31 May 2009

Red Hot and Blue, somewhere just outside DC

While we were in DC earlier this month, Kea's friend also took us to Red Hot and Blue, a small chain that serves barbecue. I was hoping to get some barbecue once I realized that DC was sort of "the South." We all had a half-rack with sides. For me, I only like to eat about four ribs and fill up on sides after that! I had fried okra and beans, which were awesome. Kea had hush puppies and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes looked really rich, but he liked them. The hush puppies were good, but I still prefer the okra. I wanted to try greens and mac and cheese too but you only get two sides. :( I'm sure that's normal; they are after all "sides," but I just love them so much!

Anyway, the food was awesome. We all made a lot of yummy noises.

The other sort of gimmicky thing is that they give you your drink in a huge pitcher. Well, a small pitcher, but it is huge for a cup! According to the restaurant's website, it sounds like this chain started in Texas and this whole pitcher thing really struck me as one of those "big" Texas things. However, we were just drinking water and iced tea so there's no foul in drinking a lot of those I think.

25 May 2009

Zingerman's in Ann Arbor

I didn't know about Zingerman's before we moved here but apparently it is kind of famous. It is definitely on the pricey side so I only go when my parents are in town! I was really disappointed this time though. Last time we'd had a chicken pot pie which was awesome. And they also sell some pastries to Sparty's coffee shop at MSU, so I'd had (and loved) their cookies and bagels.

I'd been eagerly awaiting the chance to try their deli sandwiches, which I'd heard so much about. They cost around $12 so there's no way I was going to go when mom and dad were not paying! Anyway, I got the reuben with corned beef and Kea got it with pastrami. It was good but mine had not enough sauerkraut and Kea's had too much! Besides my opinion about the proper amount of sauerkraut, I also was disappointed with the inconsistency! If you are going to charge that much for a sandwich, you need to be perfect! The pickles, however, were awesome! We usually go to Amer's for deli sandwiches and Amer's pickles are very sad. Zingerman's garlic pickle was awesome though and the other one was pretty good too.

My parents had some pasta salad that they liked but I was unimpressed with.

And we also had some gelato which cost a small fortune. Seriously, we paid several dollars for a Dixie cup. Of course we knew it was expensive, but we expected that it would be awesome and thus worth it right? I was disappointed. We got the chocolate hazelnut and the vanilla. The chocolate hazelnut had a really great flavor to start off, but as we went on, I got bored of it and felt it was too sweet. And this was with three of us sharing two tiny cups, so you know I didn't eat very much of it to begin with! The vanilla was also okay but a little bland. Going back and forth between the two was okay, but, again, for the price, it should be perfect! I had better gelato in the Westfield mall on Market Street in San Francisco and, honestly, in the Barnes and Noble in the Lansing Mall too!

Zingerman's has a lot of stuff. I'd love to try it all if I had the chance, but for the price, I definitely can't afford that. Maybe I'm just ordering the wrong stuff but I can't afford to experiment over there!

21 May 2009

Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian in DC

The Museum
I had heard some good things about the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) from some folks in my program and was excited to check it out. We had spent some time at the American history and natural history museums the day before and Kea and I liked the NMAI a lot better. First off, the building was gorgeous--very unique. When you go inside, it's just breathtaking. It was especially interesting for us (and probably other Hawai'i folks) because of the way they incorporated Native Hawaiian stuff. It's really interesting that they did that actually because other than that, it was all about indigenous people in the Americas--including Canada, U.S., South America. If you think about it, Hawaiians are only "American" in that the U.S. owns the islands, so it was interesting to think about how decisions were made.

There was a temporary exhibit on comic art, which we really enjoyed. And I bet it gets a lot of young people interested too, which I think is great. This was one of the first things we looked at and I really started to understand that this museum was not going to be freaky about "authenticity."

Another cool exhibit was a section about the writing of history and how histories are constructed to tell certain stories. And another was about how "Indians" are defined, which talked about blood quantum and the problems with that.

The food
But anyway, the food. It was cafeteria style, with 5-6 sections reflecting different regions. There was a Pacific northwest region with salmon, for example. We had a fry bread taco (from the Plains section I think) and pupusas, a tamale, and empanadas (can't remember what this section was called). Everything was great! I really liked the cheese pupusa because the cheese got all crispy. I was only a little disappointed in the tamale, but it could have been because we had so much food--I felt it was the same as the pupusa but in different shape. The fry bread taco had a lot of lettuce and tomatoes on it. It was my first time having fry bread and I heard it was very unhealthy; I don't know if it always comes with so many veggies, but the one at the NMAI at least doesn't seem too unhealthy.

I also had the spicy hot chocolate. There was also agua fresca which I wanted to try but even after two days eating in the NMAI, I never got around to that!

The prices were a little high but since we cannot get fry bread, pupusas, and empanadas very often, it was definitely worth it.

20 May 2009

Jaleo in DC

I travel for the food. My parents like good food but I think they travel for other things too. lol. Anyway, they had heard about Jaleo and asked me to try to find out how close it was to our hotel. I checked out the website and was so excited! I think maybe others have heard about this place before; I think the guy who started it, Jose Andres, has been a guest judge on Top Chef or something because he seems familiar.

I was excited to see it was a tapas restaurant because I thought my dad especially would love it. He has been lactose intolerant for 10-15 years but recently found out he can eat cheese and that cheese actually helps build his tolerance for lactose (so that he can then have some milk, butter, or cream also). And he really likes sausage too. And wine. I have only had tapas a few times but I love being able to try so many things. The thing I fear about tapas is the cost, which is another reason I was excited to go with my parents!

My parents had a really hard time understanding that tapas is Spanish and not Mexican. So that was fun. I've started to take charge a bit when I go to a restaurant with my parents. I guess as time goes on, I am more familiar with the kinds of foods in new restaurants and the way differnet kinds of restaurants work so it is helpful if I explain things to them and act as a go-between with the waiter. (I had to do this at Chipotle the other day too. lol.) Also, in negotiating between Kea and my parents, it is best for me to coordinate because Kea is shy about saying his likes and dislikes directly to my parents.

But anyway, the food. Everything we had was good. We had "Remolacha con cítricos," described on the menu as "A salad of red beets, citrus, picón cheese and pistachios with sherry dressing." Even Kea liked it, though he claimed not to like beets. It had beets in three forms: crispy (like a chip), thin slice, and thicker chunk. We had "Chistorra envuelta en patata frita," described on the menu as "Slightly spicy chorizo wrapped in a crispy potato." One of the best things was the patatas bravas, basically like french fries. I was hesitant to order this because I thought it was the kind of thing you order to get full without spending too much, but the sauce it came with was so good--a little spicy, a little smoky. We think it must've had charred peppers or tomatoes or something. We also had "Espinacas a la Catalana," described on the menu as "Sautéed spinach, pine nuts, raisins and apples." This is one of many dishes that is bringing Kea around to the idea of fruit in savory dishes.

The shrimp was just okay; I think shrimp doesn't absorb flavors very well. We had "Pimientos del piquillo rellenos de queso," described on the menu as "Piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese." This was a milder goat cheese; I'm not a fan of really strong goat cheese. And we got "Lomo de buey," described on the menu as, "Grilled skirt steak with piquillo peppers."

We also had the red sangria. I have only had sangria a few times so although I liked it, I'm not sure that says all that much. In any case, I would strongly recommend this restaurant. Just check out the menu and you'll be excited! I would go back anytime I am in DC--and even pay for it myself! It was definitely a light meal, but we all had enough to eat. The bill came out to about $30/person, with three of us sharing a half carafe of sangria.

Johnny Rockets and Other Burger Musings

We hung out with Kea's friend Juan in DC. I guess he has only been there a few months so he doesn't really know anywhere to eat besides chains. We ended up at Johnny Rocket's, a '50s style burger chain. They have locations in Michigan too but we never went because it looked sort of cheesy, maybe a place for kids, maybe the kind of place that would be overpriced due to ambiance. Usually we go to Red Robin, Blimpy Burger, or even Steak N Shake.

We really liked Johnny Rocket's though. I got a Patty Melt and realized it is my favorite burger. I think the best thing about it is that it comes on rye instead of a regular bun. I'd forgotten about that. Plus it's a reasonable size, meaning I can fit it in my mouth and it doesn't fall apart. Red Robin burgers are way too big for me, which means they are messy and it's just too much food. I used to get Patty Melts at Anna Miller's; forgot how much I love them!

Also, somehow, Johnny Rocket's is less cheesy than Red Robin. I mean, Johnny Rocket's is super cheesy. They've got old-timey posters on the wall, black and white tile, a soda fountain counter, but somehow is still less cheesy than Red Robin's generic TGIF style decor. Our waitress also made us a happy face out of ketchup in a little ketchup dish. So cheesy, but totally cute.

We also had root beer floats, which were awesome. And Kea had some other burger that he also liked. A double with bacon or something...

04 May 2009

Chicken Fajitas

Just made this cuz chicken and bell peppers were on sale. Also Kea has recently become more tolerant of bell peppers.

This recipe is super easy.

I think I will make it more often.

And it is not too heavy on the bell pepper or onion once you get everything else in there.

I might consider adding another bell pepper next time just because I love them so much.

I don't know if lettuce and all that stuff usually goes in fajitas, but whatever, it tastes good.

Cafe Marie in Ann Arbor

Kea and I wanted to go to Saica, our favorite Japanese restaurant in Ann Arbor (This is not saying much. The udon is passable, but when is udon not passable?) but it was closed. :( We ended up at Cafe Marie instead. First, it is ridiculous that we have lived where we have for 3.5 years and there are still restaurants right by our house we haven't gone to. Oh well I guess we prefer to stick to what we know. Cafe Marie was pretty good though. It reminds me of Mocha Java or Cafe Laufer in Honolulu, but more Midwestern, middle-of-the-road. I'd prefer Cafe Laufer in a second, but Cafe Marie had some items that sounded "special."

I had a chicken and cherry salad. Salads with dried cherries is my favorite thing about Michigan. I don't know if the whole fruit and greens thing just happened to take off around the time I moved up here... maybe chicken and cherry salad is not just here, but Michigan is known for it's cherries so I think it might be more common here. The chicken seemed a little dry at first, but had good flavor. There was a lot of feta--I might've asked for it on the side if I had known there would be so much.

Cafe Marie also serves breakfast all day so Kea had the Ultimate Omelette which came with sausage AND bacon and some veggies and sour cream. However, we think the "ultimate" part is about the meat. He liked it although he said Cafe Marie must be for old people because it was undersalted.

There were also a bunch of other breakfast items on the menu and sandwiches and wraps. One of my problems was that virtually everything on the menu had cheese in it. That's one way its Midwestern. Second is they had something called Potato Avalanche or Fries Avalanche... which was covered in ranch...

They also had a full coffee and tea menu and some fancy lemonades and outdoor seating.

Kea felt the decor was on the corporate side for an independent restaurant, but that it was there way of attracting a broad customer base. He thought the menu reflected this too--with more boojie stuff and more meat and potatoes stuff. And the crowd was also more racially diverse than I typically see in Ann Arbor. It was a Sunday afternoon and it seemed like partially a post-church crowd but not all. It was an interesting mix.