27 August 2008

In Vino Veritas (and Susan is older)

In vino veritas. In wine there is truth. Historically, they say that means that a little wine makes you talk a lot. Well, even in the 21st century, that seems to hold true.

There is a new wine tasting room in Dallas called Veritas, and recently a good friend of ours celebrated her birthday there. (As a courtesy to Susan, I will not mention that it was her 38th.)

The "tasting room", a long, narrow spot with ample comfortable seating, a large bar, and a jumbo communal eating table, proved to be a great venue for such a monumental occasion. And Susan's birthday party. Our neighbor and Susan's fellow Junior Leaguer, Robin, coordinated the soiree, and everything worked out seamlessly.

As guests arrived, we were invited to order by the glass or the bottle at the bar. Veritas has a gigantic global selection of varied varietals, so there is something for everyone. If you order a bottle, the happy helpers will store your stash behind the bar at the perfect temperature, and when you're ready for a recharge, you just approach the bar; if they don't remember your name (but they do more often than not) they will forgivingly ask. Buy in advance, and enjoy the night -- what a great idea!

Veritas offers plates of local cheeses, and they promise that the menu of local lusciousness will grow as the bar continues to mature. And don't be surprised to see them mature quickly -- the crowd was great as the night grew late.

In vino veritas, indeed. By the end of our evening, we all were speaking their truth, too.

21 August 2008

An Unlikely Venue

One of my best friends and I went out this evening for a movie at the Studio Movie Grill, a fairly new chain of theaters taking over dallas that offers cocktails and bar food while you enjoy your favorite first-run flick. (Think Engligh pub with a movie.) We saw "Mamma Mia", but that's not the point here.

The venue is FUN, the food is better than adequate, service is prompt, and the price is good. And service is as simple as pushing the call button to which you are assigned upon check-in -- much like the stewardess call button on a commercial flight. The two of us got out for under $50, which is great (at least in Dallas) for theater admission for 2, plus adult beverages and food for each.

Check 'em out!

(I am neither employed nor paid by them in any way. I just like goin'!)

06 August 2008

Swimming Up a Different Stream

Last Saturday, I decided it was time to Egg some fish. (If you are not yet familiar with The Big Green Egg, see my "Greg's Egg" posting from July, 2008.) I've seared salmon and coaled catfish on the Egg before, but this time I wanted to swim up a different stream and try something new. As luck would have it, our local deluxe (and you know it's nice when deluxe has the E on the end) market had rainbow trout on special. But wait! As an added bonus, if you buy today and spend more than $15 on fish, you'll get a reusable deluxe (there's that E again) insulated tote bag in which to transport your daily catch home! How could I refuse?

I returned home, trout in hand (That's for you, John W.! www.troutinhand.com), and planned the rest of the dinner. Everyone loves asparagus, and it pairs nicely with fish, so I asked our friend, Jacque, to bring and prepare that. (We frequently do communal dinners.) Our friend, Helen Mar, had brought us some small bell peppers from her farm in east Texas, so I wanted to incorporate those somehow. I wanted to stuff them, but since the predictable meat-and-rice filling would not be appropriate with this meal, I decided to use quinoa (KEEN-wah). Quinoa is a seed, but it looks and acts a lot like couscous. It doesn't do much by itself, but when you add stuff to it or vice versa, it makes a nice hearty side dish.

Here's the line-up for our summer southern supper:

Egged Rainbow Trout

1 1/2 pounds rainbow trout fillets
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried dill

Arrange fillets skin side down on a sheet of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle evenly with seasonings. Egg at 350F for about 10 minutes. The skin will stick to the foil. That's a good thing. Use a spatula to loosen the meat from the skin, and serve.

Peel the skin from the foil for the dog.

Quinoa-Stuffed Capsicum

4 small-to-medium bell peppers
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Remove the tops from the peppers. Remove seeds and ribs. Boil for 4-6 minutes, until they start to turn soft. If you think they are done, then they are too done; take the out of the water before that. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Heat oven to 350F. Toast the quinoa in an iron skillet for 6-8 minutes. The seeds will start popping like mini-popcorn kernels. Use a splatter screen if necessary. At the same time, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Add the toasted quinoa. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the seeds have absorbed the broth. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Toss the quinoa with the Parmesan and any extra seasonings you like. I added some Italian seasoning. Use a teaspoon to fill each pepper with the Parmesan quinoa, packing it in lightly. Top with some extra Parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then broil to brown the Parmesan on top.

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

1 pound asparagus
1/2 cup Parmesan (see a trend here?)

This is so simple and delicious, you'll wonder why you haven't done this before. Thanks, Jacque!

Trim the ends off the asparagus. Arrange on parchment paper on a half-sheet pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Like the bell peppers above, if you think it's done, it's over-done.

This is good an any temperature, so it would travel well to a picnic.

Recipes always look more difficult in print to me. All three of these are simple, savory, and scrumptuous.