After gorging ourselves on sugary treats, fatty meats, and all of those other worldly vices on Fat Tuesday, another Lent is upon us. And while Ash Wednesday is traditionally a day of fasting, it falls on February 14, the feast of Saint Valentine. This year, I decided to take Susan to a place we haven’t dined at yet – CHE!!! in Delray Beach. It is an Argentinian steakhouse with a beautiful location – right on the Intracoastal with a beautiful view of the water.
I’m a sucker for Argentinian skirt steak with chimichurri, and Susan had the filet mignon – both medium rare.
We split a side of garlic shrimp, to build our own surf ‘n’ turf dinners.
I don’t know what brunch is like where you live, but brunch here in South Florida is an event. People get dressed up, make plans or reservations, take limos… here’s an example at one of my favorite hangouts, Salt7, and their weekly Sunday Funday event, “The Brunch”:
One thing that is a brunch staple – besides mimosas and Bloody Marys – is bacon. Brunch without bacon is like… well… anything without bacon – infinitely worse. But I found something in my refrigerator that was somewhat close: sausage. So my Sunday brunch (without leaving the house) consisted of champagne from yesterday’s Veuve Clicquot event, omelets, and sausage:
Sunday is also my “cheat day” from my newly-found lifestyle of working out and eating better. (Funny how my bacon-free Lent coincided with my “eating better”, huh? ) So I decided to take Susan to this fairly-new restaurant, 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria. You can go pick your unlimited toppings and they fire up your pizza in a really hot oven – and your pizza is ready in two minutes.
When I got there, I saw their beer bar and thought, “Too bad I can’t drink beer, because I gave it up for Lent.” (Yes, I gave up bacon and beer.) Then I remembered – Sundays don’t count during Lent! Oh glorious day! So ended up ordering bacon on my pizza (along with Canadian bacon, since you don’t want to ignore the neighbors from the north). Everything – for one meal – seems right in the world.
After the first meatless Friday of Lent, I decided to start the morning off right with some breakfast meat. My morning was too busy to make anything at home, so I drove through McDonald’s and grabbed an Egg White Delight McMuffin, because if you’re going to eat something as bad as fast food, might as well try to be health-conscious about it.
The reason my morning was so busy was because Susan and I were headed to Miami for Veuve Clicquot’s “Carnaval” – an event celebrating Brazil’s Carnaval complete with samba dancers, a samba band, and international supermodel and Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima hosting the festivities. A lot of champagne was imbibed and fun was had by all.
The Carnaval event also had a selection of Miami’s best food trucks, but the lines for them were longer than the champagne lines, so we decided to enjoy some of the local fare instead. After a little shopping in the Wynwood Art District, we found a gem named KYU, an Asian-fusion joint with an awesome happy hour. We sipped on Wynwood Mules and noshed on Crunchy Kale, Korean Fried Chicken with Butter Braised Chicory, Crispy Pork, Roasted Cauliflower, and Pork & Duck Sausage.
KYU was outstanding, and we were just there for happy hour. I can’t wait to return for dinner next time I’m in Miami.
Today is the first Friday of Lent – that day where Catholics everywhere wonder where they are going to get a good meat-free lunch that won’t leave them empty and hungry for more. This is the time when all the fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s begin hawking their Filet-O-Fish, Big Fish, and Premium Cod Filet sandwiches respectively, but I wasn’t in the mood for fast food – I did that on Ash Wednesday.
That’s when I remembered my friend Rob always talks about the fish and chips at Miller’s Ale House. So I hit I-95 South for the two-exit trip to Yamato Rd when I thought, “Wait… fish & chips are pub food – and there is a pub just one exit further, just off of Glades….” So I ended up at Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery.
The menu describes TK’s Classic Fish & Chips as “Cod fillets hand-dipped in Samuel Adams Boston Lager® batter paired with fresh-made coleslaw & tartar sauce”. When Paris came with the entree, I thought the fish looked more like egg rolls. But once you break them open, the fish is fluffy, flaky, and moist, and the breading is light and not overpowering. The coleslaw is crisp and crunchy; not too “mayonnaisey” like some slaw can be. Finally the fries were savory and went well with the malt vinegar that is in abundance around the eatery.
Overall, a fine choice for the first Friday of Lent – only 6 more to go until Easter Sunday, and LentWithoutBacon.com will be there every meal of the way.
After a healthy fish dinner last night, I sat in my home office working all morning when the first pangs of hunger hit me. I started thinking, “What delicious meat dish am I enjoying today before the first meat-free Friday of Lent tomorrow?”
Suddenly my dog Milo starts barking and running for the front door. I didn’t hear a knock, but Man’s Best Friend has much better hearing than I do, so I surmised it must be a delivery person leaving something at the door. After all, I was expecting an Amazon Prime delivery.
When I opened my door, I picked up this bundle of joy:
A package of pork – HOLY COW – I mean HOLY PIG! I then remembered my good friend Bill texted me a few days ago telling me to look up Tender Belly. I went to the site and found that they are purveyors of such product lines as “Pork Packages” and “Amazing Bacon”. I scrolled down their site, and found a sight to behold – a looping background of sizzling bacon. You really need to go check this out… now.
Since Bill won’t be here ’til next weekend, I thought I’d better get this into the freezer. When I opened the pillow-like package, I found that the contents were still frozen, kept cold by a freezer gel pack and some pretty serious insulation… and some really nice notes!
I contacted Bill, when he asked, “What did you give up for Lent this year?” Duh. Well, I guess we’ll have to find some creative way to enjoy this bacon when he visits next weekend. Oh, wait… Sundays aren’t part of Lent, are they? 😉
It’s the first day of Lent. Some of you may have that Fat Tuesday hangover – sticky from King cakes and breath smelling of beer or vodka or wine or bourbon or whatever your D.O.C. (drink of choice) may be. I, for one, am not looking forward to the next 46 days without bacon.
Then it hits me – today is a day of abstinence… no meat! So what’s a carnivore to do? Well, all good Catholics know the quick and (mostly) cheap way to adhere to their Lenten obligations – the good ol’ Filet-O-Fish.
Back in 1962, a McDonald’s franchise owner in Cincinnati noticed his sales go down on Fridays during Lent in his predominately Catholic neighborhood. So he came up with the Filet-O-Fish, which was the first non-hamburger sandwich on the McDonald’s menu. It spread across many McDonald’s restaurants in 1963, and went nationwide in 1965. Since then it’s been a mainstay for Lent observers around the world.
Another Lent is upon us, so we did it up right this year. Joined by friends Danielle and Rubén, I spent a week at Mardi Gras. New Orleans’ version of Carnival fills the city and surrounding areas with weeks of parades, parties, music, food, drink, and all sorts of excess.
Carnival means “farewell to the flesh”, so Fat Tuesday is the last hurrah. It is the day to indulge yourself in pleasure, since Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a 46-day time of atonement and non-indulgence. This is why Carnival season – and especially Fat Tuesday – is full on drinking, dancing, partying, and indulging in meats and sweets (such as King cake).
Since I give up bacon (and sometimes more) during Lent, I’ve decided to end Fat Tuesday enjoying something that pairs well with bacon – a fine bourbon. Thanks to Larry & Christian for the bacon, Brooke & Josie for the bourbon, and Salt7 for the fantastic venue. And last but not least, Angel’s Envy for making such a fine product.
Only a couple days more without bacon, folks! I didn’t know what to do for lunch today – then I received an email from Pei Wei about their new sushi rolls. The Wasabi Crunch roll sounded appealing at the time, so I went across town to give them a try.
I didn’t think about checking into Foursquare until hours after, so when I did, Susan texted me and asked me to grab an order of one of her favorites – lettuce wraps. Like I said, I’d left hours before, but I realized we had everything at home to make lettuce wraps except for water chestnuts – so I asked her to pick up a can of water chestnuts, and here we go!
While browning the meat, I chopped up the water chestnuts, scallions, onion, garlic, and grated some ginger…
Then I added the onions, garlic, ginger, hoisin, soy sauce, and sriracha to the meat…
After cooking for a few minutes, I added the water chestnuts and scallions and cooked that few a few more minutes….
And… voilà! Some of the best lettuce wraps you ever had!