Friday, June 27, 2008

Lunch at St. E's

Talk about service! When I entered, I was ushered into my private dining room with a lovely view of East Lincoln.

My lovely servers set me up with my beverage right away.

The menu was limited: a big bowl of cream of tomato soup, mac and cheese, or BBQ beef on a crusty roll. I chose the mac and cheese with a cup of the soup, and a side of green beans and chilled peaches.

The soup was the Campbelliest, the beans the Green-Giantiest, and the peaches the Del-Montiest. The mac and cheese was kinda tangy.

My lunch may have had its issues, but how many servers take your dirty dishes, then check to make sure your heart rate and breathing sound okay? And they're soooo pretty too!

Sips 'n' Subs

I've been driving by Sips & Subs for years. It's on 33rd and B, right next to the pawn shop and across the street from the bike shop. I wanted to go someplace new and cheap on this day-- perfect.

Sips & Subs is a very casual place, as its name implies. It kind of reminds me of walking to the deli counter at Ideal when I went to Lincoln High to choose from their huge variety of sandwiches, except that Sips & Subs has a cute little dining room with '50s chrome tables. They serve soup, all-day breakfast, and ice cream as well.

The sandwich stop has a very small-town feel. The food is very simple, but toothsome, and the service is incredibly friendly. Most of the people there seemed like they go there every day. I got a half egg salad on sourdough and some coleslaw. Both were irreproachable: the egg salad was had a rustic, vinnegary taste and the bread was fresh-- youthful almost, the coleslaw was both creamy and tart. My friend got a cajun turkey sandwich with the works. I didn't try it, but she said it was charming.

Cute plates!

Next time you need a your bike fixed, or a used gun, stop into Sips & Subs for an appetizing meal.

Recipe Deal Breakers

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I'm back in the hospital this week, but I've got my camera, so I plan on posting some reviews of the lovely hospital food at St. Elizabeth's. In the meantime, my friend Sara sent me this article from the New York Times that got me thinking. There are certain recipes that I've always dreamed of making, but just can't. My worst experience was with Alton Brown's Buttercream. I imagined making cupcakes with big frothy tops of pastel colored buttercream. I swear I followed that recipe exactly three times and wasted what seemed like hundreds of dollars in butter. I finally had to admit to myself that I can't make anything that involves heating up sugar syrups to a certain color/temperature. It's a recipe deal breaker.

What are your recipe deal breakers?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Dinner: Fathers' Day

We decided to try out some recipes from Cook's Illustrated for Dad tonight: Grilled Shrimp and Tomato Salad.

I love using recipes from Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen because they always have some sort of funky new method that's fun to try.

To make the grilled shrimp, you have to pile up all the coals on one side of the grill so you have a hot side and a not-so-hot side. Put a pound and a half of shrimp on skewers, tops to tails, then brush them with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then sprinkle only one side with sugar for caramelization. Then you throw a half stick of butter, two lemons worth of lemon juice, three minced cloves of garlic, and some salt and crushed red pepper into a disposable pan and put it on the grill until and melts together. Move it to the not-so-hot side of the grill, then put the shrimp on the hot side.

You know how they say you should soak bamboo skewers in water before they go on the grill? Um, yeah... don't blow off this step.

When they're done, throw them in their hot buttery bath, and use the hot side to cook your corn or other sides.

Dad examines his corn. That hot side was a little bit hotter than we expected.

To make the tomato salad, you quarter two pints of tomatoes, then sprinkle some sugar and salt on them and let them sit for a half hour. The tomatoes then go into the salad spinner, which makes the juice and seeds go flying out. Drain the seeds out of the juice, then put it in a pan with a tablespoon of balsamic and a minced shallot. Reduce to three tablespoons, cool, then whisk in two tablespoons of olive oil. Mix tomatoes, dressing, 8 ounces of cubed buffalo mozzarella, and a bunch of chopped basil.

Put some chopped flat leaf parsley in the shrimp sauce before serving and eat it with crusty bread

For dessert we had kolaches. I made the dough last weekend and froze it. When we were ready for dessert I just filled them and threw them in the oven for ten minutes. If you make the recipe linked above, keep in mind that it makes a lot of kolaches-- like 4-5 pans. I shared mine with friends, so it worked out well.

I made cherry and apricot. The apricot tasted better, but the cherry was easier-- I just opened a can.

So there's a dinner for a guy who, when meeting a foreigner, attempts to speak their language of origin to them, who knows nothing about pop culture but loves to talk about it anyway, and who takes all my ribbing with love and good humor: my dad.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Dog House

After a morning of hitting the garage sales (found a Heywood-Wakefield head and foot board for $10-- w00t!), my friend suggested we try out The Dog House. I do love hot dogs.

The restaurant is really just a hole in the wall of the Sinclair gas station at 40th and A with a bench outside of it.

They have Nathan's kosher hot dogs and half pound hot dogs with a variety of ingredients. I got a Nathan's, done up Chicago style, but forgot to ask for no tomatoes. I'll have to wait until I go to Chicago in a few weeks to get the kind I really like with the florescent green relish, but this will tide me over until then.

My friend got the half pound chili dog, which needed to be consumed with a knife and fork. That thing has got to be bigger than a half pound. It was like a freakin' wall of flesh!

I don't really have anything else to say, except that I've noticed that most people who make a living selling hot dogs are really nice people: the folks that man the little hot dog carts outside the bars on weekend nights are always so nice to the drunk folks, the people at The Dog House donate all their tips to the Humane Society... Hot dog people are good people.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Americanized Mexican: OSO and Taco Inn

I've had Americanized Mexican food twice in as many days and was happy with both experiences. Last night I ate at OSO, and today I had Taco Inn.

OSO (forgot my camera):

I love love love fish tacos, but I was craving OSO's soft flour tortilla, so I got the mini fish burrito. I love that the offer a mini burrito, since the regular size is just too big and some people (ahem) can't control themselves. I have a problem with branching out when I go to OSO, but I hear that their curry tofu burrito is excellent (my friend Katie swears by it). What do you like to order at OSO? They also have a nice atmosphere and a good selection of Mexican beers. It rivals Yia Yia's as the best place to eat, drink, and people-watch on a summer evening in Lincoln.

Taco Inn:

Taco Inn is my favorite fast-food-Americanized taco joint. During my drinking days, nothing cured a hangover better than a big mess of nachos made with the flour chips. If I had to describe Taco Inn in three words they would be cheap, local, and satisfying.

"A Lincoln Original since 1976"-- just like me!

My friend ordered the chicken enchilada, one of my favs. It's a little flour tortilla stuffed with chicken and cream cheese and smothered in enchilada sauce and is totally worth the heartburn it gives you. The $5 chicken enchilada meal is a crap-ton of food.

Sorry about the blurry pics

I ordered a taco and the combo burrito. The burrito was...meh. It was just a tortilla wrapped around some beans and taco meat. For some reason I thought there was supposed to be more stuff in there. I should have read the menu more closely. The taco was delicious as always. I think they're the best Americanized tacos I've ever had-- far better than Taco Bell or Taco John's. The meat is fresh and not too greasy, the shell is always light and crunchy, and there's always a good quantity of cheese. Their kick-ass taco sauce makes them even better. I eat it at a ratio of 2-3 packets per taco.

Neither of these places are as good as a good authentic place like Super Taco, but they aren't the same thing. If you're in the mood for a good old fashioned hard shell taco or a great big burrito filled with international specialty ingredients, both of these places are nice to have around.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lunch in Omaha: La Buvette

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days. I've been in a bit of a funk, mostly due to tapering off a medication (Prednisone) that made me happy and hungry. I tried to pull myself out of it with a trip to one of my old favorites, La Bouvett in the Old Market, which worked fairly well, but I still don't feel like writing much. I will say this-- go to La Buvette on a nice day when you have a lazy afternoon to kill, not in the time between a blood draw and doc's appointment at UNMC. Good food takes time to prepare and eat.

Located on 11th, across from Spaghetti Works and Upsteam

You can choose from lots of wine by the glass, or pick something out from their wine shop and pay a corking fee

I love places that have lots of specials

Their hummus isn't as good as mine or anything, but it's pretty good. Their bread, baked on the premises, is as good as Le Quartier

This plate of melon and prosciutto momentarily brought my appetite back.