Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not quite resolved

Didn't settle on any resolutions for the new year. More frequent posting might be something worth aspiring to, but I don't see it happening.

Food front...I could start with Restaurant Week highlights, but it's almost like meals at home have trumped eating out at this point. I owe some of the recent home cooked magic to a grill pan we got from one of SVR's friends this holiday season. Shit's da bomb! It has yielded great poultry...a seared duck breast (my first go at duck) that hit the spot, chicken breast for a simple sandwich with Alex's famous easy aioli and some thick tomato slices, and another chicken breast marinated in a southwestern mix (rich with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, etc.) from The New Best Recipe cookbook. Also a present from friends, that book is an awesome go to reference for technique and prep methods. Can't say the recipes are all that cutting edge or adventurous, but the searing, steaming, braising, baking, etc. methodologies pretty much always yield near perfect results. Screw going out for scallops or shrimp anymore. Cook 'em per The New Best Recipe and it'll seem silly to pay top dollar for those goods out on the town.

I shouldn't ignore our one RW meal this week. Nage was full-on solid. For the RW price, $30.07, I was very happy. I noticed that their standard prices hover around $26 for mains. At that price point, I think I'd opt for something else.

Had a mushroom and cheese tart sorta thing to start. The bulky part of the dish (the tart) was a little puny. Good flavors, but simply not enough quantity. It sat in a truffle infused sauce/soup. Servers were good to bring spoons for that dish, as the sauce was very rich with truffle essence/oil. I would've hated not being able to scoop all the liquid. What an incredible flavor. Haven't had satisfying truffle flavor since minibar, when I barely ate truffle. The trick they pull there is spraying the oil on a napkin and expecting you to smell the napkin as you eat some beef (tenderloin?). Sense of smell and taste collided for some very cool sensations and flavors. I know it sounds schticky, but it really worked. Anyhow, tasting the truffle at Nage took me back!

My main was braised shortrib. This item is so popular right now and I've had the entire range of great to pretty crappy. This version fell smack in the middle. I find that an order of shortribs often yields a lot of bone and little meat. I think kitchens suffer from their preparations that leave the meat falling off the bone. Half the time, I think the shortrib meat must end up in the bottom of a stock pot or third pan and I end up with the inedible bone. Nage didn't serve a plate of bones, but their version was not as fatty or juicy as I've had before. Shortrib is a decadent dish (and a cheap cut of meat for those restaurants!!) and I expect a certain richness that Nage's lacked. The bed of polenta with cherries was creamy and just the right amount of tart and sweet. Nice work.

Dessert was a good enough fruit crumble sorta thing. The twist was in the ice cream. They served a blue cheese ice cream that I thought was a nice complement. I think the non-ice cream flavor flavor thing is a fad that's falling out of favor, but sometimes the flavors can work. I'd rate this creation a solid 7.

I think the group collaborated well to choose wines. A bottle of red and a bottle of white meant everyone could pair as they needed. Gals had fish and the white was probably right for them. Anyhow, I'd certainly recommend Nage, but for a non-RW night, the tab might be too high for my liking.

Tonight we're off to 21P with James and Ruth. Menu looks complete, but the only RW review I read was not complimentary. We'll hope for better.

On the cycling front, it's winter. I took plenty of time away from the bike after Nats. I don't think I was invested in my rest, as I was always kinda beating myself up for not riding after getting back from San Francisco. Anyhow...I've done a few trainer sessions lately and am trying to get out each weekend day.

Today I hit the road with Eric for some early, wet miles. Ninny that I am, I wasn't willing to ride the bike with all the moving parts. It's probably most idiotic to ride the fixie in wet conditions, but that's how I do it. Wet roads mean the geared bikes stay under cover. Anyhow, we were out for about 2:15 and it felt just right. I probably spent a little too much time at LT instead of at tempo, but what can you do, right? TBT, I found it quite easy to peg an HR range and stick to it on the fixie. I'm pretty steady on that thing and less inclined (or able???) to react to terrain changes. When the road turns upward (slightly), I pretty much slow down and slow cadence and hold the HR steady. I don't attack the way I might on the geared machines. Anyhow...I was glad to get out with Eric. We chatted the whole time and caught up on the past few months. The roads were wet the whole time. Now the sun is more or less out and the roads look dry as a bone. No matter.

That's all I've got for now. I've neglected a few important topics (Nationals, the trip out west, and NYE), but I can only manage so much this sitting.

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