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 ([][][]).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Black Russian

The grill special today was nothing special.  As I ordered it, the grill master joked, "It's an African in Siberia."  I did not find the punch line comedic, but laughed so as to earn his favor and ensure the proper cooking of my meat.  The Black Russian is roast beef with melted swiss cheese and thousand island dressing on rye.  It tastes like a reuben with something missing - and the roast beef was chewy.  While it's not recommendable it's also not one for the wastebasket.  Next.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pumping Oil

How many vats of oil does it take to run the FoCo grill you ask? Enough that a pumping system is necessary to keep it going. Unfortunately, the automatic drainage system was not working last night so one of the grill masters had to use the pictured manual pumping mechanism to drain the old oil. Does the old oil from your Joyo then go to the Big Green Bus?

Monday, February 2, 2009

FoCo Pasta

You have two options - meat or marinara. However, even the meat is drenched in heartburn ridden marinara. The taste is mediocore, and the texture watery. But sometimes, it beats the dinner special so you go for it. Get a salad.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

FoCo Widescreen

What were they thinking?  With budget cuts abound, someone in DDS must have a spending hangover.  Imagine the cost in employee hours of someone having to update the graphics each day plus the original cost of purchasing the screen and installing it with tens of feet of cable.  It is not like a whiteboard could have served the same purpose...

All this while raising prices on students the last year!  A six dollar chicken sandwich?!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dinner Review: Tilapia

Tonight's dinner was a disappointment.  The tilapia was watery and bland, making one regretful of the decision to choose it as a second dinner, especially when Homeplate featured sirloin steak.  The accompanying green beans were standard faire, neither taking away nor adding to the meal as a whole.  The mashed potatoes were the one bright spot of the combination featuring a smooth texture and delicate flavoring.  The potatoes leave a sanguine sense of the future of FoCo spuds.

(FoCo Tilapia Dinner pictured in to-go container at Homeplate.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The JoYo

A FoCo grill classic!  The JoYo is a chicken cheese steak with ranch, hot sauce, cheese, and veggies.  It is a tad spicy for those who do not care for spice, a bit fattening for those who do not care for fat, and a little large for those that do not care for big things in their mouth.  However, this iconic sandwich is probably the most cited of the grill's "secret menu".  Most importantly, as my dear friend C. Plank points out, "'s not even that good compared to like a regular cheese steak but the grill guys think you're so much more legit.  And isn't that what really matters?"  Yes indeed, Plank, yes indeed.

(The JoYo pictured in a FoCo to-go container at Collis.)

PS Checkout the new poll on the right ---->>>>

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Muffalato

With its blend of three cheeses and three meats, The Muffalato is pure decadence.  But its hefty ingredient list and artisan bread will stretch your DBA, making The Muffalato one of FoCo's most pricey sandwiches.  Certainly only the finest of FoCo patrons can be spied on campus indulging in its carnal pleasure.  The origin of the sandwich can likely be traced to the muffuletta of New Orleans, perhaps to a southern belle who took a short term position behind the FoCo sandwich station (see here for more information).  When the fortune from your fraternity memoir comes through, and you are depressed because your significant other let you go for a freshman, give The Muffalato a ride through your alimentary canal.

(The Muffalato pictured with no tomatoes on a FoCo to-go wrap.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Master Blaster

No, it is not the name of a great MC or porn star - rather it is the name of an exquisite blending of two opposing titans of flavor.  The Master Blaster, another item from the FoCo grill's "secret menu", consists of a breaded chicken filet doused in teriyaki and buffalo sauce all on texas toast.  The combination of the two varied flavors makes The Master Blaster a sandwich not for the faint of heart.  Yet, there is something strangely alluring about its strength and vigor even for those who only infrequently partake in grill consumption.  Give The Master Blaster a chance, if not for its flavor then at least for its novelty.

(Half of a Master Blaster pictured with blue cheese dressing on a FoCo plate.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Quadzilla

Now, we leave the realm of the healthy and enter that of the indulgent.  The Quadzilla is part of the grill's "secret menu".  It consists of four hamburger patties stacked vertically on a single bun.  Its principal advantage over the HOP's Big Bad Burger is a decrease in preparation time due to the use of four individual patties.  While this dish may be artery clogging and even a little perverse, it sometimes serves as the perfect antidote to the unfortunate night time antics that many at the college find themselves participating in.  The carefully trained FoCo eye will have noticed that within the past couple of years the FoCo grill has started using thicker, more juicy patties for its burgers, making an '09 Quadzilla much more substantial than its '06 brethren.

(The Quadzilla pictured with cheese and ketchup on a FoCo plate by The Rachel.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Healthy Cheese Steak?!

You may consider the term 'healthy cheese steak' a bit of an oxymoron.  Yet, FoCo delivers!  The key is the removal of the fatty cheese as well as the carbohydrate filled bread.  What one is then left with is pure protein and those essential veggies.  Opt for chicken instead of steak to seal the deal.  There is still plenty of taste to go around.

(Chicken Cheese Steak with "the works", no cheese, and no bread pictured in FoCo to-go container.)

PS Comments should now be working.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dinner Review: Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

My dinner companion and I decided to try the Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Garlic Tort at FoCo tonight.  While the texture was smooth, and the aroma pleasing, the garlic flavor was fairly sharp to one's sensibilities.  The jasmine rice had a hint of jasmine but a general sentiment near that of Japanese sticky rice.  In sum the plate was satisfactory but not one to write home about.

(Pictured on a FoCo plate and FoCo tray.)

A Mis-Wrapped Carnival Derivative

The Carnival, is a sensual sandwich which will be covered in a future post.  Although not listed on the FoCo sandwich board, it is a special every few weeks and if asked for, the attendants will understand your bidding.  In this photo you shall spy a similar, healthier cousin of The Carnival from the FoCo sandwich station.  What really gives The Carnival its kick is the combination of avocado and dijon mustard - which sounds exotic but must be tried to be understood.  This wrap does away with The Carnival's bacon and substitutes the ham for healthier baked turkey.  However that essential kick from the dijon/avocado combination is still present.  Unfortunately the attendant wrapped the concoction a wee bit stout making its consumption more difficult than should be.

(Bitten into wrap pictured on FoCo sandwich to-go paper.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Rachel

Feast your eyes on the juicy tidbit that is The Rachel.  A FoCo special every week or so, although available on the FoCo "secret menu" (more about that in later posts!), The Rachel is a delight sure to entice even the casual FoCo attendee.  The Rachel is a derivative of the much lauded FoCo Grill reuben which is a staple of The College diet.  Essentially a reuben filled with a turkey derived meat, The Rachel is perfect for a quick snack or as the core of a full FoCo dinner.  Enjoy!

(Rachel pictured with fries in FoCo to-go container)

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