Washington, D.C. Part II

Last weekend I had a networking dinner in Washington, D.C. The planner/host was very creative in planning the themed event. I have never watched House of Cards or Scandal, but these would be the themes of the evening. The host chose the restaurant Equinox, a restaurant where the President and the First Lady dined before the inauguration.

As I walked in the enclosed outdoor patio, I was given a playing card. If you picked a red card, you would receive a red cocktail. If you picked a blue card, you would receive a blue cocktail. I got a blue card. I’m not sure what was in the blue cocktail, but it was delicious and had a ginger flavor. We were to write our name on the playing card and turn it in.
The Chef/owner of Equinox is Todd Gray who prides himself in using locally sourced ingredients. Our event was for forty people, so my expectation is that we are getting a “catered” meal. Our first course was a salad made of baby arugula, roasted hearts of palm, sun dried apricots, toasted almonds, and crumbled blue cheese. It was unique to include the sun dried apricots. Overall, it was a nice salad.
We had a choice of one of three options for our main course. Being that I was still getting to know the people at dinner, I couldn’t really share plates with anyone. I chose the beef option which was a New York strip which came with fingerling potatoes, spinach, wild mushrooms, and a Cabernet wine jus. I enjoyed my plate, but felt the beef was missing some juicy fat. The potatoes, however, were outstanding.
Another option was the pan roasted diver scallops which came with spring asparagus and haricot verts. I would never personally order scallops because I am not a fan of them. However, I can tell by eye if they would be any good. These were plump and perfectly golden brown. One of my neighbors had the scallops and thoroughly enjoyed them.
After seeing the cider glazed shrimp which were presented on a bed of creamy polenta, baby spinach, and a green onion butter, I wish I had ordered these. My eyes were telling me these would be delicious.
For dessert, we had a choice of two items. I ordered the strawberry rhubarb crisp, which came with a pecan oat crumble and a vanilla ginger ice cream. The dessert had a nice combination of sweet and tart and was done well. The presentation was great with the spoon shaped cookie.
The other dessert was a slice of Black Forest cake with brandied cherry ice cream and a warm morello cherry compote. By dessert time, I did warm up to people at my table and asked to try the cake. I thought the cake was a bit dry.
At the end of dinner, a card was selected. The persons name on the card would win Chef Grays cookbook titled “The New Jewish Table.” My name was selected. But wait…Chef Gray came to talk to our group and sign my new book. It was an awesome event.



Washington, D.C. Part I

I just returned from a conference in Washington, D.C., so of course I have to write about the food experience I had there. Every meal I had was great except for the sandwich I bought for my return flight at Reagan National Airport. I will share my most enjoyable experiences.

I love great coffee and consider myself to be very particular about it. My first mission in every City I visit is to know where I will be getting coffee in the morning. I was happy to discover a place called Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar that was just three blocks from my hotel in DuPont Circle.
Last year I learned about a “Flat White.” Developed in Australia, the drink is similar to having a double cappuccino. In a “Flat White,” the content of coffee is higher and the milk is velvety smooth. I ordered one on my first morning in DC and let’s just say I had it three days in a row. Filter also serves individually prepared dripped coffee.
Another noteworthy experience was a Thai restaurant called the Regent that I chose to have dinner with my colleagues. The Regent was also within walking distance of our hotel. As we walked in, I noticed an authenticity to the restaurant. The decor and furnishings were lovely.
The four of us who have never had a meal together discussed food allergies and likes and dislikes. Based on our discussion, we would not be having pork, but we would be enjoying spicy food.

Here is what we enjoyed:

Tom Yum Goong. Shrimp and mushrooms are cooked in a hot and sour lemon grass soup
Chicken satay. These grilled skewers were complimented with a peanut sauce and cucumber relish
Sea war salad. This salad included shrimp, scallops, and squid.
Drunken noodles with beef. Wide rice noodles are stir fried with sweet basil leaves in a chili and garlic sauce.
Red Curry with chicken. The curry was combined with coconut milk, Thai eggplant and basil leaves
Everything was quite tasty, but my two favorite things were the drunken noodles and the red curry.

I highly recommend the Regent if you are in Washington, D.C.

I had one more great food experience on this trip, but you will have to wait until next week to read about it.

Primavera: Spring Time Chilaquiles

I love me some chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish typically served for breakfast. The base of chilaquiles are corn tortillas that are cut into pieces and fried and coated with a sauce (green or red). Assorted ingredients are then topped over these chip-like pieces. Did I say I love me some chilaquiles?
When my BFF mentioned a place that serves chilaquiles at the Ferry Building’s Saturday Farmer’s Market, we quickly made plans to go. We arrived at the Farmer’s Market yesterday around 9:30am and found the Primavera food stand towards the back of the market.
There were people around the food stand waiting for their order, but only one person in line. This was great since reviews on yelp indicated to expect long lines.

The menu had a few items on it, but we didn’t have to look further than item #1, Guajillo chili chilaquiles, which we both ordered. The chilaquiles plate also came with scrambled eggs, refried beans, sour cream, avocado, and queso cotija.
The chilaquiles themselves maintained its crispness until the very last chip. The scrambled eggs were soft, fluffy, and local. I added some additional salsa to my eggs. The refried beans were delicious and creamy. These chilaquiles were definitely some of the best I have had.

I ordered the fresh strawberry lemonade which was amazing. I felt like I was drinking candy. This was the best strawberry lemonade I have ever had.
The trip to Primavera was a success. I would definitely make the trip out there again, but I’m just not sure I will be able to see pass item #1 again.

Shanghai Brunch at Dumpling Kitchen

I woke up famished this morning. It was probably because I hiked twenty miles yesterday covering most of the Ohlone Wilderness. It was the most aggressive hike I have ever taken. I definitely burned more calories than I ate yesterday.

This morning I contacted my friend to have breakfast with me. We agreed on Shanghai cuisine, but needed to decide on where. There used to be a great place for Shanghai brunch in Oakland Chinatown we loved, but it closed down several years ago. After some research, we decided to travel all the way to Dumpling Kitchen in the Parkside neighborhood of San Francisco. Until we arrived, I didn’t remember that we had eaten there once before.
We ordered soy milk to start. You can get it hot or cold. You can get it sweet or savory. We both went with hot and sweet. It really is comforting to start a Sunday morning with a nice glass of hot and sweet soy milk.
The one thing I missed the most from the Shanghai restaurant in Oakland that closed was their salted rice roll. We ordered it at Dumpling Kitchen and it was quite good. Steamed sticky rice is wrapped around a fried bread with dry shredded pork and pickled vegetables.
We took the recommendation of Yelpers who were raving about the Shanghai style pan fried pork buns. The dough is thicker than a dumpling skin but thinner than the bread of a BBQ pork bun. The bottom of the bun was crispy like a pot sticker. The pork filling was tender and flavorful. I agree with Yelpers that these were amazing.
Another recommendation was the green onion pancake. I actually remember having these last time. Onion pancakes are often oily, but these were not. They were light, airy, and very tasty.
My friend and I also wanted a noodle dish. We had the pork and preserved vegetable stir-fried rice cakes. I enjoyed this dish, but it was not the best I have had. The best one I had was in Shanghai!
This second trip to Dumpling Kitchen was more memorable than the first. I also think it was worth the long drive to fulfill my craving for Shanghai cuisine.