• 29Jul

    In my Inbox:

    Michael just sent us this. :)

    -JAY

    —————-

    August 3rd – Veggie Burger Bonanza. Do you relish the thought of learning how to make your own veggie burgers? Join Chef Michael Kiss in this fun and informative class on how to put the flavor back in the bun. No moo, No cluck, and definitely no duck, just wholesome plant oriented burgers that are way better than anything from a frozen box. Vegetarian class.

    August 10th -  29 ½ Minute Meals. It’s a busy life folks, and sometimes we feel hopeless to maintain a healthy lifestyle for us and our families. If you can find 29 ½ minutes Chef Michael Kiss will show you how you can eat healthy and delicious food that most importantly is fast to prepare. This week’s dinner in a flash; Peanut Tamari Tofu wraps with Thai hummus. Stop for a moment and chew! Vegetarian class.

    August 17th **NEW SERIES** Hungry for Knowledge. In this new series, each month, Chef Michael Kiss will review and discuss one of the many dietary lifestyle books we have here at Whole Foods Market. In this non-bias exploration of all things food we will cook some of the recipes from the book as well as offer a 5% discount off the purchase price of the book of the evening. Our first book we will explore is “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn. Rip is an Austin TX, firefighter that has developed a plant strong approach to healthy lifestyle. Vegetarian class.

    August 24th – Melons 101. Summer isn’t summer without a big ol’ wedge of watermelon, the juice dribbling down your chin and the fun spitting the seed further than your friends. In this informative class Chef Michael Kiss will show you the right way to pick the best of the season but we will also prepare a few dishes that might surprise you when you taste them. Sweet and savory dishes that all include melon in the ingredient list; this will definitely be a class with a rind. Ur,um… I mean appeal.

    August 31st – How to cook like a chef-Gazpacho Mania. This summer one of the hottest trends in cooling down is gazpacho. There are so many variation and new ones being invented by talented chefs every day. Join Chef Michael Kiss as we investigate what makes a classic gazpacho as well as learning how to get funky with nuvou gazpacho variations. Get excited for the flavor flamenco dance on your tongue. O’le! Vegetarian class.

    Classes begin at 7:00 PM. All Whole Foods Market Cooking Classes are free of charge. seating is limited to first come, no registration required. veggie burgers ready to go in the oven! I feeling healthy today!

  • 29Jul

    I’m not sure why, but I’ve always associated eggplant with winter; the illusions of our global market, I suppose, since the purple blobs are actually in season right now. I picked up a few lovely looking baby ones at the farmer’s market the other day, and have been mucking about with them, trying to do something interesting. Turns out, so far, that classic (or at least classic-ish) works best.

    The main thing I’ve learned is that purging is absolutely essential: the final product is much less greasy and grainy, with better flavor. Purging goes like this: you slice the eggplant, salt it pretty generously on both sides, and leave it in colander for just over an hour. The salt draws out some of the moisture from the outside layer, making it firmer and sealing the insides. Then, you rinse the eggplant (very well, you don’t want all that salt in your dish), and dry them with paper towels (I squeeze them a bit to be sure). Then cook them. This is especially critical if you’re frying, but important in other prep too, for eggplants. Also works on plantains, tomatoes, etc.

    My best dish this eggplant week was, as I said, simple and fairly classic. I used:

    1 Italian eggplant, sliced into circles ~1cm thick, and purged
    3 large cloves finely minced garlic
    1.5 tbs herbes de Provence
    1/2 tsp cayenne
    Olive oil
    Salt
    Fresh black pepper

    While the eggplant is purging, grease a tray with some oil, and make a dressing from the garlic, herbs, cayenne, and about a tablespoon of oil. Preheat your oven to 425. I actually made this in my toaster oven, because it’s bloody hot these days and I wanted to minimize the heat in my kitchen.

    Once purged and dry, arrange your eggplant on the tray, and top each slice with your dressing (which should be very thick…almost a rub). Throw that in the over for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are a little bit browned and crispy.

    Serve as hors d’oeuvres, side dish, or even as a whole meal if you make a larger batch.

    - MAW

  • 26Jul

    Pics by LMB

    Fresh off its World Cup win, Spain is again victorious as Estadio, the Spanish-themed restaurant from the team that brought us Proof, opened last week, to great fanfare.  Chef Haidad Karoum, proprietor Mark Kuller, Bar Manager Adam Bernbach, and Wine Director Sebastian Zutant, pooled their talents to create a Spanish-themed restaurant blessed by D.C.s own Spanish son, Jose Andres, who offered guidance as Kuller planned his trip with Chef Karoum to the motherland in preparation for this venture.

    The menu includes tapas, pintxos (the Basque version of tapas-sized portions often served on a cocktail stick), and small sandwiches (bocadillos).  The bar features Spanish and Argentine wines, sangrias, and a Spanish, alcoholic version of the very American slushie, affectionately dubbed “slushitos” by Bernbach.

    On the restaurant’s first night, despite a downpour during peak serving hours, the room was relatively full, and the consensus seemed to be that the food was fabulous but that the service was slow and confused.  My experience certainly reflected that:  the octopus with potato caper salad was meltingly tender, the jamon wrapped fig with cabrales and marcona almond was the perfect combination of sweet and salty, tender and crunchy (though I wish it had lasted longer than just one bite), and the sauteed chorizo picante bocadillo was flavorful and smokey although the bread, which was made in-house, was unremarkable.   I sat at the bar of the open kitchen, and watched the calm but methodical work of the staff, with Chef Karoum checking, plating, and making notes.  My waiter, while providing spot-on recommendations, didn’t return after my food was delivered until the cooks were scrubbing the grill, leaving me yearning for a few more morsels.  Even worse, by the time I arrived, the slushitos had run out, apparently after the restaurant had gone through four batches of the nectar.

    Over the weekend, on my second trip to this 14th street hotspot, the place was past capacity, with servers and managers and even the chef having to jockey among waiting patrons to move through the room.  Estadio does not take reservations for parties of less than 6, unless you want to eat between 5 and 6pm, and every arriving guest was quoted (by a very calm, pleasant and patient hostess) a wait time of at least one and a half hours.  Because there are many more tables for two, and several large parties had made reservations that night, my group of four waited about an hour and forty minutes to be tapped for a table, but luckily, in the interim, we had secured bar seats, and happily chatted with the bartenders as we sampled the menu’s offerings.  This time, I got my slushito (a creation made up of quince, paprika, lemon, sherry and scotch) while my friend opted for the strawberry, lime, tarragon, campari and gin version.  After the first sip, we both reacted hesitantly—the herb in each drink hits you a little too strongly at first.  But after a few more sips, we simultaneously acknowledged that the drink grew on us, perhaps as we got accustomed to the taste of spice/herb in our drink.  However, we both opted for the Tinto de Verano (Red Wine and Lemon Soda) for our second drink (the drink I had to console myself with on my first visit when the slushitos were 86ed), and that was a clear hit from start to finish.  Next time, however, I may have to try one of the porro, a pitcher filled with wine which you tip directly into your mouth – no glass required.

    Once our drinks were secured, we were able to turn to the food.  Sadly, the octopus was not available that night, so we opted for squid a la plancha (grilled on a metal plate).  The squid was smoky and slightly chewy, and while it didn’t quite rise to the delicacy of the octopus, it drew fans among my friends.  We ordered a selection of cheeses which came with a piece of house-made bread, a square of quince, and a delightfully sugary date, and some chorizo, thinly sliced and simply served on a wooden board with a piece of bread as well.  We each ordered the jamon wrapped fig (which I had been thinking about since my previous visit) and added a second pintxo, a chorizo, manchego, and pistachio crusted quince bite.  The sweet quince, tart manchego, and smoky, meaty chorizo proved a delicious combination.  The heirloom tomato salad was simple (with red onion in a vinaigrette) but exploded with flavor and freshness.  The roasted hen of the woods mushrooms (known as maitake in Japan, not sure they are actually found in Spain) had a strong char which brought out the hearty, earthy flavor.  And finally (and unnecessarily), we ordered the hanger steak, described as coming with “crushed potatoes and mojo verde.”  The steak was perfectly acceptable—well cooked and thickly sliced, but the small streak of essentially mashed potato was unremarkable and frankly rather pitiful.  In comparison to the other uniquely delicious, perfectly executed, and incredibly composed dishes, the steak was unmemorable.  But if that’s Estadio’s worst offense, it’s in for a long, smooth, successful ride.

    In addition to the food and drink, the décor itself is getting a great deal of buzz.  Not only does the space boast reclaimed timber, wrought iron details, and a large concrete bar, but the murals throughout, including a cheeky one featuring shirtless soccer players in the women’s restroom (as well as the photos of newly, secretly married Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, each on the door of the gender appropriate restroom), are sure to leave diners atwitter.

    Estadio, 1520 14th St. NW, is open for dinner at 4pm every night and hopes to offer brunch in the fall.

    -LMB

  • 25Jul

    I’ve kvetched before about Atlanta’s paltry selection of proper coffee shops, particularly in areas I want to frequent. Since last writing, I have stopped going to Outwrite due to several encounters with phenomenally rude/incompetent staff and management, in addition to a growing impatience with searching endlessly for parking to drink expensive, crappy coffee in the name of people-watching.

    I’ve also discovered Inman Perk, a real gem in a not-quite-there mixed-use-type development on Highland Ave. The coffee’s good, as are the pastries, and there’s plenty of seating inside. Free wifi and a large library of random books to borrow add to the appeal. I even got enough stamps on my ‘frequent flier’ card to splurge on a large coffee frap, which was like a Frappacino but a bit milkier, and not quite as super-sweet. Works for me! The foot traffic outside Inman Perk is hit-or-miss…a fair number of shirtless joggers provide eye candy, and the occasional mess pouring itself out of Fritti or Parish can entertain, but Highland is no Riverwalk. On the upside, you can get your drinks to go and then sit in the nearby park, which has a manmade lake complete with frogs, koi and yuppies with puppies.

    Surprisingly, the sidewalk traffic is actually a touch more amusing at Drip, a small (somewhat unfortunately named) coffee shop in the severely under-developed planned development at Glenwood. The sidewalk seating is limited to a few metal tables and chairs which reach backside-searing temperatures in the afternoon sun, but does look out onto the development’s bocce court and surroundings, often occupied by the out-spill of surrounding bars and dubious Mexican restaurant. I’ve seen wedding photo shoots, apparent guerrilla cookouts, and various mid-day drunks arguing the rules of a game they’ve clearly never seen before. I’ve also see drab lunch-breaking yuppies yammering on crackberries, and spent time on my own laptop taking advantage of the free wifi. The coffee at Drip is good – the French press quite so – but expensive. The $2 iced tea, on the other hand, comes with free refills. The food I’ve had has been good, but also pricey – I recall an $8 or so sandwich, and a $5 pastry thingey. They also have Morelli’s ice cream, which I do know to be delicious.

    Advantage? Drip, because I can walk to it. I’d probably spend more time at Inman Perk if it was local, but its actual advantages are outweighed by my desire to not drive more than absolutely necessary. Especially when I haven’t had any coffee.

    – MAW

    Drip
    928 Garrett St SE Ste B
    Atlanta, GA, 30316-6834

    Inman Perk
    240 North Highland Ave.
    Suite H
    Atlanta, GA 30307

  • 21Jul

    Attention Mother Nature…you may think you’re super smart, the mastermind of earth and all her bounty, but I’m on to you.  Sure your plants are busy all summer, like a video editing machine at the RNC, but I know the truth.  I may make fun of those folks playing poker with sunglasses, but I have learned to recognize a bluff when I see one.  And winter is yours!  I knew my years of watching Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons would not be in vein.  I have captured your sunny, sweet flavors, your ripe fruits and your succulent vegetables.  I am canning.

    Cunning, I am.  Witty?  Well, thank you sir.  A decent cook?  Better than decent.  But I needed some help on the beginning of this journey.  My Fodor’s?  My Frommer’s?  My Bible: the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  True, many a fruit and vegetable are not in plentiful enough supply to start canning like a madperson yet.  I started this odyssey after the blueberries came and went (I was actually perfecting my blueberry pie recipe – cream cheese crust – a toddler couldn’t mess it up!) and, minus the fresh fruit, I hate all things strawberry.  But keep the faith!  Peaches are coming, zucchini are growing, and cucumbers are right around the corner.

    While waiting for the harvest,  I have been practicing.  Lord knows, I’m not going to mess up on a 20 pound batch of peaches!  Today, I tested a yellow tomato and honey butter – hard to find yellow tomatoes?  Yes!  But they won’t be in a few weeks.  And if you’re afraid of the canning process…testing gives you the opportunity to perfect your technique.  It can be intimidating.  The heat, the sterilizing, the crazy amounts of sugar!  I realized very quickly I need a larger pot.  And more canning jars.  Luckily, the jars can be purchased at any Walmart or True Value these days.

    Do I really know if the rich flavor of that gorgeous peach will be preserved in a glass jar when I pop the seal on January 16th?  I have no clue.  But I’m an optimist and believe in the power of Mother Nature.  And I can be sure they’ll be better than the peaches I find in Giant on aisle 9 drenched in a sweet syrup.  I dare you to try it.  I’m sure there are a bunch of secretive canners out there – be proud, be brave, and in the winter, when roots vegetables are the kings and queens of our dinner tables, the peaches, plums, and preserves of summer will be the envy of all our dinner guests.

    AEK

  • 20Jul

    On a recent trip to the Jersey Shore, I thought I had done my research, thanks to Snookie, Pauly D, the Situation, and friends, but I was caught unawares by the culinary popularity of one particular local specialty:  Pork Roll.

    An article in a local magazine tipped me off to the treat.  I soon learned that a “jersey breakfast” is a breakfast sandwich of pork roll, egg and cheese.  Since the words “pork” and “breakfast” always go well together, it didn’t take much to convince me to try this exotic new food.

    But it was lunchtime by that point.  So I headed to the boardwalk and ordered a porkroll sandwich.  I was asked whether I wanted “white” or “yellow” cheese with it (I chose white, assuming that involved fewer chemicals and less processing, but have no evidence for that theory).

    The sandwich came on a non-descript white sandwich roll with four slices of grilled, circular meat, and a melted slice of said white cheese.  The meat reminded me of Oscar Mayer bologna in its thin, perfect circularity, but the meat itself, flecked with white bits throughout, more closely resembled Spam.

    So cautiously, and slightly disdainfully, I took a bite.   The sandwich was delicious–like a souped up ham and cheese.  The meat was salty and flavorful and was perfectly balanced by the subtle melted warmth of the unidentifiable cheese.  I had to know more.

    So I went to the local Stop and Shop.  There I discovered sliced pork roll in the sandwich meat section, packaged similarly to the other sandwich meats.   Then I went to the refrigerated section and found entire logs of pork roll, in various sizes—1, 1.5, and 3 pound logs about 4 inches in diameter, wrapped in muslin cloth and then sealed in plastic.

    I picked up the 1 lb version and happily marched home.  Over dinner with several local New Jersey-ites that night, I learned more about this mysterious item.  Apparently, it’s referred to as “Taylor Ham” in North Jersey and “Pork Roll” in the South Jersey/Philly area.  My friends recalled eating it either pan-fried or grilled for breakfast, and on a sandwich of white bread and mayo for lunch.

    The next morning, I took the locals advice, and pan fried some of the newly purchased roll.  I sliced each piece, scored the edges to prevent it from curling up, and dropped it in the sizzling pan.  In the meantime, we toasted the rolls with cheese (we used yellow American singles to re-create the authentic experience), scrambled some eggs, rested them gingerly on the other side of the bread, and placed the browned meat atop the sandwich.  After our first breakfast sandwiches, we each decided we needed a second one.  That was a mistake. We spent the rest of the day digesting on the beach.

    After this anecdotal and experiential data, I was curious to find out how this product came to be.  I learned that the meat, perhaps based on an earlier product called “packed minced ham,” was first introduced by John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey in the 1850s.  The item’s popularity was immediate and several competitors sprung up quickly.  Taylor sued one company for trademark infringement, but the courts ruled against him.  The official name is John Taylor’s Pork Roll, and the ingredients include Pork, Salt, Sugar, Spices, Lactic Acid Starter Culture and Sodium Nitrite.

    The delicacy has garnered countless admirers.  There is a facebook page dedicated to the product.  In the music world, Neil “Porkroll” Taylor fronts a band called The Porkroll Project.  And alternative rock band Ween’s 1991 album The Pod included a track entitled “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese.”

    I’ve since left the beach, and memories of the salty, meaty treat are starting to fade.  But as luck would have it, I might be able to experience this treat again.  1789’s  chef Dan Giusti recently tweeted that he “will attempt to make New Jersey’s famous Taylor’s Pork Roll….god’s work.”   Agreed, Chef, agreed.

    -LMB

  • 17Jul

    This market is Thursday evenings and has some good vendors including 3 meet vendors.

    I purchased some smoked pork chops ($8 a pound) and a 2 pound (beef) porterhouse ($11 a pound) a few weeks ago at Fertile Plains Custom Pork’s stand, and both were very good, but the steak stood out.  I grilled it and it was much more tender than any porterhouse I’ve had previously.

    He carries chicken, pork, ad beef and prepared foods (like soups), and also does markets in Reston, Herndon, Farfax City, and Braddock road.  His email is frtlplns@fronteirnet.net.

    Other stands to look out for are Baguette Republic, the blueberry vendor, the lamb vendor, Culinary Herb Farm (spices), and the several stands that sell produce.

    -JAY

  • 13Jul

    Madhatter:

    They used good ingredients but didn’t know what to do with them.  Grill, pan fry or deep fry the hotdog so that it has a snappy skin! And,  think you chose the wrong type of hot dog since texturally it was like bologna.  They said they use the same ones Ben’s Chili Bowl does but if so, they should carry the half smoke. Mustard goes underneath other things like sauerkraut and onions (rookie mistake) or you will have a yellow chin and face. And, don’t tell me the salad has vinaigrette and then give me CREAMY vinaigrette; it isn’t the same thing. Also, they had things on the menu that they no longer serve.

    Best Cellars in Clarendon:

    I don’t care if there is a tree or an elephant in front of your window; if you put wine in the window that you intend to sell, I assume you don’t understand that the heat and sunlight will affect the wine adversely, and it undermines your reputation/identity.  The perception of wine ignorance is what is important here – we aren’t going to stand in your window for 3 hours and see how warm we get before buying your wine. ;)

    Hard Times Cafe Clarendon:

    What is the use of having a downstairs bar…if there are 4 people frying wings back there so the waitress doens’t have room on that side? Makes it difficult to get service.  Kitchens are for cooking – bars are for serving. 

    Northside Social:

    Please wrap the loaves of bread in paper or plastic or have them in a large see through container.  The loaves are just sitting there on an actual shelf…drying out, and gathering dust.  I love that you carry fresh bread…please store it properly, and I’ll buy some.

    -JAY

  • 09Jul

    It’s sweltering outside. And at the Columbia Room, the exclusive speakeasy tucked away in the back of the popular bar the Passenger, created by brothers Derek and Tom Brown, it’s sweltering as well.

    Patrons entering brother Derek’s lair for an evening of his Chef Series, are greeted by Brown’s welcoming, and slightly apologetic, manner—as he explains that the HVAC guy has been out several times to no avail.  So fans emanate a bit of cool air, and Brown offers a block of ice at one point to help cool us off. 

    But the heat is only a momentary distraction from the focus of the night.  Tonight’s guest chef is Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana, who was recently awarded the Rising Culinary Star of the Year honors at the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington awards.  The combination of Brown and Stefanelli creates its own heat.  Among tonight’s diners are Washington Post Food Section editor Joe Yonan, as well as food bloggers Amanda McClements of Metrocurean, and Carol Blymire.

    Brown, as always, creates an ambiance replete with both calm, relaxed enjoyment and anticipatory excitement.  The pace is leisurely, although the staff of two in addition to Brown, and Chef Stefanelli, are clearly working busily throughout the night.

    Tonight is the second in the chef series that Brown has created – inviting several local chefs (including RJ Cooper, recently departed from Vidalia, and announcing plans to open his own place, Pigtails) to create meals for which Brown will create cocktail pairings.  In an amusing twist, for the final of the three courses, Brown prepares the food, while the chef du jour will create the drink.

    Pics by LMB

    Despite the lack of an oven, Chef Stefanelli creates outstanding, although modestly portioned, food.  The first course, cobia tartare with squid ink sorbet and nepitella (an herb from Rome described as something between oregano and mint) is flavorful and refreshing, with a slight bite of green chile.

    Brown pairs this course with his Corpse Reviver Number 2 creation: a gin based drink with Cocchi Americano, cointreau, lemon juice, a bit of absinthe and finished with a brandied cherry on a metallic toothpick that causes some admiration among the patrons.

    The next course, a “tasting of pork,” is a plate of porcine delicacies accompanied by foccaccia studded with pancetta and taleggio. The plate includes testa (the Italian word for head) with mustard and dill—a pate like creation that Stefanelli made with pork jowl, as well as a few other delicious pork cuts: culatello, speck, lardo, pork crackling, and a pickled cippolini onion.

    Brown pairs his Bourbon Lancer with this dish: Bourbon, champagne, sirop de gomme (a simple syrup to which gum arabic has been added), aromatic bitters, lemon peel, and another brandied cherry.

    We move from the banquette to the bar for our final course—the one where each master enters the others’ domain.  Brown creates a pistachio flavored whipped cream, accompanied by honeyed yogurt with pistachios, and white peach slices.  Stefanelli presents a tall green creation comprised of pistachio milk, fennel liqueur and green chartreuse.  Each offers a nod to his own craft—Brown’s cream has an alcoholic tinge, while Stefanelli’s drink is thick and sweet and creamy—definitely a dessert in a glass.

    Before we leave, Chef Stefanelli pours us a shot of blueberry infused grappa—smooth, sweet, and distinctively blueberry in flavor.   And on the way out, we leave the sophisticated elegance of this room and enter an entirely different world as we stop for a beer and a half-smoke at the main bar, and learn of LeBron’s choice.  By the end of the night, we have had two entirely different experiences.  All without having to find another parking space.

    -LMB

  • 08Jul


    It’s hot, but we’re still hungry, even if long evenings over a hot stove are less appealing these days. This lovely summer oddity is actually more like a template than actual recipe – you can swap around all the ingredients and how you prepare them. The frying here is quick, and only requires one pan, but you can just as easily do this raw or on the grill if you infuse your oil with herbs and mix it with a little vinegar for a dressing/grill marinade.

    My most recent version included:

    A few handfuls of fresh basil
    A couple of fresh chives
    One grapefruit
    Olive oil

    Peel fruit and cut into quarters. Quickly fry the chives in some olive oil, then add some basil leaves and, immediately thereafter, the grapefruit. After a couple of minutes, use your fingers (tongs if you’re a wuss) to flip the grapefruit sections onto a different side, and add a few more basil leaves on top. After another couple minutes, flip again. Repeat if you have more flat sides on your fruit. You probably shouldn’t. When they’re done, serve with more fresh basil leaves as a garnish. Delicious!

    Like I said, you can do this raw or on the grill. You can also swap the herbs around. I have used mint instead of basil (especially in a raw version), or actual onion instead of chives, etc. Go play!

    – MAW

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