Saturday, May 30, 2009

Almost Heaven…Bistro Twenty Seven…

So yesterday was a great but jumbled mess. Earlier in the week we had been invited to movie night at a friends house. At the time I was really frustrated about trying to line up a babysitter for a future engagement to seemingly no avail, that I had turned down the invitation simply because I just didn’t have it in me to try and line a sitter up for another outing because it was seemingly an impossible task. Cue hot hubbie...

So, Friday afternoon Joel calls me up and says, “So you feel like a movie tonight?” Thinking he meant a rental I said, “Sure what did you have in mind?” He says, “Whatever they are playing at movie night.” Huh???? So he goes on to say that one of the sitters we called a week ago to try and line up for this engagement in June finally called back (we had since lined someone up). So Joel asks if she is free for that evening and she was. So sweet…such a man….I then had to explain that these people were not planning on us (they were also serving dinner and had other guests attending), and to call the day of to say, “Hey….lucky you… we are coming!” would be rude. Sigh. However, big kiss and bravo for the effort. So then he says, “Well, then would you like to go on a date with me?” Swoon. Really, how could a girl resist? So it was a date. He picked Bistro 27 and I was glad. We had been once before and I adored it so I put back the leftover pizza I was going to eat for lunch (mind you it was 3 in the…sigh…) and made a small salad to tide me over.

Where to begin. It never ceases to amaze the restaurants that seem to get a ton of hype and play while the ones I find the be the best in town get a nod at best. This is one. So let me lay it out for you…..

Joel calls to make reservations. They guys says to him, “What time?” Joel responds, I am guessing more thinking out loud than anything like he typically does, “I don’t know…7:15, 7:30? We would like to have a drink at the bar and ease into the evening.” They guys puts us down for 7:15. This should have been perfect, the sitter was coming at 6:30 which means we could be there by quarter till 7 and have nice slow drink at the bar. However, it did not happen like that. The babysitter was a little late, our son was being clingy our daughter wouldn’t go to sleep, you know…life was happening. That said we make it to our 7:15 reservation by the skin of our teeth. When we get there and give the host our name he asks if we will be sitting at the bar. I think we look a little confused , and he says, “I thought you were the person that called and wanted to sit at the bar and have a drink and ease into the evening.” Joel said, “I did, however, we are running late. “ He tells us we have time and to go ahead. At that point I was impressed. Impressed he remembered or made note of it. Impressed. I don’t know if he is the manager or the owner, but he clearly is someone who takes great care in making his patrons happy. I don’t expect that level of care, but it certainly impressed me and was nice.

So, we sit our happy behinds at the bar. I have a martini. I love martinis (as many of you know by now) but I hate to order them (as many of you know by now) because everyone puts too much olive juice in. This has lead me to asking flat out for just a tiny bit, and still sometimes all I get is an olive juice spritzer. So now I feel like Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally ordering a martini and I hate that. So I ordered it and I am sure the cute little bartender thought I was a pain, but he was super sweet and could not have been more accommodating. I have to say it was the best martini….EVER. Joel turns to me while I moan and says, “Almost as good as mine.” That man does make a mean martini. Sheepishly I had to say, “Better.” I think I hurt him a little. However, his bourbon took the edge off I am sure!

We had our drinks and then were seated. From here I will short hand the evening a bit. The service was great. The host/manager/possible owner (Ken is his name by the way…when you go… and you NEED to go!) checked on us several times. The waitress was stealth, unobtrusive by on top of things. The setting is lovely. I could go on, but you get the idea. We order the Carpaccio di Manzo as an appetizer to split. Joel ordered the Spring Beet Salad and Ravioli di Manzo e Fontina. I ordered the Fillet with Black Truffles. I don’t even know where to began. Really. I have said before that I am not the girl to talk about the notes in the food, at the end of the day, for me it is a simple..good..bad. All I can say is……GOOD. Grunt inducing, lick your plate, smack your husbands hand for trying to snag something, I think I might cry…GOOD. I don’t want to belabor things by breaking down every bite I had. The fillet was huge. It had a beautiful char on the outside but was still blood red on the inside (like I like…grrr.). The truffle was rich, earthy and lovely. The Beet Salad (my husband was nicer than I and shared) was just one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. In fact at some point, I told Joel the salad was… and I am a bit embarrassed to say this… the salad was making love in my mouth. Shut up… you would have to have it… it was THAT good. His ravioli was amazing. I said I wouldn’t belabor this and I am… spot on. That is all I can say… everything was spot on.

Dessert was amazing too. Joel got a Crème Caramel and I had the Monte Rosa Italian Cheesecake. Joel’s dessert was amazing, but let me just tell you about mine for half a second. It was perfection. That is it… all I have to say.

Let me just end this spewing of happiness by talking turkey. Cost. I find Bistro 27 to be a bargain. Their entrees rang from $13-$22 dollars. It seems to me that the going rate at most descent restaurants in Richmond is more like $18-$29, however that $18-$29 doesn’t typically get you the level of service and quality I think Bistro 27 is offering. Just like my husband said when he met me, it is just the whole package.

So Richmonders (or anyone willing to travel)if you have not been…go to Bistro 27 and get some mouth love making food. Now. Your mouth will thank you…sigh..

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flat Iron Steak Meets Homemade Ricotta….Mmmm

Okay so we took a cheese class at The complete Gourmet. So fun and I found myself shocked…shocked I say at how simple it is. Ricotta could NOT be easier. It is simply milk, heat and some citric acid, strain, viola. I added some chopped parsley and garlic to the ricotta. I filleted the steak, smeared the ricotta mixture, rolled, seasoned (garlic, salt pepper) , threw it in a backing dish, doused with a about ¼ for red wine and baked at 350% for 30 minutes. Yummm, yummy, yummy.

As an added bonus the cheese makes large amounts a whey and whey is great to soak brown (or any type you like) rice in and make a rice salad out of it. It gives it a great richness (I learned this trick from my handy friend Ellie). The rice had chopped onion, squash carrots and fennel top and rice wine vinager to taste. It was out of this world.

So no real recipes, but super easy and good. Expect to see more cheese in the future…now to get some goat milk…

Again, don’t forget to stop by and see the contest winner, Give Recipe . Her blog is incredible!

And the Winner Is….

Please go by and say congrats to Zerrin at Give Recipe .
She won not only the recipe contest but the contest for the evening folks would most like to join. She has a wonderful blog full of Turkish lovelies. The food is amazing and the pictures are gorgeous!

Thanks for participating to everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cheese! The Polls End Today!

Okay, first let me just remind you…the contest ends in like 11 hours (and may I say some smoked loin is at stake folks) so get voting. Go visit these posts and then please come back and vote!

So coming up soon you will see a piece of flat iron steak that I stuffed with ricotta…that I made. Yep you heard me. Made it! Joel and I took a cheese making class and it was super. We learned out to make a farmers cheese, mozzarella and a ricotta. I was amazed at how easy it can be. Sadly I didn’t need anything to encourage me to eat MORE cheese, but alas… a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

River City Supper Club Strikes Again

Saturday was another installment of the River City Supper Club and Joel and I hosted. We decided to do Tapas. We lucked out and it was a great evening to eat outdoors which always makes me happy.


Serrano ham, Rosy Goat, Olives


Quince paste crackers with bacon and goat cheese, Paella Croquets, Ceviche, Tuna Empanadas with goat cheese and capers, Stuffed Anaheim’s, Pinchitos Morunos (small spicy Moorish kebabs), Ensaladilla Rusa (Spanish potato salad).


Pan de Calatrava

For the most part everything came out well. The nice thing is we were able to make most things either the day before or before everyone got there then put in the oven to keep warm. This allowed us to actually enjoy our guests. Sadly, neither I nor Joel thought to cover the Kebabs and since they were the last course, they were a bit dried out by then. The flavor was still okay… but a little more jerky that succulent! Oh well, a lessoned learned.

It was another evening with lost time. We had messy kitchen as clear evidence that a good time was had by all. Oddly I love a messy kitchen at the end of a great evening… it gives me time to clean it and digest the evening. Saturday, however it was about 1 a.m. and the kids would be up in 5 you think we cleaned it up before bed??

Nahhh, this would wait until morning. There would be plenty of time to relive the evning tomorrow!

Please remember to vote! Voting ends Friday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apologies Poll's Are Up!

First, the poll is up so please go to the following blogs and then come back and vote for your favorite dish and also for the evening you most would have liked to have been a part of.

Also, I want to let everyone know I am either having problems with my site or with my computer. I keep getting a run error and the page will shut down. It has made posting really hard and visiting other blogger sites (issue is only in blogger)very hard. So that said, can you please e-mail me and let me know if you are having an issue with blogger or my site to help me pinpoint the issue!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Contest Ends Tomorrow

Just a reminder that you have to get your entry to me by midnight tomorrow. I will put up the poll for voting after that! For more information see this post

Right now there is just two entry's so come on guys!!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trader Joes Pizza Dough

Okay I have been reading and here about this pre-prepared pizza dough for a while now and I was at Trader Joes the other day and decided to get some. I am going to try it again, but at first blush I didn’t love it. I like mine better. The big problem I had is I cooked it far longer then the recipe called for (and for as long as my toppings could hold out) but it was still doughy especially in the middle, and that was flat out soggy (if you look at the picture close enough you can see how it feel apart when I took it off the pizza stone). However, you can’t beat the ease and the flavor was fine. I think next time I will just  bake a bit then add toppings and continue…. We will see.

I am not giving you a recipe for this because… well it was a pizza. The sauce was a cilantro pesto (just make your regular pesto recipe but use cilantro. Also I sometimes substitute almonds for the pine nuts or walnuts but any are fine), then I added onion, shrimp and some fresh basil and of course cheese!! I think next time I would skip the basil (not bad, didn't add anything since the cilantro took center stage) but add feta…yummy.

**Update:  Since this post a friend turned me on to the perforated pizza pan.  I still recommend pre-baking the crust prior to adding toppings, but the pan was a game changer!

Remember 5 more days until you have to have your entry's to me for the contest!! Go over and see Chef E's and Kristen's post. Chef E and Kristen

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peach Martini Comeback

My peach martini (actually my Dad’s) got selected by the Lisa over at the Lunch Box Project. The above artwork is her take on my martini. If you don’t know what that is, go check out her cool blog at http://lunchboxproject.blogspot.comIt is such a cool and unique food blog and I am psyched my little martini made its way on it.

To add to the greatness of this, she is offering the chance for my readers to buy it at a reduced price (just $45) for the next two months. If you are interested go to her site and let her know, heck just go to her site at or you can contact her directly at ( Her artwork is AMAZING and I feel so lucky she let me be a part of it all.

The contest is just starting to heat up! We have our first two entry’s. The first is from Chef E and the next from Kristen You have to go check them out, not only did they make the best dishes they had the best time, and lets face it that is what it was about! So go check them out and remember you have until the 25th and then the polls go up!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicken Pita and Cilantro Corn

I have to say upfront, this corn is NOT my idea. Some time back I was watching some cooking show and the guy made this crazy good looking corn. I can not remember who the chef was (it WAS quite a while ago), but I am thinking maybe Bobby Flay. The chef did some other things, like squeezing lime on top and sprinkling with chili powder. I however keep it far more simple. Well simple comparatively, really butter and salt is simple. Was it worth the extra effort. For sure! It was good. I wouldn’t do it every time, but I WILL do it again.

The pita is nothing really to write home about. It was great, it is just not too hard to figure out. We grilled the chicken (and the corn) and put it in a Mediterranean style pita (much thinner pita than what we typically have around here). Then tomatoes and onion, some salsa. The only thing a bit different is I put the leftover cilantro “spread” in the guacamole. SO GOOD!!

So lets get to it.

Cilantro Sauce/Spread

In a food processor processes

1 cleaned bunch of cilantro
¼ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt
½ lemon squeezed
Salt and pepper

Prepare your corn. We grilled if you boil, dry well. Slather with spread, then grate parm on it. Grate some fresh pepper. Eat…yummy…

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shoot Out Friday

Okay this is not my typical post. I am going to very, very loosely tie this back to food. Chef E at Chef E had a Friday Shoot Out. Many may know her from her food blog but his is yet another endeavor of that amazing women. I thought it would be fun to try. This weeks theme was Gardens and Transportation.

I thought I would tell you a bit about my house and yard. Our house was built somewhere around 1915 (records vary on it). Our house had at some point fallen into a bit of neglect, as many homes in the city had. Lucky for us our house was bought and renovated entirely by the gal before us. God love that women. That said, the one area that was neglected when we purchased it was the yard. So I got to work… and it got out of hand. We have a huge yard (by city standards, about 1/3 and acre) and I just kept going. This year I decided, however as opposed to planning annual in the bare spots in the yard, I was filling it with veggies, and herbs. So in the flower beds went tomatoes, and around the bamboo steaks for the tomatoes went green beans, and in the beds went lettuce, and swiss chard, and eggplant, and butternut squash and cantaloupe, and so on.

So this year I am making my yard work a bit harder for me. And if all my veggies come in… you might just see me off loading some at the Westover Hills farmers market. Sadly I doubt Tristan's tricycle coudl get them all to market.

This are of the yard is new. In the next several years as the tree mature, this should close off this area of the yard from neighbors, foot traffic and the other areas of the yard, creating a private room. The trees got whomped by our one and only snow. We have got around to staking a couple but more to go. Right now they look all wonky.

Same area of the yard looking towards the house.

Different flowers in these beds.

These peonies were dug up from my grandfathers yard in NJ, he passed a start to my mom, she passed it to me and I will pass it on the my babies. It amazes me sometimes, the threads we keep.

My favorite place on my front porch to sit and talk to my great neighbor. Lucky for me it is right near the Jasmine, that smells so good!

Now go and visit some other ‘Friday Shoot Out’ Possee:

Reggie @ Midlife and Menopause
Patty @ Crisfield News
Chef E

Contest and One Great Evening

Okay guys it is 10 days until the deadline for the contest and it is time to announce the prize. I will be sending you a selection of my two favorites things from Bende. This includes Tarhonya Egg Noodles (this are dense little noodles similar to spaetzle, but packed with fiber surprisingly?), and smoked boneless pork loin (this is great for cooking with to add flavor as it is super smoky or for slicing super thin and serving with cheese). If anyone that enters is a vegetarian, let me know and I can come up with an alternative for you. So remember to get entry in to me in the next 10 days. For more details

***UPDATE** I forgot about the secondary contest, as to the evening someone would most like to be a part of. Whoever wins that will receive a collection of recipe cards from me, containing my favorite recipes (some not on the blog).

So in keeping with the theme of the contest Joel and I decided to do little entertaining ourselves. There is a couple whom we really enjoy spending time with. Sadly, to this point, we had not had them to our house for drinks/food. I decided it was time to put and end to that and invited them on over. As is a bit typical of me, I went a bit overboard with the food. I will see something and think, “Oh that will be perfect.” or “I think they would really enjoy that.” Before I know I have enough to feed army.

So here was the spread…..

We had St. Andre and this wonderful truffle pate that I got at Trader Joes (God I love that place). Got to love the pipe coming up from the coutner. Ahh the joy of near 100 year old houses!!

These are dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. I should have used a toothpick to secure the bacon (this was thicker bacon that I useally use so didn’t stay in place as well.) We also had some kielbasa from Fresh Market that I coated in honey and stone ground mustered and broiled. Just an aside the kielbasa was okay but looked and tasted like knockwurst to me?

We enjoyed a plate of Humbolt Fog (a personal favorite) and aged gruyere, with a rosemary ham (also from Trader Joes.)

We had wine and vodka gimlets and a wonderful time. After seeing them off we were shocked to see it was 12:30!! It had been such a perfect evening I thought it was more like 10:00 when we came in and could not believe my eyes to see I lost 2.5 hours. But… what a great way to loose them!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Radish Salad

First, thank you to everyone that commiserated with me over the less than stellar birthday dinner. It however, did not ruin my birthday (after all I had a couple drinks on what ended up being an empty stomach… how bad can a girl feel after that?).

I saw some radishes at the market the other day and they just looked so pretty and that is where this was born. It is really fresh and despite the mayo really light.

5-6 large radishes
1 medium yellow squash
½ small jicama
½ green pepper
½ c Lettuce mix chopped
Fennel top
2 tbs mayo
Juice of ½ large lemon
Salt, pepper

Chop first 4 ingredients finely. ( I will note, what would have been really good in this were some spicy micro greens that friends of ours sell at the farmers market, that said, I just used a nice lettuce mix that had beet greens and such in there. ) I chopped the lettuce very “loosely” you could forgo the chopping, it really is up to you.

Here is another note. The night I made this salad we were also having fennel for dinner. I chopped some of the fennel green and put it in the salad. I put in about 2 chopped tablespoons. I don’t know that it made a difference. Next time I would try more. I also think dill or as my husband suggested fresh mint would be outstanding.

Finally toss with mayo and lemon and salt and pepper. If you feel particularly inspired grate some fresh lemon peel on it, one or two stokes should do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

64 Reasons to Skip Kitchen 64

Okay, okay, so 64 reasons is a slight exaggeration. Slight. But the way I see it I have quite a few. Let me however, start at the beginning.

Saturday last minute we decided to go out to dinner for my birthday (read that as a perplexed husband looking at me saying, “Oh, so you want to DO something for your birthday?” Uhhh… yeah..something like that.) And as is our typical dilemma we wanted to eat outside but were not sure where to go. This leads me to a side note, since this is a constant issue for us, I have considered starting a blog specifically dedicated to outdoor dinning in Richmond. Other then Legends, which has terrible food (but great beer) and Havana 59, I am always at a loss for where to go. So if anyone has suggestions, let me know! I digress, so I began to search for places and after a while we settled on Kitchen 64. I had read several good reviews on Richmond Good Life and the menu looked great. I did have one fellow food blogger tell me he thought it was “over rated.” We decided overrated is okay, so long as it isn’t bad.

We arrived at 6:45 and as expected, it was packed. We waited at the bar to be seated and it was about a 20 minute wait, which I didn’t think was terrible considering how packed they were. It wasn’t quite what I wanted when I want outdoor dinning. The outdoor section is under a huge canopy, and they have removable plastic “walls.“ I realize the canopy allows them to seat outside in the rain, however, it also holds in all the noise and blocks out all the air, so I ended up feeling like I was indoors, just close to a window. So first note to myself, “This is not a place to come to when I feel like being outside. “

We ordered mussels as an appetizer. Joel ordered a Gus burger ( a burger with a fried egg on it) medium rare. I originally ordered crab cakes, but when I heard the waitress tell the table next to us that they had a special of soft shell crab (she had neglected to give us the specials) I asked if I could switch. The mussels came out and it was a huge bowl. I was excited to dig in. however, the first mussle tasted really funny. Joel said the same of his. Then I got a terrible smell. I said, “Joel these are spoiled.” My dear husband ate another. He said he thought it was okay. He did not say it with confidence. I picked up another and smelled it and just about gagged. We waited about 10 minutes to tell the waitress (though the waitress came to the tables on either side of us and we tried to flag her both times) finally the smell was so bad, Joel just took them to the bar and got them away from us. The waitress finally came over but didn’t say anything (just a note: later she did say, she checked and the mussels had come in that day, so they were sure why they were spoiled?) .

Then our entrées came. Joel’s burger, was very, very well done. Otherwise he said it was good, but he was only able to finish ¾ of it because it just started to get too dry too eat. The fries were really good. My soft shell crab. What to say?? First the sauce was terrible. It was sour, with no balance. It was bitter. It just wasn’t good. It was a white wine, caper sauce, I don’t know how you mess that up, but it was bad. However, that I could have lived with. I just fished my crab out and went to savor its succulent little self. However, my soft shell crab…. was not soft. It wasn’t soft-ish. It was not chewable. Literally.

There are just certain things I find unforgivable with a restaurant. I will forgive not loving how you prepared the food. Everything else being okay, I might come back and try another dish. I can forgive a not great server, if I think they were an exception and not a rule at a restaurant. I will forgive the noisy din that makes conversation hard, I just might not come back for a romantic date, but rather a girls night out. However, I absolutely, unequivocally draw the line at being served food that has spoiled. There are several things about the mussels that bother me. First, the chef or the server should have been able to tell they smelled off and not served them. I know seafood can spoil quickly, but I expect a restaurant to be using such fresh ingredients and handling it with such integrity that I should never have to worry about getting sick form what they feed me. I just think it is negligent, and shows a lack of quality or concern for their patronage. My thought is if you don’t care about serving safe food, you don’t care about my money. The soft shell crab I am not sure how I feel. I couldn’t tell you how to pick a good soft shell over one that is a bit too old to be considered “soft”. I just always ask my local fish monger if they are good. They have always been very honest with me. Maybe this restaurant has a bad monger. Maybe they just don’t care. After the total experience, I suspect the latter. The reality is they are packed (though for the life of me, I don’t know why???) and making money hand over fist, so what do they care.

So was there any positive? Yes, their drinks were very reasonably priced and large servings, which frankly was very well needed because it was the only caloric intake I was getting that evening. Also the waitress did not charge us for either the mussels or the soft shell crabs. So, I guess that was good????

If you live on that area of town, go to Taste buds, go to Dots, skip Kitchen 64. If you don’t live on that side of town, don’t make the trip.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day Bagels

Joel ordered some pictures for me for mothers day. I had totally forgot about this day a while back when I made my own bagels. I have to say they were really easy and so very good. I did nothing fancy, but next time I am going to break bad. The kids could not get enough of them.

I love these pictures because we are playing around and having fun. Joel had had them out in their little pool while I made the bagels. They came in naked and hungry. Both crawled up into my lap to get closer to the bagels and thief one. I had to punish them with tickles and kisses. Something I don’t feel I get to do near enough for them.

So here is wishing you yummy bagels and lots of laughs on mothers day.

Oh and if you want to make some bagels this is the recipe I used

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Seven Radom Things

Kristen over at Whatcha-Eatin awarded me with the Preemio Blogger Award. Sadly she didn't know what she was getting herself into. With this award I am supposed to share 7 random thing about myself you might not already know.

1) I greatly fear you will find my answers boring
2) I got my degree in social work, because I wanted to save the world (not always so sure now... kidding...sort of??)
3) I was born in Ankara, Turkey
4) I STILL don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I still believe it will be something cool??
5) I feel younger than I am… by quite a bit.
6) My birthday falls on mothers day this year.
7) I am slightly obsessed with my children’s tushies.

So, my job is to pass this on to some folks. This was so hard because every one of you that I would love to know more about (I am nosy by nature… hey wasn‘t that a 80's song?). Sigh. However I am going to keep it to just 5 of you. Egad.

Tribeca Yummy Mummy.
Holler at Tinned Tomatoes
Jamie and Jen over ate Jamie and Jen Dish
Donna at My Tasty Treasures
Zerrin at Give Recipe

Also, don't forget about the contest. You can send your entries whenever, but they ahve to be in by midnight on the 25th of May. See this post for details

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fun with Butter

I made this a while back so I don’t remember all the details, however, I do remember it all started with leftover cream. I had bought some cream to use form some dish (that is a lost detail, now) and had about half the container left. What is a girl to do? Make butter! Okay, honestly most folks would not typically come to that conclusion, but I heard it was really easy and I was curious. I used my bread machine but as I understand you can use a blender too. My bread machine has a butter setting (how useful huh!). So in with the cream, some salt, a pinch of pepper and some porcini oil and a pinch of tarragon and out came butter. It was pretty wild.

So I seared some salmon, and slapped some butter on top. It was really good. Oh, and just as a side note, the beer in the background was righteous as well.