George’s Fine Steaks and Spirits: an ideal restaurant for anyone and any occasion
When I first began writing this column, I considered writing about George’s Fine Steaks and Spirits, located at 301 North Minnesota St. in New Ulm. But, I thought, writing about George’s was too obvious. Everyone I know loves George’s. Everyone has at least heard of it. So, writing about George’s was predictable. Lately, however, I wondered how sad it would be if someone in New Ulm, or nearby, didn’t know about George’s? Maybe I could reach out to that one person who may have just moved here or lives in a cave or hides under a rock and open their eyes and mouth to some truly amazing food.
Claud and I stumbled across George’s a few years ago. It was early evening, before the dinner crowd came in. We were impressed by the open kitchen and long wooden bar. Everything was so clean. We sat at the bar and George Cottom served us. Instantly, we felt like one of his good old friends. George has a way of making every customer feel like he or she is the most important person in the room, and it’s genuine. I don’t see how he could fake his warmth and hospitality every single time I have been in the restaurant. He seems to enjoy the company of everybody who walks through the glass doors. In fact, I have never been to George’s and not been greeted by George.
Maybe George loves the restaurant and his clientele so much because he gets to work alongside his wife, Karen and his two daughters, Erin and Sarah. I know George values family, as well as food, because he told me his and Karen’s concept for this restaurant is, “good fresh food with family in mind.” I believe this is true because I have seen small children nestled in the booths with their parents enjoying “Pssghetti” or ribs from the children’s menu. At the same time, a couple on a romantic date will sip wine and eat lobster tail and filet mignon. I have witnessed anniversaries celebrated with large groups of people of all ages upstairs in a room that is designed for private parties. We sat upstairs one night when the restaurant was crowded and it was really just as pleasant as sitting downstairs. One night, just before Christmas, Claud and I were at the end of the bar, near the entrance, and we couldn’t believe how many people were coming in to buy gift certificates. This place is so special that you will want to give the experience as a gift to someone you love.
Now, let’s get to the food. The cover of George’s menu reads, “’There is no love sincerer than the love of food’ –George Bernard Shaw.” It’s wonderful to have a charming family greet you and make you feel comfortable, but the food is really what you are coming to enjoy, right? You will not be disappointed. Karen and George buy the highest quality meats and locally grown produce. Their recipes come from Karen, George or George’s mom and they are unbelievable. I think I have tried almost everything on the menu and, because everything is so good, I don’t know where to begin.
First, you start a meal with bread and honey butter. You will have to control yourself so you don’t make this your entire meal; it’s that good. The appetizers are to die for. My mouth waters on the drive to George’s when I think about “Erin’s ‘Shrooms” which are beer battered fresh mushrooms served with hot sauce and ranch. Sometimes, when the kids are at Rock on Ice on a Friday night, Claud and I will go into George’s for a date. We belly up to the bar and order a glass of wine for me and a Shell’s Firebrick for Claud and we each have an appetizer. We always have so much fun meeting new amazing people.
Whenever we have family out from California, we take them to George’s for dinner. In fact, when my mom is here, she insists we have at least one meal there. The entrees at Georges are so tasty and start at $13.95. However, I would be remiss not to say that the soup which precedes the meal is good enough to stand on its own. The lamb chops are seasoned to perfection, the baby back ribs are tender and messy, and Claud says the steaks are the best he has ever tasted. There is an Italian section of the menu featuring shrimp scampi and pasta with meatballs.
If you are steering clear of large meals, George’s also offers a lighter option to his dishes. He tells me that customers are encouraged to ask their server to suggest light options to the entrees. For example, you may substitute a Newman’s Own light dressing on your salad or have them replace the butter with olive oil. Also, the menu offers George’s salad with steamed fresh veggies or Bob’s Salad with a fresh cut wedge of iceburg lettuce. You may even want to try the chicken breast sandwich which is boneless and skinless. If you aren’t counting calories, you will want to end the meal with one of “Karen’s Dessert O’da day”. Go to www.georgessteaks.biz to view the entire menu.
I didn’t want to pry any of George’s traditional family secret recipes out of him; but, he did say that if anyone was trying to adapt something they were making at home, he or she could call him for advice or information on how to cook it. He is happy to assist.
George’s is open Monday through Saturday at 4 p.m. and for private parties anytime. Also, they are open for Valentine’s Day which is on a Sunday this year. You can make a reservation at 507-354-7440.
George did share his recipe for the creamy delicious honey butter:
1 lb butter
1 lb honey
1 C. heavy cream
Blend together and serve on warm fresh bread.
It doesn’t matter if you have been married for a decade or you are newly in love, staying in on a cold Saturday night can ignite the passions of romance. What’s that? You have kids? You work late? You don’t feel like making the effort? Just give it a try. You surely will not regret it. You won’t believe the change in your whole life once you add a bit of romance into the equation. I bet you will have more patience with your kids; your job will be more fun; and, you will have so much more energy. Love is everything; and, in the words of John Lennon, “All you need is love.” Well, food…and love, right? Here are some tasty, romantic, simple appetizers to share with the one you love.
It won’t hurt to add a bit of flair to the evening by lighting the fire and a few candles. Find some great romance music like Stevie Wonder’s Love Songs, or anything by Van Morrison to play quietly in the background. All that is left, in preparation, is the food and drink and maybe your clothes (less is more). According to the Rita Watson, the Love and Marriage Examiner, you should “give yourselves at least one date a month for Succulent Saturday.”
Here are some suggestions which are sure to correspond with firelight, love songs, and romance. Feel free to make your own choices or substitutions. These are simple and delectable nibbles:
It is a great idea to begin the evening with a cocktail. Champagne has always been the choice of romantics. Why not up the ante a bit and make it a Kir Royale? It doesn’t take much of an effort but the result is delicious and beautiful. Just add 1 part crème de cassis to five parts champagne of your choice. You slowly drizzle the cassis on top after you pour the champagne into the glass. Have a bowl of fresh strawberries handy to eat with the Kir Royale. The combination tastes wonderful.
Buy smoked salmon from the grocery store or deli. Add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and a few capers. Serve alone or with water crackers.
Cheese and Crackers Platter:
This is so simple. Buy some of your favorite cheeses at the market. Be creative though. Try some new type: goats cheese with herbs, brie, something blue… Add some different styles of crackers and the two of you can sample all of these together. Add some grapes to the platter and maybe some slices of sweet apples.
20 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1 Tbsp capers, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp anchovy paste
Dash of black pepper
Combine ingredients into a food processor give it a few pulses. Pour into a dish. Serve with warm fresh French bread and creamy butter. Cozy up, stay warm and enjoy the night.
Did you ever wonder why the Swiss are so happy? Why can’t you say, “Swiss” without cracking a smile? Let’s take some food and drink advice from these pleasant individuals and see if we can’t be transported to the Swiss Alps right in our living room. Whether you are planning a cocktail party or a romantic evening at home, this combination inspired by the Swiss is sure to delight. Fall is perfect to make delectable rich foods and pair them with warm satisfying drinks. Gluvine is a traditional Swiss hot wine recipe using fruit and spices to increase the heat in the Alps. Fondue, another Swiss favorite, is a creamy cheesy treat that is warm and pleasurable. Invite some friends over or keep them away while you and your sweetie snuggle up next to the fire with both of these scrumptious Swiss recipes.
¾ C. water
¾ C orange juice
¾ C. sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 lemons, 1 cut in half and the other sliced
20 whole cloves
1.5 liter bottle of red wine
In a sauce pan, combine water, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon and ½ of an orange. Add the peels to the pot. Place the cloves in a tea ball and place in the pot. Simmer for fifteen minutes. Add wine and fruit slices. Place cinnamon sticks in each mug. Remove the clove ball. Ladle the gluvine into the mugs. Sip and enjoy.
1 garlic clove, halved
1 ½ C. dry white wine
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 tsp Kirsch
½ lb Emmental cheese grated
½ lb Gruyere cheese, grated
1 loaf French bread, cubed
Rub the garlic in a fondue pot. Add wine and simmer. In a separate bowl, stir cornstarch and kirsch. Gradually add cheese and stir in a zig zag pattern. Do not let it boil. Stir until creamy. Stir in cornstarch mixture into the fondue. Simmer for 5-8 minutes until thick. Cut the French bread into cubes. Use skewers to dip the bread into the cheese. Enjoy.
I could eat Mexican food for every meal. I’d start with huevos rancheros for breakfast, maybe a light taco salad for lunch and finish off my day with shrimp fajitas. This would be my idea of heaven. I love the combination of pinto beans and Spanish rice. I am in love with hot peppers, chili sauce and salsas. Who doesn’t find irresistible grilled vegetables in fajitas? Also, I can never get enough cilantro. I won’t even get into all of the accompaniments: sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa verde, and enchilada sauce (okay, so I did).
Maybe it is because I grew up in Southern California and my close proximity to Mexico made tasty Mexican food so accessible? Or, maybe Mexican food is just fantastic no matter where you grew up? Sometimes you cannot explain love; you just have to let it happen. Imagine my delight when I discovered a Mexican restaurant in Madelia. Imagine my elation when I tasted the food and it was beyond delicious. To make my meal more spectacular, the restaurant is spotlessly clean and the service is impeccable. You may sit in comfy large white booths. You might have your water and pop delivered by an adorable little boy; but, don’t let his stature fool you, he too has manners and class. I think he is being primed to take over his father’s restaurant empire one day.
The restaurant is called Plaza Morena, Mexican Restaurant & Bar.
Javier Reyes has worked here since it opened in late May 2009. He sat with me and my family to shed a little light on the background of the restaurant. Javier told me that the two partners, Jose Herrera and Jose Carlos Salazar, knew each other in Mexico. They own several restaurants together. They brought many employees from their Owatonna restaurant to Plaza Morena. So, there is no feeling of this being a new restaurant with a learning curve for the staff. They are seasoned employees and it shows in the service.
They serve delectable margaritas, which come blended or on the rocks and with a choice of strawberry, lime, raspberry, or mango. Every Thursday, the margaritas are half price ($2.99). All of the Mexican dishes are made fresh on site. Be sure to ask for the spicier salsa if you prefer it to the regular. I know I do. The beans are made in the restaurant. The steaks are marinated fresh every day and freshly cooked to order. They make their own desserts on site and I highly recommend the churro. You get three homemade churros with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It is not the fried stick you are used to from the vendors at fairs. This churro is incredible. They also make and serve mud pie and flan.
Plaza Morena offers a special every day. Here are a few examples: Monday is the Vallartas Especial (grilled shrimp, steak, chicken, peppers and onions over a bed of rice with lettuce, pico de gallo, cheese dip, guacamole and tortillas), Thursday is the Mexican Sampler (beef nachos, beef and chicken flautas, chicken quesadillas, served with fixings…and, of course, the half priced margaritas), and Friday is the fajita super burrito (10” flour tortilla stuffed with rice, beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes and cheese, topped with cheese sauce, served with rice and beans). If you celebrate your birthday at Plaza Morena, you will be treated to a song and a complimentary fried ice cream with a candle for your wish.
For those of you who prefer American food, Plaza Morena is prepared to serve your needs as well. They have an “American Way” portion of the menu which offers ribeye steak topped with grilled mushrooms, onions and spinach, served with red potatoes refried beans, sour cream and cheese. They have a steak sandwich and a grilled cheese sandwich. Come to Plaza Morena on a Tuesday and the special is a Cheeseburger or hamburger for $4.95 and they will add bacon at no extra charge. However, to my astonishment, I witnessed a miracle at Plaza Morena! My son, Jack, who only eats cheeseburgers and hot dogs, ordered a cheese enchilada…ate it all…and loved it. This was a first. So, who knows, once you get there and see the variety of dishes, you may opt for the Mexican over the American.
For a lighter meal, you are given the choice of six different salads including, seafood salad, chicken salad and a fajita taco salad.
The average entre at Plaza Morena will cost you about $10.00. If your experience is anything like mine, you will leave the restaurant happily full. They offer take out and catering services. Furthermore, they serve “Fast Lunch” between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday – Friday. During these times, you can get Mexican dishes, egg dishes, salads and sandwiches at incredible prices.
Plaza Morena’s hours of operation:
Sunday – Tuesday: 11:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday – 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
For further questions or to order take out, call: 507-642-8624.
Wendy’s easy fresh salsa recipe
1 glass margarita for each person
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small onion
3 Tbsp. cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Take a sip of your margarita. Pour all of these ingredients into a food processor and hit pulse three times (Claud swears by this three pulses rule). Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy! For more Mexican recipes, please visit my blog at www.yovia.com/blogs/simplyfood. Thank you.
A liqueur is a sweet alcohol which could be sipped on its own, made into a cocktail, or used as an ingredient in a recipe. They are usually flavored with fruit, herbs and spices which adds so much flavor to food. Many flavorings are dissolved to make a liqueur. Therefore, the name liqueur means to dissolve in Latin.
Amaretto is a traditional Italian liqueur. It has a sweet and smooth almond flavor. However, almonds are not used in making Amaretto. The flavor comes from apricot kernel oil, burnt sugar and spices. Amaretto can be used as a substitute for almond extract in recipes. Here is a delicious example of a recipe using Amaretto. It’s a simple way to spruce up ice cream. Enjoy.
Amaretto Ice Cream and Berry Surprise
4 coops of vanilla icecream
2 C. fresh strawberries, sliced
1 C. fresh blueberries
¼ C. almonds, slivers and toasted
1 C. amaretto liqueur
Mix the berries together with the Amaretto. Cover the mixture and allow this to chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Scoop vanilla ice cream into four bowls. Spoon the berries over the top of the ice cream. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
No, not on a plane. You won’t believe this. I get shivers just looking at the pictures.
I don’t know how they even get a group to agree to this. But, if I didn’t have a fear of heights, I bet it is breath taking…in a good way. What an amazing view. Also, it is something you could never forget. I wonder if they remember what the food tasted like. Does it even matter?
Every day is a celebration of the day I married Claud. We never put much effort into celebrating anniversaries. One year, we forgot it all together. We were having lunch with some other couples when somebody mentioned the date. I stopped eating and said, “Hey, honey, today is our anniversary!” He smiled and hugged me. We both laughed. Then, we picked up our Mai Tai’s and toasted our marriage. We happened to be in Tahiti. Sometimes, we are so lucky. It ended up being a very memorable anniversary…by chance.
This year, my family was flying out here from California because my sister was scheduled to deliver her baby a few days after our anniversary. I couldn’t think of a better time to have a party. I’d have my parents and both of my sisters together. We could invite some really nice friends. Claud agreed and we began making the plans.
The first thing on my mind, obviously, was the food. We had to cook dinner. What were we going to make on a budget? I imagined a sit down three course dinner with corn chowder, a mixed green salad, and Bent River Cheese stuffed chicken. I also considered lobster sandwiches which would be fun and easy. However, while the list of friends grew larger our budget remained the same. In the end, we thought fajitas would be a terrific idea. Not only are fajitas tasty, they can be made ahead of time so you can mingle with the guests. The ingredients: vegetables, chicken, tortillas, cheese, etc… are pretty inexpensive. Furthermore, you can lay everything out buffet style and allow people to create their own. That way they have the perfect meal made with what they want.
Claud and I prepared the food early on the day of the party. We marinated the chicken, cooked peppers and onions, and made salsa.
I made a spicy sour cream to go along side the regular sour cream. We also made green chili for those of us who love spicy food.
We cooked Spanish rice too. Everything was so colorful and festive and didn’t take long to prepare. Once the chicken was grilled and taken off of the bone, we were finished. When people arrived, we would heat it all up, along with some beans and tortillas and cheese, and set it out on the table. Simple!
My sister arrived first with her little girl, Ivy, and her husband, Dusty. It was so nice to have a little bit of time for just family, including Dan and Kathy. They are honorary family. Jessica looked so beautiful in her final days of pregnancy. I couldn’t believe we would have that little baby in our arms in a matter of days. Everyone was so excited.
Soon people arrived and it was time for cocktails. There is a great website you should visit which teaches you how to make many cocktails. Margaritas would be brilliant with fajitas. Visit: http://extratasty.com/ for other drink recipes. Many people brought me wine. Am I that obvious? Scott came with some of his homemade wine, which was delicious (as usual). My mom gave us a cookbook, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
We set out some chips and salsa and greeted everyone as they arrived.
Claud and I couldn’t believe what a gorgeous evening it turned out to be. Throwing a party with outdoor seating in Minnesota is hit or miss. But, this was one of the most beautiful Fall days I remember experiencing. The sun began to set just as our friends found a seat on the deck and sipped their drinks. I was very happy.
Claud and I heated everything up for dinner and set it out on the table. There were different tables filled with people eating, talking and laughing. The kids were running in and out of the house, grabbing snacks or pops as they ran through the dining room. Boys chased girls. Actually, I think it was more girls were chasing one boy, sorry Spencer.
I made a toast to my husband trying to tell him how much I love him. I couldn’t remember much by the time I recited it. It was getting pretty late. So, it wasn’t that good. It ended up being more comedy than romance. That’s okay, I like a romantic comedy. Finally, at the end of the night, when some people left, the food was eaten, and much beer and wine had been consumed, we cranked up the speakers on the I pod and danced…kids and adults alike…on the tables into the wee hours of the night.
Three days later, my family stood together at a glass surrounded room, peering into the newborn nursery, watery eyed and smiling at what could possibly be the most beautiful baby girl ever born.
Her name is Harper Ellen Briggs. Congratulations Jessica and Dusty.
We love you. And remember, while each day is the best time to celebrate life, love, and happiness, a party every now and then doesn’t hurt either. Here is a short film of our anniversary party:
Prep Time: 3 hours (including time for chicken to marinate)
1 glass of your favorite wine
3 5lb. bags of quartered chicken on the bone
4 cups of marinade (your favorite or my recipe on my blog)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
10 yellow bell peppers
10 red bell peppers
5 large onions
3 cloves of garlic
Take a sip of your wine. Wash and dry the chicken. Place it in a large clean tub and completely saturate it with the marinade. Set this aside overnight or for at least two hours. Slice the peppers and onions and garlic. Heat olive oil in a pan, add the peppers, onions, and garlic and cook until tender. Cook the chicken on the grill until cooked through. The grilled meat and veggies are the main components of fajitas. Once these are done, you can put out olives, chili sauces, our cream, cheese, beans, rice, guacamole, or whatever you want. Heat up tortillas and fill them with the desired ingredients. Enjoy!
Here is the ever evolving Foodista recipe: