Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lone Eagle Grille, Incline Village, NV

While on a ski trip in February, we ate at Lone Eagle Grille.  This was the best meal of the year so far.  Of course, with two small children, fine dining is not usually high on our list these days.  Pappadoo and Mooma kept Sam and Sarah while Scott and I ate there. 

The first thing that intrigued us was that the wine list was on an iPad.  I asked how many iPads that they had for this purpose, and I think they said a number between 5 and 10. 

This is one time that I only photographed what I ate and not what Scott ate.  Not because his was not presented well, but I think I was just so anxious to eat mine.  My choices were a bit unbalanced because they were both seafood.

For my appetizer, I ordered the "Smoked Hokkaido Scallops" with yuzu gastrique, vanilla parsnip puree, and uni butter.  After writing all of those ingredients, I feel like I have given a description.  These had to be some of the best scallops I have ever had--plump and juicy (well for scallops, anyway).  The scallops were clothed in just the right amount of tang and velvety texture.

For my entree, I ordered the so-called "Seared Barramundi Fillet" with pearl onion, baby fennel, roasted red bliss potatoes, and herb beurre blanc.  This is as good as it gets.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Urbana Washington, D.C.

I made a quick trip to D.C. last weekend for my friend's wedding.  My flight was delayed in Detroit so I missed a brunch reservation with another friend.  After dropping my bags at the Fairfax, I decided to find a lunch somewhere close.  The Fairfax dining rooms appeared to be closed.  Therefore, I started walking toward several restaurants near the Fairfax. 

The first one was Urbana and that was where I ate.  The restaurant appeared to be full but the bar was not.  I asked the hostess if I could sit in the restaurant's bar.  I often have sat at a bar especially a hotel bar when I have been eating alone. 

The defining feature of the dining room seemed to be the walls that were tiled in a dark green ceramic subway tile.  What struck me about the bar was the well-worn corners of the bar stools.  A vivid picture came to mind of a full bar with customers holding onto the corners while leaning over to give the bartender their order.  Or friends holding on and leaning down to speak to their friends on the stools.

The menu was full of standard lunch/brunch favorites of eggs, pancakes, and french toast.  I decided to get the shrimp.  The menu stated that it was "five fresh shrimp seared in a cast iron skillet with garlic olive oil and chiles, served with a salad of arugula, feta, and olives."  The arugula salad was great but it definitely got better as I ate my way to the warm wilty parts at the bottom of the skillet, where the greens and the other ingredients met in a heavenly combination.  Who knew arugula salad could be this good!

The bartender Eric was really nice, and he told me about their brunch special bottomless bellini.  Something I did not need right before a 3:30 p.m. wedding at the Cosmos Club.  The bride and groom were gorgeous and seemed very happy! 

Urbana on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baby Food Sweet Potatoes

I made this baby food about a month ago.  I really lost my passion for making baby food when I had difficulty getting Sarah to eat any food.  Fortunately for us, her teachers are very experienced with children who do not want to eat.  I thought if she would eat anything, she would eat commercially prepared baby food so I bought some Earth's Best and Gerber Organics to get her started. 
Today, I thought I would try her on what I made last month.  I took out a cube that I had frozen in my Beaba freezer tray.  Then, I put the cube in my small All-Clad skillet on low and heated it, while stirring, until it had all melted.  She ate it so I may go back to baby food making. 
To make baby food from sweet potatoes, Scott actually baked them.  He put them in the oven on 400 degrees for about 1 hour.  After they cooled, I scraped the flesh from the skins and put it in our Cuisinart.  I had to add a lot of water to get it thin enough for a first food and thin enough to be about the same consistency of commercially prepared baby food.
What I really like a bout sweet potatoes is that very soon I will feel comfortable giving them to her without processing them with anything but a fork.  No additives like water will be needed.  I used two types of sweet potatoes that we bought at the local farmer's market.  One is yellow and the other one is more orange.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sonobana Nashville, TN

This was the miso soup at Sonobana.  I like this style of miso soup. I think it is better when it does not have seaweed in it.  It was delicious.  Then we ordered a fairly standard sushi order except I created one of the rolls.  We ordered spicy tuna (asparagus and cucumber), bagel roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese), tuna roll, and the one I created--salmon and avocado. I took this picture while Sam was demanding I give my iPhone back to him. 
I think it may be a bit blurry.  Sam add plain rice and we ordered chicken yakitori for him but he wasn't really a fan.  The chicken was good even if Sam didn't think so.  Other than his protest about the iPhone, both of our children were very good for this lunch on Saturday.  
They play background music so that minimizes sound from any diners.  I hardly notice other diners when we are out because I am so focused on the food and our children if they are with us.  I did notice a couple of other diners this week.  Near us a woman seemed to be yelling what sounded like genealogical information to man who appeared to be over 80 years old.  Either that or she was talking about the cast of Romeo and Juliet because she was listing all of the Montagues.  I was heartened that our children could not possibly be the most disturbing element at this meal.
Thoughts on sushi at Sonobana: this is the best sushi I ever usually eat.  I regularly eat at sushi restaurants in Atlanta when I visit there a couple times a year.  I also eat at sushi restaurants in Lexington, KY although we recently had a bad experience that I will not share here.  I promised that I would only blog the positive.  The sushi is fresh and for some reason, better than what we usually have.  I question how there could be such a big difference in sushi quality so that this restaurant is much better than others.  But it is.
I have been eating here since around 2002-2003.  At that point, it was called Ben Kay.  Once in 2004, probably Veteran's Day, I went to Nashville to have my Volvo serviced at Volvo of Nashville.  I was alone so I ate at the sushi bar.  I sat next to a man who claimed to be Ronnie Milsaps's son and who told me that the man sitting with two women at the other end of the bar was Don Everly of the Everly Brothers.   I admit I was skeptical.  But I also have to admit that this would not happen anywhere else but Nashville.  You gotta love it!
As to why we were in Nashville this time. we came to Day Out with Thomas.  Sam was not as excited about Thomas the Train as he was when he went on the Durango, Colorado train.  We decided that maybe we should just go to Carbondale, IL one weekend morning and board Amtrak to Du Quoin or Centralia, IL because it would be cheaper and I think he would enjoy it as much.  We could then get back on the train around noon and come home.   Maybe we will take this trip this weekend.
We also went to the Nashville Zoo.  Sam seemed to like it and it was small enough that he could walk most of it.  I knew he was with one of his peers when he and another girl were looking at a lynx and both were repeating, "Big cat."  I was also encouraged but concerned that he is starting to understand spelling.  He pointed to the sign above the exit to the alligator viewing area and said, "Out O-U-T."  How much longer will we be able to spell words that he doesn't understand?
No trip to Nashville would be complete without a trip to Green Hills Mall.  It gets better everytime I go and gets progressively more high end like Lenox Square or Phipps Plaza in Atlanta.  Phipps is of course the most high end of malls in Atlanta but Lenox Square has a larger variety of stores.
We also ate at some wonderful chain restaurants that we don't have in our hometown:  Moe's (West End), Five Guys (Brentwood), and J. Christopher (Brentwood).  All were a good, consistent meal.  Most of the time we eat at these restaurants while in Atlanta or traveling to Atlanta.  Dalton, Georgia has a Five Guys!
 Sonobana Japanese on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

El Valle Verde Restaurant, Cincinnati, OH

Doesn't a meal at Mexican restaurant always start with chips and salsa?  This week we were visiting Cincinnati and I decided to try El Valle Verde on Urbanspoon for a recommendation.  It came with a 92% like rating.  You can't please everyone, right?  Only a few other Mexican restaurants had an over 90% like rating.  Most of them were further outside the city than we wanted to venture. 
For some reason, Scott was craving Mexican.  Additionally with our young children in tow, a family friendly Mexican restaurant seemed like just the ticket.  We seemed to be surrounded by other families with children, which made us fit right in. 
But on the other hand, we were the only folks there who were not Latino.  That is a sign that you have hit on a good, authentic restaurant when the type of food and the ethnicity of the diners could be the same.  I do not know what actual Mexican food is because I have never been Mexico.  I have been to New Mexico and the flavors of this restaurant reminded me more of New Mexico than some chain Mexican restaurants do.  They also had the interesting drinks that I saw in New Mexican restaurants like horchata (rice water).
I had my pretty boring usual Mexican selection two tacos a la carte.
I was sure to select the steak option as merely selecting beef might have caused me to get tripe or head meat.  See menu below.

For some reason, I can't get this photo to rotate.  How annoying.  Maybe someday I will figure it out.  Scott had mixed fajitas (chicken, steak, and shrimp) and Sam had the kid's meal taco and enchilada.  The refried beans on Sam's plate were really good.  Often, not much effort goes into the sides at Mexican restaurants but not at this place.
After our fine Mexican meal, we went back to Kentucky to go to the Newport Aquarium.  Suprisingly, Sarah enjoyed the fish more than I thought a six month old could.  Sam seems to be into sharks these days.  He really enjoyed seeing them.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Peach baby food

"Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot peaches."  We ate a lot of peaches this summer.  At the beginning of the summer, we bought a huge basket of peaches and shared it with some of our friends.  They then sang this line of the song, "Millions of peaches, peaches for free."  Thank you, The Presidents of the United States of America. 

I decided Sarah needed to have some of our peaches so I froze some peach baby food for her.

To make the peaches easy to peel, I dropped them in boiling water for 30 seconds- 1 minute.  Then I transferred them to an ice bath.  The skin pulls right off leaving all of the peach flesh.  I put the peaches in the blender and pureed them.  You can add water to thin them if you need.  But I don't think I needed to thin them.  We are still giving Sarah vegetables first according to our pediatrician's instructions but soon we will try our millions of peaches.  Until then, here is how they remain:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making Baby Food from Organic LMU Community Garden Squash

Nana came to visit us last weekend for Sarah's baptism.  She brought us some yellow summer squash that she grew at Lincoln Memorial University's Organic Community Garden (here is the link to the press release for the start of it:  For more information about Lincoln Memorial University's community garden, see this website:

I thought beautiful organic squash should be the start of Sarah's baby food.  With Sam, I made most of his baby food from produce from the farmer's market.  To make the baby food, I put about 1 in. of water in the bottom of our pot with the steamer basket (shown below). 

I brought the water in the bottom pot to a boil.  Then put 2 or 3 squash cut in 1 in. rounds in the steamer basket and covered the basket.  I steamed the squash for about 9 minutes until they were tender.  Then I used my immersion blender to puree the squash.  All of the water used for steaming was put back in the squash to get it thin enough for baby food.  

After pureeing, I put it in my Beaba multi-portion baby food freezer tray and an ice cube tray.  Ice cube trays work just as well as the fancy Beaba freezer tray.  After freezing, I transfer it to plastic freezer bags.  When it is time for her to eat it, I will drop a few cubes in a small skillet and heat it on low until it melts. 

Baby food can be made several other ways.  I also have a Beaba cooker but it is better used for individual meals.  A food processor or a blender could be used.  Generally, blenders aren't as consistent as a food processor or an immersion blender.