Poutine, eh?

18 Oct
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Ain’t it quaint?



I have been to Canada a few times, and I always seek out poutine (and everything maple). While in Ottowa, I was fortunate enough to be close to Smoke’s Poutinerie; a chain of poutine restaurants which dot the Canadian landscape.

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Cool glasses, brah.

This unassuming corner eaterie is open until 4 a.m. on the weekends. Could you ASK for better late night dining after a night out on the Canadian town?

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I don’t know about you, but I’d eat fries at 4 am.

Poutine at its core is a Canadian staple of french fries, gravy, and topped with cheese curds. Looking at poutine, it’s kind of a mess in a box. A DELICIOUS mess in a box.

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POUTIIIIIINNNNEEEEE!

I got the special curry chicken poutine; a beautifully spiced curry chicken gravy on top of crisp, pillowy fries and topped with squishy, salty, creamy cheese curds. The sauce was a cross between a well seasoned curry and a traditional brown gravy. I wouldn’t necessarily approve if this was covering a plate of chicken in an Indian restaurant, but for a poutine, this was exactly what I want (especially if I had been drinking).

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So many options. So many fries.

The gentleman serving me poutine claimed that they were talking about opening a Smokes in New York. PROVE IT. I WILL EAT THERE.

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This is sort of a built in caption.

When in Baltimore….

26 Sep

While in Baltimore, I was on a quest to find some of the most crab filled cakes in the city. After a short jaunt, I found myself at Lexington Market and waded my way through to get to Faidley’s Seafood.

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SO MUCH SEAFOOD SO LITTLE TIME.

 

I’m sure every Baltimore native has his or her own take on where to score the best crustacean cake, but this was a home run for me.

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I like my crab cakes like i don’t like my pancakes; lumpy.

The jumbo lump crab cake was served simply with some lettuce and tomato. The cake was packed with sweet, tender crab. It was well seasoned with hardly any filler. The crab cake is served with a little packet of saltines as if to say, “You want filler? ADD IT YOURSELF, FOOL!” No tartar sauce or cocktail sauce is really necessary when a crab cake is this full of flavor.

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Spotted!

 

I also ordered a back fin crab cake, made with meat that is not as flawless as a jumbo lump crab cake. It was tasty, but just not as unctuous and sweet as its big brother. I definitely did not leave this establishment feeling crabby! No one? Just me?

 

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Delicious, but missing those lovely crabby lumps (Fergie reference, anyone?).

Kansas City: One city. Two states.

15 Sep

While in Kansas City, Kansas, I hopped in a cab and headed towards Kansas City, Missouri. For sight seeing? Nah. For the sake of saying I was in two states in one day? A little. But my main reason was to sample the world famous eatin’ at Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ.

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Unassumingly delicious

The cab driver knew exactly where he was going, but I thought he misheard me when he pulled up to a gas station. It turned out to be a gas station that was fueling people with deliciously smoked meats (and gas. They also sell gas).

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This gas station is hiding a DELICIOUS SECRET.

Communal tables and long lines cover this converted space, and wood smoke perfumes the air. If you aren’t hungry when you walk in, you will be by the time you order.

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And this was in the middle of a random weekday.

What I want to discuss is the sandwich that dreams are made of. A creation so heavenly surely angels are secretly smoking this beef and frying these onion rings; a sandwich known as the Z-Man.

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AHHHHHH!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

The Z-Man is a sandwich consisiting of smoked brisket, smoked provolone, crispy onion rings and a smattering of barbecue sauce. It is served on a toasted Kaiser roll, though I’d probably still enjoy it if it was served on stale English muffins.

The cole slaw and beans I ordered were great; creamy cole slaw, rich, tender beans, but who needs sides when a sandwich is this delicious??!! WHO I ASK YOU, WHO?!

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A cross-section of happiness.

The beef was so tender and had a gentle but flavorful smoky taste to it. The smoked provolone enhanced the barbecue experience and the onion rings provided a textural crunch to balance out the fall-apart quality of the meat. The barbecue sauce gave it that needed zing and the toasted roll held everything together nicely. At under ten bucks, why would you NOT order a dozen of them and hoard them in your hotel room like a Gollum preserving his one true happiness in life? Oh. That’s right. You’re probably sane. Stop judging me.

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This ain’t NYC prices.

If you’re in either Kansas City, head over to this gas station barbecue mecca and give thanks for all things smoky and flavorful.

 

Chino Bandido Is Keeno In Phoen-o!

18 Mar

I’m the worst. At updating. But So Good. At Sentence. Fragments.

While near Phoenix Arizona, I insisted my friend and I try a place I saw on “Diners, Drive Ins And Dives.” As I’ve said before, the restaurants on the show are on a very broad spectrum between amazing and disgusting (this is only based on my personal experience), but Chino Bandido in Phoenix, Arizona hit the spot that night. A good spot. A tasty spot. A Mexican-Chinese fusion spot.

I saw the sign! I'm pretty sure I've made that terrible joke before.

I saw the sign! I’m pretty sure I’ve made that terrible joke before.

 

Chino Bandido riffs on Asian and Spanish flavors, by making things such as Chinese BBQ pork AND chile rellenos. Why isn’t this a thing everywhere? WHY?!

Old School signage, brah.

Old School signage, brah.

To order, one has to fill out a card with numbers and initials corresponding to what they want and how they want it prepared. They also let you try most of the dishes to help you decide. Since I’m the most indecisive human being in the history of the universe, this was a welcome help. I decided to try the jade red chicken, the emerald chicken, the jerk fried rice and refried beans.

 

This ginormous plate of food was rich and flavorful. The jade red chicken was crispy and covered in a sweet and tangy sauce. Like general tso’s chicken on crack. The chicken itself was tender and juicy.

Their mascot. An asian panda. Amazing? Yes. Racist? Probably.

Their mascot. An asian panda. Amazing? Yes. Racist? Probably.

 

The emerald chicken was grilled and topped with a chunky sauce (an asian salsa almost) consisting mostly of ginger and scallions. The tangy sauce complimented the slight smokiness of thegrilled chicken well though the chicken was a little dry.

So much food. Dreams.

So much food. Dreams.

 

The jerk chicken fried rice had a great subtle jerk flavor. I’m not the hugest fan of jerk seasoning, but this wasn’t overwhelming, and it was a great accompaniment to the smooth, creamy, rich refried beans. I could have had an entire plate of them.

It doesn't score a ten on ambiance, but the food makes up for it.

It doesn’t score a ten on ambiance, but the food makes up for it.

 

The meal ends with a complimentary snickerdoodle (my favorite!). A soft, sweet, cinnamony (not a word), perfect way to end this meal of decadence. Can they expand and come to the east coast? Great thanks!

COOKIE.

COOKIE.

I Couldn’t Help Myself.

15 Jan

Fine. I know I said the last post was my last Paris post, but it wouldn’t be fair of me to not quickly mention Pottolka, my first (and hopefully not last) Basque experience.

A menu in English. A sight for sore eyes.

A menu in English. A sight for sore eyes.

Ladies who lunch!

Ladies who lunch!

 

I need to head back to this place; almost every single option on the prix fix menu was something I would LOVE to have tried. I begged my server in desperation to help me choose.

Who can resist wine when eating food in France?!

Who can resist wine when eating food in France?!

A big ole glass of delicious.

A big ole glass of delicious.

 

After she poured me a glass of wine and looked at me like the overdramatic, hungry fool I was being, we decided to go with the smoked bacon and pumpkin soup with crispy suckling pig.  Holy friggin crap.

Holy cow...I mean pig. Holy suckling pig.

Holy cow…I mean pig. Holy suckling pig.

The soup was rich and smoky from the bacon, but had deep earthy notes from the bacon. That suckling pig was in a crispy wrapper; it was fatty and rich; I had to stop myself from inhaling it.

For my entrée I went with preserved ox cheeks with mushrooms, potatoes, and Jerusalem artichokes.

So. Much. Roast.

So. Much. Roast.

 I don’t know what preserving them added to the flavor, but it was like the Sunday pot roast to end all Sunday pot roasts. It was a HUGE serving of meaty goodness, in a gravy that would make you want to slap yo’ mama. The vegetables were tender but not cooked to death, and can we just take a moment to give praise where praise is due to the Jerusalem artichoke? I’m so glad they’re becoming a thing.

I was told I had to get the basque cake and it was EVERYTHING. It’s an almond cake with cherries in the middle. It was crumbly and dense, almost like the best blondie you’ve ever had in cake form, featuring cherries. It came with a huge bowl of creamy vanilla ice cream with little crispy streusel bits. How do French people stay so in shape when the portions are huge?!

Cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake. And ice cream.

Cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake. And ice cream.

If only they sold it in pints.

If only they sold it in pints.

AHHHHHH!!!! THIS CAKE IS SO DELICIOUS!!!!!!!

AHHHHHH!!!! THIS CAKE IS SO DELICIOUS!!!!!!!

 

 

An AMAZING meal that I would love to relive over and over again. I need to spend weeks in Paris and do nothing but eat. Who’s down?

Oh hey.

Oh hey.

Until next time, Europe!

Until next time, Europe!

 

Paris, Je T’aime

7 Dec

Alrighty. Finally uploading the last and one of the greatest culinary moments of my European adventures. On the advice of my friend Roberta, I headed to the restaurant L’Epi Dupin.

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My view of the city before I headed to dinner. I went on a little excursion in Montmarte. TAKE ME BACK.

It was like a magical mirage.

It was like a magical mirage.

The restaurant was crowded, but I got there early enough to snag a single seat at the bar. Well, they made a seat at the bar for me. I was the American outcast, and it was awesome.

From my seat I could stare into the kitchen. Creepy? Yes. Did that stop me? No.

From my seat I could stare into the kitchen. Creepy? Yes. Did that stop me? No.

There was a prix fix of 33 euros for three courses To be honest, I don’t know why people claim that French food consists of small portions. I was full for DAYS.

The menu was written in French and a lovely waiter translated it for me—the dishes change frequently which I LOVE. It usually results in fresh ingredients and dishes that are always in season.

Can you read this? Besides the fact that it's slightly blurry, it's in French. I'm lost.

Can you read this? Besides the fact that it’s slightly blurry, it’s in French. I’m lost.

Something I was really getting into while being in Europe was being off the grid. If I wasn’t connected to Wifi, I couldn’t be on my phone, which may have added in making the food even more delicious. It was a great learning experience.

I started with a red wine that I don’t remember the name of; it paired beautifully with my entrée. Wine in Paris costs less than soda in some instances. And not crappy wine either; rich, full bodied wine. Mmmmmmm. Alcohol.

Red, red wiiiiiine.

Red, red wiiiiiine.

The amuse bouche (a little preparatory bite so the chef can flex his culinary muscles) was a chilled leek soup with bacon foam. BACON. FOAM. Are you kidding? It was perfection; the color was vibrant and I love leeks so that was a home run. Also did I mention BACON FOAM?!

Give me a tub of this and I'd bathe in it.

Give me a tub of this and I’d bathe in it.

I chose a combination of squid and octopus as my appetizer. An octopus cake was expertly fried and a beautiful base for the tender, perfectly cooked squid on top. The simply dressed greens on the bottom totally counteract the fattiness of the fried cake, right? RIGHT?! All in all it was a solid appetizer. Favorite appetizer in the world? Maybe not., but the ENTRÉE. The entrée was everything.

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So many seafoods, so little time.

Okay, so if you’re kind of squeamish, just skip to dessert. For my entrée, I had duck hearts and seared foie gras. They. Were. Amazing. I had eaten duck hearts before but they were nothing compared to this.  Tender and succulent, they were drenched in a buttery, herby sauce that was one of the single greatest sauces I have ever consumed. It was insanely rich, and then topped with a huge chunk of seared foie gras. After eating foie gras here, I completely understand why people are in love with this goose-y delicacy. It was rich and creamy; a complex blend of minerality and unctuousness. I want a pillow made out of it so I can eat it for a midnight snack.  IF I had to name something that could have improved this entree, it would be to have something acidic with it to cut all the rich elements. I actually had to take a break before diving back in because there was so much going on. I don’t remember the last time I had to do that. In conclusion, this was one of the greatest entrees I have ever had.

Take another little piece of my heart.

Take another little piece of my heart.

The dessert was a little less so. For some reason, this place was serving a pineapple confit dessert with pineapple foam (which in my mind was out of season) and an ice cream that had an herb I couldn’t really distinguish. The pineapple was a little sour; it was a great palate cleanser, but I’m just used to something sweeter for my desserts.

Lookin' real pretty.

Lookin’ real pretty.

All in all, I would absolutely be back to see what seasonal, new items are on the menu. Anybody want to ship me to France??!

Sacre Coeur!

Sacre Coeur!

When in Belgium, DRINK!

26 Sep

As much as I wish I could throw back Budweiser after Budweiser, I can’t. I used to hate all beer; it did nothing for me. After working at a wine, cheese, and beer bar in Philadelphia, I grew to appreciate and heck, even like the stuff.

I gained an affinity for lambic beers; beers that are fermented using the yeast that naturally flies through the air; a much riskier process than using controlled yeast and a process that results in a funky, sour, complex flavor.

In the US, these beers are usually imported and costly. In Belgium, they are inexpensive and EVERYWHERE.

Rachel and I spent a lovely evening sampling as many beers as we could muster at Delirium bar in Brussels. They have over two thousand types of beer. Over. Two. Thousand.

Right through here to where dreams come true.

Right through here to where dreams come true.

Our bartender France (Yup. Her name was the name of a country) was the most helpful person in the history of the world. I was OBIVOUSLY overwhelmed, but I told her what I liked and she made some great suggestions.

The inside of the bar, or the inside of heaven?!

The inside of the bar, or the inside of heaven?!

I tried a gueuze, which is a mixture of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambics—it was funky and rich. I would have had another one, but there were thousands to try and I’m ONLY ONE PERSON FOR GOODNESS SAKE.

Gueuze her?! I hardly know her!

Gueuze her?! I hardly know her!

This paper wrapped beer was a little more standard—a little citrusy with little hops (I am not a hops fan).

Whatchu hiding underneath that paper?!

Whatchu hiding underneath that paper?!

I loved this tripel—a tripel is a strong pale ale (typically Belgian). It had a hint of fruit in it, and look how jolly that dude is on the label! I want to drink with HIM!

I'd be that jolly if I were drinking this beer all the time.

I’d be that jolly if I were drinking this beer all the time.

My favorite had to have been this hibiscus beer, or hibeerscus as I think it should be renamed. The hibiscus added subtle floral notes and a bit of sweet plum to the beer. Easy drinkin’. And delicious times seven.

Who doesn't love consuming a beverage that is slightly purple?!

Who doesn’t love consuming a beverage that is slightly purple?!

Rachel’s twiter name is geisette, so she was required to get this beer.

Geisette holding Grisette.

Geisette holding Grisette.

Also, the beers were not expensive (of course there were ones that were), but for such a tourist-y place, they kept the prices reasonable, which allows for maximum beer consumption!

How cool do these streets look?!

How cool do these streets look?!

Speaking of beer, we took a tour of the Cantillon Brewery—It’s only a few Euro (under ten) and you get a glass of lambic at the end!

I was so crateful for this experience.

I was so crateful for this experience.

If you want more, it’s only a few Euro to get another glass, then sit by the fire and lambic your troubles away. I had the gueze and the kriek (cherry) variety.

Look at that COLOR!

Look at that COLOR!

This place is world renown for their beers, and they did not disappoint. Tart, sour, and delicious. I highly suggest this tour if you find yourself nearby!

You better store that beer!

You better store that beer!

I had to have mussels in brussels, and I found Mer du Nord. It was a little place right by the hotel where there are no indoor seats; you get your seafood and can stand and eat it at the outdoor tables, or bring to your hotel room with some high alcohol (and kinda gross beer) and have an indoor picnic!

Mer du Nord translates to "deliciously awesome seafood at a stand in the middle of Brussels." I think.

Mer du Nord translates to “deliciously awesome seafood at a stand in the middle of Brussels.” I think.

Indoor picnic funtimes. And Rachel's legs.

Indoor picnic funtimes. And Rachel’s legs.

The mussels were in a light and savory tomato broth flavored with fresh herbs, white wine, and sautéed onions. They were so fresh and tender, I ended up getting them the next day also.

Mussels look kind of weird up close. Still delicious. But weird.

Mussels look kind of weird up close. Still delicious. But weird.

The shrimp I had were equally delicious—sauteed with garlic and tomatoes, and accompanied with crostinis, a mustard-y slightly sweet sauce and some cheese sprinkled on top. A perfect indoor picnic feast. In Brussels!

Who you callin' a shrimp? These guys!

Who you callin’ a shrimp? These guys!

All the better to sop you up with, my dear.

All the better to sop you up with, my dear.

And I could not find brussel sprouts on one freakin’ menu, though many of them were in French and I don’t know the French words for Brussel Sprouts. Oy.

Who cares, ’cause here’s a random statue of a cat riding a bicycle.

No caption needed?

No caption needed?

All in all, Brussels is a beautiful, delicious city. I’d definitely be back, but only after spending more time in Paris, which I head back to in my next post!

Also it wouldn’t be a trip to Brussels if there wasn’t a picture of this little kid peeing! DREAMS!

At least he's hydrated.

At least he’s hydrated.

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