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    Takoma Park, MD
  1. Had dinner at Doi Moi last night with friends, and really enjoyed it. I was apprehensive because I have celiac disease and can't eat gluten -- and worried the whole day before about there not being anything for me to eat other than sticky rice. I was damn happy to have been proven wrong. In fact, they have a special menu sheet for people who choose or medically have to be on special diets (gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian) and there were a lot of options for me in the gluten-free category (12+ dishes plus sides). I ended up getting the following: Kai Dao -- fried duck egg over jasmine rice with garlic, red chilies, and fish sauce; Bo Tai Chan -- shaved raw beef (eye of round), lime, holy basil, cilantro, chilies, bean sprouts, and peanuts; and Gaeng Ped Yang -- duck breast in red curry with pineapple, cherry tomatoes, sweet basil, and kaffir lime leaf. Am I an expert on the nuances or traditions of Asian cuisine? No. Am I an expert on food with great flavor? Sure, why not. I thoroughly enjoyed all three of my dishes, with the shaved beef and duck breast being the clear standouts. The beef salad had a nice balance of crisp, crunch, and heartiness, and the duck breast in curry sauce had just enough heat for me (I can't stand uber-hot curries; they make me cough all night and I just don't enjoy my palate being nuked like that). Don't get me wrong: the duck egg was really good, too. It's just that the other two were head and shoulders above and I was pleasantly surprised about that. I drank an alborino/vinho verde, and it held up nicely to everything. The only wine wish I have is that they'd offer a rosé (non-sparkling) by the glass. That's what I was craving. Our server, Jacob (I think that was his name), was very nice, appropriately attentive, and kept the water and wine flowing at a smooth pace. The room was packed (even for a Wednesday night), and yet the food was well-paced, served at the right temperature, and the runners did a great job of clearing as we went so the table didn't feel crammed and messy. I have a feeling Doi Moi will get added to my list of "favorite places for solo dining at the bar" because there's so much for me to choose from, and it would be fun to just take my time with it all (I'm not much of a sharer) .
  2. A group of eleven of us did the family-style nose-to-tail beef dinner Saturday night, and I'm still grinning ear-to-ear. Here's what we had: Carne Cruda -- diced Gretna Farms tenderloin, shaved reggiano cheese, lemon, olive oil So tender, so light, so flavorful, and a wonderful start to the night. Brodo -- turnip raviolini, slivers of Gretna Farms beef shoulder, vegetable garnish, in a rich, clear oxtail broth I had mine without the raviolini (I have celiac, so no pasta for me), but didn't feel deprived in the least. The consomme was mind-blowingly good. The mushrooms and vegetables were tender and light. And, everything about this course made us all pause and realize what a treat we were in for that night. Spiedini d'Amore -- grilled beef heart from Roseda Farms; house-cured beef tongue from Roseda Farms; puntarella; watermelon radish and herb salad; salsa verde; caramelized onions Holy shitballs... this course was phenomenal. The heart was rich and tender, and cooked beautifully. The tongue was sliced so thin, and practically melted in the mouth. The puntarella was crisp and delicious, and I am still wishing I'd eaten more of the radish salad -- it was cool and crisp and crunchy and really lovely. The salsa verde and caramelized onions were perfect accompaniments. Oxtail and beef cheek "Vaccinara" -- with toasted vermicelli I will remember this dish as long as I live. Again, I didn't have the pasta (which the rest of the table RAVED about -- he toasts it before cooking it), but the oxtail and beef cheek "stew" had a tomato sauce base with cinnamon, plump golden raisins, carrots, pancetta, onion, and garlic. This is, without a doubt, the best thing I've eaten in a year. No joke. This dish was outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. It made me wanna hug Frank and never let him go. Wood-grilled steak (from Roseda Farms; dry-aged 6 weeks) with cannellini beans, braised escarole, and horseradish cream The beans were done in a light tomato-y broth, with rosemary and other seasonings. Tender and smooth. Escarole was amazing. The steak was gorgeous, but that horseradish cream? Wowzers. I want to make it at home, and eat it every single day for the rest of my life. Meadow Creek Dairy "Grayson" -- cheese course; with fig compote and Tyrolean almond bread. I had to eat the cheese on its own, and I'll warn you: it's of the stank-ass variety. If you loooove stinky cheese, this is the one for you. I unfortunately couldn't have the bread (or the fig compote, since it was on the same plate as the bread), but the rest of the table raved about the cheese with the figs and the bread, so there you go. Buttermilk ice cream with rhubarb compote and cornmeal cookies This was sent out to the table in a giant boat with about 20 scoops of ice cream. Compote on the side. Just the right amount of sweet. So smooth and creamy, and a perfect end to a perfect night. Total time at the table: 4.5 hours. Make this reservation, if you can (parties of six or more). This is a dinner not to miss. We still can't believe it's only $65 per person.
  3. Stopped by for an early dinner tonight and had the chicken, which was better than it's ever been. Sides: turnip gratin, brussels sprouts-walnut-pecorino salad, and the roasted sweet potatoes. Glass of rose. Really couldn't have been a more perfect Friday night dinner.
  4. I went on Saturday (unusual for me, but it was a friend's celebratory dinner), and had the Merluzzo, poached Atlantic cod with snails, guanciale, wild mushrooms, and parsley, and was a very happy girl. I think I'm in love with this place because, as someone with celiac, I can eat Italian food, be well taken care of with myriad options on the menu, and never be in fear that I'm going to get glutened. Nick and the team in the kitchen just get it, and for that I am forever grateful. Service has always been top-notch, and let's not forget Douglas Hernandez. He's putting out some of the best desserts in Washington right now, no joke. They're still doing the lunch special, and having dinner at the bar is one of my favorite past-times these days because Milton makes some pretty damn fine cocktails.
  5. :::: sob sob sob sob sob sob sob :::: "Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyy......"
  6. From The Washington Post: Famed DC Chef Loses Court Battle
  7. Went to Palena for dinner tonight and ate in the new space. I love sitting in the back and being able to see all the goings-on in the kitchen. And the room smells amazing. Split the deviled eggs with my dining companion. I had a glass of the rosé and the chicken, he had a Belgian beer and the burger. We both thought they were even better than the last time we'd had them (a month or so ago). Buttermilk panna cotta with grapefruit curd for dessert, which was so good we were nearly speechless. Drove home smiling all the way. Looking forward to eating from the other menu in a week or two. I love the staff, and have the utmost respect for Frank and the business he's built. I'll continue to support the restaurant no matter what the configuration because the food is fucking good, the service is outstanding, the prices are affordable, and everyone is treated with respect.
  8. Had dinner tonight at CityZen and can testify that Matthew is a fantastic chef. The entire meal was fantastic (the coffee ice cream with dessert was amazing), and service was as excellent as ever. The risotto and the venison were favorites, for me. And the quail. And the matsutake. Oh, and the lobster. And the.... well, everything, honestly.
  9. Fantastic! Thanks, everyone.
  10. Has anyone seen fresh, whole passion fruit anywhere in the area? I've started to call around and begin the search, but thought I'd see if any of you have laid your eyes on these lovely gems in the past few weeks while you've been out shopping. I need about a dozen of them. Thanks. C
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