Archive for April, 2008

The Majestic Cafe

April 26, 2008

Kate and I went out for a weekend lunch – which we try to do once a month or so. I last saw her the day after Brian left, and he’s coming home today! We went down to Alexandria to check out the Torpedo Factory and eat at the Majestic Cafe.

Majestic Cafe

The setting:
The Majestic is a great little bistro setting, bright with sunlight (skylights? windows? I didn’t notice) and slick black chairs and black and white checkerboard floors. There are only two bathrooms for the whole place though, so don’t wait until you just can’t wait anymore!

The service:
Our server was nice, although seemed a little nervous. Probably just because Kate and I are such sexy women 😉 He forgot one of the cheeses in the special cheese ravioli, and described the lunch special sandwich (which we both ordered) as having avocado, bacon, mayo, on the chicken sandwich (with lettuce and tomato). Umm…nope! But it was still great!

The food:
The majestic has a lunch menu instead of brunch. Still, the promise of a bacon, avocado, and chicken sandwich met my requirement for pig in the morning (although I’d already had a Starbucks sausage breakfast sandwich because I wasn’t sure any pork product would be part of lunch) and the “homemade bread” bookends cemented my decision. Instead, the sliced chicken sandwich came with only tomato and micro greens on buttered, grilled bread. However, I have to say it was maybe the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had – clearly making a sandwich with roast chicken (with skin!) makes all the difference in the world, and the on-the-thin-side slices of bread were perfect and really, really tasty. It was savory and salty, but the micro greens gave just enough healthy green taste. The sandwich was also served with swoon-worthy, house-made potato chips and a not-so-great-because-I-like-em-out-of-the-jar pickle.

Also, a word of caution for the iced tea purists out there: it was brewed with some fancy flavored tea and cost $3. Southerners beware…

Overall, I think this is a great stop for a weekend lunch and I’d love to go back for their Sunday family dinner (May looks HEAVENLY) or another night to try what I’m sure will be some great food!

Best for: Delicious food in a great area of town.

Worst for: Those seeking a weekend brunch.




Crispy Shrimp with White Beans and Spinach

April 17, 2008

Day two of my seafood experiment was even easier than the sea scallops, and perfect for an evening watching reality TV. It was an incredible cheap and healthy meal – and the beans were a perfect leftover for a salmon cake lunch at work today.

This is another take on a Real Simple recipe – quick, easy, healthy. And it tastes pretty great too.

Crispy Shrimp with White Beans and Spinach:

I probably should have said in my last post that I cook with 4 ingredients: olive oil, butter, sea salt, and panko breadcrumbs. The crunch is awesome – I’m all about texture.

Preheat the oven to 400. Toss the shrimp (I had 10 medium sized shrimp, purchased at the seafood counter as a “small handful” of peeled and deviened previously frozen shrimp – it came to less than $2) in a decent pour of olive oil. Add enough panko to coat, plus a little extra. Salt and pepper, and toss it all together (be ready to get your hands dirty!) Spread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle whatever breadcrumbs are left over the top. Cook these for about 12 minutes until they are browned.

In the mean time, heat a can of cannellini beans and heat a separate skillet with a small drizzle of olive oil over medium-low heat. Put more baby spinach (I like Earthbound Farms organic) than you think you need in the heated skillet and as it starts wilting, move around in the pan with tongs. When it’s all wilted and dark green, sprinkle on a dab of – you guessed it – sea salt and remove from heat. This whole process takes about 5 minutes, so your beans should be heated through and your shrimp about ready.


Sea Scallops, Portobellos, and Asparagus

April 16, 2008

With Brian out of town, I’ve been cooking more at home (hence the recent lack of posts!) and am testing out some new recipes, sticking to the edges of the grocery store aisles for healthier eating. Plus, the wine is on the outside aisles…

This week is a seafood week, and I’m taking a cue from a recent Real Simple article giving a guide for which seafood to eat and how often. Last night I was surprised to see how easy cooking sea scallops was!

It’s important to note that I cook with three ingredients in every meal: olive oil, butter, and sea salt. You keep the flavor excellent and rich, and it makes eating healthy not TOO healthy. Cook in the order listed below and everything will come out ready at the same time – and only take 15 minutes!

Heat the oven to 375. Wash and snap your asparagus (hold the stalk near the middle and also at the end and bend until it snaps off at the bottom) and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and shake on some sea salt. Place in the over for 15 minutes while you finish the rest of the meal.
(I would just like to take this point to mention that Brian is one out of 60% of people who is unable to smell asparagus pee…I can smell it a mile away)

Portobello Mushrooms:
Heat a skillet to medium-low and add 2-3 cuts of butter. Turn the pan as the butter melts to coat, and add the mushrooms in a single layer. Let the mushrooms cook, adding a few small cuts of butter if the pans begins to dry. Add a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce as you like, and begin on the scallops.

Sea Scallops:
2 wild-caught sea scallops (only $3 or so! Don’t let the price per pound dissuade you!)
Using a heavy skillet (your small one is perfect if you’re just cooking two), begin heating the skillet with nothing in it over medium-high. About 1 minute into the heating process, add olive oil and 2-3 cuts of butter. This should be enough to more than coat the pan. When the butter is melted in the oil and bubbling, add the sea scallops and salt the top of the scallop. Turn on your vent fan because this sucker will start smoking about 3 minutes in (only way to avoid this is to put it in the oven – olive oil and butter have low smoke points, so when you’re cooking on high heat you can just expect smoking). After about 2-3 minutes, flip the scallop and cook another 2-3 minutes. The outside of the scallops will be browned perfectly – and you can turn another time or two to cook the scallop through.


Jolly Olde England

April 7, 2008

Brian is in London through April, and when a great fare popped up, we took advantage of it and I visited him there this weekend. As always, food played a big part in our travels.

Afternoon Tea at Harrod’s
The first time I ever had afternoon tea, it was at Harrod’s with my college BFF Laura. Since, afternoon tea has become a favorite thing to do. In London, Brian and my experience at the Orangery topped this trip to Harrod’s.

The tea Brian was looking at originally was described as “with liqueur,” and we had to ask two waiters if this tea actually came with booze. (Umm…we were in England – where they speak English – and with means with). Instead, he settled on a mint tea, and I had the Georgian blend. The setting is nice (and Brian particularly liked the pattern on the skylights) and the waiters just a little snooty. The sandwiches are good, the pastries nice, and the cream throughly clotted.

Next time, though, I think we’ll just go to Harrod’s for the Food Halls and grab a crepe instead.

Speaking of crepes, another favorite of ours in London is the “pancake” stand across the street from Big Ben and Parliament. In fact, my banner picture for this blog was taken eating one of these crepes. Last time I had the mushroom and cheese, this time it was Nutella and banana. I find Nutella a little overpowering, so I had a very thin layer with my chunky bananas. We ate them while sitting on the bank of the Thames, right across from the London Eye. This makes a perfect picnic while waiting for a River Thames cruise to the Tower of London, Greenwich, or walking across to the Eye.

We also had a romantic dinner at Uno in Pimlico. While the wine list by the glass is lacking, the food is simply fantastic and the setting chic. When it takes me several rounds of the waiter coming by before I can pick, you know it’s a great menu. If you’re in the area and looking to escape fish and chips, Uno is a great bet.