Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
On a sidenote, I had emailed Alan Wong to ask him a little bit about his favorite holiday traditions -- and to my delight, I heard back! Here's what he said:
"I actually like to eat traditional roast turkey on Christmas, just because it's a tradition. It reminds me of home-cooked meals with family in a festive atmosphere. I actually like the taste of turkey with gravy and rice. My favorite holiday tradition would be to spend some time with my mom and eat her deliciously prepared food. She usually prepares Japanese food, especially at New Years, but her American food is great too!"
Thank you Chef Wong!
Alan Wong's Christmas Menu:
Araimo Potato Croquette with Sevruga Caviar
Choice of One:
“Oxtail Soup”: Braised Oxtail Terrine, Peanuts, Ginger & Grated Mochi
“Scallop Dumpling”: “Superior” Broth, Spinach & Shiitake Mushrooms
Seared Ahi with Edamame Mousse, Soy Calamansi Sauce
Butter Poached Lobster with Lobster Sausage, Miso Mustard Vinaigrette, Tokyo Negi Sauerkraut
CHOICE OF ONE ENTRÉE
Ginger Crusted Onaga with Organically Grown Hamakua Mushrooms, Corn, Miso Sesame Vinaigrette
Maui Cattle Company Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper Coconut Sauce, Hamakua Mushrooms, Swiss Chard & Baby Beets
Smoked Kurobuta Pork Chop with Braised Red Cabbage, Foie Gras Bread Dumpling, Ohelo Cranberry Sauce
Red Wine Braised Duck “Sauerbraten” Style with Spice Roasted Pumpkin, Gobo, Hasu & Carrot
Japanese Wagyu Beef with Nagaimo Potato, Pickled Vegetables & Calamansi Lime(Supplemental Charge of $30.00)
CHOICE OF ONE DESSERT
“Chocolate Wishes”: Waialua Chocolate Chestnut Cake, Eggnog Truffles,Chocolate Sorbet and Candied Chestnuts
“Caramel Dipped Apple”: Ohelo Berry Fruit Cake, House Made Hot Apple Ciderwith Green Shiso Kanten, Macadamia Nut Praline Ice Cream
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
One of our favorite things to do while traveling is to make a stop at the local farmers market, to search for local crafts, tropical flowers, and more so, local eats. Hawaii, blessed with rich volcanic soil and a tropical climate mixing brilliantly sunny days and warm rains, offers so much to see and eat at their farmers' markets. What I love is trying all the produce and agriculture that I can't find at home.
Our favorite market to go to in Oahu is the Diamond Head Saturday Farmers' Market at Kapiolani Community College. The market is sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at the KCC. Located up near Diamond Head, the Saturday Farmers' Market runs from 7:30 am to 11:00 am. It's best to get in early, as that the parking lot fills up quickly, and the best picks of the day disappear. That said, still come regardless of what time -- we've visited at all hours and still found plenty to fill our bellies and our suitcases.
When you enter, you'll receive a "TIP SHEET" for the day pointing you to the day's specials and also a list of all the day's vendors. This past Saturday's specials include: Breakfast cooked up by Grandma G, the Wailea Agircultural Group's Hawaiian hearts of palm, avocados, and fresh nutmeg, Gourmet Island's Hamakua mushrooms, and Big Island Bees' local honey products. After purusing the Tip Sheet, just enjoy your morning wandering through the stalls, picking up free samples, chat with local farmers and eaters, and pick out your favorite treats.
The range in items is incredible -- Kona coffee, braising greens, tatsoi, lowfat fruitcake with gogi berries, mango, pumpkin, and pecan oatcakes, sea asparagus, holiday music, fresh roasted Kahuku corn (mmm), marinated fresh seafood, Waialua Big Wave Tomatoes, pineapple and macadamia nut cakes, fresh strawberry mochi, jams, jellies, salad dressings, Maui kaki (persimmon), bok choy, papayas, roses, orchids, hibiscus plants... and that's only "Row A."
Some of my favorite places include:
PacifiKool: Fresh Island Ginger Ale
Two Hot Tomatoes: fried green tomatoes, sweet Maui onion rings
North Shore Cattle Co: naturally raised hormone free beef from Haleiwa (North Shore), all beef Portuguese and andouille sausages
What better way to explore a new (or an old favorite) place than visiting their farmers markets?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I don't even recall exactly how we came across the malasada, but all I do know is that every time we are in Oahu now, we find ourselves promptly on the doorstep of Leonard's Bakery at 933 Kapahulu Avenue. The lines are often long, but they move quickly...and are worth it. Step up to the counter, contemplate to yourself -- sugared or cinnamon? Filling or no filling? Everyone has a personal favorite. My dad loves the traditional, plain sugared malasada. My mom could go for the cinnamon. Me, I love the fillings... I'm not a jelly-donut person, but there's something about those tropical cream fillings that Leonard's pipes into their malasadas that makes me want to come back every month to try a different filling. When last there, I had the mango filled malasada... I am awaiting to try the lilikoi (one of my favorite tropical fruits!) malasada. (I just heard from my parents who just came back from Hawaii that this month's "fillings" are strawberry and pumpkin... mmm, pumpkin).
Monday, December 22, 2008
I've also yet to encounter a restaurant where nearly everything on the menu makes my mouth water. I've done meals of solely appetizers -- a medley of Hawaiian/Asian flavors ("Hawaiian Regional Cuisine"), with sizeable portions where even just two appetizers satisfies your hunger (everyone seems to have their favorite -- mine is the "Chinatown Roast Duck Nacho," my dad's is the "Da Bag" -- steamed clams with kalua pig, shiitake mushrooms in a foil bag, and my mom's the "soup and sandwich" -- Foie Gras and Kalua Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich w/Yellow and Red Tomato Soup). I've done your typical three course meal.
- Appetizer Duo : the "Soup and Sandwich" and "Poki-Pines" (Crispy Won Ton Ahi Poke Balls on Avocado with Wasabi Sauce)
- Ginger Crusted Onaga with Organically Grown Hamakua Mushrooms and Corn, Miso Sesame Vinaigrette (My favorite dish at Alan Wong's, I love every ingredient in it!!)
- Butter Poached Kona Lobster with Nagaimo Potato Cake, Green Onion Oil
- Twice Cooked Shortrib, Soy Braised and Grilled "Kalbi" style with gingered shrimp and Ko Choo Jang Sauce
- Dessert Duet : Chocolate "Crunch Bars' (my favorite dessert -- for you Washingtonians, similar (but betterrr) than Michel Richard's Kit Kat bar) and Coconut Tapioca
We've celebrated many events at Alan Wong's from birthdays to anniversaries, and most recently, our honeymoon! It's such a small detail, but I loved the "Congratulations" dessert and the personalized copy of the menu, titled with our names and signed by all of the Alan Wong staff.
Maybe that's what I love so much about Alan Wong's -- all the little details that add up into an amazing experience. It's the chili aioli accompanying the warm bread. It's the smiling servers, happy to answer your questions. It's Chef Wong himself coming around to say hello to his guests and making them feel welcomed. It's the food, the drinks, the atmosphere.
Alan Wong's isn't a stuffy, over the top restaurant -- instead, it is a place that you can and WANT to come back to time and time again, where although the menu may be infused with some new dishes, you know that the experience itself will live up to the last time you were there and the time before that and the time before that. I know that I often speak positively about the restaurants I try, but Alan Wong's is a place that I simply love and would urge you to try.
And in case you don't want to take my word for it, perhaps several accolades will help :) Alan Wong's Restaurant was listed on Food & Wine Magazine's Go List 2008, listed as #8 in Gourmet Magazine's America's Top 50 Restaurants in 2006, named as "2008 Best of the Best Winner" Best Pacific Rim Food by the Honolulu Advertiser Annual People's Choice Award, and received multiple times the Best Restaurant 'Ilima Award.
Alan Wong's, 1857 S. King Street, Third Floor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826, (808) 949-2526
(Btw, if you don't have time to try out Alan Wong's, perhaps stop by his slightly more casual outpost at the Ala Moana Mall - The Pineapple Room. Some of the same dishes are offered there, plus, my favorite, Maui onion soup with kalua pig and gruyere cheese. That soup by itself could be a whole meal.)
Gingerbread - Really spicy, warm, flavorful gingerbread with a mild frosting that nicely set off the spice
Key Lime - My favorite - didn't taste like key lime pie so much as actual key limes, one of my favorite fruits (along with Meyer lemons). The frosting was AWESOME - had lots of flecks of real key lime zest in it. The cake was moist and really nice.
Carrot Cake - The cream cheese frosting was the star (SO thick and creamy), but I was disappointed that the cake seemed really pretty plain and not that spicy or carroty. J loves carrot cake and thought I was nuts, however, so this might just be my beef.
Coconut - Again yummy frosting, piled especially high on this one and topped with fresh coconut. The cake was disappointing though - pretty dry. I don't know what it is about coconut cake but it's really hard to make it moist. My grandma made an awesome coconut cake and none of us have ever been able to duplicate it, it comes out too dry no matter what the quantity or type of liquid we use. Not a bad cupcake but not as good as the others.
I really want to go back on a Friday sometime so I can try the Lemon Blossom, and I also want to try the Mocha and the Chocolate Mint. And of course the Vanilla2. I surprised myself by not getting the Vanilla2 yesterday since vanilla/vanilla is my favorite cake/cupcake, but I couldn't resist the Gingerbread or Key Lime :)
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
(My first plate...)
We ventured to the buffet to start with and stocked up on a bit of everything. I started off with some sushi (never can get enough of it), roasted red peppers, hearts of palm, fresh steamed shrimp (see above!)... We were sure however not to stock up TOO much (and with the knowledge that we could always come back for more, we felt like we could indulge more as the afternoon wore on...).
The experience was different than that at Marius - but not necessarily better or worse. I'm glad that I tried both of the churrascarias and I would urge other Rio visitors to try out multiple churrascarias to find one to suit their liking (that is, if you can find time between all the other appetizing restaurants!).
Overall, I thought that Carretao was a very satisfying place to end our Brazilian adventure. We got to order our "chopps" that we learned about on our first day, sample Portuguese and Brazilian treats, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon out of the cold rain. The prices were reasonable as far as churrascarias go in Rio, the service was friendly and helpful, and the food was delicious (and offered some pleasing surprises along the way).
Carretao Churrascaria (Ipanema)
Rua Visconde de Piraja, 112
Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
Phone: 55 (21) 2267.3965
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The rules for the list are:
bold = have eaten
unhighlight = haven't eaten
Would love to hear what you think...
Here we go... (for ones that I wasn't sure what they were, I linked them where I could for more information...)
The Omnivore 100 List
2. Nettle tea (interesting...)
3. Huevos rancheros (LOVE)
4. Steak tartare
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush (LOVE)
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (LOVE)
28. Oysters (LOVE)
30. Bagna cauda (sounds tasty!)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (I've had a mango lassi, but not a salted lassi...)
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (?)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
43. Phaal (spicy!)
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (hmmm, iffy on this one)
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (oooh, tasty)
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (yum)
68. Haggis (hmmm, iffy)
69. Fried plaintains (double yum)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong (might have tried?)
80. Bellini (yum)
81. Tom yum (yum)
82. Eggs Benedict (double yum)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo Chocolate (me thinks yes)
92. Soft shell crab (YUM)
93. Rose harissa (sounds tasty)
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox (not a big fan of lox...)
97. Lobster Thermidor (I think so?)
98. Polenta (yes! made it pan fried just the other night!)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (yes! we used to sell it at the coffee place I worked at)
100. Snake (hmmm, iffy)
Monday, December 8, 2008
(1) Spiced Cider and Warm Wassail (What's to Eat Baltimore?)
(2) Hot Cider Three Ways (Mistress of Cakes)
(3) Coquito (Coconut Eggnog) (Accidents are Avoidable?)
(4) Sweet Coconut Thai Chai (Fake Food Free)
(5) Rosiest Hot Chocolate (The Pink Peppercorn)
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Red Velvet is opening in the hot restaurant area of Penn Quarter at 675 E St NW (corner of 7th and E). For $3.25, you can sample one of their eight current flavors:
- Vanilla bean -- vanilla bean cake, madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting
- Devil's food -- chocolate-buttermilk cake, bittersweet chocolate ganache
- B-day -- american yellow butter cake, milk chocolate ganache
- Key West -- key lime cake, white chocolate buttercream
- Peanut Butter Cup -- chocolate chocolate-chip cake, salted peanut butter frosting
- Southern Belle -- red velvet cake, whipped cream cheese frosting
- Morning call -- chocolate espresso cake, mocho buttercream
- Summertime -- lemon cake, coconut frosting
Fun fact: Owner Canada Gordon is brother to the owner of TangySweet (a part of the other big trend in DC right now -- frozen yogurt!).
Perhaps a holiday treat for that special someone...?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I had heard the rumors, but didn’t know it was true until I saw the line around the corner myself. We arrived a couple minutes before the store even opened to pick up cupcakes for our friend’s birthday and already there was a line snaking around the corner! Luckily, the line moved quickly and there was plenty of cupcake eye candy to keep us distracted.
Why do I love Georgetown Cupcake? For its fresh, flavorful, and just simply divine bites of goodness. The flavors rotate on a daily basis (check out their menu or give them a call to find out the treats of the day!). My favorites include the chocolate coconut, red velvet, and this season’s pumpkin spice…
If you’re a chocolate fan, you’ve come to chocolate heaven. There are AT LEAST 10 cupcakes that involve chocolate (chocolate squared, chocolate banana, chocolate pb swirl, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate vanilla…) and perhaps even more with their “seasonal flavors” (hello december! chocolate peppermint!).
Yes, the cupcakes are costly, but well worth it for the occasional indulgence. They are light and fluffy, the icings are filled with flavor and not too dense or heavy.
They (and I) recommend that you call ahead if you are traveling from a distance or want particular flavors to make sure they still have them—the cupcakes are baked fresh daily, so popular flavors can run out quickly. (This month's seasonal flavors: chocolate peppermint, gingerbread, snowball, hannukah cupcakes, christmas cupcakes, and new year's eve cucpakes)
Finally, I love Georgetown Cupcake because they also DELIVER. We’ve now celebrated two birthdays with cupcake delivery (a $10 delivery charge) and this way, your favorite flavors are packaged up and ready to show up at your front door.
I came across No Recipes' "Crustless Milk & Cardamom 'Pumpkin Pie'" today and am absolutely intrigued by it... so I wanted to share it with you. I love nearly any variation of pumpkin pie and I'm tempted to try this one -- for the recipe, check out "No Recipes" blog.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Co Co. Sala is part lounge, part restaurant—atlhough, let’s be honest, the entire restaurant feels like a giant lounge that you could stay at all night. We sat in the “booths.” The seats were cushy, the tables were small and cozy and started ordering up a storm. We started with drinks (a must here!)—the “Diletto” ranked as one of our favorites (vodka, fresh basil & strawberries, balsamic drizzle).
- “Shrimp Mac & Cheese”: Mini penne, jack & cheddar, garlic shrimp, jalapenos (amazing)
- Moroccan Swordfish Slider with fennel salad, aged pecorino, hazelnut coffee dressing
- Blue cheese beef slider with co co mole sauce, sauteed spinach, and wild mushrooms (my other fave)
- Crispy Louisiana Crabcake with mango salsa, chipotle chocolate tomato glaze, avocado cilantro emulsion
- Goat Cheese & Beets: Yellow and red beets, greens, maracaibo nibs, raspberry vinaigrette
And then… dessert. Dessert is an obvious must have here, and we had been keeping an eye out for what other guests were ordering. Although you can order certain desserts separately, we decided to get one of the flights (“monde du chocolat”)... there are four flights in total ranging from “chocolate maya” (focus on indian flavors), “ciocco” (focus on italian flavors), and “xocolatyl” (“aztec experience”). We jumped for the “co co. grown up”—a combination of “childhood favorites” made adult style.
Our three courses were:
- the amuse: mini boston cream doughnut and cappucino panna cotta
- the main dessert: milk chocolate, pb & banana foster split (yum), mini co co cupcake, malted shooter
- the petit fours: mint chocolate chip cone (eh), strawberry cheese cake lolly with pop rocks (yum)
A meal of decadence!
929 F St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
Monday, December 1, 2008
Several post-Thanksgiving treats to whet your appetite for the week to come...
(1) A Peking Duck Thanksgiving (Appetite for China)
(2) The 12 Days of Cookies (No Fear Entertaining)
(3) A Little Bit Too Much Time in the Oven (What's to Eat Baltimore?)
(4) Creamy, cranberry horseradish sauce (Tangled Noodle)
(5) And an additional special treat... The Swedish Fish -- my family-in-law introduced me to this drink over the holidays -- and indeed it does taste like that sweet candy treat. Add in equal parts of cranberry juice and 7UP or Sprite. Then add in Black Haus blackberry schnapps just until you can smell it. A sweet treat! Be careful though about how much you add in of each or else you'll end up with a drink that smells a bit like cough syrup ...
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Ironically, Black's is owned by the same group that owns a restaurant that has been on my "to eat" list for some time - BlackSalt (also in their group are Addie's Restaurant (Rockville) and Black Market Bistro (Garrett Park)). I had heard rave reviews about BlackSalt, a seafood restaurant in the Palisades, but Black's Bar and Kitchen was (at that time) unknown to me.
So we saddled up and drove out to Bethesda... next door to Black's is a huge parking garage (hurrah! free parking, and loads of it!) so we quickly darted out of the cold from the parking garage to the restaurant.
Immediately after stepping into Black's, we felt warmed -- although fairly large, the restaurant itself felt cozy and inviting, with dimmed lighting, beautiful wood paneled walls, and cushy booths. We sat in one of the booths in the bar section, with an excellent view of the open kitchen. The bar section offers both the regular menu and an additional menu of smaller bites -- I love a wide selection (despite my indecisiveness...), so I welcomed the chance to pick from a larger array of choices!
Our waitress was bubbly and friendly - she rattled off their specials, each one sounding more tasty than the last. I admit, it took me quite awhile to decide what to get. Black's menu came across as very farm fresh -- loads of seasonal produce, local fish and meat options (in fact, I just noticed this, Black's is self-described as "blending organic ingredients and regional flavors with a light and fresh flair" -- sounds like an accurate description to me!). Over time, these are the types of restaurants that I've become increasingly attracted to -- ones that serve not overly fancy food, but food that is made of fresh ingredients with techniques that allow those flavors to come through and just generally good, satisfying food.
After mentally deciding to come back, we decided to get the following: (1) crispy squid with creole tartar sauce, (2) the appetizer special - slices of suckling pig on a bed of sauteed mushrooms topped with a fried egg, (3) yellowfin tuna quarter pounder with frisee, vine ripe tomatoes, tangy dijon and house made chips (for Mr. J ... delicious! I think I plan to get this next time), and (4) wood grilled Chesapeake Bay bluefish with black truffle pierogies, soft herb sauce, and red cabbage sauerkraut (below).
The calamari (below) was very tender and fresh (not chewy like you often find at restaurants) with a bit of kick (paprika? cayenne?). I wasn't bowled over by the bluefish (although the skin was so crispy, which I love), but could have eaten the sides it came with again and again.
By the time we embarked on dessert options, the restaurant was filled with other people that apparently had the same idea to escape out of the cold to this retreat. We hardly thought we could eat dessert, but after hearing Mr. J talk about the pumpkin mousse they had last time and also watching dessert after dessert pass by us, I couldn't resist (and I always did say I had a separate compartment for desserts...). My frontrunners were the spoken of pumpkin mousse with caramel ice cream, butterscotch creme brulee with vanilla madeleines (I love butterscotch and madeleines!), or the bourbon pecan tart with maple ice cream (perfect for the upcoming holiday!). We fell for the pumpkin mousse and it was the right choice... it was almost like a pumpkin panna cotta, not too heavy, quite light, and filled with pumpkin-y goodness (all atop a graham cracker).
All in all, a wonderful night -- good company, stomach warming satisfying food, friendly service, and enjoyable surroundings.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Our tour guide, although not very fluent in English (and we knew very very very little Portuguese, except maybe "obrigado" and "bom dia") was quite charming, and led us through Beberibe, showed us the vistas of the sand cliffs, introduced us to a local craftsman who was creating a sand masterpiece -- the landscape of Morro Branco in a large glass jar. Our final stop on this tour was the "labyrinth."
I LOVED it and found it just breathtaking. I wondered to myself at every turn why had I never heard of Morro Branco before -- the labyrinth essentially was part of the sand cliffs and, over time, water had eroded a path through the cliffs. The colors were so vibrant, especially under the bright sun and against the blue sky. I could have stayed there all day. It was so peaceful, quiet, and awe-inspiring.
Friday, November 21, 2008
So, I've been CRAVING Tackle Box for weeks now... and every time I'm about to go, something seems to come up at work... So I thought that perhaps I could partially satisfy my craving for Tackle Box by chatting about it? (and...also putting out there some hopeful vibes that I can visit it again this weekend...)
In any case, DC was much in need of a casual, but tasty seafood restaurant, and the owners of Hook (next door) deliver with Georgetown’s Tackle Box. Tackle Box is located right on M Street between Wisconsin Avenue and Potomac Street, next to its sister restaurant Hook and next to potentially soon a co-owned butcher shop! Ok, maybe that doesn't give you exact coordinates, but it is directly across from the Georgetown Mall (home to JCrew, Clyde's, H&M, Anthropologie etc) and only a hop, skip, jump from the ever busy M St - Wisconsin Avenue intersection (think the big bank with the gold dome).
Like Hook, Tackle Box focuses on seafood sustainability and offers an array of seafood choices, from peel & eat shrimp to Hook’s (my fave) grilled calamari (yum) and from lobster rolls to even (non-seafood) grilled chorizo sausages. My favorite and in my opinion the best deal is the “Maine Meal.” You get 1 fish, 2 sides, and 1 sauce for $13, and believe me, it is plenty of food. You can choose to have your “fish” made “crispy” (choices include bay scallops, shrimp, calamari, oysters, catfish, etc) or “wood-grilled.” Wood-grilled is my personal selection, and usually I’ll fall for the rainbow trout or the tilapia.
And then there are the sides… and the sauces… there are 10 different sides to choose from (but usually I think five of them are offered each day) and six different sauces. The highlights are mac & cheese, grilled corn, sweet potato fries… The basil-walnut pesto is a must have and I am also a fan of the spicy marinara (the lemon-garlic aioli sounds good in theory, but not too flavorful…).
They also serve up (to go) a "lobster pot" with a 1 1/4 lb Maine lobster, grilled red onions, quahog clams, white water mussels, chorizo sausage, potatoes, corn on the cob, lemon, rockweed, butter & "Tackle Box spice" for $40 per person. I haven't tried it yet, but I think it'll be a good way to bring a taste of summer to the house this winter.
Tackle Box is definitely worth the visit – the staff is very friendly and helpful, the atmosphere is laid back and casual. Also... maybe this time I'll save room for the blueberry pie for dessert... or... maybe take that home as a treat for later.
3245 M St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Open 7 days a week, 11 am - 11pm
Monday, November 17, 2008
For lack of a better description, like a spring roll but warmed in a black bean sauce and not as crunchy. Filled with pork and veggies.
Bean curd stuffed with shrimp (warmed in black bean sauce)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
There was everything from horseradish cheese (yum)
to fudge, embroidered glassware to healthy food cooking demos, a booth dedicated just to Paula Deen and her products (I didn't even know she had all those products!),
mustards a plenty,
- Confection Diva (Toffee, Caramels)
- Japonica Tafe (Tea)
- Trader Joe's (Samples: Chicken Teriyaki)
- River City Bean Co. (Coffee, but loved their "Cafe Crunch" mmm)
- Yancey's Fancy (Horseradish Cheese, Buffalo Wing Cheese)
Monday, November 10, 2008
For more shrimp truck details, check this out...
Friday, November 7, 2008
Here are several that caught my eye...
Momiji: Offers traditional hibachi-style dishes and sushi for lunch and dinner. (503 H Street, NW)
Taquiera Distrito Federal: With the original located in Columbia Heights, the second location of this Mexican restaurant has opened in Petworth. Tacos, burritos, weekend specials, breakfast (huevos rancheros!). New location at 805 Kennedy Street NW.
Taylor Gourmet: Craving a Philly style hoagie? Your wish has been granted... this deli is serving up hoagies with house-rousted meats. Italian specialties are also offered including chicken cutlets and risotto balls. Think a Philly Italian market transplanted to DC. For more information click here. (1116 H Street, NE)
Ben's Next Door: The owner of famed Ben's Chili Bowl will oepn Ben's Next Door in early December. According to "the list are you on it," the restaurant will be 3,000 square feet and be "a bit more upscale, serving an American bar menu, alcohol, and, of course, those famous chili dogs." You can look for Ben's Next Door at 1211 U Street, NW.
Bourbon Steak: (very excited!!) Michael Mina (Nobhill, Seablue, Michael Mina restaurant) is opening a branch of Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown this winter. Branches of Bourbon Steak can be found in Scottsdale, Miami, and Detroit. (2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW)
Mad Butcher: The owners of Georgetown's Hook and Tackle Box hope to open the Mad Butcher next door to Tackle Box (currently occupied by Havanamax cigar shop). Mad Butcher, a butcher shop and restaurant, would bring in meats from local farmers and prepare them on-site. (3249 M Street, NW)
Todd English at the Donovan House: Are you a fan of chef Todd English's delectable "Olives" restaurants? Well, English is bringing another restaurant to town, this time an "Asian themed" restaurant. Sadly, it'll be another 1-2 years before it debuts at the Donovan House (1155 14th St. NW).
***Some of the above information comes from an email service/website I've subscribed to called: "the list are you on it" -- the group provides fantastic information about the DC metropolitan area food world.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
For two months, the Washington Post has been conducting a "cupcake wars" experiment, trying cupcakes from all the local cupcake purveyors... Cupcake shops have popped up all around the DC area in the past year, so it definitely seemed like a delicious (and worthwhile) endeavor to find the best of the bunch!
The Washington Post has crowned its champion -- GEORGETOWN CUPCAKE -- a personal favorite of mine as well. Below is the article published November 5, 2008, that provides some "tasty tidbits" about the cupcake craze, about Georgetown cupcake, and other cupcake locations throughout the area.
(As a sidenote, when this first began, I felt inspired to try out my own cupcake war as a very belated housewarming party... entries to come about that cupcake war... after the war eventually happens!)
It took 8 weeks, 141 varieties and extra gym time, but we found the best cupcake in town.
By Jane Black
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 5, 2008; F01
There's almost always a line at Georgetown Cupcake, especially on weekends. But on Oct. 11, the queue had snaked out the door of the cult bakery on Potomac Street and was threatening to block traffic. Perhaps it was spillover from the Taste of Georgetown food festival, which drew more than 10,000 people. Perhaps it was that the bakery had scored several perfect 10s that week in our Cupcake Wars taste-offs. Whatever the reason, police arrived to help manage the flow. By the end of the day, the eight-month-old bakery had sold 5,000 cupcakes.
That's busier than most Saturdays. But only by about 25 percent. Co-owners and sisters Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, winners of our Cupcake Wars, bake from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. most days. And though they allow employees to scoop batter into tins and check the ovens, they pipe the frosting on every single cupcake themselves. On average, the store sells between 2,000 and 3,000 cupcakes Tuesdays through Fridays (up from 800 when it opened in February), 4,000 on Saturdays and 2,000 on Sundays. Do the math: At $2.75 each, that conservatively adds up to sales of more than $38,000 a week and $2 million annually.
No wonder then that "cupcakeries" continue to open in Washington and around the country. This past summer, Lavender Moon Cupcakery opened in Alexandria and Hello Cupcake debuted in Dupont Circle. And just when it seems the market is saturated, more are on the way. Before the end of the year, Nostalgia Cupcake will open in Annapolis, and Red Velvet Cupcakery, sister to Dupont Circle's TangySweet, will open in Penn Quarter. Online-only Bakeshop DC, which sells at Murky Coffee, plans a storefront in Clarendon. Upstart Cup of Yumm is searching for space in and around Gaithersburg. Sprinkles, the famed Los Angeles cupcake shop, is hunting for space in Northwest Washington, with plans to open late next year.
To be honest, we thought that cupcakes' 15 minutes might well be over when we launched Cupcake Wars, a round-robin showdown of Washington area bakeries. But after receiving hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from bakers and rabid fans, we could see that the trend has life in it yet. We established clear rules to keep things manageable -- all bakers must have a retail storefront presence inside the Beltway -- and extended the battle from six to eight weeks to accommodate a mountain of reader suggestions.
It wasn't long before we had a bad case of cupcake fever, too. In and out of the tasting room, we debated at length the proper ratio of frosting to cake and how much more quickly a vanilla cake can dry out than a chocolate one. We had a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers on the cupcakes' weights, prices and flavors. In total, in the preliminary rounds alone, we sampled 141 varieties or 31 pounds of cupcakes; that's 7.75 pounds for each regular taster. The amount of weight gained by each taster is considered private.
The appeal is nostalgic, of course; we all fondly remember the cupcakes of our childhoods. But cupcakes actually date to the 19th century. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, there are two theories about the origin of the word "cupcake." The first refers to any small cake baked in a cup-shaped mold, as small cakes were before the invention of the muffin tin. In the United States, the term also may refer to the American use of cups as a measuring system. An 1845 recipe for a "cup cake" includes four cups of flour, three of sugar, one of melted butter and one of sour cream with a teaspoon of baking powder dissolved in it for a loaf-size cake.
The modern cupcake craze began in 1996 when Magnolia Bakery, a quaint Southern-style bake shop, opened in New York's Greenwich Village. According to legend, co-founder Allysa Torey began making vanilla cupcakes as a way to use up leftover batter. Cheap, and by definition portion controlled, the cupcakes were a hit in the neighborhood, and it wasn't uncommon to see a line out the door on weekends. The cupcakes' national debut occurred in 2000, when an episode of HBO's "Sex and the City" featured Carrie Bradshaw and gang digging into the retro sweets. The lines got longer. Soon, Magnolia was a stop on the "Sex and the City" bus tour, and bloggers were breathlessly posting four times a day about cupcake news and trends. Savvy entrepreneurs began to wonder if they could create cupcake mania elsewhere in New York and beyond.
Magnolia may have created the trend, but today most cupcakeries take their inspiration from Sprinkles. The sleek Beverly Hills shop set aside birthday party nostalgia and offered instead elegant, dainty cakes in more than 20 rotating flavors such as ginger lemon, chai latte and chocolate marshmallow. Sprinkles President Charles Nelson says he had a hard time persuading any landlord to rent him space for the first shop. Today, the bakery has five outlets in three states, each selling about 1,500 cupcakes a day. Sprinkles plans to open in 18 cities, including Washington.
If others don't beat them to it. Local cupcake shops have developed fast followings. Hello Cupcake, which offers 18 flavors at a time, has a line outside most mornings before the shop opens at 10 a.m., says owner Penny Karas. There's a second rush between noon and 3 p.m. and a final flurry after work hours. At Baked & Wired, a 7 1/2 -year-old bakery in Georgetown, cupcakes have forcibly moved center stage. Eighteen months ago, owner Teresa Velazquez says, she was making 50 or 60 cupcakes a day. Now she tries to keep five flavors in stock and sells 300 to 400 on weekdays and up to 1,000 on weekends. "I never wanted to be a cupcake place," she says. "But if you don't have cupcakes on weekends or you've run out, people get really upset."
None of the cupcake entrepreneurs is worried the market is too crowded. But there is a push to differentiate. At Hello, the flavors have cutesy names such as You Tart! (lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting) and Prima Donna (chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream). The Penn Quarter's Red Velvet will offer classic Southern flavor combinations from David Guas, a former executive pastry chef for the Passion Food Hospitality group, which includes DC Coast and Acadiana. For a steep $4.50 each, Nostalgia Cupcakes in Annapolis will offer alcoholic flavors, such as the Black Tie (chocolate liqueur cake with raspberry Chambord filling and white chocolate meringue frosting), when it opens within the next few weeks.
In Chicago, More Cupcakes has gone one step further. In addition to sophisticated sweet flavors (passionfruit poppy seed, for example) there are bold, savory flavors, including the BLT, a bacon cupcake with ranch frosting topped with an heirloom tomato and micro-arugula; the peach Camembert, with a Sauternes reduction frosting; and the bacon maple, a brown-sugar cake topped with maple frosting and candied bacon. "A few years ago, thyme ice cream seemed so outrageous. Now it's just normal," says founder Patty Rothman. "The question is, how far can we push it? Can we make a cupcake into an appetizer or a side dish?"
More Cupcakes already is successfully serving mini-savory cupcakes as hors d'oeuvres, and the savory cupcakes, especially anything bacon-flavored, have been moving well. The shop sells up to 150 BLT cupcakes a day. Men in particular like them; women favor the bacon-maple. The trick, Rothman says, is tapping familiar flavor pairings. Apple and gorgonzola makes sense to people. Madras curry, a curry cake swirled with berry jam and topped with goat cheese frosting? Not so much.
More's menu has garnered much attention; Couture Cupcakes is considering adding savory flavors to its menu, too. After less than two months in business, Rothman already is planning a second location.
Cupcake entrepreneurs acknowledge that the exploding number of bakeries could lead to a shakeout. But none anticipates a full-scale cupcake backlash. "It's a small pleasure. At $3.25, we're equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks and cheaper than a treat at Cold Stone Creamery," says Sprinkles' Nelson. "And who's not having a birthday, even in an economic downturn?"
The exception to the expansion rush seems to be Georgetown Cupcake. When they opened, LaMontagne and Kallinis registered Internet domain names for Dupont Cupcake, Kalorama Cupcake, Capitol Hill Cupcake and others. But after eight months in the spotlight -- the sisters appeared Monday on Martha Stewart's television show -- they're rethinking their strategy.
"We don't want to be a chain," LaMontagne says. "We still want cupcakes to be special."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Yes, you know all about their politics, all about their platforms, all about their SNL skits... but do you know Obama's and McCain's favorite foods?
Check it out here: OBAMA vs. McCAIN
As featured on Good Morning America, Obama's chili recipe:
Obama Family Chili Recipe
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
1 can red kidney beans
Saute onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft.
Add ground meat and brown.
Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat.
Add red wine vinegar.
Add tomatoes and let simmer, until tomatoes cook down.
Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes.
Serve over white or brown rice.
Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.
McCain's Rib Recipe
1/3 part Garlic Powder
1/3 part Salt
1/3 part Pepper
Turn the grill down to low temperature.
Mix together garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then cover both sides of the ribs with that.
Grill ribs, bone side down, for 90 percent of the time. It will take about an hour to an hour and a half. Squeeze the lemon on it frequently, because that makes it taste a lot better.
And a small bonus...
Who knew you would get free bonuses for your vote today? Need some extra incentive to get out there? Here's a couple food treats being offered up in DC today if you show off that "I Voted" sticker:
Daily Grill: Free happy hour appetizer on Election day from 4 pm until close
Ben and Jerry's: Free scoop of ice cream
Krispy Kreme: Free star-shaped doughnuts with red, white, and blue sprinkles
Starbucks: Free tall-size brewed coffee