I forgot to mention this in my last post, but this weekend, I am embarking on a short trip to two (in my opinion) foodie promised lands: Savannah and Charleston. The main reason we are going is to tour SCAD with Lara.
Ho Hum. College tours, been there, done that. What I am REALLY excited about is the different restaurants and shops we’ll visit! I already know that one dinner will be dedicated to my dad’s intense obsession with hot wings. Said dinner will take place at Wild Wings and will entail a couple of hours of watching my dad eat copious amounts of hot wings with the hottest sauce available. And by hottest, I mean HOTTEST – At our local Beef o’Brady’s, my dad is always given wings with a sauce that was banned from the menu after one guy stupidly rubbed some in his eye and had to go to the hospital.
I’m going to research restaurants in both cities after this post, but does anyone have any recommendations?? I saw an article about a pie shop (oh my, pie!!) in Southern Living called Carolina Cider Company – perhaps I will indulge my pie cravings there.
In other news, I am now a Featured Blogger on Food Buzz! I finally bit the bullet and sent in my contract earlier today – I can’t wait to see what comes out of it!
And now another local restaurant review! I should come up with some kind of catchy name for this review series…Eating Athens or something. Except cooler and not as corny.
Anyways, we ventured to a place called Taqueria del Sol, which turned out to be across the street (basically) from Big City Bread…who knew?
Not me, obviously.
One thing I learned from dining here is to not judge a restaurant by its online menu. Taqueria del Sol has a VERY small menu – only a few taco variations, some enchilada variations, 3 stews, some sides and 3 weekly specials. It became apparent very quickly after our first couple of bites, however, that this small menu was all Taqueria del Sol really needed to be an awesome restaurant.
I can’t say much for the atmosphere inside (not that it was bad..it was just kind of plain), but Taqueria del Sol has a great outside eating area encased in one of those plastic cover-thingies. We could finally enjoy a meal outside, in the middle of Athens, without being viciously attacked by swarms of flies. HALLELUJAH!
My wonderful meal included: 2 tacos, a side of jalapeno coleslaw, and some (vegetarian?) refried beans. The tacos here are pretty small, which means if you have any self respecting appetite you’ll need to order at least two. This is definitely to your advantage, though – it allows you to try more of their delicious taco options! I ordered the Memphis (smoked pork, the slaw, and tequila BBQ sauce) and the Brisket (shredded beef brisket with pico de gallo), all for the low price of $4.40 (not including side orders)! The tacos were completely fantastic. The brisket was melt-in-your-mouth tender; they actually gave me so much that I felt my jaw pop as I tried to bite off a hunk of taco. My favorite out of the two, however, was by far the pork taco. The BBQ sauce was to die for and I loved the accompanying crunch of the slaw.
Speaking of the slaw, I have to say I was a little disappointed by it. By no means was it bad coleslaw, but I definitely didn’t taste the jalapeno (or any unique flavor) in it. The refried beans were very meaty for being vegetarian and I could definitely taste the cumin – YUM! I tried bits of everyone’s food, but Chris’s meal stood out the most: brisket enchilada with lemon cream sauce. I actually didn’t try the enchilada, only the sauce….and I gotta say, I didn’t like it. I guess it’s hard to judge the meal as a whole since I didn’t eat the enchilada as well, but I could not understand how the lemon sauce would mix with a BEEF BRISKET ENCHILADA! It tasted like something that should have been on top of a custard! Whatever, Chris ended up ordering another enchilada after finishing his first one, so I guess that means it’s good.
Finally, the recipe!!
On Monday I felt intensely compelled to create a delicious dinner for Kayla and myself. I’m sure most of you college kids can relate when I say that the ingredients I already have in my fridge/pantry dictate my recipe choices, right? Some weeks this makes for a sad, stupid looking dinner, like that weird, cracked out potato omelet I made last week. This week, however, I surprisingly had everything to make Curry Peanut Noodles!! Actually, this isn’t that amazing to be able to make on a whim, as long as you have red curry paste. It’s a pretty quick meal and can easily be amped up with some extra vegetables (like asparagus) and some added protein (like chicken).
Peanut Curry Noodles
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, serves 4-5
– 12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (I used 1 bundle of soba noodles)
– 2/3 cup crunch peanut butter (Don’t use smooth! Embrace the peanuts! Having said that, I only had about 1/2 a cup of chunky peanut butter, so that’s all I used)
– 1-2 tbsp red curry paste
– 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
– juice from 1 lime, plus more for serving (lime in a bottle, anyone?)
– 1/3 cup cilantro leaves (I don’t own cilantro, unfortunately)
– 2 scallions (nope..)
– 1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
– 1 carrot, roughly grated
– Red pepper flakes, for serving
And I added 1 chicken breast (pan grilled, seasoned with salt, pepper and curry powder) and a bunch of asparagus (sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions.
In the meantime, heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Once the pan is hot, lay the chicken breast down and season the exposed side with some salt and pepper, plus a few dashes of curry powder. After about 4-5 minutes, flip the chicken and season the other side. After another 5 minutes, check the chicken to make sure it is fully cooked – if it is, remove the chicken and let it rest. If not, let it cook a little bit longer.
Wash your pan (or use another) and then saute your asparagus in a teaspoon of oil with salt and pepper for 8ish minutes. But first, cut your asparagus into thirds. Bite size pieces, people. You still want it to be crunchy, but I like to see the black “grill” marks on the asparagus.
Cut your cucumber in half, then scoop out the seeds. Cut the cucumber into thin strips. Next, grate a huge carrot. Make sure to get plenty of carrot shavings on the floor, like me. It’ll give you something to do later. Stupid carrot/grater.
Finally, cut your chicken into cubes.
Combine the peanut butter, curry paste, rice wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro in a food processor and blend together.
Toss the (drained) noodles, chicken, asparagus, carrots, and cucumber in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the top and add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and/or more lime juice. Whatever your taste buds call for, basically. Mix together and serve.
Looking back, I realized I made a few mistakes while making this dish:
1. I should have used spaghetti – I think it’s sturdier than soba noodles. Or maybe I should have immediately drained the soba noodles after they boiled for five minutes. They just seemed very limp.
2. I realized that the recipe is called COLD Curry Peanut Noodles. Therefore I should have served this cold.
I should read more often.
3. Next time I will reserve some pasta water – I think the sauce could have used it.
4. Always have cilantro. Always.
Aside from these errors, however, the dish was really good! I wasn’t sure how the curry paste and peanut butter would taste together, but I was surprised by the depth of flavor the combination created! I’m glad I found some of the paste in the depths of our fridge, though – for a second I considered subbing Siriachi sauce. BAD, BAD idea. That would have been, well, disgusting. The dish as a whole looked pretty ugly, I’m not going to lie. I think the dish would have looked better had I added pasta water and not over cooked the noodles. And cilantro would have totally made this dish. I mean, it was very tasty without it, but cilantro would have kicked it up to another level.
I have to praise myself for the asparagus addition. The asparagus added even more color and a nice crunch. Plus, isn’t asparagus a gift that keeps on giving, if you know what I mean?
Sorry, I have a gross sense of humor sometimes.