Tuesday, September 30, 2008


In all my food adventures, I have to admit the one ethnicity of food I almost never go out and try is Indian. I am almost embarrassed to admit to my friends how dismal my knowledge of all things Indian is. So when my friend Steph invited me to join her and a girlfriend for dinner at Rasika, I jumped on the chance to try and break out of my usual routine.

Rasika is often called the best Indian in DC and always makes the Washingtonian's top 100 list. Worst of all it is a 5 minute walk from my office. So I have no idea why it took me so long to make it there for dinner. When I walked in, I liked the atmosphere instantly. It is trendy looking, but still minimalistic. (As opposed to the Co Co Sala route of just being trendy to an extreme.) I guess I expected the restaurant to look a little more like your average Indian joint in the strip malls of America, but I'm glad I was wrong. I could have sat in their lounge all night.

The other factor inducing me to never leave their lounge? The ridiculously amazing cocktail menu. If Acadiana sets the bar for Southern inspired cocktails, Rasika set an equally high bar for exotic cocktails. I started off with a blackberry something or other. So yummy! It was like a big kid smoothie. Then I switched to this gin/campari/dill cocktail. I love anything with campari, but I really loved this drink. The only down side to it being that I felt like the dill kept getting stuck in my teeth.

Sadly I didn't get great pictures of the food because my camera was in it's I'm-going-to-be-on-the-fritz-and-then-straight-up-dry-on-you phase. (Which it has fortunately be rescued from!) Below is the crab galouti which are spicy little crab cakes. They were delicious.

I also tried their palak chaat (crispy spinach) because all the reviews online raved about this dish. It was very tasty and a huge portion, but somewhat hard to eat. Imagine a crumbly salad. The table started out with some naan and goat cheese kulche to dip in the cucumber raita. I am not crazy about cucumbers, but I did enjoy the raita anyway. It is mild, and the cool dip goes well with the naan. I was, however, crazy about the goat cheese bread. A-MA-ZING. This is hands down the one thing you cannot leave Rasika without trying in my limited opinion. I also tried one of my dinning companions lamb curry dish. I can't remember which one at the moment, but it was great. Next time I am going to go with an entree instead of trying a few littler things. The entrees at our table smelled so good, I just know I wouldn't be able to resist them on a second visit! So if anyone is in the mood for Indian, I'm looking for a reason to return to Rasika as soon as possible and continue my Indian education!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Co Co Sala

My girl friend from Baltimore was in town this past Friday. We were all meeting her boyfriend for the first time, and I wanted to impress them both with how cool DC can be. It was a perfect excuse to try out a trendy new place. I proposed a few ideas, but Co Co Sala ended up being the one place everyone agreed upon, which worked out because I had really been dying to try it since I had sampled their fare at the Penn Quarter festival. It is a restaurant downtown (by F and 10th) based entirely around chocolate. Everything on the menu is either a dish with chocolate or a appetizer/side dish full of rich flavors and designed to compliment a chocolate meal.

(Blown sugar sculptures decorate the dinning room.)

We walked into a swanky bar/lounge scene full of well dressed people and were shown to our "table," which was actually just a couch with two little tables that primarily fit cocktails. The lounge feel of the whole place is very fun, but it would have been nice if they had thought about dinner customers. It was quite the balancing act to fit our drinks and food on these tiny tables without anything falling, especially the specialty chocolate dishes because they often came out on large, unconventionally shaped plates. Also something for Co Co Sala to think about in their lounge vs. restaurant identity is service. While we ordered a fair amount of food, our waitress definitely acted more like a cocktail waitress. She came by sparingly, never asked how anything was, never checked to make sure the meal had all come or was timed correctly (both of which we had problems with), and she was very slow about addressing anything we asked for (a second glass of wine or a missing dish.) Basically the only thing she did do well was look hot in her uniform and fill our waters. All was forgiven, though, because the food is phenomenal!

We ordered apps from all of their different sections, and not a single person didn't love their food.

My swordfish slider and shrimp mac and cheese. Perfectly caramelized onions and rich, creamy mac and cheese.

Erin's bacon mac and cheese which comes with a piece of chocolate covered bacon. (Everyone loved it, but I thought it was... interesting.) Plus her lobster salad, full of huge chunks of lobster. Not shown is the original mac and cheese and the Louisiana crab cake, but both were raved about. I tried the crab cake, and, like the lobster salad, it was also filled with large chunks of crab.

Then we moved on to the chocolate courses which is what you come to Co Co Sala for. Erin and I split the Aztec experience.

Our churros with a cinnamon cream and dulce de leche dip.

Our hot chocolate souffle with fiery center. Plus sides of coffee ice cream, gold decorated chocolate bar, and Kahlua. The souffle was amazing. It wasn't too spicey. There was just a pleasant heat on your tongue at the end of eating it. The final dish (our petit fours) apparently escaped being photographed, but that's ok because it was predominantly white chocolate and therefore my least favorite.

My friend and her boyfriend got the Italian tasting, which I was extremely jealous of at points.

Vanilla panna cotta and chocolate praline soup.

Flavors of tiramisu.

Their petit fours: Tuscen ricotta bite and a chocolate dippped ameretti.

Our one friend who opted out of one of the chocolate journeys, thought she would end the night lightly with the chocolate tasting. On the menu it is simply described as chocolate in 3 states: solid, semi-solid, and liquid. In reality, the chocolate tasting is a rainbow of chocolates from white the dark with pieces in each state. She finished every last drop despite saying how full she was.

If shots of pure chocolate aren't your thing, don't worry. The cocktails were inventive and delicious, especially the co cojito, and I did really like my wine even if it took 30 minutes to get the second glass. Plus there are drink pairing suggestions for all courses to give you some ideas.

Between the drinks and the food, you should definitely put this on your list of places to visit. I think like any new place Co Co Sala has some kinks to work out like most new restaurants. Hopefully they will because I'm really looking forward to coming back to try everything else on their menu.

Last Jazz in the Garden!

What are you doing this Friday? Cancel any plans you may already have, and get your butt over to the very last installment of jazz in the sculpture garden. It is the most fabulous picnic opportunity in the city. Sit next to a Suvero steal thingy magingy while sipping champagne or a LeWitt blocky buildingy while nibbling cheese and crackers. All the while fabulous music and happy people surround you.

The girlfriends and I will definitely be in attendance. Likely in some ridiculous outfits, rolling around taking pictures and just being generally silly. (The champagne may or may not have something to do with anticipated silliness.) Hopefully I will see you there!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cupcake Taste Off

With the Washington Post in the middle of their Cupcake Wars and cupcakes shops popping up everywhere, it seemed like the perfect time to jump on the cupcake fad. So this weekend, I had my friend Steph over and we decided to have our own cupcake tasting. Steph is the ultimate cupcake tasting partner because if there is anyone who likes desserts and all things sugary more than me, it's her. The contenders in our line up were Hello Cupcake, Georgetown Cupcake, and Cake Love. I'd love to show you pictures of our specimens and the following carnage, but sadly my digi seems to have gone to the camera heavan. So instead here are some comparable pictures I found online of some of the flavors we sampled.

From Hello Cupcake, Steph brought over the peanut butter blossom , the raspberry berret , and a basic vanilla on chocolate cupcake. Our verdict? The cake part was alright. Steph swears they were more moist the last time she went. So I'm not sure if we got the bad cake or if she got exceptionally good cake on her previous visit. The icing was very very fluffy, but very very intense in flavor. Although chocolate and peanut butter are pretty much my favorite flavors, I could only take a bite or two of the peanut butter blossom. I thought it was a bit too rich. Although Steph was able to finish off most of it. I liked the raspberry flavor better. Steph voted Hello Cupcake as her favorite icing, but based on flavor Hello Cupcake didn't hit the mark for me.

From Cake Love I picked up 2 chocolate cupcakes, one with strawberry frosting and the other with key lime frosting. Now right off the bat, let me caution you against ever getting anything lime flavored at Cake Love because it bascially tastes like a gin and tonic, which is definitely a flavor that is in the running for something you'd most like your cupcake not to remind you of. So the rest of the tasting was based on only the strawberry cupcake. The cake part was blah. It was definitely the driest and most flavorless. The icing, however, was the saving grace for the strawberry cupcake. It was made of real strawberries which you could see and taste. The texture was also more substantive than Hello Cupcake which I really liked. Steph, however, thought the icing had good flavor but was too slimy. We both voted this worst cake, but I voted it favorite icing.

Finally! Georgetown Cupcake. I picked up a smorgasbord of cupcakes from here, but sadly only 3 of the 4 survived the trip home on the back of my bike. Lemon berry was the completely unsalvagable victim. So I picked at the remains in the box which were delicious. I am really sad the whole cupcake didn't make it to the tasting. The cake in all the Georgetown cupcakes was the best. It was the moistest and most flavorful. You could really taste the chocolate or lemon. By the end we were scooping icing from other cupcakes and topping in on left over cake crumbs from Gtown CC. Of the ones that were included in our tasting, the chocolate 3 was our hands down favorite: great cake, rich ganache, and little French chocolate flakes on top. The rest of the cupcakes weren't as good as the chocolate 3 only because they had the standard Gtown CC icing which is really runny. Hense the reason the cupcakes didn't travel very well on the way home. Our overall verdict was that the flavor is great, but if you aren't going to eat your cupcake right in front of the shop, you risk having it melt all over you. Winner in taste but loser in travel-ability.

Has anyone had different experiences with any of these cupcake shops? Or had an amazing experience somewhere else? I heard Buzz has the best cupcakes. Thoughts?

Palin's Fashion Sense

To be fair, the Post's fashion editor, Robin Givhan, is an acclaimed writer and Pulitzer Prize winner, and I am an amateur blogger who sometimes goes missing for weeks at a time. So if anyone is going to present more insightful, well-written fashion comments, it is probably Ms. Givhan, but in her recent article 'Sarah Palin's Unassertive Fashion Statement,' I'm not sure if I'm all on board with what she is selling. Mostly because of this paragraph:
"Her clothes are unpretentious, but they are also unremarkable. They have nothing to do with Fashion. It's fashion show season now, with designers unveiling their spring 2009 collections in New York, Milan and soon Paris. So far, none of them have suggested that the next new thing for the power-wielding woman is a straight black skirt with a boxy, oyster-colored blazer, which is what Palin wore when she accepted the vice-presidential nomination in St. Paul, Minn."
The rest of the article goes on say that Mrs. Palin is just a girly girl with a love for oversized flag pins, and isn't it refreshing that she goes about the campaign without having to change that. I could agree with that (except for oversized flag pins being refreshing). She's no Hillary Clinton or Cindy McCain, and her clothes are certainly unpretentious. Do her clothing choices have nothing to do with fashion, though? I don't think so. Just because she is not in neon pantsuits, does not mean she is not carefully styled and a reflection of the fashion world. See for yourself. Here is Mrs. Palin compared against a look from the 2009 spring runway shows:

Dolce & Gabbana

Cushnie et Ochs

Gianfranco Ferre

Max Mara

John Richmond

So what do you think? Do you agree with Ms. Givhan and think Mrs. Palin is doing her own thing and it's refreshing? Or do you think she is equally as image obsessed as all other women in the public eye, the only difference being that she is going for an image we haven't seen in the political sphere? In any case, I would argue that no woman is uninfluenced by the fashion world (whether she buys into it or rejects it) unless she is very far removed, and although Mrs. Palin is from Alaska, I don't think she is quite that removed. I would argue instead, that while her outfit choices may not land her a spread in Vogue, they are very much inspired by the fashion world (and likely a team of professional stylists that the campaign keeps on call.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Renwick Gallery

Blogger has been on the fritz as of lately, but tonight I am back in action! So a few weeks back I stumbled upon a random Smithsonian that I had seen in passing but never paid attention to before. (Partly because by "seen in passing" I mean I'd noticed it out of the corner of my eye after playing multiple rounds of flip cup with my kickball team at The Exchange.) Erin and I were walking from lunch at Kinkeads all the way down to the Portrait Gallery because we had the day off and it was nice out. On the way we passed the Renwick Gallery, and we decided to stop in and give the place a sober chance.

Wow! So glad we did. The museum is super small, but everything in it is so cool. I could have sat in there forever and stared at all the crafts. Check out some of my favorites.

The Native American gallery. So much going on.

This piece was amaaaaaazing. At first I couldn't figure out why they would cover up some broken and then just leave it there. But that's not the case at all. The whole piece, base and sheet, is actually one piece of wood that was carved and bleached to create the effect of a sheet over a clock. You have to go see it in person. The concept and execution are phenomenal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Socks! In real life!

So quick update:

I saw a girl in knee socks in real life! She was rocking the full on school girl vibe. I've got to give it up to a girl who is equally inspired by Gossip Girl as I am.

Ok so the picture sucks. I took it from way far away, and all the zooming in pixelated it pretty bad. Buuut the point is this trend is totally coming to the District. If this is not enough inspiration for you, you can stop by the window display at Juicy in Gtown. They have some funky knee socks going on that should get you in the mood for fall. I get my awesome overtime check this Friday, and I can't wait to order my thigh highs. I am going to try to rock them like this woman on the weekends and then with a slightly longer skirt during the week. I am still working on the work skirt. I picked out a pattern, but I am waiting until fabric goes on sale. Who knew that nice fabric wasn't cheap? I will keep you all updated on my tights obsession which will hopefully include some photos of outfits soon!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Festival Weekend

Did you miss all of the festivals this weekend? I have to admit, I passed over the AdMo one. I went last year. I had a good time, but mostly because of the shopping in the stores that are always there. The festival itself was only so so. Some cool stuff (but pricey), a lot of random stuff, and so many people you could barely move (but you could certainly sweat to death).

This year Erin and I hit up the Penn Quarter festival instead, and what a good choice that was! It's an arts festival which notably includes the culinary arts. A ton of well known and well respected restaurants in the area set up stands where you can try a signature dish for $1-$3. Then there was a wine tasting (with probably 30-40 wines - score!) for only $7. So here's a run down of all the different foods we got to try:

Ceiba: A pork taco and 2 pork & shrimp spring rolls. Quite tasty. Erin was actually obsessed with her taco. It was good, but I was glad I convinced her to try more stuff instead of just getting another taco.

: Chole batura which is a chick pea mixture with puffed bread. (I only know this because thankfully they put up a translation.) They made the bread right there, and it was so light and fresh. The chick peas were yummy too, but the puffy bread really made the dish.

701: Braised pork spring rolls with some fresh specialty slaw. Solid, but not particularly mind blowing.

Cafe Atlantico: Their tuna ceviche which I've had before, and it is amaaaaaaaaazing. This was no disappointment. If you haven't had it, go. Now. Eat. Then tell me how right I was.

Aria: Tiramisu and a tomato/artichoke/mozzarella/prosciutto skewer. I got the impression from Erin that the tiramisu was good, but I don't think it could have compared to my skewer. It was really tasty. Everything was well proportioned. (As in it wasn't all tomato and a tiny bit of everything else.) And there was some sort of light, creamy sauce on top that mixed really well with all the flavors. I've never been motivated to try Aria, but I might go now just based on this skewer.

Coco Sala: A lavender chocolate and a milk chocolate/peanut butter/banana pudding thing. (They didn't call it a pudding thing, but I can't remember their schmancy name.) Rave reviews on both accounts. I muuust get to Coco Sala on my next pay check.

Oya: Banana bread pudding. What can I say about this? You cannot go wrong with bread pudding. Einstein proved it is a mathematically impossibility.

Ella's Pizza
: We've been there before. It's not too shabby. This was more the same.

If all that is not enough to tempt you to visit next year, there were also awesome crafts (See adorable acorn pirate man below. Have you ever seen a cuter stuffed animal version of an inanimate object?!) great music (Cute boys singing a cappella!) and again a $7 wine tasting. $7! All the wine you can taste! Even if you hate cute things and delicious food, there's no way you can hate on the $7 wine tasting. Do yourself a favor and mark this on the calendar for next year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Every time I try to get back into a regular posting schedule, I keep getting overwhelmed with the actual writing of a post, and plus life has been distracting in general lately. I knoooow. Excuse excuses. Let's be honest. Basically I suck. Anyways I am going to try to ease myself back in this time with smaller posts and build up. So today's mini-post subject is my new obsession for fall...

Knee and thigh high socks! I am uber obsessed with all things Gossip Girl. (Especially Blake Lively's legs. Could they be any more perfect? And her hair? God I crave it! Like she walked off the beach a second ago. Aaaah! So unfair! But aaaaaanyways...) The one thing from GG that I truly believe needs to be imported to the District is tights in all colors and sizes. I've seen some of it going on, but the tights game totally needs to be upped. Take some inspiration from the lovely Constance Billiard ladies:

And if you think this looks is applicable to real life, think again. Look at this girl from the Sartorialist rocking the knee highs with a totally different angle:

So the knee high/thigh high look doesn't have to be exclusively for prep school inspired outfits. I am personally going to do my part to bring this trend by sporting tons of tights now that it seems we're finally going to break into some crisp, cool fall weather. Macy's and American Apparel both have a fun selection of tights and knee highs. Lots of colors and patterns to choose from. I have been having more trouble finding thigh highs that are fun and colorful, but I did stumble upon this website. They have a million color to choose from! So I'm thinking when I get paid in a week, I'm going to spend an absurd portion of all the extra money from overtime investing in the world's largest collection of colorful thigh highs. I can't just get black and brown. You never know when an outfit might be calling for orchid pink or scout green thigh highs! Now my next adventure is finding a work appropriate skirt with which to wear these tights. Because although Blake looks fabulous in her outfits, I'm thinking my boss might not be as crazy about me wearing a plaid miniskirt to work. Doesn't the corporate world has so many lame rules?