It’s Springtime! Phew. Time to come out of unnecessary hibernation and enjoy the sunshine that forgot about winter.
Also time to bust out the spring ingredients.
St. Patrick’s Day meant a need for me to buy green sneakers, pin green feathers to my hair, and stroll out into my neighborhood beer garden (yes, I had that, be jeaous) in my flowery summer dress that’s usually reserved for one or two months of summer.
While I had rice whisky treats as an easy-peesey recipe in my head all ready to go for St. Patty’s kickball, my baking instinct just wasn’t quenched with the crushing on oozing of rice cereal and marshmallows.
Enter all natural spring ingredients and a real challenge: strawberry basil cupcakes.
As I dreamed (literally) of what I wanted to make, smells from a previous “Iron Chef” battle basil (we triumphed, but that is another story) wafted in and I knew I needed to find a way to incorporate basil and strawberry into a brunch food. Muffins!
Google search turned back cupcakes. So, like a champ, I worked with what they gave me.
Here is the recipe from “Flour on her Nose”
Below, you’ll see my glorious, dream-like, adaptation muffins.
The key to the above recipe (and dreaminess) is the mixture of milk and sour cream to add in moisture, and the inclusion of actual fruit in the
cupcake muffin. Subtract the balsamic frosting because you are lazy like me and like to pretend muffins are cupcakes and…
marvel at your springtime mastery.
When a friend tells you to drop everything and pull up an exclusive chair at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C. to the tune of 24 courses with pairings, you don’t question it. You just venture to Blagden Alley and follow your nose (or in this case the smoke from an outdoor barbecue) to a large wooden door and a expertly simple dining room.
Add in the part where a friend tells you celebrity chef Tim Byres (Chef/Owner of Smoke in Dallas) will execute the Rogue 24 menu and filter in some of his best barbecue flavors as part of Rogue’s “Sessions” (a chance for Rogue’s owner R.J. Cooper to step away from his kitchen and undergo open heart surgery.) Then sampling the delights of Rogue 24 is an exclusive chair you can’t refuse.
Byres did justice to Cooper’s reputation with a menu that could school any foodie with its breadth of ingredients and creative flavor combinations. Take Rogue’s take on baba ghanoush: eggplant, yogurt, benne, and sumac served deconstructed and ready for your pita utensil to sop it up.
Or perhaps dessert is more your thing? Well they had that too; a full three courses worth. Green mango, peanut butter, cilantro, and coconut helped cruise us in to the end of our dining experience without overfilling us.
To get through 24 courses, including a bite of pig whose diet just before slaughter was only chestnuts and smokey broths filling bowls of clams, you have to concentrate (and document with pictures) but you can get there. Don’t worry. I have faith in you. That’s us mid-meal below…
Our experience lasted over four hours as we heard about each dish personally from every chef in the room and watched their work in the centrally-located kitchen. Byres visited our table at least three times to check on our progress. With snails, sea urchin, oxtail, and jellied everything arriving at our table, we progressed just fine.
Want to know more? My best advice is to drop everything and go to a session if you can. Follow your nose down Blagden Alley and get some bragging material. Either that, or look at my slideshow (below) and pretend you were there.
It’s not a high five, or a charity drive asking you to slide a $5 donation into the jar.
There’s something more empowering about Give 5 than bill or a hand. Each year Campaign Consultation and Eye Byte solutions hand the power of determining where to direct 5 percent of profits to employees.
With Woodberry Kitchen’s copper kettled and aproned interior as a backdrop, employees pitch and debate about deserving causes over a family-style lunch. This particular lunch incorporated spices from around the world - a big deal for a local-only eatery that limits the nuts it includes in its dishes to peanuts because they are grown in Virginia.
A handful of deserving charities will get a little more post-holiday cheer to bring them through 2012. For me: the memory of the gift (and the food!) will make this year conquerable, and wonderful.
I’ve never met a type of meat in the kitchen that I can’t prod a bit, soak in something, and then apply heat to without a semi-tasty result. Then I visited Vermont for Thanksgiving and somehow left with butcher paper bundle upon bundle of moose.
Freshly hunted, professionally butchered moose in cuts ranging from strip steak to roast is still (probably to this day) taking up two thirds of my freezer. Unwrapping the pack of skirt steak, this is what comes out:
What next? When in doubt, go with ingredients created local to the meat source. Perhaps some locally tapped maple syrup?
I also drove back from Vermont with four garlic bulbs. So I chopped, added them to the syrup with Magic Hat beer, lemon juice, and a little Asian chili sauce (In know, not very local) to a marinade before giving the moose a little bath
Marinades need time to soak, but I rarely plan my meals more than 2 hours in advance with Safeway less than 3 blocks away. Half an our later I was sauteing the moose while rushing to make cranberry sauce. Would it taste good with my mystery meat?
The answer: not really. The maple/beer/garlic marinade hardly sunk in to the slightly gamey meat. I also let the thought that this meat was once “wild” get to my head and kept it on the pan entirely too long. Whoops. I continue to be stumped by moose.
Maybe a long Guiness soak (that would require actual planning) or a moose stew. It’s possible. Maybe moose is just too cute to eat?
Are you ready? Prepare your
…Ok, guess where I am. No clue?
Still not sure? I’ll give you a hint: I’m in a room full of people. Lots of them. And some celebrities, but not your typical celebrities. Also, there was..
Yes, those are mini cotton candy sticks for dissolving in your mouth. And - thanks to the whimsical work of Xavier of the Ronald Reagan Building (hint!) - this was all part of the same dazzling and drool-worthy display. Frankly, it’s a fantastic centerpiece of said event and does not receive the kind of accolades it deserves every year.
If you don’t know where I am yet (that appeals to both my heart and stomach), perhaps this will help: That’s Mike Isabella (below), formerly of Top Chef and always of Washington, D.C.’s thriving food scene, on the big screen. On stage. Which reminds me: I need to get to Graffiato’s.
So now that we’re naming names and restaurants, if you don’t know yet, I’m at Capital Food Fight. Well, I was there on Nov. 10, 2011.
The event always leaves attendees satiated. For me, the satisfaction came from…
…supporting my (recently) former organization DC Central Kitchen, reconnecting with the amazing people that work there, eating my heart out, and remembering what DC Central Kitchen does has real heart.
And hootie hoo…
And is that?
Anthony Bourdain, Jose Andres, Spike Mendelsohn, Carla Hall, Ted Allen, Joan Nathan, and much more.
The food, the food celebrities, the chance to taste some of the best local restaurants have to offer, and the opportunity to contribute to an organization that continually looks for ways to untie the knot of hunger in this country’s stomach: it all makes this event my choice in the multi-page menu of Washington, D.C. food events.
I may be a little biased, but like trying new foods, you won’t know how good it is until you do.
Homemade,toasted marshmallow pumpkin soup. So pumped. Polished this off at Sotto Sopra (work lunch) to pumpkin load for the Halloween weekend.
Good thing I got my gourd, because not so suddenly a Wonder Woman and Starbucks mermaid joined me on N. Charles St. for Final Fridays. A bunny bouncing on stilts and these bush people (below) met us there. Was I back in San Francisco?
Nope. Not SF. Because the heat went out and I nearly froze. So… I ate pumpkin again, this time from my own kitchen.
Tunnel O’ Fudge pumpkin bundt cake helped the Ravens win. So pumped.
Love and Lasagna.
Back in the city of fog and sensory details, I found myself in a familiar foursome (plus some) as I was told.
“Join us for a dinner party at this awesome house in Haight.”
So we did. And it was everything a dinner party should be.
As much as I love food, the power of food to bring high school friends back together after two years amazes me the most.
Some lambic peach beer, cheesey lasagna, Musee D’Orsay replica clock photo shoots, and laughs later, I reluctantly left this wonderful SF house filled with the people who made me who I am.
Love all of those who made this possible.