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foodzings: April 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh, The Colors!

With the weather continuing with its swelter, my body continued to crave cold foods. I had a bunch of veggies handy and this bag of radiatore that needed to be used, so I whipped up a quick pasta salad. I love me some radiatore. Whenever I've had saladworks, I always have them put tons of their pasta in there, and it happens to be radiatore. There's just something about its shape that I dig. And this is a very difficult pasta shape to find in regular grocery stores. Believe me, I tried. But then I found this multi-colored one from trader joe's. Score. This just turned out to be one hell of a colorful pasta salad. With yellow pepper, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, the vegetable radiatore, and the mozzarella, it was all the damn colors of the rainbow. I had a bottle of vinaigrette that was nearing its expiration date, so I just threw that in there as the dressing. It was just what I wanted.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hate Post

I don't really like to use this blog to say negative things... BUT... I have to make an exception here. I like bagels. I like them for breakfast. And I like cream cheese on them. Plain bagels with plain cream cheese. Plain and simple. I like the bagels from trader joe's, the regular ones and the mini ones. I've had the regular whipped cream cheese from there before and loved it. Then I tried this light version of the whipped cream cheese. Eww... gross... This thing was disgusting. It was sour. Like that was the flavor. And it hadn't gone bad. It was brand new, way before expiration. But it was just sour. I couldn't stand it. I threw it away. Epic fail trader joe's, epic fail. I almost had a mind to take it back there and get my money back. I really should have. Perhaps when it comes to cream cheese, I'll just stick to the regular version and not even try to go light.


Monday, April 27, 2009

The Last Drop

After lunch, we went back to the Last Drop and finally found some seats. Of course, by the time we were ready to leave, we found out there's a downstairs that has plenty of room. Oops. This place is a mish mash of stuff... furniture, decor, colors, art, it's all just a random mix of stuff. That's not a bad thing. There was a photo exhibit of some interesting pics... of a guy that had taken pictures of himself doing romantical date type activities with himself. It was quite hilarious, yet slightly disturbing when you first notice them. Some of them are a bit on the explicit side.
I was stuffed from the smoothie and the brunch so I didn't drink anything. But J just got an iced coffee and he enjoyed it very much. He said it was quite coffee-y. Isn't that the point? We both liked this place, but be prepared to not be able to get a seat on a nice day.

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Kanella Brunch

Walking around center city east in blisteringly hot heat, we got hungry. The smoothies were awesome, but we needed more substantive food. After not being able to find a seat at the last drop, we tried to eat at mixto. But they told us there would be a long wait, even though there were several empty tables. This after they apparently eyed us up and down and sneered. Boo on them. So suck it mixto. So we walked a few blocks over to Kanella, which I'd remembered was close by and had been voted best breakfast in the US by Esquire mag.

You know how when you see pictures of greece you see all white buildings with the blue everywhere? That's what Kanella looks like too. You're totally transported, and it definitely has a greek feel. It was surprisingly not packed here, which was a welcome surprise. We didn't have to wait, yay! The servers all have beards... perhaps it's a requirement? There were a bunch of people who had ordered a greek frappe, some type of cold whipped coffee drink. J was saving his caffeine fix for the last drop, so he skipped this. Maybe next time.

There were so many things on the brunch menu that looked amazing. Most of it, we had no idea what it all was. All these words and names were complete mysteries to us, despite J's partially greek heritage. We were both clueless. We watched various dishes coming out and it all looked great and exotic and enticing. One strange thing is that they have english breakfast on the menu. Yes, this greek restaurant has an englisih breakfast! This is a total find. BTW, the brunch menu is fairly new, as it was just added. Before, it was just lunch or dinner menus only, even though breakfast items were on the lunch menu. Now they have a specific brunch menu, which is not yet on their website.
Anyhoo, J went with the cypress breakfast. This was what had been voted the best breakfast. This plate had 2 eggs fried in olive oil, grilled halloumi, grilled lounza, bread, and veggie salad. Before seeing this dish, we had no idea what halloumi or lounza was. So here's the 411. Halloumi is a cypriot cheese, with a consistency similar to mozzarella, made from goat or sheep's milk. It is a hearty and dense cheese. And it is quite delicious. Lounza is sliced smoked fillet of pork, grilled . It's basically like canadian bacon, but thicker, and even better. J felt his eggs were cooked to perfection. And he loved the salad as well. In fact, he agreed with Esquire. It is the best breakfast he's ever had.
I wanted to try everything, but alas, I could only pick one dish. So after wavering, I went with the calimari. Can you see the calamari? They're whole squid, they're just little tiny ones or little baby ones. Like little round white puffballs of squidy godness. They're delicately grilled and whole, so for those of you that are squeamish, you may want to pass on this one. Mmm... chewy and smoky and delicious. This was served with a mixed couscous full of veggies. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from the both of us.

Everyone was super nice here. The owner/chef was out on the floor a bunch of the time (with his piercing blue eyes and all), and let us ask him a bunch of questions about the menu and kept checking in on us. His kids were there too, and so was his wife. The whole place felt very comfortable and warm and family oriented. I love it when the owner's family just kind of hangs out. It's just a nice and happy place. You can't help but enjoy it, it feels like you're hanging out in greece, not that I know what that's really like. Can I just repeat again how nice everyone was and how much we liked the food? We're definitely going to come back here. Dinner is calling us! I really wanted to try dessert too, but my damn belly was too full. I need to start stretching my belly now in preparation for next time.

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Cooling Off With Smoothies

Dear lord it was hot on Sunday. I had no idea it would be so damn hot. When it's that hot out, my body wants cold food. So we walked to pumpkin cafe and grabbed a couple of fruit smoothies. Golly, that hit the spot.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shovelling Food At Banana Leaf

So the mogwai show was at the trocadero. So where does one eat before a show at the troc? Why banana leaf of course, since it's conveniently next door. I would come up with any excuse to eat here though, if I'm going to be honest. It was a busy and hopping saturday night, as usual.
E got the pearl noodles. One of my favorite dishes there. What isn't a favorite dish of mine here?
P got the pad thai. I was puzzled by why there was a heap of separate sprouts on his plate. I hadn't seen this particular plating style before. I don't remember him asking for his sprouts to be separate either. Seems random.
J got the beef chow fun. Looks like a giant portion, but he wolfed this down in seconds flat. He was really freakin hungry though. So maybe he's just a pig.
I got the seafood scramble egg chow fun. I had gotten this once before, but I totally forgot that this is how it shows up, in a shallow pool of eggy gravy. I really like this, it's just very dangerous on this flat plate. You can't move it once it's placed on the table. And you need to stick a tiny bit of hot sauce on it to give it a teensy bit more flavor.

Everything is good here. We had roti canai as well. The food came out quickly, as usual. And they kept filling our water glasses with practically every sip. You do feel a little rushed though. E especially felt this since she was the slowest eater of the bunch. Or maybe she eats normally, and the rest of us just open our mouths and shovel. After they had taken our plates away, and she was still eating, every time she took a bite, someone came over to see if she was done. It was hilarious. They do try to get you in and out of here quickly though, even though there are usually a couple of empty tables. I don't think it's out of rudeness or anything, they're just efficient at getting people in and out. The servers always look to be itching to do something.

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Apamate Brunch

On a glorious saturday morning, we needed some grub. It had already started being warm. O had just gotten home for a break from Iraq. We knew that places like Sabrina's and Morning Glory and Honey's and such would have hours-long waits. So we knew there'd be a place nearby that wouldn't be crowded at all - Cafe Apamate. Boy, were we right. We were the only people there for a bit until 2 more tables showed up.
I love the decor here, especially the brick red painted walls. There were carnations on each table. J and O did not believe they were real, but they were. There was a bit too much a/c action going on there though. They needed to turn it down a notch.
The tostas con pisto. It's a bunch of stewed veggies and a poached egg on top of bread. I had this the last time I was here. This is so damn good. I could eat a giant bowl of these veggies. It's hard to eat though. You can't actually lift it and eat it as an open faced sandwich. It's definitely a fork and knife dish.
O got the de carne hot sandwich. It had sliced rib eye with aoli. It's served on an awesome baguette... crusty, chewy, delicious. You get your choice of fries or salad. Damn, those fries look good.
I got a cold sandwich, the serrano ham and machego cheese. It's also served in the awesome baguette. It's a lot of bread, and not enough ham and cheese, but still delicious. I got salad, and it's a good salad, with strawberries, pine nuts, and a light zesty vinaigrette.

The service is good here, but the food takes hella long to come out. Which is annoying, especially because there's hardly ever any people there. I understand everything is made to order, but for real, it's a long long wait. Which sort of makes me realize why it's so empty here all the time. I can't really say all the time though as I've only been here twice for brunch. For all I know, it may be hopping for dinner. But from my experience, it's always been deserted here, and the food takes way too long to come out. I can see why some people wouldn't want to put up with the wait. It's a shame though, because the food is just so damn good. I just wish it would be prepared a bit faster. Oh, and brunch prices are incredibly affordable.

Oh, and I thought our server looked familiar. Then later on saturday night, I saw him at the mogwai show, standing about 3 feet away. Small world! I must have seen him at some other shows before...

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Repairing The Muscles

The other day, M and I went to gymnastics class. Yes, you heard me right, gymnastics. Adult gymnastics. When's the last time I did gymnastics? Oh, I don't know. But I think Reagan was probably president. Why did I agree to such a preposterous idea? I don't freakin know. Well it turned out alright. Alright in that I did not break anything or cause any permanent damage, but I certainly caused enough temporary damage. My poor poor body is still recovering.

One good thing is that as soon as we got back, E had dinner waiting for us. Whoo hoo! And it was a lovely meal of london broil, potatoes, and a fresh cucumber salad. My body was craving muscle repairing nutrients!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Enjoying Coffee Time

While Sunday was a bit less warm, it was still a lovely day out. After stopping briefly at Cafe L'aube in the morning and enjoying sitting outside, we hit up a few more coffee spots later on that day. First to Bean Exchange Coffeehouse. We drive by here all the time, but have never stopped here. It's a lovely little place. I dig the simple and tasteful decor. If only my own house looked like this. We snagged one of the tables outside and just enjoyed good coffee, the fine weather, and some books.
Then when we got cold, we walked down the street to Chapterhouse. Oh how I love this place, despite it being crowded most of the time. And despite it not being able to have outdoor seating. ~SIGH~

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ciao Bella

Did y'all partake of the good weather on saturday? I did. It was my inaugural grill outing for 2009. After feasting on some tasty grilled chicken and asparagus, we sated some dessert cravings with this Ciao Bella blood orange sorbetto I'd picked up at the whole foods. Mmm... this is so good. Blood orange has a flavor that's hard to describe. So I won't try to. But I like it. J had never heard of a blood orange before, let alone tasted one, or tasted something blood orange flavored. But he liked this as well.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Veggie Hoagie

After a day of visiting a client and then being on call after call after call, I was hankering for a banh mi. And not the regular pork one, but a veggie one. Yes, sometimes, I can go veggie! I'd heard good things of the tofu banh mi at Nhu Y, so I stopped by. I showed up right before they were about to close! I ordered one veggie hoagie.

It's filled with tofu and veggies in a crusty baguette long roll. Although I would have loved more of the pickled daikon and carrots (they're more shredded and a bit mushy and less crunchy than I'd like here), it totally hit the spot. I love me some tofu in all shapes and forms. I know some of you don't care for it, but y'know, I grew up with it so I love it.

I think it's just a husband and wife who own the place. When I was there, the wife made the sandwich. And damn, did she take her good ol time making it. There was no one else there. There were no call-in orders. And she just lolligagged and just went as slow as she possibly could. And while she'd be half-heartedly making my sandwich, she'd be shoving random food bits in her mouth. Not exactly what I wanted to see. But oh well, at least my food tasted good, and it was dirt cheap. Just don't expect fast service!
Nhu Y
802 Christian St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 925-6544

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ekta Takeout

I was hankering for some indian food, it had been such a long time, so I decided to get some take-out. I planned on Minar Palace, but then I started reading some reviews about the newly opened one. They were all pretty bad.  So I nixed that. Instead, I went with Ekta, in Fishtown. I picked mutter paneer and tandoori chicken, along with garlic naan and onion naan. The paneer was amazing. I love this stuff. You know I'm totally a flesh lover, but when it comes to indian food, I've had some great meals going veggie. The sauce on this was amazing, and I love the substantiveness of the cheese. And I love anything with peas. 

The chicken tandoori was mad spicy, like too spicy. And it annoyed us because it had all kinds of bones. Maybe I was spoiled before, but in the past when I'd had chicken tandoori, it had always been nice hunks of boneless chicken breast. Not so here. There were bones everywhere and it was rather difficult to eat. Both the naans were amazing, especially the onion, which I'd never had before. I'll skip the chicken tandoori next time, but I'll definitely be getting more take-out from Ekta!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sharing Chinese

I had had a fun dinner at SangKee Asian Bistro with my mom, her boss and his family, and a distant relative and her daughter. It's one of my favorite places around my neighborhood. It's good food, good ambiance, good service, and good prices. This was the first time where they brought out complimentary pickled radish, carrots, and cucumbers out to the table. I love this kind of stuff. And I had been pretty much starving all day, so I thoroughly enjoyed this.
We ordered a bunch of stuff, including several noodle soups. Seafood noodles and roast pork wonton noodles. I love the noodle soups here. They're tasty, hearty, and cheap.
Some kind of sauteed snow pea leaves and shiitaki mushrooms. The snow pea leaves were great. I had no idea what they were, and wasn't sure if I'd ever knowingly eaten them before, but I'm a big fan now.
Panang seafood fried rice, one of my favorite dishes here. A nice mix of seafood, peas, rice, and such in a curry-ish sauce. What's not to love about this?
Clams in black bean sauce. The sauce on this was incredible, I poured this over rice and just ate that alone. I'm not that crazy about clams, so it was much more about the sauce for me with this dish. Service was good as usual. This is always a solid bet when you're hungry in the main line.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beers At Eulogy

After staying in and making some stir-fry with our german visitors, we decided to go out for some beers. Monk's or Eulogy was on our short list. We drove past Monk's and saw that it was super crowded (even on a Tuesday night), so we headed over to Eulogy instead. There was one table left for us. Score!
The place is owned by Belgians, and there's a number of beers on tap and hundreds of beers in bottles. The menu is large. They have tons of beers from all over the world, but barely any domestics. So don't come here to drink Miller lite.
And like Monk's, the beer ain't cheap. So don't come here if you're looking for dollar beers. Go to McGlinchey's instead. If you want exotic foreign beers, then pick something on the menu, or get recommendations from the servers, and open up your wallet. One of these days, I'm going to have to try their food.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vic Sushi

There was a lot of walking around town done on Monday. I walked to a client visit in the afternoon (my poor feet in actual business lady type shoes!) and then with some german friends visiting, we walked them around the city for a bit to show them some sights. Oye! Then we walked some more, decided that we wanted sushi, and then basically walked right back to where we had dropped off our visitors. So anyhoo, we finally made a big circle and made our way to Vic Sushi. This is where we had tried to eat before on a Sunday and it was closed. Well it was open on Monday! Wahoo!
The place is pretty much a pick-up place. There are... maybe 10 seats around the bar. And the place is just the sushi bar. That's it. The menu is simple - sushi. We both got pretty much what I assume is the most popular order - their 3 roll special. I got a spicy tuna, alaska, and futomaki. J got spicy salmon, spicy tuna, and seaweed salad. We both got miso soup. The soup was lovely and light, not a particularly strong miso flavored soup at all. But I liked it just fine. The sushi was great. It came out surprisingly fast and it was all tasty and fresh. I think the fun of eating here is watching them make the sushi. The feverish pace is astounding. And they do brisk business, even on a monday night. I have to point out that the avocados were some of the most delicious and ripest I've had in awhile. I need to get in touch with their distributor!

There's no real service here. There are two ladies that bring out the non-sushi related stuff (cups, utencils, soups) but you're pretty much served by the sushi chefs. Again, it's mostly take-out so as far as dining in, it's very laid-back and casual.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Mie N Yu

Another day, another neighborhood. So on sunday, we went to georgetown. I've been in DC a few times, but never to georgetown. There's a main strip there, full of shops and restaurants, so we roamed around a bit and then finally stopped for brunch at Mie N Yu, a place that dubs itself as a place of "Silk Road Celebration”. Which means they combine american cuisine with flavors from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. So it's all kinds of fusion basically.
The decor is also a hodge podge, but cool. They have tons of indian / hindu type art and religious figures.
Also middle eastern type decor as well, lots of curtains and drapes and rich jewel colors. The place is very moody and romantic. There's a variety of seating options including booths, big tables with cushions, a nook up the stairs, etc.
The menu is a hodge podge as well. To me, it was heavy on the indian and thai side. Or may be that's just becauase it was a lunch menu. Not sure. But we were both starving so we got a couple of lassis, hoping they would come out super fast. They did not. But once they did, they were amazing. The pomegranate lassi was so freakin good. And so was the mango lassi. I've had mango lassi tons of times, but this was the first one where mint was mixed in with it. Normally, I do not like mint in my food. But for whatever reason, it totally worked in this one. These lassis were dreamy. I wish I had another one right now.
J got the banana walnut pancakes. These were huge, and full of big hunks of banana and walnuts. Absolutely great. And you even got some potatoes and a little fruit skewer. And it was pretty cheap. Seriously. We were expecting DC prices and DC portions, but it was tons of food for a really good price. I'm talking less than $10.
For me, I stayed away from traditional brunch fare and went with their steak & egg fried rice. This was a giant heaping of fried rice, which had beef and egg in it, along with some thai basil. And then there was an additional helping of steak. The menu said there was bean sprouts in it, but it did not have it. And I love me some bean sprouts. But that's ok, because this thing was beyond tasty. We both loved it.

Service was ok. There only seemed to be one waiter, and he was very harried, so it was hard to get his attention. While tons of other runners brought the food out, it was only delivered by the waiter, so he ended up being a huge bottleneck. Also, your food does not come out quickly, so don't be in a hurry. But it was worth the wait. So just take in the ambiance while you wait, because you'll eventually get some great food.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Home Cookin at The Diner

So when we got hungry enough for a proper meal, we walked up and down the main strip some more, looking for just the right place. And where did we end up? The Diner, which is a sister restaurant to Tryst and practically next door. So basically, we just took a nice long pre-dinner walk. The Diner is just as it sounds, a diner. They're open 24-hours and serve standard diner fare. There's disco balls though and a kick-ass soundtrack.
We both went with old school homey dishes. J got meatloaf. This was good meatloaf. There was a spice in there I could not identify, but it made it even better.
I got the turkey platter. This was just what I needed. My stomach had been upset so I wanted something fairly tame. So turkey and mashed potatoes was just what I needed. They grilled the turkey a little bit, and that made it taste even better. It didn't come with enough gravy for my liking, and we had a slight water spill which took even more of the gravy away, but that was ok. It was still great. The turkey was served on top of 4 pieces of bread. And it wasn't just crap plain white bread either (even though I love plain white bread) it was really lovely and dense sourdough bread.

Service was fine. Our waiter looked just like the dude from Office Space who ends up in the full body cast and makes the jump to conclusions mat. But bigger. It was uncanny. Unlike most diners, this place serves booze! So you can get your drink on with your meatloaf.

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Hangin at Tryst

After festing it, we headed over to the Adams Morgan neighborhood. There's a main drag with a bazillion restaurants. Like seriously, it seemed way too many. After walking around awhile and exploring, we luckily ended up at Tryst. This place is a bar / lounge / coffee shop / cafe. You can drink, get coffee, eat, hang out, surf the net. I totally loved the concept.
By the time we got to Adams Morgan, I wasn't feeling too hot, so I didn't drink. I just lounged. They have tons of tables, chairs, and a mish mash of couches. Their menu looked really good as well. I wish we could have eaten. There was a nacho dish that we were both very interested in.
J did have a couple of beers though. A bit on the expensive side, but I think it's pretty normal for DC. Service was good, our waitress was super nice and accommodating. The crowd here is nice and varied. If I lived in DC, I'd definitely frequent this joint!

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Sakura Festival

Whose bright idea was it to go to DC during the cherry blossom festival? It seems preposterous that anyone would think up such an idea. It was madness, I tell you, madness! The traffic! The billions of camera-toting tourists! The lines to even get onto the escalators to take you down to the metro station! All to see some trees that we could have actually seen at home. But really, despite the maddening crowds, it was fun to play tourist for a weekend. And the cherry blossoms themselves, in addition to being very pretty, have a pretty interesting historical and cultural significance. It's all about the ephemera people. And that's something we all need to be aware of.

There was a japanese street festival going on saturday. And by street festival they mean rows of outdoor booths you could not get to. I would have liked to have checked out the wares, but simply could not shove my way anywhere near them. Once the street fest was nearly over, it was a bit more accessible, so we grabbed some greasy street fest food.
Meat on a stick and greasy ass noodles. For when you're hungry and have been walking around all day, it totally hits the spot. The chicken could have had more flavor (I saw them slathering on some teriyaki type liquid on em but I couldn't really taste any of that), but it was still good, even if simple. The noodles were good too, super greasy, just enough flavor. I love me some street food!

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TJ's - Soup!

My new love, and you know I love me some soup, is this creamy corn and roasted pepper soup from trader joe's. It's made with poblano peppers, that's why it's this putrid color. I know it's not at all appetizing looking, but it tastes freakin amazing. Sweet corn with the slight spice of poblano peppers, and it's incredibly thick and rich. It does have tons of sodium though, but they do have a low sodium version, so I'm going to be kinder to my body and pick up the low sodium kind next time.