Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lookout Steak House Gulfport, MS

Good Morning Food Fans!

Friday night my companion in nom, Terri, suggested we try out the Lookout Steak House in Gulfport. http://lookoutsteakhouse.com/.  If you are familiar with the local restaurants Salute and Back Bay Seafood then it's interesting to note they, along with Lookout are run by the same team.

We arrived fairly early and we were happy to see a very busy place! We were afraid we would have to come back another time but the staff was able to accommodate us. We sat up in the balcony and it afforded us a view of the entire restaurant including part of the kitchen.  Terri said I looked like a kid in a candy store as I watched the food being expedited.  Our waitress Lisa was excellent!  An exceptional personality and just down right fun to interact with. 

One of the greatest joys I get from eating out with Terri is she is open to try new things.  I know what's new about steak? Well a lot of things!  For example different cuts and qualities, preperation etc.  We started out with the Kobe beef tenderloin medalions for an app.  Terri prefers her meat cooked more on the well side so we went with them cooked medium well.  This was her first experience with Kobe and I think she really liked it.

We each had bread, a salad and unsweet tea to go along with our feast.  Please note the butter they served is blended with honey and I sure wasn't expecting that!  Not that it was bad, just not expected. 

For her entree Terri had the Center Rib Eye Filet and I had the Coulotte Cut Tenderloin with cabernet wild mushrooms.  We both opted for the baked potato.

Terri and I both found our steaks to be very tender and flavorful.  I had Terri do a comparison of the different cuts to see the difference in flavor and texture.  I love being able to share food knowledge!

Please keep in mind they season the steak here so DO NOT touch the salt shaker before trying your meal. 

If you are on a low sodium diet you might mention that to your waitres as they liberally season. 

So to summarize our experience.  Atmosphere was lively.  There is a bar downstairs and the restaurant floor was full. 

Food was great but remember everything is seasoned so leave the salt ALONE! 

Wait staff.  Lisa was great and everything came out to the table hot, fresh and more importantly with a smile and a great attitude. 

Prices are comparable with other restaurants in the area and considering the quality of the food definitely fair.

Recommendations.  Only one! MAKE A RESERVATION!!!! Especially if you are planning on going with friends and/or family.

Overall great experience!  Thanks again to Lisa for her great service and to the kitchen for a great job.  They were turning out the plates at warp speed!

Well my friends, keep on nommin!

"Chow For Now"


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bulldog Pub

Anyone who knows me knows I eat alot of greens.  My nightly salads are HUGE and being on business travel I began to crave lettuce and I needed a fix.  The Bulldog Pub was definitely the right idea!  I had a Cobb salad with shrimp and iced tea.  I know just a salad????  Well it was pretty darn good! ingredients were fresh and crisp.  Shrimp was seasoned perfectly and the presentation was spot on.  Amy my waitress was excellent!  She smiled and offered me numerous options and even though my order was not the largest, she kept my glass filled and checked on me throughout my meal. Oh by the way did I mention the beer selection? It offers something for every beer lover. If you are ever up in Jackson I definitely recommend a trip to give them a try even if you don't imbibe..     http://bulldog-jackson.draftfreak.com/

Well my friends it's time to settle in and relax for a bit.  I hope I can find a new place to share with you tomorrow!

"Chow For Now"


Twin Lakes

Hello my fellow Food Freaks!!!!

Here I am in Jackson and till today I must admit my opinion of food here was at an all time low.  Since arriving here it's been mostly fast food and conference munchies.  This morning more classmates and I went to the Twin Lakes conference center in Florence MS for some team building exercises http://twinlakescamp.org/

What an incredible facility!  500 acres of some of the most beautiful countryside I've seen in MS! The camp is run by the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson.  This place has a really cool vibe and even though they are operated by a church the staff didn't force their beliefs on us.

After a morning of fun in the forest we headed back to the main camp area for lunch.  Keep in mind this is a camp environment.  We were served cafeteria style but that was completely fine.  The food was hot, plentiful, tasty and served by a great crew! 

Our meal consisted of ham, carrots, green beans, and an exceptional potato dish that left us wanting more! Fresh rolls, desert and sweet or unsweetened tea to top it off. 

After lunch we had opportunity to wander a bit around the lake and a couple people even took advantage of the canoes and took a lap around the smaller lake. 

After our break it was back to the woods for more exercises.  We later went back to the main camp for a debriefing before leaving.  A great day all around!

I would like to thank the entire staff for treating us so well!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Road Trip

Hello my Fellow Food Fanatics!

Well I'll be blogging from Jackson MS next week.  I'm attending job training and I'm looking forward to exploring uncharted territory in search of good food.  Garden is doing well and I finished the last of the romaine last night.  Tomatoes took a beating during a recent storm but I hope they'll recover soon.  Squash plants are kicking out blossoms left and right and I have a few small specimens peaking out.  Snow pea plants are very strong and climbing well.  I also planted some cukes this week!  Thanks Terri for helping me feed my cucumber jones! Haven't been to any new places lately but I'm hopeful to explore a bit more upon my return!

"Chow for Now"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Garden Progress

Hello my Friends!

My little garden was doing great until last night.  We were hit with quite the storm.  Thunder, lightening, heavy winds and hail.  First time I'd heard the tornado siren go off and it made my skin crawl.  The tomatoes and squash took the brunt of the damage. This morning when I went to survey my domain the tomatoes were literally sideways and the squash were squashed!!  By the afternoon things had perked up a little and I hope to see further improvement tomorrow.  On a happier note last Saturday, Terri and I went to Ship Island National Park.  It's 11 miles off the coast and we went courtesy of Ship Island Excursions.  We explored Fort Massachusettes, picked sea shells and found photo ops.  We even found the biggest pizza oven EVER!!

Just kidding!  This awesome beast was used to heat cannonballs to give them the added bonus of causing stuff to burn when struck.  We had a great time and I highly recommend taking the trip out there.  We even saw dolphins during the trip out and back.  Bring plenty of sunscreen and slather it on often or you could end up looking like a lobster.  I know Terri I'll listen better to you next time!  I also recommend you go to http://msshipisland.com/ for all the details.

Well that's all for tonight.

"Chow For Now"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homegrown is best

Hello my friends in food!

A few weeks ago I became motivated to grow a few things after my dismay at the lackluster, flavorless produce available in the market.  I grew up with fresh veggies being served almost daily and in the off season I was offered fresh frozen all straight from my Dad's garden. 

I hate to be sentimental but I miss the taste of a warm sun ripened tomatoes fresh off the vine or snacking on a fresh picked cuke.  I have attempted to grow veggies here before but with limited success.  The insects here have proven to be formidable foes.  My last years crop of tomatoes, eggplant and squash yielded very little and what it did was almost all infested.  I did have good luck with basil and oregano and they paired well with my homemade mozzarella and local fresh tomatoes.  I'll have a mozzarella lesson soon.  I need to order some rennet first.

This year I decided to grow a few things that I know grow fairly well here and one that I don't have a clue about.  I planted spinach, snow peas, grape tomatoes, crook neck squash, romaine lettuce and asparagus beans.

So after watching and watering I finally was able to taste the first of what I hope will be a continuous cascade of crunchiness!

Here it is in all it's glory!!!

I clipped only the larger outer leaves as I hope that it will continue to produce new leaves all season long. It was crisp without bitterness a great improvement over store bought.  My garden is limited to a few boxes.  I've only been gardening in Mississippi for a few seasons so I'm going to experiment to see what works before I go on to a larger plot.

Here's my little garden.

Out of sight are my tomato plants.  I plant them near the house so the warmth of the bricks radiates to them at night.  If you notice in the 3rd planter I have green onions popping up.  I planted them last year from seed and they spontaneously came back!

I recommend everyone try to grow at least a little something they enjoy eating.   It can take a little time and it can be frustrating but...the rewards of eating something you have grown on your own are immeasurable.

Ah the zen of fresh lettuce!!

"Chow For Now"


Friday, March 11, 2011

Half Shell Oyster House

Hello my fellow Freaks in food!

Tonight I had the pleasure of eating at the Half Shell Oyster House in Gulfport.  We started the evening with Voodoo Shrimp.  A tasty combo of fried shrimp in a sweet yet spicy sauce.  I really liked the flavor and the shrimp were cooked to perfection.  Terri, my faithful culinary companion, really loved these and they are definitely on the must get list next time we go.

For our main course Terri had ordered the Half Shell Pasta with grilled shrimp and I ordered the Seafood Pasta and upon the recommendation of our waitress Brianna I orderd a crab cake on the side. 

Our pasta came with a nice salad with homemade dressing.  Terri went for thousand island and I went for ranch.

First I must say the greens in the salad were very fresh and the salad was a perfect size to tempt the taste buds.  The dressing was fantastic and not over seasoned.  This is very important to me because I love to taste everything as it should be, not masked by spice or salt.

On to the pasta.  There was a bit of an oops here as Terri ordered shrimp and it came with chicken.  No big deal since she had already gotten her shrimp fix.  Brianna was more than apologetic and offered to re-do the order or even take it off the tab.  We reassured her that it was fine and we proceeded to induldge.

My pasta came with shrimp, crab and crawfish tails in a spicy alfredo type sauce and mushrooms.  Terri's was also in a similar sauce.  I will note the dish normally comes with artichokes but Terri isn't fond of them so they removed them for her in the kitchen.

The crab cake was well seasoned and came with a wonderful sauce that I can't put my finger on.  Sort of tangy like tartar sauce yet with it's own personality.

The food was overall wonderful.  I really appreciated the quality of the food.  Everything was fresh and according to Brianna the restaurant tries to buy locally and also tries to introduce ingredients not normally on the food scene in this area i.e., microgreens etc.  I think it's very important to support local growers and establishments.  It's part of the personality of a town. 

On to the service which Terri and I agreed  was great .  When we arrived there was a little crowd but not too terrible.  Unfortunately the hostess wasn't there to seat people as she was with other customers.  Brianna to the rescue!!!! She sat a couple before us and quickly came to assist us.  Not only did she quickly get us a table, she even sat the other couple in another of the wait staffs tables.  This is a big deal to me because she could have easily loaded her own section to maximize tips but she shared the customers.

Our glasses were always full and the food came out like clockwork.  It's nice to see the kitchen staff and wait staff work well together.

Overall The Half Shell gets 2 big thumb up.  Quality food obviously prepared and served by people who care about their product and their customers!

We will definitely be back and will spread the word!

"Chow For Now"


Monday, February 14, 2011

Sushi Spot Biloxi

Hello my Friends in Food!

This afternoon Terri's friend Leonie Johnston, owner of  Lavish salon in Biloxi, celebrated it's 4th anniversary so we went by to say hello and offer our congratulations. The place is awesome and is located in an older building with a wonderfully comfortable feel. Please give them a call and support a local business http://lavishsalon.net/index.php.  After we said our hellos we decided to go to The Sushi Spot in downtown Biloxi on MLK Blvd.  We had eaten here before but it was BB (before blog). 

Tonight we started with egg drop soup.  I am a soup freak.  I absolutely love soup and this was great.  Terri says it's her all time favorite egg drop yet!  Nice rich flavor, a smooth texture and sightly thickened.  We followed up with an order of egg rolls.  The order is small but it is an appetizer so it was just the right amount.  The sauce was sweet and spicy without being overpowering.  For entrees Terri had The Generals Chicken and I had stir fry shrimp udon.  The portions were large and required takeout for both of us. 

The udon was perfect! The sauce was flavorful and it allowed the noodles to take center stage as they rightfully should.  The shrimp were small but that proved to be an asset to the dish, although small, there was a large amount of them so you were able to get a taste of everything in every bite a definite plus in my book.

Terri enjoyed her chicken immensely so I think next time I'll get it for myself.  We are never shy about sampling each others food but for some reason we were content just savoring our own individual meals.  This was probably for the better because the strong flavor difference probably would have overpowered the noodles.

I would be amiss if I didn't mention the high quality service we received from Thuy.  She was professional, polite, and genuinely seemed to care about us.  She had a constant smile and was very attentive. Thanks a million Thuy!  You made our meal that much more enjoyable!!

I recommend The Sushi Spot whole heartedly.  Prices are reasonable, food is top notch and service is great.  I haven't tried lunch there yet but certainly will.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!  Especially my sweetheart Terri my constant culinary companion and sidekick!!

"Chow for Now"


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shaggy's In the Pass

Hello my Fellow Food Freaks!! 

Hit another new place last night in Pass Christian called Shaggy's http://shaggys.biz/

Weather was nasty and the week had worn me out but with a little coaxing and the promise of a fireplace off I went.  Shaggy's is located right at the harbor making it really cool to hang out at during the summer.  As for the current weather the restaurant is plenty warm enough with a fireplace right in the middle. 

As usual have to have tea.  Since I no longer partake of the grape it's my go to drink.  We started out with the Jamaican Jerk Shrimp for an appetizer.  The flavor was sweet and spicy with a good balance between flavors.  Good size shrimp didn't hurt. 

Main dish was the Crawfish and Mushroom pasta.  This was a tasty dish with plenty of crawfish tails in a nice tasso cream sauce. 

The service was fast and polite and glasses stayed filled.

A couple of notes:

1.  This is a family restaurant so dress is casual.
2.  Portions are ok but not great.
3.  Caution when navigating the stairs.  It was raining and they were slippery.

The above are not complaints just things to be aware of.  The food was wonderful and the staff went above expectations.  I am guilty of a bad memory or I would give a shout out to our waiter.

Give the place a shot.  Menu has a pretty good variety without being unmanageable.

"Chow for Now"

Monday, January 31, 2011

John Besh's Jalapeno Cheese Grits

Hello my fellow freaks in foodness!!

Well I decided to try and make Chef Besh's chese grits this evening.  Let me start out by saying that quality ingredients make a difference and with that in mind let's do it!

I didn't bother to take photos because it's grits.  If I would have done a plate with them I would have snapped away.

1st I took a jalapeno pepper and roasted it till it was well charred. I poped it into a small paper bag and let the steam from the pepper loosen the skin.

Once I could handle the pepper I peeled the skin, cut it in half and removed the seeds and ribs.  I tend to like a bit more heat but this was the first attempt and I had  my son Petes friend as a victim, albeit a willing one.  Diced that bad boy up and put to the side. 

To continue the prep work I pulled out 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of Marscapone cheese, and 4 ounces of Edam cheese.

After the prep was complete, I brought to a boil 4 1/2 cups of water with 1 tsp of salt. I looked hard for good old fashioned grits but the store only had quick cook.  Oh well!  I whisked 1 cup of grits into the water.  You need to keep stirring this stuff or you'll have lava like bubbles popping all over the stove and yourself.

5 minutes later I stirred in all my other ingredients and VOILA!!

They were a hit!  6 servings made I ate 1 put 1 in the fridge the rest down my guinea pigs throat.  

I felt bad about not going with a slow cook grit but I made up for it with quality ingredients, i.e., cheese and butter.

I purposely placed one of the servings in a round container in hopes it will solidify a bit.  I'm thinking of removing it from the container and grilling it till it's warm and topping with grilled cajun spiced shrimp or a crawfish and cream sauce.

I'm open for suggestions!!

Give this recipe a shot it's suprisingly tasty

"Chow For Now"


Friday, January 28, 2011

A week in New Orleans

Hello my Fellow Fod Freaks!

Just back from a week in New Orleans.  I was attending a training session for my job at the VA.  To say I ate too much would be an understatement. The food options are so numerous I think you could eat at a new place every day and never eat at the same place twice.  With that in mind I'll hit some highlights.

1st up is Brother's Fried Chicken.  I ate there last night.  It's literally in a convenienc store on Common Ave.  At first I was a bit apprehensive but alas when in Rome!  The chicken put anything to shame I have eaten in the past. Juicy can't describe it and the coating was crispy and not greasy at all.  It came with a generous portion of steak fries and on the recommendation from one of the employees at the hotel I was staying I tried one of the meat pies.  HOLY NOM!  That little sucker had more flavor than I expected.  Nice and spicy!  If I would have had a fridge in my room I would have bought a dozen!!  Pie was only a couple of bucks chicken was $4.00 for 2 thighs and 2 legs.  This was also good since food in the city is OUTRAGEOUSLY high priced. 

2nd was The American Sector at the National WW2 Museum.  I had a corned beef on rye with hand cut chips, slaw and cheese grits.  The restaurant is owned by John Besh.  Not only a great chef but a Marine too!  Semper Fi!  There are some great reasons for the food to be so wonderful. First all meats are smoked and prepared in house.  Second they believe in sustainable local products and third it just tastes great.

Now I'm not a born and bred Southerner but I do enjoy my grits.  The grits at the American Sector taste so good it'll make you wanna slap yo mama!  They were spicy, creamy and cheesy.  I wanted to lick the bowl!!  I found the recipe and will be posting pics and the recipe later.

Although I didn't get to Cafe DuMonde I did have opportunity to eat some traditional New Orleans foods. Red Beans and rice at Mother's Cafe and a muffaletta at Cafe Maspero.  Mother's is crazy busy but the food was wonderful and service good an obvious favorite with the locals. 

Masperos got mixed reviews on Yahoo and I couldn't tell you why.  The sandwich was a beast!!  The darn thing wouldn't fit in my mouth!  Luckily I had a prybar.  This was a classic.  Tons of meat and olive salad dripping everywhere!

Unfortunately the prices in the city have risen sharply from what I remember.  It wasn't uncommon for a meal to run $30.00 or more WITHOUT drinks. There is a Harrah's Casino so lunch isn't too bad at $10.00 a head.  Keep in mind it is a casino buffet so the seasoning levels aren't typical of the local restaurants. 

Overall great food experience was had.  I would recommend you try to go where the locals go and roll with the flow as each place has it's own personality and style.

Helpful hint!!!!!  Take cash.  A lot of places don't take plastic or give seperate checks.  If you go with a group, which just increases the fun, let them know, ATMs abound but at an average of $3.00 a transaction it's not worth it.

Next week long trip will be to Jackson MS in April.  I wonder what culinary adventures I will find!

Until next time!!

"Chow for Now"


Monday, January 10, 2011

Aristo's D'Iberville

Hello my friends in food!

I was reminded the other day that I neglected the meal I enjoyed at one of the newer places in the area.  The Promenade in D'Iberville is loaded with places to eat.  You name it they got it!  Pretty much all the standard shopping mall eateries.  But there is a hidden gem tucked away and unfortunately a little out of site. 

Aristo's is a little piece of variety in the cookie cutter restaurants of mall land.  Terri and I where wandering one day and she suggested we give them a shot. 

We of course had to have our unsweet tea. and for an appetiser we tried the pita pizza mozz.  This was pretty tasty.  Warm pita bread with melted mozzarella and served with a feta ranch dipping sauce!!!!

We also tried the Flat potato fries.  It's a really cool concept. They slice a whole potato and deep fry it.  It had more of a home fry texture and I thought  it OK but I could take it or leave it. 

I followed up with the gyro with added feta.  I love me some feta!  I've had gyros all over the country and this was the first time it was suggested to me to try it with melted feta.  I didn't know what I was missing!! 

The sandwich was packed with gyro meat veggies and oozing melted cheese.  It was a very satisfying meal. 
Terri indulged herself in a grilled shrimp wrap that looked great.  Judging from the mmmmmmms and yummms we both agreed that there will be a future visit.

The wait staff was wonderful and attentive without hovering.  Glass was always full and food was hot and fresh.

Prices pretty good and you can tell the staff enjoys what they do.  Give em a try!  If we don't support these smaller businesses we will be doomed to chain restaurants and woe to the adventurous palate!!!

"Chow for Now"


Pizza at Tony's 14th Street Gulfport MS

Hello my fellow food freaks!

Well last Friday evening after a very trying week I decided to hit Tony's for dinner with my faithful food guinea pig Terri.  Tony's has become my sort of go to hang out when I have to have a good hand tossed pie or I just don't know what I want to eat.

I had much to my own suprise become a creature of habit until that night. We decided on the usual unsweet tea, fried mozarella and a side salad.  Here's wher it gets good! 

Maria, our waitress, informed us of a special pie on the menu. It seems Tony was getting creative and had a shrimp pie on the menu!!!

I learned to eat all kinds of things on pizza while in Italy and shrimp was one of them!!

Terri LOVES shrimp but I was suprised at how readily she accepted the suggestion.  So we munched our appetizer and salad and when the pizza arrived.  VIOLA! or should I say ECCO QUA!

The crust was delightfully crunchy with a nice bit of char.  This is a "sauce less" pizza in that olive oil and garlic are substituted. Topped with fresh basil, tomatoes, red onion and shrimp snuggled in a layer of cheese. 

I must admit I was pleasently suprised. Great mouth feel and the taste was reminiscent of linguini with clam sauce.  The only thing I added was a touch of salt only because I felt it needed a little.  One thing I found strange was the pizza flavors seemed to get better as the pie cooled.  I would almost eat this cold that's how good it was.

Price was comparable to the other pizza options on the menu so this little adventure not only got me off my meat lovers with mushroom kick it was within budget.

We have eaten at Tony's a few times but this evening was exceptional. The salad was good size and really fresh.  The parmesan dressing was tangy and highlighted the greens without overpowering them.  Oh!  I almost forgot the warm focaccia that comes with it!!  This stuff is AWESOME! Served warm sprinkled with herbs and cheese it can be ordered as a side with a great marinara to dip it in.

I was dismayed to hear this wonderful addition to the menu was only a special.  In an unusual move on my part I spoke with Tony and begged him to make it a permanent fixture. Even if they don't I recommend giving the place a try.

"Chow for Now"


Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Eve

Hello my fellow food freaks!

New Years Eve I decided to add fresh pasta for dinner to our simple salad and flatbread menu.  It had been a very long time since I broke out the good old Mercato pasta machine.  I picked it up about 15 years ago while stationed in Italy.  My sons and I would spend rainy Sundays making multi colored pastas.  It was great family time. 

What inspired me to bring it out of hibernation was the receipt of a pair of Mario Batali cookbooks for X-Mas and feeling the need to whip up some old school ravioli!

Mario's recipe is very simple all you need is 3 1/2 cups flour and 4 large eggs.  Yes, that is it along with some elbow grease that is.  The pasta machine makes things easier but it's not a must have.

I would add if using a pasta machine start off on setting 1 run your dough through a couple of times after folding it over on itself.  This helps knead the dough as well as get it to the desired thickness.  I rolled the evenings pasta down to 8.  The finished pasta was very light and I decided next time to roll down to around a 5 or a six to give it a more hearty mouth feel.

Here it is rolled to around 5.  Hard to tell between the higher settings but when it's cooked you can really tell.

Here is a sheet rolled to 8.  The dough had been kneaded enough at this point to be very elastic and easy to manage.  REMEMBER:  Lightly flour your work surface before laying sheets down. No I forgot and it made it hard to remove the ravioli from the counter.  Lesson learned!

For the filling I must admit I was conservative with the spice.  I made a classic ricotta and garlic filling by taking a small container of ricotta, fresh ground pepper, salt, garlic and 1 whole egg.  I struggled with the flavor as I like really spicy food and I was cooking for others.  I erred on the side of mellow and it was a mistake.  And here is the reason why.

I truly knew better and I should have left well enough alone.  I made a mushroom and sage sauce by heating salted butter and olive oil in a pan with fresh sage.  I removed the sage leaves and tossed in a generous helping of sliced portabello mushrooms and cooked them down till they released their juices.  It tasted wonderful! All I should have done is toss my cooked raviloi into the pan to coat and finish with parmesan.  BUT NOOOOO!!!

After I boiled them in salted water till al'dente I added Marinara sauce to the original sauce.  Now don't get me wrong the follow up sauce was pretty good but a bit too strong for the ravioi I had made.

My guests assured me that they tasted great but I should have gone with my gut feeling and kept the marinara out of the equation.

As an added treat fresh flatbread was topped with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella popped into the oven till the cheese melted into a hot gooey glob of love!

Overall I know I was harder on myself than the guests but it probably would have helped my confidence if I would have done a practice run before hand.

Anyway fun was had by all and I look forward to the next gathering.  What to cook? 

I have an idea!!

Why don't you send me some suggestions!!!

"Chow for Now"