Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too

Holy crap I just had one of the best meals ever!! I’m so excited I’m not even sure I can give you specific details about everything (that and I inhaled my food, not leaving much time for contemplation). Also, I am REALLY really full, so I need to sprawl out flat on the couch as soon as possible.

After a highly physical day (18 miles on my bike followed by a SUPER hard hour of Physique) we needed somewhere to go for dinner. Too tired to cook and STARVING. I found Miss Mamie’s by an NY Mag search, a critics pick on the Upper West Side. After reading the reviews that I’d find the best collard greens and fried chicken in Manhattan, and that this place was frequented by the likes of Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson and Angela Bassett, I knew I’d found the place for dinner. A short cab ride later to 110th and Columbus, we arrived. Yay!

Having already perused the menu on the ride up, I was already fairly sure of what I was ordering, but I used the 15 minute wait to check out everyone else’s food. I was right, it all looked delicious and my selection would be the best choice. The decor of Miss Mamie’s was decidedly 1950’s, and I felt I could have been somewhere in the south. We sat down, and ordered drinks. To my joy, the Iced Tea was in fact Sweet Tea, and that, my friends, was one amazing jar of sweet tea. They added mint to it, so refreshing.

As I may have mentioned before, I was STARVING (you would be too, if you’d done that much exercise in one day). Luckily they brought out a plate of corn bread. Oh sweet, moist (I hate dry corn bread), corn bread. It just melted in your mouth, perfectly void of those stupid kernels of corn. Who ever thought that was a good idea?? And I’m not saying it was some of the best corn bread ever b/c I was so hungry, it truly was!!

And it was warm.

After an agonizing wait, our food came. I ordered the sampler plate (of course!!! you get to try as many things in one go!!! I LOVE this option on menus!!!). This my friends, was “smaller” portions (no, really, they were smaller than if you ordered the full plates) of all the best things on the menu: fried chicken, shrimps (I substituted for gravy chicken), ribs (both short AND North Carolina barbecue) and your choice of three sides! Heaven! My sides were the collard greens, mashed potatoes and corn bread stuffing. BEST COLLARD GREENS I’VE EVER HAD. And I don’t make that statement lightly. Libby Keating has taken me to some of the best Southern home cooking joints outside of Nashville, most notably Barbara’s, but these greens were truly phenomenal. Not bitter, perfectly seasoned with pork. I think they were my favorite part. Ohhh yum. The mashed potatoes and gravy were delicious, and I liked the corn bread stuffing, but only for a couple bites. I was getting too full, and they were a bit too much bread/starch, in light of the rest of my plate. The protein winners on my plate were the fried chicken ($1 extra for white meat) and the North Carolina barbeque ribs. Ohhh yum. The skin was crispy on the chicken, and the meat moist. The BBQ ribs had such a good sauce and the meat just fell off the bone. I even got a little on my cheeks. Okay, a lot on my cheeks. The short ribs weren’t my favorite, but they weren’t bad. They had a sweetness to them that I found interesting (in a good way). I have to admit, at this point, I didn’t even make it to the smothered chicken (relax, it was more fried chicken covered in gravy, it wasn’t like I would actually leave a stone unturned. I got the gist).

I can honestly say this isn’t some NYC-bastardized version of Southern cooking. It was divine, I was thoroughly impressed. I had a giant grin all over my face the entire time. I cannot wait to come back – out of town guests get ready, and bring some pants that have some room in them. I’m not 100% sure on what I’ll get the next time, I loved the chicken AND the ribs, so I don’t know what to choose. Hopefully I’ll go back with someone who wants to share, and we can have both! Or, I might get the barbecue chicken. Definitely the collard greens.

I so full.

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Easy fancy light pasta – I just made it up

Tonight I got to make dinner the way I like it. I could have whatever I wanted, no one else was adding their input because they weren’t hungry and having dinner, so I was free to follow my fancy. The only thing was that I wanted it to be somewhat light, and quick. I’m such a sucker for pasta so I decided that would be my base (also, because I already had a box of¬†Conchigliette at home AND I just finished a grueling hour of Physique). I didn’t want to do the traditional tomato sauce and so I found myself trolling Whole Foods (dangerous, I know) in search of treats for my shells.

When I was a kid, and my mom was out of town, my dad would be left to figure out what to make my brother and I for dinner. I’m fairly certain there were a number of disagreements, but I think my dad really hit the jackpot when he figured out that he could make spaghetti, melt a little butter and toss in some capers to top off the dish and my brother and I would go crazy. Who knew adding capers to butter and pasta could have such an effect. And my dad really let us get into the capers – a whole little jar gone, in one night! With that in mind, I went straight to the olive bar where the capers are stashed. What next? Thankfully the produce section is right next to the olive bar, so I pushed my cart around, stopping to pick up ingredients as I thought they’d go well together.

Here’s what I ended up with:¬†A lemon, arugula, a leek, kalamata olives.

Here’s what I ended up using: Arugula and the leek. I ate too many of the olives and decided I was too lazy to cut the rest of them up. I still wouldn’t rule them out. I didn’t use the lemon, mostly for the reason that I didn’t want to have a half open lemon in the fridge. Pure laziness. But I think both would still go well with everything else, so if you are more motivated than myself, I’d say go for it. Also, leeks are one of my favorite vegetables. So underrated.

Put on a pot of water. While waiting for it to boil, cut up some garlic, and slice up the leek. Adjust to your own personal tastes, and the quantity of pasta you are making. Some people might be offended by extreme garlic breath, but you might like it too much to care. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box. I liked the Conchigliette because the capers hid in the shell and weren’t hard to chase around my bowl. Cook the pasta, drain, and set to the side (you could alternatively do the next steps in a pan while the pasta cooks, but that gets a whole other pan dirty, and I told you, we are lazy). In the same pan, drop in some olive oil, a heart friendly amount. Drop in the leek and garlic, cooking until the leeks are soft, about 4 minutes or so. For some kick add some chili flakes. At the very end, toss in as many capers as you like, DON’T HOLD BACK! Or do, in case you had to buy a jar, and you couldn’t buy in bulk (I’m sorry, but sometimes Whole Foods IS cheaper. Capers. In bulk). Stir around, heating the capers. Toss the mixture into the pasta that had been set aside. I added the arugula at this point, and not in the pan as I didn’t want it to over cook/wilt/get too soggy, but the pasta is still a bit warm so it’s not like a weird pasta/salad combination. If I’d not been so lazy, I’d have added the olives (but perhaps too many strong flavors at this point?) and maybe a bit of the lemon juice. Top with grated parmesan. Voila, dinner in less than 20 minutes.