January 24, 2010

Capitally Good Noodles

DC Noodles is a stylish noodle shop on U Street in Northwest Washington DC. The first time we ate here my husband and I decided to walk around and check out the U Street Corridor neighborhood on a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon. We parked our car near the intersection of U and 15th Streets and started walking east. Even though our layovers of wool clothing the freezing cold air and wind was biting. So, about a block down the street we entered a small accessory shop, Stem. After browsing a bit we walked into the adjoined restaurant, DC Noodles for a mid-afternoon meal.

Inside the noodle shop is bright orange and modern with cartoon scenes along the wall. After the starters, the menu is divided into categories – dishes (from the wok), salads, and different types of soup. So, you pick what one of the categories and then select the type of noodle and meat (or tofu) you would like. Creating the menu in this manner allows the dinner to select from a many different – and intriguing sounding – combinations. I picked a salad with egg noodles and crispy and soft tofu. Jonathan ordered a soup with meat and rice noodles.

My salad was light and flavorful! The vegetables, tofu, and dressing were all very good – and the noodles were excellent! Jonathan enjoyed his soup very much. DC Noodles is now on our list of our favorite places to go for a casual and simple meal in Washington!

Images of Last Year - Las Vegas

Hoover Dam
Arizona & Nevada

January 21, 2010

Images of Last Year - Seattle

Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

In vino veritas... (in wine there is the truth)

Veritas is the goddess of truth. It is also the name of a small wine bar near Dupont Circle. Located at the intersection of Connecticut and Florida streets, Veritas is a perfect neighborhood wine bar. It is charming and cozy with a deep red and brick walls with dark wood floors.

I have been here twice and enjoyed both experiences. The staff is friendly (and for the most part) very helpful. The food menu is simplistic and very good – cheese, charcuterie, and savories dishes to share followed by chocolate. The selections are varied and pair well with the excellent wine list. On both occasions we ordered a variety of cheeses, hummus, red pepper and feta dip, and wine. Jonathan also tried some of the cured meats and pates. The cheeses and wine were very good. The dips come with crispy lavish bread and small antipasti accompaniments. The dips are served in quite substantial portions and are good for sharing.

We will definitely return to Veritas and next time I look forward to trying their chocolates!

January 13, 2010

Images of Last Year - Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Little Steamed Parcels of Deliciousness... in Washington

I divide dim sum restaurants into two types – traditional and modern. The first is steeped in tradition and includes menu items of taste, texture, and origin that are bizarre in the west; the second category is an updated version of this dining tradition often utilizing western cooking techniques and presentation with more mild flavors. Ping Pong Dim Sum is of the later type.

Now, I normally prefer not to write about restaurants that are part of a chain; however, the addition of this place to the District is worth mentioning. Originating out of the United Kingdom, Ping Pong is an upscale and modern dim sum parlor. Located in the old Chinatown section of Washington, this is the first Ping Pong outpost on the United States. Inside the restaurant is sleek and contemporary with dark wood, black and white photographs, and minimalist décor.

The Washington Post
gave Ping Pong a rather lack luster review this week. However, when we went we found the food – described in the restaurant's tag line as “little steamed parcels of deliciousness” – to be very good. It is definitely not traditional dim sum – but a variety of creative and tasty dumplings, buns, puffs, parcels, and other delicacies. We tried several types of shu mai, dumplings, and spring rolls. Our favorite dishes were the griddled spinach and mushroom dumplings and the crispy hoi sin duck spring rolls (and we asked for a second order of each). For dessert we ordered the Valrhona chocolate bun and the roasted pineapple and coconut spring roll. The spring rolls were crispy and butternut dipping sauce was very good with the roasted pineapple and coconut flavors. The chocolate bun was also excellent – a fluffy bun filled with warm, rich chocolate.

Ping Pong is not a traditional dim sum hall filled with carts and the clatter dishes. But, it is a fun and hip place to try a creative take on dim sum dishes.

January 6, 2010

2 Birthday Dinners & Visiting the National Mall

As some of my readers know, my birthday is in December. This year I had the honor of two birthday dinners – the first with friends and family and then the second with my husband.

To begin, the night before my birthday I went to Central Michel Richard in the Penn Quarter with my aunt, a friend, and my husband. This is a perfect restaurant for a celebration! The menu here is basic and elegant and we experienced excellent service. I normally do not talk about the bread at a restaurant, but this bread is definitely worth mentioning – it was a light and fluffy bread with rustic whole grain flavor and crunchy crust.

To begin we ordered the cheese puffs to share. They were light, airy, and delicious! I think the best description for them would be little pastry puffs of cheese flavor. Next I had the the spinach and goat cheese torte. This was goat cheese, with tomatoes and a puree of spinach and cauliflower – and was very good. In leu of a main course, I ordered the mushroom risotto. The risotto was wonderful and light, made with Israeli couscous, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese. My dining companions ordered the Jamon Iberico, lobster burger, and beef cheeks and enjoyed all their food.

For dessert we selected the crème brulee and the chocolate mousse. Both were very good, but the chocolate was my favorite. It was very smooth and fluffy with crunchy chocolate bits on the top and raspberry sauce at the bottom. (Of course, the chocolate mousse was served with a candle! So, that and my ingrained bias towards all things chocolate might explain my preference for that dessert.) The crème brulee was very smooth with a perfect caramelized crust.

The next morning – my birthday – was clear, bright, and cold. We spent the afternoon walking around the National Mall together – visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Museum of Natural History. In the early evening, as the wind began to pick up we stopped at Teaism in the Penn Quarter. This location is one of three tea houses in the district. They serve very good teas along with simple snacks and meals. It was the perfect reprieve from the cold and windy December air outside.

After tea, Jonathan took me to Jaleo for my second birthday dinner. Also, located in the Penn Quarter, Jaleo is lively tapas restaurant and bar. The ambience is warm and vibrant – another good restaurant for celebration!

The menu is extensive and includes traditional tapas dishes, some innovative small plates, and paellas. I decided to order the piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese and the grill asparagus with romesco sauce. Jonathan ordered Jamon Iberico and chorizo, seared scallops, and duck – and convinced me to share the cauliflower with dates and olives. Our food began arriving quite promptly. And everything was very good! The waiter suggest a wine, Altos de Luzon, which paired perfectly with our food. For dessert we ordered a plate of Christmas turrones (tasty nougets and cookies) and tea (from Teaism).

Dinner at Jaleo was wonderful – and dessert with tea was a relaxing end to my birthday celebrations!

January 3, 2010

A Monument and a Dream of Equality

"I Have a Dream..." Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963

The Lincoln Memorial
Washington, District of Columbia