A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Weekend Rundown

Carnivale is one of the best and most frustrating shows on television right now.
• I'm going to have to move at the end of May. No stress; a change might be nice. And new roommate Ken, who I am really getting to like, might move with me. That would be cool.
• Columbia, MD, is a perfect example of all that I hate about the suburbs.
• Sometimes being a brahmin means you get free stuff. But the transactions are often uncomfortable.
• My pseudo-brined chicken came out great, but the jalapenos were an unnecessary element. Little to no heat was provided by adding the peppers into the blended mix. If you want spicy, slice the peppers before cooking and place them under the skin.
• Why is it that Asylum is always empty on Saturday nights? Cheap beer, loud music... what's not to like?
• Jumbo slice and falafel at the end of a drunk night make for little to no hangover in the morning.
• The Sunday Source is journalism for retards. Discuss.
• The accra (basically, salt cod cutlets) at the Islander are the bomb diggety. But is the name related to the capital of Ghana?
• The Arcade Fire were amazing live. But you don't have to take my word for it.

Weekends are so hot right now.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Marinade

Last night I got home kind of late (half price sale at the good Salvation Army; couldn't pass that up) and decided to eat veggie patties and make my chicken tasty for a later night. I had a four pound organic bird to prep... but how?

2 jalapenos
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbls. Kosher salt
1 lemon
Olive Oil
White wine
Vinegar
Chicken Broth

Mix healthy amounts (about 1/2 cup each) of the vinegar, wine, and olive oil in a tupperware container large enough to hold the chicken. Stir in the salt, dissolve.

Broadly chop the jalapenos and garlic; drop in the blender. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon; be careful to not get the seeds in the blender. Pulse until it has a semi-thick consistency. Pour into the tupperware.

Wash chicken and place in the tupperware. Seal, shake it up, and pray that this ungodly creation actually tastes good.

Not one for subtle cooking, especially when I've been drinking. Apologies; this is my way.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Short Post -- Busy Day!

Via Kyle, there's a reason why I'm not gonna bother trying to get U2 tickets. Oh wait--they aren't coming to town anyway! It doesn't matter. The new U2 album is their biggest failure since "October". And this from a guy who actually enjoyed "Pop".

Dinner tonight: whole roasted chicken? Maybe. I might just set the marinade, eat cheapness tonight, and have the chicken Saturday. Then again, I might find myself in a cooking mood. Too many decisions, people, really.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

UPDATE: Not Panicked

My landlord just sent me an email saying she wanted to inspect the house and have me sign some documents. This is sending me into a serious, serious panic... I'm feeling it can mean only one thing, she is planning on selling the space. Here's the text of the email:
I would like to come the house this weekend. I need to do an inspection and I also need for you to sign some documents. Can you let me know if you will be available and when is a good time?


Am I being paranoid? I hope so. I just got two good roommates moved in and I really like my space; the thought of moving makes me slightly ill. Well, more than slightly, because I'm also really attached to my neighborhood and the decent rent. Anyway, I emailed the landlord back telling her a good time to come by and asking what sort of documents she wants me to sign. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. Please let that be the case.

Contingency plan: I'll be asking one or both of my roommates to move with me to a new place. Is that feasible? Maybe. But they both just moved in and are sure to get upset about moving yet again. Being paranoid is awful... I really love my house though, so right now I'm spinning my wheels, unable to get much else done. Come on landlord, respond to my email.

Update: The magic GMail number just increase by one, so in a bit of a rush I clicked over to my account to reveal an e-mail from... the DCist listserv. The panic continues, unabated.

Update II: Got through to my landlady over the phone. It seems want to do some renovations to the property and are thinking of putting the house on the market. This, however, wouldn't happen until the end of May at the earliest, end of summer at the latest. So I'm okay right now. No reason to panic the new roommates either. Breathing a sigh of relief in 3... 2... 1...

The Most Awesome Commercial

Did anyone see the amazing Nike commercial during the third/fourth quarter of the Steelers/Pats game last Sunday? The one that started off looking like just a glorified commercial stressing how in-shape athletes are but then got... well, completely awesome? The Sun-Times and Deseret News have short pieces about this new ad campaign, apparently called "Warriors" by the ad execs working with Nike. I think it's head and shoulders above some of the other campaigns I've seen in recent memory. Well, I did until I saw the watered down banner ad on the ESPN website. The 60-second spot Sunday night was really creepy--especially the Pinhead-esque barbed wire block that Urlacher wore aroud his head. The online banner campaign ("See who's behind the mask!")? There seems to be some creative disconnect there between the dark intensity of the televised campaign and the semi-cheesiness of the online banners.

You know, Nike are one of those companies that represent a ton of revenue and spend it in ways that, were I to put on my evil capitalist hat, totally make sense: sweatshop labor and smart advertising. Too bad the evil capitalist hat doesn't fit me well at all, otherwise I'd go out and buy me some Nike gear.

Conclusion: Be on the lookout for this commercial. I'm sure it'll be running during the Superbowl. Its well worth watching; one of the best commercials I've seen in recent memory.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Not on My A Game

But that probably has to do with the fact that I can't seem to sleep through the entire night anymore. What am I, 5 months old? Sheesh. Fall asleep too late, wake up at 3, fall asleep at 4, wake up at 7, and so on and so forth. I excercised well last night too. If this continues I'll have to think of alternative solutions.

In other news, Rachel Ray gave me an idea for an alternative method for cooking meatloaf: use a muffin tray. Its a neat idea, even if it does smack of "Mom's Creative Decisions." The disposable muffin tray means little to no clean up, and storage is a snap. So that's dinner tonight. Simple, effective, tasty. I'm going to work on some variations to my usual meatloaf recipe as well... that thing needs some innovation.

Lots of people seem to have a problem with the über-perky Rachel Ray. I don't get it. She can be a bit annoying, but she's cute and a good cook. And she's no where near as annoying as the frightening looking (and kind of creepy) Giada de Laurentiis or that awful Barefoot Contessa woman. So I'll stick strong to my fondness for Ray. Don't be hatin'.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sorry, I know You want Content...

But the fact is I didn't have that interesting of a weekend, at least food-wise. The cream of potato and leek soup made for good snowy weather eatings, and that was about it. But I do have a rather full larder, with a three pound organic chicken and numerous ground meats with which I plan on making meatloaf, burgers, and whatever else I please. I will be cooking this week--at least when I get a chance to. Anyone have interesting culinary plans this week? I want to make buffalo burgers at some point.

Oh wintertime, you never fail to make one long for comfort food. Fun, citrusy, bouncy recipes? I'll see you when the trees start to bud.

One quick observation: the secret ingredient on Iron Chef America was catfish. What? Can't believe those bottom feeding mudfish were an actual ingredient. What's next -- Battle Spam? I guess that would make the Hawaiian fans happy.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Short Thought

Is it just me, or is the "World Series of Blackjack" among one of the stupider ideas, ever? The players play against the house, not each other. So what is the point? Guess the Game Show Network GSN is just trying to ride the wave of televised casion games. Here's an idea: World Series of Monopoly. Think about it.

Snow means Drinking

So that's what I'll probably be doing Saturday. Where? When? Who knows. I'll have email access and have my phone, so feel free to get in touch. I like wintry weather boozin', because people just seem more happy. Plus the bars are usually packed, bartenders are in a good mood, and there will be football on Sunday. Sweet weekend. Destinations, BTW, will probably be on the Hill/Barracks Row (like I'm gonna brave the Metro or the bus, right). I want to check out the Ugly Mug for miniburgers and/or pizza, and of course I'll be at Tunnis at some point. Fun times will be had.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Enough Potato Leek Soup for a Small Army

Here comes my intuitive Potato Leek soup, a recipe based on looking at a few others and then using my pure cooking wits. Its an ideal soup for cold winter days, the kind you'd half expect to be eaten by NFL linebackers in the locker room during improbable Campbells commercials.

6 medium red skin potatoes
2 large leeks
3 stalks of celery
2 large carrots
4 Tbls. butter
1/2 gallon chicken stock
2 1/2 pints heavy cream
kosher salt
black pepper

Cube the potatoes (I left the skin on) and chop the leeks. I chose to use as much of the leeks as possible, just cutting off the tougher green ends (about 3 inches). Make sure you wash the leeks really well--they can be kind of sandy. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot and simmer the leeks and potatoes for 40 minutes over low heat. Around minute 30, dice the carrots and celery and saute in the butter. I used my thyme butter (4 oz. unsalted butter, 4 cloves garlic, thyme, salt, and a bit of lemon--instructions for preparation (though not my exact recipe) can be found here) for extra flavor. After the carrots and celery are softened a bit, add it all--melted butter too!-- to the stock (if you time it right, this should happen at the 40 minute mark). Pour in the cream, increase heat, and bring the soup back to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 20 additional minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve with nice crusty bread--I used the farmer's bread from Eastern Market Bakery. If you want the soup to be a bit creamier, swap out stock for cream.

This came out pretty well. I didn't salt it quite enough, but the creaminess level was great for my taste. The saltiness of the bread was the proper compliment, and to say I was full after eating a bowl and some bread would be an understatement. This recipe served four with tons left over--I'd say it probably serves a total of eight fairly well.

There it is, my first soup ever. Lots of room here for all kinds of experimentation and variation. Any suggestions?

Now that That's Over

We've got a newanother term for Mr. Bush, failed business man, alleged draft dodger, former alcoholic, alleged former cocaine user, and now President of These United States. I'm figuring the Democrats have to start getting optimistic about now. The hoopla surrounding this event--the $17 million from D.C., the orgy of excess the likes of which have never been seen for an inaugural--has been given a great deal of press. How can that be a bad thing? And there are plenty of other things to look forward to:

• The Republicans still don't have a viable candidate in line. Jeb Bush? Would be interesting--but would also look a little too dynastic. Giuliani? With the skeletons and the lack of experience, I don't see it. Its only so far you can ride on 9-11's coattails. There's probably a Red State governor out there being groomed as we speak, but at this moment there is no presumptive candidate for 2008. This is good.

• The left is now free of the post-election nether period. Now is the time to gear up for a big '06 push, hitting weak freshman from the house hard during their re-election bids and trying to pick off a few seats in the senate as well. I do think its possible to gain something similar to 1994. It won't be as huge, but it could happen.

• Democrats only have 2% of the country to convince if they run a strong candidate. The mere fact that a New England Dem won 49% of the popular vote is unbelievable. Unfortunately, during the last election the DNC played it too safe and went for an easy candidate. Maybe this time they'll get smarter.

Of course there's the sword of Damocles, hanging over Democrats heads:

• If Hillary makes any sort of run and gets the support people have been giving her in advance, the Democrats are screwed. Its like running as brash punk rocker for American Idol: yes, idealistically it is an interesting and important step, but dude, you're not gonna win.

I'll have fun watching this over the next few years. We're in for a ride.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

God Bless DCeiver

Thank you very much, DCeiver, for giving me some serious laughs before bedtime. Warning, clicking on link might cause a severe case of lol-itis.

Well, it was a Wednesday

So I can't decide if I'm so down because of this morning, because of the inauguration, because going downtown at 9 AM made me realize how sick I am of my job (or, more specifically, its location), or because my roommate and a zillion other people have off tomorrow while I have to go to work. Yuck.

In any case, I'm not going to dwell. Instead I'll go to bed and wake up to put a full day in tomorrow. And actually try to be super productive.

Oh, and then I'm going to come home and try to make my leek and potato soup. I'll probably do my fair share of recipe browsing tomorrow as well. Will make it a good day, even though current events and my consequent inability to go to the gym will be affected.

Recipe for the soup to come tomorrow. Now that, I'm really looking forward to.

Oh, and if anyone was wondering, my thyme butter came out fantastic. I have a bit of it with some bread tonight, and I'll be using it to saute carrots and celery for soup tomorrow. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Snow, and so on

Tom says it best: "Snow in DC area is less about meteorology than eschatology." With all the red-staters in town, it will be fun to watch the results of this finally-seasonal weather.

In other news, I think I flubbed it. Just have a bad feeling is all... like I didn't say at all the right things. That's a tough feeling to deal with. Well, back to the drawing board. Little more than four months until May 27th. I've given myself a goal and I shall accomplish it.

Bah... now I'm in a bad mood. But I do have some cooking to look forward to. Comfort food-ish; sausage & peppers in a tomato sauce. Nice. Plus Lost and the inevitably bad West Wing. TGI... W?

What a Strange Night

Well, maybe not strange. But intensely varied. The gym, then home to watch bad TV and eat leftovers. Then I made thyme/garlic butter (no report available yet on quality as I haven't tasted it), picked out a suit for today, helped my roommate move furniture out.... nice and busy, which is cool.

But more later, seriously. I'm getting my nervous on right now. Wish me luck, and if you don't know why you should, just do it, 'kay? Thanks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Islander

Audrey and I were looking for some cheap eats on U prior to going to DC9. We had already hit Dukem the weekend before, and I think I'll have to be drawn and quartered before I step foot into the new Alero in the Ellington. So we headed to Carribean eatery The Islander, a local staple that I'd read about in one of Sietsema's dining guides.

When we walked in, I was surprised at how empty the place was. There was one group of two dining in the front room and a few people having drinks and watching football in the back. Wanting to watch some of the game, Babs and I moved to the back section. The bar at The Islander screams "regulars only." Well, probably because that was the clientele. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, which is fine by me. The space was a little dark for dining, but it was clearly not the primary dining space. We were both pretty famished and looking for some rib-sticking food. We got it in the form of the restaurants renowned rotis, chicken for me and beef for Babs.

Roti, as my south Asian readers undoubtably know, is the Sanskrit-based word for bread. The Indian influence on West Indian cuisine has been very significant, resulting in the birth of this proto-fusion melding of Carribean and Indian flavors. (ever wonder why curries show up on the menu at Jamaican places? Scores of Indian indentured servants and civil servants shipped to the Carribean during the Raj.) The rotis at The Islander came out fairly quickly, wrapped in wax paper and about as big as your average Chipotle burrito. And much better.

Have you ever had a piece of chicken cooked so slowly that it literally melts? So tender that at some point you can't tell the difference between it and the potatoes its mixed with? That's the experience I had with my chicken roti. Though a little lightly spiced for my tastes, the texture and warmth of the dish made for a great salve against the bitter cold outside. Odd, because I don't think they get brutal sub-freezing temperatures in the Carribean.

The best part about the rotis? They cost less than $10. Thats right, Babs and I dined for just over $20, tax and tip included. And it was actual, authentic good food.

I plan on going back to the Islander with a larger group of people soon, to sample some of the other, non-roti dishes on the menu. They all look good, especially the Calypso Chicken. Anyone out there want to try it, maybe sometime later this month? Its worth it. Who needs restaurant week when there are great, cheap ethnic joints just dying to please your taste buds?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Emo

Tonight was kind of emotional. More than I was expecting. Frankly, I didn't think I would tear up but I did. Multiple times, beginning when Jharna read and getting pretty heavy around the time Dad spoke. Seeing him tear up didn't help. There's a list, somewhere, of sights that cannot be witnessed without crying. Seeing your father cry is probably number two or three. (for the record, "50 First Dates" is not on this list, and neither is "The Prince of Tides." Surprisingly, "Road to Perdition" appears multiple times).

There are things I don't think non-Bengalis understand about our community. Especially the Baltimore community. We were always so small, always so tightly knit. Its not like family, its not like close friends. There is no easy way to describe it to people who aren't part of a small immigrant group... when I called Barun Kaku a "family friend" it just sounded so hollow. Anyone out there have lexical suggestions?

I'll write a weekend rundown tomorrow. Here the short version:

--It finally got cold, hooray.
--If you haven't been, you've gotta go to The Islander on U St.
--DC9 is fun.
--Brunch is the hottest meal going right now, with dinner not far behind.
--Iron Chef America receives a solid B.
--George Lucas totally wrecked the first part of Return of the Jedi with the crappy new song in Jabba's palace.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Google-rific

Neat. As of right now this page is number 6 on a Google search for "Kanishka". The links that come before this place are fairly predictable: a reference to the king who is my namesake, the bombing of an Air India plane bearing the name, and a restaurant in Redmond, WA. Think if I go there I'll get a free meal?

For a change of pace, I went to the market today instead of Sunday. Got some good stuff--fancy sausages, fancy bread, and some great looking ground buffalo. I'm going to combine the buffalo with the free range ground pork I also purchased for some powerful burgers. Also got some leeks and some red skin potatoes. I'm going to make some thyme butter tomorrow and really get a good meal going. Cornish Hen, roast red skins w/sage, sauteed leeks. Okay, now I'm hungry. Crap.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Testing

Okay people, let's hop on the meme bandwagon and test my nifty new Haloscan commenting feature, brought to me courtesy of Mr. Andrej. Delurk, at least some of you, so I know that this Haloscan thingy works.

"Hey Kanishka, aren't you a little late for this? Delurking day was last week."
"Hey Anonymous, how would you like a kick in the face?"
"Hey Kanishka, I would like that very much, thank you."

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Vidalia

I think Michael's post about Vidalia sums it up, sort of. And by sort of, I mean not at all not exactly. I think my impressions of the restaurant changed while I was on the metro, thinking about my other fine dining experiences and how this one compared. I've been to some pretty swank places, and since Vidalia is one of those "legendary" DC restaurants, I expected more.

My appetizer: A "Shady Lane Salad." The restaurant should rename it the "Chef Salad for Ponces." It was nothing special, really. There were all kinds of goodies advertised--candied ham, herbs, sweet onions, etc.--and none of them save the onions made the dish even slightly noteworthy. Thank god it was restaurant week--that salad goes for $9.75! I am not paying that much for a chef salad a quarter of the size I make at home.

My entree: Winter Fluke served with a "spicy" crayfish sauce, accented with andouille. The combination just didn't work together. The fish was flaky and well cooked, but totally bland. The sauce was great but didn't bring out the flavor of the fish at all. And there was barely enough of the sauce to accent. I would have served a meat over the sauce, or maybe a more assertive fish. Alternately, I would have served the fluke with some citrus and some greens. This is a restaurant where no entrees are under $20--and at that price point, this entree would not be worth it. Wish I had gone for the cassoulet.

My dessert: Lemon Chess Tart. Okay, it was yummy. I can't hate on it much.

The service: was obnoxious and pompous. Especially annoying was our waiters upsell to Michael on the wine, actually bringing over a bottle of the stuff in an attempt to get him to buy a $12+ dollar glass (Michael did buy it, and loved it). Methinks I'm being a little over critical--but that is my way.

The highlight of the evening? The cocktail onions in my gibson. They were huge and I loved them. Of course, the place is called Vidalia--so the onions better be good.

Vidalia looks like a nice deal during restaurant week--but then you see the menu, where many of the dishes have 4-10 dollar add ons. Ridiculous. I can understand some items (those featuring truffles, foie gras, or the like) being additional, but when half the menu is like that it is just annoying.

Will I go back to Vidalia? Maybe. But only if I hit the lottery or go on an expense account. Otherwise, I don't think it is worth it.

(NB: This is not to say I had a bad time. I really enjoyed the company. But something about the restaurant just didn't vibe with me. Alas.)

Edited to add: Michael's review definitely covered his experience. My thoughts were slower in coming. Apologies if there's confusion in the contrast.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Also, a Lexical Note

"Blogosphere" is officially on my least-favorite-word list, joining words such as "synergy", "dialogue" (in an academic, esp. theological, context), and "optimize." My suggestions for alternatives include the two-part "Bloggertopia" and "Sixapartistan," who are currently in a bit of a Cold War after Sixapartistan annexed Livejournalia. For a collective term, how about the super-catchy "bloglandia"? Anyone out there have other suggestions?

God, just reading that word makes me feel a bit ill.

(side note: how cool is the Wikipedia logo? The answer is very.)

Good Sounds

Boomselection offers the latest installment of "As Heard on Radio Soundhog," "33 Problems." Soundhog's mixes have always been excellent, but this one is noteworthy. First, it is a good 10-20 BPM slower than many of the mashup mixes out there, hovering around 140. That is actually fairly cool--it manages to make you want to dance, but doesn't overwhelm with pure beats. But by far, the highlight of the mix for me was around minute 13, a combination that is, well, music gold. No telling what it is--you just have to download it. If you need more convincing on why you need to download this mix, allow me to present a list of the artists represented in the mix (via Boomselection, emphasis mine):

808 state / a house / alter ego / aphex twin / bad company / bill withers / blackstrobe / cabaret voltaire / chantal / chemical brothers / colosseum / daft punk / david holmes / demis roussos / depeche mode / destiny's child / dynamix ii / michael viner's incredible bongo band / indeep / jay-z / joe budden / julien delfaud, alex gopher & etienne de crécy / lcd soundsystem / led zeppelin / lemon jelly / liquid liquid / lopazz / mario savio / michael jackson / queen / renegade soundwave / scorpions / sheer taft / slade / spike milligan / sugarhill gang / soulwax / terranova feat. ari up / the blackbyrds / the commodores / the crusaders / the faces / the prodigy / together / venetian snares / vitalic / visage / whitney houston

That is some auditory goodness, I tell you what.

In other mashup news (apparently the preferred nomenclature now), DCist reader and local mashup guy Solcofn is apparently trying to start a mash night in DC. Unfortunately, there was a fire at my preferred venue for such a party. They won't be open again until the spring. But if a good bastard pop party does start in DC, I'll probably be there. Especially if I get on the guest list.

A Piece of Advice

If you're making marinades for good steaks, its best not to do so when you're drunker than a Scotsman on a Wednesday. Let's just say the saltiness level can get a little higher than you want.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wait Wait Wait

Holy Crap.

And its not even April Fool's Day.

Crikey.

Fun with Restaurant Week

So last night Audrey and I went to Ceiba to take full advantage of Restaurant Week. We got to the restaurant right in time for our reservations and were seated immediately--nice!--at a corner table by the kitchen. The restaurant looked fairly crowded from the outside, and our section only had a two-top open when we were seated. Our waiter came to us immediately and briefed us on the Restaurant Week offerings (one type of ceviche, any of the soups, or a green salad; any entree; a selection of three desserts) and we were off.

First came the drinks. Audrey had a batida (for some reason, not on their drink menu online) while I had the caipirinha. The batida was not as sweet as Audrey would have liked, but got sweeter toward the bottom. My caipirinha was very tasty, string with the muddled lime. Cachaça tastes very similar to light rum, which makes sense (sugar cane vs. mollases extract).

Our appetizers were the black bean soup and the shrimp ceviche. Both were great, especially the soup. The ham and manchego croquette and pickled red onions made the soup--the mix of pickled flavor with the earthy richness of beans was crucial. I wish there was more of an avocado hit to the ceviche though; the one bit we had wasn't really experienced until the end. It did have a nice bit of spiciness to it, and the tart kick you want out of a good ceviche.

Main dishes were the scallops a la plancha for Audrey and the whole roasted snapper for myself. The scallops tasted great, from what I had. They were cooked perfectly--easily sliced with a fork, tender and juicy. And they were huge--bigger than golf balls. The masa gnocchi they were served with was a very nice accent, as were the two sauces. My snapper came out and looked intimidating. Now, I'm strictly a novice when it comes to eating whole roasted fish, but this thing looked crazy! Thankfully, snapper is a pretty bone free bit of seafood. I went to town on it. The skin was nicely roasted and the tomato/olive/caper/jalepeno sauce added just what the light flavor of the snapper needed. Mom would have been proud--I ate the fish down to the bone. Comment of the night, from Audrey: "Oh, that's what fish bones look like!" (food novice!)

Since it was a restaurant week meal, I went ahead and had dessert. Audrey got bread pudding while I got Mexican flan. The bread pudding was better, most likely because of the weather (cold and rainy) and not because of the dish itself.

Overall, if I ever get some extra dough, I want to go back to Ceiba. The restaurant was fancy without feeling pretentious and the food was excellent. Odds are dinner for two on a normal night will set you back in the range of $100-$150. One day, I tell you, one day.

After Ceiba, we walked a few blocks over to Indebleu for a couple of drinks. This was the first time I'd been back since the opening party. The crowd downstairs... well, yuck. Everyone seemed very painfully hip or painfully rich. I was not in the mood for those kinds. I took Audrey on a tour of the upstairs, which was quite different; it felt like a real fine dining establishment. Admirably, the Bleu Group has managed to keep the two vibes separate. I'd definitely love to dine at Indebleu, but I don't think I want to drink there.

Oh, and the drinks? Ridiculously indulgent and overpriced. I think their rail vodka is Grey Goose. Audrey had an odd variation on a White Russian made with Sambuca and Rum (a white pirate?) while I had a Lycheetini and a Mangotini. Both 'tinis were excellent, but I don't think I want to pay those kinds of prices again any time soon. The staff at Indebleu were great and friendly--stark contrast from the clientele. I am tempted to eat there some time, but for a classy night out drinking, I think there are other placed I'd pick over Indebleu.

Oh, who am I kidding? I don't like classy places, I like dives.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Some Thanks are in Order

Thanks to Steve Mannion for introducing me to this absolutely awful song. Predictably, I love it. What is it about bad dance music with bad vocals that is so damned attractive to me?

Thanks to Tunni's for firing your excellent but sketchy head chef. I knew he was a bit odd, but when he tried to sell me a rather large amount of illicit substances, I knew he wasn't exactly one I wanted to hang out with often. I'm sad, however, that I won't be able to get his recipe for beer-battered broccoli. Seriously--that stuff was awesome.

Thanks to my work (no link for you!) for giving me mind numbingly boring tasks today. I really didn't feel like thinking, and Salon was good morning reading.

Speaking of which, thanks to Salon for recognizing that Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle was, in addition to being a great bit of stoner humor, a clever bit of racial commentary (subscription or ad view required).

Thanks to Gold's Gym for rigidly enforcing the half-hour rule on your cardio machines last night. Oh, and thanks to the random staff ass from Barney Frank's office who let me work in with him for some of the evening. (sidenote: Even Frank's webpage appears messy and unkempt. What was it made on--Geocities?)

And finally, thanks to 2005. You're shaping up to be a better year than 2004 so far. Not that '04 was bad--but if I get a new job and keep everything else in my life the same, 2005 will be exponentially better.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Bloggers are Drunks (a Weekend Roundup)

(this is long, be prepared)

Wow. Had a fun weekend, which was very nice. A nice combination of things I normally do (drink wine and pass out on the couch) and don't do (go to Virginia). A chance to shake it, just a little. And a weekend that was in general much too short.

Friday night I stayed in, reading comic books (well, really just one long comic) and watching X2. But really, the evening started out with me making spaghetti & meatballs.

Don't let appearances fool you. The perfect meatball is a difficult thing. In fact, I don't think I've ever really made one. But I've come close. The crucial element is something that Alton Brown taught me: uniform size means uniform cooking times. Even a slightly too-large meatball may come out of the oven undercooked, which is gross. Also, using all ground beef with no filler results in a lack of texture and nuanced flavor. It is thus to be avoided. In the end, the meatballs were 1.5 lbs ground beef, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon basil, 1 healthy shake kosher salt, and 1 egg. Mixed that stuff up real well; made meatballs about 1.5 inches in diameter (the perfect size for a meatball, there have been studies) and baked for 25 minutes, turning each ball once to get at least two dark brown surfaces. With a simple tomato sauce and some whole wheat noodles, this dinner turned out great. And I've got one serving left (ate another as leftovers for dinner last night) which will no doubt become lunch sometime this week.

Saturday afternoon I met up with a very, very old friend. I hadn't seen her in many a year, and it was nice to meet up again. Unfortunately, the conversation wandered off and ended up just okay. Whatever--I'm sure there was a bit of awkwardness, considering the last time I saw her was at a concert where not much talking could happen. I did enjoy the Capitol Lounge "Make Your Own Bloody Mary" bar. Post brunch, did some market shopping, had a quick beer at Tunnis, and came home to meet Audrey and get ready for Bluestate.

Pre-Bluestate, Audrey and I were to meet an ever-expanding group for dinner at Dukem, an Ethiopian restaurant I've heard many a good thing about. We got there and the place was hella crowded, so we took seats at the bar and waited on Missy, Lizzy, Rob, Mike, and two friends to be named later. The evening could have been interesting, as we had a mix of friends, friends of friends, and Ethiopians. Unfortunately, the two worlds did not collide; crowding forced us to stay at the bar whilst the Michiganites (Michiganers?) ate at a classy table (with silverware! For shame!). The food was real good. Lamb wot was spicier than the doro wot at Addis Ababa, the tibs were nice and tender, the alecha was spicy and the fit fit was sour as it is meant to be. The atmosphere was a bit lacking; the restaurant was loud, poorly lit, and kind of cramped. The service was spotty, and our dishes failed to come out at the same time. This is of course tempered by the fact that we were at the bar. Overall, I'd like to go back and try actually sitting at the table. For the price, the place was totally worth it.

Bluestate was fun. I got some dancing and some drinking in, and was very amused by a drunk Audrey. It was a little bit of a switcheroo, as Audrey got drunk and I stayed relatively sober. The bartender at the Black Cat was nice about comping me some beverages throughout the night--I swear, there's that sign on my head again. I actually skanked to one of the three decent ska songs in the world ("Mirror in the Bathroom." The others are "Soundsystem" by Operation Ivy and "Wrong Em Boyo" by the Clash. Honorable mentions go to "Doomsday" by Mephiskapheles and "Shotgun Jimmy" by the Toasters) which amused Jeff and Audrey to no end, and did "The Carlton" at the request of Mr. Talley. Wish they had played more bootlegs, but that's just because I'm a sucker for the stuff. There are pictures of me floating around in cyberspace, but I'm not telling you where to find them. Got to meet a bunch of other bloggers, some who were as quiet and awkward as expected, while others were extroverted and not at all like the blogger stereotype. The Arcade Fire show (aka BlogCon 2005) will be another interesting experiment in how meta interaction meets real interaction.

Sunday morning (afternoon?) I headed off to the hinterlands of Clarendon to have brunch with the DCist staff. My suspicion is that in about three to four months, the DCist staff will be roughly the size of the House of Representatives. The meeting went well, and DCist is going to have a great year. (BTW, if you read DCist and have thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment or email me. I'd like to hear them).

Brunch was an interesting experience. We picked Tallula, because we needed a brunch venue that took reservations (oh, and I influenced the staff). Through some sort of telepathy, DCists all gravitated either toward the Scotch Eggs or the Biscuits and Gravy, with Rob and Catherine being the odd ones out. The dishes, when they came out, looked relatively meager in comparison to your traditional brunches. Becca commented that this was a good thing--sensible portion sizes. I can totally support that idea. My biscuits were served with country gravy, pancetta, and fried quail eggs. The biscuits were moist and buttery and the gravy was salty and thick without being overpowering. The pancetta was a nicely chewy counterpoint to pillowy biscuits, and the quail eggs (if you haven't had them, imagine tiny tiny free range chicken eggs) added a bit of smooth creaminess to the whole plate. Like my previous experience with the food at Tallula, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Reactions to the scotch eggs were generally positive, and Catherine thought her grilled cheese and tomato soup was good as well. We also had many a Mimosa and Bloody Mary at the table. Obviously I can't comment on the Mimosas (not my drink) but the Bloody was okay. They were very heavy on the garnishes--cocktail onions and a diverse array of stuffed olives. The drink itself didn't have the spiciness I look for, and it could have been a bit thicker. But not too bad.

Is Tallula worth the trip to Clarendon, simply for brunch? Well, sure--but I wouldn't say its an every-Sunday thing for those who don't live in the area. But as a treat, well worth it. I suggest making your Mother's Day reservations now.

Also worth mentioning at the DCist meeting: the old school writers totally got shirts! They're hott--blue on blue ringer tees with the DCist logo. They'll also be available for purchase soon. Prediction: DCist.com t-shirts will supplant obscure band t-shirts as the hipster casual wear of choice in 2005.

Post Talulla I was predictable. Watched football and read the jobs section of the Post at Tunnis, talked to some strangers, came home, ate leftovers, and fell asleep during the season premiere of Carnivale. Dammit--gonna have to watch that Tuesday now. I also bisected my flatiron steak and made two separate marinades; steaks will be eaten tonight and Wednesday most likely. The experimental one this time will be what I like to call an "Afghan Style" steak, marinaded in olive oil, garlic, chili powder, and Madras curry powder. That one I'll let sit longer and eat Wednesday.

I actually went to bed very early, came to work today early, and in the best news to come across my desk recently, was hit with a rather frustrating and difficult crisis that needs resolution. Unfortunately, the crisis involves players on the left coast, and I'm having nothing but trouble getting a hold of them. You know, if this crisis plays out like I'm suspecting it might, there will be some very very very angry people in the office. That would not be fun at all.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Not Much Cooking News

Like I said earlier, my larder is empty. So tonight will be a traditional comfort food meal that all you Indians out there should know well, spaghetti and meatballs.

Well, okay, its not Indian comfort food. I'm not doing something stupidly creative like putting curry powder in my meatball mix (don't tempt me). But it's comfort food for me. Baked meatballs, no fancy schmancy ingredients. Sometimes simplicity is best.

BUT: The next few days will be endless culinary fun. Saturday night, Dukem. Sunday brunch, Tallula. Tuesday night, Ceiba. Thursday night, Vidalia. Hoorah for Restaurant Week. Little to no cooking will happen in this period of time, but full reports on all the restaurants will be provided.

There are other exciting things going on that I'm not at liberty to discuss, but I'm feeling pretty good. Well, as long as I get a good night's sleep. Gonna sit at home, drink some wine, and read The Preacher all night. And I'm hoping against hope that Rob isn't home. But we shall see.

If you're coming to Bluestate, good. If you're not, well, you better have a good excuse. It's free, come on people. (NB: To those who are under 21, I do not know if the back room party is 18+)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Trend Ebbing

This is a nice article. Unfortunately, after The Grey Album, this piece of crap, and radio shows on HFS and DC101, the mash-up is kind of over. Well, as over as any trend based on recycling pop detritus can be. But seriously, no wonder none of the good bootleg blogs have bandwith left. Boomselection has some on occasion, but in general it isn't easy to find. Crap. I've been searching for "Lisa's Got Hives" forever, and haven't been able to find "Love will Freak Us" since my hard drive crashed. Tarnation.

It is Thursday though. This is a plus. Tomorrow: free bagels and donuts. And I might cook spaghetti for dinner, because I'm in the mood for comfort food. Saturday: Bluestate. Bloggerific.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Making Due with What You Got

The plan was a pork chop stuffed with onions, spinach, mushrooms, and garlic. Then I saw that I had no onions left, no starches at home to speak of that were explicitly usable, and the mushrooms I had didn't look so great. So here's what I did

2 boneless pork chops, butterflied
1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 thick slices stale pumpernickel bread, cubed
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
Beef stock as needed

Preheat oven to 350 and pound the butterflied pork thin. (I used my double deuces. Where is my mallet? Oh yeah...). Heat skillet over medium, melt butter in skillet. Add garlic to the skillet and saute until translucent. Add the bread and slowly add the beef stock until the bread is slightly less than mushy. Turn off heat and add the feta. Mix well.

Take your bread mixture and place at the center of the butterflied chops. Fold over chops and tie off, being careful that the two ends are tapered thinner than the center. Cut the remaining butter into eight slices. Place the chops in a baking dish, with two slices under each (one at each end) and two atop (ditto). Bake in oven for 35 minutes, flipping once in the middle. If a crisper exterior is desired, broil for a few minutes on each side. Two total servings.

I served this with a side of steamed spinach and a heaping serving of "Lost." B minus for Lost, B for meal. It needed a sauce of some sort to pull it together, but like I said, I got nothin'. Note to Eastern Market: be open next Saturday.

A Few Questions

1. Your dry cleaner handles your best clothes, has your phone number, knows your name, and takes your money. Once you start going to one, it is difficult to stop. You go to them when you need to and are upset when you can't get to them. Yet you rarely know their name(s) and/or (inexclusive or) are sent into a bit of a freefall when forced to change them.

A. True or False?

a1. If true, is the drycleaner really that much more than a high priced, regular escort sans the sex?

a2. If false, how long have you had the same relationship with said dry cleaner?

2. The "hip" food cycle has always been about discovering innovative uses for old ingredients, not about finding new ingredients. For example: both cabbage and cauliflower have enjoyed recent renaissances. Previous examples include sun dried tomatoes, pesto sauce, and olives. Currently it looks like the butternut squash and the celery root are looking quite popular. After we run out of old ingredients, where do we turn? (my vote: insects)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Oww.

It is official: I lost a bunch of muscle mass during my month of on-again, off-again lifting. Crap. Pushed hard today at the gym, and I'll have pain to show for it tomorrow. My press is down a bit, as is my overall endurance. But that's what I get, I suppose. The gym wasn't as crowded as expected, but there were plenty of new faces. Last year, my old gym needed traffic directors after the first of the year. Probably because of all the haus fraus that Bowie attracts. Thank goodness for a young gym. One of the benefits of that is that the music is usually good. Today it was very nostalgic for me--almost all 1998-2000 era rave. We're talking Black Box Recorder, some Acid House tracks, "Let Me Be Your Fantasy", and for the more pedestrian, "Zombie Nation." It was like being at the gym with a bad imitator of Derrick Carter. Of course, by the time I got to the hardest part for me (cardio), the music had changed to a better-than-average pop mix. Oh well.

Other than that, an uneventful evening. Spent a good amount of time writing my DCist review of Tallula, playing with posting my first ever column spanning image. Also a pretty long review. It was fun to write, but one day I want to write a full fledged restaurant review, one where I sample multiple items on the menu over the course of many evenings. Oh yeah, and one where I can expense it. The review will be up tomorrow, sometime. Melissa, if you still read this--sorry about the delay!

Speaking of which, hey, want to nominate DCist for a Bloggy? Best group blog? Best new blog? Both will do, thanks. There is a category for best food blog. I think I'd give that one to either the eGullet community blog or The Food Section. But you know, that interweb, she's endless. I've probably missed a million other good blogs about food. Ray's blog not included.

Oh, also enjoyed a second night of chef salad. Now that I'm doing the gym thing again, meals will be prepared every other day, predominantly. I have an almost complete recipe in mind for the pork chops with a few minor elements to work out. That I'll post tomorrow, after some research.

More goals for the new year: an asian soup, maybe even a fish soup. Game, maybe quail. And a haggis. (Just kidding... or am I?)

Miscellany

• So I clicked on the "Next Blog" button at the top of my site, and it sent me here. First, way to have totally annoying in-post formatting. Second, everyone knows you're supposed to spell it Thums Up. Third, yes we rule. Fourth, there's nothing currently on my page about my race. How the heck did I get here? Randomness. Clicking from the Indian page took me here. Weird.

• I'm finally heading back to the gym tonight after a long layoff. Wish soreness on me for tomorrow. Chest and Triceps. It may be crowded, crap.

• Dinner on Wednesday will be stuffed pork chops. I'll keep it a mystery as to what will actually go in the stuffing until I finish my final thoughts on the recipe.

• The weather has crossed from unseasonably pleasant to annoying in my mind. It is too warm; why did I get all these new sweaters, not to mention a new coat? The only plus is that the heating bill for January won't be too bad. But this is DelMarVa. It could easily be 17 degrees in a week, and snow 2 feet. That would be awesome. Unfortunately, Wunderground says that the warm weather isn't going away any time soon.

• Forgot to talk about the NYE dinner. It was great; tart and tangy, to compensate for relatively bland chicken. The sauce was the best part. Haven't gone into the fantastically inventive lately, but will be sometime soon. After the dinner, I went to Rob's in Glover Park. Rode what was possibly the whitest bus in DC (.pdf) to get there. Drank sake, drank more sake. New Year's resolution: don't drink that much sake. Thanks Audrey for dealing with my drunk self.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Hard Boiled

Today both my mother and my sister laughed heartily at my expense. The reason? I called them to receive instructions on how to hard boil eggs.

Seriously.

Prior to this evening, I had never, ever boiled an egg. Eggs are one of my few culinary albatrosses. I can't make an omelette. I've never fried an egg in my life. I use eggbeaters as an egg wash (one of my other albatrosses, baking, is probably related to my fear of eggs). But this evening I was overcome with a craving for a chef salad, so I gathered all the materials necessary and set forward.

My variation on a chef salad:

3 slices sundried tomato pesto turkey
3 slices honey ham
2 hard boiled eggs
1/2 bag of field greens
Feta cheese
Ranch Dressing
Croutons, your choice.

If you really want instruction on how to combine these ingredients into a chef salad, well, I guess you can email me. But if you really need those instructions, I wouldn't trust you with a whisk.

The salad was great. Huge, filling, and satisfying. And the eggs? My mother's method of boiling eggs differed from the instructions offered in the Joy of Cooking, and being the eternal doubting Thomas I went for the Joy. It was remarkably easy and the eggs came out perfectly--without that greenishness Mom's sometimes has, or the tough rubber yolk. The trick was, I believe, the immediate discarding of the simmering water and replacing it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Mom's method is faster, but, well, I liked mine better.

I washed down the dinner with Pom, which I've been curious about. The verdict? This stuff is great, like cranberry juice on steroids. A little skeptical about the supposed health benefits, but this stuff is hella tasty. Official policy is that I support Pom, and when possible I fully support funding for a lower cost generic alternative. Does anyone know where I can get one of these? That looks delicious.

Okay, the first part of "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" is on. This is probably the pinnacle of Sorkin, with "Two Cathedrals" coming in a close second. Hooray West Wing for making Mondays tolerable. Boo to Bravo for having awful repetitive commercials.

My Saturday Night...

... went down like this.

I spent 20 minutes waiting for a bus that didn't come, and ended up hailing a cab to Wonderland in Columbia Heights. I was excited, because I'd never been there and had heard good things.

Upon getting to the bar I realized that I didn't have much cash. I asked the bouncer where the nearest ATM was and he sent me 4 blocks west, to the corner of 13th & Irving, right across from the Columbia Heights metro station.

I am a knucklehead when it comes to walking alone. I mean, come on, I'm both invincible and immortal, right? So I set off to the ATM thinking nothing. On my way over I was verbally accosted by a crazy woman, who yelled "What the hell is your problem?" at me for five minutes from across the street (I still don't know what my problem is). I thought to myself, in my best Star Wars voice, "I've got a bad feeling about this." But I kept walking, a little faster this time.

When I arrived at the ATM, there was a Latino *ahem* gentleman standing in front of it. There was red minivan double parked by the ATM, and there were a couple more guys standing around the car, speaking loudly in Spanish. The guy at the ATM turned to me and said something, also in Spanish. I replied in my broken espanol that "yo no habla." He asked me in English if I was Latino and then cancelled his transaction.

That was a tell, right there. I should have left, but I guess I felt the need to see how this drama would play out.

The guy went to the minivan and stood outside it. I can't remember if he got in, but I do think he reached in at some point. I took out money and turned around, searching for a more well-lit road to walk back on. He yelled something at me ("Hey buddy!" I believe) and then started walking, then jogging, towards me.

Well, there were two ways to react. Respond or run. And I did the smart thing and ran, booking it for the metro station. He started running after me, but after that I didn't really pay attention to where he was. I just ran into the Metro and hid for about 10 minutes. Hy heart was beating out of my chest. I left the station and ran back to Wonderland, cursing Columbia Heights and the Mara Salvatruchas/Vatos Locos/whoever.

Is it racist of me to assume that the guy was in a gang and intending violence? Maybe. So what? Sometimes a spade is a spade. The last time something like this happened I was all-out drunk, so its hazy. This time I was stone cold sober and the incident is etched in my memory--the dude's blue bandana (glad I didn't wear mine out--was thinking about it), the red van, his friend talking to the driver of the car... I'm more or less certain that had I done the macho thing and confronted the people, I'd be $67 poorer and a little bruised up. Or worse.

So, I think I'm going to try and limit the amount of solo walking I do in sketchy neighborhoods from now on. And I don't think I'll be going back to Wonderland unaccompanied any time soon.

On the plus side, the year can only get better, right?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A Scary Night

I had a bit of a bad one tonight. Scary not in the "I was stupid while drinking" sense. Scary as in the "I am glad that I am safe" sense. The story involves walking alone in neighborhoods I should not be walking alone in.

Happily, I am okay. But I am also very shook up. Now I shall try to relax a bit and get some sleep. Will put the whole story up tomorrow.