February 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG pays attention to The blog pops up on HG’s computer and HG becomes attentive. Good advice on restaurants, travel and a host of other things. Better than Yelp or Trip Advisor. HG doesn’t fancy highway fast food restaurants. But, Thrillist has done a series about what to order at these places. Yes, they have found there are tasty and healthy options. With that in mind, HG/BSK made a strategic stop in Walsenberg (on Highway 25) on HG/BSK’s trip to Denver. Followed the advice of Thrillist. Went to Taco Bell and ordered shredded chicken on soft tacos. Surprisingly good. Very inexpensive. Healthy. Low in calories. Spicy salsa added to the flavors. HG/BSK are Thrillist (and Taco Bell) converts. Hell may now freeze over.

Auspicious Dining

February 10th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK rarely dine at big time, lauded-by-the-critics restaurants. Much too expensive. HG/BSK like to drink wine. Restaurant markups mean that HG/BSK can spend $60-100 on wine and cocktails prior to ordering pricey food. Before dining prices went crazy (Should the greedy landlords be blamed?) HG/BSK had sumptuous meals at the world’s best restaurants. They were expensive but not outlandish. These are some of them. (1) Le Bernardin in New York. Seafood perfection and creativity. (2) Connaught Hotel Restaurant in London (This was years ago before the menu, etc. changed). The best French restaurant ever (And it wasn’t in France). HG/BSK would order English food there: Mixed grill, Dover sole, steak and kidney pie, thinly sliced Scotch smoked salmon. (3) Le Pavillon in New York when it was owned and run by imperious Henri Soule. Lump crabmeat casserole. Roast duck with olives. Smoked eel filets with horseradish whipped cream. (4) The Pool Room of the Four Season (when it was in the Seagram Building). Steaks. Leg of lamb. Desserts. (5) The Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York (years ago). Chateaubriand steak. Braised celery with bone marrow. Pommes souffle. These days when HG/BSK are in London, their favorite spot is J. Sheekey, a relatively affordable seafood paradise. In Paris, it’s Le Stella, a traditional brasserie with oysters, rack of lamb and ile flottante for dessert. Also, modestly priced Ma Bourgogne. Jambon persillade. Escargots. Quenelles. In New York, it’s the wondrous quartet of restaurants owned and run by HG daughter Victoria Freeman and husband/chef Marc Meyer. The restaurants are Rosie’s (Mexican. Located in the East Village); Cookshop (Locavore and Mediterranean. Located on Tenth Avenue near the High Line). Vic’s (Italian and located on Great Jones Street). Shuka (Middle Eastern. Located on Macdougall in the SOHO/Greenwich Village neighborhood). All the restaurants have a joyous atmosphere, warm service, splendid food, imaginative wine lists. And (for New York) they are affordable.

International Treats

January 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Tasty food evening. Started with Armenian and other Middle Eastern treats in the beautiful new kitchen of HG’s daughter’s close friends/neighbors. HG was introduced to a special caraway seed Aakavit. Pungent stuff. Then off to Cheng Du Taste, a hole-in-the-wall Szechuan restaurant in Pawtucket, R.I.. To get there, five hungry eaters had to follow a winding complex of streets from the Riva Rhode Island home. Well worth it (even with a 15-minute wait). Very flavorful food served swiftly and piping hot. Mo Po Tofu. Chicken with eggplant in garlic sauce. Sliced fish in chile oil. Pork dumplings. Soup dumplings. Pepper and salt prawns. There was divided opinion. HG raved but the others said that since the menu was so similar to the much more convenient Chonquing House in Providence, Cheng Du Taste was’t worth the longer trip. Who to trust? Choose HG since the senior gent has been consuming Chinese food in various locales for some 80 years. Experience counts.

Kwan’s: A Happy Surprise in Oklahoma City

November 7th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Final hotel stay at the upscale La Quinta in the Quail Springs Office Park, Oklahoma City. Short stroll to Kwan’s Kitchen, a spacious and beautiful Chinese restaurant. The food was sensational. On a par with New York, Vancouver, LA or San Francisco. Started with chicken (also available in duck) lettuce packages. The iceberg lettuce leaves were cold and crisp. The chicken mix was the best HG ever ate. Then, there was Mapo Tofu. HG/BSK murmured: “The best.” The tofu was slightly firm but silky. Very similar to the great tofu served with spinach at the Fortune Garden restaurant in Vancouver (first stop when HG/BSK used to arrive at their Mt. Pleasant loft). The Kwan Mapo Tofu sauce hit a very nice balance between fire and flavor. Another dish was sliced eggplant. The slices were dusted with rice flour and fried to a greaseless crisp and topped with sweet/sour chili sauce. Kitchen mastery. HG/BSK shared a sorbet for dessert. The meal’s pleasures were augmented by a good cold bottle of rose’. The check was modest. Go figure. One of USA’s best Chinese restaurants in Oklahoma. Few people in the restaurant on Saturday night. HG is worried about Kwan’s Oklahoma future.

Ups & Downs In Lewisburg, PA

November 4th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

First layover after leaving Rhode Island was Leiwsburg, Pa., site of a notable Civil War battle, a giant federal prison, Bucknell University (alma mater of the late Philip Roth), and Reba and Pancho’s Restaurant. HG/BSK had a spectacular meal there in 2017 (see post in archive) so that’s where the famished duo headed after swims and stretches. Sipped a very good white wine with two spectacular appetizers: A crisp “Skinny Pizza”, goat cheese topping instead of the usual mozzarella; Fundido, a casserole of melted cheese mixed with jalapenos and greens. These starters were state of the art and very filing. HG/BSK realized they had over-ordered. That’s because a platter of pommes frites, crab cake (for HG) and salmon in an unusual sauce (for BSK) were on the way. HG asked the waitperson if there had been any change in the composition of the crab cake. Reply was the crab cake was identical to the one which delighted HG a year ago (this was a lush crab cake composed of lump crabmeat). Big disappointment when HG tasted the 2018 version. Shredded crab meat, not lump, which make the crab cake taste like a very ordinary fish cake. BSK said the salmon was okay but left over more than half. These dishes were accompanied by two more glasses of the white wine. Top flight cuisine returned with two Paris bistro desserts, creme brulee and chocolate mousse. Two complaints: Waitperson deluded HG about the crab cake. Also, did not inform HG/BSK about the price of the white wine. It was $14 a glass, four glasses for $56. If informed, HG/BSK would have purchased a modest bottle. HG’s counsel to folks who want to try R & P, order Mexican inspired dishes, skip the crab cake and ask the price of wine by the glass.

Portuguese Providence

November 2nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Arrived at the Riverside,Rhode Island home of Gifted Daughter Lesley, R., husband, Profesore Massimo R., brilliant granddaughter, Arianna R.. And, of course, Pip, The special friend of Toby, The Wonder Dog. Joyous canine reunion. Dinner was at funky, down home family favorite, O Dinis, in East Providence. Savory rustic Portuguese cooking served in generous portions. Big shrimp in a garlicky red sauce. Steamed clams (Rhody has the best clams) in a white wine, lemon, parsley and garlic sauce. (Yes, more garlic. Dracula would be demolished at O Dinis). Grilled chourico sausage. Pan broiled mullet. Clams and pork in a wine sauce with (You guessed it!!) garlic. Great flan for dessert.

O, Canada!!!

June 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Motoring though Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Destination: Clipper Shipp Motel in Pokolagan, New Brunswick. The motel is a throwback to the 1950’s with spacious suites filled with comfy overstuffed furniture. Efficient Wi-Fi. Giant TV screen. And, beautiful views of the Bay of Fundy with its unusual tides. Toby, The Wonder Dog, enjoyed his stroll on the beach with BSK. A harbinger of PEI. Icy vodka in hand, HG perched on a viewing platform and basked in the scenery and the luxury of being in a democracy with a humane leader, universal health care and a welcoming attitude towards a diverse set of immigrants. Dined on the left-over sandwiches from The Italian Corner in East Providence augmented by prosciutto. Drank Montepluciano d’ Abruzesse (purchased just over the Canadian border). HG had always been beguiled by the fact that the late Virgil Thompson, eminent composer and music critic (who lived in the Hotel Chelsea on Manhattan’s West 23rd), often dined in a nearby Popeye’s fried chicken establishment. So, midway on the trip to Canada, HG ate some Popeye’s product. Fried fish and macaroni and cheese. The mac and cheese was mushy but comforting. The fish was spicy and crisp. (BSK thought it too heavily breaded). Next time, HG will try the chicken and red beans & rice.

Festive Finale

June 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Last meal in Rhode Island before setting off to Prince Edward Island. And, the finale was festive, full of culinary fireworks. The venue was Bristol Oyster Bar in the historic town of Bristol. They do a “buck a shuck” oyster night on Tuesday. Decided to do a reprise of the oyster feast HG/BSK (and Lesley R.) enjoyed during our Christmas season visit. Of course, this time HG overdid. Three dozen oysters, chilled, briny, nicely shucked. All from Rhode Island waters: Moonstones, Quonrie Rocks, Point Judith Salts and Aquidnacks. Then, on to a ceviche of fresh raw scallops with crispy potato chips, cucumber, lime, cilantro and ginger. Steamed “Drunken” little neck clams in a mind-blowing sauce of beer, onions, garlic (grilled bread to soak up the deliciousness). Cajun tuna (cooked rare) with potato crisps, parsnip chips, spicy New Orleans mayo and chimichurri cream. Mussels in a garlic and wine broth topped with salt and vinegar potato sticks gilded with a red pepper coulis. Fried oysters in a cornmeal crust with pickled red onions, lime and cilantro. Cajun pork belly confit on a bed of parsnip puree with an array of house made pickles. Fresh local green salad with goat cheese, parsnip chips and marinated vegetables. (Hey, don’t characterize us as gluttons. These are all modest small plate portions). To drink: Sancerre for BSK and Brilliant/Beautiful granddaughter Arianna R. Black and Tan (Guinness and IPA ale) for HG. Happy heads and tummies. Off to bed to get an early start on Canadian motoring.

Chong Qing House Lives

June 3rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG was devastated to learn that Chong Qing, the Chinese restaurant in Seekonk, MA. (just over the Rhode Island border and short drive from the R. home) had closed. Owner said there were not enough Chinese in the area to support his very authentic cuisine. Eating there was a culinary highlight on stopovers in Rhode Island to and from Prince Edward Island. Big smiles yesterday when HG learned the restaurant, now called Chong Qing House, had reopened on Wickenden Avenue in Providence. HG called the owner and learned his cuisine had remained intact in the new location. Plenty of dishes featuring innards beloved by the Chinese. And, of course, frogs. HG’s favorites have remained intact — that was the assurance given by the owner. Salt and pepper shrimp. Eggplant with garlic. Fried string beans. Fiery Ma Po tofu. Cumin lamb. Szechuan wontons in chile oil. Black pepper chicken. Sliced fish and sour cabbage soup. Beer duck and tofu in hot pot. Shredded pork belly with smoked bean curd. The menu covers all the bases. HG suffers from Chinese food deprivation. BSK does not share HG’s obsession. When the duo lived in New York, HG always wanted to dine in Chinatown. BSK would be pleased to try other ethnic cuisines. In any case, when HG returns from PEI in the fall, HG is confident that BSK and the R. family will join HG in the Chong Qing pleasures.

O Dinis

May 30th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Rhode Island is one of the great culinary destinations. Eccentric and tasty. HG has written about New York Specials (hot dogs drenched in an odd chili-tomato sauce); Dell’s icy lemonade, stuffies, calamari with hot peppers, clam bakes, grilled pizza, etc. A new discovery for HG yesterday was O Dindis. This is a plain spoken, authentic, family oriented Portuguese restaurant. Famished HG/BSK arrived in Providence ready for a hearty dinner. And, that was what O Dinis provided. First, a bottle of chilled Vinho Verde. Then, appetizers of little neck clams in a white wine and garlic sauce plus shrimps in a tomato based garlic sauce (with just a touch of heat). Thankfully, there was a platter of Portuguese bread to soak up the lush sauces. BSK and Arianna R. shared a giant serving of the house specialty: Clams and pork Alentajana. This is a stew of pork tenderloin and potatoes topped with steamed little necks in a pungent sauce.(Rhody clams are the best). HG ate a king-sized slab of nicely grilled red snapper with boiled potatoes. These potatoes were not mundane. Perfectly cooked and when slathered with the two sauces, onion and garlic, were heavenly. Drank a very good Portuguese cabernet (Portuguese reds have been underrated). Dessert was splendid flan. HG wants to go back to O Dinis with a crowd so the greedy boy can taste many things on the menu: Cod in a dozen varieties; bife a case (steak topped with a fried egg accompanied by rice, onion/garlic sauce, fried sliced potatoes); seafood stew (a Portuguese version of Mariscada); etc. And, the prices are very modest.

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