Whether you sit down for a farm-to-table meal, picnic in your own backyard, or pack a Bento Box and go…food can be customized to fit your current needs. Anything goes! Cooking has been reinvented, mixing the old with the new for award-winning results. By choosing your favorite foods, it automatically turns mealtime into an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my recent posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram @gail_dorna. This remarkable journey of the palate gives me time with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: FOODSTUFF REDEFINED!”
Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai! No, the rooster isn’t the host…he just thinks he is. If he could speak, he would probably recommend the catch-of-the-day and lead you to a table outside where the view is simply mesmerizing. The staff at Oasis on the Beach focuses on quality of ingredients by using local growers and fishermen for diversity in cultures as well as flavor. For example, the Pork Wonton appetizer is complemented by a spicy ginger soy sauce for dipping. Pair it with the Okinawan Sweet Potato Wrap for something new and different. The roasted peppers and charred onions enhance the creamy texture of the Hawaiian sweet potato. You can’t get flavor like this on the mainland. Choose your next meal at a place that stays true to their mission statement of sustainability.
Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Like moths to a flame, people are drawn to a restaurant with an ocean view. Perhaps the sound of the waves lapping on the shoreline is conducive to ultimate freedom and peaceful relaxation. On the horizon you might catch sight of an airliner gliding over the lighthouse. Hualani’s open-air restaurant understands the hypnotic pull of the ocean. It’s one of the reasons their menu features local fresh ingredients from land, sea, and living by the water. I suggest a Yoga Girl Cocktail and Seared Shrimp Quesadilla. Is it any wonder the name Hualani translates to “Fruit of Heaven”? Come and see.
Dining Outside the Home: Farmhouse Restaurant in Fair Oaks, Indiana! The best-kept secret of this rural farmstead is The Pub, situated on what is known as the back forty of the family-owned restaurant. Chrissy serves up a mean Baja Mule with just the right amount of tequila, lime, and ginger beer. It goes down smooth and easy as you nibble on the Cowboy Bites. Never heard of them, you say? It’s a savory appetizer of sweet corn, cream cheese, jalapeños, and bacon nestled in a lightly fried breaded nugget. Dip it in chipotle aioli for added spice. Watch out, these can be addictive. Choose a burger and share it with your partner. The half-pounder dry aged ribeye, topped with fresh arugula and Havarti habanero pepper cheese, will leave you with a mental note to stop over to the Cowfé to snag a pound of this diablo cheese for later on. Take your time. There’s no hurry. This is what country living is all about.
Dining Outside the Home: Piazza in Princeville, Kauai. How does a French chef off the island of Madagascar find his way to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, you wonder. It really makes little difference once you taste his flare for Italian food. Chef Christophe is the master, hands down, at creating out-of-this-world culinary creations designed to seduce the palate at Piazza on the North Shore. Every dish is uniquely designed from oven-roasted tomatoes on the wood-fired oven pizza to the hand-seasoned croutons on the Caesar salad. For the adventure enthusiast, might I suggest the log cabin stacked polenta fries? Nothing but the best of local, organic ingredients are carefully crafted for your enjoyment. My fav? The Seared Ahi Niçoise Salad. I see it in your future, too.
Dining Outside the Home: Felicia Suzanne’s in Memphis, Tennessee! Tucked comfortably at a corner table is like feeling on the edge of a party, in my opinion. The intimate atmosphere at Felicia Suzanne’s feels festive as distant conversations emit a slow buzz. This is Friday lunchtime, when 25-cent martinis set the stage for an unforgettable weekend prelude. Order it your way: shaken, stirred, or slightly dirty. No matter the choice, it all works well with the specialized menu of southern cuisine from local sources. I guess you could describe it as farm-to-table, with a white linen finish. Fresh lump crabmeat boulettes tempt the palate with a saucy kick of pepper jelly. In a word, delectable. Coming from a seafood lover, the BBQ Gulf Shrimp was a no-brainer as well. Every item has the stamp of Project Green Fork on it, but one visit doesn’t begin to complete the truly southern experience.
Dining Outside the Home: Bubba Burgers in Kapaa, Kauai! The sign at the cash register says, “We Cheat Tourists, Drunks, and Attorneys.” Now you know there’s a story to be told. But that’s not why hoards of people stop by this burger shack in Old Kapaa Town to sit on the front porch and gape at the flurry of activity with an unbelievable ocean view. The fresh-ground “grass fed” beef, from cattle ranches on Kauai, produces the best and juiciest, chin-wiping burgers around. Perhaps that is why they’re known as the Slopper or Double Slopper, on a menu that features everything from a Big Bubba to Chili Fries. Go crazy. Add a thick Chocolate Milkshake made with real cream. Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you walk away hungry, it’s your own fault.
Dining Outside the Home: JO2 Natural Cuisine in Kapaa, Kauai! Step across the threshold of this clean, crisp restaurant and you will find the atmosphere extraordinary. Peruse the specialized menu. There is little doubt the French chef will create anything less than a masterpiece, using nature’s freshest ingredients arranged on a plate. Your eyes will feast on the artistic presentation before a forkful of food ever touches your lips. Take it slow to appreciate every bite. Linger between Appetizer and Entrée, giving yourself time for quiet conversation over signature cocktails. Perhaps you’ll share a nibble of super sweet Baby Corn grown exclusively on the island. Or a taste of Mushroom Risotto lashed into perfection with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and sea salted French butter. Do you see where I’m going with this? Make dining at JO2 an experience to remember. After all, the colorful palette is designed especially for you. Bon Appétit!
Dining Outside the Home: Farmhouse Restaurant in Fair Oaks, Indiana! Experience a culinary adventure that’s straight off the farm. With ingredients that are raised, produced, and harvested locally, freshness is key. From the moment you are seated, all who gather round the table notice hospitality that knows no bounds. One munch of all-natural cornbread from the bread basket can test willpower that sends self-control reeling. And that’s just the beginning. Portions are generous, so be warned. Whether you choose mile-high sandwiches or hand cut ribeyes, no one walks away hungry or disappointed. And the desserts are phenomenal, I’m told. I wouldn’t know. Honestly, I surrendered to the texture and aroma of the cornbread.