Thursday, August 13, 2009

Talara, Baltimore

So I think that eating ceviche in Peru has sadly now spoiled us for ever having it in this country again. Being at the harbor for a day-long ska concert, we left the venue to grab some dinner within walking distance. We had passed Talara, a Latin fusion ceviche place earlier, so decided to try it.

Our first sign should have been when the waiter didn't know how to pronounce Tecate, the beer. It's not that the place was bad, just way overpriced for what it was. We started off by ordering a 3 ceviche sampler for $24 - your choice of fish and preparation. We got a Curried Tropical Fruit ceviche with shrimp, a tiradito with tuna, and avocado and corn ceviche with scallops. I'd say the whole plate was half as much fish as a single $8 serving of anything we ate in Peru, and the flavors not nearly as fresh and piquant.

Then we ordered a few tapas: Mojo Criollo Pork Shank ($9), Pulled chicken tostadas ($8), and roasted corn and goat cheese croquettas ($8). Everything was pretty tasty, but small, small, small... We just about each got 1 bite of each dish, and that was it.




The one thing that was really disappointing on the menu was the tres leches cake. Not only too small, but way too dry.

Talara
615 President Street
Baltimore, MD
410-528-9883

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lemon Sticks, Baltimore

Wandering around Baltimore's Harbor Place, trying to kill some time before seeing the "Three Generations of Ska" show on Festival Pier, 1000yregg spotted a lemonade place still selling lemon sticks, a Baltimore sweet that he remembered from his youth in the 1970s.

The kids behind the counter were a little taken aback when I ordered one, saying they were rarely ever ordered. After all, the Inner Harbor is mostly the destination of tourists, none of whom would know what "Lemon Stick" up on the menu board meant.

Basically, it's a lemon with a tunnel cut into it and a peppermint stick shoved inside. You suck the lemon juice from the peppermint stick, the sweetness of the candy cutting the sour of the lemon, the juice eventually dissolving the candy. It's really an ingenious snack for a kid in the summertime - cheap as dirt, refreshing, and keeps them occupied for a good 30-45 minutes.

The stand was probably happy to have finally sold one, and unloaded about 5-6 peppermint sticks on me. They may have been sitting around since the 80s, but they were still good.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ange and Ricky, Montreal


Looking for off-the-beaten path lunch options in Montreal, we decided to try Ange & Ricky after reading about it on An Endless Banquet's A to Z Montreal Food Guide.

The hostess/owner spoke little English, so with just 1000yregg's high school French to help us, we managed to get some pretty delicious Haitian food. First off, she let us try samples of the different dishes at her steam table, and then we could decide what we wanted.

Each of the platters came with a side of dirty rice and fried plaintains, so we got 3 different ones to share: l├ęgumes -- a stewed combination of carrots, shredded beef and chayote, tassot -- braised goat, and fried chicken. The accompanying sauces added great flavor, and I really liked the spicy slaw/relish which went especially well with the plaintains and the rice. The platters were also super cheap - I think they were $6 Canadian.

1000yregg and I opted for the homemade limeade, but redneckhunter decided to try the Malta Creole. Boy, was that SWEET.

Ange & Ricky
195 Jarry E.
(514) 385-6094

Monday, August 10, 2009

Belcourt, NYC

On our last shopping day, petiteseour and I had a couple more of the girls tag along, plus one of their guys meeting us for dinner. So she had the daunting task of trying to find a place in the East Village to please all palates (from low-carb to strictly meat-and-potatoes). So she settled on Belcourt, at 4th Street and 2nd Ave.

It was a great summer day, so we were able to get a table outside. We started with the Grilled Spanish octopus with cardamom pickled carrots, mint, and jalapeno cilantro sauce. Despite the phallic look of the pink octopus, it was tender and tasty, but it was the sauce that really made this dish.

Petiteseour and I shared two other starters as our entree: 1) a cherry, apple, celery, and shaved fennel salad with house made celery vinegar, pine nuts and goat's milk feta, and 2) the one thing on the menu that instantly jumped out at me: what I called "everything I like" on some iceberg lettuce. This "salad" had maple bacon, pork belly, fried chicken livers, gorgonzola cheese, radishes, and a sunnyside up egg on top of a little bit of lettuce. That's my kind of salad!

Everyone else at the table got burgers (both lamb and beef). They came with a spicy tomato ketchup, which we universally agreed was interesting, but not as good as plain old Heinz. The fries however were very very delicious!


Belcourt
84 East 4th Street, New York City
212.979.2034

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Gabriela's, Somerville NJ

In all the years that I've lived in New Jersey, I've always equated Somerville with the Somerville Traffic Circle (which as Mike Myers' Linda Richman character says is neither in Somerville, nor a circle... discuss!).

But when redneckhunter's college roommate was in from Chicago for a work project in the town of Somerville, we drove up to meet him for dinner one night. I never knew that Somerville actually had a real downtown area with quite a few restaurants!

Chicago guy wanted to try a Portuguese place that had intrigued him earlier when he walked by. We started off with a sangria - interestingly enough the place is a BYOB, so you had to bring the wine, and they made the sangria using your wine.

They had a 3 course prix fixe menu for $19.99, but I wasn't hungry enough for all that food, so I just ordered the charcuterie plate above. Smoked meats are always good, but I really liked the little fish croquettes.
The guys did partake of the prix fixe deal -- redneckhunter got steak with cognac and mushroom sauce and Chicago got grilled salmon with fresh garlic, fresh parsley and olive oil.

Not the most inventive of menus, but a good deal. Dessert, incidentally was flan and a traditional lemon cake with raspberries.

Gabriela's
42 West Main St
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 526-7070

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Revisiting Old Favorites in North Carolina : Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, Fiesta Grill & Locopops

Even though, I tried several new places when in North Carolina, I had to go back to some of my old favorites.
For breakfast, I went to the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, home of some of the best biscuits I've ever had. I got the biscuit with egg and fried pork tenderloin.
While I think the chicken might be a little better, the pork was still good.

I also returned to the Fiesta Grill for simply great Mexican food. The last time, it was the weekend so I had to have the menudo. This time, I tried a longaniza (sausage) taco, and their chicken mole. It was basically a half chicken smothered in a delicious, slightly sweet mole sauce. While I think their corn tortillas could be a little more fresh, Fiesta Grill is pretty great.

Last but certainly not least, I had to return to Locopops. This time, I ended up eating 2 different kinds.
I tried one paletas de agua, the cucumber chile. It was really nice with a pleasant kick from the chiles mixed in. Click on the pic above to see them,
I also tried a paleta de crema, the chocolate pretzel, which had chunks of pretzel in the popscicle. Yummy.

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen
1305 E. Franklin
Chapel Hill, NC
919-933-1324

Fiesta Grill
3307 Nc Highway 54 W
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 928-9002

Locopops
128 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC

Monday, August 03, 2009

Brunch at Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill, NC

We had Sunday brunch at Chapel Hill's well known Southern cuisine restaurant Crook's Corner.
I got their signature dish, the shrimp and grits. It was cooked with mushrooms, bacon, and scallions and the grits were cheese grits. It was a nice simple delicious dish.





Kelly got the feathered eggs, which was like a light egg frittata baked with spinach and goat cheese.

Late Night at Milltown, Carrboro, NC

One late evening, we went to Milltown, a bar in Carrboro that specializes in a large selection of Belgian beers.
We also sampled some of their menu, which included bar favorites like mussels and Belgian frites with frite sauce.
One standout included pretzels from the Guglhupf Bakery of Durham, NC.
Since they had poutine listed on the menu, I had to try it. It was an interesting, Southern take on the Quebecois classic- they used a white sauce with shredded cheddar instead of cheese curds. Not as good but interesting.

307 E Main Street
Carrboro, NC 27510
(919) 968-2460

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Maple View Ice Cream Store, Carrboro, NC


Maple View Farm is a local dairy farm in Orange County, NC that sells milk, dairy products and even beef to stores in the area. They also have some amazing ice cream.
Kelly took me to their ice cream store in Carrboro, NC. We shared a generous dish of strawberry and honey almond ice cream. The ice cream was clearly fresh, with real strawberries- it was so delicious, I think I could have had a couple more scoops.

100 E Weaver St
Carrboro, NC 27510-2318
(919) 967-6842

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Only Burger, NC

Last week, I was attending the concerts for the 20th anniversary of Merge Records at Carrboro's Cat's Cradle. After the shows let out, a food truck from Only Burger was parked in the parking lot.







I ordered a single cheeseburger with fries, and it was pretty good. The burger was fresh and made to order, and the fries were fresh, crisp and nicely sprinkled with black pepper.
The guy with the trucker hat in the picture is Kurt Wagner from the band Lambchop, who would play one of the best sets of the concert series the following night.