Berg Restaurant, Vik, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, I drove further east and arrived in Vik.

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It’s a small town and there are about two restaurants. So on night one, dinner was at the restaurant in the hotel, Berg. Per the website, “in Icelandic, Berg means “mountain,” a word that not only symbolizes the powerful forces from which this rugged island-nation was formed but, the also the sentiment their beauty inspires. Creativity and inspiration are what drive our chefs, who invite you to sample our delicious Icelandic cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients.”

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While browsing through the menu, the taste of the house came out with bread, salmon on cukes and butter with some type of herb.

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Ordered a nice Sauvignon Blanc – wine wasn’t too cheap. Well over $50/bottle for not overly fancy stuff.

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After looking over the menu, meal choices ended up being:

Appetizer of:

Tiger Shrimps (yes the plural version) in a mango and chili sauce with coconut rice. kr 2,490. Good taste and amazingly coconut-y rice! A bit heavy on the sauce.

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Marinated Chicken Leg with potato dippers and salad with green pesto and garlic skyr (which was on the side) kr. 3,900  A nice salad on the side. One of us had mozzarella balls, the other skipped them.

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Dinner was very nice, and very plentiful. And just had to go back upstairs after finishing.  No long trek ‘home’.

Also, had I mentioned it rained a lot in Iceland? View from hotel room.

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The Ides of March/Shrimp & Radicchio Salad

I have been part of a Supper Club for over a decade and we have slowed down the past couple years. But, we are coming back to life! So last month we were able to catch up with a very fun theme – the Ides of March. How did this come about? Somebody RSVP’d on this day, so why not make that the theme, even though the event didn’t take place on that day.  So, anything you brought had to have an ‘I’ in it – black bean dip, skirt steak, pizza. You get the drift.

It was funny, because I thought awhile on this, because so many things I was thinking about didn’t have the letter ‘I’ in them. I was out running on the Sunday morning of the dinner with a friend who cooks a lot and we were talking about this and I was bouncing ideas off of her. I’m making this sound like I’m making a major life decision! She told me come the end of this 12 mile run – ok, worst case scenario, it’s ‘Mel’s Recipe’.  Thanks, score!

Well, I ended finding a great one – Shrimp and Radicchio Salad. I think I was pretty covered there. It was so simple. I also happened to have all the ingredients already, too, except for the radicchio. I had both raw and precooked shrimp and I opted for the precooked, which made it so much easier. Made it a no-cook meal. The tang in the dressing/marinade was awesome. And that’s what was great. You just marinade the shrimp and then toss them all together with the salad.

Ingredients

1⁄2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄2 lb small shrimp, cooked and drained
1 head leaves lettuce, shredded (used a big of mixed greens)
1 head radicchio, shredded
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Directions

Combine first five ingredients (olive oil – mustard) in a bowl.  Stir in shrimp ***I just put all those ingredients in a ziploc and then added the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. In a large salad bowl combine lettuce and radicchio, pour shrimp and dressing on top. Toss add tomatoes and toss again.

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Also, at the dinner, we had pizza, dips (both appetizers and desserts) and quinoa. And of course some wine.

U5?

Finally made it to the DC Fish Market on Maine Avenue last month.  I have only lived here how long (next year will be 15 years) and have been meaning to get there.  It’s full of great fish vendors and tons of stuff to check out.

IMG_1157 IMG_1158 IMG_1159So much amazing seafood!

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My friends and I decided we’d each grab something to contribute for dinner that night.  After surveying, I decided on shrimp, and I couldn’t just grab everyday shrimp, that would be too easy for a fish market.  I saw these big guys that I could not turn down — U5s.  If you’re not completely sure what than means, it’s that there are 5 or less shrimp per pound!  When you see ‘normal’ shrimp selection in the grocery store, there/they are 21-25, 31-40, in most cases.  But really, U5?  The pictures do them no justice.

IMG_1169 IMG_1176 When we got to the kitchen, I could pretty much cozily fit the three of them that I purchased for the three of us in one pan.  Just seared them with some olive oil and garlic.

IMG_1194 IMG_1200We also picked up some oysters and a red snapper.  Great dinner!

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Oh My Oyster

I kept hearing about grilled oysters in New Orleans. I might have grilled oysters once a year at Christmas when half my family eats raw oysters and then my brother is kind enough to threw a few on the BBQ for the rest of us who aren’t quite that intrigued by those raw guys. I normally put some lemon juice and Tabasco on my grilled one and it’s great. So, being in NOLA, with all this hype, I had to give them a try. I received several restaurant recommendations and ended up at a super local place – Felix’s in the French Quarter.

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The guy behind the bar/counter, Magic, was awesome because I asked how they grilled them and I also asked if there was butter (mentioned I was lactose intolerant). In the funniest way, he said ‘these are the biggest waste of your time, you are not going to get the taste you need, it will be like water!’ They put parmesan cheese, sometimes butter and all sorts of other stuff on them. It was HILARIOUS what he was telling me. They pretty much refused to serve me any oyster (unless I was to go raw) because of my lactose issue. Props to them. They had fun, debating for several minutes, what I could eat at their super local place. They came up with some phenomenal grilled shrimp and their ‘amazing’ sweet potato fries.

While I was waiting for this to come out, I was intrigued watching the guys shuck the oysters. I even got an (oyster) pearl. Is this my good luck charm from NOLA? (Yes, this pic almost looks like a macadamia nut).

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Then my dinner came out. WOW! I still vividly remember it. The shrimp were so juicy and I don’t really like fries that much and these things were to die for. I would totally recommend this diner-like place, beyond local, over the big names. Go Felix’s. Thanks for a great dinner!

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Zuch and shrimp and peas and corn

…and SO good!  Last weekend I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen for 14 years and we both love to cook, so we had to make some good stuff.  Well, I sifted through tons of recipes that I’d been wanting to make and decided on one from a recent issue of Health Magazine.  It was actually pretty easy to make, but packed with flavor!  So, the main dish of the night was Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Shrimp.

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini (about 2 1/2 lb.) — why weigh the stuff?  that would make it right/be too easy
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 22), peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels — I heard the freezer calling!
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh peas — and that freezer called right back!
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine — some people reading this blog are laughing at dry white wine.  You just add water, right?  I just went with the bottle that was open in the fridge, as I normally do.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter — because of my lactose issues, I used olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil

Prep

1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave sides of zucchini to create ribbons (discard peel), turning zucchini once you hit seedy core.

2. In a deep, heavy 12-inch skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and cook, turning often, until just pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

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3. Add corn and peas to skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

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Add zucchini and wine. (Don’t worry about crowding skillet; zucchini will wilt.)

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Cook, tossing with tongs, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add butter (or oil) and continue tossing until all vegetables are tender, about 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp are warmed through, about 1 minute more.

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Remove skillet from heat. Stir in lemon juice and basil, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Prior to this we enjoyed some great figs with goat cheese, prosciutto and honey.

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The food was all enjoyed with some of my favorite Oregon wines — Sokol Blosser (Pinot Noir) Rose and Penner Ash Pinot Noir.  Such a rough night!

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.

Easy Wrap-Up Dinner

So I’m a bit late writing about a quick, easy wrap-up dinner I made for Sunday night.  It only took a few minutes but gave so many flavors that it was just perfect, and it was lactose free!  Served some wine with it and it made going back to work on Monday even worse.  Always think…make things easy…use this during the week if you want to.

I had a yellow squash that had been around for a few days that I needed to use before it went bad.  So I just sliced that and put it in a pan for a bit until it was cooked to the level I wanted.  A few minutes before it was done, I threw some grape tomatoes in the pan just to have them ‘pop.’  I’d been craving shrimp, so I pulled some of the frozen one out of the freezer earlier in the day.  I just pan seared those about half way through the cooking of the yellow squash.  Oh, for spices on these, I just picked one of my Penzey’s blends.

I looked in my fridge for what else to serve.  Had some grapefruit that I always love and they are highly recommended to eat before a meal (if you’re able to) — just having it on the plate was good enough for me.  Served a couple pieces of that.  And I can never turn olives down.  Threw some of the greek ones from Trader Joe’s on there.  Had also grabbed some bread earlier in the day and just did some olive oil, S&P for dipping.

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Next, the vino!  At the liquor store outside of Annapolis this time, Edgewater Liquors, the recommendation was La Mondianese Grignolino.  Was about $16… Very light, refreshing…will have to get more.

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Also had a little bit of Cline’s Cool Climate Pinot Noir.  This is one of my favorites.  Since it’s grown where the temps don’t rise a ton (I learned the specs once and don’t remember all the details), it has a different taste than the other Pinot.  It’s usually about $18-$20.

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Love finishing the week with a nice dinner before starting a new one.

 

Japan #3: Korean BBQ

As we progressed through Japan we had to expand our cuisine beyond just local fare.  One night we opted to go for Korean BBQ.  My uncle asked his colleagues for recommendations and they gave him ‘the best place to go.’  So, off we went.  It was of course one of those hard-to-find, hole-in-wall restaurants – perfect!

So at the Korean BBQ, you have a grill in front of you, order raw food and grill to your liking.  So much fun.  We ordered basic food that we were used to — chicken, shrimp, pork, veggies, versus some options on the menu that we were either unfamiliar with or had heard of but didn’t want to take the risk of eating, especially on vacation.

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The marinade and seasoning on the meat were delicious and the mushrooms were just – WOW!  It was a meal that you take slowly and you can just kick back and relax.

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There’s no place like home

I have been out and about the past few days and as much as I love it, I have been tapping the heels of my ruby red slippers together to get back to my kitchen.

Tonight I was finally able to do so.  With the amazing weather I wanted to make something light and refreshing and one of my favorite salads is Nicoise.  But, I love just making spinoffs of it.  So, after walking around outside for hours and doing a mental inventory of my kitchen, I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up the balance of ingredients I needed to make the ideal dinner.

My relaxing night preparing ‘Nicoise’ included making a vinaigrette with:

-Lemon olive oil

-Italian herb vinegar

-Dijon mustard

Penzey’s Sunset Spices

-Garlic

-S&P

Then, the ingredients for the salad ended up being:

-Arugula

-Pan seared shrimp

-Green beans

-Grape tomatoes

-Artichoke hearts

-Greek olives

-Peanuts

-Generic triscuits on the side

Oh yeah, red wine, too.  Had more of what I was enjoying while writing the post about the wine bar in Annapolis — Anakena Pinot Noir from Chile.  It’s about $13/bottle in the DC-area.

All in all, delicious and refreshing.  Trader Joe’s has great fresh, frozen and canned ingredients.  Actually, there is VERY little that isn’t great at TJ’s.  I will say, don’t go generic for triscuits, not worth it (I didn’t get the crackers at Trader Joe’s).

Great way to end the week.  And tomorrow is Monday, it’s supposed to be in the upper 70s, and work calls.  I digress…

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