Counter Intelligence

Someone please do an intervention.

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 30, 2007

img_1769_edited.jpgI dream about pork tacos from Taqueria Distrito Federal. Unfortuntely, I just came back from my second night in a row of take out.  I even tried mixing in a tongue taco, but it didn’t distract me from my obsession.  The two ply tortillas, slow cooked meat, hot sauce, lime, onions, cucumbers, and cilantro are positively addictive.  Should you decide to get some for yourself, help me break the spell and tell me they’re not all that.  Otherwise, I’m going to look like the “before” of the poor piggy before it was slow cooked.

Taqueria Distrito Federal.  3463 14th Street N.W.


Eastern Market

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on April 30, 2007

farmers_2.jpgJust yesterday, I went to Eastern Market with my mother to find out whether Southern Maryland Seafood had soft shell crabs, to ask about flat iron steaks at Union Meat, and to buy some lilacs from Blue Iris Flowers.  I’m glad I went yesterday, since it’s no longer. 

With the gutting of South Hall by fire last night, it’s a sad morning for Washington. I hope that the city can help the Glasgows, the Bowers, and others connected with the market.

Ah, Nostalgia.

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on April 27, 2007

2007_04_bkinnkalina.jpgPlease tell me there’s a pub in Washington that’s as lovely and old as The Brooklyn Inn, a little neighborhood place in Boerum Hill that’s been around forever, where you can play pool if you don’t mind the bar’s yellow lab barking crazily when you break, that’s as inviting in the summer as the winter, where it’s as easy to drink a Bud bottle as a Chimay on tap, where buybacks are a given, and the bartender will eventually know your name, even if you only go every so often.  Tell me that this place exists in Washington and I’ve just missed it.

Thanks to for this photo.

Friday Playlist from Mario Batali

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on April 27, 2007

cayman-orangelg.jpgHere’s an abbreviated playlist from Mario Batali’s Top 40, listed here.  Thanks to The Food Section for the link.

Beastie Boys:Licensed to Ill

Beck: Odelay

The Clash:London Calling

David Bowie: Low

Guns and Roses: Appetite for Destruction

Iggy Pop: Lust for Life

Joe Strummer: Global a Go Go

Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti

Moby: 18

Neutral Milk Hotel: On Avery Island

Patti Smith: Land

REM: Automatic for the People

The Strokes: First Impression of Earth

Tom Waits:Swordfish Trombones

U2: Under a Blood Red Sky

Van Morrison: Too Long in Exile

Wilco: Summerteeth

X: Live in Los Angeles

Casa Oaxaca is pronounced wa-HA-ca.

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 26, 2007

oaxaca.gifSorry to be so parochial. I didn’t know; I took German and French.  Apparently others don’t either, since the pronunciation is on the business card.

Along with several other noteworthy restaurant debuts, this week marks the opening of Casa Oaxaca, the Mexican restaurant on 18th Street owned by Rolando Juarez and Karen Barroso of Arlington’s Guajillo.  Between the burnt orange interior and the candy cane, postmodern red and white of Yazuzu, this block is becoming the technicolor of Adams Morgan.

The narrow downstairs with its animal print stools and low tables is the more interesting of the two rooms.  It could also be that warm lighting and more people made it inviting.  Then again, it has only been opened a day or two.  It’s too early to tell.

The cuisine of the region allegedly reflects a geographic diversity characterized in its mountains, valleys, and coastline.  According to Sietsema, the restaurant will adhere to this culinary variety, which Judith Weintraub explains in this facinating article.  Might Casa Oaxaca be the second place in town to offer grasshopper tacos? 

Casa Oaxaca. 2106 18th Street.

Five on Food:Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on April 25, 2007

1images3.jpg) Prom Prep: A Quick Course on Dining Etiquette.  Seattle Post Intelligencer. Since I teach high school seniors and it’s prom time, I especially like this article– a focus on making kids comfortable at a dressed up fancy place.  Though, I’m pretty sure alot of kids who live in McLean where I teach have got it covered. But you never know.  

Speaking of manners, this article reminds me of the many of guys I’ve dined with who embrace bad manners– as in, poking or shoveling food with forks and fingers, licking them at the table, or talking with their mouth full. Maybe it’s because of dumb luck (or New York) that I’ve had so many awkward dining experiences with people who should know good manners but don’t apply them.  Maybe not: check around a restaurant next time for finger lickers and guys using their pants as napkins.  More than you’d think? 

2) Local Waters Clam Up.  San Francisco Chronicle.  Places like Hog Island reinforce the area’s renown for oysters.  Yet who would have thought to seek out tiny succulent clams also flourishing in Tomales Bay?

3)  Zippy Ceviche Calls Out for Zippy Wines.  Chicago Tribune.  The popularity of crudos and ceviche calls for pairings of  high acid whites– such as dry Reislings or Gruner Veltliner– and light, fruity reds.

4) Naughty and Nice.  Boston Globe. Due to the huge fan base in Boston, Wagamama opens its first US chain in Faneuil Hall.  Here, diners will find a sleek, super modern interior, efficient, hi-tech service,  and “big plates of steaming noodles, bowls of ramen, and little dishes holding asparagus and edamame. . . .”  I’m still trying to figure out the headline.  What’s naughty about servers with mohawks and tattoos? 

5) Pimm’s Cup.  Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Here’s a recipe for the warm weather drink of Wimbledon, made with lime, mint, orange, Pimm’s No. 1, ginger ale, and cucumber.

 And, not sure why I skimmed over this one, but the Times’  A Soft Spot for the Anti Artisanal is a good read today, too:

 Into every life some Kraft Singles, Hostess Sno Balls and Snickers bars must fall. Could you possibly substitute a wedge of that pampered Camembert for a workaday Kraft Single on a tuna melt? Never. And equal only to the fetishistic satisfaction of eating the filling of an Oreo before you eat the cookie is peeling the Sno Ball’s coconut-sprinkled dome of marshmallow from the chocolate cupcake beneath it and saving its creamy center for last.

Lusting for Lobsters?

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on April 23, 2007

images2.jpgUntil next Friday at least, you’re out of luck.  Rob Klink, executive chef at Oceanaire confirms that like New York, Washington suffers from the same lobster shortage that’s more than doubling their market price.  “Maine isn’t pulling any lobsters out and the storm last week just halted everything,” he said. “Prices are the worst they’ve been in 20 years.”

The going rate for wholesale lobster over the past three weeks has been $18 or more a pound, which translates to somewhere around $40 a pound for customers. “No one is going to buy that,” said Klink.  For now, they’re off the menu until the Canadian lobster season opens this coming Friday.  Will it make a difference?  “It’s hard to be sure.”

During our conversation, Klink mentioned an interesting fact, “To make matters worse, Red Lobster is having its lobster fest. Something like 98% of all lobster in the US goes to that company, which leaves 2% for the rest of the nation.”  I guess if you’re really hankering for lobster, you’re bound by the chain.

Barton Seaver’s Hook

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 20, 2007

Notes from Underground

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest by melissamccart on April 20, 2007

shhhhquiet36042.jpgI had an impression that underground dining evolved as a means of introducing French Camembert, Spanish hams, absinthe and other contraband food and drink to diners. But according to a lovely writer who’s penning a book on the subject at this week’s dinner, it’s becoming popular for reasons beyond introducing diners to illicit deliciousness.  Be it a chef’s creative drive to cook off-menu from his paying gig, an alternative to the constraints of service in a traditional restaurant, a test drive for opening a new one, or a means of bringing chefs together who don’t normally have the opportunity to collaborate, the reasons for the rise in secret supper clubs are endless.

Though it’s relatively new in DC, according to the writer, underground dining has been part of the restaurant landscape for at least the past five years or so out west.  Tim Carman is the first to write about DC’s Hush in the Washington City Paper last month; I’m glad he did.  I’m not going to talk about this month’s menu, since I’m concerned that it might reveal the chef.  But really, it was special.  I enjoyed peeking into the kitchen and talking a little shop with people who work in the industry.  I loved the company, and appreciated the hospitality and creativity of the chefs.  But perhaps underground dining is a misnomer for the trend if it’s not about contraband.  Is having a dinner party for 15 for which you ask guests to chip in illicit?

Kiss and Tell

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on April 18, 2007

kiss.jpgA dubious British organization called The Mind Lab tested which gives a better buzz– kissing or chocolate.  And the winner is. . . Chocolate?  In a BBC article, Dr. David Lewis is reported to have discovered:

 “There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz.

“A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.”

Eating chocolate does not excite me, but Kisses and kissing for science would.  (OK, not just anyone, but still. . . ) Maybe people can test it out and report their findings.  I’d think you’d want to wait and try it out from home, but if you’re like the testers, home, office– it won’t matter:

You’d think people would be shy about kissing in a laboratory, but that wasn’t the case at all .

Cadbury spokeswoman

Even though I think the findings are pretty absurd– why not test it on single, coupled, and married people of different ages?– it lends a great excuse to kiss and eat chocolate.  (C’mon. You know you’re going to test it out asap. . . .)

Thanks to Serious Eats for the link.