Sunday, April 23, 2006

Waffle Shop

One of my favorite breakfast places in the city is the Waffle Shop. Locate on 10th St., NW between F and G Streets, this greasy-spoon diner has everything that you would need for a good, hearty, cheap start to the morning. It's a favorite for my housemates after a long night of partying.

The diner itself consists of one long counter where you jockey to find seating. It's always packed with locals and tourists. I've been able to wrangle enough seats for five people together some days and others, it's hard enough to find seating for two people. The menu includes the usual breakfast staples, eggs, toast, grits, home fries, and French toast on weekdays. I highly recommend their waffles and corned beef hash. For those more in the mood for lunch, they have wonderful hamburgers. The Waffle Shop even has a Chinese menu. I've never tried it, though.

I love to go and people watch here.

The waitresses are always very nice.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I recently went through this brief period wherein I craved cupcakes. I'm usually a chocolate person but for some reason, this past winter and spring I have been craving non-chocolate cakes and cookies, especially really good cupcakes. One of the best recipes that I've found is Gourmet's Buttermilk Cupcakes. It makes about 30 cupcakes.

Here is the recipe:

3 1/4 cups plus 2 tbs sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbs) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Reduce the speed to low and add buttermilk. Add the flour in 3 batches.

Divide the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 18-22 minutes.

The best part about this recipe is that it comes with 2 frosting recipes, a lemon and a chocolate. Both come from a cream cheese base.

Here is the recipe for the chocolate and lemon cream cheese frostings:

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick plus 7 tbs unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbs plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.

Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy.

Transfer half of the frosting into another bowl. Mix the chocolate into one bowl and the lemon juice into the other.

I made this recipe for a Valentine's Day Tea Party and happened upon a great flavor combination: the lemon frosting with a slice of strawberry on top. Sometime about the 2 flavors just brings it all together.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lunar New Year's - Late Report

I know that this entry is a little late, but the pictures were so fun that I do have to post them. The Lunar New Year is a big deal in East Asian countries. In Vietnam, it's called Tet. It's like Thanksgiving, Christmas and your birthday all rolled into one 3-day festival. Everyone takes the time out to visit family and friends. There is a lot of traditional celebration food and gifts of luck money from relatives and family friends. As kids, my brother and I used to rake up a lot of cash. It was our spending money for the rest of the year. Now that I'm older, only my parents, my grandmother and my god parents give me money.

Most of my family lives in Charlotte, NC. For the last few years, I've been going back to visit everyone and to attend the Tet festivities that the city's large Vietnamese population puts on. Each year, everyone congregates at the large Vietnamese shopping center in Charlotte. The festivities include skits and local acts, beauty pageants, dragon dancing and lots of great food.

The dragon dance is always very fast and very loud with drummers and firecrackers. Sometimes the little kids get scared, especially when their parents give them little red envelopes with "money" to put in the dragon's mouth.
The guys are really nice and try to reassure any kids who are scared.
And it wouldn't be a Vietnamese celebration without mounds and mounds of food. This is a display of all the dried fruit, candies and cookies that are traditionally available for Tet.