Counter Intelligence

Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on August 26, 2009

1) Farm to Hub to Table. Washington Post. How groups are getting produce to restaurants and stores more efficiently.

2) Good Tips. New York Times. Frank Bruni’s last column. Best sushi place, how to navigate a menu, and delicious marrow for its “druggy” taste at Marea, etc.

3) Spain’s Hidden Treasure Wine. LA Times. Albarino is touted as one of the most lovely whites, particularly for summer. “‘The best white wines in the world are from very extreme areas and we are one of those,’ Amoedo says. I don’t think I’ve tasted a better 2008 Albariño than Martin Códax, with green apple and peach flavors and excellent balance.”

4) Barbecue and Beyond. Wall Street Journal. Barbecue and breakfast are among the reasons to go to Richmond for a food jaunt, according to Ray Sokolov. Just don’t go until summer traffic is over, or  you’ll spend four hours going 90 miles there and back like I did last weekend.

5) Book Review: Vefa’s Kitchen. Chicago Tribune.“At just more than 700 pages, this book is encyclopedic in scope. If you can’t find a particular Greek dish here, it probably wasn’t Greek in the first place.”


Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

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

1) Snob Appeal. Washington Post. Won’t someone knock heirloom tomatoes off their pedestal? I like the lowly Jersey tomatoes myself.

2) Image Problem? Don’t Pity the Bell. New York Times. I’m not alone in my green pepper dislike.

3) Now That’s Flour Power. LA Times. How to make perfect biscuits.

4) A Kernel of Truth. San Francisco Chronicle. Corn as dessert and other recipes.

5) Learning to Cook More Cheaply. Chicago Tribune. Five suggestions from culinary instructors.

Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on August 5, 2009

1) To Go Upscale, Put a Cork in It. Washington Post. “Frankly, beer goes better with food than wine.”

2) The Cake Guy Shares His Secrets of Success. LA Times. “Like most people, I’d always thought making a cake from scratch was only for the heroic. In fact, Nancie McDermott’s book showed me that all you have to do is beat butter and sugar to a cream, beat in some eggs and add flour and milk in alternating batches, and there’s your batter. ¶ Wow, really have to lie down and recover after all that. ¶ I’m a different person now. People see me and say, “Hey, Cake Guy!” Because I’m usually carrying a cake around with a goofy grin on my face.”

3) Relaxing the R Rule. San Francisco Chronicle. Why we can eat oysters year round.

4) Getting Away, But Not From Cooking. New York Times. Writer of Unaccustomed Earth, The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri muses on her vacation kitchens and the pleasure of a skillet crisp.

5) Lament for the Old Fashioned Restaurant Critic. New York Observer. Bruni replacement to be announced by the week’s end.

Chin-Chin for Gin in July, Part Two

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 29, 2009

I don’t have a ridiculous sweet tooth, but for some reason I can’t get enough of baking spices in cocktails. Last year, it was Tom Brown’s Rum Punch. This summer, it’s sangria at New Heights. Two types of red wines, a white wine, Granny Smith and Fuji apples, lemons, limes, oranges, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg, soaked overnight and strained, its really quite nice.

I may be sucker for star anise, but when it’s 90 degrees, I veer toward gin. Should you not get a $100 dollar ticket like I did the last time I went to New Heights, you too can thoroughly enjoy the most refreshing spirit of summer. Not sure what kind of gin pleases your palate? Check out these crib notes from the New Heights Gin Manifesto: (more…)

Chin-Chin for Gin in July, Part One

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 28, 2009

DC Bartenders Guild’s reminder that July is Rickey month made me thirsty for one or several, so I recently did a drink around inspired by the Rickey contest to be held at Bourbon on August 3rd.

“A Rickey should quench your thirst,” says Derek Brown of The Gibson and The Passenger , set to open late fall. Bourbon’s Owen Thomson encourages the quick sip by serving his super-refreshing Watermelon Rickey with a straw .

I always thought Rickeys had to be made with bourbon or gin, but Brown sets the record straight in his column for  The Atlantic Food Channel:

. . .  is a category of mixed drinks made from a base spirit, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and topped with carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the Rickey. Originally made with Bourbon whiskey, the Rickey was invented in Washington, D.C. around 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar by bartender George A. Williamson, purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey. It became a worldwide sensation when mixed with gin.

In addition to Owen’s, I sampled the jalapeno spicy, Is that A Cucumber in Your Pocket? from Sebastian Zutant at Proof, the terrific pickled cherries in the Crickety Rickey at Zaytinya, the best liquid summer dinner–roasted red pepper Rickey at Rasika, a lovely classic Bourbon Rickey at Poste Brasserie, and a tiki-inspired Rickey from Tiffany Short at The Gibson. I’d like to sample others featured in this year’s contest over the next couple days.

In the meantime, mark your calendar for Monday, August 3rd at Bourbon where, starting around 6 pm, cocktailians can vote for their favorite Rickey.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 15, 2009

1) Tales of the Tales. Washington Post. Jason Wilson talks trends from this year’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

2) The History of Gyro. New York Times. If you ever want to eat gyros again, you may want to skim this and skip the video.

3) Fresh Herbs at the Center of Vietnamese Cuisine. Los Angeles Times.  A slew of ideas.

4) Which Pie Crust is Right for You? Boston Globe. I’m the worst pie maker ever and I’ve apparently found help.

5) New Takes on Deviled Eggs. Chicago Tribune. In case you’re in a deviled egg rut. (Their text, not mine.)

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Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 7, 2009

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Lobster Lust

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 6, 2009

In Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne Goin says she didn’t get her mom’s lust for lobsters, that it just wasn’t something she craved. My mother is less than excited about them, while my father and I have what Goin calls “that lobster bond.” I can’t help but love them, even when they’re not local, such as this past visit to Pawleys when my father ordered a couple. Kind of odd, since shrimp and grouper and whatever else is so fresh and accessible by their home. But he’s from Boston. Who can blame him on Father’s Day?

Like reading the Sunday New York Times, I eat lobster in an order that’s become a ritual. As a kid, I used to savor the tailfin first, separating flesh from shell with my fingertips, like a plastic bag at the farmer’s market. Then I’d suck juice from the legs, crack and pick the joints, then savor the claw meat last. Tamale and tail, I’d give to my dad or whomever.  I know, it’s the best part, I just like the rest of it better.

Post Father’s Day, I wanted to do something with the leftovers, which led me to the lobster roll. I’m not always into them. Especially when the bread is average, I’m bored. For that matter, I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches anyway. (I usually take them apart.) And I’m not really a fan of store-bought mayonnaise, either. So I decided to make them open faced with homemade aioli and fresh herbs.

I took a potato roll (though ideally, brioche), cut it in half and toasted it til golden in a pan with melted butter. Then I made a homemade mayo, kind of like this one, with olive oil, an egg yolk, fresh tarragon and lemon juice. I took chopped lobster tail and a diced carrot, added some mayo, fresh cracked pepper, a little salt, more tarragon, some grated lemon rind, and plated it on baby greens and half the warm roll.

Just enough toasty buttered bread as the base for a heap of lobster meat was a delicious take on the standard. Another rendition I’d like to try is Gourmet‘s no mayonnaise lobster roll from this month’s issue. Have a favorite lobster roll recipe? Share it in the comments.


Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 1, 2009

1) The Sweet Dream Team. LA Times. Make your own ice cream sandwiches.

2) The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts. NY Times.Insider baseball for burger freaks.

3) ISO a Summer Cocktail. Washington Post. Jason Wilson makes the Negroni better. (Despite his reference to the most disturbing Hemingway story ever, I loved this column.)

4) Where’s Boston’s Best Pizza? Boston Globe. A city pizza crawl.

5) Wine is the Star. SF Chronicle. Wine takes the center at Michael Mina’s newest restaurant, RN74.

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.