Monday, November 16, 2009


With all the 'Zaytinya' rage via Top chef and various food blogs Justin and I decided that we absolutely MUST see what all the fuss is about.

Zaytinya is a Greek restaurant that serves 'mezze' meaning small plates (kind of like spanish tapas or chinese dim sum). I was really excited about this trip so I perused the menu before we went and picked out everything I wanted to get. Unfortuantely, as is the case with many restaurants, not everything that was on their on-line menu was actually being served the day we went.

It was terribly hard to get a reservation but we did using Open table and at least a week before (we tried last minute the weekend before that but they were booked solid!). This seemed a very good idea because though they accept walk-ins they will make you wait for awhile at the front door if you don't have a reservation, even if msot of the tables in the restaurant are empty (as we saw happened to other coupled when we walked in).

I love Mediterranean food and have done mezze before so I know whats worth the money and what isn't. Just remember, they always get you with the cheese and spreads that they offer. You can end up paying 7.00 for tzatziki when most of the other dishes that you order still come with a good few glops of tzatziki themselves. This also happens with the cheeses. Also, many mezze restaurants already give you dippers such as olive oil with balsamic (which was divine) or a roasted red pper spread (like at Cava). They also give you pita bread for free and keep refilling it-meaning that you dont have to spend 9.00 on flavored/seasoned/stuffed pita bread (pide).

Taking these things into account Justin and I started off with Kolokithokeftedes-zucchini and cheese patties with a caper yogurt sauce and one of their 'specials'-a play on spanokopita where it was phyllo dough stuffed with ground turkey meat, feta cheese and accompanied by some really bad mayonaises sauce (another version of tzatziki?). Anywho, the patties were soggy and not cheesy at all. The taste was bland and not something I would really want to eat again. The phyllo dough cigar tasted okay but it didn't seem at all greek and was nothing special (plus it had that gross sauce with it).

A little put out Justin and I moved onto the meats and ordered Kibbeh-beef and wheat fritters, almonds, pine nuts, currants, labneh, Shortrib Kapama-braised shortribs
spiced tomato stew, Hünkãr Begendi-traditional Turkish braised lamb shank eggplant kefalograviera purée.

We were being brave by ordering the fritter but it turned out to be my favorite dish of the night. They came out looking like little brown doughnuts, which were more crispy and bready, sweet and filled with pine nuts. They also came with a more tasty white tzaziki like sauce.

The shortrib kapama was tender but the 'spiced tomato stew' had no spices. it was like eating straight tomato sauce. Then the braised lamb shank, also tender, came with a sauce that could only be described as a creamy gravy (much too heavy)-Justin told me he thought it might do well on a thanksgiving turkey. I just kept asking myself if this place is really greek?

Feeling a bit putout and dissapointed Justin suggested we get another special-the fried potatoes stuffed with feta cheese on top of a cranberry sauce. I tried one and couldn't bring myself to eat a second but Justin seemed to enjoy them. They tasted bitter...

To end the night I was psyched to get the zaklava-which was on their website-crispy phyllo, hazelnut cream, chocolate ganache, honey-cardamom sause, labneh sorbet. However, it was NOT on the deset menu (I was crushed) so we got the Turkish Delight- walnut ice cream with Skotidakis Farm goat’s milk yogurt mousse, honey geleé, orange-caramel sauce, caramelized pine nuts. It was okay-the honey gelee was this weird chewy gelatin textured stuff. The icecream was good but it was icecream. Not worth $8.

Sigh. I dont know if maybe the cheeses and spreads are the only fantabulous things at Zaytinya so that I missed out on all the 'good' stuff. Next time I will just satisfy my Greek mezze craving with a trip to Cava in Rockville and thoroughly enjoy myself.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Potomac Pizza

If you want some advice about Potomac Pizza I have two words for you-DON'T GO! When I was younger I remember going there with a friend and thinking the pizza tasted ok but then gettign really sick after eating them. Since this happened a few times I ended my visits altogether until I decided to give it another shot tonight. Justin kept onn talking about how much he wanted to go and since all the other restaurants we had considered in the area were closed on a Sunday night we ended up at Potomac pizza wielding a $5 coupon and an appetite.

We were surrounded by a bunch of screaming crying out of control kids. Wow. Justin started to shrink in his seat and look around nervously, I might have actually detected some sweat if the place hadn't been freezing cold.

It took awhile to get the pizza and when it come out we noticed all the topppings we had asked for weren't there and we had to send it back. I got a side of tomato sauce to supplement my pizza, as i always to, and found it tasted like prego....The worst part of the meal, however, was the crust. I didn't know it was possible to create a tasteless crust, a crust that had no substance a crust that was compeltely and utterly boring. Wow. The cheese was similarly tasteless with a cheap stringy texture that did not please the senses.

We spent 25$ including tax and tip on a large pizza with a few toppings, drink and a $5 coupon. This was not a deal. This was paying too much for a pizza I would have passed up in favor of a domino's $5 medium or papa johns or even pizza hut pies. Sigh.

Just DON'T GO to Potomac Pizza.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Komi review

Ah Komi. One of the few restaurants in the Washington DC area to have the much coveted four star status-and I got to go there for my Birthday!

I am, of course, a devoted foodie and I kept on coming across tidbits about this restaurant (particularly from I mean, the place has just as many stars as the world renowned Inn at Little Washington and is almost as pricey-so it must be good right?

Recently my boyfriend Justin and I went on a trip to France and at one of the little bistro's we met a couple that spoke french and offered to help translate the menu for us. Delighted, we struck up a conversation and it turned out they were from Dupont circle and were fellow food fanatics. Inevitably we got into a discussion about DC restaurants and I proudly announced that Justin was taking me to Komi for my Birthday when we returned from the trip. The woman gushed about how it was her favorite restaurant in DC-elevating my expectations to a dangerous level.

You know what happens when you have high expectations. Just like when you go to a movie that has had rave reviews and you have to steal yourself and repeat in your mind that it will be awful just so that you ensure your high expectations won't ruin the experience-so should you do with restaurants.

Komi takes a 'break' every year at the end of the summer and closes for about a month so Justin and I were only able to get reservations that were close to my brithday-since they would actually be closed ON my birthday. Komi also has only 2 seating times-5:30 and 8:30. We opted for the 5:30 one because we are early diners.

The atmosphere:
We didn't get to experience the atmosphere right away because when we arrived at 5:30 the door was still locked so we had to walk around the block in the blistering heat a few times before one of the waitresses spotted us and came to unlock the door. The room itself was quite small with a smattering of tables which could be seen from the kitchen. Though you couldn't see what they were cooking/chopping/baking or anything else of that sort in the kitchen you could see curious chefs peering out and laughing every now and then-particularly when the waiter went back. I always had the strangest feeling he would tell us about our questions or something we had said about the food that had sounded a bit silly. Overall it was a relaxed setting.

The Service:
The waiters and waitresses were impeccable. There were just so many of them for the few people that were there! They were always refilling our glasses and bustling by. The only problem I had was how fast they rattled off the descriptions about what we were going to eat. I really like to KNOW what this expensive food I am about to put in my mouth consists of so I can remember and judge and appreciate.

The Food:
Well, if your a seafood lover you'll love Komi. If not-I wouldn't really recommend the place. You have 2 options for dinner-either choosing a main course and getting little mezze (appetizers) before that and chose a pasta or else go with the tasting menu. To get the full experience we went with the tasting menu.

The majority of the 'little dishes' there were at least 14 were amuse bouche (ltitle bites) and were some variety of sea food. The first dish was a sashimi which was served in a chicken like broth and littered with small, powerful chives. There were oysters that were served with a yolky substance on top and if you like the sea had a pleasant taste. I recall a small brioche stuffed with a sour cream concoction and topped with caviar. The grilled octopus was quite nice and I thought was cooked quite perfectly. There was an heirloom tomato salad which was just that-a bunch of tomatoes. There was also a tasty but redundant tuna burger with a cold grapfruit tomato 'soup' served in a little grass.

A big disappointment was the date stuffed with marscapone. I had though Komi was all about 'freshness' and 'seasonality' but this date was dried and sweetened-a huge let down for someone who has experienced the heavenliness of a fresh date melting in your mouth. The biggest let down-however-was this scallop dish which had scallops that had the most awful consistency imaginable. I have had good scallops and these were most certainly not it.

One of my favorite 'tastes' was this little fried cube which the chef, the waiter informed me, thought of as his version of Caesar salad. When I bit into the cube there was a burst of ceasar dressing taste and cheesy loveliness. Quite nice.

For the pasta course we got two different pastas each, which was nice. One was the ravioli stuffed with corn and in another broth. This I compared to the Medicino grill's corn stuffed ravioli and thought that Medicino came out on top. The other dish was a cheesy form of gnocchi which also let down a bit.

Before the main course the waiter came out and displayed the huge leg of a pig (not the most appetizing site) to us at the request of the chef and asked for our approval. The pork was quite amazingly good-I have never had such good pork. the chunks which were very tender and not overly fatty were infused with the taste of bacon. They gave us a HUGE amount of the pork and it was served with 'home made pita' (which was overly greasy and not so great) and a variety of sauces-a tzatziki sauce, a spicy red sauce, and the grilled eggplant sauce I can't recall the name at the moment) which had way too much of some indian spice in it as well as some salt with oregano. Justin managed to stuff all of it down his gullet, making little pork sandwiches with the pita and the sauces. I was impressed. Notably there was a nice dish that has fresh mozzarella with a pesto sauce that followed.

Perhaps trying to make amends for the date disaster we were presented with a fresh fig which appeased me greatly (who doesn't love fresh figs-and they are so hard to find).There was a snowball sangria which I let Justin eat since I am not fond of alcoholic dished. The other desserts were...interesting. Justin got a ball that had a dark chocolate shell filled with mint ice cream with a salty chocolate biscuit at the bottom. I had a bar that had two different layers of chocolate, a layer of peanut brittle and this gel like substance on the top which was like pho-caramel but not as good as caramel (and I'm not even a big caramel fan).

I believe that was the majority of the meal. It was incredibly expensive but quite the experience for a foodie like me who had a) never experienced a tasting menu and b) never been to a 4 star restaurant (I think). Perhaps Justin will remind me of some dishes which I will add later. The chef does need to have less of a heavy hand with a salt and I felt like the creativity was lacking a bit-where were the incredible sauces? The 'inventive' dishes?

We left after paying a hefty check and tasting some of their 'home made' root bear lollipops. I hope the Inn at Little Washington-which Justin had promised to take me on our 4 year anniversary-tops this experience.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I haven't written awhile, I know but I have so many new things to write about.

Recently I went to Filomena, an Italian restaurant in DC's Georgetown area. I had been there twice before-once for my birthday during lunch where I opted for the $10.00 lunch buffet which was tasty but not fabulous or noteworthy.

Then I went with Justin for DC restaurant week and everything was GREAT. This was quite a few years ago but I believe we got the stuffed mushrooms, chickens tuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs and covered in a cheese sauce and then some pasta shells and lasagna. Then we had the triple chocolate mousse cake-which was a bit too chocolatey for my tastes.

You see, the real attraction of Filomena is the 'housemade' aspect. From the upper window you can see them rolling out their own pasta and they have their own bakery (mmm the best part!!!)

This time, when we went out (Justin and I) we met up with two of our friends. We got the fried rice balls as an appetizer-an italian dish I have been dying to try. It consists of these balls that are stuffed with meat, cheese, bread crumbs and tomato sauce and surrounded with rice and fried. DELICIOUS. We has to play rock paper scizzors over who would get to split the 5th rice ball.

Between the four of us we split three main dishes. The two pasta dishes were so big we could have split that between the four of us and been fine. We got gnocchi with a bolognese sauce-the sauce was to die for (just like I and when I was italy) but the gnocchi (potato dumpling like pasta) were a bit too heavy for me-it is very hard to find perfect gnocchi. There were two kinds of stuffed chicken and we got the one that was had the ham in it. The chicken was a bit overcooked but the sauce wasn't too bad and pretty good overall but not great. The penne with sausage wa sour other dish and was very...italian. The fresh, warm bread was a nice side to it all and I was so full by the end of the meal I wouldn't have had dessert if it wasn't soooo good there.

Ah dessert. The best part. The hazelnut genoise went away with the prise with its layers of chocolate mousse, hazelnut mousse, and a delicious biscuit/cake like hazelnutty layer. I could eat it all day mmm. The chocolate raspberry cake was also delish and I would get both again next time I go.

We picked up a piece of strawberry shortcake for my mom on the way home but since it kinda melted I cant really give an honest opinion on it.

If I were ever to go back I would have to get the rice balls, some lasagna (the bolognese sauce was so good-it must be amazing) and some hazelnut genoise cake. So good. Not too expensive either. I believe it was like 25 a person at the end of the meal?

I must say, if I was somehow interviewed for the Metrocurean one of the 'five bites' I would chose would include Filomenas risotto balls.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A cake of many things

Hey y'all! So I have been practicing my cake baking skills for the cake I am going to make Theresa and Robert for their wedding and so I made a carrot cake yesterday in honor of Mike D's birthday. I must say that I adore carrot cakes but you have to make sure the icing that you use on them is not too sweet since the carrot cake itself is already so sweet (all those natural sugars you know-oh and those three cups of sugar to three cups of flour that goes into the recipe). I wish I had taken pictures but I will still share the recipe with you. I got this recipe from Emilys mom who used it to bake her own wedding cake. I must admit I have changed and tweaked it a bit so it even better-if I do say so myself.

Sift all dry ingredients together:
3 c. flour
3 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt

In another bowl mix:
2 t. vanilla
2 c. carrots that have been boiled to softness and then pureed in a blender
1 and 1/2 c. cooking oil
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup of raisins-steep in hot water for ten minutes to make plump and juicy
1-8 oz. can crushed pineapple, including juice

Bake in a greased and floured tube pan in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until done.
Cool and remove from pan. (I run a knife around the edges of the perimeter and the tube itself before I take it out of the pan) Place a plate over top of the cake pan and flip it onto the plate, then get a cooling rack (this is best) or another plate and flip again so the top of the cake is on top!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


So I went home yesterday for passover hoping that for once my mom would cook somethign that wasn't premade or frozen but alas, I was disappointed. My mom had boguht a premade chicken from costco and she told me that I was the one who was going to make the matzoh balls. In a way, this made me happy because last passover she had purchased matzoh balls from celebrity deli and they had been quite thick and tasteless. Very dissapointing. I have my own 'way' of making light, airy and tasty matzoh balls and when my mom and grandmother saw I was not following the directions on the back of the matzoh ball mix box they could not believe it. My grandmother, the traditionalist, was scandalized but luckily both she and my mom were game to try it (they are evolving-thank god).
I used two matzoh ball mix packets and first mixed four tablespoons of vegetable oil, 4 eggs before adding the matzoh ball mix. I then added 1/4 cup of chopped onion, 1 1/2 tbspns of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of oregano and 1/2 a tspn of black pepper. This was then refrigerated for at least 15 minutes ebfore adding them to a pot of boiling water (in the form of very small balls-they get a lot bigger as they cook) which i had flavored with some garlic salt, italian seasoning and poultry seasoning. I reduced the heat to a simmer once the matzoh balls were added and they simmered for twenty minutes before they were ready which was when I proceeded to add them to my pre-made chicken soup broth.

The matzoh balls were pronounced the best thing on the menu and I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Mmmm matzoh balls ARE the best part of passover.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Farrah Olivia

So, I guess I will continue writing in this blog though I was a bit put off by the whole blog idea when I figured out how people advertise their blogs-by posting on other peoples blogs? Thats so weird. Still, I enjoy writing about food and hopefully someone will get something out of my restaurant and cooking advice.

For our two year anniversary Justin and I decided to go out to Farrah Olivia in Alexandria, VA. The place was right off of the highway exit and we had no difficulty parking. I had heard about the restaurant from a review I ran across in the Washington Post by Tom Sietsima who mentioned it in passing, and then did a google search and found a rave review from him in 2007.

I had expected the place to be larger than it was but the dining room never did completely fill up, even though we were there from 6-7:30. We got a nice seat by the window (Justin forgot to pull it out for me and I told him he needed to brush up on his gentlemanly manners). There was a fixed price menu of $36 with your choice of 3 courses, everything being on this fixed price menu except for the cheeses and a few select over priced dishes. Justin went with the fixed price one while I went ahead and ordered the Lamb-a dish I head read about as the chefs signature dish in a cooking light magazine and which the waitress gave me the impression as being their most 'special' unchangeable dish the chef liked it so much.

The breads that came out arrived with three different condiments-a mild pesto which must have been made with more zuchinni than any other ingredient-the garlic and parmesan and basil being so subtle, a chive and caper butter, a red pepper pesto (horrid tasting) and some citrus cottage cheese. None of these condiments did not add any desirable extra flavor or pleasant texture to the bread and I found myself wishing for some good olive oil with spices and garlic instead of the ridiculous stuff that was set in front of me.

The waitress presented us an amuse bouche-meaning a small bite in French. It was a round globe of chocolate filled with lychee (a gel like substance taken from a kind of chinese fruit). We ate it in one bite of course and the lychee flavor was awful but I couldn't just spit the thing out in my napkin-unheard of-so I kept chewing and thankfully the delicious chocolate that was used to make the treat finally overpowered everything else and left me feeling okay. That was before the appetizers arrived.

We had ordered a grit cake with squash and it cake out looking light a fried hush puppy on top of a bed of tangy-too-vinegary bbq sauce and what looked liked candied diner and radishes. The grit cake itself was wonderful-sweet and not as heavy or starchy as some hush puppy's tend to be. I really liked the texture on the inside and in the end it turned out to be the highlight of the meal.

The painted soup came out looking like a ying yang with the cold green pea soup on one side and the warm butternut squash soup on the other. Each soup by themselves were too strongly flavored-the pea soup only tasted of very strong bacon and the butternut squash soup only tasted of very strong curry powder and all spice. The only way to nullify the overwhelming flavored was to mix the two soups together, giving you something a bit more subtle. I found it sad that they couldnt be enjoyed separately and I asked myself, not for the first or last time that night, what was the chef thinking.

The main course arrived. On first sight of my dish I was disappointed. I am paying 36$ for this?! I thought, what a rip off. There were two lamb chops on my plate, looking plain as day and not covered in spices and seared perfectly as I had imagined. I had asked for medium, not medium rate, but since Justin claimed he could eat medium I kept my mouth shut. I suppose the chef tried to make the plain porkchops taste better by accompanying the dish with a smear or a thai like sauce down the middle of the plate to dip it in but he did not succeed. The little dish of spanish on the side was soaking in pure cream that had been combined with an atrocious amount of parmesan cheese and next to this was a fried plaintain that was called a laof because it had been combined with soem flavorless orange ingredients and then formed to look like a banana before being fried again-what did he do to the tastiness of the plaintain that made the -tain go away, merely leaving something plain and tasteless behind? Justin could not quite believe that there was passion fruit powder on my plate, in a small heap that looked like crushed up cheetos. I didn't go near the white caviar but Justin told me it tasted like soap bubbles.

Speaking of soap bubbles thats exactly what appeared to be on the top of Justins main dish. He had ordered gnudi-a deconstructed ravioli accompanied by the smallest butter squash cubes I have ever seem, onions and a few slices of asparagus. On top fo the dish was parmesan foam-something that left a bad after taste in my mouth for hours on end. The sauce was similarly Parmesan and the chef had chosen to go much too heavy on the cream and butter. The worst part of the dish was the gnudi itself. The chef msut never have experienced the pure softness of a potato gnocchi melting in your melt because this was the exact opposite experience-each piece was like a lesson in pure powdery starch that made it difficult to eat. The heaviness and the floury taste that it left in my mouth was NOT to be desired.

Hoping for the best from dessert-its hard to mess up dessert-the pecan sandwich came. The cream inside was spiked with alcohol (I am not fnd of alcoholic desserts) the 'sandwich' was ,merely two triangle of filo dough with an over sweet, overly spiced balkava like filling as well as the alcoholic zabalgione. One the side of this was a bitter, coffee tasting chocoalte syrup (Justin hates coffee).

The complimentary farewell dessert that came after it was slightly better with a delicious raspberry jelly square, anise cookies and a very chocolatey cocoa coated truffle.


Was the dinner really worth that much? Well, Justin and I did have a good time making fun of the chef and trying to figure our what his reasoning and purpose was. Did he try to make his dishes so ridiculous and push the limits so that he could see how awful/strange he made them before someone complained? Another theory included that the chef was giving the waiter his kicks by letting him make up ridiculous names for all the things he put on the plate and then changing it every time to something that might be halfway believable.

The low point of the night was going next door to Balduccis where there had all this moderately expensive but delicious looking food which we could have gotten for the fraction of the price that we just spent at the restaurant next door. Justin got a bit frustrated and we had to leave. Goodbye Mr. Pork and cheese burrito for 8.00. Till another day.