This is a video of a guy that prepares and eats cicadas. (requires RealPlayer) I actually bet that it tastes somewhat good, but COME ON!
In my previous post, I told you all about an Indian street food event, that Monica Bhide was organizing. The location and date has been decided. It will be at Passage to India in Bethesda on June 13 at 5 PM. Sign up on eGullet forums if you would like to attend. If they can get 60 people, the owner of the restaurant owner says he will close the restaurant for a private dinner. I hope to see everyone there.
Yes, I am on a diet, which is why my posting in the last month has declined. I am just not eating at as many restaurants as I have in the past. I have gained 5 pounds every year since I left college, and this year, I decided to reverse the trend. I gotta get rid of the beer belly I am developing. I honestly never thought that I would go on a diet. I tried going to the gym more often and it did not work. I tried just controlling how much I eat....HAHAHA. That sure as hell did not work.
Anyway, a week ago I decided to try the South Beach Diet. Avoiding french fries and other fried foods has been extremely challenging, and so far I have been successful. I think the hardest part of it all is that I can't have any alcohol. With my job being as stressful as it is, and my love for a good glass of scotch or red wine after dinner, it has been pretty tough. So far, I have only lost a couple pounds, but I have this feeling that this week I will start losing more.
I hope this post does not bum people out.
I was going to post a detailed review for Palena, but I decided to hold off until I have eaten there more than once. The short story is that it was excellent and I would definitly recommend that everyone go there. However, I have only had the pleasure of trying the dishes that Amy and I ordered, and I think I want to hold off on awarding the extreme praise I planned on giving it until I have eaten there again.
I am currently sitting at gate B6 at Las Vegas Airport. My feet sore from walking up and down the strip over and over and my pockets empty from gambling all my money away. I’m recalling the previous night where I ate dinner with Amy at Bradley Ogden, and I have one thing to say…
Holy shit! Never before have I ever had such an utterly perfect dining experience. It is hard to describe how awesome this meal was, but let me try and do it some justice.
First, I have to give all the credit to the Southwest forums on eGullet. I was looking for a good restaurant to take Amy and after reading the posts there, it was pretty clear where I should go.
I called the same day, and the earliest I could get a reservation was 9:40 PM. Not that 9:40 PM is late or early. On Vegas time, there is no late or early. We were staying at the Paris and had to walk over Las Vegas Blvd to Caesar’s Palace. You can hardly miss Bradley Ogden. It is right there in front of you as you walk from the casino to The Shops at Caesars Palace. Amy and I, had gotten pretty dressed up for out night out. We were expecting to dine at a pretty classy restaurant. However, when we arrived, there were many people in jeans and a t-shirt...even shorts! Come on people, show a little respect! Luckily I saw no one wearing a baseball cap, OTHERWISE I WOULD HAVE HAD TO GO TONY SOPRANO ON HIS ASS.
We were seated promptly even though we were about 15 minutes late. When our waiter Randall first came by the table, he asked us if we had ever been to the restaurant. When we replied no, he got this giddy, excited look on his face and started to tell us all about the Bradley Ogden. Bradley Ogden, named after it’s chef, was recently awarded the best new restaurant award by the James Beard Foundation. Read about it here. Randall also went on to say that Bradley AND his son were at the restaurant. Randall reminded me of a young child bragging about his father. The entire staff were at our beck and call all night -- They really made us feel like royalty. The service alone was enough for me to give this restaurant a very favorable review.
I’ll get all of the price questions out of the way right now. Bradley Ogden is EXPENSIVE. Expect to drop at least $200 without a bottle of wine. Entrée ranged from $37 for the salmon to $175 for the Kobe Beef. It was probably the most expensive restaurant I have ever eaten at (and payed for the bill myself). Usually, when I look at the menu and the prices of the entrees start at $35, I keep on walking. However, we were in Vegas and everything has a tendency to cost more there. I was on vacation and I wanted to treat Amy to a nice night out after a long week.
Bradley Ogden only has three courses to order from. The first courses have your choices of soups, salads and appetizers. I guess you could order more than one, but I doubt it would be necessary. Amy definitely had better luck ordering than I did this night. She started with the Maytag Blue Cheese Soufflé for an appetizer and completed her meal with the Pork Tenderloin. Both were outstanding -- I wished I had ordered them myself. The Blue Cheese Soufflé was baked and had the same consistency of cheesecake. It was served with walnuts, figs, watercress and jam. The Pork Tenderloin was like no other pork we had previously tasted. It was broiled, and came with two slices about a half inch thick with mushrooms, onions, and black truffles. It was ideally cooked with the most perfect shade of pink in the middle. Amy commented that it had the same consitancy as a beef tenderloin.
My dishes were good, but they were just not my ideal taste in food. I opted for some lighter selections since I was not feeling as hungry as usual. I started with the Seared Hawaiian Ono served with wasabi sauce. I would say this was good, but not nearly as good as my better halves appetizer. For my entrée, I selected the Maine Scallops. It was served with a lemon, cashew sauce and fava beans. I’m not sure if this is a fad, but this is the second restaurant I have been to in two weeks that served seafood with fava beans. I hope the fad goes away. It is not much to my liking but that is just me. I ate around the them. The lemon, cashew sauce combined with the scallops was really something. The scallops themselves were seared and served rare as well -- the best scallops I had ever had. I still wished I had ordered the pork that Amy had. What do they say about grass?
Now I get to the part where I start to get a little light headed -- Dessert. While eating our entrees, we got a short prelude to our dessert when the table next to us had theirs brought out. “ I have seen the dessert tray, and it is good,“ Amy declared.
Amy and I were very full by the time we were done with our entrees. Our stomach’s were pretty stretched out from our trip to the Bellagio Buffet the previous night, so we ordered anyway. It came down to a choice between the Strawberry Shortcake and the Chocolate Dessert Platter. Since Amy is a sucker for Chocolate (and allergic to strawberries), we ordered the latter. To say the least it was a good choice. The platter came with four desserts (pictured below), each of which was enough for a separate person. Clockwise from the upper left: Chocolate cream, chocolate sorbet, a chocolate glazed donut, and warm chocolate espresso cake. We were done with the warm chocolate espresso cake in about a half minute. Holy crap that was good!! The chocolate donut was completely sinful. It made a Krispy Kreme taste like a Little Debbie snack cake. We barely touched the chocolate sorbet and crème. If we ate anymore we would burst. Oh, and I should also note that with out dessert, Randall brought each of us out a little teacup of butterscotch pudding with a little snicker-doodle on the side. This, like everything else, was incredible. The pudding was REALLY sweet though, but I think it was meant to be that way.
Overall, the meal price came to about $270 with tip, wine and cappuccinos. Like I said, it was probably the most expensive meal I have ever eaten, but it was well worth it.
Las Vegas, NV
Yesterday I got back from Las Vegas. Yes, I did lose some money...
My I was quite impressed with the quantity and quality of restaurants out there. In the short time we were there, Amy and I were able to eat at some really good places. We were staying at the Paris and most of the time for lunch, we ate at the pool bar. Chicken fingers taste pretty good on an empty stomach. The Paris was a really nice hotel, but the pool was pretty weak. The pool has only 1 bar with 1 bartender. If you want a drink, you will have to wait about 40 minutes in line. What a joke. We ended up just ordering buckets of beers to save repeated trips.
For dinner, we ate at the Bellagio buffet one night. I can affirm that it is the best buffet in Vegas. The highlight of the trip however, was a restaurant called Bradley Ogden at Caesar's Palace. I am going to save a whole post for it, but let me just say that it felt like I was eating in a palace.
Oh, and don't think I have forgotten about the Palena review I owe everyone. I was going to post it before I left for Vegas, but I ran out of time.
For you fellow Indian food-aholics like myself...
What a meal Amy and I had at Palena tonight! It is probably one of the best meals we have ever eaten. Ok, so I know we are a bit behind. It is really ridiculous that we waited this long to try Palena. Everyone has been telling me how awesome this place is and my cheap ass has been avoiding it. Anyway, more about our visit tomorrow when I am not buzzed from the bottle of Zinfindel we drank.
For years now, people have been telling me that I need to try Mr. Chen's Organic chinese delivery and for some reason I ignored them...until Thursday night. Oh my effen God! Best Chinese Amy and I have ever had!! Everything was fresh. Not to sound like a commercial, but you never would've guessed it was delivery. Quoted from the top of the menu, "At Mr. Chens Restaurant, we use organic fresh vegetables along with a health-conscious cooking style to prepare delicious Chinese cuisine."
I ordered the Chicken in Black Bean Sauce. It was just slightly spicy and the chicken wasn't overcooked --TONS of flavor (not MSG flavor). My only complaint was that there were not many black beans in the sauce, but it is only a tiny one. Amy got Kung Pao Chicken and loved it as well. Like mine, it was slightly spicy which just kicked the flavor up a bit. I always like that. We also ordered some spicy wontons which weren't all that spicy, but tasted a lot better than they looked. Definitely try the Curry Fried Rice. It was very different from any other fried rice than we had ever had. It is basically your typical fried rice with chicken, pork, shrimp (or vegetarian) and some curry and tumeric spices.
The menu gives you the option of small or large portions. If you want a ton of leftovers, order the large. We did and ate them the next day for lunch.
Mr. Chen's Organic Chinese Cuisine
2604 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
I have decided that I'm going to start posting about the food I eat while I'm traveling. A couple weekends ago, Amy and I went to VT to go skiing. YES skiing. For those of you who a dumbfounded that I was skiing in April, well, there is a reason they call it spring skiing. My brother has a condo at Killington, VT and they have skiing sometimes till June 1st. Anyhoo, we went to a few interesting places to eat up there that I wanted to write about here.
The first night we were there we went to a place called Charities. If you ever go to Killington, you will quickly realize that most of the decent restaurants within 10 miles of the resort charge $15-30 for most entrees and you just have to accept it. Charities is pretty reasonable in that respect, and they are in the lower end of that scale. The food is consitantly good from what my brother tells me. I had a turkey dinner special that came with all the fixins. Fresh sliced turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Maybe it was the long trip up there, and the fact that I could have eaten a horse, but it was excellent. There was nothing left on the plate when I was done. Amy was not quite as hungry as me and ordered an appetizer size of the BBQ Ribs. She wished she had ordered a full size. I think you get the picture of the type of food that Charities serves - Steaks, BBQ, Hearty food. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you staying at Killington.
Our last night up there, my brother, his wife and I went to a place called the Jackson House Inn. I would go into more detail as to why Amy did not go, but honestly, that is another story. We had talked to some locals at the bar that the base of Killington Peak. We were all out in our t-shirts soaking in the sun, talking about where we would go to dinner that night. The lady sitting next to us told us that we should try the Jackson House Inn. So we were thinking some quaint little bed and breakfast, run by some old couple in the middle of effen no where. So that night we drove over in our jeans and flannel shirts. I was actually wearing sneakers believe it or not. When we arrived in Woodstock some 20 minutes later and drove by we realized that we had seriously misjudged this place. It was NICE. I mean REALLY NICE. Pam (my brothers wife) had dressed the nicest of us all and my brother and I being little chicken shits were like, "Go in and see if we're underdressed."
Now realize that April and May are probably the slowest times of the year for this area. There is barely anyone around. So of course the hosts did not care what we were wearing. They were just happy to get some business. Pam waved us in. There was a small lobby where the owners were sitting. The inn is owned by a husband and wife and they were very friendly and hospitable. As we waited with them for our table to be ready, I looked at the numerous awards and write ups in magazines that were posted on the walls. One of them was an article in Conde Nast which said that the Jackson House Inn was one of the top places to stay in the US.
The menu is a fixed price menu with two options. You can order a three course meal (appetizer, entree, dessert) for $55 or $75 with wine parings or you can order the chefs tasting menu for $95. I believe the tasting menu came with wine parings and you got to choose 7 of 11 possible tastings. We all opted for the $55 three course meal and ordered glasses of wine for ourselves. I won't go into the details about what was one the menu, because it changes with the seasons. When we were talking to the owners they told us that the chef only uses local, organically grown ingredients in his dishes. Some of them are grown right there at the inn. I got a little too much information , though, when they told me the lamb was slaughtered that morning for the lamb dish. I still ordered the lamb anyway, and it was excellent. :) Amy missed out on quite a night, but something tells me she would not have enjoyed it much.
The rest of the meal I ate that weekend were either at the ski lodge bar, or Roy Rodgers which has got to be the absolute worst of the fast food chains. For some reason, the rest stops on the northern side of rt 87 have all the good fast food chains (Burger King, Cinnabon, etc) and the south side only has Roy Rodgers and Bob's Big Boy (Don't get me started on that name).