May 31, 2007

An Unfortunate Incident

Driving along Route 28 to Margaretville, J* and I passed a pretty little restaurant called the Peekamoose. The Catskills Mountains seem to be overrun with these adorable , punning destinations like the Inn Between and infinite loop names like Pakatakaka… . We former Midwesterners and now wannabe Manhattanites giggled a bit at these names while trying to differentiate ourselves from the amusement of city “tourists.” Nonetheless, a foodie friend from the city highly recommended Peekamoose, and we discovered that famous NYC chef Devin Mills (formerly of Le Bernadin, Gramercy Tavern, Guastavino’s, and Ruddy and Dean) now cooks at Peekamoose, which he owns with this wife.
So on Sunday night, we drove back to the Peekamoose. We strolled in around 9pm (late because we went on a 3-hour hike that day) in casual wear. The people dining and those congregating in sharp-dressed circles around the bar were obviously from the city. Peekamoose, isolated on a country road, had an oddly trendy feel, rather than achieving a comfortable, country atmosphere. I pulled at my loose, linen skirt as we struggled to track down a hostess. When we finally located her and asked for a table, she paused and asked us whether we had a reservation. Well, no, we weren’t aware that we needed a reservation. This is precisely the reason to get away from the city.

She paused, “Oh. Well, it’s going to be a very long wait.” We were slightly puzzled and asked how long. “At least 30 minutes.” First of all, that’s not a very long wait for a great meal. And secondly, why the pretentious warning? Was this a case of age discrimination (J* and I being rather young and not so impeccably dressed)? She finally conceded that we could be seated immediately if we agreed to sit outside. We agreed, relieved, and were led to the large patio. Sitting down at the table in the far corner, we realized that we were the only diners out there. The isolation was creepy and the servers hardly realized we were there.

Aware of the meal prices (with ala carte sides), we ordered tap water. We were not warned. We both took a big gulp of the water (dehydrated and hurting from the hike) and almost spit it out. “Oh, we hit a sulfur patch. How about some wine?” No, we wanted water, drinkable water, and we didn’t want to pay for it. Bottled water was not offered as amends for the horrendous taste lurking in our mouths. We could purchase anything of course. “We are also out of the rabbit and the trout.”

As we sat and contemplated the menu with a cup of tea, we talked quietly about the bad vibe we had encountered thus far. After a sever did not return for a good 10-15 minutes, we simply left. Unfortunately, rank water and pretension are the extent of my review of Peekamoose.

5 Minute Prep

When my grandma decided that she wanted to host the family Memorial Day dinner, she went through a series of menu dilemmas. First, she wanted to do a Mexican theme with a taco bar, rice, cornbread; the works. Then, she thought maybe it would be fun to make a paella and have sangria. After that, she considered making lasagnas and doing Italian. Luckily, my great aunt saved her from her menu planning confusion when she said, “Lasagna? Who wants lasagna on Memorial Day? I want a hot dog!” So hot dogs it was. Along with skirt steaks, brats (chicken and veal) and barbecue chicken.

As a fun side dish, my mom thought it would be a nice change to make Polenta Fries to go along with the oven-baked potatoes. My family loves polenta because it’s so versatile; we’d made these once before and they were such a big hit, we decided to make them again. It’s really the simplest recipe ever with only five minutes of prep work!

I got a few nice shots of these skinny cornmeal beauties before they went into the oven, but they disappeared so quickly during dinner, I never got an “after” shot. You’ll just have to make them and see for yourself. What I love about these “fries” is that they get nice and crunchy on the outside, but the inside stays soft and mushy. All we add is a little salt and pepper, but I’m sure you could get creative with other spices if you like.

Polenta Fries

Ingredients

2 packages polenta in log form
Non-stick spray
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut polenta into sticks about 1/4-inch wide and a 1/4-inch thick. Spray baking sheet(s) with a non-stick spray and scatter polenta sticks around pan – use two if too crowded. Salt and pepper polenta to taste. Heat in 400 degree oven for 1 hour, turning about half way through. Polenta is done when the outside is crispy and the inside it mushy. Serve hot.

May 30, 2007

Grown Up Lox and Bagels

Like any good Jew, I love my lox and bagels. As my cousin and I agreed at a recent family gathering, it’s the ultimate comfort food – maybe even more so than chicken soup. Maybe. Alas, smoked salmon is not the cheapest of fares and for a twenty-something trying to make it on her own, it’s not a regular menu item. I at least make do with a lox spread at my favorite bagel place on the way to work and that usually tides me over.

My cravings for the smoked stuff were only enhanced when I came upon not one, but two salivatingly delicious photos today. The first features lox in the form of a pizza with gorgeous, thin pieces laid out over a generous shmear of cream cheese. The second mouth-watering recipe was for a Smoked Salmon and Tomato Salad Tartine at seven spoons that brings a more sophisticated flavor to the plate with chevre and a perfectly seasoned salad.

Personally, I can’t wait to try both!

Stuffed (With) French Toast

The French toast I enjoyed at Margaretville Mountain Inn on Sunday was superb, and supported my assertion that the dish is done better with cinnamon rather than copious amounts of powdered sugar. But, just look at this, brioche French toast stuffed with Nutella! Genius!


I must admit I am of a member of the eating-nutella-right-out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon persuasion, so basically this French toast trumps my weekend in the mountains. Although, the cranberry scones were delightful. Here is the path to nutella-goodness.

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