Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's Official!

You Are an Excellent Cook
You're a top cook, but you weren't born that way. It's taken a lot of practice, a lot of experimenting, and a lot of learning.It's likely that you have what it takes to be a top chef, should you have the desire...
X

Restaurant Week, a week late...

by Xani

So, I know this is delayed, but I did have one more restaurant week experience I wanted to share with you, dear Reader. Last Thursday I went to Taste in Belvedere Square with my good friends Heather and Jodi. I had never been to Taste before but I had seen it while shopping at the Belvedere Market or seeing movies at The Senator. When I noticed their (delicious-looking) menu on the Restaurant Week website, I knew it was the perfect time to check it out!

Heather drove all the way from Rockville for the event and we met up with Jodi at Taste. There was outside seating available but as everyone who lives on the East Coast knows, we've been having a HOT summer and we decided to dine in the air-conditioning! I was impressed with the decor inside-- fancy but not stuffy, it used organic materials like natural rope to decorate, but somehow didn't feel like a kitchy seafood place. I also liked the large Lucite wine cellar that we passed as we climbed the stairs to our table, which was near the back of the restaurant.

The place was pretty busy and it took a few minutes for our waiter to come over to take our drink orders. But once he did he was a pleasant and attentive server (well, as attentive as good be expected during the restaurant week rush). To start we decided to share a pitcher of white wine sangria while we enjoyed some yummy bread served with a sun dried tomato-olive oil concoction. Very tasty.

Then we were faced with the challenge of deciding what to order off this tempting menu:

Dinner Appetizer

  • Gazpacho
  • Baked Caesar Salad
  • Individual Crab Con Queso Dip with Blue Tortilla Chips
  • Strawberry and Orange Mixed Green Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
  • House Salad with Choice of Dressing

Dinner Entrée

  • Chicken Fiesta
    Marinated eight-ounce boneless chicken breast topped with tomato and chili chutney and cilantro cream sauce
  • Risotto
    Sautéed garlic, spinach, feta cheese, asparagus, tomatoes and fresh herbs
  • Malaysian Fish
    Fresh catch topped with achiote paste, presented with bok choy and baby spinach and wrapped in parchment paper
  • Steak Rancheros
    Marinated flat iron steak - cooked to your preference and topped with salsa fresca and fresh guacamole

Dinner Dessert

  • Fresh Berry Cobbler
  • Blonde Brownie Cake
  • Bread Pudding with Bourbon Créme Anglaise
  • Seasonal Sorbet

For my first course I was leaning toward the gazpacho but as I had already had that earlier in the week, I decided to go with the Baked Caesar Salad, which the waiter described as a traditional Caesar put under the broiler for just a moment, to melt the Parmesan cheese and slightly wilt the greens. I was skeptical, but it ended up being a pretty tasty starter! The Caesar wasn't nearly as good as BCD Mom's, but really, what is?? I snagged a spoonful of Heather's gazpacho which was also quite good with a rich tomato-y flavor. Jodi got the salad with citrus dressing which looked fresh and delicious.

Baked Caesar Salad

Strawberry and Orange Mixed Green Salad with

Citrus Vinaigrette

Gazpacho

Onto the mains: Jodi and I both ordered the Steak Rancheros, which ended up being a perfectly cooked (medium rare, natch) flat iron steak topped with (potentially unnecessary, but fresh and tasty) guacamole and salsa fresca and accompanied by awesome skin-on mashed potatoes and perfect tender-crisp green beans. It was a really good and hearty plate-- all the elements were skillfully prepared and fresh tasting. Same goes for Heather's dish, the risotto, which worked out very well because, yet again, it was the other dish I was waffling about and I got to taste it, too! I thought the risotto was very well done, the rice al dente but not gritty or mushy, the feta cheese adding a unusual, but tasty element, and the veggies adding lots of flavor.

Steak Rancheros

Risotto

So far, so good. But it was about to get even better...

Dessert.

Jodi and I both got the Fresh Berry Cobbler. This was, by far, the best dessert I had during restaurant week. It was clearly made with very fresh berries, and was bursting with sweet and tart flavors. Instead of a traditional crumbly-type cobbler topping, it had a sort of sweet, delicious, crunchy cookie-type topping, along with a scoop of rapidly melting, high-quality vanilla ice cream. Heaven. Heather, being more of a chocolate person than a berry person, got the Blonde Brownie Cake, which looked absolutely rich and decadent, and she confirmed as much, but still ate every bite!

Berry Cobbler

Blonde Brownie Cake

After cleaning our dessert plates we settled our (very reasonable--man, I love Restaurant Week!) tab and headed out of the restaurant. It had been a great meal and a great chance to catch up with my friends and rehash the details of Heather's recent wedding! As you can see from the big smiles on Heather and Jodi's faces, we all had a wonderful time. I was glad to finally have a taste of Taste and, just like my other Restaurant Week discoveries, I hope to visit again sometime soon!

X

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ohmygodpizza!

by Erin and Xani

Saturday night, after a long day of moving for Erin, and a long day at the pool for Xani, we went to dinner at Iggies with our good friend Matt. Iggies is a wonderful little pizza place in Mt. Vernon (on N. Calvert St.) that serves Neopolitan-style pizza (super-thin crust) and is BYOB. We were able to enjoy their "Saturday nights in August" special which was that the pizzas were "buy one get one half-off" if you brought your own wine or six-pack of beer - good deal! (In fact, we wanted the deal so badly that we left and bought beer and came back just so we could get the bargain!)

We bought some yummy Clipper City Gold Ale on Matt's suggestion, which was very nice - good flavor but not too strong for EP (beer wimp).

One interesting thing about Iggies is that it's very "do-it-yourself." They have plates, napkins, silverware, glassware, bottle openers, and a water cooler in a corner of the restaurant, and you just do everything yourself. You even get to bus your own table! It seems European/backpacker-ish that way, which was a nice change of pace and added to the personality of the pizza shop.

One other point about the decor/theme of Iggies: it's called Iggies because it has an Italian Greyhound (IG) theme running throughout the space and on the menus. We, of course, love anything dog-themed!

Anyway, onto the food! First we ordered their Caesar Salad, which for a dollar extra you can get fresh white anchovies on top! They were delicious and not too fishy, and added a lovely meaty bite to the salad. (Note: It is a BIG DEAL that they have fresh white anchovies at this place since, if you recall from our Father's Day post, we hunted all over the city for them without success!) We unfortunately were starving and didn't break out the camera until after our salad. Sorry!

Next, we ordered two of their delicious, unique pizzas. The crusts on both of these pizzas were perfectly cooked (crispy and chewy) and were served hot out of the oven.

First, we ordered their Sopressata Pizza, which had sopressata, smoked mozzarella, and a hearty tomato sauce - it was absolutely delicious. The sopressata was crispy and its flavors ran throughout the entire pizza, and we pretty much devoured it!

We also ordered their pizza with ricotta and lemon, topped with fresh peppery arugula (which I think had been tossed with vinaigrette). The ricotta part was delicious but it was a little weird to have all the greens piled atop the pizza - I think we would have preferred them on the side as a delicious salad!

We clearly had no trouble finishing our pizzas...

Even after salad and two pizzas, we had room for something sweet. Keep in mind it was also about 95 degrees outside (and pretty warm in the restaurant itself) so we also were in the mood for something cool and refreshing. Lucky for us, Iggies serves an assortment of gelati and sorbetti! Matt got the pomegranate sorbetto, Xani got the blood orange sorbetto, and Erin got the double espresso gelato. They were all delicious but I think Matt's was the best - super-sweet and refreshing with bold flavors, and not too icy and annoying.

Blood Orange Sorbetto

Pomegranate Sorbetto

Double Espresso Gelato

It was a delicious meal and we highly recommend Iggies! Xani points out that it's a very cozy space, so it'll be even more fun in the fall/winter when "cozy" doesn't mean "sweltering" as it sort of did on Saturday. We love Iggies and we'll be back!

Happy eating,

E & X

ps. Special thanks to Kerem, a good friend of EP's, who introduced her to Iggies! He is moving away and will be terribly missed!

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