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I read with some interest the top new restaurant lists from Pete Wells in New York City and Tom Sietsema in the D.C. area. I tend to stay local, so I need to try Rasika Westend, Seasonal Pantry, and Izakaya Seki. I don’t think I’m going to risk another meal at Mintwood Place. As a friend used to say, it would be really great…if you’ve never been to a restaurant before. I’ve been warned away from Rogue 24 by a local food writer, so mostly I’ll just keep going to Little Serow as much as humanly possible. It’s going to be a great year! Also, if you missed it, the Times had a great piece by Eugenia Bone about French truffles–where to buy them, why they taste smell so good, and especially whether all those truffle products are the real deal. Read It.
I’ve been hearing about Komi ever since moving to D.C. and always in a hushed voice with eyes widening for emphasis: This is the Best meal in town. I was skeptical after I saw the dining room, which I found underwhelming. But after a year of eating Johnny Monis’ inspired Thai food at Little Serow, I was ready to take the plunge into one of the most expensive tasting menus in town. Monis has earned my trust.
I don’t know who Jay Rayner is. I don’t recognize his face on the cover of his book. And yet I bought it based on presumed shared interests. It’s called The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner. Rayner is the restaurant critic for The London Observer and in 2006 or ’07 maybe he decided to travel the world on his quest.
It was with no small amount of glee that I read Tom Sietsema’s pan of the “new” minibar. My first experience two years ago at Jose Andres’ exclusive table for modernist cuisine was definitely three-plus star. But my second visit, earlier this year, was a big disappointment (turns out it was also a bargain). Judging from Sietsema’s review, many of the menu items have remained the same–every dish he mentioned, in fact, I’ve had–so what exactly makes Andres’ minibar new?
Where last year’s food issue of the New Yorker disappointed, this year’s has plenty to recommend. Naturally, the issue comes with a piece by Calvin Trillin, this time visiting his daughter in Oaxaca and sampling the local fare. One part food, one part family, ten parts Trillin’s witty writing, so it’s well worth a read. I love this sentence: “Given my experience with nutria in Louisiana some years before, in fact, I suppose that, if I hadn’t been raised to prize modesty, I could describe myself as a man with relatively broad experience in rodent consumption.”
What a success our Thanksgiving was this year! There were no misses on the table: A beautifully golden turkey–how is it that chefs on Top Chef can’t get that right?–sausage and apple stuffing; mashed potatoes and gravy; broccoli salad; roasted delicata squash with pomegranate seeds; roasted sunchokes–a conversation starter and a first for nearly everyone at our table–and pies, with salty caramel taking the, er, cake. The wine for the most part was a sparkling white made for Whole Foods that is a convincing stand-in for champagne called De Chanceny Cremant de Loire. All in all, a meal to be proud of.
The buzz of the week has certainly gone to Pete Wells for his “Dear Guy Fieri, how does your restaurant blow? Let me count the ways” review in the New York Times. That said, while a pan is always worth a read, the only line that made me laugh out loud: “And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?” The Onion’s piece about the owner of Bubba Gump Shrimp sending his sympathies is funny. But since few of us were going to be eating at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar (I don’t even know who this Guy is) in Times Square, the article on Jacques Pepin’s steamed turkey is a more pressing read. The technique seems pretty straight-forward and absolutely worth trying. 30 minutes of steaming means the bird only roasts in the oven for two hours.
Turn your gaze away from the Sandy tribute in the New York Times dining section and read instead the Washington Post’s review of the new Logan Circle gastropub Drafting Table. Tom Sietsema’s take is very similar to mine. His title …
From an otherwise lame feature from the New York Times Magazine, the One Page Magazine, there is some advice for the day’s drinking from Mario Batali, the expert in all things consumed and alcoholic: For election night, I have a …
I’ve gotten into a restaurant rut, and I don’t ever want to get out of it. Maybe it’s more like a gambler’s lucky streak–only it’s a sushi and Serow streak. I simply alternate between high-end sushi at Sushi Taro and the most exciting food in town at Johnny Monis’ Northern Thai Little Serow. And after a year, it’s only gotten better. A couple of nights ago, about three courses in, I had a terrible thought: One day I will not have access to this food. It nearly ruined my mood, so I quickly had another slurp of the tom kha pla duk, the sweet, spicy, tart broth before me. It starts with catfish cooked in coconut fat, but that’s all I could get out of our server. Oh, and the stock cooks for three days. I know there are chilies; I know there is lemongrass; And I know that if I enter my kitchen with only these instructions, I will fail. And yet, yet, I must be able to capture this experience however diminished and slight my own version might be.