Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bobby's Burger Palace on K Street

Feeling like a burger after two days of bland chicken at the conference, ended up trying out BBP with my fiance. We met at 11:30 and headed over to beat the lunch rush. Judging by the lines we saw while we were there, going early or going after the lunch rush is a great idea. What surprised me most of all, was it was already beer o'clock for a nearby patron. Two beer o'clock at that. 
 We went with the standard American cheese burger with lettuce, tomato and onion, with a bacon addition.
The burger was cooked really well, to the requested medium, and was nice and juicy. The sesame seed bun was nice and soft. 
Fries with special dipping sauce
Love all the different sauces on the tables. Onion rings looked nice too. 
BBP is a good burger. Some of the options are a little too fussy for me. In hindsight, it's also a super salty burger, and I spent part of the afternoon fighting a serious salt-induced food coma. I like the burger taste at BBP better than BGR. My fiance liked the burger too, although I think he may be partial to Shake Shack's griddled burger.

Sichuan Pavilion on K St

This week was worst than most. Had a 2-day conference in a Woodley Park hotel. The main challenge was surviving the 90 minutes commute including transferring to the Red Line at Chinatown, which is an exercise in extreme restraint. Too many people trying to fit into the trains, with massive clumping around the doors. Add a brute who shoves you out of the way to get on the train after you couldn't fit onto the first two trains, and it's a recipe for a miserable morning commute. 
After 9 hours of conference time, returned to the office to find a slew of time sensitive research requests. Five hours later, finally finished and met up with my hard-working fiance. Lacking the energy to head home and cook something, we went to our favorite Sichuan place near our offices.
 beef dumplings in spicy sauce
Sauce lacked the normal umph.
 Dan Dan Mein
My favorite dish. Love the noodles with fiery meat and spinach sauce.
Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms; Steamed Beef
This spicy red bowl of beef is intensely hot and spicy. The beef is soft in texture. On a cold night, this was super warming. With a Tsingtao and good conversation with my special guy, fabulous way to end a long day.

I heart Axian Sandwiches

I officially heart Axian. It's a tiny, slightly hidden basement lunch spot that has some of the best sandwiches around. Totally better than Potbelly, Lawson's and Pret a Manger. I really love the marbled rye bread. 
Turkey and provolone sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard. Exerting a great deal of self-control, I ate half with an orange and saved the other for the next day's lunch. Definitely tough when the sandwich tastes this good.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Delhi Club in Clarendon

Met up with a former MBA friend for dinner. While waiting for her, I stopped in the brand new Trader Joe's in Clarendon. We went to Delhi Club for an early dinner.
 Baigan Bharta and Chicken Vindaloo
Keema Naan

Work Day Lunches

I know I need to hit the gym after this week of gluttony. Work has been super stressful, with last minute, time sensitive research assignments for briefing the company President. Working until 8:30, 9 pm to meet deadlines and juggle seminars and think tank events, this has been a rough week at work. Man I need another vacation already. 
 Sichuan Express Buffet
Love the mapo tofu and sauteed baby bok choy. This is always the longest line in the food court, and for good reason. Great value and delicious food.
 Axian Daily Special
Chicken Cheesesteak and Bacon with Fries.
I should have stuck with a less caloric indulgence, but I needed some grease after my meeting fell through with the ethanol lobby. Definitely hate when someone cancels the meeting via email less than 3 hours before.
Havana Cafe Quarter Chicken with two sides.
They are very generous with the sides, with a piquant salad dressing and good black beans. This time the chicken was perfect, still juicy and wonderfully flavorful, falling off the bone. Delightful. Super filling.

What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

With the remains of our Thanksgiving feast, it becomes a effort to be creative in using leftover bits. I made the obligatory homemade turkey stock and turkey orzo soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, and then this bit of creativity.
Roast Turkey Leg with Thai Green Curry and Rice.
I used leftover bell pepper, enoki mushrooms, onion, green beans for the curry. Spicy and delicious.

Choong Hwa in Annandale

It appears almost every country has their own Chinese-influence cuisine. Unlike the grease-laden American-Chinese, Korean-Chinese food is spicy and delicious with a plethora of vegetables. Heading to Annandale with a friend to catch up, we ended up having lunch at Choong Hwa, a Korean-Chinese place near Shilla Bakery. 
 Bibimbap with rice on the side
Hamul Pajeon (seafood pancake) with jjambbong (seafood noodle soup)
This pancake was nice but not as delicious as the version served at Lighthouse (Vit Goel). The server cuts the noodles with scissors if you wish. In a spicy broth, it's a great warming noodle soup. Delicious lunch with a lovely friend. We had a stimulating talk about the nuclear crisis in Japan and how the radiation has turned her beautiful Fukushima hometown to an area of continual concern. While she wishes her family would leave the area and move elsewhere, it's not that easy to find new employment and a home. I understand that there's a fighting spirit and I hope the people will がんばれ!

Too Much Discovery Channel Deadliest Catch

Part of our post-Turkey Day weekend tv marathon included hours of Deadliest Catch. Really eye-awakening how hard a job it is for these Alaskan fishermen. I loved Captain Phil, and admit to crying while watching the episodes covering his illness and subsequent death. Part of me is really rooting for his sons to continue his legacy and succeed, although the episodes I saw did not bode well for the Cornelia Marie.
After watching the catch, I had a incredible craving for some crab legs. With this in mind, we set out to Old Town for dinner. With a seat at the Anchor Bar, connected to the Fish Market, we ordered a pupu platter of items. Some fresh oysters on the half shell, Buffalo wings (bit dry), New England clam chowder, and 2 pounds of snow crab legs. We shared everything and it was a delicious indulgence. Best part was sharing everything. It was a pricey meal. Next time we should stock up on some snow crab clusters from Super H Mart for a fraction of the price. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

One day a year, we gather together with friends and family to share a meal and give thanks for all the good things we have. Despite ups and downs in life, one constant positive is Thanksgiving, which remains firmly ingrained in the American psyche. It's a unifying national force, whether you like turkey or prefer a different main dish, it's about realizing all the things we have to truly be thankful for and sharing with others. With this in mind, we opened up our home to friends and family.
4:30 am skillet cornbread, apple pie, pumpkin pie
cranberry orange walnut bread and muffins, spinach gratin.
I'm thankful for the beautiful flowers from my sweet fiance.
I'm thankful that my fiance was in charge of the turkey this year. 
He believes in fully cleaning the turkey inside and out.
Beautifully roasted turkey.
Maybe it was all the skin manipulation or butter he massaged under the skin, but it was a lovely brown.
After realizing there were so many butter-laden dishes, I decided to add something a little lighter and brighter than my non-turkey eating friend could enjoy.
Shrimp, olives, artichokes, cucumber, parsley and orzo with a lemon-oregano dressing.
I made homemade cranberry sauce this year. 
It's not for everyone, but I loved the tartness as a palate refresher from the creamy spinach, mushroom gravy and dressing. Delicious food, good company and I got other people to play Scrabble with me. I'm thankful that my friend saw my post about pie dough failure and brought over a much-appreciated cherry pie and one of my favorite wines, Albarino. I'm also thankful that my fiance and I have 5 days off from work together, the first mini vacation since last Christmas.

Peking Gourmet Inn Pre-Thanksgiving

I took my first day off from work in six months to handle Thanksgiving dinner preparations. Despite having cooked the huge feast half a dozen times, I never seem to manage to make it as effortless an endeavor as the food magazines and Food Network celeb chefs make it look. This year, my fiance joined forces with me, and it was so wonderful to have a partner. Especially since my attempt at making dough was a complete failure, while my fiance's ad hoc version concocted with use of a potato masher and pasta scoop was fabulous. After a full day of prep work and discovering our hot water was out, we headed out for dinner at PGI.
Scallion dumplings, Hong Kong wonton soup and egg drop soup.
The dumplings are great, although the dumpling skins are thicker than Korean and Japanese dumplings.
Pork with Garlic Sprouts
The pork has a smoky flavor, and this was a great dish to share.
Yeo-Jen Shrimp
Perfectly fried with garlic bits.
Yang Chow Fried Rice.
This is not your typical Americanized soy sauce-laden fried rice dish. The shrimp were a weak point but the roast pork and chicken pieces were delightful.
Thankful for this Bounty and the best partner.

Lunches and Stuff

Some days are so busy I sit at my desk eating a sad sandwich or bowl of soup from home. Other days I pop out to indulge in something delicious for lunch.
Kaz Sushi Chicken Teriyaki Bento.
Wish there was a little more vegetables, but tasted good and definitely filling.
Maoz Junior Falafel Sandwich on Whole Wheat Pita.
Good flavored falafel with slightly bland toppings.
The best lunch on a cold, gray day.
Mabo tofu noodle soup from Sichuan Express.

Carmine's MBA Lunch Reunion

I met a bunch of interesting and diverse people in my MBA program. Since we graduated, a lot of changes have happened to my classmates. There were engagements, weddings, births and many got new jobs. We tried to meet up before, but Hurricane Irene cancelled plans for a bbq. We tried again and gathered for a late lunch at Carmine's. One couple has been married for a year, the other three couples were engaged, one as recently as that morning; and three had new jobs.
Fried calamari with marinara.
Nicely fried, good flavor and easy to share.
Portobella Mushrooms Parmigiana
Mushrooms breaded and covered in marinara and cheese.
Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce.
Spaghetti and Meatballs 
Shrimp Diavolo with Fettucini
Chicken Parmigiana
In hindsight, we should have diversified the ordering better. The dishes were predominantly red sauce or covered in cheese. They handle large tables well, and the portions are designed for sharing. It was great to see everyone and catch up, and I was particularly happy to hear about the latest engagement. 

Cooking at Home

Life has been a bit hectic in the run up to "The Fattening" aka Thanksgiving and I've been a bit behind on updating. We're trying to eat a bit more vegetables, and I'm trying to diversify what we eat so it doesn't get boring. Some days the creative juices flow, other times not so much.
Mini baked potatoes with broccoli and cheddar cheese.
Oven "fried" chicken legs.
With a craving for fried chicken and crispy crunchy skin, I searched for a recipe that would satisfy without adding an exorbitant amount of guilt. Bake at 425F chicken dusted in a seasoned flour. These smelled great, with the feel of fried chicken.
Vinaigrette coleslaw.
With a frozen package including the noodles and soup mix, I added a little more spice, some frozen seafood and vegetables.
Mini okonomiyaki

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Daniel O'Connells Part Deux

We headed back to Daniel O'Connells over the weekend for an early dinner. We learned last time that the restaurant fills up fairly early, especially when the upstairs area is booked for a private party. Although it was a bit cold outdoors, it was super cozy and warm upstairs.
 Beer-Battered Bangers with Fries and Curry Sauce
Although this plate was under the "appetizers" section, it's really a full meal. Great curry sauce and really nice fried sausages. Ordinary frozen fries.
 Shrimp Cocktail
I don't know why but this appealed to me.
 Guinness Cheeseburger on a bed of mashed potatoes
Burger is cooked to order, covered in Guinness cheese and sauteed onions, gravy  and two fried onion rings.
Mussels in White Wine with cream and bacon
Good but super salty.
Dinner was good, although the debate over where to house hunt was less agreeable. Unfortunately with the high price for houses in my preferred areas and our budget, buying a house with any amount of land is not possible unless we venture out to Loudoun County or farther afield. I've never had a driving desire to own an expansive home, and I definitely don't see the value in moving an hour+ car commute from where we work. HGTV marathons of House Hunters and Holmes Inspection also has me a bit wary.. I'm finally comfortable in Alexandria and hopefully we can find something that fits us without moving into suburbatory. 

Bangkok 54

My fiance has always said that he's not a big fan of Thai food in the area. I think it's because he hasn't gone to some of the better quality places. There's mediocre Thai around Old Town, but a short trip to Columbia Pike and it's a different world. Since we were working on a federal holiday, we headed out from our offices right at quitting time. We made it to Bangkok 54 in time for their happy hour specials, including discounted drinks and small plates.
 Grilled Beef Salad
Nice flavor profile, with a hit of fish sauce, spice, cilantro and red onion.
 Tom Yum Soup with Seafood
He would have preferred if the soup had a spicier kick to it. His mom has a recipe I need to try and learn.
 Spicy Mixed Seafood
The scallops were great, although I'm not a super fan of squid cut like this.
Green Curry with Shrimp
I love a good green curry, the sweetness of the coconut along with a spicy kick. This version was good but would have been nicer if a bit spicier.
Basil and chili fried rice with shrimp
The servers were really pleasant and attentive. For the first time, I sat over in the lounge area. Very comfortable banquette table and it was not as loud as the other side. Another time, I'd like to order the whole fish with chilies and garlic.  It was a nice change of pace, although for super spicy food, Korean soon dubu is still my go-to. With a comfortable experience and good Thai classics, the best feedback was my fiance finally liked a Thai place. 

Lawson's Deli Turkey Club

Rye bread, American cheese, sliced turkey with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Not a low-calorie lunch, but satisfying. I think I prefer the Club A sandwich at Axian but I was coming back from a lecture over at 15th St.