Saturday, July 23, 2011

I swear I don't have a hangover

For lunch, I had tater tots with crema salvadorena and low-calorie grape Gatorade.

I feel like I've posted too many elaborate and healthy things lately. This is just a friendly reminder that yes, sometimes I do eat weird, unhealthy stuff too. I'm not hung over, just low on groceries. I looked in the freezer for sustenance, and decided greasy potato chunks might be tasty. They were ok.

I rarely eat this stuff (the tots are really Jon's- he kind of loves them), and the flavors reminded me why- they just taste fake. The G2 Gatorade was slightly better. It was purchased for our anticipated 8-mile (Jon) or however-far-I-can-run-without-dying-mile (me) run, but it was 86 degrees at 7am, so we canceled that. The laziness was a good call, as apparently there was a heat-related cardiac arrest in the park this morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saturated Fat at Home

For breakfast, I had bacon and eggs. With coffee. This never happens.

Why? I'm actually not a huge fan of bacon. And I despise eggs, with the occasional brief, tentative foray into thinking maybe I might sort of like them. There's also something about packaged bacon I find irrationally repellent- the slime layer of saturated fat on the packaging, that then transfers to my hands and never comes off; the odd, synthetic aroma of uncooked bacon in plastic. And, invariably, there's leftovers, which are even worse.

Alas, I had leftovers. The bacon originated from Tuesday's stuffed dates adventure. It wasn't really that the leftovers were mocking me, or that I wanted bacon, so much as I wanted to re-season my cast-iron skillet. Bacon is absolutely magical for that.

The result was pretty decent- I like my bacon super-crispy, almost burned, and I was able to accomplish that well with the skillet. The egg was, well, an egg (ick), but some salt and chives made it tolerable.

The coffee was luckily delicious.

I am a little obsessed with Qualia. But their coffee is that good. Today, I actually finished off the Sidamo beans we'd had lying around for about three weeks (and were thus not "fresh" anymore, by Qualia's use-within-two-weeks standard). The coffee was still extremely tasty, with gorgeously complex chocolate/fruity flavors. Oddly, I had the Sidamo last time we drank coffee in-house, prepared with their pour-over method, and Jon had the Guatemala. I find the Sidamo doesn't taste great that way, but is perfect in my coffeemaker at home, whereas the Guatemala was in-house and just ok in my coffeemaker. Because the beans are so freshly roasted, the flavors change a little from day to day, so I'll be curious to see how the Guate tastes over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pollo Pibil at Home

For dinner, we had pollo pibil, with jicama salad and stuffed dates. Oh, and some pricey whole wheat sourdough from Whole Paycheck I bought the other day completely by accident (it was mixed in with the cheap baguettes).

I'm slowly easing my way into Rick Bayless' world of terrifyingly complicated, anthropologically correct Mexican food. Now that I'm cool with a simple tomatillo sauce, I decided to branch out into the Yucatecan-style rubs.

Lessons learned? When Rick Bayless notes achiote seeds (aka annatto) are impossibly difficult to grind, believe him. I accidentally dropped and broke my metate, and was afraid all the bashing would break my molcajete as well.(By the way, I just found this article about molcajetes and seasoning them, and it is awesome.)

I'd never worked with achiote before, and was also surprised to note the scent. Despite what Wikipedia says, it's more like a light, complex lemon aroma than a peppery/nutmeg thing. I didn't find them to have much flavor, just aroma.

The rub was relatively quick to make, and made the house smell fabulous. If I'd felt like more work, grilling would have been the perfect cooking solution. The actual recipe recommends wrapping in banana leaves and steaming; instead, I poured the remaining marinade over the chicken thighs and baked them. They turned out delicious, but would have benefited from more sauce. More delicious, aromatic, garlicky sauce.

To accompany, I made a loose version of Bayless' jicama salad with bitter orange juice, red onion, chilis, and cilantro. It's refreshing and a great example of the magic of powdered chilis. I added cucumber instead of the recommended canteloupe, but next time I want to try mango.

Finally, the dates. It was sort of a crazy idea, based on Penelope Casas' recipe and my experiences with the gorgeous dátiles from Modesto. Unfortunately, despite living in Arlibamba, surrounded by Latino grocery stores, no one sells membrillo. And damn if I'm going to spend $8 on a tiny little tub of artisanal quince paste from Whole Foods. So I merely stuffed them with manchego, wrapped them in bacon, and broiled away. They turned out well, but we definitely missed the membrillo.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

DC Food Roundup, in which I almost barf.

I ate a ton of interesting food in the last few weeks.

To recap:

For the weekend of the 4th, we went to The Passenger, a pretty fabulous cocktail bar. They roasted an entire pig, served with delicious potato salad, coleslaw, beans, and chips, for the occasion. I also had a perfect rye old fashioned to drink. My photos are kind of sad, because the interesting former-theater-turned-pretend-railcar venue was on the dark side. But it was amazing.

I got a random extreme mussel craving, so made some mussels in a fennel sauce, with a side of ravioli and a glass of white wine. Fennel is delicious, but it was a bit odd with the mussels. I wasn't a huge fan, even though there are plenty of mussel and fennel recipes out there (ie, it wasn't a crazy Gen idea).

Perhaps most noteworthy, I discovered a food that makes me want to barf. I don't think this has happened in the history of What Gen Ate- I'll try almost anything, and I don't *hate* any of it. Even McDonald's didn't faze me. Steamer clams, however, apparently do.

I'm not an East Coast girl, and mussels are a lot cheaper out west, so I'm much more familiar with those bivalves. I'd had deep-friend clam strips before, and steamed Cherrystones, once. So I thought clams were much smaller, and chewier. Which is what persuaded me to order a whole bucket of them in Annapolis.

Turns out, they have huge squishy insides that remind me exactly of a soft-boiled egg yolk. Did I mention I don't like eggs? And Jon does not eat bivalves, period. So I found myself trying in vain to choke down an entire bucket- we're talking close to thirty- of these huge bastards. As repulsive as peeling skin off the siphons was, at least they were chewy and bland. I eventually gave up and focused only on the siphons, and succeeded in not vomiting.

Ok, that was gross. Let's end on a happy note.

We also finally checked out Port City Brewing in Alexandria, which is awesome. Seriously, they've been open for less than six months, and their beer is perfect. Especially their pale ale (Jon's pick; great session beer) and their IPA (my pick) are fabulous. I highly recommend their beers- get a growler at their facility and go on a tour to check out their hop cannon, or find it at Whole Foods in NoVa, among other places.

This is Bill Butcher, PC's founder (who gives the tours sometimes- how cool is that?) with the hop cannon, a brilliant invention of theirs to dry hop without oxidation.