Friday, June 24, 2016

Earl of Sandwich...


Just a nice experience in the kitchen

Thy name is Reuben.  The Reuben is quite a nice sandwich and I’m partial to it, and on certain days have them for lunch.  I’ve written about it/them in the past, and gone over the history some, and then went off on the controversy between marbled and “regular” rye bread.  While I much prefer the latter, the former seems to hold some caché as being somewhat traditional.   But that’s not for this visit.

A bit ago, I decided I would get one for my dinner as MFO had some event and I would be dining on my own resources.  I happened to be up  San Souci during the late afternoon and didn’t want to make another trip for a single purpose.  So I stopped in to Coffee Quarter and requested said sandwich, but added that since I wouldn’t eat it for a few hours, could they just make it and not “cook” it, i.e., letting me do that when it was closer to when I wanted to eat.  The young lady said that since they used mayo as well as damp sauerkraut it might get kind of mushy, but she would be glad to give me the ingredients separately.  Wow, that would be great I said.  So, I walked out with what one might call a “Kit” all neatly wrapped and packaged.


or unpackaged:


Featuring (unmarbled) rye, mayo, Thousand Island, Kraut, Swiss and corned beef.

So I set about fabricating the sandwich, applying the Mayo (which I think is not considered traditional, but I used it anyway in lieu of butter.  

Since I was in control, I eliminated of one of my pet peeves about sandwiches which contain meat and cheese.  I believe it is very important that the cheese be integrated with the meat rather than all on one side.


(another layer of corned beef was applied after the photo)

Since we don’t have a panini press gathering dust someplace (along with other seldom used appliances) I did trot out our LeCruset ridged pan (which does mostly gather dust), melted some clarified butter for the outside and grilled the sandwich resulting in a nicely marked sandwich.


Another technique I sometimes employ in order to get the sandwich completely warm and all the cheese melted is to put a little lid over it for a bit



Let it rest some, and with my trusty (well used) serrated bread knife had a very nice sandwich for myself.


One might find higher quality ingredients, but it was fun and kudos to the nice lady at Coffee Quarter.

And lastly, just another food note:  A group of us went up to Annapolis for a menu tasting from a potential caterer for an upcoming event.  We sampled appetizers




(as well as potential salads and main courses)

And then there was dessert, one option was a chocolate tart which was, as they say, to die for.  In fact everybody loved and raved about it so much the caterer said (much to my surprise!) would you like the recipe?  When it was unanimous that we all would, a short trip to the kitchen resulted in a copy for everyone.



My purpose in showing this is NOT so you can reproduce it, but to see how a professional chef uses recipes.  Us amateurs (me at least) follows them by rote, and hope for the best.  This one has been tweaked with notes, scribbles, modifications as to how (she) finally liked it.  It calls for ganache poured over cooled custard, etc., and something I never would attempt.  I thought it very illuminating.

Stay tuned for eventual news on the event.  Meanwhile please remain

DFD

Medical note, my starboard eye gets “done” on Monday (27th)



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

surfacing again


Well, I’m baaaaacccckkk, at least temporarily.  First of all thanks to all of you who took a moment to send cataract good wishes and experiences in my direction,   it certainly helps.

The first (left) eye went well and you veterans are all correct.  I never knew what I was missing.  I think I put it in facebook, and it’s a bit overstated, but did you know there are buildings on the Solomons?  And now I can tell the difference between Navy and black..  Both feet can have the same color sock.
Next Monday (27th) the second (right) eye will be taken care of.  I am glad I don’t have three, it will be good to have this behind me.  (Side story: this morning I went up to Charlotte Hall to see Dr. Whitten for my week after checkup.   I told him that I was glad I didn't have three eyes, to which he responded quickly "I wish you did!"  - clever guy)

Anyway, a return to normal Feederdom, with a small rant (or two) and then some actual food related content!

Rants:

   1.  I don’t use Twitter much, kind of prefer a facebook existence in the social media world, but it seems to be the preferred method of communication with several of the sports folk, like “Mike and Mike” and various athletes.  So I go over there occasionally.   Do you have this trouble?  I NEVER know how to see the latest tweet(s) first.  I get some “while you were away” screen with stuff from last month, or the latest tweet shown is from four days ago.  I even googled “latest tweets first” and got a bunch of sites wanting me to download some plug in.  Nope..

    2.   To fight the demons in the night, I listen to late night sports talkers, and occasionally the conspiracy folk.  One of the popular commercials is from a company oddly enough called "Wise"  that advertises food with at 25 year shelf life, I guess so you can survive an alien or government attack on your liberty.  Anyway, they sling around the term “gourmet”, as in “just add water, and your family can dine on delicious gourmet food”.   Just add water?  Gourmet?  Craziness!  I was almost tempted to order my “free sample” just to see what you get with water added gourmet, but decided against it.

  3.  And while I’m sort of on sports, I am SO glad that game seven of the NBA playoff was last Sunday night. Not necessarily because of the game, but HOPEFULLY it will end weeks and weeks of speculation on such weighty topics as “who will come off the Cavs bench?”  Should they start?  Is LeBron the greatest player of all time?  (Cavs fans: Yes;  Warrior fans” No) and the inevitable desire to feed the “best” mentality by endless comparisons of MJ and LBJ.  Nope, as usual we gotta settle “who’s number one”  can’t be just two (okay) great players, somebody has to be better than somebody.  At least maybe after a day or two we can move on to other sports, like the NCAA world series, the various Soccer cups being competed for,  soon “The (British) Open”.  At least we don’t have to listen to the whiney Cleveland (we never win championships) fans. 

   4.    Felt good for DJ winning the US open, and thank God he didn’t have to go through the agony of another “penalty” debacle.  Apparently the USGA is trying hard to emulate the NBA and NFL (“you might have a penalty stroke, but we’re not going to tell you until you finish”)  good grief. 


Whew!  Okay back to food.

As i said, I listen to a lot of radio, and besides the water added gourmet one, have you ever heard the one(s) for Jimmy John’s (Gourmet) sandwiches?  they’re kind of cute as they do various riffs on how fast they deliver.  Apparently sub shops are like pizza joints, you can’t have enough of them. Well, somehow Jimmy John’s joined our burgeoning group of chains and slipped into town and opened yet another outlet for sandwiches/subs near us. It's in the little shopping center across from the WaWa that contains the Sonic and Bird Store. MFO and I were in the area patronizing the CVS pharmacy (as we do more and more often it seems) and I noticed the store.  It was near lunch time, so I figured what the heck, let’s go and check it out.    So we went in.

Got the chorus of “Welcome to Jimmy John’s!” and tried to absorb the situation.  Very institutional, lots of stainless steel, and cases.   The menu is quite limited with only a few options and split into 8”and “Giant” sub sandwiches, which are “Twice the meat and cheese” and pretty much the same sandwiches.  Also some sides like extra meat or cheese (at a buck and a half).


They don’t use the “build your own” approach (a la Subway) but ingredients are described on the menu Big John: (Medium rare choice roast beef, mayo, lettuce and tomato) which is what I asked for (at $5.59) and took the “upsale” proposal to go to a Number 10 on the Giant Side which gave me a full ¼ pound of the beef and cheese.  Okay fine.  I THINK she made it from “Scratch” but very quickly I got handed a neatly rolled sandwich



So I came home and un-wrapped the little devil.



Well, I have to tell you there was nothing distinguishing about the sandwich.   The bread was dry, no crunch to the crust, the beef did have a bit of flavor, but seemed “tired” if that is a culinary term..  And the (provolone) cheese would be suitable for reading a newspaper through



I don’t think I would make a special trip for another


Maybe they go too fast,  speed over quality?  And they put the coming to be over used word "gourmet" in their name?  not by me..

And I was going to add another section on sandwiches, but you’re probably tired by now.  It was going to tell you an interesting story on how this:


Became this


In the Feeder Test Kitchen.

And I didn’t really have to be

DFD



Sunday, June 12, 2016

Jackson Browne

I am hopeful to be able to use one of his lyrics soon, but being a glass half empty person, i will wait until it's appropriate.

Tomorrow morning i go into our hospital here to have a cataract removed from my left eye and a lens that helps my astigmatism inserted..  The right will follow in a couple of weeks.  my eyesight is poor right now, so this should help things.  My doc is the same one who did Tiger, so maybe my picture will be on his wall also.  "The Bottom Feeder",  Most people tell me it is a whole new world.  that would be nice, won't have to have MFO read things to me.

So, don't have much to say in the food department today, just marking time.  I have had a couple more reports on the Cow & Fish, and they pretty much have echoed mine.  Food good, service spotty.

Sit Rep to follow.

DFD

Thursday, June 9, 2016

All sorts of stuff

Travel wrap up section

Okay, we can finally let OK sleep..  Oh, wait.  Not quite.  As I’ve mentioned before one of the pluses of the blog is that sometimes people actually respond and give me feedback.  Such as the lady whose parents grew up in Henryetta.  As fate would have it, the posting of Cattlemen’s Café engendered another (what is it about Oklahoma?).  A long time follower, who actually dates back to the days when the “bottom feeder” was actually at the bottom of the F-18 status report wrote me a little note.  He was in OKC and on the advice of a friend went and ate at Cattlemen’s.  His experience was much different than ours.  His steak was very good, more like the “goal” picture in the blog.   As surprised as I was, I know he has a pretty good palate, so will take it as reported.  He said if he was out that way again, he’d revisit.  Currently we have nothing on the books that will take us to OK again… I was a little relieved that he had a good experience, which might restore a little faith in TripAdvisor. 

Local Movement Section.

Arrivings

Our little San Souci area not far from us continues to be in a state of flux.  After the departure of Bollywood and Monterrey, whose spaces continue to be dark, things are changing.  One of the newest things is “Wag n’ Wash” where you will be able take your dog or cat and either pay for a wash and grooming or do it yourself.   It is in the spaces formerly occupied by the Credit Union.  It now looks like



As it turns out the owners are veterans of Historic St. Mary’s City and when I was there (taking the picture) they spotted me and invited me in for an insider tour.  They were feverishly getting ready for their opening (which is shortly, they hope!).  




You never know what you find in pet stores



They have very nice “washing stations”



And will have all sorts of pet food, equipment, and even a bakery in store which will turn out freshly baked goodies for your little darlings.  They said that the franchise offers over 150 recipes!  Wowser!  Anyway, they are very nice people and operated a veterinary clinic for years and years so are quite knowledgeable about things canine and feline. 

and there is more activity across 235  from San Souci as well.  What does this area really need more of?  Another place to get pizza! (pizza pizza)



Their founder Mr. Illitch not only turned out pizza, but owns the Red Wings, so that’s at least something.

The Going…sort of
And right across Millstone Landing Road, the liquor store "Twist" has changed ownership


Out with the old, in with the new


Not sure what the status of the seemingly popular Lime Lounge is going to be.

Chasing Cocoa.. a Mystery
I am very confused on the trail of "Cocoa’s".   As you might remember, it opened years ago in the Park, as Cocoa’s Cantina (southwestern food) in the spaces vacated by Lone Star.   You know that one with the funny porch sort of by IHOP.  Anyway, that Cocoa’s closed, and eventually a very similar looking Cocoa’s (Authentic Caribbean Jerk) re-appeared in the spaces vacated by Charlie’s Deli, on 235 south of Gate three.   Well, that didn’t last too long either, and it was dark for quite a while (still is}, but look at this…



I drive by there fairly often, and that sign has been up for weeks, with no visible sign of activity.  Anyway,  Cocoa’s then appeared in the back of the (old)  Belvedere,


in place of Casa Grande, who high tailed it to Leonardtown and lived in the building that is now the Rex.  Anyway, I THINK that Cocoas is open



Now recently there was a little note in the Enterprise and indeed, THIS has opened on Great Mills road across from St. Mary’s Square.



So the elusive Cocoa (If she actually exists) keeps being a moving target.  Oh, by the way, there are now pick-em-up trucks parked in front of the “original” one with the funny sun porch. WOW.

Cost Savings Section
And lastly (finally) you might have noticed that Staples (in First Colony by Lowe’s) has, like a cell, divided into two entities.   The (vacant) non-staples side sprouted a sign the other day



A Staples employee said it is like a dollar general, except everything is fiVE bucks and under.  That will bring even more class to the area.  Not to be snarky, but it IS right next to BJ’s..

New Product Section



we tried it, it's okay.  I think the standard is still Kraft Deluxe (HAS to have the pouch, not the bag of cheese)


Old Slogan Section

DFD







Monday, June 6, 2016

Oklahoma Dining Two (the bad one)



Well, my faith in TripAdvisor has been somewhat shaken.  As we’ve discussed before, going blind into a new city for dinner is always a struggle.   One shot, where to go?  I have had pretty good luck using TripAdvisor as a guide, sometimes (depending on time available) checking things like Yelp and just googling “Restaurants in XXXX” and seeing what’s there.  Usually things at the top tend to be things at the top elsewhere, and narrowing down to “French” or “fine dining” also helps.  Sunday was our last full day in Henryetta (and Oklahoma), so we drove back up to OKC to stay over before a Monday morning flight back to reality and BWI we decided to eat “out”.   So, we went into the above mentioned process.

Without refining the search(es) much, two places commontly appeared, Kitchen 324, and Cattlemen’s Steakhouse.   Reviews were pretty positive for both.  Usually 324 was rated just above the steakhouse, but they were rated in the top five in OKC out of the 1380 restaurants in the city.  I checked with FOJTY and he actually had been to the “Kitchen” and said they pretty much liked it. 

But, in the end, we decided that when in cow country, eat cow.  So going to an out and out steakhouse might be rewarding.  They tout themselves as “Oklahoma’s Oldest Continually Operating Restaurant”, located in the stockyards, and opening in 1910.  The “home” tab on their website after giving a thumbnail history boldly proclaims: “Today, Cattlemen's is known not only for its unique history, but mainly for its terrific food [feeder underline] - perfectly aged steaks, legendary breakfasts, and the best cup of coffee that Seattle couldn't touch”.  Well then… and also, it was not far from the Hotel..

So, with the trusty intelligent phone helping us, we drove over to the place which was indeed in what appeared to have been the stockyard section, which is now kind of run down amongst a few blank storefronts (this is actually one corner of the restaurant as you approach the front through the alley – parking is behind the place)




But there is no doubt you were in the right place


While we were headed for the front door, a tour bus pulled up in front and disgorged many tourists, and I thought “Oh no!”.   The arrival of a tour bus at a restaurant runs red flags up in the feeders skewed vision of dining, but mercifully they went to an annex next to the main building.  Having seen reviews mentioning “it was worth the 45 minute wait” we entered with some trepidation (a phone call before leaving the motel got a rather snippy “we have no idea sir” (when questioned as to a possible wait on a Sunday evening). But once inside, no worries; we were seated in one of the many booths that seem to be the standard seating arrangement. 


It is left to the sharp eyed readers to see how many hats they can count (the statue in the foreground doesn’t count)

There was another room off to the left of this picture, maybe they have tables in there. 

Our server, who (proved to be very friendly) arrived almost as soon as we did,  After determining we did want “to get an appetizer started for you”, he did determine that we wanted a cocktail.  With some struggle, MFO finally got across that she wanted a Gin Gimlet, and once again I figured the writing was on the wall and ordered one of their Margaritas.  After what seemed too long, my up Margarita arrived, and a cocktail glass of clear liquid and three skewered cocktail onions arrived.   Although not knowing OK drink preferences, a taste revealed there was no hint of lime.  When pointed out to the server, he apologized and said the bar served up (as you probably guessed) a Gibson.  After shooing the waiter a bit and sipping, we finally turned to said menu which again reflected (not only the lights) the historical aspect of the place  .It entered on steaks of course, but they also offered other non beefy things (fried catfish, fried shrimp, Hawaiian chicken). 
6249


One of the things they are apparently “famous" for are the “Lamb Fries” offered both as an appetizer and an entrée.  Well, it turns out that the lamb fries use the…. byproduct of the lamb neutering process.  Nuff said, I didn’t try them.  Not pictured on the menu above (in probably a futile attempt to let your read it) is a lot of verbiage on how they achieve the “perfect steak” starting with a “closely guarded house secret” aging process.  It goes on..”……the “PERFECT STEAK” is then hand-cut (never frozen) in our own butcher shop, then broiled over a sharp, hot flame from real charcoal that finishes the meat to a sear on the outside—juicy and tender within! Order your steak according to the How do you Like Your Steak?” chart below:

Rare Red cool center
Medium Rare Red warm center
Medium Pink hot center
Medium Well Hot center, trace of pink
Well done Charred outside, broiled throughout

It what has become a steakhouse necessity, there are “sides” you can order besides your baked potato and Cattlemen’s salad, a choice of grilled shrimp, fresh sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce and the seemingly ubiquitous mac and cheese.   I never have quite understood why I would like a dish of gooey noodles coated with cheese sauce with my steak.  Anyway, this has probably dragged on longer than you wished, I decided decided to have their Cattlemen’s Strip Sirloin (Thick, center cut strip sirloin) medium rare.  MFO decided to try their Broiled Salmon.   After some debate we decided on one order of the Fresh Sautéed Mushrooms.   A sort of bright spot (I’m sort of tipping my hand here) was the wine list which had a pretty good selection, and resulted in an order of a Honig sauvignon blanc and a Carpe Diem Cab.

The room was pretty full, with most tables occupied, many family groups, and what I presumed was local folks out for a Sunday night dinner.  DFD was pretty loose (as I said a few ball caps, some western hats, mostly flannel shirts), but hey, probably Just Right dress.    Once again the bugaboo of “expectations” raises it’s ugly head.   When you hear the term “strip Steak” does something like this come to mind?(borrowed from the web)



Compare this to the Cattlemen’s offering served to me:



Where’s the sear? And what is it swimming in?  it’s not fair to call it dishwater, but it does come to mind.  Whoops! That parsley kind of slipped, and couldn’t be a plainer baked potato.  And then came the crowning blow!  Here is a restaurant that has been cooking steaks for over 100 years, probably cooking that many every day, they make their living on (see above) “terrific food” and presumably have many experienced cooks in the kitchen.   As he drops the steak, the server says: “would you please cut into the steak to see if it is done right?  Swear to God it wasn’t: “to your liking”, it was “done right”.  I asked him if he had doubts, or didn’t trust his kitchen, and said he just wanted to make sure.  I suppose there are diners that think this is great, but it sure puts me off.  He didn’t ask MFO about her salmon, nor maybe the rolls, just their bread and butter item, Steak!  And those “Fresh Sautéed Mushrooms”? 



Do they look “fresh”?, and how hard is it to remove those woody stems that are so ugly (and all standing at attention), and what are they sitting in?  Needless to say, they mostly were left untouched, after a taste resulted in a soggy, chewy, piece of food.

I will say that the steak did have some flavor, but “thick”? nope, maybe a good half inch.

So it wasn’t the best experience we have had lately.  How in the world can this establishment be rated in the top five in Oklahoma City?  What would number 10 be like?  I don’t know anybody from there, but there has to be better options.  Maybe if the description would say something about: “harking back to the golden years of stockyards, looking into the past” or something like that, but geez.  Terrific food?  No way.

I don’t imagine most/any readers will have the opportunity to eat (yes, eat) in OKC, but don’t waste your time and money on Cattlemen’s Steakhouse.  And never mind

DFD


PS I went to TripAdvisor and condensed much of the above, and never (nor expected to) got any feedback.  Swallowed hard and gave them two bullets.