You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

You say temptation, I say "Tempt-Asian"

There's this little restaurant near one of the Asian markets we frequently shop at. It's called Tempt-Asian Cafe and we hadn't given it much thought.......until yesterday. Biscuit Boy was reading on Don Rockwell that the chef at Tempt-Asian was the former chef at China Star. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the DC area, China Star in Fairfax is (or was) one of the best places to go for authentic Szechuan cuisine. The other biggie for Szechuan is Joe's Noodle House in Rockville, which I've blogged about back a month or two ago. I always preferred Joe's over China Star. In my opinion, I liked the way Joe's food tasted and their staff is always much friendlier. Now that's not to say that I didn't like China Star, I just like Joe's better.

But back to the story. A few months ago, rumors were running wild about the service and the chef at China Star. Something wasn't right. First the service went down the tubes. The story goes that the staff went on vacation to China and the temporary staff just weren't up to snuff for the regular customers. Then the old staff re-appeared but certain items from the menu were suddenly gone. Now what!? The story was that the chef left and the new guy wasn't making some of the old items anymore. The China Star die-hards were more wontons in chili oil, no more scallion pancakes! Well, being a Joe's fan, I didn't think much of it.

That's when Biscuit Boy read that the old China Star Chef had Tempt-Asian. Postings started popping up on Chowhound with joyful cries about seeing the old China Star favs' on the "new" menu. Hmmm....maybe we should investigate for no other reason than to see if the stories were true. It also didn't hurt that Tempt-Asian was a far cry closer to our home than either China Star or Joe's. And when you need a Szechuan fix, a five minute drive beats the heck out of a 30-45 minute one.

So off we went. We walked in and inhaled deeply. mmmmmm So far so good. We opened our menus and noticed there were several newly inserted pages and many of the items on them looked remarkably like the ones once served at China Star. We decided to try the baby wontons in chili oil and the scallion pancakes as our appetizers and the Mapo Tofu and Crystal Shrimp with Asparagus as entrees. The waitress told us they didn't have any asparagus but offered to substitute another vegetable instead. We said sure.

The pancakes were first to arrive. Big fluffy pillows of goodness. I poked them with a chopstick and a whoosh of steam billowed out. They were a little on the greasy side but yummy anyway.

Next to arrive were the baby wontons in chili oil. Slippery little wontons floating in a bowl of warm sauce with chili oil and spices floating about. Now I'm pretty good with chopsticks, but these little boogers were too slick for me to maneuver. I scooped a few into a little bowl then used a chopstick to push a wonton onto the spoon. Hey, it wasn't pretty, but it was darn tasty.

We were please so far and anxiously awaited the entrees. The Crystal Shrimp came out and the substitute veggie was sugar snap peas. I could have eaten a plate of just those by themselves. The shrimp were great too. A mild dish but full of flavor.

And finally the Mapo Tofu came out. It looked darker with a thicker sauce than we've had before. The flavor was also a bit richer. The heat didn't hit you right away but after a few minutes, you noticed a little bit of perspiration along your forehead. Ah.......

We couldn't finish either entree so we had them boxed up. They're going to be dinner tonight. Overall the meal was very good. I still prefer Joe's but if a trek to Rockville seems like too much effort, I know I can get my fix at Tempt-Asian.

Tempt-Asian Cafe
6259 Little River Turnpike

Alexandria, VA 22313


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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Rock Shrimp

In our grocery travels today we picked up some frozen rock shrimp from Trader Joe's. I love rock shrimp and about the only time I eat them is while we're in Florida. What a treat to find them in the freezer section at TJ's! And they were already peeled which was great because their shells are like a coat of armor and shelling them would have been a bitch.

We threw some bowtie pasta, grated Parmesan cheese, spinach and garlic in the cart as well and planned our dinner as we finished shopping. Something good was going to be on the table tonight.

Raw rock shrimp

After thawing the rock shrimp and cooking the pasta, Biscuit Boy sliced a few cloves of garlic and sauteed them in a skillet. Once they were soft, he took them out and set them aside. Next in the skillet were the rocks. The house smelled great from just cooking the garlic but once the rocks began to add in their two cents, I was in heaven.

Just before the rocks were done, the garlic and pasta were added. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a dash of salt and a generous pinch or two of Parmesan later and it was placed in a bowl. I then coaxed Biscuit Boy into making a Parmesan crisp to top the pasta.

Finally the spinach was quickly stir fried and plated up, a nice bottle of Ca del Solo Big House Pink was opened,some beautiful purple carnations were set on the table and dinner was ready!

The rock shrimp had a nice sweet taste and were very meaty. Yum. They were delish. The only thing that would have made the meal even better was if we were eating it on a beach in Florida.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

A quiet dinner at home (and childhood memories)

Sorry for not having any new posts until now. We've been playing host to visiting family for the past 2 weeks and I'm a bit pooped. No, I take that back, I'm exhausted!

Last Sunday, with my mom being our current house guest, we fixed a nice quiet dinner at home for the three of us (four if you include Biscuit Pup). We fixed Vietnamese Five Spiced Quail as an appetizer and Pork with Rice Cakes and Zucchini. For dessert, we had fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.

Five Spiced Quail

I found the recipe for the quail online after we ate a similar version at a Vietnamese restaurant here in the area called Huong Que (or The Four Sisters). It's served with a small dish with about 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper and a lime wedge. You have to squeeze the lime juice into the salt and pepper and mix it together. Then dip little pieces of the quail into it and eat. The version at Huong Que is spectacular. It comes out hot and crispy with a slightly sticky coating. The aroma of five spice powder wafts up to your nose as you inhale deeply.

The recipe I found is slightly different but still very good. Since we can't cook outside (stupid condo rules......) , I've found that baking them in a slow oven (325 degrees) works pretty well.
For the main course, Biscuit Boy first sliced the zucchini and salted them to help draw out some of the water. He let them sit for about 30 minutes and drained them. Next he sliced some nice lean boneless porkloin into thin strips. He sauteed some garlic in a little oil then added the pork. While the pork was cooking, he boiled the rice cakes for a few minutes and drained them. Turning back to the pork, he added the zucchini, tossing everything around for a minute or two then finally adding the rice cakes. He stirred it all together with a little soy sauce and scooped it into a large serving bowl.

Pork with Rice Cakes and Zucchini

To add to the meal, we served a nice bottle of Chateau Grande Cassagne Rose. Two glasses later, mom was a little light headed. What can I say, mom's a lightweight these days. But back when I was a kid, we (my brother, sister and I) would be playing in the pool while mom and dad kicked back with a big pitcher of Harvey Wallbangers. Being kids, seeing them laughing and giggling, we just thought they were soooooo happy to see us having fun. Little did we know.......they were plastered, blotto, snockered, polluted and completely bombed out of their minds. Ah.......the memories........(at least we kids remember them).

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Princess Cake

Loveschool recently wrote about making a Swedish Princess Cake. It sounded delicious but much too complicated for me to even think about making. Don't get me wrong, I love to bake and love a good challenge but this cake takes DAYS to make. I can barely think about what to cook for dinner yet trying to set aside time to make one of these babies. So after a few days, the thought of a princess cake evaporated from me wee noggin.

That was until today. We drove a friend of ours to that big blue box of a store known as IKEA. She wanted to buy some bookcases and couldn't fit them in her little car. So we offered to take her in our Subaru.

One bad thing about IKEA is that you spend so much time in there looking everything, you're starving by the time you get to the checkouts. The Ikea folks are pretty smart too, they have all these yummy Swedish goodies located just beyond the check out lanes. I wandered over there while we waited in line and was tempted by all the cookies and chocolates. But something caught my eye in a little freezer case, it beckoned me over......and there it was......Swedish Princess Cake. And it looked just like the one that Lovescool made and I didn't have to make it. There it was just sitting there begging me to take it home. So I did. What can I say......I was weak from hunger after trekking around IKEA for nearly two hours.

So now it sits tucked away in my freezer where it will stay until Wednesday when I have family coming for a visit. My nephew and his girlfriend are flying up from Tennessee for a week. So after we make some homemade pizza for dinner, the princess will make her grand appearance.
This will be a nice way to start off their vacation.

And for those of you who can read Swedish, this website was in the back of the box.