Counter Intelligence

Flavors of the Week

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 25, 2009

Since the Obama Dairy Godmother Day, I’ve had this poem in my head relentlessly. Sorry if it’s infectious. And happy weekend.

Bleezer’s Ice Cream– Jack Prelutsky

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,/ I run Bleezer’s Ice Cream Store, /there are flavors in my freezer/you have never seen before/twenty eight divine creations/ too delicious to resist,/why not do yourself a favor,/try the flavors on my list:

Cocoa Mocha Macaroni/Tapioca Smoked Baloney/Checkerberry Cheddar Chew/Chicken Cherry Honeydew/Tutti-Frutti Stewed Tomato/Tuna Taco Baked Potato/Lobster Litchi Lima Bean/Mozzarella Mangosteen/Almond Ham Merengue Salami/Yam Anchovy Prune Pastrami/Sassafras Souvlaki Hash/Sukiyaki Succotash/Butter Brickle Pepper Pickle/Pomegrante Pumpernickel/Peach Pimento Pizza Plum/Peanut Pumpkin Bubble Gum/Broccoli Banana Bluster/Chocolate Chop Suey Cluster/Avocado Brussel Sprout/Periwinkle Sauerkraut/Cotton Candy Carrot Custard/Cauliflower Cola Mustard/Onion Dumpling Double Dip/Turnip Truffle Triple Flip/Garlic Gumbo Gravy Guava/Lentil Lemon Liver Lava/Orange Olive Bagel Beet/Watermelon Waffle Wheat

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,/I own Bleezer’s Ice Cream Store/Taste a flavor from my freezer/You will surely ask for more.



Counter Intelligence on All You Can Eat

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 25, 2009

I was nervous about baking bread at home, though it turned out just fine. Here’s my tale of the tester.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 24, 2009

1) Chefs On the Rise. Washington Post. My months long research on chefs who bake their own bread in DC.

2) A Beer, Please and a (Good) Menu. New York Times. Beer deserves respect, says the Times. Part of why it’s not getting any is because food offerings are lackluster. Lucky for us, DC has terrific beer and food pairings at Rustico, Belga and Brasserie Beck. Here’s one foodie realm where we’re ahead of the curve. As much as I love sausage, I’m happy we have more of a range to choose from in our spots.

3) Train Chefs Keep Quality on Track. LA Times. “Most rail chefs are independent contractors, in demand for their skill in preparing gourmet meals while hurtling along at high speeds, which can play all kinds of tricks on food. Imagine trying to cook while standing in an earthquake simulator, and you get the idea.”

4) Library Lunch. Boston Globe. The library is the hot Back Bay lunch spot. Now I’m wishing for transcendant lunch at the Library of Congress. Possible?

5) Peach Perfection. San Francisco Chronicle. Terrific tips for storing peaches as well as some great recipes. (Though I’m most craving a peach mostarda lately.)

(photo from

Monica Bhide’s Virtual Dinner Party

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 22, 2009

Check out the fantastic spread inspired by Modern Spice for Monica Bhide’s virtual dinner party. I grilled Indian wings– but it can be done just as easily in the broiler at home.

1T ginger garlic paste-.5t tumeric-.5t ground cumin-1.5t ground coriander-2t red chile flakes-2T fresh lemon juice-1.5t dried, crushed fenugreek leaves-1t mango powder-2T vegetable oil-1.5t salt-.25t fresh ground pepper-2.5lb chicken wings, tips cut off-nonstick cooking spray- store bought chaat masala for garnish

Instructions: In a large bowl, combine cream, garlic ginger paste, cumin, coriander, chile flakes, lemon juice, fenugree, mango, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Add wings and toss thoroughly to coat them. Refrigerate, covered, for at least three hours.

Turn broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.  Place wings on baking sheet. Pour any remaining marinade over wings. Broil wings about four inches from heat until cooked, about 12 minutes on each side or until they begin to brown well. Turn once. Serve sprinkled with chaat masala.

I Scream

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 19, 2009

joshfriedlandIf I had to rank them, I like gelato, sorbet, then ice cream in that order. Ice cream is kind of eggy for me. I don’t think it’s that refreshing when it’s really hot– like eating braised meats when it’s 90 degrees. Eggy ice cream coats your mouth like a summer blanket. Gelato and sorbet, with fewer eggs and no egg, respectively — totally different.

That said, I’m thinking more about ice cream because of the daily tweets from Dairy Godmother. I have a weakness for her Bordeaux cherry or the chocolate orange shortbread. A couple days ago, I was even fantasizing about her Twitter special for watermelon shakes, made with vanilla custard and pureed fresh watermelon (to which I really wanted to add salt). This is especially absurd, since she makes custard, the eggiest frozen treat of all time.

Sometimes I give in, or try to break my anti-egg stance and cross the river. By the time I get there and stand in a line of 50 people, guilt or annoyance sets in. Why the hell did I drive 7 miles for ice cream to stand in a line of screaming kids? I don’t even like ice cream that much. Half the time I leave with balsamic strawberry sorbet.

I’m starting to make the trek more often than I’d like to admit. Before I give in to ice cream and start a full on love affair with the Dairy G., complete with multiple weekday visits, I’m going to try and fend it off by distraction:

–Gelato sampling at the Saturday 14th and U Street farmers market at the Dolcezza stand.

–A chocolate noir gelato at Pitango, which I haven’t tried yet.

Free Gifford’s sundae this Sunday at all locations starting at noon. When I moved to DC a couple years ago, this was the name floated most often as best ice cream in the District.

–Homemade gelato or ice cream, served with Michael Ruhlman’s chocolate chip cookie bowl or Suzanne Goin’s creamsicle float.

Any other suggestions or advice?

(photo from

Counter Intelligence on Metrocurean

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 19, 2009

Check out the post on VOLT’s Bryan Voltaggio here.

Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 17, 2009

1) Oh Daddy! Serve Up a Manly Meal This Father’s Day. LA Times. Steak and brawny beef.

2) A Touch of Asia, Tangy and Hot. New York Times. I’m in love with this green papaya and larb recipes.

3) Coffee Smarts. Cup by Cup. Washington Post. Counter Culture coffee, of course.

4) Tips for Making Great Sandwiches. Chicago Tribune. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Be creative. And don’t put weird stuff together.

5) The Brews Brothers. Boston Globe. For people who really like beer, the people behind The Beer Advocate. Also: their five desert island beers.

Who Influences DC’s Next Food Network Star?

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 12, 2009

Last week, I spoke with Granville Moore’s Teddy Folkman, contestant on The Next Food Network Star, for a DC Modern Luxury piece about local chefs on national TV. While I was doing my research, I was intrigued by his mention of Ann Cashion of Johnny’s Half Shell, since I’m in awe of her and respect her so much.  Here’s what he had to say about her:

There’s no one who has inspired me more than Ann Cashion. I met her eight years ago. I had left my desk job and the internet world and was working on the line at The Reef with Sam Adkins who is now at Jackie’s. At the time, I was considering going to culinary school. Sam introduced me to Cashion, who convinced me not to go that route. So while I was working at The Reef, I spent my two days off working twelve to fourteen hour days at Cashion’s, learning everything I possibly could from her.

The most valuable thing she taught me is to treat every step of the way with the utmost importance. She’s so instrumental in my life, it’s weird for me to call her by her first name. I’ve never called her Ann. I only call her Chef.

For those who can’t get enough Folkman, check him out this weekend Capitol Lounge, where he recently took the helm. Or watch his progress from the comfort of the couch on The Next Food Network Star this Sunday  at 9 pm.

What’s the difference between a baker and a pastry chef?

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 12, 2009

This morning, I spoke with bread guru Mark Furstenberg on the difference between a baker and a pastry chef:

There is a long, robust tradition of buying bread from good bakeries that started in France and has been carried over here.

Chefs have high regard for professional bakers. They value the artistry of it.  . . . . Bakers and pastry chefs don’t necessarily like each other. They don’t have a high regard for one another. Bakers are robust, manly and rustic and their highest value is consistency. Pastry chefs value creativity. Their work is refined and elegant. They might ask, “Why would anyone want to do the same thing day after day?”

Baking is uncreative and repetitious work. Bread consists of very elemental ingredients, with time as most important. There are no shortcuts when it comes to baking bread.

Furstenberg plans to open G Street Food this August as well as a small retail bakery within the next year.

On the Farm

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on June 8, 2009

Mount Vernon Farm in Rappahannock County - by Ray BocNow that Restauarant Eve has snagged last night’s RAMMY for Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year, it’s a fine time to book seats for the Restaurant Eve Solstice dinner at Mount Vernon Farm in Sperryville.  Chef Armstrong’s dinner, which features food and wine from Rappahannock County farms and vineyards, benefit the the county’s farmland preservation fund.  Cocktails are at 5:30 and dinner is at 6:30 at the 830-acre farm. Tickets are $180 and can be purchased here.

Speaking of farms, I’ve been wanting to daytrip for strawberries but haven’t been able to carve out the time– and the season is about over. The only farm/daytrip I’ve made this season is to the lovely Breaux Estate and Hillsborough Vineyard, a delicious stop for a picnic and the view. Tomorrow I’m hitting up Whitmore Farms, a source for Bryan Voltaggio’s VOLT, where I’ll be in the afternoon.

Have any pick your own produce daytrips, farm dinner recommendations? Leave them in the comments.