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About deangold

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    Van Lingle Mungo
  • Birthday 08/29/1957

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  • Interests
    Opera, Sondheim, wine
  • Location
    Annandale Adjacent

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  1. Truly dispiriting restaurant week lunch at Ambar. Only one dish stood out and that was an off menu improvization suggested by the incredibly nice and friendly bartender. Their restaurant week offer is unlimited small plates for $22. NOT A DEAL! I ordered a mojito which the bartender spashed with soda. I prefer my mojitos without the soda splash but this one was very well made, not too sweet, nicely limey. A good start I thought. Then the food started rolling Mezze platter started off strong with bresaola {called beef prosciutto} and lamb prosciutto {which I suspect was really duck.} These were both excellent and along with the mojito I was pattingmyself on the back for my second excellent pick for restaurant week. But hubris preceeds a fall. The rest of the mezze platter was boring to bad. There was some red glop and orange glop with didn't have enough flavor to suggest what they were. There was a whipped substance that could have been mascarpone, cream, butter or other bland ingredients. It was unplesant but at least there was a lot of it. The breads, two little slider buns I presume, wee homemade and dry. Grilled Asparagus was as you would expect, out of season, boring sauce, fried quail egg {which was good but just nog big enough to tip the scale to good. Again, out of season asparagus is usually mildly flavorless but this took flavorless to a new height except the perfect flavorlessness was marred by a weird bitterness. Piquillo Peppers were absolutely unrecognized or tasted under the wet, gloppy and bland breading. The sauce had no flavor to break the monotony. Tartar was actually scary. A small puddle of meatish looking glop, very runny, clearly dried out from sitting on the plate too long. I was almost scared to try it but throwing caution to the wind, I took a nibble and it was barely edible with a caper that gave it some zing. The only zing tot he meal so far. However, the taste did not reveal if this was steak, lamb, puppy, or random roadkill. The next bite, motivated to solve the mistery more than desire to eat more, revealed a crunch that could have been a stale pretzel, a stale corn nut or some unknown crunchy substance that contributed a crunch and salt but devoid of any flavor whatsoever. In retrospect the dish resembled dog food without as offensive an aroma. I have never tasted dog food so I can't compare the flavor. A tiny portion but gosh darned awful {the best thing I could say about it.} At this point, I wasn't really hungry just craving some flavors of actual food. I looked at the stuffed pepper and the stuffed sour cabbage on the menu, and asked he bartender which to have. He suggested the cabbage on a bed of mashed potato. While not outstanding, or even good, it actually tasted decent. About as good as the stuffed cabbage I get in the can from Yekta supermarket. There may have been more dishes but my memory is blissfully free of them. Great service. The tartar may have suffered from it being Restaurant Week, but nothing show any indication of a ounce of effort at making food taste good. I really want the space in my stomach back to fill it with something good like cup o'noodles.
  2. Superb restaurant week lunch. Sat at the bar. 1st course was a charcuterie plate with two kinds of salumi and a wedge of smooth liver pate. The pate was amazing! Smooth, balanced, rich without being too rich. The bread basket was very good with crusty breads in two shapes. 2nd course: greens, vegetables in a tangy dressing. Main course: croque monsieur was simply fantastic. My first croque monsieur was at Disneyland in the 60's and this version brought back memories of my eating that first sandwich with fork and knife. I wish they would put it on the bar menu at night. I took the 2 aps option and did not have a dessert. Their desserts are usually fabulous but I was not in a sweets mood. Cocktail: Head of state, a Manhattan spn, very good and well made. Great lunch, nice atmosphere. In fairness, Christophe, Michelle and I have a friendship based on our many evenings spent at food events. But my first two courses came out before Michele knoew who I was and Christophe was ot running errands.
  3. Thursday night: Kay cooked. Kimchi jigae w/mushrooms, tofu & rice. Vegetarian. Then amazing baby bananas from HMart Fairfax. Tiny and custardy. Makkoli
  4. More leftovers. Frozen mushroom enchilladas w/home made salsas. Great remainder of the bottle of Vinco Biancoperso. Value prives orange imported by Williams Corner. Tangy, almost apricot/peach but in a not too fruity way. Last of the Kirk & Sweeney 23 year rum.
  5. Left overs. Kimchi Jigae from the freezer, rice, kimchi, sauerkraut. Boulevardier. Old Granddad w/Luxardo Aperitivo, Capitoline white, Biter Truth celery bitters and Peychaud's whiskey barrel bitters Kay: Negroni w/Brokers gin, Cocchi rosa, Luxardo bitters. Last of our first batch of homemade vanilla gelato.
  6. I did a catering earlier this week and we made Pork Belly Porchetta. There was a small section of belly that wasn't needed for the event so tonight I roasted it. I had my brand new chef's alarm leave in probe thermometer from Thermoworks so it was extra fun. Over 3 hours at 3 hundred followed by 20 minutes at 515 {should hae been 500 so it got a little browner than I wanted. Served with pork dripping roasted potato. Wine: 1981 Pine Ridge Stag's Leap Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon. Our second 1981 Napa cab is fine shape at almost 37 years of age.
  7. Met up with some good friends for dinner here Saturday night, Wg=hen we arrie=ved they had already started on humus which was certainly pleasant if a little bland. Good pita. We added a walnut spread and babaganough orders and both were fine, especially the walnut. Entrees consisted of a mixed grill and a grilled whole bronzino. The fish was well cooked but bland as bronzino tends to be. It came with a good arugula salad. The mixed grill was huge and it was the grill for two. Beef shish kabob was juicy, tender. The Adana was nicely spiced and unusually juicy. The donner was spectacular. Very well seasoned, crispy on one side but still juicy. There were 2 chicken chops, a flattened bit of meat with a bone attached. We brought a bottle of 2000 David Bruce Petite Sirah which they opened with a $20 corkage. The corkage is per table and not per bottle but we only had the one bottle. Being a 19 year old wine, I asked to pen it myself and instead of the near universal resistance to that request, the server just handed us the corkscrew. The wine was stunning: very thick and viscous, loads of spice, very lively. It went perfectly with the spiced meats. The service was casual and very friendly and warm. It had a family feel to it but I don't kow if the servers are related tot he owner who checked in on us. We were too full for dessert. I did not see the bill but the menu pricing was pretty reasonable, especially given the quality and quantity. The food portion was under $35 a persona and we left nicely full. Good place and we will be back. I want to heck out their lunch sandwiches.
  8. Huge pot of mussels, vanilla gelato Drinks 50/50 martini w/green hat, Capitoline white {sweet} vermouth, bitter truth lemon bitters, Peychaud's bitters, blood orange peel twist for Kay Same but the 50% vermouth was half Dolin dry and half Capitoline. Kay's was better. We are really enjoying "sweet" martinis. Might have to try a martini w/old tom gin.
  9. Mussels and clams w/ white wine, garlic & herbs on spaghettini. Seylou pane de campagne Vanilla ice cream
  10. Brisket. Pineapple. Persimmon. Red wine: Cesanese Volpetti.
  11. Very attractive place with some fake brick and roof tiles, lots of minimalist paintings, some old looking furniture. 2pm lunch. Two employees were head down and asleep at two tables. XLB are superb as mentioned. They are thin skinned, & full of juice. The soy dipping sauce was unusually sweet and thee was neither vinegar or hot chile oil on the able nor did I ask. $8.95 for 6 dumplings is very expensive. $8.25/7.25 at Bob's 66/Shanghai Taste. The non dumpling dishes seemed to be suffering from new restuarant jitters: Cold cucumbers were not good: bitter, salty, no garlic, tasted of not being brined enough. They did have a really good pickled hot pepper element. Hand pulled noodles w/Beef Offal {note they were out of the hand cut noodles I wanted}: the broth did not taste deeply beefy, noodles got soft very quickly and never carried the broth nor absorbed flavor. The beef bits were good but not a lot. Just tripe, tendon & brisket/shank meat. This would have been superior as a dry noodle. I will be back for the XLB and will try some more menu exploration. Will try a tuesday thru thursday so they have time to catch up from the weekend. They are right across the street from Smoking Kow so maybe next time just XLB na d a rib or some brisket.
  12. Leftovers: fish tripe, fish row, fermented calamari, laver, steak. rice {japanese rice with germ} Drink: Makkoli Draft & Soju
  13. Finally put a new toy to the test: Cuisinart Ice-21 This ia a feeze the bowl style maker and takes 20 minutes to make a quart and a cup or so of ice cream. Ours got a huge amount of overruna nd given the custard technique I used, it seems to spec up to our gelato from the Taylor 104 Batch Freezer from the old days. The gelato comes out a little soft but delicious. You could easily sit and eat a bowl right from the machine. We packed ours off to the freezer to harden a little. I use a vanilla bean and Old Granddad instead of vanilla extract. Next up will be matcha and chocolate. I am going to add the matcha to the custard just before adding it to the bowl. My chocolate will use an extra egg yolk {6 instead of 5} and cocoa powder. Pistachio and Nutella in the queue after. 2 batches cost about $11 or $12 before the flavoring, and gives you more than 2 pints. WIth Haagen Daaz and Talenti over $5 this will pay off in no time. Of course letting out our pants' waistbands may offset some of the savings.
  14. I got 5 live abalone, small black ones. They were on sale but mosto f them were dead. I looked for ones stuck to another shell and so we got live ones. You first free the meat with a spoon and leave the live behind. I tried one of the livers and they are delicious but incredibly viscous. Very weird. Once the muscle is free, you cut off the hard bit that sticks to the neck of the muscle if it does not come off in shelling. Next there is a ring of slimy black stuff that was very hard. If I had been more energetic, I would have chopped the black bits for a chowder or a fritter. We ate the first one raw with lemon & salt. Amazing if only lightly flavored. The next ones we pan fried, the first naked and the last two with potato starch. Cooked they were incredible. Somewhat like veal sweetbreads but lighter with more of a custardy texture. One thing to note, you need to pound the abalone and they have a tendency to fly from between the plastic wrap and land across the room. My personal best is 8 feet. At $2.49 and 7 minutes of intense spoon and knife work, you can damn well be sure we rinsed them off and ate the little suckers! These are farmed abalone and H Mart brought in a huge shipment for the grand opening of the Fairfax flagship store and their price has been steadily declining. But live is live. I also braised a brisket and we had several slices off the deckle. Red wine, onion, carrot & celery herb puree softened with some of the glace di viande I made last weekend. We have 6 meals from 2/3 of the brisket for future dinners. H Mart has some octopus on sale so we enjoyed that with soy and wasabi. A few slices of Stachowski sausages bought from Jamie himself this AM at the Falls Church farmers' market. Pepperoni, linguisa and something else. Jamie is a sausage genius. Half a pineapple. Spin on a Perfect Manhattan rerun: Burrough's Bourbon, Cocchi Rosa, Cocchi Americano, Peychaud's aromatic bitters, Luxardo cherry.
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