Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tastes like Autumn

Ok...I just LOVE autumn. I really do. Not only is my birthday in October, but it has the BEST weather and my favorite veggies too. Autumn is the bomb. You get to wear cute coats, tights, little hats, and boots. Everyone looks adorable. And the best part is that everyone starts winding down, the clock goes back, and people are ready to EAT. You start to get yummy, savory tastes: root veggies, squash, brussel sprouts and nutmeg. Oh man. I just love it.

Anyway, I made the yummiest meal ever. It was all inspired by this delicious walnut oil I got from the farmers market. It is called La Nogalera Walnut Oil. This walnut oil is so bad ass that they use it in the dishes at French Laundry! And we all know Thomas Keller is a bad ass, so ya...I'm gonna use it too.

Well, I've never cooked with walnut oil and so it inspired me to create really cozy dishes. Walnut oil tastes like melted butter and flowers...its perfect for fall. I made an awesome pumpkin pasta sauce, and a roasted fennel and spinach salad.

For the sauce, I deep fried rosemary in olive oil and then removed it to cool. Then I sauteed garlic in the oil until it was golden. Next, dump in a can of pumpkin, a cup of chicken stock, a cup of 1/2 and 1/2, a tablespoon of walnut oil, red chili flakes, salt, garlic pepper, a bay leaf, tons of fresh rosemary, more garlic, and some Italian seasoning and cook for about 10 minutes. Its delicious and tastes like it was difficult to make. With the left over sauce, just thin it out with chicken broth or milk and add some curry powder and now you have a bomb ass soup. Beautiful color, I might add!

The salad I made was a real stroke of genius. It was really amazing. I drizzled walnut oil over fennel and roasted it in the oven for about 30mins. While it was still warm, I put it on top of crisp, cold spinach leaves and added pomegranate seeds, candy walnuts, and goat cheese. For the salad dressing, I used some unsweetened cranberry juice and stirred in a dollop of raspberry jam, salt, rosemary and garlic pepper. I then whisked in the walnut oil until I had a vinaigrette. Seriously, bring this salad to the next pot luck and people will praise you.

And to top it all off, I made some walnut fudge brownies with, of course, the walnut oil and fresh walnuts. I amazed myself last night. Meals like that make me proud of every inch of chub I have on my body. When I pinch my fat, I'm like, "Ya! I KNOW what good food is." It also sends a strong signal to the dudes I go out with that I will not be a cheap date. Take me somewhere niiiiiice. They take one look at me and are like, "Shit. I ain't got enough for a steak house." Aaaah....the single life.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Few Words on Butter....

I woke up craving a nice, tasty English muffin and some dark roast coffee today. Actually, I really just wanted butter. The English muffin is just the receptacle to hold the butter; a delicious utensil with nooks and crannies to snuggle the butter in. Upside: I had a perfect breakie with strong coffee, my muffin with butter, and a little bit of raspberry jam (WITH seeds!) Downside: I can hear myself getting fatter. Literally... I got butter inside my ear. I really wish I was kidding. I was eating my muffin with such fervor and I guess I had some buttery goodness on my fingertips. I absent-mindedly stuck my digit in my ear, scratched around, and low and behold....I have a delicious tasting inner ear infection. Ya...this wont pan out well I'm sure.

Anyway, lets talk some more about butter. I really do love it. I absolutely love love love the fresh butter from the local farmers market. I don't remember the name of the creamery where it is produced, but Ill post that soon. Its a deep golden yellow stick of butter that tastes so good. It is what butter strives to be. Its buttery butter. Its so good that it makes you eat toast. Its so good that you don't want to waste it in any recipe. You just want it on a muffin or bread. Its also awesome for making cream sauces.

What I don't like about butter are all the fat people who like butter. Seriously...it lumps me into a pretty motley crew of people well over the body mass index and with an affinity for collecting miniatures. This is not a pleasant association. I do not like hearing the casual "oh you like butter? You're just like my aunt Mabel who lived in Georgia! She died of a heart attack and left all her money to her cats." Hmmm. Thanks?

One more negative association would be Paula Deen eating deep fried butter. That's just not right.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tongue on Tongue Action!

So on my quest to being a bonifide foodie, I decided it was my duty to start experimenting with eating weird meats. The best way to do this is with tacos. Mexicans can make a shoe taste great. Anyway, I have built up a pretty serious relationship with Salvador, the owner of El Buen Gusto and he keeps calling me an honorary Mexican, which is a huge compliment for me. He says for me to truly leave my Gringo past, I need to eat what he calls "the good stuff." He told me awhile ago that tongue was the easiest to eat and most people like it. So on my lunch break yesterday, Megan and I went to El Buen Gusto and I ordered 2 fish tacos (the old stand by) and one taco de lengua. Before I get into the tongue, let me just tell you that Buen Gusto has THE BEST fish tacos of all time. Its deep fried tilapia on two corn tortillas with tomatoes and lettuce and a blob of fresh sour cream. I always smother it in their amazing avocado and serrano salsa. Its a hug for your mouth. It seriously doesn't get any better than that. I'm going to be bold enough to say that I could eat those tacos everyday for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. Its just that good. Moving on...

So tongue really isn't bad! Its just the mental part that's hard to get over. I don't know why it was so tough for me. I eat chicken hearts and beef liver. Whats the big deal? Tongue is just creepy I guess....and cows don't brush their teeth so its also a little gross. It didn't taste bad and it didn't even look weird, but it was just difficult to eat. It looks just like fatty stewed beef. It tasted like pot roast with a hint of venison. Megan even tried a bit and she didn't think it was bad either. As for eating it again, I think I'm gonna pass. It just wasn't that good and I'm curious about eating the other "good stuff." One of the guys in the restaurant recommended to have their chitlins taco. I'm probably gonna try that next. It sounded really good. Its crispy fried chicken innards. I can see that being more my style.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Top Chef Night

Ok so tonight was a Top Chef Night. I'm not even gonna talk about what I ate because NOTHING is more important then TC. Ok so here is the recap/my thoughts on the whole thing.

Let me just start off by saying I HATE HATE HATE Mike Isabella. Mike: what is your deal? You are not a bad ass. You are a total frado.*
*frado - an ugly guy who thinks he's good-looking
sentence: "Bill thinks all the girls love him, but they all know he's a frado."

Ok so it starts off with the Quickfire challenge and the judge is a Tracy Gold look-a-like named Michelle Bernstein. The contestants have to make a dish which represent their angel side and their devil side. In my opinion, NO ONE did a good job. They just made whatever they felt like and had a convoluted story as to why that represented devil or angel. It was all very lame. For example, Eli, the one who looks half man and half hedge hog, made a scallop with radish and greens for angel side and a scallop with risotto and butter for his devil side. WTF? You just were hungry for scallops. That has nothing to do with devils or angels.

The two dishes that were worthy of note were my girlfriend Ashley's dish (YAY ASHLEY!) and Brian's dish. Ashley was really focused this week. I'm so proud of her. Her dish looked good and actually made sense. For her angel side she had scallop crudo and for her devil side she made seared scallop on a bed of puttanesca sauce. Raw scallop to be a light, airy angel, and whore sauce for the devil. Good job. Brian Voltaggio (the one that looks like an Abercrombie robot) made a dish that was very pretty but apparently tasted like shit. He is too boring to listen to, so I'm not even sure what was in it. One side was a pure white sorbet and the other side was a pitch black chocolate thang. I would hang it on a wall, but that's about it.

So the real kicker is that Robin, the old lady, total wins the quickfire challenge cause she talks about how she had cancer. Cancer is the new celebrity. You mention it anywhere and you get the royal treatment. She makes an apple crisp and an apple/fennel salad for her dish and apparently its amazing in its simplicity. If I can make it, it shouldn't win....just sayin! Anyway, this makes me happy inside because Mike Isabella cant stand her. So anything that pisses him off is good in my book. Robin is weird, Ill give him that, but I still hate him more. Robin reminds me of a weird hybrid of Amy Sedaris from Strangers with Candy, mixed in with a lesbo P.E. teacher who speaks openly about her menses. Creepy.

Anyway, after all that nonsense, Penn and Teller come on the show and do a magic trick. They then slow it down and show us how they performed the magic trick (which was more confusing then the trick) and announced that the contestants had to deconstruct popular dishes for the next challenge. Pretty cool idea.

So Ash, who looks like the comedian Jim Gaffigan, had to deconstruct Shepard's pie. It looked like shit. He under cooked his meat and used peas instead of potatoes and had some weird stuffed tomato. It just didn't make sense.

Ashley (yay Ashley!) made an amazing deconstructed pot roast out of seared strip loin, potato puree, crispy shallots, and carrot form. She is really nobel. She never talks shit and whenever she talks about how poor she was growing up, I just want to hold her. Sigh! Needless to say, she was in the winners circle tonight, and almost won!

Bryan (aka Abercrombie robot) made deconstructed tuna pastrami reuben, warm mayo, shallots, rye, Gruyere cheese, with fried capers. Honestly, HOW DOES THAT TASTE LIKE A REUBEN?? Wheres the cabbage?? How the f does cornbeef taste like tuna? I would have sent his ass home.

Eli, the hedge hog, made a deconstructed sweet and sour pork. He made tempura pork roulette, broccoli puree, sweet and sour sauce, broccoli salad. All the judges liked it. It looked really gross though.....and I don't like him.

Jennifer, the stepford wife, made a fake lasagna out of flat iron steak, mascarpone bechemel, tomato sauce and parmesan crisp. It looked really good and apparently the judges liked it as well.

Kevin, who looks like Santa Claus mated with a red head Cupiee doll, made the best dish, and the winning dish. He made a mole negra out of chicken, Mexican coffee, chili flake, pumpkin and fig jam. He had me at fig jam. I bet it was amazing. All the judges paid him very high compliments and were shocked at how good it was. Impressive naughty Santa!

Lauraine, the caterer with a soccer mom hair cut, was lame. She isn't even worth blogging about. She made some soggy ass fake fish and chips. Really Lauraine?? You got the EASY dish and you still fucked it up?? I think that caterers shouldn't be allowed on the show. I have no respect for caterers. Caterers are stay at home moms who are bored with a decent peanut butter pie recipe. Just run the booster clubs bake sale and stay home.

Robin coasted on her easy win during the quickfire challenge and made a pretty dish but I bet it tasted like crap. She was supposed to make clam chowder but made some fried clams and a flan out of cream and celery which looked like condensed Campbell's soup. Gross.

Ron, the voodoo king, just made paella. He was supposed to deconstruct it...but he didn't. All was lost in translation. Needless to say, he went home. Later on, the judges had food poisoning due to his voodoo magic skills. Just kidding. Heheheee!

Well the last two d-bags to write about are the two Michaels. I hate both...I really do. Mike Isabella, who jumps back and forth between claiming he's from Jersey and Greece, made a real shitty dish. Apparently he doesn't know what eggs Florentine is! Instead of talking about how awesome of a chef you are and getting lame little star tattoos, why don't you actually read a cookbook???! That way, you might actually be able to back up your mouth that you are ALWAYS running. Pretty much he made spanakopita with a poached egg. Whatever.

Which leaves me with Michael Voltaggio. Oh Michael V....where do i begin? You like to think of yourself as the "bad boy of Top Chef" don't you? With your pierced ears, tattooed arms, and "devil may care" attitude. Too bad you look like a drug addicted, pervert, surfer from 1992. Ya....get a new hair do and stop puttin your hat on backwards like a dad. You can cook...Ill give you that. But you need to settle down on being the sexy bad ass. Television already has a sexy bad ass and his name is Tony Bourdain thank you very much! Followed closely up by Adam Richmond from Man vs. Food. So we don't need anymore food related man whores. Anyway, he had to make a deconstructed ceaser salad and I guess he did a good job. He had a brioche toast, chicken wing, romaine leaf, and a blob of gelled salad dressing that you had to break open like an egg yolk. Pretty cool...but already done before.

All in all, a great Top Chef Night! I'm super glad that Ashley kicked ass and that Ron got booted off. Now we just need to get rid of Lauraine and Mike Isabella!!!!

Whew! I'm glad I got that all off my chest before going to bed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Girl Friends Cafe!

So today was a GREAT day. Today Diana, Megan and I met up for happy hour downtown in Santa Barbara. We are calling it, "Girl Friends Cafe," which is a real thing mind you. I saw an ad for it on Craigslist about 6 months ago and I can't stop myself from saying it. It is now my random filler word. Instead of saying something to the effect of "Oh you!" I now just shrug my shoulders and say "Girlfriends Cafe!" with the same inflection of someone saying "Cest La Vie!" Ya...I know it doesn't make sense...but I can't help it. Anyway, since its such a great saying, we now dubbed any happy hour meet up a "Girl Friends Cafe Night" or GCN for short.

Anyway.....we went to Chase Bar and Grill for our GCN meeting. I really wanted a Peartini, but they didnt have any pear vodka or pear liquor so the bartender, George (who we call G Spot), recomended a Blueberry Martini. I tried it and I would vote against it. It tastes like it should be served from a trashcan in plastic red cups. It was so sweet and tasted like Kool-Aide. NOT GOOD. After my fail of a martinni I went for an old stand by, the Cosmo. He did make a mean Cosmo...not too sweet or too Triple Sec-y.

We dined on pesto cheesy bread and shared the penne cabonara. It was real good in that total Italian-American way. The bread was real cheesy and greasy with a nice garlic flavor. Sometimes Ive noticed that restaurants seem to burn their garlic, but this was not the case. It was just good. Something you would NOT want to eat on a date.

The carbonera was suprisingly good. That sauce is real tricky to make and can be so gross and too janky. At Chase it was totally pleaseant; nice and salty, creamy, and a bit of sweetness from the peas. No complaints.
The highlights would be that G Spot gave us a great discount because we are cute...duh. AND, Mr. John Palminterri met us for GCN night! So it was GREAT cocktails, GREAT company, and ok food. After John left (he is a busy man after all), we got to talking with G Spot and he really wanted some gelato at the icecream joint two doors down. Of course we wanted some too, so we got some and brought him back some as well. This really secured our spot on being favorite bar flies and recieving furthur discounts. Needless to say, he offered to buy us all drinks. We settled on sharing a shot of Sambuca, which was perfect. All and all, it was a great evening. I definetly need to be wary of this food blog thing and perhaps rejoin the gym! Tomorrow is definetly a salad night!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Me Want Food.

Welcome! So I recently discovered that 90% of my conversations are about food, drink, the foodnetwork (if it can still be called that...NOT), and of course TOP CHEF (I love you, Ashley)! So, this in my mind makes me an expert, which is how you found yourself here on my new food blog. So here is my blog devoted to delicious things I put in my mouth (stop it, Lindsay! You too, Tim.) and any other food related gibberish. So let us begin with the daily ritual of me telling you what I'm eating for dinner.

Sooo....this isn't too exciting. I'm kinda in the mood for something janky (melted cheese) and something simple and we are kinda low on food in the fridge. So I'm thinking of making twice baked potatoes (TBP) Iron Chef style (using the random ingredients in the house to make a meal). So I'm going with sharp cheddar, diced ham, broccoli, cauliflower, and chives...and if I feel like getting wild, some jalapenos. Nothing that shows off my obvious chef skills. Although, I started brainstorming a chef worthy TBP and here's what I'm coming up with:
1. Blue Cheese
2. Pancetta
2. Chives
3. Thyme
4. Dried Cranberries

I dunno....I could see it being REALLY good. Sweet and salty and still cheesy. This should be a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge. That's it....I'm calling Tom Colicchio.

Anyway, Ill write later and post pics of my TBP with a frosty Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Ok....so here it is. Behold the glory of the Jacket Potato (AKA Twice Baked Potato). Tell me that doesn't look good! It was awesome. Its like eating Applebee's at home but better; all of the gluttony without staring at childhood obeseity induced diabetes. It was everything I was craving. Cheesy goodness swashed down with a frosty, hoppy beer, accompined with yelling at the tv screen because Taylor (Tay Tay) from the Rachel Zoe Project doesn't understand that she is Rachel Zoe's EMPLOYEE! Dear Taylor: you are a spoiled bitch with a sweet job. Get lowlights....you are too blonde. Anyway, it was a good night.

Side note: I need to learn how to garnish my plates so they don't look so sad. My plating is a hair above jail food...so I guess that makes it dorm food??