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MAdinolfi78
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Thanks! It was a lot of fun. Chef Ziebold said a lot of other interesting things, and added a lot of details that either got edited out of the posted piece (which was originally about seven pages, single-spaced in Word), and a lot of things that never made it into the draft I submitted. A lot of it really gives you an insight into Chef Ziebold's thought process in making dishes, and also some more about how to support artisanal suppliers from the perspective of the restaurant industry - to the benefit of all of us. I've started posting some of these things on my own blog, and intend to post more excerpts soon.

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As much as I hate shilling, I figured I would post occasionally on a few of the more pertinent features we're doing on DCist. In the next few months I have some interesting things planned.

There's an article today about how Hook is doing now that Barton Seaver and Josh Whigham have left. A quick summary of it is the food is about the same with a few minor letdowns, but in this one instance the service left something to be desired. If you want the details, you can check it out.

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Tyler Cowen interviewed by dcist:

Chewing the Fat: Tyler Cowen and his Ethnic Dining Guide

Most people wouldn't ask an economist where to get dinner. But Tyler Cowen, a professor at George Mason University and author of the economics blog Marginal Revolution, has become an unlikely food critic with the popularity of his expansive Ethnic Dining Guide. Grounded in basic economic principles, Cowen's somewhat unusual dining philosophy has allowed him to discover arguably some of the best ethnic restaurants in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Last week, Cowen spoke to DCist about his dining habits, the economy, and the future of ethnic cuisine in the District.

What compelled you to start writing your Ethnic Dining Guide?

At first my dining guide was a typewritten reference, for myself only. That was before the web. Then I xeroxed a few copies for friends. As the web came along, the whole thing grew. Now it is quite long, well over one hundred pages single-spaced I believe.

Why focus on ethnic food rather than traditional fine dining? Were you always an adventurous eater?

All food is ethnic food, in my view, fine dining too. I try to cover as much fine dining as I can. But two things limit me. First, I am not wealthy. Second, I don't think this is a very good area for fine dining. I'd rather save up my money for periodic trips to Europe and other places. Right now Washington doesn't have a single truly first-rate restaurant in the fine dining sense.

When I was a kid I wouldn't eat much more than hamburger, fish and chips, and veal parmigiana. I still love those dishes, at least if they are done properly.

You've traveled to 65 different countries. When faced with a cuisine you've never tried before, what are your strategies for selecting a restaurant and making the most out of an unfamiliar menu?

I think it is over 70 countries by now. I try to go local. I look for proximity to fresh ingredients. I look for downscale food in a competitive environment, in places where the proprietor is close at hand. When it comes to the menu, I ask or I copy other people. I don't choose what to me sounds like it will taste best. That's a mistake usually.

When you try a restaurant for the first time, what are you looking for in terms of quality dining experience?

The quality of food matters above all else. I'll put up with any kind of decor -- dumpy, snobby, or whatever -- for superb food. I enjoy the quest to get there as well.

Economic times seem pretty uncertain, if not altogether bleak, right now. Do you have any thoughts about how an economic downturn will affect ethnic restaurants in particular?

I expect the real estate crash to help ethnic restaurants, overall. Many places get priced out of existence by high rents, and lower rents will help avoid that. If things stay bad, however, the dwindling of immigrants (yes, the numbers are already down) will hurt a great deal.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article on why Chinese food isn't "hip." Why do you think some ethnic cuisines have gone upscale while others have not?

I'm delighted that Chinese food isn't hip. Thai food is "hip" and that's more or less ruined it. Most "Chinese" food in this country is abominable, but the good Sichuan places and the like are very tasty and in no danger of being ruined by mass popularity.

What sort of changes have you noticed in the local dining scene? Where do you see it going next? Are there any particular cuisines that are on the rise or fall?

Latino cuisines continue to grow in relative terms, and that is driven by immigration and also birth rates. Sichuan seems to have kept a foothold. Good Cantonese doesn't seem sustainable because the ingredients are too hard to come by in the proper quality. Indian continues to get better. Ethiopian remains solid and is getting better. Afghan is actually making a comeback. I predict the further spread of good Chinese and Indian.

Currently, what are you favorite places to eat in the D.C. metro area?

I love Thai X-ing (DC), Meaza (Baileys Crossroad), Nava Thai (Wheaton), Hong Kong Palace (Falls Church), China Star (Fairfax), Bombay Indian (Silver Spring) and Angeethi (Herndon), plus just about everything Vietnamese in Eden Center (Falls Church). The 9th Street Ethiopian row is very good as well, and also Zenenbech, up on Florida/U/5th or so. Those places are very good and I can eat at them more or less without limit. There aren't many places around as good as those.

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DCist's Alicia Mazzara on making deep fried pumpkin hand pies. The pictures are quite worth the read.
This is great, I was just trying to explain my Talladega AL grandmother's fried pies to a Denver native, and I wasn't getting across...("So you're saying it's like a flauta, but with pie filling?" "Well, more like a sweet empanada, only big enough to fill your whole hand, and more like a pie crust folded over than empanada dough..."), now I can e-mail her a photographic illustration.

Mama Hurst didn't do PUMPKIN pie filling though...

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Didn't think this warranted mention in the Events and Gatherings thread, but DCist is hosting their Exposed Photography Show Reception on March 6 from 6-10 p.m. at the Longview Gallery. For the first time, we've definitely put a lot of emphasis on having a nice bar and some good food. The event features a spiced rum punch from Scott Palmer of Dino, tastings from Leopold Brothers, three wines from Downey Selections, hors d'ouerves from Nage, and just for contrast PBR. Entrance to the reception is $5.

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