Month: November 2012

Happy Hour at Hank’s Oyster Bar

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that for 21 years of my life, I went despising oysters. Slimy, chewy and salty, the small and delicate mollusk just wasn’t my thing. However, one summer night at a luxurious Huang family dinner at Eataly, Rick Huang, Chelsea’s dad, changed my mind forever. With just a sprinkling of lemon juice and cocktail sauce, my pallet was overwhelmed with a pleasing and unexpected combination of flavors and textures that I had never experienced before. I began shooting oysters like I was a pro.

This newfound love has lead Chelsea and me to seek out DC’s best oyster happy hours, and needless to say, I think we have found it at Hank’s Oyster Bar in DuPont Circle. Offered Monday through Friday from 5- 7, the happy hour specials truly can’t be beat: $1 oysters, $4 bar snacks and discounted cocktails aim to please any hungry oyster-loving patron. Already well into the Thanksgiving mindset, we decided to go on Monday after class.

The Hank’s atmosphere is a welcoming one, with a narrow entranceway and bar leading to an intimate lounge that seats about 16. The dim lights and relaxing music set the mood for an aphrodisiac-filled dining experience. Chelsea and I went pretty hungry but left satisfied after ordering- and devouring- 2 dozen oysters, truffle popcorn, chips and pan roasted onion dip and a selection of three cheeses. We had two different types of oysters from Virginia, both uniquely savory and briny, naturally accompanied by lemon wedges, oyster crackers, homemade cocktail sauce and vinegar. The potato chips were visibly homemade, perfectly salted and crisp, without being too greasy, and the onion dip was sweet and rich. The truffle in the popcorn was more prevalent in scent than in taste, but was still delicious, and the selection of cheeses offered a wide variety of taste and texture. We also shared a beer flight complete with five different beers of what Hank’s considers to be more of their “hoppier beers,” and a wine flight of a Tinto, Malbec and Cabernet. I was quite pleased with the drink selections.

12 beautiful Virginia raised oysters

Truffle popcorn and chips and onion dip

Our beer flight: yet another example of why I dislike dim lighting in restaurants

I genuinely have no complaints about Hank’s Oyster Bar, and am already looking forward to returning for another happy hour. I have heard they have a phenomenal brunch, as well, so you can bet that I will be checking that out- once I’m back in DC and digested from Thanksgiving!

A Stick-to-Your-Ribs Meatless Monday

As an avid supporter of Meatless Monday (and recently almost every other day of the week), I am always looking for new vegetarian dishes to cook to keep my meals interesting. With the sudden decline in temperature here in DC, I decided it would be a perfect time to make two of my favorite winter dishes, chili and cornbread.

I love making chili because you can literally throw just about anything into it and it’ll taste good (re: pumpkin chili). I wanted a classic white bean recipe for the beginning of winter, though, so I consulted my favorite iPhone app, Epicurious. I have tweaked the recipe a little to account for spiciness and and flavor.

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup chili powder

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

3 cups vegetable broth

1 8-ounce can crushed tomatoes

3 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin and stir until well combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Mix in broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans to chili and simmer about 10 minutes longer, until flavors blend. Discard bay leaves. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, greek yogurt and chopped tomatoes or salsa (my three chili faves).

I’m literally obsessed with cornbread. This Bon Appetit- inspired recipe is a no-brainer.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbs baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

3/4 cup canned corn

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and egg in another medium bowl, then whisk in melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. Fold in corn and jalapenos. Divide batter equally among 12 greased muffin cups and bake for about 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and serve with chili.