Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flint, Michigan. Gourmet Cooking. Who Knew?

I was recently in Flint, Michigan, and there is a smoking awesome little store called Oliver T's. If you ever find yourself having a occasion to go there, by all means - do!

They have an aisle of desserts that I love to just wander around. They carry desserts (when I say desserts, I mean cookies, not cakes, or anything major) from most every major nation, and they have them seperated out on the shelf so you know what comes from where. The German desserts are all seperated out from the Italian ones, which are seperated from the Israli ones, and the French ones, and even the US and Canadian ones. Although in the Canadian section, they've actually got Oreo's, which leads me to think that the Canadians have most of the same stuff we do, if they were reaching that far in the bag. :)

They also have just about every drink you could think of. Every beer, every wine, even bottled drinks I've never even heard of before. Pinot Nior soda? Kid you not. It's a real thing.

I met a lady that made me laugh too. She was worth the trip alone! We decided that they had a special buffet style lunch that day, we may as well have a seat and eat something. The food was all Greek.

This older lady behind me in line looks at the Spinach Pie tray, scoffs, and goes "I guess that's the NEW version of spinach pie!" It took all I could do to not fall over laughing at her. Terrific, that lady!

At any rate, the reason I got the most excited for the trip to Oliver T's was the custom spice bar. They have a custom spice bar, where you can buy the amount of spice that you need - like, if you only need 1 teaspoon of chili powder, why have to buy three or four ounces, right? I got so stoked, because I found Chipotle Chili Powder on the bar. I've been wanting to make Bobby Flay's 16 Spice Rub for a long time, and I thought I'd finally chased down one of the elusive chili powders. Alas, apparently I didn't. Now my hunt for pasilla chili powder begins. Oy.

I do much, much recommend Oliver T's. They take orders online, so you can order from them, even if you don't have occasion to find yourself in Flint.

Oh, and FYI dads? They are doing strawberry dipping for kids. Chocolate covered strawberries? High five for a built in mothers day present!

Check it out online:

Oliver T's

Wine Country Soda

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Food Network on DVD!

Today, wasting time walking around Target with my son, I found some intriguing stuff:

Giada At Home Season 1
Good Eats
Ace Of Cakes Season 2
Diners, Drive Ins And Dives

on DVD, on sale. $12.99. I actually kind of like Guy Fieri (I didn't vote for him on his season of Next Food Network Star, but I'm saying!), but unless I owned one of the profiled restaurants, I can't imagine why I'd want the full season of "Triple D", as the show has become known.

At any rate, take your Food Network home with you!

I found a kind of interesting cook book at the library today, so I'll be chatting that up tomorrow. And hopefully, trying out a recipe or two from it this week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Iron Chef: Battle Butter

So I finally did get to finish Battle Butter. Not suprisingly, lots of fruits and vegetables, not alot of meat that's standing out in my mind, other then Cat Coras pork tenderloin.

A butternut squash tart tatin from Cat Cora that looked AMAZING, and a butter salad dressing that seemed equally intriguing. It got great reviews!

Iron Chef Cat Cora and Challenger chef Koren Grieveson actually TIED. I think actually only the second tie I ever rememeber seeing.

I absolutely love Mark Decascos. He plays "The Chairman", and you gotta admire his determination of charecter. But then again, pay me money to eat some of the best food from some of the best chefs in the nation, I'd be determined in my charecter too! :O

Monday, April 27, 2009

Avec Moi?

On Sunday nights Iron Chef America, Koren Grieveson was the challenging chef. She is Executive Chef at a restaurant called Avec, from Chicago. I knew Avec was really familiar, but I didn't know why.

I googled them, and I've still got no idea why they sound so familiar, but hello? Who's planning a trip to Chicago?


For some reason, I can practically HEAR Michael Symon talking about Avec. Was Koren on The Next Iron Chef? Perhaps...

Or not, according to Wikipedia. Gah. It's kind of making me nuts.

But in other news, Koren Grieveson WAS nominated for Great Lakes Region Chef of the Year by the James Beard foundation, which, for those not in the know, is like The Oscars for chefs.

Since I can't figure out why I know the place, let's go eat there!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's like buttah!

In honor of Battle Butter on Iron Chef America tonight, can I just say something - am I the only one who didn't realize that there was actually enough types of butter to have a whole Battle based on them?!

Apparently, there are. In addition to the fact that pretty much any type of milk can be made into butter (including the prominent placement of Goat Butter on the show - the buyers must be especially proud of that one!), there are types! Check the action:

Cultured, which is butter made from fermented cream. With the invention of pasturization, a bacteria has to now be introduced into the cream. The result is richer, and more buttery, and prefered in Europe, apparently.

Sweet Cream, which is butter made from pasturized cream. Butter made from fresh, unpasturized cream is called Raw Cream.

Cultured is the prefered butter in Europe, so much so that in the United States, it's often sold as European butter.

Several spreadable and whipped butters also are on the market. Whipped butters in particular, are not recommended for cooking.

In the United States, anything sold as butter must contain at least 80% butterfat. Most on the market butters in the States only do slightly better then required, averaging around 81%. In the United Kingdom, butters are traditionally richer, averaging around 85%.

Butter is also an excellent medium for herbs and spices, which are referred to as "compound" butters.

Huh. Butter. Who knew?

And I will soon be posting a full on recap of the battle, including profiling the fact that the Challenger Chef is from Avec, and I don't know why that sounds so familiar, but I'm going to find out!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Delicious Finds at the Farmers Market!

I've been wanting to go to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market for a couple of weeks. It's sort of an off time of year to go - they are open year round, but in Michigan in April, there's not much that's in season. So it was some herbs and flowers, and just a few other things. Lots of apples and apple cidar, which seemed strange, because it doesn't seem like this was really the time of year for that.

At any rate, after taking forever to find a parking spot, we parked, and hiked across the street. I decided that I was going to take the tact of starting at the back, and working toward the door, so that's what we did.

One of our first stops was the Sansonetti Gourmet Foods booth. I have to give major shout outs to these people, because that guy was really cool. They are a locally owned business, headquatered in Holly, Michigan, which is about an hour north of here. They mainly do sauces - they have Michigan Maple BBQ sauce, Hot Sauce, two kinds of spaghetti sauce, and a curry mustard, which he told me was especially designed to go with Kogel Hot Dogs. Which made me laugh, because that's the mark of being a Michigan company - to most of the world, the phrase "Kogel Hot Dogs" means nothing. In Michigan, that's big business!

So he let me sample a little bit of everything. The Michigan Maple BBQ sauce is delicious - thick and rich, but not overpowering, and I didn't taste any pepper, or anything that would change the flavor that they were going for. The Hot Sauce I was impressed by as well. Most hot sauces have a vinegar base, and so you just get a really kicked up vinegar. Theirs, you taste, and you really get true, red pepper kick. One of the spaghetti sauces, and the name of it is escaping me right now, is really delicious. It's a spicy sauce, and he uses FOUR different kind of peppers, to get a really even flavor, and it's really great stuff.

There was a bit of confusion with the guy, which is why I'm giving them such a strong shout out. I got the Michigan Apple Glaze, which is good stuff - it's got the feel in your mouth of BBQ sauce, but has a delicious taste of fresh apples. When I was standing there talking to him, I realize that their product looks so familiar to me because they carry them in my grocery store, which I told him. He thought I meant that I worked at the store, and was like "Ooh, if you work at a store that carries our stuff, I'll give you a deal!", and he gave me a dollar off. D'oh! So I was honest, and it eventually came out that I didn't work there. Still, I felt so bad, I wanted to give him the dollar back.

Yes, I am considering buying the Curry Mustard and some Kogel Hot Dogs when I go to the store tonight. I'm just saying - the mustard was really good!


The jar of apple glaze. It says it goes well with fruits, and even that you can mix it with a little vinegar and oil, and have a nice salad dressing. Guess who is sales pitching Kogel Hot Dogs and grilled fruit for dinner tonight?!

My next stop was the Zingerman's Creamery booth. Not to be confused with Zingerman's Deli or Zingerman's Bakery, all of which are headquatered in Ann Arbor, and appear to have no connections to each other.

Zingermans does all of their cheese work themselves, and can I tell you, it's amazing stuff? They give free samples if you stop by their booth, and I tried a bit of the mozzarella and a bit of goat cheese. The Mozzarella is all hand made and mixed, and packaged by hand. It's smooth, and creamy and delicious.

The goat cheese is also packaged by hand. I know alot of people don't care for goat cheese because of the strong flavor, but those people have never had fresh! It's soft, creamy, has a really nice, mild flavor. Goes well with everything! :) I got the roasted red pepper, and the guy working the booth recommended using it in pasta salad, but I just sliced it up and put it on crackers. I couldn't help but wonder how well it would go on a bagel with a little smoked salmon, though. You'll probably be reading the results of that experiment later. :)


The gorgeousness that is Zingermans fresh goat cheese. It also comes in regular, Rosemary, and cracked black pepper. And I can tell you - the only one I haven't tried is the cracked black pepper, but if it's as good as the others? I'm so there! :)

Back to the front of the market, we found a biscotti booth. Gorgeous flavors, smelled so delicious. I settled down on the Mint Chip, and we went merrily on our way.

Honestly, I'm a little ambivalent about it. It wasn't knock me down fantastic - for as much mint as I had smelled, I kind of expected to taste more in it. It seemed just neutral. Of course, I suppose I'm being too tough on it. I mean, it's not like there's many ways to revolutionize the biscotti, you know? It's sort of is what it is. The both did by far and away have the most diverse range of flavors I've ever seen!


The biscotti. You can see the chocolate running through it. I've only tried to make biscotti once, but it did not look like that!

Nearly to the door, we found something fantastic - a snow cone booth! Oh, come on - it's not high food culture, but who isn't excited by a snow cone?! I'm waiting for my order, and I'm all kinds of excited, because I haven't had a snow cone in years, and James has never had one. And the lady is kind of getting excited, because she sees how excited I am, and I'm like "James! Check it out! A snow cone!"

And he's looking at this cup, and I'm sure thinking "Check it out! My moms finally gone crazy!"

But we pay our dollar, thank the lady, and wheel around the corner to enjoy our treat.

The syrups she used were actually nicer then I remember a snow cone being - it wasn't "Make my teeth hurt" sweet, but it tasted like candy, just the same.

I don't have any pictures of the snow cone, but suffice it to say...

Photobucket was delicious!