Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cashion's Set to Reopen

I noticed that Cashion's Eat Place will reopen this week after some interior renovations. I haven't eaten there in almost two years, and until I saw this article, I had almost forgotten about Cashion's. I used to have excellent meals there, but my last several visits to the restaurant were disappointing.

Chief among my complaints were bottles of red wine being stored near a heat source that made them unpleasant to drink. If Cashion's wants to be considered a top-flight restaurant, that's the kind of thing that shouldn't happen.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Disgusting Dish of the Month

I chose my first "Disgusting Dish of the Month" in June, but my life got pretty hectic in July so I never got around to picking a DDM for that month. So, here in August, I will revive this declaration.

August's choice is the Catfish Sloppy Joe, which has been featured by Esquire magazine's "Eat Like a Man" blog. I don't know what's worse, the recipe itself or the knowledge that this is actually the handiwork of the chef at Mandalay Bay. Having said that, I must admit that it's not nearly as disgusting at June's selection.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NY Eateries Opening Here in DC

A variety of New York-based restaurateurs are seeking satellite locations in Washington, D.C. This development puts a smile on my face. As the Washington Post reports:
Since the economic downturn began, no fewer than 10 Empire State restaurateurs have made designs on the District (of Columbia).

... Food Network star Bobby Flay is in negotiations to open his first local Burger Palace, a New York and New Jersey staple, and Shake Shack owner Danny Meyer recent announced plans for a spot in Dupont Circle.

"Guys from New York are coming down here because they can pay half the rent and do 75 percent of the business," said broker Thomas N. Papadopoulus, who has represented several Big Apple restaurants.
And near my office . . .
Over in Penn Quarter, construction is under way on the smoked barbeque joint Hill Country, which will rise across the street from another newly opened New York eatery, the Italian restaurant Carmine's.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Brasserie Beck: Still Too Noisy, Still Marvelous Food

I don't go to Brasserie Beck that often, mostly because of the noise. You enter knowing that you're going to have to shout to your dining companions if you're sitting anywhere within the front third of the restaurant space.

We had a reservation last night for 9 p.m., and the hostess wanted to seat us close to the bar area, which is very loud -- the tile, wood and other surfaces guarantee a high volume of clatter. We asked for a table far in the back (only one room seems to be carpeted). To her credit (and to Brasserie Beck's credit) the hostess accommodated our wishes by moving us to a table where the ambient noise was simply loud, but not thunderously so.

Once we settled in, we placed our order and then the courses started to arrive. First, the crusty bread with superb butter. Next, our starters were delivered. I ordered the melon soup (a special on the menu), and it was sublime. Light, yet very flavorful. My pork shank was also excellent.

Everything we tasted was marvelous, which always seems to be the case at Brasserie Beck. My only wish (sigh) is that they could do something more to reduce the noise. I'm not one of those chronic noise-in-restaurants complainers, but I doubt I'm the only one who would eat more often at Brasserie Beck if it weren't so damn loud. At the end of a busy work day, I refuse to shout to be heard by someone who is two feet away.

It's a tough trade-off.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Directions in the Fruit World

Do you remember as a kid being quite impressed when your parents brought home a watermelon from the store that stretched 2 feet or even longer? Well, according to the New York Times' Kim Severson, it's getting harder and harder to find those traditional, oversized melons.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The idea of making upside-down cake sounds appealing, but I've never been a huge fan of pineapple. So this twist on the traditional dessert caught my eye. The L.A. Times offers alternative recipes for upside-down cake using apricots, spiced cherries and peaches, among other fruits.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wonderful Clafoutis, But So Many Versions

Over at the food portal Serious Eats, Robin Bellinger writes that she took her second stab at making clafoutis, a custardy French dessert that is usually made with cherries. She wasn't sure at first how this version would turn out, but

. . . in the evening my husband pronounced it irresistible. I was truly sold the next day when I had a sliver of clafoutis straight out of the refrigerator; the flavor and texture of the clafoutis were best when it was cold.

She even pitted her own cherries. Impressive. I have a clafoutis recipe, and I'm pretty happy with it. But what I find curious is that no two clafoutis recipes are identical. There seems to be some distinction from one to the next. I noticed that this recipe contains more than a cup of milk, while this recipe calls for exactly 1 cup of milk, and this one contains only 3/4 cup.

One thing that probably trips up amateur cooks who try their hand at clafoutis is the fact that the batter is so runny. I'm willing to bet that many people try to "fix" that runniness, and what results is a custardy texture that is denser than it should be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Second Helpings in France

If you're a guest for dinner at someone's home in the U.S., it's not unusual to be asked if you would like "a second helping." If you do, you simply ask for "more pot roast" or "more asparagus" or more of something else.

Interestingly, this blogger informs us that in la belle France, the custom is quite different. She's married to a Frenchman and has lived in France, so she should know a thing or two about the country's customs. In any case, she writes:
If you ever attend a (French) dinner party and plan to take seconds, you must take seconds of all the dishes. For example, if the meal consists of a meat, potatoes and a vegetable, you cannot just take a second serving of the potatoes; you must take a second helping of all three, otherwise you will insult the host.

It makes them feel like you only liked the potatoes so that is all you want to have again.
Or, if they weren't so hyper-sensitive, they could conclude that you simply liked the potatoes the best. Which raises the question: what if you did only like the potatoes? So what?

I love dining in France, but this custom seems more like something that overfed, overweight Americans would have devised.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Frozen French Food

I guess one weird food-related story (see my last post) deserves another. Police in the French city of Lyon have discovered the body of renowned chef Jean-Francois Poinard -- in an apartment freezer. The body may have been in the freezer for two years.

Poinard represented the fourth generation of a cooking dynasty, and a French newspaper hailed him as one of the "great names" in gastronomy. He was 71 years old when he disappeared. A former girlfriend has been taken into custody.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When I-90 Became the Cheddar Parkway

On July 8 of this year, a crash involving a semi-trailer rig dumped more than eight tons of cheese onto Interstate 90 in South Dakota. The Utah man who was driving that vehicle was supposed to appear in court this week, but he was a no-show.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Crab Cakes in Annapolis

My brother and his wife were in the D.C. area this weekend, and we decided to take them to Annapolis, Md. There I sought crab cakes, and was quite pleased with the ones served at Carrol's Creek Cafe.

Their crab cakes are broiled, but they must use enough mayonnaise to keep them from drying out (unlike the broiled crab cakes at some other restaurants). The crab cakes at Carrol's Creek were very moist and flavorful. The cream of crab soup was good too. The restaurant is moderately expensive, and they have a large deck that looks out over the docked boats with views of the Naval Academy's chapel and other historic buildings.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Marriage for the Melon-Obsessed

I saw this item (below), which announced the approaching marriage of Emery Gullickson and Neal Richards, in the Washington Post's Express tabloid:
FIRST DATE: A few years after meeting, they reconnected at Emery's dad's birthday party. When her dad offered them some leftover watermelon, Emery suggested she and Neal boil it to see what would happen. The week after, they made a watermelon pie. "We became quite fond of each other while our distaste for watermelon flavoring grew," Emery says.

MMM, CAKE: The groom's cake is watermelon-shaped.
I've heard of a couple bonding over a food each one of them loved, but this is the first time I've heard of a couple bonding over a flavor they disliked.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Cheez Doodler Dies

The news that Morrie Yohai died last week may mean nothing to you. Morrie who? Well, if you've ever enjoyed Cheez Doodles, you should observe a moment of silence in his honor because he was the snack's creator.

In the post-World War II years, Yohai took over his father's snack-food business at a factory in the Bronx, N.Y. In a 2005 interview with a New York newspaper, Yohai explained how he stumbled on the idea for Cheez Doodles:

"We were looking for another snack item. We were fooling around and found out there was a machine that extruded cornmeal and it almost popped like popcorn."

From there, it didn't take long for someone to suggest coating the cornmeal with cheese. And the rest is (snack) history.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blame It on Red's Eats

There's that old saying -- if you "build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." I guess the same is true if you make a better lobster roll. I got a kick out of this N.Y. Times article about Red's Eats, a seafood shack in Wiscasset, Maine that is known for serving fantastic lobster rolls. The traffic leading into the town during the summer slows to a snail's pace, and many locals say the popularity of Red's is the reason why.

According to RoadFood.com, the best time to avoid long lines when visiting Red's is 3 p.m. on a Thursday. So, now you know.