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PollyG

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Everything posted by PollyG

  1. When I lived just 2 exits from Slavins, I bought my fish elsewhere. Why? Because Slavins stinks. A well-run seafood store should not smell of old fish.
  2. Scotch Bonnet/habaneros are almost always found at any of our area Asian superstores (Grand Mart, Super-H). Or you could haul yourself out to DeBaggio's and get your own plants. The rough part of a trip to DeBaggio's is picking among the insane number of choices for tomatoes, basils, peppers, and thymes.
  3. I'm happy to report that the Reston Farmer's Market (Saturdays, 8-noon at Lake Anne Plaza) is vastly improved this year. There were two dairies, one with cheese only (very delicate fresh mozzarella), the other with unhomogenized (but pasturized) milk and cheeses. There are at least 3 meat vendors as well, with goat, mutton, and buffalo on the lists. Now if only they could get over that 8 o'clock start time. What kind of farmer's market starts so late?
  4. A&J has a fairly traditional rendition. If you go to the Annandale location, the Chinese supermarket in the same plaza has several versions available in the refrigerator case for home heating. The puffy Zhang version were, according to PandaHugga, not traditional at all.
  5. The menu is identical and the consistency is very high between the two area locations. I believe the Rockville location seats a few more people.
  6. Ah, but at *which* of our two local A&Js? I think there is slightly more seating in the Rockville outpost though for purely selfish reasons I'd suggest the Annandale one. Our regular dishes include the pickled longbean dish, the szechuan wontons, pan-fried pork dumplings, the cucumber salad and either the pig's ear or the tendon. The chowpup favors the peanuts, smoked chicken, scallion pancake, pork dumpling, and passionfruit bubble tea. The Annandale locations' bubble tea is a lot better than average. The 3 of us, with bubble teas, usually leave stuffed for $45 or so. We had a chowhound lunch there about 8 months ago and I think the total was $9 each.
  7. Cleaning live ones is right out of a horror flick. They keep moving after you use the kitchen shears to cut off their faces. But the ones we bought live from the truck on Rt. 4 in Maryland and brought home to kill and grill were scrumptious. I like mine treated lightly. No heavy breading or deep frying; it disguises the delicate flavor. We usually dredge in a slightly seasoned flour and pan-saute in a little EVOO and butter. Then, depending upon our mood, we eat them straight or make what my friend Tess calls "kitten sandwiches" with the feet sticking out of a soft roll. (Tess won't eat softshells, silly woman.) Yoko in Herndon used to do a sublime softshell with a ponzu sauce but their rendition last year wasn't as breath-taking.
  8. My family and I were at table #2, and there were definitely times I felt as if we were at the "kid's table." We didn't have beer like table 1 (heck, there were times we didn't have water or tea, either), and all the food seemed to be going to the adult's table next to us. To be fair, though, we did get our fish in basket before they did. We had to remind the waiter that we still had dishes coming. Next time, we will need to hang onto our order sheet so we can check things off as they arrive. For me, the highlights were the fish in the basket, the szechuan pickles, tofu pearl balls, the bracken, the ribs, and the dried beef. Nothing really had enough szechuan peppercorn to set our mouths buzzing. The smoked sesame chicken was much more smokey than at our last visit and much improved. We had to depart around 8:15 with 2-3 dishes yet to arrive. Y'all didn't need to be subjected to what happens if we keep the kid out past her expiration time. Did our table ever get the braised seasonal vegetable? Food: Good to excellent Service: Poor Company: Excellent
  9. How about a detailed rundown of tonight's dishes, then? Just looking at the list of attendees, we have a ton of people familiar with the chef's dishes and only a bad case of illiteracy to overcome. We easily have 1/5 of the menu already reviewed on the board, too. As to ordering strategies without your masterful guidance, if everyone brings a copy of the menu with them and pre-selects 2-3 dishes they feel they absolutely must try, we can probably manage to take advantage of the overlap and make sure everyone gets some of their preferences. Then we can send all the tripe people to the same table. (Wait a second! That's my family!) Alternatively, we can do duplicate/triplicate orders so each table gets the same selection. Or we can just armwrestle.
  10. If 17. Hot and Numbing Dried Beef (ma la niu rou gan), $5.95 is the dish I remember from Temptasian, it is not to be missed. Think beef jerky with szechuan peppercorn and coriander. Our family also votes for Entree 19, the pickled vegetable tripe, which sounds like a wonderful winter dish.
  11. If the husband and wife lung slices are savory rather than spicy, you'd probably collect. She's not a fan of the hot stuff, but has a huge advantage over some adults in that she is pretty short on cultural prejudices about what is edible. Still, I know that some people have had dreadful experiences with kids, so if there is a general "no kids welcome" consensus in this group, I'm not going to inflict her on you.
  12. PollyG

    Passover

    Maida Heatter's Queen Mother's Cakeis a similarly rich chocolate torte. The original recipe calls for dusting the spring-form with flour, but you can substitute matzoh cake flour for that. Other than the dusting, it is free of all grains and uses ground almonds. Beyond that, remember it is the feast of unleavened bread, and unless you are strictly orthodox following a tradition that says that anything that "looks like" a forbidden item (kitniyot) is also forbidden, there are many interpretations suggesting that only the 5 biblical grains (wheat, rye, oats, spelt and barley) are forbidden (chametz). That leaves you with quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, corn, and rice, for starters. We've started including a big bowl of kasha at seders.
  13. Please put me down +2 --- or let me know if the restaurant savvy 6 year-old won't be welcome. More than a few people on the list have shared meals with her and I trust them to speak up and tell us all if she's been a nightmare.
  14. Where was everyone today? We arrived just around noon and were surprised to not see any familiar faces. The hostess spotted our printout of Pandahugga's translation and handed us their own copy of same, along with the Chinese version. The waiter used the Chinese version to translate our numbering into dish names. We had: 54, the puffy scallion pancakes. These are more akin to a fried Indian bread than the usual scallion pancake, but we ordered them for the considerable amusement and enjoyment of the 6 year-old. The kid at a neighboring table, somewhere in the 4-6 year-old age range, was also enjoying hers. These come 3 to a plate, but are big enough that 2 people could share. 47 Pearl Tofu Balls. Who knew you could make tofu into gefilte fish? Honestly, the tofu and onion mixture inside reminded me of a certain Passover tradition, but in a good way. The spouse declared that they wouldn't possibly travel well and finished them--and I pretty much never see him get enthusiastic about tofu. 11. Immortal old duck pot. This is served bubbling atop a can of sterno. The rich broth is chock-full of bamboo shoots and duck chunks on the bone. The 6 year-old loved the bamboo shoots; the duck meat itself is a bit tired and has clearly given the best of itself to the broth. There are small red dried fruits of some sort floating in the broth, which are both sweet and a bit gritty. 16. Pork in Garlic Mud. Either we lost something in the ordering, or the naming was too poetic. This is pork belly slices (think uncured bacon meat) in a chili oil, covered with slivers of scallion. I'm pretty sure I've had that dish at Joe's. Yummy. 1. Smoked Sesame Chicken. We ordered this because the smoked chicken slices at A&J are one of the 6 year-old's favorite foods, anywhere. She enjoyed these but wasn't as enthusiastic. The smoked flavor was pretty subtle, and I'm not convinced that the sesame oil added much other than calories. A&J's is better in my opinion. We ordered 12, Sichuan Pickles, but they did not arrive, nor were they on the bill. Considering how stuffed we were, we didn't fuss over it. I'm not quite sure how we managed to avoid any cumin or sichuan peppercorns, but somehow we did. We're already planning another trip for next weekend, but with another family. A lot of the dishes were sized so that they would have shared nicely among 4 adults. The dining room to the left of the entrance was filled with a private party. The main dining room was not more than 1/4 full by the time we left. We were the only table of round-eyes with the Chinese menu; most of the tables in our section were filled by Chinese families, all of whom were using the Chinese menu.
  15. The Grand Mart in Sterling has a top shelf featuring every cut of tripe, plus what I believe constitutes all the parts for an "assemble your own pig at home" kit. Regarding the lamb testicles, were they packaged in odd numbers, as they always were in our supermarkets in Kentucky, where they were labeled as "lamb fries?" Recipes that make men cross their legs and wince. Lamb liver is a treat, easily as good as or better than calves liver. I used to get it at the farmer's market in Madison WI from the organic lamb people. Where is this place?
  16. Finding the food people at a new workplace can be one of the hardest parts of a job switch. It's taken 5 years, but I almost have a few of them ready to go out for Korean with me. How about Neisha Thai? It's in Tysons Corner Mall (accessible from the outside only) and has brightly colored fruit drinks and a very credible pineapple fried rice served in a pineapple for the children, err, co-workers. The appetizers in particular are presented in more of a high fashion style than in most places. You can get the caffeine addicts buzzed on Thai iced coffee, and rock the worlds of the iced tea crowd with the ginger iced tea. For you: the hoi obb and the yum eggplant appetizer (smokey sweet tender eggplant, fairly hot marinade). That's plenty for lunch.
  17. The Grand Mart on Route 7 in Sterling has had frozen marrow bones at every visit. I don't remember the price, but I believe they were reasonable.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Perhaps not terroir , but I believe you could use a lab to create a fair approximation of terrier in your bottle of wine.
  25. 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?
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