Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day #43, Caesar Salad with Chicken Breast

I was so excited to be able to blog about the Caesar Salad today. It's one of my absolute favorites, and I actually order it exactly how it is supposed to be made- with out any deletions or substitutions.

Our Caesar salad is made very similar to others: Caesar dressing, Romaine lettuce, grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, croutons, and fresh ground black pepper. I think all Caesar salad fans know it's really the dressing that can make or break this salad, and I think the dressing on this salad is what made me fall in love with it. The dressing is made in house using fresh ingredients. Some of the main ingredients in our Caesar dressing are egg yolks, vegetable and olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice.

I never tried Caesar salad until I worked at a yacht club up north. We had pasta nights, and the staff always ate the leftover Caesar salad. Since then, I have become a very loyal fan. What deterred me for all those years was the fact that the dressing contains anchovies. I thought this was incredibly disgusting, even though it does not taste at all fishy.

It is believed that the salad's creation is attributed to Caesar Cardini, and Italian-born Mexican restaurateur. It is believed that he created the salad because they were out of many supplies and he had to make do with what he had at the time. There is no direct documentary reference to it until the mid-1940s— twenty years after the 1924 origin asserted by the Cardinis. It appeared on a Los Angeles restaurant menu in October 1946.

This is by far my favorite salad on our menu, and everyone here knows how much I love it. I always try Caesar salad at other restaurants, and it is never quite as good as this one!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day #42, B's Hot Off the Press

B's Hot Off the Press is made with chicken breast, Grafton Vermont cheddar, red onions, salsa, and jalapeno peppers on an onion roll.

This sandwich was named after Marybeth Brennan who is Mark's sister and Chad's wife. When Mark first opened the Laundry Marybeth owned a printing shop with one of her friends, called American Speedy Printing. Marybeth's childhood nickname was "B", and the "hot off the press" part of the name is in reference to her owning the print shop.

It was a nice change to get back to the lunch menu, and I like the sandwiches because there is almost always one part of the sandwich that I like. With this one, I was excited about the salsa, cheddar, and chicken breast. Not so excited about the onions or jalapenos, but I thought I could probably handle them. I was a few bites into the sandwich when I realized that jalapenos are not my thing; they were just too spicy!

I liked this sandwich well enough, but it isn't my favorite so far since I'm not really into spicy food. It's a pretty unique sandwich though, and I would recommend it to anyone that likes their food hot!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day #41, Shrimp Fettucini

I was excited to try this dinner entree, not because I love shrimp (I don't), but because I love pasta! Love, love, love pasta, especially fettuccine. Fettuccine literally means "little ribbons" in Italian, and this type of pasta is very popular in Rome. It's a flat, thick noodle made of egg and flour.

The bed of fettuccine noodles is tossed with baby arugula in a vodka sauce, and topped with roasted black tiger shrimp and Parmesan cheese.

I like this dish especially because Chef Jody chose the vodka sauce over the traditional Alfredo that is commonly used with fettuccine noodles. I think the sauce really makes this dish. It was slightly thick, so it stuck to the noodles. It was not at all watery, which is a major pet-peeve of mine when it comes to pasta sauce.

Although shrimp isn't my favorite, the shrimp with this entree were actually very flavorful and tender, and they went so well with the vodka sauce.

This was another awesome dish off of the new menu. It's a huge portion, so make sure you are either hungry or want leftovers to take home when you order this one! I actually split mine with two other people, and I was still full. Glad I tried it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day #40, Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Today I had the courage to try another item I was unsure of- The Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin. This dish is served as an eight ounce portion of tenderloin, with a Maytag blue cheese and pancetta risotto cake, roasted asparagus, and crispy cotton onions.

When we say peppered- we mean peppered. The tenderloin is completely topped with cracked peppercorns. For me, I thought it added a lot of flavor to the dish..even though I'm not a huge fan of pepper.

I argued with Scott (the head line cook) a little because I ordered my tenderloin medium-well. He said that I wouldn't get the full flavor of the meat by ordering it cooked so well, and suggested I order it a little less done. I said okay, and I ended up with a little red in the middle of my tenderloin- which is probably the first time I have eaten it like that in my whole life. I was always taught by my parents that for safety's sake all meat should be cooked until fully brown. I thought this was how everyone did it when I was younger, and later learned that they were probably just being over-cautious. Anyway, having the tenderloin cooked so that it was a little red really made a difference in both the texture and the flavor of the meat. I thought it to be far more flavorful and much more enjoyable than the tenderloin that I had had in the past.

However, my favorite part of this meal was, by far, the risotto cake. I wasn't sure I would like it because of the blue cheese, but really there was just a hint of blue cheese that was complimented well with other flavors- and it wasn't overwhelming at all. Little bits of pancetta were also a nice touch to this side. I thought it to be very creative and unique.

I'm glad I tried this, especially because now I know what I will say to a guest if they ask if I recommend it or not. My previous answer probably would have been...I hear it's really good but I don't like red meat. Now I can say, the whole dish is awesome and even I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day #39, Tossed Salad

My options for today were either beef tenderloin or the next salad option on the list, the tossed salad. The tossed salad is served as a regular portion size, or as a small, which is great for a meal or before dinner salad. I decided on the tossed because I love salad, and it was 85+ degrees outside today..which I see as perfect salad weather.

Our tossed salad consists of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced carrots, cucumbers, red onions, and croutons. It's served with a dressing of your choice and a bread end and butter. I've order this salad so many times, and usually with little additions or subtractions from the original. I've never had it with the croutons or red onions, but have a different times added hummus, peas, mushrooms, chicken, smoked turkey, avocado, cashews...and the list goes on.
Our croutons have grown on me since I have started working here. They are made in house from a variety of Zingerman's breads. They are baked in Olive Oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. It's pretty time consuming to make home made croutons, which is why so many restaurants buy them these days from their suppliers. I think you can really taste the difference when they are made fresh.
I like this salad, and I love that there are a variety of options that you can add to the salad to make it more interesting. My favorite is with avocado and chicken breast. I think avocado adds a lot to the salad, and especially if you are having it as your main entree-the chicken adds a lot of substance. Salmon is also another common addition to this salad.
I really like this salad, it's great on it's own, but you can also build it to be exactly what you like, which many people do.

The part I love the most about this salad, especially when someone orders a small, is the moment they see it and ask "that's a small? What's the large look like?" It's really a huge salad for anyone to eat all at once, even if you really love salad. Usually, there's always enough left for another meal, or to split with a friend. Give it a try, you will see what I mean!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day #38, Chargrilled Marinated Flank Steak

Today's dinner was the Chargrilled, Marinated Flank Steak, another new entree off of our Supple Suppers menu. This steak is sliced and topped with pickled sweetcorn, red onion, bell pepper, and tomatillo relish. It's served with Lyonnaise potatoes and vegetable du jour.

Flank steak is a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It's a relatively long and flat cut of meat and can be used in a variety of dishes- such as a London broil or in fajitas. It is significantly tougher than the other beef cuts; which is very noticeable in this dish. Although I don't often eat steak, I thought the flank steak to be especially chewy. It had great flavor though, and the toppings added a lot of flavor and a nice summer color to the entree.

Lyonnaise potatoes are a French dish, made of sliced pan fried potatoes and thin slices of onions. Both are sauteed in butter until golden brown. The word "Lyonnaise" means "from Lyon" or "Lyon-style" after the city of Lyon in France. I'm ashamed to say I didn't really know what Lyonnaise potatoes were before having this dish, although they are very simple and seem to be incredibly common.
Overall, I enjoyed this dish a lot more than I thought I would. The marinade and char-grilling of the flank steak gave it a lot of flavor, which really won me over. I'm always a big potato fan and the Lyonnaise potatoes were delicious...I didn't even need salt or pepper for any part of this meal. I think this is one of the most visually appealing entrees on our new menu- if you haven't at least seen it yet, you really have to! It looks like summer at the French Laundry!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day #37, Pan-Roasted Halibut

Today's dinner was a new menu item off of our Supple Suppers menu- the Pan-Roasted Halibut. Halibut, to me, seems less common than many of the other types of seafood found in restaurants.

Halibut is the largest flat fish, averaging 24-30lbs in weight. They are gray/black on top with a white underbelly- this helps disguise them from both above and below. Eaten fresh, the meat is supposed to have a very 'clean' taste and requires little seasoning. Halibut is also noted for its very dense and firm texture, similar to chicken.

Reading this made me feel a little better about eating this entree. I have never been a big fan of seafood, but I continuously try different kinds since I have started blogging, and I'm usually surprised.

The halibut was no exception, I was of course surprised with how un-fishy this meat was. It didn't have the odd texture that I normally associate with seafood either. Our pan-roasted Halibut is served as an eight ounce portion of fillet, topped with tomato, red onion, and caper buerre blanc. It's served with an asparagus, apple-wood smoked bacon, and roasted fingerling stew.

The stew isn't really like a thick soup, like you would expect. The asparagus, fingerings, and sauce are almost layered below the fish. I thought this was a great way to serve this entree, because you can actually see everything you are eating separately, as well as together.

I liked the halibut because it was probably the least "fishy" tasting fish that I have had yet. The "stew" was different than I has expected, but in a good way. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even if you think you hate seafood, you just might enjoy this dish. Give it a try! Let me know if you are as surprised as I was!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day #36- Greek Salad

The Greek Salad is made with Romaine lettuce, feta cheese, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and Greek herbs. We serve it with Aegean dressing on the side, and a bread end and butter.

This salad is awesome. I wasn't sure that I would like it (surprise) but I'm a salad lover so I had to try it. I've had dolmas a few times, but I was never really sure what they were made of. Dolmas are usually made with rice or grain, onion, parsley, herbs and spices. The type we use are packed into a brine solution, giving them a slightly pickled flavor. I suggest trying them if you haven't, they are sure to surprise you.

Our Aegean dressing is made with feta cheese, olive oil, and kalamata olives as main ingredients, along with other herbs and spices. It goes great along with the flavor of the dolmas and the Greek seasoning on the salad.

This salad really surprised me, and I am certainly glad that I gave it a try. Although there isn't any meat on it, it was a really large portion of food- I honestly wasn't hungry the rest of the night. I'll order this salad again for sure, and would recommend it to any other salad lover!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day #35, Grilled Mustard and Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Today I was brave enough to have...pork. It actually took a lot of courage for me to try this, I haven't had pork since childhood, and even then I hated it.

Our grilled mustard and honey glazed pork tenderloin is an eight ounce portion of tenderloin that is glazed with mustard and honey. It's served with a braised apple and savoy cabbage, sweet corn pudding, and a rich pork demi-glace.

Tenderloin refers to the psoas major muscle along the central spine. This is the most tender part of the animal, because these muscles are used for posture, rather than locomotion. We serve our pork tenderloin medium (although it can be cooked to order), and I thought it to be very juicy, especially with the demi glace. I don't know why I was so intimidated by eating pork, it was actually quite similar to chicken. It was flavorful, but didn't have the gamey flavor that I was dreading.

The sides that come with the tenderloin are those that you can't find anywhere else. The braised apple and savoy cabbage is very visually appealing, as it is served wrapped in a cabbage leaf. It's sweet, and goes along great with both the corn pudding and the tenderloin.

When I was proofreading the new menu, I really thought that the "savoy cabbage" was a misspelling, and that it should be "savory cabbage". A savoy cabbage has a few characteristics that make it different from regular cabbage- it forms a round head just like the usual kind, but its leaves are packed more loosely, and they're thinner. The color is a deep green outside and a paler green within, and has a crinkled texture. I definitely am not a fan of cabbage, however the savoy cabbage leaves were so fine that you couldn't even really tell that it was cabbage.

I like this entree, and I would order it again...I think I might like pork tenderloin now after having this one.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day #34, #16 Cranewood Corners

The #16, or Cranewood Corners, is another sandwich that has always sounded like something I would like...yet have never tried. This sandwich is made with fresh mozzarella cheese, real Italian pesto, and tomatoes on grilled Zingerman's French Farm Bread.

The history of the sandwich comes from Mark Hamel paying tribute to an old family cottage where a lot of memories were made. His Uncle Tom bought an old barn on Lake Fenton in the 1960's, when he was a priest. After he left priesthood and got married, he turned the barn into a home. The barn is still located on the corner of Crane and Torrey roads. When he bought the barn, "Cranewood Corner" was written in large letters on the outside corner of the building, where they still remain. The current people owning the house often come in and order this sandwich as well.

This sandwich is very simple, but also very good. All the ingredients compliment each other well, and having the grilled french farm adds even more flavor.

Zingerman's French Farm Bread is made with unbromated unbleached wheat flour, water, organic whole wheat flour, and sea salt. It's made with a sourdough starter, which adds a hint of a sourdough flavor. It has thick crust and soft white chewy interior with a flavor that tastes of toasted wheat.
This sandwich is also another great vegetarian option. I absolutely loved it, and would suggest it to anyone looking for something different to try. It's a great sandwich!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day #33, #15 Veggies in a Blanket

I'm switching back to the lunch menu today- Fridays are far too busy for me to order a dinner entree and enjoy it. The #15 was next on the list of sandwiches, and it was perfect for a quick meal.

The #15 is "Veggies in a Blanket". There is no history to the name behind this sandwich- it's pretty self explanatory. It's made with leaf lettuce, sweet red onion, tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, scallion cream cheese, and cucumbers in a whole wheat Lawash wrap. Lawash wraps were first made in Pontiac, MI, and later the company moved to Dearborn, MI. I love our wraps, and I'm a firm believer that any of our sandwiches can be made into a wrap-if you haven't tried it, you should. These whole wheat wraps are amazing.

This sandwich was perfect for being on the run. It was easy to eat and I enjoyed feeling healthy with this choice. The scallion cream cheese is an interesting addition, but it went really well with the vegetables and the whole wheat wrap. It kind of reminded me of a vegetable dip mixed in the wrap with all the vegetables. I also liked the unusual addition of the artichoke hearts, they added a lot of extra flavor to the sandwich and kept it from being boring.
I think this is the first vegetarian sandwich that I have blogged about so far, and it's a very easy one to like. There's nothing scary or intimidating about it- just vegetables and cream cheese. Simple and delicious.

Day #32- Pan Seared Scallops with Goat Cheese Risotto

This is the second time I've had scallops, although this is a completely different dish from the last dinner entree that was on our fall menu. The dinner I had today was eight ounces of seared sea scallops on a bed of goat cheese, spinach, and wild mushroom risotto.

I love risotto, and I definitely miss our winter squash risotto from the last menu. I was a little nervous about this risotto, only because it is made with goat cheese. I'm not a goat cheese fan, the flavor is far too tart for me to enjoy most of the time. However, the flavor in the risotto was not overly strong, and I could taste only a hint of the goat cheese. It was different, but actually very good. That in combination with the fresh spinach and mushrooms gave this dish a very unique flavor and a variety of textures. Delicious.

Now onto the scallops. The last time I had scallops it was a new experience for me. This time I knew what to expect as far as the unique texture goes, and this made it not as scary this time around. As you can tell from the photo, the scallops were cooked to perfection. They went very well with the goat cheese risotto as well, although the whole meal was incredibly rich.

This dish was awesome. Chef Jody did a great job with the risotto, and it really is a very unique dish. The risotto is really filling, and left me not craving anything else for the rest of the evening. It's perfect if you want a meal that will fill you up and stick with you, and you will probably still be able to take leftovers home! I'll order this again for sure, and would recommend it to others as well. After this, I'm even more excited to try the rest of the summer menu!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day #31- Chicken Tosca

Today I had a new item off of our "Laundry Day's Specials". Laundry Days run Sunday through Thursday of every week, from 4pm until close and are always $12.95 each.

There are three specials on the new Laundry Day's List- Chicken Tosca, Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak Sandwich, and Summer Chopped Salad. I had the Chicken Tosca, since it was the first item listed...and I don't want to play any favorites in choosing an item to blog about.

The Chicken Tosca is made with a Parmesan cheese and egg battered chicken breast, served on a bed of angel hair pasta tossed with a light lemon, white wine, and chicken jus.

I really enjoyed this new dish. The chicken was flavorful, juicy, and cooked to perfection. The sauce on the pasta was light, and perfect for summer weather...and it was a huge portion. I'm glad to have given this entree a shot, I will definitely order it again in the future!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day #30, Lobster Roll

We now have a new dinner menu, which means 10 new items for me to try. I started off today at the top of the list with the lobster roll. We had this entree on our last summer menu, but I never had the guts to try it. It always looked really good, but I wasn't really sure about the lobster.

Our lobster roll is made with real lobster, mayo, and celery. It's served on a huge bun from Zingerman's and comes with a side of Tim's Chips.

Tim's chips are made in the state of Washington, and we have them shipped to our store in order to have a different kind of potato chip than anyone else has. The potatoes used come from Oregon, Washington, and California. They are fried in peanut and sunflower oil, and have no trans-fats. I noticed that they have a really unique texture- they are extremely crunchy, like a kettle style chip. We carry a variety of flavors: Sea Salt, Cracked Peppercorn, Sour Cream and Onion, Wasabi, Johnney's Seasoned, BBQ, Pepperjack Cheese, Original, Sweet Maui Onion, and Teriyaki. If you want to learn more go to

I had my lobster roll with my favorite chip, the Sweet Maui Onion. I really like these chips because of the sweet and salty flavor, and of course the crunchiness.

I was surprised by the lobster roll. The lobster salad was light, and incredibly easy to eat. Lobster has a unique texture that I didn't really expect, but I will know for next time. Although this is a seafood item, it didn't taste fishy at all. I liked it, and I feel like by now I should have known better than to be intimidated by it. This is a great summer dish, and I'm glad we have it on the menu again!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day #29, Norma & Floyds

The Norma and Floyd's is made with a heaping bowl of house made corned beef hash, topped with two eggs served over easy, and a slice of Jewish Rye toast. Our corned beef hash is not the same as the canned type I had growing up. Yes, I ate corned beef hash as a child, which seems surprising even to me. I loved it when I was little, but as I grew up I stopped eating it completely.

The corned beef hash in this breakfast entree is made with corned beef, celery, onion, and red and green peppers, and of course, redskin potatoes. I was incredibly surprised by how much I liked the hash. It was flavorful and satisfying, but the corned beef did not over power the dish as I assumed that it would.

The Norma and Floyd's is named after...Norma and Floyd. They were regulars at the laundry years ago, and came in like clockwork every week to buy bread and a pound of our bacon. Although this couple was not made of money, they appreciated good food and were willing to pay for quality. Mark saw this as a classic example of how you do not have to be rich or sophisticated to enjoy high quality delicious food.

I liked this breakfast. Maybe even enough to have it again, but definitely enough to appreciate it. I would recommend it to any corned-beef fans, it's a must to try for breakfast, and most definitely brings back some childhood memories!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day #28, Welcome Flavion Vax

I was looking forward to this breakfast item because it's exactly my style. The Welcome Flavion Vax is scrambled eggs with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, roasted tomatoes and fresh basil, served with a side of roasted potatoes and a slice of eight-grain three-seed toast.

The name is interesting, and hardly anyone really gets it right. Flavion is pronounced with out the "n" and the end, and Vax is pronounces as "Vox". Mark named this breakfast entree after an actual person named Flavion Vax, and the story is a little complicated, so try and stay with me...

Mark was in college at Michigan State, and on his way to study abroad in France. On the airplane on the way over he was seated next to a man named Francis Morquin. He was flying with his daughter, Marine, and his wife Maguy. The family was returning to France and they had somehow been seated apart from each other on the airplane. Mark and Francis talked throughout the flight and Francis told him to call when he was settled in. Mark did, and he visited the family's home and they became long-distance friends. They still keep in touch, and the family even attended his wedding this past June.

The Flavion Vax is named after Marine's son (Flavion Vax). The breakfast item was created around the same time that he was born, and Mark thought it was a good name for the breakfast. It certainly is memorable to all of our guests, and it really has a great history behind it that no one knows.

I loved this breakfast and it is most definitely my favorite so far. It's perfect for those who like their food flavorful, yet simple. Plus, I'm a huge fan of the eight-grain three-seed bread, which is made with wheat, rye, corn, oats, buckwheat, rice, millet, buckwheat, flax seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, and a bit of honey. It is one of Zingerman's most popular loafs, and it is incredibly dense and delicious. I will order the Welcome Flavion Vax for breakfast again, and I really can't believe that I never ventured to try it before- I was really missing out!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day #27, #14 Calling Mabel

Today's dinner was the #14 Calling Mabel. This sandwich was named after Mark Hamel's mother, Elaine Mabel Hamel. It was a must to name a sandwich after his mother, and he picked this one because of it's simplicity and popularity.

The #14 is made with our house made tuna salad (tuna, mayo, celery), and Vermont Grafton cheddar on grilled Zingerman's Jewish rye bread.

Although this sandwich is incredibly simple, it was one that I have been dreading. Really dreading. More so probably than the liverwurst or even the pastrami, because with tuna I know what to expect, and with the others I never really know. I'm going to start by saying I used to be a tuna-lover, when I was six years old. No one ever believes this, but really it's true. Somewhere along the line though, I stopped eating tuna and added it to my "dislike" list.

When my sandwich was made, it came out of the oven with the cheese all melted and gooey, and it really did look like something I might like. The picture I took doesn't even do it justice, this sandwich really looked good. However, after trying it, I am still haven't made it back to being a tuna lover. I still dislike tuna, and I don't think any sandwich will change my mind about that.

I do see the sandwich ordered all the time, so the "tuna lovers" out there must think it is a fantastic sandwich. I can see why it has earned it's popularity, however...I don't think it is for me, at least not yet.