Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I have been to Mt. Washington Tavern on several occasions to meet friends for a few drinks at happy hour, maybe nibble on some bar snacks. Everything has always been at the very least serviceable. So when some friends came up from out of town and the tavern was brought up as a group dinner option. I figured why not. A perusal of the website before our night out didn't show anything particularly exciting, but nothing that a restaurant of 31 years should be able to screw up too badly either.
To start off with the pleasant, our reservation of eight was greeted politely and seated quickly. Our server was prompt, pleasant, and accommodating throughout the entire meal. The ambiance of the dining room was quite inviting, and the noise level wasn't invasive at all, though it was quite sparsely populated for 7pm on a Saturday night.
Then there is the not so pleasant, the food. I don't know if this is an owner leading a kitchen staff astray, or a kitchen that thinks its smarter than it is. The offerings are uninspired, way overpriced, and in some cases even just flat out incorrect. Tuna Tartar is described as "rare sushi grade tuna with sesame, over endive" - lets stop right there. So you are cooking a tartar.....interesting. I then inquired about the Fruits De Mer "Pan-Roasted Jumbo Gulf Shrimp,Day Boat Scallops, Littleneck Clams, and Rockfish in a Light Tomato Broth with Garlic Crostinis." The menu description was a little odd, and the server confirmed my suspicions. This Fruits De Mer is served as a hot entrée.......hmmm. Great dish? Perhaps. I'll never know because I wouldn't order a dish that is tagged as something that it isn't.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Recently, a friend introduced me to something that combines two of my favorite things, comic books and food. The fine people at Viz Media have imported one of the most popular and long-running mangas of all time, and selected some choice chapters to translate into English. Each chapter reflects on and gives insight into the overarching theme of each volume, ranging from Japanese cuisine as a whole, sake, sashimi, all the way to Japanese pubs. Its dorky I suppose, but I'm Asian and I'm totally into it, for whatever thats worth.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Why Do Humans Love Spicy Self-Torture?
Only food prudes are afraid to dabble with a little hot sauce occasionally. But why do any of us enjoy it at all? Capsaicin, the chemical behind hotness, causes your brain to literally think your tongue is on fire.
Scientists are at a loss as to why we adore spicy stuff, says The New York Times. Beyond culinary taste, there are verified medical benefits—spicy foods lower blood pressure, potentially knock out other bodily pains, and maybe even help fight microbes. But humans have been pouring hot things on their food since long, long we had any understanding of our bodies—evidence of hot pepper cultivation dates back to 4,000 BC.
Maybe, some scientists think, we're just wired to be gluttons for pain. The University of Pennsylvania's Paul Rozin thinks each time you slater your sausage with some kind of atomic pepper death paste, you're exhibiting what he terms "benign masochism." A recent study of Dr. Rozin's showed that subjects, when consuming an increasingly hot pepper sampler, chose as their favorite the one just bearably hot. Which means people still love getting burned. And we might just be doing it for the quick thrill: "Mind over body. My body thinks I'm in trouble, but I know I'm not," says Rozin.
It may just be one of those strange quirks of being a human. "Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce," quips Yale psychologist Paul Bloom. And Tabasco sauce is the least of it. Typical extreme hot sauces, favorites of benign masochists everywhere, run up into the hundreds of thousands of Scoville heat units—that bottle of Tabasco in your kitchen is only 5000, tops. And radical pain peppers are a huge business in the US, from the hundreds of varieties you can purchase at enthusiast shops to corporate giants like McCormick to issue an annual Flavor Forecast—a report of which spicy trends will grace edibles anywhere from Doritos to the chicest haute cuisine eateries.
The whole red-faced industry may verge on the lunatic at times—I mean, really, some of the sauces can only be sampled on the tip of a toothpick without sending you to the emergency room—but there is something comforting about our uniquely human taste buds. The rest of the animal world either lacks the neurological faculties to experience the burn of a chili, or avoids the stuff altogether. In fact, the presence of capsaicin in peppers might be decidedly anti human, a defense mechanism to keep curious foragers from taking a bite—scientists have found the chemical stings us the exact same way as tarantula venom. But here we are, dumping it in our soup, and daring one another to slurp a spoonful down. It may be a little perverse, but it's our little perversion.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Farm Animal and Meat Quality Standards
Here's a brief summary of our benchmark standards by species:
- No antibiotics — ever
- No supplemental growth hormones
- No animal byproducts in feed
- Range raised for at least 2/3 of the animal's life
- No antibiotics — ever
- No supplemental growth hormones
- Group housing only, no tethering or individual crates
- No animal byproducts in feed other than cow's milk
- Unlimited access to grain
- No antibiotics — ever
- No animal byproducts in feed
- No gestation crates
- Sows provided freedom of movement in farrowing (birthing) pens
- Bedding required to satisfy natural rooting instincts
- No antibiotics — ever
- No supplemental growth hormones
- No animal byproducts in feed
- Pasture raised
- No antibiotics — ever
- No animal byproducts in feed
- No beak trimming for broiler chickens and game hens
- Appropriate beak trimming for turkeys allowed when necessary*
- Appropriate litter provided for comfort and to satisfy natural foraging instincts
Monday, August 2, 2010
We ordered a huge array of sides to cook in our broth. Thin sliced beef, pork belly, Chinese cabbage, noodles, vegetable dumplings, pork dumplings, duck feet (my favorite), tofu, and broccoli just to name a portion of our order.
Monday, July 19, 2010
There are some of the run of the mill offerings on the menu. This is in a shopping mall after all. Though, behind the veil of Lo Mein and Fried Rice are some real treats. My eyes centered in directly on the many offerings of authentic Noodle Soups ($9.50.) All of these are available with various noodle styles (Homemade, Rice, Flat, Egg, and Catonese) of your choice. As soon as I got a look at the menu, my eyes centered in directly on the Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup with homemade noodles. The fact that this dish also happens to be pictured on the front of the menu confirmed my belief that I chose the right thing. I was given a HUGE bowl of soup loaded with large pieces of beef, stewed greens, Chinese cabbage, green onion, and inundated with nuclear chilies. All of this magic floating in a rich and aromatic beef broth. Readers of my blog will know that I have been to China, and more specifically relating to this dish, Sichuan Province. I can say without reserve that this is the closest and best bowl of noodles that I have had since my time there. The homemade noodles tasted fresh and were cooked perfectly. The heat of chilies complemented every slurp of noodles and bite of beef as sweat began to bead across my forehead the further I went into the dish. There are many other offerings on the menu that I’m sure would please the less spice inclined, but for my money, this may just be perfection in a bowl.
I really hope that places in the Baltimore area can start to believe that they can find a market for these types of authentic dishes. There are people out there that want to eat the real thing. Keep up the good work Hunan Chinese Gourmet, I will be back!
11725-L Fair Oaks Mall
Fairfax, VA 22033
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I'm not really a huge fan of ice cream, but I know that I am largely alone in this. So I thought I would pass on this little gem of information for the few of you that actually read this blog.
Baskin Robbins (store locator) is having a 31-cent scoop night tonight, April 28 between 5pm and 10pm local time
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Starting off the meal I decided to have a cocktail. After browsing the menu, how could I possibly turn down a Jalapeno Mojito? Originally thinking it just had to be some sort of clever novelty, the drink was actually surprisingly refreshing with just the right kick of spice.
There are a number of appetizers at Rocket to Venus that I plan on returning to try. One that I HAD to try on this visit was Kimchee Pierogies - Five pan fried pierogies stuffed with housemade kimchee, potato and asiago, served with lime tartar sauce. ($6) You must understand that I live for Kimchee. I keep various types in my fridge throughout the year and eat it with a variety of meals. With cheese and lime though? I am happy to report that the delivered dish was a revelation. The slight spice of the kimchee actually worked very well with the asiago and the lime tartar was the perfect accompaniment.
As our main choices, we decided on Banh Mi - Vietnamese sandwich of country pate, pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeno, lettuce, cilantro, cucumber and mint aoilion baguette. (Also available with grilled chicken, blackened catfish, beef bulgogi,or kimchee and tofu,) ($11) and
Beef Bulgogi - Korean style marinated beef with fried sushi rice ball and assorted sides. ($13) There were plenty of other interesting dishes on the menu, but I am a total sucker for Asian food as is clearly evident in my appetizer selection. I opted to have my sandwich with bulgogi, hoping that the traditional pate would still be included, but alas it was replaced. That isn't to say that It was in anyway bad. The baguette was perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle (something that is painfully missing from supermarket baguettes.) The meat was well marinated and everyone at the table agreed on its deliciousness. The fries that came with my sandwich were spiced nicely, but I was sad that they were a little on the soggy side.
Then we have dessert. As I have said many times before in this blog, it takes a great effort for a dessert to really speak to me. The kind folks at Rocket to Venus have tapped directly in to the pleasure centers of my brain and reconnected me with my fondest childhood memories. All in a deliciously evil way. Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly ($7) is battered in pancake batter and deep fried, then topped with ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. If you plan on ordering this dessert, make sure you have a few people to share it with, this confection, is rich and huge. Melted peanut butter with warm crispy batter may be a new flavor and texture combination that I will be chasing for a good time to come. Clearly this isn't something that anyone should eat on a regular basis, but you definitely have to try it at least once!
3360 Chestnut Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21211
No Reservations via E-Mail
Chef: David Carleton
Sous-Chef : Kenny Sanders
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The same genius man who blames capitalism for global warming, now has this to say about genetically modified foods.
TIQUIPAYA, Bolivia — Bolivian President Evo Morales said Tuesday that men should stay away from chicken if they want to maintain their hair and virility.
Morales told an environmental conference that chicken producers inject the birds with female hormones "and because of that, men who consume them have problems being men." He also suggested eating too much chicken for too long could make men go bald.
Morales' warning may be out of date: Chicken producers in Europe, the United States and many other countries say they abandoned the use of hormones in poultry several decades ago and many if not most Western nations ban them outright.
The president also blasted Coca-Cola, saying, "It is harmful. ... Imagine what it contains."
Morales blamed "the west," a reference to industrial countries such as the U.S., which he said "bring us more and more poison."
The secret ingredient in Coca-Cola is widely rumored to be something Morales himself once grew as leader of a coca-producers union — a version of the plant with the psychoactive substances removed.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Goooooooooooooooooood Morning.....ummm.......what was the last word in that saying? Oh well I'm sure it will come to me. I landed a few nights ago in Saigon, to say it was a bit of a shock after 4 days in Tokyo, would be a major understatement. These two places may only be a few hours by plane, but they truly are worlds apart. When I exited the airport upon arrival, I was of course flooded by a bunch of guys trying to take me in a taxi. I argued my way down to $6 for a ride to the area of the city where my hostel is located. Well apparently the guy who I was haggling with had absolutely nothing to do with the cab itself, because all he did was flag down a cab for me and start talking to the driver. I'm certainly glad that I hadn't given him any money at this point. The driver was clearly not too happy about the agreed upon price because I was asked to get out of the cab by the driver, then the tout (a word for people who hassle you) told me I could get back in. At which point the driver punched the tout and we were happily on our way. Quite an international introduction.
I spent the first night here wondering if I had made a good choice coming to Saigon. No one at the hotel said a single word to me while I was checking in, and it seemed as though people on the street were only interested in selling me things or ripping me off. I'm certainly happy to say that my experience that first night was most definitely not what I have come to know as the norm. Sure there are people trying to bug you to buy things all over, but if you just ignore them (literally), they will go away. After a few days they just wont even bother with you at all. I think they may have back alley meetings at the end of the day. "The big guy with the funny hair, he no want nothing." The city of Saigon is a vibrant and intriguing place. The constant whizzing by of the moto's, the proud streetside pho vendors who are all to willing to introduce you to the glory of Vietnamese cuisine, and the overall feeling that you get after a couple of days here.
Yesterday I took a bus trip to the Chu Chi tunnels. These are the famous underground passageways that the Vietcong created during the American war. I am quite abject normally to taking organized tours of anything, but I had met a couple of guys at the bia hoi (fresh beer) joint down the street and decided it was better than going at it alone. It truly amazes me when surrounded by other tourists; how hell bent some people seem to be on having a bad time. On the way to the tunnels the bus stopped so we could "see the local crafts people." You would have thought the bus had been hit by a missle and these people had limbs hanging off. Every tour ive ever been on of this nature does the exact same thing every time. Its designed to squeeze money out of you people. You payed 5 bucks for a guided day tour on an AC bus, who cares if you lose an extra 20 minutes!?!? The tour started off with what we will call an instructional video. Anyway, I now know that I am an evil American capitalist pig dog! Horay for the educational benefits of world travel! After going down into the tunnel entrances hidden in the jungle, it was time for a bit of action. This comes in the form of a firing range. They had a wide variety of guns, but I decided to indulge my World War II fantasies and fire ten rounds from an M1 rifle. Quite proud to say that I was the only one in the group to take down the small targets laid about 50 yards down field. The pictures are amazing, and I'll get them online as soon as I can.
Today I wandered around the famous Ben Than Market. Well I say wandered around, but ate my way around is really a much more accurate description. I was on a quest to follow in Tony Bourdain's footsteps and eat Hot Vit Long, or fetal duck egg. I think they call it Balut in the Philippine's. Its basically a duck egg that is matured to the stage of fetus, and then hard boiled. Sounds yummy, no? Well sadly I was out of luck, but there is another market up the street where I may have a better chance tomorrow. I also enjoyed some snake wine at a local watering hole. Any takers?
Shibuya at night is pure sensory overload. The sights, the people, it's pure Japan and I loved every minute of it. We started the night out at an Izakaya that was jammed to the gills with Japanese students that seemed to only have the ability to chug whatever was in front of them, then go puke, then repeat. It was loud, disorderly, not at all what I thought I would see in Japan, and an excellent experience. The simple sushi platter we ordered was far and away the best sushi I have ever had, and every sushi experience in the states from now on will pale in comparison. Know one thing. If you eat fish in Japan, any fish; it's better than what you are eating in the rest of the world. Fresh, fresh, fresh.
After this we met up with a few of Gaz's co-workers at an Irish style pub. It had an outdoor balcony that looked out onto Shibuyu, and was quite traditional for a foreign pub. The night finished as most nights out in across Asia do, with karaoke! After butchering some Billy Idol and Meatloaf songs, it was time to head home.
I was just in time to make one of the last running subway trains of the evening, but unfortunately after only a few stops the train came to a halt and I was told it was done for the night. I walked out of the station to reluctantly grab a cab back to the hostel. I certainly didn't have any clue how to get back and I was just praying that I would be able to explain where I was trying to go. Getting back wasn't a problem at all, but the cost of the taxi was shocking. It cost me around $38 US to travel about 4 miles. So if you come to Tokyo, support public transportation.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I am both extremely excited and totally let down that this man is coming to my town. Excited because I think Anthony Bourdain is the greatest writer in the world, and saddened because I won't be able to attend the talk due to previous obligations on that day. Eric Ripert is also one of the chefs I most admire. The two of them together on stage should be nothing short of magical.
Press Release from the Hippodrome Website:
The infamously grumpy, sharp-tongued host of NO RESERVATIONS, Anthony Bourdain, is coming to the Hippodrome Theatre on May 22. Anthony Bourdain is the acclaimed TV personality, best-selling author, public speaker, weary world traveler, gourmand, punk-rock aficionado, proud New Yorker and, most recently, doting father. Eric Ripert, Chef and author and host of PBS' Avec Eric has been honing his talents at the three-star Michelin restaurant Le Bernardin, as executive chef and co-owner, for the last 18 years.
NO RESERVATIONS - AN EVENING WITH ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND ERIC RIPERT is a frank and provocative back and forth about what really goes on behind the kitchen doors - from both ends of the spectrum. Through illustrative anecdotes, stories and a Q & A, the night will include highlights from Eric's career and lurid lowlights from Tony's career and gives you a real-world understanding of what it takes to survive in the cutthroat culture of fine dining restaurants. The frequent tag team have appeared often together - at the Gourmet Institute, on Martha Stewart, the 92nd Street Y in NYC. Both have been regular judges on Top Chef. They have little else in common, other than friendship.
NO RESERVATIONS will be followed by THE HIPPODROME THEATRE'S first ever FOODIE EXPERIENCE. Baltimore's Top restaurants including Woodberry Kitchen, The Wine Market, Dogwood, and more will be sampling gourmet menu items. Come taste wine and spirits from around the world while mingling with your fellow foodies, Anthony and Eric in the best venue in Baltimore!
Price Range: $29-250*
$250 Ticket includes a Meet and Greet with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert as well as access to the HIPPODROME FOODIE EXPERIENCE.
$89 Ticket includes access to the HIPPODROME FOODIE EXPERIENCE.
|Event times:||22 May 2010 (Sat)|
|Ticket Information:||Tickets on sale now!|
Come into our Box Office Mon-Sat 11a-3p
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Everyone enjoys peanuts, right? I certainly always have. Recently someone thoughtfully gave me a bag of the new smoky bacon flavored peanuts by Planters. I have had the bag in my possesion for about three hours now, and I have knocked out more than half of it. Addicting and delicious. From what I have read online, this flavor is part of a series of new BOLD flavors from Planters. Wasabi anyone? If any of the others are half as good as bacon flavor, I am in.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The menu offers an interesting selection of authentic Mexican and Peruvian offerings. The Peruvian rotisserie chicken is without a doubt, the head attraction for most first time visitors, and it does not let down.
I ordered the half chicken platter ($6.95,) which came along with two sides. I went for beans and fried yucca (I wrote plantains before, what was I thinking?!?!). The chicken was moist and delicate - delicious in every way possible. Then there is the skin. My god the skin! Covered with a mixture of spices and seasonings that compliment the crispy, fatty texture of the surface in the best way.
Kim opted for the Carnitas Tacos($7.95). Actually, this is a lie. I ordered everything that I thought sounded good under the agreement that we would share. I was very happy to see the tacos were double wrapped and served with a side of pico de gallo in the traditional style. Very simple, very traditional, very tasty.
For the price of this amazing food and the portions delivered; I cannot fathom why anyone would ever eat generic chain-made, frozen, bland, sub par Latin food.
714 York Road
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Walking in to the new space, it is clear that the owners have invested a great deal to make sure the area is aesthetically pleasing. There is a great deal of intricate woodwork throughout the restaurant with simple details that create a warm environment. Outside of the normal booth and table seating, Jasmine also offers tatami rooms. These are the small private Japanese style rooms with shoeless floor seating. This alone will undoubtedly attract a curious crowd.
Generally it does not speak well of a place that tries to do too many things at once. The menu at Jasmine is advertised as a mix of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai offerings. I admire the aspiration to do a little bit of everything, but I think doing one thing well makes you just as special.
We started the meal with a Spicy Korean Soup and Thai Beef Salad. The soup was spicy as promised, and had a whole assortment of meats, seafood, and veggies. The only thing that tasted traditionally Korean was the broth, but it was still a nice start to the meal. The Thai beef salad consisted of a pleasantly med-rare sliced steak over some assorted vegetables. It was about as westernized as Asian food can get, but the steak was nice.
For entrees we chose the Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Crispy Sesame Tofu. I requested the curry to be as spicy as possible, but as often happens, I was given the white boy heat. Flavors in the curry were mostly spot on accurate to what I was expecting. The use of spice and seasoning could have lifted the dish to the next level, and yet I feel as though the kitchen purposely holds back. The tofu dish was actually something I would order again. It was not overly sweet and was properly fried. The portions of both dishes were more than either of us could finish and one dish probably could have fed both of us.
Just to make sure we had hit every major region of Asia during the meal, we ordered a bottle of Sake to accompany the food. The waitress was very supportive of our decision, and the sake was quite nice. Jasmine boasts a full bar and a very respectable selection of different Sake. What really perplexed me was the inclusion of a variety of Tiki drinks on the alcohol menu. I can only picture the conversation that led to that one. "Americans love drinks with umbrellas served in huge heads! Remember the sixties?!?"
I had a difficult time being my normal judgmental and embittered self when it came to Jasmine. The staff and service were incredibly pleasant and accommodating. The owner even stopped by our table to ask how everything was and inquired as to how we had learned of their opening. It's quite clear that they are making a very heartfelt attempt at putting their best foot forward with every aspect of the restaurant and I applaud the effort.
If you're an admitted snob when it comes to Asian food like me; and demand authenticity, then this place may not be for you. For the more casual diner, I think Jasmine will find a loyal following. With the exertion they seem to be putting forward thus far, they deserve to find one.
Jasmine Asian Bistro
2141 York Rd
Timonium, MD 21093