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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dos Amigos

A Mexican restaurant?  Here?  Under 15 minutes from home!?  We couldn't wait to try it and I will cut to the ending for you - we loved it and will return.  As long as they keep their grand opening shine, Dos Amigos will have a fabulous life.




The entrance is not in this photograph and that can be a bit confusing.  The door for customers is to the left in the picture and the only complaint we had was the narrow hallway is not friendly for patrons both entering and exiting at the same time.

Walls were of course colorful painted murals.

  
We were offered a choice of tables and I have to say I was quite happy to be seated in the dining room furthest from the entrance and bar.  This was actually our view when we were leaving.  I could not find the restaurant's phone number online to make a reservation, but since it is so close to home I was able to drive their and back to hold a table for the four of us.  By the time we left, the dining room was quite busy and the bar area was also booming.   

 

"Would you like something to drink?"  Yes, please!  A margarita on the rocks with a salted rim - classic and well made.

For the Mr., a Corona to start and then the bartender came to our table to recommend a Modelo.  I had a sample sip - it was crisp but a bit heavier or fuller bodied than the Corona.  Depends on your taste.  I am not a huge beer fan and a lightweight drinker to boot.  

Chips and salsa were immediately placed on the table.  At this point, we have been greeted or served by 4 different staff members and are happy with the attention and level of interaction.  Just enough to feel like important guests without being smothered.  The salsa has a bit of bite which most prefer.  I am on the whimpy side when it comes to heat and spice, but can appreciate the quality.

 

The guacamole was served in it's own tortilla bowl.  Creamy and ripe avocado, simply prepared and so craved, we not only ate the entire contents and dish, but were brought a second basket of chips.  We didn't even think to be embarrassed.






Main dishes.  We all have a bit of different tastes and that works out perfectly for a first visit to a new restaurant.  One order is two shredded chicken, crispy tacos served of course with rice and beans.  One happy dinner.

For me, Fajitas de Camaron.  Listed on the menu as marinated shrimp grilled with mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes served with guacamole and pico de gallo.  Served in an adorable fashion - look at those cute mini tortilla bowls!  

For the Mr., "Mariscada"  Shrimp, lobster, clams, mushrooms and scallops sauteed in red sauce.  Want to know a secret?  This dish is under $20.  Yes.  Go.  Now.



The one glitch of the night.  This beautiful dish of Vegetarian Enchiladas Rancheras...
was not what was ordered.  However, my son was not aware of the veggie contents until he already cut in and sampled.  The error was likely discovered by the intended receiver because my son ordered this:


California Burrito.  A large tortilla stuffed and topped with sour cream and ranchera sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and onions.  We were given the first dish to take home and the mistake was corrected quite quickly.

Additionally, we were again visited by the bartender and offered a complimentary shot of tequila.  After a Margarita, I can not maintain dignity and imbibe in additional alcohol.  The Mr. did sample it and was quite happy with the entire experience.

Dessert?  Well, I ask if we can have one dessert of the servers choice to share and this is what he brought:


The cutest display of Tres Leches cake for four.

Yes, we were Fed quite Well and had a fabulous evening overall.  The final tally?  Our bill was under $80.  Take my advice and visit Dos "Amigos."  They are also open for lunch and so far, they are open seven days a week.

Dos "Amigos" on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Time Waffles

I've hosted quite a few Mother's Day brunches and though the menu may change a bit from year to year, the tradition is found in the gathering of family, and the meal is almost always followed by outdoor festivities which may include wiffle ball, kickball and this year's badminton and volleyball games.  

I prepared a lovely pink lemonade with a bit of sparkling soda - for those who cared to add champagne I had that chilled and available as well.  Lovely.

For the food - my sister prepared a lovely sausage, egg and cheese casserole.  My adult sons had child-like giggles every time someone mentioned casserole.  They were brought back to this movie scene (warning: a bit of mild adult language) from a few years ago:  Casserole Argument from Stealing Harvard.  To avoid being drawn into the fray, my mother caught on and simply asked for someone to pass her the omelet at the table.  

I prepared a spiral ham and took my first steps into the world of waffles.  My nephew helped as we created an assembly line precision of spraying with non-stick spray, 2 1/2 ladles of batter, timer for 3 minutes, remove and reserve to warm oven.  Fabulous!




I also made baked veggie Stromboli-ish creation which included spinach, tomatoes and topped with mozzarella!


    

The bad news - using the disposable try on top of a standard cookie sheet (which I thought would be helpful for clean up) caused the bottom to not brown and crisp the same way as the top.  Lesson learned.

Waffles were served with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, whipped cream, syrup and each diner's creativity in preparing their personalized dish.

Camera shy waffle











Seemed the meal was a hit (except for the soggy bottomed portion of the spinach Stromboli creation - though many simply pushed the unwanted bit aside on their plate).  Games were played, flowers and plants exchanged, cards were opened, smiles all around.  A fabulous holiday.  Or better to say a fabulous Sunday with family?  

After a few games, time for dessert.  A mini buffet with bite size sweets from our local supermarket's "fakery."  My older son's girlfriend works at the "fakery" and came up with the nickname for the bakery department which mostly bakes off prepared treats and breads (not from scratch).  Eclairs, cheesecake bites and blueberry rugula on one platter.


Half pies are a wonderful fakery invention.  I invest in a blueberry and an apple for the occasion.


Also on hand were the leftover berries and whipped cream.  Perfect.

I have some personal photos and video of the day.  It truly was memorable, relaxing, a time for bonding and eating.  Hope you had a Fed Well Mother's Day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eat Your Left Overs!

If I have enough left over anything that I plan on recreating or repurposing, I have learned it must be done immediately.  Otherwise it will either turn into a mystery substance in the refrigerator or it will be claimed by one person as a quick snack.

I prefer to use little bits of left-overs into one meal and so many items end up in stews or soups for winter, but during the warmer months that somehow seems inappropriate.

Cinco de Mayo fish tacos are turned into a pasta dish.  What?  Yes.

After all, what doesn't go with pasta?

Sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes, shrimp, cod are all mixed with thin spaghetti.  The fish is gently heated, but all other ingredients are tossed in with the hot pasta.  My serving uses just a spoonful of marinara with the fish juices.  The Mr. uses a heavier dose of marinara.  The salt, the carbs, perfection.


I truly despise wasting food so to be able to use up left-overs from one meal and turn them into something else (that is finished) is quite satisfying.  

It also turned into a bit of a date night at home for the Mr. and I.  We are in an in-between land of full house or empty nest nights.  Content and Fed Well.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Taco de Pescado

The 5th of May...a holiday?  Cinco de Mayo you say?  It taunts us from the calendar and sneaks into every available crack and crevice.  Advertising.  Story lines.  Even the cafeteria at work has a Spanish themed lunch special.  Sometimes, I just give in and go with it.

Fish tacos for dinner.

I have no particular culinary path in mind when I begin the journey at the seafood counter.

"I'd like to make fish tacos," I explain.  "Which kind of fish would you recommend?"

"Cod."

Well, not very exciting but when I look in the display case I realize I do not have many choices.  Tilapia?  Too thin.  Salmon is an obvious no for this family regardless of ability to switch things up or season them.  I am not a huge fan of salmon.  Various shell fish.  No.  Although, I know we all agree on grilled shrimp.  Some can have cod, others shrimp or one of each - mix and match.

I season the cod with cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic and a splash of olive oil before it is wrapped in foil and placed on the grill.


A similar treatment for the shrimp plus some Adobo.  Cinco de Mayo, remember?


Diced lettuce and tomato for freshness and crunch.

Also on the table were large soft shells to wrap the ingredients in.  I chose to instead mix everything together as a make-shift salad.  In honor of the holiday I know nothing about, the Mr. and I also split a Corona.  Yes, we split it.  Not a big drinking house.

But, we are also not Mexican and yet, we are indulging with a wink and a nod to a holiday we do not celebrate.

It doesn't matter.  All in the spirit of sharing a good meal with family (or friends) and so it is simply about being Fed Well.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuthillhouse at the Mill in Gardiner, NY

Friday night.  The end of a busy work week.  The Mr. and I both get up at 5 a.m. during the week and sleeping in now means 6 or 7.  Friday nights, we are tired.  I have lost my focus and drive and lately, horror of horrors, I am less enthusiastic about cooking even the simplest of meals on a Friday night.  By default, we decide to go out on a dinner date.

The Mr. has one condition, "It has to be someplace we have not been before."

Tough negotiations.  I am excited by the prospect of finding something that is not hours away, will not be crowded with lines of waiting families out the door and promises "real" food.

Indeed.

I had bought a gift certificate for my sister and her husband a few Christmas' ago for the Tutillhouse at the Mill but have not eaten there myself and though I never heard their review, it was a nice warm night and I remembered they had outside seating areas as well as a dining room.  

Next step, peek at the online menu.  Click here for Tutillhouse Menu.  I debate about calling for a reservation and decide instead to take the chance and not feel rushed or obligated to a certain time.  After a long week, we are not in a hurry to rush back into the car.

We arrive respectfully ahead of the dinner rush and find plenty of room to park.



Cute.  Quaint.  Charming.  Well maintained.  


A welcoming entrance.



A bit of history.

The foyer.

Immediately inside the foyer is the bar with a smiling hostess who asks if he would like to sit inside or out.  I confirm outside with the Mr. and we are walked through the dining room to a side porch or veranda if you like.

My seated view looking into the dining room.

I thought ahead to bring a long sleeve suit jacket and sitting in the shade by the rushing water, I needed it.  The roar of the water as it rushed under us, over worn smooth rocks and back onto itself before whooshing off to join the Wallkill River was a refreshing change to the din of crowded big box chain restaurants.

Simple Side "Center" Piece


A Favorite Cocktail to Start

As readers know, I love a Cosmopolitan.  I have taste tested them almost everywhere.  While the color was slightly pale, the taste smooth and welcome.  A pleasant beginning.  I can feel my shoulders drop away from my ears.  My breathing slows and I feel the weekend seeping in.


Warm bread.  Crusty outside, soft and tender center brought with flavored olive oil or bread.  Or.

I try the oil and swear I detect parmesan (not one of my personal favorites) and maybe I'm wrong.  Honestly, it is a treat to be given the choice of oil or butter.

Lobster Bisque
The color of the soup may not be what I had envisioned, but what difference does it make if it tastes wonderful?  Real chunks of lobster are in the center of the bowl and I happily begin my official tasting of the Tuthillhouse.
French Onion Soup
Yes, the Mr.'s favorite soup.  He is an expert on French Onion soup in the way I am with a Cosmopolitan.  His second place choice is a classic chicken noodle with Manhattan Clam Chowder as third.  He is also fairly seasonal in that if it is really warm out he will likely only have a salad.  

Between courses, I have time to take a few pictures of the surrounding beauty.  No narration necessary.  The water was rushing directly underneath us...









I also wanted to share what the dining area looked like...



Our entrees arrive!


How beautiful. How packed with seafood and dense with pasta.  Shrimp, clams, mussels, a portion of salmon.  A moment of silence.  Normally, I would be the one to order this dish but having had an advance glimpse of the menu, I knew I wanted something else entirely.

When we ordered I asked our kind server if I had missed the "fried egg on a burger" listing since I saw it online.  She smiled and explained the "Grist Burger" was a lunch special but she asked in the kitchen and it was fine for me to order as dinner.  I was a happy customer just for the effort.



I cannot tell you how happy that pool of yolk made me.  The egg was absolutely perfect.  I like a nice runny yolk, but the white must be cooked.  This was egg-ceptional (sorry, couldn't stop myself)!

Here is what the dish looked like before I played with it!



Between the egg and the burger was a layer of red onion and ricotta cheese.  The fries were perfectly crisp and salted.  Even the pickle was worth mentioning - snappy and dilly!

Sometimes it is as if I have a hollow leg and I really can clear my plate.  Tonight was not one of those times.  I brought home half of my soup and my fries.  I ate the burger without the bun just so I could finish it and that beautiful egg.  

We opt to not have dessert and I receive a text message from my sister that I can still stop by my nephew's Little League baseball game.  After we settle the bill, we take a little stroll on to another outdoor dining area and look back at where we were sitting:


Even during a state of repair, the Tuthillhouse at the Mill was charming, accommodating, tasty and worth a visit.  We were Fed Well and enjoyed the segue from work week to weekend.

TuthillHouse at the Mill on Urbanspoon