Monday, July 20, 2009

Food, Food and More Food

Despite the relentless heat sapping the will to live - and cook - from my body, I've been managing to maintain my caloric input quite nicely.

Saturday night we went to the grocery store en famille, and Jesse shopped while the girls and I bellied up to the fish counter. Hannah ordered seafood gazpacho, with shrimp and scallop ceviche, and I had seared scallops on spinach tossed in red onions, capers, a hot bacon dressing, and topped with a balsamic reduction. Hazel took one look at the menu and left for the BBQ counter to get a chopped beef sandwich and a draft Maine root beer. Hannah liked her soup, although it was spiced a little bit too much for her, and we all liked my salad, so I shared. Hazel made short work of her beef.

After all that we had to have gelato, of course - Panna Cotta, Espresso, Strawberry, and Chocolate, in varying combinations.

Sunday morning saw the return of the neighborhood brunch, thanks to the generosity of our friends who agreed, after much begging, to open up their home to the 'hood once again. Jesse made biscuits, and we traipsed down the street with our offerings in tow, meeting up with other friends along the way. Some brought champagne for mimosas, some brought home-grown tomatoes, and everyone pitched in to help one we were there. It was a smaller crowd than it has been, but was just the perfect way to start off a Sunday.

While brunching, I mentioned that I was contemplating attending one of Addie's meet-ups that night, at the Cathedral of Junk. One thing led to another, however, and after a long day cleaning out our utility room and doing laundry, I was napping on the couch, and had decided to stay home. That's when the phone started to ring, each time a different friend saying she wanted to go with us. I could take a hint, and I could wake up, so we called the girls back home from their adventures and set off, stopping three times to pick up our friends. See, that's why we got the mini-van!

Addie organized a terrific evening - in addition to all of the lovely junk, the Tipsy Texans were there pouring cocktails (local Hairston Creek cantaloupes and watermelons, juiced and mixed with Tito's Vodka, Pimm's, and a simple syrup made with celery and parsley) and offering "appropriate" Jarritos to the kids, the Pop-So-Cool folks brought their frozen concoctions, and Jennie from MisoHungry made and brought Lamingtons to share. We saw her again tonight, and I was shocked to hear she had leftover Lamingtons in her refrigerator - how can that be possible, and why didn't I have more than half of one?

On our way home from the Junk, we planned a happy hour at The Clay Pit for tonight, but I hijacked it once I saw that Uchi was hosting a Sake Social, with free sake and free appetizers. Our friend Lisa was a little apprehensive about trying sushi, but she has an adventurous spirit and tried several items.

The kind and generous folks at Uchi were pouring three kinds of Junmai-shu, also known as Very Nice Sake: Sacred Power, Divine Droplets, and Bride of the Fox. Each was an eye-opening experience -- as smooth and mellow as no sake I'd ever tasted before. My favorite was the Sacred Power, in case anyone out there is taking notes.

In addition, excellent appetizers were passed around - chilled cantaloupe dipped in a sweet rice wine syrup, slow-roasted pork belly, tempura eggplant, scallions, onion rings and tiny spring onions - I was happy to stand in their lobby all night. Luckily for me, Paula had other ideas, so I soon found myself seated at a table in the dining room, contemplating their exquisite menu, with Paula, Lisa and Angela.

Our server, Jody, was excellent - she took command of the table, which is what I look for in a good server, and wasn't afraid to steer us towards a good choice or away from a not-so-good choice. After determining that some of us had visited before and some had not, she introduced the newbies to the fine art of ordering at sushi restaurants, a philosophy I like to call "keep ordering until you're full, or broke."

We started with tempura Japanese Pumpkin, which was so good that we ordered four plates before the night was done, and staked our claims to the dipping sauce by whatever means necessary (I'm looking at you, Paula). Paula and I shared the foie gunkam - foie gras on rice, wrapped in nori and topped with celery and avocado - rich, buttery goodness. A table favorite was the Machi Cure, maplewood smoked baby yellowtail with yucca chips, Asian pear, and Marcona almonds - this was the dish that lured Lisa to try raw fish, not once, but twice. The fish was as fresh and sweet as you could hope for, and the yucca and pears were the perfect accompaniment for it.

We also ordered a few hot rocks - the scallops, and the beef - and they didn't disappoint. Angela's favorite, the Hakujin, combined fresh salmon and asparagus, dusted in tempura flakes - the pairing of the fish and vegetable was creamy and classic. The pitchfork paired wagyu beef with avocado, topped with crisp, fried leeks, which could have been a dish on their own.

Oh, and I can't forget the tako pops - everyone's favorite. Those little babies were tasty!

Before too long, Angela and I had to hop into her pumpkin carriage and head home to our responsibilities. Mine were watching Cosmos ("He talks funny, Mom") and offered me the ice cream Jesse mixed up last night, Salted Caramel. Would you believe I'm still too full to have any?


Badger said...

You may be full, but I am STARVING after reading this! Sounds like a good time (or two or three)!

peevish said...

Love that last photo!

Wow, that was a mouth-watering post. And yes, I DO believe!

Vetmommy said...

What a great opportunity - free stuff at Uchi! You have had some amazing gastronomic adventures lately.

Vetmommy said...

Are you ever going to blog again, or just Tweet? Miss your posts...