Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Amazing Three-Day Weekend of Eats

I still had lavash left over from the SausageFest the night before, and I wanted a snack in the mid-afternoon. So I put the last of the Angelo's spicy marinara sauce on a lavash with fresh basil and Kerrygold Dubliner - an aged Irish cheese similar to cheddar with a taste that is nutty and slightly sharp. It was as good as any pizza I've had recently.

My friend Tim just recently moved around the corner from me - literally a 30 second walk - and he had some people over Friday night for a small housewarming party. To start there was cheese, crackers and salmon. We had a beautiful Wensleydale cheese, goat cheese and brie. Of course we needed something to drink to accompany the appetizers....

Krug champagne worked wonderfully. But it went too quickly.

Luckily, there were plenty of other wines, all excellent.

Tim made a beef and barley stew for dinner. It was the best I have ever had. True, it was a cold, rainy night just calling out for a stew, and I had several nice glasses of wine inside me, but even without those factors I still would call this the best beef and barley stew I have ever had. I ripped off a hunk of bread and sopped up every drop of liquid left in the bowl.

Saturday morning I was watching Pitt vs. St. John's (if any of you are St. John's fans, welcome to the world of Steve Lavin basketball: beat Duke and Pittsburgh in the same season you lose to Fordham and St. Bonaventure) and I got hungry for breakfast. I took out two frozen hash brown patties and pan-fried them for a few minutes. When they were ready I topped each with some goat cheese, a few slivers of chopped basil, and McDonald's hot mustard sauce, the greatest complement to hash browns that I have ever tasted.

Since the moment we got our new camera a week ago, there is one thing in particular I've wanted to take a picture of: Animal Fries. Now I have. And I got a Double-Double Animal Style. Elizabeth had a cheeseburger. (Since a lot of people appreciated it a couple weeks ago when I let them know about the nail polish she was wearing, I will do that again: you can read about it right here.)

Obviously, everything at In-N-Out was awesome.

It's always the same routine with me and English Muffin pizzas: I don't have one for more than a year, then I make one, think Holy S**t this is delicious! Why don't I make these more often? From now on I'm going to make these all the time.

Then more than another year goes by before I make one. 

This time I added tomato paste (the pizza sauce with an expiration date of December 2011 had mold growing in it so I used paste, which isn't my favorite but will do in a pinch) salami, smoked gouda and dried Italian seasoning.

It was very good. From now on I'm going to make these all the time. 

I was in the mood for steak on a rainy night, to sit on the couch and watch the Slam Dunk contest and relax. So I got a flat iron steak from Taylor's and cooked it on a grill pan. I let it rest in foil while I fried up some curly fries and sauteed some spinach with butter and cracked pepper.

The USDA Prime steak was beautiful, just as it's always been, and once again it needed no condiment. It melts on the tongue.

It was a cold and rainy night so of course we went out for... ice cream. My brother and his friend Nick were going to Carmela so we said we'd go, too. They each got ice cream cones - the pic is of Nick's salted caramel in a waffle cone - and we got a quart of the same for later. I've had Carmela ice cream twice: once at the the South Pas farmers market (I loved it) and once when someone bought me a quart from this store a month ago, not long after they opened (I did not care for it at all).

This time, however, the ice cream was fantastic, some of the best I have ever had, and I ate two bowls of it for dessert. I guess the bad batch I got was the anomaly.

 I fried up some thick slices of bacon, layered them on an English Muffin with scrambled eggs, green onion, cheddar cheese and Taco Lita hot sauce and pressed the whole thing on the panini press. It was outstanding.

"Many years later I found myself talking to this girl
Who was standing there with her back turned to Lake Marie
The wind was blowing, especially through her hair
There was four Italian sausages cooking on the outdoor grill
And they were sizzlin'"

After seeing the lavash my friends and I had on Thursday night, my parents said they wanted some, too. I said okay. Sunday evening I went over to their house and made some.

Salami, mozzarella, and green onion.

Steak, caramelized onion, blue cheese, and olive oil.

Chicken Italian sausage and sauteed mushrooms with Basque shepherd's cheese. 

Basque shepherd's cheese and smoked gouda. 

Elizabeth saw my Popeyes Red Hot Popcorn Chicken that I wrote about the other day and she thought it looked good, so Monday afternoon we went there for lunch. She had the popcorn chicken combo and I ordered six piece nuggets (lousy and over-fried) and a "popcorn shrimp craver" (awesome). She let me have a couple pieces of her chicken and they were just as good as I remembered.

Popeyes has the best condiments of any fast food place. It's not even close, really. We had some cocktail sauce with the shrimp, spicy honey mustard and horseradish sauce with the chicken. All were delicious.

Monday afternoon I sat outside and had a glass of wine with my neighbor Harold and my friend Tim. Tim mentioned performing on Saturday Night Live. Harold mentioned recording an album in Daniel Lanois's New Orleans studio.

I mentioned playing the understudy of Frederick in my 6th grade production of The Pirates of Penzance.

Not surprisingly, neither of us were terribly hungry on Monday night. We decided just to have an appetizer for dinner. We had a package of fried cheese we got at Target simply because it was on sale. It turned out to be very good. Nothing terribly exciting, but something that would be a good snack most days, and a perfect small dinner on other days when you've eaten way too much over the weekend. 

It's funny, my grandmother passed away 9 years ago this month and I still can't eat fried cheese with honey mustard without remembering all those meals we had together at Tony Roma's when I was young.

Okay, that's all for this weekend. I mean, there were a couple meals I didn't write about, but more on those later...


Anonymous said...

That steak and blue cheese lavash pizza looked just insane-def going to have to try lavash pizza. And yeah...the krug didn't look to bad either.

Fritos and Foie Gras said...

and yeah that above comment was from me...im blog surfing at work... :D

JustinM said...

Now that's a relief... for a moment there I thought I was up to 15 readers.

Liz said...

I think I'm still full from this weekend! At first, I wasn't sure I would like lavash pizza but I really do. And even though I'm not a huge blue cheese fan (que the gasp) it was a nice addition to the steak and onions.

Anonymous said...

pp- where do you buy the lavashes? about how much are they?

JustinM said...

Trader Joe's. $1.99 for a package of 6.

Cafe Observer said...

I'm glad u gave Carmela's ice cream a 2nd chance otherwise I wooda doubted your tastes.
Was your lavash bread as good as CA Pizza Kitch??

JustinM said...

Wow I sure hope that's a joke about CPK.

SuperLarge said...

That stew was probably the best I've ever had, and that's not just because there was Krug along for the ride.

Nosh Gnostic said...

Saturday Night Live? I thought it was more impressive to have survived playing at Pappy and Harriet's Palace in Pioneer Town (the land of the shallow grave).

And thanks SuperLarge!

Ryan said...

Hey Justin, can you please tell me what you cooked the lavash bread pizza's at and the duration? Also did you put it on a baking sheet or a pizza stone?



JustinM said...

No problem Ryan: I go about 350 degrees and they take a little less than ten minutes. They crisp up really quickly and the amount of time it takes to go from doughy to burnt gets shorter and shorter at the higher temperatures.

When it's just cheese and herbs, I cook the lavash right on the oven rack. However, when topped with sausage or chicken or what have you, they can get pretty heavy and I find it's best to put them on a cookie sheet.