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Everything posted by KeithA

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Last night, I was ambitious and made homemade fettuccine and Turkey meatballs. It took awhile but it helped to break it up and prep the meatballs earlier in the day so I could mostly focus on pasta making when cooking everything. Turned out great.
  4. I don't see the need for a basket to grill whole fish. I regularly get fish cleaned, fins and scales removed but leave head and tail on. Then I covered the outside with some oil, heavy dose of kosher salt and season the inside, stuff with lemons and fresh herbs. Just make sure your grill is pretty hot and the fish is cooked enough to release. I throw it on, cook one side and then flip. Easy peasy and rarely have any sticking. Skin comes out all crackly and crispy and fish inside is moist and delicious. If you want extra security against sticking, oil the grill grates too. Lots of grill tools are not essential, give it a try. I also recommend eating the fish as you fillet it - it is best way to get all of the grill flavor and keep the fish warm.
  5. Uber has been consistently good for many years. A few years ago we tried the new local chain Shmagels Bagels - great name but lackluster bagels.
  6. OC area as noted above was a bit different this summer with lots of restaurants and stores short staffed and so their hours were unusual but the town was packed and business was brisk especially around July 4th. Call any place before going to check hours - even the venerable Candy Kitchen was odd. Their website said certain locations were closed or only open certain days which was only partly true - some are closed for the whole season and others are open every day. Luckily all of our family favorites survived and some even came out stronger after the pandemic. We stay on the north end so all of these places are 90th St or higher up to Fenwick. Quick reviews of everything we had: 1. Candy Kitchen - still the same except as noted above. Go for chocolate nonpareils, strawberry laces, kitsch, and ok other chocolates and fudge. 2. Country Store in Fenwick - great fudge with a huge selection of flavors. You can't get too much. My favorites are amaretto, dark chocolate caramel sea salt, and peanut butter chocolate. They also have a huge old school candy selection, other chocolates, and lots of tchotckes. Closed earlier than in past. 3. Dumser's Dairyland - we only had carryout but did so a few times. The hot fudge topping, peanut butter fudge and coconut chip ice creams are still great. Missed going inside for the old fashioned soda fountain counter and chilled dishes. Giant scoops still. However, my siblings revealed that they are heretics and don't think the ice cream is the best and really go for the ambience. They prefer newer addition Vanderwende's ice cream. They are wrong, but... 4. VanderWende's ice cream in the Fenwick Village - first time for me trying after not stopping at their farm shop along 404 in DE. Huge scoops of good ice cream - go for one scoop but ask for two flavors if you like variety. Mint Oreo was very good, Chocolate was so so, Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch was good, kids liked the cotton candy which wasn't horrible mixed with chocolate. MIL loves the cherry vanilla which is a fresher, less rich Cherry Garcia minus the chocolate. It was ok IMHO. I still like Dumser's better but if I have to continue the ice cream comparison in the future, I'm up for the challenge. The waffle cones are fresh made and smelled great, but I didn't taste. 5. OC Kabob - still great chicken kabob sandwiches on pita with tzatiki. Abdul the owner is still as friendly as ever and said they have been busy all through Covid. 6. Dollies - pretty good chocolates and taffy. Still one better than Candy Kitchen in that you can buy by the piece without a 1/4 Lb minimum. 7. Fisher's Popcorn (we got as usual from just south of Fenwick location) - still the real deal - best caramel corn on earth. You can now get it in some stores in the DC area and you should but, it is better fresh. 8. BlueFish - rather good American Chinese and sushi. They have more carryout now through their drive thru (it used to be a bank many years ago), long waits for tables in their renovated dining room and long wait for carryout so order or go early. They changed the menu slightly and so now have a few thai dishes too - drunken noodles were good. 9. Layton's donuts - still small, fresh donuts. Parking is a bit tougher because they added outside tables over part of their lot. Didn't get a chance to go to Best Donuts on Beach at the Exxon station around 136 or so for comparison. 10. Kohr Brothers frozen custard (one across street from fisher's in Fenwick) - still packed at night with long lines and some flavors like creamsicle swirl ran out. Supposedly (and likely) good as ever - but I can't say from personal experience. Somehow my wife and daughter managed to eat ice cream without me (I get no respect). 11. Uber Bagels - still large fluffy good bagels in lots of varieties. Totally packed with around 20 min wait for whole, unsliced bagels at 8am (they only open at 7) and they ran out of alot around 930am with 20 min wait for more plain. They do now have online ordering which was down one day and worked great the next. I highly recommend using it. You go to a second door and walk in and pick it right up if you online order. 12. Mionene Pizza at 67th st - still nice thin crust pizza by the slice (also some deep dish, strombolis, calzones available). Kids got very fresh and good chicken tender and good thick steak fries. As always here, they are slow (except for the pre-made slice reheating). They seem to be worst hit by short staffing as they are closed half the week and have lots of please be patient signs. 13. Lighthouse Sound in Bishopville (north of the Isle of Wight - little island with the dreaded stoplight in middle of Rt 90). Only a very short drive from Northern OC. I hadn't gone here in years but a group of adults wanted a night out and we wanted a reservation. That left only a handful of places, but plenty here at this a bit out of the way spot on a golf course but with a beautiful view of the marshlands. Made me want to take up golf, which is saying a lot. We had a great time - especially for first dine-in experience in forever. It is pricey like everything else in the area but slightly more elegant. We started with the burrata, sundried tomato salad special and house salads - fresh, good, nothing special but nice. Then, a complimentary mango sorbet palate cleanser. Main course was the rockfish with beurre blanc sauce, rice and asparagus special - very tasty and fresh. Desserts was a really nice not too heavy strawberry smith island cake slice. Everyone really enjoyed the food and service. Not your typical beach spot, but nice for a change of pace. We never made it to the boardwalk so I can't report on Thrashers, but I imagine the fries are still hot and salty.
  7. First time trying Roaming Rooster today at their Tenleytown location. Overall, very fresh, tasty but not life altering like you would think from some of the reviews on Yelp or just in general the current overkill enthusiasm for fried chicken sandwiches. We got 3 types - 1) the regular with off-menu no heat (not sure why that isn't an explicit option - they ask you mild, medium, or hot) this came with vinegar slaw on a hamburger bun like roll. Pretty good for the plain jane. 2) nashville hot chicken - medium - comes with same vinegar slaw but also a few pickles. Good overall. I thought the medium heat was nice but not much - really more like a mild heat. 3) buffalo with blue cheese - mild heat. I didn't try this one but my friend liked it said it wasn't too hot. We also got a couple of orders of fries - which were fresh but only ok - could have been crispier (this was not due to lag time, I ordered in person, waited and then immediately ate a few fries from the bag before I got back to the car as one is expected to do). Two things I really did like is that they were made to order and the sandwich wasn't too big - the size was just right, you could eat the whole thing for a meal but not feel stuffed. Prices are pretty good too - $8-9 or so for each sandwich. A nice local addition to the food scene. However, I will say if you want a spicier, more unique and oversized fried chicken sandwich get the Chiko Sichuan Hot Fried Chicken (may be only available at lunch) - the 1/2 size is still rather large.
  8. They have been great throughout the pandemic with really good takeout and very specific reheating instructions. We live near the CP one and it has been packed for carryout/in person dining throughout and now with reopening, it has been hopping.
  9. Mother's Day dinner was whole grilled striped bass stuffed with lemon slices and parsley, fattoush salad, steamed broccoli, kale pesto pasta and pina coladas. Made some strawberry ice cream for dessert. The mother approved 😁
  10. I haven't had theirs in a while, but I've always enjoyed it. That being said, if you have a food processor - make your own. It is super easy and even if you used canned chickpeas, it is still rather good and ready in 10 mins.
  11. Got a new big grill so last night continued the grilling party - through on pretty much everything I had available: Burgers, onions, bell pepper, portabella mushrooms (to which I added some bbq sauce), bok choy, scallions, and celery. I've made grilled romaine salad before and loved it. Bok choy was a bit tough because these were smaller. Only lost one falling in the grates, but still probably would stick to larger leafy greens in the future. Also, I had a bunch of cilantro, thai basil and garlic - so through all of that with some scallions, lime juice, olive oil, dried oregano and pinch of chili flakes in the mini-food processor for a nice chimmichuri sauce for the veggies. It went best with the sweet pepper for a sweet/garlicky/sour balance.
  12. Mistake mushrooms is what my wife says every time I add them to a dish, but I agree they are tasty 😉
  13. Sabich salad - baked eggplant slices, hardboiled egg slices, israeli salad, tahini, amba, and zhug - with some baguette slices (because the local grocery had no pita)
  14. We ended up making Chicken Marbella too and using Halibut for the gefilte fish. Both turned out great. My brisket while cooked ok lacked some flavor (used Jewish Cooking in America - Joan Nathan's favorite brisket recipe). Need to try out some new recipes or go back to past winners like Smitten Kitchen's sweet and sour brisket. I did end up making 3 types of charoset - all winners: Ashkenazi, Kurdish (4 types of nuts, bunch of spices, dates, raisins and more), and Moroccan-style rolled into balls.
  15. Excited we'll have another brick & mortar space filled in CP and with a business that already has a following (that always have people waiting for sandwiches on Saturday morning), but I don't get this part of the article: "A second fast-casual restaurant—open for lunch and dinner, though not 3 AM cravings—is slated for Cleveland Park this spring" - why would you not open a place known for egg breakfast sandwiches during breakfast time? Seems really odd. They do say that the restaurant menus may vary more so maybe it will be a slightly different concept. I have never tried their stuff as I usually just make my own eggs, but I was intrigued by some of their menu choices - like which sandwiches come with scrambled vs. fried eggs. Anyone know if they'll customize and let you pick which type of egg for your sandwich?
  16. My Passover seder menu is coming together: So far already made herbed gefilte fish from the Gefilte Manifesto cookbook but with 2 TBs of added matzo meal (they say they leave it out of this one for a lighter texture, but when I made it that way in the past, it kind of fell apart) and 1 quart each of golden beet horseradish and carrot citrus horseradish relish from same cookbook. We also plan to make: -matzo ball chicken soup - hardboiled eggs, which in my wife's family tradition, you chop up some and serve with salt water in kind of a quasi-soup which get topped with crunchy farfel made by cooking farfel with eggs and salt and pepper. Each person get a small bowl of chopped eggs and each decides how soupy to make it by pouring on their own amount of salt water and how crunchy by choosing how much farfel to add. - a braised chicken, recipe TBD for first night for the non-beef eaters, and brisket, likely traditional tomato, onion, carrot style, for second night. - Charoset of course. We always make traditional Ashkenazi-style since that is our heritage (apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and wine/juice). I usually make another middle-eastern Mizrahi style too (dates, raisins, more spices, and walnuts or almonds that less chunky and more of a paste that you roll into balls). This year I may make 3-4 varieties like Ethiopian where you add spicy Berbere seasoning and maybe Persian with cardamon since I love that spice. - Carrots - either tzimmes or roasted with spices. We still have 4 lbs or so from our CSA so they're on the menu - Not sure maybe another green vegetable. We'll see what the CSA brings this week. - Dessert will be the always traditional - fruit slice gels, various passover chocolates and homemade coconut macaroons. We use the family-passed down recipe for macaroons from my wife's grandmother. Who we always said made the best ones (especially compared to the dense, flavorless ones you get in a can). The first time we made them using a bag of Baker's brand sweetened coconut, we realized the recipe is the same as the one on the bag. So much for family secret recipes, but they do taste great.
  17. Roasted salmon with S&P with lemon wedge on the side and fish sticks for the kids Buttered, salted pasta (added roasted garlic and italian seasoning to mine) Cauliflower 2 ways - kids ate plain steamed, adults had roasted with montreal steak seasoning and tumeric, which turned out great). I relish the days when I can cook ONE flavorful meal for the whole family. This was not one of those nights. 😉
  18. Chicken and Whiskey continues to be our favorite pollo a la brasa place. One thing we like for white meat lovers is that they will sell you a 2 breast (1/2 white chicken only) deal which works well for us. In other good news, they are expanding to Navy yard: https://dc.eater.com/2021/3/19/22340034/chicken-whiskey-latin-rotisserie-bar-expanding-navy-yard-southeast-dc
  19. Friday night, I wanted to use up lots of winter veggies from our CSA so we had combo sheet pan of roasted Jerusalem artichokes, purple potatoes, rutabagas, red onion, and watermelon radishes. It was very colorful, but I think the potatoes got undercooked so were the least favorite but the radishes and rutabagas were great. All tossed with some olive oil and montreal steak seasoning. I also had a bag of brussel sprouts that I halved roasted in a separate pan with olive, salt and pepper then when done drizzled some good balsamic vinegar and more oil and S&P on them. For main course I made turkey meatballs with fresh challah breadcrumbs, parsley and dried oregano. They turned out great. I minimally handled them, lightly fried them on two sides for 3 mins each in a deep sided skillet and then added Rao's marinara sauce and simmered for about 7-10 minutes. Great and soft and flavorful with some spaghetti. Ultimate success was when one of the kids opted for meatball leftovers over chicken nuggets for dinner Sat night :-)
  20. Chicken soup with egg noodles Clementine cake Thanks to my wife - I got the night off from cooking.
  21. We got to have a Vday Date night so I tried to get a little fancy. We started with my own improvised creation whipped up from leftovers: Pita wedges with a shmear of beet hummus, topped with slices of roasted beets and goat cheese with dill: Then, we had red-wine braised lamb shank with farro and a side dish of kohlrabi, carrot, purple radish and apple slaw (adapted from Alice Waters cookbook):
  22. Do you ever feel underappreciated as the cook? It is such a shame that I have a house of bland, unadventuresome eaters. Last night I made SeriousEats Smashed Sunchokes from our CSA cooked in butter with fresh thyme (delicious and different, but only I ate them), tilapia sauteed with white wine and butter sauce with lots of fresh dill and parsley (my wife did like this one FWIW), and stir fried napa cabbage with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, pickled red chilis, onions (it wasn't very spicy at all but again only eaten by me). The others mostly ate old challah bread and fish sticks with plain steamed broccoli. I just can't with eating the same boring bland food every week but it is what the family wants. Remind me to never open a restaurant I would be so sad when the boring items are the most popular. On a related note - anyone has good but crowd pleaser recipes for beets, cabbage, turnips, or radishes? We get all of these uncommon vegetables for us in the CSA and I'm the only one who eats them. BTW - David Liebowitz's pickled radish recipe is awesome.
  23. Got a chance to try the new Schmaltz Brothers kosher food truck when it stopped in Cleveland Park, DC tonight. Overall, we really liked it. The best was the Bubbie's Brisket sandwich that is a bunch of very moist shredded beef brisket with slaw on a very tasty challah roll bun with everything bagel spice on top. Almost as good was the Zinger fried chicken sandwich which I got sweet/spicy with hot honey but they will also do Nashville style hot chicken too. It comes on the same good bun. Probably an acquired taste was the very non-traditional fried matzo balls with pickled onions and spicy aioli. My wife took a bite and just couldn't handle the weirdness. I embraced the difference and enjoyed the rest. They are slightly crispy on the outside and very soft inside. In looks like this is their latest version as their old menu had fried matzah puppies with crushed matza instead of the usual cornmeal hush puppies. Their menu apparently fluctuates a little along with their truck locations. Lastly, we had a rather good chocolate babka for dessert - very rich chocolate but a little dry (good but not the best babka) - kid approved though 🙂 Website: https://www.schmaltzbros.com/ More details and pictures here: https://dc.eater.com/2020/12/3/22126233/schmaltz-brothers-food-truck-chicken-sandwiches-burgers-synagogues-bar
  24. I've found that you need to try out the recipes a few times and insist they take as we say a "polite bite" which means an actual real taste of the food and not a sliver. If they don't like it, then they don't need to keep eating, but then if it is something I think they'll like then we insist on future tastes. After 3-4 times, if they still don't like it we move on. We've only had limited success but hey any success is worth it, right? I think my girls are finally ok with the occasional green bean to add to their limited vegetable repertoire. The multiple tries approach is also good because I find sometimes they are just again trying new stuff and other times they are more willing, which may color their taste perception. Although I will occasionally try something once and simply move on. I had high hopes for bulgogi because they like sweet, will eat teriyaki chicken, and they like steak. Well that was an epic fail. In the mean time, its lots of pasta with butter/salt and blandish chicken for them.
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