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Everything posted by Al_Dente

  1. Al_Dente

    An Ideal Negroni

    I've become enamored with this drink as of late, but I've often found that I'm drinking a cocktail that is only a shadow of what it could be. So, aside from a restaurant or two where I know it's made to my liking, I think I'll stick to making them at home. I need some Campari obviously, but which gin? Which sweet vermouth? What proportions? Any other tips?
  2. I'm thinking of making this on Saturday for four people. Recipes? On the grill? Sear in a pan? What cut? What would you serve with it? I need the kind of sage advice only eGullet can provide.
  3. Al_Dente

    Coffee Storage

    I know I'll be told I should be roasting my own beans, or only buying small freshly roasted quantities, but does freezing your beans degrade the flavor or save it?
  4. Saturday night, after the rain stopped, we went over to 8th St to find someplace casual to eat. Since moving to Capitol Hill, I’ve been desperately looking for a nearby place that could be my regular hangout. Looks like that Belgian place (Belga?) is pretty close to opening. Took a look at Marty's but decided against it. The Chinese joint didn't look promising. So we went to the Starfish Cafe and got a table outside. The service was disorganized to say the least, but we eventually were served a bottle of wine and got a chance to get our orders in. The Oysters Bienville was forgettable but the "Caesar's" salad was remarkable. Well, remarkable in the sense that I'd like to make some remarks. It did have Romaine lettuce. And it was served on a plate. But that's where any similarity ended. Something off-white and waxy was grated over it. It may have been some kind of cheese, but it could just as well have been grated candle. The dressing seemed to be made of plain vegetable oil and water. My girlfriend’s chicken encroute was the highlight of the evening, but that ain’t saying much. It was edible. I ordered pistachio encrusted sea bass with crawfish. I don’t know what it was I was served—it had the texture of fish, and there were nuts involved, but I can’t be sure. There was one whole steamed crawfish on the plate, and what seemed to be a few hard heavily fried crawfish tails. Or pencil erasers. I dunno. I wasn’t expecting much, but there was such carelessness in the way everything was prepared that I wondered what the point was in this place existing at all. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that I could have had a better meal at Ruby Tuesday’s or some similar dreck factory. Why can’t there be a reliably decent restaurant in Capitol Hill? The search continues…
  5. Al_Dente

    Braised Brisket: The Topic

    My best friend is hosting Passover this year, and I'm going to go for my first Seder. I do quite a lot of cooking for him and his wife, and have often been responsible for most of the food at a few dinner parties we've thrown (usually to great success). Well now I'm on the hook for the brisket. I feel kinda like I'm in charge of making the turkey for Thanksgiving having never had it before. I mean, I've used brisket before when BBQing, but this is different. It seems to me there may be certain expectations about what a Passover brisket dish should be. So I'd like your feedback. What do you think of this recipe? Do you see any pitfalls or have any advice? I'm confident I can prepare this dish well, I just want to make sure everyone will be happy with it. Thanks! BRISKET WITH DRIED APRICOTS, PRUNES, AND AROMATIC SPICES
  6. Al_Dente

    Behold My Butt! (2003–2006)

    Did this pork butt on the Weber over the course of about 4 hours. I used real lump charcoal pushed up against 2 sides of the grill to heat indirectly. The meat turned out well, but could have been more "fall off the bone" tender. I tracked the temperature inside and was able to keep it to about 250 most of the time, but it occasionally spiked to 350 or a little more when I added a few coals. After it rested for about 45 mins, I shredded it and served it up Carolina style with some vinegar based hot sauce I made. Any advice on how to keep the temp down and perfect this thang?
  7. On August 14th I'll arrive in SF with my girlfriend. We'll stay a couple of nights, move on down to somewhere around Big Sur, and then move on down to somewhere within 4 or 5 hours of San Diego where we'll spend the 20th through the 22nd at my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. Questions: 1) I've been to SF many times, but my girlfriend has not been at all. What restaurant would be a great place to go-- not a tourist joint, but somewhere where the locals go-- something quintessentially San Francisco. Money IS an object, so we're not doing anything French Laundry level. 2) We won't get a chance to go to Napa or Sonoma this time, but are there any vineyards worth checking out on the way south along the coast? 3) Any good food finds around Big Sur? 4) Any good recommendations for areas to stay for a couple of nights between Big Sur and San Diego? We're not thinking of doing anything in L.A. but maybe somewhere relatively close to it? Sorry to be so vague. 5) Are any of you CA eGulleters up for a drink? I value your opinion. And a complete write up will follow when we get back. Thanks!
  8. Al_Dente

    The best SERVICE in DC?

    One thing that would make for good service is that either an establishment accepts credit cards for payment, or a sign clearly states that they're cash-only at the door. Murky Coffee does neither of these things. I just got back from standing in line to purchase a pound of beans only to find out they don't take plastic when I got to the cash register. So I incur the ATM fee (effectively increasing the cost of the coffee by 20%) to grab some cash and then head back to stand in line again.
  9. That's the place! Out of the hundreds of restaurants in Princess Anne, you picked the right one!
  10. Al_Dente

    Sea Urchin in DC?

    Go to the seafood dept, ask for the manager (ATL or TL in WF lingo), and see what they have to say. They're usually quite accommodating.
  11. Anyone for muskrat? I had it once down in Princess Ann MD, just south of Salisbury where I used to live. It was godawful.
  12. Al_Dente

    Sea Urchin in DC?

    I betcha Whole Foods would special order it for you.
  13. As stated above-- go check out Eastern Market. Perhaps you could go to the Library of Congress, check out the inside (one of the most beautiful interiors in DC, IMHO), then take a walk down stately East Capitol St and make a right on 7th St. In a couple of blocks, you'll be there. Murky Coffee is a great place to stop, but don't be suckered in to going to the temptingly named Bread and Chocolate a couple of doors down. The pastries and bread are at best so-so.
  14. It would be a good idea if someone brought "Dueling Banjos". Dean loves that tune! PM me if you need me to send an MP3. Regards, Al "Pissed He Can't Make It" Dente
  15. My wife and I were just about to head out the door from her aunt and uncle's place to fly home to DC when I got a call from Independence Air letting me know my flight was cancelled and I can't go home until tomorrow. Therefore, I'm not sure at this point whether we can make it, so I'll call Busboy (I have his cell #) in the early afternoon to let him know. Oh well, guess I'll just have to sit on this deck overlooking remarkably beautiful Lake Mahopac in upstate NY, drink wine, fire up the grill, and maybe do a drunken sunset cruise on the boat or waverunners. Wonder if I can find some good fresh seafood somewhere around here.
  16. Al_Dente

    Composed Salads--Cook-Off 12

    A good variation on a Caprese salad is to include slices of watermelon and substitute a good creamy feta for the mozzarella.
  17. I have it on good authority that we can Al Dente +1 ← Fo shizzle!
  18. It's like deja vu all over again.
  19. Would DC count as a state? I still have to get it on our official calendar with the missus, but I feel I'd be an excellent representative from the state that ain't a state. Plus I have some seniority.
  20. I lovED the Griffin Pub. But I went a couple of weeks ago, and the food seemed to be a pale shadow of its former self. They still have a few good English beers on tap, like John Courage, so it's certainly worth the stop, but I can't say that it made me moist. You can grab a bottle of HP sauce and cover up the mediocrity a bit though.
  21. Would it help if I brought the biggest yellowest Perdue chicken on steroids I could find and roasted it until it's dry and chewy? I'm looking into whether or not we can make it. Hope so!
  22. Where are you going to get your birds? I assume you'll go free-range organic.
  23. Al_Dente

    "Pig Pickin" signature drink

    < cue "Dueling Banjos" > Brainstorming here... Dueling Banjuice? Not sure what you'd put in it, but it should be garnished with a piece of cracklin.
  24. How does one properly pronounce "Le Creuset"?
  25. I was eating at a tapas bar in Seville Spain and saw a plate of some sort of meat substance in a brown sauce served to another customer. I pointed at it and was given a dish for myself. I enjoyed it, but to this day I have no idea what kind of beast I was eating. I went through the few Spanish words I knew for various animals and then resorted to sound effects to cover the rest of the possible suspects, but the server just shook her head "no" to each of my guesses. They were small morsels with cartilage-ish bones that formed a kind of joint. It was almost like your thumb but with more meat (and no nail). Any idea what I ate? It was more like beef than chicken with maybe a bit of porkiness.