Calçots are a variety of green onions that are unique to Catalonia. They have an extra long white part which is cultivated by re-covering the onion with soil every time it peaks out of the ground. These overgrown scallions are harvested at the end of winter into the early spring and are only eaten at this time of the year. We are lucky to be in Barcelona in prime Calçots season, and so my friend Adria takes us to Can Cargolet, a great steak and snail restaurant, where they serve this speciality. The calçots are charred over a grill and served with a special red sauce comprised of tomatoes, almonds, olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Adria demonstrates how this is eaten: remove the charred skin in with one gentle pull, dip in the sauce and drop the whole white section into your mouth. The flavor is indescribably good. The inside gets steamed and soft and melts in your mouth with the delicious sauce. It is truly an exciting food experience. Enjoy the demonstration video and check this link to get your own calçots (not sure if they deliver international).
Minnesota knows their brats, and a trip to the small town of St. Joseph Minnesota would not be complete without hitting up the St. Joseph Meat Market for some of the best. They have a ton of varieties, and I have faithfully stuck with the Wild Rice Brat. I’m not sure what the wild rice does for the flavor, but the smoked sausage speckled with little bits of black rice is truly glorious. I am here in St. Joseph visiting my girlfriends family and I am lucky to receive these local delights. I top my brat with some killer homemade pickles (see refrigerator pickles recipe) and some yellow mustard. The meat market also carries the essential “brat buns”. The meal is not complete, however, without Grandma Betty’s “Betty Bars”. These bars are a family tradition and the recipe has been perfected over the years. The Betty Bar is basically a peanut butter chocolate bar with crispy cereal. The sweetness and texture are unparalleled in the bar category. Unfortunately the recipe for the bars will remain a family secret for now.
In Detroit, hot dogs with chili, raw onions and mustard are called Coney Islands or Coneys. This concept is brought to its late night perfection at Lafeyette Coney Island in Downtown Detroit. Their chili is more of a secret sauce than a chili. Its unusually tasty and it complements the mustard, onions and dog perfectly. Perhaps even better than the Coney Island is an item i have never heard of — the “Loose Burger”. The somewhat off-putting name fits the item pretty well; it’s basically loose hamburger meat on a hot dog bun with mustard, onions and chili. The pattern here is clear; its all in the chili, mustard and onions. This spot is definitely in my top 10 late night food excursions.
For a slightly more refined experience, try O’Betty’s Red Hot Dogs and Sausages. Its based in Athen’s Ohio but I visited their stand at the Nelsonville music festival. They were out of brats so I got the Dixie, which is a spicy hot dog with onions, mustard, cheese, and chili. The Lafayette Coney Island wins on overall experience, but this dog is nothing to be passed up. Next time, however, I’m getting a brat.
Tuna sandwich on marble rye served with fries and a side greek salad at the Star Brick Restaurant in The Inn at Hocking College in Nelsonville Ohio. Gotta love the simple things.]]>
Chef Ria Pell greets the band with some true southern hospitality as we enter her delicious and innovative restaurant “Sauced.” I am very excited to be returning to my favorite spot in Atlanta. The meal begins with a gift from the boss — a little paper bag filled with crunchy pieces of bacon peanut brittle. Oh lordie! This is followed with an array of appetizers; I order the daily canapé special, which is a drop biscuit filled with thick country ham and some brie. I also share some chicken livers cooked on a sprig of Rosemary served with onion jam, and some pork rinds. The liver is too good. For my main dish, I have perfectly roasted half chicken served with succotash and warm fingerling potato salad with olives. This succotash is so good, I’m gonna have to try my hand at it when I get home (any recipes?). My tablemates order confit spare ribs, which truly fall off the bone and biscuits with homemade blackberry jam. Everything at this restaurant is supremely delicious. The atmosphere is casual and welcoming. I can say nothing but good things about this place and i will be coming back next time I’m in town.
Hello again! My apologies for the long silence, but i’m back on tour with the Dap-Kings and I’m food blogging again. I’m in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and there is only one place to go for late night food here, and that’s Time-Out Restaurant. The speciality here is the chicken sandwich; It is simply a fried chicken breast and a piece of cheddar on a biscuit and it is pure heart stopping delicious. It is a very simple concept but executed perfectly. When you order one of these babies, the counter guy takes a whole breast of fried chicken, chops the breast off the bone, places it on a chicken breast sized biscuit and tops it with a slice of cheese. The whole process takes about 30 seconds. The biscuit is a little less crumbly than a normal one and holds together nicely throughout the whole eating experience. Finally, add a touch of hot sauce if that’s your thing and you have a perfect late night delight.]]>
This is Minnesota State Fair food and, as you can see from the various pictures, its function is to make you happy. Everything is either on a stick, deep fried, smothered in butter or all of the above. The chefs here have truly have mastered the art of greasy food. The variety of food choices is actually quite surprising; it’s not just sausages and funnel cakes. They offer such oddities here as teriyaki ostrich on a stick and chocolate covered bacon on a stick.
I sample as much as much stomach can handle. The dap-kings walk around in a group — each person buying one thing and then bringing it back to the group to share. We start with cheese fries topped with bacon and chives. The curly fries are perfectly prepared and the toppings make it a great starter.
I move on to what i consider the best item at the fair: deep fried cheese curds. These are similar in flavor to mozzarella sticks but they are super fresh and perfectly crisp. Most people dip them in some ketchup and that is definitely a winning combo.
From there i move on to a pronto pup which is a corn dog made with a flour batter rather than corn batter. The pronto pup is not too big, but i find it to be the perfect size. The dogs are freshly dipped in the flour batter, and i think this makes for one of the best dogs on a stick around.
We all share the pork chop on stick which is a very popular item out here.
Deep fried pickle slices with ranch dressing is a good side order
Before we hit dessert, we all have to chow down on some delicious Minnesota sweet corn dipped in butter. Unstoppable.
Everyone tries their own desserts. Some go for the candy apple, while others eat the frozen key lime pie slice dipped in chocolate on a stick.
But I go for the true heart stopper: the deep fried twinkie on a stick. This item is simply wrong. It is, however, pretty damn good.
All in all. This was truly an inspiring food day for me. I am definitely going to try to come back to the Minnesota state fair next year.
Going to Greece is truly a momentous culinary experience for me. The Greeks are all about simple and fresh food–and what’s better than that? A typical Greek breakfast is spanakopita, which is commonly referred to in the states as spinach pie. It’s a pie made from flakey phyllo dough stuffed with spinach and some cheese.
Having it fresh from the bakery in Athens is a dream come true. It is light, crispy and tasty. I skip lunch due to a late breakfast but I have a late afternoon drink of ouzo, which is an anise-based liquer. It’s a clear liquid, but when mixed with water and ice, it gets white and cloudy. They drink a lot of this stuff in Greece and its damn good. Moving on to dinner, we go to a taverna where they serve lamb chops by the kilo. There are many tavernas around and they typically have outdoor seating and are very crowded late into the night. We order kilos upon kilos of delicious lamps chops and some Greek salad. I think they call it a famer’s salad or a peasant salad or something like that. It is basically chopped up tomatoes, pepers and onions, with and big hunk of feta cheese sitting on top. It’s dressed with loads of olive oil and oregeno and then consumed. This is the best thing ever. I think I could eat this everyday and be happy. All the ingredients are fresh and delicous. The chops are simply grilled over coals and served with lemon wedges. Tzatziki sauce, which is a yogurt cucumber sauce, is an optional topping.
After dinner, we head down the winding streets of Athens and find ourselves at a dessert shop. We order an array of Greek desserts with ice cream. The only dessert name I remember is Baklava, but there are many similar desserts on the massive plates that are presented to us. The ice cream is very unusual as it is flavored with the sap from some local tree. Below is a picture of the ladies serving us dessert. Notice the huge mounds of ice cream…
I have many favorite culinary creations from the Midwestern region of the USA, but there is one in particular I’d like to share on Homer’s behalf, and in honor of its original creator: my Grandma Betty. This delicious dish is the baked potato.
Tomorrow is Grandma Betty’s 76th birthday, and after many, many years of cooking for eight (4 boys, 4 girls) children, and now their own children, she is still going strong in the kitchen. Among many delights, she makes the best baked potato. This potato satisfies the most hearty of Minnesotan appetites: my Grandpa Phil, who has never met a carbohydrate he didn’t like, and consequently eat.
Homer and I re-created this trademark spud tonight with great success; here is the result:
Yum. When baking a potato, Homer says it must be known that during baking “if you don’t fork it, it might explode.” So spear it with a fork before popping it in the oven, for Pete’s sake.
It also must be said that what makes a baked potato different from a french fry (besides the baking and frying) is the garnish (garnishes, garnishi?) I think I can speak for Betty and Homer when I say they make up about 50-75% of the delectibility. Of course you can improvise, but these are our top choices:
1. Butter (as much as you want, and it provides the base flavor)
2. Cheddar cheese (again, as much as you want, but I would use caution, as the more distinct flavor might overpower the potato itself)
3. One dollop of sour cream
4. Chopped chives (these are crucial: they provide both a contrast in color and flavor to the aforementioned dairy products)
That’s it. More to come on the Midwestern interpretation of the salad.
Australians don’t seem to be too serious about their food. They serve it up with no pretense and they consume without worry. But don’t let this fool you, their food is damn good—it’s always fresh and carefully prepared. I have just spent three weeks traveling around Australia with Sharon and the Daps. We had to stop our van in the road to allow a Koala to cross, we learned to surf, and, of course, we ate. What follows is a sampler of some of the foods that have been consumed over the past three weeks.
If there is one item that Australians (properly pronounced ‘strialians) do take seriously, its their coffee. Any shop that serves coffee has a proper espresso machine. The coffee is consistently stellar, whether in an airport or a fancy café. Almost as satisfying as the coffee itself are the names of the drinks. At the top of the list is a “flat white”, which is a shot of espresso with milk but no foam. I question why we don’t have a proper name for this drink back in the states. Other items include: “short black”= espresso, “long black” = espresso w/hot water, “short mac”= espresso with a splash of milk and foam, “long mac”= watery espresso w/ a splash of milk and foam. “One flat white please…”
A welcome surprise out here is their usage of corn. Corn, which happens to be my favorite food, is quite common out here. At the Little Creatures brewery in Perth (pronounced puth as in pudding), they brew some mean pale ale but they also make some corn on the cob with butter that will make you homesick (if you get good corn on the cob at home). In Sydney, I happened upon a fancy little restaurant called Bill’s where they serve up corn fritters with bacon for breakfast (pictured below). You get two fritters with bacon, spinach and roast tomatoes in the middle. These are bona fide fritters (the chef’s name is Bill Granger and I picked up one of his cooked books. Email me if you want the recipe).
The slow foods movement seems to be pretty popular down under. I happened upon a slow foods street fair where I bought a lamb sausage on a slice of bread and I have been craving another one ever since. For those of you who don’t know, ‘slow food’ is a movement to counteract fast food. It is based on the idea that we should take time and put care into eating, growing, and cooking food.
A super common street food item is a meat pie. Pictured below is a chicken pie from some fancy organic café in Melbourne. They are similar to chicken pot pies, but they usually come as individual little pies and there are a variety of filling options. These things are damn good and you can get them nearly anywhere. When you get the beef one, you must douse it in ketchup, which is known as tomato sauce out here.
One of the best desserts I have ever experienced is what they call a “pavlova”. Supposedly named after the Russian dancer Anna Pavlova after she did a tour of Australia (I am waiting for the “Homer”), this dessert is a piece of heaven. It is a chunk of meringue that is filled with cream. Thus, it’s hard like meringue on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. It is topped with some whipped cream and strawberries and is basically the best thing ever. Thank you Ian Mcinnis and your lovely wife for making us these lovely pavlovas and a full on barbeque out in Albany.