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Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Every Tuesday at 11, food and wine editor Todd Kliman takes your questions about Washington area cuisine and restaurant news. Host Todd Kliman

Editor’s Note: Washingtonian Online moderators and hosts retain editorial control over chats and choose the most relevant questions; hosts can decline to answer questions.

Published January 31, 2012

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype?

The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online. From scoping out scruffy holes in the wall to weighing the merits of four-star wanna-bes, from scouring the 'burbs and exurbs to hitting the city's streets, Todd Kliman covers a lot of territory.

Winner of a James Beard Foundation Award in 2005 for the country's best newspaper column about food, Kliman is food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The Washingtonian. His work has appeared in The New YorkerHarper'sThe Oxford AmericanThe Daily Beast and Men's Health, among others, and he has been selected four times for inclusion in the Best Food Writing anthologies. He is the author of The Wild Vine, a literary exploration of two entwined mysteries: an obscure grape that rose to prominence, only to disappear, and its present-day evangelist, a foul-mouthed transgendered multi-millionaire vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.

Can't wait a week to talk to Todd? Follow him on Twitter for dining reports, tips, and breaking news from the culinary world.


 

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W H E R E   I ' M   E A T I N G   N O W  . . .

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, DC
This jumping fish house in the 14th St. corridor is Jeff and Barbara Black's fifth place, and by far their most funin the room and on the plate. The other surprise? The excellent valuea reminder that among the benefits of a mini-empire is the ability to leverage high-volume purchasing into cut-rate deals. Don't miss the marvelous twist on mariscos, a seafood-laden salsa with fresh-fried chips.

Komi, DC
The best, most sensual, most fully realized restaurant in the area remains Johnny Monis's lair of a place, a sparely appointed East Dupont townhouse withcheck itno menu.

Eola, DC
Daniel Singhofen scrapped his a la carte menu this past April, replacing it with a $65 five-course tasting menu. The move seemed premature, given that the chef had yet to establish his Dupont Circle townhouse restaurant as a landmark dining destination, one that had endured many seasons and fads. But Singhofen and company appear ready to make the leap. Courses are imaginatively conceived without straining for effect, and the execution is clean and precise without lapsing into austerity. Best of all, Singhofen imbues these sophisticated dishes with a quality more precious than all the tricks in the molecular gastronomer's toolkit: soul.

R&R Taqueria, Elkridge
Best Mexican food in the area, and it's not even close. Andit's in a gas station. Worth the drive to Elkridge.

Fiola, DC

Fabio Trabocchi's edge-of-Penn Quarter restaurant has put its tentative beginnings behind it. The dishes emerging from the brick-framed, herb-potted kitchen find the prodigiously talented chef moving further and further from the controlled elegance of his work at the late Maestro. They also find him cooking with a renewed confidence and conviction. The best of these platesan astonishingly flavorful ragu of wild hare with thick bands of papardelle, a double-cut, prosciutto-wrapped veal chop with toasted hazelnuts that accent the sweetness and nuttiness of the meat, a bowl of tender meatballs in a tomato sauce that frankly puts most Italian grandmothers to shamemarry rusticity with refinement. Dessertsincluding a fabulous cone of sugar-dusted bomboloni, with pots of apple marmalade and cinnamon gelatoremain a rousing finish.

Proof, DC
I love the tossed-off sophistication of Mark Kuller's wine-bar-plus, the sense you get that everything just seems to have fallen into place and nobody's straining too hard for effect. The cooking, under the direction of Haidar Karoum, reinforces the feeling with dishes that combine the complexity and intricacy of fine dining with the approachability of a neighborhood bistro: superlative foie gras (seared and served atop a cherry-studded short cake), crisp-skinned branzino in a saffron broth, a knockout plate of spaghetti and meatballs (foie gras is the crucial ingredient, an ingenious way of lightening the texture of the meat without resorting to bready filler). There's a wealth of good, interesting wines to pair with these plates—wines you're simply not going to find anywhere else in the city. The restaurant, to its great credit, makes them available in two-ounce pours that encourages you to try things you wouldn't ordinarily.

Banh Mi DC Sandwich, Falls Church
#1 Combination and #2 Roast Pork. $3.75 apiece. Vivid reminders of what the boring and/or dumbed-down others all miss—the peppery bite, the pronounced sharpness of the pickling, the balance between meats and condiments, the lightness of the loaf. 

Mama Chuy, DC
Working from their perch in a rowhouse across the street from Howard University, a brother-sister team from Guadalajara (by way of Chicago) have delivered one of the great surprises of the season -- a taqueria that aims not merely to be authentic, but to win your hungry heart with its commitment to exactitude and detail. Start with an order of the superlative housemade chips -- as salty, thin and crunchy as you could hope for -- and guacamole, then move on to the tacos and sopes, each presented in easy-to-handle cocktail-size portions. The carnitas sopes (tiny discs of fried masa slathered with refried beans and topped with luscious cubes of marinated, grilled pork) might just be the best three bites of Mexican food you're going to find within city limits.

Rice Paper, Falls Church
This new Eden Center mom 'n' pop, the first restaurant venture for the host family after two-plus decades in the jewelry business, breaks from the drab utilitarianism of its Eden Center peers with a pressed tin ceiling, dangling globe lights, sleek leather chairs, and the requisite industrial brick wall. It's the cooking, though, that commands inspection: spicy lemongrass ribs, garlic-marinated roast chicken with coconut rice, and the most stylish presentation of grilled stuffed grape leaves I've ever seen -- and easily one of the most delicious. The coffee with condensed milk is a must-order, among the strongest and darkest you're going to find.
 
Mio, DC
In its five fitful years, Manuel Iguina's restaurant has endured more identity transplants than a snitch in the witness protection program and more mood swings than a teenie pop star. It's currently up -- way up -- thanks to new chef Giovanna Huyke. Like Iguina, Huyke is a native of Puerto Rico, and much of the inspiration for her menu looks to that small but vibrant island. The chef appears to value execution and lightness even more than boldness and spice, resulting in a slew of big-tasting dishes that don't taste big. Zero in on her roast quail stuffed with foie gras and white polenta, a cubed tuna tartare with orange cream, and, from the bar menu, her irresistible bolsitas -- tiny fried purses filled with juicy pork, served with a guava dipping sauce

 
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Good morning chatters! Our challenge today is designed to help you get something off your chest.

Have you had it with a restaurant's no-reservation policy or two-hour long brunch lines? Did a mustachioed "mixologist" snub you for ordering a vodka tonic? Some know-nothing Yelp reviewer malign your beloved neighborhood pizza joint? A cherished dish get inexplicably 86-ed from the menu of your favorite tapas spot?

Tell the offender how you feel in an open letter, and submit it to the chat. Adopt whatever tone you feel suits the occasion—touching, sarcastic, sincere, enraged—but just make sure it's also intelligent and thoughtful, too. This week's giveaway book: Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue Bible. Best of luck ...


Jessica Voelker

Hi Todd!


I tracked down the Market Punch from Graffiato that the chatter requested last week.

I hope nobody is intimidated by the ginger-jalapeño syrup, it's one of those cocktail terms that sounds fancy but it is pretty simple in practice. (Here's a great recipe from Food & Wine.)

Graffiato's Market Punch

1/2 oz. Blue Coat gin


1/2 oz. ginger-jalapeño syrup


1 oounce fresh grapefruit juice


1/2 ounce lemon juice


Lemon wheel for garnish


Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, strain over ice in rocks glass, garnish with lemon wheel.

Thanks so much for this, Jessica!

I'm still on coffee, but in a couple of hours ... and with a plate of Graffiato's chicken thighs in pepperoni sauce ...

Washington, DC

Mr. Kliman,

I'm turning to you with a question on what best goes with a 1972 Chateau Broustet. My friend "inherited" two bottles and is looking to enjoy them to their fullest.

However, we are at a loss on what to serve with this sweet white wine. The full label that I have written down is below - any suggestions you might have would be appreciated. Chateau Broustet Cru Classe 1855 Haut Barsac Appellation Sauternes 1972 Pierre Fournier

Thank you, so much, and sincerely,

Kathleen

Lucky you!

I just hope that it's held up well.

And you need not fret -- Sauternes is an easy match.

If you want to be indulgent, you can get yourself a lobe of foie gras from Dean and Deluca. (Note to PETA: Best time to reach me today is after 2. I'm happy to be blasted -- again -- for my barbarity and moral and ethical turpitude.)

A lobe isn't cheap, and you'll have leftovers. But that's a happy problem. I'll get to leftovers in a sec.

Cut a thick slice -- about 1" -- of the lobe, season it with kosher salt and pepper, and slip it, gently, into a hot, dry pan. The pan should have been heating on medium for a couple of minutes. (You won't need oil, because the foie gras is so full of fat.) Sear it for a minute or so, then slide a thin spatula underneath it and give it a delicate turn. You'll have lost a good bit of your foie. Not to worry, because you'll have gained a great sear.

You can serve it with many different condiments. I like candied kumquats -- cooking sliced kumquats in a light simple syrup. I also like cubes of apples tossed and darkened in butter, with a splash of white wine and a tiny pinch of ground cloves and nutmeg.

The foie gras with either of these condiments ought to go beautifully with your Sauternes.

Now, if you don't want to go to all that trouble and expense, then I'd simply buy a nice hunk of Epoisses, and another nice hunk of Roquefort, spring for the best baguette you can find, and sit down to a good ol' time with your wonderful and generous friend.

Mala Tang

Todd,

We really want to dine at Mala Tang. Is it possible to do so if one doesn't enjoy really spicy food?

Thanks.

Oh, easily.

Hot pot, the centerpiece of the experience there, isn't spicy at all. Meats and fishes and vegetables, cooked in a beef-based broth -- mild as tapioca. The sauces for dipping are spicy, but they're also optional.

And even the ma la dishes, that are meant to bring together smoke and fire, are not as smoky or as fiery as some.

I'd urge you to order the wood ear mushrooms if you do get a hotpot. With prawns and green bean leaves. A great assortment of tastes and textures, I think.

Also, be sure to order at least one of the scallion pancakes. Irresistible, and not at all spicy.

NW

Re: last week's discussion of local ... and local bookstores:

I love Politics & Prose, but I'm curious as to why you apparently don't think places like Kramerbooks or Bridge Street Books count as "real" local bookstores. The staffs are knowledgeable, the selection wide, and they're cozy enough to make one feel completely comfortable spending 45 minutes walking around browsing.

To stay on the food topic, are there any hidden gems, ideally moderately priced, for dinner in the Metro Center area or within a half-mile of it? It feels like I've been everywhere already and I'm running out of ideas for an upcoming night out.

Thanks.

Well, I don't know where you've been eating near Metro Center, but it's not as if the area's a wasteland ... Bibiana, Central, Brasserie Beck, Cafe du Parc, Tosca, Bistro d'Oc ... I'm taking a pretty liberal definition of "the area," I know, but still -- all within an easy walk ...

And I know I went on and on about my love for Politics and Prose, but that doesn't mean I don't think Kramerbooks and Bridge Street Books aren't fantastic, too. They just slipped my mind, is all ...

So, no aspersions cast -- believe me. And thanks for pointing out my oversight.

I could also add the equally fantastic One More Page Books, in Arlington, which deserves support simply for existing in these perilous times, but also happens to be a warm and welcoming place and to have a good, well-curated selection of books, including books for kids.

Fairfax, VA

Just read your article "The Food-Critic Father" in the current issue of the magazine and thought it was very insightful.

My wife and I do not have kids of our own but many of our friends now have children. We find it rare these days to have a couples night out at a good restaurant. Either because our friends are too tired (dealing with work and children) or have some friends who are against leaving their kids with a sitter or relative for the evening and insist on bringing them with them.

For some our friends we make concessions and try to choose a place that will be somewhat kid friendly, but with other friends have had to give up on going out with them due to their insistence of having their children along.

I love to eat out more than my wife and it has been a fear of mine that having children will reduce my pleasure on eating out at nice places. Reading your article, shows me there is some hope out there if you plan ahead.

As always love the weekly chat!

Thanks, and thanks for reading and connecting with the piece ...

I hear your fears. It's still hard for me. The planning is tough, but necessary, and even then everything can still go wrong.

I think a lot of it depends on the place. In general, so-called ethnic restaurants really are more welcoming, and more encouraging, than American restaurants. And many of these restaurants are not the holes in the wall that you might presume; more and more, they qualify as what I'm guessing you'd consider "nice places."

Rice Paper, for instance, which I tout in my list above, is a dead-ringer for some small plates lounge or trendy neighborhood bistro. Four Sisters has a beautiful dining room. Mala Tang, in Arlington, which a chatter above just asked about, is a dazzling-looking place.

I mentioned that it's still hard. But I think I do have it easy in one regard. My older son, who turns 4 next week (happy birthday, Jesse!), has logged over 1,500 restaurant visits by this point -- I know, I still can't get over this -- so even if he's over-tired or the meal drags or something goes wrong, he's still extremely well-acquainted with the rhythms of a restaurant meal and the protocol of "the table." That helps. A lot.

Corduroy rec, etc.

TK --

I thought I would pass along how pleased my girlfriend and I were with our dinner at Corduroy on Saturday night.  She remembered your recommendation (from parents' meeting) and surprised me for my birthday with the chef's tasting menu...it was fantastic!

We started with a small serving of squash soup followed by appetizer with Asian influence.  On the plate were 3 small, fresh shrimp that melted in your mouth along with a bowl of what was described as the chef's take on shabu shabu.  A fish broth with hints of lobster and more shrimp and scallop roe (I believe that is what the server stated) and small shiso salad.  It's hard to describe the dish and it's not something I would have expected there, but the broth was light and flavorful.

Next, we enjoyed the scallops with Anson Mills grits, followed by the roasted capon and capped off with the broken arrow ranch antelope!  What a treat!  

Both the capon and antelope were cooked perfectly and accompanied by a smooth and complimentary reduction sauce.  The former with delicious savoy cabbage and the latter with one of the most delicious sides I've ever experienced - chestnut puree.  

When you throw in dessert, the entire meal is a heck of a value for $65 per person and it was a great way to celebrate my birthday!

Quick report also on Evo Bistro - the starters/tapas were all delicious (calamari, scallops, dates, delicious tuna) and our table enjoyed their fish dishes.  However, the lamb shank left a little to be desired.

My brother and sister-in-law are in town this weekend and we have reservations at Ripple.  If you have other suggestions, please let me know, but we are starting to feel spoiled with all of these wonderful opportunities to eat out!  

Thank you for your thoughtful reviews, recommendations and taking the time to share them with us.

You're welcome!

And thank you for the detailed reviews. I always appreciate getting these reports from the field, so to speak, and I hope all the rest of you out there feel the same way, too.

Great to hear, also, that Corduroy really delivered for you.

Corduroy is one of those restaurants that is sometimes easy for food lovers in this town to forget about, as new places open and new trends come on the scene. It's not small plates, it's not fusion, it doesn't aim to dazzle the eye, it doesn't push you to reexamine your relationship to food. But Tom Power, the chef, is a quiet and exacting technician, and his dishes -- sturdy, classical, built in careful layers -- are full of real rewards.

kids eating out

Hi Todd,

Just read your suggestions on restaurants for kids. Comes at a great time, b/c I was just thinking this morning that I want to go somewhere this Sat that doesn't involve chain mexican or pizza.

I haven't been to the recently renovated Palena Cafe. What do you think of the cafe portion for an 19 month old? Thanks!

I love the cafe at Palena; I'd probably eat there all the time if I lived in the neighborhood and didn't have other obligations as a critic.

But it has never struck me as the kind of place a kid might go for. Lots of cheeses, dishes dressed with chilis, rich, braised meats, etc.

I took a look at the menu online just now, and there's really not much there for a little kid to eat -- maybe some bites of the house-ground cheeseburger or the justly revered roast chicken.

Dessert, you're fine -- if, that is, you don't have a problem with giving a little kid dessert; I know some parents do.

If the 19-month-old isn't a very big eater, I think you can certainly pull it off. Otherwise, I'd have a so-called smart phone at the ready. Or lots of picture books.

Take a look at my list again. There's a wealth of possibilities that don't involve either chain Mexican and pizza. I think Pale

Cap Hill

Dear Restaurateurs:

Please have have at least a couple fun non-alcohol cocktails for those of us who aren't drinking the hard stuff (whether we are pregnant, don't like it, or for religious reasons).

I am amazed that a lot of places talk about having fab mixologists, yet have nothing interesting on the menu that is non-alcoholic (Pepsi and Sprite do not count). I am willing to pay and have a hard time finding something decent to drink with my meals. Central, this includes you.

Thanks for letting me vent Todd!

Sure.

And I'm right with you on this. Every list ought to include a few interesting non-alcoholic options.

But I'm having a hard time understanding your ire toward Central Michel Richard, specifically -- doesn't it serve two non-alcoholic drinks?

Washington DC

I'm glad you mentioned no reservation restaurants. They really annoy me.

Also, I've noticed they tend to be places that would cater to younger adults, which is frustrating. Why as a 25-34 year-old is it expected that I'm willing to wait around for an hour+ for my dinner, but if I was a little older and had the cash to pay a little more, I'd be entitled to a reservation and whisked to my table as soon as I passed through the front door. Seems like a form of class discrimination is being practiced by restaurants that don't accept reservations, and I'm tired of it.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa ...

Class discrimination?!

That's really pretty hilarious. (And calling it class discrimination is even more hilarious -- I assume you mean age-discrimination.) Especially given that so many downtown restaurants CATER to 25-34 year-olds. In some restaurants, all you ever see in the dining room in prime time are 25-34 year-olds, as if all the 40-and-ups have been carded and summarily been bounced from the premises.

The no-reservations policy of many restaurants IS annoying, but it has nothing to do with putting the screws to your cohort. It has everything to do with the kinds of places these are. They're casual places, mostly -- small plates, clattering atmosphere, modest (for downtown DC) prices.

Alexandria, VA

Re: Sauternes w/ foie gras:

The Butcher Block in Old Town sells whole lobes of foie gras for less than half of what you would pay at Dean&Deluca or Balducci's (I think it was $45/lbs vs $99/lbs the last time I bought some).

I'm not sure what the grade is, but it looks like a grade A to me (few veins). You need to call and special order (make sure you are clear that you want whole raw foie, and not the terrine).

That's a fantastic price.

But I'd want to know for sure about the quality of the lobe; the grade is everything. You get a couple of veins in there and forget it; it's just not worth the calories and expense.

Thanks for the terrific tip.

It's amazing how easy it is to make good foie gras at home -- with just a little care and a little knowledge.

I forgot. I mentioned up top what to do with the leftovers -- because one lobe = a lot of foie gras -- and never elaborated. Here's what you do:

You buy some good ground beef -- or good ground beef and ground veal (PETA: I'm waiting) -- and you make foie gras-stuffed burgers. I've done it, and they're fantastic.

You make thin patties and then sandwich them around a small (size of a sugar packet) slice of foie gras. Then, just cook the burgers as you would normally -- assuming "normally" is medium-rare or close to it. You'll kill the foie gras, otherwise.

The burgers don't need any topping -- the topping's inside -- and the taste is supremely rich.

I'm salivating for one, now.

Washington, DC

Todd,

I am going to see if I can write a good "open letter" for the contest. I had a rough go with some service at Palena this weekend. However, I have enjoyed the place too much on other occasions to rail against this experience. So I will hit a positive experience from this weekend.

...

Dear Kafe Leopold (Georgetown),

This past Sunday, my friend and I needed a relaxing brunch after a failed attempt to find a recommended new church. We called ahead and told the wait would be 20 minutes. When we arrived about a half hour later, we asked about our name on the list and were told that the hostess had called us twice already. Rather than putting our name at the bottom of the list, you sat us at the next table for two. Well done!

We were greeted warmly by our server who guessed we needed coffee and was happy to pour us a few cups. Her service was kind without being cloying and attentive without being intrusive. She even joined us in a conversation about a funny scene unfolding in Cady's Alley.

When asked for a recommendation, she offered a few and explained when she had enjoyed them. The food came hot and fresh and the service continued to be excellent. Your decor feels like an authentic Austrian or German (I have only been to the latter) coffee shop and the bright room is a nice way to spend a sunny Sunday morning.

The best part about you is the departure from the normal brunch scene. You are unpretentious, warm, and relaxing. You were the perfect relaxing meal for a weekend morning, in Georgetown but not bombarded by the typical sights and sounds. Next time, I will order something a little less sweet, however.

One more thing: brunch is supposed to be about socializing. I don't think the giant TV on the wall playing SportsCenter is entirely necessary. Overall, thank you for being my go-to spot in the future.

Sincerely, DC

Oh, no -- you had to go and switch gears with the (gentle) criticism of the TV tuned to SportsCenter! ; )

Thanks for playing, DC ...

(And a needed reminder that Leopold's, which I have found very uneven of late at lunch and dinner, is pretty solid when it comes to breakfast.)

Shaw DC

Central has awesome house made sodas! I have been known to go into the bar just for a soda and a banana split. Don't knock it til' you've tried it...

I've always thought so ...

A fresh-made soda and a banana split -- now that's living!

Korean Restaurant in Montgomery County

Todd,

There seems to be a dearth of good Korean restaurants in Maryland. My old standby, Woomi Garden, is just not good anymore. Are there any worthwhile Korean restaurants in Montgomery County? I avoid NoVa, since the trek to Annandale, with the construction delays on 495, is a nightmare!

I like Vit Goel, aka Lighthouse Tofu, in Rockville, for their tremendous soondubu -- a spicy tofu soup, which you can get with oysters and/or a raw egg to crack on top and cook in the bubbling hot cauldron.

Also in Rockville: there's Moa, which serves up snazzy soju cocktails and also has a pretty good and pretty reliable assortment of the usual suspects, and Jon Won, which is Korean-Chinese and does an excellent seafood pancake, among other things.

Alexandria, VA

In my opinion, it is definitely a grade A foie. The whole thing is well over a pound. There will always be veins - it is a liver, not some magic fat ball, so you should devein it. It's just that it's a lot easier to do with a grade A (which I believe this is).

Terrific.

Thanks.

You'll probably see me shopping there on the weekend!

(Quick -- who's got an open letter to write and win a book ... ?)

Fairfax, VA

One thing that I forgot to mention is that you are correct in that ethnic restaurants are more accomodating to people with children than formal restaurants. When we do go out with other couples who have kids, we do find ourselves eating at ethnic restaurants (mostly afghan, or pakistani restaurants) when they bring their kids along. It did not dawn on me until I had read your article.

Also, I am jealous that your son has logged over 1,500 restaurants visits in 4 years!

In just under, actually.

But funny enough, the centerpiece of the table for his upcoming birthday party will be ... a cereal bar. He loves cereal. All kinds of cereal. So does his Daddy. Last week one night, I came home from a disappointing restaurant meal that I mostly picked at, and he was still up when I walked through the door. "Cereal hodgepodge!" he announced, and I commenced to mixing four kinds of cereal into a bowl, with raisins and slivered almonds, one of our favorite things to eat together ... We'll also have shrimp dumplings, which he can never seem to get enough of ...

By the way: It's not just that so-called ethnic restaurants are more accommodating than "formal" restaurants. They're more accommodating than "informal" American restaurants, too.

 

Arlington, VA

Dear Waitstaff,

Please stop giving my wife and I poor service if we sit down at your table with a drink in hand. Its not completely our fault that the restaurant was busy and the hostess told us to have a drink while we wait.

I promise that if you lose the surly demeanor and come back within 45 minutes of seating us, we'll continue to buy alcohol and thus ensure that we have a nice high bill with which to calculate your tip.

Warmest regards, Thirsty Diners

Not bad.

Would be even better if you'd mentioned a place -- or places -- by name ...

Wash fc

My birthday is tomorrow Where can I find really good desserts in Alexandria and I will drive 25 miles to a really great Place. I just want dessert only in a restaurant.

I love the desserts on the menu currently at Vermilion, on King St. Technically sound but simple stuff, and deeply, deeply satisfying.

Have a blast. And happy birthday!

 

Alexandria, VA

Re: foie gras prep.

I agree with Todd. You're gonna want to dig into to it the first night, so sear up some thick slices. I like the burger option for the rest.

Alternatives: you can do a torchon (Thomas Keller has a good recipe) but if you have small kids (like me) you don't have time for that kind of crap (you wait until your anniversary and have Eric Ziebold do it for you).

But Thomas Keller has another recipe which is really easy - poach the whole thing (minus the slices that you already ate) in Gewurztraminer - you will make one hell of a gelee with the poaching liquid. You still need to let it rest or whatever for a couple of days, but actual effort is minimal.

Nice!

But really -- easy? Thomas Keller? Meaning -- it won't take two days, right? ; )

Thanks for the tip ... Which book of his?

NoLo, DC

Had to laugh at the line, "spring for the best baguette you can find" which came only after recommending a lobe of foie gras as well as chunks of Epoisses and Roquefort!

I'm still waiting to try the new French bakery in Columbia Heights, but my favorite current baguette in the city is baked by Lyon and sold at Cork Market for a whopping $2.50.

My current favorite baguette -- well, you're just going to have to wait for next week.

Hint: It's not in the city.

Second hint: It's not in Virginia.

Third hint: It's not St. Michel, in Rockville

Boy oh boy oh boy, is this one phenomenal loaf of bread. I'd drive 40 minutes for this bread, easy.

Alexandria, VA

Dear Pop-up Restaurants,

Enough already. 

Best, 

Everyone.

HA!

Great one.

And you got a laugh out of me. A big one ...

Thanks for playing ...

Falls Church

Dear 4 Sisters:

Thank you for always greeting me with a smile, even when I come in in gym clothes at 9pm on a Monday night.

Thank you for procuring pho for me when I have the flu and want nothing else but to drown myself in a vat of steaming goodness.

Thank you for introducing my generally not food-adventurous father to the lime dip for the quail appetizers.

And thank you, thank you, thank you, for your version of shrimp toast, which is, itself, worth at least a 35 minute drive.

I love it.

And couldn't agree more ...

You're in contention ...

Alexandria, VA

Re: Keller.

It's the French Laundry cookbook. Yes, it takes 2-3 days, but it's just waiting time. I suggest you buy enough so you can sear up some slices every day until the poached lobe is ready. If you're going to shell out, you need to get a mix of hot/cold preparations (and the cold preps take time, unfortunately).

I knew it!

2-3 days in Kellerworld = simple and easy.

It does sound fantastic, though ...

 

Cliffton, VA

Hey, PETA:

Lambing season has started. Boy the little lambs are so cute say my friends I just lick my lips and say ummm lamb chops, leg of lamb, lamb burgers, and lamb stew. Now these are newborn lambs only hours old. My collie just finished working a group of 3 a older ewe and 2 8mo lambs. Umm lamb chops.

And PETA you can come over and watch us neuter the ram lambs the old fashion way with a single edge razor and then we bite through the ligament and spit them into a round stainless steel bowl. We then fry them up umm Mountain Oysters.

Like I said, PETA -- I'm free at 2 if you want to chat ... : )

Washington, DC

Dear new restaurant owners:

We know that you like to say your restaurants are lined with repurposed wood from Amish barns, but frankly our cows are getting a little chilly thanks to all the drafty spots. We hear there's lots of old barns in New Jersey--just sayin'!

Sincerely,

The farmers of Lancaster County.

Another good one ...

Good stuff tricklin' in late ...

It's time to wrap things up, and pick a winner. And I'm having a tough time of it. Do I go with the snarky ones that made me laugh out loud, or do I go with the one that didn't but that communicated something sweet and sincere and grateful?

Aw, hell -- I'm in a non-snarky mood. The winner of Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue Bible: the Four Sisters open letter.

Thanks for playing, everybody. And to the winner -- just drop me an email at tkliman@washingtonian.com and we'll get that book off to you right away ...

'Til next time, and talk of great bread. Among other things ...

Be well, eat well, and let's do it again next Tuesday -- Valentine's Day -- at 11 ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[missing you, TEK ... ]

 

 

 

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Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 01/31/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Chats