Counter Intelligence

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

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

1) The Next Best Thing in Sliced Bread. New York Times.  Is it banh mi, a BLT, or uni panini?

2) In case you weren’t aware, LA is a Hot Dog Town.  Los Angeles Times.  And you can count on Regina Shrambling for a menage a trois opener.

3) Michael Mina’s Magic Touch. San Francisco Chronicle. Behind the scenes with the chef.

4) Help! What went Wrong? Chicago Tribune.  The Trib addresses eight cooking disasters.  And Taste of Chicago comes to Washington and they’re jealous.

5) Royal Red Shrimp: Hard to Catch, Easy to Eat. Washington Post. John Martin Taylor addresses what’s so great about these deep sea delights.





Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 29, 2008

I have garden envy. Living in a condo means no green space, so I’ve been finding myself riding by community gardens on 16th street in particular.  Now is the time they’re starting to look terrific.

There’s an interesting history to Washington’s community gardens, which is also a draw. Founded in 1941:

The victory gardens program encouraged people in urban and rural areas to be self-reliant and plant vegetable, fruit and herb gardens to feed their families and communities. By 1943, 20 million victory gardens had sprouted throughout the nation, surpassing the goal of 2 million.

I have friends whose plot yields terrific greens, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and herbs.  Still, I have questions. Is the wait still interminable?  Is there an issue with urban critters and theft?  Are there plots where gardeners have a choice of veggies or flowers? And, from others’ experiences, has it been worth it? In the meantime, I’ll be calling folks from this list.

Sure Schott

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 25, 2008

While walking Charlie this morning, I ducked into Tryst to admire the lovely fruit tarts and cakes.  Sure enough, Sol Schott walked by, the guy I met at City Bikes leading the cupcake ride last Saturday.  Turns out, Sol makes the cupcakes himself, in addition to the tarts, cookies, pastries, and this week’s special, strawberry balsamic cheesecake.   Not to mention, the croissants: between Tryst, Open City, and the Diner, “We go through 2000 croissants a week,” he said.

Schott started as an assistant pastry chef at Vidalia, moved on to the Willard, and has been baking for owner Constantine Stavopoulis for three years. “It’s more low key compared to fine dining,” said Schott. “But I still get to make the same kinds of pastries.”

Between his pastries and Tryst’s Counter Culture beans, a rendezvous at Tryst is a sure shot.


Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest, New York City, South by melissamccart on April 23, 2008

1) Cheap Eats at Home. Sweet. Washington Post. PS7’s Peter Smith whips up a family friendly midweek meal for less than 12 bucks.

2)  You Call that Pudding, Grandma? New York Times.  In the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this month, pudding is having a moment.

3) Postcards from China’s Periphery. LA Times. Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid write “Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Other Travels in China,”  which the Times hails as, “that rare book that works on each of the levels to which it aspires: travelogue, cultural anthropology, cookbook. Most important, the food — as storied and diverse as the people who inspired it — works too.”

4) Goodbye, King Hello Coho. San Francisco Chronicle. Wild salmon may be off the menu. San Franciscians are embracing more common fish in the meantime.

At Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, house-cured sardines are on the menu year-round, paired with avocado toasts, fava bean puree or other seasonal accoutrements.

“They’re considered low end, but we try to bejewel them,” says chef-owner Gayle Pirie. “They’re just so bloody tasty.”

Also in the Chronicle: the Hot Dog Days of Spring, with a recipe for neon orange grossness that is currywurst.

5) What’s in Season. Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Rhubarb, mangoes, and raspberries are coming in season.

Earth Friendly Eats

Posted in 1. by melissamccart on April 22, 2008

With more food-focused businesses going green, environment-friendly eating and drinking isn’t as difficult as it was even a year ago. Some suggestions for today–

1) Switch to milk delivery. Drink fresh, hormone free milk from recycled glass bottles once, and you’ll never go back to store bought.

2) Eat at environmentally conscious Chix DC– which now delivers for lunch.

3) Support local farmers on market days.

4) Book a reservation for Vermilion’s Farm to Fork Dinner tonight.

5) Whether it’s Grape and Bean, which composts grounds or the sustainable agriculture of Counter Culture Coffee, buy a cup that’s eco-friendly.

Where else are you embracing Earth Day?


Beer Run

Posted in District of Columbia, South by melissamccart on April 20, 2008

Though the beer list doesn’t come close to those at Rustico or Brasserie Beck, Beer Run is a laid-back speciality shop in Charlottesville– the type I wish we’d get more of here.  Both a store and a bar (read: Cheesetique), Beer Run stocks 250 beers, a nice little wine selection, and some nibbles that range from fancy chips and locally made cheese and sausages. And I’m partial to the name because I like the song in spite of myself.

But it’s the inexpensive, casual breakfast and lunch menus that hit the spot and seems to bring in all types: hippies, beer dorks, college kids, families, old men in suits, and people like me, just travelling through. Open daily at 7am, scramble tacos are under five bucks— not to mention, no one frowns if you decide on a morning Guinness, though coffee standards are available.  And I so wish for a fun sandwich place for lunch, where it’s as easy to get hot dogs on pretzel bread or a gouda, apples, spinach, and balsamic sandwich with a Bell’s Oberon.

And as for service? They also deliver.

CityBikes Cupcake Ride

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 19, 2008

Sounds like what it probably is: a leisurely jaunt from the Adams Morgan store to the Chevy Chase shop, where riders can snack on cupcakes when they get there. 

I think I need a cupcake ride, after a flat and one too many times being lost in the burbs the past couple days. 

Cupcake Ride. CityBikes at 11 am Saturdays.


Who Makes the Best Desserts?

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

Check out this week’s Best of DC CityPaper Food and Drink. It’s fun.

(another terrific photo by Darrow Montgomery)

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 16, 2008

1) Expat Comfort Food:The Quirky Mix at LA’s Hong Kong-Style Coffee Shops. Los Angeles Times. “On the menu? Borscht, braised pork belly and Singapore vermicelli. Plus a triple-strength milk tea. Russian and Asian influences merge in these San Gabriel Valley restaurants.”

2) The Working Cook: Bringing Back the Skillet Supper. San Francisco Chronicle.  A one-pot meal, updated.

3) American Artisanal. Chicago Tribune.  Excerpted from Rebecca Gray’s book:

To know and learn about Chris Reed is to better enjoy a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Brew. And it is the very reason for a book like this. We are introduced here to keepers of quality, entrepreneurs or sustainers of a legacy, whose vision is very, very personal. They’re either of the terroir or enthused artisan, maybe both. Often passionate, usually obsessive, some admit to being a bit crazy, but all are brilliant food people able to perform magic. Knowing about the devotion and attention to food, the flavor sensations food artisans make possible—and their marvelous stories—can bring joy to any meal.

4) Local Color. Boston Globe. Delicious, sugary candied fruits.

5) It’s Waste Not, Want Not for Washington Chefs. Washington Post.  Kitchen strategies for tougher times.



Spring Is for the Dogs

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on April 15, 2008

Now that the weather is finally nice, have a drink on the patio with your dog at Alexandria’s Hotel Monaco from 5 to 8, where tonight kicks off Doggie Happy Hour every Tuesday and Thursday in the hotel courtyard.

And this weekend, Buzz Bakery features the Buzz Bark Bash to celebrate its newly dog friendly patio on Friday evening for wine, cheese, and sweets. Saturday from 10 to noon stop by to support the Alexandria Humane Society, and sample Josh Short’s pastries– especially his bacon, egg and cheese brioche.

DC residents can bring their dogs to Red Rocks in Columbia Heights and Adams Mill Bar and Grill at Columbia and 18th Street. 

Where else can you find a dog friendly patio?