Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Eats

I walked up to Old Town on Friday afternoon. I love walking but I also thought it would be more fun - traffic has been a pain the last couple of days with all the streetlights out and trees down after the windstorm. I needed some lunch so I ducked in to Dog Haus Biergarten. I hadn't yet tried their sliders so I ordered two and some fries. The total was a quite reasonable $5.68.

I requested a side of curry ketchup for my fries, something I've always enjoyed at the Dog Haus on Hill.

The sliders were quite good. Not as good as the ones I made on Wednesday night, of course, but with grilled onions and white American cheese, the two of them were a great snack and a tasty complement to the delicious fries.

I went to 72 North to meet up with some friends and watch the inaugural PAC 12 Championship Game, which for some reason was a matchup of the second-best and sixth-best teams in the conference. (UCLA became the first team with six losses to ever play for its conference championship.)

Murph ordered a small pizza with broccoli and red onion (to go with his White Russian) and implored me to have a slice.

So I did. It was good. As I have written before, 72 North makes surprisingly good pizza for a bar.

Dave was asking Rob and me if we would help him snack on something if he ordered it. I said sure, and he ran down the list of fried items that make up the appetizer menu. I said "Why not just get a pizza?"

"With mushrooms," Rob added.

"Justin doesn't like mushrooms," Dave said.

"I will eat them on pizza," I replied. So he ordered a pizza with broccoli, red onion and mushrooms. Also good.

Rob decided he would take this tiny slice that was attached to the piece I took. Believe it or not, it took both of us at least a minute - working together - to separate the two pieces.

I had a second slice, and I doused it with Tabasco sauce. 

UCLA lost by 18 points but we were all just happy they didn't get shut out again. (UCLA fans have pretty low standards for the program these days.)

We decided to stay in on Saturday evening and have a relaxing evening. No making a big dinner, no boozing it up with the neighbors, just the two of us hanging out. We went by Whole Foods and got some lobster bisque for Elizabeth. And when we got home I told her it was okay if she watched her favorite Christmas movie:

Home Alone. I am not exaggerating when I say that she would watch it 100 times in the month of December if she could. I agree to watch it with her once every year. It's not a bad movie but watching it once per year is more than I need to. (Last year I bought her the "Family Fun Edition," although I have no idea why they call it that.)

I wasn't in the mood for bisque so I got myself a container of these "Nature's Rancher Chicken Breast Nuggets." I tried them for the first time a couple weeks ago and really liked them.

The chicken is breaded but uncooked, which makes it perfect for pan frying. 

About four minutes on each side and they come out of the oil a dark-golden brown. 

My four sauces on this evening? Glad you asked. Buffalo Wild Wings spicy garlic sauce and Asian Zing, Sir Kensington's Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, and remoulade. 

The chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and delicious. 

After Home Alone I watched the end of a football game and then random TV shows until I fell asleep.

Elizabeth asked me around 11 AM if I was getting hungry; the answer was yes. I'd only had those 8 little chicken pieces for dinner and she hadn't even finished her bowl of bisque. She asked what I felt like and I blurted out "Taco Bell." She started laughing - she knows I don't really like the place. But, for reasons I cannot describe, I was craving a greasy, spicy Volcano taco. So I went there and got two of them for myself and a Crunwrap Supreme for her.

It was exactly what I was expecting, but it turned out to not really be what I wanted. If that makes any sense. It did not satisfy me like I thought it would.

Sunday afternoon was quite pleasant. It was cool and sunny, with blue skies overhead. And thanks to the windstorm, I now have a remarkable view from my patio, overlooking much more of Pasadena than I ever did before. So we decided to have some wine and cheese on the patio. Tracie, Tim and Murph joined us.

The four cheeses I put out to nibble on.

Uniekaas Hollandse Chevre: a nutty, creamy goat milk cheese from the Netherlands.

Toscano with cracked black pepper: A crumbly, buttery sheep's milk cheese with plenty of pepper flavor.
Garrotxa: A goat's milk cheese from Catalonia, smooth and creamy and a wonderful counterpart to red wines like Malbec or Temperanillo.
Morbier: A French cow's milk cheese; traditionally the morning and evening milkings of the cow are separated by a layer of ash.

Wine: fermented grape juice.

On one of my favorite blogs the other day, Fritos & Foie Gras, I noticed a brisket sandwich on rye bread from a New York deli. But the brisket looked kind of pathetic (as indeed she claimed it was), a gray, flavorless-looking slab of beef. However it was served with Muenster cheese and sauerkraut and topped with horseradish sauce. That sounded delicious and I thought Well, hell, I can make something like that. I wanted to do it right, so in the morning I went to the market and got myself a two-pound cut of brisket, rubbed Sir Kensington's Gourmet Scooping Ketchup on top, and placed it on a bed of sliced Mayan sweet onions in the slow cooker.

Eight hours later the brisket was ready and my friends just happened to be over and hungry (except Tim, who had eaten a late lunch).  The brisket fell apart easily and smelled wonderful, perfuming the air and competing with the aroma of our Christmas tree.

I assembled four sandwiches on sourdough. Murph didn't want any sauerkraut or horseradish, as he hates condiments. Elizabeth only wanted a small amount of kraut. Tracie, on the other hand, never gives me special instructions when I am putting meat in her mouth, so her sandwich and mine both got scoops of kraut and slathers of horseradish sauce. 

I toasted the sandwiches in the oven for only five minutes or so, just enough to harden the bread and soften the cheese.

My God these were tasty sandwiches.

"This is the best brisket I have ever had in my life," Murph said.

"Please don't tell your mom that," I said. (Murph has a habit of telling his mom, who is a very nice lady, how much better I make some dishes than she does.)

I don't like how early it gets dark in December, but one nice thing about it is that when you're done eating and drinking for the night, it's never as late as you think it is. I made it inside in time to watch the end of the football game and all of The Simpsons.


Fritos and Foie Gras said...

And THAT is the way that brisket should have looked on my sandwich!

Michelle said...

That sandwich rocks.

ben wideman said...

I don't even want to hear you complaining about how dark it gets. We've been seeing the last glimpses of daylight at around 4:30 in the afternoon in Pennsylvania.

JustinM said...

Fritos: Yep, mine looks much better than Artie's if I do say so myself.

Michelle: It was really good. That'll teach Tim to eat late lunches before coming over to my place.

Ben: You're just in a bad mood because we unloaded Mathis on you guys. (Not that I blame you...)

Anonymous said...

It was nice to have the gang back together again although I ended up drinking way too much because of it. I think I owe all of you about a hundred beers. Big comeback for the Bruins next year! Rob.

Anonymous said...

will tracie marry me?

JustinM said...

Rob: I think it was only two beers, but you can repay me with 100 and I will not complain.

I would settle for a winning record. Or hell, even just a head coach.

Anon: Not without my approval.

mw said...

Tracie is such a dirty birdie. But I don't blame her cuz your meat does look pretty tasty.

aldo said...

"Slow cooker" = Crock Pot?

JustinM said...

Yep. Crock-Pot is a registered trademark for a brand of slow cookers. Like facial tissue and Kleenex.