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.

Friday, August 8, 2008

We're going to the beach...and we need your help.

This will probably be the last post until Monday, because Apples and I are headed to Rehoboth Beach, DE for the weekend.

So this is where I turn to you for advice; is there a restaurant that we shouldn't miss? Some beach specialty that I can't come home without? Are there places to avoid?

Please, leave comments with suggestions, and I'll report back with results on Monday. Until then, have a great weekend everyone!

Samantha Brown Does DC

I've got to admit, I was a skeptic. I honestly didn't think this bubbly little blond would be able to pull off a decent show about our city.

But man was I wrong. I actually really enjoyed Samantha Brown's jaunt through our fair city.

Yes, everyone does Ben's - but if I wasn't from Washington DC, and I knew nothing about it, Ben's is exactly the kind of place I'd want to see - the kind of place that really defines this city (as opposed to the politicians and tourists).

So what did you think about it? Do you think she did a good job, or missed the point?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Go for the Gold with Olympic Specials Tomorrow

Looking for a way to celebrate the beginning of the Summer Olympics tomorrow? Well you don't have to scramble to buy that last minute ticket to China, you can stay right here in town and celebrate with some great meals.

In Shirlington, Ping by Charlie Chiang will be featuring eight entrees for $8.00 for eight hours. But don't worry if you can't make it tomorrow, during the entire games, Ping will be offering a "Summer Olympic ‘Pentathlon’ Prix-Fixe Menu consisting of an amuse bouche, appetizer, soup, entrée and dessert for $28.88 per person.

If you're looking for something downtown, look no further than The Source, Wolfgang Puck's Washington contribution, where Executive Chef Scott Drewno will be serving up a three course menu for $35 that includes dishes such as, "Roasted Duck with scallion wraps and Mandarin Orange reduction, Hot and Sour Soup with jumbo lump crab and pork tenderloin, and Kung Pao prawns with a spicy garlic-chili sauce and toasted peanuts."

If you know of any other specials going on during the Olympics, let me know so I can post them. Until then, let the games begin!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

First Look: Bob's 88 Shabu Shabu


There was absolute silence. Actually, there probably wasn't. With kids jumping around and pots and chopsticks clanging together like some sort of delicious culinary chorus, the air was as heavy with noise as it was with the smell of broth and beef. But I couldn't hear any of it, I was too focused on the task at hand.

Shabu Shabu, though a funny sounding name, is very serious eating. Originally from Japan, the Chinese have embraced this way of eating - taking raw meat/seafood, cooking it in boiling broth, and then using that broth with noodles to make a soup - and have seen this incarnation pop up in hot spots ranging from Hong Kong to New York.

Apples and I visited Bob's 88 Shabu Shabu this past weekend in Rockville, a humble house of culinary delights in sea of flashy lights and chain restaurants. Once we settled in and made our way through the menu, we both decided to get separate protein options - she got the seafood and beef, and I got the lamb and pork - and we split to appetizers, steamed buns and garlic cucumber.

The service is incredibly fast and properly impersonal - you're not here to make friends with these people, you just want your food, ASAP.

The first thing you'll get, and these come out pretty much right away, are the pots filled with broth. I'm fairly sure it's either a chicken or fish based broth, but either way it's fairly light and serves its purpose. Shortly after, your actual food comes out. You'll get two plates, one with your protein - I got a large amount of raw lamb and pork rolled up into manageable pieces, where Apples got a fantastic variety of seafood, from head-on shrimp, to oysters, scallops, and a big hunk of white fish.

Along with the meats and seafood, you'll get a big plate of veggies, including what I believe was some sort of spinach, cabbage, mushrooms, noodles, and an egg - the last two being very critical for the last portion of the meal.

Once everything is set down before you, the process is pretty much pure primal instinct: put the meat in the boiling broth, let it cook, add vegetables, and then eat.

Along with what you have brought to your table, you also have the option of visiting their sauce cart, which is basically the salad bar dressing equivalent, where you can load up on chili sauces and fish sauces and soy sauces, and well...pretty much anything else you can turn into a sauce.

Now if this seems like a lot of food, it was. But think of it more like a four course meal than just one big dinner (in include dessert in that, which I'll get to later).

The appetizers which came out first were fantastic. The cucumbers were nicely crisp and properly garlicy, and the buns were full of juicy porky goodness.

All of the meat was about as tender as you'd expect - the real trick being to cook it just long enough to be safe, but not to over do it - less than a half minute in the broth will do. The seafood and vegetables were also about what you'd expect (assuming your expectations are fairly high) - fresh and flavorful.

My favorite part of the meal was once all the meat was gone, when I could add my noodles in and make myself a couple bowls of soup. Add in some spicy chili oil and sweet chili sauce for a great contrast in flavors that blends well with the broth that's somehow absorbed everything you just ate, and poach the raw egg you're given for a little texture and sweetness - this may be my new favorite soup (sorry Pho).

After you're finished with all of that, you can't pass up on dessert, especially shaved ice covered in coconut milk and fruit. We decided on lychee, mango, and taro. I haven't had lychee since I lived in Florida, and taro - a root vegetable, provides a pleasantly dull hearty flavor to a very light dish.

It's hard to sum up Bob's 88 in a single post, and honestly, words can't do the experience justice. It's interactive, interesting, and simply incredible. With so much amazing food in front of you, it's easy to lose track of the families having fun and the whirl of activity around you; but all you'll hear is silence, silence and slurping, as you work your way through one of the best meals you've had in a long time.

Food Day: Back to Basics Edition

Happy Food Day everyone, here's what's going on in the world of food today:

Living Local: I remember always being confused growing up when I'd go to the grocery store and see tomatoes from Mexico and Avocados from California - why transport them from thousands of miles away when we lived next to an Avocado grove and down the street from a tomato farm? Well it looks like big grocery stores, and even Wal-Mart, are embracing local produce - this NY Times article has the details.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Time!: Every morning I get up and make myself a PB&J sandwich, and usually I have another before I go for a run in the evening - but evidently my love for the PB&J isn't as unusual as I thought. According to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, we Americans love our PB&J, and eat an estimated 10 BILLION sandwiches a year!

Blast from the past: Remember the days when people used to eat real food? Well those days are here again, and according to this Washington Post article, eating real food may be better than any diet.

It's not the cut, it's how you cut it: Looking to do a little grilling this weekend? Well according to this Arizona Republic article, you don't have to pay ridiculous prices for fancy cuts to get a good steak.

It's a big country: Much of the world's attention will turn to China over the next couple weeks, this Denver Post article shows us that "Chinese Food" isn't just what you find in your mall food court.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Go @&%# Yourself Ruby Tuesday

Well it seems that Ruby Tuesday is to PR as what, well...Ruby Tuesday is to food - the embodiment of everything wrong and unholy.

Thanks to the good folks at Capital Spice for bringing this to my attention, as I was too busy watching Army of Darkness to actually watch this PR disaster.

You see, instead of blowing up their last "old Ruby Tuesdays", they just blew up some fake restaurant and released this letter:

Good job Ruby Tuesday, you had us, but then you lost us by trying too hard to be cute and clever.

Oh who am I kidding, it's not like I was ever going to go back anyway.

It's the most important meal of the day

But according to this ABC report, breakfast isn't exactly what it used to be, and now breakfast icons Denny's and IHOP are fighting back against their fast food rivals.

Introducing "more portable products, offering to-go and curbside pickup programs and remodeling their locations", Denny's and IHOP are hoping to cut their loses and regain what was once their sizable share of the breakfast market.

For me, growing up, Denny's was my favorite of the bunch, probably because there were two within close driving distance to where I lived (there was actually a place called Wags Restaurant that had a cute little raccoon as their mascot that I really loved, after that closed it became a Todd's - which was essentially the same restaurant, and then an empty lot for years), yet oddly I rarely got breakfast there - it was mainly a dinner/after school hangout kind of place.

So my loyal reader(s), do you think restaurants like Denny's and IHOP have a chance against the golden arches? Will you buy into their new schemes to get you into their booths early in the morning?

What I'm Reading: Salty Girl Cooks

I normally wait until Monday's Weekly Website to do this, but why wait when you've got a blog this good to show off?

Salty Girl Cooks is a blog for the manic eating and recipe freak and the food porn lover in all of us.

Filled with great vegetarian recipes and beautiful pictures, I hope you add this blog to your daily reading list too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My dream comes true

Well, almost. I've always wanted to take part in the destruction of a Ruby Tuesday; the tacky crap on the walls, the subpar, uninspired, mystery food that's always just a few dollars more expensive than it should be. But it looks like the fine folks at corporate are going to beat me to it, all in the name of pure promotion.

According to their website, the last "old Ruby Tuesday" will be destroyed tomorrow at 3pm - a sign that Ruby Tuesday has moved in a new direction.

So what does that mean? Ruby Tuesday's website states:

After more than 36 years of being one of America's favorite casual-dining brands, we came to the conclusion that when you went out to eat, there was too much sameness and not enough quality. So we decided to make a better, fresher Ruby Tuesday, a familiar, comfortable place but one that is more in step with who you are today. Ours is a brand built on quality, with passion and pride in serving you food made from the freshest and highest-quality ingredients and with gracious hospitality in a place with a fresh new look and feel.

Some of those changes include, "fresh, never frozen chicken and beef", "seasonal vine-ripened tomatoes", "artisan cheeses", and "Going Green to make our world a better place".

Think about it - fresh meat, seasonal produce, artisan cheese, eco-friendly environments - is this Ruby Tuesday or Chez Panisse? Who would have thought that the home of the menu that's long on words and calories, but short on flavor and innovation would go

But I guess the real question is: are all of these things still progressive? Or are they so mainstream that Ruby Tuesday can offer artisan cheese (or at least what they're marketing as artisan - whatever the hell that means) and no one thinks twice about it?

I guess when it comes down to it, a dream of mine has come true - and I didn't even have to blow anything up. Looking at the menu, there are actually some items I'd get, and this nationwide chain is making some major steps to improve its product.

I can't say that I'll be visiting my local Ruby Tuesdays any time soon - not with so many other amazing options in this wonderful food city of ours - but the next time I'm out of town, and at a loss for anything else, you'll know where to find me.

Travel Channel's Samantha Brown's Special on DC to air Thursday at 10pm

I've never seen Samantha Brown's Passport to Great Weekends on the Travel Channel, but I'll be watching this Saturday as she reports on what you can do to make a great weekend right here in DC.

So what hot spots will she be hitting up? Well, according to the website, she'll be visiting the following places:

1. Hudson for a Cocktail
2. Jack's Boat House to go kayaking
3. Ethiopian food at Etete
4. Poetry and Coffee at Busboys and Poets
5. Anything at Ben's Chili Bowl

Also, if you watch the commercials, she clearly goes to Perry's for drag queen brunch. I've got to give it to her (or most likely, her producers), she actually picked some decent places - though I have one quasi-issue: Ben's.

I love Ben's. Don't get me wrong, I actually think nothing (aside from Eastern Market) encapsulates the real Washington DC like Ben's, but every travel show on our fair city doesn't need to go to Ben's. There is more here, and it's ok to cover it - visit 2 Amy's on a Sunday morning, or Amsterdam Falafel/Jumbo Slice late on a Saturday night, or maybe even a little Steak and Egg somewhere in between.

So what do you think? Do you approve of this list? What's she missing? What would your five places be?

They call them "Big Kids" meals for a reason

Straight from the department of "I could have saved you a lot of money and just told you that", a study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest states that "Nearly every possible combination of the children's meals at Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chick-fil-A are too high in calories", according to this Washington Post article.

Really now? You mean that a double cheeseburger and fries with a chocolate milk - the elements of Burger King's "Big Kids" Meal - are high in calories? Or what about grilled cheese, fries and a slushie - the contents of a Sonic "Wacky Pack" - you mean that's bad for you?

Of course, the National Restaurant Association fired back by saying the report "fails to acknowledge the essential role of nutrition education, physical activity and parental responsibility in childhood nutrition - good eating habits and healthy living must be established in the home."

You know, they're absolutely right. Good eating habits and healthy living must be established in the home - with parents not bringing their kids to these restaurants in the first place.

Weekly Website: Extra Snarky Edition

This week's Weekly Website doesn't just bring you one website...oh no, you've got three great blogs to check out as you count down the minutes to five o'clock today, so here you go:

Magniferous: There are some blogs you start reading, and can't stop until you've read about a month's worth of material. This isn't a straight up food blog, but that's a good thing, because you'll also find some absolutely hilarious commentary.

Dudes on Foods
: Covering both NYC and Washington DC, Dudes on Foods has a ton of great news, reviews, and other great food related content. If you want to know what's going on between here and "the city", this is a great blog to read.

Restaurant Refugee: So many food blogs are written by people like me, normal people with an abnormal interest in food. But Restaurant Refugee gives you an insiders take on the industry - lots of great commentary and stories, good read overall.

As always, you can find all of these sites on the right hand side of the page. If you have any sites you'd like to see added (your own included), just leave me a comment and let me know.

British Gastropub, CommonWealth, to open August 6th

The coolest neighborhood in DC is about to get a little cooler with the opening of CommonWealth, Chef Jamie Leeds' (of Hank's Oyster Bar) British style Gastropub in Columbia Heights.

With lunch and brunch scheduled to start later in the month, Leeds hopes to "transport guests to a lively, urban pub scene reminiscent of those found in London." While the beer list here is impressive, the food is the true highlight. From pub favorites like fish and chips, pot pies, and bangers and mash to more Americanized grub like a grass-fed burger and roast chicken.

Sunday evenings you'll find the "Sunday Roast", which features "a selection of roasted meat for the table served family style, paired with sides, such as leg of lamb, rabbit, pork, turkey, chicken-whatever is market fresh and available from local farmers", and will be around $20 per person.

In the spirit of the times, you'll see a very strong nod to local farmers, ensuring the top quality of the ingredients you'll be eating.

And of course the food isn't the only thing eco-friendly, Leeds worked hard "incorporating vintage wood paneling salvaged from barns, “tube” tile reminiscent of the London subways, concrete block walls, stained concrete floors and leather seating, creating a warm, rustic pub atmosphere."

You can see the whole menu here. It's a little more expensive than you'd normally find at your regular hang out, but this isn't your normal bar food. I'm guessing this gastropub is going to fit right in with the hip Columbia Heights crowd.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Funny, I usually just dream about being chased by wolves

But evidently this is what chefs dream about.

Chef Cooks 'Dream Omelet' From Recipe That Came To Him In A Dream

Wakey Wakey, eggs and bacey!

Waking up never tasted (or smelled) so good; I present to you...the Wake n’ Bacon alarm clock!

According to the folks at Crispy on the Outside, this alarm clock starts cooking a slice of bacon a few minutes before you want to wake up, filling the room up with the smell of heavenly pork and waking you up ready to chow down.

And if that doesn't work, a backup alarm goes off...and then you eat the bacon.

Now if only they had a pancake and eggs attachment, that's something worth waking up for.

Photo Courtesy: Crispy on the Outside

I never thought I'd hear this at a baseball game

"You don't have to stay for the whole dinner, but you should come over for a while, I've got a Polyface chicken."

If you were the person who said this, please leave a comment. We need to be friends.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A sign of the times topped with cheese and pepperoni

It was only a matter of time, but with everyone going organic these days, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Pizza Hut is rolling out a line of organic pies called, "The Natural", according to Fast Food Maven, a California based food blog.

Much like Robert Redford in pizza form, you'll find a multi-grain crust, organic sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and natural mozzarella cheese.

But the hippie pizza fest doesn't end with what you're eating, even the box will be made of 75% recycled material.

This Natural will be introduced in Tampa and Dallas before it's distributed nationwide. Hopefully, for Pizza Hut's sake, this product ends with a Robert Redford like home run (and not a Robert Redford like slow death due to a stabbing wound).

Photo Courtesy: Fast Food Maven

The British are Ballston

Union Jack's British Pub is coming to Ballston. The sister location of the Bethesda restaurant and Bar, Union Jack's will be taking the space of the now closed Macaroni Grill immediately next to Rock Bottom Brewery.

This makes three "Restaurant and Bars" for the Ballston Mall, and it'll be interesting to see how all three manage to co-exist.

If the menu is the same at the new location as it is at the Bethesda one, expect to see some great happy hour deals, such as $2.00 Bud Lights and Coronas from 4-7pm on Monday through Friday and a "Ladies Night" with half off drinks on Thursdays.

There's also a large menu of your basic Americanized bar food, such as burgers, pizza, and various sandwiches.

So my fellow Ballstonites, will you be frequenting Union Jack's, or will you stick to your regular set of bars?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fatty Country demands Fatty President... least that's the vibe you get from reading this Wall Street Journal article, which insinuates that Barack Obama might be too fit to be elected President.

The article quotes a couple Clinton supporters who claim, "He's too new ... and he needs to put some meat on his bones", and "I won't vote for any beanpole guy".

But it's not just Joe and Jane six-pack who feel this way, Arthur English, a political-science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock claims that putting on the pounds and eating crappy food, "says: 'He's just like one of us".

Haven't we learned our lesson? We don't want a president who is "one of us", because then one of us could be president, and that's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I want a president who can lift a small car and then run ten miles. I want a president who can set an example for how we should eat in this country. A little Arugula isn't going to hurt you people! Drinking organic tea and and skipping the fast food isn't going to plunge this nation into a depression.

But no, let's vote for the guy who can't stop stuffing his face with candy bars and doughnuts, that would be the American thing to do.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rachael Ray not content ruining people food... looks like dog food is next on the list of conquests for uber-almostchef Rachael Ray.

According to NBC, Ray is set to launch, "Nutrish", a line of pet food "based on recipes she has created for her pit bull, Isaboo."

All proceeds will go towards Ray's fund to help at-risk pets, "Rachael's Rescue", so at least that's a good thing.

Somehow I doubt she'll stop here, not until every dog and cat across America can say the word "sammy" and "yum-o".

Photo Courtesy: NBC

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

At least he doesn't look French

I usually try to keep politics off of this page, but when food is brought down to the level of petty politics, I can't help but speak up. However, speaking up was probably the last thing that Rick Davis, Senator John McCain's campaign manager should have done when he said this:

"Only a celebrity of Barack Obama's magnitude could attract 200,000 fans in Berlin who gathered for the mere opportunity to be in his presence. These are not supporters or even voters, but fans fawning over The One. Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand "MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew -- Black Forest Berry Honest Tea" and worry about the price of arugula."

Okay, so forget about the first two sentences - that's a subject for another time and another blog, but let's look at that last sentence: MET-RX bars? Honest Tea? Arugula? You call that elitist? You can buy MET-RX bars at any CVS, Honest Tea at almost any grocery store, and Arugula? Well that just has a bit of a peppery taste!

Maybe Davis is right, maybe Obama is a celebrity elitist who'd rather munch on Mache than Kraft Mac & Cheese. He'd probably be best served relating more to the little guy, your average Joe-six pack, you know like John McCain. So how about it Senator Obama...are you ready to take a walk in McCain's $520 Italian loafers and see what being a real American is like?

Umm, sir...the food is already dead

Somehow it's come to this: some Atlanta restaurants are telling their customers to leave their guns at home after a new law "allows holders of concealed weapons permits to bring guns into restaurants that serve alcohol", according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Obviously not being familiar with the work of Johnny Cash or the concept of simple common sense, the Georgia State Legislature's decision to allow people to carry deadly weapons into establishments where small children dwell and people generally get hammered now puts an accidental shooting into the list of bad things that can happen at say...a Ruby Tuesday's - come for sub-par food, stay because you've been shot in the head.

Luckily the restaurant community has at least one person with Oxygen properly flowing to their brain; Susie Oddo, the vice president of operations for Tappan Street Restaurant Group told the Atlanta Business Chronicle, "When you add alcohol, it's not a good mix".

There is a bright side to this law: you'll never have some snot nosed restaurant manager try to screw a customer out of having breakfast again (see clip below for reference).

Food Day: Late and uninspired edition

Happy food day folks. We're going to keep things short today, so here we go.

Oh good, another "celebrity chef" is coming to DC: According to Metrocurean it looks like DC has another uber-chef on his way to impress the small-town crowd. Michael Mina, owner of over a dozen restaurants nationwide (and one in Mexico) will be opening up a Bourbon Steak location at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. What will we have to look forward to? According to Arizona Central's review of Bourbon Steak - one of the best steaks you've ever had (but you're going to pay for it).

Lobster powered cars?: Prices of everything everywhere are going up, except for lobster, which is going down according to the Boston Globe. This is horrible news for lobstermen who are having to contend with higher costs for fuel and bait.

Oh the Irony
: LA, the birthplace of fast food, has put a one year moratorium on new fast food joints in South LA according to this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

Celebrate with Cheap Cheesecake TODAY!

Talk about a sweet deal. If you're in the market for a cheap dessert tonight, make your way on over to the Cheesecake Factory (I can't believe I actually just wrote that) and claim your piece of any of their over 30 varieties of cheesecake for only $1.50.

Regardless of what you (I) might think of TCF, thirty years is remarkable for any restaurant, and people seem to like this place (like my parents, and professional athletes)

And if that's not enough for you, $.25 out of every $1.50 goes to America's Second Harvest. So there, do it for the kids.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Goodbye Bennigan's

Still saving up that money to buy yourself a Bennigan's franchise? Well it may be time to look elsewhere, because as of today, it looks like Bennigan's is a thing of the past.

According to a Chicago Tribune article, Bennigan's parent company, S & A Restaurant Corp, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and suddenly closed seemingly all of its corporate owned restaurants.

How sudden was this move? So sudden that they didn't even tell their employees, all of whom showed up for work to only find out that their jobs were no longer on the menu.

I haven't been to a Bennigan's since high school, and always thought the same of it as I do other casual dining restaurants - but this has to hit its (former) employees particularly hard. In a time where the economy is in the tank, I can only hope everyone hurt by this lands squarely on their feet.

Building a better burger

I'm not a believer in the concept of perfection - so Eric Ripert's quest for the "perfect burger" isn't something I take seriously. However, after reading this article, you've got to say that this master chef has the right idea on how to build a better burger.

Of course those of you who live here in the DC area don't have to go far - just to the WestEnd neighborhood to Ripert's restaurant, WestEnd Bistro (fitting, isn't it?)

Just be prepared to pay. Your basic burger will run you $16.

So, have you tried Ripert's better burger? Thoughts?

Jose Andres on the Today Show

If you're reading this in the next ten seconds, turn on The Today Show to watch Jose Andres go crazy on a watermelon.

Of course, no one will understand a word he says - but I'm sure it'll be very loud and tasty!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekly Website: Panache Nosh

Happy Monday everyone. Today's Weekly Website features Panache Nosh, a welcome addition to the DC food blog scene, with plenty of great reviews, beautiful pictures, and snarky comments.

As usual you can find the link to this site on my blog roll on the right side of the screen. If you have a website you'd like to see featured, just leave me a comment and I'll put it up next week.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Apples!

Ok, so her birthday isn't until Sunday, but today begins the three day celebration in honor of all things Apples.

Actually, that's a little misleading - we've been celebrating her birthday for at least a week now. But hey, she deserves it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tallula Appoints New Executive Chef

It looks like one of Arlington's best restaurants is about to get better as Chef Andrew Markert will take over as Executive Chef of Tallula Restaurant and EatBar before the end of the month.

His most recent work has been at Alexandria's Vermilion as Chef de Cuisine under Chef Anthony Chittum, but Markert has done time at such notable locations as Dish, Notti Bianche, and Citronelle.

According to Michael Babin, President of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which owns such distinguished restaurants as Evening Star Café, Vermilion, Rustico and Buzz, Markert will oversee "new menus in both restaurants that continue to utilize fresh, seasonal products by the end of summer."

New York Retort

Sometimes I forget that people actually read this (aside from my parents). Matt Gross, the NYT writer who I used as the basis for my NYC wrote a rather pleasant and well reasoned retort to my rant that you can read below.

My favorite part about this blog is the ability to create a dialog and to start a conversation. I just want to thank Matt for engaging me. I'm looking forward to that piece on Taipei.

Hi Anthony,

Matt Gross here. I totally get what you're saying and wanted to clarify a little:

I wouldn't say it's my New Yorkeriness that prompted me to call for kalbi hash and Momofuku in Seoul—it's my experience traveling all over Asia. Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City—all have rich culinary heritages, but they're also reaching into other food traditions to create new dishes.

Seoul isn't quite there yet, which is strange since it considers itself such a sophisticated, modern city. Kimchi jigae is a great dish (I make it at home on a regular basis), but in the week I spent eating it there, it was served much the same way everywhere I went. For such an otherwise innovative country, this tight adherence to tradition was surprising.

Anyway, glad I provoked a reaction from you! Hope you'll keep reading my work. (Look for a similar piece on Taipei in the coming months.)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just Shut Up: My Case Against NYC

It all started last Sunday by the pool. It was a picture perfect day; only a handful of clouds in the sky, the pool was douchebag free and Apples and I were enjoying watching a mother teaching her child how to swim. It was paradise.

I didn't bother to bring a book with me, so I grabbed for the travel section of Apple's copy of the Sunday New York Times - her latest venture into full-blown yuppiehood. Flipping frantically for something food related, I was relieved to find Matt Gross' article, "The Weird, Wild, and Ultimately Sublime", a piece about food in Seoul, South Korea.

Sitting quietly in my chair, attempting not to disturb Apples or block any of her Sun, I sprung up in a fit of rage. Ok, so it wasn't a fit of rage, more of a bout of annoyance. But I was upset. Why? Because of this line:

Where were the kalbi hash and the kimchi huevos rancheros? (Note to David Chang: Seoul needs Momofuku.)

No! No, I shouted. That's bullshit! Apples didn't bother to react to my outburst, she's heard it before. But I went on anyway. "Who does this guy think he is?", I asked, as if someone would appear from the bottom of the pool and validate my angry question.

If anyone would have bothered to ask, I would have told them that my anger isn't directed towards one NYT writer, but towards what seems to be the prevailing attitudes of those in the New York City food community, that somehow, without them there would be no fine cuisine, hell - food itself would simply be reduced to large vats of gruel, and us rural yokels will be left asking for more.

The idea that Seoul, the capital city of a country with a rich food heritage that far predates the existence of New York City herself, "needs Momofuku", one of the top restaurants in NYC, is absurd. Seoul needs Momofuku like Paris needs Citronelle, or Dublin needs Restaurant Eve. They don't; those cities do just fine on their own.

But this statement captures a lot of what I've seen and heard from people from "the city". "Oh I miss real pizza", "Why don't you guys have Pinkberry here?", and "Man, I can't wait to head back to the city to get a cupcake at Magnolia", are all thoughts in the same vein - we have it all in New York City, and by definition, you're just playing for second place.

It's a sentiment I detest. They're statements that get my blood boiling. Yes, NYC is a great food city. The best in the world? Possibly. Though I believe Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city right now, America's best restaurant is located not in NYC, but in Northern California, some of the best pizza in the country is being made in Phoenix, frozen yogurt is a global trend (started in South Korea - probably by someone who said, "NYC needs this"), and even the New York Times own food critic Frank Bruni said in a recent blog post that Georgetown Cupcake's product, "beat[s] Magnolia Bakery’s by miles and miles".

I know that not all NY foodies (for a lack of a better term) feel and act this way. Perhaps I'm just not as plugged into the NYC food culture as I should be. Perhaps I have a bias against NYC because growing up, my father, who grew up in the city, wasn't shy about sharing his disdain for it, and perhaps I'm just taking one writer's comment out of context. But this is what I hear, and this is what I take away when a food writer tells a city that they "need" a NYC restaurant.

You've got a lot to offer, New York, but it's time you recognized that you aren't the whole picture. You're a piece (albeit a big one) in a much larger global culinary puzzle. My advice would be to shut up and just let your food speak - it'll do so louder and clearer than you ever will.

Thought of the Day: Cupcakes are wicked expensive

Perhaps I shouldn't have bought the solid gold cupcakes with the platinum frosting, but either way...

...cupcakes are flippin expensive.

(Thus ends the thought of the day)

First Look: Ping by Charlie Chiang

As my cab pulls into Shirlington shopping center I can't help but be impressed. Even my cab driver comments on the number of restaurants packed into these few square blocks of carefully planned community.

Ping by Charlie Chiang
sits at ground zero of this culinary maze of bakeries, ice cream shops and ethnic food outlets, on corner allowing passers by a glimpse in, or customers a view out of its big windows. The space is remarkable and well put together. Split into three sections - a bar and two distinct seating areas - Ping looks a lot bigger than it actually is, and provides plenty of room to sit back, spread out, and breathe.

Ping is the seventh location in Virginia for the Charlie Chiang family, and the tenth in the Washington D.C. area. But talking with Christiana Chiang, Charlie's wife and co-owner of the mini-empire, Ping is special.

This isn't your parent's Chinese restaurant. Hell, this isn't even your Chinese restaurant. This is Chinese food 2.0.

No more dull looking noodley mess out of a paper box. You'll find cuisine that attracts the eye first, something very important to Christiana, and then takes a hold of the rest of your senses.

The menu, which is made up of "best of" dishes from the Chiang's travels, covers a good portion of Asia - from Thailand to China to Japan - with a surprisingly impressive sushi menu complimenting the traditionally heavier Chinese dishes.

Working my way through the menu, it's easy to see Christiana's influence. Everything looks clean and vibrant, lacking the traditional heavy sauce and grease you normally get with Chinese food.

Shiny Slippery Shrimp, a dish that tastes better than it sounds has a nice crunch to it, and a solid garlic flavor. Garlic is something you'll see a lot of here, sometimes to a fault, but if you're a fan, you're in luck. Other highlights include a sashimi soup that's light and flavorful, a lamb version of "Pot au Feu" that's tender and rich, and pepper steak cubes with just the right amount of heat.

Of course there are some dishes that just don't work, mostly due to a bit too much tweaking with traditional recipes. Vegetables and rice with some sort of cheese that looked and tasted bland, and a scallop dumpling that again had some sort of cheese on top. Lesson here, avoid the stuff with cheese and stick to what the Chiangs know best - Chinese food that's better than what you're used to.

It's hard to believe that Ping won't succeed. The Chiang family knows what they're doing, and it shows here. This is a restaurant that will grow with the neighborhood around it, and its versatility - from its large bar (with four huge flat screen TVs) to its diverse menu - will cater to the business lunch rush and the family dinner crowd alike. This is an impressive cornerstone in an impressive neighborhood; a restaurant that holds up well in the long tradition of the Chiang family.

Food Day: Slow and Cold Edition

Happy Food Day folks. Trying to beat the summer heat? Want to slow down and chill out? Well have I got some stories for you...

Foodstock: It's probably one of the most controversial movements in the food world today, but the Slow Food folks are determined to stay, and during Labor Day weekend in San Francisco, they're planning a gathering that's expected to draw 50,000 people - but will it be enough to democratize this institution? This NYT article has all of the details.

We all scream: How popular are frozen treats these days? Popular enough for an article in the NYT, Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free Press, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

All are great articles, be sure to read them all before they melt!

The Best Part of Waking Up: This isn't your father's cup of coffee. This WaPo article shows how better beans translate to a better cup of joe.

In and Eating: Pickles can do a lot of things, but according to this LA Times article, they're just plain in right now.

Go ahead, learn something: Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, has a great chat with the San Francisco Chronicle talking about what politics.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Restaurant Week Summer 2008 List is Up!

That's right folks, here's the list, start making your plans now.

Remember, avoid places that already have pre-theatre menus that are usually cheaper than the RW menu ($20.08 for lunch and $35.08 for dinner) and focus on places you normally can't afford.

So, what restaurants are you looking forward to visiting?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arlington to class it up with food kiosks

Earlier tonight the Arlington City Council voted to make it easier for kiosks (like the one shown below) and food carts to set up shop throughout Arlington County.

“In many towns and cities across the United States and in Europe, kiosks bring color, vibrancy, great street food and unique crafts into the urban mix,” says Chairman J. Walter Tejada, hoping to attract what Arlington sees as "an amenity for residents, pedestrians, and visitors".

I can't help but think that the Pupatella cart, an Italian food cart located in Ballston and run by a couple neighbors of mine, had a large role in getting this passed. Their success will hopefully encourage others to give it a shot.

So, I know I have at least a couple people from Arlington who read this thing; what do you hope to see open up? I'm hoping for a noodle kiosk, and maybe something that has meat on a stick.

Fake News, Real Funny

Somewhere there's a scientist at the Domino's Food Lab who just thought..."You know, hot dogs on a pizza, that's not a bad idea!"

Domino's Scientists Test Limits Of What Humans Will Eat

That man should probably lose his job.

Salmonella source turns out to be Jalapeno Peppers

According to a just released AP report, it turns out the the Salmonella outbreak that has sent over a thousand people to the hospital was caused by a bad batch of Jalapeno peppers from Mexico.

So remember folks: Tomatoes = Good, Jalapenos = BAD.

That's all (until the next Salmonella outbreak).

Weekly Website: HSUS's Factory Farming Campaign

This week's Weekly Website shows us that it's not only what you eat, it's where it came from that counts too.

The Humane Society of the United States Factory Farming Campaign is working to stamp out the horrible practices of factory farms that put profits over standards and put the safety of our food at risk.

If you have a website you'd like me to feature, leave a comment and I'll put it up next week.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Other People's Breaking News: Cupcakes to Coming to Annapolis

Fresh out of the oven from our friends at Delleicious DC, it looks like Annapolis has gone cupcake crazy with the announcement that Nostalgia Cupcakes will open around Labor Day.

Click here to read all of the details and a great interview with Nostalgia owner, Sharon White.

Cold Stone Creamery Enters the Frozen Yogurt Market

Ok, so this isn't exactly breaking news - Cold Stone actually introduced this product, called TangyBerry, in some of their stores last November, but today was the first time I noticed it in the Cold Stone location at the Ballston Mall here in Arlington, VA.

The product, which has been compared to Pinkberry, is "fat-free and contains 100 calories per 4-ounce serving."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

He's Here!

Word on the street is Anthony Bourdain is in town shooting an episode of No Reservations. He'll be here until Monday. My guess is a stop at Ben's, one at Jaleo to see his good pal Jose Andres, and probably a drinking tour of U St./Adams Morgan/Dupont Circle/H St. and everywhere else where there's a bar.

If anyone sees him and can manage to take a picture, send it to me at anthonypdeangelo-at-gmail-dot-com.

Oh, and buy him a shot of something strong.

Can I has tomatoes?

Yes, yes you can.

According to the FDA, tomatoes are not going to kill you anymore. Hot peppers might though, so...avoid those now.

Gerard Pangaud Bistro Closed

Another closing today: Gerard Pangaud Bistro near McPherson Square.

Not exactly a household name to youngsters like me, Chef Pangaud headed up a two star Michelin restaurant in Paris before he was thirty years old.

Chef Pangaud left his position at L'Academie de Cuisine back in March to come back full-time to the restaurant.

This makes two high profile restaurants that have been closed within the past few weeks in the McPherson Square area; Butterfield 9 was the other.

Photo Courtesy: Washingtonian Magazine

An Open Letter to Michel Richard

Dear Chef Richard,

As one of the most talented and well recognized chefs not only in Washington DC, but in the entire country, almost anything you put your mind and frying pan to will be a success.

Your newest restaurant in Washington DC, Central, was named the best new restaurant nationwide by the James Beard Foundation, and you're even venturing back to LA to reconquer the west coast.

You're a treasure, and this city is better for having you here.

So with that being said; for the love of God don't open a hamburger restaurant!!

Yes, the hamburger at Central is among the best in the city, and you'd probably find a way to put your tuna and/or lobster burgers on the menu, and it'd be one of the most popular restaurants in the city, but please...


Do we really need another hamburger shoved down this city's already full gullet? Probably not. I think the few hundred burger places we already have are on the case. And even though you excel at taking American cuisine and adding class to it, there has got to be something else you can do, something better you can improve upon.

How about you open up a legit gourmet deli? One that can shut every New Yorker up and make me fat and happy. Or what about an actual French bakery that will allow you to show off your first love and one of your true talents?

So please, don't do it. You don't have to, and we don't need it.

But if you decide to, I promise to be first in line to eat my weight in hamburgers.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another one bites the dust

At this point I could probably start a weekly feature on this, but again, we've got another restaurant closing.

This time it's Merkado in Logan Circle. The sister restaurant to Logan Tavern will officially close on August 24th, and reopen as Commissary, "an all-purpose cafe, lounge, coffeehouse and wine bar", according to the Washington Post.

There is a silver lining on this cloud though, the restaurant will "offer customers 75 percent off the price of every bottle of wine."

Now that's a closing I can drink to!