October 31, 2014

Day of the Dead Drinking with Casa Noble

 I was invited to try Casa Noble tequila and create a cocktail celebrating the Dias de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead. A festival with ancient Mexican roots that blends Catholic rituals with pre-Hispanic beliefs about the after world. In case you weren't aware, the festival is celebrated Nov-1-2 each year, right after Halloween.
I took a shot at making a cocktail using the very smooth and tasty reposado from Casa Noble. I tried a few things and came up with the following unnamed cocktail:

2 oz Casa Noble tequila reposado
1 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. Agave nectar
.5 oz Aperol
A slice of hot chili
A pinch of Lapsang Souchong infused salt

Added the ingredients to a shaker and poured over ice. The pinch of tea-infused salt is best on top of the ice in the glass. It was a fun drink, a little hit of spice, and a nice smokiness from the tea. I stole the idea for the tea-salt from (what I think) they use on the Unsung Hiro at Miso Izakaya. Anyway, it was a fun drink.


October 28, 2014

Eating Around, October Version

Just some recent highlights of eats around town...I've been visiting One Eared Stag with more frequency the past six months. It never disappoints. Above is the hot chicken nuggets and pickles on white bread. An ode to Nashville hot chicken and good spice here.
More fried chicken...this time Makan's Korean Fried Chicken, available only on Wednesday night. This is a nice rendition of Korean fried chicken, crispy, spicy and guaranteed to get you messy.
What? You want more pictures of chicken? The tasty chicken wings from a dude-date for lunch at Nam Phuong.
Also from Nam Phuong, the best shaking beef. Wow, good stuff.
Back at Kimball House a crispy duck leg hit the spot.
As did the sunchoke risotto with wood sorrel and truffle jus. Love Kimball House, but who doesn't?

October 21, 2014

Ramen Festival at Makan

Makan held its first ramen festival Monday night with all proceeds benefiting The Giving Kitchen. Eight restaurants signed on to serve up their best take on ramen. There was some tasty Ramen bowls of ramen up for grabs and all of it featuring noodles from the legendary Sun Noodles. There was some good beer, too, from Three Taverns.
One of my top 3 bowls from the night, The Lawrence's ramen with lamb stock, lamb belly, and chili paste. Hit the right spots with am unctuous, salty-spiciness that was rich and satisfying.
Another top ramen, this one from the host, Makan. Pork stock with duck, soft-boiled egg and konbu. Good stuff. Traditional tonkotsu done right.
The most unique ramen of the night, the all-vegan soup from Chai Pani. I wish I could remember all that was in it, but there was tamarind and coconut and a good bit of spice.
Best looking eggs goes to St. Cecilia's homey and comforting Italiano-ramen with guanciale and a (un!)healthy dose of rendered guanciale fat in the broth. The broth tasted a bit like a thin Italian pork gravy, which was not exactly what I was looking for, but it was tasty, and was voted the ramen of the night by the crowd.So there.
Another interesting bowl: a dan-dan noodle-type ramen with corn, butter and parmesan from Mibo. A bit of a mash-up that was sweet, buttery, and backed by a good bit of spice that tasted like szechuan peppercorn. Good stuff. All-in-all a fun way to spend a Monday night and all for a good cause. Now I need to go run a few miles to work off all the ramen.

October 10, 2014

Lunch at Lusca

I made a return visit to Lusca over in Buckhead for a dude's lunch last week. I've really enjoyed the food at Lusca both times I've visited. Honestly, if it were closer, and not quite so $$$, I'd make it a regular stop. The crab toast above has been a mainstay on Lusca's menu for some time. And for good reason. It's pretty to look at and is right tasty.
 Farm egg with Uni. Still a winner.
The burger. I'd put this near the top of very good burgers I've had recently. Thick patty, cooked to a perfect med-rare with a rich, juicy interior. Could do without the sloppy pile of grilled onions, but all-in-all, along with tasty, thin-cut crispy fries, this was a winner for me.
I had met the A+ sommelier at Lusca, Tim Williard, at a friend's b-day party and we reconnected at lunch. Tim was nice to send over a sample of this low-alcohol, bone-dry Lambrusco which was a great little lunch wine. Thanks, Tim! If you are into wine, go check out Tim's list of eclectic and geeky wines.

October 5, 2014

HomeCooking: Fried Chicken & Pastrami

Some recent home cooking exploits. I had friends over to watch some football and figured I'd fry some chicken. My go-to for fried chicken has been Thomas Keller's recipe from his Ad Hoc restaurant/book. The kicker here is the brine. The chicken sits in a salty/lemon-herbal brine overnight before a buttermilk bath and fry, which creates a fried chicken that is super juicy, salty and full of flavor. A winner every time.
I've been a fan for a while now of drinking sparkling wine with fried food. With the fried chicken we popped this Petillant-Naturel from one of my favorite natural winemakers from France, Thierry Puzelat. Pet-Nats have gained in popular in recent years; they resemble Champagne, but with natural carbonation that is less assertive. There is a touch of residual sugar that actually matches up nicely with the fired chicken.

I also got the itch to make homemade pastrami this weekend. Pastrami seems to be back on the radar for folks around ATL in the past year with the success of The General Muir. I mean, look at that General Muir goodness above. 
Trying to replicate that deliciousness, I followed the recipe in Michael Ruhlman's book, Charcuterie, a book that's been my primary reference for curing, smoking, and all things meat the past few years. The pastrami process begins with a 48 hour brine with spice mixture including coriander, allspice, bay leaves, and mustard seed.
After 48 hours in the brine, the brisket is rubbed with a mixture of toasted and cracked coriander seeds and black peppercorns.
Next is the smoking stage. I smoked my brisket on the Big Green Egg at 200 degrees for two hours before finishing in the oven  at 250 degrees for two additional hours.
The finished product. Looks more like traditional smoked brisket than it does pastrami. That being said, it was tasty as hell and was very pastrami-like in taste. I think I need to tweak the amount of curing salt I used, and perhaps cut differently next time to get more of the traditional pastrami look and texture. I was pretty happy with this first effort; this stuff was great on rye bread with a slather of mustard and pickled onions.