Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What makes those pots and pans so warped?

As i was cooking the other day, I noticed the pan I was using was slightly warped, and I got to thinking what causes such a phenomenon. I will list the reason below. These are based on my research.

1. Cooking on too high heat
Most pots and pans that we buy are not meant for high heat. It seems you do get what you pay for. The best ones would be the All-Clad variety. The more layers of steel the better. These resist warping.

2. Taking a hot pan and rinsing immediately in cold water.
Most pans do not like drastic temperature change, go figure. Of course, we do not like it either.

The downside is, all-clad is horrifically expensive. If you cannot indulge in a set, treat your current pans with loving care, and they will continue to provide you with tasty meals.

Ciao for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bella Café - Stafford, VA

If you are ever down in the Stafford VA area, you might want to give this little funky dive a visit. It is a small quaint café that offers a fresh, if limited menu, and a venu for local artists. I stopped by when killing time this morning. I had passed it on many occasions, but had never had the opportunity to pay it my patronage. Today, I just had the freedom, and the inclination.

 I must say I was pleased with the experience, and it made me wish I lived a bit closer.  The soup of the day was a cream of portabella and brie. The thought of this combination was such I was too weak to resist. I decided to go with the bowl of soup and sandwich combo. In addition to the soup I ordered a gyro.

The soup was a menagerie of luscious and complex flavors. I was really surprised to find such a jewel at this little out of the way place. Anyone who knows me, knows I cannot turn down cheese. It may very well be my favorite food. The gyro was a tasty accompaniment; fresh and well seasoned, but the soup was the pièce de résistance. The only downside is that it is not the standard everyday  soup. You may need to call in advance to see what soup they are preparing that day. If you do happen to get a chance to try this delicious elixir, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to do so.

Contact Information:
3871 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Stafford, VA 22554
Phone: 703-445-8855
Website: http://www.mybellacafe.com/

Bella Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jasmine Café - Lake Anne in Reston, VA

Reston Virginia, a little gem of a non-town smack dab between Herndon and Vienna. It is a place I am happy to call home. There are two major centers of note in Reston, the Town Center, and Lake Anne Plaza (The ORIGINAL center). These 2 centers are, for the most part, polar opposites. Reston Town Center is all about what is trendy. There are chain restaurants (Some good, do not get me wrong), and chain stores. It is what most on NOVA has become. I enjoy RTC, but in usual form, I like the unusual best.

I am a monster fan of the local restaurant. A dying breed in this area where you can find anything you want, as long as it is a chain. Lake Anne Plaza seems to be one of the last strongholds of the unique and local. Many small restaurants call this locale home, the one of my focus today is Jasmine Café.

Like all the restaurants in LAP, it is small and charming. It is amazing to go at night when a lovely peace falls over the lake, even though there are people around, it is more a pleasant hum than a roar. Most places today make real conversation something you have to really work for as the hoards and loud music overtake the experience. That is not the case with Jasmine, she is a warm and inviting host. I have met the single owner of this diamond, Eduardo Faubert, and he, like Jasmine and the food prepared within, was delicious and non pretentious.

Many small gourmet places are puffed up with their feelings of importance. To be truly important, you must produce the goods to back your claim. They do that here at the Jasmine Café. The menu is ever changing. Usually printed on a simple piece of paper, they stick with what is seasonal and at its peak of freshness.

On my recent trip, I was feeling more in a beef mood. I was awfully tempted by the Pan roasted rockfish with a balsamic vinegar reduction, spring vegetables, & fingerling potatoes. I ended up getting the Pan-seared Tenderloin of Beef with a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce, seasonal vegetables and scalloped potatoes. More on this in one moment. I cannot skip the starter.

The current menu was so packed with the promise of deliciousness, that I could not deny myself a bowl of the Sweet Potato Chipotle soup, nor the sauteed cornmeal crusted Chicken Livers with Prune Sauce and Garlic Crouton. The idea of a prune sauce may seem odd, but was a perfect balance of sweet to the saltiness (not too much) of the livers. The chicken livers were expertly executed. Not overcooked not under cooked. The cornmeal was a very light layer lending it a slight crisp and nutty flavor. This was a superb beginning.
The sweet potato soup was creamy and zesty with a touch of sweetness. A small, oh so small pinch of salt would have made this voluptuous soup pure desire in a bowl.

Now I meander back to my entree. As stated, I was torn as to whether I should indulge in the fish or beef. I was so torn, I begged our server to help me make up my mind, but even she seemed indecisive as to which she would "classify" as better. What finally made me decide was the fact that I was having medical tests done the next day that would not allow me to eat until supper. I decided heavier dinner might be the better pick for this evening.

Filet is not always the popular choice of of cut amongst chef's who follow trends. Everyone has an opinion. Right now, popular opinion is not loving this cut of beef. I for one still enjoy the delicate flavor and juicy texture. The medium rare filet and rich Gorgonzola cream sauce was a heady combination to say the least. The sauce I could simply eat with a spoon. The full flavor of the cheese was represented. This was not a run of the mill homogenized creme sauce, but one skillfully made by hand. The Gorgonzola was front and center, but managed to not over take the graceful flavor of the filet.

The same praise can be awarded the side dishes. The scalloped potatoes were creamy on the inside with a light touch of onion, and crispy on the outside.

After all that richness, I could not resist sharing the Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake (with melted chocolate center drizzled with vanilla and strawberry sauces and fresh strawberries) with my husband. The title pretty much sums up this hedonistic treasure. I highly recommend that when you are done, and the luscious pool of melted chocolate lay on your plate, make those fresh strawberries earn their keep and sop up all that chocolate for the perfect finish.

Contact Information:

1633 Washington Plz # A
Reston, VA 20190
jasminecafe.com (Currently not working)

Jasmine Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thai Phoon

Thai food is one of the best cuisines on earth, but depending on my mood, anything can be the best on earth.

Consistently I am a big fan of Asian food as a whole. I like to try new things, and Asian food is different in almost every way that is familiar to us. From ingredients, spices, or execution, it differs from what is safe.

Of the Asian genre, Thai is high up on my favorites list. I enjoy the combination of fresh herbs and spices. Everything on my plate tastes like the chef had just snipped that leaf off the plant before placing it in my entree. When I eat Thai, it is like a celebration on my tongue. So far, there are only a few in the area that I would say I classify as the best.

ThaiPhoon is one of these illustrious few. I was in Dupont Circle recently for a couple of days on a conference. I enjoyed the menu so much on my first day, I returned for a repeat performance on the second day.

This place was humming for lunch. As a starter I went with the Crab-Shrimp Rolls (crispy rolls stuffed with crab meat, shrimp, glass noodles and vegetables, served with sweet & sour sauce). These perfect little packets of tasty joy. Very much like a spring roll, but centered around a succulent shrimp. All the best ingredients, as a spring roll should be.

For my entree, I went with the Bangkok Sea Breeze (A combination of shrimp, scallops, squid, and mussels stir-fried with celery-omitted ingredient by my request, onions, scallions, and egg in a delicious yellow curry sauce.). This was a mild curry dish the was the epitome of the perfect Thai entree. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, a party of freshness dancing on my plate. The best aspect of this dish was that everything was cooked precisely as it should. Not everyone likes squid (I, of course, do). For those who enjoy its subtle flavor and distinct texture will be thrilled to know that ThaiPhoon are experts at preparing it. It was cooked to soft, not at all rubbery. The perfect touch. Everything in this dish was prepared to its peak. A fabulous accomplishment.

On the second day, I had to do a repeat performance of the crab shrimp rolls, but purposely tried a different entree. For this day I went with the Pad Poy Sian (Combination of chicken, beef, and shrimp stir-fried with mixed vegetables and bean thread in a light garlic sauce.). Another mild dish, but as many know, Thai mild and our mild are not quite the same thing. Keep that in mind when you order. Once again I enjoyed the delicious balance of herbs and spices expertly mingled with perfectly cooked ingredients. Nothing over done. Not too garlicy, nothing that takes over the dish. All ingredients are mixed in harmony. Another ingredient not known by all was featured in this dish, glass noodles (or bean threads, or Woon Sen). Glass noodles are a very very fine noodles made from the mung bean sprout. They are so fine and thin that they are practically clear and lower in carbs and calories since it originates from a bean sprout and not a starch. Interesting little factoid.

One could not go wrong with either of these dishes, nor would I imagine, any dish on this menu. The best part is how reasonably priced they are considering being anywhere in the metro DC area, let alone the center of a trendy DC district. If you are looking for out of this world Thai food, this should be your destination.

Contact information:
ThaiPhoon Restaurant
2011 "S" Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20009
Tel : 202-667-3505
Fax : 202-667-8018
Email : infodc@thaiphoon.com
Website : www.thaiphoon.com

Thaiphoon on Urbanspoon

Lets Begin Again

This is a restart of this little food blog of mine. I started, but realized later I spelled the title incorrectly, so we will begin again.

You may ask why I started this blog. I have a blog already, mind you, it is currently underused I admit. Sorry about that, but my soap box has been a bit broken lately. I have a feeling that will change soon.

I digress. From the title of this blog you can probably discern its purpose, food. I like food, and I like it for many reasons, as my waistline can attest. I enjoy it for its art, for its comfort value, and social implications to name a few.

I tend to enjoy delvings into this craft as created by others, but there are times when I have had the inspiration and taken matters into my own hand. For this reason this blog will serve multiple purposes involving food. I will be reporting various tastings to be had at local establishments, and reporting on any other food related topics, including my own dabbling.

I hope you enjoy the journey...