Saturday, May 12, 2012

Japanese Street Festival

In addition to our visit to Ollie's Trolley last month, Superking and I also went to see the Cherry Blossom Parade accompanied by the Japanese Street Festival. The parade was pretty neat though it seemed a little slow. For some reason, we'd see an act go by then had to wait five minutes before the next act made it by. Not sure what was up with that but what we did see was neat.

Cherry Blossom mobile

Japanese ladies and gentlemen doing traditional Japanese dancing

DC Roller Derby girls

Southern belles in very frilly dresses

antique fire truck

a cherry blossom!

military band

Miss PIggy

high school marching band

cherry blossom princesses

After waiting around for the parade to pass by, we wandered a few streets over to the Japanese Street festival.  It was packed full of people! There were tons of food vendors, Japanese art and various wares, and even street performers.  I've never seen so many anime costumes in one place before!

Japanese Street Festival

Adorable girl selling anime costumes

We decided to grab a bite of Japanese cuisine so we fought our way through the crowd to stand in a line headed towards a food vendor.  Half the time we weren't even sure what we were standing in line for. There was no shade and it was unseasonably warm for early April (thank you global warming).  But as we neared the front of the line we noticed the sign where we were about to order says "Sushi Taro".  Hey, we know this place!! It was one of our favorite stops on our first DC weekend trip!  We know the food is gonna be good then.

Of course we have to order at least one weird thing from their menu. We ordered a couple of pork buns, some pork belly on a stick, and an octopus tentacle also on a stick.

here's the menu...

The pork buns were good.  Nice soft buns filled with juicy pork and some kind of cucumber/veggie slaw with a light tangy sauce.

The pork belly...awesome, of course. Whats not to like about fatty pork meat on a stick??

The octopus...was interesting. First of all you can see the tentacle trying to escape the box.

Then we squirted a little lemon on it...I've had octopus before, even a little tentacle.  But this was a bit much for me.  I don't like the feeling of those practically-raw suckers on my tongue!! And to me the taste was not even what I was expecting.  I actually spit a piece out, which is something I never do!  Superking, however, loved it and ate it all up like it was going outta style! 

Overall it was a fun experience. But next time I'll just stick to the pork belly or go with regular sushi.

the one cherry blossom left on the Tidal Basin

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ollie's Trolley

Last month Superking and I were in DC for some of the Cherry Blossom festivities. One of which was the parade.  We got there pretty early that morning and wanted to get some breakfast somewhere nearby the parade route.  We weren't sure where to go and just began walking up and down the streets until we came across this "unique" looking place called Ollie's Trolley. This place has been in business for over 30 years and has been named a DC landmark institution.  It is most known for their burgers and their vintage antique toys (all of which have signs that say "do not touch"). 

We did not get to try their famous burgers as we were there for breakfast.  But it was an interesting experience to say the least. From the outside (and the inside to be honest) it has the look of a sort of creepy 1920's carnival/circus because of the lights and the vintage toys, dolls, carousel horses, etc. Even as I'm trying to think of how exactly to describe this place, no words come to mind.  You just have to see it for yourself.

The food was okay.  Superking ordered pancakes with bacon and I had a sausage/egg/cheese sandwich. We ordered our food at the counter where the little Asian lady who barely spoke English scribbled down our order on a large sheet of white parchment paper that became our placemat on our food tray. We sat down at the table and listened to 80's music playing overhead while we waited for our order number to be called.

I'm not sure if they meant "don't ask about using the bathroom" or "don't ask how its strictly enforced"

When our food came, it was served on styrofoam plates, our drinks in styrofoam cups, accompanied by plastic forks.  Nothing fancy, nothing pretentious.  But the food was hot, tasty, and filled our bellies. What more could we ask for?

The restaurant needed a good vacuuming (which is something for me to say because I rarely vacuum my own home often enough) and the bathroom was a little scary (the door didn't lock so you had to be fast).  But the vintage toys and machines were very cool to look at.  And most of them looked to be in very good condition thanks to the "do not touch" signs everywhere.

This food adventure has reminded me that not every dining experience has to be stellar, have amazingly good or crazy foods, or even be clean.  Sometimes its all about the unique atmosphere or trying something new even if its bad.  Sometimes the bad experiences help us be more thankful for the good ones.  And don't get me wrong, Ollie's Trolley wasn't bad, but I don't think it will be making my top ten list of restaurants any time soon. 

The only thing that may take me back there is to try one of their famous burgers.  Supposedly, in 2011, with 40,000 voters and 23 restaurants to choose from, Ollie's was voted the best burger in the DC/VA/MD area!!  That's quite an accomplishment seeing that it beat out all the other great burger places, like Five Guys, Elevation Burger, BGR Joint, and Sweetwater, just to name a few. So for now I'll put it on my "maybe give it one more try" list.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Feastly Irish Dinner

Superking and I had one of the coolest dining experiences last weekend.  Imagine being invited to a strangers house for dinner along with 6 or 7 other strangers, not knowing who anybody is, where the house is, or what the food is going to be like.  That's what we did.  It was a little weird at first but it ended up being awesome.

There's a guy named Danny Harris who came up with this new concept of dining called Feastly...wait...

Before I go any further, there is one rule you MUST follow.  Number one rule about Feastly is that we don't talk about Feastly.  The idea is to keep it small, local, intimate, underground.  If you go running your mouth about to everyone it will no longer be cool and there could be dire consequences for you.  So if you can't follow this one simple rule, read no further.  Otherwise, please continue...

So Feastly is this organization that local chefs can hook into, create a menu, and invite people over to his house to try his food.  Only those who have signed up to be a part of Feastly will receive an email notifying them of an upcoming dinner to which they must RSVP to very quickly.  You show up to the chef's house with a group of other strangers and you all get to eat his food and hang out, get to know some new people, maybe try some new food.

The one we attended was an Irish feast created by Chef Fergus, a genuine Irish gentleman.  First of all his house was beautiful, nothing super fancy, but I loved its retro modern flair both inside and out.  Chef Fergus and his wife were wonderful hosts too.  We were also joined by another couple (who happened to be friends of the chef), two young girls who were friends, and another lady who came by herself.  A wide mix of ages from barely 30 to over 60 as well as a wide range of backgrounds and environments.  One lady was from Austria and was a professor at a nearby university.  Another person was a manager at Starbucks. And all the company was a delight to talk to and get to know. 

It was so much fun and the food was delicious!! It was a modern take on traditional Irish fare.  Our first course was smoked salmon on top of a potato pancake topped with sour cream and chives. It was served alongside a fresh green salad that was lightly dressed with a vinaigrette.  The salmon was wonderfully salty on top of the crispy pancake. The greens for the salad were freshly picked from their own garden that day and were the perfect compliment to the rest of the dish.

Our second course was beef tenderloin served with a mustard white wine sauce which was divine! I think just about everyone of us at the table were trying to lick the sauce of our plates!  Next to the tenderloin was garlic mashed potatoes, snap peas, and an array of sauteed peppers.  Such beautiful colors and textures! And it all tasted so lovely (even the peas which I normally don't like).

Our next course was favorite course.  A chocolate cake which I believe is called a genoise served with fresh strawberries which were marinated in some type of liqueur and were absolutely amazing! On top of all that was fresh and fluffy whipped cream which we all watched Chef Fergus whip BY HAND!  Not a mixer, by hand, folks! Now that's a pro!! And there was a fresh mint leaf on top, also picked by hand from their own garden! Lovely!

Our final course was an after-dinner coffee with some chocolate walnut petit fours and meringues.  I'm not really a fan of candy, as dessert, on pies...just not a fan.  But those meringues were like eating marshmallows! So yummy! And because they were so light, I felt like I could eat ten of them! And I probably would've had I not already been so full.

Great meal, great company, and great host/hostess! Thanks Chef Fergus! Can't wait to come back and visit!! We'll be hungry when we come!