Friday, October 4, 2013

Dorm Food Review is BACK! Kind of...

As I'm sure all loyal readers have been aware, this blog hasn't really been updated in a while. Why? Mostly because my schedule didn't exactly leave time for me to update, then I went to Europe for about six months (sorry about that) and there wasn't any too much dorm food to review. Then, when I got back to Wayne State, AVI had been replaced with Aramark -- a change I was so excited to see. The food options in the dining hall now are fresher and more varied than I every saw with AVI. This is great for all of the students (including myself) who eat on campus. This year, I also got an apartment, which means I can cook for myself (yayyy!).

Having my own kitchen, recipes from Mama W and the internet, and easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables through the Wayne State farmer's market (thanks also to SEEDWayne, which has a program that allows students to spend $5 and get $10 of fresh produce, which is so much more food than I thought!) as well as Eastern Market and other local grocery stores has allowed me to start cooking and experimenting a bit with what I make. Since everyone can Instagram their food, I'm going to start posting not only pictures, but a few easy recipes that are (usually) healthy that I've attempted. My goal this year is to try one new dish a week -- so here's hoping I can keep up!

First, here are a few of my past dishes:

Kroger had $5 lobster tails, so I used those, fresh green beans from the farmer's market, and my roommate J's wonderful roasted redskin potatoes for an amazing dinner that per person, cost about $8. In a restaurant? Probably at least $30.

Fried green tomatoes and tomato chutney following the Blue Willow Inn's recipe. The Blue Willow is a fancy buffet place down in Georgia, and it's where I had my first ever taste of fried green tomatoes (and fell in love with them!)

Last week's dinner: Butternut Squash(squared) -- or perhaps cubed? After AV and I cut the squash, we realized just how much there was, so we prepared it two ways: In a soup that's super easy but also super dangerous to make (I burnt my wrist pretty badly pureeing the squash, but it was definitely worth it), and roasted with rosemary, garlic, and Parmesan cheese -- delicious all around.

Raclette -- a typical European dish that's less effort and more preparation: Cheese, bread, potatoes, and tomatoes were all we used! AV and I also made another recipe that we had discovered for the first time in Europe: asparagus baked with cheese, olive oil, and garlic -- super easy and super good.

Okay, so now you've seen enough of my old recipes -- I'll start off tonight's return to dormfoodreview with a recipe that I never saw myself making: turnip greens.

Although I'm from Atlanta, I've never really been a fan of cooked greens. I always found them to be too bitter and mostly unappealing-looking. However, this past week at the WSU farmer's market, AV and I were searching for lettuce when we came across some other green leafy vegetable. The wonderful women who were there at D-Town Farms told us they were turnip greens and gave us instructions on how to make them. Tonight, I was brave enough to give it a shot -- and hey, it turned out just fine! I'd even say they turned out well enough that I'd make them again :)

The greens cooked down with onions!
The Recipe:

about 2 T of olive oil
3/4-1 onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
salt, pepper, and lemon juice (to taste)
(most importantly!) one bunch of turnip greens

The Steps:

1. Heat up olive oil in a pan/skillet. Add the onion, chopped into slivers, and cook until it's somewhat translucent.
2. Add the turnip greens and cook them down. Add salt and pepper as you're stirring. I was surprised at how fast this was -- all you do is add them and push them around in the pan for a bit, and after about 5 minutes, it's all cooked down!
3. Add minced garlic to this mixture, take it off the heat and stir it all together.
4. Add lemon juice to taste (this was what I really liked about the dish -- the lemon juice gives it a much "brighter" flavor so it's not quite so heavy).
5. Eat!

That's all for my culinary adventures this week -- check back soon for another update!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mac Shack! October 12, 2012

Today I was lucky enough to get out of my orgo lab early, and since it was Cody's birthday, we decided to take a break from our normal lunch at Gold and Greens (which has been so, so good) to check out the new food truck on campus, the Mac Shack. I'd been wanting to try it since the summer but hadn't had time. Luckily, today was the perfect day for some gourmet mac and cheese.

I got the Papa Smurf, which had caramelized onions, mushrooms, and fresh parmesan cheese. The sweetness of the onions was a perfect contrast to the sharp parmesan, and the mac and cheese by itself was perfectly creamy and light -- as mac and cheese goes, anyway. The pasta shape was also kind of cool -- it definitely wasn't the Velveeta shells or Kraft macaroni that I've gotten far too accustomed to. Instead, it was a bit larger "ear shaped" pasta -- ideal for holding the perfect amount of cheese. Clearly whoever planned this has an engineering background.

Papa Smurf!
Cody got "The Bacon Made Me Do It!", which had bacon, green onions, and tomatoes. His descriptions of it was: creamy, delicious, breathtaking (sigh). In fact, he stated, "No words can describe the goodness in this cheese of mac."  So it was a step or two above dorm food, basically.
The Bacon Made Me Do It!
Finally, the piece de resistance: the garlic parmesan french fries. Feel free to enlarge this picture to fully appreciate the beauty of these. The other day, we had some really great truffle herb french fries at Green Dot Stables (post coming later... I'm pretty far behind right now), and these are like the bigger, less dainty, and slightly more delicious big brother of the Green Dot stables fries. They were ideally greasy, not in a bad way, but enough to make sure you knew they were clogging your arteries, and it was worth every delicious bite. I'm a big fan of garlic, and these fries had the most amazing mixture of garlic and parmesan cheese -- whatever the ratio was, it was perfect. They were crispy on the outside while still being creamy and soft inside, and were by far the best fries I've had on campus.
Garlic parmesan french fries!
Basically, if you haven't been out to the Mac Shack yet, it's something you need to do ASAP. Everything they have is perfect college student comfort food, but with a great gourmet twist. I can't wait until the next time I catch a break between classes to get some more!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Detroit Restaurant Week: Coach Insignia

Detroit Restaurant Week is by far one of my favorite weeks of the year -- after I found out about it accidentally with A.V. last year, I've been preparing myself for the next restaurant week to come. This year, there were 17 participating restaurants in Detroit, and the amazing thing about DRW is that you can go to some of the most amazing restaurants in Detroit and sample the best of what they have to offer for only $30 -- and really, how could anyone pass that up?

This week, the first restaurant I went to was Coach Insignia. Located at the top of the Ren Cen on the 72nd floor, this restaurant has the most amazing views of the city, and even before I had the chance to eat here, I'd been up several times to catch the amazing views. I had the pleasure of going this year with some of my favorite people in the world from the dorms :)

To start off, we (naturally) had bread. Being the bread connoisseur I like to consider myself, I would give this about a 7/10, not the most amazing bread, but hey, it's bread, and how can that ever go wrong?

 I then had the shrimp tasting, which had a great brandy-cream sauce for the cocktail shrimp -- it was kind of sweet tasting, and it went wonderfully with the bread (not that I dip bread into every sauce I encounter... but I mostly do).

 For my entree, I had the filet mignon (medium rare), and although I'm usually not a big steak eater, this was phenomenal. It was seasoned perfectly and so juicy and perfect. If I were to dream about a steak, this would be it. The asparagus was cooked perfectly, and the mashed potatoes were flawlessly creamy and smooth. 

 Desert was bread pudding for me -- I've always loved bread pudding, and this certainly did not disappoint. It was kind of cinnamony and creamy -- a great fall comfort dessert.

 A few others got white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, and I was lucky enough to get a bite -- I don't usually like cheesecake too much, but the flavors in this were great -- not overly cheesecakey and with a perfect accent of raspberry flavor. Plus, the presentation of this dish was gorgeous.

All in all, this was a successful first DRW outing. It was definitely sad to have to make the return to dorm food the next day -- as much as I've been loving the taquito-instant mashed potatoes-mac and cheese diet, this dinner was far above and beyond what I was expecting. This was a fantastic meal and hopefully I'll be back soon (and if anyone wants to take me, I'm all for that too!)
Post-dinner in the Ren Cen!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wayne State Farmers Market: July 18

I've been on a long hiatus from this blog -- living at home means I'm not willing to risk foregoing my food supply by reviewing it -- but even if I was, it would probably get a bit repetitive with good reviews (Hi mom! I know you'll read this and your cooking is delightful! Please continue feeding me!).

I've continued to take pictures of a good portion of my meals, however, and after a point, you start looking like you have a problem if most of the pictures on your phone are squirrels and food, so I needed to start doing something with them.
Look! It's a squirrel in a tree on the Wayne State campus. I'm normal. Really.

Anyway, yesterday A.V. and I were on campus for Microbiology, and of course I was Facebook stalking when I came across this gem of a picture from J.A. that inspired me to venture out in search of the same:

Crepe from the Wayne State Farmers Market -- Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes has a booth there.
The wait at the farmers market is far shorter than the lunch rush at the store -- well worth it. I got a crepe with chevre, red peppers, spinach, and (I think) some other vegetables, and it was delicious (and huge)!

After that, I decided to check out the booth next to Good Girls', Sweet Potato Sensations. I have been and always will be a sucker for unique baked goods, and the coconut sweet potato pie seemed to be staring me down -- until I saw that there was sweet potato ice cream. That was a game changer. I was told that this ice cream would taste "just like cold sweet potato pie" and I was not let down at all. Not only was this ice cream the perfect consistency of smooth, soft, and just melty enough to be easy to scoop up with a plastic spoon, but the small chunks of pecan scattered throughout provided the ideal amount of satisfying crunch to contrast the silky smooth ice cream.

The sweet potato ice cream!
In conclusion, the food at the Wayne State Farmers Market is not to be missed -- not only is it pretty and delicious, but it's also (mostly) healthy and a good portion of it is locally sourced. And hey, you might see Jerry Herron picking up some vegetables there too (I've seen him the past few times I've been and it's always like seeing a celebrity -- but maybe that's just me)

Happy eating! And I'll do my best to post more consistently, I promise :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

February 8, 2012: Lamb Pizza

Hello again internet world!

I apologize for my lengthy hiatus from this blog. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the food has gotten good by any means at all. As with last semester, we've had good days and we've had awful days, with a tendency to err on the "awful" side of things.

Also, Wayne State appears to have renewed their contract with AVI, meaning 5 more years of sub-par food. Great.

However, it would appear that Hall Council is talking with AVI in regards to bettering their food to make it edible again (Right, Doug?), so stay tuned for more information on that. I've also found a link to the phone numbers of the AVI Wayne State directors, and I'm planning to save that until the situation gets truly dire.

On a happier note, the lamb pizza on Wednesday actually made me exclaim, "Wow, this is great!" as opposed to my standard "Wow, this is edible!" or "Wow I can't believe they thought this was fit for human consumption."
It was even enough to make me push aside (in excitement, of course) my oddly-spicy "Cordon Bleu Roulade" or whatever it was called.

The carnage.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Brief Discussion of Pasta

Now, being half Italian, I love pasta. I was practically raised on it. However, having the dinner "options" of baked pasta with meat sauce or a "pasta bar" (for the 2nd week in a row) is frankly ridiculous.

On the plus side, at least they've stopped serving the salsa marinara sauce, which was almost distressing enough to turn me away from red sauce for life. Dear AVI Fresh, please note that just because two products may contain mostly tomatoes does NOT (I repeat, does NOT) make it okay to combine the two.

But really, when none of your pasta is even vaguely al dente, you should probably not serve it at EVERY. SINGLE. DINNER. After a lifetime of pasta, I'm almost ready to quit. It's that bad.

At this point, I'm even thinking that maybe the rice should make a comeback. That's exactly how desperate the situation's gotten.

Please, AVI, hear our pleas.

November 11: Towers Fish Fry

Clockwise from top left: Tartar sauce, "Warrior chips", fried whitefish, lemon slice.

Naturally, the first wish that came to my mind on the legendary 11-11-11 was to wish for good edible food in the cafeteria. For once, they actually came through. Maybe it's because the only time I eat at Towers is when Ghafari is closed (due to the lovely wind tunnel that forms between the two buildings), but eating at Towers during a non-weekend time proved to be rather enjoyable.

Granted, most things are good when they're fried, and this was no exception. The fish was lightly battered and had the most delightful consistency. This is possibly one of the best meals I've had on campus to date. Way to go, Towers. If this keeps up I may even risk the windburn to get to your food.