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Posts posted by bilrus

  1. I tried it last week and I didn't really like the ice cream itself all that much.  I want to get back and try just an ice though.

    Yeah - that was a mistake. I'm addicted now. But the fruit flavors only.

    Ya' know, they sell it in a gallon container. :blink:

  2. Two quick places I really like (both very cheap) are Minerva (I think the best indian in DC but other will argue) and SBC cafe in the same shopping center has the best roast beef sandwich in town. 

    These are two that I like a lot myself, especially Minerva for Indian. And I'd recommend the Cubano at SBC myself.

    The Town Center is the hub of activity in Reston, but the restaurant offerings aren't great. I have had a few passable things at Busara, Rio Grande (a local chain) for Tex-Mex and McCormick and Schmicks for seafood.

    Reston Kabob, off of Sunrise Valley is good for what it is, basic kabobs and bread.

    El Manatial in the Tall Oaks Shopping Center is good Mediterranian, with some tapas and pretty good pizzas. Also in that shoppng center, there is a pretty good little Pho place.

    I am not a big sushi fan, but Ariake in the Hunter's Woods shopping center is nice and pretty good for rolls (that's all I order).

    Beyond that if you're looking for a top level place near here, one of the challengers for best restaurant in the area is Maestro at the Ritz in Tyson's Corner. Also in Tyson's Colvin Run Tavern is generally very good American cooking and a little further in Falls Church is 2941, American tasting menus in a dramatic interior.

    you might also check out two websites:

    Chowhound and google tyler cowen lone resturant critic.  Tyler has a very good website about great ethic places around DC


    I'd also recommend DonRockwell.com for more dc food yak.

  3. One other thing I forgot to add - I used the called for 4 ozs of potato chips and seven large size eggs and the tortilla ended up more "egg-y" than I had anticipated and than other tortillas I've made in the past.

    Anyone else have that problem or should it actually be more egg than potato? Should I have used samller eggs? Chef Andres?

  4. Most excellent, Bill. How did you like the chocolate-bread-olive oil dessert? What kind of chocolate did you use?

    I love the frisee salad idea.

    The Chocolate bread was interesting - I think I over toasted the bread just a bit. I went really light on the oil on my first piece, but the next two I had I poured a pretty generous drizzle and I liked that better. I think the chocolate brings out the fruitiness of the oil a bit. And I've become a big fan of fleur de sel on sweets lately.

    We used 2 chocolates - Scharffenberger milk chocolate and semisweet. I couldn't find any Spanish chocolate at Balduccis this weekend. Both jenrus and I typically like milk chocolate better but in this she preferred the semisweet and I liked the milk chocolate better.

  5. Here are the results of my non-traditional steak dinner:

    Frisee au lardons with chorizo replacing the lardons and sherry vinaigrette:





    Route 11 Tortilla:


    Slow roasted tenderloin with Cabrales:



    Even barkrus the dog enjoyed a bite of the beef with his kibble:


    Toasted bread with chocolate, olive oil and sea salt:


  6. Seeing this thread again has me excited as I am on the way to the store to buy the ingredients for my dinner tonight - a "non-traditional" steak dinner - all with recipes from the book (except the salad).

    Frisee au lardons with chorizo replacing the lardons and sherry vinaigrette (my own creation)


    Route 11 Tortilla

    Slow roasted tenderloin with Cabrales

    Toasted bread with chocolate, olive oil and sea salt

    Pictures tonight.

  7. Each service piece has a reason.

    I have to disagree. Some pieces did make sense - I thought the heated stone griddle for the lamb dish I described was ingenious and certainly added to it.

    On the other hand, one dish was served in a small spoon using the "anti-plate" - basically the rim of a dish with no bottom. Why? Aside from being different than all the places that serve something like that in a Chinese soup spoon. The final dish (a peanut based dish, if I remember off the top of my head) was served on a piece with five wires protruding from it. Granted, I can't see how this particular dish could have been served any other way, but it seemed to me like an excuse to use the tool, rather than a way to enhance the dish.

    And, while it wasn't a service piece, a puffed lobster chip which was meant to be eaten by hand was surprising and delicious - a gourmet pork rind, if you will. But it was awkward to eat, cracking and crumbling onto the table and into my lap. It was still good enough that I greedily retrieved the fallen pieces and finished the dish.

    Either way, I don't want to make a big issue of it, because my comments about the serving pieces were a minor point in the scheme of things. With or without the gimmicks Alinea is still an important restaurant and what Chef Achatz is doing, especially with the food itself, is exciting.

  8. Based on my visit a few weeks ago, everything you've read is true - the good and the bad.

    The good is very good. A beautiful spare set of rooms with more personal space than any restaurant I've been to. Gracious, if a bit self-conscious, service. And food that works more often than it doesn't and occasionally soars beyond what you expect.

    This was more serious, less scientific cooking than I expected. If Minibar here in DC is the free-wheeling, whimsical side of this family of cooking, Alinea is the serious, career minded younger sibling. The dishes that worked the best were the ones that didn't try too hard to dazzle.

    A perfectly cooked piece of hamachi stood out despite being crusted in peanuts and the plate being dotted with a berry sauce and sauteed young peanuts - that's right – another take on peanut butter and jelly, this time with the fish taking the place of the bread. Someone in the kitchen showed some serious knife skills evidenced in a dish with the smallest imaginable brunoises of summer vegetables that heightened their delicacy against a similarly small but robustly flavored piece of lamb, seared on the table. A dish of luscious, barely cooked Kobe beef cubes was served with cubes of perfectly ripe watermelon dusted on two sides with cocoa powder to provide a visual complement and textural counterpart to the beef. A cold potato soup served with a hot potato ball, a sliver of truffle and a petite cube of butter challenged in terms of texture and temperature, but the flavors are classic. When the true skills in the kitchen and the excellence of the ingredients were allowed to shine it all came together.

    So what was bad? The highly touted utensils and dishes especially designed for the restaurant and specific dishes for the most part don't add anything to and often detracted from the dishes, making them awkward and hard to eat. The service (very gracious, mind you – especially in taking me back to the kitchen to meet Chef Achatz who was also very gracious taking a few moments to talk with me) as I mentioned, was a bit self conscious, as it has to be when it is necessary to provide a set of instructions with more than half the courses. Some of the attempts at playing with textures were really unpleasant - I particularly remember dry (celery?) leaves in one concoction that made the dish almost hard to swallow. The sweeter courses - there really isn't a distinction between savory and sweet, more like a continuum that is reflected by the bubbles on the menu - were among the weakest dishes served.

    So I left with mixed emotions - thoroughly glad I went, having eaten some fantastic food and enjoying my time there. But I have the sense that Chef Achatz and Alinea are capable of even more.

    The dishes that worked for me were the ones that were the most grounded in reality. Not boring, mind you - each of the truly great dishes had an interesting flavor combination, or a play on texture or temperature, or a unique preparation technique. But only when the flavors spoke louder than the technique did the dishes truly rise above.

    I was there by myself on a business trip and was reading Ruhlman's "Reach of a Chef" between courses. The book spends several chapters on both Achatz and Keller. I naturally spent time mentally comparing the meal I was eating at Alinea with meals at French Laundry and Per Se (admittedly only one each) and I thought at one point that half as many courses consisting of the best dishes I was being served could compete with or even exceed the meals I have had at Keller's restaurants.

    I understand that that ChefG isn't setting out to recreate the French Laundry experience and I wouldn't want that. The experimentation is a large part of the point. I remember him writing somewhere that his goal isn't to create the perfect dish because he'd just want to change it right away. But with maybe a little more perfection that experimentation might take the food even higher. Potentially very high indeed.

  9. The table was too high for me, as I'm 5'4, and the server said I should sit on a pillow and that that's why they were there.  While part of me thought that was cute, another part wondered why the tables were so high or the chairs so low.

    I on the other hand, at 6'5 and bigger than most normal sized humans was grateful for a table and seating that I felt fully comfortable in - not a regular occurrence.

  10. When I was going to college not far from Jefferson City in the late '80s there was the greatest of all culinary delights...

    A two-story, all you can eat Taco Bell with table service.

    Unfortunately it closed down sometime after I graduated. Coincidence?

  11. Here are a few I made the first weekend I had the book.  Garlic Soup, Tomato Bread with Serrano Ham and Orange, Goat Cheese and Almond Salad.

    All were very good, especially the soup. Chunks of bread gave it an interesting body.  I need to dive back into it again.

    Those look delicious! Did you folow the recipes closely, or did you tweak or make any substiutions? Did you have wine with it?

    Sorry I missed this, as I was on vacation last week. I did follow the recipes fairly closely if I remember correctly. The only difference I recall was that the goat cheese I ended up with was less like a chevre than I would have preferred.

    No wine that night. My wife and I aren't typically big wine drinkers at home.

  12. I see a lot of products labeled "Chorizo" in American markets. How do you identify which are Spanish-style and which are Mexican-style if the label doesn't say? (The D'artagnan chorizo is labeled as Spanish-style.) And how can you differentiate among the various Spanish styles (smoked/cured/fresh)?

    The Grand Mart in Sterling (Rochelle knows where I mean) has several different varieties of chorizo with the nationality on the label. I don't recall if they had a Spanish version, but they did have several different Latin American countries in addition to the Mexican.

    The Latin American do ones all seem to be fresh/uncooked.

  13. I was there for the first tiem last week and my service was excellent - nearly the opposite of what you describe. My waitress answered every question I had and even anticipated the questions I would have.

    I too was struck by the saltiness of the sea bream, but I came to realize that the saltiness in several dishes was probably intentional, playing with the textures of different salts and salty ingredients - in the sea bream it was soy vinegar that brought the salt, in another dish the crunch of fleur de sel, in the mussels the source was the brine of the mussels themselves.

    Some dishes fell short for me, but the highs of dishes like the sea bream, the abalone and the mussels soared.

    I was completely charmed by this place.

  14. I stayed at the Sheraton a couple weeks ago and had a great meal at Cuvee, which is about three or four blocks from the hotel in the direction away from the French Quarter on Magazine St. The hotel is on the corner of Canal and Magazine. Don't miss the chili glazed pork belly there.

  15. I just stumbled across this topic and thought I'd add my two cents in case some future eGer looks for the same information. The two biggest spots for Irish Revelry are the aforementioned McGurks in Soulard and Seamus McDaniels in Dogtown (the Irish neighborhood across 40 from Forest Park).

    Seamus' is a particularly good place to get an early start, as the "Parade" (really just a bunch of Irish people walking down the street) goes through Dogtown around noon. McGurks is a bit of a zoo but is ground zero for St. Patrick's day in St. Louis.

    As for the Landing it has been too long since I wasted a good portion of my youth drunk at Harpo's and Sundecker's to give any useful advice.

  16. And, will it be worth eating at Michel Richard's Citronelle now that the Ciabbatta -- originally named Palladin, after Jean-Louis -- is no longer a delight? :laugh:

    Please explain. :smile:

    If I'm not mistaken, Breadline supplies the bread at Citronelle, among other places in town.


  17. I grew up in St. Louis where it was downright unpatriotic to drink anything but AB product. I was a Bud Light guy (thanks in no large part to Spuds Mackenzie) My dad drank Busch. Budweiser was connected at the hand and the heart to the baseball Cardinals.

    Then I went to college in Western Pennsylvania and the Rock became my beer of choice. Still is in fact.

  18. One of my favorite dishes from my visit to minibar a while back was the gucamole dish, which included a tomato sorbet. This new version is presented quite differently. What were the components of the dish - it looks like the avacado is the wrapper?

    It is an example of the dishes that made the most sense to me - the guacamole, the caesar salad, the clam chowder. Dishes that were "re-constructed" for the sake of texture or flavor, often equaling or surpassing the original. I was more disappointed with the reliance on "Wraps" and "Raviolis" in the early days. It looks like they've gotten away from that a little bit.

    You've whetted my appetite to return soon - I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks. :biggrin:

  19. Here are a few I made the first weekend I had the book. Garlic Soup, Tomato Bread with Serrano Ham and Orange, Goat Cheese and Almond Salad.

    All were very good, especially the soup. Chunks of bread gave it an interesting body. I need to dive back into it again.




  20. in looking back over the thread, i thought i really needed to be clearer about my deep affection for the cafe. if i had to pick one place to eat, it would be on my short list of less than half a dozen. compared to that, of course, anything else will seem a little less.

    I agree. I like the Cafe for what it is:

    Informal - Casual is too strong a word as I think it implies a touch of carelessness)

    Warm - I love the lighting as the sunlight streams through the windows, providing almost all the light in the room)

    Simple - Not much more needs to be said if you know anything about Alice Waters' philosophy. Almost counterintuitively I think fewer places get this simple style right than the more elaborate, showy "haute" style

    Happy - I've said it before on this thread but this place puts a smile on my face whenever I sit down.

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