Thursday, September 29, 2005

Lasang Pinoy: Sandwich Spread Coming to a Storm Near You!

I grew up in pleasant California, where the fiercest storms are mere drizzles compared to the drenches here in Cleveland, which themselves are probably breezy showers compared to the typhoons of the Philippines, not to mention Hurricanes Katrina & Rita.

So I was sort of stumped by the latest Lasang Pinoy theme of storm food, and I turned to the 'rents, who grew up with the yearly Filipino typhoon. What I learned was that you don't eat fish during a storm. Why? Most all the fish in the Philippines is sold and eaten fresh, and if there's a storm a'comin, well, the fishermen decide it's not such a great idea to be out in the water. And you make rice right away, because who knows when the power might be knocked out, and who knows when it might be knocked back on.

So what are you left with? Like every place else in the world, they turn to the old emergency situation food standbys - canned food. They last ages, they don't need to be refridgerated, and they don't require cooking. In the Philippines and among us second generation-ers, the favorite canned foods are Spam, corned beef, and Vienna sausages.

But when I usually eat Spam or corned beef or Vienna sausage, there's not much to it: you open, you fry or otherwise heat up, you eat. Is that worth an entire post? WELL, IS IT, PUNK? Well, yes, but suppose you're feeling a little hungry after a natural catastrophe and you feel like something a little fancier than cold canned corned beef ... again?

You could mix up some Vienna Sausage Sandwich Spread.

First you get two cans of Vienna sausage.

Note that they are made of "Mechanically separated chicken". Maybe gourmet canned Vienna sausage is made from hand separated organic chicken?

Mash them up in a bowl. Try one or two. Not bad, eh?

Mix in some mayo, a couple spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish, a spoonful of sugar, a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add chopped hard boiled egg if you're that kind of person.

I added diced cheddar. Some paprika. Chives. Olive oil. You know, whatever's handy. Chill if you like, or not, try to ignore its incredibly unappealing appearance and have on bread or crackers, and enjoy nature's destructive power!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Michael Symon, the Cleveland chef at Lola, will be on the Food Network's Iron Chef America! He's up against Iron Chef Morimoto. Alton Brown described him and his sous chefs as looking like a gang of motorcycle thugs.

This is gonna be good.

October 02, 2005 9:00 PM ET/PT
October 03, 2005 1:00 AM ET/PT
October 06, 2005 10:00 PM ET/PT
October 07, 2005 2:00 AM ET/PT
October 08, 2005 7:00 PM ET/PT
October 08, 2005 11:00 PM ET/PT
October 09, 2005 3:00 AM ET/PT

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Foodgoat and I have developed, how shall I describe it?, a taste - a habit. Our supplier knows us well - we've been regulars for months now - and we meet up with her every week, same time, same place. She bags up a pound of the stuff without having to ask what we want. What we need. Foodgoat can space himself out, a little bit each day, He's always had more self control. But me, I tend to go through my supply in just days, sneaking into it while Foodgoat is distracted, promising myself I'll indulge just this one time more. But recently - I don't know if I can say this - it's gotten worse. I've started trying it in ... other forms.

Now you know. I have a $10 a week pistacio nut addiction. We go through a pound a week. Then last week I pushed and shoved my way through the frozen food aisle of Trader Joe's to get at the chocolate pistacio mousse cake. It was bright green and didn't really taste that much like the fresh pistacio nuts, nor did I detect any nutty bits, but it was delicious and sweet, and for a minute, I was sated.

But was that enough? NO! The next day, I snatched up a pint of Haagen Dacz pistacio ice cream. This was not at all bright green - in fact, it was just vanilla ice cream with some (but not enough!) pistacio pieces spread throughout. Not bad, but I felt like I could have just as easily sprinkled my pistacios onto vanilla.

When I proposed making the package of pistacio pudding, Foodgoat drew the line.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Go Tribe

The Tribe are emerging as the team that COULD ... GO ... ALL ... THE ... WAY!

While the A's are sort of sucking. Which means it must be the end of the baseball season. You can set your clock by the A's wild card race meltdown, I tell ya.

A few weeks ago we went to an Indians-A's matchup at Jacobs Field. I'm all about baseball games, but let's face it, the food at the ball park sometimes not so good. Which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't also charge you an arm and a leg for a bleeaaah hot dog.

But Foodgoat and I outsmarted them! Ha ha! We ate BEFORE the game, OUTSIDE the park. Mwah ha ha!

Here we hit Foodgoat's regular stop before football games, Panini's, where the star menu item is the overstuffed sandwich. Overstuffed with french fries and coleslaw, those culinary renegades! Slapped together with the speed and finesse of a Jhonny Peralta and Ronnie Belliard doing a 5-4-3 double play!

Our server nicely smiled for me, and for his trouble I cut off his forehead.

So big! So good! So filling! And no, not all my sandwich descriptions end up sounding kind of homoerotic. Just most of them.

And now the view from our seats right behind home plate and surrounded by people, who, oddly enough, really knew their baseball. Even that one guy behind us who told his friend that football was boring because nothing happens (!!). But then Wedge got ejected and the lights went out for half an hour, and I got distracted by the beer guy.

Go Tribe! They won, and let's all hope they keep on winning (so I can move back to California ... okay, I have ulterior motives!).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Blog Party #2: Tiki

After my sorority initiation, we celebrated at the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar in San Francisco's Fairmount Hotel. Amid the Bay Area fog and Union Square sophistication, it was a kitschy, campy fake Polynesian paradise, featuring a tiki-boat-cum-stage that floats across the pool with a full band, and a "monsoon" and thunderstorm that sprays the dance floor every half hour. I don't remember a thing about the food, but I do remember a partaking in a few gigantic tropical drinks for four people that might have been called a Scorpion Bowl. (Perhaps that explains why I do remember spending part of the evening sliding down the Fairmount staircase bannisters).

But the Tonga Room is hardly the best known of Bay Area's tiki attractions. That honor goes to Oakland's Trader Vic's, one of the original tiki-themed restaurants and soon after opening in 1936, one of the most popular watering holes of its time. Trader Vic's gave us the original Mai Tai. I've never been there, but the December 2004 Saveur has a delightful article on it, and more importantly, some intriguing recipes from the restaurant.

The one I wanted to try was Bongo Bongo soup. With a name like that, who could resist?

It is made of spinach, fresh oysters, and a bit of clam juice, in a lot of half and half, and flavored with hot sauce, Worcestshire sauce, and A-1 sauce ... a pureed spinach and oyster bisque, I suppose. It was creamy and delicious, and went well with our crab cakes to a light, sea-worthy meal. Easy to make, tasty to eat, and above all, fun to say. Bongo bongo!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Grovewood Tavern Wine Dinner

Cleveland people, have you gone to Grovewood Tavern yet? The place rocks.

And I'm not only saying that just because Foodgoat and I were invited by the owner to one of their monthly wine dinners last night (now that is how you treat a food blogger).

The theme of the evening was "The Low Country" around Charleston, South Carolina, with its flavorful African and Caribbean influences of the Gullah culture. Matching each of the six courses was an equally bold Australian wine from Old Bridge Cellars. This was my first time experiencing really well thought out food-wine pairings, and it was splendid - the wines were great, the food was great, and the two together even better. Weird, huh?

We sat at a table with the owners and the wine distributors, and had scintillating conversation, discovering many common bonds, including the love of beer, bacon, and CHEESE (mmmmmm, cheese). People who love food are always the best conversationalists. Oh, and the chef was Filipino! They have chicken adobo on the regular menu!! Am I in Cleveland?!!

The wine distributor introduced each wine and provided a lot of very informative background information about Australian wine and the wineries, such as the fact that some of them were foot-trodden (!).

The first course, the she crab soup (with crunchy pink roe in it!) was paired with the delectable Mak Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It so unusual and so delicious a white wine that we brought three bottles of it home.

The food highlight of the evening for Foodgoat was this macadamia-crusted grouper with grilled cornbread and especially the field pea relish, that was served with Olive Grove Chardonnay. I liked it too, but was mostly happy that I didn't have an allergic reaction to the macademia.

Next up, shrimp with house-made tasso ham, tomato and sweet peppers over stone-ground asiago grits, with Stump Jump Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre.

Then came wonderful, tender pork tenderloin medallions, maple-brined, with fried green tomatoes and eggplant marmalade. With this we had High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon.

And now we come to the pecan-crusted quail, with spiced praline sweet potato pone, and wilted greens with goat cheese and balsamic reduction. It came with another Mak, the Clare Valley Shiraz, which was lovely, smooth, and perfect for late night philosophical debates with friends. We bought more of this to take home, too.

I've never had quail, and here, in my pecan-less version, I was faced with what looked like a whole, tiny chicken. It dictated my having to rip it apart limb from limb so as to suck the tender yet delicious meat from its tiny, delicate bones.

And finally ... fresh peaches with sabayon in an almond tuile cup, and yummy, sweet Chambers Rutherglen Muscat. At one point during dinner, our companions had waxed poetic about the rareness and sweetness of a peach that's just right ... these peaches were close.

At the end, they also provided everyone with a booklet of the recipes from each of the courses, so you could recreate them at home. At first I thought they were giving away their secrets, but then again, the reason we like Grovewood (and why we really enjoyed the wine dinner) wasn't just the food, but the fine food and fine wine in a setting that's remarkably low key and relaxed (a bowling alley used to be where our table was).

Friday, September 9, 2005


Posts for your perusal ...

-Agrobusiness behemoth Monsanto, as part of their plan to rule the world one phrase at a time plan, sends a cease and desist to the fine, lowly blogger Bitter Greens Journal for using the term "Roundup Ready." If ever there was a sign that there are too many lawyers in the world ....

-Does the blogosphere needs more food events? Yes, yes, a thousant times yes! The latest is Bacon Press' call for September as Eat Uncomfortable Month. As he so eloquently puts it, "How about opening your frickin' mind?" Word.

-Gridskipper points us to the Hobbit House, a bar in Manila decked out Tolkien-style and staffed by Little People. I don't know if I want to go there or not. Is it bad if I do or is it bad if I don't? I'm so confused.

-Usually I go to Monkey in the News for the latest on chimps wearing blue pants on the loose in Ohio, but sometimes they provide monkey casserole and ape stew recipes.

-Things I want: Godzilla eggs, wasabi donuts, a spice ring, Nazi chocolate grenades and plum bombs, ice cube shot glasses, and a frontgating griller.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Despite egregious neglect and a very late start, my tomato plants have shot up to eye level, and are yielding bite size bursts of flavor!

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday: Warre's Warrior Port

I haven't felt like blogging, what with the end of the world here and all. First Katrina, then Gilligan dies, now a Satanic tomato. Coincidence? I think not.

So, let us enjoy the moment, for tomorrow some other catastrophe awaits. Wine Blogging Wednesday gives us the perfect pre-Apocalypse dessert: Like Wine For Chocolate, wine and chocolate cake.

Unfortunately, we at Foodgoat ... well, we don't bake. DO NOT make Foodgoat measure anything. Just ... don't.

So w're eating a bar of (pre-Hershey) Scharffen-Berger dark chocolate instead.

And, taking a cue from a bar I read about in Food & Wine, we're also pairing the chocolate and wine with caramel sauce.

If you're going for decadent, you might as well go all the way.

First, eat a spoonful of Narsai's Butter Caramel Decadence sauce. Actually, the bar had you smearing caramel sauce on the palm of your hand to lick off, but licking food off of body parts? Eww. Anyway, this caramel is real thing - do not insult me with your caramel-flavored topping! - and is creamier and more buttery than anything you ever put in your mouth.

Follow it with a sip of port. We tried Warre's Warrior Special Reserve Port, and found it deliciously sweet and smooth. Foodgoat may love port for cooking, but I am becoming quite fond of port for port's sake.

And finally, bite into a piece of fine dark chocolate. Scharffen-Berger, of course, is preferred. While Foodgoat still prefers the chocolate-coffee combination, he admits that the port (not the caramel so much, though it's still good too) brings out another aspect of the chocolate flavor. Port and chocolate is sort of an obvious pairing, but it's still a good one.

Now excuse me while I eat the rest of the jar of caramel sauce.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Blog Relief Day

It is a little surreal, and kind of frightening, watching a part of the United States hit by death and destruction and then descend into chaos and anarchy.

In times of crisis I turn to food, and Hurricane Katrina has induced the Great Cheese and Crackers Consumption. Tall towers of crackers and smoked gouda have been swallowed up in the past week. Even at work I'm anxiously nibbling all the crappy cheese and crackers I can get from the vending machine.

I don't really know what else to do, except to make a plea for the charity of my choice at this time, America’s Second Harvest, which is the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. Many other bloggers are trying to raise funds for relief efforts to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina (also see Instapundit's roundup).