Counter Intelligence

Easy Cocktail Party Menu Advice

Posted in 1. by melissamccart on November 25, 2008

My friend in Richmond sent me an email asking for an easy, safe menu for a family tree trimming party on Saturday.  She doesn’t cook much, so that’s a factor.  Here’s what I emailed:

1) I’d do swedish meatballs for the kitsch factor and because they’re fun.
2)  Olive tepanade which you can buy, or sautee olives in sambuca in a pan, or use this recipe.
3) Shrimp: something like this is incredibly easy. Just have your fish person clean the shrimp for you.
4) Mushroom crostini is easy. Stray from button mushrooms and go for something more interesting. Also, if you skip the cheese and drizzle truffle oil on them, that’s good.
 5) You could also do mini croque monsieurs, or a mini sandwiches using meats recommended by Belmont Butchery instead of having a charcuterie plate.
 6) Maybe a white bean dip

This went over like a bag of bricks. Basically it’s too fancy for what she wants. And she’d like a one dish wonder, with a side salad and a few things to graze on.  Any suggestions?


Happy Birthday, Vinoteca!

Posted in 1. by melissamccart on November 5, 2008

Embrace tonight’s revelry at Vinoteca, where they’ll be celebrating their first birthday with champagne toasts, a band and 20% off all customer checks. Festivities start at 8pm.

Fall Fest Weekend

Posted in 1. by melissamccart on October 17, 2008

It’s a great weekend to stay in town with so many fun food and drink fests on the roster.

Starting today from 7am to 2pm and tomorrow from 10am to 4pm, feast on meatloaf sliders, bob for apples, and listen to the blues at A Fall Harvest County Fair at Jackson’s Roasting and Carving Co.

On Saturday, feast on brats and Guinness cupcakes as you sample beers at Rustico’s Oktoberfest, featuring 20 beers on tap– including Brooklyn, Left Hand, Hofbrau, and Victory Festbier– and live music throughout the day. Things get going at noon.

For a more rustic dining experience, check out the Claude Moore Farm at Turkey Run in McLean. I hear the chicken rotisserie’d over an open fire, homemade cornbread and cider are worth the trip.

And for the dog-obsessed, there’s Barktoberfest at Capitol Hill’s Art and Soul. $35 a person, $5 for dogs buys treats for both as well as beer flights for owners.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in 1. by melissamccart on July 2, 2008

1) Sweet Heat. New York Times. In Brooklyn, summer is the season for jerk.

2) The Picnic Spread. Washington Post. Three caterers emphasize fresh and fast for a lovely picnic.

3) Spicing Up Sausages this Fourth of July. San Francisco Chronicle. Two dozen types of sausages for grilling.

4) Cool Drinks. LA Times.Aguas frescas have a long tradition in Mexico and Latin America, where the “fresh waters” — made with fresh fruit or rice, tamarind pods or dried hibiscus flowers, sugar and water — are the perfect thirst-quencher for hot weather and sometimes-hotter cuisine.”

5) Dried Cherries Now Expand the Market to Year Round. Chicago Tribune. How an industry was rescued.

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?


Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in 1. by melissamccart on April 2, 2008

1) At the Palazzo Las Vegas, It’s No Limit Dining. Los Angeles Times. This new, super luxe casino features Batali’s Carnevino, Puck’s Cut, Trotter’s Restaurant Charlie, Osteen’s Louis’ Las Vegas and Legasse’s Table 10.  Also in the LA Times: Neuvo Mexican.

2) Spoonbread Gets A Makeover, California Style. San Francisco Chronicle.  Cut the lard and add all kinds of farm fresh goodies.

3) Oil Boom. Chicago Tribune. “Sniff, sip and savor isn’t just about wine anymore. Olive oil is capturing the same allure for consumers attracted to its flavors and mystique.”

4) Some Good News on Food Prices. New York Times. How to feel good about paying more for groceries.

5) Step Up to the Plate. Washington Post.  The rundown on stadium food.


(Chicago Tribune photo)