A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

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.