Saturday, November 27, 2010

Post-Game Highlights

I should probably be doing something much more productive right now, but I decided that a Thanksgiving post-game highlights post was a higher priority. I also have a couple restaurant reviews to throw in here, and some general updates – looks like we’re in for a long one!
Let’s begin with the restaurant reviews. Despite the busy season (and school finals rapidly approaching), Danielle and I have managed to maintain our weekly tradition. A couple weeks ago, we hit Bistro 156 for dinner. The atmosphere was very hip and trendy, the cocktail was fabulous (they infuse some of the liquors themselves), the service was HORRIBLE and the food was mediocre. Shall I elaborate? Danielle ordered a spinach and artichoke dip appetizer, which I helped myself to. It was very good, thick, and had a lot of nice flavor. Also, I don’t know what kind of tortilla chips came with it (homemade? store bought? what brand?) but they were surprisingly good. Really, this was the highlight of the whole experience. I ordered mac and cheese, desperately in need of some comfort food, and I couldn’t help but be let down. By the time dinner made its way out to our table, mine was no longer very hot. It had a lot of oil in it, and not very much cheesy goodness – a let down, to be sure. And then there was the service – some of the worst I have experienced in Burlington. Sure, our waitress was pleasant enough, once she finally figured out that she was supposed to be waiting on us (not the brightest bulb, so to speak). We went through about three different servers until one finally settled on our table. Then, although we only ordered an appetizer and dinner, we sat there for over two hours because it was sooooo sloooooow. Overall, I don’t think I will be visiting this establishment again anytime soon.
Our poor experience at Bistro 156 was more than made up for, however, at A Single Pebble last week. As I have mentioned several times, I am obsessed with the Food Network. I watch waaaaaay to much cooking television, but I just cannot seem to help myself. Anyway, one show I like is Best Thing I Ever Ate. Each episode has a theme (dessert, crunchy, pizza, and so on), and features several different Food Network talents discussing their favorite meal within that category. Most of the time, the restaurants they discuss are in New York City, but every once in a while, something different comes my way. Last week’s episode was titled “with Chopsticks” and featured a lot of different Chinese/Asian style restaurants. For those of you that don’t know, Alton Brown, host of Good Eats, went to the New England Culinary School in Montpelier, Vermont – less than an hour from Burlington. So, on this episode, he discussed a dish from A Single Pebble, and I immediately wanted to go there. I was not disappointed! The décor was kind of kitschy Chinese restaurant, and the service was good although not outstanding, but the food was amazing (and really, isn’t that what it is all about?). Danielle and I ordered four different dishes to share – Peking duck, crab cakes, potstickers, and tangerine chicken. Although everything was great, the Peking duck was above and beyond. It arrived to our table on a platter, consisting of shredded duck, crispy cracklings, chives, cucumber slices, and plum sauce. Four thin pancakes (almost like unsweetened crepes) came of the side. We built little Peking duck tacos and they were to die for! Honestly, this was one of the best dishes I have had in a long time. For dessert, I had coconut tapioca with chunks of fresh mango in it, which was also really good.
I also feel compelled to mention that Peppermint Mocha lattes are once again featured on the Starbucks menu! This is probably my favorite coffee drink in the entire world, and although you can order it year round, it just does not seem right to drink in the warm summer months. I will be frequenting my local Starbucks a lot more than usual for the next month or so.
So, now that all that formality is behind us, on to the main event – Thanksgiving! This is the biggest cooking and eating holiday of the year, and therefore plays an important part of my life for the month of November. Every show of the Food Network has to do with the holiday all month long, all of my magazines feature recipes, and the grocery store is bursting with turkey, stuffing, and all the fixins’. My family down in Texas really knows how to put together a proper Thanksgiving meal (the best, in my opinion), but unfortunately I could not be with them this holiday. I spend the holiday with my extended family in Massachusetts. We all had a nice time together, which is really the whole point of the holiday. I made stuffed dates (dried dates stuffed with a sweet cream cheese filling) and brought some famous Vermont-made sage cheese. I really love to cook and wish I could have been more involved in the preparations, but that just geared me up more for Christmas. I will be home for Christmas and my dad and I will put together a meal to remember. Hope y’all had a lovely holiday, got some great Black Friday deals, and are resting this weekend before the season is truly in full swing.

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