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 ...