Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Orecchiette with Toasted Breadcrumbs

Here's a simple, quick dish for a work night.  It's certainly not the healthiest thing out there, but it's fast and it tastes good!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Inn at Little Washington

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, my husband and I went to The Inn at Little Washington, a place we've been curious about since we moved to the DC area in 2003.  It's consistently in the top 5 of the Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants, which is how I found out about it.  Like this year's review says, I was kind of surprised that one of the absolute best restaurants in the DC area is actually about an hour and a half away from the city, in "the sticks."  Since 10 is a big anniversary, we decided to go all out and sit at the Chef's Table.  I made reservations ten months ahead and one of the two four-person tables was already booked.  On a Thursday.  *boggle*

This was quite possibly the best meal I've ever had.  The experience of sitting right in the kitchen and watching the swarms of chefs work was amazing to watch.  These chefs worked as a well oiled machine, but I could tell from watching them talk and laugh that they loved their jobs.  Chef O'Connell took the time to stop by each of the two Chef's Tables and talk to us.  He wished us a happy anniversary and let us take a picture with him.  He told us about how the chefs' aprons and pants were dalmatian print in honor of his pet rescue dalmatians, which I thought was super cute.

The Inn has a few greenhouses and its own vegetable garden.  The garden hadn't been planted yet, but we walked around it anyway just to read the painted stones that labeled all the crops they were going to grow.  At our meal, we were told that 15 kinds of micro grains came from their greenhouse.  There was also an animal enclosure with several sheep and two llamas.  We were told that the llamas watch over the sheep.  I've never heard of llama-as-sheepdog before. There was also a chicken coop with a few hens and roosters.

I tried to take pictures of every course.  That said, we had a glass of champagne before we were seated, received a bottle of champagne as a gift before the meal, and got the wine pairings.  The only course I missed taking a picture of was the pheasant on champagne-braised cabbage.  But, I got the other nine, so I call that a win.

When the dress code at a restaurant is listed as "formal" in a city where it's (mostly) okay to wear smart casual, I usually assume that the atmosphere is going to be very stuffy.  One of the things I loved about this restaurant is that it isn't the slightest bit stuffy at all.  It didn't take itself too seriously, and that made it so much more fun.

When we were first seated, the host explained to us that Patrick O'Connell was considered the Pope of American cooking.  When the kitchen doors were opened, there was a waiter dressed as a thurifer  (yes, I googled that), swinging incense.  We got to greet the chef and were seated at our table which was right in the kitchen with no barrier between us and the action. Monastic chant played during the entire meal.

So many toys!! Not pictured: a mixer bowl large enough for me to fit in, a machine with the sole purpose of making croissant dough, a huge oven that also does convection and steaming, the dessert station, and a few walk-in fridges and pantries.  This kitchen is probably bigger than my house. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lemon Chicken!

When I was in college, the Chinese delivery guy knew the code to my dorm.  I lived on Chinese delivery for my first three years of college, until a sorority sister found a caterpillar in her lo mein and that was it for me until there was another place to order from, because yuck.

I order Chinese occasionally and lemon chicken is one of my favorites.  This recipe from Ken Hom is much better than delivery unless you're in the mood for some battered and fried chicken.  This chicken isn't crunchy because there's no batter.  The sauce is much more citrus-y than some delivery places that make a cloying, overly sweet lemon sauce.  I doubled the sauce so that it would flavor my rice.  However, the recipe below is a single batch of the sauce. The recipe is relatively simple but it does require a bit of physical work because you have to drain your wok and wipe it down.  So if you have a wok with short handles, oven mitts are a good thing to have around.


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