Thursday, October 25, 2007

My First Taste of Southern Food in the South

I spent a short week visiting friends in Birmingham, Alabama September 16-20. They promised to take me to the places to experience Southern cooking. Here's my review:

Wednesday night: dinner at Chick-Fil-A
Now, I had never eaten at an official full-sized Chick-Fil-A, but did work at a food court version in my university days. I was the Chick-Fil-A chick. My friend took me there and said that she ate there at least once a week. I hadn't eaten there since my college days so I was game. I got the 8-piece chicken nugget meal with coleslaw, wedge-cut fries and sweet tea (though it was really 1/2 sweet and 1/2 unsweet). It was good, but I'm still not fond of those kinds of fries. I of course chose the honey mustard dipping sauce as I rememberd that was my favorite, or was it the sweet and sour. Hmmm. . . I just don't remember.

Thursday night: dinner at Jim 'n Nick's BBQ

I went out with the entire family: Nick (not of Jim 'n Nick's fame), CanCan, JoJo and baby D. Collard Greens were on the menu and as I have never eaten the Southern version, I thought I would ask how they were prepared. What I wasn't prepared for was the waitress's dumbfounded look.

Ehem. "She's from California," CanCan spoke up.

"Ahh. . . Well, first we pick them out of the garden, then we wash the dirt off of them. . ."

Me, "How do you cook them?"

"Oohh. . . We boil them with seasonings and fatback, and add pork. That's it. How do you prepare them?"

Me, "I cut off the leaves, then cut the stems and leaves into pieces and stir fry them in a skillet with garlic."

"Well, I never thought of cooking it that way!"

Me, "It's the Asian way."

CanCan ended up requesting a sample for me. Let's just say I was glad I ordered the side of creamed spinach with my BBQ Chicken sandwich.
Friday lunch: Surin West in downtown Birmingham
Friday dinner: Dale's Southern Grill

The Curse of Chef Gordon Ramsey

I have become a fan of watching Kitchen Nightmares, starring Chef Gordon Ramsey, and now I found myself analyzing all my food from restaurants with a fine-tooth comb.

The lettuce is brown and wilted. . . The meatballs are cold and taste re-heated. . . Is this pasta freshly cooked? . . This fried okra is tasteless. . . Only three pickle slices and chicken on this sandwich?

. . . and so on. . .

It's now a habit: possibly a bad one? But I must admit, like Chef Ramsey, I enjoy good food that's prepared well. I don't need anything fancy schmancy, though. I would much rather eat my own if I only get semi-good food by eating out.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Roasted potatoes with onions

Oh, I wish I had smell-o-vision because roasting potatoes with onions, sweet potatoes and garlic is such a mouth-drool inducing scent.

Here's the nitty gritty.

I cut up chunks of red potatoes, sweet potatoes, red onions, and peeled 1 bulb of garlic. It all got tossed with olive oil and garlic salt/pepper. I laid it out in a cookie sheet with sides. Oven temp. was 350. They roasted for 1 hour? I can't remember exactly. I just pulled them out when I couldn't stand not eating them anymore.

Let me tell you, they were deee-li-cious! Yummy in my tummy.