Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ben's Chili Bowl

There are some eateries in DC that are legendary, and Ben's Chili Bowl ranks high on the list.

It's popular amongst foodies: Anthony Bourdain, Adam Richman, and President Obama, just to name a few. One is also likely to see pictures of Bill Cosby splattered all over the place, if not the man himself.

Most importantly, the chili itself is oh-so-good. Whether served on top of fries, or on a classic half-smoke hot dog, it truly hits the spot. Heck, just order up a dip on its own.

After all, not everyone gets a street named after them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chicken and Waffles at Marvin

Inspired by Marvin Gaye, bringing together his roots from down South with his brief, but beloved, stay in Belgium, Marvin in DC offers a wide array of all kinds of comfort foods, from Mussels & Frites and Housemade Pate to Shrimp & Grits and Fried Oysters.

And while everything on the menu is a foodie's dream come true, I'm here today to talk to you about one shining star in particular:  Country Fried Chicken and Waffles.

Now I know, I know - Chicken and Waffles?!  I was a skeptic at first, too.  But trust me, there is something magical about this combination, and Marvin nails it.  Served atop collard greens with a small, light gravy, the crispy fried chicken is cooked to tender perfection.

Add just a touch of syrup, and dig in!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Inauguration of the POTUS

It comes around every 4 years, and oh what a time it is.  Inauguration Day, or weekend for that matter, never fails to excite the city of Washington, and those that travel in from near or far.

It starts off with all of the balls, both official and unofficial. 

The city is decorated everywhere with red, white, and blue.

And of course the National Mall sports plenty of patriotic pride.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Spring Mill Bread Company

If you are in the DC area and looking for a dynamite sandwich, I recommend you make your way over to Spring Mill Bread Company

Spring Mill is a slice of heaven (literally a slice - get it?).  Just step inside, take a sniff, and marvel in the aroma of the fresh loaves of bread baked daily.  It smells so good you can taste it.
Some of my favorites sandwiches are the freshly roasted turkey, a classic PB&J, or the Hummus sandwich with your choice of veggies - lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots, and even add some basil!  I like mine toasted.  Yum.

Each sandwich is packaged up nicely in a foil wrapping so you can easily take it to go, where ever you may be headed.  Grab a seat down the street at a nearby picnic bench and dig in.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Readying your Pizza Dough

It took multiple trial and error sessions to learn how to turn that glob of pizza dough into a nice round, flat circle.  At first, the dough was temperamental and not at all cooperative (at least from my perspective).  I'd tug and pull and it would just break apart.  Frustrating. 

Then I realized that it might have had something to do with - I'll go ahead and say it - me.  Or rather, my method.  I was too impatient, expecting to pull the ball right out of the fridge and have it miraculously form into a perfect pie in seconds, and without much work.  Wrong.  Everything needs a little TLC and pizza dough is no exception.  So, I learned to change my ways:

Golden Rule #1 - Let the dough get to room temperature.  Now I'm no scientist, but there is something behind the elasticity of the dough that makes it harder to stretch if it's cold.  So, let your dough sit for about 30 minutes before you start playing with it.

Golden Rule #2 - Flour is your friend.  Take some bread flour or all-purpose flour to powder your surface before stretching out the dough.  Flour your table, your dough, your hands; be liberal.

Golden Rule #3 -  When all else fails, grab for the Olive Oil.  I was in the kitchen and my dough kept tearing.  My head steaming, frowned face livid, I was about to reach for the number for delivery when I heard a friend's voice in my head (the same friend that ingeniously introduced me to the pizza stone), and desperately reached for the olive oil.  Phew - Dinner saved!

Apply just a touch of Olive Oil to a rolling pin, then just roll her out.  Rotate the dough every once in a while, and viola, it is the perfect circle. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Circa @ your Neighborhood, DC

Great for brunch, great for happy hour, great for dinner - have you visited your local Circa

It's good for all around everything.  The menu changes seasonally, but there are a few reliable "go-to"s that seem to continually make each rotation.  Of these, I give you my good old trustys:

Favorite Appetizer - Calamari Frito Misto - a fried calamari dish, plus some!
Favorite Brunch - She said Egg White Omelet, He said Eggs Benedict
Favorite Lunch - Grilled Cheese (with or without ham)
Favorite Flatbread - BBQ Chicken
Favorite Drink - All of them!  I'm not joking.  They know how to mix up their cocktails.  But okay, okay, here are my top five fabs: Watermelon Cooler, Dark and Stormy, Pineapple Mojito, Blackberry Margarita, and the Foggy Bottom.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cafe Bonaparte and French Crepes

DC is just full of a multitude of French restaurants.  We're so spoiled.  So, you get to have favorites.  Your favorite place for Steak Frites, your favorite place for Ham & Cheese, your favorite place for Mussels, and of course, your favorite place for French crepes.  The latter favorite being Cafe Bonaparte.

Begin the night with one of their refreshing cocktails - the Pear Martini is my favorite!  It's the perfect aperitif ("before" meal) to end the day, but start the night.  Then, tease the taste buds with one of the many delicious appetizers. 

One can never go wrong with a classic French Onion soup, or a well crafted French-style salad.  The Mussels Belgian are delicious with that mustard cream sauce, perfect for dipping (order a side of Bonaparte fries to spoon up that sauce).  Also highly recommended are the sauteed calamari and the bruschetta.  And on my gosh, the risotto with asparagus and truffle oil, just divine.

And now, onto the crepes...  I greatly enjoy ordering up a savory crepe for my entree.  You've already had a drink (maybe two) and a lite bite, so the crepe is just the right accompaniment to fully satisfy your feast.  Some favorites - Budapest (beef with light cream), Marseille (chicken with red sauce), Mirabelle (shrimp with saffron sauce), or the uniquely Bonaparte Crepe Roll (seafood stuffed goodness).

 Then finish it off, of course as the Parisians would, with a digestif ("after" meal).  Order up an Amaretto, Grand Marnier, or one of their many tasty coffee or teas.  Heck, go ahead and combine the two with a Cafe De Paris - cappuccino with bailey's, amaretto, or frangelico.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kiehl's Shampoo and Conditioner

About a year ago I joined a fancy gym, and while I knew it would introduce me to some new exercises, I didn't realize it would introduce me to some lovely new-yet-old products.

Kiehl's has been around forever, or since 1851 to be exact.  It started as a single Pharmacy in the East Village of NYC.  Their concept is simple - let the product sell itself, no fancy packaging.

And the Amino Acid shampoo and Formula 133 conditioner surely do.  Again, Kiehl's motto is that the products sell themselves, so don't think too much into the names.  Give them a try, and hopefully you too will be head over heels with delight.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sushiko and Sushi

In DC we like to get our sushi fix at Sushiko.  Sushiko is always fresh and flavorful, and their roll combinations are just right.  Some of our favorites are the Tuna and Jalapeno Ura-maki roll, or Shrimp and Cilantro Ura-maki roll.  The Dragon Ura-maki roll with barbecue eel is really good, if you are into that kind of thing.  And of course, there is the California roll.  I recommend upping the ante and getting the genuine blue crab (only $1 extra) as opposed to the crab stick.

The original location is in Glover Park, but due to popular demand, they have opened up a second location in Friendship Heights.  While the ambiance does greatly differ (the original really isn't much to write home about), the food itself is superbly consistent.  Be it either location - Sushiko is highly recommended.

Added Bonus:  They deliver! within the immediate surrounding area.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ice Skating in Central Park

A couple of years ago we spent New Year's Eve in New York City. And while we didn't brave it through the ball drop in Times Square, it was of course the perfect place to ring in the new year.  We dined at one of Manhattan's many fine restaurants and took in all of the ambiance NYC has to offer.

We went skating in Central Park on New Year's Day.  Yes, it was a bit cliché, but it was so fun!

And those views!  How cool is that background?!

We had to be kids again, ordering up some hot chocolate (with whip!) and caramel apples.