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.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lunch at The Oven

Dear The Oven:

Remember when we first met? It was 1988 and my parents introduced us as part of my 12th birthday celebration, followed by the movie "The Last Emperor" starring Peter O'Toole. Weren't we sophisticated? Hahaha. I thought your curry was strange and I was embarrassed when my dad got angry at us for allowing one of your waitresses to take away his salad while he was in the bathroom. But I took one bite of your rice and knew I had to have more. I didn't know it then, but I was already falling in love with you.

In the early 90's I found myself glancing your way more and more. You were so sweet to me; you didn't mind that I wore my band shoes and over sized flannels everywhere I went. I discovered some of the foods you had to offer that fit my underdeveloped palette: Tandoori Chicken, Mango Lassis (yogurt smoothies), Pistachio Kulfi (ice cream)...

By the time I was in college, we had both gone through some changes: you adding your beautiful decor; me beginning a 4-year-long stint with vegetarianism. I found myself eating with you at least once a month, spending money I didn't have on all my favorite new dishes like Vegetable Curry, Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), and Matar Paneer. I couldn't afford you at the time, but your huge portion sizes somehow justified it to me. You taste even better the next day (wink!).

Then there was that fateful day that I ordered your paneer kulcha (flatbread stuffed with cheese and onion) for the first time. With my first taste of that spicy buttery bready goodness, I knew I had found my perfect food match. Were I to meet my end on death row, your Paneer Kulcha would be the last thing to pass my lips.

When I had lunch with you yesterday, more than twenty years after our first awkward encounter, I realized that I'm more in love with you than ever. Sure you have your little quirks that annoy me sometimes-- your mulligatawny soup sometimes has clumps of chickpea flour and you give me my leftovers in unmicrowavable styrofoam containers-- but I still can't resist you. Having lunch with you is a delight; your entrees are a bit cheaper (around $10) and a bit smaller, but every bit as delicious.

Sure I've strayed over the years, trying Indian food in other cities, but it's never the same, never quite as good. Every time I take a bite of your saffron-yellow rice, I'm twelve years old again, discovering a whole new world of culinary adventure, right here in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Love always,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Roost Really Wants Your Business!!!

After reading the review on Taste of Lincoln I thought I'd give Roost a shot.

I ordered the "Grape Escape" and my companion (Mom) ordered the "Presto Pesto." The sandwich that Buffmeat describes over at Taste of Lincoln is actually called "Ol' Red." So yeah, this place is kinda gimmicky.

I found this little gem nestled inside my sandwich wrapper:


A lot of people love gimmicky, I just don't happen to be one of them. What I do love is a delicious sandwich, and my "Grape Escape" was quite tasty. It really tasted like homemade chicken salad, which I've been craving ever since I read this. The toasted whole grain bread was pretty good too.

Yeah, I took a couple bites before I remembered to take the picture again

The "Presto Pesto"? Not so great. It was overly salted and the pesto tasted like it might be past its prime. What happened Mom? You used to be such a good orderer. People used to call you long distance for menu consultations. Poetry has been written about your ordering prowess. Has the student surpassed the teacher? Will you be calling me from your next vacation destination for help deciding between the soup or the salad?

Perhaps not.

I'd get down there fast cuz one of two things is bound to happen:

1. Roost will become a big corporate national chain and you'll want to brag about eating at the original.

2. You'll get a chance to try it before it goes the way of Pita Pit, Taco Bueno, Great Wraps...


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sunday Dinner: Veggies! Veggies! Veggies!

Thin-slices cucs, tomato, and red onion with Mom's favorite ingredient: seasoned rice wine vinegar

Eggplant, corn on the cob, and chicken legs with Cookie's BBQ sauce

Nice grill marks Dad!

I was delighted to discover a field of baby dill growing in the garden. I think dill is the greatest of all the herbs. Too bad it only grows like this for like, a day.


What did this place used to be? The camera shop, right? Has it been anything since? If you had your druthers, what will it be in the future?

North side of "O" street between Bodega's and Iguana's

Anyone who says "Sandwich shop" or "Bar that caters to college kids" will be shot.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bread and Cup

If you read about Lincoln food on the Internet, which I assume you do, you've already read everything there is to know about Bread and Cup. So I'm not gonna do a full review; I'll just show you the pretty pics and tell you that they have the best scone I've ever tried.

Note that the orange juice comes in a glass bigger than a thimble-- I love you Bread & Cup!