Thursday, April 21, 2011

Alex's Pick

Alex, who relocated to Boston a few months ago, was in DC for the weekend, and she chose to hold court at American Ice Co., a stone's throw away from the 9:30 Club. The weekend had been a soggy mess, but we were lucky to get one of those glorious early Spring Sundays and take advantage of the bigger-than-it-seems patio. The restaurant itself (given the beer to food ratio, it s probably better to call it a bar that happens to have amazing barbeque) has the industrial feel and grit one would expect from a repurposed building: cement, brick, dark woods.

I took a seat at one of the patio picnic tables and perused the menu - an ample beer list, divided into glass (drafts) and steel (cans). The super friendly staff will bring them out to you in mason jars (with little ones for shots). I had a Czechvar (which I first encounted, many years ago, as Budvar, the original Budweiser) followed by a wheat beer. The lunch menu features a limited selection of sandwiches, and I ordered a turkey club mostly to keep myself from ordering the pastrami. I was pleasantly surprised by the sandwich - the turkey was carved, not sliced, and the bacon had a wonderful spice rub. It is easily the best turkey sandwich I've had in a restaurant in DC.

As our group of revelers grew, we took over more tables (the revolving group also meant that our very patient waitress adjusted the tab whenever people wanted to cash out). As I nursed my second beer, I could hear the telltale sounds of cleaver against pork. On the far side of the table, someone ordered Swachos - Swine and nachos, because pork rinds and queso are meant to go together, especially when it's sunny but you still need a sweater.

The dinner menu appeared and Alex ordered the combo platter. I wasn t particularly hungry after my enormous sandwich of a few hours before, but I simply had to try it - pulled pork and brisket. After all, she had already had the brilliant idea of asking for a Margarita (she can't get those up in Beantown), and I had happily followed suit. The plates brimmed with warm, smokey, flavorful without being fatty barbeque, and the vinegar sauce on our table gave it an extra kick. The greens were fresh, but the sides did not hold a candle to the brisket.

Go for the food, stay for the beer, and bring a gaggle of friends with you.

American Ice Co. on Urbanspoon
American Ice Co.
917 V St NW
(between N Vermont Ave & N 10th St)
Washington, DC 20001

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Support Counter Culture!

Lifting Voices, a local nonprofit, is working with a roster of chefs, including Jose Andres, Robert Egger and Spike Mendelsohn to put together Counter Culture, a coffee-table book on 10 of their under-served kids' food histories in words and pictures.

In order to publish the book, Lifting Voices needs to raise $5,000 by April 29 and you can watch a video on the project and send your tax-deductible contribution through Kickstarter. If you donate $25 you get a free burger at Good Stuff Eatery, and $50 gets you a copy of the book. This is a kitchen-table project that also serves a great cause.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Amazing Avocados from Mexico to DC

Last week we dropped by the Avocados from Mexico: Taste the WOW Spring 2011 Tour at the DC Armory. DC was the fourth of six stops, which began in NYC and will end in Atlanta, GA. As an avocado fan and a Mexican I was very excited to attend this event.

The WOW team offered up tastings of two delicious recipes prepared fresh on-site by famous Mexican Chef Roberto Santibanez, author of the recent cookbook Truly Mexican, and his WOW compadre, New York-based Chef Pablo J. Sanchez. I first tried Pablo's Avocado Gazpacho Shooters garnished with a swirl of sour cream and a cilantro leaf. Chef Sanchez is the mastermind behind this delicious dish--you can taste each ingredient for a balanced smooth, tasty, creamy, fresh experience with a little kick of jalapeno. It is quick and easy to prepare, so it is just amazing--great for serving this coming spring and summer or anytime tat you have an avocado craving.

Next, Chef Santibanez prepared a Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole right there in front of our eyes. It took him about five minutes to surprise and pamper us with his exquisite variation of the traditional guacamole that everyone knows and loves. This delicacy also had the perfect balance of flavors--sweet and sour, refreshing and tasty. Once again, you can taste each ingredient and enjoy the balance of the flavors and how they combine on your palate. The acid of the pineapple in this guacamole gives the dish its punch and ensures it will not discolor as fast as traditional guacamoles. It will be great for warm evenings with drinks and friends.

Pablo's Avocado Gazpacho Shooters

  • 2 ripe Avocados from Mexico
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber peeled
  • 1 jalapeno diced small
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 liter cold water
  • Juice from 2 fresh limes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt/white pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender, puree to a smooth creamy consistency (if to thick add more cold water), salt and pepper to taste, refrigerate, pour into shot glasses, garnish with a swirl of sour cream and a cilantro leaf.

Roberto Santibanez Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole

  • 2 large or 3 small ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 fresh serrano or jalapeno chiles minced including seeds for more taste and spiciness
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 (10 to 12 oz.) cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (1/2 inch)
  • 1/4 pineapple peeled, cored, and diced (1/4 inch)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Stir together the cucumber, onion, chiles, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Score the flesh of the avocado halves in a crosshatched pattern (not cutting through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it out with a spoon into the bowl and gently stir together (do not mash). Stir in the pineapple last so the fresh acidity is a distinct counterpoint to the avocado. Season to taste with additional chile, lime juice and salt. Transfer the guacamole to a wide dish and sprinkle the cilantro on top. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours with a pice of plastic pressed against the surface. Let it come to room temperature before you serve it.


In addition to feeding the hungry crowd, the chefs and their crew shared important tips ans facts about this fantastic fruit that is not only delicious but nutritious. The avocado is a Native Mexican fruit that is popular worldwide and is not only tasty but healthy, with nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds that can improve the quality of your diet and your overall health. Avocados provide mono and polyunsaturated "good" fats that are recommended as part of a healthy diet; contain only 50 calories in each 1 oz. serving (about 1/5 of an avocado), 3 grams monounsaturated fat, and 1 gram of dietary fiber, all with zero cholesterol. My wife M and I like to eat them by themselves with a little bit of salt or in a tortilla and in salads, but the WOW tour has reminded us that avocado can also be the backbone of a dish and isn't just for garnishes or dips.

You can find more recipes, avocado advice, and additional tour dates on the Amazing Avocado website and via their Avocados from Mexico app, available through iTunes.