Monday, April 18, 2016

Restaurant Review: Founding Farmers Washington DC

Founding Farmers, about three blocks from the White House in Washington DC is a farm to table restaurant literally founded by and supported by family farmers in the North Dakota Farmer's Union. Their story is fascinating enough to make this a very popular restaurant with tourists and locals so reservations are a must for larger parties.

When I am at a restaurant with large farm tables and big buckets of yummy whirly pop kettle corn pot, ordering their vegetarian option is always the best test of the quality of the food, so I ordered the cauliflower steak with butternut barley risotto and grilled (still crunchy) broccolini.  The cauliflower steak comes with a green sauce arugula pesto. The steak itself was huge. I got a half a head of cauliflower and I barely finished. In fact I was too full for dessert.

At $16 for the plate, it's a cheap dinner for DC, especially since I didn't have a cocktail. I would have been happy with just the steak (maybe not as big) as a side too. I may try this at home although cauliflower is very expensive in Hawaii, but this NYTimes recipe for whole roasted cauliflower with almond-herb sauce is on my to make list.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Slow Love French Toast

There is fast, get the family fed cooking and then there is slow love cooking. French toast is not hard to do fast, but if you want to do some slow love cooking, get a bread like sourdough, slice it ahead of time and put it on a tray in the oven to dry out overnight.

1 Sourdough loaf, cut, put on a large tray and dried overnight

6 eggs
2 T vanilla
1 1/2 C milk, half and half or heavy cream
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg


Pour over batter (slices should be in a single layer), let it sit for 10 minutes, flip it over and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Cook at 350 degrees F on a griddle. 

We serve it with Big Spazz's homemade blueberry jam watered down with a bit of apple juice. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Washington DC: Make Your Own Tasting Menu at Acadiana Restaurant

One of my mana wahine friends was flying into DC at the end of my conference stay so as this was her first night and my last, I wanted to make sure that we got together over a nice dinner (as is our mana wahine group's style). I knew she was flying in to Dulles at 5:30 so I knew it would take her about 60-90 minutes to catch the shuttle in to DC, check in and contact me. I decided to take a chance and make 7:00 pm reservations on Open Table. I love that service.  We are not budget girls so I knew that we could go somewhere a little more fancy so I found Acadiana, a southern, New Orleans style restaurant kitty corner from the Walter E. Washington convention center. 

We did not drink so I don't know about their cocktails, but there were so many things on the menu that we could not get in Hawaii that we decided to order enough appetizers to create our own tasting menu and just share everything. Our waiter was totally accommodating and even paired courses together to create a starter course, "salad" course and entree course (above).

Starter course: We ordered soup, the only order that we didn't share. Sylvia had the classic turtle soup and I am greedy and chose the trio of soups. We also got our complimentary biscuit with a cream cheese and pepper jelly side that we both wolfed down before I got my iPhone out. The turtle soup (first soup on the left) was fabulous! I don't know how they make it or if it is really turtle, so I am having a hard time describing the deliciousness, just that it was really yummy. The waiter brought two little shots of sherry and said it was for our turtle soup. I tried it, but I like it plain so that you can taste everything instead of just tasting alcohol. The middle soup was a roasted corn and blue crab soup. The sweet came from both the roasted corn and the large chunks of blue crab. The third soup was the smoked chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. That one was a bust for me. There was a burnt taste that I just couldn't get over. Our waiter saw that I finished everything but my gumbo and asked if there was something wrong. I told him and he offered to replace the soup with one of the other two. I wanted the turtle soup knowing that I would not get to eat that again, but I went for the corn soup. 

Salad course: The "blt" salad is a cute wedge salad made to look like a whole baby lettuce. When we cut it in half, it is basically a wedge salad with blue cheese, bacon and cherry tomatoes. It was a nice, light dish that preceded all the heaviness to follow. We also had a trio of pies with a black pepper buttermilk dipping sauce. The pies were southern vegetable, Louisiana crawfish and natchitoches meat. I really liked the southern vegetable and the crawfish, but I think Big Spazz would appreciate the spicy oiliness of the natchitoches meat pie. 

Our main course was a plethora of plates on a very small table. We had the charbroiled oysters (third picture, top) with garlic butter, parmesan, romano cheese and a crispy-soft piece of french bread. So good! If I was not flying the next morning I would have used all of the bread to sop up the butter juices. Going clockwise was the fried green tomatoes topped with a spice boiled gulf shrimp remoulade. The shrimp were so juicy. Next in the picture was the crispy "gas station" pork boudin balls served with creole mustard, pickled peppers and a sweet chili sauce. The sweet chili is not on the menu, but maybe they saw we were Asian and put it on.  I didn't care, the balls were good with the sweet chili sauce. Crispy is the right descriptor. The last course was the duck jambalaya. It was ok. The roux, like my gumbo gave off a little burnt taste that was not my favorite but we still ate it. 

With that much food, it set us back about $50 apiece but we sat there for over two hours and had really nice conversation. Sometimes, you need to just enjoy and bring home lunch for the next month to pay for the experience. 

I'm putting this down as somewhere to take Big Spazz on our next jaunt to DC.