Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where in the world is Matt Janke?

Since leaving his namesake restaurant, the affable chef has been working around town, but will soon keep regular hours at Cremant.


Because he really likes this place:

"The people are great, the food is wonderful (the fries are easily the best in town). I had an absolute blast cooking there last year during the remodel," Janke wrote in an email.

He'll be working the front of the house most Tuesdays, and wrote to tout the restaurants' new brunch, which begins Oct. 11. There are also some new menu items, new wines and a new bar format being developed.

For most of us, Cremant is out of the way, in the lovely Madrona neighborhood. I'll make a point of getting in there soon. How about you?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman: Gone, but never forgotten

Has there ever been such a delicious movie star? Even in his later years, Paul Newman star power burned brightly. And, his real legacy can be found on grocery store shelves everywhere, the salad dressing and sauce and organic popcorn that helped bring comfort and joy to kids with cancer, at the camps he helped launch.

Man, the icon could sure play a heel. Brick, Hud, the dad in Empire Falls. The movie I am yearning to watch again is "Once a Great Notion." The scene in which Paul Newman's character's brother dies still haunts me. 

What's your favorite Paul Newman movie?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wish I was in Oxford...

Tonight's presidential debate has stirred some yearning for the wonderful college town, Oxford, Miss., the home of University of Mississippi. (And the Southern Foodways Alliance.)

While living in Memphis, I often drove 90 minutes down south just to eat dinner and wander the square, the movie-set-like setting where William Faulkner used to hang out. One of my favorite places to visit was Taylor Grocery, a legendary catfish palace just outside town. 

Man, I've had some great fish there, some incredible hush puppies, snuck in my cocktails in a "go" cup, as is the custom. 

So, I went and got some catfish tonight, to fry up while I watched the debate. It turned out pretty good, thanks to the Zatairans fish fry mix. Love that stuff!

If I wasn't at home watching this with my kid, I might have headed over to Neumo's, where they were watching the candidates clash. Then, I would definitely try some Pike Street Fish Fry.

Did you watch? Did it give you heartburn?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The search for food that comforts

My darling daughter has pneumonia. Who knows how she got it? She's a healthy kid, rarely been on antibiotics. Bounces right back from the occasional cold. But not this time. She's damn sick.

Naturally, I have been trying to make her feel better with food. What are you craving? I ask. Nothing, she doesn't have an appetite. 

I've also been researching online which foods are most vitamin-rich to help prop up her battered immune system. I am woefully lacking in my knowledge of what's got what in it, beyond the typical Vitamin-C stuff. And I've never been a pill popper, preferring to get my nutrients from food rather than supplements. So, this unfortunate turn of events has opened my eyes to the power of what we eat. 

The fridge is now bursting with fresh fruits and veggies, which seems like a no-brainer, but it's easy to get in a salad/banana-buying rut at the supermarket. I've been exploring all sorts of citrus, getting in on the last of the season's peaches, paying a ridiculous amount of cash for organically grown raspberries. I'm going to cook up a mess of greens. Do you know there's a rainbow of vitamins in a pot of collards? We are gonna kick this pneumonia's ass!

Please feel free to share any home remedies/feel good suggestions. If you don't want to post, you can send directly to me at Leslie dot Dines at gmail dot com.  

UPDATE: The patient is feeling better, requesting mac-and-cheese. Is it just my imagination, or is the sick season starting earlier every year? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grinding, Island-style

Back on da mainland, but still dreaming about some of the amazing meals I had during my week on Maui. 

That pic on top was snapped in the Haleakala National Park, at a cabin where we camped Sunday night. A surreal experience for sure. That antipasti plate included a selection of Salumi Salami -- mmmmm! -- and while we were snackin on it a couple of kids from Seattle walked by. What are the odds? Of course, we shared! 

For that epic meal, I cooked seared ahi, stir-fried veggies over soba noodles with black bean sauce and maipo tofu. Crazy good!

The shot in the middle was the post-hike meal at Da Kitchen, the biggest plate of katsu chicken I've ever seen. Great mac salad, too.

Finally, there's the Kona-coffee-crusted lamb chops I had for my b-day dinner at Lahaina Grill. Maybe, probably, no, almost certainly the best lamb ever, soooo tender and flavorful. Trimmed up perfectly, so no bitefuls of fat. 

There were more highlights: watching my nephew Brandon try ahi poke for the first time, getting totally pampered at Spago -- where my niece Nicha's hubby Sean is a chef -- and kickin' it at my brother's place, grilling steak and watching the sun sink over Lanai. A very fun/filling trip! 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Best birthday ever... in Maui!

Started my big day with macadamia nut pancake and coconut syrup -- a side of Portugese sausage -- at the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina. 

Had some great grinds on the beach at lunch: Korean BBQ we bought at local-kine deli in Wailuku, mac salad, grilled pineapple, Longboard Lager.

After a bottle of champagne on my bro's lanai, watching the sun sink over the island of Lanai, we went to Lahaina Grill and had a spectacular din-din: a trio of lobster, crab, shrimp cakes called "The Cake Walk" (pictured above left) followed by Kona-crusted lamb chops and local asparagus. Insane! 

What an epic day. Gonna be hard to top this, but I'm working on my menu for an overnight hike into the Haleakala Crater. Any thoughts for gourmet trail grub?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thinking of New Orleans

This is the late Austin Leslie, frying up his famous chicken at a Southern Foodways Alliance symposium a few years ago. Man, that was some glorious bird, which the New Orleans icon served with pickles.

I've been thinking about my friends in NOLA all weekend. Heard from one family who didn't evacuate, which is now looking like a gamble that's going to pay off.

Haven't heard mention that the storm disrupted Decadence Weekend, which is traditionally held over Labor Day. Our family unsuspectingly booked a trip to New Orleans one year during the clothing-optional (almost, not quite) festivities and my kid got quite an education. Yes, dear, that man is dressed as Napolean wearing a mini skirt. 

She also got served. Wine, that is. The laws are very Euro in this country's most exotic city. If you're with grown-ups, servers will pour kids a glass of wine. Isn't that civilized? Or, maybe further proof that, as some people say, New Orleans is the devil's playground. 

Yeah, you right.

I've been longing to get back down that way, to eat at my favorite places: John Besh's August, Willie Mae's, Central Grocery, the market in the Quarter that boils up a mean mess of crawfish. I'm going to book that ticket, too. Just as soon as hurricane season is over.