Valentines Dinner for 2

Because Jeff and I both had to work yesterday, we celebrated Valentine’s Day last Saturday.  We went to see a movie, which we haven’t done in ages and we went out for dinner.

I’ll admit we didn’t pick the most romantic movie ever made – in fact, the movie we chose probably wouldn’t make it into the list of The Top 1,000 Most Romantic Movies Ever; but we both enjoyed it.  We’ve both been wanting to see American Sniper since it was first released, but our schedules kept getting in the way; so finally, as a gesture of love for Valentine’s Day, we finally made it to the theater!

Some of you may want to throw things at me when I write this (so I’m glad I’m safely behind my computer and you are safely behind yours), but I thought the movie was OK.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the real-life story is incredible and the movie certainly made me grateful for all the men and women who are brave enough to do things those of us who are not in the military fortunately don’t even have to think about.  But I thought the movie itself could have been better.  Of course, in order to be better it might have had to be 6 – 8 hours long….but anyway this post isn’t about the movie…….

After the movie, Jeff and I went out for dinner.  Again, romance did not guide our decision.  We decided to try Korealicious in Lemoyne, which was highly recommended to us by family. Korealicious makes both traditional and Korean fusion dishes.

Not having a Korean guide with us and not getting much feedback to our questions from our waitress, we ordered three dishes (some of which we remembered my sister talking about when she told us about her family’s recent visit to Korealicious).

Here’s what we ordered and the menu descriptions:

  • DUK BOKI (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes) – A popular Korean dish made from soft rice cakes, fish cake and sweet red chili sauce.

DUK BOKI

  • JAJANGMYEON – A noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste), ground pork, chicken and vegetables (zucchini, onions, carrots).

JAJANGMYEON

  • BULGOGI – Korean style grilled marinated beef served with rice.

BULGOGI

The food was delicious, if a bit strange (not in a bad way) to our taste buds because we haven’t eaten a lot of Korean food. Having only one other Korean food experience (at a Korean BBQ called Honey Pig outside of DC), I cannot speak to how the food stacks up to traditional Korean food; but I can tell you we really enjoyed it!  In addition to the food we ordered, we also ordered hot tea and were served a yummy tea that tasted faintly of sesame seeds.

Condiments

Of course, there were some bowls of yummy little condiments served at the beginning of the meal – pickled radishes, cucumbers and Kimchi.  The duk boki reminded me of gnocchi – although the rice noodles/dumplings were longer than gnocchi, they had the same texture – but of course, the sauce was completely Korean – spicy and delish!  The bulgogi did not disappoint – the beef was tender and the marinade was yummy…a little sweet and very flavorful.  The jajangmyeon was interesting (in a good way)- the noodles were long and chewy and the sauce was tangy and thick.

The décor is simple and there aren’t many tables.  But Korealicious has a kind of funky vibe.

The service, however, was another matter entirely.

In a word, it was terrible.  Our waitress either was too shy to answer our menu questions or she didn’t know how to answer them or she didn’t want to.  In my opinion, when you are serving a type of food that is unfamiliar to many of the people who live in the area in which you are located, you should expect to and be prepared to answer some questions about the food.  In fact, I’d even go so far as to say you should be enthusiastic about what you are offering; however I know we all have different personalities.  But if you work in a restaurant you should have SOME knowledge of the menu and willingness to answer questions.

While this may be a cultural thing, we hoped for some small plates on which to put a little of each dish we ordered rather than reaching across the table and trying to maneuver noodles on chopsticks into our mouths without making a mess.  Because our waitress didn’t check up on us after she delivered our food, Jeff had to go in search of plates and napkins and water.

After our food was plunked onto the table with no explanation as to which dish was which, we didn’t see our waitress at the table again.  EVER.  She was moving about the dining room and working in the kitchen, so she was busy; but she was never to be seen at our table.  No one asked if we needed anything else or if we were enjoying our food.

After we had finished our meal and waited another 40 minutes (during which we were happily talking with one another, but still hoping to leave) we had to ask for to-go containers.  While we were waiting we heard another diner talking with what we assumed from the conversation was one of the owners. The woman we assumed to be an owner was complaining about how busy the restaurant has been.

Now, I know the restaurant business can be a tiring one – both physically and mentally, and that everyone has a bad day; but as a customer I’d prefer not to overhear someone complaining about my business.

Overall, I would give Korealicious 2 M’s our of 5.

2 ms for Korealicious

I’m not sure if they take reservations – I did not see any indication on the website; but if you want to give Korealicious a try, I would recommend either going early or late – not at the dinner rush.  I’d also recommend not sitting too close to the door on a cold night. And don’t go with the expectation of having great service.  Now, if I were rating on the food alone, I’d give Korealicious a much better rating……in fact, you may want to do takeout!!!

As for dinner on February 14th…..that gets 5 M’s out of 5!

5 Ms for Jeffilicious

I got home from work last night and I was tired – a good tired, but tired nonetheless.  I was on my feet from 8 am to 4:30 pm on Thursday, from 9 am to after 10 pm (with a short time to sit and rest my tired dogs) on Friday, and then from 10:30 am to 5:30-ish yesterday.  No, I’m not complaining ….. just telling you how things went down this weekend.  So I was physically tired when I got home last night.  And I was prepared to have a quick shower and head to bed.

YuMmmMmmMmm

But when I walked into the kitchen, I found a plate of pretty little cookies and a note from Jeff (who was working).  I will share the parts of the note that apply to this post…….

“I wanted to make a dinner to have ready for you when you got home, like Ina does for Jeffrey.  I kept whispering, “don’t tell Janice” but no one heard me…here are some instructions to finish:

1. On the bottom shelf of the fridge, there is a beverage that “pops.” Enjoy now or later.

2. Start pasta water (it’s already salted!!!)

3. Cook pasta.  Colander is in sink.

4. Have dessert now or later – your call.

5. Add meatballs to sauce in blue pot (they are in the fridge on the bottom shelf).

6. Heat the red sauce and meatballs.

7. Salad is in a bowl on the bottom shelf of fridge.  It needs to be dressed [the dressing was in a container next to the note].

8. Eat !! “

It just doesn’t get any better than that!  I am the luckiest wife – more blessed than I deserve!!!!  So that you don’t think me cold and heartless, I did take that quick shower, but I waited for Jeff to get home from work before I enjoyed the lovely meal he prepared!  He made Ina Garten’s spaghetti and meatballs and it was fantastic.  The décor was homey, the service impeccable and – best of all – I got to eat dinner in my jammies!!!!

I <3 Going Barefoot in February

Barefoot in February

I love winter!  There, I said it.

I know there are many of you who want to throw a huge snowball right in my face – especially on a snowy day like today – and I understand that winter isn’t for everyone.  But for me, I’ll take this weather over 90 degrees and humid ANY DAY!

But I haven’t lost my mind enough to actually go barefoot in the snow.  When I say [or rather, write], “I <3 Going Barefoot in February,” I am referring to the class I taught on Saturday night at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School.

We had a wonderful time.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group of attendees (both newbies and experienced), nor could I have asked for better “backup singers.”  I know I write about the “backup singers” a lot, but I am always so grateful for all the help and support they give me.  They make my job a breeze!

The concept of the class was to put my spin on several recipes written by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa.  Little did I know, I’d have so many Barefoot aficionados (and a few Barefoot stalkers) in class!  The group was very knowledgeable about Ina and very familiar with her recipes, which made for a fun evening.  We shared our experiences with her recipes, our love of all-things-Ina, our admiration for her house in the Hamptons and even a bit of jealousy for her Hamptons-Manhattan-Paris lifestyle!!!!

The food turned out wonderfully and all the dishes complemented one another well.  Here’s what we had:

  • Herbal Iced Tea – this is a wonderful concoction I learned to make from Ina’s book, Barefoot Contessa Family Style.  I’ve made this when I’ve catered events and I’ve served it at home.  People always enjoy it and at least one person asks for the recipe each time I make it.  My twist Saturday night was to add some Amaretto liqueur to make it “non-virgin.”  I’ve also made it with Gran Marnier, Calvados and Tuaca – all with yummy results.
  • Rosemary Roasted Cashews – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe.  I’ve served them at home and made them to give as gifts.  They are addictive.  To complement the hint of orange in the herbal iced tea, I added some orange zest to the spice mixture.  It was a great addition!
  • French Mussel Bisque – the recipe is fantastic “as is,” but it’s even better when you add some bacon and Aleppo pepper.  Mmm mmm mmm!  I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve also considered smoking the mussels for this soup.
  • Lemon & Garlic Roasted Chicken – all Barefoot Contessa lovers know that Ina often makes roasted chicken for her husband, Jeffrey.  And a whole roasted chicken is one of my favorite meals – in fact, I usually get three meals out of a roasted chicken – the first night usually I serve the chicken as is, the next day I make chicken salad and then, so as not to waste anything, I make chicken soup from the bones and remaining meat.  But, it was impractical to make whole roasters for class.  So I adapted the recipe for bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and made them in Le Creuset French ovens. They were so moist and flavorful!
  • Potato & Fennel Gratin – This is the recipe I altered the most, but I think the essence of the dish remained.  I added more fennel and more onions.  I also took away some of the heavy cream – I like cream as much as the next French guy, but I found it to be too rich and little too soggy with all the recipe called for.  Finally, I added some breadcrumbs to the top along with the Gruyere cheese.  I loved the result – the potatoes and veggies were soft and creamy and the topping had a bit of a crunch.
  • Oven Roasted Carrots – I combined a few different Barefoot recipes and one of my own to get the end result I enjoyed.  The final product had carrots, shallots, currants, olive oil and spices.  I followed the advice of the “backup singers” and served them a little on the al dente side; although when I make them at home I typically serve them a little softer.  They were yummy.
  • Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes – OK, these are delicious in their own right, but I can’t leave well enough alone so I made them Almond Joy Style. I made the cupcakes mini-sized and I added coconut oil and flaked coconut to the cupcakes, iced them with coconut icing, topped them with a whole almond, and then dipped the icing in the chocolate ganache.  Holy Moly…..rich, but fantastic!

I hope those who attended had half as much fun as I did.  They were a great group of people.  They asked wonderful questions, shared their own Ina experiences and heartily ate what was served – a cook’s ideal company and a cooking instructor’s dream!

To tease you, I’m working on recipes for my next class, which is entitled Pasta Perfection.  This pic is of Lemon Goat Cheese Tortellini Salad with Roasted Vegetables. I made the tortellini last night and boiled them as soon as I finished forming them. It just doesn’t get any fresher than that!!!!

Tortellini Salad

What’s your favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe?