Saturday, June 28, 2008

D.C. Markets Part 1

If only all politicians ate great peaches think what we could accomplish….. Last week, I traversed the city in search of every farmers market I could find. I hit my stride on Saturday, my first weekend day in the city. I popped out of bed, threw on some walking shoes and headed toward Eastern Market near Capital Hill, well known for its local produce and artisan bizarre on weekends.

While coffee might be fuel of federal policy making, a good congressperson needs top notch edibles to start their day…may I suggest a sun ripened melon? In the out door stands of Eastern Market, on 7th street and Independence, I walked though piles of peaches, their perfume floating through the heat to my nose like steam rising from the tidal basin after a hard afternoon rain. I had to buy one. The North Carolina peach that juiced all over my chin (and down my shirt) might be the best I’ve ever had. Further along, I cupped a warm tomato in my hands, its skin unblemished and taught. Yep, I bought that too.

I sampled local apple cider, delicious lemon hummus, fire hot cilantro salsa and cucumbers sprinkled with rock salt. And that was just outside. Inside the building there is a great lunch and breakfast spot. Every weekend, the line weaves through the door as patrons wait for scrambled eggs from local hens, or fluffy pancakes with homegrown berries. If you’re in a lunch mood why not try the crab cakes and coleslaw or a big fat meat sandwich? Oh yum!

The seafood, meat and cheese counters are really something to praise. Dozens of inventive sausages, whole fish and aged Goudas line the glass cases. It’s a great place to stock up for the week’s protein.

If you visit, be sure to check out the open air stalls first, the samples abound and whether you planned on buying anything, you’re taste might just overcome your pocket book. My peach only cost me a quarter. Remember to bring cash, venders don’t take credit cards.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Raku Dupont Circle: Review

June 18, 2008: Co-Workers Do Lunch!
Wednesday’s lunch bill was on CSPI, so I abandoned my hummus sandwich and adventured with two co-workers to Raku, a sushi and pan-Asian restaurant in DuPont Circle. They do it right: tapa-style dishes to share at really reasonable prices.

The food was delicious. I could have eaten five plates of the green salad appetizer and called it a day! Tender lettuces were adorned with thinly sliced carrot, red onion and big chunks of crunchy cucumber dressed lightly with miso and ginger. Refreshing on a hot day.

Then the octopus descended. Oh man, oh man! I happened to love this chewy little guy, but the Asian-style BBQ gave each piece a caramelized char—awesome depth of flavor and the zingy mango-thai pepper salsa perfectly cut the slight earthy sweetness of the BBQ.

The Tofu Skewers with Peanut sauce also deserve praise. The outside was grilled and savory, while the interior boasted the lightest, softest tofu. These five big skewers would appeal even to meat lovers. Lastly, the sushi: the Seoul Train Specialty role—Tuna and kimchee was quite creative, I liked the heat it brought into my mouth: the kimchee would spike my palate with a blast of fire and the unctuous tuna would quell the blaze; truly a sensual experience. The nigiri was decent, but there is better fish to be had elsewhere. I would venture back to this joint, I didn’t even dent the array of options, the five or six bento box options would be great for a work-day lunch.

Raku, Dupont Circle
1900 Q St. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202.265.7258

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mie N Yu Restaurant and Bar: Review

June 17, 2008: Two Friends Visit a Georgetown Hotspot
Opened in February of 2003, the food, drinks and decor at Mie N Yu attracts youthful power brokers in Prada Suits by the dozen even mid week. I felt like I was floating on a gypsy boat when I walked through the door to the restaurant area. There are two entrances, one for the carved wood bar and another for the veiled sit-down tables.

The decor is outstanding, willowy swaths of fabric shroud the lights and make romantic niches to sip wine and nibble edamame. At Mie N Yu, there is a district feeling that the diner is on a journey: a Moroccan bazaar merges with a stunning English style-bar, while carved dragons crawl across the ceiling into the rich Tibetan lounge. Even the bathrooms are unique. I will say that you could easily become over-aesthetic-ized and utterly exhausted before your food arrived in this place. Its definitely trendy, and you have to be ready for that see-and be seen feeling if you dare to enter the bar.

The menu is extensive, though I allowed my wallet to control the order (never wise) and ended up with a PuPu Platter of fried delicacies, not my favorite. The miniature lamb kebabs, however, were succulent and flavorful. The highlight was easily the Tempura Shrimp and Wasabi Bloody Mary: spiked with top shelf vodka and garnished with a pickled vegetable skewer it finished with a kick and left me wanting another bite. Head chef Tim Elliot is undoubtedly creative and talented. If I visit again, I’ll order the Banana Leaf Grilled Rock Fish with Pei Mussels. At $45, it’s under the heading “proteins to share”.

Overall impression of this joint was fun, hip and stylized. On one final note, the award winning wine list truly deserves its accolades. Oh, and PS: Great service- knowledgeable, attentive and upbeat despite crazy crowds!

Mie N Yu Restaurant and Bar
3125 M Street, NW
Washington DC
(202) 333-6122

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

EW! Bad bad Trans Fats!

Before the summer progresses too far, a bit of background information about my work is warranted. Center for Science in the Public Interest are the guys who got the “Nutrition Facts” on the side of packaged foods, and a few years ago, they lobbied to add the trans-fat category to that list. In the early part of the summer, I’ll be focused on trans-fat and saturated fat content in popular restaurants.

CSPI is has successfully encouraged a few major cities, New York and Philadelphia to eliminate trans-fats from their restaurants. We are now pushing for state-wide bans in Massachusetts, New York and California which could occur this summer. This fat is really bad--raising our “bad” LDL cholesterol, clogging our arteries, and causing upwards of 50,000 fatal heart attacks in the US per year. Nasty.

(Don’t forget not all fat is bad! In fact, we need to have the good types, like Omega-3 and Omega-6 to keep our eyes, brains, hearts and veins in tip-top shape. Best to get your good fat from nuts/seeds (almond, flax), olive oil, fish (think salmon) and avocado.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dear Readers:

I would like to begin with an apology. I am sorry for the long silence on my blog. Final exams, three days at home and a move to Washington DC are not excuses, though that is what has kept me busy. Much as happened since I last signed on—It seems tomatoes are under the microscope, food prices are skyrocketing and the local lettuces have arrived at the farmers market.

For the next nine weeks, I will be working for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington DC, doing much of what I do here: digging into nutrition and our American culinary habits. I’ll also have my own kitchen and no money. This summer will be an adventure in healthful cooking on a budget and dining out when I want to splurge. What fun is a new city if you don’t get out and see it?

So I cordially invite you to check in frequently, I’ll be passing along information I learn on the job and keeping a (roughly) daily kitchen chronicle. And of course, I’ll divulge all my eating and dining adventures as I pack a picnic for an afternoon beneath the Washington Monument, slurp oysters after midnight in Adams Morgan and munch my way though Eastern Market behind Capital Hill on Saturday