French Toast with Balsamic Berries and Peach Whipped Cream

Brunch with MamaE, so good!

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Hey-O, Jaleo!!!

June 29th brought the derecho and strong winds, power outages in the suburbs, and downed trees all over. MamaE was without power in Cville, so she decided to stay the weekend in DC. We had an amazing Saturday lunch at the newly renovated Jaleo in Chinatown.

The last time I ate at Jaleo was before the renovations, and the new space seems to have brought a more lively atmosphere to the place. The decoration is playful and very Euro-feeling, textured jute carpets line the walls, patterns zig zagging across every surface, even the bathroom floors have a disorienting image of a crowd of people reaching up towards you (truly bizarre, you gotta check it out). The overall feel was more enthusiastic than the old Jaleo.

Jaleo has interactive drink ordering iPads – you order a drink on the tablet, and then show the tablet to your server. I’m not sure of the benefit over simply having a printed menu and communicating with your server, but I love a good gimmick.

Watermelon gazpacho that was a special for the day and it was divine, smooth, mild and creamy but still full flavored. We agreed that we could drink the stuff all day long.

Watermelon Gazpacho at Jaleo

We also had the ‘famous’ shrimp in garlic sauce, Iberico ham on tomatoey bread, Gin & Tonic oysters (very nice, but I’m not a huge fan of the oyster/liquor combo in general), the unfailing patatas bravas, and finally we each had a dessert. My mother had the flan, which was serviceable, and I had the olive oil ice cream with grapefruit. This was the moment where I really fell in love with Jaleo and fully appreciated Jose Andres’ inventive cooking style. The grapefruit granitas cut through the creamy olive oil ice cream and the bitterness balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the dish. It was an unexpected juxtaposition of textures and tastes.

Helado de aceite de olive con pomelo (Olive oil ice cream with grapefruit)

Mama-E brings the Derecho to town

MamaE came into town for the Derecho on June 29th.

We began the weekend on a sweltering Friday evening, where all great DC outings begin – Barack Obama’s house. No seriously, we met outside the White House. Not only were we not invited in for some lemonade, we were made to grapple outside among the sweaty masses. MamaE hopped on my bike for a quick toodle around, and my hand bore witness with snark.

MamaE on the wheels, my lovely Electra Amsterdam.

On Saturday we rode Capital Bikeshare bikes around the National Mall, hit up the National Gallery, and had some very fancy ice cream straight from a truck parked on the mall. The National Gallery has a great exhibit up called ‘Elegance and Refinement; The Still-Life Paintings of Willem Van Aelst.’ Up through October 14th, 2012.

Doin the Shuffle in front of the National Gallery.

Mmmm…strawberry shortcake ice cream. That electric pink color gives your taste buds fair warning for the awesomeness ahead.

10 Essential Cookbooks

One of my favorite food blogs, Food52, had a post on the 10 Essential Cookbooks. These are the stand-bys that every kitchen needs. No matter how many fad cookbooks come out, these will be the tomes that you refer to again and again.

I may do a quick google search for whatever recipe I’m looking for, but sometimes the best recipe is found by flipping through a book. Cookbooks hold sentimental value too, and serve as physical records of our cooking experiences. My grandmother’s 1960s-era ‘Joy of Cooking’ still has her notes in the margins, and I can quickly flip to that amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe with the encrusted butter and flour on the page.

How many of these books do you have? Which ones are you going to run out and buy? Or will you wait until you find a  perfect dog-eared copy at a used bookstore or perhaps even wait for the right moment to acquire it?

10 Essential Cookbooks

Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer (Check)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
The Silver Palate by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo (Check)
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (Check)

What’s missing from this list?

I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot is certainly one of my personal faves. Also, anything by Sanjeev Kapoor is ace in my book as far as Indian cuisine is concerned.

What are your favorite books?