Counter Intelligence

Road Food

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on March 10, 2009

Driving back from South Carolina after the Charleston Food and Wine Festival took nearly ten hours with traffic and construction. Since I had just been eating and drinking all weekend, it didn’t occur to me to pack something delicious. I thought I was full. The Lee Brothers, who grew up in Charleston and were in town for festivities, have a list of food stops from Charleston to New York, their home away from home. For me, that’s a few stops too many. I want to be done with the drive.

So what to do when you’re hungry on a road trip? My friends give in to their guilty pleasure is Chick- Fil-A. I like swedish fish, boiled peanuts,or cashews for the drive.  What’s your favorite road food?


Maverick Kitchen

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on March 8, 2009

Vidalia chefs Jeff Buben and RJ Cooper during dinner hour at of Slightly North of Broad in Charleston. The chefs teamed up with Frank Lee’s staff for a terrific dinner that garnered a standing ovation and cheers at the end.

Maverick Southern Kitchens also owns High Cotton and a few others in the area. Like Washington, Charleston is somewhat cushioned from the effects of the recession, according to James Moring, restaurant broker for The Commonwealth Company. Certainly it’s been the case during Charleston Food and Wine Weekend, which has been maybe too much fun.


Why are DC restaurants faring well?

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on March 4, 2009

In writing today’s Drive Time for Dining Moguls, I spent a couple weeks interviewing restaurant owners, trend trackers, real estate brokers and others to pull together the piece.  Lynne Breaux, president of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, was among them.  Here’s more of her commentary as to why Washington restaurants are doing well:

The metropolitan Washington DC (MDC) restaurant industry is amazingly resilient and as evidenced during this current economic crisis relatively healthy. Many factors play into this. With the change in the administration and with the world looking to Washington for solutions to the crisis, the new and energetic arrivals to town need to eat, meet, interact, and socialize and one of the most productive ways to exchange information and problem-solve is over a meal. . . .

There is concern over rising food costs, increasing taxes, licensing fees and regulations while at the same time the consumer is adjusting their spending habits downward.Thankfully restaurateurs continue to adapt to the changing economy by creating cost effective dining options.

The new President likes dine out in his new hometown and the resultant press coverage has engendered an Obama bounce!

Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on March 4, 2009

gus1) Drive Time for Dining Moguls. Washington Post.  How local restaurateurs are weathering the recession– better than you’d think.

2) Turning to Cube Steak, And Back to Childhood. New York Times. “The cube steak is suddenly one of the hottest cuts of beef in the country, according to figures from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.”

3) String Theory. LA Times. How to use kitchen string. It’s like a McSweeney’s piece:”The hardest thing about string,” says Mélisse chef-owner Josiah Citrin, who uses twine to tie meat in shape before cooking it sous-vide, among many other things, “is to make sure it’s not in the meat when you serve it.”

4) Now It’s Salt’s Turn. Boston Globe. First, trans fat. Now salt is under scrutiny. Again.

5) A Fan’s Cry to Save a Restaurant. Chicago Tribune. Keep Mr. Beef Alive!

(photo by James Thresher)

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on February 25, 2009

1) Wonkish Appetites Unite. Washington Post. Yay Internet Food Association.

2) Brooklyn’s New Culinary Movement. New York Times.  “It’s that guy in the band with the big plastic glasses who’s already asking for grass-fed steak and knows about nibs,” Ms. Langholtz said.”

3) Recession Takes a Big Bite Out Of LA Restaurants. LA Times. “It was a moment of self-analyzation. And I realized I’m offering diamonds and rubies to a market that can no longer afford it.”

4) Bar Stars. San Francisco Chronicle. Meet the Bay area top bartenders.

5) A Family Recipe That Travels Around the World. Boston Globe.  Cabbage pie via Tokyo.

Get Fat

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on February 24, 2009

While you may not be a part of a krewe , you’ll have plenty to choose from to celebrate Fat Tuesday’s Mardi Gras. Metrocurean suggests foodie events, which include those at Acadiana, Mio and Central. Fritz Hahn offers drinking and parade options.  Tuesday night sessions at Bar Pilar are another option.

Homebodies can pick up some Abita at  Cleveland Park Liquors or Cheesetique and a King Cake at Alexandria’s Buzz Bakery for a sweet tooth. Priced at $25, these multi-colored, doughnut-shaped cakes are filled with raspberry and cream cheese. And if you get the mini baby baked inside, it’s not just good luck. You’re next year’s Mardi Gras host.

Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on February 18, 2009

1) Your Morning Pizza. New York Times. I love this article since I’m obsessed with making breakfast pizza: greens, fresh grated parm, some bacon and a poached egg and you’re set. More satisfying than Cheerios and less of a nap than pancakes.

2) A Rare Four Star Restaurant Review. LA Times. Congrats Jose Andres!

3) Chiarello Back in his Element at Lusty Bottega. San Francisco Chronicle. Away from the camera and back in the kitchen.

4) Recipes Can Make You Fat. Boston Globe. Over the past 70 years, recipes have packed on 40% more calories.

5) Pasta Pairings By The Numbers. Washington Post. 12 Pastas, 6 Sauces, 10 Cheeses.

Save the Date: April 18th Southern Foodways Potlikker

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on February 16, 2009

sfapotlikker_dc_lorezCheck out an evening of southern fare, song and film at this year’s Southern Foodways Potlikker Film Fest April 18th at Johnny’s Half Shell from 6-9pm. 

The event features jazz by Jimmy Burrell and film shorts, including  “A Short History of Sweet Potato Pie,” –the story of St. Mary’s Retirement Home cook, Pearl Mallory.  Other films showcase Mississippi’s Taylor Grocery, Jones Valley Urban Farm in Alabama and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. 

It’s the eats I’m the most excited about, such as woodfired Florida hoecakes from Chef T of Creme, buttermilk brined fried chicken from Gillian Clark of Georgia Avenue Meeting House, heirloom pigs in handstitched blankets from Jeff Buben of Vidalia, Delta catfish tamales from Ann Cashion of Johnny’s Half Shell and Jack and sweets pie from David Guas of damgoodsweetPotlikker shots made by Mark Furstenburg.

Here’s the deal. Tickets are $40 and only available online via Southern Foodways. No tickets can be purchased at Johnny’s; no tickets can be bought at the door the day of the event. Interested? Order here.

Power Play

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on February 15, 2009

zolaAll month long, Zola Wine & Kitchen has held its Italian cooking series in a nod to the soon to open sibling, Potenza.  The name–  a reference to owner Dan Mesches’ grandmother– translates to power or might in Italian.

Housed in the former Woody’s department store, Potenza will feature a bakery in the building’s former lobby, a salumeria and a Woodstone pizza oven.  Among other design flourishes, booths are made from church pews, a sleek zinc bar lines the lounge, and tile flooring winds in intricate patterns that vary from room to room. The restaurant takes kitchen as theater to the nth degree: one whole room is halved by the action, with tables to serve as front row seating.

Can’t wait until the March opening? Bryan Moscatello’s touts the cuisine to come in this Wednesday’s pizza class or the gnocchi session next week. Classes are $70 and run from 6:30 to 8:30. Classes sizes are limited and reservations are required. Check out the website or register here.

DCists Cook

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on February 13, 2009

Three newish blogs I’ve been reading lately are home cooking focused from current and former writers.  I adore the site and the people who I met through writing. DCist was the first local site I wrote for after moving from New York several years ago.

 Check them out:

1) District Plates: A brand new blog from former Eating In writer, Scott Reitz. The site features menu suggestions, cooking techniques and in the kitchen narratives on local chefs.

2) Missy’s Recipes: Though the blog isn’t new, it’s new to me. Restaurants and Retail columnist for The Washington Business Journal, Missy Frederick reports on what’s cooking in her kitchen (and, after tasting her short ribs, I can attest she’s a terrific home cook. ) Frederick’s new column, “Top Shelf” debuts today. Though it’s subscription only, it’s the featured free on Monday.

3) Internet Food Association: Though this one has been around a couple months, the site, which includes regular dcist writers Amanda Mattos and Kriston Capps, has recently become one of my go-to’s for daily food musings and recipes.