Tangled Branches: Satiated

riveting tales of how we sustain ourselves

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thai Basil and Nongkran Daks

The spouse got an email this week from a business acquaintance who told him that she had just seen our favorite local Thai restaurant on the Food Network. We didn't think much more about it, and then we went there for lunch today. Oh my! The place was packed. I was afraid they'd be too busy and rushed, but the food had the same fresh and fabulous taste as always.

Congrats to Nong! We liked your Pad Thai best even before it was famous!

Check it out for yourself:

Thai Basil Chantilly
Nong's Pad Thai recipe @ The Food Network site
Loudoun Extra article

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posted by Entangled at 2:27 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Central Virginia Weekend

Could Central Virginia become the next big foodie destination? Last weekend the NY Times did "36 Hours in ..." and the city was Charlottesville. (There are a few mistakes in that article, and I'll note them at the end of this post.) But the farther you get from Charlottesville, the harder it is to find anything good to eat. Harder, but not impossible, and there are some surprisingly good things if you know where to look. Last weekend, freed from the garden chores by the freeze of the previous week, we visited a couple of favorite places and added two new ones.

San Marcos Restaurant, Orange
I began writing this review almost a year ago, and I'm very sorry I didn't post it sooner. This is a wonderful restaurant, although maybe a bit more wonderful when it first opened. Everything is still prepared with care and attention, but some of the better dishes aren't always available now (Sopes) and the rice has changed from a beautiful pale green cilantro-scented creation to the more usual orangy tomato-chicken broth based stuff. But it's still the best Mexican restaurant in the area. If it was in Charlottesville or northern Virginia it would be hugely popular, but in Orange it's an uphill struggle against the local tastes. Following is what I wrote on November 2, 2007:

Should you ever find yourself in Orange Virginia around mealtime, I enthusiastically recommend that you try San Marcos Mexican Restaurant. We've been watching the construction progress of this place for months now, and last weekend the "Now Open" sign appeared. Last night we stopped in and were very impressed.

It's located in a new small retail space on the south side of Orange on Rt. 15. The decor is "nice storefront", but clean and bright - no sequinned sombreros.

That's as far as I got with it. Since then, we've eaten there almost weekly. We love the Tacos al Pastor (pork with pineapple), the Red Enchiladas (red mole sauce - delicious), the Tortilla Soup (thick and creamy with cheese), the Sopes (lunch only and not always available). We really enjoyed some of the specials, but haven't seen them lately - tamales in banana leaves and posole are two that come to mind. Tortas (sandwiches) look good on the menu, but we've only tried one so far - the Cuban version - and it was tasty.

Full disclosure: I also posted a review on Google, and seconded an opinion on Yahoo!. I have no financial interest in this business, but I fervently hope they stay open because it's one of best places to eat in between Tangled Branches North and Tangled Branches South. The spouse and I can't keep them in business all by ourselves, but we try.

Higginbotham Beef and Bottle Shop, Orange
Grass-fed beef (frozen) and a nice selection of wine with a few beers on the side. What more could you want? We haven't tried too many different things here - mostly ground beef and steaks - but we've been happy with everything. The sirloin steak was particularly good.

Retreat Farm and Village Depot Store, Rapidan
We just found out about this place, and haven't actually tasted anything we bought, but we were impressed with the selection. We bought a boneless leg of lamb, some ground lamb, a dozen eggs AND BLACK TWIG APPLES! One of my very favorite apples and not always easy to find. These weren't quite ripe yet, but I trust they'll be good in cooking. I'll post an update after we've eaten some of our purchases.

Dr. Ho's Humble Pie, North Garden
Sounds like a holdout from the 1970s, but this place makes very good pizza. Sunday was our first visit, but won't be our last. We tried the Don Juan - wild mushrooms, roasted Roma tomatoes, and three cheeses. It was loaded, but the crust held. We deliberately didn't finish it so we could try the Apple Humble Crumble, or was it Humble Apple Crumble, or...well it was good whatever they called it. An entire gratin dish of apple crisp with oatmeal, nuts, cinnamon, and big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Way too much for two people who had just eaten pizza, but we finished it anyway.

Corrections to the NY Times article mentioned above:
In item 7, Country Roads, you have to drive south (not north) on Rt. 20 (towards Scottsville) if you want to see The Waltons locale.

In "If You Go", 200 South Street Inn is an expensive dump. We stayed there a couple of years ago and were flabbergasted at the moldy decrepit room we were given. Light fixtures broken, furniture broken (literally - splintered wood with missing pieces), dangerously uneven floor, and furthermore right next to the railroad tracks, which is OK as long as no trains go by. We should have demanded our money back, but we really needed a place to stay. It's true that it's very difficult to get a room anywhere in town if there's a big event on at the university.

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posted by Entangled at 3:48 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ants on a Tree

Today's NY Times has an article about the renaming of Chinese dishes so as not to frighten the Olympic visitors. "Ants Climbing up a Tree" should now be called "Sauteed Vermicelli with Spicy Minced Pork". But, um, isn't vermicelli literally "little worms" in Italian? Is that less scary?

We had this very dish last evening at Sichuan Village. Very tasty, whatever they call it, but the rendition we were served last night had too much sauce if you ask me. It was more like "Ants Swimming in Chili Sauce".

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posted by Entangled at 6:39 PM 0 comments

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Pizza: American Flatbread

Last night we visited American Flatbread in Ashburn/Broadlands for the 3rd time. We've been impressed on every visit. The menu is salad, pizza, pizza, pizza and dessert. The tasty, crispy-chewy crust pizza is baked in their wood-burning clay oven in full view of the entire attractively-furnished dining room. The toppings are fresh, local, and organic (as far as possible). So why isn't this place mobbed? It's been practically empty every time we've been there.

For the record, the pizzas we've tried so far are: New Virginia Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomato & Mushroom, and Pepperoni & Peppers. They also have nightly specials - haven't tried any of these although they sounded good. If you don't like their combinations, you can design your own.

The only drawback for us, and maybe a lot of the demographic who would be their enthusiastic customers, is that the place isn't all that conveniently located. We'd be there a lot more often if it was easier to get to. It's in a new shopping center off the Dulles Greenway, and that's a $3 toll one-way for us :-(

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posted by Entangled at 9:12 AM 0 comments