Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Back from the Trip . . .

Greetings all- What a crazy trip it's been! From DC to Houston, Brenham, Austin, Denton, Memphis, Jackson, Abingdon, and back to DC we're finally back. We've returned after many restaurants, snack stops, home-cooked meals and more. I'm sure it will take a while to recap the places we made it to, but this will be a start. The trip itself was a mix of successful and disappointing, but the food was great almost everywhere we went . . .Here's the first few:


I arrived in Houston one day after T's family threw an incredible multi-course Chinese dinner to welcome me. Unfortunately, communications got crossed and I had to wait to "break bread" until the next night. Though it was a day late, the replacement welcome meal was fantastic with an assortment of Thai and Chinese dishes. For me, the star was the Cantonese Roast Duck. T's uncle explained the difference between Cantonese duck and Peking duck, which I found fascinating (more soon on this). Having not been a huge fan of what I consider to be a dry and often not-so flavorful dish, I was not sure if I would enjoy the duck before me.

It's moistness and flavor converted me to being a bit more of a duck fan. Cantonese style is definitely the way to go. T's family, who I don't see very often, were incredibly gracious and fun. After some quick explorations around Houston, it was off to Austin.


Driving to Austin means one very important thing. Access to good Mexican food. Mexican, Tex-Mex, etc. are available all over Austin and I just couldn't wait to get in front of a stack of tortillas, some chips and salsa.

We arrived in Austin with a brief window of time and a list of places to go. My favorites all seemed like options (Fonda San Miguel, Kirby Lane, Magnolia Cafe, Guero's, Z Tejas), but we ended up going to Polvos, a place I had been once before and really enjoyed but it had not quite made my favorites list yet. But all that changed during this meal.

Our host, Ms. Poodle-Popper knows the menu well and gently directed our ordering. I've known Ms. P.P. (stop it) for 22 years and trust her food judgment implicitly. She knows we are neither shy nor picky, but that we appreciate great flavors prepared well.

Polvos is a moderately sized restaurant located on South 1st street not far from downtown Austin. After a trip to the astounding Whole Foods flagship store and a trip to Austin's "new" airport to pick up Ms. P.P., we headed over to Polvos for a delicious Tex-Mex experience.

Pescado al Mojo de Ajo was a delicious snapper with a mellow tangy roasted garlic butter sauce that was stunning. The fajitas al pastor arrived on a cast iron skillet. Smallish cubes of intensely flavored pork (overtones of soy, garlic, and chili) accompanied traditional fajita fixings. Drenched in one of Polvos three fresh salsas from their salsa bar, the pork held its own and both flavor and texture came through even mixed with guacamole and bits of mellow shredded cheddar. Cheese enchiladas were a perfect balance between the fresh and steamy corn tortillas, the melted cheese and the trio of sauces we chose from Polvos' extensive menu. Our sauces were mole, margarita, and ranchera. Each was of substantial enough heft to sit appropriately on the enchilada while draping over to coat. I am not a fan of sauces being too thin or watery. I want my enchiladas slathered in flavor and Polvos did a great job on the execution.

Mole sauce was rich but not too nutty and the margarita sauce was definitely a piquant plus. Ranchera sauce was unremarkable but traditional with a zest tomato flavor.

I wish Polvos salsa roja had a bit more (some?) cumin to give it some deeper notes, but other than that, we truly enjoyed our meal and I highly recommend a visit if you're in Austin.

Next up . . .BRENHAM -The Blue Bell Ice Cream factory.

As a side note-- another trip to Andale tonight for a quick margarita. So far, the best margarita in DC. Fresh, tart, sweet, cold, and just plan perfect.

Tripping Out

We're back in DC and I promise a mega-double-completely-perfunctory-with-lots-of-bile recap of the last two episodes of Top Chef by the end of the week. Driving halfway across the country and deciding to boycott the entire state of Tennesee is exhausting. You know you've had an exhusting road trip when going to work is relaxing. Anyway, we drove our car all the way to DC and I have named her Carrie Bradshaw. Unfortunately, J
completely objects to that name and has tried to name it after the kids from the Spellbound documentary. So far, the name Carrie Bradshaw still sticks in my mind. Until J comes up with a better name, the car is Carrie Bradshaw. I hope this isn't the way we will name our kids

Friday, May 26, 2006

Straight From the Comments Section. Yo.

This was a comment from the Restorative Pho Post. I am dying to make it as I am a yooge fan of dark meat chicken.

*************************** gift to you:

This isn't fancy; its not inspiring in any way shape or form--yet I get tons of requests for it--once its been tried. This is purely for medicinal purposes--straight from Bangladesh (literally)

Bengali Chicken

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small head cauliflower, cut up
4 - 5 chicken legs or thighs, skinned and scored
3/4 c water

spice mix:

1 tsp curry
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp ceyenne
2 cup hot cooked rice

Couldn't be simpler. In a large deep saucepan, fry the onion in the oil. Add the cauliflower, spices, chicken, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure the chicken cooks immersed in the liquid. Cauliflower should be an unrecognizable yellow mush by the time its finished. Serve over hot rice with the following salad:

I use a mandolin and a potato peeler to get the right feel for this:

1 tomato, sliced extremely thin
1 tomato, same--on the mandolin
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced paper thin with a potato peeler
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced fine

Put all that in a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous sprinkling of salt; a tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Squeeze together with your hands. Leave in fridge while rice and chicken cook.

The whole thing is done in about 30 minutes. To have this authentically, you eat it with your hands, but we're just as happy to mush the chicken mixture and rice together--with a little of the salad to make a bite--with a fork.

Perscription: serve with good friends and family. Wait three days to take phone calls for recipe requests.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Guest Post from Betty Joan

--a special guest post from Betty Joan -- THANKS!

Normally, I don't love to bake. It's not that I don't
enjoy sweets--all evidence to the contrary--but, for
whatever reason, I've always been more excited and
creative when working with savory ingredients and
flavors. However, whenever I want to impress someone,
I bake one of my homemade key lime pies.

I got the recipe from my friend Brittany, who is,
quite possibly, the only person who is a bigger Food
Network junkie than me. We were preparing a cozy
dinner for our respective boyfriends, and I was
mesmerized by Brittany's baking prowess.

What I came to quickly learn is that key lime pie is
one of the easiest desserts in the world to make.
I'll share the recipe with all of you in
internet-land--but only if you swear to tell your
uber-impressed guests that you slaved all day to make
them such a delicious delicacy. :-)


1 large graham cracker crust (the ones that say "extra
servings" or something similar)
6 egg yolks
2 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 cup key lime juice (if I have time, I really do
squeeze the actual key limes, but if you're rushed,
there's a brand of bottled key lime juice that you can
buy--I think it's called Nellie's or something)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix egg yolks, sweetened
condensed milk, and lime juice until it reaches a
smooth, custard-like consistency. Pour into crust.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (until filling is mostly
solid--don't worry if it jiggles a little, but put it
back under the heat if it's too liquidy). Cool on
rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, and bon apetit!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Call for Guest Bloggers . . .

Well folks, we're off on some travels for a bit. Care to guest blog? Send us a review of your recent meal or a recipe that you've enjoyed making recently. We'd love to hear from non-bloggers especially, but all are welcome. Here are a few prompts and a few places we are curious about.

1. What's your never-fail-to impress dish? Recipe or no recipe, tell us about the one that wows 'em.

2. What's the place in DC that you take folks from out of town? Just one.

3. What are your three favorite dishes in the area? The rest of the food at the restaurant may be blah, and it may be grand, but what's that one dish that you just truly enjoy.

4. Do you have a fave in Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, or Knoxville? We're on a road trip!

Places we'd love to see a review of . . .(unpublished would be best as we read the other food blogs pretty religiously):

Thai X-ing
Amseterdam Falafel
Belga Cafe
Woo Lae Oak
Dairy Godmother
Taste of Wheaton (May 21)
Your favorite bar food
Java Green
Cafe Mozart

Recipes or posts I think would be fun:

Constructing a super tall and non-weeping meringue pie
Your favorite small plate recipe
Summer Refreshment 101
One of the receipes from your favorite dinner party
A story of a food contest you entered or held with friends

Just email us at and thanks!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Grey's Anatomy and Relationships - Not at all about food

This post has been percolating in me for a while. I've deliberated on posting it. Even though it has nothing to do with food, I am jumping in. I'm an avid watcher of Grey's Anatomy - the writing rocks, the acting rocks, the direction rocks. I love the totally flawed characters. Up to a point. And that point was well passed during the season finale.

When it comes to tv love, and sometimes love in real life, I feel like Commander Data. I have simply never understood the whole idea of unrequited love. I'm all, "what is this emotion that you humans talk about?" when I think of unrequited love. As soon as I find out that a guy I'm interested in is not interested back, he doesn't seem all that attractive. There are two overwhelming desires that I have (GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER) - finality and possibility. I have a desperate need to know where I stand to the point that I often start a confrontation. I have always said up front that I have feelings the other person because I just need to know RIGHT AWAY how they feel. And this leads to my desperate need for possibility. I love looking forward to things - vacations, weddings, houses. Those things need to be attainable, otherwise I don't find it fun. That leads to my immunity to unrequited love. I can't be attracted to someone that I don't see myself having a future with. Not just the whole marriage and kids thing, but the savoring of that first date where you're all excited. If I know that it won't happen since they have no interest in me, then it's hard to feel attraction to that.

So Grey's Anatomy. I love Cristina. I love Bailey. I love Addison. Meredith Grey and McDreamy? Not so much. I just don't get how you can be attracted to someone who dissed you. No matter what the reason is, and how complicated the situation, the basic fact is Derek threw Meredith away. Does the hot sex cancel that out? It wouldn't for me. But the bitter cherry on top of that ice cream sundae of woe (whoah! When did I start with the metaphors) is the fact that Mcdreamy called you a whore. Because he couldn't come to terms with his own conflicted feelings, he calls you a whore. If rejection is a dealbreaker for me, being called a prostitute is out of the ballpark awful. Why on earth would you be attracted to someone who calls you names?

You know what's attractive to me? Respect. J is seriously the hottest guy on earth because he gets me and values me AND WOULD NEVER CALL ME NAMES. I get weak in the knees when J gives me a certain look because I know that he really sees me and cherishes every part of me. It's totally thrilling to me that he chose me to spend the rest of his life with. This is why it's imcomprehensible that Meredith isn't going "fuck that shit" with Derek and making a beeline to Finn.

Thanks for indulging me. I'm at a conference so I won't be posting for the next week and a half.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ten Things About the Top Chef Reunion

1. The judges - not so annoying. Billy Joel's Child Bride was not as robotic as she usually is. Gail was nearly as bitchy and Chef Tom was nearly as high and mighty. What endears me to the judges in this episode is that they are truly horrified at the bad behavior and show an emotion other than smugness. This is the most human I've seen them and their reactions seem real. Now tell me that the Earth has been sucked into a vortex because I never thought I would say that.

2. Lay of the alcohol because even the people who weren't acting out looked tipsy. And the people who WERE acting out? to quote dancerindc - "nuttier than a payday bar."

3. Early eliminees (excluding Ken and up to Miguel) seemed really good natured and seemed to get a lot out of the experience. Lisa and Andrea seem really good natured. Miguel also wasn't confrontational so good on him

4. Speaking of Ken. The dude is a king sized payday bar. I will totally allow that he was playing for the cameras but really, do you want big effing tool as your calling card? The man was so off the hook with his response to reliving his elimination and his stupid laughing at Stephen's apology to Candice. His awful cackling and throwing of water bottles wants to make me take out a retraining order on him. Ken you cannot come closer than 50 feet TO ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING.

5. Way to lose the blunt cut bangs Lee Ann. You are rocking the side parted longer bangs and the dewy makeup. Any guy would be lucky to be your boyfriend.

6. Could Stephen be...human? He seemed really aware that he came off as a complete and utter tool and his response to seeing himself on tv was right on. I especially liked his answer to why he felt the need to educate the world. His apology to Candice seemed sincere (if alcohol induced). However, using the term white trash (no matter how deserved) came close to wiping away all the goodwill he was generating in the rest of the episode.

7. Harold comes off as such a stand-up guy. His defense of Stephen was spot on (saying that Stephen really was a split personality). And his look of embarrassment at the crazy behavior around him earned him massive amounts of brownie points. And he needs to bask a little in all of the positive attention he's getting. And the other chefs love him. It takes a huge amount of likability to go through a reality show without pissing anyone off. Anyone who disses the wedding challenge is golden in my book.

8. For someone who left the show early on, Cynthia has a lot to say. She had a comment on almost every topic and would not shut up.

9. On the other end of the spectrum...LET IT GO DAVE!!!!! You made it to the final three and you still hold the big ass grudge against Tiffani. You have to know that everyone has been on your side on this but when you keep going after her it's unseemly. The first time Tiffani is shown interrupting Dave, it seems like he's still in that insecure place where he has to put all of his defenses up as opposed to blowing her off. You don't make yourself look good when it's so clear Tiffani can get under your skin so easily. And letting the world know you're broke Dave? Sounds kind of desperate. The whole Dave and Tiffani interaction is just ugly. Noone comes off well in it but least of all Dave.

10. Finally, Tiffani. Tiffani. Tiffani. Tiffani. I feel bad for her that she was the object of the pile on but she really doesn't want to take any responsibility for her actions. Taking the I'm Not Your Bitch, Bitch t-shirt was so not classy. The walking off the set acting when everyone speculates that she turned town the heat on Lee Ann's oven in the first episode is just plain stupid. You were their monkey when you signed the contract to be on the show. Tiffani's continuous "I'm here to win" is my F1. Knowing how they have edited her means that we will see a lot of confessionals from Tiffani saying she's there to win.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pho as a restorative

I have just enjoyed some delicious pho and it was quite restorative. I've been very fatigued for the past several days with little appetite and even less ability to move around. I think the salty chicken noodle soup at Pacific Cafe was just what I needed.

My pho had poached chicken, a nice wad of noodles, and a flavorful broth. to that I added bean sprouts, the requisite hoisin and siracha and just a few leaves of mint. Something in that combination really helped. I may go back tomorrow in hopes that I can get better by Monday.

I know I've asked before, but do you have a meal or dish that is restorative when you are feeling cruddy?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Top Chef Episode Nine

This is a hard one ot recap. The final result just kills me. But I don't dispute it. Unlike previous episodes, I thought the judges were fair and the guest judges gave spot on assessments. It's kind of like in Top Model where Tyra actually says something insightful about the model industry like for men's magazine's spread the legs and for women's hunch over. And you see what she does and it totally makes sense.

Ah the lovely sight of San Francisco. Harold feels bad about Stephen leaving which baffles me. Then we hear about Dave being screwed over by the dot com bust and pursuing his dream of being a professional chef. He's fairly appreciative of how close he's been to being eliminated. Tiffani throws out the tried and true reality tv mantra that she's not trying to make friends. Winning a reality show and not being a raging bitch aren't mutually exclusive. Lee Ann says that her ideal final three is her, Dave and Stephen. Apparently she doesn't like Tiffani either. The editors are setting us up for a Tiffani elimination.

Tom, Gail, and Billy Joel's Child Bride are at the quickfire challenge. Oh god Billy Joel's Child Bride needs to zip but good. It's even more grating when she's trying for inflection. For the final quickfire challenge, they have to make their own versions of junk food. We see a table laden with popcorn, funyons, tortilla chips, oreos and ding dongs. Harold is pissed. Harold chooses popcorn; Dave chooses nachos; Tiffani chooses corn dogs; and Lee Ann chooses hot dogs. Scramble. Scramble. Scramble. Harold makes a corn cake with popcorn and ceviche. Tiffani makes corn dogs with duck sausage and chorizo. Surprisingly, she says she likes corn dogs. Lee Ann makes a seafood hot dog. Tiffani is annoyed by Dave's manic scrambling. She doesn't think he'll make it to the final three. When Harold presents his dish, he totally plugs the sponsors, saying he mad the cake with Pop Secret in the Kenmore microwave. It appears the sponsor ass kissing works because he wins the challenge. A meaningless challenge since noone gets immunity.

In contrast to the junk food quickfire, the elimination challenge requires the uses of two of the most exotic and valued ingredients: some fancy schmancy red wine (Schafer Hillside Select) and truffles. Everyone is happy. They must prepare a dish with the truffle to be paired with the wine. I am laughing my ass off that Stephen was eliminated before this challenge. Even better, they get to prepare the meal in Napa (the supposed epicenter for food and wine) for some of the best chefs in Napa.

The competitors toot their own horns in voiceover. Then at home, the chefs get to taste the wine and savor its flavor. The next morning Stephen wakes up sick. Dave hopes to lighten up for this challenge. Lifestyle porn shots of Napa vineyards. The chef's shop at some hoity toity Napa supermarket. Lee chooses lamb and then Tiffani chooses lamb and then Harold chooses lamb. Dave wisely chooses beef. Lee Ann is not happy about the plethora of lamb.

A the Copia Cooking school, the Julia Child kitchens look like a dream. Tiffani and Lee Ann remember their encounters with Julia. As in a REAL cooking competing, the cooking is staggered so each dish can be served at its peak. Tiffani is making foie gras gnocchi and once again says she's there to win. Harold whines about being sick and decides to make a sunchoke creamed spinach to go with the lamb. Lee Ann decides to make a butternut squash risotto. Dave's instincts are right on as he avoids the typical truffle risotto and decides to make a truffle mac 'n cheese. Tiffani bitches about the fact that the other chefs are interrupting her zen-like silence with things like Lee Ann asking Dave to reach and get her a pan. If THAT throws you off Tiffani, you must go nuts over a regular restaurant kitchen. Tiffani is clearly getting the bitch edit.

Chef Tom comes to check in on the competitors. He expresses concern over Tiffani's gnocchi and the preponderance of lamb. We get to see the guest judges who are the top chefs of Napa and the maker of Schafer Hillside Select. Tiffani is behind and the servers are pushing her to finish. The guests are hungry and ready to judge. After commercial Tiffani serves up her dish and describes it to the judges. Tiffani voice overs that her time management sucked. The judges like the dish but one judges says that the sauce brought out the acid of the wine instead of the roundness. Harold is up next. His plating looks a lot like Tiffani's. In describing his dish, Dave says he used sunchoke puree instead of dairy for the sauce. One judge says that there's grit on his mushrooms. I will say this, the producers chose these judges well. While they offer up their criticism, there isn't an air of superiority or viciousness about their comments. You can tell they want the competitors to succeed. The guest dishes love the flavors of Harold's dish. Poor Lee Ann. She is the THIRD lamb dish. Tiffani voice overs that Lee Ann overshot and her dish was way too complicated. Chef Tom says that it;s going to be one of the lamb dishes that will be eliminated. In hearing the full description of the dish, I'd have to agree with Tiffani that there's a lot going on in the dish. The judges like the cherry sauce but think the risotto is a starchy mess. So Dave serves up his mac 'n cheese. Tiffani gets the bitch edit again as she voice overs that Dave's food is unrefined. When he presents his dish, he blathers on and on and on. The judges are cracking up. He gets criticized for his overuse of black pepper. One judge calls him a "black pepper monkey."

The judges deliberate. They hate Tiffani's gnocchi and the lack of texture in the dish. Harold gets props for his technique and the thoughtfulness of matching the flavor of the dish with the wine. He gets slammed for the grit and not using dairy. Lee Ann's sauce gets complimented but there's simply too much going on in her dish. Oh Dave the pepper monkey. He gets compliments for having a whole truffle at the bottom of the dish, which hightlighted the taste of the truffle. The judges hate the overuse of pepper and the underuse of salt.

Ok. Judging. The competitors get feedback from the three main judges. Everyone looks stressed. Even Lee Ann looks like she is about the cry. And who's the winner? The guest chefs have a clear favorite and while Tom's favorite is Harold, the winner is...DAVE! Even in victory, Dave is a crybaby. My heart is aching right now. Tiffani and Lee Ann look like they've been called to the principal's office. In a testament to how functional Harold is, he congratulates Dave and gives his a friendly pat on the Dave. When the two of them get back to the kitchen, Dave unwinds by pressing the automatic door to the pantry and walking in. Harold is cracking up.

Back to heartbreak ridge. The judges ask Lee Ann and Tiffani why they should be going to Vegas. Tiffani pontificates about her integrity, her competitiveness and her...Humility? Wha...???? She continues that she admits when she screws up and when she's misrepresented herself. Wow. I have no words. Lee Ann counters that she doesn't have to be mean to be competitive and win by not putting anyone down. My heart breaks in twelve pieces when she says she wants to get her head together and BRING IT in Vegas. After chanceries, the judges talk talk talk and in the end, it's Lee Ann who has to take the walk.

Harold and Dave reflect the viewership of Top Chef by being completely devastated by Lee Ann's ouster. The first time I watched this, I was bawling as badly as Dave. Tiffani's bitch edit continues as we get a confessional that she's a nice person but that's not what she has to prove in Top Chef.

So with Lee Ann out who do I think is going to win? It's 50/50 with Tiffani. She's a brilliant chef, but she is clearly being positioned as the Wendy Pepper of Top Chef. Harold is strong and consistent but I feel like he's a little TOO much about the food. Being squirreled away the the kitchen is more a sous chef thing than a Top Chef. Color me surprised but I think the winner will be Dave. Reality shows are all about momentum and improvement and the pendulum has been swinging Dave's way since the restaurant concept challenge. He's shown he can manage the front of the house AND cook.

Next up, reunion show. And it's a big ol' mess.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ginormous News

Ok. I'll just say that this week's recap will be folded into a ginormous mega recap next week. Like everyone in the blogosphere, we had a crazy busy weekend. While I let all of you know about the wedding stuff, I can now let the blogoverse know about the other ginormous news. We're moving! Even thought we are only moving from Capitol Hill to a certain Prince George's County suburb that rhymes with Beverly, this is a MAJOR lifestyle change for us. We're going from having all of Eastern Market and 8th street at our fingertips to living in a tree lined, economically diverse, 10-minute-drive-from-retail neighborhood. I'm already tearing up about the move but it's certainly the right decision. Three times the space for essentially the same amount in rent! Hell YEAH!

We're moving into a house which has almost everything we would want in the next place we would move to. Dishwasher? Check. Finished basement with washer dryer? Check. Den? Check. Second bedroom? check. Central air? Check. Yard? Check. Dinng room? check. You heard it right, DINING ROOM. This means dinner parties where people will not be balancing their plates on their laps. TABLE SETTINGS AND CENTERPIECES!!!! While the kitchen is TINY, we'll have more cabinet space. I am over the moon that our out of town guests won't have to share their room with a computer, my quilting supplies, and a vaccuum cleaner.

So how did this happen? For some reason both J and I were awake at 6:00 am last Friday. As he likes to do, he was looking at real estate ads on Craigslist. "Honey, could you come here for a sec?" And I was thinking J was going to show me some outrageously priced Capitol Hill House that would piss me off. Then he shows me a rental listing for the house. I fell in love immediately. We waited until a more reasonable hour to call the realtors and I giddily told them how much we loved the Town of Rhymes with Beverly and would love to live in that house. Because of the wedding, we couldn't see the place until Sunday evening. But we charmed the pants off the realtors and were as unthreateningly gay as possible.

Yesterday the relators said that they wanted us to rent the house, stating that "we were exactly the type of nice couple they were looking to rent to." Who would have thought that an interracial, same-gender couple, was some realtor ideal renter?

To stef, scotte, and jason, watch out for the invitation.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wedding on a Hillside

I have to apologize for the lateness of the Top Chef Recap. I only have one thing to say - WAAAAAAAAAAAAH. The recap is on its way but Footnotes guyput his two cents in so go to his site.

The reason for the delay was that J and I spent the weekend in Berkeley Springs, going to one of the most equisite wedding ever put together. I am a wedding freak and watch other people's wedding videos for fun. I know my weddings. The wedding was for a former co-worker of J's and it was on the family property with one of the most spectacular views in all of West Virginia. It's hard NOT to have an equisite wedding with that tableau. This wedding was a Martha Stewart fantasy, especially because the wedding party put the whole thing together THEMSELVES. No seriously. They rented the tent and the tablecloths, napkins, dishes, silverware, and glasses and had servers (who were organized by a groomsman) but the plating, decorating, and cooking was all them.

On top of all the green valleys and rolls hills and verdant forests, the wedding couple accented nature's beauty with the color scheme of orange and green (the bride wanted a peas and carrots theme). Thinking about all of the vile shades of orange and green, the wedding could have easily looked like an 80's prom gone bad. But the shades they chose were so elegant and everything matched, from the perfectly arranged centerpieces, to the aisle markers that were shot columns with an coral and sage green satin overlay and white tulle topped with pansies.

The tables has sage green napkins and gold rimmed plates with centerpieces of orange and green wildflowers. To balance out the incredibly beautiful day she handed the couple, mother nature decided to make her breezes a little more gusty. This led to the wedding cake tipping over, losing the top two layers and the beverage tent literally blowing away. This was a group of people who were there to celebrate C & J coming together so no gust of wind was going to spoil the day.

And the food? the food kicked some major booty. First of all, the planners had a quasi-antipasto platter set out for cocktail hour. I'll say it once if I say it a thousand times - feed 'em early and feed 'em often. The platter included deviled eggs, spinach artichoke dip (served warm!), mini caprese salads, crostini and tapenade. This gave the guests time to mingle and take in the breathtaking scenery.

The meal itself was a testament to the love of a devoted group of friends. It was a spectacular sandwich bar that would make the Breadline guy tip his hat. The "meats" included turkey sausages, roast pork loin, and portabello mushrooms. The condiments were a dazzling array of roasted peppers, caramlized onions, stone ground mustard, and mayo with an assortment of crusty baguettes and soft rolls. As if we couldn't eat more, we also had an array of salads to go with the sandwiches - black bean and corn, caprese, and caesar.

The meal was finished with plates of cookies and, of course, the wedding cake. And yes, the bride looked FABULOUS.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rebecca's Little Nibbles

Before we get into the meat of the post, I just have to say, "well done Top Chef editors."

Anywhooo, last Saturday was the Purple Prince Party and DC Rebecca's for her Sweetie's Birthday. They have a fairly amazing ability to throw elegant keggers. This one was complete with purple walls, and purple ballons that stuck the the ceiling through static eletricity. I will say, I haven't been that drunk in for-effing-ever. All the alcohol I consumed couldn't kill my taste buds. DC Rebecca made these incredible olives-in-a-blanket-things that were sublime. The mellow savoriness of the dough worked well with the saltiness of the olive. I begged her for the recipe and she was kind enough to send it to me. Thanks DC Rebecca and I am waiting for the 80s prom.

From DC Rebecca:

The recipe below is from epicurious, and what I made was a combination of it, some comments, and other recipes I've seen. It's way easy in the food processor. I used a half a block of sharp cheddar, shreddeded it using that blade, and then gave it all a good chop with the regular blade. Then I threw in the butter (3 tbs - 2 was awfully dry) and pulsed. Finally I added the other ingredients and pulsed until it got all pebbly (a bit like pie dough). When constructing the hors, I just grabbed a glob of dough, smashed it in my hand, and molded it around the olives.

Olive-wise, I used both garlic stuffed green olives from a jar (Safeway brand, no less) and roasted red pepper stuffed green olives from Eastern Market. I'd say go for the cheap ones - I doubt anyone could tell the difference. I did use a trick I saw on Good Eats recently where AB rinsed olives by letting them sit in clean water for a couple of hours. Did it make a difference? I haven't a clue. It did seem like a good idea, though.

Finally, I'd love for these to be a bit crisper on the outside. I took a stab at broiling them for a minute or two at the end, but it didn't help much (and food experiments during parties are generally a crap idea). Wrapping them in a thinner layer of dough might. Maybe a roll in Panko? A little parm grated on top at the end before a broiler blast? I don't know.

Cheddar Olives
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
a 3-ounce jar small pimiento-stuffed green olives (about 24), drained and patted dry

In a bowl combine the Cheddar and the butter, add the flour and the cayenne, and blend the dough until it is combined well. Drop the dough by tablespoons onto wax paper and wrap or mold each tablespoon around each of the olives, covering each olive completely. Bake the wrapped olives on a baking sheet in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden, and serve them warm.

Makes about 24 Cheddar olives.