Monday, December 21, 2009

Best Ever Place to Eat Wild Game

Ok, this one might not be the most popular topic on the blog but there is a reason that we're posting it.  One of the challenges with trying to create the "foodies of the future" is getting kids to experiment.  It's so easy for them to get stuck in a routine, we've got one that would eat pancakes every morning if we let him.  

So how do you get them to experiment?  Well, in our family it's trying exotic dishes.  One thing the pancake eater will try is wild game...go figure.  His list of exotic dishes ranges from antelope to salmon roe. If fact, he keeps a running list in his head.  The best place to take the future foodies for experimenting...a little French-Russia restaurant in Great Falls, VA.

What: The Serbian Crown restaurant.

Why it's the Best:  the menu is like noting you've ever seen, here's a sample: 
  • Emu w/ Green Peppercorn Sauce  (I had this during our most recent visit - outstanding)
  • Antelope w/ Wild Mushrooms & Port Wine Sauce (the Pancake eater enjoyed this dish)
  • Boneless Rabbit 'Russian Style', Marinated in Sour Cream
  • Venison St. Hubert w/ Marsala Sauce
  • Marinated Wild Boar
  • Molard Duck, Braised in Sauerkraut
  • Roast Suckling Pig ( Winter Season )
  • Scaloppini of Lion w/ Wild Mushrooms ( Winter Season ) (no idea what this is...)
Also on the menu during our most recent visit...Kangaroo.  That one might be pushing it a little too far.  The menu also includes various types of caviars.  For the adults, perhaps the best reason to visit is the Volka/Piano bar...the quality of the music definitely improves the more you drink. 

How We Know:  The restaurant is dated (unless you're a fan of red velvet), and the crowd can be on the sparse, and on the grey side, but for something "out of the ordinary" this is the place.  Besides after "kissing" a few volkas you may not care where you are or what you're eating.    

Craving Level:  Once a year, usually duing winter. 

Direction and reviews:  Tripadvisor

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best Ever Tips

Dad Gillum sent us an email with interesting tips regarding food.   We thought we'd pass it along.
  • Keeping bananas fresh - take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster. 
  • Keeping cheese fresh - store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold.
  • Selecting Peppers - peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking. 
  • Cooking ground beef - add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
  • Cooking eggs - to really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in, then beat them up.
  • For a cool brownie treatmelt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.
  • Cooking with garlic - add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.
  • What to do with left over Halloween candy - snickers bars make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.Yummm!
  • Reheating Pizza - heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.
  • Easy Deviled Eggs - put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done...easy clean up. 
  • Expanding Frosting - when you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving. 
  • Reheating refrigerated bread - to warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
Thanks Dad!  If you know of other tips please add them in the comment section.   We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you're looking for a yummy bread to put on your table (or bring to someone's home), here are a couple of our family favorites.  The first is a pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and the second, a cranberry orange.  You can make a traditional loaf size, or make mini-loaves to bring to friends, teachers, etc.  Hope you enjoy these as much as we do, and happy Thanksgiving!

What:   Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts (optional) 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl.  In another bowl beat butter until smooth, add sugar, then eggs (one at a time mixing well after each).  Add pumpkin and vanilla.  Gradually mix milk and dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture, alternating each one third at a time.  Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts if using), and put into greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and remove bread from pan.  Tip:  If you have a favorite struesel topping (cinnamon, flour, butter, and pecan chips) make it, and sprinkle on the top of the loaf before it goes in the oven -- it makes it even better.  Enjoy!

What:  Cranberry Orange Bread

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 small box of vanilla pudding mix (I use Jello brand), dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 TBS. orange zest
  • 1 1/2 c. coarsly chopped fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 egg well beaten
  • 2 TBS. veg. oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts -- nuts are optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  In another small bowl combine orange juice, zest, oil, and egg, and mix well.  Add berries (and nuts if you're using them).  Do not over mix -- just until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened.  Spread into greased and floured loaf pan, and bake about 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool 15 minutes, and remove from pan.  Enjoy!

* Both of these breads can be made ahead of time, and frozen for up to three months -- just make sure you cool completely, and double wrap before you put them in the freezer.  These breads are big hits at Christmas time, too, and I make mini muffins with both to bring into my chidren's classes at school -- the kids love them!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best Ever "Pizza Night" Pizza

Although we love good food, and cook most nights, there’s always one night reserved for pizza...usually Friday. "Pizza and movie night" with the kids. 

The challenge has become finding one we all enjoy. Sure, we could make it, but the point of “pizza night” is not to be in the kitchen. We’ve tried all the usual suspects for home delivery and haven’t been impressed. We also have one or two take out places that are good…but they are also a good distance from the house.

Finally, we think we’ve found a solution…and it’s worth sharing.

What: Fresh made, hand tossed, brick oven pizza.

Where: Harris Teeter grocery store in Tysons Corner, VA. Yes, Harris Teeter.  This may only be available in Tysons so please check your local store. 

Why it’s the Best: They make the dough, the toppings are fresh and vast, and the brick oven does make a difference. Place your order when you come in the store (or phone it in), and by the time you’ve picked up a few items it’s ready to go. It’s the best value we’ve found for the money.

How We Know: At $9.99 ($7.99 on Mondays) for a large brick oven pizza, what’s not to like?  HT also sells pizza slices and pizza to go. As for the drive, there’s a good chance you needed to go to the grocery store anyway...if not, find a picking up something for tomorrow night's dinner!

Craving Level: weekly, usually Friday nights.

Directions:  Tysons Corner, VA

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Best Ever Football Snack ( least one of the best)

It's not that we're obsessed with "buffalo style" recipes (see Buffalo Salmon), it's just that this is a real treat for people who like buffalo wings.  My friend Cassie shared this with our book club years ago, saying it was a great appetizer for men, but I can tell you that it's as big a hit with any women I've ever served it to!  Seeing that we're in football season, and comfort food cravings due to cold and wet weather, I thought this would be a wonderful one to share.

What:  A cheesy, tangy, loaded with chopped chicken (and a bit of a kick) hot dip.  It has all the flavors you love in buffalo chicken wings -- ranch and blue cheese salad dressings, hot sauce, fresh chicken, but without the grease.

Recipe: 2 to 4 finely chopped cooked chicken breasts (I usually use 4, and boil them in water, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf for a little extra flavor.)
  • 2 - 8oz. packages of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup each of ranch and blue cheese salad dressings;
  • 3/4 cup Texas Pete Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 shredded cheddar cheese
Mix all of the above listed ingredients together in a large bowl (setting 1/2 cup of the cheddar aside), and place in an oven safe baking dish.  Sprinkle top with reserved cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve it hot with sliced baggette, or buttery crackers like Ritz or Club -- and don't forget to serve some sliced celery and carrots on the side.

Why It’s the Best:  I think that the best thing about this dip, aside the fact that it's delicious, addictive, and loved by all, is that you get to enjoy the taste of eating a plate full of "hot wings", but don't have the mess involved with eating the "real deal".  You know what I'm talking about, the greasy, orange stained fingers, working the little chicken bones to get every last bite without looking like a caveman, the multiple piles of napkins wasted trying to rid your hands of the mess, etc... 

Okay, I know thats part of the fun -- but just give it a try, and let us know what you think by posting your comments on the blog site.  We'd love to hear from you (especially you, Sandrine!).  Enjoy.

How We Know: Years of successful sharing, and the fact that just about everyone who eats it wants the recipe.  You'll see...

Craving Level:  Weekly, during football season!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie

Although the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe was usually my "go to" for a good chocolate chipper, I have found one that I (and the friends I have shared it with) like much better.  You need to make these cookies oversized, too, as that's how they are best.  Both of our kids request these oversized, chewy, chocolately cookies when bringing in treats to their classes on their birthdays, and they are always eagerly devoured by their friends and classmates.  Click on the highlighted link below for the recipe, and make sure to print it out and save -- you won't want to lose this one!

What: Homemade, extra large, thick and chewy homemade, bakery quality chocolate chip cookies.

Recipe: Type the ID # 0211099 into the View Msg ID # box.

Why It’s the Best: This recipe produces consistently delicious cookies.  Unlike other recipes where sometimes the cookies are too thin, these come out perfectly shaped, and thick every time. I use a cookie scooper (similar to a melon ball scooper) with the dough, and overfill it just a bit, to make the oversized cookie, and drop them on doubled cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Give 'em a try, and let us know what you think.  

How We Know: The "proof is in the pudding" -- make a batch for yourself, family, and friends.  You'll hopefully see why these are such winners!

Craving Level: Daily

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Best Ever Foie Gras

Last year we vacationed in Jackson, WY (a Best Ever Family Vacation…if we were writing that blog), and stayed at the Snake River Lodge in the Grand Teton village (the ski resort area of Jackson Hole, which is what the valley is called).

Nestled into the side of the Grand Teton Mountain range at 9000 feet is the restaurant Couloir. To get you have to reserve a ride on the resorts gondola after hours, which requires a reservation (an important pont to remember).  The gondola ride, the view, the food combine to make it a memorable dining experience.

What: pan-seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with pearl onion confit, cinnamon toast and anise syrup

Why It’s the Best:  True confession, I’ll admit that I not a big fan of Fois Gras.  In fact, the reason I’m voting this as a “best ever” is because the dish… didn’t taste Fois Gras.  I know this is blasphemous to hard core Foie Gras connoisseurs but what makes it a best ever is the creativity of the Couloir Chef, Wes Hamilton.

How We Know:  Ordering Fois Gras, for me, is like ordering the occasional Ruben sandwich.  I'm not crazy about it, but it breaks up the monotomy of ham and turkey sandwiches.   The same thing applies to why I ordre Fois Gras.  I do it to "shake things up" every once and while, and this time it turned out to be one of the most interesting tasting dishes that I’ve ever had.  The combination of the different flavors and textures really created a truly unique and favorable sensation.

Craving Level – Yearly

Reviews & Location - Open Table, Trip Advisor

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best Ever Ideas for Burgers

First, apologies for not keeping up with the blog.  Back to school, sports, and after school activities have really taken up any free time we've had to work on the blog...imagine you can relate. 

Anyway, if your kids love burgers like ours, you'll love the creative ideas offered in this website by the Cheese & Burger Society. 

What: a great link to a website with 32 recipes for burgers.  Obviously sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese, it is a well done flash site with voice over by "Putty" (Patrick Warburton) from Sienfeld, for the kids in the audience, he is also the voice of  Kronk" on The Emperor's New Groove cartoon. 

Special thanks to my brother, Craig, for sending the link to me. 

Why It’s The Best:  there's nothing else like it on the internet.  "Putty's" voice over, the graphics, and the humor make it very entertaining...not to mention mouth watering.   Also a great site for cheese particular, those who love Wisconsin cheese. 

How We Know: take a tour..see if you don't crave a burger afterwards.  No. 30 is a personal favorite.

Craving Level:  based on our children, at least weekly, bordering on daily.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention to make sure that you enter for a chance to win a new grill.  The contest ends September 30th at mid-night.  Sorry for the late notice...just finished a home work assignment.   Stay tuned for upcoming posts on The Best Ever Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies, Best Ever Foie Gras, Gnoochi, and Pear Tart. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Best Ever French Tip

Jennifer has been telling me about the Slow Roasted French Dip sandwich at Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge restaurant (part of the local DC Great American Restauarnt chain and listed in Washingtonian's 100 Best Restaurants) in Reston, VA since it opened several months ago. My first attempt to try it for dinner one night was unsuccessful, and very disappointing, as the coveted French Dip is served only during the lunch hours (and only “while it lasts”).

What:  Homemade rolls, thinly sliced roast beef, and an au jus dipping bowl.

Why It’s The Best: There is more than one reason why we think this sandwich is a “best ever.” The au jus is the real deal (not water flavored with beef bouillon). The roast beef is slow cooked, tender, flavorful and consistent, and served perfectly medium rare… The wrapper that makes it all come together is the bread. Soft and super absorbent, it is baked fresh every day by a local bread company called Best Buns Company, buttered and toasted before the meat is piled on, it soaks up the au jus like a sponge. Jennifer always orders hers with cheese, which she believes makes just about everything better.

How We Know: You really have to try this to know. We have taken out-of-town friends (and their children to test this delicious sandwich – HUGE success every time!)Jennifer had been telling me it was the best ever but it wasn’t until I had it was I able to really know.

Craving level: WEEKLY…while it last.

Reviews and Directions: Yelp, Metromix

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Best Ever Cream of Crab Soup

If you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you know that summer means blue crab season. One of our favorite ways to enjoy crab is in soup, weather it’s Maryland Crab, She Crab or Cream of Crab. If you’re traveling on the Eastern Shore this Summer or Fall make sure you stop in Easton, MD and have lunch at Legal Spirits Tavern (next to the Avalon Theatre) and have a bowl of the best ever Shore Boys Cream of Crab soup.

What: Jumbo lump crab meat, butter (lots), sherry, cream, old bay seasoning, etc.

Why It’s The Best:  For starters the soup contains a lot of crab meat, which is key.  Too many restaurants focus on the cream and skimp on the crab... it needs to be ALL about the taste of fresh lump crab.  Second, the soup has a nice consistency and it's not "starchy" which can also be the downfall of a good bowl of soup.  Finally, you can taste the sherry and a hint of old bay seasoning, which blend wonderfully with all of the other ingredients in the soup.  For us, the right balance of sherry in a cream based soup is test for a greatness...winner -- Shore Boys! 

How We Know:  We've tried cream of crab soups up and down the east coast.  She Crab soup in the "Low Country comes close, but no one does Cream of Crab as well as the Shore Boys.   If you need more proof read the reviews at TripAdvisors.

Craving Level: Weekly, bordering on daily.  The great news is that you can order the soup on line.  The bad news is that it's an expensive have to pay almost as much in shipping as you do for the soup.  It's worth a road trip to get it, and Easton is a nice get-away weekend location.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Best Ever Cheap Eats

Okay, so we should have posted this on Monday when the DC Restaurant Week (24th-30th) kicked off, but it’s not too late to take advantage of some good deals at local restaurants. During this week you can get a 3 course meal for $35.09 or a 2 course lunch for $20.09.
Click here for participating restaurants and to make a reservation.

We’ve eaten at 3 restaurants in the last 3 days (we’re kidless this week), and here’s what we’ve learned:

Savings are modest – we saved about $15 off our meal at Chef Geoff’s in Tysons and about $10 last night at Dino’s in Cleveland Park.

But other good deals exit – on certain days of the week restaurants are running deals on wine, like ½ price bottles at The Palm on Wednesdays (join their 837 Club for more specials), and the same at Chef Geoff’s on Mondays. And from Tues-Thursday at Dino’s, certain wines are marked down to $18. The real savings have been on the wine.

Early Bird Specials – here’s the other good news -- some restaurants are getting smart about filling their place early, and on off days during the week. Chef Geoff’s Sunset Special gets you a 3 course dinner for $19.99 at Dino’s the Menu della Sur offers the same for $25.

Our view is that in this economy everything is, or should be, on sale. Some restaurants get this while others don’t…but will. Search the DC Restaurant link to find those who understand that diners want more for their money…they’re out there, and those specials (like the ones above) will continue after this week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Best Way To Get Kids to Eat Fish Ever!

by Jennifer
Getting kids to eat salmon (or any fish for that matter) can be a bit of a challenge -- and we all know, because it's so rich in Omega3s, it's an important part of our diet.... Here's a recipe I recently stumbled upon (from the website), and it's fantastic -- quick, uncomplicated, and simple to make -- now a staple in our home. Hope you like it, too!

What: Wild Salmon (fresh is ALWAYS best, but it works with frozen, too), Frank's Redhot Sauce, and panko bread crumbs (I've also used italian style, or even combined the two, and it's just as good -- you can play with it yourself).

Recipe: Buffalo Salmon

  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (we love Frank's)
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (2 pound) piece salmon fillet (definitely try to use wild caught).
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third of oven. Lightly oil a shallow baking pan. Melt butter with hot sauce and 1/4 tsp. of each salt and pepper over medium heat. Set aside 1/4 c. of sauce. T
  • Toss bread crumbs with oil in a small bowl. Place salmon, skin side down, in pan and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. each of salt (I use garlic salt for this part), and fresh ground pepper.  Pour prepared  hot sauce mixture over salmon, and sprinkle crumbs evenly over the top of the fish.  Then bake until top is golden and fish is just cooked through (16 to 22 minutes).  
  • Serve reserved sauce on side.
Why It's the Best: You have to try it yourself to fully understand. When I was searching for something new to do with salmon, and came across this recipe, I was skeptical, but the zesty flavor of the hot sauce, crunchy topping, and buttery flavor do something quite unique to the fish.
How We Know: My family LOVED it! They are really tough critics when it comes to fish dishes -- especially our daughter who would rather go hungry than eat a piece of salmon (our son said he would eat it every day!). I have shared this recipe with a couple of close friends, both who called the next day to say how great this dish was, and not only did they (and their husbands love it), but their children did as well. It's a winner for both -- YEAH!

Craving Level: WEEKLY

Best Conch Chowder Ever!

This summer we vacationed on the island of Turks & Caicos (TCI). Looking through the comments from previous guests (left in the guest journal of the home we rented),we noticed numerous references to Da Conch Shack as one of the highlights of vacationers' time on the island. Being the curious "foodies" that we are, we had to check it out.
What : Queen conch, vegetables, peppers (most likely habanera) in a fish and tomato based stock.

Why it’s the Best – freshness really counts in seafood, and it's no exception with conch. Old conch can take on a rubbery texture and lose its flavor. The conch in this chowder is tender and delicious. The chowder itself had a great balance of flavors and just the right hint of spiciness. It didn’t try to overwhelm the dish which we’ve run into a few times at other island restaurants.

We also sampled conch in about every other way imaginable; fritters, stir fried, even curried, and we weren't impressed. The conch is fresh and best eaten in soup or in our opinion.

How we know – because we literally watched our meal go from the ocean to our plate...our soup bowl in this case. Plus, everyone in the guest book said so! Of course, the Rum Bar could of had something to do with it as well.

Interesting side note, conch fishing in the US waters and territories (the Keys, U S Virgins Island, etc.) is banned. Most restaurant conch is farm raised and Turks & Caicos is one of the largest exporters of Queen conch in the carribean. If you get a chance to go to TCI book a charter to go conch diving. Conch also makes a great salad (actually, it tastes more like delicious lime/jalepeno/cilantro salsa).

Craving Level: YEARLY (only because we're being realists, and don't own a private jet to take us there more often!).

Review & Directions: TripAdvisor

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Best Cheese Steak Ever!

If you're traveling Rt 68 in Western Maryland this summer, time your trip to hit LaVale, MD around lunch time. You'll want to pit stop into D'Atris Restaurant for the Best Ever Cheese Steak. Having grown up eating this cheese steak I can tell you that it is the "benchmark."

What: Steak, provolone cheese, grilled onions, special salad toping (lettuce, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, oil and garlic salt). Available in small (8") or large (12").
Why It's the Best: It depends on the type of cheese steak you prefer. If you are a Philly traditionalist this might not be your "Best Ever." The reason is that what makes this a winner in our book is what the Philadelphians would call "the salad." (Interestingly enough you can also order this as a cheese steak as a salad also outstanding). The special recipe salad mixture of oil, garlic salt, parsley, etc. sets it apart from everything else. If you're looking for the total package this is it, from the fresh baked bread to the "salad" topping nothing else beats it.

How We Know: Jen went to college in the Philly area and dined on many cheese steaks, especially late night. Scott spent 6 months in central Philly for work and spent his free time searching for the Best Ever cheese steak...never found it.

Craving Level: DAILY

Reviews & Map: Insiderpages

Best Pesto Recipe Ever!

By Jennifer
We love Pesto -- not just in the summer months, but all year long. After 20+ years of making it, I believe I've found the Best Ever Pesto Recipe. It's, ironically, from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (from the editors of Cook's Illustrated) -- a must have cookbook! It's best, of course, when you make it with home grown basil and parsley (flat leaf is best), but store bought works fine, too.

What: Fresh basil, parsley, toasted garlic and pine nuts, good parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil -- what can be better?!


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 4 to 5 minutes)
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic (I use 4, and toast them, too, with the skins on for about 7 minutes, and then peel)
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley (I use extra -- about 1/4 cup of flat leaf -- it keeps the pesto nice and bright green)
  • 7 TBS extra virgin olive oil, salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (pecorino is even better).
  • Place the toasted nuts, garlic, basil/parsley (first bruise the leaves of these together in a freezer bag by beating with a mallet, or using a rolling pin -- or if you have one, a mortar and pestle), oil, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a food processor, and process until smooth.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and stir in cheese.
  • If you're not using right away, place a layer of plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for up to three days.
  • If you're using on pasta, be sure to mix about a 1/4 cup of reserved pasta cooking water into the pesto before you toss through the pasta. ENJOY!
Why It's the Best: Toasting the pine nuts lightly brings out the fullness of their flavor, and the toasting of the garlic cloves is key to the success of this recipe -- it tames the harsh garlic notes, and loosens the skin for easier peeling. And, pounding/bruising the leaves of the herbs before using them releases more of their wonderful flavor.

How We Know: Family and friends love it, and we never tire of eating it (in many different ways -- on pizza, pasta, grilled shrimp/chicken, crostini with goat cheese -- be creative), and it's the first pesto we've ever had where the flavors of the basil and other ingredients aren't overpowered by the garlic -- no dead vampires in our bedroom the morning after!

Craving Level: Frequent -- especially in the summer months when fresh herbs are abundant.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Best Onion Rings Ever!

We recently spent a long weekend in Bermuda and discovered this winner at the Hog Penny Pub...who's claim to fame is that it's the inspiration for the Cheers pub. Not sure I’m buying it, but I’ll tell you what I am buying….their onion rings, Best Ever!

What: Bermuda onions fried in a beer batter, served with chipotle dipping sauce.

Why It's the Best: Real sliced onions not minced, light, homemade batter (bet you'd find some Hog Penny Ale in it), not a pre-made ring dumped out of a bag into a fryer. You can actually taste the onion...without the grease. Also, we really liked the clever presentation of this dish, and think it contributes to greaseless flavor. Onion rings are stacked on the mast of a tiny sailboat. Chipotle dipping sauce is a nice compliment.

How We Know: It’s the Bermuda Onion…sweet and meaty.

Craving Level: WEEKLY, bordering on DAILY, had them 2 out of the 4 days in Bermuda.

Reviews: Trip Advisor, other reviews are listed on the Hog Penny website.

BTW - great deals on vacation packages to Bermuda during their 400th celebration. If you're looking for a weekend getaway for the fall this is it. A quick 2 hour direct flight from DC, Philly or NY.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Best Ever Mussels!

By Scott
This is the dish that inspired the blog. I was traveling this week on business and dined at Aurora Restaurant in Rye, NY. Although I've been there several times I never had this dish until this week. The restaurant is Tuscan themed and prides itself on its pasta dishes. But the real prize is the Mussel's simply the BEST EVER. I couldn't sleep that night thinking about this dish (yes, I know I have some issues...I like to think of it as passion).

What: Prince Edward Island Mussels, Red Curry, Fava Beans, Cream and Cilantro

Why It's the best: I've had better quality mussels, but I've never had a better broth. In fact, I skipped the last two mussels just to start dipping the bread. I wasn't sure how the spiceness of the Red Curry would work in the dish but it was a HOME RUN.

How I know: Work takes me to Brussels (The Mecca of Moules) often and this year I happened to be there during the offical season for wild Mussels (September - April, similar to Oyster months with an "R"). I will say that the mussels themselves were better (much better) but they were served in the traditional white wine sauce (butter, shallots, etc.). Very good, but for me eating mussels is ALL about the broth...advantage Aurora.

Craving Level - WEEKLY

Reviews: Zagats, NY Times