Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe to Judge: Healthy Shrimp Po' Boys

This is one of the favorite recipes in my house.


2 Tbsp light mayo
Old Bay seasoning
4 French rolls
cooking spray
garlic powder
1.25 lbs raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Cut open the rolls lengthwise, spray with cooking spray, and then shake on some garlic powder.  Toast rolls at 375 for about 5 minutes.
3. Combine mayo with Old Bay to taste
4. Sprinkle Old Bay on shrimp and set aside
5. Thinly slice the onion, spray cooking spray in a frying pan, and saute the onion until translucent
6. Add shrimp to pan with the onion and cook until done (pink on both sides)
7. Spread mayo on rolls, place shrimp, onion, lettuce, and tomato on top and then squirt some fresh lemon juice on top.

Judged as, no one will know that this sandwich is good for you.*

*about 6

Passing Judgment: I Would Rather Eat My Calories

Check out this blog post on the worst drinks. And it's true, I would rather eat my calories.

 Harmful Drinks in America

Also, the author of Eat This Not That, David Zinczenko, was on the Today Show this morning. Follow the links to see what he had to say.

Eat This Not That is judged as something I love, it exposes the reality of the food we are served.

Image Courtesy of World of Mysteries

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Passing Judgment

The new Subway Breakfast is a great option for those times on the go when you need a healthy breakfast choice.  I stopped by the other day and ordered the Western Egg and Cheese, which is a low fat english muffin topped with egg, cheese, and veggies of your choice.
For my sandwich I opted for the the egg white, with no cheese, tomato, spinach, olives, and red onion.*  It was delicious. Judged as a great way to start your morning!

I know in this picture it doesn't look too fabulous, but that's because it was squished when I carried it in my bag between the restaurant and the office.

*About 2 pts.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Passing Judgment

I decided that sometimes I don't have a whole lot to say on a certain topic, but judgment still needs to be passed.  Therefore, I have come up with a quick post format called "passing judgment."  These posts will just be little judgments I have.

Here is the first.

This new Stride Shift gum is judged as awful, it should have never been released from the test kitchen. The lime, mint combo is gross. Check out more judgment on this gum at Gum Alert: A Gum Blog.

Bachelorette Party in DC

For my sister-in-law's bachelorette party it was decided that we would have a sit-down dinner followed by dancing.  Which brings me to the following judgment.

For dinner we went to Oyamel a high-end Mexican restaurant that is part of the Think Food Group, to which Zaytinya (head chef and top chef Mike Isabella)and Jaleo also belong. I had stopped in Oyamel before, but just for a drink and wasn't sure what to expect with the food.  I knew I loved the smaller, intimate space with Mexican/modern decor and a lively young crowd; therefore, I thought it might be the perfect space for 12 ladies to share a meal in honor of their friend.

I called Oyamel to make a reservation and they explained to me that because we have 12 people, the group would be considered a party.  This meant that we would choose from a set menu and larger space would be prepared.  Hillary, the event planner, was extremely helpful, she sent me the menus in an e-mail, helped me with all of my related questions (and there were quite a few), and answered e-mails almost instantly.  I decided to go with a three course meal, guacamole made table-side (a fav of the bride), and an open bar with margaritas, sangria, beer, and wine.  All of this would last for two and a half hours.  Event planner judged as super helpful especially considering this was just a party of 12.

When we arrived that evening at Oyamel we were introduced to our waitress, who was recently married and incredibly nice.  Our table was ready and a few special details were added, such as cocktail napkins, candy, and a tiara for the bride, which I purchased ahead of time.  The staff was incredibly helpful about setting this up. They quickly brought the bride her drink as well as one for all of her friends and then showed us to the table.  Serve judged as above and beyond!

We started the meal with the table-side guacamole, which was delicious.  It had more lime than other places, but everyone agreed that we liked the extra lime and judged it as a good guac.

For our meal we had three course, all served on small, sharable plates.  In the first course we received a salad, gaspacho, and, a tostada.  The salad, ensalada de aguacate, was a fresh fruit salad served with an orange vinaigrette that was both refreshing and flavorful.  In the second course we enjoyed tacos with bbq pork and picked onions, albondigas a.k.a. meatballs, tamal verde, and seared arctic char.  The arctic char was the highlight of this course.  It was cooked perfectly.

For our dessert course we enjoyed a chocolate sorbet and rum cake.  The chocolate sorbet was out of this world, anyone craving chocolate would cure their craving with just one spoonful.  Judged, the best chocolate frozen treat. The rum cake was judged as having enough booze to count as one of the bachelorette's shots.

For dancing that night we went to Shadow Room, which claims to "challenge ourselves to provide an unparalleled level of service and experience that exceeds anything that is currently available." We booked a table with bottle service through club promoter and co-owner of DC Hosts, Jason.  We arrived at the club and were on the list, directed to our table, and promptly brought a menu to choose our bottle.

Once inside the waitress was really nice, the DJ played everything we wanted to dance to, and the bouncers outside the door kept a good count on the number of people in the club so we never felt crowded, which was so nice, since we wanted to go dance, not get pushed around.  The only downside was that random people kept sitting at the table we had reserved, it probably would have helped if there had been some sort of barrier between the dance floor and table benches.  Overall, we had a great time and danced the night away.  Shadow Room is judged as a fun place to go dancing in DC.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Judgment: Starbucks v. Caribou

A guest judge, Doug Ullman, has written the following post:

If you live in America, you know Starbucks.  Check that.  If you’re a living, breathing animal—mammal, reptile or (especially) nocturnal bird—you know Starbucks.  This ubiquitous café chain has brought its peculiar brand of designer coffee to the masses; and regardless of how you feel about Starbucks coffee, convenience often commands that you drink it.

As a recovering New Yorker, I am more than accustomed to finding little corporate coffee havens on every corner, often relying on them to slake a summer thirst or prevent hunger with their frequently pathetic baked goods.  Not being a huge coffee drinker, I have two staple orders: hot chocolate for those frosty wind-swept nights, and the ever-popular Mocha Frappuccino during the warmer months.  Thus Starbucks’ diverse drink offerings kept me in their custom for nearly ten years of city dwelling, including four years of college, and despite my invective about corporate coffee, I was pretty much hooked.  Well, as much you can be when your drinks are designed for children and high school girls.

Starbucks, like any good American food chain, has its imitators and competitors, each trying to bite off a portion of the designer drink pie and each achieving varying degrees of success.  But in the nation’s capital, a modest entity threatens to usurp Starbucks place as America’s premier corner café.

The place is Caribou Coffee, an Alaskan themed chain of coffee shops that have nearly the same look and feel as Starbucks, minus the pretension.  Indeed, the decided frontier feel of Caribou seems to provide an openness and calm, despite their often crowded urban settings.  So while you can also bring your laptop or a book to Starbucks and camp out for hours, at Caribou you can do the same without fear of being inadvertently included in the loud conversations of the faux intellectuals and hipsters that typically haunt the joint.  It’s just not that kind of place.  On top of that, Caribou is purportedly more eco-friendly than its Seattle-based forerunner.  If you care about that sort of thing.

Ambience: judged as low-key and cool.

But where Caribou truly succeeds is the way in which their menu seems to outclass Starbucks’ in every category.  Though Starbucks may have coined the term Frappuccino, Caribou’s Coolers have made the blended frozen drink an art form.  And though I have often braved the crowded lines of Starbucks for the warmth of a hot chocolate, I can promise you that as long as I’m in DC, Caribou is where I’m going for my three dollar Swiss Miss.

The secret to Caribou’s coffee coup lies in the way in which one can customize their order.  In other coffee shops, the hot cocoa drinker is entirely at the will of the distributer.  The specific chocolate flavor of hot chocolate is not often something considered.  Thus, the darkness or sweetness of your liquid choclification is largely out of your control.  Not so at Caribou.  Here, customers can choose milk, dark or white chocolate flavors provided by mini chocolate chips that are melted into the steaming milk.  The result is an out of this world blend that puts mom’s snow day recipe to shame.  A similar process is applied to their frozen-blended drinks, which also have low-fat offerings for the calorie conscious.

Choosing your own flavor of chocolate: judged as genius. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Caribou recently released a new line of low-fat breakfast sandwiches that blow Starbucks’ feeble attempt at the Egg McMuffin out of the water.  On my favorite, hearty turkey sausage is placed on a genuine buttermilk biscuit with scrambled eggs.  Judged as awesome.  Two of these minis go for just $3.50.  If you must eat a pre-fab breakfast sandwich, do it at Caribou.  Check that.  If you need go to a corporate coffee joint, make it a Caribou.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Visit to Colonial Williamsburg

This past week I traveled to Willliamsburg, Virginia to meet my aunt for some quality time and a little birthday celebration. 

The first stop on our trip was the Blue Talon Bistro, where they serve, what they call - Serious Comfort Food. I started with a delicious Kir Royal cocktail. A very tasty refreshment after the long train trip I had just taken from DC to Williamsburg. Judged as a great way to get over the stinky* train ride.
As an appetizer I had their field green salad, which was a combination of fresh field greens from a local farm with an aged sherry/Parmesan vinaigrette.  The sherry/Parmesan dressing had to be the best salad dressing I have ever had and while the field mix was definitely healthy, I think the dressing undid that health benefits.  Judged as an amazingly simple and delicious salad.

For my aunt's appetizer she had the escargots, which smelled wonderful and strong; there was enough garlic in that dish to keep the worst vampire away (I have read too much Twilight). My aunt judged this as a top ranking dish of escargot.

For dinner I had the scallops with asparagus and the forbidden rice.  Great, forbidden rice - this MUST mean it's soaked in a butter and cream sauce right!  Well, no, it's an Indonesian black rice that is high in fiber and healthy for you; check it out.  The scallops were perfectly seared with a wonderful caramelization.  However, the rice, while forbidden was chewy and hard and the asparagus was a little over cooked. My aunt had the crab cake, that she judged as "nothing special, it had too much filler."

I really like the ambiance of the Blue Talon, especially the TV at the bar, which shows only cooking shows and food based movies, the staff is very nice, and the decor is homey. I have eaten here before and had a wonderful nicoise salad; therefore, I do not want to judge the Blue Talon harshly, but I will say that on the night I went it was judged as not as delicious as I had hoped.

Now for a departure from my normal food judging to spa judging.  The next day my aunt and I went to the The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg (ignore the couple in this picture, I admit it's rather odd and I would judge the place as creepy based on this image).  After a few jokes about the 17th century or "burned at the stake" treatment we finally headed in and realized, like everything else at Colonial Williamsburg, it was beautiful.  I especially love the perfect combination of modern/colonial decor and the amazing shade of light blue that is used as an accent color. While at the spa we both had a massage and facial. Afterward, both of us walked away feeling healthy and rejuvenated. Judged as a relaxing, beautiful, and welcoming spa.  I can't wait to go back.

To wrap up the trip we headed over to the Williamsburg Farmers Market in Merchant Square.  During the market nearby farmers set up along Merchant Square to sell produce, cheese, milk, eggs, and flowers.  Among the stands were musical performances and a live cooking demonstration from one of the local restaurants. I bought some beautiful, tasty strawberries for my train ride back home.  Judge as one of the top ten reasons I would love to live in Williamsburg.
*Item has been judged.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo & Coco's Birthday

My friends and I went out for dinner this evening in celebration of Cinco de Mayo and their dog, Coco's birthday.  Coco did not attend her own birthday celebration as she was not allowed in the restaurant; however, she did stay home and hang out with her best friend, my dog. They had doggy treats from a local dog bakery that they judged a delicious enough to sit and wait for.

To celebrate we went to our local Mexican chain restaurant, Guapos. We love Guapos for the location, fun atmosphere, friendly staff, margaritas (which can be made as big as your face), and homemade chips & salsa. The main entrees are usually decent and there are some healthy option.

I had the chips, salsa, a Corona light, and the Guapos Salad.  The salad comes with grilled chicken or beef, mushrooms, green peppers, onion, avocado, and hearts of palm. The salad also comes with a delicious dressing, which I think is a Tex-Mex ranch.  The dressing is always served on the side, helping with portion control. The salad is judged as a great way to feel better about all of the chips you just ate.

The food was good and the place was packed, but the best part of the night had to be the mariachi band.  They were a ton of fun and a great addition to the already jubilant atmosphere.  Judged as a fun way to spend Cinco de Mayo on a work night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Trip to the Beach

This past weekend I went to Rehoboth Beach with my mom to enjoy the beach, relax, and try some of the local fare.

We arrived on Saturday at lunch so we went to a sandwich place next to the board walk, Dave and Skippy's. Dave and Skippy's is one of the few places along the board walk where you can get a fresh sandwich with veggies and whole grain bread. I had a delicious turkey sandwich and my mom had the California reuben - a reuben made with turkey. Judged as a fresh way to still look good in your bathing suit.

Later in the day we had our favorite fries ever - Thrashers.

Thrashers fries, while not judged as healthy are worth the calories. The potatoes are sliced on site, they are then fried in peanut oil, and rather than ketchup you are encouraged to pour apple cider vinegar on top.  Judged as delicious!

Following the fries, we took a walk on the beach.

We had dinner at Claws on Rehoboth Ave.  Claws has some great steamed shell fish options, tasty Maryland crab soup, which has a veggie based broth for low calorie goodness.  They will also broil or fry their crab cakes, we had one broiled crab cake each.  Claws is judged as good food with lots of healthy choices.

The next morning we took a talk around town and ended the walk at Retro Cafe & Grille.  I had the California Omelet made with egg whites and my mom had the french toast.  While the menu looked good, the food was not impressive.  The avocado in my omelet wasn't ripe and mom's meal was just so-so. My judgment is that we probably won't visit again with so many other great options in the area.

Another long beach walk - we needed it.

Later that day we stopped for lunch at Arenas Deli and Bar.  This was a diamond in the rough, down an ally with a dark bar and TV's it was initially judged as a place with typical bar food; however, the menu was outstanding. I had the chicken salad made with tarragon and grapes on top of a bed of fresh lettuce and veggies while my mom had the veggie burger with guacamole on top. Both were fantastic.  This was judged as a place to return the next time I am in Rehoboth.

To finish the trip we stopped in a new place, Annie's Bananies.  The creator, Annie, came up with the idea to juice frozen bananas into a soft serve frozen treat.  Annie herself made my frozen treat while telling us her story.  The shop is cute, the Bananie was delicious, and since it was only one frozen banana the Bananie was very healthy. Note: I had her top mine with chocolate syrup. Judged as a great place to get a frozen treat!

It's Time to Judge

This the first post for A Hot Plate of Judgment and I'm very excited about it. This blog is going to be about food, life, and judging.

I love food, particularly healthy eating. So recipes, restaurant reviews, product reviews and just delicious things in general will be shared.

I try to live a healthy lifestyle so exercise, activities, and fun things going on around the DC Metro area will be shared.

Finally, my co-workers and friends say that I love to judge. Therefore, A Hot Plate of Judgment will have a lot of judging. There will be judgments of food, clothing attire, events, and whatever else needs to be judged.