Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birthday Weekend Cuisine

I made curried carrot-apple soup. Also featured are porcini tortoni with heirloom tomato sauce. There are also Kingsbury truffles - best on the planet. The Pink Lady apples are from Eastern Market, and there is a photo of my birthday dinner.

Indian Rose - cocktail recipe

Indian Rose

Cruzan Citrus Rum

Stoli Ohranj

Peach schnapps
Cranberry juice

Garnish with rose petals

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Birthday Meal

Yesterday, February 8th, was my birthday, and the most fabulous meal was prepared for me.

It started with wine and cheese. A fresh baguette was served with four spectacular cheeses. Two of the cheeses had truffles in them. One was Truffle Tremor, by Cypress Grove. I think that the other was Sottocenere with Truffles. One was a brie, and the other was an aged, stinky goat cheese. They were absolutely magnificent with Chateauneuf du Pape.

In-between the appetizer course and main course was a little palate-cleansing tapa: a tiny bowl of succulent chicken on top of green peas, saffron rice, all cooked together in sweet coconut milk. It was a sweet as a dessert.

Then came the second course: raw oysters, served at home! There were two types of Chesapeake Bay oysters, opened right over the sink and handed to me, barbarian-style. They were very good and were such a treat.

Finally: the main course consisted of the following melange. On a long, rectangular, white partitioned Japanese plate were placed, left to right-
1. two huge sea scallops, cooked in their own juices to perfection;
2. a large scallop half-shell, onto which was placed cooked and seasoned lump king crab meat mixed with a "filler" of home-grown mashed potatoes, on top of more sliced scallops; and
3. a huge, tender half-fillet of Chilean sea bass, sauteed in olive oil and fresh-chopped ginger.

The scallops were great, and the juice in which they were served was so tasty, I almost looked for bread to sop it up. The crab meat was actually served atop sliced scallops, and the combination was sea-complex and delicious. The sea bass flaked delicately with my fork and gleamed with richness. The meat was juicy, tender and slightly sweet...not fishy tasting, but lightly flavored and with a luxurious mouth-feel. It had just a hint of ginger.

By this time, I was much too full for dessert, so I just had a couple more sips of wine...and a tiny bite of organic milk chocolate when I got home (shhh!).

The miracle of this birthday dinner is that it was cooked for me in a friend's home. Truly special.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wrong House

Funny li'l story from tonight.

I was invited by my friend, Mike, to his house to have pizza and watch the returns from the primaries. After all, it's Super Tuesday. Forget Fat Tuesday! In DC, elections take all the spotlight.

I had never been to Mike's before. It's in my neighborhood, on Capitol Hill. Mike is a sweetheart and works on the Hill, like me. So, I quickly glanced at my Blackberry and saw the house number, "608."

Hooray! Remembering it was the basement apartment, and seeing a couple folks sitting and eating on the sofa, watching the tv, I did what any good party guest would do:

I pranced down the steps to the English basement, opened the door, and let myself in. "Hello!" I chirped. The two people in the house looked at my quizzically. "Hello," they said.

Suddenly, I got a strange sensation. There was no Mike in the room. Nor pizza. Nor party of primaries-watchers. I cocked my head to the side. "Um, is this Mike's place? I'm here for the party...?"

"Um, no." they said, in a tone that was half questioning if I'd lost my sanity, and half pitying me for the embarrassing gaffe. I felt my face redden with shame. "Oh, I'm so sorry...I think I've got the wrong address. So sorry!" I said, as I began to turn on my heel.

"That's okay," they said, still eyeing me.

"Good night!" I said with a cheerful smile, as I squeezed the door handle and made a quick exit before they could get a long enough look at me to recognize me later.

As I headed out into the damp-night-from-a-mild-day-in-February, I chuckled to myself. Before long, the correct house number was just a block away, and I could already hear the party revelers outside. And I was relieved! Liberal Hill staffers and animated politicos buzzed like gadflies and yelled comments toward the television. A senator was even present at the fete! Even more impressive was the selection of exquisite hand-made truffles, the flavors themed. Each chocolate truffle variety was named for one of the candidates! One had a fuschia outer shell with a strong chocolate center: The Clinton. Another was dark on the outside, with a white filling (certainly, The Obama). Still another was smooth milk chocolate on the outside, with a nutty inside: The Romney. Get it? Pure, chocolate brilliance. Only in DC, folks.

The experience earlier in the evening reminded me of a powerful life lesson: the seriousness of the gaffe is less important than the skill of making a graceful recovery and quick exit.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Ole 96

I am one frugal sistah.

Here's a typical example of a cheap night out for me. Instead of pay $7.50 for a cab to HR-57, and buy drinks there, like most normal DC residents, here are my choices:

I decide to wait on the good old 96 bus. The 96 runs from Capitol Hill, two blocks from my house, all the way to U Street. I had decided to then walk the 5 blocks from the bus drop-off to the jazz club.

Cheap Challenge #1: the bus came too early. The next bus is in 30 minutes. So now I must choose to wait half an hour, then walk the 5 blocks to the club. From now on, I'm hatin on the 96. It's over, 96.

I decide, instead, on Plan B, and begin to schlep toward Union Station. I walk the mile to Union Station; it's probably a good thing, considering the half chocolate bar I ate this afternoon. From there, I'll Metro to Dupont and walk 8 blocks to the club.

Cheap Challenge #2: there is a 13 minute wait for the next train. Hm. So here I am, blogging away the wait. Patience is a virtue.

Cheap Challenge #3: drink prices in the city. My resolution? Take full advantage of HR-57's "byob" policy. So I will bring my own bottle of wine.

Cheap Challenge #4: But wine's expensive. My solution? A gleaming, shiny new bottle of Charles Shaw cabernet! That's right, folks, Two Buck Chuck. A critic-beloved steal at only $2.99 a bottle!

Many challenges tonight- all met with a smile, an inaudible curse or two, and money left in my pocket. The trade-offs were time, and mileage on my sneakers. Fine by me.

Mission accomplished!

Metro, 2/1/08, 2:15am

Who's on? A young 20-something married couple, a pack of young Spanish kids, a mid-30s black guy with dreds, and me.

The fluorescent lights glare as the announcer's surreal-friendly voice announces, "Next station is SMITHSONIAN!" As if hordes of teeming masses will jump off for the museums, or even for a stroll on the February tundra that is the National Mall.

I'm full of lamb chops and good company. And happy.

Sometimes, and to some people, "happy" is as fleeting as this Metro ride. I count myself as one of the lucky ones who gets to take the train 16 stops.

Good night, Washington.