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Levon The Foodie

A gal whose obsessions lie within fat, sugar, carbs, caffeine, and beverages that could strengthen the heart or seal up a womb.

Archive for the tag “Chicken”

The Bird Circling the Yard in SoBe – Yardbird, Miami Beach

My first assumption about the popular south beach restaurant Yardbird was – attractive food in a trendy, prohibition’esque bar with a modern twist, that taste wise would be a far cry from the heavily seasoned, cholesterol heightening, soul caressing southern cooking that I once knew before macaroni came in five artisanal cheeses.  I figured this was another South Beach interpretation of Marcus Samuelsonn’s Red Rooster in Harlem, minus the NY accents, along with every other emerging fine dining, southern restaurant I’ve been to in the past year three years.  I had all kinds of assumptions about what the food should taste like but probably wouldn’t, and I expected the price points to resemble that of a drastically inflated soul shack minus the soul, with a slight adjustment to the presentation.

My first interactions were with the friendly, and uber hip bar staff, along with the perky bus boys floating around, and the even keeled hosts.  Everyone had a pleasant and charming demeanor.  The restaurant itself had a ton of energy and zest.  This possibly due to the overflow of patrons from the NBA Finals and the ABFF (American Black Film Festival).  I caught it at that perfect time of the day when they’re in the midst of transitioning over from lunch to dinner, entitling you to that perfect spot at the bar before the dinner crowd starts to trickle in.

I have to admit, Yardbird was pretty refreshing.  It offered the ambience, the décor,

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the stereotypical beautiful south beach people, and the unique, damn near artistic, menu.  The menu was a really eclectic twist on traditional southern cuisine.  It offered items such as the chicken meatloaf drenched in parsnip puree, sweat tea brined southern ribs, signature fried chicken n’ watermelon and cheddar cheese waffles.

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Photo Courtesy of Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

The side fixings and appetizers included items such as chicken and sweet potato dumplings, fried green tomato BLT, and housemade strawberries and ricotta.  Along with my favorite, the macaroni and cheese with about a million different cheeses.  After having an extensive conversation with the bartender about the 99 different types of bourbons they had on deck, me being the black sheep that I am, went with the handful of vodka selections they had and ordered the Ketel One Lemon Drop vodka martini.

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To even further compliment the theme, the bartender went to the back to freshly squeeze some lemonade to top my drink.  Only I would go to Mexico and order rum, so this not so rare occasion of me ordering vodka at an old school, down south, whiskey house themed restaurant in the middle of South Beach, should not be surprising at all.  Need-less-to-say, my martini was perfect, and even provided further inspiration for my entrée.  Having dined at my share of upscale southern style restaurants, I couldn’t wait to see whether this place was going to truly defeat the odds and provide a unique yet true to the tradition southern experience, or if it was going to come off like the rest of the upscale trendy southern cuisine ***clears throat fancy soul food establishments..  I secretly hoped that it wouldn’t live up to the hype, giving me ammunition to write an article on how soul food has become a lost and over-gentrified art, etc etc.  However, after seeing and tasting my fried chicken and macaroni and cheese from Yardbird… I knew it simply wasn’t going to be one of those writes.  My food was absolutely delicious.  It was.  It respectfully gave homage to the traditional art of dipping heavily battered chicken into a pan of piping hot oil and being solely responsible for the ultimate demise of one’s ability to do anything for the next two hours.

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It was perfectly seasoned and prepared.  It had the right combination of seasonings perfectly married together, was beautifully presented, colorful, flavorful, rich, and filling.  The fried chicken was tasty, the macaroni was exquisite, and it was just enough.  Portion-wise, it wasn’t fine dining to the point where you have to pick at it for an hour in order to secretly fill yourself up.  It was truly a good meal.  Overall, with the super savvy wait staff and bartenders, it was truly a divine experience.  Thank you Alyssa, and thank you Imani.  I am glad you made the recommendation.  It was an absolute treat, and I would definitely give it a Levon’s Top Obsession recommendation if you’re ever in South Beach for the summer.

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Happy Hour Obsession of The Week – Cadillac Ranch, National Harbor MD

I experienced one of the happiest hours of the twenty four in my day at the National Harbor in Fort Washington, MD a few nights ago.  Nicely situated at the end of one of their massive bars at Cadillac Ranch, my fellow FPICs and I quickly organized the group selections over the next 20 min of the rapidly ending happy hour.  Despite the fact that of one of its oppositions competing for the HHOOTW crown, had probably one of the most innovative and healthy pizza combos known to man, it lacked one thing – Jarryd.  Cadillac Ranch not only has excellent food and a decent wine selection for the price, it also has a very charming bartender.  The super savvy and clever Jarryd possessed the kind of charisma, and unobtrusive yet timely presence to keep you coming back to that same spot at the bar over and over again.

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Mini Fish Tacos – Blackened tilapia in mini tortillas with shredded cheese, lime-cilantro cabbage, tomatoes and chipotle ranch drizzle $5

The fish tacos were some kind of amazing.  I have to say.  I couldn’t stop raving over them and they seemed to inevitably segue into every other conversation.  The Sweet Chili Boneless Wings $5 were a pretty good choice as well.   They also had a relatively generous offering of flatbreads in the happy hour deal.  We tried the Buffalo Chicken Flatbread $5 with grilled buffalo chicken, mozzarella, julienned celery, scallions and bleu cheese.  It was pretty awesome.

With the well balanced quantity vs quality factor of the menu items, the recession-proof pricing, the interesting selection, and the superb customer service, you’d either be a fool or in recession denial to ignore this place.  I my friend am neither..

 

 

Impromptu El Torito Stop in Bakersfield, CA

After an epic fail of driving all the way out to a popular Bakersfield foodie favorite – Wool Growers, only to find out that it was closed for dinner, I ended up at an old faithful. El Torito is a very popular chain in CA and actually has pretty good food. Tonight was no different. To accommodate my massive appetite…

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I naturally went with their most massive appetizer.  It consisted of Adobo Chicken & Avocado Rolls, Habanerno Wings,  Taquitos Rancheros, cheese quesadilla, beef tostaditas, and guacamole.  In addition to the tray of Mexican awesomeness, Tony added a bit of flair to the Latin cuisine moment with his superb bartending appeal.

So if you ever venture out into Bakersfield prior to 6:00pm and the “wool” is not “growing” on the eastside and you can take Mexican over Basque, then play it safe and head over to El Torito.

 

Somali Chicken Suqaar Portland Moment

During my recent visit to DC I spent some time on U Street, and inevitably the neighborhood full of Ethiopian businesses made me think of my Chicken Suqaar moment in Portland, OR.  NE Portland has some of the best East African food I’ve had.   This of course being neck and neck with U Street & Adams Morgan in DC, Fairfax in LA, and various pockets of Charlotte and Minneapolis, but still..  I visited a restaurant on Ethiopian Row on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd in Portland and was beyond pleased.  The food smelled authentic, the English was minimal, and I felt like at that moment I had arrived in international culinary bliss.  The food was excellent and felt at home with the family-run and inviting vibe.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of this restaurant, nor do they have a website unfortunately.  However I can tell you that whoever took over Safari’s or Horn of Africa on MLK was responsible for this amazing Somali style Chicken Suqaar dish. 

My recollection of this restaurant being where Safari’s used to be, will serve as a point of reference when I return, and will help to guide you if you’re ever in Portland in search of authentic East African food..

I was able to find a recipe with the closest ingredients to what was used at the anonymous restaurant on Ryan and Brianna’s Bon Appetit site.  I will forewarn you though, this is not a boil the rice while you saute the chicken with your favorite two seasonings 15 min moment.  Granted once you get the hang of it, I’m sure it won’t seem as rigorous.  Let’s just say this dish is good for a ‘I refuse to leave the house’ weekend.  Well that is if you actually have all of these ingredients in stock.  If you do, that’s actually pretty impressive..  I know for a fact I don’t.  The spice rack from Target that I acquired years ago hardly counts.  Fresh spices are key.  As of matter of fact I still have Marcus Samuelsson who knows a thing or two about Ethiopian cooking, to thank for the inspiration behind stepping up my spice game.

So anyway, here it is… The recipe for this wonderful Somalian dish.

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