Category Archives: Writing

on the occasions when i have something to say, not cook

Appetite comes with tweeting…

This is less of a blog entry and more of a public service. When you follow restaurants and other food-related businesses on twitter, let it be at your own risk! It’s bad enough following and chatting with my fellow foodies during the day as we get to trade tips and deals back and forth, but I’m also following a few local restaurants and therein lies the trouble.

Flat-iron steak pizza from Matchbox

After surviving a birthday happy hour last night for Thrifty DC Cook and the subsequent 2-for-1 cocktails at Halo, I was sort of slugging through the day with a serious craving for pizza. So I thought I might knock off over to Matchbox on Barracks Row for lunch. Since I’m following their twitter account: @MatchboxDC, I noticed their daily posted soup and pizza specials and there was no question I’d be heading over. After a failed plan to meet up with some friends, I aimed to head out on my own, but some co-workers decided to come along with.

Continue reading Appetite comes with tweeting…

100 Restaurant No-Nos?

I was waiting for this list to be complete before saying anything about it. NYT writer/blogger Bruce Buschel has written a list of 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do in two parts:

New York Times Herewith is a modest list of dos and don’ts for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building. Veteran waiters, moonlighting actresses, libertarians and baristas will no doubt protest some or most of what follows. They will claim it homogenizes them or stifles their true nature. And yet, if 100 different actors play Hamlet, hitting all the same marks, reciting all the same lines, cannot each one bring something unique to that role?

Even though he only seems to mention servers in his introduction, I would note that some of these items aren’t solely the server’s responsibility even if the customers are inclined to only blame the server for them. Still there are a lot of good points and it makes you wonder when our expectations as diners are either too high or when they’ve become too low.

Some of my favorites:

  • Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.
  • Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.
  • Do not bring judgment with the ketchup. Or mustard. Or hot sauce. Or whatever condiment is requested.
  • Do not serve salad on a freezing cold plate; it usually advertises the fact that it has not been freshly prepared.
  • Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change.

I’m usually never a fan of “blog entries” that just consist of lists, but these two articles seem fairly well thought out, if a bit heavily weighted on the side of the patron. And 100 items does seem a lot, though after reading them through, there’s a lot of common sense mixed in with general hospitality rules. Still, I’m not going to keep this list in my pocket and judge my dining server experiences by it!

Why food, of all things?

So why, after more than 10 years of blogging at various sites and domains have I decided to create a spin-off for food? Easy answer: Why not?

The results of a recent trip to the farmers market

Seriously though, with all of the geeky things I do in life, it has always seemed odd–especially to my family–why food seemed to emerge as and eventually match many of my other hobbies in terms of importance. When I was a kid, my main concern was that we never ran out of peanut butter and jelly, but the potato chips always had to be Lay’s. In high school, I took cues from my mother who–bless her–wasn’t always the greatest cook. She has her standards, and some items she excels at, many things picked up from her mother, but realistically she had the “working mother/wife” role, so churning out 5-star meals wasn’t high on her list of priorities. When I went to college, I was all about Top Ramen at first, but slowly started to notice other things in the store–canned items, mostly, but it was a start. My roommates were most impressed when I added real shredded cheese to the blue box Kraft mix.

I can’t really say when the food bug bit me after college, but before I tackled proper recipes, most of the dishes were just applied knowledge of what goes with what. Not a very impressive statement for someone who’s “top dish” at that point was oatmeal, but you have to start somewhere. Along the way I tried more things, usually just for myself, though I noticed that everyone loves baked goods! Many people say that once they realize they can make bacon at home, there’s no need to leave the house again. For me that food item would be cheesecake. Well… steak too. In any case, enough about my cooking history. If you’ve read my other blog, you know that my cooking experiments have their measures of success and failure, but they’re all fun.

That’s what I’m hoping you’ll most find here: an appreciation of the fun of cooking, the joy that we all find in food, pictures and reviews of my food and that of others, and you might just learn something along the way!