Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food

Today's Thinking of Food post has 2 parts...Part I will be the typical post, with food news I've read and heard in the past week, and Part II will be a review of the Great American Grill restaurant in Columbia.

Part I- Foodie News for the Week:

image via here

*Heard this on NPR just this morning: "A new line of vanilla and chocolate-flavored baby formula has been released by Enfagrow." What?! I am appalled...let's just continue to feed our obesity epidemic and our taste for all things sweet and processed, right? Blogger and Dr. of nutrition, Marion Nestle, posted about this about a week ago on her blog Food Politics. What do you think?

image via here

*On a more encouraging note for our nation's health, I read in my June 2010 Runner's World magazine, that "organic food is good for your running, your health--and the planet, too." There has been much debate in recent years over whether organic is truly more healthy, and now there is scientific evidence to prove that organic food really is better, in lots of ways. "In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers analyzed urine samples of children who ate a chemical food diet and then samples from the same children after eating an organic diet. They found far fewer chemicals in the children's urine the same day they switched to an organic diet--and a return to high levels when they went back to a chemical diet." Enough evidence for me...

*Some local Columbia news--I went to the new Forest Acres Farmer's Market on the roof of Richland Mall yesterday and it was awesome! Many of the same vendors that I've seen at the All-Local Farmer's Market on Whaley St were there, as well as many others, including some local crafts. I took lots of pictures and will post about it this weekend; the only caveats are that it was pretty hot since it was on the roof, in the sun, and you have to make sure the vendor is selling local items, since it's not a requirement for this Farmer's Market. I will definitely return though; lots of good stuff! It will continue every Wednesday from 3-7 PM through the end of October.

image via here

*And, if you're in Columbia this Saturday, check out City Roots' first ever farm tour from 1-3 PM. I am hoping to make it, as this really is a very cool and up-and-coming urban farm! Click here for more information.

Part II- And now, on to the restaurant review...
This "review" is going to be short on words and long on pictures because truly, I have nothing bad to say about any part of the experience. The Great American Grill is located inside the Hilton Garden Inn hotel off Harbison Blvd. Now, I know what you're thinking--hotel restaurants are not always the best--but believe me, this one is worth enduring the bland hotel furniture for.

We started with Fried Green Tomatoes, served with chunks of goat cheese and a balsamic vinegar reduction. My husband commented to our waiter, Ryan, (who by the way is super-charming and knowledgeable about food and wine), that these were the best fried green tomatoes he had ever had. Which, as Ryan pointed out, is quite a feat considering my husband grew up in SC, where fried green tomatoes are everywhere, in many different iterations. They were really tasty.

Fried Green Tomatoes
(sorry for the horrible picture quality)

Our second course was this salad, which I regretfully cannot remember the name of, but was good. It consisted of fresh greens, chick peas, goat cheese, tomatoes, a citrus vinaigrette and a saffron ailoi. It was huge, and a few bites would have sufficed since the dressing was quite pungent, but yummy nonetheless.

And for the main course, James selected a New York Strip served with skin-on potatoes and some sort of greens...(can't remember what). The sides were delicious and perfectly complemented the huge cut of beef. James is a big steak-eater, (I mean, he does work at Ruth's Chris), and even he was amazed at the size of the cut and the full flavor of the steak.

NY Strip

I chose the special Seared Scallops paired with summer squash and tomato pie, with a red curry tomato sauce and balsamic reduction. Sounds like a lot was going on, and it was, but it all came together beautifully. The scallops were seared beautifully, with just the right amount of carmelization, and the little squash and tomato "pies" were really good and a fun addition to the plate.

Seared Scallops

All in all we had an amazing evening. James paired his big steak with a really big red wine, Napa Cellars Syrah, recommended by our waiter, Ryan. I also ordered one of the special desserts--which change nightly-- Blood Orange Sorbet. I could not bear to eat another bite as we sat at the table, so I asked for it to go, (which is no easy feat with sorbet). But the kitchen staff obliged and wrapped up a healthy portion for me to take home. And I just remembered it in the freezer last night as I was starting to write this post and had to have some--it did not disappoint. As James said, "it's like an orange push-up," but much more adult and with a stronger bite. I will enjoy it for nights to come.

Stuart Partin, head chef at the restaurant was not there the night we dined, but another chef, Jeremiah, appeared at our table to make sure we had enjoyed ourselves.

Go try out The Great American Grill in Columbia--and tell Stuart or Ryan that Becca sent you. They will take great care of you. Thanks, guys!

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