Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sunrise Memphis

We are huge fans of breakfast at our house. Sweet, savory, doesn't matter - all breakfast foods are amazing. About a month ago, Amber was on the news talking about her work, and stopped by on the way back from downtown (and ran into one of Sloan's coworkers - hi Mike!) and gushed. Last weekend, we all finally made it to Sunrise Memphis, who we've followed on social media and drooled over for months, and it did not disappoint!

It was so good we went back this weekend too.

No shame.


We love puns, so we're already sold at this point. Plus, the sun is an egg. I'm in.

Sunrise is an order at the counter and get a number place, and there's been a line each time we've been, but it moves really fast. The menu is large but accessible, and the counter staff (and everyone else) is super nice. 

Let's start with drinks. First up, the pineapple mimosa.


We're huge fans of mimosas that aren't just orange juice, and this pineapple one was super refreshing on a super day. 

But the real star? The Bloody Mary.

This is not a Bloody Mary. This is the glass of vodka they brought. Sunrise does not play.



True story: This comes to the table. Aiya and Amber are sitting there, Sloan is getting silverware. Amber says "Oh, I already got my water but thanks." The waiter says, "No ma'am. This is vodka."

You win some, you really win some. 

Here's the end result:


Holy goodness. 

But wait. How did we get here. 

We'll tell you how. 

A. BLOODY. MARY. BAR. 


You. Guys. Huge selection of mixes and garnishes for ultimate Bloody Mary fun.  

For kids - or any monster who doesn't want booze with breakfast - there's also a cooler of drinks, water, and soda. Aiya went old school. 


So the menu is pretty outstanding, with breakfast, brunch (on the weekends), and lunch options. It's written on a huge, easy to read chalkboard right next to the line for the counter.


They also have daily specials and a kids menu and brunch.



Side note: We usually hate kids menus. Kids shouldn't get whatever they want - offering Kraft mac and cheese (which is fucking delicious, fight me) isn't a way to create adventurous kids who will try and eat things. BUT. If there are chocolate chip pancakes, we're in. Also, Aiya eats slower than any human ever, so sometimes smaller portions are good, so we like this menu for its variety and size. But really - don't pay $5 for mac and cheese. Make your kid try new things. Eat the mac and cheese in your shame closet at home, alone, as god intended. 

Anyway. 

Let's just get this out of the way. You're going to order too much food. And you're going to moan the rest of the day. Just accept it. 


Let's start with Aiya's pancakes from our first visit. They're huge, clearly. The hashbrowns were nothing special (good, but I mean...choices) but these pancakes, y'all. 


She made a valiant effort. We're happy to report that they were still good the next day, even reheated. Light, fluffy, filled with chocolate chips. 

Sloan's choice the first visit? Disaster Bowl, or the King Biscuit. 


It's hard to take a good picture of gravy, but this thing was intense. Biscuits (oh! and Sunrise makes their own biscuits and breads in an adorable open kitchen and they are the best biscuits in Memphis), country ham, gravy, fried chicken, and an egg. In a bowl. 

Remember what we said about laying around moaning?

There was also a beautiful reunion at our table. 


The Rooster, which is pickles, fried chicken thigh, tabasco honey, all on a gorgeous biscuit, can have an egg added for a mother-child reunion, which speaks to my morbid side so hard. Plus it's amazing.

Our first visit we also got a side of toast (again, on their house-made bread) and it's so good. Like, so good it was gone before I took a picture good. 

The second visit, we made even more good decisions. 

Aiya got the Death By Chocolate French Toast (not on the kids menu) and it was intense. 


Chocolate bread (made there), chocolate chips, white chocolate drizzle. 

She literally didn't speak the entire time we were eating, and took half of it home. She ate it cold for two days and apparently her life has been changed for the better now. 

Because we never learn our lesson, we decided to get a side of biscuits and gravy. Perfect sausage gravy and biscuits. 


Our only minor complaint is that this gets cold really fast. It was HOT when it came to the table but was barely warm a few minutes in. I think maybe we were under a fan, but maybe a different plate would help?

Whatever. We'd eat this out of the fridge. So good. 


We also got the special that day, the Tex-Mex Grit Bowl. Poblano grits, pork belly, radish, cilantro, and Cotija cheese. Delicious, and if you haven't had poblano grits, what are you even doing with your life?

You can eat in in the adorable restaurant, do a grab and go (with a super convenient bar), or sit on the great patio. It's too damn hot in Memphis to sit outside, but in the spring and fall? Yes please. 




We'll definitely be back at Sunrise Memphis whenever we get the chance. Friendly staff, delicious food, easy parking, cute restaurant, house-made bread, and a Bloody Mary bar? Can we just move in?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

One Pan Pork Chops with Bacon, Red Potatoes, Onion, and Apple

We love one pan meals in our house. With a tiny kitchen and busy schedules - seriously, how can two people and a kid be this busy? - sometimes dinner is the last thing we want to fuss over. Especially in the summer, we tend to save big baking projects or complicated meals for weekend.


This one pan meal is perfect when you have enough time to chop some stuff, but don't want to stand in front of the stove. Chopping to eating takes about 45 minutes, and it's easy to change up for whatever you have in your pantry.

One Pan Pork Chops
serves 4

4 bone in pork chops
6-8 small red potatoes, diced
1/2 white or yellow onion, sliced into half moons
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small apple (like a honeycrisp or gala), diced
6 slices bacon
2 handfuls of spinach
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Smoked paprika
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Fennel seed

Pre-heat oven to 425F with the rack in the middle position. Place potatoes, onion, garlic, apple, and bacon on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, then season to taste. Toss everything so all ingredients are coated with olive oil - this will help keep everything from sticking. 

Make 4 spaces and place the pork chops on the pan. Season on both sides and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, stir everything around, flip pork chops, and bake for another 15. If your pork chops are very thick or very thin, cooking time may vary. 

When done, take the pan out of the oven and turn the broiler on. In our oven, you move the rack to the top of the oven, but do whatever your oven requires. With the broiler on high, broil the entire pan for 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on it. 

Remove from over and place spinach over the top. Rest for 2-3 minutes and then toss the spinach to wilt, then enjoy!


This is a great meal that can be modified to suit your tastes and what you have in your fridge and pantry, plus it can easily be made Whole 30 and gluten-free. We enjoyed with a glass a couple of glasses of Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from Wine Market for a nice, light summer meal with barely any work!


Friday, December 22, 2017

The Ultimate Holiday Gift: Whiskey

As a whiskey lover, I find that the bottles I get as gifts need to be bottles I wouldn't buy for myself. That doesn't necessarily mean they need to be expensive. They just need to be interesting regardless of price. I went to Doc's Wine and Spirits, a store not too far from my house to peruse some options that are available this year and give you folks a few recommendations of things I find interesting.

Scotch Whisky



These are collaborations between Macallan distillery and various other parties such as chefs of Michelin starred restaurants and master perfumers. Unique for sure.



Exclusive Malts by Creative Whiskey co. is a cool idea. They buy single casks from various Scottish distilleries and bottle them under their own label. These are malts that really showcase unique regional character!



Kilchoman is a rarity in Scotland as they grow the barley they use themselves. It's peaty but not as much as something like Lagavulin. If you know a less adventurous Scotch drinker and want to show them the power of peat, this is the bottle for you! Not to mention the cool glasses.

Bourbon/Rye



This historic Nashville distillery has been hitting it out of the park since day 1 of their return. They are currently specializing in bourbons finished in casks that held various other things. The best part is, they have a sampler gift set to let you try out 3 of these whiskeys, XO Cognac Finish, Madeira finish, and Sherry finish!



You can't go wrong with any of their bottles, but their small batch bourbon is more available than ever, it won't break the bank, and most importantly, its good!




Most people will be familiar with Buffalo Trace bourbon, but they do more than just bourbon. They also do a heavenly line of scented candles, and the holidays just aren't complete without their Bourbon Cream. Think Bailey's with a Southern twist.

Whatever whiskey you gift, have a wonderful holiday weekend! Sorry for the lack of posting lately - Amber has a new (awesome!) job, and our trip to Chicago/the holidays have worn us out! We'll be back soon with Chicago reviews, Memphis reviews, and so. many. recipes. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Unexpected Thanksgiving Wines

It's almost Thanksgiving, and we all know what that means. Sure, turkey is great, whatever. But it really means wine.

One of the most challenging things about picking a wine at Thanksgiving is finding something that will play well with all the myriad of flavors involved. Sweet, savory, spicy, acidic, and fatty goodness are all signs of a celebration, but there is never one wine to rule them all!

Don't choose something expected, like a Beaujolais, this year - pick a surprising wine and impress everyone!

Sparkling:

Bubbly is my favorite choice for Thanksgiving. The flexibility is just too perfect, and it adds to the air of celebration. It also leaves the option of mimosas for those who aren't really into the idea of having a glass of wine.

Via Gloria Ferrer
Gloria Ferrer Extra Brut: At about $20 a bottle this bubbly is easy to find and never disappoints. This producer is the California arm of famed Spanish Cava producer Freixenet. They make excellent non-vintage bubbly at a reasonable price. I would recommend this not only for its flexibility, but the depth of flavor is tough to beat in its own right. They also make an excellent Brut Rose for anyone who likes it pink!


Jeaume Serra Cristalino: If I have any occasion that calls for bubbly and I am on a tight budget This is my go-to. Big family? Shallow Wallet? No Problem! They have an extra dry, brut, and a rose, but I dig just the standard brut. This is not a bottle that will change your life, but it is pretty impressive for the under $10 category!

Via Bleasdale.
Sparkling Shiraz: When you think of sparkling reds, many people think of cheap Lambrusco and cringe a little. Thankfully sickly sweet and boring is not a requirement for sparkling reds. I find that in Memphis, a sparkling Shiraz can be hard to locate. Some brands to look for that are a little more common are Bleasdale and Paringa. These wines are super flexible for pairing and the weight of them can appeal to the crowd that only drinks reds. I love using these with a Thanksgiving feast!

Via Dr. L.
Dr. L Sparkling Riesling: This ticks two boxes in my Thanksgiving checklist. It is slightly sweet and deliciously bubbly. On top of that, it is usually very easy to find. Earnst Loosen does Riesling so well, and this is probably my favorite glass of bubbles for Thanksgiving!

Whites:


Off-Dry Riesling: When you are dealing with such a variety of flavors, just a touch of sweetness in your beverage can make all the difference. The problem you run into looking for wines like this is that they rarely say that they are off-dry on the label. Some producers have opted to using a graph on the label showing the level of sweetness. Some wines to look for include Kung Fu Girl from Charles Smith, one of the Kabinett offerings from Donhoff, Monchoff Spatlesse, Foris Vineyards Riesling from Oregon, and if you can't find any of those, Chateau Ste Michelle makes a bottle that is actually labeled off-dry that's passable.

Via Hugel.
Gewurztraminer: Often considered the bastard of the wine world. This ancient grape variety really gets a chance to shine at the Thanksgiving table. It can be made a little sweet to fully dry, but it's aromatics are what takes center stage in this context. It can be spicy and complex, and it offers a great option when you just don't know what will fit. My favorite examples are from Alsace made by producers like Hugel and Zind Humbrecht, but there are many good options from elsewhere. And while it isn't that exciting, if you just need a magnum bottle, Fetzer makes a cheap one that I have used at Thanksgiving more than once.

Reds:


Pinot Noir: It isn't my top choice but it is practically canon in wine retail to sell Pinot at Thanksgiving these days. And I do love good Pinot. If I am going for a Pinot at the Thanksgiving table though I like the acidity to really pop. Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir does this quite well. It is so light in the glass you might almost think you just poured a rose.

Beaujolais: Cru Beaujolais, the more serious cousin of Beaujolais Nouveau (too expected and usually not that good), is something I would call one of my top picks for a red at the Thanksgiving table. I lean toward selections from Morgon or Fleurie for this purpose. They tend to be somewhat lighter than some of the other Crus and that acidity and regional character really come through. They also tend to be really great values when feeding a group.

Amber here - I've never met a Malbec I didn't like, but this one surprised me! It's also easy to find!
Malbec or Shiraz: Some people who come to Thanksgiving may be hardcore Cabernet enthusiasts who always want the biggest and boldest of reds. I find that South American Malbecs and Aussie Shiraz often satisfy this group at Thanksgiving without taking too much away from the flavor of the feast. The tannins can be a little softer and rounder but the flavor is often big and bold.

Whatever wine you choose, have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

4 Wines to (Deliciously) Ward Off Evil Spirits this Halloween

While the kids are after candy, we adults know what Halloween is really about: costumes, booze, and debauchery (responsibly handled, of course).


I love good label art on a bottle of wine, especially this time of year. What's more important though is whats inside that bottle, so I have a few ideas for you folks who want something Halloween-themed or fall-themed but don't want to risk getting a truly bad bottle with a great label.

Via Armida Winery.
Poizin - California has done a lot for the wine industry worldwide. If there's one thing totally unique that California has done more than anyone else though, it has to be good, hearty, delicious red Zinfandel. The grape originated in Croatia - we think - and it didn't take it's slice of the international spotlight until the winemakers of California got their hands on it.

Poizin is a hard bottle to miss on the shelf. The black and red skull and crossbones, a widely recognized symbol of danger, graces the label and appears to be written in blood! As a professional wine buyer, I tend to be cautious of labels like these except at certain times of year. But I have kept this one on the shelf as long as I could more than one season.

Armida Winery makes this fantastically affordable bottle. Armida is located in Sonoma, California, the heartland for good Zin (and luckily they weren't damaged by the recent fires. They primarily source their wines from the Dry Creek Valley, when you see that designation on a bottle of Zin, it is most likely worth checking out.

This bottle represents the entry level of Armida's wines. I have seen it range from $15-$22 a bottle depending on the year. If you find a bottle of Zin from these guys that's not Poizin, don't hesitate to give it a try.

Via The Prisoner Wine Company.
Prisoner Wine Company - Formerly a product of Orin Swift Cellars, Prisoner used to be a little hard to get your hands on years ago. Now it's a little different, but readily available and still quite tasty. The gorgeous and eerie label art makes these wines a perfect glass to pour at Halloween.

The Prisoner, the flagship wine of this line, is a product of California through and through. The bulk of the blend is usually Zinfandel lent additional structure from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Syrah. It bursts with ripe berry flavor, with just the right balance of vanilla. All this is brought together with a soft, velvety texture.



The Blindfold is one of the white wines from this line. I find this one very interesting, not something I would drink all year round, but I really enjoy it!

This bottle shows some experimentation for a bottle out of California. It takes Chardonnay, a grape with a distinct style related to California, and blends it with flavors of the Rhone, one of my favorite wine regions in France. Roussane, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier are grapes we don't see everyday coming from anywhere other than the Rhone. Prisoner uses these to create something with a little of the body of California Chardonnay, that also has some of the crispness and aromatic qualities of white wines from the Rhone. It's one of those wines that I enjoy thinking about which part of the flavors represent which grape involved in the blend. Big points for creativity!

Via Charles Smith Wines
Velvet Devil - Charles Smith is one of the more unusual players in the wine business. He came from the music industry, and the label art of his wines has a distinct black and white style that make his bottles instantly recognizable. If you are looking for something inexpensive, easy drinking, that has a Halloween-friendly label art, this is a great choice.

Merlot has a less than stellar reputation with the general public these days because when it first gained ground in the American market, it took over. You could fill a lake with all the bad Merlot that was floating around. Since it's fallen out of favor and ceased to dominate the landscape, Merlot has become a much more solid choice in many cases. This is one of them.

Bold red currant flavors with notes of blueberry and soft tannins make this wine a great easy drinking option for around $12 a bottle. It won't change your life, but it will allow you to affordably serve a solid red at a Halloween party!

Even if you're not having a party, and are just staying in to watch horror movies and eat carbs and drink wine (our plan, btw), these are some great wines to try for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This doesn't even feel like a recipe since we used leftovers, one pan, and a bag of pre-chopped veggies but it was so delicious we're not even sorry.



Cauliflower rice gets a bad rap because...well...it's cauliflower. But hear us out.

It's way faster than regular rice.
It's a vegetable.
It tastes a lot like rice.
It tastes even more like rice if you put a bunch of other stuff in it.

So cauliflower fried rice (fried cauliflower rice?) is perfect for us because we really should eat more vegetables and we can throw whatever meat we have in it and then we can add eggs, and adding eggs is pretty much the best.

We also recently discovered bags of cauliflower stir fry, already chopped up, with cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots so that enabled our laziness even more!

Cauliflower Fried Rice
serves 4

1 bag cauliflower stir fry mix*
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
Leftover steak or chicken thighs
2 eggs
Salt
Pepper
Ground ginger
White pepper
Crushed red pepper
Scallions or green onions, chopped

1. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat and add sesame oil.
2. Pour contents of stir fry bag into skillet and add pepper, ginger, white pepper, and red pepper.
3. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. While mix is cooking, mix eggs with a tiny bit of water and set aside.
5. Add steak or chicken and coconut aminos or soy sauce and stir.
6. When the meat is heated through, make a well in the middle of the pan and pour in the scrambled eggs. Let cook for a minute and then move them around. When they start to set, mix into rest of the mix.
7. Add salt to taste and serve topped with scallions!

*Of course you can chop your own cauliflower and broccoli and all that. But here is what we use:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Sorry it's been a bit scarce here and on our Instagram and Facebook - we had a super busy weekend and work weeks last week!

And that hasn't stopped, but we NEED someone else to love this dish as much as we do and make it soon.


Brussels sprouts get kind of a bad rap - they are weird looking and smell sort of strange and everyone had them when they were kids in the worst possible way - boiled.

But! Brussels sprouts are actually super delicious, they're good for you, and they go so well with so many things. Plus, we're huge proponents of the "add bacon and it will taste good" school of thought, so even if you're on the fence about Brussels sprouts, give this one-pan side a try!

Sorry for the raw bacon pic but look how pretty!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
serves 4 as a side

1 to 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends cut off and halved
1 pound bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sheet pan
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder*
Smoked paprika

1. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup and preheat oven to 425F.

2. When oven is heated, spread sprouts and bacon evenly in a single layer over the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika (all to taste) over the entire pan.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sprouts are starting to get crispy dark edges.

4. Removed and let sit for 5 minutes, then serve!

Under Nom Nom Paleo's Cracklin Chicken on top of roasted garlic mashed potatoes!
We like this as a side, with roasted potatoes, with scrambled eggs, pretty much with anything. It's easy, hardly any cleanup is required - and you only have to chop 2 things! - plus, you're eating a delicious and under-appreciated vegetable! That's food karma right there!

*why garlic powder and not garlic? Garlic can get bitter if it roasts for too long, and powder works just as well here. If you're going to keep a really close eye on it, feel free to use minced garlic cloves!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

4 Portuguese Red Wines - That Aren't Port - to Try This Fall

When you think of Portuguese wine, the first thing that comes to mind is the big, sweet, rich wines of the Douro valley. Port has a special place in my heart for both it's complexity and interesting history, and Port is also really special to Amber - she's been to Portugal for academic conferences, and had some really great experiences there, many of which involved late night conversations over bottles of amazing local Port. But Port not the only noteworthy category of red wine made in Portugal.
Praca Dom Pedro IV, with São Jorge Castle in the background.

Eduardo VII Park in Lisbon, Portugal. Also, hello 2012 iPhone image!


Most every Port producer makes at least some kind of other red, usually from the same grape varieties used in Port production. These wines can be hard to navigate on a menu or in a wine store because the label doesn't show a grape variety most of the time. It may simply say, "Douro" sometimes not even highlighting the name of the producer.

Port is sweet because during the fermentation process, an unaged brandy (neutral grape spirit) is added. The yeast that turn the sugars in grape juice into alcohol can only live below a certain alcohol level. Just the right amount is added to stop this fermentation. These wines are what happens if you let the fermentation process finish and let the yeast create its own alcohol.

If you like a bold red that still shows a little restraint, these may be the wines for you. While there are many more serious, oakier, and pricier options, this is a good intro list if you want to check out what Portuguese table reds are about.

Quinta do Crasto is an old Port house with it's earliest mention on record dating back to 1615. The family that owns it currently has been at it for just over a Century. The table red they label Crasto is a bright, fruity, unoaked affair. It glows a bright shade of ruby in the glass and has aromas of fresh berries with a hint of violet. It keeps you sipping. It's a flexible choice for pairing with many types of red meat.

via Quinta do Crasto.
Altano - This wine comes from Vineyards owned by Symington, one of the largest producers in the Douro. This table red is one of the most price friendly options on the list as well. It is a bit lighter than some of the reds on this list with a nice acidic backbone.

via Altano.
Fonseca Domini - Fonseca's ports can be found on almost any wine store shelf in America. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious Port producers. Domini is the other side of that coin, and just a little harder to find. This dry red has notes of cherry, chocolate, and violet. It is soft and round on the palate. It's a perfect companion for pot roast or steak night!

via Fonseca.
Rapariga da Qinta - This is the outlier on this list. It's not from Douro (but the winemaker is), it is from Alentejano, a lesser known wine region of Portugal. I include it just to show some of the other great options Portugal has to offer. It is made by Luis Duarte, a winemaker and consultant known for helping push Portuguese wine into the modern age. Juicy black fruit, soft fine-grained tannins, and refreshing acidity make this wine a shoe-in for pairing with hearty fall stews and meats!

via Portugal Vineyards.

Anyone else have some surprising wine finds?