Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful

Since hot chocolate season is finally upon us, I thought I'd share some of my favorite places to enjoy some:

1. Kingsbury Chocolates (Old Town Alexandria) http://www.kingsburychocolates.com

Though the store offers no seating, you won't mind standing one bit as you take in the offerings in the display cases. This boutique offers ready-made hot chocolate to go, as well as a take home kit. The chocolate (2 dollars for a small) is thick but not overly heavy, with notes of pepper and cinnamon.

2. Rosa Mexicano (Penn Quarter)
http://www.rosamexicano.com

Rosa Mexicano has an excellent brunch menu, but it rarely draws a crowd. Skip the Margarita and order one of their seasonal hot chocolate creations. Served as a companion drink, the chocolate cocktails (available with and without alcohol) blend citrus notes with the very light chocolate, making it an ideal second-thing-in-the-morning drink.

3. Godiva Boutique (M street, Union Station, Connecticut Avenue)
http://www.godiva.com

Chocolixir is as thick as hot chocolate should get. 72% Dark Chocolate pieces are melted into steaming hot milk and served in a small cup, about the size of an espresso. (4.50 and up) This is a strictly take with-you drink as the boutiques offer no seating, and are as distinctive as Starbucks.

4. Le Pain Quotidien (Georgetown)
http://www.lepainquotidien.com

For the do-it-yourself set, LPQ offers a steaming saucer of milk and a 2 ounce pitcher of pure Belgian chocolate (3.50 for a large). Mix to your heart's content. Goes great with their sugar waffle.

5. Baked & Wired (Georgetown)
http://www.bakedandwired.com

If you can't drink milk and can't stand soy, Baked and Wired on Thomas Jefferson Street has a wonderful chocolate tisane (around 2.00 for a medium) that always hits the spot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Each one she passes goes "a-a-ah!"

Last Friday we checked out the Grill from Ipanema, the Brazilian restaurant in Adams Morgan. The Washingtonian said reservations were essential, but the torrential downpour and the friendly staff ensured that our party of 3 had a table fairly quickly.

The decor at the restaurant, which incorporates palm trees and twinkle lights, conspires with the sights and smells of authentic Brazilian cuisine. A first round of caipirinhas is a must. As most of the menu is on the heavy side, the acidity and brightness of the cocktails (cacha├ža, made from fresh sugarcane juice that's fermented and distilled, mixed with sugar and crushed limes) will cleanse your palate - they will also make the palm trees sway.

We had the advantage of having a Brazilian-in-exile in our party, so all the credit for choosing our fantastic meal goes to her. To depart from the Churrasquerias we already know, she ordered the linguica encebollada (grilled sausages with onions), a fantastic cheese croquette (more solid and less gooey than its Spanish counterpart), and dried beef, still on the bone. The entrees are on the expensive side - averaging at over 20 dollars, but they are meant to be shared. 2 entrees were more than enough to satisfy our party of three. We had a bahia stew with shrimp (served with rice and yuca powder on the side) and feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, a stew made with beans, dried beef, and pork products and comes with rice, chopped refried collard greens (couve mineira), lighly roasted coarse cassava flour (farofa), and a peeled and sliced orange. The combination works and the layering of flavors, intensely salty to the citrusy, and textures, solid beans to slippery pork loins, is like no other I have tasted.

We had absolutely no room for dessert, but I did finish my meal with some Brazilian coffee. I look forward to going back again soon.

The Grill from Ipanema
1858 Columbia Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20009
www.thegrillfromipanema.com
Grill From Ipanema on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Naan for Thought

My first experience with Naan was at Indian Restaurants, and I have a hard time thinking of it as anything but Indian. But the more I go to the Afghan Restaurant (the no frills name matches the prices) the more I want to rethink my approach. The Naan, made on a clay oven on-site, has to be the best in the area. The yogurt sauce is the perfect combination of tart and texture - I need to keep myself from putting it on everything. I am fully content before the meal starts. The wait staff is very patient (and non-judgemental: on one ocassion, we ordered every appetizer on the menu) and are happy to help the non-initiated, as well as the patrons who take the wrong entrance and crash the wedding in adjacent banquet hall. My favorite appetizers are the Aushak and mantu, or Afghan pastas. The mantu is reminiscent of perogi and should not be missed, while the Boolawnee is a baked naan stuffed with potatoes and leeks.

The jumbo kebab is ideal for splitting between three people who've had a first round of appetizers. It features 2 lamb kebab, 2 beef kebab and 2 chicken kebab served on top of naan. I usually order a side order of rice, garnished with julienne carrots and raisins. The chicken kebab will put any tandoori to shame. The wait staff will also look the other way while you and your friends bicker over the soggy central portion of the naan.

The restaurant isn't near a metro stop, but it is a straight shot down Route 1, even with less than inspired surroundings, well worth the trip.

The Afghan Restaurant
2700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Alexandria, VA 22301-1026
Afghan on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 15, 2007

All Is Well

Hope everyone is enjoying the lovely fall weather as of late. I have settled back into life in the Bay Area splendidly thus far, albeit I only have been here 2 days as yet. Definitely going to be my home for good I think. I have tapped the talent of at least one friend to keep me up to date with DC goings on and such, and certainly hope to stay abreast of foodie items from afar and to revisit everything when I am back in the area. Please feel free to check out my new blog too - http://www.slowfoodtastelife.blogspot.com/ It really is a global world, both foodie-wise and otherwise. Cheers.