Kanlaya Reax

As promised, below is the rundown of my dining “experience” at Kanlaya last night. In both both the technical and taste categories, I would say there were some significant hitches. First of all, I posted three or four notes to the Twitter feed of my work blog, SCOTUSblog. Considering that site works primarily in Supreme Court reporting, maybe descriptions of the beer service at local Thai restaurants is not exactly germane. Oh well.

On the taste front, I guess there was nothing particularly wrong with Kanlaya. Often I judge restaurants like this by their vegetarian menus. It isn’t that hard to pump out chicken pad thai, or pad see yew, or any number of other meat dishes (of course, really good meat entrees aren’t that easy). But is the vegetarian food anything more than sad bits of fried tofu with veggies and sauce?

Kanlaya has a large veggie menu, which means maybe I just picked the wrong thing: my Pad Prik was tasty, but the beans (which were advertised as “Fresh String Beans”) looked like the frozen cut beans you can get at Giant, and the sauce was watery, and not particularly spicy (for its rating of two peppers on the menu, the highest they gave).

Evidently this is a problem that others have had:

Some like it hot, and diners who do had better make that point clear to the staff. This is a kitchen that pulls its punches if you aren’t insistent; shaved beef with bamboo shoots in a supposedly spicy red curry didn’t sound a single fire alarm.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food however, even a friend who had chicken satay, and was alarmed to see two pieces of toasted Wonderbread swimming in the sauce. So maybe I just picked wrong.

The final verdict: the food was fine, and if I had something going on in Chinatown and I was jonesing for a little Thai, I would go back again. But now I really, really, REALLY need to go to Thai X-ing. You can see my Twitter feed, admittedly short because of the tweets sent to the SCOTUSblog feed, after the jump.

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The Inaugural Twitter Blog!

Tonight, I’ll be joining some friends at Kanlaya in Chinatown, before heading to a play at the Shakespeare Theater. Be here at 6pm sharp to watch a little Twitter action.

thrifty/epicure 2.0

Some of you might have noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of action around here lately. In fact, some of you sent me a couple of very nice notes about it. Well, I am alive, and not even on vacation. What I have realized however, is that there is just no way to post every day, or even close to every day, on the blog. I just need the time to do other important things, like watch House marathons on USA, or call my friends to complain about my fantasy football team.

I’m sure you are all sorry to hear that. But there are some positives that will come of this. First, I will be resuming posting this week. Also, during this busy time, I’ve been learning about what I see as a great little blogging tool: Twitter. I’m sure some of you know what Twitter is; you can skip this. But for the rest of you, Twitter is a microblogging tool, where each entry can only be 140 characters long. Also, Twitter can be updated from your mobile phone, meaning you never have to be somewhere where the Internets can’t immediately figure out what you are doing with your life. Yay! Anyway, read more here, if you really want to.

What Twitter can do for me, though, is allow me to create instant reactions to the various things I’m doing. And that is what I’m going to do with the blog. I will post entries, which will contain a link to my Twitter profile, where I’ll “liveblog” dinners out, dinners in, food festivals and basically anything else I can think of. Afterward, I’ll post the whole thing on the blog proper. If I don’t think that Twitter has done the event justice, expect a longer post with more considered thoughts.

So, starting this week, here’s what you can expect: one long post, on larger topics or events and one or more liveblogs of various places I’m visitng or foods I’m eating. I’ll try to announce the liveblogs earlier in the day on the blog so that you know what is coming. If you wanted, you could also follow me on Twitter – though I should warn you, not everything I write is about food, or is even vaguely coherent.

thrifty/epicure at Brightest Young Things!

Check it out, folks! Your humble t/e editor can now be seen at brightestyoungthings.com, writing about food, and generally doing things that are both bright and young (including stuff that is waay outside my general knowledge base).

Check out my first post, on the Zagat guide’s attempt at cheap food rankings for DC, here.

Blogs and Recipes: A Round-Up for 9/2

  • Go your own way: underground restaurants, underground drinking establishments popping up all over the place. While I’ve never been to an underground restaurant, I will say that I had some of the best drinks of my life at the “speakeasy” mentioned in the metrocurean article. [NYT, metrocurean]
  • Celebrity chef invasion of DC continues, now with more Gordon Ramsay! [DCist]
  • New fronts on the DC cupcake wars: Hello, Cupcake opened in Dupont Circle (right across the street from your editors office, expect a review soon), and opening with less media attention, Lavender Moon of Alexandria. [DCist, Houndstooth Gourmet]
  • This week in free events: music at Eastern Market and Marilyn Monroe. [Going Out Gurus]

Eat these things this week:

Pesto Couscous Gratin

After a ten-day hiatus from regular cooking, I was back for my traditional “meal + plus Mad Men” last Sunday evening. My return to kitchen time also happened to coincide with a lucky discovery – I finally managed to track down an elusive piece of pasta. Now, maybe that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to you, but you aren’t scrambling for content for your personal blog. If I can’t squeeze 500 words out of a search for basic grocery items, maybe I just don’t have the narcissism to really make this blog a serious part of my life.

Anyway, you might have noticed that the title of this post mentioned couscous. Couscous is a really interesting food – you might think it’s a grain, but in fact it’s pasta, ranging from the tiny (traditional couscous) to the somewhat less tiny (Israeli, or pearl, couscous). Personally, I dislike traditional couscous, though: it gets mealy, it never hold up on its own. So why am I writing about couscous? Israeli couscous.

Israeli couscous, unlike traditional couscous, is much larger – the size of small peas – and holds up much better to cooking. Even better, when toasted before being cooked, it retains a nutty sweetness that comes from the carmelization of the of the starches in the pasta. Israeli couscous, however, has proven exceedingly difficult to find in this town. Which is exceedingly strange, considering how easy it was to find in Boise Idaho. Yes, people, the state that brought us Larry Craig’s bathroom shenanigans and Bill Sali’s independent discovery oil alternative fuels in our forests also gave me pearl couscous in the bulk food aisle of my local supermarket, something DC’s Whole Foods, Yes Organics and Safeway/Giant pu pu platter haven’t provided.

I was on the verge of taking desperate measures, when I finally found some – yes, Whole Foods had heard my silent prayer. I loaded up; at $2.50 a pound, it’s more expensive than regular pasta, but at this point I was desperate. Since my supply seems to be somewhat intermittent, I’ve come up with a plan to stretch my couscous supply: I’m going to eat so much of it that I get sick of it, and then I don’t want it again for months.

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Back from Virginia, and Blogging Up a Storm

Sorry to have such a long break…three things combined to slow my posting progress (but hopefully not my prowess). First: a very long weekend in Virginia Beach. Second: crushing gourmet malaise caused by the tourist-trap eateries of said vacation spot. Finally, and most excitingly, I’m working on a couple of new, exciting things, both for this blog and for my general internet presence.

Keep watching (or reading, as it were) for more.