Monday, July 20, 2009

Brunch, pub style

We've been surprisingly lax with our brunch outings in the past few months- with visitors, making breakfast, or just being out of town, there have been serious breaks without our weekly outing! However, this week we planned ahead and FINALLY made it to Shakespeare's Pub and Grille at 3701 India Street, at the bottom of the hill on Washington where India dead ends. We had stopped by for drinks once with some friends previously, and the food looked incredible. It looked better than the food I had while IN England! They offer first-class authentic fare at reasonable prices, and their spirit selection is exactly what you would hope for in an authentic English pub. The restaurant layout is eccentric, twisted, and totally perfect. Outdoor seating for brunch, indoor seating for soccer hooligans, and a cramped, dark bar perfect for a pint. Since it was a perfect San Diego morning, we took advantage of the near-empty patio overlooking the airport and watched the planes go by while awaiting what promised to be a gut-sagging brunch experience.

My bloody mary was perfect. Their "secret spicy" mix was a delight, and for $5 it was large, cool, refreshing, and the perfect companion to my Full English Breakfast. Their brunch menu is basically 3 options, so don't go if you aren't in the mood for either a Full English Breakfast, Omlette, or Small English Breakfast. They also have a few side options, but as far as the English Breakfast goes I can't imagine a better one in San Diego. It comes with 2 eggs your choice, English bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, potato pancakes, button mushrooms, and a generous portion of baked beans with a few tomato slices as garnishes. HB Sauce topped everything off nicely, and everything was bland enough to be authentic, but tasty enough to gobble down and enjoy heartily. I am anxious to go back and enjoy some of the dinner dishes available! Fish n' Chips, Shepherd's Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie, Bangers n' Mash, Scotch Eggs... prepare to be stuffed, jolly, and full of Guinness!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vegan Cobbler

Ok, I have a confession to make. I promised several vegan friends that not only would I try my hand at baking, I would take it a step further and have my first sweet attempt be a vegan one.

It didn't end up that way.

I caught the baking bug today, and untimingly found myself a lone carnivore! All of my friends are in Boston for our wonderful friends wedding, taking their animal rights and appetites with them. With no reason to spend extra money on non-dairy goods like butter and milk (really the only two things) I totally cheated and used my cruel ingredients. However, I did take the recipe from the following cookbook:

This book is chock-full of great, all natural goodies, many of which I plan on actually trying my hand at when I once again find myself surrounded by animal loving hungry friends. I used the "Blueberry Cobbler" recipe and altered it into a "Peach/Blueberry Cobbler"- inspired by Brittany and in honor of my mom, whose peach cobbler is f*!@ing out of this world. Ashton lent me a hand in the kitchen as I rolled up my sleeves and banged out what proved to be a damn good dish.

Ingredients- Cobbler Biscuit Dough (all of this is unbleached, natural, dairy-free in the book- I used what I had on hand plus some fresh peaches and blueberries, so I'll skip the description. Get what you want. I'm sure Splenda would work just fine in lieu of sugar, etc.)
1 1/3 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar (divided)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 to 2 tbsp milk OR 1 to 2 tbsp butter to brush on top of dough

Ingredients- Filling
4 to 5 cups blueberries (or whatever fruit you wish- I used 2 pints blueberries and 4 medium to large fresh peaches sliced)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp grated lemon or lime zest- optional (I squirted some lemon juice in there, but I'm sure lemon zest would have been better. C'est la vie)

Preheat the oven to 375. I used a 2" deep baking pan around 9" square and sprayed with nonstick spray. For the dough, mix the flour 2 tbsp of sugar, baking powder, and salt in a deep bowl. When mixed thoroughly, add the butter and milk and stir until it forms a sticky dough. Put it aside and get to the filling!

Wash and dry the fruit, slice it if necessary, and in another large bowl combine them with the sugar, flour, and lemon zest (if using). Spread evenly in the baking dish and cover with the dough. The recipe says to use the tablespoon to spread it, but it is extraordinarily sticky and I ended up just reaching in and stretching small amounts across with my fingers. It worked well, IMHO. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining 1 or 2 tbsp of milk or butter (I opted for butter, duh) and sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp sugar. Here's what it looked like before baking:

Bake until top is golden brown and juices are slightly thickened, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving- with ice cream! I couldn't help but take an action shot because it smelled SO GOOD:

And the final dish!

The blueberry dripping sides were so hot and gooey that it looked like giant soda bubbles blasting to the top. It was awesome!

Wish you were here?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Black Sheep

Awesome weekend 2K9! I could go into all of the amazing details of this incredible weekend, but I'll save that for another blog. Brunch, however, only increased the awesome of the weekend when a crowd of some of my favorite people descended upon The Black Sheep in Richmond, Virginia. I've been here a few times before, and it has NEVER disappointed. We called ahead to make sure this lil' place could handle a party of 9 (Myself, Andy, Annie, Flza, Beth DD, Mike D, Lil Joe, Amy McFadden, and Dave Witte) and only had to wait in the rain for about 10 minutes. We took up a large portion of the corner, but they seemed to have the rhythm of the place down and we snuggled in very comfortably. Most of us were pretty severely hungover, so their Community Coffee from New Orleans hit the spot in a BIG way. Andy, being my partner in culinary crime, recommended the Grillades and Grits (pork cutlets pounded thin and simmered in a rich gravy, served over creamy yellow cheese grits with buttered toast), so after contemplating between the rest of the incredible menu, I went for it. It was fantastic. My only qualm was I had to cut the port cutlets with great care since they covered the plate and the gravy seemed to have maximum splashing potential. However, the grits were cheesy and unbelievable- the perfect addition to my stomach. I got 2 over medium eggs on the side as well, and with the toast and pork it was a delectable delight to start my day.

Andy got the Barn and Bay Breakfast Sandwich (Scrambled eggs mixed with crabmeat, country ham, green onions, and swiss cheese on buttered and grilled texas toast) which I have had and moaned over every dripping-with-perfection bite. He also got the cool skull mug and everyone was jealous.

Annie and I look a little haggard from the rain + boozin from the previous night, but their coffee perked us right up!

Annie decided on the Black Sheep French Toast, which looked/smelled/tasted INCREDIBLE. Chocolate hazelnut spread sandwiched between two slices of french bread, battered, griddled, and then served with a warm orange syrup. There's also an option to add vanilla ice cream for $1 or sliced banana also for $1. Dessert for breakfast, yes please!

This was MY meal, and even though bacon is my pig-of-choice in the morning, there was nothing depressing about putting this in my mouth.

Lil' Joe got the Huevos Nuevos, and I have to admit that the ones at Kuba Kuba look a little better to me. Black Sheep has definitely got the handle on Southern cooking, but I'd leave the international flair to the Cubans. Still, I can't imagine anything but delicious from this dish. Two eggs served over black beans and creamy yellow cheese grits with queso blanco, mole verde, pineapple salsa fresca and jalapeno sour cream, served with buttered toast and an option for guacamole for $2.

All in all, I can't recommend this place highly enough. The fact that they've barely been around a year and have already established themselves as a serious contender in the Richmond restaurant scene is no small feat. I have a feeling this little nook is in for some great things.