A Secretly Luxurious Happy Hour at Louro

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Yesterday, I went on exploratory mission with my friend Matthew to the curiously deserted Louro in the West Village.  This space used to be Low Country. Low Country, Louro.  In the same grey font in the window.  For weeks, I just assumed it was the same place rebranded.   These were the weeks after I just didn’t notice that the signage had changed.   I couldn’t have been the only one.  Louro opened in December, and people, I want it to stick around.

Why?  Free snacks.  My two favorite words in the world together.  Free.  Snacks.

Their happy hour deal is 5:30 to 7:30 PM and then after 10 PM at their spacious, quiet-enough-to-have-a-conversation bar. (Am I showing my age??!)  All their cocktails are $8.  $6 house wine.  $1 oysters. The cocktails were tasty, and the oysters were fresh.

Our fancy, and expectation-exceeding snacks?  Some very tender calamari, freshly made seafood croquettes, and palate cleansing spicy broccoli. Lipsmacking stuff in the perfect little quantities.  When we ordered our second round of cocktails, the bartender offered us more snacks.  Generosity and snacks.

Go, people.  Go now.  Save Louro.

(Apologies for the super terrible photo, the iPhone is unwell.)

Wine, Physicists, a Dog and the Great Outdoors

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This past weekend, I headed down to D.C. to visit a good friend of mine and air out some life baggage.

We met up with two very smart, dashing physicists (which brings the number of physicists that I’ve met up to a grand total of 3), visited some Virginia wineries, and went for a nice, little baby hike in Shenandoah National Park.

Ferns on Rockface

It was all kinds of great.

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And all kinds of pretty.

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The best wine we had, by far, was at Hume Winery a relatively new outfit out on a Civil War-era historic farm in Fauqier County.

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The very friendly and very knowledgeable owner Stephane (French born, D.C. research consultant turned pre-life crisis winery owner) and his assistant (who happened to be an ex-Air Force mechanic turned archeologist currently working for the Smithsonian as a airplane restorationist) were behind the bar, pouring the tastings.  If they weren’t living proof confirmation from the world that this all leads somewhere, I don’t know what is.

My particular favorites, the crisp Seyval Blanc and the floral Pinot Verdot, were on opposite ends of the taste spectrum but were made with a light and sensitive hand and were overwhelmingly palate pleasing.

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Mr. Lucio (Age: 4 months) kept us safe from predators and thugs throughout the day.

Mr Lucio

I would highly recommend his security services.

Oh, and this is why they call them the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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As I said, it was all kinds of pretty.

How was your weekend?

P.S. We gunned down some great cocktails at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace in Logan Circle on Friday night, and enjoyed their smartly outfitted indoor/outdoor space.  Their wood grilled East Coast oysters were fantastic.

Bloody & Burger at Prune

After work last night, I stopped by Prune with a friend to check out their newly revived Bloody & Burger deal.  For one crisp $20, on Sundays through Mondays between 5:30 and 7 PM, they hand over an expertly made Bloody Mary and one of their fantastically decadent burgers.

Bloody.

Bloody.  Check!

Burger.

Burger. Check!  (Yes, it looks to be on the smaller side, but is incredibly rich and flavor packed.  You will not go hungry.)

Marrow.

Roasted Marrow Bones.  (What?!?)  We couldn’t resist.  Marrow was being served all around us, and it was too intriguing.  If you haven’t had marrow before, I think it can be best described as meat butter.  Meat. Butter. Meatbutter.  At Prune, the meatbutter is served with toast, grey sea salt, and a much needed side of de-clogging parsley salad.  If you’re being a rational human being, a burger plus marrow equals waaaayyyyyy too much cow.  I could feel my arteries slowly solidifying, and cow-ness coming from my pores.

And then I washed my hands and went to a yoga studio.

The End.

Ix-nay On…Brains?

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I was listening to this American Life the other day, as Ira and gang meandered through an episode on doppelgangers.  First up, (or should I say Act One) was a piece on passing off sliced pig rectum as…dum dum dum…imitation calamari.  (By the way, pig rectum is officially known as BUNG a.k.a. funnest word ever.) Initially, yes, I was horrified, but when I stopped to think about it, I was really just horrified by possibly being lied to.  NOT by the bung eating.

I’ve had this bung you speak of.  And I liked it.

Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t – Chinese people think everything is edible.  Like everything.  Color the world in shades of cold jellyfish salad, braised chicken feet, sea cucumbers, swallow spit, fish eyeballs, congealed pork blood cubes, duck tongues on a stick, fish head stew, and spicy tripe casserole.  On the less esoteric end, meat is always with bone in, fish with head on and everything with skin on.  Growing up in a Chinese household, within the ethnic food buffet that is New York City and being lucky enough to do a good amount of global traveling, food has always equaled adventure without the defying of death and threatening of life.  When confronted with a new, exotic dish, the question has always skipped right past the yes versus no to ‘is it good?’.  If you’ve come to conclusion that this also called being greedy, you are so correct.  Being overly confident in this particular sector of life, I thought there was nothing I could eat that would faze me.

Cut to the former M.Wells Diner in Long Island City, winter of 2011.  We had a bunch of good eaters doing what they do best, with a table of raw seafood, escargot, foie gras, maple pie, and veal brains.  Veal brains.  They tasted much like what I had envisioned – silky like a slightly toothsome tofu, with an undefinable sweetness.  In the moment, I felt fine about but for weeks afterwards I felt guilty and terrible, with a nightmare or two thrown in for a good measure. I decided that this was a food boundary I would not be crossing again.  It made me a little sad, as I like to think of myself as a person who eats everything, but this particular food has quite effortlessly punched through my imaginary armor.

Which made me wonder, adventurous eaters, what’s your food kryptonite?

(Thanks to my cousin, Peter, for the in-action shot of pork blood/rice cake on a stick at a Taiwanese night market.  Good job with the eating.)

Hot Sauce City

This summer has been all hot sauce, all the time in my apartment.  That little (or big) kick in the mouth feels the right answer to combating the oppressive mugginess (of the air), and the inevitable sluggishness (of me).  I tend to prefer hot sauces higher on the heat gradient, and that do that slow burn in your throat and stomach, instead of just setting your mouth immediately on fire.

Without, further ado, I bring to you my three most favorite hot sauces, all deliciously perfect in their own way.

1. Sriracha

You know about this already.  If you’ve tried it, you understand.  If you haven’t, you need this like you need ice in your lemonade.  It’s the classic.  (Tabasco doesn’t count…because it’s gross.)  Equally at home on scrambled eggs, noodles, meats of all persuasions, sandwiches, and tweaked condiments, its versatility is legion. (Check out Bon Appetit’s 25 ways to use Sriracha.)  Without any sour or sweet notes that can skew the taste of a dish, Sriracha adds a slow, but strong heat to anything it touches.  Even better?  It’s a multicultural mutt from California, by way of Thailand via Vietnam.  The NYT would love to tell you more.

By the way, don’t get fooled by imitators in similar bottles, of which there are many. They pale in comparison.

2. Secret Aardvark Habanero 

I happened on this while eating at Pine State Biscuits in Portland last year and it’s been stocked in my cupboards ever since.  A little sweet, a little fruity, and a lot of hot, SA Habanero doesn’t get along with absolutely everything the way Sriracha does, but it does lend some great flavor and heat to most things.  (This and pork are total BFFs.)  Made in Portland and tinged with Caribbean influences, Secret Aardvark Habanero doesn’t seem to be stocked on this coast, but you can order it online.  Perhaps in a pack of 6, so you can be a hot sauce know-it-all/distributor to your friends.

3. Bo Ky Green Chili 

I’ve been going to Bo Ky/Grand Bo Ky for a while now for their cheap, cheap, delicious soup noodles.  Half the reason I go is for their green chili sauce that they keep stocked on their tables.  It’s lightly pickled, fresh, bright, fantastically hot, and brilliant with seafood.  I have been refraining from eating it straight from the spoon.  A small container is $4, a large is $7, sold at their two locations.

That is all.  Let me know if I’m missing anything importantly delicious!

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