Tag Archives: food

Friday, I’m in Love: Cupcakes!

Happy New Year!… if a bit late, and happy returns… to blogging? Been a bit of a rough year, but there’s no way to get back to writing than to just do it! And what better way to do that than with a Friday treat? In fact, I plan to try and treat myself every Friday, hence this new “Friday, I’m in Love” series–thank you Robert Smith. It might be going out, staying in, but it will be a nice way to force myself to post something at least weekly, but I digress…

Curbside Cupcakes food truck I had earned a short day at the office today and was planning on a very quick walk to metro to get out of the cold. Since I was passing at lunchtime, the food trucks were out in force at Canal Park. Normally, I don’t bother stopping because of the cold and the lines, but fortune was smiling upon me as Curbside Cupcakes, one of my favorite trucks happened to be out there and how better to treat myself than to a ½ dozen cupcakes paired with some ice cold milk–or hot espresso–at home?

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Jacques Pépin: How to Mark a Grilled Steak

One of the many things that apartment-dwelling cooks have to live with is that we often can’t grill whenever we’d like. Some of us may have access to communal grills–as I currently do now. However, ours isn’t always well-maintained so that when I am in the mood to grill, I have to factor in additional time to make sure the grill is as clean as I want before getting started. Or I’m sharing space with someone else and our food is crowding up the grates jockeying for space. Thankfully the trusty grill pan satisfies nearly all needs. There won’t be flames licking at the surface of the food, but it’s a good compromise for achieving the look and cooking method… and you get to do it in air-conditioned comfort!

About the only thing I keep having trouble with is getting that nice cross-hatch grill mark pattern on the food. For some reason, I never turn at quite the right angle, or flip in the right direction and often just settle for the single diagonal stripe approach rather than mess up the look. Sure, the food still tastes great, but sometimes you do want to show off just a little. And last weekend while catching an episode of Essential Pépin devoted to beef, Jacques briefly went through the steps of getting the perfect pattern… in a grill pan!

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Ice Sculpting… not just for weddings anymore!

I admit that I have pretty much given up on Food Network. In terms of programming, I will watch Barefoot Contessa, Good Eats and perhaps any rerun of a Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver show–both of which are now found more on The Cooking Channel. Nothing else interests me because they’ve just about gotten rid of every show that might remotely show you how to cook in a manner that makes it seem accessible. Any knowledgeable host was given the boot and replaced with a “celebrity chef” that’s more about food as a lifestyle. To a point, I was willing to accept this as simply part of changing trends. Food is something that a lot more people are paying attention to these days, whether for health reasons, political reasons or because they’re becoming foodies. Still, watching the step-by-step/recipe shows give way to travel shows, I Love the [decade] style shows about where their hosts have eaten, restaurant rehab programs and a show that examined/busted food myths–busting myths… where have I heard something like that before?–signified that it was no longer about the food. But at the least each new non-cooking show had at least the tiniest root in food & dining… until now.

Ice Brigade is a new show airing in March on Food Network. When I first heard the title, I thought it would be a new show on either History or Discovery Channel, but no, it’s a “food” show:

Ice Brigade follows Michigan-based chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by developing original designs that defy the imagination. To these frozen outlaws, the standard wedding swans are simply huge ice cubes. The real thrill of their bone-chilling craft is to make life-sized and interactive creations like pool tables, bowling lanes, grand pianos, carousels and putt-putt courses. Armed with chain saws, chisels and sledge hammers, each episode features Randy and crew sculpting rock-solid ice blocks into out-of-this world art and delivering them to awestruck clients. No matter the job or locale, the mission remains the same: get the job done, before it all melts away.

I dunno about you, but that picture of a guy with snappy headwear, a chainsaw and a sledgehammer just screams “I have a new show on Food Network”… right? And I don’t discount the attractive inexpensive quality of a “documentary/reality show” but watching an ice sculpture company’s trials, tribulations and triumphs doesn’t exactly shout “food television” to me. Yes, ice sculpting is considered a culinary art, but I fear the direction things are going when a programming executive says, “Hey, you know ‘Ace of Cakes’? Why don’t we just make a bunch more shows like that?” picking the businesses to follow at random just like Bewitched‘s writers would choose what Endora would turn Darrin into on that week’s episode.

It isn’t that I don’t like reality shows–as it happens, I can’t stand them–but when Food Network still owns the rights to show their entire back catalog starring actual chefs and noted food writers it seems silly that, in an effort to maintain a “full” programming slate, they’d seek out new and loosely-food-related shows to put on instead. I suppose this falls under the category of “guy programming” which many networks–who were made popular by their female viewing demographic–are now trying to appeal to for… truck ads? I have no idea. But I suppose it’s a good thing that this show is airing just as Winter is over, otherwise we’d probably be hearing about a bunch of emergency room visits due to chainsaw slippage and sledgehammer bruises!

Cochon 555

5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers, one cause: to raise awareness for heritage breeds and family owned farms. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may wish to look away now…

I don’t really have the words to describe it. Some people call the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner the Nerd Prom, well Cochon 555 is the Pork Prom, no doubt about it. Pork based dishes, desserts and drinks, some amazing wineries, a demonstration where Butcher Ryan Farr completely… butchered a 216-pound pig. I was lucky enough to attend with Adventures in Shaw, One Bite at a Time and Not Derby Pie. We also ran into food bloggers The Bitten Word.

It was hard to pick a favorite, but I managed to cast my vote–and then maybe have a few more nibbles. Of the competing chefs: R.J. Cooper of Vidalia, Joe Palma of Westend Bistro, Daniel Singhofen of Eola, Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana, and David Varley of Bourbon Steak, it was Varley of Bourbon Steak who was declared the winner. Honestly though, all of us in attendance were the winners. I’m sort of glad I’m fasting for a hospital visit today because I still don’t have any room after last night!

New Capitol Riverfront Market

Per a press release from the Capitol Riverfront BID, a new market is on the way this May!

The new Capitol Riverfront Market, offering fresh produce and locally prepared foods, will open Thursday, May 6th and operate from 3 pm to 7 pm weekly through November at the intersection of New Jersey Ave., SE & M St., SE, adjacent to the Navy Yard Metro (New Jersey Ave exit). Entrance to the market is on M St., SE.

Every Thursday, the Capitol Riverfront will transform into a festive marketplace with over ten local farmers and vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and baked goods, herbs and spices, pickles, olive oil, jams, honey, desserts, flowers, prepared foods and more. The fresh food market is presented by the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District and Diverse Markets Management, in partnership with The Donohoe Company.

This is very exciting news for the residents of this area who haven’t really been served very well in terms of local markets. There are some fast food places, a nearby gourmet foods store and a bar/cafe just opened up, but the best options for produce have been either Eastern Market or the new Safeway at the Waterfront Metro station. Neither one is far away, and both make for a great walk on the weekend when you’ve time to spare, but in terms of an after-work shopping trip, navigating the metro can be a bit of a pain–dealing with commuting crowds when you just want to pick up some items for dinner!

I’m optimistic with a drop of pessimism. The Capitol Riverfront BID has tried a market before and it didn’t do so well. In fact, it didn’t even last a day. That market was aimed more at general shopping–gifts for the season, etc.–than just food, but I’ve seen at least one merchant at another market and he seemed hesitant to give them another try. Still, this area has plenty of residents and I hope they can make this a success. I know I’ll be stopping by to check it out next Thursday!