Monday, April 26, 2010

Tennessee, tornados and tons of fun

Now that I have your interest, check back later.  A weekend excursion to Memphis and Nashville is going to take a few blogs to get it all covered.  It going to take a few days to get it sorted.  Look for some pics and maybe even a video or two as well.

Teaser:  Loretta Lynn is still alive and still has some pipes :)
Her 75th birthday was April 14th.  There's some country trivia for you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brixx in full summer swing

What does great weather have to do with pizza? Brixx of course. Their fresco seating, combined with a fun, light fare and great pizza toppings make for a wonderful Saturday afternoon event. A little light shopping at Birkdale, and you have a great little time out from the every day.

We always find ourselves enjoying a quirky pizza. This time it was Wild Mushroom pizza - that was brushed with olive oil, a medley of wild mushroom, some shaved Parmesan cheese and arugula for topping. I never realized the spicy little bite that arugula has until it is featured on a pizza.

We find a nice salad goes well with their pizza. There are only 4 salads to choose from, but they are all very different. The namesake favorite being the Brixx Salad with spring mix, goat cheese, pine nuts and other tasty bits. I opted for the caesar, looking for a contrast to the springy flavor of the pizza. They have a spinach salad that is well prepared, as well as a meditarranean that has banana peppers, cheese and onion.

One constant is the great service. Our server used to be the full time bartender - and was a reason we sat in inside all the time. Even going for just a snack, she did such a good job, we would sit in the bar section. Parenthood has changed her schedule, which changed her section, which changed our section. We are all for it.

Being what are deemed "regulars", we get all types of cool promos and discount opportunities. I love trying new places - no doubt. But there is a welcome pleasure in being remembered and cared for at a restaurant.

Lunch for 3 (with take home packs) - $32. I'll take it all day.

 Brixx Wood-Fired Pizza (Huntersville) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crème Brûlée two ways... This is for my Mrs.

Crème Brûlée

From Betty Crocker Cookbook  (Wiley, 2005)
Serves 4

6 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar, plus 8 teaspoons for topping
1 teaspoon vanilla

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Heat water in a kettle to come to a boil.

BEAT egg yolks lightly with wire whisk in small bowl. Stir whipping cream, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla until well-mixed in a large bowl. ADD egg yolks to cream mixture; beat with wire whisk until well-blended.

PLACE 4 (6-ounce) ramekins in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour cream mixture evenly into ramekins. Place baking dish in oven. Pour enough boiling water into pan, being careful not to splash water into ramekins, until water comes two-thirds up on sides of ramekins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until tops are light golden brown and sides are set (centers will be jiggly).

TRANSFER ramekins to wire rack, using tongs or grasping tops of ramekins with potholder. Cool 2 hours or until room temperature. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours but no longer than 2 days.

UNCOVER ramekins; blot any condensation on custards with paper towel. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar over each custard. Holding kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches away, caramelize sugar on each custard about 2 minutes, moving flame continuously in circular motion, until sugar is melted and light golden brown. Or top each with sugar and place ramekins in a baking pan with low sides. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat source for 4 to 6 minutes or until sugar is melted and forms a glaze. Serve immediately.

Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée

From the Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona
Serves 8

2 cups whipping cream
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 8 tablespoons for top

PREHEAT oven to 300 degrees.

BRING cream and half-and-half to boil in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain.

DIVIDE custard among 8 (3/4-cup) ramekins. Place cups in a large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake about 50 minutes, until custards are set. Remove from water; chill 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

PREHEAT broiler. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon sugar. Broil until sugar turns golden, watching closely to avoid burning, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until custards are set, 1 to 2 hours.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flat Rock Grille - a worthy trip

Steak and Seafood done well in Hickory and Asheville!

I was happy to find great food at the Flat Rock last night. We had a company celebration and chose the Hickory location due to it's convenience. I have wanted to go, due to their nice brunch menu. Fortunately this was my favorite kind of food - FREE. I mean someone paid, just not me :)

Appetizers came by the plenty. There was a hummus-like shrimp and crab dip, fried wontons, calamari, potato skins and the ever popular spinach artichoke dip. To start , I think the wontons had the spinach dip in them. They were not what I expected, though not bad. The spinach dip fad has run it's course in my opinion, so I am never impressed. Now do the crab dip with large lump crab and you get my attention. I saw the shrimp, the rest was hard to tell. The potato skins were typical in quality - but very large. That was a nice plus, we were able to split them so everyone had plenty. The calamari was fresh and crisp. Apps are apps, these were no different.

Entrees were the real highlight. I ordered the NY strip (cooked medium) with the sweet potato souffle and grilled asparagus. The temp on the steak was 100% perfect. It was a fine cut, tender and flavorful. It had a great char on the exterior, while being wonderfully medium throughout. The souffle was very tasty, though not a souffle at all. It was a portion of a casserole scooped out on the plate. I was hoping for a pillowy little dish of yumminess. It was a slightly runny, yummy sweet scoop of goodness. Just not as advertised. The asparagus was tender and nicely grilled.

Others had a rack of ribs (massive), diamond grilled flounder (very impressive) in an apricot glaze, fried fish trio, all of the sides were ample and well enjoyed.

The visit was a lot of fun, not too busy (so conversation was easy), food was timed well, service was good, the only hang up is the pricing. $22 for a strip is a little high, $21 for the flounder is certainly high - though I promise I will be going to get it myself. Chicken and pasta entrees are in the middle teens for price, so most budgets can go. I just know in other locations, a porterhouse runs $22-23. I'd love a porterhouse right now. Gotta grill???

Flat Rock Grille on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Asparagus - On the grill or in the oven???

Well, now you can choose based on the rest of the meal.

You will find this recipe to be easy and versitile. As the warm weather continues, I don't see having a 400 degree oven as an appealing cooking method.

Roasted Asparagus Bundles
2005, Robin Miller, All rights reserved

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings.

•1 pound fresh asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed and discarded
•4 scallions, root end trimmed
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place asparagus and scallions on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Wrap individual portions of asparagus with scallion to tie into bundles.


Friday, April 2, 2010

ONLY in San Francisco

Free burritos for life!

San Francisco eatery revives offer of a free meal every day -- in exchange for some personal real estate.

Posted by Karen Datko on Thursday, April 1, 2010 3:35 PM
What would you sacrifice in exchange for a free meal a day for life at the neighborhood Mexican restaurant? How about 4 square inches of real estate on your biceps, calf, chest or … whatever?

San Francisco landmark Casa Sanchez has revived an offer that got lots of publicity back in 1999 -- free lunch every day if you get the restaurant logo tattooed somewhere -- visible to the general public or not, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Free burritos and tacos for life? That’s a heckuva deal, even better than Jennifer Hudson’s guarantee of free food for life at Burger King. (Flipping burgers for the king was Hudson’s first job.) The tattoo of Jimmy the Cornman riding on an ear of corn costs about a hundred bucks -- and you pick up the tab. After that, lunch is on them.

We’ve read about other offers of free food that didn’t involve permanent alteration of body parts -- unless you bust a gut -- like a free pizza a month for a year from Bang Bang Pizza in Norwalk, Conn., if you consume a 22-inch pie in a half hour.

Actually, free food is available at lots of restaurants if you know where to look, via printout coupons, birthday clubs and the like.

The first time around, Casa Sanchez limited the deal to 50 participants, and after all those years about a dozen still show up, some of them out of economic necessity. One of the regulars is a 37-year-old jobless construction worker named Makena Echeverria. Another is Duncan Davidson, 38, who recently lost his job.

"It's like an insurance policy," he told the WSJ. "When you literally have $2 to your name … it's nice to be able to eat."

The WSJ said three people have sprung for tattoos in the new go-round, appropriately called the “Stimulus Special.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Part One - Davidson DO's and DON'Ts

So this will take a couple entries. The first is Friday related.

Do - Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride through Davidson

Don't - Think of going over 25mph anywhere unless you want company. They bring the party lights

Do - Grab and ice cream cone at Ben and Jerry's

Don't - Expect it to be cheap

Do - Enjoy a craft beer/beverage at Brickhouse

Don't - Try to get in quickly after 6:30