Monday, February 22, 2010

Only $240 to go...

Only only 8 more weeks, I'll be riding my bike from Houston to Austin for the MS150 and to raise money for multiple sclerosis. A portion of each dollar raised goes toward helping families living with MS as well as toward MS research. I've raised $2260 at this point, and my goal this year is $2500. That means I'm almost all of the way there, and only $240 from meeting my goal. Wouldn't it be great to raise $2500 by March 15th? But I can't do it without your help. If you're interested in donating to this worthy cause, check out my personal page HERE. Everything helps, even the little amounts!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Potato and Leek Soup - EPCOT

I'm taking a short break from posting about the trip to tell you about this awesome Potato and Leek Soup that we had while we were dining in England... in EPCOT, Disney. It's actually by chance that we even wound up eating in England.

Originally we had reservations to eat in France, but once we got there, neither one of us were really into the menu options. It's actually the first time that I've ever gotten up and walked away from a table, but I just couldn't see dropping $100 for something that neither one of us were that interested in eating. So we headed down the path to some of the other countries. We checked out the menu in Italy, which looked AWESOME, but unfortunately found out that they had no more spaces available for the evening. We also learned this about Mexico. So as we were quickly narrowing down the choices between what was available and what we wanted, we found ourselves at the last country, England. At this point we were getting pretty hungry, and fortunately they only had a 20 minute wait.

Well, I think this was just one of those things that works out for the best in the end. I don't think that I would have ever chosen to eat at England, given the other choices between Italy, Mexico, and Canada, but I'm sure glad we ate there. It was setup just like an English pub, but it was a very nice warming atmosphere and very relaxed. The food was also very good. But the thing I thought was truly note worthy was the Potato and Leek Soup. So much so, that I asked the waiter if I could get the recipe from the Chef. It turned out that not only could I get the recipe, but they would email it to me. I was a little skeptical, but low and behold, the next morning I awoke to find a recipe from the Rose and Crown Pub waiting in my inbox. Since I found this soup so delicious I would like to share it with you here. Enjoy.

Potato and Leek Soup
From: Rose and Crown Pub - England - EPCOT - Disney
(makes 1 gallon)

6 large Russet Potatoes (peeled)
2 quarts Heavy Cream
2 quarts Whole Milk
1 large Onion (diced)
6 medium Leeks
1/4 cup Butter
2 tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper

Preparation method:
1. Cut potatoes and place in a container covered with water so they wont turn brown, set aside
2. Remove green tops of the leeks, you just want to use the whites. Chop leeks and then soak in water to remove dirt. Drain water and soak again. Repeat process until leeks are cleaned.
3. In a heavy pot with heat on medium-high, melt butter, then add the onions and leeks. Cook them for 5-10 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Do not brown onions.
4. Add potatoes to the pot, then add milk and cream. Let soup simmer on medium heat until the potato is cooked through. This will vary due to the size of the potatoes, usually about 90 minutes
5. When the potatoes are cooked, puree soup with a hand blender until smooth. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.
(You may also use a stand up blender, pureeing the soup in batches)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What a trip! - Part 2: Dinner at Emeril's

On Sunday night, between launch attempt one and two, I took Jeremy to Emeril's restaurant on the Citywalk near Universal Studios. At Emeril's you can reserve the kitchen table. It's awesome. You're right in the kitchen, talking to the chef and sous chef and watching everything that's going on. Even better, you get an awesome multi-course meal specially prepared for you. I've posted pictures and descriptions below off all our courses. They were all so wonderful, the pictures don't do them justice. We also included a wine paring with our meal.

Course 1: Fried Green Tomato Fresh Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Remoulade Sauce, Creole Tomato Glaze and Pickles.

Course 2: Fresh Shucked Louisiana Oysters Fresh shucked Louisiana Oysters, Applewood smoked bacon-spinach crust and Hollandaise sauce. Mmmmm too good for words.

Course 3: New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp New Orleans BBQ Shrimp with a Petite Rosemary Biscuit

Course 4: Lobster & Crabmeat Stuffed Mirliton Maine Lobster & Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Stuffed Mirliton, Esssence of Meyer Lemon, Crystal Gastrique, Poached Corn Vinaigrette. Served with 2009 Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa.

Course 5: Sea Bass and Saffron Risotto with Tomato Fumet Pan Seared Sea Bass, Saffron-Chorizo Risotto, Black Olive Pesto, and Heirloom Tomato Fumet. Served with a 2007 Leal Chardonnay from California. (Excellent Chardonnay)

Course 6: Blood Orange & Chipotle Glazed Lamb Spare Ribs Blood Orange & Chipotle Glazed Lamb Spare Ribs with New Orleans Cole Slaw

Course 7: Filet Mignon, Peruvian Potatoes, Saltwater Prawn Pan Raosted Filet Mignon, Purple Peruvian Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Head On Saltwater Prawn, Ancho Chili Steak Sauce. Served with 2005 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon from California.

Course 8: Desserts!

Seasonal Sorbets: kiwi, blood orange, and strawberry. Chocolate Cake with peanut butter mousse, Kahlua-Dark chocolate ganache, pecan Praline, and sweet cream. Emeril's Banana Cream Pie with graham cracker crust, caramel sauce and chocolate shavings. Vanilla bean creme brulee with macerated berries, chocolate ribbons, and sweet vanilla shortbread.

Whew, what a meal! It was all so tasty, and by the end I was so stuffed. These are just a few of the pictures that I took, but you should check out the rest of them HERE. I would totally recommend this to anyone going to Emeril's.

What a trip! - Part 1: Shuttle Launch

We just got back from an awesome trip to Florida. Not only did we get to see the shuttle launch, but we also got to hand out with good friends, eat dinner in Emeril's kitchen, and spend two days at Disney. As you can imagine there's lots to write about, so I'm gonna break this up into multiple posts.

First, the shuttle launch. Jeremy and I, along with our friends Brent, Mari, and Edgar, made our way out to Florida for the STS-130 launch. STS-130 is scheduled to be the last night launch, and we were fortunate that Jeremy got a causeway pass from NASA. The original launch date was to be Sunday morning at 4:39am. After getting into Florida around 9pm we picked up our rental car at Thrifty. I should mention here that we almost had to take a 12 passenger van because they were completely out of cars. Apparently the snow storms up east locked everyone down, so people weren't returning the cars when they were supposed to. Fortunately at the last minute they "found" some more cars and we were able to get a Nissan Versa (or something like that). Could you imagine us driving around in a 12 passenger van for 5 people! Anyway, after grabbing some grub and a blanket from the hotel, we headed out to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) around midnight. Since the launch wasn't until 4:39am we spent the next 4 hours just hanging out. The side picture was taken through Edgar's binoculars and with 4x zoom on my camera. It was really hard to hold both the binoculars and the camera still enough to take a clear shot. Much to our surprise it was much colder on the water than we anticipated and we huddled together to stay warm. After 4 hours of freezing, it was 9 minutes to launch... And then it got scrubbed. :( Yep, at around 3am the low clouds started coming in and the 80% chance of launch we had at the beginning of the night, fell to 40% by 3:30 and then 0% by 4:30am. We were all very disappointed. Not only that, but since there were so many people on the causeway and also at the KSC visitor area, it took us about 2.5 hrs to get back to the hotel. Crazy. Fortunately Brent, Mari, and Edgar were all able to change their flights to Monday morning and stay for another night.

Now jump about 20 hours later to 11pm Sunday night, and we started the process all over again. Only this time, we were much more prepared for the weather. We all had several blankets and comforters (thank you AmeriSuites) and hunkered down for another 4 hours. Only this time our waiting paid off. At the 9 minute mark they gave the go for launch and we all scrambled out of our blankets and into place. Of course Jeremy and I forgot our binoculars but Edgar said you could see the beanie cap come off and the shuttle engines gimble. They also announced some other stuff, but I was too excited to listen. At the 2 minute mark everything seemed to happen so fast. Before you knew it they were announcing 30 seconds to go and then 10, 9, 8.... 3, 2, 1... LIFTOFF!!! And for that split second nothing happened. In that brief moment you see the huge plume of smoke engulf the shuttle and all you can see is smoke. Then a split second later you see the shuttle peak out of the smoke and lift off to space, and the sky instantly turn from night to day. It was the most amazing thing to watch. Before you knew it, the fireball was almost out of sight, and it was becoming night time again. Also neat, was the fact that our friend, Kylie, was doing the commentary from Houston over the PA system! Yay Kylie! Since we had a good spot on the causeway, I was able to set up my small tripod and camera and make a short video of the launch. This is from about 6 miles out. Enjoy! Oh and also check out all the pictures from the shuttle launch HERE.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Only $650 to go....

In a little more than 2 months, I'll be riding my bike from Houston to Austin for the MS150 and to raise money for multiple sclerosis. A portion of each dollar raised goes toward helping families living with MS as well as toward MS research. I've raised $1850 at this point, and my goal this year is $2500. That means I'm almost 3/4 of the way there, and only $650 from meeting my goal. Wouldn't it be great to raise $2500 by March 15th? And then even better to raise $3500 by April 18th? But I can't do it without your help. If you're interested in donating to this worthy cause, check out my personal page HERE. Everything helps, even the little amounts!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just trying to be helpful...

This weekend Jeremy and I went up to the Triangle to check it out and see about these two restaurants; one a grilled cheese shop and the other a yogurt place. First the yogurt place. Saturday night our friends told us about this yogurt place where you can pick out your own flavor yogurt then add whatever toppings you want, like fruit, candy, etc. Now, I don't know why, but I had just assumed that he was talking about breakfast yogurt. You know, like yogurt from Yoplait. I don't know why, but the idea of this being frozen yogurt just never crossed my mind. And I was like, huh that's a really neat idea, breakfast yogurt you make yourself. So we went in, and decided to try a few flavors. At $0.39 per ounce I figured a few samples shouldn't be too bad. We decided to try mango, peanut butter, cake batter, and cream cheese. When we got to the counter two things happened. First, I had the revelation that it was frozen yogurt. And it hit me like a bolt of lightening. Like, ooooooh, that's what he meant! Even as I was dispensing it out of the machine, it just never crossed my mind that I was going to eat frozen yogurt. I don't know why. Needless to say, the idea was now much less novel, because there are frozen yogurt stores all over the place. Secondly, I realized that our few small samples cost $2.10. Now, $2.10 is not a lot, but for the tiny amount of yogurt that we had, it seemed a bit much. Especially since the containers they give you are huge. If you filled one of these things up as a dessert for yourself, you'd be looking at $8-$10 easily. I can only suspect that they are charging you at least $0.60 for the dish, I mean, that thing surely weighs at least 1-2 oz itself.

Besides the frozen yogurt place, we also checked out the grilled cheese restaurant, I believe it's called Chedd's. I was pleasantly surprised at the experience we had here, minus one point. First the good: The grilled cheese. I was impressed how many different bread options they had, and how many different cheese choices were available. Probably at least 20. Plus lots of extra toppings including meat if you chose to make it into a panini of sorts. Jeremy and I both settled with basic grilled cheese (with tomato added to mine). Both were very tasty. Now onto the bad: the soup. Jeremy ordered a small tomato basil soup. Now, the soup itself tasted okay, nothing special really, but the problem was it was SCALDING HOT. Like burn the f**k out of your mouth hot. And not only for a few minutes, no, we had to wait easily over 5 minutes to *try and taste this stuff. At this point I told Jeremy that the soup was way to hot and they should never serve it this way. I mean, hell, it was hotter than coffee, and I wasn't prepared to sit there for 20 minutes to sip it either. So I decided to say something to the workers as some constructive criticism. Jeremy, of course being very uncomfortable with this, insisted that I wait until he go to the bathroom before I say something. So I do, and then I politely walk up to the counter and say, "excuse me, I wanted to say that I really enjoyed your grilled cheese (always start with the complement), however, I wanted to let you know that the soup is really way too hot." Instantly the guy got defensive. He's like "Well, we have to keep it that hot by food inspection regulations." Then he takes a look at the temperature gauge and says "yep, that's how hot they require it to be. If they come in here and it's not that hot, we'll get hit with a fine." At which point I'm thinking two things. 1) Have you been though this already? Cause you seem to know about the exact temperature and the health code off the top of your head. and 2) there are a thousand other restaurants in this town that serve soup and NONE of them serve them so f'en hot that they give you third degree burns. So now we leave and I'm thinking to myself, maybe I should just report this guy just to make his life miserable. Really, all you had to say was "I'm sorry it was too hot, we'll look into it." Jerk.