Upcoming travels: Your advice?

This image is courtesy of the 2010 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon (recently sold out, but put 2011 on your calendar).  

 Enough CYA on copyrights.  News!  Now you can follow me on Twitter.   Besides restaurant news/tasty bites, I might share more about my recipes/cooking there--I try to keep this blog 99% dining out, but it turns out that we actually cook dinner 5-6 nights a week.  Imagine that! 

I'll be checking out 36 hours, Tom's Postcards, Yelp , and Urbanspoon for sure, but if you have any suggestions for the following cities, I would really appreciate it!  Some trips are sooner than others, and some are downright tentative.  But still!

1. Austin, TX (W&CP, I managed to find your friend's blog through Twitter--it's going to help on this adventure)
2. San Diego, CA
3. Savannah, GA (besides Lady & Sons, which I will go to even if you didn't have a good time slash waited on line for 4 hours, because Paula Deen is the southern grandma that I never had)
4. Charleston, SC
5. Pittsburgh, PA

P.S.  A few fun links.  This description of a blog (via @Slate) is hilarious and true.  The second comment is the best.  Also, these macarons. I may not have to run back to Paris as fast as I thought...


Indique Heights

While in Boston with my sister a while back, the two of us enjoyed lunch at an Indian buffet.  I think that's why I felt like we should have Indian cuisine together on her recent visit!  Also, eating with actual family is like eating with M & F or J & J - SHARE CITY!!!!

We had never been to Indique Heights, but we did go to Indique in Cleveland Park...err maybe 4 years ago?

Enough background, on to the food.  The Street Snacks are where it's at--you can even see pictures online, although really, it doesn't do the taste justice.  Let's do a rundown:

Papri chaat: AMAZING!  My favorite dish.  it was a yogurty, chutney-y, creamy delicious happiness in a bowl, with some chickpeas, crisps, and potato pieces thrown in for interest.  I made sure to scrape the sides of the dish before I let anyone take this away.

Vegetable samosa chaat: Mmmm, yummy.  And pretty!  Sort of half-deconstructed samosa, easy to share.

Syrian lamb fry:  Super tender boneless lamb cooked with cardamom, cloves, fennel, cinnamon, and ginger.  A really great flavor combo, and the texture was yum.  And visually, there's nothing quite like a pile of meat!

Chicken mini-dosas: This crepe filled with a finely chopped chicken mixture was delicious--the chicken wasn't at all evenly distributed, so if you try to cut this up and divide it among the group some people will get an empty piece of pancake.  The chicken filling was a little spicy, super flavorful, and I could probably have two or three of these for dinner any night of the week.  Table shot!

Saffron malai kabab:  Superduper tender chicken breast chunks marinated in yogurt, cream cheese, and saffron.  Really yummy, the chicken definitely melted in your mouth, and most importantly, it came to the table piping hot.  I thought the saffron flavor was pretty light, but that may be best--the most expensive spice in the world is pretty potent!

Dal makhani:  Mmm, lentils in the tomato/garlic/ginger happiness, apparently simmers in the oven overnight.  A perfect complement to the paratha and chicken.

We had the perfect amount of food for the three of us--not a bite was leftover, and we were too full for dessert, but we didn't need any wheelbarrows or helpers to get us home.

The service was--well, I guess one word is attentive.  But maybe too attentive.  Our server re-filled water glasses after almost every sip we took.  He came back to our table two or three times to see if we were ready to order while we clearly had our menus open and were discussing our options (and we didn't do this for a longer-than-normal time).

And then there was the staring--I'm not a fan of staring, generally.  Servers who were not otherwise engaged stood at the stand with the computers (where they print the checks, etc) and chatted while staring at patrons.  If you're going to stand around and talk, do it somewhere else.  Or at least look at EACH OTHER.  People do not like being watched while they are eating!  REALLY.  WE DO NOT.

I guess if we weren't sitting in view of that waitstaff stand then we wouldn't have had this problem.  We were straight into the restaurant from the hostess stand and then on the right.  The place is huge, but it was mostly empty on a Friday night.  So when you visit (and you should), ask to be seated somewhere else!

My only other complaint is that the restaurant can be hard to find.  You have to take the escalator upstairs at the little bus pavillion by the Friendship Heights Metro, and there's a small sign advising you of that. But then you go into a building that looks like a bunch of doctors' offices, and you think hmmm where did we turn wrong?  Walk straight past the reception area for the office part of the building and the door to the restaurant is on the left. 

P.S. - follow me on Twitter!

Indique Heights
2 Wisconsin Circle
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Metro:  Red Line to Friendship Heights

Indique Heights on Urbanspoon



In honor of the state I am in (or at least, should be in) at posting-time, here's more on NY:

A lot of fights (verbal and otherwise) go on about the ubiquitous Best Pizza In New York (City).  People talk about it AllTheTime.

There are articles about DiFara...not one recently, but at least three mentions in The New York Times in the past 6 months.  The saddest one is a piece by a neighborhood writer who stops going because of the hour(s)-long waits and touristy crowds.  One visitor was quoted in the Times as crassly saying, "it's like they dug up my grandma and she made the pie."

The pie is impressive.  We watched as Dominico DeMarco, the man, the legend, did exactly what he did in this video (not me, btw).  He made pie after pie, with the superfresh fragrant basil cut with a scissor right over each one, the parmesan grated by hand directly over YOUR PIE (not into a container, later to be tossed on by hand-->pie.  Grater-->pie only, thx), and olive oil pouring out of the copper kettle.  Mmm.

You will wait.  But I've waited before--Ray's the Steaks, 2 Amys, Ray's Hellburger, umm remember a Denver brunch where we waited outside for over an hour?  And it was raining???

If you're like me, then you know that good things (pizza) come to those who wait.  The crust is thin, the basil is plentiful (a plus in my book, I know others who aren't a fan of big leafy herbs in their food), and the flavors combine to make beautiful music.  But you still taste everything separately, and you know that the sauce on its own would be delightful by the spoonful, and it would be OK if the cheese went right into your mouth from the grater, as opposed to on someone else's pie.

You can try to call ahead to order your pie, but when the list is long they just stop picking up the phone.  Seating is scarce--a few tables (all different sizes) and not even enough chairs for the tables that exist.  Waiting space = crowding the counter or outside.  Be kind to your fellow guests, and if you're just waiting at a table and they are lucky enough to have a pizza, let them sit.  <3

Di Fara Pizzeria
1424 Avenue J
Brooklyn, NY

DiFara Pizza on Urbanspoon


Where am I going this Restaurant Week?

The answer is....drumroll.....NO WHERE.  Now that I don't work/learn downtown, lunch is out of the question.  That was my favorite part of RW!  Does anyone remember Zola from last winter RW?  It sparked my interest in the fabulosity known as Zola's lamb meatball sliders. This Capital Spice map is from Summer '09 RW, but see the void northeast of the city?   That's where I am during work hours.  Bummer city.

Not that $35 isn't still a good deal (at some establishments), but working off-Metro and having a partner-in-crime working past prime time does not equal RW success.

As for where you should go, in my total non-expert but still pushy opinion, please make sure wherever you go has a real "deal" for you.  Check out the regular menu--if all the things you would want (app, entree, dessert) barely add up to $35, then don't bother going during this crowded week.  Go at your convenience, most likely with better service and fewer crowds.

For example, what I would want from Ceiba likely adds up to about $38.  Should I rush to get an RW reservation?  Or should I take advantage of SATURDAY happy hour (with half-priced bar food), or the $29 pre-theater.  Yes, you heard me--the pre-theater menu is less than RW, and this isn't uncommon at all!  But for the thrill of RW (and admittedly, maybe a more convenient dining time), you can pay $35.10 for that fun.

I don't want to sound grumpy.  You know I love to spend money on lavish and ridiculous tasting menus.  But use your noggin, and don't let anyone trick you into thinking you got a "deal."  If you love the sandwiches (hovering around $9) at Restaurant 3, then don't go for RW.  I'm looking out for you in these tough economic times. 

I just recommended Willow to an Arlingtonian--they are extending, so maybe I can get over there while it lasts!  You can see menus and who is extending over at DCFoodies.

Where are you going this RW?  Where have you been?  What did you like?  What wasn't worth it?  Any surprisingly good or bad service???  HELP US CHOOSE!!!!


Postcard from Asheville

Moving and shaking, we are.  Fall is a great time to head to Asheville for some stunning foliage, hippie/hipstery music scene, cute shops and boutiques, and did I mention delicious eats?  Just walking around downtown, the restaurants are buzzing, the lines can be long, and most menus look delightful--how to choose?!  Thank goodness for our helpful guidance from J & J; Asheville is her college town, and I knew she'd lead us to all the right places.

Laughing Seed Cafe
"Something can be really good and filling, and it doesn't need meat."  I'm a former vegetarian, but J-man is definitely not.  Do I even know this guy???  Laughing Seed was amazing---tempeh, tofu, and seitan ("wheat meat") often played the role of hearty meat-like substance, while the veggies, nuts, fruits, spreads, and creativity made this place to die for.  Burritos, enchiladas, salads, sandwiches...the menu is huge and the servers are really helpful with recommendations.  The pakoras were amazing, and one of mine looked like a swan.  Really, can it get any better?  This place was hands-down an eat-good, feel-good, do-good kind of joint.  We loved it.

Laughing Seed Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tupelo Honey
Prepare to wait, but the wait is worth it---we had the best sweet tea ever, and egg concoctions galore; one in our party enjoyed the Eggs Crawley, a clever name for the crabcake dish.  And get this--in the more original version, asparagus can take the place of ham!  How's about that!  Now I thought the biscuits were good, but Mrs. Brooket says hers are better--I guess that means I need to book a trip to Charlotte SOON. We bought a package of the biscuit mix for mom, and her lovely and always-charming daughter whipped them up for Thanksgiving!  [Ed. Note: This part was updated after L informed me that no, Mom did not make the biscuits.  L made them!  Accuracy is vital.]  Brunch, lunch, or dinner, you really can't go wrong here.  Fresh blueberry jam you want to eat with a spoon.  Forget the biscuit.

Tupelo Honey Cafe on Urbanspoon

Another joint we didn't get to that J recommended was Early Girl Eatery.  Time was short, but I know we'll get there next time!  

P.S. Asheville is a great place to stop on your way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


It happened. We left Arlington.

Between snowpocalypse and the holidays, we actually relocated.  No no, don't worry--we'll still be eating food all over DC, but expect significantly less Arlington.  At least, if we can stay away.  As recent Marylanders I expect we'll delve into Bethesda eateries, and try some off-the-beaten-path (read: non-Metro) establishments as well.

Things we'll miss include Faccia Luna, Boccato, Dairy Godmother, Ray's, Brooklyn Bagel, and frequent trips to Old Town.  But we can do without the super-packed Orange Line and schleppy commutes.

Onward and upward, right?  Upcoming posts hopefully will bring my postcard from Asheville (finally!!!), the Best Pizza In NY (some say), and a few more spots around town.  Got a reservation for VOLT in February, biiiig mystery for me was how exactly to GET a reservation, when 30 days in advance was booked already at 12am on OpenTable. 

Also, it turns out I've been on to something all this time with my brunch obsession.