Monday, June 27, 2011

Curse you travel industry!

So I got to this little airport as I was leaving my Connecticut adventure.  Because I was trying to see if I could get an earlier flight and really had absolutely nowhere else to go, I got to TWEED airport (an airport about the size of my living room) with three hours to spare.  At almost exactly the time we were to board a man came in and announced to the entire secure area that our flight would be delayed by at least an hour...
This is it the entire secure area.
I dutifully stood in line waiting to talk to him about my connecting flight,  His question, "Would you like to spend the night here or in Philadelphia?"  Will this trip never end?

Oy and Miss Lu's birthday party was the next day, so we had a ton of stuff to do in the morning.  picking me up from the airport was not part of that...
The flight boarded about an hour late...   I find it funny that a plane that has about 36 seats boards the same way as the 737 I had been on earlier.  
"We would like to invite any of our gold pass members to board now."  2 or 3 people board.
"Anyone traveling with small children" absolute silence.
"Now we will board zone one."  That continued as 4 or 5 passengers at a time walked to the plane for each zone.

Then we sat on the tarmac for another hour.  When I got to Philadelphia I was not surprised to find that I had missed my connecting so I went to the courtesy counter to see what I could do.  The best answer was,  "Spend the night in a hotel and leave tomorrow morning at 8:00am."  By this time I was defeated so I started the process of getting a hotel room.  After waiting for about an hour for my shuttle (I think the 13 year old they had driving the Holiday Inn Van got lost) I got to the hotel front desk at 11:30pm. Remember that I had started my travel adventures at about 1:30 that day after my Subway School final exam, so I was done.

The rest of the night was less than eventful, after I had dinner using my boss' credit card (turns out he drinks a lot and tips well).  I got to my hotel room a little after midnight for my 5:00 am wake up call.  I won't go into any more details, lets just say that I did make it home and Kris and the Kiddos picked me up in time for the big party.  I didn't have the time to do everything that I had planned but it turns out that the kiddos aren't as uptight about food as I am I did Mr. Man, Miss Lu and I did make a trip to the store to get stuff for the fruit tray for the Luau themed party...

and the ham and pineapple skewers.

The party went well and I am happy to be home!  I have some pictures and posts started, but needed a little time to regroup...

Too bad I didn't get to take couple of whacks at the pinata... I have been a little frustrated.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stalking Guy Fieri

So I have been here in Milford CT for more than a week now and eaten... well I just don't want to count how many Subway sandwiches.  I asked my facebook friends if they knew of any restaurants in the area one of them stepped up and told me that Guy Fieri had visited several Connecticut diners in his Triple D adventures.  So I decided to rev up the search engines and see what I could find.  I found exactly the kind of place I was looking for!  The Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk CT a mere 20 minute drive from my hotel, not including time spent lost (maybe I should have paid for the GPS in my rental car).
Look at this place how could it not be great!
It is a tiny Venezuelan diner, with a seating capacity of 24, in the middle of a small East coast town and it ROCKED!  When we arrived the waitress gave us a 41 minute wait time and asked us to step outside (there just isn't room to stand inside the restaurant).  The wait turned out to be about 20 minutes and well worth it.  The menu included a great selection of Arepas, Empanadas and absolutely to die for Ceviche.  I had a Pulled Pork and a Chorizo Empanada along with the Black Beans, and of course I had to get the Ceviche.  I couldn't even come close to eating it all there, but then dinner was set. I don't think that I wordsmith well enough to say how great of a place this is or describe my meal the way I should (here is a link to Guy's Show, I'll just say "I agree with him")  As I was finishing my lunch the waitress asked how everything was my answer was "Oh my God this place is fricken awesome."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Grilled Clams

OK this one will be my last post complaining about Subway School... really I am not crying about school, just my trek to get here to Milford CT.  Kris and I spent most of Sunday morning puttering around the house and waiting for me to go.  At about 1:00pm Kris took me to O'Hare Airport for my 3:30 flight, being the good little Dobee that I am I wanted to get there the suggested 2 hours prior to take off .  As I was patiently waiting for my plane to depart I heard the announcement..."Our plane is still in the hangar undergoing routine maintenance, our departure will be delayed for at least an hour."
The trek to O'Hare's Terminal 1
My connecting flight was scheduled to depart about 40 minutes after this one landed so an hour delay didn't bode well.  So I did what any self respecting business traveler would do, I went to the airport bar and got myself a $9.00 bottle of beer. 

Note to airport bar... $9.00 for a Corona!?! seriously?

When my plane took to the air the Pilot announced that she would be doing her best to make up some time.  About an hour into the flight I mentioned to one of the flight attendants that I had a VERY short window between landing and the connecting flight.  The pilot announced over the intercom that "some passengers have a very short window for connecting flights, please allow them get to the front of the plane when we land so they have a chance to make those flights."  Really I started to feel all warm and fuzzy in the inside.  When the plane landed I managed to be one of the first 4 or 5 passengers off the plane (granted I had to literally step on the feet of a few first class passengers but we all know that those smug jerks deserve it) but I did get going in good time.  When I got off the plane in Philadelphia PA I learned that I had exactly 7 minutes to run to the gate farthest from the one that I landed in.  Now I am kind of what you would expect of a middle aged chef, not slender or sporty by any means.  The run was... well exhausting and I found out I had to leave and re enter secure airport space so I had to remove my shoes, belt and take everything (my laptop) out of my carry-on in order to go through the fancy-pants scanner that sees through clothes.

Note to Philly airport TSA... Ha! you got what you deserved, you had to see me naked!

Anyway after my run I got to the gate exactly on time for departure only to find out that my connecting flight left 6 minutes EARLY!

Note to any airline WTF?!?

There wasn't anyone working at my gate at all and about 5 other passengers were standing there saying...  well you can guess what we were saying.  I went to another gate to see if I could get later flight, I did, the other four were on stand-by.  The only problem this one was scheduled to land 3 minutes before the Budget rent-a-car closed. Sooo, I spent the next 40 (yes 40 minutes) on the phone with the car rental agency begging them to stay open for a few extra minutes to get me a car.

Note to Budget rent-a-car YOU ROCK!

I got a new Chevy Impala for the next couple of weeks!  I drove the 20 miles to my hotel, if you have been following I mentioned that I brow beat my boss into paying for the hotel with an "in room kitchenette" I get to my hotel suite and find that it has a dorm style refrigerator and the tiniest microwave I have ever seen.

Note to Marriott, we need to discuss what a "kitchenette" is, the fricken Motel 6 has those amenities.

I have been enthusiastically participating in my Subway classes and in store training, it is more interesting than I expected but I do miss my beautiful wife and kids.  I have some plans for the weekend too, visiting a restaurant featured on Diners Drive ins and Dives is among those plans.  I will post about that soon.

Before left Chicago I made this East Coast inspired recipe...

Grilled Clams
Start by softening a stick of butter (I put mine on the counter then went out to get some clams you will want 6-8 per guest).  When it is soft take about 2 TBS of butter and mix 1 tsp or maybe a little more of horseradish and a splash ot Tabasco.  Mix that up and set aside.

The bread is ciabatta slice that up and put a little butter on each slice and set aside.

To clean the clams (I used Little Necks) soak them in cool water for a few minutes and wash the shells off, I use a little scrub brush, if there are any icky parts pull them off now.  All of the little guys should be closed tight, if any are open give them a tap on top if they don't close they are probably dead throw them out.

Light the grill, and put the clams directly on the grate, follow that step with your bread, butter side down.  Close the grill and let them go until they are done.  Mine took about 7 minutes, when they open up they are done.

Note, sometimes a couple of clams will take a little longer to open up that doesn't mean they are bad, they might just be fighting the good fight so to speak, give them a couple more minutes.  If they don't open after that discard them.

To serve it up place 6-8 clams in each dish along with a dollup of horseradish butter, some toast and maybe a little more horseradish.  Really the dish couldn't be easier and it tastes really great!  Spread a little horseradish butter on your bread and a fresh hot clam.  It is a perfect light start to a cook out.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sesame Salmon with Creamy Grits

OK I will quit crying about Subway University... on the good side I have a new toy.  I have been watching the ads and waiting for one that I want to go on sale.  The grill that I have had for the last couple of years was a good one and it served me well, but I had to face that it was dying.  The last time I cooked chicken breast it took about 45 minutes and I pounded it flat before I started.  One of the features I NEEDED on my new grill was a burner off to the side.  Why?  Well no one in my house can stand the smell of cooking fish so I have always tried to do the polite thing and cook it outside but sometimes I want salmon or tuna cooked in a pan instead of on the grill.  This was the maiden voyage for that for me I made pan seared Sesame Salmon and Creamy Grits... for Kris and the kiddos Lemon Herb Chicken with Cheesy Potatoes...
Ahh the flame-ups,  I have missed you
Start by marinating the salmon, I used:
2 TBS sesame Oil
1 Clove of minced garlic
The Juice from one lemon
Salt and Pepper

I left that on the counter for about half an hour then made the Grits:
1 Cup of boiling water
4 TBS Grits
1/3 Cup half & half

Add the grits to the boiling water then stir until it starts to thicken (I use quick grits so it is about 5 minutes) then add the half & half, stir a little, cover and set aside.

I started the next step by toasting the sesame seeds, that really brings out the flavors so well, so put them in a dry skillet and toast over high heat until they start to brown.  Next roll the salmon in your toasted seeds and set it skin side up in a hot skillet.  I like mine about medium so after about 4 minutes turn and cook on the other side for about the same amount of time.  When it is all cooked plate it up and garnish with a few toasted seeds.  I enjoy the sesame, garlic flavor that this has, they work so well with the salmon, as for everyone else the chicken was fine.

Note, I actually started this post a few days ago before the whirlwind that preceded heading off to CT.  Since then I have changed my mind.... I will continue to cry about Subway school...