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Showing posts from November, 2011

Monday night out and about

So, it turns out the restaurant is called Villa Mozart, not Cafe Mozart as I wrote yesterday. It also turns out that it's a great little restaurant. Good food, very reasonable prices and an atmosphere that said "we know what we're doing and don't need to be pretentious about it".

Since it was Monday, my selections were limited to meatless selections - and my dinner companions didn't let me forget it as they ordered the likes of a beautifully prepared carpaccio and a calamari appetizer that everyone raved about. Another appetizer that we shared was simply called Fungi, but to say it was "just mushrooms" wouldn't be fair. Here is how if is described on the menu -  Soft yellow polenta soufflĂ©, Oregon wild mushrooms, truffled fontina cheese fagottino. This I tried - this I would go back for.

I stuck with an arugula salad which had generous shavings of Grana Padano cheese and dressed simply with EVOO and balsamic. Interestingly, it was served with w…

Thanksgiving Dinner: It's all about the sides....

I actually love turkey. I particularly enjoy a fresh turkey sandwich on a crunchy ciabatta roll in the evening following Thanksgiving dinner. I do however, realize that turkey is basically a blank canvas that needs a strong supporting cast. That's why at our house on Thanksgiving, it's all about the sides. This year, there were eleven.


Some were pretty traditional like mashed potatoes, corn and my own guilty pleasure, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce. You know, that sweet jellied can shaped slab that your grandmother served. Cynthia won't go near it - I think it's the greatest stuff since sliced bread. Oh, those other things are pickled beets - not my favorite.

Then there were the vegetables, lots of them.
The oven baked sweet potatoes had just a hint of cayenne, dried chipotle, maple sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon (who knew?) to kick them up a notch. Wait, no one says that, right? The brussel sprouts were cooked with a little crispy bacon and some apple cider vinegar to bright…

Cranberries, Apples, Polenta and Pizza

Sunday night I was thinking about what my third Meatless Monday would bring. I imagined starting the day with one of the Odwalla protein drinks I wrote about a few posts back. However, Cynthia had other plans. Before I knew what was happening she was off to the kitchen and was busy putting together an "Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake" so that I would have something for breakfast. Yes, I know how lucky I am.

The recipe can be found here Epicurious. She wanted me to make sure to note that she made one small change to the recipe - the addition of 1 tablespoon of Boyajian Orange Oil in addition to the orange juice called for.
Lunch was leftovers, really good leftovers from a dish she had made for a pot luck she had attended a few days before. From another Epicurious recipe, this was "Polenta and Black Bean Casserole". This time, there were two fairly significant changes. The recipe calls for store bought polenta (you know, that tube o'polenta you see in the supermarke…

An unexpected breakfast treat in Dallas

I love it when I find an unexpected gem. That's exactly what happened when a local guy told me not to miss the breakfast tacos at Rusty Taco near the SMU campus in Dallas. Looking a lot like a converted gas station, this is the kind of place you might ride by all your life and never stop.

There are about seven styles of breakfast taco offered, all served on made in the store and freshly grilled soft tortillas. I had one each of the jalapeno sausage and the chorizo.

Also available are vegetarian versions, a brisket taco and several others. All are served with egg and cheese. Three house made hot sauces and several bottled sauces are available to add a heat level of your choice. Everything was fresh, served piping hot and the ingredients were full of savory goodness. If you're in Dallas and can get to one of their three locations, do. I'm going back for the lunch versions next time I'm in town.

Did I mention that all the breakfast tacos were only $2.00 each?

The five best restaurant meals I've ever had.....

This is hard, I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to eat at a lot of great places over the years. Sometimes, a great meal is all about the food, sometimes it is enhanced by the atmosphere, the service, the company or the occasion. These choices have probably been influenced by some combination of all of them. In no particular order....

The Water Lot Inn at the Fairmont Southhampton Hotel in Nassau Bermuda
Il Mulino in New York City (interestingly enough the second time was just OK) 
Felidia in New York City
Topolobampo in Chicago (happily, the second time was equally as good)
Le Florimond in Paris
I've had lots of other really amazing meals at places like The Inn at Little Washington (Little Washington, VA) , Le Bec Fin (Philadelphia), Po (NYC), Boulevard (San Francisco), Nola (New Orleans), Le Coq au Vin (Orlando) and many more. Somehow the  particular meals I had at the five I listed rise to the top. How about you?

Week two is in the books....

Last week I wrote about trying to keep the breakfast carbs to a minimum. Well, for this weeks version of Meatless Monday that didn't work out so well. My wife is from from a part of central Connecticut that is stocked with a broad variety of ethnic cultures and their respective foods. There are a lot of eastern Europeans and one of the things they do very well is bake. Breads, pastries, you name it, they do it well. The other day, Cynthia comes home from Wegmans with this.

Who can turn down a good Russian rye bread? Two slices toasted and buttered later, I've had a not so low carb but very tasty breakfast. Not as good as back in the Northeast, but pretty darn good.

I had decided to go to an Indian restaurant near my office for lunch that several of my coworkers had spoken highly of. I figured their buffet would offer a pretty broad variety of vegetarian dishes. Turns out they are closed as the sign on the door said "every Mondays". Back in the car I drove where else, …

When is honey, not?

Ran across this article and was honestly shocked. I've always understood that honey is one of the best things we can eat. If you are a honey lover like I am, read this article. I'm just happy that we buy our honey at farmer's markets.

With apologies to all my wine enthusiast friends....

...we are in the Golden Age for beer.


Anyone who knows me, knows I really enjoy beer. I don't mean that mass produced, tasteless, watery stuff that America in particular seemed to fall in love with through much of the 80s and 90s. I mean the wide variety of craft beers that are now widely available.The proliferation of craft and micro breweries during the past ten years has been amazing. You can now find really good stouts, porters, ales, special bitters and many other styles available at many grocery stores.

Then there are the specialty stores like Cork and Fork and Total Wine here in Northern Virginia that not only stock great beers but have staff that understand them and can offer first hand advice to buyers in a way that wine enthusiasts have expected for a very long time. Most of these specialty stores and even some of the better grocery chains, like Wegmans, allow you to purchase single bottles and mix and match six packs.

You thought this was a food blog didn't you? Wel…

This doesn't seem so hard.....yet

I've never been a big breakfast guy. Sure, sometimes on a weekend morning I'll do it up right with waffles, potatoes and sausage, but I don't eat eggs. Haven't since a childhood allergy. For me, breakfast often meant toast, an English muffin or a bagel. See a trend here? Right - carbs.

Back in the spring, my annual physical yielded some numbers I wasn't particularly happy with. I weighed the most I ever had, and although by societal standards today, I wasn't overweight, I just didn't feel right. My doctor told me I needed to cut back the carbs. Not so easy for someone who thinks bread, potatoes, pasta and beer are the four food groups.

I went looking for something I could have for breakfast that would replace the bread and bagels. After a little trial and error, Cynthia finally turned me onto Odwalla protein shakes. These little beauties fill me up, are modest in the calorie count and, although not carb free, have way less than a bagel and cream cheese. Oh…

Cyn is onboard!

This was key. After taking some good natured (I think) ribbing about the whole idea of me blogging, my wife Cynthia agreed that Meatless Mondays were a good idea. Not sure what each week will bring, but these are just a sample of her skill level.

Tomorrow is Monday already.....

So It Begins...

No, I'm not a vegetarian. I firmly believe a life devoid of (good) bacon isn't worth living. That having been said, I am embarking on what I hope will be a year long journey of Meatless Mondays.




Why? Well, because I want to is the most honest answer I have to offer. At age 58, and in reasonably good health, I already eat way less meat than at any other point in my life. Now I want to see if I can institutionalize that, at least one day a week.

Can I do it? I think so. After all this confirmed lover of craft beer gave up alcohol for 30 day periods each of the last two years just to prove that I could. The end game is nothing more than being able to say that I set a goal and accomplished it.

Will it be easy? I doubt it - but not for the obvious reasons. I certainly won't miss meat one day a week. However, I'll need help. First, my beautiful and talented wife is a very accomplished cook. You'll notice I didn't call her a chef because, being self taught, she feels …