Top Chef DC Episode 3 Recap

...or, the Not So Quickfire.

But first: We open with Angelo crying a river about something in his Zoolander accent with his weirdass hat, and Kenny thinking he has to win everything.  Male ego blah blah blah.

The Quickfire
Special Guest Johnny Iuzzini (James Beard award winner, hair G-d, and pastry chef at Jean-Georges.  Don't forget, he'll be a judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts along with Gaily Pie).  Cheftestants have two hours to make a pie.  Amanda doesn't like pie (hasn't she seen the data?).  There are some disasters; Tracey's is watery, Ed thinks celery has something to do with bananas (by the way, spuma is foam), and poor Kevin made a good-looking apple pie that we never saw/heard about.  Stephen, Kelly (yum-looking "chocolate pie" aka ganache tart) and Kenny were on top--Kenny's bananas foster pie won. 

Elimination Challenge
Make a dish for an intern cookout/picnic on Mount Vernon.  Four of us suggested Mt Vernon in the Capital Spice contest in December.  It's a no-brainer!  We know simply that there will be grills for cooking.  J suggests that there might be a twist about the number of grills or type--he's a tricky one, but no, there's a charcoal Weber (sponsorship HI!) at each station.  Top Chef Master and chef from Barbuto in NYC Jonathan Waxman is in the house.

The most interesting part of this challenge was Padma's yellow dress.  Otherwise barbecue this, burger that, flank steak here, skirt steak there.  The judge's didn't seem to love love anything.  Many dishes were written off as soggy, bland, chewy, etc.  Not the adjectives you're looking for as a chef, generally.  Alex was crass about his pork butt, Kelly's bison burger was pretty but simple and bland, Tamesha's steak is chewy, and the list goes on.

Judge's Table
On the top:
Ed - Middle Eastern tuna loin with lentil hummus
Amanda - ribs that were good, but the salad "didn't need to be there"
Arnold - lamb meatballs skewered with lemongrass (right up my alley, I love lamb meatballs!!!) and barley salad
Angelo - Vietnamese style beef lettuce wrap that is worth of a magazine cover, according to the judges

And Arnold takes the win.  Sounds right to me.

On the losing side we had Stephen (bacon-wrapped Chilean sea bass), Timothy (pork two ways and overcooked veggies with unseasoned rice), Kevin (super-safe Puerto Rican food), and Tracey (over-fenneled undercooked Italian sausage sliders).  And Tracey is out.  As J says, she should have seen it coming; she is clairvoyant, after all.

So to me, the Winner also won Most Annoying tonight, just edging out Amanda.  Arnold has an overdramatic defensiveness that is positively infuriating.  Just reeelax, man.  Coming from me that means a lot.

But still, Amanda.  Her excuses during the Quickfire ("I'm not a pastry chef."  Duh girl, none of you are), her running around freaking out constantly during prep, her screaming at poor Alex about how she "labeled" her oven, despite the lack of an actual physical label...girl is a mess.  Plus her TMI about how she used to be addicted to pills and coke?  She made it seem like after getting through what had to be a difficult time (obviously), she now can do anything, which apparently includes being a narsty biznatch.

And I'd be remiss not to mention Ed in this category.  Apparently because he's so much more accomplished than his dad was at his age, he's already Top Chef.  Mazel tov, buddy, because I think it's the closest you're going to get to the title.

"It wasn't a good day for American chefs. " Tommy C. won Best Quote when he basically called the chefs on the bottom unpatriotic for the bland, uninspired food they created.  George Washington would not be proud. 

And we're down another week.  What did you all think?  I'm personally looking forward to some better TV coming soon--the Tour and Mad Men


Wizarding World of Harry Potter

[Ed. Note: This post and its accompanying photos are brought to you by the beautiful, the wonderful, the generous-with-her-Tupperware, EMI got her verbal report before I got one from the NY Times!]

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! This was before the park was officially open. It was only open to people who had purchased packages or were staying at Universal resorts. Pro: the park was busy when I was there, but I can’t imagine what the lines are like now. Con: it was only open for about three hours a day (8-11am). But the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was an amazing experience for me and my other HP-obsessed friends! Even non-fans or casual fans will enjoy the pumpkin juice and butterbeer.

First, a brief summary of the park itself. The first thing you see after entering through the Hogsmeade gate is the Hogwarts Express with steam billowing out of it and the conductor waiting to take pictures with you (he may be the friendliest amusement park employee ever). Hogsmeade is filled with stores from the books/movies—Honeydukes, Zonkos, the Owl Post, Ollivander’s. The detail inside and outside each store makes you feel like you are really on a trip to Hogsmeade. There is snow on the rooftops! Honeydukes is stocked with chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans; Zonkos sells pygmy puffs and sneakoscopes. Ollivander picks out a wand for a special member of the audience. Even the ATMs were Gringott’s ATMs!

The main attraction is Hogwarts. After walking through Hogsmeade, you reach Hogwarts castle.  It’s as huge and imposing as you expect it to be. Hogwarts houses the Forbidden Journey.  The line for the ride weaves you through the herbology greenhouse, into the castle. You pass tubes filled with red, green, blue, and yellow beads that show the standings for the house cup and then walk past the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. One room has portraits on the wall of the four founders of Hogwarts – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. They are all moving and talking, of course. Then, you enter Dumbledore’s office (complete with pensieve) where Dumbledore appears via hologram (I think). Then you move onto the defense against the dark arts classroom. Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear, and Ron accidentally makes it snow real snow. Like it feels wet and really melts when it lands on you. Next, onto the Gryffindor common room, the Great Hall, and the Room of Requirement. Then the ride begins!

 Now, the food. Honestly, there really wasn’t much of it because the park was only open from 8-11am. Breakfast at The Three Broomsticks was better than your average amusement park food
though. You could choose from pancakes, porridge, American breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, and a croissant), or English breakfast (eggs, beans, a croissant, a tomato, and black pudding). Only one of use was brave enough to try the black pudding, aka blood sausage, and it wasn’t me! It was black and looked sort of rubbery. I had the American breakfast the first day. Eggs are not my favorite [Ed: unless on a breakfast sandwich], and these eggs were definitely not going to change my mind. The bacon and croissant were tasty though. I had the pancake breakfast the second day. The fluffy pancakes were diner-worthy. Now that the park is open all day, The Three Broomsticks offers England inspired lunch/dinner options: fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pastry, and turkey legs.
The star is really butterbeer. You can buy it from the Hog’s Head or from the giant barrel in the center of Hogsmeade. Regular is delicious – it tastes like butterscotch soda – but frozen is so much better. It also has the butterscotch flavor, but it’s creamy and icy and foamy, perfect on a hot, humid day in Orlando. The servers add the foam from a separate pump, so that everyone can get a Hermione-worthy foam mustache. I don’t think I could drink multiple mugs of butterbeer in one sitting, but I regret not drinking at least one more mug full each day. Pumpkin juice is also tasty. You can get it at the Three Broomsticks or at carts outside in an adorable bottle topped with a plastic pumpkin. I was surprised at how pumpkin-y it tastes. I think I would like it even more heated up during Fall/Winter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was so much fun. I can’t wait to go back! I think we all
miss the butterbeer the most.


Weekly Recap: So Hot, So Many Blueberries

Blueberries.  They are everywhere, except for in my belly.  I know there are more delicious blueberry dish photos and blog posts to come, and I hope somebody will save me a slice of SOMETHING.  I wonder if you can make booze-filled blueberries the way you can do it with watermelon (thanks Kay819!).   Also this week, Deepthroat did a burger run down not so unlike my cage match a few years ago (and many burger joints ago, now that I think about it).  And DC Wrapped Dates enjoyed Eventide way more than I did (although I went early and without a Groupon...flaws hurt more when they cost more, I've found).  In other local and seasonal news, my garden-in-law is growing nicely, and I look forward to tasting the fruits of others' labor.

This week Barack Obama shocked the nation by returning to Arlington staple (and iEatDC favorite) Ray's Hellburger for the second time.   The Post published Tom's First Bite on Agora on 17th, but we already knew it was good from Mark & Angela's First Bite!

This blog isn't new, but it makes me giggle because--well, obviously.  They Brunch Hard.  So do we!!! 

Cooking co-ops.  There are definitely people I could do this with, if not for the whole proximity thing.

Is breakfast now the sixth most important meal of the day?

And finally, Pepto-Bismol is sponsoring the Nathan's Fourth of July hot dog eating contest.  How fitting.

I wasn't so enamored with food news this week, but these are the items that caught my eye, got shared, got emailed to me, were emailed from me, etc etc.  And also, watch this video (h/t Mel).

Have a great week everyone!!!


Top Chef DC Episode 2 Recap

Or, "Everyone is Obnoxious."

Special Guest: White House chef Sam Kass.

The Quickfire: Create a bipartisanwich.  30 minutes to make a sandwich in a 3-legged race style apron--one hand per chef, teams of two.  It seems almost as impossible to cook a delicious meal as it is to create meaningful legislation!  Zing!  P.S. they finally drew knives for this challenge. YAY.

In the quick skim around the room, I wanted to eat the lamb croque madame the most.  I love lamb.  I love eggs.  These are not secrets.  Tracey & Angelo and Kenny & Ed were on top, and T&A took it.  Third consecutive win for Angelo.  I guess it would have been embarrassing to lose since he owns  a sandwich shop in NYC.  I think his weird semi-accent might have to do with his parents' background and living abroad for a time.

Elimination ChallengeLet's Move makes its TCDC debut.  Make a complete school lunch (with all the food groups + dessert) for 50 students at Alice Deal Middle School...on a budget of about $2.68 per student. [Then Kass took $4 from everyone's total, which is the reality our schools face.] The winning Quickfire team picks their team members first, then everybody else chooses on their own.  How...fair.  Odd.

During menu planning we see Kelly being super confident and trying to lead her group.  Tiffany is not a fan of this, and neither is Arnold.  In fact, Arnold hosts a nervous-yet-forward intervention to tell her There Is No I In Team.  She's shocked that people think that she thought that they thought...you get the point.  Amanda and Tamesha are all "bleep bleep bleep" during menu planning.  Go read a book and expand your vocab, bebz.

Speaking of Amanda, she's annoying me.  First the pottymouth during menu planning.  Then she decides to make chicken with a sherry au jus.  Is it okay to make something with alcohol in it for kids?  I know it cooks off, but it just seems wrong.  Seems like Amanda was annoying Tamesha, too. 

Next: Budget crises.  Everybody is over-budget.  So people scrimp and cut and change the menus.  Wuh oh.

Ultimately, the two losing teams were brought in first at judge's table, throwing EVERYONE off.  Angelo, Tracey, Kenny & Ed; and Amanda, Stephen, Tamesha, & Jacqueline.  Angelo's team had a handful of issues (umm I won't go into detail, but the sweet potato puree looked wrong), but the judges harped most on what was missing--there really weren't any vegetables.  Kenny was convinced that Mr. & Mrs. Immunity threw the challenge (which would explain Angelo's glorified ants on a log).  I was surprised the judges honed in on the tomato as fruit v. vegetable controversy (decided by the Supreme Court here).  Amanda's team was plagued by her "unappealing" chicken and Jacqueline's offensive banana pudding, which was starchy and filled with sugar.  Two pounds of sugar, to be exact.

The judges got to sit back and watch the contestants hash out the details FOR them when Stephen started bashing the other team's choices, kicking off some back and forth banter.  So immature and unprofesh!  Stick to your own teammates if you are going to get nasty, peeps.

I thought that one losing team would be picked, and one person from that team would get tossed.  Instead, 4 people (2 from each bottom team) were called to Judge's Table.  Here it was Kenny, Ed, Amanda, and Jacqueline...I think.  Most importantly, Jacqueline was tossed for her unhealthy dessert.  Dessert loses again!  Also, when you squint she looks a bit like Jenna Elfman.

So we're stuck with Amanda for another week.  Maybe she'll be edited into someone less annoying in the future.

On to happier times--the winner!  Kelly's team had the best offerings, despite her initial overbossiness.  Her dish won.  Unsurprising, considering she made the entree (pork tacos).  I'm not sure a side dish would have won a challenge like this.  And I know the dish wouldn't have won about 8 miles north!  Location, location, location.

So who DO I like?  No one.  Not that TCDC is completely devoid of anyone talented + likable, but the past few episodes have focused more on the haughty/cocky/dramatic.  Bring on the adorable! 

My favorite part of this episode was the teaser in between commercials where Padma was giving all the kids hugs. My second favorite moment was when one of the students talked about how funny it was to have ice cream with a vegetable (sherbet with sweet potato), but he liked it. 

Dizzy's: A Finer Diner Park Slope, Brooklyn

I was charmed by Dizzy's from the start.
A server gave us a basket of baked goods to pass around outside while we were waiting.  YUM, and also a good tie-over for us hungry bunnies.  And btw, we didn't even wait that long--20 mins ish?

The brunch is a pretty good deal, I thought: $14 for an entree, tea or coffee, and juice.  I wish my iced coffee would have been refilled a few times, and our juice came after our meal.  A) it was busy and B) we were outside, and we didn't really notice the missing juice until later.  Granted, we hadn't seen a server in a while.  I enjoyed myself anyway, and the portion was awesome.

Great breadbasket with yummy muffins and I think strawberry butter. Nice!

L's corned beef hash. It had some kick to it!  The menu billed it as something like "the best corned beef hash ever," but we don't really agree.  It was good, but I think best ever (in our minds) has to go to Good Enough to Eat or Snooze.  Or Place To Be Determined. 

Steak and eggs for the J-man.  Mmmm.

What's up pancake/egg/potato/toast platter!  I love you and you are my dream come true!

Omelet filled with all of my favorite friends--cheese, tomato, somethin' green.

After I run (um, jog) I want a big fluffy omelet filled with my favorite items AND pancakes.  Not a whole order, just a bit.  What's that?  You like that too?  You want to run with me and then be my brunch buddy where we split something carbalicious and eggy? DONE!

Dizzy's has a nice big diner menu full of delicious items.  There's something for everyone.  GO FOR IT!

511 9th St
Brooklyn, NY

Dizzy's on Urbanspoon


Weekly Recap A Little Late - OR IS IT!

Wait, am I the only one who is still enjoying the weekend?  I took today off from work to play tourist with three of my lovely cousins.  Abe Lincoln, WWII Memorial, Old Post Office Clocktower---despite the super hot weather, we had a wonderful time and had a blue sky backdrop for our photos.  What more can you ask for? [...besides it being 75 instead of 95, of course.]

Let's quickly recap last week so we can move on to this week.  I just can't bear to skip it, because ever since I started these recaps out of boredom (THANK YOU SNOWPOCALYPSE) I just can't wait to tell you about my food news/bookmarked recipes/favorite stories of the week.  You know, just in case a) you don't follow me on Twitter (I'm heartbroken), or b) I was too lazy to find the link on my phone to copy and paste into my Twitter app.  It happens.

Top Chef started.  I feel like I'm the only one who wants the hashtag #TCDC to happen.  Why waste the characters with #TopChefDC?  But I'm alone (except for a few lovely friends).  OBVIOUSLY, we have our fair share of recaps going on.  The first three I read were We Love DC, Capital Spice, and Brightest Young Things. CS was more about the places featured in the episode and their history.  Learn something, will ya?  It's classy.  Oh, and Hank Stuever from the Post thought it was lame, in a nutshell.

Recently I've noticed apricots taking their share of the spotlight---fresh from Foodwanderings and dried from Passion Fruits.  I'm an apricot fan, and the other day on NPR I heard a story about a WOMAN named Apricot!  Good times.  Speaking of fruit, Cherry Pie from Adventures in Shaw is so gorgeous and so yummy looking.  I want to buy it. 

It turns out GW Law is not just a JD factory...it produces a disproportionate number of people who head toward the culinary arts (including a friend from my year! But he doesn't have a truck...yet.).  P.S., does Mr. Curbside Cupcake still use boxed mixes for his treats?  (h/t LB)

Tackle Box is coming to Cleveland Park.  One of my former favorite haunts.  Reasonably priced, usually yummy, but the real question is--who will be making the pie???  (add'l h/t to Komi to Marvin and Metrocurean)

Lunch joint in the sky (h/t EmGusk).  

And also, h/t to EmGusk for teaching me the abbreviation h/t.  Hat Tip



The Twitterverse is buzzing with the news, but in case you don't have Twitter but you are checking your Google Reader after 5pm on a Friday (highly unlikely), head over to your local Whole Foods for $1.99 cherries.  J confirmed that at 4:30pm they still had plenty left.  Cherries are in season, so I guess a surplus led to the sale.  Supply, demand, and all that other stuff. 



Top Chef DC Episode 1 Recap, or, Notes from the Only Person Who Didn't Watch at Good Stuff

We learned a little bit about way too many people tonight.  The first couple (or six) episodes are tough in any reality show, because you feel like you just want to ax half of them--the ones you just know won't make it.  Why waste your time watching them fail, get slammed by the judges, and then finally get aufed, knives packed, etc?

Anyway, so and so has little bebehs at home, whatsherface is self-taught and (thinks she) can kick everyone's collective ass, and most people have a whole boatload of confidence.

Let's recap the actual episode then move to my personal thoughts (aka Where I Judge Them roundup):

The Quickfire:
Mise en place.  Final round was to make a dish, any dish, with the ingredients.  Kenny had lightning speed the whole time, but Angelo was the ultimate winner in taste.  Mm chicken.  But Kenny was runner up. 

The Elimination Challenge:
My first thought was: Groupwork.  I hate groupwork...on reality shows.  But it turns out that they were just divided into "groups" to see who they were cooking against.  Not actually working together.  The challenge was cooking regional cuisine (from your region!) for 300 people at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The top four were Kenny, Kevin, Alex, and Angelo.  See their bios on the Top Chef web site.

Angelo took this one home.  Angelo made little one-biter spoons of bacon froth on Arctic char.  It was cute and pretty.  Tom said it was "really good," but Gail thought it was too dill-y.

Eventually we said goodbye to John, Mr. James Beard nominee with the wild dreads! They just didn't taste the maple in this Michigander's maple Napoleons with toasted macadamias.  They just tasted "sugar, sugar, sugar."

Best Quotes:
"I feel like an orchestra of flavors."  - Angelo
"You said you served this dish hundreds of times.  Did you make it?"  - Tom
"I'm just here to cook, I'm not here to play with dice."  - Tiffany.    THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT TO YOU KNOW WHAT!!!!  I'm Not Here To Make Friends.
"And you guys can lick your balls."  - Angelo.  OK, so he really meant to say "bowls."  I can't be the only one who did a double-take.  Does anyone else think this guy has sort of an accent?  A Madonna thing going on?

Parting Thoughts:
Angelo is intense.  Name and place dropping like none other!  We'll see if he lives up to the hype.

No one has a faux hawk this season.  That seems wrong...[see more coverage of faux hawks here and here. OK and here and here, too.]

The dish I most wanted to eat, just gut reaction gotta-tell-ya, is Tamesha's jerk chicken sphere with the fun jicama, mango, crunchiness underneath.  Looked tasty.  The judges didn't discuss it--not sure if that was an editing error.  They were too focused on the two sauce situation, contrasting the judge's disappointment with Timothy, the local, with his confidence.

Padma looks awesome.

This first episode has more "I worked for Whatshisface" and "I was nominated for XYZ award" and "This magazine named me Best Person Ever To Exist" than any previous introductory ep.  Maybe this isn't the most humble bunch.  Or maybe they are just that awesome.  We'll have to wait and see.

I think next week we should count the number of times they say "deconstructed." 

Let me know in the comments what you thought--what looked delectable, what description made you throw up a little in your mouth, and most importantly, did you like Padma's outfit?  Whatever you'd like to share, your thoughts are hereby solicited.

Thanks for playing!  I'm going to go read a bunch of TCDC tweets now...

P.S. To avoid intellectual property issues and possible improper crediting (and also THX FOR MAKING UR PHOTOS UNSAVE-ABLE, BRAVO!), I'm going to feature a real live iEatDC Family Photo taken in the DC area for each of these posts.


CommonWealth Gastropub

PRE-POST REMINDER!  Top Chef DC (TCDC) starts TOMORROW, and I'll be providing recaps that contain spoilers, guesses, judgments, and flip-flops on the previously mentioned judgments all season long.  Bravo, Wednesdays at 9pm (not 10pm, thank goodness).  They aren't paying me to tell you about it, I just love it that much. 

Back in May, when it wasn't 90 gazillion degrees, people enjoyed eating outside.  We are those people.  We'd been meaning to go to CommonWealth for a while--we love beer, burgers, fish & chips, etc.  It's a good fit.

The beer offerings will suit most palates.  I was feeling summery and wheat-y, so I got a flight reflecting those choices.  Mmmm.  I made it a habit to take tiny sips of each one after another and contemplate aloud about the fruit flavor or floral accents.  Because that's cool! Also: these little glasses are adorable.  That's reason enough to get a flight.

J got one normal beer in a normal sized glass.  Not a teeny tiny cutie patootie one.

LAMBURGER!  Cutest name of a food ever.  And that would be pesto.  DELICIOUS fries (chips).  Well seasoned, perfectly cooked, and delicious.  The bun is more of an English muffin--it didn't bother me, but it seems noteworthy.

Fish and chips!  Very very good.  J says "very high quality, almost as good as Eamonn's."  I agree.

This meal wasn't complicated--we ate outside, pretty quickly, didn't order that much, and I don't even think we saw the inside of the restrooms.  But it happened: we picked a place in which to spend our hard-earned cash.  We had a nice time at CommonWealth.  The service was efficient (if not a little brusque), food was as we expected--piping hot, tasting great.  As it should be.

I'd really like to go back for brunch.  And it looks like they have Saturday brunch!  Happy - it can be hard to find, you know.  Basically, I want to try the popovers.  Has anyone had them?  Are they delicious?

CommonWealth Gastropub
1400 Irving St NW
Metro: Green and Yellow Lines to Columbia Heights

Commonwealth on Urbanspoon


Friday Came Quickly!

Maybe it's because we took a little trip last weekend, but I feel like this week flew by! It's a good thing!  This week seems to have flown by.  Not sure why or how, but it did.  Monday and Tuesday were the nicest days ever, and then Wednesday rainy and sad.  But today?  STUNNING, even if a little warmer than I'd want.  Tonight is perfect.  We used out LivingSocial for Indique Heights to enjoy some fine Indian cuisine on the patio.  The Syrian Lamb Fry appetizer was yummasaurus.

This week I was superpsyched to finish the map you see to your left.  Or you can click here.  The map shows all the restaurants in the DC area for which we have blog posts--I didn't include NYC, Denver, Las Vegas, etc.  But if you think it would be handy, I may include a link list with links to out of town maps.  So if you click on the name of the restaurant on the list on the left-hand side of the map, or on the tag for the restaurant ON the map, a little description box will pop up.  That box includes a link to my review, which by now you know includes helpful tips such as Was It Delicious and What Metro Stop Do I Take To Get There.  Now you can be like "Hey, I wonder if iEatDC has any suggestions for somewhere near where we are standing right this very second?"   That question?  Answered.    I use the Capital Spice map all the time, and I always send it to friends who are new to the city.  Hopefully this can be a me-centered accompaniment : )

This baked salmon with lemon caper butter looks downright delightful, a nice little twist from my usual salmon routine.  Jersey Cook is a new addition to my Google Reader.  If you're wondering, I have 60 subscriptions.  Seems big at first glance, but I prob have friends with more (I'm looking at you!). 

The Carnivore and the Vegetarian are moving to NYC (and getting married!!!), and I flipped around their site a little to find the Pantry.  I love it.  Partly because it looks very much like our pantry. 

From Metrocurean, RAMMY award winners (YAY VERMILION! YOU DESERVE IT!!!!) and also, Pizzeria Orso opened in Falls Church.  From the photos this place looks Neopolitan and Fo' Real.  But is it better than 2 Amys?  I definitely want to go!  Here is a photo of 2 Amys pizza to jog your memory.

ESPN Zones are closing in cities around the country, including Baltimore and DC.  As much as I'll miss winning tickets and giving them to some doe-eyed little bugger, I'm excited for what's to come, whatever it may be. And We Love DC says Georgetown is finally getting a burger place.

Aaaand WSJ talks about Ruth Bourdain, the fictional character from the Twitterverse, a mashup of Anthony Bourdain and Ruth ReichlSea salt lattes = on my list of things I must have now.  BP tries to clean up a coffee spill (hat tip EG).

Reminder:  NEXT WEEK Top Chef DC starts, and I'll be providing recaps on Wednesday nights of everybody's favorite reality competition series.  (Seriously, it's my favorite.  Bachelor, SYTYCD, DWTS, Apprentice, etc, you can all suck it.  And Project Runway, sometimes the best thing about yu is Heidi.  Sigh, Heidi....)

Have a great weekend!  Fight (run) against heart disease, be proud, and definitely watch some World Cup!



Hey! That's us!  That's our table!  No, that's not really us, but that really was our table--the nook in the window.  Originally we were seated in a floating table (not anchored to a wall aka Not My Bag), but because of our 8:45pm reservation, the place started clearing out just as we were ordering.  We took up our server (or at least, one of them) on her offer to move.  So nook + people watching + deliciousest food in the world = happiness.

Ahem!  Komi.  The myth.  The Legend.  No Photos Allowed. A chef described as a wunderkind#1 on the Washingtonian Top 100 Restaurant List (in 2009 and 2010). Obama Date Night Destination.  A realization that "best ever" is accurate.  And many other things that lots of people have already said (P.S. that last link was probably most influential--when I first moved here it was Jason from DCFoodies that I heeded most.  Of course the number of food blogs has decadrupled since that time). 

We quickly informed our server that we were "going for the gold"--the degustazioneAfter all, who knows when--or if--we'll be back.  I was a little nervous that I'd forget certain plates (lost in the wine, perhaps?) so J and I played the "I'm going on a picnic game" every couple courses where we tried to name them all.  And then afterward I quickly scribbled (*2010 style) notes and took a screen shot for y'all.  This is as raw as I get guys.  Seriously.  I'm showing you my screen.  You know my battery life, and that I'm the kind of person that wants the percentage displayed.

Now, I'll dig into some details.  I liked absolutely everything and would have it all again.  The sashimi was unlike any sashimi I've had anywhere, even Makoto, which Zagat is in love with.  It was light and didn't have a hint of fishiness.  It provided cool (but not cold) and flavorful, super light bites.  BTW, the first bunch of dishes are called mezzathakia.  Mmmm.

The adorable tiny bun (as in bread) topped with creme fraiche and roe was SO DELICIOUS!  It reminded me that I look forward to making this appetizer from Mango & Tomato.  But now it has to be homemade adorable still-warm one-bite mini buns, right?

The spanikopita with the liquid center was another one-biter.  We all know how I love liquid center fried items.

Braised asparagus - awesome.  Tagliatelle with mushrooms & blueberries TOTALLY WORKED!  J was a little nervous that it would be strange, you know, with the blueberries.  But no.  The goat shoulder was unbelievable.  I described it to a friend (who hasn't eaten goat) as brisket meets dark turkey meat, but not.  One thing that's tough about a large tasting menu is that by the time you get to the seriously hearty main course kind of stuff, you are stuffed.  But at Komi, the bites are tiny, and they build progressively in weight and flavor so that you not only have room for the goat, but you LOVE eating it and basically finish the (large) plate (to share).

Same with the desserts.  The desserts were amazing.  Honestly.  Amazing. The caramel?  For real?!  At a lot of restaurants I want to eat dessert but I just can't.  I am too full.  I was ready for dessert.  Again, the build-up and the timing at Komi made not only eating dessert, but ENJOYING it, super duper easy.

The service was incredible.  Attentive (how could it not be, we saw servers pretty frequently with that massive list of plates), but it didn't seem like they were always around.  Plates came, plates went, wine was re-filled (we shared one bottle...it was a weekday!), but I still felt like we had our own space.

The only thing I really didn't like at Komi was something I didn't actually eat at Komi.  It was my little take home treat, a root beer lollipop.  And I'm a root beer fan, normally.  In this photo, it appears to be driving up Massachusetts Avenue.

The menu is not for picky eaters, but unlike other wild-seeming tasting adventures, this one truly produced one spectacular (looking and tasting) dish after another.  Pick a special occasion, or make one up.  Make a reservation.  We made ours 30 days in advance by phone for a weekday late seating.  That was before The Prez made an appearance, though.  Last step: go, relax, and enjoy.

1509 17th Street NW
Metro: Red Line to Dupont Circle

P.S.  If it's not obvious, this was the best meal I've ever had to date.  Really, ever. But maybe that will change one day

Komi on Urbanspoon


Friday, You Are Bittersweet

If you're my pal on the Twitterverse, then you already know that today we lost a little puppy soul, specifically our family dog, Sophie, who died a few weeks short of her 12th birthday.  Here's a look at the little Queen of the Underbites.

But on to happier topics...

I didn't read much in food news this week, but I did continue my new-ish system of tagging blog posts in my Google Reader to organize them.  "Fish" "Dinner" "Dessert" "Cookies" "Side dish"  "Gift Ideas" are the most frequently used.  But what AM I tagging these days?

I am definitely going to make this lamb from Smitten Kitchen.  It looks easy and delicious.  I've never made lamb at home, but that won't be true very very soon. (P.S. Who is coming over to supervise this attempt?) And how about this delicious pasta dish with peas and parmesan from Adventures in Shaw, looks yum and easy.  For noodles with a different flavor, go with peanutty soba noodles from The Dirty Radish.  I'll prob throw in some edamame and whatever other veggies I have lying around!  And for dessert, goat cheese marble brownies from Corcoran Street Kitchen.  J just saw those over my shoulder and he's like "When are you making those?!?!"  Hi, you can bake!  He's too likely to leave them in the kitchen until I eat them all myself.  Man has willpower like none other.

News-wise, We Love DC says that Taylor Gourmet may be coming to Dupont!  It's only marginally closer than the Chinatown location (to me at least), but close enough that I'm more likely to try it.  I want to compare to Italian Store in the battle of the sandwiches. 

So put your sugary electrolyte-packed drinks away, my friends, and indulge in some of what I used to call Chocolate Moo Juice.  Apparently chocolate (skim) milk is the best post-exercise drink (via Eating Well).  My routine is close - I stick to Light Chocolate Silk after a long run.  It ties me over from sweaty gross person that scares away would-be elevator-mates to post-shower acceptable human.

Aaaand my favorite online source, Slate, talks to Anthony Bourdain

In this edition of Analytics, I took a look at the past week. 14% of the keyword searches that brought visitors this week were for Ray's Hellburger or some derivative (including vegetarian options, how to get there via Metro, and the coleslaw recipe).  I love Ray's, and I'm happy to know that maintaining this blog is informing people about my unhealthy obsession.  I mean love.  Love.  But my favorite keyword search this week was for PEANUT BUTTER M&Ms.  My favorite. And clearly, someone else's. 

In my last bit of stalker/curiosity, I checked out 2010 so far, and was disappointed to see that four states are missing from my visitor list:  Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming.  I was particularly bummed out about that last one--Wyoming is a place near and dear to my heart.  But alas, I started the blog several months after my last visit there, and I didn't get to share with you my experiences at Snake River Grill, Sweetwater Restaurant, and Chippy's Kitchen (where we ate delightful sandwiches on a bench in front of a catering company's tiny storefront during a bike ride through and around Wilson, WY).  I'll leave you with a few photos from that excitement, and encourage you to remember to travel domestically to the beautiful places right here in the US of A, and obviously, awkwardly photograph all of your food.  Have a wonderful weekend, and Shabbat Shalom!

We ate pizza at this joint in Gardiner, Montana


Mie N Yu

We’ve walked by Mie n Yu literally hundreds of times; whether living in Foggy Bottom or just over the Key Bridge, Georgetown has always been a place for strolling, shopping, and of course, frozen desserts. But we’ve never been inside. Part of it is that we’re not really part of the hip happening bar scene going on in the District, or really, the world. Any appearance of coolness associated with showing up at Bourbon Steak Lounge should be shaken off—I was there for some cheap(er) food.

When I got an email offering me and a guest a FREE meal at MNY to try a new $25/pp three-course meal I decided to grab it.  Several other Urbanspooners took the same bait - DC Socialite and Two DC, to be precise!  The host told me they were also inviting prominent Yelpers.  MNY wants the word out on the new menu, and I finally got to go inside this fabric-swathed themed establishment. This is somewhat of a test run for me – I like getting a run at new stuff, and I don’t doubt that I can provide an unbiased yet fully disclosed review. But we’ll see if it gives me just an icky feeling. So far I’m ok.

Mie N Yu is pretty obsessed with the Silk Road, which is another way of pretty much saying it's Asian fusion.  Everywhere you turn is a different themed room. The Turkish Tent, the Moroccan Bazaar, etc.  The spaces upstairs for events are spacious, private, and beautiful. I was told that the interior designer who worked on MNY went on to create interesting spaces like Brasserie Beck. While the variety can be interesting, not every diner wants to be so involved with a restaurant’s concept. Some just want to sit in a comfortable, beautiful (doesn’t hurt) space, and eat delicious food.

The menu being hyped up is the Blind Tiger, a 3-course tasting menu for $25.  Off the bat I was impressed--that's certainly a deal.  Also, the third course is NOT dessert, which made me glad.  I often feel like dessert during Restaurant Week is a bummer---me want more food.  Let's get down to it!

A bowl of edamame was a great start to our meal – some course salt on top, but not too much. I appreciated the extra bowl for the shells. It worked out better than awkwardly piling them on a side plate or something.  We were offered more, but I didn't take 'em--gotta save some room.

For the first and second courses we just picked “one of each.” A salad with soba noodles, blue crab, and pickled quail eggs was cool and light for a hot summer day, and the rice vinegar dressing was quite tasty.  The za'atar hummus was really good, but we probably could have used more pita.  The ratio was off!  Even though we really liked the hummus, part of me was like "Well, I make hummus at home all the time, I wish there was another choice..."

Second course we had lamb kabobs and Beijing style duck with little pancake wrappers.  I think the lamb was my favorite dish!  Flavorful, simple, and distinctive.  Lamb is the bomb.  The duck was good, but hoisin-drenched duck is hoisin-drenched duck, whether it's at Mie N Yu or in lettuce wraps at countless other places.  It's just not special.

Third course was the Pakistani cinnamon and ginger striped bass (in a spiced yogurt casserole with tamarind scented basmati rice) and lamb, wild mushroom, and tofu fried rice.  The striped bass wasn't what I expected--because of the yogurt and cinnamon I expected more of a korma-type flavor, sort of sweet and creamy.  Instead, there was a citrus-y pepper-y bite to it.  The fish was still nice, and J seemed to enjoy it a lot.  The lamb dish was hearty and tasty.  I can imagine digging into it on cold winter night; it was the epitome of comfort food.  I felt like one overpowering (but good) flavor overwhelmed the dish--there wasn't much contrast. 

We decided to grab dessert, too.  We needed a well-rounded experience, and the pecan and chocolate croustade sounded like just the thing.  One thing is for sure: it smelled positively divine.  I was expecting the inside to be more gooey, like a nice warm pecan pie.  It was warm, but the inside was not gooey.  I didn't get much of a straight-up chocolate flavor, just sort of a charred nutty flavor.  J doesn't really like the gooeyness of pecan pie, so he preferred the croustade the way it was.  I liked the cinnamon gelato, local from Dolcezza :)

Several friends told me there was a “surprise” about the bathrooms, and even my server said that they were award-winning. (A sign explaining how MNY was voted Best Restaurant Bathroom in 2009 by the Express is unmissable on your way to the facilities.) After all that build-up for a unisex room of single-stalls and common sinks (and a mirror that definitely tricked me into thinking the whole thing was twice the size), I was just annoyed that the bowl sink filled with decorative rocks = splashing water all over myself. Some things in life, like bowl sinks, are somewhat beautiful but totally impractical. Also, the Best Bathroom in my book is one that doesn’t require taking the stairs (or an elevator…I’m looking at you Hotel Monaco/Poste). Especially if you have a few cocktails.

I’ll stop picking on the theme now, and instead tell you about how my heart swelled with joy when I saw Kluge wines (from Charlottesville) on the list. MNY is very focused on local. Their list of farms that they partner with is quite long – everything from lamb to produce to eggs is coming from nearby (check out a list at the bottom of the page here). But many restaurants tout their existence on the local train without giving a hoot to the grapes. I’m not saying you gotta wave goodbye to France, Italy, or even Napa Valley. I’m just saying if you’re going to be all we’re-local-this and we’re-local-that, the least you can do is carry one local wine. In my opinion. So good for MNY!

The reservation system is a little funky. I like my OpenTable.  I have points, a login, and of course, the app.   To set up another account with yet another company is just...ugh.  Why.  Also, my confirmation went directly to my Spam.  C'mon guys, it's Gmail.  Everybody's doing it. 

Overall I had a good time at Mie N Yu; the food is fun, the atmosphere is different, and this $25 menu is definitely a good deal.

Mie N Yu
3125 M St NW
Metro: Blue and Orange Lines to Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn, walk or take the bus.  Or take the bus from a convenient location near you. 

Mie N Yu on Urbanspoon