Friday, July 15, 2011

Street Food - Poland vs. U.S.A.

 Witamy!  During our last trip to Poland we experienced several types of street food that were absolutely delicious – in the shopping streets of Gdansk we licked twisty soft-serve ice cream cones sold on every corner.  In Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II, we fell in love with kremowki – delicious cream cakes popularized by the Pope.  Our son-in-law liked them so much that he had several each day during the entire rest of the trip.   And in the mountain region of Zakopane, we ate Osypek a home-made sheeps’ milk cheese which is smoked, cut into creative shapes and sold from street carts.  We know there are many others  but these were three that made an impression.  Yum!

Fast forward to Washington DC, where we just experienced Truckeroo – a “convention” of food trucks which are the latest rage in street food.  On a big black parking lot near the Nationals baseball stadium, we saw a circle of maybe 20 food trucks around the perimeter of the lot, nose to butt just like an old wild west wagon train circled up for the night.  At one end was a street band playing energetic music.  Right away we saw a white and blue tent with taps of icy Bud Light.  There was a long row of picnic tables cutting through the middle of the lot.  Unfortunately there were many more butts than seats.  But the atmosphere was jovial, just like a street fest.  Most of the lines moved quickly, folks in line were comparing notes about what was good and not-so-good, and everyone was enjoying the pleasant summer day.

Before leaving our house, Laura had reviewed on line the list of trucks and their menus, to make sure we had a strategy in mind for tasting the maximum number of the most successful dishes.  And taste we did!   Our #1 top prize went to Red Hook Lobster Pound for their Maine lobster roll.  We’ve had it before and it was again so good that I wished we had not agreed to share!  From El Floridano we enjoyed a latino-style pulled pork sandwich which featured a great tangy sauce.  From Takorean, we enjoyed two Korean-styled soft tacos – a bulgogi beef that was very moist, flavorful and topped with a bit of sharp kimchi salad.  The 2nd was a chicken taco that was a bit too dry and needed a heavier hand with the flavorings.  From Eat Wonki we were drawn to a heady bowl of Wonki Fries – a mound of artfully prepared french fries, covered with squeeky cheese curds, and all drenched in a brown gravy that was surprisingly light.  This pile of love gets the cardiologist prize for clogging arteries, but it was decadently delicious.  Once in a while is OK, right?

For a cool down, we got a couple of gourmet popsicles from Pleasant Pops.  One was a very flavorful sweet Peach and the second was a Lemon/Lime/Ginger concoction that was quite low in sugar (a diabetic’s dream)  and a truly refreshing way to get brain freeze.  So lunch was great...we weren’t overly full because the dishes aren’t huge and we were sharing all the way. 

CUPCAKES FOR DINNER???? On our way out we were “forced” to pick up some cup cakes from Curbside Cupcakes, the latest entry into Washington’s love affair with cupcakes.  We were only planning to get two (just to taste) but ended up walking away with a six-pack, because of the “deal” – a bargain at six for the price of five.  Instead of dinner, we had a “tasting.”  Tequila Sunrise was pretty good - the cake was nicely flavored with orange and the icing was light, not-too-sweet, with a nice boozy kick.  Peanut Butter & Jelly was playful, the flavors were exactly right but the icing was a bit sweet for my taste.  The Lemon cupcake’s icing was light and refreshing with a definite lemony taste. The Chocolate-Chocolate, Red Velvet and Carrot Cake cupcakes were also delicious.  These are world-class entries to DC's cupcake wars.  Smacznego!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Foodies Talking Smack!

Witamy!  We’re “foodies” and we watch a lot of programs on The Food Network.  Among our favorites are the Bobby Flay throw downs.  Bobby Flay is a celebrity chef and restaurateur who challenges local chefs to a competition on their specialty or signature dish.  The competition is fun to watch.
Cheese Pie
Grilled 4-Cheese Pizza
So Christina and BJ, our daughter and son-in-law, and the parents of the most amazing granddaughter on the planet (next to yours of course) are also “foodies.”  We like to challenge each other to throw downs.  We’ll pick a main ingredient or type of food and have a competition for who can come up with the most unique or interesting preparations.  There’s always a lot of trash talk leading up the main event, but it’s all in good fun.  One of our first was the venerable hot dog (after watching a Bobby Flay hot dog show).  Talk about messy!  Another was all about burgers and we saw a lot of cheeses, jalapeno slices, strange herbs, and more. Also messy!  The most recent competition was all about cheese.  We did a 4-cheese pizza on the grill with a little parmesan crisp for decoration.  They made two delicious cheese pies - one with tomato and olives, the other with feta and Greek herbs.  There were only winners that day – YUM!  Our next throw down will be focused on anything available from the farmers market, spending less than $20 total for 4 small plates.  Maybe we should cut the budget in half to make it more challenging...what do you think? 

Now that summer is here, we see a lot of beautiful vegetables at the farmers market and even at big grocery stores that buy local produce.  Here’s a great recipe from my Mother for a very interesting soup that takes advantage of the fresh produce and is delicious for a light supper on a hot day.

Summer Vegetable Soup - Serves 8
1 carrot, sliced
½ small cauliflower, shredded coarsely
1 cup of potatoes sliced
½ cup frozen peas
1 cup of green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups boiling water
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1 ½ quarts milk
½ cup spinach, shredded
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1/1/2 tablespoons dill, chopped finely
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the carrot, cauliflower, potatoes, peas, and beans in lightly salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until just barely tender.  Mix the flour into a little of the cold milk.  Add the remaining milk, stir and add to the soup.  Add the spinach.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the butter, season with salt and pepper, garnish with dill.

The key to this recipe is the milk base.  Feel free to experiment with any fresh veggies you have on hand, cut into bite-size pieces so they all cook to tenderness in about the same amount of time.  Smacznego!