The Air Force has yummy potatoes

Actually it’s “twisted taters”. I went to my very first Air Force football game this past weekend and was surprised to encounter such yummy smells in the air. Besides the standard hot dog and burger stands, they also offered cinnamon roasted almonds, a copy cat “dippin’ dots”, hot chocolate and my favorite… twisted taters, among other things.

I wish I had been brave enough to pull out my camera at the concessions area to show you how these things are made. They have a small hand power drill rigged to a table where the potato guy sticks a potato, skin and all. The thing spins super fast against a cutting blade and when it’s all finished, they throw the potato pile into a fryer. You end up with basically a really cool looking string of potato chips. They as much fun to look at as they are to eat. There was also the option to add chee and or chili (just like their curly fries), however I opted to try them plain on the first go.

Twisted Taters

Twisted Taters photo by Jen Goode

Look at this huge box of food! I walked away feeling like I got a bargain for my buck… then I sat down with the rest of the family only to find 1 potato doesn’t last long at all.

So delicious.

If Bob Marley had a flavor

Ever wonder what the Reggae king would taste like? Ask for a Bob Marley the next time you’re near a well stocked liquor stash and you might find out. This stack of drinks was made in Nigril, Jamaica and was unexpectedly potent. There are a number of recipes you can find online, but none of them seem to have this combination of flavors, fruity and minty all at once.

Bob Marley shot

Bob Marley shot photo by Jen Goode

There are two versions, the safe and friendly and the pass out quickly… according to my sources anyway. Both start off with a layer of grenadine, then add banana liquor and top with a mint liquor. The more potent version has an added layer of Sambucca (or some other licorice liquor) which is hardly recognizable until the floor begins to spin. I’m no light weight, yet I found this shot to be both delicious and deadly.

Just remember, don’t over do it when you party with Bob.

Little bit of Japan in Jamaica

I recently visited Jamaica for a group family vacation at the Beaches resort. There were 4 restaurants to choose from, one of which was Japanese hibachi style dining. The entertainment was more fun (we had a happy singing chef) than the entree as the main meal was fairly standard… pork, chicken,steak with lots of rice with veggies. It was cooked well and had lots of flavor, but nothing out of the ordinary or necessarily exciting. However, the appetizer was fantastic. Not only was it pretty to look at, it was 4 tiny bite-fuls of tasty goodness. I wish my photo were as yummy as the food.

Kimonos appetizer at Beaches in Jamaica

Kimonos appetizer at Beaches in Jamaica photo by Jen Goode

From left to right:tuna sushi on tiny rice roll, potato (my favorite), pork, chilled cucumber

The miso soup was also delicious. I’d never had miso soup before, so I can’t say how it compares to others, but I really enjoyed it. The entire experience was worth the required reservation and wait. The kids enjoyed it and our bellies were happy when it was all over.

Ultimate Foodie Mission: Best Pizza in NYC

Meatball and Mushroom Pizza from Lombardi's has Annie seeimg red

Meatball and Mushroom Pizza from Lombardi's has Annie seeing red

Strangely enough, this mission may have been the one I was looking forward to most on the trip – and the way it came to be was a bit of a story in itself.  My good foodie friend Theresa Miller and I always try to get together for some sort of foodie adventure at any trade show that we find ourselves at.   The original conversation centered around a tasting at Per Se – after doing some reading and seeing my schedule start to fill up for the night we both had available, I asked “Hey T – whattya say we get a car, and we go on a search for the best NYC coal fired pizza and maybe get a hot dog or two on the way?”   Theresa agreed that she’d get the car, I’d buy dinner and our plan was made.

So – on the night in question, Theresa and her lovely friend Ann showed up at The Australian with an Escalade, a drive and a plan.  We’d open the evening heading to Lombardi’s in Little Italy, followed by a jaunt across the Brooklyn Bridge to Grimaldi’s, then on to Papaya King for a Papaya drink and a hot dog.   Since we were having a contest to decide who our NYC Pizza King would be, we set up a criteria.  We’d get the same pizza at Lombardi’s and Grimaldi’s and make the call which one took home the prize.   We opened at Lombardi’s where – after a 20 minute wait for a table to open (and some Chianti drinking) we ordered up a meatball and mushroom pizza along with a house salad (shareable) and some more wine.   The house salad was awesome with fresh greens and a dynamite house dressing, but it turned out to be totally unnecessary filler.

Lombardi’s pizza offered excellence in it’s simplicity –  it was very simply fresh dough (made daily) with a simple sauce of San Marzano tomatoes and salt (no herb or spice blend) topped with cheese and homemade meatballs and fresh mushrooms.   The real stars at Lombardi’s are the crust – which is perfectly crispy and blistered by the hot coal fire and has a taste that is unlike anything you will get anywhere but in one of the few NYC Pizzerias that are still licensed to operate coal ovens, and the sauce.  It’s a prime example of how simple and awesome ingredients are key to Italian cuisine.   The meatballs were awesome as well – all and  all Lombardi’s was a winner, but what do you expect from the restaurant that was New York’s first pizzeria -opened in 1905?

On a bonus note, while we were waiting for our table, T walked across the street to Rice to Riches and brought back sample sized packs of Rice Pudding.  We tried Coast to Coast Cheesecake, Cinnamon Sling with Raisins and Chocolate Chip Flirt – the winner for me was the classic Cinnamon Sling –  it’s the way I make rice pudding and I’d rather it be served warm.  All were excellent for the sweet tooth.

Next up – we headed to Brooklyn to check out one of the other claimants to the “Best in NYC” Pizza crown – Grimaldi’s.  I’d read about the long lines and wait times you could encounter at Grimaldi’s if you came during dinner hours, and although we hit there late on in the dinner rush (9 ish) the line up was out the door and down the block and the sign reading “the line is for take out too” was not encouraging.  I decided to get creative and called in my order from the line.  A cook who was out having a smoke commended me on the move and told me to go ahead and pay.  Once I got inside and paid, I was told the pie would be ready in 10 minutes so we took a spin around the block.   I was bummed to find out that meatballs weren’t available so we settled on Pepperoni and Mushroom.

The Pizza from Grimaldi’s was good – very good with a similar crust (coal fired ovens are the bomb) in terms of the smokey flavor, but lacking a bit in the crispness we’d experienced at Lombardi’s.  I’ll give some slack because we took this pizza to go and the crust might have been sogged a bit  by steam in the paper wrapping they used.  The sauce was totally different though – Grimaldi’s added to the San Marzano tomato sauce and added some oregano and other herbs and spices – it was good, but as a bit of a purest, I thought Lombardi’s simple approach was better here.

The winner of our “Best Pizza in NYC” expedition that night – Lombardi’s – both were great pizza, but Lombardi’s really stood out – the simplicity and honesty of their ingredients really showed through.

More on the hot dog segment of the adventure later.

Nuts and Berries

While in NYC in the middle of August for a tradeshow, a group of friends and I frequented a local pub called the “Old Castle”. It’s your average bar that stays open late with a decent bartender, a couple of tvs tuned to various sporting events, and a handful of regulars. Well, we’re all a bunch of functioning alcoholics when we go to these sorts of tradeshows, so I’m sure we completely blew their monthly sales projections to smithereens.

The second night we were there, the call went up for shots and this little glass of deliciousness was what the barkeep served up.

Nuts & Berries Shot

Nuts & Berries

1/2 oz Frangelico® hazelnut liqueur
1/2 oz Chambord® raspberry liqueur
1/2 oz cream

Pour alcohols into a stainless steel shaker over ice, and shake until completely cold. Strain into a chilled shot glass, slowly pour cream over the back of a spoon to top.