Monday, December 31, 2007

Quebec City - Pedant at Le Pain Beni

While I have a sec before we head out, let me tell you about my dinner.

1) Sweetbreads in chocolate and fruit sauces. I considered getting
both the sweetbread appetizer and the blood sausage pastry main
course, but I thought that might be too much of a food risk.
Regardless, the sweetbreads were lightly fried and very tasty in the
assortment of sweet sauces. I could totally have this again.

2) Fennel & leek soup. The Sherbs has done this justice.

3) Shank of lamb in garlic sauce with creamy polenta and roast
vegetables. Everything about this was good, and there was a lot of it
too boot. The lamb fell right off the bone into the rich gravy and
almost tasted like the Moroccan lamb my mother used to make.

4) Creme brûlée. With coffee and Bailey's flavors. Delicious.

Quebec City - The Sherbs On Day 3

So while the pedant was blogging before I was taking a much needed and
welcome nap. The trip has been great and I too have been enjoying the
sites and food. So here's my take on the past 24 hours or so.

1) Dragons

The exhibit was really interesting in the way that it depcted the
dragons. Since they are so prevelant in all ancient cultures it was
great to see how they put it together. Well done Canada.

2) "Ancient" French Canadian Food

First of all 400 years isn't ancient. But whatever it was tasty. I
had a warm goat cheese salad with a maple dressing. Basically it was a
plate where one half had mixed greens, the other half had a two inch
round of warmed goat cheese and there was a maple dressing topping it
all. All salads should include two inch rounds of goat cheese. The
soup was divine and my main course was local vegetables in a cassorole
dish with a tasty sauce. It was ohsogood. For desert I had the fudge
pie with raspberry sauce. It was a PIECE of pie. Like not 1/8 of a
pie, 1/6 of a pie with a buttery flakey crust.

3) Patisseries and boulangeries

More of these should replace starbucks. Don't get me wrong, I love me
some $3.50 lattes as much as the next yuppie, but fresh baked pastries
and coffees are the way to go. (side note: while I got pastries I
didn't get coffee. It's been so dry I need more water than usual and
bathrooms aren't easy to find, but go with the picture.)

4) dogs and kids

I have seen 3 dogs with booties which is cute in 3 feet of snow (not
on Madison Avenue). Also instead of strollers parents pull kids on
sleds. Amazing.

5) dark hot chocolate

Need I say more? It was to die for

6) dinner

We ate at the restaurant at the hotel which was delist. The Pedant
and I both got fennel and leek soup. I lamented that it wasnt the
Olive Garden where we could get seconds on the soup, but TP reminded
me the OG wouldn't serve fennel and leek soup. I then got ravioli with
ricotta filling in a pesto and goat cheese sauce. It was so good I
wanted to take a bath in it. For desert I had 2 fried dough with a
mint chocolate filling rolled in cinnamon sugar and served over a
fruit salsa and with points of pistachio paste. This was by far the
winner of the meal.

Now off to an ice bar for hot chocholate and bailys before the big
celebration in the center.

Quebec City - The Pedant on Yesterday and Patisseries

Yesterday we saw the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham, which were
important in the Seven Years' War (aka the French and Indian War) and
were fun to hike but their educational value was somewhat obscured by
three feet of soft-packed snow in which a foolish hiker might sink
into and get snow in his boot, prompting the Sherbs to remind him that
she had warned of this very occurrence just moments earlier.

Venturing outside the old city's walls, we spent some quality time at
the Chocolate Museum Erico on Rue St-Jean-Baptiste, which not only has
the tasty exotic chocolates described yesterday, but as we found out
today, dark hot chocolate up to 75% cocoa. The eponymous blend, 70%
chocolate, is very good without being too bitter.

Also yesterday, we saw the Museum of Civilization, which is as
advertised. We took a guided tour of the "Dragons: Fact and Fiction"
exhibit, which as a Canadian adaptation of a French exhibit did not
mention Trogdor among American dragon legends but did have an
exceptional amount of D&D-looking work by a local artist. There was
also an exhibit on Herge's Tintin and the research Herge did to write
his comics about Tintin in Peru.

Dinner yesterday was at Aux Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant in a 17th
century house. My meal was:

1) Wild game pate with caramelized carrots. This was a meaty but mild
pate of all the best unmentionable parts of animals. It was paired
with a sort of sweet carrot relish, which was a good complement.

2) Tomato and zucchini soup. A savory tomato broth with rice and small
chunks of zucchini. The Sherbs and I shared a tureen of this and I was
glad I could have seconds.

3) "Three Tenderloins" special. Stag, bison, and caribou medallions in
a pink pepper cream sauce reminiscent of the meatball gravy at Ikea.
Delicious sides of wild rice, caramelized beets, and puréed squash. Of
the meats, I liked the stag the best, it had a "beefier than beef"
taste and wasn't tougher than beef like the others.

4) Maple pie. I try to eat the food on a nation's flag, a rule that
stands for all countries save Mexico, Lesotho, Bhutan, and the State
of California. This was maple sugar made into a caramel pie filling,
served in a crust that had at least a stick of butter in it and topped
with creme fraische. Who can complain?

We hit two little patisserie/cafes today; one had a sort of French
bread pizza with blue cheese topping. It was smelly cheese-tastic.

Now I'm relaxing in my new heavyweight Roots button-down sweatshirt
before our pre-New Years' dinner. We're seeing the show in the Place
D'Youville, just outside the city walls. It looks to be a fabulous
spectacle; I'll blog about it tomorrow.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Quebec City - Joint Post

We had a horrific meal at La Chance, on the stairs into Petit
Champlain. The Pedant did, anyway, an hour into the lack of meal all
The Sherbs had was soup and the news that her food had been burnt (so
had The Pedant's, but apparently edibly so according to the chef). So
we won't blog about that. Instead, we will provide a report on the
chocolates from Erico we ate to salve our discontent:

1) Pink Pepper: as advertised, it had a ganache with ground
peppercorn. We both found it tasty, but The Sherbs established first
that the peppercorn gave it a vegetal essence that did not mesh well
with sweet ganache.

2) Praline: or, more accurately, pecan in gooey caramel. Heavenly.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quebec City - The Pedant's Experience, Day 1

This narrative will be slightly duplicative of The Sherbs's, but
hopefully in a Rashomon sort of way where the different perspectives
combine to form a more complete narrative.


1) La Nouvelle France - a cute bistro that is evidently sending,
unbeknownst to the management, telepathic calls to all Japanese
tourists in the region as the restaurant was full of them and the
proprietors were a little confused by the resulting ideosyncratic

The meal was sort of a Venn diagram of meat, cheese, and French bread.
Both The Sherbs and I ordered the "trio du bistro" (if I've gotten the
French wrong, it's because a certain member of my family likes to make
fake French words like "foe du souf" for the ALREADY French word
"soufflé."), which was garlic bread, French onion soup, and Caesar
salad. We shared a poutine, which is the way French Canadians make
cheese fries so they can call it a point of national pride instead of
just another competitor for Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins, &
Dives." The garlic bread was the same bread as the table bread and the
croûton in the French Onion soup, the cheese in the soup was the same
as in the poutine, and, because I must tie everything together in
threes, the poutine's brown gravy was meaty, sort of like the soup but
not really.

Salad was fair; the dressing was nothing to write home about but the
lettuce was tasty (why can't we get tasty lettuce on a regular basis
in the US instead of celery's less crisp cousin?). The soup was good;
despite not having Gruyere, the broth was just beefy enough and not
too salty, a common failing of French onion soup.

Poutine will kill you. But it is awesome.

2) "Beaver Tail" with maple butter - the Sherbs and I shared one of
these bread confections at a little stand behind the Chateau
Frontenac, near an outdoor vendor who was pouring hot taffy onto snow.
You cannot go wrong with maple butter, and even better, the wheaty but
not sweet beaver tail acted as a superb vehicle for the mapley

3) La Vendome - we were lured into this restaurant by the prospect of
live jazz, and while many of the pieces played had their origins in
more staid Gershwin numbers, they were performed jazzily and with

Dinner was fabulous. I had the prix fixe:

A) duck terrine. I love me some charcuterie, and duck besides. But
this went from sure thing to being knocked out of the park by the
accompanying vegetables - caramelized carrots, onions, and beets,
along with fresh olives and endive, that provided premium
accompaniment to the pate.

B) lobster bisque. Almost painfully lobstery, in my opinion; I was
hoping more for a creamier, possibly tomatoier soup. Well done, but
not my cup of tea.

C) beef with red onions. Delicious. A perfectly cooked rare steak
(and, like a good French restaurant, they try to shame you into
getting your steak rare - the only doneness where you can really taste
the meat) covered in tasty, tasty caramelized red onions, which I
believe were cooked in some sort of red wine. Served with frites, of

D) mint chocolate mousse cake. Mousse was good; cakey part only fair.

Tomorrow, we shall visit at least one patisserie. And maybe that
confectioner with the molded sugar figurines.

Quebec City - Sherbs Report

So here we are in Quebec City. So far, lots of fun and a good
vacation. It is cold but nice. There as an AM snow storm almost
prevented us from departing this morning but luckily it
just left the city in a new layer of snow for us to enjoy.

First thing on our agenda: explore old city and lament the fact that I
didn't buy snow shoes. (for the record I used to have the best snow
boots but I took them on an archaeological dig and dirtied them a bit.
But thanks to global warming I haven't really needed them. I did
hope to get them yesterday but they only had grotesquely ugly ones
and while I expected cold I forgot about snow.) So after a pre lunch
pastery with maple butter (amazing) and some pretty pictures the
pedant and I bought me snow shoes and had a lively lunch of french
onion soup salad and pouttine (gravy and cheese french fries that are
oh so tasty). Then we had a nap in our super cute historic inn and
took a nice long walk. The city is very pretty and wintery.

We found a cute touristy restaurant and had very tasty food. I got a
cream of vegtable soup veggie pallea and a tasty chocolate cake to
end. Best part was when we picked a wine and the server brought the
bottles for us to pick which one we wanted. Tres cool. Second best
part: not being the drunk couple two tables down who sent everything
back and danced in the middle of the place (granted there was live
music but still...).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Their Plane Took Off From DCA...

iPod touch is synched up (thanks to Costco for slightly discounted iTunes giftcards so I could get Primitive Radio Gods' one hit wonder, referenced above, as well as the Chemical Brothers' "Get Yourself High," which I'm listening to now) and we're off to the airport early early tomorrow morning to go to the chilly French-speaking northlands. Sadly, despite reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, I do not expect to find armored bears who speak in the voice of Sir Ian McKellen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bacon-laced Film Review

First things first - this man makes his bacon-burger (with cheese and extra bacon, not to mention bacon-infused mustard) all wrong. He should add an egg and possibly breadcrumbs to the bacon patty to bind it together; that's why he's getting bacon hash. Also, if he used a George Foreman grill, he'd probably be able to make a thicker patty while still sufficiently cooking the inside (it goes without saying that the author likely does not have access to a salamander).

Next, I will briefly review the movies I saw over the Christmas break:

SUPERBAD: Michael Cera and Jonah Hill have great "odd couple" chemistry. They and Christopher Mintz-Platz could be in basically any movie and I would see it. Even an Olsen Twins film...although I hesitate to think what the plot of that would be.

JUNO: Michael Cera is on his way to being typecast. As is Jason Bateman, playing the same part as in Smoking Aces but without the herpes sores (at least he doesn't play Michael Cera's dad again). Regardless, this is a beautiful film about tough choices and how the leader of the white supremacist gang in Oz makes a good father.

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR: If you can understand how a political deal is structured merely by hearing that someone is a member of a certain Congressional committee, Aaron Sorkin's charming political film is for you. I was hoping to learn some real political skills from this film, but all I gathered was that Rep. Wilson was in the right place at the right time, and was brilliant despite drinking all the time. Still, Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the show as a cantankerous spy.

MEAN GIRLS: Fun and smart, but a little too didactic for me. Cruel Intentions, which had less of a real-world dynamic but was based on a fabulous piece of French literature, was more viscerally satisfying, but Tina Fey seemed not to want to really push anyone in front of a bus; instead everything works out for the best for all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


As the cheerful receptionist at the pest control people warned, the bugs are back. Not as many visible this time, except for last night when I found some examples on me. Out came my portable chemical arsenal. We haven't seen any since.

Before the holiday and the recurrence of our bloodsucking nemeses, we made many tasty soups. Actually, the Sherbs made many tasty soups, with my input being limited to menu selection and ingredient procurement. We (she) remade one of our old favorites, the beer and cheese soup, which is a soup that (as my father says) is better the next day. Also when you disregard what the low-fat cookbook says and sautée the vegetables in butter as opposed to just trying to make a weak vegetable stock with them. The beer choice is critical, though - a more bitter beer will leave the soup bitter.

Also made was another old favorite - the One Pot Cookbook's parsnip soup. Parsnip is a good major flavor - better than potato. It was a good soup, too.

Of both soups, we have plenty frozen up, so I don't expect we'll need to cook too too much over the next week. We're entertaining tomorrow night (hopefully they'll drink some of the wine!) and we're not eating the frozen soup then. Instead, it'll be something with udon.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Quick post, since I've had a wine-soaked day. I agree with The Pedant's assessments of the wineries and the wines. We will probably head back to Gray Ghost for their Valentine's day Chocolate and Red Wine festival (we did that last year and it was soooo gooooood), but that's yet to be decided. Many tasty wines were had by all.

And, my younger sister beat TP in scrabble. Go Sister!

My Christmas Dinner

It had little to do with Christmas, as I don't celebrate the holiday (although I don't get all up in people's face about it, like some people - if your religion hasn't been stolen wholesale by at least two major religions who turned around and persecuted you for it - not to mention try to shoehorn your minor holidays into their rubric - the fact that Christmas coincides with major Roman and ancient European animistic festivals entitles you to no more than anthropological conversation. You may not complain), but it was tasty. The menu:

APPETIZER: Store-bought port wine cheese ball and store-bought crostini. Wine.

MAIN COURSE: Whole wheat pasta in a low-fat sauce made from "chicken" broth, ricotta cheese, walnuts, and crumbled gorgonzola. Caesar salad. Wine.

DESSERT: Fat-free, sugar-free JELL-O® butterscotch pudding in a graham cracker pie crust. Fat free Reddi-Whip. Silk soy "nog," which is more like eggnog-flavored milk, but if you don't like the heaviness of regular eggnog, I highly recommend it.

Virginia is for Wine Lovers

Today I, the Sherbs, and a close relation visited some of Virginia's wineries. We went out to Amissville, Virginia (due to fiat by the Sherbs, I am not allowed to say "there's something awry in Amissville" every time we pass through, just as I am not allowed to make variations on "the glory that is Rome" since we saw the HBO series Rome, and how I am not allowed to refer to myself as "McLovin'" for reasons that I assume are obvious), and worked our way through three wineries.

The first was the Gray Ghost Vineyards, the largest winery building of all the ones we went to. They have a fabulous structure to sell wines in and they do not scare off committed Northerners such as the Sherbs by keeping the Confederate guerrilla raider memorabilia to a subtle minimum (they do have an object that purports to be his saddle somewhere on the premises). The wine was tasty, but a little pricier than we'd hoped for - we left with one bottle of a nice table wine.

Next on the list was the Unicorn Winery, a winery started by a Californian and run by a Long Islander that just happens to be in Virginia (you get that vibe on the way in because, well, the unicorn on the logo seems a little fae, which is not the usual feeling one gets for logos from Rappahanock County - see Col. Mosby above). Regardless, the vineyard is a multiple award winner whose wines are served in the fabulously expensive Inn at Little Washington.

At Unicorn, the tasting is of a long list of wines, and they are generous with the free cheese, chocolate, and crackers - we would have bought more of the cheese, but we are dangerous around soft cheeses; we bought some at the Teet for dinner tonight but I am sure we will be sorry because we will eat too much with it. We bought one bottle of a classy table red, and two bottles of a sweet blush they call "Slightly Embarrassed" for a party.

After lunch, we went on to Pearmund Cellars, a winery I like to call "the clutching hand" due to its quasi-martial logo (just put your hand in the same position as the one on the logo, and say "the clutching hand" in your best Ming the Merciless voice, and you'll see the appeal), which was about to close because no one had shown up. Fortunately, the people working there were generous enough to keep it open for a tasting, which was very nice as we were able to chat with the vintner's representative one-on-one. Last time I was at the Clutching Hand, it was a madhouse (it's one of Virginia's most popular wineries) and it wasn't as much fun. We left with two wines based on the viognier grape; one white table wine which, after left open for ten minutes, was fabulous, and one dessert wine which was pretty darned incredible. They also make a sweet wine called "Vin del Sol," where the Clutching Hand logo is made to grasp an entire sun, Galactus-style, but it was too pricy for our wine-buying tour.

Now we have a lot of wine, and we need to have a dinner party to get rid of it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Am Mobile!

If you can read this, it means that I can post from
our new iPod touch. Expect more of these when we're on the road.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I am just like General MacArthur

As promised, we have returned. Massive amounts of environmental toxins have been sprayed into the corners of our apartment, and even though the Sherbs and I still see the isolated pest, we still have more spray, and our courage.

Anyway, about food, because that's more fun. Mostly from my archives, due to the bug issue.

1) Bartenders love to treif up drinks with bacon fat. Note to readers: does not go well with Dr. Pepper.

2) Make pizza in your Dutch oven! If you're Jewish, you can omit the bacon, unlike Rachael Ray, who gets mad cash from the American Applewood Smoked Bacon Producers Association.

3) Hell's Kitchen - the video game! I am so sorry that I always miss this show on TV.

4) Wikipedia: it's what's for dinner.

More as we settle back into our routine and have more bug destruction.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Posting may be halted for a few days - The Pedant and I are not eating but rather the tables have turned and we are being eaten by bed bugs. Oh! The irony! I guess our good taste in food has given them the opportunity to feast on our tasty, tasty blood. Regular posting will resume when we kick some tiny bug ass.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another Quick Comment From the Link Archive

A man who clearly watches what he eats is grossed out by his 5x magnification of the fat blobs in processed meats. Clearly he does not share the Men's Vogue editors' appreciation for a fine slice of American mortadella, with its visible-to-the-naked-eye chunks of fat. The Men's Vogue article is also notable for name-checking Chris Cosentino, who was a competitor on The Next Iron Chef and is evidently making his own mortadella now.

The closest the Sherbs and I get to The Next Iron Chef is that we live close to the restaurant of Morou Ouattara, who was eliminated early for doing the exact same plating every time.

A Worthless Nothing of a Post

I found this fake cookbook cover at the juvenile news-aggregator Fark. My suggestion is that you click on the former link, and see the really awesome thing, and not on the latter, which shows all the has-beens and 14-year-old humor.

Going Through the Archives

I'm a big fan of Google Reader, but one of the big problems with having all the useful features of RSS aggregation is that, if I want to comment about something, instead of merely sharing the LOLcat or missive from America's Beef Producers in the little widget box on the right, I have to "star" it and remember to look into my "starred items" folder later.

Which I don't do often enough.

Anyway, this will be the first in hopefully a series of posts where I clear out all the stuff I've been telling myself I'd blog about but haven't really.

I am Jewish, therefore I blog about latkes. Haven't eaten any this season, because everyone around me is afraid of the demon fat and will not fry.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Whole Ki of What?

The Sherbs and I were on Chinablock last night with one of my relations, and we learned that when it comes to Chinese, accept no half measures. You want the Full Kee.

It's not as cheap as some Chinese places, but that's because each dish easily serves three. And it's very tasty. They do a lot of fish, much to the Sherbs's chagrin, but there were vegetables as well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Angus Meat and Old Malt

I and two other bloggers (their blogs may be found here and here) went to a local promotional event for Macallan scotch whisky. I had previously gone to a promotional event for Johnny Walker Black in New York City, where a Johnny Walker representative gave us several of the component scotches in Johnny Walker Black and then asked us to try the end product. My takeaway? Forty ugly, disgusting, or plain old flavorless scotches make one tolerable blended malt.

Me? I generally drink the Balvenie Doublewood 12, which is a smooth, complex scotch which is also not ruinously expensive per bottle. My good friend and blogger Emily2 loves the Lagavulin, which is peatier, if I remember.

Anyway, the event began with everyone getting some hors d'oeurves (little veal cutlets with blue cheese foam for dipping, cheeseburgers with caramelized onions, mushroom puffs, little pizza roll-like things with nacho cheese inside) and some Macallan Fine Oak 10, which tastes like something you'd get if you really like Dewar's but want a classier label. Maybe there was too much ice in mine, but it wasn't great.

That was the last mediocre scotch, though. We tried a succession of scotches, each with a video clip to show us how long ago the scotch was laid down. 2007 is a bad year for memories, but at least they showed us clips of the first Gulf War, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the OJ trial, and not reminded those of us under thirty of the awkwardness of our teen years.

The first scotch was the Fine Oak 15. A strong but smooth scotch, it's similar to the Balvenie. The second scotch was the Fine Oak 17, which was like a light caramel mixed with a hard scotch. I liked it a lot.

Then there were the spanish oak scotches. The 12 tasted a lot like sherry, and it's aged in sherry casks, and the 18 just tasted darned awesome. If I had $200 to blow on scotch, it's a contender.

The $300/bottle Macallan 25 was not to be seen. But no matter, I got a free glass and sample of Macallan 12 out of the whole affair. Score for me!

Bone To Pick

I have a bone to pick with Chick Lit (OK, OK, it's not about food, but it's my blog so who cares!). I just finished reading The Favored Child (2nd in the Wideacre trilogy) by Philippa Gregory. My goodness did that suck! I picked it up from the library (totally not worth $10.88!) thinking "Huh! I, and the rest of America, enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl, and my sister enjoyed The Queen's Fool, and it's here, why not." Oh, Sherbs, bad, bad choice. First of all, the plot was stupid. The main characters were all just stupid, the climax was stupid (and predictable to a degree), the love interest was a wimp, and the writing was fair. Sure, I knew this coming into it - TOBG was well researched and a gripping historical tale but the writing would have gotten a B/B-. I mean, in the case of TFC, at least have a moderately happy ending not one that makes you go "What? I just read 614 pages for that?!" In the movie The Pedant and I saw last night at least they acknowledged you needed a happy ending.

Now, I understand there is not great chick lit out there (exception: my love, Jennifer Weiner). America is full of dumb people with adequate tastes and a desire to read books on the beach. I guess I want some meat in my stories. And some quality writing, not something a 14 year old could scratch out on Hello Kitty notebook paper. Candice Bushnell is terrible, Jane Greene writes about skinny girls finding love and thinking size 10 is fat, Lauren Weisaberger and the Team of Emma Kraus and Nicola McLaughlin write about angry bosses and dooormat protagonists just trying to make it big.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Times, Responses, and Other Excuses to Change the Subject

To play off the Sherbs's previous post: yes, Ikea in Woodbridge, VA has at its restaurant a meal special which pairs fifteen Swedish meatballs in cream sauce with a healthy portion of macaroni and cheese for $5.49. There is also the small dollop of lingonberry sauce (I originally thought it was cranberry, but no - it has to be Swedish, and it has to look like salmon roe) that suffices as the concession to the existence of vegetables in the meal. The Swedish meatballs are in a gravy that Ikea calls "cream sauce." It is delicious. It is food that will kill you.

Today we went to Mai Thai in DC, as the Sherbs had to work late and I believe that eating at Mai Thai gives me a trifecta on credit card points and various other loyalty reward programs. We each had our own soups, which were tasty, but it seems that everything but the tom ka soup uses the tom yam soup base with extra stuff in it. If you love spicy lemongrass soup, you'll love these.

A parenthetical before I continue with the main dishes - the Sherbs and I had a conversation just now about the fact that it was nigh-impossible to find the Thai soups I am blogging about using the Food Network recipe extension for Firefox. Looking on Food Network's programming, there's basically no non-white ethnic food on the channel. Ever. And excessively Caucasian food hosts like Paula "smear it with lard" Deen and Sandra "You Can Make Angel Food Cake Hawaiian by Adding Runts Candy" Lee get tons of airtime. Make no bones about it, I watch a lot of Food Network - but are they racist?

Getting back to our Thai dinner, the Sherbs and I shared a salad and an entree. The salad was made of shredded mango and chopped red onion in a dressing that tasted like lime juice, cane juice, and cilantro. Little bits of toasted coconut were added for texture. Once we get the mandoline blade sharp enough, we are going to try to make it ourselves.

The entree was drunken noodles with tofu. I don't know how authentic the spicy candied version of drunken noodles is, but it's tasty - how could pan frying chow fun noodles not be? We ate every last molecule of it.

Sunday = Food Day!

Sunday was filled with tasty, tasty food.

First, my grandfather and sort-of-grandmother came for a visit - well sort of. They were about an hour away and wanted to see our new "crib" and take us to lunch. (Apparently, a football game was being played which diminished our hanging out time, oh well.) We went for lunch at a local place, Bebo Trattoria, which has some sort of famous chef. The Pedant and I pass by it every so often and think, "Hm, this might be a really fancy place if it wasn't so 'hip' and casual inside, since the prices are the kind that you wait for a relative to take you to dinner." Regardless, they had a nice lunch menu and we all got pizzas or calzones and shared a few salads. It was tasty. TP had a calzone with assortments of meats, I had one with lots of garlic and onions, GP had one with anchovies (?! gross!!), and SOG had the calzone with cheeses and olives. We all enjoyed.

After a quick trip to Costco (because the only person in the world who likes Costco more than me and TP is my grandfather), we parted ways and TP and I went to Ikea to buy furniture (coming this weekend! Yay! Now we have a fancy TV (thanks GP!) and will have new couches! and soon: CABLE!!! And Food Network!!) and TP had a snack of cheap Swedish Meatballs. I ate a salad, and sang the Swedish Chef song from the Muppets.

The Chili experiment was for dinner and was quite good. It probably only needed 8-12 hours to really get good: towards the end it got a bit burned and the corn went from lovely yellow to mellow yellow. Yet, it worked perfectly and the apartment smelled like chili for the next 24 hours.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Book Recommendations, Etc.

I have just recently acquired a copy of James Lileks's Gastroanomalies, the sequel to his modern classic The Gallery of Regrettable Food, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is hilarious.

I do not just say that so that Lileks's lifestyle, which is that of a stay-at-home dad who makes extra cash by posting funny things on the internet, is still available for me in twenty years. Lileks's witty mockery of bad food concepts of yesteryear (although, I must confess, I am tempted in an inexplicable way to want to try the corned beef in beef-flavored gelatin) is as good as it ever was (unlike, say, Toby Keith).

Currently, the Sherbs and I are trying a Grand Chili Experiment in the slow cooker. We put in corn, beans, two cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, a small can of mild chili peppers, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, half of a large onion, one whole bell pepper, and a whole mess o' TVP. We set the slow cooker on "forever" last night, and we'll see, come dinnertime, how it all turns out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I can't think of a punny title with garlic and spices after going to the gym at 6:30

Last night for dinner The Pedant and I enjoyed a pasta primevera concoction (and will continue to enjoy it this weekend) and had stuffed zucchini from the vegetarian slow cooker cook book. They were quite tasty (and I will enjoy them for lunch today!) but it lead TP and I to discuss that this cookbook, although quite tasty, should be renamed "The Moderately Spiced Vegetarian Slow Cooker Book." Each recipe is delish but often is just lacking in spices. And, we even add way more than necessary. For instance, for a recipe that serves 4, the zucchini stuffing called for one clove garlic minced. Now, I ask you, is it 4 vampires? 4 people worried about bad breath? 1 clove of garlic is NOTHING. I added 4 cloves of garlic and it still wasn't garlic-y enough. (Ed. Note: The recipe was called "Zucchini Stuffed with White Beans and Pesto" and we kinda overlooked that when it called for fresh basil and fresh parsley and just used dried. But still, dried herbs are usually more potent than fresh herbs...and this isn't the first time.) So, we may just make emendations to this cookbook, always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I've been on the quiet side - mostly because I don't get as much web time at work (but it's super quiet now) and I've been too tired to post in the evenings.

Food wise, The Pedant has done a good job explaining all my sentiments. We went back to a local Chinese place this weekend and found out that, so far, it's been consistently fair. Granted, it's been 2 times in total, but that's enough. Their cold noodles and sesame sauce was interesting - spicy (good) but "soupy" (bad).

I've been reclaiming my love for sweet potatoes. They were on sale at the supermarket this week and for lupper (I'm working the late shift tonight) I had one with apricot jelly and honey. In college, I ate them often (Harley's suggestion). I will use the other two for sweet potato "fries" for dinner this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Onions in the Slow Cooker

Updating today to tell you about my attempt to create stuffed onions in the slow cooker. The recipe called for hollowing out onions (a process that made the kitchen seem like riot suppression had gone on in there) and filling them with chopped onion, shiitake mushrooms, and breadcrumbs mixed with a variety of Asian sauces, then left to cook in sauce diluted in water.

It was edible, but odd, probably because the recipe called for the use of hoison sauce in too many places. I think using Soy Vay Teriyaki instead would provide a less cloying flavor. Also, chili paste should be added to the stuffing; that would give the dish a little more flavor.

The Sherbs made a lovely and tasty spinach egg drop soup; that we're making again, with little to no variation (maybe some tofu and a few more veggies).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stuffed to the Gills

I have eaten. Probably too much.

Let me not recall the gastronomic excess of today - it would be familiar to most celebrants of the holiday, except for a selection of wheaty Belgian beers and some espresso vodka - and go to a happier time, two days or so ago, when the Sherbs and I made a vegetable bread pudding in the slow cooker.

It was very tasty; basically it was soaking bread in pureed white beans, then slow cooking them. How could that be bad?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I forgot to post yesterday about the best article I found in this month's Men's Vogue (yes, I am a subscriber) - how older Spanish oxen make tasty, tasty beef. Made me hungry all the way through.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Foods I Should Not Eat

Men's Health (typical article: "better abs for better sex") has an article on the twenty worst restaurant foods in America. I have eaten far too many of them, or equivalents at other restaurants.

While I'll always be a fan of the Amish vanilla pie (basically a pile of sugar in a pie, like a pecan pie without the pecans), this nutmeg-maple cream pie sounds decadently delicious.

As I am having Thanksgiving with House Sherbs, there will definitely be more ice cream than one could possibly stand. That'll be a bonus.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Chinese

Yesterday the Sherbs and I went out with my parents to Canton Cafe, which my father calls the "Chinese Frog Restaurant" for its penchant for serving a multitude of frog dishes, and my friend Isu-kun calls the "barbecue pork place" for his (and Al's) penchant for purchasing pounds of barbecued pork there.

"Oh look, frog congee," was the first thing my father said on being handed the menu.

We did not have that. While it was dim sum time at the restaurant, most of the diners in our party were not interested in experimenting with dim sum, so we only got some char siu bao and taro cakes, plus some desserts with sesame paste and red bean paste. For our main dishes, we got Hunan beef, eggplant in garlic sauce, and fried tofu and vegetables cooked in Chinese casserole style. Very tasty.

Sherbs and Pedant Have Foolishly Allowed Me Access to Their Blog


Actually, despite the anonymous display name I'm the Pedant's sister, and almost as fond as he of trying new foods.

This weekend was my first foray into slow-cooked meat. I am not a huge fan of cholent, so instead I made Boston Baked Beans with Brisket. I made it in the oven (in a pot, although I would really have preferred to use stoneware. Sadly I could not find a 6qt baking dish that wasn't le creuset, and accordingly, $3 million), which I prefer to a slow cooker, as I don't trust slow cookers. If they turn off in the middle of the night, you, and your 8 guests are screwed.

Being my first foray, I also made chicken schnitzel (baked not fried) which was pretty good, as I made the bread crumb spice mixture myself (matzoh meal, rosemary, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and basil).

The Brisket recipe is as follows (courtesy of Joan Nathan and my mom):
1 lb navy or kidney beans
3 lbs brisket of beef (I used 2, as they were only selling in multiples of 2, and 4 sounded like overkill)
1 sliced onion
1 tbs mustard
1 tbs salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups boiling water to cover (I found this insufficient. If you are making this Shabbat-style, I'd use 4 cups, at least)

1. wash, pick over beans, put in a bowl, cover with cold water, soak overnight
2. drain beans, cook (slowly) in a saucepan, covered in water, for about 30 mins, or when the skins burst
3. drain beans, put in a 6-qt casserole with lid. Add brisket of beef and onion. (She doesn't say to mix it all up, but you probably should)
4. Mix up everything else and pour it on top.
5. Add 2 cups boiling water, or enough to cover-- if you are only cooking for 8-10 hours, if you are cooking it overnight, then add 4 cups.
6. Place into preheated 225 degree oven.
7. Leave alone.

I also added some eggs (wash the shell and then just toss them in there) because I love slow-cooked eggs. They are pretty good, and if you don't like them, you don't have to touch them. It was pretty darn good, especially with fresh baked challah.

Since I was feeling adventurous this weekend I also made broccoli, potato and goat cheese soup. It started with a trip to the farmers' market (which I adore) where I bought 1 lb broccoli, 1.5 lbs butter golden potatoes, some Brussels sprouts (for roasting, not for this recipe) and a cup of hot apple cider, which was pretty much awesome.

I made the broccoli soup by browning some garlic in oil (in the bottom of my 3qt pot), tossing in the cut up broccoli and sauteing briefly. Then I covered it with water, and used the immersion blender until it was pretty smooth. I added peeled, cut chunks of potato, salt, pepper, and a little mushroom soup mix, and left it to cook, covered. When the potatoes were almost done I blended them with the immersion blender. I served it hot with a dollop of goat cheese tossed in. It was sooo good, and actually not bad for you at all. I suggest it as an easy first course for winter.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Immature Snickering Will Live Forever!

Two big announcements:

1)  I am blogging this from the Sherbs and my new iMac!  Fear its mighty 20" screen and being far cheaper than the equivalent Vaio we looked at!  

I did not yet get an iTouch, but I likely shall, because the name is mildly dirty and every time someone buys an Apple musical device, Steve Jobs gets his wings.  He's like some sort of über seraph now.  

2) We saw Beowulf in 3D tonight, which was not exactly worth the extra for the 3D experience; getting a sword pointing right at your nose three times is not really "3D."  Neil Gaiman saved the story so the movie was not super-stupid; instead, it was mildly better than the Thirteenth Warrior.

Having previously seen a painfully not-campy production called Beowulf: The Rock Musical, the refrain of which has Beowulf singing, "my song shall live forever," the Sherbs and I could not help but snicker childishly in this movie every time someone told Beowulf how long his song would last.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Job, New Foods

My lack of blogging is relatively unacceptable, although I did begin a new job this week (yay) and have less time to access personal Internet during the day (so this is what the real world looks like...).

the job is fun and the people are fun and the cafeteria has cookies. I passed them over for a new obsession: trail mix corner. Basically there are Ziploc bags, and for about $.30/ounce you can gt your choice of: yogurt pretzels, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered peanuts, Japanese trail mix, American trail mix, and one more I can't remember. This plus our candy drawer might just be my down fall. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Open, Balcony!

Our apartment balcony was officially open as of noon yesterday, so the Sherbs and I went out with some demi-sec champagne and some Splenda oatmeal cookies to celebrate. It is surprising how well Splenda cookies go with champagne.

At any rate, our balcony is huge and awesome. When the weather is tolerable, it kicks much butt.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Assorted Yucks

According to the blog Slashfood, Paula Deen advocates sandwiching industrial canned cranberry sauce around a mix of hot sauce, mayonnaise, and cream cheese. Paula Deen has officially one-upped all who would parody her cooking as fried butter in lard.

Went to a Lebanese restaurant last night; the Sherbs and I thought it was nice, but one of us got sick afterwards, so there won't be a review from me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Little More Regarding The Next Iron Chef

In part because you don't really want to hear my thoughts on Win a Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, except that Ms. Tequila seems to dress anticipating the need for an emergency application of Vicks VapoRub to her sternum. Since she lives in the sunny part of the West Coast, I find this dress code odd.

As for the Next Iron Chef, while others have thought the challenges were America's Top Chef lite, I actually found the competition better than Top Chef. For one thing, we weren't treated to endless and irritating scenes of the competitors having to live together in some dorm. In fact, all the competitors, even in the challenge where they were instructed to screw each other over, were relatively collegial. The "atmosphere of hug" was refreshing.

Also, I thought the challenges were better-tailored to actual Iron Chef-ing; think fast, deal with the wacky situation and various food failures, and nobody steps in mid-way and changes the rules (a stupid tension-increaser used all too often on Top Chef). My favorites were the "resourcefulness" challenge, where the competitors had to cook two dishes in an hour on a cheap barbecue grill using mostly random items chosen for them by another competitor, and the challenge of assembling airline food.

My only gripe is that, despite the Chairman unsheathing a katana and playing with it during the opening and commercial breaks, we really didn't get to see him do anything cool beyond that. If you're going to have a martial arts star around, you should use him.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Food, Cookies, Dogs...Oh My!

OK, so I did promise The Pedant I'd blog, but my computer is very, very sick and TP's computer doesn't like me, but luckily I live in a fancy schmancy building with an internet cafe.

So, food wise, I will contribute information about the fantastic dinner TP and I had Sudnay night:

Raosted Garlic Bread
Cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Havarti)
Green Apple

It was amazing, although today my stumach is telling me "no more lactose! Stop it!! I want a break!"

Also, part of the amazingness was that we dined in the middle of The Next Iron Chef Marathon, culminating in the win of my favorite, Michael Symon. Very happy. Also, I finally got to see the DeLaurentiis/Ray battle, further proving I love Rachel Ray.

In non-food news, I volunteered this weekend with BREW and got to play with the world's second sweetest beagle, Prince (last one on the page). He was a cutie. I also was dog sitting in DC which was fun for a dog lover like me.

Food news: Jello 60 Calorie Pudding Cups, Chocolate Mint Fudge (or something), fairly tastey, but not quite minty enough.

Tomorrow I begin a new job with a cafeteria. I'll see if they have cookies.

Eat Next

There will be many posts today, as the Sherbs and I had a heck of a weekend with many bloggable activities. But this post will be about the Chinese restaurant we went to yesterday.

We went to Eat First in DC's "China block" for lunch; we picked the name because we were hungry in advance of our journey to the National Geographic Museum and therefore agreed with the sign's audacious call to food. The dishes varied from "meh" to "pretty good"; we had:

1) Cold Sesame Noodles - sadly, these were "lukewarm udon in sesame-Jif sauce." This is pretty common at Chinese restaurants (moreso outside New York). The sauce was far too peanut-buttery, and while it's hard to hate Jif, it's not exactly what we call Asian.

2) Sauteed Lotus Root with Preserved Pork - An awesome dish; my favorite of the meal and a strong showing of food in general. While I like nearly every edible part of the lotus plant, my favorite is the crispy lotus root, which is also quite attractive when sliced, making plating easier.

In this dish, lotus root, straw mushrooms, carrot, celery, and sliced preserved pork, all stir-fried. Had a delicious smoky taste; would order again.

3) General Tso's Tofu - one of the best "General Tso's" sauces we've had in a while; this one actually had spice to it. The tofu wasn't too breaded, so it was less heavy (and hopefully heavier) than many other renditions of the dish.

It was a good meal, and so Eat First should be on your list of acceptable (although not ridiculously cheap) China Block restaurants.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Alternate Future Evil Twin Time!

The Sherbs and I, taking advantage of Netflix, watched two movies last night, which together I call "Queequilibrium." We watched one because Helen Mirren won an Oscar for it; the other because it's one of America's Favorite Neuroscientist's favorite movies, plus it has Christian bale, the Sherbs's longtime love from Little Women.

One was a little too slow; the other was too slow, very stupid, and did not have enough fight scenes of sufficient butt-kickitude (where's Chuck Norris when you need him? Endorsing Huckabee!), so I will describe their plots as one film:

Helen Mirren plays a quasi-religious government official who feels no emotion. After a particularly traumatic incident, she learns the joy and pain of feeling, and changes the role of her office as it is understood.

Sadly, I would rather see Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II doing the "gun kata," the Equilibrium writer's lame excuse for why Christian Bale can stand in the center of a room shooting over his shoulder while surrounded by other people with guns and not get hit at all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fear the Mighty!

I thought you should know:

Despite the elections this Tuesday, the iron reign of Zurn continues unabated.

The Sherbs actually looked this up before I did; I am too capricious to follow up on these things.

All hail Zurn!

I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper, Blog a Pepper...

I haven't blogged about Dr. Pepper recently. So here's a post.

The Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas has a shiny new website.

I'd provide new drink recipes, but other than variations on the Flaming Dr. Pepper (which uses no Dr. Pepper), there aren't any popping up on my Google Alerts. I am, for some reasons, getting links that, from the URLs, appear to be of videos of men having sex with other men. I am not sure why Google thinks this is related to Dr. Pepper. "Dr. Pepper makes men gay" is a googlenope.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I did find this recipe supposedly for "cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper" which involves no cherries. Just amaretto, which is almonds and apricot pits in liquor.

The recipe also calls for vanilla extract. Who are you that you're so desperate for hooch that you have to use vanilla extract instead of one of the eight brands of vanilla vodka out there? I know a fair-sized bottle of Stoli Vanil can be had for not that much money.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fancy Food, Part 2

I agree with most of what The Pedant said about the fancy schmancy restaurant (well, it wasn't so fancy schmancy in attire and looks as it was in prices...). I did find everything to be a bit too oily, but that's because everything was sauteed/grilled/swimming in oil. But oil's good for you, yes? So it was fine.

The Ravioli was really superb, I should reiterate that.

Also, finishing up a meal with Amaretto and a chocolate crepe with nutella filling is amazing. Just superb. Yum!

The Treif You Crave

I'm sure by now you've heard of the winner of the annual White Castle recipe contest; you know, the woman who put chopped-up steamed hamburger bits in the root vegetable celebration of the victory of crazy fundamentalist Jews over assimilation-forcing Greek-wannabes. Hey, how many holidays do you have from the Apocrypha? I thought so!

Of course, the first thing I thought of was, "there's a White Castle recipe contest every year? Who knew?" And there is. According to the rules, the next deadline is July 13, 2008. The web entry form is found here. You take ten burgers and turn them into some non-burger food. Winner gets more burgers than he or she should ever eat; although, since the last time I ate at White Castle I and a couple other stupid people bought a box of 100 burgers, moderation doesn't really come into play.

Awesome Restaurant in Excruciating Detail

QueenofPink77 and I do not agree about most things on the Food Network, but we do agree about Sandra Lee's general uselessness.

But enough about that, let me tell you about the fabulous dinner the Sherbs and I had last night. We went to Cucina Vivace, which we picked out of the three Italian restaurants on the street because it was cold and I needed to use the bathroom, so we didn't want to cross the street, and the Italian restaurant next to it was a pizza place, and we were looking for classy.

And boy, did we get classy. Let me describe the food I ate, in order:

1) Crostini with white beans and anchovies. The restaurant gave these to us for free because we were clearly not just confused and stopping in for a bowl of spaghetti, we were buying into their $50+/per person ethos. The Sherbs, as she will tell you, does not eat fish, so I ate both. They were delicious. The white beans were perfectly buttery, and with just a hint of anchovy and garlic.

2) Roast bulb of garlic, covered in olive oil. Dig out a caramelized, squishy clove and enjoy. It was simple, but tasty.

3) Gnocchi in cream sauce with pancetta. The Sherbs doesn't eat meat, either, so I ate her pancetta. It is hard to make bad gnocchi in cream sauce. Cucina Vivace did well; it wasn't too heavy.

4) Sweet potato ravioli. Served with plenty of pine nuts. The Sherbs and I shared, and I thought it was fantastic; I could have had it for a main course. The potato was creamy and delicious.

5) Roast pheasant in pepper and fig relish, served with fried triangles of polenta and pureed parsnip. A little too much pepper in the fig relish, and not enough going on with the polenta, but otherwise masterfully done, and at least a four for plating. The parsnip was very tasty.

6) Bread pudding with mixed berries and creme fraiche. Delightfully eggy and not too sweet. I had it with the only dessert wine they sold by the glass, which was a mistake; I should have taken my cue from the Sherbs and had it with amaretto, which matched the heaviness of the pudding better.

It was an excellent meal, and we'll totally go again when someone else is paying for it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I guess it's kind of silly to say "UK blogs are making a fuss about rarebit," since the whole concept began in Wales, but the Guardian has a picture of a particularly cheesy example, with links both the Guardian's own rarebit and a UK foodblogger's attempt at same (with delicious pictures).

The rarebit recipe looks pretty darned tasty, especially on some brown bread. I wonder how it would go with canned brown bread, a food I have not eaten since childhood. It was awesome in its 50's-style futurism; the bread is a cylinder, because it's in a can! It lasts forever! It tastes vaguely sweet and metallic!

Also, smaller rounds mean more servings, or for use in our home tasting menu.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cereal for Lenin

I've bought some new purportedly healthy cereal: Special K with Red Berries. It's Special K, Kellogg's version of Total, with astronaut strawberries.

I call the cereal "Communism," now; it started with my being pointlessly McCarthyite and calling it "Special K with Communism," and that just got shortened to "Communism."

Freeze-dried strawberries rehydrate interestingly, so after the super-huge Costco box is expended, I may not get it again. But it's not bad; just not as good as Honey Bunches of Sugared Grain.

But, for the moment, if my breath smells like wheat and freeze-dried strawberries, I've been eating Communism.

FYI - "I've been eating Communism" was, until this blog post, a Googlenope.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Bone to Pick

I have a bone to pick with vegetable sushi. Now, I understand sushi is chic and very hip and therefore can be costly. Fine, I get it LA, you want us all to be uber thin (<begin tangential rant>I'm still ticked at the stupid body issues talk Tyra gave to her girls on America's Top Model (it was a fluke, there was nothing else on and The Pedant and I needed to digest a lot of Halloween candy pre-gym), I mean, c'mon, yes the industry is ridiculous, but as TP reminded me, Spain has set minimum weight requirement on models - Tyra, use your pull and do something not let the girls be teary eyed and then throw up their salad! <end tangential rant>) and eat bite sized portions based on Japanese fancy cuisine, but $5.85 for 8 pieces of brown rice avocado sushi?! C'Mon guys! This is VEGETABLE. And RICE. Not fish that needs to be very fresh and cut well. Ok, I did get the dish at WholePaycheck Foods, but still. I find it frustrating when VEGETABLE sushi is more than $2.00 for 6 rolls.

I may make "I have a bone to pick" a reoccurring topic when I need to rant. Like, "I have a bone to pick with slow service." Ala dinner last night. Yes, TP and I settled, mostly because I had to pee pretty badly, but still the service was veeerrryyyy slllloooowwwwwww. Pick it up a notch guys!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Novels and a French-ish Restaurant

I am participating in National Pretentions to Literature Fad Month. Here's my NaNoWriMo profile. I will not talk about my novel as I need to get it out of my head into the novel, not into the blog.

Anyway, went to a cute French restaurant in Farragut West tonight with the Sherbs. It was called Cafe Soleil, and it was fair. The French onion soup was workmanlike, but not great. It's easy to make merely okay French onion soup, and they did.

The entree, a "seared duck salad," was really a "grilled duck noodle dish, served lukewarm with a token amount of field greens," but was okay for all that. The duck was well-cooked and tasty, and the noodles were in a good sauce if you unspooled them from their little pile and let them get into the sauce at the bottom of the plate. There were too many peppercorns as garnish. I am against food garnish that you're not supposed to eat, and unless you have an appetite for pepper like Cruella DeVil from the original 101 Dalmatians novel, it's too many.

Dessert was an okay chocolate cake with a too-heavy chocolate mousse topping. Toffee saved it, despite it being on a drizzle of apple and lemon syrups that looked pretty but did not taste at all right with the dish.

All in all, not worth the $25/person as we are no longer eating in New York.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who Can Take a Sunbeam....

Now we all understand that I love candy. I have an incredibly large sweet tooth and therefore anything sweet and tasty is delish.

Today being Halloween, a holiday I care little about minus the candy (although that is part of the part I care little about), there has been much blog-space devoted to Halloween goodies, including candy corn (yum!) and developing a candy hierarchy. I've tried to do that before, and it's not easy!! This "official" hierarchy is interesting, although I may have ordered things a bit differently. Oh well, when I rule the world...

Anyway, kids will love trick-or-treating at The Pedant's and my Door: Snickers, Kit Kats and Peanut M&Ms. I picked these candies on the basis that the only one I really love is (are? since the candy is plural in name?) Kit Kats. Maybe because of their chocolaty goodness, but maybe also because they can be used to teach kids about archeology. (Similar to Ogres, Onions and Archaeological Sites, they have layers!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Beef," but real Broccoli

First things first: if you're hankering to extend your life, or even to become a Guild Navigator, Crate & Barrel is selling the spice Melange. Buy now before the Harkonnens corner the market!

Last night's dinner: a Chinese ampersand fest; hot & sour soup (from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, prepared by the Sherbs) and "beef" & broccoli (where I was lead chef, using Morningstar Farms "Steak Strips" and sauce from my memory).

The Sherbs's soup was an unmitigated success; replacing the vegetable broth with soup made from, as my mom says, "little pareve chickens" made the soup taste more along the lines of the Chinese original, which probably uses a meat broth most of the time. We could have added more chili paste and mushrooms and we would have liked it; not sure if any of our dinner guests would agree (especially with our brainstorming about black fungus).

My beef and broccoli was a little too salty; I was too liberal with the soy sauce (even though it was reduced sodium) in the marinade. Maybe I'll replace it with rice vinegar next time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

National Oatmeal Day!

Today, I ate oatmeal for breakfast. Turns out, it's National Oatmeal Day! (I learned this from, a new fun website added to my Google reader, a fantastic Google product.) I made it on the stove top since the last few times, when I did it in the microwave, it bubbled over. Milk'll do that...and then I lose half my oatmeal and I get sad.

My favorite way to make it: with milk, and then a teaspoon of splenda brown sugar mix and dash of cinnamon.

Also, this is interesting: what chefs would eat for their last meal. It's mildly depressing (after watching a marathon of bad vampire movies this weekend, I now know life can be taken over by the undead quickly) but mostly interesting.

Turns out, I missed National Chocolate Day. Guess I'll have to make up for it this hot cocoa recipe sounds super yummy. Better than the beer with chocolate undertones I had last night.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Test Prep and Food for the Hungry!

I have just been informed about, a website set up by the new NGO of that has a GRE-style, progressively harder vocabulary test. For each question you get right, the miniscule ad revenue for looking at that page pays for ten grains of rice for the UN World Food Program.

I found this on the blog. I always like to check if these things are legit, and the World Food Program has a link, so I'm convinced it's not just a chain e-mail scam dressed up as a word game.

Even if it was, though, it's a darned good game. I'm up to level 47 (of 50), have donated four 100-grain bowls of rice and I am really challenged by it; I haven't been this stumped by a word game since National Review stopped doing "William F. Buckley's Word of the Day," (note: JavaScript super-broken) with quotes from the God and Man at Yale author himself. It's also super-addictive.

Person vs. Metal

I believe I may have conquered the mandolin! It's truly a feat - you see, The Pedant and I were super excited about registering for it, and even more super exciting when assorted family bought it for us. Only problem, it didn't work well...

So, I decided to conqueror the machine. I mean, it's really only a fancy knife that can do super cool things.

And I did! (Mostly, I still think a blade needs to be sharpened.) I used it to slice the jicama for the jicama slaw. Twice! I even got some julienne pieces.

And it was fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jews and Muslims Need Not Apply, But Compressed Pig Is Universal

Thanks to Atlantic Monthly blogger Andrew Sullivan, I have learned that there is a man in California who makes world maps out of Spam.

Spam, as I'm sure you know (click on the "Spam" link at the beginning of this sentence for a truly frightening Flash animation of a wild-eyed man trying to shove a spamwich through your computer screen), is a compressed lunchmeat made of pig and some stuff with multiple syllables. My exposure to it has mostly been through residents of the Pacific Rim who eat it on rice.

Sadly, the website is like the old web chestnut without the Shatner; it's just a picture of a can of Spam. Honestly, Spam is cheap enough; couldn't the guy have purchased a can, some Reddi-Wip, and some maraschino cherries, and made his own amusing picture by "sundaefying" the can?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Make My Waf the P-Waf...

Recently, Kid Rock, the Michigan-born, Republican-voting amalgam of Tommy Lee, Toby Keith, and Eminem who began the "hick hop" craze allowing for mainstream innovators such as Cowboy Troy, got into a fight in a Waffle House resulting in a broken plate glass window, which in my book means the fight was awesome.

I assume that the window also got broken because, unlike with Under Armour, people do not ritually scream "we must protect this Waffle House!"

Waffle House, as you may know, is the chain best known for serving shredded potatoes "smothered and covered," which, despite the claims of the Bloodhound Gang, just means with cheese and onions. They in fact also sell waffles, but I have never seen anyone eat a waffle there.

Of particular note, I found via Google that an enterprising individual has posted Waffle House's "cheat sheet," the way the short order cooks mark the plates with condiments to remind themselves what goes on the plate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This state has an oaky flavor, legs, and ages very well...

As The Pedant mentioned earlier, I am in charge of recapping our winery trip Saturday. Turns out, about 30 miles outside of the fortress of democracy there is a whole wine country. Apparently, Virginia humidity (my new foe) is perfect for vintners (hopefully not like those in Isaiah 5!).

We had gone once before, but since it was a gorgeous day we ventured out again. We saw three wineries and TP stopped in a cutesy little town for a snack.

Now, I know very little about wine, other than red is served at room temperature and white is served chilled. I kind of have a desire to be a wine snob, but only cause I want to stick my nose up at people even more. The first winery was fun, even if they only had port-a-potties. We liked their peach wine and their white table wine. I enjoyed the sweet stuff a bit more than TP.

The next one, TP wanted to go to because of their legal excitement. The result, a real bathroom, and a very tastey Riesling. Delish. They did also have a dog there which was fun.

The third one sort of sucked. Not only was their wine fair, they had port-a-potties. And ex-frat boys smoking cigars. Not cool.

How Dare You Oppose the Will of Zurn!

The Sherbs will be blogging about this weekend's trips to some wineries, so I will blog only about a collateral issue: Roger Zurn.

It's election season, and in our area and the surrounding counties, that means zillions of small outdoor signs advertising one candidate or another. While coming home from the wineries, we noticed that one sign happened to be advertising for a candidate named "Roger Zurn."

He's the Republican incumbent treasurer for Loudon County, Virginia. His official campaign website is here. The Washington Post profile, with a short interview, can be found here.

Not only does he rock the 'stache old school, he has an awesome last name (his full name is H. Roger Zurn, Jr.). It sounds like the villain in a thousand bad sci-fi/fantasy films, to whit:
  • "You presume to toy with the minions of Lord Zurn?"
  • "I have dispatched General Zurn to quell the uprising."
  • "Face the wrath of Zurn!"
  • "This galaxy belongs to Zurn the Overlord, and no other."

A news article from February indicates that those who trespass on the property of Zurn may be dealt with harshly.

More politicians need to have awesome last names.

Your Unimportant Food News Update

New in the world of food:

1) Beef magazine has perhaps one of the most fascinating opening sentences in industry writing:

In the past, if you asked me which factor is the most important in determining profitability in the cow/calf sector, I would have said supply and demand.
Turns out that geopolitical considerations are more and more important in the cattle industry, leading the writer to advise:

This is the time of year when ranchers are preconditioning, weaning and preg-checking. Maybe calls to our congressman, attending state and national cattlemen meetings and donating dollars to our industry's PACs will be just as important on our planning calendars.
I know what I'm doing this season in between my preconditioning and preg-checking!

2) Molly Laas, a commentator on the Huffington Post website, says that you shouldn't eat apples when they can be turned into sweet, soothing alcohol. My response is that you need to eat a lot more apples (as opposed to drinks) before you lose gross motor control and start puking.

3) I love tomato juice. But I don't drink it around sensitive electronics. alerted me to the fact that LaGuardia Airport's security personnel are not so diligent - someone managed to spill juice on a baggage scanner, disrupting the checkpoint for hours.

Although it is interesting that this happened at LaGuardia - pretty much the only time I drink tomato juice, instead of the cheap gazpacho base that Campbell's calls "V8," is on airplanes. Why I do this, when "V8" sounds much more like Werner Von Braun's aeronautical invention, I cannot tell you.

4) Finally, Slashfood clues me in to an automatic marshmallow rotator for toasting your marshmallow in the fire.

Personally, I like to put the marshmallow directly into the fire, and watch the exterior light up like the detonation of the Genesis Device, or, more recently, the introduction for every Universal Pictures movie. A light char on the outside is tasty, and gets the interior properly melty.

Successful Meals and OK Yogurt

I love both the piña colada and coconut cream flavors of the Teet's store brand of light yogurt, but the banana cream flavor is just not as good. A ranking of the current Teet yogurt flavors, from best to "meh," I've tasted would be:
  1. Coconut Cream
  2. Piña Colada
  3. Vanilla
  4. Key Lime
  5. Peach
  6. Strawberry Cheesecake
  7. Banana Cream
Anyway, the jicama salad and the other things we prepared for the dinner party last Friday (a mushroom risotto which was all the Sherbs' doing and she carried off masterfully, and stuffed zucchini) all were quite tasty. We had a lot of leftover jicama salad, so I cooked it into fritattas the next day, with mixed results. The Sherbs was a fan; I, not so much - cooking jicama seems to cook out the sweetness, leaving it a little too much like eating warm radish.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jicama Grommit, Jicama...

Apparently, on Food Network there are 123 recipes with jicama - and one by Rachel Ray. The Pedant and I still think she used pre-chopped jicama, otherwise it would have taken longer to make a 30 minute meal.

In other (food) news - TP and I had a dinner at a local restaurant yesterday. I was in a bad mood and comforted myself with a fantastic meal (description stolen from the website):

Murali Vegetable and Goat Cheese Bake

baked layers of eggplant, roasted red bell pepper and goat cheese served over Pesto sauce

It was perfect. Although the rest of the menu was over priced (this was actually an appetizer) it was worth the trip. Mmmmm....Cheese...

Jicama . . . what the hell?

No, seriously, what is up with jicama?

The Sherbs and I foolishly decided to make a salad involving the mutant apple-radish that is jicama (it also includes beans, avocado, green pepper, and tomato). At the Teet, we got the produce guy to find us some jicama, and he gave us a huge, mutant thing weighing about five pounds that looked like a failed cross between a coconut, a turnip, and an heirloom tomato.

No, they did not have any smaller jicama available.

Turns out, only a third of the jicama was actually necessary for the salad (we only needed two cups of jicama), which is good because we did not have the machete necessary to effectively cut off more of the tough root vegetable. Then we had to peel off the stringy, leathery skin, a thankless task.

The salad, at the end of the day, is tasty. But I dare Rachael Ray to make jicama into anything in thirty minutes or less.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am not sure where I was going with this.

Blogger AppleCider5946 impugns the place of Dr. Pepper in American life:
There was a time in America when Mom[']s homemade apple pies and cakes were a treat you got to eat once in a while . . . [n]ow mass produced candies and cakes are available almost everywhere you go. Some Americans are in a quagmire stuffing themselves with donuts, Twinkies, and Ring Dings for breakfast, lunch and dinner then washing it all down with a Dr. Pepper.

As someone who may be having Diet Dr. Pepper with cup noodles (24 cups for less than $6 at Costco!) for a snack later today, I resent the implication that Dr. Pepper is on par with Twinkies, a snack food not even the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association can totally get behind.

In support of AppleCider5946's theory, however, a Google search quickly reveals that Americans obsessed with Transformers hold that "[m]y favorite recipe is to mix canned chili with Dr. Pepper and malted chocolate milk balls to make a damn fine gumbo." Given the nature of the community that was posted in, I am not clear if that was serious. But it may well be.

Sadly, a search on "Dr. Pepper brings joy to humanity" was, until I just mentioned it in this blog, a Googlenope. Also: "Jesus loves Dr. Pepper," "Dr. Pepper cures cancer," and "Dr. Pepper is an alternative fuel for the future."

However, "Dr. Pepper, the Drink of Kings" gives you this site.

Anyway, Dr. Pepper can completely be a part of a balanced diet. And for the record, sugary cereals were worse in the days of apple pies cooling on the shelves than they are now - sugar was considered a vital nutrient. Like how tobacco smoke soothed the throat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More on Cake

If you're in a dimly lit restaurant and you want to take an adequate picture of your oversized dessert using only a commercial digital camera, have an acquaintance hold up a napkin. If you are pigging out on the giant cake slice yourself, I suggest using this opportunity to chat up a person at a nearby table. Be careful, though - pictures of a birthday cake have "done damage" to the Indiana Republican Party (link courtesy of Blue Indiana).

In other news, Martha Stewart is fascinated by those who make cakes shaped like the Nintendo Wii. I don't get it, in the same way that I'm underwhelmed by all those Food Network Challenge cake contests. I want a really tasty cake that is, secondarily, aesthetically pleasing. Making the cake look like something with cardboard and dowels seems to put the wrong priority first. Can't they do something with spun sugar rods and plates to make it a more appropriate structural material?

Of course, like the author of, I now know what's going on top of my wedding cake: two anthropomorphic bovines, the cow believing that the groom's tractor is sexy. As opposed to the "holsteins making out in roses like some twisted dream sequence from a bovine version of American Beauty" that is also sold.

Cake recipes, for good or for ill

Godiva Chocolate's recipe this month is for a "Scary Monster Cake." Chocolate-syrup soaked sponge layers glued together with chocolate-caramel mousse filling and iced with more chocolate are not scary or monstrous in the least.

Some people allege that replacing Dr. Pepper with mashed banana in a cake recipe yields useful results. I am skeptical; the Sherbs, not so enamored of the banana, surely disagrees. I do have to wonder, though, while all Dr. Pepper cakes seem to be chocolate cakes with Dr. Pepper in them (see also: chocolate cake mix with Dr. Pepper). Wouldn't it be just as tasty to make Dr. Pepper the primary flavor - a cake that makes the world taste better?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shakshuka, Parve Desserts

For dinner last week, The Pedant and I enjoyed some shakshuka, which is a vegetarian's dream come true. I had some of the leftovers for lunch, but this time added couscous to the bottom of my bowl and mixed. It was like a grainy middle eastern treat! Hooray!

TP and I were at the Flooz's wedding to her mister last night. The wedding was lovely, and the parve desserts were divine. As a sweet lover, I must say the "make your own crepe" station hit the spot. A vanilla crepe cooked with chocolate chips and chocolate syrup topped with whipped cream and cherries was AMAZING. (Well, real whipped topping would have been better, but I'll take what I can get.) Also, Stoner's Apple Cinnamon Pancakes were super tasty from pre-wedding brunch yesterday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Rarebit!

The rarebit experiment was successful and tasty, with three caveats (all of which I take responsibility for as executive chef):

1) The Teet's house brand of prepared horseradish made the sauce kind of bitter.

2) Some asparagus were insufficiently steamed.

Other than that, it was a beer and cheese sauce over white asparagus, broccoli, and oven-roasted potato slices with salt, pepper, and rosemary. How could it be bad?

Monday, October 8, 2007


While I'm thinking about it, tonight's meal, which I'm really looking forward to, is a rarebit from the Moosewood Cookbook. Wikipedia tells me that rarebit has never had meat in it, so calling it a "vegetarian rarebit" would be redundant.

Regardless, the plan for tonight's version is to have roasted potatoes, a sauce starting with a roux, and some actual green veggies.