Monday, July 30, 2012

DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour - Taberna Del Alabardero

In spring of 2005, while living in southern California, I was sent to my company's Washington, DC office to work on a project for a week.  The office was located on 18th and I street NW. It was the furthest I had ever travelled for work and the first time I had an expense account.  It made me feel important.

I didn't want to waste an opportunity to try a high-end restaurant but wasn't brave enough to venture far from the office or my hotel.  Luckily for me, Taberna Del Alabardero was located on the first floor of my office building.  I remember loving the charming restaurant.  Dining all by myself, I was entertained by all the details of the elaborate decor.  I had fish and loved every last bite.  It was during this trip that I was offerred a job in DC and made the decision to move here.  Four months later, I moved into an apartment on 16th and T Street NW and started a new life on the east coast.

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, this charming restuarant will be hosting the DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour from 6pm to 8pm.  I will be co-hosting with the wonderful Jessica Milby of One Classic Wino.  Some specials that will be available during the happy hour include $5 glasses of wine, $4.75 for a glass of sangria, and numerous food specials. The restaurant will also be sending some bites from the kitchen: Pan Tumaka a mi Manera, Brocheta de Pollo Moruno y Patatas al Mojo rojo, Rabo de Toro estofado con Queso Manchego, Bocaditos de Salmon con Tartara, and much more.

Please join us. RSVP here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grilled Lamb Vietnamese-Style Sandwich (Not Banh-Mi)

I refuse to call this Banh-Mi. The term has been used by too many restaurants and most of the sandwiches they serve barely resemble the beloved Banh-Mi I grew up with. This sandwich is inspired by Banh-Mi and I will consider it a Vietnamese-Style sandwich.

The lamb is great in this marinade. But everything is great with fish sauce, isn't it?


1 pound of a leg of lamb sliced thin
2 tablespoons of Maggi
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
4 tablespoons of canola oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
French baguette
Carrots, shredded
Cucumber, sliced thin

Soak skewers in water for 4 hours so they won't burn on the grill.

Marinate the lamb in a mixture of fish sauce, oil, Maggi, crushed red peppers, brown sugar, and minced garlic for two hours.

Place lamb on skewers, grill in medium heat for 5 minutes in each side, and allow to cool.

Cut baguette in half & fill with mayo, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, grilled lamb or whatever else your heart desires. Eat with pleasure.

Happy Eating.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grilled Lamb Gyros

I feel like I hit this one out of the ballpark.  The lamb I grilled up for dinner last night was probably the best lamb I have ever tasted.  At least on par with some of the dishes I tasted at the Lamb Jam last month.  (This may sound arrogant but I am dead serious.)
This recipe is from Epicurious and was perfect for this heatwave we are experiencing in DC.  Even though I have the luxury of sitting in air-conditioning all day, this heat makes me want to do nothing.  I don't want to walk anywhere, I don't want to clean dishes, and I really did not want to fiddle with a labor-intensive recipe.  The American Lamb Board sent me a leg of lamb from Superior Farms and I had all these intentions to make some crazy recipes with it. In the end, I chose a simple recipe and it turned out to be extraordinary.

Here is how I would describe this recipe to my friends. "Throw mint, basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Throw mixture into a gallon-size Ziploc bag with lamb. Marinate for 24-48 hours in fridge. Take out and leave at room temperature for 1 hour. Place lamb on a hot grill and close lid of grill. Allow to cook for 15 minutes. Flip the lamb, brush on some of the marinade, and grill on medium heat for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150F."  (I love my meat thermometer.)
Because it was so hot outside, I actually left the grill and stood inside my apartment building while the meat cooked.  I monitored it through the window and could see my apartment neighbors pausing as they walked by the grill.  The lamb smelled that good.  They looked around and saw me standing by the window giving them the stink-eye that said "get away from my lamb." They backed off.

Here is the recipe from for those who want more thorough directions. Please note that I only used a one-pound slab of meat because I didn't want to waste the lamb in case the recipe wasn't good. That was a mistake. I should have cooked the entire leg.

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary leaves. (rub down the length of the stem to remove leaves. Discard stem)
2 Tbs dried oregano (fresh is not better in this case!)
8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
the zest of 1/2 lemon
the juice of 2 lemons, or 1 cup of fresh lemon juice sold in the plastic lemon in supermarkets.
1 Tbs course salt
1 Tbs freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One butterflied leg of lamb (ask your butcher to do this for you and have them remove tough membranes and fat).

Combine first 11 ingredients. Rub well into both sides of lamb. Place lamb in large zip-type storage bag or leave in bowl covered. Place into refrigerator for at least 2 days and up to 3.
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to allow lamb to come to room temperature. Wipe off most herb mixture, reserving marinade for basting.
Roast lamb over coals or low gas grill heat covered for 20 minutes, basting and turning after 10 minutes. Remove cover and baste and grill another 10 minutes (5 minutes each side) or until lamb is cooked medium - medium rare. Remove to platter, tent with foil and let lamb rest for at least 15 minutes.

This lamb recipe is really amazing. The herb mixture leaves this tasty crust and the lamb is juicy and flavorful. I did cook the first side on high heat just to make sure it got a good crust on it. It was so great being able to use the herbs from our balcony garden. We sliced it up and made lamb gyros with pita bread, hummus, lettuce, red peppers, onions, a yogurt sauce and feta cheese. Even Marshall ate it up and he is not the biggest fan of lamb. Look at this picture below. Isn't it gorgeous? The best part was I barely had any clean up other than to scrape down the grill.

Happy Grilling!