Once again we have Facebook to thank for informing us of an upcoming freebie…FREE Ben & Jerry’s on Election Day!
This event is 5:00 – 8:00 pm on Nov 4, 2008 at Participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops!
“Voting never tasted so sweet.”
I’m sending a shout out the team over at Greg’s List for posting all those great happy hours. I attended the Vegetate’s 3rd year anniversary party after finding out about it from the list. They have a Media Maven’s happy hour posted for tonight. Hmmmmmm.
Vegetate is a vegetarian restaurant, and the happy hour included complimentary wine and appetizers (including cornbread with celery puree, and bbq seitan). The event also included an art exhibition (spanning all three floors),
In other news:
Despite its 65% approval rating (when being compared to GLUE), MillerCoors discontinued Zima a couple of weeks ago. If you have any left in your pad…break out the Jolly Ranchers.
Washington Post food scribe Tom Sietsema recently shared an anecdote with readers of his “Sietsema’s Table” discussion group about a relatively inappropriate comment from a server. Readers shared their comments, embarrassing stories, and the occasional faux pas. During my decade-plus of food service work, I am fairly certain sure that I probably said infinitely worse things, and most likely to a table full of goodly old nuns. There’s nothing wrong with being engaging and friendly to your customers, and a well-placed bon mot can win over a table of even the surliest of eaters. Still, it’s vital for servers to keep most comments inside their head, where the words can’t hurt the diner…or the tip! You never know what might be absolutely hilarious to some could be completely insulting to others.
After reading the stories, I figure that I must be the luckiest diner in the D.C. area. Other than some occasional minor service mistakes, I’ve never had any servers who’ve completely embarrassed themselves with an inappropriate comment. I’ve never had that evening where everything has become a complete disaster. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m pretty much impossible to offend – I did stand-up comedy and morning show radio for years, and I’m not sure if there’s a video of me somewhere on the InterTubes involving former Bay Area performance artist “Extreme Elvis,” comedian Tanyalee Davis, Las Vegas and full-frontal nudity. (WRITER NOTE – I would advise you to not Google that at work. It happened back in 2002, before every cell phone came armed with a camera, so I might have escaped unharmed, but it also took place at a VERY unconventional wedding, and I’m a-feared footage of the event might rear its ugly head should I ever run for public office. I haven’t found evidence of my specific event yet, but Googling “Extreme Elvis” could lead to some very NSFW tales. Save them for home and share them only with people who thought “2 Girls, 1 Cup” was high comedy).
Sure, I’ve had servers bring me the wrong order, or put in my order incorrectly, or fail to warn me that my arch nemesis, the mushroom, was indeed in a certain dish – fellow FUD writer Jason and I had that experience at a Malaysian restaurant last year. Fortunately, most of these slip-ups are easy to fix. Put in my order, re-cook the food, knock a buck or two off my check – whatever. I’m easy to please and hard to offend…BUT…don’t compare me to Seth Rogan. At least not while my mom’s boss is in town, and I had to play local tour guide of our fine city.
This happened to me the other day at one of the establishments in José Andrés stable. I won’t name the specific one to keep from embarrassing the young lady who made the comment, who (I’m hoping) meant it as a compliment. On humid days, my locks do get awfully unruly, and a quick hop on Jezebel.com shows that he and I wear similar glasses, or at least did for the “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” premiere. He’s not as sloppy-looking as he was in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and seems to be cleaning and toning up a bit for the upcoming “Green Hornet.” I’ve heard that I resemble Sean Astin, or Jim Breuer, or even Pavel Bure, but this was a first for Mr. Rogen.
However, to my mom’s boss, it sounded like an insult. She did not think that I looked one bit like the lovable-but-hardly-classically-handsome stoner character he so often portrays. Had she been the one paying the bill, the tip would have been dramatically smaller than what I left – a generous amount to cover the otherwise fine service and exceptional food. I have to admit, I don’t really see the resemblance, either, but it does remind me to break out some more sit-ups and to possibly get a haircut.
A few months ago, the much-altered former location of the Zebra Room (subsequently Brothers Coffee, the Zebra Lounge, and others) took its latest incarnation as a wine bar: Enology. It’s the kind of place you might actually expect to do pretty well in these reaches of Upper NW. The setting is very pretty, though the outside tables have legs which make crossing yours entirely awkward. The wine list is extensive, and VERY EXPENSIVE. The cheapest glasses are $7, but most are $9-$11.
The list is organized by color and alphabet, with no hints whatsoever about each wine’s character. Our waitress was very sweet and made recommendations, which were 50-50. She didn’t really know much about the wines, it seemed, except for set scripts. Also, they only had one type of glass: reds and whites all came in Chardonnay glasses. This wouldn’t bother me at a restaurant charging $5 a glass, but for a place supposedly showcasing wine, and also charging not lightly for them, this is unacceptable. Silly as it sounds (and I’ve only recently become aware of it), the right glass really makes wine taste better.
Food is similarly expensive ($10 for a flatbread, $7-$9 (small) and $12-$14(large) for salads, etc.), but seems pretty OK. We had the Loramie Creek flatbread, with “goat cheese, local mushrooms, snipped chives.” The bread was nice and soft, though it did have harder sections (uneven heat?), and the goat cheese was spread nicely and very flavorful. I thought it overpowered the mushrooms (only just barely cooked, if at all), but my companion disagreed. The cheeses look and, according to my mother are, very good.
Happy hour Monday (goes all night!) means $2 off “eclectic” wines – listed separately with no prices, so you have to page through the regular menu, not to mention the lack of descriptions – beers, cocktails, and some of the food ($8 off the large cheese plate is great, except that it’s still $50). Happy hour doesn’t mean a cheap time, but a bit more affordable for a once-in-a-while trek to the northlands (or a stop after (before?) visiting the Cathedral).
All told, Enology is a nice place to go for an occasional Something Different, but I doubt that, even if I were wealthy and lived in the neighborhood, it’d be a regular haunt.
Enology Wine Bar
3238 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
I recently stayed at the pod hotel in NYC (midtown east). The room had bunk beds, and a sink but no toilet/shower…but it was affordable and nice enough. Mainly, the place was filled with young European tourists.
The Pod has a cafe with indoor (the lobby) and outdoor seating and a European style cafe menu. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to eat here.
We were at the cafe for breakfast. The portions were small but sufficient (we each had an entree and we split a dessert, the food is good, and the prices are reasonable. I had the smoked salmon on a bagel with capers, onion tomato and cream cheese ($7.50) and pan au chocolate ($3.50), a French pastry w/chocolate in it). My dining partner had organic yogurt with granola & wildflower honey and berries ($6.50). they also serve various kinds of fruit (prosciutto and melon, strawberries and cream, bruleed grapefruit, fruit bowl), and a couple of other pastries (croissants and sticky buns).
Oh, we did figure out that we were walking distance from Pinkberry and Buttercup Bakery.
Here is the hotels info (from their website):
“The Pod Hotel New York.
230 E 51st St
New York, NY 10022
There’s a Pod for every person, and an endless range of possibilities. You can set your music and your mood with our iPod docking stations and our dimmer control lighting system, plug into the Internet with free WiFi access, and catch your favorite shows on LCD TVs. Each Pod is climate controlled and equipped with efficient, stylish furniture that’s designed to maximize your comfort and your living space.”
I love wasabi. I love ginger. Each of these things alone are enough to pique my interest, and their combination almost always delivers agreeably. I recently made wasabi-ginger beef (marinate sukiyaki-cut beef in mirin, wasabi, and ginger for an hour, then fry in same), and am forever dumping wasabi and/or ginger on things just to brighten them up.
I’m a big fan of ginger ice cream, and I did in fact like wasabi ice cream the one time I found it. Consequently you might imagine my joy at discovering these: Wasabi-ginger Lollipops. Expensive? Yes. Perhaps unreasonably, except for the fact that they are wasabi-ginger lollipops.
Sharp and not too sweet, I admit I’d have liked a bit more wasabi flavor (as opposed to heat), but I wouldn’t not gobble them up. If, for instance, someone deigned to send me a box.
Is your chicken raw and your hotpot cold? Does your waiter smell like last week’s mackerel? Unacceptable! You are paying for a nice meal, and that’s what you should get. If you’re not getting it, you ought to complain. For that to help though, you must do so effectively, and that means politely. And who’s better at being polite than the British?
We know, we know, DC is in America, not Britain, where we prefer to be loud and demanding. And a bit (ok, a lot) rude. The thing is, just like in international politics, this does not often produce the best results. You want to voice your complaint, but you also want a fair solution, and even more, you want to make sure the restaurant can learn from its mistakes – and not repeat them!
All that said, here is a video guide (by some Brits) on how to complain, politely and effectively, at a restaurant.
This article is from Guest Blogger Wendy Stengel.
Thanks for the great cold weather recipe Wendy. It is actually on the chilly side today. The photo is from the Library of Congress. Thanks Library of Congress!
There are two versions of this recipe: the one for people who are used to cooking and recipe reading, and the one for people who are cooking challenged and want a step by step that really is a step by step.
The Short Version:
Caramelize 3-4 onions. Brown 3 lbs cubed beef. Deglaze with 12 oz beer. Add 8 oz. beef stock. Cover, cook at 350 for 3.5 hours. Stir in thyme. Serve over buttered egg noodles.
The “Cooking Challenged” Version:
Preheat your oven: 350 deg. F.
Caramelize 3-4 onions. Which means….
Slice up 3-4 onions. Put them in a COLD big skillet (don’t use non-stick, unless that’s all you have) on the stove top. Turn the heat to medium low. Stir OCCASIONALLY. Like, every 5 minutes for the first 15 minutes. Don’t stir too often. We’re trying to develop a nice brown caramelly onion, and that will mean some brown stuff on the bottom of the pan, too. When you stir, the onions will pick up the brown stuff on the bottom of the pan. If things start sticking, you can add oil, about 1 tsp at a time, up to about a tablespoon or two. The whole process should take AT LEAST 20 minutes. If it’s been 20 minutes, and they’re not all brown and sweet and complex, turn up your heat some. How do you know they’re done? They’re brown, and they taste sweet and complex. Scoop the onions into an oven proof stew pot, casserole, or Dutch oven (that has a lid).
Brown 3 lbs cubed beef. Which means….
Get 3 lbs of beef, and cut it into half inch or inch cubes (what kind of beef? Round or Chuck. Beware “stew meat”.). Season with salt and pepper….don’t be shy. This is the only salt and pepper we’re putting in the whole dish. I go by feel, but I think it was prob. 2 Tbls salt and 1 Tbls pepper. Toss the cubes in 3 Tbls flour–should lightly coat all pieces, all sides. IN THE SAME SKILLET YOU COOKED THE ONIONS, add 1 Tbls oil, and heat to medium-high. Put in your beef…you’ll probably have to do it in batches, because you do NOT want to stack or squish your meat in the pan. Flip or turn your cubes as they get brown. The bottom of your pan is going to get GROSS. Brown, gunky, icky. THIS IS GOOD. If things start sticking, add a little more oil. As they get all browned on all sides, transfer them to the stewpot/casserole/Dutch oven. Keep going until you’re all done….
Deglaze your pan with 12 oz dark beer. Which means….
All that gook on your pan? We’re going to scrape it up. Pour a bottle of dark beer (Think German or Belgian in style…I used a Wisconsin “Bavaria” beer) into your skillet, which is still on high heat. Use a tool that has a big flat edge, and scrape, scrape, scrape up all the gook you developed. That’s flavor, baby. You don’t want to waste it. When it’s all up off the pan, pour the beer and gook mixture over the onions and beef.
Add 8 oz (1 cup) of beef stock/broth. (Self-explanatory. Actually, if its not, write me. If at all possible, DON’T use the little cubes. They’re WAY salty.)
Cover, and put the whole shebang in the oven. You’re going for 3 hours, 30 minutes cooking time.
In the meanwhile……at the 2.5 hr mark, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Use your biggest pot, so you can cook up a mess of noodles. At the 3 hrs, 15 minutes mark, dump a package of wide egg noodles into the boiling water, AND TAKE OUT THE CARBONADE.
“What???? You said 3.5 hrs!” Yes, I did. We’re going to use Carry Over Cooking. That stuff is hot, and it’s going to stay hot outside the oven, too. Take a sprig or two of fresh thyme, strip it of its leaves, and dump them into the carbonnade. Give the sauce a quick taste to see if you want more salt, and if so, dump it in. Stir, and RE-COVER. It will cook the thyme just enough. (Using dried thyme? Put it in at the 2.5 hr mark).
When the noodles are done, drain them, put ‘em in a bowl, and butter heavily.
Dish up noodles on plates, and serve carbonnade over the noodles.
To be very authentic, CARB OUT. Add crusty bread to the side, with lots of soft creamy butter.
Oh, and, of course:
SERVE WITH BEER.
A nice hearty red wine would taste lovely with this, sure, but, be Belgian! Drink beer!
The good news is, some of us are over-employed (that’s good, right?). Some of us have even moved away from the DC area *gasp* to go graduate school.
But the bad news is a dry spell for the FUD at the moment. So, to
counteract this terrible state of affairs, we are looking for…..
A FEW NEW WRITERS!!
Were you annoyed by a restaurant?
Do you have some random recipes to share?
Have you discovered the best wine in DC?
Do you need some hipster cred? Good, since that is how we are compensated.
Then we want you for DCFUD. Send any sort of writing sample to
firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a couple ideas you’d like to write
about. It’ll be crazy!