Forget Those Fools and Get Yourself Some of These Fries!

So on another Foodie Adventure this week. Actually it’s a work trip to learn more about our office database system (wooooo!) so technically I’m being paid to learn and take notes and present and stuff. But it would be a total shame for them to send me all the way down to New Orleans and NOT have me eat myself silly every day.

And here begins the tale of how I ended up wearing nothing decent eating the best french fries on Earth watching “Game of Thrones”. Just a warning, there are no pictures for this post because that would change the ratings on this blog and I’m not sure I can uphold that level of indecent excitement on a regular basis

I arrived in NOLA last night already exhausted from the weird flight patterns and shuttle ride and the whole it being the end of a long week thing. It wasn’t a good look for me. So the universe decided I needed a treat and the hotel I was booked in for the conference had gone and overbook itself. Why? Wrestle Mania. I think that speaks for itself.

In all the need for hitting the ultimate profit margin my room had been given away and as recompense I was given a lovely corner suite on the 18th floor with free internet for the rest of the week. Needless to say, after a full night’s sleep I came back to my senses and trolloped around the room in a towel watching cartoons while researching where to go find breakfast. I settled on the apparently not-so-small-in-reputation Cafe Beignet around the corner from my hotel where I had myself a lovely breakfast of rather little import as well as a beignet offered to me by a nice gentleman sharing my table who is in town for an even bigger conference than mine.

After that there was some work to be done on my other-other job (there are new blogs in my repertoire these day in the line of “guerrilla activism” for an area to which I am greatly endeared: hating stupid people) before an afternoon session clicking around in a database I spend almost 60 hrs a week in learning how to register people for meetings and charging them lots of money to make me. Muahahahaha! Gimme all your money!

Aaaaanyways. Long boring story shorter there was a big reception in a super cool art gallery where I forced myself to say hello to a bunch of strangers (so not my style), check out the food (lines were way too long for little bowls of things), thinking about booze (but not drinking any because of recent issues with headaches). Talked to some lovely folks in Law and Alzheimers (different groups) and then headed back to the hotel to switch into my comfy clothes that make me look like I’m about 10 years younger than I actually am–not the most helpful thing when I already look about 8 years younger than I actually am– and planned a mini-adventure.

I’d been looking up places on Yelp a couple days before coming down south and noticed this kind of random looking place with some interesting ratings on french fries. So I decided to make a little jaunt to what I thought was fairly close only to find that I was about to be working off the food before I’d even gotten it. I walked down some dark alleys behind where all the action takes place at night. Got a little worried when I realized I looked like a teenaged girl wandering around neighborhoods with no streetlights and low traffic but it seemed decent enough and no one raped or mugged me so Yay!

Well there I was just walked down this dark street surrounded by all this cool architecture with the shutters all closed up and thinking I’d be back in civilization soon because it looked like the place I was headed would be near something. Wrong! It looked like any other house on the corner with light coming out of windows partially blocked with the kind of dry goods and detergents you find in small places on the side of deserted highways. Inside seemed kind of seedy with a glassed in cashier area protecting the cigarette’s and lottery tickets. And wouldn’t you know it the lady running the cashier is Vietnamese. It is called Quarter Grocery & Deli and it is located HERE:

Map

But the fries… Yeah. They’re the best fries I think I’ve ever had in my life. And that’s saying something.

They were super hot, had a crunchy coating, and we soft and fluffy in the middle. They were so hot, in fact, that they were still hot and crispy when I got the remainder of my precious cargo back to my hotel room where clothes were shed, ketchup packets were ripped open, and HBO was turned on. Yep, this is going to be a good trip.

In-Your-Face Goodness

This morning on the way to work we were a bit early so decided to make a quick stop at a Whole Foods so my chauffeur could pick up some salad for breakfast. Meanwhile, I traipsed right up to the chocolate aisle and browsed for a bar to keep on my desk to nibble on during the day. Because once I get started on my spreadsheets I get up to refill my coffee in the break room and go to the bathroom. Having a lunch break is for those who don’t know what properly organized data looks like.

And in times like these there was only one chocolate bar that could do the job…

Barcelona Bar

I’m not a fan of most chocolates over 65% cacao. This one is 45% and milk chocolate, which I find to be smoother and more enjoyable on a regular chocolate day as opposed to a time that calls for slightly more drastic measures. And unlike a lot of other chocolates this one has a balanced flavor as opposed to these over the top, teeth grittingly sweet options you usually find out there.

And of course in the process of finding good quality photos of the bar of chocolate that kept me and my cubicle mates company all afternoon I found out there’s a place called “Barcelona” in DC that I know need to try out when the weather is more forgiving to one’s human sensitivities.

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

French Toast Heaven Has Been Found!

Founding Farmers - Rockville

Founding Farmers – Rockville: Also known fondly as, that place where the food is amazing and yes we can definitely go back there. (Follow link to restaurant website)

Ranting about good food is just a built in part of my nature at this point. And I’m sure I’ve ranted about Founding Farmers before because I’ve been there several times and taken people there from out of town because, well, it’s impressive and I like making sure that visitors to DC remember it fondly, especially as a foodie capitol (which it most definitely is in my book).

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that my parents aren’t big fans of going out to eat. Why? Because they are sure to tell me every time I go out that they think it’s a waste. Although, usually it’s my dad saying that and my mom wonders out loud why she doesn’t ever get to go out somewhere nice… And I feel bad sometimes because they don’t do stuff like that mostly because they’re busy paying for our house and (yes we only have one) car. Oh, and have I mentioned that my little brother is rather expensive on the upkeep costs? He’s still young enough that being supported is acceptable but still. Children are expensive.

But with my dad gone and my mom pulling all-nighters to get this work done for Yemen she hasn’t been in much of a mood to cook so if we’re at home I’ve been doing it or we’ve been eating up leftovers. And on Sunday we had to do a bit of driving to get my brother to a competition and my mom decided that we would be eating out that day. So we arranged to stop at Founding Farmers at their Rockville location (near my Gma’s house) on the way back home.

Can I hear a “Best Idea EVER!”, please? I had, as of Sunday, never actually made it to any Founding Farmers (or sister restaurants) before  for brunch. I had tried twice before but due to some flooding–or inclement weather or some such nonsense out of their control–they had always ended up closing and so no brunch for me. Until Sunday…

Having been to their DC restaurant several times before I new the majority of the regular menu and was glad that one of the few times I’d managed to get a parent to one of my favorite restaurants that they had a really good vegetarian selection. We also had another friend with us for the weekend who happened to be vegetarian as well so that worked out nicely. And I don’t eat a lot of meat and if I do rarely for brunch because I like waffles and stuff and meat and waffles is a line I’m not really ready to cross and I doubt I ever will. Eggs, sure. But that’s about it. My brother on the other hand, has completely gone off the deep end and embraced his caveman roots and does eat rather a lot more meat than the rest of us.

We started with the basics, their lovely bread with various dips and “smears” and fried green tomatoes (because those are one of the key arguments I had used to get my mom to go there in the first place. If you think I like fried green tomatoes… Guess who taught me to like them…? Actually it was my Gpa but it’s my mom’s dad and it’s all flows down the generations nicely like that).

I’m not going to go into all sorts of details about what everyone ordered because that would be annoying. I am, however, going to discuss what I ordered because I’ve become hyper aware that I’ve just been eating sub-par french toast for an incredibly long time and now I feel the need to right this wrong.

I ordered this:

Stuffed New Orleans Style French Toast

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Original – 8
  • Lillian’s Blueberry Compote- 10 {<– with this}
  • Bananas Foster – 10

and I’m pretty sure I will never again be able to eat regular plain french toast ever again. For those of you who don’t know, vanilla pastry cream is very similar to what they fill eclairs with. In fact I think it is what they fill eclairs with in theory but this was even better. It was very similar to a homemade custard with vanilla bean (as opposed to that smooth gelatin-y stuff you find in a Boston Cream doughnut).

Now, I know I won’t be able to properly recreate this without some serious time and effort and possible some kitchen equipment that I don’t yet own. But progress is still possible. For instance I just looked up a compote recipe and this is the only one with a decent pictures. It is on pancakes which makes me sad because… well they are pancakes, but not sad enough to prevent me from sharing.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

“Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote” from KitchenDaily

And here’s a video for making a pastry cream that I think looks about right: Pastry Cream Recipe from Joy the Baker.

So we’re working towards something similar at least. Now to figure out how to make the bread (which is really more like fluffy cake) into the  right shape and get the cream inside…. That will take more work but I’m sure a combination in the right quantities and some creative eating can get me close enough to say that I’m on the right track.

 

Ass-Pear-A-Goose

Linguine with Asparagus and Egg

“Linguine with Asparagus and Egg” from Martha Stewart’s Asparagus Recipes Pinterest Board

Say what you will about Martha Stewart but that woman(‘s people) know her(/their) gastroporn. All the massive piles of pork aside, her recipes are often clean and include ingredients that I often approve of. One of my many resource lists generated her “Asparagus Recipes” Pinterest Board and I really like asparagus. Had some just yesterday for Easter Lunch. Easiest way to prepare Asparagus is to just lay them out on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and bake at 375 F for about 25 minutes with a quick shake/turn somewhere in the middle. I usually add the lemon to the tray (cut side down) and it adds a nice garnish at the end that’s useful for those who like a little extra zest on their asparageese.

Vegetarian?

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

So the other day the above photograph showed up as a post from America’s Test Kitchen. The post read something like polenta is a vegetarian option blah blah blah being a vegetarian is no fun because then you have to eat polenta blah blah…

In case it isn’t apparent, I don’t like polenta. It makes this sort of dry hard lumpy mass of grits meets cream of wheat and I don’t like any of those above descriptors. Now, maybe you like polenta. That’s up to you and your taste buds. But I do not and I also do not like people bashing on vegetarianism. Yes, I do love goat curry and satay and yes, I do occasionally enjoy a good burger. But I was a vegetarian until I was 17 and my mom let my dad take me on a trip to Africa instead of attending my high school graduation and my dad was NOT raised a vegetarian and I was told I was old enough to try for myself and make a decision. So I tried lots of things and I decided I was no longer strictly a vegetarian. Still don’t like chicken much, however.

There seems to still be some sort of stigma attached to vegetarian cooking these days that just seems silly. While I eat meat occasionally I almost never (and I mean NEVER) cook meat at home. I’m sure I could if I had to in order to save my family from murderers but that’s about it.

My brain tends to run a mile (or two) a minute so between seeing that post yesterday and now I’ve been thinking a lot about goo resources for vegetarian cooking that makes it both appealing and non-disgusting looking. I’ve seen a lot of craptastic vegetarian food and I would never wish that on any of you.

In some of my musings and milling aboutness on the internet I saw a few cookbooks that I have previewed and which, I feel, seem somewhat promising. The first one is “Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes” by Martha Stewart. Say what you will about the woman but she’s got a decent set of gastroporn in her back pocket and I often approve of it.

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

The biggest problem of eating vegetarian is that too many people try to REPLACE meat with something that isn’t meat and try to pass it off as meat. Stop. Don’t do that. Once you start trying to replace your meat with a “meat-like” mass, you’re doomed.

Check out this burger:

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

“Spicy Black Bean Burgers” from Skinnytaste.com

No meat, no problem.

Being vegetarian or vegan can sometimes come with religious or spiritual backgrounds but for a lot of people it’s a fad or a phase. Like “I’m so cool because I’m a… Vegetarian…” (insert some over the top facial expressions and maybe even a hair flip  in there somewhere). The problem with that is that you take it seriously for a while then you get these cravings and it’s all over. So better not to do that.

Of course their are health benefits to cutting out meat in the average diet. If you want any of these benefits it’s like using that exercise machine. Doing it all in a week then sitting on the sofa the rest of the month isn’t going to help your fat ass get any sexier. Although some people have a sexy fat ass… I think you all are much smarter than the majority of students I have to deal with and can figure out for yourself what you need to do.

A Sandwich to Write Home About

 

Poste - Lunch Menu

Poste – Lunch Menu

Finally made it into DC during Restaurant Week and actually went to a restaurant that was participating.

The link above leads you to the lunch menu for Poste. I tried a variety of items (with a friend) but the absolute eye sparkly moment of wondertude was the “Smoked Duck Reuben”. I love me a good Reuben sandwich and this one is at the top of my list.