Archives For dining experiences

fallen leaves, freshly sharpened pencils and making Mollie Katzen’s gypsy soup.

My thoughts also turn philosophical. My thoughts lately have been about the consequences of raising a food snob and the old adage of “those who can do; those who can’t teach.”

On the first subject, Julian’s birthday falls in the early part of this month and when asked this year what he wanted to do for his birthday he decidedly did not give any of the standard boy pre-teen answers. There was no discussion of paint ball, laser tag, pizza blow out, bowling… nothing so common. For his birthday Julian decided he wanted to go to Zola for a birthday dinner. His rational for such an adult birthday celebration was that Keifel and I go for our anniversary and sometimes for one of our birthdays and he had never gotten to go with us. We invited some of our friends, I think rightly assuming that his posse wouldn’t be up for seared tuna on black rice and coffee caramel creme bruleĆ©. I, of course, could be underestimating his friends’ tastes but I am going with my gut here and saying most kids Julian’s age probably wouldn’t feel real excitement when presented with a piece of mostly raw sashimi grade tuna.

I am incredibly happy that Julian doesn’t clamor to go to McDonald’s or Burger King. I am happy that he knows that hydrogenated fat and HFCS are really bad for your body. I am happy that he will eat a well-dressed salad without too much cajoling and that he has vegetables he does actually enjoying eating and that he will eat almost any fruit presented in some form or another. He loves sushi and pork belly and smoky exotic sausages. He likes seltzer with cassis syrup and would take an Italian soda over a Coke. Boy has expensive tastes to be so young. I realize college is going to be a wake up call into the myriad way one can prepare beans and rice and (god, I really hope not) ramen. I also worry a little because loving good food has made my ass more than a size or two larger than it should be for optimum health. Along with his taste we are trying to instill “all things in moderation,” enjoyment and balance. I would wish that he not have a lifelong struggle with weight and body issues.

In the second area of brain pan spinning, I am thinking about my effectiveness and success (or lack thereof) in teaching. I still feel like I am getting my feet under me and that I don’t have it all together. I feel like I might be boring some of my students and worry about making sure they leave my class with not only more than they came with but a real understanding of the subject. I think on some level I also worry that I just don’t have enough years slogged on the line to really tell them what that world is like. I am going to try some different ways of presenting the lecture and see what works for me and for them. I am also going to think about some ways to do some different things in class that engage them in some more meaningful ways that don’t involve me jabbering for an hour and a half.

I agreed to teach another class this week at another culinary school and have some real prep to put into that and getting familiar with their curriculum and expectations. And just getting familiar with the campus and facilities. It’s pretty excited, actually I’m excited to be teaching and feeling my way through this. It’s a little overwhelming, too. I guess on some level I just want to be good enough to be trusted with what small part of their academic life I am overseeing and not messing them up for the next level. That’s a pretty huge thing to wake up to every day.

Christmas was lovely, quietly spent at my mom’s. We did have to dash back for work today, bleh. But we got the weekend to spend with friends and family. On arrival yesterday we prepped for the Boxing Day party while Keifel added all the new pressie books to the Delicious Library database.

Today, I dashed by the grocery for those things I forgot to pick up or couldn’t pick up on Friday and came home and cooked up some goodies. I had made all the dips and spreads yesterday so they could meld and mellow. Today was mostly the mains, starches and salads. And while I did all of that Keifel and the Carpenter went to pick up the couch that we bought on Friday to put in our couchless living room. Couchless because after purchasing the couch on Friday, we came home and disassembled the futon of Doom and carted its broken hiney off to Good Will. Thankfully CSG and Carpenter brought folding chairs as backup, but the couch did arrive in time for its debut at the party.

A Boxing Day Menu
Hummus
Pumpkin dip with cumin and caraway
Eggplant, green pepper and walnut spread
Pita breads and seeded flat breads
Marinated olives
Bulghur salad with cucumber and feta
Carrot and orange salad
Moroccan chicken with olives and sultanas
Red lentil soup
Fruited couscous
Dried fruit tray with halva
The remainder of the Christmas goodies
Black Cake
Oranges and Amaretti
Assorted beers and cider
Blackberry Italian sodas
Mint tea

Keifel was on the ball and got pictures of everything, including the couchless living room:


If we don’t get the couch we could just get more shelves for books

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Dear, that’s hummus not a face mask.


Please find enclosed: some drunken sheeps, pigs and cows between the rum and bourbon balls


More desserts and the fruited cheese ball my mom sent (that’s black cake on the stand)


Sadly, I did not get the NASCAR Crock Pot for Christmas


And the new “tailored-taupe-faux suede sofa”

And on that note, I am bedding down for a long winter’s nap, knowing that I am not cooking for a party until Oscar Night. And to all a good night.

In the interest of blatant self promotion, I had the idea to have an Oscar party. J., my partner in this crime called Joie de Vivre had the idea to invite a bunch of people who might know people who might want to use our services. We invited some of those folks, plus all the folks in Nashville that we love and had ourselves a grand ol’ time.

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Sawaddii, Memphis, Tennessee

victoria  —  January 23, 2006 — 7 Comments

Keifel and I recently had the pleasure of an overnight in Memphis for his green card interview. Keifel is now an official permanent resident (Huzzah!) and we got to spend some time together without the interference of work and school for a brief 24 hour span. As our presence was requested at the immigration office at 7:30 AM and we arrived in Memphis around 4:30PM the previous day we had some time to kill, which we spent at the Ye Olde Pot and Pannery outlet, the Davis-Kidd Booksellers Memphis store and finding some sustenance. SC recommended a Thai place downtown by the Peabody, so after some debate about driving versus staying close to the hotel, we headed further west.

The front door to Sawaddii opens onto a very small reception area and bar. The restaurant was practically deserted on a Wednesday night and we were seated immediately. Brightly painted portraits of musicians of every genre line the muted walls and contrast nicely with the dark wood tones of the bar and screen separating the bar back from the restaurant. The tables are comfortable if utilitarian and everything else has the clean lines that one has come to expect of Asian restaurants. The lighting was a little bright for dinner after dark and the music was mostly okay except for a travesty that might only offend me: a bad cover of Van Morrison.

Our overly chatty waiter took our drinks order and disappeared briefly. Keifel and I both zeroed in on the duck dishes of which there were two. We decided to each get one and start with tom ka soup. The soup arrived very quickly steaming with the scent of lemongrass, one of the main reasons that I adore it. It was a bit thinner than I had had before but still with a good body. Overall the flavor was balanced between the citrus notes of the lemongrass and lime leaves and the earthiness of the mushrooms in their coconut milk bath. There is one caveat. The chicken was cooked to death and cut into sizes three times what would be politely manageable on a spoon.

Our duck dishes arrived as quickly as the soup had, in fact, we had not had time to finish the soup. Yes, rushing me through the courses is one of my very biggest pet peeves. Keifel had ordered the roasted duck with curry, pineapple and spinach. It smelled divine. I ordered the Sam Rod duck. Mine smelled pretty good, too. Keifel’s duck had marvelously crispy skin, was cooked perfectly with pink still at the center of the breast, and the curry pulled it all together. I could have eaten a bowl of the pineapple and curry over rice and been utterly content. In fact I should have. The skin on my duck was crispy, but the flesh was overcooked and liver-y tasting. The overly salted sauce didn’t help matters along and the sweet and sour sauce clashed and fought rather than counterpointed. I ate more of Keifel’s than I did of my own.

The server did not comment on my quarter eaten entree. He also took Keifel’s plate before I had finished pushing mine around instead of taking both plates at the same time. Another pet peeve.

Once we had decided that I should write a review, I decided I had to give the dessert menu a go. My choices came down to key lime pie and creme brulee, two of my personal favorites. The key lime pie was not made in house so I decided to attempt the creme brulee. Keifel looked at me with a great deal of scepticism and pointed out that this could only end in tears. I should have listened.

Our waiter disappeared, for a good while. It was the longest span he had spent away from our table and I began to worry that the stress of dealing with us and two other tables may have overwhelmed him, or more likely that he had gone for a smoke. He did finally advent with my dessert and cautioned me the dish was hot because he had just taken the torch to it himself. Really, it should sit for a few minutes after the flaming, to harden, and it shouldn’t get hot as the custard… well, you’ll see.

It was really far too large a portion for one person, which he had not mentioned, and there was a liquid film over the carmelized and burnt sugar topping. The custard was close to room temperature and badly curdled. I was crestfallen. Generally when Keifel and I go out, he always gets the better entree and I try to save the meal with a nice dessert. Not to be.

I tried one more route to dining happiness and ordered coffee. This was their last chance to save the evening as I firmly believe a crappy cup of coffee can ruin a perfectly good meal while a good after dinner cuppa can cover, if not a multitude, at least a few sins.

Sawaddii has great coffee.

Sawaddii Thai Cuisine
121 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
901-529-1818

I’m unsure if I am getting jaded or if culinary school and the concomitant research and reading and cooking on my part is making it harder and harder for me to be impressed by what restaurants are dishing up or out. I really don’t mean that in a snooty way though I know it rings of the “food snob” in the worst possible way.

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Trini Food in D.C.

victoria  —  March 31, 2005 — Leave a comment

The very first thing we did was head to the Islander on U Street for roti. They apparently don’t have roti on Sunday night. The boychick and I had stew chicken and Keifel and E.B. had oxtail and goat respectively. The pelau was quite good, but I have to confess that I think Keifel’s stew chicken is better.

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Since our first sojourn to Zola in April, we have been jonesing to go back. The food, the service, the ambience… it’s an amazing place and Debra Paquette is an amazing chef.

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Keifel and I lucked into two free tickets to Wine on the River

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You know me. I buy organic groceries. I cook at home more than we eat out. I care about what goes into my body and my family’s bodies. You also know that I am addicted to coffee, especially mochas. My new temp assignment is in a building with a Starbucks on the ground floor.

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Her name was Zola

keifel  —  June 5, 2004 — Leave a comment

Earlier this week we were speaking online and he informed us he was coming and suggested we find somewhere good to eat that had a fairly descent wine list. Being pauperised we didn’t have any immediate experience with such an establishment, but vic asked around the office and the unanimous recommendation was Zola.

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