Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nest....Yes, Nest.

The menu.

Chef Brad Bonham and me. No, he is not related to the most awesome drummer to ever die young.

Here's a shot of the charcuterie plate. The prosciutto and salami were excellent.
Here's a close-up of the white pizza with prosciutto. I haven't had a white pizza I liked this much since Janis Mclean (now at 15 RIA) left Red Dog in Silver Spring. I miss you Janis!

Cozy, intimate. Warm. These are words that come to mind. These guys didn't try to do everything all at once for everyone. They took their time, sourced their needs, and brought their ideas to fruition in a realistic way.

So what do you get at Nest? The question is what do you want. When you walk in it feels like a neighborhood joint that's been there forever. The staff is friendly. The owners actually work there. They have patio seating and the doors to the front of the restaurant open if I'm not mistaken. This is a nice place to hang out.

The food is good, at least what I've had of it. Brad is a Chef, not a cook. If you speak with him I'm sure you'll get what you're looking for.

To get there you'll have to walk past the Rolls Royce dealership, which is directly across from Euro Motorcars Bethesda. The $150 bottles of '94 Opus One must be for the people who shop there. Actually, for the '94 that's not a bad price.

Anyone want to do lunch? I'll pick up the pizza if you get the wine 8).

Please keep the letters and e-mails coming.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lima, without the jet lag

Hello all.
Regardless of how it sounds, it's not all work. Sometimes I actually get to try out new places and hang with old friends purely for recreation.
Tuesday night at Lima with Adolfo Mendez (Owner of Nellie's and Cubano's) and Umberto (his nephew) was one of those nights.
Chef Raynold wanted to meet Adolfo and I was more than happy to introduce them. Of course, they're only open for dinner, so we sat and enjoyed that as well as the company.
If you're a "club kid" you may want to stop in here. There is some serious dance groove going on here as well as some serious food.
Chef Raynold
Left to right me, Umberto, and Adolfo
This was the Tuna Ceviche. Raynold had suggested this. Very tasty.

These empanadas were filled with what seemed to be a meat chili. The sauce was nice. Very spicy, but not ridiculous.

This was the octopus. Done just right. A little texture, but not too chewy.

This was a salmon ceviche. Also very nice.

This is the burger, and one of the reasons I was here. Raynold and I had been discussing the merits of various burgers across the city and the price points they're being offered at. Over a burger and toasted marshmallow shake at GoodStuff Raynald threw down the gauntlet and said he had one of the best burgers in the city. I can't argue with him. When he mentioned the price he was going to sell it for at his new place I found it hard to believe. As a matter of fact, I won't even put it in writing as I don't want to hold him to it. If he does what he wants to do, he'll have one of the busiest burger joints in the city.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Home Cookin'...Veal Demi Glace

Hello out there...welcome to another chapter of Home Cooking.
Saturday morning, the weather is not so wonderful, what do you do? I decided to head down to Balducci's with some coupons and pick up 15 lbs. of veal bones. They were @ 2.99/lb. I then went to the Giant, where people who work for a living shop, and picked up some white onions, carrots, and celery.The ratio on the veggies for this should be 50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery. No more than about 1/4 of the total volume of the mix should be veggies. You want mostly veal.
So, after washing the bones, I mixed about 4 oz. of tomato paste with 1/2 cup of flour and rubbed that all over the bones. Place them in oiled baking pans no more than two layers high (it's better to use more pans in single layers if you've got the oven capacity.) Roast at 350.
While they're in the oven, wash/peel the veggies, then coarsley chop and put in another oiled roasting pan. Mix these up about every 1/2 hour. You want everything a nice, uniform brown. Don't burn any of it or it will taste bitter.
I roasted everything for about 4 hours.
After that's done, put the bones and vegetables in the biggest stock pot you have. Skim the scum and any oil that comes to the top. Do that as long as you can stand it. After a while you'll give up, but that's ok. You can get it later.
Big-ass stock pot.

Add some bay leaves, black peppercorns, and a couple of sprigs of thyme. Add cold water just about to the top, and bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 hours. I let mine go overnight.
So, 12 hours later: use a slotted spoon to remove the bones, fat, veggies from the pot. Strain into another pot using a chinoi or mesh strainer or whatever you have handy. You'll want to do this a couple of times.
Put it back on the flame and keep it at a simmer.
In another pot put a bottle of red and bring to a full boil...slice a few shallots and throw them in the wine. Reduce by half, then throw in the simmering pot with the veal stock.

This is when it starts to look like something you'd recognize as demi glace.

Keep it on the flame for another two or three hours. Keep skimming the scum and fat.

Strain this through cheesecloth and you've got yourself some nice home-made demi.
At this point you should cool it quickly. I do this by putting a few icepacks in a ziplock and throw them directly in the pot.
When it's cool enough to work with load it into whatever will fit in your freezer. I did three tupperware containers of about 1.5 cups each, three ice cube trays, and six Pyrex ramekins that hold about 1 cup.
Notice how smooth and shiny this looks?
With what you have here you can make great finishing sauces for steaks, risotto, and most meat dishes when it's reduced a little more. You can use this straight anywhere you'd use beef broth, but it will taste a ton better. If you're doing lamb or something like that throw some of the juices from the roast into the pot with a cup of the demi, let it simmer for a few minutes, and you're good to go. Remember, don't boil it! If you're going for something thicker just let it simmer down.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did....

Until next time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Welcome to the new "It" restaurant...

I'm purposely not using the name of the place as I don't want to draw any undue attention to the restaurant or my blog. I don't want this to show up in search engines lest my secret get out and suddenly ruin my chances of getting a reservation.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to show you all about it.

This is the bar in the private dining room pre-opening. The bar itself is made of an exotic stone. I'm not sure if it's granite or marble, but it is cut thin and looks like wood at night. Very cool.

This is a picture of the main bar as the guys were putting some of the finishing touches on it.

The shelves that hold the bottles are made of the same material. Nice touch. Now it's covered with all of the necessary liquor and accoutrement to build their cocktails, which are definitely constructed. There are no Alabama Slammers going across this bar, unless you ask nicely. They make their own bitters here. I like that.

This is the best view of the bar...sitting on a comfy banquette with a Manhattan.

The view from the free valet parking...

This is a pre-opening shot of the kitchen from the dining room. There is now a chef's table in the obvious spot.

A view from the area where the chef's table is now into the kitchen.

That is a ton of stainless. Literally.

And it's all shiny.

On to the food..I'm not sure, but I think this was the lobster poached in butter. Yummy. It was accompanied by a short rib ravioli. I could have made an entree out of a couple of either item.The bread was excellent...I haven't tasted any house-made bread this good since I ate at 2941. Maybe the baker is the same guy?

Ok...I couldn't let this go without giving it a try. This was my favorite dish. Fois Gras with various flavorings around...check out the presentation..See detail below:
Someone paid attention in art class.

This is the steak, also with various sauces, reductions, emulsions, flavorings....I wish I had saved a menu so that I could explain them, but I didn't even think about it. My mistake.
So, have a free night? Got a baby sitter? Give it a shot. It's adventurous and unique for this area. They're still new and still experimenting, but the food is good, the atmosphere is comfortable, the wine list is big. There were people there in polos as well as suits and little black dresses, so this should be a good place to get a nice cocktail after work or enjoy a night out with friends...
If any of you are feeling like J. Gotrocks they have a nice 1995 DP Brut Rose on the list. Let me know when you're ready to crack that. I'll spring for dinner if you're buying the wine.
Until next time...