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May 2007

Moti's Falafel Stand

If you love Amsterdam Falafel and you happen to be in the Rockville area around lunchtime, you might want to check out Moti's Falafel Stand which opened recently on Rollins Ave. in Rockville. The falafel comes in freshly baked pita bread with or without hummus for $4.99. You can also top the falafel with an assortment of other condiments like cucumber salad or pickled onions from the toppings bar for example.

I stopped by after I spotted the sign "Moti's Falafel Stand - The Best Around!", next door to the Kosher Mart as I was driving by on Sunday afternoon. "Hmm, that's a bold statement" I said to myself.

When I drove by, the sign said that they were open, but by the time I parked and walked up to the door the manager was locking the door. I was let in anyway. I'm sure the falafel wasn't the freshest that it could've been on the Sunday at 4 right before closing, but it hit the spot none the less. Finish it off with a Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda for dessert and you've got yourself a mighty fine lunch.

They also have Schwarma and Schnitzel available for $5.99 and $6.99. Or you can get a hot dog for $0.99, and if that's not enough for you, get an order of fries on the side.

Moti's Falafel Stand
184 Rollins Avenue
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 468-4840

Fava Bean Crostini

I love the fava bean crostini at 2 Amys. So last weekend I attempted to duplicate it and I think I came pretty close...or maybe I improved upon it. Here's my recipe:

1 cup peeled and blanched fava beans - (Or buy frozen ones if you can't find them fresh.)
2 tbsp Mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp Parmesan Reggiano
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt (or less if you like it less salty)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp heavy cream or half and half
2 or 3 leaves of fresh mint

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Toast slices of a French baguette under your broiler or on your grill after brushing with olive oil. Top each slice with a hefty tablespoon of the fava bean puree. Top the puree with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt.

Pictures? Sorry, I didn't take any. I know, I was disappointed in me too.

Hook Restaurant

Ever since I found out that Barton Seaver was leaving Cafe Saint Ex to go to Hook in late February, I've been anxiously awaiting the restaurant's opening. One of the things I liked the most about Cafe Saint Ex were the seafood dishes, and the idea that Hook would be primarily a seafood restaurant was exciting.

There's obviously been a lot of buzz around the opening of Hook, because calling same day to get a reservation and Thursday was challenging. As usual my lack of planning ahead meant I couldn't to drop by Hook until the following Saturday after it opened. The place was bustling with people.

The space, previously occupied by Cilantro, has been completely remodeled to give it a sleek, modern look. The bar at Hook takes up almost half of the restaurant, which will make it a popular happy hour spot for the Georgetown crowd. Even though space is limited, the owners haven't spaced the tables too closely together, so you have a good amount of privacy when eating. Despite the modern look, the atmosphere is pretty casual at Hook, but people still seem to dress up a little (Dress is dress casual to business casual.) Amy noticed that high heeled stilettos were a common sight.

The wines selection seems well thought out and the prices will suit anyones budget ($26 to $140 a bottle). Most interesting is that the wines are sorted by how strong and complex the flavor is which makes it easy to pick out a wine. Of course, when you're dealing with seafood, it can't hurt to pick out a Muscadet (I had a nice Muscadet from Loire, France and loved it. It's a very good choice at $28 a bottle.)

You should start you meal at Hook with a crudo sampler (or two). Crudo are slices of raw fish (basically sushi Sashimi) that come served with some condiments like a grapefruit slice, ginger, an oil, or something similar. For the more adventurous fish eater, skip the oyster, tuna, and salmon, and go for the wahoo, weakfish, or mackerel which have more interesting preparation. If you're there with a companion, the sampler comes with three that can each be shared between two, so don't feel like you need to order a set for each person.

For appetizers, the grilled shrimp are a hit and give any grilled shrimp in the area a run for their money (yes, even Ray's). They come on top of salty stewed beans that taste like they have a ton of pork fat in them. We also had the "country ham tasting" which is a Virginia version of a Charcuterie plate, but in the stead of prosciutto and french bread, you get Virginia ham and biscuits. I really think this would be perfect if it came with some sausage gravy on the side instead of mustard.

Fish dominate the entrees at Hook like the rest of the menu, except for the mushroom risotto and pork belly dishes. I really enjoyed the bluefish which is one of your more dense, oily fishes, but is complemented nicely with a basil pesto. Serving sizes aren't huge, which can be one of the drawbacks depending on how you look at it. Personally, I was pretty full at the end of the night and you know how big of an appetite I have.

Desserts are done by Heather Chittum, formerly of Circle Bistro, Dish, Notti Bianche, and...oh right, Citronelle. My favorite dessert ever from Circle Bistro has returned on the menu at Hook which are the Madeleines. They're soft and lemony and a light way to finish off the meal.

Oh, and I happened to bump into Sebastian Zutant at the bar, former sommelier of Komi, Rasika and the future sommelier of Proof. When I asked about the status of Proof, he said that it wont be open until very late May. He seemed to be having a good time like Amy and I, although it could have been the wine.

Hook Restaurant
3241 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007