Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jackie Warner-Inspired Salads

Ok, I've gained like 10 pounds (give or take 3) since the holidays...and the main reason is that I haven't been dancing or working out like I should. I have been too busy sleeping til noon and doing "research" for this blog. Anyhoo, I'm getting back to the gym, contemplating a second dance class, and maybe even yoga or pilates. Perhaps it's the warm weather, the new job, or my clothes not fitting...or maybe it's the show "Workout" with that hot trainer, Jackie Warner, that has inspired me. That's right, I want this woman's body. Is it the Kashi? The soy milk? No, no, that is, I want a body *like* hers. I'm going to work it out until I, too, look like Skeletor with muscles. Tonight, I made a salad of avocado, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, and shaved emmentaler and dressed it with red wine vinegar and olive oil. I had it with a little side of mixed olives and a cup of mint tea. It was really tasty! This is getting to be a good trend for me, as the last couple places I've been to eat, I've had some pretty great (and light) salads:

1) The Afghan salad--tomatoes, Onions, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers With Mint Dressing at the Afghan Grill
Tomato, Avocado, Hearts of Palm, Blue Cheese, Sherry Vinaigrette at Merkado

Note: Despite all the references, I must reiterate that I am not a lesbian (and I don't really watch tv).

...and for anyone interested, Jackie has a great protein shake that she mentions on her show. The recipe is...

2 cups of organic mixed berries
1 scoop of mega green powder
1 serving of whey protein powder
1 tbsp of flaxseed oil (Cold Pressed)
1 tbsp of liquid amino acids
1 cup of icemix in blender

Sunday, March 25, 2007

No Corkage in Kabul

I have been to the Afghan Grill in Adams Morgan probably a half dozen times now. And the service was awful each and every time. There is always a wait and the atmosphere seems perpetually harried and chaotic. The tiny 12-or-so-table restaurant is run like a third world country, but, man, is the food good. Afghan cuisine is a cross between Indian and Mediterranean. It's amazingly flavorful, but not too spicey (for those of you with a delicate g.i. constitution). Get the Aushuk (leek dumplings with yogurt and meat sauce) or the Kadu Buranee (sauteed pumpkin with garlic yogurt and meat sauce) as appetizers and share the exceptionally tender lamb kabobs.

Also, most places in the city commit highway robbery by charging corkage--a fee for the wine that you bring--of about $30 on average. But AG hasn't caught on to this ridiculous practice, so we bring our own wine (or beer) and they pour it for us, sans corkage. And the last time we went, we brought our own microbrewed beer...and at the end of the evening they gave us a couple complimentary bottles...just because. But I suspect it was for our troubles earlier in the evening, as we stood around for ten minutes as they hurried about trying to figure out which of the four open tables they should seat us at. Ah, this is what Kabul must be like...flustered inefficiency with a good heart.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Philistines in Chinatown, Go to Zola

If you love the city for its edge and cultural vibrance, then don't go to Gallery Place/Chinatown on a Friday or Saturday night. Stay away especially if there's a game at the MCI Center. Because anything colorful or authentic is overshadowed by doughy massification. Matt and I had to fight hordes of loud, corn-fed Philistines--likely from greater northern Virginia, including Dumfries, and the hinterlands of "murlin"--to find a place to eat. It was awful. We were bombarded with gleeful, crazy-eyed-night-in-the-big-city interlopers wearing their effing hockey jerseys and Blue Tooth earsets (closing that very important Tokyo deal, I'm certain).

Anyway, not that you would ever even think about doing it, but you will wait forever at the unfortunate chains that have cropped up everywhere in the Chinatown neighborhood. Great casual eateries such as Matchbox and tapas restaurant, Zaytinya, will also be completely overcrowded with hip hunters. So your best bet, if you find yourself stuck in the neighborhood on such an evening, is something a little pricier (or hidden away from the too-touristy H & 7th street area) such as Zola or Poste.

Zola--despite being next door to the Spy Museum--offers anti-banal fare, is never egregiously packed, has a good cocktail menu, and very cool surrounds. The service is great. For example, the tables are set with the usual utensils and white napkins. However, if you happen to be wearing dark trousers, your server may offer you a dark napkin so as to avoid the obvious lint that a white napkin would leave. Now, *that* is great service. Anyhoo, there is also a separate and cozy bar area with table seating if you don't have reservations.

We were fortunate enough to grab a corner table in the windows in the bar area the other evening. Great view. Plush, cushiony chairs, and a quiet environment. It was a much-needed respite from the street. The menu, although decent, didn't seem to inspire us that night. So, we created our own tapas out of the appetizers. They have *great* appetizers at Zola including:

lobster macaroni & cheese
mussels with garlic and sesame noodles
lox on flatbread with cream cheese and micro arugala
FRIES with basil mayo

We also got the beet salad, but there are better places to have this dish. (BTW, they offer an extensive wine menu by the full, half, and glass.) Nice.
In general, the Gallery Place/Chinatown/Penn Quarter area caters to visitors. As such, it is a little shinier, more contrived, and bling-a-ling, than other neighborhoods. You will not find "neighborhood" restaurants or a lot of locals here on weekends. But it does have its virtues.
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