Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Desperate Foodie

As a food lover, I make it my practice to ensure that every meal I eat is cooked to order using fresh, local ingredients.

Just kidding.

There are times - more times than I care to admit - when circumstances dictate that I grab something on the go. And by "on the go," I mean that sometimes I am forced to take something out of the freezer to heat up and eat at my desk at the office. I hope this doesn't happen to you, but in case it does, read on for some frozen meal suggestions to save your palate from the horrors of Hot Pockets.

My favorite frozen meals are made by Saffron Road, a company that makes products that are not only halal, but antibiotic-free, certified humane, and 100% natural. That may sound a bit like a Portlandia episode, but my feeling is that if you're going to be eating food from the freezer, you might as well eat something relatively good for you. Saffron Road delivers in that regard.

My favorite of Saffron Road's entrées is their chicken biryani. This photo doesn't at all do it justice, but it consists of a lovely bed of rice that tastes fresh and not at all like it's been frozen, topped with tender, very flavorful chicken. You honestly could have convinced me that this dish was freshly made, and when you're eating a frozen entrée at your desk, that's kind of a nice feeling.

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I also really like their lamb saag - tender lamb, spinach, and long-grain rice. Again, they've managed to make their rice taste very fresh - a difficult feat, in my experience - and the lamb and spinach meld nicely together to make for a comforting dish that tastes great in chillier weather (though I've also been known to eat it when it's hot outside).

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If you're a saag paneer fan, Central Market makes a wonderful frozen saag paneer under its Taste of India brand. Large, firm chunks of mild cheese (paneer) are mixed with a spinach that's prepared in such a way that it practically melts in your mouth. Here again, the rice is fluffy, fragrant, and not at all watery/insipid like some frozen rices can be.

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So next time you find yourself dining at your desk, check out one of these frozen meals. I hope they'll give a little lift to the inner foodie trapped inside your desk jockey self.

What are your favorite frozen food items?

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

East Side King on South Lamar

Y'all. I just had a revelation.

I've been eating at the East Side King on South Lamar ever since they opened about a year ago. But somehow I was oblivious to the shaved ice offering they added to their menu back in September. If you like the $12 cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich at qui, I suspect that you'll love the $5 shaved ice at East Side King. They've somehow made the rather unlikely combination of white cheddar shaved ice, dulce de leche, green & fuji apple, waffle cone pieces, grated aged cheddar, and jalapeño salt - jalapeño salt! - work together beautifully, creating a savory, spicy, lightly sweet combination that I could not get enough of.

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There are other winners on the menu, too. Of course, the East Side King staples like chicken karaage, pork belly buns, brussels sprout salad, and beet fries are there. But also the tako (octopus) taco, which I usually order over rice instead of in the fried shell it comes with. It's hard to get octopus right, but they do it right here. Still tender, and butter poached, which adds a richness you don't usually find in octopus. It's garnished with tobiko and a nicely acidic vegetable ceviche, and costs just $3.95.

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My lovely friend and blog date, Linda, got this awesome "bento box" which came with a tako taco, an ebi ebi (tempura fried shrimp) steamed bun, some vegan beans and rice, and some kim chi fries. All so delicious, and just $12.95!

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East Side King offers an incredible value for a menu driven by such an outstanding chef. And now that they've got me hooked on that cheesy shaved ice, I'll not let so long go between visits in the future.

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