Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Brunch

The weather has really been weird this year. Just when I think it is going to get cooler, it warms way up. But the trees think it is getting to be fall, so it must be going to happen.

Brunch is served!
So this weekend, my yoga teacher was out of town, and our friend Julie has decided to take a break from choir, so it seemed like a good time to gather  for a  fall brunch. I decided to make a Spanish Frittata: eggs, Monterey Jack cheese, Anaheim peppers, stewed tomatoes, and cooked onions. I thought this might be a little too spicy, but it wasn't. I should have used even more peppers. I served it with "Rachero Sauce" -- 2 cans of stewed tomatoes plus one can of Rotel tomatoes, and sauteed onion. I use the same sauce for Chili Rellanos.

Potatoes Ala "The Corner"
The fried potatoes were my version of fried potatoes we used to eat at a restaurant in Kansas City, MO called 'The Corner." (Sadly, I just learned that The Corner closed last February. And judging from the reviews on Yelp, the years had not been kind.)  This version calls for left over baked potatoes, onions and yellow and red bell peppers. I cooked the potatoes and sauteed the onions and peppers yesterday, and then this morning fried up some bacon, then browned the potatoes in the bacon grease. I crumbled in the cooked bacon when I served them up. Yes, they were fantastic.

Pomegranate and Orange Salad
We also prepped the orange and pomegranate salad yesterday. I had Joanne separate the seeds from the pith of the pomagranate. I think this was a one-time job. She now is clued into how much effort this is, and isn't eager to do this again! The way I do this is to use a large bowl filled with water, and separate the seeds from the pith. The pith (I love saying that! Pith! Pith! Pith!!!!) is lighter than the seeds, so it floats on the top and can be easily scooped out. I saw someone on tv cut the pomegranate in half and then beat on the back side with a rolling pin, dropping the seeds into a bowl. That works in principle. But as my friend Nancy used to say, "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are different." Juice spattered everywhere. And here's a clue: pomegranate juice stains. Big time. So I like my method better.

Fall Brunch Menu
Spanish Fritatta with Ranchero Sauce
Fried Potatoes ala "The Corner"
Breakfast sausages
Orange and Pomegranate Salad with Pomegranate Molasses
Assorted Breakfast Breads

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Restaurant Review: Next Door Bar and Grill

This green is the "signature" color!
I don't know what it is, but when I make up our grocery list every week (and menu), I just can't come up with seven dinners. Six, no problem. Seven, impossible! That was the case this week, so we went out last night. Instead of sushi, our hands-down favorite, we tried The Next Door Bar and Grill. For non-Rochester readers, NDBG is owned by a local grocery store chain. Doesn't that sound dismal? Well, Wegmans is not like any other grocery store you have ever been in, believe me. The Pittsford Weggies (dubbed "Taj MaWeggies" by our friend Sherri) is actually a tourist destination! You can read Yelp reviews about it here.

So last night we headed over to the Next Door. Right off the bat I loved the place because they have complimentary valet parking. The two young men were wearing apple-green polo shirts that exactly matched the sign. Nice -- I always wonder about a place when the valet help looks like they might steal your car. The boys were fresh faced and very welcoming.

When you walk in, you are greeted by floor to ceiling shelves with green apples, I assume Granny Smiths. They were very novel looking, but I had a hard time getting a decent picture so you will just have to let your imagination do the work.

The restaurant is very noisy in a clattery, bar room kind of way. Walking in I could hear J say, "oh, noisy!" so I asked the receptionist if they had a quiet table. She took us in to a side room that was quieter, although not really quiet, if you know what I mean.

 Our waiter asked if we would like a drink while we looked over the menu. I asked for a Cabernet, and she suggested a Spanish wine that they were featuring: Payra Tempanillow 2008. It was lovely -- fruit forward but full bodied. I got the name and am hoping to find some locally.

Bibb Salad
The menu was very creative. There were  two pages of sushi offerings -- which looked nice but the reason we were there rather than at our favorite sushi joint was because I wanted something different. We both ordered a bib lettuce salad, which had thinly slice radishes, asparagus, applewood smoked bacon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and what they called a herb vinaigrette. The dressing was very lemony, not in a bad way, but very strong tasting. They used a very light hand putting on the dressing, which is to our liking.

J's Mixed Robata Grill. 
J ordered the Robata Grill mix, which was little skewers with pork, chicken, beef, eggplant, and asparagus. It was a beautiful dish, but I don't know that she would order it again. One of the meats (I thought it was the beef, she thought it was the pork) was about half fat. Now, I like my fat as much as the next girl, but Miss J is not a fan.

I ordered the salmon, which came with a very novel slaw. The slaw was made of a little grated red cabbage, arugala, sea weed, and cilantro leaves, dressed with a sesame dressing. I think it needed a little more salt, but it was really interesting. I never thought to put wakame in a slaw. Or cilantro either. I think this slaw would be great on my fish tacos and will try it next time.

Grilled salmon with slaw and wontons
The salmon was served with a ginger vinegar dipping sauce and two fried wontons filled with minced salmon dressed with mayonnaise. The wontons were my least favorite part of the dish -- they were really thick, more like an old school fried pie than a thin delicate crispy wonton. I am a girl who never met a dumpling that she didn't like, but from now on when I say that I am going to add , "Except for some salmon filled fried wontons I had once."

Almond apple cake and snickerdoodle icecream
We didn't order an appetizer, so we had room for dessert. The dessert menu had a number of interesting things, including a creme brulee sampler with three different creme brulees. But we decided to share the almond apple cake, served with a scoop of snickerdoodle ice cream. This picture is really washed out because my phone was having a hard time capturing the ice cream on a white plate. But the ice cream was wonderful! I make apple pie with cinnamon ice cream for Thanksgiving frequently. (Not frequently enough for my daughter!). This dessert reminded me of that. The apple cake was very thin slices of apple, that had been stacked in a ramekin, and then a batter poured into it. It kind of made me think of a cobbler. The ice cream was on some pulverized sugary crumbs, and was the best part of the dish.

Bathroom sink
The restaurant was beautiful, including the bathrooms. Well, I can't really speak for the men's room. But the ladies' was lovely. The sink, which took up one entire wall, was made of a piece of heavy glass that was attached at a 45 degree angle from the wall. The water came out of a spigot that looked like a metal version of a Japanese water garden spigot. The water turned on automatically when you stepped up to the sink, and miracle of miracles, the water was warm! I hate cold water in bathrooms. This isn't a good picture, but maybe you get the idea.

Log decorations. Go figure!
Outside the bathroom was a wall decorated with hanging logs. Yes. Hanging logs. I know that sounds weird. It looked kind of weird too! But it must have been economical and definitely was thinking outside of the box!

I don't know if I will get J to go back. She tends to like to try new things rather than go back to a place. And I had the better meal of the two of us. But I would go back. I  thought the Next Door Bar and Grill was lovely and recommend it to you!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Garden Report

Garden gloves - J's ingenious way of keeping them organized
We definitely enjoy a change of seasons here in Rochester. The problem is, you never quite know when Mother Nature is going to flip the switch, and the mild days of late summer/early fall become the rainy, miserable days of late fall. So every fall, we have endless debates about when should we actually cut everything back.

J trims before mowing. Last mow of the season?
Today we had 70 degrees, sun, and high wispy clouds. There is still a lot of stuff blooming in the garden -- blackeyed susans, zinnias, obedient plant (a plant that must have been named with a wish rather than reality because it is NOT very obedient!). There are probably 40 rose buds ready to pop. And the bachelor buttons are making a comeback. So it seems too early to finish cutting everything back. I did do a really serious trimming back of the herb garden -- but I bet there isn't anything I could do that would seriously affect the mint or chives, is there? Even after a cataclysm, mint would survive!

Remind me to plant more zinnias!
This year we didn't accomplish everything we wanted to in "Phase 4" of our gardening project. We wanted to get a dry well installed in the "new garden" to deal with some of the water problems that I created when I put the garden in. But it just didn't happen. Maybe next year. And we didn't get the fountain going either. J has the idea that if we change the the plastic tubing to a larger size, the flow will shoot up higher. I don't know -- we will see next year because we didn't finish it this year!

Strawberry Bed
One thing we did accomplish was to put in a strawberry bed. We installed a raised bed on the side of the house last year, but the lettuces we grew there were bitter and disappointing. So J thought we should give some strawberries a try. We planted one June bearing plants, and they have gone great guns! I was afraid they would have enough sun, but that hasn't been the case. Maybe next year we will have to consider adding an asparagus bed. J and I have the opinion that you can't have enough asparagus!

Obedient Plant
We still have a few things we want to do before the end of the year. For one, I ordered a ton of tulip and daffodil bulbs. And allium. And some other stuff that I can't remember. When they show up, we will have to pop them in the ground. We also want to remove a rather significant limb from the red bud tree that is shading the climbing rose too much. And of course, the rest of the cutting back. So we probably have 2 or 3 more happy days in the garden. And then it's time to start dreaming about next spring, when there will be even more things to do and plant and trim and enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Last Rose of Summer

"The Last Rose Of Summer"

'Tis the last rose of summer left blooming alone
All her lovely companions are faded and gone
No flower of her kindred, no rosebud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes and give sigh for sigh

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one, to pine on the stem
Since the lovely are sleeping, go sleep thou with them
Thus kindly I scatter thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead

So soon may I follow when friendships decay
And from love's shining circle the gems drop away
When true hearts lie withered and fond ones are flown
Oh who would inhabit this bleak world alone?
This bleak world alone ?

PS: Miss J suggested that I give attribution to the poet -- and she was right! The Last Rose of Summer was written by the Irish poet Thomas Moore in 1805. It was set to music the first time by Sir John Stevenson. For more interesting info, see Wikipedia

Sunday, September 5, 2010

St. Rocco's Festival

St. Rocco
If you like to go to festivals, the Rochester area is the place to be. This weekend, Laurie, Pat, Liz, J, and I made the journey out to the St. Rocco's Festival near Holley, NY. There we bumped into friends and family of Pat's. You may not have heard of St. Rocco -- I hadn't. St. Rocco is invoked against cholera, epidemics, knee problems, plague, skin diseases. He is the Patron Saint of bachelors, diseased cattle, dogs, falsely accused people, invalids, Istanbul, surgeons, tile-makers, gravediggers, second-hand dealers, pilgrims and apothecaries. He is typically shown displaying the plague sore on his leg, and with a dog who has a loaf of bread in his mouth.That's because when St. Rocco was stricken ill with plague (which he contracted while nursing the sick), he withdrew to the forest where he lived in a hut. A dog miraculously appeared and fed him bread, and healed him by licking the Saint's wounds. Personally, I think that the dog is the saint in the story, but that's just me.

Fried Dough
The number one attraction for us was the food: shells, meatball subs, eggplant parmigiana, pizza, Italian sausage, hots, french fries and fried dough were offered. I had shells and eggplant. My egg plant was wonderful. That's a dish that is generally too much work for me to want to make it at home, so it is great to get it out. The fried dough was the clear winner, and I went back for seconds!

Liz knows when to quit!
Besides the food, there were games of chance, of course. At this festival, they offered both roulette, and the pull-open tickets. Lizzie hasn't met a game of chance that she doesn't love, I think, and she made quite a killing on the roulette wheel. She wasn't saying how much she actually won, but I think the roulette wheelman's expression in this picture says it all, don't you????

Boccie Ball
We didn't play in the boccie ball tournament -- but only because we didn't know about it in advance. St. Rocco's sports five "permanent" boccie ball lanes, and the tournament was in full steam while we were there. Maybe next year, eh, G's????? I didn't see any female teams -- I think we should shake things up a bit, don't you???

"These little town blues...."
Produce for sale
St. Rocco's also had a "DJ" and he was spinning an eclectic mix that included tunes like "Achey Breaky Heart" and "Twist and Shout". When the G's heard "New York, New York" -- obligatory at any celebration held in the Empire State -- they couldn't hold back. The festival season isn't over yet -- we still have the Clothesline Festival next week -- but it is definitely winding down. Soon it will be winter again and we will all be holed up in our nests, looking forward to Super Bowl weekend. But for now, it's still summer  (at least until the 21st!) and we are having fun!