Friday, July 15, 2011

billy, baked, ‘bobs

[Furious that my winning streak of blogging every day ended. To explain, I had a draft all written up Wednesday morning, and then had to skedaddle to work. Imagine my dismay at the sudden summer thunderstorm! It totally f***ed our kayaking trip at camp- something I’m still too upset to discuss—and its power outage deleted my draft. But life goes on.]

Saturday was great. It involved spending time with the one I love, hiking in a beautiful surrounding, and a very very large and tasty sandwich.


We headed to the Billy Goat Trail, a hike I’ve done many a time. It involves dextrous rock climbing and scenic vistas of the Potomac.

It has not seemed particularly malodorous in the past. But I found this sign amusing.


As usual, Steve spent the day performing ridiculous feats of nimbleness. And did the ENTIRE hike- sliding along rock faces and all- in flip flops. Because he is crazy.


I focused on not tripping. I have realistic expectations of my natural grace (i.e. very few). I also focused on documentation, because it is oh-so-pretty there. (Tried to get a picture of someone with their dog- not allowed- next to the person swimming- not allowed and potentially fatal- but I chickened out)


Climbing down this was quite intense!


It was lovely to be rewarded for our efforts with a delicious sandwich :D I catered.

I made a wrap of goodness. It began with labneh, the oh-so-rich-and-tangy though not at all nutritious Middle Eastern yogurt cheese condiment.


Then lovely ripe ‘cado for more richness, of the healthy monounsaturated kind.


For protein, leftover tandoori chicken.


For thirst-quenching and crunch, ripe local cucumber


And atop for greenery, because I insist on my sandwiches (other than the peanut butter ones) containing some kind of greenery, the last of some arugula.


We spent our lunch break admiring wildlife- a group of deer decided to cross the water right down below us, and Steve got this lovely picture of it.


On the subject of nature, the day also included SUNBATHING TURTLES. My favorite thing in the world ever.


After a long, HOT, sweaty hike, it sounded so nice to sit down somewhere with pleasant surroundings and enjoy a wonderful chilled beverage. Perhaps Georgetown?

Well, look at that! Steve had a Living Social deal for Cabanas, a spot right on the Potomac that seemed to fit the bill! Right on the Potomac! Yep! Right next to that water! That… floodable water.

Yeah, Cabanas is underwater. Wonder what that means for Steve and everyone else who got the deal?

Anyway, we were in Georgetown and highly hypoglycemic. A trip to Baked and Wired seemed like the only possible solution.

I’ve been jonesing for good fresh lemonade all summer and it just HAS NOT BEEN HAPPENING FOR ME. I was overjoyed to see it at B+W. It was, tragically, too sweet.


But that thing next to it? No complaints WHATSOEVER about the Unporked Elvis cupcake we split- banana cake with peanut butter buttercream icing (!!!!) and a chocolate drizzle (that little bit that looks like bacon is just a bit of dough baked dark :D Clever, though, eh?)


Man oh man, how is Georgetown Cupcakes the one with the line out the door?! I get that reality TV has its lure, but their cupcakes are dry and uninspiring! This… I mean, it tasted like CAKE. Moist, succulent, CAKE! As for the peanut butter buttercream, I really don’t have the appropriate adjective, except that if you don’t live in the area, or plan on visiting our nation’s capital ever, or just in general don’t ever get to eat this… I feel sorry for you.


Baked and Wired is so great. Our blood sugar was restored to a reasonable level, we admired the adorable bike that’s always parked outside, we regrouped.


So we were off! Steve had a whole vision of spaghetti carbonara made with planet-friendly bacon from whole foods. In we went, sampling away, picking up everything..

… it’s always good to bring one’s card to buy things when one wants to… buy things.

So, fine. We’d drive back to Steve’s and raid his fridge and pantry. Cook up something. WHATEVER. We were already really hungry again.

But then we’re driving through Arlington and I idly mutter, “Oh, you’ve been wanting to try real kabobs, right? That place, Ravi, is famous.” It sure didn’t look like much driving by..


… yet in Steve pulled.

I was less than convinced. The place was utter chaos, I didn’t know where any of the ingredients came from, healthfulness was questionable. I was pleased to see “100% Halal” (for those of you don’t know, it’s basically like the Muslim equivalent of kosher. The animal was raised and slaughtered under humane conditions. Makes me happy!)


The scene was just… hilarious. People pushing into each other getting to the counter, lots of talking (and in that waiter’s case, who seemed to be directing traffic to tables, yelling) in Arabic. When we ended up getting a table (after quite a wait and a decent amount of sweet talking), the guy next to us said, “I’ve been coming since they opened. I wouldn’t want to get takeout. It’s a whole experience coming here!”

And you realized, it really was. So it’s a little nutty, but there were sure a lot of happy-looking families.


The smells were entirely wonderful, and the quality of the ingredients became evident. I was initially totally grossed out to see the big pools of oil gathering in the tops of the chafing dishes, but servers carefully maneuvered in their ladles, pushing it to the side (it almost seemed to be serving as a protective layer) and unearthing delicious looking food.


More freshness was evident at the massive heap of spinach steaming away in the corner of the crowded, frenetic kitchen (tried and failed to get a good picture- the cooks were highly amused. But we ended up getting VIP spinach treatment, see below!). Also, fresh chilis and spice mix, mm.


I put Steve entirely in charge of ordering- when I’m hungry, I get indecisive (and really sort of mean, which was why I should utter very few words during this period). Anyway, he did brilliantly.

One order was the shish kebab, wonderful tender-yet-not-at-all fatty beef. I lament the disappearance of this great Persian restaurant we’d always eat at with our family friends, and this took me back really intensely. I don’t know exactly how you do it- ground beef artfully rearranged?- but it’s just tender… cow on a stick, basically. Great stuff.


Tore this open to reveal wonnnnnnnnnderful fresh herbs. And did I mention tender (well yes. Twice. So this is a third time.)


The other plate was lamb (I’m such a proud Greek girl that I’ve converted my midwestern man to a lamb lover). Your traditional kabob. Also nice ‘n tender. Also arriving with a mountain of rice. Not only was it basmati (<3) it also had its own special touches- bites of whole peppercorns and cloves! And little flecks of veggies.


Even the salad, of simple lettuce, cucumber, and onion arrived with a wonderful tangy, herbed yogurt dressing.


The bread was made in a tandoori oven, and need I say more? I really need a tandoori oven for my own home.


That wonderful mix of light, fluffy, airy pockets and dense, chewy, doughy dough.


As for our sides, we ordered chickpeas that made me wish I had gone to culinary school. Because I cannot at all identify what herbs/spices/cooking techniques gave them such tremendous flavor. They were warm and firey and smoky and absolutely delicious.


Great lentils, too! I think lentils are such an underrated food in our country, and I actually think that anyone familiar with Southern beans or Tex-mex could get behind these, because they were pureed and also contained shredded meat! Fascinating! Also, SPICY! Great stuff.


Finally, spinach- Steve, adorable man that he is, saw me ogling it from afar and asked the waiter if he could special order it, though it wasn’t in the front. The guy goes, “uh, it won’t be done for another 30 minutes.” Which was also sort of funny since we’d already been waiting at LEAST that long for a table. So Steve said it was fine and lo and behold, 2 minutes after our other food, there was the spinach.

Anyone familiar with the wonderful smooth, spicy, oil-rich spinach found at Indian restaurants know what this heavenly stuff is.


We started by just taking a plate and going halfsies on the meat, but in the end the food distribution went about how you’d think- I ate like 1/4 the meat, 1/4 the rice, 1/2 a slice of bread, about half each of the beans. All I ate all of- and didn’t pawn off on Steve- was my salad :D

But probably slurped more than my fair share of the mango lassi!


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