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Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Munchies: Halloween Eats

Some fun pictures from our Halloween adventures. Disclaimer: we stole most of these ideas from Pinterest:

The spread. We made the banner.

"Candy corn" cupcakes and meringue ghosts.


Port wine cheese "pumpkin."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Munchies: Fast Gourmet

Plaudits: Washington City Paper Best of DC 2011
Neighborhood: U Street

The Setup


I have been hearing people preach the gospel of Fast Gourmet almost as long as I've lived in the neighborhood. With Official Roommates of DCWD Rajistan and Talia on hand, along with Official Friend of DCWD Chill, we decided to venture off to this hidden gem.

The Vibe

Rajistan and I get into disagreements about this from time to time, so let's just make this plain right here: Fast Gourmet is in a gas station. Yes, it's a separate entity from the gas station, but when you have to walk through the convenience store part of the station to get there, it's basically part of it. That being said, it certainly cleans up nice for its less-than-refined setting. The color scheme is that of black and electric green, with a wall of coolers to one side, and bar seating alongside the outside window to the other. Between you and the lunch counter is a set of plain black two-tops and a high table. On the scale of comfort and decor, it's somewhere higher than a greasy spoon (or compare another way, a little bit better than contemporary Ray's Hell Burger).

The Food


I asked the man at the counter what his preference was, and he led me to the Chivito: a pressed sandwich of pork tenderloin, mozzarella, black forest ham, bacon, green olives, egg, and escabeche marinade. And they came with a side of shoestring fries. Phew, that's a lot of ingredients.

Let's also make something clear here: the main conceit of Fast Gourmet is that its setting and its name belie the quality of its sandwiches. This was delicious. With that many ingredients, there are places where it could go wrong, and certainly if you're afraid of salt, then this might not be for you. But this was a bundle of classic Latino flavors in one savory hulking bite. Honestly, it hit a lot of great notes for me. Plus, the shoestring fries were a nice touch. And they're open late, meaning I am definitely wandering my way back here again.

The Verdict


A very, very good sandwich, for a gas station or otherwise.

Food Rating: ****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 1.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
N/A
Vibe:
Calm
Cost:
$
(out of 5) (less than $25 for two)

Fast Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RedRocks

Plaudits: Washingtonian
Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

The Setup


Looking for brunch and cheap mimosas, Official Girlfriend of DCWD Texas and I headed over to RedRocks Pizzeria.

The Vibe


RedRocks sits in a modified townhouse, and retains much of that vibe. Inside is a mash of exposed brick and bright yellow paint and wood flooring. To the left as you walk in is a small bar. Seating seems to be mostly twos with a few fours and because of the size of the house, the actual number of seats is fairly limited. RedRocks does benefit from having a large patio out front, where we sat for this meal.

The Food


Not feeling super industrious, Texas ordered a simple breakfast (two fried eggs, potatoes, a hunk of sausage she gave to me), and I had the Sunrise Pizza (a fried egg, and potatoes). The breakfast was fine (in that it was something everyone could make decently), but the pizza was really the question here: not only is it obviously the lifeblood of the restaurant, but with so many people professing such strong opinions about the pizza here, I had to try it out.

Breakfast pizzas probably deserve their own category, based on the uniqueness of their toppings, but you can still take away a lot about a pizzeria's quality from them. The Sunrise had a lot going for it, namely the nice crisp on its crust (which came hand-in-hand with the blackened taste that's nice), and a decent flavor. Still, sitting there and eating through it, I couldn't help but wonder what the fuss was about. It wasn't any big flavor like Matchbox, it wasn't the richness of 2 Amy's, and it wasn't the total package that is Comet Ping Pong. In short, probably on the second tier with Pizzeria Paradiso and Pete's.

The Verdict


Good pizza, but just not in that coveted first tier in DC.

Food Rating: ** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Hipster Hangout
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$
(out of 5) (less than $25 for two)
Pairing
: Head a block west to the Target complex, and fashion at date out of things you can buy for under $10 apiece.

RedRocks Firebrick Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Posto

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: 14th Street/Logan Circle

The Setup


Needing both a high-class place to celebrate, and a pasta-oriented dinner to carb up for the Nation's Triathlon two days afterwards, Official Girlfriend of DCWD Texas and I headed over to 14th Street's Posto.

The Vibe
Posto is the sister restaurant to Tosca, and rumored to be a favorite of Obama administration officials, and its decor is likely the reason; it's cushy and white-cloth, but not at the expense of being repressive. Out front is a sizable patio, which seems to be open whenever the restaurant feels like it, rather than by the weather (at least that's what it seems like on my daily walk past it to and from work). Inside is a stone bar to your left as you walk in, set behind glass screens of bright photos of the mood-setting things, like wine barrels or the Italian countryside. Behind the bar is a set of oenomatic machines (which I hadn't seen since The Tasting Room), and whole walls are set in bright honey-colored wood paneling. Separating the bar from the main dining area is a bar-height community table and a brick oven in the back. The main space is a series of fours with a line of larger tables by the curtained front wnidows, and a row of leather half-booths along the right wall. This side is covered with a panel series of sunflower paintings and some photos of leaves. Lighting is dim, especially as the night moves on.

The true nice part about Posto was the service. Our server on this occasion was named Ann-Marie, and she was absolutely a joy (Texas called her the best service that she's ever had in DC). Friendly and definitely knew very well the fine line between being a good part of the experience and being overbearing. She even sold us on an Italian red wine (despite both of us being avowed not into Italian wine). I don't remember many servers, and I've almost never asked for a particular one when going to a restaurant again, but this might be a first.

The Food


With our champagne at the bar, Texas and I shared the polipetti: a mix of tiny pieces of grilled baby octopus, saffron potatoes, and chickpeas on a frisee salad. This dish was fine, which is to say that it was texturally fun, but still sort of bland. This is strange to say in retrospect, since the words "octopus" and "saffron" don't usually coincide with a lack of flavors, but it was just that: an interesting bite, but nothing that was mind-blowing.

When we sat at the table, I talked Texas into trying something she never had had before: burrata. I've waxed poetic about burrata before, and with good reason. Mozzarella stuffed with more mozzarella and cream? Sign me up. Coated with some olive oil and salt and pepper and served with cherry tomatoes, olives, and cucumber noodles, it was an absolute delight (though in honesty, how could you possibly mess that up?).

For our main courses, I ordered the Scapinash, ravioli-like pasta stuffed with a combination of ricotta, golden raisins, amaretto cookie, and brioche in a butter sage sauce. This was a lot of fun for me. Lots of richness from the cheese and the butter, but with a hint of sweet, probably from the raisins and the amaretto. Butter-based sauces are start on a leg up with me, but the sage grounded it well, and the whole dish still seemed hearty, despite its lack of protein.

Texas went with the Bismarck, a tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza topped with ricotta, spinach, and a large organic egg; she also opted to add truffle oil for an upcharge. I like breakfast pizzas a lot so I liked this very much, whereas Texas did not enjoy the egg combination. That being said, it was still a solidly made pizza, and the truffle oil (though a bit like cheating) really did change the pizza up a lot. At the least, we both agreed this was a comparably good pizza to others we've had around the city.

For dessert, we had what Ann-Marie described as a "deconstructed tiramisu." In place of the traditional cake was a shot of hot chocolate, scoops of mascarpone cream and espresso ice cream and a chocolate cookie. Despite its presentation, it actually blended well together. And honestly? It was better than some of the regular tiramisus I've had otherwise: light instead of heavy, multiple flavors instead of the one note of cream. Lovely.

The Verdict


Maybe not the best Italian food in the city, but definitely good, and with some of the best service we've had in the city. We're definitely going back for our next special occasion.

Food Rating: ****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 4.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Classy Crowd to Suits Scene
Vibe:
Energetic

Cost:
$$$
(out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing
: This might be a bit of cheating, since I've used Studio Theatre once before, but I mean it's right next door. See there new 2011-2012 season here.

Posto on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Munchies: Point Chaud

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Two locations, both on 14th Street: one near McPherson Square area, one near U Street/Logan Circle.

The Setup


Official Mother of DCWD MV was craving crepes. I can't explain why, or how she got onto this kick, only that it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday, and she just wanted crepes. So off we (Official Father of DCWD DV, as well as Official Siblings of DCWD Caribou and NAM) went to Point Chaud in Logan Circle.

The Vibe


Point Chaud is like a lackadaisical French cafe. It has some of the hallmarks: bright blue and white tiles with bright marigold yellow walls, those ubiquitous art deco/nouveau posters, and two small cafe tables outside. Still, it always seems dim and dusty no matter the time of day, a fact probably owing to the relatively few lights hanging from the exposed black ceiling above. The rest of the seating is wicker basket-weave two-top after two-top, except for one full booth in the back. It's something that makes you say, "I see where you're going here, but I wish you would just try a little harder."

The Food


Despite the fact there were five of us, we ordered only two crepes, one savory and one sweet. To start we had the tuna, which came with jack cheese, olives, tomatoes, and onions. I had low expectations for this one, mostly because I couldn't imagine how a fish crepe could be any good. That being said, the tuna was actually pretty well done, escaping the fishy-tasting mush that it come sometimes be (see: tuna salad, supermarket). In combination with the included vegetables, it actually was fairly refreshing, more like a summer salad than a crepe.



For our sweet crepe, MV chose the nutella, blackberry, and strawberry. It's hard to see how you can mess up fruits and nutella (short of putting old fruit in there), so I'll take this opportunity to talk about the crepe itself. These particular ones were fairly fluffy, which was a comfort; on the spectrum of crepes, they were more like injera than tortillas. This made for an altogether pleasant bite.

The Verdict


Good crepes, in a nice neighborhood sort-of place.

Food Rating: ***
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
N/A
Vibe:
Calm
Cost:
$
(out of 5) (less than $25 for two)

Point Chaud Café and Crêpes on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Munchies: Things We're Cooking Lately

A lazy entry for a lazy morning. Things we've cooked lately that are simple, and easily re-creatable:

Watermelon and feta salad with mint on arugala

 Heirloom tomato bruschetta with shredded parmesan



Fried squash blossoms, stuffed with mint and goat cheese

Breakfast baked potato, with bacon, eggs, spinach, and mushrooms



Fried green tomatoes benedict topped with bacon

Strawberry, raspberry, and rhubarb pie with almond streusel

Top 5 Things We Learned From These Exercises:

1) Best way to poach an egg? Add some vinegar, swirl the water first, and then drop the egg in.
2) Squash blossoms are delicate, and a pain to work with, but are delicious.
3) Balling a melon with an ice cream scoop is not as easy as doing it with a melon baller.
4) Hollandaise very quickly turns to just fried eggs if you're not careful.
5) Sometimes pie crusts are just easier to buy than make by hand.