Last night I had a delicious dinner at Tallula in Arlington to taste exciting plates from new executive chef Barry Koslow’s menu. Koslow most recently served as executive chef of Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar in Georgetown, where his cuisine earned the restaurant a place in the Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants three years in a row. Tallula is a hidden gem! My favorites were the Spanish Octopus and Lentil Crusted Halibut.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
I just got a couple of new knives that I’m thoroughly enjoying. One is a Suisin Gyutou, which is a one-sided carbon steel chef’s knife, and the other is a Misono Hankotsu, which is a sturdy boning knife. These knives have a remarkable ability to take an edge. Happiness is a sharp knife.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
I’ll leave that one for the food critics to decide. I think chefs have considerable pressure to please a lot of different people; owners, customers, foodies, bloggers and critics. I think chefs need to have everything at their disposal regardless of whether it’s perceived as overused or trendy.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I would love to open a classic French bistro. Cooking simple rustic dishes like coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon and moules frites, but maybe with a slightly more modern and refined approach.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Lately we’ve been buying kid goats from Bev Eggleston and his Eco-Friendly foods. We’re braising it with tomato, garlic and cinnamon and serving it with gnocchi and a chiffonade of spinach. It’s a great product, mild but flavorful and pairs beautifully with the cinnamon.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
CELL PHONES. Looking out into the dining room and seeing people in the middle of dinner sending text messages, or looking at a table of 4 and seeing 4 phones sitting on the table. I witnessed a guy on a date with his phone on his lap hidden out of site, texting someone else the entire dinner. It just makes me sad from an anthropological standpoint.
Put down the phone and enjoy yourself.
What do you drink/eat after work?
I usually drink wine, beer, bourbon or Irish whiskey, sometimes in that order. After work is usually pretty late so if I’m eating it’s often Ben and Jerry’s Coffee HeathBar Crunch, man it’s good. My new thing is the Klondike Reese’s bar. In other words, I take fine care of myself.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Often my wife and I will make roasted chicken with a lot of different seasonal vegetables. We also like to stir fry because it’s fast and easy. In the summer, we love to fire up the grill and char a fat, bone-in ribeye. We also like to steam up a couple dozen blue crabs from the wharf.
Shrimp Stir Fry (serves 2)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1lb Shrimp peeled and deveined
1 cup broccoli florets (blanched in boiling water for 1 minute then shocked in ice water)
1/2 cup broccoli stems (peeled and sliced thin)
1/2 cup celery (peeled and cut on a bias)
1/2 cup onions (sliced thin)
1/2 cup red bell pepper (thinly sliced removing all white membrane)
1 hot chili pepper minced (optional)
2 gloves garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
4 each scallions (chopped)
1 tablespoon sambal garlic chili paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 lime (juiced)
1/2 bunch cilantro (chopped)
1 bunch Thai basil (chopped)
1. Season shrimp with salt and pepper
2. Heat canola oil in a wok on high heat until it’s smoking
3. Gently add shrimp to wok in a single layer. Sear both sides of shrimp 1 minute apiece.
(repeat if necessary to sear all shrimp)
4. Remove shrimp and place to the side, lower heat to medium
5. Add onions, bell pepper, celery, broccoli and hot pepper to wok, saute for 3 minutes
6. Add ginger, garlic and scallion to wok saute 1 minute
7. Return shrimp to wok and add chili paste, soy sauce, fish sauce,and lime juice, saute 2 minutes.
8. Add cilantro and Thai basil, saute 1 minute and remove from heat.
9. Season to taste, serve with steamed Jasmine rice.