Monday, August 25, 2008

Please, Folks

So, I hear from Australia that demand for upscale cat food is contributing to overfishing.

Overfishing is actually one of the environmental causes that I really care about (I've actually written to Congress on this issue); after seeing the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, I realized that we are pulling too much from the ocean and it's just not sustainable.

It's one thing if people eat good fish, but cats? Come on. This is like dog food that looks better than Dinty Moore. It's even packaged better (see Dinty Moore products here).

Dogs will eat anything. Cats will eat most meat products unless you make them picky. They do not need to eat our food, thus imperiling my chance to get sushi (or pickled herring in cream sauce) twenty years from now.

Stop the cat food madness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Puccini, or Not

I said in my last blog post that we were going to dinner. It was a good dinner. As is our tradition, I'll blog my side.

Went to Tosca last night here in DC, and did not know that the waiters were refilling my glass with pinot noir as I focused on my food. I was a tad loopy on the Metro home (the Sherbs, as always, was very tolerant of my shenanigans).

My meal was as follows:
1) Red mullet and sardines with fava beans and tomatoes - did not taste like the sardines one's used to. Salty, tasty, and the beans were terrific.

2) Quail stuffed with shiitake mushroom. I love me some quail, and this was deliciously moist, on a bed of wilted swiss chard and grilled artichokes. I have never had chard so good, but I tend to stay away from chard and kale because they can be bitter as all get out (still, we're making a dish featuring kale at home in a couple nights - and may make more if kale stays at 99¢ per pound).

3) Gorgonzola ice cream with candied celery and rosemary - as soon as I saw this incredibly Iron Chef-y dish on the menu, I knew I had to have it. Verdict: I loved it. My father (for whom dessert is chocolate) would not.

I believe, in my drunken stupor, I told the Sherbs "it's like an appetizer, for dessert, but sweet." It's a little more than that, but the drunk summary suffices for rough work. The ice cream itself is not sweet; it's more neutral and gorgonzola-flavored. It's eaten with the candied celery, which is like a relish or a fruit topping, and also mixed with the honey syrup that the ice cream is placed in.

The sommelier's wine selection was excellent (we took advantage of his recommendations), and I loved the plum tomato foccacia in the bread basket.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Restaurant Redux

Recently I noticed, using Google's Webmaster Tools, that this blog is one of the top searches for the Quebec City restaurant Le Pain Beni. Which is good, because we really liked the food there; I have never had better sweetbreads in chocolate sauce, and the Sherbs had great stuff which does not automatically turn off the non-food-adventurous.

The breakfast there, while really only croissant, fruit, baked beans, and little meat tarts, was a great start to a day of trudging through the snow.

Tonight we'll be going to a fun restaurant here in DC with my boss. Hopefully it will be non-awkward.

Do You Drink the Muffin Drink?

Since the news today is filled with cows attacking bears and the McCain campaign's baseless slurs against Dungeons and Dragons, I thought it would be a good idea for a similarly frivolous post, based on a prior conversation I had with the Sherbs.

How do you make a mixed drink that tastes like a muffin?

We have some cheap blackberry wine (as mentioned before, purchased at a sale at the Teet), and I think with Cointreau, vodka, and a butterscotch schnapps in the right quantities, it can approach muffin-tasting (I think it would be better with blueberries, but the Sherbs doesn't like blueberries).

With bourbon and blackcurrant liquor, you might be able to approach "raisin bran." Or create something vomitrocious (a neologism that I find not as good, but more useful, than my new favorite non-word "baconostalgia"; furthermore, it turns out that I didn't invent it; "vomitrocious" has been used in such cultural touchstones as an episode of Arthur, the PBS cartoon about an aardvark that does not look at all like an aardvark).

"Chocolate muffins" are actually cupcakes, and so those suggesting Godiva liqueur recipes should take note. Vermeer is better for most mixed drinks, anyway; it's like the Cocio of chocolate booze.

Man, I wish I knew of a place that sold Cocio around here. It's not only better than Nesquick and Yoo-hoo (not hard, especially since Yoo-hoo is one step removed from the weird marsupial-equivalent-in-evolution beverage that is Ovaltine), but from the stuff you make at home with chocolate syrup. It is tasty-riffic.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eating, Drinking, and Merriment

The Sherbs has already mostly dealt with Sette Bello; my only contribution is to add my meal there, which was a seafood medley on squid ink pasta (pretty good, although basically just stuff in a garlic-butter sauce; not exceptional) and the veal with saffron risotto entree (veal: slightly dry. Risotto: good).

At least as tasty was the pasta dish the Sherbs cooked up last night, which was spinach and garlic on whole wheat rigatoni, topped with parmesan and chopped walnuts. Really tasty.

We also made sangria yesterday to get rid of the half-bottles of cranberry wine and cheap red wine we had lying around (especially since they had a sale on fruit wines at the Teet, and we stocked up). The fruit part was contributed by a frozen fruit medley we were initially going to use in smoothies, but then we used the yogurt for something else...I can't remember what.

Tonight I am going to try to rock the wok with a paella. Wish me luck!

Sadly, This Place Doesn't Have an Illusion to a 90s Boy Band

Saturday evening, The Pedant and I (along with 6 others) went to another Restaurant Week restaurant - Sette Bello in Arlington.

(Before I continue with the review of the Saturday restaurant, I will say I agree with TP's review of Fyve. I had the mixed green salad with a shallot vinaigrette, which was very tasty, and the homemade parpadelle with a mushroom ragu. That was excellent. Very tasty. Not the best pasta dish I have ever had, but very good. The best part was by far desert. I had the two mini souffles (chocolate and grand mariener) with a mini carafe of cream. I wanted to take a bath in them, they were soooooooo good. Perfectly creamy and warm and tasty.)

I happened to go to this Italian restaurant before, which is located in the super hip part of Arlington. This might have been one of those places restaurant week was "wasted" on. It wasn't that expensive for just entries but I guess for the three courses you save a few bucks. It was nice and homey and big. We sat at a long, wide wooden table. The bread was warm and the olive oil was tasty, but I was reminded from my non-fancy lunch with TP yesterday at Bertucci's that EVOO is MUCH better for dipping with herbs and hot pepper. Anyway, turns out, they hate lacto-ovarians at this place for restaurant week. As opposed to 5 choices for appetizers and entrees, there were two. Granted, they had "vegetarian" choices, but those were full of fish. Blech. I was a bit POed, but the waiter was able to get the chef to do a different option. I got a spinach salad with pears and a tasty cheese in a lemon dressing to start and a mushroom risotto for an entree. The salad was great. The entree was AMAZING. (Well, if it had more mushrooms, it would have been better...) Creamy and delicious. Desert was one option - a white chocolate mouse with raspberries. Very good.

The verdict: since the staff was nice, this might be a fun place to go to for upscale Italian with a casual atmosphere. Which I already knew, since I was there in that capacity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When the Lights Go Out...

Wait, wait, the title here is thinking of 5ive, the nineties boy band not quite as good as N*Sync, instead of fyve, the similarly spelling- and punctuation-challenged restaurant in the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. It's called "fyve" because it's near the Pentagon, and, as you know, the federal government's largest Platonic solid has five sides.

We went for Restaurant Week. The Sherbs picked the restaurant; I asked that it be in Arlington County if possible, worrying that if we stayed in DC proper, we'd be surrounded by people our age who work on/with the Hill or nonprofits trying to impress each other, and I'd have to beat our neighbors to death with a chair in frustration. Who really wants to hear some guy from the Brookings Institution try to impress the gal he's with by talking about all the fancy foreign conferences he's gone to?

This was not a problem at fyve; we were easily the youngest people there by ten years.

There were some minor discontents with my meal, which I chalk up mostly to restaurant week: the bread was not particularly fresh and the service was slower than desired. Also, the coffee was fantastically expensive, although it was brewed just how the Sherbs likes - stronger than a locomotive - so maybe we're paying for the premium.

The dishes I ordered, though, were quite tasty. The appetizer was a salad of diced red potatoes, parsley, and lightly cooked tomatoes in a vinaigrette, topped with grilled tiny octopus. The octopus itself wasn't dressed, just sprinkled with salt, which I think was the right road to go down with this dish. The acidity of the salad and the sweetness of the octopus made a good counterpoint.

The entree was roast of rabbit with mustard, served over a bed of fennel, asparagus, and white beans. Rabbit stayed tender, and the mustard made it tasty. The asparagus were peeled and cooked in butter; no complaints there. I would have liked more fennel (I only seemed to get the outside parts of the bulb), but otherwise I enjoyed the dish.

Dessert was lemon meringue, cooked to the consistency of a mousse, on a shortbread crust, topped with a huge flake of caramelized sugar and with blueberry jam on the sides. The pastry chef knows how to please the Restaurant Week customer.

Given the prices, we may not come back often after Restaurant Week (although we might hit the bar just to seem awesome), but it was a good taste experience.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Froz-Food, Redux

Anyone remember "Froz-Fruit"? My camp memories of it are disappointing, but this was also the camp where I got salmonella for a week and then developed a (possibly psychosomatic) stiff neck for another week that was so bad that it hurt when I walked across rough terrain.

Perhaps this is also why I do not enjoy movies which show summer camp as a fun bonding experience. It was not mine.

Anyway, the frozen dinners last night were tastier than I would have expected from the Kashi company (makers of "Goodfriends," which some website photo-manipulated the box to read "Goodfriends with no sense of personal space," a joke I still find hilarious). I expected something more like "fructose on puffed wheat," which is my memory from when my family attempted to eat Kashi cereal (this was maybe a decade ago).

I believe some family members actually did eat the cereal, but I had trouble enjoying it as I only liked the puffed wheat balls lightly dusted with malt powder or whatever it was that made them ever-so-subtly sweet, as opposed to tasting like raw fiber. They were, of course, 10% of the total cereal, because at that time health food was for ascetics.

But I digress again. The frozen dinners are pretty tasty. I enjoyed a cheesy pesto penne, and the Sherbs had brown rice with mango (still fibrous, but at least it tasted like something). I think those are the only two meatless options with Kashi frozen food; for some reason, frozen food purveyors love their animal protein.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Frozen Dinners

Knowing that we'd be away all weekend and knowing that we wouldn't have time to go food shopping all week, The Pedant and I stocked up on some frozen things for dinner. Last night, our plan worked perfectly - we had a frozen Kashi pizza. The outcome: not bad. It was a nicer substitute for pasta or ordering in Chinese (well, healthier than the later at least). It was cheesy and tasty and a nice way to have a healthy meal. Plus, eating it in front of the TV while watching The Simpsons made it even tastier!

Tonight: frozen Kashi single-serve dinners. Tomorrow: Restaurant Week in DC!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Travel Food Frustration

I have learned that our Garmin StreetPilot, which is otherwise very good despite my urge to say "StreetPilot" like the digitized introduction voice to the "Michael Jackson's Moonwalker" arcade game, has one major shortcoming: it does not provide sufficient information to identify the acceptable food locations within a short distance of I-95.

Hitting the "food" button gets the restaurants by distance from your present location, which, if you're eight miles from the nearest exit, may be twenty-five miles worth of driving.

Also: no accounting for quality. And some of those places are very closed.

Now that I've suffered this problem, not to mention ten hours in a car in traffic and torrential rain (and the only fair "Yankee pot roast sandwich" at a "Cookery"-branded Flying J truck stop restaurant) , I have found that there is an entire site called "I-95 Gourmet."

Also, I should be cross-referencing this list with a map.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baked Cheetos

I've been eating 100 calorie packs of baked Cheetos. They have a mouth feel as if they were made pre-stale for my convenience, but the cheese powder is still good.

Maybe they should just sell cheese powder like Pixie Stix™.

I would eat that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This morning, after a night of bad sleep for me and The Pedant, we went to the gym and then had some extra time so made ourselves a tasty breakfast of champions. TP concocted a tasty egg scramble (I toasted our bread!) consisting of store-brand egg whites, some fake ham sliced up, sauteed chopped ren onion, and a small handful of light cheddar cheese. The outcome: delicious. Really, very good. Mmmm... I think this type of scramble (or maybe when we have more time, individual omelettes) will be in our regular rotation. While I am a big fan of the turkey and bologna slices, I don't really love the ham. I think becasue pre-vegetarian days bacon was my treif of choice. But in eggs, this ham was good.

Tonight for dinner we're looking forward to a Vegetarian Times double whammy: Cold Tofu Salad with Asparagus and an Edamame Succotash.

In other cooking news (related), I made a cold strawberry soup last night for dinner. I made 2 servings, but TP doesn't love cold fruit soups. I do. It was tasty. And Kirkland brand white wine (well under $10) is tasty.