Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Weekly Eats Eight (2/29 - 3/6)

Travel: Potato Bhajji Dosa at Curryblossom Cafe in Chapel Hill, NC

We took a tiny little trip to Chapel Hill with our friend last week and discovered some new spots that we will definitely be returning to! First stop was an appetizer, in liquid form, at the Lantern Restaurant - the perfect house sake martini with thinly mandolined cucumber in the midst of a well-lit red-lanterned bar. The atmosphere reminded me of a scene in Only God Forgives and from what I can tell, this restaurant left much more of a good impression. The restaurant's creator has also written a cookbook for those of you interested - Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes.

Next stop was Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, tucked away in a sultry alley off the beloved Franklin Street. We walked into the "bar entrance", which consisted of some taps, bottles, and desserts, and one of my most coveted gluten-free beers caught my eyes high up on a shelf (thank god) - Omission IPA. I've never seen this beer in NC and was only lucky enough to receive one in a free prize bundle from them last summer, so I was certainly thrilled about this! Curryblossom has a note on their menu that everything is GF (minus samosas and breads like naan, of course) and that anything vegetarian can be made vegan. That being said, I had a ton of options, but I opted for this potato bhajji dosa that was basically the size of my forearm. I couldn't tell you the last time I had Indian food, mostly because I always prefer making it at home, but I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy dining experience. Plus this dosa was tops. I absolutely can't wait to return and try something new!

Travel: Vieux Carre at The Crunkleton in Chapel Hill, NC

Truth time: I have quite a few books. Something in the ballpark of 200+ if we include cookbooks. A fair amount of these also happen to be booze related - historical writings, recipe books, and all around guides to having/tending to a bar. This is my excuse for knowing about weird drinks that aren't on your common drink list. I'm still stuck on/in love with The Bar Book - an A-Z compendium of spirits, brief bits of their histories and how they're made, plus recipes sneaked in between. Plus I love anything in alphabetical order. So somewhere in the "B" section I stumbled upon Benedictine and snuggled next door was a recipe for the Vieux Carre. This herbal French liqueur was created by monks many moons ago, and creates a perfectly balanced cocktail when combined with rye, cognac, vermouth, and two types of bitters. Enough ranting - I was beyond thrilled to find this on the menu at the Crunkleton, which might be the coolest bar I've ever had the pleasure of being at. With over 500 spirits, the possibilities are endless, but I decided to go for my coveted Benedictine twice - the second in a Rye Monk cocktail featuring Green Chartreuse, Apple Brandy, as well as bitters. The atmosphere has the cozy feel of a library, the kind where you'd like to stay all night. We had such a great time there that I'm already plotting my return, and exactly what drinks I'll try next!

So I sort of failed at cooking last week and ate out far more than I'd ever like to allow again. But after an unexpected nine hour work day, I still managed/forced myself to break out a cauliflower pizza with my leftover cauli. I've had this type of crust before, made by some friends, but have never actually tried it myself. It was so dead simple to make, much easier than a traditional GF yeasted dough, but I think next time I will make the crust much thinner. It was cooked all the way through, but still a tad mealy for my tastes. Then again, I'll never turn down homemade pizza like this. We topped ours with good store-bought pizza sauce with no crazy ingredients, peppers and mushrooms which were pre-cooked slightly before baking, and a ton of the best dried herbs. My favorite pizza herbs are basil, oregano, pinch of thyme, fennel seeds (this is key), Italian herbs, and crushed red pepper flakes. I honestly just might need to invest in Penzey's pizza seasoning, which seems to have a lot of fennel in it, so they know how to do it well.

I've been craving this healthy salad since I saw it on this lovely blog, and it did not disappoint. You could change up the greens on this, or make it with all cabbage for a tangy slaw. I used half romaine and half red cabbage, but I think this would make a great kale salad if you massaged the dressing in. The crunch of the sweet peppers and red cabbage are a great addition, plus super healthy edamame and peanuts. Now onto this dressing...this dressing that tastes like peanut sauce but is most definitely not that, at all. Instead there's tahini paste, red curry paste, some tamari, rice vinegar, etc. that all make up this incredible power house salad. I might have to use this sauce again as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or to glaze tofu with. This will make a great lunch too - just pack the dressing separate - and I might add some cold quinoa too next time!

Snacks: Salmon Sushi Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I think it's so funny how food cravings work for people. For me, sometimes I can be dead set on getting my hands on the new vegan Ben & Jerry's (still haven't seen it) or getting a basket of my favorite fries outside. Other times, I daydream fondly of something but am honestly too lazy to go get it or make it. Sunday, the man got a craving for sushi after he peeped the new sushi burrito trend that's going on right now. And there was no silence of this until we had the sashimi in the basket, alongside some toasted nori, avocado, and peanut sauce. I thought it was pretty cute to be honest. Luckily I still had a bag of sushi rice, so he whipped up some amazing rolls. He didn't use a recipe but it's essentially - cooked/cooled sushi rice, sashimi, avocado, cucumber, sriracha, black/white sesame seeds, some peanut sauce. Roll and cut! I was amazed that I could still roll sushi even though I've only made it once - and I think this was a sign that it certainly needs to happen more often.

Looking ahead: my budget will be fairly tight this week, so I'll be trying not to cook anything frivolous until I can afford to. I'm looking forward to simple meals based on things like pantry ingredients, such as rice and beans. I felt a little uninspired this past week, so I'm hoping that going back to basic things will reinvigorate me this week. I have some new cookbooks too that I hope to be cooking from very soon! I can't wait to write some more about my little food and booze travels. Thanks for reading :) 

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