About Me

My photo
Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spicy Pork and Mustard Green Soup

Two weeks ago, I made this soup from the January issue of Bon Appetit.

I used a HUGE bunch of mustard greens, which I tore up and threw into the broth to cook down. I used wide rice noodles (which I slightly overcooked) as my base, and I ladled the hot soup on top.
Next time, I'll try it with ground turkey and kale. I might kick the noodles out if I'm concerned about the calorie count, or I might use tofu shirataki noodles instead.

It was a good, simple soup which can be adapted infinitely. Ground beef? Use it. Chicken tenderloin? Sure. Hate kale? Use spinach, or whatever you like. Between two of us we had a small helping left over, but it should be placed on the record that the boyfriend and I could eat a 20-inch pizza and have room for dessert.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Food Reads

I love to write about food, so it stands to reason that I love to read about it. Some of my favorite food books are:

Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. Who would think that a chef could write like that.

My Life in France by Julia Child. "I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one had ever informed me of this fact. I loved the people, the food, the lay of the land, the civilized atmosphere, and the generous pace of life."

Born Round by Frank Bruni. Poor little fatso. Also, he spent some time in Detroit, which he writes about.

Life, On the Line by Grant Achatz. Achatz is the chef at Chicago's Alinea and Next, and is featured in this trailer for the new menu at Next. I die of the coolness.

What are your favorite food books?
Last weekend we ate dark chocolate birthday cake.
There is news of Detroit-area eating afoot this week.

There are new places to eat in Midtown.

GQ wants us to eat like chefs.

The Fenton Fire Hall is open, and remarkable (and yes, it's a little far from the D, but c'est la vie.)

Joe Biden went to the auto show, then had veal parmesan.

To counteract the cake, I ate a big salad.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wolfgang's, Grand Rapids

A few weeks ago I hit the road for a quick trip to Grand Rapids with a girlfriend. She and I have been know to start chattering so much, and so distractedly, that once while we attempted to drive to Kalamazoo for dinner we ended up in Indiana. Since this trip had the advantage of daylight and neither one of us had had quite enough coffee yet, we were confident that we would remain in the correct state for the duration.

While she did what she needed to do, I researched where we would eat breakfast. After this great series on MLive ran, I had jotted down two must-visits in GR: Anna's House and Wolfgang's (the link wasn't working, so check the Facebook page too.) A quick Twitter check with my most beautiful cousin confirmed that Wolfgang's is the spot to beat and we headed over for a late breakfast.

We waited for a table for about 20 minutes while we gazed lustily at the dishes being whisked past us. After we were seated we came up with a game plan quickly- we would each order our own savory dish and would get a sweet dish to share. I just love friends who are as out of control as I am.

Of late, I've been loving both biscuits and gravy and corned beef hash. The two struggle for the #1 spot in my brain every time I go out for breakfast. When I read the description for the Keane, I snapped the menu shut and checked my chin for drool. Keane- Two biscuits in a skillet topped with corned beef hash, sausage gravy and three eggs. In the immortal words of Uncle Jesse, have mercy.
I got those eggs poached, as I am wont to do. The moment the hot skillet was set on the table I punched into the middle of the eggs JUST TO SEE if I would have something to complain about (i.e. hard yolks.) The yolk glided out of the egg and ran into the corned beef hash, and I ate my words. And everything else in the skillet. I cleaned it out and washed it down with hazelnut coffee and tears, because Wolfgang's is an hour away from where I live.

You didn't forget that we had breakfast dessert, did you? I couldn't forget the massive plate of pancakes sitting between us, staring at us, whispering to us "you're going to spent the night in the gym for this one, girls." We knew before we sat down that we wanted the Victoria Upton- tiramisu pancakes layered with mascarpone filling, and coffee topped with whipped cream, dusted with cocoa powder.

The pancakes were so light, but the filling was so rich and coffee-y. That dollop of whipped cream? The size of my face. The dish was gorgeous, to boot, and could have been photographed for a magazine. Instead, it showed up on my Facebook and Instagram, which is almost as important. Judging by the feedback on Facebook, Wolfgang's brings Grand Rapidians running. "I would have met you there on my lunch break!" said one cousin, while a friend who spent formative years in GR professed her love for the restaurant. I understand why.

Keep this place bookmarked, and if you're ever in GR and hungry, get thee to Wolfgang's.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Huapei for City Pulse

Extra extra. Read it here.

Canal House Lentils

I told you that in 2014 I want to actually cook one recipe from each issue of Bon Appetit that comes to my door. Consider January a success.

Last week I made these Canal House lentils.

They were just fine. Nothing spectacular, but totally serviceable. The boyfriend and I both like lentils a lot. My favorite way to eat them is in the form of mujadara, but I'm too intimidated to make it (which is pretty stupid if you read Maureen Abood's beautiful recipe.)

Do you like lentils? Or, like my mother, do you force them down?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sretan Bozic* at Mediteran

Yesterday I met Dad for lunch at Mediteran, one of my favorite downtown restaurants and subject of this City Pulse review. I'd meant to go before Christmas so I could see the incredible decorations in the restaurant, but between the days-long power outage, polar vortex, and all of the holiday meals, it didn't happen. This week I confirmed that the decorations were still up, and Dad and I headed in.
I've told you before that the Christmas decorations at Mediteran are out of this world, and they didn't disappoint.
The cafe is positively stuffed with Christmas cheer. If you didn't feel merry walking in, you're going to have an attitude adjustment by the end of your meal, whether you like it or not. Even this dog statue was dressed for the holidays.
The food was hot, fresh, and delicious. I had the chicken with cranberry sauce special, which came atop spatzle and was beautifully garnished.
I had squash soup too.
Fresh herbs, everybody. Minimal cost, minimal effort, such a difference in presentation. I especially admired the display in the back of the restaurant.
The Christmas decorations will be up at least through this week, so hurry if you'd like to see them. Or plan a visit around Easter, because the restaurant is beautifully bedecked for that holiday too.

*Merry Christmas in Croatian

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Scenes from the Polar Vortex

My car was snowed in. Thankfully, soon after the world's sweetest boyfriend started to dig it out (which would have taken. . . I don't know. . . 59 hours), a man drove by with a snowplow. Two minutes later, the car was accessible. One minute after that, it became apparent that the battery was dead (no, I didn't think to start the car once or twice in the past 4 days.) One more minute, we learned that the car was a solid brick of ice and the hood was frozen shut. I went inside and actually started to cry. I then made myself a treat.

The most luxurious hot chocolate I could come up with. Yes, the base of it is skim milk. But I added a healthy shot of whipping cream, chunks of Cadbury's chocolate, and shakes of cinnamon, cayenne, and espresso powder. I felt a little bit better.

If you'd like to escape the snow as much as I would, here are some links to things I'm into lately:

10 things you don't know about Vernors. I've always been partial to actual ginger ale, but I've got a lot of love for this Michigan product and my mother is a fanatic.

A little background on The Pioneer Woman. Her website is a blockbuster, her new book is a bestseller (I got it for Christmas), and her Food Network show is hugely successful. 

A Velveeta shortage. Good. Ick.

I know I'm supposed to stop baking things and eat salad only for the month of January, but my new tart pan is burning a hole in my pocket and I'm dying to make this gorgeous cranberry tart (from a wonderful Lansing-local blog.) Want to come over for dinner?

Like everyone else in the world, I love Downton Abbey and feel very smart and cosmopolitan for watching it. I hunkered down last Sunday night for the season premiere with popcorn, La Croix, and 3 pairs of socks on my feet.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rock City Eatery

Yesterday a foot and a half of snow fell on Lansing, Michigan. After my morning exercises of both the spiritual and physical nature, I hunkered down and stayed inside. Much much later that evening I made brownies and popcorn and fed the friends who had gathered to watch the season premiere of Downton Abbey. Today I had a brownie for breakfast, but I better watch myself because the gym is closed today, on account of weather.

Since I can't go anywhere, I can't eat anything new. So I'd better tell you about my trip last week to Rock City Eatery, the first of my list of Young Guns restaurants to visit. The restaurant is in Hamtramck, which is a city that is completely separate from, and completely enclosed within, the city of Detroit. I don't get it either.

The place is decidedly hipster. I don't mean that as a slight, I just mean that, amongst the rock n' roll artwork, mismatched chairs, and patrons sporting thick beards, ironic tshirts and holiday sweaters, and mohawks (and I don't mean mohawks on the men), I was a bit of a sore thumb. But I guess I can eat just as well as they can, so I'll just put on my cardigan and close my yap.

I waited for my friend Andy and ordered the Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Thai basil/peanuts/scallions/smoked tomatoes/lime/chile. I eat a ton of Brussels sprouts, and the Thai-influenced preparation was something I'd not thought of before. I liked it, especially the basil.
We had both read about the Rock City Eatery macaroni and cheese, and that was next on our agenda. The menu offers little description but I'd heard rumors that the stuff is served in a bowl made of cheese.

Let me remind you, and myself, that cheese is not my bag. I don't eat pieces of cheese. I don't lose my mind over macaroni and cheese, and I would never order it if left to my own devices.

However, I am an idiot.
That corkscrew pasta sure enough is in a bowl of fried Parmesan. Suffice it to say that I ate the lion's share of this while contemplating how I can learn to make bowls of cheese and what I can put in them. (Popcorn in a cheese bowl. Can you even imagine?)

We were just getting warmed up, and I ordered the RCE cheeseburger, at this point having clearly forgotten my aversion to fromage. I added bacon and an egg. I wondered where my self-control had gone.
The fries, while acceptably crispy and salty, remained largely untouched on my plate. I focused my attention on the massive burger, the size of which forced me to delicately nibble around the edges when what I really wanted to do was unhinge my jaw and take the world's biggest bite. The container of thin napkins on the corner of the table stood no chance- what I really needed was a drop cloth.

The bun was a little flimsy, but maybe that's because I had all of the world's toppings on this burger. I eventually got rid of the bun and ate the burger and toppings with a fork. I'm an animal.

I can't tell you what Andy ate, because I had burger all over my face and wasn't thinking about anyone but myself. I was thinking about what kind of pie I was going to eat, just to make sure that I was fully stuffed to the gills for my drive home.

The owner of RCE is known for his pies, which he used to sell at a market in Ferndale. Obviously, we would be ordering pie, and when the waitress told me that they were offering three varieties that night I requested a slice of each of them.
The white trash pie. I was introduced to white trash candy this year, but I still don't know what it is. Some kind of candy, covered in white chocolate or powdered sugar or Karo syrup? I wasn't into this pie. The pretzels had become soggy and this was my least favorite of the three.
Sweet potato pie, which to me is reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie never hurt anybody, but it's not one of my favorite desserts. I liked the texture of this, it was very smooth and creamy. I won't lie to you and tell you that we didn't eat it, because we absolutely did.
Cherry whiskey pie. Now we're talking. I didn't even care that this was what it looked like when the waitress brought it to our table. It was delicious- the fruit was tart, the crust was sweet and tasted like a crumbly, slightly spicy cookie. I'm not saying that I would drive clear to Hamtramck just to buy one of these pies and then eat the entire thing, but yes that is exactly what I'm saying.

By the by, the prices at RCE are insanely reasonable. I could almost eat a meal there on what my dad used to give me for allowance every week. Put on your black tshirt, go heavy on the eyeliner, and get thee to Rock City Eatery.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Food Goals for 2014

1. Learn to make lasagna, per my brother's request. I think this might help. Does anyone have a great recipe or lasagna tips?
2. Eat at each of the restaurants involved in the Young Guns dinner.There are six of 'em- Rock City Eatery (done! recap coming), Imperial, Streetside Seafood, The Root (obviously done, but this will be an excuse to make a return trip), Selden Standard (not even open yet and I'm already sweating it), and Forest Grill. Here is a teaser from Rock City Eatery.
3. Take a class at Le Chat Gourmet. It's been too long.

4. Learn to make tiramisu, per sister-in-law's request. Her 30th birthday is this month, so time is of the essence.

5. Each month, actually make a recipe from Bon Appetit. Month after month my favorite magazine arrives at my door, I eagerly tear into it and dogear the pages of the best-looking recipes. Then I throw the magazine onto my desk and promptly ignore it until months later, when I recycle several at a time. This year I am going to be better, and first up is the Canal House Lentils (since I have all of the ingredients on hand.)

That's my plan, eaters, and here's hoping 2014 will be the most delicious year yet.