Fish Tacos, Diego’s, Newport RI

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Poolville Country Store, NY

As mentioned many times before, going to school in upstate New York leaves much to be desired in terms of culinary experiences. On the one hand, I save a considerable amount of money. On the other hand, it’s easy to see how students can subsist on Ramen noodles.

However, I got a chance to visit the Poolville Country Store, a bed and breakfast that serves way more than just breakfast. As a birthday treat, my parents came to visit and took me to this quaint spot for lunch. They specialize in locally-sourced foods, and most of the menu items were vegetarian or pescetarian, both plusses in my book. (Although, it does make one wonder how you get fresh “local” seafood when you are hundreds of miles from the ocean.)

We were first served a few squares of blueberry crumb cake. Buttery, rich goodness.

Unsure of whether or not it was lunch time or breakfast time, I settled on savory tastes despite my two cups of coffee and this blueberry treat. We ordered polenta fries, smothered in gorgonzola cheese on a bed of mixed greens. Salty but so fabulous, this dish makes me want to experiment more with polenta. The shrimp and vegetable rolls were also fabulous, with a smattering of wasabi aioli that was flavorful. My only complaint was that the menu spelled “shrimp” incorrectly.My caesar salad was standard, though the (single) anchovy on top was appreciated. It’s unfortunate there weren’t more anchovies to really bring out the flavor. I had a large bowlful of lobster bisque which was delicious, though salty. Lastly, a taste of this crab cake made our meal complete. Moist, tasty rounds of crab served with lemon aioli were fantastic. All in all, a pleasant, filling, delicious experience…particularly for upstate New York.

 

Puerto Vallarta (and some unbelievable food)

ImageAs you may already know, I spent the past week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The trip, my first to Mexico, exceeded my expectations. Of course, my boyfriend and I were constantly comparing the place to other trips we’ve been on to Nicaragua and Bali. Each and every place has a beauty of its own, both in terms of landscape, people, and food culture. Thus, it’s impossible to compare the trips. Once again, I ate my way through the vacation and boy was it worth it.ImageImage

The best meal we ate was at El Andariego. Steps from the city center, this restaurant certainly gives patrons both quantity and quality. The mural walls are funky, but the best part, other than the food, was the incredible service. Our server, Jesus, made us guacamole at the table. He also served us a free taste (or two) of Mexico’s famous tequila…

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I ordered the Fish Tacos, which were flavorful thanks to the addition of pineapple. Pickled onions, rice, a delicious sweet corn bread, beans, and avocado crème were served on the side. My stomach was in heaven.

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My boyfriend ordered the Chicken Fajitas, which in his words were “the best fajitas” he’s ever had.

Evidence of this claim are shown by the demolition he did to his meal:

After a week filled with deep-fried cheese enchiladas, mounds of tortilla chips, fruity drinks and lounging on the beach, I am thankful that I am training for a marathon…

Healthy Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

I am many miles away from this place…

Going to school in upstate New York means that the fish supply is questionable. I’m not keen on the “fresh” fish that is sold in the supermarket, and there aren’t any boutique fish markets around. True, I could go ice fishing as many residents do, but the cost-benefit of laboring over my protein is not worth it. Obviously fresh, local fish is the best kind both in terms of taste and sustainability, but there are times when this is just not possible to purchase. Cue frozen fish.

Before arriving at school, I stocked up on frozen foods which included halibut steaks and haddock fillets from Whole Foods. Frozen fillets are certainly better than Gordon’s Fish Sticks (although admittedly those are pretty tasty, bringing back many childhood memories).

This recipe, Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish is one that will become a staple in my recipe repertoire. Served with a generous salad and a side of couscous, this meal comes together in no time.

Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

4 white fish fillets or steaks (adjust cooking times for thickness)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian style)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In an oiled baking pan, place fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic, oil, cheese and thyme until a thick paste forms. Pat mixture on fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish easily flakes.

 

Easy Shrimp Scampi and a Food Court

The food court at the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney is perhaps the wildest food court I’ve ever visited. I mean that in the best way possible. The walls are a shiny black granite-like material, making you feel like you’ve landed somewhere glamorous. It also makes it seem like the food court is endless, which in some respects it is. Check out the ice cream sundaes and smoothie station below:

Concerning the shrimp, I trekked down to the major supermarket about a mile away just to buy frozen shrimp. Call me crazy, but it was the best decision. Not only did I get shrimp, but I also purchased some yummy quinoa flakes.

As a student who occasionally (i.e. most of the time) wants a fast meal and one that requires little cleaning, I loved this lightened shrimp scampi dish. The best part about this recipe? It’s made using just a microwave. I served it with brown rice because I didn’t have pasta around. I also added more baby spinach than the recipe called for. The shrimp I purchased were smaller than I imagined, but at least they were cooked, peeled and deveined. On a different note, all shrimp in Australia are called prawns, despite the distinction between the two fish.

Microwave Shrimp Scampi

Serves 1

12 small-medium frozen shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup spinach leaves, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 lemon, juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a large microwaveable bowl. Toss to coat shrimp. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove and mix again. Microwave for another 1 minute 15 seconds. Serve over pasta or, as I did, rice.

The picture does not do this dish justice, but believe me, it’s delicious, quick, easy, and oven-less.

Sam’s Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, CA

On my recent trip to California, I drove down the coast from San Francisco to eat dinner in Half Moon Bay. Sam’s Chowder House was a delightful surprise, serving seafood in proper New England style but with a twist. I tried the California Halibut served with leeks and a risotto:

Other dishes that were ordered in my party included a grilled salmon plate,

and a tuna dish with cannellini beans and artichokes:

The meal was fresh, tasty, and reminiscent of home. The restaurant is situated on the water, and while I was first skeptical of the quasi-touristy feel to the exterior, I tremendously enjoyed this meal.

Lobstah

Fresh Maine lobster signals summer. Just like cooking, you have to work to get the meat. But this is rewarding work, as the lobster tastes exponentially better than the mush that comes in the freezer section or in a can.