Heading to Philly tonight after work for the weekend. The plan is lots of eating, a Phillies game (which will also include eating), and the science museum. I’ll try to blog something about food when I get back. Or just blog in general.
I tried a cockle on top of a pizza at 2 Amys last night. Will, of course, was the one who ordered it–the Vongole pizza, I believe. It looks like this (I borrowed this picture from Yelp):
It tasted sort of sweet and chewy, maybe sweeter than a mussel, but I mostly just tasted the white pizza underneath. Crushed red pepper, garlic, herbs, cheese.
This totally doesn’t count as a legit post for this blog. I just want to tell you about 2 Amys, really.
Doesn’t he look like the Big Friendly Giant, but an angry version? Maybe if the BFG was a lumberjack by trade. Maybe a pizza-making BFG lumberjack. When you own a place so (SPOILER ALERT!) delicious, shouldn’t you at least look happy?
2 Amys has 639 reviews on Yelp, with a four-star overall rating. People in DC seem more disgruntled than most smaller cities (we have pretty terrible traffic), so I’m surprised it’s held onto its high praise.
We had to wait about 20 minutes, but someone thought ahead and created a bar area in the back that’s completely separate from the dining area. You’re directed to stand back there while you wait for your table. The bar area is painted a very warm shade of orange-ish yellow (not yellow-ish orange, I don’t think), and unlike most bars, it’s well-lit. I appreciate a well-lit bar at a family-friendly place like this. I don’t need to squint at a drink menu just because the designer thought blue lighting looked artsier. Also, they don’t play any music–also an excellent decision. The atmosphere emphasizes how much it is about the food.
We had a drink while we waited, and we watched an older man with thick black-rimmed glasses (who is also illustrated on the cover of the wine booklet) thoughtfully pull out anchovies or sardines or both out of open white ceramic dishes sitting on the bar, then carefully arrange them in a simple row with a fork on a small white plate. Completely unpretentious, seemed like he was in his own world, going at his own delicate pace.
Our table was against the wall, next to the black and white subway tiles. Simple, yet quality wooden tables, those wooden woven chairs you’d find in a cabin. (My house had them growing up, and I certainly didn’t live in a cabin, but my mom is bold in her decorating decisions.) We ordered a fried artichoke, which came out very quickly. It was still warm, lightly crisp, and well trimmed. The leaves tasted like potato chips sprinkled with the tiniest bit of salt. We squeezed lemon juice on it–that’s all it needed.
Pizzas came soon after. Will’s took a bit of preparation on his part–he had to disengage the cockle from its shell. The shells themselves are beautiful and rustic and small. I kind of wanted to wash them and take them home and display them on an empty shelf (which I don’t have).
I ordered a custom pizza, with a very thin layer of tart tomato sauce, super fresh and squeaky mozzarella, GORGONZOLA, cherry tomatoes, and pepperoni. This is not your shelf-stable Hormel pepperoni. We’re not talking bland here. This is PORK, spicy, seasoned pork, sliced into tiny rounds that curl up once cooked. Perhaps you can see the oil that pools in them on this pizza, another photo borrowed from Yelp:
This is not the kind of pizza you cut into slices, try as Will might. It’s a knife and fork pizza, true Neapolitan. Super crisp outer crust, thin and wet middle. When I was left with more crust than middle, I dragged the crust through the puddles of oil and blue cheese on my almost-empty plate. Salty, lightly porky, chewy. THIS is what pizza should taste like.
When you come visit me, ask me to take you here. Sure, a lot of people bring their babies and small children here, but it’s good to know that you can appreciate how great this pizza is and those Gogurt-loving crayon wranglers can’t. Idiots.
BWI (pronounced “Bwee” in my house) is one of those regional airports that was plopped down in the middle of farm country and is close enough to service Baltimore and DC, but also requires either a car or a train, then shuttle ride, to get to. It usually has the cheapest flights, especially to Boston, so I flew in and out of it during my college years for breaks.
Considering it’s an airport, the food could be a lot worse. It has options like the ever-expanding local chain California Tortilla (the chips and queso aren’t good in a sophisticated sense, but in an I-love-melted-American-cheese sense) and Silver Diner, which I’d give two out of five stars on Yelp, but three stars for airport food. If you’re not at the airport, though, and want a decent meal, you have to drive to the actual city of Baltimore or pretty much leave I-95.
I offered to pick up my mom and her friend at the airport yesterday after their mahjong tournament in Vegas. Mom’s flight came in at least an hour before her friend’s, so we had some wait time. I was hoping to get Hard Times on the way home–I love their chili and wings–but both flights were delayed. We needed to eat somewhere close by that wasn’t a Wendy’s while we waited for the second flight.
Someone at the airport recommended G&M Restaurant for their crab cakes, supposedly some of the best in Maryland. Unfortunately, I grew up not liking seafood, and one of Maryland’s specialties is blue crab. Oops. But it was close by, we were hungry, and my mom loves crab.
The title of this post is the message that greets you at the hostess stand at G&M. The restaurant is in a giant clapboard warehouse-looking building with a parking lot that looks like a rural Ford dealership lot–completely packed with pick-up trucks and SUVs. Not the best omen for quality dining, on top of the fact that the only other restaurant at the intersection and seemingly in the actual town is Charlie’s Donut and Sandwich Shop.
When you walk in, it’s apparent that this is the place to go for “fancy” dining in the community. You get handed a buzzer like you get at Cheesecake Factory and cram into the lacquered wooden benches lining the walls in the waiting area while trying your best not to bump knees with the overweight woman in the party next to you. With echoes of “25-minute wait,” I’m dismayed, because we don’t have much time to eat and get back. But Mom called ahead, so we only sit for five minutes before we’re seated.
The drink menu is pretty exciting–$2.75 for a Yuengling on tap, which isn’t an incredible deal, but still better than what you’d find in DC. Then the cocktail side–fruity drinks galore. The woman at the table next to me didn’t even have to look at the menu to order a frozen strawberry daiquiri that came topped with whipped cream. I ordered a Prima Margarita (when in Rome), which was made with freshly squeezed lime juice, agave syrup (the waitress called it “honey”), and Milagro tequila. This giant thing, about as big as my face, was $6.50. SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS. This would be absurd in DC.
I don’t know how much alcohol was in this thing–I’m guessing not enough. But it tasted sour and fairly fresh, not like the neon green Jose Cuervo margarita mix I’d expect. Look at it positively lording over my college dining hall knife and spoon. BOW DOWN TO YOUR BENEVOLENT BEVERAGE, LOWLY METAL UTENSILS!
I finished it at the end of my meal (five pieces of fried veal in a pleasantly tart and thick lemon-white wine sauce, a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, heavily brown-sugared baby carrots, a side salad, and a roll the size of that margarita for only $16.95), and the waitress asked if I wanted another one. I looked at her as if she was kidding. And then she asked if we wanted dessert, and if we wanted to take the other roll home. I love that this is the norm at places like this in towns like this. Sure, I’ll just take it home and put it in the fridge next to the leftover Hamburger Helper and Costco-sized jug of milk. (This is where the J in ISFJ comes into play.)
I’m still thinking about how great the lemon sauce was this morning, even if it wasn’t something Tom Colicchio would approve of–he’d probably call it cloying in texture, so maybe I should put my judgement away. Perhaps I should invest in white tennis shoes and a pleather purse with fringe and shut my mouth.
So the past two weeks, I have eaten nothing of note for this blog. That does not mean I’m giving it up! (I am DETERMINED to make one of my blogs work! Though I guess if I was actually determined, I’d actually update it weekly like I planned.)
Will and I made egg sandwiches like, two weeks ago. Whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs (two yolks, four whites), chipotle mayo, avocado, bacon, cheese, and red onion, modeled after the Bacon and Eggs, Fancy at Mike & Patty’s.
I’ve been drinking beer, eating at places like the Tune Inn, which has a deep-fried burger on the menu and the only dessert listed is deep-fried cheesecake, and boiling forms of pasta (this includes pierogi–I’m sorry, World, why haven’t some of you caught on to the deliciousness of pasta enveloping MASHED POTATOES?). Strangely, I have lost about two pounds. I’m calling this the new Atkins. I’ve only been to the gym three times in three weeks.
What should I eat next?
Chris: Ron, would you like some salad?
Ron: Since I am not a rabbit, no, I do not.
This quote from last week’s episode of “Parks and Recreation” (an amazing show this season) sums up my thoughts on grains like quinoa. Am I on a special diet? Am I a vegetarian? Do I hate fun? No, no, and no.
But apparently, quinoa has all nine amino acids, so it’s really healthy. Not that that would sway me, normally, but I just joined the gym and I should probably try to eat better so I don’t collapse on the elliptical while I’m watching “Top Chef: All Stars.”
Also, it was a staple in the Inca diet and even though they died out, they still seemed pretty smart at the time.
It seems like the best way to try something new is to eat it IN something, not on its own. I found this recipe for Quinoa Stir-Fry with Vegetables and Chicken on Epicurious. Looks like it basically substituted the quinoa for rice.
I asked my new roommate Colleen if she wanted any. She looked at it and politely said, “I feel like cereal tonight.” Totally don’t blame her.
Why I think I don’t like it
I’ve had it once, at our family friends’ house. They’re vegetarians, and they also made eggplant parmesan. I don’t like eggplant that much, so that dinner mostly consisted of me drinking lots of wine. The quinoa itself wasn’t awful, but its texture was foreign to me. It was just easier not to eat it again.
How should I eat it?
As I said before, eating it straight up, or even with a light dressing, didn’t appeal to me. Because the recipe I used mixed it with foods and flavors I already know I like, I figured it was a good start. This recipe also looked good, and the picture made the quinoa glow, but I wanted a more complete meal.
In the field
I took two pictures. One was of the quinoa in the pot on its own. Nothing to write home about. But here’s what the dish looked like right before I ate it:
Looked a little like couscous, which I really like. But couscous is actually a member of the pasta family because it’s made from semolina flour.
It tasted springy, nutty, and chewy. I wouldn’t say the grain on its own had much flavor aside from that, but it seems like more of a vehicle grain than anything.
Would I eat this again?
Yes. Its texture wasn’t totally off-putting, and its flavor wasn’t offensive. It seems pretty versatile, and it would also make a great side dish. Since it’s so healthy, I’d like to try to eat it at least once a month. The only problem: it was $4.99 for a 2 1/2 cup box at Harris Teeter. You want people on food stamps to eat healthier? Make quinoa cost less than a family-size box of Velveeta mac and cheese.
My goal is to eat something new every week. This week and past weekend, that attempt has fallen by the wayside.
I visited some of my favorite people in the world (the rest of you need websites) in Boston last weekend, and while I had some new things (poutine at Foundry on Elm and calamari at Lucky’s Lounge), neither was on my blog radar. I already knew I would love poutine–French fries doused with gravy and mixed with cheese curds (not enough, though!). Calamari IS on list for the blog, but I only had one piece (it tasted fine–like chewy fried food), and I should really extend it to squid in general.
Aside from that, I haven’t been home much for dinner. I had country fried steak, mac and cheese, and broccoli at Ted’s Bulletin on Monday, not to mention one of their homemade strawberry pop tarts for breakfast the next morning. I went out for cocktails at the Topaz Hotel’s bar on Tuesday, which hit me a lot harder than I expected due to the happy hour prices and the fact that I only ate half a pop tart, some Greek yogurt, and apple slices earlier in the day. This very well could have been my dinner (I strongly considered this), but I stopped off at Taylor Gourmet for an awesome 9th Street Italian
sub hoagie that tasted even better while on the edge of drunk and buzzed. I’ve got ballet tonight, but I’m not going to let that stop me from considering making a trip to Harris Teeter afterward for some…
I feel like this is a semi-approachable grain. I’m going to get back to researching recipes now.
In general, I’m not a fan of seafood. When someone asks me why, I say, you don’t know where that fish has been! Not that I know where the cow that gave me my hamburger patty was either, but no one ever goes that far.
This distaste probably started from one of my earliest memories. I must have been about four or five, and Mom made shrimp for dinner. Being young and picky, I had a bite and didn’t want to finish it. Dad told me I couldn’t have dessert unless I ate all of them. A unique event, because I can’t recall my parents ever really making me finish something I didn’t like, as long as I tried it. I remember pouting at the table for at least half an hour, my head on my crossed arms, Dad watching me from the head of the table. Finally, victory, but I’m not sure who really won–I didn’t eat them (point: me), but I didn’t get dessert either (point: shrimp/Dad). But at least I left the table.
Growing up, I loved canned tuna with mayo sandwiches. Then, in middle or high school, something clicked in my brain that said, THIS IS FISH! YOU HATE FISH! DON’T EAT ME! So I stopped eating it.
I know I need to get my omega-3s, so I tried taking fish oil at one point. I bought the Target store brand, which may have been my first mistake. I’d always been a late bloomer, and this included learning how to take pills. I don’t think I learned how to place one on the back of my tongue, get a mouthful of water, and throw my head back without gagging it back up until about 14. (Perhaps I’d realized the pharmaceutical industry was never going to get cough medicine to taste like actual cherries.) So I tried taking these fish oil vitamins, these clear brownish one-inch missiles that tasted like fishy fish going down. I imagine castor oil tasting similarly vile. I tried them a couple of times and gave up.
When I graduated college a semester early, I decided to move to Maui for a couple of months and bide my time before the actual graduation ceremony. I had a contract writing job that paid me very little, certainly not enough to live on anywhere in the US. But this was the time to do try something that I wouldn’t be able to do when I had real bills.
What do you think of when you think of Hawaii? Aside from hula, luau, pineapples, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, seafood is a big one. I knew that if I was going to be somewhere like Hawaii that had access to the freshest fish, I’d probably have to eat it. I ended up eating the Mahi Mahi Burger at Paia Fish Market a couple of times and liking it, but that’s as far as I got.
Lately, I’ve been eating tuna sandwiches again, and I’ve eaten tapas with tuna in them. I’m workin’ on it.
Why I think I don’t like them
I’ve actually eaten mussels once before. I briefly dated this guy that was my server a couple of times at All Star Sandwich Bar*, and one of their line cooks also worked at Green Street Grill. Green Street’s pretty fancy (the restaurant, not the street, trust me on this), so I was definitely excited to try it when he said he’d take me. The chef he knew sent out a bunch of complimentary dishes, including a bowl of mussels. I think they were prepared pretty simply, with white wine, shallots, all that. They were awful. So chewy, and I just wanted to drink as much water as possible to get them down without a fight. Haven’t touched them since.
I mentioned this experience to my friend who frequents Green Street (for cocktails, mostly), and he said their food isn’t that great. I’m taking solace in the fact that perhaps my mussels were overcooked, poorly seasoned, something.
How should I eat them?
One of my DC roommates, Nikki (who recently moved out with her fiancé to their own place), told me she always hated mussels. She and her fiancé Michael went to Granville Moore’s for dinner once, and that’s where she learned to like them. She recommended the New World Moules with chorizo, kale, yellow curry, and coconut milk.
I’d been to Granville Moore’s before and had their frites and I think a steak sandwich with my friend Emilie, but hadn’t forayed into mollusk territory. I already knew their frites were incredible, and they carry one of my favorite beers–Duchesse De Bourgogne, a sour Flanders red ale that you can’t find at a lot of restaurants or bars.
In the field
Will could not wait to go here. He loves mussels. In fact, he ordered them on our first date at Bistrot du Coin. I’d dipped a tiny bit of bread in the mussel broth, but that’s as far as I got.
The doorman/host in a dingy hoodie sweatshirt told us it’d be a two plus hour wait, which we expected, as it was a Saturday, they don’t take reservations, and it was 8:30 pm. Here is one thing I love about this place: they take your cell number and call you when your table’s ready, so you can get a couple of drinks at neighboring bars. We headed next door to Church and State, a new we-make-our-own-ginger-beer-and-bitters kind of place, for fancy cocktails. I’m glad to see the cap on classy drinks generally doesn’t exceed $12, though that’s not saying I couldn’t buy 12 boxes of Kraft mac and cheese and eat for two weeks. After about an hour and a half, we went across the street to another new place, Smith Commons. Turns out the bar scene was 30s yuppies, which is strange and mainly unwelcome on H Street, but I had my first cocktail with an egg white (a whiskey sour) and loved the creamy sweetness it added.
We went to check on our place in line at GM’s, and the doorman says he tried to call my cell three times. My phone shows no activity, but y’know, cell phones mysteriously delete all your texts or don’t ring sometimes. It happens. At this point, it was probably 11, and we’d had a couple of drinks. We were so hungry, we would have sat on the stairs outside the restaurant and been served there. Will was kind of pissed because he thought the guy was jerking us around, but we decided to sit at the bar and wait until the late night menu started at 11:30, partially because the Popeye’s down the street was already closed. We ordered beers and waited.
Finally, the bartender knowing we’d been waiting forever, handed us the menu at 11:30 sharp. All of the mussels and frites were available, which is all we cared about. We ordered the large bowl of frites (truly large–probably weighed about three pounds in potatoes alone), three flavored mayos, and the Bleu Moules, which had blue cheese, pork belly, shallots, spinach, white wine, and lemon. Everything I like, except mussels, of course. I might have been slightly drunk at that point, so I don’t really remember what the mussels looked like. Will took a picture, though:
I don’t know if these look good, because I’m no mollusk connoisseur, but the spinach looks fine. The meat in the mussels…looks sort of like mushrooms, which I also don’t like. But I was too hungry/drunk to care. Will taught me how to eat a mussel. Here’s me attempting not to spill the broth all over my lap (not so successful):
I must have eaten it already, cause I just see broth.
Anyway, I scooped as much broth, spinach, and pork belly into each shell as possible before using the empty half to loosen the mussel from its moorings and shovel into into my mouth. Will preferred to drain his before eating it, but what’s the point of all the stuff they put in it if you’re not going to eat it?
My impression? DELICIOUS. I was so excited to finally whole-heartedly like something that I’ve covered in this blog, rather than tolerate it or downright hate it.
I ate at least eight of these guys (I was pretty full on frites at this point). I don’t know if it’s just good to eat when you’re drunk, like Anthony Bourdain often says, or if they’re actually this good, but I’m inclined enough to think it’s the latter, so I’ll be back.
Will said that since this is more over-the-top than traditional mussels, I might want to try the usual garlic-white wine-herb-lemon version to compare. I don’t know–why would I crush my mussel-liking hopes for possible grossness later?
Will I eat them again?
Definitely at Granville Moore’s. They have the traditional kind (Marinere), but they also have Diablo–shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes, and tomato broth. I’d try that, or just go back to the Bleu because they were so good.
Mission accomplished! I actually like something from this blog experiment!
I’d also like to point out that these pictures were taken with Will’s iPhone. Mine have been with my HTC Incredible. This is the only time I will say that an iPhone is better than a droid. Well, that and the fact that iPhones have Words With Friends, and all my roommates play together and I can’t. All I have is DroidWords Free, and this one dude played words like “rape” and “vomit” and “poo” and still won. I don’t like where his thoughts are going.
*They make one of my favorite sandwiches ever. It was a special once or twice, but it’s not on the regular menu, so you have to ask if they have all the ingredients to make it before you order it now. It’s sourdough bread–my favorite bread EVER–pressed with sharp cheddar, bacon, avocado, and chipotle mayo. Every flavor I love.