Tag Archives: food

Podcast Roundup: Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce

If I had to break down the percentage of topics of my non-work conversation, it would probably go something like this:

  • 70%: Food
  • 15%: Podcasts
  • 5%: Netflix
  • 5%: Naps
  • 5%: Other, including but not limited to Jon Hamm, the john, ham, Jon Hamm’s John Hamm, etc.

Food is a given, as are Jon Hamm and naps, but I’ve become a huge fan of podcasts. They’re a wonderful way to pass the time when you need a little entertainment. Out on a walk? Throw on a podcast! Driving to a place? Throw on a podcast! Prepping your meez? You see the pattern here, people.

There are all sorts of podcasts for your listening pleasure, but here are my go-tos.

  • The Nerdist Podcast: Chris Hardwick (stand up comedian and former Singled Out Host) and his besties/fellow comedians, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, co-host. They have wonderfully weird and funny conversations with celebrities and each other. Kyle Clarke, Katie Levine and Scout the dog join in and hilarity ensues.
  • Wits: Have you guys ever listened to Prairie Home Companion? Wits is like Prairie Home Companion if Prairie Home Companion had better writing, funnier guests and cooler musical artists. I don’t hate Prairie Home Companion or anything. I just adore Wits. John Moe hosts this delightfully oddball variety show.
  • WTF with Marc Maron: I resisted this one for awhile, but a friend recommended and I fell for it. Marc Maron is a comic who takes long form conversations to a new level. His honesty is charming and disarming and it allows his guests to really share with him. It feels like you’re listening in on someone’s therapy. Notable episodes are: Terry GrossHenry WinklerRemembering Harris Wittels
  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: Fans of old time-y radio and kitschy things will love this silly, delightful show. It’s a serialized radio show that follows among others a a society couple that seed ghosts and the marshall on Mars. All the comedians ever are on this thing. Notable episodes are: all of them. The new episodes end in August, but there are 250 episodes to go back to and enjoy.

Now you’re probably wondering: what the actual fuck does this have to do with food?

Well, I LISTEN to them during cooking. Which how I sometimes fuck up cooking. Look at how I messed up my buns.

Not MY buns. These hamburger buns. My buns are great. WINK.

To a crisp.

To a crisp.

The cool part about a podcast is that you never know what you’ll learn. Even if you have preconceived notions about the guest, you might learn something really cool. For example: a recent Nerdist episode featured Dexter Holland. You might not know his name, but you probably know his work. He’s the lead singer of the bang The Offspring. They’re still touring (who knew?) but he’s also getting his PHD in molecular biology studying HIV (wait, WHAT?!) This conversation was fascinating. The most interesting thing is that this guy is curious about so many things. He didn’t know how to play music when he started his first band. He loves science so he started pursuing science. And he wanted to play music and continue studying science, so he did both.

And this is how he made a hot sauce. He’s passionate about hot sauce. So he decided to make one. You know, as you do.

Yeah. That's him on the bottle.

Yeah. That’s him on the bottle.

It’s a nice hot sauce for casual hot sauce consumption. It’s say it has a similar heat level to a Tabasco. Unlike a Tabasco, it’s much more of pepper-forward vs. vinegar-forward. It was a nice kick of heat, but it didn’t blow out my palate.

So, I salute you, Dexter Holland. Your hot sauce is solid. Your scientific research is baller. And your music is a major earworm.

That’s pretty fly for a white guy.

OH, YOU SAW IT COMING.

Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce is available at most grocery stores and online. Try it on tacos, eggs, and all the things. Eat it while listening to The Nerdist podcast and enjoy your burrito, folks.

P.S. There are some food podcasts that I’ve started exploring. More on that to come.

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Richmond Restaurant Wars: Graffiato

I’ve been on a real Top Chef binge lately.

All of the seasons are on Hulu and it’s the perfect background show. Drama! Suspense! Foie gras! I’d already seen most of seasons, but it’s been fun to go back and watch from the beginning. It’s shocking how dated the hair, clothes and food are back in the early seasons.

Since I’m a stranger in a strange land and I don’t have many friends yet, Padma and Tom have kinda sorta been my friends. (Oh my god, that sounds so sad.) (How do people make friends as adults?) (Seriously, though…how do you do it?)

My favorite season by far was season 8, Top Chef All-Stars. It was Top Chef turnt up. All your favorite competitors who didn’t win vying for the title! Bigger challenges! Tears! Family connections! Cookie Monster! Hoodie hoos! It was everything and everyone you wanted to watch.

Including the one and only Mike Isabella. I actually hadn’t seen his original season ’til recently, but Mike is one of the best people to watch. His food always looks stupendous–typically Mediterraean inspired, but he’s Italian American and his Italian dishes got him some high praise. Also, he’s got the best laugh–just seems like a really fun, happy dude. So you’ll have to imagine my excitement when I found out he has a restaurant here in Richmond. Mike opened the first Graffiato in DC in 2011 and the Richmond chapter just a month ago. And with my friends Emily and Paul coming up to town for a wedding last weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to try it.

I just watched an episode of Restaurant Wars and something that my best friend Tom said was sticking in my head. “People come to a restaurant for the food, but they return for the service.” It’s very true. And unfortunately, that quote speaks to my experience at Graffiato.

The dishes ranged from ok (American pie pizza) to extraordinary (kabocha squash casonsei). The concept is family/tapas style with Italian and mediterranean influences. Dishes are meant to be shared, and that part is pretty successful.

Casonsei WHAT?!

Casonsei WHAT?!

But the service. Oy, the service. Our waitress had a good attitude, but ordering was difficult.

Emily: I’d like the Hoptober.*

Waitress: Oh, I actually think we’re out of that.

Emily: Ok, I’ll have the 8 Point IPA.*

Waitress: Oh. We’re actually out of that too.

::Emily looks at menu to make another decision.::

Me: I’d like the ‘Put Me in the Mix’ cocktail.

Waitress: …I’m sorry…we’re actually out of that, too. Sorry, we’re actually switching over our menus right now.

Me: Ok, do you have a glass of sauvignon blanc?

Waitress: Yes, we do.

Me: Great, I’ll have that. Anything else you’re out of?

Waitress: No, I think that’s it.

*The names of the beer have been changed because I forgot what they were.

I understand that restaurants change their menus, but I’d find it a much more tolerable offense if we’d been warned in advance. That plus the fact that one of our drinks came out after we’d gotten the check meant I walked away disappointed with the experience.

I’m sad to say that in this episode of Restaurant Wars of Bethany’s Life (registered trademark of no one), Graffiato would not come out on top. The food was altogether good, but the service left a lot to be desired.

Padma?

::Dramatic Pause::

::Dramatic Pause::

::Looks up with really wide eyes::

Graffiato. Please pack your knives and go.

::Tear::

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My Writing Process: A Thesis on Blogs & Pantlessness

So, quick update on me and my fanciness: I was invited to be a part of a Blog Tour.

YEAH. I KNOW. I AM A BIG DEAL.

My amazing friend Anna of Curiouser & Curiouser invited me. Those of you who don’t read Anna’s blog should leave this blog and start reading hers.

WAIT!!!!

AFTER you’ve read this post, go read her blog. She is incredibly smart and fun and talks about just about everything. She is a one of my best friends and reading her blog feels like talking to a bestie, doing something we call lilypadding: jumping from topic to topic. (Posts on Advertising! Food! Cocktails! Nail polish! Clothes!) She’s the deal.

Now, onto the Blog Tour. A fellow blogger invites you to answer 4 questions about your blogular process and then you pass the baton on to another blogger.

Without further ado, I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.

1. What are you working on?

Currently watching the first season of The Rockford Files because I’m sad about James Garner’s death. Also, doing the laundry and wearing no pants. Oh, and waiting on the Chinese food to come because I didn’t feel like cooking.

In reality, I’m a producer at an advertising agency and I write my blog as a creative outlet. In college, I was a theatre major and loved working on/being in plays. I did one show after I graduated, but found it was too tough to commit to the production schedule with the reality of #agencylife. But I still needed creativity in my life. I began to cook more and thought, hey, maybe I could turn this into a blog. So about a year ago, I did. And it’s been WILDLY successful* ever since.

*Wildly=mildly

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Well, for better or worse, I’m not an avid blog reader. There are a few I follow on the reg, but otherwise it’s more like appointment reading. So I can’t say for certain that it’s different than others in the genre. I know there are sassy, f-word laden cooking blogs out there. (I’m looking at you, Thug Kitchen.)

But, what I can say for certain is this blog is written the way that I talk. The goofy asides, the lilypadding, the good and bad jokes, the healthy dose of self-deprecation: 100% Bethany. I’ve been told by more than one reader (and by reader, I mean real life existing friend) that they can hear me when they read the posts.

This blog is me, through and through.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I love food. I love to make people happy with food. And I love to make people laugh. This is all my favorite things in one.

4. How does your writing process work?

Well, the reality of the situation is I don’t write as much as I’d like. I’d like to post one to three times a week. But because of #agencylife, I find it’s very easy to get pulled away from your extracurriculars.

Mostly, I write when I’m inspired. (I’m like Oscar Bloody Wilde over here.) When I’ve eaten somewhere fantastic or made something terrific/terrible, the inspiration will strike me and I find that the words come out just the right way.

But when I’m not inspired, I feel like the words are like lumpy gravy: heavy and wrong. (Just stir it, Una!)

The exciting part is that there’s tons of inspiration out there.

So, that’s My Fake Food Blog. Thank you for coming and be sure to come again.

And in the meantime, visit my other friend Anna’s blog, Seasoned to Taste. Anna is a real life Barefoot Contessa. Everything she does is gorgeous and beautiful and seems effortless. From the food to the presentation to the way she writes about it all. Basically, I want to be her when I grow up.

She’ll impress and inspire you. Particularly if you are like me and haven’t showered today and only put pants on when the delivery guy arrived.

Happy Blog Tour, y’all.

 

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Scrumtrilescent Weeknight Dinner: Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives

I love food.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Because it’s my blog and I’m allowed to say/do whatever I want.

…I’m gonna do it. Say whatever I want. Ready? READY?!

Butts.

(Grow up, Bethany.)

ANYWAY. I love food. And I love people who love food. And one of the people in my life who loves food is my friend Emily. About once a day one of us asks the other one, “What should I eat for dinner?”

And when I did this last Wednesday, Emily sent me a drool-worthy meal from Food 52: Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives.

Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives. Yum.

Um, yum.

Emily introduced me to Food52. It’s a site focused on bringing the people who create the recipes and the people who make the recipes together. It’s really a food community. And by the way, it’s a lovely website. Clean design, easy to browse, easy to search. I wish they had an app, though. (Hey, Food52, make an app!)

So when I asked Emily, “what should I eat for dinner?” She said chicken. And then she sent me this recipe. It’s one of her go to meals, easy enough to do on a weeknight. The Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives was a contest winner (“Your Best Stew with Olives”…a bit specific, but I’m not mat at it.)

I can see why it’s one of her go-to meals. The meal comes together quickly, easy enough to make when you get home from work. A little bit of prep and a whole lot of reward. Tender chicken, a spicy sauce that just don’t quit, and every once in awhile, a briny olive. Israeli cous cous is the perfect vessel for all the elements, soaking up the sauce and cooling your mouth down (if you are a spice wimp, like me.)

When someone loves food and you love food, you listen to them. They’re never going to steer you wrong. Let you down. Run around. Desert you.

 

#rickroll

#rickroll via ultradragonball.wikia.com

 

I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist. I do what I want.

Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives from Food52

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2.5 pounds chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 ½ cup small diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2- 3 cups chicken stock | I used 2.
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron
  • ½ cup green olives, rinsed
  • 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips | I didn’t have this, so I just zested two lemons into the sauce. Which worked just fine!
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet or over medium high heat. Dry the chicken pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Place them in the skillet in batches and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until slightly softened. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir together. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet so that 2/3 of the chicken is submerged. Add the saffron and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover the skillet and simmer on medium low heat 20-25 minutes. Add the olives and preserved lemons. Cover and cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until sauce reduces slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro.

 

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Lover’s Boat for 2 for 3: My Top 10 Restaurants in Winston-Salem

In the middle of February, Bourbon & Boots posted a link to the Eight Most Overlooked Foodie Towns in the South. And it was pretty exciting because two of my favorite towns were on there: Decatur, GA and Winston-Salem, NC. The Decatur list was spot on. I mean, the chef from Cakes & Ale was nominated for a James Beard award this year. Go ahead, that guy. But when I look at some of the places to go in Winston…well, heck. I can’t say that I agree with many of the selections. To be fair, I’ve never been to Winkler Bakery. So, I can’t speak about that at all. In fact, I better get off my fass and go. (Fass. That’s a contraction of fat and ass, so ‘fass.’ I made it up, whatever, NBD.) Village Tavern is great…but there’s one in Greensboro, Denver, Alabama and the PHILIPPINES, for crying out loud. Not exactly a Winston specific spot. And, how do we solve a problem like Willow’s. At it’s best, it’s great. And at it’s worst, the wrong food is brought to your table and when the right food is brought to you, it’s unsafely undercooked. I hate to say it, but I stopped going months ago. With all due respect to Bourbon & Boots and the author of the article, the list felt like it was written by someone who maybe lived here during college and then left. Rather than someone who currently lives here in Winston-Salem. So while, I applaud Bourbon & Boots for recognizing our fair town’s joie de vivre, I’d like to take another stab at it. In no particular order, this is my Top 10 list of Winston-Salem Restaurants. To quote Scarlett Johansson O’Hara, “With God as my witness, we will never go hungry again.”

  1. Mizu: In my opinion, the best sushi in town. Go with two of your best girlfriends. Order the Lover’s Boat for 2….FOR THREE. Discuss being (nearly) 30, family, life, and love. Essentially, live that dinner like you’re in the first half of a rom-com. You know, before you meet the guy. (Alison and Jennie will LOVE living in a rom-com. You will resent it and wish you were a part of a musical.)

    We're on a boat!

    We’re on a boat!

  2. Mission Pizza Napoletana: I will refer you back to my previous post here, but this place is the tits. Pizza? Great. Salads? Great. Specials? Insane. Don’t skip their bone marrow, even if the name scares you. I ususally go two days in a row because you can’t just have one pizza in your life. My coworkers are planning an intervention.

    Prosciutto pizza. Tastes like breakfast, y’all. #runnyyolk

  3. The Porch: I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Porch for the first time. But when you walk in, you know exactly what you’re gonna get. A vibrant meal that matches the atmosphere. The food is the star. We have nothing in this town like it. It’s Tex Mex-esque. Tacos, burritos, burgers and the biggest salads you’ve ever seen. Plus, a rotating crop of specials that make deciding impossible. Whatever you do, listen to this one piece of advice: do not miss the green chili cheese fries. Sunday brunch is excellent, too. Logistics of ordering can be a bit chaotic, especially as the line lengthens and tables fill up. (Expect to do the “excuse me, pardon me” dance a LOT.)

    Don't think. Just order. Green chili cheese fries.

    Don’t think. Just order. Green chili cheese fries.

  4. Mozelle’s: Food in the south is more than just barbecue. And while everyone is wont to say that Southern=Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Q alone, Mozelle’s elevates Southern fare. They are a fresh Southern bistro. Their meals are light and elegant, yet rooted in the culinary traditions of the south. Their menu rotates seasonally, like any good southern household’s would. Their decor is intimate and cozy, just like a good southern household is. But unlike a good southern household, you will not be asked, “when was the last time you went to church?” or made to watch a NASCAR race.
  5. Mooney’s : Winston is a great place to live, but it lacks something in the ethnic cuisine department. Which is why it’s so good that a place like Mooney’s exists. Bright Mediterranean flavors permeate everything from their house salad (the fettoosh, y’all) to the decadent kafta burger. The sides are awesome–do not forget the hummus, tabouli, baba ganouj or falafel. Better yet, get all four and make it a meal. Mooney is looking our for YOU.
  6. Millennium Artisan: Full disclosure, y’all. I’ve never actually eaten a full meal at this restaurant. Jerky Naysayer: Well then, Bethany, why are you putting it on your top ten list of restaurants in this town? Bethany: Bless your heart, let me explain right here. I went to Millennium Artisan on the Winston-Salem Battledish. I ate the offering that they had: duck with a leek and lobster bread pudding. And it was the best thing I ate all day. It paired incredibly with their cocktail, which was a lemon/gin/thyme deal. Here was a chef who was thinking about diner’s overall experience and who in that bite made me want to go back for more. Their hours are a little funky, so be sure to check  the website.

    The taste from Battledish. Can't wait to go back for more.

    The taste from Battledish. Can’t wait to go back for more.

  7. West End Café: Why mess with perfection? This is a comfortable, cozy spot that has lunch on lock. Sandwich? Nailed it. Salad? Nailed it. Burg? DONE. But West End Café has unexpectedly delicious dinner entrees. You can go and get anything from their lunch menu for dinner, which is clutch. But their ravioli are delicious. And they do wonderful things with fish, particularly their seafood soups. Their service is one of their strongest attributes, though. Always friendly, always over-delivering. A wonderful neighborhood spot.
  8. Silo: This is the best new sandwich and salad in town. Sit outside if the weather is nice and nosh on grazeables like homemade white bean hummus or have a full meal of a sandwich or salad. Truly the epitome of simple food done incredibly well.
  9. Camino Bakery: If you haven’t been to Camino yet, then get off the toilet (let’s not pretend here…you’re reading this in the bathroom), wash your hands, disinfect your phone (cause…ew) and go there right now. Just go there right this instant. Their pain au chocolate is enough to break your heart, but then re-heal it for you. There is wine. There are pastries. There is coffee. There is tomato pie. There is wine. There….is cheese. Like hunks of cheese. That you can eat. YOU’RE ALLOWED!!
  10. Skippy’s: If I was married to a food, it’d probably be hamburgers. We fell in love a long time ago and we’ve had such a long, fairly fulfilling relationship. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It doesn’t surprise me too often. But when the burger is out of town at it’s burger conventions, I will go to Skippy’s. And I will sneak a quick Chicago Dog on the side. What my burger doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Cause the only thing hotter than a hot dog, is a hot dog on a pretzel bun toasted on a flat top. Oh baby.

Honorable Mentions

  • Thai Sawatdee: You may not want to sit and eat inside a Harris Teeter (you don’t), but the food that comes out of Thai Sawatdee is delicious.  The Teeter Thai delivers on Thai flavor, but sadly, does not deliver their food. A girl can dream…
  • Small Batch: Go for the small-batch beers and hand crafted cocktails, stay for the flatbread pizzas (“breadzzas”) and the duck fat fries with dipping sauces made from said beers. Drink another beer. Repeat as necessary. The draft beers are always changing, but their bottled beer and wine list is incredible.

    Evan, Breadzzas and some Duck Fat Fries

    Evan, Breadzzas and some Duck Fat Fries

  • Diamondback Grill: I used to go to the DBG an embarrassing amount when I lived down the street. Since moving out of the neighborhood, I no longer frequent it, but their casual atmosphere, great food and ability to make you feel like family makes this place tops in my book.
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