Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Big Fat Greek Dinner

    While in West Palm Beach, FL, we headed to City Place (the heart of downtown) to the beautiful Taverna Opa.  It's a fun Greek restaurant with a huge outdoor seating area that overlooks all of City Place.  At night, there is live belly dancing and the waiters all dance on the bar.  Sadly, we couldn't go at night to catch the "entertainment", but I'm sure it's a blast.
      My favorite part of Taverna Opa was the pre-meal hummus and pita.  They bring it out in a mortar and pestle and you can mash it into whatever consistency you like.  You can see the olive oil, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and chickpeas completely intact, so you know it's nice and fresh.  And it's fun to make your own hummus right at your table.  It was very, very good.

    The pita and delicious hummus was consumed very quickly :), but no worries because our entrees were out in no time.  I ordered the  Artichoke Chicken: chicken breasts and artichoke hearts sauteed in a lemon, white wine caper sauce and served with roasted lemon potatoes and sauteed spinach.

    It was delicious!  The chicken was super tender and the flavor from the sauce and capers was spectacular.  Zesty and fresh with little bursts of saltiness from the capers.  The artichoke hearts were tender but tasted like they were cooked fresh and not from a can.  The potatoes tasted great in their lemon juice and the spinach was wonderful.  I would definitely order this meal again.  Just thinking about it, my mouth is watering.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Das Real Good

   Our last night in DC, a few of us wondered over to Georgetown for Ethiopian food at "Das".  We were having a small goodbye dinner for Bruce, who was sadly leaving our tour, and Bruce requested Ethiopian.  I am certainly no connoisseur on Ethiopian cuisine, but I do know that the few times I've had it, I have loved it.  So I was looking forward to dinner at Das.
    If you've never had Ethiopian food, it is similar to Indian Food.  The spices are simple and strong and the food is delicious.  It is served without silverware, but with a sponge-like bread called injera that you tear apart and use to scoop up your food.  It is made out of fermented teff flour, is very light and folds like a tortilla.  The actual dish itself is served on top of a large peace of injera, which soaks up the sauce and juice from the vegetables and meat and becomes flavorful bites of soaked flatbread that finish your meal perfectly.
   We decided to order a few vegetarian entree samplers and Chicken & Beef entree samplers for the table.  The vegetarian entrees include a Harvest Stew of cauliflower, string beans and carrots simmered in stewed tomatoes, Split Pea Kik Alicha (a puree of yellow split peas mixed with onions, garlic, and green peppers), Red Lentil Miser Wot (lentils cooked in a red pepper sauce), Collard Greens Gomen, and Cabbage with Carrots in Sauce Tikile Gome (ginger and garlic). 
The vegetable entrees are closest to you, while the meat entrees are in the middle and back of the plate.
    The meat sampler included Chicken Doro Watt (chicken in red pepper sauce and served with a hardboiled egg), Beef Kaey Watt (in a spicy red pepper sauce), Beef Alicha (prepared in an herbed butter) and Beef Segana Gomen (mixed with collard greens). 
    It all tasted amazing.  I loved every entree, but I think my favorites were the collard greens and the Chicken Doro Watt.  But truly, you can't really go wrong with any of them.  It was all absolutely delicious and incredibly filling.  The use of spices in each dish creates a unique diminsion of taste specific to each entree.  They range from mild to spicy, but the spices never overpower the taste of the food they are a part of. 
    Another reason I love Ethiopian food is because it is such a community food.  You share large platters of food, break bread together, and eat off the same dish and small pile of food together.  Ethiopians believe sharing food from a common plate signifies the bonds of loyalty and friendship.  It was the perfect meal for us to have before sending Bruce off with our well wishes.


Friday, February 17, 2012

George Washington, Step Aside

    Our great country was established by our founding fathers, but our great food in DC has been established by "Founding Farmers" in Foggy Bottom.  This place is amazing.  It is owned by a collective group of farmers, using their locally grown food as much as possible to create all the delectable choices on their menu.  Every sauce, dressing, juice or gravy is made in house and their bread is all from scratch.  Founding Farmer's is all about sustainable, good quality, "All American" food while also keeping their restaurant very "green".  Everything from their electricity to how to their concrete poured bar top is eco-friendly.  They even take is as far as becoming the first restaurant in DC to be LEED Gold Certified and they offset their annual greenhouse gas emissions through!  This was definitely the kind of place I love to support with my business. 
     We went for breakfast one morning.  They offer a lot of unique twists on breakfast classics, like hash made with beets or carrot cake pancakes.  But when I saw "Chicken and Waffles" my decision was made for me.  Crispy-Fried Chicken Tenders, Gravy, Two Eggs, Waffle, Whipped Farm Butter, and Syrup.  That's right, syrup AND gravy.  I knew I couldn't go wrong there.  (I ordered mine with eggs over medium.)

   It was great!  The waffle was soft, fluffy and sweet, the gravy was thick, white gravy (of course) and tasted fabulous.  The syrup tasted the way that only REAL syrup can taste, which is incredible.  My eggs were cooked perfectly, with the yolk still runny in the middle, which tasted heavenly with the gravy and chicken.  And last but not least, the chicken was incredible.  Not overly fried, very juicy and tender, and seasoned so well.  The chicken was some of the best chicken I've ever had.  Not like the fried chicken I am used to in Georgia, with the thick, crunchy bits all over it, but fried just enough to give it a slight crunch and enough crevices for the syrup and gravy to soak into. 

     I wish I could have gone back for every meal, but Founding Farmer's is a VERY popular place.  I would strongly recommend reservations if you planning to go.  I loved my experience here and would definitely put this on my top 10 favorite restaurants ever.  Such a cool place trying to feed us real, whole food made by real, hardworking farmers.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pizza in Chinatown?

  From my short time of traveling, I have learned that almost every big city has their own "Chinatown".  And in Washington DC, it is right downtown, nestled in the midst of some of DC's best museums.  While I was on an outing to the Smithsonian American Art Museum with Bruce and Cathy (which has a fabulous Annie Leibovitz exhibit right now, if you are in the area), Cathy said she had a great place for us to grab some pizza.  A friend of hers had told her about a place "we had to try the pizza at in Chinatown!"  Bruce and I both gave her a funny look.  Pizza in Chinatown?  But as skeptical as we were, we walked a few blocks over to Chinatown to a fun place called "Matchbox".

Chinatown, Washington DC
     As soon as you walk in the door at Matchbox, you can see all their awards for their pizza on the walls.  And once inside, the smell is intoxicating.  A mix of dough, tomato and wood burning in the oven hits you and, without even looking at what else is on the menu, you know you have to order pizza.  They are very proud of their authentic wood-fired masonry oven and give it all the credit for their famous pizza.  According to our waitress, that oven has not stopped burning at 800 degrees since the day Matchbox opened.
    Their pizza menu is extensive and everything looked amazing.  Since there were three of us, we decided to order 3 different small pizzas and then share, so we could try as many as possible.  Cathy ordered the Q Special with grilled marinated chicken, portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, zesty tomato sauce and mozzarella.  Bruce ordered the Serrano Spanish Ham & Pecorino Romano with roasted garlic, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, and oven-dried tomatoes.  I could not come to a decision, so I asked our waitress what her favorite was and without a moment of hesitation answered the Sausage & Sundried Tomato with ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil and balsamic reduction. 
Top Left: Q Special, Top Right: Serrano Spanish Ham, and Down Center: Sausage and Sundried Tomato
   All three were delicious.  I am a big fan of their sauce and the crust has a great, smoky and soft texture that only a wood burning stove can give.  The Buffalo Mozzarella on the Serrano Spanish Ham was especially creamy and delicious.  And while I loved all three, I think my favorite was our waitress's.  The Sausage and Sundried Tomato was simply out of this world!  The basil tasted flavorful and fresh (and as the picture shows, they do not skimp of it), the sausage was slightly spicy and tasted great, and the balsamic reduction added a perfect finishing touch. 

     All in all, this Chinatown Pizzeria exceeded all of my expectations.  Definitely worth checking out if you are in DC.  And if you aren't as big of a fan of pizza as me, the rest of their food looked incredible too.  But... you should really try out the pizza. :)

Dindon family outing!