Friday, August 31, 2012

Basil Thyme!

Bonjourno, our food truck expedition takes us on a tour of Italian cuisine. Basil Thyme, headed by Brian Farrell and Malik Umar has become recognized both locally and nationally as one of the best food trucks. The truck serves a variety of different lasagnas and cannolis to local residents looking to quench their appetites or carb up for the afternoon sit-down marathon in their cubicle.

Basil Thymes fame have made it a must try in the city and there are no signs of slowing. Its current popularity has boosted it to 2nd best food truck in City Papers “Best of” issue and 4 ½ stars on Yelp. Despite all of these accolades I somehow never tried this truck until this past year. Overlooking this truck wasn’t because of a lack of cognizance or interest but just something that slipped the cracks.

(Image via I heart food DC

My first visit came around March when I took to the streets of Foggy Bottom while running some errands. I spotted the truck and decided to finally give it a try. I will be forthright in saying that I am not the biggest fan of Italian cuisine. I think lasagna, pasta, and pizza are all great foods but I cannot for the life of me think of an instance where I have craved any of these dishes. Regardless of my attitude I calmly waited in line browsing the selection of lasagnas. I decided on ordering the Lisetta which consists of slow roasted pork in a vodka sauce.  I took it back to the office and enjoyed my meal. The portion size was perfect for me and the side salad balanced out the dish leaving me quenched.

While I did not salivate like Garfield at the thought of trying the truck again I always kept the option open should there be another opportunity. This chance presented itself a couple of weeks ago when the truck visited M St. Still recovering from the removal of my wisdom teeth I thought Lasagna would a good option. To my chagrin the line was the longest of the three other food trucks in the area. I remember the afternoon vividly as it was one of the first days of excruciating humidity known as a DC summer. As I watched people in line melting away I began to second guess my decision of eating warm lasagna on a brutal day. I stuck to my guns and waited in line because in reality the heat did not bother me at all.

(Linda Lasagna)  

Once my turn came I was glistening like a chicken in the oven and seriously considered walking to an ice cream store to order a banana split. I scratched that thought and decided to order the Linda which is their most popular dish. It is a traditional lasagna that consists of seasoned beef with tomato sauce. I also ordered the cannoli of the day which in this case was chocolate chip. 

I took my food and found shelter underneath a tree with my friend. While she giggled with amusement from my infant like approach to eating food I was savoring the flavors of a well composed dish. The lasagna was a hit but I was sad that I could not fully enjoy every bite without a throbbing pain in my mouth. After finishing off the platter I could not find any room for the cannoli so I took it back to the office to have as an afternoon snack.  

(Chocolate Chip Cannoli) 

About an hour after my lunch I found the need to snack on the aforementioned Italian treat. The cannoli was refreshing and well flavored. After finishing it I could only wish that I had another to split with a friend. My meal was a combo which came with a soda and run me $12 which is fairly reasonable in DC or any major city these days. 

All in all Basil Thyme does right in my book. While I am a huge fan of this particular cuisine I can easily see myself getting food from this truck if they were in my neighborhood. Now that I have moved to the other coast our expedition embarks on the LA food truck scene which most consider the birth of mobile cuisine. Until next time, arrivederci!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Even though its been only two months since I have moved from DC there are a number of little things I already miss. Aside from my friends who I love dearly there are quite a few cultural differences that naturally arise when you live two thousand miles away. 

One of these things is a dependable sandwich shop. I have quickly come to the realization that somewhere during the westward expansion the concept of a sandwich was lost. As I traveled west I distinctly remember having my last great sandwich in Chicago, anything afterwards was a utter joke. 

Even though DC doesn't come close to competing with NYC or Philadelphia when it comes to the quantity of good sandwich shops it is leaps and bounds over the west coast. In DC most residents will claim that Taylor Gourmet serves the best subs. I will wager that this group has yet to try SUNdeVICH, which in my opinion gives them a run for their money.

Up until this year SUNdeVICH was unbeknownst to a majority of residents outside the Shaw/ Mt. Vernon neighborhood. I myself was unaware of its existence until I stumbled upon it on Yelp. I was even more shocked when I realized that it was within walking distance from my house. Towards my last couple of months their popularity quickly rose when they beat out the aforementioned Taylor Gourmet in a Washington Post poll. It was at this point that I made it a priority to give them a shot.

When I made my first visit I quickly realized why there were not well known. Hidden in the middle of an ally between N & O St. it is very easy to miss if you are casually walking down the street. I distinctly remember coming back from a run and stopping by on my way back. I initially walked passed it and had to turn around when I entered the actual address into my phone. Once I found it I entered and  quickly scanned their chalkboard menu. I decided to order the Buenos Aires which consists of large chunks of steak and onions all on top of Chimichurri. For those who are unaware, Chimichurri is a fantastic steak sauce which originates from Argentina (surprise, surprise) which is known for cooking great steaks.

At the time there were no other customers so I decided on taking it home instead of eating alone inside an empty restaurant. Once I got home I let my voracious appetite take control while my mind drifted off. I only really remember being pleasantly surprised by both the quantity and quality of the steak I was given as well as the soft baguette it was served on. After that I made a note to go again after my Saturday football game on the National Mall.


After I did my best to imitate Tom Brady on the football field I decided to make good on my promise and quench my appetite with another one of these sandwiches. During my second visit it was empty yet again which was puzzling on a Saturday afternoon when people are out walking around. 

Brushing that thought aside I quickly scanned their menu and noticed a sandwich that I did not remember seeing the first time. The Paris which consists of ham, gruyere cheese, tomato and dijon mustard on top of sunny side up eggs. To me this flavor combination sounds like heaven on a roll and I asked myself how I could have possibly overlooked it the first time. I then asked the server if it was a new item and she told me that it was a sandwich of the month that had recently been put on the menu permanently due to popular demand. 


This time I didn't mind sitting alone in an empty restaurant, mainly because I was so tired and hungry. But after taking the first bite I regretted the decision out of shear embarrassment. Once my teeth broke the light seal on the eggs, thus exposing the yoke which interacted with the ham and gruyere. The assortment of ingredients produced a flavor orgy in my mouth which produced tears of joy that I wish I could replicate right now. After I devoured the sub I highly contemplated ordering another but instead exited the property post haste in order to prevent me from making a foolish yet genius decision.

My last visit came during one of my last days in DC. I remember it being a rainy week which was symbolic of my feelings at the time. I braved through the weather and ordered a Kingston which consists of jerk chicken, pineapple salsa, spicy slaw and garlic mayo. To continue with the dreary theme the sandwich was a huge letdown. While the flavor combination seemed like it would taste fantastic I was left asking myself what I should do with the other half.

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to sample any of their other sandwiches and give them a chance to redeem themselves. But I figured that two out of three is good enough for me. While I will not proclaim that they have dethroned Taylor Gourmet as the best sandwich spot in DC they have pulled a good fight. The quality of their ingredients and their culturally diverse menu allows them to be called a superb sub shop in my opinion and one worth your attention.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Columbia Room

We continue our food tour after a prolonged hiatus of which I offer my sincerest apologies. As many of you may know I have decided to start a new chapter in my life by traveling across the country and moving to Los Angeles.  While I like to gloat that my travels were as courageous and daring as Jack Kerouac they were not but my experiences driving cross country share a number of similarities. 

My transition has been difficult in many ways and have inevitably affected my daily routine. Now that I have fully situated myself and begun working again I can revert back to the routine that I enjoyed so dearly. While my posts will be primarily on the west coast from this point on I hope you continue to read and interact even if they may not be relevant to you. 

I changed the name of the blog to Channeling My Inner Fat Child and hope to get more creative as I continue to feed my culinary curiosity. During my time off I have experienced a quasi-catharsis; I came to a realization that I enjoy traveling quite a bit and will dedicate more of my resources to feeding this hobby. 

With all that taken care of we continue the topic at hand right were we left off. My last post was about the culinary outlandish and cocktail enthusiast bar The Passenger. Our next post deals with the Columbia Room which is a bar within The Passenger. Hidden discretely in the back Columbia Room is a reservation only bar intended for cocktail savants or people interested in taking a tour of sophisticated spirits.

Listed as the 18th Best Cocktail bar in GQ the Columbia Room is easily on of the best bars in DC proper. As mentioned above Columbia Room is a reservation only so you can not simply stroll in at your own convenience. Luckily reservations aren't too hard to come by so don't fret.

Once you have reserved a time you simply go to one of the servers in The Passenger before your alloted time. The appointments take about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how many people are at the bar. The cost is $65 which includes two drinks that are predetermined and one drink of your choosing as well as a small appetizer. You can continue drinking after that but you start a new tab with the bartender and drinks cost a certain price which I don't know off the top of my head.

I have had the luxury of visiting this bar twice during my time in DC. As you may have discerned from previous posts I fancy myself a sophisticated drinker. Having a friend who owns a liquor store, going to a number of wine tastings and have a small click of friends who love fancy cocktails enabled me to believe that I knew a good deal about spirits and the art of cocktails. But after my first visit I was humbled and embarrassed to a small extent of how little I actually knew.

During this humbling first experience I was merely a spectator enjoying the experience. I took no photographs or notes, I just breathed in the experience. After that I set up another reservation for a friends birthday in hopes of recuperating a tiny bit of my dignity.

Once you enter you are greeted by the bartender who will be serving you for the evening. The bar itself is quite small which gives a really intimate feel. The exposed brick, dim lighting, and low ambient music offer a very chic modern atmosphere. Everything that is done here is as precise and organized as can be. From cooled glasses, shaved ice and even cucumber infused wash cloths everything is performed to perfection.

My tour started off with an absinth based drink which was magnificent. This was followed by a drink called Look Before You Leap which composed of Plymouth gin, sweet vermouth and acid phosphate with a orange garnish. The drink was smooth and complex and was accompanied by a seared scallop with a sea foam reduction which was also quite elegant.

As I mentioned above the final drink you consume is up to your choice. The bartenders are obviously very knowledgeable and can assist you in your decision. I remember during my first visit I had a playful argument with one of the bartenders about how horrible olives and olive juice were. The bartender disagreed so I dared them to make me a martini that I would actually like. Low and behold he made a fool out of me, he also provided me with their olives which were quite amazing.

During the next instance I had some more fun with my bartender. I asked her to make me a drink with similar qualities to a rum and coke. After she raised her eyebrows I said I was joking and threw her a curveball. I asked her to make the drink that made her fall in love with cocktails. She took a moment to compose herself and started making a traditional Italian cocktail composed entirely out of Vermouth. I wish I wrote down the name because I truly enjoyed every aspect of it which is a bit surprising because I am not a fan of Vermouth.

In conclusion I highly recommend making a reservation for the Columbia Room. It is a great way to take a date, celebrate a birthday or anniversary or just learn about the art of mixology. People think the price of admission is unreasonable, especially for only three drinks. I counter by telling them to either use or ask them if they ever buy shots and if so to look at how expensive they are. Also this is a only a yearly experience, its not as if you are doing it frequently. I hope my pitch sold you because I know you will not be disappointed if you chose to visit.