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KeithA

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  1. I've been eating at the two different Bandit Taco locations for a few years. Both have good fresh food with lots of options. They serve their tacos Mexican style topped with diced radish and scallions and do a small double corn tortilla for most. A few vary like the baja fish that has shredded cabbage and flour tortillas. They have a long list of protein/veggies to add to tacos, burritos, rice bowls, plus now quesadilla and some tortas plus a bunch of options for sides. I've mostly had the tacos. Today we had 5 different types of tacos and chips and salsa: 1. Adobo chicken which is chopped grilled chicken was a winner 2. Barbacoa was very tender and flavorful 3. Baja Fish were ok - the fried fish strip was pretty tiny and not a big flavor booster 4. Chicken Tinga - tender but bland. Better with some salsa added 5. Mushrooms (with some corn mixed in) - really bland, didn't seem like they seasoned the mushrooms at all and definitely not braised in anything flavorful. I would skip this one next time. Chips were fresh and good and rather salty (which is good/bad depending on your preference). They came with a good size amount of very fresh pico de gallo. They were even better with the complimentary salsas they give you with the tacos. 1 is a green tomatillo with mild spice and bit chunky - good flavor. 2 is a roasted tomato medium spice which I was really feelin' today. It was great with the chips and good too added to the chicken tinga. Not worth a special trip but definitely good eats if you are nearby either location.
  2. Try this recipe instead for Persian Rice. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/jeweled-rice-with-dried-fruit-230991 The spiced butter tahdig and lots of dried fruit make it very flavorful. I usually make this early and then let it sits for a few hours before I flip it for a perfect tahdig, but they have a method for quick release. Of course getting the tahdig perfect matters less with all of the jewels of dried fruit inside too. You can also add whatever spices you like to the butter for more/less or different flavors. It is very customizable - I do love cardamon though and so usually use that per the recipe.
  3. I agree. Often in mornings or weekends there is a bit of a wait, but it is solely to their one person storefront. The pastries I've had are mostly very good -especially the filled croissants. The cinnamon rolls have been less impressive. They also regularly switch up their baked goods. I recently saw brownie cookies and tried one of their tahini sesame cookies (an interesting swirl of black and white tahini for a buttery, sesame soft treat).
  4. Grabbed lunch there today. Enjoyed the Rancheros Cucamunga bowl with fried egg (now more over easy - I wonder if last time I neglected to burst the yolk till too late and it hardened, this time I took a bite right away and it ran nicely), mashed black beans, avocado, lime crema, lime wedge, and slightly spicy ranchero sauce on top of a bed of fresh coin-shaped tater tots. I also got a side of tots to go. Went with standard salted for others who like it simple but I was originally inclined to get the garlic parmesan truffle or one of the other creative options. 2 small gripes though - they still have a bit of food truck mentality even though they are now a brick and mortar store: 1) I planned to eat outside at their sidewalk tables, so asked for a cup of water with my bowl. I was told no they don't do tap water but they sell drinks instead. The least expensive drink is a $2.50 kids drink or $3 for bottle water or sodas, etc. Just give people water if they ask. I don't know if they don't stock cups or what but seemed silly overall. So instead of staying I got my order to go and drank my delicious DC water at home. 2) I didn't experience this myself, but I have heard they are card only and do not accept cash. This is not good for those people who don't have cards which a lot of people in DC do not. Especially for a less expensive carryout-common place, they should be taking cash. I understand the restaurant pros for not handling cash, but it is an equity issue and illegal. It may be they are changing their practices after complaints.
  5. Still making lots of pickles pretty regularly. Over the summer we grew persian cucumbers which were very bountiful. Led to lots of my usual fermented cukes with peppercorns, garlic, coriander seed and yellow mustard seed - sometimes with dill if I have it or even dill seed and also sometimes with a few chile de arbol for spicy pickles. Also made a bunch of vinegar cukes when I didn't have time to ferment - spiced them with all types of combos. Best was probably the italian mix with fresh oregano, basil, and thyme plus peppercorns. For a few others, I added cumin or fennel seeds. You really can't go wrong with whatever flavor combo you like. Homemade pickles are much tastier than mass-produced store bought. I also have continued to make lots of the pickled radishes mentioned above - sometimes with chile and sometimes without - they are always a big hit. Something new was making more pickled chili recipes as I've gotten big bunches in my CSA. Simple pickled jalapenos are easy and delicious. Also made a few fresno chiles recipes from the Joy of Pickling - chile garlic relish which is super simple you mixed brine add to food processor along with stemmed chiles and you are done. No cooking involved. You can take it a next step further and use some of the chile garlic relish along with cooking a sugar blend to make your own sweet chile garlic sauce.
  6. Friday - grilled lemon thyme chicken, pesto pasta, steamed cauliflower Saturday - Dolan Uyghur carryout (beef korma chop, garlic green beans, kawa manta, and a samsa plus extra plain laghman noodles and rice) Sunday - hot dogs, green beans, plus chocolate chip banana bread for dessert. I made a bunch of chile garlic relish over the weekend so added some along with vinegar pickles to one dog along with some ketchup which was pretty good.
  7. I crushed them up into almost crumbs and really tiny bits and swirled into the base so you get the graham taste but they are so small you don't really get any sogginess.
  8. S'more ice cream turned out great. I think the issue was really not allowing the tub to freeze overnight. I didn't even chill the base much, just whipped up eggs and sugar then tossed in cream and milk cold from fridge. Immediately poured based into ice cream maker (I took tub out of freezer at last minute). I crushed the graham crackers to tiny bits or crumbs and swirled it all into the almost fully churned vanilla base and then added lots of mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips (regular sized). It has been enjoyed all weekend since making it Saturday and it is already almost gone despite getting almost 2 full quarts. For a 30-40 minute project where 25-30 minutes is simply letting the machine churn (albeit with 1 day advance planning to freeze tub) in the morning, having homemade ice cream ready for dessert that night is great. I'll have the check out the no churn method. Never tried that.
  9. This recipe is very similar to Alice Waters. Thanks for sharing. The weekend was busy for cooking for a bunch of guests/family that we hosted in our sukkah (outdoor eating in the backyard as part of Jewish nomadic hut appreciation week). Friday: stuffed vegetables 2.5 ways. 1) Shuk cookbook's stuffed delicata squash with tahini dressing. So good. I had non-beef eaters so we subbed in ground turkey. This recipe has raisins and pine nuts but no rice in the meat mixture so it comes together pretty fast. 2) Persian-inspired stuffed peppers - more traditional rice and ground meat (again used turkey) with tomatoey sauce but this has great persian flavors too with a saffron tomato broth (my wife loves saffron). 2.5) same #2 filling but put in hollowed kabocha squash where I cooked the kabocha the same as the delicata. So this one was a bit of a combo of the other two and still great. We also had a great green salad brought by our friends who tossed in slices of toasted bagel as croutons. Dessert was almond plum cake and chocolate/pumpkin spiced brownies (need to get the recipe from our guest who made them). Saturday: cedar plank grilled salmon with everything bagel spice, pita bread, chopped/roasted veggies for make your own salad or sabich, garlic labne, tahini dressing, roasted sweet potatos and turnips tossed in garam masala and cumin. First time doing the cedar plank method on the grill and you really do need to soak that plank thoroughly. I was putting out fires left and right. Managed with a quick shot of the squirt bottle to save the salmon which turned out delicious. Dessert was homemade s'mores ice cream which turned out great - vanilla B&J base with lots of crushed graham crackers (more pulverized) swirled in along with lots of mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips. Sunday: mac and cheese for kids and potato, kale, parmesan frittata for adults. Along with more s'mores ice cream (it's almost gone now).
  10. I didn't realize that September was my ice cream making month, but apparently it is based on my prior posts. Recently, made lemon verbena ice cream (Alice Water's custard recipe) which per Weezy's comment above on basil ice cream went great with peaches. Also made B&J's plum ice cream but pureed the macerated fruit and then drizzled in warm chocolate for stracciatella effect. However, I failed to freeze the ice cream tub for long enough (I did about 7 hours but I usually go overnight) and well the ice cream base never solidified in the tub. Nevertheless, I poured the liquid into a container and froze it. The end result was meh - it is ice cream but very icy and not so creamy. Next up tomorrow is smores at the kids' request - I made vanilla base and add in chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows. Already put the tub in the freezer - trying to learn my lesson. I also again for RH made caramelized apple honey ice cream using the online but apparently defunct Chozen ice cream recipe I mention last year. It turned out even better this time, when I used the B&J vanilla base with the caramel honey apple mixture per the recipe. It was really good and got eaten fast.
  11. It's good. We used the Alice Water's cookbook recipe. It is a bit intense in its floralness which is a bit odd. So while I'll usually eat a whole bowl of ice cream, this one is a bit fancier for an accent to something else or only a small scoop at a time. It does pair really well with fresh sliced peaches and probably similar stone fruit.
  12. Last night dashi soup with udon noodles, tofu, scallions, wakame and thin sliced kabocha squash. Added a bit of togarashi for some extra flavor and little spicy kick to mine. Pickled radishes on the side. Dessert two of the stranger ice creams I've made: lemon verbena french vanilla custard and plum chocolate chip.
  13. Stopped by Cracked Eggery yesterday for breakfast to go. I enjoyed the Bubby - egg over hard, smoked salmon, everything spice cream cheese, caper tapenade on "challah" roll. The challah roll was rich and good but I put quotes as it seemed more like brioche - buttery rich. The sandwich was good and very filling. I'll have to try some more options in the future. Very friendly service and quick - only 5 min wait. This was my first time eating their food so per my comment above, I anticipated wrongly that the fried eggs would be more over easy to get that runny egg goodness. Granted that would be much messier to eat but I plan to ask next time if it was a option.
  14. CSA gave us some rather large tomatos last week so on Saturday we made these rice-stuffed tomatoes: https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/08/rice-stuffed-tomatoes/ A bit labor/time intensive but a great taste of summer tomato essence. We used some fresh basil from the garden for our herbs. Really delish and recommend it for some final summer flavors.
  15. Recently returned from a great vacation in Hawaii. We managed to find some good eats at the following: Maui Leoda's Pie Shop, south of Lahaina. This popular road side stop has great small pies (we loved the banana cream and also liked the very rich chocolate mac nut which also has salty caramel in it) and really good sandwiches on fresh made bread. There is a line out the door almost always but it moves fast and worth the wait. Not worth the wait is the long line at the colorful school bus a few doors down for fresh juice smoothies (nothing special and simply slow staff accounting for a long line). Honu Pizza and Seafood, in North Lahaina, pricey (even a bit high for pricey hawaii) but really excellent seafood with some interesting twists. I had the unusual but delicious combo of seared ahi tuna with a mushroom beurre blanc and super creamy mashed potatoes. Also good was the ahi tuna soba salad. Kids liked the keiki menu. Airy restaurant right next to the water. Star Noodle in North Lahaina (basically next to Honu) - very tough to get food from this place. Very limited reservations or carryout options. We finally got lucky and showed up without a res and got a table. Food took awhile because apparently they only have one wok - probably why they have other food issues. Nevertheless, really good pan-Asian food. Miso-grilled salmon was super good. Housemade udon noodle soup also delish. We also had good pad thai and garlic noodles and very good cocktails. Lovely outdoor but shaded seating by the water. Cheeseburger Cheeseburger in South Lahaina. Really good burgers and fries at this small place with a great second floor view of the water (it has a first floor too but better view above). Long wait for table but they text you so you can wander among the shops while you wait. Dole Whip in Lahaina - busy but good place in South Lahaina that has Dole Whip, Dole Whip float (with pineapple juice) Dole Whip with added fresh pineapple plus regular/tropical ice cream and shaved ice. The trifecta of Hawaiian frozen desserts. Food Truck plaza outside of Aston Kaanapli Shores (10-15 min drive north of Lahaina) - 5-6 trucks with a good variety. Only open at night for dinner. Very good and quick from the roast chicken prime rib truck with good garlic mashed potatos. Also good but slower food from the seafood truck with ahi poke and fish tacos. (fish tacos with pineapple salsa was better). it is very bare bone with a dusty lot with picnic tables and some string lights, but good for eating out with a variety of choices. Ululani Shaved Ice - local chain of great shaved ice where the ice is extra fine from machines so it is fluffy like a cloud and the syrups are made in house. Definitely go with the tropical flavors. Also skip the really long line in Lahaina unless that is your only option as the other storefronts around Maui have much shorter lines. Surfing Goat Dairy - we went to the actual goat farm and tasting patio in Kula but I would recommend these goat cheeses anywhere. Lots of bold flavors mixed into the chevre. Goat tour is fun too. MauiWine - we already had had their #1 seller, Hula O Maui, sparkling pineapple wine (like a great floral, sweet champagne) in DC (and you can buy it at Cleveland Park liquors among other local stores) so it was fun to drive Upcountry to the old farm estate to do a tasting at the winery. Bit of an out of the way drive but lovely views and they have nice tastings of sparkling, dry and sweet pineapple wines (what we did) plus 3 other grape wines to sample. Haimaile General Store - also a bit upcountry and rather well known place for a bit more upscale dining but still in casual Hawaiian environment. Unfortunately service was rather slow and we were rushing to the winery reservation so that hampered our enjoyment some. The hoisin peking-style duck steam buns though were outstanding. The Kona pineapple cider went well with them too. Sugar Beach Bake Shop - great small place in North Kihei (also has an Ululani's shaved ice next door). They have lots of goodies but the best are the malasadas donuts. The cream filled with passionfruit lillikoi was my favorite. Go early as they sell out quick. We got the last few around 10 on a weekday. We also ate some at the Aston Kaanapali Shores hotel restaurant which was pretty good food too but nothing to seek out. Other Maui snacks: Wowee Maui chocolate bars (best was the toasted coconut) - chocolate had good flavor but weird bendy textures, Tropical taffy (very good for long car trips), almost anything with lillikoi (hawaiian passionfruit)-I became obsessed. Big Island Miyo's Izakaya - great Japanese food in Hilo, close to airport. Large portions with lots of non-sushi options. We liked the udon soup, tempura, broiled mackerel, and chicken katsu. It is in this little industrial looking strip mall, but worth visiting for friendly service and good food. Volcano House - besides the amazing view of Kilauea crater out the window, the food was surprisingly good, but be prepare for a wait for food to arrive. We had breakfast and dinner here. Breakfast was good pancakes with mac nut topping and dinner was really good fish dishes. I wish we could have stayed at the hotel too, maybe next time. Fairmont Orchid restaurants - we stayed here and there is nothing much around except other resorts unless you want to drive a bit so we ended eating here more than I would have liked. - Binchotan - not great robatoyaki with smallish portions that were rather expensive. Skip it. - Hale Kai - ok pool side/beach side place. No reason to go here unless staying at hotel. The sandwiches and tacos were some of the better choices with good fries. - Brown's Beach House - their higher end restaurant with sunset views (same view literally next door at the Hale Kai). Expensive but surprisingly worth it. I really enjoyed my Maui Onion Soup (french onion except the gruyere cheese was in fried gyoza skins that stayed melty when cut into) and my duck breast entree. My wife got a rather large filet mignon with good wasabi creme fraiche. Dessert was a mac nut brittle with chocolate mousse accompanied by a cherry sauce and lillikoi foam - very good. Kids liked the keiki menu and chocolate ice cream. Good wines by the glass to match too.
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