Nothing like a little food pr0n to perk you up for lunch today:
Roasted beets with walnuts and horseradish at Dolce Vita. Summery, crisp, sweet and nutty but with a sharp bite from the horseradish: the perfect start to a meal (in addition to their amazing truffled egg toast, of course, which smells like rotting gym socks and tastes of heaven).
Boiled peanuts with cucumbers at Classic Kitchen in Chinatown. The breakfasts here are amazing, but you can expect to wait a while for your food (especially if you don’t speak Mandarin). Snack on these little gems while you wait and you won’t mind.
An enormous cup of coffee and a flaky, buttery pain aux raisins at Costa Coffee in Alderley Edge, England. I normally don’t go for pain aux raisins as it can be quite dry, but this was the richest breakfast pastry I’ve ever had. The strong but silky coffee was equally wonderful. A copy of the Manchester Evening News in one hand and this coffee in the other each morning: I might have never left if I didn’t have a job and home to return to across the sea.
Panko-crusted pork medallions with blue cheese at Baybrook’s in Benijofar, Spain. There’s nothing like a good piece of juicy Spanish pork on a warm night surrounded by family, wine and happy conversation.
Wild mushroom risotto inside phyllo dough, with roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes (and, yes, more boiled potatoes on the side) at The Red Lion in Holmes Chapel, England. This was the starchiest meal I can ever recall having in a restaurant. But it was freezing cold outside, we had a lot of walking behind and ahead of us, and I was drawn to this dish like a pig to a trough. Jesus, did it ever hit the spot.
Patatas a la bravas and crispy fried shrimp (among other tapas items) eaten at what seemed like the top of the world at a tiny Valencian restaurant in Guadalest, Spain. This was the view out the window by our table: not too shabby, huh? The patatas a la bravas were easily some of the best steak fries I’ve ever eaten, served with a spicy tomato sauce that I’d like to take with me everywhere in a little flask. The fried shrimp were fresh and as light as air without a hint of grease. Buen Provecho, indeed.
Chicken fried steak with fried eggs, skillet potatoes and refried beans at G&M Steakhouse in San Antonio: every Texan’s dream breakfast. This old-school restaurant located directly across the street from the Alamo is home to the best breakfasts in San Antonio. And despite the fact that it’s smack-dab in the middle of tourist central, this is almost exclusively a locals-only joint.
Pasta Corleone at Raia’s Italian Market on Washington Avenue. Although it’s a relatively new restaurant, their pastas don’t disappoint. This is my favorite of their dishes. From my original review of Raia’s last year: “This dish was a simple combination of angelhair pasta, eggplant, black olives, capers and ricotta cheese in a marinara sauce. The soft, creamy ricotta blended together expertly with the hot marinara, producing something similar to a vodka sauce. The velvety sauce along with the slightly sour bite of olives and capers along with the savory chunks of eggplant meant that we all but inhaled this dish.”
Bigos and kielbasa with potatoes at Polonia. Of all the wonderful Eastern European dishes on the menu at this hidden gem in Spring Branch, this is my favorite. At once hearty yet refreshing, the tangy bigos is an ideal lunch that won’t weigh you down but will stick with you the rest of the day.
One of my favorite breakfasts in town: catfish and grits at BB’s Cajun Cafe. The cheese grits here are as good as I make at home and the lightly battered catfish is perfectly cooked. The biscuits, too, are dreamy: buttery and flaky, just like my mother makes. This dish is called The Southern Man, but their Morning Majic po-boy with scrambled eggs, sausage and spicy queso makes a damn fine breakfast, too.
Fresh Gulf oysters at Casey’s in Galveston last week. It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture, but they were absolutely enormous — much larger than normal — and had almost none of the saltiness you expect from Gulf oysters. They simply tasted rich and buttery with only a hint of the ocean underneath.
Amberjack (a.k.a. yellowtail) with leche de tigre, gelled tomato, rhubarb and red-veined sorrel at one of Randy Rucker’s tenacity dinners, hosted in his home last summer. I haven’t been to Rainbow Lodge yet, where Randy is now the head chef, but I miss his inventive, always-delicious cooking terribly. I feel a trip out to Ella coming on soon…
Enough food pr0n for today, folks. Stop your drooling and get back to work!