Barcelona 3/20

Meringue-topped cupcakes

Hot chocolate and chocolate cake

These pictues from our Barcelona trip popped up in my feed today. The top photo are some astonishing cupcakes we saw in a pastry shop. We didn’t buy them, but they just looked sooo incredible.

The hot choclate and cake I had at the Museum of Chocolate. It’s that super-thick, just-melted European hot chocolate that you might do better to eat with a spoon than try to drink. I probably did not need to have the cake as well, but, hey, you only live once.

D.C. Photos 4/16-4/23/22

A few more photos from our DC trip a couple of weeks ago.

We ended up having dinner in the hotel bar a couple of times, and the food was actually pretty good. The crispy pork belly bao were great, as a matter of fact. The charcuterie board was nothing amazing, but it was our last night in DC, we were tired, and everything was tasty if unremarkable.

That same day, we also had lunch at Mikko, a little Scandinavian cafe that was a short walk from the hotel. From that website, I was sort of expecting a fancy European restuarant, but it was a small walk-in with a couple of tables inside and on the sidewalk. We sat outdoors, since it was a very nice day. I had the Skagen, an open-faced shrimp salad sandwich. We also shared a bowl of the mushroom soup. The soup thoroughly exceeded my expectations. It was a thick puree rather than a creamy or brothy soup, full of deep mushroom flavor and almost nothing else.

We had a hard time finding food tours in DC. I don’t know if the pandemic killed hem off, or if it’s just not a thing there. There were only a couple we could find online: one that took people through the U Street neighborhood and focused on the Black ethnic cuisines there (Ethiopian and Jamaican, mainly), and one in Georgetown. We opted for the Georgetown tour, though I am sure we would have enjoyed either. We met up at District Doughnut and then very briskly walked through the gorgeous neighborhood, stopping at several spots that were involved in JFK’s time there pre-presidency. We enjoyed an excellent falafel from Falafel Inc., had the meatloaf special at the famous Martin’s Tavern, and a creme brulee at a newer restaurant whose name I now forget. Overall, the tour did not live up to some of our previous food tour experiences, but it was nice to walk around the neighborhood and sample some local favorites.

Somehow, when I posted the photos from Albi last week, I managed to forget to include the dessert tray, so I have added it here. Tiny little bites of wonder to finish off such a memorable meal. The baklava was especially good.

Dinner 4/20/22

We spent last week in Washington DC, and the highlight of the trip was our dinner at Albi – a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant that features a wood oven that they use for grilling, charring, etc. Absolutely one of the best dining experiences we have had in a long time. I found the restaurant on Eater DC’s “Essential DC Restaurants” list, and they were not wrong.

We both agreed that the baba ghannoush was almost too pretty to eat. The eggplant was charred in the wood oven, and it was served with smoked cauliflower, pine nuts, and tiny pickled peppers. The accompanying pita came fresh from the oven, still all puffed up, and sprinkled with za’atar and parsley.

My favorite dish was the charred “sweet & sumac” bok choy, served with whipped feta, apricot honey, and peanuts. They also make this dish with sweet potato and had just switched to bok choy as a more season-appropriate ingredient. I like bok choy, but am more familiar with it in stir-fry and other Chinese preparations, but now I can’t wait to try charring some on the grill this summer.

The barbecued black bass was outstanding, but by the time the entree came to the table, we were very full from the other courses and only ate about half. The waiter was afraid we hadn’t liked it, but there was just no more room in our tummies.

Cocktail 6/12/21

Smoked Rye Manhattan

We spent a wonderful weekend in Portland, Main back in June 2021. We lived in Portland for several years in the early 1990s, and we still like to go up and visit once in a while. My wife had some travel points on a credit card to score us a cheap hotel room (because, let me tell you, there is no such thing as a cheap hotel room in Maine in the summer), and we hit up some old haunts. We also met up for dinner and drinks with our friends Tony and Sharon, who live nearby and ended up at The Independent Ice Company, a whiskey bar in the Old Port. Our original plan was to go somewhere else for dinner, but it was hard to get a reservation anywhere, so we parked our butts in the bar, ordered off their small food menu, and made an evening of it.

This is one of their signature cocktails, a smoke-infused Manhattan. I love a good Manhattan, and the smoke infusion sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try. As you can see from the photo, they literally bring a bottle of wood smoke to your table and “pour” it into the drink. Looking at their online menu just now, I see that they say the wood is “Knob Creek American oak chips”, so oak chips that have been soaked in the same Knob Creek rye that the drink is made from.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the novelty, but I don’t know if it really added that much to the experience of having a Manhattan. What I like about Manhattans is the interplay between the spicy rye and the sweet red vermouth, and smoke is kind of an easily overwhelming flavor/aroma component. We had a secound round of drinks, and I did not order a second one, I just had a whiskey on the rocks.