Archive for August, 2010

Cherry Clafouti

Monday, August 30th, 2010 by virginia


For a few weeks in a row, we got piles of cherries from our CSA fruit share. I love cherries, but there is a limit as to how many I can snack on before I get a little tired of them. I didn’t want the fruit to go to waste so I decided to try out a cherry clafouti recipe I watched Alton Brown make on an episode of Good Eats.

The recipe, which can be found here, has a really short and basic list of ingredients. This was a huge plus, because it was all stuff that we had on hand. All you need to make this recipe is:

– 12 oz cherries
– 2 large eggs
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup whole milk

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– Butter, for the Dutch oven

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To prepare the cherries, I cut them in half by running a paring knife all the way around the pit, then splitting them open by hand. I used the tip of the knife to carefully pop out the pit, and put all the cherry halves into a bowl.

Cherry halves

In a separate, medium sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until it has turned into a pale yellow color and is frothy. Mix in the milk, vanilla, and flour, and whisk until incorporated. This is the batter for the clafouti.

Clafouti batter

Butter the inside of the dutch oven and carefully line the bottom with the cherry halves. I made sure that they all faced the same way and were spread out evenly.

Cherries lined up on the bottom of the dutch oven

Carefully pour the batter over the cherries, trying not to disturb them too much. They will float a bit though, so don’t worry.

Pouring the batter over the cherries

Bake the clafouti (with the dutch oven cover off) on the middle rack for approximately 30 minutes. The top should brown lightly (though mine stayed pale for some reason). Insert a knife to check if it’s done; the knife should come out clean.

Baked clafouti

Let the clafouti cool in the dutch oven for 30 minutes, then carefully remove it onto a plate.

Cherry clafouti

Cut into wedges, and serve. Although my clafouti didn’t get brown on top, it was cooked through and had a nice custardy texture to it. I actually preferred it cold, after it had been in the refrigerator overnight. The recipe is really simple and it makes a tasty dessert or a decadent breakfast.

Clafouti autopsy shot

BYO Brunch at Nook

Saturday, August 28th, 2010 by virginia

I’ve written about Nook twice already, first about brunch and then about dinner, but it’s such a great little place that I couldn’t resist writing about it a third time. We went for a late brunch one weekend with our bottle of champagne in tow and got some of their tasty freshly squeezed orange juice to make mimosas. Josh was in the mood for something sweet to start, so we split an order of Nutella on a baguette with strawberries and bananas. It’s such a simple combination, but oh so delicious. The strawberries were juicy and sweet, and they went perfectly with our champagne.

Baguettes spread with Nutella and topped with strawberries and bananas

For our entrees, Josh and I split two sandwiches, the turkey sandwich and the croque monsieur. We ordered the croque monsieur last time as well, but it’s such a great sandwich that we can’t resist ordering it time and time again. It’s not the typical Parisian style of sandwich, with ham, gruyere, and bechamel. Rather, it’s a ham, cheddar, and tomato sandwich on thick, buttered bread that’s grilled until the cheese is melted. It’s salty and gooey, though the tomato helps cut the richness a bit. The sandwich comes with a big pile of rosemary fries and a small mixed greens salad.

Croque monsieur autopsy shot, and fries

The turkey sandwich was smoked turkey, tomato, cucumbers, and a spicy beet relish on a baguette. The turkey was sliced thickly and moist, while the spicy beet relish was actually horseradish with beets, the kind that Josh’s family serves with gefilte fish. I thought the cucumber was an unusual addition to the sandwich, but it added a nice crunch. The sandwich also came with a big pile of rosemary fries.

Turkey sandwich autopsy shot, with fries

The brunch at Nook is definitely one of my favorites. The restaurant is just very low key, and service is super friendly. It’s not the typical brunch scene, but the food is good and it’s a cozy place to chat. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of champagne (or two!), and I’m sure that you’ll have a great experience as well.

746 9th Ave. between 50th and 51st St.
New York, NY

Hilton Head Day 5 – Flying Fish Seafood

Saturday, August 28th, 2010 by virginia

We only had half a day of free time on our last day in Hilton Head. I spent the morning by the pool with the girls while Josh and his dad got in a round of golf. We met up at the pool for a quick dip and then headed inside to shower, change, and do last minute packing. We had a little time to kill before we needed to get to the airport so we decided to grab lunch. Our first choice destination was the Sea Shack, which is pretty well known on the island for its cheap seafood joint that was also featured on $40 a Day with Rachael Ray. Josh’s parents, Lisa, and Jess have gone there before but Josh and I never made it. Unfortunately, we got there at 3:10 in the afternoon only to find out that they close for lunch at 3 pm. Rats. We debated other options before deciding to check out Flying Fish Seafood, which replaced one of our favorite restaurants, Stripes.

The space definitely looked very different from when it was Stripes, but the menu was pretty well rounded so we decided to stay and have lunch. Josh, Lloyd, and I chose to have beer with our meal, and they have a pretty decent selection of bottles in their fridge. I had Palmetto Ale, a local beer, while Josh and Lloyd tried out some craft beers. We all shared an order of fried clam strips to start. The clams were clearly freshly fried as they were burning hot, but they didn’t have much flavor. They were pretty tender though, and came with a nice marinara sauce for dipping. I just wish there was a bit more brininess, and the portion was kind of small as well.

Fried clam strips

Josh and I decided to split the seafood platter so that we could try as many different items as possible. The platter came with a house garden salad first. I chose the wasabi cucumber dressing, which tasted like horseradish sauce. The dressing was actually pretty interesting, even though the salad was standard.

House garden salad

The seafood platter itself included steamed snow crab legs, scallops, shrimp, fish, and french fries.  We had the option of fried or broiled, and obviously we chose fried (because broiled fish tends to be drier). We liked that the seafood was only lightly breaded, but unfortunately it was pretty soggy. The steamed snow crab legs were pretty good though, but there was only one small cluster. The shrimp and scallops were decent, but the fish was probably the worst of the bunch. In general it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrendous.

Fried fish, steamed snow crab legs, fried shrimp, fried scallops, and french fries

The seafood platter came with one side, and we opted for the mac ‘n cheese. Sadly, it was pretty bland and not very cheesy or creamy. I dumped a bunch of salt into the bowl but even that didn’t help. It was definitely not something I would choose again.

Bland mac 'n cheese

Josh wanted to try fried pickles, so we got an additional order of those as well. I was expecting the pickles to be coin shaped, but they were actually spears. They were also very lightly breaded, and while I liked the contrast of the hot, slightly crisp exterior with the cooler, juicy interior, the pickles were super salty and made my mouth pucker. They came with marinara and ranch dressing on the side for dipping. The marinara was an odd choice, but the ranch was kind of refreshing and helped offset the saltiness a bit. I can see the potential in fried pickles, but these just weren’t a good example.

Fried pickles

I was pretty disappointed that we weren’t able to go to the Sea Shack for lunch, but I was interested to try out Flying Fish Seafood since we’ve all been curious about the restaurant that replaced Stripes. While I liked how many different options the menu had, I wasn’t really that impressed with the food. All of our fried seafood entrees were pretty soggy and limp. It wasn’t that the seafood itself was bad, it was just poorly prepared. In addition, the restaurant was empty when we were there, yet service was really spotty. It took a while to get our food, and while they kept our soda cups filled, we repeatedly asked for, and never received, extra tartar sauce for our fish. The experience was kind of a letdown, and I don’t think this is a place we’ll be returning to. It was a bummer to end our trip on a low note, but exploring new restaurants is one of my favorite aspects of visiting Hilton Head each year. I look forward to trying out new places the next time we’re down there!

Flying Fish Seafood
32 Office Park Rd.
Hilton Head, SC

CSA Week #12

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by virginia

After a hectic day at work, I was excited to come home to our CSA share. We got a long message from the farm today that made me feel bad about what the farmers are dealing with this summer, in addition to the extreme heat. Also, we learned that heirloom tomatoes should be picked ripe, which means they’ll often be soft and split. That’s a hard thing for me to reconcile because it makes me feel like I’ll have to eat them right away, but now I understand why so many of the tomatoes are in that particular state.

This week our share contents included:

Mini Bell Peppers – 5 each
Watermelon – 2 small or 1 large
Tomatoes – 4 lbs
Cabbage – 1/2 head
Squash – 2 1/3 lbs
Mixed Greens – 3/4 lb

Ruby chard, heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, cabbage, squash, mini bell peppers in front

The mini bell peppers are super cute, and I think we might just eat these whole since they’re basically bite sized. The watermelons were pretty small so Josh picked out one of the larger ones, which is just enough for 2 people to share. We have lots of heirloom tomatoes now, some of which are really soft and some which are slightly firmer. I foresee lots of caprese salads in our future, which is just fine by me. For the mixed greens, Josh got swiss chard with huge leaves and thick ruby red stems. Gorgeous!

Our fruit share is starting to overwhelm us but James just sent us a delicious-looking peach pie recipe that will help me get through our rapidly ripening peach bounty. This week our fruit share contents included:

Italian Plums – 2 lbs
Peaches – 3 lbs
Nectarines – 2 2/5 lbs

Peaches, Italian plums, nectarines

I have absolutely no complaints about the fruit this week. The peaches are large, ripe, and picture perfect. It took lots of willpower not to dig in before I snapped my photos!

In addition, today is Market Day for our CSA. That means in addition to our regular shares, we had the opportunity to order some extra goodies, such as cheese, yogurt, eggs, organic meats, spices, and more. When Josh and I first decided to purchase a CSA share, we debated whether to get an additional egg or dairy share but decided that we wouldn’t use up those items fast enough. Market Day gives us the opportunity to try out some of these item on a one-off basis (you pay per item you choose). We put in our order a few weeks ago and today we received our goods.

This is what we decided to order from Market Day:

Organic Eggs – 1 dozen
Yogurt – 5 containers (6 oz each)
Cheese – 2 packages (8 oz each)
Honey – 16 oz organic wildflower

Organic eggs, assorted yogurt, horseradish cheddar, wildflower honey, garlic and dill cheddar

For the yogurt, there were four different flavors available, so Josh picked out one of each – blackberry, orange, strawberry, and he doubled up on raspberry. For the cheese, he picked horseradish and garlic/dill flavored cheddars (other options included mild cheddar and smoked cheddar). We’re excited to see if organic eggs taste different from regular supermarket eggs, since we debated for a while whether to get a half dozen weekly egg share. If we like these eggs enough, maybe next year we’ll go for the weekly option. Yes, we love our CSA enough that we’re already thinking about next year!

Spooning in the Kitchen

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 by josh

The second most useful tool in my kitchen are my tongs (knives are first).  I have 3 pairs: long metal, short metal and short plastic tipped (for use in non-stick pans).  I use them to lift and replace food in the pan, remove hot pot lids, adjust hot oven racks, retrieve food bits that have fallen out of the pan and into the flame of the stove, toss salads, serve food at the table, etc., etc.  They are multi-purpose and, much like my knives, work perfectly as a heat-resistant extension of my own arm.

There are times when my plastic tongs are covered in Caesar dressing from recently tossing a salad, the short metal tongs covered in coddled egg (from when the dressing was made) and the long tongs covered in grease splatter from the stove top because I left them too close to the pan.  When these situations arise and I need a delicate touch to, say, flip croûtons on a baking sheet, I reach for my tong substitute: chopsticks.

We have many pairs of plastic chopsticks.  While great for feeding oneself, they are poor tong substitutes.  I have exquisite chopstick technique (so I’m told) and have eaten fancy business dinners in Asia without embarrassing myself, but I am thoroughly convinced that Asian people conceived plastic chopsticks specifically to confund Westerners.  There is no reason that a device that depends on friction should be made from the slipperiest material available.  I presume glass was too expensive for common chopstick manufacturing?  Second, plastic melts.  It is ill designed to fetch morsels that have fallen below the pan next to the flame.  I’m not sure wood would be better in this case, although it does remedy my first gripe.  Lastly, chopsticks are not strong enough to lift pot-lids or adjust hot oven-racks.  That, or I am not a strong enough chopstick user.  (Sidebar: cool idea for a new world’s-strongest-man event – who can lift the heaviest item with chopsticks? Someone call ESPN.  This idea is ™TFB.)  So, despite the flair with which Ming Tsai uses them in the kitchen, I’ll say, for me, chopsticks are a poor substitute for tongs.  But, alas, I have found a new substitute: spoons.

Sometimes the strangest things intrigue me.  Virginia and I had a really nice meal at Daniel for our anniversary a while back and I noticed the waiter using spoons as tongs to serve the bread.  I had seen this many times before and each time I thought is was a cool technique, but this time something struck me that I’d be able to leverage this in the kitchen.  I was particularly interested when I noticed a chef on Top Chef using the spoons-as-tongs technique to flip a protein in a frying pan.  Immediately I went to google and searched “spoons as tongs”.  No instructions.  There was one link that mentioned its a good idea when camping (so you dont need to pack the tongs) but no advice as to how to do it.  Naturally, I refined the search: “spoon as tongs” “how to”.  Again, no results save for the one that said fancy restaurants should serve bread using spoons as tongs.  I continued for a while, trying more generic searches “spoons” “tongs” “how to” (which at least yields an interesting article about how to spoon feed a baby parrot).  No instructions anywhere on the Internet.  Surely, the all-knowing all-powerful Internet couldn’t be so uninformed.  Google had failed me for the first time in a long while (the net-neutrality thing hadn’t happened yet).  Really though, let’s face it, if Google can’t find it, it doesn’t exist on the Internet.

Months of agony passed, I labored in the kitchen dropping slippery foods from my no-friction chopsticks, until Virginia’s birthday rolled around and we found ourselves at Daniel once again.  The opportunity presented itself and, with prodding from my mother who had just listened to a rant not unlike the one you’re reading now, I asked the waiter to show me.  Ironically, his name was Bing (j/k).  So, without further ado, I present to you, TFB reader, the only known (to me and Google) set of  instructions on the entirety of the Internet:

How To Use Spoons As Tongs

Step 1:

Take your hand, palm side facing you, with your fingers spread.

Step 2:
Weave a spoon, concave side towards you, through your pinky, ring, and middle fingers.  Pinky and middle fingers underneath, as so:

Spoons As Tongs - Step 2

Step 2: Holding the first spoon

Step 3:
Grasp a spoon between your thumb and pointer finger so that when making a fist, the two spoons meet (concave to concave or concave to convex depending on how tight of a grip you need).  If it’s more comfortable, rest the handle in your palm.

Spoons As Tongs - Step 3

Step 3 - Grasp the second spoon

Step 4:
To use, move ONLY one spoon.  Just like chopsticks.  I find it easier to move the woven spoon from step 2.

Step 5:
Use to grasp, capture, lift, adjust, retreive, serve anything youre strong enough to lift.  Once I had this technique down I started using spoons to pick up everything in the apartment.  I can get our smaller cat by the scruff.  Just kidding, although I smell another world’s-strongest-man event in the making (™TFB).

Spoons as Tongs - Step 5

Now you can pick up anything!

Baked Cucumbers

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by virginia

Fresh CSA cucumbers

I was a bit late jumping into the world of blogs, in terms of both reading and writing. When I first discovered food blogs, I did hear about the Julie/Julia Project, which was going to be turned into a movie. I went back and read the archives of that site and was surprised to find that I could indeed enjoy reading posts that had no pictures.

When Julie & Julia the book came out, I read that as well, but must admit that while I liked the Julia parts, the Julie side wasn’t as compelling as the original blog. I liked that Julie’s blog was like a stream of consciousness, a narrative of her thoughts on paper. Although her blog didn’t really post any recipes, just the names of dishes she made, her reaction to baked cucumbers really stuck in my mind.

As a person who doesn’t really love cucumbers, to read that baking them was a “revelation” kind of shocked me. My mom used to cook cucumbers in soup and I absolutely hated warm cucumbers. I couldn’t imagine that baking them would be better but then I read testimonials from other blogs that baked cucumbers really were amazing.

So when our CSA share included a veritable bounty of cucumbers, I knew that I wanted to try baking them. Not owning a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I did a google search and turned up this article, which included a recipe for baked cucumbers, which I’ve copied below. Although this recipe is titled Concombres Au Beurre, it sounds like the Concombres Persilles recipe that Julie describes in her blog. I’ve inserted pictures from my own attempt at this recipe for reference.

Concombres Au Beurre
(Baked Cucumbers)

6 (8-inch long) cucumbers
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teapsoon sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon dill OR basil
3 to 4 tablespoons minced green onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Peel cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips about 3/8-in wide. Cut strips into 2-inch pieces.

Peeled and seeded cucumbers

Toss cucumbers in a 2 1/2-quart porcelain or stainless steel bowl with vinegar, salt and sugar. Let stand at least 30 minutes or for several hours. Drain. Pat dry in a towel.

Cucumber strips tossed with vinegar, salt, and sugar

In a 12-inch diameter baking dish that is 1 1/2 inches deep, toss cucumbers with butter, dill, green onions and pepper.

Cucumber strips tossed in a baking dish with butter, scallions, basil, and pepper

Bake, uncovered, in center of a preheated 375-degree oven about 1 hour, tossing 2 or 3 times, until cucumbers are tender but still have a suggestion of crispness and texture. They will barely color during cooking.

Baked cucumbers

Serve with roast, broiled or sauteed chicken, scallops or veal chops. Can also serve sprinkled with 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Makes 6 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One,” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)

Baked cucumbers up close

So my verdict? Not a revelation for me, unfortunately. The cucumbers did retain a nice crispiness but the flavors were off for me. Perhaps it was because I used red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar (the recipe did not specify, but re-reading the blog post, Julie used white). I also used basil instead of dill, mainly because I only had basil on hand. I love dill pickles, so perhaps I might have enjoyed the dish better had I used dill. And I also didn’t have parsley to sprinkle on at the end, but then again, I don’t really like parsley.

The cucumbers just had a weird sour flavor to me, and the butter on them felt a bit greasy in my mouth. Also, when the dish cooled down, the butter kind of congealed unpleasantly. I was disappointed, as I really wanted to like this dish. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime using white vinegar/dill/parsley, but I’m not convinced those were the missing links. Maybe I just don’t like cucumbers, except in pickle form? Oh well, at least I gave it a shot!

Hilton Head Day 4 – Red Fish

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 by virginia

In honor of Alice and Lloyd’s 32nd anniversary of the day they met, we went to dinner at one of Lloyd’s favorite restaurants in Hilton Head, Red Fish. Josh and I had eaten there once before, a few years ago, though I don’t really remember what we had. The restaurant has an adjoining wine shop where you can pick out bottles of wine at retail prices, and then pay a corkage fee to drink the bottle with your dinner. They also have a regular wine list, so I’m not sure what is the best deal, but prices in general seemed pretty reasonable.

After placing our orders, we were starving so we eagerly dug into the bread, which was a soft white bread with a chewy interior that had good flavor but wasn’t very crispy on the outside. Still, it was nice and warm, and it paired wonderfully with the accompanying soft butter and a tangy green chimichurri sauce that was a somewhat unusual but tasty offering with bread.

Bread with butter and chimichurri sauce

For our appetizers, Josh and I shared the BLT and the fried oysters. The fried oysters were served in an edible spring roll shell with a jicama slaw and tasso aioli. The oysters were freshly fried so they were nice and crispy on the outside. They didn’t have quite as much briny flavor as I would have hoped but they were still large and decently juicy inside. The aioli had a bit of a spicy kick to it, which was nicely tempered by the refreshing jicama slaw. It was a very nicely done appetizer, and a really large portion as well.

Fried oysters with jicama slaw and tasso aioli

The BLT was actually fried green tomatoes, prosciutto, spinach and goat cheese all layered and stacked into a tall tower. The tomatoes were also perfectly fried, and it was an unusual combination that really worked well together. The tomatoes were slightly sweet and slightly sour, the prosciutto was salty, the goat cheese tangy, and everything was bound together with a spicy adobo sauce underneath.

BLT – stacked fried green tomatoes, prosciutto, spinach, and goat cheese over adobo sauce

For our entrees, Josh and I shared the kobe beef burger and the lowcountry shrimp and grits. The shrimp and grits were served with chorizo gravy, fried okra, and sauteed kale. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and tender, and I loved the crispy little fried okra bites. The chorizo gravy was a bit heavy but it made the dish really hearty. While it wasn’t exactly summertime fare, it was still very tasty and well prepared.

Shrimp and grits with chorizo gravy, fried okra, and sauteed kale

I was really curious to try the kobe burger, which was also topped with foie gras. I’ve never had a “fancy pants” burger before, like the famous and uber-expensive DB burger by Daniel Boulud. Red Fish’s version featured ground kobe beef with foie gras, truffles, pepper jack cheese, and crispy onions. It also came with a port demi-glace on the side for dipping. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with this burger, as there was perhaps too much going on and all the flavors were muddled. I didn’t taste the foie gras or the truffles, which two of my favorite ingredients. The beef itself had a slightly funky flavor, more like a braised pot roast rather than a grilled piece of meat. The ciabatta bun also did nothing to help the burger, as it was dense and chewy and kind of overwhelmed the meat patty. I’m sad to say that I prefer a simpler burger without all of the fancy ingredients. The burger did come with truffled fries that were pretty tasty. The menu said steak fries but they were actually standard thin cut fries, which was a relief because I’m not a fan of steak fries. They were doused in truffle oil but weren’t so overpowering, which was good.

Kobe beef burger with foie gras, truffles, pepper jack cheese,crispy onions, and truffled fries

We got a side order of lobster macaroni and cheese for the table to share. The macaroni was chewy orecchiette pasta and it was covered in a rich, creamy sauce. There were visible chunks of lobster mixed in, and it was pretty decadent but not too heavy. This is definitely a must-order dish if you ever go to Red Fish.

Lobster macaroni and cheese

We all decided to split a dessert, which was called the Chocolate “Twix” Bar because it has similar components to an actual Twix bar. There’s a shortbread cookie base that’s covered in caramel and scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then the entire thing was covered in a chocolate coating. It was a simple flavor combination but the result was pretty fantastic, and very refreshing on a hot summer day.

Chocolate “Twix” Bar dessert

Overall we all really enjoyed our meal at Red Fish. From beginning to end everything was well prepared and well composed. The only dish I didn’t love was the kobe burger, but not because it wasn’t cooked properly, but because it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Josh liked it a lot and thought it was a great burger. Portions were pretty huge, and we were absolutely stuffed by the time we left. Service was fast and friendly. We told our waitress at the beginning of our meal that we were trying to make a movie (we went to see The Other Guys), and she made sure our dishes came out at an efficient pace. This is definitely a restaurant we will come back to the next time we’re in Hilton Head.

Red Fish
8 Archer Rd.
Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head Day 3 – Antonio’s

Saturday, August 21st, 2010 by virginia

Before we arrived in Hilton Head, someone recommended that we go to Antonio’s, which they said was the best Italian restaurant on the island. Since we’re always on the lookout for new places to try, and we all like Italian food, we decided to give it a shot. There’s a bar area in front where people sat watching preseason football and the Yankees game, and a more formal dining room that is slightly separated. The lighting was a bit dim but it wasn’t too stuffy or upscale.

We ordered some garlic bread for the table but it was pretty standard, not very crispy, garlicky, or flavorful. We were better off sticking to the regular bread, which was slices of a flat peasant loaf that had a sturdy crust and a chewy interior. It came with a bean spread that was a little sweet but still pretty tasty.

Slices of peasant bread

There were only a few appetizer/salad options but none really appealed to us so Josh and I decided to have sampler portions of some pasta dishes as our first course. We split the pasta carbonara and an orecchiette with clams and pork. The carbonara was chock full of sweet peas and diced pieces of pancetta. The pasta was cooked al dente and it had a nice balance of sweet/salty. I just thought there was too much cream in it, so that the pasta at the bottom of the bowl resembled an alfredo rather than the silky richness of a carbonara.

Spaghetti carbonara with peas and pancetta

The orecchiette had a generous serving of clams and lots of pieces of tender pork mixed throughout. The sauce was light but savory, and the pasta had a really great chewy texture. There was also a healthy sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs on top that added a nice crunch to the pasta. This was my favorite dish of the evening.

Orecchiette with clams, pork, and toasted breadcrumbs

For our main courses, Josh and I shared the veal parmesan and the stuffed chicken. The veal parmesan was a huge portion with two large pieces of breaded veal served over angel hair pasta. The veal was pounded thin but not too thin, and there was a good coating of melted cheese on top. However, the pasta was really wet and mushy, and it hadn’t been properly drained so that the excess liquid made the tomato sauce really watery and thin. The sauce kind of ruined the rest of the dish because it made everything soggy and diluted the flavors of the other components. I was pretty disappointed with it.

Veal parmesan

The description of the chicken dish made us think it would be more like a chicken milanese, but it was actually a thick piece of chicken on the bone stuffed with spinach and served on top of a small bed of arugula and grape tomatoes. The chicken was tender and the dish was well seasoned but it lacked pizazz. The dressing was a simple honey mustard sauce that really didn’t add much to the dish. It was a good dish, but not great.

Stuffed chicken over arugula and grape tomatoes

Overall we were all pretty disappointed with our dinner at Antonio’s. None of us were wowed by any of the dishes, and while we thought the pastas were pretty good, they weren’t spectacular. Service was pretty bad, especially considering how empty the restaurant was at the time. There were only a handful of other tables at most, yet we waited a long time until we could even place our orders. When they brought out our entrees, they forgot Jess’ lasagna and we sat there waiting for a good 10 minutes before we could finally flag someone down to ask about it. They went to get it from the kitchen and handed it off without any real apology.  The lasagna she got had clearly been sitting in the oven the whole time because the cheese on top had browned completely and hardened.

Portion sizes were also all over the place. The sampler portions of pasta were pretty hearty, but the salads were laughably small. Alice’s beet salad came with approximately five pieces of baby arugula. It was more like a garnish than a component of the dish. The caesar salad had good flavor but was way overdressed, with the creamy dressing weighing down all of the romaine, rendering it gloppy and heavy. Unfortunately, with one misstep after another, I don’t think this is a place we will return to the next time we’re in Hilton Head.

1000 William Hilton Pkwy.
Hilton Head, SC

Asian Melon

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by virginia

For those of you who were curious about the Asian melon, it turned out to be more like honeydew than cantaloupe. The outside skin was yellow with white stripes and the inside flesh was white and creamy. We let it ripen for a while so the flesh was soft and juicy. It was sweet but not overly sweet, with a subtle honeydew flavor.

Asian melon

To eat it, we just cut it in half and scooped out the seeds, then ate the flesh using a spoon. No mess, no fuss!

CSA Week #11

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by virginia

We got a note from the farm this week apologizing for some of the spoiled produce we’ve been seeing, and explaining that the cause is the weather. I understand the difficulties that they’re dealing with, it just pains me to have to throw food away but I’m sure it pains the farmers even more.

We had another week of heavy produce, and this time it was Josh who had to carry it all home by himself. This week our vegetable share contents included:

Tomatoes – 3 lbs
Melon – 1 each
Napa Cabbage – 1 each
Greens – 1/2 lb
Squash – 2 lbs
Carrots – 1/3 lb
Cucumbers – 2 lbs
Corn – 2 ears
Beets – 1 lb

Heirloom tomatoes, beets, greens, napa cabbage, squash, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melon on top

The tomatoes were much better this week, and Josh found three huge heirlooms that look juicy and ripe. For the greens, he picked up some swiss chard with yellow stems this time instead of the red stems. He also picked up a different kind of squash that is big and round, with bright yellow skin and green trim on the edges.

The fruit this week also looked MUCH better, and I was really happy with what we got. The fruit share contents included:

Nectarines – 3 1/2 lbs
Peaches – 3 1/2 lbs

Nectarines and peaches

These also look sweet and juicy, and only one peach was spoiled out of the whole bunch. We’ll have to eat these quickly though as they’re super ripe. I’ll have to look into some peach dessert recipes. Cobbler perhaps?