Friday, February 17, 2006

Buffalo Grill

A western-themed restaurant that serves buffalo is probably the most anachronistic culinary stop possible in France... viewed from an American perspective. The French, though, seem to think it's a splendid idea, something a little out of the ordinary, perhaps? So it's not surprising (or if it is, it shouldn't be) that there are over 100 Buffalo Grill locations across France, and 10 within Paris itself, with several more locations spilling across national borders into Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain. (There are identically named, but unrelated, restaurants in the United States and Scotland.)

I lunched at the Boulevard St. Germain location in Paris with friends who are graduate students at the nearby Pierre & Marie Curie University (a prominent science and medical school) this January, and it was a good lunch.

I had the hache de bison, a decent-sized serving of buffalo steak that's been chopped somewhat. It came with french fries (well, pommes frites, but the French don't seem to mind being their namesake stateside) and was delicious. Two of my friends, if I recall, had beef, while one had filete dorade. The Dorade, also known as the Dorado, is a fish that we in Hawaii call Mahi-Mahi. It's quite popular here, and I was pleased to see it available in Europe as well.

For dessert, I enjoyed sorbet panache, three different flavors of fruit sorbet. My favorite by far was either raspberry or blackberry. One of the others had coupe america, which sounds like a car but was actually a generous and nice-looking ice cream sundae.

The decor, staff uniforms, background music (country, and not even good country, at that) all make the restaurant feel like the sort of "themed" restaurant one might be slightly ashamed to be seen in, were it actually in America. Prices are a bit more than in the U.S. - four of us managed to spend about $67 - but the listed prices include tax (of almost 20%) and tip, so they're not quite as bad as they sound.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Slogging toward silver

I managed to get Northwest to credit me the miles for my Paris-Amsterdam segment on KLM, bringing my Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) so far for the year to 16,158. Go, me!

My upcoming trip to Mexico is booked on Continental (including some codeshares on Hawaiian), which means I get miles, but it's in fare class Q (that's a discounted economy one), meaning I probably only get 50% EQM... so Travelocity thinks flying 10,360 miles will get me 5,180 EQM. Which would, of course, leave me at 21,338 - significantly shy of the 25,000 total needed for Silver Elite status on Northwest. 

However, both Northwest's and Continental's web sites seem to think that people in their programs get 100% EQM for flights in Q on Hawaiian, so I might actually be at 21,838 after Mexico. I'll have to wait and see.

After Mexico, I'm still contemplating a family trip over to Maui on Hawaiian, which would be worth at least another 1,000 EQM... maybe I should take a few such trips! Or maybe (well, definitely) I should call Hawaiian about the LAX-HNL-ITO segments I was unable to use in December, and see whether I can do something with them for less than the cost of a full round trip to Los Angeles.

The goal, of course, would be to have Silver Elite status before my trip to New York in May... and to thus have access to better seats and so on.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Recipe: Generalized Rollup (my favorite food)

Category:   Meat & Seafood
Style:   American
Special Consideration:   Quick and Easy
Servings:   4-6


This is a flexible, frugal dish that my parents encountered in college, and have passed on to my generation. It's very filling and pretty cheap - multiple people can have a meal or two for the cost of one fast-food "value meal" - so it's a good choice for large families, college students, and all the rest of us who aren't fabulously wealthy just yet.

"Hamburger Rollup" was my favorite dish as a child, and of course my mother handed down the recipe. Nowadays, it might be made using other ground meat instead of hamburger, but it can be adapted to fit just about any diet.

Ground meat - This can be beef, turkey, buffalo, ostrich, a ground meat substitute, or... well, basically whatever you prefer. It takes less than a pound to feed three people, and a little over a pound would feed five.

Biscuit dough
- You can make it from scratch. You can use a mix, like Bisquick. I suspect even pre-made Pillsbury biscuit dough from the refrigerated section at the supermarket would work, but I haven't tried it yet.  I used to buy little pouches of just-add-water Bisquick mix that had dried milk in them, but the dried milk would form hard clumps, so now I use just-add-milk Bisquick mix, the same kind I'd use for waffles.

Milk - a tablespoon or two.  Can be soy milk or whatever you like.
Flour - a tablespoon or two again.  Doesn't matter if it's wheat, white, gluten-free, etc.

Anything else you feel like adding. I usually put in chopped onions and diced green peppers, but chopped zucchini would also work, or garlic, or beans, or spices, or... whatever! Really!

Any toppings you want. Some folks put pasta sauce and shredded mozarella on theirs before eating it; others use melted American cheese. The Amish top theirs with a mushroom sauce. I eat mine plain. This is 
totally about doing things your way.


Find a skillet, a wooden spoon to stir stuff around a bit, a couple bowls and a baking pan or pie plate (Pyrex ones work well for this).

If you're putting in onions, cook them some first, in the skillet.

Add the meat to the skillet and cook it 'til it's browned.

Add the flour and milk to this mix, and set it all aside to cool. If you can chill it for a bit in a refrigerator or freezer, it'll be even easier to work with. (Note: You can make a big batch of this stuff and freeze it for later use.)

Mix up some biscuit dough (or take it out of the container you bought it in, you lazy slacker!) and roll it out flat.

Spread the filling out on the flat dough.
If you're putting in diced peppers or whatever, sprinkle them on top of the filling.

Starting at one edge of the dough, roll it up, as if you were rolling up a rug (which just happened to have meat spread all over it). When you're done, you'll have a long thing of roughly cylindrical shape with a spiral cross-section.

Cut this into segments about 2 inches long (thus revealing the spiral cross-section) and arrange them, spiral side up, in a buttered/greased/sprayed baking pan. They don't need to have a lot of space between them, but the dough will expand a little when baked.
Add any toppings you need to put on before baking.

Stick the baking pan in the oven for 20 minutes at 425 F / 220 C. Basically, just follow the instructions for baking your biscuit dough - the filling is already cooked, after all.

Remove it from the oven, and use a spatula to take out individual segments. If you want to put condiments on 'em, go for it. Stuff yourself. If you've got leftovers, they'll keep for a couple days in the refrigerator, and can be reheated in the oven or microwave.

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