Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Food Inspirations

Over the course of the last two years, I've really been leaning towards a new career as a restaurateur. It's always been my "if I had $1 million and didn't have to work a real job" career. Then, a couple of life changing events happened and I realized that a life spent dreaming and not doing is not a life spent well. I enrolled myself in a culinary program for a bakery/pasty degree and I've been working at it (slowly but surely) for the last year or so.

Last week in San Francisco really solidified that dream. The trip was a recharge for my psyche. Being in a city with so much culture and influence was incredible, and the food we ate was a reflection of it. Everything from intricate seafood dishes to simple omelets tasted incredible. The food on the coast is so fresh. We ate a panzanella one night at Bar Bambino that was remarkable. It was little more than tomatoes, olive oil and bread but the sweet acidity of the tomatoes still makes my mouth water just thinking about it. The bread in most restaurants was also fantastic. Wheat bread, sourdough, garlic rolls. It was all wonderful. Most places in Omaha don't serve bread baked in the restaurant. We have large bakeries here like Rotella that services most restaurants. It's just one of those things that takes a meal to the next level.

Okay, so obviously I'm in love with the fare available on the west coast. I haven't given up on the midwest quite yet though. Yesterday was the first day of fall and it's like someone flipped a switch on my perception of it. I saw it in the trees at work. There is nothing like an autumn in Nebraska. It is an inspiration in and of itself. The way it looks; reds, yellows, oranges, browns. The way it smells; crisp, cool, damp, woody. Then, there's the way it tastes. Pumpkin and apple everything, pot roasts, stews, chili. It's warm and filling. It's strong, hearty, midwest comfort food.

As an homage to my love of Nebraska's seasons, I attempted to make stuffed apples last night. They turned out okay. Not exactly what I was hoping for but they were still tasty. I cored two apples and stuffed them with a mixture of butter, brown sugar and fall spices. Then in lieu of granola (since I didn't have any) I topped them off with crumbled French Toast Crunch cereal. (Not good for breakfast but great for snacks and baking.) Like I said, they were okay but not the flavor I was looking for. I'm going to try again this week and make little apple crisps in some ramekins we got in a set of baking dishes. (CorningWare bake set - Love it, need it, don't know how I ever lived without it.) If it works out as planned, I'll post the recipe.

On the menu for tonight is a can't-go-wrong pot roast. Roast, potatoes, carrots and onion. Throw it in the crock pot with some water and let it do it's thing. Matt adds his twist to it by including a super secret seasoner that's so incredibly obvious it's genius, and then serves it over rice. Cut up some French bread to soak the juice up with and you're set.

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