Thursday, December 11, 2008

At home, on hold

I've written six hundred posts before this one, but I'm still unsure why it's taking me this long to write 601. Maybe because it's been a long while since I've done it. Perhaps it's because I've spent the past four months in three states, working on three congressional campaigns, one senate campaign, and not checking out a single food blog along the way. Perhaps it's because as it pertains to this blog, at this moment, I simply have nothing to say.

That's not to say that I no longer have an interest in food, but that it's no longer my primary interest, and I don't feel comfortable writing about food in a city that I haven't stepped foot in for four months.

Sure, I've had some interesting culinary experiences on the road. From the wonderful Indian restaurant in Port St. Lucie and real home cooking in the berbs of Atlanta, to ham sandwiches in Oklahoma and my new all-time favorite restaurant tucked away in a mall in Shreveport, I've been to and eaten at a lot of places I never thought I'd have the chance to go.

I don't know when I'm coming back to Washington, and at this moment I'm looking for campaign work in either Virginia or New Jersey, so if you know someone who has a guy who knows a guy, shoot me an email.

In the meantime, if anyone actually finds their way to this site again, keep reading the blogs on the right. I can't say that I don't miss writing. I miss the restaurants, I miss the people, and damn do I miss the food. But sometimes you've got to move on; because you never know when you'll get another chance to be part of a national scandal in Florida, to work for a convicted felon, or to blow a hundred dollars in five minutes at a blackjack table in Louisiana.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seasonal Produce

The fruit and vegetables that we eat are planted, grown and harvested over the course of a cycle. The portion of time in which they're ripe and best ready to eat is considered their "season".

I am not a fruit, or a vegetable, but I too belong to a class of those who are picked during a season - the political junkie. No, I'm not just the guy who watches The Situation Room every night, I'm the guy who went to grad school for campaign management, and now I'm the guy who is leaving Washington DC to work on a congressional campaign.

It's been a strange 24 hours since I heard from my new boss that I got a job as a Field Organizer in Florida's 16th Congressional District, but since I'm leaving Friday morning for the Sunshine State, and I'd prefer that my not so unique brand of snark and sarcasm not be around for any prying GOP opposition researchers to find, I'll be temporarily shutting this blog down sometime this weekend - so if you come and visit, and it says you need a password, you really don't, it's because there won't be anything to read until after Election Day.

I want to thank my friends and readers for being so good to me over the past year and a half. I started this blog out as something just for Apples and I, but now people actually read it, and I couldn't be more humbled by that.

I will miss writing for you, I will miss obsessing over the latest trend or which chef is going where, and I will miss all of you who have given my ego that quite unneeded boost over the past months.

I'll be back, better than ever; but in the meantime, if you'll excuse me, we've got a race to win.

Beach Bums and Bacon Ice Cream: Rehoboth Beach Part 2

Whoever designed Rehoboth Beach must have gotten their start designing medieval defensive fortifications; of this I'm positive.

Rehoboth Ave. funnels visitors directly to the boardwalk, and like a team of well trained archers high upon the keep, restaurants and shops a like methodically mow down the invading hoards with slices of pizza, fudge and candy by the ton, and novelty t-shirts.

Except for Sunday, it was raining. This wasn't just rain, this was - let's go out and get an ax for arc building purposes - rain. So after seeking shelter in a little novelty store on the boardwalk and eating our weight in fudge, I decided that the best way to ride out the storm was to find a restaurant and get a drink.

We ended up at Mariachi Restaurant, a charming little Mexican restaurant with subpar service, decent food, and a Margarita with enough booze in it to kill a small animal. In retrospect, this was probably the only place I'd take a Mulligan on - it wasn't bad, but there are so many other places along Rehoboth Ave., I'd probably wait until I got back home again for average Mexican food.

Somewhere between the chips and the booze the rain stopped, and we got brave enough to take our towels out of the car and find a spot on the beach - where we napped, heavily.

Getting up in time for dinner I wanted to take one of your recommendations, so remembering what a commenter named "Jimmy" wrote, we made our way down to Nicola Pizza just off the main strip.

Like a Pizza Hut if Pizza Hut were, you know, good, Nicola Pizza draws locals and tourists alike - or basically anyone who has kids. Its easy to see why your standard party size is of six or more people - good looking pizzas, fast and friendly service, great prices. But as recommended, I decided to get the Nic-o-boli, a variation of the stromboli, or basically a wonderful concoction of dough, tomato sauce, meat and cheese.

Surprisingly light and not very greasy, I was able to eat the whole thing without a problem, and with the assistance of several gallons of birch beer - the king of all sodas.

Apples also got a variation of the Nic-o-boli, this one with mushrooms, and a couple other kinds of veggies. In all, it was quite tasty, and if I were to spend more than a day at Rehoboth again, I'd find it awfully hard to fight the temptation to make a return trip.

Running (or walking rather slowly) our way through the gauntlet of beach food, we weren't quite satisfied without at least some ice cream in our system. While I contemplated your traditional custard in a cone, the utter simplicity (oh I'm so punny) of a shop called "The Ice Cream Store" just seemed to make sense.

Pretty much right on the corner of the boardwalk and Rehoboth Ave., The Ice Cream store has over seventy flavors, a decent portion of them are special to the store, and it seemed that all were store made.

The selection is overwhelming to say the least, but with Apples craving a mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundae (she's been talking about this for weeks) and me craving something strange, we dove in, and were reminded why we love ice cream.

At its best ice cream is complex, playful, and the kind of treat that just brings you back to a better time. The Ice Cream Store does this, but it does it with a sense of humor, and better than almost any I've ever had. Looking for a reason to have ice cream for breakfast? Try their bacon ice cream (which would be amazing on a waffle with maple syrup) which beautifully balances the sweet of the cream and the salty savoryness of the bacon.

Looking for something season and strange? Try their sweet corn ice cream - yes I know, it's corn, and there are actual bits of corn in it, but good gracious this is good stuff - like a chilled orgy of summer scooped up and placed into a cone, I got it with some African vanilla to mild the corn flavor, but next time I might get it with some bacon, or hamburger flavor if they have it.

Apples of course got her sundae, which was terrific and a half, and was consumed with the vigor of an entire kindergarten class devouring a cookie factory.

The rest of our trip was fairly ordinary - if by ordinary I mean we ended up spending the night at Apples' parents house in Northeast Maryland because we couldn't get across the Bay Bridge in under five hours, and we got back home around ten the next morning.

It is often said that it's the journey, not the destination that really makes a trip; Rehoboth Beach lets you have both. It may not be the most exciting place on the face of the planet, but I could probably live there for a year and never eat at the same place twice, and be perfectly happy doing it. So pack up the car, come hungry, and bring lots of cash, because you're driving away satisfied.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tragedy, thunderstorms, and the best chicken ever consumed: Rehoboth Beach Part 1

I don't remember going to the beach when I was a little kid; which is strange considering I'm from Miami.

When I got to high school however, I tried my best to make up for lost time, spending a decent amount of weekend nights (and skipped school days) on South Beach - the closest beach to our house. But when South Beach is your neighborhood beach, your idea of going to the beach is slightly warped, and culture shock settles in when you realize that "the beach" (or the shore, depending on where you're from) isn't about drinking your way through the day or keeping count of the number of topless women running around.

For most, the beach is about time with friends and family, cruising the boardwalk, eating fatty food and digging a large hole in the sand - all activities pretty much mandated in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

One does not get from Arlington, VA to Rehoboth in the blink of an eye, no, we had a three hour drive, and a lot of twists and turns ahead of us.

Once you get past DC, there's not a whole lot aside from Annapolis, a shit load of corn fields, and an awfully large body of water between you and the Atlantic. While we quietly passed Annapolis by, and the corn fields didn't offer us up much trouble, it was a tragedy on the Bay Bridge that put us in bumper to bumper traffic Sunday morning, and scrambling to find shelter Sunday night (more on that later).

Beyond the Bay Bridge the drive to Rehoboth is remarkable in an unremarkable kind of way. There's a whole lot of nothing out here - real country nothing that reminds you that there is life outside of the city, and begs the question, "Can you imagine living out here?".

Far away from the hottest new French bistro or wine bar, you can't help get a sense that the people out here respect food on a whole different level than we do here in the city - probably mostly because they grow it. Especially when you get into Delaware, you'll see roadside stands with all kind of produce, from tomatoes to "lopes", why go to a farmers market when you've got a farm?

Like most ventures the memories are truly made during the journey, and in a sea of fresh produce, a sign called out to us like a beacon calling us home: Kiwanis Chicken BBQ. Now we had seen one of these signs when we first entered Delaware, but the BBQ was on the other side of the road, and with Apples driving, there's almost no stopping her. Luckily however the Kiwanians of Georgetown, DE decided to set up shop on the Eastbound side of the road, complete with a sign indicating that the chicken was ready; so looking for a late breakfast/early lunch, we pulled in and took our chances.

We were probably the first customers of the day, and it was clear that we were from out of town. Pulling up in a convertible Mini Cooper, we must have looked like a couple of rich kids from the city who had nothing in common with the four guys manning the big open pit grill, most of whom were shirtless, and the girl working the register (it actually couldn't have been further from the truth - Apples and I both being from the country and my family having been involved in Kiwanis for three generations).

The menu was simple: you could either get a half chicken, or the chicken platter, which came with a roll, a bag of Herrs potato chips, and pickle slices. That's it. No hamburgers, no hot dogs, just one thing, done amazingly well.

I don't know how to describe this chicken in a way that sounds half way reasonable. I'm not a fan of absolutes; I don't like declaring anything the best, the most, the least. But this was the best chicken I've ever had. Now, if I would have ordered this at a restaurant, and had it served to me by a waiter, would I feel the same way? Probably not. But sitting on a picnic table somewhere near Georgetown, Delaware, eating a piece of chicken that came right off the grill, that was seasoned perfectly - just the right amount of salt, pepper, spice and char - and was perfectly moist, you can't get much better than that.

Food is best when it connects us to something bigger than ourselves, when it speaks for the people who made it, and when allows two yuppies from the city to enjoy something so basic and simple, it would be seen as a novelty here in Washington. We ate a lot during this trip, but this is the one place I would insist on visiting again, if only to allow a molecule or two of smoke from the grill to pass into my nose and live forever in a studio apartment in my lungs.

As we got back out onto the road, all wasn't chicken and pickles. The sky was starting to darken, and we had to pull over to put the roof up. We pulled into Rehoboth Beach just as it started to rain, and just like that, it looked like our time at the beach was over even before it began.

To be continued...

Openings and Closings

Well, I'm back after a crazy weekend that somehow extended into Monday, but before I get to that, here's a little business to attend to:

I'll start off with the good news; I've got two new openings to announce, one being a second location for Agraria, the Georgetown Harbour restaurant that focuses on locally grown seasonal ingredients. I don't know exactly where the restaurant will be, but according to, it'll be somewhere downtown and open on September 8th.

Also in the downtownish portion of the city, Current, which will be taking the space formerly held by Dragonfly, will be opening Thursday, August 14th with an invite only event.

But now to the bad news, it looks like M'Dawg, the Adams Morgan hot dog joint formerly owned by the folks over at Amsterdam Falafel, has closed. The quality of this late night favorite has gone downhill significantly since the Amsterdam owners left, and it'll be interesting to see what takes the place of this prime location.

In the meantime, word on the street is that Adams Morgan will be getting a frozen yogurt place of its own, so once I have further details on that, I'll be sure to share them with you.