Archive for the 'Cheese' Category

The Giving of the Thanks: Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Breakfast was no joke. They were right. We arrived Friday morning back at the house, pretty much completely recovered and I for one was absolutely ready to fully and completely enjoy the food without the sickening aftereffects of a hangover getting in the way.

I grabbed a plate and got in line, watching as airy biscuits were loaded with smooth sausage gravy, slices of crisp bacon and spoonfuls of fluffy scrambled eggs landed on plate after empty plate. I was instructed that it was standard practice and tradition to reserve one biscuit to be spread with butter and jam, just to balance out the savory flavors and saltiness of the meaty breakfast meats. (Little known fact: “country ham”  is just code for “even saltier ham”). The sweet biscuit was almost a breakfast dessert, which I was grateful for after polishing off the remainder of the sodium-laden meal.

The Friday after Thanksgiving finally graced us with a little sunshine, so as the little kids were ushered off to go to a movie, the rest of us decided to go hang out at B.’s uncle’s farm and ride around on ATV’s and just be generally awesome. B.’s Uncle R. is a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. I mean, the man breeds Australian shepherd puppies, raises and slaughters his own pigs, and makes his own moonshine. Moonshine! I was instantly charmed. I’ve been known to be somewhat of a moonshine enthusiast, though when it comes to actually trying the stuff I generally pretend I’m getting sick and probably shouldn’t be sharing glasses with people but thanks anyway.  B. and M.. clearly being braver men than I, sampled the blackberry flavor and assured me it was eminently delicious.

At one point, I found myself in the kitchen as Uncle R. whipped up a batch of margaritas. I found this beverage choice to be amusingly incongruous with my surroundings, and chuckled inwardly as B.’s uncles sipped pink blended drinks out of palm tree-shaped margarita glasses and gathered around the TV; grunting, watching football, and talking about what could be done to fix one of the broken-down ATVs. One of these things is not like the other.

Eventually, the ATV got fixed and off we went. I clung tightly to B.’s ribcage as we jostled our way across the rough terrain of the Kentuckian hills, following B.’s cousin closely over enormous logs and through dense thickets of trees.

“Watch out for the twigs, they’ll getcha right in the face!” B.’s cousin warned, and I decided it might just be best to bury my face in B.’s back until this ride was over, not wanting to risk a poked-out eye or a slashed face. It was actually a really beautiful day for this, and as we climbed up the hills behind Uncle R.’s house, I looked out across the landscape and marveled at the rolling fields and crooked little houses with smoke unfurling from their chimneys. It was like a postcard.

Our off roading adventure led us back to the house where we’d eaten breakfast that morning and dinner the night before. I had to get off the back of the vehicle so B. could urge the thing over a small creek and up a steep and muddy incline. “My work here is done!” I declared, dismounting the ATV, deciding things like this were better left to the menfolk to deal with. I then promptly got entangled in a bunch of thistles, from which it  took me about ten minutes to extract myself. Serves me right, I guess.

The rest of the evening was spent grazing on leftovers and fiddling with the color on the TV, which somehow had become stuck on the greener end of the color spectrum. We then went back to the cousin’s house where I got solidly whooped in both Taboo and Cranium. I blame the pinot grigio.

The next morning we were to depart for our final stop: Louisville.

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Province: it’s a good thing.

I think Province never had a chance in hell of making it into the “omg this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten” category, strictly because it came directly after our kickass L2O dining victory of champions. FDL was still humming from that decadence, and quite honestly everything I’ve eaten since that meal has paled in comparison. Clearly it’s unfair to compare; it would be like comparing 1994 Michael Jordan to 2010 Hanes-hawkin’ wife-cheatin’ bald head-rubbin’ Michael Jordan. Or something.

Was Province good? Absolutely. Would I go back again? Mehh…hrmm..probably not. I think part of it has to do with the location;  on Jefferson a few blocks north of Randolph. Not that it’s a bad location by any means, but there’s something about that area of the city that feels industrial and empty and totally devoid of charm. 5:00 hits and everyone vanishes. There’s no one on the streets, and it’s slightly creepy. Part of what I love about dining out is the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood and being able to sit and watch people come and go and maybe talk some smack about tragic outfits. The location of Province afforded none of that, and outside of the people also dining in the restaurant, I’m not sure I even saw anyone else on the street that night.

All that aside, Province is really a beautiful-looking space. It’s mainly neutrally-gray painted save for a few accent walls that pop with bright magenta and a cluster of upside-down hanging trees. There’s a private dining area partially sequestered behind a wall of wine bottles and a glass door, and a wide, open, covered outdoor patio. We opted to eat inside due to J. feeling under the weather and also to get a better sense of the nature of the service. M. rushed to check out the bathroom and reported bamboo counters and fancy toilets, and our server handed us menus affixed to brightly-colored clipboards. I have to deduct cool points for the puzzle-like nature of the menu. It’s divided up into way too many sections (seven altogether, not including dessert), based mostly on the size of the dish, and while I understand it’s meant to inspire sharing we just wound up having to ask our server to explain the way most people utilized the menu. It did provide an option for half portions though, which I found convenient.

Province’s food is ostensibly American with Latin-infused elements, but I felt the menu lacked a certain cohesion. Some dishes were a direct reflection of the combination of American and Latin influences; like the softshell crab  bisque with sweet peppers and piquillos, or the house cured & smoked Arctic char ceviche with olives, preserved lemons, and fried capers. On the other hand, there were items on the menu with Asian inflections such as the seared Hawaiian tuna with baby bok choy.  In fact, that’s what I went with for my dinner selection. The tuna was cooked perfectly, with that light crunchy sear on the outer edges but buttery and nearly raw on the inside.

The other dishes on our table that night ranged from a heavy, nearly wintery filet paired with velvety blue cheese mashed potatoes to a sweet, tangy mis0-glazed salmon. I think on the whole we were all satisfied with our dishes, but no one was completely floored. The standout for me was an appetizer we all shared; a lightly crisp softshell crab, sweet and crunchy.

I totally dig Province’s vibe. They’re big on eco-friendly, sustainable shit, locally farmed ingredients, the whole shebang. I’m into it. However, there was a certain….soul that I felt was lacking from the operation. The menu didn’t exactly align with the sparse, clean decor of the interior, nor did the menu even correlate with itself in many respects.

Onward and upward. Province is in my rearview mirror and I’m looking forward to our next adventure, a meal at Top Cheftestant Stephanie Izzard’s Girl and the Goat

 Stay hungry my friends.

The Stringier, The Better

Let’s be honest: how delicious is string cheese? Seriously, there’s like a mere handful of foods that lend themselves to being played with (who among us hasn’t made a mashed potato volcano?), and string cheese is by far my favorite. There is, however, a painfully easy way to ruin string cheese: by making it “low fat”. It turns into a rubbery, chewy, flavorless log of proccessed cheese food, AND, to make things WORSE, it doesn’t even string properly! You can tear off little hunks here and there, but that satisfying feeling of peeling off one long, perfectly proportioned strip has completely gone out the window.

I am not an advocate of foods that are low fat, lactose-free, low sodium, sugar-free, sugarless, and so on and so forth. It totally negates the whole reason you’re eating food in the first place: because it TASTES GOOD. There are those who, for whatever reason, cannot regularly indulge in full-fat or salty foods, and I understand. It is important to take care of your health. BUT. If you’re a healthy, young, active person, why not take advantage of the butter-filled pastries, the frosted cupcakes, the fatty meats? Do you really enjoy that low-carb no fat no salt high-fiber tofurkey wrap with soy cheese and sprouts?

I’ll illustrate my point with this little anecdote involving sugar-free gummi bears and the havoc they wreaked on my intestinal tract. I was at Treasure Island, the most European grocery store in America, and plopped what I thought was a container of Haribo gummi bears in my basket. I didn’t read the label closely (are you starting to sense a pattern here? I am not a careful grocery shopper) and instead brought home a crapload of sugar-free gummi candies. Mindlessly, I popped the bears into my mouth as I absorbed hours of crap TV. The container was half empty and I was starting to feel….not good. Soon, I was hit with wave after wave of the most insane stomach cramping I’ve ever felt. I lay curled on my side on the couch, clutching my stomach and wishing I could throw up or something, just to ease the torture. This went on almost all night, even after two doses of Pepto and four chalky Tums. It wasn’t until the next day that I noticed the “sugar free” label on the plastic box, which reminded me that my family does not tolerate artifical sweeteners well. I Googled “gummi bear stomach pain” and was faced with page after page of similar agonizing experiences that occurred after chowing down on some sugar-free gummi bears. Apparently the sugar substitute used in these products is Lycasin, which is known to cause gastrointestinal distress.

This is why I stick to the real stuff, people. Real sugar ain’t never give me no trouble.