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#EWR11: the food

Sigh. Although I did quite a bit of cooking this weekend, including testing recipes for Robyn's next book, all of my photos turned out horrible. Seriously. I ended up deleting them. While I decide if I want to post any of the recaps sans photographs, I'll share with you two meals I had while photographing/attending Eat Write Retreat. {check out my behind the scenes post}

When I learned that we'll be having lunch at McCormick & Schmick's, I was honestly a bit apprehensive. I'm usually not a huge fan of chains, unless you count Chipotle, and in fact have never dined at this restaurant. While all of the attendees participated in Monica Bhide's writing workshop, Robyn and I headed out to McCormick and Schmick's to meet with the chefs, make sure everything was going according to the plan and to enable me to take food photographs near a window and before the place filled up with the conference attendees.

Before I show you what we ate, I must confess: I was blown away by the menu. My preconceived notions were completely erased by inventive combination of local and seasonal ingredients, artful presentations, and yet not having any one of the courses be over the top.

The first course was anchovy and roasted beets with caramelized onion, Tuscarora Mills Farmers Co-Op Spring Greens, Organic Olio Beato Italian OliveOil, and Balsamic Vinegar paired with Mirassou Moscato 2010.

If you want to find out my opinion on anchovies, read this post. If you don't want to read that post, I'll tell you: I'm not a fan of anchovies. They freak me out. Especially the little bones. Oy!

But I thought it'd be rude not to eat them, and after all, I promised the chef and Robyn that I will give these a try.

What can I say...not all anchovies are created equal. These were Garlic Marinated Spanish White Anchovies and they were divine. I ate all three on my plate. They reminded me of marinated herring, which growing up in a Russian Jewish household I ate quite a bit and luckily liked.

Paired with the sweetness of the roasted beets, onions and the sweet chilled wine, the saltiness of the anchovies shone! I could not wait till the next course.

Second course was Wild Alaskan Halibut in miso broth with Spring local mushrooms (Maitake, Enoki, Cimini), baby bok choy, Swiss chard, and tempura of Spring onion paired with Mirassou Pinot Noir from 2009.

Seafood and vegetables. Clean, yet deep flavors that stay with you for a while. This was a beautiful Spring dish, yet it warmed you up.

I would be happy to slurp the broth in this dish daily. And look at the colors! Stunning.

And then there was dessert. Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake with mascarpone cream and vanilla ice cream paired with Mirassou Riesling from 2009.

I love strawberries.
I love mascarpone cream.
I love Riesling.

Needless to say, I was swooning over this dessert. It's appropriate at a white tablecloth restaurant, but will equally look great at a picnic table!

Thank you the team at McCormick & Schmick's for a wonderful lunch and for changing my preconceived notions!

After this lunch, we had a cooking workshop at Culinaeri. Let's just say I had a hard time concentrating after 3 glasses of wine and so much good food. Still, it was fun learning about different ways to use endives.

And then after a short break, it was time for DC Food Tours to take us on a tour of Capitol Hill. {Check out the tour of Little Ethiopia I was lucky enough to experience last year.}

We started with a history lesson by the Eastern Market Metro and then headed out to try food from 3 different restaurants. For non food photos, go look at my other blog {yes, I have two blogs ;)}.

First on the tour:
Capitol Hill Tandoor & Grill

  • 1st course – A bowl of Mulligatawny soup
  • 2nd course - Chicken Jalfraizi including chicken with stir fried fresh garden vegetables finished with a tomato sauce & freshly grounded spices. Served with basmati rice and Naan, which is an unleavened, lightly baked bread in the tandoor.
{thanks to Sharone from DC Food Tours for emailing me the menu descriptions}

I skipped the rice after completely devouring the lentil soup and instead concentrated on the piping hot Naan and incredibly flavorful chicken. Although it was a bit too spicy for my taste, I managed to eat the entire dish. Put food in front of me, and I have a hard time saying no.

After a bit of walking, which was oh so very necessary, and more history lesson, we arrived at our 2nd stop:

Levis Port Café
Menu:   North Carolina BBQ pulled pork  ·    Yams ·     Collard greens  ·    Award winning mac n cheese  ·   Corn bread ·   Sweet Tea

I skipped the sweet potatoes, but was a huge fan of the sweet tea, mac n cheese and BBQ pulled pork. The meal reminded me of my trips to Nashville and Columbia (not the country, the city in South Carolina).

And then there was one more stop!

Las Placitas
  • Several plates with Salvadorian specialties ranging Yucas Con Chicharron, Pupusas, Tamale, and Carnitas.
  • House chips and homemade salsa will accompany the Salvadorian plates.
  • Sopapilla for dessert
The salsa was fresh, chunky and I just wish I was hungry enough to eat it. I made an effort though ;)

I also really enjoyed the fried sweet plantains and well seasoned and cooked beef. I seriously need to make a trip to this restaurant soon!

I've never tried a Salvadorean cabbage dish, but it was a great side for the fatty meat, fried plantains and tamales. It reminded me of the pickled cabbage and carrots my parents make.

And of course we sipped on margaritas:

Last, but not least: fried dessert.

I think I just gained 5 pounds while writing this up!

Have you been to any of these restaurants before? What are your thoughts on them?


Alejandra said...

I absolutely LOVED the food we ate on that tour. Especially the Chicken Jalfraizi and the pupusas and steak at the last place. So good!

K said...

Everything looks delicious!

Jael said...

Big fan of those pupusas, even though I was already full to bursting by the time we got to them!

MJ said...

Um..our group didn't get that dessert at the last place. (Not that I could have fit it in anyways.) Love the pics...I feel stuffed all over again.

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

Great recap and wonderful pictures!

Wendy said...

Thanks for a terrific reminder of the great food we ate that day! Sorry about your other photos.

Simones Kitchen said...

Wow Olga! That is some seriously good food you had!

Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray said...

Wow, that food all looks awesome! Lucky you!

Molly said...

Oh my goodness, so much food! I actually brought a few jars of boquerones, the marinated white anchovies, from our trip to Spain in April. And there are nearly always beets in my fridge, today being no exception. As for the scrumptious-looking shortcake, I know I have a quart of strawberries coming in this week's CSA box. Thanks for all the meal inspiration!

Esi said...

Yay! She likes anchovies! ;) I went to a media dinner at Mc and Schmick last year. I was surprised by how much I liked it too.

Anonymous said...

How u manage to take such beautiful food photographs while having dinner at a restaurant, I'll never know. These all look stunning.
*kisses* HH