Tofu Noodle Soup
January 29, 2013 § 3 Comments
I’m a fan of tofu. Not a crazy fan, but a fan nonetheless. And I’m not sure how it happened. Omitting red meat and poultry from my diet accounts for some of my fandom, I guess. Quite honestly, I am just going to let me fondness of tofu exist for what it is. Why bother explaining, right?
The best tofu I ever had was in a take-out dish from a Chinese restaurant in Ithaca, New York, about 18 years ago. The name, the flavorings, the accompaniments all escape me now. The one piece of the dish that remains in my memory is the tofu. Crispy on the outside. Soft on the inside. The closest thing to a McDonald’s french fry this side of the Golden Arches. I want that. I crave that even.
In the absence of that crispy tofu dish, I’ll take this tofu noodle soup. Soy sauce is in there, but it’s not too salty. And the hoisin gives it that … umami. There, I said it. Umami, that fifth and most flavorable of the basic tastes. A bowl of this broth will satisfy me for lunch. The tofu and noodles make it a real deal meal.
I’ve adapted this recipe – and I keep adapting each rendition of it – from a VegNews Magazine newsletter. I found that the original recipe had too little broth and way too many noodles. A halving of this and a doubling of that with on-the-fly adjustments takes care of that problem.
1 thinly sliced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs grated fresh ginger (about an inch or less)
4 tbs hoisin sauce
4 tbs soy sauce
9 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 15-oz. package extra-firm tofu, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 8-oz. package rice noodles, cooked and drained
4 tbs rice vinegar
4 tsp Asian hot sauce
Scallions, bean sprouts and cilantro to sprinkle, if desired
- In a large pot, saute the onion in about 1 tbs of oil over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another 30 seconds or so.
- Stir in hoisin, soy and broth. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir in tofu, noodles, vinegar and hot sauce. Now, here’s an embarrassing thing: I have JUST NOW realized the recipe calls for cooking the noodles FIRST, then adding them to the pot. This explains a lot. Well, adding them at the end is fine, too—just simmer them in the broth for about 5 minutes or so.
- Serve soup in bowls and sprinkle with scallions, sprouts and/or cilantro if you so choose.
Next time, I’ll boil up the noodles beforehand THEN add them to the soup and report back to you if there is a major difference. Meanwhile, enjoy!
Jennifer’s Ode to a Clam (Chowder)
April 1, 2012 § 5 Comments
What we have here is a guest post. My first guest – awesome! And it’s from none other than the best chef I know personally—my dear wife, Jennifer. She’s the real cook in the Dainty household. Who needs a recipe? Not her, not really. Today’s topic happens to be one of those recipe-less recipes that she just developed from experience. You eat enough chowder, you’re gonna know how to make it eventually.
So, without further ado, here’s Jennifer’s brilliant rendition of clam chowder.
Ode to a clam. Yes, I said clam. Many of you out there have an aversion to shellfish, which are easy to ruin in unskilled hands. Perish the thought. I know one former Eastern Long Island resident (editor’s note: That would be me) who had such an aversion, until she was able to experience what shellfish cooked well tastes like … manna from heaven. Well, actually the sea—the sweet, briny, bountiful sea.
Inspired by photos posted by dear friends who did some late-winter clamming, I suddenly remembered the quart-sized pouch of clams frozen in our freezer; harvested New Year’s weekend during an unseasonably warm morning outing in the flats of Provincetown Harbor. I had frozen the clams along with the liquor they produced, waiting for the right moment to make a chowder. Not your typical Monday night meal, and it only took moments to whip up!
-I thawed out 4 cups of clam broth and 2 cups of fish fumet
-Diced into 1 inch cubes 3 potatoes
-I cooked the potatoes in the clam liquor along with 2 bay leaves for seasoning. While the potatoes were cooking I sautéed up a mirepoix (fancy way of saying celery, carrot and onion).
-2 medium carrots
-2 celery stalks
-1 large onion
-Once the veggies were mostly soft I added 4 oz. of shitake mushrooms. I had them in the fridge, and thought, why not?!
-When the potatoes were done (15 minutes or so), I used an immersion blender to break down the potatoes, but not completely. I wanted to leave some chunks, but also give the illusion of some cream in the broth, so I let my starch be the cream substitute. To the pot I added my cooked veggies and the quart plus of clams, warmed the mixture through and wished I had some crusty bread to serve along with it.
Man, oh man that was good! Thank you P & J for inspiring me to bust out the bounty harvested a few months ago. Food-inspired memories!
Comments? Questions? Your favorite clam chowdah experience? Leave us a note below!
Brothy Asian-Inspired Soup
March 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Hearty soups … yes, I love them. And the ones I make are nearing the definition of stew. But every once in a while I will be in the mood for something light, breathy and brothy.
This Asian-Inspired Soup is a riff on something Mark Bittman published in March 2011. He gave three simple (very simple) recipe suggestions in each of four categories: creamy, brothy, earthy and hearty. The second and third recipes are slight twists on the first in each category. By the end of making the twelfth, he says, you’ll never need to follow another soup recipe.
With a package of firm tofu and some leftover chickpea broth (remember that from Pressure Cooker Basics?), I twisted Mark Bittman’s own Asian twist on brothy soups.
- 8 cups water, in this case chickpea broth and water
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions (about 3-4)
- 1 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
- 4 oz oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs sesame oil
-To a large pot add the water or broth, scallions, tofu, mushrooms, soy and sesame.
-Heat over a medium-high flame to just boiling, them bring to a quiet simmer, partly covered. Let simmer for … 15 minutes? 20 minutes? It’s up to you and how tender you like your oyster mushrooms. Check it at 15, then check the mushrooms every few minutes.
-Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a few chopped scallions. You might enjoy a crispy baguette to dunk.
Seriously, I tried to make this soup sound difficult/complex/sophisticated/finicky. But that’s just impossible. This soup is just way simple. And delicious.
Any Asian-inspired and simple soup suggestions or ingredient ideas? Leave a comment and let me know.
Hearty Soup: Potato & Kale
March 8, 2012 § 1 Comment
We’re nearing the end of Hearty Soup season. And I feel like it got short-shrifted this year. Bone-warming broths, stews and soups weren’t really needed so very much this winter. And it’s too bad—hearty soups are my favorite to make.
We were able to squeeze in a batch of Potato & Kale Soup earlier this week. Thank goodness, because a winter soup season shouldn’t go by without this cooking on the stovetop at least once.
Jennifer and I tag-teamed this recipe. I chopped and prepped late in the afternoon, then she came home and cooked, giving it her special touch while I lunged and downward-dogged and shavasana’d. The potatoes and kale really satisfied a hungry yogini.
Full disclosure here: Full credit goes to Jennifer, who got this recipe from a soups class she took back in the late ’90s. We’ve adjusted a bit here and there. But not spectacularly so.
Potato & Kale Soup
- 1+ tbs evoo
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin (we omitted, used extra onion)
- 6 cups water (we used 4-6 cups leftover chickpea broth – remember that from the chickpea stew and hummus?) PLUS 2 additional cups water/broth
- 4 medium potatoes, cut into medium-sized cubes (~4 cups)
- 2 tbs minced fresh parsley
- 3 carrots, trimmed but whole
- 3 celery stalks, trimmed but whole
- 2 bay leaves
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 lb kale (we used an entire bunch of kale as bundled by the local neighborhood grocery)
- sherry vinegar
-Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions (and leeks if you have them) and sautee until soft and translucent.
-Add potatoes, parsley, whole carrots, whole celery, bay leaves and 6 cups water or broth, and season with salt and pepper (several good pinches of salt/twists of the pepper grinder). Cover. Simmer on low to medium low for about 45 minutes.
-While the soup is simmering, wash the kale and remove the thick ribs. Tear the kale into a size that won’t annoy you – i.e. not too big. You’re going to steam/cook the kale in about a cup or two of water/broth in a high-sided skillet with a lid. Boil that water, add the kale, cover, and let it cook for not that long – 4-5 minutes. You want it tender but not melty-mushy. Drain out the water and set the kale aside.
-When the soup base has simmered 45 minutes, remove and RESERVE the carrots. And remove and DISCARD the celery. Puree by using a light touch with an immersion blender—you want part of it pureed but you still want some chunks of potato in there. OR, just puree half of the soup in a food processor and return it to the soup pot.
-Stir in kale. Chop the reserved carrots, add them back in there, too. Heat until nice and hot. Give it a taste – add salt and pepper as necessary.
-Here’s the last bit that is Jennifer’s touch and it’s completely optional: Add a tad – let’s say a 1 tbs – of sherry vinegar. Not so optional, uh? That’s good stuff, that soup is.
A nice “creamy” soup—and absolutely no cream! And now that I think about it, it’s vegan. Bonus.
What’s your favorite hearty soup recipe? Drop in a comment and let us know.
Moroccan Chickpea Stew
March 1, 2012 § 9 Comments
If you don’t like cumin, step away. You’ve made up your mind about the spice, and no amount of my praising it will change the way your taste buds feel. So, I’ll see you another day, okay?
But you cumin fans, lean in a bit closer—I have something to tell you. This stew … it’s awesome. Awesome as in delicious. Really. Super. Delicious. And it’s all due to the cumin.
It being from Bon Appetit may explain why it’s so delectable. Theirs is a meaty version. I’m sure the addition of chicken thighs is nothing but fabulous. I didn’t have them on hand—plus I’m doing a no-meat kinda thing currently. Still, this rocks with out the cluck factor.
- 4 tbs olive oil, divided
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs—optional
- 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
- Kosher salt
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbs ground cumin—yes, that much
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained OR 1 lb. dry chickpeas cooked to firm
- 1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from a jar (I just roasted a whole large red pepper myself)
- 2 tbs (or more) fresh lemon juice
- country-style bread
- 3 tbs coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
-IF you’re going the chicken route, heat 2 tbs of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
-IF you’re not using chicken, heat 2 tbs of oil to medium low, add onion and garlic, and saute for 5-6 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add cumin, tomato paste and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.
-IF using chicken, add it back into the pot along with bay leaves and 4 cups water and dislodge any of the brown chicken bits that might be on the bottom of the pot.
-Just a quick note: I used dry chickpeas and cooked them in a pressure cooker with 9 cups water, kosher salt, a celery stalk, a carrot, 2 bay leaves and 3 whole garlic cloves for 28 minutes. When I drained the chickpeas, I reserved the liquid and used that in place of 4 cups water. Mmmmm … more flavor.
-Bring everything in the pot to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, with occasional stirring. IF using chicken, let it simmer until chicken is tender (20 minutes). Sans chicken, 10 minutes is enough to get the flavors to meld.
-Transfer chicken to a plate (if it’s in there). Add chickpeas to pot and bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Shred your chicken off the bone and add it in there. Otherwise, skip it. Add in the red peppers and stir in remaining 2 tbs of oil (but only if you want – you don’t need to).
-Don’t skip this part: Give it a taste. Good, right? Yummy power-packed cumin flavor. Okay, now add in 2 tbs of lemon juice (or about half a lemon). Let it simmer for a minute. Now give it another taste? Better, huh? Yup, that lemon is a major major plus here. Adjust seasonings with salt and maybe more lemon if you think it needs it.
-Serving: Bon Appetit says to cube crusty bread, put it in an individual bowl, and ladle the stew on top. DO NOT even attempt. All you get is soggy bread. Bleck. But DO enjoy a nice slice alongside, dipping it to your liking. Oh, and sprinkle some parsley on top, too.
Good, good stewy stuff. There’s no room for cumin haters here.
Homegrown Food Challenge—Days 6 & 7
October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
No, we did not whither away and die from lack of food after Day 5 of our Homegrown Food Challenge. We survived quite nicely, thank you very much. I’ve just not been … well … in the blogging mood, I guess. If you’re a blogger, you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down. Hey, it happens. I’m back on track now, though, no worries.
Day 6—it was all the way back last Saturday. I had promised we’d kick it up a bit with something for breakfast that was more interesting than yogurt. And we did—omelets! Not an omelet, per se, but more of a flat egg. That’s what my mom called them when I was growing up. It’s just two eggs, slightly beaten and NOTHING added to the eggs, as you would were you making omelets. Just a straight ol’ egg. We added in some local goat cheese and diced homegrown tomato right at the last second, folded and called it breakfast. A slice or two of toasted homemade bread made it a filling meal.
After, Jennifer took off for the weekend to attend to some business, leaving me to fend for myself. Lunch was … honestly, I can’t remember. Must have been the last of the grilled eggplant paninni … yum … By the way, that post was way popular. Way. Popular.
Dinner was when I got creative on Day 6. Earlier in the week I had cooked up some homegrown Vermont cranberry beans. Used the pressure cooker, actually, and the process yielded some terrific bean broth. Add some homegrown leeks, homegrown carrots, and a neighbor’s small bunch of homegrown celery, and it’s the beginning of soup! I added to that the leftover Vermont cranberry beans, some leftover homegrown/homemade tomato sauce, a fading homegrown zucchini and a couple of locally grown potatoes—along with salt, pepper, homegrown oregano and sage. Soup and bread for dinner—the end of a great gardening day.
Our weeklong Homegrown Food Challenge ended not with a big banquet ala Julie and Julia, but on a much more common, everyday note. Plans for going out with a bang—lasagna of homemade pasta, homegrown broccoli, eggplant and kale—faded with the afternoon. Instead we hunkered down, ate our soup and toasted our accomplishment with the last of the local beer.
Next year … I truly wonder what that will bring.
Spicy Tomato Soup
October 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
Normally, if you let produce sit around for awhile, bad things happen. Soft spots. Wilt. Mold. Eyes sprouting. Ooze. Fruit flies. Rot.
Okay, I’ll stop with the grossness.
But sometimes, if you let produce sit around, good things happen. Like what? Like ripeness, for one.
This time of year, you just never really know what’s gonna happen in the garden. And I speak specifically of the summer hangers on—the zucchini and yellow squash, the basil, the peppers, the tomatoes. Especially the tomatoes. Less sun, cooler weather means they take a way long time to ripen on the vine. And the frustrating part is a tomato could be green and happy one day, and then the next day it could be on the ground, fodder for the ants.
So, I pick them up and bring them home. Or I pick them when they’re just turning orangy. Or I pick one or two whenever I visit the garden, which is about twice a week this time of year.
What to do with green tomatoes? Orangy tomatoes? Let them sit on the counter—they’ll ripen. Kinda. Not a nice and juicy vine-ripening experience, but they’ll turn red. Ish.
With a mix of tomatoes in all stages of ripeness, I turn to a recipe from Emeril Lagasse I pulled off the Food Network website. The original calls for pancetta and three different types of hot peppers – jalapeno peppers and Anaheim and pasilla chiles. And, it calls for just green tomatoes.
Is it spicy? Oh yeah, it’s spicy. Feel free to add a dollop of sour cream to cool it down. Me? I like to add a spoonful of pesto. Tomatoes and basil – a perfect match.
Spicy Tomato Soup(this is a double batch)
1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
- 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 5-6 hot peppers, whatever type you want to cook with, diced (I used jalapeno and Hungarian wax)
- 3.5 lbs tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
-Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute onion until just translucent – 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
-Add garlic, bay leaves, garlic, and peppers and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock, then adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are soft.
-Time to puree!! But remove the bay leaves first!! You can puree in batches in a blender. Or, we have an immersion blender that does a terrific job. Sure, you’ll get a bunch of tomato skins getting kinda caught in the blendery parts. Just remove, or put back into the soup—whatever your preference. If you’ve pureed in batches in a blender, pour the soup into a separate bowl.
-Add the lemon juice. Give it a taste. Spicy? That’s what it’s supposed to be.
Try with a bit of sour cream. Or shaved parm. Or the runny part of your stash of pesto. Be sure you have some crusty bread. You’re gonna want to sop up that goodness.
You know, this would be a great soup to make for the Homegrown Food Challenge. Luke, give this a try—I know you love spicy stuff!
Pressure Cooking Black Beans
September 20, 2011 § 3 Comments
You’re going to think I’m a bit crazy, but I actually really like this two-thirds vegan kick I’m on. Now, let me clarify:
1a. Two-thirds vegan means two meals out of three meals each day are non-dairy, non-poultry, non-animal products. Not even a boiled egg on my lunchtime salad – and I love a good boiled egg, too.
1b. What about snacks, you ask? What am I gonna do, eat a meat stick? Almonds, an apple, hummus and chips if I feel the need.
2. I first mentioned the two-thirds vegan thing back in … was it March? April? Lest you think I’m Superwoman, I need to inform you that I haven’t been two-thirds vegan all the time. Vacations don’t count. Weekends away don’t count. And sometimes that boiled egg would find its way onto of my salad. And, last week … I had a whole mess o’ Old Bay-seasoned wings on my business trip to Baltimore. The only wings I’ll eat, and the only town I eat them in. There are rules about being two-thirds vegan, and I make them up as I go along.
3. And sometimes, you go away for the weekend and someone makes you a three-egg omelet. With mozzarella. And lobster. Just be sure there’s a veggie burger in your near future.
BUT! It’s a new season. And I have a renewed interest in sticking to the vegan thing. At least two-thirds of the time.
BUT! I need more protein. That’s what a recent doctor visit and blood test suggested. So, here come the beans, which are an
excellent source of protein and fiber awesomely tasty food. Rather than stocking up on cans upon cans of beans – they add salt and calcium chloride, which, by the way IS a salt! – we buy the dry. Oooo … I like the way that sounds, “buy the dry.” Plus, they are cheaper (I’m showing my frugal side).
Dry beans are NOT a pain in the ass to work with. It’s easy. If Dainty can do it, so can you. And you don’t have to wait around 24 hours while your beans soak, etc. etc. Invest in a pressure cooker and your beans will be done in 30 minutes, and that includes 5 minutes of prep time.
The recipe we use comes from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass. (Oooo … sassy.) Hey, meat lovers, there’s a roast chicken on the cover! That’ll assure you Lorna has added something for everyone inside. There are a bunch of bean recipes included – the one we use is for black beans with soft tortillas. We use just the first half of the recipe and add our own seasonings depending on what we’re using the beans for. Here, I’ll just go through the first process and produce a batch of pressure-cooked beans.
- 4-6 cups water (depending on how much bean broth you want)
- 1.5 cups dried black beans, pick over to remove icky ones, small pebbles, etc. and rinse
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 TBS oil (apparently it prevents or controls foaming)
- 1/2 tsp salt
-Combine everything in a 4 qt. pressure cooker.
-Lock the lid in place. If you’re like me, you’ll do it three or four times, making absolutely sure the lid is on and won’t fly off. Seriously though, when it’s locked, it’s locked. No hardhat needed.
-Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure over high heat. READ YOUR PRESSURE COOKER INSTRUCTIONS! It will tell you how you can tell when it has reached high pressure. For our Fagor pressure cooker, high pressure is indicated when two red lines are visible.
-When it has reached high pressure, turn down the heat to a temp that will maintain that high pressure. For ours and on our gas stove, that means at a point between “lo” and “2”.
-Let the beans bubble away in there for 25 minutes. Then turn off the heat. Let them sit there as is – don’t open the lid! – and let the pressure come down naturally. READ your cooker instructions to find out how you can tell on your device.
-When the pressure has come down, open the lid AWAY from you. You don’t want to get a face full of super-heated steam, right? Always always always be careful.
-The beans should be tender. If not, lock it up, stick ’em back on the heat and cook for another couple of minutes. Repeat the heat coming down and all that.
What you have now are several cups of firm yet tender beans in broth. If you used 6 cups of water, you are halfway on the path to making a black bean soup. If you used 4 cups of water, you have a bit less broth. Letting it sit, the beans and broth will thicken slightly but not much.
We use 4 cups of water, and after the beans are pressure cooked, we typically add a touch more salt, some pepper, several shakes of red pepper and a diced small tomato. We then serve it over a bowl of rice. We’ve added other things, as well – roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, for example.
If you have any suggestions for what to add in to the black beans, I’d love your suggestions. We need to keep up the variety. Please leave your comments below!
Potato Kale Soup
April 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
Dainty’s been back from California a week, but still hasn’t gotten in the groove. Catching up on work, volunteer meetings, dinners out, etc, have given me zero fodder for posting. And you’d think with a weekend just behind me, I’d have plenty to write about. I think maybe I made a batch of steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast—that’s about it. And a loaf of bread, but it was a workhorse kinda loaf—nothing spectacular.
I spent the weekend working on a homey project—painting the window well in the bedroom. Sure, I saved several hundreds of dollars doing it myself, but I sacrificed several million brain cells in the process (just say no to paint fumes). It’s a project that’s been on my list for about a year and I’m glad I got it done. And while I was scraping and painting, Jennifer was making a big batch of vegan soup to weekday lunches. And this is a good one.
Potato Kale Soup
- 1 tbs evoo
- 2 cups onions, chopped
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced thinly (chuck the dark green parts)
- 6 cups water
- 4 medium potatoes, cubed
- 2 tbs parsley, minced
- 3 carrots – whole
- 3 ribs celery – whole
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 lb. kale, washed, torn and ribs removed
-Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions and leeks until soft—abou 10-15 minutes.
-Add potatoes, parsley, whole carrots and leeks, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Boil, cover and simmer over medium low for 45 minutes.
-While that is simmering, cook kale in 2 cups boiling water in a skillet. Cover tightly and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
-After 45 minutes, remove carrot, celery and bay leaves from soup. Reserve the celery and carrots but chuck the bay leaves. Puree half the soup in a blender. OR, an immersion blender is awesome for this—just whirr up (who says that? Jamie Oliver?) half of it right in the pot. Stir in cooked kale. Chop up the carrots and celery and return to the pot. Heat the soup through again. Salt and pepper it if you need to.
Tada! A vegan alternative for lunch. Sounds like this could use some bread. I think I’ll do that right now.
Clover Food Lab
March 24, 2011 § 3 Comments
Guys, I’d love for today’s post to be more of a discussion. I don’t know much about Clover and I’d love for you to chime in.
I met friends at the Clover Food Lab in Harvard Square for lunch yesterday. Like I said, I don’t know much about it—except these two things:
- This particular brick-and-mortar location developed from a wheels-and-engine business. Am I right about that? Clover was originally a food truck, I take it, and there are a herd of them now in the Cambridge/Boston area.
- They serve all (or mainly?) vegetarian food.
Food trucks are on fire right now. And to see that a nomadic business can settle in and put down roots seems pretty cool. I mean, that’s how “civilization” started. (Hey, I used air quotes, and I’m not saying that today’s nomadic societies aren’t civilized.) I would have loved to try the Clover food truck experience first.
My friend Deb, on the other hand, had tried the food truck first. Raved about it. Loved the food. And when she saw that I’m eating “veganish” she suggested we meet up with friend Sonya to try out the steady digs.
What did we think? Here are my quick impressions as a first-timer, and an observation from Deb as a food truck customer:
The electronic “sandwich boards” as you walk in: Interesting technology there. It’s a vertical flat screen. Rather than erasing and re-writing a sign, they erase and rewrite something on their computer in the back (?) and reload or whatever. What’s the point? Not sure, except when you don’t need two “menus,” you can switch one of the screens to whatever it is you want. When we walked in both boards were menus. When we walked out, one was a menu, one was Clover’s website/blog.
I ordered the Chickpea Fritter – aka, falafel – in a pita. It came highly recommended by Deb. It was awesome. The slaw was tasty, as was whatever Mediterranean-esque sauce that was in it. The falafel was nicely done, still moist inside. There were a lot of things inside my pita I couldn’t quite pinpoint, but that was okay because I loved it all. Especially the pickle slices. BUT, folks, DO NOT put a falafel ball right on top of the stuffed pita. Mine did an “On Top of Old Smokey” thing and rolled onto the floor. Sad face.
Deb ordered the Egg & Eggplant pita. She loved that, too. Looked good. Can you get that without the egg? Next time.
We all ordered the Brothy Barley and Spinach Soup. Do you know what the word “brothy” brings to mind? Broth. A clear, flavorful liquid. No broth in this soup. If you want to be alliterative, try Burly Barley. Because it was a burly soup—any soup in which a spoon can stand straight up in (without assistance) is burly. As for taste … I’m a barley lover, and I did enjoy it. Add a touch of salt. My companions weren’t very fond of it. Oh, and where was that spinach? (Add more.)
Rosemary fries for the three of us. Yum. Dude, they were awesome.
I love that “city water” was on the menu and listed as $0.
Deb was a bit disappointed that the restaurant menu was the same as the food truck. I think she was expecting a few other choices.
If you’re going to serve pitas that are hefty and stuffed, maybe provide “holding docks” at each table—things like the U-shaped diner napkin holders. So, when you’re settling down into your seat, taking off your coat, etc., this thing can hold your pita without the food falling out (and rolling onto the floor). Just a thought.
The space needs a living wall either in the front windows above, or on that back wall. I know there’s those supports on the back wall and it looks like there’s grape ivy being training on them. Long, slow process. Clover may be looking into this—but, I do know a little something about living walls and know people in the biz. It doesn’t have to be complicated. AND, how cool would it be if they grew their own herbs and salad greens right there on location? It’s possible. Plus, as you may not know, plants “clean” the air, provide oxygen, and also help regulate temperature. Like I said, I know a little somethin’ somethin’ ’bout the topic.
Dainty Rates: 3 out of 5 Dots.