Greens of Plenty

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! First order of business, an apology. Turns blogging is like flossing – you really need to do it regularly to reap all the benefits. (Reminds me – I should really floss more). Anyway, it has been a while, but I’m so excited to be back! To ease myself in, this will be a non-traditional post. Don’t worry, I’m currently amassing a nice array of posts about actually dining out, but for now, I’m making a fuss about my new best friend: a weekly CSA!

My friend Michelle and I decided to go halfsies on a weekly CSA program from Smucker Farms of Lancaster County. The Smucker CSA is so fabulous because it brings together many different Amish and Mennonite farms working cooperatively. Although our CSA is only fruit and veggies, we can always pick up meats, cheeses, and other local items (like Gordy’s Pickles and chocolate chip cookies from Blind Dog Cafe) from their store on 14th street, which serves as the pickup spot. From now until November, we’ll pick up a box every Friday, and halve the bounty for the week! The price is right, as is the convenience factor (I love when other people shop for me!), but more than anything, we’re very excited about the thrill of new ingredients which we would never pick out ourselves. (I’m looking at you, bok choy!) So far we’ve been inundated with greens, but as the summer progresses, we’ll have a much bigger variety. So, without further ado, a week of CSA meals!

Obviously not too much effort went into this meal, but it was delicious all the same! Mixed green salad with radishes and scallions, with raisin challah toast!

Obviously not too much effort went into this meal, but it was delicious all the same! Mixed green salad with radishes and scallions, with raisin challah toast!

Absolutely gorgeous swiss chard (with stalk) sauteed with lots of garlic and scallions with  a simple olive oil and pecorino romano sauce over linguine.

Absolutely gorgeous swiss chard (with stalk) sauteed with lots of garlic and scallions with a simple olive oil and pecorino romano sauce over linguine.

Got over my fears of bok choy and sauteed it up with mushrooms, ginger and garlic in olive oil and butter. Add a roasted chicken thigh for some protein, and you've got a very comforting, filling meal!

Got over my fears of bok choy and sauteed it up with mushrooms, ginger and garlic in olive oil and butter. Add a roasted chicken thigh for some protein, and you’ve got the quintessential “comfort food” meal.

Finally, a luscious bibb lettuce salad with radishes, scallions, and roasted almonds, roasted asparagus, and topped with lemon juice, olive oil and a liberal dash of salt and pepper!

Finally, a luscious bibb lettuce salad with radishes, almonds, scallions, and roasted asparagus, and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and a liberal dash of salt and pepper!

I’ll be back soon with a post about dining out in DC! Now, go floss, everyone!

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A Tryst Treat

Image courtesy of Tryst DC Facebook

I spent a good chunk of my day yesterday curled up in a squishy, brocade armchair at Tryst, my neighborhood hipster watering hole. In honor of my lazy Sunday reading the City Paper and downing some figi green iced tea, I wanted to post about an experience I had at Tryst back in February.

Since November I had been in a nearly constant state of indigestion, and knowing my proclivity for food-related discomfort, I was ready to take my allergist’s advice, and attempt an elimination diet. Undertaking such a dietary regimen would allow me to isolate foods that were problematic for me. I based my elimination diet on this model, cutting out all wheat, dairy, and meat (except chicken), and a whole host of fruits and vegetables, including corn.

As you can imagine, eating became an extreme sport for me. I tried delicious new dishes (kale salads, coconut-date balls) at home, but dining out was almost impossible. During this time, I took a friend out to eat on her visit to DC. After making our rounds of the Mass Ave embassies, we wandered up to Adams Morgan for a bite at Tryst, the sister cafe to Open City. It happened to be Superbowl Sunday, and we were hoping to avoid the hype by hiding out in an uber-hipster café with Victorian couches and low, beat-up coffee tables. We were, thus, shocked to find that the one lone TV in the restaurant was actually playing the Superbowl. I had never even noticed they had a TV!

Tryst is actually a wonderful place to visit during an elimination diet because they have a special “build-your-own-salad” menu. Having been resigned to decidedly monotonous salads for the past 3 weeks, I was hopeful that the various toppings offered may add up to a more interesting dish than usual. In particular, I was interested in the chicken salad, but my server was unsure of whether it contained any ingredients excluded by the elimination diet. However, just as I was about to say, “Ok, I guess I’ll have the carrots,” she says, “let me go look it up,” and whisks away to grab the ultimate restaurant tool: The Ingredient Book.

I’ve come across this kind of resource rarely, but I assume that many restaurants have such a tool, whether or not they choose to share it with their customers. To my delight, the Tryst ingredient book had literally every ingredient, spice and herb that had gone into the dish, allowing me to make a completely informed and confident choice in what to order (chicken salad was a no-go, but the tuna salad was completely kosher..I mean—safe).

I wonder about the feasibility of this kind of tool for all restaurants. In general, I would assume that chefs who offer a relatively static menu might easily prepare such a document for general use, but may be hesitant to share their entire ingredient list with the world. In addition, a restaurant with an oft-changing menu may find the maintenance of such a document an unnecessary burden. From my standpoint, though…it was awesome–a fantastic resource for someone with any kind of dietary restriction.

Is an Ingredient Book a good idea for all restaurants? Would you feel safer about your food choices if you could study such a document? Have you ever tried an elimination diet to illuminate personal food issues?

Tryst                                                                                                                                      2459 18th Street NW Washington, DC 20009