Saturday, August 30, 2008

Home Cooking....Dad's home to be exact

It's always nice to get back to the beach in NJ. Dad and Lucy have a house 1/2 a block off Main St., and about 8 blocks from the beach. Klein's Fish Market is a few blocks away too. Needless to say, Dad is a frequent flyer there and gets good deals on fresh goodies.
Clams and shrimp before throwing them on the grill. These were splashed with a little olive oil, tossed with minced garlic, and topped with some chardonnay, salt and pepper.
Dad was kind enough to break out one of his French futures wines. He's got a decent collection of French and Italians. This particular bottle was an '05 Sansonnet Cab. Very nice. We followed that up with an '05 Paradux Marriage. Different than the French Cab, but still a nice bottle.
Look at the size of that cow! These were tasty. I messed up and got them a little closer to medium than I would have liked as I wasn't used to his grill. That thing kicks out some serious BTU's. I think it's a DCS. I've stood over many grills in my years in many kitchens and on many patios and I was having trouble standing close enough to turn the steaks over when all the burners were on. Yowza.

So, needless to say, it was a tasty trip home. I've got one more restaurant to post about from this trip before I get back to posting about DC Metro spots again. The post will be about a restaurant named Sunsets in Belmar.

Until next time......thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Klein's Fish Market on the River

If you're ever in Belmar on the Jersey shore, one place you should make time for is Ollie Klein's Fish Market.

It's more than a market, it's actually a couple of restaurants and a fish market all operated by the same folks. There is a market to the far left, then a very casual restaurant directly behind it along the inlet, and another restaurant to the right that is a little more upscale.

They all focus on the seafood. It couldn't be more convenient for them to get it fresh as they're less than 1/2 a mile away from the Belmar Marina where fresh fish comes in almost hourly.

We ate at the very casual portion of the operation. We had just driven a couple of hours from Upper Greenwood Lake and needed some lunch before we went to Dad's at the beach. Cheryl had the fried clam sandwich.

Got enough clams on that? It was good. The clams were fried just long enough. These are not the full-bellied clams you might see at some other places. Some prefer those, but I don't like them on my fried clams, only on the grilled or broiled clams.
I had the sushi combo with a nice little sake bomb. They were kind enough to ask if I had any preferences on the fish included, but I defered to the chef and said whatever came in today would be fine, though I did request that they give me a spicy tuna roll instead of a California roll. It couldn't have tasted fresher.
The reason for this freshness is visible as you walk through the doors. The market is right there and that is where the restaurants get their fish. It's nice to cut out the middle man and be your own best customer. It never hurts your food cost either.
Here's a view of the display case where you go to pick our your take-home items. The place is clean and the service is friendly. I suggest to anyone that travels in the area to give it a shot.

Happy trails folks. I'm not sure what the next place will be, but you can be sure it will be tasty.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jersey Girl

According to Bruce Springsteen, everything's all right when you're in love with a Jersey Girl.

This is a Jersey Girl, but she's also the manager of The Wooden Spoon in Upper Greenwood Lake, NJ. At her place they serve a sandwich known as The Jersey Girl. They don't call it that, but many other places in NJ do.

We like to get there by boat. It's a short trip from our dock to theirs.

On to the sandwich: a fried egg, four pieces of Taylor brand Pork Roll, and two slices of pasteurized, processed, cheese served on a griddled hard roll.
I can almost smell the cholesterol, but I don't care. If you've never had one of these, it's almost worth the drive to NJ. There is something about the Jersey Girl. You can't get it anywhere else. You can buy Taylor Ham in a store in the DC Metro area, but you can't get NJ hardrolls. Much the same as with pizza or bagel dough in the NY/NJ area, there is something in the water that does something with the dough that you won't find anywhere else.
Next time you're in NJ, stop in to one of the small, independent delis you see and ask for a Taylor Ham Egg and Cheese. I suggest a little mayo, but the default way to serve this is with salt, pepper and ketchup. When you get your cup of joe with that they'll ask you if you want it light and sweet. Go with what you will, but remember that everything's all right when you're in love with a Jersey Girl.

Next post will be about a trip to Ollie Kline's on the water in Belmar. Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Welcome to Bobolink Dairy in Vernon, NJ. You won't find it if you're not looking for it.

I lived within ten miles of this place for several years, but had never bothered to follow the sign off route 94 until I saw Tony Bourdain's NJ show. I figured I'd check it out for myself.

Nice picture of a rustic setting. This was located on the way up to the pigs pen.

This is Rennie. He's a very friendly dog who roams around the farm and keeps everyone in check. If you e-mail me the scientific name for the condition of having different colored eyes you'll win a prize!
This is one of the fabulous bakers. They were good for humoring me as I intruded on their workspace. Notice the wood fired brick oven in the background.
When these folks get ready to slaughter a pig, you'd better be on their e-mail list and act quickly. From what I understand the meat goes in about twenty minutes.
This is me in front of the main building which houses the cheese making equipment and the retail counter.

Last but not least, this is what the experience is about. A nice slice of cheese, a cold glass of wine, and a piece of bread crafted by artisans. This particular loaf was chiabata with garlic roasted in duck fat. Now THAT was tasty.

So, here's the scoop. Organic is good. Check out their website. These are good people. They love their animals and treat them humanely. Their stuff is a little more expensive than what you find in your local grocery, but it's got more character. It's got flavor. It's not homogenized, iradiated, whipped, pulped, machined, or dumbed down. Support your local growers. I'll step off my soap box now.

My next blog will be about another favorite you'll only find in New Jersey, the Jersey Girl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sesto Senso

Hello folks. I'm back from a vacation and trying to catch up on my postings. Before I left for NJ I had the pleasure of enjoying a Restaurant Week lunch at Sesto Senso. It's friendly, inviting, and dark. The staff is gracious and the food is good. If you haven't had a chance to try it, I'd suggest you make time. It's worth the trip.

I started out with some sauteed calamari. It was done properly. Not too chewy.

This was followed up with veal scallopini with a wild mushroom sauce and grilled polenta rounds. The sauteed spinach was tasty as well.

Dessert was nicely done as well. Not the prettiest Tiramisu I've ever seen, but it did taste good. The family that owns this restaurant also owns the Darlington House (FKA Childe Harold) and have been doing good things up there as well. I'll have to give their new place a shot soon.

Thanks for reading folks. As always, questions/comments are welcome.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

U Lah Lah...Ulah Bistro's Restaurant Week Lunch

I had the opportunity to dine at one of my favorite neighborhood joints the other day. Ulah Bistro. Below is a copy of their "Restaurant Week" menu.
Restaurant Week Menu
The salad was interesting, but it didn't hit the mark for me.
The calamari my friend ordered did. Very nicely done.

The mussels I had were done nicely. The sauce was excellent. The bread you see on the side was more like a white pizza than dipping bread. Very tasty.

For dessert, the Key Lime Cheesecake. Not too heavy, not too sweet.

If you've never been to Ulah Bistro, it's worth a shot. It's right across from Ben's Chili Bowl on U St. N.W. The prices are reasonable and the food is good. They have a lounge upstairs that's nice for cocktails. I'm not sure what the late-night scene there is like, so you'll have to let me know if you go.

Thanks for reading. My next adventure will be Sesto Senso, followed by a trip to my home state, New Jersey. I'm hoping to hit some good seafood places while I'm at the beach.
Until next time.....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Got any better way to spend a Saturday?

I sure can't think of a better way than spending some time with your friends and your new smoker!

These are some chilis I grew on my deck. They were supposed to be big Anaheims, but they must have put the wrong label in the pot at Behnke's. These were small, and hotter than Georgia asphalt in August. So, what did I do with them? Threw them in a pot with some garlic and olive oil. Throw in a dash of kosher salt and some pepper, put them in your processor for a few minutes and you've got fresh pepper sauce to mix with your South Carolina BBQ sauce for the ribs.
Speaking of ribs, we rubbed these with some Kansas City Rub from Steven Raichlen.Threw the ribs in my new Masterbuilt smoker (a gracious Father's Day gift from my wife) for 5 hours at 225 degrees (wrap them in foil after the first 3-1/2 to hours) and....

Et Voila!. Falling off the bone, but still holding together enough that they can be moved to your plate.
Since the smoker was already going, I threw in a trout I picked up at River Falls Seafood in Potomac. A little Old Bay, fresh cracked black pepper, and Kosher salt makes a fine seasoning for fish in the smoker.

Then you invite a couple of friends (Chris and Lauren) who enjoy good food & wine, next thing you know it's a party. Luckily no one had their camera out when we were playing Sing-Star (PS3's version of Karaoke) at 1:00am that night.
Thanks for reading. Questions about the food? Preparation? Wines? Feel free to ask.
Until next time.....which will be a review of a Restaurant Week lunch at Ulah Bistro.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What would you ask a chef if you had the chance?

Time for a little user input folks. Just wondering what five questions you would want answers to if you had the chef's attention for that long.
The obvious, what's your favorite dish, when did you first realize that this was the life for you, yada, yada, yada, should be skipped. We want questions you're not likely to hear answers to in the Post.
You'll get props on the blog if you submit a question that makes it to my standard interview form.
All submissions are welcome.
Thank you.

Friday, August 8, 2008

PS7....Why didn't anyone tell me about this place?

Here I am with William Morris, Executive Sous Chef. He's actually much friendlier than he looks. Apparently Peter Smith, Owner and Exec Chef, was out of the country during my visit.
We started with two different types of bread. A cottage cheese and dill roll as well an apple-smoked bacon biscuit.
This is a shot of the Tuna Sliders...nice presentation. The sauces were good as well. this dish had just enough kick to remind you that this was something a little different. I won't pretend I know what kind of peppers were in the sauces, but they were good. Not just heat, but flavor.
The steak salad was tasty. A little heavy on the dressing, but the steak itself was good-quality aged sirloin.
My dining companion Jason had the house-made mini-hot dogs which were served with very thin and tasty potato straws as well as a pepper relish, ketchup, and mustard.

So, what were the bathrooms like? Very tasteful. I like the whole place. It's very contemporary. It's got Star Trek doors to the kitchen. I look forward to returning for dinner soon.

Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming. See you next time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Electric Palm..Come for the view

Come for a drive down route 95 and you may run into The Electric Palm in Woodbridge. This place was formerly known as The Eagles' Nest. If you don't believe me, the life-sized nest, eagles intact, still sits outside. It's just off the highway on the river. The restaurant is a sturdy affair built on steel pilings that were pounded into the hillside for foundation and run straight up through the restaurant.
This location is basically an amenity to the well-heeled folks who dock their various water craft here. This also happens to be the busiest Sea Ray dealership in the country.
The patio is very nice, but on this particular day it was too hot for any of the tables in the restaurant to sit outside.
Finally, to the food. It had been a while since the chicken on this salad clucked. Everything except the lettuce tasted pretty canned, most noticably the oranges and the noodles. Not great, but it probably won't hurt you. I saw some other folks who were more adventurous and ordered clams and mussells. Hope everything worked out for them.

Until next time.....which will be lunch at The District's PS7.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ly & Sly Lial are opening Sea Pearl Soon...get the insider view

Ly and Sly decided to open a restaurant on their own named Sea Pearl. It's big and it's beautiful. It was going to be named Blue Salt, but there was already another guy who had a place locally with Salt in the know how that goes.
Anyhow, Sly was the Exec Chef at Sequoia on the waterfront. He knows about pumping out food. Ly is one of the famed sisters of Four Sisters. Four Sisters is a perennial Washingtonian Top 100 and Best Cheap Eats places. They closed the original in Falls Church and are opening a new one about a 9 iron from Sea Pearl. They still have the building in Falls Church but will be converting it to a bakery/qsr site if my memory serves me correctly.
Based on the care they took in selecting their furnishings, architecture and vendors, I'm sure Sea Pearl will be something to talk about. Let me take you on a pre-opening tour below.

Ly and Dave (one of my guys)

This is what a restaurant looks like about two weeks before it opens. This is a BIG place.

Large entry foyer. Note the mother of pearl tiles in the ceiling.

This is the lounge.
View from the lounge towards the foyer.
BIG Kitchen. The brackets on the ceiling will support the Kitchen Display Units.

It's great when people care enough about their technology to put tarps over it!

Until next time....which will be a review of The Electric Palm in Woodbridge.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Return to America, and Redwood

Redwood's "Soft Opening" dinner menu

H'ola. The Doctor is in. Back from Mexico and ready to start posting again. Just before I left I had lunch with a friend at Redwood. This was my first excursion to eat here and I was looking forward to it.

We started out with an assorted cheese plate and some country pate. I was starving and forgot to take a picture of the first course, so you'll just have to deal with your imagination for a few seconds.

Brian had the Tarragon Egg Salad with smoked salmon on Spring Mill organic white bread. Nicely done. The presentation was nice and the sandwich itself wasn't skimpy.

I had the Vande Rose Farm Flat Iron Steak with braised wild greens and house-made steak sauce.

This was excellent. The steaksauce and steak were great, but the surprise award winner of the lunch was the braised greens. Just crunchy, salty, meaty enough.

We shared a side of the Baked Macaroni & Cheese Gratin. It was nice. Not too heavy, not too light. The cheese was mild and the breadcrumbs were crunchy and buttery.
To finish things off, I had to try the Frozen Goat Cheese Souffle. This was an interesting dessert. The texture says souffle, but the taste and temperature have your mouth wondering if you got it right.

Two people who do have it right, (with a lot of help from others) are Jared and Eli, the owners. I think that once the opening kinks are smoothed out that you'll have a place that's very comfortable to eat in or just go for cocktails, and you'll always be able to find something local and fresh on the menu. Don't forget to check the wine list.

Until next time....