Visit from the Dowes

It was another one of those weekends where the time just flew by. Today’s post will have to be more food-centric than life-centric, because I forgot to take pictures of people. Oops!

I got up early Saturday morning to get my hair color retouched, hit Goodwill for my Halloween outfit (Robin Sparkles), cleaned, and went grocery shopping, finishing up just as Dave’s parents were pulling in the driveway. Was the last time I saw them really last Christmas? Oof. We had plenty to catch up on–my mother-in-law Kathy had taken a trip to Europe with Dave’s sister and her wife, and she brought back some lovely souvenirs for us, including a lovely Celtic necklace, a Guinness candle, beer, and whiskey.

We had a very foodie afternoon; we started at O’so Tap House for some beer samples, stopped at Great Northern Distilling for a cocktail, and then meandered over to Father Fats for an amazing dinner. We tried to take his parents here last year, but it was so packed that there was a huge wait. This time, we bit the bullet and went at 5! No trouble getting in then.

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We started with Crispy Plantain and Yuca Chips which were served with guacamole and mango salsa. I’ve had plantain chips in the past that I didn’t care for, but these were fried perfectly crisp and paired wonderfully with the guacamole and mango salsa.

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Next up, New Orleans Firecracker Shrimp with grilled bread. True to its name, the shrimp was very spicy, but the broth served with it was excellent, especially with the grilled bread.

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Our wild card was Creole Cornmeal-Fried Crawfish and Gator. Dave wasn’t a big fan of this one, but I really liked it. The gator tasted just like chicken! I thought that the veggie slaw and remoulade it was served with was even better than the gator.

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My pick was Lamb Meatballs with cucumber salad and tzatiki sauce. Lamb may be pretty expensive, but remind me why I don’t make tzatiki sauce more often. I love it! I usually don’t care for meatballs, but these were wonderful–jam-packed with flavor, juicy, and perfect with the sauce.

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Up next, Craisin Molasses-Glazed Pork Belly served with butternut squash and cauliflower. Dave and I weren’t sure at first what the squash was until Dave’s dad filled us in, and then we promptly stopped eating it. Ha ha. I guess we’ll just never be squash lovers. The pork belly was wonderful, though.

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Last but not least, Chicken Leg Confit Salad served with spinach, goat cheese, and fig jam. Since confit is such a heavy dish, I like that it was paired with plenty of fresh spinach and fig jam for counterbalance.

For dessert, Dave and I split the Salted Caramel Parfait.

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With layers of devil’s food cake, caramel, and toffee, it was a perfect end to the meal.

Dave’s parents went to check in at their hotel after dinner, so we elected to walk home from the restaurant since it was such a beautiful night. We ended the night with plenty of conversation and a few episodes of one of Dave’s favorite internet shows: My Drunk Kitchen.

We had a very leisurely Sunday morning before going to Emy J’s for brunch.

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I ordered a Matcha Latte, which is my go-to drink at Emy J’s–iced in the summer, hot in the winter. I love the leaf on top of my beverage–so pretty!

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I ordered Huevos Rancheros for breakfast with a side of wheat toast. I loved that it was served on top of a small tortilla so by the time I got to the bottom, I could eat it like a piece of pizza.

Dave’s parents had a long drive back home, so they left soon after breakfast, giving me plenty of time to play in the yard and in the kitchen.

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This was the only pepper we got from our pepper plant this year…and it was supposed to be a red bell pepper!

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I was really happy with the amount of Brussels sprouts we got, though. Brussels are notoriously hard to grow in warm weather, and, while they aren’t huge, I’m sure they’ll be like popcorn after they’re roasted and perfect with some gnocchi and blue cheese sauce.

Dave asked me to make some soft pretzels, so I made four…and then made a pretzel dough pizza crust as well.

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Here it is boiling in the baking soda bath.

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And post-baked. I made this pretzel crust half whole-wheat, so the dough was a little dense to work with, but the bread man helped me turn it into something beautiful.

I decided to make a caramelized onion and mushroom pizza with gorgonzola cheese and a little good balsamic drizzled on top.

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It tasted as good as it sounds.IMG_7727

Spinach salad with roasted broccoli on the side, topped with diced hardboiled egg.

Dave and I had a good grocery shopping trip on Saturday, so I’m excited that I have so many good ingredients to work with the next few weeks. I even did meal prep last night, so, if it turns out, you’ll see a recipe for slow-cooked apple cider chicken on the blog tomorrow!

 

The Art of Mixology

Hey, guys! Thanks for sticking around. My computer has been giving me a lot of problems lately, and Dave finally convinced me to let him wipe the hard drive for the second (third?) time. Now it’s clean as a whistle….meaning I have to once again replace all my programs, music, pictures, etc. Eh, at least it works.

I haven’t been taking any food pictures since I knew I couldn’t share them with you, but I would like to share my experience last weekend with you. A few of my friends planned to come visit us on Saturday, and I practically begged my brother and sister to come the Friday before. As you’ve probably figured out, my siblings are some of my best friends, and if more than a few weeks pass without me seeing them, I go a little crazy.

They came!

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Since Dave built us such a lovely fire pit, we dedicated Saturday morning to find some firewood. We scored big at a house our friends remembered seeing near their old apartment complex.

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Sadly, we could only fit 1/3 of it in the back of Serenity. Now, I’m hoping the guy remembers us so we can pick up the rest at some point.

When the rest of the gang arrived late Saturday afternoon, we headed straight to a place I’d been eyeing up lately: Great Northern Distilling. I read about it in one of Stevens Point’s local newspapers, and though most people only think of wine-tasting, I remember how much fun my mom, aunt, and I had touring a distillery in Door County a few years back.

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I misunderstood that they were giving tours already (they aren’t), but I was only a little disappointed. Just viewing the inside was tour enough for the time being.

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Distillery

My kind of artwork.

Great Northern Distilling’s mission is “Make great liquor,” and they’re off to a great start. Though they will eventually have vodka, gin, brandy, and whiskey, they were showcasing their local potato vodka the night we arrived.

First, we were given a sample.

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Dave and I don’t drink vodka regularly (except in Bloody Marys on Sunday), but this vodka may change my mind. It was incredibly smooth with a pleasant and lightly sweet finish. I have never envisioned sipping vodka, but if I did, this would be it.

The menu was quirky, inspired, and, well, just plain delicious-looking.

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It took me awhile to decide on a beverage, but the pickle-lover in me simply had to test the “Fill McDill.”

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It was a summer garden in a glass. Lucky for me, attacking the mixology bar with ten other friends meant I got to taste-test everything on the menu. I couldn’t decide what my favorite was, but the cocktail with the most show was definitely the “Shirley Temple of Doom.”

The owner individually bruleed the cherries for every “Shirley Temple of Doom” right in front of us.

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And he was a good old sport about it, too.

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Saving the best for last:

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We had a splendid time checking out Great Northern Distilling, and I’m very excited to keep taste-testing as they roll out more liquor…especially my beloved gin. GND, if you’re listening, I like my gin in a martini glass: shaken, not stirred.

If you’re ever in Stevens Point, I highly recommend checking out Great Northern Distilling. You won’t regret it.

After we made our way back from the distillery, the rest of the night was spent hanging around our fire pit.

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Magical.

I asked my friend Emily to take a picture of my siblings and I, but we got photo-bombed by our friend Dan.

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Oh, well, he’s pretty much a member of the family, anyway.