An Old Favorite

Hi readers! I’ve been busy writing for the dining guide of The Beach Reporter, my local newspaper and I want to share with you my newest article. I’ve been to this classic Italian restaurant about a million times since I was little, so I was excited to get this assignment and explore my past a bit at Mama D’s. Below is a link to the article… enjoy!

http://tbrnews.com/entertainment/mama-d-s-italian-cooking-a-yelp-local-favorite/article_a11624cc-3e2c-11e6-b291-f75e2936a749.html

 

Day One: My First Impression of Nashville

The Listening Room

The Listening Room

My family has never really explored the southern part of our country, and I guess my parents made a decision that now was the time. So this summer, we’re taking a road trip of 4 states: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

We left town on Dad’s birthday, a bright sunny day that reminded me of our trip to Maine last summer. Personally, I had my doubts that this vacation would be anywhere near as fun… Of course, I was looking forward to authentic Southern food, a Christmas hotel, pools, and cute towns.  But it didn’t sound like the relaxing vacation that Maine and St. John were, or the curious trips like New Orleans and Boston.

It sounded like a whole lot of driving.

* * * * * * * *

After a smooth three and a half hour flight, we got to Nashville at around 5pm.  We checked into our hotel, the Renaissance, and after taking a short rest, we headed down a few blocks to The Listening Room…and this is where the real fun kicks in and I know that I’m in Nashville.

I walked on the red and gray streets of Music City, and from every door came the sound of guitars and voices.  While every singer-songwriter venue may not be as well-known as The Listening Room, they each exhibited such talent and a fun night out!  It all felt like magic to walk the streets of Nashville and to hear a musician performing in front of a crowd.

An Artsy Duo

An Artsy Duo

The Listening Room’s atmosphere kept me smiling, with someone on the guitar and mic at every moment, great service, and a casual, positive vibe.  The artists’ songs were about everything from high school love to positivity to grudges between women.  It was very creative and a new experience for me because of how close I was to the performers.  In all, it had a nice, relaxed feel to it and I enjoyed every second of my time there.

A Satisfying Steak

A Satisfying Steak

 

For dinner, I ordered a pork steak with a house-made bourbon barbeque sauce.  It was really well cooked and had a pleasing texture.  The smoked pork ribs that my dad ordered clung to the bone a bit, but had a great flavor (almost a mix of sweet and spicy).  I was satisfied with dinner, but dessert upstaged it.

We ordered a slice of pecan pie with caramel sauce and whipped cream.  While it couldn’t help but make me feel stuffed, I couldn’t stop myself from practically shoving it in my mouth.  A thick caramel sauce was drizzled over the top of the pie and a sliced strawberry topped it off.  It was gooey and sweet and just pure perfection.

My mom told me something I hadn’t known before.  Pecan pie had been my grandpa’s favorite.  My papa passed away when I was eight and although I loved him very much, I never knew him well and it meant a lot to me to discover something that we had in common. I thought about him the whole way home, and a memory of him as strong as the smell of his old sweatshirt came back for the first time in a while.

We walked back to our hotel in the dark, but the streets of Nashville were hardly deserted.  Music still played at every corner, and I smiled the whole way home thinking of the adventures that would come tomorrow.  Maybe this trip will be better than I expected.

Busy!!!!!!!!!!

I am soooooo sorry that I don’t have the time to post much this year. But you can be sure I’ll be posting like CRAZY this summer!

Friday Night!

Guess what?  We just found out that my Disney Channel “TTI” is going to be on TV at 7:25 p.m. (Eastern Time and Pacific Time) on Friday, October 14!  Please watch, and I would love to hear your comments!

Life in the Caribbean, Day 9: There’s No Place Like Home

There’s not much I can say about today.  We boarded our flight at 12:00 p.m., and from then on, our day was pretty boring.  Tabs and I watched “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” on the plane, and after two long flights, we got home!  I was so happy to be back in my own cozy house, but I did miss the beautiful beaches of St. Thomas!  What a great vacation!  I hope we can go back soon.

P.S. – Please comment below to tell me all about your vacations this summer, or even in the past.  What was your favorite vacation ever?   Where did you have the best food?  Tell me!

Attention, Readers!

My friend Kacey posted a comment that reminded me that I had to update my Favorites page.  Almost every line has been changed!  A lot has changed since I started doing this blog!  Please read my new Updated Favorites page, and I want to hear about yours!

As always, thanks for reading!

My Dream Come True!

My Heroes and Me!

My Heroes and Me!

Mom, Dad, and I signed up for a cooking demonstration by famous chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and I was very happy to be there.  As we walked into Border Grill downtown on a rainy Saturday morning, a server handed us quinoa fritters.  Simply delectable!  What a great start to the day!  They were crunchy and spicy, and they were topped with a creamy sauce made from aji amarillo paste.  The fritters were filled with the best quinoa I’ve ever had!

Appetizing Quinoa Fritters

Appetizing Quinoa Fritters

I walked into Border Grill in awe.  The walls were so kid-friendly, and were covered with cool, artistic drawings.  We received our table number, and we walked into the demo room.   Wow!  Table 31, our table, was right smack in the middle of the front row!  We were so surprised that my dad went back to the counter to make sure the table was ours!  Once we were reassured it was our table, I paid attention to our surroundings.  As I looked around, my eyes landed on the demo stage.   OMG!  There was Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.  They are both cooking legends, and I am a huge fan of Mary Sue from “Top Chef Masters”.  I mean HUGE!  I stood there for a few seconds, just staring.  It was really her!  Susan Feniger noticed me and walked toward our table.  First, she asked me if I would help in the kitchen if they needed me during the class.  I was too shocked to say yes, so she moved on to another question.  She asked me if I would help her pass around food, if she needed me.  Very timidly, I said OK and sat back down.

Susan Feniger was so nice!

Susan Feniger was so nice!

I walked over to the bar for some pomegranate lemonade.  The nice server from before offered to bring it to our table, so I thanked him and sat back down.  Mom and Dad were talking and sipping their margaritas when I came back.  As I started to take pictures of the two chefs, Susan Feniger called me over to take a picture.  I was soooo happy!  She gave me a hug!

After a while longer, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger took the stage.  The server brought me my lemonade, and I whispered:  “Thank you.”  Everyone quieted as they started the demonstration.  Susan Feniger started:  “Today, Mary Sue and I will be cooking for you a lunch about five courses long.  We are very excited, and we hope you are too!”  She said something like that… I can’t remember her exact words.  All I remember is the absolute pleasure of being there.

Teaching Us Tips and Recipes

Teaching Us Tips and Recipes

Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho

Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho

As they started cooking and explaining the quinoa fritters, we sampled the Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho.  The avocado salad was lettuce, avocado, jicama, and some other fun ingredients, over a crispy tostadita shell.  Right on top of everything was a fried avocado, smothered in quinoa, amaranth (which I think is a seed), sesame and black sesame seeds, and some poppy seeds.  It was tangy and delightful.  Under the tostadita shell were some refried black beans.  They had the perfect melty texture that makes your mouth start to water.  The smooth gazpacho was filled with fragrant herbs, fresh vegetables, and homemade mayonnaise.  I don’t usually like mayonnaise, but it was amazing, and it slid down my throat easily like a fresh raw oyster!

Teaching Us Tips

Teaching Us Tips

Meanwhile, we were intrigued by the cooking tips they gave us.  “It drives me crazy to see people buying egg separators,” Mary Sue Milliken informed us.  “Everyone has one — their hands!” added Susan Feniger as she showed us the separated yolk on her palm.  Mary Sue started talking about sharp and dull knives:  “Always use a sharp knife when you are cutting, because if you cut yourself, a sharp knife will make a nice clean cut, but a dull knife will make an ugly cut which is hard to stitch.  To make sure you don’t even cut yourself, always keep your thumb behind your other fingers.”  Mary Sue told us that her thumb crept up under the knife when she was nervous, so she was always growing back thumb tips. 

After a few more tips on peppers and grilling corn, we got to try yet another satisfying dish.  This one was our main meal.  When I was told what it was, I was very excited!  Rib Time!  Tomatillo-glazed baby back ribs were placed in front of me.  It was one of the best things I had that day!  The pork was so tender and juicy, and the gravy-like tomatillo glaze was full of flavor.  It was a bit spicy too … and it contained pork fat, which I liked.  The portion size was big, but I polished it off with a smile on my face.

Meat and Potatoes (Don't Forget the Corn!)

Meat and Potatoes (Don't Forget the Corn!)

On the side of the baby backs was Esquite, a corn dish, and “Smashed Potatoes”.   The Esquite was too sweet for me, but it had the perfect corn texture:  crunchy and a bit juicy, but not too much that it was soggy.  The Smashed Potatoes were easily related to twice-baked potatoes in the sense that it melted in my mouth and gave me that comforting flavor.  It was a great companion with the ribs.  You know what they say, meat and potatoes makes a perfect meal!  (My mom doesn’t say that!)

Churro Tots and Coffee!

Churro Tots and Coffee!

The last course, dessert, was Mary Sue’s Dulce de Leche Churro Tots and a luscious chocolate mousse.  It was the winning dish on an episode of “Top Chef Masters,” which is probably why she chose to make it for us.  I devoured the crunchy, sweet churro bites in seconds, and then I licked the dulce de leche caramel and chocolate mousse off of Mom’s, Dad’s, and my plates.  Yum!

After the fabulous meal, we waited in line to get the two chefs’ autographs and a picture.  When it was our turn, I told them and their publicist, Leah, about my blog.  They were very interested and really, really friendly.  They asked me to email it to them when I was done, and I agreed. (I am very excited to have famous chefs reading my blog!) 

Notes and Recipes from the Cooking Stars!

Notes and Recipes from the Cooking Stars!

They signed our cookbook and our recipe books from the class, and on my recipe book, they wrote some nice comments.  “Megan, you’re gonna be a kitchen star!” wrote Mary Sue Milliken.  “Wow, so excited to see your blog!” wrote Susan Feniger.  I was elated!  We took a picture together, and then I left, reflecting on all the things I had done that day.

I left the restaurant screaming:  “I’m overjoyed! I’m overjoyed!”  Literally.  What kind of drama queen does that!?  Oh, I forgot, I’m the drama queen.

When we got home, my dad and I made the dulce de leche syrup they taught us how to make.  We drizzled it over our homemade ebelskivers, and it was fantastic!

Trying the Recipes at Home

Trying the Recipes at Home

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the finale of “Top Chef Masters,” and Mary Sue is a finalist.  Be sure to watch her compete against Floyd and Traci.  It will be exciting!

I just want to thank Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger for giving me an amazing day!  Thank you!

 

 

Border Grill – Downtown LA

445 S. Figueroa Street

Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 486-5171

Twitter:  @BorderGrill

www.bordergrill.com

Susan Feniger’s Street

742 North Highland

Los Angeles, CA 90038

(323) 203-0500

Twitter:  @eatatstreet

www.eatatstreet.com

 

The Best Burger I Ever Ate!

Wolfing It Down!

Wolfing It Down!

On Sunday, my family went to Disneyland and California Adventure.  After the last ride, we ate dinner at Slater’s 50/50, a burger restaurant in Anaheim.  You may have heard of it, because it has been on the news.  At first, I wasn’t very excited, especially when I heard that the wait time would be approximately one hour and ten minutes.  But my dad was determined to try the 50/50 burger, which is a patty that is 50 percent ground beef and 50 percent ground bacon.  So we decided to wait the hour.

I looked at a menu while we were waiting, and I began to feel less skeptical about our meal.  I saw great burgers, salads, and other sandwiches.  Luckily, the wait turned out to be only about 35 minutes, a very long 35 minutes, but it was totally worth it …

When we sat down at our table, a busboy immediately gave each of my family members a glass of cold water.  Our generous waitress, Daniella, asked what we wanted to drink.  After taking a good look at the menu, I knew exactly what I wanted.  I ordered a Maple Bacon Milkshake.  Maybe this place wasn’t going to be so bad after all!   Tabitha, my adorable sister, ordered a Root Beer Shake, and my mom ordered a Mint Chocolate Chip Shake.   My dad ordered an Endless Soda, and Daniella kept bringing my dad more Cherry Coke.  When we left, he still had about two glasses left!

Eating My Shake With A Fork

Eating My Shake With A Fork

My Maple Bacon Shake was syrupy and luscious.  I knew that I would love it because I always dip my bacon into maple syrup at breakfast, and I was definitely right!  I savored my delicious milkshake, and at the very bottom of the glass, hiding from me were huge chunks of bacon.  Yum!  I had to use a fork to scoop up the bacon.  The wonderful shake was truly fantastic, and I thought it was salty, which I liked. 

Designing My Burger

Designing My Burger

However, my burger (which I named “Megan’s Favorite”) lacked much saltiness, but the rest of it made up for that.  The burger was perfect for me, but maybe it would have been better with a little salt.  I created my own burger.  On it was a 50/50 patty, corn and black bean salsa, avocado mash, and raw yellow onions.  On the side, I had a delectable sweet chili sauce that added a lot of sweet to my smoky burger.   The portion was huge, so I couldn’t finish it, but I ate as much as I could, because it amazing!

The "Megan's Favorite"

The "Megan's Favorite"

My dad also ordered and received a “Design It” burger, which was a 50/50 patty, gruyere cheese, leaf lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and bleu cheese sauce on the side.  My father and I both got the soft brioche roll.  My dad loved his hamburger and claims it was a great pick!  Next time, he said he would get the Fire Beef patty instead of the 50/50 patty and add thick cut bacon and bleu cheese crumbles on top.  Next time, I would get the same thing, without the raw onions.

My mother got the Caprese Burger, and she liked it.  She is one of those people who likes her meat cooked medium well.  This time, she tried it medium, and her burger was bright pink!  She said she should have ordered it medium well, but I thought the juicy burger looked delicious. 

Tabitha's Mammoth Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Tabitha's Mammoth Grilled Cheese Sandwich

My sister ordered a monstrous grilled cheese sandwich.  Literally, it was humongous! 

A Divine Dip

A Divine Dip

We also ordered a Vampire Dip that my whole family enjoyed.  Their Vampire Dip is a garlic, artichoke, and cheese dip that came with fried pita bread and a soft bread roll.  The cheesy dip reminded me of the top layer of french onion soup, the cheesy part.  After we finished the dip, we ate the bread bowl that it came in.   My family was very happy with the Vampire Dip!

I obviously loved Slater’s 50/50, and so did my friend Gracie.  She wrote about it on her blog:  http://graciesgrub.blogspot.com/2011/01/slater-5050.html .   I hope that when you go there, if you go there, you will enjoy your culinary adventure as much as I did.   By the way, I am interested in hearing from you.  Where is YOUR favorite burger?

Slater’s 50/50

6362 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road

Anaheim Hills, California

(714) 685-1103

www.slaters5050.com

Busy third grader…

Dear Readers,

I’ve been busy doing my schoolwork and sitting in the backseat of my mom’s car.  I haven’t been able to write and publish a full blog entry but I promise you I will soon! Next up: The Tailgate Party in Arizona!!!

Love,

Megan