Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Need a Logo!

If you read this blog (there aren't many of you,) you will have noticed the incredible plain nature of the page. I need something to jazz up the design a bit. Sadly though, a reasonably well trained primate could probably accomplish more with Photoshop than me. So I call out to you foodies and nice people of the internet. Please help me in my quest! I am not looking for anything super fancy, just something that would fit my name and style.

In the meantime, the logo will have to stay with what my buddy Eric so fiendishly created in about two minutes of MS Paint. It made me laugh, so here it will stay until I find something more befitting.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whole Foods - Everywhere USA

I had a work appointment downtown in Harbor East this week, and happened to be right near the local Whole Foods store. I had never been inside one and wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. I have to say that I was quite impressed in their large selection of produce and hard to find products. What I was most enthused with though, was the meat selection!

I have never seen properly made English banger sausages outside of a butchers or specialty store. The moment I saw them behind that counter, I knew I was making Bangers and Mash for dinner. I have to say that I was slightly skeptical about then quality that could be provided by a major chain supermarket. There was no reason for my apprehension. These things were absolutely fabulous. As soon as I took a bite, there was a slight snap of the casing, followed by a rush of childhood flavors flowing through my mouth. My grandmother in England would have enthusiastically approved!

I saw some dry aged beef and chorizo that caught my interest as well. If they end up being half as good as the bangers, I will start living inside Whole Foods!

Below is a snippet from the whole foods website that illustrates their excellent commitment to high standards for all meat they sell.

Farm Animal and Meat Quality Standards

Meat Quality

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

Veal Calves

  • 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

Uncle Liu's Hot Pot - Fairfax, VA

Finally! I have been dreaming of authentic Sichuan hot pot constantly since I first tried the spicy cauldron of yummy in China a few years ago. For those not familiar with hot pot, imagine fondue, but replace cheese or chocolate with a spicy cauldron filled with spicy hot peppers, and numbing Sichuan flower peppers. I have been searching for this dish fervently around my area, and I ended up finding it by accident while working in Fairfax. Not how I expected to find it, but I will gladly take it!

There are variety of options of broth choices. Classic spicy, classic non spicy, fish head, and a mushroom. We opted for the half and half ying-yang dish of classic spicy and classic non spicy. I asked for the spicy half to be mind numbing hot, but my server seemed to doubt my abilities to handle the full blast. Sadly in my experience I feel as though I am often given the gringo treatment when ordering spicy items in ethnic restaurants. In fact, my only real gripe with the entire experience is that the broth could have actually had more in the way of peppers and spice. This is not as hot as you will receive in Chongquing or Chendu, but its probably about as good as you will find stateside.

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.

While it wasn't quite as spicy as I may have hoped, it was still probably hot enough for the majority of people out there. Just the smell when walking in the front door of the restaurant took me right back to China. Hot Pot is such a great social dish. You can eat it with a large group of people at your table and share a little bit of everything. I truly hope that more places start trusting that there is a market for this type of food out there. Uncle Liu's, I salute you!