Friday, May 22, 2009

It’s Memorial Day Weekend: Time To Start Grilling!

By Millicent K. Brody

It’s almost the holiday weekend, and I know many of you are racing around trying to gather all of the ingredients for your Memorial Day backyard barbeque. Lucky for me, my son Michael is the grill master. I truly believe for an at-home burger, his can’t be beat! Taking a tip from his dad, we buy prime Black Angus beef. As we tend to shop at quality butchers like Hind and Fore in Bridgewater, John’s Meat Market in Scotch Plains, or supermarkets like Whole Foods, Kings, A & P, or Fairways, the butchers are really kind and do their best to cut our beef to perfection. Because we enjoy generous-sized burgers, we don’t pat them flat. Just before grilling, we always add a bit of Kosher salt and cracked pepper.

“Make sure your grill is piping hot,” Michael says. “Grill 5 minutes on each side. For a cheeseburger, thinly slice a Wisconsin cheddar and carefully layer it on to the burger. Toast crusty Italian rolls or quality burger rolls and have them ready to receive the beef. Platter your burgers and bring them to the table. Serve with homemade potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, and pickles. YUM!

My friend, Mr. Tom the Nascar Man, is of a different opinion. He says, “The flavor is in the fat. Buy fatty hamburger meat. “Before grilling your burgers, use your finger, and rake-off a teeny slab of Havarti cheese. Carefully, poke the cheese inside the burger. Add a dash of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, and place the meat on to the grill. For official burnt grill lines, be sure to turn the burgers every two minutes.”

As an appetizer or official “bar” food, you could go with a classic and serve chicken wings. Lightly toss wings in a bowl filled with Good Seasons Italian Dressing. Turn your oven on to 350 degrees. Toss chicken wings in a brown paper bag filled with Italian breadcrumbs. When fully coated, place the wings on a greased cookie sheet and pop into the oven. Let them bake for at least twenty minutes before turning. When wings turn golden brown and crispy, remove and serve with creamy blue cheese, celery sticks, and carrots. As Mr. Tom hails from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, he always has a refrigerator full of ice-cold Yuengling to share with his good buddies.

Monty the filet mignon man visits his friendly butcher, where he is known to buy prime beef cut 2 inches thick. After sprinkling with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, he fires up the grill to blazing hot. He times his steak and grills 4 minutes on each side. Monty serves his beef with specially baked potatoes, or French fries and a Caesar salad.

The secret?

He says, “There is no secret. I visit my butcher, and watch as he cuts me a slab of meat to suit the occasion.”

So what’s for dessert? Of course I include a fruit platter. But then I add a selection of ice cream in flavors of coffee, chocolate, and Cherry Garcia. Guests help themselves to hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, and jimmies.

Tell me, what could be better? Happy Holiday and Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No Imitation Wine

By Maureen C. Petrosky

We’ve all heard the saying “Imitation is the best form of flattery.” Usually, I try to steer clear of kitschy coined phrases but this one has to be addressed. If this quote is indeed true, why is it that my reaction is the total opposite of what it should be?

This week, upon visiting one of my dearest friends, I observed identical decor to mine, and the feeling was far from flattering. In fact, it was much more like a sucker punch. It’s the same way I feel when my sister buys the exact same clothes as me. The first time it happens I grin and pretend to be flattered but what if it continually occurs? Maybe it’s your car, your job, or a hobby that acts as your personal outlet for creative expression. I take care to put a lot of me, not to mention special family heirlooms and sentimental items, into my home, my gardens, and, though you may not be able to tell if you stop by unannounced, my wardrobe. It’s one thing to copy the pages of Pottery Barn, it’s quite another to chip away at someone’s identity. If we all are the same than nothing seems special. Which got me to thinking about wine.

There is plenty of wine out there that merely falls into the category of “wine”. Maybe a silly label or fun name graces the bottle but the contents go no further than potable fermented juice from grapes. This type of wine is what I deem imitation. It forgets all about the magic. Last night as I cracked into a chilled bottle of Albarino I was expecting a light, easy drinking, fairly non-descript white wine from Portugal or Spain. After one sip of Verdemar, I was floating on air. True, it was white and from Spain but it was far from non-descript. In fact, both my husband and I continued to describe this wine sip after sip. That is truly unique in a wine. It was not surprising we loved it, as we knew it passed through the hands of one of our all-time favorite winemakers; Maria Martinez- Sierra. She puts herself into her wine and every glass shows her style.

It paired perfectly with grilled shrimp and a crisp Caesar salad with toasted Challah croutons. This is no imitation wine. It’s special, like my friend mentioned above--who I know will forgive my gripe once I deliver a bottle of Verdemar to her back door.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Race for a Cause

By Brianne Harrison

I ran my very first 5K this weekend. I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up—I did it because I wanted a challenge, and because I wanted to support the race’s charity (animal shelters). With a mid-May date, I figured the weather would be nice, and this would be a good opportunity to get out, work out, and do some good, all in one fell swoop.

I should probably say that I’m not particularly athletic. When I was in grade school, I wasn’t even capable of running a full mile without stopping to walk from time to time. But since then I’ve started going to the gym and hitting the elliptical, so I figured I’d gotten to the point where I could handle a 5K. I trained for a few weeks on the treadmill, but to be honest, my only goal was not embarrassing myself. Thankfully, I didn’t—I did much better than I expected, and perhaps more importantly, I had a really great time doing it.

I can see now why people get addicted to these races—they’re fun! Although Sunday’s weather wasn’t as cooperative as we’d hoped, a certain party atmosphere reigned. The group was very mixed—all ages, all fitness levels—and there was no pressure. We weren’t there for glory (well, most of us weren’t) or to show off, we were there to raise money for a good cause and get a bit of a workout in. People brought their dogs and their baby joggers; most ran, but some walked, and that was fine. You don’t have to be an athlete to participate in these.

Once the good weather hits, it seems like there’s a 5K a week (usually several, actually), so if you’re so inclined to try one out, chances are there’s one near you coming up soon. You can even pick and choose your charities—there are 5K’s in support of animals, autism and all kinds of cancer research, and local organizations. Not sure how to prep? Here’s what I did:

1. Get some training in at least a few weeks in advance. I started off running on the treadmill, gradually working up from 2 miles to 3.5 (which is slightly longer than a 5K distance), about three weeks before my race. If you’re not used to running, start at 1 mile and work your way up.
2. Get off the treadmill and run outside a few times. Running on terrain is much different from running on the treadmill, and you’ll want to get used to the feeling. If you have any old injuries or body parts that give you trouble, you’ll want to make sure your body’s up for this as well.
3. Get a good music playlist together. This may not be for everyone, but many runners had their iPods going. I personally find music very motivating and created a playlist of upbeat songs with motivating lyrics especially for the race. A great song you may not have thought of? Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing. This one starts off my playlist perfectly and always brings a smile to my face.

Have any training tips or favorite tunes? Feel free to comment. My next race will probably be the 5K in Stockton on June 7. Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, May 18, 2009

All About (Restaurant) Eve

By Pat Tanner

Actually, a little bit about it. It’s impossible to squeeze into one post all there is to say about Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. But I can tempt you with tasty tidbits from a recent dinner, one that amply demonstrated why Chef Cathal was nominated this year for a Beard award as best chef in the Mid-Atlantic.

Tidbit #1: A starter listed simply as “OOO.” “Oh-oh-oh” is what you gasp while downing the gossamer puff pastry shell (the chef’s mother’s recipe). Inside, cavorting in light cream sauce, are fat, sassy oysters, caramelized cipollini onions, and – wait for it – Osetra caviar.

Tidbit #2: Homemade pasta of a shape I haven’t encountered before – carmelle (reminiscent of taffy wrappers) – made with stinging nettle. (It doesn’t sting when cooked, and it provides a wonderful “green” taste - kind of like spinach.) The pasta gets tossed with roasted abalone mushrooms and housemade ricotta. Whoa.

Tidbit #3: Lamb loin with Moroccan spices. To be precise: Pan-roasted Shenandoah lamb loin with green olives, cipollini, pine nuts, and tagine spice jus. Nuff said.

Tidbit #4: The cheese course. How can you beat Tete De Moine shaved paper-thin on a girolle so that the resulting ruffled curlicues do, in fact, resemble the trumpet mushrooms for which the implement is named? You up the ante by pairing it with golden raisin jam and baby carrot salad.

Tidbit #5: It’s not that the thin layers of vanilla and chocolate cake spread with pistachio icing aren’t wonderful on their own, but when sommelier Todd Thrasher pairs this dessert with Malmsey Madeira from The Rare Wine Company, it reminds you why food and wine pairing should never be left to amateurs.

There is more – so much more – to dining here. Every sense is engaged and ultimately pleased. To discover ALL about Restaurant Eve, check it out for yourself.

110 South Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA