Thursday, November 30, 2006

Doughnut Plant revisited

So I thought I'd post my own pics from a couple trips to Doughnut Plant: thus far, I've had the tres leches and Valrhona chocolate glazed. Redneckhunter has tried both coconut cream cake donut and the coconut cream raised donut. I love the factory-like aesthetics of the donut labels. Also note, the square donuts - a trademark of the jelly-filled.

Monday, November 27, 2006

La Brioche Lyonnaise, Montreal

For breakfast in Montreal, we relied on the Fodor's recommendation of La Brioche Lyonnaise on Rue St. Denis. It was a straightforward continental breakfast, but it was gosh darn delicious. I had a large bowl of cafe au lait and a brioche with raisins. The dish also came with basket of french bread that demanded smothering with butter and jam.
Redneckhunter loved how the creams come with percentages of milkfat- no non-dairy crap here.

Au Pied de Cochon, Take Deux

I must say eating at Au Pied De Cochon was the best meal I've had this year. When I told my friend Ajeet, the foie gras freak that I was eating there, he insisted I get at least 2 dishes with foie gras, and by golly we got three. He also recommended I take Lipitor a few days before the meal, but instead, I hope the Bordeaux wine we had sopped up the fat from the meal.

Fougoo has already described the meal, but I thought I'd include my two cents. I would agree that the feel of the restaurant was really nice. Unlike Montreal's L'Express where I ate a few years back - the waiters at Au Pied de Cochon were not assholes. They seemed to even admire our offal-laden order.
Above is a pic of the Cochonnailles platter - basically all pork by-products including blood, liver, and sausage. We actually ordered this thinking it was another dish. . .maybe this is why we got the respect of our waiter.
The dish on the right was the Kidneys à la moutarde. I must say- I now understand why kidney is good to eat. My previous experience was with an "ammonia-flavored" kidney pie I had in Vegas- not so good. This dish, on the other hand, was flavorful, and the texture of the the kidney was firm and light.

Duck in a Can. This dish was a work of art. All the ingredients are canned, and the can is then cooked.
They brought this can with a can opener to the table. When they cracked it open, the delicious aroma was orgasmic.

They then poured the contents onto a bed of mashed potatoes and toast- the steam rising up from out of the can. Genius. So simple a concept resulting in amazing flavor. Our table pretty much finished this dish first.

Our dessert finale was the Pouding Chômeur, literally translated as a poor man's pudding. It was a sponge cake, like a biscuit, floating in a maple syrup soup. As I understand, this is a classically Canadian dessert. With my glass of whole milk, this was a great capper to our three hour meal event.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Au Pied de Cochon, Montreal

1000yregg, redneckhunter, his brother, and I took a post-Thanksgiving jaunt up to Montreal. Our mission was to eat at Au Pied de Cochon. After watching Bourdain eat something like 14 courses of pork, duck, and foie gras dishes on No Reservations we were obsessed with trying this place, and it lived up to its promise -- it was truly amazing. I think the others will agree that this was one of the most memorable meals we've ever had.

We began with three starters: foie gras poutine (above) -- the traditional Quebecoise comfort food of frites smothered with gravy and cheese curd, only this one was by far the best we'd ever had, not only because of the added richness of the foie gras, but because the cream-laden beef gravy was phenomenal; a charcuterie plate with sausage, several kinds of pate, blood pudding, pickled beets.

The third starter was my favorite: venison tongue with tarragon. This tongue displaced the tongue tacos from Tortilleria and Tacos as the best tongue I've ever had. So soft and tender it melted in your mouth served au jus and with a delicious mustard. I left the boys to devour the poutine and ate most of the tongue on my own.

Then we had three main dishes: the house specialty pied de cochon (pig's foot) with foie gras -- crispy thin skin covering falling-apart nuggets of pork and fat and softened gelatinous cartilage with foie gras served over garlic and cream mashed potatoes.

We also had canard in a can. This was my favorite of the main dishes -- the flavors of duck, foie gras, butter, red wine, garlic, and thyme blended so magically while steamed in that can -- it was such a surprise. 1000yregg literally gasped at the wonderful aroma that escaped when the waiter popped the hole in the can.

Our third main dish was kidneys with mustard. I'd never had kidney before, so I think I've discovered that it's not my favorite organ meat. The springy texture is not my thing -- I like chewy like tripe and soft like sweetbreads, and I adore gelatinous like tendon, but springy not so much... I know that 1000yregg was a fan, and a huge fan as well of our dessert, which I was too full to eat more than 2 bites of, so I'll let him wax poetic on those and other items in our meal.

One last thing - the atmosphere of the restaurant was another key to the utter joy of this meal. With the welcoming warmth of a brick oven and the welcoming warmth of the wait staff, not a hint of pretentiousness at all to this place. And with such good-looking stylish French waiters, I didn't even mind their overly touchy-feeliness.

Fried Turkey for Friendsgiving

For our second of three Thanksgiving dinners, redneckhunter and I decided to deep fry a turkey. I did the prep again -- man, I loved injecting the mesquite marinade and watching that flesh plump up, and I have some weird fetish for rubbing under the skin... Redneckhunter took care of the frying - 35 pounds of peanut oil and 40 minutes later and we had one tasty tasty bird.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sripraphai in Woodside, Queens

Queens is a foodie mecca. In our drive down Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Boulevard we passed Ecuadorian, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, Soul food, and who knows what else. Our destination: Sripraphai for true Thai. Thai food so true our friends who met us there said that they didn't like the Pad Thai because the dried shrimp in it were too pungent for their taste.
We got a number of dishes but these were the standouts: Fried watercress salad - with such a wonderful blend of flavors - crispy greens, dried fish, pungent and sweet and tart; green curry with fish and eggplant - little green eggplants the size of golf balls - so good soaking sticky rice with the coconut-curry sauce; and drunken noodles with pork - wonderful broad rice noodles, spicy ground pork with just a little kick. The blending of so many flavors is the beauty of Thai food.
We tried to order our dishes spicy-spicy but the waitress told us medium-spicy would be hot enough. It wasn't that hot - nice spice but we all could have gone much hotter... they just never believe you when you tell them you like it hot!

64-13 39th Ave., Queens, NY 11377
between 64th and 65th Sts.

Burgers from the Corner Bistro

The Corner Bistro is an New York institution and one of redneckhunter's favorite places. $2 pints, $5 burgers, 4 things on the menu. I think the pictures say it all...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Smoked Beer Can Turkey

So for the first of 3 Thanksgiving meals that redneckhunter is attending, he inaugurated our new 7-in-1 smoker by smoking a big old turkey. I rubbed the sucker down with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbes de provence, and just a touch of paprika, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar. Would have put more spice but he was worried about the waspy folks eating it. He doctored a Fosters oil can mixing in bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and bourbon in with the beer. Shoved the can up the bird's butt and stuck him in the smoker for a good 4 hours. Herewith before and after pics.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dosa from Passage to India, Lawrenceville NJ

So they aren't the best dosas (or is the plural dosai?) I've ever had, but they're the closest geographically. And sometimes, you just have a craving for that starch overdose known as a dosa. Potatoes and spices wrapped in a pancake made from lentil flour. My friend brownie94 and I are partial to the extra-spicy Mysore Masala dosa. On this evening we got the usual Mysore Masala (above), and a Mysore Uttapam (below). With the uttapam the ingredients are mixed into the batter and formed into a thicker pancake. I read that the batter is made of bean flour and rice. It reminds me of an Indian version of okonomiyaki, the Osaka specialty, or Korean pajon.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Szechuan Best in Randallstown, MD

When I was growing up, Szechuan Best was one of my family's favorite Chinese restaurants to go to. The place opened in the 1980's and initially was rated one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Baltimore area. Nowadays, the place is looking a little rundown, but the food is still pretty amazing. In particular on weekends, they serve one of the best dim sum menus anywhere.
We started with some sweet warm soy milk accompanied by fried dough with sesame bread.(above) You take the fried dough and put it into the sesame bread to make a "bread sandwich".

One of the restaurants unique items is a fried dumpling "pocket" with leeks, egg, and clear noodles. A great dish, even suitable for vegetarians.

Another specialty is a baked pastry with finely sliced turnips and pork.

Of course, they have scallion pancake as well.

My favorite dish is the steamed vegetable dumplings. I can eat 2 trays of these dumplings. They are so tasty, and they are good for you, too.

We also got a nice side dish of tendon marinated in chili oil with onion and garlic. This thing is really hard to make at home.

My mom's favorite dish is a dessert item that is sesame coated sticky rice with date paste in the middle. I'm not a big fan of Chinese dessert, but this is pretty good especially made at Szechuan Best.

Szechuan Best
8625 Liberty Rd
Randallstown, MD 21133
Phone: 410-521-0020

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The White Castle Crave Case

So I have a good friend in St. Louis who, when I go out there to hang out, proceeds to join me in a grease and fat gluttony. We usually go to a rib place called Supersmokers, grab some shakes at Steak & Shake, and on occasion we scarf down a White Castle Crave Case while watching TV or playing video games.
The case contains 30 White Castles (that's 15 each). I do prefer the cheese. He eats the originals. It is sometimes accompanied by 1-2 orders of cheese fries. In my youth, this form of gluttony would be easy, but nowadays, the "wall" hits me at about 11 of them.
Disgusting? Yes, but how can one resist the "holed" meat with onions and pickles on a steamed bun. Hurts so good.
Fortunately for my cholesterol, these pictures were taken in 2005, but perhaps a pilgrimage to the midwest is necessary in 2007.