28 September 2013

The Irish Embassy Pub & Grill

I am an embarrassment to Ireland. How can I be Irish and, well, culturally and ethnically not? All I have is a piece of paper that I've only seen once in my life saying Hey, This Person is Irish. Which reminds me of this goal I had a while back: I should be at least culinarily aware of Ireland.
...but I'm not, really.

So back to history. Over a month ago, I was in Toronto for vacation and we were wandering around downtown after having an extravagantly happy time in Centre Island (THERE WERE BUNNIES!!), and we happened upon a Guinness sign on a building at an intersection, and my mum noticed the word Irish (one of the handful in her English vocabulary). As it turns out, it was The Irish Embassy (Pub & Grill)! Now, it was nearly 4:30 pm, so we decided to have an early dinner. Come to think of it, we might have skipped lunch that day. It's all a blur now.

Of course, Guinness is beer and I don't talk about alcohol on this blog (but I'm going to be legal in the US soon, so, would this change?), but my mum encouraged me and my brother to have a Guinness (Irish culture shot, all in one!) because we were in Canada. I found this extremely comical and absurd. Have beer? With the family? At 4:30pm? In Toronto? So, *giggles*...but no.

Now I wonder whether I should've, because the next time I get to have a Guinness will be in a fortnight when I turn 21.

So, The Irish Embassy! What a place! High ceilings, clear menu, posters of Irish cottages and castles next to the bathrooms, green doors, bar, clean tables, and giant goblets (for the Guinness)! I felt like I was in some sort of wonderland (or maybe I was just tired). There's something vaguely nostalgic about all this, even though I've never actually been to an Irish castle or cottage. Perhaps I'm wondering about the life I could've had. Overall, I had a wonderful experience.

We ordered Irish poutine (what a mix?), cottage pie, and lamb stew.
The poutine had no gravy - it was all mayonnaise, cheese, and salty pig bits. It was tasty and probably the least authentic Irish thing on the menu, which was fine.

Stew. My mum said it reminded her of when she lived in Ireland. I don't like how the flesh was overcooked.

Cottage pie: my favourite! It also came with an assortment of veggies!!

27 September 2013

Estia - Restaurant Week

Despite having lived in Philadelphia since 2010, as of the 15th of September, I still had not participated in Philly's Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week always seemed too expensive and time-consuming to be worth the food, and I was right.

However, that doesn't mean that dinner at Estia, a fancy but laid-back Greek restaurant, was not enjoyable. Quite the contrary! It was one of the best social events of my college life, shared with the group of friends who frequented my dorm's computer lab. Yes, apparently, solid friendships can form among strangers when we all spend 10+ hours a week in a computer lab for 2-3 years. Especially when they nonchalantly walk in on me passed out over my computer science notes.

The food was delicious, and the atmopshere and service were excellent. The walls were decorated with giant chunks of rock, and there were linen curtains at the booths and an open kitchen.

Appetizers included grilled octopus (fresh, fleshy, and slighty charred tasting), or salad. The grilled octopus also had some endive triangles, which was pleasant because it is not a leaf I commonly find at restaurants.

 The main choices were juicy (also slightly charred) lamb with a sauce I didn't like, an entire almost-deboned fish, or a vegetarian dish that the server did not recommend. 

Dessert was either honey semolina cake or baklava, with exactly 1 raspberry (although, possibly by accident, my friend got both a raspberry AND a blueberry). The honey cake was disappointingly dry and crumbly, and the gelato did not make up for it.

Restaurant Week meant that we could get a dinner meal for $35 (appetizer, main, dessert), which ultimately amounted to around $46. Yummy.

22 September 2013

Cinnamon Rolls

I am awfully backlogged with posts. I still have a whole bunch of foods from IFT, Ithaca, Toronto, and the rest of the summer to discuss! Unfortunately, I am in the midst of projects, jobs applications, job interviews, and studying for the GREs (but actually not, because I still haven't gotten through one practice test yet).

For study break a few weeks ago, I made cinnamon rolls for the first time. Although the recipe gave a serving size of 12-15 rolls, I ended up with 16 (I mean, how do you cut 15 evenly-thick rolls?) in each batch, giving 32 rolls overall.

The residents devoured the rolls like vultures fighting over one chubby mouse.

I didn't make any icing because it would've just been messy, and there would've been fifty students strolling around making doorknobs sticky. For the two batches, I think I used around 21 g of active dry yeast, and twice the amount of sugar in the dough (since there was no icing). As it was over 80 degrees in my room, I let the butter soften at room temperature, and the buns rose pretty quickly.

This is my kitchen, work desk, dining table, closet, bookshelf, and bedside table. My goal is to keep it scrupulous and clean/sanitized all year.

The fun part! I pressed out the dough (no rolling pin) so that it was about 7mm thick.

The rolls rose a lot! I didn't grease the foil pan, yet the buns came out pretty easily, no doubt due to the butter in the rolls trickling out while baking.

Mmmm. All I got were some crumbs (and a loud marriage proposal, that, of course, was just a disguised compliment)...but that's perfectly acceptable, because I have the skill, so I can make 1024 more, if I really wanted to.