Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Jersey Considers Fast Food Tax...

...well, not really.

According to government officials, it's something that was mentioned as a way to fund struggling hospitals, but no measure has actually be put before the NJ legislature.

The vast majority of the people interviewed in this local NBC affiliate segment were against it, but then again they all had McDonald's bags in their hands.

This is one of those instances (and these will increase if the economy keeps going in its current direction), where politics and food meet. The number of cases of heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments have a direct correlation with the way we've been eating in the past four or five decades, and if an extra five cents on each Big Mac can go towards offsetting the costs of treating these diseases, go right ahead. If an extra five cents on a Whopper can go towards prevention costs, go right ahead. And, if an extra five cents can convince a young mother or father to go to the store or the local farmers market and buy some veggies, please New Jersey, go right ahead.

You're the Garden State, not the drive thru state - start acting like it.

Food Day: Sick and home edition

Happy food day's what's going on in the world of food (the really short version):

You have to break a few eggs: A NYT article about a surprising way to save animals/plants from extinction.

Salmon Story: This Columbus Dispatch article shows why our favorite fish may be more of a luxury than we think.

Frugal Flavors: It seems like the latest trend in local paper's food sections is how to make a good meal on the cheap. Here's the Orlando Sentinel's take.

Feeling Progress: A very uplifting story from Tampa Bay about the increase in restaurant menus for the blind.

Father Knows Best... least mine does. Below is his response to my last post.


I am very happy you are eating healthy, but when it come to sausage, pork rules. Let me go down the list of thing I see wrong with your sandwich. Fake sausage is like taking grape soda to a wine tasting, it looks ok, but not for me. The bread, the bread looks soft, it need to be crisp. More onions and peppers, other than that it looks fine. There is nothing like real sausage, the only way it will hurt you is if it is tied to a bomb. Just remember what your grandfather Bernie always said, everything in moderation. One last thing, sauce is ok but no cheese, why does everyone think because it's Italian it has to have cheese on it. When you come home we will make some subs.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Old Favorite, New Again

My father, who reads this blog every night, can attest to this: growing up, my favorite meal was sausage subs with onions and peppers. Whenever we'd go to the Dade County Fair, or it was my birthday, the true guido in me would come out and I'd ask for sausage and peppers.

Last night I had a hankering for my favorite dish, but since I'm almost off of meat, I had to look for a veggie alternative. Thankfully the folks at Lightlife have a veggie Italian sausage that's actually really tasty, and very healthy.

I combined the sausages with some fresh rolls from Whole Foods, Newman's Own sauce, mozzarella cheese, and some organic onion and mushrooms for a great, healthy, organic alternative to my childhood favorite.

So, are there any old favorites of yours that you've changed to fit any new eating habits you may have acquired over the years?

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day is Today

Go forth and help celebrate the 30th birthday of a chain I can actually get behind by eating some free ice cream.

So, how many of you plan on braving the lines this year and getting some great ice cream?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekly Website: Polyface Farms

Today's Weekly Website looks at the website for Polyface Farms, the way ahead of it's time farm owned and operated by Joel Salatin, and made famous by Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, this farm produces everything from chickens to cows to even rabbits, and even has transformed a nearby forest into a green lumber yard.

The website allows you to find a time to set up a tour of the farms, buy one of Joel's many books, or even see which restaurants carry Polyface's products.

This isn't just a very user friendly website, but this is a great farm with great ideas, so please, if you have a moment today, visit this website. I guarantee you'll learn something.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tackle Box Opens in Georgetown

According to the boards on, it looks like Barton Seaver's second Georgetown venture, Tackle Box, opened yesterday.

Some of the items on the menu include the "Maine Meal", which includes a fish, two sides and a sauce, fried clams and oysters, and mac & cheese.

But best of all, they'll be open until 2am on weekends, which makes it a great addition to a neighborhood dominated by Quick Pita (at least in my opinion) for late night eats.

Friday, April 25, 2008

They just want the bacon!

Don't we all?

Evidently the fine folks in the Los Angeles city government don't.

Check out this great feature by Reason TV

Cheesecake Factory will save the economy

Turn on the news tonight and you'll notice that things, well...they aren't good. But have no fear, because next week the government's economic stimulus package checks go out.

But the big question is, what will Americans do with their money?

Spend it at the Cheesecake Factory according to the NBC Nightly News tonight.

Yep, we're at risk of a recession and the only thing that can save us is over-priced, over-portioned, over-rated food.

So loyal reader(s), where do you plan on spending your stimulus money?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pete's Apizza Opens in Columbia Heights on Monday

From the forums of, it looks like Pete's Apizza, a New Haven style pizza joint will be opening this Monday.

There menu will not only feature pizza, but salads, panini's, pasta, and desserts - most for under $10.

The pizza however will be near $20 for an eighteen inch pie, with slices sold for anywhere from $2.50 to $3.25. They'll also have something I've never seen before, and something I'm quite happy about (not because I need it, but because it's good to see everyone getting a slice (pardon the pun)), gluten free pizza.

If it's a success, Pete's Apizza will be another big addition to the hottest new food neighborhood in DC - Columbia Heights.

So, will you give Pete's a shot? Or do you think pizza is so last year?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A good reason to talk with your mouth full

My first blog was a political one. Since I wrote my first lines for that blog (it was a Xenga I believe) years ago, my politics and my interests have changed.

One of the things that drove me to food was its relative frivolity. For all of the "importance" of local and national trends, of what hot new restaurant was living up to its rep, or of what fast food dish was going to make the "Fatty Fridays" column, it usually couldn't hold a candle to the real life significance of actual policy issues.

Well today food isn't just about assigning a number of stars based on a restaurant's worth. We are on the verge of a global food crisis the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime.

Yes, we have seen isolated instances of starvation. We have seen it in Haiti before. We have seen it in Africa before. But we've never seen it in Japan, and we've certainly never seen it in this country.

Now I'm not saying that the East Coast is going to look like East Africa any time soon. I'm not saying that we're going to run out of food. What I am saying is we're about to see a fundamental way in the way that we look at what we eat.

The price of rice is up over 120 percent in the past year, wheat is up over almost 100 percent, and other commodities from coffee to corn are up by significant amounts.

Food that we once took for granted as cheap and easily attainable is going to be significantly less so, and these changes will force us to make a choice.

We can lower our standards, find cheaper food through any means necessary, and continue to consume the way we have in the past. Or we can change our ways. We can work towards eating local, and reestablish the balance in what we eat, how we eat, and how we produce and acquire our food.

This is an issue that will undoubtedly become political, and will undoubtedly spark further debate. I just hope that those who have this debate with their mouths full will remember that there are many with nothing but an empty plate in front of them, and unless this issue is addressed soon on a global level those empty plates are going to lead to a significant problem.

Hello Cupcake! Goodbye Diet!

Off the forums of, it looks like DC will get another cupcake restaurant this summer, and hopefully this one won't disappoint.

Hello Cupcake! will make, "gourmet cupcakes fresh and from scratch, all-day, everyday in our shop on Connecticut Avenue. Using highest quality, fresh, seasonal and local ingredients."

Hello Cupcake! will feature around twenty flavors, which will include, "24 Carrot", "triple coconut", and "peanut butter blossom".

Located in Dupont right on Connecticut Ave. NW, you can't get a better location, though it will be interesting to see if it competes directly with Krispy Kreme.

So, do you think that Hello Cupcake! can change DC's cupcake fortunes? Or do you think DC residents will still have to take the trip up to NYC for a worth while cupcake?

So is this why Hillary won?

I've always been a Dinty Moore fan myself.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gridskipper on top of last year's latest trends

I was pretty hard on Gridskipper recently after their horrible list of "overrated" restaurants in DC, but it looks like they redeemed themselves by jumping into a time machine and covering one of last year's hottest trends: tuna tartare.

For the record, I came out strongly against this dish last year (or maybe it was early this year) because it seemed that everyone was doing it, and using a fish that's decreasingly sustainable.

Also, and what really got me upset about this, the entire article is based off the premise that DC, "doesn't have an abundance of top-tier seafood restaurants".

Again, I must strongly disagree. Kinkead's, Hook, Hank's Oyster Bar, BlackSalt, and Johnny's Half Shell are all great restaurants with solid reputations, and those are only restaurants that just focus on seafood, not to mention the dozens of other restaurants in the city that just happen to do seafood well, but not focus on it.

As for the choices for the top tuna tartare in town? BLT Steak gets the top nod, and Zola gets second. DC Coast, Charlie Palmer Steak House, Peacock Cafe, Kinkead's, PS 7's, and Perry's round out the rest of the list.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Preview: Eventide Restaurant

“I just thought about what my friends and I wanted from a bar and restaurant and made it.”

It’s a simple statement, one that we’ve all thought about in the theoretical sense, and one that most of us will never even come close to acting upon.

But most of us aren’t Dave Pressley; most of us haven’t opened up restaurants like Clarendon Grill and Tallula, and most of us haven’t worked under uber chefs like Robert Weidmaier.

Pressley has paid his dues as a restaurant manager and chef and now looks to make his mark in the blossoming area of Clarendon. Accompanying Pressley are Pete Pflug and Nick Langman who are handling such details as the funding and the design of Eventide, and together with Pressley have created the vision behind the restaurant.

The location could hardly be better; across the street from a busy metro stop, in the middle of a growing Orange Line corridor, filled with youngsters and families looking for something beyond Cheesecake Factory or Harry’s Tap Room for a nice dinner, or a place to score drinks after a hard day’s work.

This is a location that has seen two major restaurants, Liberty Tavern and Restaurant 3 open in the past year, a location that Pressley feels has room for more.

While you’ll see a familiar contemporary American menu (which will be formally announced come May when his chef officially starts), Pressley tells me that his aim is to provide a downtown DC dining experience a bit closer to home for those who live in Arlington.

The ingredients will be, “the best available”, and the menu will change to reflect everything from what’s in season to the weather outside. It doesn’t make any sense, says Pressley, to serve a slew of cold salads on a freezing cold day, when most people want a nice warm bowl of soup.

While we won’t be able to officially determine whether or not the menu itself is enough to give Eventide the edge over its neighbors (it won’t be solidified until Summer), the atmosphere created by the way the space will be used will most certainly make an impression on guests. It is this atmosphere that Pressley hopes will put people in seats and keep them coming back.

The first floor will consist of a large bar area and about twenty tables for those who want to order off the bar menu, which Pressley states will most likely consist of “middle sized plates”, which will be bigger than an appetizer, yet smaller than an entrĂ©e.

The bar itself will be very much cocktail based, and will even be designed with bulges on the ends and in the middle to allow groups of three or four to actually look at each other and hold a conversation – a novel idea considering that most bars become “no-conversation zones”.

Heading up to the second level and the roof and you’ll see what’s going to set this restaurant a part from everything else in the area.

The second floor is very open, with high ceilings, large windows, and old brick walls that give the room a certain rustic charm. Pressley plans to section off the back portion into three sections with heavy curtains for private dining areas for about a dozen people each.

The menu for the second floor will be more formal than the one on the first, though you’ll still be able to order from either menu from wherever you sit

Taking a jaunt up to the roof, and you’ll get a peek at what will be the busiest part of Eventide. With a great view all the way down the Wilson Blvd. corridor and even a glimpse of the U.S. Capital and Washington Monument, the roof will be the first choice for anyone on a nice summer day. The roof will be split up into a bar area and a sectioned off sit down eating area, so those who want a nice quiet place to eat won’t have to contend with the rowdy masses.

It’s this versatility, both on the roof and on the two floors below that is Eventide’s strength. While it’s yet to be seen if their menu can truly set it apart from others in the area, this restaurant is already serving up some winning ideas. You’ll probably never open up a restaurant to fit your needs, but if Eventide lives up to its promise, you probably won’t have to.

Weekly Website: Slow Food International

In honor of Earth Day this week's Weekly Website is that for the organization, Slow Food International.

Founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and the lack of viable local food options, Slow Food International also promotes green eating and greater biodiversity.

If there's a website you'd like to see featured, leave a comment and I'll put it on the list of sites I'll be writing about.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Courthouse Farmers Market back in full force today

My favorite farmers market is back on its regular schedule today, so wake up, head out, and buy local!

Here are some of the vendors you'll see today:

Atwater Breads of Baltimore, MD
Naturally leavened, all-organic, hand-shaped, hearth-baked breads--many sourdough-based.

Blue Ridge Botanicals of Castleton, VA
Over 200 varieties of herb plants, perennials, ornamental grasses, and flowering shrubs.

Blue Ridge Dairy of Leesburg, VA
Mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, feta, and mascarpone cheeses, plus plain and honey yogurt and cultured butter.

Cibola Farms of Culpeper, VA
New to the market this season, this producer will sell bison and hog products.

D & S Farm of Charlotte Hall, MD
Fruit--including berries, peaches, blueberries, and blackberries--and greenhouse produce, including salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, summer squash, some herbs, and jams and jellies.

EcoFriendly Foods of Moneta, VA

"Grass-grown" beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and eggs from a cooperative of small farmers.

Endless Summer Harvest of Purcellville, VA
Hydroponic lettuce, greens, herbs, and select vegetables.

Fields of Grace Farm of Remington, VA
Aged cheeses, including five kinds of cheddar, smoked and regular gouda, feta, and flavored cheese curds.

Gardener's Gourmet, Inc., of Westminster, MD
Fresh vegetables and herbs, specializing in unusual, gourmet, baby, European, and heirloom varieties.

Granny's Gardens of Alexandria, VA
Locally grown perennials, specialty annuals, small flowering shrubs, and a few vegetables.

J-Wen Farms of Harrrisonville, PA
This recent addition to the market sells milk, eggs, and butter.

LandovEl Farm of Fork Union, VA
Selling "the Holy GraEl" of sorbets, made from raw fruits, sugar, and water.

Laurel Grove Farm of Oak Grove, VA
Flowers, many kinds of vegetables, and herbs.

Liles Honey of Arlington, VA
Honey from bees that pollinate the fruits, vegetables, and flowers on Virginia farms.

Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms of West Grove, PA

Fresh (and dried) mushrooms like porcini, portobello, hen of the woods, morels, trumpets, and more.

Musachio Produce Farm of Ridgely, MD
First potted and bedding plants, then fruits and vegetables.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fatty Fridays: 3x the Fat

If you're reading this and you're in Washington DC, shame on you, you should be outside. But if you were reading this and you were in Japan, I'd suggest you go to the closest McDonald's and pick yourself up one of their new "Mega Mac" sandwiches.

There are three sandwiches, one for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner; all of them belong in the fatty hall of fame.

The breakfast Mega Mac has egg, cheese, sausage, and what looks like bacon. The lunch version looks just like a Big Mac, but with double the meat - as if the Big Mac was lacking in the meat, and the dinner version is some sort of Teriyaki burger.

A blogger in Japan ate all three in one day and states, "If the Mega Mac continues to be as popular and regular in Japan as it is now, then no longer will Japan boast of slim waifs and long lived centurions. They will soon have the same problem than many nations around the world have with their quickly expanding obese and overweight population."

Let's hope that's not the case.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Lesson in Prior Restraint

If you've never seen a movie at the Arlington Cinema and Draft house, you're really missing out. It's a great venue where you can kick back, have a few drinks, and often watch a good movie.

Tonight I'm going to my second, "Dude Fest", a celebration of all things Big Lebowski.

If you haven't already had tickets, you're out of luck, because they're sold out. But you can click here to see the menu at the draft house and start deciding what you'll get the next time you go.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Food Day: All over the place edition

Happy food day folks - here's the skinny in the world of food:

Pizzeria Paradiso Moving: Don't worry, the Dupont Circle location is just moving a block or so away to he Blaine Mansion at 2000 Mass. Ave. NW according to WaPo's Tom Sietsema in his weekly chat. The new location will have double the seats and will also offer a beer program. The targeted opening is this Fall.

Vote with your stomach: Everything these days has a political spin to it, and with the Pennsylvania Primary happening next week, every voter has been analyzed every which way...even down to what they eat..

The New York Times has a great article showing that what you eat and how you live may dictate who you support. Me? Well, I like trail running, grass-fed local beef, and farmers markets. That pretty much settles it.

Local restaurant makes a ton of money: Industry publication Restaurants & Institutions has its Top 100 Independent restaurant list out today. Coming in at number six, with almost $23 million in total sales in 2007, Old Ebbitt Grill.

Coming in at number three with almost $30 million in sales, my cousin's restaurant in Miami - Joe's Stone Crab.

The other kind of diet: Everyone seems to be on a diet these days, but how about one that benefits the Earth? This Boston Globe article explains it all.

Nothing to pass over: Passover is coming up, and there's a ton of articles about how to cook for this important holiday, including ones from the LA Times, Washington Post, Denver Post, and New York Times.

That's all for now folks. Have a great day!

What the Pope won't be eating tonight

Washington DC has Papal Fever as Pope Benedict XVI makes his visit to our fair town, and tonight there will be a dinner in his honor...unfortunately he won't be attending as he'll be at a prayer service with U.S. Bishops.

The dinner will be packed with plenty of celebrities though, including, "former Los Angeles Dodgers baseball manager Tommy Lasorda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner" and five Supreme Court justices (I'm sure you can guess which ones).

But now what we're all wondering about - what's for dinner. According to the AP report, "morel-encrusted diver scallops, spatzle, angel hair asparagus bisque, veal, white truffle-potato dumplings, carrots and mushrooms, lettuces and candied pumpkin seeds, squash carpaccio, pumpkin oil vinaigrette, raspberry crisp and mint coulis."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Overrated restaurant list is overrated claims itself as "the urban travel guide", looking at the best places to eat, drink, and visit in dozens of countries.

I've never really put a whole lot of stock into it as a resource, but this latest guide pretty much proves my reluctance.

A special thanks to Agatha for pointing it out to me, but Gridskipper is out with their list of DC's Most Overrated Restaurants.

First on the list is Lauriol Plaza, which I would have to agree with. The prices for what you're getting as far as quality are insane, but somehow they continue to pack 'em in.

Number two is Sequoia, which I've only had drinks at, but probably continues to thrive due to the fact that it's got one of the sweetest locations in DC, right on the water in Georgetown..

Ok, so those two make sense, but here's where the list really gets me. Number three is Central. CENTRAL! I mean, the New York Times just did a big write up on the place, it's up for a James Beard Award, it's probably the hottest restaurant in town!

So what was their rational behind adding Central to the list? "...all of DC assumed that [Central] would be a knock out. Not so much. One friend went so far as to describe the food as "meh". Any restaurant that charges $16 for a burger and $1 for cheese should not be described as "meh"."

Ok, so you're basing this on what "one friend" told you? How about this, go to the damn restaurant and try it yourself. How about being an actual journalist and not just using hear say to include a restaurant in a list like this. It's irresponsible and not fair to a man and a brand that has earned its reputation.

I'd like to skip on to number six on the list, Jaleo. The gridskipper writer claims that Jaleo is, "stuck in the 90's" and the food as "boring". Tell that to the James Beard Foundation who just nominated Jose Andres for Outstanding Chef nationwide.

I don't know who writes or edits these things, but they need to rethink their profession. I know that James Beard Nominations don't exactly make a restaurant, but they're indicative of that restaurant's worth - and I can guarantee you that at least a third of that list is worth more than the sub par review that slammed them.

Shame on you gridskipper, next time, try asking two friends before you write negatively about a restaurant.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gastropub To Open In Columbia Heights

From the minds behind Hank’s Oyster Bar, DC's new "it" area, Columbia Heights will be the new home to CommonWealth, a new, "chef-driven, British inspired restaurant with a public house atmosphere."

CommonWealth will be located at the corner of Irving St. NW and 14th St NW in the heart of Columbia Heights, and will, "create a gathering place in the neighborhood of Columbia Heights, a place to relax and nourish one’s self with farm-to-table fare."

The menu will include such British classics as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and steak and Guinness pie, as well as a weekly "Sunday Roast" meal.

The restaurant will sit 150 with a private dining room for 30, and room for 40 on the outdoor patio.

CommonWealth will be open sometime mid-summer, and will be open Tuesday through Sunday.

Weekly Website: Food & Watch Watch

A new feature I'm going to start running on a weekly basis is a "weekly website" that highlights an issue in food or just food in general. This will give me a chance to highlight those sites that I don't have links to, but still are worth reading.

Today's website is that for the organization, Food & Water Watch. This DC based NGO focuses on ensuring that the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe is the safe and sustainable.

Food & Water Watch also has two blogs, Smorgasbord and SnackCast that are updated quite often.

Let me know if there's a website out there you'd want me to feature. I hope to keep this a regular Monday feature.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Runners need to eat too

If I could blog about anything aside from food, that anything would probably be running. Last year I ran more races than I care to count, and I have a wall full of race bibs above my bed. Last October though, that all came to an abrupt end when I tore my ACL in my right knee.

Well with a lot of care and probably a ton of luck, my knee has fully recovered and I'm back on the road. Luckily Apples, who is by far the superior runner, has decided to join me and signed up for the Army Ten Miler in October.

Part of our training is going to be eating better, so if you're getting ready for the summer race season, here are some great recipes to help you cut down your waste line and your PR.

The Army Ten-Miler site actually has some quality dishes contributed by actual runners, and the Runner's World website has a TON of recipes that range from a "American Kobe Beef Roll" to salmon gyros.

So, you runners out there, what's your favorite pre-race meal? What do you like to eat to stay in shape?

Photo Courtesy DC Road Runners - it's me about to cross the finish line at a 5k last year.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Mango Madness" Coming to Washington DC

Looking to satisfy that mango fix of yours? Not quite sure where to do it? Well all throughout the month of May you'll have that chance at Penn Quarter's Rasika during their "Mango Madness" special.

As a part of this special, Chef Vikram Sunderam has devised a special menu that includes such dishes as "Tawa Tuna with Mango Chutney", "Puffed Rice and Raw Mango Chaat", and "Mango Coconut Kadi".

In addition to these dishes, Sunderam will also feature mango desserts and a mango inspired martini.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If you could open a restaurant...

...that's a question that always sparks a conversation. Apples and I had lunch today at our favorite sushi place in Courthouse and the light bulbs were flashing everywhere.

We should open up a restaurant that serves those wonderful home remedies that your mother gave you when you were sick growing up. Have a cold? Not feeling well? We're the place for you.

We'd serve chicken soup, pho, udon noodles, sorbet, ginger ale, and all those other wonderful dishes from around the world that moms use to make their kids feel better.

We decided that "Achoo!" would be the best name for the restaurant, and boxes of tissues would decorate the table.

So, would you go to Achoo! to recover from your cold, or just to get a quick meal?

What kind of restaurant would you open?

Photo courtesy: NBC

Food Day - Short and Sick Edition

Happy food day folks! I'm sick, so this is going to be, here you go.

A classic turns 30: The Washington Post takes a look at the birthday of one of the finest restaurants in the country: The Inn at Little Washington.

Not your average college food
: With more kids than ever going to college, schools are pulling out all the stops to attract top talent. According to this New York Times story, that includes gourmet food.

Beyond Brats: It looks like DC isn't the only city revamping their baseball team's dining lineup, check out this Denver Post article to see what other teams are doing.

What's in a name?
: If that name is Rhubarb, endless possibilities. Check out this LA Times article or this Philly Inquirer article to see what some of them are.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Another reason to welcome the Spring

Looking for another reason to go out once the weather decides to realize that it's Spring? Well it looks like some of the best restaurants in the city have some great options to eat outside.

West End's Blue Duck Tavern's 40 seat garden terrace can be enjoyed with new spring cocktails such as a "Pomegranate Thyme Martini" or a "Pineapple Sage Martini", while Brasserie Beck's new patio can accommodate up to 70 guests at their 11th and K NW location.

Looking for a nice outdoor brunch? Perhaps you could grab one of the twenty seats at Hank's Oyster Bar, or hop up to the roof at Ardeo/Bardeo for the weekend Sunday Champagne brunch.

What's your favorite place in the city to eat outside? When given the choice, do you eat outside or inside?

Free Starbucks Coffee Today...

...for a half hour. A special thanks to my friend Polson for the heads up on this.

Go forth caffeine addicts, and drink from the great green bosom that is one of your two dozen neighborhood Starbucks.

Below is the Reuters story announcing this deal:

April 8, 2008 -- LOS ANGELES - In a bid to reinvigorate lackluster sales, Starbucks will introduce an everyday brew called Pike Place Roast today, and for 30 minutes will hand out free 8-ounce samples.

Free cups of the new coffee, which the company said has a smoother flavor and finish, will be available starting at noon (EDT) at all of Starbucks' 7,100 company-operated stores in the United States.

The new, ole ball game: A look at Nationals Park

It certainly didn't feel like baseball. It was cold, it was gray, and to quote one of the folks at the park, "This shit is football weather."

But I'd have to say that it looked like baseball, and it was good. The new Nationals Park is really something, a vast improvement over RFK in all aspects. The park is more democratic in the sense that everyone, from section 101 to section 401 has a great view.

The food options are probably the most noticeable change from RFK. Gone are the dark innards of the stadium filled with crappy Aramark food. You'll notice the walk ways are open and better lit, filled with a number of great park concession options (all with funny names like Senator's Sausages and Steak of the Union) and all of those local options I've written about.

Right near the main entrance (if you're coming in from the Navy Yard Metro) is Hard Times, Boardwalk Fries, Red Hot & Blue, and Noah's Pretzels, plus a few beer stands.

Down the walk way from these options is Ben's Chili Bowl, which had by far the longest line.

Apples and I opted on the cheap and senseable option and brought a tuna sub and some potato salad into the park, which was a great option. And even though you could bring your own food in, I didn't see anyone else with their own food.

The weather might have been cold (see below), and the stadium might have only been half full, but I must say I'm a fan of this new stadium.

The stadium isn't the only change though. Walking from Navy Yard to the stadium you'll see where progress is being made. Restaurants, businesses, and apartments and condos are going up at a rapid rate, and will soon form an area that will draw people in even without the promise of a baseball game (unlike RFK), and will hopefully inevitably lead to higher attendance and interest in this team.

The changes both in the area and in the quality of the park are startling when put up against RFK and the armory area, I only hope that the team can improve with its surroundings.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Let there be bread!

Apples and I cook whenever we can, but in the near two and a half years we've been together, I don't think we've ever baked anything. Baking, for the most part, requires that directions be followed, something that neither of us are very good at.

But through a random conversation a few weeks ago, we figured that maybe we should start making our own bread, and Apples took the initiative and got us a bread maker - last night we tried it out for the first time on a loaf of Rosemary bread.

The results were amazing, the process was frustrating. I, as stated above, didn't read the directions and just started dumping ingredients into the mixer, and ended up putting in way too much sugar and salt. I then dumped it out and started over, only then realizing that I didn't put the stirring blade in, and had to put it in a few minutes after I turned it on.

Three hours later, and after a lot of watching, we actually had a loaf of bread, and I was shocked how well it turned out.

The crust was nice, golden and crisp. Inside the bread was light and airy and the Rosemary really came through.

Feeling quite adventurous we've decided to start making our own pickles now. If we can only cure our own meat, we'd have ourselves an awfully good sandwich.

Friday, April 4, 2008

First Look: Mexicali Blues

There's something to be said for solid food. For food that may not be gourmet, may not come to your table with fancy plating, but just does the job.

This area is filled with places like that, and one of them is Mexicali Blues in Clarendon.

Apples and I went last night, it was my first time but she's been a number of times before. The rain pretty much cut seating capacity in half, so it filled up pretty quick.

We started with drinks. Mexicali has some great appetizer and drink specials - with buy one/get one apps and $2 beers and $1 all drinks until 7pm.

Like most Mexican restaurants you'll start off with chips and salsa. The chips are right out of a bag, and the salsa right out of a jar, but again, did the job. We got some guac to go along with it and I thought it was very well made.

We also got the Platanos Fritos which was served with beans and sour cream and I thought was fantastic.

For our entrees, Apples got a shrimp burrito (which they call Burros), and I got one of each item under the "Salvadorean Specialties" portion of the menu. This consisted of a bean and cheese pupusa, a Tamal de Elote, and a tamale.

The pupusa was a little disappointing (too greasy), but the Tamal and tamale certainly made up for it - both very flavorful and fresh.

This is a restaurant with a lot of potential in an area with few decent ethnic options. They're in the process of expanding to take over the empty storefront next door which will give them more seating and a more open eating environment.

Mexicali Blues is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year; it's stayed open so long not because it's fancy, not because it's got a great atmosphere, but because it serves good food at a great price, and that's good enough for me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What goes in, must come out...

I had a very interesting conversation last night with a random while I was in line for the bathroom at Matchbox.

If you've never been to this Chinatown restaurant, the bathrooms only fit one person, which, can be a problem if you've got dozens of people at the bar plus a full restaurant.

My temporary conversation partner made a good point, "If you can fit more than sixty in a restaurant, you shouldn't have one person bathrooms."

Do you agree? Are you fine with single person restrooms, or do you like the industrial sized kind?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Love Letter: Tofu Dogs

Dear Lightlife Jumbo Smart Dogs,

When was the last time I told you I loved you? You're always there for me, ready to eat in two minutes. Full of protein, low in fat and calories, you've never let me down, not even a little bit.

I like to eat you with spicy mustard and some of that organic Heinz ketchup that tastes so good.

So please, don't end up like Skippy Natural and not be available at my Harris Teeter. I want you to be around for a long time.