Friday, September 28, 2012

Guess Who's Back? Sawatdee Thai in Arlington!

Today is a day of celebration!  My favorite Thai restaurant in Arlington, Sawatdee Thai, is back open for business after renovations.  I have been going to lunch at Sawatdee Thai for over 10 years, ever since my original office building was located in Courthouse.  That's some commitment.  

Many Thai places have come and go in the Arlington area including Tara Thai, Sala Thai (now where a huge high-rise apartment complex is being built), and Thai at Corner.  I have tried them all, but Sawatdee Thai always wins out as my favorite. It's like a time honored tradition.  

So when they closed this summer for renovations, I was heart-broken.  I was like a lost puppy wandering around the streets of Arlington craving curry and larb gai.  But low and behold, the renovations are complete and Sawatdee Thai has opened its freshly painted doors to patrons.  YAY!!!  I crave Thai food generally every week and now my Thai restaurant is back!  

I went for lunch the other day and it is lookin' good.  They redesigned the bar and the seating, but the layout is still the same.  And more importantly, the food is still outstanding.  I ordered my usual - Gang-Dang (the red curry chicken).  Oh spicy, delicious curry chicken, how I've missed you!

there you are, you've been hiding you naughty curry

The menu has generally the same items as before, but new pictures and design.  Fine with me, why mess with a good thing. 

Lunch, as always, was yum -- great spicy Thai food.  I am so glad Sawatdee Thai remained true to its core, offering the same great food with an updated dining experience.  Good things should never change...

Sawatdee on Urbanspoon    

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

It is starting to feel like Fall here in the Washington, DC area (thank goodness, I think the sweltering heat is behind us) and I love to celebrate fall with apples.  They are fresh, crunchy and delicious.  A perfect healthy treat for my son's snack time and super easy to pack.

In addition to snacking on apples, I also like to use apples as the base for a number of dishes including cakes.  Now, I will admit, I am not a great baker.  In fact, any time I see the words "level with a knife" for measuring flour, I get the shakes.  So, a few years ago I found this recipe for an Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake in Cooking Light magazine and it was super easy to make so now I make it all the time.  I thought I would share it with you so you can enjoy some apple cake and celebrate Fall!  PS.  I modified it to include real apple chunks....

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats 
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces) 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 apple 
  • 3/4 cup chunky applesauce 
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs 
  • Cooking spray  
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted 


1. Preheat oven to 350°. 

2. Combine oats and 1 cup hot water in a small bowl; set aside (BOWL 1). 

3. Peel, core and dice apple into 1/2 inch pieces.  

4. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking soda, and salt (BOWL 2).  

5. Combine 1 1/3 cups sugar, apple pieces, applesauce, 1/3 cup honey, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 1 minute (BOWL 3).  

Three bowls come together in one great cake!

6. Add oat mixture to the sugar mixture (BOWL 3); beat at low speed until well blended. Add half of flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat well. Add remaining flour mixture; beat well.  

7. Spoon batter into an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 48 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place dish on a wire rack.  

Throw me in the oven...
8. To prepare frosting, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup honey; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly, stirring constantly. Stir in almonds. Quickly pour frosting over cake; spread evenly using a rubber spatula. 

9. Preheat broiler. 

10. Broil cake 1 minute or until frosting is bubbly and golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with whipped topping; sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.

The frosting really makes the cake (and I didn't have almonds)
It all comes together in a yummy apple cake with a sweet frosting - a great, simple dessert made with Fall fruit! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blog Post at Capital Cooking with Lauren DeSantis

Hi all,
For those of you who don't know, I am also a writer/contributor for Capital Cooking with Lauren DeSantis.  I went to Denver and had an enjoyable dinner at Simms Steakhouse, check out my review!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Southern Dining at Sou'Wester

Last night we went to Sou'Wester in the Mandarin Oriental for dinner.  I have been to the Mandarin Oriental a number of times for dinner because my absolute favorite dining experience is, hand down, CityZen.  We decided to try Sou'Wester because the chef from CityZen, Eric Ziebold, opened Sou'Wester in 2009 and I absolutely love his food.  

We sat outside on the patio to enjoy the fall weather in DC.  Their patio overlooks the garden and last night, there happened to be a wedding in the garden.  So we got to eat and watch the wedding cocktail hour which was quite entertaining.  It was fantastic ambiance, very romantic.

The bread that they brought to the table was cornbread, in keeping with the Southern style of the menu, and it was delicious.  It was warm, spongy and melt in your mouth.  We ate two baskets of bread, it was that good.

Made with fresh corn!
For an appetizer, I ordered the Creamy Corn Soup and my husband got the Pork Fritter.  The soup was good--simple and creamy.  I think it could have benefited from roasted red pepper or some other spice to add a little more flavor, but it was a solid dish. 

More corn, please
The Pork Fritter was absolutely fantastic.  It was served with pickled garlic over a bed of  roasted peppers and eggplant.  The blend of flavors was perfectly balanced and the presentation was unbelievable.

I love you, Pork Fritter
For dinner, I ordered the Chicken-Fried Softshell Crab which was served over shrimp and tasso ham jambalaya with a spicy tomato emulsion.  It was a great dish, the crab coupled with the jambalaya was so yummy.

Crab, shrimp and tasso ham come together for a cool twist on jambalaya
 We also ordered two side dishes, the hush puppies and pimento mac & cheese.  The hush puppies were excellent--crispy, warm soul food. 

how can you say no?
 The pimento mac & cheese was underwhelming, it sort of reminded me of Kraft macaroni and cheese.  It could definitely use some improvement.  Like a cheesy, breadcrumb crust.

I need a little pick-me-up
Overall, Sou'Wester was delicious, Southern food in a romantic atmosphere with attentive service.  I would definitely go back again and am super excited that they have a Sunday Jazz Brunch, I can't wait to go back for that!

Sou'Wester on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 7, 2012

Truckeroo, Part Duex

Today is the first Friday of September and you know what that means... TRUCKEROO!  There is only one more left this year scheduled for October, so I had to go downtown to celebrate the vast selection of food trucks, music and sunshine.

It was a hot day at the DC Fairgrounds but that could only slow me down, and not stop me!  I thought I could make the day even hotter with a spicy sandwich from BONMi.  They make Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches where you select your choice of meat and the sandwich is served on a Vietnamese Baguette with house pickled veggies, cucumber, cilantro and chili-lime mayo.  I got the shredded pork sandwich, and added some of their hot sauce (which looks like chili paste).  Oh YUM!

Check out all that cilantro!
This sandwich was fantastic!!  The pickled vegetables and the cilantro were the perfect toppings for this sandwich.  It was so good.... and my husband downed his in about 2 minutes flat. 

Since I was starting to sweat, I decided to find a cool treat for dessert (who can have lunch and not dessert?!?).  I went to Carmen's Italian Ice to get a gelati - a mix of italian water ice and custard.  I ordered a small with strawberry lemon italian ice and vanilla custard.

I'm melting... melting....
It hit the spot - cool and refreshing on a hot day in September.  By the time I could get the camera out it already started to melt, but it still tasted awesome.  It also managed to drip some of it down my leg during the walk back to the car.  But as you probably have already figured out, I'm sort of a mess anyway so it goes with the territory.

One more left... can't wait till October!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Final Celebration of Summer - Corn Chowder

Well, here it is - the final weekend of summer.  And what better way to send off our final weekend than with a recipe celebrating the bounty of fresh vegetables available at farmers markets.  And at the same time, marking the transition to my favorite season - Fall - with a hearty soup.  So what do we have?  A delicious recipe for corn chowder!

Here's what you'll need to make our corn chowder:

6 slices of bacon
4 ears of fresh corn
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 golden potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups of milk
2 cups of chicken stock
salt, pepper and thyme

My 4th potato is hiding behind the bacon
To prepare the corn, I shuck off the corn silk and most of the husks.  Then, I sort of re-wrap the husks back around the corn and let it soak in a pot of water for a half hour.  After that, the corn is ready for grilling (as opposed to boiled corn which sometimes loses its flavor).  All you have to do is grill the corn over a low flame for 15-20 minutes and then let it cool.  Then it's ready for the corn chowder!

Toasty corn!  As you can see, I like to light mine on fire (bottom right)
While your corn is cooling, put the 6 pieces of bacon in a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Cook the bacon until it's nice and crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon fat behind.  Crumble the bacon.  Add in the onions to saute for 10 min until translucent.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme (2 teaspoons is a good amount) until fragrant.

Yum, bacon-y onions
Then add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot.  The stock should be just enough to cover the potatoes.  Simmer over medium high heat for about 15 min until the potatoes are tender. 

While the potatoes are simmering, slice the corn from the cob.  After the potatoes are done cooking and are tender, add the corn and the milk to the pot.  Allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat and flavors to blend.  Grab your potato masher and mash the potatoes and corn in the pot to make the base more creamy and release the corn juice (I mash around the pot ten times or so).  Add in the crumbled bacon and stir.

Ladle the soup in a bowl and add grated cheese (I like pepper jack to add some spice).  Serve with bread and enjoy your soup celebrating summer!

More please!