Saturday, April 28, 2012

Farewell Honey Pig

Dear Honey Pig, it's not you, it's well...the other riffraff that has taken over and decided to treat your restaurant like a crazy clubhouse where normal comportment is ignored. We have frequented HP for years, and I even like the frenetic K-pop interspersed with US pop music. I put up with the crazy Groupon/Living Social crowds and surly service. I draw the line at people dressed as Furries. HP has officially jumped the shark.
Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!
Pretty Kalbi, Bizarre view from our table.
Hello spicy pork belly... and random costumed patrons.
One of these things is not like the other...
Isn't there a 'No Shirt, No Service' rule here? Especially around open flame?
Notice the number of Furballs standing around, and lingering (meanwhile the number of people waiting for tables was growing and they showed not inclination to do more than semi-undress. Rude.)
Oh, and Madame Butterfly's outfit was especially not Family-friendly.
Food is influenced by the atmosphere.
I'll give the Centreville Honey Pig another look, but Annandale, there's too many other options of delicious Korean establishments. 

Spring Brunch

Springtime has come to the farmers' market. I invited a friend over for an impromptu brunch and then needed to figure out what to make that was seasonal, healthy and delicious. I even woke up early enough to visit the Old Town Alexandria farmers' market. 
The market had ramps!
Ramps are a wild leek and only available for a short period in the spring.
With some ramps, fresh asparagus and free range eggs from the farmers' market, I made a springtime quiche with a bit of goat cheese.
Light spring salad with orange bell peppers and balsamic vinaigrette.
A homemade salad dressing brings this to life, with dijon mustard, good balsamic vinegar, olive oil and herbs, shaken in a Totoro salad dressing cruet that was a gift from one of my fiancee's kind coworkers.
Main Platter
Hard-boiled eggs from the farmers' market, roasted asparagus and pork loin with scallions.
Grapefruit slices, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and tomatoes.
I like to put out brunch dishes and let people serve themselves. Sort of take what you fancy.
Wonderfully spicy Malbec wine from Wine and Bean shop in Old Town.
The potatoes were a bit underwhelming. If I did this menu again I would roast them in the oven longer. Potatoes aside, the conversation was fun, and the company was great. One day, I'll have a super big kitchen again, larger than the size of a ship's galley, and then watch out...

Quick Weeknight Dinners

We haven't had a big Super H Mart grocery shopping trip in a while so I've been scavenging through our pantry and freezer. After we ran out of fresh produce, I requested a quick(ish) trip to Trader Joes after work. In the Old Town area, TJs has good prices, much better than Whole Foods, and better produce (albeit limited variety) compared to the Giant and Safeway nearby. During the week, the lines are much shorter than the weekend.
Tortellini with spinach, tomato sauce with onion, garlic and mushroom and sausage.
Miso Soup, soft tofu with soy and katsuobushi, apple slices, salad, sushi, umeboshi and chicken teriyaki don. My fiance brought home a leftover bento from an office lunch that we shared, with the addition of soup, tofu and apple. Amazing that we could split one bento with small additional dishes and be satisfied. 

Weekday Lunches

This week, like every work week, was super busy. There were some fascinating events hosted by the area think tanks, and I found myself with 2, 3 events a day. I really love this aspect of my job, where I have the opportunity to go see to some of the leading thinkers of a wide variety of topics discuss current events and constantly learn new things. I even had a chance to see 9 members of the Uzbekistan Parliament discuss progress and prospects for the former Soviet state. With a busy schedule, I picked up some quick lunches.
Lunch 1: Lobster bisque with a piece of bread.
Devon and Blakely have an ever-changing array of soups at varying price points.
Axian Reuben with steak fries
I love supporting this quirky little small business that makes super sandwiches.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ga Bo Ja Restaurant

We tried out a different Korean restaurant in Annandale last night.While we frequent Korean bbq and soon dubu places, we often stick with our favorite places. GaBoJa specializes in fish, with both sashimi and sushi on the menu, along with special Korean dishes. I originally saw a photo of the sashimi platter and wanted to try it out.
 Next time we'll come here and order from the list of special dishes.
 Since the Small platter is $45, it's a good idea to share this with a few people.
The other items only in Hangul include fresh flounder sashimi, and another includes special seafood including abalone, according to our server.
 We didn't try the sushi. The other tables all had platters of sashimi, so we went with that.
 Sliced squid with kochujang sauce on lettuce.
The panchan were excellent, with a wide variety and well-executed.
 Nice array of textures and flavors.
 Hot corn and butter (free dish)
 Enoki and onion with butter (free)
 Braised fish (free)
 Spicy fish soup and a fluffy egg dish were also free dishes.
By the time we had grazed through the parade of panchan and other assorted dishes they gave us, we were already pretty full.
 Finally an item we ordered: hamul pajeon (scallion and seafood pancake)
A little more rustic in preparation than other versions we've tried, very delicious.
Small Sashimi Platter
The fish was very good, except for the tuna, which came out still a little frozen.
The servers here are very attentive and kind. It's a smaller restaurant about half the size of Vit Goel and miles smaller than Honey Pig. Located to the right of Cafe Tu Ah, the sign is blue and says Korean and Japanese cuisine. 

Peking Gourmet Inn

We went to PGI for dinner, indulging in some of our favorite things. I particularly like their soups and my fiance loves their duck, carved tableside. While we ordered a large amount of food, we took home the leftovers and had two more delicious meals. Only downside, was the slower than normal pace of service.
 Wonton Soup
 Hot and Sour Soup
 Pork pan-fried dumplings
 PGI duck, cucumber and sliced onions to be wrapped in the pancakes.
The small dish of green peppers are my fiance's favorite. They are so fiery hot, he starts dripping with sweat as he enjoys them.
Pork with garlic sprouts, Yang Chow fried rice.

Farmers' Market Brunch

I stopped by the Takoma Park farmers' market last weekend with my friend. They had some great spring produce including tomatoes, cucumbers, new potatoes and spinach.
Fresh and healthy.
Tomato and cucumber salad, sauteed spinach, roasted new potatoes and roasted salted mackerel.


Pizza takeout from Washington Deli Pizzeria on 20th between I and K Street, and bacon cheddar burger from Chef Geoff's. Not the healthiest of lunches this week. (sigh)

Meatball pizza and vegetable pizza slices.
The crust is very thin and had a nice crunch.
With an all-day computer training course over near Metro Center, I had an hour break for lunch. Fairly good lunch at Chef Geoff's bar. The fries were very good, and the bacon was just right. I wish the burger had been cooked a little closer to medium-rare and less red in the center.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Brunch at Jackson 20 aka "that pig place"

Easter weekend snuck up on me this year. Maybe it's partially because work has been pretty hectic lately, or that last year my previous job included Good Friday as an office holiday. Maybe I was sleeping or oblivious, but when did Easter join the ranks of national holidays with Christmas and New Years? A number of stores and restaurants were closed for Easter Sunday. Oh well, guess I'll go wedding dress shopping another day.
Fortunately Jackson 20 was open for brunch with my friend. It's great to have a friend who can understand you when you say, 'you know, that pig place is around here', and she knows which place I'm talking about.
Average Bloody Mary
J20 definitely specializes more in mimosas.
Smoked Salmon Platter
J20 plays with the menu items and doesn't always stick closely to tradition. I kind of wish they did with this one. I missed the raw red onion with lemon and slices of tomato. The pickled red onion just didn't have the right bite. A whipped cream cheese would be an improvement too.
Biscuit with gravy
I think they use a maple sausage in the gravy. It's a tad on the sweet side, and the biscuit was buttered and griddled.
Side of grits with cheddar cheese
This was my favorite dish. The grits are nice and creamy, and a poached egg with a side of pork would make a perfect brunch meal.

Posto Restaurant on 14th

We had a long day at a work-related symposium on Saturday. Foregoing our normal leisurely weekend morning routine, we were busy from 7:30 am throughout the day at the event. After completing our work-related responsibilities, we ducked out and headed out for an early dinner. We scored a great parking spot on 14th Street and ambled the sidewalks until Posto opened up.

Rosemary Foccacia
Polipetti $12
Grilled baby octopus with chickpeas, yellow pepper and frise.
Super light but flavorful, a nice fresh start to the meal.
Burrata with fried basil leaf and light garlic sauce. $13
This is a phenomenal dish. The silkiness and creaminess of the burrata cheese is outstanding. By sharing the two dishes, we had the best of both worlds.
Paglia e Fieno $18
Egg and spinach fettucini with veal ragu
Spaghetti with shrimp, squid, scallops and light tomato sauce $17
Both pastas were delightful. We shared pastas, eating half of one and then exchanging plates. The veal ragu was very rich and unctuous. The seafood tomato sauce was very light with a perfect al dente pasta. 
We first went to Posto almost two years ago when we first started dating. It was nice to return and see that the food was still as good as I remembered. I hopefully we will return again after we're married and enjoy another special meal at Posto.

International Square Lunch Takeout

Every week is a busy week these days. I like to go to Axian and support the non-chain small business, but there are only so many sandwiches I can eat. Heading over to International Square, I generally check to see how long the line is at Sichuan Express before deciding where to go. 
Indian Delight 2-curries with rice
Chole (chana masala) and daal with white rice.
The Indian takeout spot changed ownership and instead of vegetarian only, they now change the curries and include some meat options.
Good Friday = no lines at Sichuan Express
Bok choy, egg with shrimp, mapo dofu and sesame chicken.
This is not a good lunch to eat when you need to be super productive in the afternoon, but it was definitely delicious on a colder, blustery day. Good thing I already planned to hit the gym after work.

Aditi in Kingstowne

I have been searching for the spice and flavor to cut through my allergy-addled senses. After working late one night, we headed to Kingstowne to Aditi since I was craving Indian. I remembered really great spicing from a previous visit.  The full parking lots were a bad omen for a fast dinner. After finally finding a parking spot, we waited for a table.  Once 5-10 minutes we were given a table, and then waited again for menus. Then a wait for drinks and someone to take our order. Wait after wait, it took over 45 minutes for our food to come out.  
Regular Thali with lamb curry, rice, daal, lemon pickle, raita, kheer and vegetable curry. $15
My fiance chose the lamb kabob. $15
I shared the rice and different dishes with my fiance. I was a little surprised that his kabob did not come with a side of rice. He prefers the kabobs at Moby Dick. I like the food at Aditi, but the wait, especially since we didn't have any appetizers, was way too long. 

Moby Dick in Kingstowne

We tried to hit the driving range at Top Golf in Kingstowne so my fiance could brush off the cobwebs after a long winter break from golfing before a business golf match. We kitted him out with a new golf bag, since his other one had briefly become a winter home for some squirrel squatters. Apparently we weren't the only ones lured to Top Golf, which had a two hour wait. Before heading to a no-frills golf range nearby, we stopped in for a bite at Moby Dick.
Love the bread with the cucumber sauce.
Combo #3 with lamb and beef and rice.
Combo #2 with chicken and beef with salad.
This was a massive amount of food. I really should have only had one kebab with the salad, but both were great. Super juicy and very flavorful kebabs. My fiance really enjoyed the lamb.