Thursday, June 30, 2011

King's Fried Chicken, Baltimore

Here'a hoping everyone has a nice holiday weekend. The entire TIGBG crew is going to be in Montreal for Canada day.
In the meantime, here's a pic from King's Fried Chicken in Waverly in Baltimore. They are a halal fried chicken joint serving a slightly spicy fried chicken without a heavy batter. It was nice and juicy on the inside as well. While their greens were not so hot (no pork), they take orders for 100 pieces of their tasty chicken.

3300 Greenmount Avenue
Baltimore, MD

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nando's Peri-Peri

A few of my friends work or have worked in Malaysia, and I remembered that one of their regular go to restaurants in Kuala Lumpur was Nando's Peri-Peri, a chain that originated in South Africa. They serve Portuguese flame grilled chicken smothered in sauces made with African Bird's Eye Chili peppers. When I discovered that they had several branches in the Annapolis & DC area, I wanted to try them out. I had dinner at the branch in the Annapolis Mall.
I order a quarter chicken, dark, with a side of fries and perinaise and macho peas, a pea mash with mint, parsley & chili. I could not resist order a side of chicken livers as well. I did not know how spicy the sauce was, and the waitress told me it was really hot, so I opted for just the hot. However, it was not spicy at all to me, so I grabbed the black Extra Extra Hot sauce bottle to give the flavor a kick. I liked that much better.
All and all, not a bad meal- reminded me of Boston Chicken but with more spice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Roseda Beef Farm Tour & Cookout

Fougoo, Redneckhunter, & I went on a Slow Food DC event at the Roseda Beef farm in Monkton, MD in Baltimore County one weekend. It included a short history of the farm and business, a hayride to their cow pastures, and a BBQ cookout.
Roseda raises Black Angus cows to specific genetic standards with no hormones, and they age their beef 2-3 weeks before going to market.
In the pasture, the cows gathered around our trailer, grazing peacefully.
For dinner, the hosts had slow smoked the beef. We tried several cuts, the tenderloin, the shoulder, and the rib. My favorite cut was the very rare piece for shoulder I got on my second round of meat.

We also enjoyed some salad, baked beans and grilled corn on the cob with a selection of butters including wasabi and maple syrup (from syrup taken from trees on the farm).
Dessert was a strawberry shortcake made with fresh local berries and a lot of Redi-whip. It was a beautiful evening to have dinner in the Roseda Beef farm barn.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Eating at Baltimore's Greek Folk Festival

On the second weekend of June, I went with a group of friends to the Greek Folk Festival at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Baltimore. My friend Tom told me he comes every year and orders the charcoal grilled octopus platter with olives, cucumbers, tomato and feta cheese. It was good and simple- smokey, with a little lemon.
I also ordered a side of deep fried smelt fish.

We shared several desserts. I ordered a baklava sundae made of vanilla ice cream topped with shredded up baklava. You could also top it all off with either caramel or chocolate sauce. I opted for caramel.
Tom & Jamie got several loukoumas, deep fried balls of light dough smothered in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Baltimore Burger Bar

A couple weeks back, I went to the Baltimore Burger Bar located on the Avenue in Hampden for dinner. Their burger menu changes from week to week, presenting a variety of "burgers" including scrapple and rabbit, as well as a variety of interesting toppings and sides.
I order their straight up grass fed beef burger. For my toppings, I got American cheese, a fried egg, stuffed squash blossoms, and strawberry-rhubarb ketchup. It was a tasty burger, and the brioche style bread was nice. The addition of the stuffed squash blossom was particularly good. I hope to return to try other combinations and in particular, their toppings.

830 West 36th Street
Baltimore, MD

Friday, June 24, 2011

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn, NY

The best part of the Brooklyn Flea was always the food, so when the Flea organizers decided to open another market solely for food, needless to say we were thrilled!

Brownie and I went to Smorgasburg in East River Park in Williamsburg one Saturday, arriving around 10:30 am when the crowds were still thin. We first did the rounds of the purveyors of food products to take home (more on those goodies later in the post), then when our friend arrived, we got serious about the eating. Others had the same idea - by 11 am, the crowds were starting to show up.

We tried to not duplicate going to vendors we'd had before at the Flea, but we just couldn't resist getting a pupusa from Solber (from the Red Hook ball fields). It did not disappoint - in fact it was still probably the best thing we had - the pickled cabbage slaw is just the perfect accompaniment to the hot crispy-soft masa of the pupusa.

The second best thing we ate was Mimi and Coco's spin on Japanese takoyaki. We tried all 3 flavors - sausage, shrimp, and potato. I loved the sausage and shrimp, but could pass on potato (starch wrapped in starch).

We were disappointed by the bahn xeo from Queen's Dahn Tu. The crepe wasn't crispy, the filling was bland. Next time, I think I'll try the other Vietnamese vendor Bep.

We were also disappointed by the "dumpling pancakes" from Bite Size Kitchen. Despite the name, they were basically bing filled with pork, but I think because of trying to turn them out quickly, they were just gummy inside. They made us miss Roll & Dough. I also decided I should just make them at home (don't worry Brownie, when I do, I'll bring some over for you).

We were hoping for more baked good vendors, but we did get a few great things - one was this fig and onion hamentashen from Weekend Girls, washed down by their refreshing cucumber juice.

We also got a great vegan bar from SCRATCHBread. Their take on sticky buns (served as mini buns in a cone) looked interesting, but a little too much given our grazing.

I did bring home a Momofuku corn cookie for later, plus a coconut donut from Dough for Redneckhunter. Not as good as Doughnut Plant was his surmisal.

I also brought home Rhubarb Hibiscus jam from Anarchy in a Jar. Brownie opted for the super-fresh and delicious strawberry balsamic. We also were surprisingly pleased with the Spiced Beer Jelly that we tasted.

I was also happy that the Hudson Valley Duck Farm had a booth, so I could bring home a smoked breast and tub of rillettes. Along with some cheese from Bardwell Farm, and a roast pork sandwich from Porchetta, Redneckhunter and I had a nice dinner.

Next time, I'd like to try a biscuit with either fried chicken or sausage gravy from King's Crumbs, and get some bacon from Landhaus (they were only selling BLTs at this point, but told me they'd sell slabs of bacon later on this summer).

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Country Cat Dinnerhouse Bar, Portland, OR

On my last evening in Portland, OR, I had a memorable meal at The Country Cat Dinnerhouse Bar, located on the southeast part of town. They serve farm-to-table food that is unpretentious and just plain good.
I ordered a good cocktail for starters, the Summer in the City, Russel's Reserve 6 yr Rye, Punt e Mes and fresh muddled strawberries.
Our table got several starters to share. We had the this sliced Country Cat's onion rings and a wedge of butter lettuce topped with Green Goddess dressing and a poached egg.

They gave us an additional complimentary appetizer that was awesome: braised pig face with croutons and a duck egg.
For my entree, I ordered the cast iron skillet fried chicken. It came with a sweet cream biscuit and bacon braised greens. The fried chicken was great, seasoned beautifully and not heavily battered. I was only able to eat two of my pieces, but the third was still good eaten cold the next morning.
We had two sides, the baked beans and the mashed potatoes with gravy. The gravy was loaded with meat.

I tried nibbles of my friends' dishes. Beth got the wonderful red wine braised beef with an asparagus and spring onion bread salad. Matt got the Country Cat's Whole Hog plate which included rolled pork belly, a brined pork loin chop, and smoked shoulder with grits and cider soaked cherries.

We tried a couple desserts. First was a rhubarb upside down cake with salted caramel and whipped cream. We also had the trio of puddings: chocolate, butterscotch, & creme brulee. This came with homemade cookies.
I'm happy that my last dinner in Portland on this trip was the best meal of the whole trip. Can't wait to head back.

7937 Southeast Stark Street
Portland, OR

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beast, Portland, OR

Because of the recent series of Top Chef Masters, I was looking forward to dinner at chef Naomi Pomeroy's Beast in Portland. The restaurant is set up to serve customers all together in two seatings, and the menu is a set six course prix fixe with no substitutions. Despite being called Beast, the dinner we had was veggie heavy, and I was disappointed that we did not get to have pork for our main course. I've also included the wine pairings.
We started with a chilled cream of spinach soup with a fried artichoke. The soup was really good, capturing the taste of spring.
Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Steinsetz 2009 (Austria)

The second course was a charcuterie plate. It included five items: Olympic Provisons' salami, pork pate with fennel & chili flake, chicken liver mousse on leaf lard cracker, steak tartare with quail egg & toast, and a foie-gras bon-bon topped with sauternes gelee.
The chicken liver was awesome, particularly with the cracker. I also enjoyed the tartare. The foie-gras bon-bon got mixed reviews in my party, but I like a sweet foie sometimes.
O.S. Winer Riesling Champoux Vineyard 2010 (WA)

We followed with a small palate cleanser, a citrus rhubarb thyme sorbet. It was a little sour and tart mixed with sweet.

Our main was originally listed as duck, but instead we had a Rainshadow El Rancho game hen served with caramelized turnips, lovage, white wine braised fennel, and demi-glace. I found the hen a bit disappointing as it was dry especially with my anticipation for a fatty duck. The veggies were excellent though.
Benoit Courault Anjou Rouge Tabeneaux 2008 (France)

The fourth course was a salad of arugula, shaved zucchini, and lemon oil with sheep's ricotta and a green garlic toast. The rose wine that was paired with this was really sour, and while it went well with the salad, it was not pleasant to drink on it's own.
Chateau Mourges du Gres Fleur D'Eglantine 2009 (France)

The next course was a cheese plate. We had three cheeses: a Washington state ladysmith cow's milk, a French cow's milk cheese, and a goat's milk cheese. Sorry, I can't read my handwriting in my notes.
They arrived with a yummy anise & fleur de sel shortbread, honey, Angelico plums, and fried Marcona almonds.
Domaine Richou Anjou Blance Chauvigne 2009 (France)
Dessert was a chocolate souffle topped with a smoked salt ice cream with balsamic macerated strawberries.
All in all it was just an ok meal, definitely the least memorable of my trip.
Clos Serre Romani Maury NV Roussilon (France)

5425 Northeast 30th Ave.
Portland, OR

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland, OR

My favorite food cart meal when I was in Portland, was at Nong's Khao Man Gai located in Downtown. The cart was started by a young lady, Nong, from Thailand in order to bring the spirit of Thai street food to Portland. She only makes one dish, which is common with food carts in her native country. That dish is Khao Man Gai, a simple staple dish in Thai cuisine. It is simply a boiled chicken with rice topped with a sauce made of ginger, chilies, garlic and spices.
Nong's is served wrapped in butcher paper with a small cabbage soup side. I ordered mine with additional chicken livers. The dish is incredible and so satisfying. The texture of the chicken was light and moist, the rice was sticky, and the sauce had many nuanced flavors that showered the chicken and rice. The livers were simply poached as well, and they were very good with the gingery sauce. I understand this dish is basically comfort food for Thai folk, and I can see why- it's unforgettable.

SW 10th & Alder St.
Portland, OR

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fuller's Coffee Shop, Portland, OR

For breakfast, one morning, my friends took me to Fuller's Coffee Shop located in the Pearl district of Portland, OR. It's an old school diner making great straightforward breakfast and lunch food. Inside, the diner has two long U-shaped countertops for customers to nestle into. The service was attentive as well. The waitress made sure our coffee and water was always topped off.
I could not resist ordering a strawberry milkshake as strawberries are just coming into season. Made to order, it was thick, passing my "straw test", and was delicious.

For breakfast, I ordered their "pigs in a blanket". The pancake was light and fluffy topped with powdered sugar, and the sausages were great. It even came with heated maple syrup.
My friends took home a loaf of their house made bread as well.

136 Northwest 9th Avenue
Portland, OR

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Slingshot Lounge, Portland, OR

My Portland friends' Matt & Beth took me to one of their favorite late night spots for food, the Slingshot Lounge, after their First Thursday opening. They serve bar food until 2 am, but because it's in Portland, the level of the food was definitely a notch above the norm.
I started with a hoppy strong glass of local Ninkasi Tricerahops double I.P.A.
Beth recommended the fava bean hummus with some honey. It was sweet, light and really delicious.
I ordered starters for my meal. First was the fried polenta topped with fried egg. The polenta outside was crispy and the inside was creamy, pairing well with the runny egg yolk.
I also order the yummy tomato toast with anchovies.
Matt told me that the chef at Slingshot used to work at one of the fine dining Italian places in town, and was now using his skills to make less fussy food. I wish we had a late night place like this in Baltimore.

5532 Southeast Center Street
Portland, OR