Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kalamata's-Greek Done Right

Tonight before heading out to see Wicked at TPAC, we stopped at Kalamata's in Brentwood, TN. I decided to try something new so I opted for the Baba Ghanoush. Knowing it was similar to hummus in texture and seasonings made this an interesting choice since I have not found any hummus that I particularly care for. This eggplant dip was delicious with an exotic smokey and slightly nutty flavor. The olive oil drizzled over it was defininitely of good quality and added a nice richness that cut the almost overpowering eggplant taste a bit. The wheat pita provided for dipping was not too dry and had a pleasant yet not overpowering wheat flavor of its own that perfectly complemented the dip. All the ingredients were perfectly orchestrated and played a nice melody that left a nice aftertaste not always present with vegetable flavored dips.

I also ordered a lamb gyro, opting out of the tomatoes and cucumbers they add. The Tzatziki was not too light and provided a nice moistness that was evenly spread throughout to provide a wonderful seasoning. Having had the best gyros in the world at Savva's in downtown Athens, I am quite the critic when it comes to gyros. The tzatziki was among the best I have had. The lamb was cut into strips (I prefer shaved), however it was perfectly tender, but lacked a little salt, or other seasoning. All was stuffed in a nice wheat pita pocket. They were very generous with the portion of lamb for the excellent price of $4.95. My only 2 complaints were 1. I am used to having something similar to french fries in my gyro (thanks Savva's!) and 2. lacked a little as far as seasonings (again comparing to the world's best so its still great).

The menu provides the option of getting normal size portions at a bargain (starting around $3 up to $5) and is conducive to trying new things or getting to experience multiple things on the menu-as opposed to the also well priced "plate" portions which are very large for around $9. The staff is pleasant and extremely helpful and they provide plenty of explanations. Many of the menu items are prepared in view from the freshest of ingredients. This will be one place I will definitely return to again.

star rating*****
Staff *****
taste ***1/2
price ****
location *****
menu ****
I would give it a 4.5 over all (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A touch of culture

Just weeks after I had been complaining to my family and friends about the lack of anything cultural or any decent local restaurants in Columbia, TN a little taco stand opened up on highway 31 next to a gas station. My first experience there I pulled up after closing, feeling a bit unsafe. I walked up and the lady quickly jumped back inside to see what I wanted. I ordered the ceviche (a first for me). The ceviche came out on two perfectly crunchy tostadas. The shrimp were dime sized and abundantly scattered among fresh pico with cilantro on top. It was served with lime wedges which added a zesty touch. For a first experience with ceviche, I would highly recommend it especially at the bargain of $5.00.

Today was my second experience. I decided to order horchata. Another first for me. Not something I would order again, but I can appreciate this sweetened rice milk flavored with cinnamon and lime. Worth the experience (especially for $1 for 20 ounces) but not my cup of tea. I also ordered a taco with spicy pork and a taco with regular pork. they were topped with onions, carrots, and cilantro and served with a small shot of salsa verde and a slice of lime. The regular pork was good, but the "spicy" pork while not too spicy was perfectly seasoned and the splash of lime juice and salsa verde added a nice zing to the tender pork and soft, fresh tortillas. Some of the best tacos I have had and for only $3.00 with 20 ounces of horchata included, I would rate this as the best value for the money I have had in a long time, and I would recommend it to anyone passing through the area. As far as taste, the tacos one up any mexican restaurant in town. Maybe next time I will have the guts to try the beef cheek or beef tongue.

Did I mention the presentation with paper plates, Styrofoam cups, and aluminum foil really tops the cake.

Apple 'n' Prosciutto Sandwiches

This is a recipe I got from Taste of Home but has become a favorite among my family. I beg you not to leave out the apples if you make this.

olive oil
chopped walnuts
grated parmesan cheese
fresh rosemary
thinly sliced prosciutto
thinly sliced apple
Brie cheese, rind removed
any kind of bread you want

I layer the prosciutto and apples and spread the brie on the bread. Sprinkle with walnuts, Parmesan, and rosemary. Then rub olive oil on outside of bread and cook like a grilled cheese just until browned and cheese is starting to melt. This sandwich will melt in your mouth and leave you wanting more!

The End of a Fine Establishment

As is the trend of fine restaurants in Mobile, AL, word has it that Guido's restaurant has closed its doors officially. Guido's was perhaps my favorite in a long line of unique restaurants i have tried in my 22 years. Guido's was established in two old houses where one served as the kitchen and the other as the dining room. Upon entering, one notices the chalkboard menu written by the morning chef that must be followed by the evening chef (it was never the same). Guido's served a fine assortment of soups, salads, and entrees that are often a blend of Cajun, Italian, and seafood. Ever present was a Mahi Mahi dish usually featuring an exotic homemade topping such as mango salsa. A fine steak was also a staple. Calzones, pastas, and jambalayas were also always on the menu. Portions were never a problem as the serving sizes were ample and every dish was served with garlic mashed new potatoes and fresh green beans. If that's not enough, the fresh baked herb bread with dipping sauce never runs out. For those who are ever in need of a palate cleanser as I am, the bread pudding with whiskey sauce was without a doubt the most delectable bread pudding I've experienced. The cake selection was never the same but among the best were the slabs of red velvet cake or Italian Creme cake that would rival Pollman's bakery's best. I will forever miss this quaint, unique establishment, but I hear rumor that there is still one open in Fairhope, AL

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Misdirection and Purposeless Statement

So I figured the first post should be a statement of the purpose and direction of this blog. I intend to use this blog as a way to share my passion for food and my love for hole-in-the-wall culinary wonders with those who perhaps would never grace the doors of a restaurant or bakery lacking in familiar cliche slogans or copyrighted symbols. I believe food is one thing that unites all human beings and the love of food has often been a centerpoint in my life that has led to a cornucopia of rich, unlikely, and varied friendships across the world-on a bridge in Germany on the way to a chocolate factory, in a cafe in Munich, on my waffle walk in Brussels, etc. So even if I never have a single comment, I will be fulfilled in expressing my obsessive culinary thoughts.