Archive for the Food Category

BAJA BURRITO VS. SATCO

Posted in Food with tags , , on July 19, 2009 by mccoolio

mexican mealWent to Baja Burrito yesterday. We go there a lot and have been for several years now. We live in Goodlettsville and don’t think anything about piling everybody in the van and making the 25 minute ride over to 100 Oaks to eat there, passing countless other Mexican restaurants in the process. I don’t know for sure, but BB may have been the first assembly-line burrito place in Nashville. I really like that because , I can get what ingredients I want and how much I want. That’s good because I’m a pretty picky eater (everything I can pick up, I eat) If you get a regular size (you can also get a small), by the time you get to the end of the line you’ve got a burrito about the size of a  small watermelon, something you’ve got to hold two-fisted and attack carefully, biting at the corners and edges because you can’t get your mouth (even mine) around the monstrous slab of goodness.

The second thing I love at BB is the salsa. They have four or five different kinds: mild roasted , hot, green and pineapple. The pineapple is our favorite. Picture your  absolute favorite salsa with little chunks of pineapple. Yes! The other salsa’s are very good too though. Sometime I’ll get a little bit of all the others and a lot of the pineapple.

Then there’s the fruit tea. It must not be just my favorite because they have more of that than anything else..It’s so good that I probably drink at least a half of gallon each time .

The staff is also pretty friendly and helpful.

Then the topper: you get all this for about $ 7 bucks with free refils of everything except the burritos.

A bunch of us went to San Antonio Taco Factory awhile ago. It was my first visit. I had heard a lot about the place over the years and how good it was, it being a staple for the Vanderbilt crowd, etc.

I’ll be honest, I was extremely dissapointed. First, it was way pricer that BB. Everything was confusing, it was a bunch of us there, the menu was a little scattered, everything was ala carte, and I was paying for mine and Jordan’s. But our bill was like $24. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll shell out some bucks if we’re eating sushi, or at a good steak place, but $24 for two, at a serve-yourself taco place?!?*! I don’t think so.

The little burritos were tasty but after polishing them off in about 3.5 minutes, I was hungrily looking at the plates of others in our group, hoping some of the women had left some, which they usually do. Not so here. Every paper plate was licked clean and not necessarily because the food was so good. I remember looking at James Hayes as we were getting ready to leave and we exchanged looks of despair, hunger, dissatisfaction, and poverty.

Finally, the salsa was decent but they only had one or two kinds and the the little containers to put your salsa in were so small you could barely get the edge of your chip in there to scoop.

About the staff: The first guy we meet was so anxious to help us figure out the menu and understand how everything worked that I couldn’t help but think he was trying to hustle tips out of us (which he didn’t get) The others were  busy talking to each other about personal stuff so they  were pretty distant and not very engaged. The BB employees are way friendlier and they can’t hardly speak Americano!

So, the next time you want a good custom-made burrito and salsa meal that will allow you to still have enough dinero to head somewhere else for coffee and a gourmet cupcake, check out Baja Burrito. Give yourself enough time to stand in line a wile though. A lot of others will be doing the same thing.

My All Time Seven Course Meal

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by mccoolio

My boy Garrett ( http://garreson.wordpress.com) suggested ” Here’s a thought. If it is possible to narrow it down, describe the perfect meal all the way down to dessert.” So after a little thought, here we go.

cavair2Appetizer

Black Russian Beluga Caviar  with creme frai over hand-made blini with some extra dry white wine. OK. I’m going to go ahead and ruin this right off the bat by admitting that I have never tried this. But knowing my tastes and adventuresome palette I just know I will one day try this and fall in love with it.

Course 1

Prejeans (Layfeyette, La)  Crawfish Bisque and  Crawfish Etouffee . Tea. See my last  post  Food: My Epiphany

Course 2

Flemings  Filet, Flemings Mac and Cheese (yes, not your momma’s mac and cheese)  CheeseCake Factory Whole Wheat Bread. Tea

Course 3

Sushi:        Salmon Nigiri, Eel Rolls, Crunchy Shrimp Rolls, Pork Stickers, Miso Soup. Tea

Course 4

Christmas Eve Dinner With Kellye’s Family

Kelly : Southwestern (spicy)Dressing (the only dressing I’ve ever liked), Marie’s Ham and Turkey, Aunt Anne’s Cranberry Salad (the only Cranberry concoction I’ve ever liked), , Gaye’s Sweet Potato Casserole (wow), Mabel’s Turnip Greens (with hot peppers) and Macaroni Salad (before I got to know the family well, this entre earned Mabel the name ” macaroni Aunt “)  Big, Fat, Soft, Warm Yeast Rolls, Tea.

 filetCourse 5

My Favorite Homemade Meal by Sarah Mccool (momma)

Homemade Bbq, Turnip Greens (mom’s recipe with garlic salt and sugar) Mac and Cheese, Cornsticks( trying to get more than your share of these will get you a fat lip at the family get-together), moma’s Tea.

Course 6

Poncho Villa (Rivergate): Salsa and Chips, Beef Burrito covered with cheese flakes with Rice and Beans. Tea. I guess this one will ruin my highbrow rating but dang, if I don’t list something from the place where we eat at least 50 times a year, what’s wrong with that picture?

Course 7

salmonFour or Five shots of Espresso in one big cup, Triple Chocolate Cake.

chocolate

Coffee-licious

Posted in Food with tags , , , on November 28, 2008 by mccoolio

espresso

I am a bonafide coffee lover. I drink a couple of cups in the morning and an Americano or a double shot of espresso with a protein bar in the afternoon. Without really breaking the bank, I try to enjoy the best of all things coffee. A good friend of mine is like that. He talks about “getting that last drop of goodness” out of his cup. He loves good coffee so much he’ll be up on the mountains of Afghanistan ( he’s military) where he packs a little bag with his beans, grinder and French Press. Ask him about the time he dropped and broke his french press full of steaming hot goodness on a goat herder’s hard, dirt packed floor… Anyway,the following are my suggestions if you like coffee, espresso, lattes, fraps, etc., and you’re tired of making Starbucks richer. The initial outlay is a little pricey so maybe you can ask for some of these items for Christmas. or buy one thing at a time.

Beans You have to  have fairly fresh, quality  beans to make good coffee, ideally ground immediately before you drink it. You should try to get beans that have been roasted no more than a couple of weeks. There’s a million places to get them, usually starting about $7 per lb to $13-14 per lb . Since Raleigh and I go through a pound pretty rapidly, I try to find the best quality for the best value. These two are my current favorites: drewsbrewscoffee.com and Bongo Java. Drew’s  beans are awesome.( Here’s a real cool video of Drew Park roasting beans and Rachel at Crema:   http://wnpt.org/productions/crossroads/2008_oct.html.   Go to video 18 when you get to that site.)They are probably the most popular right now at all the fu-fu places around Nashville but incredibly he also has the best prices; $7.99 per lb the last time I ordered. He’s strictly Internet and he charges a flat $4.00 shipping fee, right to your door, no matter how much you order. I usually get 2-3 lbs at a time, take out what I’ll use in a week or two, keep them in a airtight container and freeze the rest. The other place is Bongo Java, where every Tuesday they have $2.00 off per lb , which makes them about $ 8.00 per lb. You get them there so there’s no shipping  fee. At Bongos you  fill your bags out of bins where you can get as much or as little as you want. So I like to get several little 1/4 lb bags of different stuff for variety.beans1

  • Grinder In order to get maximum benefit from those beans you need to grind them and then immediately use it. Getting it ground when you buy the beans is only a little better than ground coffee off the shelf. Option #1 This one is fine if all you’re drinking is coffee and not espresso and french press. Go to Target or Wal Mart or wherever and pick up a $15-20 blade grinder which has a button that you hold down about 15-20 seconds. Option #2 Get a Burr Grinder from $50-100. This kind has about 12 settings from extra coarse to extra fine. If you want to do espresso which requires a fine grind or French Press which needs a very coarse grind you need one of these babies. I bought a Capresso brand for around $100 from Davis Cutlery in Hillsboro Village. I could have gotten it about $10 cheaper on the Internet but I bought it from them because older Mr Davis is a good guy and he highly recommended the Capresso. I’ve been very happy with it.
  • French Press This is the ultimate regular coffee. You’ve seen one. It’s a solid glass jar with a top with a plunger that goes down in the jar. The reason it’s the ultimate is because the filter is basically a wire screen so therefore you have to grind really coarse so the grounds won’t go through the screen. A lot of taste-producing oils are filtered out with paper filters ( less with the gold-colored metal filters which is why all the good coffee machines have them) So basically no oils are filtered out with the French Press. So, if you break down and buy a good burr grinder, go ahead and throw down another $20 or so and pick up a French Press and thank me later. Try a French Press at a coffee shop and see what you think.
  • Espresso There’s 2 or 3 ways to get espresso: 1) Get a combo coffee maker/espresso machine.This way is probably the most popular. The only problem with this kind of machine is that they are usually steam-powered and can’t produce enough pressure to produce the crema ( see picture at the top of my post. Kind of like a head on a beer or coke) which is an indicator of real espresso. If you’re adding the espresso to a drink like a latte, mocha, etc, this is fine but probably not for straight espresso or an Americano ( a combination espresso-regular coffee. It’s a couple of shots of espresso and really hot water that’s like  a regular coffee with a Hemi. Ummmmm good ) 2) Get a stove-top espresso maker or a Moka . These produce just as good espresso as the above, maybe a little better, and you can get one for around $15-25.  3) The best: Find a machine that produces about 15 bars of pressure, usually with a piston not steam. This option is where you have to spend a little money. After a lot of research, the best quality machine at the best value I found was the one I bought: a Breeville Cafe Roma .It retails for $229 at Bed Bath and Beyond but with their 20% coupon they send out all the time, I got it for under $200. It’s stainless steel, heavy duty and beautiful: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=14013415l. Also check Amazon for reconditioned machines that are cheaper.  Before you say WHOA, that’s too much for a espresso machine, let me tell you it’s not if you want the real stuff. This price is considered the very cheapest, bottom of the range for good espresso machines. I’ve had mine now for a couple of years and am extremely happy with it. and it looks awesome sitting on my new tile counter top.
  • Frappes and Such If you’ve got a pretty good  ice crusher that will crush ice to a Icee-like consistency, pick up some whipped cream, some decent flavored coffee syrups, chocolate, etc. All this with your choice of espresso and  some Internet recipes and you can match anything  Starbucks can make. So, tell all the latte and Frap drinkers in your family that you’ll have that capability and they’ll be pitching in to help you buy all this stuff.coffee-house

Favorite Place to drink Coffee

Crema’s They are at 15 Hermitage Ave. http://crema-coffee.com/ They’ve been there a year or so. Rachel Lehman and her husband are the owners.They are super-nice and have very, very good fare. Rachel knows her stuff, having earned her coffee-chops in Italy. She really duplicates the European experience with authentic drinks, coffee knowledge, and a  $5000 espresso machine, but  with true Nashville hospitality.She also supports local artists (I’m telling you, she’s got it going on).I got a drink awhile ago there that had about a half gallon of pure chocolate, a double shot of espresso, and some Cayenne pepper. Wow.Too good. She also frequently offers free classes like making espresso which I participated in and really learned a lot and enjoyed. Like I said, Rachel and her husband are great.So stop in and give them a shot( pun intended).

Tell me what you think; what’s your favorite coffee drinks, where do you get your beans, what’s your setup as far as coffee? Where’s your favorite place to drink coffee?