Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last Kayak of the Season

I took these pictures a while ago, and realized later that some of the people in the photos are from my program...can you recognize yourself?



Monday, December 20, 2010

Karma

SOOOOOOO, I was thrilled this morning because I knew that I would be finishing my final final, I would getting a new fridge and stove/oven, and I would get to just watch freaking tv while I clean the house. Yippppppeeee!

But Karma said, "Hey! No good stuff without something aggravating. Here you go, my gift."

So when the Sears people came today to replace the broken down oven and bring a new fridge (awesome holiday gifts from the landlady), they also managed to hit a pipe and cause a leak where our washer/dryer connects...ha. ha. ha.

Luckily I heard the dripping before they had gotten into their truck so they came back and temporarily fixed it. A repair person should come by in "48-72 hours" to fix it permanently so it's not actually that bad. Just aggravating. Danged Karma.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Singing Debut

I still have one more final. I procrastinated for a while and then decided, heck, if I'm going to procrastinate I might as well be productive about it. So I went to the gym.

At 8pm on Friday gyms are empty. *Apparently* people have better things to do on Fridays. So I'm on the elliptical for a little while when "Perfekte Welle" comes onto my iPod. I look around, there's still no one in the gym, so I start singing. Out loud. I LIKE THE SONG, OK?!?!

Anyway.

I'm belting out an awesome rendition of the chorus when I see movement out of the corner of my eye. What do I see but two guys walking through the gym on their way to their car.

I want to be clear here, I've ALWAYS wanted relatively attractive, close to my age men to walk into the gym so I can *finally* use the pick-up line: "Um, can you show me how to use that machine?" Instead it's always men who are at least 70. Thanks but no thanks.

So finally, FINALLY, two, relatively attractive, close to my age men walk through the gym on their way to go out somewhere and what do they find? Sweaty ole me, singing the chorus to a German song. Awesome.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finals Madness continues!

On my way back home from final #5, I saw a midget Elvis Presley. The Presley fro, the glasses, even the white suit. Only he was about 3.5 feet tall.

Explain this again, please

Did I mention I have 7 finals? For 4 classes. Yes, that's right. Seven.

And I'M paying THEM. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A little dated?

I was reading a book and I had noticed before that the cover was dated and the author looked out of our time, too, but I just wrote it off. Then there were some examples that were a little odd but I shrugged it off again. Then I got to the part that was talking about individuals.

"In understanding this, it is important to understand that everyone is egotistical. This is founded on a concept of individuality and the uniqueness of the individual. This must be accepted as a reality. This is why Communists are so bad with dealing with people. They ignore the concept of individuality and focus instead on the faceless mass of the "community.""

What?!?!

I finally gave in and took a look at the publishing date: 1956.

Figures.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Finals Hilarity Continues!

So, I wishing last week I could be in a flashmob.

Apparently God is the person granting wishes this week because I am currently in the middle of flashmob RIGHT NOW about "dancing in the light of God."

I literally was sitting nicely working on my account project in the library when a group of people come in, apparently from class. The sit around talking when suddenly a drum starts, and a guitar starts, and suddenly people start gathering and singing. Flashmob! In the library! By a religious singing group!

Santa and 16 year olds, following by relative relations, and now a Godly flashmob!

Two times is a coincidence. Three times is finals hilarity!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's a Small World...

So, I'm currently (midnight on a Sunday) in my school library working on a final paper for my security class. I've just reached the second to last article I'm planning on referencing in my paper and I notice a familiar name.

Working on a hunch, I go to Facebook and look it up. Sure enough, in a database filled with millions of articles, I unwittingly pulled out an article that was written by my cousin-in-law. Of all the possible outcomes I could have had from that academic search, I pulled up the article written by a close relative.

Amaaaaazing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It wouldn't have been trippier...

...if I'd really been stoned.

So, I spent six hours straight sitting in front of a computer and working on a paper at which point I had only gotten halfway through. So I thought, I'm going to get cupcakes, durned it! I get my cupcakes and walk out to the nearest bus stop. And I see Santa. And then another one. And another one. And then some elves. Wearing slutty elf outfits. And sharing cigarettes.

As I slowly and cautiously approach the crowd of smoking, slutty Santas and Santa helpers - I kid you not - a sweet sixteen party turns the corner. About twenty 16-year-olds wearing matching pink shirts turn the corner and start giggling about the Santas. They stop at the first attractive Santa and start asking silly questions and generally being teenagers.

By the time I get to my bus stop, I'm holding a dozen cupcakes, in a crowd of Santas talking to 16 year olds on one side, slutty elves flirting with an extremely attractive police officer on the other side, and just generally bewildered. As the bus pulls up to the curb for me, I turn around again, just in time to see one of the Three Kings show up and start arguing with the bouncer about his ID.

Perhaps he should have tried bribing the bouncer with some Myrrh. Or maybe that's what I'd been smoking.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Damn the questions

We were about to get out of class 25 minutes early when SOMEONE opened his darn mouth and asked a silly question that took up all the time. So yes. There are such things as stupid questions.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ah, stereotypes playing themselves out

In a move of hilarity, the Europeans in my course are acting according to the stereotypical behavior expected of them. The Brit is a Eurosceptic. The Germans and Spaniards are constantly fighting with her, and the Poles sit quietly putting in their two cents only when it is directly relevant to their personal interests. Love it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Restaurant Week!!! Cafe Atlantico

Pork Cheeks with black beans, white rice, farofa, oranges
That little orange drop on the bottom left? The sauce of doom.

I'd never been to Cafe Atlantico before, and frankly I'd never heard of it either. Turns out it's an Latin-inspired fusion place led by Chef Katsuya Fukushima right in Chinatown. We sat outside and even had live music from an outdoor concert that was playing a block away. Thus far it has been the best place I've been to for Summer RW 2010. One restaurant remains in the running, and we'll see if it beats Cafe Atlantico out on Sunday.
Dominican Conch Fritters with jicama-avocado raviolis, passion-fruit oil

The Food
First Course: Dominican Conch Fritters with jicama-avocado raviolis, passion-fruit oil
I inhaled these buggers. They were large enough that I had to take two bites to eat one, but it was delicious. The avocado raviolis tasted a little like deconstructed guacamole (they were cold). I loved the idea and the execution was great. When you ate a bite of that together with a bite of the fritters it was delish. The inside of the fritters were unexpectedly slimy, which could totally throw someone off...like me. Luckily I liked it, but the texture takes some getting used to. My one issue was that I couldn't taste the conch, just the fritter batter (which was like cornbread. No complaints on that).

Second Course: Pork Cheeks
These were delicious! The meat came apart nicely, like a well-cooked pot roast. The black beans they were served on top of were fantastic, but I got surprised by a taste of super-spicy sauce they had drizzled on the side. SUPER. SPICY. I nearly finished my whole glass of wine then and there, hah.

Third Course: Warm Chocolate Cake with lime ice cream and banana mousse
Cake was fine, mousse was banana-y (I hate bananas) and the lime ice cream was awesome and creamy. I have to say though, what's with every restaurant serving options of either a thick chocolate cake/tart or mango ice cream? It's overdone and boring.

“Beetsteak” Tomato Salad with seasonal beets, yogurt, fresh herbs, sherry vinaigrette

My friends' dishes
“Beetsteak” Tomato Salad with seasonal beets, yogurt, fresh herbs, sherry vinaigrette
 Nothing unexpected. The dressing was a little salty, but in a good way.

Salmon with peaches, lime, passion fruit, chicken jus
Nothing interesting. I have to say, salmon is probably the worst investment you can make at a restaurant. Unless you can't take a slab of salmon and fried it in a pan, or are health-conscious and there are no other options on the menu, it's not worth the purchase. It always tastes exactly the same and you could easily make the exact same quality fish at home.


Flat Iron Steak with summer corn, peach
Delicious, and it came with the absolutely most delicioso mashed potatoes.


Flat Iron Steak with summer corn, peach
The Service
Our Server checked in often, water was always refilled quickly, and management came by to to talk to every table. Excellent.

Overall
The food was all fantastic. I tried the conch fritters and the pork cheeks to try something new and unusual, and I was disappointed that the flavors weren't new or unusual. The conch may have been but I couldn't taste it. Regardless, it was still completely worth going and a place I highly recommend anytime of year.

Warm Chocolate Cake
Venezuelan chocolate flan, banana mousse
lime ice cream

Rating: 9/10
It lost a point because they served a totally unique protein (conch) and then covered up all the flavor and texture by coating it in batter and deep frying it. I could have eaten fried cornbread and it probably would have tasted the same. But like I said before, I highly recommend this over any other restaurant I've been to this week.

Cafe Atlantico
405 8th Street NW
Washington DC 20004
(202) 393-0812
info@cafeatlantico.com

Review: Restaurant Week!!! I Ricchi

I went to I Ricchi two and a half years ago during the January 2008 RW. It left a very favorable impression last time, particularly because they were willing to give me two vegetarian appetizers instead of requiring me to pick one appetizer and one entree (with no veggie entree options). On top of that, all the food was fantastic. I was pleased to see that this year the entree menu included a vegetarian option, so when a friend came from out of town, I decided to give the place a try again. Mistake.

The Food
Overall, the few dishes left over from RW two and a half years ago were still amazing. Everything else fell disappointingly flat. I checked to see if ownership had changed, or if a new chef was listed as creating the menu, but not a whisper. It's clearly the quality of the recipes rather than the quality of the food, because the originals still tasted amazing. Whoever created the new recipes just missed the essence of Italian food (and fine dining) completely.

My Meal
Panzanella salad
I ordered panzanella salad because I've made it at home but never had the opportunity to try it in a restaurant. Apparently it's about 50% boring croutons with virtually flavorless greens and a bland balsamic dressing. Not what I was expecting.
Pasta with mushrooms, peas and cream sauce
The pasta was passable.
Chocolate tart with pear
The chocolate tart was a relic from years past and as thick and delicious as I remembered it.

Friend's Meal
Risotto with summer vegetables
The risotto is also a relic from the past (and delicious) but in a twist of obvious laziness, the vegetables were not in fact summer vegetables. They were peas and carrots and all the same vegetables that they used in their winter risotto. I have to wonder if they have them frozen in the back...
Round Steak with mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce
The round steak came rare (see below for more on that debacle) and strangely unflavored. My friend is picky about her food, so when she initially complained I thought maybe she just didn't like it because she didn't like that particular cut of meat. But no, I tried it and there was definitely something wrong with it. The meat literally tasted like someone had cooked it, completely unseasoned, in a brand new pan/skillet/oven. There was also a strange after taste to it like maybe it had once been soaked in a sauce but all that was left was some unpleasant residual hint.
Chocolate tart with pear

The Service
There were several complaints about the service. The first was our server, who was extremely awkward. She'd start to talk and then stop suddenly, like she was planning on adding something. We'd look at her, waiting for her to say more and instead she'd walk abruptly away. Looking at the other servers, this was clearly only one person who was inexperienced. I would have been fine with that but the head chef and the restaurant manager decided to implement other policies that contributed to an overall negative experience.

Substitutions. Now most restaurants do not allow substitutions during RW, and that's understandable. With the high volume of customers, you just don't have the time. However, my friend does not like mushrooms and mushrooms were on nearly every single entree. So we asked if they could just skip the mushroom sauce on the steak - we didn't ask them to substitute it for anything. When you get to that step on the plate, you just don't put it on. The answer was no. So we thought, alright, she can push it aside. Then my friend asked for the meat to be cooked medium instead of medium rare. Apparently, that was not an option either. Now I'll put up with sauces (you just put them aside), but if you're going to serve red meat (or seared fish, or anything else that could be raw for that matter), you let people choose. If you think you're going to be so stressed you can't deal with it, don't put it on the menu. Not only that, but the meat actually came out extremely rare. My friend was forced to eat around the edges where it was cooked and probably left a good 60% of the steak on her plate.

Then they charged for soda refills. $2.95 for a tiny glass of soda. In Europe that's ok and expected - in America it's not. If you're going to do that, then you let people know. Even fancy restaurants warn their customers before doing it.

My favorite strangeness of the evening though, happened befor the meal. They bring bread to the table at the beginning of the night and pour the olive oil and vinegar for you - only to leave and take the bottle of oil and vinegar with them! So we got a whole basket of bread and two tiny spots of olive oil and vinegar. Total waste of bread.

Overall
Overall, this was a huge disappointment compated to my last visit here. Either a new chef is creating some recipes that are sub-par, or the owner/chef Christianne Ricci has lost her touch. The originals were still delicious but the new stuff fell flat. The strange service and unwillingness to be flexible, even when the restaurant was only 1/3 full, completely destroyed any chance of me going back. I do not recommend I Ricchi.

Rating: 3/10
One point for the tart, one point for the risotto, and one point for nostalgia of times past.

I Ricchi
1220 19th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
P: (202) 835-0459
F: (202) 872-1220
iricchi@aol.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Restaurant Week!!! Sushi Taro

UPDATE:
DCist.com wrote a review on Sushi Taro as well, and they get more gourmand-y in their descriptions than I do. If you want some pictures and a description of dinner, here's the link: http://dcist.com/2010/08/rw_madness_sushi_taro.php


It is that bi-annual time of year again: Restaurant Week! For one whole week participating restaurants in DC offer three-course prix fixe menus for $20 at lunch and $35 at dinner. My favorite event in DC. EVER.

This is my third year so there's the "tried and true" restaurants I've added into the mix of new places I'm trying out. Sushi Taro is one I haven't been before, and that's because they're always booked. Sushi Taro has a reputation for being a high-quality, highly-traditional sushi place. If you want to do a tasting at the bar, it's a $120.00 minimum order with reservations required. So you can imagine how people jump at the chance to try the basics for only $20 or $35. Luckily the horrific hot weather actually worked in my benefit this time, cutting down the number of diners willing to go outside in the middle of the day. I snagged a spot for lunch yesterday for myself and two of my girlfriends.

The food
Two of us ordered the restaurant week menu and the other ordered a fried chicken bento box.

The bento box: sashimi, tempura, and fried chicken; side of rice and miso soup. The sashimi was high quality, and the rice, soup, and tempura were normal. I loved the chicken. I loved it. If I wasn't stuffed, I would have eaten the whole thing. There's a caveat - it's dark meat. A lot of Americans hate the dark meat on the chicken and my friend is one such American (which means I got to try a piece she didn't want). However, if you like dark meat, that is one quality piece of chicken. Yum yum.

The restaurant week menu
First course: Three Box Tasting
1st Box: Sashimi
High quality fish but it didn't come with rice, which is highly unusual. I wasn't willing to pay extra for a bowl of rice so I eventually got overwhelmed by fishiness...

2nd box: Chikuzen-ni, grilled salmon, omelette
The grilled salmon and omelette (Tomago) were normal. The Chikuzen-ni was really good (but again, dark meat so not everyone is a fan). Chikuzen-ni is traditionally made with different vegetables and roots, and some of those were included in the box. I took an adventurous taste of Konjac gel, a thick gelatin made from Konjac (look it up on Wikipedia, the first picture of a gray slab with black dots on the left is what I ate). It is not to my liking.

3rd box: Shrimp and veggie tempura
Average.

Second Course: Sushi
Tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, yellowtail, flounder
Salmon & avocado roll
I had never had flounder before and I've decided I'm not a fan. Not really a reflection on the quality of the fish. I liked the eel, shrimp, and salmon and avocado roll. The sushi was all very good and high quality but I was way too stuffed to finish it. I ended up sending most of it to my friend's office to share with her co-workers.

Third Course: Ice Cream
You could choose green tea or mango ice cream. We ended up with one of each. The green tea tasted exactly like the unsweetened powdered green tea you buy in Asian speciality stores and was practically rock hard. If you like the green tea or don't have a big sweet tooth, you'd probably like it. The mango was fantastic.

The Service
The service was ok. The server seemed like she was irritated by something else (not us) but was trying not to let us know that, but then it came across anyway, which made it extremely awkward. I also ordered green tea ice cream and got mango, but I'm not complaining after seeing the green tea.

Overall
If you want really high-quality sushi, this is the place to go. It's more expensive than your average sushi place, but afterall, you pay more for the good stuff. Their other dishes are all traditional, which I greatly appreciate. I'm tired of "Japanese" restaurants serving "Philly rolls," sickly sweet teriyaki chicken and other Americanized dishes. If I wanted that, I'd go to a fusion restaurant. However, some of their dishes were totally average, like the edamame and tempura. Do you really want to pay $6 for an average plate of edamame?

The service was strange but I want to say it was probably just an off-day for that particular server. I'm not holding that against them.

Rating: 7/10

Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
TEL : 202-462-8999

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Moving

I have a common name in Turkey, but I never knew anyone with it growing up in the States. So whenever I hear my name, I know without a doubt that I'm the person being paged. Well, I just moved into a new apartment in a condo complex, and it turns out that there's a nice little Turkish community here. I was at the pool yesterday and a toddler came in with her mother and grandmother. As it turns out, they're Turkish and the toddler has my name.

I'm lying out by the pool, reading some book for work, when suddenly I hear "Name! Don't go in the deep end!!" all in Turkish. I sit up suddenly, thinking, What? I'm not! I'm just reading! Then I realize these people only sound like my relatives. They are actually yelling at the toddler and not at me. Over the next 20-30 minutes, every time they called out her name I would start up suddenly. I just hope they're not at the pool every time I'm there...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Review: Hook DC

Hook is a restaurant in Georgetown that specializes in seafood that is eco-friendly and sustainable. So naturally, I'm a huge fan.

The Service
Strange. The waitstaff is always very friendly, but extremely slow. I went once in January with my mom for dinner when the restaurant was packed, and then recently with my roommate for lunch when the restaurant was relatively empty. It's almost as if the service is intentionally slow, which in this case is not a good business decision. Additionally, the second time around the server never asked us how the food was and got easily distracted by happenings outside our window.

The Food
When I went in January with my mom, absolutely all the seafood we had was magnificent. The dessert was nothing special, but it still tasted good. Everything was phenomenal. When I went this last time, both the hamburger and the calamari were burned - and not in the tasty, smoky way. It was unpleasant. The mushroom cream sauce that came with the calamari was delicious and perfectly complemented the fried poached egg. The french fries that came with the burger were better than I expected from shoestring fries, with a soft texture on the inside and tasty seasoning on the outside. The tuna tartar was also good, although they could have served it with more sauce (wasabi and chili sauces were drizzled on the plate). Dessert was a raspberry tart with vanilla ice cream and peanut brittle. The tart tasted store-bought but the ice cream and brittle were fantastic. One major thing I appreciated was the fact that they carry authentic German white beers - it was the first time I've had the real stuff since leaving Germany.

Rating: 7/10
If I had rated the restaurant after my first visit, they would have a 10/10. But lunch was continually disappointing and the server never once asked us how the food was. I don't typically send food back because I don't want to waste it. In retrospect I should have been more aggressive this time. We might have had a better experience if they had re-made both the burger and the calamari. I will definitely give them the benefit of the doubt and go back again, because sometimes restaurants just have a bad day.

Hook
http://www.hookdc.com/
202.625.4488
3241 M St. NW
Washington, DC 20007

Review: Georgetown Cupcake

Georgetown Cupcake is known throughout DC for its scrumptious...well, cupcakes. Their new show on TLC has no doubt boosted their name recognition, although the show itself is a total disaster.


The Service
Everyone who works in the front look like local college students and they're all very friendly. The one complaint I've heard (it's my friend's absolute pet peeve) is that they wear gloves in order to avoid contaminating the food, and then touch their hair with the gloves on their hands - completely defeating the purpose. I've never seen it and even if I did, it absolutely doesn't bother me. The line is also a total pain but avoidable. If you can, go before 11:45am.


The Food
The cupcakes that I like, I LOVE, with coconut, salted caramel, and toffee topping the list. However, they also have a lot of cupcakes that are boring at best, including cookies n' creme, chocolate coconut, and white chocolate raspberry (The last one is a total disaster. I shared it with four people and no one liked it). People who have told me they don't like Georgetown cupcake are those who do not like excessively sweet things or do not like frosting (or the first cupcake they tried was the white chocolate raspberry).
Front: Red Velvet and Cherry Blossom. Back: Coconut

Rating: 9/10
They lose the one point for those $2.75 cupcakes I bought and absolutely couldn't stand.


Georgetown Cupcake - Georgetown
www.georgetowncupcake.com
3301 M Street NW (corner of 33rd & M)
Washington, DC 2000

Review: Matchbox (Brunch)

So, this is a little late in coming (say, eight months?) so I don't remember all the details.

The Service
Don't remember the service, which means it was not horrible. What was awesome, however, is that if they know you're in a group, they'll automatically divide up the food on the receipt by seats. So you get one receipt, but there is a different section for every person. This made life ridiculously easy.

The Food
I got the waffles with strawberries and a raspberry-lime whipped cream. The food was really tasty, but frankly the raspberry-lime flavor didn't come across at all. The whip cream was pink, and that was about it.  My neighbor got "stuffed french toast." It was two slices of "french toast" made with french baguette with cream placed between the two pieces, so it's totally different than the french toast you'd expect. I could see that disappointing some people, but according to my friend it still tasted great. Rant for all restaurants: You charge us $2 - 3 extra to get fruit and then there is maybe 1 sliced strawberry or 4 blueberries on the plate. WHAT IS THAT?




Rating: 9/10
It's an easy, affordable place to go with friends and you'll get delicious food - even if it's not exactly what was described on the menu. There is a lot to be said about places that afford convenience when you go with more than 6 people.

Matchbox Chinatown
713 H St NW,
Washington, D.C. 20001
202.289.4441
http://www.matchboxdc.com/

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Potato Salad

This is being posted by special request. As a result, I don't have any pictures, sorry!

2 lbs red potatoes
1 cup mayo
1/4 cup Dijon
1/2-3/4 cup chopped red onion
2 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
lime juice

1. Boil potatoes until cooked (time depends on size of potatoes, 15-25 minutes). Be careful not to overcook!! Chop cooked potatoes
2. Mix dijon and mayo together - I do this to taste. I actually use less mustard than they require
3. Mix all the other ingredients except lime juice together.
4. Add mayo/mustard combination a little bit at a time and mix. Taste after mixing. I never use the whole amount of the sauce that i made
5. Add lime juice to taste
6. Optional: Add small chopped pieces of apple or pickles (or both).

TASTE TASTE TASTE. This is one of the most imprecise recipes I have and it's always a little different. Sometimes I add piles of extra dill, other times I add extra salt and the juice from the pickle jar or vinegar. It's all about what you feel like at the time.

Enjoy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Strawberry Muffins




Ingredients
1 2/3 cups fresh strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
1. Heat oven to 425F
2. Set up muffin pans with paper baking cups or grease just the bottoms of the muffin cups
3. Lightly mash strawberries in a large bowl
4. Stir in sugar, oil, and eggs until mixed
5. Stir in rest of ingredients
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups
7. Bake 15-18 minutes until light golden brown or toothpick poked in center comes out clean


These muffins are awesome!! However, they do NOT reheat well and taste best within the first couples of hours (4-5 hours).

I tend to put in more strawberries, but be careful because too many will make it too squishy.

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables


Ingredients
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt (I love sea salt, adds extra flavor)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Use the tasty olive oil and vinegar, don't go cheap! I used cheap stuff one time and it just does not work. Same with pepper - freshly ground just has a flavor you lose when you buy the pre-made stuff.

Directions
1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well
2. Marinade vegetables for 3-4 hours
3. Grill vegetables. Continue basting vegetables while grilling

I make this inside the house with my cast iron grill skillet and it's one of my favorite winter things because it has a lovely toasty taste. I chop them up (while warm) and put them on top of a salad with lemon dressing. I recommend Annie's Naturals Lemon & Chive dressing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh Life

So remember how I got a concussion? Maybe I didn't write about it, I don't remember. As a result of the three blizzards we had, snow had piled up, melted, and then re-froze on the rooftops of DC. Then in February as I was walking home and minding my own business, ice fell off a roof and hit me - resulting in a concussion and a week of delirium.

Well, since then I've been wary of summer. When I heard that record-breaking highs were coming our way, I had to brace myself. Well, I'm happy to report that thus far no extreme weather has caused havoc in my life. No, no. Instead, the AC broke. During the middle of the hottest week ever.

The AC repair people came on Sat (broke on Wed night), but had to come back again today. Finally all was fixed. I am proud to announce that the apartment temperature has dropped to a cool 78 degree F in the last 20 minutes, the lowest its been in a week. YEAH. 78 degrees is the lowest its been inside.

Of course, I had the benefit of being out of town for four days, but my poor roommate and her dog were stuck here the whole time. Ew. I'm a little cautious right now, because the repairman left our landlady with an enormously large bill, but the temperature has still not dropped below 78F. We'll see if things improve over the next few hours...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

There's a Bat in the Bathroom II

So, animal control came and took the creature away. Turns out there's this little crack in between the wall and the sink. It's likely that the bat flew into the building from the top floor and made its way down through the wall and into our bathroom.

The lady said we were fine to keep using all the stuff in the bathroom since we hadn't touched the bat, and they called two days later to say the animal didn't have rabies. Really?! You waited two days to tell us that while we were using stuff touched by the bat?! (Actually, I didn't have anything it that cabinet...so really it was only my roommate who might have gotten some disease...)

We boarded the hole up with cardboard.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

There's a Bat in the Bathroom

No, I'm not writing a new childrens' book. There IS an actual BAT in our BATHROOM. It had to have crawled through the wall space because our windows and doors are always closed - plus I think we would have noticed a bat flapping its way in with us.

I've stayed in semi-rural and rural areas, I've gone camping, I've done all sorts of things, but of course you never get that awesome connection with wildlife anywhere else like you do you in Virginia.

We called animal control and they're on their way, so I'll update when we know more.

Well. This is awkward.

I went to a baseball game a few weeks ago to mark the end of the year with my program. The second years had just graduated with their Master's, so the program paid for us all to celebrate at the game. It was really nice! We even got a "Congratulations on graduation!" announcement on the big screen.

At the end of the game, I ran to the bathroom before we started the trek back home. When I walked in, I saw a stall ahead of me that had feet in it, but they were extraordinarily large and facing the toilet seat. Just in case it really was a man, I went in a stall on the other side of the room. While I was relieving myself, this is what I hear,

high-pitched, girly: "Hahaha, oh my God, Becky. That's so funny."
Deep, tonal: "Um, you're in the wrong bathroom."
*pause*
other high-pitched voice: "No, YOU ARE."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Appethaizing. Or, it's a Thai!

I went to two Thai places in Georgetown fairly recently, Bangkok Joe's and Bangkok Bistro. Bangkok Bistro is the hip and happening place that recently had Gabourey Sidibe as a guest. Bangkok Joe's calls itself a "dumpling house" and is situated on the lovely Georgetown waterfront.

Bangkok Bistro
Service: 
Friendly and efficient

Food:
Overall excellent quality. I appreciate their menu because they added vegetarian versions of traditionally meat-filled foods, such as "snow white soup" to replace the chicken or shrimp in the Tom kha soup, or tofu pad thai with the vegan or vegetarian option. I ordered snow white soup, tofu panang and tofu pad thai.  The soup was absolutely delicious, probably one of the best I've had. However, the tofu in the tofu panang was distractingly salty, which I just couldn't get over. The sauce was excellent, though. The pad thai was pad thai, nothing to write home about but not awful either.

Overall: 9/10
With the strange exception of the salty tofu, the food was excellent and worth what was paid for it, the service was attentive and the restaurant has a great vibe with huge walls that open so that the entire front of the restaurant is open to the street.

Bangkok Joe's
Service: 
Efficient but not that friendly. They service tends to hang out in the back of the restaurant talking to each other and standing around. They're never smiling or friendly, either, even though they always get your food quickly. It's very strange. They've also brought out the wrong food before, and overcharged for what I've ordered.

Food: 
The food is great! I got lemon grass soup, tofu panang and a "tomkhatini," which is a martini based on the coconut tom kha soup. The lemon grass soup was great, and the tomkhatini is a revelation. It's really the panang that I keep going back for, though. The curry sauce is thicker than those served in other restaurants, which gives it a truly creamy texture, and the flavor of the kaffir lime really comes through. My one complaint is that the dish typically comes with noodles, so you have to remember to request rice instead. The noodles have an unpleasant texture, almost like solid pudding or something. I really dislike that.

Overall: 9/10
The service has always been strange here, but the food has always been absolutely the best I've had in DC. I have dreams about their panang sometimes...

In the end, if I have a choice I'll go to Bangkok Joe's because I love their food so much, but both are really, really good. You can't really go wrong at either one. Only note is, I'm not sure the price is worth it at dinnertime, when a basic entree can start at $15 - they're typically around $10 at other Thai places.

Bangkok Bistro
3251 Prospect Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20007-3243
(202) 337-2424
www.bangkokbistrodc.com


Bangkok Joe's
3000 K Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20007-5109
(202) 333-4422
http://www.bangkokjoes.com/

Thursday, May 13, 2010

24 hours

'Twas the day before finals
And all through the college
Computers were clicking with students
Trying to prove their knowledge.

The library is nearly full
For the first time all year
And the caffeine is flowing
As the end is drawing near.

I sit staring at my screen
Thinking how I should spend my time.
Instead of writing my essay
I'm making up poems that rhyme.

Awake! I must work now
Or risk my degree.
I'll buckle down and write all day
Until I'm finally free.

In the meantime,
Stock the fridge with beer
And get out the tequila
Because the summer is nearly here!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: Ragtime

We went to Ragtime for a quick dinner, and it has an atmosphere like TGI Fridays or Applebees.

The Service
Fast, friendly and efficient. Don't really know what else to say to that.

The Food
We ordered Spaghetti with Meatballs, Caesar Salad and Macaroni and Cheese. The Caesar Salad had wilted and black leaves mixed in, and the Macaroni and Cheese was mediocre. It came at room temperature, as if it had been sitting out for a while before they brought it. It's amazing what a difference something that simple can make. I think I would have enjoyed a lot more if it had been fresh out of the oven, or at least appeared as if it was. I tried some of the spaghetti sauce, and that was actually relatively good.

Rating: 6/10
It's a fun, affordable place to go with friends and order a ton of food and beer - my "small" salad filled a regular-sized dinner plate and the $6 mac and cheese filled a huge bowl. However, the food is what you'd expect as "bar food" not what they should be serving at a sit-down restaurant. It's not somewhere I'd go for culinary delights, but everyone inside was with friends and laughing their heads off.

Ragtime
http://ragtimerestaurant.com/
1345 North Courthouse Road
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 243-4003

Review: Sushi Rock

I ate at Sushi Rock and I have to say I was disappointed. They had been constructing the restaurant for the past few months so I was looking forward to trying it out once they opened. Since their theme is "Rock" they have a cool red/black interior design with rock music blaring and rock-themed sushi rolls.

The Service
The Service was interesting...I thought our waitress was hilarious, but my eating-mate found her off-putting. She was Japanese, so it was a little difficult to understand her accent, but she also made a lot of jokes about us drinking more during happy hour to bolster the tab and carding us for water. I literally laughed every time we interacted with her. At one point though, our water was late and she sort of rolled her eyes and whispered that the busboy tended to be slow about these things. It's my pet peeve when employees at restaurants blame each other, since it is the overall experience that matters, but she said it conspiratorially and laughing, so I didn't really feel like it was that malicious. Nonetheless, it was a little strange. And when I asked to get all the food at the same time, they still ended up bringing the appetizer first.

The Food
The food was overpriced without a similar increase in quality. The speciality rock 'n rolls (hardy har har) were minimally $12 each, so we both opted for the cheaper classics, ordering a cucumber roll ($6!!!), spicy tuna roll and salmon roll. I also got the agedashi tofu appetizer.

The tofu was fine but the sauce was rather flavorless. The cucumber roll was dry and uninteresting and apparently the other rolls were "fine". I'm more than happy to pay extra for sushi, but if I'm paying above the market price, I expect above-average quality, which we definitely didn't get.

Rating: 4/10
They got the 4 points for being fast and because I personally found the waitress hilarious. Not worth the investment.

Sushi Rock
http://www.sushirockdc.com/
1900 Clarendon Blvd
Arlington, VA
571.312.8027

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Eventide

I went out to Eventide last night, and they are fantastic! The menu is pricier ($25-30 average for entrees) but of course you pay for quality and the atmosphere is great for an intimate dinner (romantic or with friends). Not as great for groups just because it's darkly lit and more personal, although they do cater to larger crowds.

The Service
The service was excellent, and they have a separate wine manager, which is always a plus. We arrived 15 minutes early, but they already had our table ready so we were seated right away in the upstairs dining room. With the exception of the entrees, which were delayed by 10 minutes, the food came quickly and the wait staff passed by often, unobtrusively refilling our wine and water glasses.

The Food
The chef was sending around a pre-appetizer concoction, which was a fried quinoa ball on some sort of cream, served individually on Japanese soup spoons. Then we got seared diver scallops for appetizer, beef tenderloin and risotto-style Farrotto (a hearty brown grain) for entree and a Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma. Everything was fantastic! Despite not being a fan of risotto, I ordered the vegetarian Farrotto dish because I wasn't sure if any of the meats were environmentally-sustainable and it was unbelievably delicious.

I emailed the manager later, to ask about the meats on the menu and he answered immediately with this:

We pride ourselves in using the highest quality proteins and we make every effort to ensure that every animal we serve is sutainably raised, all natural, free range and local (whenever possible--there are just some animals that are local but don't meet our standards for quality.)


The goat, chicken and bison are the proteins that are assuredly local.

I thought that was an acceptable response, and I look forward to trying one of those dishes next time I go.

Rating: 10/10
Overall, an excellent experience and definitely a great location for a special occasion. I highly recommend them.

Contact Information
Eventide Restaurant
Eventiderestaurant.com
3165 North Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-4420
(703) 276-3165

Notes:
Their website says "smart casual, jeans are ok" but if you dine in the dining room and wear jeans, you will assuredly be the only one. Like me.

The roof is currently only open for drinks, but I've heard from others that you should not eat dinner up there once it opens for the summer because the roof menu is all small hor d'ouevres and not very filling.

A couple who had arrived earlier was apparently having difficulties with their reservation, which the woman was saying she had made online and received a confirmation for. So be sure to call ahead and confirm that they have your reservation

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review: Miss Saigon

This is a Vietnamese restaurant in Georgetown and I was sorely disappointed.

The Food
I ordered the lunch special with fried rice, crispy spring roll and salad. When I went to choose the entree, I asked about the best option and he recommended the caramel ginger sauce, so I got that with tofu. The fried rice was bland, bland, bland! The rice was brown so there should have been some sort of sauce, but it tasted like nothing. The spring roll and salad were good but nothing outstanding. The entree was sorely disappointing. It was excessively sweet and the sweetness did not go with the sharpness of the ginger, which was just grated on top of the dish. To top it off, my $2.75 coke was mostly ice and they charged extra to substitute tofu for the chicken.

The Service
The service was great. The waiter was very attentive, and felt horrible about me not liking the ginger caramel sauce he recommended, so he actually comped my coke, which was very nice.

Overall: 3/10
The food was simply mediocre, and the 3 points are only for the waiter. There were a few other groups in there and their food looked like it might be better, but frankly, if you can't make a fried rice that tastes like something, I'm not really willing to try anything else.

Miss Saigon
3057 M Street, DC 20007
http://www.ms-saigonus.com/

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Birthday Cake - Vanilla with Strawberries and Buttercream



The cake is really good!

 I am myself not a fan of buttercream, I find it too sweet, but this is really perfect if you want a no-fail recipe. That's why I made that second cake without the frosting, the cake is really great with any berries.

Ingredients
Cake Batter
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 3  cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Directions
Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2.Grease and flour two 9-inch rounds. (the recipe calls for three, but then the layers would be very thin)
3. In a large bowl cream the butter until smooth
4. Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy
5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg
6. Combine the flours together
7. This is the most confusing direction: Beat in the flour and the milk/vanilla in an alternating fashion, in four sections. What this means is that you put in 1/4 of the flour, beat, then 1/4 of the milk/vanilla mixture, beat, then 1/4 flour, etc.
8. Divide batter among the pans and put them in the oven
9. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
10. Let them cool completely before frosting
Frosting
1. Beat everything together.
2. You can add more sugar if you want a thicker consistency, but keep in mind that it is already really sweet.

Variations:
So, the birthday cake has cocoa butter cream frosting per request of the birthday boy, but the original recipe is actually for vanilla. If you want cocoa, mix in 1/4 cup cocoa, taste it, and then add more if you want a stronger flavor.

I also mixed in chopped strawberries with the frosting I used to fill the birthday cake, because who doesn't love strawberries with vanilla and cream??

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: Faccia Luna, Arlington

The Service
The place was a disaster. Yesterday was my friend's birthday and he decided he wanted Italian. Since we had a group of 7 people, we called ahead of time to let them know we were planning on coming in around 7pm. They do not take reservations, but the guy on the phone told us to come at 6:45 to put our names on the list so we can get a table by 7pm. Fine.

So my roommate and I head over there to put our names on the list, and the place is completely crowded and it's a 45 minute wait! When I say, "why were we told it wouldn't fill up until 7:30?" I'm told "whoever answered the phone doesn't know what he's talking about".

Then we wait for not 45 minutes, but for well over an hour. In the meantime, there are other customers getting angry, too. At one point when I went to ask what was up, I heard the following conversation:
"How much longer?"
"Fifteen minutes"
"Did you just make that number up? You said 20 minutes half an hour ago"
"I didn't tell you that. Someone else did."
Excuse me? Blame games do not work when you represent the entire restaurant. You apologize and thank them for their patience.

Service continued to be ridiculous, and at one point I was told that a beer was a "white beer" ("like blue moon" - a wheat beer) and then they brought me an IPA instead. We also ordered a lemon drop martini, and got vodka with lemon in a martini glass. NOT the same thing.

The table was short a service, the waiter was slow and we were seated by the register and silverware/napkin area, so the restaurant employees were constantly pushing past our chairs. All in all, very disappointing.

The Food
 The quality of the food was good. We ordered a pizza with goat cheese, spinach and chicken, and a pizza with goat cheese, mushrooms, eggplant and pine nuts. The quality of all the ingredients was good, and the toppings and cheese were delicious. Some of the crust was burned on the side, but not too badly to ruin the whole dish.

The pizza dough, however, tasted like Domino's. It was not special in anyway, and really detracted from the quality of the toppings.

I ended up having to leave early (because it took so long to get seated!!) but from what I heard the Tiramisu was acceptable but not phenomenal.


Score: 4/10
The continued horrible service, combined with acceptable rather than amazing food, resulted in their low score. I've always complained about service in DC, but it has NEVER been this bad. I was very disappointed, particularly considering that this is Arlington, VA, where people in the service industry generally tend to be better than those within DC proper. I would NOT recommend anyone going there, ever.

http://www.faccialuna.com/
2909 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA
(703) 276-3099

Friday, April 2, 2010

Review: La Tomate

This is an Italian Restaurant in Dupont Circle in Washington DC that I've always walked by and wanted to go in, and I finally did yesterday. They have a limited menu, so I actually had a hard time choosing what I wanted since nothing popped out at me. I finally settled on clams and linguini.

The Service
The service was haphazard. Someone brought out my silverware and napkin, another person my water, and a third person my bread and butter. It was strange, and I saw the same thing happening across the patio (I was outside). The outside area is nice, but not a single table is stable. Maybe they want it to be more authentically Italian.

The Food
My food came relatively quickly and the pasta and clams were high quality. However, and I know this is going to sound strange because it's seafood, but it was too salty. I know seafood is salty anyway, but this had too much. Like they made the sauce with the clam juice, steamed the clams with clam juice and then just for good measure, cooked the pasta in seawater. That being said, the other seasonings were quite good and the plate as a whole was flavorful. Just need to cut down on the salt.

The bread is really good, but the butter was hard and tasted like cream. Not normally bad, but it didn't go with the plain bread. It needed salt, and I actually would have preferred having the option of olive oil.


The Score: 6/10
I can't say I DO or DON'T recommend the place, I'd need to try some more of their dishes. And I'm actually willing to, because I am able to overlook inconsistent service if the food is good. Since the food was high quality and just a little too salty, I'm willing to go again and try a few other dishes.

http://www.latomatebistro.com/
1701 Connecticut Ave NW – Washington, DC 20009
202.667.5505 – telephone

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bean Soup

This is excellently easy and delicious, which makes it perfect for people with concussions and homework! It also has a thick chili consistency, so it's great for eating with a thick hunk of bread or shredded cheese and sour cream.



Ingredients
1 lb. bag mixed beans (your choice, I got a 15-bean mix from Harris Teeter's)
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons homemade cajun seasoning (see below for recipe)
1/2 onion, chopped
5 + 3 garlic cloves

Directions
1. Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse
2. Put beans in a pot with water, there should be 1-2 inches of water above the beans. Add 5 whole garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2.5 hours.
3. Saute onion and 3 garlic cloves (minced) in olive or vegetable oil. Drain excess oil.
4. After 2.5 hours add cooked onions and garlic, canned tomatoes, salt and cajun seasoning. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serve!

Notes:
-Do not add salt at the beginning because it will prevent the beans from getting soft.
-Do not soak beans for more than 8 hours, it affects their quality and consistency.
-Do not be deceived when you try the soup and it does not seem spicy! Cayenne pepper builds on spice as you eat, so you won't feel the spice until you're halfway through a bowl of soup.

Cajun Seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp white pepper (or substitute another tsp black pepper)
2-3 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika

Notes:
-If you use onion salt or garlic salt (I do not recommend using both) then do not put salt in the soup later. The mix itself will be very salty

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Signs

That one bad day

I seem to experience one really awful day near the beginning of every year. When I was eighteen, my car got totaled and I was on a train that hit a person. When I was twenty, I had a day of total insanity in the building where I was a resident assistant with people breaking into the womens bathroom and students throwing plants out windows. There are many more that will not be shared, but they happen nearly every year and they have always happened in January or February.

This year I believe it may have been today.

I should have known the day was off to a bad start when Georgetown announced that we would be having class on a national holiday to make up for the snow days. After not being productive until 1pm, I decided to head to school and work there. I got to the bus stop at 1:30, having dragged a bag of clothes I was going to drop off at the donation center at Georgetown. After 45 minutes, the bus still had not come. Suddenly a student walked up and announced that the Key Bridge was closed because they were bull-dozing snow off and therefore the bus was unable to get to us from Georgetown. Deciding against paying the cab fare, I start to walk, trudging through layers of slushy and icy snow to get campus. To add insult to injury, halfway through my 30 minute trek, it starts snowing. AGAIN.

When I finally get to campus, the donation bin is snowed out, so I dragged a bag full of clothes over for no reason and I have no where to put it. Then on my way to class I slam my hand against a door and burn my throat with coffee.

Exhausted after class, I decide that I am going to a Mexican restaurant to have a burrito and study. HOWEVER, on the walk over there, a chunk of ice falls off a building and onto my head. That's right. I experience an aerial ice attack. I was along a flat building with no eaves, but apparently some of the snow-turned-ice on the roof decided to fall down and land on my head. After an hour at home deliberating as to whether I should go to the ER or not, we finally decide to go.

At the ER, I wait nearly 30 minutes to get my room, and another 15 or so until the doctor comes. He is tall, thin, with long, black, curly, floppy hair. Total stoner-skater vibe. He starts talking to me about what happened and then asks me if I feel tired or have trouble seeing.

"Well, I haven't been sleeping a lot these past few days because I'm catching up on a lot of work so I don't know if that's a result of sleeplessness or getting hit on the head." He gets really concerned all of a sudden and says, "Well, you really need to get more sleep. That's a huge problem." Excuse me? I know it's a problem! I want to sleep, too! But I just had a chunk of ice fall on my head!!!!

Well, it all checks out and then he goes, "I need to get the supervising doctor to sign off on this and then you can go." This is usual in a teaching hospital, they do it at UCLA as well. The resident/student will check you out, and then a supervising doctor will come and check on you and compare their diagnosis with that of the student's. Well, when my supervisor comes in (40 minutes later), she says "Sorry you had to wait so long. My intern only recently told me you were in here."

I'm sorry, what?! He's an intern AND he forgot me? WTF mate. And then she looks me over again and says, "Well, you have a concussion (which was not mentioned by the intern), but it's not serious (which was noted by the intern). You can go home, just make sure your roommate checks in on you every six hours (not mentioned by the intern)."

All this is just lovely, and then the hospital that took three hours to give me two 10 minutes exams charged us $6 for parking! On top of which, we ended up driving around for 20 minutes when we got home because all the spots were taken or blocked by mounds of snow.

So all in all, I got today:
1. School on a holiday
2. A long walk with heavy bags and snowfall
3. A bag of clothing with nowhere to go
4. A hurt hand
5. A burned throat

AND

6. A concussion

This day has all the signs of "The Worst Day of 2010" but I can't officially name it that until January 1, 2011. Until then Karma, please, gimme a break!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blizzard-y Season!

Post February Storm #1


Middle of February Storm #2

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Moving

I have helped two friends move into the city, and it NEVER goes as planned. Last time we thought it was going to take 5-6 hours and it took 13!! One of hour of that was spent in the same area around K street driving in circles while we tried to navigate round-a-bouts and one-way streets.

Well, yesterday we were just trying to pick up one bed from one location but it somehow ended up lasting four hours. First we had to get to UHaul, where apparently they PRETEND it's only $30 and then tack on enough extras to make it $70. Granted, we didn't travel 50 miles so it ended up costing closer to $40, BUT STILL. On top of that, they wanted a local number in case we got lost (??). We thought ok, and gave them a number, which she then proceeded to call without warning us ahead of time!! So the person we listed got a lovely call from UHaul at 9am on a Saturday. Then at one point, the woman said, "And sign here for the contract please." My friend said, "I don't know what the contract says yet" (she hadn't had time to read it), and the woman looked at us like, why would you read the contract? and then said "sign here on the dotted line", as if we were causing trouble. Last time I checked, making sure your legal rights are protected was a good idea.

We finally get into the van and realize that we have an address but no directions and no map! So we end up navigating ourselves in a massive van through Washington DC based solely on where we think streets are laid out. Miraculously making it to our location, we then had to navigate a bed from one end of a long housing structure to the other end and down six floors and into our slightly-illegally-parked van. Then we have to again navigate ourselves to her new apartment.

Recapping the situation, the fact that it took four hours is not surprising, but seeing only a bed and a small lamp at the end of it made us wonder what we did during that whole time...next time my friends move I'm hiring someone to help them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coconut Soup Revisited II

This is a pumpkin coconut soup, which is basically coconut soup with a can of pureed pumpkin. I found it mediocre so I'm not posting the recipe, but if you request it I'll post it.


Recipe: Watercress Soup




Action: I am getting sick so I decided to make a soup earlier than planned. Using the broth I'd already made I added leek and potatoes. I used half the leeks called for and half the watercress. Cooking was simple and took less than an hour.

Reaction: I love this soup! I found it filling and delicious. Next time I would use the whole amount of watercress and skip the pat of butter. He calls for a pat of butter at the end in each bowl, which turns a fresh soup into a heavier one. I think it would be a good idea to add the butter if you're serving it as an entree but I thought it was too heavy. The soup is a bit simple though, so I would keep it for a more homey meal rather than a fancy one.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

James Peterson

I got a new cookbook called "Splendid Soups" by James Peterson and it is a 600 page book that discusses, dissects and provides recipes for a variety of soups. I'm going to try to work my way through the book this year.I'm not going to post the recipes because people should be buying his book if they're interested.


I'm not going to make every recipe, but working my way from simple to complicated so I build up soup-making skillz. I want to try my hand at some of the more complicated things I've avoided in the past by using canned vegetables, bouillons and pre-cooked ingredients.

Action: I started this morning with vegetable broth. I bought most of the basic vegetables (the spices and some other things I had already), which came out to about $8 for 10 cups of broth. Cooking is simple and took less than an hour without any attention required while it was cooking (40 min).

Reaction: It's simple to make and relatively quick, but in the end, it's just broth. There's no picture because it is, again, just broth. It would be cheaper to buy the vegetable broths in the cartons (not canned!) and the flavor will be pretty much be the same. Except for when you're using pre-made broths they're loaded in salt so you'll have to adjust your recipe accordingly. I think I'll continue to make veggie broth in the future because it's easy, but I'm just going to use leftover veggie peels, greens and stems rather than buying new ones every time. It's not worth the price and I feel wasteful when I have to throw the vegetables away.

Next on the menu: Watercress Soup

Friday, January 1, 2010

UCLA

My winter break has been going excellently! My undergrad alma mater, UCLA, had a bowl game in DC. I wanted to go but I could not bring myself to spend $50 for the tickets. So I decided to go to the UCLA Alumni Association Pep Rally instead. I ran into two friends from UCLA and met other alumni and near the end of the evening, one alum walked by to say that he had an extra ticket to the game!! His cousin had gotten sick so he had an extra ticket, and seeing as how I was the only person without a game ticket, I got it for free!

So then it was decided that I was going to go to the game the next day. I got to the tailgating party that was being held in the Armory but I stood around for a while because there was no one I knew there and a whole bunch of Temple fans. Then suddenly, another friend walked by and she managed to score me a wristband for the UCLA VIP tailgating party! They had all-you-can-eat food and an open bar, plus some of the players and coaches and old players who now play in the NFL were walking by and shaking hands with everyone!

I cannot tell you awesome that whole day was. I went from not planning on going to having the whole affair and meeting all sorts of awesome people. I am not the type of person who just gets free tickets! This was ridiculously awesome and totally made my week.

To top it all off, UCLA beat Temple.