Delicious evils

Holy crap. I swear these things are laced with some kind of addictive drug. I mean, they’re so tasty, it’s ridiculous.

Parmesan & Garlic Cheez-It

I just had to post this. That is all.

White chocolate and red liquorice are just wrong

These are wrong

Did you know that there’s no such thing as “white chocolate” or “red liquorice”? No, really …

Maybe sure you’re thinking, “But I’ve had white chocolate, and I’ve had red liquorice. What do you mean there’s no such thing?” What I really mean is: these names are misnomers.

“White chocolate” isn’t really chocolate. “Red liquorice” contains no liquorice.

Of course, these foods probably got their names because it was easier to refer to them by these names than something more accurate. Or, perhaps it was a clever act of marketing. Still, I’m doing my part by spreading the word about these inaccuracies.

Know of any common misnomers, things that people call by a certain name, which is actually technically inaccurate? Let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks!

Delicious caffeination at the Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, NY

My wife has arranged for a weekend getaway for us up in Binghamton, NY, for my birthday weekend. We drove up last night and after we checked into our room at the Holiday Inn, we went out for a light snack and desserts. The lady at the front desk highly recommended the Lost Dog Cafe, so we decided to give it a try.

The Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, NY

This cafe, from the outside, is really unassuming–there’s hardly any signage, just the one pictured above and a neon sign in one of the windows. However, the inside is spacious and very cozy.

I really wasn’t in the mood to eat a heavy meal after the drive up, so we just ordered appetizers and desserts. We shared a baked brie with roasted garlic which was rich and tasty, which was a great start. The real deal was the desserts: I ordered a Good PMS and a double shot of espresso, while Sam ordered a Boca Negra with a Girl Scout latte. Here’s a quick snap of me hyper-caffeinating and chocolyzing:

Enjoying my Good PMS

This was a great way to unwind after the two hour drive up here and to end the day. If you find yourself in Binghamton and are looking for a nice place to unwind and get something delicious to eat, definitely stop by and indulge yourself.

Lost Dog Cafe

Monday-Thursday: 11:30am – 5:00pm (Lunch), 5:00pm – 10:00pm (Dinner)
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am – 5:00pm (Lunch), 5:00pm – 11:00pm (Dinner)

Telephone Number:
(607) 771-6063

Street Address:
222 Water Street
Binghamton, NY 13901

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Food porn: Sirloin steak with leeks in cream with potatos

Sirloin, leeks and potatos

So, tonight I was tormenting my Twitter pal _Brooke_ with some tasty food porn and Armughan commented about wanting a recipe.  I love to cook and I often create my own dishes using parts of other dishes that I’ve either had or have seen the recipe for … my own “recipe mashups” if you will.  What follows isn’t exactly a recipe, but more a narrative of how I cooked the meal pictured.

For the meat, I use Kikkoman Roasted Garlic Teriyaki marinade–it comes in a bottle with a purple label with a garlic on it.  I used maybe a few tablespoons of that in a freezer bag with the meat in it, just enough to evenly coat the meat with a very thin layer.  Seal up the bag and give it a good shake to make sure it’s really coated well.

The leeks I cut the green part off and clean then dissect in half, leaving behind just the white and yellow flesh.  Lay it “face down” in the pan (the cut side down), and take my grinders of Kosher sea salt and melange peppercorn over them.  Then, pour a cup to a cup and a half of heavy whipping cream over the leeks, coating them well.

Then, I just peel and quarter 6 small yellow potatos and rest them on top of the leeks and cream.  I think I may have sprinkled a little bit of salt over the potatos, too.

I start the grill getting it up to high heat, then start the leeks in pan on the bottom (direct heat) for 10 minutes.  (I always grill with the lid closed, only opening it to fiddle with what’s inside when I need to.)  Once the cream is bubbling, I reduce heat slightly but still keep it high and move the pan to the top rack for another 10 minutes.  At this point, the cream separates and what looks like clarified butter forms.  I use that clear liquid to baste the potatos so that they’ll roast nicely.

At this point, it’s time to grill the sirloin.  Take it out of the bag and throw it down on the bottom rack.  Sizzle.  Mmm.  Give it two minutes, then flip it over onto its other side.  Sizzle.  Mmm.  Flip it again, but this time lower the heat as low as the grill will go.  Give it around 8 minutes for a one inch thick piece, maybe 12-14 minutes for a 1.5 or 2 inch thick piece of meat.  Flip it onto its other side, give it the same amount of time.

You’re all done.  Turn off the grill, bring the food inside, slice the meat up thin–I try to get it as thin as 1-2mm thick slices–and enjoy!  It’s roughly 15 minutes of prep time followed by 45 minutes of cooking time.

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Holy Grounds Cafe and Masa Sushi in Allendale, NJ

Last night, with the aid of babysitting, we were able to go out.  But, what to do?  My wife is happy to go out to see a movie, which is like two hours of brain-death for me.  So, since she left it up to me to arrange the evening, I decided to look for places with an open mic. night on Tuesdays.  One place, Holy Grounds Coffee Lounge in Allendale, NJ, caught my eye.  They advertised an open mic. night “every other Tuesday” … but didn’t mention which Tuesday started the cycle (sigh).

Holy Grounds Coffee Lounge in Allendale, NJ

Still, the place sounded promising even if there were no live entertainment this Tuesday.  We headed over to Allendale to check it out.  We found the place okay; it’s right in the middle of town on West Allendale Ave. by the “big clock” in the middle of the street.  We went in, asking about the food selection since we still needed to eat dinner.  No surprise, the deserts looked fantastic and the only real “food” were a bunch of premade panini sandwiches.  We decided to take our chances and left, walking up and down the street looking for places to eat.

We took a quick detour into a liquor store to check out their offerings and the helpful folks behind the counter mentioned the existance of, what they claimed, was an excellent sushi place in the adjacent building over.  We both love sushi and the only other alternatives seemed to be Italian restaurants, which are a dime a dozen in Northern Jersey.  But, I’m always wary when people claim that “this sushi place is excellent!” because, well, frankly, they usually aren’t.  Northern Jersey is plagued with a particular problem: most “sushi” places are Korean owned and operated, and I hate to say it, but your average Korean has no clue what good sushi is, but it’s usually quite passable to your average white person’s palate.  But, we needed to eat and, hey, who knows, right?

Masa Sushi & Grill in Allendale
(Click to enlarge.)

Hot damn.  The place is called Masa Sushi & Grill, also on West Allendale Ave., almost across the street from Holy Grounds.  Don’t let their pathetic looking website fool you: this place is the real deal.  In general, I have a short list for qualifying a good sushi place:

  • The sushi chefs speak Japanese.
  • There are a non-trivial number of Asian people who eat there.

Now, if you don’t know Japanese, it may be hard for you to know if the sushi chef’s are speaking Japanese.  They might be Koreans, speaking in Korean.  But, fortunately, I know enough Japanese to know what they’re speaking behind the counter.

If you go outside normal mealtimes, there may not be many people eating there, so the second item may not be of much use.  Since we were there at 7:00 PM, there were a bunch of people already there–and most of them were Japanese!  Even better, there were a few Japanese salariman there, reading their papers and eating their dinner.  I knew we were in for some good sushi.

Now, one thing I developed a taste for growing up is natto, a very signature Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.  I introduced my wife to it, who couldn’t stand it at first, but now she asks for it more than I do!  So, when she goes to a sushi place, even if it’s not on the menu–as was the case at Masa Sushi–she’ll ask for it.  Again, a good sign that this place was the real thing, they were quick to answer that, yes, they had natto!  We started our evening sharing a bowl of natto, together.

Another taste I developed growing up is for uni, or sea urchin.  Again, for many, this is an acquired taste, and ordering it in sushi places is often very hit or miss.  Given how expensive it is, it’s painful to risk paying the high prices for less than excellent uni.  Considering this place had been passing all my tests with flying colors, I looked at the uni in the sushi counter and it looked good.  I decided to order two pieces of uni and it was as good as I expected.

If you think you know good sushi when you eat it, perhaps you want to avoid this place.  It could ruin your perception of all those other “good” sushi places that you like to eat at, which may very likely pale in comparison to the high standards that Masa Sushi achieves.  By 8:00 PM on a Tuesday night, this place was packed full of Japanese people–salariman, families with young children and couples like us.  This place is no joke.

After our fantastic sushi dinner, we stumbled happily back across the street to Holy Grounds, where my wife ordered a pecan pie for dessert–one of her favorites–which she said was also excellent.  We relaxed while we enjoyed our drinks, as I flipped through a copy of a New International Version bible they have out.  In it, I came across this passage from Matthew 6:25-34 which is was so apropos:

Do Not Worry

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Indeed, tomorrow will worry about itself, but for last night, we enjoyed ourselves and had a wonderful evening.

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Robertson Winery Gewurztraminer Special Late Harvest 2004 (South African Wine)

This past Sunday, my wife invited over several of her South African ex-pat friends over for a Mother’s Day braai at our house. There were lots of kids here, I lost count around 12, running around our yard and in our house. There was lots of food and excellent wines being passed around. One really captured my wife’s attention, a very sweet and fruity white wine. So much so, that she’s kept the bottle and given it to me telling me to go find some more of it.

Robertson Winery Gewurztraminer Special Late Harvest 2004

The wine is the Robertson Winery Gewürztraminer Special Late Harvest 2004 (link). It’s a South African wine made by the fairly young Robertson Winery (Est. 1941). This white wine is very sweet and fruity, with sugar at harvest at 244 g/L and a residual sugar of 47.4 g/L, according to the label. I’m no experienced wine snob, but it sure was a tasty wine.

So my next challenge is: contact one of their distributors in New Jersey and see how I can get some more of this stuff.

Have you ever had this wine, or any of the other Robertson Winery wines? What did you think of them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!