Counter Intelligence

Tasty Playlist

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 31, 2007

food_section.gifJosh Friedland of The Food Section, was tapped to create a food-centered playlist for AOL.  Like what you see? Download and listen here .

 Tasty! Songs for Food Lovers (more…)


Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 30, 2007

images3.jpg1) Restaurants Break the Fourth Wall.  Los Angeles Times.  The piece addresses how kitchens have moved to the dining room as.  Of the new restaurant, the Foundry:

Though the new spot has already become known as a place to be entertained — there’s live music six days a week — the real show is chef Greenspan himself. Instead of standing on the kitchen side of the traditional “pass” (the place where cooks pass plated dishes to the waiters), Greenspan has jumped the counter and “expedites” orders from the dining room side. And it’s quite a performance.

The kitchen in the dining room means that diners are exposed to more of kitchen culture: intensity, yelling, fires, and clanging plateware are par for the course. 

2) Pick a Peck of Pickles.  Boston Globe.  Boston-born Rick of Rick’s Picks talks about Mean Beans, Phat Beets, and his three year old company.

3)Fighting the Tide, A Few Restaurants Tilt to Tap Water.   New York Times.  Some restaurants nix bottled water to reduce costs and damage to the environment.  Also: Bruni one-stars Katz’s Deli.

4) ‘Cue Country.  Chicago Tribune.  The Trib goes on a multi-state bbq tasting.  This week it’s North Carolina.

5) Best Buys for the Summer Bar.  Washington Post.  Jason Wilson likes to drink a cocktail every day– my kind of guy.  Rather than reaching for small batches like Hendrick’s or Eagle Rare, he suggests a more modest/realistic bar for which the basics and seasonal spirits cost under $300:

The rise of big-ticket booze is, I hate to say, getting a little out of control: $35 for a flavored vodka, $45 for an aged rum, $55 for a whiskey (a rye whiskey, no less). Certainly the quality of many of these spirits more than justifies the high price tag. Yet often they are overkill. Even for me, the really high-end bottles are primarily for special occasions.

Italian Ice on 14th Street

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 28, 2007

ritas.jpgWhether you call it Italian ice or water ice, it has arrived at Rita’s in northwest.  The new location which opened Saturday in the same building as Sticky Fingers Bakery  is open daily from 11-10.  The flavors at five minutes to close were pink lemonade, blueberry, raspberry, root beer, and some sugar free flavors that I ignored.  The rotation of 12 will change daily, though the manager suggests you lobby for your favorites and they’ll make them for you.  And, yes. They’ll most certainly give you brainfreeze.

Rita’s Ice. 3237 A 14th Street N.W.

Summer Treats

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 25, 2007

tomato.jpgSchool’s out for the day and it’s the first weekend of summer! Instead of craving burgers, ice cream, strawberries, and other early season favorites, I’m excited for Taqueria Distrito Federal’s weekend-only shrimp ceviche: dozens of baby shrimp, lime and orange juice, cilantro, garlic, and fresh tomatoes, among other ingredients. 

Owner Luis Marroquin makes shrimp ceviche this time of year because it reminds him of his favorite thing to eat while vacationing with his wife at the beach in Mexico. And he fills it to the brim of a giant cup usually reserved for horchata. The presentation isn’t pretty, but no matter. It tastes so fresh, like early summer.

What’s your weekend craving?

It’s about time, Michael Bauer.

Posted in Other Places by melissamccart on May 25, 2007

cav.jpgI’m glad to see that the San Francisco Chronicle has finally taken Cav seriously in “An accomplished kitchen matches the sublime wine list“:

The food is excellent, and the professional, efficient service adds icing to the cake. The staff knows the menu, so on each visit I put the server in charge of pairings. At least 30 wines are offered by the taste or the glass, including more than 50 after-dinner options. The 18 countries represented make a fascinating list, one the staff is so proud of that no outside wines are allowed to be brought in.

Three meals, three winning experiences. I feel remiss in not reviewing it sooner. But now that you know about it, raise a toast to Pamela Busch and her crew.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 23, 2007

coca-cola.jpg1) Bartender, we’ll have a round of beeritas.  Boston Globe.  The shandy, the boilermaker, the snakebite, the sake bomb.  I’d always thought of beer cocktails as girly, an absurd way to get drunk in a hurry, or as a hangover helper.  The beerita seems like an in-between– especially for those who don’t like triple sec.  In Boston, the variation on the margarita is catching on:

Instead of the triple sec that is an integral part of the traditional margarita recipe, Moran was using light beer. She was making a cocktail that she calls a beerita. She first encountered beeritas at a party in Minneapolis, where she lives. The drink caught on in her group because it’s refreshing, especially during the summer as something to sip at a barbecue. She and her friends liked the cold, sweet libation and spread the word. “I took it to another party, then someone else took it to a party. One girl took it to New York,” Moran says.

2) Cooking with Coke. Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Gotta love summer articles, when the headlines go lowbrow and local.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reviews the new cookbook “Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola”, which sounds gross, but then again, I’ve “brined” ribs in Dr. Pepper. . . and they were good. Here are the AJC’s four reasons we should cook with Coke:

  •  It solves the sad problem of flat Coke. Surely there’s a glaze waiting to happen with the dregs of that 2-liter bottle.
  • It proves your mettle as a cook. As recognizable as the flavor of Coke is, it can be as evanescent as the bubbles. A great cola-glazed ham or Coca-Cola cake really does taste like the beverage.
  •  Wouldn’t you rather tell someone the secret ingredient in a dish is Coke rather than beets?
  • Because of Coke’s most tongue-tingling quality. Sweet? Bubbly? No, sour. Coke is actually as acidic as lemon juice or vinegar — you just can’t tell with everything else going on. The high acidity helps stabilize baked goods and focus the flavors of sauces and marinades.

3) Demands and Costs Rise for Best Cuts.  New York Times.  The price of beef is soaring and it appears there’s no end in sight.  What’s causing it?  A harsh winter’s effect on cattle and the price of corn feed.  Expect steakhouses to follow Peter Luger’s lead and raise prices or cut back on reservations soon.

4) Picnic Worthy Picks.  San Francisco Chronicle.  The paper has a great piece on best places for a picnic, fun gear, and food picks from the editors.  If you’re planning a DC picnic, this piece is a good starting point if you need some help with what to bring.

5) A Perfect Burger from Top to Bottom. Washington Post.  Good pointers for the perfect burger, also the subject of Mark Bittman’s piece in which he suggests that perfection requires that you grind your own meat.  Fans of Palena’s burger are nodding their heads in agreement.

Fightin’ Words

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 22, 2007

201123534_44aeaafd36.jpgGothamist talks smack about the new Five Guys outpost in Queens. . .

As expected, the dreaded mantra of the D.C.-based burgermeisters hung above the counter in the cheery red-and-white dining room. It read: “We Cook All Our Meat WELL-DONE.” When asked why on earth anyone would cook a hamburger, much less any meat in such a fashion, the cashier replied, “Don’t worry, it’s still juicy.”

Yet it’s actually a favorable post–“it was truly delicious. It was certainly the best well-done burger that ever passed our lips” albeit snarky–“The Guys present all orders in brown paper bags, whether they’re to go or not. Perhaps there was a tray shortage in the D.C. area when they first opened.” Then again, I’d also be more than snarky if I took the train, a bus and a walk to the first ring of hell past Flushing for a fast food burger. 

photo from dbol39 on flickr

Mark your Calendar: June 2nd Farmers Market at 14th and U Streets

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 21, 2007


Starting June 2nd and running through November 17th, Markets and More will host a farmers’ market at the Reeves Center every Saturday from 10-2.   Farmers represented will come from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

Robin Schuster and her organization also host the market in Mt. Pleasant.  Though I don’t think it’s likely, I hope food cart folks of Mt. Pleasant set up shop here too.

Vanity Fair’s Letters from Tokyo: If You Knew Sushi

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest, New York City by melissamccart on May 21, 2007

tuna.jpgI’d been wanting to read the June Letters from Tokyo piece after a friend called gushing about it.  It’s not yet posted on Vanity Fair’s website, so you’ll need to buy a hard copy if you want to read the whole thing.  It’s a labyrinth of antecdotes from the Tsukiji fish market, the history of sushi in America, the allure of blowfish, and the mystique behind some of the best sushi restaurants in New York and Tokyo.  Globe trotter Nick Tosches is an incredible researcher. Some highlights:

  • Bluefin tuna was considered cat food until a California cannery ran out of sardines and began canning it in 1903.
  • The largest tuna sales come from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, which sells over 2000 tons–“roughly two million kilograms” of seafood a day.  The old Fulton Street Fish Market in New York sold 115 tons a year. (more…)

What makes you happy in the kitchen?

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest by melissamccart on May 18, 2007

happy.jpgSerious Eats has been showing some Michel Richard love this week with their Cook the Book recipes from his Happy in the Kitchen.  Want to make his french fries, chicken salad, or thyme-glazed baby back ribs at home?  Serious Eats dishes out the recipes for you to try. 

There’s also the drawing for a free copy of your own, should you make comments in this thread by the week’s end about what makes you happy in your kitchen. 

For me, it’s the collection of herbs, heirloom veggies, and dairy products from the Dupont Farmers’ market on Sunday afternoons.  Especially after this week’s eating itinerary–Monday at Komi, Tuesday at Alero, Wednesday at Brasserie Beck, Thursday at Dino– I need to log in some gym hours and time for home cooking.