Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Ok, I know, I know–why is a twenty-five-year-old man so concerned with College Park?

No, it’s not to scope out under-21’s and talk to them. I have OKCupid for that. Nor is it to speak on social media and, in turn, create memes out of my fellow Terps. They do that on their own. Since I live a literal hop, skip, and a jump away from UMD, I find myself in the area more often than I like to admit than not. I also still conduct a teeny bit of business in the area, therefore I’m invested in places where I can (cheaply) talk turkey. So, when I heard that a Denny’s was opening in the area, I was both cautious and enthusiastic. Growing up in Baltimore, the only Denny’s within a twelve-mile radius was this run-down spot near North Point Road that’s now a Sudsville laundromat near an almost deserted K-Mart.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger...but almost exactly the same. Think about it.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger…but almost exactly the same. Think about it. About five minutes from here resides the Gentleman’s Gold Club. It’s exactly what you think it is.

Suffice to say, I’d heard of it, knew what it was, but I’d never had it. But, I always wanted it. Like some slightly below average Holy Grail, I searched high and low for a Denny’s. Whenever I found one, there was always something a bit…better to do/eat. But, recently, I couldn’t avoid my cautious enthusiasm about the place any longer. So, after a long day at work, the family and I drove down Route One, past the Enclave, past the Taco Bell, to a little slice of Americana: the Denny’s of Greater College Park. While I didn’t expect five-star dining, what I got exceeded my lowest expectations in terms of “SMH.”

When we walked in, we were three of (including the staff) maybe twenty people in the restaurant. I chalked it up to finals, but it stuck out in my mind; the place just opened not too long ago. Ke$ha and Bruno Mars played from the sound system, so the idea of this being a slice of modern Americana was kept intact, albeit a bit glittered and puffed up. Our waiter, a young woman in her twenties, was pleasant but forgot the bare necessities (making sure your tables are properly equipped with silverware, keeping your menus accessible, keeping your order pad on your person, checking back on your customers, making sure your customers aren’t ready to torch the place because the service they’ve gotten has been below sub-par, etc). When we finally did get her to stop and get everything in order, she was quite apologetic for everything (that’s a plus to alleviate my negativity) and took our orders. I had the “Red White and Blue” French Toast. The family had kid-sized spaghetti and the Cheesesteak Omelet, respectively.

About forty minutes later (after a slew of “mishaps”), our food arrived. My “red white and blue” was replaced by butter pecan and cinnamon. My eggs were cold and my sausages were more mushy than my cats food. The omelet lacked, well, most of what it was supposed to have (you know, peppers, onions, taste–that sort of thing). And our beverages were…unique. We got flavored lemonades. The “mango lemonade” was some Minute Made that was (supposedly) squeezed fresh with a giant glob of mango syrup at the bottom. I stirred and I stirred, but they just don’t make water wet enough to dissolve the “mango” into the drink in any way. I’d understand if it’s puree; puree isn’t supposed to flat-out dissolve into things. But, it was literally half-a-cup full of syrup.

The only thing that came out remotely like expected was my kid’s spaghetti.

Upon paying my check, the cashier asked me how everything was.

“Uh, it was…cool…kind of different,” I hesitantly said, biting my tongue.

“Well, it wasn’t no Ruth’s Chris, was it,” the cashier cheekily asked me, sensing my disdain.

And in the back of my mind (and the front of it), I answered honestly.

“No. No, it wasn’t,” I retorted as I walked out, head-shaking family in tow.

Did I expect Ruth’s Chris? Heck no. But, I at least expected something better than what I got. Maybe it’s some post-open jitters that they’re still trying to work out. That’s entirely possible, just like Terrapin Turf before it (expect a part three of that series at some point, probably in the fall of ’14 with my old a**). Personally, I probably wouldn’t go back for a while, but if you’re in the mood to wait around and possibly get the wrong food, check it out.

At least the pancake puppies were divine. Even though by the time they brought us syrup, the puppies had gotten a bit cold.

Until next time, this is your (admittedly cynical) critic Speed on the Beat, the one who endures awkwardness and clusters so you don’t have to, signing off.

I have recently been receiving comments on my Bolthouse Farms post about the validity of Bolthouse Farms’ health factor in relation to its “Natural Ingredients” label and the lack of transparency from its manufacturer’s when said ingredients are inquired upon. So I thought it would be good to inform everyone on my current position on Bolthouse Farms’ products and the current state of the U.S. food industry as a whole.

As stated to a previous commenter, my Bolthouse Farms post was originally published on April 26 of 2011. Since then, Campbell Soup Company has purchased Bolthouse Farms and I have severely limited my drinking of their beverages. This is partly due to the fact that Campbell Soup Company has been rumored to be using Genetically Modified Organisms (also known as GMO’s) in their food and carrying the listing of “Natural Flavors” which they reportedly won’t divulge upon request. With that said I think we must not simply single out Bolthouse Farms. We must have the broader conversation and discuss the state of the U.S. food industry as a whole. I’m willing to bet that about 95% of products distributed by major food corporations in America have “Natural Flavors” listed in their ingredients and I guarantee just about all of those manufacturers will not specify what those ingredients are if you were to call and ask.krogerkrazy.com

So, the only surefire ways to know that what you are ingesting is healthy and safe from GMO’s, pesticides or other toxic chemicals is to either grow and cook your own vegetables, meats, et cetera (extreme) or the less time-consuming and expensive option of researching ingredients and only purchasing organic, Non-GMO labeled foods that keep their ingredients transparent for their consumers (practical). This is why I like to shop at Whole Foods Market or the green/organic section of my local grocery store. They carry an extended variety of healthy, properly labeled foods like the aforementioned.

But, just to be clear, while knowing exactly what is in my food is important to me, I do indulge in the culinary pleasures  of a honey bun or fast food from time-to-time. I’m not totally anal about every single thing I eat or drink. The point is to educate ourselves and find a balance that works for us individually. So, I definitely believe we should educate ourselves on the pro’s and con’s of what is in our food so that at the bare minimum we at least know what we are eating. However, whether we decide to continue eating the bad stuff even after knowing it is bad for us is really up to the individual.

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The sad aspect of technology is that large corporations now have the means to manipulate products and term it food or throw around health jargon to trick us into thinking that what we are buying is actually good for us. So, just to reiterate, I think the most we can do next to growing our own food is just being smart consumers willing to invest time into researching what we eat and knowing what is good food versus bad food. I have been trying to eat healthier and be more conscious of what I put in my body. But, I must admit, it is a challenge with how the food industry is set up today. Like many consumers, I too feel that the governments lack of transparency when it comes to ingredients in our food is where the biggest of health problems stem from. If the USDA and the FDA weren’t so relaxed on these issues and controlled by the monetary influences of large corporations, the U.S. food industry would be held accountable for their unhealthy and dangerous practices. But, as long as we have concerned citizens willing to educate and spread the word about GMO’s and detrimental chemicals in the food we can teach those who are ignorant of what they put into their body just what is in their Cola or their McDonald’s chicken McNuggets.

With all of that said, true change begins with a conversation and education and is followed by an action. So, to those who feel passionate enough to leave lengthy comments on posts and attempt to educate readers and writers alike, take action! Do more than just talk about it. Find a way to create real change in the world. Having the conversation is great. But, without action the impact isn’t nearly as large. Just a thought! And thank you to everyone who read and commented on the original Bolthouse Farms post. I highly appreciate it.

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For those who missed one of the most eclectic concerts of the year, here’s a quick rundown of my top nine most memorable experiences of this year’s Trillectro Music Festival:

1. Herbal Essences – No. I am not referencing that shampoo that had the risqué commercials back in the 90’s. While in the crowd observing performances  throughout the day I was hit with numerous waves of what Snoop Dogg terms the “sticky icky icky“. Oh don’t worry, I didn’t catch any contact. One thing I will say is that I definitely think that green magical plant is what helped keep people in positive moods for the duration of the festival.

2. Food Trucks – The food at the fairgrounds was provided by a multitude of food trucks. The most noticeable trucks were the grilled cheese truck, the cookie truck and the cheese steak truck. I ate my first cheese steak filled with cheese whiz at Trillectro and I must say the whiz makes all the difference. They filled that bread with savory steak, cheese whiz, chopped onions and topped it with ketchup and I was feeling like I was in sandwich heaven. Downside: The nine dollar price tag, the fact it didn’t come with fries or chips, and the fact they only accepted cash. But hey, when you’re hungry and at a festival you expect things to cost more and you should know to always bring cash.

3. Two Stages – Stage One: The Karmaloop stage sporting the Karmaloop logo was where most, if not all, of the EDM Dj’s ran their sets. Jumping  from those speakers were straight “wub wub!”, “boom! boom! boom!”, and a multitude of crowd snatching, endorphin surging tunes that kept the festival dwellers moving for hours. The second stage was the main stage. It was set up for the music performers. I arrived at the festival just in time to catch the last thirty or so minutes of EDM sets and then I stood in the crowd to watch Casey Veggies, Travis Scott, King Chip, Asap Ferg and Asap Rocky tear down DC like no other. Sidenote: Travis Scott is the most hype performer I have ever seen. His stage presence is not just strangely captivating, but even a little ominous. That could possibly be attributed to his hype and yet sometimes grim beats. But, there was no doubt about it. In the conversation of who reigned supreme at Trillectro, hands down it was Asap Ferg with the rest of the Asap mob. Those guys took over the stage and had the entire Trillectro festival jumping.

4. Drinks – Those who know me know that I love beer. So I was more than happy when I discovered tall boy (16 ounces) Redd’s Apple Ale was available at the festival. I think I drank three or four of them. They also had tall boy’s of Sam Adams Summer Shandy, Bud Light and a few other beers that I seldom drink. Margaritas and strawberry lemonade were also in their non-beer drink selection and when I tell you those margaritas were good too, I mean it. They were delicious! Downside: Sixteen ounce beers were priced as high as seven dollars. So make sure that if you go to the festival next year you have plenty of money on you.

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5. DMV Music Artists – As a frequent planner of hiphop showcases in the DC metro area, a radio show host and executive producer I have developed a relationship with many local music artists. Trillectro was definitely not low on local talent on and off the stage. While walking around the fairgrounds I bumped into local artists Lyriciss, ill Stafa, Seph Ade, Nike Nando, Paperboy Prince of the Suburbs, Brain Rapp, Ike Da Kid, Kaye Trill, Stef, and many more. With all of the local artists so easily accessible, Trillectro almost felt more like the DMV’s (DC, MD, and VA) own smaller version of SXSW (South by Southwest). And let’s not forget those DMV artists who actually performed like New Retro, Phil Ade, Fat Trel, Shy Glizzy, RDGLDGRN and Wale!

6. Beautiful Women – Although there were many women who looked like they’d attended one too many ragers or just didn’t know what was appropriate for their body size. There were enough beautiful women to balance out the overall aesthetic of the festival. Needless to say, I definitely saw some head turners. But, it wasn’t just their faces that made them beautiful. So many women were dressed down and just ready to have a good time. It was moreso their pure style and what some may refer to as “swag” that drew me and many other guys eyes into their directions. It was not unusual to see natural hair, locs, tattoos, headbands, hand-made bracelets and chains, and completely couture outfits. Many women were on their hippy status and that made the vibe so much more enjoyable.

7. Eccentric People – The eccentricity didn’t end with the female festival attendees. Many of their male counterparts were adorned in hand-crafted wooden necklaces, tie dye shirts, and other throwback and vintage style getups. It was quite common to see a guy sporting camo shorts, a tye die tee, a bucket hat with marijuana leaves imprinted on it, slip-on flops, a drink in one hand and a doobie in the other. There were women wearing bra’s like they were bikini tops, kids sporting blonde locs, and black and white peace socks that revealed the plant just above their Jordans.  I revelled in the environment. I loved the fact that no two people looked alike. Everyone had their own style. The festival of individualism was a great escape from the Monday to Friday, nine-to-five khaki pants and blue shirt wearing clone doldrums that many DC dwellers undergo.

8. “Turn Up!” – The phrase of the day was definitely “Turn Up!” (to become energetic, highly enthused or overly excited) And man did we turn up once the ASAP Mob hit the stage. ASAP Ferg’s “Work” and “Shabba” got the entire crowd off their feet. At that point anyone at the festival who hadn’t relaxed and let loose, did. For ASAP Ferg’s entire set everyone in the festival turned up and went wild for the night. Of course ASAP Rocky’s surprise guest appearance during Ferg’s set was definitely a bonus that took the level of excitement to higher heights. With the alcohol flowing, the green leaves lit, and the music pumping everyone was forced to Turn Up!

9. Comradery – Myth: When large crowds of black people develop, a fight generally ensues. Fact: During the four and a half hours I attended the Trillectro festival I did not experience one fight. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there weren’t any. I am simply saying that I didn’t hear of any or see any while I was there. I feel like the type of people who attend an event like Trillectro aren’t there to cause problems. It felt like we were all there to have fun and relax from the everyday stresses of life. Within those fairground walls, the outside world no longer existed. We became immersed in the moments. Of course within the crowd shoes were stepped on, people regularly brushed against you or shoved a little to dash for a closer view of the performances. But, it was as if there was an unspoken agreement between all the attendees there that these actions were not out of disrespect. They were simply a result of heightened energy within the fairground walls and spatial laws that meant there was no way to avoid it. But, most people were smart to avoid wearing really nice shoes. And those who weren’t, either stayed out of the large crowd or were so turned up they didn’t care.

Overall, I had a great Trillectro experience. Although the four hours I spent there seemed to fly by and I spent more money than I may have planned, my greatest memories are the expressions on everyone’s faces, the people I encountered and the overall positive vibe. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. We were all happy. And that’s what festivals are all about. Right?

A couple of months ago I visited a restaurant my manager suggested called Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe. Although it is located in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Adega is one of those off the beaten path spots that could easily be overlooked at first glance. And I must say I honestly prejudged it the first time I randomly walked by it a year or so ago. From the menu and the clientele it seemed like it would be “uppity” or bourgeois and not very casual attire friendly. But, after receiving a recent recommendation from my boss, I decided to stop by and try it out one evening after work. I ordered The Jerk Wrap which consisted of “grilled jerk chicken breast meat, romaine hearts, avocados, mangoes, roasted red peppers and mango vinaigrette wrapped in a chipotle tortilla.” [Source] When I say the wrap accompanied by potato chips, a dill pickle and a beer was one of the best eats I’ve had on a hot summer day, I am not embellishing. That was one of the best wraps I have ever eaten. And trust me – as a college student who frequented the campus diner quite often – I have had a lot of wraps. So on Father’s Day, after we left the movie theater, I decided to take my dad and sister to eat and have a few drinks at Adega.

Adega2Initially they were a bit apprehensive. It was a restaurant they never heard of, let alone visited before. So I totally understood. But, I told them to trust me and take a chance and they ended the evening pleasantly surprised. One of the beauties of Adega is that it is half beer and wine store and half restaurant. What this means is that if you want to pick up a cold “sixer” of Corona or another preferred brew of your choice after work and take it home, you can. Or, if you spend $10 or more on food there you can actually purchase that same six pack of beer and drink it in the restaurant with your meal. Obviously the cost benefit of the latter is significant when we’re talking about prices of single pints ranging anywhere from $3.50 to $8.00 at a given restaurant.

Needless to say, we purchased a variety six pack of Saranac’s Adirondack Trail Mix and a pint of Fox Barrel Orange Unfiltered Pear Cider to drink. My dad ordered the Calamari (“Fried calamari, breaded and seasoned with Adega’s own recipe. Served with chipotle mustard mayo.”) as a shareable appetizer and for our entrees my dad and I ordered the Smokin’ Turkey Reuben (Grilled Panini-style sandwich with oven-roasted turkey, havarti cheese, white wine-reduced sauerkraut, and Asian pear cranberry chutney on rustic bread) while my sister ordered The Big Jerk (Grilled Jerk chicken breast, fresh mango slices, caramelized red onions, green leaf lettuce, roasted bell peppers, and cumin pepper-mayo spread served on a French baguette).

Adega1All of the food turned out amazing. My turkey Reuben was like no other Reuben I had ever tasted before. The cheese, turkey, and saurkraut helped bring out the savory profile while the Asian pear cranberry chutney brought out the sweetness of the sandwich. All of that combined with the crunchy toasted bread and the pear cider to wash it all down created a great juxtaposition of flavors and textures. I would highly recommend Adega to anyone. Not simply for the delectable cuisine and the affordable drinks, but the service there is up to par and the servers seem very knowledgeable of the food and beverages they are serving. Adega does good food at an affordable price with an atmosphere that isn’t too stuffy or too open and I highly appreciate that experience. Check out their menu and I’m sure you’ll find something you’d like.

Beer Flight

Four 4 oz. beer sampler at Pizzeria Paradiso

First off let me say that there are a lot of great pizza places in the DC Metropolitan area. You’ve got The Original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, Maryland serving up great rectangular-shaped cheesy goodness. There’s Ella’s near Chinatown in DC baking up Neapolitan style deliciousness. Even franchise restaurants like Flippin’ Pizza and Vapiano do pizza justice (It’s all in the dough). But, just having great pizza does not equate to a great dining experience. Here’s where Pizzeria Paradiso Birreria has dominated the game. Pizzeria Paradiso has three locations in the DC Metropolitan area. I recently visited their Dupont Circle location at 2003 P Street NW, Washington DC and was pleasantly surprised. Upon arrival my date and I noticed just how busy the restaurant was. One sign that the place has great food is that even on a Monday there was a wait. Once the restaurant pager given to us by the host began to flash we were whisked away to our seats. During the short walk from the front door to our table, I noticed a busy bar to the right of the entrance and something quite rare, a bar without tv’s. This intrigued me because it made me think about all of the bar talk that probably started out of a necessity for engagement. To me this was somewhat refreshing. We were seated by a cordial hostess who brought us to our table and within a couple of minutes were pleasantly greeted by our server. Initially I was going to stay away from beer for the evening, but after viewing their extensive beer menu, I – being the beer connoisseur – had to try their four 4 ounce samplers for $12. I ordered a sampler of Anchor Porter , DC Brau Time & Place, Mikkeller It’s Alive, and De Dochter van de Korenaar L’Enfant Terrible to drink. The variety of brews and olives that were placed on the table upon our arrival pleased my palate and prepped me for the delectable entrée that would ensue.

"Di Mare" Pizza from Pizzeria Paradiso

“Di Mare” Pizza from Pizzeria Paradiso

For my entrée, I ordered an eight inch “Di Mare” pizza which consisted of Paradiso tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese and mussels to top it off. When I say this is one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted, I truly mean that from the bottom of my belly. The crust from the brick, oven-baked dough was so crispy and flavorful and the toppings – ohhh those toppings – just blended so well together. I mean it’s mussels on a pizza. What is not to love about that? The combination of the pizza, the beer sampler and the “Pane” – homemade bread and roasted elephant garlic appetizer – made for a memorable meal. The delicious food coupled with the cozy atmosphere and spectacular hospitality of the wait staff – who seemed to stay on top of things at our table the whole night  – made for a great dining experience and I will definitely be returning for dinner, if not for brunch next time. I highly recommend Pizzeria Paradiso to foodies and non-foodies alike and its Birreria to all of my drinking crowd. With great pizza, vast beer variety, inviting staff, cozy atmosphere and a convenient location, I have definitely found a dining gem in the district. For info on other great pizza places located around the DC Metro area check out About.com and WashingtonPost.com.

To add an extra level of heat to your meal try your meal with this spicy sauce I created.

Ingredients

  1. Ranch Dressing
  2. Cayenne Pepper
  3. Black Pepper
  4. Hot Sauce (Preferably Louisiana Style Crystal Hot Sauce)
  5. Garlic Powder
  6. Onion Powder
  7. Salsa (Diced Green Peppers, Diced White onions, tomato sauce or paste)

To increase or decrease the heat in this sauce, simply increase or decrease amounts of each ingredient at your leisure. You can also add hotter peppers to intensify the level of heat in this sauce.

So I know I may be chiming in on this conversation a little late. But hey, as they always say, “better late than never,” right? Many of you may or may not know that Subway the food franchise had a limited time special raspberry cheesecake promotional cookie for Valentine’s Day. I was fortunate enough to make it into a local Subway restaurant during the promotional period and pick up one of those exotic cookies. Now I know you might be thinking, “Wait a minute Arteest, Raspberry Cheesecake Cookie?” At first I thought the same exact thing. I couldn’t believe my eyes at what they were seeing, but right there in front of me sat a beautifully tanned cookie with white chocolaty morsels and little bright red pieces of raspberry beckoning me to take it home. So of course, me being the caring person that I am, I wasn’t going to refuse the cookie. Lol

Anyways, there I was with this amazing creation in my bag walking out of the store. I tried to wait until I got home to eat it, but it was as if my hands and the cookie became magnetized and all I could do was devour it right there. So I took it out of the bag and began snacking and the next thing that happened can only be described as an oralgasm. Instant raspberry and white chocolate sensations of semi-sour, semi-sweet morsels excited my palate; an almost indescribable fusion of chewy, crunchy, tangy, chocolaty amazingness left me stunned and most pleasantly surprised.  If this is what the cookie tastes like after sitting in a plastic container in a store for who knows how long, it must be pure “cookie crack” when it comes straight out of the oven. As I attempted to continue my walk home all I could think about was this cookie I’d just experienced. It left a big grin on my face, a little pep in my step, and a more than memorable moment. So memorable, I tried to go back to that same Subway and get another one a few days later. But I was slightly saddened when the cashier told me they were no longer selling them. Apparently, the promotional period had ended. But hey, on the bright side, at least I got to try it once. I think I’ll go Google the raspberry cheesecake cookie recipe now. ; )

"Cookie Crack!"

The New Beginning!

Posted: March 6, 2011 by Arteest in Foody Review
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Hello there! How are you? Good I hope. Pardon my interruption, but allow the foody in me to veer off the pre-paved path of this blog for a bit and discuss something we are all so in love with, good food! But not just good food, exotic, weird, fancy, tongue tingling, mouth-watering, brow raising food. I’m talking about stuff that we usually only see on t.v. or magazines. After recently experiencing a few new and exciting culinary creations I decided I had to tell the world about more than just my DMV music experiences. And I now know I have to share all aspects of myself with you. I mean after all, we are on this journey together, right? So from this point on I will continue to write about those DMV music experiences and tell you about that perspective of my life, but you are also going to experience my taste in food, alcohol, music, movies, poetry, and anything else under the sun that I find interesting enough to share with you. I hope you’re as excited as I am about this. Consider this my re-introduction or you could just call it my new beginning. ; )