What are your favorite foods?
February 16, 2005 11:53 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite foods? [+]

My girl told me the other day that she's feeling tired of steak and seafood, and it made me think about my own favorite foods. I was surprised to realize that I really don't have many, and I suspect the reason is lack of exploration. I love a well-prepared steak or shrimp dish, and I appreciate just about every kind of ethnic cuisine I've encountered, but nothing leaps out as "favorite."

Please help us escape culinary ennui. What are the dishes you'd walk a mile for? What are your favorite dishes to cook at home (bonus points for recipe links!) What are your world-class treats for major occasions? What are your favorite standbys? Thanks in advance!
posted by Jonasio to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We live in Austin, if anyone would also like to recommend a restaurant. But remember the food!
posted by Jonasio at 11:57 AM on February 16, 2005

Why worry about favourites? A bit of what you fancy does you good. Not having access to stuff when I fancy it is a pain though, and I say that as someone who's just moved from a city with very good curry supply to a place with a one take-away. I'm looking forward to trying the seafood here though (repeatedly). Anyway, tend to cook low-fat stuff at home, lots of fresh veggies, not much meat. Tend to worry less about this when I go out.
posted by biffa at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2005

Most of my culinary awakenings have involved entire cuisines, not specific dishes. I’ll never forget the first time I tried Indian cuisine – the spices and food combinations were like nothing I’d encountered before. If you haven’t explored Indian food, I highly recommend trying it. It’s probably better to start in restaurants before making your own; perhaps someone who knows Austin can make some restaurant recommendations.
posted by boomchicka at 12:13 PM on February 16, 2005

SUSHI and Soul Food. Not necessarily together.
posted by trbrts at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2005

Are you asking favorite foods, or places to go? Because my favorite food is grilled cheese served with a hot cup of coffee/chicory blend. My favorite place to eat is the Peter Pank diner on Rt 9 in Sayerville, NJ.
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:17 PM on February 16, 2005

One of my favorite meals from a local Greek restaurant in Minneapolis (sorry, can't help you out with TX restaurants) consists of meat dolmades (stuffed vine leaves, which also have a vegetarian variant) served hot and covered with an egg lemon sauce (which is also used in the chicken egg lemon soup they serve on the side), plus potatoes & pitas. It's delcious, filling, and almost what I'd call comfort food.

There are also a number of Indian dishes that I love, but I am terrible at remembering the names; I need a menu in front of me or a picture. heh. Sorry.
posted by ibidem at 12:22 PM on February 16, 2005

Favorite food, recipe or cuisine?

If you are looking for restaurants, check out a review guide that has them listed in your area. They are usually categorized by cuisine.
It seems you will try anything. Let the girlfriend pick the restaurant and she will have no complaints. Plus if all goes well she will feel special.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:29 PM on February 16, 2005


1 1b chicken (you can use more or shrimp)
1 or 2 small cans of bamboo shoots – drained.
1 can coconut milk
2 TB’s Green Curry Paste
1/3 C chicken stock (from boul. Cube fine)
2 TB brown sugar
3 TB fish oil (or sauce) find it by the curry
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Pour can of Coconut milk in sauce pan and add the curry paste – let simmer 8 minutes (or so)
Meanwhile, slice the chicken thin and cook on a skillet with 1-2 TBs oil. Don’t overcook.
Add to the saucepan, the chicken stock, the brown sugar, the fish oil, and the basil. Heat up and then add the chicken and the bamboo shoots. Let cook for 10 minutes or so – if you let reduce too much you can add more chicken stock.
Serve over RICE. Prepare to enjoy and possibly cry from joy (or the heat).
posted by brheavy at 12:32 PM on February 16, 2005

Tired of steak? Chicken-fry it!

Country Fried Steak
* 1 pound round steak
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 2 tablespoons bacon grease or Canola oil
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 2 cups milk
Trim fat from meat and cut into 4 equal serving pieces. Pound steak with a mallet to tenderize it. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow, wide bowl and dredge each piece of meat in it, coating well on both sides. Heat grease or oil until hot but not smoking in a large, heavy skillet with a lid.
Brown the meat pieces on both sides,turn heat down a bit, cover and let steak fry like chicken for 15 minutes, until done. Remove cover and let steak crisp for about 5 minutes. Take steak from the pan and drain. Leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings and all the browned flecks of crust in the pan.Turn the heat a bit lower, sprinkle flour into the drippings and stir to keep from lumping until it browns slightly. Slowly add milk, stirring. Let it cook over low heat until thick,about 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and add seasoning, if needed. Serve gravy on the side. Makes 4 servings

posted by mds35 at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2005

Cheese souffle for the special occasion. Not as hard as it seems, and quite impressive when successful.

If you can find the little cans of thai curry paste nearby, that makes an incredibly easy and delicious meal. Add a can of coconut milk, some veggies, and some chicken or fish.
posted by mzurer at 12:47 PM on February 16, 2005

Stuff we keep going back to - (in Austin)

Curras (Central Mexican)
Zen (Japanese Food Fast!)
Delaware Subs for Cheesesteaks
Whole Foods / Central Market (for anything)
Korea House (for sushi, miso soup, and bulgoki)
Maudies (Tex Mex)
Tan Tan or Mekong River for Vietnamese
Mangia for chicago style pizza
amys for ice cream
Artz for Ribs
Magnolia for veggie stuff
Clay Pit or Star of India for indian.
posted by jopreacher at 12:49 PM on February 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

Dosai, Phing Sha (Tibetan Mung Bean Noodles w/Chicken), and Biscuits with Sausage Milk Gravy.

And eating tomatoes off the vine like apples.
posted by saladin at 12:50 PM on February 16, 2005

Alborz (Persian) in the Grapevine shopping center at Steck and MoPac is pretty tasty, too.
posted by cdavis at 12:52 PM on February 16, 2005

"Greek" pizza (feta, spinach)

coq au vin

Chinese cold noodle salad
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 12:58 PM on February 16, 2005

Indian food and sushi were both revelations for me and I love them so much. I used to think that BBQ was just hot dogs and hamburgers until I moved to Texas, and my eyes were opened.

Austin is chock-full of great restaurants, as you probably know. Below are some of our favourite places, though some aren't exactly exotic I thought I'd include them anyhow. Still trying to find a decent steakhouse that isn't Texas Land & Cattle.

-Indian: Star of India (good paneer, samosas and erm, kofta kashmiri I think the dish is called) and Sarovar
-Sushi: Umi, Koreana (haven't explored much of the sushi offerings sadly, since wife doesn't care for it)
-Korean: Korea House, Koreana
-Burgers: HUT'S (my fave is the Chubby Chuck)
-BBQ: Rudy's
-Mexican: Curra's (molle enchiladas)
-Breakfastonia: Omlettry, Kerbey Lane
-Italian: while I've never been, I've heard raves about Bucca di Beppo (probably spelled that wrong).
-Eclectic, high brow stuff: Castle Hill Cafe (probably my favourite restaurant in town) and Z'Tejas
-Thai: Thai Spice (charcoal pork) and Thai Kitchen (cheap but good)
-Vietnamese: Pho Công Lý (good pho [a giant soup] and great spring rolls)
-Pizza: Mangia and Conan's
-Ice cream: Amy's
-Indonesian: Java Noodle
-Comfort food: Dot's (currently being rebuilt after a fire, I think) and Hoover's
-Cajun: Evangeline Cafe and Crescent City Beignets
-Doughnuts: Mrs. Johnson's and to a lesser extent River City Donuts
-Middle Eastern: Alborz Persian Cuisine (a little too skewer-oriented but good).
posted by picea at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

I had a similar experience as boomchicka when it came to cooking Indian food. There are a couple excellent Indian restaurants in Seattle, and I'd been eating it for several years, but I recently tried cooking it on my own. I ended up getting good results! I used curry mixes and simmer sauces to help bootstrap things, I'm not confident enough to buy the spices and mix the curry powder myself. I think part of cooking good Indian food is getting the naan right. I love toasting it in a cast iron skillet, it's so tasty. A favorite winter meal of mine is to cook up some cream of tomato soup, grill a few pieces of naan, and dip the naan in the soup as I eat. The charred crustiness of the naan goes so well with the soup.

It sounds like you've been having lots of steak/fish lately. You don't necessarily have to get exotic with the food you're cooking, you could buy a homestyle cookbook and try casseroles, stews, etc. That might provide the variety you're looking for.

How much time do you like to spend when you cook dinner? There's lot of cuisines out there, but some require more labor than others, or more attention to detail. I'm still nervous about trying French cooking at home, although I dig it if I'm at a restaurant. Italian isn't too bad, and you can do things like chicken parmesan, baked eggplant, baked ziti, lasanga, etc versus the normal spaghetti. Or take the Wulfgang Puck angle and make your own pizzas but with interesting toppings like bbq chicken and red onions.

As far as favorite food for eating out, sushi is #1 for me. One of my goals this year is to learn how to prepare good maki rolls. I figure that good nigiri would take lots of practice, but maki seems hard to mess up. Handmade rolls for your sweetie would be a welcome break from steak/shrimp, but I'm not sure what the seafood market is like in Austin.

And on preview, those green curry and chicken-fried steak recipes look very tasty. Mmmmm, coconut milk. Speaking of which, if you want to make a coconutty cake, take the coconut cake mix, add a cup of shredded coconut, substitute coconut milk for the water, and reduce the oil by 1/2. It's near-orgasmic; the equivalent of freebasing coconut.
posted by beaverd at 1:08 PM on February 16, 2005

Lately, I've been real hot on pho. It's a Vietnamese beef noodle soup, and perfect at any time. You get to drop loads of basil and chillis into it and slurp the mess up. picea's got an Austin pho spot listed above, so check that out.
posted by underer at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2005

A subscription to Cook's Illustrated really helped me broaden my horizons for home cooked meals, and has also taught me quite a bit about cooking technique. It's not your standard cooking magazine - they sort of apply the scientific method to cooking, treating them more as experiments than just a recipe to be followed.
posted by skwm at 1:27 PM on February 16, 2005

This is all so fantastic. *wipes tear from eye*
I love you guys!
posted by Jonasio at 1:28 PM on February 16, 2005

Forget sushi, jump straight to sashimi.
posted by mischief at 1:29 PM on February 16, 2005

If chicken was a rarity and sold for $15/pound it would be considered a delicacy of the highest order. Luckily it is cheap.
posted by caddis at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2005

Broccoli rabe, sauteed with lots of garlic. Some hot Italian sausage from a real butcher. Pasta. Parmesan cheese. That is heaven. Oh yeah, and a glass of Chianti Classico.
posted by fixedgear at 2:02 PM on February 16, 2005

Olives and olive oil. I get fresh Italian olives weekly from a farmers market here in London. Fresh ciabatta dipped in a good quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil really gets me exited.

I recently made a Pizza from scratch and that was a real treat. Topped with prosciutto, basil and mozzarella. Fresh ingredients, basic flavours and delicious.
posted by isthisthingon at 3:35 PM on February 16, 2005

My new favourite ingredient is haloumi. (grilled is best)
posted by seanyboy at 3:51 PM on February 16, 2005

skwm is right, Cooks Illustrated is the place to start.
posted by recurve at 4:39 PM on February 16, 2005

my nonna's gnocchi. My better half said that the only time she ever saw my family quiet was when it was served. Although be careful of store-bought gnocchi, since it usually uses eggs which make it rubbery.

Also, good barbecued ribs, refried beans & rice with sour cream, italian subs (genoa salami, prosciutto, provolone, sweet peppers, mayo, salt & pepper), tuna melts made with that star-kist sweet & spicy tuna, veal marsala, baked beans on toast with shredded cheddar & a dash of tabasco, crab cakes, general tso's chicken, spicy tuna sushi....all these are standbys in my house.
posted by jonmc at 6:22 PM on February 16, 2005

oh, and bratwurst with sauerkraut, and fried pierogies with sour cream, and chili-cheese omelets.
posted by jonmc at 6:24 PM on February 16, 2005

Lox (which I always eat plain except for a small squeeze of lemon, which shocks my mother). Lamb stews of various sorts. Pita kalamaki kotopoulos. Kefta sandwiches. Raw red peppers. Warm crusty bread (I lived in Athens for a while and there was a bakery about two blocks away that sold really great fresh bread for fifty lepta. I ate a loaf practically every other day). Salmon. Naan with garlic on it. Old parmesan. Carne asada, carnitas tacos and cheese enchilidas. Most any application of potatoes. Fennel. Olives. Oranges. Fennel, olives and oranges combined with rosemary in a lamb stew--man. Fuckin' osso buco. A nice salad. Mustard greens. Food rules.
posted by kenko at 6:36 PM on February 16, 2005

If I had to pick one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life it would be sushi. I live pretty far inland though, and being in the deep south means that although the fish ain't fresh, the local BBQ and soul food is to die for. I don't know how one could ever get tired of good food. I live to eat. A good meal is the highlight of my day. My favorite breakfast food is waffles with bacon cooked into them. My favorite lunch food is curried chicken salad with apples. My favorite dinner is a great cut of lamb in any cuisine. My favorite desert is a middle eastern dish known as kanafe.
To put the "spice" back in your culinary life, I recommend trying any of the exotic dishes mentioned above, but more importantly, I recommend treating each meal as an experience. Make an effort to savor. Use all your senses. Live the food.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2005

When I lived in Austin 45 years ago (ack!) Ninfas was the place for Mexican - YMMV.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:56 PM on February 16, 2005

Steak, tacos, chicken, pasta, hamburgers, cheese...I'm pretty easy to please.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:57 PM on February 16, 2005

Foods I love
posted by werty at 6:11 AM on February 17, 2005

baked beans on toast with shredded cheddar & a dash of tabasco Damn, that sounds awesome.

This pie always makes me happy. And it's really pretty easy to make . . .
posted by tr33hggr at 7:49 AM on February 17, 2005

Potato pancakes with homemade applesauce. Surprisingly easy, especially the applesauce.

Also, soups. Not too messy, you can make enough to last you a good week or so, and they're warm, flavorful, and filling - and can be very healthy. I'm partial to matzo-ball soup, tomato-lentil, and a packaged split-pea ("Thick-as-fog split pea") that comes from the store as dried stuff (one sauteés vegetables, then adds water and the package contents).

And, if you want to add something extra-special to your soup (not split-pea), homemade noodles are surprisingly easy and SO GOOD!

We have a restaurant nearby that specializes in South American food pockets called empanadas; who wouldn't like empanadas!

And, if you want healthy, nutritious, and unusual - I just discovered oven-baked beets.
posted by amtho at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2005

Empanadas are especially easy to make if you use store-bought jumbo biscuits. I made them a few nights ago, in fact, and had one for lunch today. I fill mine with veggie crumbles, scallions, cheese and salsa. Roll out the biscuits to about 6 inch rounds, dollop some filling in the middle, seal the edges and bake at around 375 until golden. Wonderful with salsa and sour cream on the side.
posted by tr33hggr at 10:57 AM on February 17, 2005

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