Posts Tagged 'food'

Food notes

As I posted in a comment yesterday, no, I’m not an ex-blogger. What I am, and why there’s been something of an involuntary (or at least unintended) radio silence for the last month or so, I’ll hopefully be able to post about tomorrow. It’s actually a good thing I haven’t had as much time for blogging as I used to, but it’s still something I want to do, so I’m trying to figure out the balance at the moment.

For the moment, here are a handful of culinary discoveries made over the last few days –

  1. Homemade maple creme cookies are absolutely freaking awesome. Get the recipe here, get maple extract here, get the maple leaf cookie molds here, and buy one of the 750ml bottles of real maple syrup from Trader Joe’s. The result is a million times better than anything storebought could possibly be, and they are not all that difficult to make. I highly recommend using real maple extract and syrup. It’s somewhat more expensive, yes, but it will still be less expensive in the long run than the storebought cookies, which I guarantee you are made with artificial maple flavoring even if they are made with real syrup. I also would prefer to find an aluminum maple leaf mold, as I’m not sure how long these plastic ones are going to hold up (they’re already warped after one round, despite being marketed as oven-safe up to 375 degrees).
  2. If you’re an iPhone user and do any cooking whatsoever, the Whole Foods Market Recipes app is for you. It’s free, the recipes are great (so far), and there’s a terrific feature called “On Hand” where you can punch in what ingredients you have handy, and it will match recipes. The Savory Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole and the Red Lentils with Garlic and Onions (an “On Hand” match) have both been winners; also, it’s handy having a cookbook that doesn’t require room on the too-full shelf.
  3. Yesterday I had occasion to go to Trader Joe’s for the first time in about three years. There isn’t one in Bloomington and the nearest one is in Indianapolis, and I don’t typically go to Indianapolis without a reason (like, say going to see The Dark Knight in IMAX, but never mind that now). To be honest, I was less impressed than I remembered being three years ago; while I got certain things I can’t leave Trader Joe’s without (namely, real maple syrup that isn’t priced like gold, as well as port, to say nothing of some other necessities), on the whole, I found their inventory to be a lot more prepackaged than what I try to buy these days. Ah well.

OK, enough for now. Must… read… Greek… forensic… oratory…

About these ads

How sweet the Saveur

My stepmother-in-law (gotta love the twenty-first century) got us a gift subscription to Saveur about a year ago. It’s really only been in the last few months that I’ve really started to appreciate it. The recipes are great, reasonably “cookable,” and the way they do theme issues means there will be at least one or two keepers among the recipes one way or the other.

Recent successes:

Stretch’s Chicken Savoy

Sausages with French Green Lentils

Eggs Benedict (with lots of great variations in the actual issue, although not online)

Man. I’m suddenly acutely aware that the Nativity Fast is all of two weeks away.

Scenes from the Barrett-terranean kitchen, in which we Copt to it

Tonight we made an Egyptian lentil dish. This is basically it, although we used spaghetti instead of macaroni. Here’s somebody else blogging about another variation. (The recipe we used was actually from this cookbook, and I’m not sure what the etiquette is in reposting material from cookbooks. I love that cookbook, however, and highly recommend it.) Anyway, it made a lot of food, and Megan said — “You know, if we doubled this recipe on a Sunday night…”

I said, “…we could feed a big group of friends that evening.”

She said, “…we’d have food for the whole week.”

Maybe we should quadruple the recipe and both be right.

FARMbloomington

As one or two of the links on my blogroll might suggest, I tend to support the local food movement, or at least parts of it; I have a membership at my local food co-op, I’ve read Crunchy Cons and The Oldways Table, and even subscribed to The American Conservative just to make sure I could read the Rod Dreher/Michael Pollan interview. (I simultaneously subscribed to The Progressive for purposes of balance.)

So, when a restaurant opened up here in Bloomington which was touted as “local, seasonal and simple, while still original” and claimed “to reach out to local growers and utilize their products,” naturally I was interested — definitely the kind of thing locally-minded foodies should want to support, yes?

Well, after months of hearing that it was good but expensive, Megan and I went to FARMbloomington Tuesday night. We were looking to celebrate the beginning of the new school year, and it seemed like as good of an opportunity as any to give it a shot.

Bottom line, in case you don’t want to bother with the gory details: it’s good, but expensive.

The problem is this — it’s okay for a restaurant to be expensive, as long as the customer isn’t thinking after paying, “Wow, that was expensive.” Ideally, the quality of any restaurant should be proportionate to what it costs to eat there; in other words, one should look at the check and always think, “Yep, about right.” Paying through the nose is fine — I just don’t want to feel like I’m paying through the nose. So, if I’m thinking on my way back to the car, “That was good, but expensive,” what that really means is that it wasn’t good enough, not by half.

Walking in, the place has a country-style restaurant feel; some have called it a “high-end Cracker Barrel” and that’s not too far off, but the postmodern twist sneaks up on you when you’re looking at the west wall of the dining room and you realize — that’s a wall covered with bedpans. Evan, our server, was pretty upfront when we asked him about it — “Those are bedpans, all different styles,” he told us. Evidently that’s what says “local” to chef Daniel Orr.

The other problem is that it seems like nothing can just be “local” or “normal”; it’s gotta have a gimmick, as the song goes. Sometimes it works, as in the case of the pineapple vodka which is spiced on-site; that stuff is tasty (many thanks to David, who brought them to us unprompted). Sometimes, however, it just leaves you scratching your head — my wife’s cocktail, a house concoction called “Sweet Lucy in the Rye” made from Sweet Lucy bourbon, Wild Turkey rye, orange juice, and… a ginger cube. A ginger cube? Speaking as an aficionado of Manhattan cocktails, I found this drink to be bizarre. That said, when they do something straightforward, it works very well — my mojito was quite refreshing and very much appreciated, it having been hot and muggy all day.

For appetizers, we went with a plate of sea scallops (as Megan pointed out, not exactly a local selection, unless there’s something about Lake Monroe I don’t know), thinly-sliced and served raw, topped with lime, chilies, dill, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and sea salt. Not bad, worth trying, the plate size is simply too big for two people. After a couple of them you realize it’s more interesting than good, but you’ve still got a whole platter left. Some of the chunks of sea salt were a little too big, but that bothered die Frau more than it bothered me. I also had a caesar salad, which was good but the gimmicky touch here was the shredded seaweed on top. I guess it worked okay, but only because it combined with the taste of the caesar dressing and was effectively blended out. Since it didn’t add anything in terms of flavor or texture, why bother?

My entrée was the Coffee Rubbed Buffalo Nickel Farms Bison Ribeye, served with truffle, mushroom grits, and soubise (a kind of onion white sauce). The mushroom grits and the truffle were fantastic. The meat was… not bad, not great. I asked for medium rare, but danged if I could find a millimeter of pink on the thing. It wasn’t horrible despite being overcooked, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I ordered it, either. Megan ordered an off-the-menu Fielder pork chop with potatoes and a reduction sauce; again, the potatoes were terrific, and the meat was, well, fine.

Dessert was coffee an espresso parfait — like the mojito, quite tasty and refreshing on this particular day. The problem here was Megan asking for cream for the coffee and being given nonfat milk; I guarantee you, she doesn’t have an ounce to lose, so it wasn’t that they were trying to send a message, they just weren’t paying attention. Had that been the only thing questionable about the evening, it would have been a minor quibble, but it contributed to an overall sense that FARMbloomington is still figuring some things out.

Pre-tip, the tab came to $108.07; had everything been wonderful from — if you’ll excuse the expression — soup to nuts, I don’t think I would have blinked at that, but it sure felt expensive. Had it been about two-thirds of the price (or less), it would have felt a lot closer to reality.

Now, all of this is not to say that it was terrible and I don’t ever want to go back. Seattle’s Cafe Flora* it ain’t, at least not yet, but as I said, it’s the kind of place I’d like to be able to support, it wasn’t absolutely terrible, there were definitely things that were really good, it’s just that they clearly do not yet have the ship sailing as smoothly as it hopefully will be eventually. I plan to go back after the menu rolls over for fall or winter and see how things change. If they’ve improved some things, I look forward to being able to report that.

* Home of the best cheese grits in the universe. Check out their cookbook.


Richard’s Twitter

adventures in writing alexander lingas all saints bloomington all saints orthodox church american orthodox architecture american orthodox music american orthodoxy Antiochian Archdiocese Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America Antiochians books byzantine chant cappella romana chant church architecture ecclesiastical chant ethnomusicologists ethnomusicology fellowship of ss. alban and sergius Greece Greek greek food greekness hazards of church music international travel tips ioannis arvanitis joe mckamey john michael boyer kurt sander Latin liturgical adventures liturgical architecture liturgical music liturgical texts and translation liturgy liturgy and life lycourgos angelopoulos medieval byzantine chant Metropolitan PHILIP militant americanist orthodoxy modern byzantine architecture modern greek music music as iconography my kids will latin and greek when they're newborns my kids will learn latin and greek when they're newborns orthodox architecture orthodox architecture is bloody expensive Orthodox choir schools Orthodox Ecclesiology orthodox outreach orthodox travel pascha at the singing school Patriarchate of Antioch Patriarch IGNATIUS IV Patriarch of Antioch publishing random acts of chant richard barrett in greece richard toensing rod dreher sacred music st. vlads st john of damascus society Syriac the Bishop MARK fan club the convert dilemma the dark knight The Episcopacy The Episcopate the only good language is a dead language this american church life travel we need more american saints why do we need beautiful music in churches?

Blog Stats

  • 173,446 hits

Flickr Photos

IMG_3558





More Photos

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,341 other followers