June 29, 2007

Poached Eggs and Other Goals

So I made my first attempt this morning at poaching an egg, just like I saw Martha do it on her show the other day with Martin Short. Ok, so maybe I didn't follow Martha's example to a tee. Which is probably why my egg did not come out looking like Martha's when it was done. Apparently it's not that easy. I think my first mistake was using a pot instead of a more shallow saute pan or skillet. I also vaguely remember hearing somewhere that a splash of vinegar in the water helps the egg stay together, which of course I did not do... I'll be on Martha's website researching this technique right away, as it is one I'd like to perfect.
My "other goal" is to learn to make Beef Wellington - something I've never eaten and probably would never order from a menu - but an important recipe nonetheless. The truth is, I've just started watching "Hell's Kitchen," the FOX reality show with chef Gordon Ramsay and wannabe chefs competing to run their own restaurant (this season it will be in Las Vegas). Ramsay yells and swears nonstop at the contestants, and sometimes there is so much bleeping from the censors that I actually cannot figure out what he's saying. Anyway, one of the main dishes at the competition restaurant is Beef Wellington, and from what I can see, it is not an easy dish to get right. So of course, I must master it!
Maybe I'll start a list of things I need to learn to do successfully:
poach an egg
make beef wellington
ok that's a start!

June 25, 2007

Save the lost dogs!

I visited The Lost Dog Cafe last night in Arlington, VA. The original plan was to go to The Stray Cat Cafe (just a few doors down) but they were closed. So Lost Dog it was! And yes, you probably guessed that both places are owned by the same people. They help lost animals by helping them find homes. (See websites for details). When you enter the Lost Dog, the first room is full of beer and wine that you can purchase on the go, as well as a counter for party platters. Lost Dog is definitely more casual than its feline sister, but sometimes aren't you just in the mood for pizza or a sandwich? The "pizza-deli" serves basically just that - pizzas and sandwiches, and the menu is huge. There are many pre-designed pizzas and sandwiches, or of course you can design your own using their extensive list of ingredients. The beer selection is also HUGE, but they have other homemade drinks worth trying, like milkshakes, malts, root beer, and the delicious Clemson Tiger Tea (aka an Arnold Palmer). I had a Coke and we shared a basket of Dog Collars (tabasco onion rings) which were tasty but not as crispy as I would have liked. I did not order a pizza - OK I have to be honest, the pizzas did not look that good - but instead the San Diego sandwich: chicken salad (you can also get tuna salad) on a sub roll with guacamole, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Now why you would need mayo on a sandwich with chicken salad (aka chicken with mayo) and guacamole is beyond me, but they held the mayo, no questions asked. It was ok - too much chicken salad, and way too many (red) onions in it, not enough guacamole for the guac lover that I am, but the bacon was crispy and the lettuce and tomatoes fresh. I tasted their banana fudge milkshake for dessert, yummy, full of bananas, but described by the bf as "an upscale Frosty from Wendy's" - it wasn't that banana-ey even with all the banana.
My overall impression: The service was fast and friendly, they do great work helping dogs (I am a dog lover), and the sandwiches are fresh. I would go elsewhere for pizza since the crust reminded me of bisquick crusts from yesteryear (see my post on 2 Amys for good pizza!) and the floors could have been cleaner, although in their defense, it was the very end of the night. Prices are reasonable, however, and for a quick bite in the neighborhood, especially with kids, it seems like a fun place to go.

N.B. One bathroom for men, one for women; women's was clean, had soap, towels (in the wonderful motion-sensor dispenser,) a step-on garbage can, and you could push your way out of the door, although it's hard to open the door with a paper towel and then reach with your foot to step on the can to throw it away while holding the door open :) I prefer garbage cans with no lid, which are much easier to toss the towel into as you ease out the door.

http://www.lostdogcafe.com/ and http://www.thestraycatcafe.com/

June 22, 2007

Late-night sushi

So last night I went to Cafe Asia in Rosslyn (Arlington, VA) for a late bite to eat. I used to love that place, but maybe I'm getting too old for it. It is ridiculously loud in there, with music and TV blasting from the bar out to the dining room area. We were seated smack dab next to someone (I was actually sharing the bench with them) which would be understandable if they were busy, but it was 11pm and there were many empty tables... I had the sushi dinner which comes with 8 pieces of nigiri sushi (fish on top of rice) plus one roll (tuna) and a bowl of miso soup. I had to remind the waiter to bring the soup, and he almost seemed upset, as though he was hoping I would have forgotten about it and he could be done faster. Who knows? It might have just been my imagination. The soup was delicious when it arrived, however, and I loved the fresh scallions. The sushi plate was also very good and fresh. I made a special request (no crab because I'm allergic) and it wasn't a problem. I did not have dessert last night, but their mango with sticky rice is to die for. Plusses: big outdoor seating area, really delicious mango dessert, good martinis.

N.B. I did not visit the restroom last night either, but it can be a little scary, because it's right near the bar, and sometimes there is a faint reminder in the air of prayers to the porcelain god, if you know what I mean.


June 21, 2007

D.O.C. Pizza in DC

If you are in D.C. and looking for some good pizza, go straight to 2 Amys pizzeria on Macomb St., just north of the National Cathedral. I went there a few nights ago and had a pretty nice time. There was a wait, as usual, but as my boyfriend had just reminded me that there was outside seating, I asked if we might be seated more quickly on the patio. I had actually never sat outside there before, and I soon realized that it's better to wait for a table inside then to sit outside. It's quite dark ~ and I don't like eating in the dark ~ with only a few dim lights hanging over some of the tables, and just past the fence around the patio I could see two dumpsters. Needless to say, I quickly went in and asked the hostess if we could be put on the waiting list again for an inside table, and she was more than happy to oblige. It turns out we didn't have to wait at all, and we were quickly seated at a 2-top next to the wall. The bf ordered his usual appetizer, the suppli' al telefono, small rice balls filled with cheese, then fried. In my house we call them arancini. They bring 5 suppli' on a white plate, and they just kind of roll around on the plate in their own oil. This is not the first time that I've noticed that the plate could use a sprig of parsley or basil or something to create a nice presentation. I know the place is somewhat rustic, but would a little green be that difficult to place on the side? Anyhow, we both ordered the Margherita Extra - the traditional Neapolitan pizza but with halved cherry tomatoes (the "extra") in addition to the tomato sauce. The pizza was quite good, my only complaint being that the crust was slightly too salty. Also, on recent visits it seemed that the pizzas were getting smaller and smaller, but I'm happy to report that my pizza last weekend was of a healthy size. All in all I don't know another place in the area that does Neapolitan-style pizza better than 2 Amys. One last piece of advice: if you order the dried, cured meat plate (salame, coppa, etc.), ask them to slice it for you fresh. I ordered it once and the meat was so dried out it was unrecognizable. But in general, the service is good, the food is better, and the atmosphere is really fun and sometimes boisterous.

N.B. There are two single-person restrooms, one for men and one for women. The women's is always clean, has nice soap, and paper towels. Haven't seen the men's but haven't heard any complaints.



For years I have imagined how great it would be to write about food for a living. I love food. I love seeing it, smelling it, cooking it, eating it, and even reading about it. Although I will probably never be able to sustain myself on my food opinions alone ~ I am a classical musician, a much more lucrative profession to be sure ~ I am thrilled with the idea of creating a new blog where I can share my ideas on food, from restaurants to my home kitchen. I also tend to notice the quality of restrooms in restaurants that I visit, and where possible I will give information regarding the status of the facilities provided.