Sweetiekins

During my recent trip to Scottsdale, AZ, for work which included a day trip to Sedona and enjoy the ridiculously amazing weather and the gorgeous red rock landscape with my very sweet Filipino aunty of a cubicle mate, Lourdes. If you’re following my gastrogasmic adventures on the accompanying Facebook page you’ll have seen some of the incredible meals from that trip.

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My lunch at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen in Sedona, AZ

 

One of those meals followed me home when, a few weeks ago, Lourdes showed me that she had attempted to make these roasted sweet peppers we had ordered for lunch at a small resort in Sedona. She shared one with me and regardless of what they say about food always tasting better on vacation it’s very difficult to mess up oven-roasted mini sweet peppers.  The one thing she hadn’t been able to get was the aioli. I was so inspired that I decided to stop by the Aldi that just opened up down the road (bringing back some fun memories).

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, from Foodfanatic

My own method for cooking up these little babies is to

  1. Toss with (very little) avocado oil or olive oil,
  2. sprinkle with some coarse salt and fresh ground pepper,
  3. You can also add a sprinkle of garlic powder if you want a little extra something,
  4. Roast on a baking tray at 400 F for 20-30 minutes turning about halfway through (fair warning I like them lightly charred so adjust the time as desire).

Simple right? And unlike some other roasted vegetables these taste really good on their own with very little help. But if you’re looking for something to go with them you can mix this aioli up:

  1. Crush 1 large clove of garlic into a small bowl,
  2. Add about a teaspoon of lime juice and a teaspoon of harissa,
  3. Mix in a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise (or I use vegenaise) and an equal amount of sour cream.

Alternatively, and I’ve done this a couple of times, you can just use a butter knife to cut through one side of the pepper and put about a 1-2 teaspoons worth of goat cheese and just consume that heck out of those babies!

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Forget Those Fools and Get Yourself Some of These Fries!

So on another Foodie Adventure this week. Actually it’s a work trip to learn more about our office database system (wooooo!) so technically I’m being paid to learn and take notes and present and stuff. But it would be a total shame for them to send me all the way down to New Orleans and NOT have me eat myself silly every day.

And here begins the tale of how I ended up wearing nothing decent eating the best french fries on Earth watching “Game of Thrones”. Just a warning, there are no pictures for this post because that would change the ratings on this blog and I’m not sure I can uphold that level of indecent excitement on a regular basis

I arrived in NOLA last night already exhausted from the weird flight patterns and shuttle ride and the whole it being the end of a long week thing. It wasn’t a good look for me. So the universe decided I needed a treat and the hotel I was booked in for the conference had gone and overbook itself. Why? Wrestle Mania. I think that speaks for itself.

In all the need for hitting the ultimate profit margin my room had been given away and as recompense I was given a lovely corner suite on the 18th floor with free internet for the rest of the week. Needless to say, after a full night’s sleep I came back to my senses and trolloped around the room in a towel watching cartoons while researching where to go find breakfast. I settled on the apparently not-so-small-in-reputation Cafe Beignet around the corner from my hotel where I had myself a lovely breakfast of rather little import as well as a beignet offered to me by a nice gentleman sharing my table who is in town for an even bigger conference than mine.

After that there was some work to be done on my other-other job (there are new blogs in my repertoire these day in the line of “guerrilla activism” for an area to which I am greatly endeared: hating stupid people) before an afternoon session clicking around in a database I spend almost 60 hrs a week in learning how to register people for meetings and charging them lots of money to make me. Muahahahaha! Gimme all your money!

Aaaaanyways. Long boring story shorter there was a big reception in a super cool art gallery where I forced myself to say hello to a bunch of strangers (so not my style), check out the food (lines were way too long for little bowls of things), thinking about booze (but not drinking any because of recent issues with headaches). Talked to some lovely folks in Law and Alzheimers (different groups) and then headed back to the hotel to switch into my comfy clothes that make me look like I’m about 10 years younger than I actually am–not the most helpful thing when I already look about 8 years younger than I actually am– and planned a mini-adventure.

I’d been looking up places on Yelp a couple days before coming down south and noticed this kind of random looking place with some interesting ratings on french fries. So I decided to make a little jaunt to what I thought was fairly close only to find that I was about to be working off the food before I’d even gotten it. I walked down some dark alleys behind where all the action takes place at night. Got a little worried when I realized I looked like a teenaged girl wandering around neighborhoods with no streetlights and low traffic but it seemed decent enough and no one raped or mugged me so Yay!

Well there I was just walked down this dark street surrounded by all this cool architecture with the shutters all closed up and thinking I’d be back in civilization soon because it looked like the place I was headed would be near something. Wrong! It looked like any other house on the corner with light coming out of windows partially blocked with the kind of dry goods and detergents you find in small places on the side of deserted highways. Inside seemed kind of seedy with a glassed in cashier area protecting the cigarette’s and lottery tickets. And wouldn’t you know it the lady running the cashier is Vietnamese. It is called Quarter Grocery & Deli and it is located HERE:

Map

But the fries… Yeah. They’re the best fries I think I’ve ever had in my life. And that’s saying something.

They were super hot, had a crunchy coating, and we soft and fluffy in the middle. They were so hot, in fact, that they were still hot and crispy when I got the remainder of my precious cargo back to my hotel room where clothes were shed, ketchup packets were ripped open, and HBO was turned on. Yep, this is going to be a good trip.

An (Armchair)Adventure with Some Seriously Sexy Food

I’m thinking I need to take a trip soon to help quell the over-flowing wanderlust I’ve been suffering from lately. And not one of those well-planned out trips with reservations and logistics. I mean the kind that happen because you’re on the verge of sleep deprivation and someone starts off with “You know what would be epic…?” and ends with you waking up to the sound of sheep under the shadow of Stonehenge (because it’s the one not-cloudy morning in England for the month).

But in the meantime I still have over 1,000 emails to clear out of my inbox at work and I’ve been in bed by 10 pm all week (and it’s already Monday!) so I’ll just have to make do with this little treat I found during this evening’s browsing (follow the link to travel photos that go with the amazing looking recipe pictured below):

 

Raspberry Brown Butter Cake with Goat Cheese Buttercream & A Raspberry Port Reduction, from Adventures in CookingRaspberry Brown Butter Cake with Goat Cheese Buttercream & A Raspberry Port Reduction, from Adventures in CookingRaspberry Brown Butter Cake with Goat Cheese Buttercream & A Raspberry Port Reduction, from Adventures in Cooking

Raspberry Brown Butter Cake with Goat Cheese Buttercream & A Raspberry Port Reduction, from Adventures in Cooking

Hey. Nice Tots.

Tater Tots, Bullitt in San Francisco

Tater Tots, Bullitt in San Francisco

I don’t post a lot of less that gastroporn perfect photos because there is rarely a reason to. But when I saw “The Country’s Top Tater Tots Slideshow” from The Daily Meal there was really nothing that could stop me from trying and seeing whether or not it was even remotely appealing to my Foodie Nation (That’s you, Reader!)

I do have a fancy camera, I just really hate carrying it around and I also really hate those people at the table Instgramming their food. You’d think I’d be the exact opposite about stuff like that but I’m intolerably picky about food photos. Even the one for this post was carefully selected because it had one of the better compositions in the bunch. The idea of guacamole on tater tots is cool but not quite gastrogasmic, in my opinion. But it was the best picture of tater tots. Now, occasionally, I will post a photo from my phone on Facebook if it’s absolutely necessary. Example: Hotel Chocolat tasting room and a grilled cheese food court place in Boston. These are things the world just NEEDS to know about. An awkwardly lit plate of sushi that came out looking like it was crawling with diseases in a dump? Not going on Facebook.  I’m all for attempting to achieve the perfect Platonic form of food and if it tastes amazing or looks fantastic on the plate but ends up looking like someone took a dump in the photo? That’s just gross. Please don’t do it. And, if you do, don’t expect any praises from me. Because it may taste out of this world but if it looks like space junk’s junk on a plate… I think you get the point.

And back to tater tots and how much I am absolutely in love with them.

I have yet to meet anyone that doesn’t like tater tots. I’ve met people who haven’t had tater tots and they are very sad people. I usually cheer them up buy making them tater tots. Yes, they are not healthy as a food choice and I fully recognize this. A lot of people think that I actually eat like I blog. That would be ridiculous and if I did I would weight about a million pounds right now and have a lot more serious back problems. In fact, I’ve been losing weight since I started food blogging. Who needs breakfast (which I totally just forgot to even think about this morning before leaving the house) when they can WRITE about breakfast? Well that’s a rather dumb example but I’m less hungry looking at these tater tots than I was making excel spreadsheets of all the students I’m ready to give a good kick in the pants for not passing any of their classes and STILL trying to register for next school year. There is so much money being wasted I wish I could dip myself in honey and just stand outside naked and hope it would stick to me so I could quit this job and go live in the country with a couple chickens and a goat. But then my money would be sticky and I don’t like that so I’ll keep my clothes on for the time being.

Oh yeah! This post is about tater tots.

Best tater tots I’ve had in my area? There are two locations. One is actually the university’s cafeteria.  I’ve griped about their food in the past but their breakfasts are great and eating them every day DID make me gain a ton of weight back when I used to eat them more regularly. For $5 my Kenyan sister and I who worked together as tutors would get a nice waffle, an omelette  and a massive pile of tater tots and share it in the office while starting our day off right with an episode of The Big Bang Theory. I don’t know how they managed to get those tots so crispy but I have a feeling it wasn’t in the oven.

With that same “sister” I discovered that, awkwardly enough, Hooters had good tater tots. Every time I tell someone this they get all bent out of shape that I was at a Hooters. And yes, I try not to write “Hooters has great tots” too often because I’m clumsy enough that I know I’m going to mistype it one of these days. But seriously, they do. Go try for yourself and then try telling me that place hasn’t got fantastic tots.

And check out the other photos of tater tots across the country. Hooters is not included but The Aviary is and I hope to someday be able to afford that excursion and I know what I’m hoping they’ll still have for me to try when I go.

Crêpes Are For…

Crêpes with Strawberries and Muscat-Yogurt Sauce

“Crêpes with Strawberries and Muscat-Yogurt Sauce” from Food & Wine

Way, way, back at the turn of the century when I still had brightly colored hair and wore a little too much (all) black, I used to follow my mother around the world dutifully slacking off in my school work and listening to music that we simply will not bring up because it really wasn’t worth all those hours and made a horrifying soundtrack to driving through the Dalmatian coast in the fall…

Back in 200o I was temporarily living in a lovely flat in Baku, Azerbaijan, while my mom was doing work there. My dad had returned to his actual full time job of professoring to students he would still be teaching several years later when I started college and a couple of whom I beat to graduation a few years after that. After our time in Azerbaijan, and many caviar breakfasts later, my mom decided to take me to Paris for a week to get as much art and culture into me as possible. While in Paris we did several things right: Fresh pastries like croissants for breakfast, lunch at a cafe or restaurant somewhere in the city in between our tourist bits, and crepes for dinner.

There was this man who stood in this little box on the corner of some street near our hotel. He probably had a stool in there too but the stand was so small it looked like he just stood there for hours. He had a few shelves with basic ingredients and then a large container with his batter and his round pan in front of him. My mom would always order (in French) and she usually got the classic with a little lemon and powdered sugar.

Basic Crepes

“Basic Crepes” from Leite’s Culinaria

I on the other hand noticed the Nutella jar on his shelf. Sometimes I’d mix it up and get Nutella with strawberries but there was no way anything else could compare to a fresh, hot, crepe slathered in Nutella and eaten on the way to to the Eiffel Tower on a November evening.

Chocolate Crepes

Chocolate Crepes from Kwestia Smaku (This picture also happens to be the background on my phone)

The first time I had ever had crepes was a few years earlier when my mom was still having to spend 2 weeks a month in Haiti and I would usually go with her.  Sometimes we would be in a guest house provided by the office or staying in the house of friends who worked there too but occasionally we would end up in a hotel. Now, most of the hotels we stayed at sustained some damage in the last earthquake but they were high-end enough that they have since done some recovering and last time my mom was there they were housing way too many aid workers than is good for any country. Back then, I’d had crepes for brunch or lunch and it was filled with asparagus and a sort of hollandaise-like sauce that I absolutely loved. I have no idea how to recreate that but I’ve just now decided that I really need to be more purposeful in my trying to.

But ever since Haiti I’ve only ever had crepes savory once. It was after some really awkwardly weird production on “Women Beware Women” at a small theater neat U St. at a crepe shop with a lovely menu. I forget everything that was in it but I do remember goat cheese and eggplant because I know that I saw that option on the menu and I know me so I know that I ordered whatever that was. But other than that it’s usually been sweet crepes like these:

Maryam's Chocolate Crepes

“Maryam’s Chocolate Crepes” from Sips and Spoonfuls

Another thing, is that except for every single time I’ve eaten a crepe “out” it’s been for a meal that started at least around noon while at home, I’ve always had it for breakfast. I think that the only explanation is that crepes are good for every meal at any time of day and that they can be sweet or savory which I think is verging on the perfect food… Yeah I think it’s just about perfect. We’re gonna go with perfect.

Donuts? For Breakfast?

Spudnuts

“Spudnuts” from Saveur

When we lived in Ethiopia it wasn’t easy for us to get many of the food products that we could in other countries with a bigger expat presence. We also lived in the middle of Nowhere. But occasionally, when we would go to Addis Ababa my dad would take me to this coffee shop around the corner from the office and get me tea and a donut. These were nothing like the donuts in the US. They were ring like dry cakes that crumbled in your tea and had next to no sugar content. Well I complained to my mom one night in our little kitchen at the back of our shipping container house with some cement rooms added on that I wanted REAL donuts. Being the resourceful and loving parent that she is, we made donuts that night. We made plain glazed, chocolate glazed, and orange glazed (like an orange marmalade glaze rather than icing).

I was so proud of the donuts that I invited my friends and we had REAL donuts that night. We haven’t made donuts since and I’ve always wanted to try making those same recipes again. When I saw this “Spudnut Donut Recipe” from Saveur.com I was reminded of this and think I need to actually put it onto a calendar or menu for something upcoming.

I’ve been told they’re a breakfast food but for some reason it’s just never occurred to me as being a breakfast sort of thing with the way most donuts for sale taste. But I think something homemade could be made into something more breakfast worthy.