Awash Ethiopian Restaurant

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I love Ethiopian food. It’s something that we have absolutely NONE of in Albany, so whenever I’m near a place with Ethiopian food, I will always choose Ethiopian. Whenever I’m in NYC I can never manage to get away to Manhattan for Ethiopian food. But on my most recent visit I managed to convince my Dad, his girlfriend, and uncle to try Ethiopian food at Awash on the Upper West Side.

We drove there from Flushing in about a half hour, found (free) street parking after paying for parking (of course), and were seated immediately. The interior is gorgeous. Very romantic and lots of low lighting.
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Here’s the injera and freebie sides that came with what we ordered. Since we were so many people they spread out our meals across two plates.
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Plate two.
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So what did we order?

Starting at the red stuff on the left, we got:
Key Sir Afcha (carrots, beets, and potato)
Awash Tibs (grilled beef)
More Key Sir Afcha
Gomen Besiga (lamb, collards, onions)
Free cabbage and carrot dish
Free lentil dish
Shiro (chickpeas and split peas with tomato and onion)
Center: Awash Chicken

We all LOVED the Gomen Besiga. That was just a fantastic combination of flavors. Lamby goodness, collards, and onions with delicious Ethiopian butter and false cardamom. Mmm. Just fantastic. It was all good, but this was a standout dish.

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I also had to order the kitfo (raw beef), which was also good, if a bit heavy on the butter.

The injera was soft and spongy, but not too moist or sour. It was definitely a good intro injera to folks new to Ethiopian food. I’ve had it more sour than this preparation, but really it’s all about the texture for me and this was great. Soft with a little bit of chewy pliancy to it, but not tough or hard.

We had a few leftovers that we took with us. Their menu is a bit out of date. Prices are a few dollars higher per item than listed, and their physical menu touts a vegan meal available as well.

All that plus three glasses of Ethiopian wine was $160 with 20% post-tax gratuity included.

Salted Vegetable with Soy Bean Skin & Edamame

I love the salted veggie with soy bean skin dish at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. It’s a comforting dish that really adds a bit of greenery to colder months. I also like to think it’d got some cold-curing properties, too.

I found this recipe for Soy Beans, Snow Cabbage, & Tofu Skin Ribbons off of Food Mayhem’s site, and it’s super-duper easy and awesome.

You only need three ingredients. Seriously, that’s it. No extra sauces or condiments. Some mustard greens (or whatever kinda-bitter greens), edamame, and soy bean skin. (I got the soy bean skin at the Asian Supermarket – $2.99 for 8 oz). I’ve also used the dried thin sheets of tofu skin, too. Either way, soy goodness.

Okay, so there’s some prep work involved. You could half-ass it and use the salted preserved veggie packets/jars/cans, but c’mon. This tastes so much better, and so much fresher. It’s worth the extra time investment.

Wash and separate the leaves from your bunches of mustard greens.

Then give them a fine dice, or a rough mince and sprinkle them with a few tablespoons of kosher salt.

The dicing takes me the longest. But it’s so worthwhile.

Then after you salt it, you start mixing it up. Really work that salt in there. Give ’em a squeeze. We want to drain out excess water so it’s more like a pickle.

After letting it sit for about an hour, there’s extra liquid on the bottom. After this, I transferred the greens to a towel and squeezed it out to really wring out excess moisture. No need to be gentle with these greens!

Then it’s time to slice up your soy bean skin. Easiest part of the recipe. Open packet. Slice into ribbons. Done. One 8 oz packet of soy bean skin lasted me for two large recipes.

Then it’s time to get cookin! Add a few teaspoons of oil into your pan and let them heat up. Toss in some of the salted veggies. Sautee for a few minutes, just to lightly cook them.

After that, add in your tofu skin with some water or broth. You can keep it vegetarian, or add animal broth. I like chicken, but beef is fine too.This is mainly so the soy bean skin gets warmed up, and doesn’t stick to the pans. Just a few splashes is all you need. We’re not making soup here. Go lightly at first – you can always add more later.

Once that’s heated through, toss in the frozen edamame. Once they’re heated through your dish is done. That’s it!

Mmmm, gigantic plate of salted veggies and soy bean skin. I went a little heavy on the edamame in this dish, as you can tell. Whatever, still good!

Eat with some dumplings. Or don’t whatever. Sometimes I just like eating a big bowl of this stuff. So freaking good! Best of all, tons of protein! (for some reason, I never seem to eat enough protein)

The Secret Cafe

I never win raffles. I’ll toss in a buck or two and hope for the best. Partly because I never really have more than a few dollars in cash on me at any given time, and partly because whenever I’ve entered raffles in the past, there’s always someone else that will end up beating me.
This has been going on since at least the third grade. When I was in Chinese school Danny Liu’s parents would buy armloads of $20 5 foot reams of raffle tickets, and Danny would be left swaddled in raffle tickets. Whenever numbers were called and no winner surfaced in 30 seconds, everyone sighed and sat back, waiting for Danny to check all of the tickets. This kind of slowed things down, but I’ll be damned if the Liu familiy didn’t win just about everything they entered.

But this time, I won a great raffle. It was for dinner! It was from The Furnace Collective. I entered on a First Friday and figured I might win since there weren’t many other people in yet (until one of my buddies up and bought five tickets). But I did win!! This is probably the best raffle I’ve ever one! It translated directly into FOOD! It was only $15 per person any way, but hooray, I won!

So on that auspicious night, I showed up with my Artsy Designer Friend. It was in a random house in Albany that was just freaking gorgeous on the inside and unassuming on the outside.

First up was a generous appetizer plate. Oh, and by the way, most of these pictures are yellowy, but whatever, they are pictures and not too blurry. You get the idea. It’s something to break up the monotony of my words.

I think everything that night was vegan. Artsy Designer Friend is a celiac, so he can’t eat wheat. He popped a mushroom after thinking they were safe, but evidently they used some kind of vegan thing with wheat in it. He is super chill and was like “Well, whatever. I tried some place new and knew it was a risk. I’m gonna enjoy the rest of my meal.” Now there’s a trooper. Oh, and the Furnace folks were super apologetic about the whole thing and couldn’t have been nicer. (But for what it’s worth, those mushrooms were totally worth it)

His super-triple-checked-free-of-gluten mushroom risotto. It was creamy and risotto-y. I took a nibble because it’swhatido. I’m still not a risotto fan, but still, it was nice.

I got beet ravioli! Red, beety skins! Stuffed with a celery/celeraic filling. Glazed with… SOMETHING!

But you know what was the best part? Those veggie sides!! The brussels sprouts were perfectly seared and charred on the cut sides, and still had plenty of crunch throughout.

And those kale greens and white beans? Scrumptious! However they cooked it, it was awesome. Tender soft beans, and lightly cooked kale that didn’t taste too bitterly of kale. Like Kale-Light.

Here’s an innard of a ravioli. Raviolo? White insides, red outsides.

Artsy Designer Friend knew the dessert chef, who whipped him up an off-menu gluten-free dessert. Some apple slices, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and pomegranate seeds. And lotsa cocoa powder. He was really happy.
I couldn’t say no to the pumpkin pie with WHITE CHOCOLATE. It was awesome, and a great way to end the meal.

It was such a great night, free to boot, and then the icing on the free-raffle-winning cake is that someone comes up to me and asks if I know someone. From Washingtonville! It turns out we went to middle school together. How crazy is that?!

Dinosaur BBQ Opening Night

This was the only picture I nabbed before my camera died. Blogging fail. But I met up with phairhead and SexyBeast to check out opening night at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy after missing an earlier meeting with the AoA crew. It’s been an highly anticipated arrival to the Cap Region, so I figured I’d see what all the fuss was about.

We waited about an hour before we were seated. Our waitress was really friendly, despite the crush of people there, and who had already been there all day. Sweet gal. It was a bit of a comedy of errors with my ordering. Piggy that I am, I ordered a link combo with brisket and ribs. But they were out of the hot links. Then they were out of brisket. In the end, I got some ribs and pulled pork combo for $15.50.

The ribs were great. Nicely smokey, and with a bit of a laquer that reminded me of chinese-style ribs. They had a good chew to them. Not falling-off-the-bone soft (which I don’t really care for. The texture is a little too mushy), but not too tough that you were getting pieces stuck in your teeth. Good texture They were meaty, smokey and the ribs were the baby back rib variety.

The pulled pork was okay. Really tender and moist. Nothing mind blowing, but satisfying. For the price, I kind of thought there would be a little more pork. As it was, there was a 1/4 rack of ribs (3 ribs) and about a half cup of pulled pork with cornbread and two sides. That doesn’t really scream $15.50 for me.

I also got fries and beans as my two side dishes. The fries stayed crispy for the whole meal, an impressive feat. The beans were really good. Creamy, soft, with a few bits of jalapeno throughout. Not bad at all.

The cornbread was fine – sweet. Like a combo of yankee and southern (lots of cornmeal), and very tender.

I still want to go back and try the hot link sausage, and possibly the brisket. I might try sandwiches, since they were piled high with meat. And the ribs. The ribs were really good.

I wouldn’t compare Dinosaur to either Capital Q or Pig Pit. It’s different. The ribs at Capital Q are different (sparerib maybe? and much larger), and the pulled pork at Pig Pit is significantly smokier and flavorful. But overall, Dinosaur is a nice spot for some dine-in Que. Service was really good all night, and everyone was friendly and willing to help us when they had a moment.

Oh, and I managed to save a wee bit of food for Albany John to try. He wasn’t wowed by the pulled pork, but thought the rib was pretty good. I saved him a rib, and then ate half of it. ‘Cause that’s what good wives do. What? I let him have some of it.

Parivar Chat

I think I can breathe now. Daniel B. and I went to Parivar (1275 Central Ave, Albany, NY) to peruse the new Indian grocery store, and also to get a peep of the hot bar area in the back, known as Parivar Chat.

Their menu is comprised of some different kinds of chat, as well as South Indian dishes, and a bunch of desserts.

One of the guys there is from Cali, and had a business there before moving to the East Coast. Daniel B, Mr. California, was quite pleased with the selection.

We started off with some pre-made drinks from the fridge. A Pista Falooda (pistachio drink) for me, and mango lassi for Dan and the kiddo. Both were $3.99. Kind of on the expensive side, but man were they good. The lassi was so fresh and really tasted like fresh mango, not like mango pulp and sugar. The pista? Dude, it was like a shake. There was green vermicelli noodle bits in there, and tons of crushed pistachios. Really thick, and REALLY good. $3.99 is totally fair for that drink.

Papdi chat for $4.99. Chickpeas, diced red onions, crunchy strips that are kind of like toasted pita chips, and other crunchy fluffy bits on top. All slathered with some hot and sweet and salty yogurty sauce. Yum! There was a bit of kick to this, but it was really on the mild side, and addictive to eat. And pretty filling for two people.


Masala Dosa ($5.99). Hello gigantic pancake thing filled with potatoes! It was a little on the thick and tough side, but so enjoyable to eat. There was the hot red sauce, and the less hot but still pretty hot nutty coconut sauce to dip in to, plus lentil soup.

SAMOSA!! $1.50, and came with the tamarind and green sauces.
Not too oily, plenty crisp, and a good dose of heat and spice in the filling! I was reaching for the water at this point.

Chole Bhature ($5.99) came out to round out lunch. It was all vegetarian, but so filling. Also, it looks like they don’t open officially until 3 pm per their signage, but they were very accomodating to our orders and others who came by to pick up sweets and stuff for home.

Chole is poofy fried dough with bean things on the side! And a really hot red paste for slathering (note: slather lightly – this is oil based and REALLY packs a kick). How could I not love this?!

Dan demonstrates how to attack a chole. With yo hands!! The chickpea side of beans was well flavored – just tons of… flavor! Dan and I managed to finish just about everything, but barely. Just barely. It might not look like a lot, but we probably would have been fine with one drink and two dishes. It was just… so filling. And so good. And so hard to stop eating.

Ok, I just wanted to let you guys know that. Now I’mma go off to Astoria and drink my weight in Czech beer.

Kisses!

Grilled Chicken & Chuck Steak

Albany John and I bought split chicken breasts and chuck steaks at Hannaford. They were on sale ($1/lb for the chicken boobs, $2/lb for the moo cow) and more than likely factory farmed after living terrible lives waiting for the axe. I hold no illusions about such cheap meat being ethically sourced or living happy lives dancing in the country.

BUT THEY WERE ON SALE AND I WANTED TO GRILL SOMETHING. I know, I’m part of the problem with the demand for cheap meat and factory farming.

I think Hannaford is the better chain grocery store in the area. They usually have lower prices, much friendlier staff, and better quality overall.
After trying “good” beef (grain fed, no-hormone, etc), I think their beef tends to be not that great as-is, but it’s fine when it’s got a sauce or marinade on/in it.

I let it sit in a ton of garlic (~3/4 of a head), and a little bit of chili powder, parsley, marjoram, kosher salt, and olive oil.

Albany John made some kind of marinade out of sake, garlic and other stuff for the chicken.

We eventually found a grill in Waterford, NY. Because we. Needed. Charcoal. Grilling. I rather liked it – it had a good view of Peebles Island and some docked boats, sans $6 parking fee. I’ll have to remember it when I think of going to Peebles Island again. It’s right next to it, and you can walk there from the Waterford side.

The chicken took a chicken’s age to cook, but oh man was it nice and charred. Albany John and I tore into a breast while sitting on a bench at sunset. I’m sure we looked like wild hobos tearing maniacally at a piece of food, but in our minds it was a nice snack while waiting for everything else to get to the right temperature.

I did the steak, which was surprisingly easy to cook. Just a few minutes, and then pulled at rare. And man, I love instant-read thermometers. It makes cooking meat much easier for me (in that I don’t overcook it).

We drove home and let the meat rest a little while longer while we showered up. I made a salad from the last of the greens from my garden (some gai lan leaves, the pai tsai that wasn’t eaten by earwigs, and misc lettuces). I had to pull them. They were getting too tall, and the heatwave wasn’t helping either.

I also tossed in some sugar snap peas (man, they also did not like the heat), and some black beans. The black beans are those tiny little buggers in the salad. Who’d have thought black beans are pale green when fresh? I had to peel the pods to get them (trust me, the pods are inedible. way too tough).
They turn black when they dry, which I learned after the heatwave killed an indoor blackbean plant I had growing. But now I have, like, three dried black beans THAT I MADE MYSELF.

I made a garlicky, anchovified Caesar dressing to go along with it. GARLIC OVERLOAD was the theme of the night.

Check it, here’s the only piece of meat I’ve ever cooked rare! Albany John cut everything up and we ate it with some rice. The beef was also really good dipped into the salad dressing.

I’m liking rice more now out of laziness. It’s super easy to make in the rice cooker and heats the house up the least in comparison with other carbs (pasta, potatoes, bread, etc).

Oh yeah, and one more thing:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

Happy 4th Of July

If you can’t tell, my 4th of July was meatacular. So many kinds of animal. I was one happy lady. But we’ll get to supper in a second.

Albany John and I went to Amherst, MA to spend the holiday with Mama and Papa Amherst. A relaxing weekend with little to check off of our agendas.

Papa Amherst grows blueberries, and we had fresh blueberry pancakes in the morning. Yum!
Albany John and I would later mine the blueberry fields. I just love picking all those teeny little blue berries. If we ever have kids, it will be for the sole purpose of taking them to Mama and Papa Amherst’s to have fun picking blueberries. So many blueberries, so much fun!

and BAAAACCCOOONNNN! Papa Amherst makes the best bacon. Crispy and meaty. And it’s in the microwave, too! I consider it magically appearing bacon.

Then some pool-side lounging in the sun. It was pleasantly cloudy, so while it was hot, we didn’t have the suns rays beating down on us. And believe it or not, while Mama Amherst and Albany John were a little sunkissed at the end of the day, I got minimal color. Probably good, since I wasn’t wearing sunscreen.

Super Stop & Shop visit! I always love seeing the price differences at different grocery stores. Some of the prices at Stop & Shop in Hadley, MA are higher than I’m used to seeing locally in Albany, NY.

The title is silly. Are they telling me their meat is not that great and I should be cooking it well done (ick – pass and go to a local butcher), or is it common for people to put raw discs of meat on a burger bun and broil away?

Ground meat prices were much higher than I am used to seeing. They were all close to $4/lb.

However, one of the perks of Stop & Shops in MA is that THEY SELL LOBSTER ROLLS. They were $4.99 each, or 3 for $12.99. They looked mayo heavy, with small diced bits of lobster, but it’s not too shabby for the price.

And how neat are these? Stop & Shop has hand scanners to use so you can scan what you buy as you pick it, and just pay at the register. Probably not that useful for someone who’s going for a month of supplies, but for shoppers who buy under $20 of stuff a few times a week like me – oh man, it looks awesome.
Hannaford, can we get some of these in place?

After we came back home Papa Amherst gave me cake scraps/dessert preview. WITH A STRAWBERRY AND STRAWBERRY JUICES. It was awesome. Sponge cakey goodness.

These weren’t on the dessert menu, but I kept noshing on them throughout the day. Chocolate chip cookie bars. BARS OF COOKIES!!!! With NUTS and COCONUT!!! They were rich, and soooo good.

Dinner time came, and we picnic-ed outside with some family friends. If 4th of July isn’t the perfect time for chips & dip, I don’t know when is. It’s so American. Amurrrcan?

The friends brought some side dishes. A chicken pasta salad. No mayo – yeah! It was tasty. Pecans, chicken, basil, cilantro, olive oil. I want to make this at home some time.

Bean salad. Also tasty. Soft, cool beans. I like bean salads like this. So good for a hot day. The bell peppers weren’t too bad. I wouldn’t say they’re growing on me, but I didn’t pick out too many.

Albany John marinated some portobello mushrooms, and then Papa Amherst Grilled them. Yum! The mushrooms don’t dry out on the grill if you marinate them ahead of time. Nice and juicy. I like the mushroom stalks the best – they stay firm and get a nice char on them.

PLATTER OF MEAT! This was awesome – a platter of meat. One of every animal. Two kinds of pork ribs – the saucier ones are on the left, then smoky pork ribs top center, smoked beef short ribs are chopped and in the front bottom center, with smoked lamb on the right.

Papa Amherst is a man who knows how to smoke his meat. The dry smoked pork ribs were my favorite. They still had some body to them and were basically bacon on a stick (the bone is the stick). Salty, smoky pork. What’s not to love?
My second favorite was the lamb. Dude, I didn’t know you could smoke lamb. I mean, I know you can smoke anything, but maaaan. This was so good.
Mama and Papa Amherst also had a little buddy visiting. I kept wondering why he was begging so hard from me when I realized I ate like this:
Pork rib munching directly in front of dog. Probably just a little bit tempting, right?

Mama Amherst’s yummy fruit salad. The sweet yogurt dressing was great with all of the fruit: grapes, cherries, blueberries, bananas, and dried cranberries.

Plate round one. Yum!

Annnnd – dessert. Strawberry sponge cakes! This kicks shortcake’s ass. Sorry shortcake. You’re no match for sponge cake. Albany John couldn’t polish his off, so I “helped”.

And watermelon. Lots of watermelon. I felt like I could eat some more after eating watermelon slices. So refreshing.

Then we went to a church field to watch fireworks. Wow. That’ a lot of… dust in my camera? I thought that was a lot of “dust” to catch, so I took another snap of the same area.

This time those little dots in the air were dust/pollen bits I saw when the flash went off. I don’t really know what was up with the first picture, though.

Pow, America, Explosions, etc.

The next day we hit up the good Trader and bought noshy things. Mmm, Trader Joe’s.
We also went to the mall in the same plaza and I think there was a guy with an Asian fetish working the Famous Maker/Famous Labels or whatever store. Dude would not quit coming up to me every now and then, and I knew it was time to leave when he started showing me shoes and casually mentioned foot binding after I said they were all too small for me.
Oh, creepy dude. You were harmless, but still creepy. You probably need some time off, ’cause it looks like you’ve been in the store all by yourself for a while.
Update: My inlaws are even more awesome than anyone else’s. Papa Amherst sent me this link, “Just in case”.

And we went to Flayvors of Cook Farms on our way out.

Pistachio in the cone, and no-sugar vanilla in the cup. Pistachio was good. The pistachio nuts were soft, but in a good way. Still, I might be over my pistachio summer fetish now. It was fun while it lasted. The no-sugar vanilla was really sweet. I thought it was just going to be ice cream without sweetener, but it tasted like there was Splenda in it or something. I’ll pass next time and get Inez or Butter Cream.

Flayvors flavors are so creamy and rich. So one scoop is enough for me. $2.29 for each scoop, and close to $5 after tax for both scoops. They don’t kid either. It’s one. scoop. No extra. One. Scoop. I’m used to the places over here where one scoop is really 1.5 – 2 scoops.

Dinner @ SCCC’s Casola Dining Room – Spain & Portugal

Went to SCCC a bit ago for dinner with my girl Phairhead & Sexybeast, Daniel B, Albany John, and Panda. Rezzies at 7:30, and Sue, SB, and Dan were already waiting for us!

Panda kind-of-sort-of knew someone who he planned on saying hi to over the course of dinner at SCCC who ended up walking in and sitting down. SCCC only allows 6 reservations per table and no one else knew he was planning on walking in and joining us, but the management team were very polite and let him stay.

I’ll be blunt – the experience this time was not as great as last time. Food wasn’t as good, and the service was really spotty. Still, a good experience overall, but not as awesome as the first.

We got the Spain & Portugal menu. Here’s Albany John’s soup – Olla Podrida. Dan also got this soup. I tried a bit and it was okay, but the flavors were kind of weak and flat. It could have used more flavor from the pork components (ham & chorizo) and less garbanzo beans. There were a lot of garbanzo beans.

I got the tapas sampler appetizer. The shrimp were supposedly in some garlic sauce. I didn’t taste much garlic – mainly paprika. The shrimp themselves were overcooked, tough, and mealy.

The olives were a pleasant surprise. The green ones looked like they were popped just out of a jar (pimento strips and all), and the kalamatas looked mushy, but they were both pleasantly brine-y.

Bunuelos de Chorizo are the poofy fritters you can kind of see to the right and had zero chorizo flavor. I saw teeny bits of them, but basically it was fried dough with pretty red bits on the inside. It was well fried, but if it’s called a chorizo fritter it should have more chorizo in them.

And finally marcona almonds were pleasantly warm and crunchy, but definitely could have benefited from the addition of some salt. Not much flavor though – more of a texture thing than anything else.

I think SexyBeast really hit the winner with his empanadas. They were tiny, but man they looked good.


Our meals took a long time to come out, and I was wondering if Panda’s guest was ever going to leave. It was weird. He didn’t order anything, and then Panda didn’t eat anything, so it was like sharing a table with two people on a date. I know it wasn’t expected that this guy would come in and sit with us for the entire dinner, but a “Hey, I’m going to enjoy dinner with friends, I’ll call you when I’m done,” wouldn’t have hurt. So I’m not sure if they took so long because the good folks at SCCC were pissed with us (which I really doubt), or because we ordered paella.


Like minds think alike, and Dan and Albany John both ordered the Valencian Style Paella. I didn’t like this dish. The rice was why I don’t like rice – gummy and bland, and none of the other food really stuck out. It was kind of like bad fried rice. It was also HUGE.


However, Phairhead & I hit gold with the veal chop. A gigantic chop with a delicious sear on the outside and cooked to a nice medium, medium-rare on the inside.


The blue cheese sauce was a perfect match for the chop. I loved it. Definitely a stand out dish. The meat was very, very tender as well.

The menu listed “wrinkled potatoes”, but these were just some fingerling potatoes cut in half. The mixed veggie ball on there was mostly red bell pepper and onion. You know how much I love bell peppers, so I nixed that one. The potatoes could have used a little something to season them – they were just boiled, halved potatoes. Maybe some sauce over them, too?

Check that center. Our waiter didn’t ask us how we wanted it, so I was wondering how it would turn out. Nice.
SexyBeast’s monkfish serving was 3 small circles of fish. I’m glad I didn’t order it – not enough food for me! In comparison to the massive serving of paella it looked down right tiny! But he said it was really good.

Our waiter was also… really casual in comparison to the service we had the last time. A lot of “You guys”, and seat touching/leaning. Maybe he’d waited tables at The Outback or some other corporate chain since he wasn’t nervous, but it was oddly informal given the types of meals and setting of the restaurant/school.

We also couldn’t figure how the logic behind his order taking – ladies first (okay, good there), and then he’d sporadically pick one of the guys to order.

He also kept asking us if we needed anything else, like water. Just from a service point of view – keep the waters refilled. That one I really don’t get. At the end of service, maybe, but not during appetizers.

The person in the manager role for the night also kept clearing all of our silverware. That made no sense and was a real hassel. After our appetizers, she helped our waiter clear the table and took all of the steak knives from everyone. Then when dinner came out, our server said the knives were all getting washed and it would be a few minutes. The “manager” also came over to check if we needed anything and didn’t acknowledge that she was the one that took our knives and also said it would be a few minutes. Maybe she was pissed because of the extra person at the table? This was annoying though, because then Phairhead and I couldn’t eat our veal chops until the knives came out. And they looked so good!


I had a cup of chamomile tea with dessert. I’ll admit it – I obey the rules, and when a they say they can only accomodate 6 people at a time… well, I was stressed at that point because I felt like I was being rude to SCCC. And hoping they wouldn’t blackball me from any future dinners (“Oh, that’s the lady that had too many people. … Sorry, we’re full.”).

Hopefully they saw it as a learning experience, and we didn’t throw a wrench in the gears too badly. I know it wasn’t ideal for them, and I appreciate their graciousness.


I had the dulce de leche ice cream with anise wafer cookie for dessert. The ice cream itself was great, except once again we ran into the no-silverware problem. We had to mention this to our server, who got us silverware. Still, who clears *everything* off of the table? Just take what’s on the plate. It makes no sense to clean the clean silverware.

I loved the ice cream – a nice and deep dulce de leche flavor. The cookie though… blek – I don’t like anise, and this was like a black licorice cookie. Dan said it was good, though, but more a cracker than a cookie. Savory instead of sweet.

So that was my interesting dinner at SCCC. Sometimes things happen that aren’t in your control with dinner, and you have to roll with the punches. Some dishes better than others. Still super psyched that I got to hang out with two of the area’s finest bloggers – you guys are always a treat to hang out with!

At $22 per person (tax and tip included), dinner is definitely worth a look-see.

Enchiladas

I’ve got a soft spot for enchiladas. I really flip for the flour tortilla tex-mex enchiladas that are slathered in cheese and some kind of weakly flavored watery tomato sauce.

When I saw some enchilada sauce cans at Big Lots for $0.50 a can, I snapped up a couple. They usually retail around $0.79 at their cheapest. Being a cheapskate food hoarder, how could I resist?

I couldn’t justify buying flour tortillas when I had tons of masa harina at home, so I made a bunch of corn tortillas, let them soften up, and made a filling.

Refried beans. They might look like some kind of alien goop here. Albany John made some kidney beans (from dried beans) a few days ago, and they were just sitting in our fridge. Hello, refried beans. I cooked them up with 3 chopped onions, a few minced cloves of garlic, some epazote, oregano, a can of turkey broth, and the last speck of powdered cumin in the pantry. I let that simmer for about half an hour or so.
Once the beans were really tender, I mashed them up. I added just a tiny splash of half-and-half, which added a pretty strong creamy flavor. It was okay, but a little more dairy-rich than I’d have liked. But since these were going to get dominated by enchilada sauce in a can, the subtleties didn’t really matter.

I dropped in a can of enchilada sauce, got my hands nice and messy while filling the tacos with refried beans and folding them, and soon discovered – wow, this enchilada sauce had some kick.
Actually, the random little cuts on my hands found that one out, thankyouverymuch.

I poured another can over the top, then covered the pan with tin foil and popped it in the oven for 20 mintutes.


Foil came off the last 10 minutes and I sprinkled with some feta. It was the only cheese in my fridge, but I think it works with Mexican food.

Overall, it was alright, but nothing I’m jonesing to make again. It was a little something different using the stuff in our pantry. Some meat filling would have made these way better.

Overall, I’d say this entire pan cost about $3.50 to make. It’ll last the two of us at least 2 meals.

Known Costs: turkey broth ($0.59), enchilada sauce (2 @ $0.50 ea), feta ($0.40)
Unknown Costs: Beans, onions, garlic, masa harina. Est $1.50 total

Adzuki Sprout Salad + Canned Octopus

Albany John is a sprout master. He’s so successful at sprouting whatever he puts in that sprouting jar of his. He normally hates adzuki beans (the beans that all of those Asian sweet bean desserts are made of), but he likes sprouting them. I like them too – they are really hearty beans!

They take about 5 days to sprout, and you need to rinse them 3 times a day. They’ve got just a hint of sweetness, but for the most part they are beany and dense (more so than mung bean sprouts or soy bean sprouts).

We always eat them raw, usually in some kind of salad. Albany John made a salad of mung bean vermicelli, blanched napa cabbage, and raw onion to accompany these pinky-red adzuki sprouts. He also made a kicky dressing that went really well with all of the ingredients.

I “helped” by foisting one of my new favorite foods on top of our salads. Canned octopus!

(I know, I know, Grace, you’re gonna gag lol)

I’ve had a couple of these cans of octopus already and I really like them. They’re Del Sol brand Octopus in Garlic Oil. I get them at Save-A-Lot for $0.99 per can. It works out to under $4 per pound. It’s a nice way to affordably treat myself to little bits of seafood, and I normally don’t buy octopus at all – it’s a little hard to find around here and costs more than $4/lb fresh.

The octopus might be a hair potent on first bite (I mean, it is canned seafood), but that quickly dissipates. Anything tart helps counter this (lemons, vinegar based salad dressings, etc.). I don’t find pungent fish too repugnant, so it doesn’t bother me much. Surprisingly, it’s tender. For the price, I was expecting some tough pieces, but these are tender little pieces of cut up tentacle.

For what it is, I really enjoy it. Like I said, it’s just a little seafood treat. I’m like a cat. Mewmewmew cheap seafood mewmewmew.

I also tried making mashed potatoes again. Next time I just have to work on adding less liquid. I peeled, chopped, & boiled potatoes for 10 minutes, then browned butter (it tasted like the freezer otherwise), added milk and cream cheese, and mashed them all up.

They were a little thin, but not mashed potato soup. I’ll keep trying.

The adzuki sprouts were really filling! I had two bowls of salad and couldn’t finish my 2nd bowl of mashed potatoes. Dinner’s usually my biggest meal of the day, so this was on the small side for me.