Tuesday, December 30, 2008
First off, we ordered and then they brought us a yummy basket of tomato rosemary bread- it was a pretty pink color and surprisingly sweet. Delicious.
Shortly after, our food arrived! I order Eggs Florentine, which were perfectly cooked. The yolks of the poached eggs practically melted into the fresh baby spinach and lightly toasted English muffin underneath. The hollandaise sauce was not as heavy nor thick as other ones I'd had, but was just a nice mellow, buttery addition to the savory, salty egg yolk and spinach combo. Also, there wasn't a lake of hollandaise, but a nice splash.
The fries were somewhat crisp (inconsistent here with some more crunchy than others) and salty, and tasted like they had been cooked in peanut oil, so they were on the greasier side but were a little bit nutty. The homemade ketchup was sweeter and thinner than Heinz ketchup, but it went well with my eggs.
Travis' food, though, was another story. He ordered the frittata, which came with brie, shitake mushrooms, zucchini, and red peppers. Unlike other frittatas I've eaten, this one was dry, with minimal moisture, and was very thin. The eggs were far too cooked for my liking, and the brie distribution wasn't consistent - some bites had way too much brie and others not enough, leaving Travis to semi-deconstruct his meal in order to have veggies, cheese, and eggs in each bite. Not something either of us would ever order again.
His fries, of course, just as good as mine.
All in all, if it was just based off of what I ate, I'd happily give this place a solid 2 out of 3 JAMs, as my eggs and fries were delicious, the bread basket was really unexpectedly good, and the service and price (my meal was about $20 including tax and tip and a hot apple cider) decent.
With Travis' terrible frittata though, I give this place a cautionary 1 1/2 JAMs. We will have to go in once more for additional sampling to determine if it should really be a 1.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
2 Amys offers Neopolitan pizza. This is not just any Neopolitan pizza. These pizzas are prepared in the traditional Italian method: using soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water, and sea salt for the dough; and italian plum tomatoes, mozarella di bufala, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil or oregano for the toppings. It is only those pizzas prepared in this manner that are granted Denominazione di Origine Controllata status by the Italian government.
We arrived for lunch around noon and the place was already packed (If you come on Sunday, you also have the option of ordering their homemade doughnuts - they smelled amazing). Fortunately they were able to seat us upstairs within five minutes of our arrival. Jenny and Ariel had been to 2 Amys previously and really wanted Malia to try this pizza. Besides the classic Margherita, they also offer pizzas with different toppings. Jenny had ordered the "Norcia" - the last time we were here - a pie topped with tomatoes, salami, grilled peppers, mozarella, and grana. She and I decided to split this pizza and the Arugula pizza.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
We decided to kick the night off with some beverages - a pistachio shake, and a couple mango lassis. These refreshing beverages were meant to be enjoyed with spicy food. The beautiful seafoam green beverage was slightly sweet with a wonderful pistachio flavor. The mango lassi was smooth, but not too thick - a tropical delight.
Kashmir offers a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetarian options. Each of us ordered a separate entree, but we ended up sharing a chickpea dish and the chicken tikka masala. I usually opt for the chicken tikka masala, which features chicken in a creamy tomato sauce (a safe 'American' option). This time, I wanted to try something different. I settled on a dish that would pay homage to my love of eggplant, Baigan Bharth
Friday, December 12, 2008
We started off the night with cocktail orders. Wildfire has an array of signature drinks, as well as a wine and beer list. Ariel decided to go with the pomegranate martini, while Natalie chose the blackberry margarita. I settled on the passion fruit mojito and Michael opted for the bold Manhattan. Aside from the Manhattan, everyone agreed the drinks were fruity, not too sweet and had just the right kick from the alcohol.
Once the drinks arrived, we ordered our meals. Michael decided to get a regular entree item with a soup starter. He chose the french onion soup and sirloin steak sandwich. The rest of us went with the $35 meal deal. We all had the butternut squash soup to begin with, because who can resist this sweet and creamy gourd? The soup was more savory than sweet, but very creamy and the buttery flavor of the squash came through, as well as salty notes from the cheese, and a kick from the added garlic. Michael was equally pleased with his French Onion Soup. The oozy, melty cheese layer and the smell of caramelized onions said it all. It was a winner.
Next came the salad course. Natalie and I chose Wildfire's Signature Salad which comes with mixed greens, hearts of palm, carrots, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and croutons. This was one hearty salad! Natalie and I had to stop ourselves from eating it all to save room for the main course. Ariel and Travis ordered the caesar salad, which they seemed to enjoy as well.
While we were waiting for our entrees, a funny thing happened. Ariel and I began taking pictures of everything from our drinks to salads for the blog, as per usual when we dine out. This time, however, our waitress noticed and asked us what we were doing. We proceeded to tell her about our blog and in a flash the manager was at our table asking us about the blog and making sure our meal was going well. Needless to say we got the star treatment that night. Ariel and I felt like celebrities! Okay, we didn't get anything for free, but it made us think we should mention this blog more often!
After soup, salad and an entree, we were all stuffed! But dessert was part of the deal, and like I always say, "there's always room for dessert!" Natalie, Travis and Ariel ordered the seasonal pumpkin pie, while I opted for the chocolate molten cake.
The chocolate cake was moist and very chocolatey, but the center wasn't very molten. The ice cream was rich and creamy and the chocolate and caramel sauces added to the decadence, but all in all it wasn't anything too special (That doesn't mean I didn't lick my plate clean!) The real winner though was the pumpkin pie. I got a bite of Natalie's and it was the best freakin' pumpkin pie I'd ever tasted. The pumpkin filling was full of pumpkiny goodness, with just the right amount of spice and it was oh so creamy and smooth. The thick layer of whipped cream was just sweet enough and so light and airy. Heavenly! We waddled our way over to the theater and staved off food comas to take in the movie Twilight. (Worth it just to look at dreamy Rob Pattinson, ladies!)
2.5 out of 3 JAMs
1714 U International Drive
McLean, VA 22102
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, serving 8 to 10
6 to 7 (2½ pounds) medium to large Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled,
cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (JAM note: I used 4 Granny Smith, 2 Stamen, and 1 Golden Delicious)
¹⁄³ cup (2¼ ounces) or more sugar, either granulated or firmly packed brown sugar, plus 1
to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar for sprinkling (JAM note: I used half white and half light brown sugar)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¹⁄8 teaspoon allspice
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Preheat the oven to 400°F and position an oven rack in the lower third. Following the
instructions in Step 7 on page 178, transfer one rolled-out circle of pie or tart dough to a 9-inch pie pan and the other to a baking sheet. Chill them until ready to use.
tablespoons. In the large bowl, gently toss the apples with the ¹⁄³ cup sugar (or more),
the lemon juice, cinnamon, and allspice until evenly coated.
Trim the dough in the pie pan so it is flush with the rim. Transfer the filling to the pie shell and press down firmly on the apples with the spatula to eliminate some of the air pockets. Scrape any sugar or spices left in the bottom of the bowl over the top of the apples. Top with the other dough half, again following instructions for transferring dough and decoratively crimping the edges. Chill for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the milk to create an egg wash and use
the pastry brush to lightly glaze the surface of the pie. Sprinkle the pie with 1 to 2
teaspoons sugar. Use a paring knife to cut 3 or 4 decorative slits in the pie to allow steam to escape (or use a mini cookie cutter to make cuts in the dough). Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes, until the crust is a lovely golden brown and the apples are bubbling and tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. (JAM note: My oven cooks things fast, I only baked the pie for a little under 50 minutes) Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 40 to 60 minutes.
Storing: The pie will keep at room temperature under a cake dome for up to 2 days. For longer storage, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reheat in a 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes to warm the filling and re-crisp the crust.
butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water (JAM note: I doubled the recipe so I could have two pie shells)
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons sugar (omit for a savory crust)
¼ teaspoon salt
Place the butter pieces in a bowl or on a plate and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate the water in a small cup until needed.
Mix the dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Process for 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6 to 10 times (in 1-second bursts), until the butter and flour mixture looks like crushed crackers and peas. (JAM note: I used my hands to mix the dough, which is a bit more difficult, but still doable)
Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture to the large bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and “fluff” it in, then add another, and another, until 3 tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 or 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, you need to test it for the correct moisture content. Take a handful of the mixture and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl then add more water, one teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately stirring or mixing it in. Test again before adding any more water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step. (Note: Adding the liquid may also be done on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment—add three-fourths of the liquid, test for moistness, then add the remaining liquid if needed.)
Knead and chill the dough: Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently 3 to 6 times. If it won’t come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of water (one at a time), mixing in as above, and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6- or 7-inch disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows time for the dough to hydrate fully and for the butter to firm up again.
Roll the dough: If the dough has been refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, it may be very firm and hard and will crack if you try to roll it. Let it sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes until it is malleable but still cold. Dust your work surface generously with flour and set the disk on the flour. Dust the top with flour. Roll, turning the dough, until you’ve got a 14- to 15-inch circle about ¹⁄8 inch thick. If at any point the dough becomes warm and sticky, gently fold it into quarters, unfold it onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until the butter is firm again.
If a crack or hole forms while rolling, brush any flour away and patch the area according to the instructions above.
Transfer the dough: Fold the dough circle into quarters, brushing off any excess flour as you fold. Put the point of the folded dough in the center of the pie pan, tart pan, or baking sheet and unfold the dough, lifting it slightly as necessary to ease it into the crevices of the pan. Do not stretch or pull the dough, which can cause thin spots, holes, and/or shrinkage during baking.
Trim the dough: Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough so it overhangs the edge of the pan by 1 inch. Fold the overhanging dough under itself around the pan edge, then crimp or form a decorative border. Chill for 30 minutes before baking. (JAM note: I just used a knife to cut off an excess edges of dough).
Storing The dough can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or double-wrapped in plastic, slipped into a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 1 month.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I brought some in for my coworkers as a Thanksgiving treat and they all enjoyed it (though obviously if you are not a fan of pumpkin pie, this pumpkin bread might not be your JAM). We ate it during the morning as a breakfast but certainly it could serve as a not so sweet dessert (probably delicious served warmed with ice cream).
Pumpkin Bread (makes 1 loaf)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan (9x5).
Whisk together in a medium bowl:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp grated or ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/3 cup water or milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- Once the butter and sugar are fluffy and well combined, add in 2 eggs, one at a time, and beat on low until well blended.
- While still beating on low, add in 1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree.
- Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, while beating on low, being sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl. Beat until smooth.
- Fold in 1/2 cup dried cranberries.
- Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly, ensuring batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour.
- Let cool in pan for 5 to 10 mins before unmolding. Cool completely before cutting.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I hope you all are not sick of soup yet, because I am still obsessed with eating a warm bowl of the stuff on a cold day. I don't know how many of you have leftover chicken broth and sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, but if you do this recipe will serve you nicely.
I have had a hankering for lentil soup ever since my coworker, Jennifer, got a bowl at Cosi. I hadn't made lentil soup in awhile, but knew from previous experiences that working with these legumes is fairly simple, especially if you get the red lentils (JAM Note: the red lentils have had their husk removed which shortens cooking time).
I looked up a recipe I had saved from an old washington post article. I went to the store to pick up some ingredients: an onion, cumin, and those red lentils. Of course, the store had no red lentils, so I picked up some green instead. I also forgot the cumin!
I essentially improvised, using the recipe I had seen as inspiration. I sauteed diced onion in a pot with some olive oil. When that started to carmelize, I added one sweet potato (JAM Note: chopped into 1" pieces) and two cloves of garlic. I then rinsed 8 oz of green lentils and added them and along with 16 oz of chicken broth. I threw in some salt, pepper, and chilli powder and brought the mixture up to a boil. Then I cover the pot and let it simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours (JAM Note: or until the lentils are soft).
The flavor of the chicken broth really made these lentils outstanding. They were salty and just a lil smoky. The cumin would have been a nice touch - I will remember that next time. The sweetness of the onion and potato really complimented the lentils nicely. A little extra spiciness might be nice -maybe some extra chilli powder or red pepper flakes could have been added. But overall this dish is simple and hearty. I will be eating this the next couple of days!
2 out of 3 JAMs
But when I heard about Pinkberry taking coffee off the menu and replacing it with pomegranate, I definitely knew I wanted to check it out!
I selected a medium pomegranate with cookies 'n cream, chocolate chips, and strawberries, as after sampling it thought its more tart flavor would not go well with my usual choice, mango. The yogurt itself is more tart than the regular flavor, and there is just a hint of pomegranate flavor, not overpowering at all. The texture is identical. It went best with the chocolate chips and chocolate cookies, as at times the strawberries clashed with the yogurt's flavor.
While it's not as good as coffee (though Travis would argue that it's much better), I give it a 2 1/2 JAMs out of 3, definitely worth trying especially if you like your Pinkberry with sweet (like cookies) toppings.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
We drove into DC to the Penn Quarter location. Although I have yet to see the Lafayette Station location, I believe the Penn Quarter restaurant to be the nicest. It is artfully decorated with japanese prints, bamboo screens, and my favorite - a koi pond!