Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

A Time for Everything

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

When I was a kid, I was so obsessed with ketchup.  It went on/in everything.  From mac’n'cheese to the more conventional french fry, I was obsessed.  And then, with no real warning, our sordid love affair was over.  Ketchup was disgusting, and I didn’t want it on my hamburger, let alone my mac’n'cheese.  Everything was barbecue, those days.  And really, barbecue is an ideal dipping sauce: spicy, sweet, with a little tanginess thrown in for good measure.

And then Joel and I went to the Old Salt Restaurant in Beaufort, NC.  First, let me begin by saying that they have a fantastic gluten free menu and a staff that’s actually educated on it.  Second, they have these sea salt brined fries…

I recognize the fact that in creating a food blog, I’m signing on to be able to write about food.  But sometimes… the texture and the flavor are just absolutely so amazing, that you don’t even have words for them.  And to be honest, I’ve been chasing that sea salt brined high ever since.

Five Guys fries are not a bad stand in when I’m back in Durham.  They’ve got the flavor just right, but the texture isn’t quite there.

But the thing is, the fries weren’t even it.  They serve them with their own homemade ketchup that is unbelievable.  I just… words…. not there…

And ever since, I’m back on the ketchup wagon.  I knew I was going to have the house to myself on Friday night with a new season of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix (I recognize that I should be watching Orange is the New Black, but that’s a together show while Joel doesn’t really care for PLL).  I was out running errands, and I thought some fries with some sort of fancy ketchup would exactly do the trick.

Balsamic Ketchup

Oh man, did they ever!  Heinz has this ketchup with balsamic vinegar.  The fries were everything that prepackaged frozen fries are, but this ketchup is a game changer.

When I told Joel about it after, he wanted in on that mess.  So we manufactured an excuse to use it again: corndog muffins with tater tots (a preference of his I’ll never understand).

Corndog Muffin

Corndog muffins were a pinterest find from forever ago.  They’re the easiest way to satisfy a corndog craving, which, if you’re anything like me, come fairly regularly.  The recipe is from Iowa Girl Eats, and while I like the concept, her method simply doesn’t work for me.  A) I don’t have a mini muffin tin.  B) I have found the best gluten free cornbread mix in the whole wide world, and I really don’t see any reason to mess with that.  C) I also think we can do a smidgen better than regular ol’ hot dogs.

So let’s simplify this a bit.

Corndog Muffins

  • Prepared cornbread batter*
  • Kielbasa sausage, cut into 12 equal pieces

Pour batter into muffin tins as the recipe directs (do not overfill).  Insert a sausage piece into the middle of each filled muffin tin.  If there is batter leftover, I like to pour it into a small pan and bake plain to have with butter and honey for dessert.

* My personal favorite of the gluten free varieties is Pamela’s.  My homemade cornbread isn’t that good.  I figure if I’m having corndogs for dinner, I might as well go whole hog and treat myself with my favorite cornbread (see what I did there?).

P.S.  The combo with the ketchup.  Absolutely divine.

The Weekenders

Monday, March 17th, 2014

There was a show on ABC on Saturday mornings when I was growing up.  It was part of their “One Saturday Morning” program, and it was called “The Weekenders”.  Every episode started Friday after school and ended Sunday evening.  They had this pizza place they went to every Friday evening for dinner, but it changed ownership (and therefore name and decor) every week.  They had a routine.

I liked that show more than I really should have.  But I really like weekend routines.  I like doing things the same way over and over again.  I like the rhythm, and I really like the predictability.

Unfortunately, this last weekend had me off my routine.  It started with a totally epic field trip to Carolina Beach.  We road a boat and explored Masonboro Island, and I got sunburned like whoa.  The kids were generally really well behaved.  In truth, I probably had fewer behavior problems than I would have on a regular day in the classroom.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a 12 hour trip.  A 3.5 hour bus ride there, and a 3.5 hour bus ride back with 40 fifth graders.

It was a lot.  So much that I went straight to bed when I got home.  No dinner.  Just sleep.

Saturday morning was great thought.  It was warm and sunny out, so Joel and I hit the farmer’s market.  Before that, though, we stopped by the ATM.  That’s when we came across this.

Carnival

Armed with cash and reusable bags, we hit the farmer’s market.  It was packed.  The nice weather really draws the hipsters.  Then there was breakfast at DaisyCakes.  I get the biscuits at DaisyCakes way too often.  But this was the first time I had a full breakfast there.  We sat at a teeny tiny table outside.  It was white.  The side of the building was white.  My husband was white.  I was having trouble keeping my eyes open because it was just too bright.

Daisycakes Breakfast

But boy was it amazing.  Their three potato hash was A-MAZING.

After some yard-related errands, I hit naptime hard.  Then the little sister came over.  I liked that she stayed with me as endcaps to her spring break.  We watched really terrible television and ate way too many fruit by the foots (fruit by the feet?).  Sunday morning included couponing and doughnuts (recipe to come).  More naptime.  And then video games.

I didn’t do nearly enough in the way of chores, which is why my house is a disaster right now.  Along those lines, I was really hoping for a school delay today (yay wintry mix!), but alas…  While I’m so over this winter, I’m also not even remotely close to being ready for this week.  Here’s to sleeping 37 minutes past your alarm and caffeine.

Keeping Promises

Friday, July 5th, 2013

I’ve been maybe reading a series of books that I’m totally hooked on.  They may or may not be about four girls who are really dumb and don’t keep their promises.  Like ever.  I may be kind of embarrassed that I am double hooked (both on the show and the series of books it was based on) on a tv show created by ABC Family.  I don’t need to justify myself to you.  It’s vacation.

But to be clear, I’m not dumb like Aria, Spencer, Emily, or Hanna.  When I make a promise, I keep it.  So let’s talk about summer vacation.  It’s pretty rad you know.

This is my first summer not working since I was 16.  I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I’m wedding planning and traveling and being quite lazy.  But maybe you don’t want to hear about that.  Because maybe you hate me and my teacher relatives.  I don’t blame you.  I would too.

But I did promise we’d talk about traveling gluten free and New Mexico.  So here’s what you need to know: If you ever travel to southern New Mexico… and really and truly, you should.  No seriously.  I know it’s a bunch of podunk towns in the desert.  But it’s also white sands and mountains and pistachio farms and wineries.  It’s real mexican food and gluten free pie.  Wait… what?!  That’s right, there’s gluten free pie in the beautiful mountain town of Ruidoso, NM.  I’m talking about the Village Buttery, folks.

Village Buttery

We were making plans to meet my aunt in Ruidoso for lunch and shopping, and I looked up gluten free restaurants.  I was a little suspicious of this place because it sounded just too good to be true.  The salads, sandwiches, and soups were amazing (according to those that ate sandwiches and soups).  My green salad with a grilled chicken breast and raspberry vinaigrette was delicious.

I must admit, though, that the pie was better.  I ordered the buttermilk because that was all they had pre-made of the gluten free pies.  You can order a pie in advance, though, and they’ll be happy to make it for you.  Also, my mother, sister, aunts, and grandmother reported that the other pies were equally amazing.

Hannah caught a bee that was bothering us with an empty glass (as seen in at the top of the glass in the background), and I was so entranced by the pie that I forgot to take pictures of it for you.  … whoops…

PIE

My fourth concluded with a trip to Capitan, where my uncle manages a grocery store.  We had a picnic in a beautiful park in the mountains, and my uncle brought the food: ribs his deli manager had smoked without seasoning just for me (they even put foil on the rack so there wouldn’t be cross-contamination), corn on the cob, and watermelon.  There was potato salad for gluten eating folk.

ribs and corn

The ribs were unseasoned because the deli didn’t have a gluten free seasoning or sauce.  We brought some sweet baby rays, and I didn’t miss it at all.

watermelon

Amazing fourth.

Twisted Noodles

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

I’ve been glutened quite a bit lately.  It seems like every time I go out, I can’t help but get some sort of gluten cross-contamination, no matter how much I try not to.  I’ve been to restaurants I’m familiar with, ordered dishes I’m familiar with, but something must have changed.  Bummer.

Along those lines, I’ve been trying to cook at home for all of my meals.  Which can be a bit exhausting.  Especially when you’re sick.

So for lunch today, the boyfriend took me to an old favorite, Twisted Noodles.  Aside from being the best darn Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand, they’re also willing to make just about everything on the menu gluten free.  And when they can’t make something gluten free, they’ll happily tell you and offer alternatives.  So much of the menu is naturally gluten free.  And it’s all delicious.

I ordered the chicken pad thai.  The portion is huge (I have enough for another meal sitting in my fridge).  Yum!

City Beverage

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

This is pretty much my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world.

Chile Braised Chicken Nachos

Chile Braised Chicken Nachos

They have a very diverse menu, but when my old boss recommended the place to me, she said I needed  to get the chicken nachos.  I did.  And every time I’ve been back, I’ve gotten the same thing.   Unoriginal?  Sure.  But delicious.  And can you really criticize that?

In the background, you’ll see the Tres Bien Burger, topped with mushrooms, swiss, and all kinds of other yummy stuff.  It was amazing, but it wasn’t the nachos.

Everyone I’ve taken there (including my family) has loved it.  Seriously.  Everyone.  Despite the inappropriate movie posters hung all over the wall.  The place has a fabulous retro feel: gold, sparkly booths, fake flowers hanging from the ceiling, mannequins, and yes, provocative movie posters fill the walls.  The ambiance is incredible, the food even better, and the wait staff is generally indifferent.  Go.  Seriously.  Do.