Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dave!

It was my friend Dave's birthday this Saturday, and despite feeling like I'd been run over by a truck, I went and had a good time.  Dave's birthday thing is to choose a restaurant, and then we all go out and eat there.  Simple!

We went to 8407 Kitchen bar in Silver Spring, MD.  This is actually my go-to place in Silver Spring because 1) I know where it is and 2) more importantly, it's really good so why go any where else?

It's got all the things that lure me in
1) a good cocktail program
2) the word "charcuterie" on the menu
3) cheese board
4) good scotch menu for dessert.

and this isn't on my list usually, but I like it about 8407: their portions are reasonable so I don't leave hating myself.

Despite #1, I didn't get any cocktails both because I wasn't feeling awesome and because THEY HAD MUSCADET ON THE MENU!!! I've been looking for that wine forever.  It's light and crisp and just a bit sweet, it went perfect with my squid ink tagliatelle and shrimp.

Because we're us, we ordered a metric crapton of appetizers and shared them around:

* deviled eggs - this was my order.  Nice, classic deviled eggs but served with crispy pork rinds and pickled beets.  Not sure the pork rinds were necessary, but who doesn't love them.

* trotter tots - easily my favorite.  The were creamy and porky and crisp around the edges. Heck yes!

* calamari - was the classic fried, breaded calamari.  What was most interesting was the sauce they served it with, wasn't the usual marinara but tasted like a Cuban Aji sauce with cilantro and jalapenos.  It was delicious and a bit spicy, but might have overwhelmed the squid a little.

* grilled liver pate - everyone else thought this was too salty, but I liked it.  I like salt and grew up eating liverwurst, so that could be part of it.  Overall a good classic pate.

* cheese plate - unfortunately I couldn't hear what cheeses were on it, but there was a blue, I think a camembert and a cheddar.  The camembert and blue were easily my favorites, but that's pretty normal for me.  Everyone LOVED the honey that came along with the cheese, I didn't try it and have no idea why.

* Rabbit rillette - for me, this was overpowered by the liver pate that I had right afterwords.  It was good, but was blown away by the much stronger taste I of pate.  Wish I had slowed down and had the rillette with my muscadet.

I'm surprised I didn't get the oysters, and surprised I didn't get scotch for desert.  Instead I got a chocolate peanut butter concoction that looked like a giant Reeses' peanut butter cup.  It had peanut butter chunks instead, so it wasn't as consistently peanut buttery as I would have liked.  I'm not a sweet dessert person, so please don't take my word on this one.  The thing that I thought was most interesting was the scoop of curried vanilla ice cream that came on top. I'm going to have to make that at home, wish it had been more curried, but I'm a curry sucker and honestly if they had done that it could have overpowered the rest of the dessert.

All in all, my Silver Spring go-to still holds! Will return and eat more another day!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thanks Hannah!

You ever have one of those days where you're pretty sure you have strep throat so you spend all day at home on the couch, and if it doesn't involve lozenges and/or the internet, you're not doing it?

That was my day today, and it just took a really unexpected turn.

There I was, dicking around on the internet, trying to watch funny videos to pass the time between lozenges.

I started on Mental Floss (see previous post), because their videos are hilarious and I learn things. Double whammy! From there I went on to My Drunk Kitchen, because that's also one of my go-tos for quality You Tube humor.  I love drinking, and I love food, so it's pretty much a perfect combination.

And that's when it took a left.

It's not that I ever thought poorly of Hannah Hart, I've loved her videos, and it's not that I ever thought her dumb, not even remotely. I've always found her adorable and hilarious (I love puns too!).   It's just that I never thought about her beyond her My Drunk Kitchen videos.

That's really unfair.  I learned this by stumbling upon this:

Dang, Hannah.  Thanks for making me realize again that all humans are so deep and complex and *personal*.  It's one of those lessons that yoga is supposed to teach me but that I somehow have to learn time and time again.  Everyone is on their own journey.

Back in high school I was friends with all of the weirdos.  We were all super straight-laced kids who got really good grades and were involved in extra curricular activities like orchestra, band and theatre.  We were essentially a huge group of nerds who bonded through our mutual outcastness and became the first unconditionally supportive group of people I'd ever been around.  You'd think our parents would have been thrilled with the friend group we'd all chosen, but no.

Needless to say, a lot of my friends ended up coming out as gay.  I'd like to say this didn't bother me the first time it happened but due to my religious upbringing, it really did.  I got over it by the time high school ended, but I also got over a lot of religion as well, which is it's own story.

It's so nice to see the Internet coming together now and then.  I think we get too blindsided by hateful comments and slurs people call us on XBox.  The Internet can really be a force for good, it can really be a powerful message for life and hope.  It gets better.  No matter what closet you're stuck in, there is a group of people out there who support you and love you.  When young, people can now find like-minded people on the Internet when 20 years ago we all thought we were so alone.  We don't have to wait until adulthood to learn that we're OK and that this too shall pass.

Thanks Hannah, for taking my sick day and showing me again the beauty and patience and love this world has to offer.

sick at home

The best part of having the flu is sitting on the couch watching Mental Floss videos all day

Yup, these will eat up an afternoon, no problem!

Kit .. Bar???

Last Wednesday I went to get a haircut.  This sounds like a totally normal, boring event, and I assure you it is.  Because I'm a crazy person I drive 1.5 hours to get my hair cut.  It's because the salon is near where I used to live and I really like my stylist and it gives me pre-allocated time to listen to audiobooks.

Totally nuts or not, It ensures that I have some me-time every 4-8 weeks.

Given the fact that I gave up on going to several pumpkin beer festivals, this shows that I was looking particularly rough and really needed to get my hair fixed.

After doing so, I was quite hungry and slipped into the Stone's Cove Kitbar.  I had only been there once before, and I kinda liked it so I wanted to go back.

This place has a really interesting concept.  In the middle of the restaurant is the kitchen, and surrounding it are all of the seats.  A lot of it is bar seating (which I love), with little table-like peninsulas sticking off for larger parties.  When you sit and eat, you don't have one waiter, you just have the team of people working in the middle and any of them can get you something.  This seemed strange at first, but I totally love it.  I love being able to watch people prepare the food, to see everyone bustling around.  It's like dinner and show if you're a person who loves the service industry like I do.

As it turns out, Wednesdays are half-price wine night.  I said I didn't really want to sit down and drink an entire bottle of wine, but they said they could wrap up whatever I didn't finish.  Game on! I ended up getting a really great bottle for like $15.  Since I was in a white mood (I was hoping they had Muscadet, but they did not ... nowhere does, it's my curse), I ended up getting a bottle of Ricardo Santos' Semillon (I posted a picture on twitter that night).

It was a bit sweeter than I was expecting, so I counteracted that by ordering some spicy fish tacos.  I was expecting them to be salsa-spicy but instead they were more spice-rub spicy.  Not what I had planned, but it turned out perfect!  They serve their fish tacos on this interesting wavy plate to hold up all three tacos.  This is awesome because you can eat half of a taco and put it down without the whole thing becoming a disaster.

I want to go back and eat more.  They had these interesting cones that contained avocado and some form of seafood (lobster or tuna, I think).  Maybe next time I'll bring the boyfriend, leave him to get a few drinks and return later with nicer hair and we can split a bunch of appetizers.

The waiter said they were opening up several other locations, but unfortunately none of them are closer to me.  The whole place is cozy, with stone and wood decor.  It would fit perfectly in Denver.  If there was one closer I'd eat there all the time.

Competition in Annapolis

I love Annapolis and spend a *lot* of time down there.  I eventually want to move there and have these idyllic ideas in my head about how I'll ride my bike into downtown and pick up wine and cheese and pedal home.  It'll be amazing.  I'll have a porch.

Unfortunately that dream is several years away so I have to drive down to Annapolis hang out, have a blast, eat amazing food an then drive home.  I'll take what I can get.

One of my usual defaults in Annapolis is The Metropolitan.  It's a great little place, good beer selection and it's in the farm-to-table vein that I love so much.  In fact, during winter sailing season I'll stop by the Metropolitan most Sundays for a pre-race brunch.

The other weekend my friend Andrew wanted to celebrate his billionth second alive and since he lives in Annapolis we decided to eat down there.  I campaigned hard for the Metropolitan, but I was overruled.

We ended up going to Level, a small plates style restaurant just down the street.  Honestly, even though I felt like I was cheating on the Metropolitan, I was really excited to go.  I love small plates because it allows me to sample a TON of different foods, and I love places with a good cocktail program.

I also love eating dinner with my friends but because they're super into food also, we usually end up ordering what seems like the entire menu and sharing everything.

I browsed around on their website to see generally what I was going to get.  I had no idea except that I wanted a negroni as my first cocktail.  Their website is useful to get a general feel for the place, and I think there are several menu items that are standard.  The rest is fair game for changing due to seasons, farm availability, etc.  To me, this is a very good thing.

When we got there, the negroni was no longer on their menu, but I asked and they made one for me anyhow.  I know that it's a full bar and good bartenders can make me anything and I don't *have* to stick to their pre-described cocktail list, but the fact that they were instantly like "yeah, we can make you one of those" earned points in my book.

I've come to the realization that I need to start taking notes on what we order, but I didn't so here's a rough list of everything we got.

* Tuna tartar - This was amazing.  It wasn't ground into a paste like you'll see with a lot of tartars.  Instead it was more like large chunks of tuna sashimi.  Easily one of my favorite things I ate all night.  And it was SPICY, way more so than I was expecting, but I love spice.  My friend Brian, who is from Iowa was sweating bullets.  He agreed that it was delicious.

* Veal sweetbreads - These were on special and I can't turn down sweatbreads, that's what I ordered.  Nice, moist and juicy and lightly breaded.  All around fantastic.  I could have eaten a way larger plate.

* Tomato bisque and grilled cheese - These were also one of my favorites.  The tomato bisque was amazing! It was rich and creamy but still with a strong tomato taste, but not too acidic.  I wish I had ordered this and not Andrew so I would have been justified in wolfing down way more of it.

* Chorizo dip - who doesn't love chorizo and cheese?

* two flatbreads, Margherita and some sausage variety that I've forgotten the specifics on - I love their use of fresh mozzarella.  They should note on their menu that these flatbreads are not "small plates", and two people could easily split one for an entire meal.  Great dough, great cheese, so I didn't mind having too much of these.

* grilled calamari - I love how this was actual grilled squid, not the breaded and deep fried variety you find everywhere.  So great, nice and chewy (in a good way).

* bison and bacon sliders - great sliders.  I think my problem is that I only got half a slider.  It was good, but I think the person with the other half stole all my bacon.

* korean duck tacos - Also completely fantastic, I could have eaten a giant pile of these

* cuban pork spring rolls - Delicious, great dipping sauce

* scallops - always a favorite

I know we got more, but that's all I can remember so I'm assuming those were the best things we ate and therefore the best list to talk about.

Apparently Level has a special on Monday night where if you get a bottle of wine you can get a flatbread for $2.  This sounds like a great plan that the boyfriend and I will have to enact one of these weeks.

All in all, it was a great dinner, the service was fantastic and I'll definitely be back again soon!