Raw Onion

Kish is out of town, which means I don’t have to worry about mortally offending her with my breath and can indulge one of my favorite summer food combinations:  grilled cheeseburgers with raw onion — lots of raw onion.  I love the tang of the onion, which goes perfectly with grilled meat and cheese, and the crunch of a raw onion has a pleasant quality, too.

I know my breath stinks after such a feast, but there’s no one here but Kasey, and her breath is worse than mine.  I hereby pledge to brush my teeth well before encountering another human being.

Logan Airport, 5:07 a.m.

At 5:07 a.m. at Logan Airport in Boston, where red-eye flights have just dropped off their loads of bleary-eyed cross-country travelers, the lines at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are long.  As the would-be customers try to clear their heads and vow to never, ever take a red-eye flight again, their very willingness to wait in line testifies that a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee is just what is needed to kick-start the morning and make the bedraggled traveler feel a little bit less like a grit.

South Village Grille

When a new restaurant opens in your neighborhood, it’s always fun to visit for the first time — to take in the ambiance and setting, scan the totally unfamiliar menu, and try a dish that might, if things go right, become a special favorite.

Last night Kish and I went to the South Village Grille, which has been open for about a month.  It’s on Thurman, in the spot formerly occupied by Easy Street, which was a favorite of ours.  But where Easy Street was a classic neighborhood joint and good brunch and burger place, the South Village Grille has a different aim:  according to the hostess and our waiter, it’s looking to recreate a kind of New York bistro setting, with food (and cocktails) made from scratch.  The interior is open and airy — a far cry from the Easy Street days, when just about every inch of wall space was cluttered with things like Frank Sinatra’s mug shot — with cool light fixtures.  And large mirrors on the walls. I’m not sure exactly what New York bistros are supposed to look like, but this design was both intimate and visually appealing.

More important, the food was appealing — in fact, it was terrific.  Kish and I started by splitting six enormous raw Chesapeake Bay oysters, topped with a tasty Thai vinaigrette sauce of the chef’s devising, and then I went for the hanger steak and fries and Kish had a wedge salad and the short rib.  My steak was great — cooked just right to medium rare — and Kish’s short rib was moist and tender.  She raved about her wedge salad, too.

We closed things off with strawberry shortcake (it is summer, after all) that featured a crisp shortcake biscuit, ice cream, a kind of creme fraiche sauce, and spicy, seasoned strawberries.  I can attest that it tasted as good as it looks.

I’m pretty sure we’ll be adding the South Village Grille to our list of dine-around favorites.

High Summer Coneys

I’ve always thought of the period between the Fourth of July and Labor Day as “high summer” — when it’s bright and hot and time to consume all of the great summer foods.  Like corn on the cob, and root beer floats . . . and coneys.  So today, on our way to the library, Kish and I stopped off at Village Coney, on Whittier, for lunch.  I ordered two coneys with cheese, fries, and a Diet Pepsi and got a cookie as a bonus.  

Although I ordered two coneys, I consumed three of them when Kish decided one was enough for her.  I initially declined the extra coney, but with the lingering taste of the cheese and chili sauce of the first two coneys, which were excellent, the lure of the third coney proved to be irresistible.  The fries were really good, too.

Bring on the High Summer!

American Cheese, Please

We’re cooking out tonight — we are on the cusp of the Fourth of July, you know — and we’ve got cheeseburgers on the menu.  The meat is ground chuck, to ensure a decent amount of fat and sizzle, and the cheese is American cheese.  Anything else would be misguided, and arguably unpatriotic, too.

What is American cheese, exactly?  Beats me, but it’s probably some combination of multiple different kinds of cheese, as befits our melting pot country.  And speaking of melting, no cheese does it better than good old American cheese.  

I’m a cheese lover, and I wouldn’t ever put American cheese on my cheese plate.  But on a burger, there’s really nothing better.

Summer Beer Selections

So, it’s July, and tonight it’s a perfect summer evening for sitting outside.  Not too hot, a little sultry . . . the kind of night where fireflies circle about lazily and a cold beer tastes mighty good against the lingering heat.

And speaking of cold beer . . . what to choose?  The local convenience store offers a surprisingly wide and diverse selection that is a far cry from the shelves of Budweiser, Schultz, and Stroh’s that I remember from my childhood.

Tonight, it’s going to be an alternation of goses and brown ales, the better to appreciate a near-perfect summer evening.

Bettering Breakfast Bars

I’ve been traveling on business long enough to remember when a free hotel “breakfast bar” consisted of a few packets of instant oatmeal, a bin of stale muffins, and a pot of coffee of doubtful provenance.  It was a sad, grim place that you wanted to leave at the earliest opportunity– if you even went there in the first place.

No more!  Now hotel breakfast bars are actually decent places to have breakfast.  The breakfast bar at the Hyatt House in Lakewood, Colorado, where I stayed this week, had fresh fruit, Greek yogurt and toppings, cooked bacon, eggs, and potatoes, cereal, muffins, bagels, and bread, different kinds of juices and coffee, and a made-to-order omelet station that turned out a really good, piping hot omelet.  The surroundings were spotlessly clean, bright and cheerful, and you could read the Wall Street Journal while you ate.  It was such a nice place I actually heard a guy go up and order a second omelet.

Imagine!  A hotel breakfast bar where you’d actually like to linger for a while.  It’s a welcome change.