Tonight’s Cocktail…

I liked the cocktail I made tonight so much that I figured I’d put it up here for all of you.


I wanted to make something tonight with Fernet, so searching throughout Cocktail Virgin, I found this gem.

I wouldn’t usually be a fan of a drink with this much Sweet Vermouth, but the other ingredients (I believe especially the Fernet) really brought out the grape…I have to say I was a fan.

As posted on Cocktail Virgin:

2/3 Sweet Vermouth (2 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
1/6 Brandy (1/2 oz Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva)
1/6 Curaçao (1/2 oz Senior Curaçao)
1 dash Fernet Branca (1/4 oz)

I replaced the brandy with Armagnac, and the Curaçao with triple sec (which provided a dryer taste, I’d expect), while utilizing the same measurements.  I’ll make this one again.

Sweet Ginger, 21 August 2012

I just had some excellent sushi take out from Sweet Ginger in Vienna, VA.

I got five orders, all of which were fantastic.

  • Volcano Roll – “california roll topped with seafood and spicy creamy sauce”
  • Angry Dragon Roll – “california roll topped with whole eel tobiko & special spicy sauce”
  • Japanese Bagel Roll – “lightly batter fried fresh salmon cream cheese, roe with spicy mayo”
  • Beauty & The Beast Roll – “tuna avocado roe rolled with eel outside”
  • Spicy Tuna Roll

I’ve been to three sushi joints on or near Maple Ave…this one is the best.  I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that either…TripAdvisor shows Sweet Ginger as the #5 restaurant in Vienna based on user ratings.

See here for their menu.

The Volcano Roll…

…and the rest of the rolls. Even the pickled ginger was really good.

The interior of the restaurant was nice as well, and there are a few seats at the sushi bar.  Looks like it could be a nice date place.  I went to pick up around 9:00 PM tonight (Tuesday) and only two tables were taken…granted, it was a little late, but they should’ve had more of those tables filled with how good the sushi was.  Check them out.

(Also, here’s my plug for what I drink with my take out sushi – Kinsen Plum Wine…great stuff when served chilled with sushi.)

Sweet Ginger
120 Branch Rd SE
Vienna, VA 22180
(703) 319-3922

Sweet Ginger on MenuPages

Brunch at AGORA, 19 August 2012

I need to get out to brunch more often.  Today I made it to AGORA, which is a couple of blocks from Dupont Circle.

AGORA has a prix fixe brunch menu for $29.95 with bottomless drinks.  They’re also nice enough to call out what menu options are gluten, dairy, or nut free for those that need to know.

There was pretty much no way I wasn’t going to order this option right here.

Being that it was 1130, I felt Mimosas were the best option, and out came a carafe (one of a few).  The server also brought out some pita bread and apricot jam to start things off.  The bread was piping hot, and was used to eat a lot of the other dishes.

Essentially, as many of these as you want (in a two-hour span).

I started off with Patlıcan Közleme (Charcoal smoked eggplant, green and red peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, dill) and Labneh (Strained yogurt, diced apples, walnuts, savory and endive).  Both tasty starters.

Eggplant spread with peppers. Good cold mezze starter.

Another good starter…tangy labneh topped with diced apples.

Next up, I picked the Manchego, Basil, and Tomato Omelette (three farm fresh eggs with manchego, basil and tomato, served with a side of potatoes that went well with the rest of the omelette) and Cilbir (two farm fresh poached eggs topped with yogurt, sumac and spicy oil).  I first tried Cilbir at Zaytinya a few weeks ago, and this was just as good…before, I’m not sure I would’ve thought eggs and yogurt mixed together would be a good call.

Manchego, basil, and tomato omelette.

Cilbir…eggs with yogurt, sumac, and oil, with a side of tasty potatoes.

I closed out brunch with two dishes that were brunchy, but not as Mediterranean…the Pastirma Eggs Benedict (two farm fresh poached eggs with cured loin of beef topped with traditional Hollandaise sauce on English muffins) and French Toast (Challah bread dipped with egg-batter, dusted with powdered sugar. Served with maple syrup.)

The Pastirma Eggs Benedict was really tasty…hard to go wrong with Eggs Benedict at brunch.

French toast…not much different from the norm here.

This was a good bottomless brunch for a good price…I’d encourage you to check it out.

1527 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 332-6767

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Filomena, 12 August 2012

I’ve had Filomena on my list for a bit.  I’d heard great things about this particular Italian restaurant, so on Sunday I went to Georgetown to check them out.

Upon entering the restaurant, take a look to the right before you go downstairs into the dining room.  You’ll see a small room that looks like the kitchen of a home, where the restaurant’s homemade pasta is created.  You can see some pictures of it here.

I started with three appetizers to get a taste of what Filomena had to offer:

  • La Torre di Melanzane – “Stacked Slices of Eggplant breaded and Pan fried when ordered. Layered with fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Tomato Sauce and Fresh Basil.”
  • Arancini – “Rice Balls– All time favorite of Little Italy’s Street Feast of San Gennaro and in scenes from “The Godfather”. Italian Arborio Rice rolled and stuffed with Mozzarella and Bolognese Meat, dusted with Bread Crumbs and quick fried. Served with Tomato Sauce.”
  • Burrata Mozzarella di Caprese – “Burrata—A ball of Buffalo Mozzarella with a Ricotta Cheese center. Served with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil Leaves and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.”

All three were great…our server, Nenad, recommended the Arancini and Burrata (and my entree below), so kudos to him for that.  If you have to choose just one starter, I’d go with the Arancini (although why just have one??)

La Torre Di Melanzane – a delicious tower of eggplant.

Arancini – fried balls of rice stuffed with meat and cheese.

Burrata Mozzarella di Caprese – can never go wrong with cheese, amirite?

Filomena has some large portions when it comes to their entrees.  I went with Bill Clinton’s favorite Filomena dish, the Linguini Cardinale (lobster meat in cardinale lobster sauce over pasta).  Loved it.  Apparently Filomena sees a lot of other celebs (see here and here).

My dinner companion got a special (the picture of which didn’t come out too well).  The Risotto alla Vitello consisted of two giant veal chops over a bed of mushroom-prosciutto risotto.  If I see this on the menu next time I go back, I’m getting it…delicious (and HUGE portions).

Along with dinner, we had a Falesco Umbria Merlot.  Worked well.  There’s plenty of other options as well.

Bill Clinton’s favorite, the Linguini Cardinale.

Although I was feeling pretty full at this point (I even had to get the rest of my food to go – never happens!), I had to try the desserts.  All of the cakes and tortes are on display opposite of the dining room, and the dessert menu displays pictures that will definitely sell you on that last course.  The Hazelnut Daquois was awesome.

Filomena’s Hazelnut Daquoise was excellent. All the other desserts looked great too (especially the Cookies ‘N Cream cake, which looks like a big Oreo). See more on their desserts page.

I thought I was finally done gorging after the dessert, but there was more.  Deposited on the table along with the bill were two decanters – amaretto and sambuca.  Was great post-dessert.

Amaretto and sambuca to finish things off. Served with coffee beans for the sambuca.

Apologies for the photos…the restaurant is dark and romantic…definite date night quality.  Great food as well, so you can go alone if you have to…worth it!

1063 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-8800 (and an entry on Wikipedia)

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Dinner at Fujimar, 1 August 2012

I’ve been seeing a lot of recent e-mail traffic about Fujimar, the restaurant upstairs from Lima (formerly just known as Lima).  I wasn’t sure what to expect, being that I had always heard Lima talked of as a nightclub rather than a restaurant.  After reading Tom Sietsema’s April review of the restaurant in The Washington Post, I decided to give it a shot.

The restaurant interior is über trendy.  Around the wall is a line of monitors showing images of fish, giving the place an aquatic look.  On a few of the monitors is a top-down view of the sushi chefs doing their craft, which I found to be a nice touch.

Trendy styling inside. This is the back room.

A view of the monitors, including the fish (left) and the sushi chefs (right).

Longest. Fork. Ever. Fujimar was going for the chopsticks look with their utensils. A little awkward to use, but you’ll get over it.

To get as much of a sample of the restaurant’s offerings as I could, I started with a Ceviche Sampler – four ceviches, including the Ahi Tuna and Ginger (my waiter’s favorite) and the Red Pepper Barramundi (my pick out of the four – although all were excellent).

The Ceviche Sampler…

I also got two orders of sushi, including the Volcano Roll (hot king crab salad on top of a shrimp tempura and avocado roll), and the Lime Garden Roll (avocado, garden vegetables, and lime-cilantro oil).  The Lime Garden Roll was surprisingly good for a vegetarian roll…I wouldn’t overlook it for the lack of fish.

Volcano Roll…

The Lime Garden…

The mixology program at Fujimar is quite creative, and continues the asian-fusion theme of the restaurant.  For my first cocktail, I picked up an Eastern Promise, with U’Luvka vodka, Yellow Chartreuse, yuzu, tamarind nectar, Sauternes foam (Sauternes, rose syrup, egg white), and violet salt.  My second one, The Yamazaki Cobbler had Suntory Yamazaki 12 year Scotch (because for relaxing times, make it Suntory time), apricot liqueur, lemon juice, and apricot-mint nectar.  Both went well with the food.  The other options were also unique recipes that sounded excellent as well.

The Eastern Promise…

The Yamazaki Cobbler…

Don’t be turned off by Lima’s nightclub vibe.  They have a solid dining and mixology option upstairs in Fujimar which I’d encourage you to check out.

Fujimar (formerly known as Lima)
1401 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 789-2800

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Dinner at KAZ Sushi Bistro, 1 August 2012

What do you get when you combine culinary mastery with a fine art degree?  Kaz Okochi, of KAZ Sushi Bistro, makes some delicious and gorgeous looking dishes.

I started off with the Sake Tasting #1 (Taisetsu, Wakatake Nigori, and Yatagarasu Taru) and the Bird’s Nest special.  The Bird’s Nest was a bed of thin slices of baby calamari and uni in a truffle-soy sauce, with thin strands of seaweed and a quail egg on top.  This was a really tasty starter.

Sake Tasting #1.

The Bird’s Nest special…

Uni, or sea urchin, was actually the first sushi I ever had, and it almost turned me off to the genre.  Thankfully, it was followed with a spicy tuna roll, which forever cemented my love for raw fish.  This uni, however, was high quality stuff with a great creamy, earthy taste.

For this meal, I wanted a guided tour of the best that KAZ had to offer.  I went with the Omakase Ultimate Sushi tasting menu, which is only available at the sushi bar.  One of the chefs makes two pieces at a time for the diner utilizing the freshest ingredients.  Each serving was simple, yet unique, offering interesting flavors.  Between scallop with pineapple, ebi with yuzu tapioca, Japanese horse mackerel with ginger-scallions, walu with wasabi leaf, seared salmon, and bigeye tuna, I was very impressed with the quality of the food, the tastes, and the presentation.

Scallop with pineapple…

Ebi with yuzu tapioca…

Japanese horse mackerel with ginger-scallion mixture…

Seared salmon.

Being that my usual favorite roll is that of the Spicy Tuna variety, I also put in for an order of that.  Simple, yet well done, and not overly heavy.

Spicy Tuna Roll.

From what I have heard, KAZ Sushi Bistro is also one of the only places in the DC-area willing to serve the infamous fugu (which features itself on my bucket list).  Read more about it here on a (dated) Chowhound review, or at this more recent article from Washingtonian.

KAZ Sushi Bistro
1915 Eye (I) Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 530-5500

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