Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Luscious Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon - Ohh La La

So the other day I caught the culinary bug again. This time the ocean was calling to me. I decided to pick up some lovely Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon (Available April – October). I do not have  a lot of experience with this fish, so true to form, I decided to wing it. I came up with a lovely baked salmon with Honey Habenero Sauce from Po River Apiary (More information included below), Citrus rind seasoning, basil, cilantro, and dill. It was FABULOUS. I am happy to report it was cooked perfectly, not dry at all. For this use a meat thermometer and common sense. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees according to the government food safety website (Click here for more information). It just melted on my tongue.  

Po River Apiary is located in Spotsylvania Virginia. They produce a wide variety of items, but all are made from their own naturally harvested honey. In this recipe I used their wonderful Honey Habenero sauce (Which is more like a glaze). It is deliciously sweet with a subtle kick, perfect for cooking fish. The uses for this product are only as limited as your imagination.  You can view their product brochure online at: This kicks off another new article series, The BEST Places You Should Know About. Follwing this maiden voyage, we will be bringing interviews from local businesses that everyone should sit up and take notice. Coming soon is the Organic Butcher of McLean. Please stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Best 'O Veg - Part 1 - Italian

This blog, like many of the restaurants in this here US of A, tends to be more meat centric. What many of my readers may not know about me is that I am pro vegetarian and was a card carrying member for 3 full years. No red meat, white meat, or fish. I had to give up that lofty pursuit when my cravings got worse and worse. I was getting proper nutrition, so skeptics; keep your snarky comments to yourself.
Suffice it to say, in 3 years you learn a lot about restaurants and where to find the best veg food around. I will share this vital knowledge with you now grasshopper. Periodically I will throw out these Best ‘O Veg reviews. It will showcase a paticular cuisine/establishment.  Today I will post a review for Famous Luigi’s in DC, once on my vegetarian restaurant review website. Enjoy…

Famous Luigi’s
1132 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-7574

I am of the belief that on one’s 1st visit to Famous Luigi’s Italian Restaurant, in NW DC, the pizza should be their starting point. I have had the privilege of eating their food on 3 occasions. This DC locale has been at the same building for almost 70 years. In that time they have most definitely mastered their trade.

My introduction to their groundbreaking pizza ruined me for pizza from any other food establishment. I had ordered a pizza with mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and extra cheese. Upon my 1st bite of this masterpiece, I believe my eyes rolled back into my head.

I have always been of the school of thought that pizza was one of those foods that was good, but not worthy of culinary worship as fine cuisine. Luigi’s has single-handedly torn down my misconceived opinion in one meal.

I eat pizza from the usual places, but this pizza was beyond anything I had ever experienced. The cheese was heavy, but not overwhelming, the toppings were fresh and not overcooked, the tomato sauce was flavored beautifully and not too heavy, but the crowning point of this meal was the crust.

Normally I leave the crust. Most crust lacks flavor and texture, and does not impress me. There can be no doubt that this crust is made by scratch, and from true Svengalis of this profession. I can honestly say I have never tasted crust this good before (could you tell?). It was soft and hearty at the same time, but my favorite aspect was the lovely yeast flavor, it is what really makes this crust unique.

I have also tasted the appetizers, Melanzane fritte (fried eggplant) and the Mozzarella fritte (homemade mozzarella; breaded & fried). Both are EXCELLENT and completely homemade. The eggplant breading did lack seasoning, but all it really needed was a little salt and it was still amazing. The texture was perfect.

On my most recent visit, I finally tried their pasta (made in-house). I tasted their Fetuccine alla Luigi (homemade pasta sautéed with cream sauce & parmigiano). This is essentially their version of Fettuccini Alfredo. I also tried their Gnocchi alla bava - potato dumplings in three cheeses. I can tell you, without hesitation, that I have never tasted better.

What people do not realize, is that fresh homemade food, like pasta, looks very different than what most people are familiar with. This kind of food lacks the pre-fab/out of the jar appearance of most chain restaurants (ie: Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill). The pasta has a more yellow color, and for the 1st time I was eating pasta at an Italian restaurant that was cooked to perfection – Al dente. At every single eatery I have been too, the pasta is always overcooked to some extent.

The sauce was a simple creation and elegant in its simplicity. It was like you could name each ingredient in it by tasting it. There is no mass-produced, from the grocery store, generic mush from Luigi’s.

My opinion is, visit this place as soon as you can, you will not regret it.


Since writing this entry I have also had the privilage of trying the angel hair arrabiatta. Technically not on the menu, it is a must order. I have never eaten angel hair in a restaurant the was perfectly al dente. I could die happy now. The sauce bursting with flavor Italiano with a touch of zing. Eat eat eat!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Honey Pig - Annandale VA

What is Honey Pig you might ask. Honey Pig is a singular experience. I find it difficult to properly describe in words (although, I will try anyway). It is not just a Korean BBQ restaurant, but an experience in Korean culture.

What I like best about HP, is that it was made to please Koreans. When  I went, I was one of the only white people there. I always believe that the true way to tell if a restaurant is serving authentic cuisine, is by watching the clientele that frequent the establishment. The fact that 95% (give or take) of the diners were Korean, made me confident that this would be the real deal.

The atmosphere in HP was frantic with servers running about setting up grills at new customers tables, setting the meat to cook, bringing plates full of lettuce, Kimchi, and other accompaniments. The design of this place is very urban and spartan. Nothing was hanging about that did not serve a purpose. It was an environment completely foreign to me. In fact, I felt like this could be the closest to what it would feel like to be in Korea.

Koreans reading this will likely laugh at me. Silly white woman does not realize what Korea is really like. They would be right. But like Korea it felt. It was hot, vibrant, and bustling, and I have not even gotten to the food yet!

When we entered, our table was immediately served individual small dishes with Kimchi, which I  had never tried and was nervous about, and other similar style vegetables. There were also individual leaves of lettuce which confused me. There were 2 dipping sauces and sliced onion with chopped (yes more) lettuce.

I had tried Korean food in the past, but this experience was totally new. I felt like a tourist and little out of place, but in a good way. For the 1st time in a very long while, I was giddy, excited about this new gastronomic experience.

I ordered the pork belly, and my friend with me ordered bulgoggi. The servers here move with purpose and focus, and it was not long at all before our grill was sizzling with yummy marinated meats. Served with rice and an additional vegetable mixture that seems primarily mung bean sprouts. I was thrilled to learn that I actually do like Kimchi. The spicy sour flavor goes perfectly when eaten in conjunction with the rice and meat. I also learned the purpose of all that lettuce. By observing the table next to me, the chopped lettuce is eaten together with the meat, almost like a salad. The large leaves are used to wrap various ingredients. I tried both ways and they are fabulous together.

A table neighbor was even patient with me when I inquired about a dish they were eating. It is steamed and made of eggs, almost like an egg souffle. It is called Gaeran Jim. It is very mild and quite fluffy in texture. The fried dumplings are also painfully delicious. There was literally nothing off with this meal. It was perfect.

If you just adore Korean food, or if you are in the mood for a vacation from the norm (according to us that is), Honey Pig is just what you have been looking for. The only downside is can be difficult to communicate with the staff, so be patient, it is all part of the process. 

Contact Information
7220 Columbia Pike
Ste C

Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: (703) 256-5229