It’s just a granola bar

an $11 granola bar

which he promptly ate

If you’re like me and haven’t been paying attention, today marks the beginning of restaurant week in the DC metro area (http://www.restaurantweekmetrodc.org/). You can get a good prix fixe dinner for $35.12 and some places serve lunch for $20.12. Restaurants can become pretty popular, so I recommend making reservations. For your convenience, most places use OpenTable, so you don’t have to talk to anyone.

Now with these details out of the way, which places are you going to check out? What places should I check out? Feel free to comment on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/baconegganddeez.

Recently, I got this not so original idea to race…pizza delivery drivers. If this seems foreign to you, it’s basically ordering pizza from multiple places and seeing who arrives first.

I couldn’t do most fast food, as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc. haven’t copied Burger King and are still making us drive there to get our chicken nuggets and Diet Coke (I don’t need all that sugar). I thought this was America. Chinese delivery was out, since there aren’t many that provide online ordering services, and I don’t want to talk to someone when I’m ordering food. I’m hungry and I don’t have time for smalltalk.

I avoided the big national chains for this round, since many other options were available. I chose Vocelli Pizza, Paisano’s Pizza, and Naked Pizza (oh yeah). I kept the orders mostly consistent and ordered the works/deluxe/everything pizzas from the respective locations. I ordered around 1100, to be ahead of the lunch rush. After filling out all the details, I lined up 3 browser windows and hit the Place Order buttons on each.

Yeah, this may not have been the cheapest blog posts, but I felt compelled to do this. For science. These delivery charges really add up. Who came up with this idear? They must be swimming in cash. Anyways, onto the results:

Clocking in at 22 minutes was Paisano’s.

Paisano’s – Big Paisano’s

At 60 Minutes, it was Naked and Vocelli. The drivers actually showed up at the same time and held the door for each other. How cute. I had to give the 2nd place to Naked because they were further away and Vocelli is practically right next door to Paisano’s. They should’ve just carpooled.

Naked – Omnivore

Vocelli – Deluxe

I was thinking about how to score this and adding different weighting factors to account for distance from my location, but Paisano’s pretty much destroyed the other 2, having taken only a third of the time of the others. As this is strictly a speed competition, I had no plans to rate the pizzas, but if I had to judge, I would pick Naked Pizza as the favorite of the three. It was worth the wait.

More Info:

Vocelli Pizza
Paisano’s
Naked Pizza

Dean Martin

Martin Burgers

  1. 1 lb. ground beef
  2. 2 oz. bourbon—chilled

Preheat a heavy frying pan and sprinkle bottom lightly with table salt. Mix meat, handling lightly, just enough to form into four patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4 minutes on each side.

Pour chilled bourbon in chilled shot glass and serve meat and bourbon on a TV tray.

Frank Sinatra

Sinatra Burgers

  1. Call for Dino.
  2. Tell him to make you a fuckin’ burger.
  3. Drink his bourbon.

Want to go to a winery but don’t feel like driving all the way out to Middleburg? Then check out The Winery at Bull Run in Centreville which just opened a couple of weeks ago (it’s already the end of June, yikes). Set on a working farm vineyard, the winery provides a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of DC. The tasting room is spacious and accommodating, while the atmosphere is warm and inviting. The friendly staff can tell you all about their wines during a tasting ($12). You can also purchase chilled wines to enjoy inside or outside on the porch and is great after being stuck in an office all day. They also serve cheese, crackers, and other sundries.

To the wines -> the tasting menu includes 9 different wines: 4 reds, a red dessert, and 4 whites. I found the whites better than the reds, although the dessert wine (the 2010 Fort – a port style wine) was great, especially paired with chocolate. The Viognier was arguably the best – “a delightful floral nose with aromas of honeysuckle and lychee with refreshing grapefruit, apricot, and peach flavors.” Check it out sometime and see for yourself.

 

More info:

The Winery at Bull Run
15950 Lee Highway
Centreville, VA 20120

How do you feed 8 people on a nice spring day? Throw a bunch of meat on the grill, wait till it turns black and then serve it up to some unsuspecting victims friends. NO. Let’s not do that. Instead, let’s get a big a** pan, throw a bunch of stuff IN the pan, and then serve it up to some unwilling victims of your favorite people.

What and how much stuff should we put in it? Don’t worry about it. Just relax: it’s Father’s Day. These things will take care of themselves. Like these ingredients, I didn’t really bother to measure any of them. Skip to the pictures if you want.

What you may or may not need:

  • A big a** paella pan
    • Since the one I got (17″ woah) was carbon steel, I had to season it by using the stove and lard (yeah, that’s right). Spread a thin layer on the pan and apply directly on the forehead a hot stove. The fat will polymerize over the high heat and create a non-stick surface. This is more or less the same process you would use to season a cast iron skillet. (let me google that for you)
  • A grill since the pan won’t fit in the oven and it’s easier to cook on the grill.
  • Cooking utensils (spatulas, etc.). If you don’t have these, just skip straight to the pictures.

Ingredients (in order of hitting the pan):

  • Cooking oil. Again, if you don’t have any, just skip to the pictures.
  • Chorizo (spicy if you can handle it)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Saffron (or melange if you have any)
  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Peas
  • Shrimp
  • Peppers (of the bell variety or similar)

You can add other stuff to it as well, like scallops, calamari, chicken, etc. No scallops were used because they looked pretty sad at the store. They really need to just find something that makes them happy and pursue that to escape the mundanity of everyday life.

Do it:

The process is very similar to making risotto. Things are also cooked in order of cooking times and how well the ingredient withstands heat. The basic order for today is:

Prep:

  1. Chop up garlic and onions.
  2. Cut peppers.
  3. Slice chorizo.
  4. Peel and devein the shrimp.
  5. Wash clams and mussels.
  6. Steep saffron

Cook:

  1. Oil the pan.
  2. Cook chorizo to render the fat.
  3. Remove the chorizo.
  4. Add and sautee the onions, garlic and parsley.
  5. Add and sautee the rice.
  6. Add cooked chorizo, clams and mussels
  7. Add peas
  8. Add shrimp
  9. Add peppers
  10. fin.

Pictures:

Peeeeeel the garlic

Choooooop the onions

Garlic

Peppers

The most expensive spice in the whole wide world

So if I’m slicing the chorizo, who was taking the picture? Aliens.

A new technique I just learned.

Saffron tea

All the shellfish

Step 1: Brown the chorizo

Step 2: Sautee onions, garlic, and parsley

Step 3: Sautee the rice

Step 4: Add chicken broth and saffron liquid

Step 5: Add clams and mussels. That’s a lot of stuff.

Step 6: Peas. Wait, there’s more?

Step 7: Shrimps. Wait, there’s more?

Mix it up. But I can’t. Not with that attitude.

Step 8: Peppers. Wait, there’s more? I think we’re out of step. Don’t worry about it. These things will take care of themselves.

Are we done? I think we’re done.

Now eat it for days. Literally.

fin.

I ended up going to the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival yesterday at Bull Run Regional Park (Centreville, VA). 32 vineyards and wineries from Virginia were in attendance, providing tastings and education about their wines. There was plenty of food and gift vendors to mix things up, in case you get bored, and a stage was set up for some live entertainment. Being the designated driver, I only got a handful of tastings, but I was still able to taste some very good wine.

Wine tastings

Lots of wine tastings

Camping out

It was festivally

Stage

Live entertainment to fill the awkward silence

The first order of business was to get some food in preparation for a day of tastings. Food vendors greeted you as you enter serving up standard festival fare, such as corn dogs, french fries and funnel cakes. I didn’t see any salad trucks so I had to settle for a corn dog and some chicken-on-a-stick.

Food vendors

Breakfast

Tex mex

Lunch

The winery booths were a little overwhelming at first but what attracted my attention was a sign that read “Pow Wow: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Wine.” Might as well check that out: carpe diem (or YOLO for you younger kids). The booth was for Mattaponi Winery and after getting some Cabernet Sauvignon and other reds, I was treated to some dessert wines. The best was the Odeimin, or strawberry wine, and it remained my favorite for the rest of the day.

Strawberry wine

Strawberries in a bottle

Other wineries passed by in a haze. Democracy Winery had a good apple wine that tasted like apple flavored water. Well Hung Vineyard was exactly how it sounds. There was also some sangria that I had later in the day but I can’t remember the place. The secret was Sprite and lemonade and if you buy 2 bottles of wine, the recipe was on the box.

Another notable booth was Prince Michel Vineyard which had at least 10 wines to taste, but I’m not really sure since I kind of lost count. Good thing I had a designated driver. Oh wait, that’s me. I guess I’m not leaving anytime soon. Anyways, they had a lot of good fruity wines, like raspberry and peach as well as chocolate.

Poppin

Time for some kettle corn

Kombucha

There was even a kombucha booth

Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co. had a truck resembling a western saloon. They sold stainless steel cups resembling the kind you take on camping trips. There were about 8 sodas on tap with unlimited refills for the whole day. The birch beer and vanilla cream sodas were good but the sarsaparilla was a refreshing change of pace.

Unlimited refills

Gimme that sarsaparilla

Buying wine was pretty easy. There were options to get a nicely chilled, open bottle or to have it delivered to a tent in the front when you leave, because carrying wine all day is too hard.

So how do you follow up an afternoon of wine tasting on a nice Saturday afternoon? By grilling up some steaks, of course. That can be a subject of a different post.

Bonus:

Guy on stilts

Guy on stilts

More info:
http://www.vintagevirginia.com/

My week was progressing somewhat normally until I talked to my friend, Andrea, on Wednesday night:

“Hey, do you want to go to dinner with the founder of Firehouse Subs?”
“Uh, OK.”
“We get free subs and gift cards to giveaway.”
“Uh…”

Alright, so now, I’m presented with 2 choices (and consequences):

Choice 1: No

  1. I have to figure out what to eat.
  2. Eat.
  3. Clean up.

Choice 2: Yes

  1. Free subs.
  2. Meet someone famous.
  3. I have a food blog. This may work out.

This seemed like an obvious decision (#2) so we’ll see how it goes. To paraphrase Drake, you only live once, that’s the motto, ninja YOLO.

Just a quick background, Firehouse Subs was founded in 1994 by 2 former firefighting brothers, Chris and Robin Sorensen. Their subs differ from competing restaurants in that their meats and cheeses are better quality, they are the only ones to steam the meats to produce hot subs, and the sub roll is toasted separately. Some of these subs are complemented by crisp, fresh lettuce, tomato, and onions. What you get is a hot sub on warm, crispy bread that isn’t soggy like other places. Every sandwich that is sold is approved by the brothers and I will have to say that they have pretty good tastes.

In addition to serving up great subs, Firehouse Subs serves the community through their Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The organization provides education, support and equipment to public safety entities. It is funded through donations and sales of pickle buckets at your nearest location. To get a sense of the impact of this organization, watch the following video:


 
OK, back to the sub tasting. We went to the Annandale location, which recently opened in March. More locations are planned to open in the DC Metro area. The restaurant was very clean and everyone is greeted by staff as they enter; a trend I noticed throughout the evening.

The first item of consumption was an ice cold drink dispensed through one of them fancy, new Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.

Coca-Cola Freestyle

The 100+ choices are served up through an easy-to-use touchscreen interface. It uses microdispensing technology, which was first used in drug delivery. The result is being able to mix flavors, such as cherry, vanilla, and lime to existing Coke products. I tried the exclusive Cherry Limeaid and the Strawberry Sprite Zero. The Cherry Limeade had a good cherry flavor, but was lacking in lime. The Strawberry Sprite Zero had a subtle strawberry taste and was too sweet to be sugar-free, but I’ll still drink it. Why didn’t they have these machines when I was growing up? On the flip side, making suicides back then took maybe a minute. This thing would take a couple of hours to combine 120 flavors into one drink. They should just have a button to make it, though I don’t know how I’d feel pressing a suicide button. It would be like in Futurama.

We were presented with 4 of their bestselling subs:

  • Hook & Ladder
  • New York Steamer
  • Italian
  • Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket

All of these subs were good and I personally liked the New York Steamer the best, followed by the Hook & Ladder in a close second.

Hook & Ladder

New York Steamer

Italian

Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar

Hook & Ladder

  • Smoked turkey breast
  • Virginia honey ham
  • Melted Monterey Jack
  • Lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard

This sandwich made a good first impression of what’s to come. The ham was slightly sweet and the bread was nicely toasted. The warm meat and cheese was complemented nicely with the crisp lettuce and the fresh tomatoes and onions.

New York Steamer

  • Corned beef brisket
  • Pastrami
  • Melted provolone
  • Mustard, mayo, Italian dressing

This was my favorite out of the 4 subs that we sampled. The meat was moist and tender and was not tough like the corned beef or pastrami you would get at other places. This sandwich was great with their Datil hot sauce, which had a sweeter flavor than Habaneros.

Italian

  • Genoa salami
  • Pepperoni
  • Ham
  • Melted provolone
  • Italian dressing
  • Lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard

This is not your typical Italian sub. The ham is that same one that’s used in the Hook & Ladder and the sweetness balanced the saltier salami and pepperoni. Like the Hook & Ladder, the fresh lettuce and onions added a fresh crunch to the sandwich.

Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket

  • USDA Choice beef brisket smoked for 10+ hours
  • Melted cheddar
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, mayo

This decadent sandwich contains thinly-sliced slow-cooked brisket topped with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. The brisket is smoked by hand with Hickory and Mesquite and is distributed to all the locations. The mayo, barbecue sauce, and cheese combine together to make a sauce that pushes this sandwich over the edge. This sandwich is not for the faint of heart.

There are many more subs available and if what I had are any indication of their quality, I will need to make many visits to try them all. On the horizon is a new sandwich that will become available in about a month: the King’s Hawaiian Pork & Slaw Sandwich. It features King’s Hawaiian bread (in a bigger sandwich size) and the pork is from the same supplier as the smoked beef brisket. I will have to keep my eye out for this one.

Good food and good causes. What more could you ask for?

For more information, check out:
Firehouse Subs
http://www.firehousesubs.com/

Yikes, there’s been a lot of activity in the backend so I haven’t had a chance to post anything new.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Meanwhile, like my Facebook page and follow me on twitter.  The page is a little barren right now, but it will be updated soon.  Soon as in whenever I get home tonight.  If I make it back.

https://www.facebook.com/baconegganddeez

https://twitter.com/#!/baconegganddeez

Man, this presentation is not getting done anytime soon.  Alright, so in Part 1 of the series, I showed you how to make a pretty easy tomato sauce.  The secret is in the tomatoes but I didn’t tell you that previously, hence it’s a secret.  In this part of the series, we’re going to turn the awesome meter up to 11.  That’s one more than 10.  This part does require somewhat advanced skills (girls only want boyfriends who have great skills), ingredients, and equipment. If you’re still up to the task, read on and let’s get you and your girl to second base (ie go to the mall).

What you need:

  • Work surface that you don’t have to worry about scratching up.  I used my cutting board with a moist dish towel underneath to prevent slippage.
  • A pot to boil water
  • A stove (if you made it through Part 1, you should have one of these).
  • A rolling pin (with knife or pizza cutter) or a pasta roller (with the cutting attachment).  I have a pasta roller so I will show you with that.
  • A mixing bowl
  • A flour sifter (not required, but it will make mixing easier)
  • A fork

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups unbleached white all purpose flour
  • .25 cups semolina flour
    • I told you this was advanced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Extra salt

Do it:

  1. Mix and/or sift the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  If you are using a sifter, sift it a couple of times for good measure (pun intended).
  2. Dump your flour mixture onto your work surface and make a well.
  3. Add the olive oil and eggs into the center of the well.

    eggs in well

    lake of eggs

  4. With a fork, start stirring the eggs so you’re basically scrambling them inside the flour wall.  As you’re mixing, the flour should start incorporating itself into the liquid.  If not, you can help it out by stirring in the flour with the fork.  Be careful not to break the wall or the eggs will flow out of the floodgates.

    stirring - eggs

    stir it up

  5. A dough will start to form and you probably won’t use up all the flour.
  6. When you have one big glob of sticky dough and a fork isn’t cutting it (pun intended), you can switch to your hands and start kneading the dough.
  7. Use the extra flour when you’re kneading and knead until the dough is no longer sticky (this may take awhile).
      • Kneading the dough will develop glutens in the dough, making it elastic.

    pasta dough

    kneaded

  8. When you are finished kneading the dough, wrap it up in plastic wrap and let it rest for .5 – 1 hour.  This will allow the glutens to relax so when you start rolling it, the dough won’t be as elastic
  9. You can tell the dough has finished resting by poking it.  If it bounces straight back, it’s not ready.  Otherwise it’s time to start rolling.
  10. Cut your dough in half and work with each half separately.  This will make it easier when you’re rolling out a foot of dough.  Keep the unused dough wrapped.
  11. At this point, you may want to start boiling some water (about 6 cups) in a pot.  Season the water generously with salt.  I heard that it should taste like the sea.
  12. Set the pasta roller to the widest setting and roll the dough through.  Afterwards, fold the dough into thirds so that it resembles a rectangle and feed it through.  Do this about 3 times.

    start rolling

    start rolling

  13. Set the width one notch down and feed the dough through.  Keep setting the width smaller and smaller until you get it to the width that you want.
  14. Once your dough is at your desired width, feed it through the cutter attachment.

    cut pasta

    cut

  15. Your water should be boiling at this point.  Hopefully you didn’t take too long rolling the dough and there’s still some left.  If not, add some more water and bring to a boil.
  16. Since this is fresh pasta, it doesn’t take as long to cook.  You need about 4 minutes, depending on how you like it.  You can taste it after a couple of minutes and leave it longer if you want softer pasta.
  17. Drain the pasta and serve with sauce.  Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if you like.
  18. Put on your shoes.
  19. Go to the mall.
pasta and sauce

put on your shoes cuz you're going to the mall

Have fun at the mall.  Hopefully it’s not a Sunday and Chick-fil-a is open.

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