Feel, sniff, bite

Having traipsed through the tome The True History of Chocolate (Thames & Hudson), you’d think I would understand that chocolate is a complex subject. But all I smelled when I read the book was its plastic-coated cover, and all I heard was turning pages. It took a chocolate tasting class at ACKC to fill in the aromas, textures, sounds, sites, and of course tastes that really bring home the story.

ACKC stands for Artfully Chocolate|Kingsbury Confections, and the establishment has homes at 1529C 14th Street NW, AKA 14th and Q-ish, and on Mt. Vernon Ave. in Alexandria. Their main gig is not to let me taste their chocolates, but to serve as a coffee shop/art gallery/edible gift shop that sells a variety of confections, hot drinks (specializing in hot chocolates named after Hollywood divas), and some baked goods. They also give chocolate-making classes.

Here’s a quick pictorial overview of my adventures in a chocolate tasting at the D.C. location (courtesy of my BlackBerry, so not the best quality… sorry):


Our guiding chocolatier, historian, and scholar was Rob Kingsbury. He’s the KC to artist Eric Nelson’s AC. You’ll see a glimpse of one of Nelson’s handmade tables a few photos from now. Continue reading


Pork, the other deadly meat


Don’t you love provocative titles? Words like “pork” from a Jewish vegetarian and “deadly” from just about anyone tend to get attention. So this is the title I chose for my recent post on The Jew and the Carrot. The entry is ostensibly about the story in today’s Post on a study linking meat consumption to an early and agonizing death. (Okay, maybe the later adjective is my embellishment. More fun with words!)  At any rate, you should check it out!

Photo from the U.S. government via Wikipedia.

Michelle Obama’s right-on message

Guantanamo is out, stem cells are in. Could the administration get any more progressive? Oh yes. This week, everyone was buzzing about the appearance by Michelle Obama (ok, not a sworn-in administration member, but still a crucial part of it) at Miriam’s Kitchen in D.C.

The New York Times did a story on Mrs. Obama’s healthy eating message, and the whole thing is like a dream come true. When she says something like “When you grow something yourself and it’s close and it’s local, oftentimes it tastes really good,”  how can a farm on the White House lawn be far behind? And when the First Family is ditching juice boxes and processed foods, American families have just one more reason to go whole.

Also: At Five Guys, Michelle had a regular Coke. Thank you, Miss Biceps!!! The more people you can strong arm to forgo those nasty fake sweeteners the better.

Chili on a boat

Boat stove and skillet

This is where it started. Somewhere among the small table flanked by two short benches, V-berth bed that could sleep about 1.5, and the tiny restroom sat this marvelous cabin kitchen.

On my recent sailing adventure, that’s the spot on the 25-foot Catalina where Cap’n Chris cooked up some veggie chili. It was a nice complement to the spring-like air and the shimmering water of the Potomac River as well as our chips and salsa and multigrain bread with persimmon jam. Plus the brewskies and fresh apple cider.

There’s nothing better than being on a boat–except being on a boat with snacks and beer and friends! Continue reading

Foodie, heal thyself

Just as we tell sick docs, “physician, heal thyself,” why not admonish foodies to get themselves well by their own hand?

I tried that this week, after getting the sore throat followed by cold symptoms that is so familiar to me. This time around, while I reached for the cold medicine with one hand, I was whipping up food-based home remedies with the other.

Today, like magic, I’m feeling much better! It’s been less than a week, which means I’m healing about a week ahead of time. (Knock on wood–hopefully the fake oak finish on my plastic desk will suffice).

Here’s what I tried:

“Wallop You Well” Tonic
Gay Telese called Frank Sinatra with the sniffles “Picasso without paint, [a] Ferrari without fuel — only worse.” That pretty much described a friend of mine who made a living with her voice. And she swore by this remedy. Below is my take on it. Continue reading

A touché moment

“Here’s a trick you might try at home sometime: pick almost any recipe in the ‘Moosewood.’ Now add bacon. You will find that the addition of this decidedly unwholesome ingredient makes the food taste much better.”

-Ariel Levy, comparing the tone of Our Bodies, Ourselves and The Joy of Sex in “Doing It,” a New Yorker review of the new edition of the later. Unlike the first edition of JoS, food-sex analogies never get old.

Egusi for Ghana


Happy Ghanaian independence day! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the excited declarations of “It’s 6th March!” or the sense of celebration that day during my time in Ghana.

Just in time for the 52nd anniversaryof the country’s independence from Britain and the eighth anniversary of my being there, I discovered Obeng. Yesterday, I was only three cat calls into my travels along Morse Street NE, headed toward the Asian grocery supplier that’s my favorite source of inexpensive coconut milk and dried shiitake mushrooms, when I spotted it. Or rather, I spotted the part of its sign that said “retail.”  (I’d been aware of an African food warehouse there, but always assumed I’d need a wholesaler license to get in). 

(Recipe after the jump) Continue reading

Adventures in garden hardware

In the past week, Operation High Nutrient Density Garden (OHNDG for short, I guess) went into the hardware collection phase.

Last Tuesday, one of my co-gardeners and I headed to an alley in Van Ness to collect about 100 free bricks. This was a Freecycle find, and therefore a you-haul kind of deal. She and I each stacked about half of the bricks in the trunks of our respective cars, which proceeded to lug them across town like babies with loaded diapers scooting along the living room floor. Continue reading

Make your own fall

The kind of cold frame that you can make yourself!
Keep things toasty with a cold frame! (Image from http://the-plant-directory.co.uk)

After the session with Fannie, I headed to “Extending the Growing Season for Increased Harvests” with Vinnie Bevivino of Master Peace Community Garden.

Though the Riverdale, Md. operation is technically in the ‘burbs, Vinnie had brought a very applicable idea to present—creating a cold frame. This is basically a small-scale version of a greenhouse. It can keep conditions nice and comfy for your veggies into the late fall, or let you start your plants earlier in the spring, thus extending a growing season of six months to nine or 10. Continue reading