Sometimes you want something light for dinner. I’ve cooked with a lot of cream and butter recently, so this week for dinner I wanted to offer some choices that were not as rich or heavy on the stomach.
Naturally, steak and eggs came to mind.
This Southwest-style steak and eggs dish came from Julia’s Album, a nifty food blog with a fairly large readership. Now, Julia intended this to be a breakfast selection, but I’ve found that there is little that you make for the first meal that you cannot make for your evening sitdown. The Wife is a proponent of the breakfast-for-dinner movement, so this was an easy choice. Continue reading Tuesday Dinner: Steak and Eggs→
So, a tortilla is a tortilla except when it’s a tortilla. Yeah, it confused me too. In Mexico and most of Latin America, tortillas are those disks made of corn or flour and used to make tacos and burritos. In Spain, a tortilla is an omelet made with fried potatoes. Actually, that describes a tortilla española. The traditional, or French omelet, is called a tortilla francesca.
Linguistics aside, breakfast for dinner is a popular concept around Al Dente HQ (particularly with The Wife) so this was worth a try. Like any good omelet, the tortilla is scalable. I had a bunch of poblano peppers on hand, so I used those instead of Anaheim chiles. I was not going to pay the premium for serrano ham, but one could use cooked chorizo. Or mushrooms. Or caramelized onions if you are feeling adventurous. Continue reading Thursday Dinner: Tortilla Española→
The Kid’s Celiac disease diagnosis has meant a fairly vast overhaul of the food we keep in the house. Our cabinet and cold storage is not large, so we try to do our best to use the space we have. Since The Kid spends a lot of time eating frozen breakfast foods like pancakes and french toast, we have stocked up. As a result, our freezer is pretty full.
Saturday, after The Wife and The Kid went outside to enjoy the weather, I cleaned out the refrigerator and, then, the freezer. My best guess is that I threw away about $60 in freezer burned or more than one year old meat. The best laid plans were to use the leftover half-pound of ground lamb or ground beef in the freezer. The best laid plans were to reanimate my cryogenically-frozen pancetta when cooking dinner. Continue reading The best laid plans…→
The Wife presented her query when we found The Blue Tusk closed for lunch today. We were looking for a quick, non-fast food lunch and the sandwiches there would have done the trick. That meant that the only open restaurant in Armory Square was our last resort.
(Let’s rewind. We loved the Empire Brewing Company and would regularly go for dinner during the summer when we were home from college, and while I was in grad school. It expanded, opening locations in Rochester and Buffalo, enjoyed popularity as a great brewery with a solid creole/cajun menu before closing all of its storefronts during the mid-2000s. It was the perfect place to take out-of-town guests: good house-brewed beer, an eclectic menu, and reasonable prices.
It reopened four or so years ago in Syracuse at its old spot. The Wife and I, excited for its return, rushed down the stairs at the Walton Street location only to be disappointed. The signature blue corn bread appetizer was frozen. The jambalaya, my favorite dish from the old days, was mushy, flavorless pasta. And the beer. I’m not sure the taps had been cleaned since the day they closed. I ended up with a two-day case of the sh… uh, digestive distress. Yeah, digestive distress.
I walked away angry that one of the standby dining choices had returned with an inferior product. It was like they took the chassis from a Yugo and dropped the shell of a Subaru on top. Suddenly the old reliable was a broken heap.) Continue reading Empire Brewing Company, Syracuse, N.Y.→
Pancakes at the Paventi house are usually of the adult nature, which is to say they have booze in them. I’ve taken to improving on the Bisquick-milk-egg combination with powdered sugar and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Depending on the mood I’m in, there is either a hint of alcohol or the need for a Breathalyzer test.
With quiche on the menu for Sunday’s Mother’s Day brunch, I was looking for something a pancake with attitude, but one that I could also feed to my 1-year, 11-month and two-day old child.
I once went out to lunch with my father at our former regular haunt, Jake Hafner’s Tavern and Restaurant. We sat at the bar and ate, as usual. I ordered the quiche. The bartender, an otherwise lovely woman, looked at me and said, “No. Men don’t order quiche. You’ll have a burger.”
I tell this story for no particular reason, other than to illustrate that I like quiche. I think that it gets a bad rap for being French. I mena, if it were called egg pie or, say, pizza, no one would think otherwise. But, it’s quiche. It even sounds kind of girly. The problem is that it has potential to be a pretty manly meal. It has all the cholesterol and saturated fat a man could want PLUS pie crust.
Mother’s Day this year was a more abbreviated affair. The Wife and I had The In-Laws over. I’m slightly limited when cooking for them, mostly because my father-in-law is, shall we say, a picky eater (FACT: He won’t eat meat with lots of exposed fat, but on Thanksgiving he eats the turkey skin.). The Wife suggested egg casseroles. Meh. Casseroles are so…listen, I’m not a 1970s housewife. The word “casserole” makes me twitch. But, for every simple option there is an upgrade. Egg casserole? Blah. Quiche? Win. Continue reading Sunday brunch: Quiches→
I dislike everything about the recipe I’m going to share with you, but I can’t resist. I love breakfast pizza. I also love Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. As a self-avowed food racist, I shouldn’t like Crescent rolls. They are everything that is wrong with America: processed food from a tube that is the bakery equivalent of green bean casserole.
My friend Allison complains that Washington, D.C., in which she formerly resided, has no character. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m pretty sure she’s never been to the vacuum that is Atlanta. I was in Sherman’s kindling pile for work during much of last week and remain largely unimpressed. The city, or at least Midtown, is quite nice. Piedmont Park is quaint. The Georgia Aquarium is worth the price of admission. But, the rest of the city…meh. But, I ate well (no shock).
Eating well is easy, but wildly disappointing in terms of finding local flavor. We ate at four restaurants that earned honors for being among the best in the city from local magazines and the Gayot guide. The best brewpub? The less-than-impressive national chain Gordon Biersch. The best sushi? National chain Ra. The best Irish pub? National microchain Ri Ra. The best breakfast? Regional chain Flying Biscuit. I realize we didn’t leave the midtown corridor much, but it was damn near impossible to find a family-owned or locally-owned restaurant that reflected the flavor of the South.
Tuesday morning started with the Flying Biscuit, on the recommendation of our concierge. The Flying Biscuit’s midtown location was the first, before it went bigtime and expanded to more than 20 across the Southeast. It is smack in the middle of the city’s…I’m not sure if it has a name, but can we just call it the gay section? The region south of Piedmont Park is the area’s gay section. Apparently, one of the Indigo Girls was a big supporter of the Flying Biscuit and her endorsement helped it catch fire during its infancy. The food is an eclectic mix of southern cuisine, and the organic, slow food and vegetarian movements. My breakfast, a three-egg white scramble of turkey bacon, tomatoes and basil was terrific, as each flavor complemented each other without overwhelming. It was served with a bowl of the cheesiest, creamiest grits I’ve ever had. I think if people made grits like the Flying Biscuit, more would eat them. Toni, my traveling companion, boss and all-around good egg, went for the turkey hash. It only sounds disgusting — slow-cooked turkey pot roast served over potatoes and topped with eggs and cheddar. She raved.
Finishing each dish was a housemade biscuit that bucked the buttermilk trend. This was more like a crumpet that was baked too long, so that the outside would develop a thick crust and bready middle, a perfect vessel for the homemade apple butter that accompanied it. But, I was disappointed to find out that this was part of a chain.
We celebrated Toni’s birthday on Tuesday night at the sushi place across the street. Ra Sushi is an Arizona-based chain of about 15 locations that fuses non-traditional sushi presentation in an LA/loud music/dimly lit environment. The food? Great. The service? Horrible. And? No toro. Are you kidding me?
Ra’s niche as the urban sushi bar does not sacrifice quality to advance the thumping bass lines heard overhead. The sashimi was nice and fresh, as toro became hamachi. The traditional maki rolls were fine. You really can’t do bad with California and Philadelphia. They make their bank on a menu of speciality rolls including the RAllipop (maguro, hamachi, salmon, spicy tuna mix, letter, asparagus and cucumber, wrapped in lo bok and served on a skewer), Crazy Monkey (smoked salmon, mango and cream cheese topped with avocado, and red beet tempura flakes) and Viva Las Vegas (kani crab and cream cheese, rolled, coated in tempura and fried, then topped with spicy tuna, more kani, spinach tempura and a tempura star, like a hat on a showgirl). All in all, great combinations, married with a slate of great beer (Helllllo Fat Tire!) and a unique atmosphere. But, not local.
According to its website, Ri Ra Atlanta was actually built using salvage pieces from shuttered Irish pubs. At this point of the day, we had just sat through 10 hours of workshops, so my only concern was the selection of beers on tap. When I saw Magner’s, I knew we were in a good place. Unfortunately, the waiter’s look of confusion when I asked why my cider wasn’t served over ice immediately rebuked my faith. Toni and I each had the Dubliner — a lamb and rosemary burger served with goat cheese and caramelized onion. One of the top five burgers I’ve ever had. I was worried that it might have that gamey lamb flavor you might find in cheaper cuts of the meat. I was delightfully wrong. We both passed on the curry mayo in favor of the regular stuff (curry doesn’t sit well with me). A damn good burger from an 11-restaurant chain.
I think that this is indicative of my problem with the city. There is no distinctly Atlanta culture. Much like Charlotte, Raleigh and other cities that drew people from around the country with the lure of jobs and cheap costs of living 10-15 years ago, Atlanta never developed itself as a truly distinct community. It’s like a McCity full of McCondo towers and McChain restaurants. I don’t mind chains, but for every national chain like Carrabba’s or regional chain like Koto that does it well, there is a family-owned enterprise like King David’s or Angotti’s, where you can see the owners working and taking pride in their craft. It was nowhere to be found in Atlanta.