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Everything posted by viva

  1. Buttermilk fried chicken with homemade gooey macaroni & cheese, crisp green beans, and hot flaky biscuits. Maybe some barbecue pork ribs on the side. White wine. Peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert.
  2. Anyone have any experience baking a pecan pie from frozen? Or how about freezing a made pineapple upside down cake for defrosting and serving later? I've had a lot of success baking fruit pies from frozen - in fact I would say it is my preferred way to bake fruit pie. I also loving making & baking cakes & cookies in advance and then defrosting to serve - it's the only way to get through the holidays. BUT... - I worry about the eggs in the pecan pie filling, and whether the filling would set properly before the crust is done. - I worry about the pineapple in the upside-down cake doing some weird crystallization thing. Help. I have a lot of desserts to make for 4th of July... the more I can do in advance, the happier I'll be...
  3. Re: repetition... Depending on your particular establishment, if you've got a lot of business travelers who are there every week, even the Mon-Wed night rotation will get obvious. I pretty much know every turndown snack as well as the rotation of the hot appetizers in the concierge lounge in the hotels I stay at. [Granted, I stay in the big chains, so I do expect the corporate sameness of it all.] A little surprise every now and then is welcome. And I agree with Fat Guy - something that I might be able to tuck into my purse for a sweet treat the following day would be very welcome.
  4. Not just food, but if something has a cute penguin or is penguin-shaped, I tend to want it. Hasn't happened with food, yet... no penguin containers that have caught my eye. ← There's a "Little Penguin" wine that I buy from time to time, mostly because the penguin is cute (catches my eye, in addition to being inexpensive and drinkable).
  5. I just paid $39.99 for a Copper River filet entree at Ray's in Atlanta. But it was goooooood.
  6. Just dropped in to say thanks guys - Mi Tienda was exactly what I was looking for. Looks like it is possibly an H.E.B. store? I completely got taken by the hot cajeta churros on the way out. So yummy. Can't wait to try out the Airline market places as well.
  7. Actually, I live downtown in Houston, but I fly in and out of Hobby quite frequently, and mapquest tells me Mi Tienda is a convenient stop enroute from Hobby to home. Thanks for the recommendation! Any others??
  8. New to the Houston area here... what Mexican grocers/carnicerias do folks recommend? Looking for good chorizo, queso, crema, tortillas, chiles, etc. plus staples like spices and sugars. Just cruising the yellow pages I found Mercado Mexico, Delacruz (in the Airline farmers' market? which I have not yet been to), and Fiesta?
  9. A good article on Jamaican food/restaurants by Mark Kurlansky from Food & Wine, which includes a redemption of my beloved Scotchies: <Clickety.>
  10. To redeem myself... this weekend I made the Braised Radishes with some French Breakfast radishes that I was lucky to spot at the farmers' market. I don't think I can ever recall having had a cooked radish in my life, but this may be the way I use radishes from here on out. The radishes mellow out considerably and the light buttery glaze is perfect. Perfect with a broiled piece of salmon and a green salad.
  11. viva

    Preserving Summer

    What's the report back on Ferber's class, Angela? It sounded wonderful. The early peaches are coming in here so I made the Texas version of Ferber's white peaches with rose de chine tea... which would be Texas yellow peaches with flor de jamaica tea! I skipped the rose petals as I couldn't find a source where I knew they would be untreated and edible. Like others here, I found I needed to double the cooking time to reach the given temperature in the recipe. I also reduced the amount of sugar by about 1/3 cup. I love the ruby color of the tea mixed with the golden yellow of the peaches!
  12. Beaver's Berkshire ribs were outstanding. Brisket was okay, Carolina pulled pork was on the dry side IMHO. Would definitely return for the ribs.
  13. I know. But I don't know how to knit! So I thought others in my particular boat of non-knitting-ability might be interested in a fun replacement for disposable bags along a similar vein. Anyway, there's another type of plastic bag blight, which is the plastic sandwich bag - I saw these posted on the Serious Eats blog and thought they might be useful. Probably not so much for anything that might be leaky, but for a cute, reusable sandwich wrap: <clickety>
  14. Ah! That's what I get for trying to be healthy. Thanks very much for the heads up - I didn't think about the higher protein content in fat free yogurt.
  15. Heh. Do you think you can get pulled over for that? A DWPF? Great observations. I may get staffed in North Carolina again someday so more barbecue adventures are always welcome.
  16. I finally got my cookbooks out of long term storage and Molly is back in action... Made the Chicken Do-Piaza with a couple of turkey breasts. Overall delicious and easy... but I curdled the yogurt... %$#@! My sauce wasn't even close to bubbling or boiling, so I think next time I might just add the yogurt off heat altogether. Still tastes great, just the visual lack of appeal around the curdled yogurt. I used Total 0%, dunno if that makes a difference. Anyway, I served it with some crusty bread and grilled whole fava beans. Really nice and flavorful without being too heavy or rich.
  17. Uh-oh... I never went to Reidsville! You'll have to tell me what I missed out on! ← Reidsville has Short Sugar's which has been around forever. It's being run by the son-in-law of the original owners and the bbq itself isn't as good as it once was. But the sauce is truly amazing - nothing I have ever tasted anywhere comes close. If they ever close, I might swear off NC bbq for life ! I bring both bbq and sauce home when I visit and once I run out of bbq, the sauce is so good that it makes even ordinary local bbq something special. You can see a plate of the bbq that I served last night here! ← It sounds (and looks) delicious! I had apple cobbler I just forgot to take a snapshot of it.
  18. You can even buy reusable market bags on Etsy made from plastic grocery bags. I wish I knew how to knit. Genius!
  19. The month of April saw me heading out of state to my new home destination in Houston, Texas, lazily passing through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, down to Atlanta, and then along the Gulf Coast. There’s a proliferation of road food websites (chief among them roadfood.com and hollyeats.com, of course) dedicated to ensuring that I would not have to dine a la McDonald’s on the way. For this, I thank them. My first stop was the town of Statesville NC for a chili cheese dog at Jay-Bee’s. This ain’t no fast food joint! The cats were cranky at the prospect of a 1400 mile drive, so a rest and a dog were needed. Joe decided the best place to be was buried in the comforter. The hot dogs at Jay Bee’s are nicely grilled, the chili is made fresh daily at the restaurant. Cheese sauce tasted canned, but served on the side so you can control the application. Yum. Heading after that into the lovely city of Asheville NC for a few stops and a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. First stop is at the Southern Highlands Folk Art Center for… you guessed it… more pottery. (There are other, non-foodie items as well, like the most gorgeous quilts I’ve ever seen.) Here I procured a French butter dish, amongst other things Dinner was from a wonderful restaurant called Picnic’s, conveniently on the way to the University of North Carolina’s Botanical Gardens, where you could in fact have a picnic if you were so inclined. I got mine to go, so I could hop back on the Parkway to catch the sunset view while enjoying my dinner. Even in rainy April, it’s still beautiful on the Parkway. And the fall colors here will take your breath away! And my dinner from Picnic’s - my photo is blurry, as it was late and I was eagerly anticipating the meal. A quarter roasted duck, mac & cheese, sautéed kale, cornbread and (not in the pic) blackberry cobbler. Really fantastic, with crispy skin and a fruity/peppery glaze on the duck, and kale that I can’t keep my mind off of to this day. How often do you say that about a side dish? The staff at Picnic’s were also really nice people, very helpful in making selections as well as directions about town. The next day took me to northern Georgia via the Parkway and some side roads. No food stops here (I saved the blackberry cobbler from Picnic’s to have for breakfast), but there are a number of pottery stops and the countryside is the very definition of bucolic beauty. I got a move on after that and made it to the Alabama border in time for a late lunch in the twin towns of Opelika-Auburn AL. I have to thank the staff at the border Alabama Visitor’s Center for providing great little guides on local food that helped make my selection. I stopped at Country’s Barbecue in Auburn for a taste of the local ‘cue. Country’s serves up mustard/vinegar barbecue, smoked over hickory and oak. Since I was roughly halfway between North Carolina, home of pork barbecue, and Texas, home of beef barbecue, I got the Patriot sandwich with sliced pork and beef (a compromise!), barbecue slaw, and the hot mustard sauce on the side. No sides needed with this bad boy – it’s enough for a meal *and* leftovers for breakfast the next day. Delicious and tender meat, and I loved the mustard dip. You could have fresh lemonade at Country’s… or you could head down the road apiece to Toomer’s Drug and get yourself a big lemonade, squeezed to order right at the counter. The next day, still full from The Patriot leftovers at breakfast, I needed a little snack to tide me over through Mississippi, as I knew I needed to make it to Louisiana for lunch. Golden Flake potato chips to the rescue – Dill Pickle flavored. Like pickle juice – salty and sour. I’m glad I didn’t get a bigger bag, as I had room for Andre’s Cajun Cracklin’s in Erwinville LA. Andre’s is a shack next to a gas station and completely fabulous. They ship, too! I had myself a crab pistolette, which is a French bread roll stuffed with crab and cheese, then deep fried, as well as a boudin ball, also deep fried. Both delicious, especially the pistolette. As I drove through the side roads, I couldn’t help but listen to Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Louisiana Saturday Night” – “My brother Bill & my other brother Jack, belly full of beer & a possum in a sack, fifteen kids in the front porch light, Louisiana Saturday Night.” Andre’s was a fitting last stop on the journey. From here on out, it’s a new adventure in Texas! So… one year later, 5 states, 16 restaurants, one barbecue festival, one state fair, zero bad meals, and a personal record of 4 chopped pork sandwiches in one day (although the waitress at Smokey Joe’s told me about a man who ate 11 sandwiches at 10 restaurants around Lexington in one day!!), countless miles on the highway, and countless miles on the treadmill working it all off… . My overall thoughts… it’s hard to rate the different places and pick a favorite. I liked the barbecue slaw of the West, the whole pig of the East, the coarse chopped (really coarse) over the fine chopped, the vinegary-peppery dip of the East, cracklin’s and skin chopped into the meat, and anyplace that will give me cobbler or pie with my pork. Or a fried chicken thigh. Hope y’all enjoyed this… I certainly did.
  20. And as my fond farewell to Raleigh, I finish off at The Pit, the legendary pitmaster Ed Mitchell’s new place in Raleigh. More than I can possibly say about Ed Mitchell is documented here: http://www.newsobserver.com/105/story/926361.html Disclaimer: my visit to The Pit was a takeout order, so YMMV, although I sat at the bar and had some wine while I waited for the takeout – the atmosphere was upscale casual, and the staff were friendly and accommodating. The question you need to ask yourself is whether $50 for a barbecue meal here beats $10 at a shack and a bottle of wine from home. I’m not *totally* convinced on that front. Menu available online at: http://www.thepit-raleigh.com I had the chopped whole hog with macaroni & cheese, collard greens, and smoked turkey fritters. The mac & cheese and collards were average, mac & cheese possibly so because of the drive home – I like my mac creamier. The pig was delicious (chopped whole hog here is “everything but the squeal” – meaning I had those little skin bits I love). The vinegar dip was nice and bright and peppery (there was also a sweeter Western style dip with tomato and sugar, but it was a bit too sweet for me). The smoked turkey fritters were like hush puppies with cheese and smoked turkey inside – rich and yummy. Disappointment: the restaurant forgot the fried chicken half of my combo order, and gave me a full order of chopped pork only. Silver lining: I now had enough chopped pork for a leftover sandwich the following day! Karmic balance: this was the first day The Pit was serving sweet potato pie. Proper southern dessert at last! Yum. Next stop: Points Beyond and The End of the Road
  21. There’s too many famous establishments in the East to get them all on one trip, so here we go one more time! Off to Goldsboro. First stop is McCall’s Barbecue, which wasn’t on my original list of places to visit, but I had to go there to show some support for the business – because their other location in Clayton NC was … hit by a commuter plane. Seriously. <clickety>. The McCall’s Clayton location was near the plant of a client I was working for, and McCall’s was popular with the employees. The Goldsboro location has a drive-thru, and a separate building which looked like the smoking house – big old brick chimney and stacks of wood being my clues on that one. As a barbecue break, I ordered the fried chicken plate, dark meat of course, with green beans, corn, and hush puppies. The sides were uninspiring, but the pups were hot and crunchy. The chicken was good – nicely seasoned and juicy. But let’s face it – McCall’s was just the preamble to the real reason for visiting Goldsboro, which is Wilber’s. (As a side note, how ‘bout that sunny North Carolina spring? I know the Southeast needs the rain, but I haven’t seen the sun in a week!!) Wilber’s rocked. I got it to go as the restaurant was packed (at 1:30 PM on a Tuesday). Chopped pork sandwich with slaw and a side of hush puppies. The pork was in large chunks and shreds, not finely chopped, and was moist and flavorful. The dip was a bright vinegar with a very healthy dose of red pepper flakes – visible on the meat. The slaw balanced the vinegar nicely – not too sweet, not too vinegary. And last, but certainly not least, they had banana pudding. That’s what I’m talking about! One more stop after this… back to the Triangle before I say goodbye to Raleigh-Durham.
  22. Now setting the compass east of Raleigh in February to check out what the other side of the state has to offer. First stop, Ayden at the famous Skylight Inn. Their position on the proper way to cook pork is made clear right on the sign: “If it’s not cooked with wood, it’s not Bar-B-Q.” There are apparently two key differences between pork in points west and points east in North Carolina: (1) shoulder only in the west, whole pig in the east (giving one both white & dark meat); and (2) tomato/sugar + vinegar/pepper dip in the west, vinegar/pepper dip only in the east. I also thought that the slaw was sweeter and creamier in the east than its barbecue slaw cousins out west, but that could have been just a function of the places I went to rather than a regional distinction. The experts out there can please correct me where I am wrong on this east vs. west business. Inside, the choices are easy. You have your chopped sandwich (with slaw), or your chopped tray (with cornbread and slaw). Tray is small, medium, or large. This is the extent of the thinking you need to do to order. (Note, there wasn’t a choice of the “chop-style” (fine or coarse), but Skylight’s was coarse enough to satisfy.) Me, I chose the small tray, because cracklin’ cornbread (made with pork drippings) beats sandwich bun any day of the week. The highlight of the chopped pork at the Skylight Inn… they chop cracklin’s right into the pork. That’s right, crispy crunchy fatty goodness right in there with the velvety moist pork. *That* is something that all pit masters should adopt. Full & happy, I drove off to Bum’s Barbecue in downtown Ayden. Bum’s is served cafeteria style with meat selections other than pork (!) and lots of sides. I had to eschew the typical sides with my chopped pork sandwich in favor of … a side of fried chicken thigh. I know, I know, Bum’s supposedly has the best collard greens in the world…but seriously, the chicken was freaking fantastic. The chopped pork sandwich was delicious (again no choice on fine or coarse chopped, but this was coarse enough), and, since I liked the flavor, I put a healthy dousing of Bum’s dip on my sandwich, made of vinegar, hot sauce, salt & pepper. Nice spice and tang. Last, but not least, a stop on the way home Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson. After a pork tray, a slice of cracklin’ cornbread, a pork sandwich, and a fried chicken thigh, I was, to say the least, full. So I got a pound of Parker’s pork to go and called it even. I took a little bite and saved the rest for dinner the following day – again Parker’s was velvety and moist. I read online that Parker’s uses a machine to chop their pork? If so, this is probably why the chop was a little finer than the other two – I definitely prefer the coarser hand chopped and pulled varieties. Anyway, I waited until the next night to have it with some leftover spoonbread, and a little wine. It was even better after sitting in the fridge for a day – the smokiness came forward and was wonderful. If this was coarse chopped, it would be perfect. Even has bits of skin chopped in for a little fatty goodness. My only complaint thus far about my ventures east: where’s the cobbler and banana pudding???!!!! There’s always room for cobbler. (To be fair, desserts may have been available inside Parker’s, but not from the take-away counter where I was.) That’s okay – I’ll give it another shot. Next stop: East Again.
  23. Well, I don't know if anyone is interested in this, but since I took the pictures, I'll slog along... Before I headed off to try Eastern-style barbecue, timing necessitated a return to Lexington for the Annual Barbecue Festival in October! The pig is celebrated at every turn here, including… Pig Sand Sculpture… King ‘Cue! Pig Cupcakes (I am not a cake-eater, so I didn’t waste any precious stomach space on these, but they were really fun looking) Racing Pigs (the “Hogway Speedway”). These little guys were so cute! They raced around the track for cheese doodles at the finish line. And most importantly, the barbecue! The various barbecue establishments about town shared the operations of the tents, so you couldn’t really try a specific restaurant’s flavor. Here’s one of the barbecue tents. They offered a chopped pork sandwich, chopped pork plate (with beans and slaw), curly “Pig’s Tail” french fries, and hot dogs for the foolish folk who don’t want barbecue. If you’re interested in chicken or beef… you’re in the wrong town. These are high volume tents! Here’s a shot of the interior pork assembly line, with this tent being operated by Smokey Joe’s and Whitley’s: I ate about three sandwiches, as there were three separate barbecue tents. Clearly I needed to have the complete barbecue picture for the sake of comparison. All of the sandwiches were fine-chopped with cole slaw. There really wasn’t much of a difference between the tents. Being a pie-eater vs. a cake-eater, while I snubbed the pig cupcakes, I definitely made room for some good old-fashioned church-made apple fried pie… The pie man in action: Last, but not least, before I headed out of town I stopped at Lexington #1 (a.k.a. Honeymonk’s), the most famous of them all. An added bonus to the weekend was the beautiful fall color on the trees. It being festival weekend, the place was completely crazy. The fastest way to a coarse-chopped pork sandwich was to order to go outside. This gave me an opportunity to look around while I was waiting for my sandwich, so I peered in through the screen window of the kitchen to say hello to the cooks. They invited me inside for a look at the smokers in action. Piles upon piles of pork shoulder inside of one of their four smokers. Huge bins of pulled pork in the kitchen and the men hard at work chopping! And my coarse chopped sandwich with slaw and hush puppies, a fitting close to my barbecue adventures in the west. Delicious and moist with subtle tang and smokiness. Next stop: Eastward, Ho!
  24. OK, this little interlude is not necessarily barbecue related, but for any food-lovers who spend some vacation time in North Carolina… consider heading to the town of Seagrove for a little pottery tour. North Carolina is world famous for its pottery tradition, and I found a lot of wonderful cooking and serving dishes with beautiful handmade detailing. A link to the Seagrove site with some history: http://www.seagrovepotteryheritage.com/se_learn.html. I’ve been living in a corporate apartment in Raleigh for about a year now, and have amassed a little Carolina cooking vessel collection, despite having no damn space for it and necessitating transport of it once I leave the state for my next client assignment. It’s a nice little side jaunt from Lexington. The Seagrove pottery festival is once a year in November (although you can drive the pottery trail any time of year and visit individual potters), and there’s also a pottery festival in Sanford (south of Raleigh) once a year in May. *Some* of my purchases are below. My favorite is the honey pot with the little bees carved and painted on the side. Okay, back to the barbecue. Next stop: Lexington…The Return.
  25. Heading now to my local destinations in the Triangle, and from what I understand the only authentic NC barbecue establishment in the Triangle… Allen & Son. I actually stopped by the Pittsboro location first as I ran across it on the way home from an antiquing jaunt. What else but a chopped pork sandwich with slaw, and a side of hush puppies. The slaw was a little sweeter than I would care for, but the dip on the pork was nice – much more peppery than its Lexington cousins. No discernable tomato in the dip. The pups were fantastic – hot, crunchy outside and sweet, creamy inside. From what I have read and what my tastebuds and nose could discern, the Pittsboro location of Allen & Son cooks with gas, not wood. No smokiness, no yummy little brown bits (“browns”). This was still good pork, mind you… just not mind-blowing pork. Mildly disappointed, I went home, got on Mapquest, and made a trip to the Allen & Son Chapel Hill location that same evening. I certainly wasn’t going to sit around and let that situation fester. *This* is properly cooked pork. Same sandwich… intensified. Smoky meat with crisp browns chopped in. More vinegar, more pepper that nicely offset the sweetness of the slaw. Yum. My other barbecue location in Raleigh, which hits the spot primarily from a convenience perspective (it being 1.5m from my office in Research Triangle Park), is Danny’s. Danny’s, while it doesn’t live up to its wood-burning brethren, is a damn fine lunch. The only downside for me is that their slaw is a creamy cole slaw – and I would prefer the vinegar slaw. But who cares about the slaw, because they have warm blackberry, apple or peach cobbler for dessert! I adore the blackberry. Here’s my usual chopped pork on texas toast with a side of blackberry cobbler. I really have to say that texas toast rules over a hamburger bun. I usually eschew the typical sides of baked beans or coleslaw in favor of the cobbler. I’ve got three of their four sauces here – the vinegar & the mustard in the little containers, and the hot in the large squeeze bottle. I scored the bottle of hot, which is my favorite, when we catered Danny’s in for lunch one day. I believe the mustard sauce is considered heresy in these parts… but I like it, particularly mixed with the hot. A coworker is aiming for perfection by mixing all four sauces in what he considers to be the correct proportion. Last stop for July at the North Carolina State Fair (held in Raleigh) for a … barbecue Sundae. Barbecue pork topped with baked beans topped with cole slaw. It was okay. This guy actually had decent barbecue and slaw, so I should have just eaten a sandwich, but I had to try the sundae. Speaking of the state fair and barbecue… actually, this pig was destined not for barbecue, but to do some painting for a children’s exhibition. Photos of the NC State Fair would not be complete without a tobacco shot – men unloading the tobacco truck for one of the heritage exhibitions. Next stop: Pottery Interlude.
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