Booze is Good Food Too!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pizza wants

What is it about pizza that rings nostalgic?  Last weekend, my husband had to bring 3 separate pizzas back with him to the Charleston area from Pizza Place in Parkersburg.  What is it about the old time pizza joints with the floating grease, extra cheese (piled on AFTER its gets out of the oven if your carb of choice is DiCarlo's) and tiny pepperoni boats that gets our glands salivating?  Making a truly worthwhile pizza seems unbelievably simple, so why is it that we will go out of our way to get the good stuff? 

After reading a great review of Pittsburgh pizza joint Piccolo Forno written by my good friend and fellow food lover Katie Lane from, I relished in the realization that toppings, kitchiness, and trends don't make people come back for more.  Its all goes back to basics - the tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil of course....but the most important of all is the crust.  No matter how that pizza place that rhymes with Do my Ho's (of course this is what I call it) tries to "revamp" their crust by giving it a slight brushing of butter and garlic powder and some kind of green herb like item, it will NEVER match up to one that has home town flair.

On any given travel back to my hometown, about 2 hours south of the city, I start to CRAVE.  Ribs from DeeJay's, Eat and Park Smiley cookies and grilled stickies, DiCarlo's pizza, Curly's Buffalo chicken pizza.  I will even branch out and say Pizza Place pizza, not what I grew up on, but a loved classic all the same.  We tend to look back on memories as times shared with friends, family, school, old boyfriends and girlfriends, sports, jobs...blah blah blah.  But face it.....everytime I think about a GREAT memory, you will be sure to find some great food involved.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What a pretty salad!  This is the sweet potato salad from Lola's pizza on Bridge Road.  An assortment of flavors combines surprisingly well to make this salad one of the highlights of going to Lola's.

Cubes of cooked sweet potatoes pairs with red onion, feta, avocado (yay!), fresh orange and a light cilantro lime vinaigrette.  When I first heard the ingredients, I was wary.  I am not a huge sweet potato fan, and I could not see how feta and avocado could make that better.  But *SHOCKINGLY* I was wrong.

I have to have this salad when I go to Lola's.  Then I get a large pizza, half Pineapple & Prosciutto (with Gorgonzola!) and usually half Artichoke & Goat Cheese.  I paired it last week with a Pinot Evil, which was devilishly good with a spicy bite at the end. 

Unfortunately we did not get to sit on the patio because of the wait on a Friday night.  But I did get to sit on a padded bench with throw pillows which was super comfortable.  Its the little things I suppose...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Road to Perfection

After a few months off, I've decided that it was time for a new post.
Have you ever been out to eat and something was described as "seared to perfection"? Doesn't always have to say seared.  I've seen caramelized, browned, sauced, cooked AND flavored.  Does this " perfection" crap really mean ANYTHING?  Isn't perfection, especially when it comes to a certain foods ability to please, up to the diner?  I have never heard ANYONE say, "Try this Limburger, it smells like gym socks to perfection." Yet, isn't that what makes it perfect to begin with?  Amazing food should have the ability to speak for itself.
Here are a few of my other dining related pet peeves:
  • empty water glasses accumulating on the table (and if that water was served without ice, lemon and a straw....grrrr don't even get me started)
  • a lack of fresh napkins while eating wings (or anything eaten with your fingers)
  • hovering waitstaff (or MIA when said water glass is empty)
  • questioning my additions of sauces or condiments (anyone who knows me can tell you I'm a dipper)
I really am easy to please at a restaurant.  As a dining companion, I'm pretty easy going.  I am willing to try anything new and exciting as frequently as I am to sit down at a good ol' burger joint and drink some beer.  Just as long as it is good food.

I just don't like how the overuse of certain words has infiltrated our menus!  I don't want a "juicy burger, seared to perfection accompanied by crisp, farm fresh lettuce, tart, crunchy pickles and a make your mouth water tomato, served on a hot out of the oven, bakery fresh roll."  NO.  Give me a 8 oz burger, mention your toppings, tell me there are hand cut fries (PLEASE have malt vinegar for once...) and serve it with a great 22 oz. draft beer.  Oh....and don't forget the napkins.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I am stuffed to the brim. As much as I LOVE eating all sorts of goodies during the holiday season, I’m totally ready to get back into my regular eating routine! Between the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and the parties at work and the cookies and candies and donuts and ham and turkey and on and on and on.....well it just gets to be too much of a good thing in my opinion.

Anyway, I’ll pull out an old cliché and declare....Fresh start for a New Year..TA DAAAA!!!!! I have a few fantastic low fat recipes up my sleeve to get me started. The best tip I have is to go to your local grocery store, grab a bag of frozen veggies (I LOVE the bags with asparagus or broccoli stir fry.) and mix them with or add them as a side dish to ANYTHING. It is an easy way to amp up your veggie intake, feel full, get some fiber. And if you add some Italian seasoning and spray butter….it is practically calorie free! Any of these mixes are great with a pasta, grilled chicken and sauce for a quick meal. Another way I use these frozen veggies is adding garlic, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes, beans and chicken stock (low sodium/low fat) and making a ‘whatever I have in the house’ soup. These are super easy to freeze and take to work or eat when nobody (meaning me in my house) has the energy to think up something to cook. Fantastico!

Another easy trick I have learned is to rely on the thin sandwich breads made famous by Arnolds and use them instead of hamburger buns. These are particularly great for breakfast too. Toast these up and put some spray butter on and you have a great English muffin substitute. Add peanut butter or cottage cheese and this makes a filling breakfast that lasts all morning.

I’m not the kind of person who when trying to eat healthier relies on salad every day, I think it becomes too boring after a while. However, there are some great salads I make that are low in calories and high on flavor. A favorite is buffalo chicken salad. I grill a chicken breast, chop it up and mix with Franks Red Hot, garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh ground black pepper and Sriracha. Then add a few olives, low fat mozzarella, and dressing of your choice (ranch is a fave for this dish, but low fat Caesar Italian or a light vinaigrette works wonderfully). Another favorite is to add granny smith apples, gorgonzola cheese (a small amount goes a LONG way) and a few chopped walnuts to a salad and serve with a tangy vinaigrette dressing. A white balsamic and fruity olive oil mix is great with this.

I have some more posts coming soon, with the holidays over; I have some more free time on my hands to concentrate on my love of blogging about food. Send me some ideas about what you would like to see or read about. I’m up for anything as long as it tastes good!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fondu on Christmas Eve....A New Tradition!

Ahhhh, the season of food is upon us. It starts at Thanksgiving (or is it Halloween, Football season, FOURTH OF JULY??) and comes to a head on New Year’s Eve. A time of indulgence in high caloric drinks and food, and all around gluttony. It’s fantastic. My favorite night to eat is Christmas Eve. A new tradition was started at my parent’s house 2 years ago, a Very Merry Fondue Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, my parents table beckons with a spread that would rival the Melting Pot. A large lazy Susan style fondue set with hot bubbling oil is the centerpiece with an assortment of dipping sauces. I think we had teriyaki, cocktail, Asian "yumyum" sauce (you know, the pink stuff they serve at hibachi style restraunt for seafood), A1, marinara and soy sauce.

Also on the table was the ubiquitous cheese fondue. Or what could pass as cheese fondue. We didn’t particularly follow a recipe and I think Kroger may have been out of the required melting cheese we needed that day, so substitution followed....anyway it was passable. Of course we still ate it (everyone except for my cheese phobic husband...I die). And when it was mixed vigorously, it did resemble and taste like a cheese fondue should, with hints of white wine (well it was white zin) and garlic. I think this year though, we are going to use a different recipe for the cheese, we will see...
Into the sauces surrounding the cheese and hot oil we dipped literally everything fry-able or dunk-able you can imagine. We had no less than the following spread over the table

-marinated strip steak
-raw shrimp
-uncooked ravioli
-breaded cheese cubes
-chunks of bread (pumpernickel rye I believe)
-curly fries
-tortilla chips
-buffalo chicken dip
-sushi (um, not sure why we had this for fondue night, but I'm NOT complaining

The first year we did this we had WAY WAY WAY too much food. Even for 7 of us. We scaled it down last year and we still had plenty of leftovers. That’s the thing with fondue though. It is such a process that you can’t really gulp down your food in 10 minutes and be done. The oil needs to be reheated after so long, the shrimp and steak need to cook, and there are only 2 utensils used for dipping per person (one cheese, one oil). Therefore, fondue makes the perfect dinner for a family who loves talking as much as we do! We spend at least an hour or longer dipping/discussing/digesting/drinking....and loving it! I can’t wait to do it again this year, only 2 days to go until the feast :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pizza night

The other night since the hubby was out, I decided to have pizza. I did California Pizza Kitchen thin crust personal margarita pizza and it was quite tasty. Not, terribly filling, but when you add wine, it wasn’t too bad. Have to admit that it came from a box (this turned out to be a no cook weekend) but it got me thinking about my favorite pizza toppings.

With the news that Pies and Pints will open a new location in Charleston on Capitol Street, and Lola's becoming busier than ever, the pizza trend seems to be getting bigger. We probably have pizza one or two times a month. And pepperoni isn’t this only topping that people are craving these days. A look at Pies and Pints menu on their website reveals such toppings as coconut Thai curry with shrimp, pulled pork and jalapenos, and even a grape pie with gorgonzola! It seems anything can go onto a pizza these days, even salads are making an appearance.

Lola's pizza seems to be the place to go for people in Charleston when a pizza craving and a gourmet craving hits at the same time. It is a little pricier than your average pizza, but it my opinion, well worth it. If you have never tried the prosciutto and pineapple with gorgonzola, you are really missing out. AMAZING. Also, the spinach and feta drizzled with balsamic reduction is to die for as well. These topping really just highlight what every really spectacular pizza should have....a great crust. Thin enough to be crispy and nicely browned along the bottom and edges with enough heft as to not taste like a cracker. Great, now I'm salivating...

Anyway, when I make pizza at home, I usually go with the Pillsbury roll out dough from a can. It bakes up very flaky and crispy and is super tasty. Turkey pepperoni, fresh basil (if I have it), and fresh grated mozzarella are my toppings of choice, especially when the hubby is home. If we are ordering delivery, he will venture to the meat-za pizza on occasion, but that’s about how adventurous he will go when it comes to pizza. My absolute favorite would be the Honolulu Hawaiian from Dominos with onions added. Comes with roasted red peppers, ham, bacon and a cheesy crust. Yum.

Another great option for cooking pizza at home is to use Flat Out (or another brand) flatbread. This does best when baked for 7 minutes then adding your topping on. Canned pineapple didn’t really work for this recipe because of the moisture content, but olives, sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella work great for this. I usually make 2 and cut into 4 to 6 pieces each. Great quick pizza meal for a night when you are cooking for yourself.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Food Sensory Overload Contd.

Okay, moving on...

The more I think about the marketplace, the more it makes me want to create mind blowing delicacies. Yeah, SURE I can make that $25 a pound Chilean sea bass with a lemon butter caper say you want a fresh goat cheese tarte to accompany that? SURE NO PROBLEM! This place really is FOOD PORN PARADISE. It inspires even the most timid of pallets to try the unknown, the sexy and the exotic. If you are leaning towards exotic transatlantic cuisine, the international aisles (YES AISLES, for every culinary region) have every kind of exotic spice, sauce or candy you can think of. Had a really great cookie in Cancun during Spring Break? They probably have it here. Most of the labels are in the corresponding language though, but if you are looking for an out of the ordinary ingredient, this is the place to find it.

Now, to one of my favorite spots in the store. The olive bar. And when I say olive bar, I mean a 20 foot spread of beautiful black green and deep red olives stuffed with almonds, 6 different kinds of blue cheese or garlic. L.O.V.E. Also available are olive salads, boccacini mozzarella balls, stuffed grape leaves, and an assortment of marinated yummies perfect for an antipasto plate or a night in front of the tube watching TV (no, just me?). Clear containers of differing sizes are available to stock up and mix/match anything you want.

Speaking of olive bars, the olive OIL and vinegar bar is also available. This sexy set up has beautiful spouted jars where one can pour their own olive oil from all over the world. It also contains just as many vinegars with such concoctions as blueberry, fig, or white balsamic. I was lucky enough to have a tasting of the fig balsamic and lemon infused olive oil. The olive bar barrista was kind enough to offer fluffy chunks of rustic bread to use for dipping.

Ahhh, I could really go on all day about this place, and maybe I will again after I've been there again. Going to hit it up around Christmas time and hopefully get a few pictures of the loveliness that this place really is.