Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there! I hope you all had a great day :)
I recently told you all about Redwood Smoke Shack, a BBQ food truck that has placed itself soundly in the top tier of BBQ in the area. I love BBQ and smoked meat. Pulled pork, beef brisket, BBQ chicken - whatever! If it was on a grill I'm probably going to like it.
Last month I got a message from a guy named Jon Basco asking if I wouldn't mind checking out his authentic Texas BBQ operation called Red River Smokehouse. Of course I said, "YES!"
(I didn't really yell like that, it was in message, but that's how it sounded in my head.)
A little bit about Red River Smokehouse, the truck is named after the Red River that separates Texas and Oklahoma. Jon is a Texan transplanted in the area through his service in the Marines. After getting out of the service he ended up staying here and with him his take on BBQ. I think we lucked out.
Red River Smokehouse was going to be at Commonwealth Brewing Co. early the next week after we talked and I planned on meeting him there. Monday rolled around and it was the big day, I mean I get to eat BBQ and drink beer at the beginning of the week, that's about as good as it gets. I went straight to the truck to meet Jon in person and check out his setup. He uses a custom trailer that affords him a lot room (more than some of the rigs I've seen out there) and it's equipped with a smoker on the back. Jon let me jump up and check out the truck but I didn't get too far in because he was busy and I didn't want to get in they way. I told him I was going to grab a beer and he said he'd put together a little something for me try. Excellent.
I love Commonwealth Brewing Co., they have an IPA called Wapatoolie that is hazy, citrusy, and amazing to drink. I know some people might look for something a little darker to pair with BBQ but I like to say, "I can do what I want!"
I grabbed my beer and was scoping out a place to sit with some good lighting and notice a someone getting their photo taken in the brewery and then immediately recognized her as one of the local lifestyle/fashion bloggers Tilley Hansen of Tilley's Threads. We follow each other online but have never met in person, I'm all about meeting the people I see online. I figure if you can creep on them online you can definitely (at least) say hello in person! She was with her friend and photographer Meridith A. Bright who shoots for Elizabeth Ashley - Virginia.
After chatting for a bit I went to check on the food, luckily it was finished by the time I got to the truck. I know I already posted a photo up top there, but here is another because we eat with our eyes first right?
I got hooked up with some smoked turkey breast, BBQ pork ribs, brisket (dry and wet), and some sides. I went straight for the beef brisket first. Jon explained to me earlier that this brisket was only seasoned with salt and pepper then, of course, the smoke. It was delicious! Seriously, after having the brisket I was thinking I really needed to sit down and do a comparison from the notable BBQ trucks out there. I could eat this stuff all night.
The ribs were excellent, didn't fall apart, the meat firm on the bone. Lightly sauced and tasty. The turkey breast was a nice surprise too, some people out there don't eat beef or pork so bird is always a good to have on the menu too. I liked the smokey flavor.
I liked the mac and cheese a lot and cole slaw is always good. Oh yeah, look:
Usually when I'm out, I'm the one taking all the pictures. It was fun to watch someone else out there doing their thing. I peeked outside and saw someone else I knew...
...Boss Lady Caity! She runs the Your Pie Pizza joints in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Try their pizza if you haven't yet, the Great White is my favorite. Let me get back to the BBQ.
If you haven't tried Red River Smokehouse you need to. Put it on the list of great BBQ trucks we in the area you need hit and definitely get the brisket!
I have another truck I'm scheduled to visit, I've had their food a few times before but I'm going to check out the operation a little more in depth! Till next time!
Shelby and I took a walk earlier, the weather was beautiful, there was a breeze and people were grilling. As soon as you smell it you immediately want to bust out your grill and cook something outside!
We committed to hit the store after our walk and pick up something to cook. I was thinking maybe doing BBQ chicken but Shelby said it had been a while since we grilled burgers and went with that instead. When I make my patties I like to take two small plates and smash the ground beef thin. Shelby really likes when the burger is larger than the bun. We also love to toast and butter the bun - a pet peeve of mine is if you get a burger and the bun isn't toasted. It really does make it that much better.
I used a pound of Angus 80/20 and I made a tiny burger for Jasper. He's really is spoiled. I dressed my burger up with some American and cheddar cheese. I cut up a whole onion and put it on the vegetable grill rack too. I made two layers of cheese, onion, and burger. I also added a little pickle, mayo and a ton of lettuce (I love lettuce on a burger!) This is how it came out.
Love those smokey backyards this time of year...
Bay Local Eatery has opened a new location in Virginia Beach! It's located on Laskin Rd. where Metropolitan Oyster Exchange used to be. Metro was doing great but they decided to pare down a little bit and sold the spot Bay Local. I hate seeing Metro go, it was solid with a great people but I know Bay Local will take the baton running.
This week they had their soft opening with family and friends but then opened the flood gates to stress test the system to work out any last kinks on the line, see how long it would take to get the tickets knocked out and how the new/relocated staff handled crowds. We felt lucky to be invited for an opportunity to eat there before it officially opened to the public the next day.
When we arrived at 1:00 it was packed! We had a little wait but it was only about 15 minutes, pretty good considering at the original location they waits are usually about a hour. While we waiting I cruised about the restaurant to check it out. The floor plan is similar to what it was with Metro, open space with booths along the walls and high-tops in the center but the decor has changed a lot. It's more in-line with the original Bay Local feel to it, homey and inviting. The huge "M" behind the bar is now a stained glass panel that glows a warm gold.
I bumped into owner Adrian and we chatted a little bit about what's new and life in general. He's be on the ground with this, making sure things have been running smoothly from electricity in the back to the hostess stand front of the house. My pager went off indicating we a table, Shelby and I took our seats.
The great thing about soft openings is that you pretty much get to try whatever you like from the menu. That doesn't mean you go crazy and order everything just because you can, but it's definitely a good opportunity to try something different! We decided we'd start with a couple of appetizers but then had a hard time figuring out exactly what we wanted, there was a lot to choose from and it all looked great. So....how about drinks then?
Shelby got a mimosa, it was moscato with a scoop of sorbet in it. Cute and tasty! I got a bloody mary, Bloody Bay actually. I always get one of these when we eat at Bay Local. It's a spicy house mix that has just enough burn to keep you hanging in there.
The starters we finally choose were the Shrimp, Scallop, & Bacon Fritters and the Poppin Champagne Fried Carolina Shrimp. The fritters were great but we really loved the shrimp, the batter was light and the shrimp were plump and not over cooked.
Adrian said we need to try the Bay Local Oysters too, so put in for a half dozen. They were delicious! Loved how creamy they were and the greens they were adorned with. I could easily eat two dozen of these!
Coming to a decision on entrees was hard too, Shelby kept eyeing the shrimp and grits but she also loves crab cakes. Easiest thing to do was have her order the grits and I would get the crab bennie then we could split them! Shelby's "Just Right" Shrimp and Grits were very good. The texture was great especially with the cheese and sausage blended in throughout. It's finished off with sautéed onions, sweet peppers, and bacon - so good! I'm all about that savory flavor profile. She also got the cinnamon fried biscuit on the side, those things are dangerous.
My Crab Cake Bennie are something I've had before but it's one of those things you can order over and over again and it doesn't get old. I opted for tots on the side, you always go for the tots!
We were pretty stuffed by the time our last plates were brought out and had to box up what we didn't finish. Definitely a good dinner of leftovers later that night! While we were eating Adrian came over and checked to see how things were going and asked Shelby if she'd like another mimosa. She was off for the rest of the day so she said, "Sure, why not." He came back with a huge one, we had a little laugh over that.
We settled up and headed out, on the way to the door we bumped into our friend Judy Cowling who writes the Turning Tables column for The Virginian-Pilot. It's always great to see her, we see each other a lot especially at events, restaurants, etc... We caught up then said our good-byes. I was about ready for a nap after our feast but I needed to get back to the office. I dropped Shelby off with the food at the house and headed back to work.
All in all a great day, any chance to eat at Bay Local is a good day. I hope you're planning on grabbing a bite there, you won't regret it.
I go to a lot of events - I mean a lot! If you follow me on on Instagram (click on my feed to the left) you'll know I'm out and about all the time. Most of the events I go to revolve around beer, reason being is that there are basically more beer events than there are food events. Food events involve a ton of planning, prep work, staging, cooking, etc... I definitely try to attend any food event I'm invited to, they're great for checking out a chef's innovation and creativity. Needless to say, the food is a treat to eat of course!
I was recently contacted by Kate from Hoffman Beverage, a large distributor in our area, about helping promote a beer and food event that would be located at the Virginia Aquarium. They've invited me and Shelby to come hang out and do a couple of my favorite things:
Eat and Drink
Oh, that's Kate in the photo below! She was buying me beers at our meeting in Norfolk but that isn't why I agreed to be involved with this, honest!
Note: If you want to buy me a beer if we ever end up at the bar together, I will gladly accept ;)
Her idea, Evening On The Creek, was to do something that was different than the what has become the standard event model of setting up a table, have volunteers pour beer, rinse-dry-repeat till you're drunk. Kate and the team wanted to pair some unique beers from breweries they have in their catalog with some goods eats. The result looks pretty delicious too! Ticket holders will be treated to some great beer and food at tasting stations that allow people to take their time to appreciate their pairings and peruse the components of the collective meal. All of this will be at the wonderful Virginia Aquarium over looking the beautiful Owl Creek.
I can go on but I'm going to copy and paste the official event notice here for you to check out. There's a link below to purchase tickets too, "Early Bird" tickets are on sale until MARCH 24th, 2017 for $75. I hope to see you there!
The Official Stuff:
Join 20 local, regional and national breweries in support of Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team as they host the “An Evening on the Creek” on March 25th at 6 pm. Each expertly crafted beer, chosen in part for their rarity or limited quantities will be masterfully paired with complementary artisanal eats created by Chef Jason Congleton. Enjoy these rare, limited quantity beers and amazing food all while overlooking the beautiful view of Owls Creek and stunning environment of the VA Aquarium.
(GF) European Cheese & Charcuterie Platter- Rabbit & White Wine Sausage, Wild Boar with Cranberries & Shiraz Sausage, Garlic & Herb Gouda, Dilled Havarti, Aged Provolone, Creamy Gorgonzola, 3 year aged White Cheddar, Spicy Garlic Pickled Veggies (V) *Without the Sausages*
Bavarian Style Smoked & Beer Braised Wild Antelope Bratwurst with House made “Southkraut”, Quick Pickles, & Creole Grain Mustard Crème in Split Top Lobster Roll (Stadium Dog on steroids)
Schweineschnitzel Street Taco – Savory Pan Sauteed Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Cutlet with hints of Lemon & Citrus, Red Cabbage & Local Apple Slaw for a little sweetness, Spicy German Potato Drizzle
Tasting Station 4: "Tasting Room Only"
Smartmouth IV Chocolate Porter, Devils Backbone Cocoa Bear (Russian Imperial Stout), Back Bay Owls Kreek (Farmhouse style mixed grain Grisette w montmorency cherries), Young Veterans Brewing Company Goat Locker.
German Spaetzle, sautéed with Wild Forest Mushroom Glace & topped with 48 hour Beer Marinated & House Rub Seasoned Flat Iron Steak (V) *Without the Steak*
**each week new limited beers will be announced!**
Poke Bowl – Duet of Garlicky Spiced Arctic Char & Eastern Shore Blue Crab With Citrus Essence Poke, Shaved Carrot, Pickled Shallot, Diced Mango & Pineapple, Red Ginger Wakame “Salad”, Toasted Sesame, Honey-Gochujang Mayonnaise, Rainbow Trout Roe, Sticky Rice
The truck is actually a trailer with the smoker attached to it; looks pretty cool! The menu has lots to offer: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sides (including the huge Supreme Potato), and much more! I got a sampler plate, a couple of beers and dug in.
Bonus: I saw a lot of friends and my fellow photographer buddy Amanda from Stellar Exposures. Check out the food!
If you know me, you know when someone asks me what my favorite restaurant in Virginia Beach is I'll say I have a few! Yeah, it's a cop out but there are so many places to eat in Virginia Beach and I've only visited a fraction of them I can't say for sure what the best one is out there. It's also a very subjective topic, we're all different!
OK, evasive talk aside, I will say that one of my favorite places to eat in the city is Terrapin. Hands down! I've posted and written about them a lot over the years but I just found another reason to visit the shop - TACO TUESDAY! Shelby saw it out there and said we should try it. $10 for hand-pressed tortillas with a carnitas plate and $6 Blood Orange Margaritas! You can't beat that for a meal at Terrapin.
I'm sure most of you have heard of Taco Tuesday it's basically an excuse to go out and eat tacos on a slow night for restaurants. It's been around since the early 80s and maybe earlier according to some stories.
That being said don't think that Terrapin really has slow nights, we went the second week of this taco celebration and got there about 5:45, 45 minutes after the door opened and had to be put on a waiting list. I swear the regulars, most whom appeared retired, must have been waiting at the doors and rushed the bar! Oh, forgot to mention Taco Tuesday is bar service only.
I'm not complaining about the wait because that gave Shelby and me a chance to check out the drink menu, chat, and eyeball what Rodney (ownder/chef) and crew were cooking up through the open kitchen's window. Love how he works, super chill. While we waited we sipped on a Little Italy and a Carré Me Home. The Little Italy has bourbon, cocchi barolo chinato, angostura bitters, and a lemon twist; the Carré Me Home is made with bourbon, triple sec, Drambuie, sweet vermouth.
After finishing our drinks and chatting with Rodney a little bit we finally got our seat at the bar. We asked for the tacos, of course, and a couple of Blood Orange Margaritas. The oranges were hand-squeezed and the drink itself was great. The carnitas were perfect, not that I expected anything less from Terrapin. The portion was nice, I was able to get four tacos out of my serving and left feeling full.
Basically, make an effort to hit Taco Tuesday at Terrapin. I don't know how long they'll do it and it's an easy way to get a quality meal at a great price.
News Years Eve was pretty exciting and a little nerve racking for us. Instead of our usual celebratory activities of eating and drinking a lot, then watching bad NYE shows, we drank a lot, stayed up too late, and packed for a trip to Hawaii! My brilliant idea about staying up late was to make sure I was nice and tired on the plane so I could sleep most of the trip from Atlanta to Hawaii. Yeah, that didn't work out too well.
We were supposed to go earlier in the year to see our son, but the timing was off. This time we worked out the holiday schedule and made it happen. I'll be honest and say I wasn't excited about having to sit on a plane for 13 1/2 hours but to honest it wasn't that bad. We flew with Delta and it was a pretty good experience overall. We haven't flown overseas since we left Germany.
Anyway! Delta (international) was great, they kept us fed and we had a ton of entertainment with the on-board media system (I watched three movies), and lots of free drinks. Thanks Delta! So with about maybe one hour of sleep we finally arrived in Hawaii. We went back in time even! We left Norfolk, VA at about 8:30 AM, we arrived in Honolulu, HI at 4:30 PM. It's like magic!
Yeah, yeah, I know how time zones work, let me have my moment...
I'll be honest and say I really wasn't excited about visiting Hawaii before we left. I lived there back in the early 1980s and did all kinds of crazy stuff and thought, "Meh, no big whoop." I really wanted to see Chayce and Katie though, they were married about 6 months ago and we haven't seen them since.
That all changed when I we were approaching the island and I could see the bright, sapphire blue waters contrasted with the emerald green island. The airport was right next to the beach and when we landed I couldn't wait to get off the plane to stand in bright sunlight and take a look at everything clearly.
As soon as we let the terminal we were on an outdoor walkway heading towards baggage claim to pick up some beer we brought over from the mainland to Chayce. We had to get a couple of pics of ourselves too. New Years Day in Hawaii!
Chayce and Katie were supposed to meet us at the airport but I told them we were arriving almost an hour later and they were there. We told them to meet us at the rental car office where we were getting our car. It's funny driving down Nimitz Highway, the road our rental was off of felt just like being stateside - grey, concrete, and traffic.
Chayce and Katie showed up at the car rental and they gave us the traditional leis you see on TV. They smelled great and reminded me of what Hawaii smelled like the first I lived there 30 years earlier. After we got the car we all drove down to the Waikiki to the Hale Koa were we were staying for the next 8 days. It's right on the beach and next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
The hotel still had it Christmas decorations up and it was kind of nice. Our holiday so far had been a whirlwind of activity so being in super chill mode and getting to relax some more made it all very welcoming. Here's some photos in front of the trees.
We ended up on the top floor of the hotel facing the city of Waikiki, Diamondhead, and the beach.
It was perfect!
We could stand on our little lanai and just watch Waikiki breath and move. The ocean was dotted with boats here and there that lit up at night. I really wanted to know what was happening out there. If we looked north, the mountains climbed to the clouds. It looked lush and wet, I felt the need to explore!
After settling in and catching up with Chayce and Katie we decided to grab a quick bite to eat. Chayce said there was a burger place near by he loved so we went with that. It's called Ted's Bigger Burger and they have a huge menu! It was reminiscent of the old school burger joints you only see in movies these days and they even had milkshakes and malts.
I liked the burger names (click on the image below to zoom in) and I ended up "Blue Wave" because I have a hard time passing up a good ole black & blue burger. I ordered a large vanilla malt too because I was on vacation and I haven't worked out since the beginning of December and I was on a roll.
Here's what else we had at the table:
After we ate Shelby and I both started feeling the 5 hour time difference and decided we should head back to the room to get a little sleep. After getting back to the hotel we figured we had to hit the beach real quick before hitting the sack. So we walked through the Hale Koa garden and went straight to the beach. The air was cool and even with all the city lights behind us the horizon was dark and we were lucky enough to see the "wet moon", meaning it looks as if the moon is crescent of bowl lit from the bottom. In Hawaii it's called Kaelo, "Dripping Wet Moon" month, it happens in parts of January and February. Tried to get a couple of shots below, not great but shows you what we were seeing. I also used the the Sky Guide app to figure out what else we were seeing up there.
We got out feet wet in the Pacific ocean walked along the shore and watched this guy shoot these little LED lit propelled toys into the air. That was kind of cool, he was actually selling them and the show he was putting on seemed to be working out well for sales.
Walking back towards the hotel we saw the Barefoot Bar was open still which meant we had to get a Mai Tai. We've had one before but I mean you have to when you're in Hawaii right? So we did.
I never usually order fruity drinks but I feel in love with mine as soon as I took my first sip (especially after I was told I should mix in the dark rum floating on top of the drink.)
After travelling all day, exploring a little bit, and topping off the night with Mai Tais on the beach we were ready for bed. Day One in Hawaii was wonderful and I was worried that the next seven would go by too fast.
Here's to a happy and prosperous new year!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I decided to take the day off for the Veterans Day holiday. I guess I didn't really need to but I thought it would be nice to have a long weekend and maybe get a few things done around the house.
After having my coffee I got hit with a huge craving for some kinda breakfast-y (sure that's a word) type food. I was going between pancakes somewhere or Handsome Biscuit - of course Handsome Biscuit won.
It took me 30 minutes to drive there from the house which was crazy. Traffic, road work and some non-driving people made it a painful ride. Handsome Biscuit had a line out of the door which is pretty much the norm but I was excited to be there. It's been a several months since I've been there.
I knew what I wanted, the Blue Blazer with the housemade Lupo and a side of hash browns smothered in Redeye gravy. I got to say hi friends while I waited in line and chat a little bit. When I got my take-out bag I was given a little surprise too, a delicious brownie cookie (thanks Brittney!)
So have another 30 minute drive getting home (what is going on with this traffic?), I reassemble my food then take photos of course. Then we eat our delicious brunch before I head out to rake leaves. Pretty good day so far.
I'll be at the Green Flash Industry Night shindig tonight, hope I see some of you there!
Something exciting is happening next week, especially for those who like to following cooking shows on TV. Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay will be hosting an “An Evening in Culinary Excellence”. This charity dinner will have not one, but two famous chefs that have previously visited the community through the Celebrity Chef Series - Chef Fabio Viviani and Chef Jet Tila. The two chefs will each perform a cooking demonstration for the audience in addition to orchestrating meals for dinner. Chef Tila will be performing a cooking demonstration of Black Cod Misoyaki, Forbidden Rice and Chef Viviani will cook Fresh Egg Pasta. The charity event benefits the Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Guests will be enjoying some of Fabio's wines from his collections, an open bar, and a four course meal directed by the chefs. The meals will be made up of both the chef's recipes and prepared by the Westminster-Canterbury Culinary team under the leadership of Executive Chef Sandra Suria. The team at the retirement community is top-notch and knows how to execute a big meal like this so it's done right. I was very impressed when I had my meal there and am very excited about this one.
After the meal guests will get the opportunity to vote for their favorite entree! Here’s what’s cooking:
Arancini with Pancetta (Fabio Viviani recipe)
Butter Lettuce Salad with pomegranate seeds, apples and shaved celery (Fabio Viviani recipe)
Yuzu Crab and Avocado Salad (Jet Tila recipe)
Duo Entrée (plated separately)
Burrata, blistered tomatoes, pine nuts and marinated beef filet (Fabio Viviani)
Black Cod Misoyaki, Forbidden Rice (Jet Tila)
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with tropical fruit (Jet Tila)
Shared Table Dessert Signature Chocolate Lavender Truffle (Westminster-Canterbury Culinary Team)
Though I didn’t get to attend Chef Viviani’s dinner at Westminster a few years ago, I was able to catch Chef Tila when he was here and it was a ton of fun. There was a lot of banter, moving around with tables and of course the food! Auction was held at the end of the demonstration that got a little out-of-hand, but in a good way. The proceeds for that also went to Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Also, if I recall correctly, Chef Tila said something along the lines of taking down Chef Viviani if the the two of them ever met at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay in the future. Looks like that day has come! This should be a lot of fun to watch and I really appreciate being invited to attend.
Here's a little bit about the chefs.
The Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef Tila has been in working in the industry for over 20 years and is famous for Thai and Chinese cooking. Being part Thai and Cantonese he grew up with the two distinct cooking styles and spent a lot of time in his family’s well-known, Los Angeles based restaurant Royal Thai. After committing himself to his work he’s been involved in countless projects around the country and has appeared on several television shows such Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped. He was a contender on Iron Chef going head-to-head with Chef Morimoto – Tila didn’t win but he only lost by two points!
Florence born Chef Fabio Viviani is best known for his run on Bravo's hit reality series Top Chef earning the title of "Fan Favorite". By the time he was 27 he operated 7 restaurants in his hometown and was involved in several other ventures. He moved to California in 2007 opening Café Firenze, and later, Siena Tavern in Chicago, IL. Afterwards he put a few more openings under his belt and even launching his own wine line - Fabio Viviani Wine Collection. Viviani is now a regular on the food entertainment circuits including television appearances, festivals, global food events, and signature cookware.
General admission tickets ($125) include the demonstration and dinner, while the VIP tickets ($250) allow you to attend an early Cocktail Reception an hour before the dinner. Sponser Tables at two different levels Table Sponsor ($2,000) and Silver Sponsor ($1,000) can be purchased too, head over to the site to see the details for each level of benefit associated with the purchase.
The event will be held at 6:30 P.M., October 25, 2016 at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, 3100 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach.
To purchase your tickets and reserve a seat, follow this LINK or call 877-320-2066.
Sorry Chef Viviani, I have lots of photo of Jet from his visit last year ;)
Please take a moment and follow the link below to see how you can help make Virginia Beach even more interesting and a fun place to live!
*Added photos after the session. Tar Roof got its permit! Congrats! Grabbed a bite afterwards at Chowboy Republic.
Dave Adams from Green Flash was in town getting the new brewery up to snuff. We met up at the Old Beach Farmers Market so I could show him around a bit and invite him to some of the locals. I got to congratulate Three Ships Coffee's Ms. Cosmopolitan too (wink.) Oh, made a quick pit stop at Bottlecraft Virginia Beach too.
Old Beach Farmers Market - 24 Sep 2016Read More
The whole house smelled wonderful...
...I've had my spicy tomato sauce on the stove overnight.
Shelby said we need to go through the freezer and get rid of anything that's been hanging out in there too long. When it was around dinner time last night I thought I'd take a look and see what we had in there:
Bag of venison cut into stew meat.
Three clusters of snow crab legs.
Two slices of pork loin (these will be marinating in some mojo this week.)
Bags of cheese rinds.
Frozen egg rolls that really need to be friend up soon.
Some prepared tomatoes from several months ago...
There is a bunch of other stuff in there but it would take up a couple of pages to list. There is even a bag of mystery meat labelled "Chayce". No worries, I can assure you our son Chayce is alive and well in Hawaii. He's even married now! Here's proof from a Facetime we did last month, he wanted instructions on how to cook steak and potatoes.
Ok, for dinner I didn't have time to thaw out much so the crabs legs are pretty much cooked already and will be easy to prep. I had a head of broccoli I wanted to try a recipe on so there's the green. Easy!
I figured while I was making dinner I might as well take out the frozen tomatoes get those simmering. Tomato sauce is easy to make and this bag of tomatoes, about 3 lbs. worth, have been neglected for so long.
Since I wasn't using the sauce last night I planned on letting it stew overnight. While I was awake I had it set on a low simmer, stirring occasionally and scraping the sides. Shelby was out and when she walked in she said, "Mmm...what's that?" Told her what the deal was and unfortunately there would be no tomato sauce eating on this night. At bedtime I add some extra water and set it on low, barely a bubble here and there, covered the pot (to halt reduction), and then went to sleep.
Woke up and like the title of the post says, the whole house smelled wonderful. Checked on the sauce, stirred it, uncovered it, and turned it back up to a very low simmer. I'll check on it later at lunchtime when I'm on break. Reason I'm cooking it for so long is to let the tomato flesh breakdown on its own. I'm stirring it to keep it from sticking to the pot and to help break up the tomatoes that way too. If I'm here to tend to the sauce I'll keep it uncovered to concentrate and thicken. I'll probably store it in the fridge and have it Thursday night, we're going to my mother's house for dinner tonight.
Here's my recipe so you can make this spicy sauce at home. You'll notice I put onion down as optional, but I always add onion to everything! Love them. I had to adjust the recipe a tad bit since I didn't use the 4 lbs. of tomatoes I usually use.
Spicy Tomato Sauce
- 4 pounds tomatoes, prepared
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 cloves Garlic, smashed
- 1 small Onion, diced (optional)
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- ½ cup of White Wine, Dry
- 1 tablespoon of Fennel Seed
- 2 tablespoons Dried Basil
- 1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
- 1 tablespoon Dried Dill
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Red Pepper Flake
- 2 teaspoons Cumin
- 2 tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
- 2 medium Bay Leaves
Before you Start:
- Some people use whole tomatoes, pulp, skin, and all. I blanch and squeeze mine before I freeze them. The tomatoes used in this recipe were prepared this way.
- I used an 8 qt. pot to keep spatter from making a mess and keep the heat even.
- If you don't want to wait hours for sauce, just cook it all thoroughly then use a immersion blender to smooth it out.
- Add heat oil to a large sauce pan at low-med heat.
- Add garlic, onions, salt, pepper. Cooke till translucent.
- Add the wine and scrape any bits from the pan, cook for 3 minutes.
- Now add the rest of the ingredients and turn stove down to a low simmer.
- Let simmer for 4-6 hours, stir occasionally to prevent sticking and to help break up the tomatoes.
You know how sometimes you just really need to eat that one thing, it keeps nagging you until you finally fill that void? For about two weeks now I've been craving some good ole' fashioned waffles with a lot of syrup. Not only that they had to come with the homemade sausage you get at Commune in Virginia Beach, VA. Basically, I needed to go to Commune again.
I have some free time this past Friday which provided me with the opportune time to take care of business. I told Shelby my plan (eating is serious business around here) and she said "Do it!"
So there we go, I was off to Commune.
I got in early enough which allowed me to sit wherever I wanted, I opted for the bar. After getting my drink I made the rounds and chatting with everyone, I gotta say "Hi". When it was time to get down to dealing with my cravings I told them about the waffles thing that was happening. Of course they had the Heirloom Cornmeal Waffles available...but they also had another item on the menu that wasn't going to be around for too long.
The two you see below, they started this trouble.
The week before Commune catered a beer dinner showcasing the first sour release for the local brewery Commonwealth Brewing Company. One of the items on the menu was a pork belly sandwich. They happened to have a little bit of this pork belly on-hand still and decided to put on the menu. The caveat for this offering was that as soon as they ran out of the peaches that accompanied the pork belly ran out so did the sandwich. I was told there were five of these sandwiches left in their current form before they were never, ever offered to another human on this planet and I went for the hook.
Granted this wasn't an easy decision mind you.
I was internally battling the Waffle-mind, backed by weeks of waffle desire, with the Pork Belly camp that just showed up on the scene. Rock-Paper-Scissors - never mind, let's not even pretend. Pork Belly wins, it always wins in the end.
Because once you take a bite - and it's prepared properly - it's heaven in your mouth. It's the perfect combination of fat and protein that melts in your mouth it's hard to believe that it's real. That's what pork belly is, satisfying and decadent, you feel it when it happens.
Let's back up. I asked for waffles and was offered a pork belly sandwich and I internally battled it out only to have Pork Belly win with a predictable 10 second knockout. What happened? What did I get for this crazy expenditure of brain matter and physical stress?
The Burnt Honey Glazed Pork Belly Sandwich. Burnt honey glazed pork belly, soft smoked peaches, red onion, picked mustard seeds, burnt onion aioli and garden greens on a brioche bun.
Other then the fact that I can get delicious waffles from Commune on the regular menu, I heard that there were only three pork belly sandwiches left before they etched into the annuals of time. I actually walked over to the window and asked Chef Barry Smith what the deal was and he said this (I'm paraphrasing):
We made this for Commonwealth Brewing dinner last week and I only have enough peaches to [he goes and checks the fridge] make about three more sandwiches.
I see on on the griddle and comment about how delicious it looks and he then says:
Pork belly is my religion...
Pork Belly Sandwich please! Any person who makes a statement like that you have to take seriously.
I was not disappointed. This thing was crazy good and if you take into account the amount of work Commune goes through to get food like this on the table it's insane. Take another look:
It was so good! It was hard, but I only ate half so I could take the rest to Shelby. I was going to be picking her up for lunch and figured this would be a sweet surprise. I actually lucked out at the restaurant though, Barry came out with something he was putting together, a Pork Shoulder Terrine for the weekend menu. He asked me to come over and check it out while he saved some images of it for future reference.
It looked great. He said he was might adjust the composition a bit before the weekend rush but the terrine was going to stay the same. It took him about two days to put the main component of the dish together and it showed. It was a little smoky and very tender. He offered the dish to me after he had gotten his images and of course I didn't refuse.
So in the end, I didn't get my waffle fix but I did get to eat something that was amazing and I figured I'd just have to go back for waffles later.
Make it a point to swing by Commune for breakfast/brunch/lunch for a something a little bit different and take advantage of a dining experience in Virginia Beach.