Thursday, July 30, 2009


Over the weekend, I went to see She & Him at UNC Memorial Hall. They were the last act to perform as part of the "Merge XX" fest, and they were good. The people who went on before them (American Music Club) were not my cup of tea, but all-in-all, a good show.

Before we went to the show, we got dinner over in Carrboro at Milltown (sorry, no website). It's apparently owned by the same people who own Federal in Durham. I've never been to Federal, so I can't really comment on that, but I thought Milltown was pretty good.
They have an extensive beer list (an inch thick tome, and probably rivaling Tyler's), and both the beer and food lean towards Belgian. I had a Dogfish Head 60min IPA, an Ommegang Rare Vos, and then a Stone Pale Ale (yes, I had 3 beers, so sue me). Oh, and I also had a pretty good grilled cheese w/tomato and avocado, and the fries looked pretty good.

I looked on chowhound, and their take was something like "good beer, good bar food, probably not going to win any awards, but who cares?", and I agree with that. It's a good place to get a good meal (and a good beer with it), but it's not a Lantern or Elaine's, and it's not trying to be. I definitely recommend it.

Wednesday @Daniel's

We went to Daniel's Pizza Pasta in Apex last night for dinner, and it was pretty good.
If you're looking for your typical "red sauce" Italian place, Daniel's fits the bill.

It's a little pricey (which is probably my main bone of contention with them), and I have a love/hate relationship with this place, in the sense that I think their wine list is terrific, with a vast selection (and obviously, the Wine Spectator thinks so, too, since they're listed every year with them), but I think the food there is nothing special. A lot of people, including my family, disagree, but what do they know?

However, the real reason we went (or why I went along with it) was that on Wednesday's, they have 20% off all bottles of wine. So, while the food wasn't "wow", the 2006 Catena Malbec we had with dinner was pretty good, and @20% off, I feel like we're shaving at least some of the "restaurant markup" off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frugal Feasts entry...

I entered the N&O's frugal feasts contest, and here's the recipe I sent (No pics for this entry (I really need to get back into the picture taking swing of things...)):

Grilled Chicken Tacos
1 - 1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs (bone-in or boneless) chili powder flour tortillas
1 bunch cilantro
salsa (store-bought or homemade) or tomatoes
1 can black beans
1-2 limes

Rub chicken thighs all over with chili powder and set aside.
Wash the cilantro by filling a large bowl with water, and swishing the cilantro in the water. Dump the water and repeat until no sand is in the bottom of the bowl.
Chop the cilantro and put in a serving bowl.
If using, chop the tomatoes and put in a serving bowl.
Heat black beans and put in a serving bowl.
Grill the chicken over med-med high heat until done. Allow to rest 5 minutes.
If using bone-in thighs, remove chicken from bone and chop. If using boneless, just chop up.
Put the chicken in a serving bowl.
Wrap the tortillas in a paper towel, and microwave 15 seconds to heat.

Serve chicken with tortillas, and use cilantro, salsa/tomatoes, black beans, and lime juice as garnish (plus whatever other garnishes you desire (an avocado, mashed with some lime juice, salt and pepper plus some cilantro makes a good quick guac).

A good side dish would be a simple rice, like:
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken stock/broth
1 can rotel tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, and then cover, turn down to low, and allow to simmer 20-25 minutes.

For a simple salsa, something like:
1-2lbs tomatoes, chopped (you could also seed them, but I don't) chopped cilantro (to taste)
1/2 small onion(chopped)
1-2 serrano peppers, seeded, with membrane removed, and chopped.
juice of 1 lime
salt + pepper to taste.

Man, I'm already hungry!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tastes like french fries...

That's not usually something you want to hear from someone eating your food, but when my 6 year old (Bridget) commented on the roast potatoes I made with dinner tonight, I knew it had to be my title.

Cooking in summer is sort of like cheating. There's not a lot of work involved in making a good meal. It's basically "grill , cook in a way that doesn't obscure its freshness, and add a starch". Bang, you're done.

Tonight, following that formula, I came up with:

  • grilled 5-spice chicken legs with a honey-soy glaze

  • sauteed bok choy

  • roasted potatoes

The chicken legs were a piece of cake. I took some organic chicken legs, trimmed off what little excess fat there was, and rubbed them all over with 5-spice powder and salt, and left them to sit for a bit.
Once I'd gotten everything else prepped, I just lit up the grill, and grilled the legs until they were done and the skin was nice and crispy (first searing at high heat to get the skin crispy and then cooking at a lower heat to finsh the meat). Then I brushed them with a simple honey/soy glaze (1 part honey:1part soy sauce + hot pepper flakes for flavor) on one side, let that cook for a minute, and then did the same to the other side.

For the potatoes, I chopped up 6-7 red potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then put the potatoes in a 450deg oven. I followed the Cook's Illustrated scheme of "covered pan - 20min, shake, 10min, and uncover and roast for another 10min". It's pretty foolproof, and elicited the "french fries" comment. In this case, it's high praise.

For the bok choy, I broke up the bok choy into leaves, and sauteed in a wok with a little olive oil, and equal parts soy sauce and white vinegar (1 tsp, maybe 1 1/2 tsp each). I cooked it until the greens were wilted but the stalks were still crunchy