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Cooking with Fel – Basil and Arugula Pesto

September 12, 2010

Some recipes are impossible to screw up. Even if you get the ratios slightly off, and you add a tad too much of one thing and not enough of the other, some recipes still end up tasting exactly as they should. And seriously speaking here – if I can’t screw it up, then it’s basically unscrewupable.

Pesto is unscrewupable.

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Pesto is just as easy to make as it sounds: You throw some basil and herbs into a food processor, add pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil, salt and pepper it to taste and voila! You’re done.

Even though it’s the easiest thing ever, I somehow have never made pesto prior to this recipe. (I think it’s because I never had pine nuts lying around the house.) However, thanks to the fine people at Oh! Nuts who recently shipped me a couple free samples of their product, I currently have pine nuts in my pantry.

So what is the first thing I did with their pine nuts? I made pesto.

I purposely made this basil and arugula pesto a little thicker than normal because I’ve primarily been using it as a spread. It’s especially good on sandwiches, as the peppery arugula helps brighten up normally boring turkey or ham. (Plus, I just love smearing the vibrant green paste over toast – it’s just so pretty!)

Basil and Arugula Pesto
Modified From: Basil-Arugula Pesto from Bon Appétit, June 2001

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
* 3 cup (loosely packed) fresh arugula
* 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
* 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
* 2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

Place 6 ingredients (excluding olive oil) in processor. Process to thick paste. With motor running, add 1/2 cup oil to processor. Blend until smooth. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Taste of Beverly Hills – A Taste of the Good Life

September 12, 2010

New York City has one.
South Beach has one.
Aspen, of course, has one.
And now…Beverly Hills has one too.

What do all the above have? Well, sometime during the year, all of them have one of Food & Wine magazine’s numerous food festivals hosted in their city.

The first ever Taste of Beverly Hills was held this past Labor Day weekend – a four day/six session event touting unlimited food and wine tastings from Los Angeles’ top restaurants and vendors, demos from well-known chefs from across the country and live musical performances.

Thanks to a *special someone*, I found myself in possession of a pair of weekend passes to the Taste of Beverly Hills. My schedule only permitted me to attend Friday night’s “The Art of Mixing” and Saturday night’s “Date Night” sessions, but I made the most of both nights and ate and drank to my heart’s content.

Now I’ve never been to a tasting event of this magnitude or caliber so I wanted to really take the time and enjoy the Taste of Beverly Hills. Thus, I decided early on that I wouldn’t take any pictures at either session and would completely suppress my (now normal) food blogging habits. Therefore, if you’re scanning this post and wondering where the pictures are – Sorry! You’re out of luck. (Honestly, part of me does wish I had taken pictures…but it was so much more fun eating knowing I didn’t have to shoot every bite!)

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The Art of Mixing

I was so excited going into Friday night’s session; upon walking into the venue, I began prancing around like a kid in a candy store, giddy with anticipation. Luckily, I had two of my favorite dining companions to share the excitement with – thanks to a ticket giveaway from YelpLA, I was able to invite Libby the Lusty Glutton and Linden the Gastronomnom to join in on the Taste of Beverly Hills fun.

In 45 minutes, the three of us ate at every food exhibitors in both tents. As expected, some samples were better than others. The following were my favorites of the night (listed alphabetically):
– Angeli Cafe – beet and ricotta gnocchi
– Church and State – pigs feet croquettes
– Cut – kobe sliders
– Il Cielo – white truffle pappardelle
– Osteria Mozza – burrata with olive oil and tomatoes
– Restaurant at Sunset Marquis – duck and foie gras
– Walter Manzke – potato taquito

Date Night

Friday was fun but Saturday was better, solely because my “date” happened to be the little brother, who I wish I could hang out with more often. The little brother is a bit of a closet foodie (he finds food bloggers pretentious, but he likes to eat and can be just as critical as food as the rest of us), so I knew he’d appreciate the event.

I was a little disappointed with Saturday’s night session as I felt the food was slightly stronger the day before. However, Saturday’s session was also noticeably more crowded, so I think that may have been the cause for the decline in overall food quality. No matter the night, the following exhibitors would have still been my favorites though (listed alphabetically):
– District on Sunset – venison relleno, zucchini terrine
– Ford’s Filling Station – ham hock risotto
– Petrossian – caviar tasting
– Water Grill – freshly shucked oysters

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In the end, my feelings about the Taste of Beverly Hills can best be summed up by a conversation I overheard during Friday’s session between a little boy and his father:

“…And that was delicious! And the burger was amazing! And this dessert is fantastic! And….”

Well done, Taste of Beverly Hills, well done.

Good 2 Go Taco (Dallas, TX) – I Love Breakfast Tacos!

August 24, 2010

I feel like this blog is just an accumulation of things I love:
“I love my burgers medium rare.”
“I love runny eggs.”
“I love Mexican grilled corn.”
“I love sweetbreads.”
“I love Anthony Bourdain.”

(…You get the point.)

Today, it’s time to add something new to that list:

“I love breakfast tacos.”

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I never even heard of breakfast tacos prior to this trip to Dallas. Breakfast burritos, yes, but not breakfast tacos. And I’ve definitely never heard of a breakfast anything like the breakfast tacos Good 2 Go Tacos have.

I hesitate to describe Good 2 Go Taco as “gourmet” because everything about it screams anything but. Location-wise, it’s currently just a couple of burners located in the back corner of the Green Spot gas station convenience store. (Note: This was their last week at the Green Spot; they’re opening a larger, dedicated location scheduled to open in October 2010.) Price-wise, it’s hole in the wall cheap at $3.50 a taco. Portion-wise, it serves pretty hearty portions; they use fajita sized flour tortillas and each one is stuffed to the brim. However, flavor-wise…it tastes like a gourmet taco.

I didn’t know this until now,but Good 2 Go Taco’s Paris, TX breakfast taco was on The Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. I can see why: juicy, tender hanger steak is piled into each taco, along with fluffy eggs, fresh spinach, cheese and potatoes. It’s a monster of a breakfast taco – it’s equivalent to at least half of a breakfast burrito.

(Of course, even though one taco is probably enough to fill me up, I ordered two.)

Although I liked the Paris, TX taco, I would argue that the Honey Bear is even better. Filled with chile-honey bacon, egg, spinach, and goat cheese, it’s a fantastic combination of sweet and salty. My favorite component is the the goat cheese; it melts into the warm eggs, creating this creamy, savory concoction.

Considering I originally knew nothing about breakfast tacos, Good 2 Go Taco was definitely a memorable introduction for me. Los Angeles has GOT to get in on this breakfast taco thing!

Good 2 Go Taco – MOVED
(new location information)
1146 Peavy Rd
Dallas, TX 75218
(214) 668-0831
Website: http://good2gotaco.com

Good 2 Go Taco on Urbanspoon

Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer (Dallas, TX) – These Be BURGERS

August 23, 2010

When I landed in Dallas earlier today for my 36 hour business trip (only in Corporate America can you rationalize flight, hotel and car rental costs for a 36 hour trip!), I was STARVING. I left for LAX at 7AM PST and didn’t get checked into my hotel until 4PM CST (i.e. 2PM PST). That’s SEVEN HOURS of no food. STARVING.

Problem is, 4PM is a crappy time to be hungry. 4PM is that ridiculously inconvenient time between lunch and dinner. All the nicer places are either: 1) already closed for lunch or 2) aren’t open yet for dinner. Plus, I’m wearing shorts, a tank top and rainbows – If I go to a nicer restaurant, I have to take a shower, get changed, look nice…Screw that, I’m just going to get a burger.

I think it’s pretty easy to figure out what Maples & Motors Burgers & Beer serves; I mean, the words “burger” and “beer” are included in the name. However, I didn’t realize the legitimacy of the name until I walked in:

Me: So what’s your most popular burger here?
Guy behind counter: Well, most people get it with mustard, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and onions…
Me: *thinking to herself* ….Wait, what is he talking about?? *looks at menu* Holy crap.

I didn’t realize it until then but when the sign says burgers, it means BURGERS. None of that frou-frou, fancy stuff, we’re talking classic burgers with the normal fixings. I ordered a burger with cheese and a fried egg (not realizing that they also had grilled jalepenos, grilled onions, bacon and chili as topping options – if only I had known!), a side of tater tots, and a fountain soda. (Btw, they have IBC root beer from the fountain – IBC ROOTBEER. None of that inferior Barq’s stuff. Is this what it’s like to live in Texas? I sort of like it.)

(This is what a classic burger should taste like.)

My burger gets to the table. I cut it in half and…the patty’s still pink in the middle. (Glorious! I LOVE my burgers medium rare!) Not only was the beef slightly pink, but the egg was runny too. Now, I realize we’re in the middle of a gigantic egg recall/salmonella scare right now but I love runny eggs. They’re one of my favorite things in life. (Yes, in ALL OF LIFE.) So when I saw that yolk, I was very very happy. (If I get sick, whatever – it was totally worth it.)

And I didn’t forget the the tater tots! They were awesome too! Crispy on the outside, steaming hot on the inside…I couldn’t eat them all but I couldn’t bear throwing them away so I wrapped them up and am now eating them cold in my hotel room.

So end of story: Maple & Motors is GOOD. I think I may have ruined my appetite for dinner but I don’t really care anymore – this is solid food, right here.

Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer
4810 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 522-4400
Website: http://www.mapleandmotor.com/

Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer on Urbanspoon

Flip Burger (Atlanta, GA) – A Burger Built on Expectations

August 18, 2010

TV celebrity chefs: You watch them week after week on TV. Based on 30-60 minutes of edited video, you come to conclusions about their food. You build expectations. Then when you finally get the opportunity to try their food, they either meet or don’t meet those expectations.

For those that meet them, everything’s fine and dandy.
However, for the ones that don’t, you leave more disappointed than you normally would because of those stupid expectations.

Flip Burger, started by Top Chef’s Richard Blais, is one of those restaurants that falters because of preconceived expectations. It was one of two restaurants I absolutely HAD to go to while in Atlanta (the other one, Woodfire Grill, was also chosen due to its link to TV stardom) so yes, I had expectations for Flip Burger. I don’t think they were unreasonably high – I wanted a good burger and, as with any restaurant, I wanted exactly what I ordered.

(And I got the good burger…it just wasn’t what I was expecting.)

Honestly, the downfall in this entire burger was the inclusion of the word “Korean” in its description. If it hadn’t claimed to be a “Korean BBQ burger”, I may have considered the burger a success. However, as a girl who has been to her share of AYCE KBBQ, I expected to taste (what I consider) distinct Korean flavors, ones reminiscent of gochujang (i.e. Korean red pepper paste), sesame oil and salt or that tangy Korean salad dressing. (I realize now that I basically expected Kogi in burger form. Is that unreasonable for Atlanta? I don’t know.)

However, topped with pickled carrots and radishes (like those found in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches) and sesame krispies (similar to Japanese sesame/rice crackers), the burger I received seemed to be influenced by all of Asia, rather than just Korea. It was supposed to include a kimchi ketchup – I didn’t get any hint of kimchi anywhere in the burger. And although its American wagyu patty was moist and juicy, I couldn’t judge the burger for the beef alone.

While the burger didn’t quite live up to its description, the nutella and burnt marshmallow milkshake was exactly that. This milkshake is not for the faint of heart (or, more accurately, for the lack of sweet tooth). I could detect the the scent of toasted sugar as it was being brought out and I could taste the heavy nutella flavor in every spoonful. Delicious as it was, it was overwhelming halfway through the glass – I just can’t consume that much sugar. Plus, I didn’t see a drop of liquid nitrogen during my meal! (I thought all the milkshakes at Flip Burger were supposed to be made with liquid nitrogen – you know, as an homage to Blais’ molecular gastronomy background – but maybe I was mistaken.)

You know, I really feel bad (almost guilty) that the above review is all based on expectations – I understand that some experiences are best when taken at face value, without all this background hype floating around. But at the end of the day…Flip Burger just didn’t meet my expectations. There’s nothing more I can say but that.

FLIP Burger Boutique
1587 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 352-3547
Website: http://www.flipburgerboutique.com
Twitter: @flipburger

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon