Monday, June 30, 2008

Restaurant Review: Proof

I had dinner late Friday night at Proof, a relatively new wine bar that's located in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown-Arts District. From the bread to the food to the wine, everything was excellent. (Well, the service was just so-so.) I look forward to going back.

My fellow diner had the cheese board, which he raved about, especially the gouda. The cheese was accompanied by an artisanal honey and a spiced applesauce.

I had a few different items from Proof's charcuterie menu. The rabbit terrine was outstanding, and I don't know if I've ever had bresaola that was as succulent as this.

Desserts looked good too -- from one table away.

Overall, the decor was pretty nice, although the exposed brick (not historic and a bit out of place) on the walls was a strange choice.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The History of Lemonade

As the dog days of summer arrive, thoughts turn to a nice, tall glass of lemonade. With this marvelous beverage in mind, I thought it made sense to share this web page with visitors.

Is it possible that lemonade can be traced as far back as the 10th Century? According to food writer Clifford Wright, the answer is "yes."

Speaking of lemonade, I will be heading to Chicago next month, and I will have to find time to visit this eatery on the city's South Side that advertises "authentic Chicago Italian lemonade."

I have no clue exactly what Italian lemonade is, and whether Italian lemonade in Chicago is different from what others call Italian lemonade. But I would like to find out.

Hardee's Founder Is Dead

When I was a freshman in college, my typical Saturday lunch was eaten at the Hardee's restaurant right over the hill from my dorm. So it brought back a few memories when I read this in yesterday's N.Y. Times:

Wilber Hardee, a farm boy turned grill cook who went on to open the first Hardee’s hamburger stand in 1960, starting a chain that now has nearly 2,000 restaurants in the United States and overseas, died Friday at his home in Greenville, N.C. He was 89.

. . . It was on an empty lot in Greenville, near East Carolina College (now a university), that Mr. Hardee opened that first hamburger stand on Sept. 3, 1960. There was no dining room, no drive-up window. Charcoal-broiled hamburgers and milkshakes sold for 15 cents apiece.

There are now 1,926 Hardee’s restaurants, mostly in the Southeast and the Midwest . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In a Nice, Tall Frosty Mug

I love root beer, and I still believe that a root beer float is one of the 10 best desserts in the world. So when I saw this article in yesterday's N.Y. Times, it naturally caught my eye. Eric Asimov writes:

No soft drink incites the passions the way root beer does. People love it or they hate it, but they don’t ignore it. Few sodas have the mystique of a frosty mug of root beer.

Nobody chugs root beers mindlessly the way a reformed smoker downs Diet Cokes. Instead, people dissect them and analyze them. They debate the merits. They break down the formula, if they can. They might even try to make root beer themselves.

In the United States, hundreds of root beers are brewed by soda makers large and small. The sheer quantity and diversity of root beers dwarfs the quantity and diversity of any other soda, although the actual volume is but a trickle compared with the ocean of cola pumped out by the corporate giants that rule the global soda market.

I almost never write about soft drinks, and I almost never drink soda. If I do, though, it’s usually root beer. I love it and always have. I have nostalgic memories of root beer floats — what other genre of soda lends its name to an ice cream drink? — and of road-trip pit stops at A & W root beer stands.

Restaurant Review: Famoso

I went with friends just recently Famoso, a restaurant in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase, Md. Here's my review.

I would rate the food quality somewhere within the A-/B+ range. We ordered an array of dishes: grilled buffalo mozzarella, a tuna carpaccio, rabbit rolled with pancetta, and ravioli with asparagus. None of these dishes totally dazzled us, but everything was good. Simply good. The bread basket had a lot of variety, and it was excellent.

Famoso is yet another restaurant in the D.C. area that needs a lecture on how to properly store wine. One bottle, a Rosso di Montalcino, had clearly been compromised by storage. We came very close to returning it. Another red wine was served to us at a warmer temperature than it should have been. What's more, Famoso's wine prices are pretty painful on a wallet.

Having said all of that, I must say that I loved the space and ambience. Even though Famoso is in a shopping development, once you get inside, you forget all about that. Someone with an eye for design clearly thought about this.

I would probably consider returning if it weren't for my concerns about the wine -- both the cost and temperature control.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pulled Pork BBQ

Via Foodbuzz, here is a recipe in the new issue of Gourmet magazine for North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ. According to Gourmet:

People from western North Carolina, in fact, prefer shoulder meat, but they sweeten the sauce with tomato or ketchup.
I was raised in the region of Memphis-style barbecue, where the pulled pork is prepared sweet and wet. So if I make this recipe, I will add tomato paste and a tablespoon or two of molasses.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Doing Time Means Eating This

I don't have much sympathy for state prison inmates, but this article from Slate explores the issue of whether a prisoner has a constitutional right to be served appetizing food?

Slate's Arin Greenwood writes:

... there's one dish in particular that so offends the palates of America's prisoners that it's repeatedly been the subject of lawsuits: Nutraloaf.

Nutraloaf (sometimes called Nutri-loaf, sometimes just "the loaf") is served in state prisons around the country. It's not part of the regular menu but is prescribed for inmates who have misbehaved in various ways — usually by proving untrustworthy with their utensils. The loaf provides a full day's nutrients, and it's finger food — no fork necessary.

Prisoners sue over Nutraloaf with some regularity, usually arguing either that their due process rights have been violated (because they are served the punitive loaves without a hearing) or that the dish is so disgusting as to make it cruel and unusual and thus a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Typical of these suits is the 1992 case LeMaire v. Maass. Samuel LeMaire slit a man's throat before going to state prison and attacked his prison guards and fellow prisoners with sharpened poles, feces, and a homemade knife once inside. LeMaire was then put in a Nutraloaf-serving disciplinary unit. Among other complaints about the accommodations there, LeMaire argued that Nutraloaf was cruel and unusual and thus violated his 8th Amendment rights.

A lower court agreed with LeMaire and ordered the prison to serve him something more delicious. The 9th Circuit, however, overturned the lower court's decision, holding that while Nutraloaf may be unappetizing, "The Eighth Amendment requires only that prisoners receive food that is adequate to maintain health; it need not be tasty or aesthetically pleasing."
The rest of the article can be accessed here.

I can think of a few co-workers who deserve to be placed in "a Nutraloaf-serving disciplinary unit."

Ah, Pork Belly

In an article about superstar chef Daniel Boulud's newest venture, Bar Boulud, Wine Spectator explains that the menu at Bar Boulud reflects the Frenchman's love of charcuterie.

WS describes how Boulud prepares one of its signature dishes -- rillons croustillants au poivre:
In Bar Boulud's charcuterie room, situated in the basement kitchen, an 8-pound piece of pork belly sits in a hotel pan.

The 2-1/2 inch-thick slab of meat looks fabulous, the layers of fat and lean meat resembling geological strata.

... After the brining and poaching, the meat is cooled until it is ready to be used in a dish. ... (One of the chefs) heats up the deep fryer and cuts three pieces of pork belly .... While the rillons are cooking, Boulud makes a design with Dijon mustard on a white plate. The crisped rillons are then sprinkled with cracked black and white pepper and positioned on the mustard.

A couple of tufts of dressed frisee complete the plate. Time to eat.
Sounds absolutely yummy.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Backward Laws

A few days ago, we tried to bring a bottle of wine into one of our favorite Arlington, Va., restaurants. The hostess who had answered the restaurant's phone had mistakenly told me this was okay. But the only corkage fee the restaurant charges is for bottles of wine that patrons wish to purchase from the restaurant to take home with them — not to bring into the restaurant.

We were told that the latter option is verboten in the state of Virginia.

This appears to be yet another example that Virginia's state laws and regs are not keeping up with the times. Earlier this year, I wrote this post about Virginia's ridiculous ban on sangria.

Fly the Friendly Jambalaya

I just learned as I was web-surfing that there is a start-up airline — still being organized, not yet flying commercial flights — called Air Gumbo.

According to Air Gumbo's website, the airline "will reflect Louisiana's food and culture which travelers say are the key buying criteria for visiting the state." Interesting.

Eating beignets could be a very messy affair on board a regional jet at 20,000 feet of altitude in a bouncy thunderstorm. But I confess I am curious to see what this airline would look like.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Legal Once Again in the Windy City

I must have missed this when it happened — not that it would have made the front page — but I read in the latest issue of Wine Spectator that the Chicago City Council reversed itself and voted last month to legalize the sale of foie gras in restaurants.

According to WS, the vote was an overwhelming 37-6 to legalize the sale of fattened duck and goose livers in the city's restaurants.

I love foie gras. There, I said it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No More Kerch's

Yesterday, I was driving back to Washington, D.C., and I planned to make a quick detour in Hagerstown, Md., to eat lunch at Kerch's Southern BBQ. I had been 4 or 5 years since I had last eaten at Kerch's, but I remembered the excellent barbecue chicken they served.

Well, my detour was all for naught. I arrived at the old site of Kerch's to see a two- or three-story office building. One of the locals was kind enough to tell me that the owner of Kerch's had decided a couple of years ago to close the business and sell the land to a developer. (She seemed almost as disappointed as I was.)

There was nothing else around but fast-food restaurant chains. Ugh. This is getting to be a real problem, especially once you leave the major cities — the absence of local mom-and-pop restaurants that serve good, no-nonsense food. (Sigh)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Best Meatballs

Michael Y. Park, the blogger at, ventured to Providence, R.I., and got a recipe for how to make "the best meatballs in the world."

But, for some reason or another, the recipe-teller (Anthony Delbonis) scoffed at the question of how long to bake them in the oven.

When Eating Is Your Job

The life of a food critic may seem quite cushy. But food writers for newspapers and magazines often struggle to keep weight off. According to this Newsweek article:

... for some food critics, their eyes aren't the only thing that gets wide when they contemplate yet another feast.

Karen Fernau, a food writer for The Arizona Republic, said when she first started her job she began to gain weight. "I always looked forward to lunch before this job, then all of a sudden lunch was all day every day. Eventually I realized that if I continued to carry on eating for work and then eating outside of work, too, I wasn't going to fit in my cubicle," she says.

Nine years later, keeping her weight steady and her health intact is a daily battle.

... "As a food critic or writer you will eat more calories in one sitting than most people eat in an entire day," she says.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cupcake Frenzy

Cupcake boutiques are very de rigueur. And the craze has truly arrived here in Washington, D.C. I finally got the opportunity to try Georgetown Cupcake, which has created quite a buzz among Washingtonians with a sweet tooth. GC is located on a (normally) quiet side street of Georgetown. Quick disclosure: I'm not a cupcake fiend or anything — I would choose a homemade fruit pie or cobbler over almost any kind of cake or cupcake.

Having said that, GC's cupcakes were very good. I tried the Key Lime cupcake. Both the frosting and cake part were excellent. A friend raved about the Red Velvet cupcake. Beware: Lines can stretch a block down the street on weekends so to avoid waiting, consider dropping by there on a weeknight. Here is the Wash Post's review of GC.

Unlikely to Wear a Toque

The July issue of Bo Appétit magazine has a short interview with writer David Sedaris. Here is an excerpt:

Q: What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen?

SEDARIS: Me cooking. Actually, surprised isn't the word. People would be horrified. They would run. This is not just me being modest. If Hugh is out of town, I'll cook my own meals, but I'm embarrassed to have anyone over. Grocery shopping, I love. Even washing up doesn't bother me, but when it comes to actually making stuff, it's best that somebody else does it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Long Wait for Sinskey

I was almost ready to call the Washington, D.C. police department and file a missing persons report for Robert Sinskey. More specifically, Robert Sinskey wines.

We had ordered half a case of his 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s an excellent vintage and almost as wonderful as Sinskey’s pinot noir — the varietal that thrust him into the spotlight of the wine-drinking world.

More than a week had passed, and no sign of the wine. Then I began tracking the wine’s shipment. One failed delivery, then another. They kept coming at odd hours.

Finally, on Friday, my half case of Robert Sinskey Cab arrived. Bottle number one was enjoyed on Saturday night.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wrong Hemisphere for Dessert

On her blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything shares a recent visit to an Asian cafe where she tried the black sesame ice cream "from their prominent ice cream menu that was displayed on every table and on the front door of the cafe ..."

Unfortunately, she writes, the ice cream "sucked balls." How's that for mincing words?

I love Asian food -- sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, noodle places, etc. But I have yet to eat a dessert at any Asian restaurant that rated better than a B-. That region of the world just isn't known for its sweet temptations.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bacon Ice Cream Was His Waterloo

I watched the last "Top Chef" episode on Bravo last night, and one of the finalists, Richard Blais, prepared a dessert that featured "bacon ice cream."

At first, I thought I had misheard what he said. Good God, I thought, that sounds so awful. (What's next? Mayonnaise sorbet?)

Experimenting for the hell of it leads to crazy concoctions like that. No wonder Richard lost to Stephanie Izard (right) in the last round of the competition.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Urban Poultry Farmers

This is either kinda cool or very weird; I can't decide which. L.E. Leone of writes:

There's been a lot of ink spilled lately (in the New York Times, among other publications) on city chickens and the urban farming movement. Yes, movement.

... They are hip, young, smart, liberal-arts-college graduates, green in many senses of the word, wearing stiff new overalls and chewing on only organic, free-range, locally grown straw, racing outside to move their tractors for street-sweeping. They are locavores, homesteaders, part of a revolution.

They are saving the environment, making a statement. And if they eat their own, they tend to see the killing as an unpleasant downside — a tradeoff for the clear conscience that comes with cage-free, hormone-free, factory-free gumbo.

... At sites like, you can learn about coop construction, hatching eggs, feeding, protecting, and diagnosing chickens.

... Even in cities, chickens have predators. On 29th Street in San Francisco, hungry, street-smart raccoons used to line up on my roof, staring at the hens I kept under my deck, waiting for me to slip one night and leave their door open.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Culinary Road Trip

The food choices at baseball parks have evolved a great deal over the past 20 or 25 years. Earlier this year, the N.Y. Times' Peter Meehan traveled to ballparks in 10 U.S. cities. In this article, he shares the diverse food experiences he encountered — the good, the bad and the ugly:

... if you’ve been to enough professional sporting events in your life, you’ve certainly encountered some edible disappointments along the way. And since I grew up in the 1980s, my memory of ballpark food involved frozen pizzas, sodden hot dogs on sullen buns and bad fast-food chains.

But in the last decade or so, as aging stadiums were either renovated or replaced, the ballparks have stepped up their game, and not just for the corporate skybox crowd. New stadiums have been laid out so that nosebleed sections have decent views, the concourses aren’t dark passageways, and the food and beer offered are no longer an afterthought to the game.

Hot dogs and peanuts still rule the food court, but I spotted signs of progress almost everywhere ... There were concessionaires that served humanely raised meat from the fashionable purveyor Niman Ranch. Phillies fans drank beer from biodegradable cups made of corn, and a few might even have filled their cars with biodiesel made from the park’s used fryer oil after the game.

And dishes from other baseball-loving cultures have made inroads, like tonkatsu, Japanese fried pork cutlets; sweet-fried plantains from Latin America; and pressed Cuban sandwiches.

Of course, I also saw plenty that deserved jeers: in the cramped confines of Wrigley Field’s concourses, I watched a large man, his head thrown back, guzzling spicy curly fries from a cup like they were a beverage.

... in Baltimore, I came face to face with a crab cake sandwich that edged out guinea pig (yes, guinea pig) as the least appetizing dish I have ever tried.

But there was enough good food — a cedar-planked salmon in Seattle, a thick pastrami hero at Dodger Stadium, the classic Primanti Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh — that I never gave into indigestion or hot dog fatigue.

When Wine Is Served "Well Done"

Last night, I ate at Matchbox, one of Washington, D.C.'s best pizzerias. Before ordering, I ordered a glass of red wine at the bar — it arrived warmer than room temperature and virtually undrinkable.

It's no wonder why. I noticed that the restaurant stores its wines for glass servings on a rack only 15 to 20 feet from its brick oven. Hardly ideal if you're trying to maintain a reasonable temperature for red wine.

Near here's the good news. I read on Matchbox's menu that the restaurant is planning to construct a temperature-controlled bin for its wines. So I give them credit for at least being aware of the problem.

But too many restaurants store wines in areas that expose the vino to heat. Not good.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why Our Ancestors Missed the BLT

From a 1934 issue of Time magazine:

In the U. S. before 1800 witches were practically the only people who ate tomatoes, which everybody thought were poisonous. Indians in Mexico were found munching them as early as the 16th Century. The French prescribed them as a highly effective love potion.

Thomas Jefferson had some on his Virginia farm in 1781, dared to use them in sauces and soups. But a woman born in Trenton, N. J. as late as 1833 reported that when as a child she ate a tomato, her parents rushed her to the doctor, certain she would die.

Not until 1835 did the editor of the Maine Farmer report that tomatoes had been cultivated in Maine gardens "and should be found on every man's table."
And the road that led to V-8 juice was a strange one indeed:
Before 1928 tomato juice was used chiefly for invalids and babies who needed its vitamins. Packers did not produce enough to warrant keeping separate figures.

... Last year as tomato juice took its place on nearly every restaurant menu in the land, output was estimated at 5,000.000 cases, worth $8,500.000. The rise in tomato juice sales has been the most spectacular of any food industry during the Depression.

The man who put spiced tomato juice cocktail on the market was Ernest Byfield, Chicago's most famed hotelkeeper.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"It's Slooooow Good"

Sound familiar? I am dating myself, but that was the tagline for the Heinz ketchup advertising campaign that aired on TV during the 1970's.

Well, maybe that should be the slogan for the Slow Food Movement. I am familiar with the movement, but I didn't realize they even have a multilingual website devoted to the cause. Its home page proclaims:
Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Sweet Conclusion

We grilled out on Monday evening with friends. One of the two flank steaks we grilled was done perfectly, but the other was just slightly more "done" than I hoped for.

The eggplant and sweet potatoes we threw on the grill came out nicely. But everyone seemed to like the dessert I made best of all, even though it was a pretty low-fuss dessert.

Here's the recipe:

Bing Cherries with Cardamom Cream
(serves 4)

3 ginger snap cookies + half-a-dozen almonds
8 oz. of cream cheese, softened at room temp.
6 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar
1-1/4 cup of whipping cream
1-1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
2 cans (15 oz.) of Oregon brand pitted dark sweet Bing cherries

1. Place cookies and almonds in a food processor and process them 10 seconds or so until ground well, but before it becomes a powder. Set aside.

2. Drain the cherries, but reserve 2 tablespoons of the cherry juice.

3. Using a hand-mixer, beat the confectioner's sugar into the cream cheese, slowly adding 1 cup of the whipping cream as you do so. (Set aside the remaining 1/4 cup of whipping cream.) Add the cardamom. Beat cream mixture until smooth. Add the cherry juice and beat until juice is incorporated into the cream.

4. Add additional whipping cream to lighten the texture of the cream.

5. Place a cluster of cherries in the bottom of 4 serving bowls. Top with a small portion of the cardamom cream. Place several more cherries atop the cream layer, then add another layer of the cream.

6. Sprinkle the ginger snap-almond crumbles atop each bowl and serve.

"The Ultimate Minefield"

Those were the words that wine critic Robert Parker, Jr., recently used to describe the French region of Burgundy. But, in this article, the N.Y. Times' Eric Asimov sees the glass as half full. He writes:

In fact, the quality of Burgundy — red Burgundy in particular — has risen strikingly over the last two decades. From the smallest growers to the biggest houses, the standards of grape-growing and winemaking have surpassed anybody’s expectations.
These days, Burgundy has very few bad vintages, and among good producers, surprisingly few bad wines.

The best producers, like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Armand Rousseau, always managed to achieve a high standard, but nowadays the bar has been raised for everybody. And it’s not just the Côte d’Or, the heart of Burgundy, that has shown such improvement. Surrounding areas like the Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais, still part of Burgundy, are producing better wine than ever, at not unreasonable prices.

Sure, you can still find bad Burgundy. But really, it’s not hard to find bad wines from any fine wine region.

... I spent five days in Burgundy last week to get a first-hand look at the reasons for the surge in quality. In traveling the Côte d’Or from Marsannay in the north to Santenay in the south, visiting two dozen producers, tasting hundreds of wines and drinking not quite that many, it was easy to see that this leap upward has been 25 years in the making, an eternity in the Internet world but a split second at the rhythmic agricultural pace of viticulture.

Most striking of all was the number of young producers making superb wines, whether they have taken charge of their family domains or started out new.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Gordon Ramsey Opens in L.A., But ...

... the loudmouth chef of "Hell's Kitchen" fame was a no-show on his restaurant's opening night. More from the Los Angeles Times.

Even I Don't Drink That Much Vino

An article in the N.Y. Times builds on previous reports citing potential health benefits for those who regularly drink red wine. This time it's supposed to slow the effects of aging. The key beneficial ingredient in red wine seems to be resveratrol.

Nice news, but there's also this snippet:
Separately from Sirtris’s investigations, a research team led by Tomas A. Prolla and Richard Weindruch, of the University of Wisconsin, reports ... that resveratrol may be effective in mice and people in much lower doses than previously thought necessary.

In earlier studies, like Dr. Auwerx’s of mice on treadmills, the animals were fed such large amounts of resveratrol that to gain equivalent dosages people would have to drink more than 100 bottles of red wine a day.

The Wisconsin scientists used a dose on mice equivalent to just 35 bottles a day. But red wine contains many other resveratrol-like compounds that may also be beneficial. Taking these into account, as well as mice’s higher metabolic rate, a mere four, five-ounce glasses of wine “starts getting close” to the amount of resveratrol they found effective, Dr. Weindruch said.

Of course, they don't tell you what impact drinking four 5-oz. glasses of wine every day might have on your liver.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Vying for the Lofty Title of Spud Queen

Chile and Peru went to war over minerals 129 years ago. But over the origin of the potato?

Well, the rhetoric is getting pretty heated. According to this article by the N.Y. Times' Simon Romero:
Peruvian agronomists, historians and diplomats are chafing at an assertion by Marigen Hornkohl, Chile’s agriculture minister, who said Monday, “Few people know that 99 percent of the world’s potatoes have some type of genetic link to potatoes from Chile.”

Peru, where the potato is a source of national pride, could not let such a comment pass.

“Obviously the world has known for centuries that the potato is from Peru and that the Peruvian potato saved Europe from hunger,” Foreign Minister José Antonio García Belaúnde told reporters here last week. “The entire world knows this.”

And if some parts of the world did not have an inkling of the importance of Peru’s potatoes, Peru is trying to remedy that through events organized here around the International Year of the Potato, decreed by the United Nations to promote the potato’s potential role in easing food shortages in poor countries.

Moved by research showing that the potato produces more calories per pound than increasingly expensive grains, President Alan García is trying to increase potato cultivation by replacing white bread with potato bread in schools.

Chefs in Lima’s top restaurants have developed new dishes using Peru’s colorful potatoes. The Catalan artist Antoni Miralda i Bou arrived here this month to unveil conceptual works revolving around the potato.

But the celebratory mood gave way to ire over the Chilean minister’s remarks, reflecting festering tension here over territorial losses to Chile in a war more than a century ago and more recent soul-searching over Chile’s economic power at a time when much of Peru, despite its own boom, remains mired in poverty.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Raise Your Glass, Not Your Bread

From "The Great Food Almanac" by Irena Chalmers:

Q: Why is a speech proposing someone's health called a toast?

A: Because in 17th century England it was customary to float a piece of spiced toasted bread in a bowl or carafe of wine to improve its flavor before it was drunk. When people raised their glasses in the traditional custom of drinking to wish someone good health, it would have been rude, as well as unwise, not to finish every drop, and so the toast was consumed along with the wine.
Chalmers notes that although the toast was eventually jettisoned (probably because the quality of wine became more consistently good), the term of making "a toast" survived.

Mannequin Pis

Mannequin Pis (Flemish for little man peeing) is a bronze fountain in a pleasant corner of Brussels. It is also the name of a restaurant located in a strip-mall storefront in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Olney, Md.

That description of the restaurant doesn't do justice to it. Once inside, the ambience is warm and convivial. Mussels are prepared in any of 17 different ways — the traditional Mariniere style, with lavender, provencale, etc. Last night, we had an excellent dinner there.

Mannequin Pis has a good selection of Belgian beers and ales.

Reservations are a must because the restaurant is fairly busy, especially on weekends, and there are only a dozen tables or so.