Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eating Out A Landmark

Actually, THE Landmark. You see, after we didn’t totally screw up during the premier of the Cooking With Pook segment on Central Valley Buzz! 4-6pm weekdays on channel 33.1 and webcast, (Like that artfully rammed in plug? Thought you would.) so we felt that we deserved a bit of a victory dance after our premier and dropped in for a bite. More about the mighty ‘Mark later.

Let’s talk about MEEEE! Oh my god! I cooked on TV! And it was a ton of fun! I got to make my pasta carbonara recipe. And you know that old saying about watched pots and boiling water? Multiply that by 10,000 when you’re doing your best not to look like a complete ass on TV! Oh my god, it took that pot of water damn near an hour to go from tap to boiling. But beyond that, it was all smoothies. The pancetta rendered nicely, the sauce came out an acceptable texture, the pasta wasn’t too bad. And it looked ok. Creamy pasta isn’t exactly going to jump off of your screen in brilliant HD. My real boner though, was off-camera. I didn’t make enough for the crew! There’s a small army of hungry interns who are looking to jump me. Lesson: bring more next week. Look maw! I is on the Tee Vee!

And on to dinner. We took a wander around the Tower after the show, so that I might annoy any who would hold still, with tales of my nouveau célébrité. After having my inflated head booted out of a few living rooms, the hunger was upon us. First I thought about the take out pizzas over at Karch’s, since I could also get it home to the camera I left there. But alas, it was after 9pm. So we settled on the all night happy hour at the Landmark and a sad lack of food pics.

I’m actually at The Landmark quite a bit. So I found it a little strange that this is the first time that it occurred to me to review more than a couple plates of appetizers during the Rogue. It’s really a very nice Basque restaurant, with a medium sized back patio that they lovingly heat in the winter and have misters up to help beat down the raging Fresno summers. Their back dining room is fairly large and nicely appointed. And most importantly, even if it’s raging at the bar and on the patio, you can still hear yourself think while you’re eating in the dining room. A big plus when the restaurant is also a popular night spot. And rather than clear out the tables for a dance floor, the kitchen stays open late so drinky pants can get their grub on and level out their buzz.

Menu stuff! And a gin and tonic, please. They’ve got a pretty wide menu, Basque style seafood dishes, lamb, beef, frogses. Even the terrifying escargots of snailness. But the spouse lady was down for some clamsian goodness for the appetizer. So, I chose the scalone, an apparent fusion of scallops and abalone (which I’ve never before seen on a menu for under $40), egg dipped and fried, similar to a calamari steak for my entree. The lady chose the shrimp scampi and we both went for the pasta alfredo as our side.

Their clams were pretty good. Only a couple were sporting the hated clam-sand-poop. Nothing sets you back as you’re mentally getting over the concept that you’re eating an entire animal, poop chute and all, than a nice, crown-damaging crunch to remind you that there’s an artfully stewed turd in that chewy little fellow. Doesn’t mean I didn’t finish ‘em and then dip some of their garlic bread in the butter, white wine, shallot and poop broth. Mmmmmm. And if you think that’s a little too gross, I’ll tell you a few tales of the dark side of sausages! To know what worcestershire sauce really is will make you faint dead away.

The salads were ok. Not much in the greens to get too excited about. My bleu cheese was fairly mild. Although the pickled beets on top were a fun touch that harkens back to the fancy salads of my youth, like the Lime Lite’s. Overall it wasn’t going to sink or float anything on it’s own. So we move on to our entrees. Both were hot and seemed to be fresh from the kitchen. There was a small delay, since our server was also handling the madhouse of the patio, so I was a bit worried. But he seemed to be well in synch with the kitchen and got our plates out within their tastiness tolerances.

I really liked the scalone! It was 3 medium sized, egg dipped and fried patties. Very similar to a calamari steak. But it’s all the difference when you bite into them. There is a much lighter texture than you get with squid, or even with scallops alone. And I finally understand the abalone obsession. When handled properly, they’re extremely tender and sweet. Absolutely perfect on their own, it’d be a sin to even add a squirt of lemon. Now I must find an abalone festival, that I might sate this heretofore unknown need.

The alfredo was fairly meh. It was certainly better than Lipton’s. But I think I may have had overly engorged standards by that point considering I had lunched on carbonara, destroyed the clam appetizer and already sampled the scalone. I was reaching the Danger-Full level. The clams had also done their damage to the spouse. But she bravely trooped her way through her shrimp scampi. I got a taste and really liked the flavor. Nice sized butterflied shrimp in a tasty garlic butter sauce with something new. Mushrooms. It makes complete sense now that I think of it, but they had to show me the truth of it. The shrimp themselves were a wee bit overcooked, but didn’t detract too much from the dish. Overall, we were really happy with dinner and our service. Not for the first time and most certainly not the last.

So, we’ve got ourselves a bit of a Tuesday spot on an awesome local TV station! I feel like I’m finally living out my dream of being a character in Weird Al’s movie “UHF”. I hope I get to jump out of a closet in a Channel 30 office and yell “Supplies!” while attacking their hired goons with mops during a clandestine mission to rescue Chuck’s abducted janitor, who will later go on to say some very regrettable things on stage in LA. With that fantasy in my head and a belly full of new and interesting seafood, I gotta say. Damn, it feels good to be a blogga!