Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Tale of Sourdough, Assumption and Misinterpretation

Oh... and patience. This is definitely a tale of patience.

I have a problem with patience, especially when food is involved. On a glorious Sunday afternoon where I am sure that the birds were chirping around my head, in a neighborhood that I have grown to love, at a restaurant that serves amazing carb filled heavenly sandwiches on sour dough* as fluffy as clouds, with my favorite DC dining companion... that is where this tangled tale begins.

I may have had on my rose colored glasses but I was starved... and so was my companion. Upon arriving we were pleasantly surprised when the outdoor table customers had paid and even vocalized that they were ready to leave. I mean, could the day get more perfect?

That is, until they would not MOVE. As we waited, patiently at first, we noticed their non-verbals. The woman looked angry, first at her date and then at us. The longer we stood there, the more she glared and the longer they sat. With each second we grew more annoyed, more impatient and more judgmental.

Twenty minutes later they were still sitting, fumbling with their straws and we were quite disturbed. Maybe if we go inside they will leave. NO. Maybe if we hover they will leave. NO.
The bartender tries to convince us to sit at the bar. NO. We were holding out if we had to physically remove them.

By this point, my assumption is that they are being spiteful. They are unhappy, mean people. That's it, I know it.

Finally, thirty minutes and counting they stand-up, we start to make our move and they linger... LINGER, I tell you---hugging, talking and organizing the big dog that escaped from under the table. With each gesture we grow more mad. These people were ruining our day. Our day, you know, with the sun and the birds and the rose colored glasses. Then, we see it... maybe it was the way that he glanced over his shoulder or the cold hug he gave her or the tear in her eye--- this gal was doing more than lingering onto the table, she was lingering onto a relationship that was clearly over. They were breaking up. Breaking up over pancakes, mind you.

After a caloric tuna melt my perspective changed. Maybe it was the heavenly bread or a carb endorsed state of euphoria but my sediment for Karly (this is what I named the what I first labeled hateful but now fragile, girl in the tale) had changed, I no longer felt so angry. I had misinterpreted their behavior. I made it personal as we often do. I forgot that we should not make assumptions. And mostly, I forgot to be patient. After all, I think if I were broken up over pancakes I might behave the same way. I am not sure if I would linger but I would definitely be angry. . . because---come on man, the least you could do is order a gal something on the sourdough. Geez!

*Heavenly sourdough, caloric sandwiches and people watching can be found at Stoney's Lounge
on P and 14. Remember, bring your appetite, patience and an open mind.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Funny How Life Is...

I am finding that lately my days are filled with pleasant and unpleasant coincidences. I think about someone and they call... I think "wouldn't it stink to be locked out" and I walk out without my keys. Luckily for me the positive far exceeds the negative.

Today, my coincidental surprise was of the tasty sort.

I was in VA at Crate and Barrel when spied Cheesecake Factory. I normally hate a chain restaurant but this is one that is an exception. They have an amazing salad adorned with a Cilantro Peanut dressing that I could drink if it was appropriate to. Recently they have been selling it in-house and today I kicked myself for not going in and purchasing it. I mean, seriously Stacey, it is $8 and you were there.... but I did not buy it and I regretted it since 11:03 a.m.

This evening at Trader Joes they were sampling Spicy Peanut Slaw and as any good, hungry, money saving customer I sampled it... and there it was... my dressing.... here, three blocks away, $1.99 I find a Spicy Peanut Cilantro Dressing that was so good I gobbled my salad before I could photograph it for you. (And yes, I have incorporated meat back into my diet, only slightly

Spicy Peanut Salad with Grilled Chicken
Grilled Chicken Strips
Chopped Red Cabbage
Chopped Cucumber
Chopped Snow Peas
Mixed Greens
2 tablespoon Spicy Peanut Cilantro Dressing
Toss and Serve.

Served with the wine of the day from Best Cellars--Monarc Oliverhia Irsay and tunes from Brandi Carlise (who I plan to see October 7th!!!!!), it was one of the best meals I have had in a while. In honor of my recently read book I ate slow, with wine and good tunes... I was just alone, but not lonely. Now, tomorrow I will focus on employment of the permanent, well paying type, good hair and a fun evening... We will see what surprises these thoughts will bring me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chaos & Confusion in the Cupboard

I am reading a fascinating book, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan that is making me question my eating in a way that I never have.

I like to think that I am a fairly healthy eater. At times I am a little wacky at what I put in my body but I also clearly indulge with brownies, gelato and beverages, often. No judgement! Pollan says that most of American culture has become a little too obsessed with healthy eating. I know that I go to three separate grocery stores so I can get my Ezekial Live Cereal, homemade Peanut Butter and Brown Quinoa in bulk. I eat organic veggies and little meat. I think to some this could be seen as obsessive but to me it is the norm.

The book explains that we (the health obsessed) eat for the nutrients not the food. As a culture we are positioning foods as healthy but adding nutrients like Omega-3 or pro-biotics to foods that do not typically have them. I find myself victim to this... I am a sucker for enhanced Omega-3. The problem with this is that our bodies may or may not process these manufactured nutrients.

This book, though not rocket science, has muddied up my views on soy, nuts and overall consumption.

Seven main concepts that I took away:
1- Look at label. Less is more in terms of ingredients
2- Avoid products that have health claims. If they have to "claim" it... well, you get the point.
3- Shop open markets or the peripheries of grocery. Stay away from the box.
4- Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
5- Eat wild foods when you can, including meat.
6- Eat as the Asians do... or the French... or the Indians. Anyone except us dumb, unhealthy Americans.
7- Pay more, eat less, eat slow and with someone. Cook and enjoy your food...with wine.
That's advice I can take. So, if anyone is up for dinner, in honor of Pollan, I will cook wild and leafy foods with the promise good tunes and great wine and slow eating! Bon a Petit!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Love! Love! Love! Creative food options...

After a great day off enjoying the warm, not humid sunshine of the city, I met a friend at Bar Pilar on 14th Street for a snack and a glass of wine and was pleasantly surprised at the creative food options on the menu. I left both satisfied and inspired. This is the true test of a restaurant in my book. If I can leave wanting to re-create the dish or simply create something else then I have had a good experience. Pair this with good ambiance and great company and I will be back so soon. (Not to mention good wine and beer options!)

We were not very hungry but enjoyed Swiss Chard with Blue Cheese and Sour Cherries and a Sweet Corn and Parmesan Soup. The gal next to us was eating a Roasted Beet Salad that looked amazing. So many small plates and vegetarian options under $9 and the menu also had very temping meat options including a crisp bronzini with caper olive relish! I bet the calamari would be amazing, too!

With two small outdoor tables and a cozy outdoor scene, this is yet another 14th St restaurant I will frequent again...

No wonder this street was rated #1 Restaurant Street in DC, 2009. What a great way to start the Restaurant Week Celebration!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aftershocks. . .

So, I decided that leaving your life is like an earthquake.

When you instigate such a change, your whole world and everyone's world around you is disrupted--- practically shaken to the core. Then in a matter of moments, or weeks in my case, the ground stops shaking and things start to find their place. No matter what the decimal the quake we know that minutes, days, weeks or in my case a month later you can have an aftershock.

Today, on M Street in Georgetown I had my first aftershock. It was unexpected , confusing and sent me straight in the arms of the barista at Baked and Wired*. One Raspberry Creme Cheese Brownie and cappuccino later I was feeling a bit back to normal. It is amazing the power of the sugar & caffeine... and later the shopping and wine.

I am not sure how far my shock was felt but if you are still in disarray and no where near the District and my sweet sugar offering, cappachino making friends, I recommend this recipe for amazing brownies... they are not Baked and Wired recipe exact but you are sure to find comfort in this staple.

Raspberry Creme Cheese Brownies

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened

2 tsp. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg


Cooking spray

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 Tblsp water

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

2 large egg whites

3 Tblsp raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., coat an 8 inch baking pan with cooking sray.

To prepare the filling, beat the first 5 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well blended, set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring well with whisk. Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spread two-thirds of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Pour filling over batter, spreading evenly. Carefully drop the remaining batter and preserves by spoonfuls over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife to marble.

*Baked and Wired is my favorite DC coffee shop/bakery. Located on Thomas Jefferson, right down from my part-time gig at Anthropologie, this locally owned place is a gem! The employees always are in the best spirit, service is AMAZING and the baked goods... only a lyrical dance could express my love! As an added bonus, everything is organic... you know I love that. And plus, I am sucker for the guy that puts a heart in my very dry cappuccino. It is the little things that keep this gal coming back for more!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lycopene and Lyrics

I am fresh from a day of food shopping, library going and hanging out with my closest DC gal pal who shares my love of all foods whole. I am in the mood to re-create the wonderful soup* I sampled at the market with all my new local grown goods.

I cannot cook, or in this case blend, without good tunes. Tonight I not only offer my recipe but I offer my music mix. Sometimes the mood you bring to your cooking adds to the outcome (Hello, did you read Like Water for Chocolate?). My mood tonight is relaxed, happy and excited for the flavors my meal and week will bring me.

On tonight's menu:
Gazpacho Soup
Fresh and light and filled with lycopene, this cold soup is as much a summer vitamin concoction as a meal.

7 large tomatoes
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Large Onion, Vidalia or another sweet variety
1 Large Cucumber
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients other than olive oil to blender and pulse. Add oil slowly. Served chilled.

On tonight's music mix:
Can You Tell- Ra Ra Riot
Distorted Thoughts- Charlene Soraia
Fix You- Coldplay
Close Call- Rilo Kilay
Sex and ReRuns- Matt Duke
Brown Eyes- Andy Davis
Beautiful World- Colin Hay
No Time to Sleep- Tina Dico
I and Love and You- Avett Brothers
So Natural to Love- Toby Lightman

*Get ready... fall is coming and so is your favorite soup goddess... I cannot wait to make and share new recipes with you!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One pot perspective. . .

I realize that since I moved my operation to the Chaos on K one month ago I have cooked with only one pot. This pot, given as a present, was the source of great controversy in my last house... in this house it is the source of everything tasty. Funny how perspective, roles and outcomes can change in the matter of 30 days.

At the Eastern Market this Saturday I picked up beautiful eggplant, heirloom tomatoes and basil. I combined these items with onion and garlic for a Mediterranean feast for one.I started with the onion, garlic, eggplant and olive oil and later simmered in the tomatoes on low creating a ragu of sorts.I ate this dish hot and plain with fresh basil on top and a sprinkle (or two) of fresh Parmesan and the next day cold. I think that for pasta eaters it would be great with couscous or whole wheat pasta.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's Up with All the Pizza?

So, I have been in DC for three weeks now and every restaurant that I have eaten in (except one) or read menus of, has pizza on the menu. Gourmet pizza, mind you but it's pizza. I find it very interesting.

Could we be having a pizza culinary revolution? I feel like it is a little passe... haven't gourmet pizzas been around for awhile? Guess it is a simple, cost effective option for a chef... a blank palate of sorts to showcase your creative efforts. Hell, even I ordered one at Sette the other night. It was quite the tasty meal.

Pizza was on the menu at Pontenza but for a lunch out we opted for something lighter. Located at the corner of 15th and H Streets, NW,this restaurant has all the ingredients to be a success: the food, service and ambiance was great. So far this has been this finicky foodie's favorite DC find. It is actually a restaurant, bakery and wine shop under one roof... I do love someone that can multi-task.

The atmosphere was sophisticated and the menu was creatively simple. Rich orange walls and dark wood furniture presented a professional environment for the day time and a contemporary scene for night. The food (Italian- American) was priced great--- entrees for $8 to $20. Small plates under $10. My visiting girlfriend and I split Calamari (yes, I finally ate meat again), and Caprese Arugula Salad. The Calamari was fresh, light and very flavorful. The salad was amazing--- fresh heirloom tomatoes, basil, light dressing, marinated mozzarella and arugula presented as bite size morsels. I cannot wait to go back and try one of their talked up homemade pasta dishes. Their wine list was also appealing. Not to mention that the tiramasu at their bakery next door has been in my dreams nightly since my visit. Seriously.

District restaurants serving pizza I plan to visit soon:
Agraria Farmer's and Fishers

Will I cook pizza in the K Street kitchen this week? Doubtful, but I am sure I can cook up something other than chaos sometime soon...