Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kirkland Roasted Corn Chowder

Every so often I take a chance on a prepared food... and I'm almost always disappointed. This soup looked good, and the ingredients list didn't have any mystery ingredients or ingredients you wouldn't find in your own kitchen, with the exception of "yeast extract "- i.e., MSG.

It doesn't look too bad, either. But it tastes awful. It's a starchy base that tastes mainly of too much pepper along with pieces of corn and potatoes and a few flecks of red pepper. It's just not very appetizing.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Arbor Brewing Company, Ann Arbor, MI

What we should have ordered was burgers and one of their many house brewed beers, but after a day kayaking in 87 degree weather we wanted something lighter, so we ordered a couple of salads, which were poorly composed and not terribly enjoyable. The Deconstructed Salade Nicoise ($8.95) was mostly romaine lettuce, with six green beans, a quartered hard polled egg, a few halved cherry tomatoes, some (mostly) pitted kalamata olives, and a pile of potato cubes that had been cooked much earlier and kept in the fridge so on the plate it was cold and dried out. For $4.95 I added eight popcorn-sized shrimp. The dressing was, in a word, unpleasant. No olive oil flavor, bottled lemon juice, and no other seasonings:

Janet's Cherry Chicken salad had dry chicken, dried cherries, a lot of blue cheese, and a similarly unpleasant dressing:

I suspect dining out late Sunday afternoon may have been a factor as well. A lot of kitchens don't do much prep on what is typically a slow day.

On the plus side we had a great waiter who was very helpful and attentive. We'll probably go back to try the beers and the beef, which is what we should have done in the first place.

Friday, July 25, 2014

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.