Twitter

April 14, 2009 by

My job these days is picking up – so I’ve been Twittering about new DC food and restaurant news, and posting recipes. Follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com) @kissmygritz – and I’ll come back to Kiss My Grits the blog when I can give you consistant updates. Sign up for the RSS feed, and you’ll get an email when that happens.
Happy eating!

Swiss Chard au Gratin

February 16, 2009 by

It was a cookbook Christmas for me this year, and I’ve been working through some of the recipes.  I’ve been trying to eat a little healthier, and have found some surprisingly good recipes in my Weight Watchers cookbook, including this delicious, decedent, and only 1 POINT side: Swiss Chard au Gratin.

Swiss Chard is the showiest of the greens: bright red stalks that rib the leaves, and beautiful green leaves.  They have great nutritional benefits, and aren’t so scary that a spinach fan will balk at this colorful “green.”  When you buy them fresh (which I think is the only way to buy Swiss chard), the leaves are huge, so be prepared to do a little chopping. 

When I bought them from my local Whole Foods the first time, none of the tags actually said “Swiss chard.”  I think I may have bought red chard, but they’re all similar enough that you shouldn’t pass up one because it isn’t labeled “Swiss.”  Brian brought home a smaller-leaf variety when I made this dish for a dinner party, and it tasted just as delicious.

One large bunch is enough for a side dish of two large portions (Weight Watchers POINTS: 2).  Make sure you wash it well, rubbing the area in the grooves of the ribs.

While you’re preparing the chard, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and set a large pot of salted water to boil.

First, cut the ribs out of the leaves so that you’re left with a pile of leafy parts and ribs:

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Place the chard ribs into the boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes.  The water will turn red too, so don’t be creeped out. 

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While the stalks are boiling, cut down the leaves to more manageable pieces. 

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After the 5 minutes of stalk boiling are up, put the leaves into the same pot.  The chard will cook down fairly quickly, so you can add any overflow to the pot as room becomes available.

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While the chard is cooking, shred 1/3 cup of reduced-fat Jarlsberg cheese.  Jarlsberg basically tastes like a mild Swiss cheese (ooh…Swiss cheese and Swiss chard!  That might be dee-swiss-ious).  If you’re not concerned about POINTS value, add a bit more cheese.

When the Swiss chard is done boiling, drain it over the sink, and press dry with paper towels.  Layer the ingredients Swiss chard (stalks and leaves), 1/2 the Jarlsberg, and 1/2 a tablespoon of grated Parmesan, and sprinkle with ground pepper.  Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese and pepper.  Bake on the top rack in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly – about 20 minutes.

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This certainly doesn’t feel like diet food, is beautiful, and was a hit at a dinner party with a notoriously picky eater!

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Nutritional content for 1/4 serving of casserole: 50 Calories, 2 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 gram trans fat, 7 mg Cholesterol, 736 mg sodium, 3 grams Carbohydrate, 0 gram Fiber, 5 grams protein, 53 mg Calcium.

Blue Duck Tavern

February 9, 2009 by

My dad is hard to please when it comes to food.  Part of the problem is that he (like all of us in my family) finds pleasure in food more than most other activities.  When we talk about travel, we talk about what we ate.  When we talk about what we did for the weekend, we talk about what we ate.  And when Dad comes to visit, we plan where we’re going to eat.  We had a great dinner at Corduroy, a decent dinner at the now defunct 21P, and a bit of a disappointment at Brasserie Beck (which killed me because we had such an incredible meal the time before). 

There’s a lot of pressure to pick the right place, and with his wonderful girlfriend and her parents joining us for a holiday dinner out, we decided on our favorite restaurant in DC: Blue Duck Tavern.

Blue Duck Tavern

The setting:
Blue Duck is connected to the Park Hyatt in the West End, and the restaurant is reached through massive wooden front doors.  The foyer and lounge is sleek marble, with the tables and chairs looking like a Pennsylvania Dutch farmhouse.

As a party of 8, we were seated in an alcove of a room for privacy, away from the hustle of the open kitchen.  However, you have to walk through the edge of said kitchen to get to the restrooms – a move that’s strategic since they march you right by the heavenly apple pies.

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On this occasion, I asked if I could take a picture of the kitchen, and was jokingly told, “We’re going to have to confiscate your camera.”  Alison believed he server (Alexander – who we’ve had before – he’s fabulous) and protested that I had a little food blog and they couldn’t take my camera.  Instead, Alexander took me over to meet the chef

The service:
Servers at Blue Duck seem to have just the right balance of formality and familiarity.  They were responsive to our needs, and made excellent recommendations (and I should have listened to what our server was suggesting…)   I think the vignette above about taking pictures of the kitchen perfectly illustrates the type of service you’ll get at Blue Duck.

I also have to mention because it was so cool when it happened…when we were served our entrees, multiple servers brought the plates and served us from the right side at the same time – it felt very fancy and old school.

The food:
To me, what’s so great about the food at Blue Duck is that I recognize what it is and where it came from.  The menu lists the farmers who provide the food, and you have the feeling that what you’re eating is seasonal – an old fashioned “new” trend.

Since we were here in winter, it just seemed appropriate to eat meat that had been slow cooked.  I opted for the lamb shank, whereas the men in my life (Dad, Brian, and Matt – future brother-in-law) out ordered me with the short ribs.

Blue Duck Tavern by you.

Oh, those short ribs…to die for.  Really.  Warm, flavorful, comforting.  My lamb shank (above) was good, but the short rib (below) was better.

Blue Duck Tavern by you.

The sides are my favorite things at Blue Duck, and what side do you think is the best in my humble opinion?  You guessed it: the grits.  It is very rare to find a restaurant that does grits correctly.  I’ve been to many places in the south that don’t make them as well as my grandfather did (one, they were so wonderful…slow cooked over a double boiler with butter and salt…) and it’s usually laughable what passes for grits up here.  But Blue Duck makes them creamy and delicious – usually flavored by another ingredient in season.  We ordered two for the table to share, and none went to waste.

The duck fat fries are also excellent – triple cooked, one blanched in water, and the twice fried with duck fat – have a great outside crunch with a velvety interior – I just wish I could train my palate not to want ketchup with them!

Blue Duck Tavern by you.

Even though you might be stuffed from a decadent and heavy dinner, do not forgo dessert.  The “individual” (read: feeds 3) apple pie with hand churned ice cream is not to be missed.  It isn’t overly sweet, and you can really taste the freshness and wholesomeness of the apples.  Delicious.

Blue Duck Tavern by you.

Blue Duck Tavern is my favorite restaurant in DC for a reason, and it didn’t disappoint on this trip as a great spot for 3 generations at one table, and for impressing a hard to please foodie father…

Best for: Celebrating the little big ocassions -  a new job, a holiday, or 11-month anniversary.

Worst for: Watching your budget and waistline.

Roasted Veggies: Brussel Sprouts, Potatoes, and Broccoli

January 14, 2009 by
Especially when it’s cold (today: 27 outside), I think of roasted vegetables.  They’re  a staple side for me, and I’m always surprised when I tell people how to do it, and they tell me they didn’t know it was so easy!  (Lauren, I’m talking to you!)

There are 3 components for roasted vegetables in my world: a 400 degree oven, sea or kosher salt, and olive oil.  (Although these days I’m using olive oil cooking spray to save on calories – with mixed results detailed below.) 

The basic instructions are the same:

  • cut your veggies to 1-bite sized pieces
  • toss in just enough olive oil to coat lightly
  • sprinkle liberally with sea or kosher salt
  • spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, taking out halfway through to toss so that your veggies brown evenly.

Easy.  Simple.  Delicious.  Healthy.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
I heart Brussel sprouts.  I would eat them 5 times a week.  Yes, they get a bad rap, but I think it’s mainly because they are a little stinky when you boil them.   My Aunt Liz (and sisters) make their Brussel sprouts sauteed in a pan with a little brown butter and pancetta/bacon, topped with Parmesan.  Yum-o!  I, however, take the easiest route and roast them: wash and cut in half length-wise, plop on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil spray (works great on them!), sprinkle with salt, press Bake and Start.  (And that last direction, by the way, was the extent of my father’s cooking instruction to us: you press Bake and Start.  He’s an awesome cook.)

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I cook mine for about 55 minutes because I like them pretty crispy.  You can check for doneness at about 40 minutes or so if you like them a little more green.

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Incidentally, don’t overload your baking sheet so much that it buckles, causing all your sprouts to fall off and land on the floor of your 400 degree oven.  It’s not pretty, and the smell of burning olive oil and Brussel sprouts isn’t fun for anyone and does not make you look like a great cook in front of future in-laws. 

Roasted Potatoes
The great thing about roasted potatoes is that you can fool a 9-year-old into thinking they’re homemade french fries.  And said fooled 9-year-old can get in a serving of vegetables without knowing it.  Mix white potatoes (I like using red potatoes) with a sweet potato and you can even add beta carotene to your meal, putting you in the running for Mother of the Year.

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These work just fine with the olive oil spray too!

Roasted Broccoli
I have a confession: I don’t like broccoli.  If you serve it to me steamed, it’s getting the one obligatory bite and then headed to the le garbage.  Boiled?  Blech.  But roasted?  Hmmm…I’ll have seconds!

For roasted broccoli you really need to toss it in olive oil, and not use the spray.  Put all of your little florets in a large plastic ziplock bag, use about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, zip and shake!  (And I helped) 

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Any of these are great and easy for a side dish – play with adding Old Bay or Tony Chachere’s to your potatoes, explore the world of Brussel sprouts as an adult, and go back for seconds on broccoli – who knew it was so easy?!

The Source

January 10, 2009 by

What better first restaurant post of the new year than to write about the RAMMY New Restaurant of the Year for 2008?

Wolfgang Puck’s The Source

The setting:
Attached to the Newseum, I expected a setting with a theme relating in some way to news.  Instead we couldn’t tell the restaurant was connected to a museum.  The downstairs consists of long, high communal tables, with a bar dominating most of the area I saw when we came in.  We were seated upstairs in low banquet/chair seating, enclosed in an area made more cozy by blocking off sections with thick glass panels.  The effect broke up what could be a monster space, and also helped with the noise level.  (Except when you’re seated next to a table of 8 SCREAMING women who thought everything that anyone said was the. funniest. thing. ever. and proceeded to do the women en masse squeal.  To everything.  For the amount of money you’re paying to eat at The Source – about $150 for 2 people sans wine and tip – I would like the other patrons to hush and be respectful of other patrons.  Luckily, the waitstaff eventually asked them politely to be quiet).

© 2002, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc.

© 2002, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc.

The service:
Our service was great – our waiter had just the right mix of formality and familiarity to make for a very positive experience.  The staff wished Brian a happy birthday – I had noted it in my OpenTable reservation - and bent over backwards to get me a copy of my receipt after I left it at the table.  (As a good to know tidbit: your receipt is good for 15% off Newseum tickets on Mondays or Tuesdays).

The food:
The Source serves Asian-inspired cuisine, but not so overtly that you don’t recognize most of the ingredients.  The amuse bouche was several bites, and may have been our favorite dish of the night: simply dressed and slightly spicy green beans.  Delicious.  The appetizers were also big winners, with a duo of crab consisting of a crab salad and a small crab cake, and tuna tartare “cones” - served in a sesame and miso cone with raw tuna, roe, and microgreens.  It was a close second of best dish of the night, and the presentation was fantastic.

For dinner I went with venison served with Brussel sprouts and a Japanese squash blossom puree that was, in my mind, just about perfect.  Venison is very tricky to get right…it has such a low fat content that it needs to be served rare or medium rare at the most, and most times I have it, it’s been either over or under cooked.  At The Source, my meal seemed like it had been kept on the pan about 20 seconds too long on just one side, but was still really fantastic.  The squash blossom puree added a perfect sweetness, and the Brussel sprouts balanced the dish.  I would have a hard time ordering anything else from the menu, I enjoyed this so much.

Brian was slightly disappointed in his scallops.  He claims I’ve spoiled him, and I agree that his dinner needed more spice.  The Drunken Noodles accompaniment was great, though, and the presentation was very cool as well.

We rounded out the meal with a blueberry and almond crumble that looked and tasted like a fancy coffee cake.  It was served with a ginger ice cream to carry on the Asian theme, but I thought good old-fashioned vanilla would have been better.

With the hefty price tag, the dining room at The Source isn’t somewhere we’ll frequent on a regular basis, but I’ll be back for the tuna tartare cones and pork belly dumplings in the affordable lounge.

Best for: A special evening out.

Worst for: Penny pinchers – hit up the lounge to get a taste of the good stuff at a fraction of the cost!

Herb and Parmesan Crusted Pork

January 7, 2009 by

Most of the time, I want food that is warm and filling: comfort food.  And sometimes it’s hard to find comfort food that doesn’t take all day to prepare (have you ever made fried chicken?  All. Day.) and is moderately healthy.  Enter the other white meat: pork.  When eaten as a chop (get the boneless chop, butterflied if you aren’t a big meat eater, and split it apart so it gives you 2 thin chops) and trimmed of the side of fat, it’s lean and delicious.

I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this on Everyday Italian (and may I just take a moment to say that I heart Giada…the woman who showed me that Italian food is not just pasta and red sauce) and it has become one of my “signature” dishes.  I like it because it’s easy but impressive for guests (I have a good friend who is a restaurant manager and asked me for the recipe because he liked it so much),  relatively cheap to make, and DELICIOUS!  What more could you want?

Herb and Parmesan Crusted Pork

Ingredients:

  • Pork chops, boneless.  I trim the fat off the side to make it healthier and so you don’t get that wad of gristle.  Because, gross.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese.  You don’t have to get fancy – the stuff in the green plastic can will work best, actually.
  • Italian breadcrumbs.  Natch.
  • 1 egg, beaten.  My health and time trick?  Egg Beaters.  Use them, they’re awesome.
  • Olive oil and vegetable oil.  You’ll be combining these in the pan to cook the pork.  Olive oil alone will “burn off” faster, so the veggie oil offsets this and keeps the smoke alarm from going off.  I learned this the hard way.  You’ll need quite a bit of oil – if you’re trying to use your last tablespoon, it ain’t gonna cut it.

First things first: heat that pan!  Combine your 2 oils until its completely covering the bottom of the pan in a thick layer.  Heat the pan to medium-high.  When the oil starts to look really liquidy/glassy, it’s ready.

I like to get everything lined up assembly line style: pork on one plate, egg in a shallow bowl, and the Parmesan and breadcrumbs combined in a 1/3 Parm, 2/3 breadcrumb ratio mixture.  This isn’t an exact science, so you’ve got plenty of room to fudge and it’ll still taste great! 

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Prepare your pork by dipping it first in the egg to coat, then into the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture, turning to coat evenly.

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When the oil is hot, place the chops in the pan.  Be careful!  The oil is hot, and this sucker is going to splatter while it cooks.  Have tongs at the ready.  Cook on the first side about 5 minutes for a thick chop, about 3-4 minutes for half of a butterflied chop.  Carefully flip and cook for another 5 minutes or so.  You want the color to be a darkish brown – this isn’t going to brown up light and lovely.  I also will turn thicker chops on each side (the skinny side so it stands up like a book – you may have to hold it there with the tongs) to make sure the chop is cooked through.

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You may need to add more oil to your pan as your cooking.  You’ll know if the oil gets too low because the pan will start smoking like nutso.  Keep your stove top fan on high the whole time you’re cooking this dish and just be ready for it.

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Incidentally, I find that this is one of those great dishes to prepare with a glass of red wine in one hand while you’re watching the stove.  This is less than 30 minutes from start to finish, so just the right amount of time to enjoy a glass of vino.

I like to serve this with Brussel sprouts, roasted potatoes, wilted spinach, or a Parmesan cous cous.  Enjoy!

Corduroy

November 14, 2008 by

It was a favorite of mine in its old space, but this is my first time back since Corduroy moved to their new digs.

Corduroy

The setting:
I think we drove by it- running late, of course – at least 3 times before we spotted the row house with lighted porch lamps and a non-descript sign.  The area of town isn’t exactly what you’d expect for fine dining, but Corduroy is getting into a neighborhood early in its revival.  The new space is calming – almost a little too white and non-descript.  We were hoping for a table in the front by the window, but found ourselves in the back dining room.  It’s also very, very quiet in the restaurant, but not so quiet that we were able to tell what the canoodling couple 2 tables away was canoodling about so passionately.  (More on these two later…)

The service:
Virtually perfect service.  Really.  The host who greeted us was also our server, and displayed the perfect balance between familiarity and courtesy.  We were the last table to finish our meal, and in that time we joked that we wished we knew what was so engaging to the couple who was hugging (like, a passionate embrace hugging) across the table.  So our server found out: he went to the kitchen and found their server, who relayed that the man was divorced and her father was having a fit that his princess was involved with a divorced man.  However, said their server, the man paid with a black AMEX, so maybe the father could forgive his past relationship.

This was all done in a very conspiratorial tone, and wasn’t said maliciously.  And it made for great fun.

The food:
Chef Tom Power is my kinda cooker: keep it simple and let the food taste the way it’s supposed to taste without making a fuss. 

Brian and I originally planned to order exactly the same thing: lobster carpaccio to start followed by buffalo.  Our server suggested perhaps we order another appetizer and split them, so I wound up with a simple tomato salad and Brian stuck with the lobster.

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The sauce you can see in the picture of the lobster is actually BUTTER.  Ah, delicious, creamy butter…one of foods more perfect creations.  (Also, see Bacon.)  It was decadent and rich: I could only eat one or two bites, but Brian declared he could eat plate after plate without ever becoming full.  The tomato salad was a perfect starter for me with the basil aioli ringing the plate.  The tomatoes were skinless – perhaps through a quick blanching process?

The buffalo entree was rich and flavorful, but my favorite part of this dish was the excellent potato side, with mandolined spud layers set off by sweet onion and a light cheese.  It was gratin in such a delicate and elegant presentation.

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For dessert we were finally caught snapping pictures.  “I’d better not see that on the internet” joked our server.  At least…I hope he was joking!  Whoops!  Brian went with the famous “kit kat” bar – a hazelnut and chocolate bar surrounded by a vanilla bean cream anglaise, while I sampled a local apple tarte tatin, which Brian found not sweet enough.

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The dinner – our 2nd year anniversary – was wonderful.

Best for: Canoodling couples with a story that isn’t too scandalous and people who like clean, unfussy food.

Worst for: Couples having an affair and people who savor sauces.

Oyamel – Day of the Dead

November 1, 2008 by

If you aren’t familiar with traditional Mexican food – and the holiday Day of the Dead, you might be surprised by what you find at the Penn Quarter hot-spot.

Oyamel

The setting:
I was at Oyamel the week of Halloween, and at first glance it appears as though this restaurant has gone overboard with decorations: skeletons wearing traditional Mexican prints, candles that have been burned to allow all the wax to drip and create something akin to an altar, a bathroom decorated with tarot card-looking figures.  But it pays homage to the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead.  The space still has that terra cotta color palate associated with Mexican restaurants, but there are also cool wire mobile and festive carnival flags hanging from the ceiling in the multi-tiered eatery.

The service:
Our waitress was very deliberate in pronouncing every dish in authentic-sounding Spanish, but she wasn’t so great at telling us what was in something or being able to put the name of a dish to what we were describing (even though she has worked there forever).  She also told me the drink I ordered – mango puree with tequila and infused with chili oil – wasn’t very spicy.  Um, it was basically like drinking Tabasco.  She had to make two orders of guacamole for our table, so I’ll forgive her for letting the chips run low: the ultimate Mexican restaurant faux-pas.

The food:
There are no fajitas on the menu here, and you’d be disappointed if Taco Bell is the picture that forms in your mind when you hear the word “taco.”  Instead, Oyamel prides itself on serving traditional Mexican food – and evidently that includes grasshoppers.

Oh, yes.  I did.

But first!  Guacamole!  Your server will make it fresh table-side, ranging from a little too mild (no more than avocados and tomatillos) to red-oniony spicy.  At our end of the table, we enjoyed the mild version, made even better by mixing a little of the salsa with it.

   

Oyamel serves food tapas-style, so I ordered 4 dishes to sample:

The Queso fundido con tequila is basically cheese with tequila on top that they light on fire. Yeah, buddy! I’d recommend sharing this because even the cheese-lovers who walk among us may find it to be a bit too much cheese for them. Also, if your server has brought you enough chips, the cheese is really better on them than the tortillas served with the cheese.

The Sopes de frijol con hoja de aguacate was really fantastic – four discs made from corn, topped with cheese and beans, and evidently avocado leaves (somehow I missed that part when I was eating them). But don’t eat these if you’ve recently had dental work – they’re a bit…hard.

The carnitas taco was just a teaser.

And then, the coup de grâce: grasshopper tacos. Yes, they were really grasshoppers. Yes, I really ate them. No, I probably won’t again. I’ll let the pictures speak for me:

     

Catch your breath, people…this is considered a delicacy in Oaxaca. To report, they were crunchy (“that’s the exoskeleton” observed our astute server) and a bit tasteless, and I later picked a grasshopper leg from between my teeth. Call before you go if you want to try them because – according to our server – they “have peculiar mating habits” and aren’t always available.

Eww…

Best for: Adventurous eaters who can’t afford a a trip south of the border with these airfare prices.

Worst for: The squeamish. You know who you are.

Let Them Eat Cake! Hello Cupcake vs. Georgetown Cupcake

October 20, 2008 by

And the winner is…

I’m not going to tell you that quickly!  One thing is for sure: I love cupcakes, and having Hello Cupcake within walking distance to work and Georgetown Cupcake within (a long) walking distance to my apartment isn’t good for my svelte figure!

Hello Cupcake vs. Georgetown Cupcake

The Setting:
I had read all about Hello Cupcake on my favorite food blog, Apples and Bananas, when Bananas did an interview with Ms. Hello Cupcake before they opened.  The place is decorated by her architect husband with an eye towards eco-chic.  I’m not so much a fan of the faux-grain wood motif, and the frosting wave patterned cupcake counter was lost on me.  But I do love the “Murano” glass chandeliers and being able to sit and eat my sugary treat.

Georgetown cupcake is much smaller and doesn’t lend itself to hanging out.  The line is often out the door and down the street, but when you get inside it looks exactly like you want a cupcake shop to look: white and pink with a dainty dollhouse table and gorgeous flower arrangements.  The cupcakes are stacked so beautifully on cake platters, and it made me want to sample more because they all looked that much more pleasing.  And the smell…pure frosting and butter!

Hello Cupcake: 0
Georgetown Cupcake: 1

The Service:
I’ve seen Ms. Hello Cupcake front and center every time I’ve been in or walked by – it’s clear she’s running the place.  Her employees aren’t quite as sugary sweet and enthusiastic, but what do you expect when the boss keeps telling you to not put the cupcakes in a box automatically, and the customer gets irritated.  I have to admit I didn’t notice last time I was there if they were still trying to get away with putting the cupcakes in a paper bag.  They did try to sell me a $3 “cupcake holder.”  Thanks, but no thanks…

Georgetown Cupcake is a high school drama kid’s dream job.  Sweet, eager, and totally silly in a way that makes me SO glad I am no longer that sweet, eager, and totally silly drama kid I was.  When I asked which cupcake they recommended, they gushed, “OMGTHEY’REALLSOGOODICOULDN’TPICKJUSTONE!!!”  And then when I ordered, “OMGTHATISTOTALYLMYFAVORITEIFREAKIN’LOVEIT!” 

But they were sweet.  And eager.  And for that, I award points, bringing us to:

Hello Cupcake: 0
Georgetown Cupcake: 2

The Food, AKA: Cupcakes:
I’ve had more from Hello Cupcake than Georgetown Cupcake just because of it’s proximity to work and the Friday doldrums.  I’ve sampled the Prima Donna, You Tart!, Peanut Butter Blossom, Heart of Darkness, and Triple Coconut.  By and large, the cake ain’t great.  It’s a little dry and flavorless – how is it that Betty Crocker cake mix is so much better than a $3 cupcake?  I’ll take BC Devil’s Food Cake any day over a Heart of Darkness.  What’s great about Hello Cupcake’s creations, though, are the frostings.  The strawberry cream cheese frosting on the Prima Donna was just meh, and I thought the Peanut Butter frosting was a little too good-for-you peanutty.  But the lemon goodness that tops You Tart!?  And the fantastic doesn’t-taste-like-a-Mounds Triple Coconut with the toasted coconut bits?  YUM!  And my co-worker literally licked her fingers clean of the chocolate ganache frosting on the Heart of Darkness.

My favorites, in order: Triple Coconut, You Tart!, Heart of Darkness, Prima Donna, and then the Peanut Butter Blossom.

Georgetown Cupcake is a hair cheaper than Hello Cupcake – $2.75 at Georgetown Cupcake.  The strawberry banana cupcake I had was basically like eating a slice of banana bread with Philadelphia Strawberry Cream Cheese on top.  The cake was a little dry, and the frosting heavier than Hello Cupcake.  But there are more traditional flavors at Georgetown Cupcake, so the purist in you will be happy.  (Hello Cupcake, by the way, has a Maya Favorite cupcake - chili-infused and topped with red pepper flakes.  My friend Megan said you could feel the heat in your throat – not your mouth).  Georgetown Cupcakes also sport girlier toppings – they’re just screaming to be served at a bridal or baby shower.

 

This past week I ordered another half dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, making it  a tie with Hello Cupcake.  Georgetown Cupcake’s cake is moist – maybe too moist - and the frosting is still too cream-cheesy and heavy.  Brian, however, likes them better. 

I think if Hello Cupcake and Georgetown Cupcake had a little cupcake baby, it would be nearly perfect!

This tie in the last category brings the total to:
Hello Cupcake: 1
Georgetown Cupcake: 3

The bottom line is that cupcakes make people happy.  You should eat them, whether they come from a Betty Crocker box at $6/dozen, or a little cupcake shop for the same price as a full meal.  Enjoy, and don’t tell your dentist.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

September 24, 2008 by

My friend Megan brought this mac and cheese over for a football party.  She found it on Recipe Zaar and tweaked it by adding Gouda cheese, mustard powder, and garlic powder.  It was OMG good.  Just don’t look at the nutritional content…

Fannie Farmer’s Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
From the 1946 edition of “Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook”

Serves 4:
1 (8 ounce) package macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gouda
1/2 cup buttered breadcrumbs (we just used the Italian-style, although Megan and I agreed it would be AWESOME with panko breadcrumbs)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan melt butter.
  4. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, and a generous pinch of garlic and mustard powders.  Using a whisk, stir until well blended.
  5. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly).
  6. Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.
  7. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
  8. Turn off the burner.  Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.
  9. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

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