Totally Twitterpated

Somehow, when we plan our girls holiday dinner, we always seem to end up at a steakhouse.  I guess we just all like a big slab of meat in the winter.  Usually wanting to stay on the Eastside we go to either Ruths Chris or Daniel’s.  I am {very} partial to Daniel’s Filet Mignon & creamed spinach.  *Very* partial.  I am also {very} partial to Ruths Chris lamb chops & creamed spinach.  *Very* partial.  I would have been perfectly content at either of our usual haunts.  I don’t remember who suggested that we try somewhere different, but the next thing I knew we were headed to John Howie Steak.  I had been to JHS earlier this year, but it was new to my girlfriends.  They are always up for a new dining experience.

Finding your way into the Bravern parking lot is an experience in itself.  Finding your way out of the Bravern parking lot & into your restaurant or store of choice is another experience all it’s own.  We totally & unknowingly parked at exactly the wrong end of the underground parking garage & had quite the walk from one end of Bravern to the other, winding our way through a maze of alluring storefronts & delicious smells wafting out of neighboring food establishments.  We decreed that there was to be no drinking since we would clearly need every last ounce of sensibility to retrace our steps & find our way back to the car afterwards.

JHS is HUGE.  It just keeps going & going.  And going.  But finally we were nestled into a little corner table out of the way except for a rather nosey bunch of noisy suited types sharing our little alcove.  They were fascinated that I was making images of the food.  I am not sure why…the food was beautiful.

It all started out with an adorable little cup of cold potato soup, which was entirely delicious.

 Next up:  Oysters-on-the-Half-Shell and Wild Greens & Arugula Salad

Then onto the main deal:  Filet Mignon all around please.  But it was the sides that had us all twitterpated.  Really twitterpated.

Hedgehog Mushrooms with Kurobuta Bacon & Shaved Brussel Sprouts (are you kidding me?)  ~  Maine Lobster Mashed Potatoes (ridiculous)  ~  Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar Mac & Cheese (speechless)  ~  Asparagus Spears braised in brown butter with Meyer Lemon Hollandaise (but this still counts as a vegetable, right?)

Brandan did try (in vain) to steer us away from having 4 shareable sides between the 3 of us, but we were not to be deterred.  We weren’t concerned that we might not eat every last scrap, we just wanted to taste all 4.  I must say though, we did a fine job of polishing it all off. 

 The service was awesome.  Not quite a match for Canlis, but exceedingly good.  Brandan was extremely attentive & despite being swept off his feet by tablefuls of hungry diners, he found time to squeeze in some pleasant conversation rather than just the usual waiter pitter-patter.  I am not sure that Canlis would approve of this approach, however, for us it added a whole extra dimension of dining delight to our dinner.

Two of us  had already decided pre-dinner that we were going to share Cherries Jubilee, which was created by Auguste Escoffier for one of Queen Victoria’s jubilees over in England.  Tart cherries, brown sugar, butter, Courvoisier Cognac, Chambord & cinnamon.  All flambeed & then served with vanilla ice cream.  Yeah, sounds horrible doesn’t it.  The making of the Cherries Jubilee was quite the tableside production.  Luckily for everyone involved, our cherry chef set nothing on fire except the cognac, which he did rather expertly.  Somehow, setting things on fire before you eat them adds a whole new je ne sais quoi to a meal.  Despite the alcohol being flambeed off I could still sense myself going weak-at-the-knees as I ate it.  Wow.

Our girlfriend in crime decided upon the Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ganache Tarte.  Great ganache, shame about the base of the pastry case. It was altogether too thick & made the whole tarte seem rather cumbersome.

The whole evening was rather splendid.  We were, understandably, stuffed by the time we were done.  And remarkably, the long walk back to the car proved to be a rather enjoyable hidden blessing as none of us were capable of rushing anywhere.

Thank you, Mr. Howie, for a {very} fine holiday dinner.

John Howie Steak Restaurant on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tweets that mention THANK YOU for a magnificent meal! Those hedgehog mushrooms & lobster mash - devine. -- Topsy.com - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Foodie Footnotes. Foodie Footnotes said: THANK YOU @johnhowiesteak for a magnificent meal! Those hedgehog mushrooms & lobster mash – divine. http://bit.ly/fHXMvI [...]

Foodie Favorites of 2010 » Foodie Footnotes - [...] Dinner | John Howie Steak [...]

520 Rush » Foodie Footnotes - [...] past it’s always been a steak-apalooza in Bellevue – Daniel’s, Ruths Chris or John Howie Steak.  Last year, the 2010 Holiday Dinner reinvented itself as the 2011 Holiday Brunch.  This year I [...]

What A Dork! - Foodie Footnotes - [...] Or Neil.  Although honestly, if I am going to pay $18 for a burger, I could head over to John Howie Steak & get all that plus a lush place to sit & service comparable to that which you would [...]

Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona (take 3)

I thought for approximately 1/2 a second about changing the name of the restaurant on this post in an attempt to try & confuse you into thinking that I actually ventured somewhere different for breakfast today.  Then I thought, “It’s my Christmas Day & I’ll go to the Cup Cafe again if I want to!”  So I did.  I have no shame.  In my defence I did try to go somewhere else.  I had it all figured out & everything.  The lone problem was, not only was the spot that I picked not open, neither was anywhere else.  Except Cup Cafe.  Cup Cafe, take 3.

When I wandered into Cup Cafe this morning my eyes met with an amazing sight.  Every single table that was occupied, was inhabited by a party of {exactly} one.  Every single one.  I couldn’t decide if that was scary, sad or comforting.  So since I got to choose, I’ll go with comforting.  Maybe restaurants only exist on Christmas Day purely to serve single people who need to do something to get out of the house?  Whatever…I was secretly {very} happy to be back in the land of {perfect} Baked Eggs.

Rebecca came over & asked me what on the menu sounded good; to which there was only one possible reply.  ”Everything”.  The second thing that came out of my mouth was, “If I order Baked Eggs, do not bring me any”.  I was determined to try something else on the menu & I had already decided what that something else should be:  Croque Senor, which I learned yesterday was a Mexican-style Croque Monsieur with extra cheeses on top & Dijon mustard within.  Yum.  Dustin warned me yesterday that the Croque Senor was huge.  When it arrived in front of me I concurred.  He most definitely was not lying.

Cup Cafe's Croque Senor

Being Christmas Day I decided that I needed to have a Christmassy hot chocolate, so Rebecca brought me Peppermint Hot Cocoa.  It was the perfect Christmas morning comfort drink.  And a Croque Senor is unquestionably a very comfort-inducing breakfast.  I am still not entirely sure about the Dijon mustard, but given that it wasn’t meant to be a classic Croque Monsieur,  but rather a Mexican-style version, I went with it.

While I was supping my minty cocoa & chowing down my huge ham & (triple) cheese sandwich, I busied my mind with reading some more of Jenny Holzer’s quips off the wall.  Here are a few of today’s favorites:

“Thinking too much can only cause problems”…”Fear is the greatest incapacitator”…”Disorganisation is a kind of anaesthesia”…”Guilt & self-laceration are indulgences”…”It can be helpful to keep going, no matter what”.

 Yeah, my mind was busy.  So busy in fact that I swear I burned off a whole bunch of calories while I sat right there.  So despite the fact that I had {very} recently downed a particularly large ham & cheese sandwich, I still wanted Baked Eggs.  Hey, it’s my Christmas Day & I’ll have 2 breakfasts if I want to!  So I did.  I have no shame.

Cast Iron Baked Eggs, just as fantastic the 3rd time

 I did have Rebecca leave the potatoes in the kitchen & went with the English muffin again, since you get only half as much as when you have the sourdough.  When the magical skillet arrived bearing it’s eggy gifts the whole thing was sizzling wildly.  I knew it would be a while before my mouth was going to be able to claim the prize.  So it seemed entirely appropriate to sip on some Dry Desert Lime herbal tea while I gazed lovingly at my bubbling cheesy goodness.

As I sat looking out of the window it suddenly occurred to me that it just didn’t feel like Christmas Day.  Maybe it was the blue-sky-and-sunshine weather.  I could almost pretend that it wasn’t Christmas…except for the endless stream of text messages wishing me a very merry one.  For which I am truly {very} thankful!!

The Cast Iron Baked Eggs were every bit as delicious as the previous two incarnations I had scoffed down the previous two days.  I think they may have been a little bit more delicious just because it was Christmas day.  You know how that goes.  A special day can magically make everything taste better.

Just as I was wiping the last drops of cheesy yumminess from the bottom of the skillet with a chunk of English muffin, & party of 10 arrived carrying large baskets filled to the brim with all manner of Christmas stuff.  They were soon seated, the table complete with mini Christmas Tree, their heads complete with crazy hats & their hands full of gifts galore.  How fun is that?!  But seriously, now is the time for me to head out.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Maximilian - I loved these.

Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona

I just didn’t have Tucson pegged as one of America’s foodie meccas.  I am not entirely sure why not.  Maybe because I’ve never heard Tucson mentioned much in connection with food.  Thinking about it, I’ve never heard it mentioned at all.  So imagine my {utter} delight when I was completely wowed by a fantastic foodie mecca this morning.  Or, as John Dillinger so famously said in 1934:  “Well, I’ll be darned”.

I was perusing Urbanspoon Tucson last night, hoping to pick out a sweet spot for breakfast & during my virtual poking around I fairly randomly checked out a couple of  menus.  On my second menu I only managed to get down to the third item before I’d made my mind up exactly where I was headed at 6:30 am: Cup Cafe at the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson.  Here’s the magic words that had me drooling:

  Cast Iron Baked Eggs - two eggs, ham, leeks, and Gruyère cheese, baked in cream, with fines herbes

Absolutely no need to read one more word on any other menu.  I immediately wanted to go to bed early so that morning would come quicker, bringing with it those delicious-sounding Baked Eggs.  I didn’t, but I {really, really} wanted to.

Just like yesterday’s lunch I drove straight to Hotel Congress like I actually knew where I was going.  I think I was on auto-pilot with my nose steering me like a guided missile heading towards its yummy target.  I swear I could smell the leeks before I even got out of the condo driveway.  I rolled up & parked right in the courtyard behind the hotel.  I was expecting it to be busy, being 2 days before Christmas, but Cup Cafe was almost empty.  I did arrive 2 seconds after they opened up the doors.  Maybe that was why.

First up:  hot chocolate.  Beautifully served with cream & chocolate sauce on top.  Hey, it’s Christmas week, of course I want the cream & chocolate sauce.  It arrived at my table in record time & was warm & delicious with its hint of cinnamon.  That was a lovely festive surprise.

Winter Warmers served up at Cup Cafe

 My Cast Iron Baked Eggs arrived at an amazing speed.  I was surprised all over again.  They came cradled in their very own cast iron skillet which registered a temperature of at least 3 thousand degrees.  Along with the Eggs came a cup (how cute!!) of chunky potatoes, onions & bell peppers.  The whole thing looked awesome.  I couldn’t wait to get started…but there was that 3 thousand degree thing to deal with.  Patience was definitely a virtue this morning.

Potatoes served with the breakfast entrees in a cup...at Cup Cafe

My patience was aided by contemplating Jenny Holzer’s Pearls of Wisdom which covered an entire wall.  Such quips as “Enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway” and “Emotional responses are as valuable as intellectual responses”.  Way to start a Thursday!  If only you knew where my head had been on Wednesday. 

 As soon as the molten Gruyère cheese had cooled just enough to not blister my lips on contact, I dug right in.  Heavens to Betsy.  Cup Cafe, if you were in Seattle you’d be giving the Baked Eggs served up at Cafe Presse a run for their money, even though they are utterly different.  Who knew two versions of Baked Eggs could be so downright diverse, but equally as divine?  The only thing that might give Cafe Presse the edge is the fresh baguette & butter to sop up all that runny, eggy goodness.  Cup Cafe’s bread offerings could do with a little upgrade.

 

Cast Iron Baked Eggs: Oh my, can breakfast really be this good?

 

The eggs, by the time I had exposed them from underneath their sumptuous cheesy, leeky, hammy, creamy, herby blanket, had yolks that were a little harder than I would have liked, but when you serve eggs in a skillet at 3 thousand degrees its understandable that they just keep on cooking right there on the table.  Yes, I am being picky…desperately trying to find anything that was not perfect about this skillet full of deliciousness.  I made it last as long as I possibly could.  I could {very} easily have eaten another skilletful right then & there.

 As I sat there savouring the last morsel of magnificence in my mouth I realized that it was the day before Christmas Eve.  That was all the reason that I needed to follow my divine Baked Eggs with Double Chocolate Pudding.  Cup Cafe are famous in Tucson for their pastries, so really, I didn’t have a lot of choice now did I.  Miss Connie will be {very} proud of me.  Miss Connie thinks each & every meal should include dessert.

Double Chocolate Pudding - perfect with breakfast

 Sitting in the window of Cup Cafe with a cup of Double Chocolate Pudding watching the sun peek over the Catalina Mountains was just delightful.  I can’t think of many nicer ways to start a day.  It will be a {very} long time before I forget my first Big Breakfast Adventure in Tucson.

Bon appetit indeed!

Update:  I confess.  I went back to Cup Cafe today & despite almost being wooed away by their Croque Senor (which according to barman extraordinaire Dustin is a huge Croque Monsieur with 2 different types of cheese added on top… sounds horrible, right?) I ate those Cast Iron Baked Eggs all over again.  Hey, I am only in Tucson for a week, and who knows when I will be back?  Maybe never.  So I gotta get my fill of these Baked Eggs while I can.  This time I dispensed with the hot chocolate & the Double Chocolate Pudding & swapped out the sourdough for an English muffin.

Dustin ceremoniously presented my scrumptious skillet in front of me.  5 minutes later he came back to my end of the bar, took one look at my un-touched eggs, leaned over & commented:  “Yep.  The only bad thing about those Baked Eggs is waiting for them to cool down enough to eat them”.  You read my mind, Dustin.  Seriously, I could eat these Baked Eggs every darn day & be perfectly content.

Perfectly.

Sat there at the Cup Cafe bar with my perfect breakfast, I was whisked back to my first ever Baked Eggs.  Every once in a while my mother made Baked Eggs.  Maybe twice a year, maybe only once.  She used to grill bacon and then cut the rashers up into small pieces & sprinkle them on the top of the eggs just before bringing the dishes to the table.  I can still feel the joy that the sight of those little pink ramekin dishes brought to me.  I can see those dishes in my mind right now.  I expect that they still survive in my mother’s kitchen to this day.  The more I ponder those little pink dishes the more I think that my mother’s Baked Eggs may have been when my love affair with double (heavy) cream began all those decades ago.

“Well, I’ll be darned”.

Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Foodie Favorites of 2010 » Foodie Footnotes - [...] Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona [...]

After Weeks of Taunting » Foodie Footnotes - [...] be so entirely different in different restaurants.  I love them all.  This was no exception.  Baked Eggs just make me [...]

Amanda @ oven&apron - I loved your post on the baked eggs at Cup Cafe! I’m from Tucson originally, but just went to the Cup for the first time a few weeks ago and I ordered the baked eggs. They were so good! Since I had them, I’ve been itching to recreate them in my own kitchen. I’m working on a recipe right now, and if you’re interested, you can look for the post on my blog next Saturday!

carrie - I think I love you, Amanda!!!!

Philly: Just 5 inches from Mexico

There’s something a teensy bit odd going on here.  Here I am, just 5 inches from Mexico & so far I’ve eaten Californian, Italian & Thai.  So you, like me, might be wondering 1. When the heck I am going to get around to eating some Mexican food & 2. What on earth I am doing at East Coast Super Subs, home of the best Philly Cheese Steaks outside of Philadelphia - which is not that far off of being as remote from Tucson as you can get while still being in the same country.

This was all Mike Harris’ idea.  I blame him entirely.  I was completely oblivious to the existence of East Coast Super Subs in Tucson until Mike popped up on my Facebook with a little note:

“If you make it to Tucson, stop in East Coast Super Subs for a legitimate Philly food experience before you leave. Tell Keith (owner) or Mark, that Mike Harris from NJ sent you :-) “

Given that I am very good with instructions (oh that’ll make my HR department laugh), lunch on my first day in Tucson just had to be a Philly Cheese Steak at East Coast Super Subs.  Despite not being Mexican or anything even vaguely like it.  This is probably a good time to mention that I had never eaten a Philly Cheese Steak before, so I was going into this a bit blind…but really, how could thinly sliced steak, melted cheese & grilled onions on a freshly baked hoagie roll possibly be bad?  I’d always wanted to try one, but had never quite managed to be hungry at the same time that one was available & on offer.  Today was a big day.

My Dear Foodie Footnotes Readers will know that I find driving in Seattle without getting lost or having to turn around a tad challenging.  And I live there.  So will someone please explain to me how I drove straight from the condo to 187 N. Park Avenue without doing either?  I have never been to Tucson before.  Not even close to Tucson before.  Oh, and I didn’t have a map.  I tell you, if I am anywhere other than Seattle you’d think I must have been a homing pigeon in a former life.

I have to say I am not sure that there are many Sub Shops that look like quite like this one.  Especially in Philadelphia :-)

 If you’re ever in Tucson, swing by…it’s worth a trip just to visit the store, with it’s riotously decorated interior which is amazingly larger than you might imagine from the outside.  You could sit in there for weeks & not get bored of looking at all the paraphernalia hanging from every surface.

I found a table & not long afterwards an adorable young lady bounced over to get me a drink.  The menu is a sight to behold & if you’ve never eaten a Cheese Steak before it might be a complete mystery.  It was to me.  Luckily my drink arrived along with some tips to navigate the enormous list of options.  In the end I simply went with the East Coast Super Subs #1 seller:  The Broad Street Bully.  Turns out this is a Cheese Steak sub with extra steak & extra cheese.  Cheese Steak on steroids – sounded great to me.  Especially with a half order of french fries.  Yeah, just wait until you see how big a half order is.

The Broad Street Bully Sub

A half order of french fries. FANTASTIC french fries I might add.

 While I was munching on my french fries (which incidentally were some of the best french fries I have ever eaten…awesome down to the very last fry) owner Keith came out to say “Hi”, having heard that Mike Harris had sent some strange camera-toting chick over.  Shortly after chatting with Keith, Mark came out.  Great guys.  Down-to-earth, sub-lovin’, laid-back, fun-thinkin’, wide-smilin’ guys. Fantastic hospitality.

Mark (right) & some of the East Coast Super Subs Crew

Owner Mark doing what he does best: Cheese Steak King

ECSS has quite the philosophy on running their business:

  • We will treat each customer like family
  • We buy and serve the highest quality food
  • The founder and owners make every sandwich with care

‘Nuff said.  So here’s just one more look at that Cheese Steak on steroids.

 Beloved by Philly Cheese Steak connoisseurs all over Tucson, I suggest that you hustle right on over next time you’re in the University area.

Tell Keith & Mark that cb from Foodie Footnotes sent you.

East Coast Super Subs on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Shirley Guzman - This is an excellent post.

Where have you been all my life?

I have a new favorite food & I am speechless.  How did I get to be on this planet for {quite} so long before I discovered Thai food?  I have totally lost count of the number of times friends have asked me if I liked Thai food & my response had always been that I’d never had it.  Everyone said it was good and yet I’d never had it.  Leave it to Shawn to {yet again} introduce me to weird stuff that I had never heard of before.  He has a knack for that.  He introduced me to sushi.  I have so much to thank the man for, and now here’s one more thing to add to the growing list.

What is the object of my latest foodie passion?  Tom Ka Gai.  Where did I eat it?  Thai House Restaurant in Mesa, Arizona.

Tom Ka Gai: heaven in a bowl

 There were 6 of us – Shawn, his wife, 2 of his children & one of his nieces…a {particularly} cheeky chick in a hot fuchsia t-shirt & sporting bright blue fingernails.  A lot of laughing was guaranteed.  And I was prepared for that.

I was {completely} un-prepared for the taste-bud ecstasy that was about to explode in my mouth over the next 45 minutes.  Completely un-prepared.  I don’t even want to write about it.  I just want to eat it.  Again.  And again.  And again.  My first New Year resolution?  Find the best Thai food in Seattle.  And go often.  I just checked on Urbanspoon & there are around 305 Thai restaurants in Seattle.  I think 2011 is going to be a {seriously} tasty year.

We had other things apart from the Tom Ka Gai.  I barely remember them although I do remember that they were good.  I was just utterly smitten with this soup:  white chicken meat with mushrooms, cabbage & Thai spices in coconut milk.  Shawn tells me that one of the spices is Lemongrass.  Whatever it is I have never tasted anything quite like it.  I certainly can’t describe it other than to say that it is one of the most divine flavors I have ever had the pleasure of inhaling.  I say inhale because I ate probably 4 bowls of the stuff.  We had ordered 2 large bowls to share between the 6 of us.  I could have just eaten the 2 large bowls of soup myself & been entirely & absurdly blissful.  I wish I had a way to adequately express my enthusiasm for this soup.  My dining companions laughed at me.  I didn’t care.  This whole thing is, after all, all your fault Shawn.

Mus-sa-mun: tasty peanut curry

Orange Chicken

Pad Thai: very different noodles with crushed peanuts

Pork Garlic & Pepper

A whole plate of Thai tastiness

Tom Ka Gai: the big bowl

 I am not going to lie.  It wasn’t quite all harp-playing angels.  When we got to dessert, after I had inhaled an inordinate amount of Tom Ka Gai (stopping just short of licking the bowl) it all went sideways really quickly.  Now I understand that this is a traditional Thai dessert & I know nothing about Thai desserts, but I still have to say that this dish was just nasty to me.  The sticky rice was like eating cold 5-day-old rice pudding & the custard was just wrong.  I had serious texture issues with the entire thing.  I am glad I tried it, but I won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

Sticky Rice & Thai custard: the point at which it all went sideways

 However I am simply not going to let that color my new-found love of Thai food in the slightest.  If you have never had Thai food, please go try it.  If you love Thai food, I now know exactly why you rave about it.

Shawn:  THANK YOU.  My taste-buds adore you.

Thai House Restaurant:  I will never forget my first Thai dining experience or your Tom Ka Gai.

Thai House on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

More Green than Ginger » Foodie Footnotes - [...] my tastebuds.  There was something in that curry that had the exact same flavor as my cherished Tom Ka Gai.  I don’t know what it was.  I know they both have coconut milk in, but I am sure that [...]

Mad About | The Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger » Foodie Footnotes - [...] from London to spend a long weekend in Phoenix with Shawn & his family.  That’s Shawn of December’s Thai fame.  And the same Shawn that introduced me to the reality of Roadrunners.  During this [...]

A {very} Dashing Dog » Foodie Footnotes - [...] is THE best place to get a great paw rub.  I’d just want to eat.  Remember my first Thai food experience back in December?  Yeah.  Thailand sounds good to me, with or without paw [...]

More Green than Ginger » Marmalade and Mile Posts - [...] my tastebuds.  There was something in that curry that had the exact same flavor as my cherished Tom Ka Gai.  I don’t know what it was.  I know they both have coconut milk in, but I am sure that [...]