Saturday, May 25, 2013

Daikaya + Izakaya

I always look forward to Friday nights. Usually because I get to eat something yummy. I met up with Jenwei and Eric from NU to catch up over dinner at a new ramen and izakaya restaurant downtown. 

My shio ramen. Noodle texture was spot on, generous amounts of pork, and broth was full of body. Thumbs up from Helen.

After ramen, we headed upstairs to check out the izakaya portion of the restaurant and got seats. The menu is stapled into Japanese magazines, how very hipster of them.

Eric wanted to come here specifically for the sake bombs: spherified sake (using molecular gastronomy techniques) in sapporo. We got a round of six.

Nope, those aren't ice spheres. The sake bursts in your mouth, quite refreshing. I just took one and felt like I was back at The Aviary again...

I obviously had to order the karage. It was acceptable but not the best that I've had. 

Roasted avocado. Suggested by the waitress but it wasn't exciting.

Sausages and sauerkraut? I expected Asian style sausages but these weren't :(

Squid on cream cheese and crackers. Squid was good but too salty, and cream cheese and crackers were silly. There was also a bone marrow dish that I didn't take a picture of, and some sake on the house.

Man can you tell how full we were? Ramen + those plates...

705 6th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 589-1600

Banana Bread French Toast

Looook how good this French toast looks. Just stare. Just bask in its glory.

This is what it started as: banana bread. Yup, banana bread French toast is quite possibly the most sinful breakfast possible but it tastes amazing. I was inspired by a similar dish on the brunch menu at a restaurant called Cedar, which I've been wanting to check out but haven't had the chance to go. For now, I'll settle with trying to dupe similar-sounding dishes at home until it's time to treat myself to a meal out.

Adapted from Chez Us

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (this is the secret ingredient, makes it incredibly moist!!)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium-size bananas

 Preheat oven to 350F. Beat together coconut oil and cream cheese.

Add in brown sugar and beat well.

Add in two eggs and beat well.

Mash up two bananas and beat into the batter.

Add in dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat well until combined.

I wanted to make chocolate banana bread... so I did. I put half of the batter into a foil-lined and greased small loaf pan. With the other half, I stirred in half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Here's the loaves! This recipe is designed for one large loaf and not two smaller loaves, but it still worked out for me. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and a tester toothpick comes out clean.

Yummm. It took all my self control to not eat a whole loaf (we all know fresh banana bread is the best...)

I sliced some up to bring to work and spread out the calories so that they're not all going into my stomach. I then sliced up the rest and let it out uncovered on the counter overnight until they're no longer moist.

Recipe from Esquire (of all places...)

  • Thick slices of banana bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Pinch of cinammon
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Few drops vanilla extract
  • Small container of plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Zest of one lemon

Make the lemon yogurt topping by stirring lemon zest into yogurt. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together eggs, milk, cinnamon, butter, and vanilla. Beat well.

So...I accidentally skipped over photographing the step where I drench the bread into the egg mixture and then fry for two minutes on each side. But that's what I did, then plated and topped with lemon yogurt and maple syrup. Oh my gosh I want to make this again soon.

Spring Veggie Risotto

I typically dislike eating the same thing for multiple meals. But I made a huge batch of this -- and by huge I really mean huge. As in I started eating it on a Thursday and still had leftovers to bring to lunch by Monday. Yet surprisingly I wasn't sick of it, and I'm even considering making it again soon. How strange.

Blanch peas and asparagus.

Cook up arborio rice according to package directions using chicken stock and adding onions.

Stir veggies and diced chicken breast into cooked rice.

Add parmesan cheese and feast. Easy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lamb Jam DC 2013

So...I'm a pretty lucky gal. I won a pair of tickets for Lamb Jam 2013 through Yelp. I was excited when I heard about the tickets and I invited my friend along. Neither of us had any idea how much of a treat this was gonna be.

People nomming.

The chefs, working hard. I think these are from Bistro 525 but I can't be sure. 

Anthony Lombardo, 1789 Restaurant: lamb leg roulande with olive oregano crust, polenta chips, and madeira lamb jus. This was the first dish that I tried and one of the best of the night, so we were off to a good start. The lamb was so perfectly cooked.

Lee Gregory, The Roosevelt: smoked leg of lamb, SC farro "dirty rice," red onion marmalade, green tomato relish. I disliked this dish because the lamb tasted like a meatloaf/sausage, and it was also way too tough.

Sabastien Archambault, Blue Duck Tavern: roasted lamb leg with pine nuts and tomato confit. This was a standout dish because the flavors were so interesting; it's hard for me to like pine nuts, but when they do it right, it's amazing.

Mario Raymond, Bistro 525: citrus marinated lamb leg with sauteed wild ramps and roesti potato. The line for this dish was so long, and initially I thought it was because it had scallops (turned out to be the potato cake). Still, really great dish again, with the fried potato cake was the best part.

Franck Loquet, Ici Urban Bistro: lamb sausage with espelette pepper and ossau iraty. Just okay but I don't like sausages so I'm biased.

Billy McCormick, Virtue Feed & Grain: lamb shank tacos with Ethiopian berbere. This dish was just okay to me, I thought the meat was too salted and it could've been more complex.

Aaron McCloud, Cedar: Jamison Farm lamb shank cigar, swiss chard jam, pickled asparagus, minted lamb jus. SO GOOD. I loved the creativity of the "cigar." I've been eyeing Cedar for quite some time now, and after trying this, I know that I have to dine here before leaving DC. 

Dimitri Moshovitis, Cava Mezze Restaurant: braised lamb shank in barolo, goat cheese gnocchi, truffle and aged parmesan. I liked this -- gnocci, truffle, and parmesan are a great combination. This was when I first started to get full, so my friend and I decided to split dishes from here on out instead of each getting our own.

Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple: lamb shank ragu with potato gnocchi, pickled ramps, spring peas, garrotxa. I don't know if it was intentional that two gnocchi dishes were stationed right next to each other, but it was interesting to be able to compare. I liked the previous dish better.

Michael Costa, Zaytinya: Border Spring Farm lamb shank keftedes with halloumi cheese, burberries, pine nuts, mint yogurt, Makura olive oil. I liked the sauces but the lamb flavor was too strong with this one.

John Critchley, Bourbon Steak: lamb belly baozi with juniper and lemongrass in a steamed bao, with lamb XO sauce on the side. The flavors were good but the XO sauce overwhelmed the dish.

Will Artley, Pizzeria Orso: braised lamb belly with tomato jam. I liked the flavor profile of this slider and they were going for a lamb bacon kinda thing which is cool, but the meat was too tough that I couldn't swallow it :(

Matt Cordes, The Atlas Room: braised lamb breast in puff pastry with figs, onions, and mushrooms, with salad and foie gras crema. This dish had so much going on that it overwhelmed me at first, but I grew to love it. I especially liked the figs, which brought a wonderful sweetness to the dish.

Brian McPherson, Jackson 20 & The Grille at Morrison House: lamb roti with pigeon peas and rice. This dish wasn't good, wasn't bad, but it just didn't stand out to me.

Ed Witt, 8407 KitchenBar: bourbon braised lamb ribs with grilled local asparagus, spring garlic grits, mint gel. I wasn't a fan of this dish. It was okay but the meat was pretty tough and difficult to bite off the bone, and the components were standard.

Rodney Scruggs, Occidental Grill & Seafood: confit lamb shoulder with grilled chapati, cumin scented yogurt, pickled ramps, and warm lamb vinaigrette. This dish was tasty and pretty, and the lamb was cooked well. 

Andrew Dixon, Mad Fox Brewing Company: bulgogi lamb tacos with grilled lamb shoulder, kimchi slaw, cucumber, and cilanto. SO GOOD. This dish wasn't super exciting per say since the flavors are standard in Korean food, but I never thought that lamb would work so well as a substitute protein in Korean-style tacos. 

Victor Albisu, Del Campo: lamb clam taco with roasted border spring lamb shoulder, grilled and smoked clam salsa verde. These were cute and tasted nice, but there were other taco dishes that stood out to me more.

Wes Morton, Art and Soul: smoked lamb breast scrumpets with crushed English peas, spring garlic, preserved lemon and mint. The outside shell on this was fried perfectly, and the inside was piping hot. I would've enjoyed this dish more had I not been so full :(

Nick Stefanelli, Bibiana: cacio romano ravioli, Border Springs Farm lamb ragu, basil, pecorino. The last dish! Thank goodness this was small and light. It was pretty yummy but at this point my taste buds were so overly desensitized by the delicious food that they could no longer distinguish between flavors.

They had someone do a demo on how to butcher a lamb. We watched for a bit, but all the raw meat and blood was making me queasy since my stomach was so full. Look at that Asian woman's expression...

There was also a ice cream truck serving vanilla custard, which was had for dessert, after which I practically had to be rolled inside. This is the indoors part of the event, and they were passing out cute swag.

I.e. you can pick up a spice jar and fill it with a variety of herbs/spices for lamb rub! Pretty cool.

They had live music as well, and a box to collect ballots -- since the whole point of this event is to determine the best dish/chef/restaurant. The winner gets a trip to NY to compete in a national Lamb Jam competition I think? Asian man in picture is turning in ballot because he is very serious about his choice...

My friend bought me a shirt. Vegetarians will give me dirty looks when they see me wear it.

When we were about to leave, we headed back to the carving station where they were finishing up and passing out freshly carved lamb for free!

Of course I had to get some... so I brought home two pounds of butterflied lamb shank, courtesy of Blue Duck Tavern. Thank you, now I got to figure out what to do with it for a future blog post...