Tag Archives: cameron hughes

Spicy Green Bean Makes a Mean Meal!

Remember to enter my giveaway for a pair of Sprigs Earbags before it ends tomorrow night!

We certainly live in a small world…I recently discovered that my friend Maria of the Glastonbury Rotary Club, who I met through blogging about events of theirs like the Lobster Fest, has a niece (Teresa) who just so happens to be an owner of The Spicy Green Bean here in town. She and her wife Kasha (the head chef) run this hole-in-the wall style restaurant/deli, which is open for lunch on weekdays, breakfast on weekends, and dinner Thursday-Saturday. The dinner menu changes every week, so it’s always fresh; it’s also called Kooky Konkoctions, so it’s always creative. Oh, and it’s always BYOB. This place has Caitlin written all over it!

I love the lights!

I actually have already been for dinner once before and had a great experience, but after Maria introduced me to Teresa on Facebook one day I offered to come in again so I could write a classic Cait Plus Ate restaurant review. Thankfully, Teresa and Kasha were open to having me – and my mom – for dinner this past Thursday night.

Just call her Vanna White!

We brought a bottle of Cameron Hughes Lot 258 Malbec (2010, Mendoza, Argentina).

Spicy Green Bean charges no cork fee!

Upon being seated in the adorable restaurant, my mom and I were served a special surprise from Kasha – her famous shortribs in a spicy BBQ sauce. My mom was hesitant to dig in at first – she does not normally join me on my adventurous foodie outings and while she is in love with her favorite foods, she isn’t used to trying new ones without someone to “reassure” her that she’ll like them. Well, I reassured her plenty.

Go Mom!

Mom loved these shortribs – and so did I! The meat practically fell off the bone and the BBQ sauce was the perfect amount of spicy. Yes my mouth was on fire after I finished my rib, but in a pleasant way, if that makes any sense.

Step one – be served amazing shortribs.

Second step…demolish.

Step three…no chance.

For our next “surprise”, my mom and I were served an app from the week’s dinner menu – Krazy Korean pancakes!

Asian-infused batter tossed with shrimp, crab, and tangy kimchi. Lightly fried and served with a soy rice vinegar sauce.

I had actually been dying to try this app but didn’t order it with my entree because I didn’t think I’d be able to finish both. So this sampler size portion was perfect! Again, the kimchi gave it a kick, but a fitting amount. I could definitely taste the shrimp and crab, so the dish certainly wasn’t too batter-dominated or overly fried. Some menus lie when they say dishes are “lightly fried”, but Spicy Green Bean is an Honest Abe…they cannot tell a lie!

Double fistin dishes!

I was savoring and enjoying each bite, a bit too slowly, because my entree’s starter salad came out before I knew it. And what a salad it was! I am always so very impressed by a restaurant that gives me a salad with some meat to it (only no actual meat..). Crispy sweet potato (I think) straws FTW! And the vinaigrette rocked!

My mom and I wanted to get in more veggies and go with some #plantPOWER-style sides, but there were not really many on the menu. No problem…Kasha kindly whipped us up a root veggie medley to go with each of our entrees. And let me tell you, it was one of the most wonderful veggie sides I have ever tasted! So much garlic, and wonderful EVOO.

DROOL. I miss it.

For her entree my mom chose a sandwich she got on her only other visit to the Spicy Green Bean; she loved it that much she had to have it again. She also shared some bites with me and I can see why! Behold the Bean’s veggie burger topped with pickles, tomato, lettuce, and red onions. With spicy brown mustard on the side of COURSE.

An interior with barely any filler, and a perfectly crisp, crunchy exterior.

I chose a seafood entree (duh): sole topped with spinach, with the sherried lemon butter on the side. The tomatoes also ended up coming on the side in the butter, but I picked them out and after dabbing off the excess, enjoyed them in all their red glory.

I do have to admit that I was a little put off by the fact that the sole came fried. I had asked our waitress at the start of the meal if it was a fried fish, and she told me it was not, just lightly sauteed. However it wasn’t really a big deal because I peeled off the fried portion and enjoyed the white, moist fish flesh within. It’s all good!

Cheers to family and food!

The Spicy Green Bean also caters and even does Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners! The order deadline for those has passed but my mom and I got a kick out of checking out the tasty (and quite affordable) menu. I wouldn’t mind having the Bean prepare my Turkey Day feast!

The walls are covered with locally made art by J. Silver Graphics. The originals on the walls are even for sale! Oh, and J. Silver does beer pong tables. You’re welcome for that info. Unique Christmas gift, holla!

The white boards on the right list the daily specials and soups. The selection of the latter sounded quite cozy and comforting!

Kasha offered us dessert (and even more foodie surprises…oof!) but my mom and I were too full and declined. We were overwhelmed by the kindness, genuine enthusiasm, and passion the Spicy Green Bean employees have for the restaurant, the menu, the people that come in…everything! I can’t recommend this restaurant enough and am so psyched to finally make it to a BYOB breakfast soon…thank you to Kasha, Teresa, Maria, and everyone else at the Spicy Green Bean who made my night out with my mom possible – and positively palatable!

Though I received a couple of samples during this meal free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Which of the foodie features in this post would you most want to try?

Do you have any local “hole in the wall” style restaurants like this in your home town? How about BYOB?

CW’s Chops ‘n Catch: Lamb & Wine Dinner

Firstly, I know it’s not Wednesday anymore (thank God), but happy belated Wonky Wednesday – please head over to Heather’s blog to see what I mean, and see me making a fool of myself. You’re welcome.

Secondly, tonight is my last day of night school for the semester. Hallelujah! I am taking summer classes but that doesn’t start until mid-June, so I’m going to enjoy the upcoming 1.5 months of not having to go to class after work. It really, really sucks.

And thirdly, I attended yet another wine and food pairing dinner at CW’s Chops n Catch two Mondays ago (and one Monday ago, but that recap will have to wait). You can read about the last two I attended here and here.

A fellow Glastonbury blogger and foodie, Kevin, joined me for an evening of lamb paired with Cameron Hughes wines. Being a Greek food lover, the over-abundance of lamb didn’t bother me one bit.

First fashion, then food.

Sweater: Forever 21

Earrings/Bracelet: Charlotte Russe

Jeggings: American Eagle

Watch: Fossil

Boots: some really cheap store in Buckland Hills Mall (across from Express, for locals)

Passed appetizer course on my favorite CW’s cutting board

Kevin was kind enough to put up with me being 15 minutes late because I had to shower after sneaking in 30 minutes of Spin! Not bad post-workout-fuel, eh? Homemade tzatziki sauce with warm pita and beer-braised lamb sausage with a brown mustard! I don’t think this pita was homemade, it tasted very store-bought, but the tzatziki was unique and unlike any kind I’ve purchased in a grocery store. Sausage was cooked to perfection, you may see that phrase a lot in this review.

First course

Next up was a pulled lamb shank slider on a house-made Parker House roll with feta fondue, preserved lemon (on the left) and harissa aioli (on the right).  The small plate was paired with Cameron Hughes Lot 266 Los Carneros Pinot Noir (2009), which was quite good but a little lighter than what I was craving with such a hearty course.

The aioli was dynamite and the lemon was a unique accent but the real star of the show was of course the pulled lamb. We were served mint jelly with this course, to be used throughout the meal, and I tried it on a few bites. Quite interesting – not sure if it’s my thing, though I was glad to finally sample the epic lamb and mint pairing I’ve heard so much about. Despite the fact that the roll was freshly baked, crispy on the outside, and not too much bread that it overpowered the lamb, I didn’t finish it all because I wanted to save room for what I figured was coming next…

Between courses

Even with all this food, there is usually bread served at these Chops n Catch dinners to help space out the courses. What I like about the bread is that it and the butter often change with each visit, so you never know what you’ll get. The above crispy sourdough was new, but the butter was not – just plain, though served nice and warm for easy spreading. Kevin and I got into a very long discussion about our pet peeve, cold butter. This was probably fueled by the fact that earlier that day I had written about that very annoyance. Anyways, I had one piece.

Second course

The most unique dish of the evening was the above leg of lamb satay with a green goddess dressing and tempura asparagus. Not exactly sure what was in that dressing (and hearing the name reminded me of Annie’s Goddess dressing, a blog world gem) but it was AMAZING! As you can probably see above, the lamb satay was drizzled with balsamic, which was an amazing flavor combo with every other component of the plate. I adored the crispy exterior of the lamb too – but it was still so nice, pink, and juicy inside. Finally, the asparagus impressed me the most because though it was fried, I could still TELL that I was eating asparagus. So often with fried food, the taste of the food itself is drowned out by oil and breading. Not here!

The course was paired with Cameron Hughes Lot 261 Alexander Valley Cabernet (2009). This vineyard’s bottle prices start at $35, but through Cameron Hughes one can purchase it for $13! I loved this cab far more than others I’ve tried because it had such a strong flavor and wasn’t too light.

Main course

Compared to the other dishes, the presentation of the main course of a simply grilled lamb loin and chop duo with Manchego and potato croquettes looks a bit sad, doesn’t it? But it tasted anything but. Firstly, you can see that the lamb was once again cooked very well – nice and juicy with a slightly charred exterior, just the way I like it. I honestly couldn’t taste a huge difference between the chop and the loin, but it was fun to have a couple of different “forms” of lamb on my plate in one dish anyway. The croquettes were so out of this world…think a gourmet tater-tot filled with fancy cheese. And crispier than a normal tater tot. Yeah, that’s heaven.

This course’s wine pairing, a Cameron Hughes Lot 245 North Coast Zinfandel (2009), had me weary. Typically I don’t like red zin because a) I can’t get white zin out of my head and I openly admit that negatively biases me and b) it’s usually too light. Again, the hearty lamb seemed destined to be paired with a full-bodied red. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually my favorite wine of the evening, and it paired well with both the lamb and the croquettes.

Dessert course

Finally, we have dessert. I didn’t find out what kind of wine was served with it specifically, but there’s not much to talk about because it was a Cameron Hughes Moscato that I did not enjoy at ALL. Not their fault…moscato is far too sweet and far too carbonated for my taste. Bleh! I only took a couple sips, paired with a bite of each part of the above dessert plate, to see how the flavor combos were. Alas, the wine and my dislike for it crowded my judgement of the pairings.

I was wined out by that point anyway (the rep was VERY generous about topping off glasses between courses) and was fine with focusing on the food. And oh man, what a good batch of food it was! On the top is a Greek dessert galaktoboureko and home-made whipped cream. The latter was soo rich, like the Starbucks whipped cream. The Greek pastry was made with the classic phyllo dough of Greek desserts, filled with a tasty custard. Amazing! On the lower part of the plate is Easter bread with yogurt, sprinkled with powdered sugar. The yogurt was plain Greek, my favorite kind! The bread was not too sweet, which is good because the powdered sugar would have been too much.

And we capped off the whole meal with a shooter of ouzo. OPA!!!

Thanks to the always-magnificent Chef Corey Wry for designing and cooking up a fantastic menu!

Do you like lamb? Have you ever tried ouzo? Which of these courses would you want to try most?