Deer: it’s what’s for dinner.


When there’s venison on the menu, I order it, wistfully hoping that a tender hunk of reindeer meat shows up instead, reminding me of that Swedish delicacy (usually served with horseradish sauce or berry compote) that nearly brought tears (of joy) to my eyes after my first mouthful. At District Kitchen, the venison medallions with blackberry sauce ended up being more special than Rudolph himself. The venison was served with pureed cauliflower and braised endive, chard, and spinach. I also ordered a side of kale poppy seed slaw . The slaw was addictive, and I ate it faster than I could ask, “what kind of vinegar did you use in this dressing?” to which the slightly uninformed waitress replied “balsamic.” It was the only hiccup, except those brought on by my hard cider, but remedied by her returning promptly with the correct answer (apple cider vinegar) in an otherwise spectacular meal that was tendered quietly, lovingly, and enthusiastically by the soft-spoken and attentive staff. The part-owner/chef, Drew Trautmann, from the west coast, has also seen to it that the décor isn’t impersonal or over-decorated, as are several wonderful (but impersonal and over-decorated) DC restaurants. The brick walls are warmed by mason jar lamps, and the dining room has an industrial rustic charm softened by the flickering candles (NB: Washington, DC – turn down your aircons!), and the hushed voices of the bartenders and servers who gave us plenty of attention without giving us their names. It’s simple but beautiful design reflecting the menus he dreams up. Speaking of mason jars, here you can order a variety of pickled veg all brought to you in individual wee mason jars. I got the asparagus. Delish.

Even as the room frosted with aircon blasts (we ended up eating outside) and the emergency generator at a nearby establishment whirred to life, nothing was stopping me from enjoying the garlicky greens, the perfectly cooked (rare) tenderloin, and my cold crisp hard cider. When finally a party of six (four of them were dogs) sniffed an adjacent table, I merely glanced at the hostess and armed with menus and good sense, she shushed them away.

District Kitchen, Adams Morgan, Washington, DC


Mouth taste and moral taste and other thoughts from Adam Gopnik

Food, Reading and Writing


Charlie the Tuna, France, the film Hugo, and a salad dressing recipe. All that and then some in my essay about Adam Gopnik’s The Table Comes First. 




The Three Cs: Carrots, Cumin, and Coriander


Carrots, lower left.

I started cooking lunch for some ladies (with paying jobs) on Thursdays and I made one of my standbys, having not much in the fridge that day. I always seem to have carrots, so this is what we ate. Anyone who has ever eaten at my house has probably had these. I’m posting the recipe for my hard-working lady friends, who asked for it.

Carrots: the best you can find. They are the star!
Cumin: preferably whole (toasted in pan until fragrant – no oil – then crushed while warm) or ground cumin if you must.
Coriander: FRESH only. Parsley if no coriander is available.
Sweetener: brown rice sugar, agave, sugar, honey, etc.
Lemon: One, freshly squeezed. Don’t use that stuff that comes in a plastic lemon or I will come to your house and hurt you.
Salt: anything but iodized.
Garlic: again, FRESH. Don’t use pre-minced or you will ruin this.
Olive Oil: preferably Spanish, Greek, or Turkish, preferably from a can or glass, not plastic. Nothing else will do. The stronger the better. Make sure it too is FRESH. Old olive oil tastes like plastic flip flops.

• Cook peeled carrots in boiling water. Take them off heat before they become mushy. Strain, spread out on cutting board, and cool.
• Meanwhile, mash up one clove of de-germed garlic with a bit of kosher salt in your mortar & pestle. Don’t have one? Then use your fine cheese shredder and moosh in your salt. Carry on, mixing in lemon, cumin, sweetener, and beat in while pouring, your olive oil, adding enough oil so that the lemon is abated; you don’t want the dressing to be loose, watery, or too lemony. Add pepper or better yet, Turkish pepper flakes. Just a touch of those. Don’t substitute.
• When cool, cut carrots on the bias and in small bite-sized shapes. I don’t like the way these look when they are cut into coins; it reminds me of school lunch and boiled dinners. Blech.
• Chop up the washed coriander, finely, including the stems if they aren’t too tough.
• Throw it all together, adding whatever you need to make it taste good.

This is yum on the 2nd day when all the flavors have absorbed into the carrots. A couple days later spoon then over some fresh spinach, adding walnuts and/or goat cheese.