Food Travel America / Hawaii / SFO / The South

Leftovers 2014

I constantly feel like I’m behind on posting. I always have 2-3 posts pending…

So by the time I catch up on old posts from the end of the past year, I feel like I’m way too far into the new year to post my leftovers from the previous year. But this year, I decided it didn’t matter. So although it’s February, I am going to post my list of the places I ate in 2014 that were note worthy, but weren’t mentioned anywhere else.

Last January I was in Hawaii, where one of the most memorable things of the trip was being there for 13 days and it rained for 11 of them…

I thought I’d included all the spots for Hawaii, but realized I left out Izakaya Gaku in Honolulu. I wouldn’t say it was on my favourite list, nor would it be high on my list to return, but I do remember loving their Hawaiian red tuna sashimi and tuna poke.

"Honolulu Izakaya Gaku ahi sashimi"

"Honolulu Izakaya Gaku ahi poke"

In March, I took a weekend trip to Napa, which I documented well, but never mentioned the one fantastic meal I had on my night in San Francisco before flying home.

Judy Rogers’ roast chicken at the Zuni Cafe has been on my list to try for many years. I’m sorry that Judy passed before I visited, but I’m sure she is still watching over Zuni’s wood fire oven as they roast 100’s of chickens a night. The finished bird, carefully cut and place it on top of a bread salad deserves to be known as iconic. And yeah, the shoestring potatoes are a nice snack to have while you’re waiting an hour for your chicken.

"SFO Zuni Cafe chicken"

"SFO Zuni Cafe shoestring fries"

In May, I took a quick roadie down to Portland for the weekend, but on the drive home north, I stopped to catch a Seattle Mariners game. When I’m in Seattle I always make my way to the Pike Place Market. This time, I  had to stop when I noticed the sea urchin sold in cups, ready to eat at City Fish Market. These giant lobes were milky sweet and made my mouth so happy. There’s a reason why uni is one of my top 3 favourite foods.

"Seattle City Fish Market uni"

 

In June, I was in Charleston for my cousin Zach’s wedding. There was so much great eating, I just couldn’t keep up. I realized that I missed writing about the Hominy Grill, on everyone’s list as a Charleston “must”.

 

"Charleston Hominy Grill fried chicken"

Nasty biscuit with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy

"Charleston Hominy Grill brisket"

Brisket and slaw sandwich

"Charleston Hominy grill shrimp grits"

Shrimp and cheese grits with sautéed scallions, mushrooms and bacon

"Charleston Hominy Grill greens"

Vegetable plate with collard greens, lima beans and Charleston red rice

Charleston Hominy Grill

After Charleston, it was on to Nashville to spend a few days with cousin Alex. After many hours in the car to get there, I was happy my first stop to grab food was at Mas Tacos Por Favor, where Alex was working (at the time). The tacos were delicious, especially the fried avocado one, but what stole my heart was the elote. I love corn, and in the elote form, (mayonaise is spread over cobs and then covered in cotija cheese), I always want to order it. But after a bad (stomach) experience in Oaxaca a few years back, I (probably) won’t ever order it off a street cart in Mexico again. The Mas Tacos version was grilled (a bonus) and had great hints of lime.

"Nashville Mas Tacos"

"Nashville Mas Tacos avocado"

Nashville Mas Tacos elote corn

I was in Nashville for my birthday and while my indulgent dinner at Husk was documented, I never wrote about the great burger I had for lunch at Burger Up.

Cooked medium rare, topped with pimento cheese with a side of truffle fries, this is what I dream about when I crave a good burger. The side of pickle chips were pretty amazing as well and I think I had an elbow up as I ate them because I didn’t want to share the plate with anyone else.

"Nashville Burger Up"

 

"Nashville Burger Up pickles"

It was hot in Nashville, so I spent most of my time wandering in and out of bars listening to music during the day. My favourite was Roberts Western World for the music and their Recession special. For $5, you can get a fried bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, a PBR (beer) and a moon pie.

"Nashville Roberts Western bologna sandwich"

Nashville Roberts Western

 

When in Nashville, of course you have to go out for barbecue. I’d read an article put out by Travel and Leisure listing Nashville as America’s best city for barbecue, a controversial choice, I’m sure, but it definitely put bbq on top of things I had to eat while I was there.

Alex chose Martin’s Bar-be-que Joint, known as the “Temple of Meat” and it was exactly what I was hoping for. This is the type of place you put your elbows on the table and just start bringing the meat up to you mouth, stopping only to have a swig of beer to cut through the grease.

"Nashville Martins barbeque tray"

Big Momma Sampler with 4 bones, 1/4 lb pork, 1/4 lb brisket, sides of beans and coleslaw and 2 pieces of Texas toast to soak up all the goodness.

"Nashville Martins bologna sandwich"

As much as I liked the bbq, I kept going back to this fried bologna sandwich. Dipped in  some Alabama white sauce, I was in heaven. Sometimes I have the feeling I have a bit of redneck buried deep within me.

"Nashville Martins Barbecue split pig"

"Nashville Martins bbq"

Ever since I’d watched Sean Brock go through excruciating but somewhat joyous pain eating Nashville hot chicken on an episode of Mind of  A Chef, I knew it was something I was curious to try. Now I will admit here, that I like spicy foods, but spicy foods don’t like me back. Over the years, I’ve become smarter with my body and have eased off ordering anything too spicy, but there was something about Nashville hot chicken that was calling to me. It just so happened that I was in Nashville for the 4th of July, which is when they hold the Nashville Hot Chicken Festival. We were looking for something fun to do to celebrate the 4th and this seemed like it.

The line-ups were crazy for the chicken, so we divided and conquered. I waited in line for the most famous Prince’s Hot Chicken, while Alex came back with hot chicken and fish from Boltons Spicy Chicken and Fish. We were lucky that she was able to jump the horrendously long queue for beer, so we had something to wash the pain down with.

Hot chicken isn’t a fried hotter version of a Buffalo wing. It’s chicken, coated in spices, fried and then smeared with a hot pepper paste. It’s hotter than anything I’ve ever eaten, but is absolutely delicious. There was something so addictive about it, and even when I was in pain consuming it, I couldn’t stop eating. There was a point where I felt almost euphoric in eating it. I knew I should have stopped, but couldn’t… and yes, my body hated me afterwards.

 

"Nashville Princes Hot Chicken"

Prince’s Hot Chicken, served medium hot at the festival was definitely the better of the two.

"Nashville hot chicken festival boltons"

While I didn’t enjoy the “flavour” of the Bolton’s chicken as much, their pickles were sweeter and helped my burning mouth.

"Nashville Hot Chicken festival Boltons fish"

Just as spicy and addictive, the Hot Fish from Boltons was fried crisp, while the fish stayed tender inside.

"Nashville Hot Chicken festival"

The watermelon did nothing to cool down the hurt.

The watermelon did nothing to cool down the hurt.

In November while I was in LA, I had a few hours to kill in the morning out by LAX, so I headed over to Playa Del Rey to check out Playa Provisions. I was a fan of Brooke Williamson from Top Chef Seattle, and then again from the Duels show. I know she’s talented, and although I’ve wanted to do a more substantial meal, that hasn’t been in the cards for me in LA. At the very least, I knew that I’d get a good “California” breakfast from here.

 

"Playa Provisions"

The breakfast sandwich and yogurt were both delicious, but the dulce de leche served withe scone is what’ll remind me to return.

Night + Market on Sunset has been on my list to try for a few years now, but it’s never seemed to work out. This year I pushed, and I was happy I did. The dishes were unique and the flavours reminded me of being on a beach somewhere in Thailand. I loved the space, the cocktails and for the most part the service. My only quip was that when I asked what the dominant herbal flavour in the catfish tamale was, the server wouldn’t tell me, nor would he find out for me. When pressed, the server said “chef doesn’t want to give away his secrets”. It really just seemed ridiculous to me and something that still annoys me 3 months later. Other than that one thing, I really did have a good time there.

"NIght Market LA nam khao tod"

Nam Khao Tod – crispy rice salad w/ soured pork, raw ginger, onion, peanuts, cilantro, chile – Not as good as Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas) but amazing nonetheless.

"Night Market LA beef grapow"

Beef grapow – chile, garlic, thai basil. topped w/ a crispy fried egg – ordered on the server’s recommendation, I think I could have found something else on the menu I would have liked more.

"Night Market LA rice noodles"

Pad kee mao – drunken noodles with short ribs, chile, basil and garlic looked simple, but had great “hot wok” flavour.

"Night Market LA tamale"

Catfish tamale with pork fat baked in a banana leaf with chile and “herbs”. I loved this unique dish but it drove me crazy not to know what the distinctive herb was that completely made the dish for me.

"Night Market LA"

 

 Well that’s most of my year’s worth of leftovers. Oaxaca’s delicious leftovers to follow…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s