I bought my own domain! Head on over to www.adventuresinshaw.com to continue keeping up with my adventures!
I know I promised the first installment of Bittman Thursdays today but honestly, Shaw Girl is STILL sick. I am thinking spending well over 12 hours out in the cold didn’t help any on Tuesday (but it was soooo worth it). So due to illness, Bittman Thursdays will henceforth be rechristened “Bittman Mondays” (see the fancy logo…yeah that’s about as much as I could muster). I actually made the recipe already and even took the photos. I am just too exhausted to put together my usually (or at least in my mind) witty prose. So check back in on Monday! And send soup!
If only all resolutions were this tasty…whole wheat flour and wheat bran accented with lemon. Enough said…
I will be honest, I had completely forgotten about Commonwealth, the new gastropub in Columbia Heights. I was invited to the soft opening back in the Summer and was delighted by its take on British food (read: making British food actually taste good). I also really liked the fact that Jamie Leeds and his partner Sandy Lewis vowed to use a lot of fresh, local and in season ingredients in their dishes. But somehow the restaurant fell out of my mind until I was racking my brain for a Sunday brunch option. It was cold outside and a bit gloomy, so what better back drop for brunch than a British inspired pub? The fact that Commonwealth was only two stops away on the Metro didn’t hurt either, so we headed out after dropping off my purchases from the Takoma Park Farmers Market (for more on my market visit, head on over to DC Foodies).
Unlike previous year’s resolutions, I decided to get started right away on my Culinary Resolutions for 2009. To the right, you will now see the “Ask Shaw Girl” box inviting readers to send in their cooking questions/dilemmas/cries for help. Hopefully there will actually be enough questions to make “Ask Shaw Girl” a monthly segment. If not, I guess I could get the kitties to offer up their queries (“Why do you make all of these things from scratch and then feed me from that bag you haul out? Where’s our homemade liver treats???”). I’ve also ordered Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” (Amazon says I’ll have it on January 16th!!!!!) and plan on cooking my way through it in a (hopefully) weekly posting I’ll lovingly refer to as Bittman Thursdays. And most importantly, I’ve slowly started cooking more with whole grains…which brings me to the lovely granola of which this post is about…
On Friday night, the Boy and I headed out to Stoney’s Bar & Grill for a quick bite. It was a particularly chilly night (read: fucking cold), so we didn’t want to head too far. Luckily, Stoney’s is only a hop skip and jump away from Shaw in Logan Circle. Stoney’s is the epitome of a neighborhood joint: laid back atmosphere, friendly service and no pretenses of being anything more. This being our first time there, I wasn’t sure whether we just sat down or waited to be seated. A waitress smiled and told us to “sit anywhere”, so we planted ourselves in the dining area. Unlike most bars and grills I’ve been to in DC, the noise level at Stoney’s was low enough to actually be able to carry on a conversation. Our waiter came to the table fairly quickly and took our drink orders before I looked at the menu.
Although I was told Stoney’s had great burgers, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from it. And given that it was more of a tavern than a restaurant, I really didn’t expect anything more than bar food. A quick look at the menu, however, showed a good variety of items: everything from burgers (of course) to kosher franks and beans. Since I had a purpose for being there, I concentrated on the burger options. They have the usual cast of burger characters: the regular burger, a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger. But they also have some different twists on the classic burger: the One Eye Burger, served with Swiss cheese and a fried egg; the Black and Blue burger, a blackened beef patty topped with blue cheese; and a Hamburger Special, a cheeseburger topped with (of all things) ham. But I chose the Texas Burger, which usually consisted of hickory bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, grilled onions and coleslaw. However, me not being a fan of coleslaw, I asked the waiter to hold it from my burger.
When the burger arrived, I was a little anxious about its height. I am usually not a fan of burgers that require me to unhinge my jaw to eat, but the Texas Burger did have a lot going on. The bun was rather fluffy and high…and even though this may sound strange, it was a bit shiny. Yes, the bun was shiny…and this concerned me a little. I had forgotten to tell the waiter to hold the lettuce and tomato on my burger, which I usually do. I tend not to like tomatoes on my burgers because they make the bun soggy. However, Stoney’s does something rather interesting. Instead of placing the tomato right next to the bun, they put a layer of lettuce between said tomato and said bun. Because of this, the tomato doesn’t leave the bun a soggy mess. Inspecting the burger further before I ate it, I noticed the bacon wasn’t very crispy. In fact (as you can see from the picture), it was mostly gristle. I was starting to get a bad feeling about the burger. Another concern: the “grilled onions” were not grilled. The onions were thick cut, raw red onions piled onto the burger.
Finally done with my initial visual inspection (and taking pictures of it with my Blackberry – sorry, I forgot my camera), I decided to get down to the business of eating. And I was very pleasantly surprised. Having removed the “grilled onions”, my first taste was of the bun. And this was a pretty good burger bun…fresh tasting with a slight hint of sweetness. Mind you, it was not a sweetened bread, just a bread with a hint of honey (or a similar sweetener). Lightly toasted, the bun was hearty enough to stand up to the many toppings weighing it down. The beef was nicely seasoned, similar to the burger at Trios and you could tell it wasn’t a dethawed, pre-formed patty. Also like Trios, the beef didn’t have a charred taste to it nor was it dry. And unlike a lot of cheeseburgers, the cheddar was sharp enough to stand out in the menagerie of flavors. The combination of the bun and the seasoned beef almost gave the burger a one up on Trios…were it not for the bacon and the overly liberal use of barbecue sauce. The bacon was greasy and basically just fat, adding nothing at all to the burger. And although I liked the tangy flavor of the barbecue sauce, there was a bit too much on the burger.
All in all, this was a pretty good burger, especially considering it was from a neighborhood bar. I’m not ready to say it was better than Trios and I am still not convinced Trios has the best burger in town. Fear not, however, dear readers. My search continues this weekend with a trip to DC Chophouse! Stay tuned!
Cookography put out a call to fellow food bloggers for their Culinary Resolutions for 2009. Me being a band wagon jumper, I sat down and contemplated what I would like to accomplish in 2009 (culinary wise that is…we won’t get into my hippie notion of “finding my center”). So without further ado, I present to you Shaw Girl’s Culinary Resolutions for 2009:
- Use more whole grains in my baking/cooking. Remember Andrea Beaman from Top Chef? Well she has a book filled with healthy recipes and tips on eating seasonally called The Whole Truth: Eating and Recipe Guide. I bought it a few years back and actually followed it religiously for a while. But then I fell off the wagon…and into a vat of lovely bacon. I’ve not been the same since. I can attest to the difference it makes incorporating more whole grains into one’s diet and I really need to get back to that.
- Prepare better for the lean produce months of Winter. During the Spring and Summer I was awash in fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. But unlike the very smart squirrel outside my window, I didn’t store any of it for the Winter’s endless time of tubers. So this Spring and Summer, I will plan ahead and freeze berries for the Winter, make and freeze various pestos and study up on other ways to freeze the bounties of Spring and Summer.
- Better organize my kitchen. At one point I had a very organized kitchen…then I moved into a basement apartment. My lack of space should have made me more organized, but it’s done the exact opposite. Well no more! This year I vow to organize my seemingly endless amounts of kitchen gadgets and supplies to make me a more efficient cook/baker.
- Try to use more natural light when photographing my creations. I admit that I cook and bake whenever the mood strikes me, not in accordance to natural light availability. Because of this, I am often frustrated with the glossy look to my photos. Custom white balance and a dSLR can only do so much when fighting the tungsten present in most flourescent light. My best photographs are ones in which I shot in natural light. With that in mind, I am going to try to shoot more during the few snippets of good light available to me…in my basement apartment.
- Start a new blog series. I answer questions all the time about cooking and baking but never think about addressing them on my blog. I have been meaning to open up my blog to questions from readers with various culinary conundrums but I’ve also been meaning to clear off the top shelf in my closet. Sure I’m good for laughs and food porn, but I would also love to help share my love of cooking with others. With that in mind, if you have any culinary questions, email me at email@example.com and I will be more than happy to address them (or at least attempt to address them..or ask more experienced people to guest blog and answer them for you).
- FINALLY get a copy of Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”. I have frequently used recipes from this cookbook but don’t actually own it. So for 2009, I’m going to get a copy and cook something from it once a month. Even more daring? I will try to select recipes I’ve never made before or (wait for it) even eaten! This is daring and a little risky but I am going to give it a go!
So there…I’ve put them in the public domain for all to see in hopes that I will actually follow them. I’ve already started using more whole grains (will be sharing a fantastic recipe for granola this week) and I’m reading up on properly freezing pestos and sauces. That’s progress, right?
It all started when the Boy and I aimlessly wandered into Trio on 17th Street in DC. I wasn’t really expecting much from the joint…it was just a compromise decision because we were both very hungry. I usually don’t eat a lot of red meat (or any meat for that matter…especially if you take a look at my new recipe index), but that night I really, really wanted a burger. I ordered the bacon cheeseburger (because everything tastes better with bacon…and uhmm we all know my unholy love for cheese), thinking I could at least get a burger better than McDonald’s at a local joint. What was placed before me, however, was ohhhhh soooo much more.