Salt is a Balancer Not an Ingredient

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All chefs know that salt is not an ingredient, it is a balancer; it is not designed to create flavor, it is designed to extract existing flavors or balance them out; everyone knows balance is the key to life, to much of anything can make a good thing go bad, but maybe they didn’t know this concept at Tutto Fresco in Wilmington, Delaware.

My night always starts off great when the parking is free and the traffic on your way to the restaurant is light, and to boot I have worked out earlier in the day, so eating pasta for dinner doesn’t seem like that much of a heavy-hitter on my calorie count that day. With “balance” being the word of the day, I decide to order the risotto with shrimp, scallops, mussels, & clams, and when it arrived it looked absolutely gratifying, the risotto appeared as creamy as a good risotto should be, so without further a do, I slid my fork in, and when it hit my mouth I tasted the brackish taste of alkaline that completed inundated my tastebuds…simply put the risotto was extremely SALTY; so much so I had to douse my mouth with water, then without further delay send the risotto back.

Being despondent, yet still being famished I decided to order the “classico,” which was the spaghetti with meatballs and italian sausage. When this bowl was presented to me I don’t think I had ever seen so much sauce on a spaghetti before in my life, but it was all balanced out with the massive meatballs and large pieces of sausage, but everyone knows bigger is not always better, I mean after all this is Delaware not Texas. Now the taste of the spaghetti was certainly not unappetizing, but neither was it delectable and left over worthy either.

In every situation it is always imperative to find a silver lining, and my cousin said she found that lining in her plate of fettucini with shrimp and scallops, a simple dish she said, but very delectable. She stated that all the ingredients blended together perfectly and the alfredo sauce had the perfect level of creaminess which is always important.

So had it not been for the delight I experienced from watching my cousin eat and the bread the server brought to the table that looked like and tasted like pizza this whole eating experience would have been a complete bust.

Whoever said bread is the super food I guess were only speaking of the rolls maybe not the risotto, especially when they speak of Tutto Fresco.

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All Hail Hailbut!!!

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Dear Lord-

The other day I prayed in earnest for some good food that would not only make me smile but produce a level of euphoria that every person should feel when dining out; and being the kind and loving God that you are, you led me to one of  the most unexpected places on earth…Macy’s Manhattan, New York at a place called “Stella Trattoria.”

Who knew that once I walked into Macy’s I would be able to not only experience shopping heaven, but the most elegant, yet airy, sleek decor restaurant. Now Lord it is not that I doubted you for a moment that you would come through in this area, but in an effort to always be honest, having just come off of a restaurant ruin, I was a bit dubious and as a result I gazed at the menu and the kind server with reluctance in my eyes. Because I always attempt to live on edge I dived in, but only in the shallow water and started with a something simple…the fried calamari with spicy tomato sauce & pickled peppers..AMAZING…the calamari was perfectly cooked, lightly fried with just enough crisp, and the calamari rings were not remotely chewy and the pickled peppers were fried to perfection as well, initially tasted sweet with a hint of bitterness, but the heat from them almost made me breathe fire, which would have been perfect for me to shoot on the waiter had the dish been a FAIL.

With my enthusiasm high and my trust levels being in the respectable zone I went for it and ordered the pancetta wrapped halibut, sitting atop a sugar snap pea, mint, golden raisin, & agro-dolce salad. With all that being said I was still experiencing a Forrest Gump moment…this salad sounds like a box of chocolates and I don’t know what I am going to get. When the dish arrived and I took my first bite a party ablaze on my palate, but just to make sure I was not delusional I took another bite and my palate experienced absolute jubilee. The salad was like a spring day that had it’s roots in gently crisp snap peas with mint leaves that gave it a refreshing taste on the backdrop, then the raisins added a dash of sweetness just to make me smile, there was also a tad of light and tangy vinaigrette, that was like adding an extra hour of sunlight.

Lord, most of all I want to thank you for introducing me to the star of the show, the perfectly cooked halibut that melted in my mouth with the added bonus of the crispy italian bacon was simply sumptuous. The lightness of the fish with the saltiness of the pancetta was like and odd couple being married, but somehow found the tools to make it work.

When I took a forkful of the salad and the pancetta wrapped halibut together, that euphoria that I prayed for came quickly along with a smile that lasted long after the plate was swept clean.

Lord it was after this meal that once again I was completely convinced that you will indeed perfect that which concerns me up to and including my foodie embarkments…THANK YOU!!!

 

Signed,

Brioche With Beckham

 

 

Houndstooth you Ain’t Nothing but a Hounddog

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Now we all know that New York is one of the food capitols of the world, but that doesn’t mean you will always receive superior service or amazing food, and that exception was prominently present at Houndstooth in Manhattan, New York.

To begin with I would never suggest that anyone drive and search for parking unless you have some extra arms and legs you wanna spare, because that is exactly what it will cost you…so when in New York, do as the New Yorkers do and cab it.

Whenever you try a new place it is always the luck of the draw. So on this daring night I opted to order a salad with goat cheese fritters, granny smith apples, pecans, & apple cider vingegarette. I tried to swap out the pecans, simply because I am more of a pistachio kinda person, but no substitutions here. My immediate attraction to this dish was not only the ability to get my leafy greens in for the day, but the goat cheese fritters, which in reality was a ball not a fritter. The ensemble of the dish was lack luster, the greens were limp and the dressing did nothing to enhance the flavor; but I have never been known to quit at a starter, so I ordered the crab cake appetizer, with my fingers & toes crossed I prayed for the best.

Now I have made many mistakes in my life so I need to go ahead and add the crab cake appetizer to the list just to make the tracking system fair. This crab cake was not lump meat as the menu indicated, it was claw and tons and tons of filler, so much filler that whatever crab meat there was it was totally masked. It was clearly frozen and seated in scorching hot oil, because the crust was on the dark side. Everyone who knows me knows I am a “sender backer,” but I only do this when I believe in the cooks propensity to get it right..well my confidence was low and my desire for a complete debacle was even lower.

I would usually stop at my description of the food, but you know service is a big deal in a dining out experience and unless it was especially crappy I would not mention it…IT WAS ESPECIALLY CRAPPY. The waitress had not taken supplement of gingko kaloba, so the downfall of that is getting the order wrong multiple times, then to boot she was the type of waitress who was not the most attentive, so make sure you do not drop your fork here at Houndstooth Manhattan, New York because you will not be getting a new one for quite a while.

No Hail to Halibut

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Dear Lord,

All I want at this moment outta life is a delicious meal, one to make me smile with joy, because the flavors are busting loose in my mouth. I simply wanna read a menu that reads seared halibut, with fingerling potatoes, chorizo, fava beans, & english peas to not only be cooked perfectly, but i want to taste the saltiness from the chorizo, the buttery flavor of the fava bean, to create a symphony of flavors on my palate. Lord why must the food be so bland, sure the portion size was absolutely delightful, but what is portion size, when it seems like I am eating an extra portion of spa food at a fat farm. Maybe I should be thankful, that this flavorless halibut at Blair’s Restaurant in LA made me feel guiltless for the chocolate chip cookie I ate another location.

Lord in an effort to always be thankful in all things, let me not forget that on a high note, my friend ordered the beet salad and french fries (weird combo I know) felt the titillation of sweet beets, the crunch of candied walnuts, and the crumbles of bleu cheese in a vinegarette dressing explode on her tastebuds; so for all you beet lovers who don’t mind your teeth being reddish pink when you smile, this salad is the perfect meal for you, and the fries well…they were perfectly cooked thin cut fries that come with japaleno ketchup, perfect for anyone who believes some spice in your life is always a good thing.

Lastly, God let me not forget the blessing of free parking at the meter on Sunday, the good music the establishment played, a little jazz, a little R&B, and a little blue grass, it was such a quaint place that was appropriate for a date or simply hanging out with the girls.

But Lord if you could find it in your infinite wisdom to give me a great locale, free parking, and next time fabulous food, I would be so grateful.

Signed your favorite food critic,
Brioche With Beckham

So Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf

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Meatloaf is an at home favorite, it simply makes you think of Mom. This comfort food is often not found in high end restaurants and if they are, you tend to lose that comfort food taste and feeling that meatloaf done right provides, but not here at Citizen Public House in Scottsdale, Arizona in Old Town Scottsdale, where free street parking is available for 3 full hours.

This meatloaf has a fancy name “Amaro Meatloaf” which is comprised of montenegro amaro italian liqueur, pork & beef, with parsnips, yukon gold mashed potatoes, roasted zucchini, & veal demi-glacé, & mushroom cream. The cut of this meatloaf is so thick that a carnivore will go into optic ecstasy, and whenever there is tons a meat, be prepared to chew for what feels like an eternity, but don’t fret the meatloaf is tender and the liqueur the drapes over it is a perfect substitute for Mommas ketchup we are all use to putting on homemade meatloaf. This tasty meatloaf mixed with a forkful of the mashed potatoes just simply made this entire meal completely satisfying.

Tip: with this dimly lit restaurant and the exceptional waitstaff service, I would absolutely say this is a good date place, but if you don’t wanna take a date, you can absolutely take your Momma too so she can see how old school meatloaf meatloaf meets new school meatloaf, but make sure she brings her glasses with the dim lighting it may be difficult for her to see the menu.

Exquisitely Beautiful, Yet So Deceiving

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Presentation so beautiful you are slightly reluctant to eat the food once it is presented here at Distrito in Scottsdale, Arizona located inside the Saguaro Hotel where parking is free for patrons of the hotel and a nominal valet fee for non-patrons.

After I got over my reluctance to eat edible art I opted to start the night with the Pardinolas (fried cocktail crab claws w/green aioli)..EXCITING RIGHT. In laymen terms this is blue crab claws that have been de-shelled with the exception of the actual claw, dipped in tempura batter, then fried. Now the menu had me at “crab” and “fried” which brought my excitement meter to super high, because my palate is anticipating the taste of sweet crab, seasoned enough to taste the light salt, but not overpowering enough to lose the oceanic flavor you should have from all shell fish. What I got was the complete opposite and not to my delight..now don’t get me wrong the concept was superb, and I truly believe it could have been a home run, but it didn’t get past 2nd base, because the crab was flavorless and slightly overcooked which meant slightly mushy.

Since I have never been known to give up at appetizers I proceeded to an entrée, and selected the tacos, Distrito’s version of a high fluent street taco with a fancy spin. There are 3 tacos on the menu, but unfortunately you cannot mix and match, so 3 mini pescado tacos (mahi mahi) it was, with red cabbage, avocado & chipolte remoulade. First bite I taste the remoulade, second bite the bitter taste of the cabbage, and third bite a citrus flavor from the citrus chai…what’s the fish taste like you are wondering, I wish I could tell you, but with all those other fore-mentioned flavors it completely dominated the barely seasoned grilled mahi mahi. Some street tacos are the best flavored tacos ever, nothing fancy smancy, just plain good and better left untampered with…this proves BEAUTY DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL DELICIOUS.

On the bright side the atmosphere at Distrito is awesome, open and airy, perfect for a date, and the waitstaff is friendly, but not that quite forth right considering he could have told me that taco or appetizer was not that good…ON TO THE NEXT SO STAY TUNED!!!

Tart – Definitely Left a Bitter Taste in my Mouth

Tart SignStrawberry Lemonademultigrain french toastMeat Lovers Scamble Now I will be the first to say that esthetics mean a great deal to me, and when you pull up to valet at Tart Restaurant  LA for $5.00 with validion that is exactly what you will see, sure you can choose street parking at the meter, but if your a chatterbox like me, the liklihood of you getting a parking ticket is very high. The atmosphere gives me a beachy vibe, yet somehow provides me with an indoor beach restaurant experience after the LA sun has completely drained me. Now I went in Tart completely famished, which means my palate was craving all kinds of food and completely lost its sense of direction as to what to choose, should I choose brunch or dinner? Finally after getting focused I decided to be a maverick and opt for an oldie but goodie – full throttle breakfast. Because I am in LA with the beautiful people I always feel compelled to order something with a similitude of healthiness, yet something that will satisfy my fleshly desire not to be healthy, so I order the multi-grain french toast with fresh strawberries, bacon fried crispy of course & a strawberry lemonade. Well when the order arrived my eyes lit up with joy and my eyes surveyed the plate of  6 thick slices of golden french toast, now it was time to go in…and sad to write the taste of TART’s french toast fell flat; no taste of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even powdered sugar, now sure the menu didn’t read that those items were included, but who has french toast without them, I assumed it was a given, clearly my error. Now it is possible they were in there and my tongue lost all sense of consciousness, but I seriously doubt it.  On a brighter side the bacon was exactly what bacon should be, the  french toast was a complete waste of calories…I know by now you are wondering if  the strawberry lemonade picked up any slack that the french toast left off and I wanna write “yes” but a resounding “yes” I just can’t, but I can write “refreshing,”  but potent on the strawberry it was not.

My dear friend ordered the “Meat lovers Scramble” and it showed up in an old fashioned cast iron skillet, like I wrote before there is no shortage on esthetics here at Tart; in the midst of this carnivore heaven was: bacon, turkey sausage, chicken andoullie sausage, ham, mushrooms, spinach, & cheddar cheese there was something tragic….HARD EGGS a.k.a over-cooked, not fluffy, and not visually soft, with a side of homestyle potatoes that lacked seasoning…what a disappointment.

 Again my theory has been proven, LA restaurants tend to be more of a social experience than a food experience, my question is “WHY CAN’T I HAVE BOTH?” So today the verdict is… TART IS BITTER. Tart is located on 115 S. Fairfax Ave, Los Angles.

Black Hogg – A Pork Revision

porkbelly taco bread pudding & churrosBlack Hogg (LA – Silverlake-$$$) – Whenever I read the words HOGG in any title with the insinuation that pork is on the horizon, my face lights up like a bulb with joy. For all my pork lover brother and sisters I encourage you to start the night off with the “popcorn” bacon, where the first bite reminds you eating a waffle with syrup, but it happens to be fried & if dessert is on your mind as your entree try the pork belly taco that is the absolute perfect portion and in an effort to make you feel like you are not dishonoring your diet completely it is served with apple slaw. Now in keeping it honest, I must write when I think of bacon, I think salty goodness with fat; Black Hogg cures their own bacon, and it lacked the saltiness that my taste buds desire when bacon is coming in for the kill, it didn’t make it less good, it just made me feel less glutonises which is not necessarily a bad thing.  When it comes to desert I promise you will feel like you either need to walk home or do double sessions at the “Fit Factory” (Melrose Ave) with that being written you MUST try the homemde churros & bread pudding…yummy..i digress. As I said this place is small and opens @6:00 pm, but if you want to get a seat arrive @ 5:45 pm at this no-reservation zone.  Black Hogg offers old school BYOB with cork service…yes I wrote it – BYOB (BRING YOUR OWN BOTTLE)…going on a date, go to Black Hogg!  going to dinner with food lover(s), go to Black Hogg! going with girlfriends who really know how to eat, go to Black Hogg! got some friends who just wanna eat chicken…go to Black Hogg! but if you wanna take your kids, DON’T go to Black Hogg, this should be an adult zone only…BLACK HOGG YOU HAVE MY DELICIOUS VOTE!! Go Pork you indeed are the super meat.