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Monday, January 29, 2007

Hammond Steak House, Superior WI

Well (note, this is said with a huff), this posting was supposed to be restaurant review for Le Bistro in Superior, a new 'fine dining' experience in the Twin Ports. However (also said with a huff), they wouldn't let us in! Yes! Tis true! It was 5:00p on a Saturday night, there were three occupied tables, and the soonest they would be able to fit us in was 8:00p. Yes! 8:00p! Did I mention there were only three (3) tables occupied in this restaurant that had easily upwards of 25? I looked at the advertisement again to confirm that 'walk-ins were welcome'. I guess not really.

So thus turned away, my folks and I went down the road to our favorite steak house, the Hammond. This is an unpretentious place, a working class restaurant so to speak, that serves some mighty fine food. And so my review will be about the Hammond, who didn't turn us away at 5:15p on a Saturday night and seated us immediately.

Duane and I have been going here for several years, forgoing the trendiness of Timberlodge, Ground Round, the Pickwick and Outback Steakhouse. The Hammond specializes in Angus steaks done very nicely. They also do an absolutely succulent char-grilled shrimp. The average age of this restaurant is probably, oh, 50, so we're usually amongst the younger people present.
The waitresses used to all be ancient and bring out the meals on dollies. The salad dressing still comes in little tri-tubs to the table and then is whisked away for the next customers. Rolls and crackers wait at each table, and the butter is so cold you have to warm it up under someones coffee cup. We noticed this evening that the waitresses were a bit younger, but the meals still came out on dollies.

For this particular meal my dad ordered a center-cut sirloin, mom - upon my recommendation -had the char-grilled shrimp, and I gravitated to the chicken kiev (the last place I know of that serves one). Dad said his steak was seasoned and cooked perfectly to his request. Mom's shrimp was fantastic, served upon a bed of wild rice pilaf with a baked potato on the side. My chicken kiev hit the spot, also served with wild rice pilaf and I had mashed potatoes on the side. Oh! Even the mashed potatoes were delicious! Creamy, buttery, delish.

Our only complaint, and it is hardly a complaint but more of an observation, is we felt it odd to be served a wild rice pilaf and a potato side. I suppose had I asked I could have gotten veggies, but I didn't think of it in time. Besides, I love a well done mashed potato. Actually two complaints, they still allow restaurant wide smoking. They do have a small section set aside for non-smokers, but it's a grudging concession for us non-smokers.

So if I ever get over my indignation at being turned away from a restaurant (really! I was turned away!) I may go back and review Le Bistro. In the meantime, I direct the humble reader to try out the Hammond. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Recipe Review 1/25/07

Okay! Here's a post for my foodie friends! We're starting to recover from a slow start this year and things are now getting made. I had a good week this past week and I have more recipes on deck for next week. Very exciting. Here's the results:

Roast Turkey and Butternut Squash Risotto (Ckng Lght Annual 07, pg 408) 7
I have decided I really like risotto. Yes, it is time consuming - plan on at least an hour of prep and cook time - but the results! Oh so yummy. This one did take a bit longer to assemble as I got a phone call from the SIL and my cell phone drops calls in the area of the stove.

Anyway, as usual I digress. This was a really flavorful and delightful dish. I used some frozen rotisserie chicken (my favorite now!) and lightly reheated it. I did use half the amount the recipe called for. The butternut squash was from my garden last fall and well, everything else from the store. The squash was cubed and lightly cooked in some broth and set aside. The water and chicken broth for the risotto gently heated then the rice nicely sauteed before starting the slow process of adding the broth. So worth it. At the end, everything is combined and heated through. Creamy, smooth, nicely flavored. Yum! This made about 5 meals for me. You'll be seeing more risottos in the coming months.

Turkey Soup with Cheddar Dumplings (Culinary in the Country - c/o Everyday Foods) 8
Fantastic! And so easy! Saute some onion and carrots in a bit of oil. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Make the dumplings: flour, cornmeal, thawed frozen corn, egg, leavening and cheddar cheese. Bring the broth to a boil, add turkey (again, leftover rotisserie chicken) add dumplings and cook for about 8 minutes more and serve!

The dumplings turned out light and plump and so flavorful from the corn and cheddar. My only complaint was that the dumplings did absorb quite a bit of the broth so I have a deficit of broth to dumplings now toward the end of the week. If I make this again, I would up the broth and veggies. And maybe add some celery.

Sausage, Beans and Rice (Gail - c/o Penzey's One Magazine) 8
Ooo! I liked this one! Per Gail's notes, I halved this recipe right off the top. I also subbed black-eyed peas for the called for kidney beans (I'm really not wild about kidney beans) and I used the whole can of diced tomato to use it up. The flavors of this are reminiscent of, oh, perhaps southwestern crossed with Americanized Cuban or Puerto Rican. It was perhaps almost a bit too spicy - but I have potent Cayenne pepper so I should have known to cut back. The kielbasa added a nice meaty counterpoint and the simplicity of the whole dish was just great.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trying New Things

Well, this is a bit of an experiment to see if I like Blogger as opposed to Yahoo360. The following post is a bit of a repeat as I read the book, oh, over a month ago, but we just reviewed it last night in bookgroup. I thought that is a good a way as any to start off a new blog!

The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
This was nominated for a Hugo in 2005, but lost to Johnathon Strange and Dr. Norell by Suzanna Clark. The book group has selected it for our January meeting. The Algebraist was one cool space opera: big ideas, grandiose theme, epic quest, lots of cool aliens, big planets, a big cast of characters and, of course, a space battle at the end.

In a nutshell (because there is no good way to summerize a space opera), Fassin Taak, known as a Slow Seerer to the Dwellers which inhabit the gas-giant planet of Nasqueron, is recruited into the Solioquy Military to research further into something he found on his last research trip to Nasqueron. He finds himself traveling the infamous hypothetical wormholes of the Dwellers to the far reaches of the galaxy in quest of the Dweller List for that which he is actually traveling through! The farther along he goes, the deeper the mystery becomes.

Meanwhile, as Fassin delves deeper than he ever has before into the society known as the Dwellers, his family is annihilated, the threat of war grows imminent each day and everyone is trying to find him and the answer he might be carrying.

There are obviously other plot lines that revolve around Fassin, other characters affected by all of this drama, and of course, the Dwellers themselves. This book isn’t perfect by any means, some of the sub-plots seem to jump around a bit and there are a few issues left unresolved. Still, if you like space operas and don’t mind a slow read, this was one pretty cool book.

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