Diego’s, Newport, RI

14 09 2012

My favorite reaction from a friend upon returning from a trip Newport, RI was, “What the hell do punks do in Newport?”. Well my friend, we stuff face and drink beers. I went with my parents to Newport a few years back. Newport with parents is gawking at mansions, souvenir stands, coastal drives. I really had no intention of ever returning.

But working a month straight, full of 70-hr work weeks will make a person do strange things. Thus, I found myself with two days off and a bizarre gravitation towards Newport.

I won’t make you sit and watch my crappy vacation projector footage, but I will tell you that now, to me, Newport is a hidden craft beer/upscale pub food haven, oyster beer shooters and perfect Bloodys, sunset high-speed booze cruises, a vegetarian paradise where I can stuff myself on vegan pancakes, deviled eggs and great iced coffee, farmers markets, spice shops, vintage bar decor, and a brewery started by four college buddies.

I want to tell you about my favorite restaurant of our trip, Diego’s; an upscale Mexican spot on Bowen’s Wharf. It’s the typical restaurant plan of taking traditional Mexican dishes and adding a modern twist. That’s all well-and-good, but what really makes Diego’s stand out and make it a place I would frequent regularly, is their incredibly varied selection of prohibition-age cocktails.

At Diegos’s, gone are the days of the pina colada, the margaritas from dispensers, weak-ass strawberry daiquiris with their stupid little umbrellas. Enter The Ginger Snap (tequila, fresh lime, ginger beer, house-made star anise simple with a dash of rhubarb bitters, served with fresh ginger root), the Mezcal Swizzle (mezcal, lime, sugar cane, & absinthe on the rocks), White Peach Sangria (Terranoble Sauvignon Blanc with white peach puree, peach liquor, marinated fresh fruit, and a juice blend), as well as a cucumber Tom Collins, Basil Gimlets, and Pimms Classic. They treat their bar like the finest kitchen and it shows; one of the best bar menus I have ever seen.

We started our meal with the Braker’s Guac, which you can choose as mild or spicy. The portion is large enough for leaving  two people feeling stuffed full of avocados. It was simple and flavorful. I had the Spicy Baja Butternut Squash Soup; roasted butternut squash pureed with other veggies and spices, topped with sour cream and grilled tortillas. Such a great soup. I was fiending for more tortillas to soak up every drop of it.

Braker’s Guac, $12

Spicy Baja Butternut Squash Soup, Cup $4.50/Bowl $8

My entrée was the Loaded Fish Tacos; grilled soft flour tortillas with your choice of fried or pan-seared white fish of the day, beans, baja cheese, pineapple-jicama salsa, and served with salsa, guac, and either brown or baja rice. This was a pretty unique take on the fish taco. I was a little disappointed that it didn’t come with some type of coleslaw, but the sweet and crunchy jicama salsa quickly put an end to that. This meal is huge; three tacos, rice and beans, with a side of guac and salsa. I couldn’t come close to finishing it all.

Fish Tacos, $14

Ryan had an entrée off the specials board; some sort of short-rib chimichanga. I believe he enjoyed it.

For you vegans and vegetarians, vegan cheese is available, as well as tofu substitutions on salads and quesadillas.

The plates are large, the prices are affordable, and people-watching all the other losers who visit Newport from Diego’s patio is hilarious. Plan on leaving full and drunk. This place is prime.

Diego’s
Bowen’s Wharf
Newport, RI, 02840
401-619-2640





Beechtree Cantina, Hyannis, MA

24 07 2012

Jalapeno & Pineapple Margarita, $12

Beechtree Cantina’s location is so picture-perfect that they could serve piles of steaming trash and I would still go, just to sit outside around the magnificent, weeping English beech tree out back. Frozen drinks and a scaled-down version of their full menu are served in the backyard courtyard. This was where we started the night, drinking margaritas and debating if we should stay here for dinner or walk down Main St. and check out other options. But after seeing a pile of nachos stacked so high they were about to topple, we decided to stay.

We grabbed a table in the outdoor seating area of their main restaurant and ordered a couple more drinks. The pineapple jalapeno margarita tastes like a spicy & fruity salsa. Really liked it. My boyfriend ordered the Spicy Cucumber Margarita ($10) and wasn’t as impressed. It tasted like someone accidentally knocked over a salt shaker into it. The last inch of the drink was undrinkable because it was so salty.

Guacamole, $12

Usually I don’t order table-side guac. Waitresses hate to make it and it’s always terribly over-priced. But I saw it made at the next table and decided to get all crazy. AND BOY AM I GLAD I DID; huge bowl and you get to choose from a plentiful selection of ingredients.

Fish Tacos, $16

Now vegetarian reader, I hate to break it to you, but within the past year I have started to work seafood back into my diet. Mainly just because of the fact that I friggin’ love food and I get incredibly bored with the strict vegetarian options on most menus (i.e. pasta primavera, quesadillas, frozen veggie burgers, etc) Fish tacos are one of my new favorites and the ones at Beechtree are definitely up there with some of the best. The fish was very fresh and flavorful, topped with shredded cabbage and pico de gallo, though the accompanying confetti rice and tequila black beans were lacking in spice.

Pollo Tostados, $12

Ryan really enjoyed these pulled chicken tostadas, topped with arugula, carmelized onions, goat cheese and avocado with an ancho crema.

So Beechtree joins the swarm of upscale Mexican restaurants that are popping up in the area and I for one am pretty psyched for it. Main Street Hyannis definitely needed a place like this since the other option for Mexican/margaritas does not cut the mustard. The drinks are innovative, the food is bright and fresh and the location has been added to my mental list of what defines a Cape Cod summer.

Beechtree Cantina
599 Main Street
Hyannis, MA, 02601
508-534-9876





Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chili Sauce

4 03 2012

This blog has been seriously lacking for posts lately. But I can explain! For me, February was winter detox month. Well, winter detox two weeks. And you know what was weird, the second you mention the word ‘detox’ to a person, their jaw drops and they’re on their knees begging you to reconsider, wondering why you would ever put your body through such hell. Um, when did detoxing become synonymous with insane fad diets such as The Master Cleanse? That is what almost every person assumed I was doing. No, I did not, nor would I ever, master cleanse, or do some sort of wacked out liquid-only diet. Those things withhold every essential nutrient from your body and straight-up starve you. F-that.

My detox was basically eliminating caffeine, alcohol, added sugars, processed foods, dairy, and wheat. Replacing those things with whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables and simple grains and proteins. No harm in that.

Here are some of the things that I was eating:

Steamed Squash & Broccoli with Tahini Dressing

Roasted Beet & Leek Soup with Sauteed Beet Greens

Roasted Peppers, Cauliflower and Walnuts

Cinnamon Poached Apples with Toasted Walnuts

First week was yummy, but hell. It made me realize how much of my diet consists of cheese and bread. Pizza and blue cheese are part of my food pyramid. It also made me realize that throughout my day, I’m pretty much in a constant state of snacking. Rarely do I let my body get full before I start stuffing it with something else that catches my eye. “Handful of feta, why sure!”

Though I was pretty much in a body-shaking craving mode for most of the time, and I don’t think that I’ve ever been as much of an angry bitch than I was during those two weeks, my body felt great. I felt clean and energized in a natural-sort of way. I stopped feeling sluggish, my sleep was improved and things like my digestion and lungs felt a lot better after eliminating many allergens and just body-clogging stuff.

I’m back to eating crap now. Well, not crap, but I will never deny myself a cup of coffee in the morning or a beer or ten in the evening for at least another year. It just ain’t me.

These vegan enchiladas are acting as a suitable in-between meal. They’re not carrot sticks, but they are also not frosting-filled crêpes. Mmm..frosting.

The enchilada sauce has a mellow and roasty spiciness to it, while the filling is tangy and stick-to-your-ribs filling.

Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chili Sauce
Adapted from Veganomicon

Enchilada Chili Sauce:
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 large chilis, roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped (Notes on roasting: Heat up your oven to 425, cut your peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems and seeds. Coat with some olive oil and place on a lightly greased baking sheet and roast for about 20-25 minutes. When done, throw the peps in a paper bag the second they come out of the oven. Close it up and steam them. Once they have cooled down, the skins should come right off)
3 tsps. chili powder (ancho, if possible)
1 1/2 tsps. cumin
1 tsp. marjoram
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsps. salt

Potato and Kale Filling:
1 pound red potatoes
1/2 lb. kale, washed, trimmed and chopped
3 tbs. olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup water (or veggie broth if you have an open container on hand)
3 tbs. lime juice (plus some extra wedges for serving)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
12-14 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 375 and have ready a large casserole dish.

Prepare the enchilada sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions in oil for 4-7 minutes, until softened…you know the procedure. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. When it has cooled enough, taste for seasoning then puree with an immersion or regular blender until smooth.

Prepare the filling: Peel and dice the potatoes, then boil them until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cook the oil and minced garlic in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is sizzling and slightly browned. Add the kale, sprinkle with a little salt, and raise the heat to medium, stirring constantly to cover the kale with oil and garlic. Partially cover the pot to steam the kale until it has wilted, about 5 minutes. You can add a little bit of water too to help along the steaming process and to prevent any scorching.

Make the enchiladas: Have ready a pie plate filled with about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, your casserole dish, a stack of corn tortillas, a lightly-greased and heated skillet (for softening the tortillas), and the potato/kale mixture.

Ladle a little bit of the enchilada sauce into the casserole dish and spread it around. Take a corn tortilla, place it on the heated skillet for 30 seconds, flip it over and heat until it has become soft. Drop the tortilla into the pie plate filled with sauce, allow it to get totally soaked, flip it over and coat the other side.

Place the tortilla in the casserole dish and then layer it with another heated, sauce-covered tortilla. Run the potato filling down the middle and roll it up. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, tightly packing the enchiladas next to each other.

Pour about a cup of the sauce over the top (saving some for later), cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Top individual servings with the remaining enchilada sauce, a dollop of sour cream and a squirt of lime juice.