Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A pleasant surprise on the first day of classes....

Homeplate's dinner menu this evening was a quite a delight!

The citrus garlic scallops were harmoniously paired with a delicate coconut rice. The cashews in the rice added a nuttiness that complimented the flavor of the coconut and did well to contrast the tender texture of the scallops, which were cooked to perfection in a sweet and light sauce. I couldn't have asked for more on my first day of classes. . .

For the first time in many terms at Dartmouth, I decided to try Homeplate's famous white bean cakes with pineapple salsa, and was very pleased with the many layers of flavor that I tasted with every bite. The flavor of the tangy pineapple salsa paired nicely with the smoky peppers in the white bean cake. 5 stars

For the first day of the term, Homeplate set the bar very high--will they be able to maintain this standard for the rest of the term???

(picture of citrus garlic scallops with coconut rice and green beans; picture of white bean cakes with pineapple salsa)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lobster Dinner

Quality: 2
Presentation: 2
Creativity: NA

First year students were officially iniated into the wonderful world of DDS with the presentation of the Lobster Dinner, which features steamed Maine lobster, herbed yellow potatoes, corn on the cob, roasted chicken and a soy bean and sundried tomato salad.

Why all the hype for this meal every year, when all it does is disappoint? Tradition, perhaps?

Many first years complained about the overcooked and inedible lobster. Those who were vegetarians sat overlooking a measly slice of poorly presented cheese lasagna, while their table mates feasted on their bountiful losbster meal. And those whose pre-Dartmouth experience never exposed them to this type of delicacy sat cluelessy picking at the lobster. Certainly not a crowd pleaser.

Perhaps the best part of the meal was the yellow sheet cake with vanilla buttercream icing served for dessert.

Overall, the lobster dinner serves as a first lesson in Dartmouth taste for first year students...and this is where the question of tradition and privilege quickly enter the picture....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fridaysat Foco

Foco's menu on Friday is usually either a hit or a miss, the logic being to invent and recycle dishes using the ingredients and leftovers from earlier in the week . While this saves the folks in the kitchen a little time and money, these quick dishes rarely leave patrons' tastebuds satisfied. Today's hotline menu, Chipotle Chicken Pasta, Baby Carrots and Potato Crusted Cod offers an eccentric and somewhat pleasant change from other bland innovations.

Chipotle Chicken Pasta and Potato Crusted Cod

The pasta is at least true to its name. Farfalle is tossed with strips of grilled chicken breast and red, green, and yellow bell peppers, held together by a not too heavy alfredo sauce. The delicate sweetness of the yellow bell peppers balance the slight smoky spiciness of the dish and add to it an enjoyable and vibrant color.

I found the baby carrots to be a poor coupling to the pasta, the color taking away from the lovely presentation of the dish. A better selection would have been a simple salad of spring greens with a lightly sweetened dressing of a citrus fruit base to balance and accentuate the flavor of the pasta.

The Potato Crusted Cod, although a dish separate from the pasta and the carrots, seemed worth a try but after my first bite I immediately regretted spending the $6.95 that put my DBA at an even lower negative balance.

Tasting the cod reminded me of a similar dining experience in New York when, in a supposedly "famous "Irish Pub, I ordered the special of the day, Potato Crusted Salmon, It must have been a Friday because the waitress put in front of me what looked like the experiment of a sous-chef who had been given 7 minutes to create a dish that used all the left-overs of the week, which happened to include hashbrowns, salmon and mustard. Despite the odd aesthetics of the dish, I took a bite and immediately sensed an unpleasant collision of textures in my mouth. The tough flakiness the salmon was met by the too crispy texture of the hashbrowns. I'll avoid dwelling on the miserable taste because it will not erase the experience nor the obscene price I was charged for the meal.

World culinary traditions hold potatoes and fish as two separate entities. For example, England and the fish and chips, Spain and its famous fish dishes that use potatoes to accompany and complement the light fish and its savory flavor. But never does one find a fish dish where the potato becomes in fact part of the fish as a breading/coating/crust. Like many things in life, potato coated fish is a one time experience that is quickly followed by disappointment and sometimes an intense regret...

And for dessert...

Recycling and invention of new menus isn't limited to the hotline, one finds in the dessert case on Friday innovative cupcake recipes that can bring some form of satisfication at the end of a meal. Today Foco debuted the White Chocolate Raspberry cupcake. Shavings of white chocolate and a raspberry sauce covered chocalate truffle finish off the intricately piped vanilla buttercream icing that covers a moist yellow cake. I truly commend Foco on its innovation in the area of desserts as they add a modern and elegant twist to simple and traditional yellow cake white icing recipes. A sweet ending to a mediocre dinner.

Political Breakfast?!

Today, after finishing two final papers, I had one of my rare breakfasts at the HOP. Little did I expect my dining area to be a political space. Conspiracy theorist(s) had a large sign up on a table in the middle of the Courtyard Cafe's dining area titled "Question 9/11" along with pamphlets. Three elderly people were seated discussing the supposed conspiracy.

Personally, as someone from the New York City area, the whole thing made me sick to my stomach after finishing my egg whites on a wheat wrap. But, regardless of your political views, I think most of us can agree that Dartmouth's dining areas are not a place for political groups to setup shop. Whether they're extreme fringe groups or not. I just wanted to have my breakfast in peace. DDS should do something about this.

This was not the first time either, I saw the same conspiracy table setup at least twice before at the Courtyard Cafe in the last month. It's private property, can't the administration kick them out? Or are they purposely choosing to look the other way?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pesto Chicken and Fettuccine with Artichoke and Tomota

Flavors of the Mediterranean themed Homeplate's dinner menu on Wednesday, which included Pesto Chicken and Fettuccine with Artichokes and Tomato.

Since the pasta was made a vegan option I took the initiative to modify it a little by adding feta cheese from the salad bar and 2 T of virgin olive oil.

A satisfactory meal except for the rather dry and tough chicken.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dinner Review: New York Sirloin

FoCo steaks tend to come in two flavors: chewy and rare (red flank steak anyone?).  However, this sirloin dinner was a pleasant surprise.  The steak appeared to be cooked medium, and although its edges were somewhat fatty, it tasted good enough that no A1 was necessary.  The cauliflower was fairly good, but the mashed potatoes tasted instant.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dinner Review: Steak Quesadilla

The Steak Quesadilla was a pleasant surprise.  While FoCo's Mexican cuisine generally leaves something to be desired, tonight's quesadilla was both tasty and filling.  The spanish rice had a good combination of veggies, and the right level of spice.  Overall 3/5 FoCo Trays ([][][]).

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