I recently went to Dino with a group of TWELVE. After seeing the information on the web site about the various minimums imposed for private parties (requires a non-OpenTable dealing for parties of 11+), I thought--you know? Dino is a good, reasonable place. I'm going to get in touch and see if that minimum ($700 I think) reaaaally applies (maybe they are just kidding?). Dean Gold got back to me super quickly and said I should give him a call--we could order off the menu with no minimum at a semi-open kitchen table so long as we (with a 6pm reservation) are out by 8ish for the next group coming in. Subject to a cancellation fee, but we're planning on showing up in full family force.

Not everybody loved Dino. The naysayers said that the pasta dishes were too rich and heavy, and I think the menu was intimidating to some because it's not the standard Italian joint they are used to. Some of us were getting ready for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, so--carbs, right? I forgot that L would likely want to avoid something too heavy and cheesy, so she decided to forgo the pasta for the rotisserie half chicken. She said it was kind of bland--I didn't taste it myself.

Maybe I'm just easy to please (feel free to invite me over to try your cooking--it's a confidence booster). I LOVED my risotto primavera with morels and ramps (onion/leek-like vegetable), and swooned over Mom's lasagna. Father and son got the Tuscan bread soup, and when I asked them what had been in their now-empty bowls, they said "really good soup." The teenager got "fish" that was "good." When I asked her what made it good ("The sauce?" I prompted. "Sides?") she said "it just was." J liked his halibut with baby bok choy, and the roasted red pepper sauce on the plate (which was orange!) was delish.

A said the golden tilefish was "small but good."

In a large group it seems like most people don't love their food, and it's not because the food isn't great, or even good. It's because it's hard to please 12 people, aged 14-82. And everyone is somewhat stressed from traveling, worrying about everyone else (is there anything for Grandma to eat? What time is it? When do we have to be at the next place?), and it's not the leisurely, wine-laden situation that J and I had at our first visit to Dino last year.

3435 Connecticut Ave NW
Metro: Red Line to Cleveland Park
Rasika on Urbanspoon



V asked me why I don't have any followers. I told him that I have three, but I thought adding the gadget was sort of weird because I only have three "followers," but I definitely have more readers. At least 4 or 5.

Apparently he thinks the gadget is useful. Here it is. On the left. Follow if you'd like. You're all leaders in my book!


Lost Dog Cafe

Dear Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar:

You are the sweetest, most lovely beer I've met in a while. I missed you during Passover!!!!



The world has many beers. Just look at the Brickskeller Beer List! And while I don't have some organized system where I try them all one-by-one, I try to vary what I order. So what I'm saying is, RHBN is my flavor of the month (or three).

Oh right! Lost Dog Cafe. This hoppin' neighborhood joint is full of pizza, beer, and 20-somethings. We didn't get carded, but a pair of girls next to us did--maybe they thought an underage couple wouldn't have the chutzpah to sit at the bar and order beer? Don't look for a beer list--just take a look at the shelves behind the wall, and choose quickly (because if you keep scanning and looking and reading, your eyes will get very tired).

J had Yogi the Lab's Pie without the red onions (so just barbecue chicken, green onions, and mozzarella) and it was tasty. I like their BBQ sauce, which is featured on many of the sandwiches available.

I had the Burro on K's recommendation. She loves it, but it wasn't for me. It was essentially (and tasted like) an okay-ish version of TJ's 5-layer dip (with beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole) and shredded lettuce on a flatbread. It didn't seem like dinner. I know now I would have been better off with something hot and cheesy, but I was in a weird mood that night. Any night where I can pass up a hot pizza with basil on it is definitely a weird night. Next time I want the Pedigree Pie, with garlic butter, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, spinach, parmesan, fontina, mozzarella cheese, and basil. YUMMMMM.

The Burro

Yogi the Lab Pie

Lost Dog Cafe

5876 N. Washington Blvd
Arlington, VA
Metro: More of a driving place, but not super far from East Falls Church Metro on the Orange Line
Lost Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon


Restaurant 3 Happy Hour

The following positive and constructive comments sum up our recent happy hour at Restaurant 3:

"This beer is really good!"
(ladies, remind me what kind of beer again?)

"Good, but a little too greasy."

"When I asked for a veggie in place of fries, I didn't think they'd be swimming in butter."

"I'm going to put balsamic on ALL my pizza from now on!"

"Too much roll, not enough lobster."

Full disclosure: Monday HH at R3 is HALF-PRICE "bar bites," which means that the most expensive item above (the Lobster Roll) only cost $7.50. So things that are "yummy" and "tasty" must be qualified as "half-price tasty." For example, I had the pulled duck sandwich, and it was really good. I'd definitely have it again for $5.50, but would I have it for $11? I'm not sure. I asked for a fry replacement and was offered asparagus--it would have been awesome if the 'gus wasn't chillaxing in a jacuzzi of Paula Deen's favorite ingredient (that's butter, friends. Watch some Food Network). It wasn't crowded at all (maybe because Monday isn't the hottest HH day and spots like Whitlow's and Lib Tav seem to monopolize the after-work scene), and the bartender was super nice. They were out of the risotto tater tots, even though we were there before 5:30pm (and HH begins at 5pm). Maybe they ran out over lunch?

I'll go back to R3 for HH with any of you on a Monday; I want to try those risotto tater tots and their burger. It's a great deal for some interesting and tasty food with a very low cost. Way better than my first experience, when the service sucked, the meat was undercooked, the food wasn't even very good, and it was way too expensive for all of its flaws. And $5 glasses of wine? I. Am. In.

Restaurant 3
2950 Clarendon Boulevard
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon
Restaurant 3 on Urbanspoon


Postcard: Inkpad eats NYC!

Just want to give you all a link to Inkpadchocolate's recent very sweet trip to New York City. She had some very able hosts/guides, but I did indeed send her this article from the Post (yummmmmy, a 7-stop eating tour of NYC) and last year's blog post. I'm happy to see she took at least one of my suggestions.

Beware: her blog will make you crave treats you didn't know existed.


Listening Time: Second Edition

Remember the first one? No? Click here. It turns out that I have another hobby (those who know me aren't surprised right now). I eat, drink, learn, work, run, and maybe above all of those things, I listen to podcasts. Many podcasts. Tons of podcasts. Seriously.

So food stuff comes up. If you love Food Network and Paula Deen, then I suggest this (past) weekend's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me (the NPR news quiz) with the Queen of Deep-Fried Butter Balls herself, Ms. Paula Deen. Her laughter is infectious.


PSA: Free Cone Day

It's that time again...time for Free Cone Day at most Ben & Jerry's! Search HERE for your local scoop shop. TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2009! So today (Tuesday), or tomorrow, if you're reading this late on Monday. Which means you aren't watching 24, like some people.

Last year I crankily linked you to nutrition facts. Whatevs, it's free cone day. It's a small scoop anyway.

Last warning: Lines get long on FCD. Be patient!

*I in no way specifically promote Ben & Jerry's as the official ice cream of my blog, but when something is free, I usually eat it. It's not a very discriminating policy. If you were giving away ice cream, I'd probably publicize your event, too.

2 Amys

The end of Passover was blissful. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about eating the bread of affliction and thanking everybody who could have possibly been involved in getting my ancestors out of slavery in Egypt, but matzah leaves much to be desired.

So for the second year in a row, we noted (not celebrated) the holiday's end by eating at 2 Amys. Check out my last post to read a more colorful description of 2 Amys background (certified by a Neopolitan pizza association, the definition of ripieno, etc).

We had BEER. I had Bells Kalamazoo Stout (I liked it a lot, but I wanted it to be a little colder...if possible), and J had the Hitachino Nest White Ale--I love the cutie patootie owl on the bottle, and it was DELICIOUS. Sort of sweet, but not in a gross way. A really refreshing Belgian-style wheat beer. But $9. YIKES.

We ate the exact same thing (as last year, not each other). Abruzzese pizza for J. Ripieno Basilico for me. J's pizza was (again) delicious, but he was definitely eying my ripieno when the ricotta started oozing out of the delicious crust. In fact, he took that opportunity to scoop some cheese up for himself. Thanks a lot!

J's pizza

My stuffed pizza

For appetizer, we shared bruschetta with tomato fondutto--delicious grilled bread (bread!!! REAL BREAD!!!) with olive oil, garlic, then topped with delish tomato excitement. If you get the regular bruschetta, that refers only to the grilled bread rubbed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

It was so good that when our neighbors on the right were peeking over, I assured them that it was amazing and that they had to get it. They didn't. Fine!

We remembered this time that their homemade ice cream is divine, so we ordered both the strawberry w/chocolate chips ice cream AND the apple spice cake (which came with...drumroll...a side of vanilla). J unsurprisingly went nuts over the apple cake, and unfortunately I think strawberry w/chocolate chips is now my favorite-but-impossible-to-find flavor. So fun.

2 Amys
3715 Macomb Street NW
Metro: A hike from the Red Line to Cleveland Park, or drive.
2 Amys on Urbanspoon


Farrah Olivia to close, but...

...apparently chef has plans to reopen in DC in the next 9-12 months.

Thanks to the Twitter alert from Metrocurean.

J thinks the new Crystal City lounge/bar/restaurant mentioned in the article above might be the old Bebo spot. We won't miss Bebo. Oh no, we won't.


First "Real" Seder

I say real because when I "hosted" two years ago, my mom brought most of the food already-made. We had a lovely, beautiful, delicious, enlightening seder.

(And to catch you up if you are lost: It's currently Passover, an 8-day holiday where Jews remember being led out of slavery in Egypt by Moses by taking part in two seder nights and foregoing leavened items for the whole holiday. I don't miss the bread much, but I am already dreaming about the beer I'll have when the holiday is over later this week.)

Menu [with links to recipes where available]:

Both Sephardic (dates/figs/honey/apples) and Ashkenazi charoset
Matzah ball soup (Dad made unbelievable soup, and J made the fluffy matzah balls)
Brisket (that thing cooked for 5 hours)
Tzimmes soufflee
Farfel raisin cookies (Splenda and regular sugar)
Apple cake
Mandelbreit (Splenda w/dark chocolate chips and regular sugar)
Macaroons (original and chocolate chip)
Fruit and chocolate tarte
Pistachio cookies
Raspberries and strawberries

The Brisket (and tzimmes soufflee). With a Capital B.

Apple cake, pistachio cookies, store-bought chocolate covered macaroons and matzah

J's macaroons. Delightful!

My frog. He's a "plague" and he's chilling on my wine glass.


Passover Recipe

Passover doesn't involve totally different eating than the rest of the year for us. Broiled fish, big salads, and grilled chicken are safe for consumption--just pass on the croutons. I still like making certain Passover-only items, like matzah lasagna.

For this post, "Recipe" seems like a disingenuous tag. More like, "vague instructions for something that's really easy anyway." ***Keep in mind that this recipe is not okay if you are careful about gebrokts, "wetted matzah." If you are all about matzah balls on Passover, then this is for you!

Without further delay, MATZAH LASAGNA A LA IEATDC:

In a mixing bowl, mix one 16 oz (1 lb) container of non-fat cottage cheese with one egg and as much cooked spinach as you want. Add some garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano.

Take a baking pan (I used a 13 x 9ish Pyrex) and put a little tomato sauce on the bottom. Take matzah and dab a little water on it to soften it slightly (I literally hold the piece of matzah with my left hand, turn on the sink with my right, put my right hand under the running water, and then run my fingers over the matzah). Put the wetted matzah across the baking pan, breaking it to fit if necessary. Now spread some of the cottage cheese/spinach mixture on top of the first layer of matzah (an inch or so). I repeated this once (another matzah layer, another cheese/spinach layer, another matzah layer) and finished off with some tomato sauce and low-fat shredded mozarella on top.

I baked this puppy at 350 until it got good and melty. This recipe is very open to additions and variations--some people like sauce between every layer, some like zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and who knows what else. Do what you please! It's easy, fast, yummy, and stays nicely in the fridge for lunch leftovers.


Postcard from Frankfurt

Oh, the travels.

People call Frankfurt a lot of things. The Pittsburgh of Europe. Mainhattan. Bankfurt. When we tell people we were in Frankfurt they usually say something like this: "Oh, I've been to that airport. I hate that airport."

We didn't get too far from the headquarters of our event, but we did make some good food choices.

First was Joe Pena's, a Mexican joint that seemed grossly out of place. We got the typical fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, etc. Although everything was pretty good, it was pretty awkward to be eating mediocre Mexican food in Europe.

Then we found Restaurant Avocado, a French restaurant with friendly service and sauces to die for. I had quail in a port wine sauce with fried quail eggs. Quail two ways, if you will. The sauce was unbelievable. B loved her salmon with olive gnocchi (it was green, but didn't taste too olive-y), and D and L both enjoyed the sole. We had a generous (but not tasty) amouse bouche of goose liver pate (not my style), and a little plate of truffles to close our meal. The friendly server ensured that our pescatarian's freebies were appropriate, and that D's dishes were "kleinasalt" or low-sodium.

We had an awkward 4pm lunch at Waxy's Irish Pub down in the heart of town. I had a burger and B had fish and chips, and we were happy Americans with giant plates of food. Oh, that is, we were happy until some crazy British guy started telling us that our President didn't know how many states were in the Union and that he "wasn't smart." YOU WANT TO MESS WITH BARACK OBAMA, SIR?! THEN YOU ARE MESSING WITH US! Also, we were just eating lunch, guy. Seriously, back off.

There were takeout windows with sausages, but with a vegetarian and constant rain, we were hesitant on several levels. We did do our due diligence (required in almost any European country) by stopping at many random bakery-type establishments for croissants, pretzels, and danishes.

People less sleepy and more willing than us to be groped hung out at Sansibar each night, a bar/club/lounge in the Japan Tower. We wished them well before heading home exhausted--via cab--in the rain.

Buy some chocolates at Ellie's and buy/eat many Goldbären (it turns out Germany is the land of gummy bears).

General observation: Sparkling water doesn't really quench thirst, bottled water is expensive, and nobody seems to drink much (nonalcoholic-wise) abroad. We're all about our 8-10 glasses over here, but I saw many people with plates of pretty salty food with NO beverage. Aren't ya'll thirsty???

If you go to Frankfurt, find more interesting places than I did, and may you have better weather!


The Cupcake Situation

Update: I've been advised about an ENTIRE BLOG devoted to DC area cupcakeries. It's here: http://delleicious.blogspot.com/

Back to your normally scheduled programming:
It's my understanding that the Cupcake Situation (as I call it) is a trend, like sushi on every block, Frappuccinos, burgers, and tangy yogurt. And while I like fattening coffee-blended drinks and frozen topping-heavy items as much as the next girl, I do not want the cupcake trend to end. Ever.

Georgetown Cupcake
1209 Potomac St NW

[*Update, 1 year later.  I am in love with GC. I love how the cakes, while tiny, are the perfect balance of moist, buttery cake and frosting.  I love how every day there are 100 free cupcakes at each location, announced via Twitter.  I love how no flavor has disappointed me, at least not yet.]

Uh oh. I haven't been. And isn't this the original? Not that it was the first place to sell cupcakes in DC, but it symbolizes the beginning of the DC strain of cupcakemania. I think that's why I haven't been. There's always a line. I'm not so into lines. I do notice from the web site (if it's truthful) that GC seems to have the most interesting looking cupcakes; other shops are pretty standard cake + frosting/icing, not so much with the various sprinklings/flowers on top. What do you think about GC?

I do have some info--the extremely talented bakestress over at Inkpad Chocolate likes GC so much that she recreated their signature dish, as seen on Martha Stewart.

Baked & Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW

Baked & Wired is a cozy little establishment. You can get coffee and a wrap from its adjoining little non-cupcake area, and take a seat at one of the few tables hanging around the back. The cake part of the cupcake is LARGE, perhaps the largest of the choices we discuss today. Many cupcakes are tiny little cakes that are stacked with an equally-sized helping of icing. B&W has a more manageable ratio, and I'm happy about the size of the cupcake considering the $3-4 all these (GC, B&W, HC, RV) will set you back. I really like B&W, but it's somewhat inconsistent. Some flavors are really good, like the pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, and others are eh. And the cake differs a lot based on the flavor--not necessarily that one is GREAT and one is BAD, but one will be soft, fluffy and buttery, and the next more dense. If you are a strictly dense-cake person, I can't accurately recommend B&W for you because the consistency of the cake varies greatly by flavor (although if I remember correctly, coconut had dense cake). But I'm generally a fan.

Red Velvet Cupcakery*
675 E St NW

"When I walk around with a cupcake I feel the opposite of important."

"This cupcake tastes like my childhood."

E was obviously a huge fan of the red velvet (Southern Belle) cupcake she got from Red Velvet (those quotes are from her). My cupcake (on the right) was a crazy chocolate chocolate chocolate situation, with a little gold leaf on top. The "icing" was more thick and fudge-y than icing-like, which was AMAZING.

RVC wins most convenient not only for its downtown location (anything near Metro Center and Gallery Place is a stone's throw from the city's best restaurants), but for best hours. 11am to 11pm every day. Elsewhere, there maybe be one or two nights a week open until 9 but generally they close at 6 or 7. Bummaroo, but not for RVC!!!

RVC doesn't put up a front with you--they know my deal. They take one look at me and say, "would you like that on a napkin?" YOU BET I WOULD! I DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' BOX! This cupcake won't last 5 minutes. K thx bye.

Also, RVC is related to Tangysweet, so if one cupcake just won't do it for you or your party, head next door for some yogurt. I like to top mine with honey, nuts, and cereal.

*It's not your imagination. Both the RVC and Tangysweet web sites take a while to load, and at first it seems like the link is broken.

Hello Cupcake

1351 Connecticut Ave NW

HC is pretty good. I've liked all the cupcakes I've tried, as have my companions, but the lack of choices is discouraging. I gather the flavors change every day. I really loved a peanut butter/chocolate cupcake I had there--it was topped with a Hershey kiss! Yum! Also, the cakes are a touch tiny for my liking. Itty bitty.


My friend made these happy chocolate and vanilla with vanilla frosting and red sparkles cupcakes for a party recently, and they were delightful. Thanks, C!

What's your favorite cupcake place around here? Please leave your comments and be as detailed as possible (place AND flavor!!!). Thank you!


Murky to Close and Move--New Clarendon Coffee on the Way!

Update: New coffee shop will be Bayou Bakery.

You know I wasn't the biggest fan anyway. But Murky Coffee is moving to DC under a new name, and the folks at Liberty Tavern are going to renovate the old space (which is apparently not ADA accessible because of the upstairs, hence the closed upstairs space...) and keep it as a coffee shop. I doubt it will be open in time for my last set of finals, but no matter what, I look forward to the new addition to the neighborhood (so long as it doesn't AT ALL resemble Murky even a TINY bit, besides the whole selling-coffee thing).

You aren't reading the article wrong. Murky requests our sensitivity to Murky people's feelings during the transition. Was anyone going to go in there and say BOO YAH! I GONNA ICE MY ESPRESSO ALL OVER THIS SPACE! (I guess somebody might do that. Tsk. Let's all be nice. That incident was so last summer.)

New Coffee Place
Coming soon to 3211 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon

NEWS! Ray's Hell-Burger--Still Delicious, New Side Dish Added


I have no idea when the new side dish appeared. Anyone? Comments? (I don't know because I'm not allowed to have Ray's more than once every three or so weeks...let's be honest, no one should. It's a huge amount of red meat for one person. You need to space that stuff out, ya'll. I care about each and every one of you, and I want you to live for a very, very, very long time.)

We both got blackened burgers cooked "recommended." J got Vermont white cheddar, grilled peppers, and heck sauce. I got grilled onions and dill pickle chips. We noticed the blackened was kicked up a notch--previously it was difficult to distinguish between grilled and blackened, but tonight we felt the heat! And we liked it! On the side were cheese tater puffs, these little buttery balls of pretty-good-ness (they were good, but not AMAZING--definitely more interesting than French fries, though). When did these little guys appear? Last time we checked the options were potato salad, mac & cheese, and coleslaw. Wow, I didn't realize coleslaw was one word.

The Boylan's Diet Root Beer tasted flat, but the Cheerwine I had next made me forget about all that sadness.

And yeah, that's my hand in the picture. There was another picture that DIDN'T have half of my blurry hand in it, but I want you to really get a sense of how hungry I was, and how I didn't want to wait for a picture to be taken before tasting one of the fluffy puffy thingies. And not bad for a camera-phone picture, right?!

*I <3 you vegetarians, but there's nothing for you here. No veggie burgers, no fish sandwiches, no fake meat, no Portobello mushroom situation...

Ray's Hell-Burger
1725 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA
Metro: Orange Line to Court House, or an uphill walk from Rosslyn on Orange or Blue
Ray's Hell-Burger on Urbanspoon