Friday, July 25, 2014

A very easy dinner

We'd just returned from vacation and a 260 mile drive. We were hungry, too tired to drive to a restaurant, and there wasn't much in the house. We did have spaghettini, olive oil, garlic, some lover salad vegetables, and parsley growing in the garden.

I put a pot on salted water on to boil, and prepared what would be the sauce by heating a couple tablespoons of olive oil with a few cloves of roasted garlic (fresh sliced or minced would be just as good), four cherry tomatoes, and a few sliced snap peas. 

As soon as the vegetables were soft and the water was boiling I tossed the pasta in the pot, where it cooked until it was not quite done. I then transferred it to the pan with the oil and vegetables, adding small scoops of the pasta water and letting the pasta absorb it until the pasta was al dente and the remaining liquid formed and emulsion with the oil.

At that point I dumped it all into a serving bowl where I tossed it with a lot of fresh grated Parmesan and a fair amount of freshly minced parsley. It wasn't fancy- but it was satisfying.

A Week in Traverse City

Actually, we were up on Mission Peninsula, which just out into the bay from TC, but the peninsula has a TC mailing address, so....

About the food: We had some take out lunches from the Peninsula Grocery, who always have great daily specials, and more than our usual number of dinners at the Peninsula Grill, whose cooking seems to be up a notch this year. They've always had good steaks and ribs, but this time I had an amazing take on that Southern speciality, shrimp and grits. The grits had fontina and Parmesan cheeses mixed in, the shrimp were delicious, huge, and I suspect Gulf caught, and the dish was topped with crispy shreds of leek. Unfortunately the only photo I have is an out-of-focus iPhone shot that doesn't do it justice. They've also introduced a salad nicoise with a lot of grilled tuna and crisp vegetables- very good, but a bit too spicy, I think. Just about everything there was good with the exception of the grilled salmon, which was said to be overlooked and dry.

Our big discovery this year, courtesy of our friends Tom and Sue, was the Towne Plaza at Cass and State. We arrived in between lunch and dinner service and were presented with a limited menu that was nonetheless as delicious as anything we've had around here. We started with gazpacho, which was a proper gazpacho, seasoned with olive oil and vinegar, and a small garnish of chopped vegetable, and not the bland vegetable salad in a bowl most places serve:

Sue had the ravioli:

Tom had this (I think it was a sort of pork belly croquette):

and Janet and I both had the other pork belly plate, which consisted of a large piece of braised, melt-in-your-mouth pork, topped with a fried green tomato, topped in turn with a cake of similarly rolled-in-breadcrumbs and fried feta:

which was so amazingly delicious that we couldn't stop commenting on it even as we were eating it. 

We're now all on our post vacation fasts, trying to flush the lard from our arteries with repeated doses of oatmeal and bean- but it was totally worth it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

McClure's Bloody Mary Potato Chips

Having previously (and I assume successfully) expanded their successful Detroit pickle business into the world of flavored chips with their pickle-flavored potato chips, McClure's now introduces a "Bloody Mary" flavored chip. While I prefer plain chips (especially thick cut ones), I am not opposed to a properly executed flavored chip with balanced flavor that lets you still taste some potato. I remember some very yummy ketchup-flavored chips eaten in England, and the Siracha flavored chips that Lays launched as part of a promotion not long ago. Both had a nice balance of flavor, unlike the usual BBQ flavored chip that's drenched in a salty-spicy-sweet mix that coats your mouth.

Unfortunately McClure's latest launch is of the orange BBQ chip variety. Despite the bag graphic there's no taste of olive or tomato or any vegetable or even Worcestershire flavor- just a mouth burning Tabasco coating. You'd think a premium priced chip would take a little more care, but these are just as overseasoned and unpalatable as their pickle flavored chips, which taste overwhelmingly of the powdered "vinegar" coating. More's the pity as their pickles are generally very good.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Zamaan Cafe, on Eisenhower Drive in Ann Arbor

We stopped there for lunch today. Janet's been to their other location, but this was the first visit for me. It's a very attractive restaurant, and the staff are friend;ly and helpful. They serve really excellent Lebanese food, including several unique dishes you won't find elsewhere. 

Top to bottom: Spinach pie, seasoned with sumac; roasted cauliflower with tahini dressing, tomatoes, parsley and lettuce; hoummas with tomatoes, feta, olive oil, parsley, and more.