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Posts posted by PollyG

  1. We are planning a kitchen remodel. The cabinets are covered and will be custom built in Pennsylvania by a shop specializing in this sort of thing.  They would like to work with a local contractor for removal of existing cabinets and appliances, some minor electrical work (mostly moving lights and changing where a few appliances are) and possibly very minor plumbing.  The biggest concern is any Fairfax County permits.  Any suggestions?  

  2. On 9/22/2018 at 10:43 PM, PollyG said:

    Has anyone figured out how to contact them directly to make a reservation?  I'm trying to do a reservation for 8 people for next Friday night but I am stuck in a loop:  Open Table says that 8 exceeds the size that can be booked at Ray's via Open Table, contact the restaurant directly.  The web page says to make reservations. . . via Open Table and doesn't list a phone #.  The phone # I can get via Yelp and web searches goes straight to an "here are our hours" message with no option for human contact.  I'm in Herndon, so I'd really like to avoid driving there to make a reservation in person.  It's the spouse's 60th birthday and that's where he wants to go.  

    (So far, we've made 2 reservations for 4 people via Open Table with notes to the restaurant about what we actually want.)  

    To answer my own question--yes, the note in the Open Table reservation worked.  Michael reached out to me via email and we now have a legit reservation for 8 people.  :) 

    • Like 6

  3. Has anyone figured out how to contact them directly to make a reservation?  I'm trying to do a reservation for 8 people for next Friday night but I am stuck in a loop:  Open Table says that 8 exceeds the size that can be booked at Ray's via Open Table, contact the restaurant directly.  The web page says to make reservations. . . via Open Table and doesn't list a phone #.  The phone # I can get via Yelp and web searches goes straight to an "here are our hours" message with no option for human contact.  I'm in Herndon, so I'd really like to avoid driving there to make a reservation in person.  It's the spouse's 60th birthday and that's where he wants to go.  

    (So far, we've made 2 reservations for 4 people via Open Table with notes to the restaurant about what we actually want.)  

    • Like 1

  4. A week ago, we snagged a table on the night before Boralia closed for its annual 2 week hiatus.  We opted for the $60pp (Canadian) Carte Blanche, which consists mostly of on-menu items with a few off-menu ones at the discretion of the chefs.  After identifying food allergies for the staff, the fun began.  Everything was delicious and the place is a screaming bargain.  Parking in the neighborhood is a bit of a challenge, though.  

    We started with on-menu deviled Chinese tea eggs, likely the only dish we had that I could replicate easily at home.  Then we moved on to a crudo of arctic char, also an on-menu item.  Our first off-menu item was cod cheeks fried in an algae-tinted batter, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, served over a saffron aoli.  Next came one of their signature dishes, mussels smoked with pine needles.  This is served in a smoke-filled globe which the waitstaff removes with a dramatic swirl.  This was followed by a vegetable dish, dumplings filled with squash over a tender and sweet fresh creamed corn.  Whelk was next on the menu.  The meat was removed, skewered, and served back in the shell over a slaw of shredded root vegetables.  Our meat dishes were a pepper-crusted seared bison having a 3-way relationship with parsnips (funnel cake, roasted strips, and parsnip puree) and duck breast accompanied by a seeded corn bread and chantrelles. Dessert was the weakest of the dishes, a chocolate and marscapone ganache embellished with tart fruit puree. (It was still delicious!)



  5. The current administration is taking actions that are having and will continue to have a severe impact on the restaurant scene in the US.  Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Hondurans legally in the US for decades have lost their protected status and will be sent packing soon.  Guest worker programs have been curtailed, leaving Maryland without enough crab pickers and  55% of California farmers short of workers.

    But the members of the administration are happy to dine out at establishments staffed by the very people they are trying to eject. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen amply demonstrated that yesterday in her particularly tone-deaf decision to eat at a Mexican restaurant.  

    I believe the DC restaurant community could do a service by providing recognition to the contribution of immigrants in nearly every restaurant in the region.  What would happen if our politicians, political appointees and career civil servants received a small card with each meal stating something along the lines of "this meal was prepared by immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Mexico, and Guatemala.  Termination of the Temporary Protected Status program for workers from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua will cause a restaurant labor shortage in the coming years?"  In order to avoid ICE harassment, the card would likely need to include a statement that the restaurant uses E-Verify to confirm that all workers are entitled to work in the US.  At a minimum, such cards would make it hard for our Administration to ignore the fact that they benefit from the contributions of immigrants everywhere they go. 

    • Like 3

  6. On 5/1/2018 at 3:37 PM, silentbob said:

    So we're thinking about a week-long trip to Japan next year, this time without the kids!  Which, food-wise, opens up tons of options that weren't available during our prior visit.

    Of course, high-end sushi is at the top of the list.  I can totally live with not experiencing any of the two or three-starred Ginza places.  Based on the initial research thus far, the impression that I get is that an inability to interact with non-English speaking sushi chefs about the fish/nigiri/etc. being served -- and of course we don't speak Japanese -- will inevitably limit how great the dining experience can be.  Does that sound about right?

    P.S.  We actually have no prior experience dining at sushi counters, whether in DC or elsewhere, so it seems like that has to change as well before our trip, otherwise it would likely be a waste of time and money to want the high-end sushi experience in Tokyo.

    We traveled in 2016 with a pair of 16 year-olds.  A few thoughts about sushi in Tokyo:  

    If you go to the Tsukiji fish market area, be prepared for a European experience with hawkers trying to lure you into their stalls for sushi.  It's okay, but you may get the crappy cuts that seem to be reserved for foreigners.  Still a must-do and there are plenty of good items, just make sure you eat where you want to eat and not at one of the nondescript interior stalls.

    In Ginza, we found what was supposed to be the ONE rotating sushi bar in all of Ginza, Numazuko Sushi Bar. (https://www.numazuko-bar.com/) It's on the 4th or 5th floor of a building on one of the main drags and we had two outstanding meals there.  We were the only non-Japanese but there was English on the menu and there are plenty of apps to help you with fish names anyhow.   Everything was fresh and with the rotating bar, there is no chance that you are going to get served the apprentice's cuts.  One night the server was a little slow to ask us about alcohol and the 2 adults rolled out stuffed, without booze, for $30.  

    We stayed at a Ryokan in Kyoto on one splurge night and they set us up with an insanely good kaiseki restaurant; the kids had shabu shabu with local Ome beef (think Kobe but in the Kyoto locale, it is supposed to be even more marbled than Kobe) while we grazed our way through course after course of little gems consisting of Ome beef or impeccably fresh fish, often with interesting accompaniments.  The advice we'd gotten was to wait for Kyoto or Osaka to go all out on a meal; the value is better there. 

    If I was going to Japan without the younger one we took with us, definitely Ryokan experience that was more romantic than what we did.  A higher end sushi than we did and at least a couple more fine dining experiences.  

    • Like 1
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  7. We continue to use the at-the-time revolutionary Haggadah published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis in the 70's. (https://www.amazon.com/Passover-Haggadah-New-Union-Haggadah/dp/B000WG2H8A/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1522935306&sr=8-5&keywords=haggadah+central+conference) It has gone through multiple revisions, ridding itself of more and more sexist language with each edition.  I'm not sure exactly how long the service is, but it is beautifully timed so that my garlic crusted leg of lamb is finished about the time we serve the matzoh ball soup.  Our non-Jewish friends find it easy to follow.

    Of particular relevance is a list of modern plagues which precedes the traditional 10 plagues.  The section reads:

    Each drop of wine we pour is hope and prayer that people will cast out the plagues that threaten everyone everywhere they are found, beginning in our own hearts:

    The making of war, the teaching of hate and violence, despoliation of the earth, perversion of justice and government, fomenting of vice and crime, neglect of human needs, oppression of nations and peoples, corruption of culture, subjugation of science, learning and human discourse, the erosion of freedoms.

    Of course, the 11th plague is the horrible desserts of Passover, so to bring us back onto a food topic:

    • The chocolate chip cookie recipe on Trader Joe's almond flour bag makes a pretty decent cookie.  It isn't pretty, but taste-wise it beats the pants off most other Passover cookies, including commercial ones. 
    • The Queen Mother's Cake (Maida Heatter's meticulously detailed recipe) is made kosher for Passover by a substitution of matzo meal for breadcrumbs.  They are just used to dust the springform pan for this almond-chocolate torte, so they have very little impact on flavor.  This is the "I can't believe it's pesadik" cake I used to bring into my heavily Jewish workplace.  
    • The almond-walnut cookies by Joan Nathan that the NYTimes featured this year were definitely Not Worth The Effort.  
    • We found a use for sweet kosher wine!  I poached pears in it with cinnamon and orange juice, then reduced 5 cups of liquid into about half a cup to make a syrup to pour over the pears. 
    • Like 1

  8. NoVA members--have you found decent horseradish root this year?  My local (Herndon/Sterling area) Giant and Asian market had sad horseradish that was either entirely desiccated or both limp and moldy.  MoM's and TJ's didn't have it at all.  4 grocery stores in 1 day is enough for me so if you've seen nice horseradish, please speak up!  

  9. On 3/18/2018 at 8:53 PM, ktmoomau said:

    Yes, I have been looking for one that looks professional that I can use for my work laptop, that will maybe fit a file or two (not legal size), so I could walk from the metro with it to my Tysons office, but my laptop is quite big, it's been hard to find one.

    Look at the Swissgear line.  I have a Thinkpad that measures  14.8 x 9.8x 1.1 inches.  It's a beast of a machine but the way I work requires the biggest screen I can get so I can have multiple documents displaying side by side but still readable.  It fits in my Swissgear and I once managed to shove 2 of them in there.  In addition, the Swissgear line offers TSA-friendly bags that can be zipped open to go through security without removing the laptop.  There are zipped side pouches that can stow an umbrella and water bottle. The downside?  A huge number of road warriors have them, so you will almost certainly want to customize the outside of yours with a distinctive tag so you can grab it quickly from the lineup of them at the back of the room when you attend a meeting.  Mine sports a Yoda lego mini-fig.  Locally, Microcenter has a huge selection of computer bags if you want to inspect them in person.  

    • Like 2

  10. For those seeking visually attractive fermentation jars, check your local Home Goods.  Post X-mas, the one in Ashburn had Mortier Pilon kits at less than half retail price.  These are attractive glass jars with a ceramic weight and plastic surroundings, including an air lock.  The glass is not thermal shock proof so you don't want to use boiling water to sanitize.  Currently working on a batch of pickled daikon after my napa kimchi worked out well.  I have developed a crustacean allergy so making my own kimchi is now the safest way for me to be sure my kimchi is free of the tasty salted shrimp that are in so many commercial versions.  


    • Like 1

  11. 2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

    If someone wants to reserve a location, I'll pay for everything.

    For warm weather events, my HOA in the Herndon area has a large field with a paved sports court that we use for our various social events, but no water, power, or potties.  Port-o-potties can be rented.  The upside is that it is private property which means that alcohol is NOT a problem.  I can provide a reasonable amount of water for handwashing, etc.  One of the neighbors who borders the field might well let us run a power line in exchange for delicious food.   Does anyone else have an HOA that might have better facilities available?


  12. I should have posted this long before.  Given the current political climate, I know there are people who are no longer comfortable at their family gatherings.  Might people with extra space/food be interested in getting matched up with members with similar political and food leanings?   Some of the most stress free holiday meals I've attended were potlucks with friends.

    We can probably squeeze 2 in for Thanksgiving, but since we're Jewish, we're happy to host for an alternative Xmas day dinner if people are interested.  

    Ours is a non-smoking, meat-eating cat-free home, with extremely liberal politics.  We don't care what your religion is as long as you're tolerant, love good food, and don't reek of perfume or patchouli (makes me sneeze like crazy).   All normal food allergens are present.  I have a crustacean allergy but people can bring food with them, just label it please.  Standard poodles present, dog hair tumbleweeds are not.   We will try really hard to work with your pronouns; our chowpup is transgender (and how'd he get to be 18 already?).  

    • Like 5

  13. On 2/21/2017 at 1:14 PM, Genevieve said:

    Ray's the Steaks would also work well if you'd do a trip to Arlington, unless you wanted the full fancy steakhouse experience. All our meals there have been excellent, with very good service, and the price is less.

    Staff at Rays has never been less than gracious to my son, and he was about that age when we first started going there.  

  14. ATL

    I suggest that you avoid Mustard Seed BBQ at Terminal D in the Atlanta Airport.  As a final insult to my travel day (the flight was delayed by over 4 hours, followed by opening the door at 1:45 am to a hotel room that had clearly NOT been made up after the prior tenant), I enjoyed a violent case of food poisoning for the first day of a 4 day, 2 city trip this week. Was it the pulled pork or the potato salad?  I have a pretty robust immune system but whichever it was, it was too damned much.    

  15. In the event that you choose to make your own (I'm a fan of Maida's version of Craig Clairborne's), and it calls for lemon zest:  

    After zesting the lemon, which I do using the Cuisinart (the whole lemon goes into the feeder tube with ZERO pressure where it bounces around on the grater blade, doing a pretty thorough job in seconds), switch to the regular blade, add the sugar for the recipe, and give it a few more seconds until the lemon rind is as fine as you want it.  

    I stumbled into this when I felt the lemon rind was not as finely grated as I wanted and was trying to figure out how to chop it more in the Cuisinart without turning it into mush.

    This method infuses your sugar with lemon oil.  Combined with an extended beating of the cream cheese with a good stand mixer, you have the base for a darned good cheesecake. 

    • Like 1

  16. There is now a  decent pho, bahn mi and boba tea shop in Sterling adjacent to the NOVA campus. TeaBreak is at 46850 S Cottage Rd #100, Sterling, VA 20164.  The K-mart plaza (soon to be K-martless) in Herndon hosts Charcoal Kabob, and there are several Indian restaurants in the area, most of which offer buffets at lunch time.  The exception is in the K-mart plaza itself, where an order-at-the counter Indian place (I think it is Indian Baker, used to be Hot Breads) has a good selection of dosa.  

    The Herndon area has a number of good Thai restaurants.  While there are others, I am fond of Thai by Thai and Thai Luong.  Thai by Thai is order at the counter and has a "not-so-secret" Thai menu with the more exciting dishes, while Thai Luong is a much fancier venue with an addictive the basil duck.  

    • Like 1

  17. On 5/12/2017 at 3:55 PM, saf said:

    I have "gelato by lello" and love it, although I have had it for so many years now that I am sure there is a new model out. We use it regularly. It does take up space, and was a big investment, but we use it a LOT more than we would use one that required freezer space.

    Oh, and my favorite ice cream recipe book is "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz. He has a (now dated, but still useful) post about ice cream makers here.

    I have one of those as well.  I think it was my 40th birthday present to myself.  It is starting to yellow with age but continues to work the few times a year we call upon it.  

  18. 2 hours ago, ScotteeM said:

    I had an unfortunate experience at Whole Foods in Fair Lakes last year. I asked that a hanger steak be cut lengthwise, meaning to cut along the connective tissue--I assumed that was clear. Couldn't see what the meat cutter was doing, so I got home with a hanger steak cut lengthwise horizontally--two thin halves with connective tissue down the middle. Won't do that again!

    I'm not close to Herndon, but I think there's a Fresh World in Alexandria. I might stop by there some time and see what they have. Thanks for the tip!

    Miscut hanger stead.jpg

    I'm surprised that would happen at Whole Foods, but I would NOT be surprised if it happened at an Asian market.  I see hanger steak in HMart's cases all the time, as fairly thin slices, done across the full, unseparated hangar steak. :(  Different cultural preferences, I know.  Still, it makes me sad because I am very fond of hangers and I can't quite see enjoying having to slice the separating tissue out of every individual piece while eating.  

    • Like 1
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