Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Of the Earth

It's time for mushrooms, food fans.  The new fall menu is in place at UCG, and it's crawling with mushroom-centric dishes to get you thinking about fuzzy sweaters, ruby red wines and wavy mounds of risotto studded with pumpkin and earthy mushrooms.  If you haven't been to one of our wine dinners, here's one for your calendar.  Our 1st Annual Mushroom Dinner at Union City Grille.  

Union City Grille
Frank’s Union Wine Mart
present an
Exotic Mushroom Dinner
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shiitake Spanakopita, Portobello Satay,
and Lobster-Sausage Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Borsao 2008 Rose ~ Campo de Borja
Muga 2008 Blanco~ Rioja

First Course
Chestnut and Chanterelle Bisque
with maple lardons of double-smoked bacon
Protocolo 2007 Tempranillo ~ Manchuela

Second Course
Three-Layer Mushroom Lasagnette
beech mushroom, royal trumpet and crimini
bound with robiola cream and baked with sheep’s milk ricotta
Wrongo Dongo 2008 Monastrell ~ Jumilla

Main Course
Rosemary Crusted Lamb Sirloin
over Brussels sprout petals, hen of the woods mushrooms
and black truffle demi-glace
Bodegas Ateca 2008 Garnacha de Fuego ~ Calatayud

Pumpkin and Rum Crème Brulée

Jorge Ordonez 2008 Botani Muscat ~ Malaga

The Usual- $75 includes gratuity

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More from Keller

These days, waiting for my favorite chefs to put out new cookbooks is a little like following your favorite aging rock musician.  They seem to put out better and more mature work, but less of it.  Take Peter Gabriel, for example.  The average amount of time between album releases is about 6 years.  It's always worth the wait, but...damn.  Waiting for a cookbook from Charlie Trotter or Joel Robuchon can take years, but when the build up to release begins, I start combing the web for early reviews or images.  I pre-order it, usually from Amazon, or if I'm slumming it, I Wishlist it.  But, discount be damned, I may just have to line-up at the local Borders for the November release of Chef Thomas Keller's latest cookbook, Ad-Hoc at Home: Family-Style Recipes.  

Ad-Hoc, is of course, his informal, family-style restaurant, that was only supposed to be "temporary".  In Keller's words:

While we were designing it we thought we'd experiment by opening a temporary restaurant and calling it Ad Hoc, which literally means, "for this purpose." The idea for Ad Hoc was simple - 5 days a week we'd offer a 4 course family style menu that changed each day, accompanied by a small, accessible wine list in a casual setting reminiscent of home. We wanted a place to dine for our community and ourselves. The decision to change over the restaurant, however, was taken out of our hands by our guests. The response was so positive, we simply couldn't close. So, in September, 2007, we decided to stay open permanently and now we're serving dinner 5 nights a week as well as Sunday brunch.

A dish at Ad-Hoc.

I'm a product of my upbringing.  We are a family that spends a lot of time around the kitchen table.  When we were younger, frequently we were either at someone's house on the weekend for dinner, or they were at ours.  And the cooking began early and lasted all day.  Simply put, there was always food on the table.  Cooking for a lot of people became commonplace; you simply couldn't run out of food.  It was unthinkable.  There was always back-up, too.  

Family-style dining is not widely marketed these days, probably because we live in a society where everyone seems to have some sort of "issue" when it comes to eating.  And that sucks, because good food is only HALF of a memorable dining experience.  The company is the other.  When you share a good meal with friends and/or family, it's satisfying on all kinds of levels.  

I'm most curious to see how these recipes pan-out.  It seems that Italian cuisine as a rule is perfect for group eating.  But, I wonder whether the focus will be on American dishes, or even if Chef Keller will try to adapt French technique and food to this concept.  

Are there any places you like to dine that feature this style of eating?  I'd certainly like to know, but I'm sure other readers would, too.  

Monday, September 28, 2009

Out to the Park

Meeting a group of alumni from C.I.A. out at Citizen's Park tonight to watch the Phils play the Astros.  It's going to be fun, but I'm most excited it's the final Dollar Dog Night of the season!  Woohoooo!  Let's hope the boys ge a little home-field magic workin'!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rainy Day

It's that awkward time of a Sunday morning when it's too early for lunch, nothing's on TV, I've read the paper and it's raining.  It's days like this that remind me of when I was growing up.  We went to the board games.  

It's funny how your entire life can be relived in just a few Google-clicks.  In looking for an image of the Parcheesi game (above), it sparked a brain cell or two of all the games we used to play growing up on rainy days.  It also provides some added tidbits of trivia; for example, I didn't know Parcheesi was the National Game of India.  Nor did I know it was first marketed to the world in 1867?!  Colorful and simple, it was a game we could all play without getting into a fight (see Monopoly).  

Some of the other games were definitely age and gender specific.  Take for example, the game my sisters loved, Mystery Date.  Say what you will about the simplicity of Parcheesi, but no other game made 10 year old girls scream with delight like when they turned the knob and opened the door of their MYSTERY DATE!  

It was blatant and hilarious stereotyping at it's best, racist and elitist at worst.  Note to all "nerd" types:  our look has finally come into fashion.  There was a playboy, a jock, a cab driver...just seeing if you're paying attention.  So, if you were the little brother and wanted to play (of course you did), no matter who you opened the door on, it was cause for tittering at your expense.  

That's about the time we'd cause the game to expectedly fly up into the air.  And then we'd start another we could all get serious about:  The Game of Life.  Da-dummmmm.  Accumulating kids and getting insurance for your house while getting tax penalties was indeed a game about life, but not sure exactly what was fun about it.  Oh- that's right- the people.  Funner than filling your pie for Trivial Pursuit, it was the only important thing in The Game of Life:  accumulating kids.  To make it more accurate, they should have had paneled station wagons rather than the Diplomat looking car that was your playing piece.  

At the end of the road, Retirement awaited. When a Lifer reached this crossroads, he repaid his loans and parked the car in Countryside Acres or the ritzy Millionaire Estates, if he thought he had more money than has opponents. When everyone else had joined him, all the players counted their money, their stocks, their life insurance…and surprise, the Lifer with the most loot won.

And then, as in real life, you join the local bingo hall and start wearing polyester.

Simpler games were available for less cerebral stimulation.  Take for example, Mouse Trap.  Build a mouse trap, pull the lever and see if you can get the pre-fab plastic pieces assembled the way they were meant to without tearing a hole in the board and make the little bowling ball go through the trap.  Note: if you lose the ball, a marble will work. A golf ball will not.  Or, what about Cootie?  LOL  As in, you've got them.  Construct a cootie bug and you win.  Cooties.    The Cooties on the box look strangely like my neighbors in college.

Anything that amounted to the suspense of something falling, breaking or buzzing was a big hit.  Operation caused the most anxiety, however, as I began to sweat when it was time to remove the funny bone, only to feel a stronger than usual "jolt" of 9-volt generated punishment for doing so.  Followed by a slight spritz in the undies.

Another fave, and apparently is still around, Don't Tip the Waiter.  A stupid balancing game whose name was the most clever part.   Jenga!, another balancing game, had rules, I'm sure, but again- it was simply about appearing to be deft enough to not topple the tower of wooden blocks.  Jenga!, by the way, sounds oddly like the Spanish four letter word you might actually yell, if you were playing with adults and knocked this thing over.

But there was one game I enjoyed only slightly more than Clue and that was  Masterpiece.  A game that involved only luck and collecting famous works of art you've paid for at auction, only to find out they could be forgeries.  But, it included the names of the artists and the titles on the cards.  They didn't really have to do that.  I mean, it was a kids game.  So, I'm SURE one reason Grant Wood's American Gothic is ingrained in the American conscience is because of this game.  Or artists like Whistler and Rothko.  WTF?  Seriously, this was one cool game.

You could always get Mom and Dad involved in a project, like Shrinky Dinks or Shrunken Heads.  Again, I'm not sure where people's minds were in those days, but an activity that involves putting plastic into a hot oven seems dicey at best.

But, by the time you went through all the games under the sofa, it had likely stopped raining.  Or Ultra Man was on.  And all was as right as rain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The BBC Tavern and Grill

I slipped into the new Brandywine Brewing Company Tavern and Grill last Friday night, just to get a glimpse.  My first surprise was that I found a parking spot in front of the restaurant.  The second surprise was it was the last one open as far as the eye could see.  But, that really shouldn't have been a surprise.  This is, after all, the most anticipated restaurant opening this year in Delaware.

I love a full, bustling restaurant, and this place was both.  To say it was loud both understates the truth and makes me seem like an old codger.  But, it was deafening loud.  I immediately looked up and then down to see what steps had been taken to combat the noise.  Sound panels are installed throughout the restaurant, yet there are no floor coverings.  With all that wood paneling, hard wood floors and no table cloths- OUCH.  First impression.

It was just around 8:40pm when I arrived, and I was told it would be a 40 minute wait for a table for one.  I was given a vibrating shell, like they have on the Price is Right, and went to the bar for a beer.  The bar was two people deep, some had been camped for awhile, some were eating.  There were no visible menus or chalkboards listing the fabulous selection of beers I had seen on the website.  I recognized the bartender, Ed, and asked him to give me a good beer.  He did; a Smithwick's Ale, from the maker's of Guinness.  Good flavor, not filling, nice balance, poured right: good start.

I did some people watching and some Phillies watching, when suddenly (and I mean, 5 minutes later), my cinnabon started to vibrate.  I chuckled and went to the front with my vibra-mollusk; "Thanks for your patience!", the cheery hostess said (it was the same one who said I would have to wait).  I said, "You're welcome, but it was only five minutes."  She didn't seem to have any recollection that we had ever spoken.  But, she took me to the dining room off the main entrance and seated me at a deuce, and left me with reading materials.  

Normally, I start to do the "who's my server" scan, so I can get a drink to look the menu over, but since I had one already, I was content to browse with no sense of urgency.  The room was full of all walks of life; families with kids, couples, triple dates, young, old and, after all it is Greenville, a local big-wig (one member of BPG).  Jessica, my server, arrived very promptly and asked if I needed anything right away.  I declined and she left me to my menu selection.

This is where big points were scored.  I'm not a high-maintenance diner.  I just want to get the same attention everyone else does.  If a place is weeded, and everyone is craning their neck to get service, I don't get worked up.  I take it in stride, and so should you.  But, if I look around and tables are being fawned over and I'm doing the WTF, I wanna know why my dollar is different than theirs.  And, I came with low expectations, not for any reason other than I did arrive on a Friday night during peak service the first weekend after opening.  But, Jessica was on it.

I ordered the Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in beer and garlic as an appetizer, and I decided to try the meatloaf sandwich, described as "Home-made Meatloaf, with a sweet Thai chili cream sauce, crispy noodles and sesame French loaf".  

Mediterranean Mussels

The mussels arrived so fast, I thought a mistake had been made.  Surely, these couldn't have been mine?  But, Jesssica strolled over with a brimming bowl of colossal mussels and toasted crostini and took my order for a Clipper City Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Ale.  Upon looking at the mussels, I realized they were a variety known as Mediterranean mussels.  They actually come from Washington state.  They are the meatiest mussels (along with Kiwi) you can buy, and though they have a short shelf-life, they are juicy and succulent when fresh.  But, here is where I figured out that they were indeed my mussels.  Most cooks think that when the shells of mussels open, they're finished cooking.  And with puny varieties, they'd be right.  By the time you get them out of a pan and into a bowl, they are indeed cooked through.  But, as I mentioned before, these mussels are huge- two and three bite mussels.  And half of them arrived a shade above raw.  They had opened, but they hadn't cooked all the way.  The flavor was great, and there had to be a pound and a half in the bowl.  But- I left a good third of them, and even pulled a couple out and set them on the side in case anyone was auditing returns.  Why didn't I say anything?  I'll get to that later.

My sandwich arrived five minutes after my appetizer.  It consisted of two huge pieces of meatloaf on the aforementioned sesame French bread.  But the chili cream was a chili sauce right out of the bottle, often used to coat chicken nuggets.  There were no crispy noodles to speak of.  The greens were your standard "spring mix".  I ordered another Clipper City Ale from Baltimore, and I was ready to hunker down with some comfort grub.  

The sandwich was both satisfying and filling.  More suited for a fork and knife than double-handing.  People continued to come in and sit for dinner.  The Phils were putting their fans through another heart-attack 9th inning with Lidge as closer, and the buzz continued throughout the tavern.  Jessica had checked back twice to see if I was okay.  I giggled as I thought how rare it is to have such an unexpectedly pleasant first visit within the first week of a restaurant opening.  But, Dave Dietz is no newbie in the business.  Credit is given, because credit is due.  

I debated whether I would write about my visit so soon after they opened, but then I figured, why not?  Most people who like to dine out regularly are planning on stopping in for a beer or a meal.  Why shouldn't I write about it?  I began my post right after my visit, they say, you live by the sword, and you die by the sword.  Because, they next night, my wife and a group had the exact opposite experience.

They arrived at about the same time, 8:30ish.  There were six in the group, and 40 minutes was the wait.  Except, for them, it actually was 40 minutes.  J ordered a Hefe-Weizen that she went nuts for.  And the report was the same on the noise.  Like piggy banks in a dryer.

Whereas I had courteous service, hot food and no wait, their group waited 15 minutes after placing drink orders to get them.  They waited 35 minutes to have their order taken, even though they had plenty of time to browse the menu while waiting.  And they reported painfully slow arrival of food, even while the chef was seen standing and conversing with a table for 20-plus minutes at the peak of the rush.  Whether they had a full line on or not, it's bad form to be standing in the eye of the storm as the captain of the ship, and the ship is sinking.  Notice I didn't mention the food.  Neither did they.  It seems, and I've been on both ends of this, good food doesn't always make up for other areas of a dining experience.  The server appeared to be harried and annoyed.  Which certainly didn't bode well for a first impression to friends looking for a fun night out.

So, back to my point earlier:  I didn't mention the details about my food to anyone because they were details I could overlook.  I had eaten enough of the huge mussels that I didn't need to call it to their attention.  I wasn't crestfallen I didn't have crispy noodles, whatever they are, on my sandwich.  It was good anyway.  Chili cream didn't sound appetizing anyway.  And, I appeared to luck out on getting a good server and timely service.  Some of this touches on a post I have coming up, "Culinary Myths:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of a Chef's Opinion".  But, that's another post.

I've no doubt that last week and in the coming weeks at BBC, people are going to have experiences just like the two I described.  It's part of when a new restaurant opens, folks.  The question you should be asking yourself is, "What are my expectations?"  You can let stuff go when you have an open mind, and subsequently, you can be let down when you set yourself up for an experience a restaurant might not be able to deliver (yet).  But, if you are considering going to BBC, do it.  I'll be going back to try more beer and more food.  

As I will be posting other dining experiences in the future, please keep in mind, blogs are the white noise of the internet.  Sometimes you listen, and sometimes you tune it out.  I write this blog for anyone who wants to listen.  

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Momma Mia! Pappardelle!

Man, do I love pasta.  All kinds- any time.  I love to cook it.  I love to eat it.  I love making it, too.

I was inspired this week by some ingredients I got in recently.  Naturally, we're still reeling in mushrooms from last week.  But, I received a shipment of Berskshire pork cheeks.  Now, for those of you who are turning an eyebrow or nostril up, let me explain.

Berskshire pork is simply one of the most flavorful breeds of hog you can eat.  And, cheek meat is just that; it's meat that comes from behind the jowls of the animal.  The muscle doesn't get a whole lot of a workout, and so when it's braised, it's fall-apart tender.  

We've braised the pork with root vegetables, garlic, red wine and veal stock for a few hours, until tender.  We then strain and reserve the stock, now extraordinarily flavorful, to use as a sauce.  

This is where the mushrooms come in.  We cook up some meaty mushrooms, like crimini, royal trumpets or portobello.  We add shallots and a little garlic to them, followed by another dash or two of wine, and ladle in some of that reserved stock.  

We just made some fresh pappardelle today at UCG.  As the sauce is reducing, take your fresh pasta, and give it a quick blanch in boiling, salty water.  Add a little bit of fresh herbs and whole butter to your sauce, and then toss the pasta in the sauce.  Use a nice deep bowl and lay out your pasta first.  Spoon the ragout, or sauce, over the pasta.  Grate some fresh parmesan, or pecorino cheese.  Garnish with fresh thyme, oregano or rosemary. 

Buono Appetito!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Seriously, though...

I know some of you may feel like I've already done the "fig thing", and all.  But, I'm not sure I've really given my final testament to the versatility and sheer sexiness of this seasonal gem.  

People often ask me how I come up with unusual combinations in my dishes.  I'm always taken by surprise on this question, because I don't consider myself by any means an experimental chef.  Oh sure, I experiment in what I cook and what I eat, but not- and never- on my guests.  Family- sure!  But, people don't come to a restaurant to pay their hard-earned dollars to "dig" what the chef is trying to pull-off.  We don't pay to see dress rehearsals of a play, so why drop your cash on a lab experiment?

I'm a right-brained guy, and I will always see things differently than the science and math type peoples.  But, oddly, when it comes to the science of cooking, there is a strange merging of hemispheres in the brain when composing dishes.  The creative side confers with the the logical side, and suddenly, they're playing happily together and then- BAM!  You get a dish like heirloom tomatoes with basil and fresh figs with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  And each ingredient is as important as the next.  

Remove the basil, and you have a 2-dimensional dish.  Use an oil other than  a nice , fruity extra virgin, and you're cheating yourself of the flavors that await you.  So, you say, can I substitute sweet for sweet?  Of course.  In this case, the figs can be replaced by plums, watermelon or berries.  The tomato is a fruit, don't forget, and when they're ripe- well, you know.  

Variations on this dish can include adding an imported prosciutto or a nice acidic cheese with good salt levels (i.e. chevre, or try shaving ricotta salata). 

While this weather is still holding out, experiment with your food.  Before you know it, you'll find that some of the pieces of the puzzle will fit into place. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Soap Box Monday

Not that the internet is lacking in forums for people to post their piss-n-vinegar, but as a chef, I naturally like to stir the pot.

This weekend, my family and I were having a quiet breakfast in town at a local coffee and togo shop.  A woman came in and began to systematically tear into the counter help for NOT having her quiche.  And, when she was told they did have it, she ripped into him about how the last time she got it, she returned it because it wasn't cut right and it wasn't made by "the chef".  "B" explained that this quiche had indeed been made by the chef.  Her next complaint was that if it hadn't, it wouldn't have set properly.  Mind you, the entire time, every little detail she was complaining about, had been corrected from her last visit.  Yet, this witch continued to ride poor "B".

It was before 8am and things were still coming together in the shop, but Cruella was growing dangerously impatient.  She began leaning into the kitchen window and peering in the door asking, "WHAT'S TAKING SO LONG??!!"  "B" asked his boys to step it up, and this was when she went too far.  Upon looking in the kitchen, she growled, "They're putting it in the OVEN!  Why are they doing that??  I want to taste it first- because if it's not right, I don't want it, and..."  

I had already exchanged looks of disbelief with my wife, but this is where I jumped in.  "Lady, would you let these people do their jobs!?", I spat.  
"It's really none of your business!"
"Well, it's becoming my business because I have no choice but to listen to your ranting!  And you're ruining my family's breakfast!!"
She turned her beak up and said, "Well, I'm-  sorry!"  
"No.  You're not."

She went back to needling "B" and tasted the quiche.  For a moment, it looked like she was going to refuse it, but then I thought, "This shrew came in here for two things: to get her quiche, and make people as miserable as possible."  

She had succeeded in both.  

Ever go off on someone like this?  Let it all out- start your week with a clear slate.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ricotta Pancakes

Ok, pancake lovers.  Get ready to have your world shaken.  As is common on this blog, I don't always originate the things I blog about, I just look to share things I think rock with readers.  And ricotta pancakes are one of those things.

I first saw and tried a recipe from the most recent cookbook from The Inn at Little Washington.  The finished dish calls for fresh figs, fig syrup and walnuts, among other things.  But, the core recipe is a solid ratio of the normal things you'll find: flour, leavener, a touch of salt, eggs and dairy.  Where you get a little original is in what kind of flours you use.  Or farm-fresh eggs, versus store bought.  Or, in this case, ricotta cheese instead of milk. 

The curds of the cheese provide an extra boost to the fluff-factor, and of course, depending on the fat-content of your ricotta, an extra degree of richness can be expected when using whole milk ricotta. 

Ruffles and flourishes can be added by putting in a little lemon zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon or other ingredients I refer to as "jewels".  These are the little touches that take a dish from ordinary to extraordinary.  And they make it uniquely yours. 

Grab some real maple syrup, use some whole butter, and, as pictured, cook up a nice, thick piece of slab bacon.  You're ready to rock. 

If you want a recipe, just follow your favorite pancake recipe and adjust the ingredients as directed above.  If this is too free-form for you, leave me a comment or drop me an email and I'll write you one.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Farmer and The Chef

The Second Annual Farmer and The Chef event took place last night at the Chase Riverfront Arts Center.  Estimations put the crowd at around 800; but it looked like more.  Since this was my first year participating, I don't have a point of reference, but from early feedback, it was well received by all.  These types of events are becoming more and more popular in Delaware- and I can only say that it is a good thing.  Especially when an event like this has it's focus entirely on the local theme.

As usual, an affordable price of $35 ($50 at the door) gave you access to some of the finest dishes prepared from products provided by the state's various farmers.  For me, an especially exciting element of the event was the seasonality of the dishes.  Since product was provided locally, you're going to get dishes prepared from ingredients at their peak.  

By now, the peanut pumpkin should be on your radar screen, if you read this regularly.  It's just one example of an item farmers, H.G. Haskell in this case, take pride and delight in growing, hoping a home cook or chef will come along and make something delicious for their friends or family.

"Locavorism" is a concept that is by no means new, but it is certainly a developing trend as almost everyone these days seem to be striving for reducing their carbon footprint and weaning themselves off processed and packaged foods.  

What would be a true delight is if we could sustain this trend, which would in turn allow farmers to more accurately forecast what they plant and harvest based on the needs of the public.  It would help the local economy, but it would ensure that when we wanted the best lima beans or corn, for example, we could make a stop at a local road-side stand and get the best of all worlds. 

Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Nut Mueselix

Peppercorn, coriander, star anise, sage, thyme and bay leaf provided depth of flavor for the soup.

Zinias are in bloom from late August until frost.


The super folks at Emile Henry, one of the event sponsors, provided beautiful earthenware pots from which to serve our soup.  This particular set-up is actually a handsome stew pot sitting atop an induction burner outfitted with a ceramic plate made by Emile Henry just for induction cooking. 
Now that's cool.

Delaware brewer Dogfish Head provided various brews, including the 90 Minute Imperial Pale Ale and their "Punk", Pumpkin Ale.


My littlest critic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Update: The soup is underway!  Roasted the pumpkins last night with fresh thyme and dusted them with ginger and Thai curry mix.  They smelled AWESOME coming out of the oven.  Next faze is to start sweating the onions and roasting the organic garlic.  When it's time, we'll add the pumpkin along with Haskell's apples and let it all simmer up nice.  I'll be posting some photos of the soup in progress.  Also, our seeds are drying nicely, and we'll mix them along with some pistachios, walnuts, almonds and other goodies to make the "mueselix" garnish.  

Tonight is a wild one, here at UCG- so, I'll be back in the next 24 hours to show you the finished product!  Don't forget The Farmer and The Chef down on the waterfront tomorrow night!  Also, Matt and I toured the Mauviel and Emile Henry warehouse in New Castle this morning...!  More on that later...

Galeuse d'Eysines, also known as Courge Brodee Galeuse, Galeux d'Eysines, Giraumon Galeux d'Eysines and warted sugar marrow depending on where you go is what these are, but we'll just refer to it by the name it looks like: a peanut pumpkin
The warted exterior feels the same as a stem on a regular pumpkin, only more brittle. They are about 11.5" in diameter and 6.5" inches high and weigh about 18 pounds. 

So, what's with the mutant pumpkins, Robear?  This is what I'm cooking for the 2nd Annual Farmer and the Chef benefit at the Riverfront Arts Center this Thursday at 5:30pm.  I picked up these pumpkins, which have a deep, orange flesh and sweet flavor, from H.G. Haskell's Farm on Rte. 100, a.k.a. SIW Farms.  Each chef is paired with a farmer.  H.G. says off all the ones he's pulled down off the hill (and there are about 15 varieties), "People have reported that these have the best flavor and are the best to cook with." 

Well, that's all I needed to hear.  Having not chosen a dish on purpose because of the goofy weather and the lateness of the season, I loaded up on some of their organic potatoes, garlic and apples, as well as candy onions and delicato squash (small, tube shaped, high in sugar content) to round out the flavor.  Can you say, "soup"?

We'll be serving Roasted "Peanut" Pumpkin Soup with Spice Roasted Nut Muselix (think trail mix with a kick).   Matt is working along side Phillip's Mushroom Nursery and putting together a bangin' mushroom strudel with truffles.  Stop down and see us Thursday.  Hint:  if you order your tickets TODAY or Wednesday at the website above, it's only $35!  Otherwise, $50 at the door.  All proceeds benefit the March of Dimes.  It's ALL GOOD, Charlie Brown.

Onward, Haute

As promised, I've more information regarding the upcoming wine dinner next week at Union City Grille featuring a tribute to Amish Heritage.  The menu is complete, and I'm excited about the choices of wines to complement the dishes. 

More than usual, I've enjoyed researching this dinner, and learning about the traditions and lifestyle of the AmishIt's an odd obsession, I confess.  I'm currently reading Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish, about the Amish rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood.  It's nothing short of fascinating.  But, that's another post.   Here's the line-up for next Wednesday:

A Tribute to Amish Heritage
September 23, 2009
 A Wine Dinner at Union City Grille with
Frank's Union Wine Mart
Chef’s selection of passed snacks and starters
Le Marchesine NV Brut Franciacorta ~ Lombardy, Italy

First Course
Apple and Rutabaga Soup
with candied pecans
Thumbprint Cellars 2007 Rose of Syrah ~ Dry Creek Valley, CA

Egg-Noodle and Kennett Square Mushroom “Casserole”
hand-made noodles with local fall mushrooms and
Highland Farms grated Romano cheese
St. Clement 2005 Napa Valley Merlot ~ Napa, CA
Stags Leap 2005 Napa Valley Merlot ~ Napa, CA

Apple-Cider Brined Pork Chop
grilled with garden corn relish, Amish potato salad and
Dijon-cornichon demi-glace
Tamaya 2005 Reserve Viognier/Chardonnay ~ Limari Valley, Chile
J Mauceri 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ~ Sonoma County, CA

Whoopie Pies
with rich cocoa and sweet cream filling; melted ice cream “sauce”
Sunce 2006 La Rochelle Vineyard Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc ~ Russian River Valley, CA

We'll be making our own egg noodles, and going right to Kennett for the shrooms.  Also, we'll be brining the chops in apple cider and Apple Jack with star anise and clove.  The garden relish is also known as "chow chow", and is kind of like the scrapple of veggies.  It's all that's left over after canning, quick-pickled and served as a side dish.  The potato salad I'm pumped for, if for nothing else because it's make with bacon and celery seed.  Naturally, we'll be getting all our pork products from Amish farmers.  And all our produce will come from nearby farms, as well.  This event is only $75, inclusive of wine and gratuity. 

For more event information, check out this link in today's News Journal/Delaware Online

I like to post links to funny or interesting articles I've seen.  This one would qualify as "funny", and it would also be timely.  The Tractor Driver or the Pothead?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blogger's Block: UPDATED

It's been just two weeks, and I'm experiencing blogger's block.  I vowed F&C wouldn't turn into a tweet fest or shameless updating every time a piece of fruit ripens.  I'm old school: if you don't have something interesting to say...

So, I was planning to have Soap Box Mondays that would allow me to get a nagging issue circulating in our little corner of the web, and in turn, provide readers with an opportunity to do so, as well.  

I would like the blog to be more interactive.  I'd like to hear your stories, what you look for in a blog, what bores you, what you're eating, drinking or where you want to eat or drink, and naturally, what you're listening to!
Readers have mentioned that if they don't have one of the accounts listed to "sign in for comments", they aren't permitted to comment.  I was under the impression readers could do that; so, I've changed the settings to allow anyone, identified or not, to comment.  

So, maybe we start on Fridays?
Me first! Me first!!  Was it me, or did the Mainstream Media completely blow off the Mexican highjacking to cover the "YOU LIE!" story?!  I mean, every major news agency on air or internet JUMPED on the highjacking story as it broke, but seriously- it was only because it was such a slow news day.  And then it ended.  No bullets, no blood.  Just a guy in a yellow shirt who looks like my high school Algebra teacher, being led off in cuffs.  And then, all of a sudden, the next day we're having a national discussion about liars.  Who lies, who's lied, who continues to lie.  *Snore*  I am a tireless web-comber, when it comes to interesting news, no lie.  *Ahem* And let me tell you, today was a prime example of how the MSM runs with an issue they feel touches a nerve.  Just for once, can't they just let it... well, you get the idea.

A funny aside, last week, my friend and fellow blogger, journalist Patty Talorico who blogs Second Helpings for the News Journal, posted a link to a hilarious tweet about a guy, Justin, who posts his 70-something dad's rantings.  "Shit My Dad Says",  This post was as prescient as ever from earlier in the week: 
 "The worst thing you can be is a liar....Okay fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but THEN, number two is liar. Nazi 1, Liar 2" 
Just superb.  Thank you, Justin!
So, comments?  Overblown media distraction, or worth the fuss? 

UPDATE:  Wow- sounds like someone woke up on the wrong side of the trailer...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Day After

I wasn't actually at the beach this weekend, but I like to think that this is exactly how it is right now, and a nice long walk would be in order.  This is the main beach in Cape May, circa 2000.


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