Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How Cool

Wow! The last activity on this blog was on June 17, 2006 at 7:30 PM! My baby girl was born at 8:06 PM! She was in the middle of being born when that post was made! Woo hoo!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pregnancy Myths and Beef Brisket

So, I was talking to my friend Amber's man the other day, and he was talking about how he could not even find brisket in Montana. They searched and finally found a piece at a local butcher shop, but it was not easy to do. I think I figured out the mystery. Grocery stores up here North of the Mason-Dixon refer to the cut as corned beef. Who knew? So I bought a point end chunk of the stuff and it's currently marinading.
Is marinading a word?
Anywhoo... Don't ask me for the recipe, I used about three bags of brown sugar, what was left in each of them, they were dried out. Steens cane syrup, molasses, olive oil, orange juice, half a lemon, a dash of red wine vineger, some soy sauce, kitchen bouquet, 4 cloves of garlic, an onion, and every spice you can imagine.
We'll put that baby on in the morning and see how it turns out. I actually had more marinade than meat, I only bought a 2 1/2 lb chunk. It'll shrink up pretty good.
Anywhoo...
About the pregnancy myths.
You can't eat sushi or soft cheese while you are pregnant.
#1 you can eat sushi while you're pregnant, just avoid raw and high mercury fish. I always go for the cooked stuff anyway so it's no change in my diet.
#2 soft cheese is safe as long as it's made from pasteurized milk. It's the bacteria in unpasteurized milk that's dangerous.

So, bring on the spider rolls and goat cheese!

My shrimp po-boys turned out okay. The cabbage was too sweet for my tastes, and I prefer gulf shrimp, but it was good. If I can get ahold of some gulf shrimp I'll do it again, with lettuce instead of cabbage this time. The trick is to double dip your shrimp in the batter with an egg wash in between, it gives it that restaurant style coating (not sizzler, but down home style). Another tip is to butterfly them real good. The bread from wal-mart was not bad either. It isn't po-boy bread, but it was okay.

What else, I'm making homemade yeast rolls today. They are my all time favorite. I wanted to make a roast w/veggies, so I would have something to go along with my rolls.

:)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Friends, French Onion Soup, and other things

So, the semester has started, which means that I am blindingly busy and for comfort I turn to food. Not an easy task in Missoula, Montana. I have had some rather pleasant dining experiences lately however, perhaps due to the company. Financially I'm stressed which impacts my ability to fully enjoy dining out, but nonetheless, good company does make a difference.
Recently I have been dining out with my homies: Sarah and Amber (and Jenni, once - wish we could hook up more). Also mom and I went out to lunch with two friends from Church.
We have visited:
the Depot: the standard for their salad bar. Pricey restaurant overall, but pretty decent food and atmosphere.
La Fiesta en Jalisco: Large portions, decent Mexican, never in too much of a hurry to go back, but not a bad experience either.
Finn and Porter: the great thing about Finn is the atmosphere, and the coupon you get each time for a free appetizer or dessert. That thing can save you up to 12 bucks! I went last night and met my homies. I've acquired a taste for their french onion soup (still like Bennigan's the best though). I order it with half the usual amount of bread, otherwise it's too much). The server's can either be GREAT or a little uptight, but its nothing we can't handle.
the Bridge: I had warm goat cheese and toasted (a little much) crustini. It's okay, they try to hard with their pizza I think.
China Buffet: the usual for a large scale chinese buffet, similar quality to other chinese buffets of that scale.
Speaking of chinese food... there was a little place in Lafayette, LA (where I did my first stint as an undergrad) called Kim Son. It was a total hole in the wall... Had the BEST sweet and sour shrimp and plate lunch special EVER. I really miss that. So, that got me looking online today for restaurants I miss the most in Lafayette. Brought back alot of memories and made me very hungry.
These are a few of my favorites:
Chris' Poboys- By far the best shrimp po-boy I have ever had. I am so hungry for a shrimp po-boy right now. The bread and the fact that they use cabbage instead of lettuce make this po-boy distinct from all others. My stomach is growling and I am getting incredibly homesick.
Judice Inn- Wonderful hamburgers, with this spicy sauce spread thin on the bun that comes standard. Also a huge hunk of onion toothpicked to the paper wrap ( I never eat this, but it's neat). Judice Inn serves chips and coke in the bottle. Simple. Delicious.
This is the kind of town you can pretty much walk into the local grocery and walk out with something satisfying to eat. Sigh, I'm really homesick.
I miss good food.
So, my plan for tonight is to try to recreate a shrimp po-boy to satisfy my craving. I imagine I'll have some trouble finding good bread and gulf shrimp, but I'll make do.
I make a mean roast beef po-boy, but getting the shrimp batter right is my challenge today. It might sound like a simple task but restaurants do it different than "home style" corn meal batter, rest assured I have an idea of what to do.
It's a delicate combination that makes a great shrimp po-boy. The crusty chewy bread (lightly toasted)... the golden fried, perfectly seasoned, Louisiana Gulf shrimp, thinly shredded cabbage (lettuce in most places, though), just the right amount of mayo, and thin slices of tomato.

The more I think about food, the more I want to go home. It's Mardi Gras season, and I want a strawberry and cream cheese king cake. I'd also like a 20 piece box of popeye's chicken and a dozen biscuits to go with it.

Okay, I have a massive amount of work to do so I have to get something to eat so I can quit procrastinating and get to finishing graduate school.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Finn and Porter

Great Lunch!
Today Sarah and I went to Finn and Porter, an upscale restaurant on the river. Sarah had the Cobb Salad, a favorite of hers. I had the French Onion soup, easy on the bread. We enjoyed sourdough bread and butter as we chatted it up over our lunch. I had an iced tea. The atmosphere and service were wonderful, and the food was good too. I spent only $9, including tip and got a coupon for a free appetizer next time, comes standard on your receipt if you call and answer a few survey questions, worth up to 9.00.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Higgins Alley

Well, tonight I went to dinner at Higgin's Alley with my mom and son. A little Italian place in downtown Missoula which used to be called Zimmerino's.
I went because they have a great ceaser salad for only 2.50 and could eat for less than I would at MickeyD's in a sit down establishment. I didn't feel much like cooking and money is tight.

First order of business, drinks. My little guy ordered a Dr. Pepper, well, they were having problems with the CO2, he then ordered a Sprite. They of course were still having problems with the CO2. My mom and I decided to order Italian sodas, for 1.50 for a small Italian soda, we figured what the hay, a soda cost that much. When our drinks finally arrived, the CO2 issue caused our glass to be only half full of actual soda, the rest was foam. That's okay I suppose. I tasted my son's "sprite" but it was mostly soda water, he seemed content with it though.

They brought some bread to the table, foccacia with a container of olive oil. I asked for some ground pepper, after a twist of the pepper grinder he asks if that's enough. I say yes (I'm feelings uncharacteristically polite) and reach for the pepper shaker. The foccacia is okay, I was hoping for the signature garlic bread they serve but to no avail. Didn't quite understand the plain olive oil for dipping concept, but okay.

Next we order, I order the lemon ceaser salad add chicken (2.50+2.00), my mom ordered a garden salad (1.95) and my son ordered a child size plain pasta (come to find out cost 4.95).
As the waiter delivered my salad the chicken breast fell off the plate onto the floor, he served us the wrong salads, and then he apologized for dropping the chicken, I told him not to worry about it. There were three bite sized morsels of chicken left. I gave one to my mom, ate the other two. Really wished I had some more chicken. Guess what, he charged me for the chicken, an entire split breast hit the floor, I was left with three bite sized pieces, and he charged me. He also offered to bring us a sample cup of the soup so we could decide if we wanted soup, never arrived.
At this point I'm pretty distressed, and I haven't seen the bill to find my son's plain child sized portion of spaghetti was 4.95, I was charged for the chicken, AND the small Italian soda was a misprint on the menu, so we paid 5.00 for the Italian sodas, would I like to speak to a manager about that? Oh, I forgot to mention I asked if I could have a piece of garlic bread to go with my salad, he brings us an entire order of garlic bread, another 2.95. Didn't even touch it as it came so late in the meal I was done, and my son had given me the piece that came with his pasta. The best part of the meal was that my son ate all of his pasta and shared his bread with me. That was really nice.

Food Quality: Average. The chicken was promising yet it was an unfulfilled promise. The bread was just okay. The salad was fresh and crisp. My son enjoyed his plain pasta (no butter or anything). My mom thought the salad was okay. The drinks were not that great. Mom liked her's but it was a rip off for a half glass of soda.
Service: Our server was polite, sometimes slow, dropped our food, and charged us relentlessly for things that should have never been placed on our bill. Some things were overpriced.
Overall experience: Not in any hurry to return, bad experience.
Cost: around 21.00 for a meal that should not have been over 14.00
The overall quality and portion size, particularly of the child's meal and drinks was poor.

Breakdown:
Salad #1: 1.95
Salad #2: 2.50
add Chicken: 2.00 (should not have been charged for this)
Child's pasta: 4.95 (Expensive for a plate of plain spaghetti)
2 small Italian Sodas: Should have been 3.00, charged 5.00 (ripoff)
1 order of garlic bread: 2.95 (I didn't specifically order this, just asked for a piece... again, should not have been charged, this was not clear to me at the time I requested garlic bread, and I even asked if we would need to get an order or could we just get a piece to go with our salads)
Iced tea: 1.00
Kid's soda: .75
Total: 21.10

At LEAST 7.00 of this was an outright overcharge. I should have never been charged for the chicken, garlic bread, or LARGE Italian sodas. I question whether we should have been charged for the drinks at all considering the problems and half glass issue. The overall experience was unpleasant for me but my son had a good time, and that made it okay. I wouldn't recommend this restaurant to others in the future, though.
Now, why did I pay for the items that seemed excessive? I really don't know. I'm usually one to speak out but tonight I didn't feel like saying anything. I tipped $3.15, a solid 15%, but if he had done right by us he would have gotten a better tip. Should have let his tip be the overpayment, incentive for him to correct the bill. In other words, yeah he had some problems and he should have corrected them. That is what distinguishes decent service from poor service.

Good Food in Missoula

Why is it that Missoula's best restaurants go out of business? The one's I like, that offer truly good cuisine, close down. It just serves to further highlight the shameful lack of good food in this town which is like rubbing salt into a wound for me.
You all know I'm from Louisiana. I have a love for food. It is an important part of my day. Missoula lacks that same appreciation for good food I think. It's frustrating.
For instance, the best Italian restaurant in town (probably the only really good one) was the Waterfront Pasta House. It closed down and has now been replaced by World Of Wings. UGH.
Waterfront had these wonderful olives in oil served with sourdough bread... it was so good.
I'm big on the bread, it can make or break a restaurant.
Anyway, as I continue to nurse my wounds from that each time I have bad Italian, I now find that the best burger in town is no more. Nap's closed!
Why? Nap's was the best burger in Missoula, possibly in the Northwest US. It was a favorite spot for my family. I'm not sure what is behind these decisions, but it is obvious that food quality does not support a restaurant staying open. Most of the restaurants in this town would have closed within the first week back home. Why do folks here settle for mediocre food?
Anyway, this is my opinion. I dreamt (is that a word?) about Popeyes this morning. I wonder if that's related to my disappointment about Nap's closing. Anyway, I'm going to continue my search for good food in Missoula, and post my opinion on this site, your opinions, suggestions, and ramblings are welcome here as well. I think I'll call a friend and see if she's interested in going to Higgin's alley tonight for a lemon ceasar salad and garlic bread. I'll let you know about our experience.