Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eating In - Arganica

I'm going to need Google Goggles to figure out what some of this stuff is.

One of the requirements of being a modern American yuppie is to support the local foods movement by purchasing all of your produce from a farmers' market or through a community supported agriculture (CSA) cooperative (or preferably both). Shopping at Whole Foods will no longer cut it for the hardcore foodies. In order to support our transition to modern American yuppies, Kathryn and I purchased a membership to Arganica Farm Club through Deals for Deeds, which is essentially Groupon for the Subaru set.

Our Deals for Deeds purchase also included two large sampler boxes, and last week we got our first box. The box was enormous, and it was like a race with the devil for two of us to eat all these fresh fruits and vegetables before they went bad. Also, the box was loaded with things like collard greens and beets which I never eat at home (or anywhere else for that matter). This box forced me to think on my feet, try new things, and of course google recipes.

The best part is that it was delivered right to our front door from the good people at Arganica, and considering the giant amount of food and the overall quality, the costs were pretty competitive with what we spend at our grocery store (which we have to drive to). It's hard to list everything we got in this box, but you can check out the photos below for some highlights.

The sampler box.

This gives you an idea of about half of the box looks like.

Tilapia with basil and a side salad topped with cherry tomatoes, radish, carrots, and arugula.

Pot roast with boiled beets and turnip greens with ham, onions, and hot sauce.

We used the heirloom tomatoes to make caprese salad.

Here's some of the leftover roast beef dressed up with carrots, radishes, and arugula.

Tilapia (again) served with fresh green beans and collard greens. The collard greens are cooked with onions and roasted red chillies.

Pan frying the eggplant.

The handsome chef.

(It's also worth noting that we already had meat and fish in the freezer, but Arganica sells those things, too. They sell tons of stuff you can order by the item including meats, seafood, dairy, eggs, deserts(!), wine, and more. Check them out, DC friends.)

Getting Out - Ebenezer Summerville 10K (Updated 10/20/10)

Enjoying the scenery and sunshine after the race.

This Saturday we ran our first 10K race at Fort Washington National Park. The race was organized by the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church. The morning started out quite chilly, but after we started moving, the weather felt perfect. All of the racers and organizers were exceptionally friendly, and we had a great time.

We all knew it was bound to happen, but Kathryn was the first to cross the finish line in our house! The other exciting part was that we both won medals in our age groups. Kathryn was the third place finisher for women age 30-39 (I know that looks weird right?), and I was the second place finisher for men age 20-29!!!! It was a really small race and there were only two men age 20-29 in the race, but that still counts right? I say it does.

Getting ready to cross the finish line (at least four minutes behind Kathryn).

Kathryn reluctantly modeling the hardware!

After the awards ceremony, there was a fish fry.

We stopped at the National Harbor on the way home. I had been dying to check out this statue, The Awakening.

We didn't really dress for the weather, and the wind at the harbor was killing us.

At this point, my legs had had enough.

Update: Photos from the race organizers.

Picking up our race packets (in the dark because we're hardcore!)

The drill Sargent getting everyone loosened up. You can probably spot us in the very back, especially my giant, bald head.

At the starting line toward the back of the pack (we're next to the girl on the bike)

Awards ceremony, notice how impressed everyone is.

Next year, Kathryn is going to get that trophy.

Eating Out - Burgers

That's not actually us. That's Obama and Biden at Ray's Hell Burger.

Ray's Hell Burger (Burgers)

Ray's Hell Burger is probably the most famous of the burger joints in town. It's owned by one of DC's biggest restaurateurs Michael Landrum, who also owns Ray's the Steaks and Ray's the Glass. Rumor has it RHB is Obama's favorite place to eat, and he even takes visiting dignitaries. I would be willing to go there for lunch more often too, if I had a police escort from my office. We went with some friends last weekend after our ultimate frisbee game, and here's what I can remember.

  • Ray's is notoriously crowded, and lines routinely stretch down the block. We were actually able to corral a table without much hassle on a late Sunday afternoon.
  • Unlike the other burger joints, the fries weren't all that memorable. That's OK because the burgers are probably the best in town.
  • I had the Soul Burger Number One - with bacon, swiss, and sautéed mushrooms and grilled onions. Kathryn had the Big Punisher - spicy marinated burger with pepper jack, grilled jalapeños, grilled onions, and something called "piranha" sauce. Oh and we both added guacamole. Although the burger patties are unbelievable, the buns really set Ray's apart from the pack. They're firm, crispy, and topped with sesame seeds. The perfect compliment to a greasy burger!
  • Ray's has all kinds of interesting toppings which I was too nervous to try after running around in the heat for a couple of hours. Next time we go back, I'll hopefully have enough courage to try the burger topped with bone marrow or maybe the one with foie gras.

D.C. Sports - Washington Wizards

After the game.

Last week we went to the Washington Wizards' preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks, although Kathryn had to come straight from work and missed the first half. I don't get too excited about exhibition games typically, but we went to see one of our favorite Boilermakers, Chris Kramer, who is trying to make the Bucks regular season roster. Unfortunately, Kramer didn't get any time on the floor, but we still had a great time. Plus, we were able to pick up $75 for $15 on Stub Hub. That probably won't happen during regular season.

Right behind the Bucks bench.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day Trip - Baltimore

Kathryn at Faidley's Seafood

I had a day off last week, and Kathryn and I decided to make the most of it by spending the afternoon and evening in Baltimore. We went up with exactly two objectives: (1) get some tasty Baltimore regional foods and (2) check out the zoo.
  • Our first stop was historic Lexington Market. The bustling market is filled with stalls peddling seafood, fried chicken, meats, ice cream, snacks, produce, and baked goods. It's the perfect place to grab a fun lunch or to have your kids tail Stringer Bell (provided you're Jimmy McNulty in the Wire, Season 2).
  • At Lexington Market, we had lunch at the famous Faidley's Seafood. We split a bowl of clam chowder, and Kathryn tried a world famous crab cake. Both very, very delicious. I had the lake trout sandwich, which deserves it's own bullet point.
  • The lake trout sandwich is distinctively Baltimore, but it's (1) not a sandwich and (2) not lake trout. The "lake trout" is actually Atlantic whiting. If you're keeping tabs, that's neither trout nor from a lake. The fried fish is served with the bones in, resting on a slice of white bread. Thus, you have to eat it with a fork. I thought it was outstanding. Kathryn thought it was OK.
  • Faidley's sells muskrat and raccoon when in season. Who's with me?
  • We picked up another famous Baltimore treat on the way out, a small box of chocolate covered vanilla wafers called Berger cookies. I'm saving the review for a future post. You can start getting excited now.
  • We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (official name). We got to see a few animals we don't have at the National Zoo, like African elephants, rhinos, polar bears, and giraffes. The zoo was very spread out, but a lot of exhibits let you get pretty close to the animals. Check out the pictures to see what I mean...

Cookie selection at DeBaufre Bakeries. The famous "Berger Cookies" are the chocolate smothered treats at the far left, middle shelf.

Waited forever to get this picture.

Kathryn snapped this one. Best picture of the day.

You should have heard this dude purring at us.

Hello down there.

Of course the Baltimore zoo has ravens.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eating Out - Vietnamese

Bun Thit Nuong (obviously!)

Four Sisters (Vietnamese)

Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to eat Vietnamese food. It's warm and comforting. Filling but not too filling. Also, to get really good Vietnamese, I have to get in the car, and I love Sunday drives (I'm still a small town dude after all). However, when I know that I have to drive somewhere, I rarely take risks. What's the point of going somewhere and being disappointed if I know that I will like the food at another place? Like Huong Viet. The only problem is that this line of thinking has continually prevented me from trying Four Sisters, a restaurant which many claim serves the best Vietnamese food in the metro area.

  • I went to Four Sisters as sort of a self imposed requirement. It wins all sorts of awards and is on almost every "best of" list written about eating in the Metro area. Four Sisters is in a strip mall (and a nice strip mall at that). It's across from a Panera Bread and a Chipotle. At first glance, it's hard to believe this place serves decent food.
  • The thing that's interesting is that Four Sisters used to be the kind of greasy, dingy Vietnamese joint that we all expect to serve the best food in the city. Four Sisters did so well that they were able to upgrade. Who am I to get snobby about a family achieving the American dream?
  • As always, we started our meal with fresh garden rolls. I was so hungry that I was hoping Kathryn would hate hers so I could eat it (she didn't). For the main course, Kathryn and I both had the grilled pork, mine over vermicelli noodles and hers over vermicelli patties.
  • The food at Four Sisters is all very good. The ingredients were fresh, and the service was great. Although, I'm not sure we'll make the drive out again. Despite all the great qualities, it lacks the fun environment of a dinner at Eden Center.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kathryn's New Orleans Birthday Trip

Enjoying a beer on Bourbon St.

Last week Kathryn turned 30! To celebrate this milestone, we spent three nights in New Olreans. Take a look...

Muffeletta at Central Grocery. Huge fans!

We went to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee (three times in three days).

I held my promise to Kathryn by not blowing the powdered sugar all over her face while she posed for this picture.

Pat O'Brien's for hurricanes.

After a hurricane and a drink called the hand grenade Kathryn was ready to join the zydeco band.

Finished our first night at Preservation Hall. The band played two of my favorites, "The St. Louis Blues" and "St. James Infirmary."

An air boat tour swamp tour - Kathryn's reason to visit New Orleans.


The air boat driver (captain?) would feed the alligators marshmallows to get them up to the boat.

Kathryn and one of the alligators.

Boilering up in the swamp.

We tried to eat all of the mandatory New Orleans foods. Here we are enjoying some etoufee and a crawfish po boy.

The only time it rained during our trip was when we were on a carriage ride through the French Quarter.

We spent one night going from bar to bar on Bourbon St checking out all the crazies from the balconies.

Our celebration dinner was at K-Paul's. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

One of the best dinners of my life.

Our good friend Chris suggested we check out The Spotted Cat on Frenchman St. It was the most fun we had all weekend.

We went for a run around the Garden District. Here I am in front of the Belfort, home of the Real World New Orleans (season 9).

And here I am at the home of the Real World Back to New Orleans (season 24).