Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the Bruschetta

The golden tomatoes are grown at the Urban Farms, less then one mile from our house, in the middle of tall trees and kudzu.

The basil grows next to the hill country red okra, yellow midget watermelon and the fountain of lemongrass; it grows, profusely, generously, in our garden.

The balsamic glaze was crafted by charming husband, who insists on filling the house with the piercing smell of vinegar, knowing that after you add the cinnamon and the orange, it pays off when it touches your tongue. Explosion of flavor and goodness.

And the little sourdough toasts came from the Fresh Market, a smaller-than-mega-grocery store that many of us love for its feeling of the small-town grocery. (We can't forget the feta cheese, with it's delicious tartness.)


(photo credit: Matthew Clark)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bakers Burger Company: a review

What's the best part of a hamburger? Is it the juicy, thick-cut meat? Or is it whether or not it is carefully and tastefully seasoned, so well it hardly needs condiments? Or is it really not about the meat, but the bread surrounding it, baked fresh, careful not to be so hearty that it cancels out the meat altogether?

At Bakers Burger Company, a local restaurant in Hattiesburg, MS, it's all of the above.

As far as we are concerned, it is usually a good sign when you walk in and see this:

As soon as you walk through the doors, you'll notice the menu - short, concise, user-friendly. Translated to us, this means we're about to eat at a restaurant who knows what they do (burgers, bread), and they are doing it well. They don't need to offer three pages of food options to satisfy every person in town; they want to satisfy the people who want a great burger, sandwiched between great bread. And they are succeeding.

{build your own burger}

{build your own dog}

I chose to build my own burger, with Italian Focaccia, to which I added pepper jack cheese, with ketchup and mustard. I like a simple burger, but with this bread, it was still simple, yet memorable. The bread-to-meat ratio is also important to me, which is risky with focaccia. But this was perfect - the bread wasn't too thick, giving the meat room to be known!

Jeff got the jalapeno cheddar bun, since he likes some kick, to which he added bacon. His was a hearty burger, just like he likes it.

Though the foodie in me is a bit embarrassed to admit this, I'd never heard of putting malt vinegar on your fries until this day. But what a great addition!And these weren't just any fries - they're hand-cut fries - tasty and piping hot and so, so good. 

For this outing, my mom joined us (and, indeed, treated us to this fine lunch), remarking that when she lived in Ohio, they would put malt vinegar on their fries. There you have it... it must be a Yankee thing.

We might be in the Deep South, but we're keeping this one. Bring on the malt vinegar!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Way of the Food Truck

One distinct memory I have from China is of the early evening gathering places, people stopping after school or work, resting on benches, talking with friends, playing with children. Some are quiet; some are happy to see friends after a long day. Some are eating noodles from a small cart outside the gate of the nearby college. Some are listening to strange singing in a foreign language.

Our friends and guides helped us understand that this is normal for these city-dwellers, to gather between work and home, to stop and be together. People didn't seem to be in a hurry. And when there's strange white people there with a guitar and balloons, of course you'll stay longer!

We've just been watching a show about this "food truck revolution" happening in cities all over the U.S., and it's pretty exciting. Jeff and I have had a few opportunities - in Denver and Nashville - to visit some of these trucks. Their owners have been eager to share their stories and their food creations and seem to love what they do.

These food trucks, especially when congregated together in parking lots, city parks, etc. are creating new places for people to come together. Businessmen are buying gourmet hot dogs; bikers are buying crepes; college students are buying sushi.

While in Nashville, our friend Michelle took us to a row of food trucks, including Jonbalaya, specializing in BBQ and Cajun-flair food. I can't really do it justice except to show you these:

{Cajun Bayou Tacos: pork, ginger, cilantro, and other ingredients I'm forgetting,
but that were like "spring in your mouth," as I remember the food truck owner describing this. Delish.}

{Pork Parfait: no yogurt here! Simply layers of BBQ pork and mashed potatoes.
Ridiculous. And tasty.}

We're so excited to see the future of food trucks, especially in our own Memphis. Will there be a good truck near us? Will it help us meet our neighbors, both nearby and in other parts of the city? Will we be a part of this "revolution" in a new way?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Foodies in Denver: burritos for breakfast

The dining room overlooks a lake, surrounded by the all-too-perfect Colorado mountains. Brunch in this eatery means buffalo carpaccio (thinly sliced raw meat, vinaigrette), crab and avocado omelet and a classic brunch item, eggs benedict. The chefs are locals, promising locally sourced fare and even the town's name sends you painting a perfect winter piece of artwork in your mind: Evergreen.

They were even kind enough to call us to confirm our reservation, but we took a detour...

We stopped at Santiago's instead.

Homemade green chile sauce is the specialty, a recipe of roasted and peeled jalapeƱos crafted by founder Carmen Morales' mother, though the $2 burritos which get smothered by this sauce are equally as famous.

{breakfast burrito, smothered, mild}

And how much heat can you take? They've got a mild, hot and half-n-half option (what others might call "medium"?) We ordered a little of everything, all smothered in chile sauce, some smothered in additional cheese, some mild, some half-n-half.

{smothered, plus cheese on top (it's already stuffed w/cheese!), half-n-half}

Flavor? Excellent. Stuffed with potatoes, onions, cheese, and today's burritos, with ham (this changes: sometimes you get chorizo, bacon or breakfast sausage).

Speed? To our table in a flash. When you have a small breakfast menu (and they do) with a long line out the door (and they do), you can make items fresh and speedy! Perfect combo, especially when you're eager to make a steep climb onto the slopes of Copper Mountain.

Value? C'mon, you saw the the pictures of these $2 burritos. Need we say more?

Today, we ate at Santiago's. And we declared that it was good!

{the coffee is lacking, but hey, we didn't come here for the joe!}

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Let's eat what we buy!

Since the Urban Farms Market and corner store have opened up, we've given ourselves new challenges. For our first trip, we bought what was available and cooked with it. (NOTE: produce inside the store isn't necessarily local, but rather, gives priority to giving folks in our neighborhood fresh produce that otherwise isn't as readily available to them. For local produce, visit the outdoor market!)

So, we shopped.

see the sneaky sweet potatoes at the bottom? Mmmmm!

waiting to be chopped...

lovin' that fresh cilantro

Add a few spices (cinnamon, cumin, etc. etc), potatoes, carrots, onions, cilantro, and you've got something that looks like this...

Yes. Delish.

Choosing to shop at a smaller store, with a smaller selection, is an intentional decision. We're giving up the selection of a megastore and letting dinner choose instead, more or less (instead of us choosing dinner). This may seem limiting, but really, shopping at the Urban Farms corner store is much less overwhelming, personal (conversations with customers and employees), and simple.

We hope you'll visit! The corner store is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-7pm, and Saturday from 8am-3pm. The outdoor market is open on Tuesdays from 2-6pm and Saturday 8am-1pm.

Let tomorrow's meal choose you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

hello, awkward coffee shop picture!

**Edit on 5/14/11: Memphis Brew is now closed.**

This is me. Awkwardly holding up my frappe at Memphis Brew, a new-ish (new to me, at least) coffee shop in Memphis.

Jeff and I are here on a Wednesday early eve, reading and blogging, with an Americano and a sugar free vanilla frappe.

sounds || the heat clicking on and the TV a couple rooms away

sights || one other person reading, besides Jeff, scatterings of what I presume to be local art on the walls

thoughts || I wish there was some easy, low music playing, but otherwise it's really nice to have peace in a coffee shop and not constant rushing and way-too-loud music. This is actually perfect for my dull headache that's been with me for a few hours now.

layout || a variety of seating areas, some at ground level, some at a basement-ish level; couches, tables, bar stools, group tables.

I read some reviews before I came, and I hear their cold brew is really, really good. But unfortunately, they're out of it right now! So, we'll have to come back very soon, on the hunt for this cold brew.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

fast food... "with avocados, please!"

When we're on the road, it often feels like we simply have no choice but to swing through the drive-thru, get our sugar-loaded Dr. Pepper, and oh-so-delish Mickey D's fries; we all know they're the best. This, we speculated, might be one of the hardest habits to break as part of our "No Chain Challenge".

But we were actually wrong.

On our last trip down I-55, towards the warmer land of South Mississippi (Hattiesburg, we love thee), we had some good food in tow. Specifically, these sammies with turkey (veggies only for Jeff), carrots, avocado, bell peppers - so good and fresh that no condiments were necessary!

And it only took me (Abbye) about 10 minutes to get these sandwiches together, and that's pretty ding-dang fast!