Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Planet X Cafe in Rehoboth

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Stacked Potato Gratin, Local Sweet Corn and Cherry Tomato Relish, Cornichon Remoulade
Continuing on our little photo retrospective of places I ate at while on vacation... we have Planet X Cafe (though for updated menus you'll want their Facebook page). Being that Anna and I are a vegetarian/omnivore couple, the great thing about Planet X for us is that they offer a vegan or vegetarian version of (nearly) every meat dish on their menu. There is no vegetarian version of the crab cake you see above, but instead of Boneless Beef Short Ribs with Sticky Asian BBQ Sauce, Coconut Yams, Crunchy Sweet and Sour Spring Vegetables Anna had the option of crispy seitan served in a similar manner.
Crispy Seitan, Sticky Asian BBQ Sauce, Ginger-Coconut Yams, Crunchy Sweet and Sour Spring Vegetables
It's a simple idea, and obviously very efficient for the kitchen since you get two dishes by simply swapping out the protein... but I can't say I've seen it anywhere else. Learning how to cook with seitan and tofu would give chefs a lot more options than the dreaded "grilled vegetable plate" when a diner who doesn't eat meat walks into their restaurant... and I find it fairly mysterious as to why nobody seems to do this.

Regardless, the food was quite good (appetizers from this meal are here and here), and Planet X Cafe is one of our "must visit" restaurants in the Rehoboth area. Definitely a great choice for any vegetarians or vegans to get a nice dinner out at the beach.

From a photography perspective, this was the first meal I've photographed at night in a dark restaurant with a hand held light to illuminate the plates. I think it worked great, and wasn't very obtrusive... at least compared to a flash. I'd probably like a slightly more powerful light, but for the price it works pretty well and opens up some more food photography options for me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tapas at Café Azafrán

Tapas Happy Hour at Café Azafrán
When Anna and I make our yearly visit to the Rehoboth area, we are sure to always stop at Café Azafrán. Café Azafrán has two locations, one on Baltimore Ave in Rehoboth and another off the main drag in Lewes (the original location). Until this year, we had always dined in Lewes (pronounced Lewis), but the newer restaurant in Rehoboth has the advantage of offering a tapas happy hour ($7 tapas and $7 wine) five days a week (Sunday-Thursday) compared to just one (Tuesday) in Lewes... so it seemed time to make a visit. The tapas selection for happy hour is a bit smaller than their regular dinner menu (and portions are a bit smaller as well), but I still find it to be a pretty great way to put together an early evening meal from small plates. Here are some photos and descriptions of our favorites (the full set is here).

Haricots Verts Azafran
The Haricots Verts Azafrán are made with blue cheese and walnutshazelnuts, and are just fantastic. One our favorite things to order, and it's hard to imagine eating here without a bowl of them. The beans are crisp but caramelized, and the blue cheese is wonderfully assertive. This is a dish we really need to be making at home... once a year is just not enough.

Spinach Gnocchi
I really love their Spinach Gnocchi as well... always perfectly cooked and surprisingly light. Simply delicious.

Baked Goat Cheese Gratin
This might not be what you expect when you see the words "Baked Goat Cheese Gratin", but the warm goat cheese and roasted peppers is just fantastic to smear all over flatbread... and works as a nice counterpoint to romesco.

As I said, this is one of our favorite places to dine... I heartily recommend you stop in if you are in the Lewes/Rehoboth area.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Schoodic Mountain HDR

A little photographic interlude while I'm downy oshun. These are all HDR shots from Schoodic Mountain in Maine, but some were with a $2 Android phone app and some were with a DSLR, tripod, and $100 HDR program. While I think (hope?) it is easy to pick out which were done on the cellphone, it is a good indicator that you can have fun with the technique without a "proper" photo setup.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Clover Food Lab

BBQ Seitan from Clover
While they have a brick and mortar location in Harvard Square, Clover Food Lab is more properly conceived of as a food truck operation (i.e. oriented towards "food on the go"). They've been around since 2008, but initially were just an MIT phenomena that has expanded considerably in recent years. If you are a vegetarian (or perhaps just doing a Meatless Monday) in the Boston area you owe it to yourself to check them out... as an omnivore I find them a little less enticing than Anna, but their sandwiches/pitas are pretty solid (pictured above is the BBQ Seitan cut in half) and their rosemary fries are fantastic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child

Born 100 years ago today. While I continue to adore her original show The French Chef... it still holds up to this day, and is more entertaining than any number of Food Network mainstays... her influence on my cooking was mostly indirect (The French Chef stopped filming new episodes before I was even born). I own Mastering the Art of French Cooking and consult it as a reference fairly often, but I don't typically cook from it. For the most part this is because she wrote it working under the assumptions of a 60's American kitchen that didn't have access to as many ingredients as we do today. In addition, despite the fact that her descriptions of techniques are amazing and the accompanying illustrations quite beautiful... for the most part I try to find a YouTube video showing an unfamiliar method instead of deciphering it from her cookbook. That said, it's hard to imagine a person with a greater impact on the current state of our food culture. Deplore how few people cook at home and how bad our diet is all you want, but I have little problem concluding it would be (roughly) a million times worse without Julia Child. At the very least there would be a lot more tuna casseroles. I think she helped stem the tide of disappearing family meals by showing people how easy it could be, while simultaneously inspiring latchkey kids raised on boxed macaroni and cheese that there was something more out there.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Got Nothing

As may be obvious from my lack of posting the last two weeks, I haven't really been cooking. I've been a bit busy both at work and home, but really I just haven't been inspired to cook anything... which is pretty unusual for me. I hope to figure out some fun things to cook over the weekend, but be aware the next two months may be a little light in content as we are going to the beach for 10 days on August 17th and getting married at the end of September with a family dinner over Columbus Day weekend... and there are a lot of things I need to take care of between now and then... which very well may impact my ability to think of fun things to cook and blog about. It already has to some extent, but hopefully I'll figure it out, since cooking is good way to relieve stress for me.