Tuesday, April 29, 2008

sushi taro

Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, NW (Corner of P Street).
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 462-8999

Until last night, I hadn't enjoyed sushi in Washington, D.C. Every time a craving struck, I'd look on Google and read reviews of local favorites. The reviews were underwhelming at best... You know how it is - you don't want to end up at the wrong sushi spot! Happily, Ben got a tip from an insider to head to Sushi Taro, which is located above (yep) the CVS at the corner of 17th and P.

A small and unassuming door leads you up above the Pharmacy into a narrow and crowded stairwell with many other hungry Washingtonians. Reservations are hard to come by, so don't show up with a large group without being prepared to wait an hour. Also - they don't have a bar to use while you wait, but there are plenty around the corner and the host seemed accomodating if your party wanted to leave and come back.

Fish arrives on Sunday, so Monday is the best day to go. Rumor has it, Sushi Taro operates as the fish supplier for sushi restaurants around the city, but they keep the best cuts for themselves. I can say that while this spot was no Nobu, it certainly seemed reliable, prices were great, and the food was delicious.

Sushi Taro offers several different kinds of seating: at the bar (the best place, in my opinion), on the floor "Japanese style," and at a table. We were lucky enough to nab a spot at the bar (dinner AND a show!). Their list of menu items was impressive - and they do occasionally carry the elusive blue fin tuna as part of their specials (they were out last night). We took part in a wide variety of delectables, starting out with their rich miso soup and their smooth, round hot sake. Below is a list of what we had, and a makeshift rating system...

In sum:
**** = Great, don't miss it!
*** = Very good.
** = Good, but forgettable...
* = Skip it.

We had:
Crab nigiri - $7: ****
Medium fatty tuna nigiri - $6.75: **
Spicy tuna rolls - $5: ****
Tuna nigiri - $4.50: ***
Toro nigiri - m.p.: **
Eel & cucumber roll - $5.50: ***
Shrimp tempura roll - $5.50: **
Bonito sashimi - $12/5 pc.: **
Yellowtail sashimi - $12/ 5 pc.: ****
House Hot Sake - $7/large: ****
Miso soup - $1.75: ****
Edamame - $4: *

To sum up, don't miss the yellowtail sashimi, crab nigiri, the spicy tuna rolls, the hot sake, and be sure to treat yourself at the beginning with a piping hot bowl of their delicious miso soup. Enjoy this great spot as much as possible!

Monday, April 14, 2008

eggplant arrabiata

Want something healthy, spicy, delicious, and super satisfying for dinner? Try this! It's a great, healthful alternative to two of my favorite things: penne al'arrabiata, and eggplant parmesan.

Eggplant Arrabiata
Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

You'll need:

1 large eggplant
4 cloves of garlic
32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 T. olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
Fresh Basil

1) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Then, cut the slices in half (so it looks like a half-moon).

3) Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Liberally season one side with salt and pepper, flip, and season the other side.

HEALTHY TIP: Measure your olive oil using a measuring spoon! At 120 calories per tablespoon (even if it is the "good" kind of fat...) it's good to be careful.

4) Using 1 T. olive oil, carefully drizzle a few drops over each piece of eggplant. Don't worry about getting them completely covered - eggplant is like a sponge. Turn your eggplant over, and drizzle another 1 T. olive oil on the other side.

5) Bake your eggplant at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, turning once. (You may wish to lightly broil your eggplant at the very end, I recommend a low broil at 3 minutes per side to get them golden brown.)

6) Measure 1 T. olive oil into the bottom of a saucepan. Turn on low heat.

7) Peel, and finely chop garlic. Drop into the hot oil, taking care not to burn the garlic.

8) When the garlic turns "blonde" (the stage before browned), add 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes. Stir carefully for about 1 minute over low heat.

9) Add your can of crushed tomatoes, and salt to taste (Usually, I use 2 t., sometimes more). Stir, then cover and let simmer until your eggplant are browned.

10) Using your vegetable peeler, "peel" your parmesan cheese block, creating nice long ribbons.

11) Roughly chop a few basil leaves.

12) When your eggplant is browned, you're ready to eat. To plate: Pour a ladle full of sauce on a plate. Top with eggplant. Ladle more sauce over the top, then top with parmesan ribbons and chopped red basil.

This is really a winner - and so affordable! I think I made this whole meal for about $8.

Friday, April 04, 2008

rant: sandra lee

Anthony Bourdain, on Sandra Lee: "Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time."

Hard to disagree with him. I get it. There are a lot of women (and men!) in America who would just as soon not do much work and really impress their friends with what they cook. That is something that appeals to me immensely. Sandra Lee purports to embody this ideal - in so doing, she becomes a complete abomination of carefree cooking and effortless entertaining. You want effortless entertaining? Open a box of crackers, a package of cheddar, slice an apple, and pour a bottle of your favorite wine. Sandra lee would have you pouring seasoning packets, going to your craft store to arrange your "tablescape" (the word alone makes me twitchy), mixing crafty "cocktails" (I don't know anyone who would touch one of these potent potions with a ten foot pole, but that's another post altogether).

As I write this, her voice is blaring over my left shoulder in a saccharine voice saying, "Welcome back, today is all about really cute cakes that are super simple." You've all been in a situation where you're at dinner, or an event, or even at the bar and there's that one person who just doesn't shut up about how great they are? That's her. Sticking a blue maraschino cherry on top of a cupcake on top of a cake? It's frustrating to me that she is still able to maintain her half-hour spot on the Food Network every day. Admittedly, The Food Network exists because of, and is patronized primarily by, people who have too much time on their hands-but shouldn't those people be treated to watching someone who loves what they do, and who they do it for?
For me - loving food starts with loving people. I'm not convinced she loves either.

...There, I said it.