Public House Field Trip

There is always that one place you can go to grab a quick bite and maybe a drink…or vice versa.  That place that everyone knows your name.

The other day, for my “Expressions of Food” class, we met at a restaurant named Public House.  Public House, located off Colley Ave in Norfolk, VA,  is a dark but homey atmosphere where I felt everyone was going to shout out my name when I walked in.  It was as though I had walked in to an American spin-off of an English Pub, although I’ve never actually been to one.

We had a rather large group, but our waiter, Matt,  made us all feel as though we were sitting alone.  I was very impressed with the speed and personal service that was given.  Public House is well-known for their Bacon and Egg Cocktail, having been featured in the national Huffington Post, however, I just ordered my usual champagne and cranberry Poinsettia to start the meal off.  It was a beautiful mixture of the two components, the champagne being bubbly and crisp and the cranberry adding just enough tartness to make it refreshing.

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For my meal I ordered the club sandwich which was pretty standard as far as club sandwiches go.  They were quite accommodating when I asked not to have cheddar included in the layers of cheese and meat offerings, but fell a little short when I requested to have it all between 2 slices of bread and not three.  I’m honestly not quite sure if only two slices would have supported everything that was jam-packed into the sandwich, so I made due and took the extra layer out myself.  I do wish I had been more courageous in trying something else after seeing everyone else’s plates, but I have to say that my sandwich was up in the top five for club’s that I have eaten in the past.  Rather than fries, my plate had a side of sliced apples which was a very fresh respite from the heaviness of the bread, meat and cheese.  I did try my neighbor’s fries which I have to say were quite good and the amount served on the plate was far too many for one person.

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Considering the large group we had, it went well and all the food brought to the table was in a very timely manner.  No one had to wait on theirs and from what I could tell all the orders were as requested, without having to send anything back.  Kudos to our Waiter Matt, for getting everything correct!

I highly recommend Public House if you’re in the Norfolk area.  I’ve decided to go back after reading several of their reviews and order the Blue collar Mac and Cheese.  Just from the comments I’ve read, I’m already drooling, thinking of a tangy blue cheese sauce over the macaroni.  I cannot wait to revisit.

Maybe next time they’ll even call out my name when I walk in!

 

Pecan Squares and Class

No matter what we do in life, we all need to continue learning our craft.  It only makes us better at what we love..  I started this blog a year ago, jumping in and not really knowing what I was doing.  And if we’re really being honest here, I still wonder if I know what I’m doing!

A friend and local food expert teaches a class in food writing, called “Expressions in Food”.  It’s instructional in writing blogs, journals, and food reviews so I thought it might give me some insight and help improve my blog I share with all of you.  (you’re still out there….right?)

Our first class suggested we bring snacks to share.  I had a weekend of Super Bowl, moving into a new office and this class so I decided to bake Pecan Squares, courtesy of Ina Garten.  The recipe makes so many I could cover everything with one dish! So I trudged in with my plate of bars, everyone brought their food of choice and our instructor, Patrick brought wine.  Now that is my type of class!

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For two and a half hours, we shared our interest in the class, drank wine and ate our snacks, all while learning how to describe what we were eating.  It was a cornucopia of smells, textures and flavors, from creamy onion dip that jumped off the salty crunch of the potato chip around the plate to the sweet caramel and sandy texture of the pecan squares.  What a tasty way to spend my Sunday afternoon!

I left the class, happily anticipating the next one and I hope it helps me to relay to you my love of food and recipes in such a way that you will love to read my blog even more than you do now.

Happy reading (and eating everyone)!

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Pecan Squares and Class

20 large or 40 small squares

Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 20 large

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Topping
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup good honey
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teapoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pounds pecan, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes.

  3. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.

  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined.

  6. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 x 12 x 1 inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be sticky, sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour.

  7. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

  8. For the topping, combine butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.

  9. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes.

  10. Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream and pecans.

  11. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan.

  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. **NOTE**

  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

  14. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

  15. Cut into bars and serve. (at this time if you wish to make your bars a bit more decadent, dip or drizzle with warm chocolate.)

  16. **NOTE** This filling may bubble over the edge. Place a large baking sheet or aluminum foil on a lower oven rack to catch the drips.

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