Un. For. Tune. Atly.

December 15, 2007

The new blog format works great on Firefox, not so well on clunky Microsoft Internet Explorer. It’s that damn Bill Gates / World Domination thing again.

Working on it.

Happy Giving of Thanks

November 22, 2007

This week, my mother-in-in-law is in town — but the amazing Velma got off the plane at noon in a wheelchair and we had to camp in the Emergency Room at Hbg Hospital all evening, following by a 4 a.m. surgery.

She’s okay, and I want to tell you about the two terrific Thanksgiving dinners she almost had.

But first, I’m reanimating a Thanksgiving column I wrote about her a few years ago.

VEGGIES UNLIKELY TO BEAT SPREAD

Unlike the holidays of spring and summer, which require charcoal lugging or propane lighting — and sometimes keg tapping and cherry-bomb throwing — Thanksgiving is leisurely.

It asks for only the energy to fall away from the dinner table … Read the rest of this entry »

First you take off your shoes …

May 23, 2007


… and sit on the floor, then we give you these two little sticks …

First you take off your shoes …

May 23, 2007


… and sit on the floor, then we give you these two little sticks …

Bayou

October 11, 2006

At last.

We thought we had a winner when The Quarter finally opened up downtown on Second Street after months of buildout, but the NOLA look was only a facade. No Cajun food, no Creole food, no beignets with cafe au lait.

Now then … move on up the road to the 1500 block of Second Street, and Bayou will show you wheah y’at, darlin’. It was Chef Matthew Black’s summer entry in the city’s culinary contest.

Dee and I went for lunch with arts editor Arthi Subramaniam, who ordered the Pecan Fried Chicken. She passed some my way. It almost floated off the platter, it was so delicate. Dee had a fried oyster po boy — half the size of a New Orleans po boy, but with all the taste and a side of creole potato salad.

I looked up at the specials board and saw a softshell crab etouffee, but I gasped at the price: $27. For lunch. It’s just not soft shell season on the Susquehanna. A guy at the next table named Big Mike saw my consternation and mentioned he’d just had the dish, and it was worth the price.

It probably was, but part of my love for New Orleans food is that it’s not expensive. Oh, there’s an Emeril’s or two, but you don’t have to go there to eat well.

So I went for BBQ Shrimp with Dirty Rice and a Black Pepper Biscuit.

The shrimp were wonderfully juicy, the rice tangy, the biscuit took me back to buttery breakfasts on the bay.

Yeah, baby.

Hilton Harrisburg’s Cigar Dinner

October 10, 2006

 cigar night

“The cigar is the perfect complement to an elegant lifestyle.”
– George Sand

The first Hilton cigar night was soft and cool, with Steve Rudolph on the jazz keyboard.

(Name everyone in the Mike Fernandez photo above and win a Don Lino cigar at RAE’s Tobacco … on me.)

Executive chef John Reis organized the hors d’oeuvres buffet at the Outdoor Grill as kitchen staff put together the centerpiece appetizer of grilled chicken, shrimp and scallops in an adjoining tent. Al Baker of RAE’s Tobacco sold Africas and Auroras at a side table. Paul Flores of Miami Cigar Company rolled cigars with the Cuban pigtail, by hand.

Grilled New York strip steak was the main plat, served with a booming Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon. It was an easy, talky night.

cigar2mf3.jpg” When I’m sitting with a cigar smoker, face to face, I can have a good long conversation.”

– Ginny Roth, PPOS

A Meal in Minutes

October 10, 2006

We couldn’t figure out what this place was – or why we’d want to spend time bagging up ingredients someone else had chopped and poured.

But when Sue Gleiter Food Writer invited us to a demo night, we decided to go. As with so many things, once you add friends and a bottle of red wine it gets better.

And the demo food was tasty. The Cleas at WorkAfter we put together our Grilled Herb Chicken, we ate Roxane Morgan’s version of Ratatouille Provencal with Cheesy Chicken Fries. Odd combo but good eating, good enough to lure us into making a reservation for a Saturday afternoon of meal prep work.

Roxane opened A Meal In Minutes after at least one meal assembly franchise on the East Shore went belly up. AMIM is not a franchise, and it’s very well done: stainless tables, fresh ingredients, simple directions, convenient wash-up and a cooler to store finished meal packages while you go on to the next station.

On our Saturday, we went to meet Cate Barron and her personal chef, Bob Vucic, along with Pauline and John Clea, who are hard at work in the photo above. We opened a bottle of Red Bicyclette, washed our hands, put on the annoying saran-wrap glove thingies and stepped up to the prep table.

For my wife and I, it was a test. We split a 12-dish meal plan with the Cleas for about $60, just to see if we’d enjoy it. We made:

* Black Bean and Cheese Burritos with Colby Jack and Cotija cheese;
* Bourbon-Molasses Pork Tenderloin, spiced with lemon juice, crushed red pepper and unspecified herbs.;
* Ginger Glazed Salmon, with ginger, pineapple and soy sauce. The marinade becomes the sauce;
* Grilled Herb Chicken, boneless, skinless breasts in a Dijon, lemon juice and fresh herb marinade, ready for the grill;
* Pan-Seared Tilapia with Chile-Lime Butter
* Cajun Smoothered Pork Chops with jalapenos and onions.

So far we’ve had the salmon and the chicken, both grilled. Very good. And – did I mention the easy part? Nice and easy, with a salad and corn on the cob.


  • A Meal In Minutes

  • Where to start

    October 10, 2006

    Where to start?

    “To make a start
    out of particulars …”

    If I could go back in time, I might be able to tell you the day my taste for cooking began. I had a great job when I was a kid. All through high school, I worked in the kitchen at Holy Spirit Hospital. My friend Tom Scheffey and I washed dishes, helped the ladies at garde manger and worked the service line.

    The service line, that was intense. Especially at breakfast.

    The head dietician was a nun, Sister Georgia, and her morning service line was a conveyor belt about 15 yards long. Every tray on it had a checklist of salad, soup and main plate and those plates were put on by the salad ladies and our chef, Mr. Paulie, as the tray moved toward Sister Georgia at the end of the line. There, just before the tray entered the dumbwaiter, she would snatch up the checklist and snap out, “coffee … cream … sugar … butter … jelly … salt and pepper …” and I would just get the coffee poured into the small stainless carafe and be grabbing for the creamers when she started on the next checklist, “tea … extra cream … salt substitute …”

    At that age, I’d never seen Lucille Ball’s conveyor belt skit.

    Unless someone knocked a tray askew and it crashed to the floor, the belt did not stop. The food was hot. It had to get to the aides on the floors upstairs and they had to get it to the patients. Absent a crisis, the belt didn’t stop. If you weren’t working fast enough, you worked faster and better – or you got replaced on the line.

    It’s more fun as a memory than it was as an experience, but it gave me a taste for decent food presented professionally … even in an institution.


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