Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Last Saturday we went to Bistro 19 for dinner. Still one of our favorite places, especially because of the Lemon Pepper Calamari with citrus caper remoulade appetizer. Here's what else we ate:
  • Cider & Maple Braised Short Rib with gnocchi and carrots
  • Jurgielewicz Farm’s Duck Breast (sweet tea blackberry glaze, warm chipotle potato salad, duck cracklins, green beans)
  • Dessert:  Lemon Crème Brulee (whipped cream, fresh raspberries)
The bugs are winning. I think we've smushed 5-6 crickets in the past month. In one day we captured 4 stink bugs. One night a moth terrorized me, flying right at me and then flitting like a drunk all around the bedroom at bedtime. Yesterday a spider decided to crawl on my arm. Then there's the house centipedes - the count is 3 since vacation. I heard SP killing a wolf spider last night and he claims it was a monster one. Ugh ugh ugh.

It's Day 13 of my cold and I think I might actually be better by the weekend. I'm no longer drinking cold/flu medicine or filling the trash cans with tissues.

What We're Eating:
  • Smoked pork, macaroni salad, garden tomatoes
  • Prosciutto, fontina, tomato, arugula panini
  • Dessert: Cinnamon Swirl Cookies
  • Snacks: Extra Cheddar Goldfish Crackers and Whisps Parmesan Crisps
What We're Watching:
  • We finished Season 1 of The Wire. I enjoyed re-watching and SP enjoyed watching for the first time. We'll watch the other seasons at some point, but the new television season is starting, so it'll be a while.
  • Big Bang Theory is back and we gave Young Sheldon a try. It was pretty good. We'll see if we can stick with it.
  • This Is Us - I have such a love/hate relationship with this show. I love the stories, the acting, how the characters interact, but I hate that every single week it makes me cry.
  • We're sticking with The Deuce on HBO. So far, so good.
  • Designated Survivor is back! Why can't Kirkman be our real president? 
  • Tonight is my night to send SP to the basement with instructions to not bother me for 3 hours as I enjoy the return of Grey's Anatomy and HTGAWM. Unless, of course, I scream in terror and need rescuing from a cricket/wolf spider/stink bug. Then he better get his butt up the stairs super fast and the heck with his TV shows.
What I'm Reading:
  • Or not reading. That might be more accurate. I had to renew a couple books. Again. And I had to return one because I couldn't renew it and I didn't get to it. I have no idea what's wrong with me.
  • I managed to read Enemy of the State, the latest Mitch Rapp novel, and it was pretty good, better than the others written after Vince Flynn's death.
  • I also managed to read one of the 6 magazines in that pile. I found more than usual of interest in this issue of Food & Wine.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Popovers on the Square

In Portsmouth's Market Square is a cute bakery & cafe called Popovers on the Square. It quickly became a go-to for breakfast, snacks, a beverage stop - we love this place.
It's casual, wheelchair accessible, there's an inside eating area, and there's a very decent sized outdoor area which was terrific during our visit because much to our surprise, it was sunny and quite warm during our trip (we were expecting much cooler weather than mid 70's to low 80's).
They have delicious treats: cookies, scones, muffins, cakes, breakfast foods, lunch soups and salads and sandwiches plus coffee beverages, teas, and adult beverages. Not to mention these:
Popovers. Hence, the name. Truthfully, until NH, the idea of a popover was far more appetizing than an actual popover. The one and only popover experience I'd ever had was at a restaurant in San Diego and it didn't quite live up to expectations.
These mushroom shaped popovers lived up to popover expectations. Our first morning of vacation, SP walked over and brought back breakfast to the hotel room.
Light, airy, flavorful - so good.
The also put things in the popovers - like stuffing them with egg and cheese.
Lots of egg - too much egg for me, but I liked the egg and cheese with the "bread" part of breakfast, more of a complete meal.
There are breakfast sandwiches: Toasted Egg Sandwich with Cheese (fried egg, cooked medium, and American cheese on toasted sourdough, add breakfast meat smoked bacon, breakfast sausage or black forest ham).
Yum. It's also a nice place to stop by in the evening for a little treat, like hot tea & this snickerdoodle cookie: 
Or hot tea & a piece of carrot cake:
 And a good place to grab lunch before driving to Boston's airport:
Tomato Bisque & House Salad with mini popover. More yum.
There were so many delicious looking treats that we did not get to sample. They have gluten free options and vegetarian options, which is nice. Everyone was friendly. The loose leaf teas are really good. We stopped by quite a bit, especially since the weather was fantastic, they have that great outdoor area, they have great hot & iced teas, they have delicious treats, they're open later than other places, and they have those delicious popovers.

Popovers On The Square Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Black Trumpet

For our first night of vacation, in Portsmouth, NH, we made reservations at Black Trumpet on Ceres Street, near the water & tugboats. I think I read somewhere that it's in a 200 year old building.
There is a step down into the restaurant (after opening the door), but it's a small step and I'm pretty sure as SP was zipping me around and taking me down backwards that they offered to put out a ramp, but he was quick! We were warmly greeted and seated in a corner near the window on the first floor. There's also a second floor, which is where the bar is, I think.
I love old buildings, thinking about all the history, what the walls have seen & heard. Exposed brick, low ceiling, and the beams:
Love these beams. It was cozy, warm, inviting, rustic, romantic.
We started with drinks. I opted for white wine, but I can't remember what kind. SP had a cocktail special. We think it was called a Fisherman's Sweater (?) and it was very fall-like: bourbon, scotch, cherry, cinnamon. It was delicious. Here's what we ate:
Bread bowl. Yummy.
SP started with Chef's Meze Plate - a daily assortment of three little dishes in one. His little dishes were Sumac Pork Meatball, Braised Monkfish, and Ksra Bread Pudding. Google tells me Ksra is a Moroccan Bread. He said all were delicious.
I started with Pimiento Cheese with crab spiced crackers and radish. The pimiento cheese was pureed, which was different but just as delicious as the chunkier versions I've enjoyed. The crackers were not too crab spiced, which I was afraid of, not just because I was pretty sure too much crab spice would not taste good to me but also because my stomach was still struggling with the digestive issues (yes, I know, this was 2+ weeks of issues and yes, I will talk to my doctor at my next appointment).
Next, a medium plate for SP, also a special of the day: Curried Squash Poached Lobster, Polenta Cake, Corn & Heirloom Tomato Salsa and Crispy Shishito. He loved this dish. I'm not a fan of curry flavor, but I did try a teeny bite of lobster & polenta cake and it was quite good.
I chose Garden Greens with goat cheese, anise roasted beets, heirloom tomato, and lemon herb vinaigrette. The goat cheese was smeared in a circle under the greens and the beets are under the greens. This was a really good salad although I didn't eat all the beets simply because I can only handle so many bites of beet. The tomatoes were excellent. I like the goat cheese smear circle because you got a bit of cheese with every bite instead of just a chunk with a few bites.
For his entree, SP chose the Local Dayboat Fish with black & white rice, yellow heirloom beans, and bok choy over sofrito puree. The fish was haddock. He ate every bite on his plate. I think, on this trip, he was in seafood heaven, eating seafood for every meal.
I chose Seared Sea Scallops and Crab Croqueta with summer vegetables, potatoes, and remoulade. The scallops and croqueta were so darn good. The potatoes and veggies were good, too, and SP helped me finish them.
We shared dessert: Vanilla Pavlova with goat cheese whip, blueberry compote, lemon curd, and almond streusel. So good. Light. Blueberries and lemon are an excellent combination. I wanted more after we finished it because it was so good, but I was super stuffed.

We both really liked Black Trumpet. The ambience, the well paced meal (yes, we were there 2+ hours, but it didn't seem like it), our server was excellent, the food fantastic, it was a lovely first night of vacation. It'd be a great date night place. If you're in Portsmouth, give this place a try.

Black Trumpet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, September 25, 2017

Maine Trip

Portland Head Light, Maine
We've been back from vacation for a week and I'm still struggling to go through all the photos. Probably because I got sick while on vacation and I'm still fighting it. All I want to do is nap! It's Day 10 of this evil cold and happily, I'm not quite as snotty as I was. Just a lot of throat clearing.
Canobie Lake Park
We decided to go to Maine. As we researched driving times, flights, etc., plans changed and the trip grew in length. We ended up flying into Boston and renting a car, driving first to Portsmouth, NH. Our first vacation day was spent at Canobie Lake Park, where SP got to ride several new-to-him roller coasters and I got to eat fried dough. Win-win (except for that part where he left me near the stage and a twangy country band came on to play and I was going crazy and couldn't move myself because I was on a hill and I didn't trust myself to not roll myself into people, or a tree, or something worse).
The next day we took a walking tour of Portsmouth with Discover Portsmouth. Our guide was Linda and she was terrific. It was obvious she loves her town, we learned a lot, and our tour flew by. One of our stops on the tour was the African Burying Ground Memorial. I'm not going to write all about the memorial, but it was sad yet heart-warming, bittersweet.
I think North Church was our last stop. Such a beautiful church, and to me, what I think of when I think New England Church. It's in the middle, in Market Square, so we saw it a lot as we wandered through shops & checked out restaurants.
Of course there was lots of food, including a meal outside along the river near the tugboats.
Bug Light
From Portsmouth, we drove north along Route 1 to Cape Elizabeth, Portland Head Light, and Bug Light, and had our first lobster roll from a lobster roll truck at Fort Williams Park.
Boats on Casco Bay
We stopped in Portland, Maine for a day or so. It's a beautiful city, though I did have my issues with cobblestone streets and shops that weren't wheelchair accessible. We checked out the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and took a train ride along Casco Bay then climbed the hill (well, SP climbed & pushed me, I just enjoyed the ride) to the Portland Observatory where SP climbed to the top and enjoyed the view. And yes, there was more lobster eating in Portland.
View from atop Mt. Cadillac
Next up was driving to Bar Harbor, Maine. SP had never been to Bar Harbor. My parents took us on a family trip there when I was 4 years old - back when we had the green truck and the camper and camped a lot. I don't remember much from that trip, just a few memories of crashing waves and rocks and my brother getting his thumb smashed in the camper door. Fortunately, I have the photos. In 1999 my mom & I took a trip back to Bar Harbor. We found our old campground! I love Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park. I was so excited to go back this time.
I am so happy that SP loved this part of Maine, too. Acadia is a beautiful national park. We were fortunate to be able to drive up Mt. Cadillac and not have fog blocking our view. We spent quite some time driving the 27 mile loop road, just pulling over and staring at gorgeous scenery.
We both also love Bar Harbor. Lots of shops to stroll through, a shore path to walk along, restaurants to enjoy, water & boats to gaze at.
 And a beautiful sunset to see.
I think a lot of people might overlook the part of Acadia that is across Frenchman Bay, across from Bar Harbor. It's the Schoodic Peninsula and it's stunning.
In some ways, it's more stunning than the Mount Desert Island part of Acadia.The Schoodic shoreline consists of exposed and weathered red granite that varies from 10 to 100 feet in width from ocean to the beginning of plants. This part of the Atlantic Ocean is the first ocean I saw in my life and it's why I always think of the Atlantic as rugged and dangerous, pounding surf, and scary while I think of the Pacific as calm, smooth, soothing. I remember being 4 years old, in Maine, on these rocks, and being warned to sit my butt down and not move closer, not move at all, because the rocks are rugged and slippery and the waves pounding and dangerous yet beautiful. I could sit here for days, just watching.
There is also calm water along the Schoodic loop.

After a few days in Bar Harbor/Acadia (and more lobster), we drove back to Portsmouth, NH for a night and then spent a morning walking around in some mist-drizzle stuff. I felt very much like a non-hardy New Englander. I was chilly, I wanted my raincoat, I wanted to use the umbrella, but no one else was using an umbrella/hat/coat. Then we drove to Boston and after an hour delay, flew home.
I can't wait to go back. I love Maine.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

This past Monday, we returned from a trip to NH and ME. It was a terrific trip, much warmer and sunnier than we expected, lots of lobster and other delicious food. Unfortunately, I caught a cold last Friday and have been sick ever since. We had to buy a lot of over-priced cold medicine and cough drops. I'm getting annoyed with having this cold. All I want to do is sleep.

We're slowly getting back to normal. Tuesday was lawn mowing, 6-7 loads of laundry, going through all the mail. Post vacation stuff.

I set up some blog posts before we left for vacation, including yesterday's post, and I laughed when I read it. Before we left for vacation, it was getting chilly here, but ever since we came home, it's been in the mid to high 80's and that's forecast to continue through early next week. So not really chillier weather, even if tomorrow is the first day of fall, so not really braising and casserole weather.

What We're Eating:
  • A huge batch of Chicken Noodle Soup. Every night.
What We're Watching:
  • We watched a bunch of Food Network shows that recorded while we were gone.
  • We watched the first episode of The Deuce on HBO and so far, so good, so tonight we'll watch the second episode and then be caught up for this Sunday's new episode.
  • "Regular Season TV" starts tonight with the premiere of Gotham and then next week the usual shows start their new seasons. I'm not ready! There's still too much on the DVR!
What I'm Reading:
Nothing this week. I've been napping in the afternoons. I have 3 library books and 5 magazines to read, so hopefully the coughing and snotting will end soon. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Braised Beef Short Ribs

It's getting cooler here which means we're moving from a lot of grilling outside to braising inside. Like these Braised Short Ribs, which we made quite some time ago. The recipe is from Cover & Bake, but we didn't make the Bacon, Parsnip, and Pearl Onion Garnish.
Beautiful short ribs, before and after browning.
These don't brown in the Dutch oven on the stove top. Instead, they are browned in a roasting pan in the oven for quite some time. Then the roasting pan is deglazed with the red wine.
The short ribs after much browning in the roasting pan:
Finally, the Dutch oven part! Sauteing the carrots, celery, onions, adding the flour, stirring in the wine plus chicken stock, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, tomato paste.
The braising liquid:
The short ribs, after they braised in the oven for 2-2.5 hours:
So tender - the meat meat cleanly pulled away from the bones.
We pulled the meat from the bones, mixed it into the sauce, kept the braising veggies in the sauce, and served it atop rice. A little different from the official recipe, but just as tasty.
This meal is definitely time consuming, but it doesn't involve a lot of active time. I think if I add up all the cooking times listed in the recipe, it's 4 hours, plus the ingredient prep and making the braising sauce (which can be done while the ribs are browning in the oven).

It's worth the effort and time. Delicious comfort food on fall and winter nights.

Recipe here.