Warehouse Bar & Grill — Lunch on 17 February 2017

With the start of Alexandria Restaurant Week, we’re finally in the home stretch of this year’s winter dining marathon.

I’ve come to think of this as one of my big annual projects. Starting in late December, I spend a huge amount of time planning: reading reviews, researching menus and locations, balancing places I’ve never tried with proven favourites, searching for something interesting and new. From mid-January through sometime in February, my days are largely built around Lunch. After that, I turn my focus to planning what I still think of as Spring Break. (This year, I’ll be spending Spring Break in Venice. The one in Italy, not the one in California.)

Then in August, the cycle begins again.

I’ve always agreed with the idea that “living well is the best revenge”, and in a way, I’m now getting revenge for all those tuna-salad-on-Wonderbread lunches I used to make in younger, hungrier days.

Okay, back to Alexandria.

This was my first visit to the Warehouse Bar & Grill, which is two blocks from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria.



The menu said that She-Crab soup was the restaurant’s specialty, and it lived up to the description.



My main was Horseradish-Crusted Tilapia, with lump crab meat and a champagne leek sauce. It came with smashed potatoes and fresh asparagus.

One of the frequent criticisms of Restaurant Week is that some restaurateurs feature less expensive ingredients in their selections. Salmon, for instance, is unavoidable—it shows up on almost every menu.

Tilapia is another example. But this plate, with the lump crab meat and the champagne leek sauce, tasted anything but cheap. Excellent main.

Service here was also exemplary.

You may have noticed the absence of a picture of my dessert. The reason is a little embarrassing. I had strawberries and cream, and it looked so tempting that I was half way through it before I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture.


Last Chance to See Bao Bao

Remember Logan’s Run, the 1970s dystopian science fiction movie? When characters in the film turned 30, they were made to ride the Carousel for a ritual “renewal”.  And after that, they were never seen again.

Something similar happens to pandas at the National Zoo.

Through an oversight on the part of the authors of the Constitution, pandas born at the Zoo do not automatically gain US citizenship, despite being born on American soil. Fixing this should be a priority in any immigration reform legislation.

In addition to paying a million dollars a year to “rent” adult pandas from China, the Zoo is charged an extra one-time “baby tax” of between $400,000 and $600,000 for any panda born at the Zoo.

And sometime between the baby’s third and fourth birthday, it’s sent to China.

Bao Bao, the Zoo’s female giant panda cub, was born on 23 August 2013. This will be her last weekend in Washington. She’ll be shipped to China by FedEx on 21 February 2017.

The Zoo has posted a Schedule of Events for these last few days, including the times when Bao Bao will be given her daily treats, which will be viewable on the live Panda Cams.

On 21 February 2017 departure date, the Zoo will be closed to the public from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can watch Bao Bao’s exit on the National Zoo’s Facebook page, which will show her 10 a.m. departure from the Zoo and her 1:30 p.m. departure from Dulles Airport. All times EST.

(All photos from the National Zoo)

Warning: Extreme (But Very Funny) Grossness

Oh, Yuck!

A 10-second video which might be titled “Hubris”, or “Just Hanging Out around the Pool, Thinking of Cool Things to Do.”

Filed under “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

Is there any way this is not going to end up in a “Web Redemption” segment on Tosh.0?

I swear that thing came to life and jumped at him.

2017 Cookery Project — Seared Scallops With Mint, Peas, and Bacon

Seared Scallops With Mint, Peas, and Bacon

Seared Scallops With Mint, Peas, and Bacon

Since it’s been six weeks since the first (and only) posting about my 2017 Cookery Project, even my closest followers—all three of them—have probably forgotten by now that it even existed. The simple truth is that I just haven’t done much innovative cooking so far this year. Between a heavy rotation of lunches at various area Restaurant Weeks and an otherwise somewhat crowded schedule, I’ve been living on deli carry-outs, salads, and old standards for most of my home meals. I’m not abandoning my experimentation with tastes and techniques, but I probably won’t get up to full speed until April.

I did try something new yesterday: Seared Scallops With Mint, Peas, and Bacon, based on a recipe from Epicurious. I stuck to the recipe—except for increasing the amount of bacon, because, well, bacon—and made a pea pureé for the first time.

I was happy with the result, and happy to taste my own (new) cooking for a change.

Feud: Bette and Joan — New Trailer

Sunday, 5 March 2017 can’t come soon enough for me! That’s when Feud: Bette and Joan, will première on FX, and it looks to be far more entertaining than that movie awards show that will be on TV a week earlier.

The five-episode miniseries centers on Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and the culmination of their decades-long feud during the production of the 1962 film, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

I’ve posted about this in some detail, most recently about a month ago.

Here’s a new trailer, followed by a few 15-second teasers.


Here’s the title sequence:

Jaleo — Lunch on 8 February 2017

I decided to end 2017 Winter Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week at two José Andrés restaurants. Andrés, a favourite of the Obamas, is a two-time James Beard award winner, the chef generally credited as “the man who brought tapas to America”, and the culinary consultant for the TV series Hannibal. He taught a culinary physics course at Harvard (with Ferran Adrià), hangs out with Anthony Bourdain, and is being sued for $10 million by a certain short-fingered vulgarian.

Last year, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal.

When Michelin published its first guide for Washington last fall, four of the 19 restaurants on its “Bib Gourmand” list—restaurants where you can get two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less—were Andrés restaurants.

And it all started at Jaleo.

Ensalada rusa

Ensalada rusa

Andrés calls Ensalada rusa “the ultimate Spanish tapa”. It’s a simple but filling salad made with potatoes, tuna, and mayonnaise.

Croquetas de pollo

Croquetas de pollo

The chicken fritters, another standard tapa, have crunchy exteriors and soft, moist fillings.

Lomo de cerdo con salsa de queso Valdeón

Lomo de cerdo con salsa de queso Valdeón

This was the best dish: Pork loin over sweet, caramelized roasted onion, with a Valdeón bleu cheese sauce. I’ve had the Ensalada rusa and the Croquetas de pollo many times, but I’d never tried this before. A standout.

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana

Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana

I pretty much stuck with the classics this meal. I ended it with this Spanish custard with
‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and oranges.

As always with José Andrés restaurants, I got a varied and tasty meal. In retrospect, I wish I’d been a little more adventurous in my selections.

Oyamel — Lunch on 9 February 2017

With today’s lunch, we come—at last!—to the end of yet another segment of Washington’s 32-days-long 2017 Restaurant Week, and when I write “32-days-long”, I’m writing literally.

Yesterday’s spot, Jaleo, was the first José Andrés restaurant; Oyamel is one of the most recent. The inspiration for Oyamel is Mexican street food, but the format is the same as that of Jaleo and several other Andrés places. It serves small plates, tapas style. Here in Washington, Zaytinya features Eastern Mediterranean mezze, and China Chilcano offers small plates based on the cuisine developed by immigrant Chinese workers in South America.

All four of them were listed on Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” list of DC restaurants where you can get two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less.

Ceviche estilo Culiacán

Ceviche estilo Culiacán

The ceviche featured marinated striped bass with serrano, lime, onion, cilantro, tomatillos, and housemade salsa pequín. The base was cabbage, which the gave the dish an unusual accent.

Tamal verde

Tamal verde

“Tamal”, I learned, is preferred by some to “tamale”, because it’s the standard Spanish singular form of the word.  My tamal verde was filled with shredded chicken, with a green sauce of tomatillo, chile, garlic, and cilantro.

Chilorio de res

Chilorio de res

This was one great taco. It contained shredded beef braised in a rich and tangy
sauce of pasilla and guajillo chiles, topped with white onions.

Pastel de tres leches con piña

Pastel de tres leches con piña

They hooked me when the menu described the cake in this dessert as “rum-soaked”. It was decorated with pineapple gelatin and a pineapple salsa, and served with a scoop of caramel ice cream.

And that concludes 2017 Winter Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, which has left me exhausted and restauranted-out, which is a thing I just invented.

But we’re not quite finished. Alexandria Restaurant Week starts on Friday, 17 February, and runs for 10 days, so there’s more to come.