Goodbye, August. You were hot and sticky and you made me be 40 years old. You won’t be missed. But September comes with the promise of slightly less-stifling weather and new and different allergies. And also food! So ready your taste buds and your tasty buddies and enjoy the monthly features that are featured all this month at our local restaurants.
Picasso Cafe pays tribute to three world-class chefs who died this year — Joel Robuchon, Paul Bocuse and Anthony Bourdain — by serving dishes for which they were known. All are a la carte, so they can be mixed and matched with the rest of the menu. Some chefs might be worried putting on their versions of famous chefs’ fare, but if anyone is capable, it’s chefs Ryan Parrott and Chris McKenna.
Steak frites au poivre is a classic and definitely great for steak lovers, but I’m extremely in love with coq au vin — literally “rooster with wine” — because it’s an all-time French comfort food great. Chicken is slowly braised in wine, vegetables, bacon and mushrooms, rendering the meat supple and moist and deeply flavorful.
For dessert, the honey and pear clafoutis is another French first-team Hall of Famers. Custard, sliced pears, honey and powdered sugar dusted almonds. The flavor and texture (and look) combine for a deluge of sensory treats.
Low-carb, no-carb, keto, whatever you call it: if you can’t have rice, eating sushi rolls gets difficult. Not so with Tokyo’s September special roll. You get all the classic fillings — tuna, salmon and crabstick — plus some creamy avocado for a boost of flavor. And it’s all wrapped up in thin slices of cucumber and floating in a shallow pool of ponzu sauce. The ponzu adds a brightness to the roll and I recommend spicing it up with a little wasabi, but this is great for sushi beginners, too. (Advanced sushi eaters out to check out the seared sablefish nigiri, btw. It’ll fast become your new favorite fish.)
With the State Fair coming to town, S&B’s chose to go big with their September flavors by adding hot links to their burgers and fries. The Link-182 Burger takes their normal half-pound burger, slathers on queso, adds fried onions and pickled red onions and a Schwab’s hot link. It’s more than a mouthful, for sure, but the flavors are spot-on. Usually I’m not a big hot link guy, but this is a quality sausage with a texture that’s more firm and meaty than some squishier hot links. The spice brings flavor, but not too much heat, if that’s your concern. My only wish is that the hot link were sliced as it is on the fries, to make for a more evenly spaced flavor rather than a few big hot link bites.
I think these are the winner, this month. The potato wedges are thick and creamy and the addition of peppers, queso and pickled onions is wonderful. The thinly sliced hot link looks as if it was seared on the griddle, which I endorse, and it makes for a wonderful side dish. You can certainly try and eat this with your fingers, but if you’re not trying to make a mess, maybe grab a fork instead.
Is it a cookie? Is it a pie? It’s...well, I was going to say “both,” but technically it’s just a pie. Still, if you’re a fan of oatmeal cookies (as I am), you’re going to find a lot to recommend the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pie. It’s reminiscent of a pecan pie, with that sweet, ooey-gooey butter/sugar/egg mixture layered over chopped walnuts, but with the addition of oatmeal and chocolate chips for a chewy, crunchy texture that I found delightful. It’s quite sweet, but I still think you ought to add fresh whipped cream to the top. Because you should add fresh whipped cream to just about everything.