Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Suds for Buds

Beerheads is having a night of beer tastings and food this Thursday, 25 Feb 2010 at the General Lafayette Inn in Lafayette Hill. Proceeds benefit the PSPCA.

Worth the trip up Germantown Pike form Mt Airy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seabass Latkas with Roasted Tomato Coulis

This was inspired by a recipe from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (sorry world, but I do think Guy Fieri is cool), some leftover mashed potatoes, and from Latka’s that were a special at McMenamin’s.

First I went to Groben’s to see what looked good. Unfortunately, everything here ALWAYS looks good. I got this nice sea bass.

Then, I mixed together leftover mashed potatoes, some rice, an egg, and salt and pepper to form a sticky paste,


and slathered this on one side of the fish. Sear the paste side first until golden.


For the coulis, I roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, a few fresh thyme stems, and a few thai peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper.


Roast in a 450 degree oven for about 35 minutes (preheat the pan – it helps). Let the veggies get nice and roasted, almost burnt-looking in a few spots, as this gives a richer roasted/smokey flavor, particularly to the tomatoes. Whir.


Plate and enjoy.

Say hello to Seabass Latkas with Roasted Tomato Coulis. Meat Mt Airy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Camera Help

Hello World, I take my pictures shown in this blog on a Fujifilm Finepix J10 8.2 megapixel digital camera. Admittedly, I have little to no photography experience. Still, using the autofocus/autoflash features of this camera, I often get blurry shots or ones that are under or over exposed. I usually take half a dozen shots just to get one that turns out OK-ish. Is this because the camera is low-end, because I am not taking advantage of the features of the camera, or both? I welcome comments on suggestions for new cameras or ways of more fully utilizing the one I currently have. Thanks.

Pork Tostados

One of the best recipes I've had in awhile, this month's Cooks Illustrated has a fantastic recipe for pork tostados. Leftovers? What leftovers??

More Bear: Steak

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stephen Starr Strike 1: Buddakan

The ever-popular Philly Restaurant Week is a great time to try a new kitchen with friends – get a table and have everyone order something different off of the smaller yet representative menu. So it was this past week at Buddakan, Starr’s “Modern Asian Cuisine” hot spot at 4th and Chestnut. A night of promising hipness and modern culinary twists on already exotic flavors! Sounds promising.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures. That’s okay though, as it is difficult for me to discuss the food preparations over such lacking attention to detail. I know, Mr. Starr, Restaurant Week is a busy time. Yet still, this is supposed to be one of the great restaurants in the U.S., let alone in the city. And yet you still attempt to serve me water in a dirty glass? And what about the silverware?  The tines of my fork were askew, and the handle of my spoon was bent and re-bent into a classic study of trigonomical sinusoidalness. This is not the place setting at a fine dining establishment – it is a literal replication of fifth grade cafeteria accoutrement. That only works well at dada exhibitions.

I could bypass these minor oversights, but they carried over into the food. The grilled octopus appetizer was luke-cold. The “Sizzling” short rib was not short-rib tender, but more pot roast in texture. The Asian Caesar salad was plainly forgettable.

The only two items of note during the first 2 courses were the Tea Smoked Spare Ribs and the Hot and Sour Scallops. The ribs were soaked with a deep smoky flavor of tea; the sauce beneath the scallops was indeed intensely sweet and sour, yet cut nicely by the sweetness of the corn.

The rock out portion of the meal came with desert. We tried each of the three offerings; all were playful and light. I could eat a dozen of the Dim Sum donuts, and the dipping sauces allowed for a fun, interactive moment. The cinnamon ice cream accompanying the carrot cake was simply perfect.

Yet, the great dessert did not fully make up for the rest of the shortcomings. Perhaps my expectations were too high. However, this is Philly. There are so many other great restaurants, why bother with one that overpromises and underperforms?

Mr. Starr, I know you are, even now, looking to expand your empire. Yet before coming out to Chestnut Hill, perhaps consider fortifying your existing culinary castles.

Note that fining dining is not merely a capitalist manufacturing enterprise. Buddakan felt like a conveyor belt, with each worker adding another cog to the widget (one person taking your order, another bringing your drinks from the bar, another bringing out your food, another filling your water glass, another replacing silverware between courses . . .). It lacked coherence. If this is how you conceive of a dinner, you lack the understanding that a night out is more than this reductionistic sum of parts.

Meat Buddakan. Save the Regional Rail fare; stay in Mt Airy.