July 20, 2010

the culinary experience of ABQ

Any time I'm with my mom it is a culinary experience. She and I both love good food and we do what it takes to get it! While in ABQ we did both a little bit of cooking and a little bit of dining out. We made some good old stand-by dishes; spagbol, roast chicken with lemony linguine, eggplant stew... We also experimented a little bit. The first thing we tried out was pork wellington, which is a pork tenderloin split down the middle and filled with dried apples then wrapped in prosciutto and wrapped again in puff pastry lined with a smidge of whole grain mustard. It was good but not great which was a disappointment because we really had high hopes. Our main complaints were that it was a little dry and lacked a real "umph." Since I've been home I made this again but I used mango chutney in the place of the dried apples. The taste was there but the extra liquid made the pastry soggy. I think it may be a while before I try this again.
The next thing that we tried was a roast duck with orange salsa and a pea, mushroom and pepper pasta. The salsa was FABULOUS! It had 2 oranges cut into bits, red onion, cilantro, red chili, mint, salt and lime juice. The duck was duck. It was fine but it was a little chewy really, chicken or fish would have been better. The noodles were surprisingly really good! We used a really yummy egg noodle that we found at Whole Foods. The rest was just red chilies, scallions, shitake mushrooms, and snow peas sauteed in sesame oil served with a dribble of soy sauce and sprinkled with cilantro. Quite tasty : )
Then there were the desserts. We made syllabub, which Nigella describes as being "the sort of dessert you imagine eating in heaven," and yes, it is that good. It's an aromatic, fluffy whiteness made by infusing cream with a small bit of liqueur, apple cider and a few other things and then whipping it into a near solid which is then loaded into glasses where you eat it by the spoonful. Delish!
Lastly we made a chocolate and raspberry pavlova. It too was very tasty! It's essentially a large chocolate meringue cooked until it's set but with a gooey center, topped with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and shaved chocolate. It was really very good but almost (wait for it) too chocolatey. I know, how is that possible? I'm not sure but it was so rich it almost stung to eat which took away from the dish for me. It was still good though and I'm excited to try this in a different flavor.
We of course ate at our favorite breakfast spot, The Flying Star, whose fabulous french toast is the epitome of good breakfast food. We also tried two new places; Sophia's Place and The Artichoke Cafe. Sophia's Place was phenomenal! It was actually featured on the Food Network show Drive-In's, Diners and Dives (or something like that, I don't know because I don't watch tv, I only know this because my mom told me) Anyway, I had red snapper tacos which were delish and my mom had a poblano relleno which was really delish. If you live in or around ABQ or if you happen to be in the area try it out, their menu is very interesting! Sadly, The Artichoke Cafe was a bit of a disappointment. The best thing about it was Frank cracking us up in his high chair. The best items we got were the appetizers which were so simple I could make them in my sleep. Roasted garlic with roasted red peppers and goat cheese, a good combo but not mind blowing, and a steamed artichoke with three dipping sauces which just happened to be clarified butter (boring), raspberry vinaigrette (weird), and a caper type hollandaise which was actually pretty good. The soups were both good, french onion and a chilled pea soup. Then the entrees were not only not good, they were bad. My mom got a chicken and veggie crepe with a creamy heirloom tomato sauce which was terrible. The chicken wasn't fresh, the tomato sauce was bizarre with the crepe. Blah! I got a seared scallop dish. The scallops (all four of them) were good, but then again how do you mess that up! The green been and grain salad was just chewy and unedible for the most part. That was kind of a bummer because the restaurant is well known and has gotten really good reviews.

Anyway, all of this decadent eating has us feeling a bit saturated and my mom and I have agreed to start a healthy eating challenge. We have set goals for what we want to do with the start of school being our first deadline. We will be starting a new blog to track our ideas and progress also. Once that is up I'll post a link in the sidebar. Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

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