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How Hodor from Game of Thrones sees the world!



Hopslam.  The name is gold for many a beer snob.  I’ve seen people on facebook and talked to people who look forward to the day it’s released.  Actually, it’s a mad rush to the store to purchase it.  Well, I had never had one before the Wifey and I had our annual tax day date.  We ventured to the Fenton Hotel and had a very nice meal.  During that wonderful evening, I tried a Bell’s Hopslam.  Wow, was it good.  I’ve had some pretty exclusive Michigan beers before.  In my opinion, Hopslam bests them all.

It has a very hoppy taste (duh, the name tells you that), but it’s not overly bitter like other pale ales (it’s a double India pale ale, for you beer snobs out there).  It has a strong hop taste at the start.  The middle has a slight tart, citrus taste while the finish has nice, mild hoppy bitterness to it.  Now, I am a fan of the Two Hearted Ale by Bell’s as well, but this is much smoother.  If drank from a glass (like all quality beers should be), the aroma has a strong but pleasant bouquet of hops, citrus, and even a slight floral tone.  One note: this is a very strong beer.  It contains 10.0% alcohol, so you have to be very careful as it doesn’t taste like it’s that strong.

This beer is not cheap.  I found it at my local market for $17.99 a six pack.   I bought one and it was well worth it.  If your local purveyor of quality malted beverages has any left, buy a six pack and enjoy.  I did.

Pad Thai to the Rescue!

There’s one in every family.  There’s one kid that just won’t eat anything.  You could put a five star kid meal in front of that kid and they’ll turn their nose up at it.  We’ve seen them at restaurants.   You know, the kid who wants pasta, butter, and maybe some parmesan cheese.  Well, we have one in our household.  Our middle child just doesn’t like most foods.  He won’t eat anything with tomatoes (except ketchup or pizza) onions, potatoes (except fries), garlic, cucumbers, salad dressing (he likes his salad with just lettuce), peppers, or sauce.  Any sauce.  No really, any semi liquid flavor enhancer.  Well, any sauce except for ketchup or mayo.  So finding new things he will eat is a challenge.  Well, we found one.  I was very surprised to find he likes Pad Thai.  At least the way we cook it at home.  So, here goes.

3 Chicken Breasts, diced

2 tbsp of Crushed red pepper or more to taste

1 onion, cut

4 garlic cloves, chopped

7 tbsp fish sauce

7 tbsp table sugar

2 tbsp honey

6 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar

4 Green Onion, chopped

3 Limes, wedged

3 eggs, beaten

3 tbsp limes juice

1 package Rice Noodles

3 tbsp canola oil

2 cups peanuts, chopped

Soak rice noodles in cool water for 30 minutes or until soft.  Wisk together the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar.  Cook the crushed red pepper, onion and garlic 3 minutes in the canola oil over medium to med-high heat.  You can use a wok or a skillet if you don’t have one.  Add Chicken Breasts, cook until browned.  Add egg and cook until solidified.  After the egg is cooked, add the 3 tbs of lime juice.  Add rice noodles, sauce and honey.  Cook until noodles are soft.  Place in bowl, garnish with peanuts and green onion.  I like to squeeze three lime wedges over mine.

I love the sweetness with the sour in this meal.  The tastes cover the entire palate, but the sweet/sour of the honey and fresh lime make this such a treat.  I would add more (much more) red pepper flakes, but my family can’t handle the heat like I can.  Enjoy with a good quality beer.  I would suggest a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale or Founder’s Dirty Bastard.  If you like a little more affordable brew (those can be pretty expensive), Bass Ale, Sam Adams, or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would fit the bill very well.

Tax Day Fun

Ahhhhh . . . Tax Day in our household.  No, no, not April 15th, but the day we go to the tax accountant.  It’s not a bad day here in Food Good Land.  The best part is we get a night out.  When I say we, I mean just wifey and myself.  No kids.  Let me say that again, no kids.  The words just roll off the tongue.  So, against all fiscal responsibility, we went out to eat.  We chose a place we have heard very good things about: The Brick Street Grill in Grand Blanc, Michigan.  It was a pretty good choice.

We arrived about 7:00 on a Saturday evening and had a 45 minute wait.  We thought about leaving, but saw an opening in the bar and sat down.  I had a Bells Beer while wifey had a chocolate martini and an amaretto stone sour.  About right on the dot (45 minutes) we were seated in the pub area.  Yes, there were sports on TV’s and it was a little loud, but the atmosphere was very pleasant for an evening out.  Our meal started out with a nice selection of breads and a delicious honey walnut butter.  We ordered their Brick Street Lettuce Wraps and were pleasantly surprised.  The spicy sesame ginger sauce was very good.  Spicy, but not burning hot.  The salad was ok, nothing to write home about.  Nothing really different with it.

Now the meal was very good.  I ordered the Tender Bricks: saffron lobster ravioli in a red cream vodka sauce served with beef tenderloin medallions covered in a demi glaze (sic) topped with onion hay (fried onion strings).  Very good.  None of the flavors were over powering and the meal just covered the pallet.  I love the initial taste of the saffron ravioli, followed by the fresh tomato mixed with the red vodka cream sauce and finishing with the mild sweetness of the lobster.  Now throw in the beef tenderloin and you’ve got a winner.  I ordered a Shoofly shiraz to go with the meal.  Actually, the wine was the worst part of the meal.  Not very full.  The middle and the end of the drink were pretty mild and fruity.  Not a good combo for me.

In all, the experience of taking my wife out to a nice restaurant was great.  The music was great and the service pretty good.  I would (and have) recommend this place to others.


Here’s the menu.  Look and see what interesting types of things they have there.

A “Cobb” Omelet?

Wow!  It’s been forever since I have posted.  Sorry about taking so long to put one up. I know you all hang on my every word (for those that might not know me, I can be just a wee bit sarcastic, it comes in my job description).  This is a post I have been meaning to make, but just haven’t had the energy to do so.  Since my wife is kicking my rear end in the blogging department, I figure I need to step it up.  So  here goes.

I was making breakfast on Saturday morning: eggs and bacon for the kids, omelets for the adults.  I finished making a three cheese omelet for the wife.  After serving it, I decided I wanted something a little different myself.  Inspired by Bob Cobb, who invented the Cobb salad from stuff he had in his restaurant, I went rummaging through my refrigerator and came out with some very different omelet ingredients.

3 eggs

1 tbsp of cold water

2 tbsp stick butter (you can use a cooking spray, but eggs and butter are meant for each other)

1/4 cup feta cheese

4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, split into half

1 slice of Provolone cheese cut into half (can use mozzarella cheese)

2 strips bacon, crumbled (you can substitute turkey bacon)

1 green onion

Pinch of salt

4 turns fresh cracked black pepper (1/4 tsp)

1 handful baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

8″ – 10″ saute pan, non stock preferred

Start by cooking your bacon like you normally would and crumble.  Julienne cut the green portion of your green onion. Crack the eggs in a large glass or bowl, add water, salt, black pepper and scramble thoroughly with a fork.  Don’t use a whisk.  The whisk will add air to the eggs and, for an omlette, you don’t want that.  Heat your pan on medium – medium low (4 on my stove top) and add the butter.  When the butter is melted, add the egg.  Let the egg start to cook on the bottom, about a minute to a minute and half.  Turn the heat down one notch and start to tilt and slowly swirl the egg around the pan.  Allow the egg to start to cook about three quarters on an inch up the side of the pan.  Keep swirling until the egg is mostly cooked on top.  You may have to set the pan on the heat for a minute to heat the sides.  Turn the heat down another notch until the egg is thoroughly cooked.  Keep in mind that I can’t stand over cooked eggs.  I have a hard time with crunchy, over cooked eggs.  If you like that, keep the heat up to three.  (A traditional French omelet will leave the top a little underdone, but with salmonella, so you may want to stay away from that.)  The rolling will pull the egg away from the bottom and the sides of the pan.

When the egg is done to your liking, lay your provolone cheese inside on one half of the omelet.  Spread your feta and bacon over top of the provolone.  Place your spinach over top and sprinkle with half of the Parmesan cheese.  Now most people will have you flip the omelet in the air.  Not I.  Just take your spatula (a nice wide one, if you have one) and fold almost in half.  I like to have the spinach peeking out (maybe I have OCD tendencies after all). Slide the omelet onto a plate, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and green onion and, serve.

The great thing about this omelet is the freshness of the spinach.  To be frank, I really am not a big fan of cooked spinach.  It’s good in small doses, like in a lasagna, but it tends to be too bitter when eaten as a side.  I can’t say the same about fresh spinach.  This dish has all the freshness and crunch of the raw spinach with the delicious blend of the three distinct cheese.  It has become a hit with the wife and even some of the kids!

Once you learn how to make an omelet, the world, or at least the world of flavors, is at your finger tips.  The great thing about them is that the egg is pretty neutral.  You can go with many themes of flavors.  You can do a basic, traditional cheese omelet.  You can add fresh spices to egg right before it’s finished cooking.  I’ve made what I call my BCT omelet (provolone, Parmesan and, bacon topped with two or three slices of fresh tomato).  Experiment with your omelet and it’s flavors.  Find what you like and share it with those around you!

Quinoa – Making the “nasty” taste good

If you have read my blog, you might notice that I like to eat, and eat meat.  I’m not a vegetarian and really don’t want to be. I also like to have a three piece meal.  I like a meat, vegetable and, a starch, pasta or, grain.  We’re trying to watch our carb intake and grains and potatoes can be a little “carby.”  So we were looking for a grain or pasta that has a good amount of fiber and protein to counter act those carbs.  Sometimes those grains can be hard to find.  My wife had read an article on quinoa somewhere and did a little research.  It sounded good so when we found that Costco was selling, we bought.  So shortly there after, I was in class (I’m a teacher, if you haven’t figured that out yet) and was talking to my students.  I had mentioned that we were trying this new grain, quinoa.   One of my students made a twisted up look on her face and said “My mom is making me eat that stuff!  Nasty.”  Well, that got me thinking a bit, how do I make it taste good?  Balance.  Balance those flavors.  Take what the quinoa is and counter it.  This is what I did, and it’s far from “nasty.”

1 cup quinoa (try to find pre-washed, it makes things much easier)

1 3/4 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup dried sweetened cherries

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried parsely

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a medium sauce pan, add the water, lemon juice, quinoa, cherries and, spices.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  After the 25 minutes, fluff with a fork and mix in the cheeses, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve.

What is nice about this is that the balance of the sweet of the cherries, the tartness of the lemon juice, and the saltiness of the cheeses makes a great combination of flavors.  They mix so well.  You can taste them, yet  none overpower the other.  It goes so well with most chicken dishes, like my wife’s Parmesan chicken (shown above).  It’s a healthy dish that still tastes good.  Quinoa is very different.  It has a very unique texture.  I have a relative that has lost his taste.  He goes by the texture of the food and he loved it!  Give it a try instead of rice, cous cous, or any other pasta type side dish.  You will be converted just like we were.

Gooooooooouda – A Lesson In Making the Traditional Not So

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone and it’s time for one of the recipes that I used over the holiday: smoked gouda mashed potatoes.  The idea isn’t mine, at least not all mine.  Over the summer, we went on a family vacation to my beloved Lake Michigan.  We stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge with the kids in Traverse City and was really trying to keep a small budget.  We made sandwiches for lunch and bought pizza for dinner (made a nice lunch the next day as well).  We did a great job so the last night we splurged and went out to eat at a local restaurant.  We didn’t want a chain so we choose The North Peak Brewery to eat.  Nice choice on our part.  Wifey got pan fried walleye, the oldest got a burger and I got a nice steak and porter brew.  With the steak came . . . gouda mashed potatoes.  Very good.  So when I got home, I did a search and found a recipe from Emeril.  It used smoked gouda, but I tried them anyway.  My extended family loved them (they ate ’em all up).  Hopefully yours will too.

5 lbs red skin potatoes

1 1/2 cup cream

1 stick butter cut into 2 tbs pats

1 lbs smoked gouda shredded or cut into small cubes.

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Peel the potatoes so there is about 1/4 of the skins left and boil until the potatoes can be fork split.  Drain the potatoes and return to the pan.  Add butter and the cheeses and mash with a masher.  The heat of the potatoes will melt the cheeses and butter.  When they are melted, add 1 cup of cream and mash until everything is mixed.  I like my mashed potatoes thick so you may want to add more cream.  Serve hot.  I’ve added garlic to the recipe as well.  Just boil the garlic cloves right along with the potatoes and mash.

These are great to have with any meal: steak, turkey, chicken etc.  The smoked gouda meshes nicely with the traditional mashed potatoes, but isn’t overpowering.  They are also good to freeze and reheat.  Just leave in the refrigerator to thaw overnight and heat.  You may have to add more milk or cream when reheating, if you like.