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cocktail themed dinner for a crowd: car camping

LOVE these ideas! Keep 'em coming: the more to pass along to the cook crew the better (and veg substitutes by rice and veggies are fine)!

Aug 27, 2012
catdoc2 in Home Cooking

cocktail themed dinner for a crowd: car camping

Here's a challenge for you: we're doing a group, multi-day bike trip with a truck for SAG support. The theme for each night's dinner is a cocktail. You then match the dinner to the cocktail.

We are a group of 10, fairly healthy eating, fairly adventurous, but with one dedicated vegetarian and two flexitarians (prefer veg, but will eat fish or really hedonistic meat).

Charcoal grill will be available.

Minimal dishes, with max prep beforehand preferred.

We are the first night, so perishable is not horrible (will have a 7 hour drive after leaving home/prior to arriving at campsite).

Current selections other cook crews have done:
Gin and tonic with curry
Sazeracs with Cajun
Beanacopia with margs (not sure on the connection there ;-) )

of course, we could do margs and taco/burrito/fajita bar but don't want to take that from some of the less adventurous groups. Trying to go out on a limb here. Any ideas (and if the connection between the cocktail and meal is not obvious, as long as it is clever, we can make a game of naming the connection as well)...

I've thought of tapas and sangria (but I'll admit, I hate sangria, any sangria, even though I love wines). Anything Italian and wine (I know, I know, weak). Asian spring rolls with a ginger type drink.

Bring on the ideas!

Aug 27, 2012
catdoc2 in Home Cooking

Jointed kitchen faucets

Thanks guys. Just want to clarify: this won't be a pot filler above stove: just our kitchen (and only) faucet. My thought was that with the jointed, we could reach into corners, tuck it out of the way better than a single "pipe" that was wall mounted.
The faucet I'm looking at is a Chicago Faucet for industrial use and we have them at work: they're pretty darn durable and with readily available parts for repairs, so that part I'm not too worried about. However, the reference to the "pot filler" faucet is what has me worried: just want to make sure they're not popular because they look like those and are fashionable, but that those joints do actually improve function. Because I'm not willing to clean extra crevices just for looks :-).

Jul 03, 2012
catdoc2 in Cookware

Jointed kitchen faucets

Hi there, would love some advice. Tiny tiny kitchen so we're trying to maximize functionality. I've opted for the foot pedal operated kitchen faucet with a wall mounted spout (I'm a vet, I'm used to scrubbing with these. My husband is a bit more skeptical but we're hopefully installing it so that should we wish to revert to a standard faucet we can).

My two primary goals are functionality and easy to clean. Knowing that:

Question: does anyone have the jointed faucet spouts and do they help you? I'm going with wall mounted as we are, ahem, not the best housecleaners so I figure wiping off a flat surface is going to be easier than the deck mount. But the joints in the jointed faucets look like they'll collect dirt/grime vs. a single smooth spout. Willing to clean a bit more if that joint really helps you guys. If it's just for looks and ultimately doesn't give you much help in a home kitchen, then I'm going with just a single spout...

Jul 03, 2012
catdoc2 in Cookware

Non-Chain Recommendations in Champaign-Urbana, IL

Thanks so much for the heads up. Going back in january and will try the bistro as well as cafe luna. I'll be alone this time: opinions on solo bar dining for the two? (Or radio maria?)
Glad to hear I'm not the only veg head who orders off menu, not sure if back of the house likes it (chance to go nuts and be creative) vs. hate it (busy dinner service and you're asking me to come up with a new dish??)....
FWIW, I've never complained abput an off the menu dish, I know I'm taking a chance!

Dec 29, 2011
catdoc2 in Great Lakes

Non-Chain Recommendations in Champaign-Urbana, IL

Just a heads up on Bacaro. I lived in Champaign-Urbana during grad school and recently returned for 2 weeks. Was looking for clean, good food with an excellent upscale atmosphere. Money not a huge concern. Chose Bacaro over Cafe Luna and Radio Maria as I thought it seemed a bit more upscale.

Atmosphere: good: great vibe

Service: we sat at the bar, our bartender was adequate. Moderately knowledgeable (didn't know what was in a Sazerac, but eeked out an Old Fashioned with real Luxardo cherries with some help, though she added seltzer, my pet peeve!)

Food: where it fell down, big time. I'm vegetarian, I don't expect people to cater to me, but in a medium range gourmet restaurant (the prices and vibe seem to reflect that goal) I do expect more than a single vegetarian dish consisting of the standard pasta with a boring sauce. That's all they have. I asked the bartender for other suggestions, she said they could leave the meat out of any of the other pastas. Which basically leaves... pasta with a boring sauce based on the menu descriptions. I told the bartender the single veg item seemed really unappealing, so I asked if I could throw myself on the mercy of the chef (assumed it was a chef) and let him make me whatever he wanted and I'd deal with the consequences, as long as it didn't have meat. My dining partner ordered grouper I believe. In my experience, good restaurants can handle that, and the meal that comes out is often superb, even if not to my liking (hey, if it comes out covered in peppercorns and I hate peppercorns, that's my fault for ordering off menu).

Want to know what came out? the boring single vegetarian pasta dish on the menu. And guess what? It was boring and bland. Want to know the worst of it? My dining partner tried my dish and pronounced it better than his but boring and bland...

So very disappointing.

Service:3 1/2 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Food: 1 star (for the price, would be 3 if I'd been served the same dish at a more moderately priced family style restaurant)

Wine list (I'm a cocktail gal, but my dining part is an oenophile and pronounced the wine list surprisingly good.

Maybe I had a bad experience, but 0 for 2 on dishes is so very disappointing. And please note, while our bill was $100+, both of us would have been very happy paying that IF it had been the experience we hoped for based on menu and atmosphere. It was the size of the bill we were expecting, but the food was not what we were expecting.

113 North Walnut, Champaign, IL 61820

Dec 23, 2011
catdoc2 in Great Lakes

A weekend in Cleveland

For those out of towners looking for dining in Cleveland. I recently spent 6 weeks there, ashamedly, until the last weekend, all in Beachwood/Eastern suburbs. For others like me, do yourself a favor: GO DOWNTOWN, at least a couple of times. A qualification: I'm vegetarian (ovo/lacto) so that does impact my experiences. I'm not repulsed by meat, so if it's on the menu, that doesn't skew me (I ate more than once at Fleming's in Woodmere).
I went with my husband on a Thursday night to Crop, did the Tour de Crop/Chef's Table combined. My husband is not veg, I am, and they completely accomodated (though we were prepared to both do veg, it's what's on their website: whole table has to be the same).

Let's just say, WOW. Clearly, if you're going to Crop you're looking for clean and fresh, not classic heavy French cooking, and that's what you're going to get. At some point, I'll list the courses, but we were duly impressed. In my opinion, there were a couple misses mixed into the many courses, but they were misses that involved experimentation, and they weren't horrible, more just a B+ instead of an A+. My husband's opinion: there were no misses, he can't stop raving.
The cocktails were great, really. I'm not a frou frou cocktail gal: more classics. But I went with some of their "specialties" and wasn't disappointed.

The food: fresh, clean, and smaller portions so we could actually enjoy the creativity. Waiter service was actually "meh" but not sure if that's because most of our food came directly from the kitchen so we really didn't interact with him much, save for ordering drinks.

We went to Momocho the following night (more on that on another post, but all 4 of us were terribly disappointed) and though we had planned to go to another restaurant Saturday night, after raving to our friends who had flown in for the weekend, they insisted we take them to Crop. Didn't do the Tour de Crop that night, but did do the Chef's table and everyone loved it. One in our group travels extensively for work (with an accompanying padded expense account) and he went away grinning from ear to ear, compared to his normal griping about 2/3 of the restaurants he visits...

Sorry, a little discombobulated, but from an out of towner who loves food and isn't afraid to spend money to get it, go to Crop when you are in town. Avoid Momocho, Moxie is pretty good for the suburbs and sadly, aside from that, my time in Cleveland was completely wasted as far as sampling some of the great restaurants this town has to offer (we were very very pleasantly surprised!).

PS don't mean to imply Crop HAS to be expensive (the cocktails killed our bill, but we knew it would!). Thursday night's bill, including tip, was ~$245 for two (but we each had at least 2 cocktails and I think we actually had 3 each) and Saturday's bill, for four, including 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, 3 desserts, after dinner coffee, cocktails (think we limited ourselves to two each), and an after dinner bottle of Proseco was just $280 or so including tax and tip. We were splurging and really, ~$70/person for the amount and quality of food and drink we had is a bargain to me!

1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

Crop Bistro & Bar
1400 W. 6th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

Aug 31, 2010
catdoc2 in Great Lakes

Vegetarian Chicago

I know this is a five year old post, but since i found it...
Charlie Trotter's. Totally upscale but good food done well. I was disturbed by the Green Zebra owners. While certainly Charlie Trotter's does meat too, it's been at the center of good local food and being kind to te planet. Plus it was the first high end amazing veg meal I had. Good ones since I've gotten the guts in high end restaurants to say "I'm vegetarian and there is nothing on your menu, would your chef make whatever he thinks would be best tonight?" but Charlie Trotter's was the first!

Charlie Trotter's
816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

Green Zebra
1460 W Chicago, Chicago, IL 60622

Apr 23, 2010
catdoc2 in Chicago Area

best immersion blender?

Really? When we were looking at IB's I emailed KA customer support for that reason. I was told by customer support they were the same immersion blender, just the accessories were different. Had no need for the accessories so got the KHB100. It was great while it lasted, felt heavy duty, but died after 1.2 years of moderate use. Maybe we will get the 300 if truly more heavy duty. That being said, the warranty is only 1 year, which makes me nervous...

Apr 23, 2010
catdoc2 in Cookware

Which hand held immersion blender should i buy?

We bought the KitchenAid based on the Cook's Illustrated review. We loved it. Used it mainly for soups and hummus. We don't have many kitchen gadgets in a 500 sq ft house and this became indispensible. However, on a batch of hummus today it just died. So very disappointed: 1.2 years of use, and mild use at that, no ice, spices, etc. Just veggie soups and hummus. Shocking compared to our mixer. Loved it while it worked but believe in non-disposable appliances: will look into replacing it with the Bamix. Rest in peace KA immersion blender!

Apr 23, 2010
catdoc2 in Cookware