In the Wise Words of My Mother.......Shut Up and Eat!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

VOLT: Top Chef's Top Restaurants

Some of you may no know this, but I adore the show Top Chef. I feel as though you should know this due to my over zealous foodie nature. Two weekends ago, along with my foodie partner in crime, we were fortunate enough to get reservations to Top Chef runner up Bryan Voltaggio. This was only made more exciting when I saw him prepping pork as I sauntered into the bathroom. This was wicked exciting and I squeeled to myself as the bathroom slid closed while Bryan went to town on the pork loin. We locked eyes............

The food at VOLT was true to the work I saw on Top Chef. It was simple, clean, innovative, not pretentious and more importantly, delicious. Now is the point where I can describe the way the food tasted or I can let the imaged speak for themselves.

I do both, so don't worry.

Breadsticks dusted with fennel pollen....I didn't know fennel had pollen....silly SriVani

BEER & a fancy fruity drink I didn't drink.....

The aperitif of foir gras and celery something....I didn't hate the celery which is surprising. You almost expected this to be like a mousse but instead it was like a meringue. It had an outer crunch that then dissolved on your tongue.  

Rosemary bun served by the nice bread lady

Kampachi with ginger, green apple & chive. Clean, fresh and delightful. I was even able to bear the fact that it was adorned with celery leaves

Blue crab with cucumber, green mango, and coriander. This was also a clean fresh appetizer but they definitely didn't use the traditional green mango. As someone who has had a many a green mango, this was certainly just a regular ripe mango. 

Ravioli with garlic scapes, marcona almond, goat cheese. This was oh so delightful. The filling was luscious and smooth without weighing down the taste buds. I have never had homemade pasta before and this was unforgettably forgettable. Meaning the pasta did not define the dish but merely added to it by being light, and perfectly chewy.

Lobster omelet with oyster mushrooms and asparagus. I will be honest, this dish was the least favorite served to us. While the omelet was cooked to perfection, light and fluffy. The dish itself was good, but what is really lacked was more sauce and lobster. For such a high end restaurant, I expected more lobster with my omelet. Perhaps it is my belief that, if Panera can overload my sandwich with lobster, then Volt should be able to too. Maybe it's the Masshole in me screaming for more lobster.....Anyways, the potato was also quite yummy. None of the potatoes were undercooking, a massive pet peeve of mine, but wee a bit oily. 

Damn shadows....
Halibut with asparagus, hen egg yolk, caper. To quote Neil Diamond, "so good, so good, so good!" The fish was cooked exactly the way it should be cooked, my fork should be able to peel off layers of the fish with one effortless stroke. Also, the concept of shaved asparagus was exciting in it of itself. I don't think I will be able to look at vegetable peelings the same way again.....

Lamb with farro, chimichurri, maroon carrots. Now I didn't have the lamb, but I did have the farrow and the carrots. First off, I had the carrots...if you know me (chances are if you are reading this you are probably my sister and therefore do know me) I don't like carrots. However, these carrots were wonderful. They were tender and slightly sweet. They still tasted like a carrot, but maybe the fact that they were maroon made them most appealing.....The farro was even better. This hearty grain was dressed with chimichurri. I don't know what this seasoning should taste like, but it was filled with coriander and it made me happy. 

This isn't found on the website for some reason so I shall do my best to remember this dish. It was almond cake with apple butter and apple ice cream? It was a very fall appropriate dish. It wasn't my favorite just because I am not a huge apple person, but it was still delightful.

Chocolate marshmallow, caramel, peanut......I would have licked the plate if that was socially acceptable, but it's not so I didn't. But it was damn good. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sassy Snack Sunday

Luckily the fresh corn didn't do this....
Why today is Sunday and it will be a fun-day. Seeing that it's now June, summer has made her presence known and she is here with a vengeance. This weekend, DC has seen temperatures that may give the illusion mother nature is having one hell of a hot flash. Seriously, I think mother nature is menopausal and is taking it out on the DC area.  Despite the warm heat, I could not be deterred from wandering the stalls of Eastern Market. With sweat on my back, a cloth bag on my shoulder and no skip in my step (it's really to warm to skip), I aimlessly wandered through the fresh farmers market. As always, it's a sensory overload with fresh vegetables are fruits, juices running down the pudgy cheeks of children nibbling food, dogs panting and the usual host of colorful characters. During my adventures I even managed to find fiddle head ferns which have been rare this season, literally impossible to find. While I wish I could have stocked up on a large supply, at $30/lb it was not in my budget. However,  I did score a small amount for tonight's dinner and I am excited to get my fern on. 

Once I got home I decided to make some delightful simple snacks for the week (or tomorrow depending on how long they last). Kale chips and popcorn. Two things that you can easily find in the grocery store. But why buy when they are more fun to make? Everyone loves to customize things, why not customize your snacks!?  Both kale chips and popcorn are extremely versatile and are blank slates. They can take on any flavor you want. One of my favorite spice mixtures to use on the kale chips is Trader Joe's South African Smoked Spice rub/thingy (thingy is an official term). As for my popcorn, I love to have it the way we would eat it in India,  spicy, zingy and buttery. I've made some simple cool recipes for kale chips and popcorn that will surely make the 3 o'clock sugar crash at work much more delightful. 

Spicy Kale Chips
  • 1 10 oz. bags of cut kale (it bakes down by a lot so keep that in mind when buying) 
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/2 tbs. salt 
  • 1/2 tbs. red pepper flakes (or your herb/flavoring of choice) 
1. Pull off any leaves from the thick stem and leave in large pieces (they don't bake well and are too fibrous to chew) and place all of the leaves in a large bowl. 

2. Pre-heat your oven to 350F

3. In a small cup combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Mix thoroughly. 

4. Coat the kale chips with the liquid and mix it so all the leaves are coated in the liquid mixture. 

5. Put a single layer of the leaves on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn them over after 5 minutes. Basically you bake them until they are crispy

Indian Style Popcorn
  • 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 tbs. salt
  • 1/2 tbs. red chili powder 
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. hing powder 
  • 1 tbs. ghee/melted butter 
1. In a large pot, heat oil. Once the oil is hot add the hing powder. 

2. Next add 2-3 kernels and wait for them to pop. Once they have popped, add the remaining kernels and cover.

3. Shake periodically as to avoid burning. Take the pot off the stove once the popping sounds have stopped. 

4. In a small bowl, mix together the salt and red chili powder.

5. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and drizzle on half of the melted ghee. Then sprinkle on the chili salt mixture. Cover the bowl and shake to mix. Add the remainder of the ghee and chili salt mixture and repeat. 

*Both the popcorn and kale chips can be seasoned how you wish, so don't be afraid to get creative!!! 

Ease: This will probable take you about an hour to make (for both snacks)
Yummy: Very much so, but be careful with the red chili flakes, they can be potent 
Ayurvedic Friendly: Actually I'm fairly sure they are...interesting. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SO Glad I Found Founding Farmers

Being an up and coming food blogger, perhaps only in my mind, I am looking to make new recipes and find unique places to eat. Well, I certainly love my friends down here because they turn me onto the best restaurants. Including this amazing restaurant Founding Farmers in Washington D.C. Located in the IMF building, this is a unique self-sustaining green restaurant that is earning a lot of attention from foodies. And before you start to wonder, there was no creepy Dominic Strauss Khan lurking in the corner. 

This sustainable restaurant offers simple American food with clean fresh ingredients that make your mouth water. They also do family style seating. Meaning, if they sit you at a long table, don't be surprised if you sit next to some strangers. Word of advice, don't drool all over their food.....Instead of rambling on about how great they are, I will let the food do the talking.

Made to order beignets - Raspberry Coulis, Semi-Sweet Chocolate and Caramel Sauce
Airy cloud like beignets with perfect dipping sauces. The outside is perfectly crunchy while the inside almost collapses in on its buttery self. The raspberry coulis is fresh and tart that helps break the bit of the oiliness from beignets. The chocolate and carmel sauce make them even more decedent. 

(Left to Right) Bloody Mary, Pimm's Cup, Cranberry Cucumber Cooler 
Sometimes after a good night with good friends, you need some refreshing drinks. I had the cranberry cucumber cooler. It is a light, tart, refreshing drink that tickles your nose with bubbles. 

Lemon Meunière Diver Scallops -Lemon Brown Butter, Butternut Squash Risotto
 I love a perfectly seared scallop. The scallops melt in your mouth with sweetness but have a light crunch from the sear. The risotto was a bit looser than I expected and it wasn't easy to taste the butternut squad. However, I ate this despite being littered with peas. Just incase you didn't know, I hate peas. However with these being farm fresh peas, they didn't have that taste I am normally averse to. 

Ahhhmaaaazing deviled eggs 
Ya, one of the eggs totally fell, it got to excited to be eaten. 
They have two types of deviled eggs, you traditional and then your eggs on steroids. The gourmet ones were filled with salmon, shrimp, crab and lobster. One can never go wrong with lobster. 

I suggest that you all visit Founding Farmers on Penn Ave in DC. There is quite a bit of street parking and the prices aren't too bad. It's definitely a place worth visiting with a large group of friends or family! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mango Tomato Chutney

How many of you love mango? How many of you love green mango? Have you ever even had it before? If not, then get on it! You are missing out on something ridiculously delicious and refreshing. If you don't know anything about the green mango it is green, and also it's super tart. It also happens to be a mango. It causes your mouth to pucker in a delightful way. Then combine it with a tomato, that turns sweet once you cook it, and you get a great combination for a chutney. 

Now some of you may be reading "chutney" and assume I am talking about some sweet concoction that has ripe mango and jalapeño peppers with a touch of cilantro. Well, that's not exactly a chutney, especially in my eyes. Now I'm not a culinary dictionary that has the proper definition for chutney at hand, but I do know that it has South Asian origins. While South Asia has a wide variety of chutneys, they are usually savory verses sweet.  That is why I tried to make one that sticks to it's South Asian roots, while still being unique in flavor. Do read the recipe below! 

Mango Tomato Chutney
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes 
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped  
  • 1 medium green mango, peeled 
  • Masala Powder 
    • 2 tbs. sesame seeds 
    • 1 tbs. coriander seeds 
    • 1 tbs. cumin seeds 
    • 1/2 tbs. mustard seeds 
    • 5 dry red chilies 
    • 5 fenugreek seeds 
  • 3 green chilies 
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Poppu/Thadka 
    • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds 
    • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds 
    • 1/2 tsp. udad dal 
    • 1/2 tsp. chana dal 
    • 2 red chilies 
    • 1/2 tsp. hing powder 
    • 4 tsb. vegetable/corn/canola oil 
1.  Cut the tomato and green mango into large cubes. Be careful when you're cutting the mango. Cut the top (where the stem is) so you have a flat place to lay on the cutting board. Cut along the long sides first and then the short sides. Try to get as much fruit off the seed as you can. Cutting a mango isn't as dangerous as people make it appear, I promise! 

2. In a large pan, heat oil. When the oil is hot add the hint powder. Then add the tomatoes, green mango, and cilantro. Add a pinch of salt, red chili powder, turmeric and cook until the green mango is soft. 

3. While the vegetables are cooking prepare the masala powder. In a small pan, add the ingredients for the masala powder and toast until they turn light brown and the smell fills your kitchen. Yes, that actually happens. 

4. Set the ingredients aside to cool and then put in a coffee grinder (or blender) and pulse into a fine powder. 

5. When the vegetables have cooked thoroughly, add the masala powder and mix. 

6. In a blender, add the mixture and blend into a fine paste. Transfer into a heat safe bowl. 

7. In a small pot, heat oil for thadka/poppu. Once the oil is extremely hot, add the hing powder. Then add the mustard seeds, when those start to pop, add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for another 30 seconds and add to the chutney. 

* This can be served with anything: rice, roti, naan, savory/spicy dip, sandwich spread. This is limited your imagination.
* Store in the fridge and make sure it doesn't get wet. Otherwise this will cause it to spoil.

Ease: It is a little time consuming and the overall preparation would be about medium in difficulty.
Ayurvedic Friendly: Negatory
Yummy: Duh

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Eastern Market: The Delight of DC

HOW on earth is it that I have lived in DC for almost over a year (not all at once) and I have not blogged about Eastern Market? Well, I will accept this no more and I will blog about it now! 

Eastern Market is a wonderful wonderful place. It's where foodies and hipsters go to be in heaven. On the weekdays it's a specialty market that has everything you need to outfit your fridge and pantry. From the welcoming scent of the bakery, to the crisp produce mart, exciting deli, unique butcher, fresh seafood and tantalizing cheese shop. On weekends it only gets better. Saturday and Sunday the streets fill will local farmers and artists. You can find almost everything you need to decorate your house, fill your fridge and empty your wallets. 

My favorite place in Eastern Market would have to be the Eastern Market Crepe Stand. The crepe stand is there every Saturday and Sunday rain or shine, year round! It's a two man operation. You're always greeted by the friendly face of the owner Mitchell (or as my roommate and I like to call him "Eastern Market crepe guy") who is always manning his three crepe griddles with expertise, and is at the ready to listen for your order. Then he has always assisted by another friendly face who's name I never know. But if we are being honest here, I only learned Mitchell's name a week ago....

They serve a slew of crepes, both savory and sweet. They use insanely fresh ingredients and have some truly creative concoctions. I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves. 

My beautiful bffl Nadi, who is loving her crepe! 
There was also this amazing new stand called Neopol Savory Smokery. To quote my amazing friend Nadi "I just want to smoke everything" and not in awkward illegal way. They served an amazing variety of smoked goods including salmon, salmon salad, shrimp salad, egg salad, cheeses, trout and the list goes on. Nadi and I got the green tea smoked salmon, smoked egg salad and smoked salmon salad. Everything was SO good, to the point where we couldn't really handle how good it was. Nothing was overly fishy or smoked. There was a perfect balance of flavors that made our lunch amazing. Once again I will let the photos speak for themselves. 

Here is the link to the Eastern Market where you can learn more and find the hours 
Here is the link to the most amazing crepes ever.....LINK!
AND finally here is the link to Neopol Savory Smokery