Monday, July 19, 2010

Where’s the Beef – Part Two

We arrived at Macho Mike’s Sizzling Steakhouse (Mike and Joan Dannen-berg’s lovely home) primed (pun intended) for steaks on the grill and found the true master of the kitchen at work slicing apples and pears for the dehydrator. While Joan finished her work, I prepared the evenings libations--Limoncello Bellinis. *

As in your finest steak-houses, Macho Mike presented the uncooked but seasoned steaks on a tray for our inspection prior to retiring to the porch to fire up the grill. A couple of bellinis later, the grill was ready, and so were we. Is there any better smell than that of beef fat hitting hot coals?

(Or any more serious, more proud griller than the young man on the left?)

Yesterday, I extolled the virtues of Montana grass fed beef. This night just confirmed my impression after eating at Grizzly Bar. Montana beef is in a class by itself. Our T-Bone steaks that night were over an inch thick and had just enough fat to keep the meat moist and flavorful. When I describe meat as being tender, I don’t mean soft and mushy. These steaks had a nice “chew” or some tooth resistance that let you savor the taste but that didn’t require endless chewing.

When I saw the size of these steaks, my initial reaction was “I’ll never be able to eat that much.” The next thing I knew, all that was left on my plate was a bone and a few pieces of fat. Where did that steak go?

To accompany the steaks, Joan made a delicious cold (actually served at room temperature) quinoa salad that was seasoned with soy and garlic. Since both soy and garlic are frequently used in marinades for beef, it should come as no surprise that the flavors in this salad were the perfect accompaniment for the grilled steaks.

While Chuck and Mike gorged themselves on brownies and ice cream for dessert, virtuous Joan and I finished our meals with small dishes of mixed fruit and nuts. The perfect finale for a perfect meal.

A few nights later, the four of us went to Mike and Joan’s favorite local Chinese restaurant – Grand Garden. While the restaurant does have a lunch buffet plus an evening buffet on Friday and Saturday nights, this was a non-buffet evening. A quick read of the menu showed that close to half of the selections were marked with a chile to indicate hot and spicy. That’s my kind of Chinese food.

We started with a large bowl of hot and sour soup that, while it had a good proportion of sour, could have used more hot. But the soup was thick with pieces of pork, tofu, wood ear fungus, egg threads, and an item you seldom see in restaurant hot and sour soups – lily buds.

Joan’s choice that evening was the Broccoli Chicken made without soy sauce.

Mike chose the Pineapple Shrimp – shrimp, red peppers, and pineapple in a creamy pineapple sauce. He generously shared with his fellow diners his perfectly prepared shrimp—cooked just until done, retaining a crisp, but not rubbery, texture.

After scanning the hot and spicy options, Chuck ordered the Kung Pao Triple - diced veggies (celery, green peppers, and onions), peanuts, chicken, beef, and shrimp in a spicy Kung Pao sauce. One of my pet peeves about Chinese restaurants is that the veggies usually outnumber the proteins. At Grand Garden there was a generous proportion of meat to veggies and made this meal a good value. And the spice quotient was sufficiently high to make this dish very very interesting.

As we entered, I noticed that Mongolian Beef was one of the night’s specials. While it is technically not an authentic Chinese dish, I always enjoy a good Mongolian Beef, so made this my choice. My very large plate of food consisted of thinly sliced, but somewhat chewy beef, in a sweet and savory brown sauce (either hoisin sauce or soy with sugar) with scallions and thin-sliced onions. The beef was served over a bed of crispy noodles. What was missing was the peppery or spicy flavor that I associate with Mongolian Beef.

This was a good if not outrageously authentic Chinese dinner, and Grand Garden earns a 4.0 Addie rating.

*This is a recipe of Giada DeLaurentis’ that I took from the Food Network. In a tall glass or large red wine goblet, place one ounce of limoncello and one ounce of peach schnapps. Add ice cubes. Fill glass with prosecco. Stir.

And yes. This is all alcohol.

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