Hot!Kaszeta's 2013 year in review.

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ScreamingChicken
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2013/12/31 09:32:31 (permalink)
Candela's charcuterie plate looks terrific.  I'll have it as a meal and skip everything else!
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2013/12/31 14:11:42 (permalink)
This was also a year for finally exploring some more spots in NH around Concord and Manchester.   I spent a lot of time driving down I-89 and I-91 to Boston and back, so I'm always looking for more interesting places along that route.
 
Purple Finch is a relatively new addition to the greater Manchester dining scene, but they won bonus points for two delicious items.  The first was this basket of sweet potato donuts that were one of the best deep-fried items of 2013:

But another surprise was the Purple Finch was one of the very few places I know in NH that can do a decent job of hash browns, in this case with their "bird's nest", with a poach egg nestled in the hash:

And Carol's Bruschetta Benedict was no slouch, either:

(full review here)
 
Next up was a lunch spot, The Gyro Spot, in Manchester.  There aren't a lot of places in NH serving gyros (most of them are in Manchester, actually), but The Gyro Spot is run by a family of Greek people trying to serve up gyros in the classic Greek style (instead of Greek-American), with marinaded pork and french fries on the gyro.  The result is delicious:

(Full review here)
 
Up the road in Concord, Beefside has long been a destination of mine for beef sandwiches.  They originally drew me in since their sign is awesome:

but this time I decided to check out some of their other items, like their Prime Rib Dip:

Or their pulled pork:

Both of which were very well done.
(Full review here)
 
Finally, the School House Cafe in Warner, NH, was a well-needed addition to the selection of places that I can hit up for breakfast on the way to Boston.  Highlights included this excellent cinnamon twist:

Or this great house-made corned beef hash and eggs:

(Full review here)
#62
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/01 14:32:01 (permalink)
I also ran into a few real surprises this year.  One of them was Corndance Tavern in Mishawaka, IN.  While I generally didn't find the greater South Bend area to be a great culinary destination, I did find two places my first visit that were both good, Fiddler’s Hearth (fish wrapped in newspaper, more on that later), and Bare Hands Brewery (a great brewpub). But I was still searching for some other great places to eat, and while I kept finding some places that were good, most of them weren’t really anything to write about. For example, Hacienda didn’t exactly excite me with their Tex-Mex menu, but the beer I had there, a Lucky Dog from Evil Czech Brewing, was quite good, so I decided to look up where else I could find it.
 
Turns out that the folks that own Evil Czech also own a restaurant in Mishawaka, called Corndance Tavern, so I decided to give it a try (their web site looked interesting, and they had some pretty interesting beer specials). With my coworker Cal in tow, we decided to drive over to Mishawaka and check it out.
 
The steaks on the menu looked intriguing, as did several of the specials (most special ribeyes and fresh fish), but what caught my attention was an odd special near the bottom: the “Sword of John Adams.” Asking my server about it, I got the immediate “I’m glad you asked!” look, and he explained that it was their house specialty: with three different meats selected by the chef, served up to you with roasted vegetables, all skewered onto a sword served at the table. Yeah, a sword. Being starving (we had worked through lunch), I decided that was exactly what I was craving, and decided to give it a shot. (For those that are wondering, the name is a subtle reference to an alleged quote of our second President: “There are two ways to conquer a nation. One is by sword. The other is by debt,” although I wonder what they would serve up as the “Debt of John Adams”?).
 
The Sword of John Adams is one of those orders that doesn’t just show up at your table, it emerges from the kitchen area wielded by your server with more than a little flourish, and you are then beholding the rather architectural accomplishment sitting in front of you. In the case of our visit, the Sword included a hefty rib-eye, half a Peruvian-style chicken, a rather large jalapeno-cheese bratwurst, and two bell peppers (red and green), all nicely seared up and sizzling on the sword. If that wasn’t enough, it also came with roasted acorn squash, potato wedges, and cole slaw. If there’s ever a time to use the phrase “Pièce de résistance”, this is it:

(Full review here)
#63
Michael Hoffman
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/01 14:43:49 (permalink)
Now that's a presentation!
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FriedClamFanatic
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/01 16:33:47 (permalink)
Shiver me timbers!!!!!!!!!!!  That beats those gauchos all to hell!   And I'll bet you left a big tip so the bus-boy wouldn't come running after you with "leftovers"
#65
Rocky Enfield
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/03 16:39:14 (permalink)
Kaszeta,
 
I am from Elkhart - 20 minutes from the Corndance Tavern.  I hosted a dinner party there for 10 of my friends and have to say I was very disappointed with the food.  I did not try Sam Adams Sword and may have to go back and give it another shot.
 
Thanks for the annual recap, as always, very enjoyable.
 
Rocky Enfield
#66
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/04 17:52:29 (permalink)
Another surprise was possibly the most eclectic food combination I ran into this year (and most interestingly named place as well): Beaver Choice in Mesa, AZ.  Beaver Choice had been on my radar for a while—while visiting Arizona in August of 2012 for some “extreme climate testing”, I had checked out various review sites for something new and interesting, and Beaver Choice came up near the top of several East Valley listings, so I drove by to check them out (at the time, they were located on Broadway in Tempe behind Ted’s Hot Dogs. But they were closed, since they were in the middle of moving to a new location). 
 
Well, that new location turned out to be Baseline and Extension in Mesa, in a spot I’m well familiar with, since growing up it contained the Ripe Tomato Cafe (now long closed, while I had many fine excessive breakfasts there in my youth, they also had one of the largest collections of health violations ever...).  But from the ashes of Ripe Tomato comes a new restaurant...
 

 
Beaver Choice has a very interesting combination of cuisines, with the majority of the menu being Scandinavian (mostly Swedish), but with a healthy smattering of Polish dishes (schnitzels, in particular) and even Canadian food (Poutine!). Basically, it’s a pan-national comfort food menu. They’ve got a really large selection of Scandinavian dishes, ranging from gravlax (cured salmon), to köttbullar (Swedish meatballs), to frikadeller (Danish meatballs, with a dill sauce), pytt i panna (basically a Swedish rendition of bubbles and squeak). Add in several Polish-inspired schnitzels, and a few gołąbki (cabbage rolls), and it’s really quite the assortment, especially when most dishes come with a choice of three different salads and a side dish of various potato dishes.
 
Highlights included the gravlax:

The Swedish Sampler (which, oddly, had one Danish dish on it), a combination of köttbullar, frikadeller, and pytt i panna, with a side of rosti. This turned out to be a very large amount of food, one of the more impressive platters of the year (I didn’t finish all of it, especially since the pytt i panna in combination with the rosti was a lot of starch). But I was very impressed with the quality of all the items. The köttbullar were very nicely flavored and moist meatballs with a nice crisp sear, and served up in a very nice cardamom and nutmeg cream sauce and a bit of lingonberry jam, reminding me of several of the great meatballs I had in Stockholm years ago. The frikadeller were similar, but with a very flavorful sweet and sour dill sauce. The pytt i panna was a nice hash, and the rosti was done to perfection: perfectly crisped potatoes and a fluffy interior. Add in a few nice side salads like tomatoes with basil and a great cole slaw, and this was quite the platter:

 
And for dessert, I got to indulge my lingonberry addiction with these wonderful pannakakor:

 
(Full review here)
#67
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/04 18:12:58 (permalink)
Beaver Choice is now on my short list for the next time I visit Phoenix. Looks great!
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/06 14:51:27 (permalink)
kaszeta
Yeah, "Black Cab" is shorthand for a hackney cab (cab for call/hire), as opposed to a Mini-cab or Livery-cab (where you call and make reservations).  Like a "Yellow Cab" in New York, although a "Black Cab" driving has very demanding licensing requirements (like having "The Knowledge", basically knowing every street in London and how to get from point A to B without maps)

 
A cabdriver in London told us that it took four years to acquire the necessary mastery of the city to get a license.
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/06 18:49:02 (permalink)
There was a BBC mini-series a couple of decades or so ago called "The Knowledge" about this very topic.  IIRC, it focused on the trials and tribulations of a group of prospective London cabbies, working to earn their licenses.  Not sure if it ever made it to DVD, or even VHS, but it was a pretty good show.
 
Buddy
#70
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/07 10:24:21 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

kaszeta
Yeah, "Black Cab" is shorthand for a hackney cab (cab for call/hire), as opposed to a Mini-cab or Livery-cab (where you call and make reservations).  Like a "Yellow Cab" in New York, although a "Black Cab" driving has very demanding licensing requirements (like having "The Knowledge", basically knowing every street in London and how to get from point A to B without maps)


A cabdriver in London told us that it took four years to acquire the necessary mastery of the city to get a license.

That sounds about right.  My own talks with cabdrivers taught me that "The Knowledge" test was really two things:  The published list of 320 routes (the "Blue Book", which is actually pink and comes in four sections), which is basically rote memorization... and then they also test you on things that you would be expected to know if you had actually driven all 320 Blue Book routes and paid attention (landmarks, side streets, etc).  And yeah, and once you apply, you've got two years to prep before they start exams, and after that it's basically a two year set schedule of tests if you don't have to retake anything.
 
I've seen people training quizzing each other, and it's kind of fun to watch.
#71
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 15:43:39 (permalink)
Looking through my photos instead of just my web reviews, I found a few other interesting meals.
 
Probably the best overall burger I had in 2013 was a return to an old favorite, the Chuck Box in Tempe, AZ.  A favorite since childhood, I'm still a believer that their Tijuana Torpedo (a half pound burger stuffed with pepper jack cheese, topped with more of same, and served up with a grilled green chile pepper) is one of the finest achievements of Western civilization:

Just watching them grill burgers is wonderful:

 
Similarly, managed two trips this year to Ted's Hot Dogs.  Like usual, I more often end up at their distinctly non-Buffalo Tempe, AZ location, but still get to have my standard Jumbo Beef and and Rochester White Hot:

 
Fiddler's Hearth in South Bend, Indiana, was also a nice little find.  They were a pleasant enough pub, but they served up something I haven't seen in a long, long, time:

Yes, that's fish and chips, actually served up in newspaper!

 
Also managed to get back to one of my London favorites, the Regency Cafe, for a proper "fry up":

 
And while I've never been there for a full meal, I usually get some pretty good snacks in Burlington, VT at Das Bierhaus:

 
And my local bakery in Hanover, NH, Umpleby's, joined the Cronut craze:

 
#72
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 15:49:25 (permalink)
And a trip to my parents' house reminded me of one of the most memorable meals of my lifetime, when I discovered this little gem in a scrapbook:

Yes, that's a vintage menu from Casa Bonita in 1980!

I remember that trip as a young kid in 1980.  Passing through the Denver area on a family road trip to the Rockies, we stopped to check out the famous Casa Bonita.  I still have visit memories of quite a few things: the cliff divers, Black Bart's Cave, weird gift shops, raising little Mexican flags to get more sopapillas.... and the worst "Mexican" food I've ever had (and close to one of the worst meals I've had in my entire life).  Casa Bonita was magical... and terrible.  At the same time!
 
(I went back there once in 2007 just to see if it was as bad as I remembered.  It was).
 
#73
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 19:48:47 (permalink)
kaszeta

Also managed to get back to one of my London favorites, the Regency Cafe, for a proper "fry up":

What's the meat in the center?  If I had to guess I'd say the other items are some kind of blood sausage, a banger, tomatoes, baked beans(?!?), and an egg.
#74
TJ Jackson
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 20:08:24 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken What's the meat in the center?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO7HY7Nz398
post edited by TJ Jackson - 2014/01/11 20:15:55
#75
lleechef
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 20:52:04 (permalink)
Nope!  It's not Spam!!  I know what it is, but I'll let Kaszeta answer.
#76
TJ Jackson
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 21:41:57 (permalink)

by process of elimination, its.......
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CErapf79rqM
 
post edited by TJ Jackson - 2014/01/11 21:45:11
#77
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 21:55:32 (permalink)
It's bacon. British style (back bacon)
#78
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/11 22:27:32 (permalink)
Yep.  When I worked at the Olde Irish Alehouse in Dedham, MA we did Sunday Irish breakfast and the back bacon (we called it "Irish bacon") was one of the components of the dish.  I like it much better than US bacon. 
#79
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/12 06:33:13 (permalink)
When I was in England and when I had breakfast at the hotel, they brought me something that did not look like traditional bacon and I was told it came from the back instead of the belly.  Much leaner than American bacon and tastier.  They called it back bacon and sometimes rashers.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_bacon
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
 
#80
love2bake
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/12 09:10:12 (permalink)
What a fun report this is!    I have no business reading it first thing in the morning, though.  Nothing I'll have all day will be as good as some of the things you've posted here!
#81
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/12 14:25:47 (permalink)
I agree love2bake! I'm really enjoying kaszeta's report and pictures!
#82
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/12 14:40:34 (permalink)
Sundancer7
When I was in England and when I had breakfast at the hotel, they brought me something that did not look like traditional bacon and I was told it came from the back instead of the belly.  Much leaner than American bacon and tastier.  They called it back bacon and sometimes rashers.

I'm surprised that for a country that ostensibly has as much love of bacon as the US, the US in generally kind of sucks at it.  While we do have some outstanding bacon producers out there (Nueske's has pretty good distribution, and I'm blessed to live a short drive from North Country Smokehouse), most places I go, the option is simply "bacon", and most of that is pretty generic, thin-sliced commodity bacon.  If you’re lucky, there are a few brands, some more thickly sliced than others. Maybe some token peppered bacon or maple bacon. But in general, we live in a bacon wasteland.
 
Compare that to when I'm in the UK, and if I go to a decent grocery store, I have quite a few options, including at least four types of bacon (Streaky or Back, smoked and unsmoked), and many places have a much, much better selection (different thicknesses, different seasonings):

 
Somehow, I have the feeling that here in the US. somehow we’re not living up to our bacon potential. So how do we fix our bacon industry?
 
(And don't get me started on "Canadian Bacon" in the US, which is a sad, shallow approximation of proper Canadian Peameal Bacon)
#83
Greymo
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/01/12 16:17:48 (permalink)
kaszeta

And a trip to my parents' house reminded me of one of the most memorable meals of my lifetime, when I discovered this little gem in a scrapbook:

Yes, that's a vintage menu from Casa Bonita in 1980!

I remember that trip as a young kid in 1980.  Passing through the Denver area on a family road trip to the Rockies, we stopped to check out the famous Casa Bonita.  I still have visit memories of quite a few things: the cliff divers, Black Bart's Cave, weird gift shops, raising little Mexican flags to get more sopapillas.... and the worst "Mexican" food I've ever had (and close to one of the worst meals I've had in my entire life).  Casa Bonita was magical... and terrible.  At the same time!

(I went back there once in 2007 just to see if it was as bad as I remembered.  It was).



Too Funny!  My husband, young son and I were there in 1984.   We were on a trip out west and had friends in Denver who said that we would love the place!  They were younger than us and I did not want to suggest any of the places that we had in mind.  We told them to pick their favorite place and this was it!
 
Just as you described, and the food was dreadful.  My son read your post and now wants to take his kids there...............I told him to bring Tums with him.
#84
CajunKing
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/02/02 18:51:36 (permalink)
kaszeta

Ralph Melton

kaszeta
Yeah, "Black Cab" is shorthand for a hackney cab (cab for call/hire), as opposed to a Mini-cab or Livery-cab (where you call and make reservations).  Like a "Yellow Cab" in New York, although a "Black Cab" driving has very demanding licensing requirements (like having "The Knowledge", basically knowing every street in London and how to get from point A to B without maps)


A cabdriver in London told us that it took four years to acquire the necessary mastery of the city to get a license.

That sounds about right.  My own talks with cabdrivers taught me that "The Knowledge" test was really two things:  The published list of 320 routes (the "Blue Book", which is actually pink and comes in four sections), which is basically rote memorization... and then they also test you on things that you would be expected to know if you had actually driven all 320 Blue Book routes and paid attention (landmarks, side streets, etc).  And yeah, and once you apply, you've got two years to prep before they start exams, and after that it's basically a two year set schedule of tests if you don't have to retake anything.

I've seen people training quizzing each other, and it's kind of fun to watch.

 
The knowledge is not only the streets and how to get from point A to point B, but knowing the landmarks and historical events too.  A friend of mine who is a licensed driver in London, took 5 years to acquire his license.  He makes killer money and has fun doing it!
post edited by CajunKing - 2014/02/02 18:56:58
#85
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Re:Kaszeta's 2013 year in review. 2014/02/02 21:31:12 (permalink)
kaszeta

Sundancer7
When I was in England and when I had breakfast at the hotel, they brought me something that did not look like traditional bacon and I was told it came from the back instead of the belly.  Much leaner than American bacon and tastier.  They called it back bacon and sometimes rashers.

I'm surprised that for a country that ostensibly has as much love of bacon as the US, the US in generally kind of sucks at it.  While we do have some outstanding bacon producers out there (Nueske's has pretty good distribution, and I'm blessed to live a short drive from North Country Smokehouse), most places I go, the option is simply "bacon", and most of that is pretty generic, thin-sliced commodity bacon.  If you’re lucky, there are a few brands, some more thickly sliced than others. Maybe some token peppered bacon or maple bacon. But in general, we live in a bacon wasteland.

Compare that to when I'm in the UK, and if I go to a decent grocery store, I have quite a few options, including at least four types of bacon (Streaky or Back, smoked and unsmoked), and many places have a much, much better selection (different thicknesses, different seasonings):


Somehow, I have the feeling that here in the US. somehow we’re not living up to our bacon potential. So how do we fix our bacon industry?

(And don't get me started on "Canadian Bacon" in the US, which is a sad, shallow approximation of proper Canadian Peameal Bacon)


Yes, a Bacon Butty is a wonderful thing to behold and an even better thing to eat!  We make fun of British cooking, but I lived there for 5 years.  Yes, some of those comments are true.but there are some great finds and their selection of Bacon and Gammon are just 2 examples
 
There is a guy in NC who makes bacon with the "Wiltshire cure", which is the closest I have seen here.  But unless you are traveling through Lumberton, NC ( I think), it's hard to find, even mail order.
 
OTOH........thanks to our diversity here in the US, we have it all over them in "sausages"......most of which came to us from other countries.
#86
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