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UncleLongHair's Profile

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Three Pigs / McLean Tavern construction in McLean?

A while back (maybe a year or two ago) a video rental place in downtown McLean closed and signage went up in its place for the "McLean Tavern", though construction hasn't started and I haven't heard a thing about it.

Over the past week or so, the forever-mediocre Three Pigs closed and is under construction, it looks like they're completely gutting the place.

These two stores are adjacent to one another in a strip mall, as far as I can tell, there is still a wall between them... anyone know what is going on here?

I would love it if a decent pub / hang out place appeared in this new location, something that occupied both of these storefronts would be a great size and they'd have a ton of parking and even be (gasp) walkable from the surrounding areas.

Anyone have the scoop?

Tourist hot-spots - for both OOT and locals

As Yogi Berra said, "Nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded."

How do you know all of those pesky customers arw from the burbs? Are they wearing schrunchies?

Looking for Lard, in all the wrong places...

To my delight, Wagshals had lard, in small containers labeled "pure lard", it was snowy white and looked a little bit like scooped ice cream. The guy behind the counter said they render it themselves. After I bought it I opened the container and smelled it, and it had almost no smell at all, just the faintest fatty smell a little like bee's wax. I think this is the stuff. This is different than the room-temp or hydrogenated lard I've seen at the supermarket which has a sour smell.

I will be making beignets with this in the morning!

Looking for Lard, in all the wrong places...

This is an oft-repeated topic. I'm taking my turn at it because I want some non-hydrogenated lard for baking.

I have found two places so far that they they have it. One is "Let's Meat on the Avenue" in Alexandria. I just called and unfortunately they are sold out, but said they have it around the holidays.

Another is Wagshals in NW DC, an old-school butcher shop. They say they have both suet and lard, so I am going to drive down there and have a look.

There is also Flying Pigs Farm in NY which does mail order, subject to availability. I've ordered their pork products which are great, and just ordered 4 containers of their leaf fat, which will arrive in probably a week or two!

Veal kidneys

My local asian market (H Mart) often has them. They don't always have every part, but they usually have an assortment of heart, liver, kidney, brain, etc.

Nov 16, 2009
UncleLongHair in Mid-Atlantic

Good beer & kid-friendly restaurants?

Funny I just came here looking for the very same thing. I've got the kids tonite and want a beer, and am looking for a place to take them.

Gordon Biersch is not a bad option as they always have good beer and kid-friendly food. I've been able to sit at a booth in the bar area with the kids, which if you get the right spot is not smokey.

Nasty bits?

Thanks for the recommendation on La Chaumiere, that looks like exactly what I'm talking about.

Alexandria is a hike for me, though I will try and make it.

I was at the H Mart in Merrifield recently and saw a guy scooping up about 5 pounds of frog legs. Said he worked at a local restaurant. Someone's selling them!

Nasty bits?

Every now and then I get a craving for organ meats, be it liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, or what have you. My wife won't touch the stuff so I have to either cook 2 dinners or eat it out somewhere. Anyone have any recommendations on a place that does a decent liver and onions, veal kidneys, chicken livers, beef or veal tongue, brain, etc?

I figure going French is a good bet when in an "everything but the oink" mood. I've had dinners ranging from good to great at the Bistro Francais in Georgetown, which is kind of big and impersonal for a bistro (actually a great place to go if you're dining alone for those reasons). I've had excellent veal kidneys and chicken livers there.

Any other recommendations?

Birthday Dinner for 8-10 Twenty-Somethings in G-Town?

Not exactly in G-town, but you might consider Marrakesh at 617 New York Ave NW. Authentic Morrocan food, served at low tables in multiple courses while you lounge on pillows, each dinner includes live belly dancing at an intermission during the meal (no kidding). A great place for a crowd on a special occasion, the place is funky / kitchy and unforgettable.


Looking for cooking / culinary classes this weekend

I'm going to find myself unexpectedly by myself this weekend in DC (family out of town) and thought I'd try to find a participation cooking or culinary class of some kind. I'm highly flexible on the time (Sat or Sun all day), location, and cuisine, and am a fairly accomplished amateur cook, and would be up for an ambitious hands-on class. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Alternately, if anyone needs an untrained but skilled assistant cook for a restaurant or culinary event this weekend, please contact me, I could probably work in exchange for food and wine and hanging out with other foodies. I'm comfortable with any Euro / French / Julia Child style of cooking and used to dashing out multi-course meals for 4-8 people (we do a lot of entertaining), and am a very quick study in other areas.


Where to find dried cannellini (white kidney) beans - NoVA only

The Giant Food near me (McLean) has them, they have a "hispanic / international" section and have various kinds of dried beans there.

New gelato place in Clarendon -- how is it?

I went there last night with my kids. It was great. I was actually intending on going to El Chaperral to get some plantains and other items, but the grocery store was closed and the gelato area was open (this was at about 8:35pm).

My kids loved the passion fruit gelato (I tried it, it was great). They have an impressive array of flavors (about 20), choco-banana, lychee-peachy, coconut, basil-lemon (I think, this is from memory), coffee, etc.

The owner said that they make all of the gelato themselves, that he owns a location in Loehman's Plaza where they make it, and they intend on moving that gelato machine to this location in the near future. I asked if he runs the grocery store (El Chaperral) too, and he said, "not yet". Not sure what he means...

The place is not fully built yet, there is plywood leaning against the walls and there aren't a lot of light fixtures, there was a table lamp rigged up as a spotlight and he had candles burning all around. Kind of nice ambiance, but the fire marshall probably wouldn't like it. There were lots of people there, very excited about the place and the flavors. It wasn't cheap, my kids cones were $3 each.

The owner was a bit brusque, but nice enough. I suspect that he's the owner and will hire someone to dip gelato at some point. I bet they'll make lots of money there.

Old Ebbitt Grill suggestions

The brunch has been great every time I've been there, and there's a semi-open-air atrium kind of area in the back where you can sometimes sit which is neat.

I'd stick with straightforward American fare -- eggs benedict, shrimp cocktails, omlettes, and of course the oysters. The bloody marys are good too.

Where to buy Lime-Aid Concentrate?

My wife has a killer recipe for margaritas that includes lime-aid concentrate. However, I can't find the stuff any more! Our local Giant and Safeway stores stopped carrying it. Does anyone know where I can find it?


How to eat umeboshi?

Thank you for the feedback! Most helpful.

A few years ago I was on a business trip in Japan for a week and got the royal treatment -- a dedicated guide and all. We had a multi-hour dinner at the top of the Yokahama Tower, various foods and cuisines in both urban and rural Japan, etc. It was wonderful. Honestly I didn't recognize about 80% of what I ate, but it was all good. However, I don't remember anything like this umeboshi! Maybe I missed out.

I am wondering if we got a particularly salty version of this delicacy. Honestly there is no flavor at all -- not sour, not acidic, just like pouring a teaspoon of salt on your tongue. I am afraid if I acquired the taste, I'd be dead of high blood pressure before I finished!


Apr 21, 2008
UncleLongHair in General Topics

How to eat umeboshi?

A friend of ours got us a small package of umeboshi as a present. These are small, pickled Japanese plums, apparently from a very exclusive type of plum tree. They are very cute, and our friend said they are very expensive.

We tried one and have to say it was nearly inedible -- very, very salty, like eating pure salt. No other flavor is discernible. The label says that each 8 gram plum has 710 mg of salt, more than 4x the salt in a can of tuna fish! We eat all kinds of varied foods from all over the world but there's no way we could keep one of these down.

Are these really intended to be eaten straight, or is this a preservative, or a seasoning? One plum would be more than enough salt for a pot of soup. Or are they intended to be soaked and de-salted, like salt cod? The package did not give any instructions.

I've Googled around and there are numerous articles about the nutritional wonders of umeboshi, but I can't imagine that eating 700 mg of salt in one bite could possibly be good for you.


Apr 20, 2008
UncleLongHair in General Topics

Live dungeness crabs in DC

Okay, the shad roe was a wild success, thank you for all of the feedback.

Our next challenge is to find LIVE dungeness crabs somewhere in the NoVa or DC area. Suggestions please?! I know where to find blue crabs, live and steamed, and king crab legs, but I am not sure where to find live dungeness crabs.

Shad Roe in NoVa?

Thank you for all of the replies. Whole Foods in Vienna and Falls Church did not have it, but in Clarendon did. I got three pairs for $38 which looked great, but the remaining two that they had out looked pretty rough (one had burst).

I also got a couple of filets of shad at $10/lb which look fantastic!

Shad Roe in NoVa?

I am looking for a source for shad roe in Northern Virginia, which should be in season now. I've got guests coming in from out of town on Friday that insist that I procure some of the stuff. Does anyone know of a place where I can get it? In years past, Whole Foods usually had it, particularly the one in Vienna which has a great seafood counter. Any tips welcome.


ISO Butcher -- with Bacon (NOVA)

Union Meat at Eastern Market is very highly regarded, though I've never been there. I needed pork liver for a terrine I was making at Christmas. I called every meat and butcher shop in the area. Union Meat was the only one that even hinted that they could get it for me. I needed it on very short notice and out of convenience I ended up using calf's liver which is widely available. But they made a good impression on me.

ISO Butcher -- with Bacon (NOVA)

I can recommend the Organic Butcher of McLean. I live around the corner from it and go there all the time. Their fresh beef is fantastic. It is locally raised, organic, and partially grass fed. I believe there are two brothers, one raises the cattle and the other runs the butcher shop.

Their prices have been creeping up as they become more established though, and they're in McLean after all. They used to have hangar steaks for $9/lb, then it was $10/lb, now it's $11/lb. Some of the premium cuts get as high as $28-30 per pound. Very high quality stuff though.

They have prepared products like sausage, marinated meats, etc. also frozen items such as duck breast and some game meats like venison. I couldn't get liver there. I haven't tried their meatloaf and similar items.

But back to the topic, for fantastic pork products I can recommend the Flying Pigs Farm in NY. They raise their own heritage pigs, and ship pork products around the country. The pork arrives in an insulated box with cold packs and is frozen solid upon arrival. As long as it goes right from the box to your freezer, and then you thaw it fully before cooking, the quality is outstanding. Much more flavor than anything you'll get at the grocery store.

I first heard about this when my father in law sent us a box of pork from there for Christmas. So far we've had the blade roast (sort of like a pork chop roast), bacon, and spare ribs.

I think they were relatively unknown until they were recently written up in Bon Appetite and suddenly got flooded with orders.

Note, heritage pigs have a lot more fat than today's factory-bred varities -- this is the pork you remember from 20 years ago. Sometimes I have to drain the pan once or twice when cooking bacon. Chops and roasts arrive with a thick rind of fat, which you can remove or let it render while cooking. Probably not a low cholesterol meal, but delicious.

Morton's? [moved from DC/Baltimore board]

I have never been to Morton's much, I've never had an expense account big enough. But one of my clients is located next to a Morton's and we have gone there a bunch of times.

Maybe I am missing something. The prices are outrageously high and the discussion of the food by the server is worthy of an infomercial. But the food itself is, well, average and bland.

I've had the "stacked" NY strip, which is thinly sliced NY strip stacked with alternating beefsteak tomatoes and purple onion. This has a strange bachelor appeal, but comes almost completely unseasoned, and the steak is mediocre. And nobody thinks that beefsteak tomatoes are actually good for eating.

Other steak dishes present a completely unseasoned steak. Sure, it's a decent steak, but for $40 I expect something more than a supermarket steak thrown in a pan. Even the side dishes such as asparagus or mushrooms come out completely unseasoned. Am I supposed to ask them to put salt and pepper on it, or pay extra for some sauce?

There was a seafood skewer, which was decent, but an almost laughably small portion, worthy of an appetizer. I guess this is what your petite, female date is supposed to get while you gorge yourself on a 60oz porterhouse?

There must be something in the experience I'm missing because the place is always packed despite the prices. Help!


Jul 11, 2007
UncleLongHair in Chains

Looking for safe raw meat in northern VA....

Let me second the recommendation on McLean Organic Butcher. My understanding is that there are two brothers, one raises and butchers the cattle (locally) and the other runs the butcher shop. The shop is somewhat old fashioned, with the employees wearing white aprons and they will happily butcher or carve per your instructions.

Aside from being safer and healthier, the beef is excellent. The cattle are fed both grain and grass. The grass adds a beefy and somewhat gamey (not in a bad way) flavor to the meat which is great.

We get their hangar steaks 1-2x per week (the store is within walking distance of my house). My kids and nieces and nephews can't get enough of them. Kids that are picky eaters or don't like meat will have 3 or 4 servings. Some of the items are very expensive ($24-28/pound) though. The hangars are $11/lb recently raised from $10/lb. They have prepared meats too -- burgers, beef wellington, etc.

They have quality frozen food too. Not all of it is locally raised, but it is good. For instance there is duck, venison, and rabbit. I made an excellent rabbit stew from a frozen rabbit, the recipe came right from Julia Child.