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#233569 Grapeseed, Cordell Avenue in Bethesda - Chef Jeff Heineman's Cafe and Win...

Posted by Jeff Heineman on 12 July 2013 - 04:40 PM

Okay, time for a new spin on an old favorite. I know this is late for this week, but we will be doing this every week until we change it.

 

The Dr.com tasting menu Discount Edition II.

 

Now, the tasting Menu every Friday and Saturday Night, regularly $55 for the unclean masses, will be $40 for Dr.com types AND we will donate $10 per purchased dinner to the Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF is also the Charity we and other Bethesda restaurants are supporting During Restaurant Week from July 29th to Aug 4th)

http://www.gazette.n...emplate=gazette

I will post, at the end of the month, the total that is donated.. So we will see in three weeks how much you all care about our injured soldiers.

 

We will still do the wine pairings for 1/2 price as well.

 

Menu without wine pairings:

Amuse Bouche

Shrimp Etouffee, Rice

Fried Chicken , Waffle, BBQ Sauce

Hanger Steak Frites

Choice of Dessert


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#248545 Rogue 24, Blagden Alley in Mount Vernon Square - 2007 James Beard Winner RJ C...

Posted by lackadaisi on 26 November 2013 - 09:16 PM

Again we used his criticism as a tool and change a policy the rest is opinion and ambiguous meh? why? what part? give me some depth of thought.

Never mind you all enjoy have a fun weekend.

We relish criticism and learn from the good and the bad. Ambiguity is not a learning tool.

 

First, he didn't have an enjoyable experience, and that means a lot. Over the past 8 years that I have known him, I have read many of his reviews, spoken to him about many meals, even sharing some, i have learned a lot about his taste, so it means something to me. That doesn't mean that I would agree, as we dont always, but that is why it is good to have this kind of historical relationship.

Second, he loves the decor and thinks the kitchen in the center is cool (as do I). But some people want a visible kitchen so they can watch food prep, like at Rose's. If that is what you are looking for, this wouldn't be the right place. I agree with that completely.

Third, he likes fully composed dishes and didn't find that here. My step-father often has this complaint and would find it useful. I don't really, but whatever.

Fourth, he felt the wine pairings were not a good deal. He explained exactly why he felt that way. It seems he may not have had the standard service in this regard. He can't be blamed for that. But I know him well enough to know that he isn't some chump that thinks the glass should be filled to the rim.

Fifth, he listed the menu and described some dishes, which is very helpful to give people an idea of what to expect.

Sixth, he thought the oyster was overpowered by the cucumber. Clear criticism.

Seventh, he really liked the avocado dish and thought the presentation was cool.

Eight, he thought the potato and lime gel overpowered the sepia and smoke. Again, very clear criticism.

Ninth, he thought the urchin was good and creative. I certainly wouldn't have understood that the coffee was crumbled but not for his description. This one really piqued my interest.

Tenth, the pigtails were in springroll form and good. Although he liked it, I don't much care for spring rolls, and I seem to recall that he does, so this tells me it is probably very good but I doubt it would be my favorite as it is more his bailiwick.

Eleventh, although he had a predisposition against the snail dish, it was good and interesting enough for him to enjoy it at least moderately.

Sure there were a lot of words that weren't that descriptive, but he clearly wasn't trying to write a masterpiece. He was trying to give his impression and some take aways. I think he did that extremely well. It would be wonderful if all posts had this much detail and were written by people who have allowed us to have so much insight into thier tastes (note, I only know MDT though DR and DR-related events).


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#230554 Growing a Pineapple - A Three Year Project Reaches Fruition

Posted by Tweaked on 04 June 2013 - 01:24 PM

Three years ago, I lopped off the top of a grocery store pineapple, trimmed off the remaining fruit and stuck the spiny top into a glass of water.  Several weeks later roots sprouted, so I planted the thing to see what would happen.  Now I am fortunate to live in a big old DC apartment building with a lovely sunroom.  We are above the tree line so even though it is Northeast facing we receive abundant sunlight.  In fact we joke that the growing climate in the sunroom is such that it is several growing zones south of DC.  We can't grow herbs to save our lives, but citrus no problem. 

 

The pineapple took right away.  Soon new spiny growth was shooting up.  Soon we had spines that were 3-4 feet long.  It was almost becoming a health hazard...watch out for your eyes when watering, you might get poked.

 

Fast forward three years to January 2013.  I was watering the pineapple plant one morning and saw the most curious thing...

 

pineappleside.jpeg

 

Why I think we have a baby pineapple!  And the baby pineapple grew and grew...

 

pineapple2close.jpeg

 

By March we had what was looking like a real pineapple...

 

fibogrowingcloseup1.jpeg

 

This past weekend it was time to harvest.

 

fibopicked2.jpeg

 

fibocubedDR.jpeg

 

So what does an a DC apartment grown pineapple taste like?  The best damn pineapple ever.  Super fragrant, a long lush pineapple flavor that washes over your tongue.  None of that harsh acid one gets with an unripe supermarket pineapple.  I suppose like most fruits and vegetable, one that is grown on plant and harvested at full ripeness just tastes better than one that has been picked early and shipped across the country. 

 

So now we are starting again.  Maybe in three years we will have another pineapple to enjoy.

 

fiborebirthDR.jpeg


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#221161 Middle Eastern Food 101

Posted by Kibbee Nayee on 21 January 2013 - 08:54 PM

[My goals here are straightforward – First, I wanted to put together a primer on Middle Eastern food so that Rockwellians don’t walk into a Middle Eastern restaurant and scratch their head like I do when I walk into a Chinese or Korean or Thai or Martian restaurant.  May you all place your orders in a slightly more informed manner from this day forward.  Second, I wanted to encourage the rest of our experts to do the same in each of the cuisines they happen to be experts in, so that this site can have a respectable ethnic food guide.  Please pile on.]

 

The topic of Middle Eastern food is as broad as the topic of Asian food.  There are regions to be discussed, then countries within regions, and then localities within countries, all of which bring differences and nuances to the discussion.  To frame it properly, I’m going to focus on the 20 Arab countries across North Africa (the Magreb), the Levant and Mesopotamia, and the Arabian Peninsula or Gulf States.  I will also touch on but not dwell on the related cuisines of Iran and Turkey, although each has a sophistication and complexity that requires its own treatment.  In passing, I will touch on Kurdestan and Armenia, although they no longer exist as geopolitical entities.  I will generally avoid Israeli food except for Palestinian food and the food of Yemeni and Moroccan Jews who came to Israel in the past 70 years or so.  But the rest of Israeli food that was imported from Eastern Europe will not be addressed.

 

And up front, if you like pork you won’t be satisfied at most Middle Eastern restaurants.  Islamic Halal and Jewish Kosher laws prohibit pork.  And if you want alcohol with your meal, you can also avoid Halal restaurants like Mount of Lebanon.  However, a very good alcohol enjoyed by the Christians of the Middle East is Arak – Raki in Turkey, Ouzo in Greece.  The best Arak available to us is the Lebanese Al-Massaya, an almost artisanal version available on the Web (and in my liquor cabinet).

 

Next, consider the geography and history of the region.  It sits at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe, and therefore has sent traders and conquering armies to all of those regions, and in return received traders and conquering armies from all of those regions.  As a result, refined cuisine like Lebanese reflects the influences of Byzantine raiders, Crusaders, Ottomans and French.  Similarly, the Turkish meat sandwich Doner is as prevalent in Germany as Bratwurst, and Couscous with a spicy sausage called Merguez was recently voted one of the most popular foods in France.

 

Any discussion has to begin with bread, the staple of the Middle East. The Arabs claim that they cannot taste other foods without bread and the bread types they have to choose from are numerous and varied. Arab bread comes in many textures, sizes, and shapes. Without question, the mother of all these Middle Eastern breads is pita — by far, the most popularly found in the Middle East. Called Khubz Arabee among the Arabs in that part of the world and once called flatbread or Syrian bread in the United States — until Syria became a country of dubious political behavior — it is now widely known as Pita Bread — a Greek name. Pita bread, like all types of Middle Eastern breads, is usually soft and pliable — perfect for the Arab way of eating. One of the greatest advantages of this type of bread is picking up meat, vegetables, and salads and as a scoop for sauces, dips, yogurt, and just about anything else. When the loaf is cut into two, the top and bottom of the loaf separate easily and the halves form pockets that can be filled with hot falafel, shawarma (barbecued meats), kafta (the Arab version of hamburgers), kebabs and/or salads to make delicious sandwiches.  There are other Middle Eastern breads as well – Yemeni bread, Bedouin bread (Chubab), Injera (more around the Horn of Africa) and Lavash.  The point is that you’ll have bread with every meal you order in a Middle Eastern restaurant and it will probably be fresh, warm and good.

 

For some regional distinction, consider that the northern African countries use Couscous, which is actually a pasta, as the most common carb.  In the Levant – Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and what would be Armenia and part of Iraq – the common carb is cracked wheat, or Bulgur.  In the Arabian peninsula and around the Gulf, rice is the carb of choice.  Of course, that rule is general and you’ll find plenty of rice dishes in the Levant and plenty of Bulgur dishes in Egypt and Tunisia.  However, the spices will be different depending on the region.

 

Which brings me to a dish like Mujaddarah (Arabic for “smallpox” because it looks like the effects of smallpox).  It is the rice and legume dish of the Levant, with plenty of fried onions on top.  In Syria and Lebanon, brown lentils with rice is the base of the dish.  In Jordan and Palestine, red lentils with Bulgur define the dish.  And the version you’ll find in Egypt is Koshary, the national dish.  Mujaddarah and Koshary, in all of their variations, also reveal another feature of Middle Eastern cuisine – you can eat quite well on the Vegan side of the menu.

 

Speaking of national dishes, they are widely varied, and often differ within localities in the same country.  My grandparents were Syrian immigrants, and my moniker reflects the national dish of Syria and Lebanon, Kibbeh.  Kibbeh Nayeh (colloquially pronounced Kibbee Nayee in northern Syria) is the raw and most delicious version, my death row meal.  Our best on-the-menu versions around the DC area are at Mount of Lebanon and Me Jana.  The best order-ahead version is available from Mediterranean Gourmet Market, although Layalina has been known to prepare a very good version as well.  [My son gave me a Christmas present of 2 lbs. of Kibbeh Nayeh from Mediterranean Gourmet Market, and it was gone in about an hour!]

 

Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan, made of lamb cooked in fermented and dried yogurt, served over flatbread, and topped with rice and pine nuts.  A variation is Mansaf made with fish in the southern part of Jordan around Aqaba.  The national dish of Saudi Arabia is Kabsa, which is a hodge-podge of rice, beef, chicken, vegetables, raisins and nuts – the Saudis eat more chicken per capita than just about any place in the world.  Maqluba is the national dish of Palestine, an upside down rice and eggplant casserole with lamb and lots of yogurt.  Machboos is the national dish of Kuwait, which is nicely flavored mutton, chicken, and/or fish (variations depend on whether you live near the gulf or inland towards the desert), over rice.  The Egyptian national dish is Koshary, a hearty carb-loaded dish of chick peas, lentils, rice, macaroni, tomato sauce and fried onion, followed closely by Ful Madames, which is fava beans in olive oil with parsley, garlic, onions and lemon juice.  Cairo Café in Lincolnia provides some of the better Egyptian dishes in our area.  Iraq’s national dish is Maskuf, which is an impaled trout dish.  Across northern Africa, the national dish is each country’s version of Couscous, although Tagine and Pidgeon Pastilla share the honor in Morocco.  Tagine is named for the conical clay braising pot that produces tender, juicy stews.  The Moroccan version of Coucous is “Fez style” with seven vegetables plus lamb shanks.  Tunisian Couscous is considered the best, cooked in a couscoussiere and consisting of a mound of Couscous covered in steamed onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, chili pepper, harissa, celery, cinnamon, black peppercorn, carrots, turnips and squash, then topped with meat such as mutton or chicken. But in the areas close to the Mediterranean, bass or red snapper is used.

 

And if you’re thinking about having 100 Bedouins over for dinner, the Arab version of turducken is a whole camel stuffed with four lambs and 20 chickens!  I’m not making that up!

 

Now I’ll focus in on the Middle Eastern foods and restaurants in our area and what to order when you step into one.  The sequence generally flows from Mezze to Mains to Sweets, with detours to sandwiches and pizzas or tarts along the way.

 

Mezze – You can either fill your table up with an assortment of these small plates – consider them the Tapas of the Middle East – or you can order a few as appetizers before the rest of the meal.  Remember, it all starts with Pita Bread, sometimes with olive oil and za’atar as a dipping sauce.  The vegan side of the menu is an incredible combination of flavor, satisfaction and good health.  Try Tabouleh (parsley salad), Hummus (chick pea and tahini dip), Baba Ghanouj (eggplant and tahini dip), stuffed grape leaves (the vegan version has rice and pine nuts or chick peas in them, and the meat version has a nicely flavored rice and meat stuffing), Labneh (strained yogurt with olive oil and garlic), Lubieh (green beans) bil Zeit and Bamieh (okra) bil Zeit (either one, stewed in garlic and tomatoes), Ful Madames (fava beans) and Fattoush (salad served over toasted Pita Bread).  The meat dishes include some amazing flavors and textures.  Try Hummus topped with Shawarma and Pine Nuts, Soujouk (spicy sausage), Ma’anek (mild beef and lamb sausage), Kibbeh (shaped like footballs, stuffed with meat and nuts and then fried, or if you’re lucky, raw Kibbeh Nayeh), and Warak Enab (grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat). Also, most places offer combination Mezze Platters, which are usually good deals. Don’t forget accompaniments like olives and pickled turnips, which are standard. The Lebanese serve a whipped paste of garlic with dishes like Kibbeh Nayeh. These are the highlights – pay attention to any daily specials, because they are likely to be good. And at places with their own butcher connections like Mount of Lebanon, try the Lamb Brains or the Lamb Testicles.  Trust me.

 

Mains – Here is where the dilemma lies.  I can easily order Mezze and be satisfied at just about any Middle Eastern restaurant.  Alternatively, I can go with a sandwich or a few meat pies.  But the main courses in Middle Eastern restaurants are rib-sticking comfort food with incredible flavors.  You can start with Shish (“skewer” in Turkish) Kebab (“meat” in Turkish), flavorful grilled meats – lamb, beef, chicken, or mixed – over rice pilaf.  You can argue all day long over whose Kebabs are best between the Arabs, Turks, Persians, Afghanis and Pakistanis, but they’re all good.  Kafta is the ground meat version, formed over the skewers and grilled the same way, considered the hamburger of the Middle East.  Lamb is probably the most common meat in the Middle East, so ordering it in any of a variety of ways – Lamb Shish Kebab, Lamb Chops, Lamb Shanks (braised), Lamb Shawarma (see sandwiches, below), Lamb Ouzi (rice and lamb platter), Lamb Stew, Lamb Feteh (lamb with yogurt sauce), and on and on.  Also, the Arabs are damned good at stuffing things (“mahshi” in Arabic and “dolmas” in Turkish), so when you see stuffed grape leaves, stuffed squash or stuffed cabbage/eggplant/peppers/onions, just order it and you will also be stuffed!  Stuffed Cabbage, or Malfouf Mahshi, was my father’s favorite.  The closest I’ve found to it in this area was at Kazan, the Turkish restaurant in McLean.

 

Sandwiches, Pies and Pizzas – Think about it, if Pita Bread is the staple of the Middle East, and if they’ve been making it for many millennia, you would think they have developed a few tricks to turn it into a meal, right?  Shawarma is by far the most popular (“Doner” in Turkish), similar to the Greek Gyro (but with different seasonings and bread).  It’s strips of lamb, skewered with seasonings and herbs in between layers, and then placed on a skewer to rotate upright against a heat source.  The best version I ever had in my life was in East Jerusalem about 20 years ago.  And then there’s anything you can stuff into a Pita, including Soujok, Ma’anek, Kafta and Falafel.  Yes, Falafel is Arabic street food, and probably originated in Egypt.  All of these Pita sandwiches include lots of veggies and usually a tahini or yogurt sauce, and are served wrapped in foil to keep the yummy juices in.  As for Pies, meat, spinach, yogurt and cheese, mixed with spices or vegetables, are variously baked inside small open-face pastries or closed dumplings.  If you see Sambousik, it’s a fried Lebanese lamb dumpling.  The Mediterranean Gourmet Market makes the best and most varied versions, as they do Lebanese Pizza – Lahmeh B’Ajeen (baked with beef, onions, tomatoes and herbs), Manakish bel Za’atar (my favorite pizza on the planet!), Spinach Manakish, Manakish bil Jibneh (various cheeses). 

 

Sweets – You probably didn’t know that Syria consumes more sugar per capita then any other country.  This part of the meal starts with Turkish coffee – the Ottomans ruled the Middle East for four centuries, until World War I – and almost always includes Baklava.  In this case, the Greek version is far inferior, too heavy-laden with honey.  The Syrian and Lebanese versions are washed in a simple syrup cut with cinnamon and rose water, and it is the perfect end to the feast. Kataifi is a shredded wheat version of Baklava, and Ma’amoul is a nice shortbread and almond cookie stuffed with dates, pistachios and/or walnuts.

 

And now, Kibbee Nayee’s first-ever ranking of Middle Eastern restaurants in the Washington DC Metropolitan area:

 

  1. Mediterranean Gourmet Market in Franconia – More of a mini grocery with a few tables, but George and Lilian turn out the best Lebanese dishes in the area. This is my go-to Lebanese restaurant.
  2. Me Jana – Climbing my list because of consistent quality. The food is good, but they reach for general patronage with Calamari, Chilean Sea Bass, and Crab Cakes, but they deserve special credit for Potato Kibbeh, a Lenten version of Kibbeh.
  3. Mount of Lebanon – No alcohol, but the best Kibbee Nayee at the best price in the DC area. Whenever I’m missing, you can probably find me here.
  4. Lebanese Taverna – The original on Washington Blvd. in Arlington is still turning out quality food, but the rest of the kitchens are lagging behind.  However, I had a few good meals at the Tysons Corner location in the past year.
  5. Mediterranean Bakery in Alexandria – A nice but over-priced grocery, with the area’s best Pita breads fresh out of the oven, and the best selection of olives anywhere in the DC area.  The food that comes out of the back is good, and the Za’atar Bread is first-class.
  6. Jerusalem Restaurant in Falls Church – Frustrating service, but pretty good food with somewhat of an emphasis on Palestine.
  7. Layalina – The only place that actually advertises that it serves Syrian food, with the area’s best selection of Hummus (Hummus bil Flay-Flay is a spicy version with Aleppo peppers, and it’s really good) and some of the best lamb shanks in the area.
  8. Cairo Café in Lincolnia – One of the only places where you can get real Koshary, so it has to be on the list by default.
  9. Shamshiry – I don’t want to ignore the Iranians here.  Their food is really good, but just a little bit different than some of the Arabic dishes.
  10. Zaytinya – Lower on the list because it lacks some authenticity and throws in Greek and Turkish to make it seem like “Middle Eastern fusion” cuisine, but let’s face it, this is a good restaurant.
  11. Mama Ayesha’s – This place has its ups and downs, but it’s been around for a long time and its daily specials are damned good.
  12. Cedar Café in Burke – Serviceable neighborhood Middle Eastern lunch counter.

Consider this a once-over, to be updated as the mood or new information strikes me.  Hopefully, the members of our community who shy away from Middle Eastern food because they don't understand it will now partake with some confidence.  May you have your meal with gladness and health! (bil-hanā' wa ash-shifā') بالهناء والشفاء / بالهنا والشفا

 


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#227546 Foodshed Magazine (was Flavor Magazine), Founder, Publisher, and Editor-In-Ch...

Posted by zoramargolis on 14 April 2013 - 02:26 PM

I'm very pleased to announce that as of a few days ago, I am now Contributing Editor at Foodshed Magazine. Lots of exciting changes have happened, now that the re-boot from Flavor is complete. Foodshed is now a non-profit benefit corporation and is expanding its reach and coverage to the entire Mid-Atlantic foodshed, up through and including New York City and environs. Check out Foodshed's mission statement, and consider subscribing.

 

(My picture and bio aren't yet up on the site, and I haven't gotten business cards or an email account yet--it'll feel more official when I have those, but I attended my first staff meeting yesterday and I have to say that I am really looking forward to collaborating with such an energetic, erudite and talented group of people.)


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#258112 Eat The Rich, 7th and T Street in Shaw - Chef Julien Shapiro Comes from Range

Posted by Poivrot Farci on 03 March 2014 - 06:13 PM

where was the shad from this early in the season?

 

These came from Tar river North Carolina.  I saw plenty of shad at Reading Terminal in late January, not sure where they came from.  Provençal culinary folklore makes charming, though disputed, claims that slow cooking the shad for 6-12 hours stuffed with sorrel  (oxalic acid) and in brandy melts the bird’s nest of 400+ tiny secondary bones (much like pickling softens herring bones) but the results were discouraging and left discomfort in the craw.  The “y” shaped pin bones are as remarkable a choking hazard as they are irritatingly baffling. 

 

One set of roe doesn’t have a practical yield so the sacks were opened up,  the eggs cured like caviar and used to baste the garnish.  The flesh was picked through and fish cakes were made; a somewhat common practice in Virginia 50+ years ago when canned shad roe was still available and the shad still plentiful.

 

The second shad was butterflied through the stomach and entirely deboned.  Deboning shad is an enterprise in another reality of fish butchering and the handful of old timers that still know how to do it cleanly and efficiently deserve a comfy repose somewhere between the Smithsonian’s American History and Folk Art Department. 

 

12915154555_8315c1200a_c.jpg

 

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It was stuffed with the roe and a forcemeat of shad trimmings, scallops and sorrel which, without contact to the air or too high of a poaching temperature stayed green after cooking.  It will be treated as a ballotine; seared in lard and served with cured pork belly and a sorrel sauce thickened with onions and rice.


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#256686 Rose's Luxury, Chef Aaron Silverman on 8th and G Street in Barracks Row

Posted by deangold on 18 February 2014 - 11:39 AM

I disagree with TSchaad.

 

There is another complication and that is their unwillingness to seat a group unless every member of the party is there.  Yes, I realize that a lot of restaurants do this but at Rose's there are people who stand in line before they open while waiting for a friend (s) to park a car and when the door opens they are not seated until the friend enters the restaurant.  There is no valet parking at Rose's and on street parking is very limited. On our last visit I spent almost a half hour before I found a place to park-four blocks away.  The real significance is that while waiting for another member to show up all of the tables are given away and despite getting there before they open you are still not seated..

 

So when we seat 1 of 4 people and the other 3 don't show up for 90 minutes and my waiter gets scrrewed out of a tip on a four top that COULD have turned.... what should I do??????  I had 5 no shows on Valentine's Day when I took credit cards.  Two parties of 6 last Saturday night at prime times.  Why is it my responsibility to take it in the shorts when some diners are. frankly, assholes?  

 

I get 2 to 6 no shows a night, every night.  I get partial seated parties that take an hour to complete on a more than several times a week basis.  Every Saturday night, we get cancellation calling in after 5, after 6, after their reservation times.  

 

Will this affect our reservation policy at the new place?  With 40% fewer dining tables, dang straight.  I wish it didn't., but it will have to.  

 

The sense of self entitlement these folks show is appalling.  And it screws not only my waiters, but the vast majority of folk who would never behave like that.  


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#226038 Little Serow, East Dupont Circle - Isaan and Lanna (Northern Thai) Cuisine by...

Posted by Fishinnards on 24 March 2013 - 06:10 PM

A couple of weeks ago I finally made it here. Now seems like a good time to share some thoughts.

 

 Little Serow is serving a seven-course tasting menu based on northern Thai cuisine,


The “seven course tasting menu” is a clever way to get (non-Thai) Americans to eat this type of food (in its proper context, i.e several dishes with varying textures and flavors, lots of (sticky) rice and mounds of raw and blanched vegetables).  I realize everybody is hung up on courses, as it is Johnny Monis (and it’s next door to Komi). It is not “based upon” Thai food but actually is Thai food. Our menu was a mix of Northern Thai (Lanna) as well as some Northeast Thai (Issan) with one central Thai dish as well.

 

The normal eating arrangement for Thai food (and Southeast Asian food in general) is to have a large number of dishes all at once at room temperature. It is important to have many things to nibble with large helpings of rice. I imagine Chef Monis’ concept for Little Serow probably occurred while eating and drinking in Thailand at a restaurant and having food delivered to the table one dish at a time. This happens because a typical traditional Thai kitchen has only one or two burners. Since food is eaten at room temperature there is no need to have every dish ready at once so it’s not a problem to cook one thing at a time. Each item is sent to the table as it is ready. At home, everything would be put out on the table and then everyone would sit down to eat. At a restaurant dishes would come out as they are ready. There is no need to finish each dish before the next arrives. In fact, dishes can be mixed together on the plate by the individual diner to create novel flavors and textures (this mixing is called klook in Thai).

 

The brilliance of the tasting menu conceit is that you are not overwhelmed with a table of unfamiliar food and you don’t have to choose dishes off a menu yourself, dishes with strange names and unhelpful descriptions. Because they arrive in sequence you try everything.  Thai people would spend a large amount of time debating which dishes to get and would use their understanding of the food to decide which dishes to order. Considerations would include taste, but also texture and heat levels. Many dishes go together and there are broad categories (i.e. You don’t want too many Yum (salads) dishes unless you are drinking a lot of alcohol, you need a dense fried dish to offset the soupiness of a curry, you must have a nam prik with vegetables, but which nam prik will depend on which other dishes are selected). Little Serow takes the guesswork out of selecting unfamiliar food and gives you a properly composed set of Thai dishes.


I really enjoyed my meal here. The servers are extremely knowledgeable about the food and can speak about it in depth. We enjoyed a bottle of Brasserie Dupont Cervesia a really nice Belgian Saison. I appreciated the variety of raw herbs and vegetables (they refilled our basket three times) and the nam prik (nam prik narok i.e. chilli sauce from hell). I have had hotter versions of this nam prik but this was hot enough to be enjoyable. In my dreams I wish I could go to a Thai restaurant here in the U.S. and get nam prik and raw vegetables. I think Thai restaurants learned long ago that nam prik is too strong and hot for the western palette and that Americans don’t eat vegetables, so they don’t even put this on the menu. Andy Ricker made the observation that when Thai people eat at Pok Pok they eat all the veggies and ask for more, while (non-Thai) Americans leave them on the plate and eat everything else. I like that at Little Serow people are eating their veggies (and nam prik!). They are an important part of the meal. In fact, veggies, rice and nam prik are all you need for a Thai meal. Everything else is extra. Also, the grilled fish is ground to a paste with everything else in nam prik narok. The dishes at Little Serow were normal size, not tiny “tastings”. Incidentally, in Thailand at a shared meal, soup is generally served in one big bowl for all diners to share, even Tom Yum and Tom Kha . The Thai concept of “soup” is different, as the word for soup and curry is the same (gaeng). Soup is just another thing to put on rice (or dip rice into, in the case of sticky rice). That being said, my two companions and I were served the Tom Kha Het (coconut milk galangal mushroom soup) in individual serving bowls, one for each of us. 

 

Other highlights were green mango salad with snakehead fish (pla chawn lom kwan or yum mamuang sai pla chawn), and “slop on a plate :D” Nam ngeow. Nam ngeow is usually served with kanom jeen (thin rice noodles). It includes cubes of pork blood (blood tofu!) and pork ribs, ground pork, cherry tomatoes, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and/or tua nuao (fermented soybean) lard or oil, with garnishes of bean sprouts, limes, chilli oil, and maybe mustard pickle. Here is a photo from photographer Austin Bush. 

 

 

The version at Little Serow was without the noodles and ribs and garnishes, but this does not mean it was inauthentic. This version was served to one of the chefs on their last visit to Northern Thailand, to be eaten with sticky rice as a curry. In this incarnation it is almost the same as Nam Prik Ong. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was full of rich porkyness.


Chef Monis’s take on neam khao tord was interesting. The salad itself had great flavor. Naem is a type of fermented ground pork (sausage). It is cured with cooked sticky rice, garlic and julienned cooked pork skin for about 4 or five days. It usually congeals into a solid mass. For this salad it is broken up by hand (it looks like this).

 

 

It is eaten raw (usually). Little Serow’s naem was cubed cooked pork without any pork skin. The texture was crumbly, not dense. The fried rice balls (khao tord) were intact, instead of the usual crushed up. They had a texture similar to tater tots (and thus were awesome).

 

I made this salad for the last Don Rockwell picnic. Maybe you remember.

 


 

I have also had Duangrat’s version (takeout at the back of the grocery), but not Bangkok Golden’s (yet). While this version was interesting, I like mine the best so far, but it’s a matter of personal preference. I can cook it the way I like it. I have high expectations for Chef Seng’s version.

 

The stir-fry was good (radish cakes and bean sprouts). The ribs were tasty and meaty. Overall the food was about a 4 or 5 on the Thai heat scale of 1-10, nothing too serious, but hot enough to be traditional. It was fun and strange to eat Thai food in a restaurant the way I eat at home and the way I learned to eat at the Thai temple. We consumed much sticky rice (one basket each). I found the rice a little tacky, perhaps because it was steamed a little too long or because it was too warm when put into the baskets. It stuck to my hand a little when picked up. I prefer it to stay intact for easier forming and dipping (sorry to nitpick). The beer went great with the food. I drink mostly Belgian ales with my Thai food at home, so it was also very familiar, but I have not had the Cervesia before and I really enjoyed it. I am a fan of Brasserie Dupont.  


I have to commend what they are doing here. I’m glad people are enjoying the food. Chef Monis deserves credit for bringing this type of food here and creating a context that allows people to eat it properly (by tricking them into thinking of courses and tastings). The cooking was at very high level. This food, however, is not chef invented, but traditional everyday fare passed down through generations of Thai women (and men). This is Thai grandma food. I am biased in that I love this type of food so much that I eat this way at home almost daily. I also enjoy cooking more than eating, so there may be something wrong with me. Also, the pork rinds were nice and crisp and airy. I might go back soon because northern style laap is back on the menu. You won't find that anywhere else AFAIK.


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#261689 Ted's Bulletin, Americana-Themed From the Owners of Matchbox - Barracks R...

Posted by LauraB on 05 April 2014 - 11:49 AM

I would like to acknowledge the class act that Ted’s Bulletin on 14th Street was this morning. My husband’s son is visiting from Germany and he took him to Ted’s for breakfast. Mark is a Green Beret who was seriously wounded a year ago in Afghanistan and still wears a sling and leg brace. Mark ordered 3 things off the menu: the breakfast burrito, 3 eggs and 2 pancakes. He asked that the eggs be put on top of the burrito. The server returned and said that the chef would like to know if it’s ok if he gets ‘creative’ with the dish. Sure. The chef himself delivered the finished dish to the table and struck up a lengthy conversation with Mark about the Wounded Warrior project. When the check came, it was for $0.00. My husband left a generous tip. Thank you so much to the chef and server (whose names I unfortunately do not know) – you are a credit to the Matchbox group and you really made a wounded veteran’s day today!
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#257278 Dino, Dean Gold and Kay Zimmerman's Italian Enoteca in Cleveland Park wit...

Posted by deangold on 24 February 2014 - 07:26 AM

It's been a fun ride.  Thanks to all who have supported us for the last 8 and a half years.  


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#252215 A Cautionary Tale: Sabering Champagne

Posted by deangold on 05 January 2014 - 09:00 AM

The tale of Jim's bravery and derring~do brought to mind.... 

 

Many a year ago, I worked for a Hollywood Hotel as Food and Beverage director.  The owner of the hotel was a wine nut and we organized a Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner with the theme of large format bottles.  We had over 600 in attendance and all the wine was served from 6 liter bottles or larger.  I even managed to find a hand painted Perrier Jouet Flower Bottle in 12 liter format.  The wine was made in smaller bottles and then transferred to the large one after disgorging.  It was incredibly rare and expensive {as I recall adding it to the menu added $25 to the price per person!}  My boss and I were talking about what we could do to improve the spectacle and one of us came up with the idea of sabering the bottle and the other said "Let's get a Marine to saber the bottle for us."  

 

A call to Camp Pendleton revealed that they had just such a gentleman: a 21 year career Master Sergeant who would come in dress whites with all his insignias and medals, which formed an impressively large display on his impressively large chest.  He had a impressively large saber at his side in a scabbard impressively well worn from use.  He assured me he never injured anyone with the saber and he would put the cork where I wanted it.  Given the newly plastered and painted walls of the foyer where the attempted murder sabering would occur, we decided to aim the bottle to the open arch of the foyer and land the cork on the balcony of our atrium lobby. 

 

We paced off the required footage from the balcony edge so the cork would fall to the floor to be stopped by the half wall and not fly into the atrium below.  Two of my staff, in white tuxes with white gloves held the bottle while I was the idiot holding the neck.  Our Master Sergeant stood across from me, silent, strong, in intense concentration.  He moved his hand to the saber and whispered to me "don't move" so only I could hear it.  Why wasn’t this part of the equation revealed to me before I couldn't run screaming in fear????

 

The sword made a whoosh as he drew it straight from the scabbard to the neck of the bottle to fully extended like a statue, in a flash.  It was amazing. But, in the brief instant of movement, he also whispered "Fuck!"  Not what you want to hear from your surgeon in a delicate operation or from a man with a large moving sword. 

 

The reason for his expletive became clear as the cork and the sheared off end of the neck of the bottle flew off explosively.  Did they goose up the CO2 of the wine because of the transfer?  Or did he just deliver that much force?  Or did I move?...

 

He later, after we calmed our nerves appropriately, said "No, my aim was off” as he had never sobered anything larger than a 3 liter before.  It must have been moving very nearly the speed of light as we saw it in excruciating slow motion.  And we were the only two in position to really witness the flight. 

 

The missile cleared under the entry arch of the foyer and was clearly not going to hit gently at the base of the balcony wall.  In fact, it was still rising as it flew over the wall like a Rick Monday line shot to the cheap seats at Dodger Stadium.  I wish Vin Scully could have narrated the mighty blast. 

 

We turned our heads and could see into the atrium as the cork finally arced down, right in the direction of a group of harmless old ladies, sitting facing away from their impending doom, waiting to go to some Hollywood tourist trap for dinner before their evening at the Wax Museum.   One of the ladies had a halo of frizzy white hair.  Not white exactly, but blue.  I said she was old!  This was in the days before blue hair would indicate youth and not great age and bad judgment in hair care products. 

 

We shared the knowledge telepathically that we were about to kill her.  The cork was moving fairly fast and coming down from a great height.  The cork entered the frizz of hair.  We could see the parting of the blue sea as if Moses himself guided the path.  And then, in a second Mosaic level miracle, or was it third including his original trivial parting of the blue waters, it exited out the front, never touching the dear old thing.  Time returned to its normal speed.  Her only knowledge of the incident resulted in her brushing her hair wondering if a breeze or insect had disturbed it.    We later told the scared old lady that something fell off the ceiling of our brand spanking newly renovated hotel lobby. 

 

The cork hit a tile on the floor in front of her, cracking it with a loud retort.  Or it might have hit the far wall and then the floor, as there was a suspicious mark on the stucco plaster.  We never figured it out. The new floor tile, Catalina Pottery hand painted and glazed, cost $300 to replace.   As MasterCard so rightly says…. “The tile, $300, the old lady still alive, priceless!” 

 

{Please remember BEFORE CLICKING on this link: it is provided by me and is not only of dubious taste and little propriety, but it is, of course, NSFW} 

 

Or MasterCard  said something like that

 

The Master Sergeant turned to me when we realized that our fears had been avoided by a true hair's breath.  He said "21 years almost down the fucking drain"  I handed off the bottle to my assistant and he supervised the pouring of the champagne.  The Master Sergeant and I went to the lobby to check on the old lady, recovering from her fright at the cracking of a tile in front of her and wonderfully and blissfully ignorant of the real explanaition.  I can't honestly tell you how I did it.  

 

I am sure there are rules about Bourbon consumption in dress uniform while on duty, and I don't know if he was on duty or this was on his own time.  But we went to the lobby bar and hid in the storage closet behind it and both has stiff shots to calm our nerves.  I spoke to the old lady and rushed back to pour the 6 liter burgundies I had amassed.  


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#232913 The Language Rant Thread

Posted by KMango on 04 July 2013 - 06:25 PM

An Unsolicited Message to New Members, First-Time Posters, and/or Emerging Food Writers-

 

The "Restaurant Language Best Avoided" thread may haunt you.  This thread may shame you.  This thread may turn your face heirloom beet red.

 

Don’t let it.

 

The postings are mere observations, reflections, and commiserations from veteran posters getting our vent on.

 

You probably saw yourself in this thread.  I know I saw myself all over this thread.  The ego hit was, shall we say, toothsome goodness. 

 

Taking all these pet peeves to heart could make you a better writer.  Or it could make you never post again, paralyzed with insecurity over the possibility of making someone you’ve never met wince at a phrase they find lacking.  Especially if you already have doubts about the depth of your culinary knowledge, experience, or writing, a thread like this could shut you down. 

 

So Remember:  This board is about food and personal expression, sharing a common love of culinary experiences.  If your phrase is not perfect, if your worthsmithing muse is not showing up, post anyway.  Get your content out there.  It’s far more important that you keep contributing to the conversation than worry about a slight frown from some anonymous, perceived scrutinizer.

 

Post On.


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#232222 To Whom Are You Drinking Right Now?

Posted by Barbara on 26 June 2013 - 11:18 AM

To Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who showed us what a filibuster should look like.


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#228291 Honoring Luther Burrell

Posted by Antonio Burrell on 26 April 2013 - 12:09 PM

Many times we sit down and reflect on people, places or moments that have made us who we are. The substance of our beings come from these people or places, we embody their ideas, their essence permeates us in one way or another. In the best of us, we are able to see something worth knowing. We are drawn to good people because of what they encompass, we want to have that sense of calm or that unerring ability to do the right thing. In some cases, in the best cases I would say, we are drawn together by love. We spend so much time rushing from place to place, from item to item that we forget that love might be the best quality of all. To find motivation in love, to find a sense of purpose in all this darkness, to find peace is what we all search for. I always saw peace in my Grandaddy's eyes. A knowledge and a serenity gained through seeing the worst in the world and the best. 


Today I tip my hat and make a toast to my Grandfather, Luther Burrell. In all I do, may I pass on a glimpse of what I saw in you. I love you Granddaddy.


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#225147 Suna, Eastern Market - Chef Johnny Spero comes from Komi and Town House - Closed

Posted by johnnyspero on 11 March 2013 - 01:37 PM

I want to thank everyone for the support they have shown over the past several months. Its unfortunate that Suna is no more, there are a lot of reasons why the decision was made to close, and in the near future once the dust settles Id be more then happy to share. I couldnt be happier with the food and the experience we created at the restaurant. Seeing the space grow from start to finish and being so invloved in every aspect of its development is something that I am so grateful for. As of right now I have no concrete plans, this was a decision not made lightly so just letting it all settle in before I jump into another project. But whatever that next step may be, Im happy to know that Ill have everyone on DonRocks behind me.
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#248527 Rogue 24, Blagden Alley in Mount Vernon Square - 2007 James Beard Winner RJ C...

Posted by JoshNE on 26 November 2013 - 07:07 PM

What a dispiriting thread this has turned into.  I "liked" mdt's initial post, because I felt like he took the time to describe his experience of the meal.  Was every course dissected? No, but enough description was given to understand his opinion and experience.  Yes, there was a "meh" here, and a generic statement of opinion there, but all in all, I thought the quality of the post was on par with most of what else is written around these parts.

 

The level of vitriol being thrown his way due to this one post is ridiculous.  Mr. Cooper, I appreciate the desire to have substantive critiques in order to improve, but really, if that's what you're looking for, the attitude you have displayed in this exchange is not the way to accomplish it.  I imagine that had you prodded the poster with probing questions about specific aspects of his review that bothered you, (perhaps via a private message) you may have gotten the answers you wanted.


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#224773 Baking

Posted by zoramargolis on 06 March 2013 - 04:31 PM

     It started yesterday, with two blackened, ripe bananas that were beyond slicing onto cereal. I was going to pitch them in the trash. J said: "I like banana bread. I don't get nearly enough of it." Today, the snow storm's a bust. We're unlikely to lose our power, which would knock out the oven. So, I checked a few cookbooks for banana bread recipes, settling on the one in Cook's Illustrated's baking book, which doesn't require creaming butter and sugar, thus no need for hauling out the Kitchenaid.

     I was cleaning up the kitchen, clearing the decks for the baking project, when J announced that he wanted to help, a very rare offer. (He was supposed to go to work today, but his office follows the federal government weather guidelines, and so he was at home.) Ordinarily, he avoids the kitchen, and hot dogs, Bubba burgers and scrambled eggs are pretty much the only things he ever cooks for himself. A couple of times a year, he makes baked beans from a Cook's Illustrated recipe, which provides strict instructions and amounts, down to 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and comes out perfectly, albeit a bit sweet for my taste. Late last year, he announced that he wanted to try to cook a few more things, so I bought him a Cook's Illustrated cookbook, and found the CI baking book at a rummage sale. He'd looked at them, but hadn't yet taken the plunge.

     My using "his" recipe book to make the banana bread was probably what propelled him away from his laptop and into the kitchen to help. Those of you who know me, know that I am an experienced cook, and can assume that I know my way around the kitchen. But on the rare occasions when he wants to help me, J, who doesn't know anything about cooking if he isn't slavishly following a simple recipe, feels compelled to advise me about how I should do things, warns me urgently about things he believes are about to go wrong, and generally resists any instruction from me, and often argues with me when I try to tell or show him how to do something differently than he wants to do it. This is not the ideal sort of help one wants, to put it mildly. But we plunged ahead.

     First, a few ground rules: "Please don't argue with me." HA! Like that would work. "Don't expect me to slavishly follow the recipe, I may want to add some flavors that they don't call for." A grudging okay to that, as long as it wasn't citrus. Which was a good thing, because the recipe called for three large bananas (1 1/2 cups) and we had only two medium ones (3/4 cup). We could cut down the recipe, or substitute canned pumpkin puree or bake a sweet potato to replace the missing volume of banana. Pumpkin, he decides. And the recipe called for walnuts, which I can't eat due to an allergy. I suggested almonds or hazelnuts. He wanted pecans. Okay, pecans. After that things went fairly smoothly. I wanted him to sift the flour, salt and baking soda together with cardamom and nutmeg, which were my additions. He resisted, because the recipe said only to whisk them together. We had a bit of a tussle about my replacing part of the sugar with Sucanat (raw sugar). He argued with me about pureeing the eggs, bananas, pumpkin, melted butter and yogurt in the blender, because the recipe said to stir them together. He went out of the room for a minute and I added a few drops of tangerine oil, despite his ban on citrus. Finally, it went into the oven.

      We had some with coffee a little while ago. I thought it was just right, not too sweet. He thought it could have been a bit sweeter. In hindsight, I should have bumped up the sugar because I'd used canned pumpkin for half the volume of the banana pulp that was supposed to be there. But then I would have found it too sweet.

      Snapshot portrait of a very long-term relationship.


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#261133 Pork Belly

Posted by Poivrot Farci on 31 March 2014 - 01:40 AM

Those excessively fatty cuts from heirloom lard pigs are gas lamp novelties in the fiber optic age.  Most heritage breeds have disappeared during modernization, for good reason,  because we have refrigeration (don’t need to pack food in lard), non-stick pans (don’t’ need to fry in lard) and readily available cheap calories (don’t need to supplement food with lard).

 

A fat pig is much different than a marbled pig.  The best marbled hogs (8+ on a scale of 1-10) often get exported to Japan.  All the other unmentionable bits go to china.

 

I was delivered an Old Spot Gloucester a few years back from a farmer who was very excited about breeding what he billed as an all but forgotten heritage breed.  He was less enthusiastic when I told him that I wasn’t in the business of making soap and that if his pig were an orange it would be 65-70% pith. I consulted with 2 PhD directors of animal science at U of Iowa pork study and they thought the following picture was photoshoped.  Duroc and Berkshire are the most studied of the mainstream hogs but there are quite a few “Berkshire” on menus in DC that are actually white Yorkshires grown indoors in PA and have never seen the light of day other than the trip to slaughter.  Top quality (marbling and color) pure bred (100%) Berkshires are very expensive and quite rare.  The best I've seen (Craig Hagaman, High View Farm; Berryville VA) cost $5/lb ($1000 for the whole creature) and was absolutely flawless.

 

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#258105 Thai Noodles 101

Posted by Fishinnards on 03 March 2014 - 05:47 PM

Snow Day! Between bouts of snow shoveling I decided to make Lad Na (Rad Na) ก๋วยเตี๋ยวราดหน้า. This is the Thai version of a Chinese dish and has many ingredients and techniques not common to other Thai dishes. There are many ways to cook Rad Na. I hadn't made it in a while but watched this Thai TV show on Rad Na and got a bit of inspiration. A good recipe (with a video in English!) can be found at Hot Thai Kitchen. I took many photos as I cooked and now I will share them with you!

Today we used chicken ไก่

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Skinned, de-boned and sliced

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Chicken is marinaded in a bit of dark sesame oil, Chinese rice wine, white pepper, soy sauce, and tapioca starch (you could use corn starch). 

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The marinade will give the meat a slippery coating resulting in nice tender bite.

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Lots of garlic

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well chopped

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Fried in peanut oil. When using a smaller amount of oil I like to add the garlic to cold oil and gradually heat it. It gives more control over the browning.

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We are going for crispy fried garlic

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We want it to brown

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And then drain and save that garlic oil

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Chinese broccoli (pak ka na ผักคะน้า) stems sliced and leaves roughly chopped

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We have some local fresh rice noodles

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Sliced and separated (see Pad See Ew above)

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Homemade Chinese chicken stock

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We will fry the noodles in garlic oil with some dark soy sauce for color.

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We want the noodles to clump and char a little

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Fried noodles and set aside with the remaining ingredients at the ready, chicken stock, tapioca starch slurry, marinaded chicken slices, white pepper, Chinese broccoli, soy sauce, golden mountain sauce, palm sugar (regular sugar would be fine in this dish), and fried garlic

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And Tao Jiew เต้าเจี้ยว, fermented soy bean paste, Chinese miso or doen jang

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Boil the stock and add fermented soy bean paste, soy sauce, golden mountain sauce, a bit of palm sugar, and white pepper

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Add the chicken

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Boil till the chicken is tender

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Add the greens and most of the fried garlic

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Taste and adjust and then thicken with the tapioca starch slurry

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pour over the fried noodles

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sprinkle the remaining fried garlic on top

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Serve with chillies in vinegar (a must!) and dried chilli flakes

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Yum อร่อยมาก

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#256882 Rose's Luxury, Chef Aaron Silverman on 8th and G Street in Barracks Row

Posted by ad.mich on 19 February 2014 - 03:30 PM

From Kilman's most recent chat:

 

Reservations also give a restaurant an idea of what to expect that night. Making we wait for 1 to 3 hours for a table is not taking care of me since I know a Benjamin will resolve this issue within 20 minutes or less. My bro was out with clients and the clients wanted to hit Rose's. They went and my bro paid the toll to move to the head of the line. Lets see how long the buzz last for Rose's when they are no longer the talk of twitter and folks arent willing to wait any longer for a seat. This happens all the time.

 

(takes a deep breath...)

 

Apologies to the people who don't live in the area, or have kids/jobs/dogs/lives that will make it tough for them to get to RL, but asshats like this are exactly why I'm more than happy RL, Toki, Serow, etc. don't take reservations.  Sorry, maybe I'm naive, but I would say there is absolutely zero chance this guy's 'bro' actually tried this or was successful.  He probably tried to front like he did to his buddy the next day when he was in a huff about having to wait like some commoner, but no. And if he did?  Then I hope it's because the hostess knew there were seats at the bar, took their money, and walked their dumb asses there.  

 

That being said, this is a perfect encapsulation of the mindset of the people most up in arms about no reservations in this town.  A very special bullshit gumbo of equal parts entitlement, arrogance, and a demand to be VIP sight unseen ("take care of *ME* I am an important special lobbyist snowflake with *CLIENTS* who told me an hour ago they'd like to come here").  Basically you want all of the credit of going to a place with some shine without actually having to put in the effort it takes to make it happen.  There are plenty of buzzy places taking reservations.  Plenty.  But even those tend to have some kind of limit/catch to them (like Estadio's model).  It's no one's birthright to get to eat somewhere.  I think I love the predictions of doom and gloom most of all though.  I bet they agree 100% up at Two Amy's.    

 

You should probably just take your clients to Milano next time, Bro.  It's not the restaurant you want, but it's absolutely the restaurant you deserve.


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