Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
It is that time of year which this Mad Meat Genius celebrates his birth date. I have been known to stretch this holiday out for a whole month. This year I have been on the down low and am trying to limit all frivolous extraneous extra curricular announcements of said event. My sister; 'The President of Cookies came over yesterday and delivered a pre-birthday present of some chocolate covered bacon. These cocoa covered cured swine treats are even differently flavored with maple and with hot pepper goodness. Yummy. Since you asked; my birthday is tomorrow February 27.
Saturday, February 23, 2019
I may have been Italian in a different time. If hanging out in Italian Social Clubs is an indicator of Italian heritage, so be it. I am not Italian but I have gone to five dinners at four different Italian clubs this month. Last night I went to “The Monte Cristo Club” in San Francisco. This was a first time visit and boy was it a fun adventure. The adventure started with just making it to the City with Friday traffic. The second challenge was parking. My parking karma helped me find a spot one and a half blocks away. If you have ever experienced parking in San Francisco you would consider this a victory.
The Monte Cristo is located in the Protrero Hill neighborhood. This area located on a hill has lots of old Victorians with some light industry business mixed in. The club is on a residential street with no visible marking. In fact the only indicator present is a lighted bright red door. Open this door and you step into a private club that is a step back into time. The door is open and the noise is loud. You need to make your way through the crowd of older Italian men who almost all have a cocktail in hand. The bar is crowded with a cast of characters that could be extras for an Italian movie. We have several minutes before dinner and you can see the long dining hall with its checkered table clothes. The shrimp salad and antipasto are beckoning for you to enjoy.
The dinner bell is rung and the mad dash begins. We all have assigned tables to sit with our member sponsors. Bottles of Italian wine are ready to be poured. We finish our delicious salad and are looking forward to the seafood pasta to come. Shrimp, mussels and clams in a fragrant seafood sauce adorns the pasta. Little bowls of parmesan cheese are there if you want to break the silly rule of no cheese with fish.
The main course is cioppino, a fragrant tomato broth filled with plenty of fresh seafood. Dungeness crab, scallops, mussels, clams and shrimp make this a rich and flavorful stew. There is plenty of famous San Francisco sourdough bread to mop up any and all broth. We were provided with plastic bibs to make sure we did not wear this cioppino.
The dinner was complete except for a little ice cream cup, coffee and shot of brandy. What a fantastic meal. The ambiance, venue and people of the Monte Cristo club are a very special treat. I feel privileged to be invited and participate at this exclusive Italian Social Club. I am getting hungry all over again writing about last night.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
It is a Sunday afternoon and we are in Martinez, California watching a play. The play ends and we are hungry. Troy Greek Cuisine is a block away and it sounds inviting. Greek Cuisine will be a new experience for us. Parking karma is not needed today because we are already parked and will brave the full block walk from the theater.
Troy Greek Cuisine is a small chain restaurant with four other locations. It is a warm feeling restaurant with an open kitchen. There is a heated outdoor seating area which was full of families enjoying their meals. We choose indoor seating and are greeted immediately. We started our meal with an appetizer of Spanakopita. These are spinach and feta cheese wrapped in filo dough and deep fried. They are served with a tratziki yogurt type sauce. They are fine tasting that are not high on the wow factor. They do get our interest and taste buds ready for the main course.
Beef Souvalki sounds like a safe choice for me. Charbroiled rib-eye steak on a skewer served with vegetables, rice or salad and a tratziki sauce is perfectly satisfying. Once again this plate was perfectly fine but just did not excite. There was a couple of house made hot sauces that I did enjoy spicing up this dish. Ms. Goofy had a gyro wrap which is a sort of Greek style burrito. Her dish followed the theme of tonight's dinner. It was fine but nothing to write home about.
Monday, February 18, 2019
We tried out a easy convenient tortellini product from Giovanni Ranna. I would like to say it is easy and fast to prepare and it tastes great. Ms. Goofy made a cream sauce with ham and mushrooms to make this a satisfying weekday dinner meal. The filling of these little pasta pillows is cheese & uncured bacon. Did I say bacon? Yes, and it is uncured. Here we go. There is no such thing as uncured bacon by definition. Merriam Webster defines bacon as; "a side of a pig cured and smoked". The government has allowed manufacturers to call bacon uncured if they uses celery juice extract which has natural occurring nitrates/nitrates which ultimately cures the pork. As you may have gathered that this is a personnel pet peeve of mine. It is cured pork and it is bacon. By the way, you really could not taste bacon in the tortellini. It did have a meaty cheesy flavor and was enjoyed by all.
That is my Monday rant. Have a great week.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
"Check Please" is a local PBS television show that showcases restaurants around the Bay Area. This is a valuable resource to find new and fun dinning establishments. Antipastos by DeRose was featured and is a deli in San Jose who also happens to be a meat market. The icing on the cake was they make home made raviolis. Say no more. We jumped into the racing Honda and braved the rain soaked highways to carefully travel to Antipastos.
We pulled up to a fairly nondescript building with some neon beer signs adorning the windows. Parking Karma was not needed today because they had their own lot. It was pretty full when we left. Once inside we were a little overwhelmed with the layout of this place. There were meat cases with plenty of choices of quality beef, pork and seafood. There was also a refrigerator case showcasing mulitple beers with a great selection of micro-beers. A small counter in front of a smally tiny kitchen that also had a hot tablle of prepared food. Where do we start? I broke the man-code and asked a clerk for directions. He explained the ordering procedures.
There are so many choices for lunch and dinner. One can order prepared pastas, soups, salads, and make a deli sandwich with any combination they can think of. One can pick a steak from the meat case and they will cook it for you for market price plus five dollars. This was the option I chose. I also had to try the house made ravioli. I was getting excited. Ms. Goofy ordered minestrone soup, steak sandwich and a micro-beer that was freshly poured from the tap. You pay at the small counter and they will bring your meal to the table.
Ms.Goofy went on and on how great her thick and hearty minestrone soup was. It was more of a thick meaty sauce type gravy that was studded with soft vegetables. She really liked her steak sandwich and could only eat half of it. The seating in Antipastos is a little haphazard. Tables are located throughout the deli.You are sitting right next to the beer case or display shelves lined with lots of imported Italian food products. The owners are definitely Oakland Raider football fans evident by the football memorabilia on the wall.
The steak was grilled to a perfect medium rare. They seasoned it with a really flavorful rub that made for a flavorful bite. The raviolis were little pillows of comforting joy that had a meaty interior that made you crave the next bite. These were a treat. They were a tad overcooked but that did not stop me from finishing the plate and going to the counter to order some to go. They were that good.
Antipastos is a great place for a meal or to pick up some steaks to go. Steaks and raviolis are a combination that makes me swoon. There are so many food choices that we would have no problem returning to sample more. We both enjoyed our food choices today. The house raviolis are special. Ms. Goofy could spend a lot of time sampling all the different micro-beers. There is a slight problem for us,unfortunately Antipastos is over an hour away from our house and with Bay Area traffic that is a conservative time. If we are in the neighborhood this is a must stop destination.
Monday, February 11, 2019
Let me explain how cooking classes work at Italian Social Clubs. One must drink lots of wine, eat and then repeat. No sooner had you stepped in the door and Tony our instructors first command was to fill up your wine glass and grab some cheese. Big rounds of parmesan, pecorino Romano and to mix it up slices of Swiss cheese were available . How did Swiss cheese make it into the Ligure club?
We settled in and Tony demonstrated how to season and prepare three different kinds of salume. One was pork tenderloin using a wet cure. Another was a pork loin using a dry cure. Last, Tony made a sausage made out of ground pork. He made it look so easy. He said it also helped to have a wine cellar to hang your salume for the aging and curing procedure. Now it was time to sample some of Tony’s homemade salume that he had made several months earlier. This was a treat.
Of course after sampling home cured salume it was time to eat and imbibe some more. The club served us spaghetti with three choices of toppings. Marinara sauce, tomato and garlic or olive oil w/cheese, garlic bread and Cesar salad was a very satisfying lunch.
This is my kind of cooking class. It probably should have been called an eating class with a little salume knowledge thrown in. I am not sure I am going to make salume right away. I may have to build the wine cellar first.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Maybe I am just easily amused? Witnessing the simple act of sweeping crumbs off a fine linen topped table after a lavish meal makes my day complete. It signals the end of the entrée round and gives you a new clean palette to experience the finale of dessert. When we go to a fine dining establishment we have certain expectations. We demand good food and service. Sometimes it is the waiter and sometimes the busboy. There are bonus points if these servers are wearing bolero jackets.
I have developed a mischievous habit of leaving wayward crumbs on the table to test the server’s level of indulgence and hospitality. I am happy to say we were not disappointed last night at Flemings Prime Steakhouse. The table was cleared by both the busboy and waiter but the wayward crumbs remained. A brief anxious moment occurred until the waiter returned and deftly swept and professionally removed my strategically placed crumbs. This is what fine dining is all about. It is not just great food but the whole experience and we were satisfied.
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse runs a three course special on Tuesdays's consisting of a 35 ounce bone-in USDA Prime Rib-Eye steak. It is sold at a reasonable price as far as high end steakhouses go. We decided to indulge with this Tuesday extravagance. We are no strangers to Fleming's and were excited to have a great meal
One has a choice of salads, side dishes and deserts. They even let Ms. Goofy swap out her salad for a decadent cheesy French onion soup. I had a chopped salad and a side of mushrooms. Ms. Goofy French onion soup and some cheesy potatoes. Our dilemma was to choose desserts.
It was not really a problem choosing these two wonderful desserts. The real dilemma was would we share with each other. We did and they were fantastic. The steak was perfectly medium rare as ordered. It was very rich, beefy and full of corn fed bliss.. This is a great way to indulge on a Tuesday evening.
Monday, February 4, 2019
There was a football game yesterday. None of our teams were involved. Is it wrong to want to see the champions New England Patriots dethroned?. It was a defensive game which in not fan friendly unless you are a dedicated defensive game loving freak. What was great yesterday was the friends, fun and of course food we shared at the Galileo Club in Richmond California. Ms. Goofy and I watched part of the game and wanted to share some of the snacks we had. Pull up a potato chip and let's dip in.
This was a pot luck type of affair. The club provided the venue, no host bar and some hot dogs but the bulk of the food was home made and delicious. One member actually made chili in the parking lot with his dutch oven. Now that is impressive.
It is half-time and the entertainment was, let just say we were not entertained but it was time to eat and imbibe a little more. We did not make it to the end of the game possibly because of the bore factor but more likely our stomachs were very full and the couch sounded very inviting. There was a highlight of this game and it was the third quarter and final score of 3-3. A hundred people play and are assigned numbers for both teams which are the last digits of the football score. If the numbers come up they are paid for for the lucky player who has them. Guess who had 3-3?