Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sushi c/o Shiroi Hana

In the first week of August LW celebrated a birthday. She gathered a few of her folks together for a sushi dinner to commemorate her new age, which was held at Shiroi Hana. MP was among the attendees, which was nice because pretty much the next day she headed out of Philly for an extended stay in Michigan. She will be missed. But at the time we were all there. I was especially interested in having the ankimo, which I've only ever seen at Shiroi Hana's sister restaurant Doma. I'm telling you these monkfish livers or pate or whatever it really's good. It's things like this that make me glad that I'm not an overthinker when it comes to food. If it's good, it's good and I'm not going to worry about the exact body part of the animal it is I'm actually eating.
LW, MP and I split a sushi platter that included a few rolls as well as salmon, tuna, white tuna, shrimp, eel, and a few other fishes.
Pretty good stuff. I think LW had a good time at the dinner and then I know she went out pretty hard at darts later that night. I basically went home satiated.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Seafood Country Days

After CPM, R. and Brutus departed I futzed and fiddled around the house and woods and consumed a whole lot of Divergent and Insurgent. If you are a teenage girl, or have one lurking inside of you, you should really read these books. Eventually I realized that eating would probably be a good thing, and that's when I remembered that in addition to the salmon I purchased at a suburban Whole Foods, I had also seen the rather unlikely option of soft shell crabs and had gotten two. So I took care of that whole thing. Seasoned the breading with salt and pepper and accompanied the crabs with lime because I had no lemons at hand. They were generally good for previously frozen crabs. I was glad to have them at such a late point in the summer.
The next night S. stopped by and I decided to try a slightly different approach to another fillet of salmon. This was farm raised salmon instead of the more fancy Atlantic salmon, and I usually am a hater of that kind of salmon...but I will say that this version of salmon was actually a bit better. In this rendition I sliced up a sweet onion, one lemon, three stalks of lemon grass and some garlic and thyme and created a bed on which I could put the salmon. Then I salted and peppered the salmon itself and filled the baking dish up to the base of the salmon with a white bordeaux. No lie, it was really good. The salmon I made the other night was good, but this was definitely better. I don't know if it was the aromatics of the lemongrass or the fat content of the farmed fish, but it definitely was pleasing to the taste buds.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Frittata, Walkabout and Catan

The next morning I was very excited to make a frittata for CPM and R. I beat about eight eggs with a bit of half and half, sauteed mushrooms and green peppers, and then put the eggs in a big skillet before adding the mushrooms, peppers, goat brie, tomatoes and smoked salmon. The result was quite delightful in my humble opinion.
After breakfast we took a bit of a woods and field walk.
Brutus was pleased about it.
This is just pretty.
Obligatory 'I have friends sometimes' shot.
We then played two additional games of Catan before CPM and R. headed out. I was quite happy to have the company and get to spend some time with them all. I am such a sucker for simply sitting around, reading books, playing games and cooking for people. It's basically all I want to do, and that is why I often think the best option for me would be to run a B&B somewhere wonderful. Of course I have also realized that most B&Bs don't actually make money so there's that small problem, but a girl can dream can't she? Yes. Yes she can.
Dog love.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Salmon Dinner and Catan

The main meal of the evening was Atlantic King Salmon, which was accompanied by roasted potatoes and sauteed squash and zuchini. CPM did the potatotes and squash/zuchinni while I handled the salmon and a salad. Everything turned out quite well.

Afterwards we enjoyed a round of Catan and Brutus slept, wiped out from all the walking we did earlier in the day.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Country Evening Starters

After our sandwiches we spent the rest of the day enjoying the wonderful weather and scenery with a walk. Or maybe that was in the morning before the shopping? In any case the remainder of our day was predominantly spent reading. I was reading an Anita Shreve's All He Ever Wanted, which is a book that I wouldn't necessarily recommend but that I didn't hate either. CPM made some serious progress in the last available book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (ie: Game of Thrones). I really need to re-read that last book to remember many of the details that have, at this point, been momentarily forgotten. We were also waiting for R. to show up and join us. I put out a cheese plate in the expectation of his arrival so that the cheese would be ready for consumption, and once he did turn up we popped a second bottle of Prosecco and retired to the outside for conversation, cheese, grapes and prettiness.
I think this was an aged gouda, a cow's milk triple cream and then I forget what the last cheese was, but it was nutty in a good way.

Carolina-style Pork Sandwich c/o Fresh Market

The next day we had to do a bit of a grocery run in preparation for the meal we'd make that evening. We didn't really have lunch so while we were at Fresh Market we were taken in by the idea of a sandwich made right at their deli counter. I chose to try their barbeque pork tenderloin with coleslaw. I forget what CPM had, but I believe it involved Brie. Neither of us were terribly impressed, though the sandwiches did sit for about 45 minutes due to my thinking I knew how to take us on a nice back route...except I had no idea what I was doing so it took a pretty long time. In any case, the bbq sauce on my sandwich was extremely sweet. I would have preferred a more vinegar-based sauce. Lesson learned.

Country Pizza

About two weekends back I finished my day at work and gathered myself together before picking up CPM and Brutus the dog to drive out to the country. Once we arrived we popped a bottle of champagne, which I sipped while doing just a bit more work. While I was working away, CPM was also being industrious in putting together the dough, sauce and ingredients for the pizza we then enjoyed.  The rest of the evening was spent chatting, sipping wine and enjoying the pepper, mushroom and pepperoni pizza that CPM's hard work created. A good evening was had by all.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Heirloom Tomato, Baby Cukes and Burrata

So my tomato plant is perhaps not quite as prolific as I might have expected, but it is producing. On this particular day I took a might fine tomato off, sliced it up, drizzled a bit of olive and truffle oil on it with salt and pepper. I also sliced cucumbers and added a few triscuits. The centerpiece was burrata. It was a really lovely plate that I enjoyed eating on the deck.

Sushi c/o Umai Umai

There was a weekend where I found myself in Philly with literally no plans. The option of a day at home with no commitments or activities was, in a sense, rare. I have been perking up my summer weekends with a fairly consistent number of trips and whatnot. But home I was. And home, it was good to be. Except that I hadn't gone grocery shopping in a long, actually just long but not really hot, second. Except that second was more like two weeks. So I was at home, hungry, and watching episodes of the David Chang version of a cooking show. You should watch it too. He'll make things you know are complicated seem, for a moment, not-so-much, and then more likely than not you'll go to a restaurant that somehow relates to whatever the episode is. In my case it was a delayed reaction. I had watched the Chang episode where pretty much it's all Japan, all the time. At the time, I restrained myself. But an episode featuring a Danish chef with his own experimental houseboat and weirdo farmer? Somehow it was too much. There they were with a 100 year old clam and freshly picked plants and rotten potatoes and all these other things, and all I could think of was the other Japan episode. I wanted real and good sushi and I wanted to try new things like it was just par for the course. And so for those reasons, and others, I decided to go to Umai Umai. Umai Umai is not terribly far away from where I live. I have heard many people really praise it. But I gotta say in the first few times I went? I always felt slightly like I wasn't getting it. Really I felt like I paid more money than I would consider reasonable without the pay-off of my eyes rolling to the back of my head due to the glory of the tastes on my tongue.

And that's the thing. If you're not paying with a company card or being comped, you have to decide on a few things and then you judge the place on them. And by "you" I mean me, trying to showcase information about places I can't truly explore as frequently as could lead to a good review on a budget that already dedicates way too much funds to the pursuit of good food. My point here is the fact that even though monetarily I had decided that Umai Umai and I wouldn't work out, I looked at the collective reviews one more time, and I thought about how culinarily turned on I got at seeing sushi,  and I decided to give Umai Umai one last chance. I looked only at the more sushi/sashimi centered options and really didn't even process any descriptions of hot dishes. I was going to eat the prepared fish in whatever form the chef thought was best. It was early. Senior citizen hour. And me sitting alone at the bar when tables were available, but without the chef readily being personable, and with me being extremely sensitive to the concept that someone would rather not talk to me. Well. It was quiet for a while. The chef and his sous chef? Apprentice? Stood behind the bar making conversation that made me think that the one guy was new.Or that's just how chef dudes talk in front of a random woman customer who opted for the sushi bar but then wasn't immediately gregarious? In any case. I ordered a miso soup and the chirashi. And if I wasn't a complete jerk, I could tell you what every single thing on this plate was. But I was a jerk and thought I could remember...but I was wrong. What I can tell you is there was: uni,  a quail egg, ikura, extremely tender magic salmon, escolar, tuna, scallop, and about seven other things I cannot lock down.
I'll tell you this: it was pretty. And the eating of the raw scallops was a new thing for me. But I did it with faith, and I was rewarded. Whatever I thought it might be like, it was better. I realized I had misunderstood the nature of a scallop. I liked and enjoyed the whole bowl, and of course some parts more than others. But the whole experience was wonderful.
I did witness a less than ideal interaction between another patron and the waitstaff, during which the woman complained loudly about the fact that her food was too hot. When her waitress suggested ways to fix the situation, the woman was having none of it. I thought the server did a pretty good job of keeping her cool, but the lady was clearly not a happy camper. As she and her husband left she made a big point of saying that they would never return because the service was rude and her food was too hot. If you know that lady, don't believe her. They were polite and tried to find a solution, but she was the one who was rude. Yes, when you're paying for a meal it should meet your expectations. But getting so snippy when the issue is that your food is too hot seems insane. Just wait and it'll cool off. Or, if you're asked how the situation could be favorably handled to please you, actually have a solution. I don't know. There is a sense of entitlement in the whole restaurant thing. When I go I expect certain things like prompt and friendly service, food as I request it, and the like. And if those expectations aren't met and I actually raise the issue of dissatisfaction with someone from the staff, I would hope that they would try to listen to my concerns and address them. And I would hope that I would not become someone who completely forgot what an appropriate response is vs. and inappropriate one. It was awkward for all in the small restaurant to have to overhear her complaints and increasingly impatient and rude treatment of the server. After the initial outburst there was a very quiet atmosphere where all diners felt as if they couldn't strike up or resume their normal conversations. I eventually asked the sushi chef a question about escolar, so that lightened at least my mood.

My overall thought and point is this: I was wrong to have given up on Umai Umai in large part because I was wrong in what I had been ordering. If you want crazy rolls or teriyaki, there are quite a few other spots in the neighborhood and in Philly, but for a really interesting and wide variety of fresh fish prepared with care and beautifully presented? Keep Umai Umai in your mind.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Post-BBQ Lunch

While the barbeque's end was a wee bit debaucherous, the overall event ended around 11 PM, which made it not so difficult to get up the next day, clean up and take advantage of some of the left over grub. I fired up the grill and made myself a burger for lunch. I season my burgers with a mix of garlic, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper and cumin. With cheese they do not fail to please. I also used some of the leftover tomato basil dip that I had made as an alternative for ketchup. I also had a little helping of the Asian tinged slaw I made (sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, also with julienned green apples).

Monday, August 05, 2013

Barbeque Fun Times, 2013

A few weekends back my roommate and I invited a group of folks over to our deck for a barbeque. I got up early and drove north to Czerw's to get some fine Polish kielbasa, and went to a few other spots in preparation for the afternoon and evening. I got a few different kinds of sausage. Below is me holding the fresh Kielbasa aloft in all my triumphant double chinned glory.
There was a moment where it seemed like the new propane tank wasn't going to work and that the barbeque would lack actual grilling, but that crisis was averted.
In addition to three different kinds of sausage, I also made burgers, cole slaw, and some dips.
Burgers and sausage, huzzah!
The roommate fixed some very tasty beverages with the aid of the coconut rum I brought back with me from the Bahamas.
Thumbs up!
The roommate's lady friend brought her dog over, and Brutus came with CPM and R. So there was a good dog presence.
CPM also brought the fixings for sangria.
While S. brought ice cream cupcakes and red velvet cupcakes.
Later in the evening there were quite dramatic thunder and lightning clouds on display before turning to torrential rains. We took the rain as an opportunity to play beer drinking games in the living room.
And that's just what we did. A good evening I think.