Saturday, September 8, 2007


Pambiche is a regular stop for me. I've been there a fair number of times, with only one real miss. They have one of the two best mochas in town. They have amazing desserts. The entree portions are insanely large. The food is rarely off. The empanadas are good, the salads are good. The pollo croquetas are lovely. The fried yuca is awesome. The wait is just a tad long, though much improved when the outdoor seating is available during the summer. If you haven't been, it's worth a trip.

Last night, we started with the yuca con mojo. I love yuca. The tangy sauce was a lovely compliment. Did I say that I love the yuca?

I had the plato cubano, a favorite of mine. The pork, red beans, rice, and tasty, tasty yuca. Mmmm yuca. The pork was perfect this time. From time to time, it's been a little overdone and a tad chewy, but this time, it was succulent. I had te helado which is an iced combination of fruit and hibiscus tea, which was perfect for my mood.

PG had the lengua en salsa, the pork served in creole sauce over rice was pretty tasty. She was more than pleased.

Belle liked her arroz con pollo as well. I think she might be a bit of a ho (a southern ho) for the saffron, but the chicken was also tender and juicy.

You won't be hungry following the main course, but don't let that stop you from checking out the dessert display case. If you've ever been to Pambiche, you know that the dessert list is intimidating to say the least, and to make it more torturous, there are more desserts on the list than are available that day. So, you get to read all the descriptions and match them to the desserts on display. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sure you can make a mistake picking from the display, but don't get your heart set on something and then realize they don't have that day.

This time, they had a dessert I'd never actually seen in the glorious display case, papagayo. A delightful combination of passionfruit mousse, chocolate canela mousse, separated by layers of macadamia nut meringue, covered with whipped cream and topped with an adorable chocolate macaw! Wowsa! Belle and PG shared with me so as not to suffer any internal injury.

Food: 9
Drinks: 9 that tea hit the spot on a warm day!
Scene: 8, busy, busy. you'll probably have to wait
Service: 7

I'll be back.

Pimiento Cheese

1 lb sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 oz. diced pimiento w/liquid
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/2-1 tsp. cayenne

Mix 'em together; it'll be kind of pasty. That's pretty much it.

Remember, recipes are suggestions, not the law. If you like mayo more than I do, add more to make it more traditional (I'm guessing closer to 3/4-1 cup -- eek!) I imagine you could even mix in some different types of cheeses for variety. I like the cayenne, but you could probably leave it altogether.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Wine Tasting September 2007 - Rhone Revels

Let me start by saying that I have nothing against the French. I like butter and cream in my food as much as anyone. I like cheese, glorious cheese, stinky cheese, moldy cheese, the lot. However, the French and I have never seen quite eye to eye on wine. I like my wine with less barnyard, less dirt, and um, well less French than the French seem to do. Go figure. On the other hand, for the first time ever, my rankings were right in with the group. I do not understand, not one itsy bitsy tiny bit. One of these wines should only be used for cleaning paint brushes. Three of them were quite drinkable and the last was a bit all over the map.

Here's how it works: rank the wines from 1 to however many (generally 5 to 6 bottles) after tasting both with and without food. Go around the room and talk a little about the wine and share your rankings. Total the score. Tada. Lowest score is the winner. This time we had a tie, so don't get too confused on the numbering...

You're probably wondering what we drank? Well here it is:


In the order they were ranked by our intrepid tasters (my rank in parentheses):
1. Domaine le Goubert 1995 Gigondas "Cuvee Florence"(1) - Grenache less than 80%, Syrah an/or Mourvedre
2. Domaine Rabasse Charavin 2000 Cairanne "Cuvee D'Estevenas"(2) - Corinne Couturier top reserver wine
2. Domaine de l'Oratoire St. Martin 2000 Cairanne "Haut-Coustias"(3) - Mourvedre 60%, with Syrah and Grenache
4. Bosquet de Papes 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape (4) - Dominant Grenache
5. Domaine Rabasse Charavin 1995 Rasteau (5) - blend of 70 year-old vines, Grenache 60%, Mourvedre 40%

The warm-up wines were:
Clos des Papes 1996 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc - This was by far one of the strangest whites I've had. It tasted something like a watered down whiskey, which I'm told is the characteristic "butterscotch" of aged Grenache Blanc. I didn't dislike it, but I'm not sure what to do with it either.

Chateau Pradeaux 2005 Bandol Rose - This was listed, but I think I missed it altogether. Oops. My bad.

Picklefest 2007!

364 jars!!! More to come.

Dills, Pat's, and sweets were only the beginning

Packing the green beans. Now there's a way to keep them from sticking out above the rim of the jar.

The potmaster at work! Yes, that steam burns, but he's tough! If you're going to try this at home, you might want to wear shoes and gloves.

Salsa, carrots, beets, and more dills -- and this is only the second plywood landing.

Nearing the finish line... The beans have been in for processing, and we've started on our third landing platform.

And last, but not least -- or should I say butt not least? Yes, that sweet relish was the end of the run and that is 364 jars total. If you're doing a booty shakin' dance in celebration, you have to know you're going to make the blog...

Birthday Festivities at Andina

Alright, so I've been waiting for the official photos on this, but I've decided to wait no longer! Official photos could be forthcoming.

Best birthday event ever held on a Monday night in the George V room downstairs at Andina! We had a remarkable amount of food and beverage! The tasting menu included a little of each of 12 small plates and two desserts.

Here's the menu split into courses:


Cebiche de Pescado "5 Elementos"
traditional cebiche of fresh fish "cooked" in key lime juice with a marinade of onions, cilantro and peppers

Cebiche de Mango Verde Y Langostinos
traditional cebiche of green mango, passionfruit and prawns

Yuca Rellena
cheese-stuffed yuca with an aji Amarillo and ricotta cheese sauce


Palta Rellena de Cangrejo y Langostinos
avocado stuffed with crab and shrimp

Causa Solterito
freshly mashed yellow potatoes infused with key lime juice ans pressed into a cake with savory vegetarian toppings

Chicharron de Langostinos
crispy golden prawns studded with quinoa

Pimiento Piquillo Relleno
piquillo peppers stuffed with cotija cheese, quinoa and aged Serrano ham


Anticucho de Pollo
marinated chicken skewers

Anticucho de Corazon
marinated beef heart skewers

Conchas a la Parilla
grilled scallops dressed in garlic lime butter sauce

Tortilla de Patata Y Aioli de Aji Amarillo
Spanish-style potato frittata with an aji Amarillo aioli

Esparragos Peruanos
fresh asparagus brushed with olive oil and grilled


classic Peruvian cookie, scented with key lime and filled with manjar blanco

Trufas Perunas
authentic handmade truffles with Peruvian flavors


So the setup was small plates that were shared. Everyone had the chance to try everything. Based on the buzz in the room, I'd say the cebiche de pescado, yuca rellena, palta rellena, chicharron, piquillo relleno, and the two skewers were the most popular dishes. The only two dishes that didn't rock my world were the prawns (truthfully, I've never had a prawn I love) and the scallops, which I thought were a tad on the salty side.

The desserts were both good, but I love the alfajores. It turns out the manjar blanco is very similar to dulce de leche, and I can't pass on that! If you have a chance to try the anise truffle, go for that too!

The service was excellent and the restaurant provided extra servers for drink orders for the first hour or so of the event. The restaurant was amazingly accommodating for the people with special diets and even provided alternatives to some of the dishes for the lactose-free, gluten-free, and vegetarians in the bunch. The five year-old who was having a picky day even got his own special chicken strips, made with the quinoa coating used for the shrimp, and yuca fries! Apparently they were also excellent.

All told, we consumed many bottles of wine (the Maquis Lien was by far the crowd favorite), even more cocktails, and tons of food.

Thanks to all y'all who saw fit to attend! See you next time!