Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kitchen Renovation Saga Part 9

More cabinets installed! The last two cabinets will not be installed until we get our new stove and since we have to pay off the cabinets and save for some kind of kick-ass stove, it will take some time. My camera was not consistent in getting the color right, but the cabinets are the same color. In any case enjoy the pics...

Digging the Pig

On the way home last night after a day exchanging/returning kitchen cabinet pieces/parts at Ikea, we stopped for dinner at The Smokey Pig in Ashland. It had been several years since our last visit. The prodigious pig paraphernalia still overwhelms the place. We were sullenly guided to our country bench booth by some high schooler. Thank goodness this guy did not serve us. Our waitress, Bobbie Jo, had a winning smile and pleasant demeanor. Our spirits rose further upon discovering that the Pig now served chopped North Carolina BBQ in full ($8.95) and half plates ($6.95). Both came with two sides and hush puppies. The pork barbecue was smoked to our satisfaction and featured a cruet of eye-twitching vinegary, peppery sauce to season the pork to our satisfaction. Sides included a selection of the usuals - mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans, collard greens, pickled beets, fries, etc. The Pig also features apple puppies. I tried the pups which looked like hush puppies, but was more like apple spiced fried dough in a sweet sauce. Not my favorite. Overall, however, a cheap dinner with decent BBQ.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

St James and Judd's Hill

On Thursday April 24 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM J. Emerson on Grove Ave. is hosting another fabulous wine tasting. This tasting will feature the following:

2006 St. James Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
2006 St. James Vineyards Chardonnay
2005 St. James Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Judd's Hill Pinot Noir
2005 Judd's Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lazy Drinking

We picked up Lazy Lizard Merlot at Once Upon a Vine last night for $7.99. A quiet unassuming vin de pays from the Languedoc region of France. Smooth and fruity and lazily lovely on a warm Spring evening. Of course, we really bought the bottle because of the lizard...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh My God ! Cabinets!! Kitchen Renovation Saga Part 8

The cabinets that have been installed by my handyman hubby are beautiful! About 2/3's of the way finished. Because we are part of the DIY crowd (for the sake of moolah), we purchased a myriad of flat packed boxes from Ikea. And saving money can cost you in the end. For all of the "self serve" items, we were fine. Everything was in the aisles as promised. The items that had to be obtained from the stock warehouse was an entirely different experience. A humongous wait (we really think they forgot us). Everything came out piece meal and then they wanted us to sign saying we had received everything before counting it. No way, buddy. When we counted (over 80 boxes), we were missing a few boxes. We thought we had also matched up all of the stock numbers as well. We were wrong. We got more cabinet facings and not enough glass fronted doors. We also have a damaged facing. The rest of the week we will open the rest and determine what else needs to be returned/exchanged, etc.

In any case, I now have some cabinets and are already using them. Oh, joy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bin 22 Wine Tasting Dinner April 22

Bin 22 in Carytown is holding a wine tasting/dinner on Tuesday, April 22 at 7 PM. The $35 a person event will feature wines from Argentina.

First Course – A Cheese Selection paired with Andeluna Torrentes 2006 and Colonia las Liebres Bonarda 2006.

Second Course – Mixed Green Salad with Blue Cheese , Candied Walnuts, and Grilled Flank Steak paired with Sophania Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and Gouguenheim Malbec 2006.

Third Course – Chocolate Pate paired with Catena Malbec 2006.

Seth Torrence from The Country Vintner will be representing the wines. To make reservations call 358-4501 or email Bin 22 at

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend (I am saving money for an upcoming vacation to Chicago), but this should be a wonderful wine tasting at a fantastic price. The Gouguenheim Malbec alone is worth the price of admission. This is probably the best Argentinean wine I have ever had.

Sharpen Knives at Sur la table

Sur la table at Stony Point will sharpen two knives for free during the month of April.

Spring Menu

This past weekend we spent the day with my aunt and uncle and to cook a multi-course dinner complete with wine. We arrived in the morning and brought goodies for lunch, as well. The menu is below with a few interspersed pictures. Unfortunately, by the time the main dishes and dessert were cooked, we forgot to take pictures and the chicken dish looked absolutely gorgeous with my aunt’s serving dishes. Oh well. The food, wine, and company (including my parents and my grandmother) were fantastic.

Spring Lunch

Fresh Mozzarella Drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar
Roasted Red Peppers
Cured Meat Assortment from Belmont Butchery – Proscuitto, Tuscano, and Soppressata
Cheese Assortment from River City Cellars – Zamorano, Aged Gouda, and Red Dragon
2007 Domaine Bellevue Touraine Rose

2005 Georges Duboeuf Prestige Morgon

Spring Dinner
Romaine, Green Leaf, and Radicchio Salad with Cashews and pjpink’s Famous Salad Dressing
Chicken Breasts with Garlic Tarragon Sauce
Salmon Marinated in Pineapple and Lemon and Roasted with Cumin, Chili Powder, and Cinnamon
Fennel and Carrots Sautéed in Chicken Broth and Butter
Potatoes with Fresh Parsley and Butter
2002 Charles Schleret Riesling, Vin D’Alsace
2006 Adelsheim Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

Rustic Apple and Dried Cherry Pie Prepared with Pear Nectar and Cointreau
Quady Electra Orange Muscat

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Phoenician - In Your Face Flavor

Last Friday we treated ourselves to dinner at the Phoenician. We had dined there a couple of weeks ago with friends. But that experience was less than satisfying. The place jumped with diners and our waitress wasn’t quite on the ball. We ordered the Mezza and had no room to put all of the dishes. And since I was not very familiar with Lebanese fare, I had no idea what I was consuming. Some things I liked, some I didn’t, but what were all of those things called? No clue. I did lust after a few kebab entrees that wafted our way to land on other tables…

…That lust propelled us to try again. For our 2nd trip we arrived about 8 PM. The early show had left and the light night crowd had not found the place, yet. All to our advantage since we were seated in a comfy corner replete with plush maroon cushions. On this trip not only did I admire the over the top décor (the interior is vastly different from the chili pepper lights and Corona beer mobiles that La Casita sported), I also noticed the Persian-type rugs gracing the floor. Our waitress (who gave immaculate service throughout the evening) immediately appeared with a basket of regular and toasted pita triangles, homemade yogurt flavored with lemon and a hint of mint, marinated cucumbers, and a sampling of green and black olives. This abundance of welcoming bounty set the tone for the rest of our meal – full in-your-face intense flavor.

As we nibbled we perused the small wine list. Over half of the offerings were Lebanese. And, yes, there is decent wine from Lebanon. For this evening we chose Chateau Ksara Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bekaa Valley. Very tasty and more similar to a Bordeaux style than a California style. If you go, take a chance on it or another Lebanese offering. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

We decided to share a starter and a salad before digging into our entrees. We had a tough time choosing a starter. Lots of options and most salivatingly tempting. We finally opted for the Fatayer Kishik - Baked pastries filled with a mix of seasoned aged dried cheese and onions. We received two round pastries, a little heavier than puff pastry topped with what looked like a red seasoning (we assumed it was the cheese and onions). Somewhat different than what we expected. And while the seasoning was intense, this was not our favorite. No matter. Next, we ordered Tabouli - A traditional Lebanese salad prepared with fresh parsley, tomatoes, diced onions, crushed wheat, fresh squeezed Lemon juice, olive oil and spices. I’ve had tabouli before – lots of couscous, a few sprigs of parsley, some chopped up tomatoes and onions, and the spices of the moment. Why call it a salad? Not this time. This salad had a right to be listed at the top of the salad offerings. On a bed of lettuce a mound of fresh chopped parsley sat, tossed with diced tomatoes and onions and just a touch of crushed wheat. What a fresh taste along with the fresh squeezed lemon and vinegar and spices. Somewhat different than we expected, but, in this case, head and shoulders beyond our taste expectations. I’m trying to figure out how I can make a bastardized version at home using roasted red peppers.

On to the entrees. Hubby decided to try the Chicken Taouk - Tender white chicken breast meat, marinated and skewered with, tomatoes and onions, and green peppers served with rice pilaf and green beans. Basically, chicken kebabs. He liked the fact that the meal arrived already deskewered. Much easier to eat and less risk of any tasty morsels skittering across the Persian-style floor coverings. The edges of the onions and peppers were slightly charred, but did not impart any burnt taste. The restaurant also used sweet onions which is our onion of choice at home. The chicken was accompanied by an extremely intense garlic paste. When I tried it all by its lonesome, the stuff burned going down. Whew. But it was exactly what the chicken cried out for (in small quantities). I decided to get the Chicken Shawarma - Sliced then grilled marinated chicken breast, served with rice pilaf green beans and tahini sauce. My chicken was jammed packed with Lebanese spices (I’m not sure what they were). And while I did not really like the tahini sauce, I did enjoy my chicken with the garlic paste. My dish definitely had more of an intense flavor, but both were wonderful. The rice pilaf and green beans were decent, but the flavorful chicken stole the show.

We were very pleased with this 2nd visit and definitely enjoyed the new flavor sensations.

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