Monday, November 30, 2009

Mozza2Go in LA

My friends, instead of worrying about getting a reservation at LA's famous Pizzeria Mozza, now can use Mozza2Go to get the same amazing pizzas.
We ordered two pizzas: the first had salami, mozzarella, Fresno chiles & tomato. It had a really good spicy kick to it.

We also ordered the Pizza alla Benno which had Speck ham, pineapple, jalapenos, mozzarella & tomato. The pineapple was sliced very thin which made it nice for my friend's wife who usually does not like pineapple on pizza.
As usual, the pizza crust was just amazing with both crispy and chewy textures.
Part of the what made the meal so great was how they packaged their signature dishes like the Mozza Caprese for takeout. It was in a container so that you would do the final assembly at home.

Nectar, Berwyn PA

We had a girls day around Wayne, PA, and decided to try brunch at Nectar in Berwyn. With decor that looks like Buddakan in the suburbs, it also had a Pan-Asian fusion menu.

We started out with fun fruity drinks. I opted for 2 starters -- lobster sliders and grilled calamari salad with chorizo, parmesan, frisee, arugala, and lemon vinegraitte.

The other girls got a lobster omelette, which came with little potato croquettes (like high end tater tots stuffed with yummy blue cheese); shrimp pad thai; and their version of chi-chi egg foo young.

1091 Lancaster Ave. | Berwyn, PA 19312 | 610.725.9000

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kogi- Korean BBQ Trucks in LA

As soon as I landed in LA this holiday weekend, we checked Twitter, and located the nearest Kogi Korean BBQ Taco truck in Santa Monica this day.
As it was the lunch rush, there was a bit of a line when we pulled up, but the wait was not bad and certainly worth it.
I ordered two tacos, their signature short rib (kalbi) taco and the spicy pork taco. They were served on small corn tortillas with loads of veggies, kimchee and meat. I really liked the use of kalbi style meat in a small tortilla.
I also ordered a kimchee quesadilla. I actually like this even more than the tacos- it was a true clash of Korean and Mexican cuisine as the quesadilla was loaded with both kim chee and cheese.
I also ordered a pair of Koji sliders, which basically was like bulgolgi with cheese served in a slider bun. It was also amazingly good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ray's The Classics, Silver Spring, MD

I've been the Ray's Hell Burger, and I love their burgers. Needless to say, I was very excited to finally get the another of Chef Michael Landrum's restaurants this past weekend. We went to Ray's The Classics in Silver Spring, MD for dinner, and wow, what another great experience.
Things started with the housemade spice cashews that were at the table as soon as we arrived. They were still warm, and were so good, we finished off the dish before we got to our orders.

For an appetizer, I ordered the Devilish Eggs. They were deviled eggs stuffed with steak tartare and topped with Hollandaise sauce. It was served on a lovely presentation with toast, cornichons, capers, onions and egg yolk.

My tablemates ordered other appetizers. Mike got the wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing. However, the best part was the sprinkling of house-made bacon chunks.

Gubeen ordered the macaroni & cheese which we all shared.

My steak was a Brazillian Picanha cut, or rump cover. Because, Landrum sources his own beef and has it butchered himself, he is able to do a cut like this which is not traditional for US Butchers. It was cooked a perfect medium rare, and it was served with his spicy Piranha sauce.
For dessert, I had a root beer float with homemade ice cream, but I also tried the delicious, tart key lime pie.
For all this food, the price blew me away- probably the same you would pay for Outback Steakhouse, but leaps and bounds better.

8606 Colesville Rd
Silver Spring, MD‎
(301) 588-7297‎

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kooper's Chowhound Burger Truck in Baltimore

Last week, managed to find Baltimore's burger truck, Kooper's Chowhound via their Twitter account.
Ordered up a MacGuiness burger with cheddar and applewood bacon. The Angus beef was cooked medium-well, good sized, and had a nice bun. They got the burger out quickly, but I sense the meat is a little pre-cooked to speed up service instead of made to order.
I also got a side of 50-50 fries with sweet potato fries and regular fries.
I would say, the experience was ok. I think I prefer North Carolina's Only Burger for the fact that they are cheaper, the burgers are truly made to order, and their fries were better.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Return to Volt in Frederick, MD

I went back to Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant, Volt, in Frederick, MD with some friends. This time, we tried items from his regular a la carte menu.
We were given an amuse bouche of halibut ceviche with baby cilantro.
For my first course, I had the charcuterie plate, which had in-house made venison & pistachio sausage, fennel sausage, head cheese, and mortadella. It also came with in house made pickles and pickled shallots. My friend got the yellowfin tuna wuth yuzu vinaigrette and chili oil- which was so fresh and amazing.
For my second course, I ordered the pork belly on a bed of fresh cannellini beans. I liked that is came with a little pancetta chip.
After 2 courses of pork overload, I decided for my main dish to be the halibut served over squash and parsnip purees and red quinoa. The fish was so nicely prepared, and the chef clearly respected the ingredient, by letting it's flavor stand alone without so many bells and whistles.

My friend ordered the Longnecker farm rabbit, which was the rabbit broken down and prepared four ways. My friend said it was probably one of the best rabbit dishes he had ever had.

We all tried each other's desserts. I ordered the deconstructed banana split. It was a streak of pureed banana with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream. Best part- the spherical maraschino cherry.

My friends tried the chocolate peanut butter cake and the item called "Textures of Chocolate". The TIGBG gang has reservations for Table 21, his 21 course tasting menu next month. We're certain to post on that.

228 N Market St
Frederick, MD 21701-5335
(301) 696-8658

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hunan Taste in Catonsville, MD

Last month, a new Chinese restaurant, Hunan Taste, opened in Catonsville, in the same shopping center as H Mart, a large Asian grocery store. I met up with the folks there this past weekend. My mom had read about the place in and ad in the local Chinese paper, where they promoted authentic Hunan style cuisine, their specialty being Mao Tse-tung's Red-braised pork.
The dish is thick chunks of pork belly cooked with a delicious sauce made of chiles, soy sauce, wine, sugar, star anise and cinnamon. It is reported that this was Chairman Mao's favorite dish, The version at Hunan Taste was delicious, and chock full of cloves of garlic. My parents gave this a thumbs up.

My mom got excited because the menu, which we were told by the manager was not quite finalized yet, had, in English, a steamed chicken soup. She recalled a traditional chicken soup that had a special bowl with a hole/spout in the center where the steam enters and cooks the contents. After discussing her memory of the dish, we were pleased that this was exactly that dish she remembered.
The soup was really nice. The chicken, from the steaming, was nice and tender, and there were goji berries and pieces of nagaimo, or Japanese yam, in the broth as well. My mom said that there is thought to be medicinal benefits to this soup.
We also tried another chef's special, Hunan style spicy filets, and for a vegetable, we had celery and lily buds. Both dishes were also delicious.
We spoke with the manager after our meal, and he mentioned that eventually the final menu will have over 100 itema, and that the chefs want to remain true to Chinese cuisine rather than cater too much to Americanized Chinese cuisine. After our meal, it all sounded very promising for Chinese food in the Baltimore area.

718 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228

Monday, November 09, 2009

Back to Akosombo in DC

After visiting Akosombo earlier this year, I wanted to make sure I went back to try some of the other dishes they have to offer. In particular, I wanted to try red-red, a traditional Ghanaian dish of stewed black eyed peas or other bean with plantains.
This past weekend, the DC Metropolitan cooking show was a mere 1 1/2 blocks from Akosombo. So, in order to escape the throngs who came to see Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, and Giada, I walked over to Akosombo's inconspicuous building for lunch.
I think the peak time to get to this place is around 2 pm- it's also when all the food is just hitting the steam tables. When I arrived, the front drive was filled with cabs and airport limos.
I finally got to try the red-red. It was worth it. The seasoning in the bean stew was delicious- definitely some scotch bonnet in it. I also got the jollof rice with beef stew and some spinach with egusi.

613 K St NW
(between N 6th St & N 7th St)
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 408-1133

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Jade Island Restaurant, Staten Island, NY

Fougoo, Redneckhunter and I, inspired by the recent episode of No Reservations where Tony Bourdain went with David Johansen to a tiki bar in Staten Island, went to that very restaurant, Jade Island, over the Halloween weekend.
The place was in a massive strip mall that had a Pathmark. The decor was definitely old school. There were lit up paintings of Polynesian scenery all around, and the friendly waiters all wore Hawaiian shirts.
The Chinese food on the menu looked like it had not changed since the 60's or 70's- mostly items with either a brown sauce or a sweet and sour sauce. We even noticed that they still had Sanka on the menu.
Regardless, we were there for drinks with umbrellas and a flaming Pupu platter.
I got a Coconut Kiss, a very strong concoction of gin and coconut milk.

The Pupu platter was impressive, with a flaming centerpiece surrounded by delicious meats. The best item was a cumin beef kabob, and their spareribs were also good. I also liked a ravioli shaped item fried up that consisted of chicken.

We also tried a "Polynesian" steak dish that probably wasn't the best choice- brown sauce.
However, thanks to a wonderful buzz from the alcohol, a bellyful of meat, and the authentic Tikibar surroundings, it was great night out.

2845 Richmond Ave
Staten Island, NY 10314-5850
(718) 761-8080‎

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe Dinner at Volt, Frederick, MD

Last week, as part of The Big Read program, the restaurant Volt in Frederick, MD, run by Top Chef Las Vegas contestant Bryan Voltaggio featured a special tasting menu inspired by the life of Edgar Allan Poe. It was my first time eating at Volt, and it was impressive.
Right away, we started with the amuse bouche, which was the dish that won him an elimination challenge on Top Chef, a sweet and sour lime macaroon with guacamole.

We then were served bread. I chose the roll that had applewood smoked bacon in it.
The tasting menu offered two choices, Boston and Baltimore, contrasting the towns where Poe was born and died.
The first course from "Boston" was a New England clam chowder that was special in that the root vegetables, potatoes and carrots, were not quite vegetables, rather, the potato was like a small gnocchi and the carrot were more like noodles. It also had small spheres of balsamic vinegar in it.
The "Baltimore" opener was a blue crab cake topped with a chip seasoned with his take on Old Bay and served with a green apple remoulade and celeriac.

The second "Baltimore" course was a perfectly cooked pigeon served with caraway potato balls, cabbage, chard and roasted mustard seeds. The bird was so delicious and delicate in flavor, I can say that I have never had pigeon made so beautifully.

The second "Boston" course was Taylor Bay scallops with sea urchin, maitake mushrooms, coriader blossom with soy air. The blend of flavors, particularly with the sea urchin was wonderful.

For the main course, the "Baltimore" featured Voltaggio's take on pit beef with cut of wagyu beef prepared sous vide style to recreate the slow cooking. It was served over pureed potates and carrots and turnips. The resulting beef was tender and delicious.
The "Boston" main course was inspired by Poe's "The Raven" as he grilled black chicken served on two purees- parsnip and chestnut. Too bad the cooking took the black color out of the chicken.

For dessert, Voltaggio made a version of the Lady Baltimore cake with Mission fig and pecans accompanied by a fig sorbet.
The other dessert was a deconstructed Boston Cream pie.
As an extra treat, we received little ice cream sandwiches with homemade cookies. My favorite was the oatmeal cookie with coconut ice cream.

228 N Market St
Frederick, MD 21701-5335
(301) 696-8658‎