Saturday, 31 August 2013

Restaurant crawl

A while back one of my housemates moved to Washington before her departure me and my other housemates took her on a restaurant crawl. I had never been on a restaurant crawl but it is such a good idea. You get to try lots of different food and it makes the night seem like more of an event. Plus if you're indecisive like me and can't decide where you want to eat you get to try as many places as you want.

We started off with sushi. One of my housemates can't get enough of sushi and I am quite partial to it myself and it can be hard to get good sushi back home. We went to Sansu which is my housemate's favourite sushi restaurant. As we had two more restaurants to go to we didn't go too crazy. We started with some saki-I always think saki has a nice burning sensation....

We then had some miso soup and salad which is a nice light way to start off a restaurant crawl. I particularly like the dressing on the salad. I was also proud of myself that I could eat my salad with my chopsticks.

We then ordered four rolls of sushi to share.

My favourite was the pink lady which had shrimp tempura, avocado and spicy sauce wrapped in soy bean paper. It was really fresh and delicious and I really want to go back for more.

I also really liked the special California roll, which had crab salad and avocado.

We also tried a roll with salmon roe which was interesting.

The next stop was Sindu Indian restaurant. I had already been here for a lunch buffet and thought it was pretty good. It also has some good vegetarian options. We started by ordering a lamb naan to share. I had actually never had a lamb naan and it was really really good. I will try go back to try some naan stuffed with paneer.

Then we just ordered a sampler plate to share.It was a good way to try everything. I especially like the lamb dish and the green dipping sauce which I can't exactly remember what it was. The sweet rice in milk was good too.

The last stop was a Korean barbeque. It was my first time at a Korean barbeque, it is a little similar to a Mongolian barbeque except you get to cook the food yourself at your own table.

We ordered a barbeque combo for two even though there was four of us but considering this was our third restaurant that seemed like the way to go. The combo came with bulgogi which is thinly sliced rib eye steak, kalbi which are beef short ribs, chicken and shrimp.

It is a fun experience to grill it yourself. It also means you can have your beef whatever way you want which is good if you like it cooked on the rare side because sometimes it can be hard to get meat cooked rare in America at times.

My favourite was the bulgogi but everything was good, even the chicken was really flavourful which was surprising as a lot of times I find chicken can be pretty bland. We also got some nice seaweed salad with it......

.....and some good kimchi....

......we also got some pasta salad and I still don't understand why. Either way I would definitely recommend Bulgogi it was pretty good value, they kept bringing out more kimchi and seaweed salad to us which was very nice of them.

I definitely enjoyed my first restaurant crawl, I think I will do something similar for my birthday in London.

Christina, x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Ann Arbor Farmer's Market

So I mentioned already that I was recently on a trip to Ann Arbor and of course I visited the farmer's market. I actually really liked the market, lots of fresh produce, a nice atmosphere and of course some beautiful wonky vegetables......

I also got a tamale with beef. It was my first time having a tamale and I did enjoy it, it also came with a really nice coleslaw-esque side

I also got some good fresh bread that was stuffed with garlic. I love garlic and may try making my own bread filled with garlic soon....

Overall I enjoyed my trip to the farmer's market but the only strange thing was that some of the vendors weren't the nicest. Like bread lady although she made nice garlicy bread twists she was sort of mean, like she knew her bread was class and didn't care about being nice to people. Also I asked some guy about his produce as it looked really interesting.....

He told me they were bitter melons. When I asked him what you do with him he replied 'I sell them', although I was impressed by an American using sarcasm I still thought that this was a kinda rude way to talk to a potential customer. Perhaps he had consumed too many bitter melons.....

Christina, x

Fork in the Road, Diner

I love a good food truck and I heard that in Lansing there is a restaurant called 'Fork in the Road' that started off as a food truck (which is still running but I haven't tracked it down yet) and morphed in to a diner. So I decided to bike down there one Saturday, I passed some cool murals on the way.

The set-up at the diner is a bit strange in that you order straight away when you go in and pay as well, then you get seated. Perhaps this is linked to their food truck roots.

I decided to order the Grilled Cheese sandwich as I am quite partial to grilled cheese and the server recommended it.

The sandwich came with cheese (obviously), pork and some nice greens. Overall it was very tasty I particularly liked the use of greens as you don't often get these in a sandwich. The pork was good too. I just thought it needed a little more bite, like some citrus or something to bring the whole thing alive. The sandwich was served with some pickled carrots and they were good but if I'm honest I think if a sandwich costs 11 dollars it should come with a more substantial side like a nice leafy salad or something. Either way I did very much enjoy my sandwich and I liked that there is a board up in the restaurant of all of the local food suppliers and such. There was also a pretty nice mural outside, you just can't bate a good mural.

Christina, x

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Jerusalem Garden, Ann Arbor

So on my recent trip to Ann Arbor I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant called Jerusalem Garden. My parents have a house in Turkey so I am quite partial to Middle Eastern food so I was excited to try this restaurant. As per usual I was undecided as to what I wanted to order so I asked my waiter what he would recommend. He told me that he really likes the Kafta Kabob (kebab to us non-Americans) which contains grilled ground beef and lamb. I actually really like lamb and haven't had any since I came to America, it doesn't seem to be as popular here as it is at home.

The kebab came with onions, garlic, parsley and hummus. I particularly liked the nice garlic flavour.

It was a nice taste of the Middle East in America, even though I would still kill for a fresh Turkish Pide, perhaps my parents can send me some when they go to Turkey next week.......

Christina, x

MSU Food for Thought Truck

So every week when I go to the Allen Street Farmer's Market I sample something from the MSU Food for Thought Truck. This food truck serves a variety of nutritious and diverse food. The menu also changes every week so I always have an excuse to try something.

My favourite so far has been a Roast Beef Wrap with smoked cheddar cheese, lettuce, asparagus and  sun-dried tomato mayonnaise in a honey wheat tortilla.

Asparagus and beef in a wrap was new to me but it was actually really really good. Overall the wrap was tasty and fresh, my only complaint was that there wasn't quite enough of the sun-dried tomato mayonnaise but I guess you can't have everything. I also really enjoyed their sopapillas, which is a type of pastry/ bread and I wrote about its deliciousness before when I posted about my trip to Red Haven. These ones were covered in cinnamon and chocolate and were good but not quite as good as the ones in Red Haven, clearly everything tastes better with lashings of dulce de leche...

 Sorry about the poor quality pictures, I didn't have my DSLR on me....

What shall I get this week? Hmmmm.....

Christina, x

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Beetroot Slaw

If you follow my blog you will now I am a pretty big fan of beetroots and I am also a pretty big fan of trawling through the reduced aisles in supermarkets. I recently came across this reduced 'angel hair' cabbage for 49 cent.

It is cabbage for making coleslaw, but I didn't have any carrots or mayonnaise....I did have some beetroot mousse though and I thought 'beetroot coleslaw that could be a thing'. I simply mixed the mousse with the white cabbage, added in some chopped garlic scapes, wood sorrel and a squeeze of lemon. I then seasoned to taste and that was it.

It was a really nice vivid twist on a classic and I will definitely make it again.

Christina, x

Food Arthur Guinness Projects I Think YOU Should Vote for

If you live in Ireland you may have heard already about the Arthur Guinness Projects. These projects encourage Irish creativity and talent in the four categories of art, music, sport and food. Successful projects get the chance to acquire funding to make their project dreams happen.

There are some really good food projects but a couple that I think you should take the time to vote for. Voting ends tomorrow and it literally only takes a few minutes of your time and could help someone, plus it will be good karma for you.

The first project I think is worthy of support is entitled 'Glut'. It was created by someone I worked with when I did my work experience in Cafe Paradiso. This is a brief summary of the project.

GLUT is a co-operatively run café/market-style shop to be based in Cork City.
On-site, it will comprise of a kitchen, bakery, café and market style shop.
Off-site there will be a vegetable plot that will subsidise our day to day vegetable expenses.
The shop will sell “GLUT” products, all made and packaged on-site.

In this sense I guess it is sort of aiming to be a closed loop business whereby food will be produced by the business and any excess produce will be used to make preservatives in glut periods and food waste can be transformed to compost to nourish the vegetables being grown by the restaurant. A nice cyclical process that is both efficient and sustainable. I also like that the cafe aims to be affordable to everyone and not pretentious. I think this is important as oftentimes good food is seen as just for rich 'foodies' when the truth is that good food doesn't have to cost a lot. I had this beautiful meal filled with fresh vegetables this week for Meatless Monday.

I got all of the vegetables at my local community farmer's market and for it all it cost me three dollars. If you would like to read more about this project and vote for it, you can find it here

Another project that I am passionate about is the Bia Foodbank. This project aims to create a national food distribution network in Ireland to tackle food waste. I know some of the people behind this project and they are really great and I'm sure will work so hard to make it successful they just need a little bit of help with funding.  To find out more about this project check it out here.

 So if my magical powers of persuasion have convinced you please take the time to vote for these projects, I think the universe may even reward you with a cookie.

Christina, x

Garlic Scape Risotto with Wood Sorrel Oil

So recently at the Allen street farmer's market I got some lovely garlic scapes. I wasn't sure what to do with them but one day I was craving some comfort food so I settled on risotto. I started by chopping up the scapes in to small pieces.

Then fry the scapes up in some butter and oil for a few minutes. Then add in the arborio rice and fry until it goes translucent. Bring some stock to the boil, I didn't have any stock cubes so I just made some from a random collection of herbs that I got foraging.

Once the rice has gone translucent add in the stock and bring it all to the boil. Then I make risotto by just covering the rice with plenty of water and leaving it for a while , in which time I busy myself with other things. I make up for my lack of stirring with some rigorous stirring at the end. I saw Raymond Blanc do this on Saturday Kitchen and I trust him. While the rice is cooking away you can make the wood sorrel oil. I got my lovely wood sorrel foraging but if you don't have the chance to go foraging you can buy regular sorrel. Chop up the sorrel finely.

Then mix it with some good quality olive oil and season to taste.

When the rice is nearly cooked you want to do some vigorous stirring to get all the starch out to make a nice creamy risotto.

Grate some parmesan and then stir it in to make a beautiful cheesy oozy risotto.

I garnished it with some raw garlic scapes, an edible tiger lily and of course the wood sorrel oil.

Overall I was pretty happy with the dish particularly the wood sorrel oil which gave a nice lemony flavour. It still needs a little tweaking though to have more flavour, maybe I could make a garlic scape pesto and make a risotto with that......

Christina, x