Tuesday, December 15, 2009

another favorite...short ribs

i have lots of favorite things...but short ribs is definitely near the top of that list!  yes, my list is quite extensive!  which is of course, no big surprise!  haha anyhow, i wanted to compare the difference side by side when cooking the ribs conventionally by braising it in the oven or cooking it in a pressure cooker.

what i have created here is a pinot noir/port wine short rib with chive-buttered fettucini.  first of all, these ribs were fork tender and i have to say, the conventional braising method gave me a more "melty" short rib than the pressure cooker.  it really had that time to just break down the muscles and stuff so that when you put it in your mouth, it just kind of melted on your tongue. 

the pinot/port wine combo was a terrific ingredient that truly added to the depth of the flavors in the meat, along with all of the aromatics i used to cook it in.  i wanted the flavor of the meat to be the main highlight of the dish, thus choosing to keep my starch simple. although simple in preparation, the noodles were still well seasoned and were a nice compliment the ribs.  i would normally just serve it with some simple creamy, buttery mashed potatoes, but i wanted to do something else, plus, i'd been eating a lot of mashed potatoes lately...i needed a break from them!  =)

i decided to keep the sauce very rustic, but normally i would strain it and continue reducing it to thicken it up a bit.  it was incredibly rich in flavor and i couldn't have been happier with the overall outcome of the dish. 

so the battle of the short rib between conventional braising vs. pressure cooker was won by the braising method which really allowed the meat to just break down, creating that "melt in your mouth" sensation.  though i will say, the pressure cooker is an incredible piece of equipment to have in your kitchen.  if i am ever in a pinch and short on time, i'd use that first and then throw it in the oven to finish off the product and develop it the way i want it to. 

don't be afraid of the pressure cooker!  just follow all safety instructions and you will be fine.  

happy eating!

Monday, December 14, 2009

poached eggs: my way

yes...i know...i am still behind on my posts and have still have some restaurants from my phoenix trip that i really want to discuss still.  i will get to it at some point...but until then, i just wanted to share some of the food i've been making.  they are inspired by what i love to eat and hopefully these are things you love too!

eggs...not just any old egg!  soft, runny yolk eggs...my favorite!  when i was growing up as a kid, i remember rushing around in the morning trying to get ready for school and my mom used to make us fried eggs.  Lord those eggs were super well done!  the whites would be super duper crispy, and even though i like crispy, that wasn't appealing to me, and the yolk was so hard...i found it to be unappetizing and unedible.  what a ungrateful child huh?!  haha  well, what can i say, i already had a discerning palette at such a young age. =)  oh...and my mom would always put a little soy sauce on the eggs for some flavor.  again...this just didn't cut it for me. 

back to runny eggs...hmmm...delicioso!!  here is one of my interpretations of a perfect egg...

here is a simply poached egg, with piment d'espelette pepper and sliced black truffles... 

but wait, there's more...

after i cut it open, the runny yolk was able to run out, and is terrific when sopped up with a piece of buttered toast. 

another variation i tried...

with sottocenere black truffled cheese, d'espelette pepper, sliced italian black truffle, truffle oil and kosher salt. 

both of these eggs are just decadent and oh so yummy.  the creamy yolk was so rich and as it oozed onto the plate over the little sprinkles of kosher salt and pepper, it just added that extra little hint of flavor, along with the earthy truffle oil and that little bite of actual truffle.  the cheese brought even more richness and continued to just enhance the flavor of the black truffle.  as you take a bite of all of it together and kind of breath in...you just have to close your eyes as you smell and taste the fragrant black truffle.  i gotta say, this is how everyone should start their day!  yum yum yum!

there are so many ways you can enjoy eggs...and i just wanted to share one from my point of view. 

eggs done correctly can be such an amazing and rich experience!  this was definitely decadent and delicious and not everyone is going to run out and buy italian black truffles...but you can purchase black or white truffle oil and drizzle a little on your next egg! 

experiment and have fun with your food!

Monday, December 7, 2009

old school mexican food @ carolina's in phoenix

Carolina's Mexican Food
1202 E Mohave St
Phoenix, AZ 85034
(602) 252-1503

i LOVE mexican food and how could we not check out some old school mexican food while we were in phoenix?!  anna's been here before...so since she was planning our culinary tour through phoenix, Carolina's was a must!  this place has been around for 41 years and people who love great tortillas and old school mexican food without the frills come to here.  if you are coming here during lunch time, be prepared for a packed parking lot and lines of people waiting to order and eat.

since it wasn't saturday, we couldn't try the menudo, but i have to say, annie makes the best menudo i've ever tasted!  and you must get their hand made tortillas!  they make over 300 dozen a day! 

as i said, this place has been around for 41 years, but i was told that its been at this physical location for over 35 years...and they have not changed a thing!  i was actually getting my history lesson from more of phoenix's finest below.

battalion chief john mure (left) and captain dave morrissey had just sat down to enjoy their lunch...when mama sylvia (anna's mama) scoped out some seats for us near them.  when i saw them, i thought..."Ooooh!  more firemen!"  (since we saw the other firemen at pete's!)  so, since i have no shame, i walked up to them and asked them if i could take their picture and ask them about their food.  i know...they look pretty serious here, (you might be thinking they are not at all thrilled to be posing for this pic) but just wait till the end of the post...haha

battalion chief john mure always gets the green machaca burrito...he says its consistently moist and loves it.  i don't know what happened, but i forgot to write down what else they ordered.  i could've sworn i did, but i think we got to talking so much that i forgot.  if you noticed in the picture of them, anna was in the far back right corner...but a few minutes of talking and after that man in blue left, we were sitting right next to them! 

they were suggesting so many great places for us to try while we ate our way through phoenix!  it was so much fun chatting with them...and i really appreciated them sharing their favorite eateries with us.

the home made salsa that you can help yourself to by the soda machines...

their salsa was full of herbs, oregano stood out the most to me and lots of chilies.  over all the look of it reminded me of an italian seasonings dressing.  the salsa was ok...not the best i've ever had...but it complimented the food subtly. 

beef hard tacos, creamy beans and mexican rice...

these were simple, but needed a little help which the salsa provided.  just a little hit of spice and moisture was what it needed. it wasn't overly greasy or greasy tasting either.  the beans were creamy, nicely salted...not bad!  the rice was moist, simple and seasoned. 

home made chorizo, potato burrito...

a closer look...

i thought this was pretty good, the consistency of the meat reminded me of ground beef, it wasn't super oily like chorizo can be sometimes. 

we also tried the red chili burrito...ooohhhh yum.  this was my favorite of the three main items we got.  the sauce was terrific, spicy, great flavor, creamy and slightly thickened.  excellent.

fresh hand made flour tortilla with butter...

unwrapped it was a giant tortilla with lots of delicious melted butter in it!  the flour tortilla was so super ono...i and can see now why people come to buy their fresh tortillas from carolina's! 

honestly, i spent the whole time talking with chief battalion mure and captain morrissey that i didn't just sit and completely focus on the food and every single spice and nuance of each dish...but i do know that i enjoyed it.  i would definitely go back and get the red burrito again AND the fresh tortilla with butter! or i'd try the cheese crisp (aka quesadilla).  i thought it was good, well seasoned mexican food and i am so happy that we went!

and to settle the coke and pepsi debate..

so smart...they put in both machines!  gotta love it!

see...by the end of the meal...we were best buds!!  thank you so much captain morrissey and battalion chief mure!  (i had to cover his mouth because he was eating...hehe)  thank you for your hospitality and great company! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

le grande orange - phoenix

Le Grande Orange Grocery
4410 N 40th St
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 840-7777

this little marketplace is a great destination for many locals in phoenix.  the grocery has gourmet goods for humans and our little four legged friends.  you can pick up a fresh sandwich or salad, or some baked goods.  this place reminds me of market hall in oakland or a mini ferry building up in san francisco.  it cute and quaint...we just sat outside with our gelato, cake and bean aka adi (annie's little baby dog...seen in the pete's fish and chips post).  she was the star of our trip...everyone came over to see and pet her. 

i was full already, so all i wanted was a bit of dessert and here is where i got my gelato.

Arlechinno Gelateria
4410 N 40th St
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 955-2448

chocolate and pistachio...

i got both chocolate and pistachio...and oh how i wish i only got pistachio.  the gelato here was soooo creamy and each flavor was incredibly intense.  the chocolate was almost too much for me...but the pistachio was heaven.  the flavor of pistachio just burst in my mouth with each little spoonful.  its almost "dense" and you know that no air was incorporated into this wonderful frozen dessert. 

i have been searching and searching for some amazing gelato...and this place did not disappoint.  if you are ever in the phoenix area and you are a gelato connoisseur, you have got to stop in for a scoop or two.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

foie gras fest @ RH in the Andaz Hotel

RH @ the Andaz Hotel
8401 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 785-6090

before i get into my review, i just need to state the obvious...i am so behind on my posts...i am going to work, work, work on getting all of these done!  i was out of commission (sick), busy making christmas tamales and now delivering them all over southern cal.  thank you for being so patient and i promise i have lots of places to report on.  so let's get to it...and just to warn you, this is going to be a long one.  i think we ate half the menu!  so get comfortable, curl up in your favorite chair, get a nice warm blankie and a hot cup of cocoa...

here we go...

my friend jack, the wine and food connoisseur gathered a group of six to celebrate his cousin pamela's belated birthday and also to check out chef sebastien archambault's classic french cuisine in west hollywood one lovely friday evening.  after having read s. irene virbila's review, raving about truffled poached eggs and duck confit...i was sold.

what is RH?!  what does it stand for and why did they call it that?!  RH = riot house.  they called it this because back in the day, this hotel was well known for all the parties and crazy shanningans of celebs and musicians.  it wasn't the andaz of course...i don't know the name of the old hotel.  if i find out, i will tell you later. 

of course jack was so generous and provided us with some incredible champagne and wine to go with our meal. 

the champagne was the perfect companion to cut all the fatty richness from the foie gras!

this wine was amazing...it was buttery and fruity and i'm not a wine connoisseur, but i know when something tastes terrific!  this was just a great wine. 

the open kitchen...

was in our direct view from our table.

first out...some fresh veggies of baby carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes and purple cauliflower with a creamy herb dip...

just simple and fresh veggies.  nice way to get your g.i. system moving!

fresh bread and butter with sel de mer...

fresh bread with unsalted butter topped with a little fleur de sel!  so lovely!  i can't resist bread...but i had to control myself because we ordered so much food!  yikes! 

mushrooms and green onion tart, arugla, hazelnuts...

the earthy, buttery mushrooms, yum, little kick of green onion, a bit of  pepperyness from the argula and you get a hit of nuttiness from both the parm and hazelnut.  the flaky puff pastry...light and airy, lending a some texture but even more richness to the whole dish.  i loved the simplicity of this dish and just how good it tasted.  i would get this again, but we all know i freaking love mushrooms!

hudson valley foie gras terrine, monbazillac jelly, duck breast...

this was sooo creamy and i loved the jelly with the terrine that cut the fatty feeling in my mouth.  the thin, crisp crouton was the perfect vehicle for the terrine.  honestly, i don't remember the duck breast..but there is a hazy memory deep within the vault of my brain that said i had some type of meat with it.  oh...perhaps it was because there was so little of it split amongst six people that it wasn't a star item when i ate it!  its ok though, i stil enjoyed this dish immensely! 

perigord tourrain soup, traditional chicken veloute with egg white...

dave so generously shared his chicken veloute soup with all of us, but i didn't want to be a piggie, so i had a very small bowl, but the flavor of the chicken was so delicate and velvety!  i would drink this soup over and over again with lots of hot bread and butter.  hmmmm hmmm good.  this is nothing like the campbell's soups i drank as a kid!!

perigourdine poached egg, field mushrooms, foie gras, summer truffles...

ok, s. irene virbila loved this dish!  and first of all, who doesn't love runny egg yolk with foie gras, truffles and truffle buttered bread to dip it all in?!  creamy on top of creamy on top of creamy...oh Lord...its a like a little bit of heaven in your mouth for that brief moment. 

i love this dish with all the components in it, but what i missed was the pungent aroma and earthy taste of truffles.  i don't know where the truffles came from, and though they are so generous with the truffles, it just lacked any true flavor.  it was such a shame.  nice dish...but it could've been even better with the right truffles or even a really lovely italian truffle oil!  oh wait...this is french cuisine...perphaps it would be blasphemous to use italian truffles.  hehe  nevermind. 

homemade crispy petulama duck confit, sauteed potatoes, green onion, garlic, parsley...

now this was the second of the dishes that s. irene virbila was raving out...so we were highly anticipating this when we ordered it.  now...some of you may know that anna and i cook duck confit for dinner parties and i really love how tender and succulent ours is.  i must say, i wasn't overly impressed with this one...it was just alright and i was disappointed that it didn't truly fulfill my duck confit needs.  i'm sad to say that i wouldn't have picked these two dishes as my top favorites to rave about. 

organic wild rice...

hehe...i didn't eat it.

cauliflower gratin...

there seemed to be quite a bit of liquid in this dish, it was good, but i am not compelled to sell this dish to you.  i would've wished for it to be more creamy and almost cheesey!  it was simple and clean...i suppose the style of the cuisine.

sauteed potatoes...

well seasoned, cooked well...not much else to say.

12-hour-cooked boneless suckling pig, roasted apricots, rosemary jus... 

growing up sda, i wouldn't normally look at a menu and scream..."I WANT THE SUCKLING PIG!"  lucky for me, someone else (thank you pam) wanted that succulent little piggy.  it was very tender, and though i'm not a huge fan of rosemary, the jus was scented so softly and not in anyway overpowering and was the perfect compliment to the pig.  delicious.  i would get this before i got the duck again!

seared wild salmon, sauvignon blanc sauce, sorrel, green beans, baby heirloom potatoes...

i had a small bite of the salmon, it was a bit fishy to me...which i'm not crazy about. 

hudson valley foie gras ravioli, summer truffle veloute...

yes...another dish with foie gras!  jack and i were totally looking forward to this also!  but i think it fell short of our expectations.  the foie was already melted within the ravioli skins...which leads me to the texture of the dough, a little too al dente for me.  again, *sigh* the truffles...need i say more?  don't worry, i'm sure i will discuss it again.  but since this dish fell flat, i won't discuss it further. 

colorado lamb chop and braised shoulder, eggplant, lemon confit, red pepper jus...

this was dave's pick, and he truly enjoyed it...i had a small piece because lamb is very gamey to me.  i will say, it was very tender, but still too gamey for my liking. 

RH burger, black angus beef, foie gras, morels...

did you count how many dishes we had with foie in it yet?!  honey, i didn't need a count to know that by this point, i had consumed more foie than most normal human beings should in one sittin...and my g.i. system was starting a small revolt.  but oh how i love morels and burgers and the combination of it all was just too good to pass up!!  that piece of foie was incredibly generous!!  wow...they really don't skimp here...thank you chef sebastien! 

the burger itself was tender and juicy, but even with all the decadent ingredients, it just didn't pack that punch for me.  you know what made this dish pop?  its long, quartered and green...yup!  it was the pickle!  it was the vinegar that helped cut the fat from the foie and creamy sauce.  who would've thought?  such a simple thing...but that's all it takes sometimes to elevate food to another place. 

truffled triple fried french fries...

let me repeat it...truffled triple fried fries...when i read the words "triple fried" i am thinking..."OMG!  hallelujah!  super crispy fries!" (you all know how i feel about my fries being crispy!!)  ok...look at the bowl of fries carefully, see the upper section, the fries look a little pale in comparison to the fries near the bottom of the bowl.  i know, i haven't even mentioned the truffles yet...*sigh* as it was the case in the other dishes, they just didn't have that strong, earthy, pungent aroma that i am so used to.  these fries were just ok for me.

red and black berries in monbazillac jelly, berries and yogurt ice cream...

the jelly was delicate and refreshing...i enjoyed the berries in there, it reminded me of a fancy fruit cocktail jello from when i was a kid, but with nicer fruit.  the yogurt ice cream was also light and refreshing.

warm chocolate cake, little john's english toffee caramel ice cream...

this was my favorite dessert of the night...nothing beats a perfectly warm chocolate cake, not overly sweet paired with that wonderful english toffee ice cream. 

ooohhhhhh...that warm oozing chocolate was so delicious.

roasted kingsburg farm fig almond tart, lavendar ice cream...

i don't quite remember this as well, so i can't give you an indepth review on this, but i will say if you love figs and lavendar, you will enjoy this.  i believe cyndie really enjoyed this dish and could give more comments on this dish.  i am not a huge fan of lavendar in my food, it always reminds me of soap and i don't like the taste of soap on my tongue!  haha  kidding, it wasn't that bad.  but it was ok for me.

overall, i loved the simplicity of many of the dishes and i can appreciate all the effort that went into all the food.  i do wish that the truffles had more intensity that i so love and know that would've really elevated certain dishes so much further.  the staff was attentive and helpful, the chef was so nice and i really have no major complaints.  in any restaurant experience, as you all know, you will have some amazing dishes and some just ok ones.  sometimes i think i get so caught up in eating at certain fine dining establishments that layer everything with so much complexity...but at RH...its just about using a few major ingredients and making sure they compliment each other.  still very lovely and enjoyable.   

to my fellow eating enthusiasts (from left to right):  todd, pamela, jack, dave and cyndie...thank you for such a wonderful time.  thank you jack for organizing! 

chef sebastien archambault graciously took a photo with me
 when i first arrived at the restaurant (in my big faux fur coat) 

just like at the end of ferris bueller, he's talking at the end of the movie...this is kind of like that...

so, if you were counting, we had four dishes with extremely generous amounts of foie gras.  well, i was saying earlier, that my g.i. system was starting to revolt a little, but it wasn't what you think.  it was so insanely rich and because we consumed so much of it, i actually felt kind of ill at the end of the meal and as i made that long drive home...i was felt kinda queasy.  so i don't recommend eating so much foie in one sitting, but if you have a stomach of steel, go for it!

thanks for reading!