Jax Fish House

Slowly but surely checking out more restaurants in Fort Collins, CO. One of them was Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. It’s a cozy place where you can sit at the bar for happy hour and watch the oyster get shucked or get a table.

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Went on a Thursday night and though we had a reservation, we had a high top-like table facing the bar. It was quite loud and in one of those areas that was sort of ignored because it was almost invisible. It was between support beams/dividers and almost seems like it was more used for people to lean on while socializing during happy hour, but would be used to maximize table space.

We did get some service eventually and chose to start with some drinks while looking over the menu. I chose to go with some bubbles.

When the waitress came to take food orders, I decided to go totally hard core on fish that night for both courses. Started with the Fruit De Mer ($9) – Squid, shrimp, mussels, octopus, basil, jalapeño, red wine vinaigrette.

It was similar to a ceviche. And, there were green olives in there. Bring it on! Good amount for the two of us at the table.

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For the main course, I opted for the Seared Scallops ($32.50) – parsnip hummus, balsamic roasted beets, belgian enive, carrots, bourbon pecans.

Overall, each component tasted fine, but the bourbon pecans did not fit with the scallops. They just went against their taste and texture. The sweet didn’t work. The pecans go with the thought/taste of fall roasted veggies, but not scallops. I was pretty disappointed.

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The other entree ordered at the table was the Cast Iron Seared Salmon ($28.25) –
brown butter cappelini, roasted celeriac, butternut squash puree, crushed hazelnuts, roasted root vegetables, sage.

I was told it tasted quite good. The celeriac was a unique twist on traditional tastes.

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I took quite awhile for these entrees to come out — maybe 40+ minutes. It didn’t appear to be that busy of a night. And just getting our water refilled was a challenge. I was happy to go to the restaurant, there was nothing wrong, cooking-wise, with my food, but it’s not a place I am putting at the top of my list to return to.

 

HVER Restaurant, Hveragerði, Iceland

Recently traveled to Iceland and Greenland for vacation. Landed in Reykjavik early in the morning and then starting driving east. The first place we were staying was Hveragerði. Upon arrival mid-day, it was high time for lunch. We opted to simply grab something at the hotel (Hótel Örk) at the HVER Restaurant.

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There was a nice sounding soup on the menu — Langoustine soup, garlic marinated langoustine and saffran cream. (2.150 kr.)

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Then also the Salmon — Cured salmon tartar, toast and honey dressing. (2.200 kr.)

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Adding the prices here because I’d heard Iceland was pricey. Basically these were $21 for the soup and $22 for the tartar.

Apparently the soup was quite good and the salmon was delicious. This was the start of the trip, so I was not yet aware that this was a delicacy to have veggies. Great way to kick things off.

Citrus-Cured Salmon

Finally made a recipe the other day that I’d been eyeing for awhile.  Had to plan ahead because it needed at least 24 hours to be ready.  It’s the Citrus-Cured Salmon from Bon Appetit.
Ingredients:

5 ounces kosher salt (1 cup Diamond Crystal or ½ cup Morton)
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound skin-on, boneless salmon fillet, preferably wild king
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

 

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Prep:

Combine salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl.

Spread half of curing mix in the center of a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet roughly the same size as the fish. Place fish, skin side down, on curing mixture. Spread lemon zest, lime zest, and orange zest evenly over fish; cover with remaining curing mixture. Bring edges of foil up and over salmon and crimp to enclose.

Place another baking sheet on top of salmon and weigh down with several large cans or a heavy pot. Chill, unwrapping and flipping fish halfway through, 24 hours.

Rinse fish and pat dry; place, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using your longest, sharpest knife and wiping down blade with a moist towel between slices, cut on a diagonal ⅛”–¼” thick, leaving skin behind.

Do Ahead: Salmon can be cured 3 days ahead. Cover tightly and chill.

Overall very good.  But problem on my end is that I ended up getting fish with no skin. At first didn’t think it would matter.  Come the end I realized that this meant the salt got into the salmon full strength from both sides.  So, this was some salty fish.  The flavors were all very nice, but do remember to get the skin-on salmon. Will have to try it again with the proper cut/side of fish.

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Portobello Caffe, Sydney, AUS

Was walking around Sydney and needed a bite to eat before taking a tour of the Opera House.  Found a place called the Portobello Caffe, right on the water, where people’s food looked really good.  Had to take a seat.

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They do a lot with salmon at this place so at the table we ordered the Bruschetta Al Salmone — avocado, Tasmanian smoked salmon, sun-dried tomatoes, capers & Smoked Salmon Salad — tasmanian smoked salmon, mixed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, grapefruit, lemon dressing.

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Both were delicious and good sized portions.  One complaint — very expensive — $24 (for lunch), even though very good.  And, come to find out, there is a 6% surcharge for food on the weekends, pretty much because restaurants in that area know they can.  You learn by trying, right?

 

Slow-Roasted Char with Fennel Salad

The meat of my Christmas Eve dinner this year was a tempting recipe from Bon Appetit.  A delicious fish with one of my favorites flavors; Roasted Char with Fennel Salad.

Ingredients

½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced on a mandoline, divided
1¼ pounds arctic char or salmon fillet (we used salmon)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon peel (didn’t get that fancy, I threw some dried lemon zest in there)
½ cup dill fronds

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Bring vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, 2 tsp. salt, and ⅓ cup water in a small saucepan to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add garlic. Let sit until garlic is slightly softened, 10–15 minutes.
Add half of fennel and toss to coat. Let sit until fennel softens slightly and tastes pickled, 8–10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place char in a 2- or 3-qt. baking dish and coat with 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until flesh easily flakes apart and a paring knife inserted into fish meets no resistance, 15–18 minutes.
Drain fennel mixture; discard liquid. Toss in a small bowl with lemon juice, preserved lemon, remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, and remaining fennel; season with salt and pepper. Mix in dill.
Serve char topped with fennel salad.

Do Ahead: Garlic and fennel can be pickled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

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Melt…in…your…mouth.  That explains it all.  There was hardly any left.  The combo of flavors in the fennel, and the balance of soft and crunchy in the fennel from how it was prepped so was good.  I even forgot to mix in the dill, which would have made it even better.  I want more!

The Daily Dish

Visited a restaurant that I park in front of a least once a week for a morning run.  I see it when it’s dark out and there is nobody around but my running partner and me.  So we had this novel idea to go check this place out during daylight hours when they are actually open.

It’s The Daily Dish in Silver Spring/Chevy Chase, MD.  We went at lunch on a Federal Holiday and it got pretty busy, which was good to see.

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We started with one of their seasonal special, some pumpkin hummus.  Too…good, needed…more.  It was served with roasted pumpkin seeds in the middle and roasted cauliflower on the side, as well as the normal pita bread.

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After debating the menu for awhile, my friend opted for a salad with pan-seared salmon, on spinach, arugula, fennel, with orange segments, red onion, citrus vinaigrette. I opted for the couscous paella (with shrimp for an extra charge).  It was Israeli pearl couscous, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, artichokes, marinara sauce served with quinoa.

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My friend’s salad was delicious.  My paella was ok.  The veggies were nice and crunchy, the shrimp were perfect, but there was far too much couscous to be had.  We also each enjoyed a glass of wine.  I just remember mine was a Shiraz/Pinotage blend…can never go wrong with Pinotage!

Overall good lunch experience.  I’ve heard the restaurant can be hit or miss.  They have a wide variety of options on the menu so definitely worth checking out.

Honey Smoked Salmon

Keep hearing these non-stop, repetitive ads for this smoked salmon.  I have worked in radio marketing/advertising and will say they are quite effective.  I also can’t even imagine the cost of them.  Well, the exact brand that is being advertised is Honey Smoked Fish Company ‘available at (all local stores),’ mostly in Colorado.  Was at Costco and had to look for it.  Reasonably priced so decided to pick some up.

IMG_1745[1]You have the normal lox, you have smoked salmon, but I will say, there was something about this stuff.  Totally worth the ads getting stuck in my head swaying me to pick some up.  Could not stop nibbling on it!  Hopefully you live where it’s available and can grab some.  It is available to order on their site, but much more expensive than in store.

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Zentan

Was treated to a very nice lunch the other day at an Asian restaurant near Thomas Circle in DC.  The venue, Zentan.  Per their own description, they are a modern Asian restaurant featuring award-winning cuisine, focusing on Japanese-inspired small and shareable plates.

The restaurant is very ‘sharp’ — that’s the best way I can think to describe it.  Lunch was at 1 on a Thursday, so it wasn’t packed but busy enough.  Nice decor, cool tables, overall good atmosphere.  We get the menu.  What to order?  Too many choices!  (sorry for the shadow on the picture, odd light in the restaurant)

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I finally opted for the Rainbow Don Bento Box — tuna, salmon and whitefish sashimi, cooked shrimp sashimi (I can’t quite get why it’s sashimi if it’s cooked), sushi rice and seaweed salad.

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I don’t really like seaweed and this salad was a knockout!  Wow, so good.  The whitefish was unreal.  The waiter said what it was and I can’t totally remember the Asian name he mentioned.  Melt in your mouth.  Absolutely amazing lunch.  Will totally have to check this place out for dinner, too.  Add it to your list if you’re looking for a new restaurant to try in DC.

Stove-Top Smoked Salmon

Last night I got to enjoy a wonderful dinner of smoked salmon…done on the stove via stove-top smoker.  It was amazing.  All I had to do was provide wine.  Easy!

For the main dish, you just need put some smoking chips in the bottom of the smoker then cover them with foil.

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Season the fish with spices of choice (tarragon, S&P were used), then close the smoker.

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You cook/smoke the salmon for about 25 minutes (this was 1/2lb+) — you start it at medium-high heat to get the chips smoking, leaving the back end of the smoker open, then keep it going at medium heat until cooked through.

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Carefully remove the lid (hot pads!) and heaven has arrived!

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We also prepared some pan-seared asparagus seasoned with rosemary and garlic salt.

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The final product was the fish, asparagus, dolmas, olives, marinated mushrooms and wonderful Penner-Ash Pinot Noir.  Not a bad dinner at all.

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