food · international

Review: Anokha Indian Restaurant

Last week, I returned to a restaurant that I’ve visited but never reviewed. Anokha is a small but charming restaurant located in the Short Pump area of Richmond, Virginia. The restaurant specializes in Indian cuisine with an upscale twist.

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As an ethnic (international) food fanatic, I find myself constantly on the hunt for new restaurants to get my “fix”. While I tried Anokha one day during my lunch break, I was eager to try it again to make sure that it was as good as I recall.

I’m pleased to say that my memory didn’t fail me: Anokha’s food is outstanding and worth the visit.

I tried the Shrimp Koliwada as my appetizer, the Crabmeat Curry as my entree, and the regular and peshwari naan. Here are the photos of my Indian feast!

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Shrimp Koliwada (I was starving, I had to eat one before I took the pic!)

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Crabmeat Curry (you can even see my cousin’s hand in this photo: for once, I wasn’t dining alone! And she ordered the crabmeat curry, too)

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Naan (regular and peshwari: the peshwari naan has the reddish hues)

The restaurants describes the shrimp koliwada as, “Jumbo Shrimp in a Konkan Style Spiced Batter”. The end result was crisp in the best possible way, and the chutney was a nice, spicy garnish for the dish. The fresh slaw was a delicious flavor counterpoint for the tasty fried shrimp.

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Closer pic of the crabmeat curry

The crabmeat curry was everything a good curry should be: hearty, creamy, spicy, but full of fresh ingredients and flavors. The portion was so generous: I had enough for lunch on the next day. The restaurant really impressed me with the crabmeat in this dish: they used real lump crabmeat, and lots of it. This was well worth the price.

The naan was freshly toasted and buttery. The only drawback was that the peshwari naan didn’t have as much coconut and dried fruit as I expected. However, I like the more sparse fruit/coconut: it makes it a more suitable as a dipping bread for the main entree (I usually save my peshwari naan for dessert).

Anokha is located at 4015 Lauderdale Dr, on the opposite side of the street from Short Pump Mall. This gem is a hidden treasure: part of me wants to see them grow exponentially, and the selfish part of me wants to keep it all to myself!

food

My Favorite Products from Trader Joe’s

Hi friends! I’m doing this post because I love my Trader Joe’s (TJ) finds, and I wanted to quickly share some of my favorites with you!

Here are my top ten TJ items!

TJ’s Mushroom Medley

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Sauteed by themselves or added to a meat or veggie medley: these enhance the flavor of any dish. Try them with beef or beefless tips, add some red wine and well-cooked onions, and you have something very similar to a beef bourguignon (not exactly the same, but you get my drift).

TJ’s Vegetable Panang Curry

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A delicious microwaveable meal with great flavor. Bonus points: it has plenty of veggies, so no need to add a side dish!

TJ’s Paneer Tikka Masala

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Another quick, microwaveable dish that is flavorful. I especially like that the paneer isn’t too chewy nor does it get overcooked easily.

TJ’s Roasted Seaweed Snacks (wasabi-flavored)

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I’ll eat the salted version, but the wasabi is my favorite. So much yum, and a great value at $1 a pack (the packs are generously sized!)

TJ’s Crab Cakes

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I’m a Mid-Atlantic girl, so I don’t play with my crab cakes; fortunately, neither does TJ’s. The crab cakes are meaty, with very little breader, and the price is excellent.

TJ’s Tempura Shrimp

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Much like the crab cakes, the price of the tempura shrimp is great and they taste delicious. I pop them in my toaster oven and within 30 minutes I have crispy bits of heaven.

TJ’s Pecan Pralines

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So yummy on baked sweet potatoes, and sinfully delicious on their own. I grab a few of these when I’m craving a healthier alternative to candy (at least they have protein, right?)

TJ’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

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As a huge fan of the Everything bagel, I realize I can’t always have a bagel when I want it (nor do I always need so many calories). However, this is delightful on buttered slices of toast or any potato incarnation. Just sprinkle and enjoy!

TJ’s 21-Seasoning Salute

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Don’t know what to add to give your meats or veggies flavor? Just grab the 21 Seasoning Salute and you’re guaranteed a delicious outcome!

TJ’s Cookie Butter

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Eat it by the spoonful. No explanation needed: this already has a cult-like following, and for good reason. It’s shortbread cookies in spread form – so much yum.

 

What is your favorite TJ product? Let me know in the comments!

art

Perfect Art for a Butterfly

Happy Tuesday, loves! Over here on the Bronze Butterfly blog, it goes without saying that I identify with the butterfly, both the insect itself as well as the metamorphosis it undergoes in order to become a beautiful winged creature.

While looking at the Christie’s Paris Instagram account, I think I found a perfect piece to adorn my walls. It’s collectible, it’s antique, and it has butterflies!

The translation of the caption is, “The Dutch Golden Age (1587 – 1702)  was a period of economic prosperity and artistic “outpouring” [I think this means artistic expression] in the Netherlands. Pieter Withoos (1655-1692) was an illustrator that represented [drew/sketched/captured] nature, particularly for albums. Here, the painted uses charcoal, ink and watercolor to realize [recreate] these butterflies and insects that will be on sale on January 30, 2018 in New York.”

If you want to see more about this drawing/painting, you can view the lot here. This sale is accepting online bids, so if you want to gift this to your favorite Bronze Butterfly (hint, hint), you have until January 30th to make it happen LOL! While you’re viewing this lot, go ahead and check out a few of the other items being offered through this huge sale. For those interested in learning more about the Dutch Golden Age, I found a free online course on Open. edu. The course, titled “Dutch Painting of the Golden Age“, even offers a statement of participation when you complete it, as proof of your knowledge. It’s a great opportunity to learn something new!

 

food · international

Lunch at Absolute Noodle

As you all know, I love to get out during my lunch break and try new restaurants and international cuisine. Since I work in DC, the possibilities are endless, and I spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out where to go because, hey, a girl’s gotta eat well. Last week was no different, as I ventured out on the coldest day of the week to get some nibbles (that’s what happens when you forget to pack your lunch).

I wanted to get dim sum, but the restaurant was closed. So I went to my easy standby, Absolute Noodle on 5th Street NW. This tiny restaurant is easy to miss, since it’s small and unassuming. However, the location – roughly 3 blocks from Capital One Arena (formerly the Verizon Center) – makes it a perfect spot to grab a meal before a basketball game, or to fuel up before hitting the city for a night on the town.

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(courtesy of PopVille)

The menu is small but covers some great options: it’s a fusion of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai appetizers and entrees. I ordered one of my favorite options – yaki ramen – and an appetizer I’ve never tried before, crab and cheese croquettes.

 

I’ll start with the croquettes. These were perfectly fried: crisp without having too much breading. Kudos to the restaurant for using panko breading instead of using a wonton. Overall, these tasted alright, but I wasn’t in love with the texture, nor the fact that I tasted all cheese and very little seafood essence. I’m a born-and-bred Virginian, so my standards for seafood are pretty high. After all, crabs are a regular summer indulgence. So I was disappointed to see that no only did these have no discernable crab meat in them, but it’s likely that the “crab meat” used to flavor this was imitation crab meat (I could be wrong, but I doubt it).

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Imitation seafood products are accurately described by Anne Barone (in her book, Chic and Slim Encore) as, “what [she] would imagine ocean perch would taste like if it had been poached in a marinade of children’s cough syrup”. No, my croquettes didn’t taste quite like cough-syrup-infused perch. But it also didn’t taste remotely like any crab that I’ve eaten. So while this wasn’t gross, I wouldn’t try it again. The dipping sauce was good, though.

I can recommend the spring rolls here – very tasty and always cooked perfectly. Next time, I’ll stick to what I know!

For my entree, I almost always get the yaki ramen. However, I have a little “quirk”: I only get the yaki ramen when I do a takeout order (as I did on this occasion). You see, the yaki ramen is one of the non-soup (broth-free) noodle options. And I don’t like dry ramen, so I take this dish back to my office and add boiling hot water to it, let it sit for a moment (so that the flavor infuses into the water), then eat. The resulting broth is very flavorful (this restaurant doesn’t skimp on the seasoning) and I always end up having to eat the ramen in two sittings.

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Half of my order of yaki ramen with tofu, after I added some hot water to make a broth.

The ramen was delicious, as always. I love that it’s vegetarian and customizable.

So that’s my review of Absolute Noodle. It’s worth a visit, especially if you find yourself in Northwest DC, in the Chinatown/Capital One Arena area. Let me know what you think of it!

international · music

Currently Listening To . . .

A few weeks ago, I went to Charlotte, NC to visit one of my friends and to attend a kizomba weekender. You may have seen that in my post and wondered when the follow-up would be posted . . . Well, here you go.

I love kizomba and, while I’m a beginner, I really enjoyed learning the history and technical aspects of the dance. It’s sensual, elegant and so much fun. Not to mention, it made me very aware of some areas where my life could stand some improvement. More about that in another post. . .

So today, this is technically a “currently listening to AND watching” post. I found this kizomba tutorial and I’ve been using it to practice my moves. The position and fluidity of the female dancer’s body is what I’m watching closely: I want to make sure that I’m holding my body correctly while doing moves. I can already tell that I’m improving!

Are you all familiar with kizomba? Let me know in the comments below!

food · international

An Ethiopian Feast!

On Sunday, I was inspired to cook an Ethiopian-inspired meal. I’ve been slowly gathering my supplies: teff flour, cardamom and coriander, turmeric and lots of vegan butter and olive oil, etc.,. And this weekend felt like a good one for jumping into some authentic Ethiopian cooking.

I absolutely love Ethiopian food, and have been a big fan of the cuisine for quite a few years. The truth is, I could eat Ethiopian food every week. And that would be a fabulous option, except I actually enjoy cooking. Instead of spending money on lots of takeout, I chose to try my hand at authentic Ethiopian dishes: misr wat (red lentils), tikel gomen (only cabbage) and potatoes and carrots alicha, and injera.

Here’s the finished product:

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Don’t be deceived: it may not look appealing, but it was so delicious. Now, I’ve definitely tried preparing these dishes before (all except for the injera: this was my first time trying my hand at that). Many times I’ve attempted to prepare Ethiopian food but the seasoning was just OFF. What I eventually learned was that my berbere seasoning (a spice blend I purchased from Amazon) was way, way too hot. And I’m not heat-shy at all: I love spicy foods, and I couldn’t handle the overwhelming heat of Frontier Seasoning’s berbere. In all of my time eating Ethiopian food, I’d never had anything as spicy as the berbere mix that I was using. I had to find another way.

It was time to make my berbere from scratch. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that made all of the difference.

Everything was DELICIOUS. The berbere was perfectly balanced and not too spicy. And no, I didn’t write down what I did AT ALL. But, I’ll share the websites I used to make everything. I did a mashup of a couple of recipes, so nothing on my plate is 100% from any particular website.

Since I didn’t adhere to any singular recipe, I’ll put out all of my other disclaimers and advice, too:

  • I didn’t let the injera dough ferment for four days, as recommended. I had an alternate recipe that recommended that fermentation could occur in as little as one day, which was the case for me. The sour flavor wasn’t as strong as it would have been, had I let it sit longer. But I was still pleased with the outcome.
  • Fenugreek is a critical spice for the misr wat, and I didn’t have it. I found out later that it’s pretty hard to find in most grocery stores. But one website conveniently compared fenugreek to a mix of celery salt and maple syrup. So I threw in a little celery salt, and I was delighted with the result.
  • The misr wat looked nothing like what I was used to (when I purchase Ethiopian food), but I loved the flavor. I’ll tinker with some more recipes and post my results in the future.
  • I still have to perfect my injera technique, but I liked the overall result. I used teff flour only (no wheat or barley flour added), so that created the super-dark coloring. It was mildly sour and tasty, albeit a bit thicker than most restaurant-style injera.
  • The cabbage was done more like a stir-fry, since I didn’t want it cooked to mush. Since I cooked it a bit firm, it reheats wonderfully (it isn’t too mushy).
  • Save yourself some time and just cut up several onions and start sauteeing them initially. Then, just portion off the onions you need for each dish into a separate pot or pan, add some more butter (in my case, Earth Balance butter substitute) and olive oil, and resume cooking.

These are the websites I used for my recipes:

Caroline’s Cooking (Ethiopian Injera and Tikel Gomen)

Hapa Nom Nom (Misr Wat and Berbere Seasoning)

AllRecipes (Ethiopian Cabbage Dish)

How to Cook Great Ethiopian Food (I looked up a bunch of different recipes on this one)

Daring Gourmet (Injera recipe)

Have any of you tried cooking Ethiopian dishes? If so, let me know how that worked out for you, or if you have a favorite Ethiopian dish that you’ve perfected!