Monday, September 13, 2010

A Cuban Adventure

Alas, it has been too long since our last posts, but believe me we have been trying to find something to write home about. My co-conspirator, Danielle, informed me last Wednesday of the new tapas restaurant that has opened on Market Street and it sounded exciting. Danielle brought over a menu that same evening and we pored over the delicious sounding selections. It had been decided that we would invite our friends and venture down to Habana Blues on Saturday.

It was a pleasant stroll down the street to this new-found Cuban restaurant and we were greeted by lovely staff members. The menu had promising choices and we all ordered an array of different tapas. I ordered a somallilo and the sesame tuna as a starter for Danielle and me. The tuna was well-cooked with a cool pink center and the plate offered pickled ginger and mandarin oranges to clean our palates and small swirls of garlic mayonnaise. The only suggestion I would offer is either more sauce or a sauce more based in soy.

Danielle and I both ordered the somallilo, which was a beautifully cooked, large beef medallion topped with blue cheese atop mashed potatoes and finished with a red wine reduction. The meat was cooked to a tender medium, the salty yet creamy blue cheese crumbles complemented this juicy meat. The potatoes made everything familiar and rich alongside the drizzle of wine reduction. I certainly could have eaten more of this delectable dish!

Unfortunately, my fellow diners were not so thrilled with their selections. My husband, Shane, ordered the Cubano sandwich that comes on Cuban bread, roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese, and mustard all pressed like a panini. When I tasted it, I thought it was quite good, but Shane later reported that there was a large piece of gristle and it lost flavor over the course of his meal. His "bocadito" (small sandwich) came with sweet potato fries and a smoked honey dipping sauce. I am personally no fan of sweet potatoes but I found these fries crisp and fluffy with no greasiness, however the smoked honey dipping sauce was not as pleasant. Our friend Liz enjoyed her guacamole and plantain chips only to be greeted later by a pitiful piece of chicken on a skewer that would not let go. While she reported her chicken tasted good, most of it stuck to the skewer and for one piece of chicken with the price tag of $7.50 it was just not worth the effort.

Both Shane and Liz had some wonderful mojitos that had a great sweetness from the mint and tartness from the lime and our friend Josh had some beautiful fluffy chicken empanadas. We did finish the evening with churros that came with a chocolate ganache. I felt that we waited longer than necessary for this (albeit there was a large party they were entertaining that evening in the front dining room) but the churros tasted warm and sugary and chocolate is always nice, but for $4.50 for five 3 inch churros I could have made them at home.

I would say that the food and drink tasted great and was only met with a disappointingly high price tag and not much food to even share with one another. The service was a bit slow since there was a large party in the front dining room and we could tell our waitstaff was inexperienced with there being long waits, uncleared dishes, and unrefilled drinks. I also lament that I must also report we had to eat some snacks later as many of us were still hungry. I still have high hopes for this place as I do love tapas and downtown New Albany needs cultural fusion such as this. I just hope the prices or quantities become more reasonable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Local Treats

Please excuse the tardiness in my posting. It has been many weekends since Danielle, Shane and I started this blog and I have let time get away from me. Believe me, there have been many things to write about, such as English bacon flavored potato chips, hot sauces with names that are too explicit to record, and new local eateries.

First things first, Shane, Danielle and I went to a new place in town called La Bocca. Its tag line is that it is authentic Italian cuisine. With there also being an opening of a new artsy craft store this past Saturday, we all decided to make a night of it. The new store, The Dandy Lion, was very cute and had many unique wares that the younger crowd would enjoy; especially since the downtown area is re-inventing itself. La Bocca, however, was less inspirational to me.

I hate to be so persnickety, but I did not care for the service. It is not that the staff was not polite, it was that they did not seem experienced from seating guests to bringing a check. Danielle and I both had spaghetti and meatballs, which were good. The marinara was very light in taste and not overpowered by excessive herbs. The marinara barely covered the pasta, which made it easy to see that La Bocca knows how to make a good al dente. I also enjoyed the meatballs as they were plentiful on my plate and firm. Danielle and I do suggest that they do need to make their meatballs with a fattier meat and perhaps diversifying the ingredients in them. Nonetheless, I finished my meal.

Shane on the other hand had a lovely looking baked ziti. Everything looked wonderful on the outside, but I am sorry to report that it had no taste. When I tried it all I could taste were the noodles (which were cooked perfectly). This is sad as the dish has great potential. La Bocca has some great sounding dishes and their shortfalls can be easily fixed, so no worries.

I would try La Bocca again and I encourage others to do so also. This place is new and needs the community's support to make it a great staple in the downtown area. Perhaps our suggestions will help us become a part of it and shape it into a step away from Italy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Papaya Adventure

First, it should be said that during spring, summer, and early fall, I can usually be found buying my fruits and veggies from the New Albany Farmer's Market or picking my own at Huber's. I find that the more I get involved with picking my own veggies, or learning about them from the local farmers the more I want to eat them. Plus, it helps out the local economy, and it tastes so much better than the stuff you get in stores.

This week I decided I was going to try out something a little different. At this point in the summer I have eaten more than my fair share, of peaches, watermelon, and berries so I decided to head to the grocery store for something different. I ended up with pineapple, mango, and papaya. I am pretty familiar with pineapple and mango, but I have only seen fresh papaya prepared on TV.

It was time to get acquainted with a real, non-TV edited papaya. I started off this adventure by watching Bobby Flay break down papayas on Iron Chef. It looked easy enough for him so why wouldn't it be easy for me too? The papaya I picked out was rather large and mostly yellow. I was told this is what a ripe papaya should look like. I cut into the papaya lengthwise which was pretty easy, in fact it was a lot like cutting through butter. The inside was filled with small, soft, black, seeds that I scooped out just like I would a cantaloupe of honeydew. I am pretty sure you can actually use these seeds for something, but I was a bit distracted by the fruit in front of me so I ended up throwing them away. The fruit is a nice pink/orange color. It is meaty, but pretty soft at the same time. My next project was getting the skin off of the papaya. The skin is not thick like a melon's skin, but thin, almost like that of a peach or nectarine. I tried to use a veggie peeler, but that failed almost immediately because the fruit was just too big and oddly shaped. I ended up carefully peeling it with my knife. After this I chopped the fruit up into bite sized pieces and mixed them up with the mango and pineapple. There is a reason why these fruits get paired together so often. The mango and pineapple are quite sweet so they go well with the kind of musky flavor the papaya offers. Not to mention each of them have a different texture which makes for an interesting fruit salad!

All in all the papaya made for an interesting retreat from some of the local produce, and it wasn't too difficult to handle! -Danielle

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Splendid Time is Guaranteed for All

Sage gnocchi is how it started for me and then I dragged the others into it. Charleston, South Carolina's restaurant Circa 1886, behind the Wentworth Mansion, and their special three course dinner. The gnocchi was a side with my lusciously sliced bourbon brined pork tenderloin, crunchy rainbow chard, and sweet caramelized shallots and it came in a palm-sized skillet on my plate.

I saved the sage gnocchi for last after everything else was eaten and my husband thought I did not like it. I told him that I was saving the best for last and proceeded to close my eyes and revel in it. It was soft, creamy, and so warm that I imagined myself eating it at home underneath my favorite blanket. I then knew that our love for eating needed to be shared.-Rose

Well, who can follow that kind of description? For me, it's all about making the food. I love making and baking then having my friends and family over to enjoy what I create. It's awesome how food can bring people together. Sometimes it is as simple as baking cookies or making a few appetizers, then having a little party. It usually ends in laughter, bad jokes, and plans for some other activity.

This blog isn't only about food, it's also about what's going on in good ole Kentuckiana. There always seems to be a band playing, exhibit showing, or someone driving the wrong way on a one way street. Hey, sometimes with a bad economy you just have to make due with regular everyday occurrences! Until the next everyday occurrence -Danielle

So, yeah I am the guy who is married to that first girl. I am one of those unfortunates who got dragged into this blog by my wife and good ole neighbor. I am one of those many college graduates who can't get a job because who would've guessed getting a teaching job would be a two year endeavor. I am now stuck in a crazy job trying to understand what married life is supposed to be like. I am a true lover of foods except for tomatoes. I also enjoy a good drink; not getting drunk, but enjoying the many different types of beverages that are out there.

Though the ladies in this blog are going to explain their views about food I am going to focus on the sweets, beverages, and the stuff that guys like - keep your mind out of the gutter!

So here I am enjoying a Newcastle thinking about the next adventure that I plan to embark upon. Will it be a new food, a new drink, or a new activity that will involve my fun interests of music, golf, auto racing, or any of those other guy things.-Shane