Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Many Faces of a Rotisserie Chicken

I have a hard time resisting the rotisserie chickens at Ukrop's, Costco and Kroger whenever I smell them. On Tuesday I finally decided to give in and get one at Ellwood Thompson's, which made me feel better because I knew the name of the farm that the chicken came from. As a bonus, I was able to find some beautiful local and organic sugar snap peas there, which probably wouldn't have been in the regular grocery store.

Tuesday's meal ended up being shredded chicken (leg and breast meat) incorporated into a stir fry with soy sauce, garlic, leftover rice, and the crunchy peas. I tried some of the chicken meat by itself, and it was tender and flavorful, but still blended well with the rest of the dish.

On Wednesday, I reheated the succulent chicken in the oven and feasted on the wings and breast with broccoli and baked potatoes. It was still tasty, and didn't have that weird leftover poultry taste that many turkeys and chickens acquire after sitting in the fridge.

A first time trip to Helen's, dinner at the Greek Fest, and a cookout prevented me from making Gourmet's Chicken and Swiss Chard Enchilada Casserole until Sunday evening. I knew that with two thighs and a drumstick left, neither Davy nor I would be too excited about the chicken unless it was converted with other ingredients. We took the meat off the bones and shredded it in preparation for the casserole assembly.

There were a couple of modifications from the recipe: I bought a can of enchilada sauce from the grocery store because I didn't feel like taking the extra steps to make my own. Instead of corn tortillas, we used flour tortillas, which were already in the fridge. They were fairly large, so we only needed six, and we toasted them without oil in a 12" pan on the stove over medium heat.

I was pleased with the way the casserole turned out; the dark meat was rich enough to stand up to the tomato sauce and earthy flavor of the swiss chard. All that was left of the chicken - mostly just the bones - went into a big pot with some onion to be simmered for stock. It is now the following Tuesday and I am planning on straining the stock and pouring it into containers to freeze tonight. It is nice to know that I used the entire chicken...not bad for $9.99 and a week's work!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Favorite

I wish I could walk to the Black Sheep to avoid the confusing side streets, but good food in a laid back atmosphere can forgive just about any driving difficulties.

The relaxed and welcoming demeanor of the servers is also reflected in the restaurant's decor and menu. Two waitresses frequently refilled water glasses and chatted with our table about our meal choices. Most of the desserts were displayed in a glass case, and the servers referenced our options with a gesture, keeping everyone at ease while we made our decisions.

Items on the menu have a similar feel: comfortable yet creative and sophisticated enough to make you want eat them somewhere besides your own home. Breakfast is generously served until 2:00 PM, and the lunch menu, with it's wide array of sandwiches, is served through the evening.

Although I don't particularly like deviled eggs, I did appreciate their presence as an option for a side dish. I was fortunate to taste the chicken and dumplings, which was a large, satisfying meal, and the dirty rice, which had unique flavors and an appealing texture. One bite of orzo salad was enough to make me wonder if my broccoli salad with sesame oil vinaigrette was really the most refreshing side on the menu.

An elaborate veggie sub served cold, one of the options under "The War of Northern Ingestion" heading, caught my eye, but I'm going to wait to try it when summer really gets underway in a few weeks. I also had a hard time ignoring the "Black Sheep French Toast," which is filled with chocolate hazelnut spread, but eventually I settled on the "Prodigal Son" - smoked turkey mixed with barbeque sauce and apple slaw on a toasted roll. Tangy and crunchy, the sandwich was hearty but left just enough room for dessert.

Just as the menu promised, the Peanut Butter Pie was "sweet, light and fluffy with a fudgy bottom layer." The "White Russian Brownie" with ice cream also delivered; our waitress divulged that the secret was doubling the amount of liquor called for in the recipe. Next time I'm really hoping to try the creme de menthe brownie and the banana pudding, which is rumored to taste like tiramisu.

Location is the only quality that could lend itself to The Black Sheep's name. Positioned on a corner a block north of Broad Street in the midst of several one way streets, finding the place and a spot for your car are the most difficult parts of the experience. The food is worth every wrong turn and parallel parking effort.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Breakfast at the Beach

It's hard to feel comfortable staying in someone else's home, especially when your hosts aren't friends or family. In my opinion, that slight weirdness is the only drawback to staying at a bed & breakfast, though it is possible to overcome.

The innkeepers at Savannah Beach Inn in Tybee Island, GA made every effort to make guests feel welcome and at home. Their southern hospitality exceeded any expectations I've ever had about bed & breakfasts. A fridge full of (complimentary) sodas and water bottles was available for everyone to take advantage of. Around three in the afternoon there was a "wine and cheese hour," which included red, white and rose wine, crackers, snack mix, and various cheeses.

I'm guessing that the wine stayed out for the duration of the afternoon, because it was still there before we went to dinner and remained on the bar in the kitchen when the nighttime innkeeper set out several plates of freshly baked cookies. Warm M&M oatmeal cookies will always make me feel more comfortable, no matter where I am.

The highlight of the stay at Savannah Beach Inn was, of course, the breakfast. We had a choice of strawberry pancakes or eggs benedict with either crabcakes or country ham. A fresh fruit salad with creme di cassis (black currant liqueur), juice, coffee and tea were available to everyone, although the pancakes were so filling that I'm surprised I was able to consume anything else. Strawberry syrup, made right in front of me, along with fresh strawberries garnished my meal. The crabcake eggs benedict was equally as indulgent.

By check out, I was completely acclimated to the bed and breafkast, and would have gladly pretended to live there for the rest of the weekend.