Thursday, November 26, 2009

A great weekend with friends, family and food :)

With the thanksgiving holiday coming to an end, we reflect on all the things we are grateful for, well, at least we supposed to, lol. Unfortunately, there are people out there that can never be satisfied and therefore can never be grateful, but let's save that for another blog!

Before feeding the masses all day, as many chefs do on thanksgiving, my wife and I flew up to sunny New Hampshire for a few days. We went up to spend time with my family and, thanks to facebook, with some buddies I hadn't seen in at least 20 years! As with most family visits, in addition to hugging, laughing and site seeing, our trips are mostly based around food one way or another. When you do what you love, you have to love what you do, right? Well, I love to eat ;)

Here is a run-down of our weekend;

Our weekend started off with a pretty uneventful flight into Logan Airport followed by a "mind numbing" ride in a shuttle van that should have taken 45 minutes but took over 2 hours! (thanks for that, we'll get a rental next time, lesson learned).

Upon arrival and a quick settle-in, we headed to my buddy Chads house for a mini high-school reunion. I came up with a menu a few days earlier that consisted of rib-eye steaks, grilled local veggies, a couple steak toppers and a simple arugula salad. One of my friends brought not one, not two, but THREE kinds of cheese cake with 4 different toppings. It was a great meal! I brought some cigars to enjoy while we watched the bon-fire and had a few laughs.

That next morning, we met with MORE old friends for a huge breakfast at a local Portuguese breakfast hot spot where we enjoyed yet MORE laughs and an interesting take on eggs Benedict with sausage instead of Canadian bacon, yum, washed down with a few cups of coffee.

Saturday night, yes, even MORE friends at my brothers place of employment for a lovely "2 for 20" dinner special. Laughs out the door. I almost peed :)

Sunday, well, that was thanksgiving lite just for us. My mom, as usual, created an amazing meal full of love and yum-yums. Turkey, corn bread stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts (which I made, recipe below), salad, and so on, followed by two of the best desserts I've ever eaten that only the one who bore me could make, apple pie and pumpkin pie (burp**). Awesome! (whipped cream optional, but recommended).

More cigars, more laughs (laughing rocks), more friends, quality time with my family and, yes, more food. (moo).

Monday, we decided to take a road trip with my little mother, thought she might like to get out of the house. I heard about this smokehouse in Canterbury, NH that smokes local meats with Hickory and sells to the public through a small retail area. This is where I discovered smoked cashews and rhubarb soda. I don't know what to say except, please buy some NOW!

Wow, and they make this smoked pepper jack cheese that would make you lie and write bad checks! We made panini sammiches with that stuff later that afternoon and cried a little.

Well, we made it though that and decided to go to a planetarium (yawn) we all acted like we were a little interested, pushing buttons and watching videos (yawn). No food was involved, maybe that's why we didn't enjoy ourselves, lol. I must admit though, we saw a space shuttle tire, THAT was cool. They're smaller than I thought, but HEAVY!!!

On our way home, we stopped by a local chain called The Common Man restaurant where we enjoyed a mediocre sandwich and a really good diet root-beer. What stuck out most, besides the service, was this cheese and cracker station where you make yourself a plate of Vermont cheddar cheese, spreads and crackers plate while you wait for your meal. It's great if you're "wicked stahvin' ", which we were.

Well, after we got back home, relaxed and chatted a little about our day, my brother (who is an up and comer in the restaurant world, invited me to his place for his famous "Philly Cheese steak Nachos". Just when I thought I had seen it all (and ate it all), this is something I had never heard of but couldn't wait to try. It's a great bar app that you just cant pass up. Yum.

After a wonderful trip, we get home and I was back to work the next day to get ready to feed almost 200 people. My small and able staff and I cranked out the food and made everyone happy (even the ungrateful ones, I'm sure). While it's great to get away, its best to be home.

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

Oh, and here's my recipe for roasted brussel sprouts:

1 pound brussel sprouts (stems trimmed off, cut in half)
3 strips of bacon (cut into small dice)
1/2 medium onion (minced)
2 cloves of garlic (smashed into a paste)
salt and pepper to taste
splash of white wine
splash of chicken stock

  1. Render the bacon until lightly crispy
  2. Add onion and garlic, sweat until translucent.
  3. deglaze with wine and stock
  4. add sprouts and cover, bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until just knife tender
  5. remove lid and evaporate all liquid until almost dry
  6. brown brussel sprouts until golden brown
  7. check seasoning, remove from heat and mount with about a tablespoon of butter.
  8. eat and grunt while doing so.

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