Monday, March 31, 2008

Stonyfield Farms Recalls Blueberry Yogurt

You might want to check that yogurt you're about to have for lunch, it may contain pieces of glass or plastic according to a Boston Globe report.

Stonyfield Farms voluntarily recalled all fat-free Blueberry yogurt with the dates: April 13, April 14, April 15, April 25, and April 26, stamped on the bottom.

So far nobody has been injured, and it doesn't look like this recall extends to any of the other flavors of yogurt.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

News from Courthouse

If you happen to spend as much time in Courthouse as I do, you'll be happy to see you'll have a few more dining options in the months ahead.

On Wilson Blvd. where Atilla's used to be, a new restaurant, Courthouse Bistro will be opening up. I know nothing about this place except it'll probably be Italian based on the color scheme of the sign.

If you're looking for something a little sweeter though, you'll want to venture up Wilson Blvd. to across the Whole Foods, where according to, Bocatto, a new gelato and sorbet joint will be opening up in the Latin market in the next couple weeks.

That's all the news for today. Expect next week to be a slow one, but I'll have a great preview of what promises to be Clarendon's new gem: Eventide.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Eleventh Street Lounge

Guest blogger time! I was at work late last night, and cranky about it, so Bananas and I agreed that drinks and yummy dinner were much in need. After passing over Random Ballston Thai Restaurant (not feeling it), Cafe Morocco (too much fuss), and Liberty Tavern (too crowded!) we wandered over to Eleventh Street Lounge, which is just off the Clarendon metro beyond Clarendon Grill. Its a long, thin space full of small 2-person tables and low leather arm chairs clustered into 2's and 4's, painted mostly red with a classy-let-go kind of vibe. Thursdays are good days at Eleventh Street-- half price drinks until 8pm (which we just missed) and half-price small plates until 10 (woo!). Anthony had a caiparinha, which was perfectly limey and tasty and must have been amazing since it was mostly gone in about .3 seconds. I had a "zen moment" (thank god, I really needed one) that was green tea liquor, white cranberry juice, and soda-- yum! I also ordered two small plates, one a trio of tangy, spicey Carolina BBQ sliders on sesame-seed buns topped with coleslaw and served along home-made potato chips, and the other a generous smoked salmon carpaccio with capers and beets, served with good french bread. All in all, very satisfying, and a good, friendly place to chill. The music's loud, but Bananas and I are pretty much out of things to talk about anyway:) (Kidding!)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

First Look: Noodles and Company

I think it says something about the changing nature of the way we look at food in this country when I can write the following sentence: Noodles and Company is a chain with a soul, and one that I won't have to think twice about eating at.

The location closest to me is at the Ballston Mall, and just recently opened. I stopped by tonight for dinner because they were donating 100% of their profits to a local high school's sports booster club, and because I've been wanting to give them a shot.

For the most part, I'm glad I did. I decided on the Japanese Pan Noodles, which were udon noodles, veggies, sprouts, and tofu (the tofu is an additional cost). My initial reaction to the noodles was mixed, I wasn't quite sold on the texture of the noodles, which seemed a little rubbery, but it grew on me.

The tofu was perfectly cooked and the flavors works quite well together. I got the regular size, which was just right for a dinner portion. I'd imagine that if it were lunch I'd opt for the small portion.

While I was finishing my dinner the restaurant manager stopped by and asked how the meal was. He reported to me that business has been solid, and that Noodles and Co.'s next location, to open in Mechanicsville, VA, will also donate a day's worth of profits to a local high school.

I was also pleased to see that they're looking at focusing on seasonal ingredients, such as asparagus, which is just coming into season.

I could say without a doubt that I saw more people in Noodles and Co. tonight than I ever saw in Chicken Out before. This could be because of the high school promotion, it could be because it's still new, or it could be because they're putting a great product out there and people are responding to it.

I wrote a few weeks back that I didn't think they'd last against Vapiano and other local restaurants, but after tonight, I think I can state that not only does Noodles and Company have a soul, but they've got a pulse, and I think it'll beat strong for a good long time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Help: Your chance to play journalist

By no means am I a journalist (except for in real life), but I occasionally like to play one online.

This Friday I'll be talking with Dave Pressley, Managing Partner and General Manager of Eventide Restaurant, which will be opening up in Clarendon sometime this Spring.

The restaurant, which will be on the same block as Liberty Tavern and Clarendon Ballroom, will certainly add to a growing independent restaurant scene in the area that's countering the entrenched powers of La Tasca and Cheesecake Factory.

But here's your chance to ask the tough questions of someone in the industry. Submit your questions in the comments section and I'll ask them (obviously if they're germane).

I plan on asking about how he plans on differentiating Eventide from other new restaurants such as Liberty Tavern and Restaurant 3, and why so many businesses in the main section of Clarendon seem to fall through.

Again, please submit questions - this is your chance to be a part of the story.

You won't have to sneak food into Nationals Park...

because according to a WTOP report, you'll be able to bring your own food in nice and legal.

In addition to bringing your own food in, you'll be able to bring in water bottles less than one liter.

This is great news for tightwads like me, who hate spending money, even if the food options at the park are going to be so great.

Awards Time

In the past few days two major sets of award nominees have come out, the local Rammys, and the national James Beard Awards.

Of course DC has a great showing in the James Beard Awards, with notables such as Jose Andres getting a nomination for Outstanding Chef, and Central for best new restaurant.

Some of the notable Rammy nominees include out of towners Eric Ripert and Wolfgang Puck's new restaurants for best new restaurant, and big time names R.J. Cooper, Eric Ziebold, Robert Wiedmaier, Todd Gray, and Michel Richard as Chef of the year.

For a full list of James Beard nominees from the DC area - visit Metrocurean here, and for a full list of Rammy nominees, visit the Washingtonian here.

Food Day: Keepin' it local edition

Happy food day folks; here's what's going on in the world of food today:

The right thing to do and the tasty way to do it
: Chipotle has always been one of my go-to chains. The food is generally solid and the price per portion is hard to beat. But now, especially if you live in Charlottesville, you've got an even better reason to visit this burrito chain: according to a WaPo article, their carnitas is being supplied by my favorite farm, Polyface Farms, in an attempt to incorporate more local products.

This is a surprise in a sense, and not in another. Chipotle has always gone out of its way to get the best ingredients, but the pick up of Polyface is huge; Polyface won't even sell to Whole Foods!

Polyface itself can't supply a whole lot more than just the city of Charlottesville, but with the slew of local farms in the area, I hope this turns into a real trend.

Big City, Small Prices: New York City might be known as one of the most expensive cities in the World, but the NYT has a way you can eat there on the cheap in this article.

Happy Birthday Jaleo: Next month marks the 10th birthday of the king of DC tapas, Jaleo, and they'll be celebrating in style. During the entire month of April you'll see special dishes and deals, and on the 5th, the actual birthday, you'll be able to get a free piece of birthday cake!

Dinner on the cheap: The Denver Post has a great article that shows the best ways to cut costs when still putting good food on your table - and all for $10 or less.

That's about it for now folks. Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thai Restaurant Week: April 13-19th

It's almost April, and you know what that means...Thai New Year!

Ok, so even if you didn't know it was Thai New Year, you'll get a chance to taste some of the best food Thailand has to offer thanks to the Thai embassy.

Twenty DC area Thai restaurants will be participating in Thai Restaurant Week, which will entail, "special menus, discounts, or traditional Thai New Year's performances", as well as, "a complimentary tasting of exotic, mouth-water Thai fruit."

These fruits include Mangosteens, Lychees, Rambutans, Longans, Mangos and Pineapples.

I'm not quite sure if this is the first year they've done this, but I hope they maintain it, it'll be a nice food event between DC Restaurant Weeks.

So do any of you out there plan on taking advantage of these deals? Which restaurant do you plan on hitting up?

First Look - Fogo de Chao

The phrase "once in a lifetime" gets thrown around quite a bit these days. Usually, when one uses it, they're referring to an experience, in our case, a meal, that's so good, you'll only experience it once in a lifetime.

Fogo de Chao is a once in a lifetime experience, not because it was so good you'll never replicate it, but because after you go through this meatathon of epic proportions, you'll probably never want to go through it again.

Now by no means am I saying that Fogo de Chao isn't a good restaurant. In fact, I thought it very much lived up to expectations. The various kinds of meat made it an interesting meal, not only a satisfying one. I thought the pichanha, a portion of sirloin that you evidently don't find that often in the US, was particularly good, as was the lamb, which I thought stole the show.

What really sets this restaurant apart from your run of the mill steakhouse is the service. Instead of ordering a steak, you have an army of men with meat on skewers and large knives running around asking if you want what they're carrying.

Want you meat rare? They'll find the part of the steak that's rare and cut you a slice. Don't want any meat at all, turn the little red and green coaster they give you to red, and the servers will bypass your table.

It's a system with benefits and drawbacks. It lets you eat at your own pace, but if you let them, the servers will bombard you with meat; a thought that will haunt your dreams long after you pay the bill and leave the restaurant.

Even if you want to throw a little greenery into the mix, the salad bar was quite impressive, and had a great variety of antipasti items and straight up salad items.

If for some reason you happen to have room for dessert, you'll find them here too, along with a very robust wine (dinner and dessert) and liquor list.

I had the tres leches cake, which lived up to the standards I developed living in Miami for 18 years and eating my weight in it over time.

When it comes down to it, Fogo de Chao isn't a restaurant, it's an experience. It's meat madness, it's a meatercize in futility, it's a meatastrophy. It's the kind of meal that makes it hard to sleep that night, and makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

Fogo de Chao isn't a "once in a lifetime experience" because the food is that great, but because after this gluttonous meat carnival, your body probably couldn't take another.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Food News from Nationals Park

From the forum of, if you were wondering how much it'll cost you to eat at Nationals Park, below are the rumored prices from one who attended the college game this past Saturday.

Hot dogs=$4.50
kosher dogs = $5.50
Ben's Half Smoke = $6.25
Pizza = $8
Sodas $4.50/$5.50;
Margarita = $10
Cracker Jacks, Pretzels, seeds=$4

Also, it seems that Five Guys will eventually have a stand in the stadium itself - so if you're looking for your burger fix, you'll know where to go.

Nothing says Easter like deep fried turkey

I hope everyone out there had a great holiday weekend. I'm recovering from a massive food hangover from yesterday's eat fest - as opposed to the other hangover I had Sunday morning from Saturday's drink fest.

What did me in? Probably the deep fried turkey, which is the food equivalent of tequila shots.

If you've never had it, it's quite good. The dark meat especially (which is my favorite), retains an incredible amount of flavor, and came out oh so moist.

But if I've learned anything from college, the best way to get through a hangover is to have a few more...which probably explains the rational behind having dinner at Fogo de Chao tonight.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fatty Fridays: College Edition

College students aren't exactly the healthiest demographic in the world, which is why they're the perfect subjects for Fatty Fridays.

Our friends over at Endless Simmer have a great list of the top ten drunk college foods. You know, that food you just craved in college (or tonight) when were too plastered to care what you put into your body (because you've already loaded up with enough toxins already).

Well the number two ranked drunk college food was none other than DC's own Jumbo Slice, which I've downed my fair share of as an AU college student/graduate, even though there are FAR better drunk food options in Adams Morgan than either of the "original" jumbo slices.

But the number one entry so tops jumbo slice it's not enough funny. In fact, it's kind of embarrassing.

Straight out of the University of Georgia, The Luther Burger is the king of fatty drunk foods.

A grilled Krispy Kreme donut serving as a bun for a bacon cheeseburger? Yeah, you win.

So, how many can I put you down for?

Photos by: Selidadsullivan and Texas Burger Guy

AU and Victory!

In twenty minutes my Eagles of American University will be pitted against the Volunteers of Tennessee...and undoubtedly lose.

I will be cheering loudly and eating pizza from Famous Luigi's which luckily is only two blocks away from my office.

Who else is not doing any work today and watching basketball? Anyone ordering in from somewhere interesting?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What I'm Reading: More New Blogs

A couple days ago I asked everyone to send in the names of food blogs and luckily I got a couple new names to put on the blog roll.

So I'd like to welcome DC Gluties, a DC area blog that focuses on folks with Celiac Disease, and One Fork, One Spoon, a NYC based blog that focuses on cooking in Oaxaca.

I highly recommend both of them.

And don't forget, if there's anything else you'd like to see on the blog roll, let me know.

Happy reading folks!

The Fry Plate is back at Palena

Last week Apples and I went to Palena - I blogged about it and raved about another great burger.

What I didn't write about was that we were both very disappointed that the fry plate, which consists of French fries, onion rings, fried lemons, and other potatoy goodness, was gone.

Well, a poster has announced that, as of last night, the fry plate is back on the menu. So now you can go back to Frank Ruta's awesome restaurant and gorge on one of the best fry plates in the city.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Want to open a restaurant?

Well it looks like the folks at the Peacock might hold the cards for you. According to an ad on Craigslist, NBC is holding an open casting call this Saturday, March 22nd at 10am to look for, "two-person teams, with pre-existing relationships, who have always dreamed of opening their own restaurant."

The only requirement is that you be 21 and have a partner and you arrive with your application, which I'm assuming you could find on the NBC website, completed.

So do you plan on making it down to McPherson Square this Saturday? How do you plan to make it big?

Robin Miller visits the WaPo

The Washington Post today had three solid hours of food chat, and who was the meat in the middle of that foodie sandwich? None other than the Food Network's Robin Miller (click here to read the full chat).

Now I'll be the first to admit, I've never seen her show or read any of her books and I don't know what her credentials are, but she looks pretty generic so I went into her noon chat with low expectations.

To be honest, they were met. Though I'm critical in my comments, I do think there's a need for Robin. I think that the majority of Americans can give a shit about whether pre-fixe menus are too long these days, or about the sustainability of their seafood. Robin Miller works for them, she just doesn't work for me.

Here are some excerpts from the chat (my comments are in italics and her words in bold font).

New York, N.Y.: Hi Robin,

Thanks for doing this chat. I really like the concept of your show where you make several batches of something to use it in later recipes.

What do you think the direction of the Food Network is going? It seems like they are cutting back on the regular shows to bring in more diverse, upbeat, and "interesting" shows. I hope they plan on keeping the standards!

Robin Miller: Thanks for the nice words! I'm not sure exactly where the direction is going. There HAVE been many changes, I guess to shake things up! I'm sure there will always be the "go-to" shows for people who want mealtime solutions each week!

Go to the Food Network website and look at their line up; it's almost all "go-to" shows from people who have never set foot in a kitchen. You either love or hate the food network. I grew up watching it, and I don't like the fact that they've chased out (or completely ruined) a lot of the actual chefs they've had.

It's also a little disturbing that Robin seems to have no clue what's going on at the Food Network.


Georgetown: Have you been to D.C.? Have any favorite restaurants here?

Robin Miller: I have - and I love DC. Haven't been since last year so the dining scene has probably changed. I also love atmosphere and really enjoyed the "waterfront" area (not sure what it's called, but it's on the water - great restaurants).

Are you kidding me? I understand you're on a publicity tour, trust me, I know how that works, but you've got time to read up on one of the best food cities in the country. There's some important work being done here, and there are more food blogs and publications that cover it than I care to count or could ever read. Take five minutes and read up on it.


Tysons Cubicle: What's your favorite ingredient to stretch?

Robin Miller: Good question - I don't think I've met an ingredient I HAVEN'T stretched! I think because chicken is so mild in flavor (AKA bland!), it takes on many forms and flavors without feeling like leftovers.

I'm a writer, not a chef, but I don't think chicken is bland. But hey, what do I know?

Did anyone else get a chance to read the chat? Thoughts?

Indigo Landing to reopen tomorrow

Straight off Tom's Chat; breaking news from Alexandria: Indigo Landing the seafood restaurant with one of the best views in the DC will reopen tomorrow with a new chef and a new menu.

The chef, Ernesto Pabico, will reach back to his Filipino heritage to forge a menu that will include, "mojo wings, mussel pan roast, grouper fingers, prime rib, crab legs, salmon, sliders and burgers."

All You Can Eat at Sushi Taro

I've been waiting an entire year for this. I promised myself last year I wouldn't miss it, and I'll be damned if I do again this year.

When it comes down to it, Sushi Taro is one of my favorite places in DC; add the words "all you can eat", and it becomes Heaven.

Now if you remember my post from last year, the lines will be ridiculously long, so get there expecting to wait.

The buffet will run from 12:30pm until 8pm, and will cost adults $38, which includes tax and tip.

Apples and I will be there around 3pm, so be sure you get there before, because there won't be anything left after we're done with it.

Food Day: Cute Edition

Happy food day folks. I hope everyone is enjoy the madness of March, but for now, here's the news:

Easter Weekend: As usual the Wednesday before a holiday, the food pages are flooded with recipes and ideas for eating your way through spending time with family. I've never celebrated Easter beyond kicking my sister's ass at Easter egg hunts and eating egg salad by the pound, but there are some good ideas in the LA Times and the Dallas Morning News, as well as a really cute article about peeps in the Denver Post.

A garden grows in Englewood: Urban farms are becoming quite the rage in certain parts of the country, this Chicago Sun-Times article chronicles one such farm and how it's helped revitalized a community.

Tofu Tips: If you're as crazy about tofu as I am, you'll want to check this Arizona Central article out about the best ways to prepare this nutritious and delicious treat.

Let them eat Smith Cake
: There's a push in the great state of Maryland to make Smith Island Cake the state's official dessert.

This NPR article gives a great history of the cake and the island for which it's named.

This isn't my father's MRE: When my father was in the Air Force I always liked when he brought home MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat for those not in the know. Well it seamed that the crap he ate in the 70s and 80s is now being replaced by a new generation of actually edible food according to the Washington Post.

That's about it for now folks. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Help: In search of other food blogs

One of my favorite things about having this blog is finding other food bloggers, both inside and outside the DC area.

I try my best to keep my blogroll updated with blogs that I think are particularly well done, but it seems like I find a couple new blogs every week that I've never even heard of.

So I'm asking you to leave me a comment with food blogs that you'd like to see added to the list and I'll add them as quickly as I can.

Thank you all in advance for your help!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chop't Rosslyn Location to open March 24th

Chop't will open its third DC area location, and its first in Virginia next Monday, March 24th in Rosslyn.

It will be interesting to see how the location, a couple blocks away from the metro, will do, and if it will compete directly with Georgetown's Sweetgreen.

I've been a fan of Chop't since it opened up in Chinatown. I like the concept and I think the execution is pretty good.

What about you? Would you like to see Chop't grow beyond three stores? Or do you think this is an idea that has been done to death?

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation this Monday

I'm posting this just in case someone didn't already see this on Metrocurean, but this year's Taste of the Nation will be held next Monday, March 24th at 7:00pm at the Washington Hilton just north of Dupont Circle.

According to the website:

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation®, presented by American Express®, is the nation’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to making sure no kid in America grows up hungry. Each spring, the nation's hottest chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at more than 55 events across the United States and Canada, with one goal in mind: to raise the critical funds needed to end childhood hunger. Since its inception 20 years ago, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $70 million.

Some of the restaurants represented will include Dino, Central, Hook, Restaurant Eve, and Proof.

Interested in going? Tickets will run you $85, but you can get VIP tickets for $200 and $2500. Click here to buy your ticket.

I for one will not be going, not because I don't care about hungry kids, but because my AmEx needs a break.

Is anyone out there going? Is there one restaurant/chef/mixologist that you're really excited to see?

First Look - New Big Wong

Ok, get the laughing out of the way now. New Big Wong might have a funny name, but it has some serious food.

Located in the heart of Chinatown, this hole in the wall is a great stop for those in search of a great, quick, cheap meal before a game at the Verizon center, or during your lunch break.

Arriving before 8:30pm for dinner, you'll find a range of specials from $6.75 to $8.75, which includes a bowl of egg drop soup, an eggroll, and an entree. I opted for the tofu with vegetables which came with a large serving of rice.

The tofu was fried nicely and the veggies were perfectly cooked.

The service was surprisingly quick, and I was in and out within a half hour (it also helps that I eat ridiculously fast).

The menu at New Big Wong is much larger than just those specials, and everything is very reasonably priced. I think next time I walk by this dumpy looking restaurant instead of laughing I might just go in.

Monday, March 17, 2008

No more Paula Deen for this kid

I don't watch the Food Network these days as much as I used to, but the other day I was flipping channels and caught a commercial Paula Deen was doing for Smithfield Foods. I didn't think anything of it and just moved on.

Well, evidently I should have thought a bit more about it, because it seems like she's shilling ham for crooked company according to our friends at DC Food Blog.

Her response, upon hearing that there have been worker abuses at Smithfield's North Carolina Tar Heel Packing Plant was this:

"If it is somehow found out down the road that Smithfield is intimidating their workers, would you ever pull your name or not be associated with the company?" Deen responds, "You know, all of us in America who work, we all have some complaints about our work. You know it's called work for a reason. It's not called play so there will always be complaints about our work place. I am not the one to solve union issues."

What do you think? Do you think statements and actions like these warrant a boycott? Do you think that Paula should step down, or do you think she's right in her thoughts on the Smithfield workers?

Restaurant Rumors: Deli to open in Georgetown

A special thanks to a good friend for supplying this information, but it seems like Georgetown will be getting a new deli from some former Galileo folks.

The deli will open in about two weeks, will be producing lunches to go, and is located at the corner of 28th and P St. NW.

Does anyone else have any information on this? Do you think a deli in the Georgetown area will do a good business?

March Madness: Where will you be watching?

I've never been a huge college basketball fan, as basketball ranks a distant third to football and baseball in my sports hierarchy.

However, as my mighty AU Eagles have finally, after more than 80 years of playing basketball, and almost 50 of playing Division I ball, made it to the NCAA tournament, I now have a personal reason to watch.

I've never been much of a going to a sports bar kind of guy, but I know people will flock in droves to their local spots.

Where is your favorite place to catch a game? What do you look for in a sports bar?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What I'm Reading: That Guy at the Bar

Yet another food blog I've found through Metrocurean, That Guy at the Bar does restaurant news, reviews, and something I've been wanting to do for a long time, restaurant bathroom reviews!

Check it out, it'll be on my "Produce Section" list from here on out.

Three words..."Pig-N-Steak"

Apples and I both live in Arlington, Virginia. Minutes from Washington DC, within an hour from three international airports, the world is at our collective fingertips.

Yet, with all of the comforts of a major city, it seems that the country always seems to pull us away. It did when I visited Apples in Northampton, and it has since Apples moved down to VA.

This past weekend we traveled down to Charlottesville, taking I-66 down to Route 29, which allowed us to run parallel the mountains of Shenandoah National Park. There's a number of small towns along 29 leading to Charlottesville, but it's mostly open stretches of road flanked by cows and rotted out buildings.

To be honest, we really didn't spend enough time in Charlottesville to really determine its worth as a food town. We took a stroll through their downtown mallish area, which was full of small independent restaurants.

We ended up at a small Japanese place, Miyako, for sushi with our hosts, who were both incredibly gracious. Miyako was exactly what you'd think it'd be; fairly standard, decent sushi that was probably overpriced for Charlottesville (or DC even).

There was a small Chinese dumpling and noodles place in the same center (along the main street mallish area) that, in retrospect, we should have gone to. Next time.

This morning we ended up at the Tip Top Diner, a little outside the city. Close your eyes and imagine a small diner in the mountains of western Virginia...yep, that's exactly what it looked like. The french toast may have contained bread, or bread byproducts at some point, the eggs, well there was nothing cage free or farm fresh about them, and the grits, they contained enough butter to kill a small town. But damn was it all tasty.

I don't know how long Tip Top has been there, but it'll be there for twice as long, or as long as Charlottesville stands - and that's the way it should be.

Heading back home today, the plan was to stop in Culpepper, home of one of our favorite restaurants, It's About Thyme, and get a bite to eat. But after walking around and not finding anything open, we decided to hit the road again and head north.

For us north meant Warrenton, which on first glance looked an awful lot like Culpepper; a lot of brick, a lot of antiques, lots of small restaurants that are closed on Sundays.

Our plan driving up was to stop and get some BBQ at Smokie Joe's Cafe. Right downtown, it seemed to have all of the trappings of a quality BBQ joint. "Smokie" was spelled wrong, there was a pig on the sign, and we were out in the middle of nowhere. How could we go wrong.

Oh but we did. The place looked more like an empty jazz club than a BBQ restaurant. We left dazed, confused, and hungry. Luckily we had a plan B. in the local Main Street Bistro.

In following our trend of mediocre food, we got some basic hamburger and chicken sandwichness and went on about our business.

The greatest disappointment for us was passing up what could have been the culinary event of the year, the "Pig-N-Steak" in Madison County. How do we know this? Look at the menu. That my friends is BBQ. Plus, it probably has the best name of any restaurant I've ever seen (aside from maybe the Chick-N-Trout outside of Baltimore).

For a twenty four hour vacation we ate an awful lot, and I must say we were pretty disappointed with most of it. However, as Apples pointed out, we're spoiled living in DC. We've got a top five, very diverse food city at our disposal with hundreds of quality restaurants to choose from.

That's not to say that everything out there isn't up to DC's standard, it's just to say that next time, we'll be doing our homework...and our first stop, Pig-N-Steak.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Noodles and Co. Comes to Ballston

Taking the place of Chicken Out near the Ballston Mall's main entrance, Noodles and Co. opened today to what seemed to be a fairly large crowd on a near picture perfect day.

Noodles and Co. has a number of locations throughout the DC area, and it will be interesting to see if they can pull in more customers than the normally empty Chicken Out.

My guess is that initially you'll see a surge of business by those who will want to give it a shot, but in the long run, you'll see Noodles and Co. lose out to Vapiano down the street, and other restaurants like Panera and Rock Bottom already in the mall.

I've never been much for mall dining (except for Sbarro's, which is a guilty pleasure), but I'd like to see something, anything do a better business there than Chicken Out (which I've been a fan of since 7th grade) did.

The Ballston area is an oddity when it comes to food. Most of the people, like myself, who live in the area, are willing to bypass local options in favor of DC based restaurants. I don't think Noodles and Co. will reverse that trend, but it may keep a handful of people closer to home.

Apples and Bananas go on vacation

We're getting out of town tonight and going to visit a friend in Charlottesville, VA.

No idea what we're doing for food, but no doubt we'll be eating well while we're there.

If you've got any suggestions, let us know.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You can feel it

What a dichotomy.

Last night started off with dinner at Palena Cafe with Apples, Tweaks, and Meat. Everyone had the cheeseburger and walked away very happy. Palena is one of my favorite restaurants because for a top ten place, it's not pretentious - you never feel out of place there, even when you're wearing jeans and a polo (like I was).

Last night ended at a restaurant that I won't name near Farragut Square. Now I've been here before, a couple times, and honestly like the food, but I've always felt as if there was something off.

This was Apple's first time here, and her first question was, "What's up with the ropes?", referring to the two leather ropes outside the door in an attempt to make the place look fancier than it actually is.

We took a seat at a bar, and after some eavesdropping, found out that the bartender just put in his two weeks, and was actually talking to one of the other patrons, who was definitely industry, about getting hooked up with a new gig.

The restaurant itself was quiet. Maybe a quarter of the tables, if that, were filled. And while our drinks were both very good, the bar was half empty, which I thought was odd for a place in a central location at 8pm on a week night.

The difference between Palena and this unnamed restaurant couldn't be more clear. Palena was alive, filled with punks like us and people who you'd expect to be at a James Beard Award winning restaurant. The other restaurant was nearly silent, with only a few people sitting down to hastily decided upon meals.

Sitting at the bar of the second restaurant, whispering quietly so the bartender or wait staff could hear me, I made a prediction to Apples; "This place is going to close soon". It's sad, especially coming from a restaurant which will be open as long as it wants to be. You don't have to look at the books, or count the people at the tables, Farragut Square will soon be out one restaurant - you can feel it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Look - Ray's the Steaks

I can't begin to tell you how long I've been waiting for this. Years, almost as long as I've lived in DC. Even before I even cared about food I wanted to go, it was my finish line...and Saturday, I got there.

Ray's the Steaks is a mecca of meat, it's a shrine to real food made right, and it's nod to a simpler time when the food on your plate, not the decor on your walls made your restaurant.

If you walk in thinking Ray's is going to be like Ruth's Chris or Morton's, you need to turn around and go home. Unlike its chain counterparts, Ray's doesn't take reservations (which is a double edged sword), and doesn't have overly dressed waiters displaying pieces of meat to you in grand demonstrations.

What you'll get is a small room with nothing on the walls, waiters and waitresses who don't mess around, and food that's actually under-priced.

You'll start off with a small bowl of spicy cashews which they need to package and sell (much in the way Michel Richard needs to market those chicken nuggets of his), because I'd buy them by the ton.

The wine list is ample, but not overwhelming, and the glass of Cabernet Sauvignon that my father and I both had was fantastic.

Everyone (Apples, my father, and I) started off with a bowl of soup. The French onion was incredibly flavorful and appropriately cheesy; again, something I could eat by the gallon. Apples and dad got the lobster bisque which was a cup of creamy goodness, yet was pleasantly light.

But the real star of the show was the meat. My father and I got the hanger steak. I had never had hanger steak before, but I've known that I wanted my first experience to be here. I'm so glad I waited.

Unlike in other steakhouses, the steak here didn't come out in a pool of butter, it was clean, incredibly flavorful, and cooked exactly how I wanted it.

Apples got the petite filet, which I thought was as good, if not better than any other filet I've ever had.

Complimentary with your steaks is a creamed spinach that again, actually tasted like spinach and not like butter and cream, and mashed potatoes that were wonderful clouds of potato-y goodness.

Unfortunately we didn't stick around for dessert, which I don't regret because we were plenty full when we left. Though if there was one regret walking out, it was that I waited so long before going; that's not a mistake I'm going to make again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Food Day: The really, really, really short version

Happy food day folks! Let's get to it:

So how much do you tip a chef? - Story from the NYT about the increasing number of chefs moonlighting as waiters in their own restaurants.

Mad about March: Looking to sit down and watch some college basketball? Arizona Central has enough dip recipes to last you until the Final Four.

For when you run out of food coloring: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has some St. Patrick's Day idea that doesn't involve PBR and food coloring.

Inside edition: Chefs are bloggers too? The LA Times says so. Does this mean I can be a chef? Probs not.

Oh yeah, and a little more than 6 hours to Top Chef!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Programming Note

Hey there food fans - a quick apology for not keeping up with the posts, but sixteen hour days at work this week are kicking my ass.

But hey, who cares about that when you've got Top Chef starting again tomorrow?!?!

So what do I expect? Pretty much the same exact thing at last season. Looking at the bios, it looks like they found the stunt doubles of all of the power players from season three.

Need another cocky Asian guy? They've got Dale. Need another guy with a fauxhawk? They've got Richard. Need another cute girl who looks like she just walked off the Smith campus (and who Apples and I will probably vote for)? They've got Lisa.

Frankly, I don't care if they just show reruns of last season, Apples and I will watch it obsessively and write about it.

So bring it on Bravo, I won't be ready to pack my knives up and go home for a good long time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No such thing as a cheap lunch

It's times like this where I'm happy that I'm one person, and not a family of four. Why? Because the cost of feeding a family a four is rising at the fastest rate in the past twenty years.

According to a Boston Globe article, "Milk prices...increased 26 percent over the year. Egg prices jumped 40 percent" and "Food accounts for about 13 percent of household spending compared with about 4 percent for gas."

So what does this mean? It means that a quarter of spending for an average family is rising at a rate we haven't seen since the heady days of the H.W. Bush.

So what's causing this spike in prices? You guessed it, oil. It costs more money to package and transport food than ever before, and the increased demand for corn (due to ethanol) has driven its price up.

So what to do? I'd imagine that buying local, from farmers markets, would help, as you're not paying for a whole lot of packaging or transportation costs.

Beyond that? Hey, I'm a blogger, not a economist.

What do you think should be done to address this problem? Have you been affected by the rise in prices? Has this changed the way you eat?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Food = Gifts?

So I've going to a housewarming party at a fellow blogger's house tonight and I want to bring a gift. Usually I'll just bring a bottle of wine (and will most likely do so tonight), but what other food products or food related items are good for such an occassion?

If you bring wine, how expensive is too expensive (or too cheap)?

Let's hear it folks. Who has some great ideas out there?

Apples Round-Up

Guest blogger time! Although I'm not really a guest, I guess, since goodness knows my opinions sneak their way in here often enough. But, there's nothing I like more than the time and space to say my piece, so here we go.

First: East Street Cafe. I stopped in to this little Union Station spot for a quick bite between meetings on Wednesday. (Side note: when did I become grown-up enough to "grab a bite" "between meetings"?!? That's just wrong.) The only other time I was at East Street was between interviews at a big job fair over a year ago, and while I wasn't wild about it then, I chalked it up to pre-interview nerves and gave it another chance. And that, my friends, was my first mistake. East Street is a nice place to eat by oneself, because the seating area is basically on the floor of the station and isn't enclosed; the people watching is both abundant and abundantly entertaining. Their menu is a mish-mash of "Asian" foods-- most dishes are labeled with their country of origin, which I suppose is an attempt to lend a little credibility to their authenticity. But like Bananas' issue with the Cheesecake Factory and malady characterized by a too-ambitious menu (Cheesecake Factory Syndrome, or CFS, for short), I think East Street may have bitten off more then they could chew. I started with a Thai iced tea, which was fine, I guess, but was lacking that really good smokey flavor (and the undoubtedly artificial but no less necessary orange hue) that really characterizes the drink. My tempera appetizer was heavily battered and not quite crispy, but it was decently sized and the mushrooms were tasty. But the summer rolls-- oh, the summer rolls-- were gross. Just gross. Like, I didn't finish them. Usually summer rolls are a fresh combo of julienned veggies and herbs and noodles wrapped tightly in an unobtrusive rice paper skin. These were big chunks of unidentified (potentially) vegetal matter inside egg crepes (not right!) with a sweet, sticky sauce that just ruined the whole effect. This was probably the second time I've ever wanted to tell the waitress to take something off my bill (the first being those awful onion rings at Hard Times). But I didn't, because I'm spineless. Sweet.

Second: free lunch today at Artie's! One of my coworkers "won" one of those silly Ameriprise promotional deals, where we just had some uncomfortable-looking guy named Shane or Sean come and talk at us about retirement and saving and investment for a few minutes while we ordered our lunch, and then he left and we ate for free! Woo! Artie's is one of the Great American Restaurants that everyone (even Tom) seems to like, and I'm not going to argue with everyone. Today I went "lite" (nothing is ever really "lite" at Artie's, which is why we like it) and had a bowl of lobster bisque-- creamy, chunky with meat, lovely-- and my favorite salad of spring greens, candied walnuts, craisins, dates, and a big hunk of so-lightly-breaded goat cheese that I'm sure you're supposed to break up into the salad but which I always leave until the very last bites. Tasty!

Third (I am going in no discernible order): Lebanese Taverna in Pentagon Row. Eh. Not as good as other trips have been. The fried shrimp was just fried shrimp, my stuffed baby eggplant were too cold and didn't come with the usual tangy yogurt, and the bread was seriously sub-par. Must have been an off night.

Alrighty, I think that's all I've got for now. But with Bananas having real work to do and what not, I might be barging in here more often. Bananas, that ok with you?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Love Letter

Dear Naan and Beyond,

Hi. I'm not going to mince words here, I want you. I want you bad. Your tandori chicken sandwich thing I had for lunch today was amazing. Chicken, cabbage, and tomatoes all wrapped up in wonderful naan bread? Yes please, and give me seconds.

Also, your mint and mango chutney, simply wonderful.

You're so cost effective, so delicious, and so close to my office. Be mine, forever.



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Food Day: Food Flashback Edition

Happy food day folks (for the next hour). I didn't/won't have time to go through the big food stories of the day, chief of which being the current battle over foie gras in Maryland, but I did eat somewhere tonight I haven't been in years - TDR.

For most of you, that probably doesn't mean a thing, but if you went to American University, it almost means everything. The Terrace Dining Room (AU doesn't have basements, just terraces) serves as the cafeteria and primary social center on campus. Honestly, I was never a huge fan, but I was kind of excited to see what has changed in the three years since I've last visited.

The verdict? Not a whole lot. I was surprised that even as an alumni (for whom there's no discount, which I think is BS), I had to pay $12.75, but the surprises stopped there.

Everything is where it was, and where it probably always will be. Yes you can't scoop your own ice cream anymore (it's a health hazard according to the administrator I was eating with), but it's still the same all you can eat crap I remembered...and I love it.

It can't touch the quality of the food at Smith (where Apples went to school), or the size of the dining hall at Notre Dame (where my BFF Mike went to school), but it does the job, and I know that when I visit again in three years, I'll still know where the ice cream is.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Baseball: Now with 42% more chilidogs

A few days ago I wrote about the consessions at the new Nationals Park, and since I just bought my first tickets (for the Nats v. Marlins game on April 7th) for the season I figured I'd do a little follow up.

You'll find two articles about food at the park in tomorrow's Washington Post; one about where to find your favorite food (see below), and one about food diversity and pricing (you'll be actually paying less for a chili dog from Hard Times Cafe at the stadium than you would at the restaurant).

Overall, I'm really excited to check out this new park. I've watched it being built and it'll be a vast improvement over RFK. However, I still think you need something aside from hot dogs, which you can get in some form or another at four of the the eleven independent vendors.

If you could choose a twelvth vendor, who would it be? What kind of food would they serve?

Monday, March 3, 2008

What I'm Reading: Detica Diehard Foodies Inc

It's only a few weeks old, but I'm a big fan of this new blog with a ton of promise. You'll find restaurant reviews and notes from DC and the DC area. I hope they stick with it.

Click here to visit.

I'll take two dogs and a presidential endorsement

I always love it when my two top interests find a way to merge, and I can't think of a tastier story than this.

Nicholas A. B. Gray, the founder and owner of Gray's Papaya, a NYC based hotdog chain (which I wish would come to DC), has endorsed Barack Obama in a big putting up a huge sign on his Broadway and 72nd St store.

Gray's track record is mixed at best, endorsing Jimmy Carter in 1976, Bill Bradley in 1999, and encouraging current NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg to run for President this past year.

Regardless of your politics, it's great to see more people than ever getting involved. Now I only wonder if Obama wins it all, if he'll stop by Gray's for a victory dog.

My snobbery takes another hit

At one point (two weeks ago), I would have completely sworn off The Melting Pot as a huge chain restaurant that's grossly overpriced.

Well yes, it's a huge chain restaurant, and it's over priced. But the food there is pretty decent, plus, it's a great place to get a large group together.

Your thoughts? Have you been to The Melting Pot?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Oh yeah, and the last supper...that was me too.

Sir Robert Irvine hosts "Kitchen:Impossible" on the Food Network.

This statement would be true if you read this yesterday, because it won't tomorrow according to a story from the Guardian.

It seems that Irvine is, well, not all he's made himself out to be. First of all, he isn't a Royal Knight, he's never cooked for Royalty or for US Presidents, and he wasn't discovered by Prince Charles.

So yeah, Kitchen: Impossible? Try kitchen it's going to be impossible to get a job now you lying, no-talent hack.

But hey, at least we know now why all of his food looked horrible.