Sunday, May 16, 2010
I will say I just started a new job, this blogging thing certainly does not pay the bills, so my mind has not been as focused as usual on SS food. But in short order I will be back to spread the good word on local food news.
The one thing I can say is the SS Farmers Market is in full bloom. If you haven't been over lately, you probably missed the run of fresh asparagus. They were fabulous. But no one had any this wk so I'm guessing asparagus season is behind us. And I would not recommend getting any from the grocery store that's traveled a few thousand miles from CA or South America -- in my book, they can't compete with our fresh, local stuff.
But if you're looking for fresh herbs to plant, you can find plenty over at the market. You will also find plenty of fresh greens -- arugula, chard, spinach, etc -- and also, chicken is back. I bought one yesterday and roasted it. Quite a hit for dinner. Although I had to cook about 30 + mins longer than the recipe stated (thanks Eric Ripert)! Luckily my meat thermometer saved the day and I didn't cause any food poisoning - at least not that I'm aware. At $4 per pound, I thought it was quite a good deal to feed the missus, a friend and me, with enough leftover for lunch today.
OK, that's it for now. Be back posting in a couple weeks. I have to start packing.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
All right, we started at 8407 on Friday night with a going-away happy hour for a friend. We arrived a bit passed 6:00 and the downstairs bar was almost full. Was not expecting this. We did secure part of one of the couches, but abandoned that quickly given a lethal combination -- the warm weather, the sun hitting the downstairs as it set, and on top of that, all the windows being open. W escaped to a nicely air conditioned upstairs bar where we all downed some cocktails and nibbled on cured meats, cheeses and pickled shrimp. Yummy.
But we couldn’t stay too long. It was opening night for Pacci’s, so we picked up and headed south on the Avenue. We arrived -- opening night and already a wait! Were folks aware you could get good pizza before Pacci’s opened its doors? I'll admit you had to travel outside the hood to get this pizza, and it appeared to us that our local yocals were simply biding their time till SS had its own wood-fired pizza shop.
And yes, if you went this weekend I’m sure you noticed Pacci’s needs to work out a few kinks. But let's give them a bit of slack since this was the first weekend. I’m not sure how they did on Saturday or Sunday, but Spiro told me they sold 400 pies that first day. Wow.
The poor service was the biggest obstacle Friday night, but I’m confident that will soon be rectified. I would have been more worried if the food was sub-par, but on the whole it was not. We tried 3 apps – two winners, one loser. The buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto di
Since it took a bit for our pies to arrive, a tronchetto (Stromboli-like sandwich) was sent over and that kept our hunger at bay – definitely good hospitality there. Soon thereafter our pies arrived – Napoli (tom, mozz, anchovy oil and black olives), margherita, another with fresh basil and one more time – prosciutto di parma – and we also did one white pizza, the 4 cheese (the least exciting of the bunch). This was all washed down with three bottles of the Super Tuscan wine.
And on pricing, the wine list ranged from about $25-35, the apps from about $5 to $10 and the pies go from $5.50 for the most simple white pizza to $13. Size-wise these are good to split if you’re not hungry or order an app or two. But if you are hungry, I’m sure you can eat an entire pizza. And also please note, I ran into Spiro last night and he says they are paring down the menu a bit. Not sure what he might knock off, but it does seem clear a few items will go.
One last thing, I saw a couple comments from my last posting saying the wine prices were too high. A suggestion was to have something available in the $12-15 range. For a bottle? Hello, we live in metro WDC. You are more likely to find a glass in that range than a bottle. Now I can see the wine list being expanded to have something in low $20s and maybe even something in $40s, but below $20 is too much to ask for in this area if you want something that’s drinkable.
On Saturday the feasting continued. Julie Stinar from Evensong Farms sold me some wonderful hot Italian sausage that grilled up nicely. When combined with onions, mustard and placed on a bun; it made for a hearty late lunch.
The evening took us out of the neighborhood into DC to meet a friend at Sushi Taro. If you’re a fan of Japanese food I would recommend you try Sushi Taro. While it is not inexpensive, they have an exotic menu full of fabulous small plates and raw fish. After their makeover from the previous straight-ahead sushi joint they used to be, they now specialize in kaiseke – which is similar to omakase (chef’s choice), but your meal is more based on items that are in season and it is set, as opposed to a more flexible menu when you and the sushi chef plan your omakase meal.
While I greatly enjoyed the dinner, I do think the fall menu was better. The spring menu relied more heavily on sushi, and I was hoping for more Japanese small plates of cooked meat and fish items. But I’ll be back when the weather cools off to try their later season menu.
Finally Sunday began simple enough, eggs and polenta, then moved on to a fabulous tuna, celery and arugula (straight from my garden) salad for lunch and while we typically don’t eat out three nights in a row, our Ivorian friend had arranged for another dinner at Dominique’s African restaurant at 6115 Georgia Ave.
Luckily the food was wonderful once again, since warm weather had the restaurant unprepared and its AC system was not running. We were fortunate to have a fan placed by the table to keep my body temperature somewhat in check. But needless to say, by the end of the meal I was ready to curl up on the floor of a walk-in freezer.
But I digress, on the food, Dominique started us off with what she called nem. After a little research, I found out this is a simple term used in
We were then bombarded with several dishes – chicken cooked in a light tomato sauce with rice, a dish of braised shredded cabbage and carrots, and then another chicken dish, broiled, covered with diced tomatoes and zucchini. If that was not enough, next came a big plate of fried plantains. It was a lot of food, especially since these are not individual dishes, but family-size dishes!
And it was wonderful to hear that my last blog post on Dominique’s actually helped drive new business to the restaurant. She told us that several customers had come in and said, "We read about you on the Internet... we want to order what we saw in the pictures" – whole fried tilapia, chicken with olive oil and parsley and of course, the fried chick pea balls.
This made my night. As we left, Dominique hugged us au revoir and then gave us each some ice cream. I left with an ice cream sandwich and devoured it before the car made it 2 blocks.