Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eating Out Tubers and Shrooms

So spring is here and I have begun my seasonal plunder of the Vineyard Farmers Market. It’s still early in the season, so what these farmers lack in bounty they make up for in succulent tenderness. Sweet little tightly coiled bunches of baby romaine, tangy and sweet myer lemons, blood oranges. My money just evaporates every time I come here. It takes two trips to the car just so we’re not loaded down while we try to sip coffee. And naturally, I forget to bring my camera. So you’re stuck with what we brought home.

There were two major scores on the trip. The beloved ladies of Sun Smiling Farms offered their usual delicious array of mushrooms and some beautiful, young leeks. But, oh happy and special day! They have morels! Blow your truffles out your ass, morels rule the fungal world in my crystal castle! The comely lady is quite amused as I do my gangly-pudgy dance celebrating the extra fatness I shall be layering on for the sweltering summer to come. My other major delight was discovering that the veg folks on the northeast corner had Jerusalem artichokes! I have heard of sunchokes before, but have never worked with, or tasted them before. I’m giddy with delight at the prospect of working with a new and relatively rare (for Fresno) ingredient. Now, whatever shall we make with these beauties?

Glad you asked! Time for Sunday dinner. I’m an immediate gratification kinda fellow. So, we’re going to dive right into the middle of the market bounty and make all of the delicacies into a mess o’ vittles. Scouring the interweb for morel recipes is bizarre. Any ‘shroom hunter site pretty much offers 80 variation on fried morels, 1 cream sauce recipe and 1 soup recipe. The rest of the web offered morels and asparagus. How odd. You would think that such a wonderful mushroom would have more variation in it’s popular use. I guess fried highlights the flavor best. Screw that though, I want a brandy cream sauce with these bad boys. How I wish I could find green peppercorns in this town! But a good cook soldiers on. That’ll mean some steaks. Rib eyes look good. Ok, now onto the chokes. Hmmm, sautéed with sage and lemon? Nah. Oooooo! Sunchoke au gratin with ginger and garlic. Now that sounds delicious! And what’s this? Dilled horseradish red potato salad? Yes please. But what’s this crap about using a microwave? Screw that, I’ve got the idea, I can run with it from there.

Rib Eye Steaks with Morel Brandy Cream Sauce

2 med rib eye steaks
6oz morel mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup diced shallots
4 tablespoons brandy
1 cup cream
2 cups beef broth reduced by 2/3
2 tablespoons green peppercorns (if you can lay hands on these spicy little gems)

Prep: Soak your morels in salt water to wash off the grit and run off any potential hitch hikers. After the soak, rinse and dry on a paper towel. Prior to use, give a rough chop. I like mine fairly chunky. Put your beef broth on a low simmer to reduce. Add in a bay leave if you like. Give your shallots a dice and season your steaks with a little salt and pepper. 

Now, heat up your pan and add the olive oil and 2 tbl spoons of butter. Once the foam has settled, fry your steaks to taste, preferably medium rare. Once done, set aside and rest. Add 1 more tbl spoon of butter to the pan and then add in your shallots. I like to cook mine until they’re getting a bit glassy, around 5 minutes. At this point, add in the reduced beef stock and the brandy. Careful smokers! Booze evaporates. Keep that rockin Tom Selleck mustache in safety. Allow that to simmer a bit, then add in your morels (and peppercorns if you have them). Allow these to simmer until you start to smell the boozy brandy mellow and the mushroom smell starts to dominate. Now add in your cream and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Plate your steak, then top with morels scooped from the pan, then spoon sauce over the whole affair. Your dinner guest will hail you as a golden god of cream sauces. Next course! In reverse.

Sunchoke gratin

2 cups of med sliced sunchokes
2 table spoons butter
1 cup cream
1 & 1/2 teaspoons of corn starch
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
salt and pepper
1/2 cup crushed walnuts

Prep: Wash and slice your sunchokes, then slice them about 3/16ths of an inch thick.  Crush your walnuts to the desired texture.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a roasting pan with a water bath

Heat up a sauce pan with some butter, add in your sunchokes, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Mix corn starch with a little reserved cream and add to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes or until thickened.  Spoon sunchokes and sauce into 2 buttered ramekins, top with walnuts and place in the water bath and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool and enjoy.

The recipe worked spot on and was insanely delicious. The only variation I made was substituting the bread crumbs with crushed walnuts. OMFG*! (*Oh My Felicitous Goat) It was insanely good! I had no idea that Jerusalem artichokes would taste so much like sunflower seeds. It makes sense, since it’s a sunflower tuber. But amazingly delicious all the same. And it mixes so very well with the warm oily flavor of the toasted walnuts on top. I think next time I might grate a little nutmeg into the cream as well to add a little bit of a perfume to the flavor. Happy happy happy! And last but first…

Dilled Horseradish Potato Salad

2lb red potatoes cubed
½ cup diced shallots
1 cup mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon horseradish (We like it HOT baby!)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons dried dill
½ tsp cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Prep: Wash and cube your potatoes. Boil until fork tender then rinse and cool. Dice shallots.

Take all of your wet ingredients and whisk together in a bowl large enough for your pertaters. Toss in your dill and shallots and mix. Then add in your chilled potatoes and toss thoroughly to combine. You can serve immediately, but the flavors will be more pronounced if allowed to rest overnight.

And that dear friends is, what I hope to be the first of many wonderful dishes made from fresh ingredients sold by Fresnans and from our own soils. This is only whetting my appetite for what bounties may come from the market as well as my own recently planted garden. Thumbs up to ole Maw Nature for kicking down some kick ass grub.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eating Out Comedy

So in a shift from our normal programming. I wound up scoring tickets to the LOL Comedy show at the Tower Theater this past Saturday. Don’t worry! I’ve got recipes backed up and ready to disgorge upon the starry fabric of the interweb. But about the only thing that wars with my love for food would be my love of yuk yuks.

But first, a story. About 15 years ago, I went to the Tower Theater with a girlypal and her family to see the wonder that was Howie Mandel. Things you do for love right? Anyhoo, rather than be able to judge the talents of famed Bobby’s World creator. I wound up just having to pity the poor soul. For, he knew not what he was wading into, this polite Canuck with poor crowd management skills. Fresno was very barky-outbursty at the time and his opening bits were peppered by random howls of “HOWIE!” for no apparent reason. Thinking he can get the better of the crowd, he turns to one of the bellowers and says “What?” assuming that attention equaled shame and therefore garnering silence. WRONGO IN THE NO-NO BUDDY! Without missing a beat the lady shrieks “Take a picture with my kid!”. And the fool buys it! She runs up and happily tells him that by the way…ain’t got no camera! Oh god, it’s all coming unraveled now Mandy-boy! Think quick! “Could I use someone’s camera so this lady will be quiet?” he asks in the same tone an explosive ordinance disposal guys use when the clock has hit 5 seconds. “Sure! If you take a picture with my kid too!!” Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Fresno steps up baby! The next hour was fascinating. I’ve never seen a man complete a set of light hearted jokes with a raging “FUCK ALL OF YOU!!!” in his eyes. After the show, the kids wanted to run up to him at his limo for autographs. I gently bring them back to heel with a simply spoken truth. “Kids, I don’t think Howie wants to talk to any Fresnans ever again. Just let him go.”

So with that nesting in the back of my mind, I opened up my e-mail to discover that I had won free tickets from the The Fresno Beehive (thanks again!), to check out the LOL Comedy show. The lineup is fairly new to me, but then I’m not exactly a walking encyclopedia of working comics. Which, also makes it kinda cool, since I really have no idea what to expect from these guys and no clue if they can handle a Fresno crowd.

The evening kicked off with the music of the Super Lucky Catz. A local group headed up by front man Robert Andrew Gushel-Barron. Described to me as a funk band, they challenged my idea of funk. When I think of funk I think P-funk, Soul Brother #1 James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Curtis Mayfield. Get down and get funky, funk! Super Lucky Catz’ style is a lot softer than I would have expected. That’s not to say that they aren’t good. Just the opposite. Everyone in the band was spot on in their performance. It’s just that deep inside me, I really wish that they would really unleash their bass player and keep that slap bass rolling, turn up the levels on their guitarist and really let him wail on those 4 guitars he has. To my uneducated ears, they’re a little more adult contemporary than funky. But still, a really good performance.

Oh yeah, isn’t this a comedy show? Finally, openers! The first comic out wasn’t on the bill and sadly, I have a memory like an alzheimer’s patient with a concussion. However, I do remember that his bit was actually rather funny. He had a riff on the “you might be a redneck” bit, but with the Fresno twist of “you might be a tweaker”. As well as a pretty good spread of meth themed humor and a couple character quick changes. First out of the gate was definitely a hit with crowd.

Up next was a local cat by the name of Feather Da’wyz. He had a more traditional comedy club style set, hitting various universal topics like ageing, penis size and the frustrations of dating. He owned his material very well and approached some pretty beat up topics with a fresh perspective and definitely got the laughs. He ends his bit with “The Cell Phone Song” in which he sings out 7 numbers and gets the crowd to sing along. Once you’ve done it 3 or 4 times, he lets you know that it’s actually his cell and to feel free to text him after the show to find out other spots he’ll be performing at. And you know, it worked. I’ll be happy to go check him out again, just to see the full spectrum of his material.

Quinn Dahle, a SoCal transplant from Minnesota is up next. Again, another polished comedy club act. He works the observational humor fairly well. And he REALLY skirted the dangerous edge in such a multicultural crowd. But damn it, he actually wrung a few bellows of laughter out of me before I realized I should be self conscious and shut the hell up. Gotta give him props for throwing down a bit of challenging comedy. For sure, a guy to keep an eye on. If he finds his groove you might be seeing a lot more of him.

At last, a break! Quick jaunt through the legions seeking a beer towards the doors for a smoke. So far, I have to say that I’m very pleased with the whole experience. The comedians have delivered actual comedy. And in general I’m actually somewhat shocked at the good behavior of the Fresno crowd. Sure, there are a couple gabblers and some shout outs to the comics. But the comics are comfortably in their element and my fellow show goers are having fun without being total jackasses. Go Fresno comedy crowd!

Headliner time! If you’re 30 years old or older and a Central Valley native that actually chilled with any Latino family, Rudy Moreno will absolutely kill. Maybe some of the younger kids with more old school households can get it, but as a farm kid from the outskirts of town many moons ago, his bits really hit home. Here is where you see a seasoned pro who has done his homework. Not only does he riff on themes from an old school Latino childhood upbringing contrasted against today’s modern snotty little so and so’s, but was able to pander to the crowd by tearing up the neighboring towns like Tulare and even picked on the poor portly security guard and used him as a sounding board throughout his set. It shows forethought and preparation for doing a good show here. It makes me feel good that the headliner REALLY wanted to give Fresno a performance we’d like. Top that off with actually being really funny, he really earned that top slot and did a fabulous job giving us the finale we wanted. Overall, a great show and easily worth the ticket price for 3+ hours of entertainment and comedy. And they served beer!

Oh. So since it’s a food blog, I’m required by internet law to talk about food in some capacity every post? Well, crap. Ok. We actually were pretty famished before the show, so we ducked into the mighty Tower Dog for a bite. My beloved rocked the California Dog, while I was trying to stuff down a Polish Dog like an anaconda sucking down a capybara. Every time I eat there I discover something else that makes me smile. This time it was my mouth telling me that they actually make their relish in some form of a fresh manner. I could be wrong though. Which is why I approached one of the men involved for an interview. Don’t get your merkin in a twist just yet. I’ve got a backlog of recipes I’ve got to spew all over the tummy of my dear bloggy- blog. But SOON™ we’ll give you a secretive peek into what makes these dogs my favorite.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eating Out Myself

And so we return, dear readers.  I have retreated to the Cave of Grumpiness, now that the Rogue Festival has come and gone.  Truly it was a grand two weeks for myself and many many others.  Shows were rocked, crowds were wowed and lots of new friends and acquaintances were made.  A hearty thank you to everyone who participated in the Rogue this year, from the organizers to the volunteers to the audiences themselves.

All that said, onto the foodings.  A strong lack of time and spare cash conspired to keep me from embracing as many Tower eateries as I would have liked.  But have no fear, I have every intention of Eating Out Tower and leaving her mewling and sloppy in my wake.  But until I can miracle up enough cash, we're going to focus on what we're Eating Out at home.

A favorite treat of mine is a dish I learned at the table of a disgraced mobster, who had been exiled from the home country for reasons unknown.  He was dating a rather promiscuous and somewhat foolish friend who had invited us up to his Hollywood Hills home for dinner.  So after some small talk about how he was Italian Special Forces, a former mining engineer, a single engine prop-plane pilot and what the current market prices of Bolivian booger sugar was, I came to the conclusion that he was the real deal and I had better buckle in, shut up and hold on.  And now, I'm afraid that my fiercly clenched sphincter was going to leave a spiral pattern in the seats of his redwood dining chairs.  But a dish was brought out that was so delicious that I was (foolishly) able to relax.  Such is the magic of pasta carbonara!

And then I find out that it's stupid easy to make!  The hardest part is finding pancetta, which is readily available at Sam's Italian Deli.  From there it's just a bit of planning and moxy.  So be not afraid!  And if you're too cheap for pancetta, you can easily substitute the same amount of bacon.  It's a little different, but still amazing.  So here's what you'll need.

1lb spaghetti (or linguini)
4 eggs (3 if they're large)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb pancetta (sliced thick, 1/8th inch)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup romano cheese (both grated)
fresh cracked pepper

Now, before some purist yells NUH UH!  THAT AIN'T HOW GRANDMA MAKES IT!  Well, you're right.  So go eat a dick.  We're making it this way this time.  I've done it in the past with only egg yolks.  Hella yum, but this is less of a pain in the ass.  So suck it.

First!  Give your pancetta a dice.  I like mine a bit chunky, so I keep it 1/8th inch cubes.  Then add it to a nice pre-heated pan, deep enough to take about a pound of pasta.  You'll find out why soon.  Now cook down the pancetta until you render the fat from it.  Unlike regular bacon, it'll start to look done long before it is.  Lower heat will help prevent burning.  But melt as much fat as you can out of the pancetta.  Once it's well done but not terribly crunchy, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate.  Drain the fat and reserve 2 tablespoons for later naughtyness.

Somewhere in all of this you should have already started the water for your pasta.  So, now would be the time for you to cook said pasta.  Because you'll be using the following 7 minutes to beat your eggs together with the cream.  Then toss your cheese in with the eggs.  Now, take your pancetta pan and put it back on medium heat with your reserved fat.  Once it's warm, your pasta should be done.

Now comes the planning.  You need to get your pasta quickly and safely drained and into the pan before it can significantly cool, since it's going to save you from an ignoble death via salmonella ridden undercooked eggs.  Thats right!  The hot pasta cooks the eggs!  So stop dawdling and get it in the pan!  Give it a quick toss in the hot fat, throw in the pancetta and then pour your egg/cheese/cream mixture over the top.  Cut the heat.  Here I find it easiest to use a fork and spoon to toss the pasta and egg mixture together.  It will quickly emulsify into a creamy, gooey, bacon ridden delight.  Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and you're good to go.  I don't use any extra salt as I find there is plenty coming from the cheese and pancetta.

Get this plated and shoved into your face asap!  As it cools that sauce will sieze, so this is a one shot, eat it as you make it kind of dish.  But I dare you, no I double platipus vagina dare you to be able to walk away from a plate with even a smidgen of this God-made-food left on it.  If food could be narcissistic, I could easily understand this dish wanting to fuck itself and forsake all others.

Make it.  Eat it.  Make other people eat it.  I will wait patiently for your thanks.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eaiting Out from Behind

Many apologies dear readers for the belated follow up post. I figure I had best finish up the weekend review with the Sunday post before the next weekend is already here! So we left off at Saturday night, after I had been hustled into the waiting limo by my security team. Wait…that never happened. I think it was actually my girlfriend telling my drunk behind to get the hell in the car. Yea, that makes more sense.

Which brings me to Sunday! You know, art is a wonderful thing. It gives you a wonderful rush as you experience it. But a little known fact is that art also has one hell of a hangover. Combine that with the regular boozy hangover and Sunday morning is not my friend. Grub is definitely in order if we’re going to make it through the day. And drinks of course.

And then I’m told that Livingstone’s serves breakfast. WHAT?? I’ve been getting face-down there for over a decade and a half! I didn’t even know that they were open before noon. Stone’s it is then! Lead on, my magical breakfast leprechauns!

We settle in to grab a spot out on the patio and discover that our server from yesterday is again, ready, willing and waiting…on us again. Hooray! Nothing like not having to explain why everyone in your breakfast party is a board certified weirdo. So we tuck into our menus, booze is ordered and we get to make the hard decisions.

Overall it’s a pretty decent breakfasty-brunchy kind of menu. And then I see it. Dare I? I mean, after the last time I did this in Tower I was afraid that I’d be assassinated and dumped into the waste oil dumpster behind the Peach Pit. But no. I must do this. For me, for you, for America! I’m ordering their eggs benedict.

They’re pretty busy, but our food comes out before the ice in my screwdriver has much of a chance to melt. So here is my moment of truth. They look pretty good. A tablemate comments that their hollandaise appears to be bottled, but I’m not 100% sure and forgot to ask. It’s got a little pepper and what appears to be fresh parsley in it. That sorta breaks the absolute artistry of the plate, but hardly a reason to be upset. A little poke at the eggs reveals that someone in the kitchen has actually learned how to poach something! They’re a little overdone for my taste, but again, no reason for me to cry. Underneath, there is a decent slice of canukian back bacon. It’s ok, mildly smoky and has that slight nitrate tang that comes with wet packed pork. The muffin base is again, decently good. Thick and sturdy enough to hold up through the meal. It didn’t bring much taste to the dish, but it didn’t take away from it either.

In general it was a happy medium between the perfection I experienced at Gilly’s and the culinary insult that I had at Irene’s. This is what I expect from a restaurant that serves eggs benedict but doesn’t call them a specialty. It was tasty, well cooked and priced in the same arena as their other breakfast plates. I don’t know if I would outright recommend the dish to a fellow fast-breaker, but I certainly wouldn’t try to wave anyone off of it.

Also, as a pre-PS. Mrs. Eating Out Fresno wanted to jump in here with her opinion of The Works omlette with Stone’s country potatoes. She was quite pleased with her kitchen sink in an egg blanket. It was bursting at the seams with…well, everything! Looked to be spinach, avocado, mushrooms, red bell peppers and I’d guess some sausage. Hard to tell with that riot of color popping out from the egg. But she felt that the real star was her country potatoes. Personally, I flipping despise onions. I consider them a culinarily vulgar ingredient. That said though, I must admit these were some of the most beautiful country potatoes I’ve ever seen. The potatoes are crispy and nicely browned, while the peppers and onions aren’t mushy and overcooked. But the flavors are nicely mixed in the potatoes, so it’s not that they cook them separately and mix before plating. I can only guess that the potatoes are par cooked then the remaining veg is added and fried together. I might hate ‘em, but I’m sure you’ll love them.

So as we close the door on last weekend and are looking for the keys to open up the next one, I’ve come to one strong conclusion. There is a good reason that Livingstone’s is one of the only eateries in the Tower district that has survived the test of time and still resembles itself. They’re consistent, they’re kind and they love their customers. Whether you’re there for a nice dinner or just stopping in to wet your whistle, Stone’s is there for you. And I’m overjoyed about that.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Eating Out In Pain

Dear lord!  I had no idea that one weekend of the Rogue Festival would leave me so battered, bruised and exhausted.  Not to mention exhilerated and virtually bursting at the seams with pleasure at being exposed to so much artistic energy.  And somewhere in all of this we managed to get out at eat at a few spots

First meal of the Rogue was at a personal Tower favorite, Tower Dogs.  They're known for running various imaginative specials on top of their usual menu.  This month's was a very intriguing corned beef and cabbage dog.  And unlike the caliente dog or their cali(fornia) dog, this one needs some serious re-thinking.  The corned beef that is wrapped around their usual sausage comes out too crispy from being fried, as well as having no real corned beef flavor.  Same goes for the diced and sautee'd cabbage.  Poor, mushy texture and zero cabbage flavor.  Most of the time I'm overjoyed with my dog from them, but this one was a bit of a flop.  Points that could be improved, steam your cabbage and corned beef together!  Crockpot those bad boys together the night before, shred the corned beef and slice down the cabbage, portion and refrigerate.  When it comes time to serve, take a portion, toss into the saute pan and add on top of the dog.  In theory that will enhance the flavor of both and maintain the texture one wants when dealing with corned beef and cabbage.

Livingstone's was a frequent stop for cocktails and meals over this weekend.  We were exceedingly well taken care of by our waitress and I regret not getting her name, if for no other reason, than to give her a shout out for being a prime example of excellence in service.  Thank you darlin'!

So our first meal was a post-show dinner.  Included at our table was the british burger, black and bleu pasta and their chicken nachos for me.  The burger looked tasty, good looking bacon, juicy burger without the bun being soggy.  Next was the black and bleu pasta, which was very enjoyable.  It carries a nice creamy beef flavor without being dominated by the bleu cheese.  Onto the nachos.  All around a great appetizer for a group and a fine entree for two (the full order).  The toppings are generous without turning everything into a soggy mess.  The salsa and pico aren't exactly challenging or even very warm, but they do taste good.  I'm just more partial to a spicy sauce for my nachos.  Add to this a couple of their famous (infamous when you're hungover) long island iced teas.  Another long time favorite of mine.  I don't know what makes theirs different, but Stone's LITs get you lit pretty damn fast.  And I don't mind that so much.  Definately a good base buzz before we head into the Uncle Bucky show.

After a shower of fried chicken and Mickey's big mouths, we head out with a mixture of the casts of Uncle Buckys and Cap'n Scurvy's for some after-show celibration.  Both casts were buzzing pretty strong from great performances and excellent attendance by a hip and interested Rogue crowd.  So it's definately time for some debauchery.  We move on to The Landmark where the beer is flowing and the mixed drinks float by as performers and artists mingle with fans and locals.  Rogue lends a very relaxed and happy vibe to the Tower District watering holes.  People are smiling and laughing and sharing their experiences.  They're also a bit hungry and order some french fries and some zuccini sticks to share with a tipsy food blogger in need.  Fries were normal.  Hot, crunchy outside and pillowy inside.  Not bad considering the late hour.  The zuccini sticks also were fairly good.  They came out hot and still crunchy, so there was no sitting around under a heat lamp.  The ranch was ranch.  Not exactly gourmet, but who cares?  Hot, tasty and NOW is what one's wants with their drinks and we got it.  And again, great, friendly service by our waitress.

And I guess all this silliness begs for explanation as well.  What you're witnessing here is the post show chicken feed behind the Uncle Bucky's show.  Including the artist known as the Reverend Ezekiel Ignatius Flatbottom, Cap'n Scurvy and Mr. July along with his beloved Margeurita partipating in what was called the Group Grope Wing Ding.  Room temperature chicken, excessive amounts of questionably created liquors and inadvertantly shared bodily fluids created a whirling tornado of faith, filth and unsanitary food holding practices.  Simply being in the vicinity has had me riding the red hot rocket thrust of ill conceived culinary comedy in my bathroom for the past 2 days.  C'est la vie I guess.  When food gets funny, there is bound to be some collateral damage.  And on that note, I think we'll save the review of Sunday's fare until after I can stop mewling on the little pee-catcher carpet in front of my porcelain throne.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Roguesplosion! All over my pants...

My lord.  If you had told me I could jam that much art and that many restaurants into my rickety frame within a 24 hour period...well I don't know what I would have called you, but it would have been complimentary.  I sit before you and my keyboard, enriched, befuddled and more that a little boozy.

So where do we go?  Art or food?  I think sausage counts.  So thats an easy lead-in for The Apocalypse Hoedown.  And I never did get my damn Pabst or indian tacos from Uncle Bucky's, just some room temperature fried chicken and a quick peep show.  Brain bleach anyone?

Sticking with the art movement, we were able to sleaze our way into the Saturday evening showing of Burnt at the Steak, which honestly blew my thong off.  Those big ass provelone balls aren't just for show.  She's gonna rub 'em in your face while spitting some serious Guido lyrics straight from '99!  Pasta fagioli!  She sings like a bird, swears like a sailor and ain't too damn hurtful on your eyes.  Best ogle her before she heads back towards cooler climes you eager beaver eaters!

Wait, this is still a food blog right?  Hell yes it is!  As pretentious as I can make it.  And now with more pictures than is practical!  To keep it under a mile long, all of the meals from tonight will be (poorly) pictorally represented.  Then, after the hangover kicks in, I'll string together the words that will make the chefs and owners want to jab my liver with a frog giggin' fork.  So before I embarass myself further...Pictures!!

I know!  It's by pure intestinal fortitude and the power of Captain Scurvy's elixer of panacea that I didn't have to change the title of this piece to Barfing Deep In the Rogue's No-No Bits.  I am well and truly stuffed and drunk enough to be a hazard to my fellow humans.  So I bid thee good morning gentle-whatevers!  Until morning and the inevitable and dreaded hangover.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Eating Out On Stage?

No, it's not what you're thinking.  This is actually a pleasant suprise!  Not only is there plenty of good food to see and eat around the Rogue, there's actually food IN the Rogue!

No, it's not Yan Can Cook: The Wok Chronicles Musical.  Although, now that I say it, that could be pretty awesome.  Nope, it's a one woman show from the wilds of deepest darkest New York.  Her name is Carolann Valentino and she's performing Burnt at the Steak at the Starline.  She sings, does amazing changes in character right before your eyes and swears better than the most grizzled, greasy back haired line cooks. 

All this AND she can run a 5 star steakhouse in the most demanding culinary market in all the land?  This is a show right up the collective alley of food fans who enjoy the hellish humor that goes hand in hand with serving a demanding and shockingly ignorant public.  Picture a hot, corset wearing, never did heroin version of Anthony Bourdain if he worked the front of house.

So she is definately going to the top of the pile of must-see shows we're looking forward to this Rogue.  Right after Captain Scurvy's Apocalypse Hoedown Revival of course!  Some other talents that have piqued our interest include, A Cynic Tells Love Stories, Jesus in Montana (looks HILARIOUS!), The Last Straight Man in Theater, Pipe on the Hob, Merlinda Espinosa, Burning Man & the Reverend NugeThe Suicide Lounge and of course the ladies of the Fresno Burlesque Society in Carnival Carnivale.

Oh!  And I must not forget.  I was bribed with promises of indian tacos and Pabst Blue Ribbon by the cast of the Uncle Bucky's Trailer Style show to pander to their depraved rendition of scantily clad mobile home afficionados gyrating in an obscene amalgamation of dirty southern rock and the bare shanks of lite beer fed, G.E.D-lacking, trailer trash trick turning trollops!  Expect daisey dukes, inappropriate belching and music that comes from that special place you hit after the 5th 5th and right before you get your stomach pumped.  Hailed as a tour de force by Mike Upton, this kid I went to Jr. High with.  Fun for toothed and toothless alike says Mee-Maw, famed local knitting artist.

I better get those damn tacos and beer!!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eating Out Rogue Festival

Our own internationally famous Rogue Festival is about to kick off this Thursday.  And we're doing our part by make sure to sleaze our way into the booths and tables of the unsuspecting Tower eating establishments to leave them in complete disarray.  Covered and smothered in a film of crumbs and mysterious viscous fluids.

For the performers and volunteers of the festival, the work has already begun.  The setting up of venues, the plastering of flyers, online promotion blitzes.  Final rehearsals, tweaking costumes and art projects and itineraries of which shows are a must-see.  And speaking of a show that you simply must see, I must shamelessly plug and pander to friend of the blog Captain Scurvy's Apocalypse Hoedown Revival

Vaudevillian humor and miracle alchemical healings.  Chills!  Thrills!  And absolute abject terror!  Guaranteed to make Bob Hope roll in his grave every time you see it!  So go see it!

Pandering over.  Back to our regularly scheduled snark.  We kick off Eating Out Rogue Festival by doing what we do best.  Getting drunk!  So we're off to the The Sequoia Brewing Company for some beers and some snacks.

Sequoia is a more recent incarnation of the beloved Butterfield's brewpub.  As I understand it, along with the business, Sequoia also bought Butterfield's recipes.  I was always a fan of the tower dark, but I'm more in a refreshing beer kind of mood.  So I order their German kolsh, called the Sequoia Gold.  It's pretty damn good!  It's got the lightness of a pilsner, but the bitterness is mellowed to a mild afternote.  The flavor is almost sweet, just teasing that line from the dark Munich malt.  I loved it and will certainly wind up regretting drinking plenty more.

The last 2 minutes of the USA vs. Canada hockey match was on, so we were decidedly distracted during the ordering process as we cheered the tying goal.  Poor thing, she dealt with our sophomoric bellowing in stride.  Our group ordered: potato skins, chicken fried steak, green salad, sausage plate appetizer (a re-tread of a Butterfield's favorite) and garlic fries. 

The food arrived in good time.  Especially given how busy it was on a Sunday afternoon.  The potato skins appeared fairly average.  Not exactly artful presentation, but they had fairly generous toppings.  The chicken fried steak didn't really appear to be anything special.  By appearance alone it seemed to be a pre-formed and breaded frozen patty tossed in a fryer.  However the sweet potato fries that came with it were quite good.  They come with a rather tasty aioli.  The salad was salad.  Pre-mix with bottled dressing, croutons and a few raisins.  Nothing to write home about, but adequate.

Now we come to my old favorite.  Once upon a time, this plate introduced me to amazing and wonderful sausages I had never tried.  And it allowed me to try each as an individual, similar to a cheese platter or beer sampler.  Not any more.  What I got was a red, greasey mess of muddled flavors.  The plate is supposed to come with andouille, italian and bratwurst sausages.  With all the brick colored grease, it's obvious that they've thrown all of the sliced sausages in to fry together with the onions and jalepenos.  Sadly, this results in a poorly muddled mess that, while edible, does nothing to enhance the enjoyment of a good sausage.  The fries were all right, with a dusting of parmesan and parsley, though lacking in any real garlic flavor.  I'll address the real outrage next.

Prices!  Oh my god!  This is the most lopsided menu I have ever seen in my life!  Eight dollars for french fries?  NINE for fried pickles?!?  What planet are we on, where two of the cheapest ingredients around can run you just as much as an entree?  It's fucking potatoes and pickles!!!  A burger is a buck fifty more and it COMES WITH FRIES!  I'll concede that the food is edible, even tasty in some instances.  But if I'm paying entree prices for some damn french fries there had better be some sort of magical theater or art applied to them.  Send out a crying mime to weep over my empty wallet.  Instead of ranch, send them out with some lidocaine booty butter lubricant so we don't need butt doughnuts to sit down after we get the check.  Tickle my no-no's!  Something!

All in all, Sequoia is a fine brewery that still serves cold and tasty beer.  As a restaurant though, they need to make a decision to smarten up their menu as well as their presentation.  The sausages were a mess, the chicken fried steak was an embarassment and the price gouging for seasoned fries was outright astounding.  If you're peckish, their chips and salsa are only two bucks.  Is nothing complimentary any more?  Sheesh!  The dinner menu appears a little more on the reasonable side, but the appetizers just aren't worth what you pay.  So, you might want to toast your friends on a full stomach.