On The Menu

Urbanspoon rocks

Comments (0) | Monday, October 18, 2010

To claim our blog on Urbanspoon, I have to create a post titled: Urbanspoon rocks.

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Pumpkin Pie Martini

Comments (1) | Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I love fall for its resurgence of pumpkin related products. I love pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin beer, etc. This past weekend, I came up with my own version of a pumpkin pie martini. The caramel syrup is a little tricky, but it's very worth it. You could use leftovers in coffee for a yummy treat.

Pumpkin pie martini

2 oz vodka
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp caramel pumpkin pie simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 dash vanilla
2 ice cubes
A cocktail recipe from our Libations Liaison:

Combine in a cocktail shaker and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Caramel Pumpkin Pie Syrup

2 cups sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat about 1/4 the sugar in a sturdy pot over medium heat. Once it begins to caramelize, add more sugar, stirring to incorporate. Once all the sugar has caramelized, remove from heat and add water. Be careful, the mixture will sizzle (I wear an oven mitt). Add spice and stir to incorporate. You may need to return to heat if the caramel starts to stick. Allow to cool, then strain into an airtight container.

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Washington DC Trip (Ben's Chili Bowl, Oyamel, The Diner, Martin's Tavern,Gordon Biersch, Woodley Cafe, Capitol City Brewery)

Comments (1) | Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our recent trip to DC gave us some good eats. What we learned: there are at least two 5-star places in DC, breakfast is hard to come by, and a good bartender makes all the difference.

Ben's Chili Bowl

I've been here before. Abby hasn't. We are in DC, we had to go. There was a line outside the door. Ben's apparently has opened up a nicer place right next door which was empty, and since they serve the same food I'd probably go there if I lived in the area, but you just have to go to the historic location if you've never been. The line moved slowly, but was ok. There was a mix of locals and tourists in the crowd. Once we got to order we went with a chili dog, half smoked with chili, fries, and two chocolate milk shakes. When we paid we picked up two buttons that had the owner's face on it who passed away recently. We sat down in the middle back room and waited for our food to come. It didn't take that long, but it felt it because we were both hungry. Finally our food came and it was just as good as I remembered. Better even. The chili is a great beef/no beans chili and we knew right away we made a mistake not to put chili on the fries. The milkshakes were thick and rich and delicious. Sure we felt like we should run up and down the National Mall to make up for our lunch, but it was soooo worth it. I give Ben's Chili Bowl a 5 out of 5.

Ben's Chili Bowl on Urbanspoon

Gordon Biersch Brewery

A blah beer at a blah brewery. However, the restaurant itself is pretty nice looking with the columns and the ceiling. I give Gordon Biersch a 2 out of 5.

Gordon Biersch Brewery on Urbanspoon


I must admit, I've had a Jose Andres chef-crush the first time I've ever seen him on TV a couple of years ago. His passion and love for food is just infectious, even from on the screen of my TV. I've been wanting to eat at one of his restaurants for years. Now I royally screwed up and was one-day off on trying to make reservations at Mini-Bar. So we "settled" for Oyamel, his Mexican small plates restaurant.

Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, was absolutely delicious. The service was incredible and nice and fast. We ordered the famous margaritas with salt air and it tasted like a regular margarita just with very fresh components. The salt air was nice and light and added just the right amount of salt to the cocktail.

We ordered the cactus salad, papas al mole, and four different tacos (baby pig, pork belly, beef, and grasshopper) to start. The mole was fantastic and sweet and savory. The cactus salad was a pleasant surprise...I've never had cactus before. This was a very palate cleansing salad. But the greatest items on the menu are the tacos. The grasshopper was spicy and crunchy, pork belly was buttery, the beef taco was the mother of all beef tacos, and the baby pig...well that was just a religious experience.

Abby had to order a second baby pig taco, so we got that along with a tuna ceviche and the huevos with pork belly. I also asked if they could give us a small plate of the pork rinds that came with the baby pig tacos and they said sure. Now here was the problem...we were stuffed. I scarfed down the pork rinds (which are second only to the pork rinds at Publican in Chicago in my book) and Abby wolfed down the baby pig taco. They accidentally sent out a red snapper ceviche along with the tuna ceviche. Abby liked the former better, but I preferred the latter. Finally the egg and pork belly came out and it easily could have been the best thing I ate that night, but I was too damn full to take more than 3 bites.

I had very high expectations for a Jose Andres place and I was not disappointed at all. I will be back to Oyamel next time I'm in DC. I give Oyamel a 5 out of 5.

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

The Diner

The Diner was just ok. I got the croque and dagger, which was a great name, and Abby got an Egg Sandwich. Both were ok, but nothing special. I give The Diner a 3 out of 5. (Again, like most places in DC, the architecture inside the restaurant was pretty neat.)

The Diner on Urbanspoon

Martin's Tavern

Apparently a famous bar that we just happened to walk into for a beer and a snack. We got the crab cake sliders that were actually really good. Bartender was nice and personable too. I give Martin's Tavern a 3 and 1/2 out of 5.

Martin's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Woodley Cafe

It wasn't that crowded when we went in for breakfast but service was very slow. While we were waiting for our food, the line out the door grew and grew. The place was severely under-staffed for a Sunday morning. Eventually a few more servers arrived and started seating all the people waiting. However our food took forever to arrive. Refills on coffee and water also took forever. Our food was luke warm when we got it. I won't be coming back to Woodley Cafe next time I'm in DC. I give it a 1 and 1/2 out of 5.

Woodley Cafe on Urbanspoon

Capitol City Brewery

The beers were better than average. The prices for food were actually decently priced. But it was our bartender was fantastic. We talked NFL football and traded fantasy tips. He quietly slipped us two free beers and told us not to worry about it. I liked it. I give Capitol City Brewery a 4 out of 5.

Capital City Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

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Homecooking (Making Banh Xeo and Meatballs)

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This was one of the best meals we've made in a long time. Homemade meatballs with homemade pasta. So freaking good. Plus I finally used the immersion blender we got as a wedding gift. I'm going to have to recreate the meatballs this weekend, so let's hope I can remember how I made these. All beef meatballs, some bread crumbs, chili paste, parsley, garlic...I'm sure I'll remember it.

On October 2nd OU beat Texas and we attempted to make Banh Xeo at home. It turned out ok, but for some reason the texture wasn't quite right. A little too rubbery instead of crispy. Maybe needed to thin out the batter with more water...However, it did taste pretty good.

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Battery Park, Ames Plow and Stoddards (Annie's Review)

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Friday was a pretty gross and rainy night, but Jason and I ventured out in town to grab some drinks. I had a Groupon to Stoddards which was about to expire, so that was our first stop. It's a newish place that opened in late summer, located in Downtown Crossing on Temple. The space is very beautiful, with an extremely ornate carved wooden bar. There's not a lot of room by the bar, and it was packed with a bustling after work crowd, so we decided to come back later when (hopefully) it would be less crowded.

We decided next to try Battery Park, which was having its soft open. Located on Batterymarch in the Financial District, it's a nice, but kind of expected space. Pretty much like most of the new bars in Boston, it has lots of dark wood, a few flatscreens behind the bar, and current pop music soundtrack. It's not very big inside, but it has a large outdoor space (which I didn't see). We sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender, who told us that the kitchen wasn't fully operational, but offered us some free appetizers to try. I didn't see a drink menu, so I decided to try Hex Octoberfest, which is a Magic Hat product. I'm normally not the biggest fan of Octoberfest, but it was such a cold, rainy night, it seemed appealing. I enjoyed it a lot, it didn't seem as heavy as other Octoberfests, with a nice spice to it. They brought us some chicken tenders (very standard, which is not to say they were bad in any way, there's just not much to do with them) with a delicious spicy ketchup, and buffalo chicken wontons which were extremely tasty. We saw them bring another couple down the bar a plate of calamari that looked delicious. I'll definitely check it out again sometime, I'm interested to see what their menu will look like and how they manage cocktails.

Battery Park Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

After Battery Park, we went to one of my favorite haunts in Boston, Ames Plow. Located under Ned Devine's in the Quincy Market Building, this place is very no-frills and pretty divey, but I like it for the jukebox and $2 PBRs. Maybe as libations liaison, I shouldn't admit that so readily, but I'm also Abby's cousin, so there you go.

Ames Plow Tavern on Urbanspoon

Finally, we headed back to Stoddard's. It was still really busy, but as luck would have it, we managed to grab two seats at the bar. This place has both extensive beer selection and craft cocktail list. The cocktail list has drinks from different time periods, such as an Aviation, Sazerac, etc. Since I was ordering a burger (which was very tasty), I had a BBC Steel Rail Pale Ale to start. If you haven't tried this western Mass brewery, I'd suggest it, they make some great beer. The pale ale is their flagship brew, and it's a great tasting, refreshing beer. It was perfect with the burger. After I ate, I ordered a Blood and Sand cocktail. This was phenomenal. It consists of whisky, vermouth, cherry brandy, and orange juice. It was garnished with orange peel and a dried tart cherry. It was an amazing balance of tart and sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a lot of drinks on the menu I'd like to try, so I'll probably go back. The drink prices are actually not bad for the craft cocktails compared to other higher-end places in Boston, each are $9. The only thing that bothered me is that the beer menu doesn't list prices. You don't want to order an interesting sounding beer and have it be $15 or some such, and it's sort of awkward to ask for the price first. But all in all, I liked the space, and the staff was friendly. Very worth a try.

Stoddard's Fine Food And Ale on Urbanspoon

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