Sunday, January 23, 2011

endless celebration

Last weekend was Steve’s birthday! Yay yay Steve was born!

I won’t tell you how old Steve was turning since he is hilariously angry that he is older than I, but will tell you that it really doesn’t matter since he will likely get carded til he is 70.

Lookit this boyish charm!


Plus, yknow, the ice cream cone, hahahaha.

He enjoyed that on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Oldtown (I declined, since we were about to eat dinner and I, unlike my beloved, have only one stomach).

We dragged ourselves away from morning crosswords and farmers market and idleness and strolled about by the river, which turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. The ducks were out in full stride, despite the (cool and artful looking!) panes of ice floating about.


I know dinner would be a big part of the birthday festivities, since Steve eats more than anyone I know. The challenge presented itself because Steve is the tricky combination of 1. Environmentalist and 2. Dude

Being like many men, he likes to eat dead animals. Being a lover of the planet, he knows that the slaughterhouse industry wreaks havoc through corn feeding, antibiotics, and all the nastiness that makes Food, Inc. such an unappetizing movie.

Fortunately, a solution presented itself in my inbox via Groupon: Grassroots Station, a newish restaurant that promised delicious food from organic, local sources. And they had meaty meat meat!

We ended up wandering in for a sort of early dinner (thus the abundance of children in the pictures- there was an organic kids menu and the yuppie parents were out in full stride).

I wandered around taking pictures of the cute, informal decor. I ended up chatting with the waiter when I told him I wrote a blog and he said that the woman who owned it had owned the hair salon next door for 7 years and just opened the restaurant. All of the artwork inside is hers!


The restaurant is clearly still pretty new and finding its pace, and thus pretty low on frills (you have to go around the building, outdoors, to get through the bathroom, and pass through a door marked “do not enter.” Kinda sketch.)

The kitchen was open to the restaurant and quite bare bones, but everything looked beautiful and fresh and made to order. There’s a dozy bar area where you can watch all the action—I might sit there next time!


We began with seriously yummy herby bread


Then got the MEAT ON. We immediately agreed to order the sliders, which I’d eyed on the online menu and then the chalkboard (who doesn’t love a restaurant with a chalkboard, right Sarah?!) and then arrived three adorable, organic baby burgers!


Sooooooooooooo simple. Bun, patty, cheese, lettuce and tomato, mustard, (mayo?).

But guys.



Cannot for the life of me remember the last time I had a proper beefy burger. TOO LONG. This was among the most juicy and delicious burgers I’ve ever tasted (lets be real: it’s cause I’m sure there was a WHOLE LOTTA FAT in this bad boy!) and seriously it is magic when you take a bite out of a fat little burger and all its juicy goodness soaks into the bun… nom!

Steve followed his meat with smore meat. A sausage sub. But wait… oh wait… the yellow things?


Potatoes! Meat and potatoes! On a bun! With cheese on top!

Has there ever been any better man meal in the history of meals? Well perhaps if there was an open fire and a football game and no indoor bathroom to use afterwards.

He gave me a taste and it was decidedly excellent.

I, meanwhile, followed my burger with a vegetarian platter. Because I am nothing if not ironic.

In my defense, it was Ethiopian food. In my experience it is basically impossible for me to

1. Not order Ethiopian food if it is on the menu and
2. Not completely finish a plate of Ethiopian food

I kept seeing this beautiful colorful platter coming out of the kitchen, and I knew it had my name written all over it.


From the left to the right we have curry-flavored yellow split peas (but a decidedly subtle and nuanced curry, not your typical Indian-style dish, with a wonderful nuance of smoky background heat); deliciously oily and garlicky sauteed spinach; and my absolute FAVORITE, red lentils. Holy goodness. All Ethiopian red lentils are delicious, but in my experience every Ethiopian place has one thing that they do REALLY REALLY EXCEPTIONALLY WELL and this was theirs. I cannot even guess at the seasoning except to say that it was glorious.


And, of course, wonderful injera to soak it up.

I had a wonderful conversation about injera with a kid at work. We were doing Kids Cook (the food bank that gives the kids their afterschool snack also gives a serious of cooking lessons) and this girl started talking about the food her mom makes at home, and goes “Yeah, we eat it all with the sponge…” and I go “Injera?! Your mom makes injera?! That wonderful bread?” and she looks at me and goes “Um… yeah, it’s not really bread.”

So let it be noted, if you are Ethiopian this is “sponge”. Also, her mother uses a pancake griddle to cook it. Duly noted. SOMEDAY I will make this.


A delicious sponge indeed. Not quite as moist as sour as some places (and I like my injera MOIST and SOUR) but the whole eating experience was quite exquisite.

And I becoming absurdly joyful when there are free mints. Why? I do not know.


Aaaaaaaand because Steve always has to one-up me when I do something nice for him…

and because it was Restaurant Week, also known as my favorite holiday….

and finally because it was Wednesday, the day our kids have early release and therefore we spend 6 hours with them, and moreover it was their first day back after a four day weekend in which they likely spent the entire time playing video games until cerebrospinal fluid leaked out their ears and instead of our typical four Americorps members we had one out sick and another at an appointment and therefore it was Kyle and me with 40 KIDS ALL UP ON US

… we went out for a classy four course dinner!

We went to Mie N Yu, taking a lovely stroll through Georgetown to their sexy-fied inside… which was too dim and sexyfied to take a proper picture of.


Still, I found that blur to be sort of evocative.

Their menu, meanwhile, was quite PROvocative!


For restaurant week you got a grand total of FOUR courses. Stoked!

#1: Butternut Squash Soup. Cashew salsa. Curry lime crème fraiche.


Vair nice. I love eating a new soup and trying to decode the spices in it. I failed entirely on this one. That cashew stuff on top? It had dried bananas in it. SO awesome!

#2: Char Masala Lamb Kabobs. Kabobs served with carred local vegetables and roasted cilantro yogurt sauce.


Best. Thing. Ever. In retrospect I could’ve eaten four courses of… this.

The lamb was made into patties… I spose they must’ve used ground lamb? But they used high quality because there was no gristle, no sense of fattiness. Just meltingly tender perfectly seasoned lamby goodness, redolent of delicious smoky spices, on a bed of delicious vegetables.

Y’all know I am not a huge meat person but crikey, give a Greek girl some good lamb and she is HAPPY.

#3: Miso Glazed rockfish. Crispy mushroom rice cake and a soy ginger beurre blanc.


The fish was SERIOUSLY oily. I kind of got overwhelmed by it. It was a bit much.

However, let me call your attention to the blob of awesomeness to its side. Let me dissect it for you:


You know those deep fried risotto balls at Italian restaurants? It was that. Except with mushrooms and ginger so it had fun Asian flavors. It was SMASHING (though pretty intense. So I pawned one off on Steve. I also gave him one of my lamb kabobs. And like a third of my fish.)

He, meanwhile, got the Moroccan Beef: braised beef with apricots, raisins, dates, prunes, cinnamon, honey, saffron, roasted root vegetables.


Quite honestly? It tasted like beef stew. With some fruit thrown in. Unremarkable.

Finally, dessert.

#4: Chocolate coconut cake. With cherries and Cointreau Noir.


So. Boring. A dry uninspired chocolate cake with some coconut sprinkled on top.

The sauces were good.

Best part of the whole night: I told our waiter we were still celebrating Steve’s birthday and in a wonderful stroke of luck our waiter was (seriously) an aspiring actor who wanted to “get out of his comfort zone” so he THEATRICALLY and LOUD ENOUGH FOR THE WHOLE RESTAURANT TO HEAR serenaded my boyfriend with an EXTREMELY OPERATIC rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

It. Was. Awesome.

Steve perhaps would tell you otherwise :D

On the topic of Steve- embarrassed not to’ve posted this ALREADY, but Steve started a tree-huggin’ earth-lovin’ blog! Check out his quest to get green heat, cut his car mileage in half this year, and generally do good for Mama Earth.

Presenting: Planet Wisely.

1 comment:

Steven Alexander Heathcliff Basil Bert said...

Ileana, you are perpetual source of brilliance in my life. You are so fun, so beautiful, and you spoil me to pieces.

It's impossible to fathom how great you are to me, but I love getting lost trying. Thank you for who you are and thank you for this post.

Also, my sister is coming to potluck this week, so you'll finally get to meet her!