If the Springfield of Simpsons’ lore really was Springfield, Virginia, I know where Homer would be tomorrow.
According to the DC Examiner, one of the two DC-centric daily commuter papers fighting tooth-and-nail for your free readership, the Fractured Prune donut shop in DuPont Circle will be giving away free samples of their delicious, baked-while-you-wait wares, from 4 – 8 pm on Friday, December 1st.
Never heard of the Fractured Prune? You must be one of them Dewey Beach people. The Prune has been a welcome addition to the Ocean City sugar scene, quickly ranking with Dumser’s and the Candy Kitchen as must-stops while at the beach. They take the best ideas from Cold Stone Creamery (the wide array of toppings and fillings) and leave out the worst (knock off the damn singing and make my friggin’ waffle cone!). It’s a Build-Your-Own-Donut. Those who have tried the Prune’s dough-with-the-Os can attest to their warm cakey delights, customizable to your heart’s content. The picture with this story is the Sundae, but French Toast is my favorite…or the Reese’s Cup…or the Morning Buzz…or…
For some ideas of what kind of donuts you can have, check out this link. I apologize in advance if you gain weight.
Thanks to FUD friends Liz and Duane for the catch!
What makes for a good Mexican restaurant experience? My own criteria is hardly objective. If it’s Salvadoran-influenced, I’ll probably be a fan. If the dishes’ only defining characteristics are excessive amounts of cheese, I’m disinterested. Salsa is more pureed than chunky and pico de gallo-esque. Corn tortillas (crispy or otherwise) trump flour offerings. Words like “barbacoa” and “carnitas” bring me joy – and I’m not talking about in a Chipotle setting.
This gives you an indication about my preferences (or prejudices). And while El Paso Café in Ballston would probably earn raves from any fan of Mexican food, I essentially like it because it fits my style. Plus, the cozy atmosphere and generous margaritas are another bonus.
The place makes a mean pupusa – arguably not up to the standard set by Samantha’s in Silver Spring, but inarguably delicious, particularly the pork and cheese variety. If you’re not a fan, their queso makes for a fine starter as well. Other offerings of deliciousness included the delectable lobster tacos (a special; loved the accent of avocado), and the carnitas, which while a little on the sweet side, were wonderfully savory.
Service was a little spotty (we had table bets going on whether our waitress had registered my desire for a beer in a boot-shaped glass that I saw at another table, or would honor my friend’s request for water – she hadn’t, in either case), and the awkwardly placed bar with no stools in the middle of the restaurant doesn’t make for a comfortable situation when you’re waiting for a table. But when you’re picky about Mexican food and find a spot you like, you tend to overlook these tangential qualms. El Paso Café is worth a shot.
Plus, they have strolling mariachis. What more do you need?
El Paso Cafe
4235 N Pershing Dr
Arlington, VA 22203-3202
Bardia’s New Orleans Café of Adams Morgan is the best casual Cajun place in the city. Without any peer, without even any near competition. But having said that, the hands down best casual Cajun outside of the city is Bethesda’s Louisiana Express Company. Which is better? I dare not speculate. There would probably be some kind of explosion or something.
The preeminent decorations inside this bare-bones eatery are awards. The walls are papered with them. And although a decade or more of Washingtonian readers could easily have been mistaken, this time they struck gold. The savory, spicy smell of jambalaya smacks you in the face as you enter, and ensures you your own seat on the metro when you leave .
I tried the shrimp bisque which arrived steaming and smelling of ripe tomato. AMG dove for a his iced tea at first bite, so I got to polish it off myself with a one of the city’s most perfect, buttery biscuits. The french fries, red with chili powder, were hot and good. Poached Eggs Creole came on a bed of fried grits and perfect andouille, and the catfish po’ boy was crunchy and moist and huge. The final bill…under $30.
Was it possibly better than Bardia’s? Better to not think about it
I call this collection “Odes to a Food Allergy.”
the turkey divine
but why did somebody put
mushrooms in stuffing?
chop them way too small
`shrooms invisible to eye
make me Shiitake.
Of all the foods to be allergic to, it’d have to be something that can be disguised like an Eastern Bloc spy. Ugh… I practically starved during the portobella boom a few years ago.
And, just to add insult to injury, I attended a weddding Saturday where the fliet mignons were covered in a delightful steak sauce…made of mushrooms. A tell-tale bit of mushroom would have been enough to scare me away to the lemon caper salmon, but no bits of `shroom could be found.
I’m guessing I’d have been a bad Smurf.
After another Thanksgiving, I thought I’d ease everyone back into the daily grind with something unusual for this web site: a culinary op-ed of sorts. Recently, the people in charge of New York City have begun a debate on whether or not to ban trans-fatty acids in restaurants. In order to understand the implications of this, it is necessary to know a little bit about what trans-fatty acids are, and why officials would want to ban them.
Normally, fat comes in four types: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fatty acids. Saturated fat (such as butter, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil) is solid at room temperature, and is generally quite bad for you, in that it has been shown to be correlated with heart disease. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (olive, canola, soybean, corn, and vegetable oils), and while still bad for you, are less bad than saturated fats (although the fat content in your diet should come from unsaturated fats as much as possible).
The trouble is that all the flavour and goodness in various recipes comes from saturated fat. Some enterprising companies have discovered that if they add Hydrogen to an unsaturated fat like vegetable oil, it takes on properties that make it behave like a saturated fat (in terms of taste, texture, and body). These hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils (which are sold as margarine, vegetable “spreads,” oleos, and shortening) are also called trans-fatty acids (or TFA for short).
Recently, authorities have become concerned because of a link between TFA’s and a number of health problems. TFA’s have been shown to raise the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while lowering the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which leads to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Also, there seems to be a correlation between TFA consumption and obesity levels. The federal government, which is in an excellent position to enforce such a ban nationwide, has been silent on this matter, so some municipalities have started to take matters into their own hands. New York City, as the first major city to consider this, is being watched very carefully. Fast-food restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, worried about potential drops in profit margins, have already (supposedly) started investigating alternatives for their fried foods.The proposed ban would only encompass restaurants. People would still be able to purchase margarine, shortening, etc. for home use.
As a professional chef, I am opposed to this sort of regulation for two reasons. First is because it’s badly written legislation that unfairly targets restaurants. Only restaurants would be subject to a ban on ingredients that are otherwise perfectly legal to use. Restaurants generally use a shortening in their deep fryers because it’s cheaper to use, and it doesn’t have to be changed as often as oil (and believe me, changing the oil in a commercial deep-fryer is not trivial). As such, the practical implication of this ban would be to quadruple the cost of anything fried.
The second reason I am opposed to this ban is because I really believe that it is not for a government to regulate what I eat. I am an adult, and I should decide what level of risk I’m comfortable with. I understand that there is a large amount of obesity in our society, but at the end of the day, people are responsible for their own diets, and for their level of activity (or lack thereof). What will happen if this ban comes to pass is that restaurants will most likely revert to using saturated fats such as butter, which is why the American Heart Association does not support the ban as it is currently written.
This sort of regulation first started in the late 1970’s when officials were concerned about Peking duck (which requires that the duck is hung to dry for half a day). It then moved to artisanal sausages and salumerias, and now to TFA’s. As a result, a lot of old-style artisan work is being lost. I admire the New York City government’s intentions, however the practical implications would be to shield people from one danger, while exposing people to another. Where does this end? If they come after Five Guys next, then my friends, the terrorists have truly won.
Got an opinion? Post a comment, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on TFA’s and their health implications, check out the American Heart Association’s web site.
For those of you that have eaten your way through the previous six articles in this series, here is the next installment. The prices I mention are after the discounts (and before tax and tip).
I mentioned the Ballston Front Page’s Wednesday burger night in the fourth installment. I recently looked at their website and read about their free Thursday night (4-7pm) taco bar, which is at the bar. They also have $3 import beer bottles that evening, and DJ Smokey at 10pm. The Front Page also has selected half price appetizers Mondays through Fridays between 4-7pm.
I have yet to check the place out…but sushi bargain hunters may want to try the Ballston Mall’s Asahi Kaiten Sushibar for $2 a plate (which consists of 2 pieces) conveyor sushi lunch on Mondays through Fridays. This is a place where the sushi rotates on a conveyor…and you grab what fancies you. They also have six different bento box specials for lunch Mondays through Fridays at $8 each. Happy Hour drink specials are half price beer and cocktails on Mondays through Fridays from 3pm-7pm and Saturday from 4pm-7pm.
Several of us enjoyed the lunch buffet last Sunday at Sangam in Ballston. They had a good selection of Indian food, especially for $8.95 per person.
I will say this…between the Chocolate Show (that DCFUDie ZAF wrote about), Sangam’s lunch buffet, and DCFUDie Ray’s Thanksgiving spread yesterday…I think I’ve finally learned to pace myself…when it comes to eating huge meals. I wonder if I could do that at a churrascaria.
The Front Page (Ballston)
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Asahi Kaiten Sushibar
671 North Glebe Rd. Unit 1248,
Arlington, VA, 22203 (Ballston Mall)
1211 N. Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22201
703 524-2728 / 2711
Where To Eat In Arlington When You Are Nearly Broke I
Where To Eat In Arlington When You Are Nearly Broke II
Where To Eat In Arlington When You Are Nearly Broke III
Where To Eat In Arlington When You Are Nearly Broke IV
Where To Eat In Arlington When You Are Nearly Broke V
Where To Eat In Arlington When You Are Nearly Broke VI
I must confess that Chile has been on my mind lately. Not the food. The distant string bean-shaped country where I spent my study abroad. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken up Latin dancing again. Maybe it’s because I’ve been serving up my Chilean favorites at my parties and my guests have been, well, eating them up.
One of them, DCFUD’s own Mad Rambler Jason, encouraged me to take on a daunting culinary task (at least for me): write out the recipes for my Latin creations. One of my specialties has always been tomaticán, a traditional, spicy Chilean dish. Tomaticán –and just about any other Chilean dish – is often paired with pisco sour, a concoction made with pisco, the Chilean national drink. I’ve come up with my own twist for both food and drink and am printing them the first time for DCFudies.
PORTER SIRLOIN TOMATICAN
(makes six – eight servings)
- 17 Roma tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (approximately 28 oz.)
- 3 cans of whole kernel corn (approximately 15 oz)
- 1 heaping tbsp pepper.
- 3 large yellow onions (chopped)
- 1 ¾ lb of porter sirloin steak (chopped)
Start by tossing the chopped tomatoes in a large pot. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and pepper. Tomaticán is supposed to be hot and spicy. So if you don’t get enough of a hot foot when tasting it, add more pepper to your liking. Let the tomatoes simmer on medium for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and onions. Let the pot simmer for about five more minutes and continue to stir. Add the chopped sirloin and lower the temperature to low. Heat the tomaticán for 15 minutes (or until the sirloin is cooked), then remove from the stove. Voila … now it’s onto the pisco sour.
PISCO SOUR MAPUCHE
(makes eight servings)
The Mapuche were known to the Spaniards as the fierce Indian tribe that inhabited Chile during the Age of Discovery. The Mapuche more than gave the Spaniards a run for their money, they held them off and the Europeans never defeated them. You could say the Mapuche really gave the Iberians a kick in the – well you get the idea. This drink is a homage of sorts to the Mapuche, who still may be found in Central and Southern Chile. Most people make pisco with lemon juice. I make it with lime. Before you get grossed out by the idea of using egg whites in a drink just remember that it’s not much different idea than eggnog. If the thought of putting raw eggs in your drink grosses you out. Then use Egg Beater egg whites like I do).
- 12 oz pisco
- 6 oz limejuice
- 8 tbsp egg white
- 8 tbsp sugar
- 1 lime flavored cherry (per glass of pisco sour Mapuche, after drink is poured.
- 13 chocolate chips.
- 15 ice cubes
- 6 oz Code Red Mountain Dew
To make the drink add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until the ice is chopped and white foam is floating to the top. Pour six to eight ounce of the pisco mix in a glass and add one lime-flavored cherry. You’re all set for a Chilean dinner party. Dinner is usually served close to 8 PM in Chile, but I usually can’t wait that late. Dine when your guests arrive.
This post is by Guest Bogger Jay D. Krasnow. Thanks Jay!
- 17 Roma tomatoes (chopped)
As I mentioned before, the boy and I attended a “Cooking for Two” class at L’Academie de Cuisine recently, which was my anniversary present. (He’s good, huh? Make your girlfriend a) squeal with excitement AND b) a better cook!) I chose the seafood-themed class, as I am a sucker for …well, anything with suckers, and the menu looked unbeatable: clams casino, honey-cured grilled salmon steaks, and a crab and corn chowder. Oh, and FLAN, because fish belongs everywhere except dessert. Yes, you can quote me on that.
Now, L’Academie runs a professional school, but we had signed up for the recreational one, so we stroll in to the chem-labish classroom at the Bethesda location right at the appointed time, expecting a relaxed evening of chopping and stirring and savoring lovely smells like we do at home. FYI for anyone planning to sign up for a class there: “recreational” is not the same as “relaxing.” Oh, no.
Don’t get me wrong. You will absolutely love it, but you’ll be lucky to keep up with the instructor for the first hour of the three-hour class. She will show you how to stuff a clam (with the aforementioned compound butter), and you had better do it NOW, because soon as she’s done, she’s showing your partner how to “walk” a knife through an onion. Not that she was rude about it; she just worked fast and wanted us to learn as much as we could. (One small problem–if you don’t do exactly as the instructor says, an assistant may come over and do it for you. I practically had to wrestle my knife out the hands of a very sweet woman who started out showing me how big the pieces of celeriac should be, and then tried to chop all my root vegetables for me.)
After the first hour or so everything slows down, the assistants pour the wine, and THEN you get to relax and savor lovely smells (for awhile, until the next big rush). They will do some things for you, but these were all small things that would have been impractical in large groups but easy enough in your own kitchen (for instance, we didn’t get to mix our own marinades for the salmon steaks). Everything else is done at your workstation by you and your partner, including, of course, the eating. I think that was most people’s favorite part, but mine was all the actual cooking, with the boy, of course. Chop! Stuff! Grill! Roast! Do dates get any better than this? I doubt it. (Unless you stuff them with gorgonzola.)
One less reason to chug up Wisconsin Avenue in Rockville – convenient gourmet food and wine shop Eatzi’s is closing its doors with little-to-no-warning, just in time to ruin many a Thanksgiving dinner. Today might be the last day the charming place north of White Flint Mall has left, as management and staff were notified of the closure yesterday.
I’m sure there will be more to this story, and hopefully the displaced staff can find work at other local markets – though Eatzi’s relative convenience to Metro rail and bus routes will be hard to replace.
Geez, former Eatzi’s folks….happy holidays? Good luck in getting new gigs.
I have been putting off the review of Acadiana. What started as minor procrastination has now turned into a full blown case of denial. Why can’t I remember what I ate? Did I even go? Fact is, while great spots are easy to write up, and really bad ones are even easier, I’m not really sure what to say when the restaurant is neither. It’s tough to do a review based off the fact that the calorie consumption within its premises allowed you to live one more day.
As the latest effort from the rapidly expanding Passion Food empire, Acadiana arrived a year ago with the road well-paved. DC Coast and Ten Penh are both reasonably tasty staples, and the lovely Ceiba is still where I take out-of-town relatives lookin’ for latin. But for a small town, we do already have Vidalia, B. Smith’s, Georgia Brown, Indigo Landing, and even the new Crème …did DC really need another neo-Southern place? Well, definitely- I mean, you really can’t have too many versions of this awesome cuisine- but I find this iteration to be forgettable.
The interior is pretty and subdued in grey and wood… with diner-style booths. Which means the general effect is of a very elegant TGI Friday’s. The service was almost unnervingly alert. The best taste of the night came at the very beginning – amg fared well with a Mint Julep and I with a tasty Sazerac (a mix of, among other things, fake absinthe and whiskey) which, come to think of it, might have something to do with my poor memory of the rest of the night. Did we order wine then? I think so, but who knows! It must have been the Sazerac.
The trio of soups – turtle, crab, and gumbo, were acceptable with the crab’s crunchy corn and hearty flavor winning the bunch. On suggestion, the fried green tomatoes were delicate and delicious, although I’m not sure I’d bother ordering them again. A trio of deviled eggs were fabulous, but only because I bloody adore deviled eggs. A less biased head would probably rate them at on par with very nice wedding Hors d’ Oeuvres.
Jeff Tunks has never gotten the hang of main courses, so I usually stock up on appetizers and split an entrée. It was a special; this time there’s a memory of an enjoyable whitefish in…sauce. I can’t tell you more ’cause I just don’t know. Come on Acadiana, there’s potential here but you need to give me something I’m still going to remember three weeks later.