mushrooms and cheese, and a side of onion rings. I, on the other hand, ordered from the fancy dinner menu, surprisingly sophisticated for such a modest place. See how prettily the food is presented?

That's grilled pork chops with sweet potato mashies and bleu cheese butter. On the recommendation of the waiter, I was brave and for the first time ordered something medium instead of well-done, every so slightly pink in the middle. I was rewarded by the juiciest, most succulent cut of pork I've ever had. And so far, no ill effects.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Food Pairing

Foodgoat & I may have reached, rather late to the game, a new level of foodie-ness: we've discovered food pairing.

One day we picked up, in addition to our usual black coffee, some sweet pastries. The coffee had always been good, and the demises and such were fine, but together ...!

The bitter edge of black coffee beautifully balanced by the dry, buttery richness of the pastries.

In contrast, later experiments found:
Mochas + pastries = way too sweet
Pastries + green tea = weird
confirming that:
Black coffee + sweet pastries = delightful
And then came the great Cake Donut Revelation. Neither Foodgoat nor I have been great fans of cake donuts. So dry, so heavy, so unglazed.

Until we found that:
Black coffee + cake donuts = yummy!!!
What had made them so plain before now made them the perfect accompaniment and dunking medium to strong, hot, black coffee. And we've become great fans of cake-style donuts.

And now I have an idea of what all those wine-pairing discussions are all about. It seems dishes are enhanced when served with complementary foods; a meal, then, is best conceived of as a whole, rather than disparate parts.

Who knew?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Is My Blog Burning? 11: Black Bean-Mushroom Chili

What says beans more than chili?

And what warms you more on a cold, cold January weekend than slow-cooker chili?

And what could be tastier than a vegetarian slow-cooker chili?

Well, maybe an extra-meaty chili, I admit. But this chili was remarkably full, delicious (not that much different from carnivorous versions), and probably much healthier. It tastes like chili, which is to say, yummy, and not some bland knockoff like so many healthy versions of recipes tend to taste like.

Things I learned while making this:

1) The bread knife chops tomatoes better than all the other knives.

2) Tomatillos can be substituted with regular tomatoes with a dash of lemon juice

3) Tomato paste can be substituted with twice the volume of tomato puree

4) Not even the prospect of chili can get me out of the house in a snowstorm just to pick up a few missing ingredients.


(Eating Well, Winter 2004, p. 57)
1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried back beans
1 T olive oil
1/4 c mustard seeds
2 T chili powder
1.5 t cumin seeds
1/2 t cardamon seeds
2 med onions, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb tomatillos, chopped
1/4 c water
5.5 c broth
1 can tomato paste
2 T minced canned chipotle peppers
1.25 c grated Monteray Jack cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c chopped cilantro
2 limes, in wedges

1. Soak beans overnight in 2 qts water. Drain.
2. Combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamon in a big pot. Place over high heat and still until spices sizzle, about 30 sec. Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and water. Cover & cook, stir occasionally, until veggies are juicy (5-7 minutes). Uncover and stir until juices evaporate and veggies are lightly browned (10-15 min).
3. Places beans in the slow cooker. Pour the veggies over the beans, add broth, tomato paste and chipotles and mix well. Turn heat onto high, cover and cook 5-8 hours.
4. Serve it up with a topping of cheese, sour cream and cilantro and a couple of lime wedges.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Hail to the Chef

Some people get annoyed by the occasional political talk here. They hurrumph that such opinions have no business in a food blog.

But some people will also elect, as leader of the free world, a man who calls the President of Russia "Pootie-Poot."

And so, with relish, more about President Shrub's inaugural eats!

-As Texas descended upon our nation's capital, they brought with them (to the dismay of locals, the NYT notes) a new delicacy: merlot with 7-Up, described as a Texas version of sangria. Isn't this a wine spritzer? Just asking.

-Now this is more like it: Swift Report describes the inaugural dinner, a veritable smorgasbord of the corporations that donated most heavily to the Bush campaign. Forget the quail. Dinner featured, among other things, turkey (Pilgrim's Pride, brined in Coca-Cola) with stuffing (made from Dunkin' Donuts), and Snowballs (made of Krispy Kreme) in Hot Fudge (made from Nestlé Nesquick).

portion size

Courtesy of the Washington Post comes this illustration of the new dietary guidelines.

Though I'm actually enjoying all the vegetables, that's rather tiny bit of meat there, isn't it? Lately I have been dutifully limiting meat portions to the size of my palm, which is roughly 3 ounces, I believe. It was all going well, until last night when apparent trans-fat deprivation led me into an uncontrollable rampage for burgers and fries at the local Wendy's. That's my defense, your Honor.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

4 more beers!

Dear me, did your tickets to today's re-coronation and inaugural luncheon get lost in the mail too? Pity. Look what we missed:
Scalloped Crab and Lobster
Roasted Missouri Quail
Brined Root Vegetables
Steamed Lemon Pudding
Apple Wild Cherry Compote
Windsor Vineyards, 2004 Sauvignon Blanc
Mendocino County, Private Reserve
Windsor Vineyards, 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
Sonoma County, Signature Series
Korbel Natural “Special Inaugural Cuvée” Champagne
At least we still have the recipes.

I must say though - quail? Who eats quail? Quail eggs, I've heard, are delish, but roasted quail sounds rather too delicate and timid. Wouldn't our beloved warmonger prefer steak tartare? Or a big, beefy filet mignon? Or Cheney favorite, Rocky Mountain Oysters?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

the most anticipated movie of 2005

Forget Star Wars: ROTS, my money's on the big-screen version of cult favorite Strangers With Candy. Just imagine the face of Jerri Blank, perhaps one of the grotesque characters ever to grace Comedy Central, on the big screen!

The film is playing next week at Sundance, and is the only thing that has even come close to making Utah sound vaguely worth visiting. Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick also star, which makes them, in addition to giving their child a name like James instead of Romaine or Ocean or Inspektor, among the hippest of the A-listers.
As for Amy Sedaris, her hip factor is not only hi-LAR-ious style, but the fact that she makes and sells cupcakes on the side. The Amateur Gourmet had one. Lucky guy.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Always ahead of the curve

What should be first in the latest Saveur 100, a yearly list of favorite things, than a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven with a flat, lipped lid?

It's one of several items on the list for cooking in the fireplace. Great concept, hmm? I'm further tempted by this fireplace grill (#58 on the Saveau 100). And this coming just after we figured out that the second chimney on the house must be for a fireplace that used to be in the kitchen, but is now covered up with plaster and tile. Pity. I wonder what Foodgoat would think of opening up the wall and restoring the kitchen hearth?

Fortunately, now we have a big pot of stew as incentive for fixing up the living room fireplace.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Instead of mashed potatoes

Creamy Pureed Cauliflower
(from this month's issue of Eating Well)

Okay, so I didn't take that picture - I sniped it from the Eating Well website. But when I made this (it was the first thing I made using the spiffy new food processor we got) it looked just like that. Honest.
1 head of cauliflower, floret-ed and steamed until very tender
4 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and cooked with cauliflower
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Snipped fresh chives for garnish

Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve hot.

No. No. No.
Buttered Mashed Potaotoes Classic Filled Candle
(via jerz)
If you're going to sell a very wrong product, at least spell "potatoes" right.

Friday, January 14, 2005

so brilliant I'm in awe

(Ladygoat heart tater tots) + Foodgoat heart Darth Vader) = Darth Tater
(via bb)

Ladygoat Guidelines for Americans

Everybody should know by now that the feds came out with new Dietary Guidelines for Americans: recommendations include 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise, more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less sugar, sodium, and highly processed foods.

Yawn. It's all sounds so sensible.

My dietary guidelines would include more dark chocolate, a wider variety of tea and cheese, more orange vegetables, less of the assembly-line meats, limited intake of anything "instant," an abolition on high-fructose corn syrup, and least 30 minutes of sunshine (or puddle-splashing, as the case may be) a day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tryout Tuesday: Anatolia Cafe, South Euclid

Every time we go to ZaZa, we walk by Anatolia Cafe, Cleveland's first Turkish restaurant, and are nearly lured in by the delicious and mysterious smells of ... something tasty. Why resist? We entered the bright and cheerful restaurant and had our first go at Turkish food.

A ha! Caught on film! That's Foodgoat eating liver. And liking it. Which goes to show you how good the Sautéed Liver Cubes (Arnavut Ci?eri) were, because Foodgoat, unlike me, hates liver. Veal liver was breaded, fried, served with lemon and red onions, and lacked the grainy texture that Foodgoat so dreads. He actually finished off his share.

My dish: Adana, which is chopped lamb flavored with peppers, and slightly seasoned with paprika and grilled on skewers. I've never had lamb before, but based on this, I like it. It was incredibly juicy, tender, and quite flavorful. Foodgoat had his share of lamb in the famous (at least that's how our waiter described it) iskender, which was slices of marinated lamb with a yogurt sauce. Quite good too. He didn't finish it, but I imagine it would make an excellent sandwich tomorrow.

Everything at Anatolia was good and fun, except for the yogurt drink which was just straight-up liquid yogurt with ice. Not my cup of tea. Now if there was mango in it, that's another story. But anyway, fun place, good food, which is all the more surprising considering that it's in a beat-up, run-down strip mall.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Home on the range

Some women want diamonds for Christmas. I wanted a Dutch oven.

It's a massive, 12-inch Lodge cast iron camp Dutch oven. The lid not only has a helpful lip in order to hold hot coals but could be used as a bulletproof shield in case Canada gets grabby and tries to annex Cleveland. (Come to think of it, would that be such a terrible thing?)
We still haven't geared up the fortitude to barbeque in the snow, but we did use the oven inside the kitchen to make a bison stew. Foodgoat browned cubes of bison meat in olive oil and chopped carrots, added leftover French onion soup, celery, and a bottle (minus a swig or two) of his favorite beer, and heaved the whole thing into the oven. An hour later, a hot, filling, dinner, and a sudden urge to play Oregon Trail. The meat was a wee bit dense but it's a buffalo, after all. This ain't no angel food cake.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Foodgoat and the Chocolate Sweat Shop

Why go to the factory when you can get the labor for free? While in Cali we had help in making chocolate-espresso truffles.

Foodgoat and the Chocolate Factory

I had a dream - a humble dream - that one day, I would visit the chocolate factory.

Specifically, the Scharffen-Berger chocolate factory in Berkeley. It was, I was convinced, the Willie Wonka factory here on earth.

Then last month, Foodgoat, my siblings, and I were at the Berkeley farmer's market, on the precipice of a decision: go home, or go search for the legendary factory. They left the decision to me. I seized my opportunity.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Except ...

that I had seriously underestimated the distance we had to walk ...

And (according to Foodgoat), I had seriously underestimated the dangers of the neighborhoods we had to walk through. I, having worked in that neighborhood, aver that it was not skid row, but he would have none of that.

Hence, the very cross and battle-scarred look on his face when we finally did stumble upon Cafe Cacao.

I was a bit disappointed with the drinks: tasty, yes, at those prices and sizes, ahem, no. Did they not know what I had gone through to get there? Was suffering not emblazoned on our faces? Could they not see that a dainty cup of iced chocolate wasn't going to cut it today?

Fortunately, though we arrived sans reservation, we still managed to get into the Scharffen-Berger factory tour. Even more fortunately, they provided samples. The milk chocolate was surprisingly good, the dark chocolate was delicious, the chocolate nibs were crunchy and not-at-all sweet.

And then: the tour. Hairnets were helpfully provided.

The whole operation was smaller than I thought. The most Willie-Wonka-ish moment of the tour: the cocoa bean crushing machine. Unfortunately there was a forbidding yellow line and a tour guide named Tagen between me and the biggest vat of melted chocolate that I've been in the presence of.

Monday, January 3, 2005

Crustaceans of the cross

Hello again, gentle readers, did you think we forgot about you? Well, as a matter of fact, I did, sort of. Who can think about blogging when one is spending 10 days in rainy California? When one is spending the holiday season with one's family? When one only has access to an AOL dialup connection?

Everyone had a good time, except for Snippy here, who was steamed alive, before our unsympathetic eyes, in Foodgoat's first actual crabicide. One minute he was a-crawlin' around in the sink ... half an hour later we were using a nutcracker to get inside his tasty legs.

Ya got anything to say, PETA?