April 13, 2014

Spring at Paper Plane

I recently stopped by for another spring visit at Paper Plane. Had some of the best food yet and the new cocktails were brilliant as expected.The Counterfeit Rifle above-a tasty, seasonal mix of rye, lemon, benedictine, Amaro, and lemon bitters.
La Reina Subterranea- how could you not like a drink that comes in this glass? A serious Mezcal-based cocktail with Falernum, lime, cane syrup and mint.
Country pork pate with pistachio and pickled radish on the side.
Lamb belly special with field peas, asparagus and pickled strawberries. One of the best things I've had from the Paper Plane kitchen.
Hanger steak with cucumber, miso, and kimchi. Not the prettiest plate, but the steak was well-seasoned, tender, and cooked perfectly. Kimchi was strong.

April 4, 2014

Recent Eating & Drinking

Time for a quick unloading of pics and thoughts on recent eats and drinks around town and at home.
Paid a visit to Miso Izakaya recently for the first time since last fall. It was solid. The Unsung Hiro is an inspiring cocktail that I've been desperately trying to knock off at home. That Lapsang souchong-salt mixture on top is key.
The egg never disappoints.
 The Okonomiyaki with squid and bonito. Excellent.
Smoked trout and potato salad with kale and carrots at Cakes & Ale. Have had some very tasty lunch bowls at Cakes recently. 
I traveled a bit to try some bbq for lunch at the new Greater Good Bbq spot on Roswell just inside I-285. Solid bbq and some very tasty brisket (hidden in pic). Greater Good is worth a stop if you're in that area. I'd go back.
Had a buddy over a few weeks ago and we smoked his Korean-marinated pork belly on the big green egg before crisping it up on high heat to finish. Used the belly in an Ed Lee-inspired rice bowl with fried egg, collards, and spicy corn remoulade.

We made some kimchi poutine again, too. This just doesn't sound like it should work, but it does.

Washed it all down with this excellent, but not easy to find champagne from Savart. Great stuff.

March 26, 2014

First Bites at Ration & Dram

I stopped by the long-awaited Ration & Dram over in Kirkwood the other night. R&D has been open for a little more than one week and are still working out some kinks in their space and the kitchen. They were still waiting on a liquor license (any day now) when we visited, so people will have to wait a little longer for the anticipated cocktail program from Andy Minchow. For now, some pics of smaller plates we tried.
Chicken-fried duck livers with house pickles and hot sauce. Decent dish, if a bit too heavy on the rather under-seasoned cornmeal coating. The chewy pickled chard (I think it was chard?) stems are a bit of a stretch to serve as pickles.
I am sorry to say it, but this patty melt was kind of sad. Dry, over cooked, and lacking flavor (salt is a wonderful thing). The brioche toast makes for a strange vehicle for your burger. I don't know, perhaps not the best idea. The menu said "rye," but there was nothing rye about that bread.
Roast beef sandwich with house mayo, mustard and spring lettuce. The slices of roast beef were ice cold, which is a bit of personal nit for me. Too cold is as bad as too hot. The beef lacked flavor (someone find some salt, please!), and was on the dry side. I lost the mayo and mustard in the brioche, which seemed to soak up all the flavor.
 Bacon bread and salted house butter. The bacon bread was fun. We also tried the kale salad (no pic) which was tasty and seasonal.
It has been a bit difficult tracking down a menu online; here's the offerings from our visit earlier this week. While the food was mostly a miss on this visit, it was only a week into their opening, so take that for what it's worth. It is still a great space, with ample outdoor seating, which will undoubtedly be rocking when spring finally arrives. I'm looking forward to my next visit when the cocktails are flowing.

Ration & Dram on Urbanspoon

March 23, 2014

What do You Mean You Don't Make Your Own Butter?

Making butter is easy. I knew this from shaking a carton of heavy cream until it solidified as a science project back in elementary school. Still, I'd never made homemade butter seriously until last weekend. No more buying butter for me, it's too easy to make it yourself.
That's a bowl of good quality heavy cream from Whole Foods. That's a pretty simple start.
After 7 minutes of whipping with a hand mixer it begins to solidify.
After about 15 minutes of total whipping time, the cream will begin to yellow and fully solidify to a putty-like consistent. It then needs to be strained to remove the excess liquid cream (this can be saved and used like a less-potent buttermilk).
After straining, you can begin to mold the solids into a ball, all the while continuing to squeeze out the excess liquid. In the end, you are left with a nice ball of silky, creamy butter. You can add salt to taste, if desired, or leave as is. Wrapped in plastic, the butter will keep in the fridge for two weeks. No more buying butter for me.

March 14, 2014

Recent Eats Around Decatur

Some recent eats at old favorites and new stops around Decatur as spring finally tries to make its way here. The smoked trout salad with dressed farro, pickled beets, and squash at Cakes & Ale was one of the best things I've eaten for lunch in a while. It was a very Sweeney-esque dish that hit all the right notes on a warm March afternoon. I love Cakes & Ale and just don't seem to be able to visit often enough.
I also stopped by the new La Calavera Bakery on East College. The good folks at La Calavera have been popular mainstays at farmer's markets in the area the past two years and recently opened their bricks and mortar shop to the public. The menu isn't huge right now, but it's all mostly made by hand with organic and local ingredients. The bacon and gruyere stuffed croissant above was a tasty mid-afternoon snack. I look forward to frequent visits.
Oysters at Kimball House. Not sure what else needs to be said.
The cocktail program is as strong as ever. The Sleep Walk was a highlight with its Scarlet Ibis Trinidad Rum, Carpano Antica, Chichicapa Mezcal, bitter cherry, and cola bitters. Excellent.

Agnolotti with peanuts and pancetta at No. 246. Eh..I want No. 246 to be better. So often, for me, it's just okay. The same night we also shared an overly salted artichoke pizza that also suffered from a bit too much garlic. I will probably continue to find occasions to visit 246, I just wish I was compelled to do so more often. That's it, for now.