Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Swiss Chard & White Beans

It's been one heck of a wet spring here in Louisville. I'm not a big fan. Nick's not a big fan. And even the dog looks outside on the 5th rainy day in a row and seems to be thinking, "really?". Our garden, however, seems to be shouting, "Thank you!".

I have to rephrase that. It's not really "our" garden. Nick has done the majority of work in it this spring and we're already reaping the benefits of his backbreaking labor.

So far we've dined on things like sweet, sweet spring peas, delicious broccoli, crisp boston lettuce and just about the most beautiful vegetable I've ever seen...rainbow swiss chard.

Look at this vegetable! Just look at it! It's beautiful isn't it? Some people take pictures of their rose bushes. Some folks snap photos of their tulips. I, personally, can't stop photographing this damn chard.

I haven't posted a recipe in a while but I couldn't resist sharing this with you. It's not even a recipe. It's 4 ingredients, a little salt, a little pepper, a whole lot of flavor, and a great way to cook any leafy green you've got.

Swiss Chard & White Beans

-1/2 cup dried white beans
-1 bunch fresh swiss chard
-2 cups stock(chicken, pork, veg., whatever)
-2 or 3 strips bacon

You have to start this recipe the night before, unless you want to use canned beans(which I do often as well). I, however, prefer dried beans if possible.

The night before, soak a handful or two of beans in water. The beans will soak up a lot of water during the night so be sure you cover them with plenty of it. Just stick the soaking beans in the fridge and forget about them until the next day.

About an hour before dinner drain the beans and throw them in a pot of simmering stock. Simmer slowly for about 45 mins. If the stock level gets low just add some water. Meanwhile, render a few strips of bacon, low and slow in a pan. When the bacon is done remove from the pan but don't drain the fat from the pan. When the beans are tender throw them in the bacon fat along with some roughly chopped swiss chard. Toss quickly, add a smidge of the stock into the pan to loosen the pieces of bacon stuck to the bottom of the pan, salt and pepper to taste, and you're done!

You can crumble the bacon on top at the end or save it for breakfast the next morning. You can wilt the chard slightly or completely. You can use a ratio of more beans to chard or more chard to beans. You can tweak it to your liking. It's good in the summer, winter, spring and fall. It's my go-to dish when I need to use up any greens. It's delicious.

My vegan brother can even omit the bacon and boil the beans in vegetable stock. It won't have that smokey finish but it will still be yummy.
Read more

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bourbon Guilt - The new Bulleit Rye is delicious

My husband often experiences what I call "bourbon guilt". He'll see a bottle of, let's say, Dickel in the liquor store, begin to reach for it and inevitably stop short. Since moving to Kentucky he finds it hard to buy brown liquor that isn't bourbon. This is a bitter sweet dilemma. Bourbon IS good, bourbon IS great, but there are still a heck of a lot of yummy non-bourbon spirits out there.

Recently, Nick worked through his bourbon guilt and purchased a bottle of the new Bulleit Rye.

Nick is a loyal Bulleit bourbon drinker and he wasn't disappointed in their new rye. It's made with a 95% rye mash, aged between 4 and 7 years and weighs in at 90 proof.

I find it to be sweet and smooth. A nice departure from some of the more woody bourbons.

Nick says, " A tasty and worthwhile departure from even the most fine bourbons made. Bulliet uses its proven ability to make spirits to craft a one off that is very enjoyable."

I think I need to quote him more often, because honestly, I couldn't have said it better myself.

In true Bulleit form it's a reasonably priced, middle of the road spirit. A 750ml bottle
is going for a little over $20.
Read more

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

There's Mutton Better Than Some Good BBQ

My husband asked what was on the agenda for this weekend and I immediately screamed, "BBQ!!!!!".

Owensboro, KY is hosting the International Barbecue Festival this weekend and I hear mutton is the meat of choice. Taking this into consideration I told the hubby, "There's mutton better to do this weekend". I stood there giggling at myself...he rolled his eyes and walked away. Personally, I thought it was hilarious.

That's right folks...we've got a barbecue festival on our hands (and probably our faces) this weekend. So dig up those handi-wipes you swiped last time you were at KFC and I'll see you there. I'll be the one with mutton on. Ha!
Read more

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Food Trucks - Is Louisville Ready?

Dear Louisville,

Word on the street is that your foodies are interested in food trucks. I've read comments ranging from "If NYC can do it why can't we?" to "They can't be hygienic", and everything in between.

The food truck issue weaves a tangled web if you ask me. Wanna chat about it?

Love and mobile food,

To anyone that reads the Louisville food related message boards the topic of food trucks should be old news by now.

Food trucks seem to be taking the nation by storm. There are tv shows about them and contests involving them. Everyone seems to be talking about them, and with good reason.

If you have a few bucks and limited time for lunch, walking outside of your office building and grabbing a quick bit to eat is more than convenient, it's often necessary. They've long been a daily staple for people in big cities like New York, but have recently been embraced by cities both large and small across the country.

This widespread national embrace confuses me a bit. When I lived in Philadelphia and walked everywhere, everyday, grabbing a tasty bite as I passed by a food cart made sense. And the hubby simply couldn't live without them. If he was booked all day in back to back meetings his only option for sustenance came in the form of one of many food carts within a block of his building. Lucky for both of us, there was a lot of good food being sold off carts all over the city (Halal King...Nick misses you!).

So why are people in Louisville so desperate for food trucks? The Louisville metro area is pretty spread out. It's an entirely drive-able city. It doesn't seem like a necessity. The more I read, the more I realize that Louisville foodies don't really need them. Louisville foodies want them.

With the media frenzy surrounding these meal on wheel mobiles I can understand people's curiosity. I can also understand why Louisville doesn't want to be left out. What I can't understand is the method. The few food trucks that exist in town are seemingly always on the move. Some use twitter or facebook or google maps to tell people where they will be what day and at what time, but to me, that's an awful lot of work to go through for some grub.

I've been looking for the El Rumbon food truck in the Oxmoor area car dealerships on and off for some time now. Morels, the all vegan food truck in town has a line of question marks on their restaurant hours page. And as I write this post Li'l Cheezers, Louisville's "gourmet grilled cheesemobile" posted on it's site that it's serving it's grilled cheese sandwiches at "Jeff Exit 1 from 11-2". I know I didn't grow up here in Louisville, but what does that mean? I would like to check it out without having to ask a bunch of people or showing up in an empty parking lot.

To be fair I haven't tried any of their food yet, and I would really like to. I have the utmost respect for anyone with the gusto to follow their dreams and open a restaurant or food truck. And they seem to have a good following. If the price is right and the food is good I'll be more apt to seek them out, but there has to be a better way.

I hear through the grapevine (and have actually done some research myself) that the food truck laws in Louisville are hazy at best. Apparently the trucks have to move every so often and there are some unorthodox food safety rules that may or may not apply to these trucks. It sounds like a mess. So I DO understand why these trucks have to move around. I'm just not sold on the whole package at the moment.

I'm anxious to see where this whole food truck wave will take the Louisville food scene. I'm always looking for quality food at reasonable prices, and I adore supporting local businesses. I guess I just feel like eating good food shouldn't be hard.
Read more

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

La Tapatia - "Real Mexican Food"

The sign outside says "Real Mexican Food". The atmosphere inside says "the sign is probably right".

I have driven by this sign countless times, and every time I pass it I lick my lips. I love "real" Mexican food. Alright, I'll admit that the "real" part can be a hard distinction to make. There is indigenous pre-Spanish Mexican food. There is regional Mexican food. There are a lot of different types of Mexican food. I suppose the best way I can describe what I mean by "real" is a complete and utter lack of neon yellow cheese whiz. That, I promise you, is not even real food...Mexican or not.

The interior was bright and cheery. Modelo banners hung overhead and a soccer game was on the tube. The place was packed at lunch on Sunday, and although I didn't take a poll, I can pretty safely assume that Nick and I were the only people there that weren't fluent in Spanish.

As I perused my menu, which was entirely in Spanish, I patted myself on the back for recognizing beef tongue, and then glanced at my hubby expecting to see him with a furrowed brow, deciphering the menu along with me. But there was no furrowed brow. Instead he had made his decision and was sipping he beer and watching the soccer game on the tv above my head. His menu was in English. I swiftly switched menus and made my decision.

The hubby ordered a beef tongue taco, a pork taco and a tamale. I also ordered a tamale and a roast pork tostada.

I adore tamales, and I adored these tamales. They were topped with crema and oaxaca cheese. They were rich in flavor yet light in texture. It's tough to make a tamale that isn't overly dense, so when I sink my teeth into a tender, moist tamale that isn't gummy, I'm happy.

Nick's tacos were fantastic as well. His beef tongue taco (a favorite of his) was melt in your mouth tender. It was topped simply with chopped onion, cilantro and perhaps a bit of lime and was served atop two warm corn tortillas. The rich tongue contrasted with the bright cilantro wonderfully...I guess that's why it's such a tried and true preparation.

The pork on my tostada stole the whole show. It was amazing. There were flecks of crispy skin amidst hunks of just fatty enough roast pork. The pork was roll your eyes back in your head good...serious porky goodness.

The price was right. The bill totaled $15 with the addition of a few Modelos. The service was punctual and friendly.

This is the type of place I love finding. The building itself isn't flashy...honestly, it's anything but. The prices aren't high. The food is amazing. And there is even a small grocery store attached that sells things like dried corn husks for tamales.

I think that all too often people overlook little gems like La Tapatia. I'm glad we didn't.

P.S. Next time I go (and there WILL be a next time) I'm going to try one of their tortas and perhaps a bowl of whatever sopa they have that day. Mexican soup and sandwich lunch!

La Tapatia on Urbanspoon
Read more