05 January, 2010


This blog is getting reinvigorated...this time to share cooking and recipes (you know, kinda like in that movie/book Julie & Julia). This is in large part because we have failed to detail our eating adventures and in part because at least one of us (me) is now stuck in a place where fine dining = the Red Lobster. So much for getting a Yelp account...

Anyway...after eating a variety of artery bursting goodness in Chicago with Adam and Derek (yeah for Greek lamb and steak benedict with dijon hollandaise and many mimosas!), I am back in the great white north to try making gourmet meals with only what is available in Cub Foods. First up: Chicken Saltimbocca. Much like the "Parade" magazine that comes in BIG city Sunday papers, our local paper in Mankato includes "Relish" (relishmag.com) once a month in our paper, and low and behold, an easy Saltimbucco recipe.

The basics on this version: Chicken is sprinkled with salt, pepper and fresh chopped sage and wrapped in proscuitto (no proscuitto to be found in Mankato, so substitute pancetta had to be done). Dredge chicken in flour/romano mix, dip in egg, dredge again in flour. Fry in olive oil in cast iron skillet with some garlic and thyme sprigs. Finish in 375 oven. Serve with lemon. Make sure to eat a nice spinach salad alongside--gotta get those veggies in!

Overall turned out...except the dredging/coating on chicken which I think has more to do with my lack of skills in the dredging/frying than the recipe (I usually go with the grilled chicken). The difficulty was also in trying to keep pancetta wrapped on chicken WHILE dredging. Any tips or ideas on successful dredging are appreciated!

Not sure how "authentic" a recipe this is, but overall the fresh herbs made the dish.

31 January, 2008

California Rolls Never Tasted So Sweet

My eating adventures have been few to none in the past few weeks, but last night I found a way to make your typical Americanized maki rolls all the more interesting--eat them traditional style by sitting on the floor in your own private dining room!

My roommate and a few other midwestern friends headed out to Fujiya--a sushi chain in the Twin Cities--to catch the happy hour drinks and rolls. Glasses of wine for $5, orders of maki rolls for $5-7. It is probably the most cost effective way to get a bit of a sushi fix, especially for the less adventurous sushi eater (alas, I couldn't make my companions share in some negiri nor the fried tofu appetizer that I wanted to try!). So our palates were satified by the traditional California rolls, spicy tuna and salmon, spider rolls, and catepillar rolls. Yum.

The fun part of this outting, however, is that apparently the only table for four at this particular time was the reserved room in the back--as long as we didn't mind sitting on the floor! I apologize for all my Asian or foodie friends who would know the name of this set up, since I am just too lazy to look it up for myself. Anyway, apparently no romantic rendevous were being held last night, so the four of us got the VIP treatment of a room of our own--overlooking the rest of the dining room through little sliding doors, under the muted wall sconce lighting.

Perhaps it was the feeling that we should have been paying extra for a room of this nature, perhaps it was because we were all cross legged and without shoes, or perhaps because we could appreciate the irony of a "fancier" room in a chain sushi joint, but we all held our chopsticks a little better and made more adventurous moves to the wasabi--while talking about drunken adventures and other non-serious topics.

Clearly, part of the fun of sushi dinners is the presentation (whether served on boats or made table/bar side), but I now know that seating and a room of one's own can make even the tamest of rolls taste that much better.

07 January, 2008

Online Wine Club

Hi Group,

We need to figure out a theme or a bottle for our first Fruit Online the Vine Club tasting. Any ideas for a first one and a structure for this?

Birthday Gastronomy Part II

Following my Asian and cock sauce inspired food journeys on my birthday I was sent via Amazing Race Clue back to the house where Meka and prepared a unique take on Birthday cuisine. She took home-style birthday party foods and turned them into healthful and flavourful alternatives. They were amazing. We arrive home and as Meka finished cooking the beer, wine, and green tea martinis started flowing as we played Catch Phrase. The first course was a take on nachos using petite black bean pancakes that were so moist and tender and a perfect vehicle for her homemade salsa with pickled peppers and fresh tomatoes.

The main course that followed as so great I ended up finishing the rest of it after everyone left. It was a southwestern lasagna with green chili cottage cheese filling and from-scratch sauce. Just amazing. It was like if Mario and Bobby had a kid. We took a break and played a new game David Costantino got me for my birthday Hit or Miss and then enjoyed the “birthday cake.” Meka did one of my favourite food things-taking a style of cooking and turning it on its ear but she did it healthfully which totally is not a strength of Iron Chef Balsamic over here. She used on of my most beloved flavours-Peanuts, and made a peanut butter bread with bananas and apples and it was divine. We all loved it. She worked so hard on making a bold and playful menu that was promoting our family’s goals of fitness. It was just a wonderful night.

Sunday we had the opportunity to join some Société d'Agneau members for a birthday lunch at Le Central courtesy of Shameka’s mom-Patricia Mack. A French bistro on Lincoln south of downtown Denver. Meka, her mom, Adm, and Derek all enjoyed a post-evangelical brunch of oeufs, pan perdue, croquet misour, and escargot. We accompanied our rich meal with amazing baguette and European sweet-butter and several wines. Derek had a light and frothy Vin Lime which was Chardonnay, soda water and lemonade. Think of it as a snooty Arnold palmer. I had a Satuern-esque white dessert wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes that was served in a small glass.

That evening Carrie Eckhert prepared a birthday dinner for us with braised pork tenderloin and gouda smashed potatoes. Gilding the lily was a caramel chocolate chuck cheesecake. We brought along a bottle of Umbrian red that was very velvety and rich, a great paring to the pork. Overall it was quite the foodie birthday weekend. I count myself so lucky to have such loving and generous friends and family.

06 January, 2008

Birthday Gastronomy-Part I

So yesterday was my 29th birthday and apropos for any foodie and person who used to weigh 400 lbs knows, it involved a great deal of food.

The beginning of the day was Asian inspired. My friend Jill took me out to an early Birthday lunch at Thai Pepper II in Aurora. I first experienced Thai food at "Festival of Nations" an annual international culture showcase at the University of Denver-from where I matriculated. At that event I tried the McDonalds of Thai cuisine-PAD THAI. I am so happy for this moment but at the same time I regret it. I feel in love with the Pad Thai and for the next eight years I would go to dozens of different thai restaurants and instead of branching out to different aspects of thai cuisine, I would only order pad thai. I have no idea what I was thinking. I discovered thai curries only a few short years ago but cannot get enough of them at all.

At Thai Pepper II we began with vegetarian pot-sickers. They were delicate and nuanced and apart from the fact that they had never suck to any pot and thus had no carmalization were a great opener to the meal. I next enjoyed a pa-nang chicken curry. I debated over getting the HOT or THAI HOT but the waitress informed me that the THAI HOT would just make me cry like a little child and I should steer clear. Now any strong, American man would never let a challenge like that go unanswered. Luckily I am not and I enjoyed the HOT to my satisfaction. Anyway, if I order THAI HOT, how can I add the all important Sriracha sauce that I need so much in any dish. I love the Sriracha or as I used to call it-COCK SAUCE because I had now clue how to pronounce Sriracha. Anyway its much better to say I love me some Cock Sauce to random people who already think you are gay but wont sleep with you in spite of it anyway.

Jill ordered the pad thai, poor neophyte. But in her defense she doesn't really like thai but I played the birthday card. If I had been thinking I would have tried the Japanese noodle house Tina had recommended the previous night but oh well. The pad thai was some of the worst i've ever had. I have found that over the years as thai food seems to become more popular, many restaurants are changing their pad thai recipes to accommodate the American palate. They are sticky, saccharine, without texture and without much character. Or perhaps it is just me who has changed. Who knows?

The restaurant served several dessert options-none of which we partook and I feel for good reason. They seemed to farm out their desserts to the Schwanns' guy with these preformed ring-molded desserts. Usually based on some form of mousse and very scary. Now they did have Green Tea Ice Cream and Im sure that would have been very good. I am all for blending of cuisines but they had Tiramisù on the menu. What the fundip? I don't know about that. Tiramisù used to be my favourite dessert of all time, but again I have changed with that. I just found these preformed desserts to be out of place at a thai restaurant. Stay local and do what you know how to do and ring molds? Is this 1988? Was it my 9th birthday am I 20 years off? Oh where is Ramsay and Bourdain when you need them to tear a restaurateur a new one for you?

We ended up leaving Thai Pepper II sated and overall pleased-well I did who knows about the poor Jill but shes a solid soldier and should not be underestimated in the world of the exotic. The ironic part of the whole day was that Meka didn't want her to take me to lunch (we had originally planned on playing tennis but the lack of any non-snow-covered courts and the absence of any Siberian Tennis Training, we opted for lunch. A month ago my friend Allyson had come up with an idea for Birthday Surprise '08. When Jill and I arrived home I discovered my surprise. I was about to play the AMAZING RACE! This is one of the best presents I have ever received in my entire life. We traveled all over Denver following clue after clue and at each I had to accomplish a task. It was great. The first clue led me to our local wine store where I was given free reign to pick any bottle of wine in the store for my birthday. Really a dream come true. It was so fun. I asked for some assistance in finding a resonably priced Bordeaux or a Super Tuscano Style wine. The wine guy directed me to an '01 wine on clearence that sounded amazing. A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cab. I cannot wait to try it. They said the keep it upstairs in a back room and that its been held well so I was okay buying such an old wine.

From there we went to Pho 79 for lunch. This was lunch part II after the mixup at the thai place but it was still wonderful. The next clue said it was a food place with three clues:
A Smashing Pumpkins song
A Bible Quote

Any guesses? I was thinking 1979 but the other two clues left me flummoxed. As it turns out gold has an atomic weight of 79 and the quote was Psalm 79 so eventually I figured out we were going to Pho 79 for lunch. This was lunch part II after the mix-up at the Thai place but it was still wonderful. Oh How I love Pho. I first had Pho at DU with my friends Elliott King and Kristi Arellano. It was unusual but lovely. I ordered a small #2 with rare steak. I used to only order the chicken because of my previous stupid dislike of any meat that wasn’t burnt. How ignorant I was. Now I love the delicately seasoned broth with the soft beef. It was heavenly. I made my classic design with the Sriracha (it was a big day for the cock sauce) and hosin. I even added in fish sauce which I started doing about a year ago after meka started making pad Thai at home. The food was wonderful as were the company of Meka and Allyson and Petyr Hathaway. I was worried about being too full so I decided against a Durian Daiquiri but oh well. From there we went to DU from a clue that Jill Jennings wrote and I got to tour my old dorm-so much fun. I hadn’t been there in seven years or more. We ended the day returning to our house where meka prepared an amazing feast. That will be the subject of my next post.

05 January, 2008

Bienvenue à la société d'agneau

Founded... well last night, Société d'Agneau is a group of dedicated enophiles and foodies with a passion for all things cuisine and wine. Here anyone may discuss their gastrological experiences, rants, and passions.

Société d'Agneau was founded by six preeminent cultural figures of American food and wine:

  • Adm van Eeckhout-Specializing in Couture Gastronomy and the steely white wines of Alsace France and northern Europe.
  • Amy Pason-Specializing in Intellectual Gastronomy and the bleeding-edge new world wines of South America, Africa, and Australia
  • Derek Cosby-Specializing in Psychological Gastronomy and the fruit-forward wines of Northwest Sonoma and Spain.
  • Greg McBoat-Specializing in Avant-garde Gastronomy and the classic, charming wines of Bordeaux and Bourguignon.
  • Shameka McBoat-Specializing in Molecular Gastronomy and the bold Cabernets of California and the saccharine wines of Canada and Hungry.
  • Tina Rulli-Specializing in Cultural Gastronomy and the subtle, nuanced wines of the Pacific Northwest and Australia.
Together these six innovators in the world of consumptables will lead each other-and anyone who happens to join along they way-on a journey of discovery and Joie de Vive. Join us, won't you?