23
Feb 11

Don’t forget Mom and Pop – Davie’s Subs

Why are we so fixated on going to chain restaurants? Is it because of the millions of dollars of marketing…?  Probably so.  Other than the marketing, the quality of food is just lackluster.  I’m talking about Subway here. For 5 dollars, you can get select* footlongs for 6 slimy pieces of meat. I have to put an asterisk by select because their new campaign Februany, allows you to get ANY footlong for 5. I haven’t been there to confirm if this is true or not, who knows what the little white writing  on the bottom of tv commericals says. Your main ingredient in your healthy so called sandwich is consisting of bread, topped with the extras.  Ok, let me clarify, I’m sure the sandwich is somewhat healthy, but what are we really paying for?  Isn’t a sandwich, a sandwich because of the meat? If  we want extra meat, that costs money. And the quality of meat is a joke.  Now, I didn’t want to spend this much time talking about Subway because that’s not why I’m writing this article. but before I move on to the main point, I wanted to talk about one last component that is missing in chains… customer service.  I believe this is where Subway and most chains fail on.  What happened to the warm greeting and a smile and knowing your name?

A quality sandwich and great customer service goes a long way with me.  In Davie, Fl, off of Davie Rd, there are not many places to go eat except for mainly chains, like McDonalds, Wendys, BurgerKing, this is due to the fact that there are many local colleges down the street. I don’t exactly remember my first time going to Davie’s sub, (it was only a few weeks ago), but I do remember how great the sandwich was and that I wanted to go back. From the outside, I probably would have never gone in there. My colleague said he really liked it there so I was willing to try it out.

Davie Sub

The outside of Davie’s Sub. I think its very busy looking but who I am to say anything to him. I would actually say something but I don’t want to be rude.

Bryan Davie Sub Owner

Meet Bryan, the owner of Davie’s Subs.  We sat outside as it was a nice warm day in sunny South Florida.  Once our food was ready, he came outside to bring it to us. Call that Service!

By the 2nd time, I went to Davie’s Subs, he remembered me from the first visit and wanted to know my name. The 3rd visit, I get a joyful greeting from Bryan plus he remembered my name. I was in shock, who remembers your name these days? At a sub place no less.

He does things a little backwards, he makes you pay after you eat.  He must have a lot of trust these days for people to not eat and run.  I guess that what happens when you become friendly with your customers. He does do the loyal customer thing as well, get 6 subs and get $3 offer.  He doesn’t do the get 1 free sub but hey I’ll take the $3 dollars offer.  Bryan doesn’t offer a card for you to get stamped, but he puts your name in his book, so that you don’t have to remember to bring your flimsy card that you would probably lose.  (side note: do you know how  many times I’ve tried filling out those cards to always end up losing them or never bringing them in with me).

He really tries to keep up with the marketing/promotions for a mom&pop shop.  I’m not quite sure if he can take all the credit in his marketing/promotions.  I’m pretty sure the time he offered free homemade soup for any boar’s head sub probably was his idea.  However, he does partner with Boar’s Head and he started to do a little SMS marketing (mobile marketing0.  You just provide your phone number and he’ll send a text with the sub of the week. If you buy a 6 inch sub that is the special of the week, you’ll get the other 6inch free.  I was impressed with this promotion as I am in online marketing.  I realize this was Boar’s Head marketing to help promote their brand but nonetheless I was impressed.

boars head turkey sub

My Boars Head turkey sub with mayo, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers and salt and pepper.  Hold the cheese! (not the biggest fan of cheese) It’s a pretty simple sub that you can’t possible mess up but you would be surprised.  Too much mayo or too much salt or pepper could ruin it. Not in this case, this suited my taste buds perfectly.  I love sweet peppers and not ever place has that as add on to your sub.

shih tzu brady

My puppy Brady joined us for lunch.  I’m lucky that I can bring him to the office.  I feel bad leaving him at home by himself. Although having him with me so much, does not help his separation anxiety.

So lesson learned, don’t judge a book by its cover. It may not be the prettiest on the outside but the quality of food I thought far surpassed Subway.  Plus, with the customer service/ friendly greetings that he offers who wouldn’t want to come back.  It’s very hard to find a place that remembers you or even wants to!  Next time you’re thinking of getting a sub, skip Subway and find your local sub shop.  You’ll never look back!

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17
Feb 11

Guest Blogger Dan Paulus: Wine Knowledge Leads to Improved World Knowledge

As a continuation from my first post on my journey to wine, I wanted to finish up my story on my curiosity of wine and how it is has grown into a hobby that I’m very passionate about. You might never look at wine the same way again.

—–

…I ventured back to the wine store with considerably more knowledge ready to give my new found hobby a second chance. I realized very quickly that once I purchased a periodical telling me about wine, I was doomed. I read articles in the Wine Spectator; I then purchased “Wine for Dummies” and soon was consumed with some knowledge and began tasting varieties to see which ones best suited my palate. I recall being taken back by the cost of my new hobby as wine has a very wide open pricing structure. Ex. Opus One sells for nearly $200 a bottle, while a bottle of Malbec sells for under $10.00.

My choice was based on economics, call me cheap, but I wouldn’t buy Tiger Woods golf clubs if I was just learning the game of golf, either.

I chose the Diseno, Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. I knew nothing about the Malbec other than it had an attractive price point and I overheard another shopper saying it was an excellent wine. I made one commitment when I began drinking wine and that was to always buy two bottles of the same wine. Why? Because if I liked the wine I could try it again another evening to evaluate the complexity and consistency of the notes I took on each bottle of wine. Plus, as I soon learned, my new hobby attracted a neighborly following  that allowed for me to learn more about the culture of people around me.

I recall opening the wine, firing up my laptop and going to Google.com. I am an information junkie – I wanted to know what others thought of my buy? Did I get a good deal? What is a Malbec? Where did it originate? What makes it different than a Merlot? Where exactly is Mendoza Argentina? What is there to do in Mendoza?

After pouring the wine, I examined the glass and noticed the dark hues of red from the skins of the grape used for this wine. I placed my nose in the glass and smelled the aroma’s. I took my first sip and I realized this hobby was EXACTLY what I was looking for at this time period in my life.

As I sipped away on my wine I looked up the answers to my questions, a Malbec is a grape that is native to France’s Bordeaux region and is considered one of the five native red grapes of this particular region. It did not grow particularly well in the Bordeaux region and was exported to the higher elevations of Argentina where it grew a most delicious grape for wine. I also found information about Mendoza, Argentina that lead me to believe the US Dollar, while struggling overseas, was actually able to provide ample buying power in this region and the cost of the wine was a benefactor of this purchasing power. I found maps of Mendoza and was soon able to locate exactly where my bottle originated. But with all my answers, I was only compelled to dive deeper into research as I had a plethora of new questions that needed answered.

At this point, I made another move in my life. I decided to relocate to the South Florida community of Boca Raton. It was here that I met a gentleman in Jim Stephanis that brought my wine studies full circle. To this day, I’ve never met a more talented, enthusiastic salesman than the 78 year old Greek gentleman that warmly greeted me at the local wine store. He educated me about the various ways wine is fermented, the geography of wine and most importantly the way wine can influence nearly every aspect of your life.

Jim will never get enough credit for his wine knowledge, but he holds designations from UC Davis, a leader in the wine industry. He once told me that he made his first batch of wine at age 7! Jim quickly took me under his wing as an understudy teaching me that wine can be fermented in three particular ways: oak barrels, cement barrels or stainless steel. Each way will significantly impact the way the wine tastes. For example, Chardonnay made in the United States can have an aggressive “oaky” taste as a result of placing the wine in an oak barrel and then adding oak chunks floating in the wine during fermentation. Or, that stainless steel if not properly grounded can be shocked through static electricity and will ruin the fermentation process. I truly enjoy seeing Jim to this day as I purchase wine and talk over my broadened wine knowledge; I think it has been rewarding to him that my interest has lead me to complete my own studies. Case and point, I was 26 years old, I now had a way to connect with a man who was nearly 3 times my age. Proof again that wine knowledge not only improved my general world studies, but also allowed me to relate to people with generational gaps.

My next blog I will move past the importance of knowledge of wine regions and actually venture into a specific wine. Until then – stay thirsty my friends!

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16
Feb 11

Happy Belated Birthday to Me!

Well technically I celebrated my birthday on February 11th but in the blog world I’m celebrating it late.  This year I went to lunch with my mom and sisters and my baby niece at Villagio in Mizner Park located in Boca Raton, FL.  This is my 2nd year celebrating my birthday here.  It’s a good central meeting point between where I live and my sisters live plus I love Italian food. Hey – I would love for them to drive all the way down to me but I have to take  into consideration that they both have kids.  We actually did not invite the other kiddies because well try having 3 additional kids under 5 running around while you’re trying to celebrate an occasion.  We actually did it two years ago for my sisters birthday at Villagio and it was the most unpleasant experience for everyone there, even the other patrons. So we learned our lesson the hard way and now we celebrate all of our birthdays with the just the ladies of the family.

The Food

After ordering your meals, the server will bring your pita bread with bruschetta dipping salsa. This is very yummy and if you can handle your garlic, dig in!

bruschetta with flat bread

My mom and sisters ordered on the boring yet healthy side.  I don’t blame them I love salad too but when it comes to your birthday lunch there’s no going healthy here, at least for me that is. :)

Greek Salad with Chicken - they forgot to put the chicken in so with a quick mention to the waiter, he realized the mistake and got a side of chicken to add to the salad.

greek salad with chicken

I believe this was some type of nicoise but probably called something fancier on the menu as I don’ recall it being called Nicoise Salad.

Nicoise Salad

Now, I saved the best for last. My meal.  I ordered stuffed ravioli with porcini mushrooms and chicken.  It was very delicious and I ate every last bite. I made my mom and sister a bit jealous so I did let them have a bite.

stuffed ravioli with porcini mushrooms and chicken

To a great end to a birthday meal is of course the dessert. Tartufo gelato

tartufo gelato

We attempted to get 3 generations of females in the family picture, but its hard to tell a 5  month old to pose especially when she’s hysterical crying and needs a nap. :)

family picture

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07
Feb 11

I’ve been M.I.A

This is the second time I’ve been M.I.A since starting this blog late November 2010.

The first time being when I headed to NYC over New Years and was not near a kitchen to cook. I did however eat out a lot and eat tons of sweets but I wasn’t near a computer to constantly update everything I ate. I think that was a big mistake. Lesson learned. Not sure I’ll lug a computer with me when I travel but I will sure to try to get access to a computer and upload photos or videos while I’m away.

This time around… ugh. I had to move, my lease was up. So the week or two prior I was packing up my kitchen and this past week… I have just been trying to get settled in and also lack of internet connection. I don’t wish moving on anyone. Its never quick and easy and it didn’t help that I was pennywise dollar foolish. Lesson sorta learned. Since moving is already painful as it is, do it the right way and don’t always try to save money, it could end up costing you in other ways.

I will say that I may have not been updating my blog but I did join twitter. I really never thought I would ever join. I’m in online marketing, so when twitter first started, I kept saying “this is stupid”, “who cares what your doing” “I’m never joining” “I refuse to join”, well you get the point. I really underestimated the power of twitter. While I may have not been posting, I was maintaining good traffic to my blog thanks to twitter and some natural search. Lesson learned: I will say that I never had a reason to join twitter before but once you have a site it definitely is worth joining at least for some extra traffic. It won’t hurt, give it a try. And of course you can follow me on twitter @foodchowdown.

I know everyone who is a foodie loves pictures and I would take a picture of my kitchen but it’s a mess. I will embarrass my little puppy Brady and upload a picture of him for the hell of it. :) He’s turning 1 on the 17th.

Brady Shih Tzu

Stay Tuned… I plan to post about a local mom and pop shop and my adventures at Boca Raton’s Junior League’s 10th Annual Chocolate Decadence Event.

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25
Jan 11

Guest Blogger Dan Paulus: My Journey to Wine

My name is Dan Paulus and I am a WINE ENTHUSIAST!

The event that brought me closer to the wine industry was the 2006 NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis, Indiana. I went with a group of men of who were either my college buddies or their fathers. We went to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse, a fine establishment with a wine list that would make most wine stores jealous. I recall sitting at a table listening to my friends’ fathers describe various wines and telling stories about where they first tried a wine, what they thought of it, as they debated over which wine would best compliment this evenings spread.

As I listened, I couldn’t help myself but think either I fell into a group of grown individuals that either had passion for wine or were complete con artists with excellent stories. It was then that I decided I needed to embark on my own wine journey and gain knowledge so that when we ventured to the next Final Four I would be aptly prepared to show off my wine gusto.

I got back to my apartment in Columbus, Ohio and got caught up in the business world again, but maintained committed that at my next vacation slated for June I would make a conscious effort to begin my exploration in the wine industry. June arrived and I recall walking into a grocery store and looking at all the varieties and not having a clue where to start. I recognized a few names; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, but I was overcome by the vast selection. WHERE DO I START?

I walked out of the grocery store and ventured to a wine shop where I found the staff to be increasingly more helpful and much more knowledgeable. I explained that I wanted to learn about wine, but was “green” to my taste, knowledge, etc. They questioned me, do you like dry? Oaky? Full body? Aroma’s with nose? White or Red? Sulfite allergies? Etc. To the point that I just about had a crisis in the store, as I felt like I walked into a Chemistry test completely unprepared at Florida State University with my answering of questions laying in the balance of my future.

I remember saying, “I like sweet stuff.” The wine associate took me to the German section of wines and handed me a bottle of Riesling. He informed me to chill it and come back soon to tell him what I thought. Oh how I loved the sweetness of this particular Riesling – so much so that I drank the first bottle and quickly went back to grab two more. I felt like it was the death of a salesman that next day; my excitement for wine was quickly overshadowed with the hangover from hell, as I laid on my sofa questioning,  “why I did this to myself?”

Case and point made, I could have never drank another glass of wine and been completely happy. I went back to see my wine counselor and we began to make headway with the recommendation of the magazine, Wine Spectator. He quickly showed me why I felt like hell as he showed the alcohol content to be around 13% or nearly three times that of a Budweiser product I had accustomed myself x 3 bottles… I recall leaving the store with a magazine thinking is this really worth it?! I am now buying paper, not wine.

It was truly at this point, I realized I was moving beyond just wanting to get drunk. I wanted to know a product, a line, everything associated with a wine. I read the magazine in the next few days and like a kid who fell off his bike I ventured back to the wine shop and embarked on my new hobby – wine.

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25
Jan 11

Guest Blogger – Dan the Wine Guy

I’m very excited to have my very first guest blogger Dan Paulus.  I briefly met Dan while playing Kickball on the WAKA league in the Boca Division this summer.  This past weekend, my friend Brooke invited me to a wine tasting party at Dan’s place.  Once I realized how passionate he was about wine, I knew I had to ask him to be a guest blogger. Dan is a wine enthusiast and I wanted him to personally  introduce himself and tell about how he got into wine. Check out his story here.

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22
Jan 11

Chicken Fricassee

In my previous post, I mentioned I started making the mozzarella, tomato and basil appetizer after attending a potluck dinner with friends.  Potlucks are great because you get to taste things that you never had before and get the recipe. Now this recipe, I started making after having potluck at the office.  I actually had to beg my coworker Jessica for this recipe.  It took her a while, like a few months, to give it to me.  I think she was just being lazy, but I finally got it.  I’ve made this dish so many times now, but I can still never make it the way she did.  I think she just didn’t give me the right directions.  However, the way I make it still tastes great, hence why I continue to make this dish all the time.

Another reason why I make this dish is because of these guys below. Let me introduce you to them, Miss Tomato, Mr Pepper and Mr Onion. These veggies are like my staples. I constantly use these 3 guys when cooking.  I know I need to expand and try new things but with these veggies you can always find something to cook even on a rainy day.

tomato onion pepper

Ingredients
Boneless Skinless Thin Chicken Breast
Sazon with Coriander and Annatto ( Goya sells pre-packaged packets)
Chicken Bouillon
Garlic
Onion
Peppers – red, green, yellow
Extra Virgina Olive Oil
White Vineger
Can of Dice Tomatoes or Fresh Tomatoes
Sugar (optional)
Hot Sauce (optional)
white cooking wine

Prep:

Cut Onion and Peppers into small pieces.  Take about 2 cloves of garlic and mince finely.

chopped onion pepper tomato

Directions

Prepare a pot of water for boiling.  Add salt, pepper, a little bit of olive oil and a cap of vinegar.  Once boiling, add chicken and reduce heat and cover.

While chicken is boiling:

In a saucepan, add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom on the pan evenly.  Turn on to high and add minced garlic and chopped onions and peppers.  Allow to simmer for a minute, then reduce heat.  You will then add the dice tomatoes, coriander and annatto, chicken bouillon.  You will add salt, pepper and hot sauce to your own taste.

veggies in pan

Taste dish once all ingredients are added and then add sugar based on acidity

Once everything is in the saucepan – bring to a boil, uncovered for a minutes while stirring.  When I make this dish, there was never enough liquid to boil. I just keep it on simmer.

Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is done.  If you see the sauce has reduced too much, add some of the water from the pot where the chicken is boiling in. (I use cooking wine as I noticed the first few times of making this, the water diluted the flavor of the dish)

When chicken is done, remove the chicken and place on cutting board and begin to shred the chicken.  You can either use your hands or a fork and knife.  Once all chicken is shredded, add to saucepan.

shredded chicken and veggies

Once chicken is added, bring to a boil for a couple of minutes, reduce heat and cover for about 5 minutes then remove from heat.  (Again, I keep it on simmer because if I kept it on boil, the dish would dry out).

Bon Appetite

chicken friscassee

chicken fricassee

—-

Usually potlucks you would hope to  get the correct recipe to follow, but if not you just have to adapt to your taste, experiment with flavors and hopefully it will turn out delicious.

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19
Jan 11

Appetizing Appetizer – Caprese Bruschetta

I first started making this appetizer after attending a potluck dinner party. I’m actually not a cheese fan. Most of you who are reading this and do not know me are probably in shock and saying “who doesn’t love cheese” Well, me! Of course there are some exceptions, like this recipe, but I assure you I truly will never care for cheese like a true cheese lover.

At the potluck,  the girl who made this appetizer  introduced me to balsamic glaze. Amazing! Now, if I can only find other recipes to use it on…

mozzarella tomato basil baguette

Ingredients:
Plum Tomato
Fresh Basil
Mozzarella (cut slice – half an inch thick)
Baguette
Balsamic Glaze
Salt
Pepper

I use a fresh baguette from the store and have them  slice the bread for me.  I’ve tried slicing the bread at home but just ended up squishing the slices.

When preparing this dish, I place the sliced bread on the serving dish.  I layer the bread with the basil, tomato and then the  mozzarella.  I use plum tomato because it the perfect size for the bread.  I sprinkle salt and pepper on each piece. Finally, I drizzle the balsamic glaze across the serving dish onto each piece.

Suggestions:

You can toast the bread prior to layering it with the ingredients to get a warm and crispy texture. I prefer the bread soft. Another suggestion would be to possible butter the bread prior to toasting it to add more flavor. However, I think the balsamic glaze compliments the light flavors of the mozzarella, tomato, basil and bread very well that nothing else is needed. But, hey, I’m bias. :)

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17
Jan 11

Restaurant Grub: Angelique Euro Cafe

I’ve been neglecting my blog… well neglecting cooking for a while.  But that doesn’t stop me from eating.  On Friday, I headed to Miracle Mile in Miami to meet up with my friend Josephra and a few of her other bridesmaids to pick out a bridesmaid dress.  Jo wanted to thank us for putting up with the torture of trying on dresses and take us to dinner. We actually first headed to Tarpon Bend but it was crowded for happy hour.  We then walked over to Angelique Euro Cafe which happens to be the restaurant where Jo plans to have her Bridal Shower.

The Food

Lobster Bisque Asparagus

Lobster Bisque with Asparagus topped with Crab Meat

I ordered this on the specials menu. I wasn’t very hungry as I had a late lunch. Full of flavor, quite delicious.  It was a little thin for a bisque but the flavor made up for it and  it was also lite on the crab meat.  With request I asked for more crab meat and they happily brought over additional crab meat.

Pasta con Fungi

Pasta con Fungi- Braised wild mushrooms, shallots with red wine demi-glace, roasted garlic & herb fused olio.

One girl shared this with another bridesmaid. I asked her what she thought. She said it reminded her of a dish she had at Carrabbas (or some other Italian chain) and it was better there. Ouch!

Gambas Angelique

Gambas Angelique – poached jumbo shrimp in a Worcestershire herb butter sauce and saffron Valencia rice

I wish I had this.  I didn’t get to  try but I love shrimp.

Truffle Potato Gnocchi

Truffle Potato Gnocchi -roasted garlic marscapone cream sauce finished with amaretti crumbs

I always save the best for last. Jo and her friend shared the gnocchi. I was able to get a bite of it and I wanted more. Some people would say truffle is an acquired taste but once you try this you’ll forever be a fan.

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11
Jan 11

Simple Meals: Twice Cooked Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes

Since bringing in the New Year, I actually have avoided cooking a real meal/ taking on a new recipe.  Call it lazy, procrastination, whatever you want. I know I’m not the only one. You know who you are! :)

Tonight I decided to make an easy meal that I’ve made many times.  I don’t exactly have a name for it so I called it Twice Cooked Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes.   This may not be the healthiest meal, but trust me once you make it once you’ll definitely be making it again.

angel hair with tomatoes

Ingredients
Angel Hair Pasta
Tomatoes – Diced
Garlic Salt
Pepper
Adobo Seasoning
Protein of Choice- I use Shrimp or  Chopped Chicken Strips
Olive Oil

Directions:

Do your normal routine of cooking pasta in a pot of boiling water. Drain water in a strainer.  Now heat up a large frying pan with olive oil on medium low heat.  Once pan has been heated, put in the cooked pasta in the pan. Make sure the pasta has been coated with olive oil, you may need to add more olive oil to make sure the pasta does not get dried out.  Add Garlic Salt, Adobo Seasoning and Pepper to taste. After a few minutes of the pasta cooking in the pan, add the fresh cut diced tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes have softened.  Lastly, add your cooked protein into pan and your dish is now complete.

Notes:
For your protein, lightly season it with salt and pepper and cook in a pan

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