Friday, November 30, 2018

Spirits Tavern

Back to our time in GA. Saturday was nephew's wrestling day. Apparently wrestling is a day long event so my brother suggested we spend the morning relaxing and then get some lunch before heading to the afternoon matches. So we went to Spirits Tavern. They are sort of like Burghers or Burgatory here in Pittsburgh: burgers with your choice of certified Angus beef, ground turkey, veggie patty, Springer Mountain Farms chicken, or White Oak Pastures grass fed beef. There also are a fish sandwich, crab roll, and several hot dog creations plus appetizers and soup/chili/salads.

We got there a bit after they opened for lunch and got a table next to the window.
SP really wanted a Bloody Mary. He liked it. I tried a sip and all it did was confirm that I really dislike this beverage. I stuck with my fresh iced tea.
SP ordered the Crab Roll (lump crab salad, tomato, bacon, avocado corn salsa, hoagie roll with a side of Sweet Southern Coleslaw). He said it was delicious.
I chose the Rude Awakening sandwich (cage free fried egg, white American cheese, hickory smoked
bacon, with a crispy hash brown). I chose chicken and tater tots for my side. I loved this sandwich. Really good. And the tots - oh my gosh the tots were so darn yummy. SP kept stealing them off my plate but that was OK because this was a lot of food for me for lunch. I ate half my sandwich and then ended up eating the insides of the second half (sorry delicious bun but you were just too filling) and almost finished the tots.
Maybe I should have chosen a different side since there was a hash brown on my sandwich. But if I had to choose again, I'd get the same sandwich and tots.

Spirits Tavern must be a popular place because we tried to go there the night we arrived but the wait was over an hour. It filled up with the lunch crowd by noon, so we were glad we got there a little early. Our server was friendly and answered my questions but somewhat sadly, she did forget our fried green tomatoes appetizer. I say somewhat sadly because when our food arrived and we saw how huge the sandwiches were, we figured we didn't need an appetizer as well. There was no way we could have eaten an appetizer as well. Maybe at dinner time, but not lunch time.

Next time we visit my brother, we'll be sure to stop by Spirits. I want more tater tots!

Spirits Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

I am on Day 18 of whatever evil sinus crap is going on with me. I finished the Sudafed and Flonase that Urgent Care prescribed two weeks ago. I finished the antibiotic my doctor prescribed a week ago. I still have sinus crap and ear whooshing. It might be time for another doctor visit. Ugh.

Thanksgiving was one week ago. We were cleaning up food crumbs and other messes for 3-4 days afterward! I felt terrible and didn't even have a wee sip of wine because of all the medicine I was taking. I didn't have much of an appetite, nor could I really taste much, so I didn't especially enjoy the food on the holiday itself, but I have been enjoying leftovers, especially mom's stuffing. Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing for me.

Of course the day after Thanksgiving we moved on to Christmas! I really didn't feel like hauling out the Christmas decor, but the 4 day weekend really is the best time to get it done. Our tree is up and all the other assorted decorations are in their places. Now we just have to figure out gifts and I have no idea what to get SP!

And which cookies to bake. Provided I recover from this evil illness in time to bake. Right now, there's no way. Holiday decorating day wiped me out - I was frequently out of breath and my ear was whooshing like crazy so I'm definitely not feeling like a baking binge or even much like celebrating.

What We're Eating:

  • Thanksgiving leftovers
  • Beer Braised Pork with roasted cauliflower or steamed broccoli
  • Dessert: leftover pumpkin pie, apple pie, cookies

What We're Watching:

  • I've joined SP in watching the last 2 episodes of Dr. Who. They are the only episodes of Dr. Who I have ever watched. I must be really infected with sinus crap if I'm watching SP's shows.
  • We watched The Meg (that kind of movie is hilariously entertaining!) and Crazy Rich Asians, which we both really enjoyed.
  • Our local television channels had some issue with Dish for a couple hours one night so we didn't get to see the fall finales of Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, or Grey's Anatomy. I have since watched Grey's on demand (please no Meredith with Deluca) but I can't seem to find the other 2 shows.
  • We also still have no HBO with Dish so we've been trying to keep up with some shows (like John Oliver) on YouTube. 

What I'm Reading:

  • I was so proud of myself for finally finishing the September issue of Smithsonian yesterday afternoon. Then SP brought in the mail and the December issue was in the pile. Great. Back to 3 issues of that.
  • I read the new Jack Reacher book. I didn't think it was quite as good as usual even though I enjoyed finding out a bit more about Reacher's father. The other plot line was just so-so.
  • I'm not having much success reading because of my sinus crap and ear whooshing. I just cannot focus on the words. I read a page, turn, and have no idea what is going on and have to go back and re-read.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sunny Point Cafe

The day we went to Biltmore Estate, we ate a large breakfast to get us through to dinner, but after our visit, we were hungry and needed a snack before dinner. The crackers in the car weren't satisfying enough. We decided to stop at Sunny Point Cafe. It's a cute little place. We got there around 3 pm and were seated right away. We ordered iced teas and 2 appetizers to share:
Pimento Cheese Toast (toasted focaccia, pimento cheese, house pickled vegetables). I don't like pickled vegetables, but SP does, so he got to eat them all. The pimiento cheese was yummy when spread on the toasted focaccia (which could have been toasted a bit more for my taste).
Pecan Fried Green Tomatoes (goat cheese, roasted red pepper aioli). I liked but didn't love these, probably because of the pecans. I don't really like nuts but I wanted to try these anyway. I found the pecan crust crumbly and too difficult for my teeth to crunch. SP has serious sharp, chomp up food teeth and he likes nuts so these were a hit with him.
I did enjoy the goat cheese and red pepper aioli with the green tomatoes.

I'd go back to Sunny Point Cafe for a meal to try their Breakfast Sandwich or Croque Madame or Mighty Meaty Meatloaf. Everyone was friendly, the iced tea fresh brewed, and the food tasty (personally not liking nuts does not mean the tomatoes are not tasty, they were tasty to someone who liked nuts).

Sunny Point Cafe & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Picnic Cafe

The last day we were in GA visiting my brother and his family, we walked around the town square and met them for lunch at a cute little place called Picnic Cafe. We've been here on previous visits and like it for lunch. It was a cold and windy day, so we both got hot tea. Here's what we ate:
SP chose the Chicken Salad Sandwich on wheat bread with tomato soup and fruit.
Lots of chicken salad on the sandwich. He said it was very good. It must have been since he ate everything in his basket!
I got the Pimiento Cheese BLT with tomato soup and potato salad. It was really good, of course, I love pimiento cheese. I like their potato salad because it's so different from how we make it. I wouldn't want to make a huge batch of potato salad like this, but it was nice as a side. It had more of a relish flavor and maybe some mustard (?). This is a lot of food for me for lunch and SP had to help finish my soup.
We got a couple M&M cookies & a scone for later that evening.

It's kind of small inside and can get really crowded and tough to move around, especially in a wheelchair, but we managed OK. We still like Picnic Cafe for lunch & treats.

Picnic Cafe & Dessertery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 26, 2018

Braddock's Pittsburgh Brasserie

Over the weekend we went to see Fiddler on the Roof, which was excellent. After, we went to dinner at a place we had not been in a long time: Braddock's Pittsburgh Brasserie in the Renaissance Hotel. The restaurant looks the same, but the menu is completely different from the last time we were there. Here's what we tried:
Since I'm on a bunch of medicine, I figured I should stick with iced tea and avoid alcohol. SP tried  Prohibition Pear (Grey Goose la Poire, St. Germaine, Lillet Blanc, lime, simple syrup). He liked it a lot. I tried a teeny sip and it was a little too strong for me.
Smoked Manhattan (Old Overholt Rye, hickory smoked vermouth). This was SP's second cocktail. He likes smoky flavor but he said this was just too smoky for him and he couldn't taste any other flavor other than smoke.
Bread & olive oil.
We started with House Baked Bavarian Pretzels (smoked gouda, pancetta & wine fondue, sweet apples). The cheese dip was really, really good. The pretzels filling. We each ate one and we took the other home for a snack on Sunday.
SP chose Fresh Catch of the Day. We both thought our server said trout, but this looked like salmon atop fingerling potatoes and green beans. He said it was tasty fish. (Sorry for the blurry photo.)
Daily Ravioli - Lobster Ravioli with zucchini, yellow squash, peppers in a creamy sauce. Mine are in a butter sauce since the creamy sauce had garlic in it. I don't know if these were good or not. I've been sick for 2 weeks so I'm not tasting much of my food and what I do taste always tastes a little bland. SP tried one and liked them.

We were too full for dessert, plus we still had leftover Thanksgiving pies at home plus cookies at home.

I'm not sure what to think. As we were looking at the menu, I asked SP if he wanted to share the pretzels and he looked confused and asked where I saw pretzels on the menu. It turned out he had been given a lunch menu. Our server was friendly and helpful in answering questions but as she remarked at one point, they were short staffed, so things took a bit of time. The food was fine. I can't put my finger on what exactly it was, but we left feeling a little disappointed as compared to previous dinners.

Braddock's American Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I was torn between 2 places in Asheville for my birthday dinner. SP decided we should go to both, one on my birthday and the other one earlier in the trip. The decision was mostly based on one place taking reservation and one not and how that fit into our planned activities. So our second dinner in Asheville was at Bouchon, a French restaurant that does not take reservations but if you arrive between 5-5:30 pm, it didn't seem too difficult to be seated.
There's a lovely outdoor area, but it was too breezy and cold for me so we sat inside. It's a little narrow. There's an exposed brick wall, chairs that reminded me of Paris. It was cozy and warm.
We munched on bread and butter while deciding what to order.
Bouchon had a couple of sauvignon blancs from the Loire region. Our server helped me decide on the Fournier Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (from the Loire, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is refreshingly pristine. Firm, dry finish with great minerality). I really liked it, but stuck to just one glass. SP ordered Ginger Old Fashioned (Bourbon, Domaine de Canton & Fever Tree Ginger Beer over and Orange Juice, bitters and Cherry infused ice cube). I tried a sip and it was a terrific cocktail. Definitely to our tastes (bourbon, orange, ginger). We both liked the infused ice cube. He kept sipping and sipping as the ice cube melted.
We started by sharing Salade du Grand Père (fresh greens dressed with Dijon vinaigrette, sprinkled with lardons (thick bacon) & walnuts).
For my entree, I chose Poulet Cordon Bleu Bouchon (a breaded chicken breast rolled around prosciutto & Gruyère cheese, baked, then finished with a lemon juice, white wine & butter pan reduction; with pommes frites & sautéed fresh veggies). It was really good. I sometimes worry about chicken prepared like this drying out, but it wasn't dry. The sauce was really good and the green beans and carrots were really tasty, too.
My entree also came with Pommes Frites (sprinkled with Herbes de Provençe & served with red pepper aioli). They were terrific, it was just a lot of food for me. SP happily helped with the fries.
SP chose Bouillabaisse Bouchon (Provençal-style seafood broth brimming with fresh mussels, scallops, shrimp, and fresh market fish served with a saffron rouille croûton). He said it was tasty.
We ordered after dinner tea. I chose: Lemon Lift, one of my favorite teas. We shared 2 desserts:
Crêpes Suzette - a warm crêpe with Grand Marnier-orange-butter sauce & homemade whipped cream. So good. Lots of orange flavor and a nice amount of booze flavor.
Mousse au Chocolat. This was good, too. I would have preferred no mini chocolate chips, but that's me. The thin cookie crisp was yummy.

It can get a little crowded with people at the bar waiting for a seat. I got bumped a few times by bar patrons, but no big deal. Our server was informed and pleasant. They had my current favorite wine. We had a yummy meal. It's cozy and romantic. We'd go back.

Bouchon French Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Biscuit Head

In September we watched an episode of Southern & Hungry where Damaris & Rutledge went to Asheville and to Biscuit Head. We both started drooling over the biscuits and decided that when we went to Asheville, we'd definitely go to Biscuit Head.
There are 2 locations. We went to the one on Biltmore Ave. You order at a counter and then they show you to a seat and place a number on your table. When your food is ready, they bring it over. Pictured above is the drink and jam bar. They have many kinds of jellies/jams for your biscuit. We tried a wee bit of each: sour cherry, strawberry, sweet potato, and some others I forget.
SP ordered the Country Ham Biscuit (biscuit with country ham, fried green tomato, cheese egg, and red-eye gravy). I didn't know before going to Asheville what red-eye gravy is. It's a very thin gravy made from the drippings of pan-fried country ham mixed with black coffee. I expected a strong coffee flavor, but it was subtle and really yummy. SP ate the entire huge biscuit sandwich.
Asheville Benedict (open-faced biscuit topped with charred scallion cream cheese, fresh tomatoes, 2 poached eggs, hollandaise, roasted red peppers, and a tossed kale salad)
I ordered the Fried Green Tomato Biscuit (biscuit with fried green tomato, brie, tomato, 2 poached eggs, and smoked tomato hollandaise). I asked for the hollandaise on the side and well poached eggs. As you see above, the hollandaise is on the biscuit. That was OK, I could deal. But when I cut into the egg, it was a lovely poached egg, that is to say it was runny and slowly oozed all over, but since my stomach is so darn sensitive, I always ask for well poached which I don't think tastes as good as normal poached but I'd rather not have a stomach revolt at 11 am and ruin an afternoon of fun. So SP took it back to the counter.
Fried Green Tomato Biscuit (biscuit with fried green tomato, brie, tomato, 2 poached eggs, and smoked tomato hollandaise)
I felt terrible because it turned out they had made mine correctly, but someone grabbed the wrong plate. The original one served to me is actually The Asheville Benedict (open-faced biscuit topped with charred scallion cream cheese, fresh tomatoes, 2 poached eggs, hollandaise, roasted red peppers, and a tossed kale salad). I felt awful because I didn't even register that it was topped with salad and red pepper, which mine wasn't supposed to have, and since I'd cut into the egg, they couldn't serve it to anyone else. If I realized it was the wrong benedict, maybe they could have served it to the correct person. My biscuit, above, is not as pretty since the sauce is on the side. But oh was it delicious. And huge. SP had to help me and even then we left behind some biscuit.
We both really like Biscuit Head. We went around 11 am and it wasn't too crowded, which was nice because I was really hungry. The next time we're in Asheville, we'll definitely be back here for another biscuit.

Biscuit Head Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rigatoni alla Gricia

The November/December 2018 issue of Cook's Illustrated has a recipe for Rigatoni alla Gricia, pasta with pancetta & pecorino romano. We both had an interest in trying it since it was similar to some other dishes we've made and we wanted to compare. Traditionally, guanciale is used in this dish but pancetta works well.
The ingredient list is short: rigatoni, pecorino romano, pancetta, olive oil, ground pepper.
Pancetta rounds from Market District, sliced 1/4" thick as the recipe says.
The rounds cut into rectangular pieces (about ½ inch by 1 inch).
Pasta and pancetta in our Dutch oven. That's where the photos end! I thought we took more, but we didn't.

This dish is super easy: cook the pancetta until golden brown, drain and reserve fat, cook pasta, drain pasta, reserving some pasta water. Add pepper and reserved fat & water to Dutch oven & cook until they are emulsified and reduced to about 1.5 cups, add pasta and pancetta, stir together, add cheese, mix together until the sauce is creamy, eat & enjoy.

I liked this dish, but I didn't love it. It's very rich. I'm glad we had arugula on the side because I really needed something like arugula to cut through the richness and saltiness (from the pancetta and cheese). I ended up mixing my arugula into the pasta. I also added a lot more fresh pepper to my pasta. SP felt the same - it was yummy but a bit much. I'm not sure we'd make it again because there are other pasta dishes we like more than this one, but it is a quick and easy dinner meal. We made the full recipe and got 3-4 meals from it. We reheated it with the casserole dish lid on to keep it from drying out. You could always keep some extra pasta water in the refrigerator to add when reheating it. We didn't add any extra liquid and thought it was fine.

Recipe here or here.