Archive | March, 2010

Kora

24 Mar

Last week at a going away luncheon for my lovely friend and coworker Ambrie (miss you chicita!) I had the opportunity to try Chef Morou’s latest venture Kora, a relatively new Italian restaurant in Crystal City. What they have done with the space itself is impressive. I liked the soaring ceilings, purple walls and the giant silk screen portrait of Morou’s daughter for whom the restaurant is named. We were seated in a private room for large groups which didn’t have the charm of the main space in my opinion but allowed all 20 of us to sit together so I wasn’t complaining.

The lunch menu included a plethora of choices. There are entrée, salad, Panini, and pizza options as well as a $16 dollar you-pick-three lunch menu that would probably leave me snoozing on my keyboard but is quite the deal if you are up for it. Most of our table went with the lunch deal, I decided to keep it (relatively) light and ordered the prosciutto and mozzarella panini.

Pretty. Salty.

Morou has always been a stickler for presentation and my panini arrived framing a little side salad a silver cup of French fries standing at attention. Very pretty for a lunch time sandwich. I really enjoyed the first few bites: flavor packed prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, briny tapenade and fresh veggies. Yum. And then a few bites in all I got was salt and lots of it. I suppose it was my fault for ordering a sandwich who’s two main ingredients are prosciutto (seriously salty) and olive tapenade (salt fest) but I think they could have found a way to make the dish slightly less aggressive on the sodium front. Saltiness aside it was still quite tasty, I just had to have four Diet Coke refills to work my way through it.

Everyone seemed to be more than happy with their meals returning their plates to the kitchen that had been scraped clean. The only group complaint was that lunch was a bit on the lengthy side two hours does not a power lunch make. Still I am happy to have Kora in the Crystal City mix, it is nice to have a local establishment thrown in with all those chain restaurants!

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Jaleo

18 Mar

Living in downtown DC and working in Crystal City I am surrounded by all things Jose Andres. I have been to the large majority of his local establishments (Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlantico) however until last weekend I had never made it to the one that started it all, Jaleo.

When we arrived for a late dinner just after nine on a Friday night the restaurant was packed. The wait was over thirty minutes and when we were finally seated it was at a rather awkward table in a tiny corner space. It was not exactly the most auspicious start to the evening. Then we ordered a carafe of sangria which the waiter delivered along with bread and oil that he poured from about three feet up into a little dish of rosemary and cracked garlic cloves. With an adult beverage in hand and something to munch on one while we perused the dizzying selection of tapas I began to warm up to the evening.

And then the food came. Jaleo subscribes to the traditional tapas bring it out when its ready style of service and our first dish out was scallops over butternut squash puree with clementines and pumpkin seeds. It was delicious. The scallops were perfectly seared and were complimented nicely by the brightness of the citrus and the crunch of the pumpkin seeds. The puree that held it all together was so good we mopped up every last bit. Next up, house made chorizo and bacon wrapped dates.  The chorizo, served with a tasty potato puree, was good but it wasn’t something I would be clamoring to order again. I had heard that the dates were an addictive little ditties but I found them a little disappointing and wish they hadn’t been deep-fried, all that breading took away from the bacon-y goodness I was anticipating. Our final dish however was a serious win, grilled quail with rosemary sauce and honey aioli. So good I am sure we could have eaten another four or five portions.

By the end of the evening Jaleo had definitely won me over. With over 60 dishes on the menu you can bet I’ll be back to sample a few more… plus I have a feeling I’m going to need to revisit that quail in short order.

www.jaleo.com

Horseradish Salmon

16 Mar

Though I love to cook there are far too many evenings when grabbing takeout or cracking open a container of prepared food seems much more appealing than putting in the effort. There are however so many recipes out there that hardly require any effort at all. For example, salmon with a creamy horseradish sauce over a bed of wild rice with a side of asparagus. Sounds like some serious time in the kitchen right? In reality it’s more like dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

This is really one of the easiest recipes ever. Preheat your oven to 350°. To make the sauce mix ½ cup yogurt (I used low fat Greek) with prepared horseradish (I went with EXTRA HOT) and a handful of fresh chives. Next, pat down your salmon filets, season with salt and pepper and spread a tablespoon of the sauce over each. Pop them in the oven and 15-20 minutes later… voila, dinner is served!

Sometimes Good Things Come without the Wait

Salmon with Horseradish

Bon Appétit | 1991 Serves 2

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

4 teaspoons drained prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 6-to 8-ounce 3/4-inch-thick salmon steaks

Whole fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil 9-inch glass pie plate. Combine yogurt, horseradish and chives in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Season salmon lightly with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon yogurt mixture over each salmon steak. Arrange salmon in prepared dish. Bake salmon until just cooked through, about 18 minutes*. Transfer to plate. Garnish with chives. Serve, with remaining yogurt mixture as sauce.

*Note: I like my salmon to be rather rare. This recipe produces a cooked through filet. It was quite tasty however if I made it again I would reduce the cooking time by 5 min or so.

Hora Feliz: Oyamel

4 Mar

This winter has been pretty dreadful. While Washington waits with breath that is baited for spring, the forecasts continue to be cold, gray and drizzly. Ick. I love DC but warmer climates are sounding considerably more appealing these days. Unfortunately jetting off to somewhere sunny and sandy is just not in the cards right now, at least not for this Washingtonian. What to do, what to do…? I’ll tell you what to do. Throw on your scarf and your mittens and hightail it downtown to the Hora Feliz at Oyamel.

This weekend I met my friend Kristi there to have a drink and perhaps a little comida. The space itself is quite the pick-me-up. Orange and pink décor + Butterflies dangling from the ceiling + well made margaritas= Instant Summer= Win. I’ve never met a margarita in a Jose Andres establishment that I didn’t like. I enjoy the ‘salt air’ version touted at Café Atlantico and I enjoy the classic version here. There is no margarita mix when Mr. Andres is involved and to that I say ‘thank you’, ‘yes please’ and ‘may I have another.’

We decided to get a little food with our tequila and ordered up some tacos.  Any order at Oyamel includes a free serving of chips and salsa. Theirs are made fresh daily and are seasoned with chilies, salt and… tequila (Tequila tortilla chips? Mr. Andres, I do believe we would be fast friends).  I selected two tacos. The first was carnitas with tomatillo sauce and a little pork rind nestled on top, and the second shredded beef and fresh salsa. Fresh and flavorful those little ditties put any other Taco Tuesday to shame.

And the bill for my two tacos, two drinks and chips… twelve dollars. Good food + Good Drinks + A Sunny Interior for $12= you now know where to find me Friday-Sunday between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30.

So I'll just sit right here and have another beer in Mexico...

Oyamel’s Hora Feliz

$4 Margaritas, Ponche and Draft Beer
2 for $4 Tacos
Half Price Wine

Friday through Sunday
4:30-6:30 PM

http://www.oyamel.com

Montmartre

2 Mar

One of my favorite weekend activities in Washington is to wander among the stalls of the Eastern Market farmers market and bizarre. There is just something about browsing local beets, baubles and beef (etc) that puts a smile on my face. This year’s less than desirable winter conditions have however kept me away for some time now. With ice covered sidewalks and chilling temperatures, the 2.5 block walk to my local Safeway has been more than enough adventure for me, thank you very much. This past Saturday however the sun was shining, so when my Dad and stepmother Nadja (who also happens to be the P&Q editor, thanks Nadj!) called to invite me on an Eastern Market outing I bundled up and joined them.

After shopping we were all a little hungry so we wondered on over to Montmartre for some brunch action. I have been to Montmartre several times for a post market brunching and tend to enjoy myself for the following reasons: 1) Dinning in the Capitol Hill Montmartre is quite similar to dinning in the Parisian Montmartre, warm and cozy with lots of European sensibilities. 2) The restaurant has a distinct neighborhood feel where regulars chat with the wait staff like old friends and lone dinners enjoy a coffee and a quiche while they browse the Post at the bar. 3) They have good food (bien sur!).

The brunch menu includes several common French café type items, a croque monsieur, a quiche of the day etc, plus a selection of entrees such as hanger steak, cod over gnocchi and the like. On this occasion I was feeling more lunch-y than brunch-y so I went with the panini, a culinary melting pot of prosciutto, spinach, bell peppers, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto. I enjoyed my choice. The ingredients added up to a really nice depth of flavors: freshness from the pesto, salt from the prosciutto, creamy-melty goodness from the cheese. My only complaint would be that the dish’s accompanying side salad was a bit of a throw away on this occasion. Other hits at our table included the aforementioned quiche and the smoked salmon eggs benedict (which I have had before and can personally give two thumbs up).

One rather stuffed panini... soon to be stuffed in me!

One of the things I enjoy about brunch at Montmartre is that the portions are just right. Instead of a massive pile of eggs, potatoes and bacon smothered in cheese, you get your main dish with a little side salad. Thus you don’t leave the restaurant in a food coma that carries you into the next work week. To be fair there has been many a morning when I have wanted that pile of cheesy potatoes (perhaps after quite a few too many beverages the night before) but on most occasions a grilled sandwich with a little greenery is just perfect. Nothing like a little taste of Paris to get your weekend started off right!

http://www.montmartredc.com