Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fishers Farmers Bakers for Eaters Movers Shakers

Farmers Fishers Bakers
3000 K Street NW
Washington Harbour
Washington, DC 20007
202-298-TRUE (8783)

They were gone for a while, but now they're back, though it's no longer Founding Farmers or Farmers and Fishers. This is a new restaurant all together.
All of the restaurants at the waterfront in Georgetown got flooded during a huge storm about 2 years ago and FFB joins Tony and Joe's in whole restaurant makeovers.
 I always liked the layout and attention to detail in the construction of the original Founding Farmers. VSAG has taken this to a new level in Farmers Fishers Bakers. 
 These folks like to do a lot of things from scratch and they're not shy about sharing it.  Many of their herbs, preserved foods, and other staples are on display for you to see.  This slightly secluded area is to your right after you walk in the main entrance. Note the wall decorations...
 Here's another shot of that table.
The indoor-grow room divider.
This is the dining room to the right.  It's lined with goodies they can/preserve for use in the restaurant.
This is the bar, which has been moved to a more central location and has many more seats that than the original configuration.  That's Mr. Aroyo, mixologist extraordinaire hiding in the back.
Reclaimed furnishings and decorations are the order of the day here.  Note the tires...real tires, not tire patterns.
This stove had a potpourri with star anise and oranges boiling on could smell it throughout the restaurant.  Very nice.
This is a view from the dining room to the left.  Lots of outside space overlooking the fountain.
Many of the columns have art on them.  Neat touch.
This is a water sculpture of sorts, with the men's room to the right and the lady's room door to the left.....note the window behind the tub....
The window behind the tub is notable because it is made of one-way glass.  This is the view from the commode in the men's room.  You can actually see directly into the restaurant while you're sitting on the john. I did not have occasion to use it, so I'm not sure if it would be liberating or induce some serious stage-fright.  Time will tell.
The fun doesn't stop with the commode.  Note the pincer art above the urinals.  
The kitchen didn't lose much space in the remodel.  It's huge.  Nicely tended to as well.
The bakery part of the kitchen is open to the dining room.  Nice artwork on the fronting.  They produce baked goods for their other restaurants here as well.
More column art...
Last, but not least, Fried Chicken with Grits.  Very good.  This was as crispy as some of the best duck confit you're likely to have.  The grits had just enough acid to balance out the creaminess.
This was my dining companion's meal of Chicken Tenders with Street Corn Off the Cobb.  I didn't get to taste it, but it looked good.
To help scrub some of that cholesterol out of my veins I had a side salad named Drag Through The Garden. As you'd expect, it was tasty and had nice fresh veggies.

Bottom line?  A nice comeback from a very unfortunate flood.  The new restaurant that has risen from the ashes of the old is superior and I wish them the best of luck. 

If you stop in, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.
Thank you.
Farmers Fishers Bakers on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Home Cookin' - Soup for Thanksgiving? Try Minestrone

Howdy all.  This is not a fast and furious recipe.  It will take you a few hours, but the end result is worth it.
Let's start with the ingredients so you can get your mise' en place working. I adapted the recipe from Ruth Reichl's Gourmet cookbook.
  • 1-14 oz. can of great northern beans
  • 1/2 lb of new or boiling potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 lb bacon or pancetta...or 1/2 a pound, if you are a pork fiend
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 large carrot 1/4" cube
  • 2 zucchini, about 1 lb. total, 1/4-1/2" cube
  • 1/4 lb green beans cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 cups shredded Savoy cabbage....basically one small head
  • 1/2 lb of dark kale trimmed and chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes, approximately 30 oz., drained
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • black pepper to taste
  • shredded parm for topping

Here's most of the mise'.  Remember to make cut everything down to the size you want it to be on the spoon.  I would have probably cut my zucchini a little finer....So you start by heating the oil in a big pot.  Let it shimmer, then add your pork of choice. Saute until just browned.
Add your onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, until they are softened, then....
Add your carrots, celery, and garlic.  Cook for five minutes, stirring, then....
Add your beautifully cubed potatoes.  Continue cooking those for five minutes, stirring, then....
Add your 1/2" cut fresh green beans.  Continue cooking and stirring for five minutes, stirring, then...
Add your perfectly cubed zucchini.  Continue cooking and stirring for another five minutes, then...
Stir in your kale.  Let that cook down for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add...
Your Savoy cabbage.  Same deal...cook down for a few minutes, then add about 4 cups of the chicken stock and....
Your tomatoes.  I used some canned fire-roasted tomatoes.  When I make it again I may go fresh.  Always a better option if you can, though finding good tomatoes at this time of year can be a challenge.  Stir this all together and let it simmer for an hour.
After an hour, pure 1/2 the white beans and the liquid from the can in a food processor, then add the the pureed and unpureed beans to the soup. 
Stir and serve with a sprinkle of shredded parm on top. You will be pleased with your efforts.  If it's too thin, let it simmer a little longer.  Too thick?  Add some of the reserved chicken stock.  As an aside, this can be prepared a day or two in advance and refrigerated.  The flavors have a chance to come together and you won't be stuck doing all of this on Thanksgiving while the rest of your family is getting drunk on your beaujolais nouveau.
If you try it leave me a message and let me know how it goes!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Home Cookin' - You know the saying..."Sausage and laws. You don't want to see how they're made."

I've got a strong stomach, but there is no way I can stomach watching legislators, so I figured I'd stick to making sausage!
My neighbors Dave and Shawn decided that it would be a good idea, so I thought I'd lend a hand.  Who doesn't like spicy Italian sausage anyhow?
Shawn and I went up to one of my favorite butcher shops, The Laurel Meat Market, and had them grind us up 60 pounds of pork shoulder.
We brought it back to Dave's house and got to work.
 This is Dave's 5 lb. Sausage Stuffer.
 First we did a one pound batch to make sure we had the spices right.  Luckily, we did.  Dave had the following recipe from a cookbook of his:
60# pork shoulder coarsely ground
10 T coriander
10 T black pepper
20 cloves garlic
10 T salt
12 T fennel, cracked
1.5 T crushed red pepper
This was obviously multiplied out for our purpose.
I mixed in the spices...we did two 30 lb. batches based on the restrictions of our mixing bowl and the fact that we wanted to keep the meat refrigerated as much as possible during the production. There hasn't been a case of trichinosis in a long time, and I didn't want to be the first.

 Here's Dave spooning in the salt while I mix.
Here is Dave handling the casing while Shawn cranks the stuffer.
 Et Voila!  Yards of tasty sausage ready to be cooked.  In our case, we are freezing and vacuum packing most of it.
 Yes, that's me making a dick joke.  The room was full of them. How could you pass it up?
It was a very nice experience, and the sausage was great. Remember to keep it as cold as possible for as long as possible, and if you're handling the casing task keep your hands wet!
Until next time....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Epic Smokehouse....from the smoker with love

Epic Smokehouse
1330 S. Fair St. (though your GPS might like 1330 S. Fern St. better)
Arlington, VA
Joon Yang and Wayne Halleran opened Epic Smokehouse to friends and family Saturday for a preview. I had done a short post about the restaurant during construction.  You can find there here.
Some of the pictures you see here are not of the actual dishes they will be serving.  Some are merely tastes of parts of larger entrees.  I asked them to put out a little of a lot of different things so I could get a feel for what they were trying to do here.
Above is a taste of their smoked brisket and smoked pork.  The smoke flavor in the brisket is intense.  The pulled pork isn't sloppy/mushy.  They pay attention to their times and temperatures.
This is shrimp with some of the nicest polenta I've ever tried. Good butter sauce.
This is a view from the food bar.  The restaurant is long and slim with windows all the way across.  The woodwork is creative and attention to detail was apparent.
Here's another shot of that shrimp dish.
This is the cold-smoke scallop dish.  The crispy kimchi under it was a perfect foil to the sweetness of the scallops.  I'm not sure if you can tell in the picture, but these scallops were probably 3-4 ounces.  Huge.
Just smoke to rare, then seared.
This is a treat you won't find anywhere else:  (at least anywhere else I've been to) The smoked prime rib.  There is an understated horseradish crusting, but the reason it's understated is because the smoke flavor is off the charts.  This meat must spend a long time in the cool smoke to get it like that.  I recommend it even if you're not a prime rib fan. 

The last thing we tried was a bit of short rib.  The meat was fork-tender, as it should be, and the sauce had just the right balance of salt. 

All in all, a great first night.  Please stop by and check them out.  If you do, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.

Epic SmokeHouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to Newton's Table in Bethesda

Newton's Table
4917 Elm St.
Bethesda, MD 20814

There isn't a whole lot of fine dining going on in Bethesda.  There are a few standout restaurants though.  Newton's Table is one.  Everyone reading my blog likely knows the story of local-boy-done-good Dennis Friedman.  If not, he used to be the exec at Bezu before striking out on his own.
Above is the onion foccacia that they start you with.  It's quality.
This was my wife's gazpacho.  Very nicely done.  Almost as good as mine!

The carpaccio of beef was a nice way to start my meal.  Shaved tenderloin and parm with some arugala.  The white dots on the right side of the photo are truffled aioli.  My son got a taste of this and immediately asked if we could get some to take home.  The flavor was a text book example of balance.
Dennis's take on Crab Cakes with a nicely spiced red pepper coulis.
Cheryl had the Chilean Sea Bass. Pretty to look at and cooked to perfection.  Crispy on top, just cooked through inside.

I was wowed by the bison ribeye.  More likely, I was wowed by the rub and the texture of the steak.  One of the best I've ever had.

The desserts here are like a mini-carnival on a plate.
Dennis's wife Patty makes the rum cake on the left here. If you only try one dessert here, that should be it.  The ice cream in the middle had some chili in it that gave a nice, fading heat.  The pinapple brule was a treat as well.
All in all, a solid meal with great service. Parking is valet and is only $7.00, so take advantage of that. Finding a spot in Bethesda at dinner time sucks since they closed the lot at the end of Woodmont.  If you do go, please tell Robert the GM or Dennis the chef/owner that you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.