Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Haiku

Done with the first job
And now for Chinese Takeout
Merry Christmas time

Monday, December 15, 2014

Shepherd's Pie (aka Cottage Pie)

I have been eating a lot of different kinds of shepherd's pie recently. Crazy Wisdom's tearoom has been serving up a chicken shepherd's pie that is made with what seems to be stoneground mustard. It has a very different flavor from what I think of as "traditional" shepherd's pie, but I like it! 

My first introduction to shepherd's pie was via a vegetarian recipe I found online (and can not locate right now, sadly). It had all the layers, but the sauce (for lack of a better word) was very Indian in nature with spices like curry and turmeric. I liked it, and my Irish descent roommate liked it, but he declared it not shepherd's pie.

My first taste of "real" shepherd's pie was the frozen entree version at Trader Joe's, and I loved it. It has also ruined me on most (possibly all) future shepherd's pie made with beef. The Trader Joe's version uses cuts of meat, not ground, giving it a very meaty, stew-like texture, which I love. I have never liked ground beef. Too greasy. (And beef used to make me extremely ill. I can eat it usually now, but I am very selective about how, when, and from where I eat it.) 

So when my boyfriend Greg and I went to Conor O'Neill's Traditional Irish Pub and Restaurant in Ann Arbor (a great love of ours), I ordered the Fisherman's Pie (shepherd's pie made with shrimp, salmon, and cod) while Greg ordered their Shepherd's Pie (which has ground beef and lamb), which he'd been craving for a while since I first brought home the chicken version from Crazy Wisdom. (Incidentally, Conor O'Neill's also offers a vegetarian shepherd's pie. I do not think it has curry or turmeric.) 

When I search this morning for shepherd's pie on the internet, I came across, as I often do in searches, the Wikipedia article which calls it "cottage pie" (hence the "aka" in this entry's title). I have never heard it referred to as cottage pie before, though that turns out to be the older name for it and a more encompassing one as "shepherd" implies "beef or mutton." I suggest looking through the variations in the Wikipedia entry. Very interesting! 

And that's all I've got for this week. Now to pack up my leftover fish pie and head into work for 9 hours.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Woodstone Grill of Belleville

On Rawsonville Rd, perched on the border of Ypsilanti and Belleville, a stone's throw north of I-94 sits Woodstone Grill. According to their website, once upon a time another restaurant named Woodstone Grill operated in that same location, but this new Woodstone Grill is named in homage and actually has nothing to do with the first one. I never went to, or even knew about that Woodstone Grill. 

The restaurant I remember being in that location is Spirits Restaurant and Lounge, which I visited and reviewed back in 2012. They offered bison burgers, poutine, and wojapi (which I attempted to make at home also in 2012). Spirits will be sorely missed. 

But I am here to talk about the new Woodstone Grill, and I do wish them luck. Greg and I loved the food we had at Spirits, but we rarely saw many cars in the lot, and that seems like a tough area in general for a business, being not particularly populated (though it does usually have reasonably priced gas at the Speedway, which also doesn't charge extra for credit cards). 

We started off our meal with the Cajun Onion Petals. I was expecting it to arrive huge and (mostly) whole like the Blooming Onions at Outback. It did not, but I did find it much tastier! What spice it had was cooled by the ranch dipping sauce. (I love ranch.) I could have eaten the whole place myself if entrees weren't imminent.

Greg went with the Center Cut Top Sirloin, which comes with the option of being "encrusted with our special blend of coffee and cajun spices." I don't think it arrived in such a state, however, which is unfortunate. I wanted to try that. Myself, I ordered the Not Your Mama's Meatloaf, an apt name in my case since it was made from beef and not turkey. The texture was surprisingly smooth, as if the meat had not simply been ground, but pureed. I liked it. Our sides were seasoned vegetables and mashed potatoes and really weren't anything special, though the taste was fine. 

Usually, we are too full to order dessert. This time, Greg was too curious about the Oreo Brownie Sundae, so we indulged and split one. "It tastes like microwaved Oreo!" he declared upon finishing his first bite. I've never put an Oreo in the microwave, and don't really intend to. This sundae did have an Oreo-esque flavor, but I may be thinking that because the name suggested it. It's basically your typical brownie sundae with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Again, I liked it, but not particularly fancy or unusual. 

I really enjoyed my meal there, and would go again. It's a nice local alternative to the big chain steakhouses  (the kinds of places I tend to avoid, no matter how hyped) with food that tastes home-cooked. Our server was very friendly, too, and related to us like a real person. If you live in the Belleville-Ypsi region, you won't lose anything by giving this place a try.