Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taking a break

Hello readers,

As you have probably figured out, I'm taking a brief hiatus until things settle down and I'm moved into our new house. Once that happens, I promise lots of new recipe reviews, plus highlights from an amazing birthday dinner at Seasonal Pantry and a lovely, new-house celebratory dinner at PS7s. In the meantime...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Chiles Rellenos

There's this one stand at the farmers market the always has beautiful poblano peppers. I was feeling inspired one weekend (and I had some shredded Mexican cheese that badly needed to be used before it turned), so I decided to try CL's "chiles rellenos made easy." While they were AWESOME, I can't imagine how much effort regular chiles rellenos take, but these were still a total pain to make, not to mention a mess. I would probably only ever make them again for company. That said, damn they were good!

It turned out I had much less leftover Mexican cheese than I thought, so I ended up kind of flipping the Monterey Jack/goat cheese ratios (which P was less than thrilled about, since he's not a huge lover of the latter). I also reduced the overall cheese amount a bit, since goat cheese is so much stronger in flavor.

The end result was crispy and cheesy without actually being calorically indulgent. The sauce was super yummy too. And there was a ton of leftover whipped eggs after I coated all of the chiles, so I cooked up the remaining eggs in a skillet and finished them off in the oven for a fluffy souffle/omelet-type thingy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Three restaurants you should try in Alexandria, Annandale, and Arlington

This post is brought to you by the letter A and the number 3!

We'll start with Majestic, in Alexandria. This place is run by Chef Armstrong, the same chef that served us such delicious food on Pat's bday, only it's way more casual and affordable--not to mention easier to get a reservation at--and with a Southern bent. We went intending to do Nana's Sunday supper, but ended up each going our own ways with the menu instead...which gave me more opportunities to sample more dishes!

I was feeling adventurous and not really in the mood for meat, so I decided to try the vegetarian sampler dish, which is made up of "surprise" components. Really. The servers won't even tell you if you ask. Basically, it ended up being a bunch of the veg sides they normally serve, plopped into individual mounds on a plate. Although not really appealing to look at, most of it was absolutely delicious. I'm sure it helped that it was cooked with generous helpings of butter and/or heavy cream, but it's okay because it was vegetables, right? :) In any even, the brussels sprouts were fabulous, and I even finished the creamed corn. The rapini was a bit bitter, and I left the mashed potatoes untouched (they were basically flavorless), but I have to say, for a random plate of sides, I was pleasantly impressed.

P got a bouillabaisse that was pretty tasty, and I sampled some of his brother's fried green tomatoes, which were a-ma-zing. The bread at the table was also yummy and plentiful, kind of a fluffy soda bread.

Unfortunately, the service apparently was also Southern-themed and was slooooooow. I seriously think we were at dinner for 3 hours. Apparently Cathal needs to hire a server drill instructor to whip everyone into shape. It's hard to properly enjoy such tasty food when you're so ravenous by the time it gets to you that you wolf it down.

Next up, DaMoim in Annandale. This is a Latin-Korean fusion place out in the burbs that apparently turns into an "nss-nss" type club on Friday nights (as indicated by the DJ setting up as we were finishing our dinners). In any event, the staff is super friendly, and very enthusiastic...they were totally all wearing masks when we dined there the Friday before Halloween. They're also really good at pretending they put in your order and the kitchen is just running slow, when in actuality they totally forgot about you because they were busy serving a lady wearing a gazillion carat diamond ring and her friends.

But more importantly, the food! It was soo good. No vegetables to speak of, but that was okay. We started with pork belly sliders, which were served on bao bread with some fixings, including julienned apple, and a hoisin sauce. They were really creative and would have been phenomenal, I think, had the pork belly not been cold. The summer rolls were incredibly fresh (and we loved the addition of cilantro and mango), and the skewers came in an addictively tasty sauce. But what really stole the show were the tacos. We got two kinds, the galbi (beef) and the spicy pork. The latter was definitely greasier; both were seriously phenomenal. They are worth a trip all by themselves.

Finally, BGR in Arlington. I know there are a few of these in the area, but we had never been...I'm rarely in the mood for a restaurant burger, and if I am, I want to go all-in with a Hell-Burger. But, I got a coupon for a free burger from BGR in the mail for my birthday, and you all know how much I love freebies, so I couldn't resist! Outside of the nightmare of trying to find a parking spot in Clarendon, the whole take-out pick-up experience was wonderful. Everyone is super-friendly and accommodating, and when I presented my coupon, I was given a free burger AND a free brownie!!! It's like they know me.

P and I split a Wellington (which, contrary to the name, is not wrapped in puffed pastry, but is smothered in a goopy combo of caramelized onions, mushrooms, truffle and foie (or so the menu claims)) and a regular burger, a ginormous lunchbag of fries seasoned with whole roasted garlic cloves, rosemary, and parm, and the brownie. The former burger was deliciously earthy and tasted much better than it looked (seriously, the Wellington sauce kind of looks like slop). Both burgers were cooked to perfection, flavorful, juicy, and sizable. The fries were so good they didn't even need ketchup. I totally ended up eating the equivalent of an entire burger and nineteen servings of fries, but I couldn't stop myself, and I most certainly wasn't letting any of that goodness go to waste! BGR, my burger cravings may be few and far between, but when they return, I will be back!

(portions x-posted to