Sunday, December 14, 2008

deals, like everything, are relative

just found an interesting article on lobster in the new york times. according to the author, lobster is a steal in new york city right now at $10.99/lb. seriously?!!!! it is $3.99/lb right down the street from my house! this is yet another reminder that i need to take advantage of these amazing lobster prices more often.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

another reason to love maine

maine shrimp. the small sweet, naturally pink morsels of deliciousness. otis and marya had told tales of these treats many times. on monday december 1st, i heard announced on mpbn that the maine shrimp season had officially started and would be an especially long season, i knew i was going to be indulging within days.
saturday, as we did our grocery shopping, we picked up one pound of unshelled maine shrimp for about $4 a pound. later that night, as seth shelled them, he said to me "these are cooked right?" he was fooled by the naturally pink color because they were raw. we blanched half and had shrimp cocktail and sauteed the rest in olive oil and garlic and put them on top of our pizza. SHRIMPALICOUS!!!!
we may have though our shrimp feast was done for the week but it wasn't. sunday night we went to otis and marya's for dinner and after some amazing appetizers of wellfleet oysters in the nude and rockefeller and blue fish smoked by otis's father, we dug into some amazing maine shrimp etouffee prepared by otis.
i have no doubt there will be much more indulging on maine shrimp.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

i love me some pizza

so today, wednesday, is my week day off. yes i am a very lucky woman and i only have to work 4 days a week. its a new and amazing thing, being a nurse practitioner and actually making good money, good enough to only have to work 4 days a week.
so as it is my day off i am responsible for cooking dinner. i was craving a pizza and i had noticed that the pizza dough from hannaford's is starting to do that crazy thing it sometimes does when the bag gets huge and looks like it will pop. i'm sure it has something to do with the yeast. i have been making some especially tasty pizzas recently with home made roasted red peppers, oven roasted tomatoes from whole foods, winter squash, pesto, garlic, onions, and basically whatever else i have in my kitchen that i think would be good on the pizza.
i called my friend jen, who is also a nurse practitioner and also has wednesdays off, to see what she was up to. turned out she was going to lunch with some friends of her's at flatbread company and wanted to know if i wanted to join her for some pizza lunch. that would be a yes! and guess i have to plan something else for dinner. as i have a long commute to work, i decided to walk and meet them at the restaurant. jen was accompanied by her adorable daughter lucy, her friend pete who was visiting from boston, and pete's friend sean, who lives in kennebunk.
the restaurant was pretty quite, as it is a weekday afternoon. we settled into a table in the back corner and convinced each other that a beer with lunch was appropriate. i was reminded of my many years of waitressing and how jealous i would be when people came in for a leisurely lunch on a weekday and ordered booze. and there i was, doing just that, with my allagash white in hand.
the food was great. we started with two house salads, one with goat cheese and one with blue cheese. they came with a light dressing, seaweed, and sesame seeds. delicious! we moved on to our two pizza selections. the homemade sausage pizza is also topped with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheese and herbs and we added tomato sauce as it is a white pizza. we also created our own with roasted red peppers, carmalized onions, kalamata olives, tomato sauce, and cheese. they were both great but i especially loved the briny kalamata olives as the only food seth will not eat are olives so i don't get to partake often.
after lunch we walked over to micucci grocery co., an amazing italian import store with a great deli, pizza and they even offer cooking classes on monday nights. then it was off to whole foods so we could pick up supplies for our respective dinners. jen was making chicken provencal out of how to cook everything (bittman just came out with a brand new edition) and i had decided to make rosemary fried chicken (another martha recipe) after craving it for days. i hope jen's dinner was good because mine was great!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


while i take time to ponder what i am thankful for on most thanksgivings, this one has been especially poignant in the thankful category.
first i was thankful for some time off. lord knows i deserved it after only one week and two days of work! so with five days off ahead of us, seth and i headed to cape cod for thanksgiving time with his family. we spent the actual day of thanksgiving with his mom. it was a glorious day as i was able to cook all the day away. for an appetizer i prepared a mushroom and bacon dip. it was delicious and far from low fat. i also made a cranberry ginger relish, and i again was forced to ask myself the question: if making cranberry sauce is so easy, why would anyone buy the can? i also made a chocolate pumpkin pie which was utterly decadent. i left off the drizzle of milk chocolate but i don't think the pie suffered.
together, seth's mom and i prepared the stuffed turkey breast that i suggested we make this year. we stuffed it with a sausage, sage, and apricot stuffing. it turned out great. i think it could have cooked a little bit less and i would have rubbed under the skin with butter instead of just over the skin, but it was wonderful. seth's mom completed the meal with string beans and roasted sweet potatoes.
the day was quite good and i was left feeling thankful for seth and good food. i do love martha stewart, but i have to say i was a little disturbed when i realized that everything i prepared, except the stuffing, was a martha stewart recipe. not sure what to make of that.
the part of the weekend that really made me thankful came saturday, when seth's best friend's sister, nena, was married. nena's father, greg, is dying of cancer. there was doubt that he would make it to the wedding, but he did. he is an amazingly wonderful man who, along with his wife betty, have raised three of the most awesome humans i know. greg and betty are two people that i look to as role models for parenting. they are only human and have their flaws, but they are amazing and manage to have so much dignity in such a difficult time.
this experience, with such strong emotions, both high and low, remind me to be thankful for many things. for each moment i have surrounded by loved ones. for those people in my life who love me for who i am. for tradition and change and loving each other and learning from one another through everything.

Monday, November 24, 2008

mainer fnp

so in one day i got my dea number and my maine driver's license in the mail. i know the dea number means that i can prescribe narcotics, but does the maine license mean i am a mainer? can someone from away ever really be a mainer? i think no.

oh my miyake!

all i can say is oh my god. this meal was unbelievable. like i said last post, we went really early for dinner in fear of having to wait. we were the first people in the restaurant, which is not our usual style but i like to think we got a little extra special service.
after running next door to the west end deli (133 spring st.) to pick out a bottle from their extensive saki selection (miyake is byob), seth and i decided to partake in the tasting menu #2, putting our dish choices in the hands of the chef. this was a fantastically brilliant choice as our five course japanese meal was something to remember.
it started out with a plate of sashimi containing about eight varieties of the freshest fish. i don't eat uni often but it was WOW! our second course was a northern new england welk. i was so excited because andrew zimern ate welk on last week's maine bizarre foods and i really wanted to try some. it was slow cooked and tender, served cut into bit sized bits in a tastey butter mixture right inside its own shell. third course was braised pork belly. do i need to say more! quickly dipped in soy sauce and spicy mustard it was a party in my mouth. fourth course was soy marinated black cod. yum yum yummy! finally we were served an amazing maki with two types of toro. we finished the meal with a green tea tirimisu and hurried home in the very cold night. yes people, this place is walking distance from my house.
two hours after the start of our meal we left the tiny restaurant. and while it was much busier than when we arrived, we could have still found a spot for the two of us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

exhausted and hungry

so i started my new job this past week and while i am exhausted from using my brain so very much, it was a great week. its quite strange to call myself nurse practitioner. very strange, in fact. but i love it.
my new job is not exactly the setting i imagined myself in when i was in nursing school and all of my clinical placements were in community health centers in ghettos. that's kind of where i thought i would end up. but finding that job in maine proved difficult. finding any job in maine proved difficult. that's why i am commuting one hour each way to work in new hampshire in a private family practice in an affluent community.
but enough about work. after only one week i don't have much to say except that i have a lot to learn.
as a treat to finally finding and starting a job, seth and i are finally going to indulge our sushi craving. portland has an abundance of sushi restaurant and we love sushi. but being so broke we just havn't been able to rationalize a sushi dinner. we knew that once we could, we would be going to food factory miyake (129 Spring St), at the recommendation of our friends otis and marya. so monday we both started dreaming about our soon to come sushi heaven on saturday night.
we were also anticipating the maine episode of bizarre foods with andrew zimmern. mostly we were watching because he attends the bizarre food death match and otis and marya were there and we wanted to get a peek of them in the back ground. but he also goes to miyake! it is already a very popular and tiny restaurant that is hard to get a table in, and now this! not to mention, it makes us look like johnny-come-latelys. anyway, we are headed over there very early this evening so we don't have to wait. i will write tomorrow about the experience.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

brunswick and beer

yesterday seth and i took a very rainy 'sunday drive' to brunswick. never mind that it was a saturday. brunswick is home of bowdoin college and has an adorable historic downtown. we arrived hungry and we were looking for cushing street and el camino restaurant, supposedly the best mexican restaurant in maine. as a native californian i crave mexican on a regular basis. this place had been recommended by more than one friend and was mentioned briefly in the november issue of food and wine. but we didn't find it.
as we drove across the bridge spanning the androscoggin river, into topsham we spotted the sea dog microbrewery and restaurant. the location cannot be beat! it is inside the former bowdoin mill which is a beautiful brick structure that clearly harnessed the power of the androscoggin river to mill whatever they once milled. the designers of the sea dog have left all the brick exposed and have old-timey photos up from when the mill was functional.
beer and the plenitude of breweries that exist in maine have been a sweet treat for seth and i since moving up here. so naturally we ordered the 10 beer sampler. most were quite tasty, though not being a fruit beer fan (except when i was 19), the 5 ounce taster of the wild blueberry ale was just as much as i would ever want.
the food we ordered ended up to be a mixed bag. we started with the fried calamari which was served with a fire roasted pomadoro. it was served piping hot but the sauce simply tasted like tomato sauce and there were very few tentacles on the plate. overall it was okay. for our main courses we shared the seadog ruben sandwich and the haddock soft tacos. the ruben was good, but not great, though i would order it again if i was having a ruben craving. the haddock soft tacos, on the other hand, were amazing! as the menu stated, they were pan blackened with some yummy sauces thrown on, the most tasty being the avocado crema. i took the side of baja cole slaw and put it inside the tacos cuz whats a taco without a little col (spanish for cabbage). the side of black bean rice was mediocre and tasted like they mixed black beans, rice, and jarred salsa. i'm a little biased because i can make a simple can of black beans into something sublime with little more than chopped onions. but even with the mediocre side i would absolutely order the tacos again.
they also have a nice big deck overlooking the river which must be great on a hot summer day. i would defiantly recommend the sea dog, if only for the amazing setting and great beer.
after lunch we drove back across the river and spent a good hour in the in-door flea market in another amazing mill building. we purchased a very cool, old school moxie soda bottle and a book on the history of the world published in 1912. we then took a short, wet walk through downtown brunswick, finishing up at little dog coffee shop for a hot cup of joe. the place was packed with undergrads so there was barely a table to be had. not that it mattered cuz seth isn't one for hanging in cafes. the coffee was great, thanks to coffee by design. one of my favorite things about them, other than their local philosophy and awesome coffee, is that they design brews specifically for the different cafes that sell their coffee. now i love coffee and i can tell the difference between a cup of rosbusta from a cup of arabica, but i probably couldn't tell one cafe's brew from another. its just a fun thing.

thai buffet is a-okay!

i should preface this post with the fact that seth and i love thai buffet. seth in fact loves any food of asian origin. imagine his dismay when i spent 10 days in hong kong enjoying as much asian food as can be fit into that time period, without him. we had this thai buffet that we loved and frequented often when we were living in new haven, ct. when we came to find our portland apartment in august and we spotted the opening soon sign in the window of Thai Chef Buffet (511 congress street), i saw a light come on in seth's eyes.
so this past thursday we visited thai chef buffet for the second time since it opened on october 9th. for $8.95 you get quite a selection of both meat and vegetarian options. its actually divided into meat island and veggie island. in addition they have a salad bar, a small selection of sushi rolls, and an italian option. in my opinion, there is no reason to waste your time on a salad bar when there are so many tasty treats to try and i would never eat italian ANYTHING at a thai buffet. some of the especially good dishes are the chicken basil, thai summer rolls, crab rangoon, and curry puffs.
try to get a window seat because there is some great people watching on congress street. the first time we went there was also some interesting employee watching, but this time the inside of the restaurant was a little tamer. for a buffet, the service is very good and friendly. our waters were refilled frequently, if not obsessively.
they have a full menu as well, which i haven't tried. but if i learned anything from our favorite thai buffet in new haven, its that the buffet rocks but the regular menu is not great. if you try the regular menu and think otherwise, let me know!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

lots of eating out

it was a big weekend for eating out. yesterday seth and i took a drive to saco. seth likes to call any drive we take during the weekend a 'sunday drive.' i'm not clear why it can't just be a weekend drive seeing how it was saturday and he can't see why it bothers me so much.
anyway, we drove south to saco to check out ferry beach, a beautiful little spot where seth went to summer camp during high school. maine's southern coast is very much a tourist destination and as it is currently early november there was very little going on. in old orchard beach, which is one of those classic beach boardwalk destinations, most of the businesses are closed for the season. as a tangent, i love such destinations in the off season because there is such an eeriness to the emptiness. in actuality, almost every business along this stretch of coast was closed. except wormwood's restaurant.
wormwood's, so named for the owner's last name, is quite an experience. according to my internet search it is something of a landmark. the only way to describe this place is OLD SKOOL!!! wow! literally like taking a step back in time. we were one of maybe four table on this raining saturday in november. the majority of the wait staff looked like they may have been working there since the place opened. but the service was actually very good. the menu was very heavy on seafood prepared in classic new england style. it was a little on the pricey side but it is seafood. i appreciated that they had smaller portions available of almost everything on their menu. so did the over 65 crowd that seems to keep this place afloat in the off season.
i was having trouble deciding between lobster stew and chicken fingers (i know!) while seth zoned in on the seafood pies. i went with the chicken fingers with a side of ranch, french fries, and canned pickled beets and seth ordered the crab pie in a newberg sauce with garlic potatoes and pickled beets on the side. seth loved his pie and my chicken fingers really did hit the spot and satisfy my craving for some fried goodness dipped in ranch. i love beets but i'm not sure i have ever had canned pickled beet before. they were surprisingly good, but i will not be picking any up on my next trip to hannaford.

i had long standing dinner plans at with a large group of ladies. i'm really new to portland and so i don't have too many friends here. one of my few friends is marya, the wife of one of seth's friends from high school. in fact, otis and marya are a big reason why we moved to portland and they have been a big support to us. anyway marya invited me to join in on this ladies night organized by her friend jenn.
it took place at local 188 which has a spanish themed menu. the food is quite tasty but a little on the pricey side. marya and i shared the chorizo with sage, apples, and sherry appetizer which was very good. for my main i ordered off the raciones menu and got the wild main mussels with seasonal greens in a roasted garlic cream sauce. this was also very good but maybe wasn't the best choice for me, with my lactose intolerance. only seth's suffers. some of the other ladies had some complaints, such as medium-rare steak appearing closer to medium-well. the service with not great, but we were a very large party and it was quite busy. the other ladies said that the service was pretty typical.

this mornings seth and i were rousted out of bed by phone calls from both otis and marya, asking us if we wanted to have breakfast at the rehabbed miss portland diner. this was only their second weekend open, and while they still have some wrinkles to iron out, its pretty great. we sat in the new dining room, which has been built to look retro, with old booths and 'tin' ceilings. the original worcester lunch car looks beautiful and i can't wait to eat in there. i knew i was going to order hash and eggs before i even got there and it was home made and tasty. all of our breakfasts could have been hotter and the waitress was pretty flustered, but she kept the coffee refills coming. all in all miss portland will likely become a regular spot for breakfast. i will just give them another month to get things running smoothly.

Friday, November 7, 2008

lobster feast in these hard economic times

as one of my favorite things in the world is food, i will write about my dinner this evening. LOBSTER!!! i live in maine so some might think that lobster is a no brainer. but in truth the price of lobster usually puts lobster in the special treat realm. but going along with this big economic crisis, lobsters are pretty damned cheap.
well, kind of. as one drives around portland there are many fish markets and they all have their price for lobster posted outside. the signs currently read 'lobster $3.99/lb'. but once you get in the store you realized that means chicken lobsters, or lobsters under 1 and a 1/4 lb lobsters. by the time you make it up to a 1 and 1/2 lb lobster it is $5.99/lb. and that is for soft shell lobster. hard shell are still quite pricey, starting at $8.99/lb for a smallish lobster.
soft shell means they just recently molted and so there new shell is soft. this is the type of lobster that is used in processing lobster meat. and here lies the cause of the low lobster costs. the processing plants can't get credit, so they can't buy lobsters from the fishermen. so the market is flooded with lobsters and they are cheap.
but i was writing about my lobster dinner tonight. well, seth and i went ahead and bought culls. culls are lobsters missing one claw and they are always cheap. we actually learned this tip from seth's high school buddy, damian, who is a lobster fisherman on cape cod. the culls cost $3.50/lb and we got 3. plus a six-pack of geary's hampshire special ale and it cost us a grand total of $21.66! for a lobster dinner, people! and we each got a tail and a half, which is truly the sweetest meat of the lobster. we just steamed those buggers up and made a nice tossed salad. free range fish and lobster was unfortunately out of bread so we went without but we did melt a little cabot butter to dredge our lobster meat in. delicious!

first musings

i have been thinking about starting my own blog for some time. basically what i have decided is that i complain a lot and no one person wants to hear all my complaining. so why not write my complainings down here. really i think my partner, seth, might leave me if i keep at him. so in a way this is kind of like therapy. yeah if i don't have insurance and can't pay for therapy then i will use as an outlet. it will be cathartic.
in truth i once had a blog before. seth and i started a food blog. but it was doomed from the start. seth started it for us just as i was starting grad school. so i didn't really have much time for writing. and when he was entering the title of the blog he missed spelled foodie. so our blog was entitled 'sethandjennersfooieblog'. FOOIE! whatever happened to proofreading! i wrote a few posts about things we had made or restaurants where we had dined but it petered out after only about two months. seth never wrote a post.