I’ve always been a big fan of Greek salad. I saw something about grilling octopus the other day on twitter and got inspired.
I got some frozen spanakopita and a couple bottles of Greek wine and we had a meal.
For dessert, I got baklava and gelato. It was a great meal, and we enjoyed getting the family together on such a pleasant evening.
by rsiv with no comments yet
EF has been wanting to go see the Nats for about eight months now. Since her bedtime is about an hour after a 7:05 opening pitch, we took her to a day game. As it turns out, taking a baby to see the Nats is pretty convenient. The stroller parking worked out great, and we got EF a neat First Game Certificate at Guest Services after the game.
I got a beer and a hog dog, and EF got a new lil girl lil girl hat.
As it turns out, EF is good luck; The Nats came back to win. I think Big F might have had more fun than lil.
Unfortunately, EF’s mojo couldn’t do anything for the USMNT, who got whooped by Jamaica. We cried on our beef patties, jerk, etc. from Caribbean Plate.
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The US was facing Cuba in the Gold Cup, so I thought we’d have a Cuba themed night. I decided to make Cuban pork marinated in mojo, moros y cristianos with sofrito base, and chorizo. Cuban food isn’t bland, but it isn’t spicy. Since I like bold food, I decided to go heavy on smoke flavor. I broke out the smoking gun, and used Jamaican pimento wood (because I like it, but also because Jamaica is fairly close to Cuba). I smoked the pork and chorizo, but then decided to smoke some sugar and limes as well for the mojitos.I marinated the pork and chorizo in smoke by adding smoke to a ziplock, and letting it sit for about five minutes. The result was fairly subtle, so if you really like smoke, maybe let them sit in smoke a bit longer.
We also came across the first US TV show to be filed entirely in Cuba. Its pretty good, and if you’re interested in Cuba and/or classic cars, I highly recommend it.
Always use more butter than the recipe calls for…
So I’d never caramelized sugar before… The Goya box said not to stir the sugar. I think this is a trick for the uninitiated gringo. I burned the crap out of the sugar the first go around. Then I got on google and decided to try again with vigorous stirring. It worked out much better with lots of stirring on slightly lower heat.
Here is the difference between the two methods:
When making cocktails, one must use superfine sugar. If you’re making simple syrup, or warm cocktails, any sugar will dissolve, but if you’re trying to incorporate sugar into a cold or room-temp solution, only superfine will do.
Being an American, Cuban rum is hard to come by. White Cuban rum is even more rare. I didn’t have any, but I do have a white rum that I really highly recommend. Cruzan aged white is what all white rum should aspire to be. Its soft on the palate, delicious, and very mixable. I believe its aged 14 months which takes the edge off it, and makes it perfect for cocktails. The price point is also very agreeable.
For a mojito you also need mint. Store bought mint is OK, but go on the ol’ interwebs and get you some Kentucky Colonel mint. Its easy to grow, and you won’t regret it.
I used some coconut soda and shaved coconut to make HB a coconut mojito. I went traditional, and just had rum, smoked lime, smoked sugar, kentucky colonel mint, and some club soda/sparkling water.
The pork was on about ten minutes and was about an inch thick. This gave the chorizo plenty of time, and you could see the juices boiling in the casings.
The food was spectacular, and it was time for some soccer.
My second attempt at the flan worked out great. I added some bourbon to the mix for flavor (maybe two ounces), and would definitely recommend that you do the same.
After the match, I was still in a Cuban mood, so I lit an Upmann Magnum 46, and poured a little liquid flan. The H Upmann brought back memories of Havana. The draw was a little tight (the Mag 46 is build like a tank and won’t go out on you), but the flavor was intense. I got cedar, buttered toast, and a hint of salt and sweet hay. There was definitely that je ne sais quoi one gets from a puro habano. Perhaps best, there was none of the hot white pepper taste one gets from non-cuban cigars of milder-medium body. Its probably obvious that this cigar was on, and I really enjoyed it. I kicked back with a playlist that can be found here, as well as my inspiration for the evening in general.
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Last weekend we tried to take LB to The Beach exhibit at The National Building Museum. Its been all over the social medias, so it was insanely crowded. This past Friday, we thought the wait might be shorter, so we tried again. It took me about 30 minutes to park and walk over after I dropped off HB and LB, but after I got there, we only waited about 30 more minutes and we were in (Readers, if you’re looking for some birth control/trying to delay having a child, bring your significant other to the line at the The Beach. Seriously, it was loud, crazy, and this kid grabbed the velvet rope which guided the entrance line and started screaming, “This is just like a giant wiener!!!” while his mom just texted away with a dead look in her eyes).
The superchunk was about the youngest baby we saw there, and definitely the youngest baby in the ball pit. She was a little weirded out at first by the noise, commotion, and balls flying around, but she settled down and enjoyed it. If we hadn’t kept a good grip on LB, she would have sunk below the surface. It was also very difficult to stand. It may have been a little reckless, but EF seemed to get a lot out of it, and we had a lot of fun as well.
After getting bowled over by a big wave, and about a half an hour in the pit, we figured we’d pressed our luck long enough. EF really enjoyed it and never cried, but kids were jumping in right around her, throwing balls, flailing around, and we decided to end on a high note. We went up to the second floor to get a picture of the chaos below. As it turns out, there is a really interesting exhibit about unique architecture around the world lining the rail. We walked around the atrium and enjoyed it.
After the museum, we stopped for a late lunch at Rosa Mexicano. Despite being a chain, I really like Rosa’s food and drinks. It was a little overcast, but not hot, so we dined al fresco.The Beach exhibit runs until September 7th, and really is worth the wait. On Wednesday nights, 5-9, its more adult focused with live music and booze.
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After having some of HB’s soft shell crab pad thai the night before, we went out to Pizzeria Orso and had crab pizza (and a negroni). We did this despite knowing we had plans to get crabs with Lil’ the next afternoon.
Taylors hooked us up as usual.
We went to see the O’Gs before their lil girl was born. Notice HW’s cool hat made specifically for shooting (no nub on the top for when one wears ear protection).
We went to Ted’s Bulletin with Lil’ and then again with CK. I can’t get enough of that place. The chicken and biscuits are delicious.
After watching a little world cup while HB was in Target, we smoked some very interesting cigars that constantly changed. Practically each puff tasted different; it was wild. Later, I made some coconut crusted tilapia, and we had a very delicious rose.
LB was given her first kids menu.
She had her first taste of meat.
While I was doing the stay at home mom thing, we had a picnic.
And I finally got around to hanging the last of her nursery decorations.
Now we’re headed out to Tim’s Rivershore for more crab.
Updated to include more crab:
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I forget how I found out about the book I’m currently reading, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia by Richard S. Dunn. I recall that I was familiar with the Virginia plantation featured in the book because it hosts dove and duck hunts. We’ve made a tradition out of going to Shady Grove’s dove hunt and party each year, but hopefully I’ll make it down to Mount Airy for a duck hunt so I can get a few ducks to put on the smoker for the holidays. The book is a historical comparison of slave life in Virginia and Jamaica. As a Virginian, I’ve found it very interesting. I’ve always been a student of Virginia history and The Civil War, but I’ve already learned a lot from this book. For instance, Virginia experienced slave population growth and exported slaves to the other colonies, while the harsh conditions in Jamaica made the purchase of new slaves a necessity to keep up a work force. The ability of Virginia slaves to have some semblance of a family life is contrasted with Jamaica where family units were rare and mostly temporary. Thats not to say slave life was easy in Virginia, but its very interesting to learn more about it, and see how very different it was from slavery in Jamaica. The research that went into the book allows one to follow generations of slaves and see how they and their offspring lived. Its a very interesting concept, and unlike anything I’ve ever read about Virginia or slavery. The book is a bit dry and tedious at times, but its very interesting and informative nonetheless.
After reading about a quarter of the book, I got interested in my own genealogy. My sister and I found out that our family goes back pretty early in Virginia, and we had land dealings with the Tayloe family of Mt. Airy (the Virginia plantation featured in the book), and the Carter family of Nomini Hall (another Virginia Plantation). Since I intend to eventually get down to there for a hunt, I follow Mt. Airy on twitter, and saw that they have a show on the DIY network right now about restoring their plantation. Since I’m reading about Mount Airy, we decided to watch the show (congrats to the current generation of Tayloes on hauling the anchor up).
The wife and I look forward to seeing the plantation in person eventually, but in the meantime we thought of something closer we could see. The Tayloe family had a winter residence in DC, call The Octagon House. Its one of the three oldest buildings in DC, was designed by the architect of the US Capitol, and served as a temporary White House after the White House was burned in The War of 1812. Its a really interesting place that was not on my radar despite being from the DC area and having a passion for history. We organized a tour and visited over the weekend.
Maggie was a great tour guide, and you could tell she really had a passion for history.
The railings of the servants’ stairs on the upper floors were marred where ropes were thrown over to hoist up heavy loads.
One would not have wanted to visit The Octagon in July back in the day. DC was a swamp, and Constitution was a river/canal. The mosquitos were even worse than they are now. However, when the winter came round, it was ball/entertaining season, and DC came alive. Congress was only in session at this time, so it was the place to be and the time to be here if one had political aspirations.
The white area in the photo below would be filled with ashes and operated like a modern range to make delicate sauces and other things you couldn’t do over an open flame, etc. The opening on the right of the fireplace was for baking bread, which was generally done at a bakery using your own dough, but since The Octagon was host to many parties, baking was done in house. The Octagon was unique in that the kitchen was in the house and not in an out-building. This was due to the constraints of the plot, and the warmth that a continually lit chimney provided the house.
John Tayloe III had quite an impressive liquor/wine collection and willed it to a son upon his death. I’ve easily got a couple barrels of brown sauce myself. Time to get going on that will…
The servants doors were all painted to be inconspicuous. Since so many rooms are rounded, the doors were curved to fit.
The treaty that ended The War of 1812 was signed in the office of The Octagon.
This filing table was really neat. It had triangular drawers, and the top could spin.
Its been really fun to learn some more Virginia history, and being able to visit sites in the book makes for a much richer experience. I look forward to getting my dad down to Mt. Airy for some duck hunting (hopefully this year), and maybe the girls will come too. If you’re in DC, The Octagon House is definitely worth a visit.by rsiv with no comments yet
This week my Mom had a birthday. We also left LB at home to go out to DC with friends. They recommended Kapnos, which is greek and #24 in the Washingtonian top 100 restaurants.
When in Rome…
The food definitely lived up the hype. We sat in front of the rotisseries, so we had to order the pork, lamb, and baby goat.
Blackened octopus and fried cheese…
It was great to get out and catch up with friends, and the food was amazing. On Friday we enjoyed the lil city.
We went over to sweet rice for dinner. The menu has all our old favorites, but has been updated with some new stuff. The soft shell crab pad thai was killer.by rsiv with no comments yet
On a misty Friday, we loaded up the truck and rode down to Pemdenwall to set up EF’s stuff early so I could make my tee time.
No one in our foursome played well, but there were beers, brown, cigars, and loaded fries. A good time was had by all.
You can take the man out of the landscaping game….
After an interesting evening, I went out for some early morning fishing. It was beautiful and peaceful on the lake, and I managed to land a fish. It was a great, and American way, to kick-off the 4th.
Winn-Dixie’s breakfast, as always, was delicious and filling.
As the rest of the guests arrived, it was pool time.
Did LB or Harvey win the staring contest?
Chad and Brammer held court down on the pong side of the pool, but Bolt and I never got a chance to challenge them…
I think this was the most food, and the most guests we’ve ever had. I’d bet 40-50 people rolled through. It was really cool to see the old group all together (with all the new little ones) and having a great time. It was really awesome of Pam-ela and Winn-Dixie to host everyone (and do all the shopping, planning, set-up, cooking, cleaning, and etc.).
The force is strong with this one…
Instead of Bourbon, I decided to mix it up brown sauce wise. The Bernheim was good, but a little hotter than I expected. Still, it was nice to try something new.
The first leader I’ve ever used. It landed me several fish. It was sad to see it go.
The Captain and I took a paddleboat out for a romantic fishing expedition. Unfortunately, we forgot to check our vessel to make sure it was ship-shape, and ran into rudder problems on the water. Several wide arcs later, we made it back to land.
That evening I lit up a fine cigar, and The Captain invented a new beer pong game when Bolt demanded a triangle despite having four cups left, and Pam-ela named it Niagara. Kinky Koleen and I also cemented our names in Niagara history by participating in the first game and determining the rules.
The next morning WinnDixie made my favorite breakfast, and I got to enjoy the rare luxury of the first spoonful of a fresh jelly.
After some more time on the water, I fixed some Palomas and lit a cigar.
WinnDixie boiled some gizzards for a couple hours, and then panko breaded them and fried them. OMG delicious and tender. After that he also made wings. It was decadent.
Another great 4th is in the books, and I’m already looking forward to Labor Day.by rsiv with no comments yet
My mom lives in FCC and is on the chamber of commerce. While watching my daughter, she went to the grand opening of Pita Pouch a couple weeks ago and told me about it. I decided to check it out and got a couple pitas to take home one day after work. They were good, but not mind-blowingly so. The decor is cool and its not another pizza place or froyo joint, so I thought I might mention them in a catch-up post or something. Then I went back with my wife and got the bowl. OMG the bowl. The cool thing about pita pouch is all the toppings, and with the bowl, you can really load them up and try a lot/all of the options.
With the pouch, you can really only fit maybe 5 or so toppings. My bowl was fully loaded and exploding with different flavors. They even give you have a pita with the bowl, so you’re not missing a thing by not getting the pouch. I’ve had the chicken and the beef, but I haven’t tried the falafel yet. The chicken and beef are both good options; you can’t go wrong. For the toppings, I think I passed on about three, but got at least a little of everything else. Once you load up your bowl, get a mint lemonade. I honestly can’t think of the last time I had such a flavorful meal. Definitely check out the Pita Pouch, and definitely go for the bowl.by rsiv with no comments yet