Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Forget Me Nots

All my die hard chef friends will argue that nothing else matters in a restaurant beyond the presentation and taste of the food. Meaning, it doesn't matter if the wallpaper is made of gold or if the bread bowl pre-meal is made of the most olive-stoked artisan loaves, if the food is great, the food is great, and that is all that needs to be present in order for a diner to leave with a memorable experience wafting upon the tip of their tongue and easily recalled later when the return visit is eminent. And I agree with this general philosophy for sure. Some of my most memorable meals have taken place in environments where even a tablecloth was questionable. But I do love it when I find places where the food is good AND there are random, inspiring and creative touches that signify the establishment's wish to stand above the rest. As adults, we rarely find elements of surprise in our daily life so I am always thrilled when someone decides to throw a little whimsy and awe into the mix, especially surrounding food.

This is why I still love going to Norma's at the Parker. Even as the previous gilded tint of potential celebrity sightings or Robert Downey Jr. drug and hooker train wrecks has faded from the resort's initial novelty, the restaurant remains a place that provides sweet little forget-me-nots: the round shape of the simply delicious shrimp and spinach morning frittata; the slim glass shot of fruit smoothie served to clean the palate upon seating; and most of all, the lovely little wafer-thin, crystallized and candied whole orange slices that arrive with the bill!

It's these forget me nots that keep me coming back even though it's not often to spend money on food, that although good, is still just about the most expensive in ratio to "typical" item (think outrageous tuna sandwich!) in town.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All Dat Frito Pie

There are few things in life more addicting then Frito Pie, which I was privy to trying for the very first time on Super Bowl Sunday. Ultra fattening snacks and sports are two things I am rather illiterate in but when the saints came marching in for the first time ever, I was willing to share in the revelry with some unique indulgences. With gold beads on, spicy hot chicken wings as accompaniment, carnivale music during the commercial breaks, the loud screams from the men in the house during the great, grueling game, and my best friend Lisa's hyper cooking skills I fell in love with this ancient game day dish and invite you all to do the same. Must serve on Sundays when there are friends in the house and some form of competition to participate in!

Frito chips
Frito Scoops
Can of your favorite chili
Cheddar cheese

Line the bottom of a round tin with fritos and then put Frito Scoops along the sides in a circle. Pour in the can of chili. Grate copious amounts of cheddar cheese on top. Bake in a 350 oven for ten minutes. Sprinkle extra Scoops on top. Serve with small plates and have guests use the scoops to eat the pie! One tin can serve four people but this dish is so addicting you will want to make two!