Small but Mighty🍴

Tapas are small dishes and the definition actually comes from the Spanish word for appetizer or snack, but when I translate it, it comes across as my opportunity to try more things on the menu with less guilt, and that is a wonderful thing.

Tapas are typically very savory dishes that have one goal and that is to pack a punch, because the chef fully understands that you are only going to get one to three bites from each dish. Tapas are not a place that you expect to get full,  the objective is not to get satiated, but to simply get gratified.

So the restaurant for today is Bacari PDR in Playa Del Rey, California and first up was Hunters Mac and Cheese made with five cheese fondue, toasted panko, white truffle oil, and scallions, which translates to…fair, not amazing, on the verge of good, but needed something a bit extra. The scallions were extremely large in proportion to the tapa portion, although piping hot on arrival, no cheese pull, and although I totally see where the chef was going with making the cheese a fondue, it just didn’t seem to follow through to the end.

Second up, Fried Chicken Sliders that were cornbread crusted on a hawaiin roll, stacked with long pickle slices, slaw, and aioli. The cornbread crust added a pleasurable amount of crunch, a hawaiin roll that always adds a hint of softness in texture and a diminutive amount of sweet, the pickles although toothsome seemed to create a harmony for the slaw, and all together this translated into a gratifying two biter.

Third up, Oven Roasted Bone Marrow with capers, panko, salt and pepper with a side of crostini, in layman’s terms that is what the waitress gleefully called beef butter. When scraping the marrow out of the bone, getting the almost gelatinous like texture on the bottom and broiled til lightly crunchy on top was the most scrumptious delicacy I have encountered in quite some time. Beef butter sounded so appropriate because it conveyed all the feels: creamy, salty, beefy, savory, slightly greasy to give your entire mouth the opportunity to dance at the party. If I had the opportunity I will go back to get this dish over and over again.

Fourth up, winter scallops with carrot parsnip puree, melted leeks, crispy capers, and white truffle oil. Whenever I order scallops from a restaurant what I am really doing is delving into the skill level of the chef. Scallops are a very difficult seafood to execute, one false move can produce a rubbery ball that is simply inedible, so when they are done right which means they are seared perfectly on the outside, no drying on the inside, yet maintaining its level of brininess, the chef in my opinion has hit a homerun, when you couple that scallop with a crunchy caper, I am totally prepared to get some poms poms and scream your name.

Last up, pan seared walnut crusted salmon sitting atop herb bulgar. To be honest the walnuts did not come through for me, if I had not read it on the menu, I would have had no clue they were even present on the fish, however the salmon was cooked extremely well, the taste was not fascinating, nor was it unmentionable, the bulgar did not necessarily provide much other than texture. It certainly was not a fail, it was far beyond a passing grade, but it definitely wasn’t superb.

I have always been team, tapas especially because it supports my waistline and my psyche, you get a bunch of food, yet with small bites, you feel like you did a menu tasting, and your figure does not suffer. That combined with the food being a solid win, I feel good in my soul and my stomach, well done Bacari PDR, well done🍴

Science & Nature 🍴

I have always had a respect for bakers especially seeing that I myself am not one. Baking is such a science, so exact, no teetering to the left nor to the right like stovetop cooking. It is super essential that measurements are spot on, that the ingredients you pick are not only in season, but the most premium for the dessert at hand, and when those things are not aligned, then you have something short of a mess.

I typically do not blog about desserts and not because I don’t eat dessert, because I certainly have my fair share or else I wouldn’t be having the daily discussion about whether or not I should go to the gym today or not;  but when I am blogging I tend to focus on main meals, and to be quite honest I throw shade on dessert and I don’t give them the props they are do, but today that stops and it stops now. 

Today’s trip was all about dessert from the Sweet Red Peach in Inglewood, California. I first heard about the Sweet Red Peach from Chef Duff Goldman, you know the guy on Food Network? Well to commemorate Juneteenth, Duff decided to shout all of the black owned bakeries that he deemed imperative that you check out in certain states, and when I knew that I would be in Los Angeles the Sweet Red Peach was first on my to do list. 

First up, the blue velvet cake, yes you read correctly blue velvet cake. People often favor the red velvet cake, but the blue velvet cake is basically the fraternal twin to the red velvet cake. They look a little different, but they are still from the same egg that split in two. Cakes in my estimation are a tricky thing, and not everyone executes perfectly. For me the cake to frosting ratio is super duper important, oftentimes you find cakes where the layer of cake is so miniscule and the icing portion is a behemoth, and when that happens the whole thing goes to pot. But the Sweet Red Peach had the impeccable quota of both. The more than right size of cake and the precise amount of cream cheese icing was divine. The cake was moist, it was the perfect amount of sweet, the icing had the right amount of tang for balance, but more importantly it tasted homemade.

If you are a dessert eater your nose and your palate knows the distinct taste between homemade and store made. It is super hard to convey with pen to paper, but homemade goods have a special aroma, that store bought doesn’t, homemade has a special taste of care and delicacy that store bought doesn’t, and homemade somehow taste cozy, it somehow gives me the simulation that my big breasted grandmother is holding me in her bosom with one hand and feeding me cake with the other, it was positively one of the best blue velvet cakes I’ve had.

Second up, the chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate chip cookies are like baseball. It is truly America’s favorite pastime and right up there with apple pie for being America’s favorite dessert. But not all cookies are created equal, and not all bakers can master the favorite cookie, and there are plenty and I do mean plenty of masquerading out there. With the level of cookie imposters it’s hard to choose who is going to be legit. I find myself leaning toward the large cookie, the cookie that has the best aesthetic, but even with that you can be fooled. But when I took my first bite of this Sweet Red Peach chocolate chip cookie there were no charade games being played here. This cookie with a mix of milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate was savory, it was sweet, but there were no chocolate chips as the name suggest, I believe they used shards of chocolate so you could get a visual of the different chocolates and also get an understanding that it was going to be decadent and that they symmetry between sweetness and smoothness went hand and hand. Each time I have a chocolate chip cookie, I put it through the refrigerator test. I want it to be slightly chilled, a little firm, but not crispy, and I want it to stand up to each bite without crumbling. I put this cookie through my test and it passed with flying or should I write edible delight colors. After taking it out of the fridge I was able to get more of that chocolate goodness in every bite that resonated to biting into a chunk, the center of the cookie was still homemade chewy, and the edges had a small crunch. In one bite I got all my palate desired in this life, sweet, savory, chewy chocolatey, and crunchy, to sum this up, this was a win win.

Last up, the namesake, the peach cobbler. Now when making peach cobbler I think it is essential that the baker be part scientist, part a God-fearing baker who totally understands that the good Lord has made fruit for humans to enjoy in this earth and when the two come together heavenly things tend to happen. There are alot of peach cobblers out there, some super sweet like eating melted jolly rancher syrup, some with too little peaches, some with not good crust, some just simply not understanding that it’s the peach here who is the work horse. But the Sweet Red Peach understood thoroughly who was the star of the show and who had the obligation to work the hardest to make this production a success. 

The crust was thick enough, but not doughy, it was nicely sweetened but not overly so, it was golden brown on top to signal me that this has been made with all the love their heart had to give. The peaches inside were just the right slice, no a slither, but a gratuitous slice, the peaches were sweet all on their own like I picked the peach from the tree myself. When peach cobbler is cooked correctly the peaches secrete their own nectar, their own sweet juice that graces the bottom of the cobbler, it’s not a syrupy fest where the peaches are overtaken by the syrupy juice. No, these peaches had a specific job to do and the baker let them do it, no extra sugar here, the sweetness was so satisfying I didn’t even need a glass of water to remove the sweetness that lingered on my tongue. This was peach cobbler, not candied sweets assuming the character of peach cobbler; this was the namesake dessert and it did the name justice, it was simply delectable.

Well done, Sweet Red Peach, I plan to visit you more than I should, but every bite is worth the extra time in the gym🍴

Happy Father’s Day Poppa Beck🍴

There is no one on this earth that I know, who loves burgers more than my dad, Poppa Beck. I have gone to the finest restaurants with him where the cuisine is artistic, fanciful, seasonal, and full of flair, yet he will order a burger. So when it came to celebrating the most handsome and loving man on this earth this Father’s Day, I knew that having a burger was in order.

The place that we opted to try was Wilmington, Delaware’s own Farmer & the Cow. This small restaurant is in the city of WIlmington where the city streets are less busy on the weekends, only the locals are strolling down the street, and the bright lights big city persona is non-existent, but they have something that can rival any big city, big name restaurant, any day of the week.

First up, mac and cheese, now I am fully aware that I write about mac and cheese quite a bit, but my thought process is,  if a restaurant is bold enough to put it on the menu I have a responsibility to taste it. Mac and cheese with aged parmesan, bacon jam, and sweet onion, in a nutshell… absolutely yummy. Nutty parmesan melted so wonderfully that I got a cheese pull with every forkful, the bacon jam worked double duty by giving it saltiness and a smooth hint of sweetness, and the onion was honeyed as only a vidalia onion should be. Yes, I found this mac and cheese delicious, but the best treat to this dish was the unexpectancy of it all. You just don’t presume that a burger restaurant would put that much panache into a side dish that easily fed 3.

Next up, the burger; the list of burgers were overwhelming, so many combinations, so many options, so many opportunities to let my comfort zone talk me into just ordering a standard burger, but I decided to go on a small limb and order “That’ll Do Pig.” Now if you follow me or know me personally you know my intimate relationship with bacon and how I affectionately call it the super meat, this burger was right up my alley. Let me inform you that all beef burgers at Farmer & the Cow are made with a blend of chuck,brisket, and filet. But to up the ante this burger had toppins of tater tots, cart sauce, bacon, bacon mayo, bacon jam, and my substitution of american cheese on a warm bun. 

Real talk, the first bite of that medium well done burger literally made me slightly close my eyes and gently rest my elbows on the table, and it was then I knew I had found infatuation. This burger stole my taste buds and handled them with care. I am totally convinced that the bacon was made in-house, this was beyond slab bacon, it was perfectly cooked, the perfect amount of meat to fat ratio, the jam cut through some of that saltiness that the back of my throat needed, I don’t even like mayonnaise, but bacon mayonnaise is a pig of different color, then topped with the tater tots that provided me with texture and the nostalgia of elementary school, and the american cheese that was fully melted, not semi-melted let me know this chef knew his burgers, understood his craft, and loves to have people enjoy their food.

It’s been some time since I have had a burger that I would define as wonderful, but Farmer & the Cow you have a prizewinner on your hands and it was my absolute pleasure to have it in mine.

This was the perfect place to celebrate my dad, to give him something that caused him to smile, that made him anxious to want to come back, and he legit enjoyed it and it wasn’t simply because I took him, well done Farmer & The Cow…well done🍴

Was it Really Worth the Splurge?🍴

There is something about seafood, it is kinda like a bell that rings loudly in the ears of men, women, and babies. When the words “seafood” are wafted through the air people find themselves thinking “indulgence is in our midst” and for a moment they envision themselves about to partake in a level of sumptuousness that doesn’t come around on a daily basis.

Papi Cuisine in Baltimore, Maryland gives off this very vibe, the images on Instagram looked so ravishing and the reservations so unyielding I found myself in a frenzy trying to make my acquaintance with the cuisine, and as serendipity would have it, today was my day.

During my time as a restaurant goer I have become very accustomed to levels, in other words the progression of the menu. First the appetizers, then entree, then the dessert; this progression is not only designed to set the tone for the palate, but it is a true introduction to the cuisine. The menu provides the patron with a peek into the range of the chef and what he or she deems as the apple of their eye. 

 The appetizers are often petite in portion and smaller in price, but this is certainly not the case for Papi Cuisine where seafood, especially the crab is the apple of this chef’s eye. So first up was the Crab Cake Egg Roll, a hand crafted roll filled with cheesy crab and drizzled with aioli sauce. Real talk, this was an expensive egg roll, but I will also write it was worth it. From the first bite I knew I was tasting premium crab meat, no filler whatsoever, it was sweet meat, it was tender, it was buttery, it was rich, beautifully golden brown, and savory, this egg roll was an absolute hit.  

After eating this egg roll, I found myself needing a refreshment, not because it was overwhelming in taste, but simply because I wanted something to wet whistle. When it came to ordering a refreshment there were none, or should I rephrase it was none for me; you see Papi Cuisine only serves alcoholic drinks and water. Now I am generally not a person who would find themselves easily slighted, but in this case I certainly did. Was Papi Cuisine making a statement without forwardly making one? I would certainly say they were, and whether or not they were aware of it, they were making the statement that they were not that interested in all kinds of clientele. What they went on to say without saying was that they devalued the non-alcoholic drinker and that their focus was not on me and that they were ok with that. No coke products, no pepsi products, no tea, no lemonade, no consideration. 

Second up, the Ultimate Seafood Alfredo, with grilled lobster, colossal shrimp, and jumbo crab. If there are kudos for the presentation you definitely deserve yours, the exhibition was very nicely done. Now there is something to be said for thinking a plan out to the end and putting yourself in the shoes of the patron. Although the staging was great the actual plan for eating was a bit on the flop side for me. You see I am the kind of eater who hates to eat with their hands. If I order pasta I am strategically picking not to get my hands integrated into the festivities, but I had to in order to eat this. I had to pull and I do mean pull with an extra umph to get that lobster out of the shell, I had to remove the shells from the ends of my shrimp, and all of this before I could take one single bite.

When I took that first bite of the pasta and lobster, I thought creamy and I tasted yummy from the pasta and sauce only. The lobster on the other had not taken a trip to flavortown and was left rubbery, vapid, and completely unfulfilling. Having grown up on crab, I fancy myself as a semi-expert, so I know that no matter the description of the crab, lump or otherwise it is a delicate piece of meat. When you have something so delicate the matchup is crucial. When you go out of your way to use the term “Ultimate Seafood…” what you are insinuating is that with every bite I will participate in every piece of seafood in the pasta, and I could not taste the crab. It was swallowed up by the heaviness of the alfredo, the sauce left no room for the crab to shine through. But then redemption took place in between bites when I got to the shrimp. In most cases I would frown on fried shrimp in a wet pasta, but the shrimp held up and the taste of those shrimp was better than a home run. Papi Cuisine each time I wanted to condemn you for your sins with that lobster and that overpriced appetizer, I found myself letting your transgressions escape me with each bite of that alfredo pasta and shrimp.

Papi Cuisine, I am well aware that you are still a young business and I view your infancy compared to your execution, so I am prepared to give you some allowances. However, I will give you some feedback, keep in mind that appetizers probably shouldn’t be the same price as entree prices, and for goodness sakes man get some non-alcoholic drinks in your establishment and stop shunning those who have opted not to partake, and lastly for the prices you must get some desserts on the menu. Desserts act as a culmination to an experience and serve as a last impression.

Papi Cuisine I am actually excited to see how you will grow, how you change, and more importantly how you take feedback from your patrons. Next time I come I know to order the appetizer only and to bring my own lemonade from Chick-Fil-A🍴