With Mom and Dad being in town and another trip to Publix under our belts, lunch got a bit of an update today. Rather than the pickles, we've moved on to baby carrots. And rather than just Virginia ham, we added a little pastrami turkey to the mix. Cold beer and sandwiches on the porch. Still amazing.
I'd say that nearly everything I know about cooking breakfast comes from watching my Dad whip up this and that when I was a kid. There was never a cookbook. Never a clear-cut plan - there was just natural kitchen improv. And I loved it. And that's where I think I picked up a bunch of my habits in the kitchen.
So this morning, we were treated to another classic dad breakfast prepared in our tiny Florida kitchen. In addition to fresh berries and pineapple, dad threw together:
- whole wheat english muffins
- swiss cheese
- olive oil
- southwest eggbeaters
It was a wonderful little breakfast. I'm thinking these eggbeaters might not be a bad option. I know we've tried them before, but this southwest variety proved quite nice. With a cup of strong coffee, a newspaper and the ocean, nothing's better.
After a few bottles of wine and some starters on the porch at home, we decided to make a run for our favorite little Italian place in all of South Florida - Lilly's. We've been going for years and it's just one of those cozy little spots that'll basically make whatever you ask for (thus the title). And last night was no different. Can't find what you're looking for on the menu? Sal will whip up whatever you want.
So last night, we did half and half. Mom and I found what we were looking for and Dad and Meena placed the custom orders.
- penne with shrimp and pink sauce (vodka sauce, basically)
- cheese tortellini with that delicious pink sauce
- penne with italian sausage and roasted red peppers in pink sauce
And Alec deviated from the pink sauce and had:
- yellow tail snapper puttanesca with angel hair pasta
As always, the food was outstanding. We also had a couple bottles of wonderful wine to complement all the amazing homemade pastas. Without a doubt, the best meal we've had thus far. Probably the best we'll have all week. The people, the food, the wine - all top notch at Lilly's.
And once we got home, we had an ice cream cake for mom's birthday! They hadn't eaten sweets in a month, so they were especially excited to indulge. What a spectacular end to Mom and Dad's first night in town!
Mom and Dad are here! We picked them up at the airport yesterday afternoon and after making a run to the grocery store and getting them partially unpacked, we broke out the appetizers and started in on some wine.
Nothing is better than having a glass of wine, devouring some tasty starters and chatting with everyone as the waves crash on the beach.
While at the little gourmet food store/wine shop, Meena and I picked up some smoked salmon salad. We weren't sure how it would be, but I think the consensus after we'd eaten every last bite was that it wasn't half bad. With some bagel chips and sesame crackers, I think it went down pretty nicely.
Although I didn't photograph it, we also had some hummus with our assortment of white wines. Delicious!
After a decidedly sub par meal the evening before, we thought it might be best to try a spot that had shown some promise in years past. We had to run out to Town Center Mall for some supplies and I knew J. Alexanders was over there. They also had a PF Changs and some other stuff, but in the end, we thought JA's sounded fine.
When we spoke to the host, she said we'd need to wait about 20 minutes. No big deal. We weren't in a hurry. So we grabbed a couple glasses of wine from the bar and after having them in our hands for about three seconds, our table was ready.
Again, we're on vacation, so we decided to do one of those starters we try to avoid when home:
- calamari with spicy marinara (not pictured)
It was actually really delicious. The crispy outer layer was delicate and the squid was fresh. Often you get the gummy, tough stuff. This was fresh and it was obvious with each bite.
For a main course, Meena had:
- steak and fries (their version of steak frites)
And Alec had the:
- 1/2 chicken with smashed potatoes
As the title states, the food was progressively better than the previous evening. I'm not saying it was amazing ... but it was really nice to have something that was a) worth the money and b) given the appropriate amount of attention in the kitchen. We both agreed that the evening before at Oceans 234, the kitchen staff just seemed to be hurrying everything along and out the door. No care. J. Alexander's staff seemed to make sure everything looked right. And we appreciated that small gesture from the restaurant.
My chicken was moist and the potatoes were full of flavor. The portions were Midwest size for sure and I wasn't able to eat all of it (no should I have). I got most of the chicken (without the skin) and tried with the potatoes. I lost. And that's not a bad thing.
Meena's steak was nice. The butter concoction they put on top was a little overpowering. She said it tasted like butter for the most part. I never like that because I think the steak has such good natural flavor that you shouldn't try to mask it with butter and other seasoning. But it was cooked well and I think she enjoyed it. The fries were fries. Sliced like matchsticks.
And that was Thursday night!
Last night we decided to hit the Blockbuster and Target for some supplies. We figured we'd just cruise around in the Impala for a minute to see if there were any decent eats in the hood. Our usual haunts are reserved for when mom and dad show up, so we figured we'd look for something new. I wanted to hit Deerfield because it's close. I was sorta looking for Bob's Pizza, but because we had pizza the previous night, the pies were out.
We finally settled on this place called Oceans 234. The setting was nice. They had a valet. I mean, we figured it would be fine. We were just tired of driving around and nothing else really looked better.
The back porch was nice. Maybe a little cold, but it was fine. We had a couple glasses of red wine and got things started with:
- smoked fish dip featuring an assortment of flat breads
It wasn't bad. I mean, it was probably a little overpriced. Everything at this place was. I think we're just hard to please because we live in one of the finest cities for a person with a discerning palate.
For main courses, Meena had the:
- lobster tail with corn mash, asparagus and some other truffle infused stuff
Alec had the:
- blackened grouper sandwich with sweet potato fries
Mine was pretty good. They weren't very liberal with the grouper, but what I did get was tasty. The fries were fine. The avocado aoli was fine. All was fine. Nothing special. Nothing terrible.
Meena's was a different story. She really wanted lobster. And we're on vacation. So that's the time to do it. But this place didn't really deliver. The lobster itself wasn't sweet and delicious and the seasoned breadcrumbs they sprinkled over the top didn't help. I'm not sure what they were seasoned with, but they were just overpowering and wrong. I think her potatoes and asparagus were fine, but the dish as a whole was pretty much sub-par.
So it wasn't the best first meal in Florida ... but it was still fun. Nice setting. WONDERFUL company ... several more days in Florida to make sure we get it right!
Hey, babes. We're just hangin' in paradise this wonderful afternoon. After a walk to the lighthouse and a few hours in the sun, all we wanted was a delicious ham sandwich and a classic dill pickle spear. And that's exactly what we had.
The sandwich featured:
- field greens
- whole wheat bread
- light mayo
- dijon mustard
- virginia ham
- swiss cheese (Meena's only)
With a nice Boar's Head pickle, there is no finer lunch to accompany a Florida Sun Sentinel or whatever this paper is and a half hour on the porch.
Now back to the beach!
After a night of delayed flights and rental car counters, Meena and I finally made it to our condo around 1:00 in the morning. Southern Florida (at least where we are) isn't quite like NYC and things actually close when things in the rest of America close. So unfortunately, last night we were stuck with some frozen pizza from the 24-hour Walgreen’s.
On the bright side, when we woke up this morning, I took the second shot you see up there from our bedroom window.
Frozen pizza in paradise, baby.
We're taking off for Florida this evening, so last night, we decided cooking was a bad idea. We'd been out with Allison all weekend so I wanted to cook, but due to the whole being gone for multiple days and food going bad thing, we decided a little Baluchi's half price dine in dinner would be a much better option.
Sadly, we were just about the only people who felt that way. The place was crazy empty when we got there. A couple folks filtered in as we ate, but for the most part, we had the place to ourselves.
We started with:
- combination platter assortment of chicken malai, chicken tikka, barrah kabab & shrimp
Then Meena had the:
- chicken tikka masala
And Alec had the:
- lamb vindaloo
To accompany our feast, we also had some garlic nan and some rice. I don't really like to eat much of either, but for Meena, it's just not Indian without it. The nice thing about those dine in visits, too, is that portions are much smaller. You get about 3/4 what you'd normally get and honestly, that's just right. Delivery is too much!
I'm not sure how constant the internet will be in Hillsboro, but I'll try to keep updates coming. I have a camera and a computer! LONG LIVE MEMOIRS!
After a lovely dinner at Lil' Frankies, we made our way over to the Bourgeois Pig for a little fondue and some drinks. One of the only things Allison wanted when we were talking about her NYC agenda was another night at the Pig. And we weren't about to deny her. So after waiting about five minutes, we were able to score a corner table for some drinks and treats.
The website isn't all that spectacular yet, so I don't know all the ingredients, but for the most part, it was milk chocolate with some Irish cream and an assortment of sweet breads and fruit. I had a glass of wine and the girls had some crazy drinks featuring ingredients like green apple wine and names like Marie Antoinette.
We left full and content with the way we'd capped off Allison's lovely weekend in NYC.
For Allison's last dinner in town, we finally made it to our favorite neighborhood hangout - Lil' Frankies. We got in pretty quickly and even ended up in our typical spot.
I had high hopes of possibly ordering something different, but I knew in my heart of hearts, I was going to do just like Meena and order my usual.
- pizza margherita (tomatoes, mozzarella & fresh basil)
- rigatoni with baby meatballs
- pizza marinara (tomatoes, sliced garlic, oregano, E.V. olive oil & a little peproncino)
It was wonderful. Dark, cozy and simply wonderful. I'm so glad we were able to show Allison a spot we frequent so often. I think she really enjoyed her pizza (I also enjoyed it today for lunch) and of course, Meena and I loved ours.
After trying about 30 restaurants in the neighborhood and getting dinged from nearly every one, we finally had some luck at one of our old Lower East Side favorites. We had high hopes of just hanging at Lil' Frankies, but in the end, we had to go where they wanted us! And Jeeb is always welcoming.
We got a nice little table on the back porch and despite a really, really loud and drunk table behind us, it was a ton of fun. Per their usual routine, things came out in odd sequences and the language barrier is still alive and well - but the food was wonderful as always.
For starters, Meena had:
- mixed seafood dumplings
And Dan had the:
I didn't try anything, but they both seemed to like everything.
For a main course, Meena got it started with:
- chicken pad thai spicy
Allison had the:
- yellow curry with chicken
Alec had the:
- bangkok spice with chicken
And finally, after about three hours, Dan had the:
- pineapple fried rice with chicken
Dan really didn't have to wait three hours, but it pretty much seemed like it. That was the only really unfortunate part of dinner. The food really was good and I love the back porch there. It's also pretty cheap, so that helps.
Anyway, it was a nice evening and as soon as we were finished, we sprinted back to the house to watch Peyton Manning on SNL!!
Allison is in New York! That's right. My little sister is in for the weekend and we're going to make sure it's nonstop food and fun for three days straight!
We started Friday night with a little college basketball. Allison is a Butler grad, so we watched them (sadly) go down to Florida. Good game. But poor Butler just didn't get it done.
Once we were finished, we split posthaste for Alec's favorite restaurant in all of NYC - Ivo & Lulu. We surprisingly got in very quickly and immediately got some wine poured and starters ordered.
Meena started with:
- smoked mussels in cilantro chili butter
Alec did the:
- baked pear with blue cheese and honey garlic oil
Allison stuck to the baguette.
For main courses, Meena and Allison both had the:
- broiled chicken with goat cheese and papaya puree
Alec had the:
- wild boar and sage sausages in a blueberry sauce
As always, everything was amazing. So amazing that I really didn't get photos until we were done. Whoops. It was just too good. Sorry, folks. I think Allison enjoyed it. I hope! Because I just love it so so so so much. And it's so great to have Allison here!
We were even able to introduce Allison to James and Diana! They were eating in the neighborhood, so stopped by after and had some drinks! Well, everyone but James. Anyway, it was mad fun!
Another Thursday, another Men's Journal event! I can't lie ... the last one was a lot more fun. This one was in a clothing store in SoHo and while the drinks and tapas were there, the space also featured really bright lights and thermometer busting temperatures. It was sorta painful. But it was important we all turn out so I brought Meena along for the ride.
Fortunately, we were right across the street from a Korean restaurant we'd tried once before. And enjoyed once before. So we dashed across the street (it was raining) and decided to give Woo Lae Oak another spin.
The place is so typical SoHo. For those of you who don't know ... it's just really sceney. Which is great if you're into that. I just don't happen to be. The place itself is really, really nice, it's mostly just the patrons who make it that way. I'm not sure why. Just the nature of the neighborhood I guess. Anyway.
So we got started with the typical Korean starter plates. Tonight we had broccoli, pickled radish, kimchee and marinated cucumbers. They also gave us a simple lettuce salad with a spicy sort of Korean dressing.
For a main course, Meena had:
- bok kum bop (steamed rice sautéed with diced vegetables and beef)
Alec had the:
- dol sot bi bim bop (crisped rice served with julienned carrot, daikon, assorted vegetables and beef)
The food was really solid. Again, the vibe in there was a little over the top, but they definitely deliver on the food. But then, a lot of the Korean places I eat here in the city are pretty consistent. I'm not sure I need to go back into that scene to get the same thing ... that's all I'm saying.
But it was really good. Very delicious for a rainy Thursday night!
NOTE: WLO ... I jacked your photos. SORRY!
I had class last night and after a few days of cooking, we just thought ... why not Chinese? We needed something prior to Lost and I caught a glimpse of some sort of Chinese food on a billboard while walking home ... so, you know.
Anyway, before I even got home, Meena called China Wok and got them going on the following for herself:
- shrimp lo-mein
- orange chicken
- egg roll
And for me, she asked for:
- hot & sour soup
- szechuan beef
- egg roll
Everything was solid. China Wok isn't like ... the best Chinese food ever. But I know that and that's why it's all good. It is, however, very cheap and very consistent. They may not be the best, but they'll never, ever be the worst, either.
It was a lot of food so we picked, you know? I only like one bite of my egg roll and Meena usually splits her two entrees and keeps the rest for leftover.
We were both full and ready for an evening with Lost!
Don't be fooled, folks. That's not a regular greasy hamburger. It's a delicious turkey burger with a side of sweet potato fries! I had been emailing Meena with some menu options throughout the day and after a few hours of sporadic exchanges, we finally agreed on this little gem you see up there.
Last time we made the turkey burger, it was basically a dud. No flavor. Boring. This time I was dead set on jazzing it up a bit. I used:
- ground turkey
- worchestershire sauce
- soy sauce
- romano cheese
- tomato paste
- olive oil
- garlic powder
- old bay seasoning
We topped the suckers off with a little homemade mustard and some field greens and it was simply fantastic. For the fries, we just used the old sweet potato and tandori spice mix routine. I sliced them extra thin this time and they were just divine.
I even had extras so we could take them to lunch today!
I feel like we typically have Taco Tuesday, but Monday just felt right for some flour tortillas and grilled chicken. We both got home at reasonable hours, so we hit the store posthaste and got to cooking.
Tonight our tacos featured:
- green chili peppers
- grilled chicken (spiced with salt, pepper, garlic salt and tandori spice mix)
- white cheddar
- fat-free sour cream
- field greens
Each taco was seemingly better than the one before it. The chicken was perfect, the peppers were spicy and the sour cream was cool and creamy. With a little twist of lime and a cold beer? This was a delicious Monday indeed.
Tonight I had to be out in Bushwick helping with a Monument music video directed by this guy named Lopez Williams. It was a long day and when I finally rolled up at the apartment around 11:00 or so, Miss Meena had some delicious Italian Wedding Pasta waiting.
We picked up this little recipe from a nice blog we like to read (check more locals! for the link). Meena took one look and knew it needed to be made. Ours included:
- bowtie pasta
- chicken meatballs (ground chicken, breadcrumbs, garlic, romano cheese and egg)
- chicken broth
- skim milk
- canned crushed tomatoes
Meena felt like it came out just a touch bland, but I didn't think so. Maybe a little more salt and pepper, but I wouldn't have added much more. The chicken meatballs were totally delicious. Who DOESN'T like meatballs?
Lopez even came back to our place later on and had a bowl. Delicious. Thanks a million to Miss Meena and Madeline Likes Food!