By Kay Steiger
Frozen Yo in Columbia Heights (Flickr/Mr. T in DC)
Yesterday, as is a haphazard tradition in my office, we brought one of our interns out for frozen yogurt on her last day as a way of thanking her for all her hard work over the summer. We decided to walk to Frozen Yo in Metro Center. Afterward I felt sick.
Perhaps it was the heat. Or the fact that I had just eaten beforehand. Or perhaps it’s the fact that Frozen Yo serves their self-serve yogurt in gigantic freaking containers. They have to be at least twice to three times the size of the containers you get at other fro yo places in town like Mr. Yogoto, Sweetgreen, or Tangysweet.
The first time I walked into Frozen Yo, I noticed how much it was like a buffet, where you load a bunch of crap onto your plate and see what you like best but ultimately end up eating way more than you planned. It just seemed so — American. And I say that as a born-and-raised, third-generation, 14th Amendment-style American. But come on, a huge container where you load up whatever you mix then pay by the pound? That screams excess.
Granted, I’m not much of a dessert person in general — I far prefer a savory treat. I would probably take french fries over frozen yogurt any day, so it’s not some kind of strange diet I’m on. I’ll say it, at risk of pissing off all the native Californians out there (where I understand this tradition comes from): This enormous tub o’ fro yo thing just turned me off.
by Ben Miller
The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted of fraud in 2006 for defrauding Native Americans and various other shenanigans, is now out of prison and working at Tov Pizza–a kosher shop in Baltimore County.
Back in my synagogue youth days we used to have the misfortune of getting Tov Pizza for the occasional weekend events. It’s defining characteristics were cheese so rubbery I’m pretty sure it would bounce if you molded it into a ball and a crust with the same consistency as the box it came in. It’s not even the city’s best kosher pizza, as the Sun article notes. That title should rightfully belong to Mama Leah’s, which is a totally serviceable option.
But here’s what always surprised me the most about Tov Pizza–there’s no inherent reason for kosher pizza to be so bad. Sure, you can’t offer any meat toppings, but the sausage/pepperoni options at most similarly priced places are so overly salty that it completely overwhelms the rest of the pizza. And there’s nothing inherently un-kosher about the ingredients for the sauce, dough, and cheese. Maybe the problem is finding kosher cheese, but even then it’s not that hard to make your own mozzarella (or ricotta if you want something different). And keep in mind that Baltimore County has a very large number of orthodox Jews so it’s not like you are in the middle of nowhere with no access to kosher goods.
To be fair, it’s been probably 10 years since I got stuck eating Tov Pizza, and maybe since then the offering has improved significantly. But personally, I always preferred the meatless synagogue baked ziti.
By Spencer Ackerman
In the wake of the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs, acrimony and recrimination swirled throughout President Kennedy’s inner circle. The press assigned blame by agency, presuming that the inexperienced president couldn’t have sufficiently taken the reins of his national-security bureaucracy. (Perhaps the Washington press corps was protecting Kennedy.) Prominent legislators wanted to know how a counterrevolution sponsored by the U.S. could possibly have failed. But Kennedy put an end to that unfortunate postscript to his first presidential failure. “I’m the responsible officer of this government,” he told the White House press corps.
As the responsible officer of the IFA, I must take responsibility for the decision last night to venture to the Star & Shamrock, a newish H Street establishment that garnishes an Irish pub with diaspora-Jewish deli favorites. For those of us who grew up in a city north of D.C. that’s packed with Jews and abundant pastrami, celery sodas, crispy latkes and irresistible half-sour pickles, it was filled with promise: we get our culture’s comfort food back, enjoyed over a beer or a whiskey; and our friends who aren’t as familiar with the flavors of Hester Street’s interpretation of the Pale of Settlement get to learn what they’re missing. They even experiment, offering intriguingly untraditional appetizers like fried matzoh balls, something new in the world of pub grub. So I mooted the prospect with my friends. Dinner plans were made. Opportunity fused with new possibilities to shape the contours of the world we wish to inhabit. Irish pub, Jewish heart. What could go wrong?
Absolutely everything. This is a subject that I presume IFA officers Mandy Simon, Ben Miller and Matthew Yglesias will wish to address as well. I’ll offer an overview of the Star & Shamrock’s most egregious failures. Continue reading
By Spencer Ackerman
I am no longer compelled to eat and review a KFC Double Down. Sam Sifton provides forthcoming insurance, it would appear.
By Spencer Ackerman
This is a serious story. And yet.
By Spencer Ackerman
Having some trouble loading the image, but I just made these deviled eggs. Festive, no? Odd as it may sound, I never ate deviled eggs in my life until the IFA’s own Emily Thorson served them at a party and they turned out to be delicious. So this morning I saw in my RSS that Washingtonian’s Recipe Sleuth had instructions for preparing the deviled eggs that 2 Amys serves. Now I’ve actually never had the deviled eggs there. But why not experiment? And that’s the reason for this post.
I get a little worried that food blogs, including this one, sort of pass along recipes without a caveat that following recipes misses the point of cooking. When I want to cook, I don’t want to do homework, and I don’t want to trace another person’s work. I want to create something my way. So if I read a recipe, I read it just until I understand the principles at work behind the dish, and then I think about what I might be able to do to make it more to my liking. Wouldn’t that be better with paprika? How can I get some bacon fat into this thing? It’s the difference between hearing a band play a straight cover and hearing it take the themes of an old or familiar song and work them into its own music. Patti Smith probably could have played a great faithful version of “Gloria.” But she changed the world by doing it her way. In a much less melodramatic or grandiose way, that’s how I feel about recipes. (Like Billy Beane and postseason baseball, my system doesn’t work for the exactitude of baking; but maybe that’s why I don’t bake.)
So I’d encourage you to read the 2 Amy’s recipe and do it your way. Here’s how I did mine:
Hardboil the eggs by putting them in boiling water for like 10 minutes. Put them in an icebath to cool and then crack the shells off. Slice them in half and scoop out the yolks. Place the yolks in a food processor. Into the processor, put some paprika, salt, arugula, lemon juice, a garlic clove and some chopped up pickles. Whazz. Taste until you’ve got something you like, changing as necessary. Scoop the mixture into the egg cavity and enjoy.
If you don’t have any of this stuff in your fridge — I used arugula simply because I had some in my fridge that was on its last legs and I find that most recipes calling for parsley taste better when substituting arugula — who cares. Use what you have. Experiment. Don’t stress. Don’t worry about proportions. Chances are if you cook you have an intuitive idea of how much of what to use. Experiment. Experiment some more. This is supposed to be fun, not stressful. Put on music. I broke out Wayne’s Da Drought Is Over 5 mixtape, because Amanda bought me The Carter documentary for Jewish Christmas; what a good friend.
By Spencer Ackerman
How I hoped this was a review of the new Jonathan Safran Foer polemic.