Best Meal of the Trip: Runners up

Had to go to Simi Valley for work at the end of January, so I made the trip a bit longer, and spent both weekends in Los Angeles.  No point in racing home to be in Pittsburgh in February!!  Anyway, it’s always fun deciding on and posting the best meal of the trip; this time since it was a relatively long trip in an area with good restaurants, there were a lot of strong candidates and even the losers are worth a blog post.

First, Baja Cantina:


It’s right near the Venice Pier.  This is the Enchiladas Suizas, my favorite dish there.

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Emilio’s Brick Oven Pizza in Sterling, VA

This was my favorite pizza place when I lived in Northern Virginia.  I happened to be in DC last week, so I stopped by for a dinner.  It was every bit as good as I remembered.


This is the Roma pizza, with portabello mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and marinated tomatoes.  The crust is nice and thin and crispy:


It’s very near Dulles Airport, and definitely worth a stop!  They also say they deliver now.

Dijon Pork Roulade


This is actually another dish I used to make many, many years ago, although this version is quite a bit fancier than what I did back then.  The sauce is really yummy and definitely what makes the dish.  I rarely make that much French food, so it’s good for a change.

It’s actually easier than it looks.  If you take a chilled pork tenderloin, and use a sharp, short knife parallel to the cutting board about 1/4 inch above the board and cutting 1/4-1/2 inch in at a time, you can slowly unroll the pork tenderloin like a scroll.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just need a large, mostly intact sheet of tender pork, which you can then slather with dijon mustard, cover with fresh spinach, and then roll back up tightly.  The most time consuming part is stringing it up to hold it together.  Then lightly sprinkle the outside with thyme.

Saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, then add 4 cloves of minced garlic, and saute for another minute.  Deglaze the pan with half a bottle of white wine, then add the pork along with another tablespoon of dijon mustard.  Cover and braise for half an hour.  Remove pork and mushrooms from pan, and reduce sauce by half.  Put sauce on plate, then sliced pork, then mushrooms.

Best Meal of the Trip – Baden, Switzerland

You’d think this would be a tough one, but unfortunately there aren’t actually all that many good contenders.  Baden, despite being in the German section of Switzerland, is mostly populated with uninspired Italian restaurants.

I will have to give it to the Veal Cordon Bleu at Schwyzerhusli:


As you can see, it’s almost a schnitzel.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  According to others, the pizzas are also really good.  But see what I said about Italian food?

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Osteria 177 – Annapolis, MD

Since I just got back from traveling, I guess we should play “Best Meal of the Trip”.  And the winner is:


Osteria 177, a fancy Italian place near the historic section of Annapolis.  We wanted to go to the Iron Rooster that night, but it was closed to have work done that night, and the people there suggested Osteria instead.  I had the something something something Pollo, because I love artichoke hearts and mushrooms, and it was excellent.

Continue reading Osteria 177 – Annapolis, MD

Roasted Shallots

I read somewhere recently that roasted shallots are becoming popular, and it was suggested they could even stand on their own.  It tried it; they’re not bad.  But I think they make more sense incorporated into another dish.

Lightly coat a cookie sheet with olive oil.  Cut two large tomatoes in half, and place on sheet flat side down.  Put in 400 degree oven for half an hour.  Remove, pull off skins with kitchen tongs.  Add six cloves garlic (NOT peeled), and two medium shallots.  Put back in oven for 45 minutes.  Take out, and peel the garlic and shallots.  Put everything in a food processor and mix.

You end up with a nice flavorful tomato salsa/sauce:


Here it is over noodles with feta and fresh basil.