Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

All growds up

Labor Day weekend means our annual tradition of traveling to Houston to close out the summer by enjoying a couple of baseball games with my parents.  We started off the trip by touring the recently renovated Love Field airport.  Although we kind of miss the small-town, beer-stands-throughout-the-concourse feel of the old Love Field, the new digs are quite impressive.  It’s a whole new airport, with great restaurants, some shops and an open layout with tons of natural light.  We ♥ the new Love Field.

Ballpark dog

We also love hot dogs, especially ballpark hot dogs, and even better, hot dogs consumed during a game that the Houston Astros actually won!  It hasn’t been their best season this year, so it was great to celebrate a win during our special, end-of-summer weekend.

Avocado bomb

Speaking of special, the good folks at the Inn at the Ballpark once again went out of their way to make everything about our stay there as outstanding as possible.  One of the very best parts of our visit this year was taste-testing a potential new menu item at the Inn — the “avocado bomb.”  We were served several different iterations of a stuffed avocado, fried and garnished with sauce.  With each serving, they asked for our feedback and opinions — as if we were professionals or something — instead of just people who love to eat (and take pictures of their food.)   We were so honored (and well fed!) by wonderful people who we look forward to seeing every year, and without whom our summers would not be complete.

Night swimming

Speaking of summer, the tail end of it seems like a good time to finally get our pool light fixed, at least two years after it floated loose of its housing and was left just sitting on the side of our pool deck like a sad little kid who never learned how to swim.  Replacing it is one of those small changes that makes a big difference in a smack-to-the-forehead, why did we wait so long kind of way.

Waterbar mussels

While I slaved away supervising pool work at the homestead, Dan had a glamorous work trip to San Francisco that included an amazing dinner at Waterbar, from which he regaled me with photos of his tableside view of the Bay Bridge and the gorgeously delicious food he was enjoying.  But as much as I am I’m not jealous, I’m so proud of the amazing photo he took of his “roasted black mussels” appetizer — rope grown Prince Edward island mussels in a smoked tomato broth, with sorghum molasses glazed pork belly and Anson Mills grits.  Now we’re all jealous.


Salad Nicoise

Salad niçoise (pronounced “nee-swaz,” in my best, butchering attempt at a French accent) is one of those menu items that we tend to skip right over in search of something that sounds a bit more appealing on the plate.  The idea of lettuce, potatoes, green beans and tuna served together in the same salad always seemed more odd than appetizing, so we’ve never actually ordered salad niçoise in a restaurant  (plus, I like being able to pronounce what I’m about to eat, although I’m also a fan of the point-and-mumble style of advising the wait staff of my selection from the menu.  Whatever works.)  We decided to try salad niçoise at home because we’re always looking for new fish dishes to try and we found a relatively easy recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine, “Modern Classics.”  And cooking a new dish at home, then deciding you don’t really like it is preferable to trying (and paying for) something new at a restaurant and deciding you hate it.  Luckily, neither scenario occurred here.  We absolutely loved this salad and will add it to our regular rotation.  The combination of lettuce, potatoes, green beans and tuna wasn’t strange at all, especially with the addition of hard boiled eggs, Kalamata olives and a tomato-onion mixture.  The vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, shallot and fresh basil, thyme and oregano simultaneously brings out the best flavors from the different ingredients and ties them all together beautifully.  Salad niçoise is a dish that we will crave from now on, even if I still can’t reliably pronounce or spell it.

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