Olivia Dish

Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dessert Donuts

In California, Dallas, Restaurant, Sweets, Taste Tests on September 23, 2009 at 9:09 pm
Rustic Canyon donuts

Donuts at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

Hold onto your canned biscuits Paula Deen:  fried dough has gone upscale.

I’ve been to at least three restaurants recently that offered donuts on the dessert menu: Local in Dallas, the chic Stephan Pyles Restaurant also in Dallas, and Rustic Canyon Wine Bar in Santa Monica.  At Stephan Pyles and Rustic Canyon, on the hearty endorsement of wait staff, I ordered them.

Both were served with fancy-shmancy cups of hot something for dipping—espresso at Stephan Pyles, hot chocolate at Rustic Canyon.  It didn’t matter.  Gorgeous though the presentations were, the fried nuggets of dough came up short.  “They’re our favorite,” my waiters promised.

But I kept thinking: my white trash donuts are better.  Was I wrong?  Read the rest of this entry »

Santa Monica Meals & Deals

In California, Local Flavor, Restaurant on September 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

Sometimes when you are traveling for work, you’re grateful to dine in the hotel.  And sometimes, if you don’t get out and enjoy the local sights a bit, you feel as if you’re being cheated somehow.  Lucky for me, in Santa Monica I managed to do a little of both.

It helps when your hotel (The Viceroy) has a fun restaurant with good food and a great wine deal.  Monday and Tuesday nights, wines at Whist are $25 a bottle. So, of course, my colleague  Hallie Butter and I had a bottle of wine, a delicious Pinot Grigio, Livio Felluga from Italy.  Our meal was good too–I had scallops prepared with crispy chunks of pancetta; Hallie (as she so often does, go figure) had halibut–pistachio encrusted on a bed of creamed spinach.

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Paying for Airplane Food

In Taste Tests on September 16, 2009 at 12:49 am
The (TE) Special

The (TE) Special

About half-way into a four hour flight to LAX, I realized I was hungry.  Starving.  I didn’t even eat airplane food when it was free.  Was I really going to purchase something?

Apparently.

I asked for the menu.  Peanut M&Ms for $2?  Or the chicken pita?  I was leaning toward the sure thing when I noticed a (TE) beside the Grilled Chicken Gyro in Pita.  (TE) means this is a Todd English designed entrée.

Todd English.  I vaguely know who he is.  Top Chef, restaurants, dark hair.  My favorite part of Jacques Pepin’s wonderful memoir is when he writes about trying to make the food at Howard Johnson’s taste good.  Maybe “award-winning chef” TE, proudly featured on Delta’s menu, is trying to do the same thing here.

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Honey-Fried Dreams?

In Restaurant, South Carolina on September 8, 2009 at 1:18 am
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Honey-Fried in Hartsville, SC

When I was a girl, a Yogi Bear’s Honey-Fried Chicken opened in the town nearest our farm.  Every time we drove by, I’d tell my mother how much I wanted to go there.  How, I reasoned, could honey plus fried chicken be anything but heavenly?

My mother, never careless with a penny, wasn’t buying–the hype or, it turns out, the chicken.  The place opened and closed.  I never got to try what I was sure would be the fried chicken that dreams are made of.

A month or so ago, for no reason that I can recall, I googled honey-fried chicken.  And what did I find?  That what appears to be the nation’s sole remaining Yogi Bear franchise was within easy driving distance.  I vowed to go there, dream deferred no more.

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Fried Chicken Two Ways

In Homemade, Restaurant, South Carolina on September 2, 2009 at 1:34 am
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They call this a snack?

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Dizzy makes gravy

It’s hard to beat homemade fried chicken cooked by a master, which my friend Dizzy Frummunger happens to be.  Like my grandma, Diz uses the slow-fry-not-too-much-oil approach.  He soaks the chicken in buttermilk, rolls it in White Lily, and fries it in a cast iron skillet.  After, he makes milk gravy with the crunchy bits.

You may never get to sample Frummunger fried chicken.  I’m lucky to get it once a year.

So here’s where Zesto comes in.

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Silver Palate Farewell

In Cookbooks, Homemade on September 1, 2009 at 1:56 am
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Well-used, well-loved

Back in my early adult years, there were three books I went to when I needed to work out a recipe. The New Basics by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso was one of them.  I was sad to read that Sheila Lukins died yesterday.  It inspired me to pull out my beat up copy and try to remember why it used to seem so essential.

It’s been years since I’ve used it.  I still go to my other basics–The Better Homes and Garden red gingham notebook that was my mother’s in the 60s and something called The Woman’s Home Companion Cookbook.

But, at least to me when I bought it back in the 1980s, The New Basics was exactly that,  everything I could possibly need to know about then-trendy food.  Risotto?  Who stirred rice and made it gummy? Read the rest of this entry »