Small Businesses and Customer Service


In the small river town of Bellevue, KY where I live there are quite a few local shops and eateries. I try my best to shop local or in family owned businesses when I can. However, I find that some of these businesses drive customers away through pour planning and customer service. The city has put much emphasis and resources into helping businesses that won’t help themselves. The key to maintaining a business is having a product that people want to buy and great customer service to deliver that product. It should be about the customer. If I wan’t to pay with a credit or debit card I should not be made to feel bad about it or pay more for it. Credit card fees are a part of doing business; either accept credit or don’t. Customers don’t like “Anti Customer Service” signs reading “Mean People Go Away” when they’re waiting fifteen minutes to buy a cup of coffee. It’s as if they know they give poor customer service and don’t care. I would rather endure 3 minutes at the CONVENIENCE store than fifteen minutes at the family owned business with poor customer service.

It’s the little things that bring people back to your business and compel them to refer people to you.

 

Just a few thoughts from a consumer!

 

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Orzo with Shrimp and Feta; Recipe


I absolutely love this recipe. Fresh oregano is a must in this Mediterranean masterpiece of simplicity. Serve cold as a summer side or main attraction. Omit shrimp for a spectacular vegetarian meal.

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta

Orzo with Shrimp and Feta

 

Ingredients:

1 Pound shelled shrimp

1 Pound Orzo Pasta

1/2 Pound feta cheese

Juice of 1-2 lemons

Extra virgin olive oil

3 Green onions slivered

3-4 Cloves finely chopped garlic

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp fresh finely chopped oregano

Handful of kosher salt for pasta water

Heat a skillet over medium heat; drizzle with olive oil and saute shrimp and garlic until cooked. About 5-6 minutes turning once. Remove immediately to a cool dish scrapping all oil and garlic out. Cool in refrigerator until ready to add to orzo.

In a large stock pot boil 4 quarts of water. Cook orzo per packaging instructions, should be between 9-11 minutes.

Tip: Heavily salt the water for cooking the orzo; this should be all the salt this dish needs!

Drain orzo into a colander; rinse for 30 seconds with cold water. Let drain for a few minutes.

In a large bowl drizzle enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add orzo, drizzle a little more olive oil and add all ingredients except feta. Mix well. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for an hour before adding feta cheese.

This recipe can easily be manipulated to make many variations. I look forward to trying this with fresh mint and parsley.

Arros con Pollo; Recipe


Perfect!

Perfect!

I was very lucky to grow up with Cuban and Puerto Rican friends in Chicago. Arros con Pollo and Arros con Gandules (Pigeon Peas) were two of my favorite dishes of all time. I would like to recognize a few people that shared some great Arroz with me over the years. Jenni Keas, Nellie Paddilla and mi Suegra (Gloria Rico). My all time favorite was when I visited my friend George Lamond in Queens NY. We walked over to George’s mom’s house and she had some Arros con Gandules for us. “Hands Down” my favorite and I’m still waiting for her recipe from George. Arros is by far the most difficult for me to master… I think you have to be Boricua to truly get it right. I could eat Puerto Rican food for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy! 

Well, I think I finally got it right due to some advice from a random Puerto Rican woman that visited The Party Source… “Let the water completely absorb into the rice before stirring and covering!!!!”

Ingredients

Whole Chicken cut up

Ingredients

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Canola or Olive oil

2 Cups Medium Grain Rice (Goya Brand)

4 Cups Boiling water

1 Can Gandules (Pigeon Peas)

8 Oz can tomato sauce

8 Oz jar Goya Sofrito

1/4 Cup Spanish Olives

1 Tbsp Alcaparras (small capers)

1 Tsp Garlic powder

The Tools

1 Tsp Black pepper

2 Packets Sazon Goya

Handful chopped cilantro

Stock Pot

Caldero (Imusa Brand)

Tongs

 

Bring 4 cups of water to a simmer and have it ready to boil when adding it to the caldero.

Heat your caldero over medium high heat and add oil. Brown chicken pieces in batches for 5 minutes on each side and remove to dish.

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Add all ingredients except rice and water to your hot caldero. Stir continuously for 5 minutes. Add chicken and rice to the pot and stir only once. Add boiling water to just cover the rice. You may not need all 4 cups of water; just enough to cover. Boil uncovered over medium high heat until water is absorbed. When the water is absorbed gently stir the pot a few times and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes covered or until the rice is tender. There should be a bottom layer of crispy rice “Pegao” at the bottom of the pan… This is delicious!

Cooking Tip: Do not over stir the rice. Resist the urge or your rice will become sticky  or “Amogollao”

Cooking the rice over too high heat will burn the rice.

Arros con Pollo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things That Make Me Smile


Over the past few years many of you have seen my facebook posts and articles I’ve written about what I dislike, hate or makes me generally unhappy! Well my life has changed so much lately and I thought it was a good time to say what makes me happy!

1. When my Momma calls me “Ricky Boy”. I love her soooo much!

2. Bacon!!!! Any type, any way…

3. Seeing the smile of a friend.

4. I really love to cook for my friends; it’s my way of saying I Love you! I’m a giver, it makes me happy.

5. Sometimes my son will give me a hug or say “I love you dad”.

6. When I make my Aunt Boo and Momma laugh with my vulgar Elvis impersonation!

7. When babies smile or say hello to me at the grocery store.

8. Sunny mornings on my patio.

9. Fishing with my son.

10. Seeing the joy of new parents with their babies. It always makes me smile knowing what feelings they are having. I miss those early years; cherish them now… You can never get them back!

 

Virgils Cafe Bellevue, KY; Restaurant Review


Homemade Pastrami

Homemade Pastrami

Virgils Cafe

710 Fairfield Ave

Bellevue, KY 41073

Price $$$$

Dress Casual

Menu changes daily

Map

I have been hearing a lot of things about Virgils Cafe in Bellevue, KY just a 5 minute walk from my home. I decided to give Virgils Cafe a second try at some friends suggestions. Here’s the thing… I love food! I like when restaurants do it right; from service, drink selections to attention to the quality of ingredients. The menu is a bit scary with some fairly pricey items. However, when a restaurant cares enough to grow their own ingredients, make their own bread and pastrami; they should price their meals a little higher.

The day I visited I was very hungry. I introduced myself to the chef/owner Matt Buschle as he was finishing up the prep for the soup special; Hot and Sour Meatball soup. As I looked around the kitchen I saw some of the same Asian ingredients I use in my kitchen. It’s always a good sign to see Ketjap Manis and fish sauce on someone’s counter! I was definitely having the the soup! The lunch special sounded good but they had me at homemade pastrami on homemade rye bread with homemade potato chips. As I waited at the bar for my food I scanned the liquor selections. Is that Weller 12 Year Bourbon? Another good sign! As I was the first customer of the day Matt came out and chatted food with me; this guy is passionate about food. As we talked my nose was running from the spicy yet perfect expression of his Hot and Sour Soup; it was quite addictive! The meatballs were made of ground pork and shrimp. The meatballs were very tender; tricky because the shrimp could have made them rubbery. Not the case here.

Hot & Sour Meatball Soup

Hot & Sour Meatball Soup

There is a feeling I sometimes get at restaurants when an epic meal is laid before me. I don’t get it every time but this was one of those times. The feeling of excitement and anticipation hoping this will be something special and live up to my expectations. The sandwich arrived and I got the feeling. The potato chips were still sizzling from the fryer. The monstrous pastrami was topped with cheese, bacon, and sauerkraut. The bread was awesome; lightly toasted yet still soft. The homemade pastrami was amazing and I had trouble deciding if my next bite would be the potato chips or the sandwich. The sandwich was big enough to feed two people certainly enough to share. I ate around noon and was not hungry again until around 7PM. My experience on this occasion was stellar and I look forward to trying Matt’s Cuban Sandwich.

Cast Iron Cooking Tip!


Use kosher salt and a paper towel with a little hot water to clean burned on food without damaging your seasoned Cast Iron Skillet.

Chitown Sliders. A tribute to all night grills; Recipe


Chitown Sliders. A tribute to all night grills; Recipe

Sliders with Duck Fat Fried Potatoes

Sliders with Duck Fat Fried Potatoes

This recipe is dedicated to Julian “Jumpin” Perez, Tim “Spinnin” Schommer, Juan “The Electric E”, Edwin “Bear” Rios and Bo. I will never forget our late night adventures. Love you brothers!

As a young man growing up in Chicago there were two little neighborhood grills that made the best grill top food in the city. Don’s Grill at the corner of Cicero and Belmont and Gossage Grill at Harlem and North Ave. Simply the best greasy cheeseburgers to be had at 4AM or any other part of the day!

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef

8 slider buns

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Worcestershire sauce to taste

Onion powder to taste

2 onions sliced thin

1 stick butter

8 slices American cheese cut in half

sliced pickles

Mustard

Ketchup

Combine Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and onion powder with ground beef. Form mixture into eight 2 Oz patties and place on foil or baking sheet.

In a saute pan melt a quarter stick of butter and brown the inner sides of the slider buns. That’s both the top and bottoms of the bun but not both sides. I hope that makes sense! Remove buns to a platter or dish.

Using the same saute pan melt half stick of butter and add onions salt and pepper. Cook until soft about 7 minutes. Remove onions to a bowl.

Melt remaining butter and add beef Sliders. Cook for about 3 minutes until browned over medium high heat. Flip sliders and top with a generous amount of onions. By the time you have put onions on all the patties you will need to carefully flip the patties over with onions now being under the sliders. Top with American cheese crossing the halves over the patties as if making an X. Remover sliders using a spatula sliding under the onions and sliders to the buns. Top with a pickle and a small amount of ketchup and mustard. Serve immediately!

Find a comfortable place to pass out because you will be transported to a wonderful happy place. These sliders are one of the tastiest things I’ve ever cooked!

Enjoy!

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