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  2. The bar program is still a big strength at Bistro 1521 - their beer selection is crammed full of "local" brews (enough to make this grizzled veteran wide-eyed), and their wine list is workable, with fairly priced wines by the glass. Our bartender, David, was a very nice person who offered to go back and get my friend a taste of Banana Ketchup, which he'd never before heard of (banana ketchup is a staple condiment in the Philippines, and is often sold under the label of, believe it or not, Heinz (aside - one of Australia's largest players in the Vegemite market is Kraft, who recently began selling a product that's Vegemite mixed with cheese, called Cheesybite!). I'll take banana ketchup over regular ketchup any day of the week). I have a relatively penetrating knowledge of Filipino cuisine, having studied it for years, and having taken part in numerous Filipino family functions among other things (you do not leave these things hungry, I assure you). One attribute about most Filipino foods is that they're generally quite mild; in fact, spiciness is the exception (although it is highly regional, and there are some spicy dishes) - another attribute is that the Filipina home cook will often have a massive jar of MSG crystals at the ready - they use MSG like we use antibiotics, but this is mostly for home cooking. I'm surprised the bar at Bistro 1521 didn't have bowls of Pulutan or Tenga ng Baboy, but this did used to be an Applebee's, and they know their Ballston clientele might not go for such tawdry things. I began my meal at Bistro 1521 with a 10-ounce snifter of Grapefruit Sculpin IPA ($9) made by Ballast Point Brewing Company - a San Diego, CA-based brewery with an outpost in Daleville, VA; but don't be fooled by the homey "small-town, craft brewery shtick" - Ballast Point was sold for over $1 billion to Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 company worth over $41 billion. I *really* hate that the consumer must research each individual beer to determine whether or not they're essentially buying Budweiser - someone should publish an annual guidebook to this that you can take to the supermarket; alternatively, retailers and restaurants should do the work for the consumer. This beer was as boring and soulless as you might imagine - yes, you could taste hints of citrus, but so what? My friend started with a glass of 2016 Trencalos Sauvignon Blanc ($8) from the Castilla region of Spain (there are numeros typos on the wine list at Bistro 1521, e.g., "Reisling," and there was one here, too). This was a generic Sauvignon Blanc with enough acidity to cut through the mildly zesty notes in the appetizers and her entree - you could tell it was a Sauvignon Blanc, but it would take someone like Gerry Dawes to know it was Spanish, much less Castilian. I'm grousing about both of these drinks, but they're really no different than what you find at 95% of restaurants, so don't blame Bistro 1521; the blame goes much further up the chain than this. Hell, the Original Sin lies with Procter & Gamble. Both drinks were served in good stemware and at the correct temperature, with friendly, prompt service, and there isn't a whole lot more this restaurant could have done. Our appetizer was an order of Lumpiang Shanghai ($5 at happy hour; normally $9) - two very good lumpia, halved, and nicely presented with appropriate dipping sauce (which worked much better than the banana ketchup). These were very good lumpia, arguably the highlight of the meal, and although I'd never pay $9 for two of them, they're worth getting at the $5 happy-hour price. I'd finished my glass of beer, and despite ordering a "red-wine" course, wanted to stick with white, so I got a glass of 2016 Domaine Bellevue Unoaked Chardonnay ($9) from Touraine, France. I've had this wine numerous times, and knew what I was getting in advance - compared with my friend's Sauvignon Blanc, I would recommend that others tend towards the Sauvignon Blanc due to its crispness, but I also knew that my dish was going to be somewhat stolid, and not needing any type of zing from my wine. With her Sauvignon Blanc, the classic Filipino dish with the funny name, Bicol Express ($17), specifically marked "spicy." This was a stir-fried dish of "sliced," pinkish pork, coconut milk, ginger, peppers, and shrimp paste, served with a small bowl of steamed, white rice. We both agreed that the dish had good flavors, and only the mildest hint of spice - and the Sauvignon was the wine of choice here. Up above, I said the lumpia was "arguably" the highlight of the meal; this was the other argument - although this dish won't win any awards, it tasted good, and was well within the spirit of Filipino home cooking. I can recommend this for people to try - not necessarily for Filipino nationals, but for people looking to transition into the cuisine. They say never to order an entree for one of the side dishes, but I did anyway. Mechado ($23) was presented a *lot* like an American pot roast, mashed potatoes, and greens dish, basking in a thick gravy - except this was braised short ribs, grilled asparagus, "Mechado sauce," and mashed purple yam. It had the feel (if not the look) of something you'd get at a hotel banquet, but was actually quite enjoyable, the one exception being when it cooled to room temperature: The Mechado sauce brown gravy, which had been thickened with corn starch, separated and clotted - there seemed to be a similar, but less dramatic effect, with the shrimp paste in the Bicol Express; however, the Mechado gravy became mildly disgusting once it broke. Nevertheless, it was a good dish, and every bite of food was finished on all the plates. I won't recommend this to people, and would urge the restaurant to stay closer to its roots, instead of trying to guess what Ballston residents might be looking for in a restaurant. Let them come to you: Word will get out, I promise.
  3. Bonito flakes

    Anywhere near Alexandria/Arlington that you know of that has bonito flakes? Thanks S
  4. The answer is Yes, they will make vegetarian versions. Thanks to this thread, yesterday, I found this small hole in the wall and had a very delicious lunch of a new type of dish that I'd never tried before. It is a tiny place on the strip in Mt. Pleasant and you would likely miss it if you weren't looking for it. It is really small inside but bright and clean with 4-5 small tables crammed in around a large register counter. I had what the counter-lady described as one of their most popular Lao dishes on the actual menu (vs. the more extensive posterboard mentioned above) - Nam Kao/Khao - which is a traditional Lao dish of crispy coconut rice salad with herbs, peanuts, eggs and typically pork but they readily substituted crispy cubes of tofu. They serve it with a few lettuce leaves to make a lettuce wrap which was how it tasted best to me. I wish I had a few more leaves though as I used them up and still had half a plate of food (portion is ample but not huge - good value ). The crispy rice was new to me. I looked online and apparently, you mix rice with herbs, eggs, and seasoning then form a big ball which is fried. Then the ball is broken into chunks and the rest of the ingredients are added and mixed together. You end up with these nice bits of crispy rice mixed with chunks of seemingly normal steamed rice that was in the center of the ball. I'd recommend checking it out. They also do a good deal of delivery business but the lady mentioned that business is slow during weekdays - so that may be a good time to order.
  5. Brussels/Bruges, Belgium

    Had an opportunity for a few dinners in Brussels last week. From okay to best: --Le Quincaillerie: in an old hardware store, this seafood specialty spot held us for a large group dinner and did a nice job. Nothing was particularly spectacular, but the building is special and the food solid enough. --Le Joue de Vache: This was a comfortable Brasserie just a few blocks from Place Leopold. Very nice, solid brasserie food--my veal mignon with Frites was nice; the marrow starter with toast points was just okay (not a fair comparison, but not nearly as garlicky, salty and delicious as most marrow preparations that I've had over the last few years. --Le Mess: in an old prison building (though it must have been the administrative offices, or the warden's home), we had a nice 3-course dinner. The dessert course was molten chocolate cake, served with an enthusiasm suggesting that they were at the cutting edge of pastry culture. The main course of fish was beautiful, though. --Brasserie Bozar: This Michelin-starred restaurant was fantastic, the dishes exacting, somewhat mysterious, and delicious. The beef tartare starter was a perfect appetizer before moving on to a second course of mackerel (perhaps prepared sous vide before being torched to crisp the skin) served over a not clearly identifiable vegetable/fruit preparation (a Chinese colleague thought that it was radish; I think that it may have been some sort of citrus peel that had been pickled/cured--something. The texture was mildly crunchy and exquisitely well-paired with the fish. The entree of chicken breast was also mysterious and the topic of major discussion; it appeared that they had inserted a pouch (of mushroom pate/ragout wrapped in spinach leaves) underneath the skin, then roasted the breast. It was served with a beautiful, mild sauce and roasted root vegetables. The dessert course was, for me, almost a riff on the Michel Richard kit kat, except it was almost the Snickers version. It was delicious. Beyond meals, I also had nice frites at the food truck (temporary) at Maison Antoine, and some nice lambics/krieks at Moeder Lambic.
  6. I pretty much agree with what you said in the second post, zgast, but my point is that the fact that it's cauliflower is irrelevant, and I wish people would stop insinuating that the prices of the dish should be proportional (in the mathematical sense) to the cost of the ingredients. How much are they charging for beef? I'm guessing significantly more than $32. If you object to the quality for the price (I.e. line cooks doing an inferior job), that's a real problem. But the price of a head of cauliflower at the grocery store (which I'm pretty sure is more like $4 even at Shoppers) isn't really relevant.
  7. Nobody is arguing that they don't need to cover their staff and fixed costs. I think most of us - but perhaps I'm just speaking for myself - believe that a lower price point on a product they're selling for 88% gross margins would induce more buyers and volumes that would more than compensate for the lower price. Would you rather earn $28 before FOH staffing and fixed costs and sell 2 or earn $20 and sell 5 or 6? As far as the math - you come out better in the latter scenario. They can charge whatever they want - I'm not going regardless as I'd rather make my own steak (meat or otherwise) at home. I'll pay top dollar for quality chefs making great food, not line cooks doing an inferior grill to what I can do.
  8. Also, landlords charge much lower rent for the space to store and serve cauliflower, and waiters and chefs are happy to be paid much less for serving it. Do I need an explicit sarcasm tag for this?
  9. How about raw? 6-inch Dover sole fish leaps into British man's mouth; man goes into cardiac arrest, by Alex Winter, (Bournemouth, England) Daily Echo Published 4:11 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2017, on usatoday.com.
  10. The Michelin Guide

    I think it is HILARIOUS that he is taking issue with how Michelin is handling/covering/rating DC restaurants. HILARIOUS.
  11. Why do places think they can charge these absurd prices for a cabbage? It's $2.50 at the grocery store. Perhaps it's artisinally grown and you lovingly execute two knife strokes to extract that perfect slice of cauliflower, but come on...
  12. Saw that story. I cannot overstate how nice both of them were yay and how stunned I was to learn of the scam. Last time I was there Clark recognized me and by name and we chatted. I hadn't been there for a good period and had forgotten his name ....and their products were mostly great. Shit. Sad story. Sad that they were charming scammers.
  13. Yesterday
  14. the issues were so many and in so many places. The lending and real estate side were two areas. Oversight on lending was a third area. While that was occurring Wall Street was intimately involved buying loans, breaking them up, reselling them, placing bets on the loans, etc. Nobody saw all of it in one fell swoop. In the 80's. I saw the lending, I saw the structure of the loans and their worthiness or not, I witnessed the overview that was seeing the market conditions that satisfied the loans, and while there wasn't a wall street element like in the 80's the lenders were flush with cash. I'd like to hear some of the insights from some of the players.
  15. I'd love to hear from someone who who was involved. I wasn't. I was involved in the credit crunch/over lending/crash of commercial real estate that occurred nationwide around 1989. I was involved from the earliest 80's. From the outside looking in there was so much that seemed replicated. Not exactly the same but so freaking similar in so many ways; on the lending and non oversight ways. The Wall Street element added another level of miserableness that didn't exist in the 80's and the run up to '89, but so much seemed so similar. But I was on the outside in the 2000's, not the inside. I'd like to hear about if from the inside.
  16. A little late, Scottie - the repeat is already occurring: Peoples' innate greed will continue to defy and outweigh logic, common sense, and long-term thought. Look into "Bespoke Tranche Opportunities" (think "BTO," like Bachman-Turner Overdrive) which is history repeating itself, because we didn't learn from it. I'm not an economic savant, but I do not believe that our economy has recovered from the "worst economic malaise since The Great Depression" so quickly - Americans (and, I suppose, by extension, the rest of the world) need many years of extreme hardship in order to really understand the ramifications of debt, defaults, the quick-buck, short-term thinking, living above your means, etc. It really *is* as simple as: "Don't spend more than you can afford," and there really *is* a parallel with the National Debt and Personal Debt - I have thought seriously about this for over thirty years, and nobody has ever convinced me otherwise. I can't remember with whom I disagreed about the severity of the National Debt, but I maintain that we've been swimming closer-and-closer towards a polar bear, which is going to bite us in the ass.
  17. This is fine, but I've always believed that the victims of discrimination (or equivalent) should be the ones whose words carry the most weight, and need to be listened to the most carefully. Example: Racism - I would ask Black Americans, Native Americans, etc., what they think are the biggest problems are, and what their opinions are about the best ideas to address these problems. Sexism - Ask females. Disability Issues - Ask the disabled. Sexual Orientation? Ask the LGBT community. Elder Abuse - Ask the elderly. Etc., etc., etc. - This doesn't mean that others can't voice opinions; merely that I personally assign more weight (or, at least, *initial* weight) to those who have been discriminated against. I've practiced this in this community since 2005: If someone says something offensive to certain groups, and I get a couple complaints from members of those groups, I sit up straight and pay careful attention to what they're saying - this has only happened a couple of times in 12+ years, but I'm *always* available to anyone who wishes to voice concern about any issue. This is nothing earth-shattering; just lending an ear, as well as encouragement to speak up, to those who have been traditionally suppressed or ignored - I don't think white males are your best bets for designing solutions to these types of problems, although they shouldn't be dismissed, either (after all, what you're currently reading is a white male issuing an opinion). Personally? I'd be eager to live in a society with female leadership - or at least give it a try for awhile.
  18. As far as this female is concerned, males should feel free to offer any ideas as well. This isn't women's problem to solve.
  19. Memphis, TN

    Any new intel on downtown Memphis? I will be staying at the Napoleon and attending a conference at the Westin Beale Street in early November. I loved Automatic Slim's the last time we were there and will have drinks at the Peabody one night. I'm interested in South of Beale and Majestic Grille, possibly also Blues City Cafe.
  20. The Gifford's heir is giving a talk tomorrow at the Silver Spring Library: https://www.sourceofthespring.com/giffords-heir-talk-ice-cream-empire/
  21. Fun review, though meaner than Pete Well's negative ones, which are more cheeky/devilish. Will likely have the same effect as his review for Founding Farmers did - loads of tourists continuing to go there and ever increasing revenues.
  22. They've rebranded as Rock Creek Kitchen. Per their website they have comfort food at comfortable prices. They're now closed on Sundays and Mondays, which surprises me, as I was under the impression that their Sunday brunch was popular. Google has them listed as closed, but they were open last Friday. We briefly checked out the new menu but decided to go to the Limerick Pub across the street (and owned by the same people) instead.
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