May 14 2011 Taste of Mount Vernon Triangle

16 May

So this is my review of the second inaugural taste of my neighborhood; the Taste of Mount Vernon Triangle.

Mandu – Offered a selection of a handful or so of tasty dumplings in the bar area. Very friendly staff.  I didn’t take a picture only because I ate them all so quickly : )

Kushi – So I was dissapointed that Kushi did the same thing as last year – pre-wrapped plum or pork in rice and seaweed. They taste fine, but it’s not at all representative of the quality or diversity of their food. And it’s a bit of a cold atmosphere to come in, as you just pick it up and leave. Very different than the fabulous food and boisterous atmosphere you find normally there.

Busboys and Poets – didn’t participate this year. Last year, they served a pink lemonade.

Taylor Gourmet – Offered a choice of half of an italian, turkey, or portabello mushroom sandwich.  Tasty, as always.  Below is the sandwich (plus cheese from Subway, referenced below).

Subway Liquor – Offered a tasting of one chardonnay (which they offered at a discount for 8 bucks and we enjoyed later on that night), and a selection of cheeses and marinated mushrooms. I’d never been there before given Tunnel is closer to me. They have a good selection of inexpensive wines, as well as the usuals, beer, liquor, etc. I noticed they had jugs of Manishevitz; good to know.

Henry’s Soul Cafe – I think Henry’s is great, but they were unfortunately out of sweet potato pies when we got there around 4 pm.

Papa John’s – When we got there late last year they let us take a remaining box of pizza home, this year we were there earlier so picked up a veggie slice and a meatball slice.

Buddha Bar – Didn’t participate this year, unfortunately. Last year, they were a class act offering sushi and martinis.

Tunnel Liquor – Offered a beer tasting of shock top amber and raspberry.

Overall, I enjoy exploring my neighborhood (and getting to meet others in my neighborhood doing the same thing). But no one beat Buddha Bar’s sushi and martinis this year (and they, disappointingly, didn’t participate this time), and I wish Kushi would do something worthy of themselves, as their food is fantastic, or just not participate, because it’s hard to convince people I know to go there and drop that type of money on food when that rice wrap is the only thing they’ve had there.  Mandu was great and Subway stepped up to get neighbors to show up.

Peanut Butter Jello

9 Oct

I came across the Serious Eat’s Wednesday contest and thought I would come up with something for this week’s challenge, hangover remedies.

The easiest ingredients to find and cook with on the Serious Eat’s linked website’s list of hangover remedies is: water (obviously : ), tuna, apple juice, orange juice, honey, peanut butter, almonds, ginger, sugar, lemon juice, pickles, asparagus, peanuts, coconut water, and bananas.

So seems like an easy, quick recipe using multiple hangover remedy ingredients would be a sandwich made with 1 can tuna fish, ½ cup chopped almonds, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp grated ginger, topped with pickles and asparagus spears, with a glass of water/coconut water or orange/apple juice on the side.

I personally tend to prefer an Irish breakfast, however (preferably from a diner in Yonkers or the Bronx).  Nothing like the combination of blood pudding, bacon, tomatoes, eggs, and toast to get me back on the wagon. Tomatoes have lycopene, which is thought to prevent some types of cancer.  Blood or black pudding is boiled in pig’s blood in a length of intestine, and other intestinal recipes, like menudo, are reputed hangover remedies. The eggs are protein, the bacon provides some needed grease, and the toast has carbs to absorb the alcohol.  A balanced hangover meal, I think at least : )

But, in the spirit of the items listed on the hangover remedies link, I decided to try to remake one of the suggestions – the peanut butter and banana sandwich.  I have been intrigued by savory jellos since the tomato gelee (or jello) recipe we entered that earned us a place as finalists in the Red Fruit Fest, so I thought I would try a peanut butter jello with bananas combination.

Peanut Butter Jello with Banana Sandwich

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

½ cup cold water

½ tsp salt

1 package gelatin

1 banana

Crackers or bread

Celery (optional)

Heat peanut butter with ¼ cup water over low heat until hot.

Mix gelatin and ½ cup cold water.  Mix the hot peanut butter into the gelatin mixture and pour into bowl or dish.

Chill in fridge for 4 hours.

Slice banana, celery and plate.  Spread jello on crackers with banana and/or on celery.

Lawyers with food trucks

8 Oct

Since I, like many other DCers, are fascinated by food trucks, I thought it would be interesting to see how many lawyers turned food truck vendors I could find.  So turns out a couple lawyers across the country have decided to run a food truck rather than review documents (although not as many as I’d expected).  Cupcake trucks appear to be winning (for now) among the lawyer turned food truck owner crowd.   But I’m sure that will change with the market for lawyers continuing to be difficult and as entrepreneurial lawyers catch on to the food truck craze (I admit, I sometimes think about it myself…).  Although their trucks and cities vary, and they come from a range of law school tiers, lawyers turned food truck vendors have practiced law for 8 years or less,  and none appear to be former “biglaw” attorneys.  

Buttercream (Philly) – University of San Francisco School of Law

Buttercream offers a variety of cupcake flavors, from “vanilla vanilla,” a yellow cupcake with vanilla frosting, to red velvet and cream cheese frosting cupcakes, and occassional special flavor cupcakes.   The founder, Kate Carrara, worked for time in Scranton at the law firm her grandfather founded, Lenahan & Dempsey, for 6 years, followed by working for 2 years at another firm where she did coding.

Washington Post article on Buttercream here

 

Cupcake Stop (NYC) – New York Law School

Cupcake Stop has a host of delicious and fun flavors, including Boston Cream, Black and White Cookie, Hostess Cupcake, Drunken Raisin, and Nutella Crunch.   The founder, Lev Ekster, is a recent New York Law grad turned cupcake entreprenuer.  Seems from the press and his success that he’s probably making more money than many of his law school peers. 

Inc.com coverage on Cupcake Stop here

 Curbside Cupcakes (DC) – George Washington University Law School

Curbside Cupcakes sells mainly traditional flavor cupcakes like vanilla, red velvet, chocolate, and lemon, with some less traditional flavors like almond joy, key lime, and cookies and cream.  The founder, Sam Whitfield, a 2002 graduate of GW law, was a contract attorney before starting his truck.   I’ve waited 45 minutes in line to buy a couple and they were delicious.

Above the Law coverage on Curbside Cupcakes here

 Green House Food Truck (Dallas) – unknown law school

The Green House Truck was started by a “nonpracticing” lawyer turned foodie, and serves up healthy, seasonal food under $10, like grilled sweet potato fries, miso flank steak, and watermelon gazpacho.  

Dallas Observer coverage here

Sabor’a Street (DC) – USC Law School

According to welovedc.com, this newcomer to the DC food truck scene plans on serving latin-inspired food, including interpretation of staples such as tacos and arepas.   It’s being started by a married couple; he’s a chef and she is a practicing immigration lawyer and 2003 University of Southern California law graduate. 

Welovedc.com coverage here

Are there any others…?

Gochujang Blue Cheese Burger with Gochujang Marinated Bacon and Blue Cheese Cole Slaw Contest Recipe

6 Oct

Gochujang Blue Cheese Burger with Gochujang Marinated Bacon and Blue Cheese Cole Slaw Recipe

Because I can’t resist a contest and making a new recipe (or at least a new take, this one using Annie Chun’s Gochujang sauce), and because the only reviews of it I found online suggested it wouldn’t be good on a burger, I decided to take up the challenge.  Below is the recipe I submitted (more pics to come). 

Ingredients:

1b ground beef

4-6 pieces bacon

Annie Chun’s Gochujang sauce (4 to 5 tbsp)

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 package/container crumbled blue cheese

2 cups red cabbage (shredded)

1 english cucumber

Jicama

Radishes

Mayonnaise (1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp)

2 tbsp dijon or grainy mustard

1 lime (juice)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup water

4 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp minced ginger

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 hamburger buns with seeds

Kimchee (optional)

Lettuce, sliced tomato (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Instructions:

Burgers:

1.         Marinate meat in mixture of 2 tsp gochujang sauce, ½ tsp worcestershire sauce, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 tbsps garlic, 2 tbsps ginger, 2 tbsps brown sugar for a couple hours or overnight, and form patties.

2.         Grill until done.

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw:
 
 

 

1.         Mix ½ cup blue cheese, the cabbage, ½ cup mayo, mustard, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl together. 

2.         Cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Pickled cucumber/radishes/jicama

1.         Cut cucumber, radishes, and jicama into pieces. 

2.         Bring ¼ cup rice vinegar, ¼ cup water, 4 tbsp sugar, and ½ tsp salt to a boil in a saucepan, then cool to room temperature. 

3.         Combine vegetables and let sit in fridge for a few hours or overnight.  

4.         Drain vegetables before using. 

Gochujang mayo

1.         Mix 3 tbsps mayonnaise with 1 tsp Gochujang sauce.

Gochujang marinated bacon

1.         Place bacon in plastic bag with 1 to 2 tsps gochujang sauce and shake to distribute the sauce. 

2.         Preheat over to 400 F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Arrange bacon slices on the foil and place the baking sheet on the center rack.  Cook for 10-18 minutes depending on thickness of bacon and desired crunchiness.  If bacon begins to stick to the foil, turn over. 

3.         Remove and drain bacon on paper towel.

Putting it together:

Spread gochujang mayo on bun.  Place burger on bun, gochujang marinated bacon on top, and sprinkle blue cheese.  Top with pickled vegetables and blue cheese cole slaw.  Optional: add kimchi, tomato, onions, and/or lettuce. 

Eat, Pray, Love Cupcake

5 Oct

The Eat Pray Love Cupcake placed third in Modern Domestic’s contest to depose the bacon cupcake.  The cupcake is an original recipe, combining the flavors of the three countries she visits in Eat Pray Love in a cupcake – Italy (lemon and basil), Bali (coconut), and India (cumin).  Recipe below:

http://www.moderndomestic.com/2010/09/we-have-the-winner-the-next-big-cupcake-flavor-to-depose-the-bacon-cucake/

Ingredients:

Lemon Basil Coconut Cumin Cupcake

1 ½ cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp basil

1 tsp coconut extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1 ½ tsp baking powder

2 eggs

½ cup butter

¼ cup milk

pinch of salt

Lemon Basil Syrup

2 cups fresh basil

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

zest of one large lemon

Vanilla Lemon Basil Icing

3 tbsp butter

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4-6 tbsp Lemon Basil Syrup

2 cups confectioners sugar

½ tsp cumin

Sprinkle with flaked coconut

Review of the last couple hundred comments (1051 to 1250) received on Proposed Vending Regulation Title 24

30 Aug

All of the past couple hundred comments were in support of food trucks.  Many used some version of the yesontitle24 sample letter.  Some added personal stories about eating from certain food trucks or expressed their opposition to attempts by brick and mortar restaurants to limit competition. 

Curbside Cupcake had the most specific shoutouts, followed by the Lobster Truck and Fojol Brothers. 

Below are some interesting comments submitted:

*********

I am writing to support the current proposed DCRA regulation Title 24 Chapter 5 that will allow mobile vendors to stay in DC and continue offering more choices and value to consumers.

Please do not allow the introduction of any discriminatory language into these regulations that would limit mobile vendors or food trucks.

Please pass the regulations as written and protect the diverse, growing and small business vending options in the city.

Also, have you had the bahn mi sandwich from El Floridano? It’s so good. Every Friday. I don’t know what I would do without it. Food trucks are very hot right now. Regulating them or restricting them would significantly set back the food renaissance that is finally happening in the district.

We are slowly coming out of the dark ages of over priced, expense account meals and into the light of real, innovative food, real restaurants with real character. Believe me when i say that the people who are excited about food trucks are the same people who are going out and supporting the great new local restaurants at night as well. I am one of them.

Thank you,

Owen

Self proclaimed bon vivant and avid food enthusiast

*********

I would like to submit some brief comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Vending Regulations 24 DCMR 5 in particular section 556. In particular, several of the proposed rules would not benefit the general public who buy lunch (including myself, a District resident since 1997).

For example, the proposed 556.2 (b) reads: “(b) Once it is not in operation, the Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicle may not re-open to serve customers at that same location.” I am struggling to understand the purpose of this rule or why DC needs to regulate whether a food truck such as Sauca, DC Slices, etc. can close temporarily and then re-open. There may be various periods of time where the truck needs to close, either because of inclement weather or to take advantage of a lull in customers.

The proposed 556.6 reads: “No mobile roadway vending business shall be located or transacted within forty feet (40 ft.) of any intersection or within any of the distances specified in this title; provided, that vehicles vending ice cream or other products likely to attract children as customers shall, when stopping to make a sale, park curbside outside of, but as close as possible to a pedestrian crosswalk without entering the intersection or otherwise interfering with the flow of traffic.” This requirement really does not make sense with the number of cuts/alleys/service roadways even along Massachusetts Ave. NW where I work. All legal parking spaces should be usable by food trucks/mobile vendors.

Finally, 556.8 reads: “No Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicle subject to this section shall be parked within sixty feet (60 ft.) of a business with a fixed address that sells the same type of food.” This is out and out protectionism. It will be unenforceable. As citizen reading this, am I to assume that somewhere in the DC regs the various types of foods are laid out in some bizarre taxonomy that will be understandable to the average code enforcement officer? I think the opposite is true, that enforcement will be driven by complaints from overpriced dining options that are locked into high rents (despite the commercial real estate depression) and can’t cover their overhead. Why as a consumer in DC am I required to have less options because CafePhillips can’t compete with the food trucks along Mass Ave. NW?

I think that the proposed regulations should be re-worked to remove the protectionist language that is in there along with truck requirements identified by DC Vendors Caucus as superfluous (canopies, etc.) before passing this. There definitely should not be a “truck-only” spot created, as I have read some businesses want, and the rest of the city “truck-free”. This isn’t Denver or other cities where food trucks are treated as either a boutique curiosity or consigned to the “downtown” area because that’s where the big lunch demand is.

Karl

***********

I’d like to express my opposition to legislation that would restrict street vendors in DC. As a professional employee in the McPherson Square area, I depend on food truck menus to provide affordable and delicious alternatives to the over-priced likes of Cosi, Corner Bakery, Five Guys, Au Bon Pain, and other sub-par sandwich shops.

Also, I enjoy the diverse and varied fare that food trucks provide- not everyone wants to sit down in a restaurant that charges $10 or more for a wilted salad and soggy sandwich. Food truck entrepreneurs should be praised for their innovative ideas in food service, job creation, and fulfilling public appetite.

Please save DC food trucks!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

***********

I both live and work in DC and heartily support the proliferation of food trucks and street vendors in DC. Brick and mortar restaurants may be understandably concerned with the possibility of competition, but the DCRA’s regulations should not be predicated on preserving the existing monopoly of a brick and mortar restaurant. If a restaurant’s product is compelling, then they will compete successfully. There is room for all in the market. And in any event, the new vendors I have seen and/or patronized do not have a price point substantially lower than that of a brick and mortar restaurant, and do not appear to be siphoning business from existing businesses.

Food trucks and vendors add variety, diversity, color, life, options, and interest to our city. So long as they are regulated and sanitary, the proliferation of street vendors should be encouraged and supported. Consumers should be the paramount concern of the DCRA (and the city council for that matter) in this regard.

I had a lobster roll from a truck on Monday on Penn. Ave., which was delicious and brightened my day. It would not have happened but for the DCRA’s encouragement and pro-new business rules. And there was a line of people down the block. So clearly, this is something that is in demand and should be encouraged.

Please consider my comments in the record of this rule making proceeding, and thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Regards,

Brendan

***********

I am writing to support the current proposed DCRA regulation Title 24 Chapter 5 that will allow mobile vendors to stay in DC and continue offering more choices and value to consumers.

Please make sure that the language in the regulation does not place undue burdens on mobile vendors or food trucks. For example, the design standards are arbitrary and don’t seem to have any basis. They appear to be a way to bog down a vendor without a safety or public purpose.

The restaurants may not like it because it is competition, but that only makes the restaurants better competitors. Efforts by restaurants to exclude vendors with the same type of food within an unreasonable distance (e.g., 60 feet) is an effort to quash the competition and should never be allowed.

Even more unfair is a suggestion that the mobile vendor not be within 25 feet of ANY restaurant. That would exclude mobile vendors from much of the downtown area. Does DC currently prevent restaurants serving the same food to locate adjacently? Or, from restaurants located adjacent to one another? The same standard should apply to mobile vendors.

Also, suggestions that the ANC be allowed to intervene and take public comment have nothing to do with health and safety issues. That allows local politics to dictate food. The vendors provide safe and nutritious food and with the appropriate level of oversight, food and traffic safety can be achieved.

Please pass the regulations without additional burdens and protect the diverse, growing and tasty options for those of us who work and live in this city.

Thank you,

Danielle

***********

I write in support of the new wave of food-vending trucks that have appeared on the DC culinary scene. While the regulations may need to smooth out questions of etiquette between mobile and landbased vendors, they should not impose restrictions that unfairly favor the brick and mortar establishments.

In fact I trust the health and safety of these trucks more than the vermin-infested buildings from which many restaurants operate. I’ve not seen a rat jump into a truck, but I have seen them invade tiny openings in the walkways/alleyways next to restaurants.

The choices available for us in the Golden Triangle have become much broader with the arrival of these trucks. I trust it will inspire more small businesses to open providing similar delights, such as cupcakes worth eating (Reeves is gone, Federal Bakery is gone), decent Indian food at a decent price, and now the latest indulgence for someone like me related to seafood restaurateurs in Maine — lobster roll and whoopie pies.

“Starving for inviting food at 14th and H”…

Peter

Yes to food trucks, but yes to Title 24 as written?

25 Aug

So, I am hopeful that the new regulations will be worked out to continue to keep mobile food trucks in DC, and so that the brick and mortar and mobile businesses can all get along.  Frankly, I don’t even really see the competition, if a cupcake truck is in farragut north I don’t see how it’s competing with the cupcake establishments in dupont or georgetown.  If I want a cupcake and I’m working downtown, I’m not going to fight traffic to get there and then stand in line at Georgetown Cupcake. But with all of the “yes to title 24″ hype, I think there are some problems with Title 24 as written:

 Section 556.1-556.2 – Taken together, these sections suggest that food trucks have to keep moving unless they have a customer, and if they are still sitting in the same spot without a customer, have to close. Once they do so they cannot re-open to serve customers at that same location. What if there is a 5 minute gap between customers, do they have to move then? If they are paying for the parking spot, as required by proposed Section 556.3, then why can’t they sit out the meter and keep serving customers that show up? Who’s going to enforce this? Can a food truck be forced to move by a meter enforcer even if they have paid the meter? If so, there’s a potential legal challenge there. A better, and more enforceable, solution would be to allow food trucks to sit in the parking space they have paid for.

Section 556.4 (which makes Section 535 apply to mobile food trucks)– “Vending Truck” requirements – is nonsensical. The section purports to be different than the sections of vending carts and vending stands, and yet requires umbrellas for food trucks. I have yet to see a food truck with an umbrella that meets the definition, other than perhaps FoodChainDC. (But FoodChainDC may be in a different position than other “trucks,” it seems like it could fit into the cart definition).

Section 556.8 – Fines for food trucks within 60 feet of an establishment selling the “same type of food” – This section may be “void or vagueness” as written. That doctrine provides that a government cannot impose fines on conduct that a reasonable person cannot tell is prohibited by the statute. As an example, is a cupcake truck the “same type of food” as a Starbucks that sells cupcakes and muffins? Since there is a Starbucks practically every block downtown, if that is how this is interpreted, that could make it hard to abide by the law. Is a lobster truck the “same type of food” as downtown restaurants like Kinkeads, DC Coast, etc. that serve seafood? Now, are my examples a reasonable interpretation? I wouldn’t consider those to be the same type of food myself, but I can imagine that restaurants that feel threatened would want a broad interpretation of this to keep competitors further away. A better solution would be to take this out or at the least, make it clearer when a food truck may be violating this provision. But why is this provision even necessary? How/who is going to enforce this anyway? MPD?

Section 538 – Advertising – I have seen at least one commenter suggest the restrictions on advertising to only advertising that is the name of the business, price, and food or service sold is an unconstitutional burden on free speech. Without weighing in on that issue at this point, there are some problematic issues for food trucks I see in this section. That advertising of the truck can only be on the “front” and not the back or street side (Section 538.2) seems unnecessary. That advertising has to be mechanically printed and not written (Section 538.4) could also be an unnecessary burden for some food trucks, I have seen handwritten descriptions of items for sale.

P.S. this is not to be construed in any way as legal advice, this is just my personal opinion.

Check out other stories on this debate:

DininginDC

WeLoveDC