2018 Cookery Project — Pork Tenderloin with Mustard and Thyme

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard and Thyme

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard and Thyme

Oh, did this one work!

The recipe came from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, the revised version of a bestselling cookbook from the 60s. I was a little worried during the preparation of the marinade, which combined whole-grain mustard, garlic, lots of dried thyme—two full tablespoons–balsamic vinegar, and a dry red wine. The thick mixture was, well, “pungent” might be a good description. But the marinade gave the broiled pork medallions a truly sensational flavor.

For a side dish, I made glazed carrots, with paprika and a bit of brown sugar.

Top marks. A great lunch.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

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“Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” — Now at a New Low Price

Wanna visit Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition in New York, but can’t afford the $35 admission? The Crawley family has a deal for you!

As you probably know, Downton Abbey is perpetually in danger of being sold to satisfy the creditors of the gullible and financially incompetent Earl of Grantham, who falls for the machinations of card sharks and Ponzi schemers with clock-like regularity. (On a recent trip to New York, he stumbled across a three-card Monte set-up in Times Square. The dealer now owns Downton’s East Wing.)

But Downton’s loss can be your gain! Even though the Crawleys are loath to admit commoners ne’er-do-wells poor white trash those awful people the general public to Downton’s hallowed halls, money is money, and needs must.

Travelzoo to the rescue! The site is offering tickets to the exhibition for $20, and the offer is good for the rest of the show, which is now scheduled to close on 2 April 2018. (No word yet on where it will turn up next.)

The Earl of Grantham—his given name is “Robert”, but grifters around the world call him “Mark”—will appreciate your patronage, particularly now, since he’s lent his daughters’ dowries to a former Nigerian Treasury official, and the rascal seems to have dropped out of sight.

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures from the exhibition.


2018 Cookery Project — Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

As I wrote earlier, the updated version of Beef Stroganoff that I had at The Hamilton inspired me to try to find a good recipe for the classic rendition of the dish. I got this one from Epicurious and used it as a starting point, making some changes on my own along the way. (Tarragon instead of dill, sour cream instead of crème fraîche.)

The verdict: Good, not great. It was easy to make, and tasted all right, but the sauce was thin and lacked richness, and the beef was a little tough. I’d chosen this recipe over one from Tyler Florence, in part because the Florence version was listed as taking three and a half hours to make, and that just didn’t feel right. Maybe I’ll try it some weekend.

Anyhow, since I’ve spent most of the year so far dining on deli or at various Restaurant Week  sites, this is the first entry in the 2018 Cookery Project.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

Restaurant Eve — Lunch on 31 January 2018

Restaurant Eve

Restaurant Eve Entrance

2018 Winter Restaurant Week 3, Day 1

I’ve saved the best for last. My final stop on the 2018 Winter RW tour was Cathal Armstrong’s Restaurant Eve, in Old Town, Alexandria. The meal, the service, the ambiance—everything was flawless.

This is where President and Mrs. Obama celebrated their 19th anniversary.

The entrance to the restaurant is marked by a small, easy-to-miss sign next to an open door. You walk down a long, dark, open-air passage to get to the restaurant proper. Inside, you find—here comes that word again—elegance.

Long Dark Passage

Long Dark Passage

Mussels and Clams

First up: Clams and Mussels with Moroccan Spice. The spicy sauce is what made this dish so memorable.

Cod

Then came this beautiful piece of perfectly cooked Icelandic Cod, served with new potatoes and fennel in a shellfish nage, which was so rich and creamy that I was half-tempted to drink it straight from the pan.

Dessert

Dessert

This.

The first two courses had been splendid, but dessert, Meyer Lemon Pavlova with Raspberry Granita, was flat-out amazing.  It blew everything that had come before out of the water.*

Pavlova, named after a Russian ballerina, originated in New Zealand about a hundred years ago. A pavlova is a meringue with a crunchy crust and a soft sweet filling, topped with cream and, in this case, preserved raspberries grown in the restaurant’s garden last summer.

“It’s the chef’s favourite dessert,” my server told me, and that was easy to believe.


So I ended 2018 Winter Restaurant Weeks on the highest possible note. I’d found some great new places that I’m sure I’ll be visiting again, and a couple of not-so-great places to cross off my list. As ever, it was an interesting and hugely enjoyable adventure.

And it’s only six more months until 2018 Summer Restaurant Weeks.


*Appropriately, since cod, clams, and mussels are seafood.

(I believe this is what’s known as a “Dad Joke”.)

Hereditary — Official Trailer

Here’s the creepy official trailer for Hereditary, one of the most talked-about movies to come out of this year’s Sundance Festival.

With a trailer that intense and unsettling, Hereditary is yet another movie that I won’t see until I can watch it at home, with all the lights on and the remote firmly grasped in my right hand, ready to pause or mute anything that seems too scary. You may laugh at my precautions, but they got me through Krampus without lasting trauma. And in under three hours, too!

Spoilers for Hereditary are very hard to come by, not that I’d post them anyway. The early reviews are across-the-board raves—the Tomatometer is at 100%. with a “Want to See” of 99%. The Rotten Tomato score and the reaction to the Sundance screening are almost identical to that of another little horror movie, from 2017: Get Out.

The film stars the great Toni Collette, in what some are calling a career-best performance, and Gabriel Byrne, who’s always good.

The US release date is 8 June 2018.

Sfoglina — Lunch on 27 January 2018

Sfoglina

Sfoglina

2018 Winter Restaurant Week 2, Day 4

We’re nearing the end now. Only one more restaurant after this write-up of Fabio Trabocchi’s Sfoglina, and, for me, 2018 Winter Restaurant Weeks come to an end.

Trabocchi and his wife own five highly-rated DC restaurants. Fiola has a Michelin star, and Sfoglina was just added to Michelin’s DC Bib Gourmand list for 2018.

Salad

Salad

This is Sfoglina’s take on a puntarelle and arugula Caesar Salad.

Sea Bass

Sea Bass

A small serving of sea bass, with Roman artichokes and a parsnip purée.

Dessert

Dessert

This was listed as a Soft Serve of Blood Orange and Chocolate. Perhaps the size was meant to compensate for the meagreness of the starter and the main.

The food was good and the service was excellent, but I left unhappy. It wasn’t just the serving sizes that disappointed, it was something on the bill.

I don’t drink wine at lunch, and ordered a Diet Coke, which the server poured from an eight-ounce bottle. When I got the check, I saw that I’d been billed $6 for the drink.

I know that restaurants make much of their money from the inflated charges for drinks, but at the CVS a block away from the restaurant, 64-ounce bottles of Diet Coke were on sale at $1.66 each. If my math is correct, the markup here is about 2,890%, which is outrageous. If you’re wondering whatever happened to the notorious pharmadouche Martin Shrkeli, he may have been hired to set prices at Sfoglina.

It was a sour note, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.