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Bon Fresco - Columbia

I just stumbled across this place the other day while running errands. (can I just say that I hate how hard it is to 'stumble' on things in Columbia? )

Definitely a big fan. They are clearly still working out the bugs, but the bread was absolutely stellar and the sandwich ingredients were excellent. (though my SO thought there was an excess of roasted red pepper since he's not a fan)

And regarding the corned beef - it does seem a little out of place with the rest of the menu, but the mustard they serve it with is PERFECT. Nice and spicy.

While we were there they owner was chatting with a customer about baking and ended up sharing a piece of what appeared to be his sourdough starter. Definitely a good sign in my book. We'll be going back.

Jul 08, 2009
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

Red Wine for our Seafood/Quail Menu

churchill, I think you misunderstood. We are offering 1 white and 1 red. We've got the white picked out, but are having issues with the red.

I'll talk to the bar manager about a pinot noir. Thanks all.

Mar 18, 2009
wawajb in Wine

Red Wine for our Seafood/Quail Menu

We're trying to choose a red wine to offer during our wedding reception and have run into a bit of a roadblock.

Menu:
Duo plate of seared tuna medallions and a boneless quail stuffed with leek, bacon and crab
Leek & Pinenut Risotto
Asparagus

Not exactly red wine friendly. The bar manager at our venue recommended either a shiraz or a red zin, but my fiance has never met a shiraz or a red zin that he liked. Any other suggestions? They can be as obscure as you like, the wine cellar of this place is pretty amazing, but they do have to be available at a reasonable price point.

Just for reference, they recommended a Picpoule de Pinet for the white, which I had never heard of, but sounds right up my alley from what I've read.

Mar 18, 2009
wawajb in Wine

Indian in Columbia/Laurel/Jessup area

My SO and I are both craving Indian food lately and are hoping for a new cheapish place for semi-frequent weeknight dinners. We just moved to Savage, so anything between Columbia and Laurel would work for us.

As far as SO is concerned meat is a requirement, so Mango Grove is out. The others I've seen mentioned are Bombay Grill, Akbar and House of India. Preferences? Warnings?

We both love strongly spiced foods, so somewhere that will believe you when you say you'd like a 7 on a scale of 1-10 would be great.

Feb 19, 2009
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

only wonderbread will do? for tomato sandwich?

As far as childhood memories it's all about the Maier's for me. With hellmans and fresh-from-the-garden-willyoukidspleaseeatsomeofthesebeforetheyrot tomatoes. (Mom always planted about 3 more tomato plants than we really needed and was pushing tomatoes on us all summer. Such a great problem to have.)

Aug 25, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Wedding cakes

this might be a bit off the wall for you...but there are a handful of home bakers in the area that make excellent wedding cakes for a fraction of the cost at a typical wedding cake bakery.

One in particular that I am a little in love with is Artistic Cake Creations. 1.25/slice with any flavor combination you can dream up. (for example...the bottom layer of our cake is going to be a chocolate cherry cake with bailey's mousse filling) She's actually located in Charles Town, WVA but that's not a bad drive from the MD/NoVa area and she delivers all over the region. Most of her cake flavors are excellent. (german chocolate was disappointing, but I think that was about it)

Jul 15, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

Smokey Baked Bean Epiphany

My SO has a tendency to use the charcoal grill as a stove/oven, to cook the side dishes right next to whatever meat his is grilling. (prime example...scalloped potatoes in the cast iron skillet in the grill while beer canning a chicken)

But he took it to new heights yesterday and produced the most absurdly tasty beans on the planet. Plain ole' bushes baked beans, plus a chopped up jalepeno, a clove or two of garlic, and some sharp cheddar cheese. In a pyrex bowl. Tucked off to one corner of the grill, away from the coals. And then he threw some hickory chips on the coals.

Oh.My.God.

So good. And easy. And the dirtiest pyrex bowl I've ever seen. (green scrubbie takes it right off though)

I recommend that everybody who likes smoked food give this one a try. Just tuck a little bowl of jazzed up baked beans off to the side of your meat till they are hot. Egads...if I wasn't going to already, those beans would make me marry that man.

Jun 23, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

home made jam and frozen berries

Yep...in fact, my favorite jam/jelly book (The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Topp & Howard) recommends it. That way you can make your jams later in the fall after it's cooled down a bit and aren't heating up your kitchen during the hot summer/early fall days.

Btw...I recommend that book highly for anybody starting out in preserving that wants some different recipes (Spiced Honey Blueberry and Peach Lavender being my two favorites) that make just a handful of jars at a time.

Jun 19, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Making phillies, any tips?

Sorry, I may have exaggerated. Of course you can get bell peppers on a cheesesteak at any place that has them around; however, none of the places I (used to) frequent in the Philly area include peppers as a default. But for some reason the rest of the country (based on every national chain's "philly cheesesteak" pizza, sandwich, etc) thinks that they do. It's my regional food pet peeve.

Jun 05, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Making phillies, any tips?

I agree with pounding.

And I'm going to be a PITA and point out that a typical philly cheesesteak does not actually have green peppers in it. No reason you can't add them if you want them of course!
(mushrooms and onions are usually add-ins too, but they are almost always options found on menus in Philly, where as I am not used to seeing green peppers)

Jun 04, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Waterfront dining in Baltimore / Annapolis

Can anybody speak to the food at Pussers? If you sit outside you get a great view of all the super expensive boats. I've only stopped there for drinks while meeting with somebody staying at the Marriot.

May 14, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

Head-on shrimp?

Absolutely. I second this one. I'll even third it. Best thing I ate while in NOLA.

May 14, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Unheated raw honey?

takadi...you'd be suprised. I know there was a huge honey section at the MD state fair last year, which implies to me that there are a number of local honey producers. I'd imagine that it's similar over on the NoVa side if that's where you are. Def. check out farmers markets.

May 09, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Pointers needed on meat grinding w/KA grinder

General use tip:
Cut your meat into chunks that will fit nicely into the mouth of the grinder. I usually do rough rectangles about 3 inches long and 1"x1" in cross section. Then lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them until they are firm. Not rock hard, but firm to the touch. Stick the worm of the grinder in the freezer too. It works much better to have everything cold. The grinder can get a better hold on non-squishy meat I think, and the friction of the grinder warms up the fat and it turns into a big squishy mess if it isn't really cold to start out.

I highly recommend pork shoulder/butt/picnic for sausages or anything else that requires a fatty grind. Not sure on lean meat...

Apr 21, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Concert at Myerhoff and Dinner at ??? for Birthday

Good to know. Thanks for the update eblood.

And for anybody who was wondering...We did go to the brewers art. I had the duck. It was fabulous. I also (once again) learned the lesson that high alcohol beers are deceptive. I ended up a bit tipsy by the time we arrived at the symphony. Fiance had lamb of some sort with lentils. He said it was ok, but the lentils were a bit bland. (my response was...honey, they're lentils. What exactly where you expecting?) He tends to enjoy really bold flavors, so his bland might be another person's delicately seasoned. I didn't taste them so I can't comment. I was enjoying my duck too much to chance his asking for a bite of my dish in return for a taste of his.

And as far as atmosphere goes...I enjoyed it and could def. see returning, but I rather wish they had some sort of sound absorbing barrier (curtain? door? something...) between the front lounge and the first dining room. It was a bit loud, especially when an employee who was clearly having a bad day proceeded to curse his way back to the kitchen to start his shift. No big deal if you were in the lounge having a beer or two with friends, but a bit off-putting while sitting eating dinner in otherwise classy surroundings.

Apr 02, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

Side Smoker help needed

I'm not ted...but I assume he's referring to a Weber Smokey Mountain. It's a 'bullet' type smoker.
For reference:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

Mar 31, 2008
wawajb in Cookware

separate boards for Baltimore and Washington?

Indeed. As someone who lives near south of BWI and works in Annapolis and has a BF that works in Lanham and makes frequent plans with friends who live in Columbia, Arlington and Jessup...separating the boards would be seriously frustrating.

Mar 18, 2008
wawajb in Site Talk

Pizza and Beer in BWI/Glen Burnie/Pasadena

Warthog...that is *exactly* what I'm looking for. And if you're saying it ain't here, that pretty much sounds the death knell for my hopes of regular pizza and beer fridays.

Besides Jim's Hideaway mentioned below, any suggestions for a place that almost fits the bill, but happens to serve something other than pizza? A killer cheeseburger would be almost as satisfying...

Mar 17, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

Emasculated Breakfast Cereal

Maybe I lose C.H. points here...but what's wrong with Special K red berries? I love that stuff...especially in the middle of the winter when you can't get decent fresh strawberries anyway. They're just freeze dried, it not like they are actually made out of something besides strawberries...

Mar 16, 2008
wawajb in Features

Pizza and Beer in BWI/Glen Burnie/Pasadena

well...I'm being a pain here i know. I'd like more than passable. My dive bar (which is in pittsburgh) is occasionally said to have a sleeper contestant for one of the top pizza's in the city. I can't speak to that since there's a whole lot of pizza in PGH that I've never tried, but it is pretty darn good even when you're sober.

So...I guess my real question is...any bars in the area with suprisingly good pizza?

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

what is the most useless gadget in your kitchen

so, so, so true. I usually burnt the roof of my mouth with the molten peanut butter.

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Cookware

what is the most useless gadget in your kitchen

Except that when we're bbqing outside, it's a given that there are cans of beer involved. Drink one, poke extra holes in top, refill with some water for steam and ballast and insert into chicken. Tada! And then you get to just throw away your 'vertical roaster' instead of having to clean it. And we've actually never had any issues with the logo coming off the can...but if you aren't a beer drinker than actually buying the roaster would make perfect sense.

That said...we do actually own the wire vertical roasters...we were doing it so often that it was worth it to have something with handles to pull it back out of the chicken.

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Cookware

Pizza and Beer in BWI/Glen Burnie/Pasadena

I've been there and enjoyed it, but that's not quite what I'm going for here...

Just to give some more background: My old dive bar that I miss was an absolute hole in the wall (literally...it was pretty much a long hallway with a bar on one side, booths on the other and a food window in the back) populated with older gentlemen playing checkers and chess during the day and rowdy college students by night. It smelled funny, the floor was gritty, the bathroom door didn't stay closed, the pizza was ordered through a window in the very back and they had $3 pitchers every monday night. While I may have outgrown the funny smell and broken bathroom door, I really miss watching the old guys play chess while having an early pizza and beer dinner. That should give you a better picture of the kind of place I'm hoping for.

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

Pizza and Beer in BWI/Glen Burnie/Pasadena

I miss my college dive bar with cheap beer by the pitcher and decent pizza. My friends (in Pasadena) and I (near BWI) want to get together on the occasional Friday night to eat some good pizza and drink a beer or two in a very casual atmosphere. Mama Lucia's on Dorsey Road is the closest we've found so far, but the beer is by the bottle and the pizza doesn't knock my socks off (but it's not bad). Any recommendations? Casual restaurants that serve beer are in the running just as much as cheap bars that happen to have decent pizza. Preferably somewhere that we'd feel comfortable lingering for a while.

(fyi...my definition of good pizza mostly centers on a crust that is both crispy and chewy)

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Washington DC & Baltimore

what is the most useless gadget in your kitchen

You know...we had a pocket sandwich maker when I was a kid and I LOVED that thing. I used it pretty much every weekend to make myself breakfast or lunch. I wasn't allowed to use the stove without supervision, but I was allowed to use that thing. I got pretty creative with it...but I always went back to the old favorite: melty oozy peanut butter and jelly. With a big glass of milk. Mmm....

I actually asked my mom last time I was visiting if she still had it so I could steal it, but she had goodwilled it last time she moved. You could ship yours down to Maryland if you want Nomad. I'd take it happily. :)

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Cookware

what is the most useless gadget in your kitchen

My experience is that the real point of the beer can chicken is that it provides a budget version of the 'upright roaster'. So you get crispy chicken skin on all sides with no flipping. And it lets us cook chicken on the grill (mmm...smoky chicken) without having the skin stick to the grate. I love ours...we actually have two so we can do multiple chickens on our big grill for parties.

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Cookware

Anything interesting to do with a whole ripe pineapple?

This: http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.com/...

Of course....that doesn't include the recipe, but you can get a pretty good idea I'd think.

Mar 14, 2008
wawajb in Home Cooking

Wedding Registry Dilemma: This or That?

No leaking with hummus. I haven't made pesto with it yet...my basil plant died a sad sad death early this summer. The biggest mess I've made so far was grinding up hot peppers with vinegar for the beginning mash to make my own hot sauce. Pepper infused vinegar streaming down the side of my F.P. Not fun.

Only things with an actual majority of low viscosity liquid would be an issue. (eg.. I think you'd be fine with maple syrup) Thick pastes don't leak unless you've got it filled up to the tippy top.

Mar 13, 2008
wawajb in Cookware

Eats for College Tour--U of Pitt, Case Western, OSU, Purdue

At Pitt..I'd say that Pamela's for breakfast is a must. They make their own corn beef hash from scratch and it's really light years away from anything I've had at a diner. One of their (3?) branches is right on Forbes Street (the main street of Oakland..the Pittsburgh neighborhood where Pitt is located) essentially right on campus. Huge portions. I've been told the lunch food is also very good, but I've never been able to force myself to order anything but the corn beef hash or the crepe-style pancakes with strawberries. (not crepes at all...just huge thin buttery pancakes rolled around filling. Mmm....)

For lunch, Craig Street between Forbes and 5th has an assortment of restaurants that all make tasty and affordable foods of various ethnicities. (5th being the other main street of Oakland. Forbes and 5th parallel each other through Pitt Campus) If your kid ends up at Pitt, this is a frequent destination for lunch or dinner. I don't remember anything ever being bad, so whatever strikes your fancy would work, but it won't blow your mind. If somebody has more recent experience (as in the last 3 years) feel free to correct me.

Please don't eat at Primanti's though. Please...it's not good. I swear. And I like coleslaw on my sandwiches. It definitely qualifies as local color, and is always part of those food network shows like 'Best Sandwiches!" or something, but history of the place aside, I just don't get it.

If you want to get out of Oakland, head up Forbes Avenue (away from downtown) into Squirrel Hill and make a right on Murray Avenue. Or go up 5th (again, away from downtown), make a left on S. Aiken and then a right either on Walnut or Ellsworth into Shadyside. Both neighborhoods have lots of options. Squirrel Hill is homier than Shadyside. Shadyside is the trendy-ish neighbhood with lots and lots of restaurants that become bars at night. I'd recommend checking out the PA board for specific recommendations in either of those neighborhoods if you'll have time to branch out of Oakland.

Mar 13, 2008
wawajb in General Midwest Archive

Wedding Registry Dilemma: This or That?

YES! Drives me nuts...leaks if it's got more than a couple of inches of liquid-ey stuff in it. But again, since my wonderful future in laws bought me a stick blender, anything liquid enough to make a mess with the F.P. gets hit with that.

I'm suddenly realizing that since this christmas I don't think I've used my food processor once. Huh...it's def. still useful for processing solid things though (grinding nuts, etc). And making pie crust...I love how it makes pie crust a practically instant food.

Mar 13, 2008
wawajb in Cookware