Monthly Archives: December 2009

A Foodie Christmas

So what do you get the foodie who has everything for Christmas? A bigger kitchen would be nice, but in lieu, Val and I received some awesome cooking goodies for Christmas. Thanks family and friends :)

Books

Food

Tools

Fun

  • Molecular Cooking Set. Val got this for me. And its awesome. I’d probably never get an opportunity to play around with molecular cooking otherwise. Saving this for a slow weekend so we can really enjoy playing around.

-Adam and Val

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“Restaurant” Review: Quarry House Tavern

Quarry House Tavern

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If you didn’t know about Quarry House Tavern, you’d probably never find it.  Located in downtown Silver Spring (#dtss), Quarry House is located under Bombay Gaylord Indian Restaurant, accessible by an unmarked staircase encased in plywood.  In other words, its the world’s greatest dive bar.

Val and I have been fans of Quarry House for a few years, hearing about it via a friend shortly after we moved to Silver Spring.  From the varied beer list to the homemade potato chips will dill dip to the tater tots that come with the burgers, Quarry House is my kind of place.  Upon walking into this basement establishment, you have the choice of sitting at the bar stocked with dozens of whiskeys, choosing a table in the dimly lit area around the bar, or heading to the back room with a jukebox at one end and floor to ceiling stacks of extra beer at the other end.  While Quarry House is often pretty full of eclectic 20 and 30 something Silver Springers, we always manage to find a table.

The Menu

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I usually order a seasonal draft and then move on to bigger and bolder beers.  The homemade potato chips with dill dip are a must, and I normally go with a burger and tater tots – save the extra dill dip for the tots.  Quarry House is a great place to hang out with friends or just take in the scene.  Sometimes they have bands, trivia on Sundays, and the jukebox is always ready to take your request.  In addition to their beer specials, Quarry House also has an extensive selection of whiskey.  Or checkout nearby Jackie’s, who also owns Quarry House.

Homemade Potato Chips will Dill Dip

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Matt’s Ten Fiddy, MmMm Good

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Tater Tots

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A Bit Too Much Beer…

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-Adam

Quarry House on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review Double Header: Rustico and ChurchKey

It’s Saturday.  You’ve been lazy, sleeping in, sitting around, reading, surfing the net, watching some tv.  It’s 7pm and you haven’t thought about dinner.  What do you do?  Pick up your best friends Matt and Marisa, drive half way across DC to Rustico, eat dinner, drink beer, drive half way across DC again to ChurchKey, eat dessert, and drink more beer.  Of course :)

Rustico

Located in a neighborhood away from downtown Alexandria proper, Rustico seems to attract a mostly neighborhood crowd.  After calling about reservations / call ahead, we were told call ahead only until 9:30pm, which I like b/c it gives everyone an equal chance.  After all, I don’t know where I want to eat hours, days, or even weeks in advance.  At least not always :)  During the drive to Rustico, we called ahead and put in our names.  After arriving, and waiting a bit longer then anticipated, we’re guessing the folks get a table a Rustico and stay for the night, or at least take their time.  After getting a booth by the window in the main dining room, we dug through their extensive and unique beer menu and I spontaneously ordered a “bucked of ranch tossed fries”.  Indeed, the fries were actually tossed in ranch, a first for me.  While quite yummie at first, the fries eventually were overtaken by the the ranch, becoming a bit soggy.  Not to worry though, because we had already ordered our meals.  I ordered duck confit pizza with duck cracklings, Brie, shallots, greens, and reduced balsamic vinegar, and Val ordered a burger with shallot aioli and fries.  Matt and Marisa had already eaten, so they ordered a salad and squash soup respectively.  The food was good, but not amazing.  But the quantities where large and the prices reasonable, but I wouldn’t drive for an hour to go there again; well maybe I would, just for the beer.  Segway, ChurchKey…

Ranch Tossed Fries

Ranch Tossed Fries @ Rustico

Duck Confit Pizza with Duck Cracklings

Duck Confit Pizza @ Rustico

Burger with Shallot Aioli and Fries

Burger @ Rustico

Rustico on Urbanspoon

ChurchKey

ChurchKey is located near Logan Circle in Washington, DC.  Although it only recently opened, Val and I had already been there once before.  Val and I (and Matt and Marisa) love beer, and ChurchKey is all about beer.  Owned by the same folks as Rustico, ChurchKey has a big, unique, and constantly chancing selection of beers from around the word.  It’s like Brickskeller, but with class.  P.S. I did love Brickskeller, but its been going down hill.  And ChurckKey has better food, and the same servers as Brickskeller (more on that in a bit).  ChurchKey also servers its beer in the correct glass (over 15 styles) and at the right temperature (one of four).  While this may sound like overkill, all the attention to quality products and quality serving pays off.  I was really able to taste all the flavors in the beer and appreciate it more since its served well.  When we asked our waitress about her favorite beers, she named one, two, three, …, eight.  She kept going and going.  It’s good to see that level of interest.  In fact, so far we’ve seen at least 2 servers who previously worked at Brickskeller working at ChurchKey.  Unlike our last visit, we were able to find a table pretty quickly, right by the front window.  We order 2 rounds of beer and some dessert since we had already eaten at Rustico.  Val and I split an oatmeal cookie sandwich filled with a cream cheese filling, while Matt and Marisa split an old fashioned ice cream sundae, complete with banana – both of which were very tasty.  All in all, it was a yummie evening, filled with good company.  And who else has gone to both Rustico and Churchkey in the same night?

Front Side of ChurchKey

ChurchKey

Old Fashioned Sundae and Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich

Desserts @ ChurchKey

Birch & Barley on Urbanspoon

-Adam and Val

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Cooking Class: Market Basket

Two Mondays ago was our final Culinary Skills Lab class at L’Academie de Cuisine.  And that can only mean one thing – Market Basket!  Somewhat like Iron Chef, the class is divided into teams, with each team choosing a secret ingredient, addition ingredients from the pantry, and winging the rest.  After pulling a random piece of paper out of a hat, Val and I had #5 (to pick from the pantry) and whole rock fish.  I didn’t see any fish.  Ah, it was in the refrigerator.

The Pantry

The Pantry

After a quick brainstorming session, we decided to pay homage to a great Asian fish dish we prepared during an earlier class.  In the original preparation, we grilled a whole red snapper after marinating it in Asian flavors, and then serving it with an Asian sauce with lots of hot peppers – yummie.  We also decided to make a small slaw on the side for texture and plate the fish on top of wasabi mashed potatoes.  I set to work breaking down the fish, first cutting out the filets and then skinning them.

Mis En Place

Mise En Plac

Along the way, Val suggested steaming the fish and sent one of the kitchen assistants in search of a hotel pan and a perforated steaming insert.  While Val worked on mis en place for the slaw – cabbage and julianed carrots, I made a marinade with soy sauce, mirin, ginger, galanga, scallions, siracha, and some sesame oil.  As the fish marinated, we peeled and started cooking the potatoes, and worked on a sauce for the fish with fish sauce, sugar, lime, jalapeno chilies, thai chilies, thai basil, and sesame oil.

Asian Sauce

Asian Sauce

After chatting w/ Chef Sandy, we decided to cut the fish into small cubes and also fry some ginger to garnish the dish.  As we whipped cream, butter, and wasabi into the potatoes, steamed the fish on two burners on the stove, sautéed the slaw, fried the ginger, and tasted the sauce, things got a bit crazy, but it was excellent in the end.

The Finished Product
Steamed rockfish with a spicy Asian sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes, fried ginger crisp, and a carrot cabbage slaw.

Steamed Asian Rock Fish

And that one only one of 10+ other amazing dishes.  Check out some of the other team’s creations…

Thin French Toast with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and Peanut Butter Sauce

French Toast with Peanut Sauce and Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream

Roasted Red Pepper, Pineapple, avocado, and shrimp Salad

Red Pepper Salad

Duo of Advocado Salad and Homemade Boursin with Bacon on Toast Points

Boursin and Bacon, and Advocado Salad

Pineapple Tart Te Tan with Pecans Three Ways and Homemade Whipped Cream

Pineapple Tart

After class, we thanked Chef Sandy with a ‘Till It’s Done mug that included a picture of her favorite – scalloped tongs.  After all, it was Chef Sandy who always answered the question “How long do I cook this?” with “Until it’s done”.  In the 24 weeks of Culinary Skills Lab, we learned about knife skills, chicken, pork, veal, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, salads, breads, sauces, wine, stock, soup, grains, pasta, and countless tips, techniques, and other good kitchen sense.  We met lots of great people and had an awesome time cooking, chatting, and sharing in the joy that is cooking.  Val and I thank our classmates, kitchen assistants, L’Academie, Table 5, and Chef Sandy for making it a great experience.  Until we take our next cooking class…

-Val and Adam, Table 5

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‘Till It’s Done Mug

Last night Val and I finished the last class of our 24 week Culinary Skills Lab. It’s been an amazing experience – learning lots of techniques and ingredients, meeting new people, and just trying new things in the art of cooking. I highly recommend taking this or other cooking classes – they’re fun and inspiring.

And to thank our teacher, Chef Sandy Patterson, we gave her this mug. After all, Until It’s Done is her saying. And she loves her scalloped tongs.

Order your own Cook It Till It’s Done mug.

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Restaurant Review: Bar-B-Que House

Since watching BBQ Pitmasters on Thursday night, I’ve been in the mood for some BBQ.  While our BBQ endevors over the summer produced some yummie BBQ, I wanted something quick and easy – I wanted to go out for BBQ.  The Washington DC metro area does have a couple BBQ joints, but they’re not all great and some are also quite a drive from our home in Silver Spring, MD.  However, after doing some searching on the Internet, I came across Bar-B-Que House in Laurel, MD, and it turned out to be a good choice.

Bar-B-Que House is located in a small unassuming building off Route 1, with about a dozen tables and a walk up counter for placing orders.  It’s a casual place who’s owners are friendly and welcoming; its the kind of place where you give em a quarter for a refill – on the honor system since its fill your own.  After sizing up the menu on the wall, Val ordered a pulled pork platter, with coleslaw, french fries w/ old bay, corn bread, and a coke.  I ordered a beef platter, with baked beans, french fries w/ old bay, corn bread, and a root beer.  After paying and filling our drinks, we grabbed a table in the dining room, noticing our fellow diners were a biker reading the Washington Post and two guys sitting at another table.  I think Bar-B-Que House might be the kind of place that does most of its business at lunch; they have a few daily lunch special on the menu.  Our food was ready in a few minutes.  Emm, BBQ craving fulfilled!  I put their Hot BBQ sauce on everything, including the beans.  Everything was yummie, and the BBQ sauce gave it a bit of a kick; good hearty Q.  We’ll certainly be back in the future – maybe for lunch.

Now maybe we should do a tour of all the BBQ joints in DC.  In the name of reviewing them of course, not so I can eat lots more BBQ :)

-Adam

Bar-B-Que House on Urbanspoon

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What’s for dinner?

In addition to loving food, I also happen to love photography.  I enjoy find new and interesting ways to look at things, and photography is a great way to showcase the visual excitement in food.  So a few months ago, I decided to start “photoblogging” food that Val and I ate for dinner.  Photoblogging = a photo + a short description.  So when we make something yummie or eat an interesting meal out, we post our photos to our “What’s For Dinner” photoset on Flickr.

Here’s a few of the more recent posts…

12.01.2009 Brussel Sprouts

12.01.2009 Poor Man’s Roast

11.05.2009 Spicy Pumpkin Soup

And look for future post’s with the category “What’s For Dinner”.

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