A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Yearly Grossout

There's a weird list of things I do maybe once or twice a year thinking I'll enjoy it and realizing said activity/venue/choice sucks. Items on said list: smoking a cigar, going somewhere in Rockville, drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (lots of people like this, I am not one), going to bars near where I grew up, eating a jumbo slice sober, running (My shoes stink. If I had a better pair I might like it more.), going to Tom Tom in Adams Morgan. In calendar year 2005 I had only done one of these (Sierra Nevada) until last night, when I ended up at Tom Tom. Words fail me on describing how awful that place is. It was so hot that condensation from the ceiling feel on me (nasty), I was confronted by a bartender who said I didn't pay for my drink (she dropped my $5 and forgot about it), multiple skeezy (underage) dudes tried to pick up my companions... and they don't even have a Nintendo anymore.

Please, if you're ever out with me and I say words like "hey, maybe Tom Tom would be fun" shoot me. Preferrably somewhere non fatal.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Burnination

If you're ever planning on trying to make chicken fried steak, make sure to use all resources available to consult on methods before attempting. Not recommended: using an herb butter as a frying agent; heating pan to be incredibly hot before putting in the butter; inadequately pounding your steak thin before breading; attempting this dish without a deep fryer and while drunk.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

New Jacks Up in the Market Eatin' Greenery

Last Saturday the new greens lady at the market sold me on some wicked crazy greens. They look like full on leaves (veined, jagged edges) and run in color from a deep green to a purple. I was skeptical when she handed me a sample but holy Moses were these greens good. They have this odd kick and a spiciness that's mysterious, developing late on the palate. I piled some on a sandiwch and took it to work today; not only did they not lose their texture, but they maintained all the bite of being fresh from the bag. The farmer lady insisted that I never, ever cook these greens ("They lose everything!") which is advice I think I'll take to heart. One problem: I have no idea what they are. Not field greens like I'm familiar with, not mustard greens or dandelion... it is quite the mystery.

If you're a devotee of prebagged salad from the grocery store I highly recommend checking out the greens lady at Eastern Market. She's there on Saturdays, outside. You'll know her because she'll be standing in front of a large truck and behind multiple cases full of greens. She sells them by volume and for $4 you get way more than the average salad bag, and at about one billion times the freshness. I also got some great purple asparagus from her recently. Too yum.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Five Five Five

What you know: DCist happy hours always feature beers, conversations that use "blog" as a verb, and next day drunk photos in the interweb.

What you may know: A team up between Bluestate and DCist was opposed by the federal government because it falsely implies that DC is a blue state, when its actually a blue Federal District. But we're bucking authority. Why? Because when SanJuanist launches, they'll need a guiding light.

What you don't know: Goodspeed will be battle rapping all challengers to the lyrical death. The winner receives nothing from Triple 5 Soul, but wouldn't it have been smart of us to think of that?

What the heck am I talking about?

2005_05-cincodemayobanner.gif


$5 margaritas? We can do that.

Because Five is Right Out.

Updated to Add the Following Keywords for Easy Googling: Cinco de Mayo, DC, D.C., DCist, happy hour, party, bluestate, drink specials, margaritas, Sauza, Cuervo, tequila, cheap beer, Goodspeed is a Google Junkie.

Hewlett Packard Krueger

Okay, my computer is like a horror movie villain. Just when you think its dead, surprise! Its alive!

What. The. Hell. People.

The (P)horror, the (P)horror

Last night's trip to Cleveland Park ended with dinner at Nam-Viet Pho 79. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that unless I am craving pho like a crackhead for that sweet sweet rock I will never, ever be returning to said restaurant. It was bad.

Great pho restaurants are hard to find. There are a few places that do it right, but its a delicate science to prepare. Good pho, however, is not so challenging a proposition. There are probably as many decent pho restaurants in the area as there are movies about Vietnam.

Nam-Viet Pho 79 is neither.

I came in as a one-top, breaking my rule of always sitting at a bar when I'm dining alone. I was seated at what was probably the worst table in the house, next to the service bar where waitrons were constantly ringing up orders and barking in Vietnamese. Whatever. Garlic and Sapphires in hand, I ordered a their "special" green salad and the spicy beef pho.

(This restaurant knows their yuppie Cleveland Park clientele. The dishes on the menu aren't only described by the ingredients, but also in regards to how low in calories and fat they are. Some may like this. I found it irritating.)

NVP79 has a disclaimer on their menu: all dishes are made to order and may take some time. Okay, I can buy that. But in the time it took to get my salad, it felt like they were picking the lettuce off a rooftop garden -- in Rockville. The salad, topped with "special house vinaigrette" or something, was awful. The veggies themselves were decent quality if a little bitter. I would have been able to deal with this except that the restaurant used what tasted like a teaspoon of their "special" dressing -- which was basically vinegar and nothing more, from the taste of it. Yuck. Hungry for greens, about a third of the bowl got eaten before I gave up. The tomatoes were flavorless, the onions were chopped so broadly that the flavor was overpowering, and the red leaf lettuce picked up none of the dressing (what little there was). Were I not in a veggie mood, I would have opted for an appetizer of the spring roll variety.

I waited another seventeen years for the pho. When it came out I was surprised: instead of a chili-based spicy broth, the "spiciness" for the soup was apparently imbued by slices of raw jalapeno. All heat, no flavor. Not feeling up for too much spice (I wanted a good night's sleep) I picked off the peppers and tossed them. But the broth was still incredibly bland, not rib-sticking and satisfying like decent pho -- forget incredibly soul-enriching like the great kind. The noodles were okay and I have to say the meat was decent in its rareness and flavor, though absolutely paltry in amount. The lime wedge added a something, but there were none of the customary basil sprigs that are given on the side as an enhancer. The mediocrity of the dish became a general boring-ness towards the middle, and just gross at the end. Normally I can drain a full size bowl of pho. I could have last night, but chose not too. What's the point in filling your stomach on boring, bad soup?

The final insult of the meal was waiting for my check, which took about 15 minutes in a restaurant that was half full. That's probably because I was easy to forget, tucked away in the corner. And you know what? The restaurant is likewise one that I will forget, easily.

The Woe Lowdown

So my computer is dead again. But for some reason I'm not upset about it... eventually I'll take it to a "doctor" to be looked at and get an idea of what the problem is, but that isn't a huge priority right now. Frankly, being cut off from the internets at home has forced me to do other, more interesting things with my time. Like actually start reading again. This temporary divorce from technology has stopped making me feel upset and actually allowed me to relax. No AIM, no blogging from home, no checking work email on Sundays. Also no mp3s (which is sad) but I'm actually listening to albums again. Viva la liberacion.

Also, yesterday I found out I was the victim of identity theft. In 2003. In Montgomery, Alabama, from what it looks like, to the tune of some $700. Though somewhat confused by this I'm pretty unfazed, as the amount is pretty ludicrous and no expense that I remember. This odd news stressed me out for about ten minutes, but then for some reason I felt pretty calm about it. Let those in charge look at it; I'll just sit tight.

To come: a report on Nam-Viet Pho 79 (or whatever its called) in Cleveland Park.

Argh?

Surprisingly not in a bad mood given certain current situations. More later, right now I have work things to deal with. Apologies for the vagueness, will be more direct later.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Laptop Messiah

My trusty old laptop, drunk that it is, appeared to die Friday night. The death was sudden and unexpected, and saddened me deeply. All efforts were made to keep it alive, including last-ditch measures like wiping the hard drive clean. But efforts were fruitless and at approximately 7:30 PM Friday, 4/22, my laptop passed into the great digital unknown.

During a routine inspection of the corpse performed at 10 AM Saturday the 23rd, it was revealed that the patient had not died but had slipped into a sort of coma. The machine showed evidence of autonomic function but no higher-level processing, but the hope was that the condition was temporary. The patient's condition was upgraded to "alive."

At approximately 4 P.M. Saturday the 23rd, the laptop returned fully conscious to the world of the living. Unfortunately it appears the subject suffered complete memory loss; this situation is now being treated with internet therapy. Immediate concerns include eliminating the instinct to use "Internet Explorer" for outside communication in favor of "Fire-Fox" and providing "WinAmp" for musical expression.

The resurrection of laptop seems something of a miracle. I was already well on my way to worshiping the God of Silicon Chips, and this has pushed me all the closer.

Our Blogger, who art in Internet,
hallowed be thy URL.
Thy Comments come,
thy posts be done,
on Mainstream Media as it is in Internets
Give us this day our RSS feed.
And forgive us our comment spam,
as we blacklist those who spam against us.
And lead us not into anonymous comments,
but link us from Fark.
For thine is the Web, the Java and the Google.
For ever and ever.
Amen.

Woah

Holy moly. A simple fax to Hyperion and I am now the proud holder of an advanced reading copy of The Washingtonienne. How cool is that?

As of now I have begun reading the new Ruth Reichl, a second reading of a book on Papal elections, a cheap copy of The Decameron I picked up this weekend, the awesomely cheesy chronicles of Green Lantern and Green Arrow saving America, and a trashy first novel about a famous former DC... erm... "staffer." Three guesses as to which I crack open when I get home tonight.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Love Angel Music Baby

You know a meal turns out well when your roommates comment on how good the kitchen smells an hour after you've finished. And the roommates were right; an hour after plating an improvised dish of lamb with a tomato based sauce, the kitchen was still fragrant with the aromas of dinner.

This was my first try at preparing a lamb dish. Somehow I'd ignored the meat in favor of pork and beef for the last, umm, five years of cooking. But no longer! Last night's dinner was delicious.

Three thick lambchops were marinaded in a mixture of EVOO, rosemary, garlic, and a bit of salt overnight. Yesterday I removed the chops and broiled them for 6 minutes on each side, then roasted them at 350 for about 8 minutes to finish. The chops were very thick -- about an inch and a half, to be exact -- and this took them to a perfect medium rare.

The sauce for the lamb, as stated earlier, was tomato based. I diced half a large yellow onion and three cloves of garlic and sautéed them in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes, just until translucent. I then dropped in a jar of canned/peeled tomatoes, a few dashes of salt, red pepper, black pepper, and worcestershire sauce. After bringing the mix to a soft boil, I reduced the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. At the very last moment I added a jar of artichoke hearts sans the oil and let the mix simmer a little longer.

Plating this dish was simple: place sauce on plate, place chop on sauce, place small amount of sauce on chop and eat. The meat ended up very tender (I used a butter knife to cut it) and the sauce a tasty compliment to the sweetness of the rosemary. Were I dining with a companion I would have popped open one of the bottles of Aussie Shiraz I have gathering dust; instead, I washed the meal down with an Amstel Light and a trashy movie I happened across on Showtime.

Lessons learned from this dinner: lamb is delicious and not difficult to prepare, and making tomato sauce from scratch is also easy. From now on I think I'll try to make all of my pasta sauces instead of falling back to the jar. I think a good puttanesca is next. After all, its a sauce for the hoes, and I do love them hoes.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cop That

A couple days ago on the way to the gym I heard the new Missy Elliott single "Lose Control" on the People's Station. It sampled a song that I knew very well and I couldn't put my finger on it. Oh, and when I say sample I mean "used the other song's hook unchanged as the hook again." This morning on the way to work it hit me... it was the hook from "Music Make You Lose Control," the second track off of Les Rythmes Digitales' "Darkdancer" -- one of my favorite albums from 1999.

Now I don't really mind or even care about sampling; reworking songs in novel ways is in my mind a completely legit expression of artistic creativity. And Jacques Lu Cont of LRD is fairly well known in producer circles, providing remixes for Madonna and Daft Punk (to name just a few). But the problem I have is that Missy is so vocally against all things bootleg, and has always used either no samples or semi-obscure samples in her work (Double Dutch Bus comes to mind). And here she is penning what sounds like a song created by the bootie scene and its rampant genre hopping. What gives? Oh, and what bothers me even more is that the rap message boards are touting how hot the single is (okay, that's kind of true) and how the hook is so novel (!!!). The source of the sample came out six years ago, far closer than the funk and soul samples Missy and her team traditionally uses. This is probably just snobby criticism on my part, but couldn't she come up with source material a little more interesting? What's next, ripping the hook off of "Rendez Vu"?

Dear Eminem, remember when you said "nobody listens to techno"? Care to retract?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Street Food Reimagined

Last night I took another trip to Indique. Near starving, I thought an appetizer and an entrée were the way to go, so I ordered the Samosa Chaat (served in "the chef's style") and the Lamb Vindaloo. The lamb was good, if a little light on the spice. It came with the sort of rice I generally dislike as an accompaniment to complex curries, shot through with various aromatics and cashews. I like my curry with pure white rice or with naan. But overall it was a decent dish, if a little pedestrian. But the samosa...

Samosas in India are simple street foods, served piping hot, usually in newspaper with tamarind sauce. There are various ways of fancy-ing it up, such as adding a cilantro sauce or, you know, serving them on a plate. But basically its junk food, served as an accompaniment to tea or eaten as a quick snack. Oddly, I only found myself liking them (more specifically, the Bengali version, shingara) in the last few years. The last time I was in India I jumped at most opportunities to eat them. Okay, so I jumped at the opportunity to eat any street food, but you get the idea. The samosa is probably one of the easier Indian snacks on the Western palate... but as fas as innovation goes, well, there isn't much going on. The samosa at Indique had been recommended by a friend as a different view on what a samosa could be. No further description was given to me but the recommendation was taken seriously, as it was given to me by an Indique regular and a foodie in her own right.

What came out of the kitchen after ordering the dish was not the standard plate of two-three puffy bread triangles you expect from a bog-standard Indian joint... instead, it was as if one single large samosa had erupted, volcano like, spilling its contents down its walls. And the contents were far from the standard spiced potatoes/peas/chickpeas variety. Sauces of tamarind and yogurt coated a mixture of cilantro, curried chickpeas, and spicy potatoes giving the appetizer a weird sort of synergy where each bite was different but complimentary. It felt "deconstructed," to use that oh-so-popular term hitting culinary circles these days -- but deconstructed in the best possible way. Every single bite was worth it (and there were many). Did I mention when I was eating it I was starving? Well, those who know me know I don't have a particularly small appetite. But after the samosa I could barely get through half of my vindaloo, saving the rest for a later date.

My impressions of Indique after two trips are that the appetizers/small plates are serious winners. I haven't delved into the entrées, but with small plates this good I don't know if I will. I am certain I'll go back for the samosa, and after eating that I doubt I'll have room for anything more. Maybe I should just order two of those. Seriously, it would be worth it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What a Letdown

So the odds on favorite was chosen, and chosen quickly. The choice of name isn't a bad one, but overall this doesn't feel like the best choice for the Church's leader. But he is 78 and more likely a transitional Pontiff than one who'll reign 26 years. I wonder what the text of his first greeting is... come on CNN, translate already.

Monday, April 18, 2005

ODiouS

Did anyone catch the super-informative comparison of Maryland and Virginia in yesterday's Metro section on Maryland politics vs. Virginia? First, I have to take issue with Maryland Senate President Miller: using terms like "Mommy" and "Daddy" to compare two states' relative political climates isn't the most eloquent diction. After all, this isn't the Sunday Source. But Virginia House Majority Leader Griffith: how exactly is Virginia progressive? And I had no idea that socialism was on the march south on I-95. Then again, it's probably been stuck in mixing bowl traffic -- clever move on slowing the coming of your socialist overlords, Old Dominion State.

But here's my main issue: the Post breaks new ground in exposing the differences between a red state and a blue state. Guess what! They are dramatically different in terms of policy. Virginia "see[s] people as being able to take care of themselves" -- as long as you're not gay, I guess. Oh, and though Gun Control lobbyists have it easy in Maryland, in Virginia "Each year, the legislature comes within a few votes of allowing guns in bars." But the Christian lobbies have a hard time in Maryland: "Abortion restrictions are defeated; a gay rights bill is passed; a gambling measure nearly succeeds; and a ban on explicit videos dies in committee." I believe this piece was penned by Captain Obvious himself.

Let's be honest. Comparing Maryland to Virginia isn't apples to apples. Its more apples to the rotting remains of a partially eaten cantaloupe, dotted with horseflies, sitting in the middle of a parking lot on the hottest day of the year.

Chirp Chirp

Capitol Hill Poultry in Eastern Market sells whole organic chickens at $2.99 a pound; not the cheapest bird in the world, but not too shabby for organic. The taste difference alone makes choosing the organic variety worth it, as I did Saturday. At a little over $9 total, I figured the consequent roast would last me at least four days. I brought the bird home and brined it overnight in a combination of water, finely minced garlic, kosher salt, olive oil, and white cooking wine.

Also purchased at the market were a bunch garlic chives and half a pound of unsalted butter. If you've read DCFüd's roast chicken tips, you probably know where this is going. My butter was of the simple variety, just chives, salt, black pepper, and a touch of lemon juice. And man is there a ton of the stuff left over. I'll be eating it for weeks. Not that that is a bad thing; I spread a bit on some really cheap bread and it tasted delicious. In fact, I could probably spread it on a shoe and make it edible. But I'm digressing...

After brining the chicken for around 24 hours, I shoved some healthy amounts of butter under the skin and roasted for a touch more than an hour. No stuffing the cavity, no coating the skin, nothing. The result was a perfect roast of chicken, lightly flavored from the brine but not overpoweringly salty like the last brined bird I prepared. The highlight of the roast was the skin, well browned and crispy like a good chicken skin should be. Don't eat the skin? You're really missing out -- it's sometimes the tastiest part.

There's other bird-related news this morning. First, the Nats pick for their mascot... another bird? Come on people. As the article notes, the Caps and the United already have eagle mascots, not to mention the orange birds just up 95. Nats: you had the insect world on lock! Bad decision. And naming it Screech? I'd drop a Saved by the Bell joke, but I already did so on a DCist comment thread. But that doesn't mean you won't be hearing more of them in the future...

Speaking of our feathered friends in the national pastime, I do believe my O's are off to a good start. Is it too soon to feel like I'm just getting my hopes up for no payoff? Still, its great to hear Steinbrenner put his own Evil Empire on blast.

DCeiver points to possibly the best dialogue ever made available via Blogger. It speaks for itself.

Does anyone want to put a bet on when we'll have a new pope? I call 10 AM Wednesday, eastern standard time.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Simple Message for Your Edification

I love beer.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Fashion and Foreign Policy

Kriston points to Robin Givhan's latest in today's Post Style section. These are the crucial issues I think need to be considered for such a high profile nomination. And I am utterly serious. Really, it's a matter of respect.

Two completely unrelated notes. I've been reading Waiter Rant all day. The anonymous author is a strong writer, and the horrors and joys of being a waiter are depicted pretty vividly. He's also apparently a former Catholic seminarian, so the confluence of writing about restaurants and an underlying spiritual sense (especially some social justice sentiments that float just beneath the surface) have completely sucked me in.

I just pulled out an old Moby album I haven't listened to in ages. This thing used to be my regular pre-Buzz listening: dancing around my dorm room with a beer and big pants, making my hair as vertical as possible, hyperly awaiting 10:30 so I could pile into a car that was most likely already stuffed to the brim... man, I've become so nostalgic for those days of late. Thank goodness Bluestate is tomorrow night, so I can get my dance on. Too bad I have no idea where I left my big pants.

Randomly Generated Title

So on the now-ridiculous Bloc Party thread someone used one of those super-clever essay generators to wax on about the band and its place in society. These sorts of utilities were made all the more amusing by the Sokal Hoax. Anyway, back in the day these bits of code and their utterly ridiculous pseudo-essay spawn had many of my more hard-science oriented friends deriding the world of theory. Being the consummate literary theory navelgazer, I'd try to defend the discipline: "No no, really, the atavism of subalternity must be rooted in the hegemonic discourse of class dominance! And really, that sentence does make sense!" or some other rot (yes, actually the sentence does make sense, sort of. It is much more difficult to come up with nonsense).

Well, my theorist friends, it looks like some clever students at MIT have provided a computer science equivalent, and it even comes with graphics! So if any of your relentlessly empirical friends make fun of your pursuit of the abstract, here's a funny (though certainly not adequate) retort. If any hard science geeks read this: ha ha!

Edited slightly because I am hungover and not writing well.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Remarkable Discovery

One significant problem college left me with (besides adulthood) is a serious soda addiction. Okay, addiction is too strong of a word. Affinity is more like it. But there was a time -- a tooth-rottingly stupid time -- when I drank 64 oz. of Cherry Coke a day. Thankfully those days are long behind me, but the delicious fizzy brown liquids are still attractive. On the weekends I rarely have any soda, but at work I have a can a day on average. For a long time the drink of choice was Diet Pepsi, vastly superior to Diet Coke and definitely the most passable of the diet sodas (diet=no calories, natch).

But there's a new kid on the block. A sale led me to purchase a twelve pack of the new Pepsi One, now made with Splenda. And remarkably, not only do the sweeteners in this new soda not cause liver failure/cancer/three eyed children/whatever, the soda tastes just like regular Coke, without the weird film sugary sodas leave on your teeth. I've only had two cans out of the case, but at this point I'm almost a full convert.

Pepsi One. Wow, I wouldn't have expected that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Dork Alert!

If you're amused by goofy comics that often have band names or stereotypes as punchlines, this comic might be of interest. And no, the URL does not send you to an indie rock version of Suicide Girls (it is totally safe for work). It's just a little thing drawn by the same guy that draws/writes Questionable Content, which I think is a nice webcomic as well. Make sure you read the archives; both this strip and this one made me chuckle. Oh, and the archives are short!

Still, it's no Spamusement.

Mainly About Japanese Food

This is my second try attempting to post this. Stupid Blogger.

Last night for an evening repast I stopped in at Spices in Cleveland Park. It was chilly and I was tired -- a good time for miso. I walked into a large and well lit space, painted bright yellow and humming with a nice ambient noise level. As usual, I took a spot at the bar, ordered a bowl of miso and pondered my dinner choices. The miso was good, and had the large pieces of seaweed some restaurants neglect to include.

Spices offers one of those "pan-Asian" menus that lumps the foods of East Asia (no obvious India or Burma here) together in one menu. Unlike many pan-Asian spots, the menu is not an exhausting read. After a few minutes of thinking, I decided to go the completely Japanese route, ordering two of the chef's specials and a maki roll. The specials were listed as seared toro and spicy crunchy toro, and I was told both were nigiri sushi. The maki I ordered was the crispy shrimp roll.

When the sushi chef offered up my plate I was surprised. Instead of the two nigiri pieces I was expecting, I had a six piece maki, a four piece maki (the latter the shrimp) and one piece of nigiri. A bite into six piece maki revealed it to be the spicy crunchy tuna, light on the spicy. It was very tasty; I'm still trying to figure out what the crunchy element was, but I think it was crushed fried tempura batter. The shrimp roll was better, four massive pieces each containing two bits of shrimp, a slice of avocado, a slice of cucumber, and some mayo. These were wrapped in seaweed and roe-encrusted rice. To give you a sense of the size: I could barely handle them with my chopsticks, and they didn't fit completely in the soy sauce dipping bowl. But they were delicious. In comparison, the seared toro was a disappointment. I normally enjoy the flavor of toro, but the searing took flavor away without adding in the smokiness I was hoping for. It was good, but not as good as the other two.

After my meal I realized I was ten pages from finishing my book. Not wanting to pause just to wait for the Metro, I did an atypical thing and ordered a pot of tea (great idea when you're suffering from insomnia and it's 9:15 PM). Luckily, the oolong I ordered was not overly strong and the mile walk home from Union Station drained me a bit.

Soup, a moderately sized sushi dinner, and tea cost me $25 at Spices with tax and tip. Not a bad price. At some point I'll return to try their non-Sushi dishes, which I've heard are also good (particularly the duck).

The weekly dining trips to Cleveland Park continue. Where to next? Yanni's, the mediocre Greek place? Alero, which I've heard no good things about? Bricks, which apparently is worse? Not sure. Odds are I'll go back to Indique and try my hand at writing a review for DCist. Unless others have Cleveland Park tips I'm missing. Have suggestions?

Scrambling

I woke up thinking it was Friday this morning. That's how long the week has already been. But plans are solidifying for what should be a good weekend.

Last night I had dinner at Spices and thoroughly enjoyed it. Will try to put something fuller up later, but right now real work (not even blogging, the real thing, natch) is calling. In the meantime, is it me or is the Glastonbury line up not as awesome as usual? MIA, Soulwax, 2 Many DJs, Royksopp, New Order, Kylie (!!!).... okay, never mind. Though I still contend its not good enough to spend the weekend with a bunch of gurning, dirty, smelly Brits. The field party thing is something I will probably never understand. Give me a warehouse any day of the week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Club Generic

Catherine and I collaborated on a long review of Avenue (we went to the soft opening Saturday night). We kind of brought some snark with us, but you know, spare the snark and spoil the (pick a noun, any noun).

We've got a department meeting in seven minutes that should be interesting. But what I really want to do is blog about things I didn't get to yesterday -- the food writing in the Post this Sunday. A review of Ruth Reichl's book and Phyllis Richman's article on cooking as a dying art (not to mention the controversial(ish) Pazo review). Hyperlinks and analysis to come, be patient!

Update: The DCist review of Avenue can be found here. Click away!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Droopy

What is it about nice weather that makes everyone go nutzoid? I swear, I haven't had a weekend this crazy active in years. What I'd really like is one of those super cheesy "Family Circus"-like images charting the weekend's movements. All major local transit options were used with the exception of bicycle -- foot, automobile, bus, metro, cab. And I believe that between 9 AM Saturday and 1 AM this morning I spent a sum total of 2 waking hours actually at my house.

Here's a tip to everyone: do not eat at RFD. Seriously. It might be an okay place for a beer, but when it comes to food that place sucks.

Oh dear, I'm exhausted. Must... stop... abusing... my... corporeal... self...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

And Don't Go Next Door Unless You Know

DC Avenue (oh so cleverly listed as "A Venue" on their door placard) kind of sucks.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The 15 Minute Roll Out

You know, I was so proud of myself. Went to the reception at Charlie Palmer and drank a bit, but not too much; walked a very circuitous path (intentionally) to Tunnis for only 2 beers, got home early and went to bed. Responsible behavior. And then... I woke up at 9:15. Because my stupid head didn't remember to set the alarm.

Miraculously, I made it in to the office at 9:45. This was done via a vital combination of speeding, casual Friday, and lack of lunch preparation. Single minded focus can accomplish many things.

Also: if anyone wants to provide a $200 donation to eat dine at Charlie Palmer Steak, please contact me. Generosity will be rewarded handsomely in almost any manner of your choosing.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Roll the Bones

Rushing about today multitasking, doing -ist and work stuff pretty much simultaneously. So little time to blog, many apologies. But for a recipe -- a vegetarian (ovolacto version) friendly recipe, no less -- why not check out Scott's awesome huevos rancheros? I'd add cilantro, but that's because I love cilantro.

Short notes:

How do people feel about last night's West Wing? My thoughts will be incorporated in a long "We Watch So You Don't Have To" on DCist today, but I'm curious how others felt.

Coming tomorrow, a look at the super-unaffordable Charlie Palmer Steak from a design and wine standpoint. I'm going there tonight for a reception. Don't know if that will be on DCist or here, but most likely it will be -isted.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Funk of 40,000 Years

Had a strange feeling leaving home this morning that I was forgetting something important. Duh! I'd left all my nice weather music at home. My cubicle is full of dark, blah weather music (predominantly). The Marshall Mathers Album, Blue Lines, Kid A, Interpol, Mogwai. Where's my Blackalicious, my ridiculous techno? Back home. All I have right now in terms of spring tunes are Ludacris' first album and Thriller, and the former is definitely more of a drive home trunk thumper than a spring in the cubicle album. Looks like Thriller it is.

And after listening to it twice in the last hour, I cannot deny that this is certainly one of the best albums of the 1980s, with ease. Classic! I think I'll just hit play again...

Unfortunately, Stetsons Doesn't Sell Sarsaparilla

Last night, sitting at the bar at Indique, an interesting (and slightly drunk) gentleman gave me a brief overview of his views on local politics.

"You see, I'm a Barry for Mayor guy. This town... this town was like a frontier town when I moved down here. That was in the mid-80's."

"Where did you move from?"

"Well, you know, south of New York City, north Jersey. Up there its all towns and I tell you, they all have like their own army and system of government. You can't get away with anything. Down here back then there weren't any rules and you could do anything you wanted. Now the city is tightening all up. It wasn't like that when Mayor Barry was in office. We need a few more towns where there aren't as many rules holding people back."


I'd have never associated the esteemed MB with the frontier, or mid-80's DC as a haven for pseudo-libertarians eager to escape the rules of organized society. But there you are, another point of view.

Oh, and the food at Indique was nice. I ate very lightly and walked out having spent less than $20. Planning another visit sometime soon, and will provide a better overview then.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Curry in a Hurry

Just kidding. This recipe actually took a fair amount of time given prep work. But it wasn't so bad. The "in a hurry" part was in reference to the ancillary stuff I was planning on writing, but since Blogger has been down for the bulk of the day, I'll skip to the recipe and evaluation.

2 1/2 cups turkey (dark meat preferred), cooked
1 medium onion, chopped
10 oz sour cream
1 small can chicken broth
Madras curry powder
Chili powder
Cumin

Sauté the onion in olive oil in a karahi or flat bottomed wok over medium heat until translucent. Throw in your turkey and chicken broth and add your spice mixture to taste. More curry flavor? More curry powder. More spicy? More chili powder. You can use about a million different spice combinations here: garam masala, tandoori masala, lemon juice, vindaloo paste, whatever. Have fun and experiment. Bring this mixture to a slow boil.

While doing all this, prepare your rice. For a nice flavor, I used the other half of the chicken broth in the place of some of the water. I've finally found the right timing and water combinations for preparing my favorite brand of rice (not Uncle Ben's), but these vary based on brand and heat. To perfect, I used trial and error. I'm sure there's a better way, but whatever you do, if you smell the rice charring remove from heat immediately. Burnt/charred rice can taste good at times, but not with a curry.

After your turkey mixture comes to a slow boil, reduce the heat and slowly stir in the sour cream. You can also use plain yogurt. With yogurt, I prefer organic for its thicker consistency and stronger flavor. Bring this mixture back to a very slow boil and serve immediately over the rice.

How did this experiment turn out? Well, it was pretty good. I didn't really do much research ahead of time and kind of plowed through. Chose not to set up a marinade because the meat was already cooked; if I were to cook something with raw meat like Scott's great recipe for lamb karahi, marinading the meat would be the way to go. I also think I could have sacrificed some of the initial liquid for a creamier flavor. But overall, a good way to use some leftovers.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Enter a Pope, Leave a Cardinal

Steve Waldman of Beliefnet fame wrote a piece for Slate two years ago on possibilities for the next Pope. Slate republished it recently and I think it's probably the best piece out on the interwebs about who the College of Cardinals is most likely to select as the next holy Father. However, the piece does leave out Ratzinger as a possibility, a name that's being bandied about left and right. I'd love to see Danneels, but don't realistically think that will happen. And Arrinze would be a big bag of problems, especially in terms of sexual ethics. Tettamanzi is looking more and more likely.

Better question: what is his papal name going to be? Tradition, I believe, dictates that he cannot be named Peter. Becca is cheering for Pope Lando II, while I'd be happy with Pope Hilarus II. More likely: Pius, Leo, or Gregory.

Referral Fun

Someone happened across this blog when searching for this string on Google.

My question: what is the motivation behind doing such a search? I'd think most people who patronize such businesses have their contact information easily available. Guess I'm wrong.

Also, why don't more people know how to use simple Boolean search operators? I guess that would take away the fun of finding out what strange searches lead people to this blog.

The Biggest Sports Entertainment Event of the Year

Yesterday was a tough one. Stupid Daylight Saving Time made my tutoring trip to Takoma Park an hour earlier than I would have preferred, and I wandered through my lesson barely coherent. A weekend of doing nothing exhausted me. Cripes.

But my relative tiredness did not dissuade me from going to Tom's house for Wrestlemania night. I love me some sports entertainment, especially when I'm sufficiently removed from current happenings that I can watch without really caring who wins. Though the wrestling itself was only okay, it was nice to reconnect with my adolescent self. I kind of miss the days of "marking out" for various ridiculous pseudo-sports.

Post wrasslin' I decided the Metro would be too tedious an exercise. Thus I made the roughly 527 block walk from O St. to the nearest D6 bus stop and sat waiting for said bus for about six hours (all numbers herein exagerrated significantly). Finally arrived home just after midnight and barely crawled out of bed this morning. Luckily, supervision in the office is light. I'm going to sleepwalk through today.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Il Papa, Il Mort

I've got close ties to the Catholic church, through my job. One of my authors is actually on CNN right now (Michael Walsh, Conclave). Working so closely with Catholics has made me keenly aware of the church and all of its eccentricities -- which I love.

Today was a weird day. I was on PopeWatch all day long. And now I have such a strange feeling. This was, of course, inevitable. Now comes the 9 day period of mourning. After that, the Conclave begins. That I'm really interested in. Who will it be? I still hold with Arrinze, though some are saying Tettamanzi. But there's a saying: "A fat Pope follows a skinny Pope"... so that means the next Pontiff will probably be elderly. Does it mean he'll be more moderate as well? Who knows.

The role of Pontiff is endlessly fascinating. One of the few autocephalic leaders of a religious tradition, and certainly the most influential. And a seat that has existed (in some form) for 2000 years. There are few who would doubt the power of the seat. And here we are, the first Conclave in my lifetime. A new Pope, one who may be very different from JPII. This is going to be interesting to watch.

Because of time considerations (I'd rather watch the news than blog about it) I won't go on and on about how I feel about this... but it is a sad day. Politically, I'm really on the fence about John Paul II. But let's take a moment to remember him. I disagreed with him, but I still believe he was a great man.

More on this crazy Catholic stuff later.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Fungus

You know those food preferences you had growing up? I wonder if there are two distinct types of people -- those who outgrow those preferences and those who are trapped in them. The latter group does try new things at times, but they have to be pressed hard. The former group react with surprise whenever they try something they didn't realize they liked. "That's what mushrooms taste like?"

I'm squarely in the former group, and the quote above is probably what went through my head the first time I ate mushrooms. Now I love that dirty fungus and its infinite variety. It's not a staple of my diet, but I enjoy falling back on them when I need to make a good meal quickly. Such was the case last night; going to the gym on an empty stomach was an awful idea, and when I just barely crawled into my kitchen the only main ingredients in play were a defrosted turkey leg and a massive portobello mushroom. I wasn't about to take the time to roast the turkey, so mushrooms it was. I scoured my fridge looking for other ingredients... bok choy, ginger, garlic, shallots, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil. Pulled out the Joy of Cooking, and found a good basic recipe I could play with. Perfect. I could make a meal.

1 large portobello mushroom, or 1 lb small shiitake or button mushrooms
2 medium sized heads bok choy
Ginger
3 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
Soy sauce
Oyster sauce

Clean the mushroom(s) well and place in a bowl; pour in 3/4 cup boiling water. Add a teaspoon of salt, if desired. This will make a mushroom stock, essential to the sauce. If you want a stronger mushroom flavor, use shiitake mushrooms; I used my portobello and added some salt.

While the mushroom is soaking, clean the bok choy and chop into 2-inch long segments. Set aside. Mince 1 tablespoon of ginger, the garlic, and the shallots. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over medium heat. While the oil is heating, mix 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, and 1/2 cup of the mushroom stock in a mixing bowl.

Drop the ginger, garlic, and shallots in the wok and sautée until the garlic is slightly golden and the shallots are tender, about three minutes. While the spices sauté, prep the mushroom. Smaller ones will only need to be removed from the water, while you probably want to slice the portobello into smaller pieces. If using a portobello, the easiest way to slice it is to remove the stalk and slice it separately. It won't be as attractive, but it will be much easier.

When the spice mixture is cooked well, throw in the bok choy and the mushrooms. Combine well, and after a minute or so add your sauce. The sauce should, at this point, have a thinner consistency. Increase heat slightly and bring the mixture to a very low boil. Let the mix boil for about one minute and remove the mushrooms and bok choy with a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat and slowly -- very slowly, you don't want clumps -- add in some flour or corn starch, stirring constantly until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Pour the completed sauce over the finished mushrooms and cabbage. If desired, serve over white/brown rice.

Though I really enjoyed this meal, I have to say it played havok with me last night when trying to sleep. I added some personal elements to my preparation -- hot sesame oil, red chili flakes, that kind of thing -- that made the dish significantly spicier. As a result I tossed and turned all night, and when I finally fell asleep I swear I had the most vivid dreams, some of them actually lucid. Strange.

In any case, try this recipe or your own variation of it. My favorite part was making the mushroom stock, which could serve as a great base for a soup... something to ponder, maybe with scallions and tofu?