drunken noodles, pad thai, red bean ice cream rocks, Thai-o-rama

Thai-O-Rama Pt. 4–Pom’s Thai Taste

Finally, some decent Thai Food. After 2 rounds of questionable meals (and a missed round at Kon) I’m back on the moped for another round of the glorious Thai-O-Rama with my fellow interweb bloggers.
This round brought us to Pom’s Thai Taste, on Congress, on a rainy Monday night on the way home from work. After the Mrs. had her bad shrimp experience at Bangkok we had been laying off the thai for a while (except for uber-treat that was Boda a few weeks back) but our meal at Pom’s brought us quickly back to the happy place that Thai tends to send us to.
While the interior is very obviously ‘Thailand meets Ikea”–from the tables to the wall hanging wine rack–it is also one of the cleanest and simplest interior. Overall the dining room is bright and cheery without the feeling of being campy or gaudy. The food also falls into the line of pretty simple and straightforward (and if you’re still finding it not so, there is a little cheat guide to basic Thai food on the inside of the front cover of the menu).

Our meals started off with a pair of Thai Iced Teas and these are some of the best we’ve had along the way. An ungodly neon orange color laid way to a slight bitter/slight sweet concoction that didn’t make our teeth ache as some can overdo the ‘sweet’ aspect of the drink. Our only complaint of this was that it took about 10 minutes before our drink/dinner order was taken after we were seated and, well, we were never asked if we wanted a refill during our dinner. R. dug the service, while I felt it could have been a little more present.


Apps ordered were fried spring rolls and Kra-Tong Thong, pretty much staples where ever we can find them. While the spring rolls were pretty meh, the Kra-Tong have never disappointed, slightly spicy and crunchy, they come nicely paired with a slightly sweet cucumber chutney–which I believe is just nom pla, sugar, chili, garlic and cucumbers.

Entrees ordered were Drunken Noodle w/Chicken(my standard and listed as Pad Khee-Mao) and Pad Thai. While my dish was earthy and rich with a mild oyster sauce base, the Mrs. was given one of the most mild versions of Pad Thai we’ve encountered. Ok, it was bland as if no seasoning was present at all. When it was first set down in front of her, she kept saying “This smells odd”, but after a few sniffs it was determined that the smell was the presence of the scrambled egg in the dish and there was a lot of it. With no hints of an acid of any sort, lime or lemon or any spice, her dish was greatly helped by the addition of tamari that was served with three other sauces brought to us by our waitress. I opted for the hottest of the four to add to mine, to lift the flavor a bit, and was met with pure thai chili fire that burned in the best of ways.

Needing something to squelch the fire that was setting my tongue ablaze, we opted to order a few desserts to bring things down a bit and we weren’t disappointed in our choices of Thai rice pudding and Red bean ice cream.

Both dishes were beautifully and playfully plated and a wonderful ending to the meal. I, especially, loved the little bits of red bean that was scattered in the ice cream like chocolate chips.

Overall, the Pad Thai was the most mediocre part of the meal but was saved by some table side seasoning. This meal was a nice reminder that there is some great, approachable Thai closer to home than we normally travel to out for. It’s easy to see, based on the environment and quality of food how Pom, the owner of three Thai places around the area, has built herself a nice mini-empire of restaurants. The best of the three we’ve had so far.

Poms Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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bbq, food ignorance, skinny cart bbq

Curb Side Cart Style BBQ

I am going to claim ignorance here: I know not a good plate of BBQ.

Growing up in NY, Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, was the best known in the area and sat a few hours west. What we had was OK. There may have been a red sauce slathered on top of chicken or ribs but it was not the BBQ that will cause fist fights across state lines in the south. What I grew up with, and what many still call BBQ, was grilling. Because I never enjoyed the sickeningly sweet bottled sauces my family bought or that our neighbor made, I never really got into liking ‘BBQ’.

Since moving to Maine, I’ve been to two places over time: Buck’s Naked in Freeport and Norm’s East End Grill on Middle Street. Both were nice, though Buck’s was preferred because of the option of adding sauce to my liking. However, I walked away none the better versed on things from the world of char.

So, when Kate and I decided to grab lunch at Ron’s Skinny Cart BBQ I had no preconceived notions or expectations. And, when you visit the barely-hanging-on-shack

you leave it all at the window. Ron is an animated man, a nice wink and a smile with every word that flows from his mouth as he quickly heats, slathers, stuffs, wraps and hands over your sandwich. The bottles of water and cans of soda hang out in brightly colored buckets dangling under the day’s menu and hours.

Luckily, just behind the parking lot next to Skinny Cart, there sits a log that nicely subs for a bench. And you’ll probably need to sit to eat this because it’s not an easy sandwich to dig into.

You have two options:
Attack it quickly and with generous napkins
or
Eat is slowly and wear it broadly on your clothing.

Lightly charred, but gorgeously pink, beef is more than generously doused with a homemade sauce, added bacon and caramelized onions. While the meat and onions were great, the sauce reminded me a bit too much of that dreaded childhood BBQ. A hint too sweet and a bit too heavy with the black pepper, I would have liked about half of the sauce that was there. After having the sandwich that I brought home for her, which included a horseradish mayo that I would have loved to have tried, the Mrs. echoed the issues with the pepper of the sauce. But, for the both of us, this doesn’t dismiss the fact that it was a damn good sandwich, especially for the price.

Cart side dining on Washington Ave.

Skinny BBQ Cart on Urbanspoon

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fun things with bacon, mashed potato pizza

Bacon and Mashed Potato PIzza

I have heard so many good things about the Mashed Potato Pie @ Otto’s on Congress, that I decided to make a home version last week for St. Paddy’s Day instead of the typical boiled dinner.

I used a Rosario Pizza Dough(Bristol, ME) as my base, set into a 12″ lightly oiled cast iron skillet. I preheated the oven to 500 and dropped it to 400 just before the pie went in and baked it for about 30 min.

The irish-style bacon could be substituted w/pancetta.

Left over Irish cheeses were used as the substitute for mozz.

The second round of bacon was thick cut, in house double smoked from Whole Foods.

Scallions and chives

Mashed red/yellow potatoes(with Kerry Gold butter and milk); mixed in chives/scallions and porky goodness

Spread out pizza dough, laid down a base of the grated cheeses and strips of bacon

topped it all with remaining greens and pig

Pre-oven–topped with more cheese after this photo was taken

Post oven

Plated with a wayward piece of bacon.

I’ll be making my way over to Otto’s soon enough to try their version to compare but will definitely be making this recipe again.

Bacon on Foodista

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burning myself on purpose, ghost pepper, hot hot hot, obsessing

Edible Obsession: Ghost Pepper Salt

Top 5 Uses for Ghost Pepper:

5) Cooking–naturally as has been shown again and again on Man V. Food.
4) Tear Gas–a good alternative to hand grenades! (see wiki entry at the bottom)
3) Heal Stomach ills
2) Defense against Elephants(also see wiki entry)
1) Mix it into a salt so that I may walk by the jar, stick my finger into, lick it off and get my momentary fix of tongue masochism.

Thank you Gryffon Ridge, from Dresden, ME, for creating such a wonderfully sadistic salt blend.

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cheese, cheese plate, using my cheese words again

Saturday Afternoon Cheese Plate

Sealed up and starting from the upper left:
Noble Hill Reserve–Hahn’s End Creamery, Maine
Havarti in Beeswax–Swallowtail Farm, Maine
Dubliner with Irish Whiskey–Kerry Gold, Ireland
Golden Ridge–Hahn’s End Creamery, Maine
Dubliner with Irish Stout–Kerry Gold, Ireland

Wonderful, ‘new to me,’ small farmstead cheese maker from Maine. Cream cheese like spreads were also offered. Can be found at the Portland Winter Market.

My absolute favorite creamery in Maine. Hard to find, though worth the trouble, I was absolutely in love with them from the first taste of their ACS winning Eleanor Buttercup. Their cheeses can be found @ K. Hortons and Aurora Provisions, these were purchased directly from their table @ the Winter Market.

Havarti waxed with bees raised on site @ Swallowtail.

From the top:
Dubliner with Stout: Slightly nutty, grassy and hint of oats. This one seems a bit younger than the year it’s aged. Texture is much creamier than the regular Dubliner and the Dubliner w/Whiskey.

Dubliner with Whiskey: Caramel is the most prominent flavor I get off of this one. The milk is sweet and nutty. Flavor profile is definitely more up front than the last and the texture feels a bit drier.

Noble Hill Reserve: I’m not even sure what style of cheese it’s meant to be but, if I were betting on it, I’d peg Gouda. Creamy, but dry enough to crumble, it was like eating a raw cow’s milk version of the Vermont Sheperd. Each bite carried that wonderful raw milk ‘dance’ that lets you know what you’re eating is still alive and evolving. This was my favorite on the plate.

Swallowtail Havarti: My best comparison to this cheese is somewhat of a baby swiss. This cheese had a very distinct sour, but not spoiled, profile that lingered throughout eating. With the unique rind of natural bees wax it, not surprisingly, paired best with the honey from Slovenia(which is worth searching out. Ours was a gift from the Mrs.’ cousin).

Golden Ridge: One of the most complex cheeses I’ve ever had, I was completely enthralled with it. While I thought it was just your basic brie/camembert style cheese it bared a nuttiness, a Cashewieness specifically, that took me by surprise. Yet there were also profiles of mushroom and creme fraiche. I would pay a good price to get a bootlegged raw milk version of this.

Serving on Foodista

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can't eat anymore, Evangeline, finale, love of lists, restaurant week

33 dishes, 5 restaurants, 3 days, 2 people–Day 3 pt. 2–Finale

March 6,2010-late reservation
Evangeline
–Solo w/Kate and Roomie of Kate(Amy)
3 Courses for $30.10–Unofficial RW participant

First Impression: A reading from a MySpace blog entry from 2008:

What a better way to celebrate a birthday then eating all of the aforementioned? Ok, I’m sure there are better… but, I couldn’t think of one this year. I’m in love with a restaurant. No, that’s not really doing it justice. I’m in uberlust with a restaurant. I can’t stop thinking about the food…. seriously, it’s frightening. We went to Evangeline on our birthday(last tuesday)…and I still can’t get it out of my head.

This was my first impression of Evangeline and it still holds…only now I’m a little less of a fucking dork about it. Every time the Mrs. and I are able to make it in, I turn into a fat kid at Friendly’s. I am Augustus Gloop when I walk into this restaurant. Thankfully for me, the full menu wasn’t offered or I probably would have passed out at the table from a full blown coma… I have no restraint there. And, truthfully I’m ok with that.

Dinner:
Cervelles de Veau
:Crispy calf’s brain fritter • Cabbage • capers • Brown Butter • Bacon

Steak Frites: Roasted Culotte Steak • Creamed Spinach • Glazed pearl onions • Frites and Mayo

*Cheese: Jasper Hill Farms Caspian w/Sultanas, Local Honey

Dessert:Valrhona Chocolate Semifreddo • Pistachio Praline

My good FIF(friend-in-food) Kate did a wonderful summation of the steak in her review, so I will point you in her direction for any interest in that. I will disagree with her on the dessert as I loved the drier texture of the semi-freddo and the lightness it carried. The pistachios added a bit of nutiness and, truly, how can you go wrong with any dessert that starts out with the word “Valrhona Chocolate”?

Now, where my true desire, and highlight of the meal laid, was in the small dish of crispy calves brains. This, and the bone marrow, have been constants for me here and not once have I been disappointed. In fact, I would say that this time around was the best yet. The complexity of flavors(smoky, salty) married with the array of textures(crispy, buttery) are not easy to come by, as I recently learned while reading a recipe breakdown of the dish. A new found appreciation was found after reading that.

Breakdown: Ambiance: There are few restaurants in Portland more beautiful than Evangeline. Like Bar Lola, there is just something about the place that makes me feel comfortable the second I walk in the door. I absolutely love the wood used throughout the entire space, the mirrors that adorn the left side wall and the slightly open view of the kitchen. It is also one of the few white linen places where I’ve heard the Grateful Dead playing lightly in the background (the other was Bresca and “Stagger Lee” just the night before).

Service: Always impeccable and professional. While you could see the staff was getting antsy as we lingered at our table, they never directly made us feel rushed.

Food: Consistent as always without a single misstep in the courses. Again, I would have liked to have seen more than the RW menu offered but, perhaps it was for the best. The food fog weighed on my head (and, my god, my poor heart) by the time the last forkful was taken.

*This wasn’t a piece of Caspian… this was a whole Caspian, like it was a challenge… and I blinked.

8/10
____________________

So, the days are done. A spread out, three day over stimulation of a multitude of senses which, for the great majority of the time, were exceedingly wonderful and, for the best of moments, just exactly perfect. Truthfully, by the end of this I was ready to be done.
One thing that I noticed is that 3 of the restaurants didn’t officially participate in RW; 1 we didn’t even utilize the RW menu and the last had a different menu than what was listed on the RW website. So, what’s the moral of the story kids? Don’t use RW as an excuse to get out there, just go out and eat.


Top 5 Dishes:

5) Caramelized Banana Napoleon–Bresca
4) Beef Panaeng–BODA
3) Heritage Pork Belly–Bar Lola
2) Cervelles de Veau–Evangeline
1) Uni Pasta–Bresca

Evangeline on Urbanspoon
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