Thursday, December 30, 2010

BREAKFAST AT CHRISTOPH'S ON THE WATER

In my search for the best breakfast, hubby and I ate at Christoph's, located in the Hilton Hotel, 100 Middle Street, in downtown New Bern.  The above photo was taken at our table and overlooked the Hilton patio area and boats.  The photo of the pool area below is from another window.
Christoph's is a sophisticated restaurant with a classically trained chef, Tom Pristash, but you can come in casual dress.  After all, it is a hotel restaurant and, as such, is used to catering to hotel guests who are dressed casually.  What sets Christoph's apart is their menu and the excellent food that is served here.  Here's a sampling of breakfast menu items:

Two Eggs - Any Style
   Choice of Crisp Bacon, Sausage Links or Griddled Ham
Skillet Potatoes and Choice of Toast   7

Riverfront Omelet
Three Eggs & Cheddar-Jack Cheese folded with Choice or Combination of
Ham, Bacon, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions, Peppers, Tomato or Spinach
Skillet Potatoes and Choice of Toast   8

Eggs Benedict
Toasted English Muffin, Griddled Country Ham, Poached Eggs
Skillet Potatoes and Classic Hollandaise   9

Southern Breakfast
Apple Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Grits
Topped with Two Eggs Any Style and Choice of Toasted   7

You'll also find French toast, pancakes and waffles along with specialty items such as Florentine Turkey Wrap, Shrimp Eggs and Grits, Crabby Bay Breakfast Melt, Breakfast Croissant and Sweet Brioche French Toast.  And if you don't want to wait to order from the menu, then by all means help yourself to their wonderful breakfast buffet which includes hot and cold food items and beverages for $12.95.  

Hubby Guy ordered two eggs over light with bacon, skillet potatoes and toast and said it was the best breakfast he's had in New Bern.  The bacon was crisp and the eggs were perfectly cooked.  Nothing was greasy, and it came to the table hot.
I ordered my usual, one egg and 1 piece of toast.  Before I could say how I wanted the egg cooked, the server asked me, "Would you like that poached?"  And when she brought the order to the table, it was one egg and one slice of toast, exactly what I ordered.  It's hard to imagine that a poached egg could be anything sublime, but this poached egg was perfect in every way.
There is no kitchen presence at Christoph's -- no banging of trays, no kitchen odors -- the dining area is totally separate and feels special.  There's plenty of room to be comfortable and it's a quiet, relaxed atmosphere.  The food is delicious, the service is good, and there's a view.  What more could you want?

Right now, I'd like to stop my search for the best breakfast place in New Bern and just concentrate on enjoying more breakfasts at Christoph's.  But to be fair to other eateries, I'll keep looking.   Somehow, I think I'll be coming back here.

Visit Christoph's website for photos and a complete list of menu items -- Click here

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

BREAKFAST AT IHOP

IHOP, located on the corner of McCarthy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards in New Bern, is a popular destination for pancake lovers.  Their breakfast menu is impressive, with a list of pancakes, waffles, omelets, crepes, egg dishes and combos.
Beverages are a bit pricey, but breakfast items are competitively priced.

Hubby Guy ordered the 2x2x2 -- 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 bacon strips.  At $6.59, it was reasonably priced.

Not much of a breakfast eater, I ordered 1 poached egg and 1 slice of toast.  It wasn't on the menu.  In fact the menu didn't mention eggs by themselves, and there was no ala carte mentioned like they do at Cracker Barrel and some other restaurants.  Is IHOP geared to big eaters, or are they just trying to push the bigger items?  Our server was very pleasant and accommodating, and said there would be no trouble with just 1 egg and 1 slice of toast.  We ordered coffee to have something to sip while we waited.  The coffee was just barely warm in the carafe.

My breakfast arrived, and it contained 1 slice of toast and 2 poached eggs.  The server assured me I would only be charged for 1 egg, but then why were two brought to the table?  Someone has to absorb the loss of one egg and it will show up as higher prices sometime down the road.  My rye toast and egg were good and I was impressed that I could order a poached egg at all -- just try doing that in some of the other breakfast locations.  Guy's pancakes were lukewarm at best, but he loved his eggs and bacon.

IHOP makes great eggs and I love that their food is not greasy.  If they could just get the food to the table hot....  I've heard from others that they consistently serve lukewarm food.

I'm still searching for New Bern's best breakfast place.  In the meantime, I saw my hubby clipping an IHOP coupon out of the newspaper.  I asked him why, since he had been unhappy with his cold pancakes.  "The eggs are good there," was his reply.

IHOP opens Sunday through Thursday at 6AM.  Friday and Saturday they are open 24 hours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

GUY'S HOT ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES WITH GRAVY AND HORSERADISH CHEESE SPREAD


My non-cooking hubby is at it again.  He was dreaming about a sandwich he used to get many years ago when he commuted to Philly, so he retrieved a recipe from lanascooking.com.  The biggest problem he had was getting the roast beef sliced thick enough.  Since Boars Head roast beef was on sale at Harris Teeter, he decided to go there, but must have gotten a new deli person.  He asked her for one pound of beef, sliced 8 to a pound.  She gave him 1-1/2 lbs. and charged him for all of it.  He didn't know that he didn't have to take 1-1/2 lbs. since he only asked for 1 lb.  I threw out the other 1/2 lb because we just couldn't eat all of it.  This is why men should not go to the grocery store.  Only kidding.  Live and learn.

This recipe is fairly easy since you use deli roast beef.  It's also quite delicious -- just ask our Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks who chowed down in double time.  These sandwiches are intended to be served open faced, but one of our qb's cut his in half and folded it over to make a pick-up sandwich.
Instead of making the horseradish cream that is part of this recipe, Guy found a horseradish cheese spread at The Village Butcher.  He spread it on the bread before the beef went on.  It was easy and delicious!  Lots of shortcuts here, but this recipe is long on flavor.

Guy's Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches with Gravy and Horseradish Cheese Spread
Adapted from lanascooking.com
Rating:  10 out of 10
Click for PRINTABLE PAGE
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread
1 large or 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 lb. thick-sliced deli rare roast beef (approx. 1/8")
1 loaf Italian boule (crusty round loaf), sliced

In large, heavy skillet, melt the Smart Balance over medium-high heat.  Add onions, salt and pepper.  Cook till onions wilt and begin to caramelize, stirring often.  When it looks like onions are getting a little sticky, cover pan, reduce heat to very low, and let the onions continue to cook down and caramelize for about 20 more minutes.  The browner the onions are the browner your gravy will be, so let them really cook down well.  Just be careful not to burn them.  Caramelizing is not burning.

Take cover off when onions are caramelized and add 2 Tbsp. parsley; cook a few minutes longer.  Sprinkle flour over onions and cook a few minutes to brown and cook the flour.  Slowly add broth, whisking constantly till gravy is thickened and bubbling.  Add roast beef to pan and lower heat.  Stir the roast beef to coat it with gravy; cover pan; reduce heat to lowest setting.
In the meantime, place 4 large slices of bread under broiler.  Heat till nicely toasted.  With tongs, lift toast from broiler and place, toasted side down, onto serving plate.  Spread each piece of bread with horseradish cheese spread and top with beef and gravy.  Serve this open faced, or cut in half and serve as a pick-up sandwich.  Yield:  4 generous servings

Sunday, December 12, 2010

JOANN'S CRESCENT ROLL CHRISTMAS TREE APPETIZERS


Our friend, Joann, sent two beautiful appetizers to the Sunday afternoon quarterbacks, and did they ever love them!  These veggie/fruit treats got gobbled up pretty fast.  What's not to love?  Crescent rolls form the base of the tree.  It's spread with Ranch dip, then topped with veggies.  The fruit tree is spread with a mix of cream cheese and fruit-flavored yogurt, then topped with fruit.  A great idea for party fare.

Joann's Crescent Roll Christmas Tree Appetizers
Rating:  10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  (for 1 tree)  2 cans of crescent rolls
About 1 cup of Ranch dip (or 1/2 cup cream cheese + 1/2 cup fruit-flavored yogurt)
About 2-3 cups of small veggies (or fruit)
1 square of cheddar cheese cut into star shape for tree top.
Optional:  About 1/3 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese for top of veggie tree

Heat oven to 375F.  If desired, place a sheet of parchment paper onto baking sheet to make removal of tree easier.  Open crescent rolls, but do not separate.  Instead, slice each cylinder into 8 slices (16 slices total from two cans).  

Place slices on baking sheet in form of tree.  (Starting at the top with 1 slice, place the next two slices underneath and touching, and so forth, till you get to five.  Use the remaining slice to form tree base.)  Bake according to package instructions; cool on baking sheet.  (If using parchment, just slide parchment onto wire rack to cool.  The tree can then be transferred onto a serving plate or tray and the parchment reused.)  

Spread tree with desired dip (Ranch for veggies, cream cheese + yogurt for fruit).  Decorate tree with desired veggies or fruit -- be creative!  If desired, sprinkle finely shredded cheddar cheese over veggies.  Top tree with cheddar cheese star.  

The trees can be eaten by cutting or by pulling apart the crescent circles.  Either way, these are delicious!

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    COUNTRY BISCUIT RESTAURANT

    I'm on a quest to find the best breakfast place in New Bern.  Hubby and I started at The Country Biscuit.  They advertise regularly in the Sun Journal and in our neighborhood newspaper, the Greenbrier Gazette.  The building doesn't look like much from the outside, and the location is not the best either.  Inside is no better.  It resembles a makeshift operation.  Okay, so no ambience.  We're after good food and good prices.  The place is packed on a Saturday morning around 9:00, and that seemed like a good sign.

    The menu is quite extensive with lots of offerings, but nothing is really cheap.  So much for prices.  The food must be great then, or so we thought.  Guy ordered the Country Gentleman's Special for $7.50.
    He said everything tasted fine, but the sausage was a very unappetizing sickly grey color, and the plate was just plopped on the table diner style.
    I ordered one scrambled egg with grits and a biscuit.
    The egg was "scrambled" before it was fried and was overcooked.  The grits were instant with no flavor, and   the bacon was just okay, but slightly greasy.
    The biscuit was warm but had been reheated.  It was hard, dried out and inedible.
    I'm not seeing much of anything at Country Biscuit:  no atmosphere, no serving grace, no presentation, no view.  Prices are too high for the quality (or lack of) and food is subpar at best.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    SNAPPERZ

    Morehead City has a new kid on the block:  Snapperz Grill and Steam Bar3710 Arendell Street.  Their website says that Snapperz is "HOME OF THE STEAMPOT" --  your one stop restaurant for steamed oysters, clams, crab and shrimp, also serving any kind of seafood, steak entrees, salads, big burgers and sandwiches complete with garnish bar, beer, wine and mixed beverages. Recently, hubby and I decided to try it for lunch since we were already in Morehead City.  


    Specials are listed on a chalkboard as you enter.


    The restaurant is small but has lots of charm.  Booths are all named after fish and have photos and stats on each fish on the inside walls.  
    We sat in Wahoo Alley.
    We got to Snapperz around 11:30 and it was already starting to fill up.  
    I ordered the crabcake appetizer, because I didn't want any bread.
    The crabcake had no flavor and had a good amount of bread filling.  The mango salsa was very forgettable and the coleslaw was just barely okay.  (I stole some of Guy's french fries which were good.)
    Guy ordered the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich on special.  The crab had no flavor and the roll was blah.  The french fries were good.
    By the time we left, the place was packed and everyone looked very happy.  Snapperz is wildly popular, but we don't intend to go back.  Our favorite Morehead City restaurant is still Chefs 105, where there's lots of atmosphere and all the food is cooked to perfection --their crab cakes have no filler and lots of flavor.    

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    GUY'S MUSSELS MARINARA


    My Sicilian hubby loves mussels marinara.  So when Harris Teeter had 3-lb. bags of wild mussels recently, I bought a bag for him.  He made the mussels himself and enjoyed them immensely.  I'm passing on his easy recipe to all mussels lovers.

    Guy's Mussels Marinara
    Rating:  8.5 out of 10
    Click for PRINTABLE PAGE


    INGREDIENTS:  1 (3-lb.) bag of wild mussels
    1 jar of Bertolli marinara sauce (or other marinara sauce of choosing)
    2 baguettes, toasted

    Rinse mussels well in cold water, scrubbing them with a stiff brush and removing any beards.  Discard broken shells.  Place mussels in a large pot and pour the marinara sauce over them.  Cover and heat on medium-high heat till sauce is bubbling and mussels open up.  Discard any mussels that stay closed.  Serve immediately with toasted baguettes.  Yield:  2 dinner-size servings, or 6 appetizer servings