Monthly Archives: March 2011

It’s been a while

We just got back from our first cruise!  We absolutely loved every moment of it, spent with friends and family eating our lives away and sunning out winter-white bodies in the sun.

Lots to catch up on– I still haven’t written my review on Joel Rubuchon!  Luckily the cruise prepared dinner meals and all-you-can-eat buffets left a bit to be desired so not much blogging to do there.  I will have to document our trip to the Fish Fry on Arawak Cay in Nassau, however.

In the meantime, I wanted to note something from my trip to Las Vegas.  Have you ever been to Restaurant.com?  While having a peach margarita at Aureole, I met an awesome girl from California who was also in sales.  She was enjoying a quick meal at the bar and we got to talking.  Turns out she works in sales for Restaurants.com and it’s a similar offering to Groupon or LivingSocial.  I checked it out when I got home and there are a ton of local restaurants offering vouchers for as much as 70% off of their fares.  Check it out.

More soon!!

Restaurant Jaunts: Fleur Las Vegas

I was underwhelmed as I set out for my reservations on Monday night.  I was sans husband, a measly ol party of one and feeling too buttoned up and preppy for the glitzy Vegas scene.  I decided to treat myself and my aching feet to a cab ride down to Mandalay Bay, hoping that Hubert Keller would make me feel better.

Imagine West Elm decor minus the halogen lights and mass produced feel. Fleur was dimly lit by a million votive candles and antler pendants, complete with driftwood orb chandelier in the front.  I understand it’s recently undergone a transformation, a shift made necessary by a recovering economy and increasing requests for more casual dining options.  The price point was totally doable, with small plates ranging from $10-25; ‘cept for maybe the Wagyu burger with foie gras, truffles and champagne for a mere $5000 or the entire-menu tasting for $450.

You know it’s going to be a good night when you see one of your favorite whites on the wine list, that was my first clue.  One glass of Guy Saget Sancerre, please.  At the recommendation of the waiter, I ordered the tuna tacos to start.  Usual suspects – jalapeno, lime and cilantro.  Was I kidding myself?  How overdone is ahi and how many places have played the fish taco tune.  Much to my total surprise (because by now I’ve rethought my choice and was more than cynical about the upcoming plate) I fell in complete and utter love right then and there.  There were three tiny hard tacos (maybe two inches big), with the most perfect cut of ahi, the thinnest slice of jalapeno and a cilantro creme sauce that was TDF (to die for).  I think I inhaled them?  That dish set the refined, refreshing and totally restrained stage for the rest of the night.

Next up, my lovely waiter suggested the crab and avocado spheres.  Again I was thinking ‘this is not what I came here for.’  That pairing sounds way too buttery and not packed with enough taste; I was here to push my palette for christ’s sake.  But, logic got the best of me and dear waiter has steered me in the right direction before, so go ahead – bring on the spheres.  BAM.  Again.  The perfect combination of restraint and flavor.  A crab and diced red pepper mixture that mimicked an unfried crab cake, covered in slices of avocado, topped with French gray sea salt sitting in a bath of watermelon gazpacho.  This was seriously vying for contention with the tuna tacos.  BTW – it all seems so very California circa 1998, doesn’t it?  Seeing these items on the menu got me thinking it would be a very boring night.  I love to be wrong, especially about food!

At this point, I’m putty in my waiter’s hands.  “Anything you recommend, dear sir, I will try! So what’s next??”  He recommended the skirt steak with chimmichurri sauce.  Really?  It’s that good? Alright, let’s go ahead and get one of those please.  WAHOOOO, I hit the jackpot here!  This was the most perfectly done skirt steak I’ve ever had, and to top it off, I could cut it with my fork.  This isn’t supposed to be happen with skirt steak.  To the left was a single fingerling topped with creme fraiche and chives.  A lovely restrained play on a baked potato.  To the right, a salad of heirloom tomatoes, red onions and oil and vinegar.  All together with the steak and chimmichurri, it was the perfect meat and potato dish. I couldn’t believe the good fortune I was having.

[thank goodness for foodmakesmehappy.com which happened to have awesome documentation of this dish!]

To round out the night, I finished with a course of three creme brulees.  I am a sucker for anything lavender, so long as it’s not mixed with vanilla and packaged as a body creme.  I was in luck as I dove in to this shot-glass trifecta of brulees – honey lavender, Earl Gray and cookie dough.  I could have done without the last one, which was a distant third in taste to it’s predecessors.

I was blown away and starting to get very full, despite the small plates.  I contemplated ordering another tuna taco dish, oh and maybe another crab sphere but then thought better of it.  I’d better leave well enough alone.  Fleur went from underwhelming on paper to completely overwhelming on the tastebuds.   It was the perfect balance of restraint and powerful defined flavors. and the ambience was dripping with romance and quiet confidence.  I must return and I must bring JB.

Wow.

Bags are packed, Reservations Booked

I’m off to Las Vegas for a work trip tomorrow.  I am only mildly excited because Vegas isn’t really my ‘thing.’  The one thing I do look forward to, though, is the food.  I made reservations Monday night at Fleur De Lys by Hubert Keller.  JB and I have been jonesing to try Keller’s creations, I’m just sad he won’t be with me.  Tuesday night… the one, the only Joel Rubuchon –  Chef of the Century,  national enigma in France and pioneer of Michele stars in Vegas.   The only rez I could get (for party of one) is at 10:30pm!  That’s OK, I’ll take it.

Ta Ta for now!

Bulldog’s Gotta Eat – Part Deux

Bulldogs are finicky.  This one in particular.  We started her on EVO – Red Meat as planned and she LOVED it.  Not firing on all cylinders, I just gave her a cup of it, totally forgetting to phase it in and that she has a sensitive tummy (totally unfit mother).  Needless to say, she was sick all night.  A total of seven throw-ups = lesson learned. 

The next morning I started phasing it into her diet mixed with her vegetarian Nature’s Recipe.  Quarter cup new EVO, three-quarters of Nature’s Recipe.  Better, much better.  She was really taking to the new food, I think she loves the taste.  Then after we get to about half and half mixed, she had another episode on Saturday, throwing up all day.   After reading more on this, I believe the protein content is just way too high.  Bulldogs are supposed to get about 20-25% protein per serving (they have shallow bones and low-swung joints so high protein isn’t a good idea for these guys).  EVO has 47%!  No wonder homegirl was loving the taste – that stuff is all meat!

This weekend, if the stars align, I’m going to switch her to EVO’s parent company Innova’s dog food.  Much less protein (22%) and same meat formula. This time, I’ll do it veeeeeeery slowly.  

Fingers crossed and duct-taped that way. 🙂

Mom’s sausage crepes

Sausage crepes are one of our favorite dishes.  There are a handful, ok – two handfuls of recipes that we need Mom to make when we are over for dinner and this is one of them.  I never wanted to learn this recipe because it’s one you just want Mom to make… but I dove in tonight and they turned out scrumptious as usual.

Crepes:

1 cup flour

1.5 cups milk

2 eggs

1 Tbsp butter

1 pinch salt

1 Tsp sugar

Melt butter in non-stick 12″ pan.  Mix all ingredients, whisking lightly (lumps = good, just like with pancakes) and add melted butter in at last-minute.  Butter coating on pan will help prevent sticking when you pour the batter in.  Pour small amount of batter in pan on medium high heat, enough to thinly coat the entire bottom of pan.  Wait to see small bubbles forming and then use a plastic spatula to flip for just a quick flash on the other side.

Filling:

1 lb sausage

1 can cream of mushroom soup

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown sausage over medium high heat.  When completely cooked, add entire can and mix until blended.  Add cheese and allow it to melt into mixture.

Spoon mixture into crepes and roll them up.  Place on plate, seam side down and voile-la!

Restaurant Jaunts: Dank’s Deli

I’ve been going to Dank’s for almost a decade now, on an off .  Fortunately, my husband just got onboard and we’re having a bit of an awakening.  It all started for me while I was riding around hill and dale with a large animal ambulatory vet during college.  We’d see horses all over and inevitably we made it into Middleburg.  While cruising through, the closest thing to fast food in this one stoplight horsey town was Dank’s.  The shining beacon of a quick meals on the go for us vet techs.

I started and pretty much continued with the black bean burger.  I think their grill has to be the ticket – seasoned from years and years of buttering bread and toasting them on the flat top and many a deli-meat caramelized to perfection on that thing.  JB insists on the Double Play and the Little Italy.  Double Play – corned beef, coleslaw, Thousand Island dressing on rye bread.  Little Italy – classic Italian, with hot peppers and amazingness.

I finally gave up on my staple BBB this weekend.  We always stop at Dank’s after the bulldog’s rehab swims and I’ve found that driving was really not conducive to eating a messy burger.  This time, I got a BLT.  I don’t know what it is, because it’s just the same old ingredients in a BLT, but they make the best around (insert JB singing “nothing’severgonnakeepyadown” from Karate Kid).  Try it out.  FOR REAL.

Gourmet Dinner

Tonight, my husband fixed me Hot Pockets for dinner.  This was one of those nights that I was totally happy to have them and am savoring my ham and cheese pocket as I write.

Bon Appetit!

PS – I don’t have a cupcake update from today’s Red Velvet batch, I missed out on the party at work.  Bummer!