Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Molecular Gastronomy a la minibar

I am humbled by what I experienced this weekend at minibar.
Beware of imitators. This is the inspiration for many other restaurants that have tasting menus in the DC Metro area involving molecular gastronomy as it's known. You can always tell the inspiriation from the inspired.
Ok, on to the show.
minibar (btw, for those of you who think I'm unclear on the use of capitalization with minibar, I noted that in all of my correspondence with their management team not once was the m in minbar capitalized) is the hardest reservation to secure in DC in my experience so far. Read their web page for strategies necessary to secure it. Is it worth the time? Absolutely.
Is it worth the money? Affirmative. I've spent much more for much less. This was the culinary equivalent of Cirqe de Soleil. Quick-paced, entertaining, lively, fun and engaging.
I can't/won't go over the intricacies of the 28 courses we had, but a menu and some pictures are below.
If you go, bring five people with you. There are only six seats at minibar. Enjoy it with friends. They have some wine flights that are paired to the coursing, not necessarily the courses, i.e. for the starters, for the savory, then the sweet sections of the tasting. 4 of the 6 of us opted for the sparkling wine pairings, which were an excellent value at 5 varieties for $40.00.
The lighting wasn't optimal for pictures, so this is only a smattering of shots that really don't do it justice.
If you go, tell Brian and Bonji that you read about it here!
Thanks for reading.
The menu.The intrepid dining crew. These folks bravely accompany me and my wife on our flights of fancy. Sindhu and Eric (couple on the right) were with us at the chef's table at Citronelle. Laura (2nd from left)and her husband, Craig (not pictured for security purposes 8-0), had dined with us at City Zen a while back, at Grapeseed, and most recently at Inox.
This is the Olive Oil bon Bon

Lots of tricks with liquid nitrogen and such.

What looks like raisins here are actually port that has been encapsulated.  Very tasty.

This was the pallete cleanser...

This was fantastic.  Deconstructed clam chowder.

The chefs.  Brad on the left was with Michel in the Ritz Tysons Corner and Paul on the right is the chef at America Eats, a new concept by Jose Andres in the former Cafe Atlantico spot.  Ryan Moore, in the middle, is with Rogue 24.

If you're friends ever argue about the best cheese steak in the world? Bring them to this restaurant. I don't know if you can order this a la carte, but it's worth a try.
Thanks again for reading.
Minibar By Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yes, I have been tardy with my postings...

But I've done some fun things since the Boyscout cookout.
I've done some more home cooking, and I've eaten at some decent restaurants as well, including BGR Burger Joint in Bethesda, Cubano's in Silver Spring, and minibar in DC. I'm posting some pix here on the first three, but minibar will get a seperate post within a few days. Kids sliders at Burger Joint
Vidalia rings and a couple o'burgers

So how was Burger Joint? Pretty tasty. When I walked in it was kind of chaotic and I ordered using what info I could glean from the chalk board. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to tell what was on what from that and should have picked up a menu. The bacon cheese burger that I had was good. The bacon was excellent. Had I known about the burger with the black truffles on it i would have tried that...looks like I'll have to go back.

This was just a little caprese I put together....I live for good tomatoes in the summer.

This is a shot of an fish a'la Adolfo. I don't think it's on the menu. I happened to be in Silver Spring at lunch time and found that Adolfo was at Cubano's. It's always great to sit with an old friend and break bread.

Adolfo on the patio. For those of you who will be attending the Cinqo de Mayo party, he will be the caterer, of course.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Home Cookin'...Mother Nature's Hizzy.

So, it wasn't exactly "roughing it".
Well, maybe it was, but luckily we had enough wine and food to keep us going for a night. The entire gaggle of Boyscouts had a ceremony and camping thing Saturday.
The weather held until about 8:30 or so, then the heavens let loose with the hardest rain I've seen so far this year.

Anyhow, my buddy Mike said he was going to do a one-pot meal for dinner. I thought it sounded like a great idea and started thinking...what can I make with one pot that will be knock-your-socks-off good?
I like to try to impress my wife with my cooking as I'm fairly certain it's the only reason she married me. She liked this, but I don't think she liked it as much as I did.

I pre-packaged everything and had all of the prep done. Everything was in ziplocks in our cooler. I brought my favorite cast iron Dutch Oven, some tongs, and a wooden spoon as the only things that would need to be packed and brought home.

I threw some pork back in the oven and rendered that. Then I threw in a pound of Andouille and let that brown for a while, followed that with a pound of bonless chicken, then, because Alex asked for it, a snow-crab cluster. After that I emptied the spice baggie (garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, and tumeric for color) into the pot.

After they'd gotten soft I put in about 1/2 of a red plastic cup of chardonnay (be precise!) and let that reduce to about 1/4 of the pre-reduction volume. Once all of that was done I added two small cans of white beans, liquid and all, and let that simmer for a while with the lid on.

I served it with some lovely wine-in-a-box and crusty baguette.
What's your favorite single-pot meal?
Share it.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fish Taco Party!

So this is the real deal. Last week was merely a rehearsal. My friends came in from out of town. I did most of the prep/cooking before they got there so that I was able to spend time with them rather than time at the stove or grill.
The only last minute items were the actual proteins and tortillas.

I started out making a Smooth Tomato and Serrano Salsa
4 tomatoes, a red onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 serrano chili ribs/seeds removed.
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (fresh, natch) 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, salt/pepper.Saute the onions and garlic over medium heat in canola or grapeseed oil...don't brown them. Just cook until soft.Add the tomatoes. Let that cook until they're soft.Let it cool down for a few minutes, then puree in processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and chill. Here's a shot of the Smoky Red Pepper Bean Dip. The recipe for this was in last weeks' post.
So this week I took it a couple of steps further than last. We had Grilled Mahi with Citrus Vinaigrette, Grilled Shrimp with Orange-Cilantro Vinaigrette, and Grilled Steak with a Tequila-Lime Fajita Marinade. The ingredients of all the marinades are below. Be warned: Only let the fish/shrimp sit in vinegar-based marinades for 10 minutes or so. Any longer and you will end up with ceviche.
Citrus Vinagrette:
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup canola or grapeseed
1 tbsp ancho chile powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Orange-Cilantro Vinaigrette:
1 tbsp orange zest
1/4 orange juice
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 serrano chile, seeded/chopped
1/4 fresh cilanto leaves
1/4 canola or grapeseed
Dave's Tequila-Lime Fajita Marinade:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp grated lime rind
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup tequila

Yum...add a little chipotle puree for some fire!
Thanks for reading.