Monday, June 16, 2008

Home cooking

Having a job that requires travel always seemed so daring and exciting .. very jet setter meets professional girl. And in the tradition of "stuff white people like" I enjoy making others think I am well traveled and sophisticated.... Well naturally work travel is pretty mundane and tedious in the real world and even if you are dining out at fantastic restaurants (as I did this last trip) you are still eating. out. every. single. meal. of. every. single. day.

I returned home last Sunday (actually Monday morning after being re-routed through another city on another airline ... and then delayed by magical storms nobody could see or find on radar) and have never appreciated my own kitchen more. Every meal since has been created in house with groceries purchased at whole foods. You can tell when I'm craving fresh food when I buy everything at whole paycheck. The week's menu is below (the new boy thinks I am the most brilliant cook as well... fueling my fire)

Monday: Roasted chicken & vegi thin crust pizza
Tuesday: Run of the mill pasta & thrown together sauce (homemade... just nothing special)
Wednesday: Salad and salmon with a maple glaze and cous cous
Thursday: Fresh veggies with tomato and cracked pepper linguine. Fresh salad.
Friday - went out... the boy felt like rewarding all of my cooking, which is why we're keeping him around for a while.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Whitefish, Montana

My trip continues in Whitefish, Montana. We are about an hour from the Canadian border right at the base of Glacier National Park. I'm here for a political retreat (really, I do work occasionally) and have thoroughly enjoyed this little town. Montana is exactly as quiet, serene and beautiful as you imagine. 14 foot picture windows enclose the rustic lounge area in our Lodge and look out upon a pristine golf course that sits at the base of snow capped mountains. Note: come here with a date and not with your boss.

We arrived here a night early to avoid flying across the country half a million times between the Houston trip and this one so we have had time to acclimate and explore a bit. First night a few of us went o a restaurant called Tupelo Grill. Its described as Cajun although the menu features Thai noodles and chicken marsala on top of the expected jambalaya so who knows. I got a lobster and crab crusted halibut with a heavenly sauce. It was creamy and had a bit of a kick (ah, there is the Cajun). I think it came with a salad but to be honest I'm just not sure... I had a tiny bit too much wine (once again, my boss picked out a fantastic bottle. I'm telling you - traveling with wealthy people really is the way to go).

The second day brought with it the rest of the guests - welcomed additions for everyone I'm sure. Somehow we got 15 people into dinner at Pescado Blanca (original, eh... "white fish"), which is a "Montana Mexican Grill." It features things like Bison Enchaladas, Buffalo Tacos and the like. Feeling slightly adventurous, I went for Elk Chorizo Tacos (and by adventurous i mean had had a couple of beers and was being egged on by a few folks). "Tastes like chicken" isn't how i would describe it. Not my favorite type of meat - think well seasoned, overcooked ground beef. The chipolte creamy sauce on my tacos made everything better and the locally grown fresh arugula really brought it together nicely. It was a great Montana experience and yet another first for me this trip!

Tonight we dine outdoors at a ranch ... its pouring and very cold so I assume we'll be in a tent. Also - there will be a cowboy poet! yee haw.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Mark's in Houston

Traveling for work doesn't bother me too much. Hotel rooms are like mini decorating projects to be tackled anew in each city; exploring foreign cities - just curious peaks into the lives of a different set of people. This trip I am anxious to get home to a new interest but Houston defied my expectations - especially when it came to food (pan to me being torn between my meal and texting the new guy under the table).

Did you know Houston is the 3rd largest city in terms of population in the US? (im not sure how it couldn't be considering the sheer size of this place... there are TWO beltways! One inside the other!). Another fun fact about Houston - there are no zoning laws, which means that near my hotel (a nice one) you can see Neiman Marcus, Saks, two (yes two) starbucks and an adult video store called "HOT ZONE" complete with neon lights. It is perfectly normal here to see a sleezy looking "gentleman's club" next to Fogo de Chow and the Palm.

Well, I am traveling with my boss so I have spent exactly $0 so far (fantastic boss). For whatever reason he has left all of the logistics to me ... including picking a restaurant the other night. Suggestions solicited and googled and we landed at Mark's American cuisine. When you talk to Houstonians say its the one in an old church. They'll know.

I should start out by saying that this place will forever hold significance to me as the first place I have ever tried Kobe beef. They were offering Japanese kobe beef for an absurd price... the special sounded fabulous right up until he said the price and my heart fell (should have known better...) but my boss - out of nowhere - ordered a few ounces as an appetizer for the table. MMMMM try this NOW is all i can say. Make up a reason to celebrate and splurge because it is worth it.

We then proceeded to have a feast. I had a local tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic reduction dressing, a tenderloin with porcini mushrooms and tomato basil risotto that was so flavorful I was literally taken aback. Talk about the freshest ingredients you can find. Despite being stuffed, desert came and somehow a vanilla bean creme brulee appeared in front of me. I wish it had a more crusty top but the flavor can't be argued with. Everything was just scrumptious (love this word).

The decor is actually lacking... the old church thing is very cool - see the vaulted ceiling. But they have FAKE flowers. Who does this to a restaurant where dropping over $500 on dinner isn't a stretch? The one very cool thing is that the wine "cellar" is actually up where you would normally see organ pipes. This is my type of sanctuary.