Yes, it’s not a BLT, but a BLK! It’s so crazy, it just might work. The good folks at Zespri Kiwifruit sent me an email of kiwi recipes and this was one of their ideas – at first it seemed a bit controversial, but kiwis have kiiiinda similar textures to tomatoes, plus that zingy bite. Not too sweet or mushy. And I do love incorporating as much tropical fruit as possible into my summertime meals… another bonus for easy summertime cooking, when you don’t want to spend hours slaving over the stove – this takes about five minutes to make. Two thumbs up, kiwi friends!
Bacon, Lettuce, & Kiwifruit Sandwich
I was going to a party the other weekend (okay, okay, it was a World Cup watching party, maybe the fact that I made an Indian-inspired recipe for a gathering themed around Argentina & Germany can tell you how much attention I paid to the World Cup. Sorry world!) and like any good guest at any sort of sports-watching thing, I brought food. Chips & dip! Obviously!
Anyway… Stonefire, who I’ve written about in the past, sent me some samples of their newest products, naan crisps. I almost didn’t get a chance to test them out and make a recipe, because my friends jumped on these like Liz Lemon on some night cheese! (I’ve been binge-rewatching 30 Rock on Netflix this summer.) Rob declared these “the best food blog sample [I've] ever received” so that’s really saying something. These naan crisps are super good – light, crispy, airy, and savory.
I wanted to do something that tied in with these chips before they all got devoured, so I threw together a protein-packed dip with an Indian twist – that, despite being neither Argentine or German themed, was a hit at the watch party. Added bonus: this recipe gets its creaminess from yogurt instead of mayo or sour cream, so it’s actually pretty good for you!
Curried Cashew Chicken Dip
While Marfa is a small town, its identity as an artists enclave and hip Southwest tourist destination cultivates a demand for finer dining. I’m not talking stuffy, classic dining (I don’t think anything close to that really exists in these small South Texas towns) but creative, modern, upscale restaurants? There’s a couple in the area but Cochineal is the one I’d heard the most buzz about. So I figured hey, when’s the next time we’ll be in Marfa, let’s splurge a little bit.
A thirty seat dining room, forty odd seat courtyard, open kitchen, and a vegetable garden supplying the freshest baby greens and vegetables – all came into being by 2008 and the restaurant opened on May 22.
The food served at Cochineal is much as Ruth Reichl wrote about Restaurant Etats-Unis for theNY Times in 1993. We are still home cooks, still cooking simple food, still changing the menu daily, still paying attention to the inherent qualities of the raw ingredients. We are still in love with the wines of the world and maintain a list of some 250 bottles in a wide range of prices.
We have also have the continuing joy of watching a wonderful staff of very young and very native Marfans grow into an appreciation of what food can become and into an awareness of how skilled and competent they can become.
Cochineal isn’t a big space, but it’s really stylish and sexy. They have a great, dusty little outdoor seating area in their front courtyard, or you can sit in the sleek yet rustic indoor space (where we enjoyed our meal). The menu at Cochineal is comprised of small plates, large plates, and a couple desserts. It changes daily, and once they run out of something, they are OUT. We got a 6:00pm reservation because, as Aerosmith would say, I don’t wanna miss a thing.
What does a multi-course dinner at one of the best restaurants in West Texas look like? Feast your eyes on this.
For course one, Rob and I split the peking style quail with a crispy and sticky skin stuffed with fermented carrots, pineapple, and fried rice. We also got the house-baked bread with Marfa yeasts to share between the table. Oh, and duh, I got a cocktail! A vodka gimlet which was ultra fresh and tasty.
One of the perks of being a craft beer fan is that breweries are always doing crazy, interesting things. For instance, Flying Dog introduced an old bay beer, Stone collaborates with everyone and their sister, and Telegraph Brewing Company is even helping a band release their album ON their label. That being said, it should be no surprise that Flying Dog collaborated with CAO Cigars to create a suggested Craft Beer and Cigars pairing. Together, the two determined which Flying Dog beers would pair the best with which CAO Cigars. Then, they packaged the cigars and published the pairings for all to try. Turns out they were pretty spot-on. Check out the pairings, the beers, and the cigars. If you can’t find either in your area, take the style of each and pair them together.
Here’s what you can expect from the Flying Dog/CAO pairing:
Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout and CAO Mx2
The oyster stout carries the typical malty sweetness, but finishes dry and includes earthy and bitter undertones throughout. It’s definitely an interesting stout worth trying. Be warned – this is not a breakfast stout style, so the sweetness is not as strong as it is in other stouts. The Mx2 cigar is paired well with this stout. The cigar complements the dry and bitter finish of the stout. The Mx2 is a darker cigar, but not as bold as you may think. Instead, it has a medium strength with a smooth smoke from beginning to end. The flavors of the cigar include some herbal spice characteristics as well as those of coffee and bitter chocolate.
Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA and CAO Sol
Hoppy meets Spicy. The snake dog delivers the promised citrus and hop flavors throughout the brew. Nice crisp mouthfeel makes it a refreshing brew with a bitter and sweet bite. Not sure what to expect, I lit the CAO Sol and was pleasantly surprised with the spicy taste that went with the IPA. The cigar had a peppery flavor throughout the smoke. Moving through the smoke, earthy notes and even some citrus were included. Another medium cigar, but it complemented the IPA well. Possibly a tie for first place in this pairing list…
I know grown men that will still order a chocolate milk out at a restaurant or diner. So why not? Unless you don’t like chocolate (and hate America), you should be thrilled to hear of adult chocolate milk. My sister’s boyfriend brought it to us as we celebrated the Fourth of July and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you what it’s made of…since the label doesn’t say much at all. The only thing I can tell you is that it was chocolatey with a slight hint of booze and it goes with many mixers and other alcohols. The overall consensus was that a shot of it tastes like an alcoholic Tootsie Roll. continue reading…
Marfa’s Hotel Paisano is a very special place. Not only is it a gorgeous historic building with an ultra-classy patio & bar, but it’s also the location/headquarters of the 1956 film Giant, starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Film, architecture, and a stiff drink? Count me IN!
As I mentioned, Paisano, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a beautiful building. After its silver screen heyday it sadly started to fall into disrepair, but luckily it was purchased by new owners and restored to its original splendor, plus renovated to include modernized rooms, shops, etc. Just look at it:
ATTENTION HOPHEADS: the most recent release of the Ruinten is out. If you like the aroma and flavor of a hop garden, this is your brew. Stone describes the craft beer as a dare to craft beer lovers, promising that drinkers ” brave enough to plunge headfirst into this glorious mosh pit will revel in a blend of abundant lemon, nectarine and pineapple notes found in the aroma.” The bomber-sized container of hop flavor carries a bitterness that will scare away the novice beer drinker. Hops take over throughout the entire drink, with subtleties of citrus and fruit lingering behind. Those of us who enjoy hop flavors, however, welcome the “dare to drink” attitude of the Ruinten IPA, the bold ABV, and the full flavor and feel of the brew.
I liken this beer to a Sylvester Stallone flick. If you go into the movies expecting an action-packed non-realistic film, you will be entertained. If you go in expecting a theatrical masterpiece full of drama, some comedy, and lot of words–you will be disappointed. The Ruinten IPA is not a balanced beer–it’s not supposed to be. Instead, it is in your face with hops in every way with a full feel and an ABV that will leave you quite relaxed out on the porch on a summer night. If you are expecting the “in your face” attitude from the brew, you won’t be disappointed. If you are expecting a light, balanced IPA with just as much malty sweetness as there is hop bitterness, you will be overwhelmed.