Archive for the tag “adventure”

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

Braise! A fabulous in-home dining experience to support Restaurant Supported Agriculture (RSA)

Though this post strays a bit from my normal theme, I wanted to share this special experience with everyone that reads this blog!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am generally tied into community events and that I was raised to be charitable with my time and money.

Several months ago, in an effort to help support and promote restaurant supported agriculture (RSA), I purchased an in-home dining experience for eight people. This dinner would be prepared by the owner and chef of Braise, Dave Swanson, and would include four courses plus wine pairings.

I was beyond excited to invite some friends over to enjoy some great food – that I wasn’t going to have to cook!

Fast forward a few weeks and know that Becky (general events manager at Braise) was absolutely wonderful to work with during the planning process. And, when the date finally came to have everyone over, Dave and a bonus chef, Jarid were extraordinary!

I was able to scramble and get my table ready for company – except that this girl who LOVES fresh flowers and purchases them almost weekly, forgot to buy flowers for the table! EEK!

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Enter Dave and Jarid:

  1. They were prompt, polite, and fully prepared with coolers, tubs, and lots of gear!
  2. They were as gracious as can be and seemed to feel right at home in my (small) kitchen.
  3. They left me feeling totally confident that the evening would be spectacular – even if I don’t have restaurant quality dishes and glassware. (But, I really like my dishes!)
  4. Even I didn’t know what my guests and I would be dining on, but Chef informed me that he decided to throw in an extra dish and we would enjoy five courses plus wine pairings. Chef Jarid was kind enough to offer to email the menu in full detail since I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it justice (keep reading; you’ll see why!).
  5. They served us, explaining each dish in detail. Sometimes, it took a bit of patience as our dinner party was very conversational – yet, never a sign of frustration from Dave or Jarid.
  6. The kicker: THEY CLEANED EVERYTHING UP!!!! I told my friends that I wanted to keep them for my own – men who cook AND clean!?! (Guys, I’m kidding…I know y’all do exist)

Now, about that food.

We started off being passed crustini appetizers (which I failed to photograph as I was greeting the final two guests to arrive).

One of the things I love about my friends is that they prefer NOT to sit next to their spouses so they can get to know others in the group, so that’s what naturally happened.

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Once seated we were served homemade wheat bread, Parmigiano sticks, and Parmigiano-cayenne sticks, with Wisconsin butter.

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Then came the Roasted Sweet Corn & Summer Squash soup with olive oil cured pepper garnish and sambal oil. (Yeah, I had to Google a few things) This lovely soup was served with Prosecco to start the evening off.

We were then served a “beets” dish. I have recently found myself loving beets – and it feels like the rest of the world was either ahead of me on this trend, or is on board the way I feel now. Our dish was a mix of yellow and red oven roasted beets served with white wine poached fennel, toasted walnuts, lemon chèvre, herb fennel vierge, and currant salt. Say that five times fast!

The beets were paired with a Cuvee white wine. It was an amazing salad dish!

Next, came the grilled Chanterelle mushrooms, Parmigiano custard (AKA: “I would put this on everything” – Christy), picked ramps, ramp jam, and ramp salt.These delights were paired with a Chardonnay.

I have to say that with each subsequent dish, my dinner guests kept updating their favorites parts of the meal!

Our fourth course was the “main dish”, I suppose. However, in my mind, each of these could stand alone as a dish I would fully enjoy!

We were served roasted airline chicken breast, seared summer squash, candied pepitas, herb creme fraiche, and preserved lemon chutney served with an Italian red wine.

I must call Christy out again, because it was so fun to see her excitement at “finally having creme fraiche; they always talk about it on Top Chef!”. I believe she then claimed to feel “very fancy”. 🙂

Up until this point, we all were fully satisfied and had enjoyed each course immensely.

When we were served dessert, we were surprised with a crazy, refreshing, and delicious dessert of Muskmelon mousse with compressed melon and served in a cucumber fennel broth with milk crumble (and, although I’ve never done drugs, I have to think this is the culinary equivalent of crack!). When paired with a sweet dessert wine, it was essentially perfection in a bowl!

I’d better NEVER learn how to make milk crumble, or I’m in serious trouble!

Because I had asked for permission, and Chef Jarid did joke about needing a photo waiver, but didn’t actually present one, I’m including a few pictures of these fabulous chefs in action.

An endeavor like this is not an inexpensive one, but if you’re anything like me, it’s totally worth every penny (plus tip). Two of my guests texted me that this was a once in a lifetime experience that they thoroughly enjoyed. I have to agree!

If I had an endless amount of discretionary income, I would do this once a month (or more frequently!).

I’m happy to report that five of the guests who had not been to Braise previously do plan to have dinner there soon! Also, by word of mouth (because I can be a big mouth), another several people in my network plan to swing by for a meal.

Finally, during our dinner, our group of eight talked about taking cooking classes at Braise’s Culinary School as another fun outing. I have since learned that both Chefs Dave and Jarid are focused on this aspect of the business more so than the restaurant (which allowed other talented chefs to run the restaurant while they were graciously hosting my friends and me to a fantastic dinner!). Definitely something to explore further!

Have you ever had an in-home experience with professional chefs preparing meals? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Cheers!

Ker

Viva l’Italia – Vincenzo’s, New Jersey

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went to New Jersey to visit with a customer whom I had been wanting to meet for a long time. I’ve heard great things about this company, and I know we have opportunities to partner on some good things!

So, my colleague (and now frequent road trip buddy) and I set out to Middlesex, NJ to have a couple of meetings as well as a nice dinner up the street at Vincenzo’s with our customers.

Foolishly, I only brought my small Clemson clutch with me, which funny enough, my dear girlfriend who lives in New Jersey gave me as a gift earlier this year.

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Anyhow, the point being that I forgot to bring my blog card with me. Thank goodness for mobile phones. I called it up from the blog page itself!

I had been warned that this dinner and our dining companions were going to be fabulous, so I came hungry! In addition to fabulous table mates, our server, Carlos, was perfect. He was professional, yet was equipped with a biting sense of humor. The best of both worlds!

Carlos started us off with several appetizers: calamari (two ways: fritti and with an “Italian hot sauce” – which everyone at the table claimed was Thai sauce!), escarole and pignoli nuts, and sausage and peppers. To be honest, I was full by the time we worked our way through these delicious plates of apps!

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A mesh of apps! Calamari, sausage and peppers, and escarole. 

And then came this salad… I think it’s one of my favorite salads – ever. The tri-colore insalati. The mesh of flavors – and that cheese! Heaven on a plate.

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Tri-colore salad made of European blend, tomatoes, pepper, and parmagiano cheese.

I’d say finally, because it really should have been the final set of bites, but it wasn’t. This is the penultimate dish.

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Grilled salmon over escarole and served with roasted potatoes.

Without flinching while reading the blog card, Carlos had chosen a popular dish that evening – salmon over escarole with roasted potatoes. The salmon filet was enormous, and cooked to perfection. Those who know me know that salmon is not my favorite seafood, but when cooked well,  I really do enjoy it! I loved that there were some greens on the plate and just a few potato bites.

It was  a simple, delicious dish and light enough not to pain me after all of the appetizers!

It was then that our customer insisted that we all have dessert. What?!? How was I going to fit one more bite into my mouth and belly?

Here’s how:

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Chocolate banana pie with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and mint.

I mentioned “heaven on a plate earlier”. This banana chocolate pie is heaven on a plate served by singing angels! I could have eaten two or three slices (but I didn’t!).

Our dinner lasted a marathon four hours, but the time flew by. We did indeed have a wonderful time with our customers and we really enjoyed the ambiance, the service, and the FOOD at Vincenzo’s! I’m still working off those glorious calories. 🙂

Since I’m not a huge connoisseur of salmon, I’m curious to know your favorite way to prepare it. I’d love to try more recipes at home. Please leave a comment if you have a recommendation.

Cheers!

Ker

 

 

Ant Ordered What? (Guest post!)

What’s happenin’ everyone? No, I’m not Ker Kilbourne. I’m Ant Pruitt. I hope you’re doing well. I’m unbelievable as always. This is “She Ordered What?”. A site I enjoy reading because the li’l lady pops into restaurants around the world, and tasks her server with ordering her meals on her behalf. It’s totally off the cuff, and leads to her being served interesting and tasty dishes. I give her credit on this because she has been able to discover some dishes that may be off the beaten path. Not just a standard “grilled salmon over rice.” I’m going to take this opportunity and guest post, if she’ll have me. (grins)

(Kerri here: I LOVE that Ant surprised me with a guest post, and he knows full well that I will absolutely post anything he writes!  Ant is one of my dear and beloved friends – with great talent online, be it photography, podcasts, or writing.  I’m thrilled to post his article about his experience!)

Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing blessings in my professional life and in my hobby world. By day, I’m an IT analyst that stares at SQL and application code all day. By night and all times in between, my hobbies include online technology commentary as well as smartphone photography commentary and podcasting. On the week of October 21st, I was able to make a trip out to Seattle and Bellevue, Washington. I was blessed with a contract to create content on a new website (sponsored by HTC), which includes my smartphone photography commentary. I looked forward to this (my first) trip to Seattle to see the area, HTC campus, and to eat some damn good food.  Not to mention, tasting the local brews.

Upon getting to my hotel, I had to get in a quick workout, then load up on some protein and local brew. The very attractive Nine O Bar and Grill is inside the Silver Cloud hotel. I sat at the bar and asked my waiter for a glass of milk, (Kerri here again – Only Ant would order milk at a bar and probably garner a flirty grin from the bartender!)  and when I was done, I’d like to try a local brew she suggests.  She suggested African Amber by Mac and Jack’s Brewing in Redmond, WA. Good call, Karina. Good call.

 As I enjoyed the brew, I took a snapshot to work on my photography skills. No. It’s not food porn, sorry.

 

Photo credit: Ant Pruitt

Image credit: Ant Pruitt

So launch day arrives. After a night of tossing and turning in my bed, I was driven over to the HTC campus in Bellevue. I met some great people, put in some work before we hit the “launch” button, and discussed more plans with my colleagues of “aNewDomain”. Launch day of the site BreakingModern was a great success! Everyone was thrilled. And the end of the day meant some celebrating with colleagues, food, and brew.

Our driver, Zola, was an Ethiopian college student. When the topic of dinner came up, he was all over us with the an Ethiopian venue he loves. Sure! Why not? Our ride to downtown Seattle landed us at Wonder Sports Bar.

Ok, I had my trepidation as it was called a “sports bar.” But I found that it was a move of marketing genius on the owner’s part. Interest in Wonder was slow originally. Really slow. So it rebranded itself into Wonder Sports Bar. Nothing really changed, other than putting burgers on the menu. Since then, the restaurant has been doing much better with increased traffic and local enjoying authentic Ethiopian cuisine. (Ker here:  LOVE this!  Way to generate foot traffic and keep the place going.)

I looked at the menu and immediately knew I wanted lamb, but our server (the owner) said she’d like to treat us family-style. So as we waited on our food, we all check our phone messages for the day since we were so focused with the launch. (Ker: Nerd alert! 😉 )

 

Image credit: Dan

Image credit: Dan Patterson

(Ker: That’s Ant in the upper right corner.  He refers to himself as the “large, angry black man”. So completely not true!)

We were handed a piping hot platter of food which included Kay Watt (spicy lamb), Yemisir Watt (green lentils), Kitfo (Ethiopian Steak), Yesiga Alicha (mild lamb) and Injera (Ethiopian bread).  I washed the AMAZING food down with another local brew called Men’s Room by Elysian Brewing. Another fine brew from the state of Washington. There’s something about sitting on a comfy couch with a brew, a big platter of grub and eating it WITH YOUR HANDS. Nope. No forks or knives.  Great experience.  (Ker here: This immediately reminded me of my fantastic experience at a Southeast Indian restaurant in Singapore – eating off of banana leaves – such a cool experience!).

 

Image credit: Ant Pruitt

Image credit: Ant Pruitt

I hope I didn’t embarrass Ker with my post quality. I’m not as eloquent as she is, and it shows in my writing sometimes. At any rate, I enjoyed my visit to Seattle and enjoyed sharing my grubbing/brew experience with her readers.

Thanks for reading and here comes the shameless self-promotion. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and check out aNewDomain for tech news and commentary, then check out BreakingModern for your random commentary about day-to-day life topics. Thanks again. – Ant

(Kerri: Thank you so much, Ant.  I really enjoyed reading about your experiences in Washington!  I can’t believe you are the man who just a year ago had NEVER BEEN ON A PLANE!! You are making the most of your experiences, and I’m truly happy for you!  Cheers – to more glorious travel and exciting experiences! – Ker)

Tailgating Together: Welcome, Louisville. The ACC, and Clemson in particular, welcomes you!

While not a true “She Ordered What?” experience, I did have some terrific tailgate food on my trip to Clemson last weekend! But, let’s face it, I just want to take a little time to boast on my weekend in Clemson and show my pride for my Alma Mater!

For my first Clemson game of the season, my friends and I decided to join up for “family weekend” when the Louisville Cardinals visited Death Valley for the first time as ACC foes.

I want to commend the Cards fans for showing up in spades for the game.  There were a lot of red jerseys, shirts, etc, and a lot of Cardinals pride on campus last weekend.  We had some Cards fans in the lot in which we tailgated, and they were as lovely as Clemson fans are notoriously known to be!  Gracious and polite folks.

Speaking of gracious and polite, here is a photo of my friend and game weekend hostess, Cindy.

Pink Twins!

Pink Twins!

 

I took this shot on Friday night at my friends’ Cindy and Alan’s house.  We were preparing some of the fixin’s for the next day.

 

BBQ and bourbon!  It's how tailgating is done in the south.

BBQ and bourbon! It’s how tailgating is done in the south.

 

I had offered up over Twitter to cook while Cindy led her “Gypsy Life” (commuting between Hilton Head (the job) and Spartanburg (the house and hubby)) and Alan recovered from preparing a home to sell.  Our friend Dennis offered to pick up steaks to grill – and, a plan was hatched!  Until, I bailed on my end.  (sort of)

After Alan graciously picked me up at the airport, he and I stopped at the market on the way back to the house. I bought some pre-made salad (weak!), green beans (which we forgot to make!), Golden Delicious apples for my “favorite snack recipe“, baked potatoes, and a couple of other treats for the weekend (hello – jalapeno artichoke dip!!!).

Dennis had already arrived at the house by the time Alan and I were heading back.  When we got back, it was quickly decided that more booze just might be required – namely bourbon. Dennis is a bourbon aficionado (aka: polite snob), so I was happy to send the men to the liquor store while I took a nap!  And, they did well!  Woodford Reserve found its way back to the counter.

Our steak dinner on Friday night was fantastic!  I was so wrapped up in enjoying time with my friends that I didn’t take any pictures – but, trust me, it was delicious!

And, on Saturday, we had a great time, beginning at ~8AM (may or may not have been a bit later than planned (read: was later than planned, but I will not publicly disclose why)).  Our tailgate spot consisted of a tent, some chairs, a couple of tables, loads of food, and one really relaxed “Southern Gent”…

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

As evidenced above, Cindy had ensured we had Southern style pulled pork, brisket and Calabash chicken, which we shared with our tailgate neighbors.  SO GOOD!!  We also had a plethora of side dishes and snacks (again, I was remiss in taking photographs).

Then, came game time… My favorite college roommate, Bill, came by our tailgate area and offered up tickets to the West End Zone Club (catered suites with a private bar (which, after that game, I OWE HIM!!)).

 

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

West Zone Club

West Zone Club

 

In response to comments from Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, Clemson fans were “#ClemsonLOUD” from start to finish.  The atmosphere was incredible, as Clemson always is!

Pregame festivities.

Pregame festivities.

Though there were certainly some negatives to the day (losing our QB1 for several weeks, botched plays, etc), the positives far outweighed those negatives, and ultimately, the Tigers pulled off the win!  And, I would find myself without a voice for two days following that game!

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw - a Clemson post-game ritual.

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw – a Clemson post-game ritual.

Win or lose, Clemson fans have a tradition of “Gathering at the Paw” to sing the Alma Mater and show our Clemson pride!

Another wonderful weekend of fun, friends, and football in the books!  And, to those friends with whom I wasn’t able to meet up, hopefully in November!

Cheers!

Ker

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