Saturday, August 09, 2008

Taste of Champaign-Urbana - Milo's, 1st visit

Milo's used to be located at Lincoln Square Shopping Center in downtown Urbana. Now they've moved to the corner of Philo and Windsor. It prides itself on "Nuevo American Cuisine."

Yesterday my aunt and I met up with two of her library friends for dinner. I checked Milo's menu beforehand to determine exactly what I wanted to eat (since I hadn't eaten all day). It looked promising - crab cake appetizer, duck entree, cobbler dessert...

The restaurant on the outside looked rather cookie-cutterish, which probably couldn't be helped, builders you know. Inside it was a couple of notches above O'Charley's, but not much. Our waitress must have been going through PMS, because she wasn't exactly pleasant.

Two of us had the blackberry and cassis (black currant) iced tea. Not bad for me after I added my traditional 3-4 teaspoons of sugar. It just didn't taste too tea-ee for me. Milo's bread was so-so - I think they had whole wheat with pumpkin seeds. I know Adam wouldn't like it, or maybe he would after he comes home from his father's.

Me and Gail had the cold asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise, while Pat had a salad and my aunt the crab cake appetizer. Milo's had some weird rule about sharing, so we didn't "share". I am a big lover of asparagus and I know it's out of season, but my gripe about this dish is the fact that there was no taste of wasabi in the dressing!

My aunt didn't like her dressing either. It was very heavily flavored with cumin, to the point of overpowering. The three cakes were teeny-tiny and seemingly slapped among a big bed of greens. The only positive point in this whole experience is that there was no iceberg lettuce.

Crab cakes as entree looked better, although I didn't ask Gail what she thought. Pat liked her vegetarian lasagna. My aunt's duck was so-so, especially since the only duck I really like is Peking. For me it's duck = lamb, don't like the taste.

I snorfed down my filet mignon medallions because I was starving. The plate as a whole was warm, not hot. The onion rings were crispy and not too bad. There was a sharp burgundy-ish sauce that probably had balsamic vinegar in it. The garlic mashed potato was so-so, I've had better elsewhere. The vegetables could have used a couple more seconds cooking, not wilty enough. The filet was more done than medium. Isn't the meat supposed to be a bit bloody?

Anyhow, settled for creme brulet for dessert. Lovely presentation, but I don't think they chilled it well enough before torching it. The creme brulet was too sweet, even for me the sweettooth, and also salty. I've had better at Bonefish Grill.

The decor was modest, I think Biaggi's was better. The owners had floral paintings by local hairstylist turned artist Lloyd White on the wall. They were very beautiful and now I'm thinking about commissioning the guy to do one for me of red poppies. We were told the pieces de resistance were to be found in the restrooms. So off we went after dinner.

Expecting an incredibly beautiful floral offering to keep in tune with the rest of the restaurant, we were given an eyeful of a depressive nude man in the women's. Maybe next time I'll take a peak in the men's side. What do you think they have in there, a nude woman?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Faux Fo

It's been a little over a year since
my last post. Since then I've made
several Thai comfort dishes that I've
almost always have to consume myself,
since the Boy doesn't eat Thai, *sniff*.

Last Friday Adam (the Boy) and I stopped
at one of the two local Vietnamese-Asian
grocery stores in our area. They had
pak boong! That's water morning glory
or convulus for those of you not familiar
with Thai vegetables. Last I heard this
plant was under restriction for fear of
becoming introduced into the canals of
South Florida.

Whatever its status in the States, this
store had it. I bought two bags with
making yen ta fo in mind.

Being too lazy to drive all over Miami
to procure the necessary ingredients,
I decided to do a faux fo. I've always
wondered just how bare basics can you
get with this dish. I'd say you need
the soup, definitely the vegetation,
and perhaps the noodles.

There's something satisfying about a
bowl (or two) of yen ta fo. It's that
infamous red soup that really makes it
what it is. Without it it's just some
other noodle dish.

But I digress... So I've made myself
four bowls of faux fo - just pak boong,
two packs of Mama brand vermicelli, and
tomato paste-colored broth. It was good!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Lenten Food Diary, Of Sorts

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which marks the start
of the forty day event known as Lent. On that particular
day all practicing Catholics of a certain age are required
to fast and abstain from meat and eating between meals.

Around lunchtime I juiced up some vegetables and drank
it down. Consisting of tomato, celery, cilantro, onion,
cucumber and carrot, it wasn't too bad. Instead of throw-
ing out the scraps afterwards, I made a lovely vegetable
soup using Knorr's vegetable bouillon as the base.

The soup was thick and delicious, so much so that I'll
be souping from now on whenever I juice. However,
I will not ever be using fresh beets ever again, blech!

On Tuesday I made pad prik bai krapow with chicken.
Normally it's really good but this time it was rather
salty. Had that today for lunch. I forgot to add that I
had a Caesar's salad for dinner last night and again
this evening.

For a salad this simple it's so good - heart of Romaine,
croutons and dressing. Yum!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ba Mee Look Chin

For today's extended meal I made Ba Mee Look Chin
(Ramen & Meatball).

On the left is a plate of cut up bok choy and pork balls.
Two stems of bok choy is about 30 calories, boiled, while
six pork balls is about 90 calories. The fresh noodles
was about 300 or so calories.

Of course you can't have Ba Mee Look Chin without garlic
oil. At two tablespoons it's about 240 calories, although
you can probably cut it down to one. And by garlic oil I
mean fried chopped garlic in oil.

I normally have my big bowl full of the stuff, but this time
I'm being good. With the noodles, bok choi and pork balls
(or beef balls or fish balls), add fish sauce (about 3-4
good shots), sugar (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) and some chili
garlic sauce in vinegar. Plus cilantro and green onions
(which I forgot to get). The total calorie count comes
around 800, give or take.

Given the current state of my metabolism, this bowl can
last me throughout the day. I need to eat to stave off
hunger, but not so much that I fall asleep.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why Yen Ta Fo?

First of all, yen ta fo is my favorite dish. It has its roots among the Chinese immigrants of Southeast Asia. At its simplest yen ta fo consists of fresh rice noodle, pak boong (water morning glory)and fish balls in a red-colored broth with fried garlic oil, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and red chili sauce. At its most complex you can have fried tofu, calamari, shrimp, white fungus, duck's blood, fried wonton and fish cake. This dish sums me up pretty much - simple and complex, all rolled up in one package.