Thursday, August 13, 2009

Culinary Techniques 101

SOOOOOOOO.... I know I said when I started this blog, that it was gonna follow my cooking class adventures, and it hasn't. BUT, CT101 is a lot easier to document.

I am taking CT101 at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Chef Brian Patterson is the instructor, and class runs for 20 weeks. Its an abbreviation of the Phase 1 Professional class.

We have had three weeks so far.

I am doing my best to photograph and notate everything. Please enjoy....

Photos begin at week 3: Beets Me


Ill get photos etc. up as I can.... today is Aug 13th. I just got back from class 4. I am uploading all of my photos onto my webshots album. You can at least see the unedited versions there, until I have time to narrate.

GOOD FOR THE PALATE ON WEBSHOTS

http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/574038715zCFmay

Exhibit 1: "The Pickle King" aka cornichon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Food Map Update

In case you don't know... I make it easy for you to find all my favorite dining and purchasing locations by using the handy dandy Google Maps Public Feature.

All you have to do is go to this page http://www.google.com/maps/user?uid=109955927539019113643&hl=en&gl=us&ptab=2 and bookmark it.

I have maps from Paris, DC, SC, MD, etc. Check back for frequent updates.

I tell you locations, and why I like or dislike, or want to try someplace.

ENJOY!

Dinner at Brasserie Beck

This past Saturday evening, I had dinner at Brasserie Beck, on the corner of 11th and K Streets, with my parents, my brother Kevin, Robin, her parents, her sister Dana, and Dana's boyfriend J.P.  It was a joint birthday dinner for my mom and Robin's dad, who share an August 2nd birthday.  Beck's is awesome for 2 reasons.  One, obviously, the food is amazing.  I wasn't able to get a photo of my lamb shank because I ate it so fast, if that's any indication.  The roasted pork tenderloin with confit of cabbage and mustard sauce, which I had during my first visit earlier this year, is delicious.  I've also tried the NY strip and the choucroute.  On my next visit I plan to try the crispy skate wing.  The second reason Beck's is awesome is the beer list.  They have more than half a dozen beers on draft and at least 100 available by bottle, nearly all Belgian, but with a few selections from Germany, France, Canada, and the USA.  During my trips here I've probably tried a dozen different beers, all very different from typical American beers and each distinct from each other.

Dessert:  Black currant clafoutis with fig ice cream, fresh blackberries, and whipped cream.  A clafoutis is made by baking fruit into a thick, pancake-like batter.  The resulting texture is hard to describe, but it's like, half custard half bread if that makes any sense.  Traditionally, cherries are used, but obviously you can throw in any type of fruit.  In Beck's case, black currant.  The fig ice cream made a great pairing, as the flavor was balanced very well, complimenting the clafoutis but not overpowering it.  I had the Belgian waffle last time, and even though it's awesome I felt like I was going backwards, eating breakfast immediately after dinner... oh well.

Kasteel Donker - the strongest beer I had during this visit, I think it was 11% abv, the alcohol bite is apparent, although very dark brown in color, it was very light in body, even more so than the Maredsous Brune, the Donker had a hard to place flavor but I could pick out prunes/raisins, I need to try this again to get a better description

Corsendonk Abbey Pale Ale (Agnus Dei) - this Tripel has a hazy golden/light orange color, it has a lot of carbonation and produces a very thick but airy head, with a sweet aroma and pleasantly bitter hoppy after-taste that this type of beer is typically known for, an average Tripel by my tastes, tasty and very easy drinking, but I will try many others before I go back to this one

Maredsous Brune - 8% abv, dark brown/burgundy color, creamy head, well balanced, surprisingly light for a dark beer, Robin and my mom both had this, and I helped my mom finish her second one as she's not much of a beer drinker, this was my favorite beer of the evening and I should have ordered one for myself, in fact, I think this is one of the best Belgian beers I've ever had

I need to go back to Brasserie Beck again to retry some of the beers I've had in the past, post some better descriptions, and try some more of the food.  Christ, I forgot about the mussels that come 3 or 4 different ways, and the frites that come with 3 types of freshly made mayonaise; a regular mayo that is incredible, a pinkish/orange mayo I can only describe as chipotle based on the color and flavor (as compared to sandwiches and other appetizers I've had), and a thick yellow curry mayo... and the butter, their butter is amazing, after eating a few pieces of bread with butter I decided to take a few bites of butter by itself.  If there was a picture of me caught in the act it would certainly end up on This is Why You're Fat.

I'm going to stop now.  Next time I go to Beck's I'll get some more accurate descriptions.  I apologize that I'm not so good at describing food and beer after I've had it.  I'm better with descriptions as the food's going down... Thanks!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Talay Thai Grill in Baltimore

Today my friend and I went to a Bikram Yoga class in Hampden Baltimore. Class was crazy, really awesome. After we showered we drove down to Fells Point for dinner. We originally headed to Fells Point because I wanted to try the yogurt with mochi topping at Mr.Yogato.

We had seen a little ad for Talay Thai Grill on Urbanspoon.com and decided to click on it. I was skeptical but I did a google search and found this post from Strawberries in Paris, saying it was good. And the dumplings looked soooo good.

Talay Thai Grill
OPEN MONDAYS!
1911 Aliceanna St Baltimore, MD 21231

The place was basically empty, which is no surprise considering the size, and that its a Monday. But service was fine. The waiter is apparently the son of the chef. And they have another location which I was to hungry to inquire about further.

The two of us decided to split the spring roll appetizer, and the pad thai. The spring roll was huge and not my cup of tea, but they did leave out the thai basil (im allergic), and the sauce that comes with it was really delicious. The waiter told me it was his mother's secret recipe. Can anyone tell me how to make this stuff for scratch?

The pad thai was perfect though. We ordered it hot, which was mild in my opinion, but they served it with red thai chillies, green peppers, and pepper flakes for you to add based on your own wishes. These were great because they had a nice heat, still held their own flavor, and didn't overwhelm the pad thai. The texture was nice, and there was a good amount of ingredients, not mostly noodles.

When my friend saw the mango sticky rice, mochi immediately flew out of my head and I knew I had to get it. The mango was perfectly ripe with none of the off flavors mango sometimes carries. The rice was a little too dense for my taste but still yummy and the right temp.

Overall, Talay Thai seemed great to me and I'd go back without a problem.

Talay Thai Grille on Urbanspoon

Monsanto

Nothing nice to say about them, except I am highly disappointed. I just found out they created Astro Turf. Boooo, now astroturf is no longer cool. Ill be back to update again later. Lots of info about my new cooking class, and photos!!! Be excited.