Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I was blessed this last weekend to be gifted with another visit to Volt. Apparently my excellent boyfriend had to make reservations for this outing a month in advance which is a pretty big deal for a place out in the middle of Frederick Maryland (the suburbs of the suburbs).

The decor was very modern, very plain. They had changed the cool pictures of ships since the last time I went there to some boring dull ones.

For lunch you can either order from the 3 course prix fixe menu or the 5 course one. Being a grad student I went with the 3 course-as did my 3 dining companions.

They do offer you anise flavored bread sticks. Not a fan. The awesome chive biscuits and rosemary rolls with salted butter were good (I love creative breads) and for brunch they offer even more bread choices.

I HAD to get the goat cheese ravioli as an appetizer-it was a must. If I were to chose one of my favorite dishes ever this would have to be one of them. The goat cheese was so creamy and light yet flavorful and was pillowed inside this fresh delicate pasta. The ravioli rested on top of this wonderful butternut squash smear and topped with these amazingly flavorful chanterrelle mushrooms and a foam. My only complaint was that I wanted MORE. All I got were 4 pieces and man I could eat that stuff all day.

Justin got this veloute which was essentially a mushroom soup which was just overly mushroomy and had no other flavors or textures to balance it out.

Katie got the beet salad which seemed quite nice with the variety of beets, the beet meringues were a pretty touch but the goat cheese was just air and not at all strong like goat cheese should be. A good appetizer but nothing compared to the ravioli.

The main dishes were quite the conundrum. I really thought someone who was one of the top contenders for Iron Chef would be able to produce better entrees. I got the pork tenderloin which was bland and pretty much tasteless. It came with this awful purple cabbage sauce (more like an apple sauce consistency) which was bitter and unpleasant. I at least enjoyed the bacony brussel sprouts but the mustard greens that were put on my plate were pathetic. All they tastes of was butter. Pure butter. Blech.

The chicken with sausage was similarly humdrum with the sausage being soft and under cooked (or just boiled? you should ALWAYS caramelize your sausage to bring out the flavor-what were you thinking Brian when you presented us with this sad spongy dish) and the chicken dull.

I had the fish on my previous visit and it was too fishy for my tastes, I kept on looking longingly at everyone elses plates (speaking of my previous visit VOLT does a much better brunch than a lunch-his eggs are the best eggs I have had in my life and Justin's grandmother inhaled her pancakes).

The only winner was the steak which was twelve extra dollars. The steak was marinated to perfection, tasting of teriyaki and honey and wasn't too tough at all (I am picky about my steak tenderness).

As for the desserts I don't think that Brian can do anything well except for his chocolate textures dessert. I tried the pear dish (boring and alcoholic-how can you serve such a hard piece of pear), the dissatisfying apple dessert (also boring-none of his flavored ice creams are ever good), and the peach dessert (had last time, I could make it in my sleep). None of them were as remotely impressive as the chocolate textures dessert but I honestly could STILL go for something even more exciting than that.

They always seem to send you home with a nicely wrapped up muffin. I love muffins myself and was really excited to eat them. You can't imagine how disappointed I was with the first muffin (blackberry) which was awful tasting and dry and the 2nd muffin (lemon poppy seed) which was somehow dry, dense and oily and grainy all the same time.

To sum it up: Go for brunch. Enjoy the bread. Be sure to get the ravioli, eggs/steak and the chocolate textures. Be prepared for a long meal as the time between courses is quite long.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BBQ Showdown

Yes! Maryland BBQ showdown on my taste buds. It doesn't get more hardcore than that. Justin and I love finding privately owned BBQ shacks on the side of the road, something that seems to be sadly difficult now a days in the North (if you want to reeeallly call MD North, I would call it in the MIDDLE but I don't think there is a real word for that Sorth???)

Anyways about a month ago I came across a BBQ place right down the street from our apartment-Urban BBQ. I was starving for lunch and ready for anything and to my surprise there it was, this awesome place on New Hampshire avenue, conveniently located right by the White Oak exit on 495. Today we saw a BBQ place on our way to bike riding at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge in Laurel called B & B Southern BBQ so we stopped by after our ride. Lets see how they stand against each other:

BBQ Beef Brisket: In this category both restaurants receive a big fat FAIL. Both had thin dry slices of brisket. The Laurel location had a pit beef sandwich whose only reedeming quality was the fact that it was served with coleslaw on top and was drowned in BBQ sauce (mmmmm BBQ sauce). The beef at Urban was lean dry and tasteless. I KNOW good BBQ beef brisket people (I have been to Wileys in Savannah Georgia-trust me) and this was not it.

Side dishes: Urban BBQ flat on its face in this category. Not only did they give me collard greens instead of the sweet potato casserole the first time I went there (gross) but they also gave me something called ranch style baked beans. I am an avid baked bean fan and these were NOT baked beans they were really chili in disguise. If you like chili go for it but if you want real baked beans than hold on to your money. The mac and cheese was pathetic and was more buttered noodles than cheesy. I also have never encountered a more boring sweet potato casserole. It was not sweet,no topping/crunchies abd had practically no cinnamon/spice and was just plain blah. My advice-don't go for these pricey products. On the other hand, the Laurel BBQ place rocked the sides department. They had the perfect mac n cheese and the perfect baked beans. My goodness that mac n cheese was chhheeessyyy and those baked beans were sweet, syrupy with a little bite of vinegar. These are just two of the many sides offered there and they come with your main dish (for free-woot woot).

Ribs and Sauce: The ribs at B & B were def cooked for a long time, coming out tender and sweet. The only downside was that the one I got was kind of fatty but hey the flavor was THERE. Along with the ribs came an amazing bbq sauce and tasting it absolutely enlightened me as to why they sell the sauce and don't just give it away. Damn its good. The Urban BBQ ribs were similarly tender and were the highlight of my meal. What I liked best about the ribs was their smokey flavor and how meaty they were (very little gross fat). The sauces at Urban were nothing to brag about but were sufficiently barbecuey.

Dessert: Well dessert at Urban BBQ has yet to be determined but lets hope they don't follow in the path of their side dishes.However, I decided to go all out at B and B Southern BBQ and OMG they have the BEST sweet potato pie ever. The crust is like a cross between a graham cracker crust and a traditional apple pie crust. The filling is perfectly spiced and the thing was just downright tasty. Man, for only 3.50 this little pie gave me four perfectly good slices and I am so going back for more.

Now who won this BBQ battle?! Since there are no office Top chef/Iron chef judges to call the shots I guess I'm just gonna have to leave this one up to you (I just can't pick-so don't make me!). In the meantime I will continue my quest to find the best BBQ in the DC metro area. ITS ON!

The Blue Duck Tavern

So some of my drafts weren't saved so I am just going to give you a brief over view of some places I have been lately:

The Blue Duck Tavern: I went here for my birthday with Justin. The appetizer was this salad with peaches and some kind of terrine. The peaches were the only part that I really liked. As for the main dishes-we got duck and a braised beef dish. The duck-supposedly their signature dish-was dry and not at all flavorful. I have had some good duck in my time and the Blue Duck Taverns duck was not even comparable.

The beef, however, was quite tender and came with a nice sauce. The two main dished were pathetically small and expensive which is amazing considering our two side dishes were a fraction of the price and were so large we had to bring home leftovers.

I looovveed the lasagna side dish we got. It was unique in that it was WRAPPED in phyllo dough (I have never seen this before with lasagna) and contained delectable chanterrelle mushrooms with a to die for pink sauce.

Then there were the french fries. I think I dream about these french fries sometimes. They were these thick hand cut slices of potato that were still sizzling with the duck fat they had been fried in when they arrived at our table. Justin adored the flavored mayo dipping sauce they came with (a very European touch) but they tasted good by themselves and I enjoyed biting into their crispy skins.

We both looked over the dessert menu surprisingly there wasn't anything I HAD to have. I had heard about their homemade ice cream of course but it was ridiculously priced and I would have liked it better if there had been some kind of note saying you could add the ice-cream a la mode to one of the other desserts for a cheaper price so I didn't JUST have to have ice cream. It was my bday though and I was going to get a dessert no matter what so I ordered a fruit sounding dish. Oh man, good decision. There was this delectable coconut cream yogurt topped with huge slices of gods most perfect and fresh pineapple, complemented nicely by beautifully caramelized banana slices and a heavenly cashew crumble topping off the whole confection. Soooooo good.

So yes, I would go back to the blue duck tavern. I am just wondering if I can skip the appetizer and main dishes and just go directly for the sides and desserts. Yum.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Conflicted about conflicting reviews

I hate it when I hear/read bout how great a restaurant is, what a good deal, how delicious etc. and then I read a different review that tells em the exact opposite!

My friend Karen recently recommended Founding Farmers to me telling me that they have oober tasty food and such large portions that you need to share with a group. THEN my boyfriend sends me Tom Sietsema's take on founding farmers which was less than nice (to put it gently).

So what to do next? Look at the restaurants menu? Is that like judging a book by its cover?

I must admit that the french toast filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with fresh strawberries is a real draw for me...I did kind of get a feeling Tom was being a bit snotty in this review by dissing the Cheesecake factory which can produce good creative food (though they have recently gone down a bit in their standards when I saw they tried catering to the masses with 'small plates' that did not fit into the menu at all and their samosas resembled a badly done egg roll stuffed with cilantro flavored ground chicken-no peas, potatoes or thick scrumptious fried wrapper).

Guess I'll just have to go and find out for myself Tommy boy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Stuff Eatery

Mmmm. Talk about tasty. It seems like I have not had a 'real' burger in some time but-thankfully-tonight I finally did! Now, some of you are probably wondering what a 'fake' burger is. A fake burger is a variation of one of those disgusting mass produced thoroughly processed to within of its like frozen patties that merely taste like artery clogging cardboard. A real burger, however, is full of flavor, is juicy and has more texture and taste.

There really isn't much seating (or ambiance) at Good Stuff Eatery but luckily some friends had saved us some seats when we arrived. We ordered our food at the counter-I got the Good Stuff Melt (melted cheddar and muenster, caramelized onions and mushrooms with good stuff sauce) and spikes village fries (topped with fresh thyme, rosemary and cracked pepper) where they have us a buzzer to signal us to come up to the counter and retrieve our food.

Weirdly enough I had ordered the same thing as my friend just a minute or two after her but they buzzed me at least 10 minutes before her. Later, when I ordered a milk shake and she ordered 5-10 minutes after me she got buzzed way ahead of me!

As for my food the burger patty itself was cooked just right (well cooked but still pink enough in the middle that the essential flavors were retained) and was one of those thick juicy burgers which are in a whole different league from the flimsy fast food ones most of you are used to. I didn't really taste the sauce or the cheese and though I did taste the onions and mushrooms I felt like the mushrooms could have had more flavor ( perhaps they weren't fresh?).

Anyone knows I love spices and heck knows I love them on french fries (a commodity that is not, in my opinion, spiced nearly often enough and are usually left sadly plain and tasteless) so I did not pass up the chance to pass up Spikes village fries. You must know that whenever I make potatoes I cover them in rosemary, salt, garlic, thyme, oregano and black pepper-sounds pretty similar to Spikes fries, no? This all means that I was quite inclined to like these mouth-wateringly described fries but I just couldn't bring myself to appreciate them. Not only were they small and a bit soggy but the rosemary and thyme were three times too strong-these fries were covered in green spices and were overpowering all of the condiments I was eagerly dipping them into.

Ah the condiments. I did appreciate the condiments. In Belgium and the Netherlands people love to dip their fries in mayonnaise-mayonnaise is their ketchup. Spike must know about this European love match of mayo and fry and so he provides his customers with various forms of mayo-chipotle mayo, saracha mayo, mango mayo, and old bay mayo. These all seemed quite tasty but again, the fried were over powering their flavors.

I did not finish my french fries-but my boyfriend did. He really seemed to like them and so did my friend Karen so maybe it is just me, maybe I just think they are too spiced-your just going to have to go and try them yourself. I would most certainly be happy to go back myself and try another one their burgers-they have a lot of different flavors and I am definitely one to appreciate a good burger.

Before I left I got a toasted marshmellow milkshake. A few other people at the table had gotten the same flavor and urged me to get it too. I thought it was really tasty, not too sweet but very thick and very heavy-a kid size shake is recommended even if you are sharing. Karen got the milkyway milkshake which was just as tasty as the toasted marhsmellow and more chocolatey,

Good times all around at God Stuff Eatery.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheese and Charcuterie

Want a good deal and a good date in DC? Though I can't guarantee great company I can recommend a night out at Proof. Now, I am not a wine fan/drinker but if I were I would definitely come here for some prime wine sipping time. When I was there-on a Friday night around 5:30 the young and wine-friendly of DC were getting their alcohol buzz at the cool bar by the front and sharing Proofs tasty and filling appetizers.

What is so great about these appetizers you ask? Two words: Cheese and charcuterie.

Some people might not know what is charcuterie-Wikipedia pretty much sums it up as cooked meats. Justin and I got the artisinal salumi (after asking the waiter to explain what all the different charcuterie options actually WERE-which he most happily did)which was an assortment of these tiny salami slices hand made by the chef. We got sooooo many pieces for $8 is was crazy. The slices came with these little pieces of bread, a spicy mustard and mini pickles. One kind of the salami was spicy, another one way garlicky and the other was pretty normal.

Then there was the cheese.

Despite being a lactose intolerant person I harbor a great and vast love for cheese. If you do chose to go to the bathroom at Proof you will walk by their tasty selection of cheeses and let your mouth water in anticipation. For $13.00 you can chose any three of Proof's cheeses and for $25 any six. We went with three of the numerous choices and were pleasantly surprised when our cheese arrived with these miniature slices of raisin bread, delicious honey, and a vanilla apple butter.

The cheese, charcuterie and the complimentary pita like chips/bread pieces that were served with a scrumptious tzitziki (greek cucumber yogurt sauce) filled us up to the brim and we could have walked out after paying the bill then and there but I really wanted to try one of Proofs main dishes because the table across from us had all gotten their own main dish and seemed to be really enjoying them. I talked Justin into ordering the honey glazed peking duck which was with a roasted jewel yam purée, pomegranate vinaigrette and grilled scallions. The dish was very tasty but pretty steep for $27.00.

On a side note we did get the mushroom tempura appetizer as well, I just did not mention it before because it was hardly worth mentioning. Justin liked it but there was a serious need for some extra salt and some extra flavor.

If you want a nice night out with the guy but don't want to spend a lot of moolaa I say go to Proof and stick with the cheese and charcuterie.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mediterranean P.S.

p.s. why don't we have more amazing Mediterranean food in the D.C. Area? I really liked Pasha Lounge in Gaithersburg with its great Chicken Bastilla (so sweet yet savory with its layers of phyllo dough nuts and meat it melts in your mouth) and its scrumptious chicken with saffron sauce but it is missing variety and the 'something more' that Bazaar has (particularly atmosphere and being more true to its roots and to itself).

Zaytina-well you have heard my thoughts on that 'meh' rip-off of a place.

Cava-wonderfully creative and inventive but in need of more space and whats with the now jacked up prices and portions that have been cut in half so that there is no mezze just amuse bouche.

Vasilis Grill-tasty but boring.

Give me something more DC!

Cant stop thinking about BBQ Chicken!

I know I know. Weird right? I can't stop thinking about BBQ chicken. But really, this isn't just your every day BBQ chicken-its the BBQ chicken skewers served with pide with a very spicy barbecue sauce harissa that is served at Bazaar a Mediterranean restuarant located in an old (retired) church/synagogue. The only problem? Its in Amsterdam!

Sigh. However shall I fulfill my BBQ chicken kebab cravings without flying to Amsterdam and gorging on this wonderful creating. I am really considering sending this restaurant an e-mail and begging for the recipe!

Oooh man. I believe it was our last night in Amsterdam when we went looking for Bazaar-a restaurant listed in the "Lets Go Amsterdam Guide"-the only travel guide I have ever found reliable when it comes to finding good, well priced, local food for wherever you travel (written and updated by college students who know their stuff-and most particularly their food and transportation costs since I don't really use the book for any other purpose).

It was really late by the time we got to the restaurant, everything on every other street seemed either closed or empty (unlike the rest of Europe, Amsterdamers actually eat at a decent time). When we stepped into Bazaar we knew it was the right place and the place to BE. Both floors in this high ceiling former place of worship were packed with the young and the hungry. Music was blasting, the lighting was fantastically right for a hip late night hang out and the place smelled divine.

That BBQ kebab sandwich had some of the best chicken I have ever had. Admittedly though, I did have to request some tzitziki (you know me and my sauce) which brought the sandwich to perfection.

What? You think I should have been eating dutch food because I was in Dutch-land? Pfft. Not even the Dutch eat dutch food. Finding a dutch restaurant in Amsterdam is almost like finding a needle in a haystack. Amsterdam was THE most diverse city I have ever been to when it comes to people/food/restaurants. Everyone pretty much speaks English because it seems like most of the people living in Dutch-land aren't Dutch!

Pictures coming soon-once my lazy ass boyfriend decides to load them. :P Perhaps more on Amsterdam later neh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Food TV

You know, I am amazed at how different cable tv vs public television tv is in terms of food shows. Honestly, I think that WETA CREATE on public television has a lot more quality food related shows than anything I have seen on the Food network. I didn't even know about most of the chefs that have shows on WETA until I watched Top Chef Masters on BRAVO. Once I 'lost' cable due to a move and got public tv I was like omg theres Eric Ripert, Todd English, Rick Bayless.

I particularly like the Americas Test Kitchen show but I don't like how they won't let people go on their website and look up the recipes that were on the show-they make you pay for it if you do!

Sigh. I really want to go to these chefs restaurants...maybe someday. Especially Rick Bayless <3 He is my hero with his love of good food and helping farmers. Oh Rick, if only you were younger and we both were single. Then you could cook for me every day.

Bistro Blanc

I went to this place awhile ago but a certain unnamed boyfriend *cough-justin-cough* is lazy about uploading food pics so I have just given in and decided to write my review.

This was actually a pretty amusing restaurant outing. I wanted to meet up with my friend Joanna but she didn't want to really drive to me so I decided to go to her in Columbia MD. I did an extensive restaurant search on-line using my super-dooper grad research skills and came up with Bistro Blanc as my favorite (their menu looked tasty). I called Jo up and asked her if she was cool with it. Then I looked up the reviews (which I should have done before anyways-not such a great research huh) and saw that Tom Sietsiema (the washington post critic) was going to review it the next Sunday (they post the weekend reviews ahead of time on-line and you cant find it unless you know what your looking for). Sweet! This meant I was going to get in BEFORE all of DC came rushing in for a good meal.

The place was absolutely adorable. If I wanted a place to take a girl on a first date (or any date for that matter) I would take her to Bistro Blanc! The ambience was so comfortable and pretty. It was a Saturday afternoon though so, due to Tom's review, I wasn't expecting the 'best' of their food since their second-hand cook supposedly works the weekend lunch and brunch shift. Sigh.

We all shared a wonderful cheese plate which came with fresh fruit and tasty crackers. Justin particularly liked it because of their strong blue cheese but I really liked the bacony smoky tasting Gouda.

The best part of the meal though was the Pig and Fig (citrus braised pork shoulder + black mission fig + toasted brioche + vanilla muscato froth). It was so delicious and tender everyone whole heatedly agreed that it was amazing. Figs are one of my most favorite things in the world and we got a few fresh ones that I throughly enjoyed. Next time I am not sharing!

For my main dish I got the lamb burger. The burger was really well spiced but they put it on a brioche bun that was totally burnt! The kitchen should not be sending out a burger with a burnt bun-be it mcdonalds or the pig and fig that is bad business. I chalked it up to the weekend chef though and still took it upon myself to appreciate the fries that were liberally tossed with strong cloves of garlic and parmesan. Mmmm garlic.

Justin got the duck leg confit which we both thought was good and Jo got one of their 'flatbreads' which is basically a pizza with gourmet toppings. She couldn;t even eat all of it!

Bistro Blanc was definitely fun and though I am not a wine drinker it seemed like the place to go if you like wine. I hope to go back again sometimes :)