Great Food At A Holiday Inn? Yes!

November 24th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is not kidding. HG/BSK stayed at Holiday Inn Suites & Express at Denver International Airport (going to Vancouver and coming back from Van). HG/BSK are fond of Holiday Inns for their comfy mattresses, toilets and showers that do their jobs expertly. But, food? Usually ranges between bad, flavorless and execrable. So, imagine HG/BSK’s surprise when the duo dined at the Inn’s Tower Tap Restaurant and Grill. Some sixteen beers on tap (all good). Here are some the dinner dishes HG/BSK ate with delight. Grilled asparagus. Mac and Cheese (lush and al dente). Colorado Green Chili Pork Stew (as tasty as the best New Mexico product). Very innovative “Maria’s Street Tacos”. These tacos are stuffed with carnitas, sliced radish, chopped onions, cotija. Garnished with cilantro and flavorful salsa. Taco heaven. Dessert was Chocolate Pot de Creme with whipped cream. Before leaving, HG/BSK had ample breakfasts. For BSK, a cheesy breakfast burrito. For HG, a big stack of pancakes. Both dishes were excellent and so large that HG/BSK didn’t have to stop for food during the six hour drive back to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Only one complaint. BSK insisted on a bottle of Argentine Alamos Malbec with dinner. Cost: $35. Total Wine in Santa Fe sells the same wine for $6.97. Super, super mark up.

Early. But Fabulous.

October 28th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Gifted Daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Profesore Massimo; beautiful and brilliant granddaughters, Sofia and Arianna, celebrated HG’s 90th birthday with a two-day party that was a few weeks early. (HG suspects BSK was in on the planning). It was the most fabulous birthday celebration ever. The group assembled in Arianna’s loft apartment in Providence. Ms. A. has a talent for interior design. The apartment is super-chic and contains BSK paintings, photographs and a pot. Also some Fornasetti plates from HGBSK’s collection. Ms. A. has hung and lit everything perfectly. Brilliant. Vodka was provided for HG and there were moving toasts (and a witty poem from Lesley). HG’s eyes were moist. Then off to a birthday dinner at HG’s favorite Chinese restaurant in the USA, Chongqing House in Providence. Lesley did the ordering. Many favorites. Sliced fish in wine sauce. Cumin lamb. Eggplant with garlic. Wontons in chili oil. Tofu. Pea shoots. And, more. Much more. Lesley said she overordered. However, she didn’t reckon with family appetites. When the chopsticks (and HG’s fork) stopped moving, there was only a mini leftover for Arianna’s breakfast. Catering to HG’s love for Asian food, the birthday dinner on the following day was at Sakuratani Ramen and Izkaya in the lovely town of Bristol. Sweet service. Lovely food. HG relished shumai, a vast unagi don and a generous tonkatsu ramen. And, in addition to all the fun and feasting, HG was gifted with a beautiful cashmere scarf which will keep HG warm and fashionable. Sadly, SJ and family were in Tokyo (safe from the typhoon) and HG daughter, Vicki, was in Mexico. The Rhode Island family made HG’s 90th an epic, joyous best ever birthday celebration, Thanks to all.

Great Hotel Meal

October 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK left PEI on Canadian Election Day, Happily, Justin Trudeau won and the good guys swept the Maritimes (including Prince Edward Island). The intent was to stay at the comfy Senator Hotel in Augusta, Maine, the country’s smallest state capital city. Hotel was booked so HG/BSK spent the night at the pleasant Best Western Motel. You have to travel in other countries to appreciate the comfort of the chain hotels/ motels in Canada and the USA. Clean rooms, WiFi that works, hot showers, effective toilets, good mattresses, etc. And, the price is right. Despite prejudice against hotel food, HG/BSK dined at the Cloud Nine Restaurant in The Senator. Surprise. BSK had a big slab of excellent prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes, string beans, au jus and plenty of freshly grated horseradish. HG had a seafood medley of garlic butter gilded salmon (perfectly moist and medium-rare), sea scallops, jumbo shrimp and a sauteed crab cake. Both dishes rate an exuberant “Wow!!). Shared a big creme brulee with caramel sauce and went to bed happy, Hey, HG almost forgot. Had a starter of Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. HG hasn’t had this starter in years. This one featured enormous juicy, firm jumbo shrimp (huge). Red sauce was spiked with much fresh horseradish and Tabasco. Shockingly good. Best shrimp cocktail ever. Go figure.

Street Food

October 12th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Sunday was Farm in the City Day in Charlottetown, the capital city of Prince Edward Island. Queen Street, the main stem, was lined with stands offering farm vegetables and meats. There were cooked snacks, crafts and face painting (for the kids). Plus live music from local bands. Hundreds and hundreds of folks showed up. Street was jammed. Reminded HG of similar events in New York City. Possibly, HG is a bit of a curmudgeon. Does not enjoy these street events. Too much noise and crowding. Vertical eating is messy. HG was not pleased with “The Night Market” in Vancouver, B.C., even though the nocturnal festivity has a positive reputation. There are two exceptions to HG’s dislikes. One is the grilled Italian sausage on a roll with peppers and onions served at the annual Feast of San Gennaro in New York. (Calvin Trillin shares HG’s delight). The second is Tokyo’s Ameya-Yokocho shopping street (in Ueno). When HG was in Tokyo, SJ took HG on a tour. Fried octopus. Tonkatsu. Shu Mai. And, more. Much more. Only seated meal was superb ramen. There was also a visit to a sake bar. (HG left it moderately tipsy). Of course, eating with SJ is one of life’s treats. Excellent son is allergic to nothing. Is knowing and adventurous. Has good appetite and likes robust food. HG’s favorite dining companion.

Failure

September 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has happy memories of perfect New York meals. At Veau D’or: Brains in back butter preceded by sausage with warm potato salad. At The Russian Tearoom: Blini with red caviar, melted butter and sour cream preceded by borscht. At Paul & Jimmy’s: Poached striped bass in brodo with a starter of linguine with white clam sauce. At Christ Cella: Lump crab meat cocktail, New York strip steak, Roquefort cheese salad. At Gitlitz Delicatessen: Pastrami and chopped liver on rye with coleslaw, Russian dressing and pickles. At Delsomma: Penne in broccoli sauce, pork chops with vinegar peppers and potatoes. At Fornos: Margaritas and roast pork with Spanish potatoes and broiled bananas. At Luchow’s: Pfefferlinge (wild mushroom fricasee) and Schlemershnitte (steak tartar covered in Beluga caviar). Blue Ribbon: Grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and home fries followed by apple pancake. Artist & Writers: Dry martinis and koenigberger klops (meatballs in a dill and sour cream sauce). Paramount Dairy: Warm gefilte fish in fish broth and kashe varnishkes with mushroom and onion gravy. Nom Wah (of yesteryear): Dim sum. (HG has written about HG’s perfect meals at Gage & Tollner in a previous post). These are all joyous meals but they pale compared to the meal HG would relish often at the counter of the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Eight chilled oysters on the half shell. Oyster Pan Roast. Nesselrode pie. The pan roast was prepared behind the counter in a special pot by a dour, unsmiling older Italian. It was incomparable, redolent of the sea and the richness of farmland. For years, HG/BSK have tried to replicate this dish. The ingredients and cooking technique are simple. However, HG/BSK have always failed. Their attempts created a pallid dish, in no way comparable to the Oyster Bar wonder. HG tried again last night using big, plump Red Head Select oysters. The result: FAILURE.

Worth The Wait

May 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Final travel to Riverside, Rhode Island, was short (in terms of mileage but very long in time (traffic jams, construction, etc. on New England Thruway). Arrival at the home of daughter Lesley R.; son-in-law Massimo and granddaughter Arianna, was festive. Toby, The Wonder Dog, had a joyous reunion with Pip. the R. family’s super-intelligent and gentle dog. HG/BSK were refreshed with steaming cups of tea (and some yogurt and honey for HG). Appetites raged as the family arrived at O Dinis, the joyous, noisy, no-reservations restaurant in East Providence. Every table was filled with happy, hungry folks eating hearty O Dinis cuisine. A half hour wait. Cane-wielding HG turned down many kind offers of a seat but finally succumbed to sitting on a bench and sipping white wine provided by thoughtful Lesley. (HG thanked a diner for his concern about HG. Before leaving, the gentleman sent a glass of red wine to the Freeman/R. table.) Food was spectacular. Juicy shrimp in a spicy sauce. Steamed littleneck clams (Rhody clams are the best) in a lush sauce of garlic, herbs, olive oil and clam juice. The O Dinis specialty: Pork and clams. A surprise was a dish of grilled tuna belly with boiled potatoes and a wondrous sauce. One of the best fish dishes. Lots of wine and Portuguese bread to soak up the many fragrant garlic juices. (Dracula wouldn’t stand a chance when confronted with O Dinis food). At bedtime, HG sipped some Kentucky bourbon. A most happy fellow.

Road Cuisine (Day Three)

May 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Destination: Ashland, Ohio. HG/BSK motored through the territory of BSK’s teen-age (and pre-teen years). Mansfield. Galion. Bucyrus. Crestline. Lakes and parks where BSK frolicked with BSK’s first boyfriend. No nostalgia from BSK. Just kept accelerating. Still lunching at the chains. This time it was Chick-Fil-A. HG must confess. Enjoyed it. Big bowl of chicken soup. Lots of shredded chicken. Firm, not mushy, pasta. Pleasant vegetables. BSK had a chicken sandwich and liked it. Downside was the potatoes. These were “waffle fries.” Not crisp. Not hot. Zero taste. However, the service was extraordinary. Efficient but super friendly and caring. HG left with a tip-top vanilla milkshake to be consumed while driving. Made the miles skip by. Dinner in Ashland was at Jake’s, a local steak and casual food chain. BSK said this was Amish country and the steak was bound to be good. HG was dubious. As always, BSK was right. BSK had a big-time, medium rare sirloin. Gave HG a taste. Superior. BSK accompanied the steak with onion rings and Caesar salad. HG had a burger with pepper jack cheese and fried jalapenos. Adequate. Not sensatiĆ“nal. There were consolations. HG’s side of mac and cheese was among the best ever and HG’s icy black-and-tans (glasses of half Anchor Steam Beer and half Guinness Stout) brought back HG’s happy nights in New York’s Third Avenue Irish bars of long ago.

Road Cuisine (Day Two)

May 17th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Destination was Collinsville, Ill. (some miles east of St.Louis). Always stirring to gaze out the auto window and see the mighty arch and the Mississippi River. Lunched at reliable Waffle House. A big bowl of buttery grits with two runny poached eggs. That’s how you spell All-American comfort. HG topped it off with a waffle, orange juice and many cups of coffee. Chicken fancier BSK had her usual chicken salad (WH does it with grilled chicken and holds off on ladles of mayonnaise). Dinner in Collinsville was Bandanas, a local bar-b-q chain. Big, juicy pork ribs. Very flavorful. Didn’t need any sauce. Fine cole slaw. Sweet potato fries. Savory beans. Icy beer. HG is very fond of the barbecue belt that runs through Missouri into southwestern Illinois. Calvin Trillin, a devotee of Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue in Kansas City (his favorite is “burnt ends”), might sneer at Bandanas. But, HG/BSK had a rollicking good time there.

Road Cuisine (Day One)

May 15th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG/BSK (plus Toby, The Wonder Dog), are on the road again (thanks, Willie). Destination: Prince Edward Island and HG/BSK’s ocean front paradise. But, first HG/BSK will stop at Providence, the base for HG/BSK’s New York/Atlanta festivities (you will learn more in coming days). First-day lunch was a Subway wrap consumed in the car. Messy. Never again. Hate eating in the car. Food dribbles on HG’s clothing. Dinner was at Kwan’s Kitchen in Quail Springs, an Oklahoma City burb. Was great on the last visit. Now it’s uneven. Had super-sized pork pot stickers. Flavorless. Peking duck. Excellent thin pancakes to wrap the meat which, alas, was quite dry. BSK liked a platter of fried string beans with gently fried rectangles of potato.HG thought it so-so. The bonanza (at least for HG ) of the evening, was a platter of shrimp dim sum. Shu mai. Shrimp balls. Other fried and steamed shrimp delights. Best dim sum ever (and HG has consumed much New York, Brooklyn and Flushing dim sum). Sadly, BSK is allergic to shrimp (and other crustaceans) so BSK could only observe HG’s pleasure, Did that with customary grace.

Yesteryear NYC Jewish Delis

May 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

In HG’s youth, New York had hundreds of Jewish delicatessens, temples of corned beef, pastrami, brisket, tongue and pickles. Many had a counter bowl of chunks of garlic sausage with a sign: “A nickel a shtikel.” (“Shtikel” means small piece in Yiddish.) Rye bread and all the meats were excellent. Pickled cucumbers (sour or half-sour); pickled peppers and sauerkraut were state of the art. Bright yellow mustard was tangy and Russian (or Thousand Islands) dressing was nonexistent. Reuben sandwiches were not served since the sandwich contains a dairy product (Swiss cheese) and most delis were kosher. Kashruth law forbade the mixing of meat and dairy products. Some delis were “Glatt Kosher.” This meant super, super kosher. HG avoided these places. Jewish deli frankfurters were superior, A pair of hot dogs with loads of mustard and sauerkraut cost 20 cents when HG was a boy. Even better was “The Special,” a big, juicy knockwurst. Sadly, only a few traditional delis are left (Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli, etc.). Ben’s, a Queens favorite of HG, closed recently. HG dined there often with the late real estate mogul, Sam Lefrak (Before he French-fried his name to “LeFrak). New York’s changing demographics and more sophisticated tastes have now made it much easier to eat sushi than heartburn-producing Jewish food. Cardiologists approve.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Restaurants category at HUNGRY GERALD.