Counter Intelligence

Cherry Blossom Kit Kat Bar

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 30, 2008

Might Michel Richard transform his Kit-Kat bar at Central for the season?  It’s so. . . .pink.

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Cooking for Sport

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 26, 2008

Earlier this week, chef Ann Cashion of Johnny’s Half Shell made an observation that made me miss team camaraderie while rowing crew in college and elsewhere . When I went to see her for an interview, she said that she didn’t think that there are a whole lot of women chefs in restaurant kitchens in the area who have stayed in the business for more than a stint.  But of those who do, she noticed one thing: it helps to have been an athlete. 

Take Cashion’s Eat Place sous chef, Sarah Smith. Ten years ago when she tried out on the line, she had recently graduated from Brown, where she swam competitively. “She is extraordinarily coordinated,” said Cashion. “She has confidence that she cultivated as the captain of the swim team. She’s a smooth operator under pressure and she was used to being in the spotlight– enduring public failures and successes.”

When I got ahold of Smith, she acknowledged that swimming prepared her for the rigors of the kitchen. “I like to be a part of a team. I don’t mind sweating. I like the intensity of the line. And I’m not scared of boys. They’re fun.”

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 26, 2008

1) Keeping it Juicy. Washington Post. David Hagedorn’s Chef on Call features pork + the super charismatic Nathalie Dupree, doyenne of southern cooking. What more could you want? Also in the Post: Knife Sharpeners that Make the Cut.

2) How to Survive in New York on 99 Cents.  New York Times.  Call it the 99 cent diet. It works. I tried it. Or give up and find yourself a sugar daddy.

3) The Season of Hope. Los Angeles Times. After colony collapse disorder, the cost of bringing bees back to California.

4) Kids’ Menus Grow Up. San Francisco Chronicle. No more chicken fingers and hot dogs. Bring on foie gras and frogs’ legs. At least one of them tastes like chicken.

5) Getting Nutty about Pizza. Chicago Tribune. Chicago demonstrates that it really isn’t a pizza town by suggesting prebaked pizza crust, almonds, and tarragon.

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Taste of the Nation Tonight

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 23, 2008

Taste of the Nation at the Washington Hilton is more lively than the usual Monday night happy hour.  Check out DC drinkmasters Gina Chersevani of Eat Bar, Justin Guthrie of Central, Tiffany Short of PS 7’s and Adam Bernbach of Bar Pilar as they square off in the event’s first bar chef competition. Four event guests will decide on the best sweet and savory drinks.

In addition, meet the chefs and sample eats from over fifty area restaurants, including Proof, Vidalia, The Source, Firefly, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Rustico, Restaurant Eve, New Heights and 1789, among others.

Tickets are $85 for general admission, $200 for VIPs. Proceeds benefit Share our Strength. At the Washington Hilton from 7-10 pm.

Easter Eats

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 20, 2008

deviledeggs.jpgWhether it’s the delicious rabbit three ways at Mio or a nibble of the holiday with The Cocoa Gallery’s chocolate dipped Peeps, Easter eats big and small have been sprouting up all over town over the past few days.  For some of us though, the holiday means heading out of town, rather than grazing at restaurants locally.

If you’re away or would simply rather make your Easter dishes this weekend, perhaps these deviled eggs from Chef Daniel Bortnick of Firefly will complement your meal.

YIELD: 12 EGGS (24 halves)

12 EGGS, MEDIUM-2 T DIJON MUSTARD-½ T WHITE WINE VINEGAR-1 T BLENDED OLIVE OIL- SMOKED PAPRIKA-1 CUP HEAVY CREAM-TT S & P-½ CUP CAPERS-1 EA CLOVES OF ELEPHANT GARLIC-½ CUP WHOLE MILK-2 CUP GRAPESEED OIL

 

BRING WATER TO A BOIL. CAREFULLY PLACE EGGS IN POT AND SIMMER FOR 8 MINUTES. REMOVE EGGS AND CHILL. PEEL EGGS AND DISCARD SHELLS. CUT EGGS IN HALF WITH A WIRE CUTTER. REMOVE YOLKS AND PLACE IN FOOD PROCESSOR. ADD DIJON, AND VINEGAR AND RUN FOOD PROCESSOR FOR 1 MINUTE, THAN SLOWLY DRIZZLE IN THE OIL. ADD THE PAPRIKA AND SEASON WITH S & P.

 

NOW, PUT THE HEAVY CREAM IN A BOWL AND WHIP TO SOFT PEAKS. BEGIN ADDING THE EGG MIXTURE AND WHIP UNTIL COMBINED. EGG YOLK MIXTURE SHOULD BE LIGHT, AIRY, AND FLUFFY.

 

DRAIN CAPERS AND SET ASIDE ON A PAPER TOWEL TO DRY. LEAVE OUT TO DRY OVERNIGHT. PLACE CAPERS IN COFFEE GRINDER AND PULSE TO A FINE POWDER. RESERVE FOR DUSTING THE EGG.

 

SLICE THE ELEPHANT GARLIC ON A CHINESE MANDOLIN VERY THIN. PLACE IN POT WITH MILK AND BRING TO A STEEP. REMOVE AND LAY OUT ON A PAPER TOWEL TO DRY. FRY IN GRAPESEED OIL UNTIL CRISPY. TO SERVE, COVER CUT SIDE OF EGG WHITE IN “CAPER POWDER”, AND PIPE EGG YOLK MIXTURE INTO EGG. GARNISH WITH GARLIC CHIP.

I’ll be testing the recipe down in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina this weekend and will let you know how it goes. It’s my first fry with grapeseed oil and first time around with the caper powder, needless to say.  Should be fun.

 

Any other spring cuisine from home or out and about you would recommend?

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest, Regional by melissamccart on March 19, 2008

jellybeans.jpg1) The Fat Pack Wonders if the Party is Over. New York Times.  Chefs, bloggers, and foodies wrestle with their weight and eating issues in this piece. Time to take a page from Melissa Clark.  Or at least follow her recipes every week in the Times.

2) That’s Amaro. Washington Post.  One of my favorite Post writers Jason Wilson schools us on an acquired taste:

Right now, however, Averna is the amaro of the moment, and I’m seeing it as an ingredient on cocktail menus all over the country. It’s even used in my new favorite Manhattan variation, called a black Manhattan (two parts rye whiskey, one part Averna, a dash of Angostura bitters and a maraschino cherry). Averna is quite assertive when mixed with stronger spirits, such as whiskey or cognac, or with syrupy, flavorful liqueurs, such as maraschino or limoncello.

Plus, listen in to Amanda McClements and me on Raw Fisher from yesterday’s show on DC Dining.

3) The Secret Life of Jelly Beans.  Los Angeles Times. Their history and anything else you’d want to know.

4) Keeping up with the Meyers. San Francisco Chronicle.  One woman’s love affair with the lemons, recipes included.

5) Solitary Dining Can Really Get Folks Talking. Atlanta Journal Constitution. I thought this would be on the joys of dining for one at the bar, but it’s more about the cons of workday lunch rituals. 

Who pours a good Guinness in the District?

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 18, 2008

guinness.jpgNow that we’ve heard Guinness is heart healthy and has antioxidant qualities, why reserve it for St. Patrick’s Day alone? Particularly when you’ve found your place that does a good pour. When I lived in New York, I noticed a long running debate online that’s the barroom parallel of who serves the best Guinness.  On Chowhound, one person muses:

All Guinness is not the same. There are a lot of factors that I think contribute. Someone mentioned clean pipes, true. Pasteurization, true. Temperature, true.

I’ve had the Guinness in Ireland and I find the US version bitter most times. I end up drinking Murphy’s. . . . The debate rages on, and its serious stuff!

I haven’t heard the same discussion here, so I’m illiterate as to who serves a proper pint in the District. Kelly’s? The old Four P’s? Duffy’s? Fado? Or will we have to wait for Rustico, DC chapter? (I so can’t wait to learn the real name. It’s in my dreams as a blank space.)

Milk Delivery, Week Two

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 17, 2008

From South Mountain Creamery:  eggs, butter, whole milk , buttermilk, 2%, and half and half: $22.  It makes me incredibly happy. And it tastes delicious.  But is it worth it? (And, yes for those of you who’ve asked: the milkman is just a milkman.)

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Where will you buy your groceries?

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on March 13, 2008

To me, grocery shopping is about as pleasurable as digging a ditch.  If I walk to Giant or Whole Foods from my place in the Heights, I can’t carry milk, sparkling water, and wine as well as groceries in one trip. So I end up driving and parking is a pain in the ass. Especially when there’s a line to get into the parking garage, or I forget where I put my validation ticket and am frantically searching for it for 20 minutes.

I really enjoy cooking so I generally shop with lists, but half the time I get distracted by something pretty and delicious then forget to buy key ingredients. Or I spend $100 on flowers, edamame, yogurt covered pretzels, and beer, then I’m starving a day later because there’s no food in the house.  I’m terrible at negotiating the aisles and have little tolerance for the cart shuffle. I think I need shoppers’ therapy.

That’s why it was ironic to have found myself in the Whole Foods versus Harris Teeter versus Shoppers Food Warehouse discussion three times this week with different groups of people without my prompting.  I’ve never been to a Harris Teeter and never heard of Shoppers until a couple days ago.  I’m guessing people are talking about it in the District because soon, they won’t have to haul to Virginia for good grocery shopping that’s less expensive than Whole Foods.  Is Harris Teeter (or Shoppers) worth the hype– of distraction, lost parking tickets, incomplete grocery lists, and mild aggravation? Or is it more exciting to have a Yes! Organic Market 100 feet away?

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on March 12, 2008

1) Which Wine Drinker Are You? Washington Post. A more focused piece on supertasting, with an emphasis on wine. According to wine consultant Tim Hanni, wine drinkers fall into four categories: tolerant, sensitive, hypersensitive, and sweet. 

2) Mexican for St. Patty’s Day, pickle sickles, Fiamma’s price hikes, and chef-as-server all featured in today’s New York Times.

3)Lessons from Dario Cecchini. Los Angeles Times.  Italian butcher Dario Cecchini of Bill Buford’s Heat pays a visit to Los Angeles.

4) Tripe Lovers Reveal their Offal Secrets. San Francisco Chronicle. For better or worse, tripe is so right now in San Francisco.

5) Where’s the Corned Beef? Boston Globe. Corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day and some new food traditions in the country’s Irish-American capital.

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