Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tequilaccinos and Immigration Research

I know, I've been really bad about posting...what with the winter malaise and the new job (doing immigration policy research) and all. The past few weeks have been really bad weather-wise and the only two things that staved off the depression and frigid temperatures (not to mention served as a thematic nod to my new gig) were scrumptious gigante vegetarian nachos at my neighborhood sexy Mexy restaurant, Merkado, and a walk home to my place to make capuccino spiked with Tequila (aka Tequilaccino--see recipe below):

2 shots espresso

2 shots tequila

place ingredients in cup, mix, sip (FYI: Don Julio is to be sipped. Always.)

Now that it's not so violently cold out, I will be sure to post more often (and drink less distilled spirits).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Love, Loneliness, and Despair in a Basket: A Valentine's Trip to the Grocery Store

(Pictured: Actual plate of rare rack of lamb with broccoli-cauliflower puree I made for Valentine's dinner.)

Last night, I went to two different grocery stores to purchase the ingredients for the love: herb and pepper encrusted rack of lamb (with broccoli-cauliflower puree). You can tell so much about someone's state of mind, politics, sexual orientation, coupling status, and (gulp) socio-economic station by just peeking into his grocery basket. Since I'm a voyeur by nature, I can never help but look (and stare).

I first went to the Giant grocery store in Columbia Heights, a neighborhood that is on the cusp and is still "turning over." I love this store for all its heterogeneity. It caters to all the disperate contingencies in the neighborhood. The contrast of the large isle full of Goya products, hot bar of fried items, and deli full of artisenal cheese is a sight to behold. They had almost everything that I needed except for the fresh rack of lamb and the wheat baguette. Anyway, while I was in line, I spied despair behind me: twelve Banquet frozen dinners, a bag of pre-rinsed iceberg lettuce (yellowed), Miracle Whip, ranch dressing, and two-liter of Dr. Pepper. He was a young white man, perhaps a graduate student, definitely straight, likely middle of the road politically. (I mean, who else but a poor, single, marginally Republican man would eat this stuff?)

Then I went to Whole Foods in the recently gentrified (for better or worse) neighborhood of Logan Circle to purchase the meat and bread. In line there was a middle aged man, slender, probably gay, obviously liberal. He was sad. I knew this from the single serving tray of prepared summer rolls, bottle of Cab, and pint of butter pecan Hagan Daas. I wanted to wish him a happy Valentine's but realized it would be lame...and self-serving and self-righteous. He was lonely and eager to smile at the indifferent check out girl on her Bluetooth. I should have let him have all that in private. I'm an assh*le for looking and watching and judging.

...But back to my superficial reality: the lamb turned out well. I, however, really messed up the creme brulee. It's just as well--the ramekins were a dumb and gleeful heart shape. No one should eat from something shaped like a heart.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Amy's--Not Just for Doves Anymore

Despite the fact that I regularly shave my armpits and didn't vote for Kerry, I find this stuff scrumptious (

...I also rest easy knowing that it doesn't contain any GMO's (genetically modified ingredients)--no cloned three-eyed cows or super tomatoes engineered from fetal tissue and some tungsten.

For a discussion of heady things like cloning, fetal stem cell research, and science, go to: ...

(But if you're more interested in awesome things to put in your pie hole, stay here.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Diner, Testing Emo Patience

Mike and I waited 20 minutes outside The Diner (in Adams Morgan) for a table Saturday afternoon. Even at 2pm, the place was packed--filled with late risers trying to get over their hang overs with comfort food. However, standing around in the cold was worth it for a few reasons:

1) The large plate of chili cheese fries we eventually shared--the chili was actually really flavorful and you almost don't notice the orange, processed bladder cheese smothering the perfectly deep-fried potatoes.


2) This girl-->

who walked into the restaurant to see if she could get a table as her patently gay male friend waited outside. Unsuccessful, she came out, screamed, "Why the f* are idiots standing in the vestibule...why stand in the vestibule? G*d%mn idiots in the m*ther-f*$&ing vestibule..." and then walked off with patently embarrassed gay male friend.

Who says "vestibule" and why was she so angry? Mike and I pondered the latter and came up with the following:

a) no coffee, no Zoloft, no fun;

b) recouping the financial and intellectual investment on a Women's Studies degree is tough when you're a 30 year old non-profit intern (who wouldn't feel a little stressed?);

c) complaining about nothing in a strident, shrill manner is the only way a (Wellesley) woman can get ahead in Washington (who knew?).


3)...(The final reason the wait was worthwhile:) The french toast--they give you like 67 slices dusted with powdered sugar and a gluttonous array of choices for toppings (including fruit and syrup). It is absolutely to-die-for and you can get it, along with other breakfast items, 24/7!


Saturday, February 10, 2007

ILLY Coffee - Smart Financial Stewardship

David Bach, financial guru and author of the annoying "Finish Rich" series of books, coined the term "Latte Factor." He describes the concept as follows:

The Latte Factor® is based on the simple idea that all you need to do to finish rich is to look at the small things you spend your money on every day and see whether you could redirect that spending to yourself. Putting aside as little as a few dollars a day for your future rather than spending it on little purchases such as lattes, fancy coffees, bottled water, fast food, cigarettes, magazines and so on, can really make a difference between accumulating wealth and living paycheck to paycheck.

$5 per day (the average cost of a latte and a muffin) x 7 days = $35 per week;
$35/week = $150/month ;
$150 per month invested at a rate of 10% annual return =
1 year = $1,885 ; 2 years = $3,967; 5 years =$11,616; 10 years = $30,727; 15 years = $62,171 ; 30 years = $339,073; 40 years = $948,611
Take action today!

(I may still indeed retire dependent on the crumbs of Social Security, but at least I'll have good coffee to go with them.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kashi Cereal and Gender Politics

I just ate a bowl of organic seven-grain honey puffs with soy milk. Does that make me a lesbian?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Coppi's Organic = Food-Borne Porn?

Three words: lamb sausage pizza. Coppi's restaurant has two versions of the brick-oven-baked delight. Both are amazing. But I especially love the Merguez which includes the delectably rich meat with ricotta, onion, rosemary, garlic...and get this, fresh sliced cucumbers on top of a fragrant tomato sauce. The contrast of the warm and spicey lamb, bread and cheese with the cool cucumbers is probably the closest you'll ever get to a foodgasm on U Street. (Did I really just write that?)Yeah, I did. And I won't apologize. It's that awesome. But it's called Coppi's ORGANIC, kids, organic...And I'm not sure if "Coppi" is someone's name or an evil play on words. If there is some subliminal messaging scheme happening, then the dining room is part of it. It's so dark in there that you can hardly see the menu...But that's okay, 'cause once the food gets to your table, all you need to do is throw your head back, close your eyes, and enjoy.

Wow, don't expect entries like this from me again...ever. This is a family show. And Coppi's is a nice, casual neighborhood restaurant. No big frills, just good, organic northern Italian-style food.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another Reason Not to Drink TANG

The Inn at Little Washington: Luxe and Levity

No Washington DC food journal would be complete without mention of Little Washington...The Inn at (what has been nick named) "Little Washington," Virginia.

This place is a destination. It's a little over an hour's drive south of the city, and worth the time. But be prepared to take out a second mortgage for a night's stay with dinner. I once spent the night in the Mayor's House suite and enjoyed a birthday supper there. It's amazing to say the least. Rarely do I say sumptuous, but this place is that and more. Olde Virginia comes alive here and the proprietors, Patrick O'Connell (who, by the way, is the friendliest most talented-yet unassuming soul you could ever meet) and Reinhardt Lynch balance all the cozy luxe with some levity. You'll often find their dalmation dogs walking about. And when you return to your room you'll get turn-down service along with thoughtful (and hilarious) touches like human milk bone biscuits and port with a signed good night message from the dogs. I love this place! The accomodations and food are impeccable, and every detail is attended to. It's personal and custom service at their best. No wonder they've received awards and accolaids such as Relais & Chateau ratings, Michelin Stars, etc.

Despite being as amazing as it is, the establishment isn't stuffy and doesn't take itself too seriously. Go ahead, max out the card...but be sure to reserve a few months in advance...

Rooms: Start at $800 per night
Dinner for 2 w/ wine: appx $500

Ben's Chili Bowl: "Clean and Articulate"

Ben's is a steadfast DC landmark, surviving the civil rights movement, race riots, and (most recently) soft bigotry. A great place for late-night, post-drinking binges, especially if you need a grease fix and like your chili runny. For no other reason, at least visit Ben's for the history (especially this month)--the place has been around for almost 50 years.
(Tip: try the Biden special--a large bowl of crow.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Keeping Dinner Simple

I had to teach tonight, so...

Salmon is JV

I won't eat salmon as a main course. It's jv. And by jv, I mean second rate, uninteresting, amateurish. For some reason about eight or ten years ago, a lot of people got turned on to salmon. And perhaps the massification, popularization, and suburbanization of the fish has cheapened its appeal for me. If it's on the menu at Ruby Tuesday or Applebee's, I'm not ordering it up at any of my DC haunts. Same goes for chicken. I hate chicken. What do these two things have in common? Ubiquity and flavorlessness...they've gone the way of Merlot...and velour sweat suits.

Restaurant Nora: Eh - Fine, But Not the Finest

Went to Nora's tonight with Abby. It always gets rave reviews. The restaurant, despite the relatively higher price point, was pretty casual. I'm not sure about the wall hangings of various quilts and batiks, but the brick walls and white table cloths were sufficiently tasteful. At least it served as a reprieve from the pseudo-ultra-mod that is so pervasive in DC restaurants these days. The service was attentive, though the waiter seemed uninformed. Interesting wine list with cutesy characterizations. The cocktail menu of various organic concoctions struck me as a tad amateurish, if not cheesy.

Abby actually wanted a Coke with dinner, so they gave her an organic cola called Blue Sky. They're serious about their organic (almost as serious as Abby is about her soft drinks).

I had the beet salad and mushroom risotto. The beets were fine, the risotto was suprisingly light with a lot of vegetables. It didn't have the creamy and simmered texture that I'm used to, but was good nonetheless.

Abby had the blackbean soup (which was flavorful, but somewhat uninteresting), and an average looking salmon dish. (I never get salmon--wait, unless it's cured and sitting on my bagel with cream cheese, served carpaccio style or part of my maki selection.) Anyway, dessert was nice: apple pie and caramel ice cream for Abby, pear and cranberry crumble with ameretto ice cream for me. Apparently everything, including the ice cream, was made in-house. Tasty, but not overwhelmingly so.

Overall it was fine...but not the finest. I think the place might be a tad over-rated, lacking in its creativity (every restaurant in town does beet salad, salmon, risotto, etc.), and over-priced. The floors creeked and moved everytime a waiter walked by, and the atmosphere was quaint at best. I might go again one weeknight when I want to blow some cash, but wouldn't celebrate an occasion there.

The Superbowl Party: A celebration of football, processed foods, and paper plates

I love the tradition of Superbowl parties. I especially enjoy the typical fare of Kraft and Nabisco products handily mixed together in creative combination with other processed/canned/engineered foods. Such delights are best savored on paper plates or over your paper napkin...because the idea is disposability. That's the American way.

Some might ask, then, why I hate freedom and love terror. My only response: Shut up and eat your Triscuits.
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