Tuesday, August 17, 2010

photo shoots, price fixe, peachy tea

I confronted two issues this morning:

1. This week is restaurant week.
2. I needed to get the HELL out of my house.

I sent my friend Lorraine a text message. “Lunch in DC today? It’s restaurant week!”

Praise be, she said YES.

I bummed a ride in with her and we ended up in Chinatown, where we meandered for a bit, stopping to have a ridic photoshoot in the fitting room.

Can we say Posh Spice?


Yeah, photoshoots don’t work when you are looking in the camera screen. Lesson learned.

Also, Victoria would not be caught dead in flip flops.

Our ultimate destination, however, was Jaleo, the original in Jose Andres’ tapas empire of deliciousness. It is so friggin’ good. Lorraine was already obsessed, and then had studied abroad in Spain and goes there at any possible opportunity to get her tapas fix.

Butttttt this week is not like any other week!


RESTAURANT WEEK! Restaurant week is my favorite holiday. I made that my Facebook status and then my friend (who is living in Oklahoma, poor dear) said “What is restaurant week?”. I explained the idea (I.e. that in August everyone hates being in DC cause it's miserable buttttt the shnazzy restaurants have special money-saving deals for a week). And then my friend Edward summed it up nicely and said “It's a week where you bike to work.”

Anyway, you can peruse the menu here. Any locals, I highly recommend. Great selection, great quantity of food.

Like most restaurant week participants, they do a price fixe menu for $20.10 at lunch, but at Jaleo you actually get three courses PLUS a dessert (most places do three total).

We begin, naturally, with pan.


I was regretfully in the bathroom for the dramatic pouring of the olive oil over the rosemary and garlic. The bread was awesome- crust-licious.

First course:

Ajo blanco malagueno con uvas: white almond gazpacho served with grapes.


I could not stop photographing this. I mean, first of all because it is bloody difficult to take a good photo of a beige soup in a white bowl. But also because I am now OBSESSED WITH THIS.

I mean, garlic and almond soup sounds a little crazy, right?!


But ohhh myyyyyy godddddd the soup was so velvety rich! The almonds perfectly counterbalanced the garlic (although the garlic was hefty- this is not one to order on a first date!). There was also a tang of vinegar to keep things interesting on the palate.

I was alas too slow with my camera to miss the dramatic pour, but this actually began as a dish of the soup accompaniments and the almond-garlic mix came beautifully flowingly out of a tall container.

It meant that as you ate the soup, you kept bringing up little jewels of deliciousness with your spoon. There were sweet plump raisins…


And the promised grapes.

But wait, wait. That little blob in the center of the bowl? FRESH CRAB. Ohhhhhhhhh Goddddddddddddddddd.


It was really. Really. Good.

Lorrainey got this and insisted it was too beautiful not to photograph.


Ensalada campera: salad of conserved tuna, fingerling potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and hard boiled eggs.

Next course:

We had passed through Cowgirl Creamery on our way to the restaurant and I was craving cheese in a bad way. Luckily for me, on the menu was something to fit the bill quite nicely.

Manzanas con hinojo y queso Manchego: sliced apple and fennel salad with Manchego cheese, walnuts, and Sherry dressing


Big chunks of cheese? Check!

This picture doesn’t convey the massiveness of the salad. I was STUFFED. You get more, MORE than your money’s worth at Jaleo for restaurant week.


Apples and fennel are just a match made in heaven. And the walnuts were roasted and so wonderfully flavorful and imparted their wonderful taste and texture. And the cheese! Lorraine (who is CRAZY) actually typically doesn’t LIKE cheese (can you imagine?!) but she was inhaling my manchego. It is good, good stuff.

Your final savory course was some of the “meatier” stuff. Fortunately, I had gone for a smaller portion, as I was already quite packed full of goodness at this point.

Vieiras con calabaza y naranjas: seared scallops with butternut squash puree, orange segments, and pumpkin seeds


Tasted as beautiful as it looked.

My thing when I go out to eat is that I don’t want to pay good money to eat something I wouldn’t eat at home. To that end, I order dishes with unusual flavor combinations skillfully blended by a good chef (garlic and almonds anyone?), dishes with hard-to-find ingredients (Manchego!), and dishes with techniques that I lack the equipment and skill to replicate at home (perfectly seared scallops please!)

So so so happy.


And then there was DESSERT!

You had a choice of a flan, a chocolate torte, or the ice cream/sorbet of the day.

Lorrainey finished with a bang and got the chocolate hazelnut torte:


This was so rich it was ridiculous. And the hazelnuts were like crack.

I, already gestating a food baby, went for a palate cleansing option. They said the sorbet of the day was orange, and I went “Spain! Oranges! Valencias! Yum!”

And this beauty arrived:


Best sorbet I have ever tasted. A perfectly acid-sweet balanced orange flavor. So tasty. It was also so light and fluffy it was like it hadn’t been frozen. I don’t know how they did it. I want to steal their ice cream freezer! As for the little cookie sticking out of it, I don’t know what was in it except that it was nutty, not-too-sweet, and extraordinarily good.

But wait! The fun doesn’t stop there!

I got an impromptu text from Maya yesterday asking me if I was interested in a DC blogger meetup. Once I was already in town and didn’t have to figure out transportation, I happily RSVP’d!

I was thrilled to have an opportunity to do some SERIOUS digestion- I scampered across town from 7th and E (Jaleo) to 23rd and I (the Foggy Bottom metro).

Maya, Sophia and I met up there to go to, according to many, the REAL best cupcakery in Georgetown:

Baked and Wired!


I admired their very large and very distinctively wrapped cupcakes…


And wished my appetite could do justice to this amusingly-named and delicious-sounding thing:


I toyed with the idea of getting a lemon bar, despite having eaten so massively so recently, but I asked them if they were sweet or sour and they said sweet. I like my lemon bars SOUR!

So I decided to just stick with a drinksie.

They have very silly coffee names:


But ultimately I just wanted to get myself hydrated and wanted some cool, refreshing iced tea. They had an impressive selection:


I had a difficult time making up my mind and the punk-ly haired girl working behind the counter gave me an incredibly impressive and thorough description of their flavors, astringency levels, and abilities to refresh. Kudos, Baked and Wired, for treating iced tea with the seriousness it deserves!

I went with the Persian nectar, a classic black iced tea with a lovely warm hint of peach flavor.


And I rejoined the girls, and as ever thoroughly enjoyed photographing a food blogger photoshoot.

Sophia in action:

DSC00334 DSC00335

(that girl in the background was reading Let the Great World Spin. I really wanted to go up to her and go “That was my favorite thing I read this summer!”, but decided that’d be intrusive)

Anyway, Sophia and Maya split these two beauties, on the recommendation of the servers:


I had a taste of the strawberry and it was like someone’s grandma’s delicious strawberry jam and perfect moist yellow cake had had a delicious baby.

With all the tastiness today, there was also a lot of activeness: I did the math and with all the walking I did in DC I ended up going… 4 and a half miles.

Plus, then I was carless so I metro’d to my mom office and got a free pass to the gym near there and worked out while she finished working!

Then we went out to dinner :D


Astra Libris said...

Sounds like a day from culinary heaven!! :-) I love your photo-shoot picture! :-) You're gorgeous, girl! And I'm so glad I'm not the only one who likes to take fun, really random photos... :-)

sophia said...

Okay, you weren't kidding. The food looks GREAT. Friggin delicious, indeed!

Happy to meet up with you one last time again...well, hopefully not the last! Too bad you had to scamper off early...Maya and I had some really interesting conversations which I wish you could have joined!

Maya said...

Yay restaurant week! I need to go back into DC again to take advantage. Gah.

I'm sorry you couldn't stay longer! Sophia and I had some interesting conversations. But it was great to see you again!

I've heard so much about Let the Great World Spin, it's on my list and I reserved it at the library, but as a fairly new, popular title, there is quite the wait list!

Kelsey said...

haha no kiddin', "hairbender coffee" that would be pretty fabulous to try out!

i know that feeling when u GOTTA get out of the house, good to know uve got a good friend to call up and de-stress with.

plus ur looking HOT in that dress girlie!


Rachel said...

You'll juuuust miss Austin's restaurant week (late Sept). You should just come out here early... http://restaurantweekaustin.com/

Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear said...

Yum yum! we also have a kind of restaurant week, I love it! you can get a lot of dishes in different restaurants with 10€ for a week :)

katecooks said...

that meal looks amazing! i always wanted to go to jaleo when i lived in dc but never did. bummer, i would have loved that hazelnut chocolate beaut!!