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Archive for the ‘Going out’ Category

Seekret Dinner – June 27, 2011

Posted by Jeanne on July 10, 2011

After my crabby McDonald’s post earlier this week, now WordPress has suggested that I use a new theme for my blog.  It’s called “fruit shake.”


Anyway, WordPress’ weirdness notwithstanding, we went to a seekret dinner on Monday, June 27 and I am just getting around to writing about it!  It was great.  I suppose the proper term is “underground dinner” but this is my blog and I do what I want.


The dinner was held at New York Chicken & Gyros, and chef/owners Paul Urban and Jessica Joyce made some lovely food and were excellent hosts.
Additional chefs were Lionel Have of the Omaha Country Club, and Joel Mahr, who I believe is sous chef at Spencer‘s.  Chef Have is as old school French as they come and has trained and influenced an enormous number of chefs in the Omaha community (and elsewhere).


Now for the food:


Amuse:  Savory smore.  Foie marshmallow, bitter chocolate, fleur de sel, cracker.

Both weird and awesome.  The bitter chocolate and salt were great foils for the sweet graham cracker bits.


First:  Confit of calf’s tongue, warm fingerlings, sauce gribiche.

Tasty.  The tongue had the texture of corned beef, which I thought was lovely and which freaked out a couple of my dining companions.  More tongue for me though!  I have never had sauce gribiche in Omaha and it was very, very tasty.  New York C&G serves it with their fish & chips according to their menu board, and I must try the combination as soon as possible.


Second:  Duck Tourtiere, duck demi-glace, cherry gastrique, garlic scape, fiddlehead fern.

Also tasty.  Curt’s favorite course by far – Curt is a terrible slut for anything ducky though.  The garlic scape was raw and I wish it would have been blanched – it was not really meant to be eaten as presented.


I tend not to like inedible garnishes.  I am kind of a brat though.


Third:  Seared bluenose bass, lemon confit, pea puree, leek, saffron jus.



Fish was slightly overcooked and needed a little salt, but had a really nice crust.  Saffron jus was delicious.  So delicious, in fact, that I poured some down the front of my shirt.  D’oh.


Fourth:  Mano de Leon scallop, carrot butter, jalapeno oil, crispy pig ear.



Really nice.  The scallop was perfect.  I would have preferred a little more jalapeno oil, because I really liked the hit of heat with the the rich carrot butter.  Must figure out how to make carrot butter.  The pig ear was super crunchy – like bacon turned up to 11.  I loved it but others at the table did not – more pig ear for me!


Fifth:  Calvados salute!



The items in the center of the plate are dried apples, to eat before the shot, not after like tequila/lime.  Boozy.  Jeanne likey calvados.


Sixth:  Plum Creek Farms breast of chicken, oyster mushroom, langoustine, dumpling, sauce supreme.



Tasty but at this point we were starting to get REALLY full.  The langoustine was out of this world – I wish I knew how it was prepared.  The only thing wring with this is that my dumplings were cold and had kind of an unpleasant texture because of the temperature issue.


Dessert:  trio of strawberry rhubarb.



Rhubarb tart in pink peppercorn short pastry, sour cream ice cream; rhubarb gelee topped with strawberry foam (? the whole thing was molded, not sure what I would call the strawberry part) and some rhubarb confit and pistachios.  The last one was a shooter – rhubarb infused syrup lightened with soda water.  All delicious.


Bottom line:  the whole meal was very good, with a few minor missteps.  I hope that the chefs who participated feel it was worth their time and effort.  I think it was an amazing opportunity for us as diners to see what chefs can do and create when given the freedom to cook what they want to cook, how they want to cook it.  I would totally go again, and I hope I have the opportunity to do so.

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The problem

Posted by Jeanne on May 31, 2011

The problem with failing to update for a period of time means that now I feel like I owe some kind of epic, awesome post.   Instead, I have opted to just continue along like nothing happened at all.

This will not be an epic, awesome post.

The problem with having a trained chef visit you is that you eat like freaking royalty for days and days, and then your pants don’t fit.  But man, it was fun.

Friday night we grilled salmon and shrimp that had been marinated in a honey-ginger-cumin-cinnamon mixture.  Served over spicy couscous and with braised baby bok choy on the side.

I swear there is salmon under all that greenery.

There it is.  SALMON!  So very, very tasty.

Saturday we ate at Grey Plume.  Go there now if you live in Omaha and haven’t been yet.  It was amazing.  The four of us had:

-Charcuterie plate

-Butternut squash soup garnished with foie gras, some really nice veggies, and house-cured duck proscuitto.

-Short rib appetizer – braised short rib with dark chocolate, candied pecans, lavender powder, some gelee that I didn’t get to try because Curt and Scott ate it all, candied grapefruit rinds, and grapefruit supremes.  The grapefruit melded well with the dish, leaving only a slight bite in the finish to the sauce – and I normally despise grapefruit.

-Dungeness crab agnolotti – on the menu it’s listed with spring peas, wild ramps, lemon marmalade, baby carrot, and fennel.  So amazing.

-Rabbit – the entree that was mine and the only one I photographed (I didn’t bring the camera, this was taken with my phone).  It’s not on the menu anymore, but I remember sunchokes, rhubarb, and ramps.

The rabbit is wrapped in blanched ramp greens (is that what they’re called?).  It was unbelievably good.

-Chicken – this was really amazing – it was also served in roulades and the skin was astonishingly flavorful.  I have no idea how it was cooked but I am going to try and find out, dammit.  With kumquat, baby turnips, apple, and maitake mushrooms.

-Halibut – served with creme fraiche spaetzle, butternut squash, green garlic, and black truffle.    Delicious and powerfully flavored, and the fish was perfectly cooked.

Sunday night I made braised pork belly (which will get a post of its own), and then we had the same thing on Monday morning for breakfast topped with a fried egg.  And then fajitas for lunch/dinner before we had to take Scott to the airport.

Everything was delicious and I’m feeling a bit more inclined to be back in the kitchen, which is a good thing.

Oh, except for the final problem, which is that our dishwasher is broken again so I’m also feeling inclined to not use any more dishes than absolutely necessary.

Thanks to Scott for coming to visit!

Posted in Cooking, Going out | 2 Comments »

Piccolo: head to head

Posted by Jeanne on September 5, 2010

Long time, no talk… I’ve just returned from Minneapolis where we were catering some wedding events for friends of friends.  We did appetizers for a post-groom’s-dinner after party on Friday evening, and a gift-opening brunch this morning.  I’ll post more about their events soon – I feel like things went really well and the bride and groom were very happy.

So.  Piccolo.  I know we are total Bourdain fanboy geeks but after seeing his profile of the restaurant on the No Reservations Heartland episode, we had to go there.  Curt called 5 times to see if they had openings on Thursday, Friday, and then we got in for dinner on Saturday night.

It was PHENOMENAL.  We had such a hard time picking dishes, and picking favorites was even harder.  I decided to go through and pick a favorite out of each course – and please don’t think that this meant any of the dishes were in any way bad.  Everything was delicious, but some were better than others.

I apologize for my lack of ability to remember the sauces.  Or the one dessert.

The restaurant is really, really tiny.  I think there were probably a dozen tables total?  Everything is served in small portions – each plate is 3 to 5 bites of food.  The menu on Saturday had 13 options plus 3 desserts.  It was kind of great because we got to try quite a few things but choosing which ones to try was nearly impossible.

First course:

“Smoked” razor clams, artichoke and pumpkin giardinia, spicy peppers, lemon basil oil

Tempura fig, goat cheese, aniseed cookie/cracker

Winner:  Razor clams – the fig was excellent but I wanted it to be a dessert and not a savory course.

Second course:

Scrambled eggs, pickled pig’s feet, truffle butter, and Parmesean

Mortadella agnolotti, pistachios, lardo, and Dijon mustard

Winner:  Scrambled eggs. I NEVER thought I would absolutely love something with pickled pig’s feet.  And I would like to bathe in these.

Third course:

Pork belly, proscuitto, brussels sprouts, roast chesnuts, unremembered sauce

Pressed duck thigh, proscuitto, pickled Bing cherries, unremembered sauce

Winner:  Draw. I cannot possibly choose.  I started with the duck and when it came time to trade dishes,  I was actually sad to give it up and try the pork.

Fourth course:

Squid stuffed with Portuguese chourico sausage, shoshito peppers, unremembered sauce

Butter-poached cod, celeraic, unremembered sauce

Winner:  Squid.  The peppers were AWESOME, and the stuffed squid was really fantastically prepared.  The cod was also fantastically prepared but it suffered from being… too cod-like.  Poor cod.

Dessert course:

Chocolate cider cake, figs

Molasses…thing, brown sugar topping

Winner:  Ok, this is pathetic. I don’t even remember what this dish was.  But it was a squishy panna-cotta-esque thing topped with chunks of brown sugar and it was really, really good. The cider didn’t really shine through in the chocolate dessert, although it was awfully good.

I’m happy to be back home but hot damn, I would love some more scrambled eggs with pickled pig’s feet.  So.  Go to Piccolo if you can get in.

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Minneapolis visit: Subo

Posted by Jeanne on June 7, 2010

Thursday night of the weekend we were in Minneapolis, we went to Subo.  I picked this place after seeing it compared to Ssam Bar on a Chowhound message board post.

The food was delicious and really exciting.  Everything is served on small plates and meant to share so we all got to try everything.  This is my favorite way to eat – I love and hate most traditional restaurants because I hate having to choose just one thing to eat.

Sorry the pictures are so dark – I was trying to be unobtrusive and not disturb the staff or drive the other patrons crazy.

First set:  green papaya salad rolls, green curry potato croquettes, deep fried pork belly lechon kawali.

Salad roll & croquette.  The roll was great – the papaya salad was nice and crispy and spicy.  Well-concieved and well-executed.  The croquette needed… something.  More curry?  More acid in the sauce?  It was tasty because it was made of fried potatoes, but it could have been better.

Pork belly.  Yum.  Weird though – I haven’t ever been served pork belly with bones in it.  It was kind of like a super-crispy short rib, if you can imagine such a thing.

Second set:  roasted “pork candy,” grilled sardines, seared scallops.

Pork candy.  I think this is great in other dishes (for example, it was in the pancit bihon we had later) but on its own I found it to be really overwhelmingly sweet.  Good texture though.

I didn’t get a decent picture of the grilled sardine.  Tiny fatty grilled little fishes are delicious but not particularly photogenic.

Seared scallops.  Very yummy and perfectly cooked – nice sear on the outside and tender inside.

Third set:  red snapper escabeche, pancit bihon.

Snapper.  Beautiful and the outside was nice and crispy – the middle pieces were not as good though.

Pancit.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love noodles?  I love noodles.  I have never had pancit in a restaurant before – this was fabulous.

Dessert:  beignets with kalamansi curd and spiced sugar.

Holy crap was this good.  I would like to bathe in the kalamansi curd – it was totally phenomenal.  Also, how can you go wrong with spiced fried dough?

Don’t get me wrong, there were some bumps.  The service needs work – we weren’t ever really clear who our server was and we ordered a dish we never got (and didn’t need by any stretch).  At least we weren’t charged for it.  The decor was kind of weird.  One of the walls was super-clean and tiled and modern looking, and the opposite wall seemed like it was trying to look spa-like and… relaxing?  Lots of bamboo and curtains.

But man, the food was good.

So was the company.

Posted in Food commentary, Going out | 1 Comment »

A weekend away

Posted by Jeanne on June 6, 2010

Some photos from our trip – more soon!

Naomi and I on their deck on Thursday.

Pancit from Subo in downtown Minneapolis.

Food from Mitch’s party on Saturday.

More details soon – laundry now!

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Pitch Pizzeria

Posted by Jeanne on February 5, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Pitch Pizzeria.  It was yummy and delicious, and a good time was had by all.

Things we liked:

  • Pizza.  We had a special pizza with broccoli raab and awesome fennel sausage, and a ‘shrooms pizza.  Both were delicious.
  • Decor.  Very modern, very cool.
  • Service.  Very quick and efficient.  We were seated within the wait time we were told and once seated did not have to wait long for either food or beverages.
  • Sides.  The brussels sprouts with pancetta were awesome – perfectly cooked, well seasoned, nice and bacony.  And the portion was just right for four people to share.  We suffered through the extra brussels sprouts with just the three of us though.

Things we didn’t like, but which are not deal breakers:

  • Wait.  It was super crowded (on a Friday night in Dundee, go figure) but it was also -5F outside so it got pretty crowded near the host(ess) stand.
  • Crust.  I think the crust could have been crisper, and I’m not sure if it was a function of over-topping or under-cooking.  I imagine that the line between under-cooking and burnt to a crisp and have to start over is pretty slim in this place.
  • Appetizer.  Everyone raved about the meatballs, but really – they were just meatballs.  The sauce was ok but not anything special.
  • Take-out.  Why a place in Dundee doesn’t have a take-out option is beyond me…

Final verdict – will return.  I think it would be fun to sit at one of the communal tables at some point, especially if it is just Curt and I.  It would be nice to be able to see how some of the other menu items look and hear about how they taste without feeling like I’m interrupting or just randomly interloping.

After all, if you’re sitting next to someone, you’re probably already interloping, right?

Posted in Going out | 1 Comment »

Going out: The Boiler Room Restaurant

Posted by Jeanne on October 24, 2009

We had dinner at The Boiler Room last night.  It was phenomenal – the best meal I’ve had in a long time.

The wine list is extensive, and considering I usually shop for wine by price and pretty label I was very happy they have a sommelier.  The plates don’t follow the typical Omaha restaurant tactic of serving you food as far as the eye can see – the servings were of reasonable size.   Everything was beautifully presented and delicious.

We had:

  • Grilled octopus starter – with green tomatoes and a bean ragu (Really great – tender and smoky, tasty but not chewy or tough.  And the beans were perfect.  I heart beans.).
  • Charcuterie plate – rilletes, jambon de paris, crespon, and pate de maison (Only blip – waiter told us the arugula salad in the center of the plate was kale.  Very odd.).
  • Duck confit with squash puree, chestnuts, kale, and mustard vinaigrette (slam dunk).
  • Pot roasted stuffed quail  (it was stuffed with kale and boudin blanc) with roasted carrots, fingerling confit, lardon, and onions (Also delicious, but served in a tiny pot that made it really difficult to take apart the bird.  Also, the pot was screaming hot so you couldn’t touch it.  The sauce was amazing though – earthy and rich and with a hint of allspice or nutmeg.)
  • Espresso pots de creme (very espresso-y and not too sweet).

We also split a bottle of wine – Vinchio-Vaglio Serra, Superiore Frazioni Nizza Laudana 2005 (Italian).  I never would have chosen it because it is Italian, but it was a really nice wine and paired well with the dishes.

Will definitely go again.

Posted in Food commentary, Going out | 1 Comment »