NOTE: Another replay. We returned to Matchbox on Wednesday before getting our very-delayed flight home that night. It was as good as I remembered it.
I’m always leery of the words “artisan” and “vintage,” usually because it means an upsell and a whole bunch of attitude. My boss and I had a couple of hours to kill before our shuttle to the airport. A quick review of the restaurant list from the concierge brought the idea of pizza, which led us to the nearby Matchbox.
The company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. What began at the H Street NW location is now a group of six restaurants spread throughout the National Capital Area (and Palm Springs, Calif.), with the promise of three new outlets within the year. The locations are as eclectic as the menu — the Chinatown storefront stretches over four levels and the Capitol Hill location is a former vending machine warehouse. The owners promise a different menu and vibe at each location. And, really, how can you turn away from a restaurant with a style guide on its website? Continue reading Matchbox, Washington, D.C.→
Last Thursday was going to be a long day on both ends of the schedule around here. I was spending the day on the road with my boss. The Wife had parent-teacher conferences in the evening, which meant I would be on bedtime duty (Note: My role in bedtime is largely ceremonial, like the guards at Buckingham Palace. The Wife is more like Scotland Yard, doing the heavy lifting. Actually, this analogy could be applied to most of the parenting in this house.). Luckily, bedtime goes smoothly. Well, at the very least, it goes smoother than most other activities with our two and a half year old. Potty training, for instance.
Entertaining a group is a challenge, in a good way. Entertaining a group that has children involved is just a challenge.
I use the opportunity of having friends over for dinner to try something new. Try something new, pull out some stops, and leave ’em wanting more, right? The problem is that one can’t get particularly crazy when kids are involved. You still have to stay pretty vanilla to keep their attention.
Saturday night brought friends to the house, including two single-digit aged boys. Now, since The Kid exists solely on breakfast food, I don’t worry too much about her. Our friends’ sons are less picky about the food they eat, but I did not want to do anything to scare them away from the table.
Autumn brings the clarion call for comfort food. A stew sounded good, but I wanted something more. The best chicken and biscuits I’ve ever had is served on a regular basis at Jake Hafner’s in North Syracuse. I figured the chicken stew would be easy and that I would just pick up some biscuits during Saturday’s trip to the farmer’s market.
Truth be told, I don’t remember where I got this recipe. I come up with very few original dishes. If there is something in particular I want to eat (chicken cacciatore, for instance), I will skim the interwebs for ideas and come up with my own take on it. Most of the time, it works. Every so often, it fails miserably. In the case of tonight’s dinner, I have no clue. I remember making this dish in the past, but I don’t remember its origin or my first attempt.
What I do know is that a) I really like this dinner, but b) I don’t make it all that often because c) the goat cheese is really fattening. This last point saddens me because I love goat cheese; a fact for which I’m pretty sure I can blame my friend Allison (she of the tattered Silver Palate cookbook and dislike for Washington, D.C.). She inevitably cooks something with goat cheese when we get together and I, inevitably, make a complete pig of myself eating every last crumble. It is not much different when goat cheese is on the menu at home. Tonight, I dumped the cheese in the pasta bowl, tossed it with the rest of the ingredients, and then used a spoon to scrape out the remaining bits of cheese from the dish it was on.
The cool part about this dish is how the flavors come together. The salty, rich goat cheese, blends nicely with that earthly flavor from the mushrooms, which complements the sweetness of the sauteed onions. All of this, plus the chicken and pasta (Side note: Bon Appetit has a great article this month on preparing pasta. It’s a little highbrow, but one of the major points is that you can never oversalt your pasta water. “The noodles absorb water as they cook, so you’re actually seasoning the interior of an otherwise bland starch. Mark Ladner, executive chef at Del Posto in New York City, says the water should taste ‘almost as salty as seawater.'” And never, ever add oil to the pasta water. I don’t care what Giada says. All the oil does is make for greasy pasta that doesn’t cook correctly. If you can’t afford a $5 wooden spoon to keep the pasta from sticking, just go to The Olive Garden and get it over with.) make for a wildly flavorful dish. Recipe after the jumpContinue reading Tuesday dinner: Pasta with mushrooms, onions and goat cheese→