Condiment Addiction

Not just me, but it seems everyone I make this for, quickly develops an addiction to this multi use little condiment.

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 small spanish onion or 4 green onions/scallions

3 tbs red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

Extra virgin olive oil

Toss your scallion and garlic in the food processor and pulse. Next add in your washed (and dried) cilantro. Will work a bit easier if you divide one bunch into 3 portions and work it in batches.

Transfer to a bowl or container. Add your vinegar and salt and stir it in. Next add your olive oil until desired consistency. Should not be dry but not be running of a spoon either.

Slather on anything and enjoy.

Works very well as a chicken marinade also.

Of course you can add some heat to it with peppers of your choice. I made it over the weekend by adding one small dried ancho chilli pepper. Not spicey per se, but gave it a bit of a smoky flavor. Experiment and let me know what you come up with.

Remember to smile today…….

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!!

Without these brave young American soldiers, many of us would not be here today….and that includes yours truly.

It’s a good day, kiss and hug your loved ones, be grateful,  be nice and get your grill on!

Jose Andres-Genius Restaurants

Most but perhaps not everyone knows about Jose Andres. A true genius and one that truly cares about the well being of the citizens of this world. YES, I admire the man a whole lot. For those of you that need a small intro here we go:

José Andrés is a native of Spain and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup, the team responsible for Washington’s popular and award-winning dining concepts Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlantico and the critically-acclaimed minibar by josé andrés, as well as Los Angeles’ exciting destination, The Bazaar by José Andrés, part of the SLS Hotelat Beverly Hills. ThinkFoodGroup oversees all of José’s creative endeavors such as cookbooks, television programming, concept consulting and project development.

 One of GQmagazine’s 2009 Men of the Year, José is credited with introducing Americans to both avant-garde and traditional Spanish cooking. Born in the northern region of Asturias and raised outside of Barcelona, José chose cooking as his life’s work at the age of 15. He attended the School of Restaurants and Hotels of Barcelona and trained in Michelin-starred restaurants including El Bulli with world-renowned Master Chef and friend Ferran Adrià. He made his way to the U.S. and then to DC to work with Rob Wilder and Roberto Alvarez’s Proximo restaurants. Heading up the kitchen at Jaleo, he helped create one of the first critically and commercially successful tapas restaurants in the country, setting the standard for other Spanish restaurants for the next 15 years. José next took over the kitchen at Café Atlantico, a popular DC hangout, transforming it into one of the city’s most exciting dining destinations. Zaytinya followed soon after and then Oyamel. With the opening of his innovative minibar by josé andrés, Food & Winehailed José as the “hero of the Spanish revolution,” who “helped create the Spanish food boom in America.” And the New York Timescalled him “the boy wonder of culinary Washington.”  In 2006, José and Rob transformed Proximo restaurants into ThinkFoodGroup.

I think one of the keys of his succesful operation is that he inspires the people that work for him and ENCOURAGES innovation. Maybe encourage is too soft…he demands it 🙂

Enter center stage my friend Mr. Emil Rivara. Emil was recently tapped by Jose Andres and his Think Food Group. Emil a talented young sous chef, was ecstatic at the opportunity to be part of one of THE premier restaurant groups in the world. He left beautiful Naples and headed to Washington D.C. about 9 months ago. I was sad to see him go, but knew from the moment he mentioned the exciting news to me, that this was a huge leap in his professional career. Wise beyond his years and truly passionate about his profession, I knew he would fit in well in D.C. and that he would make his mark quickly and effectively.

A few weeks ago I had some business in D.C. and Emil and his lovely girlfriend Megan and I spent the most amazing night together restaurant hopping. We ate and drank the night away. The stuff of dreams folks. Fantastic friends paired with incredible food and drink. and a warmer spring night in a wonderful city.

Our first stop of the night was ZAYTINYA. This mediteranean eatery is just superb. Zaytinya offers an innovative mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines served up in a sleek and modern setting. We ate the least amount of food here but had a nice drink to start the evening off. All of the Jose Andres restaurants pride themselves on serving the best possible made drinks, all made with freshest ingredients (just like the food).

EMIL & MEGAN.

For some reason the pics I took did not come out well. We sampled a bit of hummus with home made pita bread, which was “puffed” full of air and deflated once you tore into it. We also had a home made spanakopita which was unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever tasted. Emil proudly told me that the phylo dough was homemade. It was delicious.  Just a  few bites like I said, there was much more eating to be done.

We took a walk and I had the pleasure of entering one of the most unique restaurants in the country.

JOSE ANDRES MINI BAR

It’s a tough reservation to get for the 2 seatings per evening at the small upstairs restaurant, but the bar is available to all and the little tapas are phenomenal as are the drinks. The bartenders are amazing and passionate mad scientists that concoct cocktails far beyond the scope of “drinks”. They won an award recently for their “leather infused tequila”. They scoured the country and found an original saddle maker in Texas that still cures leather the old fashioned way with out any chemicals. This was the leather they needed to soak their tequila in. Like I said…passionate mad scientists. 🙂

I tried a small sip and it was truly one of the most intricate alcohol tastes that I have ever experienced. Taking intricate one step further, they serve a few martini’s with their “reconstructed olive”. They basically make a mousse of olives, they then treat it with some “gas”, and work the foam/mousse into a small round shape that now looks like a green olive. I tasted it and it was out of this world. The “olive” instantly disappeared in my mouth almost like a cloud of smoke and left me tasting the most delicious olive experience you can imagine.

We had a vegetable and octopus dish;

I really have not a clue how they made the octopus so incredibly buttery, it melted in your mouth. The veggies were par boiled and sauteed in good butter. We also sampled some lamb empanadas that were decadent.

Next we went on to OYAMEL. This Mexican restaurant is plain fu…. amazing! I can’t wait to take my girlfriend there as the Mexican food is truly the very best I have ever had. From the home made chips and salsa to the guacamole. It’s just at a whole other level. This is the time to enjoy that corn chip in my opinion…not from a bag at the store but from a super restaurant that uses home made lard to fry their chips.

The Guacamole had a tiny bit of queso blanco in it and it made it delicious.

Next up CEVICHE! I really have no words to describe this dish. Maybe the best way to come close is to let you know that they used surgical grade tweezers to assemble the ingredients. Tuna ceviche and snapper ceviche:

Both ceviche plates had a crunchy topping. It was some type of crushed nut mixture, but I can’t remember exactly what. It was so good.

Lastly a little something different;

Yes folks that is a GRASS HOPPER TACO. It was a tad on the salty side, but the flavor was remarkable and I would bet a few bucks that you could serve this to anyone, let them enjoy it and they wouldn’t believe you afterwards that they ate a grasshopper taco.

For the final stop we went to Jaleo where Emil oversees the kitchen. This restaurant serves TRUE Spanish food. Simple, straightforward and yet wonderfully sophisticated. A real neat combination if you ask me.

Tiny potatoes with octopus and homemade mayo and paprika. We also sampled some chicken croquettes and another potato dish. I have to admit I was getting really full 🙂

If you find yourself in Washington D.C. go and visit one of these restaurants. If you love Mexican food…my pick would be to make it to OYAMEL.

As I’ve said, my new job is keeping me busy so sorry for the infrequent posts. I have been enjoying all of the wonderful writing from all of you that I learn so much from. Thank you.

My sister has adopted a full fledged feelgoodeating/primal/paleo/real food M.O. After her high blood pressure scare which is now under control, the Doc told her that her liver was a tad fatty. He told her NO alcohol, but I made it clear to sis that it’s not actually the alcohol as she doesn’t drink enough at all for that to be the cause. After sending her some blogs and info to read, her analytic mind got stimulated and she is starting to experiment. It makes me very very happy.

 Lao-tzu: “In order to eliminate the negative influences, simply ignore them.”

Smile a lot and be nice….that helps a lot too.

The Little Things and Real Food

I have traveled a good amount in my life, and it never ceases to amaze me that you don’t have to be in some exotic locale to find hidden gems. Little things, parks, creeks, walking paths that are often forgotten by the locals because they are in their own backyard. Thanks to my gorgeous and amazing girlfriend, I just experienced again one of those “little things”.

In a popular suburb of Dallas, right behind the hustle and bustle of a main street and a highway, tucked behind Target, Best Buy, Japanese Steakhouses, Deli’s and gas stations, was a charming residential neighborhood. The neighborhood had a small hidden park called “Celestial Park”. A perfect place for a nice run and some sprints on a large grassy meadow. Surrounded by something unique;

The meadow had steps on East and West side of it. The steps had the most beautiful quotes ingraved in them ranging from Roberst Frost, to Thoreau to Helen Keller. The middle of the grassy meadow had an old fashion “sun clock”. Round stones laid perfectly in a semi cirle around a rectangular standing stone. It casts your shadow to reveal the time very accurately.

Don’t forget about your very own neighborhoods, they contain some hidden “little things” that I think will catch you by surprise.

I hope many of you read Don Matesz’s blog. He keep pushing forward to grow, learn and uncover. Qualities of a true renaissance man in my opinion. His thinking is very much in line with my thoughts about food. It’s the very reason my blog has never been called Paleo or Primal. Keep it colorful and keep it real, and you’re 99% home 🙂 Make sure you go read a bit of Don’s latest post and comments. You have time to catch up…he’s away on his honey moon.

Enjoy the day.

Paleo on a Budget

Good post at Free The Animal. Richard giving some smart link love to Sean over at Prague Stepchild. I like this recent post and challenge especially because I think it will help a lot of people. So, I will share my food costs and recipes to join in the effort.

Let me start by saying, that event though the title of this post is Paleo on a Budget, I’m really more inclined to call it “Real Food on a Budget”. The term paleo, has lost some of it’s luster for me, mostly because it has gotten popular enough over the last year, that the moment you mention it out of your new found enthusiasm (and energy and weight loss, and overall feeling of just plain feel better when you have eaten this way for a while) you’re almost immediately attacked, argued with, lambasted for eating to much protein and the list goes on. So for me, when I pass on the bread basket, or not eat a bowl of pasta, I just like to say when asked, that I basically only eat “real food”. Most of the time, the inquiries stop right there. But I digress.

There are some very easy ways to really eat well and tasty on a budget. I will list in order of importance.

  1. Eat less (most of us really only need 2 meals a day, or just 1 if you sit all day)
  2. Shop at a farmers market (or market if in Europe)
  3. Buy bulk
  4. Do not buy unnecessary foods (ie, coconut flakes, almond powder, macadamia oil, you get the idea)

Here’s a farmers market cost break down from the weekend shopping;

  • 12 tomatoes at $3.
  • 2 large cucumbers and 6 small kirbys $2.
  • 2 large onions $1.
  • 6 sweet potatoes $3.
  • 4 avocados $4.
  • 5 garlic bulbs $1.
  • 3 red bell peppers $1.
  • 5 hot peppers $.50 (10 for a buck, but I knew I would’t finish them)

Next I went to Costco and bought 5 pounds of ORGANIC chicken skinless thighs for $16. I also bought a 2.25 pound bag of asparagus for $3.99. Last stop at the butcher for ground lamb on sale at $3.75 a pound. Bought 2 pounds. $7.50.

So, total for shopping cost on a Sunday was $43. How far will this get us for the week? Well, I haven’t the foggiest, so stay with me and lets look at my posts for the remainder of the week. Sunday dinner and Monday late afternoon meal were the same. Hot Sunday night and left overs (cold) on Monday.

Take 4 tomatoes and cut them into chunks and lay them on a cooie sheet. Next slice a quarter of a large onion and lay around the tomatoes. Chop 2 cloves of garlic and distribute over the tomatoes and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (I used coarse kosher salt). in the oven at 375 for about 2o minutes or so.

Cut up 2 avocados, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper;

Put all your chicken thighs in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, some lemon juice (lemon juice in the store costs $.99 and lasts a long time and makes marindes easy and affordable.), salt, pepper, onion powder and 6 cloves chopped garlic. Mix well and let sit at room temperature till no longer cold from the fridge.

Now I put them on the grill, but the come out very very good under the broiler in your oven.   

Serve eat and enjoy. Plenty of fat and protein and very tasty from the incredible flavors of the roasted tomatoes.

Make it a great day, smile, and move your body…even if you sit all day.

Restaurant Review KUSHI, Washington DC.

I was in Washington DC last week for a conference and went to a very very good Japanese restaurant. It is an Izakaya bar. It is a bit like a Japanese “tapas” restaurant. They serve small plates with delectable little treats. This is somewhat of a expanded Izakaya concept as they also serve sushi. I’m not sure traditional Izakaya bars in Japan have a sushi bar. The restaurant is called “KUSHI“, and trust me when I tell you, this one lives up to the hype. So if you find yourself in Washington DC, head over to 465 K street and enjoy yourself a little feast like I did. Make sure you sample one of their sake flights.

I heard the sushi was very good also so I started with that. The chef started me off with a small complimentary appetizer. A few blanced fresh green beans tossed with miso and a bit of sesame oil. (my guess)

I love Ikura (salmon eggs) so wanted to have a taste of that. Perfectly done with just a dollop of rice. Super fresh! The next picture (almost forgot to snap a pic, it was so delicious) had some fatty salmon that they quickly blow torched the top of. I’d never had that and it was an experience. A bit of “hirame” (fluke) sashimi and once again very fresh. lastly ont the plate was some UNI (sea urchin roe), If you have never tried this you absolutely must. Sea urchin roe is not just a sushi thing, it is very popular in the south of France also, were they serve it in an actual half of the sea urchin shell and a little wooden spoon. I ate it when I was a kid and I still remember how fresh it tasted.

Then I moved on to some of the house specialty tapas type dishes. These little treat are grilled over a traditional wood fire hibachi grill style. I had 2 skewers of wagyu beef and 2 skewers of pork belly. The beef was the least exciting bite of the evening. It wasn’t particularly tender. The pork belly on the other hand was everything I expected. It was SUPERB!  If you look closely in the top left part of the picture you can see some salt and a spice mix. That’s all they give you. The flavor of the grilled foods stands alone and you can sprinkle some salt and spice on it yourself. The taste is very Japanese; subtle, delicate, contemplative and perfect in it’s perfection 🙂

You CAN also order the skewers with a type of soy sauce on it if you want to.

 Next I ate some grilled squid that has me puzzled even today a week later. How they made this so tender is a mystery to me. The grilled squid literally melted in your mouth! I’m not exaggerating here, it just blew me away. I think my server knew how much I liked it, as I caught him staring at one point as I must have been making faces of pure pleasure.

I ordered some more of the fatty salmon after and drank a second beer and another flight of sake AND a small glass of my favorite sake from the flight. I Waddled out into street with my full belly and went to my hotel for a wonderful nght sleep.

My second night in DC, I was the guest of one of the sous chefs of Mr. Jose Andres 4 Washington DC. restaurants. Don’t worry I took lots of pictures and will share a very VERY unique taco experience.

Thank you all for your continued support of Feel Good Eating.