Two nights ago Tyler made salmon cake with saffron rice and salad, enjoyed with some great wine that was a gift from my brother and his family - we're on the wine of the month club - woo hoo! The salmon was canned which isn't something we would normally eat, but it was great fried in a coating of panko.
They're on the other side, so its not really winter, but we enjoyed an Ecuadorian potato soup topped with avocados. A great addition would have been our Peruvian pepper sauce, but we were too lazy to go to the store to get it.
[Tyler] My parents lived in Korea for several years, and one of our favorite places to eat in Indianapolis is Mama's House (8867 Pendleton Pike). There are several Korean Restaurants on the East side of Indianapolis, but this is the most-authentic we've found. Entering the front door, you could imagine that you've stepped through a worm hole and come out in Seoul. There's even a big television in the corner, which usually has Korean soap operas playing on it.
Tonight, I took Mom and Dad out to Mama's House for Dad's birthday. We had the traditional Bulgogi dinner, which means you sit at a table with a grill in the middle. Mama's House uses charcoal, rather than the gas grills that are more popular with other restaurants in Indy.
Along with the beef, which you grill yourself, the restaurant serves Panchons. These are small bowls of different relishes, including several kinds of Kimchee (cabbage, of course, but also cucumber, daikon, etc.) dried and pickled fish of several varieties and fermented bean sauce. At Mama's House, all the Panchons are made in-house from scratch.
After you've grilled your meat, you make a "Korean taco" with the meat, some rice, a couple Panchans, and some bean sauce. Dad says, "This is where you make your masterpiece." I took a picture of one of his masterpieces with my cell phone.
Mama's House has a pretty extensive beer and sake list, but we always drink Bolicha -- barley tea -- whenever we go out for Korean. Our waitress was also impressed that we ate all our Panchans. "Oh, you like Kimchee!"
[Tyler] Rob and I always visit eGullet before we travel, so we can see if there are any good or interesting (not chain) restaurants we should check out in the place where we're visiting. Unfortunately, there aren't any eGullet restaurant recommendations for eastern Indiana. So, when I heard there was a new place with a good reputation in Centerville, I decided I needed to check it out.
Friday night, I and four friends went to the Palais Royal for dinner. The restaurant resides in an old Victorian house at 114 West Main street in Centerville (about one hour east of Indianapolis). The atmosphere was that of fine dining -- white table cloths -- and it was clearly a "date" place for the locals. Most of the other patrons were in their Sunday best, but I didn't feel uncomfortable in my jeans and turtleneck. This may have partly been because of the friendliness of the staff. No pretentions here.
The menu changes regularly, and is written on a gold-framed chalkboard, rather than printed. The printed wine list was small, but adequate. The wines tended toward bolder flavors, which didn't quite gel with the simple food.
We had the Chippewa Chicken and Shrimp for appetizers. They were served in a cajun-spiced cream sauce with toasted croissants for sopping up the yummy goodness. For dinner, three of us chose one of the meats -- chicken, salmon, grouper (no one picked beef) -- which are served with a choice of white wine, lemon butter, or blackberry sauce. One person had grilled cajun shrimp, and the other had the pasta of the day, which I didn't get to see very well. For dessert, we had a piece of chocolate cake and peach cobbler.
Everything tasted like it was probably made on site. The sauces were from-scratch, and the vegetables were fresh and good. I think they grilled the broccoli and cauliflower and then tossed them with the potatoes and carrots, which seemed to have been cooked in butter. The deserts weren't fancy, and as with everything could have benefited from some more time spent on presentation, but tasted great. The only real disappointment was the bread. The crossoints tasted store-bought, and the table bread was big fluffy rolls.
All-in-all, I'd say Palais Royal is worth the visit, if you're in the area. It was nice to have real food, after two weeks of eating out of a microwave in my dorm room to save money. There really is a difference when the sauce is made from scratch, even if you're only eating a piece of grouper with mixed vegetables and lemon-caper sauce.
I know I'm going to nail this celery dessert that I attempted in early December during our trip to Palm Springs. Last night I juiced 2 bunches and boiled it down from 4 cups to 1. Next I'll make that into a simple syrup in the hopes of making an Italian meringue.
It is so hard to motivate myself to make something interesting. Good thing we have the store for the fast and easy meals. Last night it was oriechette pasta al dente with Candoni Mediterrenean pesto and anchovies. Pretty darn good and done in 10 minutes! I can imagine re-creating this from scratch.
Here is a Lemon Caramel tartlet. I used a silicon form that was a gift from Tyler's mom to bake the custard, and homemade lemon caramel. I'm looking for friends to share these with - I'm sweating sugar at this point!
Tyler is gone for another seminary intensive, which means I'm home alone with the pups. That also means fast and easy meals, and lot's of desserts. For New Year's Eve I made a simple gnocchetti finished in Tuscan olive oil, prosciutto and truffle salt. Tonight was kelbasa with truffle mashed potatoes, cottage cheese and pomegranate seeds, and pickled beets. All of it was washed down with one of the beer shepherds - this one from Austria.