Author Archives: bcarter3

La Côte d’Or — Lunch on 15 January 2019

La Cote D'Or

La Cote d’Or

Day Two of Restaurant Week found me in a little French charmer called La Côte d’Or, far out in the Virginia suburb of East Falls Church. (Some people measure out their lives with coffee spoons. I measure mine by the number of Metro stops it takes to get back to Dupont Circle.)

Here’s an online picture of its interior. Could this be anything other than a homey French restaurant?

Image found on the Web.

Unlike the day before, when I’d found Rare Steakhouse nearly deserted, the much smaller La Côte d’Or had a nearly full house.

Onion soup

Onion Soup

I ordered this onion soup despite knowing that I’d also have onion soup at lunch the next day, because it’s winter, and nothing staves off the coldness and gloom of winter like a good French Onion Soup. I’ve never had a bad one.

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin

The Coq au Vin, with the customary bacon, pearl onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and, uh, coq, wasn’t particularly memorable. The sauce was a little thin for my taste, and I would have liked a bit more chicken. Acceptable.

Floating Island

Floating Island

For some reason, I’d thought that Floating islands were a relatively recent innovation. They’re not. According to Wikipedia, Jack London mentioned them a century ago, Richard Olney included a Floating island recipe in the classic Simple French Food, and—Trivia Tip of The Day—they even show up in 1930’s also classic The Hidden Staircase, the second book of the Nancy Drew series!

A Floating Island is made of a meringue floating on a custard sauce. La Côte d’Or’s featured caramel, toasted almond,  and a raspberry on top.

Nice people, fine environment, OK meal.


Velvet Buzzsaw — Official Trailer

Whoa! What the hell was that?

The film is called Velvet Buzzsaw, and it’s by Dan Gilroy, who made the brilliantly creepy hit Nightcrawler in 2014. For this new movie, he’s teamed up again with Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. John Malkovich, Tom Sturridge, Billy Magnussen, and Toni “Deserves a Best Actress Nomination But Won’t Get It” Collette round out the cast.

From the trailer, it looks like they’re going for over-the-top campiness. (Jake wildly over-acting. Jake getting laughably hysterical. Jake grabbed by painted monkey arms.)  I wonder if Gilroy and Gyllenhaal were aiming for a 21st-century version of something that the great Vincent Price would have hammed up in his prime.

Velvet Buzzsaw premieres this weekend at Sundance, and shows up on Netflix and in limited theatres on 1 February 2019.

Rare Steakhouse — Lunch on 14 January 2019

Rare Steakhouse

Rare Steakhouse

It’s that time again! The several Washington-area Restaurant Weeks kicked off last Friday in Bethesda, the Metro RW started on Monday, and the Alexandria RW begins on Friday.

As you probably know, things are even stranger than usual in Washington these days. With much of the government shut down, parts of DC have begun to feel like ghost towns. Rare Steakhouse, the site of my first RW lunch, is on 16th Street, a couple of blocks north of the White House, in prime lawyer/lobbyist territory. Normally, it would be crowded. Maybe it was because of the shutdown, maybe it was because of the weekend’s snowstorm, but there were only about a dozen people in my section of the restaurant.

Photo found on the Web.

Above is a picture I found online of one of the dining rooms at Rare Steakhouse and Tavern. It isn’t the one where I had lunch, but it has the same look and style.

Sourdough Roll

Sourdough Roll

At first, I had no idea what this was. I’d ordered oysters for my appetizer, and wondered if they were being served en croute. I didn’t know whether to attack it by hand, by knife, or by oyster fork.

It was a sourdough roll topped with Parmesan cheese, which I later learned was a specialty of the house, and was served instead of the usual bread basket. It was wonderful.

Orchard Point Oysters DeJonghe

Orchard Point Oysters DeJonghe

Then came the oysters. I think.

It was hard to tell, because they were apparently minced, and practically indistinguishable from the breadcrumbs. I played “Find the Oyster” for a while, to avoid dealing with the very strange green vegetation on the plate. Triffids, maybe? The two bites I took were not encouraging. For me, this dish was a fail.

Duck Breast

Duck Breast

Ah, but the main! Spiced Long Island Duck Breast, served on hearts of palm purée and hot honey, cooked to perfection. I’ve never had duck breast served this way before, and I didn’t realize how much I’d been missing. A+

Pot de Creme

Pot de Creme

It was called a “Bittersweet Chocolate Rocky Road Pot de Creme”, and it was an interesting take on the classic.

Beautiful room, excellent service, and memorable main course (and sourdough roll). Good meal.

Costumes from The Favourite on Display at Kensington Palace

Image Found on the Web.

There’s a small exhibition of costumes from The Favourite on display at Kensington Palace, the current home of Wills and Kate and Harry and Meghan.

Image Found on the Web.

Image Found on the Web.

Here’s a short “Making of…” video:

The exhibition is open daily until 8 February 2019.

*Harry and Meghan will be getting their own place soon. I supposed they doubled up to save money on heating bills and stuff.

2019 Cookery Project — Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes

Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes

Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes

This is the first meal of my 2019 Cookery Project — Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes. And Garlic and Kale. And the contents of a small spice rack. There’s a lot going on here.

It’s probably the last Cookery Project plate I’ll be posting until late February. The various Washington-area Restaurant Weeks start tomorrow and run through most of January. Shortly thereafter, I’m making an excursion to Charleston, SC, a city that shows up on most of those “Top Ten US Cities for Dining” surveys. I’ve never visited before, but I’ve got a little list….

So I’ll be eating well, but cooking little these next few weeks.

I got the recipe for this dish from Bon Appétit. It takes two or three days to put it all together.

What gives this pork roast its kick comes from the blend of spices that you put on the pork.  I started by toasting black peppercorns and fennel seeds, then blending them with red pepper flakes and cinnamon with a mortar and pestle. (I didn’t own a mortar and pestle before I decided to try this recipe, but, fortunately, the DC area is rich in 24-hour mortar and pestle stores. It’s something we’re known for.)

I covered the pork with the ground spices, sealed it in plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight.

The rest was easy. The next day, I halved a mix of small red, white, and purple potatoes, cut some leeks into rounds, and sliced six garlic heads in half, crosswise, and, yes that’s full garlic heads, not garlic cloves. They filled the bottom of a big roasting pan. While I was chopping away at the vegetables, I also cooked half a head of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme in butter.

I put the pork on top of the vegetables, basted it with the melted garlic butter, and roasted the whole thing at a low heat. After a couple of hours, I removed the pork and let it rest on a platter. (This was easily the best-rested pork roast in America,)

Final steps: I raised the oven temperature to 500° and added some apple cider vinegar and a lot of shredded kale to the roaster. The well-rested pork when back on top. A half hour later, it was golden brown and beautiful.

After a final 20-minute rest, it was ready to eat.

Meal prep took forever, and there was a lot of stop-and-go action, but the result was well worth the effort.

2019 is off to a good start.


★ 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.

Game of Thrones Season 8 — New Teaser, and an Official Start Date

This teaser, called “Crypts of Winterfell”, shows most of the surviving Starks assembling in front of statues of several of their less fortunate relatives.

I usually spend the last few hours of 14 April trying to figure out things like how to claim all that Halloween candy I bought as a charitable donation on my income tax forms—a little iffy, since I didn’t get any trick-or-treaters on Halloween, so I ate it all myself—but this year will be different.

Game of Thrones will return for its eighth and final season on 14 April 2019. By my count, that’s 90 days.