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Vernick

For M’s birthday this year, we went to Vernick. They offered to seat us at the kitchen so we could get a free show, so we said sure! I actually love watching people cook my food. But I always forget that it’s going to be super hot there! But we still enjoyed the show! They started us off with a complimentary little amuse bouche – a pea soup with some chili oil on top. A fun and tasty start!
vernicktunaWe started off with some tuna poke, served with macadamia nuts in a sweet soy dressing. This was a perfect combo of cold tuna with sweet and umami flavors. I’ve never had poke, so I have no idea how poke-ish this poke was, but it was darn tasty. It was obvious, from the very start, how fresh and high quality all the ingredients here were.

vernickbroccWe wanted to get at least some veggies, to feign caring about our health, so we went with the broccoli rabe, which was simply roasted with chili and aged pecorino. I need to eat more roasted veggies!
vernickravioliOur last shared small dish was the ravioli with braised duck and green beans. Another great dish. Three pieces of delicate ravioli with super moist duck. The green beans were still nice and firm. There’s nothing appealing about soggy green beans!
vernickvealM got the oven-roasted veal loin, served with Israeli couscous and spring beans with a pesto sauce. He loved it! The entree portions here were surprisingly large.
vernickbassI got the grilled black sea bass, served with tender broccoli and a fire-roasted tomato sauce. Yum! The fish is cooked really nicely, with the skin on, and the skin is nice and crispity. The tomato sauce is surprisingly flavorful and works well with the flaky fish. It’s a delicate fish, but the accompanying sauce is strong and pungent.
vernickdatecakeWe definitely wanted to try dessert so we asked our server what to get and he said “cardamom cake!” so we said sure! Listen here people. This is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. It’s just the whole package. It’s a roasted date cake with orange cardamom toffee sauce, a scoop of coconut gelato, and topped with a candied slice of orange. Man, the cake is warm and moist with just enough hint of that exotic cardamom flavor, the gelato is just the right amount of cold. It just works! I could eat this every day. Our experience at Vernick was just wonderful. All of it, the food, the show, and the service. It certainly deserves all its raves!
Vernick Food & Drink on Urbanspoon

The Twisted Tail

On one of our many recent rainy weekend days, we stopped by the Twisted Tail for a late brunch. They just opened in Headhouse Square and in addition to food and drink, offer live blues music and open blues jams, for those of you inclined. They’re also a bourbon house so they’ve got quite the array of liquors! They also feature a charcoal grill in their kitchen and cook most of their food over open heat, whenever possible.
Of course, they also have beer. The restaurant is really quite big, especially the downstairs. I did not get to check out the upstairs, where the music happens. It’s decorately quite tastefully, even with all of the curly tail motif everywhere. It’s warm and masculine, with a slightly rustic touch.
Here’s some complimentary bread, one which was a corn bread, and one which was a bourbon based bread, I think. See the curly q of butter? Yes, very cute. The corn bread wasn’t particularly corn tasting at all. I like the bourbon bread, it had a little sweetness.
This is the watermelon gazpacho. Delicious and refreshing! It’s made with watermalon, pear tomatoes, jicama, and opal basil. It was a lovely mix of sweet and savory, with nice hunks of the fruit and veggies. It was so surprising and great.
This is the grilled Jersey Blue Fish, with confetti rice, and grilled loco corn. The fish was cooked on the grill, skin on, and was moist and delicious. It had a great flavor, all on its own. The corn had some kind of bbq type of sauce on it, and while already super sweet already, had the added sweetness from the sauce. It was amazing!
I had my eye on the bison meatloaf, and after our server told us it was one of his favorites, I had to go with it. It’s made out of bison! And it comes with a portobello mushroom gravy and green pea whipped mash potatoes. It was all delicious! The meatloaf has a bit of a kick from the glaze that’s on the outside. I’m in love with this green pea whipped mash potato stuff. It’s chunky and has tons of potato skin in it and pea bits. I just loved it.
For dessert, our server recommended the Chocolate Symphony. Why the hell not? It’s a layer of white chocolate pound cake, layers of chocolate mascarpone, a layer of German chocolate cake, and topped with Godiva sauce. They put the sauce on at the table, so you can get as much as you want. So go all out people, go crazy! This thing is nuts! It’s incredibly dense, sweet, chocolatey, and way too much for a weakling like me. I was done after a few bites. But it’s everything you’d think it would be. This was a great meal. Neither of us had any kind of idea what this place would be like. It’s brand spankin’ new and in a location that seems to be fraught with closings. Well, we hope this place stays around for a long time. The food was great and so was the service. Especially the service!

The Twisted Tail on Urbanspoon

Arches National Park

Arches National Park was the one park that I had been to before. But you know what? It’s still amazing. It’s a pretty small park, but there is plenty to see, and it has one of my favorite hikes in the universe – devil’s garden trail. It includes everything you would want in a good hike, is incredibly challenging, and never boring. And it’s long. It will make you hungry! The hike to delicate arch (see above) is not that interesting, but totally worth it to see this wonder. It’s famous for a reason, people, because it’s rather awesome.
So be sure to take snacks for along the way, like a banana. We ate a lot of bananas, as we always grabbed a bunch from our continental breakfast at the motel. And apples too, we took a lot of apples from the breakfast fruit bowl. Cookies don’t hold up very well in the heat, especially ones with chocolates in them. But dried fruit works wonders and so do fig newtons, so pack some. And obviously, it goes without saying, take lots of water. You’ll need it.
There isn’t food available in most of the national parks. So be sure to bring food with you. So yet again, it was another sandwich. We just picked up some sandwiches from the grocery store, and since we were always starving, they were always delicious. The hardest thing about eating these was how windy it was out. Man! We had to hold onto everything, and not just the sandwiches. We ended up giving up half way through and then eating in the car. I love this park because everything is so big and weird looking, but it’s a really easy park to get around.

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