Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

January 31, 2007

It' Cheesy!!!!!

To my delight, when I got home, I had gotten the 6 lbs of cheese I ordered. Yes, you read that right folks, 6 (SIX) POUNDS of cheese! I ordered the cheese from, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co, The Strip, Pittsburgh, PA. That would be nearly 100 oz. of cheese. I was so excited, I had to put all the wedges out on the counter so I could see them! When I was a kid, I was allergic to cheese, and I would break out in hives, my eyes would swell shut, and I would be miserable. My mom would put me into an oatmeal bath trying to help bring down the swelling. Yup, for years I could not tolerate cheese. I never had mac and cheese growing up (can you believe it!). Then one day, as an adult, I tried mac and cheese, and it looked like I out grew the intolerance to the fabulous food called CHEESE! Yup, I love cheese!
The cheese that I got are all mostly extra aged cheese that can be kept in the fridge for many months, ready to eat. I also ordered this cheese in the winter so I know that the cheese will be ok traveling in cool temperatures. Do you want to know what I got? Here is the list: Italian Auricchio Provolone, aged for 1 year, domestic extra-sharp Provolone, French aged Mimolette, Spanish aged Manchego, Italian Reggiano Parmigiano, and Italian Recorino Romano.
Nashville has been way behind the curve when it comes to cheese up until recently. I think people here only knew of a few cheeses until now, and that would be American, cheddar, and pizza cheese. Up until recently, grated cheese sprinkled on Italian food is Parmesan from the shiny green can. Just this year, there is a cheese shop that has opened down the street from me and they carry some cheese. They are working hard to educate those who love cheese about really great and flavorful cheeses. They don't have the range of cheeses as my favorite cheese store , but hopefully they will over time.So, I opened all the cheeses, and here are two that I cannot get easily here in Nashville, Mimolette and aged Manchego. The Mimolette is a lovely French cheese that is salty, firm and a cheddar flavor. The Manchego has a lighter flavorful than the Mimolette, but it has a nutty flavor with nutty earthy nose. Both are excellent. I tried the domestic Provolone, and it has a sweet and sharp flavor that can hold up to any good Philadelphia cheese steak. The aged Italian Auricchio Provolone has a smoother, nuttier flavor than the domestic, and the texture is very stiff like a great aged cheese you would grate on top of garlicky pasta. I am in heaven!

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January 28, 2007

My Udon

I made a version of comfort food for myself, and that would be UDON! I love UDON! A simple noodle, broth, and chili pepper. I love the big noodles. I went over to my local Lao Trading Co. store on 8th Ave So. because they carry the widest variety of Asian Noodles in town. I got a cold case pack of Udon, and skipped in glee all the way home. I love UDON, did I tell you that yet?
The components in the package

The red pepper flakes

The finished soup product

The silver package with UDON flakes in it contained freeze dried tofu slices, tampura dots, scallions and nori. There was no directions that I could read on the package, so I dumped ALL the little packages into 2 cups of boiling water all at the same time. I put all the red pepper flakes, all the soup base, all the noodles, and all the freeze dried contents all in at once into the boiling pot for a few minutes. I put the finished soup in a bowl and added a few dots of chili sesame oil Aji. What came out was a very spicy hot soup. I now know that dump all packets except the red pepper flakes, and add those at the end to taste. I love UDON and I loved my bowl of soup!

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January 26, 2007

Nassau Airport

So, this post is a little late, but I just want to show what we ate at the Nassau airport, and share what I think about the food there. You know how I feel about the Nashville airport food - it sucks. The Nashville airport food vendors know they have a captive audience and that when flyers get hungry enough, they will buy the crap and attempt to eat the crap at the Nashville airport. If the lay over or delay in the Nashville airport is long enough, I will buy the food, but I always feel burned about spending $10 on a water and some poorly cooked, under-cooked, not hot, un-seasoned, yuck-o texture, stinky, or lack of aroma. I rarely advocate for fast food, but man, I would eat at a McD's if the Nashville airport would allow that vendor in the building. I would walk from Terminal A to Z to get McD's over any of the vendors there now. Of all the fast food, that one has the tightest tolerances on quality control, and you know what you will be getting.
Sorry, I digressed.The point is that I wanted to blog about the Nassau airport food. It seems that the Nassau airport has its own version of airport food, and also holds the traveler as a captive audience. The meal that we got was the chicken plate with rice and coleslaw, and a side of hot fried wings. This was the best option in the the cafeteria line. The other food option was junk food like candy bars, chips, and rum cake at the little convenient store inside the airport. One think that I did notice about the food at the Nassau airport is that it wasn't necessarily kept at temperatures that our local health department would care to have the food at. Everything was about room temperature. I was a little nervous eating room temperature cole slaw and chicken, but I did not get sick, thus proving again that the USA restaurant health inspections may be a bit overboard, but do keep us safe. Even through the questionable food temperature and flies around the food table, the food at the Nassau airport was many times better than an in Nashville.

January 20, 2007


UPDATE: This restaurant is closed, and there is another restaurant in its place.

Radius 10 has been open for over a year, and is probably considered one of the dining locations to see and be seen in the music biz world of Nashville. The room and style of this place is urban, industrial, airy, sunny and visually minimalistically pleasing. It seems to have attracted the power players of Nashville.

I drive near this place everyday, and I park my car where I can see this place everyday. I get into my car at the end of each workday, I look across the railroad exchange yard that sits between my car and Radius 10, and I can see movers and shakers, and I can see hipsters starting their evening with a cocktail at the Radius 10 bar and patio. I imagine these people starting their evening out at Radius 10, and having power play conversations about who is going to keep the country music industry moving, and who is going to be dumped. I imagine the power people making power decisions for what the music landscape is going to be for the next year.

Everyday I leave work, I wonder who these people are, and what they are eating and drinking at Radius 10, and what their lives are like. I feel like the young Sabrina looking through the hedgerow stealing peeks at David and Linus and all their business friends who are wheeling and dealing during one of their posh cocktail parties.

I have been wanting to try Radius 10 for a long while, but as days passed, I felt more like the country mouse, and that I would not fit in. What the heck was I going to do? What anyone in my position would do, I lifted my head high, grabbed my camera, made a lunch reservation (cuz I heard this place was expensive, but lunch was cheaper), grabbed my friend - who happens to be the corporate attorney (gotta to have the mover and shaker factor, so lucky for me she decided on a mover and shaker profession, although she is very kind and I can't believe she is an attorney), and set out to taste food at Radius 10.

We both were impressed with what the chef/owner Brumm has done with this former loading dock and warehouse space. We were greeted by a very friendly and welcoming hostess, who seated us in the best seat of the house; it was centered by the big windows overlooking the railyard and my car. She asked if we have dined at Radius 10 before, and we said no. She was so nice, and said that she was happy that we decided to dine today, and that she hopes to see more of us, treating us like the Larabee's special guests. How strange it was to be seated where others have sat before, while I looked from afar, just imagining the Larabee-esque diner's lives. Our waiter too, he just treated us like we were his favorite cousins coming to visit him at his home. He told us he was happy that we wanted to dine at Radius 10, and he hopes that we would come again. He was just like the hostess, they said all this in a way that I believe them, and it wasn't some line the owner wanted them to say. What nice service we got!

On to the food. I decided to get the fried chicken and cheddar mac appetizer, and a fresh sea scallop salad. Each dish was large enough for a meal, so next time I know I need to order only one. The chicken and mac combo was a large bowl. The mac was made with cheddar, cream, country ham, asparagus, saucer pasta, and scallions which was topped with a few pieces of fried white meat chicken tenders accompanied with a homemade course mustard and honey dipping sauce. Fantastic! This $6 dish is the definitition of haute comfort food. It is familiar, yet complex. It made me feel cozy, yet sophisticated. I AM IMPRESSED! I LOVE THIS DISH!

I had to box up my chicken mac because it was too much, so I got to enjoy the splendor of the dish again at home! ;-) My next dish was a seared scallop salad. The greens were fresh. The scallops were cooked just right. The searing was beautiful with a delicate caramelization on the outside of each scallop, the center of the scallop was just cooked (not overcooked) and the scallop was still moist and tender. It was the perfect prepartion of a scallop! Just PERFECT!

The interior design, the hostess, the waiter, and the food just added to the stories I have made up in my mind about Radius 10 being the Larabee's estate. When I left, I really felt like Sabrina when she got back from France, sophisticated and invited to one of the posh Larabee cocktail parties. Just like Sabrina, the dining experience was everything I could have imagined as I looked on from my car from the other side of the railyard.

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January 14, 2007

Jogging in Paradise

I have been really sick lately. It seems that I caught a cold on the airplane ride back from the Bahamas. When I went jogging after thinking I might be getting better, I seems to have pulled the infection deeper into my lungs, which required a doctor to help me get better. Well, after 2 days of feeling better, I seem to have caught yet another cold. The crud is going around. BUT, I still have photographs of my last really great run - the run around Paradise! I spent xmas eve running around the whole Paradise Island and then over into Nassau. This is what I learned during my run.

one of Paradise Island's private gardens, rather beautiful

Paradise Island is a little island, about 4 miles long by 1 mile wide, that is accessible by a bridge coming over from the City of Nassau. More than 50% of Paradise Island (the west portion) has been built up by Kerzner International group in the form of the Atlantis Resort. At one time, two of the older hotel and casino buildings on the east side of the Atlantis property (Coral Towers and Beach Towers formally called Loews and Brittania Towers) that make up the Atlantis were once owned by Merv Griffin, and before that Donald Trump. Back in the day, of Merv and the Donald, they owned much smaller plots of land, and around 1991, Kerzner purchased the rest of west Paradise with visions of a huge compound.

another private garden on Paradise Island, again rather beautiful

When I was on Paradise Island back in about 1991, we stayed at the Sheraton Grande Hotel (now called the Riu) next door to the east of Atlantis. I suppose Kerzner would have purchased the Sheraton Grande(now the Riu) in 1991 too, which is the next beachside building, but at that time the Sheraton was hopping, and not willing to sell. Now, it is a bit strange to have a little Riu next to the giant monster complex. Anyway, we met a bunch of accountants during that 1991 trip. They said that a huge deal was underway to buy half the island to build a fancy resort and waterslide park, and they were going to shut down the beach and make it private. At the time, I did not believe them, but obviously, I believe them now. What happened was the Kerzner Int. Atlantis did go through with the purchase, and created a very difficult access to the beach. Under Bahamian law, all beaches belong to the Bahamas, and are all public. The Kerzner group's beach is still open to the public, but Kerzner has restricted access to the non-beach areas of their property by making private drives and private walkways, thus creating a nearly private access to the beach, and still be within the law.

view of Atlantis (nearly 2 miles long) from the Nassau access bridge

It is not just the Kerzner group that has built private drives and private walkways, it is all of the other wealthy land owners up and down the beach! The gardens in the pictures above are part of the private walkways and private drives of other land owners, thus further restricting access to the public beach.

the wood and rope bridge that I really liked visually and to be on

So, getting back to jogging... with all the private access (I did not jog on the private access roads), I jogged on all the public roads of Paradise. I mean ALL of the public roads, since much of the island is now restricted access private property. I jogged all the way west and east, and all the way north and south, and I jogged all the way to Nassau and back. I told the people I went with that I jogged the whole island, and they seemed to look at me in disbelief. It is true that I did because the island is small and public access streets are shorter than the island due to all the private drives.

view of a working dock on Nassau

I only ran into 2 other tourists jogging during my jog. Both of them were doing the same run as I was doing, with a jaunt over the big bridge into Nassau. When I got over to the top of the bridge, the real Bahamas of hard working people was apparent. The illusion of Atlantis for tourists is that there is no care in the world, there is only beautiful beach and ocean, slow pace, grand food, and lots of drinks to be had. This illusion comes on the back of many hard working Bahamians.

view of old boats on Nassau

When we checked in, the concierge had implied that I should jog on the inside of the Atlantis compound and jog all the way to the Atlantis fitness center and use the equipment there. I am glad I got outside and went jogging. One of the things I learned about Atlantis on Paradise, is that it is truly an illusion for tourists. It is a lot like Las Vegas. The choices are to buy into the illusion, or be miserable. Why be miserable on vacation? When I jogged back into the compound, I just embraceed the illusion and went on my grand way to lap of luxury, lots of food, drink, waterslides, fluffy towels, and lounge chairs.

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Lagoon Side Lunch

We ate lunch lagoon side on xmas eve. The lagoon looks like it is man made, sort of, with ocean water coming in. It looked like it was Atlantis' answer to a giant sea water pool. I personally did not go into the lagoon, but I suppose it would be good if there were small children involved. Anyway, the lunch we had, I wanted to go as "local" as possible which means eating Conch. I worked with 2 women, who went to different colleges, but both did a semester in South Caicos (differing by one year), and they both said the school they were at made them wash their clothes and sheets in the ocean, and that they were fed Conch as the main protein source everyday. They both said that they would be happy to never have Conch again. SO, that is exactly what I wanted for lunch, Conch.

My table started off with drinks. I got a pina colada and others got a local beer named Kalik. The Kalik brand is named after the sound the Cow Bell makes (Ka-lik) during the Junkanoo Parade. The Junkanoo Parade happens only 2 days per year, Dec 26 and Jan 1, from 1 am - 8 am in the morning on one of the main drags of Nassau on New Providence Island. There are floats and clubs that dress up in quite fantastic costumes. What the USA has similar is the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans or the Mummers parade in Philadelphia, although these two were born for differing reasons than Junkanoo. Unfortunately, the weather forcast was for rain, so the Dec 26 Junkanoo was postponed until after we left the island, and we just did not get to see it. Ok, there is also that I am old, and go to bed early these days, and I would have not seen much of the parade anyway.

In consolation for missing the Junkanoo parade, I opted for Conch soup and Conch salad for my lunch. The conch soup was a tomato based soup, similar to Manhattan clam chowder. I really liked the soup, it was hearty with a nice spice and chili pepper heat to hit.

The Conch salad was a lot of little pieces of Conch with tomato, peppers and lime. Very refreshing. I took up the iceburg lettuce salad off of one of my dining mate's plate to help round out this salad. I like Conch very much. Other's at my table thought the Conch was like eating pencil erasers. I liked the texture of giving me something to work for while I eat. I really liked this salad because it was so fresh! There was nothing fancy, or over done about this salad. I liked the uncomplicated, straight forward 4 ingredient - Conch, tomato, peppers, and lime because it let each ingredient's flavor come through. If I could get Conch here, I would make this dish!

The rest of my lunch mates opted for sandwiches, and here is one. This one was suppose to be a sliced steak, sauteed onions and peppers panini sandwich. I was thinking that it would be like a Philly Cheese steak, but on hearty Italian bread, and then put into a panini press. What came out was stew meat that seemed to have been stewed with onions and green peppers, on an average white bread roll. No panini, no grilled steak. I did not care for the small bite I took, but my lunch mate said it was fine. This is the plate of which I took the iceburg lettuce. The other got tuna or chicken on a chibata bread. The tuna sandwiches had mustard on them. I am really glad that I got Conch soup and Conch salad, as I think I got the best meal!

As for my former co-workers, and their adversion to Conch now... Well, I raised my fork to them, thought about their stories of a semester in South Caicos, and chewed on the Conch extra long for them. Since I have had Conch, probably less than a dozen times in my life, I could eat a whole lot more of it.

January 12, 2007

Snorkel on Xmas

A neighbor told us that he went snorkeling with the sharks while in the Bahamas, and got us thinking that would be cool. So that is exactly what we did 1 st thing in th morning on Xmas. I was hesitant because it was kind of expensive, and it wasn't clear to me about the logistics such as drinking water, bathrooms, food, and what I really needed to bring with me. The only other time I went on a Bahama's snorkel trip, the tour group had no food, no bathroom (ok, so the ocean is the world's bathroom, but what if I had to make a bm?), and no drinking water, but they seemed to have gallons and gallons of free red rum punch. Yeah, and there were a few people on that boat who barfed red rum. Anyway, I signed up for the Xmas 2006 trip anyway.

This time around, we went with Stuart and Michelle Cove, one of the few Nassau dive shops. They were serious about the trip. They sold water, Gatorade, and snacks. They have real bathrooms and showers. They sold underwater cameras and fish food. I took advantage of all the beverages, bathroom, camera and fish food. They offer real SCUBA dive tours. They have good snorkeling equipment, although I brought my own to use. So we set out for a 3 hour tour with our Irish Bahamian tour guide on Xmas.

The first stop, I took my underwater camera and took pictures as I fed the fish. They were mostl blue and yellowtails. They just swarmed me while I dropped little fish food pellets into the open water.

Here is another photo of the fish at stop one. There are quite a few yellowtail fish. Are these fish the same ones that I enjoy eating raw with a little ponzu and wasabi?

At the 2nd stop, the fish were bigger, and there were a different variety of fish. There was one that I could not quite get a good photo of, but it had a bunch of colorful scales, and big white lips! It looked like it was a painted fish.

We wrapped up the 2nd stop and we were making our way to the 3rd stop - SHARKS! If you can remember, S. Florida, and the Bahamas was slated for rough weather and rain on Xmas, so we were heading into rough waters, 5-10 ft swales, and water splashing over the deck as we went.

We finally get to stop 3, drenched, and apparently some people were being land lubbers, getting a bit sick to their stomach. Oh well, I jumped right in to see the sharks! How cool is that? These sharks are just little reef sharks (5 - 6 ft, 2 m), and they were interested in the chunks of dead fish the tour guide was going to feed them. So, as you can see in the photo above, I was swimming with the sharks. There were kids, teenagers and men on the boat with me, and they did not go in! There was a Wisconsin mom, the other 3 in my party, and me who went in with the sharks. Ha! All the kids and teens were shown up by a soccer mom and us! Ha! So there!

It was time to get out of the water, and this is the view of the sharks from the boat as we were getting ready to head back to shore. All in all I feel this trip was successful as I did not blow chunks!

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January 8, 2007

Bahamian Vacation Continued

The Bahamian Club

The Bahamian Club is the Atlantis Resort's answer to a white table cloth surf and turf restaurant. The interior is dark wood, big leather chairs, big leather booths, dark green faux suede textured walls, dark burgundy carpeting, and art work depicting wealthy horse estates. The interior design was made by someone who wanted to transport the diner to a time and place of the wealthy Newport or Hamptons set of yester-year. This is where we had our xmas dinner. The service was very good. There seemed to be a head waiter, and an assistant server per table. There is no risk of an empty glass as this place, there was a guy waiting to refill at ever sip.

I generally never dine this way. Let me rephrase. I never dine this way. First, I can't afford to dine anywhere with personal servers, and second, food offered here is packed with good old fashioned fat calories. BUT, xmas only comes once per year, and it is truly a treat to eat such decandent and extravagant food. Throwing caution to the wind, I ordered really old fashioned goodies. I usually start dinner with a salad, but that is so boring! This time I treated my taste buds to an old fashioned French onion soup. The bowl was easily the size of 3 cups, and there must have been about 1/2 lb of cheese melted on top. I ate all the cheese! I think the last time I had French onion soup was when I lived in Los Angeles, many many moons ago when I did not know that cheese had fat in it.

If the soup wasn't enough, I opted for Lobster Thermidor, my first time ever to eat this food. Wikipedia said that this dish is difficult and labor intensive, and must contain ground mustard to be an authentic recipe. This one, I believe was true to form, as there was a slight nose of mustard. This dish was made with chunks of lobster, cream, cheese, and brandy, and it was very Very VERY Rich! I have given up eating table salt, and I was pleased that the chef went very light on the salt, and let the lobster and cream drive this dish. The lobster tail shell was overflowing with the creamy lobster. The lobster was overcooked, in comparison to how Bostonians would choose to eat a lobster, but the recipe made was still tasty (and RICH!).

The portions at this restaurant were out of control! I mean, huge! I believe that I could have stopped at the soup, and I would have been fine for the next day. So, what should one do on xmas, when they are stuffed to the gill? That is right, get dessert. We tried the key lime pie and creme brulee. I don't really remember much of these two desserts, as I only had one bite of each because I was so stuffed from the soup and lobster.

I just cannot believe how we well we were waited on (that would be hand and foot) on xmas at this restaurant. It was truly luxurious. I could get used to this type of service. It was a rude awakening coming home when I had to fill my own water glass, and make my own dinner again. Sigh.

January 4, 2007

Mac-n-Cheese off Part 2

This is the first time I have ever made homemade mac and cheese that is baked and then eaten. It is completely different from the boxed mac and cheese with the orange glob of cheez-food that gets stirred in.

First - Pasta Selection:
Only the best BLUE and WHITE Pasta ever!

I did my graduate school course work at THE Pennsylvania State University, and PennState football made it to the Outback Bowl in FL against Univ of TN (note, I live in Nashville, TN now, so either team winning would be ok, although I am loyal to the PennState Blue and White Nittany Lions) . To support PennState, I decided to make my pasta blue and white! I went to the Pasta Shoppe, a little cottage industry down the street from me, and they have a lot of college themed pasta, and other fantastic gift pasta ideas! I bought a pound of PennState Nittany Lion Pasta. Go PENNSTATE, Go BLUE and WHITE!

Second - Sauce:
Most of the ingredients, pasta, salt, pepper, Danish blue, Gruyere, butter, milk (cream missing)

Since I am a BIG PENNSTATE fan, I am going completely BLUE and WHITE with the cheese selection as well. I am using BLUE Cheese and WHITE Gruyere. What else is there for the perfect PENNSTATE BLUE and WHITE Mac-n-Cheese? So, I have never made a bechamel sauce before, so I went to the machine (aka my computer) to find a recipe. What came up when I googled Bechamel was a wikipedia recipe. I used it as a base, and I modified it for a more rich, fatten sauce, and I didn't really measure the ingredients, as I usually cook by texture, taste and feel.
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/3 cup flour
1ΒΌ cups milk
1 cup half & half
a few grinds of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 lb grated WHITE Gruyere
1/2 cup loosely packed crumbled Danish BLUE Cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Hand grated Gruyere

Lazy pre-crumbled blue cheese

1. Place butter and bacon fat in a saucepan and turn the heat to low. When the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from the stove.
2. Sift the flour into the butter a little at a time, stirring continuously to combine them.
3. Add the milk a little at a time, and half&half a little at a time, continuously stirring.
4. Put the saucepan back on the stove on low, and stir until the sauce starts boiling and becomes thicker.
5. Turn heat off. Add pepper and nutmeg, and keep stirring.
6. Add all but about 1/3 cup of Gruyere, all the whilst stirring the sauce.
7. Add the blue cheese, and still stir, stir, stir the pot.
What I learned: STIR THE WHOLE TIME! DON'T STOP STIRRING, or the FLOUR will CLUMP. sigh. Yes, I learned that lesson. Maybe next time I will try arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken instead of flour.

The bechamel, with the last bit of blue cheese to be stirred in.

Third - Boiling the Pasta:
While stirring the cheesy bechamel, I used my other hand to fill a pot with water, and brought it to a boil with some kosher salt. I dumped in my beautiful Blue and White Nittany Lion pasta, stirring the pasta occasionally for about 7 minutes, or until the pasta was just al dente, but not that done. Stir, stir, stir the cheesy bechamel!

Fourth - Butter the Casserole Dish:
My blue and white dutch oven to bake the mac-n-cheese in.

While the pasta was boiling, and while I was stirring the cheesy bechamel, I turned on the oven to 350F, found my BLUE and mostly WHITE Le Creuset Dutch Oven, and used a third hand to generously butter the sides of the Dutch Oven. Stir, stir, stir, oh you get the picture.

Fifth - Assembly:
Sauce, pasta and bread crumbs assembled, and ready to bake.

I drained the pasta while still stirring the cheesy bechamel. I combined the pasta and cheesy bechamel and dumped it into my greased dutch oven. I mixed up the bread crumbs and remaining Gruyere cheese and sprinkled it on top of the mac and cheese. I baked this goodness uncovered in the 350F oven for about 35 minutes, or until it was heated through.

Sixth - EAT!

Finished mac-n-cheese, with serving missing.

My plate of PENNSTATE BLUE and WHITE mac-n-cheese!

Yummy, rich, and delicious! The first plate was very good, with just enough blue cheese, but not overwhelmingly so. The milk and cheese integrated well with the pasta, and the baking finished cooking the pasta through. The topping could have used a little more time to become more crunchy, and maybe next time I should spray the top with a little olive oil to help the bread crumbs get a little more crispy while baking.

PENNSTATE won the Outback Bowl game 20-10 over UT! Now that is some good cheese!

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January 3, 2007

Nobu - nuff said

Nearly 10 years ago, I met my neighbors J&J. They were from Boston just like me, but they were different from me, as they made it BIG in the dot-com biz, got out just in time, and made a ton of cash by age 32. Don't get them wrong, J worked for free at the very start of the first commerical start-up dot-com with a bunch of other forward thinking people, J stuck with it, showed incredible hard work and loyalty, J set a lot of html standards, and the years of starvation paid off. Nearly 10 years ago, J gave J a trip to NYC to Nobu for her birthday, and they took in a fabulous Omekase - chef choice tasting menu made by one famous Iron Chef Morimoto. They sat with Uma and Ethan on one side, and John Cusack on the other. When J&J came back, we sat down, and they told me all about their amazing dinner at Nobu. After hearing their story, I have been fantasizing about Nobu and a meal made by Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Since I have already dined at the original Morimoto's, I still had in my mind that I would like a Nobu experience.

While in the Bahamas for Xmas, my Japanese fusion dining wish came true! We had Xmas-eve reservations at Nobu in Paradise. The place was hopping, the wait staff was awesome, and the sushi chefs were personable! We were at a loss to whether to take in the Omekase menu, or a la carte per person. We had a few dining differences, with one non-meat eater, one non-raw-fish eater, one non-seared fish eater, and one non-spicy eater. The waiter said that these restrictions are NO Problem at all, and that we were safe to put our trust in him to bring out food courses, and tell him to stop when we were full. We thought that was a grand idea, and toasted with our White Star Moet to get the evening started.

1st off was yellowtail sashimi, ponzu, jalapeno and cilantro for the the raw eaters, and there was cooked salmon and ponzu for the cooked eaters. It was fantastic, to have a bit of each of the 3 elements at once.

2nd was a seared tuna salad with a pile high of baby greens. I am not sure what the cooked side had, but there was plenty of salad for everyone. I really liked this salad because the onion vingrette was applied sparingly, allowing for the fresh lettuce and tuna flavors to come out.

3rd, a teriyaki beef dish with enoki, shitake, asparagus, and onions. This dish was pretty good, by far, was the least impressive. The beef was cooked to well done (which none of us at the table care for, as we are all medium rare kind of people), but because it was a good cut of beef, it was fine. The visual composition was pretty.

4th, scallops 2 ways. The first preparation was spicy red chili seared scallops with asparagus, and the second preparation was wasabi seared scallops with asparagus. Rice was served to accompany the sauce. You should note that wasabi spice is a root, like a parsnip, and has an rich, earthy, woody , fresh flavor, has an earthy truffle type nose, and is not generally assultive like that imitation horseradish stuff you get at average USA Japanese Restaurants. The real wasabi root and scallops were slightly green, and had fragrant lovely sauce. I basically claimed the wasabi scallops for all my own, and I would have licked the bowl clean, had the waiter not removed the empty serving bowl. The wasabi scallops were by far my favorite!

5th, miso cod, the Nobu signature hot dish. This dish seemingly is made by marinating cod in miso, mirin, and honey, then searing the skin side down, and then finishing under a broiler or perhaps a salamander oven. This dish is simple, but effective. The fish was just cooked to perfection, juicy, just flaky, and hot all the way through without over cooking. Very good!

6th and last course was the sushi course. I must say, the fish was quite fresh, and melted in my mouth.

As a special request, I got 2 pieces of toro tuna. The first and last time I had excellent toro tuna was in Boston, about 20 years ago, when my sister was friends with a sushi chef in on of Boston's oldest and finest sushi bars. That sushi chef, wanted to date my sister, so he always gave us extra special service, great comps and the best and finest fish. Those days are gone, my sister married someone else, and the sushi chef, well he dated and married a hottie. Anyway, Nobu toro was very good, made in a straight forward way, and the flavor reminded me of the good old days of my favorite Boston sushi chef.

What is this plate above? Well it is what I made for dinner after returning from the Bahamas. It is Nobu-style cod, stir fried broccoli and mushrooms, and a mess of fried rice and split peas. The marinade I made for the cod was 1 part yellow miso, 1 part mirin, 1/2 part honey, 1/2 part wine, and a pinch of red peppers. I did not sear the fish first, so I just put into the broiler for about 9 minutes for a 0.9lb slab of cod. The honey carmelized well, and the the marinade thickened and added a nice glaze. Super simple, super easy. The hardest part was trying to find a good piece of ocean fish in Nashville. I had gone to 3 different stores for about a week before the Harris Teeter in Belle Meade had one decent looking piece of cod. Who knew that the lowly Boston fish-fry fish - Cod, could be elevated to such a status of being haute cuisine at Nobu and Chez My House?

Mac-n-Cheese off Part 1

As all of you know by now, PennState (20) beat Univ of TN (10) in the the Outback Bowl. That was a great game because it was tied up 3-3, then 10-10 for the longest time. Both teams had similar records this year, but PennState just had to play that much harder this year against #1 OSU and #2 UMich. With that edge, PennState was able to eek out a definite win by 10 pts. What does this have to do with Mac-n-Cheese? Everything!

I went down the street from where I live to a lovely cottage industry called the Pasta Shoppe and I found the offical PennState Pasta! Look, the pasta is blue and white! Neat-o! Since I found such cool pasta, it became clear that the Mac-n-Cheese from my house will have the PennState Blue and White theme.

I could not wait to open the pasta bag to take a better look at my beautiful blue and white pasta!

I dumped out all the pasta, so I could look at each piece, one by one! I am excited to cook with my pretty pasta.

Here is a nice close up look at my PennState pasta. I am going to keep one of each color and make earrings out of them. What do you think?

Come back on January 5th, when I will let you know if my PennState Blue and White Mac-n-Cheese recipe worked out!

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