Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An ode to the Butter.



I'm not talking about The Stick we're all watching on pandacam religiously. Word has it, the Animal Planet site is out of commish...(.$^$#*#%$*@@!!!) So put that tub of butter aside for a minute, and let's talk about the second best kind-- peanut butta.

Tonight marks the very last night of National Peanut Butter Month. Time to celebrate jelly's husband and almond butter's second-removed cousin. I, for one, am eating a couple spoons-ful in my oatmeal with pumpkin butter and sourdough pretzels.

Even if they discovered it was made of pure french fry grease or chicken's liver, but it still tasted like this, I think I'd eat it anyways. Maybe I have an addictive personality, but peanut butter is part of my livelihood. And apparently, it's really not that bad for you. Low in saturated fat, and it has over 80% of the "good" fat inside . "Good" means cholesterol-lowering and unsaturated.

Here's some helpful links for those equally obsessed:
National Peanut Board
Official Peanut Butter Site?
The Peanut Institute
Peanut Butter Lovers


And...

a look back at the nuts in DC who have made peanut butter sandwich-making an art. Colin and Mary of Peanut Envy.

And...

Some Peanuty Facts compliments of food411.com.

**The peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils

**People living on the East Coast prefer creamy peanut butter, while those on the West Coast prefer the crunchy style.

**Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the United States: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.

**Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth

Friday, November 25, 2005

epiphanies are good.

It's funny how after Thanksgiving, feeling "hungry" is synonymous with not being uncomfortably stuffed. Like right now I'm thinking, yeah, I could eat dinner. Really, it's just the first time in 36 hours I haven't been in ruthless pain, on the verge of dying from blissful gluttony.

To put everything into perspective, it's about how I feel after a forty-dollar meal of hummus platters, lettuce wraps and a French Kiss martini at Mie N Yu. I like to call it fake full.

Where Are They Now: Julie Powell

What's Julie doing now that the 365 days of reincarnating 524 Julia Child recipes is no more? Writing an LA Times op-ed piece on Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Post-Thanksgiving Burger Craving


It's a cross between 1950s jukebox-playing burger-and-shake joint and crunchy non-profit group campaigning for animal rights on U Street.

They're not trying to rip you off with their fancy 100% Kobe beef patties or Horizon organic milk in the fridge. They just want to cook you a quality burger and give you colorful options to refine the experience. Options like carmelized onions, non-meat burgers and three ice creams with choice of mix-in flavors like black cherry or orange-mango for the shake.

Owner Hans is willing to splurge to serve the best product. He uses olive oil instead of peanut or flaxseed, unlike most other burger joints who try to penny-pinch and figure customers won'’t notice. In-N-Out promises the best quality--but the retro burger flippers use vegetable oil. (Cough, not the best quality, cough) One point for Elevation.

Buns are an important deciding factor for many (I'm more of a personality kinda girl) but this bread deserves some mentioning. After tasting twelve different buns from various bakeries, Hans kept going back to this one in particular.

It was moist, fresh and something about the way it stuck to the burger just turned me on. (Maybe I'll start noticing the back sides out there a little more.)

Elevation gives you options and each one has flair. You have your traditional hamburger and cheeseburger, but even the vegetarians, often lucky to get noticed, have room to be indecisive. "Tastes like meat" or "Tastes like veggies." Both the Boca and Gardenburgers are represented.

Raw onions or carmelized? The Elevation "special" sauce or Balsamic Mustard? For once, someone finally thought to combine the two superlative condiments! I splatter balsamic on everything from fresh strawberries to scrambled eggs. I'd probably even drink it by the gallon if offered the appropriate dare. Same (for the most part) goes for spicy brown mustard.

The brilliant Hans finally capped this idea, and cites the spices in each as especially complimentary. Another unique yet simple twist is the hand-sliced pickle spears. Finally, no more generic, annoyingly sweet chip-shaped ones! Once again, Han proves it's all about the little things.

Originally from Carmel, California, Hans grew up in the notoriously beautiful "city in a forest," where the mountains meet the sea. Among other things, like U2 songs, the word "elevation" reminds him of the high altitudes of the Santa Lucia Mountains.


Speaking of naming things, his brand-new daughter/son should have been born this week. Talk about a year of creation (from burgers to babies). If it's a girl, Hans and his wife, who also works the register on a regular basis, want to name her Elizabeth.

"Why not call her Ellie?" I thought, "To play off the whole elevation thing." His eyes lit up and although glib and chatty before, he paused momentarily. "Hey, we never even thought of that!"After giving it some more thought, here are some other possibilities in case Elizabeth becomes a boy on us. Elliot, Elijah or Elroy. Perhaps the Kitchenette just named the burger prince or princess?

The Carmel-by-the-sea upbringing is also represented in the silver Iced Tea dispenser near the fountain drinks. A thin, white label says, "Cinnamon Orange Tea." Although subtle and easy to miss, the brew is a famous one from the award-winning Norcal restaurant chain, "Hobees." Hans always loved their spiced blend and thought the naturally sweet part (no Splenda here) would perfectly match his health-conscious theme.

Speaking of tea, this brings me to the Honest Tea in the refrigerated section near the cash register. Inside, four or five rows of the "classic" glass bottles sit next to other wholesome neighbors-- Silk Soy Milk, the Nantucket Nectars organic juice line, our favorite flying cows of Horizon, IBC Root beer and slabs of Kobe steak at the very bottom.

After a short pause, Hans decides Moroccan Mint is his favorite, as do the rest of Americans (it's their best-seller), but the Black Forest Berry is just the right amount of sweet to stop him from grabbing "one of those sugary Stewart's drinks." Or the oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies near the register. Which, by the way, use organic milk and eggs. Check out Tarting It Up's review for a more in-depth cookie analysis.


Back to the Kobe steaks in the fridge-- pretty cheap at eighteen bucks a slab, and Kobe meat has been the sexy topic with Chowhound and Tom Sietsema as of late. To set the record straight, Elevation's beef is 100% organic Kobe, but the cows are from Virgina, like any other Kobe meat you'll find in the states, not Japan.

My only complaint was the size-- too small. But maybe the sopping-with-grease, half pounders at Five Guys or Fudd's don't follow the quality-not-quantity rule. This burger was quality-- so on second thought, maybe I wouldn't compromise the Kobe beef, carmelized onions and tasty buns for my size-matters eating habits.

Another minor grumbling-- unless you've got wheels, the trek can be slightly inconvenient for the city slickers. Hans reminded me of the 2B Metro bus that leaves from the East Falls Church station and passes Elevation every 27-ish minutes. A plus, but still not a lazy man's trip to Chipotle in Dupont or Foggy Bottom.

Some "govtlawyer" on Chowhound expressed his beef on Elevation, lamely asserting he just ate it "because it was there." Whatever.

I'm still waiting to hear on the status of Ellie (that's her mommy in the pink hoodie and hat).


To read the Dcist's thoughts on Elevation, click here. They're right about many things, especially in regards to the shake-- don't you dare forget it on the way out! Some have called it the best they've ever tasted. My recommendation is the Vanilla with Black Cherry.

Elevation Burger is located at 442 S. Washington Street, in Falls Church, Virgin-i-a.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

1789 All-Access Backstage Pass.

1789 found their replacement to fill (or at least attempt to fill) Ris Lacoste's shoes, as reported by metrocurean today.

The last few weeks I've tried to capitalize on the little time 36th street has left with Ris. Every Sunday I walk a few blocks from my apartment to eat family-style dinner with the 1789 chef staff, improve my dessert garnishing skills and burn myself at least four times from the power ovens.

It all started about a month ago when I sat in the empty dining room of '89 after class one afternoon with the Ris herself. We chatted about the expected topics-- her demand for natural sunlight in her new restaurant (she hopes to open about a year from now), last week's cauliflower selection at the outdoor Dupont market, the sixty pounds of stuffing 1789 will valiantly serve on Thanksgiving (and did!)--but then came the unexpected. She offered me a job.

Who could say no to the golden opportunity to shadow one of the most prominent female foodsmiths in Washington? Certainly not someone who calls herself a food writer, and shamefully hasn't actually taken a "real" cooking class. This was about as real as I could get.

In a place where every movement looks effortless and every plate appears hand-crafted by epicurean technicians positioning each rosemary sprig at just-the-right angle, you just assume the whole process is magical. But at other points, you just can't help but ask, "how in the hell did they do that?"

It was time for one of us to find out.

Two Fridays ago, I wandered into the restaurant and in minutes was dressed in a white apron and comissioned to help with dessert garnishes. If the edible glass was a bit off-centered on the Mexican Chocolate Cake or the pomegranate seeds were a tad over-sprinkled on the Tangerine Sorbet Sundae, please excuse the inconsistency.

Hardly anyone noticed my first few steps into the kitchen. Each pocket of the rectangular space was clearly focused on racing the clock. The salad chef was slicing forty red russet potatoes by a ten-minute deadline for Amanda the entree chef and before I knew it, I was slicing crostini bread for the duck curry salad served as tonigh's amuse bouche.

Amuse bouche (uh-MYUZ-boosh). Literally meaning, "mouth amuser," it was my first 1789 vocab word. A tiny tidbit often served as a freebie appetizer, not to be confused with an hors d'oevure (not a freebie), the taste is just enough to keep diners happy while they wait for the first course. The amuse bouche allows the chef a range of flavors and textures with which to experiment-- all in just a gulp, few licks or bite.

But back up a few steps. As soon as I got to the restaurant, Ris paused from her key duty -- the authoritative check on all plates exiting the kitchen -- and offered me a warm bear hug. "Everyone, this is Erin and she's going to help us out tonight."

The chef staff is divided into parts-- hot appetizers, entrees, salads, cold appetizers and desserts. Each cook turned around, stopped flailing their heavy, sizzling pans and said hello. Within seconds, it was back to business.

Ris tossed me that starched white apron still-creased from the iron and introduced me to Sue. For the next six hours I would learn from this five-foot-three L'Academie de Cuisine grad. She immediately handed me a knife and loaf of bread.

"Chop these into crostini." My next vocab word for the night. Crostini are small, thin slices of toasted French or Italian bread.

Patient (thankfully), yet impressively quick-witted and giggly, Sue was a cross between mother hen and cool older aunt-- just what I needed to feel welcome and inspired.

"Easy there on the duck curry, guys," she warned the servers as they scooped the amuse bouche liberally. She would make sure last night's remaining duck, the curry sauce, dried cranbberies and apples would last the evening. And when the servers complained of dryness while scooping, Sue was ready with a dollop of mayonnaise to make everyone's life easier.

While starting to gab about my five month-old food blog and "deal" as an English major, the shape and texture of the crostini began to suffer. For a moment, I forgot that my bread would be crunched by the finest of Washingtonians. Sue gently grabbed the knife and demonstrated a clean, crisp swipe, cautioning me from the "sawing" tactic. She had definitely refined the skill of chatting and slicing-- clearly, I still had a long way to go.

After graduating from crostini cutting to "roughly" chopping the pistachio nuts, a garnish for both the ice cream sundae and duck curry, the knife was temporarily retired. Now almost 6:30pm, dessert orders were being placed and Sue could feel the energy hitting her like clockwork. It was on to the real stuff.

The tangerine sorbet machine needed cleaning, the birthday and anniversary plates needed personalized calligraphy in chocolate frosting, and we already had an order of Mexican Chocolate Cake printing.

Each of the desserts is made earlier that day by a pastry chef and heated each evening in daunting power ovens when ordered. Within seconds they are garnished with rare nuts, edible glasses, and one of the many eccentric flavors of ice cream or sorbet. Tonight was white chocolate, tangerine, an apple-liquor flavored ice cream, "calvados" (the third vocab word of the night), and the traditional vanilla and chocolate for the special requests.

At points I could hear Ris yelling in the background. She was sprinkling dried sweet potatoes and nutmeg over the pumpkin ravioli --the one that wowed Iron Chef America judges early October-- when I stopped to visit her in between Sue tasks.

Ris stood in front of the hot entree chefs, surrounded by an easel of garnishes. Plump raisins, bacon, chopped bell peppers, and sesame seeds. Then she asked something I never anticipated, "Have you decided what you want off the menu for dinner yet?"

Normally indecisive-- especially when Washington's premiere chef hands me the keys to her kitchen-- the decision was surprisingly clear. Considering all the positive press of the seasonal pumpkin ravioli and my far-fetched wish to resurrect Halloween just once more this year, I made my choice.

Peering over at Sue, I noticed her forming a semi-cicle of cinnamon chocolate syrup polka dots as she ripped off a freshly-printed receipt for a dessert order in her other hand.

Apologizing twice, I felt bad for leaving her stranded, but she didn't think much of it. She placed a clean white ceramic plate in front of me, as if I was ready to graduate to the big leagues.

"Five dots on this side like so, then three on the other." The chocolate cinnamon syrup alternated with the caramel syrup to envelop a flourless, warm-centered Mexican chocolate cake. With the help of a toothpick, the dots became layered hearts bleeding into one another. After polka dotting the dessert plates with syrups until the daunting task actually became "easy," Ris brought over the bowl of my pumpkin ravioli.

That's right. My meal was just personally served to me by Ris Lacoste. I nibbled each part of the pasta separately at first, wanting to understand the complexities of each bite -- the pumpkin puree, chanterelle mushrooms and dried sweet potatoes.

Ris, Sue and the entire 1789 gang made this and all the other culinary-gymnastic mysteries that they would reveal throughout the night look like cake.

I'd say the pun was unintended, but there is not one thing that happens behind the swinging 1789 kitchen doors that falls into that category.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Honest Tea on my Mind



The DCFUD story on Sette Bello, sibling of Georgetown's posh Cafe Milano, reminded me of another creative mind plus university professor relationship. The intellectual bosom buddies of Honest Tea-- founder and CEO Seth Goldman and his Yale professor, and co-founder, Barry Nalebuff.

I worked for the company last summer (or should I say, frequently used their bathroom after drinking so much free tea), handing out bottles to Whole Foods baggers at natural food trade shows, I-Love-NY t-shirt-wearing tourists in Times Square, a Food and Wine senior editor at the Fancy Food Show in Manhattan and convenience store owners in Richmond who had no interest in selling "that organic shit."

Taken straight from their website...
Seth found most drinks either too sweet or too tasteless. Barry Nalebuff, one of Seth's business school professors, found that he and Seth shared a passion for the idea of a less sweet, but flavorful beverage during a class discussion that involved a Coke vs. Pepsi case study. Fast forward to '97, Seth goes for a run in New York City with an old classmate who used to concoct juice drinks with him after class. They found themselves doing the same after the run, combining several different beverages to cut the sweet and intensify the flavor. Seth knew then that if he was going to quench his thirst for good, he would have to create the drink himself. He e-mailed Barry to see if he was still as excited about the idea as he had been in class.

Timing was everything. Barry had just returned from India where he had been analyzing the tea industry for a case study. Seth took a deep breath, quit his job at the Calvert Group, and started brewing batches of tea in his kitchen. Five weeks after taking the plunge, he brought thermoses of tea and a bottle with a mock-up label to Fresh Fields (Whole Foods Markets). During that meeting, the order came for 15,000 bottles, and so did the heavy pause as Seth's mind raced, trying to figure out how they would produce that much tea. They were, at
that moment, in the tea business. Honest.


My marketing skills must have done some damage this summer because this weekend, I ate at two places that carried the organic heartthrob:

Elevation Burger :442 S. Washington St., Falls Church VA. Read this by Tarting it Up.

Sticky Fingers Bakery
:1904 18th St., Washington DC. Read this review by the Post from last December.

More to come on both later. Elevation was absolute bliss in a bun. Despite the inconvenient location for an urban student, I might just have to trek to East Falls Church and take the mile-long Metro bus ride from the station on a regular basis. And by regular basis, I mean all the time. That burger hit the spot like no other has in a long time. And incredibly cheap! Less than three bucks.

Sticky was closing at 6pm on Saturday. At about 6:07pm, my friends and I were running across the street, almost getting hit by a car, and at 6:08pm, begging to be let inside. After gaining access, Sticky became my favorite vegan bakery of the moment. The Honest Tea sitting quietly in the fridge was just an added perk.

I invited Seth to speak at Georgetown last week, where he revealed some juicy (or should I say tea-y) gossip.

Honest Tea will release a "Just Green Tea" line which will have little or no sugar, and use the term "just" to play off the "honest" pun.

Despite public chatter surrounding the plastic line released earlier this year, they are not discontinuing the glass, nor have they ever considered the bogus plan. Insert phew here.

Final thought, even Whoopi rocks the Honest Tea.

On Martha Stewart's new morning show, Martha, Whoopi talked about regularly serving it at her poker and board game parties.

Sold? Now drinking Community Green like it's your job? Send Honest Tea a picture of yourself drinking it in a famous, unique, creative, spunky environment. The most compelling submission will be featured in the next Honest News and win an Honest Tea gift basket. Email entries to newsletter@honesttea.com by Dec. 10th.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Whole Foods Giveaway!


If you send Whole Foods a recipe that needs a natural makeover (time to organic it up?) and they use it in their monthly newsletter, they'll mail you a $25 Whole Foods Market gift card. Time to strip the preservatives, dyes and aspartame-- let them render the recipe au natural. Click here to submit your recipe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Murky Gets Refined

Murky Coffee is not afraid of strong words or strong-but-not-too-strong coffee. No surprise their founder and CEO Nicholas Cho was featured in today's NYT. In a nutshell (or maybe.. beanshell?) Michaele Weissman says coffee has become so refined and complex, it might as well be the next wine. These days beans are pricey (sometimes at 40 bucks a pound) and more nuanced than "the finest pinot noirs."

Too bad a mug of ink with supper will never offer the same protection against heart disease as a glass of red.

Only 31, Cho thinks, "Starbucks is beatable." He says, "If you are in the hamburger business and you can't make a better burger than McDonalds, you don't deserve to be in business."

His sales have expanded six-fold (cha-ching!) since he and his wife-meets-business-partner Suzy founded the first location in Georgetown in 2002. Keep ordering those extra shots of soy milk, guys. Six-fold, geez.

You're probably thinking, Georgetown? But but..I thought it was just Eastern Market. Well they're also at 3211 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, VA, but yes, their first shop was in Georgetown.

Taken straight from Murky Coffee's FAQ page..

Our first shop was a little hole-in-the-wall on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. It was a weird little place, and we got quite a few stares, notably from former President Clinton. As weird as it was, the coffee was weirder. We served only espresso, no drip coffee, and the weirdest thing about it was that it kicked ass. People freaked out when we shut down the Georgetown store in early '03. We got a flood of emails that said, "I'll never drink coffee again!!!" What shameless hyperbole. If you look closely at the black awning over what's now a fake-designer-purse store, you'll see the faint remnant of murky georgetown.

Cho organized the first mid-Atlantic barista competition, hitting Washington February 2006. He compares the intense latte-making process to that of "a Japanese tea cermony."

If you're wondering whether Cho is so caffeine-hyped that he can't sleep at night, you're wrong. During the little time he does snooze, Cho dreams of "opening an ultrastylish space where coffees hacked out of the jungle with a machete will be as revered as fine wine" and cost more than just the average (already high-priced) four bucks.

Move over Merlot, Macchiato is the latest BMOC on the beverage scene. Hmm..did someone say boxed coffee?

Murky Coffee is located on The Hill, at 660 Pennsylvania Ave, SE. Go on a weekend and grab a Honeycrisp apple at your friendly Eastern Market just down the block.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Let them eat Cake.

metrocurean picked up on the CakeLove debate! i gave that baby a lot of blog love, i'm glad the word is spreading.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Make Way for the Prince!



THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF THE FIRST LADY
______________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 2, 2005


LUNCHEON IN HONOR OF THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES THE PRINCE OF WALES AND THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL

*
Watercress Soup with Applewood-smoked Bacon
Espelette Cream
Peter Michael 'L'Après Midi' 2004

Lemon Sole with Herb Crust
Chichory, Petite Asparagus and Black Cherry Tomatoes

Composed Salad of Butter Lettuce, White Cucumbers and Golden Pea Tendrils
Champagne Dressing

Lady Apple Sorbet
Brandy Snap Basket Spiced Autumn Fruit Compote

*

Lunch Table Settings - Private Dining Room, The White House Residence

Truman China
Sandersonia in pumpkin containers with assorted ornamental gourds on the table

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Now that's Falafel.


For just over a year, Amsterdam has been serving falafel to belligerent Saturday night clubbers and twenty-something locals who live in what some might call Washington's version of Greenwich Village: Adams Morgan.

In the midst of the wonderful-but-yuppifying area stands a cozy falafel shop with a few patio tables and a short staircase leading up to its front doors. Husband-and-wife owners Scott and Arianne Bennett live upstairs with their big black dog. They left their grassy backyard and spacious two-story Chevy Chase home just a couple years ago for Adams Morgan's wild 18th Street strip.

As vivacious as the strip was before, the nightlife was starving for a hipper fast food alternative. The oversized pizza slices and even good ol' Julia's were both getting ol' fast. Besides, with Tryst, Zucchabar and all the other hot spots in the area, herds of drunkards (with a mad case of the munchies) were guaranteed to roam the streets every weekend. As Scott and Arianne discovered, the falafel shop was a goldmine waiting to happen.

All they had to do was serve mashed chick peas in pita bread (your choice of white or wheat) and people would come running. Now the humble eatery is an institution in the urban sphere sandwiched between Columbia Heights and Rock Creek Park.

Arianne and Scott visited their friends in Amsterdam many times before they decided to bring the city's falafel culture back to Washington. Also in their suitcases were postcards and candid shots of the downtown Amsterdam falafelries, which now sit underneath their restaurant's glass tabletops. Ajax, the bearded mascot from the city's champion football team, also makes a few appearances on the walls to make the spirit of Amsterdam come alive.


If the authentic decor is not enough, Amsterdam's signature charm lies in the free-for-all Israeli-style buffet line. Twenty garnishes sit in a row including the gamut of traditional Middle Eastern sauces and spreads, from crimson-colored beets to pickled cabbage to tzatziki.

The buffet line is so incredible that many customers were left overwhelmed, constantly asking the employees for a rundown. About a month back, Scott and Arianne decided it was time to create a framed guide, including up-close photos and titles of each garnish. Hummus, yeah we get it, but what's the deal with the spicy red pepper sauce or the fried eggplant in the left corner? Time to reference the Amsterdam Garnish Guide for Dummies located on the nearby wall.


The spicy green herb sauce known as “torator” sits modestly amid the tahini and pickled cabbage, but cashier Joel often points to it with caution from behind the counter. A close friend of Scott and Arianne, Joel likens the fiery garnish to a Middle Eastern horseradish. I had a bit and let's just say the sinuses were cleared instantly.

Traditionally, falafel is an Arab food, but the cherished kiosk snack has sparked tensions between Palestinian and Israeli communities for years over who actually "owns" the chick pea fritters. Funny how cuisine can bring two rivaling territories together-- the Turks and Greeks feud over coffee and baklava in between disputes over Cypress.

At Amsterdam the garnish line is Israeli-style, meaning you build your falafel sandwich with your own choice of condiments. For best results, as a sign inside recommends, first remove some of the falafel, layer with toppings, then add the rest of the falafel and apply another round of toppings to finish it off. There's no seconds on garnishes at Amsterdam, so take the buffet line seriously-- though I've been known to sneak a few when nobody was looking.

The topping process is like an art form. Everyone has their own permutation. Arianne likes hers with a bit of hummus, baba ghanouj, garlic cream sauce and the freshly sliced tomato-onion Turkish salad.

Open late and dirt cheap, Amsterdam epitomizes comfortable eating. For $3.75, a small sandwich contains three falafel balls in a half-cut pita and the large, with five falafel, has a bit more pita room and still just $5.25, comparable to a Subway 6-incher.

Dutch style fries are $2.75-3.85 with dipping sauces including Dutch Mayo and a recently added peanut sauce. Mayo is not my thing, but the twice-baked fries are always warm and perfectly crisp. (Words of advice- try throwing them into your sandwich).

The white board includes a last item on the minimalist menu— Virgin Space Cakes. There's an old Amsterdam tradition of serving pot-laced brownies at coffee houses. Sorry guys, no Mary Jane here.

Few rules exist at Amsterdam. Instead, the freedom to create your own pita-enveloped masterpiece lies in your hands, literally. Yet Amsterdam does stand by one statue-- in order to "reduce trash on the planet," they won’t use spoons, forks or plates, but instead serve the falafel wrapped in a wax-paper sleeve. Every once in a while Arianne finds a few plastic sampling spoons from Maggie Moo’s that creep in from across the street…other than that, you’ll often find her on the patio talking with the locals with her black dog, complaint-free.

Check out other Amsterdam reviews by:
the dcist, dcfud, washington post, urban jetset.

........................................................................
::Other bits of amsterdaming buzz::

DC Foodies wife and blogger babe Amalah put Amsterdam at the top of her list when an Irish tourister asked her about "the essential Washington experience." When referring to Amsterdam, Amalah said, "Goddmamn. The falafel is to die for."

During Hurricane Katrina, Arianne's brother drove down to New Orleans to save stranded victims. He advertised his willingness to help on Craig's List. Another reason why Craig is saving the world, one posting at a time.

........................................................................
::Other bites of falafel::

Amsterdam is just one example of the hidden falafel joints buried amid the more mainstream Café Milanos and Chipotles. George’s King of Falafel sits quietly next to Zed’s down M Street. Last Saturday, the King was so packed that the cashier halted orders at 1 AM so the crew could “catch up.” The lack of Israeli-style garnish line-up takes away from the experience a bit, but the food is still richly authentic and the gritty ambiance makes Georgetown feel like a world away.

Mama Ayesha’s, just over the Duke Ellington Bridge near the Adams Morgan Metro station, serves a fancier set of Lebanese cuisine but is still dirt cheap for a charming restaurant. The hospitality is just as warm and inviting—the indoor fountains and overhanging antique silver lanterns add charisma that most latenight greasy falafel joints don’t have. The kitchen doesn’t close until 11PM on weekdays and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and don’t be intimidated by the welcoming host and white tablecloths –the falafel is still just five bucks.

George's King of Falafel is located at 205 28th Street, off the M Street strip. Mama Ayesha's is located at 1967 Calvert Street. Amsterdam (map shown below) is located at 2425 18th Street, in the heart of Adams Morgan.