More Eating in Berlin

My continuing tale of food. It’s a good thing we walked alot.

The rest of the week in Berlin was a flurry of lunches, dinners and simple breakfasts. The best morning coffee and pastry was at Zeit für Brot. This bakery, with great coffee and seating, was a half a block away. If you didn’t get there early you had to join the line that snaked out the door and into the street. This was true on the Sunday we were there.

Pastry counter at Zeit fur Brot

For our other meals we did very little planning. The only time we ever made a reservation was on our last night together. For lunches, we just looked around at what was available in the area. There was never a lack of choices. The only time we were restricted to one choice was the day we did a day trip to Potsdam. Potsdam is the home of the Sanssouci, which was the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

part of Sanssouci Palace

The closest eatery was a short walk from the palace. Our other choice was to get the bus and go back into Potsdam but this place looked very promising. It was The Drachenhaus (Dragon House). There are a total of 16 dragons on the corners of the roofs.It was built by King Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1772 for the winegrowers of the area to inhabit but they never did. Since 1934 it has served as a restaurant. Beautiful dining rooms inside and wonderful outdoor terraces. Since it was sunny and in the 70’s we chose al fresco.The service proved to be very slow but the weather was beautiful and we really didn’t need to be anywhere so if they didn’t want to turn the table we were fine. For an out-of-the-way place the food was fresh and beautiful. Everything came with baguettes but curiously no butter unless you asked. We found that true in all of the restaurants in Berlin. On the right below was my lunch. This was Roasted Chicken Breast, Pickled Vegetables, Mango Chutney and a Salad Bouquet. Yes, there were flowers in the salad. Curt had Seawater King Prawns in Herbal Sauce, Salad and three dips: mango chili, aioli horseradish and sweet mustard. Both were excellent.Our friends had some wonderful dishes as well with equally long names. On the left Kenn had Euro Prussian Soup with Marinated Leeks. His salad was described as Salad Leaves of the Season with Lots of Healthy Stuff (That’s the German translation). As close as I can tell the other dish was Chicken with White Wine Risotto & Caponata.

Once we were back in our neighborhood, we stopped for coffee. We did this often after a long day. Here is one such stop. I must say, the Germans do coffee quite well. But sometimes instead of coffee we would stop for a beer, the Germans do beer equally well.We wanted to make our final dinner in Berlin special and through an accidental circumstance it was. The night before we decided to go to Gugelhof. This is a restaurant made popular in 2000 when President Bill Clinton and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had dinner there together. Once we arrived we were told they only took reservations, no walk-ins. So we reserved our table for Sunday evening, our last time together in Berlin. When we arrived the following evening we had the choice of outdoor or indoor dining. The weather was mild but the inside had a warm glow and a cozy atmosphere so inside we went. Our waiter was a wonderful young man who knew a lot about the wine choices and answered all our questions about the food. Gugelhof features Alsatian and Southern German dishes. The lighting in the restaurant was low so I apologize for my rosy photographs. We began with appetizers. Below, Curt’s Creme Brulee of Duck Liver and my Alsatian Onion Soup w/ a Cheese Crouton. Similar choices for others except Michael had the Escargot.For our mains we chose Rosti dishes which when described we realized were potato pancakes. Mine was Rosti with a Veal Ragout in Zurich Style Cream. I really don’t know what that means but it was very good. Curt had Rosti au Gratin (Raclette cheese which is Swiss-like), Black Forest Ham and Salad. We knew Kenn (Mr. Duck Tongues and Chicken Feet) was going to have the pig knuckle and we were right, Crispy Knuckle of Suckling Pig in Black Beer Sauce w/ Sauerkraut Dumplings. Pam was hoping for the Beef Burgundy ( which they were out of!) but went with the Coq au Vin. The pork was a success but the chicken was not as flavorful as she had hoped.But taken all together it was a wonderful. A fitting meal for the old “Gourmet group.” Now here is the kicker to this story. When they brought the bill Pam inquired if she could purchase a tureen like the one her Coq au Vin came in (It also had a lid). Yes, was the answer, 20 Euros. Such a deal and what a great souvenir! Her carry-on just became a lot heavier.

Guten Appetit!

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Eating Asian in Berlin

If you are new to this blog you will soon find out that we are “foodies”. My husband especially loves to cook and experiment with recipes. We enjoy eating out and we were part of a long-standing “Gourmet” (too pretentious), rather “Foodie” Group. This group goes back 30 years. We had a bit of an intermission when one couple moved to Bellingham, Washington but we all kept cooking and enjoying food with other friends. However this month the stars aligned and the original eaters got together in, wait for it….Berlin, Germany. There we spent a week of being tourists: walking, laughing, discussing and EATING! This will be the first of two posts about our restaurant adventures in Berlin.

While in Berlin we stayed at Flower’s Boardinghouse in the Mitte section of Berlin. This area is the most central borough of Berlin and comprises former West and East Berlin districts. It is the historic core. It seems to be an up and coming area with lots of young people moving in and…a lot of restaurants. Most notably in our area, a lot of Asian restaurants. In just a 5 block area I counted eight so how could we not enjoy the local cuisine.

Our first night we all decided to just go a half a block from our apartment to Monsieur Vuong. Beautiful, warm, great colors and gorgeous Japanese Maples around the outdoor seating area. We fortunately were seated right away since we were a party of six and the parties ahead of us were all twos. At that moment they only had a large table open.

Monsieur Vuong

Once seated our waitress came right up with menus. We put in our drink order and started to check out the dishes. The group started out with two orders each of Satay and Crispy Spring Rolls for our appetizers. We also ordered the appetizer special which was an eggplant dish.

Monsiuer Vuong prides itself with changing up its menu nightly so I can’t promise that anything we had would be on the menu next week. But what we had was good. They was lots of Pho and some great looking salads for the mains.

Beef Pho, Chicken and Vegetables, Won-Ton Pho

I had the Won-Ton Pho and it was excellent. One of our party had the vegetable and chicken dish. Very fresh and very good was the verdict. If we had more time in Berlin we would have returned to Monsiuer Vuong but we had too many other places to try.

For breakfasts we were pretty much on our own. Some mornings we just grabbed coffee and a croissant in the lobby of the boardinghouse. One morning Curt and I went across the street to Qua Phe for breakfast. This Vietnamese restaurant had a nice selection of Bao. Bao are steamed buns that usually have some sort of filling. I chose a bao studded with chocolate bits but Curt went savory for his and had a Bao with shredded pork and vegetables. Add Vietnamese coffee and a latte and we were happy.

Chocolate Bao, Coffees, Shredded Pork Bao

Our final Asian restaurant was also Vietnamese. This was District Mot: Saigon Street Food. The restaurant is literally out in the street. They set up tents, picnic tables, run electrical cords everywhere for the lighting  and heaters and there you are. If you have to go to the bathroom the actual storefront is across the road. In there was a table or two, a cash register, a kitchen and a long dark staircase down to the bathrooms.

District Mot

Billed as Saigon Street Food this place had a lot of dishes, many quite unusual. My husband is a very adventurous eater and Kenn, one of our friends, is also; so the two of them had a great time ordering Duck tongues and Chicken feet.

Yum, duck tongues!

The rest of us ordered baos, spring rolls and chicken legs. These all were very much like tapas, a lot of dishes that we shared around the table. The guys pretty much had the feet and tongues to themselves.

From upper left clockwise: Sweet & Spicy Squid, Green Mango Salad w/ Rice Crisps, BBQ Chicken legs, Chicken Feet.

We asked the waiter if Chicken Feet got ordered very much, maybe twice a week…mostly tourists (mostly crazy tourists as far as I’m concerned). All in all, the food was fun, the beer was good and the company great. Let me leave you with Curt “enjoying” chicken feet. He said they were a bit tough.

What Makes a Great Brunch?

Thursday evening we hosted a casual dinner for friends. Chicken wings, baked beans, potato salad… we opted for Kofta instead of burgers and we added a Tabbouleh just because we could. It was a reunion of friends who had not been together for a while so when the evening ended, Barbara said, “If everyone is free on Friday why don’t we continue all this conversation over brunch? I’ve got some eggs and bacon, and I think there is some fruit in the fridge.” This worked for us and our out-of-towners didn’t have any obligations till that evening. We volunteered to pick up some cinnamon bread and so it was set.

When we arrived the next morning the wonderful aroma of bacon greeted us. But that was only a hint of the delightful meal awaiting us. When my friend said she had some eggs, I was expecting some scrambled eggs but instead we had a wonderful Egg Bake.

Egg Bake a la Barbara

Then there was the fabulous oven-fried potatoes (white and sweets), bacon and fruit. The Raisin, Walnut, Cinnamon bread we brought fit right in and it tasted great with the Cloudberry Preserves from our Bellingham friends.

White and Sweet potatoes

BACON!!

Strawberries, oranges …sorry, this was taken before the blueberries were added.

Raisin, Walnut, Cinnamon Bread from Uncle Mike’s Bakery

Cloudberry Preserves

This was  accompanied by coffee. The food was all wonderful but you know what really makes a great brunch? The people you share it with. Here we are in deep conversation about the issues of the day or maybe it was just a discussion about the latest Scandinavian Noir mystery series we watched on Netflix?

The Brunch Bunch minus the photographer.

Below is the recipe for the Egg Bake. So simple yet sooo good.

Egg Bake a la Barbara (feeds 6 – 8 hungry people)

11 large eggs
1 cup milk ( 2% is fine)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Cups White Sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

•  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish ( about 2″ deep)
•  Whisk together the eggs, milk, S&P, and Cayenne till smooth, then whisk in the
cheese
•  Pour mixture into baking dish. Bake until puffed and golden, and the eggs are set.
Check at 20 minutes. Time seems to vary 20-25 minutes.

A very versatile recipe. You can try it with fresh herbs or different cheeses. Makes a great presentation for your guests if you can time it to come out of the oven just before everyone is seated.

 

Plan in Place, Dinner Party in Action

Dessert cakes were done the day before. Morning of dinner, butterscotch sauce was made. Corn soup with Indian spices finished before noon. Brioche pudding in oven.

By 1:00 PM we had a strong start on what would be five courses. Guests were due in five hours.

I am sorry to say actual pictures will be few since we got so caught up in cooking and greeting and serving that the camera was forgotten. So I will use some pictures from the cookbooks. Our food looked exactly the same (smile).

The appetizers are pretty self-explanatory. Suffice to say once we decided on the Chicken Livers with Sherry Glaze we found a ton of recipes on the web. It was more common than we thought. So just Google it. Once guests arrived we quick grilled them and the Pears and Prosciutto.

Dinner began with Corn Soup w/ Indian Spices from David Tanis Market Cooking. The spices included garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, black mustard seed and cayenne. It had a wonderful tang over the creamy corn flavor. It may be the first time we’ve done a soup puree but it turned out quite nice. A tablespoon of whole milk yogurt and some chives topped it off. The yogurt in the photo seems to have cayenne in it.

photo from David Tanis Market Cooking

The Fennel, Radish and Mushroom Salad was from the same book. The lemon/olive oil dressing had been made ahead and the vegetables were all cut so it was any easy job to combine, plate and serve. We used watermelon radishes which looked so nice with the pale fennel and mushrooms.The main course was from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Nopi. The original recipe was Chicken Supremes with Roasted Garlic and Tarragon Brioche Pudding. We substituted duck breast. Because the brioche pudding is so different from anything we have made before I am including the recipe here. If our guests read this I think the ingredients may surprise them. It is very rich.

Tarragon Brioche Pudding

2 heads garlic
1/4 C olive oil
4 eggs
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp grd cinnamon
1/2 oz. finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
14 oz. crustless brioche loaf, trimmed and cut into slices
Sea salt and Black pepper

Cut off the tops of the garlic cloves, place on a square of foil. Drizzle w/ 2 Tbls olive oil, sprinkle w/ salt, wrap up the bundle and roast for 35 minutes. Once done and cool to the touch, squeeze out the insides of the garlic and crush to a fine paste.

Place the eggs in a bowl and whisk. Add cream, nutmeg, cinnamon and tarragon with 1 tsp salt and a grind of pepper. Put aside.

Lightly grease a 9″ x 4″ loaf plan with butter and line with parchment paper. Brush a bit more butter on the paper then layer the bottom with brioche bread. Spread half of the garlic puree on top and pour over a third of the cream mixture. Another layer of bread, pushed down so it gets soaked in the cream. Then spread the rest of the garlic, pour another third of the cream and top with the last layer of bread. Finish with the remainder of the cream. Lightly press down and set aside for 30 minutes.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Should be brown on top and a knife inserted should come out clean. Once it is cooled and removed from pan it looks like this.Cut off the end edges and slice into six pieces. Just before serving, fry the slices in a bit of olive oil over a medium heat. Here is what it looks like when served with the duck and the peas & tarragon au jus.

Brioche Pudding: photo from Nopi by Yotam Ottolenghi

It was yummy but alas the recipe serves six so there were no leftovers.

After some time of talk and laughter and wine we served dessert which was described as Sticky Toffee Puddings but in reality looked like little cupcakes with butterscotch sauce and whipped cream on top. They didn’t look great but tasted good.

So with thoughts of an early Spring I had daffodils and green napkins and a floral runner on the table. (My hopes were high but as I write this, two days later, rain turning to sleet and ice is carrying on outside.) It doesn’t matter the dinner was a success.

Afterward: It only took us till noon the next day to clean up. But being exhausted we did sleep in a bit. However it is always a high doing it and we hope your next gathering is as fun. Bon Appétit!

Dinner Party Prep or A Month of “How about this?”

We are planning a dinner party. Yes, we have done it before, many times, but it is always the same craziness and seemingly endless decision-making. The problem lies in the attitude of the two hosts. Me, who wants everything decided and organized at least a week (2 weeks would be ideal) before guests arrive and He, who says we have a whole week yet before guests arrive. Now you may think that this is because He doesn’t do the actual cooking but He is the main Chef. I’m the time, date, invitations, house cleaning, table setting and dessert person. In other words, Management.

All of this starts at least a month before the actual event. Once we settle on who we wish to invite, the dance of dates begins. We are retired but not everyone we invite is retired and everyone, whether retired or not, has a million other things they are involved in. So at least 6 dates are emailed out to guests before an actual invitation is sent and, fingers crossed, at least one works. That is the easy part. Now, what to serve?

We do a lot of talking and suggesting and mulling but finally a day comes when the cookbooks come out and a decision on the main course must be made. Once an agreement is reached, another afternoon is needed for h’ordeuvres, salad or soup or both and dessert. This time I got things started by suggesting a chicken dish we had a couple of months ago but neither of us really could remember where it came from so I just started going through some books and marking other possibilities. Most of my suggestions get rejected…but he doing the cooking so that’s OKAY, at least we’ve started looking. However this usually gets him to mark a variety of dishes and together we whittle this down to the MAIN. This time Yotem Ottolenghi’s cookbook Nopi, was the winner. (that’s it on top of the post). A day later He called an audible and substituted duck for the chicken.

NOPI -Yotem Ottolenghi

I had already found a dessert, like three weeks ago, so we were set there. He rarely questions the dessert choice and even after throwing out a few other ideas we both went back to my original dessert. This came from the Fall 2017 issue of Sift magazine.

After a lot of dancing around other course ideas for awhile, yesterday, a week before the dinner, the cookbooks came out and decisions were made.Even Martha was consulted, but she didn’t make the cut.The winners eventually were NOPI: main, DAVID TANIS MARKET COOKING: soup, PLENTY: salad, SIFT: dessert and a surprise entry, Mallmann ON FIRE: appetizer. Francis Mallmann is a culinary pyromaniac from South America. We will modify his recipe since he usually specializes in large portions.

pears and prosciutto

So now the store list gets made, I start attacking the house clutter, tableware is chosen and a plan of action for cooking day is developed. Hey, we’ve got a whole week. Ultimately it is all about food and friends and we enjoy every minute.

PS: Post dinner I will write about our successes and near misses.

Institutional Food #2 – The Rehab Facility

So I was discharged from the hospital at 11:00 am and got to the Rehab Facility around 11:30. Got checked in and installed in my room by 12:30 pm. I know someone asked me if I had eaten and something was brought to me but that is lost in the mists. Probably because dinner that evening was very memorable, a Pizza Burger.

Now before I go any farther I have to explain the meal situation at this place. It is an  Assisted Living and Rehabilitation Facility. That means there are short-timers in rehab, like me, and there are long-timers or people who actually live here. We are separated into two wings but we can intermingle. I could have gone over to the other side for Bingo and a Packer Party on Sunday but I passed. Long-timers are mostly elderly seniors (Hey! who you looking at?) and as a group they mostly want their noon meal to be the main meal (what I call dinner) and their evening meal light ( what I would call lunch). They outnumber us so that’s how the meals are served. This will all make sense later.

Now, the Pizza Burger. As in the hospital you get a little menu ticket. On it are usually two choices for a main and then a bunch of sides. You can circle everything if you want. I think one of the choices that night was fish so I went with the Pizza Burger, on my Certified Nursing Assistant’s (CNA) recommendation. Later, I had to remind myself that I really didn’t know anything about their taste in food so recommendations were a crap shoot.

Pizza Burger

Pizza Burger

My dinner included a very soft bun, a beef patty covered in Marinara sauce and a few bits of cheese, a bag of chips and yellow jello w/ cool whip top. But that’s not all that made this a PIZZA burger. When I bit into it, surprise! it was stuffed with mozzarella. The cole slaw was good.

After getting pancake/sausage bites one morning for breakfast, I decided to stick with cereal, raisin bran, because I needed to stay ‘regular’. However this place is the same as the hospital, that is, make sure you ask for everything. If you don’t circle milk, you’ll eat your cereal dry. And the raisins are usually dumped in a pile in the middle. So I would break up the clump and get some milk and it was a good breakfast.

Sausage/pancake bites are soggy pancakes around breakfast sausage with some syrup for dip. A three year old would love them.

Sausage/pancake bites are soggy pancakes around breakfast sausage with some syrup for dip. A three-year old would love them.

Remember my explanation of lunch vs dinner servings? This is what I mean.

Meatloaf, Turkey and Swedish Meatballs

Meatloaf, Turkey and Swedish Meatballs

These were usually pretty good but whoa, that’s a lot of food for lunch. Each had a dessert and beverage as well. Veggies could have been crisper but I don’t think they were from a can. Then there was dinner.

Billed as chicken salad (left) and potpie on a bisquit (right)

Billed as chicken salad (left) and potpie on a biscuit (right)

On the menu it said chicken salad on tomato slices. I love chicken salad but an ice cream scoop of salad on one little tomato slice was pretty disappointing. Potpie on a biscuit was also a controlled serving. More like chicken a la king. It was fine but I wanted more! And come on folks! It was September. Our garden and our local Farmer’s Market still had really good tomatoes coming in. So did the grocery stores. Where are the people at this facility forced to shop? Here’s what I mean. One night a BLT was on the menu. Well can anyone resist a bacon sandwich, with a red ripe tomato and crispy lettuce on toasted bread? Sorry. This just didn’t come close.bbllttFortunately when I got home my Sweetie made me a BLT worthy of the name.

Finally, did you recall that tossed salad I praised in my hospital food post? When I saw tossed salad on my Rehab menu I thought oh yes! that will make up for any sins of limp bread, pink tomatoes or fruit cocktail. However, one tossed salad is not like another.

1. Actually different items to toss 2. iceberg lettuce.

1. Actually different items to toss (hospital) 2. Iceberg lettuce (rehab)

Oh well. I don’t mean to diss the food service at rehab too badly. The food came pretty promptly, I had choices and except for a few missteps, it was all edible, sometimes pretty tasty. However the whole time I was there I kept clicking my heels and repeating, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Picadillo Alfredo

Warning! This is an experiment.

The NY Times recently published a recipe by Sam Sifton for Picadillo which he calls the ultimate Cuban comfort food.  Picadillo is a sort of sloppy-Joe kind of stew made from ground meat (picadillo means mince), tomatoes, raisins, olives and liberally seasoned with cinnamon, cumin and other warm spices.  To my taste, it sounds like a Persian inflected dish (who often combine meat, fruit and spices) via Spain (remember, that Arabs held sway in the Iberian peninsula for nearly 700 years).  Mr. Sifton suggests serving it with rice.  OK, but I couldn’t quite get my head around picadillo as a stew.

Recently Jeanne made spinach enchiladas which were quite tasty.  Her enchiladas prompted me to think of picadillo as a stand in for the filling of an enchilada-like presentation.  Of course, I couldn’t follow the typical enchilada routine by covering the filled tortillas with a tomato and chili sauce as the picadillo has plenty of tomatoes in it already.  So, why not invert the order of things?  Enchiladas often have cheese in the filling so why not put the cheese on the outside.  But I didn’t want to just bury the tortillas in shredded cheese.  How about something creamier?  I’ve got it – Alfredo sauce!  I know, it’s not Cuban.  It’s not even Latino.  But it creamy cheesy good.  And you can buy it in a jar, ready to go.

For the picadillo I followed the NY Times recipe to a “T”, just cutting it in half to accommodate our more limited table (and so as to not have too much left over in case my experiment was a bust).

Ingredients.1

Ingredients (see NY Times recipe for complete list)

Minced garlic, diced Chorizo and chopped onion

Minced garlic, diced chorizo and chopped onion

Beef, tomatoes, onions, chorizo, garlic and seasonings saute away

Beef, tomatoes, onions, chorizo, garlic, raisins, olives and seasonings saute away

Fill tortillas with a geneous 1/4 cup of picadillo mixture

Fill tortillas with a geneous 1/4 cup of picadillo mixture

Put rolled, filled tortillas in a baking dish with a thin layer of Alfredo sauce underneath and a generous layer over the top

Put rolled, filled tortillas in a baking dish with a thin layer of Alfredo sauce underneath and a generous layer over the top

Sprinkle a light layer of grated cheese (I used a Mexican blend but cheddar would be fine).  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350˚ F. for about 30 minutes or untll the Alfredo sauce is bubbly and lightly browned.

Not pretty but pretty tasty. A little garnish would have been in order but I forgot to take this picture until I was on my second Picadillo Alfredo.

Not pretty but pretty tasty. A little garnish would have been in order but I forgot to take this picture until I was on my second Picadillo Alfredo.

Not much to look at but pretty yummy.  I think the picadillo mixture could serve other purposes – maybe an Cuban sloppy-joe?

Oysters on Chuckanut

view3Oysters on Chuckanut?  Is that a variation on the famous hors-d’oeuvre, Angels on Horseback?  Or, maybe some obscure British pub savory like Toad in the Hole.  Or, possibly a dessert even more obscure than Spotted Dick?

More precisely, it’s The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive in Bow, Washington where we had more great food, more great views and more time with friends. But first, a bit about The Oyster Bar because I did a little homework.

During the Great Depression, the Rockpoint Oyster Company built an oyster shack between a cliff and Washington State’s first scenic highway, Chuckanut Drive. Here, oysters were sold by the plant manager, Mr. Maekawa, to the travelers that passed by. The little stand did so well a lunch counter was added and the Rockpoint Oyster Restaurant was born. But Maekawa’s family was interned during World War II and the restaurant sat empty from 1942-1946.

When Otto Amos bought the restaurant in 1946 his wife renamed it the Oyster Bar and they coined the slogan “The oysters that we serve today slept last night in Samish Bay.” The menu consisted of deep fried oysters and a ham dish. It was sold in 1954, major renovations were made, and the menu now included prawns, scallops, fish and chips and clam chowder.oldoyster barSince 1970 it has been bought and sold a couple of times and given a makeover in structure, the menu and the wine selections.

The Oyster Bar (2015)

The Oyster Bar (2015)

We were introduced to The Oyster Bar about 5 years ago when we were visiting our friends, Pam and Kenn, in Bellingham. As an afternoon diversion with our Green Bay foodie friends, Barb and Micheal, they suggested that we take a drive down Chuckanut Drive and have lunch at The Oyster Bar.  Well, the drive was spectacular, in part because of the view of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands; in part, because of the breath-taking, sometimes white knuckle, curving road; and, in part, because of the precipitous, densely forested rise on the inland side and an equally precipitous and attention getting drop-off on the Bay side of the road.  About halfway between Fairhaven and Bow, The Oyster Bar is delicately perched on a steep cliff at a wide spot in the road with barely enough room to park a car between the roadway and the restaurant.

On this trip, because it is one of her favorite restaurants, Pam made reservations for all of us to go there for dinner. Once inside the restaurant you feel like you’re dining in a tree house because the view out the windows is nothing but trees and bay.  Here is a peek of the view from our table, that’s our friend Kenn in the corner enjoying the evening.

View from The Oyster Bar

View from The Oyster Bar

Once we pulled ourselves away from the view, we concentrated on the menu. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and steered us to a nice German Reisling to start things off. Not to dry, not too sweet. Something for every taste at the table.

A German Reisling

This was followed by appetizers all around.

row 1: crab cakes, gravlax row 2: raw oysters, mixed seasonal greens

row 1: crab cakes, gravlax
row 2: raw oysters, mixed seasonal greens

Curt, of course, had the oysters which he thoroughly enjoyed.  The high point of the oyster presentation was that little cup of a hard cider mignonette granita.  It was so refreshing and unexpected that, even though he normally takes his shellfish au naturale, he actually added some of the mignonette to his oysters this time.  I thought the salad, a combination of greens, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, red onions, gala apples, red grapes and a maple cider viniagrette, was fabulous. The gravlax disappointed. The salmon was very good but there was just too much goat cheese which overpowered the fish and most of which went uneaten. More on the crab cakes later.

After much laughter and talk and more wine being ordering, our entrees arrived. First up, Fresh Alaskan Halibut.

Halibut

Halibut

Pam and Barbara ordered this dish and found it delicate and perfectly cooked. The braised rhubarb and rosemary gastrique on top was a special addition. Going around the table, Kenn was next with Steak and Maine Lobster Tail.

Surf & Turf a la The Oyster Bar

Surf & Turf a la The Oyster Bar

I thought the presentation was interesting. This little tower didn’t last long once Kenn started to eat. I am not sure of the topping. From the picture it looks like pine nuts and maybe onion?

Michael ordered the special, Rockfish.

Rockfish

Rockfish

He described it as a very firm fleshed fish. As you can see by this picture and others, the vegetable of the evening was small new potatoes, steamed carrot, brussel sprouts and squash. Each entree also came with a starter of watermelon sorbet and a cheese souffle, see it up there above the rockfish?

Curt was next with, what else…the Fresh Local Oyster Fry!fried oysters?Not as pretty as the other dishes but he said they were great. They had a crispy parmesan breadcrumb crust and the dipping sauce was a creamy sour apple aoili.

Lastly, I had the Oyster Bar Crab Cakes ( from the entree menu). crabcakesPretty much the same as the appetizer, but a little bigger: Dungeness crab, Jonah crab, celery and onion cakes with a mango chutney. The chutney was a nice sweet addition along with the curried aoili.  And of course the vegetables of the day.

So if you are in Washington State, up near Bellingham, and someone says, “Let’s have oysters on Chuckanut”, run, don’t walk, to The Oyster Bar. Make sure you have good friends with you.

Uncovering a Hidden Gem: The Creamery

We think we have found a gem.  A little cafe that is becoming a favorite.  A restaurant that offers a limited but interesting, even ambitious, menu.

The local restaurant I refer to is The Creamery, a breakfast/lunch only cafe, which is kind of hidden in the outskirts of De Pere, Wisconsin.

The Creamery, 2200 Dickinson Rd., DePere, WI 54115

The Creamery, 2200 Dickinson Rd., De Pere, WI 54115

I originally discovered it from the restaurant column in our local newspaper. It sounded interesting and since I had a doctor’s appointment one morning, very nearby, I thought I would drop in for breakfast. Inside I found about 4 -5 tables for four, a row of small tables for two in mini-booth like seating and a counter. Above the counter on the back wall was a blackboard with the special of the day and other information.insidecreamThe menu has an interesting combination of breakfast and lunch offerings but no restrictions on when you order either one. There is also a nice list of coffees and teas. I ordered a BPFT, Bread Pudding French Toast. It came with toasted hazelnut cream and organic honey.  It was very different and really good but since this was my first visit I wasn’t thinking of blogging so sorry, no picture.  But I came back with Curt for lunch twice and then twice again with friends. Finally on the 2nd visit with our friends I took pictures and here are some of the highlights. We arrived around 10:30 am so it was a brunch for us. Michael had the special called Saddle Up. They do have some cute titles for a few of their dishes like Mac Daddy Cheese and Kluckin’ Russian. However the Saddle Up wasn’t cute at all, it was quite fine.

Saddle Up

Saddle Up

Served in a cast iron frying pan, it was composed of lamb chops (choice of one or two), asparagus, an egg cooked to your choice, Oregon herb toast and a side salad of spinach, tomato and red onion. A vinaigrette dressing on the side. Michael cleaned his plate.

Barbara chose the Potato Omelet: prosciutto, Swiss, Parmesan, hash browns and whole wheat toast. It was huge, beautiful and enough for two. The hash browns were wrapped around the eggs with the cheese inside. If you want to share, this is the perfect dish or, take half home for your dinner. Barbara had to get a carry-out container.

Potato Omelet

Potato Omelet

I had the Blueberry Blintzes (filled with ricotta and topped with blueberries and blueberry syrup). Three were one too many for me (however I ate all three) and they were good but not as good as the Bread Pudding French Toast I had the first time.These would make a delightful dessert.

Blueberry Blintzes

Blueberry Blintzes

Curt has a few favorites but the restaurant rotates new items in and retires ones that maybe aren’t selling well or are very seasonal. His favorites seem to be the ones rotated out so since one of his favs was not available he went with a new choice, Pomme Frites Carne. I’ll let him tell you about it.

Pomme Frites Carne

Pomme Frites Carne

I have to admit that when my order arrived, I was a bit disappointed.  I had miss-read the menu and did not realize I would get french fries – yes, I know what pomme frites are, but I had something else in my head given that the menu description says julienned potatoes. And, frankly, the carne part looked a bit like dog’s lunch.  It’s actually chunks of bulk sausage and bacon in a “creamy gravy”.  Again, the description didn’t quite match the plate.  But, and here’s the best part,

IT WAS ALL DELICIOUS!

The fries were great.  The spinach was an unexpected but very welcome addition.  The pale looking glop of meat and gravy was actually generous chunks of savory sausage and nice sized pieces of Nueske’s bacon in a cream sauce. Based on appearance I had expected something more like the pasty Southern-style gravy usually served with sausage and biscuits but this was a much lighter and tastier true cream sauce. Yummy!

Will we return? Definitely. The owners have announced that they will be opening another location in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin which will also have dinner selections. We can’t wait.

Eating while Katy Perry Sings

wings2Well yesterday was the big game, the whole enchilada, the big Lebowski….yes, the Superbowl. Up here in Green Bay, we weren’t too excited about the actual game. How could we choose between the evil empire from New England or the ospreys from Seattle (who, by the way, beat our team in the playoffs)?  But the Superbowl is also a big reason to eat some good food and we didn’t want to skip that part of the day. So we reminded ourselves that the Superbowl wasn’t just a game, it had, hopefully, new and interesting commercials and a musical halftime, which turned out to be worthy of the opening of the Olympics. Certainly enough entertainment to eat along with.

We started early with a fine lunch. There was leftover chicken from Saturday so after making some broth from the carcass Curt put together a couple of bowls of noodle soup.

Noodle soup a la Curt

Noodle soup a la Curt

Chinese egg noodles, green onions, chicken, radishes, cilantro sprouts and a dollop of fermented soybean paste on the top. It was great. So let’s call this our nod to the West coast team. This looks more like a Seattle dish than a Boston dish.

About two hours after lunch was done chili preparation commenced.

chilispMeat needed to be cut up and spices gathered: cumin, ancho chili pepper, paprika, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, guajillo. Once all of those ingredients and the beans and the onions were in the pot it was time for the chicken wings. We have a deep fryer but frankly it is kind of a mess and a big deal to use it for just two people. Also the less deep fat frying in our diet, the better. These wings were oven baked.

Wings right out of the oven

Wings right out of the oven

A day ahead, they were prepped. For every pound of wings mix together 3/4 tsp of baking powder and 3/4 tsp of salt. Put the wings into this dry mix and toss till they are thoroughly coated. Lay them on a rack on a cookie sheet, uncovered, and refrigerate overnight.  To get a crispy skin you want the wing’s skin to dry out.

About an hour before you want to eat, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Bake the wings for 20 minutes.

Turn the wings and bake for an additional 15 – 25 minutes depending on the size of the wings.

Take out and toss with your favorite coating. We divided ours in half. Half plain, half coated with a mixture of Kikkoman Thai Chili Paste, vinegar, Major Grey’s Chutney and Frank’s Original hot cayenne pepper sauce.

These turned out great and around 5:30pm they were ready. Oh yes, and kickoff happened at 5:30pm too. While the game proceeded we filled up our plates, then sat down to eat during the first bunch of commercials. The Brady Bunch/Snickers ad was the best of that group. Back to football…time to get more wings and wine. This was the pattern till all the wings were gone.

Around halftime Curt heated up the chili that was prepared earlier. This would be our nod to Boston. While Katy Perry rode in on a tiger puppet we filled our bowls, topped them with a tablespoon of sour cream and added a corn cookie on the side. By the time Katy was in her beach togs dancing with sharks we were ready to eat. chiliAfter chili we watched some football till the next episode of Downton Abbey started on another channel. Bye football. Mellowing out with another glass of wine (Curt had a beer), we watched our favorite English upper class family. Once it was done we even had time to see the final interception of the big game. Yes, the evil empire won but seeing the shocked expressions on the osprey’s faces made it all worth it.