Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ruth's Chris (Tysons Corner) review
Tysons Corner location
8521 Leesburg Pike
Tysons Corner, VA
Phone: 703-848-4290
Fax: 703-848-4294

I sent a limousine and a plane ticket to my Mother since it was her birthday and Mother’s Day recently. For dinner I took her to Ruth’s Chris, since she really enjoys steaks, and this place has given me the best steak at a restaurant to date. I called for a reservation at 6:30PM Saturday evening, and they were able to squeeze us in for two at 7:45PM.

When we arrived, the parking lot was full. No worries, since they have complimentary valet parking. Walking in, it had the same feel as a steakhouse with the wood, dim lighting, and bar at the front. This location seemed a little more modern than normal, however. I found out later this place is one of their newer locations as it has been open for about six months. We were there ten minutes earlier than our time, and they escorted us to a room immediately where there were four tables. We filled the third table, but it was still uncomfortably quiet until the fourth table filled up with a family. Because of this, the room had a range of ages from early teens to the elderly. Outside the room, however, I saw the typical people you’d see at the bar to regular diners to bikers equipped with the Harley swag, beards, tats, and everything. It was Memorial Day weekend, and D.C. swarms with bikers from all over, and I guess they want a good steak, too while remembering their fallen brothers and sisters.

The waiter seemed new, and his spiel sounded incredibly scripted – and it was – because when the family came in after us, he gave them the exact wording. He was polite, and when he learned that a member at another table was having a birthday, he stopped what he was doing and sang her happy birthday in a baritone voice that made everyone in the room stop. It wasn’t excellent, but it was charming. A guest at another table had trouble with her dinner, and the waiter tried very hard to make it up to her and even brought a shopping bag full of stuff from Ruth’s Chris that she turned down. I’ll give him credit for trying.

Now then, the food. The waiter described how they have been trying to get Kobe steaks on their menu and finally had it available, though I did not order it this time. I ordered one of their signature cuts, the Cowboy Ribeye (medium), and she ordered the Petite Filet (medium well). (Normally I order it medium rare, but I went with the waiter’s recommendation.) We had creamed spinach and au gratin potatoes for our sides. Before the meal, we had the typical warm bread and butter and ice cold water. Water is water for the most part, but I enjoyed how cold this was and that it was delivered in a new, unopened Acqua Panna bottle. The meat is prepared with 1800 degree heat, and the plates are heated to 500 degrees. 25 minutes later, our order arrived, sizzling on their plates. I cut into my steak right away, and the knife easily parts through it. There’s enough pink, and it bleeds nicely. I put the piece in my mouth, and I was reminded once again why Ruth’s Chris has delivered the best steak at a restaurant to date. Delicious. My Mother was happy, too. Compared to my cut, her piece was small. But if you didn’t compare it to anything, her Petite Fillet was really not petite at all. The sides were just normal and nothing out of the ordinary.

As you can imagine, I would definitely go again. I recommend this place in a heartbeat. The bill was $103 (before gratuity), but we didn’t have alcoholic drinks, appetizers, or dessert.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


2 weeks ago, my coworker IMed me a link to the NY Times. It was about a food I haven't heard of, and my guess is most of the readers here have not, either - Koolickles. Quite simple, actually: Kool-Aid + Pickles = Koolickles.

No really, there is such a thing. I Google'd it and found puh-lenty of hits.

W said he heard an interview on DC101 with Alton Brown and how he discovered it as he was filming his show Feasting on Asphalt 2: The River Run. As they say, “when in Rome…” and being in D.C., this the South. Perhaps it’s not the Mississippi Delta, but when you hear “yall” three times within 15 minutes in a conference call, that’s confirmation enough for me. So, we did as Romans do and ate Koolickles.

W followed the article and went to work. As it describes:

You pull the pickles from the jar, cut them in halves, make double-strength Kool-Aid, add a pound of sugar, shake and let it sit — best in the refrigerator — for about a week.

Cherry was the flavor for the experiment.

2 weeks later and here we are. We fished out a couple, and the first thing you notice is how red the insides are. The initial bite was the familiar taste and texture of a pickle, but the Kool-Aid quickly inundates you. Another 2 seconds of chewing, and everything evens out nicely. We look at each other and think “not bad.” I dig in and grab another ½ spear. I really dislike sweet pickles, and this was nothing of the sort. It was more reminiscent of a sweet relish or a mango salsa. Basically, you think about how things wouldn’t go together, but after eating it, it actually made sense. Though you wouldn’t see me eating it with a hot dog from Best’s Kosher, I wouldn’t mind heading to the office refrigerator and chomping on one. It’s the strange gleams from the eyes of other coworkers and their shudder that you need to worry about.

Sorry for the bad quality phone-cam pix, but it’s better than nothing.

Chau Chow City

Chau Chow City - Not Recommended
81 Essex St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-8158

Chinatowns are pretty much in every big city through out America.
NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, etc... and Boston.

I was just in Boston with some friends and we decided to go for Dim Sum. Why not right?
You get to pick what you want to eat and how much of it you want. What's there not to like?

Well, Chau Chow City was a bit underwhelming and even bland.
I'm probably never going back there.

Flushing Queens still has my vote as the best Dim Sum in the States.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Eastern Standard Boston - Revisited

Eastern Standard - Highly Recommended
500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 532-9100

Boston shines with this gem of a restaurant.
Garrett (the proprietor) and his team really out did themselves. This was my second time visiting the restaurant and it was just as good as I remembered.
The food, the service and the ambiance was perfect!

The Food:
Charcouterie Platter *
Raw Oysters Platter **
Pork Confit **
Calamari *
Roasted Bone Marrow *
Stuffed Roasted Quail with Seared Foie Gras ***
Hanger Steak *
Ribeye Steak
Lamb Rigatoni *
Fried Cod *
Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream

The Service:
A total of four servers tended to our six top.
In addition, we were comped a bottle of white wine to pair with the oysters and also a digestive that was made with a czech bitter.

The Ambiance:
French bistro with hints of modern New England. Dark wood with ambient lighting.

Past Post

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UFC 84: Fight Food

Penne with Chicken Tikka Masala
Had the fellas over for UFC 84 (great fight card) and decided to make some curry. I've made curry in the past and it's hella complex, so I basically realized f it - I'm not Indian, so I don't need to toast and grind 10 different spices. That actually may have screwed my curry up as the curry was flavorful, but not as good as I wanted it to be. I tossed it with pasta, since it seemed to make sense - tomato based curry and pasta. It worked well, but again the curry definitely needs to be tweaked. This recipe is based off the America's Test Kitchen Recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. Again, it's an approximation of the recipe that I would make now, since the actual Test Kitchen recipe didn't taste so great - chicken was really tasty, but sauce was more like a creamy tomato sauce with a little spice.

Ingredients - Marinade
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper
2 pounds organic chicken thighs
2 Minced Garlic Cloves
1 Tblsp Grated Fresh Ginger (peeled
- about 2 medium pieces of ginger for the sauce and marinade)
1 cup Whole Milk Yogurt
1 tblsp Vegetable Oil

Ingredients - Sauce
1 medium onion finely minced
1 tsp of tomato paste
2 Minced Garlic Cloves
2 Tblsp Grated Fresh Ginger (peeled)
2 serrano chiles finely minced
2 Tblsp of garam masala (make sure this has chiles - the brand I bought was National and didn't have Chiles...tasted more like Pakistani food, than Indian food)
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp of sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
2 cups cilantro leaves sliced

1) Rinse and dry the chicken - remove skin and fat. Combine cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, pinch salt and pepper and sprinkle over the chicken.

2) Combine the rest of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside for 1 hour in the fridge.
3) After 1 hour, remove the chicken from the fridge. Set oven to broil. After 15 minutes, dip the chicken in the yogurt marinade. Shake of the excess marinade and place the chicken on tray in the oven. Once it gets brown on all sides (20 minutes), remove from heat and pull apart chicken meat after 15 minutes.
4) Set some water in a large pot to boil
5) Over medium heat in separate saute pan, cook onions until soft and golden (8 minutes) in a large sauce pan.

6) Add tomato paste and cook another 5 minutes
7) Add chiles, ginger, garlic, and garam masala and cook for 1 minute.
8) Add crushed tomatoes and sugar and cook for 15 minutes.
9) Cook pasta in the large pot with boiling water. As usual cook pasta 2 minutes before done and taste (or feel) until it's just under al dente.
10) Cut heat on the curry sauce to simmer, stir the cream into the sauce and add shredded chicken. Taste. If it needs more Indian flavor, add more garam masala. If it needs more heat, add extra chiles or cayenne pepper. Sweeter, add more sugar. Remember to always taste and tweak.
11) Add pasta to the sauce and a little pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce. Add the cilantro leaves.

Crispy Chicken Skin
With the excess chicken skin, I made crispy chicken skin which as our buddy Pat mentioned was so wrong, yet so tasty. Basically, dry the chicken skins and salt and pepper them and toss them on a tray in a 400 degree oven. Make sure to keep an eye on them, since they will burn before you know it. Turn after one side is very crispy 10-15 minutes. Once it's crispy all over, remove from the oven and salt and pepper again. This is basically like chicharron (pork rinds, but for chicken)...crispy, salty, and fatty. Like potato chips on chicken steroids.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and Bratwursts...
That's what comes to mind during the summer holidays.

So on this Memorial Day, I had some friends over for some good 'ol backyard classics :
Hillshire bratwursts with caramelized onions, homemade salsa and chips, and a ton of beer.
Good times.

Cooking Tip : After sauteeing the onions and getting them nice and translucent, add the brats and get all that goodness cooking together.
After about 2 minutes, dump in 2 oz of your favorite beer in and mix the liquid into the onions. The steam will cook the brats and flavor them with that good beer flavor, not to mention your onions are now amazingly caramelized and also received a huge flavor injection as well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Daniel's Braised Short Ribs - Recipe

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine with Celery Duo

from Restaurant Daniel and from Daniel Boulud's Café Boulud Cookbook

The Short Ribs:

  • 3 bottles dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • Flour for dredging
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, split, rinsed, and dried
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped, washed, and dried
  • 6 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 quarts unsalted Beef Stock or store-bought low-sodium beef broth
  • Freshly ground white pepper

    1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is hot, carefully set it aflame, let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by half. Remove from the heat. 2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    3. Warm the oil in a Dutch oven or large casserole over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and crushed pepper. Dust half the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour and then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on a side, until the ribs are well browned. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate, dust the remaining ribs with flour, and sear in the same manner. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium, and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, for 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute to blend.

    4. Add the reduced wine, browned ribs and stock to the pot. Bring to the boil, cover the pot closely, and slide it into the oven to braise 2 1/2 hours, or until the ribs are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. Every 30 minutes or so, lift the lid and skim and discard whatever fat may have bubbled up to the surface. (Not only can you make this a day in advance, it¹s best to make the recipe up to this point, cool and chill the ribs and stock in the pan, and, on the next day, scrape off the fat. Rewarm before continuing.)

    5. Carefully (the tender meat falls apart easily) transfer the meat to a heated serving platter with raised rims and keep warm. Boil the pan liquids until they thicken and reduce to approximately 1 quart. Season with salt and pepper and pass through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the solids. (The ribs and sauce can be made a few days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350 degrees F oven.)
  • Friday, May 23, 2008

    Boston Market

    A quick lunch today.
    Had to make an emergency run to the city and quickly booked out of there.
    I drove by a Boston Market and pulled in. I hadn't had BM since high school, when it was still called Boston Chicken.

    The only problem I have with them is that I know my money is going to Teresa Heintz and that really pisses me off.
    There's something seriously wrong with that woman.
    Talk about marrying well.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

    Food imports 'to top $1 trillion' - BBC News

    The amount of money being spent globally on importing food is set to top $1 trillion (£528bn) in 2008, an influential report estimates.

    Soaring food prices are the cause of the huge bill - likely to be up 26% on the 2007 total - said the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

    The most economically vulnerable countries will bear the biggest burden, the report said, with costs rising 40%.

    Wheat prices have risen sharply in recent months
    Record wheat production is expected in 2008, the FAO said.

    But the FAO said there were signs that some food prices were starting to fall.

    In its analysis, the FAO said that developing countries have felt the cost of food inflation far more than wealthier nations.

    "Rice has caught the headlines in recent weeks, but from dairy to wheat and soybeans to sugar, price spikes and market volatility appear to have become more the norm than the exception," the report said.

    "Soaring food prices have led to serious difficulties, especially for vulnerable population groups that spend a substantial part of their incomes on food."

    Low exports

    The FAO said that there were signs that some food prices were beginning to fall, and that more declines were possible in the coming months.

    Graph of food price change sin 2007/2008
    Most computers will open this document automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader

    But it said prices were "unlikely" to return to the low levels of previous years - largely because of the higher costs associated with food production, primarily fuel.

    The need to replenish stocks and the expected greater consumption - or utilisation - of crops, meant that demand would stay high, the report added.

    "The most influential development in pushing up international prices of basic food has been the low level of exportable supplies resulting from utilization outstripping production for several crops in a number of major exporting countries."

    A huge increase in planting wheat - as growers were tempted by high returns - meant the 2008 harvest was likely to be a record, the FAO said.

    This has helped bring down prices in recent weeks, though it warned that any unexpected fall in production could leave the market in a "precarious situation".

    It also forecast that rice prices may fall, especially if governments are encouraged to lift trade restrictions because of bumper crops.

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Borough & Bar Stuzzichini

    I met up Aramis, D'Artagnan, and Maximus for drinks tonight at Borough, then dinner at Bar Stuzzichini.
    Aramis had to jet after the first half due to obligations. And lucky for him.
    His go-to Italian / Pasta joint totally let us down tonight.

    Both destinations are not recommended, but Borough really topped the cake. A total train-wreck.

    First of all, Borough (which is a Chodorow establishment) is terribly managed and the service is something of a nightmare. I got attitude for wanting a table even though the place was 80% vacant.
    The location is formerly Caviar and Bananas and before that, the highly publicized eatery, Rocco.
    I'm convinced, anything Chodorow will suck and totally leave you feeling robbed of your money.

    Borough - Not Recommended
    12 E. 22nd St.
    New York, NY 10010
    nr. Broadway

    Then there was Bar Stuzzichini. We started the meal strong. A great bottle of red from Puglia, and a myriad of tapas like dishes for the table to share. The mood changed drastically when the entrees came out. Everyone at our table was quite disappointed with their entree.
    This is unfortunate because the apps were actually quite good.

    Bar Stuzzichini - Not Recommended
    (formerly location for Komegashi)
    928 Broadway
    NY, NY 10010
    Phone: (212) 780-5100
    Fax: (212) 388-1116


    Odeon Brasserie - NYC
    (Corner of Broadway and Thomas)
    Highly Not Recommended

    I was in between meetings down in tribeca and walked by this joint.
    I've heard about them for a long time but never took the initiative to go check them out.
    Well, the lack of effort was fortuitous. There is no need to eat here.

    The food is out dated and not very fun. For a place to operate on its reputation, this customer was highly disappointed.

    The croque monsieur was average at best but completely under portioned for the $15 they charged. It was half the size of a sleeve of golf balls and overly salty.

    Oh well, better luck next time.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

    Follow up by the NY Times

    Ban Lifted, Foie Gras Is Back on the Menu in Chicago

    previous related article

    Published: May 15, 2008

    CHICAGO — Foie gras, run out of town with great fanfare two years ago, is being allowed back.

    M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

    Beyond the foie gras itself, a peek into city politics, as the ban was reversed on Wednesday without debate.

    On Wednesday, Chicago’s aldermen voted, 37 to 6, to repeal their ban on sales of the controversial delicacy, the fattened livers of ducks and geese. Since 2006, when this became the first major city in the United States to enact such a ban, it had been mocked by critics, including Mayor Richard M. Daley, who wondered whether aldermen should really be devoting precious time to telling Chicagoans what to eat.

    The banning — and subsequent un-banning — of foie gras here seemed to say more about classic Chicago politics than it did about dinner.

    One alderman, Joe Moore, who has long fought to outlaw the sales, arguing that foie gras is a product of animal cruelty, angrily denounced what he said was the sudden use during Wednesday’s council meeting of an obscure political rule to dump the ban without debate. Mr. Moore said he tried, pleaded, yelled to be allowed to speak, but Mr. Daley did not call on him.

    “This is a sad day for good government in Chicago,” Mr. Moore said later, adding that he believed many of his colleagues had simply been embarrassed by the crush of national attention. “There was a feeling among many that they just didn’t want to deal with this anymore.”

    But another alderman, Tom Tunney, a restaurant owner who pressed for the repeal, accused supporters of the ban of some equally fancy political maneuvering. When the aldermen voted 48 to 1 to outlaw foie gras in April 2006, it was part of a larger package of items, Mr. Tunney said, and some aldermen (including, he said, himself) did not even realize that they were approving the ban until it was too late.

    In the end, some restaurateurs here agree, Chicago may have spent more time talking about foie gras than many of its residents ever did eating it.

    Hill Country part III

    Here are some pics I snapped yesterday.
    Yes, I went back for more.
    And yes, the Brisket was just as magical as it was 3 days ago...