Wednesday, October 06, 2010

happy trails

Yep, that's me in the white dress. And the tall one next to me, that's my husband. We walked down the aisle to Journey after we said our I do's. It was overwhelming and incredible and we're both pretty much walking on air these days.

So, anyway: Changes. I'm retiring this blog. It'll stay up, but no new posts from this one.


While I was writing about some awesome champagne poached pears I made last Sunday, I realized that it was time for something new. Though I loved every single thing about those sweet little pears, it felt too heavy to write about the ingredients, and it felt too heavy to write about the process, and for whatever that moment I was returned to a very unhappy place -- so, that's it! Time to move on.

Thanks for reading all of my cheese-and-butter-laden recipes. Not sure if I'll take up again soon, but if I do, you'll know it.

Thanks for everything, & cheers.


Monday, July 12, 2010


1208 H Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 658-4224

We popped into Souk last night after finding out the wait at Sticky Rice would be prohibitive to our growling bellies...It's Moroccan tapas. Or, I should say "Moroccan" "tapas." Having had the distinct pleasure of visiting Morocco at the ripe age of 19 to visit my brother for 3 days, I now consider myself an expert on all things Moroccan.

No, not really. I'm not sure what was Moroccan about Souk aside from maybe the pillows. It seemed more like Lebanese fare to me -- kibbeh, kafta, baba gannouj, and the like. We ordered five tapas - large portions for being called small plates. Each of them more average than the last.

It's a good deal at Souk (bill was $35, no drinks), but it's not much else. The kibbeh were too bready, too hamburgery. The kafta was dry and ill-seasoned. The seasoned feta needed the most editing -- a crumbly mess of dry feta and zaatar was not only near flavorless, but baffling. (As a foil, the "crazy feta" which is more or less the same thing at Cava Mezze on 8th street is divine). Second worst was the baba gannouj -- all. wrong. Raw-ish eggplant threads in a milky mixture. No sign of tahini. No sign of roasted eggplant.

SO if you're on H Street -- skip Souk, there's no magic there. Wait it out at Sticky Rice, drop into Taylor Deli for a sandwich, or belly up to the bar at Granville Moore's. Souk...well, Souk sucked. If you like Lebanese mezze, try Neyla in Georgetown or try Cava Mezze on 8th Street.

Grade: D (Won't recommend, won't go back, didn't get food poisoning or go broke eating there).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

chesapeake room

After much anticipation, a new sister restaurant to our favorite Lola's and Molly Malone's opened up on Barracks Row. We waited months to try out the Chesapeake Room, lured by wingback chairs on a large patio and promises of summertime Chesapeake Bay fare. After trying it out for dinner last night -- all I can say is: Hm.

It wasn't BAD...but it wasn' to say, worth the $90? To start, after seeing several tables open on the patio when we walked up -- we were told we'd have a 30-45 minute wait. Not a huge deal, but sort of confusing. To continue on that theme, the menu is baffling. Straight up weird. Fried oysters AND wild boar bolognese with pappardelle AND sea food salad and...a bison burger? It's completely strange. ...But it all looks good.

Our waiter recommended the roast chicken and the pork chop, the latter which we've heard rave reviews about but opted out of last night. I ended up splitting some fried oysters with Mr. Tank, while I enjoyed a disappointingly watery cocktail called "Like The Chef" which is lemonade and sweet tea vodka. He ordered the roast chicken breast (which, frankly, looked more like roast breast of game hen), and I had a salad. My salad was great -- but again, puzzling: greens, fennel, duck confit, smoked chicken?, haricot verts, tomatoes, and dried cherries.

All of this is not to deter you, my six readers, from trying out this patio next time you're on Barracks Row. I recommend going late, for drinks on the patio -- and don't miss the fried oysters, they were really delicious. But don't expect to find any crab cakes. Why would they serve crab cakes at a place called the Chesapeake Room, anyway?

High points: Cocktail menu, patio
Low points: Strange food menu, odd decor indoors (think: sailboat meets Red Lobster)

I'll go again, but probably not for dinner. The cost of mediocrity is disappointment, after all.

Grade: C- (Food is only ok, pricey. Go for the oysters and the outdoors and that's it.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ted's Bulletin

Ted's Bulletin, a retro diner-esque eatery, opened last week on Barracks Row on Capitol Hill. This place seemed to appear out of nowhere - but after yesterday's lunch, I can safely say this one will be around for a while. Walking in Ted's is like walking into someplace your grandparents may have enjoyed. They have salvaged some of the original decor from Philadelphia's Civic Center to decorate this place - which is just...the most delightful departure from the tired martini decor that seems to invade most new restaurants these days. They serve shakes AND alcohol AND pastries in the bar/waiting area. There's even a walk-up pastry counter on 8th Street. Each pastry is hand crafted, including such delights as snickerdoodle cookies, chocolate chip scones, croissants, and even homemade strawberry pop-tarts. So, save room for dessert.

The menu is divided into salads, sandwiches, supper, and sides. Yes, supper. There you will find such hearty fare as herb roasted chicken, meatloaf, country fried steak, four cheese lasagna, and ribs. I will be back until I can try all of their entrees (priced reasonably from $14-24). However, I chose something from their sandwiches menu: I couldn't resist the grilled cheese and tomato soup ($9). The salty bread was grilled perfectly with a creamy layer of good old American cheese in the middle. The tomato soup was seasoned just right - tangy, just the right amount of salt, and very slightly herbal.

Now, Ted's isn't without its faults. For instance, I had been drooling over their hand-cut french fries speckled with sea salt since I caught a glimpse of them when we went in. Imagine my disappointment when they ran out of these fries, and instead served me a plate of wan ore-ida shoestrings. We also ordered a side of macaroni and cheese with andouille -- and not a trace of andouille in the thing. I'll chalk it up to the newness of things, and let it be at that.

Other reviews I've read on Ted's tout their milkshakes as among the best they've had. I may try one out on my next visit, if only for the novelty of eating ice cream out of a soda glass. Ted's opens early (7 a.m.) and closes late. You can get breakfast all day. If you're looking for a good, solid place to eat -- try Ted's. I promise you won't be disappointed -- this place is for real, and real good.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

cobb salad

Sometimes, the stars align...and magic happens. The other night, I happened to have 80% of the ingredients for cobb salad...with a quick stop to Eastern Market for chicken and avocado, I was all set to make magic happen. (And--oh yes, there's bacon in this salad, it's under the chicken.) Now, anyone can make a cobb salad. The instructions here are how to make the best cobb salad (with very crisp bacon, perfectly cooked egg, and tender chicken). With just a few simple tricks this salad is transformed from a bar menu snore to a weeknight victory.

Cobb salad
Serves: 2
Prep time/cook time: 40 minutes

You'll need:
  • 2 heads of baby romaine lettuce
  • 2-3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 very ripe avocado
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 C. dressing of your choice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

First, preheat your oven to 375. Lay your chicken breasts on a foil lined baking sheet, brush your chicken breasts with olive oil, and season both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered for 40-45 minutes, depending on how big your

Next, wash and dry your romaine leaves. Chop the romaine (I like mine in 1/4" ribbons). Portion the romaine out into two big salad bowls or plates, and place those plates with the lettuce in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble your salad.

For perfect hard-boiled eggs -- place two cold eggs in a small pot, fill with cold water, cover, and bring pot to a boil. As soon as the water boils, remove the pot from the heat, and set a timer for 9 minutes. After the 9 minutes are up, rinse the eggs in cold water, peel, and slice.

Bacon can be tricky and messy. Here's a trick for perfect bacon every time: Lay bacon in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until bacon is looking like it's almost ready. Then, take the bacon out of the oven, place on a plate lined with paper towels, and microwave for 1 minute. Voila - extra crisp bacon, extra easy. For this salad, chop your bacon once it's crispy.

After 40-45 minutes, check on your chicken. Remove it from the oven, and place a foil tent over the pan for 10 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook, but this also allows the juices to re-distribute within the meat, so you won't end up with dried-up chicken bits on your salad.

When you are ready to assemble, remove your greens from the fridge. Dress them to your liking. In rows, place the tomatoes, then the egg, then the blue cheese, then the bacon. Dice your chicken and place that in another 'row' on top of your greens. Finally, just before you are ready to serve -- cut an avocado in half, score it into cubes with a knife, and scoop out 1/2 avocado on top of each salad (season with salt and pepper if you wish).


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


First, an apology about the photography on this site. I'm using my iPhone. Enough said. Still, I hope the photos don't discourage you from the recipes, which -- scout's honor -- are solid! Here's a recipe for spaghetti carbonara. This is the exact recipe I learned in Rome (well, almost -- that recipe included peas, which I didn't have last night). Here you go!

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves: 2.5
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

You'll need:
  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 C. fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 5 strips bacon
  • 1/2 C. pasta water
  • 1/2 T. black pepper

First, preheat your oven to 375. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and salt it generously. Place 5 strips of bacon on a lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until bacon is crispy. When bacon is done, drain it well and chop it.

When water is boiling, cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, separate 4 eggs -- place the yolks in a large bowl. Next, grate 1 C. parmesan cheese over the egg yolks. Add 1/2 T. black pepper. Whisk well. This will be a pretty sticky mixture.

When the pasta is done, turn off the heat. Don't drain the pasta water -- use 1/2 C. and slowly (slowly) trickle this 1/2 C. into the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. You don't want scrambled egg pasta, so this is a very important step. When the eggs/cheese have been tempered, use a tongs to transfer the pasta from the pot to the egg mixture. Mix well, taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. This is also the part where you would add 1 C. frozen peas if you felt like keeping with the tradition.

To serve, pile up a big mound in a bowl and top with more parmesan and chopped bacon. You will marvel how five ingredients (two of which are breakfast items) can become such a decadent, flavorful, satisfying dinner! Enjoy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

old school, new school

The old new school: Julia Child chefing on the set of "The French Chef"

The new new school: Canadienne Laura Calder posing with some vegetables.

The Food Network has done a lot for the home chef, there's no denying that. From tent-clad Ina Garten to "chi-potol-ay" slinging Bobby Flay -- there are many loyal followers of their personalities. Like all good things, the Food Network is growing up, and it's growing out of its old, easy ways -- enter the Cooking Channel, the newer, more honest, more hand-wrought spin-off of the Food Network.

What am I talking about? Gone will be the days of packet-opening, corner-cutting chefing. The focus now will be on the basic question that has permeated food discussions for the last ten years: where does our food come from? Peppered in, too, are new, more authentic instructional cooking shows -- no more Italian Americans cooking Italian food -- Cooking Channel is giving us a REAL Indian cooking real Indian food, a real Canadian cooking French food! ...Wait, what?

Nobody has dared touch French Cooking since our darling Julia Child entered the American kitchen with her show, "The French Chef." Sure, Ina Garten will walk us through a sole mariniere, or an apple tart tatin (and surely her methods are no less authentic!), but we've been missing the French Chef in our TV diets. No more, thanks to the Food Channel's daring choice of Laura Calder - a trained journalist whose focus shifted to food. She'll be gracing our living rooms with "French Food at Home" -- a nice homage to our friend Julia, who wanted nothing more than the average American to enjoy the pleasures of French cooking in the comfort of their homes.

The cooking Channel will debut on May 31, but Ms. Calder's show has aired for years in Canada, making for plenty available YouTube clips! On the Cooking Channel - will she endear us all by flipping an omelet directly onto her hot plate? Or will she disappoint with uninspired standbys? Can't wait to find out.

More reading:
Newcomer to Food Television Tries for a Little Grit (NYT)