• 29Jul

    Let’s rewind ten or fifteen years ago to my Quest for the perfect brie.  The Quest wasn’t for a blog article; it was because I loved food.  I purchased various brands from Costco, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods until I found the most delicious cheese on earth: a double-creme brie called Fromager d’Affinois. I’ve been gushing about it to my friends ever since.

    Rays of sunshine stream through the clouds

    The heavens agree: Saint Angel brie is a good choice

    So when dcfud asked me to review cheeses from Fromagerie Guilloteau, the family owned business that makes my all-time favorite cheese, you can imagine how much I bounced off the walls with excitement.  They let me try two different cheeses for free, and I loved their triple-creme brie so much that I couldn’t resist buying some for my parents when I visited them that weekend.  On my way back from Whole Foods—cheese in hand—I kept giggling because never before had the heavens parted as if to say, “excellent choice, Mark.” When I stopped at a red light, I had to capture the moment.  My parents loved it.

    Here’s the story behind this review.  On my way to work, I stopped at Murray’s in Grand Central Station in New York City.  As a purveyor of fine cheeses I thought they’d have a better selection than Whole Foods, who I already knew carried Fromager d’Affinois.  Luck was not with me that day, because d’Affinois was all Murray’s had.  Given my adoration for that cheese, I couldn’t just review it myself and toss journalistic integrity to the wind.  “But wait a second,” I thought.  “I have coworkers.”  Problem solved.

    A pound of double-creme brie

    A pound of double-creme brie

    Welcome to my office, toasted crackers and a pound of double-creme brie.  Don’t mind the lustful gazes from my colleagues.

     

     

     

    Later, as the brie was being demolished, here’s what everyone had to say:

    “I am not a brie expert, but I find it delicious”

    “It’s a good one. Not too strong. Not harsh. I like the crust actually.”

    “Very creamy. You can tell the difference between cheap brie and good brie. You can tell it’s not a cheap one. After a second helping I would say it’s not just creamy, it’s buttery.”  (she informed me that if she came back for thirds, I was to send her away)

    “Yeah, it’s double creme. A little nutty.”

    The guy with the most sophisticated palate—a Frenchman, as it happens—had the most critical feedback: “It’s good.  It’s definitely not a triple creme brie, but it’s good.”

    Not a triple-creme?  What is this heresy about my favorite cheese sullying my virgin ears!  This was the smoothest, sweetest, creamiest brie I’d ever had, and he dared scorn it as “just a double creme?”  The rind (white crust) on many bries is bitter or too strongly flavored.  Not Fromager d’Affinois.  It has a delicate flavor that will hook any cheese lover.  And it was being challenged.

    I did the only thing I could do.  After work, I went to Whole Foods and found Saint Angel, a triple-creme brie from Fromagerie Guilloteau.  Could I really tell the difference?  Is a triple-creme that much better?

    An hour later, I found myself in a molten puddle of cheesy ecstasy.  I’m dairy intolerant, but I ate it anyway.  It was worth it.

    Triple creme brie Saint Angel

    Stock photo (and it’s gorgeous) of the triple creme brie Saint Angel

    From the first nibble, I couldn’t believe how silky and smooth Saint Angel is.  The mouth-feel was so good that I ate it plain.  This cheese is so decadently buttery that I wish I’d known about it as a kid.  Back then, I used to saturate my corn on the cob with fresh slabs of salted butter.  Broccoli got the same treatment because butter is delicious.  Saint Angel would have been a perfect addition.  A purist would kill me for saying this, but it’d be good with spicy chicken wings, too.  Dear purists: marry this brie to your favorite French baguette.  You’ll love it too.

    Where does this leave us?  It leaves me with a new favorite brie and several variations of Fromager d’Affinois to tease me:

    • Garlic and mixed herbs
    • Truffle (I’m told this is especially good)
    • Pepper
    • Florette (made from 100% goat’s milk)
    • Brebicet (made from 100% sheep’s milk)
    • Campagnier (rind tinted with annatto and promises of subtle fruity flavors)
    • Bleu (or Saint Géric, which is the triple-creme version of this bleu cheese)

    What about you?  Care to join me? :)

    –Mark Feghali (MFF)

  • 02Jul

    Images from last night’s DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Noelia:

    Last week, we kicked off “The Week in DCFüd.

    Tracy's Cheesecakes: Oreo, Lime, Lemon

    Tracy’s Cheesecakes: Oreo, Lime, Lemon

    Well, this was a good week as well. We tried a few more of Tracy’s Cheesecakes, attended Wildfire’s Lagunitas dinner, hosted a happy hour at Noelia, and sampled a few brews directly from the wonderful & local brewery, Atlas Brew Works (thanks to their awesome beer rep., Chris).

    The Atlas beers Cy (who wrote the below beer notes) and I sampled included:

    The 1500 (South Cap Lager, brewed exclusively for Nats Park and definitely a great beer for a hot day at the ballpark):
    Light lager
    Nice bready smell and flavor
    Hops malt balance
    Slight sour overtones

    Home Rule (Pale Lager):
    Surprisingly malty
    Sour notes
    Would pair well with food

    NSFW (Imperial/Double Bock IPA):
    Molasses
    Coffee
    Dark unsweetened chocolate
    Dried plums

    Pumpernickel Stout (Cy’s favorite of the four):
    Very sweet
    Rye/Pumpernickel

    For those of you looking for a 4th of July event to attend (and who want to meet Chris):

    “Celebrate Independence Day on the roof deck at 1905! We’ll have the grill going and special $5 offerings of select Atlas Brew Works beers available throughout the afternoon & evening. A $20 cover gets you 3 tickets to use on any combination of food or beer upstairs, including local sausages, pulled pork or portabello sandwiches, green bean salad with smoked almonds & arugula, wild-grain hoppin’ john, corn & tomato salad with feta & oregano, Sherry-bliss potato salad, or smoked broccoli with cheddar & pimentos. Tickets are available at the door only. The dining room will also be open that night with the regular menu starting at 5:30pm.”

    Update 7/5/15: Below is a half smoke platter (and at Atlas beer) from the 4th of July rooftop even at 1905.

    -JAY

    Half Smoke Platter

    Click to add a blog post for Noelia Restaurant on Zomato

  • 24Jun

    We have tried some great dishes and products in the last week. I still have a few of Tracy’s cheesecakes to try, so don’t be surprised if I write about them again soon. This business just relocated to Burke from Japan (2 months ago) so show some support to these new (to the area) desserts. The cheesecakes are light, fluffy, and delicious, and have a great crust containing several kinds of nuts. Tracy’s delivers (in more ways that one)!

    As far as Crum’s, Bungalow in Alexandria/Franconia carries about a half dozen of these great Alexandria-based hot sauces, and they don’t even charge for it, like the 50 cents they charge for that teeny amount of BBQ sauce you see in the image. I always feel like I am being swindled when Bungalow’s charges me for BBQ sauce, so I only eat there on burger nights (Mondays). The waiters don’t even mention the charge.

    -JAY

    Click to add a blog post for Bungalow Billiards & Brew Company on Zomato

  • 20May

    When it comes to living with allergies, there can be nothing more frustrating then trying to navigate the candy world. During Halloween, school or birthday parties, trying to read the ingredients on a candy package can feel like playing a game of Russian Roulette. But there is an easy answer that will not feel like a sacrifice.

    I would describe Sun Cups as an allergy friendly Reese’s cup. However, they even beat out the Reese’s cup by coming in FAR more fun flavor combos. Made with chocolate and a roasted sunflower seed butter they mix in a number of additional flavors ranging from caramel to mint chocolate. The result? A tasty nut-free, gluten-free treat for everyone! Some are even dairy, egg, soy and corn free as well. So load them in your purse or send them in to keep in your kid’s classroom and next time there’s a questionable allergy scenario there’s an easy answer that will still end in a smile.

    Flavor Offerings: Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Caramel, Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate

    Go to http://suncups.com/ for more information and to find selling locations near you.

    -JPM

    Permalink Filed under: Products Tags: No Comments
  • 17Jul

    USApples has a weekly selfie (with an apple) contest. Two weeks ago, a photo of a guy in a cubicle with an apple on his head won a Dizzy Pig‘s gift pack. My picture of a pirana attacking me while I was eating an apple won last week, so today I was happy to find a box of Brooks Tropical‘s fruit at my door. In the box was a lime, SlimCado, dragon fruit, and red papaya.

    Next week’s prize is a Tajin seasoning gift pack. Having tried Tajin’s seasonings, I recommend entering the contest.

    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs
    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs

    Weekly deadlines are the next five Sundays. The contest rules are here.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    -JAY

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

  • 19Jun

    Crave Right cookiesCraveRight cookies are the newest craze in the natural foods market. After tasting and reading the “filler” ingredients in a lot of sub-par “healthy snacks”, they decided to create their own gluten-free treats from natural, ancient ingredients. As a small, start-up company from Alexandria, Virginia, they managed to succeed in not only creating a tasty snack, but also making their cookies completely allergy-free. They use no gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts or corn in their products. Therefore, their products are also 100% vegan.

    I have to admit when I first opened my pack of Crave Right cookies, I was expecting to bite into something that tasted like cardboard. I mean when they cut out so many ingredients, what can they do with what’s left? However, I was Crave Right cookies 2pleasantly surprised. I have tried all three flavors- chocolate chip, brownie and the sesame cookie. Each has their own unique taste that tantalizes the taste buds. The sesame cookie even manages to trick you with an almost nutty after-taste, which I can imagine for someone who has to steer clear of nuts regularly would be a pleasant surprise.

    All in all, Crave Right cookies are a definite must-try for anyone who is trying to follow an all- natural, allergy-free lifestyle. Or even just for people who like a new tasty gluten-free treat. Enjoy!

    -JPM (Joyana)

  • 30May

    pinch coverWe have tried some great products recently, and can’t wait to tell you about them.

    Pinch Dumplings  are awesome. They sell them at various farmer’s markets including the White House Market and Reagan Building Market. My favorites are the Shrimp & Pork, Traditional Pork, Traditional Lamb, and Lamb & Leek. The shrimp texture really pops nicely in the Shrimp & Pork dumpling. I can’t get enough of the lamb or pork versions either.  The dumplings come with a nice dipping sauce. Dan (the Dumpling Guy) really knows his stuff!

    We recently wrote about  NAR Gourmet (Turkish) products in a Test Kitchen article. The producer has since sent me two more jellies to try, peach marmalade and apricot marmalade. Are they actually marmalades? No, they are jellies. Are they good? Yes, they both taste great and are and very spreadable.

    Rana_Ravioli_ArtichokeWe recently sampled a box full of Giovanni Rana Fresh pastas and sauces. We loved everything we tried, including the Marinara Sauce, Pesto Sauce, Fettuccine, Cheese Ravioli, Cheese Tortellini, and Spinach Ravioli, but our favorite my the Artichoke Ravioli. Cy had to go to Safeway and buy more Artichoke Ravioli and Marinara Sauce. Safeway even carries Rana’s fresh Lasagne Sheets.

    We’ve been shopping at the  Springfield Butcher recently. They have fresh seafood (crab cakes, bacon wrapped scallops, salmon, grouper), house made BBQ ribs, ground elk or venison, venison brats, and various cuts of beef, pork, and poultry.

    If you are into jerky, read about Duke’s Smoked Meats in this article about Savor (the beer show).

    I recently started using T-fal’s Ingeneo pans. They are actually quite good and easy to store because they have interchangeable handles and lids.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 16May

    I attended Savor (the huge beer show) in Washington, DC  last night. I sampled some great beer at the show, and will show you some of the highlights. Let’s start with the oysters, which of course are great with beer.

    The Choptank Oyster Company was shucking their Choptank Sweets (Chesepeake Bay oysters), and serving them with lemon or one of three great sauces (ok, one was really a Champagne gelée so if more of a condiment) . The oysters were tasty, and my favorite of the three sauces was the Szechuan Chilli Mignonette, but the shucker’s favorite is Agave Kaffir Sauce.

    I attended a Salon (class) at the show: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer and Jerky. The presenters were Justin “Duke” Havlick (Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats), Mike Lawinski (FATE Brewing Company), and Jason Oliver (Devils Backbone Brewing Company).  Salon description: “Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats teams up with Devils Backbone Brewing Company and FATE Brewing Company to show attendees that smoked meats and jerky make for a quick, easy, versatile and most importantly, tasty partner for craft beer. Four beers will be perfectly paired with smoked meats and jerky from small batch producer Duke’s.” (Yes, they were good pairings.)

    I was new to FATE’s products, but they have only been in business a but over a year. FATE and Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats are both based in Boulder, CO.  Devils Backbone is local favorite for me since it is brewed in Virginia (and is excellent).

    Green Flash & Pork Belly

    I like Green Flash, this beer, and Pork Belly Brioche, but IMHO this was an unsuccessful pairing; the beer overpowered the food.

    My favorite of the 4 jerky’s was the Island Teriyaki Beef Jerky because I loved the chewy (but not tough) texture; it was paired with Devil’s Backbone’s Schwartz Bier, a German Style Black Lager. I very much enjoyed FATE Brewing Company’s Moirai IPA (with it’s grapefruit reminiscent scent and flavor); It paired well with the Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips. The Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips are nice because they are from a different cut of beef and is spicy; they were paired with FATE’s Barrel Aged Baltic Porter. The Traditional Dry Rub Beef Jerky is for the traditionalists; as someone who didn’t grow up eating jerky, it’s a tough chew for me since you have to gnaw on it. The Traditional Jerky (smoked with hickory and hops) was paired with Devils Backbone’s Striped Bass Pale Ale. BTW, Duke’s Shorty is delicious as well, although it was not part of the salon tasting.

    Most of the beer pairings were spot on, especially the ones paired with dessert. Below are some of the highlights. Yes, wild/sour beers and dessert pairing were common themes this year.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 30Mar

    Product Reviews:

    I used the new spice rub from Dizzy Pig, Bayou-ish, on various baked chicken dishes. This great tasting rub is designed for searing and blackening, but can also be used for baking or stir frying.

    I purchased two of Farmstead Ferments’ sauerkrauts from Relay Foods: the Apple Kraut (made with red cabbage) and the Classic Kraut. The producer is based in Charlottesville, VA, and creates raw, naturally-fermented foods and beverages made by hand in small batches. She uses “eco-locally grown” fruits and vegetables. You don’s want to kill the probiotics, so don’t cook the kraut. I use the krauts on good whole wheat Portuguese rolls with turkey sausages and mustard, but use a sweeter mustard (such as honey Dijon) with the (extremely strongly flavored) red kraut for the contrast in flavors. You can use this code (JXDVAG) to get $30 off of $50 on your first Relay Foods grocery pickup (they have pickup spots throughout the area) or delivery.

    I tried two of Saffron Road‘s simmer sauces: the Korean Stir Fry, and the Harissa. I used both of the sauces (separately) in chicken and vegetable dishes. Both sauces are tasty, and included combinations of flavors I didn’t expect (both include pear juice as an ingredient). I have a couple of other simmer sauces to try out, so I’ll report back on them later.

    I sampled a number of NAR Gourmet Turkish products. They products I tied are all are kosher (pareve), but only some are organic.

    NAR’s Organic Cumin and Organic Chili Pepper (flakes) are both good quality products; I used them together in a variety of dishes including home fries, and green beans. The Organic Chili Pepper arrived in a small glass bottle with a cork stopper, so, when I opened it, I half expected a genie to materialize. The Red Wine Vinegar and Early Harvest cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil are both good quality products, and what I expected; I used them on several delicious salads.

    NAR’s pressed Pistachio Oil is a new product for me, which is why I ordered it. It also took me a while to think of how I wanted to try it out. I considered making something with filo dough, or maybe a pasta salad, but did not have appropriate ingredients.  This morning, I combined the oil with butter and used it  to pan fry French toast with spectacular results. (We are talking spectacularly good, not spectacularly bad.) This is a great product.

    The last two NAR products that I tried were the Traditional Lemon Peel Jam and Traditional Mandarin Marmalade. They may both be traditional in Turkey, but I’m unsure that either one translates well to the US market.

    This particular “marmalade” isn’t what we (in the US) know as a marmalade (a jelly with some suspended slivers of rind), but a product that seems to be blended. As such, all you taste (besides a little sugar) is rind, and this is an overly bitter combination with an odd texture; I did not enjoy this product. My recommendation here is that NAR emulates how marmalades are made in the US (or even the UK, which is big on marmelades), in  order to produce a product appropriate to the market they are targeting.

    The Traditional Lemon Peel Jam is actually closer to a preserve than a jam, but I would describe it as candied lemon peel in syrup. The lemon peel is rolled up into little wheels, and aren’t really that enjoyable to chew on because of how big/thick the pieces are. Do I see possible uses for this product? Yes, if renamed something like “candied lemon peel in syrup,” I can see people using the candied lemon rinds and syrup in cooking, baking, and creation of  cocktails. You would chop the peels up to cook or bake with them.  I am sure they is a way to slice the peels up to use them to garnish a cocktail, and the syrup could definitely be used in cocktails.

    -JAY

  • 29Oct
    rsz_relayfoods

    This is what was supposed to be in the produce box, but they ran out of some items so made substitutions. It would be nice if this list was representative of what they actually gave me in the box.

    I recently added an ad/coupon for Relay Foods (a grocery pickup/delivery service) to the right side of DCFüd so that our readers can save $30 off of $50 on their first order. Relay Foods has many good quality products including those from local businesses and farms. I decided to try the grocery delivery service, and write this review about my experience with Relay Foods. I ordered $50 in groceries (total before adding the discount code).

    The Groceries:

    • Local Bounty Share Produce Box. Between the day of the order and the delivery, they changed the box to Fall produce. They should have sent me an email, so that I knew I’d get different produce than I’d ordered. The box did have good quality items, but some of the items in the Fall box were out of stock, so they replaced them with other items. Instead of 2 Asian pears, I received 1 pear but there was also 2 bell peppers instead of one. Instead of butternut squash,  received a small yellow summer squash. Instead of potatoes I received extra sweet potatoes.The greens in the box were organic mustard greens (that were actually from California while everything else seems to be local). The pear has a sticker identifying it as this Stemlit product (and organic); the pear was quite good.
    • Artisan Cuts‘ Freebird Whole Chicken from Artisan Cuts. Their description of the chicken: “These humanely raised chickens are grown in Amish Country, by experienced family farmers, who follow strict animal welfare standards. The chickens are free-roaming in well-ventilated, spacious barns, which offer more room than those of factory-raised birds. The chickens are vegetarian fed sun ripened corn and soybeans, and are never treated with antibiotics.” The chicken was very flavorful and obviously high quality; I will definitely purchase one in a future order.
    • Artisan Cuts’ Plainville Farms Ground Turkey – Fresh, 1 lb. I messed up the ground turkey meatballs by forgetting to add the beaten egg. They taste great, but are heavy and their texture is off, so can’t really judge the ingredient.
    • Family Ties & Pies‘ Mixed Berry Pistachio Scones, two Scones (frozen). I enjoyed the scones, and may try different varieties next time.
    • Mimi’s Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls, Honey Whole Wheat, 6-8 Pack, 20 oz. These are very good when warmed up.
    • Mission Home Bakeshop‘s Homemade Honey Oatmeal Bread, 16 oz. This had great flavor and texture when used to make French toast.
    • Bombolini Pasta‘s Spinach Fettuccine, 16 oz. It arrived half frozen, but it should not have been frozen at all. When I cooked it, the pasta stuck together (because it is not packaged in one layer so it can be frozen), was gummy, and inedible. I let Relay Foods know about the inedible pasta, and they apologized, removed the item from my bill, and gave me a $5 credit to be used on a future item.

    Other good products Relay Foods Carries:

    Virginia Vinegar Works. I’ve only tried the Heritage Blend Red (which is a good local product) but I noticed that they have the 500 ml White Heritage Blend and Chardonnay varieties on sale for $7.20 (instead of $12) right now.

    Holy Grael Sorbet. My favorite of Holy Grael sorbet is the Blackberry Lime.

    Cavanna Pasta. I am a fan of their Artichoke-Pesto Cannelloni and Spinach-Egg Taglierni.

    Moorenko’s Ice Cream. I have written about this company previously, and Relay Foods carry one of my favorites, the Honey Lavender.

    Soupergirl. We wrote about this soup company in 2009.

    Pickup and Delivery:

    Relay Foods has a map of their pickup spots. You can also get your order delivered (for a fee) or signup for monthly delivery service (for a larger fee).

    Customer Service:

    Relay Foods’ customer service by email and phone is excellent. When I noticed that the ground turkey I ordered was listed in my confirmation message as frozen instead of fresh, I called Relay Foods to change the item. The representative said they were out of fresh ground turkey, told me how to edit my cart, and told me to check the site in the next few days to see if it was back in stock. I let her know that I’d remove the frozen item and that they could email me if they have the fresh version in the next few days. The representative agreed and stated that she would call their butcher. I got an email the next day saying the item is back in stock, and added it back to my order. Customer Service (as mentioned earlier) also handled the issue with the spinach pasta in a positive way.

    The delivery person was running a half hour late (there was a 2 hour range), a customer service person called me at the end of my time range to let me know. When the delivery person (who was very nice) gave me the box (and I checked it out), there was a whole chicken I didn’t order. She told me I could keep it for free.

    So, yes, there were a few glitches here and there, but it is a new business. I will definitely order from Relay Foods again.

    -Jason

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