Dinner at Home — 8 January 2012

Because January in Washington offers so many intriguing dining possibilities–“Oh life is a glorious cycle of song!”–I don’t do much cooking at home that month.  This was my first major production of the year, the entree for a Sunday dinner.

Roast Chicken with Red Grapes, Caramelized Pearl Onions, and Port Pan GravyRoast Chicken with Red Grapes, Caramelized Pearl Onions, and Port Pan Gravy

I’m fond of chicken, but I’d never made this one before.  I started with a full chicken, cut up, which gave me plenty of leftovers.  I also doubled the amount of port suggested in the recipe, and I think that worked well.  Come to think of it, I’ve never spoiled a dish by adding too much wine.

The recipe came from the Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago via Serious Eats.

Coming Attractions

Nicholas Hoult in Warm BodiesNew shots of Nicholas Hoult in Warm Bodies as the world’s hottest zombie were released this week.  The film opens 10 August. (A Book Lover’s Diary)

Hunger Games tickets go on sale on 22 February. (HLN TV)

Rob Marshall, who directed Chicago, Nine, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, will direct a film adaptation of Into the Woods for Disney. I’m not a big musical fan, but I’ve loved this one ever since I saw the road tour when it played at the Kennedy Center in the late 80s. (Deadline Hollywood)

The charming and consistently underrated Psych will be back for a 7th season. (TV Guide)

BlackSalt – Wednesday, 11 January 2012

BlackSalt, which is on the Washingtonian‘s “100 Very Best” list, was my second Winter Restaurant Week stop.  You enter the restaurant through a small market stocked with wonderful fresh fish.  The dining area is rather small, and, since BlackSalt is v popular,  the noise level can get a bit high.  Minimalist decor, and an exposed kitchen.

BlacksaltBlacksalt

BlackSalt is in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, at 4883 MacArthur Boulevard.

Rhode Island Calamari with Chipotle RemouladeRhode Island Calamari with Chipotle Remoulade

A few years ago, I made a resolution not to order calamari as an appetizer, for the simple reason that I was always ordering calamari as an appetizer.  Another resolution down the drain.  This was good.

Provencal Seafood Stew - Market Catch, Gulf Shrimp, Blue Shell Mussels, and Saffr

Provencal Seafood Stew – Market Catch, Gulf Shrimp, Blue Shell Mussels, and Saffron

Key Lime Pie with Blueberry Compote and Whipped Cream

Key Lime Pie with Blueberry Compote and Whipped Cream

This wins the “Best Dessert Award” by a mile!

What I’m Reading

Ha'PennyHa’Penny

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Cliveden Set

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14K – Monday, 9 January 2012

It’s the beginning of Restaurant Week in Washington, and I’ve got a full schedule.  First up is 14 K Restaurant and Lounge, which is located at the corner of 14th and K Streets, NW in the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel.  The restaurant fronts on Franklin Park, and, as I dined, I could watch the park being dusted with a light snowfall.

Shrimp, Virginia Oyster and Crab Gumbo

Shrimp, Virginia Oyster and Crab Gumbo

This was a perfect starter for lunch on a wintery day. The broth was rich and the seafood was excellent.

Chargrilled Chimichurri Flank Steak on Spanish Rice, with Pinto Bean Pudding and Pico De Gallo

Chargrilled Chimichurri Flank Steak on Spanish Rice, with Pinto Bean Pudding and Pico De Gallo

Chimichurri is a sauce, or, in this case, a marinade, that’s made from tomato, bell pepper, parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, red pepper and various other spices. It’s originally from Argentina. Pico de gallo is a salsa made from tomatoes, onions, chilis, lime, cucumber and cilantro. I’d never had pinto bean pudding before, and mistakenly thought it would be bland. The entire dish was delightful.

Lemon Riccotta Cake with Candied Rose Petals

Lemon Riccotta Cake with Candied Rose Petals

The size of the plate makes the lemon riccotta cake look deceptively small.  Both the cake and the plate were oversized.  This was a killer dessert.

This was my first time at 14K, and it was a great start for RW.

An Afternoon at Botanic Garden

The Conservatory at the Botanic Garden is one of my favorite places to spend a winter afternoon.  Most winters, I visit it at least once a month.  But this winter in Washington has, so far, been the mildest in memory, and, like revenge, tropical plants are best served cold.


The Jungle at Botanical Garden


A view of the jungle floor, from the second level

The palms in the jungle touch the ceiling



If you’d like to believe that I shimmied up one of the trees to take this picture, I won’t disabuse you.

A corner of the Orchid Room

The orchid section at Conservatory is one of the smallest rooms, but it’s one of my favorites.

Cymbidium Pebbles ‘Santa Barbara’

Let’s Get Started — Restaurant Week and Beyond

A friend of mine–a semi-hardcore foodie–sneers at Restaurant Week. “I avoid it,” she says. “It’s for amateurs.” I haven’t asked her if she’s changed her mind after reading that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, along with a group of White House staff, selected the Restaurant Week menu at Charlie Palmer Steak during their visit a few days ago.

This year, Washington Winter Restaurant Week runs from Monday, 9 January, through Sunday, 15 January. Many restaurants extend the celebration through the 22nd, and some celebrate all month. As Washington Restaurant Week winds down, Bethesda/Chevy Chase Restaurant Week takes off, running from Monday, 23 January through Sunday, 29 January. For some of us, this makes January a wonderful time to explore new places and return to old friends. It also gives me an easy segue to launch this, my first attempt at a blog.

I’ll be posting a lot of food pictures at the start, along with brief write-ups of Things I Like, notes on Coming Attractions, and interesting sites on the Web. It’s all a work in progress, so lets see where it goes.

–BC