Thursday, October 26, 2006

Old Town Fiesta, Part III

High Noon Saloon
425 San Filipe NW

• House Margarita
• La Pinta Margarita
• Single Track Ale

Now I'm feeling kinda thirsty. I start getting my bearing, exploring the little alleyways of Old Town and taking keeping an eye on shops I want to return to later in the day. There's a Cat House right down from the creperie selling cat-related merchandise, many souvenir shops that I don't even poke my head into and lots of art shops. I noticed a shop named Hispania that displayed lots of Dia de los Muertos items that caught my eye, but I was getting more thirsty. I spied a shop keeper to ask for a recommendation. As I approached he threw towards me an arm load of beads and said, "Have some beads!" Obliging I asked him, "So who makes the best margarita in Old Town?" First he said, "Why, I do!" but before I could tell him to fire up the blender he directed me to the High Noon Saloon.

The High Noon Saloon is pretty non-descript from the outside, but inside what a treat. saloon really doesn't do it justice. The decor is adobe, but it has a very contemporary feel to it. It' s cozy, yet chic. And the margaritas...they pack a great punch.

First I tried their house 'rita which was plenty strong, then I spied a La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila. The bartender explained that it's not a very potent tequila so she typically will use it instead of Triple Sec in a 'rita. Yum. Still needing a little more moisture I opted for a Single Track Copper Ale, a Colorado brew with a refreshing taste.

Feeling pretty good and wobbly I'm off to do some shopping.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Old Town Fiesta, Part II

La Crêpe Michel
400 San Filipe NW (Patio San Filipe Del Norte)

• Crêpe Aux Fruits De Mer (Shrimp, bay and sea scallops in velouté with mushrooms)

A slight detour from southwestern fare, La Crêpe Michel is traditional country french bistro. The sample menu featured both sweet and savory crêpes though when I was brought the menu it only included savory (the dessert menu has the sweet.) I chose to go with seafood figuring that I probably would not be encountering much seafood this day. The crêpe was light and stuffed full of shrimp and scallops...maybe even too much. I was hoping to taste a little more of the crêpe. Just as a note, this crêpe was simply folded over once.

Crêpes are a little foreign to me even though I grew up eating palacinka, the eastern european version of a crêpe. Palacinka are rolled and crêpes are folded seems to be the broad distinction. My mother always filled them with cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

My favorite "crêpe" is one I made for folks at work...Strawberry Goat Cheese Mousse Palacinka.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Mousse Palacinka

4............eggs, large, beaten
.5 tsp....salt
2 cups..milk
2 tsps....sugar
2 cups...Flour, all purpose, sifted
clarified butter

1...........strawberry for garnish
3...........Strawberries for filling
8 oz.......Heavy Cream

1/2 qt....Strawberries
1/4 cup..sugar
1/4 cup..water

Mix flour, salt and sugar. Combine well-beaten eggs and milk. Add gradually to flour mixture beating to a thin smooth batter. Pour 1/8 cup of the batter on a hot buttered skillet. Batter must be very thinned and smooth.

Fry on both sides. (*Tip; Watch the edges and when they are lightly browned, then it's time to flip the cake.) Continue this until all batter is used. Stack on warm plate.

Filling: Dice strawberries and reserve. Blend heavy cream and chevre until smooth.

Coulis: Dice strawberries, add sugar and water and cook over medium heat until well blended.

Contruct: Lay crepe flat, spoon thick line of cheese mixture down center and sprinkle with diced berries. Roll crepe and cover with stream of coulis from squirt bottle. Top with sliced strawberry garnish.

Old Town Fiesta, Part I

During October 12-15 I had the chance to join my wife in Albuquerque, NM and then ramble across the high desert to the Grand Canyon and then the Chaco Canyon. The culinary high point was on Thursday when I got to spend a good portion of the day exploring the shops and eateries of Old Town. Old Town is where the first families settled in Albuquerque back in 1706, the architecture is Pueblo-Spanish (adobe) and many of the original homes still exist as shops, galleries and businesses.

The next few posts will feature each of the four eateries I had the time to visit along with recipes that I have made and perhaps pics of some of my purchases. We'll see.

For now, here's my first stop:

Alfredo's Coffee House
2104 Charlevoix St NW

• Cappuccino
• Huevos Rancheros with meat and green salsa, mexican rice and pintos on the side, lettuce and tomato garnish

This was a nice little place located in the Hacienda Place area of Old Town. though it was going on 11am I was still in need of a cup-o-joe and some breakfast. Heevos Rancheros was definitely on my mind, and I wasn't disappointed (well, except for the kitchen mix-up that put papas on my plate instead of arroz...which ended up being cold) in the eggs. I ordered them over easy and the yolk mixture with the salsa, meat and tortilla was great.

A favorite southwestern dish I like to whip up are my Breakfast Burritos.

Breakfast Burritos

7.5 oz...........Chorizo, carne de res
4...................Large eggs
1/2...............Medium Red Onion, diced
2...................Serrano Chilis, minced
1/4 cup........Crema or sour creme
1 cup............Enchilada Sauce
small bunch..Cilantro, chopped
5...................6" Flour tortillas

Remove chorizo from plastic casing and break up into chunks. Cook chorizo for 2 min. as it starts breaking up. Mash with spoon while cooking. add onions and chilis and cook until onions are translucent. Add eggs and continuously fold to mix evenly as eggs cook. Season with salt. Cooks eggs until just set, no further. Take off heat and divide onto warmed tortillas. Roll tortilla and with seam down, coat with enchilada sauce and zigzag with crema, each from a squirt bottle down length. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve. Makes 5 burritos.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lox of Love

I love tomatoes. I'm sure a lot of people do, but since I have an acute potato allergy I feel lucky that my allergy doesn't include all nightshade related plants.

This past weekend I stopped by the Clintonville Farm Market and bought a nice basket of homegrown tomatoes for $4. Wahoo!

I ended up spending 5 hrs of the day cleaning out my garage and was thoroughly famished when I was done. It was getting late and I wasn't about to fire up the stove so i rummaged through the fridge. I found half a log of Silver Goat Chevre, half a package of norwegian salmon, half a red onion. Add to that some capers and a few slices of organic roasted garlic bread and I have the making of some killer new york style lox.

I took a palm-sized tomato, cut in wedges abd liberally applied Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. I toasted the bread to just crisp and spread a nice disk of cheese on each piece. Top that with pieces of salmon, paper thin slices of onion and a sprinkle of capers.

Hungry yet? I wolfed that plate down like no tomorrow. Coming up soon I'll show you my version of Caprese Crustini. Enjoy those tomatoes, the season is nearly over.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Triple Salmon

A local store had salmon on sale and there was no way I could resist, especially since the fillets were rather thick. I was hoping to grill these guys but a torrential rainstorm dampened those thoughts. Instead I decioded to bak the fillets in butter and olive oil. Mmmm. Rather than doing all three pieces the same I decided to season each differently.

[Heat oven to 475°] First all three fillets are seasoned with kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. The first fillet adds on dried Thyme (from fresh) and minced lemon zest. The second fillet gets dried dill weed and a drizzle of dill/porcini oil. The third gets a full coat dusting of gaujillo pepper powder. Let these sit at room temperature for 10-15 min so the rub can settle in a bit.

I add a Tbsp of unsalted butter and Tbsp of EVOO to the preheated roasters. Each are placed skin-side up and roasted for 6 min. each side. To serve I added a final sauce lightly to each. The Thyme and Lemon got a red pepper remoulade, the Dill got a light drizzle of Dill/Porcini oil, and the Gaujillo Pepper received a splash of rich hot sauce.

I served three 1" cuts together on a plate utop a thick bed of wild mushroom polenta and a wreath of haricot vert which was steamed with garlic and oregano and seasoned. I also had a nice small bowl of mushy peas as well. Why? Because I realized I had more in the pantry than I thought.

On the design side: It was a very busy day, mostly because of my overthinking a project and taking way too long. I got everything accomplished, but not until 7pm.