Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ann's Dari-Creme

Upon looking at our sidebar of links, I saw on Holly Eats' hot dog list that there was a place nearby here in Glen Burnie, Ann's Dairy-Creme! I had to go.
Ann's is a little shop with a counter on the side of Richie Highway open late. Their specialty - a footlong hot dog, fried, served on a hoagie roll with chili, mustard and onion. I spoke with the gals working there, and their dogs don't rip in the fryer- they just darken and wrinkle when cooked. I had some tasty fries there as well as a banana milk shake.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Restaurant Week Meal at Timothy Dean Bistro

Last night, went with some friends out for restaurant week to Baltimore restaurant, Timothy Dean Bistro. The chef's story is interesting - he started as a dishwasher in a restaurant and made
his way to being a Sous chef to Jean Louis Palladin to running Palladin's restaurant at the Watergate Hotel.

He opened his own restaurant just last year to great reviews all around. Thanks to restaurant week, he was offering a 3 course prix fixe menu. I started with corn chowder with oysters. It was tasty and sweet.
For main course, we at the table each got something different:
-the braised short ribs on polenta
-the roast chicken
-BBQ salmon

Dessert was great. First was the melon soup with berries- the soup was really sweet, but the berries cut the sweetness some.
The other dessert, the molten chocolate cake was amazing mainly because it came with a scoop of black truffle ice cream. The taste was subtle, but amazing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

We Love Tony!

So I read my August issue of Food and Wine -- the theme being eco-epicurianism. Among the many creeds about eating only locally and organically produced, sustainable food, Anthony Bourdain says:

"While I support and admire those chefs who have made personal decisions to feature organic, sustainable or exclusively local food -- and am very enthusiastic about heritage breeds and artisanal products -- my only real concern is "Is it good?" Personally, I don't care if my tomato was raised in a lab or some hippie's backyard. I don't even care if it causes the occasional tumor in lab rats. I only care that it's the best tasting damn tomato available."

Go Tony! Yes, I try to buy my produce at the wholesale farm market and have a freezer full of meat from a local farm, but I don't obsess over it. I also agreed with the food scientist who says that we in the First World are privileged enough to make those kinds of choices, but the rest of the world isn't so lucky, and if genetic engineering of crops can help reduce acreage with more yield, and feed more people, why wouldn't we do it.

And lastly, Nina Planck, who ran NYC's Greenmarket program, says:

"Lard is an amazing food. Pork fat is loaded with monounsaturated fats, the same kind as those in olive oil."

It's not just the bicycle riding that keeps Chinese people healthier than Americans...

Monday, July 24, 2006

In-N-Out Burger

A visit to the west coast would not be complete with a meal at the best darn fast food place in the world: In-N-Out Burger!
I decided to get a 3 by 3 Animal style with fries and a vanilla shake. Man, it hit the spot.
I love that there are all these secret off the menu variants you can order if you know the code - animal style, protein style, 4 by 4, etc.
Plus it always reminds me of The Big Lebowski.

4 Days of Cafe Chloe

Despite the heat in San Diego, I managed to have 4 meals at my beloved Cafe Chloe. Here are pics:
A repeat from last year- I was only able to get lunch their one afternoon and I just couldn't resist the mussels and pommes frites.

On a hot day, the lavendar lemonade was great. I also tried a soup du jour of spicy eggplant - darn good!

Here's the poached eggs & wild mushrooms with sage-truffles beurre blanc, the cured salmon gravlax crepe torte, and the fines herbes, epoisses omelette with chicken sausage.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cafe Chloe for Lunch on Day 1 of Comic-Con

As I mentioned last week, I said I would be back at the lovely Cafe Chloe in San Diego. I landed in town around 1pm and after checking into the hotel, I wandered over to Chloe for lunch. It was quiet and relaxed.
Here is the the macaroni, pancetta & gorgonzola gratin - it was delicious and cheesy. I picked the crusty cheese bits off the side when I finished.
I finished lunch off with the affogatto, basically a scoop of vanilla ice cream you poured espresso over and then you could either eat or drink it. Yummy!
Tomorrow, breakfast!

Monday, July 17, 2006

"New Chinese" Restaurant in Hamilton NJ

You know those scary-looking Chinese restaurants that seem to be in every town. Well, this one in Hamilton, next door to the House of Meat halal butcher, came recommended, so we checked it out for Sunday dimsum/lunch. The menu was promising, as it had some regional dishes beyond the standard General Tso's white-man fare -- and it had great Engrish.

Our meal: (pictured right) chive boxes, siu mai (these strangely were filled with sticky rice), and (not pictured) cold jellyfish with daikon, mock duck, shrimp dumplings, cold sesame noodles, steamed juicy buns, ma po tofu, yu xiang eggplant, stir-fried rice cake. (Incidentally, the 2 Chinese people in our party argued with the Korean about who exactly invented the sticky rice cake - anyone who knows feel free to weigh in.)

Everything was tasty, but the stand-out dish for me -- the dish I'd go back for -- was wuxi spareribs, which you rarely see on your typical Chinese restaurant menu. Wuxi is a city in Jiangsu province south of Shanghai best known for its earthenware teapots; I think the place has really good clay. Anyway, I don't even know how exactly these spareribs are prepared, but they are the specialty of this city (like Kansas City or St. Louis ribs in the US). Falling off the bone and melting in your mouth, they have the sweet flavor favored by Shanghai cuisine. (And here's a picture from inside The House of Meat for those of you who are curious.)

Pit Beef from The Canopy

Being a native of Baltimore, you have to appreciate the joy of pit beef sandwiches. Arby's artificial meat product stands no chance against beatiful medium rare slices of beef slabs roasted about a fire pit. I have friends in Ellicott City, and they turned me on to The Canopy on Rt. 40 because it's a block from their house.
I hope to explore more pit beef in the area, but The Canopy is a darn good start. The sandwich I had yesterday was rare enough that in layers, it became a little bloody. On top, I had horseradish, mayo and onion, all in a kaiser roll.
Additionally, the fries at The Canopy are great- fresh cut potatoes fried in peanut oil and salted. To drink, of course, birch beer!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Garlic Crabs at Klein's

I usually end up at Klein's in Belmar whenever I'm "down the shore." And sure enough, Bourdain featured it on the NJ episode of No Reservations. I've been there in summer, winter, spring, it's always been solid. This weekend I had the garlic crabs -- a dozen Maryland blue crabs steamed with a ton of garlic and drawn butter. I had some help from the table in eating my way through this mountain of crustaceans.

The Tongue at Mugi

By popular demand, this is a pic of the beef tongue (KUSHI!) at the Japanese restaurant Mugi located near Columbus Circle in New York City. The restaurant is a little out of the way and it's hours are unpredictable, but the food is great. The tongue- sliced thinly, grilled with a little salt and lemon sprinkled on top- ahh bliss.
The dish below was this roll that was fried on the outside with pork inside (I think- fougoo, a little help?).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

En Japanese Brasserie - New York City

Now, I've been to Tokyo several times to visit relatives. Several times, my cousin and his family have taken me to eat at a Japanese family style restaurant near their house called En.
In 2004, En opened a branch in New York called the En Japanese Brasserie, so I knew I had to try it out.
The feel of the restaurant was much more upscale than the one I had been to in Japan. It was more sheeshee(sic) in the West Village with a fancy bar whereas the Japanese one had a more rustic appeal.
Regardless, we were there for the food. Now, a lot of people just think Japanese food is only sushi and teriyaki, but like Chinese, it's a lot more diverse than restaurants in America let on about. En is an Izakaya style of restaurant meaning it's meant to have a large variety of dishes with which you drink sake.

I put up some pics of my more favorite dishes:
1. Grilled eggplant and uni in mustard sauce
2. En original Tsukune chicken sausage and poached egg - this dish was awesome- the sausage had bits of chicken cartilage in it to add a crunchiness, and you dipped the meat into the runny yolk of the poached egg.

3. Stone-grilled thick sliced beef tongue - this was not as awesome as the tongue dish at Mugi near Columbus Circle, but this blog always can use a tongue dish.
4. Foie gras and poached daikon steak with white-miso vinegar - I loved this dish when I first had it in Tokyo - it's pretty luxurious.

5. Chu-toro - this fatty tuna was almost too fatty- you didn't even have to chew it because it disintegrated in your mouth.
6. Sweet tofu pudding for dessert - really fun to eat with a wooden spoon.

By the way, click on the pictures- they are better viewed in a larger size to see the food especially the marbled fat in the chu-toro.

Cafe Chloe - San Diego, CA

Next week, I am in San Diego for Comic-Con - a gigantic nerd fest. However, aside from looking at cool Japanese action figures, I am excited to eat again at Cafe Chloe near the San Diego Convention Center. I found this place via Chowhound last year, and I just loved it.
First off, great breakfasts! The scrambled eggs were runny, and the coffee was Illy. Way better than any diner- this place felt like you were in Europe.

Second, the lunch there was also fantastic. I could not resist the lavender lemonade- so refreshing. Their mussels with saffron broth and pommes frites were mentioned in the NY Times 36 hours in San Diego this year. I also loved their fromage plate with honeycomb & house-made compote - it was a great starter.
This year I plan go their at least a couple of times to try their affogatto, drawn espresso with vanilla bean ice cream, and also the macaroni, pancetta & gorgonzola gratin. Foodie and nerdie!

Friday, July 14, 2006

La Rosita Restaurant

Fougoo used to live in the Upper West Side and while she was there, she directed me to La Rosita Restaurant on Broadway. It had one of the best Cuban style breakfasts I had ever had.
First, the cafe con leche was fantastic- strong and flavorful - you couldn't just have one cup. I also liked their buttered bread which came with each breakfat- I always finished the basket. I liked their ropa vieja, but my favorite was always the plantain omelette. I haven't been there in a couple years now, but inspired by fougoo's food memories, I thought I'd join in.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fondest Food Memories #2: Mashed Potatoes at Indigo, Honolulu

I generally am happiest eating at a hole-in-the-wall over a fancy restaurant, even today, when I can actually afford to eat at nice places once in a while. It wasn’t too long ago for me, though, when meals that cost more than $10 were reserved for special occasions. I’d done other splurges in those days, but a lot of times it just felt like it wasn’t worth the cash: like when I carefully took out $80 from the ATM to order the prix fixe menu at Lotus – it felt kinda cool going past the velvet ropes, but was really an unmemorable meal.

This memory comes from my dirt-poor days living in Honolulu, interning for the Hawaii International Film Festival, when spam and eggs over rice was a typical dinner. The festival’s main venue was the Hawaii Theatre downtown, and right around the corner was the chi-chi Indigo restaurant. It was one night after a film screening, my movie buddy J. and I were just going to meet up with my boyfriend at the Indigo bar, and then go off to grab crappy Chinese. It was November on Oahu, though, and one of those torrential “sky-opening-up” deluge rains started. One drink led to another, the divorcee cougar at the bar had put a tractor-beam lock on my boyfriend (since she thought I was with J. and I amusedly did nothing to save him). Our stomachs were grumbling, so we threw caution to the wind and said let’s just eat here.

I stuck to pupus, and ordered lobster potstickers and mashed potatoes, which were probably still something like $10 each. But oh my god, those potatoes were still the most divine spuds I've ever had. Regular mashed potatoes mixed with mashed sweet potatoes, then topped with homemade potato chips, so the whole concoction was creamy, crunchy, buttery, salty, sweet, all sensations at once. The boys went all out with nice rare steaks, and I was in heaven with my mash.

But more than that, it was the feeling of being young and broke and blowing more money on one night of drinking and eating than you made in a week, but being exactly where you wanted to be and feeling like yeah, this IS good.

(Photo of lovely Makaha Beach on Oahu swiped from

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tongue Tacos

This is the best tongue I've ever had, bar none. The softest, most tender tongue. Honestly I'd eat this over shredded beef anyday... Man, this post is starting to sound pornographic...

Seriously, as you can see by my last post my mom's cooking rocks, but this beats the stuff I remember eating as a kid, or any Jewish deli.

Here's the place: Tortilleria and Tacos, Baltimore, MD

Fondest Food Memories #1: My Mom’s Steamed Duck Pudding

Whenever I eat a Thanksgiving dinner, I’m always reminded of what lazy cooks Americans are compared to Asians…

My parent’s dinner parties were legendary. My mom had a repertoire of “guest dishes,” impressive show-stoppers that were far too complicated to make for everyday. Americans think a well-balanced meal should have a main meat dish, a starch, a couple of vegetables; Chinese instead wouldn’t be caught dead serving guests any meal that didn’t have all of the following: 4 cold dishes, a poultry dish, a pork or beef dish, a seafood dish, a fish, a tofu dish, a green vegetable, rice or noodles, finished by a soup.

I remember mini stuffed-omelette dumplings stewed with tigerlilies and mu-er (black tree fungus), short ribs steamed with flavored rice powder, minced chicken as soft as tofu... My favorite though was always the steamed duck-sticky rice.

First the duck was salt-and-spice rubbed, steamed, de-boned, and skinned keeping the skin intact. Then the sticky rice filling had to be prepared: sweet rice soaked then steamed, then completely cooled; then the stir-frying of a variety of ingredients to be mixed in with the rice -- green onion, Chinese sausage and shitake mushrooms diced into teeny gems, dried brine shrimp, soy, wine, etc. The idea was eight treasures, eight ingredients.

The duck was re-assembled boneless, skin side out, in a bowl, and the sticky rice mixture stuffed in the middle. Then the whole bowl was steamed for a few more hours – the fat from the skin and meat infusing the rice with even more flavor. When ready to serve, the whole bowl was flipped over onto a plate – gleaming brown duck skin, layers of meat, the jewel-studded treasure rice hidden inside.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Summer Booze

It's summer, and despite my recent teetotaling ways, nothing beats a delicious summer drink. Here are my favorites

The Pimm's Cup
The best one I have ever had of these drinks was at New Orleans restaurant Bayona. Pimm's is a type of gin with herbal flavors blended in. There are variances to the recipe (ginger ale vs. 7UP), but this drink has supposedly gotten trendy in NYC in the last couple years. Still, it's really light and refreshing.

Better than a mint julep, this rum based drink is one of my favorites. Actually, I think it was the last drink I actually had about 2 months ago. Gotta have it made with actual simple syrup. I tend to order this with a Southern accent for some reason.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Eating the Sheep Part One

First to go were loin chops: had them on 4th of July, just rubbed with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs de provence, and thrown on the grill. simple and easy. We will have to get more creative as we work our way through other parts -- stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

2006 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

photo by EKavet (from flikr)

53 and 3/4 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes! A new world record set hours ago by eating great Takeru Kobayashi for his sixth straight Mustard Yellow belt at Nathan's Famous annual Hot Dog Eating Competition.
This year should also be noted as the first year Kobayashi had competition in the form of last year's sensation Joey Chestnut. For the early minutes, Chestnut was leading the Japanese champ, but he started to wane in the last few minutes finishing with a still impressive 52 hot dogs.
I got to meet both competitors at last year's U.S. Open of Competitive Eating. They were both nice and humble guys. The field of competitive eating is getting exciting!