Bobby, Where Are You? Mesa Grill

Here’s a question: What is there not to love about Bobby Flay?

I mean, really. If you watch him on Throwdown, he’s just so funny and adorable. And if you see him compete on Iron Chef, he’s just so ridiculously intense. I simply adore him. So, when I was in NYC last month, I decided to make reservations at Mesa Grill, Bobby’s restaurant. Now, if you know anything about Bobby Flay, you know that he loves to grill… so if you are not a fan of grilled food, you might want to reconsider before booking a reservation.

The restaurant, located at 102 Fifth Ave (between 15th and 16th), has an extremely inviting atmosphere. It is super colorful and has some great ambiance, which can make or break a good dining experience.

The meal starts out with the restaurant’s signature Blue Corn Muffins, made with jalapeno peppers. They were served warm, causing the butter to soak right in, and had the perfect amount of bite while still retaining the traditional corn bread taste.

For my entrée, I decided to go with the Ancho Chile-Honey Glazed Salmon, served with a spicy black bean sauce, tomatillo salsa and roasted jalapeno crema. The picture I took does not do the dish justice… it was so colorful! I didn’t want to eat it, I wanted to use it as a decoration in my apartment.

The fish was cooked perfectly, it came apart in perfect bite size pieces. The sauces gave the dish a nice bite, but was perfectly complimented by the coolness of the salsa. The entrée was about $19, which was pretty much what I anticipated, and since I was dining alone, I didn’t feel guilty about it. (No, I’m not super lame, I just like going to eat by myself sometimes… It’s actually very relaxing.)

Now, I know you’re wondering… was Bobby there? I figured he wouldn’t be, but I was seated in an area where I could look into the kitchen, so I certainly peered in with hope, but no such luck. I guess that I’ll just have to be satisfied with what was written on the bottom of the menu…

Want to try Bobby’s Blue Corn Muffins? I found a recipe online… if you try it, let me know how they turn out!

Mesa Grill Blue Corn Muffins

  • 3 Tablespoons onion, finely diced
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup blue cornmeal (can substitute yellow)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Grease a 6-slot muffin pan with non-stick vegetable spray.

    In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, bell pepper, jalapeño, corn and cilantro. Whisk in the butter mixture. In a separate bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar. Mix into the liquid mixture.

    Divide the batter evenly among the muffins slots and bake for 16 minutes or until set, turning the pan once for even baking.

    Happy Eating.

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    The Charm City – Baltimore Eats

    Prior to March, I had not been ‘charmed’ by the Charm City, for no other reason than I had never had the chance to visit before. I must say, I was quickly won over. Baltimore is pretty chill in its own rights, and offers up some great eats. I was only there for 3 days and only sampled what the city has to offer, but my sampling was enough to seal my imminent return in the near future to taste some more.       

    Sam’s Kid       

    An Asian-Fusion Tapas Bar at 811 S. Broadway in Historic Fells Point. Perfect if you’re out and not looking to eat a huge dinner. Order a couple of dishes to split among your friends without spending a fortune.       

    Ocean Spring Rolls

     

    Yakitori Chicken Skewers

     

    Crispy Calamari

     

    The Reserve        

    One of Federal Hill’s newest bars, located at 1542 Light St., is not your everyday pub. They offer a full menu, including lobster mac and cheese… yes, it is as good as it sounds. Learn more about The Reserve here.       

    Lobster Mac 'n Cheese w/ Bacon, Smoked Brie and Scallions

     

    The Pratt Street Ale House      

    Sitting in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, The Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W. Pratt St., offers up the usual pub fare, but the visit is worth it if you indulge in one of the establishments Oliver Ales, local brews made right in the restaurant’s cellar. I tried the Summer Light Ale which was light (as the name would suggest) and very refreshing. They offer a full menu of brews alone. Learn more here.      

    Fed Hill French Dip

     

    Summer Light Ale

     

     Nacho Mama’s   

    If you’re looking for great Mexican in Baltimore, make your way over to 2907 O’Donnell St. in Canton, home to Nacho Mama’s. They offer an extensive menu of mexican favorites, all of which will fill you to capacity… and then some. As it was my first trip, I went for the restaurant’s name sake: “Nacho’s” Macho Nachos. Even though it was listed as an appetizer, or ‘Things b4 Dinner’ it was enough to serve 3 people as an entree. You get more than your money’s worth. Read more about Nacho Mama’s here.   

    'Nacho's' Macho Nachos

     

         

     Koco’s Pub   

    The first thing I requested upon my decision to explore Baltimore was to have a true Baltimore crab cake. My last night in town, I finally got my wish. We headed to Koco’s Pub, 4301 Harford Road, where I ate my first REAL crab cake. (Note: Crab Cakes are not supposed to be covered in breading. I’ve been SCAMMED up until this point!). The restaurant was locally voted ‘Best Crab Cakes.’ Check them out here.   

    Crab Cake

     

        

    Happy Eating.

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    Now That’s “Good Stuff” Eatery

    During my vacation last month, I spent the first 4 days in Baltimore visiting a good friend from college. Unfortunately, she was not on vacation during my stay and left me to my own devices to keep myself entertained. Since Baltimore is a mere 45 minute train ride from Washington, DC, and I had only been to our nation’s capital once prior (for Barack Obama’s Inauguration, so sightseeing was limited, to say the least), I decided to spend a day walking the National Mall. I was a history major in college, so visiting historical monuments is exciting to me (read: NERD).

    After walking around for a few hours, I received a text message from another college chum, Laura, berating me for not letting her know I was in town, so we decided to grab lunch together during her break. Now, as I mentioned in my previous post, I am a bit of a ‘Top Chef’ fanatic, so of course I knew that season 4 contestant, Spike, had a restaurant located in the Capitol Hill area, located just a few blocks from my friend’s office – Good Stuff Eatery, located 303 Pennsylvania Ave S.E. The name does not lie.

    Now, when I say restaurant, it’s more of a fast-food place on delicious steroids, offering up burgers, fries and milkshakes. The place was packed, but between the seating outside and upstairs, we didn’t have a problem finding someplace to sit, and the wait for our food wasn’t terribly long (about 10 minutes). The prices weren’t too bad either – I paid about $15 for my whole meal, which was tasty and filling.

    Laura and I both ordered the Farmhouse Bacon Cheese Burger, topped with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and ‘good stuff’ sauce. The burger was an A+.

    And my fries weren’t just regular fries, they were Spike’s hand cut ‘Village Fries’ topped with thyme, rosemary and cracked pepper. I couldn’t eat them fast enough.

    To top off the meal, I indulged in one of the hand-spun chocolate shakes, which was creamy and thick, but not so think you couldn’t get it through the straw (which I find to be one of the most annoying things in the entire world).

    All in all, if you find yourself in DC, I would definitely recommend checking out Good Stuff for a quick and delish bite.

    Happy Eating. 

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    “You know it’s good food when you’re too busy to talk” – VOLT Restaurant

    I love the show Top Chef, and here is why: Top Chef puts a spot light on the culinary arts and chefs in ways that no other show does. It also brings attention to these talented culinary artists who would probably not receive a ton of recognition otherwise. The past season of Top Chef: Las Vegas had some of the most talented chefs the show has seen yet, including runner-up, Bryan Voltaggio.     

    Voltaggio owns VOLT restaurant, located in Frederick, MD (an adorable place, should you ever find yourself there). Since I was planning on coming down to Maryland for part of my vacation, I asked my hostess and good friend, Leland, if we could make a day trip out to Frederick and try VOLT. Being the good friend she is, she agreed to the 90 minute drive. The trip was completely worth it.     

    The restaurant, situated at 228 N. Market St, is located in a former Victorian style home built in the 1800s, but the decor of the restaurant is completely contemporary, as were the staff (grey suits, no ties and converses… yes, CONVERSES).      

    Since it was Sunday, early afternoon, we had the brunch, a three course prix fixe menu. As  a good brunch usually does, every course gave the option of breakfast or lunch fare from which to choose. Leland and I, having similar tastes, ordered the same first 2 courses, and then different desserts. We also sprang for the additional wine pairings, where each course was paired with a different wine (totally worth the additional $18/person).      

    *Note: I apologize for the quality of these photos. They were taken on my BlackBerry because I figured whipping out my camera in the middle of the meal wouldn’t be acceptable.*      

    1st Course: Potato-Leek Chowder with a Seared Scallop     

    We decided to have soup for the first course, for no other reason than it sounded delicious. The soup was incredibly smooth and creamy. The scallop was seared perfectly, melting in my mouth. We considered licking the bowls when we were finished, but decided to refrain.      

           

    Accompaniment: country sausage gravy and scallion biscuits     

    In addition to the three courses, diners have the option of adding on an additional plate for a small price. Wanting to experience as much of the food as we could, we decided to order their version of biscuits and gravy. The biscuits were warm and soft, with a thick hearty sausage gravy poured over the top.      

          

           

    2nd Course: French Toast     

    Your mom never made French toast like this, I promise. The French toast itself was thick and savory. It was topped with organic maple syrup, freshly made whipped cream and chutney (don’t ask me what I kind, I was too busy burrowing into the plate to pay attention!)     

          

           

    3rd Course: Dulce de Leche      

    Death by dessert, because if I had dropped dead after eating this, I would have gone happy. The little goat cheese cheesecake, with dried caramel and vanilla ice cream was so rich and decedant the plate was clean within a matter of a minute. Leland opted for the Textures of Chocolate, a white chocolate ganache with chocolate caramel and raw organic cocoa. She was equally satisfied.      

           

    Through out the meal, the staff would bring by a variety of rolls and bread. Round 1, I tried the chive biscuit, which was absolutely delish. Round 2, I grabbed a chocolate croissant, also very tasty.       

    Chive Biscuit

     

    Chocolate Croissant

     

    Overall, the meal was incredible. As Leland pointed out part way through the meal, as we had ceased speaking, “You know it’s good food when you’re too busy to talk.” And for $25/person for three courses, it didn’t break my single-girl-salary bank.   

    Of course, being a Top Chef fan, I really hoped to see the man himself, Bryan Voltaggio. By the end of the meal I accepted the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. On our way out, I needed to use the restroom, which was located directly across from the kitchen. On my way out of the ladies room, I peeked in the kitchen, and working right next to the door was Voltaggio. While I seriously considered falling to the ground and bowing to him in worship, I simply smiled to myself and walked to the exit. Mission accomplished.  

    Happy Eating.

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    The Amateur Foodie Travels!

    Hello fellow foodies! If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to travel is to eat! Well, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing over the next week: traveling and eating. What’s better than that?

    So, please stay tuned throughout the week for my foodventures in Baltimore and NYC. Here is some of what you can look forward to reading about:

    -VOLT Restaurant in Frederick, MD – owned by Season 6 Top Chef contestant, Bryan Voltaggio. I’m a Top Chef fanatic, so I’m pretty pumped.

    -MESA Grill in NYC – owned by Bobby Flay… need I say more?

    And who knows what else I’ll stumble on in my travels, but regardless, it will be a yummy week for sure!

    Happy Eating.

    Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    Recreating a Restaurant Favorite

    One of the best parts of going to a restaurant is being able to get food that you just can’t find anywhere else. Sometimes it’s a special sauce, a unique side dish or an out of this world burger – and no matter how hard we look, we can’t seem to find anything quite like our favorite restaurant’s signature dishes.

    To be honest, I have tried to recreate some of my favorites, including Panera Bread’s chipotle mayo, but have not had much success. However, I recently discovered something I could recreate, and it wasn’t difficult at all.

    When I was younger, I used to LOVE going to Red Lobster. It was a special treat, usually for my birthday. However, as I got older, Reb Lobster lost it’s luster… except for one thing: the Cheddar Bay Biscuits. No matter what, they were always little pieces of heaven. Even though I didn’t enjoy the majority for the restaurant’s fare, I would go simply to eat those biscuits.

    But I recently stumbled across a recipe for the biscuits, and with only 5 ingredients, I was surprised how quickly and how easily they could be made.

    Here’s the recipe I used:

    Ingredients:
    2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
    2/3 cup milk
    1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 450.
    • Mix baking mix, milk and cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds.
    • Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 min. or until golden brown.
    • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir garlic powder; brush this mixture over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Makes 10-12 biscuits.

    When you bite into these biscuits, you’ll swear they are the real thing. Impress your friends with these tasty, signature biscuits at your next dinner!

    Happy Eating.

    Posted in Inspiration, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

    Crispy, Golden…Vegetables?!

    Nothing cries junk food like French fries. Eat them with ketchup, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce …it doesn’t matter; they go with just about any dish. Traditional fries are made from potatoes, but, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to take the traditional and turn it into something different but the same and still delicious. Today’s experiment: Zucchini fries.

    Now, fried veggies are not new, but they are, however, very tasty. But up until today, I could only find them in a handful of restaurants, so when a craving hits, I usually have to suppress it because they weren’t easily accessible. But, I have now fixed that problem …I’ve found a way to make my own version.

    The process is super simple, especially since I don’t own a deep-fryer, so I baked them instead. Just like any breaded dish, you need a beaten egg and some bread crumbs. I also added in garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese to my breading mixture.

    Using one large, or two smaller zucchini, cut fry-sized pieces of zucchini, about 2 or 3 inches long. Dunk the pieces into the egg, and then toss in the bread crumbs. Lay out your ‘fries’ onto a cookie sheet, skin side down and bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

    These bite size pieces of goodness can easily replace traditional fries as a go-to side dish. They are also really good with some ranch dressing for dipping. And because they are baked and not fried, they are lower in calories.

    Happy Eating.

    Posted in Healthy Alternatives, Junk Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment