Friday, June 27, 2008
Anyway, the Washington Post article this week in the Wed. food section, H is for Happening, went head over heels for the area.
I have nothing against this part of town. It has certainly received some much needed revitalization and my favorite Italian market is in that neck of the woods. But c'mon. The Post article went on at length about the area becoming a food destination. But quickly looking over the map provided with the article, all we see are 5 restaurants (with one being a bar/nightclub) in a half-mile stretch of H Street. The 5 other places highlighted have yet to open with a couple not expected to come on-line till 2010!
I don't get it. This neighborhood is on its way back, but it hardly should be considered a food destination just yet.
Now I am biased, but the offerings in SoCo well outnumber those in the Atlas District. But because we're about a mile north of the District line, we're considered some suburban backwater. It's always startling to hear folks from DC talking about a trip to SS - like they need to pack their passport and apply for a visa. I mean what, we're 15 minutes from Union Station on the red line and about 20 minutes from Metro Center.
But I'm not holding my breath for an S is for Smoking piece in an upcoming Post food section. Because what do we really have to offer - Italian, new American, Mexican/Salvadoran, Indian/Nepalese, Lebanese, Thai, Burmese, Ethiopian (and I'm not even including the spots on Hellsworth).
Maybe our hip quotient is not as high as the Atlas District, but man, what a joke. Perhaps we should take up a collection to rent the Post's food section staff a car and driver to take them into our neighborhood. Otherwise, I don't think they'll make it. Their loss.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
In walking by, you definitely see some improvements being made to the main dining room - new tables, etc. In October of 2007 an unexplained fire shuttered the restaurant. Nothing happened for months and I have to say my partner and I were quite disappointed. My-Le was one of the very few places in SoCo with outdoor dining. We always felt that on a cool summer evening, their deck was fab!
Over the last few years, it appeared My-Le ownership had changed hands several times. So it was not terribly surprising that things remained dormant for a while. For those who had dined at My-Le (or Kim Than, its original name) will know it was not much for the eyes, but the food rarely disappointed. I feel confident over the last decade plus I ordered every single vegetarian and fish entree the restaurant served up. And 99% of the time, enjoyed it. One of the more frustrating things was service. When the place started cranking, the 1-2 servers could not keep up and if the deck was full - you knew you'd be waiting a while.
But all in all, My-Le was a terrific bargain. You could order an app, a couple entrees and 1-2 of those wonderful 20 oz Fischers and get out for about $40 (with tip)! According to SS Penguin, the new place, Lotus Cafe, will specialize in Vietnamese and other pan-Asian dishes. This is not far off from what My-Le had served. It certainly wasn't all Vietnamese on their menu.
Well I certainly wish the new folks at Lotus the best of luck and look forward to their doors being open and sitting on their deck with a cold beer and a plate of hot noodles. Maybe soon - let's hope.
Friday, June 20, 2008
For all you Whole Foods shoppers in SoCo and beyond, I wanted to spread the word about where this chain buys many of its food products. This story was originally broke by the WJLA I-team last month in one of its many hard-hitting investigative stories. To see the TV story, click here.If you do watch, I really like the brief editorial by WJLA anchor Leon Harris. As the story begins he ponders, “Would you believe organically grown…in
If you didn’t get it – I am joking.
Back to the story. It was pretty amazing to find out the myriad countries from which Whole Foods purchases a lot of its goods. To see the entire list that WJLA obtained and from which its story was based, click here.
This is definitely a list the company would much rather keep internal.
It is true that Whole Foods often times does list country/state of origin on many of its items. But this does not seem to be consistent. And I do applaud Whole Foods for expanding its inventory of local vegetables and helping support local farmers. But I think it’s mainly trying to compete with our SS Saturday Farmers Market.
I would recommend reviewing the entire list. Many of the items are not surprising – OK, coffee from Central America and tea from
Well, I’ve gone on long enough here. But please take a look at the list. I think it’s empowering to find out the origins of the food we buy. If we don’t take the time to think about these issues now, it will be left to our offspring - who will likely be faced with an even bigger problem in the decades to come.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Well, I'm not in SoCo this weekend but still wanted to add a post. I'm north of the border in Ottawa with my partner visiting friends. We took a walk this morning to the Ottawa Farmers Market. It appeared to be a more established farmers market than we have in SS. It probably had about twice the vendors we have - but since it's wicked cold here for most of the year they are just now getting some veggies and fruits we've had for a while. So it was like taking a step back in time - well not really - but you know what I mean.
Another striking difference we found was that the Canuckers here really seem to love their meat. There were many vendors selling local meats - and a lot of game. As we were walking I had a bite of some great smoked elk sausage. In addition we saw venison, boar, emu and ostrich for sale. Here is a pic of one of the local vendors - unfortunately since her stall was located near the end we ended up not buying from her. Feeling a little bit bad. I'm sure she would have been much happier if we bought her wild boar rather than simply taking a picture of it. Not much profit in customers simply photographing the meat. Oh well.
But is was great to see the amount of locally raised meats and poultry at this market. Some really fabulous stuff that I wished made its way a few hundred miles south to us. I think we compared well in most other categories - greens, strawberries, asparagus, etc. It was clear that the locals here really support their farmers market. But in addition - at least in the neighborhood where we stay - they have more than one butcher, a local fish monger and many other non-chain small businesses. The city does have a European feel that I think we sadly miss in almost all parts of the States. But it is heartening to know that in SoCo we do have a thriving farmers market and more and more - mostly local - shops opening up. I'm not sure we'll reach a point like Ottawa, but we have a lot to be thankful for in our little piece of heaven. Stay tuned for the next post.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Right on the Avenue (Georgia Avenue that is), just south of Thayer Ave you will find a restaurant called Nicaro. I would describe the menu as new American - although that is pretty vague. It definitely is eclectic with such items as squash blossoms, oysters, a charcuterie plate along with a good selections of seafood and meat entrees.
Nicaro most certainly favors what's in season and local products. A fair amount of the produce comes from PA farms. And the creativity of the kitchen shows. Just a couple hours ago my partner and I dined on a cold potato and fennel soup and then moved on to the oysters, grits and eggs dish and the fabulous soft shell crab. Quite yummy.
Walking by in the evening the restaurant is drawing in a good crowd. The Washington Post review didn't hurt.
So if you're in the mood for something a little more laid back and not too loud, I would recommend trying for the weekend brunch/lunch. I don't think too many folks are aware of these early hours and it's a different experience and vibe than the evening dining. But you won't miss out on selection since a number of appetizers and entrees are offered earlier in the day.
I am quite thrilled this restaurant has landed in the 'hood. It is a definite gem. On each of my visits - which now have included brunch, dinner and drinks - the service has been friendly and professional, the food top notch and the overall experience a winner.
Although Nicaro may be a bit higher in price than what folks might expect for SoCo - not including Jackie's - it is worth it. But if you're on a budget there are enough items on the menu where you don't have to break the bank and can still count a terrific meal. So do yourself a favor and head over. But remember, if you're trying for the weekend, call ahead and book a table.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I thought I’d start rolling with a mention of a family farm just north of Frederick called South Mountain Creamery (SMC).
Now I know this about 50 miles from SoCo, but the thing is – they deliver to the ‘hood! Well, they actually deliver to pretty much the entire DC metro area, but that’s beside the point. The point is, you can get fresh milk (in those great glass bottles) from MD cows delivered right to your home. Chocolate and strawberry milk too – mmm, Homer like chocolate milk. And I think it tops the good ‘ol stuff – you know, Nestle Quik.
OK, back to the topic. SMC has a wide variety of MD goods (and out of state too) that includes bread, eggs, meats, cheese, jellies, coffee, sometimes seafood and more. You’ll need to check out their web site or contact them if you want to find out the sourcing for all their stuff. I know the pork is from MD and SMC raises their own cows so you have the beef and milk covered. But other items such as their wonderful OJ is from Florida and the poultry comes from a farm in NY State.
And for crab fans they currently have in stock MD backfin crabmeat. I ordered some a couple weeks ago and it made some terrific crab cakes!! And get this, it is half the price of the MD crabmeat that I saw at Whole Foods recently. I’m glad Whole Foods is selling MD crabmeat – but $39.99 a pound is a bit too rich for my blood. In general, the prices for many of the items at SMC are comparable to Whole Foods. But wouldn’t you rather help support this MD family farm than that grocery store. If you’re like me, they get too much of your money to start. SMC does levy a delivery fee, but it’s just $3.75 (went up a $0.25 recently). OK, check ‘em out.