Get into the autumn spirit and go apple picking!

No season has a flavor palette like fall. The autumn staples of cinnamon, nutmeg, spiced cider, apples, butternut squash and pumpkin are virtually sacrilegious in any other season. Needing my autumn food fix early, I ventured out to Homestead Farm this weekend to go apple picking. So many apple varieties, so little time.

SPY and the gang apple picking. Just swell!

Homestead Farm is a family-owned farm in Poolesville, MD. You will need a car to get there. The farm showcases many varieties of apples, with the rows of trees signed with their variety (I preferred Braeburn and Cameo to Pink Ladies and Fuji, but to each his own). The process is simple: you just grab a basket and head out picking. You are charged by weight. In addition to apple trees, the farm has a pumpkin patch, farm animals and a general store filled with  mixes and spreads. Here are some lovely pictures:

Most pictures are from Homestead’s website. Forgot my camera!

EXHALE. It’s a breath of fresh air to get out of the city for a bit. The general store sells caramel apples if you want a snack, and Rocklands Farm sells more produce right down the road (on Montevideo Drive, right next to the one-car bridge). It felt like autumn and it didn’t feel like DC, which was a welcome change for a day. Check it out!

Homestead Farm, 15604 Sugarland Road, Poolesville, Maryland 20837

Will you still eat chicken nuggets knowing they are made from this…

It’s true. The pink taffy-like substance you see being machined into an unlined cardboard box is actually CHICKEN. Mechanically-separated effing CHICKEN. It is what you get when you put all the terrible parts of chicken into a blender and is what all chicken nuggets on earth are made of.

Picture and full article from Gizmodo (check it out!)

Don’t believe me? Jamie Oliver, in his 5000th attempt to transform the diets of American youth, actually made this chicken paste on his show. He blended a chicken (no, not a live chicken idiot) into this chewing gum like substance in front of children to show them where their food comes from. He then used that paste to make a nugget and asked the kids to raise their hands if they would eat it. Observe:

Did they eat it? Of course they did. Why? Because chicken nuggets are delicious. And as the kids said, they were hungry. Jamie Oliver was stunned. The rest of America wasn’t.

This obviously begs the question: knowing that your nuggets come from…that, will you still eat them? Would your decision change if they were… hypothetically… treated with ammonia and other chemicals to ensure that they were sanitary, to then be artificially flavored to taste like chicken again? Leave your answer in the comments. As for your fair SPY, all I will say is that nuggets are delicious. Very delicious. Especially if they are in dinosaur shapes.

Thanks to Casey for the tip!

All DC food trucks in one place? For two full days? Sign me up

This event read my mind. This Thursday and Friday, the Department of Consumer and Affairs (DCRA), in partnership with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities,Brightest Young Things, and the Downtown BID, is hosting the District’s first annual Curbside Cookoff. The event will be held at CityCenterDC, the site of the old Washington Convention Center, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days.

The event is festival-like, with music and booths. However, the most important thing here is FOOD TRUCKS. Every food truck you have wanted to try will likely be there, including, Red Hook Lobster Truck, District Taco, Eat Wonky, Pedro and Vinny’s Burrito Cart, Fry Captain, TakoreanDC Slices, Yellow Cart and Curbside Cupcakes and at least 11 others. The full list is here.

I know that the event violates the essence of the twittering food truck, but for people like me, it’s perfect. Honestly, I am incapable of twitter-following a food truck. My only hope of eating at a food truck is if it parks right in front of me and somehow captures my goldfish-like attention. I will never think enough in advance to actually find a food truck and am one of the laziest people around. It’s sometimes just easier to eat the soggy sandwich in front of my face.

So my non-tweeting, non-planning, lazy brethren, go to the curbside cookoff! It’s not like you couldn’t use a lobster roll on a Friday afternoon.

Fusion: A surprisingly intimate Indian restaurant in Petworth

Fusion is such an odd little restaurant. It is located up Georgia Avenue, just far enough from the Petworth metro station that it can’t be deemed quite metro accessible. Sandwiched between Hong Kong Take Out Chinese restaurant on one side and a tax services joint on the other, Fusion is a quaint sit down eatery on a pretty rough Petworth block. I must admit that when I first came to Fusion, armed with a Groupon and self-congratulatory pride for going out of my comfort zone, I had my doubts.

Exterior (via google maps)

However, I was happily surprised by Fusion. The restaurant was very cozy inside with low lighting and a very prettily lit bar area. There were about 4 other couples in the place, which definitely exudes a date atmosphere. The host was exceptionally gracious and attentive, the young waiter perhaps a little less so, but he was a kid so I didn’t mind much. It felt very warm and comfortable inside.

terrible photo of a very cute interior

The food was also very good. I stuck mostly to curries based on the host’s recommendation. I got the green chili chicken, lamb pista kurma, and the dal makhani. The green chili chicken had great kick and flavor and the pistachio-based kurma served as a delicious complement. The kurma wasn’t spicy, but it wasn’t supposed to be. If you want it spicy, I would just ask (asking is my rule of thumb with DC ethnic food in general).

The only average dish was the lentils (dal makhani), which could have used a bit more flavor. The naan was also just standard, although I am completely devoted to Sacrificial Lamb’s naan. Fusion even has good vegetarian and vegan options, for the non-meat inclined.

Finally, the music is endearingly hilarious.

Ground control to major Tom: curry is delicious

I assume it is someone’s ipod or playlist, but it started out all Counting Crows, then skipped to all David Bowie. Reading other yelp reviews, it seems they play all sorts of stuff, picking one random artist, like George Michael for example, and committing. I respect the commitment.  The music added a personal touch to the experience.

So bottom line, is Fusion the best Indian food in DC? No, but it is mighty good. So dear readers, support this little Petworth pioneer and take a date there. You will gain adventure-points by taking said date off the standard NW grid, enjoy delicious Indian snacks, and maybe even experience some quality Michael Bolton along the way.

Fusion Restaurant
4815 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20011

Boulevard Woodgrill and the Changing Face of Clarendon

So right out of college I lived in Clarendon.  I lived in a massive group house in this bizarre attic space, where I paid $500 bucks a month and was eternally waging war against THESE. Yes, it was a sh*thole.  At my lowest, I watched the same video for 2 weeks on my computer, no internet, sitting on a box, and ceded half my room to one of those things. Well it wasn’t my absolute lowest. That was either when I managed to get locked INSIDE my house (our locks deadbolted from the inside) and scared the living hell out of a poor delivery man, OR when I was suddenly evicted from said house in December. Awful. 

it puts the mushu in the doggy door

 Anyways, back then, my go-to “eating out” restaurant was the Boulevard Woodgrill. Since I am a slave to routine, it still is today. Boulevard Woodgrill is on the Clarendon main drag. The decor has a bit of a steakhouse feel to it with big windows and entrees run about $10-$15. The restaurant is named for its technique of cooking dishes on a wood grill, something that I failed to piece together until last week despite the 72502096 references to it on their menu. The fish and chips, mac n’ cheese, lamb salad, ribs, meatloaf and salmon are some menu standouts. DELICIOUS. And yes, notice all the best dishes are hearty and most have meat. It’s a carnivore’s place. Sorry PETA. 

 

Despite only opening in 2002, it is also among the old guard in a rapidly changing Clarendon. You see, Clarendon was always know for its village-like atmosphere. Small stores, low buildings, walkable shopping etc. However it seems that intimacy is eroding. The area is awash in copycat brick and tan high rise construction projects and chain restaurants, while the entire “village-y” strip of small shops on Wilson between Garfield and Highland has been torn down and replaced by another high rise space. It looks frankly, like Ballston. Sigh. And so many of us lived in Clarendon exactly because it wasn’t Ballston. 

Ballston. I mean, Clarendon

Hopefully Clarendon is able to retain it’s identity amidst this development push.  But who knows. Seeing that new building was the saddest I had been since the closing of Dr. Dremo’s in Courthouse. And that was a goddamn tragedy. Here’s to hope!

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week on now! (July 26-August 1)

I know dear reader(s), I gave you no advanced notice of Bethesda’s Restaurant Week. It is, err, right now. OH well. Serves you right for depending on this blog for “news.” Anyways, for this entire week, select Bethesda and Chevy Chase restaurants will be offering $12-$15  two course lunches and $30 three course dinners. Prices do not include drinks, taxes or gratuity. Opentable has details.

You know where these pics are from. And yes, CLICK the larger version

Ironcityspy has already taken advantage of this poor man’s service and is currently bragging about it. He went to LIA’s for lunch and got a delicious minute steak and a canoli for $15, which is about half price. I got a mediocre soup and salad from the office cafeteria for like $10, which I then ate in my windowless cube. He finds this disparity amusing. No, I am obviously not happy for him. Jesus. Would you be?

lunch environ comparison: Lia’s vs. windowless cube

Anyways, you should go to Bethesda’s Restaurant Week. One-up Ironcity’s magnificent lunch. Please. For the DC spy community. We will covertly thank you.

(OH and also check out Alexandria’s Restaurant Week. Since I refuse to make the same mistake twice, it is from August 20-29, 2010. Over 60 restaurants are offering $35 for a three-course dinner or dinner for two. Details here!)

New Food Trucks in DC, how to find them, and other District News

Food trucks keep rolling into the District! Over the next few months, three (maybe even four!) new food trucks are set to join the DC fleet. The first is EatWonky, a Canadian food truck that specializes in poutine, a Quebecois favorite of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Yes, via careful installation of a deep fryer on a truck, EatWonky is bringing us their signature Wonkyfries as well as a Wonkydog, an All American hot dog with poutine fixins, and a grilled cheese sandwich with gravy. It hits the DC streets August 16th.

Poutine (from Canada!) via Joey DeVilla

Next on the list is FryCaptain, another fry truck (sans poutine) that lets you choose your fries, seasoning and dipping sauce, then wash it down with one of their signature milkshakes. They also serve all their sodas from glass bottles, which is a nice touch. Rounding out the food trucks is CapMac, which will specialize in pasta, including, you guessed it, roving Mac n’ Cheese, and the Red Hook Lobster Pound, which may be soon lobster rolling around DC for good.

Overwhelmed? You should be. They all announce their location via twitter. However, solutions abound! Both the WLDC Food Truck Tracker and Food Truck Fiesta provide live, interactive  maps that show where food trucks are at all times. We Love DC posts the map every day before lunch while FTF is a live website. There is also a food truck list on twitter.

Finally for you regulatory (or entreprenuerial) nerds, here is an informative article on the complications of starting and running a food truck in DC. Let’s just say, regulating a moving eatery is…difficult. And for those of you still hankering for more DC news, here are some highlights:

  • The Post reports WMATA has more elevators than any other metro system in the Western Hemisphere, but unfortunately not more money. This is a problem.
  • DC Public Schools is about to fire a “sizable” number of  “ineffective” teachers. I wonder if Mr. Kimble made the cut? (Examiner). UPDATE: 241 teachers fired.
  • Hipsters vs. the neighborhood. Big Bear Cafe faces uncertain future (DCist here and here)
  • 14th Street is getting a Taqueria. Word on U Street (Girl) is that Masa 14 is behind it!

Restaurant Week and Food Porn: August 16-22, 2010

Watch out blue bloods, Restaurant Week is upon us! Yes, August 16-22, 2010 marks the start of the 16th Biannual DC Restaurant Week, the beloved time of year when we common folk are welcomed into fanciest of fancy DC restaurants, such as Bourbon Steak, Vidalia, Adour, and 2941, through strategically fixed price meals and sponsorships.  

 

You MUST click the larger version of these photos (via foodporndaily) 

Over 200 DC area restaurants are participating this year, offering a $20.10 three-course price-fixed lunch menu and a $35.10 three-course price-fixed dinner menu. Tax, tip and beverages are not included. All the restaurant and reservation information is listed on open table, and is admittedly quite daunting. However, just do your research and make your reservations early. There have to be some places you’ve been dying to try. 

 

Oh and me? I am actually missing the ENTIRE restaurant week because I will be on vacation. I KNOW. Same old staring in the window of Komi, bitterly watching the wine and laughter of its patrons. So just do restaurant week for me. I will live vicariously. 

Finally, the food pictures. They are from foodporndaily, i.e. the most delicious looking internet blog ever created. Although not DC pics, I figured that would help set the restaurant mood. Unlike the food “porn” cookie photo I attempted to take on my iphone, which just depressed me further.

saddest cookie in the cubicle

Happy Restaurant Week!

(UPDATE: Apparently the restaurant links did not work at first. Stupid stupid internet. They work now. Thanks to Matt for the heads up. Apologies!)

Into the Deep Freeze: Baskin Robbins retires 5 flavors

I know. It’s tough news. On Sunday, June 18th, ‘National Ice Cream Day’ as invented by Ronald Reagan, Baskin Robbins decided to ruin the ice-cream joy by announcing it was retiring 5 flavors. The final shipments of these flavors have already been sent out. Once they are depleted, the flavors will join the likes of Miami Ice,  Saxy Candidate,  and Charlie Brownie in the “Deep Freeze” retirement community. They will be replaced with 5 new ones.

Ice to see you

The discontinued flavors are: Caramel Praline Cheesecake (1970), Campfire S’mores (1975), Apple Pie a La Mode (1976), Superfudge Truffle (2007) and French Vanilla (1945). You read it right. Baskin Robbins is discontinuing goddamn french vanilla ice cream.

Custard's last stand

Have I ever ordered French Vanilla (sans sundae)? Of course not. Why would I, when there is mint chocolate chip and gold medal ribbon around? But, regardless of your preference, you can’t deny French Vanilla is America’s ice cream flavor. It’s the float in root beer float, the a la mode in apple pie a la mode, and even rose from the ashes of a goddamn Nazi defeat. FREEDOM vanilla.

Missing his flavor friends

Yes readers, it does seem some variant of plain vanilla (i.e. the WORST part of Neapolitan) will be around. But French Vanilla is superior.

And besides, you can’t tell me its worse than Rum Raisin (what am I, 95 years old?), Icing on the Cake, Cotton Candy, or Creole Cream Cheese, which all made the cut. I mean, Creole Cream Cheese stays and FRENCH VANILLA goes?? No words.

Save French Vanilla (Freedom Vanilla!) on facebook.

Thanks Robyn Fabsits for the sad cone photo and only ice cream for the vanilla cone photo!

DC beats out all hippy cities for most “veg friendly” title

lamb + model - dignity

DCist reports the DC was named the most “veg-friendly” city in North America (as in vegetarian, not vegan) by PETA , beating out every hippy city imaginable to the title. How? No idea. PETA did not list any criteria or methodology, opting to replace such details with political puns about food instead. Somebody has been watching too much Top Chef:

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