Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh Mai: Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen!

Since I first drove past this restaurant two months ago, I have been excited to eat there. This past Friday was my chance. Having eaten a Vietnamese sandwich at the Eden Village in Washington DC this Summer, I knew that it could be a great experience.

As you turn in to the parking lot off of State St. you find that it's not a parking lot but more of a driveway. It's an old converted bungalow home with a few parking spots in back but most people line up on the side of the driveway. Much of the character has remained in the building and adds to the experience.

While waiting in line and reading the menu, you get hit with price shock. Not shock at high prices, but low. The Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) section of the menu has prices ranging from $3.98 for the Bi (Shredded Pork) up to $5.28 for a Bo Dai Han (Spicy Beef Short Rib). You immediately wonder if you need two sandwiches but then see them coming out of the kitchen and realize that you will be fine with one.

I ordered the Bo Dai Han Sandwich; not because I read the ingredients but because of the name. After ordering, I did read the ingredients and was excited: Kim chee, ginger, oiled scallions, cucumber, cilantro, siracha, and garlic-chili fish dressing. Sounds like an interesting combination.

The verdict: It's Good, and has some fire with the siracha. The Kim chee, ginger, scallions, cucumber and cilantro adds a lot of freshness to the sandwich. The beef is crispy (I wonder if there is a little batter on it) and delicious. Rib meat is fabulous. All the Banh Mi are served on a 8" baguette. These baguettes are baked to perfection with a soft inside and a crunchy exterior. Is it as good a sandwich as Caputo's or Gandolfo's? They are in totally different classes.

Sous Chef Jesse enjoyed his Dac Biet (Original) sandwich. It has steamed pork roll, jambon ham, pork head cheese, garlic-butter, pork pate, mayo, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots & daikon, salt & pepper, and jalapeno. He especially liked the daikon. My friend ordered the Dau Hu Xao Xa (Lemongrass Bean Curd) and also loved it.

Sous Chef Jesse with his Dac Biet

You have to admire those brave souls who open a restaurant. I was assisting a Chef this week who owned his own restaurants for 15 years. He spoke of the long hours and often low pay. He frankly burned himself out. The workers at Oh Mai certainly have passion and are very enthusiastic about their restaurant. Just last night I told three people how wonderful the food is and that I can't wait to get back. Give them a try.

Oh Mai
3425 South State Street
South Salt Lake, Utah, 84115

Happy Eating

Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Curry Fried Chicken: What a combination, and an establishment!

A good friend and I often go to lunch. He has tuned in to my desire to find new places and is great about recommended restaurants. A Client of his had gone to Curry Fried Chicken and highly recommended it. How can you turn down a place like that? Once you get over wondering whether it's an Indian restaurant or Southern Greasy Spoon. I love good chicken.

It's a cozy joint tucked into an old building on State St. close to downtown. My goal in reviewing restaurants is finding those places that are affordable, local and where a lot of passion goes into it. How do you know about their passion before you eat there? You don't. You find out when you arrive and taste the food. Curry Fried Chicken definitely had the feel of a place where they are passionate about food.

The guy taking your order writes it down on a plain notebook, then hurries over to the stove and helps another person cook the food. It takes a while to get your order. Not that rush of efficiency that we all get worked up about, but as you watch them cook, you don't care. It's very obvious that they put a lot of passion into what they do. The owner/cook came over and asked if we would like some hummus while we waited. Absolutely! It was clear that the hummus was made fresh. It had a bite to it and some good garlic. It was smooth and refreshing.

For the meal I ordered the Curry Fried Chicken Plate. How could you not? It comes with two pieces of curry fried chicken, lentils over basmati rice, salad, pita and veggies. What a sight. I have never seen a colorful piece of chicken before. The yellow dusting curry powder made is stand out. I wanted to prolong the sight so I dug into the lentils first. Even those had some spice to them. Not enough to make you cringe but enough to let you know that you're alive. All of this for $9.95.

As for the fried chicken, they do have passion and know how to cook. The batter is extra crispy but not thick. It snaps like a wafer when you bite into it. The chicken was perfectly moist and tender. The curry definitely hits you fast and makes your mouth water. It takes you a minute to reconcile curry with fried chicken but it comes quick. Spicy yes, but if that is not for you there are other options.

Open for five months already and with delicious food, this place will be patronized often by me. Give them a taste.

Happy Eating.

Curry Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadilas

This is a re-post due to popular demand.

Every Valentine's Day since 2003, I have a tradition of cooking Rachel dinner. It started as a way to save money and avoid the crowds, but has become something that we both really enjoy. Since I love to cook, this works out well. It also keeps me from having to be part of the mass of men wandering through the store looking at cheesy valentine's balloons, flowers, and chocolates. Yes, you can tell that I am a romantic.

Each year it is a dish that we have not eaten before. I always do a lot of research looking for a dish that is very "Rachie." She loves fancy cheeses and breads, so when I came across the Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas dish, I knew that I had found the Valentine's dinner for this year. Here it is:

Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas:

4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
6 whole wheat tortillas
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves


1. Spread goat cheese on tortillas. Divide mango, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro on one half of each tortilla. Fold tortilla over filling.

2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook quesadillas until cheese softens and tortillas are crisp and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each into 4 wedges. Serve it and Love it.

These were a huge hit. Once Rachel found out that goat cheese was in the dish (even before she knew the entire recipe), I was a hero. The creaminess of the goat cheese really mixed well with the other ingredients. The red onion added a sharpness that makes your mouth water.

Try it soon; you will love it also. You know where I found this recipe: Everyday FOOD magazine. There are quite a bit of good recipes here.

Happy Eating.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Siam Orchid: A return for dinner!

Back in July, I went to a belated birthday lunch at Siam Orchid. Their food was disappointing and I made it know so on my review. They saw my review a couple weeks ago and called me. Initially I braced for a tongue lashing but it never happened. They said that they were sorry that my visit was disappointing and that they have made menu changes and even changed Chefs. I was invited to come back in for dinner. How do you turn that down?

As I walked in, they immediately knew who I was and welcomed me warmly. They even remembered which table I had occupied 3 months earlier.

Lady Finger Rolls

Complimentary to all patrons are the Lady Finger Rolls. It is their creation and it was a delight. It's crispy, not oily, and has a flared out design. It's just enough to tide you over and I love that your not biting through a large, oily wrap to get to the filling.

As an appetizer I had the Thai Fresh Spring Rolls. I was in awe as they were placed on the table. The presentation was beautiful. It's stuffed with lettuce, carrots, chicken and a prawn wrapped in rice paper. There is a side of peanut sauce and a soy dip. The peanut sauce was like none I had experienced before. It was creamy, not runny. The soy dip is soy sauce with some additional sweet and spice. I loved both sauces. It has a very fresh taste and the cilantro adds a nice little bite. My only advice would be to pace yourself. I ate 3 of the 4 rolls and was nearly full, which saddened me because I still had Tom Yum Soup and Panang Curry on the way.

Thai Fresh Spring Rolls

Tom Yum Soup

The Tom Yum (Thai Hot and Spicy Soup) is my latest addiction. I ordered it with prawns and requested the spice level to be medium. Anytime in life that you think staying in the middle of the road is safe ground (metaphorically), you get that wake up call. Wow! Medium-Spicy is SPICY, but absolutely delicious. There were onions, mushrooms, cilantro, tomatoes and the best broth you have ever tasted. In previous posts about Tom Yum, I have written of my love for the perfect spicy, vinegary broth. It hits you fast and makes your mouth water. You will crave it at all hours of the night. People watching me at the restaurant probably thought that I needed therapy. I would move my spoon in a propeller motion through the soup and then taste it. This was usually followed by a "hmmmm" or "wow" and then repeated.

One quick note about the Tom Yum soup. She brought me a side of lime saying that in Thailand, some people add a lime for sourness. I did that and it really gave the dish an extra component.

They knew that I love curry. We discussed the types of curry at length. Initially I was a fan of Massaman Curry. Recently I switched to Green Curry craving some variety and also a little more spice. Desiring to try something new, Panang Curry sounded great. It carries with it flavors and aromas of distant places and has peanuts as the major ingredient in the paste.

Panang Curry

The Panang Curry was loaded with ingredients: green peppers, red peppers, peas, cilantro, pineapple, pork, zucchini, and some little strands of greens that I could not identify. I kept trying those leaf strands obsessing over what they were. They didn't taste like scallions but they did pack a punch. It did add quite a bit of flavor to the dish. Eventually I gave in and accepted that I did not know. I asked them and they said it was kaffir. Wow, I had heard the name but never tasted it in that form. Delicious it was, along with rest of the curry. The texture was perfectly creamy and the pork was very tender and flavorful. There definitely was a spicy kick to it but not overwhelming.

We sat and talked for a while after the meal. The owner told me that in authentic Thai cooking, they don't follow recipes. They really need a Chef who knows the cuisine. The owner or manager will taste it twice before going out to the table. The new Chef at Siam Orchid is definitely skilled. The food really was night & day from when I went in July.

Thai Fresh Limemade. Absolutely worth it!

They truly have a passion for food. Learning to cook growing up in Thailand, the owner fell in love with food at a young age. Coming to the United States, she worked in Thai restaurants in San Francisco for five years before moving on to Salt Lake City. Her love for what she does is evident. I was grateful to be their guest and to see true passion. They definitely get my vote this time.

Siam Orchid
4410 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84124

Happy Eating

 Siam Orchid on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 19, 2012

Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound: A Foodie Adventure!

Some vacations are simply getaways are others are soul soothers. Our vacation last week to Whidbey Island was truly a soul soother. Nothing like a cottage on the water, collecting sea shells, riding the ferry boats, hiking in the woods, eating great food, reading a book and gazing into the moonlight.

We had some great food experiences while on the island. Whidbey has towns & hamlets with quaint buildings and fabulous restaurants. Here are a few of those exceptional eateries:

Tomato Bisque at Mosquito Fleet Chili

Mosquito Fleet Chili: This family run restaurant is located right on the water in Coupeville, a small hamlet on Penn Cove. My Cousin was naming a few of the restaurants in town. As soon as she said "Mosquito Fleet Chili" I knew that this was the place. You are not supposed to judge a book by it's cover but can you be impressed with a restaurant by just it's name? Peruvian Shrimp and Corn Chowder was the special of the day. Again, I was impressed with the name. It was an absolute delicious dish cooked in a perfect seafood broth with cabbage, corn and peas. They could have even left out the shrimp and it still would have been wonderful.

Peruvian Shrimp and Corn Chowder

If you are ever on Whidbey Island, do not pass this place up. Eat out on the patio and enjoy the boats and birds. Everything they make is homemade; even the bread. I could plan to have my ashes spread here.

Crab Cake Benedict at Seabolt's

Seabolts Smokehouse: This is a family owned business located in Oak Harbor, in operation since 1978. Part of the building is actually a processing plant for their catch. I believe that they even own their own boats. They restaurant was eventually added to further vertically integrate the business. I ordered the Crab Cake Benedict with Home Fries. My hopes were high having eaten at Mosquito Fleet Chili a day prior. The food was okay. The crab cake had copious amounts of breading which absorbed a lot of oil. It was tough to taste the crab. The hollandaise sauce was fabulous. Not the best food but they have so many options that I would be happy to return.

Red Potato Salad at Pickle's Deli

Pickle's Deli: Now this place is a treat. Located in Clinton on Whidbey Island, it's run by people who are truly passionate about good food. They are very friendly and are constantly talking about their hiking and paddle boarding adventures. They love life and love what they do. The food is certainly indicative of this.

Pickle's Deli Roast Beef and Havarti Sandwich

I ordered the Roast Beef and Havarti: Rosemary Diamante bread spread with mayo and Dijon topped with lots of thinly sliced Italian roast beef, creamy Havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber slices and alfalfa sprouts. I am always on a quest to find a delicious sandwich and have found such at Gandolfo's and Caputo's. This was just as equal, if not better. All of their ingredients are fresh and organic. Every bite was an explosion of flavor. If only I could eat here everyday. I would be happy, but tight on cash.

There you have it! These are all the reasons you need to travel to the Puget Sound. There are plenty of other activities but this is a food blog, so I will stick with that.

Happy Eating and Traveling

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Boston Butt with a Honey Mustard Glaze

Now that's a Big Butt!

What is a Boston Butt you ask? It's another name for Pork Shoulder. It's one of the meats that we judge at KCBS Competitions and it's incredibly delicious. With another dinner coming up for the Society of Divine Foodies, I was excited to smoke a Boston Butt. It was another cut of meat on my list since I received my Traeger Smoker.

It's amazing the amount of time it takes to smoke a butt, 1 1/2 hours per pound. Thankfully I marinated it Thursday night and put it on the smoker first thing Friday morning. Any day which starts with meat on the grill is a good day. Having never smoked one before, I was a little anxious.

The Smoker, 8:30am. That's the start of a good day!

Honey Mustard glazed Boston Butt

1 5-7 pound Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder
3/4 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt & Pepper, to sprinkle
2 cups apple cider

Sprinkle salt & pepper over meat. Mix yellow mustard, honey, Cajun seasoning and brown sugar in bowl. Spread honey mustard mix over every area of meat. Preheat smoker to 225 degrees. Place water pan in smoker to keep meat moist. Spray apple cider over meat every hour. Cook meat for 1 1/2 hours at 225 degrees for every pound of meat. It fully cooked when internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

The Smoker, 3:30pm

It's a sight of pure beauty. I had to be careful not to stand there staring for too long every hour when I sprayed with apple cider. The temperature drops fast and takes a while to recover. Needless to say, it was beautiful when we pulled it off the grill 9 hours later.

6:00pm: off the smoker and resting

I had Sous Chef Sam pull, slice and chop the pork. We couldn't help but taste test every few minutes. The crispy glazed exterior was something which belongs in a meat museum. It was the highlight of my day. Most of the honey mustard cooks off but allows the rub to stay on. There were hints of Cajun seasoning but nothing overpowering. You could taste the apple cider and it was delicious.

Sous Chef Sam performing The Chop

To serve, we placed the pulled pork on rolls, scooped on cole slaw and lathered apricot barbeque sauce over the top. Wow! Due to many people at our home, Sous Chef Sam and I ate at Ruby's little table. Our knees were higher in the air than our plates of food. Uncomfortable but once you bit into the pulled pork slider, all your troubles were forgotten.

In addition to the pulled pork, we had skirt steak with scallion sauce, grilled patty pan squash and caramel chocolate cake among other items. Most of us were too full to move, yet we kept on nibbling. It was a night to remember. And just in case I fell in love with Boston Butt, I bought two. There is one in my freezer just waiting to be smoked. Most people count sheep when they can't sleep. I think about what glaze I can do on my next piece of smoked meat.

Happy Eating

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pat's BBQ Review by Sous Chef Sam

Sous Chef Sam, with my first review of American food!

At work the other day, my boss Fred was nice enough to buy me lunch. He said he was going to Pat's Barbeque. I'd never heard of it, so I asked for anything good, and ribs. Now I can't tell you anything about how the establishment looked, or the prices. What I can tell you about is the Rib and Brisket I was given.

First impression: "Whoa."
Big. And mainly meat, as it should be.

I had three very large, black and pink ribs, with seasoning to make any REAL BBQ-er proud. Soft and just GOOD. The brisket was slips of pink, barely tough, meat, which I liked. It was also exactly what taste you imagine a fire-roasted beef would be, if you were cool enough to be a roaming cowboy, camping out under the stars. It also came with a pint of some tasty sweet baked beans, two sauces which were both great, and, (to my excitement,) a large cut of actually GOOD cornbread. The thing was dessert, honestly.

The whole platter was great. Completely classic BBQ; big, messy, and delicious. I became manlier with every bite. It made me a little nostalgic about Tennessee, where I lived for two years as a kid. I hope the price is right because I may just go the extra ten-or-so blocks for it again, past the fantastic Firehouse BBQ (now called Bubba's.) I now know that Pat's is a bit famous around here, and I can see why. Very good barbeque!

155 West Commonwealth Avenue (2125 South)
South Salt Lake, Utah, 84115
Happy Eating

Friday, October 12, 2012

CousCous Grill. Sous Chef Sam's Second Review

Sous Chef Sam with my second review!

CousCous is a Greek eatery located in Murray, Utah. It is to Greek food, what Smashburger is to burgers. You can sit down or you can get your order to go. It is very clean, and very pretty inside. It had some expensive-looking pictures and sculpted things on the walls, but included booster seats. So very casual.

And very good. Anyone who paid attention (and stayed after the credits) when they saw Marvel's The Avengers, noticed Iron Man talk about Shwarma. When I saw this on the menu at Cous Cous, I couldn't resist ordering it out of curiosity. It was fantastic! Imagine a very good and fresh lamb gyro with a roasted tomato salad inside it, and a healthy dose of a special mix of that strangely delicious cucumber dressing.  It was warm and crunchy with lettuce and other vegetables. It was big, too. If it hadn't been so great, I might not have been able to eat it all. However, what I could NOT finish was the pile of very good cous cous, which comes with everything on the menu, I believe. We sat and ate and talked about random grown-up things, but I was mainly focusing on my awesome food. And Ruby, who liked climbing everywhere. After half an hour, the lunch was over.

I can honestly say I loved it all. This place gets five stars from me. My platter was about thirteen dollars, which, considering the quality, size, and freshness, is completely understandable. I'm gonna take a very nice date there, someday when I can find a very nice date...

The next time I'm in the neighborhood, and feeling for really good Greek, (which is about every other day for me,) I will hit up CousCous and try the other great things they have.

5470 South 900 East
Murray, Utah, 84117
Happy Eating
Couscous Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Photo Credits

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kansas City Barbeque Society

Since I began my love affair with cooking, grilling and BBQ have become two of my favorite things. This past summer, I received a Traeger Smoker as a birthday present from Rachel. It was a fabulous day. Shortly thereafter I smoked some ribs, a turkey, chickens and some skewers. The whole world is opening up to me.

During this time I was introduced to KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society). Despite the name, it is not exclusive to Kansas City in events or style of BBQ. They actually sanction over 450 events every year throughout the country. For all of these BBQ events and competitions they need Judges. At first I was hesitant to sign up for the Judging class feeling like I was a novice myself. I did it anyway and learned so much about ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken.

The class was held in conjunction with the "Smokin in Mesquite" BBQ competition at the Casablanca Resort in Mesquite Nevada. What a pleasure it was to be there. Not only did we learn a lot about the types of meats, cooking styles and presentation, but we went over all the rules for judging. That was a lot of information. It got me really excited to not only be involved with more competitions but to cook a lot more on my smoker. Seeing the custom built smokers from many of the cooking teams was a majestic sight.

A few weeks after the event, I received all my KCBS membership information in the mail; including my name badge. In big red letters on the name badge it says, "Certified Barbeque Judge." I can't wait to wear it to the next family, friend or neighborhood barbeque. When someone says that their dish is pretty good, I will have formal authority to respond with "I'll be the judge of that." Blatent arrogance or unconditional support?

Happy Eating

Monday, October 8, 2012

Glady's Place: The Best Food in Bear Lake!

While in Bear Lake, our mouths watered as we drove past the burger joints in Garden City. Our second day there, it was time to indulge. We ate at Merlin's. I won't bother to review it fully because it was bad. The onion rings were good but the burgers, fries and even the shakes were awful. It was sad because you crave the greasy junk food when you are on vacation.

On a whim, while on a trip to Bear Lake last fall, I dropped into Gladys' Place in Fish Haven, Idaho. The guy who runs the place told me that they have the best sandwiches around. I asked where to order the sandwiches since the front of the store was filled with liquor and lottery tickets. It's obviously a place where many people from Utah head to place their hopes on the powerball lottery. He said that the sandwich counter was in the back. I made my way through the small hallway and found the counter. I ordered a sandwich and absolutely loved every bite.

Fast forward to last week. We were in Bear Lake again and I was craving a sandwich from Gladys' Place. The burger joints were no longer calling to me. We went on a Saturday afternoon and it was extremely busy. They were short a couple of employees and there must have been a powerball that night because the line was very long. Nevertheless the sandwiches were worth the wait.

Roast Beef & Horseradish

Rachel ordered the Turkey & Avocado. I ordered the Roast Beef & Horseradish with Swiss. The 40 minute wait was long but a large sweet roll tided us over. We sat on a nice picnic table outside. The weather was in the mid 70's and sunny. It truly was a perfect afternoon.

Turkey & Avocado

The Roast Beef & Horseradish was on a large, crispy, buttery croissant. The crunch when you bit into the sandwich was a delightful sound. The Roast Beef was stacked high and was very tasty. The Swiss cheese made a perfect marriage of all the ingredients including tomatoe, lettuce and onion. The Horseradish was smeared all over the sandwich and provided a spiciness which left you craving more.

The sandwiches are only $7.59. Maybe more than a combo meal but you will never go back to the burger joints. Drive the 6 miles north from Garden City. You won't regret it.

Gladys' Famous Sweet Roll

2695 Highway 89
Fish Haven, Idaho, 83287

Happy Eating.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Barbacoa: Sous Chef Sam's First Post!

Hey! It's Sous Chef Sam. I recently was so disappointed with a restaurant that I felt obligated to write a review for my uncle Jeff.

We hiked up Neff's Canyon, at the foot of Mt. Olympus, today. Jeff brought his high school friends from back-in-the-day, who hiked that canyon with him many times as teenagers. We crested the third highest peak around, so my buddy Chris (who came along) and I called it Bronze Peak. It took hours to climb and minutes to descend. I was famished, having had only a small granola bar and Shaun White mint gum for the entire hike. I also tried to find wild things to eat, but all I found were berries that didn't look like they could be trusted. We wove the car back into the valley, and parked at Barbacoa on Wasatch Blvd. It was hard to tell what to get, since you only see the menu about four feet before you are expected to order. However, I had almost fallen to my death an hour previous, and I just wanted lots of food, now. The nice lady let Chris sample the mango chicken, but he later told me it was seriously lacking flavor. I tried it too, and I agree. I'm not sure how you can water down chicken, but they did. I ordered a Barbacoa Beef burrito. I was warned it was spicy, as there was a fire symbol on the menu. It cost about seven dollars, and I skipped getting cheese and guacamole, because they were an extra 99 cents EACH.

The burrito was big! I was happy, despite the weird pricing. I sat down to eat after getting water with lemon. Now, it may just be my Dutch genes, but this thing was too hot. I wanted to wolf it down! However, each bite seemed to have three whole drops of Tabasco sauce. I love that stuff, but it slowed my eating to the point that I had to open it up and pick out the non-flaming parts with a fork so I could continue. The water was terrible. At the foot of Mt. Olympus, water should be fantastic (Chris and I found a spout where Olympus Water trucks fill up, and we filled our bottles before climbing.) Any time I wanted to reduce the heat in my mouth so I could continue eating, I had to drink something else entirely. It was clear, but it tasted like it had come out of a mop, and smelled that way too. Maybe they put bleach in their water to kill germs. I thought it was a fluke, but the refill was the same. I couldn't enjoy anything I put into my mouth, and the fact that they also sell Barbacoa's brand hoodies made me scoff at their cheap attempt to seem like a quality eatery.

A food place should serve good food. This place was very clean and pretty, but so are butterflies. And they, like Barbacoa's, taste bad. I would know. If you want quality Mexican, try Rubios in Sugarhouse, Beto's in Holladay (they may have changed their name,) and Jeff says La Fountain is very good.


 Barbacoa Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Anaheim Chili Smoked Chicken

As I fall more desperately in love with my Traeger Smoker, inspiration flows freely. Saturday morning I was at the grocery store and picked up two whole chickens (not live chickens). The day got busy and around 3:00pm I realized that I had to figure out a marinade. Having done a Herbed Butter Smoked Chicken before, I knew that deliciousness was definitely possible.

Butter would have to be the first ingredient to give it that crispy skin. As I looked around, I knew that I wanted it to have some fire, some herbs, be moist, tender, and frankly the best chicken that has ever been eaten. Okay, humility now but the wow factor was definitely in play. I chopped a shallot, added Dijon mustard, minced an Anaheim chili peppers, cut up some basil, added some ground pepper, a few drops of apple cider vinegar, and seasoned the bird with salt.

A Smoking Chicken

Anaheim Chili Smoked Chicken

1 4-5 pound chicken
1/4 pound butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped
1 cup basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Seasoning salt to sprinkle over bird

Dry chicken with paper towels. Mix butter (soft but not melted), shallot, Dijon mustard, Anaheim chili pepper, basil, black pepper and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Rub butter mixture thoroughly over bird including under skin and in cavity. Tie legs together. Preheat smoker to 375 degrees. Place bird directly on grill rack with breast up. Smoke for 1 hour 15 minutes. Check internal temperature of bird and remove from smoker when internal temp is 165 degrees.

As you bite in, you will taste the heat of the peppers and the sweet tanginess of the shallot. The butter will leave the skin crisp and flavorful. The basil adds a freshness to the bird. It's a beautiful creation. Now what do 3 people do with a whole roast chicken in the fridge? Maybe breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Happy Eating

Monday, October 1, 2012

Simply Thai: It's Simple, but will it measure up?

Initially I came across Simply Thai when we were on our way to a family dinner. Being the Thai Food addict that I am, I immediately made a mental note to try it. Two weeks later the day arrived. A good friend and business associate asked where we were having lunch. I said "Simply Thai" and went to sleep dreaming of Thai food. Most people count sheep when they can't sleep. I ponder how spicy the curry will be and if the hot & spicy soup will make my mouth water.

Simply Thai is located in a busy strip mall by the Fashion Place Mall in Sandy, Utah. Unless you looked over at the right moment, you would never know it was there. As you walk in, it's bright, open and the smell welcomes beckons you further.

You have to love Thai restaurants almost for their lunch combos alone. The price is typically low, you get at least two options and the food is usually good. Here at Simply Thai, your choice of two lunch entrees comes to you for the low price of $6.99. That is hard to beat. Being on the hunt for the world's best Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Soup), I definitely needed that as my first entree. My friend highly recommended the Thai Green Curry, better known here as Gang Keow Wan. Two weeks earlier I had ordered a fabulous dish of exactly that at Thai Garden & Noodle House.

For the lunch rush, Thai restaurants must have vats of each entree made in back because it was out to our table in minutes. No more anticipation, it was time to dig in.

The Hot and Sour Soup was the most colorful I had seen at any Thai restaurant. Large pieces of cilantro combined with scallions and tomato made this appear as a salad at first. The colorful broth was lined with chicken and mushrooms. A powerful fragrance warmed my face. It looked good on the outside but so does a trophy date to the prom-you get to brag to your friends but ultimately your soul is drained and you hope they don't call again. Would this soup have the same fate?

I analyzed each spoonful carefully. Not wanting to pass judgement too quickly or to let them off the hook too soon. Sure it looked pretty but the scallions were the most spicy aspect to the dish. The broth was really tasteless. A good Tom Yum Gai broth will have vinegar and spices. Your mouth will water after every bite. You will go to bed at night dreaming of the next time you get to eat it. Unfortunately this soup held the fate of a trophy date-never to go out again. The chicken was also dry. I wanted to cry and yearned for the Tom Yum Gai at Pawit's Royale and Tasty Thai.

Turning my attention to the Green Curry to replenish my wavering soul, I moved spoonfuls of it from the bottom of the bowl up in a rolling motion. This was to ultimately admire the consistency of the texture. Was it oily, lumpy or mushy? Nope, this looked beautiful. But having been fooled by beauty just a few minutes earlier, I was cautious.

Verdict: beautiful on nearly all fronts-taste, appearance and texture. It actually had a more creamy texture similar to what you would find in massaman curry. The chicken was dry but there were enough other flavors to mask that. The red and green bell peppers were very fresh and flavorful. And the bamboo shoots, they could make an entire dish out of coconut milk and bamboo shoots and I would eat a gallon of it. It's that good. The spiciness of the dish was perfect-much spicier than the hot and sour soup. The Green Curry here is just as good as Thai Basil and Thai Garden.

I would come back again but rather than the Hot and Sour Soup, I would go with the Coconut Soup.

37 West 10600 South
Sandy, Utah, 84070

Happy Eating

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