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Omnivore, first entries

Wednesday 11 January 2012

The first few days’ activities (i.e., eating) are logged. Here’s what I have so far:

Larks: 

Salad With Oven Poached Steelhead

A nicely poached piece of fish on a bed of (mostly) spinach, some bell peppers, cucumbers, crispy bits, and a nice smear of aioli. The greens are seasonal, as is much at Larks; right now, it’s spinach, but at other times it’s local arugula. Recommended for those who like fish with strong, leafy greens.

 

Taroko:

Pattaya Chicken (appetizer size)

We ordered the pattaya chicken with the sauce on the side, because the last time we tried it, the sauce had soaked in more than we like, making the breading too mushy. On the side, the breading stayed very crisp and light, and the chicken was tender. It looks really bland here, but it’s not; there’s a little salt and pepper detectable in the chicken, and the sauce is really good balance of sweet and hot.

 

Little Dragon dumplings

Taroko’s owners have chosen to call their xiao long bao “Little Dragon Dumplings”, possibly because around here “soup dumplings” might be taken to be “soup with dumplings”, and xiao long bao would be too weird for the locals and most tourists. Nonetheless, these are xiao long bao, made in-house, and as the nearest alternate source is over 300 miles away, they’re pretty darn good. We had already eaten four before I remembered to snap this photo:

 

Pork potstickers

Potstickers are often hit-or-miss around here, and I suspect that the bulk of them come out of bags from Ling Ling or Sysco. Taroko’s are made in-house, and even Herself, who does not normally like potstickers, loves them; she had already eaten three before I got this:

 

Thai Pepper:

Garlic Pork with Black Pepper:

Two visits covered here. At the first, I had the garlic pork special, which is really a regular item on the dinner menu. So it doesn’t really count for The Omnivore, but would count towards The Regular and Fussy Eater. It’s good; several of the dinner dishes at Thai Pepper I find to have too much black pepper, but this was a good mix of red chilis and black pepper.

 

Cashew Vegetables with Chicken:

The second visit I had the cashew vegetables with chicken. This is a saucy dish, in the sense that it’s got a lot of sauce in the plate. I like the darkness of the taste, but the sauce is too thin and voluminous for me. The chicken is optional, if you want to make the dish vegetarian.

 

Sesame Asian Kitchen:

Cashew Chicken:

Cashew chicken is usually the safe, bland menu option in American Chinese restaurants. It’s the one you serve to Aunt Ruth, who normally can’t abide “ethnic” food.

Sesame’s preparation takes the usual chicken, snow peas, water chestnuts, and cashews, and adds a healthy dose of red chili flakes and red chili chunks to a much darker, richer sauce, and serves it in a big bowl. It’s spicy comfort food, great on a cold winter’s day. We followed it up with their banana spring rolls dessert–banana rolled in a wrapper, as one would a spring roll, quickly deep-fried and sugared, and served with their really good toasted sesame ice cream. It was all so good, we ate the photo. We also enjoyed the duck potstickers as a starter, but since we shared them and the banana spring rolls, I’m not counting them.

 

Morning Glory:

Morning Glory has long been one of our favorite restaurants in town, but we usually stick to a small set of preferred offerings. But their menu is huge!

And that’s just side one; the other side is lunch, a large selection of salads and sandwiches. I counted something like 41 items, by the challenge’s definition, on the two sides. Then there are the sides and small bites, and three specials a week, so this is my number one candidate for Fussy Eater, The Regular, and Expense Account.

 

2 Eggs Any Style:

To keep is simple, I’m planning to literally eat down each column until I hit the bottom, then start at the next column, rinse, repeat. So this time I started with the 2 eggs breakfast, top of column one, with hashbrowns, a blueberry muffin, and chicken apple gouda sausage.

The hashbrowns are always great, as are the muffins. The surprise here was the sausage–big, thick sausages with visible chunks of apple and gooey blobs of gouda. Really good.

 

Martolli’s:

Porky Pine:

Martolli’s has creative naming for their pies. The Porky Pine is Canadian bacon and pineapple on a base of tomato sauce and mozzarella. I am not normally a fan of pineapple on pizza, believing that there is a special circle of Hell for those who eat it regularly, but I will say that if one is going to Hell for eating pineapple on pizza, this might be the one to make the trip worthwhile.

 

The Combo: Martolli’s Combo is a classic pie with pepperoni, Italian sausage, bell peppers, onions, olives, and mozzarella on tomato sauce. As part of their slice special, which has a small house salad (Caesar: add $1) and fountain drink, it’s one of the most affordable hot meals in downtown Ashland. No photo this time.

 

A clarification: Herself has pointed out that, in an age when restaurant portions are often past large, beyond huge, and into gargantuan, having an “eat it all or fail” requirement in the challenge is counterproductive. In this case, she’s right (record the date and time…). So the new rule is, you have to eat the whole meal, but are allowed to take home what you can’t eat at the restaurant. You still have to eat it all; fail, and that meal doesn’t count. For pizzas, this means at least two pieces, including the hairy little fishes if they are part of the pie. So far, I’ve finished it all <burp!>

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