Jump to content

PollyG

Members
  • Content Count

    423
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    6

Everything 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. 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.
  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.)
  4. PollyG

    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    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.
  6. PollyG

    Japan

    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.
  7. PollyG

    Passover

    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.
  8. PollyG

    Horseradish Root

    Thanks. Our WF in Reston was a bust, but the Dulles Wegmans had nice horseradish.
  9. PollyG

    Horseradish Root

    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!
  10. PollyG

    Backpacks

    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.
  11. Depending upon the crowd: Erotic Baker Cookbook I just checked my bookshelf and I still have the copy I bought on remainder in graduate school. It is available for loan.
  12. 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.
  13. We swear by it too. When your hands are in the dough, you notice the difference. KA has a beautiful silky feel.
  14. PollyG

    dr.com Picnics - It Has Been a Long Time

    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?
  15. 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?).
  16. Staff at Rays has never been less than gracious to my son, and he was about that age when we first started going there.
  17. PollyG

    Dining at Airports

    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.
  18. PollyG

    Fried Tarantula

    Thanks, Don. I really wanted more insomnia. I ran into a reference about Hawaiians roasting and eating the big cane spiders. That one's also a big no thanks.
  19. PollyG

    Cheesecake

    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.
  20. PollyG

    Paid Parking Slowly Killing Reston Town Center?

    Free evening parking was such an obvious solution. The RTC restaurants have a fairly captive audience at lunch but paid parking makes them a less attractive option for dinner.
  21. 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.
  22. PollyG

    Ice Cream Machines

    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.
  23. PollyG

    Hanger Steak

    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.
  24. PollyG

    Hanger Steak

    I have been finding my whole hanger steaks at the Fresh World on Elden Street in Herndon. They're sold in vac pacs. In general, I'm not thrilled with this store; aisles are narrow and packed high, so it has this sort of closed in, foreboding feel to it. But they have a HUGE meat selection. They are also a good source for beef bones; unlike a lot of places they do not mix the bone types up which is nice if you are seeking a specific bone type for your stock. The effort involved in splitting the two sides from the bit of connective tissue is minor and at $4.99/lb, yes, I'll make the effort.
  25. PollyG

    Low- and no-carb recipes

    Don't read the reviews for those with a mouth full of liquid. I sent 5lb of an off-brand (same results if eaten in quantity) when the occupiers of the Malheur wildlife refuge asked for snacks. Following the arrests, I contacted the local food bank to warn them to beware of any sugar free items that might be donated by that group. That was an interesting exchange, but the food bank rep was gracious about it.
×