April 29, 2009

slingin' pies

Welcome to Jake's Pizza, may I take your order? A Dave's Dilemma with medium crust you say? That IS a good one...

Jake's Pizza? Dave's Dilemma? You may be wondering who and what I am speaking of. Well if you find yourself wandering out to southwest MN and end up in a small town called Montevideo, I would advise you to take a stroll the down main street and keep an eye out for a big green sign on a brick building with Jake's Pizza written on it in big white letters. Go in to this wonderful place and order some darn pizza! From pork bbq to chicken pesto, this food is worth the drive. If you don't want pizza, they've got salads, sandwiches and mexican food that serve as great substitutes. It stays close to home with an original jukebox familiar tunes around the clock.
Have you ever seen the ninja turtles eat their pizza? That reminds me of Jake's, the cheese melting down as you pull up a slice, red hearty sauce (with a secret spice recipe), and your choice of fresh toppings. Some say you have to go into chicago or new york to get the best pizza, well I have been to chicago, and new york, and although they have some good pizza, I have never found a place that has the same flavors as Jake's. Being a pizza LOVER, I can honestly say Jake's is the best I've had. Having worked there throughout high school, I can tell you, it is clean, friendly and only serves the best!

April 15, 2009

social classes, shmoshial shmlasses..

In the great day of Kings and Queens, of peasants and knights food was a large factor in separating social classes. The royal court had the luxury of eating meats like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, rabbit, venison and fish. They had sides of potatoes and vegetables. They also had the great opportunity to add spices to their meals, adding a lot of flavor. The peasants on the other hand were lucky to have pig, as hunting certain animals was not permitted for the poor. Their meals consisted of dark breads (they could not have milled flour), nuts, berries and vegetables like cabbage. Is this same idea seen today in food choices for social classes? A friend once said to me (as my father is a surgeon and his is a welder), "I was raised as a meat and potatoes guy, you're a scallops girl." This idea got me thinking. Is food really that big of an influence in our lives still today? I have come to the conclusion that it still is, but not to the extent it used to be. A big change is people have a choice today. One can go buy scallops in Target at a decent price, at the same time one can go get a steak for 90 bucks. They could also go to Burger King, as many people do, regardless of social class, for a quick meal. It has become a much more complex game; it all depends on where you get your food and how it was prepared. Even the homeless, though, can go to a shelter and have a pretty good meal on Thanksgiving. I'll leave it up to you, would you say you are meat and potatoes or scallops? or possibly both?

April 2, 2009

Quality Buffet or Restaurant?

The most common Chinese food served in America is buffet style. Some would argue that this is less flavorful than restaurant style. Is this an accurate assumption? I would say it depends on where you go. Some Chinese chefs take pride in their capabilities to serve a lot of buffet style food while keeping their traditional flavors while others prefer the slow paced formalities. I have had my lucky in neither of the two previously stated options. My luck has been in take out style Chinese. Now, this may be because I have been accustomed to taking my Chinese home in the usual Chinese take out boxes and watching movies with my Filipino father. I do find, though, that it tastes better not having sat out on a buffet all day. A big part of experiencing Chinese cuisine is aroma, health and inner spirit (this depends on which flavors you decide to eat. i.e. Sweet is Tonifying, Harmonizing, and Relaxing.) - it is more than just a meal - so eat it how you would like to eat it and don't forget a fortune cookie!

Traditional flavors included in all styles of Chinese cuisine include:
-Sesame, dandelion, kale, barley, Daikon radish, garlic, onion, scallion, seaweed, yam, and black plums. Many, many more, with a side of rice.


March 20, 2009

Italian Fast Food?

What do you think of when you think of classic Italian?
I think of fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, mozzarella cheese and flavorful pestos.
I am sure that the first thing that pops into your head is NOT Burger Kind or Hardee's Italian Chicken Sandwich. I feel sorry for the Italian chefs out there, this representation of their traditional food is a terrible one to say the least. The fast food ingredients are packed full of preservatives and NOTHING fresh, while Italian food in the first place would not be the best diet.
If you want quick Italian, maybe try places such as Noodles or Damico and Sons where they at least include some ingredients prepared that day, but not Burger Kind or Hardee's, their ingredients are shipped to them from a far away land.
When someone is really wanting to go for fast food, go with the basics, a burger and fries because their so called Italian sandwich is DISGUSTING.

March 1, 2009

I Can Smell The Ocean Air

Not only do American chefs throw their own twists into recipes from other countries, some like an even bigger challenge, searching for flavors in a completely different world - the ocean. To add to our list of foods and flavors originated in the US, lets look at seafood. Regional cuisines pertain to recipes and ingredients used in certain areas that range from New England, Manhattan, and Rhode Island clam chowder are prime examples. Notice that all of these recipes are located on the east coast, known as a place with exceptional seafood. Originally (around the mid-18th century), clam chowder consisted of just clams, broth and cream; each of the three previously mentioned chowders add different ingredients to make it their own. These ingredients include onions and bacon for the New England version. Tomato based is known as the Manhattan and Rhode Island chowders, the idea is thought to have come from Portuguese immigrants. A restaurant that really harnesses these different ideas and is known for its delectable and fresh seafood flavors is Oceanaire.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Located in multiple states around the country.
The idea the founders of Oceanaire wanted to display in their restaurant was a 1930's ocean liner. This idea really ingrains the word 'freshness' into the diners. If you think you are on the boat, you have to be eating the fish in the water surrounding you. Talk about a staff that knows their seafood too! They can tell you where each fish is found, its flavors and texture. They mark the menu each night for the fish they have to serve, only because the fish were caught so recently they do not know what they will have on stock until go-time. Although a little more pricey side, the amount of food, flavors and dining experience is worth it.

February 15, 2009

ARRRIBA!

To the man who said the U.S. has no food origins, I say, look a little deeper. Down in the big state of Texas, about 133 years ago, there was a railroad track called the TEX.MEX. track. About 45 years later this track name transferred over to the nicknames of the people born in Texas coming from Mexican descent. The food originated from these descendants as a mix between authentic Mexican and Spanish foods. Although Texas became a part of New Spain and later Mexico, in the 20th century many American touches were apart of the food to make it cheap and available. One of the local restaurants that really describes these roots is the topic for todays blog!

Pepito's Tex-Mex Bar and Grill is a regularly packed restaurant because of its good food and fun environment. Originated in March 1971, Joe and Sue Pepito began their journey of serving tex mex food and have yet to end their journey. The menu has new day mexican food written all over it; from grilled bbq chicken or veggie tacos to Pepito's bread pudding. This restaurant originated at 4280 Chicago Ave, South Mlps and is still there along with two delis in other locations around the city. This family restaurant is spreading the unique food from young to old and bringing cultures and originality through flavors together all over the world.

February 1, 2009

What to eat? What to eat?

I was sitting in the airport a few years ago and I heard someone complain, "The US doesn't have 'their own' food specialty, you know, like how china has chinese food and Italy has italian. What is America's 'special' food?" And I thought... THAT'S THE BEAUTY OF IT! We don't have a specific food speciality, we have all types of food at our very finger-tips! One could go out on any given night and choose from Tai, Japanese, Italian, French, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Cajun and more! This opens many doors for cultural diversity and unique tasting opportunities. For someone interested in culinary arts, there are an endless amount of examples and ideas at their doorstep. This is not something I would complain about, personally. Maybe the specialty is in the mixing of flavors between cultures. I'm hungry just thinking about it!

The food-type showcase for today is:
Ichiban Japanese Steak House
This incredible restaurant opened in Minneapolis in 1979; serving amazing steak and seafood, japanese style, to us for three decades. The cultural adventure starts when you pull up to the pagoda style building and enter into the restaurant. You can either go to the bar for japanese-style drinks in geisha or panda shaped cups, or head over to the sushi bar to pick up some seafood off of circulating boats, or go all out and sit down at a grill table and watch your food be cooked right in front of you. This way you can see for yourself the Japanese flavors and styles of cooking and really get the full experience.