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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Return to White Wolf

The last of the holiday restaurant gift certificates have now been used.  These are among my favorite gifts to receive; they stretch out the holiday season, as well as allow me to eat out on cold winter nights when I am feeling a bit lazy about cooking or blue about the weather.

We set out on a particularly blustery evening and I can feel the little bit of skin I have exposed on my face, almost sting, as I walk the short distance from the car to the dining room.  I am then greeted with a rush or warmth as we select our table.  Ah, I feel better already.

To begin...any guesses?

I typically do not express a vodka preference when I order a Cosmopolitan.  However, I am going to in the future if asked.  I think I have tasted enough to know the difference between a future headache and a pleasant cocktail.

We peruse the menu for a few minutes, but we are fairly easy and predictably pleased on this frigid weeknight.  I knew well in advance that I simply wanted a burger and fries.

This particular version was smothered in grilled onions and mushrooms, served with a nice pile of crispy fries.  My craving for meat and potatoes, albeit fast food version, was satisfied.

Open Steak Sandwich

Topped with mushrooms and onions, our younger son had a steak sandwich and fries.  Standard fare, traditionally prepared and served.

Chicken for the Mr.

Seeing pasta like this just makes me a little sad.  I don't know why I always want to see the pasta completely coated in the sauce when served, but I truly do.  The Mr. was satisfied with the portion size and the chicken itself.

The owner walks among the people in his dining room and I do love that personal touch.  Across the room I see a young boy in a New York Knicks jersey.  #17.  Do you know who wears that number? Cleanthony Early - who is a Pine Bush High School graduate.  Always exciting to see local folks succeed.

We head back out into the frozen air.  We are a Fed Well family and stop off at the local grocery store before the next snow storm arrives.  We need bread and milk like everyone else.

The White Wolf on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How often do regulars go to Mountain View?

How often do folks visit a place whether it is a bar, restaurant, or other business, before they turn into regulars?  Depending on your age, you may think of regulars as someone like Norm from Cheers who sat on his corner bar stool every night.  

I remember the owner of the local country gift shop used to have coffee mugs for her regulars lined up on a shelf behind the register. Made it seem so warm and welcoming, even for us non-regulars, when visiting. For them, it is the being a part of something.  For me, it is about a loyalty.  I have chosen to come here repeatedly to spend my hard earned money on what you provide - from atmosphere and service to good food and drink.  Must be why loyalty club cards are so popular. 

Anyway, I am always quite comfortable at Mountain View, it is really nearby and as I've said before, they make the PERFECT COSMOPOLITAN.  I use it as a benchmark for all others.  

So, when recently asked by a friend if we could meet for lunch, and she gave me the choice between 2 places, I quickly chose Mountain View.  

Here's what we had:
The Reuben with Sweet Potato Fries

When watching one's weight or calories or trying to eat healthier or whatever, nothing soothes the soul more than a meal that is just not "diet food."  This looked and smelled absolutely amazing and my friend was happy.

Cobb Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing on the side

I wanted to order something equally bad, but I had gone from yoga class to Dunkin Donuts as it was so I went with the Cobb Salad - it's kind of bad, it has bacon.  

Cobb salad always reminds me of the movie, "Julie & Julia."  The scene begins with Julie Powell telling her husband, "Cobb salad lunch tomorrow. Ugh."  She then meets 3 friends the next day for lunch and each orders their Cobb salad with different requests for removing 1 ingredient.  For example, "Cobb salad no egg," or "Cobb salad no bacon."  Um, maybe order something else? Loved the movie.

So, I was counting myself as a regular based on frequency of visits.  Learning number of times at an establishment may not be all that defines a regular.  My friend knew 3 of the employees and several of the customers - enough for casual conversation.  I knew 1 of the employees relatively well, 1 by face recognition and used to know 1 customer through another friend.  Hmmm.  Seems I'm a "Sort of Regular" or some outer circle or something.  Doesn't matter.  The food was great and since it was lunch I had the unsweetened iced tea.  

My conclusions:  go have lunch with a friend at a nearby place and order the fries. You'll feel Fed Well.

Mountain View Bar Restaurant and Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 9, 2015

Avocado's Mexican-American Restaurant in Cornwall

Our older son is engaged, planning his wedding with his fiancee and at the same time looking for their own home.  Over this past weekend, we were invited to go along with them to an Open House and then meet her Mom and aunt at their proposed wedding venue site.  Very grown up.  Very special.  Very busy.

Typically when I am involved in any kind of field trip I am also planning around meal times, potential restaurant visits and food in general.  I'm not sure how this happened to me.  I only know that I enjoy celebrating with a nice meal and so when we concluded our business at the wedding venue site, I asked about the restaurant across the street and my older son remembered a nearby Mexican-American place, Avocado Restaurant.  Off we went.

Unassuming, not pretentious at all, bright and vibrant.  The photo does not fully display the avocado green paint of the building, but you would certainly appreciate it in person.

We are seated immediately and I simply love the festive colors and decor.  The peacock of restaurants.

The menu seemed endless and reminded me of the variety of dishes you can select from at a diner.  I have never been presented with so many choices at a Mexican restaurant.  If I didn't quickly eliminate dishes from my list of potential orders, I might still be sitting by the fireplace, not ready to order.

Our lovely server asks if we would like a drink and of course a Margarita is in order to maintain the celebratory feel and when ordering Mexican food, it just feels right.  Here is where the lunch really went from great to fabulous, she asked for my ID.  I thought she was joking and smiled, "Are you serious?"  She smiled and nodded.  I was glowing.  When I handed it to her, she took it and checked the date before saying, "Oh.Wow."  What she must not have realized is the two young men at the table who are over the legal drinking age are my sons.  I was flattered and if it were a ploy to increase her gratuity, I fell for it, but it felt quite sincere.

By the way, the Margarita was perfect.  I love a substantial amount of salt on the rim and prefer mine on the rocks rather than frozen.  Yum.

We began with an order of guacamole which was prepared table side and went through a number of baskets of nachos as well as 2 bowls of salsa.

For lunch we had:

Our future daughter-in-law tried a sampler appetizer platter as her entree.  Among the components were award winning avocado fries.  

The Mr. went out of his comfort zone again and ordered the Milanesa de Res.  A tender fried steak with salad and fries - familiar with a Mexican flair.

For me, Enchilladas del Mer.  
Listed on the menu as:
Corn tortillas filled with shrimp, fish and lobster meat, topped with a mild green tomatillo sauce, melted cheese and sour cream.  Served with rice and beans.

The filling was delicious and the portion size generous enough that I took home one tortilla with enough rice and beans to be an excellent lunch.

For my younger son:
Described as:
A seafood casserole of fish, clams, mussels, and shrimp in a creamy tomato chipolte sauce served mild or spicy with a side of rice.

Either he missed asking about the mild option or no one asked, but his order was spicy.  He was able to eat it with an additional order of rice to take the edge off and once our server realized his order was too spicy, she removed one of his orders of beer from the bill.  A lovely gesture, no fault placed, no harm, no foul.  He enjoyed it despite the unexpected heat.

For my older son:
Carne Asada

Nothing more traditional than a perfectly prepared steak served with onions, rice, beans and more guacamole.  He is a happy member of the Clean Plate Club.

The meal was a grand success and yes, I was quite flattered to be asked for proper identification.  I look forward to my son's wedding and his launch into the world with his wife by his side.  My hope for them is that they continue to enjoy each other's company  for a lifetime, sharing meals and always feel Fed Well together.

Avocado Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DeStefano's Olde Eerie in Middletown, NY

Once again, I asked the Mr. on a Friday night where he wanted to go for dinner. This time he answered, "I want to go to the restaurant we were going to go to a few weeks ago that had the long wait time because of the show at the Paramount."

In marriage speak, he said he wanted to go to DeStefano's Olde Eerie.

This is simply another example of how people who are married for a long time can finish each other's sentences, stories, and sometimes, even their thoughts.

Our younger son was able to join us and off we went, no reservation and hoping the Paramount wasn't hosting another show.

We were seated immediately and the bar area was crowded.  Our server was friendly and helpful.  I asked if their were any drink specials (since the bar was packed, I thought they must have a cocktail selection) and was brought a cocktail menu.  I decided on the Lemontini.  Sometimes I wait until I know what I am eating and other times I simply stick with my favorite Cosmopolitan.

Next we had a discussion about appetizers.  Our younger son had recently asked if I could make fried ravioli at home and since they were on the menu I thought this would satisfy his craving and so we ordered them to share.

Turned out to be a brilliant idea all the way around.  The sauce was simply amazing and everything I know the Mr. craves in an authentic marinara.  He's right, it is absolutely impossible to find this in a jar though we keep trying.  The ravioli were crispy and finished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs that made the dish feel special.

Main Courses:
Pork Chops

Our younger son ordered these smothered pork chops and I feel bad you cannot really appreciate the thickness of these chops.   They had to have been cut at 2".  Ridiculous.  A huge, generous portion, and he had soup, salad and a side of pasta with this meal.  They should offer rewards to patrons who can eat all the food they are served.

Fried Calamari with Linguine

I was thinking about the calamari as an appetizer, but I am the only one that truly enjoys it out of the 3 of us soooo, why not have it as my main course? IT WAS HUGE. I think I may have had about 25% of the rings and a few twirls of pasta.  A friend recently asked why I am not 700 pounds and what I did not share is I often take food home.  I am fine with left-overs and will eat them just the way they are or sometimes transform them into a completely different dish/meal.

Chicken Marsala

Yes, this is what the Mr. was craving.  Another tremendous size plate (platter) of food that easily could have fed the three of us.  It was also served with a side of pasta smothered in marinara.  The chicken was tender and juicy in a semi-sweet Marsala sauce. Happy Mr.

When we were asked if we wanted our food wrapped, I laughed and said, "Yes, all of it.  The bread, everything!"  

We were given 3 large bags crammed with Styrofoam containers brimming with food.  If you are hungry, make sure you go to DeStefano's Old Eerie.  We were surely Fed Well and stuffed!  No room for dessert and no one even ordered it to go.

DeStefano's Olde Erie on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 2, 2015

Outback in Middletown

Sometimes a mid-week adventure after work is a welcome break from the gray routine of winter.  My friend asked what I was doing and I thought, you know what, nothing that can't be changed.  She needed to look at new lights for her foyer and I was happy to be out and about.

"Where do you want to eat?"

Neither of us were fully committed to anything in particular and so we went with a nearby Outback Steakhouse.  Advertising slogans really do stick in your head though, don't they?  All I could think of was, "No rules. Just right."  Is still their slogan?  Who knows...

We begin with cocktails.  For me, the Skinny Margarita.  As long as the rim is salted and the margarita is over ice, I am happy.  For my friend, a Huckleberry Hooch in a mason jar.  Pretty.

What shall we have? They have specials and a regular menu.  Some choices are exactly the same as I remember from years back when my younger son worked here, others are new additions I assume to try to stay with the changing times and economy.  

Outback now offers their version of the Prix Fixe meal which includes a soup or salad, select entrees and a dessert.  Let's try it out.

I begin with my favorite soup, the New England Clam Chowder.  I know I like it here and am not disappointed.

My friend begins with an Asian Sesame Salad.  We are content.

Moving on to entrees, I have the 6 oz. sirloin with garlic mashed potatoes.  Though I did take a photo, the plate looks rather plain and quite uninteresting.  It tasted find, just a little boring.

For my friend, The Firecracker Salmon

 She was happy with the flavors and enjoyed the mango.

We can have dessert and though I don't finish mine, it is always satisfying to end the meal with a sweet treat so I opt for the carrot cake.

Outback does a fine job preparing flavorful and family favorite meals that are also friendly on the finances.

We chat about nothing and everything.  I notice the table next to ours seems to include a business meeting for 3 men.  I am noticing this more and more in restaurants.  Perhaps business has always been discussed over meals, but I thought we were moving away from these personal interactions and keeping things a bit more electronic in the modern world.  No rules, just right.

I am Fed Well and we head back out into the frigid air for home.  Lucky to have a friend to just chat with over a simple meal close to home.

Outback Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Brunch Featuring Toast Topped with Avocado and Crabmeat

Brunch.  A leisurely meal that lands between the hours of breakfast and lunch, is spent at a slower pace, lingering and relaxed.  That's my definition.  Yours may be different.  

On a recent weekend, I spent brunch with 2 (it was supposed to be 3) of my long time lady friends at one of their homes.  We've known each other since childhood and while some are closer than others, and we may drift without speaking for bursts of time, we are like moons that end up gravitating back together.  

For brunch, I wondered what to make for about 5 minutes. Pinterest is almost always the answer to food questions.  I simply clicked on the link for "Food" and the recipe I used as one of the top Pins on the page.

Though the photo suggested using toast rounds I first sliced the bread which happened to be baked in a round loaf (bread choice is up to you) then I cut the slices into triangles.  This allowed roughly 3 pieces per slice which can be toasted in a traditional toaster or broiled in the oven with a light coating of olive oil.  I chose the broiler with olive oil.  In a bowl I mashed 3 avocados with a generous pinch of salt and a skimpy pinch of garlic powder.  In a separate dish I tossed about 12 ounces of lump crab meat with the juice of 1/2 lime and perhaps a tablespoon or two of fresh mint sliced into small ribbons (chiffonade).  The avocado mix is then spread on the toast rounds and topped with the crab. Another option is to top with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper - I simply sprinkled some salt and black pepper.  Delish.

One of my girlfriends made finger sandwiches.  How cute! Half were ham with a Hawaiian spread that had a little bit of a kick and the other half were cucumber with dill.  So lady like.

The host girlfriend prepared a frittata in a cast iron pan with crispy bacon, ricotta and spinach.  It was so fluffy and creamy while maintaining the crunch of the bacon.  Yes, of course we had Mimosas!

A second gratuitous look at the frittata:

And this is what the table look like:

Yes, we chatted about the past and the present, our families, dogs, and well, food, the proper use of cameras and flash, Facebook and our upcoming high school reunion.  Good thing we had those Mimosas!

And what did our host prepare? Yes, a special dessert in footed green glass.  Berries topped with a scoop of vanilla pudding as well as a dollop of whipped cream.  This is no ordinary brunch.  These are no ordinary lady friends!

We were Fed Well and hugs were shared all around.  I look forward to the next brunch.  Wonder what I will make...