Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And so it begins . . .Send Your Friends

The links aren't ready and we're busy pulling entries together, but soon, you'll be seeing more of us at Bay Area Food Blog.

We miss you all!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Come on over!

So we're still working on the website for the food blog because hey it's the Bay Area and there are a zillion food blogs. But I am now indulging my obsession with weddings and started a wedding blog. This is a place to talk about funny wedding stories, give tips on how to put together a wedding, and share pretty pictures of pretty people. Come on over to The Blessed Freaking Day. Sorry for the radio silence, but you know, we did move across the country.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Last Meal

So Saturday we had our final meal around our dining room table (which sadly will NOT fit in our new apartment). The gathering consisted of our gang and J's mother who came to help us pack and clean (and she's the reason why we can move cross country without killing each other). It was a fitting end and closed the circle for the time we spent at the Cheverly house.

Our first night in the Cheverly house was two years ago when J's mom came to help us move in. We invited our gang to come over the night before the movers arrived to experience the joy of assembling IKEA furniture. My wonderful mother-in-law singlehandedly put together our dining room table and created a no-cook meal that consisted of hummus and pita bread, chips and salsa, sandwich fixin's, strawberries and cookies. Over a meal of paper plates and plastic cups we created a home. Our beautiful buffet was assembled and we hung our pictures and laid out the knick-knacks.

Over the same set of paper plates and plastic cups, our friends came to share one last night around the table. It was a table where we hosted a Thanksgiving. A table that held the love and fun from many parties, bridal showers, and open houses.

It's been such a gift to gather the people I love the most around a table and break bread with them. J made vanilla marshmallows. I made vegetarian and shrimp won tons and a pitcher of mojitos. J's Mom made cookies and Chili Cream - a divine concoction of chili, cheddar cheese, creme cheese and, surprisingly enough, unsweetened whipped cream.

Thank Heaven and her boyfriend
brought Indian cauliflower that just tasted brilliant. I've always had trouble making Indian food. It's never tasted as good as what you get in a restaurant.

Pauline brought her famous Nepalese potato salad. The best potato salad in the world. It was spicy with fenugreek and asefateda and fresh with cilantro and mint.

Slim and Connecticut Bob brought Bob's famous rolls with BBQ from Red Hot and Blue to go inside.

The Marrieds
brought sorbet and frozen custard from the Dairy Godmother in Del Ray. Dairy Godmother has been a key piece of our collective hanging out - talking about politics, pop culture, and youtube videos.

Stinkle was kind enough to bring herself, after coming in from a work trip that afternoon. Even better she was kind enough to host our last last hurrah. A night of beer and pizza the night before the movers came.

My Other Wife brought a wonderful strawberry cake. As a fellow Asian, she knew we Asian love fruit in our desserts and hate sugary frosting.

There were others who couldn't make it. Ron and Shyin and their baby Stonewall. Graphic Designer. Stinkle's boyfriend who we've come to adore.

It's a great way to spend your last days in a city. I'm grateful for our time together.

To you, our online family. Keep your eyes posted. We'll be starting a west coast blog.

Maureen at Barnacle Bill's

Every once in a while, I come across stories I've written in other journals. This was a favorite from an early lunch at Barnacle Bill's in Sarasota, Florida, a place I love to eat. This is not so much about food as it is about freedom.

Janet is the name of the waitress. She has stopped by regularly, filled my raspberry tea, brought me some extra bread, and in general been top-notch.

I came to Barnacle Bill's to enjoy a meal and to remember the time my partner and I had come there for our anniversary dinner after hours of soaking in the sun and sand. It was to be a quiet lunch.

That was until I met Maureen.

I wanted to grab Maureen. Rush out the door quick like an action hero, like freaking Tank Girl, like anyone who could really move up and out in one swift motion.

I wanted to grab Maureen and run down Sarasota's Main Street - home of incense-soaked hippy women, boatless people who dress for boating, and magical skaterboys who will dance in the street off one cup of coffee.

I wanted to grab Maureen and get her the hell away from her parents. To rescue her from a life of being pecked at and being shot down Whack-A-Mole-style by these scattered and smothering people.

They babied an adult child, pushed hard enough to where she could not even fit a sentence in edgewise because her breath was sucked down, forced there by the aggressive word bubbles they kept blowing up and bursting on her. She was against a window.

Maureen sits pliant with her naked salmon.

"Is it good, Maureen?" asks mom.

"It's fine. Just fine," says Maureen from the table on the other side of my booth. There's an odd lilt in her voice. It starts higher and ends low, like she is trying to reassure herself that her entire being in fact is "fine" like her salmon.

"We can get a sauce for it, Maureen. Where's the waitress? This salmon needs a sauce."

I can't see Maureen and her mother, but this was the fourth or fifth exchange like this. Mom knows best. Maureen has a throat full of socks.

I'm alone, reading materials for a board meeting. Before I noticed them I was engrossed in my conch soup and French bread that is so close to perfection it is almost Cuban. But the distractions were ongoing and mom and dad were not going to give Maureen or myself any peace.

A drill in the next room is putting the finishing touches on the bar where I suspect Maureen may want to spend a few hours, months, or years.

Mom yells across the restaurant towards the hostess stand. "I hope they're not planning to work all the way through lunch." She's uptight, old, cranky, and not interested in niceties.

I look at the clock on my cell phone. 11:00. Not even noon yet.

The hostess says, "It's worse in the early morning." She knows it was sassy. She glances my direction and we share a very quick wide-eyed moment of empathy for one another. And for Maureen.

I wanted to grab Maureen and take her out and celebrate disagreement, to hear her resistance or whatever subjective voice she had, if it was still possible. If they would just go to the bathroom or run out for a Virginia Slim. If Maureen could just be alone for a second maybe we could flee?

Would she go with me? Or even alone?

Janet stopped by with some more bread. Maureen's mother got up, preceded by "Do you have a lady's room? Is it all the way in the back? All the way back there?"

She looked pissed. At what, I am just not sure. She passed me in a slight breeze of baby powder and Estee Lauder makeup.

Maureen and I were alone. I edged myself over to the very lip of my booth. Pushed one ass cheek off the left side and leaned over just a bit so I could get a better look.

Brown hair, probably just a bit older than my thirty-two years. A Marcia Gay Harden from a beach town sort. My glimpse could not last long. I have an easily-read face and I am sure Maureen would be able to tell what I was thinking. She'd know I wanted to grab her. This might be disturbing.

I wrote a simple note on my sprial pad. "They'll be back from the bathroom soon. Are you okay?" I signed it, "The Guy in the Next Booth." It was like I was writing Dear Abby. I folded the note and was ready to toss it to her when it felt like someone was coming up behind me. I got back in my seat and turned around.

Just Janet.

But as soon as I recognized it was Janet, from the next table came an uproarious slurp. The end of a vanilla shake met with an eager Maureen wanting desperately to taste every last drop. It was as loud as the drill, a yawp of sorts. This was a hungry woman. Maureen was pulling every sugary drop into the depths of her.

I peeked over again. This time raising myself in my seat like I was leaving. Maureen was still alone and laughing her ass off.

I paid my check, left a double-tip for the waitress along with this story, and walked out the door without Maureen.

I think back on this now and wish I had gotten Maureen's address, but I know it's none of my business.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Lil' Bay Area review - Maritime East

So isn't weird when you and your siblings grow up enough so you're not just siblings but also friends? Stef, considering your brother is like super cool and you seem to get along, when did that happen for you?

When J and I were in the Bay Area, we got together with my brother who lives in Fremont and is some kind of entrepreneur (and not that kind of entrepreneur that says they're an entrepreneur as an excuse for slacking; he works his ass off and has the income to show for it). We asked my brother where we should all get together for dinner and he suggested Martime East in Berkeley. What he didn't tell us was that he was friends with the owner. It was a really enjoyable evening where we got to talk with the owner about the restaurant business and catch up with my brother.

The dining experience itself was really wonderful, even apart from the free appetizers and dessert. I will agree with the posters on Yelp that say the storefront sign does make it seem like Maritime East is an aquarium store. But the inside looks well designed and upscale. We were worried that we were underdressed but this really was a neighbhorhood joint and we saw people in jeans. The decor modern but warm and the onwer highlighted the showpiece which was a wall with 2-inch lines of colored sand. One thing I will have ot highlight is the excellent sound control. People never think about it unless it totally sucks. And this time the designers did a great job to make sure that the background noise was loud enough so that you didn't feel like you were in a funeral home but not so loud you couldn't hear your tablemates. That is the downfall of Cafe Asian in Arlington where you feel like you are ain a train station.

The food itself was truly excellent, and not just because we got a free appetizer and dessert. There was a clean and fresh quality to the dishes, even the burger tht my brother ordered. This was not a restaurant that depended on heavy sauces and overpowering flavors. Like a good seafood restaurant, Maritime East knew to choose fresh fish and get out of the way. Their flavors are very citrus and spice focused.

We started with cocktails. J got the Maritime margarita and I got the White Out, with citron vodka, white cranberry juice and cointreau. Both were excellent as I like fruity drinks. I ordered the seafood chowder to start that had clams, fish, mussels , bacon, and fingerling potatoes. The soup was resonant with fish broth and scallions. Rather than being heavy, the chowder broth was light and allowed for the individuality of each of the ingredients. As a bonus, we got an order of the dungeness crab gratinee. This is where I am a total west coast boy because dungeness crab RULZ! I find it interesting that they call this a gratinee becuase it's a fresh salad with apples. blood oranges, and micro greens. The sweetness of the crab really comes through.

For dinner, my brother got the burger, I got a wood fired pizza and J got the sole. Surprisingly, the burger was excellent. You would have thought it would be an afterthought but the burger was perfectly cooked. The wood fired pizza had the appropriate chewiness and crunch that you would expect. The toppings of bonito tuna, olives, and capers was wonderfully briny. Craving vegetables, I got the brussel sprout and pea sprout hash, a lovely combination of the two sprouts shreeded and sauteed. The best of the bunch was J's sole which was served with pureed cauliflower, capers, and brown butter. This was an earthy treat for a cold Berkeley night.

While we were all stuffed, my brother's friend gave us complimentary desserts - the chocolate pot de creme, the sorbet and gelato selection, and the apple and cranberry tart. All were excellent but the pot de creme was pure indulgence in a cup.
I asked about the lack of vegetarian options and the owner said that the chef made a vegetarian meal upon request. Knowing her skill with seafood, I hope they would let everyone know about that option.

It's very nice to have a go to place in the Bay Area. This is perfect for a quiet evening or a celebration. Thanks to the brother for a great choice!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Off Topic - The Paper

For anyone who had any doubts. Yes, I am a geek. And therefore, I am totally addicted to The Paper on MTV. Yes, I was on the school paper all four years of high school. And I love The Paper immensely mainly because it's just so over the top. I feel so sad for Amanda, the Editor in Chief. She's Tracy Flick as a real person. Her organizational skills are in inverse proportion to her people skills. She's the high school editor version of Michael Scott, organizing team building exercises and team meetings, all the while her staff is either laughing at her or actively trying to bring her down. I'm not sure who is more loathsome, Giana, the Features Editor who is trying to channel Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls or Alex, Amanda's ex-friend, and the person she beat out to be Editor in Chief. It's clear Alex and Amanda are into each other but Alex is more than happy to sell her out to the "popular" kids on the paper, Giana and her minions. It doesn't help that Alex has some festering resentment of Amanda being editor in chief because she, like, wrote a good application. Seriously folks, this show is my crack. For those of you wonder, I was News Editor two years running. I was one of those Type A folks who read the minutes from the school board meeting to see if there was anything newsworthy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Entry 14 years in the Making

For those Wrinkle in Time Fans, I'm going to pull a Mrs. Who for this entry – using the words of others to capture my feelings.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same

The thing is, I'm the one who stayed. I came here in 1994 and saw friend after friend move away for a job, grad school, family or just because they didn't like the weather. But I stayed. There's something about DC that feels like home. Maybe it's the scale of the city. Maybe it's the fact that we talk about elections in the same way we talk about sports. Whatever it was, DC wasn't just a place to live.

DC has been really good to me. I sort of stumbled into a career where I get to make change. I found things to do – singing, quilting, playing tennis. I came out. I got my heart broken. Multiple times. I broke hearts. Far fewer times. I found the love of my life and got married. We turned 30. Turned 35.

We built a life together that involved friends, family, and food. We lived in a group house and then we moved to an apartment by ourselves. Another apartment by ourselves on Capitol Hill. And finally a house in Cheverly with a real dining room table. We threw dinner parties. We found the best group of friends anyone could possibly ask for.

Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap

It started as just an idea. Nothing firm. No plan. Just kicking around the thought of moving to the Bay Area. As ideas went, it looked like something far in the distance if it were to happen at all. It was more of a joke than anything else. Wouldn't it be fund to work in San Francisco? We could pay $3000 in rent for a studio! Hahaha.

But then we both had job opportunities with places that we wanted to work. We looked at Craigslist and saw some two bedrooms in our price range. And we visited and spent time with June and Muffin and Rebecca 1.0 and Bellisima. At some point, it felt less like walking away from this awesome life we built in DC and more like walking towards a new adventure.

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity

Then we both started applying. By February, I got a job offer from an organization in Oakland that allowed me to work from home until June and J was interviewing for four different positions in San Francisco. The weird thing was we kept seeing all of these signs for us to move. One night we turned on the TV and PBS was doing a travelogue on the Bay Area. Another day we turned on the Food Network and THEY did a travel show on San Francisco. And then we turned on Lifetime and saw the series finale of the Golden Girls where Dorothy marries the guy from Airplane! in the ugliest wedding dress ever made.

I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down...

We did fall in love with San Francisco. Really all it took was an afternoon at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market. Then Bellisima, who works as a beverage manager at a high end wine bar took us to dinner and showered us with free wine. Then we went to dinner with my brother at his friend's restaurant, Maritime East and J got to taste Dungeness crab. And then J had a burrito in the Mission District.

Beyond the food, was a city with views. We thought about weekend mornings driving ten minutes to the beach or driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to see the redwood forest.

I'm Limited
Together we're unlimited
Together we'll be the greatest team
There's ever been, Glinda,
Dreams the way we planned 'em
If we work in tandem

So here we go. We'll definitely be in the Bay Area by June. My piece of reassurance about this whole things is that I came to DC with a little bit of family in the area and that was it. J and I head to Oakland will each other, great jobs, June and Muffin, and Rebecca 1.0 and Bellisima. We've both been asked to serve on the Board of Directors of two community organizations we love and respect. There are a zillion farmer's markets and hopefully a good CSA we can join. Hopefully, we can find a place that can accommodate our dining room table. Hopefully we can build a circle of friends to eat around the dining room table.

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately -
Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly

Mixed in with the sadness is a huge amount of gratitude. J and I would have never met if it weren't for DC. We wouldn't have started this blog and met awesome people like Scotte, Jason, and Stef.

There will always be a piece of me in DC. This city has sustained me in a zillion ways. I get a clench in my stomach about leaving this city and our friends but as I've told many a person who's left this city before me, the sadness means that you actually did something. Leaving is already hurting like hell because I know there will always be a piece of me in DC.

Tell them how I
Am defying gravity!
I'm flying high
Defying gravity!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another dairy free delight

We visited the Lambers in the Bay area a few weeks ago. They are exceeding fun to hang around with and even more fun to cook with. They have a lovely gas grill where almost every night we made some marvelous grilled protein (turkey burgers, chicken breasts) and a set of grilled vegetables (zuchinni, eggplant etc). So my last night with the Lamers, L made this great tomato sauce composed of quality canned tomatoes, two big springs of basil and two whole garlic cloves. The basil and garlic were fished out of the sauce at the end of the cooking. As the Lambers are conscious of making sure they get protein, I suggested putting in pureed tofu into the sauce to make it creamy. I'd seen in on a vegetarian cooking show where some lady made a fake alfredo by marinating tofu in miso and then pureeing it. I figured we could make a protein-rich, dairy free penna in vodka by doing the same. As it turned out, the pureed tofu was a wonderful addition. It had more of a ricotta texture but definitely added the requisite creaminess. A healthy shot of vodka and some simmering later, there was our penne in vodka sauce. For about two cups of sauce, I would add a half a block of firm (not silken or extra firm) tofu.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Ok this is a tiny little entry. Sunday night, we had the marrieds come over for dinner. This was a very casual thing and we ended up making stromboli with Morningstar Farm "meat" crumbles and a salad (bag of salad greens, walnut, balsamic vinaigrette). I will say I learned to put the seam side down on a stromboli because as they baked, the seam split.

For dessert J bought coconut and raspberry sorbet. As an accompaniment, I made lemon cookies. I am beginning to understand Ina Garten's obsession with citrus zest. At a crafting thing I went to, someone put orange zest in a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie and it tasted amazing. For the lemon cookies, I went to epicurious and their recipe for lemon cookies were simply a basic sugar cookie recipe with two tablespoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon of lemon zest. The result was one of the best cookies i have ever made. It was spring in a cookie with a resonant lemon flavor and aroma. Next up lemon panna cotta! All hail the zest!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spaghetti Carbonara - SOOO EASY!

CRAVING FULFILLED! I've been craving spaghetti carbonara for ages and I finally got around to making it. The great things about spaghetti carbonara is the sauce is based on scrambled eggs and pasta water as opposed to cream. Given that J is lactose intolerant, this makes a great pasta dish for both of us (as I can put tons of parmigiano reggiano on my plate of carbonara separately). The other great thing about spaghetti carbonara is how totally easy it is to make. Perfect for a cold night after work.

Here's how I did it:

1 pound of pasta
lots of salt
5 slices of bacon (or an equivalent amount of pancetta or guanciale if you want to be totally traditional
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of parmigiano reggiano

Fry bacon (or any cured meat thereof) until fairly crispy and fat is completely rendered. Add the garlic and turn off the heat. Bring water to a boil and add enough salt until the water tastes "as salty as the Mediterranean," which is to say, pretty salty. Cook spaghetti according to instructions. When spaghetti is close to being done, take about half a cup of salty water out and reserve. During that time, heat up the bacon mixture. Drain the pasta and add to the bacon. Toss thoroughly with the pepper and nutmeg and turn off the heat. Add eggs and toss furiously so the eggs turn into a creamy sauce but don't solidify and coagulate. Add about two or three tablespoons of the pasta water and toss thoroughly again to make the mixture creamier. If the mixture is still too thick, add a bit more pasta water. Sprinkle lots of the parmigiano reggiano on top and toss again. Add even more cheese. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm No Expert Either, Paula Deen

Here's another post we came across both linking to our post and with more reaction to the situation.

Again, Paula Deen's response that since labor issues are not her expertise, she won't be "dragged into it," is sad to me.

Somehow, I don't have to be "dragged into" having an opinion reflecting compassion and fairness.

Do you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hollywood East Cafe Again and Again

After long days, last night we headed back to Hollywood East Cafe for another wonderful meal. These folks know how to cook. Time after time we have had delicious food made right and I always look forward to going back.

Shrimp wonton starters were thick and delicious. The wrappers were a bit thicker than I am used to and the shrimp was reminiscent of that found is their tasty haw gaw on the dim sum menu.

Chicken and mushrooms in a rice hot pot. Such an unremarkable sounding dish but a total hit. The ceramic pot arrived smelling deeply of smoke and goodness. Chicken falling off the bone, with a very light sauce over moist rice with plump mushrooms. Everything smoky, everything delicious, everything subtle but flavorful.

Sauteed string beans, something I've had many times at other restaurants were sassy. Thin julienned ginger sticks, garlic, onion, and just enough red pepper and a light sweet soy sauce to really bring the dish together. Cooked but crisp. The salt balanced with the sweet.

Crispy shredded beef is the best I have had. Very lightly floured (rice flour?) a tangy sweet sauce, served hot with a generous portion.

Again, Hollywood East succeeds for me by their restraint. Just enough sauce, just enough heat. Nothing gloopy, nothing pushing it too far. But everything seems so well-considered.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Avoiding Smithfield Meats: Where Do You Shop?

We've had a good amount of questions about the Paula Deen / Smithfield story posted a few days ago. I want to say that I had no beef (haha) with Paula Deen before I looked into this story. My post was activist and I am glad it informed folks, but it was also about being disappointed in someone who keeps missing a huge opportunity to do the right thing and take a stand herself. Someone who we have enjoyed. And yes, as some pointed out, Smithfield is the company that could be making much better choices here. But when you promote the company for money, you have become the company.

That said, I'm not quite ready to go vegetarian again but would like to buy meat from folks who make better choices.

So what do you say? Do you know where to by local meat from sustainable farms? Is it possible to do?

Someone also linked to this article in Rolling Stone that blew me away. Pig pollution to the nth degree.

I guess I'm moving past not wanting to know about my food to wanting to know more.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Trusty's - in desperate need of a deep fat fryer

Can we take up a collection for Trusty's on Capitol Hill? They make some of the best hamburgers in the city but don't have a deep fat fryer so no fries, onion rings, cheese sticks, or wings to go with that. Just potato chips. I don't know about you all, bu potato chips aren't going to do it when I am having the best hamburger in DC. The meat is hand formed and comes from ground beef that tastes like beef. The patties are a perfect size and the beef is so good that I had a double burger, took out one patty, and just ate the patty by itself without the benefit of a bun. Still tasted pretty damn good. But really, a deep fat fryer would pay for itself in one night. How much can a fry daddy cost?

Speaking of fries, we went to Clare and Don's Beach Shack last Friday with our friends the Marrieds. It's a nice fried seafood restaurant with tons of vegetarian options. But the real kicker is the small, crinkle cut fries. J and I love those fries but only if they are small. Luckily, the fries served at Clare and Don's are small, meaning there's a good crisp to potatoey ratio there. It was nice to see them treat their vegetarian dishes with the same care they treated their fish.

Which of these is a can't miss . . .?

A while back, we had an entry with a list of places we've wanted to try. We've checked a few off the list, most notably Guajillo, Locanda, Thai Square and Mark's Duck House (mini-reviews coming).

For our next step, we want to hear from you. If you were going to pick three (okay four) from this list as can't miss spots, what would make the cut?

Bangkok 54
Bebo Trattoria
Bob’s Noodle 66
Colorado Kitchen
Cuba de Ayer
Eat First
El Charrito Caminante
Pollo Campero
Faidley’s (Baltimore)
Farrah Olivia
Hank’s Oyster Bar
Ill Mee Buffet
Joe’s Noodle House
La Sirenita
Mi Rancho
Ray’s The Classics
Ruan Thai
Saigon Café
South Street Steaks
Tabard Inn
Taqueria Distrito Federal
Taqueria Nacionale
Thanh Son Tofu

Monday, March 17, 2008

DC Food blogger potluck

So yesterday, at the very sane time of 5:00 pm, the Food Bloggers of the Washington, DC metro area had their first potluck to show off our skills at cooking and purchasing. The potluck was courtesy of these two ladies and it was held at this gentleman's well appointed group house. I kid you not this group house rocked and I lived in group houses for all of my single life in DC (and one year of my married life). The kitchen was huge with plenty of counter space and a island where the stove was. Eatfoo said that while the layout was perfect, the appliances were hit or miss which led to a great question - would you rather have a well designed kitchen with so-so appliances, or a small kitchen with high quality appliances?

The potluck itself was a total blast. This was an eclectic group, from law students in their 20's and older couples in their 40s. You could easily have a conversation with anyone in the room and the conversation was lively and witty. We talked about blogging but even more about cooking and living in DC. You totally knew it was a foodie room when we were talking about the joys and frustrations of living with roommates and one person said, "And I knew I had to hide my knives when I found my Henckles in the dishwasher." A collective gasp ran through the room as if we were ladies in a small Southern town talking about the Mayor's gay son have an affair with the seminarian. This led to a 20 minute conversation about knives.

And the food? Most excellent. But what would you expect from a Food blogger potluck. I love the sugarcured pork belly serve by our host that was accompanied by a raisin-yoghurt sauce (much better than it sounds), some kind of sugar-salt crumble and the delightful carbonated orange segments. Somehow our host was able to put orange segments in a carbonator (normally used for club soda) and infuse the orange with bubbles. The result was fruit that danced on your tongue. But EVERYTHING was wonderfully made. The menu included two kinds of bread (Irish soda and wheat), an Irish Guiness stew with some of the best beef I've ever tasted, some Italian chicken croquettes, a nicely season Indian potato salad and an Israeli couscous salad, and my contributions - Vietnamese clay pot chicken (the catfish didn't look good at the store) and two kinds of dumplings. Dessert included an amaretto cake, a walnut cake, an old-fashioned vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, and mint brownies. We all ate seconds and thirds and packed up many plates of leftovers.

The over the top element to this happy potluck (as if local beef and sugar cured pork belly wasn't enough) was getting our own mixologist who made up cocktails specially for the gathering. The one with blueberries just rocked!

But don't take my word for it. This person had a good time too!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Paula Deen Resolution: Why We Think You Can Do Better by Smithfield Workers

It is with great disappointment that we have made the decision to no longer watch Paula Deen, a Food Network chef and cookbook author who we have loved for many years. We will no longer be purchasing her magazine or books, sharing stories about her show, or making any statement or observation that could in any way be construed as supporting her continued relationship with and consistent statements in support of Smithfield Foods.

We offer the following blog resolution in support of encouraging Paula Deen to make a better choice about who she works with and why. That she opens what she calls her big heart and educates herself about the historic struggle many workers face to be physically safe at work.

We hope that she turns a critical eye to the situation at the Tar Heel packing plant in North Carolina and that she works to understand the difference between not liking your job or having a hard job where you have complaints, and the challenges faced when you are systematically and consistently facing horrible conditions.

And, finally, we hope that Paula Deen understands that healthy family values are worker-friendly and that corporations have a real opportunity to be and become safe and family-friendly places to work.

So today, we offer the following:

WHEREAS Paula Deen is not only connected to but serves as the public face of Smithfield Foods, a meat packing and processing operation,

WHEREAS Paula Deen has received compensation for her relationship with Smithfield Foods,

WHEREAS numerous sources have documented horrible conditions for workers at the Smithfield Plant (source, source, source)

WHEREAS "the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Somerville and Cambridge all passed resolutions supporting the workers at the Tar Heel Smithfield plant and calling for the removal of products made in the plant from the shelves." (source)

WHEREAS "the city of Chicago has already passed a resolution against Smithfield, insiting the company “cease and desist from the deplorable, immoral and illegal conditions they have inflicted on their workers.” (source)

WHEREAS groups like the United Church of Christ have passed resolutions encouraging members to pay attention to the problems at hand (source),

WHEREAS workers have publicly stated that they have tried to contact Paula Deen and urged her to break ties with Smithfield due to some astounding problems at the plant,

WHEREAS "In February 2005, Human Rights Watch released a report that was the result of a year-long research into operations at three separate processing plants operated by Smithfield Foods plant, Tysons Foods and Nebraska Beef company. The report says workers at the plants are frequently injured, then refused medical care or fired." (Human Rights Watch)

WHEREAS numerous sources have documented Paula Deen's public response:

"It is not my expertise." (source)

When asked directly, "If it is somehow found out down the road that Smithfield is intimidating their workers, would you ever pull your name or not be associated with the company?" Deen responds, "You know, all of us in America who work, we all have some complaints about our work. You know it's called work for a reason. It's not called play so there will always be complaints about our work place. . .I am not the one to solve union issues."

WHEREAS Smithfield has been associated with the following products:

Armour, Butterball, Smithfield Lean Generation Pork Tender 'n Easy, Smithfield Self Basting, Lykes, Sunnyland, Jamestown, Gwaltney, Great, Valleydale, Esskay, Reelfoot, Smithfield Ham & Products and Stadler Country Hams.

WHEREAS Smithfield has been associated with the following affilated companies:

- Animex, S.A. - Warsaw, Poland
- Carolina Turkeys (Subsidiary) - Mount Olive, NC
- Charcuteries Imperator S.A. - Saint Priest, France
- Esskay (Subsidiary) - Riderwood, MD
- Gorges/Quik-To-Fix Foods - Garland, TX
- Gwaltney of Smithfield, Ltd. - Smithfield, VA
- Jean d'Erguet S.A. - Quimper, France
- John Morrell & Co. - Cincinnati, OH
- Lykes Meat Group, Inc. - Plant City, FL
- Moyer Packing Company (Subsidiary) - Souderton, PA
- Murphy Brown - Warsaw, NC
- Murphy Farms LLC (Subsidiary) - Rose Hill, NC
- North Side Foods Corp. (Subsidiary) - New Kensington, PA
- Packerland Packing Co., Inc. - Green Bay, WI
- Packerland Transport Inc. - Green Bay, WI
- Packerland-Plainewell - Plainwell, MI
- Patrick Cudahy Inc. - Cudahy, WI
- RMH Foods - Morton, IL
- Showcase Foods - Philadelphia, PA
- Smithfield Division - Smithfield, VA
- Smithfield Specialty Foods Group (Subsidiary) - Portsmouth, VA
- Societe Bretonne de Salaisons France - Landivisiau, France
- Sun Land Beef Company - Tolleson, AZ
- The Smithfield Packing Co., Inc. - Smithfield, VA
- Valleydale Foods, Inc. (Division) - Salem, VA
- Williamsburg Foods, Inc. - Toano, VA

RESOLVED that we cannot and will not in good conscience support, encourage the support of Paula Deen or Smithfield Foods and their subsidiaries.

RESOLVED that we unequivocally state that Paula Deen may not be responsible for the problems and conditions at the workplaces of any products she endorses, but that she is now part of the very corporation creating said problems and conditions.

RESOLVED that we will continue to speak out against worker abuse and intimidation.

RESOLVED that we stand in solidarity with cities, organizations, and individuals speaking out on this matter.

NOTE: I did write to Paula Deen but did not receive a response.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Top Chef Teaser

Just want to let you know I have high hopes for this season of Top Chef. The down to earth, fun personalities seem to outnumber the annoying personalities. Not only that, Tom Collichio is less high and mighty and the judging seems to be less about trying to rip people apart and more about a thoughtful critique of a dish. Not only that - a lesbian couple! A full recap will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Take That Bay Area! DC food bloggers are doin’ it for themselves!

I’ve read the tales of the joys of the Bay area doing their food blogger potluck and the delights that were enjoyed. Like many other Washingtonians, I’ve always felt a tad inadequate about DC’s food scene. But now with the DC Food Blogger potluck, we are sticking our flag in the sand and saying that we can do a potluck too! So about a month or so ago, Trouble with Toast posted on her blog that she would love to do a food blogger potluck. Culinary Couture came on board to help organize and many bloggers joined the bandwagon. So yes, this weekend we will have the inaugural DC Food blogger potluck with a big chunk of the DC area food blog community represented.

From the looks of things, the menu will reflect DC’s international nature.We’ll make sure to give you a full blow by blow of the potluck, complete with catfights, fierce runway walks, and stolen granola bars. We at DCfoodblog will be making vegetarian and shrimp potstickers along with Vietnamese caramel fish and sticky rice cooked in a traditional Laotian basket. I hope our food can hold up to what will be a high standard of cooking. I definitely think we'll give those Bay Area foodies a run for their money. -T

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bruno and Austin

In January, my dear friend Lady Lancaster gave birth to twins, turning her family of three into a family of five. Holy cats, that's a huge change. It was a difficult pregnancy for Lady Lancaster (and really for the whole Lancaster family) as she was on strict bedrest for three months. The one ray of light was that I got to spend a lot of hanging out time with my oldest friend. I would stop by the hospital and spend hours talking about Tyra Banks, the Presidential Race, and our respective life paths. It was a great gift for me to be able to spend so much time with my dear friend just talking.

As Lady Lancaster is among the more social and active people I know, she was more than happy to give birth and subsequently be allowed to walk around. Being premature twins, Bruno and Austin were in the hospital for a good six weeks. Because of my crazy work schedule I wasn't able to see the twins until a few weeks ago, when they finally came home. Like I did with their older brother, I totally fell in love with the two babies. I totally don't get people who are bored by newborns. I adore newborns. While it's true newborns eat, poop, and sleep, holding a newborn means that your entire world is a soft, bundle of snuggliness.

What's amazing is that Bruno and Austin love to be held. They totally love having someone hold them close. There's something so profound about being able to be the entire world for another person. When you put them down they'll fuss and whimper a bit. But when you pick them up, they turn their head to get close to you and close their eyes and use their tiny little hands to grab you and pull you in. Seriously folks, there's no better feeling than a little baby snuggling next to you. It's like aromatherapy.

Thanks for being born you two. I hope my kids will be a nice as you.

Monday, March 03, 2008

For the sister - Tortilla Soup

When my sister and her boyfriend came to visit us a few months ago, I decided to greet them with a warm bowl of Tortilla Soup. Tortilla soup is one of the most interesting things I make because the corn tortillas give the soup a unique texture and a warm corn flavor. This is based on the Barefoot Contessa recipe but I added a few more Mexican touches of my own.

Tortilla Soup

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
2 poblano peppers chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin

1 can of pureed or diced tomatoes
1 cup of corn (frozen or canned)

6 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of pre-cooked chicken, shredded (what I do is buy whole chicken breasts, sear them on both sides and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes)
8 corn tortillas sliced in 1-inch slices

Throw the first set of ingredients into a large pot and saute until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the next two ingredients and saute another 10 minutes. Add the last set of ingredients, bring the whole thing to a boil and then quickly lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tortillas have completely disintegrated. Serve with avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Chinese New Year: Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard

In a totally spur of the moment thing, our friend Pauline proposed getting together for a Chinese New Year's activity. This is the year of the rat, the year that Pauline, J and I were born. Hopefully that means something lucky will happen this year. Actually the meal in itself was lucky. A perfect Lunar New Year banquet with lion dancers, food, and red envelopes.

So the Saturday of Chinese New Year week, six of us decided to go to Hollywood East (which I lobbied hard for) to do a white elephant red envelope exchange. We've said how much we adore Hollywood East in Wheaton. Their dim sum is totally the best in the city and their dinner menu keeps up the quality. With the exception of the mayonnaise-laden honey walnut shrimp, every dish is well flavored without being overly sweet and syrupy. The service is friendly (if a bit slow). Surprisingly (especially during dim sum), there isn't a huge wait.

In a bit of luck, Hollywood East was having Lunar New Year's entertainment that night as well. In a happy bit of luck, we came in on the tail end of the lion dance. We waited in the vestibule and got to see the dance without having it disrupt our meal. As a nice touch, the lion dancers did a little dance on the street for those folks who were just arriving.

We started off with tea and the gift exchange. J and I gave lottery tickets (as they could fit in a red envelope). Our friend L also gave lottery tickets but her boyfriend J 2.0 put together a gourmet Chinese take out box with little chocolates and goodies from World Market. J 2.0 is so Martha! Rootbeer gave a gift card from Whole Foods and Pauline gave a rather naughty red envelope stuffer. Going all out, Pauline gave us all little Asian ceramic cats from the Sackler gallery gift shop. They are kind of the precursor to Hello Kitty.

And then the eating began. We ordered four appetizers - won tons, har gow, shu mai, and potstickers. While the won tons were very crab rangoonish, the dim sum style dumplings were their usual high quality. One thing about the shrimp dumplings is that they don't puree their shrimp until it becomes a paste, the taste and texture of chunks of shrimp in the shrimp filling is a really thoughtful and delicious touch.

And then came the entrees. Each of us ordered one and the dishes came from the land, sea, and air. All were wonderful. The surprise of the evening was the seafood pan fried noodle. It came out looking a bit disappointing. The array of shrimp, fish, and squid with vegetables over rice stick noodles with a clear sauce. It looked like boring city but the dish actually had a lot of flavor and the sauce was neither tasteless nor overpowering. The standouts in our six-entree meal were the crispy beef, a wonderfully light take on a General Tso's beef with a lovely sauce that didn't have a speck on cornstarch (YAY!), and the chicken with garlic sauce, a New Year's special that was spicy and earthy at the same time.

I can never come to Holly East for dinner without ordering the steamed ling fish. I discovered this dish when I took my parents and my cousins Amanda and Madeleine to Hollywood East. Both Amanda and Madeleine are foodies in their own right and Amanda asked for whole rockfish with ginger and scallions (a dish they don't have). Our server suggested the ling fish and it was a perfect choice. The ling fish is moist and tender with a very seabass texture. It was cooked with the lightest of touches, steamed with ginger, scallions, and garlic with a hint of sesame oil and soy. The flavors were subtle but profound.

And the bill with six dishes, hot tea, and four appetizers came out to $21 INCLUDING tip. It was a night of much joy and a bit of luck!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Books and Crackers: A New Blog

Hello friends,

Have a look at my friend's new blog, Books and Crackers. If you read books and like crackers this is the place for you.

If you don't read, I'm wondering how you are following along here.

Crackers? Well, that's another story.

As for me, my favorite crackers come from Cheesetique in Del Ray. Peppery and yummy. I'll need to get some more to give you the name.

Xanadu Interlude

While we work on the next post, I thought you might want some Xana . . .du.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Obama/Clinton Struggle: Thanks

Thanks for the emails about the Obama/Clinton post. We love having this be a food blog, but sometimes it is something different. To the Clinton folks who emailed with supportive comments, that is so cool. I get that we ended up in different places, but the dialogue has been civil and mutually supportive. Not that any of us require that, but I enjoy it. We're taking the White House and building a Democratic spine at the same time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Complicated Road A Vote and a Note for Obama

After an incredible amount of thinking, research, conversation and fret, I cast my vote for Obama today. I sank inside a bit.

My hope was less audacious than I would have liked. I voted for a man who gave a speaking opportunity to someone who thinks a part of me that I love and cherish is something to be healed. That man, Donnie McClurkin, globalized his homophobia and now preaches that we all have the opportunity he thinks he took, to be delivered from homosexuality.

And I listen to Obama, who said he does not agree with McClurkin, speak of hope. Speak eloquently of hope, and I cannot help but feel used to gain votes from more conservative Southerners.

Senator Obama, I want to be cheering and excited and on the wagon. I want to be behind this candidacy full on. I have some time on my hands due to a job change. I want to volunteer and engage and shake hands, and use my considerable skills to help bring change to this country.

And I'm struggling terribly with it.

And for the record, Mr. McClurkin, I don't want to be delivered from my relationship of 9 years that is full of a more Audacious Hope than Barack Obama could possibly speak of while he allows you his pulpit to throw me under the bus.

McClurkin's message creates silence, self-loathing, and encourages anxiety, fear, and hatred. That silence keeps people in the closet, slows access to information about sexuality that young men and women need. And I expect better from Obama, from my leaders, and better from any Democrat so boldly proclaiming he will bring us together.

And to explain it as dialogue with those who are different? Try that with the known racist, the known woman-hater. I still feel completely thrown under the bus. It makes me doubt Obama's commitment to unity. It makes me question the audacity of his hope, his political courage.

It makes me feel like his foot is crushing my neck while he stands on the stage. And I can't be part of the celebration of all these wonderful ideas when you say my marriage is not worthy, that listening to others opinions is a good idea here.

Speaking in front of other audiences and disavowing hatred against gays is great, but handing the haters the microphone is deplorable.

Toni Morrison speaks of Obama as “someone whose moral center [is] un-embargoed.” Really? When you dance with McClurkin in the name of educating people about the other side, I would say this is a significant embargo on your moral center.

It’s hurtful to Americans and Obama should apologize for having McClurkin on the microphone and should do so while having his picture taken with Gavin Newsom.

To be fair:

I think I would have sunk inside if I voted for Clinton as well. Someone who, like Obama takes the position that my marriage is unequal to hers. Someone well acquainted with struggles for dignity and humanity but who would only repeal part of the Defense of Marriage Act (Obama, as a plus, would repeal it all).

Someone who voted for a war so many of us knew was preemptive, wrongheaded, and full of opportunities for greed and a misuse of patriotism, a great misuse of our resources and our military.

It is not about finding the perfect candidate. My struggle is with supporting people who deny my humanity. Who say I am less worthy than they are. Who use policy and political tactics to separate me from others. And one who made war possible when we need peace. I hate it.

Obama and Clinton should be grateful that I can still remind myself that my party offers the best opportunities for women, for people of color, for education, for gays and lesbians, and for a healthy economy.

We are more likely to get our soldiers out of Iraq, to sensibly reform and fund No Child Left Behind, and to invest in a green economy. We may very well offer the best opportunity to save Darfur, to encourage peace, and to create opportunities for Fair Trade. To insure the uninsured, to fix our crumbling infrastructure, and to install Supreme Court Justices who are wise and invested in our civil rights and liberties.

I can't help but think I had to make a tough decision today while, at the same time, being excited about the end of the Bush reign.

Even Republicans are understanding what an incredible failure this man has been. Our country, and yes, even Republicans, can do so much better.

For me, a classic undecided Dem for weeks, the decision to vote for Obama came down to a few key factors:

1. We need the strongest contrast to McCain's hawkishness on the war. I reject the thought that Obama is some peace savior here. He has been voting for continuing the war funding and could have been more courageous in his votes. But Hillary Clinton trusted the wrong guy. This is where a healthy partisanship might have helped. Block anything that could come close to authorizing force. Obama looks better against McCain and that matters.

2. I think she would be more effective at ending the war, at patching things up abroad, and getting the right people in place to re-imagine diplomacy. But, I think it is a real roll of the dice to say she can win against McCain. I trust that the people surrounding Obama will work with him to make good choices. I hope she is one of those people.

3. The mobilized, grassroots operation that Obama has is working and reflects Dean's 50 state strategy. An energized electorate matters and Democrats are coming in with record turnouts.

4. The downline Democratic candidates around the country need to ride in on something. The freshness of someone less known but popular will help Democrats in red states in a way that I do not think Hillary Clinton could. She is too known, overexposed, too discussed.

Here is a bit of my thinking before I cast my vote. I take notes on such things:

Neither candidate is a slam-dunk for me.

I will support the Democratic candidate in the general.

I am more interested in what someone says they will do and how they will do it than big ideas writ large.

I believe the country is partisan and divided and that common ground can be useful provided we are not finding it at the expense of the poor and the disenfranchised. Similarly, I think our candidate should be a Democrat first, rest assured their candidate will be a Republican and rushing to the middle ground will not be high on their agenda.

I believe corporate interests have too much power and control and that this has diluted the influence of citizens.

I believe the war in Iraq was wrong and that anyone who knew Bush should have known that. We invaded a country that has nothing to do with 9/11 and spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives and I'm sickened by the thought that anyone could think Bush was going to do this on the up and up.

I do not believe all opinions are equal. I can respect a difference, while taking a stand. But that does not mean I favor consensus, especially when it relates to dignity and equal opportunity and the horrific ways the right has demonized gays, women, and others. When Obama consistently talks about uniting the country and even says he respects the views of those who feel differently than he does on gay rights, I am angered. When he says he wants to end the partisan bickering in Washington, I want to know what he will say when the right goes after a woman's right to choose, fails to sign Kyoto, creates insane corporate loopholes, devises anti-child legislation that is harmful to education, and more. We bickered over FEMA royally screwing New Orleans. We bickered over parental notification. Many Democrats bickered over Iraq. I want to hear that you will fight.

I don’t believe Clinton has cornered the market on being a target of right wing propaganda and intense, distracting media-absorbing insanity. These people are working on Obama already. I’m certainly not going to let these tools of distraction have anything to do with my vote, but I think it is naive to say Clinton would be more of a distraction.

I’m a Democrat, a liberal, and I believe in progressive values.

I believe Hillary Clinton is sharper on policy, more issue-focused, incredibly intelligent, and astoundingly capable. I respect her experience and dedication fighting for children and families. I am grateful for her initial attempt to take on health care reform and think the current campaign would not be featuring this very important issue had it not been for Clinton taking some major hits during the Bill Clinton years. I respect her knowledge and foreign policy experience.

I believe Barack Obama is more tested than people give him credit for and less verbal about his policy knowledge than many of us would like. I think he is incredibly intelligent, a savvy campaigner, and an inspiring force. I believe he has surrounded himself with more progressive advisors. I think he will bring new people into the government and that we need that. I am excited that we have someone running with a community organizing background. No Republican has been out there trying to help working families and Obama's work here is inspiring.

Hillary’s likability is irrelevant to me. Too often, it has seemed like people throw the likability statement around with little reason. I am certain that some do feel that they do not like her, but for me, it’s not an issue. I will not be having beer with the President any time soon. I will not be going to dinner with them. And I absolutely do not need the President to be like me. I think our leaders need to be well read, incredibly policy-savvy, with a detailed and critical understanding of history and how policy decisions have made a difference in the world and at home. I believe Hillary Clinton is all of those things and yes, I think I would actually like her quite a bit.

Race and Gender Matter

Race and gender matter. They matter to me. I have to be honest, that I want to see young black and biracial men see someone leading the country who looks like them. I want the racist woman whose story I recently heard to look up and see a person of color whose name sounds different than hers, as the leader of the free world.

And I want to see young girls know that despite the sexism and misogyny of much of the world and much of the country, they too can achieve visible and acknowledged power and agency. I want boys and men to see a bold and loud testimony that women are powerful, courageous, and wise.

I refuse to choose on this regard, but it matters. I am also grateful to be connected to a party that has put forward two candidates who have some understanding of outsider status.

To not be in the majority, to not look like those with most of the power to be connected to the disenfranchised matters. And for the misogynist, the racist, the hater, I hope whoever is elected sends a message to them as well. "I will achieve in spite of the laws you put on my body and I will change them. I will achieve in spite of your prejudice and hatred that would keep me bound, in prison, in fear and I will make important changes to make a better world, even for you."

Next Steps

I hope to catch the Obama fever for the general. I care about what happens to this country and am against McCain's war stance and so many of his policies.

I hope to feel Obama's foot lift off the backs of gays and lesbians and that he will find a clear way to support us as equals. His record points in that direction, I hope his actions will from this point forward.

Next stop: Chinese New Year!

We're not irrelevant

During the New Hampshire primary, I totally pissed off a friend of mine who is an Obama supporter by supporting Hillary for that primary. The reason wasn't who I personally would vote for, it was because I didn't want a coronation that would leave the Potomac Primary irrelevant. And guess what? We're so relevant? The nomination race is a true blue horse race and I am so happy to be important. It's so nice to have candidates come to my state, air cheesy commercials, and kiss my ass. Our two states and the District of Columbia matter. Three areas that encompass urban and rural, that have significant Latino, Black and Asian American populations, and cover the South and the mid-Atlantic get our votes counted. It'll all go away in the general election, but let's enjoy our moment in the sun.

This came from dailykos:

This post was inspired by a comment I read earlier yesterday, which I can't find now, so apologies for the unsourced inspiration.

One of the hilarious side-effects of every Obama victory is the spin from Clinton quarters and its surrogates and supporters explaining why said victories "don't matter".

Iowa didn't matter because it was a caucus state, and it's undemocratic. Same goes for every other caucus state including Maine. The only caucus state that mattered was Nevada.

Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alaska, and Utah don't matter because they're small Red states that Democrats won't carry in November.

Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana don't matter because they have black people. Expect the same spin out of DC this Tuesday. Black people don't apparently count.

Washington and Minnesota don't matter because they have educated white people.

In any case, Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana didn't matter on Saturday because everyone expected Obama to win them anyway.

Virginia and Maryland, assuming they're won by Obama, will be a combination of the "black people" and "educated people" rationalizations. Throw a little of "Obama was expected to win anyway", and you've got the trifecta.

Illinois doesn't matter because that's Obama's home state. Expect the same spin when Obama wins Hawaii by double-digit margins in two weeks.

Missouri doesn't matter because Clinton sent out a press release claiming she won it.

Colorado was a caucus state, so that leaves Delaware and Connecticut. Those are the only two states that apparently matter, giving Hillary Clinton a commanding 10-2 lead among states that matter.

One final line of attack used to minimize Obama's victories is the notion that "he can't win states without his base", his base of course being African Americans, white yuppies, and Red state Democrats. Yet the corollary of that is what? That Hillary can't win states that

1.) she hasn't lived in recently (New York and Arkansas),

2.) aren't next to states she has lived in (Tennessee, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma),

3.) don't share a media market with states she has lived in (New Hampshire), or

4.) are outside the Southwest with its large Latino population (California, which she won with the strength of her SoCal vote, Arizona, Nevada and probably New Mexico).

Pretty silly game, huh?

Incidentally, if these stupid generalizations were to actually hold true the rest of this primary, the states would fall like this:

Clinton: Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania.

Obama: Virginia, DC, Maryland, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Mississippi, Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota.

Neither: Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky

But that's not what the final tally will look like.

p.s. Interestingly enough, other than New Mexico, the only other razor-thin contest thus far was Missouri -- a state which borders both Illinois and Arkansas. So in the battle of "neighboring state contest", Obama won, but only by a hair, and only because the Illinois-Missouri border is longer than the Arkansas-Missouri one.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

First Taste of Rajaji: Indian in Woodley Park

Rajaji Indian Curry House
2603 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington 20008
Phone: 202-265-7344

Last week, we were looking for a nice meal near Woodley Park and were interested in trying something new. After looking around the net, I discovered Rajaji, one of three Indian restaurants across from the Woodley Park Metro on Connecticut Ave NW.

So we headed over around 6:30 on a Thursday night. The room was almost empty. I was not expecting a large crowd at 6:30 on a Thursday, but the lack of customers worried me a bit.

Turns out, there was not much to worry about at all. All three of us enjoyed our meals. Mine was exceptional as was our friend's. T's was good, not great.

We started with the combination appetizer platter which consisted of two samosas, chicken croquettes, botti kabab (lamb pieces), chicken tikka & 2 pakoras. These were just what you want from an Indian meal. Served warm with a good level of spice for each of us (we are medium-spice people, though T tolerates hot quite well). The lamb was succulent and aromatic. Pakoras were not too greasy as sometimes happens, and samosas had a nice filling-to-crust ratio.

T enjoyed his vegetarian platter, which started with a salad, then aloo gobi, palak paneer, vegetable kofta, aloo matar, rice, raita, mango chutney, puri and gulab jamun. Again, T felt this was good. Good enough to go back and good enough to be our go-to place in Woodley Park.

Ms. Stitch was very pleased with the Keema Matar, sauteéd minced lamb, cooked with peas and a delicious sauce. I'm not sure I can even describe it. Definitely some garam masala, garlic, and maybe some cumin and or cilantro. I loved my taste of this and will definitely order it next time we go.

But I was also quite pleased with my dish, the Lamb Doh-Peeazah, lamb with tomato and onion cooked until the flavors were quite harmonious. Delicious and Doh-pleasing!

Gulab jamun, (what my high school friends called "Honeyballs") was less successful, mostly due to being cold in the center. But that did not detract from an otherwise delicious meal.

Oh, and get the cardamom tea. It really hit the spot on a cold night!

Off topic - A post that blows away all credibility

Last night I went with my friend writergirl to see High School Musical, the Tour, playing at the National Theater. J was able to score us some free tickets so we were so there. Boy was it a cultural experience. I felt old as the hills as there were gaggles of preteens and their parents who looked MY AGE! It was less a night at the theater and more like a Hannah Montana concert. Complete with audience clapping, streamers, and screams of "I love you" to certain characters. Sadly I have seen both High School Musical and its sequel. Multiple times.

As I am one of 10 people over the age of 25 who can claim an encyclopedic knowledge of High School Musical, I offer to you a comparison of the TV version and the stage version.

Ways the Stage Version is Better than the TV Version

1. Kelsi actually has a good excuse for running into people and dropping her music - new glasses.

2. Troy actually looks like an athlete and not a member of a boy band.


4. Sharpay actually has a decent excuse for being such a beeoytch - she's really insecure.

5. The row of 15 year olds behind us doing group cheers.

6. The synchronized clapping of the audience. Yes, I totally clapped along.

7. The random shout-outs to other Disney movies.

8. The prominence of pop and lock girl. (if this befuddles you, then you need to see the movie).

Ways the Stage Version is Worse than the TV Version

1. The sucky sucky sound system where you could barely hear the vocalists.

2. The fact that Kelsi didn't get her makeover where she wears an one should top and shakes out her fabulous hair.

3. They turned both power ballads into peppy group numbers.

4. The stage show didn't include Gabrielle's control freak mother.

5. The compressed timeframe where there were fewer scenes with Troy and Gabrielle rehearsing.

Apparently it's all gyoza all the time

So yes I love me some gyoza. It was your typical weeknight where neither of us could figure out what we wanted to have for dinner. One thing we kept on coming back to was some crab we picked up at Trader Joe's. I highly recommend getting the Trader Joe's crab because it's like half the price of what you get in the regular grocery store. So yes we tried to think of a good use for the crab. Crab and pasta? Crab salad? Nothing was really popping out at us until I saw the gyoza skins and decided to make crab potstickers. Very good decision. They turned out perfectly. We were both worried about how much liquid the filling was giving off but the filling ended up handing together quite well. Here's what we did.

Finely mince

1 tablespoon of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
2 jalepeno peppers (deseeded)
1/2 a medium onion
1/4 of a red bell pepper (or two or three red chilies)

I just throw the whole mess in a food processor myself. Then in a tablespoon of oil, cook the whole mixture until the liquid has evarporated and the mush is tender. Let cool and add that to and mixture of:

1 1/2 cups of crabmeat
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
1 egg

Mix thoroughly. Put a scant tablespoon of the mixture onto the gyoza, brush one side with an egg wash and seal. In a nonstick skillet, pan fry the potstickers in enough oil to coat the skillet. Flip them over, and let them fry another minute and the add 1/4 cup of water and cover. Let the mixture cook under low heat for about 5 minutes. And then you have crab potstickers!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Slow Cook: A Blog Worth Reading

There are so many great food information sites out there, but I am especially enjoying reading The Slow Cook. If anything, joining our CSA this year helped us be more thoughtful about our food and food choices. The Slow Cook takes that to what I think is a quite visionary and dedicated place.

Where and how we get our food matters and how we plan to do something about the food challenges confronting our society and economy matter as well.

I for one have refused to shop Nike, Wal-Mart, Disney, and others for many years because of ongoing policies and practices I disagree with. I think it's useful to think about our food as well. I was astounded to recently learn that Paula Deen from the Food Network is shilling for Smithfield, a meat plant increasingly notorious for highly problematic labor practices.

I think there are some intriguing lessons and ideas, policy updates and more over at The Slow Cook and I will definitely be reading consistently.

I also look forward to highlighting blogs like this and organizations like those in the nonprofits section over on the right.

The most recent entry
details some of the horrible practices at Westland Meats, a major supplier of beef to our public schools. The US Department of Agriculture has weighed in as have the Humane Society and the Washington Post.

The entry also details the promotion of junk food in the Montgomery County Schools, and has a great link to one of my favorite stories about a high school student who doe s what it takes to open his town's only grocery store.

I should also mention that The Slow Cook also frequently has entries about cooking with kids and teaching kids about food. Love this!

Powerful stuff people, I hope readers of DC Food Blog check it out.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Food Crush: Mary Alice from Ace of Cakes

Top Ten Reasons Why We Rock the Mary Alice Love

Besides the fact that her name is comprised of trochees, we celebrate the following:

1. Mary Alice redirects Duff, but does not thwart him. She's not a thwarter, she's a supporter.

2. Mary Alice rocks the bangs and the Madonna microphone-headset with a sassy elegance. She's in control and witty and does not appear to have succumbed to the BlueTooth robo gadget blue light special ear contraption that must be quite tempting, especially when she has complete access to the tools to make one that is partially edible.

3. Some people call her quirky. We call her awesome. It's a better word and "quirky" gets overused by people hinting that someone is just too weird or off for them. Mary Alice is just fine the way she is so don't get it twisted.

4. She says "rad" in a way that just does not bother me. At all. (I know!)

5. Mary Alice is the absolute totally awesome Queen of the superlatives and she's superduper triple excellent at using them.

6. She bested Gabrielle Union in a Patron Saint contest. And Gabrielle Union was in Bring it On and is now on Ugly Betty. I believe she should win a World Wrestling Federation belt made out of golden pierogies for such an honor.

7. She's pro-cake. A Cakevocate. We like cake a lot and she facilitates cake making. Maybe her title could become Chief Faciliicaker and she could wear our Gilded Pierogie Championship Belt of Awesomeness.

8. She has a picture of Tagalongs on her Charm City Cakes blog. 2 years ago, I wrote about the Tagalong/Tagalog/Hoedown perplexities in my entry about my time as a male girl scout. I appreciate any version and appreciate the support in my national effort to have peanutbutter goodness overtake Thin Mint superiority.

The best cookies, hands down were called "Hoedowns." Peanut butter on a cookie, covered in chocolate. Here they are called "Tagalongs," but of course I always accidentally see or speak the word as "Tagalogs." Maybe someday they will come out with a Filipina cookie and they can call it that?

9. Mary Alice is friends with the pun. The mind of a writer and the wit of a really funny writer. We're going to do more pun posts like our Dirty Dancing Chimichangas.

10. It really looks like she is part of a team. A team that works hard but has fun. Fun that is creative and silly. And silly with a clipboard is kind of hot.

Here's to Mary Alice for being our Food Crush of the Month! And to the Charm City Cakes team for being quite rad.

p.s. The "pun" link above is to Christina Aguilera playing Samantha from Sex and the City in an SNL skit. Puntastic and she does an incredible job.

p.p.s. Things we like that we think Mary Alice would also like: Flo Anito, Carol Channing, Elastica, Pasta Plus, Our Tie-Dyed Aqua Fresh Marshmallows, Nibblefest 2007, Laurie Notaro, The Lynda Barry Experience.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

25 Recipe Blogs in One Search: The List

Here is the list of the sites I've included in the Mega Recipe Search. Regular updates and an emphasis on recipes were the criteria. Is your blog missing? Maybe in the wrong place? Let us know in the comments!

We're getting lots of hits here. Hopefully people are finding some great recipes!

Next up, the full list of who is in the search of the DC area food blogs.


101 Cookbooks
80 Breakfasts
Accidental Hedonist
Apartment Therapy
Becks and Posh
Chocolate and Zucchini
Coconut and Lime
Cook Almost Anything
DC Food Blog
Desert Candy
Dorie Greenspan
Eat With Me
Humble Pie
Matt Bites
Milk and Cookies
Other People's Food
Serious Eats
Simply Recipes
Smitten Kitchen
Thai Table
Traveler's Lunchbox
Veronica's Test Kitchen
Wicked Good Dinner
You Gonna Eat All That?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

There's shortcuts and there's shortcuts

I hate to sound blasphemous but Nigella Express really irritates me. I watch it week after week hoping it will get better and it just gets more annoying. In the grand scheme of what's on the Food Network, it's clearly more satisfying and entertaining that most of what's out there. However, I am grading on a curve here and I am comparing Nigella Express to the divine Nigella Bites, the fabulous Forever Summer, and even the decent and not annoying, Nigella Feasts.

It seems the Nigella overall demeanor and the demeanor of her guests has a rehearsed quality to it. While the dinner scene don't do that forced gushing about the food that Barefoot Contessa is notorious for. The way they talk seem a lot less natural and spontaneous than in her previous series. I also compare that to Jaime Oliver's new show where his delivery just seems a a little messier and therefore a lot more natural. He'll be like "the pepper is the friend of the garlic while the basil is best friends to them all" and somehow it doesn't come off as twee in the least. I think it does help that whoever styles him goes for a deliberately tousled look. When I compare the two shows, a sheen of perfection has settle on Nigella Express while Jaime at Home has an enthusiastic spontaneous energy. And the thing is, some of the stuff he does do, like throwing vegetable scraps directly from his outdoor table into a flower bed, would be really annoying if it didn't seem like Jaime did that sort of thing all the time.

The previous shows were built on a reliable premise - Nigella likes to cook. She may not always have time to cook (i.e. the TV Dinners episode of Nigella Bites) but she doesn't see cooking as this horrible chore. The thing that seems to be missing in Express is that cooking is enjoyable. There are times you really want to just make something that takes all afternoon. At least I do. Sure she took some shortcuts (using boullion cubes and frozen peas), but they weren't shortcuts that compromised the flavor of the dishes and they weren't being used to avoid cooking. however on Nigella Express, she liberally uses bottled lime juice and seriously that stuff has nothing to do with what you squeeze out of the fruit. It's sad because Nigella has been a voice of intelligence, balancing the utter insanity of Martha Stewart perfectionism with the complete the Sandra Lee levels of expediency. I am sad that she's leaning towards the Sandra Lee side of things.

One shortcut I am very happy to use is gyoza skins as ravioli. Ever since New Year's when I made dumplings with round gyoza skins, I have been dying to use them as ravioli. Two Saturdays ago, I went on a riot of cooking, got some peeled, chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe's and made butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce. It's probably one of the most successful dish I have ever made. The ravioli froze beautifully and tasted sublime. Here's what I did:

Butternut squash ravioli
1 package of round gyoza skins (these are round and slightly thicker than won ton skins)
1 package of peeled and chopped butternut squash
1/4 cup of dried breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons butter

Roast the squash in the oven for half and hour at 425 degrees. Let cool. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a food processor. Add the squash and puree until smooth but not baby food. Put about a tablespoon of the filling onto the gyoza and brush half of the gyoza with the beaten egg. Seal and press out any air. Repeat. A lot. If not using immediately, freeze on a cookie sheet and then put the frozen ravioli in a ziplock bag.

To serve, boil in salt water until they float to the surface. Cook butter until browned. You can add toasted chopped walnuts or a few sage leaves to the butter. Toss the butter and ravioli together and top with shaved parmesan.

I've done the dumpling route. I've done the butternut squash route. What else can I fill these gyoza skins with?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Who's In The Searches, Coming Soon

Hi everyone, thanks for coming by! We're excited about these custom searches and have heard from several folks wondering which sites are included. Check back soon. We'll put up a list and see if we've left anyone out.

Our goal was to pull together blogs that are consistently being updated (within reason) . I'm sure there are some great ones we are missing, but from the looks of it, people are having a very good time with the Mega DC Food Blog Search. Less so on the recipe search, so we're moving that up the page. I've been having a blast with that one!

And yes, more pictures too!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Before the Time of Fancy Marshmallow Cream"

Now and then, I come across some of my grandmother's writings. These are often discovered in the margins of books, sometimes right over the text. She was a prolific writer and cook. In Mary Blake's Carnation Cookbook from 1948 she writes:

December 1994-Sorting out my cookbooks- will sell in April, 1995. My goodness. Remember the first sale at the new house when we brought all the leftovers from two sales at the old? A woman from the new street stole many of my cookbooks- walked right off with them.

As I touched these cookbooks
they are spread all over the house
I'm trying to rid the ones away
or should I say like a baby
from a mother's breast

I remember
certain days
cold outside
wind blowing
as I was cooking

Autumn moods, put
in my stomach,
May sadness - yet again

Could it be I was overjoyed
for it might have been Spring
-time to turn the soil over-
I can raise my kitchen window letting
it announce its presence to me

My man is in sight
I am watching him digging
stopping to shake out
clods of dirt
remaining stubborn

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Palomarvelous: Domaso Trattoria

Domaso (at the Hotel Palomar)

What a lovely meal. Our recent trip to Domaso was wonderful. Specialty cocktails were $8-12 and each was a hit. I was partial to the vanilla bellini.

The room is quiet and elegant. It was very comfortable.

Bread was delicious. Rosemary breadsticks and some soft focaccia. Both were served warm.

Appetizers included sausage stuffed fried olives. A somewhat too-small portion, but delicious and satisfying and a prosciutto di tonno which was unique to me and perhaps my favorite dish of the night. This was prosciutto made of tuna with fennel and orange. Total harmony of texture and flavor on the plate. It has a saba* dressing that was applied with a light touch. I may go back and just have a double portion of this as my meal. Fabulous.

I then had the ravioletti, red snapper ravioli with shrimp, clams, mussels and a tomato and white wine sauce. Again, a lot of balance and harmony as the sea met the pasta and the sauce brought it all together. It had a saltiness to it that some may not like as much as I did, but the flavor was incredible. Fresh and simple and well-portioned.

Others enjoyed spaghettini, and tortelloni and a few other appetizer dishes.

A trio of sorbets was dessert for me and they were expert. Others at the table had a trio of small krafen (Italian doughnuts) which were good, but cream-filled versions were more successful than a Concorde grape.

I tend to not be so worried about service, but service was very attentive.

Don't forget to look at the bar menu-- both for drinks and for a few more small plates.

I will definitely go back and think this is a very nice addition to the DC dining scene.

*Saba was new to me. It's a sweet cooked grape syrup that resembles balsamic vinegar.

See what others are saying about Domaso by using the new blog search on the right. Click here to read what the search turns up for Domaso.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Loafin' around

For a long time, J didn't like meatloaf. I made a vegetarian version with Gimme Lean log o' meat and I converted J back to the dark side. The great thing about meatloaf is that it is a clear-out-your-fridge dish that is fairly forgiving. The key pieces that make meatloaf, meatloaf are: the meat (obviously), breadcrumbs, eggs, Worchestershire sauce. from there you can go the Italian route (grated parmesan, basil, etc), southwest (jalepeno, cilantro, cumin) or even Asian (shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, spring onions).

So last Thursday we had a bunch of stuff lying around - ground chicken, Mexican chorizo, sun dried tomatoes, and bacon. All of it went into a satisfying meatloaf. Along with the meatloaf, we threw some sweet potatoes in the oven and it made for a nice winter meal. The sweet potatoes only needed a bit of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Here's what we did with our Thursday night meatloaf:

1 lb of ground chicken
2 links of Mexican chorizo
1 egg
1/4 cup of dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
12 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce (we used JT Pappy Florida Gator Sauce)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
5 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
6 slices of bacon

Throw everything except for the bacon and ketchup into a bowl and mix well with your hands (seriously it's the only way to do it). In a greased pan, form the meat mixture into a nice loaf shape. Lay the raw slices of bacon on the loaf lengthwise and then smear the ketchup all over the top of the bacon covered meatloaf. Bake at 375 degrees in the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Slice and enjoy.

Leftovers make great meatloaf sandwiches.

Monday, January 21, 2008

DCFB announces New Searches of Recipe Blogs

So we have two cool new searches. The first is for DC food blogs and shold be great for learning about local restaurants, reviews, etc. The new one (just before the recipe site links section) is for recipe blogs. It does not search huge sites like Epicurious, Food Network, or Chowhound's Home Cooking. But it should be a cool way to see what people are cooking at home and sharing with the world!



Saturday, January 19, 2008

Search Many DC Food Blogs at Once: The Makeover Entry

DCFoodBlog has a brand new look and all sorts of fun happening. We've had the same look since 2004 and were ready for something fresh! So what's new?

-We created an awesome Mega Search that you can use to find information about restaurants, neighborhoods, and more. When you use the Mega Search over on the right, Google will pull entries from 21 local food blogs. It does not include the local media and larger discussion sites, but we hope this is a fun way to explore blogs and DC food.

-We finally got around to adding links to all the great sites that have been recommended and sent to us! This includes links to all the sites in the Mega Search as well as those that were sent to us as site nominations.

-We added a new section on DC food-related nonprofits. If you are looking for a great place to invest time, energy, and money, each of these is a worthy cause.

-We added a new header photo. This is a beet shooter from a visit to Latino Dim Sum at Cafe Atlantico. J is planning on doing more food photography this year and you'll see it in the template and in the posts.

-We divided the sections up a bit more. DC's food media and the larger message boards have a section of their own, recipe sites have a section as well, and we'll be developing the section on Great Food Links and Blogs that are not in DC and are not focused just on recipe. (Explore Shuna Fish Lydon's site for some mighty fine writing and thinking).

-Last, we've temporarily removed the recipe and restaurant index. It will be back, but is deserving of some TLC.

Here's to 2008! We're excited to write, read, cook, dine, and chow down with everyone.

More to come . . .! -J

Friday, January 18, 2008

5 years married!

On January 18, 2003, J and I made our vows to share out lives together. Here's the lyrics to a song we walked into the ceremony.

I Adore You

If I adore you
it is because you are
my love my accomplice and everything
and in the street arm in arm
we are much more that two

Your hands are my caress
my agreed daily affirmation
I adore you because your hands
Work by justice

Your eyes are my spell
Against the bad day
I love you by your glance
that it watches and it sees future

Your mouth that is yours and mine
your mouth is not mistaken
I adore you because your mouth
Knows to shout defiance

And by your sincere face
and your vagabond step
and your weeping for the world
because of this I adore you

And because our love is neither famous
nor innocent
and because we are two
who know we are not alone

I adore you in my paradise
it is to say that in my country
People live happily
although they do not have permission

Monday, January 14, 2008

Splendid Table

So we're both huge consumers of food media. We've mentioned books and god knows we've talked about TV, but we're also happy to get our food media fix on the radio. Thank god for NPR and its Splendid Table series hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the Jewish-Italian aunt everyone wishes they had. Lynne is a warm, funny, expansive personality to really delights in talking about food. Along with her bales of laughter, she brings a really deep level of food knowledge. Moreover she's got a wonderfully inquisitive nature that brings out great bits of information from her guests. We discovered the Splendid Table on our trips to the farm. In the DC area it airs from 2:00-3:00 pm every Saturday. That means we usually can catch half of the broadcast and we then download the show via the internet to hear the rest of the broadcast. It's been a welcome addition to my morning commute.

The segments for Splendid Table include:

Road Food with Jan and Michael Stern. This earthy couple roams the country eating out of diners, drive-in and dives but is a zillion times less irritating than that guy on the Food Network. They really let you know what's good at a particular place and what the particular mood and crowd is. They are great compliments to Lynne's earthy love of life. I will say that Michael has the queeniest voice this side of Harvey Fierstein.

Stump the Cook with the nerdy editor of Cook's Illustrated. A very funny segment where people call in, give five completely uncomplimentary ingredients and Lynne has to come up with a recipe using ingredients like: pomegranates, coffee, sour cream, corn, and butterscotch. Chris Kimball is the judge of how good the recipe is. While I love both Chris and Lynne in this, the challenge isn't particularly useful because I would just eat everything separately.

Finally, there's my favorite section which is the call-in part. People call in to Splendid Table looking for cooking tips, food trivia and even advice on how to patent a recipe. For the most part the callers are delightful. Case in point - an 8-year-old who wants to make baked French toast. Lynne tells the girl to layer the bread in a baking pan and says it's ok if the slices of bread overlap. The girl responds, "there are worse things in the world."

Along with the regular sections she has segments about ingredients, farming, travel, and food history. On top of that she has delightful guest like Nigella Lawson and Nora Ephron. The only thing I don't like is the wine segments which bore me to tears (sorry sis!).

But if anyone likes talking, eating or hearing about food, the Splendid Table is a great way to go.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Babe's - crazy ass amounts of food

One of the highlights of our trip to Texas was going to Babe's, a local Texas chain of restaurants that is a true Texas experience. It's a family-style, old-time dinner joint complete with stuffed animals on the walls (and we're not talking teddy bears) and honky tonk signs saying "Life's too short to live in Houston." On top of the roombiance, periodically the waitresses would start doing karaoke to Shania Twain and Bonnie Raitt on the jukebox. Because the food is served family style, most people were coming in groups of nine or ten. Our own group included myself, J, J's brother and parents and J's sister and her family of four. We were lucky to come at 5:30 (when the restaurant was already 3/4 full) because when we left two hours later it was packed with mange many large parties waiting outside.

This was Texas so you know the servers were going to be nice. When they say family style, the food is served family style. All of the food is in platters in the middle of the table and plates are passed around. You get a choice of meat that includes fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried chicken tenders, smoked chicken, catfish, and pot roast. Since the Babe's is known for their fried chicken, we al went with fried chicken. The meal started off with salad dressed in a solution of white vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and water. No oil. It made for a surprisingly light and refreshing salad. J's Mom said that this was the dressing she grew up with. along with the salad came feather light biscuits accompanied by butter, honey and molasses. Already we were feeling happy and sated and the main course was yet to come.

After the salad, the chicken came in big platters along with sides of Mashed Potatoes
Creamy Gravy, Green beens, and Grandma's Corn. I'd like to highlight Grandma's corn which is shaved fresh from the cob and is in a thick corn milk sauce. It was sweet and fresh at the same time. The trip was worth it just for the corn. The chicken itself was surprisingly moist and tender. Kind of like a homey version of KFC. One good thing about the chicken is that it tastes great cold the next day. Essentially everyone was served the equivalent of half a chicken which meant many many leftovers.

For dessert we have a choice of peach cobbler and banana pudding. The clear winner was banana pudding which tasted like a banana version of creme anglaise. Babe's is kind of a once a year type of place because of the insane portions but it's well worth going there once a year.