Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BBF Travels: Duck Donuts, Outer Banks

Mmm... donuts on vacation, what more could you want?  I'm down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my family for a week.  (Much more successful than last year's trip, in which we had to evacuate for a hurricane.)

So we of course have to sample all the local fried dough.  My sister was virtuous and ran to the donut shop; I sat on the porch and drank coffee until it was time to go meet her with the car.

While Duck Donuts has several locations throughout the Outer Banks, we're staying in Duck, so we visited the original shop- a tiny little storefront tucked into a soundside row of shops. 

And you gotta love a place that displays their process proudly (like taffy pulling or popcorn shops).  I particularly enjoyed watching the exuder drop dough into the river of hot oil, as the donuts floated along like rubber ducks in a Blue Danube carnival game.

Duck Donuts has lots of options for flavoring your donuts, which they do to order.  Glazes, sprinkles, coconuts, etc.  But we went with chocolate glaze and cinnamon sugar.  I feel the cinnamon sugar is the true test of a good donut.

These donuts are almost like a potato donut (seems like something they would make in Maine).  They're cake donuts, but they are so moist.  Usually cake donuts are dry and unappealing, but these were pretty awesome.

And, of course, it helps that they were fresh out of the fryer and enjoyed on a porch overlooking the ocean.  Tough life.

Duck Donuts on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taco Trio in South Portland

I'd been hearing so much about Taco Trio that I became a little obsessed with it (also, it's really easy to find yourself chanting, tacos! tacos! tacos!, a phenomenon I feel will not stop with all the new taco joints opening).  

Last weekend, A. and I biked into South Portland and were really excited to find Taco Trio. However, they were closed (on Sundays). This further contributed to the obsession.

So last week, we called all our girlfriends and piled into my roomie's car (chanting, no doubt). Taco Trio was to be had.

I ordered a trio of tacos ($9): carne asada, chorizo, and pescado. The best part about the tacos is the salsa bar. I sampled a few and found the hot ones to actually be hot. I settled on a medium roasted tomato salsa (the one in front of the sour cream in the photo below).

Unfortunately, none of my tacos stood out as my favorite. The steak was tasty, but a little dry (the salsa and fresh lime helped), the chorizo and potato was good, but again a little dry, and too sweet. I guess I'd have to go with the fish taco, but felt it was overwhelmed by the amount of lime sour cream-mayo it was topped with. 

A. loved her carnitas taco (seen in the middle with pico de gallo and mango salsas), and I snuck a bite. The seared pork was crunchy and tasted great. I'll go with that one next time.

Overall, I'm sure I'll return to Taco Trio. It's very bikable from Portland (although I don't know if eating three tacos and biking around would be very wise), and if you head out there on Thursdays, you can check out the new South Portland Farmers' Market nearby between 3pm and 7pm.

I enjoyed my tacos, but wasn't necessarily blown away by any of the flavors I experienced. Everything was good, not great. For Mexican food in Maine though, as long as we're not approaching Margarita's or On the Border territory, I'm happy.

Oh, and I fell in love with Horchata, so I will definitely be returning for some of that. 

Taco Trio on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer-o-rama: Strawberries

Strawberries are here!  Summer is here! Aaaand... I'm officially a bad blogger. When the temp rises above 75 degrees, and the sun shines for more than two days in a row, I'm MIA from the online community. I'm still eating, cooking, and generally cavorting around town, but the incentive to write-up my good times is lower when the warmth and waves beckon. 

This month's Summer-o-rama theme is strawberries. And I've been strawberry picking, made strawberry jam, and have frozen several pints of berries. I fully intend to make this Pickled Strawberry Jam recipe from Christina Tsoi of the momofuku empire.

Any minute now... after I sail, bowl, have happy hour on the deck, meet friends for lawn sports, bike to Taco Trio, you get the idea. 

But if you've made a unique strawberry jam, let me know how it turn out? I am totally intrigued by adding vinegar to strawberries, especially the chocolate or espresso balsamic reductions from Vervacious

I especially appreciate this blurb from the bottom of the Pickled Strawberry Jam recipe:

"Serving suggestions: Spread the jam on toast, use it as a filling for crepes or cakes, or swirl it into sweet buns or coffeecake. Mix it with an equal amount of cream cheese to make a spread. Or it may be mixed with an equal amount of butter for spreading or baking, or for blending with confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt to make a frosting for cake or cinnamon buns." 

I always struggle to find uses for jam other than eating it on toast. Which is not a bad way to eat it, but I loved all these other creative ideas for use. 

Please visit Portland Food Map to see what other bloggers had to say about strawberries in our Summer-o-rama round up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Roasted Corn Avocado Basil Salad

I went to visit my folks in Maryland this weekend, where summer is in full swing.  I wore my bathing suit all weekend- in the sprinkler, the kiddie pool, and the creek (all with my 5-year-old nephew).  I sat on the screened in porch and drank wine and saw fireworks on Saturday night.  It was all pretty rad. 

But the best part about being in an area that 3 weeks of summer weather ahead of Maine?  The produce. 

On the way back from the airport, I insisted that we pull over at the roadside stand that was selling tomatoes, melons, corn, and peaches. We bought a quart of perfectly ripe peaches and a half a dozen ears of local sweet corn.

And then there was this lunch: roasted corn and avocado salad with basil white balsamic vinaigrette.

I was inspired by a roasted corn salad that had come with my mom's fried catfish at dinner out the night before.  Seeking to lighten up our lunch, due to the heat, I roasted the corn and some zucchini on the grill and served them over chopped romaine and avocados.  My mom added the raspberries in at the end, and it all came together so nicely. 

And then later in the weekend, this happened.  Steamed crabs and Yuengling, y'all.  I can die happy now.

Basil White Balsamic Vinaigrette
5-10 basil leaves, chopped (depends on the size, 5 big or 10 small)
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Muddle basil in vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes.  Whisk in sugar, salt, and pepper.  Slowly pour oil in a thin stream into the vinegar mixture while whisking.  Serve over grilled corn and zucchini on a bed of romaine lettuce with chopped avocados and raspberries.