Monday, September 26, 2005

Eating DC and MD: From swordfish to ziti

Mr. Tart and I just returned from a four-day trip to Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. We had a number of memorable meals, but unfortunately none were captured on film, so just imagine!

We visited the American Indian History Museum (Smithsonian), where we encountered perhaps the tastiest cafeteria fare in the country at the museum cafe, Mitsitam, which means "Let’s eat!" in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. In keeping with the theme of the museum, the cafeteria had stations that offered native foods from different tribes' culinary traditions. Mr. Tart had buffalo chili on frybread, while I partook of a lobster roll and wild rice salad ( We shared a very rich and cinnamony Mexican hot chocolate, too. Other choices included tamales, corn pudding, venison, and turkey. It took me about 20 minutes of wandering around and visiting the various stations to narrow it down! Everything was delicious, and I loved the idea of eating food that matched the museum.

Our fanciest meal came that evening when we dined at a well-reputed seafood restaurant in downtown DC, Kinkead's ( Mr. Tart ate there once seven years ago and has dreamed about it ever since. We ended up at a very cozy circular booth, ordered a bottle of Reisling, and oohed and ahed over the menu. They do fish, and they do it well, and they know it. The menu was divided up into the "Kinkead's classics," the other dishes they're offering seasonally, that day's specials, and a list of fish they could prepare just as is, with no sauces or sides. (I think there might have been a lamb and a chicken dish too, much not much that lived on land.) I had a crab and corn chowder, decorated with shrimp, while he started with lobster. Our main dishes were chili-rubbed snapper on a bed of roasted chilis and corn/sweet potato/chili hash with a tamal on the side (him) and pistachio pesto-coated swordfish in roasted tomatoes and braised veggies like baby artichoke and greens. Everything was so good we kept sneaking bites off each other's plates! After a meal like that, we didn't need dessert--but we ordered it anyway. I ended up with ganache-covered chocolate mousse while he had a trio of cremes brulees (lavender nectarine, white chocolate, raspberry macadamia).

Mr. Tart needed a root canal shortly thereafter--but it had nothing to do with that meal!

At my cousin's wedding, we ate lots of Italian--Aunt Kathy's homemade baked ziti and pizzelle cookies dipped in chocolate at their house, then a pasta bar at the catered reception (three types of pasta, three sauces, shrimp and chicken and roasted red peppers to add). The wedding cake sported chocolate chips, a not-too-sweet cream cheesy icing, and six smurf figurines. Plus they had a chocolate fountain!

The least formal meal--but just as yummy as the others--was in tiny Westminster, MD, at Fall Fest. Vendors were selling the ubiquitous fair foods like funnel cake (not that there's anything wrong with funnel cake, mind you) and fresh-squeezed lemonade, along with sweet potato fries (a welcome change from the regular). But what thrilled us (Mr. Tart, parents, brother, aunt, and cousin) the most were all the Maryland crab dishes available. We sampled crab soup and two types of crab cakes (one deep fried, one grilled). Those were heavenly--large chunks of fresh crab with very little filling--and my cousin declared them the best crab cakes he's ever eaten, and I tend to agree. Dessert was kettle corn, my personal bete noire.

I love being married to a fellow foodie and traveling to places with "eating" as one of the scheduled activities!


Anonymous Vinnie said...

Um, Hi.

I'm Vinnie, an e-penpal of Tara's for almost 4 years now. I thought I would say hi to you all and that I'm enjoying this culi-blog.

I love cooking and eating. I used to love eating more, but now I'm not so sure. I can eat just about anything, but my cooking is made more challenging by the particular tastes of my wife, who (for example) likes Thai but not Mexican, likes sashimi but not sushi (she hates rice, but raw fish is okay), and can list nuts, pulp, and carbonation as things to avoid. Also, she's trying to take food into school with her every day (otherwise we'd go broke with restaurant bills) so I am looking for dishes that store and reheat well. My options get narrower and narrower, but I am having some success.

I wonder if any of you have any favorite recipes to suggest that might fit our bill. I know Tara could probably make some suggestions, but I thought I'd open it up to you, her co-foodies...

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Tart said...

Well, I like being married to a foodie too! I'm really glad we got to Kinkead's and wish we could eat like that all the time.

6:05 PM  
Blogger lis said...

hi, vinnie. i met you briefly in louisville when I dropped tara off after our backpacking trip.

I'll try to think of some meal ideas for you. one of my favorites for packed lunch is hummus--pretty simple, but reliable.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Lisa B. said...

Might I suggest the humble casserole? Yesterday, for lunch I had leftover spaghetti squash layered with some pesto and some roasted tomatoes, baked, with melted parmesan on top. It's kind of seventies vegetarian, but it was damn good and people in the room were jealous.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Vinnie said...

Casseroles are a good idea. I checked my cookbooks, and I'm only finding somre pretty boring ones. I made a beef pot pie a couple of days ago, and am planning to make a tuna casserole tomorrow. I'll keep looking for interesting casserole recipes.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Watch out for reheating tuna casseroles in communal spaces! I've been yelled at for making the copy room stink of fish.

What about quiche? You can include just about any combination of veggies, meat, and cheese, it tastes fine both hot and at room temperature, and it's easy to freeze individual servings. I've even made lighter versions with fat-free half and half and/or fewer yolks than normal.

Also, hash-browns based casseroles (mixed with canned cream of whatever soup, sour cream, cheese, veggies) are quick and cheap and easy.

My final suggestion (for now, at least) would be to explore soups: also easy to modify for a picky eater, storable in invidual portions, and simple to heat up.

1:27 PM  
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7:20 PM  

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