The Palm & Equinox

Spring is almost here! I finally come out of the metro in some remaining daylight, which is a pleasanter way to end the workday.

A while back, we went out to The Palm for dinner. It’s a nothing-special kinda’ steakhouse. Their vegetable sides were on the greasy/salty side. Meh. Pass. Their wine list was pretty decent though. We shared a really good bottle of Justin Isosceles Red Blend, unfiltered. I’d never heard of them before but hey, they’re local-ish, from CA. I don’t normally pay too much attention to wine because I don’t look for any specific make/model wines when I shop but this one is worth remembering for me.

The other place we dined at was Equinox. They have many plant-based options besides just a plate of sides so that was nice. The portions were on the small side though so I think you’re supposed to order 2 or 3 per person. The food was good, but rather rich/heavy. Their cocktails, again, good, were probably a bit too sweet. I could go back, but no rush.
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This is fried artichokes. Good but a little greasy/salty.

As much as I like staying in, watching TV, and cooking, it’s nice to get out of the house and have other peoples cooking for a change.

Rancho Gordo Beans

I got 15 pounds of Rancho Gordo beans during my last visit to California and painstakingly hauled them back amongst other heavy items.  Like an ass.  Double entendre, double entendre!  Double up on ya!  Then I find on Rancho Gordo’s website that you can order them on the Internet and they will deliver them to your place of residence.  Of course. None of this analog shopping.  

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It’s 19 pounds of beans. Well, maybe not all beans. There’s a few corn items in there. I’ve found these Rancho Gordo beans to be good and easy to cook and I love their variety. Although all their beans are reliably good, I’d say it’s only worth ordering if there’s a type that you can’t find elsewhere. For example I haven’t seen Rio Zape’s anywhere else and they are incredibly creamy and delicious.
Still, for this order, I got some pretty typical beans such as black beans, black eyed peas, and yellow eye beans. Their beans are very fresh so I wanted to try them compared to my usual beans.

Nha Hang Chay

This place is located in the same shop that used to be our go-to Thai restaurant, Thaispoon.  When that closed we weren’t too surprised, but still sad.  It was a good place and we ate there fairly regularly. but it never seemed all too busy.  It’s located right on the fringe of the Eden Center so it’s not easily noticeable.  But not too long after, we saw this new place come in and tried it about a month ago.  We got their Hue’s spicy noodle soup and a broken rice dish.  The soup was full of stuff.  Vegetables.  Tofu.  Ingredients!  And it wasn’t overly spicy or salty.  The broken rice dish was very flavorful and fresh too.  Since the weather has turned frigid I’ve been hankering for a good hot noodle soup again.

This time we got hot pot broken rice and the spicy noodle soup again.

Still as good.

Fall Squash Simmer

I love fall squashes. When the season comes around, I always end up buying 2 or 3 at a time and then woefully regret my greed when I’m hauling them home because they are heavy.

  • 2 Acorn Squash (or any fall squash) – peeled and cubed
  • 2 big onions – diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic – chopped/minced/whatevered
  • Salt/Pepper – easy on the salt, generous with the pepper
  • Turmeric – generous
  • Water (2-3 cups)
  • Oil

Stir fry the onions, garlic, and salt in oil for a few minutes.
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Add pepper and turmeric. IMG_9878

Add the squash.
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Add the water

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Simmer until the squash is soft.

Lunches I Make

It’s so hit or miss the lunches I make.  I have brought in many doozies that are pretty horrendous to choke down.  Like this here:
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It’s rice, beans, parsley (too much of it), and mushrooms, and onions. It tasted like sod because I threw in an entire bunch of parsley. I can’t believe we ate this. The photo actually makes it look better than reality because of the flash, tricking the eyes with lighting. In reality it was brown. One big mass of brown blobby food. Awful.

Onigiri

Yesterday we ate at Temari Cafe because I had a kickass onigiri at the Tokyo Fish Market and I remembered that Temari has it.  And I also remembered it to be pretty decent.  Not so.  The rice wasn’t seasoned.  The seaweed didn’t cover the rice. and it was soft/soggy rather than crispy.  And the filling wasn’t as flavorful.  We also got a lot of appetizers and an unagi donburi which also fell short.  Everything was just not good to the point where I’d just rather not have it at all.  It wasn’t even close.  Maybe in a few months I’ll think it’s okay again, but given the wait and the mediocre food, I’m not sure I’ll bother to find out.  I really REALLY wanted to like it though.  I wish our 7-11’s here were half as good as the ones in Asia.  Where else can I find a half-decent onigiri?

 

 

California

We paid the West Coast a visit recently. This time, the air was noticeably dusty and dry. I could feel the drought! It’s the first time I visited where I didn’t wish I lived there. There was a persistent haze. Maybe that’s why for this trip, suddenly I was noticing all the cons. Like it smelled of pee. And the sidewalks are cracked, raised, overgrown. The neighborhoods are a hodgepodge of disheveled and maintained. They’re not ones for order. I still love the walkability. The succulent plants and gardens everywhere. The sun.  The food.  Of course, the food.
We ate at:

  • Ippuku

Ippuku – Bittermelon
Bittermelon

  • Cancun Tacqueria – I almost always come here.  Excellent veggie burrito.
  • Asha Tea House – I only got here once during this trip.  I wish I had gone sooner so I could go more often.
  • Kamado Sushi – Big sushi selection.  Delicious.
  • Venus – Great breakfast place.  Probably my fave of the 3 we went to (Crepevine and Guerrilla were the other two).
  • Tokyo Fish Market – I could spend all day here shopping and eating.  They have the best natto onigiri (Full disclosure: I’ve only ever had theirs.)
  • Gather – I wish I was hungrier when I came here, but I could only stomach tomato soup after a big farmer’s market lunch.
  • Kaz Ramen – Veggie ramen was great.  Much better than the one we had in Quebec City (which at the time, I really liked.  It was just too salty).
  • Farmer’s Market – Everything is good here.  Just eat your way around the place.
  • Mi Southeast Asian Eatery – Standard chowfoon style noodles.  Tasty, but heavy.
  • Pepples – Out of this world banana or apple fritters and cinnamon swirls.
  • Philz – Smooth coffee.  Perfect with sweet pastries.
  • Crepevine – Second best breakfast place.  They have steamed vegetables.
  • Out the Door – 8 tiny morsels of mung bean dumplings for something like $10.  They were delicious.  I was so glad I got them, they were very good.
  • Huong Lan Sandwich – I made sure to try Banh Mi DC’s veggie banh mi before coming here.  Huong Lan’s veggie banh mi was better.  They’re more generous with the vegetables.
  • Loving Hut – A bigger menu than the Loving Hut here, but they needed more servers.
  • Mission Heirloom Cafe – bulletproof coffee seems gimmicky to me, like the Paleo or Atkins diet.
  • Guerilla Cafe – Unless you want their one vegan breakfast offering, you’re out of luck.  I had a side of fruit and then made a pb&j after.  If there’s one thing I hate, leaving a meal hungry.

Sexy Safeway

I think my friend misinformed me when she called the flagship Safeway in Georgetown, “Sexy” Safeway. I think it was actually coined “Social” Safeway. I don’t know by whom, but regardless, it was neither sexy nor particularly social. And I feel like I’m a pretty good judge of grocery stores because I spend a lot of time in grocery stores.

So anyway, after I heard and read so many wonderful things about this social sexy Safeway, I planned a weekend excursion to go there. We were going to hit Shophouse Kitchen for lunch. Then to the Old Stone House. And then the pièce de résistance – Sexy Safeway.

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Shophouse – I really wanted to like this place. Anyplace that has vegan options in this town gets bonus points in my book. But it just wasn’t very good. First of all, their salad mix had raw chopped napa cabbage. I have a hard time accepting the fact that napa cabbage can be consumed raw after seeing a pet iguana chowing down on some. I ate them anyway, but it didn’t feel right. I have the same misgivings about raw kale and cabbage too (even though I love slaw). But that alone wasn’t that bad. Overall, it was just too salty and the dressing tasted not good.

The Old Stone House was closed so we just walked a little bit around the gardens and then off to Safeway!

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I’m only comparing it to other Safeways I’ve been to, and while it is very nice, it didn’t stand out to me either. I got Nabisco Chocolate wafers – Oreo’s without the cream. Wonderful with coffee. And some avocados. They have a very nice beer/wine section and prepared foods section. They carry plenty of kombucha options. And their produce looked top notch. Maybe what made it not so appealing to me was how empty it was, hence – not-so-social. Where is everybody?!? What else is there to do on a Saturday night? So even if it didn’t seem to live up to the hype (which, was a tall order) I had a great time. Okay, maybe it was a little bit sexy.

Lunch time

I brought dukbokki to lunch today and while I was microwaving it, a guy came around to the kitchenette. He remarked that it smelled good and asked what it was. I said dukbokki and he gingerly asked if I had been to Korea. Or if I cooked Korean food at home. I could tell he wanted to ask my nationality but I answered his question literally – this is the only Korean dish I know how to make and I’ve never been to Korea (he’s been twice!). I feel kinda bad though that it’s gotten this… touchy/taboo a topic. Ask! I don’t mind. I felt bad that he felt like he had to be careful or something. I’ve seen vids online of people complaining that people ask their nationality, so they just respond that they’re from the U.S., which is fine and all, but I mean, they’re asking for your nationality. And it’s like… yeah I get what they’re annoyed with, but at the same time, eh, no big deal.

Sauerkraut!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Another microbiology project in my kitchen. This time, I made sauerkraut. It was surprisingly easy. Easier than kimchee. I love kimchee but it’s more involved, so after a few rounds of it, I stopped doing it. Then I went on to kombucha which is super easy. And now, I introduce to you, red cabbage sauerkraut!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

  • Sea salt
  • Filtered water
  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 1 red onion – Optional
  • 6 or so cloves of garlic – Optional
  • 3 carrots – Optional

I chopped and rinsed the cabbage.

Chopped the onions

Flattened the garlic cloves a little (just to break them)

Cut the carrots into sticks.

 

Massage the cabbage in 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Crush it a little as you work the salt in.  You can let it sit out after massaging it to see if you can get some water out of that.  I was too impatient.  I just packed it all in the jars and added extra salt water to cover up all the vegetables.  Don’t oversalt or it’ll taste too salty.  Leave it in a dark place covered with a paper towel or something and then let it ferment.  I thought it would take weeks but one week was enough for me to smell the sourness.  The top layer started to get moldy because it floated above the water.  I just scooped it out.  The stuff in the brine is perfectly fine and it tastes tangy and delicious.  Then after a week, when it smelled sour, and I took care of the moldy pieces, I put the lids on and refrigerated them.  They are very crunchy and delicious and bright pink!!

So next time you get yourself a head of cabbage and aren’t sure what to do with it, ferment it.  It’s easy to make and very easy to eat.  I just ate a bowl of it by itself just now.