Fojol Bros. of Merlindia - Insights from Guest Blogger LB!

[Note: I know, more food from trucks?  Even though I don't work downtown, I don't want to keep you all from being informed about your options on wheels here in the District.  Below, the fabulous and generous LB guest blogged her recent food truck experience. Thanks, LB!!!! And thanks to Fojol Bros. Twitter Page for the picture.]

If you're anything like me, then deciding what to eat for lunch is the most difficult decision of your day.  No later than 12:01 p.m., M-F, the emails start filling up your Outlook inbox, asking about your lunch thoughts, or, if the time is getting late, offering up a hunger-themed haiku (or does that just happen at my office?).

Then the negotiations commence: "Not again--we just ate there last week!"; "The weather isn't cold enough yet for soup"; "I am so sick of sandwiches." ; "That place is too far to walk in this rain." "I am not paying 9 dollars for another crappy salad!"

Today's decision was made remarkably easy by the arrival of the Fojol Bros. of Merlindia, a self-described "Traveling Culinary Carnival."  That description is fairly accurate, if your impression of a carnival involves being served curry from costumed, mustached men in a food truck while your body involuntarily moves to the catchy music blaring from the speakers.

They have three size options: a "dingo" (one pick--$2), a "meal" (two picks--$6) or a "feast" (three picks--$9).  You make your picks from a rotating selection of offerings, and each includes basmati rice.  Today's meat options were curry chicken and chicken masala, and the vegetarian options were lentils and chickpeas.  I opted for an all-veggie meal of lentils and chickpeas, and one of the Fojol brothers said my mother would be proud.  

I'm no expert on Indian food, but I did spend three months in London, which makes me sufficiently credentialed.  The chickpeas were my favorite--great texture and flavor.  The lentils were a little mushy, but once I mixed them into the rice, I didn't notice the mushiness anymore.  However, I do like my Indian food spicy, and this meal was on the mild side--it could have used more heat. I also missed naan, but I guess that's too hard to prepare from a truck. Overall, though, it was a solid meal--one option I'll definitely suggest again, when next Tuesday's lunch negotiations begin.

Fojol Bros.
Location: changes daily


Man v. Food

I got an email from a PR person asking me to tell all 14 of my readers about this Wednesday's Man v. Food episode in Washington, where crazypants Adam will try to eat way too much way too fast (Travel Channel, 10pm).

But that just REMINDED me that I wanted to tell you (yes you!) that in December Man v. Food will be going where Guy Fieri has never been (much to my dismay), but where every good, scarlet-blooded American has felt outrageously full at 3am.

Obviously I'm talking about the Grease Trucks at Rutgers University. We all have our Trucks stories, a few summarized below.

1. Overnighting a Truck sandwich to a friend/boyfriend for birthday/just to say hi
2. Wee hours post-party sandwich
3. The time you thought you wanted a second sandwich
4. Post-rehearsal dinner snack with out-of-town guests
5. Pre-8:10 class on Voorhees Mall breakfast of egg & cheese on a bagel and a $1 (delicious) hot chocolate.

Do you have a good Trucks story? Leave it in the comments.

Confused? Click the links, read up. Basically, at the Trucks you can get a sandwich with your sides on it. So you're not sure if you want mozzarella sticks, fries, or chicken fingers. Why not put them all on a bun? No really, why not? There's no good reason why not. As they say in the parking lot where the trucks permanently reside: Just do it.

Other facts:

-That sandwich I mentioned is the Fat Darrell, and it was voted Best Sandwich by Maxim magazine. Wonder if the Travel Channel is gonna tell you THAT! 

-You can read about them on "This Is Why You're Fat."

- Vegetarians are welcome (a falafel sandwich is available). 

- I know Barry of the Fat Barry.

- This one time, there was drama.

Grease Trucks
Parking lot across from Voorhees Mall, corner of Hamilton & College Ave
New Brunswick, NJ

Image is probably the copyrighted R of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


Dining Guide - My thoughts

Here you can find Tom Sietsema's 10th Dining Guide, for 2009.

My quick thoughts (because you care, really):

- Poste. Love it.
- Corduroy. Obvi.
- Rasika
- 2 Amys
- I've never been to Volt, but I <3<3<3 Bryan Voltaggio on Top Chef. And that's enough for me!

- I don't love Jaleo. Maybe I've picked the wrong dishes, maybe it's inconsistent, or maybe it's just not the kind of food I like (I doubt the last one because I love love love most kinds of food).
- Eventide. Yep, I just can't really agree with you there, Mr. S.
- The service at Zaytinya can be spotty, and S confirmed that I'm not crazy when I say that sometimes dishes are CRAZY salty! And other times they aren't (I've made 7+ trips). So it's been weird, I actually stopped recommending it to people. But maybe I'd still rec for brunch, when it's quiet. It used to be one of my favorites, but it's turned love/hate. Not sure if Mike I. has anything to do with it sort of subconsciously.

A few amazing restaurants that would be on MY dining guide list but aren't on Tom's: Vermilion, Brasserie Beck.

And if Inn at Little Washington gets on, where is Town House in Chilhowie? Not worth it? Too far? How far is too far? Ethical questions, people. We're going to Town House next week, and I can't WAIT to tell you what we think about it!

(on the sooner side)
The Inn, Komi, Minibar, and Present. Prob Present is the one we'll go to soon--we drove by it the other day and did a forehead smack, "Ohh that's where it is!"


Stribling Farm & Chateau O'Brien Winery

When we went to Stribling Orchard for some last-minute apple picking, we had NO IDEA that Travel + Leisure had rated it one of America's Best Apple Picking Farms! Wowzers. Talk about impressive.

This place is great for kids and adults alike--and it doesn't hurt if the weather happens to be a perfect 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky. Just about an hour from the stressful, hustle-bustle city life is a place where your biggest problem is picking more apples than you can comfortably carry. Thirty acres of apples to roam around, marked by a color-coding system so you know what's in season and what's for baking v. eating.

Other things: Bring a picnic! And if you arrive in the early afternoon, please get in line for a pie BEFORE you pick--we waited more than a half hour on line in the store (which had treats like jams, preserves, honeys, bbq sauce (!!) not to mention the pies, breads, and turnovers) only to watch the last pie get sold. One mom pre-paid for 2 pies, and she was prepared to make her family wait 45 minutes until they were cooked and cooled. I KNOW that earlier the line wasn't nearly as long and they were not out of pies.

The only baked item left when we got to the front was this apple raisin bread. Darn.

I'm kidding about the darn, of course. This "bread" was like an enormous fluffy pastry. If you squeeze the loaf, it squished for you, then slowly rose back up. It was filled with fresh apples--not apple "flavor."

And did I mention they let you use adult tools?!

Stribling Orchard
Markham, VA
Getting there: You take 66, and then just hop off. Directions on the web site.

NEXT! Just like our previous U-Pick experience (Bluemont Vineyard after strawberry-picking at Great Country Farms ), tired out from our farmwork, we headed to the closest vineyard. About 2, maybe 3 minutes away is Chateau O'Brien.

The tasting room was CRAZY--there are two, one for the regular $5 tasting, and one for the $10 cellar tasting. We had enough standing around after the major line for our apple bread, and we were in need of a snack. A crusty baguette and cheese plate later, with a glass of apple wine (the owner said it's too sweet for him--on this beautiful day, especially after picking, I thought it was just right) and a glass of the Northpoint Red, and we were set up juuuust fine on the amazing patio.

What views! Also, we usually only go to wineries in the summer--an exception for the mulled wine at Swedenburg. So this is one of the few times we've really seen the grapes hanging on the vines.

They are pretty into Tannat--I'd like to try it on my next visit. Is it the grape that will make Virginia wines great, as the CO proprietors claim? Maybe. But it's not native, like Norton.

The inside space at Chateau O'Brien is also really nice--a lot of places in the NoVa wine trail are all about their outdoor space, with plenty of room for picnicking, etc, but very little indoor seating. Understandable, because mostly people come for a tasting. But I can see curling up in the coziness of Chateau O'Brien on a winter weekend afternoon, sipping a deep red wine in a big comfy sweater. Almost makes me look forward to winter...almost.

Chateau O'Brien

Markham, VA
Getting there: We just followed the signs after the exit for Markham.


Eamonn's Dublin Chipper

"Thanks Be To Cod." That's the saying over at Eamonn's Dublin Chipper, one of way too many delicious places to eat in Old Town, Alexandria. We love Vermilion, Farrah Olivia (tear), The Majestic (same owners!), enjoyed 100 King, and let's not even talk about the shopping. OH the shopping.

ANYWAY! Eamonn's. The menu is small, the tables are few, and the food is fried. But don't let that scare you. There's nothing heavy about this fried food--although I can't speak to the desserts (fried Snickers or Milky Way, anyone?). You've got some protein options, including "Batter Sausage," which I'm guessing is...battered and fried, like everything else, but you've got to be CRAZY not to get good old fish and chips. I read all the Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Chowhound stuff about Eamonn's and decided we should get "small" cods--apparently the portions are unreliable, and often a small is the same as a large, but for $3 less. Also, with fries, I was sure there was no way we'd leave hungry.

The fish was super hot, super fresh--a crispy crunch on the outside, but flaky yet still moist white flesh within. And the fries were to die for. I mean chips! Keep in mind that this is a messy adventure. You won't get a plate, just your food in a paper bag, Dublin style (I guess?).  But we did get handwipes, which I totally kept in my purse in case of a future sinkless emergency.  Seating is limited, and the "outdoor" space isn't charming at all.  And FYI, the "smalls" were more than enough for both of us.  

To summarize: We had a great time here. We weren't expecting a sit-down fancy place, and so we enjoyed the yumtastic food that came to us with matching smiles. Would it be great to have plates, a long beer list, funky outdoor seating, and an amiable waitstaff (as opposed to the one dude who was perfectly friendly, but seemed more like he belonged at Urban Outfitters or something)? Sure it would! But we can do without. We'll definitely go back to Eamonn's the next time we're craving cod and chips.

Eamonn's Dublin Chipper
728 King Street
Metro: Blue and Yellow Lines to King Street

Eamonn's on Urbanspoon


FTC Starts Schoolin' Bloggers!

You can read about it here, here, here, or here.

And this is the part where I reveal to you, after 170+ posts and 2+ years, that I...don't take free stuff. Except for the same amouse bouche that's offered to the other diners, if it's that sort of establishment. I get emails from people being all like "come to my super expensive event and I'll give you a few tickets to give away on your blog," and it's not that I'm anti-contest (even though I never win those darn Express ones), it's just that I want to be speakin' from the heart when I say that Ray's the Steaks rocks and Kora is a major disappointment (btw, it was). You can't buy my love!

Anyway, just busting out some compliance for you this Monday evening.

Poste Brasserie

We recently had a delightful brunch with good friends and he who must be our youngest friend. I'll get his meal out of the way first--the 3 year old had a bagel and cream cheese.

On to the old folks.

First, please do yourself a favor and GIVE IN to your inner self. You know, the inner self that is saying "get the house made doughnuts, you fool!" Let yourself go. There is a fine assortment (usually more than one chocolate, so less fighting than expected) and each one makes you wish it was a never-ending bowl/Mary Poppins/Olive Garden situation.

I had the ridiculous Brioche French Toast. I usually go for something omelette-y and healthy, but I was craving some ridiculosity, so there it went. The pieces were super thick, crunchy on the outside, and all around delightful. I don't have a picture of it, and for that I apologize.

BUT, two at our table got the Eggs Hussarde. Apparently invented in New Orleans, this combination of slightly scooped-out baked potato (swoon), merchand de vin sauce (hearty and flavorful), and poached egg (go, yolk! Infest everything, in a good way, with your deliciousness!) was simply magical. It's topped with bacon strips, which definitely are not necessary for the flavor explosion if you're not a fan/keep kosher/watching your sodium intake.

Service was attentive and charming, the patio was lovely, and I can't wait to do it again. P.S., brunch is Saturday AND Sunday. niiiice.

Poste Brasserie

555 8th Street, NW
Metro: Red, Yellow, and Green Lines to Gallery Place/Chinatown

Poste on Urbanspoon



The President can't stop copying me.

First he tailed me to Ray's. Then Dairy Godmother. Now, for their anniversary, he goes to Blue Duck Tavern?! Lest we forget where we spent our anniversary this past May--BLUE DUCK TAVERN.

I know, I know. Ray's and DG are wildly popular (not super widely popular, but at least notorious enough to have really intense and loyal followings), but Blue Duck? That's not a place everyone has been. It's not as obvious as Citronelle for a Presidential event, and it's....in West End. Really.

I'm not sure if BDT honored him in DG fashion, but I'm sure I'll find out soon. Happy anniversary, POTUS & FLOTUS!!!!