Tag Archives: eating

Underground Dinner with Ryan Barnett

You’ve heard of those underground dinners, right?  Pop-up restaurants?  Well, Hub and I were unexpected stand-ins for a good friend of ours who couldn’t make it.  I had always wanted to attend an event like this but never really gotten around to it.  Such fun!

It was held at My Private Chef in Deep Ellum by Chef Ryan Barnett.  There were two communal tables and a four course dinner.  Delicious!  Ryan likes to focus on locally sourced food.  The freshness and purity of the flavors really showed through in each dish.

Our first course was a chilled mussel salad with peach and grapefruit.  A light vinaigrette and the bitterness of the greens perfectly complimented the shellfish and the fruit.  I would have never thought of a mussel salad, but I will from now on.  It was very nice.

Next, a veloute’ of sweet Texas corn topped with a little crab and some thinly sliced green onion.  And sweet it was.  It was delicately, yet fully flavored.  Creamy and smooth, delicious with the little touch of crab.

I wanted to pick up the bowl and drink it.  But, I behaved and used my spoon!

Next on to the fish.  Flounder served with an assortment of local squash.  Very nice.  A squash blossom was a lovely touch, as well.  The flounder was cooked perfectly.

So good.  I love fish.  But, what I don’t usually like at all is lemon desserts.  I am glad that I’m not the type that won’t even try something I have disliked in the past because the lemon tart was fantastic!  Not overpowering.  Tender crust.  It really was excellent.

Chef Ryan will be doing these dinners every two weeks.  We went to the first one on the 3rd.  So check in with him for more info… ChefRB@me.com.  Request to be on the mailing list if you want to be notified of new dinners.  This one was $50 for four courses. It was BYOB with wine service provided.  The service was great.  Conversation was lively and the food…  wonderful!

Like Chef Ryan on Facebook.


Del Frisco’s Grille for Lunch

What’s better than a free brunch at the new Del Frisco’s Grille?  Not much!      Hubbard and I were treated this Saturday and loved every bite.  This is the steakhouse’s answer to a bar and grill.  Very stylish and a great location.  The patios is spacious.  They even have an patio upstairs in their second dining area.  Bonus:  they serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  I love that.  I’m always craving something delicious on Saturday afternoons.  I think if you see the pictures you’ll be craving it, too!

I’m a sucker for deviled eggs.  With truffle-chive vinaigrette?  Are you kidding?

Hubbard is still talking about these cheesesteak eggrolls.  They really were delicious.  Tender beef.  Cheesy, crunchy.  Great idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Carbonara Flatbread.  Isn’t it lovely?  Prosciutto, Parmesan, cracked black pepper cream sauce.  Kind of like a ham and egg pizza but better.  And we still haven’t gotten to the the entrees yet.

Want a drink?  How about that white Sangria?  So light and refreshing.  Makes you want to drink it all day!  The Bloody Mary comes with a tray of garnishes that you can use to fix up your own glass.  I never got to that because I was actually just interested in tasting the mix.  I hate a dull Bloody Mary and this one was nothing but dull.  Not too spicy, still full of flavor.  Of course, the brunch punch isn’t too bad either.

Bacardi, Malibu, orange and pineapple juices, grenadine… yum!

When I go to a new place for brunch I always try the Benedict.  This one was particularly good.

Sitting atop white cheddar and scallion biscuits, topped with chipotle hollandaise, the eggs were perfectly prepared.  I’m pretty picky about poached eggs.  This was a great entree and very filling.  Hubbard had to try the chicken fried steak.  He makes a mean chicken fried steak here at our house.  So, he can be critical when it comes to CFS.  Not much to complain about when it’s made from ribeye!

The chorizo gravy gave a nice full flavor to the dish.  Hub liked it a lot.  The steak was very tender and not chewy or fatty at all.  And yes, the crust says on the meat when you cut into it!  Delicious fries.

Yes, they are really called Sea Salt and Parmesan Frites.  Call them whatever you want.  They’re really good.  Maybe not as good as the desserts.  But, damn close!

This was my favorite.  Coconut cream pie.  Delicious!

Bread pudding?

Lemon cake?

Oh, come on!  You know you want it!  We’ll be going back for sure!

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Cream

What is in a name?  A lot, when it comes to this soup.  In fact, the name sounded better than the soup tasted.  But, what was I expecting?  It’s squash soup.  Squash isn’t just bursting with flavor to begin with, right?

I cracked open the squash.  Since I’d never cooked a butternut squash before, more less a six dollar organic butternut squash, I took a little nibble of it raw.  Nothing.  I tossed a piece to the floor to see if the dog would eat it.  No dice.  It tasted like nice, fresh, organic nothing.  Maybe the roasting would help.

I will say that it smelled considerably better after the roasting.  I had rubbed the cut side of each half with olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted it for 45 mintues at 400.  Still didn’t taste like a whole lot.

I medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped

Saute in a soup pot with olive oil and a little salt until tender.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for a minute or two more.  Scoop the squash flesh into the pot.  Add four cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so.

From here you take it off the heat.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, thinning it with up to 2 cups more chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Taste.  That’s kind of the problem here.  The most potent flavor in almost six cups of soup was 2 cloves of garlic.  That’s not a lot of flavor.

All of this is supposed to be pumped up by two teaspoons of chipotle chopped.  I used chipotle puree and put a lot more than two teaspoons.  It didn’t taste like much.  I added a Mexican spice blend that’s heavy on the cumin.  A little more garlic.  Salt.

It was OK.   The addition of the blob of sour cream with chipotle mixed in was nice.  It was still and exercise in blandness.  If you like bland or if you feel that you can jazz this up sufficiently to make it really good, then do make this soup.  It’s got to be pretty good for you, right?  It’s basically nothing but vegetables.  But, frankly, V8 has more flavor.

Arcodoro Pomodoro for Restaurant Week

I’ve come up with a new use for Restaurant Week.  We’ve gone out as a couple, with another couple and with a big group of friends.  It was all fun.  But, this year my friend Lori A and I decided that a girl’s night out might be a good idea for restaurant week.  Lori L and Cornelia came along and we super indulged at Arcodoro Pomodoro.  None of us had been there before.

I asked if we could see a normal menu, as well as the RW menu.  The hostess agreed to go get one and we never saw her again.  Whatever.  The RW menu looked fine.  Lori A ordered a bottle of Proscecco to start.  Perfect!  Our very good looking waiter was quite patient with us.  Unfortunately, no one can remember his name.  He was classically tall, dark and hansome.  He made recommendations, explained the dishes and kept our glasses full.  He gets an A+ for the evening.

The appetizers were not quite as stunning as he was.  I had the Isalata de Polipo e Bottarga.  This translates into a celery and fennel salad with tender octopus and slices of fresh bottarga drizzled with lemon olive oil dressing.  I was especially interested in the bottarga.  I’m still interested about it’s flavor because I couldn’t ever really identify its presence.  Let’s say the salad was refreshing.  Not bad, but not exciting.  Lori L and Cornelia had the Carpaccio di Manzo al Pesto di olive.  Cured carpaccio of Angus beef tenderloin with black pepper and sea salt, served over chopped romaine heart and cherry tomatoes, leccino olives and sundried pesto dressing.  The meat was sliced so thin you could see through.  Not that that is a bad thing.  But, Cornelia said that sauce and salad was lacking.  She suggested an accompaniment make-over was in order.  Lori L agreed.  Lori A ordered the Crostini de Melanzane e Mozzarella di Bufala.  This was described as Paesano bread crostini topped with orasted egglaant mousse and melted buffalo Mozzarell, served over arugula salad and fresh fig balsaba.  This place really knows how to make a dish sound good on the menu.  Lori A said it was disappointing and that she couldn’t even taste the eggplant mousse.  That’s a problem.  The wine pairing for this course was the same for all of us.  Lughente, Vermentino di Gallura.  It was good.  But, I was surprised that it was served with all three dishes.

On to the main course.  Lori A had the Paella Sarda, Sardinian style Paella made with Fregula pasta insted of rice, simmered in homemade lobster stock with a medly of seafood, calamari, clams, mussels, shrimp scallops and saffron.  I don’t usually like saffron.  But, I tasted her dish and the saffron was just right.  No saffron overkill.  Lori A pronounced it “yummy”.  It had tons of fresh seafood.  I was surprised by the amount of seafood actually.  It was also a very pretty dish.  Lori L and I both had the Salmone alla Saba e Rosmarino, fresh filet of Scottish salmon baked with Saba, rosemary, lemongrass and fresh dill.  Served with a fresh green bean and cherry tomato salad with a Fruttato olive oil saba sauce.  What they didn’t mention was the balsamic reduction sauce over the fish.  Lori L said the sauce and the fried beet chi on the salmon was the most memorable part of the dish.  I have to agree.  The salmon was well prepared, though I couldn’t help wishing I had the paella instead.  Cornelia had the Maccarrones de Puntzu alla Cagliaritana.  The dish was Arcodoro’s handmade semolina dumplings with white asparagus, sun dried tomatoes and mascarpone cheese.  Cornelia said it was to die for.  She’s a white asparagus girl.  I thought it was very tasty.  Something like a grown up mac and cheese.  We all had the pairing wine which was the 2008 Terra Saliosa. Tasted so good, we ordered a bottle for the table. 

Finally, dessert was served.  Lori A and I got the Seadas al Miele, a traditional Sardinian puff pastry filled with sweet cheese, lightly fried and drizzled with bitter honey.  Lori A said she expected the cheese would have been a little sweeter, but that the honey did the trick.  I agreed.  I’m not that big on really sweet desserts.  Cornelia got the Tiramisu Cioccolato, chocoalte sponge cake, topped with layers of mascarpone and ladyfingers, finished with thin cracked chocolate.   I tasted this and Cornelia was right, nothing special.  Lori L ordered the Fragolata al Mirto con Sorbetto al Limone.  This was a swwet strawberry salad topped with Mirto liqueur and lemon sorbet.  The good looking waiter told her it might not be lemon sorbet, maybe raspberry.  She ordered it anyway.  But, hey, it’s either lemon or it’s something else, right?  Wouldn’t they tell him what it was?  Turned out to “not lemon”.  She was a little bummed.

We really enjoyed our evening.  The most important part of the meal was the entree and we all agreed it was the best part.  It’s funny, because I asked around before going to Arcodoro and some people said it was really bad.  One guy even said to go to Pizza Hut instead.  Really?  I can’t even imagine how a person could say that.  It’s a beautiful dining room.  The food was good.  The service was great.  I have this theory…  I believe that some people only want “American” Italian food.  No red sauce?  Forget it.  I’m not that way.  In fact, I’m basically the opposite. 

Next year, I’m sure we’ll do another girls night.  We had a fabulous time!  And that nightcap at the Palomar wasn’t a bad idea either!

Big Old Shrimp

Hub scored these guys at the White Rock Local Market.  HUGE.  There really isn’t anything to show the scale in this photo.  But, that’s a pound and a half of shrimp marinating for a little over an hour in peanut oil, lime juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and red pepper flakes.  I cut each one down the back to remove the vein, but the shell stayed on.  I questioned whether the marinade would flavor the shrimp because the only way into the meat was that slit down the back.  It worked great.  The shrimp was very delicately flavored.

Hub prepares the grill.  The grating that he’s using to grill on is supposed to keep smaller items from falling through onto the fire.  There really wasn’t any chance that these babies could have fallen through.  They were too big.  Hub likes to use this grated surface when he grills fish.

On they go!


Yes, a pound and a half of head-on shrimp equals 12 individuals.  Hubbard had never grilled shrimp like this before.  You sure couldn’t tell when he was done.  The shrimp was fabulous!

I was afraid the meat would be chewy because of their size.  It was deliciously tender and reminded me a little of fluffy hunks of lobster.  He should have bought 10 pounds of them!

The End of the Belly Saga

It’s a great day.  My wireless is working again!  So, here’s a little recap of the pork belly process in pictures…

The brine ingredients sans water…

The lard…

The pork belly in the lard…

Then it went into a 200 degree oven for hours and hours.  Cooled.  Went into the fridge for days.  Finally, I pull it out of the lard.  Cut off the less thick end and cut it into some hunks…

Into a frying pan they go.  I brown the fatty side.  Then I stick the skillet into a 350 degree oven and leave the pork to cook a bit too long.  No need to panic, I’ve still got a big hunk left in the fridge submerged in lard.

It may be a bit overdone on the outside.  But, the inside is still tender and moist.  The flavor is fabulous.  All Hubbard said was, “yum” and promptly inhaled three pieces.

Would I do it again?  Yes.  For a dinner party it would be lovely to serve.  I think Kevin’s idea of serving it for a brunch dish is fantastic.  In fact, I may cook the other half today.  I can see a few hunks with a nice salad.  We went to the White Rock Farmer’s Market at Green Spot yesterday and purchased some fresh, homegrown Romaine lettuce, tomatoes and homemade Ranch dressing.  Add a little pork and I may well cry.


Ad Hoc Pork Belly Continued

It seems I’m not so stupid after all.  Ad Hoc’s Pork Belly Confit will keep in the lard it cooked in for a week.  That’s a good thing.  Because, while I got up and stuck it in the oven on Sunday, a short while later I was down for the day.  Hubbard and I went to brunch at The Grape and about the time my burger arrived (finally arrived) I was stuck with the urge to barf, faint or both.  I continued to be sick as a dog through Sunday and yesterday.  My fever has finally broken.  And my trusty Pork Belly is waiting in the fridge.  I guess I’ll try pressing it later tonight if I feel a little better.  I’m not quite up to eating it yet.  Hey, at least it’s not just ruined because I went down and couldn’t get back up!