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Sad news, but not all together surprising: Garrison Will Close Saturday.
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To my mother who passed away a little more than a month ago at an age of slightly more than 101 and 1/2.   
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Brunched here, and I found most everything to be mediocre.  I had some italian sausages, grilled with peppers but still fairly dry, and served on a plain bun (no butter, mustard, anything).  The pastas I tasted from other people's plates were fine and very standard.  My son ordered eggs, bacon, and potatoes - it was a huge plate, but a bit sterile.  I felt we were visiting a Bob Evans or other chain-type restaurant, not a local chef-driven spot.  

What's the local wisdom for brunch nowadays?  I am used to many (neighborhood) places still putting out really nice plates for brunch, does the A Team here just work evenings?  I could have gone to Al Volo in Union Market at the same time and paid less for much more depth of flavor.  
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Went here last night with the kids - great atmosphere, a world away from Max's. Loved the ambiance. The food was also very good - salads, pita, hummus and kebabs. I thought the lamb was much better than the beef, unfortunately they were out of the sweetbreads. Portions of the kebabs were a little small for the price, but overall I left very happy. It is very busy though, so come early and be prepared to wait.
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I remember meeting the Bhasins at a picnic and having a delightful conversation. I hope the non-restaurant issues are resolved and things turn around.
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Spent a couple of days in Richmond between Christmas and New Year's. A late lunch at Edo's Squid was tremendous. I love the laid back vibe, and the place was nearly empty at 1:30 on a weekday afternoon. I started with the broccolini with garlic and red pepper. It was drowning in olive oil but remained crisp and spicy. For a main, I ordered the spaghetti with clams. This was also covered in olive oil and contained an absurd (but absurdly delicious) amount of garlic. I couldn't finish it but came close. On our way out, three servers were gathered around a table hand peeling hundreds of cloves of garlic which went into a giant basket. I wish we had a place like this in DC.

On our way out of town, we finally went to ZZQ. I wondered if this would live up to the hype, but they managed to surpass it. Their brisket is second only to Franklin's in terms of the best I've ever had. It has a perfect amount of smoke. The turkey was extremely juicy, and I also loved their house made sausages. We tried the hot guts sausage, and a queso fuego which was their daily special. Both were loosely packed but with a good amount of fat. This is a special place, and I suspect it will get even more attention and acclaim over the next couple of years. If you're near Richmond, you owe yourself a chance to try it. (Sorry, the picture is a little bigger than I intended.)

 
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The Penn Quarter location closed (Washington City Paper).
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I will never use a plastic bottle of water or a straw again. —It’s at least a start and so simple
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Wandering down the aggressively hipster/crunchy Lower Main Road, the main stretch of Obs (Observatory), to the east of central Cape Town, we were starting to get nervous.  It was dinner time, the boys were exhausted, and yet every restaurant seemed closed.  Many until January 7 -- or just three days before we leave to explore the western and eastern Cape (d'oh.)  But lo and behold, just north of the KFC and McDo, there was the inappropriately named Timbuktu, an Ethiopian restaurant I had scoped out but had given up finding.  It's not at all obviously marked, like most of the other restaurants in this part of town.  Ironic that we picked Ethiopian for our first meal (as a family -- i've been here once for work) in SAfrica, and yet had (decent, but not amazing) Ethiopian at the Ramada in Addis Ababa on New Year's Eve, less than 20 hours earlier.

But this was better.  Dare I say it, probably the best Ethiopian I have ever had outside of the greater DC area.

We went all-in and got the "serengaya," the "everything on the menu except lamb" platter built for four.  Our eldest son was the trail blazer, trying everything on the plate and providing commentary for his little brothers ("yummy!", "a little spicy...", "try this! try this!")  Marisa and I dug in, though she worked a moat around the beautiful berbere spiked kitfo, leaving it all for me.  I take that back -- the eldest had that one too, but mixed with the stewed beets.  "The meat and the beets get in a fight in your mouth," he said, "and the spicy from the meat loses to the sweet from the beets, but then it comes back, but then it loses again, in that kind of pattern."  Couldn't have said it better myself.  The stewed collards were fantastic, in my opinion better than anything in DC because the vinegar/acid was upped by a bit.

The two younger ones (three and two) were more hesitant, but eventually both found dishes they liked, leaning towards the softer doro wot and all of the lentils.  The beef tibs was probably the loser (out of a platter of at least 12 different preparations!), because the pieces were cut a little too big.  The berbere was smoky and hot, some of the best I have had.

I haven't had Ethiopian in the States (DC or Seattle) in over two years.  My last two times were at the aforementioned Ramada, and at the Addis Ababa airport last summer (protip: don't do it.)  So maybe I don't remember exactly how good Zenebech at its heyday was.  All I know is that our family of five walked home happy, the youngest with a layer of doro wat sauce on his sleeve, the eldest saying "maybe [he doesn't] like Ethiopian, but maybe [he] loves it."  $45, including four freshly pressed lemonades and a sparkling water.
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Thanks to all for the recommendations.  I ended up doing a pre-game brunch at Rye Street Tavern, with a taste of the AC's Famous Fried Chicken (Classic Southern Style) and a Dockside Royale cocktail. Winner-winner chicken dinner?  Well, yes!  I don't make a habit of eating fried chicken, but if I did this would be my go-to place.  Note that the all-you-can eat chicken applies only to Sunday dinner.  It is suggested to call ahead because sometimes they run out of birds. The property is beautiful inside and outside - transporting.

Post-game meal went to Hersh's for a Miles Davis pizza pie with a side of Malfadine duck bolognese and a spot-on Boulevardier.  Everything was excellent and the cost was very reasonable.  Hersch's is a great neighborhood place - sadly not my neighborhood.  The on the corner ambiance was not in a silent way, but young, loud and boisterous. The polar opposite of the tranquil brunch at Rye Street. 

And the Ravens defeated the Browns in a must-win game to get in the playoffs for the first time since 2014.  All-in-all a perfect Baltimore day.
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Finally made it for "brunch" yesterday. The way to think about this is not as a very pricey brunch (albeit way cheaper than hotel brunches and the likes of Fiola Mare), but as an early, bargain Sunday supper.  A couple of the items are vaguely reminiscent of brunch food (e.g., the ricotta "pancake" pictured above), but in truth it's simply three excellent, delicious Jon Sybert dishes for less than you'd pay at dinner!  (I had the pork belly and tagliatelle, both fantastic, and a nice semolina custard.)

It's also really nice to be at TuG during the day, in the light--quiet, peaceful, and, as always, as welcoming as any place in DC this side of 2 Amys.

Disclosure:  My son works there occasionally.
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I have to give BRABO high marks for the meal we enjoyed with out of town guests this past week. 

The dining room was about half-full on a Thursday evening. The staff was gracious throughout. We were seated at a circular 6-top, and conversation was easy.

The appetizers that landed on the table were the grilled octopus, fois gras terrine, and the French radish dish. Not a flaw anywhere, and that radish dish blew me away.

My main was the perfect steak frites with the 8oz bravette, and Lady KN selected the sea bass. We emptied our plates, and we weren't all that hungry. 

We accompanied the meal with 4 bottles of their featured wines at about $54 a bottle, so the final bill of $630 all-in with tax and tip seemed like a bargain for 6 of us. That was a damn satisfying meal in a pleasant setting with a great deal of ambiance and comfort. And the food was really very good, perhaps some of the best food in Old Town.
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Saw this news on PoPville - Makoto is closing today.  

Their Facebook post from Dec. 10:
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FWIW, the version at Masterpiece in Duluth, GA (“eggplant with chili powder and pepper ash powder”) is superb.  Then again, chef LIU Rui (two-time JBF semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast) was a master chef in his own right, before immigrating to the US and working for Chang at Tasty China.
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Hey, do you know who did the costume design for Black Swan...Rodarte!

The Black Swan pieces are currently on display at NMWA's Rodarte exhibition. 
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Available/offered to eat for the past two nights: manicotti, sausages, assorted cut fruit, roasted asparagus, and sauteed eggplant and peppers. The Big has eaten sausages with white rice dug out from the fridge and the Little has only eaten sausages. Before that we had some lovely homemade chicken tenders that both enthusiastically scarfed for dinner and then refused completely the next day. By the way, while both kids enjoyed the Costco dumplings mightily while we were in the store, they won't touch them at home. I'm somewhat flattered that my homemade dumplings are acceptable and also kind of furious.

Lee, the Big kid just turned 4 and the Little kid is just 1.5, so I don't really expect too much out of either of them (though I dearly miss when #1 would eat anything we gave him, but that has been done for over a year and his formerly wide palate is re-emerging only incrementally). Giving the Big the choice to earn his treats has been less effective during these holidays, as treats are here and there and everywhere and we have been quite indulgent, but has been moderately successful in getting him to revisit the least challenging fruits and vegetables (mostly apples, bananas, pears, and cucumbers). One upside of our method seems to be that he likes treats, but doesn't feel any desperation towards them, as minimum treat attainment is entirely within his control. We're still working on his Halloween candy, which he is happy to share.  This is so different from my own childhood, in which sugary treats were generally banned, and I had already begun filching/hoarding sweets by age 4. While I'm sure a lot of it has to do with our kid's personality, it is a much preferable state of affairs.  As for the Little, we just feed him whatever he will take and try to remove the refused food before it flies through the air.
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Insider tip: The WS will have plenty of merchandise on clearance, if you're in need or want of such things. (Not just from that store...)
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Businesses Continue to Leave Reston Town Center by Catherine Douglas Moran, RestonNow

Businesses are closing twice as fast as they are opening in RTC. Several small businesses and restaurants that have been in the area for decades have pointed to dwindling numbers of customers due to paid parking as the main reason behind their closures.
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Made this gingerbread bundt from King Arthur Flour. I added some candied ginger to the batter but other than that, followed all the instructions. Really liked the way it turned out, will be making this recipe again (with the added chopped candied ginger).
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Sure, this story on the Bar Keeper's Friend website is a promotional entry, but it is still hilarious/awesome and that is the same pan I just bought, looking so very shiny and new after a good scrub! So...I think I'll be getting some. Well played.
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After a long drive home on Boxing Day (3 hours from Richmond to DC...ugh) I went to 2 Amy's for dinner.  The place was slammed, the entire back bar area filled with people waiting on tables.  Yet few people were actually eating at the bar, I was able to snag a seat at the end. Miguel and Tammy took good care of me.

Highlights included:

Sicilian Anchovies with bread and butter - A must order

Roasted Eggplant with cherry tomatoes, almonds, smoked paprika, and sheep's milk ricotta - This was a log of roasted eggplant sitting in a pool of cherry tomato sauce and a wedge of the always excellent ricotta (apparently sourced from Sardinia)

Butternut Squash and farro salad with vincotto and tardivo radicchio - a great winter salad, the vincotto adding complexity to farro and squash.

Photo:  eggplant and ricotta
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In case you were wondering:  still here!  And still eating out regularly.  I have come to the sad conclusion that Beninese food is not up there in terms of my world favorites, with  a few exceptions.  Palm oil tastes unpleasant.  The bitterness of local leaves is featured rather than diminished, as is the "goopiness" of okra.  And I find the king of local food,  igname pilé, aka fu fu, basically awful.  I am an adventurous eater, but Benin has been challenging.

OK, caveat time.  Southern Beninese food is challenging.  Mid-Beninese food too.  But when you get to the Sahelian north -- voila! The flavors change.  Perhaps my favorite place in northern Benin is Le Secret de la Vieille Marmite, in Parakou, a confoundingly organized quasi-buffet style, quasi-fast food style spot.  You go to the buffet and point at what you would like, which the staff dishes up onto a plate.  They hand you a ticket with a price calculated seemingly out of thin air.  You pay, sit, and they deliver the plate to your table, and a few seconds later yet another staff member comes to get your drink order, which you pay for separately.  Why so many steps?  Why can't I carry my plate to the table myself?  Why can't I pay for my drink and food together?  These and myriad other questions disappear once you tuck in to your repas.

On a week-long trip up north, I ate at La Marmite four times, each time enjoying something different:  tender brochettes of mutton with red rice, fried wedges of local cheese with couscous and vegetable sauce, spiced chicken with amiwo, and a grab-bag plate of various items with a vegetable-accented rice dish.  I had liberal servings of piment each time, and each preparation of that ubiquitous hot sauce tasted slightly different.  Each meal cost about 2500-3000 FCFA ($5-6 dollars), beer included, and service was fast fast fast.

Parakou is my least favorite town in northern Benin, a sprawling carrefour with limited local culture, mostly used as a jump-off point for other, more colorful places.  But as a trading post, it has OK hotels and decent places to eat.  If you find yourself there, La Marmite isn't a bad option for eating at all.
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To restate, I'm not a lawyer, and haven't yet played one on TV, and I hope that GT prevails.

I do have experience reading legal briefs specifically as they pertain to alcohol laws. Have followed the direct shipping cases, and had my own case 20 years ago. 

I've just read the two briefs in this case, and am left with an uneasy feeling. I thought the state's defense was better and more robust than the Pacific Legal Foundation's attack. These cases can seem straightforward if you look at them from only one perspective. Look from both and they're more complicated.

Although they are different issues, I have a feeling just from reading the briefs, that Trone at SCOTUS, is on firmer legal ground, than GT in Va. I think the GT case could go either way, I'll be surprised if Trone loses.
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The centerpiece of Christmas Eve this year was a chestnut bisque (from this Geoffrey Zakarian recipe). It came out extremely well, but I really should have bought frozen chestnuts, as the recipe indicates, rather than roasting and peeling my own. That was a lot of extra time and frustration I didn't need. The addition of the pumpkin pie spice in this is essential. I even bought a new jar of it, and it paid off.  This was really good. I also picked up a new and decent quality bottle of sherry for the recipe.

The rest of the meal was an herb and garlic baked Camembert from Smitten Kitchen Every Day; crudites; an assortment of breads and crackers (sourdough baguette, pumpernickel, whole wheat pita, Carr's rosemary crackers, and Triscuits); cold cuts (Virginia baked ham, mortadella, and Genoa salami); regular and spicy Cava hummus; various olives, pickles, and mustards. It was way too much food, but it was fun to graze and everything left can be used in future meals.

Christmas lunch was more of the bisque, plus grilled cheese (leftover Camembert plus Parmesan, pear, and leftover ham.)

Christmas dinner was a simple and delicious celery and Marcona almond salad I've made before (from Fine Cooking) to start. For the main course I made a sous vide boneless leg of lamb (rubbed with Maille whole grain mustard, black and red pepper, and olive oil, stuffed with thyme, rosemary, and nicoise olives).  Steamed green beans with evoo and toasted pine nuts and sage scalloped potatoes rounded out the meal. That makes two dishes over the holiday I added to the menu after seeing Food Network's "The Kitchen" on what seemed like endless repeat.  The potatoes were incredible but super rich. I will not be making them again for another year, because OMG...2 cups of heavy cream. They were GOOD. The sage and garlic infused cream made the flavor amazing, plus the salt and cayenne between the layers added a spark I don't usually associate with scalloped potatoes, and the heat cut through the richness. The only downside (other than our cholesterol levels) is that the 1 lb. amount given for potatoes in the recipe is too low. I used two medium potatoes (1 1/4 lbs.) sliced thin and couldn't even get three full layers. I should have added the third potato I had. This is the first time I can recall not parboiling potatoes for this kind of dish and having them cook through perfectly.

Both nights I planned to make ice cream sandwiches with the homemade toll house cookies I made (my only holiday baking this year) but they went by the wayside since we had plenty of food already. Maybe this weekend.
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Oh Don. This is not a great article. Plenty of others have torn into it but I can't let this just fester at the bottom of the Chicago page like the fart it is.
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