Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nomination Season

Thank goodness the awkwardness that is the Academy Awards show is over. Three hosts and I still cringed. Next time more Doogie! Anywho, now we can focus on a more fun nomination season: the James Beard Foundation awards.

These are the best of the best chefs, restaurants and restauranteurs in the country and plenty of them are right in our backyard. Let's check out who's got a nod:

Outstanding Restauranteur:
Ashok Bajaj, 701, Ardeo, Bardeo, Bibiana Osteria-Entoteca, The Bombay Club, The Oval Room, and Rasika, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Chef:
José Andrés, Minibar, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Restaurant:
Vidalia, Washington, D.C.

Rising Star Chef of the Year:
Johnny Monis, Komi, Washington, D.C.

Best New Restaurant:
Eventide, Arlington, VA
J & G Steakhouse, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Pastry Chef:
Amanda Cook, CityZen at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional:
Derek Brown, The Passenger, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Service:
Marcel’s, Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic:
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA
Tony Conte, The Oval Room, Washington, D.C.
Peter Pastan, Obelisk, Washington, D.C.
Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.
Bryan Voltaggio, Volt, Frederick, MD

To check out the full list of all the JBF Semi-finalists, click here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Upscale Chinese: Is it worth the money?

When I first looked at the menu for Ping by Charlie Chiang's I could not get over how expensive everything was. I thought it would be P.F. Chang's-ey, pretentious and "safe." Luckily, my family and I were ravenously hungry and Ping was the closest Chinese place we could find.

We walked into the space which was decorated chicly with modern accents and looked more like a lounge than a place that served General Tso's. I was still skeptical. It was cold out so we started with some soups, the hot and sour and the asparagus with crab. Both were good, a little better than delivery - still skeptical.

Unfamiliar with the restaurant and slighty ill at ease with the atmosphere we went with two more favorites for entrees - beef and broccoli and General Tso's chicken. When the dishes arrived, I finally got it. This stuff wasn't the stuff I'm usually pigging out on on my couch out of a carton.

Ping's take on beef and broccoli was made with flat-iron steak and Chinese broccoli with some oyster mushrooms. It was obvious it was cooked quickly with high heat as the steak was perfectly seared and the broccoli fresh and crisp.

Their version of General Tso's was made with chunks of actual chicken breast, very lightly breaded and the sauce was a bit more vinegary and spicy than the usual takeout. The light breading was key and it actually tasted like chicken - a rarity if you ask me.

Is this going to replace my greasy delivery/takeout? Probably not. The prices are still pretty high for Chinese casual dining but I do know where to go when I want to change up my Chinese routine. If I go back, I may try the sushi next time - their sushi chef, Randy Noprapa, was honored at last year's Sushimasters Regional Competition.

Ping by Charlie Chiang's
 4060 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA 22206
(703) 671-4900

Image via

Will the real Diner in Arlington please stand up?

Silver Diner does not count as a diner. And, despite my excitement for it as a Marymount University student, neither is Metro 29. So where, oh where, am I supposed to get a good diner breakfast- or more importantly- a delicious steak and cheese at 3 a.m. that could potentially save me from the worst hangover in history? That's where the glorious Bob and Edith's comes into play.

Sorry MU students, this lovely gem is a bit far to drunkenly stumble to without a designated driver handy. However, if you do have one (PSA: You should always have a DD!), then this is where it's at, people. Formerly one of two locations, this smaller, but with more character, restaurant serves up just what you look for in diner fare 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information and to view a menu, visit Bob & Edith's Diner, 2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204, 703-920-6103.

Check out more Arlington restaurants here.