Sunday, May 31, 2015

Entree Enroute

Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless on Urbanspoon In Febraury 2011, my principal and I were in transit at Chicago's O'Hare Airport enroute to Washington, DC for an educators conference. It was breakfast time and we had a couple of hours to kill. So we walked around until we were certain that we had found the perfect spot: Tortas Frontera by Chef Rick Bayless. Frontera features Latin Americam themed sandwiches, or tortas, and even has a handful of breakfast options (eggs & bacon, eggs & chorizo, eggs alone...each with peppers, avocado, and salsa verde). We each made our orders...mine the egg & chorizo...and sat down to enjoy.

And the rest is history...

Every time I know that I'm going to be routed through Chicago for a trip, I do my best schedule enough time to run over to Frontera. Usually this takes commitment because I usually fly American Airlines and Frontera is located in the United terminal. I've travelled alone, with colleagues or friends, or ran into a friend in the airport who was also in transit somewhere and showed them my love of those breakfast tortas.

I'm so glad that my trip to Louisville this year has allowed me another opportunity to dive into a delicious salsa verde covered egg & chorizo torta! Each time I dine here I remember that first trip with my principal (recently retired) and the others with whom I've shared this culinary adventure.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sticky at Sully's Saloon

Sully's Saloon & Restaurant on Urbanspoon It's my first night in Louisville for the yearly conference that I attend. For dinner, my group of friends I walked 4th Street Live for a place to settle for dinner. There wasn't a wait at Sully's (a place we've never visited in previous years--not sure it even existed) so we picked it.

Walking to the table should have been the first hint that this could have been a poor choice. The floor was absolutely sticky!--as in it hadn't been thoroughly cleaned/mopped in a long time. Additionally, there was a strong odor of something that smelled like spoiled beer, but this odor was restricted to one area along our walk to our table. Looking around we noticed that we were basically the only ones present...but that would change somewhat over the next hour or so. Sticky and smelly don't create an atmosphere that is pleasant for a place to eat (or do much else).

As we began looking at the menu and asking our server questions on his personal favorites and other popular items, we were informed that several items on the menu were not available tonight because they "ran out" at a private party the previous night; basically any item which featured pulled-pork was off limits tonight. I settled on the "Good Morning Burger" which featured country ham, bacon, cheddar cheese, over easy egg, maple bourbon aioli on a toasted bun. As I'm writing this and reflecting on what was served...I don't think the country ham ever made it on the burger. each of the other guys got the "Dublin Burger"...a basic burger with tobacco onions and BBQ sauce. Two of us had the cheeses garlic mashed potatoes as a side while e others had French fries.

Over all the food was pretty good!!!

However, that smell and the stickiness greeted us again as we won't greet me again. I don't care how great the food is at a place, if your atmosphere is not condusive to a basic standard of  quality dining then it won't include me as a customer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shackin' Up with Irma

Irma's Burger Shack on Urbanspoon I must admit that I behaved like a glutton during a recent visit to Irma's Burger Shack near NW 63rd & Western (original location) in Oklahoma City.

Eating a burger with top quality No Name Ranch beef isn't being a glutton. Eating a hot link sandwich isn't being a glutton. Unfortunately, when you take a top quality beef burger and put two delicious hot links on top you're getting awfully close to that glutton line. But then you end up taking a running long jump across that magic line when you add delicious chili and a fried egg on to said burger with links. Yes, I crossed that line at Irma's...and while I am pleasantly full and am 100% NOT ashamed of crossing that line of gluttony on this experience of exploration.

The Wynnewood Thunder is one of Irma's specially burgers (No Name Ranch beef, hot link, chili, fried egg, and pepper jack cheese). It was simply delicious! The only thing that I can think of to make this meal with featuring Oklahoma raised beef is to compliment it with an order of fried pickles and ranch...yep, just a plain ole' night of Okie style gluttony...and I'd do it all over again (perhaps soon!!).

On previous explorations at Irma's I've enjoy other sandwiches. The "Which Came First" is one of my favorites! It features a blackened chicken breast, green chilies, pepper jack cheese, and a blackened's so tasty that you won't waste time contemplating whether the chicken or the egg came first.

Head on over the either of Irma's location (mid-town or northside) and chow down soon!

And remember, happy eating is only and adventure away.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kimchee Burger??

S & B Burger Joint on UrbanspoonOver the past two or so years I've heard about S & B Burgers and witnessed a couple of their locations being built near two areas of Oklahoma City that I frequent. But it was not until a couple of days ago that I seriously thought about seeking one out for a dining experience.

I posted a question on Facebook and Twitter for my friends/followers to address asking about their opinions on S & B Burgers. There a wide variety of responses from casual acquaintances to close friends whose opinions I would highly respect. Some gave preferences for other burger joints in the area...some that I like and some that I find are "just ok"...while others were very adamant that S & B was a great choice. When one particular set of well-respected friends said that it was one of their favorite places I knew I had to try it...and soon. I text Michael & Deanna to see if they had dinner plans for that night.  They did not and were agreeable to meet me at the North May Ave. (Quail Springs area) location.

Imagine my surprise to learn that Monday nights (this was a Monday) was $5 burger night!!!

Based upon previous recommendations, as well as those presented in response to my question, I decided to try the "Hot Lips"...a Korean BBQ grilled patty with leaf lettuce, grilled onions, and house made kimchee...and, since the burger was only going to be $5, I also ordered a "Blue Colombian" braised beef with onions, cilantro & blue cheese guacamole served on top of two double layered 3-inch diameter corn tortillas.

I like blue cheese but I'm not a major fan. This taco's guacamole had a STONG blue cheese flavor which ended up growing on me after a couple of bites. The coffee flavor on the beef was an extra bonus "something special". It was something that I know I will grow to enjoy and will love to order again.
Overall the "Hot Lips" burger was good. I was a little disappointed in the lack of major heat or intense flavor of the kimchee itself. However, after two weeks in Korea this past summer, true kimchee can grow "old" on my palate so I'm sort of glad that I was able to enjoy the hint of flavor without the burger being overwhelmed with the fermented cabbage mixture. While there are many other burger styles I plan to try, I'll definitely revisit the "Hot Lips".
I'm pleased by my visit to S & B Burgers and will absolutely add it to my list of favorite places to visit!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rabbit, Snake, & Elk Walk into a Bar...

Lonesome Dove Western Bistro on Urbanspoon...well, not so much a bar but the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Ft. Worth's Stockyards.

I'm on my final push toward home on a multi-day road-trip, I called a friend whose family had recently visited Ft. Worth.  From her posts on Facebook I knew that they had eaten somewhere nice in the Stockyards.  So I gave her a call and she helped to direct me to Lonesome Dove.

Walking in to this rustic saloon styled restaurant I was cautious as to what culinary "delights" might await me.  Beyond recommendations from friends who have traveled through an area I also base my first impressions on the "others" who I see dining.  Yes, there were obviously other tourists, like myself.  Additionally, I know a place in a "touristy" area is good if locals area also dining.  Several of the "others" included what appeared to be business professionals from Ft. Worth's neighboring downtown neighborhood.  My first instincts were that I was in the right place for my lunch en route home.

I'm not sure where the geographic dividing line happens to be between those areas where having a house brewed iced sweet tea available happens to be, but apparently Ft. Worth is not "southern" enough to be safely within the sweet tea zone.  Needless to say I was polite about mixing in some Splenda into my iced tea.

As my server introduced the menu to me, upon learning this was my first time, he mentioned that any of their appetizers could be served in smaller tasting portions and mixed together.  Well that sounded awesome as I was trying to be a little budget conscious as this was the end of my road-trip.  I made a selection of a rabbit-rattlesnake sausage as well as a slider made from an elk sausage.  Due to the mix in the sausage it was difficult to distinguish the rabbit from the rattlesnake; I've eaten rabbit before and could tell there was something "extra" with it but I'm sure I'd never be able to identify it as rattlesnake.  Whatever the combination of flavors it was very tasty.  The elk sausage slider was also a wonderful treat; not too gamey but still something a step up from beef.
Left: Elk Sausage Slider with Seared Foie Gras and Blueberry Jam
Right: Rabbit-Rattlesnake Sausage with Spicy Manchergo Rosti and Creme Fraiche
For my entree I selected the "Daily Stockyard Special" which was tenderloin tacos.  Let's just say that having a great steak in Ft. Worth's Stockyards is a treat and this spin on tenderloin within two lightly fried soft taco shells was just wonderful.  The true highlight, however, was the red bell pepper soup.  "Just magical."  That's truly all I can say to do the soup justice!!  If the soup was all that I had tried on this day I would still be able to present a highly positive review of Lonesome Dove.
"Daily Stockyard Special"
Tenderloin Tacos with Red Bell Pepper Soup,
Mexican Rice, and Spicy Guacamole
If you're in Ft. Worth or the larger Dallas Metroplex it would be very worth your time to venture on out to the Stockyard's and saddle yourself into a seat at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro.

And remember, happy eating is only an adventure away.

Monday, July 29, 2013

See Food, Seafood

French Market Restaurant & Bar on UrbanspoonMy plan for lunch yesterday was to go to Central Grocery in New Orleans for a a traditional muffaletta.  However, Central Grocery, unbeknownst to this simple NOLA visitor, is closed on Sundays.  So I just kept walking for a couple of blocks and then turned the corner.  As I'm turning it hits me "I'm still hungry and there is a seafood restaurant right here.  Why not?"  So I did!  I walked right in to The Original French Market Restaurant and Bar.

Being early on a Sunday afternoon and being further into the French Quarter than most first-time NOLA visitors might venture, I had plenty of seats from which to choose.  I opted for a place at the bar where Heather greeted me.  In addition to my lunch, I very much enjoyed visiting with her.  Just know that if she makes a menu recommendation...take it!!  I thoroughly LOVED both items she suggested.  Additionally, she was so gracious on refilling my sweet tea multiple times (maybe 12...hey, I was thirsty from walking the Quarter that morning).

I had mentioned to Heather of my lunch plan at Central Grocery and she agreed that they had the best traditional muffaletta.  But she then said "we have a great seafood muffaletta.  I scanned the description and agreed that was what I needed so I ordered a half (if you've never had a muffaletta please know that they are usually 9-10 inches round.  It was LOADED with stuff and I eventually had to use a fork to eat the "droppings" from my plate.  The sandwich was a bit dry, due to the nature of the Italian style large bun and all the fried seafood, but Heather did set a condiment caddy by me so that I could add ketchup, mustard, mayo, Tabasco, etc.
Seafood Muffaletta
Fried shrimp, oysters, crawfish, and catfish with olive salad
Just as I thought I was done she asked if I wanted dessert.  I gave a pause before answering, long enough for her to ask if I liked bread pudding.  I said "not usually".  She responded that it was never one of her favorites either but that they have an amazing white-chocolate-praline bread pudding that is just "wonderful".  Since she didn't lead me astray on the muffaletta I went for it.  Let's just say...I'd eat a whole pan of this stuff and wouldn't share with anyone...sorry Mom.  WOW, it was x 2.
White Chocolate Praline Bread Pudding
I will definitely be adding The Original French Market Restaurant and Bar to my NOLA travels in the future.

And remember, happy eating is only and adventure away.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Emeril's: the Real Deal

Emeril's New Orleans on Urbanspoon
I've eaten at Emeril's New Orleans before, but the experience tonight just blew that totally out of the water.  My previous experience included my giving one of the best possibly compliments that I can make regarding a restaurant's seafood gumbo..."it's almost as good as Aunt Mary's gumbo".  Honestly, if I even think that a gumbo comes close to my dearly departed Aunt Mary then you should know it is some TOP NOTCH gumbo.

This morning I called Emeril's to make a reservation for one (I'm traveling alone right now) and they recommended that I sit at the Chef's Window...a bar that looks directly into the kitchen so that you can see what's going on in the preparation of food.  I jumped at that chance.

Upon my arrival and my perusement of the menu, I settled on their summer special of a Five Course Menu; you have a choice of three items for each course on this tasting menu.  Before my five courses began to arrive, I was served a plate of breads and a perfect little appetizer salad.  Then the fun started...
assorted breads
appetizer salad
Fresh Angel Hair Pasta
Louisiana Crawfish, Smoked Mushrooms,
Local Tomatoes, Tarragon, Parmesan
Yellowfin Tuna--Butter Lettuce Cups
Pork Belly Confit, Hoisin, Jalapeno, Crips Rice Noodles
Andouille Crusted Rainbow Trout
Grilled Vegetables, Shoestring Potatoes,
Glazed Pecans, Creole Meuniere Sauce
**Signature Dish of the House**
Creative Fish of the Day
Grilled Swordfish, Japanese Eggplant,
Panko Breadcrumbs, Spicy Rapini, Alabama Peach Vinaigrette 
Vanilla Creme Brulee
Seasonal Fruit, Shortbread
And remember, happy eating is only an adventure away!