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Everything posted by PollyG

  1. Many of the area's Vietnamese restaurants serve them as part of the lotus root salad, a shrimp and vegetable dish that is worth ordering even when it comes without the shrimp chip garnish. Huong Viet in the Eden Center serves it with the chips. I've found that the brand of shrimp chip matters very much. The Sa Giang brand marked premium quality is a lot better than the other brands and is the only one I will buy now. They also make crab chips and a variety of the shrimp chip that has some pepper in it. The large Vietnamese grocery in the Eden Center has all varieties. While the flavor is better if you fry in oil, shrimp chips do pretty well in the microwave. Watch them because they burn easily. My microwave does the trick in about 45 seconds.
  2. The Whole Foods in Reston's Spectrum Center has stopped carrying coffee beans in bulk and has only prepackaged beans. There's no way of knowing how long those prepackaged beans have been on the shelf, and at $12.99 for 12 ounces, I'm not going to be sourcing my decaf Sumatran from them any more. At that sort of price, I can have Peet's ship them straight to me the day they're roasted.
  3. These are the same "it's all about me, so gimme for free" people who expect to be comped entire meals for any misfire in their dining experience. Most restaurants operate on a thin margin and need to balance their pride in providing a flawless experience with the sad knowledge that there are grifters who will do nearly anything to score a free meal or entree. If you're over the age of 12, you shouldn't expect a restaurant to fuss over your birthday. If you're under the age of 12, your parents might arrange (and pay for) some bit of fuss. I spent my last birthday with some dining pals and my family in Palena's bar sampling as many dishes as possible. Quite unbidden, my daughter blurted to the hostess that it was my birthday. She was 5 (we took the early shift at Palena) and I suppose it was exciting to her. I did receive a small plate of cookies, which were much appreciated. But I certainly didn't expect anything at all, nor would I have thought to mention it to the staff.
  4. Virginia charges sales tax on interstate shipments of everything. This started about 8-10 years ago. We fine, upstanding citizens of Virginia are supposed to fill out a special form listing each item we had shipped to us from another state upon which sales tax was not assessed. If we pay sales tax for the shipping state, Virginia doesn't assess its own tax; it merely wants to make sure that we pay tax upon the goods to one state or another. If I remember right, the original excuse used to foist this burden upon us was the prevalence of purchases of furniture from North Carolina. In this day and age of internet shopping, I cannot begin to state the level of annoyance this requirement causes me each year. Fortunately, most internet retailers do charge Virginia sales tax for shipments into the Commonweath now.
  5. You need to separate it into two steaks. Looking at your photos, what you want to do is cut along the center bit of gristle that is parallel to the long side of the meat. You will remove this, yielding two steaks of approximately equal size. Then you can trim the fat off if you wish. I've done that with a couple of hanging tenders from the Grand Mart in Sterling. At $2.39 a pound, we're very impressed.
  6. It may not have been. We had a mango drink problem at Neisha Thai in Tysons once--the mango was pureed alright, but so was some of the pit! Mmm, crunchy chunks in my straw. Lots of 'em.
  7. Perhaps not terroir , but I believe you could use a lab to create a fair approximation of terrier in your bottle of wine.
  8. Mmmm. Yes, the world certainly needs more wine with all the variance and flavor of mass produced American Pilsner. In theory, it might work very well to "improve" mass produced jug wine, but it turns the vinter's art into production chemical engineering, which is very much what happens at the mega-breweries. And does your average jug wine drinker actually want subtle flavors in their plonk?
  9. Sees chocolate, latte, and vanilla lollipops will at least coat your throat. There's a Sees cart in the Galleria at Tysons for the holiday shopping season. And while it is a hot beverage, the Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea (Whole Foods and any other health food store) is very soothing. If you like licorice, you'll like the taste. The active ingredient is slippery elm bark. I found some slippery elm lozenges a few years ago (at Whole Foods, I think) but they were vile. A carafe of hot sake may also do the trick, but your workplace may frown upon it.
  10. I've made biscottii, some of them dipped half-way in chocolate. I put them into a nice jar. Maida Heatter's Brand New Book of Great Cookies is the source of my recipes. Two of my friends have native Italian mothers; in both cases their mothers expressed (not in my presence) disbelief that a non-Italian could have made the cookies. The Epicurious rosemary shortbread cookie recipe has been another holiday hit.
  11. You could have made a gushing remark about the wonderful healthy immune system Henry was developing by sucking on items that had been handled by dozens of people. If she had no consideration for other shoppers, perhaps she might have had some for little Henry. This is one reason I'm a big fan of the new shopping car/carts that some of the bigger chains use. Some kids outgrow the shopping cart basket earlier than they (or their parents) grow any common sense.
  12. Rolled prosciutto might work, but I think a scallion, shredded on the end, would make a more convincing ventworm.
  13. A&J's are among the best. The 5 year-old loves the passionfruit, while the adults waver between passionfruit, coffee, and milk tea. They manage to keep their bubbles at the right level of chewiness, and they don't use the dreaded powdered base. The worst we've had was at Dragon Star in the Eden Center. The 5 year-old got through only about an inch of hers. It was a powered base and grossly sweet. Song que is also excellent.
  14. An even cheaper fridge is available at Sierra Trading. What a shame, you missed the promotional campaign that Office Depot had for teachers last year--we got something like this for free with a $50 OD order. My daughter's cheap plastic bento sets come from Super-H, which has a small selection of the Zorushi-type bento spectaculars. She has rice balls, home-grown cherry tomatoes, watermelon, and carrots today.
  15. I found one nugget from the article just plain depressing: I understand that in some cases, chains and fast food are better options than the locally owned greasy spoon on the corner. But three-quarters of all restaurant visits? Who are these people, and what are they doing in my country?
  16. And we must not forget the Octodog! There are also many devices intended to cut Japanese sausages into clever shapes for bento boxes, but I am oddly reluctant to perform a search on "shape sausage" from work.
  17. If I understand you correctly, you are open to ordering via the web and the family may not live near you. Various family members have been happy with items from The Flying Noodle
  18. I was wondering if you ever include children among your dining companions. Flame wars about inconsiderate parents who allow their kids to run amuck aside, the area has plenty of families with children. Some of those families are trying to raise the next generation of fine diners. We have a vested interest in making sure there is a next generation of them, or we are going to be condemned to corporate chain dining in our dotage. Dining with a child changes your perspective. The pacing of service, detail and accuracy of dish descriptions on the menu, and availability of one or two dishes that aren't too fussy (and yet aren't the @)*$# chicken fingers) become much more important. The kind of service you get from the restaurant staff can change a lot, too. Some places bend over backwards to make your kid feel welcome, and they aren't necessarily the ones you'd expect to do so. For example, Matsuri Sushi and Sake bar in Herndon has a kid's sushi platter (no raw fish) and provides crayons. It is one of my five year-old's most frequently requested dining destinations. The same concerns will probably hold true until she is in her mid to late teens. As the parent of a restaurant friendly child, I find most dining reviews fall a bit short. I can generally decide, based on the review, whether I'd like to eat there. But they leave me wondering whether the restaurant is going to be a good place to go as a family.
  19. I would guess that 15 RIA either had a problem with an ADA issue and the definition of essential functions of the job or someone from 15 RIA recently attended a conference. They've gone overboard to an extreme, but it does help them explain to the blind, handless person who has lost their sense of smell that no reasonable accomodation will allow them to perform essential functions of the job. But it does look a lot like a document created on an April first.
  20. This advert appeared in the Loudon Easterner (weekly free paper) and will probably not get wider circulation: Thai Food Festival, Sunday June 26 11 am-4pm Thai Food (also Thai souvenirs, multi-family yard sale, show of Thai music and song by a famous singer from Thailand, Yodrak Slakjai) Wat Yanna Rangsee Buddhist Monastery 22147 Cedar Green Road Sterling, VA 20164 703 406 8290 Free admission and parking For those of you unfamiliar with the Virgina 'burbs, Sterling starts about where 7 and Fairfax County Parkway intersect, and ends around Rt. 28. So it is about as far for you as Dulles would be.
  21. I grew up with a horse farm down the street and was positively horse-crazy as a kid. But I really don't understand what is wrong with slaughtering domestic horses for human consumption. Why is it worse than slaughtering cows? On my way to horse camp each morning during the summer of '75 or so, we'd pass a small farmyard full of gaunt horses, standing in a bare dirt pen. We were told that the authorities had been called upon the owner many times; the owner was pretty much starving the horses to death. Many of them were retired race horses. A thoroughbred lives 25 to 35 years with proper care, but most stop having any possibility of earning money after they reach age 5. Frankly, I think the horses would have been better off slaughtered than starved to death. In some ways, the slaughter of retired horses makes a lot more sense than our factory-farming of meats. The horses at least have a decent quality of life before we send them to the table. But then again, I wonder at the ridiculous waste of perfectly edible flesh as we incinerate 6 million unwanted cats and dogs each year! If people understood that Rover was going to end up in the stewpot, would they be so nonchalant when they dropped him at the shelter after he is no longer a cute puppy? The horse steak I had in Belgium (with full knowledge of what I was eating) was delicious.
  22. With 30-50 people, it is possible that one of the Korean buffet places could put a few Japanese dishes or Chinese-style dishes out to help cope with the adventure-adverse.. Alternatively, careful labeling of items, ingredients, and spice levels might work. If my 5 year-old of thoroughly non-Korean descent can enjoy bulgogi and kalbi, you'd think an adult could, too. Hee Been has been designed so that one of the dining areas can be somewhat cordoned off for larger groups.
  23. I am a big fan of Super H, which is Han Ah Rheum's flagship store. It has *almost* everything, including a sizable selection of hispanic foods. They have done a great job of keeping the produce section manouverable during peak periods and the checkout lines are generally quite short. The extensive seafood section is astonishingly odor free, too. They have been spotty on their weekend uni supply, but last time I was there, a tank chock full of live abalone had been added to the selection. No visit to A&J in Annandale is complete without a quick hop into Kam San. Grand Marts seem to vary tremendously from location to location. I like the one in Centerville; it has a very large produce section and a wide selection of Asian and hispanic items. The new one at 7 Corners seems to be pretty skimpy on Asian items and have more hispanic ones. Bangkok 54's market has a gorgeous selection of frozen herbs and vegetables. You know that you need that package of green peppercorns, still on the stalk.
  24. Since you said "thereabouts" I'm going to suggest that you head West on Duke Street and make your first left after you go under 395, where you'll find Hee Been, a Korean restaurant. They remodeled last summer to offer a large buffet selection of high quality food. I'm pretty sure that they still offer the full menu as well. The interior is fairly upscale with lots of polished wood. Mediterrean Cafe and Bakery is, as others have mentioned, a gem. In addition to the huge selection of olives, olive oil, hot sauces, and dry goods, they have a lot of meat and cheese-filled pastries that you can take home. I like the zatar "pizza" from the take-out department.
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