Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Food Adventures

Today for breakfast, I had iced coffee and a guava bar from Inversion Coffee.

I've been on a search this summer for the best iced coffee in Houston, and Inversion has tied for first with Dirk's. Dirk's is the Dietrich's across from the University of St.Thomas, inexplicably re-branded, and which some internet sources claim is a front for Starbuck's...which puzzles me, because Starbuck's iced coffee is beyond awful.

But I digress. Both shops have excellent iced coffee; Dirk's is incredibly mild, with chocolate/caramel flavors, while Inversion's is more acidic and robust. They tie because their coffees are both excellent, but completely different.

I also like Inversion for their guava bars- buttery cake-like bars with a quarter-inch thick layer of guava paste sandwiched in the middle. They're unique, and delicious.

So, where have I been?
Vacationing in rural New England and Washington, DC.

This is the lobster shack we visited, it's just past Two Lights State Park outside of Portland, ME. Sorry for the photo wonkiness, that's what happens when you drop your camera in the sand at the beach. It has since recovered.

I had a lobster roll plate for about $15, which consisted of lobster chunks on the typical split-top roll (for anatomy of a lobster roll, this site is a good primer), with a side of fries and coleslaw, and a strange, jam-filled cookie for dessert. It was good, and the view was awesome:

Another delicious meal of note was from Jonathon's Seafood Restaurant in North Conway, NH. I had the baked scallops lunch, which came with a nice salad, for about $10. The scallops were cooked perfectly, not at all dry or tough, and drowned in butter. So yummy. Jonathon's is a nondescript local place my NH family visits regularly; apparently, it was just sold to a new owner, but the food has gotten better, not worse. The waitstaff were all very sweet (despite the glass of water that ended up in my lap...), and the fish counter they run on the side looked delicious and inexpensive. I'd go back in a second.

My time in DC was more frenetic. I was looking for an apartment, thinking we'd move there for Jon's grad school, but we've since decided on school in St. Louis, so the whole thing was moot. I didn't have time to seek out interesting food, but I managed to eat some delicious things anyway.

I stayed with some friends in DC who have recently become vegetarian; their cooking is always interesting and delicious, influenced by the years they lived in Hungary. My dinner with them consisted of red sweet peppers and jalapenos, stuffed with kasha, brown rice, and a variety of seasonings, with a side of veggies and some red wine (maybe a garnacha?) from Spain's Rioja region. It was the perfect light summery dinner. I'm skeptical of most vegetarians (only because most use it as an excuse to load up on simple carbs, to cover up an eating disorder, or both), but this meal reflected the potential vegetarianism holds for people who know how to cook and know what they're doing. Well played, Stephanie.

My other interesting DC meal was Ethiopian food from Meskerem, in Adams-Morgan. I had missed Ethiopian food fiercely since leaving Denver last year. There is supposedly one Ethiopian place here in Houston, but we haven't been, and the menu sounds more soul food-ish than truly Ethiopian.

My friend and I debated going to Zed's in Georgetown instead, but reviews were mixed and this place sounded more our style. Definitely made the right choice- the atmosphere was far less stuffy, the food was perfect, and it was much cheaper than Zed's. We first ordered a bottle of honey wine and beef- and chicken-filled sambusas, which I'd never had before and sort of resembled samosas. They oozed grease, but in the best possible sense. The honey wine was also a new experience- I'd ordered it in Denver and truly hated it. The wine there always tastes vinegary and overly sweet, though I have no idea where it is from, or why it tastes so awful. This wine was produced in California in the style of Ethiopian honey wine, and was much, much better- semi-dry, with a light, lingering honey flavor, and reasonably priced at $22/bottle.

Our entrees were kitfo and special tibs. We ordered the kitfo raw, which was spicy and incredibly delicious. Just thinking about it gives me a massive kitfo craving; I'd had it before, but it was never anywhere near this amazing. The tibs were a little disappointing- my usual Ethiopian order is key wot, and Jon usually gets the special tibs. I wanted to try something different from what I usually get, so I settled on the tibs. They were tough and bland, and reminded me why I usually don't get them.

Last night, we finally ate at Feast here in Houston. I'm still pondering that experience, but will post on it in a few days.