Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hill Country BBQ

BBQ is one of those down-home comforting kind of meals that just feels like a great big hug when you eat it. And sometimes its hard to find really good BBQ thats not over cooked or over processed or accompanied by sides that taste like it came out of a can or a blue box. Because BBQ is not just about the meat. Ok, its mostly about the meat but its also about the side dishes that come with the meat, things like mashed potatoes, mac n' cheese, corn, cornbread...

My brother-in-law turned us onto a great BBQ joint in DC called Hill Country.  Its a unique dining experience with some great BBQ, great sauces, and great sides! Its not like a regular restaurant where the waitress brings you everything.  She brings your drinks (served in glass mason cute!) and then she gives you a ticket.  You then take your ticket up to the counter to order your meat. You can choose from beef brisket, ribs, pork chops, chicken, game hen, even sausage, among a variety of other items.  You can also order by the slice, by the rib, or by the link, as much or as little as you want.

Its a little chaotic as the meat servers are constantly shouting out meat orders for people and then they mark it on your ticket as you pick it up.  But its also kind of cool because its not like any other place I've been to. And the meat is so juicy and tender and smoky, all wrapped up in brown paper.

aahh, the messier the better! Yumm!

Once you have your meat in hand, you move over to the "sides" counter.  Baked beans with burnt ends (yumm!), mac 'n cheese, collard greens, German potatoes, sweet potato bourbon mash (you know I couldn't pass that one up!), cole slaw, potato salad, cornbread...the list goes on. And again they mark your ticket.

Then you can sit down and enjoy your meal for a while, scarfing down barbecued, saucy meat like a ravenous animal and barely using a spoon to scrape out the sweet potatoes from the bowl, all while downing a mason jar full of ice cold sweet and tart lemonade.  Man it doesn't get much better than this!

sweet potatoes (left) and cornbread (right) with honey butter

Then if you're not too full, you can take your ticket back up for seconds or sidle up to the dessert counter for some rice pudding, a pb&j cupcake, a slice of red velvet cake, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Unfortunately we were too full for any of that but they all looked very yummy! Can't wait to go back next time I get a hankering for some good ol' fashioned BBQ!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Magnolia's At The Mill

Back in June for Father's Day (I know I'm a little behind but I've been a little busy) Superking and I took my parents out to dinner to a place we've been wanting to get to for a while...Magnolia's at the Mill located in Purcellville, VA. A special occasion + nice local restaurant combined for a great evening of yummy food. And the company wasn't too bad either. :)

old train station outside the mill

This restaurant is located in the heart of a quaint little town in the countryside of Loudoun County.  The building is actually an old mill built in 1905. It has served in the production of pasture seed as well as flour. During WWII, even orchard grass produced here was shipped to Europe as packing for artillery shells and armaments. The restaurant itself opened in February 2004 with the goal of resuming the position of the old mill as a vital part of the community. As you dine there, you are surrounded by its history as many parts of the mill still remain intact as part of the decor.

We began with a couple small plates.  First up is the pan seared sea scallops accompanied by bruleed oranges, a fennel salad, and dressed in a miso glaze. Sweet, tangy, and perfectly cooked!

Then came the roasted garlic chicken wings with two really yummy sauces...a smoked tomato aoli and peppercorn parmesan ranch.

My mom also ordered the tomato smoked gouda soup! My parents have graciously learned to let me take pictures of their food whenever we go out. Thanks mom and dad!

Another delight, fried green tomatoes! Nothing like a good fried green tomato especially when its topped with goat cheese! This version also had thin slices of ham on top along with a pistachio relish and the plate was drizzled with a red pepper aoli. Crispy breading on the tomato, the sweet tomato and tangy goat cheese...there are no words.

Both my parents went for a traditional steak and potatoes dinner. The NY Strip steak...a beautiful piece of meat.  It was served with whipped potatoes and tender asparagus, accompanied by a horseradish sauce and a peppercorn sauce.  I didn't get to taste any but every bite was gone from both their plates when the night was done.

Superking went for a delectable special of the evening...soft shell crab! This is something he's been dying to try for quite some time from various places.  Here was his opportunity!!  It arrived with colorful plating, the soft shell crabs with their legs kicking out for all to see.  In the middle of the plate was a pile of vegetable goulash topped with crispy potato wedges and surrounded by dollops of some kind of tartar or remoulade sauce.  I've never had anything like this.  They were quite tasty and crispy. If you like crab, whats not to like? However eating the shell was a little strange and off-putting at times. I guess that comes with the territory of eating soft shell crab. But nevertheless, a great dish!

I stuck to the smaller plates and ordered the house smoked trout.  I've had smoked salmon before and really enjoyed it and this was served pretty much the same way...surrounded by salty capers, spicy diced red onion, chopped hard cooked egg, a dollop of remoulade, and toasted flatbread.  The trout had a lighter flavor than the salmon but it was a lovely mixture with the stronger flavors of capers, onions, and egg.  The crispiness of the flatbread added a nice crunch and helped pull all the flavors together.

We could not leave this place without dessert.  There were two cheesecakes...dulce de leche and some sort of glazed peach, another special of the night. 

I went for the fancy sounding fresh berry zabaglione. Its not only fun to say but fun to eat as well. It was served in its own dish of a light sugary pastry shell which was filled with fresh sweet strawberries and blackberries and a delicious creamy custard, all topped with whipped cream and a mint leaf. To die for!