A while back I purchased a groupon for $35 at the Reserve in Federal Hill for only $15.  So I went there with a few friends a few weeks back for dinner.  I ordered the seafood risotto, which I thought was pretty good, but the risotto was a little underdone.  Also, the service at the restaurant was really slow for not being all that crowded.

We were there on a Wednesday, which is apparently “acoustic” karaoke night…whatever that means.  Luckily it wasn’t scheduled to start until 10pm, so we got out of there in time.  We headed to Vaccaro’s in Little Italy for dessert.  I ordered the baci ball ice cream sunday, but they were out of the baci ice cream so I substituted with nocciola.  I had no idea how huge the portion would be.  I could barely stomach it all, but I managed…and it was amazingly good.

Loco Hombre’s on Cold Spring Lane has $5 off their one pound burgers on Monday Nights.  It’s connected to Alonso’s, which is another restaurant in the Crazy Man Restaurant Group, so you can order the burgers from either establishment.  On Monday nights, Alonso’s tends to be filled with football fans, so we chose to sit on the Loco Hombre side and there was no wait.  They offer each of their burgers in a 1 lb. or 8 oz. “junior” version.  With the $5 discount, the 1 lb comes out to be less than the 8oz., so you may as well go for it.  I ordered the Smokehouse burger, which comes with two slices of bacon.


Ramzi had the Asian burger.  What makes it Asian?  Hoisin sauce.  Fine, fine.  hoisin sauce AND scallions.

The burgers were good, but 16 oz. patties are huge, and I think less flavorful than they would have been if they were smaller.  (You know, the whole surface area to volume ratio being affected and all).  I ate half of mine and saved the rest for lunch the next day.  If I had to recommend a burger place, I would still point you in the direction of Abbey Burger Bistro.

Okay, so I’m a *little* behind, but in my defense, it did take a while to recover from this meal (and the leftovers)!  Ramzi decided to undertake the challenge of making and stuffing his own turducken.  So the weekend before Thanksgiving, we had a bunch of our friends over to help partake in said turducken.  Everyone brought their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes.  There was so much amazing food.  I was quite impressed with all my friends’ culinary skills.

So a 20 lb turkey, a 6 lb duck, and a 5 lb chicken.  All deboned.  With either sausage or cornbread stuffing layered in between.  Kudos to Ramzi for doing all the deboning.  Closing those birds up was not easy.  I was a little worried when we didn’t get the thing into the oven until noon, and guests were due to arrive around 7pm.  Although several websites said total bake time would be around 9 hours, ours was done in just under 7.  And it tasted awesome.  I can’t say I was able to tell what bird I was eating when all was said it done, but it was yummy just the same.  Below is a (sort of ) step-by-step assembly.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

November 26, 2009

Remember to take pictures of all the food =P

The Bacon Explosion is a recipe that swept the internet early this year.  It was first posted on bbqaddicts.com, and was even featured in the New York Times.  For those not familiar with the recipe, it consists of two pounds of bacon woven around two pounds of sausage and smothered in bbq sauce.  And yes, this monstrosity was recreated in my house.  Ramzi and I hosted a brunch the day after halloween, and our friend, Mark made the bacon explosion.  It was a definite hit, but we could all feel the fat clogging our arteries as we ate it.  Don’t think I’ll be having another one of those any time soon…

What does one do with 7 hours to kill in Boston?  Eat and drink!  JetBlue recently began service out of BWI, and to promote this they offered $9 one-way fares between here and Boston-Logan.  It didn’t seem like an offer to be passed up, so Ramzi, Ed, and I booked a day trip.  We took the first flight out of BWI in the morning and the last flight out of Logan in the evening.

The first thing we did when we arrived was grab some breakfast.  We went to the Paramount, a cute little restaurant in Beacon Hill.  I had the tomato, basil, and mozzarella omelette.  The food was all very good, and the service was fast.  A great way to kick start our food tour.

Following this, we walked over to Union Oyster House near Fanueil Hall for some clam chowda.  We also shared a plate of oysters.  Gotta have oysters at an oyster house.

So we were kind of full at this point, and it was only like 12:30…so we decided to take a break and stopped over by Hennessy’s next door to Union Oyster House for a drink.  Our bartender made us an “Irish Trash Can,” which has equal parts blue curacao, gin, rum, peach schnappes, triple sec, vodka, and a can of red bull, placed upside down in the glass.  As the red bull seeps out, the drink turns green.  Ramzi and I drained it.

Prior to our trip, I had outlined a few places to stop at, thinking that it would be enough to cover 7 hours.  But apparently I’d forgotten how small and walkable Boston is.  There were only a couple places left on the planned food tour, which were both in the North End, so we decided to take the T up to Mass Ave and Boylston and walk around a bit.  We walked over to Sweet Cupcakes on Mass Ave for a sweet treat.  They offer miniature, almost bite-sized cupcakes so we each got one.  The icing is piled high, but it’s nice and light and not overly sweet.

We walked allll the way down Newbury street only to find ourselves back at the Public Gardens and the Commons, before heading back over to the North End.  I didn’t really know what to do…we still had so much time!  And we were still kind of full.  So we stopped in this random bar in the North End and watched soccer while sipping on limoncello for about an hour.  Then we stopped by Mike’s Pastry to pick up some cannolis to bring back to Baltimore.  I wish I had appreciated Mike’s cannolis more when I was living in Boston, but now I guess I’ll take what I can get.

I took these pictures when I got home.  Don’t they look soooo good??  I brought them to work, and they were a total hit.

Okay, last scheduled stop on our little tour was James Hook & Co. for lobster rolls…and more clam chowder.  Their clam chowder was a LOT better than the one we had at Union Oyster House.  You could actually see clam bits in there, and it was a lot heartier.  Very satisfying.

It was about 3:30, and we didn’t have to get back on the T to the airport till about 5, so we walked to Chinatown.  It was too late for dim sum, but we went to Taiwan Cafe, one of my favorite stops in college.  We just got some noodles and dumplings to tide us over on the flight home (not that we needed it…really, we were just trying to kill time).

And that was it!  I definitely got made fun of by security for carrying a big bag of Mike’s through.  We made it home by about 9pm.  Good spontaneous trip.  I realize by now that I’ve done food tours in several major cities along the east coast: Boston, NYC, Philly…yet I have never done one in D.C.  That’s going on the to do list =).

My friend, Jenny suggested the book, Julie an Julia for our book club.  So for our meet up, she asked that everyone attempt a Julia Child recipe.  I decided to try her leek quiche recipe, since it didn’t seem too complicated.  But my gosh that woman used a lot of butter.  Julie wasn’t kidding when she described the vast amounts of butter she went through when attempting Julia’s recipes.  The crust alone used a stick and a half of butter plus a quarter cup of shortening or something like that.

So the quiche was almost a disaster.  I made it the night before, and the smoke alarm in my house is probably the most sensitive thing on the planet.  I go to prebake my crust and the smoke alarm goes off.  So I take the crust out, and the butter is just melting out of the crust.  The entire crust looks like it’s melting.  I freak out and try to patch the crust up as best I can.  I decide to just throw in the filling (which also contained a crazy amount of butter) and hope for the best.  For the most part it didn’t look terrible, but I think I did underbake it slightly.

I have to say I was super impressed with my girlfriends’ cooking abilities.  Angy made stuffed mushrooms, Tiffany made a Fricassee de Poulet a l’Ancienne.  Julie made Coquilees St. Jacques a la Provencal (Scallops Provencal).  Meg: Coq au Vin.  And Jenny and Jess made desserts.  Everything was awesome.  Though we didn’t end up discussing the book a whole lot (we never do), it was a nice evening with friends.

All the dishes as described above, pictured from left to right, top to bottom.