Sunday, April 5, 2009


Yo he visitado Washington DC con mi hermana durante el festival de los cerezos en flor. Mi hermana y yo fuimos a Jaleo por la cena.

Jaleo is one of the many restaurants owned by José Andrés in the DC area. He's known for his PBS cooking show, "Made in Spain." Jaleo in Penn Quarter is his first restaurant and it is still bien popular.

We arrived a bit early for our reservation. While waiting for our table, we shared of carafe of the white sangria, made with cava, strawberries and mint. After we were seated, we ordered a variety of the tapas to share.

Gambas al ajillo
The very, very famous tapa of shrimp sautéed with garlic & guindilla pepper
Gambas al ajillo is one of the classic Spanish tapas. It was probably my favorite dish of the night. The tender shrimp were cooked in garlic, wine and olive oil. I had to ask for more bread so I could finish the sauce from the dish.

Buñuelos de bacalao
Fried salt cod fritters and honey alioli
These were little nuggets of crispy fried salt cod and potato goodness. I liked them dipped in the regular garlic aioli that had come with the rossejat.

Traditional fried pasta, paella style, with monkfish and shrimp, cooked in a seafood broth
Although I wanted the paella as well, it was far too large for two people. The rossejat was a simplified type of paella with bits of monkfish and shrimp. It came with a side of garlicky aioli, which was stirred into the noodles before eating. This dish reminded my sister of the fried rice noodles that our mother made for when we were growing up.

Pimientos del piquillo rellenos de queso
Piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese
We had to get at least one vegetable dish, albeit one that's stuffed with cheese and cooked in olive oil. The sweet roasted peppers contrasted nicely with the goat cheese.

Chistorra envuelta en patata frita
Slightly spicy chorizo wrapped in a crispy potato
Sausage wrapped in a potato chip, then deep fried. It's like pigs in a blanket, but a whole lot better.

Rabo de toro con naranjas
Braised boneless oxtail served with oranges, potato puree and PX red wine sauce
I love slow braised meats. These oxtails were braised, shredded, then formed into a disc shaped. The orange segments balanced the richness of the oxtails and sauce.

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema Catalana
A classic Spanish custard with ‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and oranges
We went for the classic Spanish dessert: flan. The flan was very rich and creamy. Considering that the chef once cooked at El Bulli, there had to be foam somewhere in the meal. I had the dessert with a café cortado and I was done for the night.

The service was pretty good, especially considering how busy the restaurant was that night. I thought the prices were pretty reasonable. Dinner for two, including wine and dessert, was about $100.

480 7th St., NW
Washington, DC 20004

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tartine Bakery

I have a love/hate relationship with Tartine. I love the pastries, cakes, breads, get the idea. Tartine is the best bakery in San Francisco. Mark Bittman of the NY Times called Tartine, "My favorite bakery in the United States."

It's always crowded at Tartine, but I think some things are worth the wait. What I really hate is the pissy attitude of the wait staff. They may have the best croissant outside of France. But seriously dude, it's a croissant. In order to get anything, you also have to put up with some total bullshit attitude. Which is why I can only stand to go there about once a year. It seems that the wait staff turns over pretty frequently and I don't have to deal with the same disaffected wanker behind the counter again. I just have to deal with a different pissy bakery employee.

Eclairs and genoise and croque madames, oh my!

Croissants and Pain au Chocolat
Sweet, sweet, buttery sweet

Coconut Cream Pie
The pie has a pate feuilletee crust lined with chocolate and caramel, then filled with coconut cream.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hank's Oyster Bar

It was unseasonably warm in DC. I didn't get to see much of the city. Certainly there as been a lot of changes since the last time I went to DC.

Under new management

I was in DC for a quick trip. One of my friends suggested Hank's Oyster Bar as a place to try. She said that they served the world's best mac & cheese. The topic of what is the world's best mac & cheese will have to be discussed in another post. However, I do feel that I make a very good mac & cheese, which makes me a good judge of that dish.

Things are just a bit different in DC. The concierge at the hotel said that it would be a long walk to the restaurant and there was a bit of a hill. Where I come from, hills look like this or this. It was a 15 minute walk and the route was completely flat.

Fried oysters, Old Bay seasoned fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce
I was too late for the $1 oyster happy hour. Instead, I had the fried oyster dinner.

Mac & Cheesy
There seemed to be some smoked gouda and cheddar in the sauce. Is it the world's best mac & cheese? Well, I thought it was very good. But I am still very happy with my version.

Hank's Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street NW
Washington DC

Friday, January 16, 2009

Town Hall

Town Hall is my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. The restaurant is a Californian take on Creole cooking. The ambiance is always warm and inviting. I've liked almost everything I've had a the restaurant. The downside is that it is the place is incredibly loud, especially at dinner.

I was really happy when Town Hall was on the Dine About Town restaurant week list this year. The menu changes daily.

Puree of root vegetable soup
The soup was very smooth and velvety. It tasted predominately of potatoes and parsnips.

BBQ Shrimp
BBQ shrimp is a classic New Orleans dish. There were several large shrimp cooked in a sauce of creole seasoning and butter. It was hard not to lick the plate clean.

Veal Meatballs
Many restaurants in SF now have meatball themed nights. The veal meatballs are usually only served at dinner. I was glad that they had it for lunch. The gravy was a bit salty, but mashed potatoes were very good and buttery.

Chocolate and Butterscotch Pot de Creme
This is their signature dessert. It's essentially a chocolate and butterscotch pudding, but it's very good pudding.

Town Hall
342 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Burma Superstar

My sister (and fellow food blogger) flew out to San Francisco to visit me for my birthday. She has a great fondness for all things coconut and I thought that she would enjoy going to Burma Superstar. My sister seemed wary despite my reassurances that it's one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Even a recommendation from Michelin Guide didn't seem to convince her. The name is somewhat ostentatious and it didn't really help that I called it Burma SUPERSTAH!, à la Mary Katherine Gallagher.

Burma Superstar is a very popular restaurant. We arrived at the restaurant at around 4:45pm and there were already a dozen people in line waiting for the place to open. Since it doesn't take reservations, lining up before the place opens is pretty much the only way to guarantee that you'll get table for dinner.

Burma is located between China, India, and Thailand and the cuisine reflects influences from those countries. However, many of the flavors and ingredients are unique to Burma. The service was very friendly and efficient. The hostess helped guide us through the menu and made many recommendations.

Tea Leaf Salad
We started with the Tea Leaf Salad. This is the restaurant's signature dish. The salad was a combination of fermented tea leaves, lettuce, tomatoes, a variety of nuts and seeds, fried yellow beans and a fish sauce dressing. Our server went through the ingredients in the salad and then artfully mixed everything together with a squeeze of lemon. The fermented tea leaves were pungent and smokey and perfectly contrasted with the crunchy nuts and the mild lettuce and tomatoes.

On Noh Kauswer (Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup)
This was a rich, thick stew of chicken, coconut, noodles and hard boiled eggs. The flavor was very deep and savory, but not at all spicy. It was great for warming you up on a frigid summer night in San Francisco.

Tofu Vegetable Kebat and Coconut Rice
You can see the Chinese influences in the Kebat. Don't be put off by the deep red oil slick, it was only moderately hot. We also had the coconut rice, which was jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk. The rice paired very well with the vegetables, tofu and blend of spices in the stir fry.

Burma Superstar
309 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Inn at Little Washington

My recent trip to the East Coast included an excursion out to the Virginia countryside. My friend took me out to the Inn at Little Washington for dinner. The Blue Ridge Mountains were off in the distance on the drive out to Washington, VA. The IaLW is one of the highest rated restaurants in the country. Daniel Bouloud called the IaLW one of the 5 meals worth flying for.

Unlike most restaurants I go to, there is a dress code for the IaLW. Unfortunately, I chose to wear a black dress during a 100-degree heat wave. It turned out that a power outage had hit the restaurant right before we arrived. As a result, many people had canceled their reservations and we were able to be seated early. The decor was pretty interesting. It rather looked like a cross between a Victorian era tea shop and a gay pride parade. My friend said that it was typical for a Virginia country inn. We were by far the youngest diners in the restaurant.

Amuse bouche

Dinner started with an amuse bouche presentation of tuna, prosciutto and melon, shrimp and guacamole and parmesan foam.

Cream of corn soup

Another amuse bouche was a demitasse of cream of corn soup. You could taste the fresh corn in the soup.

Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Tabouli and Rosemary Mustard

My first course was the lamb carpaccio. I had never seen lamb carpaccio before and I didn't think that lamb could be served raw. It was very good. The lamb was very rich and not too gamy. I should have followed the example of the diner at the next table and asked for some lemon. A bit of acidity would have been nice.

Seared Maine Diver's Scallop in a Garden Minestrone Perfumed with Pernod

The second course was a scallop (yep, just one) served with fava beans, carrots, tomatoes and Israeli couscous all on a very large plate. The dish was served with a side of pesto and parmesan cheese. The scallop was nicely cooked. The pesto really tied the whole dish together.

Pepper Crusted Tuna Pretending to be a Filet Mignon, Capped with Seared Duck Foie Gras on Charred Onions with a Burgundy Butter Sauce

I was very curious to try this dish because of the ambitious name. The tuna was served rare. It really did taste like filet when paired with the richness of the foie gras and the wine and demiglace based sauce.

Dessert Sampler

As much as I love cheese, I decided to pass one the cheese course because the cheese cart was in the shape of a cow, complete with a cowbell and electronic moos. Instead, I went with the dessert sampler that showcased miniature versions of seven different dessert. The meal ended with mignardise served in little wicker box that we took with us.

The entire meal took just over three hours. The service was very good, if a tad bit rehearsed. I did think that everything about IaLW was a bit fussy. However, I can see why this is one of the top rated restaurants in the country.

The Inn at Little Washington
309 Middle St.
Washington, VA 22747

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Short Ribs That Melt Like Butta

The second Memphis Farmers Market Dinner Tour was held at Circa with Chef John Braggs. The dinner series has caught on as there were 60 people at this dinner. Circle is a hip restaurant in downtown Memphis on the Main Street Trolley line. They have one of the most extensive wine lists in Memphis.

Our five courses consisted of:

Mesclun Greens Salad with Curry-Fried Oyster with an Herb Vinaigrette. The greens were from the farmers from Gracious Gardens. This was paired with a 2005 Kuentz-Bas Gewurztraminer from Alsace France. This was a very fresh and delightful salad to start our meal.

Roast Heirloom Tomatoes with Jumbo Lump Crab Salad paired with a 2005 Graville Lacoste from Bordeaux France. I have an allergy to crab and my husband doesn't eat raw tomatoes. That's why our marriage works so well. He said the crab salad was delicious and I loved the heirloom tomatoes. I'm so glad we have local farmers that grow our tomatoes. There's nothing better than a ripe tomato off the vine!

Beef Short Ribs "Chasseur" with Shiitake Mushrooms and French Radishes paired with a 2005 Raymond "R" Collection Merlot from St. Helena California. This was by far the best dish of the night. The short ribs are from Neola Farms, which are fantastic in their own right. Mike Lanigan is the rancher that owns Neola Farms. He grows his own corn and soybean to feed his Angus Steers, and then the beef is aged. Add that magical touch of Chef Braggs and this dish was like butta!

Grilled Cheese of Bonnie Blue Farm Aged Tomme and Arugula on Pumpernickel with local honey cream. This was paired with a 2003 Verget du Sud Rouge Vin De Pays from Southwest France. I could eat this grilled cheese everyday.

Peach and Blackberry Cobbler with Cinnamon Ice Cream. This was paired with a 2005 Banfi "Rosa Regale" Brachetto d'Acqui from Piedmont Italy. The fruit were from Jones Orchard, one of my favorite farmers at the Memphis Farmers Market. Fresh peaches and sweet blackberries are so delightful.

Circa By John Braggs
119 S. Main Street, Suite 100
Memphis, TN 38103

Memphis Farmers Market
Central Station Pavilion
Memphis, TN 38103