Monthly Archives: August 2017

Bibiana — Lunch on 24 August 2017

2017 Summer Restaurant Weeks: Week Three, Day Two

The restaurant of the day—make that the ristorante della giornata—was Bibiana, an elegant Italian member of the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, which includes some of the best dining establishments in Washington.*

(Years ago, Roger Price wrote a book that included a section on how to avoid people. He offered a list 10 sentences that were so profoundly dull they would immediately bring an end to any attempt to engage the speaker in further conversation. Two that I remember are “A girl I went to high school with works for the phone company” and “I used to live down that street.”)

I used to work in the building right across the street from this restaurant.

Polpette

Polpette

I had a special reason I wanted to eat at Bibiana.

When I was in Venice last spring, I had lunch at Ca’ D’Oro, a restaurant where, according to the Michelin Guide, “…the meatballs are…legendary.” Those legendary meatballs are called “polpette,” and Ca’ D’Oro’s were said to be the best in Venice.

I wasn’t impressed. I thought they were nowhere nearly as good as the polpette I’d had at Bibiana.

Had my memory been inaccurate? Time for a taste test.

Bibiana’s Sicilian-style meatballs with tomato sauce and white polenta won, hands down.

Dentice

My main was pan-seared Atlantic grouper. I had a little trouble identifying the vegetable component, which was eggplant caponata. I liked the slight lemony taste of the carrot purée, and the fish was perfect.

Dessert

A nice Baba al Rum for dessert, made with rum-soaked sponge cake, vanilla bean Chantilly fIlling, and pistachio gelato.


*The Oval Room and 701 are Knightsbridge restaurants. So are Rasika and its offshoot, Rasika West. Rasika has a good claim to being the best Indian restaurant in the US.

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A New Prequel to Blade Runner 2049

Nexus: 2036 is the first of three short prequels to be released in advance of the début of Blade Runner 2049. The shorts will focus on events that shape the world of 2049.

The original 1982 Blade Runner was set in the imagined, neo-noir Los Angeles of 2019. The new film jumps 30 years into the future. In this version, you could say that Ryan Gosling* plays the Harrison Ford part, except that Harrison Ford himself is in the movie, recreating his original role.

Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled to be released in the US and the UK on 6 October 2017.


*An aside: I do not get Ryan Gosling. I’ve never found him anything but bland, uninteresting, and forgettable. Jordan Catalano Jared Leto, on the other hand, is almost always fascinating, even when he’s working with negligible material.

And he apparently decided to stop aging right after the final episode of My So-Called Life.

Vermilion — Lunch on 23 August 2017

2017 Summer Restaurant Weeks: Week Three, Day One

I have two or possibly three more places to try over the next few weeks, but my lunch at Vermilion, on King Street in Old Town Alexandria, has a lock as the best meal of 2017 Summer Restaurant Weeks.

Vermilion has always been wonderful. Since the last time I’d visited, though, the restaurant hired a new chef. Would he maintain Vermilion’s high standards?

Oh, yes!

Soup

Soup

This is a work of art. When the server placed it on my table, it looked so…so beautiful that I was reluctant to disturb it with my soup spoon.

At the center of this Chilled Corn Soup is an island of poached prawn salad, flavoured with lemon verbena leaves.

It tasted every bit as good as it looked. A phenomenal dish.

Pork

Pork

The main was perfectly cooked Pork Tenderloin, in a rich buttery sauce with summer shelling beans.

I’d thought that any dish following that soup would suffer in comparison. I was wrong. This was another stunningly good course.

And then came desserts.

Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil Cake

Yes, desserts, plural. I’d ordered the Olive Oil Cake, with its perfect strawberries, mascarpone, fennel pollen, honey, and sea salt.

In New Orleans restaurants, you occasionally get rewarded with something called a “lagniappe.”  A lagniappe is a complimentary bonus, like the 13th doughnut in a baker’s dozen.

At Vermilion, the chef, who may have overheard my sighs of delight and squeals of pure joy as I devoured the first two courses, sent out a second dessert as a little lagniappe.

What can I say? This was a perfect meal.


My Lagniappe

Lemon And Poppy Seed Fritter

Lemon and Poppy Seed Fritter with blueberry compote and whipped cream.

MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco House Is on the Market

When I heard that the house that was the setting for The Real World: San Francisco was on the market, three things surprised me:

  1. It’s been 23 years since that third series of MTV’s Real World franchise was televised. Season Three was undoubtedly The Real World’s high point, focusing as it did on the tragic, charismatic Pedro Zamora, the 22-year-old AIDS educator who died a few hours after the last show of the series was televised. MTV gets a lot of well-deserved criticism for the coarsening and dumbing down of the culture, but there have been times when it redeemed itself, and this was one of them.
  2. I had no idea that The Real World is still on the air. I’m well out of the demo and haven’t watched MTV for years, so I was unaware that the network has been cranking out its saga of drunken bad behavior, narcissistic fame whoring, and pixelated nudity for 32 seasons. That means the children of the earlier cast members are now old enough to be on the show.
  3. The asking price for the RW house, at 953 Lombard Street on Russian Hill, is $5,800,000. It was originally listed at $7,999,995 in May, dropped to $6,999,000 this month, and dropped again a few days ago. If you’re interested, you can view the listing, with pictures, at realtor.com.

Texas de Brazil — Lunch on 20 August 2017

2017 Summer Restaurant Weeks: Week Two, Day Six

And now for something a little different…

Texas de Brazil is a chain of Churrascaria restaurants with branches in 18 states and a half-dozen foreign countries, from Aruba to Saudi Arabia. “Churrasco” is Portuguese for “barbecue,” and churrasco-style grilled meats are a staple in Brazil.

At Texas de Brazil, guests pay a fixed price, which entitles them to all they choose to eat. The meal starts with a visit to the salad bar.

From the salad bar

From the salad bar

That’s where the first rule of churrascaria dining comes into play:  Tempting though some of those 50 items at the salad bar might be, don’t overdo it. You’re here for the grilled meat, and if you fill up on potato salad and Imported artisan cheeses, you won’t be hungry when the herb-marinated pork loin comes around.

I tried, with moderate success, to limit my selection to only those things that were irresistible:  Grilled red peppers with capers, artichoke hearts, salmon, heart of palm, and roasted garlic. And bacon. Who can resist bacon?

First up

First up

With the starter out of the way, I was ready for the main event.

Here’s how it works:  At the beginning of the meal, you’re given a coaster-sized disk. One side is green, to let the passadores—the “meat waiters”—know that you’re ready to have a look at what’s available.  The other side is red, indicating that your plate is already overflowing, or that you’re resting between nibbles, or that you’re waiting for your cholesterol level to drop out of the red zone before taking another bite. You can start and stop service as often as you want.

The passadores constantly navigate the room, each with a different selection, which is speared on a big skewer.  The selections are things like leg of lamb, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, pork ribs, garlic picanha, and Brazilian sausage.

Over the falls we go…

From that point on, it’s a hedonistic feast, which only ends when you decide you’ve had enough.

It’s not haute cuisine, but it’s helluva fun.


The Washington branch of Texas de Brazil is huge. I went on a Sunday afternoon, and the crowd was a typical Washington mix: Millennials in casual clothes sitting next to a group of about 20 people who looked like they were coming from a church service, gay couples and extended Latinx families, and the inevitable tourists.

Here are a couple of pictures of the interior:

Little Evil — Official Trailer

All I know—all I need to know—is that Little Evil was written and directed by Eli Craig, who wrote and directed the delightful 2010 horror comedy movie, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which had great and gory fun tweaking the old “inbred backwoodsmen terrorize innocent young adults” trope. Looks like here he’s taking on The Omen’s Damien, and the countless other Spawn of Satan urchins who followed in his path.

Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly star.

It’s coming to Netflix on 1 September 2017.