20 October 2009

OBX in effect

We've just returned from our short stay in Outer Banks, NC. My mother-in-law rented the place for the week with an open invitation to the family to come down and stay. During our stay it was only the four of us... It was too much house for four people but the place was much nicer than I had expected. Unfortunately the weather was horrid. We literally saw about 15 minutes of sunlight in the four days we were there. But enough talk, time for the food!

It was roughly a six hour trip from our house to Corolla, NC where our place was. I decided we would stop off at Ben's Chili Bowl for lunch on the way down. It was quite an experience.

The line wasn't long at all but the smells wafting from the grill made the short wait almost unbearable.

MMmmmm if only you could smell that. Now unfortunately Nikki doesn't care for chili, so there wasn't much for her to choose from, but I already had my order in mind: the standard chili half smoke which includes mustard and onions and a side of chips. Nikki ordered the turkey burger with a side of fries.

My half smoke was terrific. I loved the combination of chili and mustard on the half-beef half-pork smoked sausage. The outter casing had a great snap. I contemplated ordering a bowl of chili after I finished... topped with mustard. Another thing I liked about the meal was it wasn't super-huge. I didn't feel horrible and bloated afterwards. I'm not a huge chip fan so I didn't touch those but Nikki's fries were nicely cooked with a molten potato interior. Deceptively hot. I walked out with a burned tongue. Here's a half-shot:

Nikki said her turkey burger could've been a bit more flavorful but I pointed out that she ordered a turkey burger from a place that specializes in chili and smoked sausages. Her reply was simply "Good point". We relished our seats at the bar and watched them work their magic all the while chatting it up with the locals sitting around us.

We arrived many hours later to find a very large and well-kept house:

It had a huge foyer,...

...pool, gazebo, and jacuzzi and backed up right to the beach looking out over the Atlantic.

It was pretty amazing. Immediately after unpacking it was time for drinks so I was handed a huge Grolsch. When Dave (my mother-in-law's boyfriend) learned I had never tried potato vodka he immediately poured me a glass of that too. After finishing both I was thoroughly buzzed and starving. Nikki felt the similarly famished so they recommended a place called Mike Dianne's Grill Room.

The complimentary bread and oil was good.

The oil was exceptionally garlicky which I loved. I had a glass of the Leese-Fitch cab (pictured above) which was so-so. I ordered the Grill Room salad and the 8 oz. filet with a shiitake mushroom demi glace which came with green beans and garlic mashed potatoes.

This salad was good. I had never had a green salad served over cous cous. The textures were fantastic and I love me some toasted pine nuts. My only complaint about this dish was the horribly bitter pepperocini. I've eaten these peppers by the jar so I know what they should taste like, and this wasn't it. It took all I had not to spit it out on the table. Ugh, disgustingly bitter.

Unfortunately I forgot to snap a shot of my dish before I dove into it. I was warned by my mother-in-law that the green beans are al dente but that was an understatement. They were a step above raw. Speaking of raw, here's a shot of my medium rare filet:

Yes, it was most certainly undercooked. After that much alcohol I barely noticed. Fortunately I would much rather have an undercooked filet than an overcooked one so I didn't really mind. The sauce was good but honestly I barely remember what it tasted like. I don't think it really added too much. What I was really craving was some sort of wine reduction sauce but sadly that was not one of the options.

After the main course we couldn't decide on a dessert to share so we ordered three, the flourless chocolate cake, the "house favorite" key lime pie, and the peanut butter pie. Again, by this time I had a lot to drink. I ordered whichever glass of port wine would pair best with the chocolate cake and by that time I was pretty sauced so I forgot to snap a shot of the desserts when they hit the table. But here is one shortly after we started inhaling them:

In my opinion the best of the three was the chocolate cake. I have no idea why the key lime pie is their signature dessert because it was decidedly average. The peanut butter pie was good but not great. The molten core of the flourless chocolate cake stuck to the roof of my mouth and was ever so much fun to suck off of my fork. This is fast becoming one of my go-to dessert choices.

We went home and hung out and passed out. Next up day 2.

19 October 2009

Sorry for the delay

Sorry for the lack of content but we just got back from a short vacation in Outer Banks, NC which I have tons of material to blog about from. Also I recently started playing WoW again (yes I know, it's the devil) to save some money because my social life was getting a bit expensive. So if any of you readers (hahaha no one reads this...) play you can find me on Tortheldrin as Voracity a Draenai shaman.

So hopefully I will have that post up in a week or so, these monstrous posts take a while to write. But don't worry, I'm still here.

04 October 2009

Retro.spec: Philly Cheesesteak Tour '08

Retro.spec is a series of posts I post about past culinary experiences. In these posts I try to recount as much detail as possible, but will more often than not focus on the food and general likes and dislikes.

A co-worker of mine Skott and I had planned this trip for weeks. I did extensive research online and gotten a few recommendations from another co-worker who happened to be a philly native. The plan was this: First hit Geno's and then Pat's at 9th and Passyunk. Then swing over to Tony Luke's for both a cheesesteak and a roast pork italian. Following that we took a mid-day break and checked out the Philadelphia Museum of Art to let our overloaded stomachs digest. The second leg of the tour featured a trip to Steve's Price of Steaks, and finally rounding out the day by hitting Pagano's the recommendation from our Philly-native. To keep all sandwiches on even ground every order was "whiz wit" which, as most foodies know, is cheese whiz with fried onions. In reality you don't really have to abide by this retarded ritualistic ordering. People go up to the window and order in any manner they fancied and they got their food without any issue.

Unfortunately some of the pictures taken were post-toppings so you can't really get a good view of the heart of the sandwich, but nonetheless feast your eyes on some good old Philly food porn:

This is Geno's steak which happened to be Skott's favorite cheesesteak. Unfortunately when I saw a huge jug of sauce with a skull and crossbones on it, I eagerly coated my sandwich with it and regretted it upon the first bite. I learned that while Geno's may serve a great cheesesteak, unfortunately all I got to sample was a great ball of fiery death on a bun. Skott was highly amused.

If you really want to abide by all of the rules, Pat's spells it out for you literally right above the window:

Pat's steak. Yes I know, I got a little overzealous with the toppings. Overall we weren't impressed.

Ah yes, Tony Luke's. It is here I would have a sandwich epiphany.

There it is the RPI in all it's glory and luckily featured in a photo sans toppings. Actually now that I think about it, after I took my first bite I ate the toppings on the side, I didn't want to ruin the blissful harmony of flavors. This sandwich annihilated the cheesesteak in all forms. The Philly trifecta is most certainly not sliced beef, fried onions, and whiz, it is in fact sliced pork, broccoli rabe, and provolone. We both agreed that this was the best sandwich of the day. How the hell did the cheesesteak become world famous while most people outside of Philly have never heard of a roast pork italian? I guess Philadelphians wanted to keep the real treasure of Philly to themselves.

Tony Luke's cheesesteak. I have no idea how this tasted because I was too busy making sweet umami love to my RPI.

Here are a few random pics from our intermission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

Who doesn't love swords?

Flintlock pistols are uber radical. Steampunk for life.

I wish this picture were in focus. If I had one of these I would wear it to work every day. You never know when you might be thrust into a battle of epic proportions. One must always be prepared.

In my opinion Steve is too modest calling himself the Prince of Steaks. He could easily usurp Pat. It would be like William Wallace versus that Lightning Bolt LARPer on youtube. Yeah, that's right LARPer. Go look it up, it's hilarious. While you're at it check out the funniest 30 seconds on the internet.

The roll was perfection. It had the nice outter crust to contain the juices and the soft lovely center. But for me what made this great was the abundance of cheese, which can clearly be seen in the picture. My favorite cheesesteak of the day.

Pagano's. This was by far the least commercial establishment of the entire trip. It had a much more local feel. It's your right around the block cheesesteak joint. When they saw us taking pictures they questioned us extensively about our little tour. They found it hard to believe we had already put down four sandwiches that day. But I gots the goods to prove it. They let us photo them performing their craft to our hearts content:

My co-worker suggested I try the triple cheese which features american, provolone, and whiz. This was my kind of sandwich. I mean, why choose one when you could try all three? I couldn't wait to try this. I also felt that I needed something a bit out of the ordinary to rekindle my tastebuds this being our fifth sandwich of the day. This was the only place that applied additional toppings upon request. I said salt, pepper, and ketchup and they took it upon themselves to upend an entire bottle of Heinz onto our sandwich:

It may look wrong, but man was it so right. The sweet sticky ketchup combined with the three cheeses made this sandwich an excellent finale to our tour. Just look at all the sexy layers of yellow love goo:

No regrets. We had a great day and ate some amazing sandwiches. There is a lot of heart and soul in the cheesesteak biz, but I feel like after doing a thorough taste-testing of some of the best in Philly, I must conclude my post with this simple statement: The cheesesteak has been dethroned. Long live the roast pork italian.