Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The weekend was full of food

Father's Day weekend here was a non-affair. As neither of us were able to travel to visit dad's, we took ourselves out for Father's Day brunch. We have a favorite coffee shop over on Court Street that makes quite excellent pancakes, with or without blueberries. It's called Cobble Hill Coffee Shop. That's kinda a no-brainer name, I know, but it suits it just fine.

The coffee shop decorates for the holidays and seasons. This past Sunday, they added blue banners hanging up on the walls proclaiming Happy Father's Day to all the dads who came in. The banners were up next to their spring "decor" of hanging paper/plastic flowers.

It's a real local joint. It's small and run, and I suspect owned, by two neighborhood guys named Frank and Nick. I have no idea which old guy is Frank and which is Nick, and I don't know their last names. The business card by the old fashioned, non-digital cash register simply has their first names. I think they are Greek as they and many of the older, life-time waiters have accents. Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens has been a traditionally Italian neighborhood, but I don't think these guys are Italian. The place is always busy and full of all kinds of people - oldsters, young families, singles at the counter, and everyone in between. So far, we've only been there for breakfast on the weekends. They have a machine that squeezes oranges for fresh squeezed oj, a tiny griddle area, hand written tickets, large menu, and freezing cold air conditioning.

It's not a fancy place by any means and it doesn't try to be something it's not. I like it because it's a real neighborhood coffee shop that makes good comfort food, has a friendly staff (they don't recognize us yet even though we have been there three Sundays in a row), and isn't too expensive. In fact, if you get there before 11AM, there are really good prices on breakfast specials which include coffee and a small juice. No mimosas here!

The man who greets customers I assume is Frank/Nick. We had to wait a few minutes for a table twice now, and he keeps track in his head who is next and how many people in the party. There is no room to wait inside, so everyone just stays outside on the sidewalk. Besides, Frank/Nick won't let you wait inside. He will bring out chairs so people can sit. People leave their expensive Bugaboo and Maclaren strollers outside, too. (Side note: you know how in LA BMWs and Mercedes are everywhere? Yeah, that's what Bugaboos and Maclarens are like in my neighborhood. I have yet to see another brand of stroller.) He pokes his head out to give updates on tables and to call people in to sit. It's a system that he's probably been doing for a long time.

So that's what we did Sunday morning. We left the diner and went straight to Trader Joe's because we've figured out that before noon on Sunday, it's actually pretty decent in there. The shelves are stocked and it's not busy yet with the check out line wrapping along the back of the store from dairy to produce. We did run into one snag - their meat case was out of order so there was no sausage, beef, or pork available. I asked the cashier what was going on and she said it wasn't keeping things cold at the proper temp so it was being fixed. The repair guys were there and we saw them doing repair guys things to the huge meat case. If you were looking for chicken you were in luck as that case is separate and was operating just fine.

After that, we did some produce shopping across the street at Pacific Green. Picked up fresh tarragon, apples for Steve, garlic, onions, strawberries, and Camembert for a recipe later this week.

Last week, I sat down with back issues of Bon Appetit and marked recipes that sound good but we haven't tried yet. This week's dinner menu is going to be entirely from Bon Appetit issues. Except for the grilled pizza night, which should be Friday. That pizza will be my own creation, but I am borrowing the excellent pizza dough recipe found in a previous issue of, you guessed it, Bon Appetit.

Monday night, I made a pasta with goat cheese, asparagus, tarragon, and lemon. It was so easy, light, tasty, and easily adaptable. If you make it, be sure to add salt and pepper because for some reason, this recipe doesn't include them. And it needs both salt and pepper.

Going back one more night to Sunday, I made Moroccan chicken which had ingredients of green olives, lemons, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, caramelized onions, and garlic. I used just chicken breasts instead of butchering a whole chicken. Quite good, especially the bites with the olives. I wrote on the recipe to add more olives next time.

Tonight, I think dinner will be steak sandwiches, salad, and pineapple. (The Camembert I got will go on these sandwiches.)

If you haven't seen Laura's, of Pinot and Prose, new blog for Edible Queens, be sure it check it out. She's writing a blog for EQ exclusively covering her experiences during culinary school at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE). She just started the program, so if you start reading the blog, you don't have to go back too far to get caught up.

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