Nothing is better than:

 Coconut ice cream, bone in fillets at the Capital Grille, country ham cooked with my recipe, ambrosia, good raw oysters (preferably  Blue Points or Kumamotos), Pat's Philly Cheese Steaks, carbonara at "Abruzzi" behind the Franciscan conventual convent in Rome and next to the final resting place of so many Stuarts, Ben Benson's swordfish in New York, anything at the "Hitching Post" in Casmalia, California, chicken fried steak at "Bob and Edith's" on Columbia Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia.  (Leave your circulatory system at the door.) Do you want to live forever?  pl

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55 Responses to Nothing is better than:

  1. mike says:

    Hitching Post is great. It is too long since I have been there. And Virginia ham is the best. I hope your recipe does not stray too far from tradition.
    But cannot agree with on Blue Points. With all that sewage from New York and new Jersey, no way I would eat them at all, let alone raw. For great oysters try Goose Point from Willapa bay Washington next time you are on the west coast. Or closer to home for you, try the ones in Coastal Carolina. Not so big but savory and mouthwatering. We used to purchase them by the bushel basket right off the boat at Snead’s Ferry, NC. We ate them raw or sometimes roasted them under wet burlap on a steel plate and burner salvaged from a surplus military field stove. They have the best blue crab there also.
    And if you have not tasted Maine quahogs you have missed the treat of a lifetime. And not the little phony ones in the southern New England states that are only good for frying in batter. Get the true down-east quahogs baked, or steamed in wet seaweed, or stuffed Portuguese style, or quahog pie. Best I remember was served raw in a cup of hot milk and a dab of butter like grandma used to serve them when I was a tad.

  2. walrus says:

    Florentino Restaurant, Melbourne for anything. Becco Restaurant, Melbourne for roast Duck. Flowerdrum, Melbourne for chinese. Blue Moon Bar and Grill, Madison, Wisc. for hamburgers and beer. Saltwater restaurant for fish, Noosa Heads Queensland. Sushi at the Imperial hotel, Tokyo.
    My backyard for roast eye fillet and a Cabernet Sauvignon and salad.
    Have to go to lunch now, this is all making me hungry, and it’s a holiday here.

  3. Stephen Hicks says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Many of our fellow Vietnam Vets are suffering not just from the wounds of the enemy, but from habits given them by the military, or the American culture. I see awful examples with expats every day here in Thailand, and when at home in the Bay Area.
    Your post is somewhat equivalent to offering a drink to an alcoholic. As one of the sharpest pins in the cushion, you should be able to do better for those of us who are ill with vascular disease.
    On a personal note, walk away from each and every one of the foods you mention. Your history shows you have the strength and intelligence to do this. Don’t kid yourself – this is your latest war. We all wish you well, and a long life.

  4. Mark Gaughan says:

    As Homer Simpson would say, “mmmmmm, Coconut ice cream, bone in fillets at the Capital Grille, country ham cooked with your recipe, ambrosia, good raw oysters (preferably Blue Points or Kumamotos), Pat’s Philly Cheese Steaks, carbonara at “Abruzzi” behind the Franciscan conventual convent in Rome and next to the final resting place of so many Stuarts, Ben Benson’s swordfish in New York, anything at the “Hitching Post” in Casmalia, California, chicken fried steak at “Bob and Edith’s” on Columbia Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia.”
    No, I don’t want to live forever.

  5. SubKommander Dred says:

    For me, in Arlington, the late night after bar crawling hunger zombies at Marios on Wilson Boulevard is the place to be. I first chowed down on their flaming death back when it was selling for 25 cents a slice. Also, Nam Viet in Clarendon is pretty good too (growing up in Arlington, I got an early start on Vietnamese food). And Jammin Joe’s Barbecue down on 29 south towards Warrenton. All fine dining establishments, heartily recommended by SubKommander Dred…
    Pete Deer

  6. The Moar You Know says:

    “Do you want to live forever?”
    Yes, but that’s probably not going to happen.
    It is worthwhile for those of you who have a familial history of heart disease, or who are over 50, to have a coronary CAT scan done. This can tell you how much plaque is in your arteries, and that in turn will let you know if you need to go on the statin drugs, or worse yet (but a lot better than dying) have angioplasty and stents.
    I was sent for such a scan (I’m in my early forties) because of a familial history of heart disease and diabetes, an inverted cholesterol ratio (bad was what the good should be and vice versa) and some unexplained chest pains.
    The results were a wholly unexpected and total surprise; I’m in a group that comprises about 20% of the population that does not form arterial plaque. At all.
    So get the test. You might get lucky and find out that you can go on that bacon and ice-cream diet you always wanted to try. And you will certainly find out what will be needed to keep you alive and in good condition as long as God intends your stay on the planet to be. You may live for twenty years after having had a heart attack but you might not be doing a whole lot, and what fun would that be?
    The chest pains? A result of bad posture. Don’t sit hunched over.

  7. David says:

    Do I want to life forever ?
    No sir, but long enough to sample all the places you have mentioned and then some.

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    Ah, come on. We left out brothers face down in the rice forty years ago. pl

  9. McGee says:

    The Pleikartsfoersterhof just outside of Heidelberg for the best veal cordon bleu on the planet. And Bailo’s in Buffalo for roast beef on weck to die for….

  10. Mark Gaughan says:

    Has anyone ever gone to El Pollo Rico in Arlington? Their roast chicken is the best. It’s seasoned with Peruvian spices and just melts in your mouth. It’s on Wilson St. near GMU. The place is not fancy, they just have great chicken.

  11. Mark Gaughan says:

    Actually, El Pollo Rico is just off Wilson on Kenmore St.

  12. mo says:

    Considering the service you served your country, surely what your readers would really want to know is where the best falafel, shish taouk and shawarma can be found?

  13. Patrick Lang says:

    For shawarma I would vote for Cafeteria Reem at the 5th circle in Amman or Mata’am al-‘a’ilaat on the Via Dolorosa in al-Quds. We used to have great Shish Ta’uk and Shish Samak at Bacchus on Jefferson Place here in Washington but the place closed. The “special” hummus with little bits of grilled lamb was super there as well. Falafel I don’t like much. I seem to remember that there was a good Lebanese restaurant in London called “Sultani” or something like that. pl

  14. curious says:

    hmm, coconut ice cream.
    ok, if you ever feel channeling Marco Polo and traveling to philippine or indonesia, the local know a coconut subspecies call ‘kopyor’ (ina) or ‘macapuno’ (tgl.) This subspecies has minor genetic mutation that makes the endosperm meat deliciously soft, instead of rough as in regular coconut. (This is why only young coconut is directly edible/drinkable, btw. The mature one can’t be eaten directly. )
    Anyway, imagine an ice cream that the coconut is naturally chunky and soft like moist chocolate cake instead of grainy shaving but with complete coconut flavor. That would be their idea of good coconut ice cream. And because this minor mutation trait is not well understood (you can’t create new macapuno/kopyor coconut tree) supply is limited. (somebody do genetic scan already! this is worth it. forget the panda, bald eagle and polar bear)
    This will alter your understanding what coconut ice cream suppose to be. I tried this few years back. In term of ice cream ecstasy rating, I put it right up there next to when my friend introduced me to almond ice cream with sherry in hot Madrid night.

  15. Nicollo says:

    Have you eaten a Wellfleet lately?

  16. mo says:

    Ah well, a culinary tour of Lebanons finest next time you’re in Beirut, on me!

  17. Allen Thomson says:

    > country ham cooked with my recipe
    Share it? Please?

  18. ISL says:

    As long as one is aiming not to live forever, my favorite is a followup microbrew. I still recall Chermobyl Stout at the Tug Boat Brewing Company, Portland, which was 15%, but tasted alcohol free.

  19. Old Gun Pilot says:

    “…Do you want to live forever”. Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly was probably not worried about hardening of the arteries when he said that, but after the battle he couldn’t have had a better reward for his men than a rack of ribs and a pitcher of cold beer at the Rendezvous in Memphis.

  20. J says:

    Nobody’s talking about ‘Maine lobster’ or ‘Washington Smoked Salmon’. Tisk, tisk, sooo disappointing. 🙁
    Maine lobsters and Washington’s smoked salmon were always a treat bring them home from a hard day’s work.

  21. The three Lebanese Taverna ops in Arlington are not bad!
    Personally I like the Deli at Lee Highway and Lorcum Lane.

  22. greg0 says:

    Almost anything is wonderful if you’re really hungry.
    Morel mushrooms sauted in butter is a favorite. And it’s nearly that time of year for hunting them.

  23. The Moar You Know says:

    “Ah, come on. We left our brothers face down in the rice forty years ago. pl”
    Colonel: I know this. My father was one of the lucky ones who made it out with hide and hair intact. It’s my own selfishness that would like to keep those of you who are left around as long as possible. We still have a lot more to learn from those of you who made it through.

  24. Maureen Lang says:

    I know your memories must be as fond as mine of you, Dad, & I feasting on the wonderful steaks at The Hitching Post.
    A terrific fresh seafood place up in Cambria is The Sea Chest, where I recently celebrated wedding anniversary #35. Fresh Catch of the Day w/oyster appetizer was superb, plus a huge salad straight from the Cambria farmers’ market. Great meal, great value for money:

  25. lina says:

    Best coconut ice cream in DC: Thomas Sweet’s (P St. at Wisconsin in G-town).
    Best falafel in DC: Lebanese Taverna (Conn. Ave near Woodley Park)

  26. Patrick Lang says:

    It is posted on SST in December of ’05.

  27. Vicente says:

    Amen, sir. Bob & Edith’s (just a few blocks away from where I am in Douglas Park, Arlington) is a treasure, esp. in a metro area that is all but hunting down and eradicating real diners that stay open past 10 p.m.
    Several high end condos are going up around B&E. I hope the place survives the rising rent.
    And no, I don’t count The Diner on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Your restaurant is not a diner if it has a stainless steel track lighted sign out front. If you have to ask why, you won’t understand..

  28. Patrick Lang says:

    Loeb’s deli at 15th and I in the district is the only deli worthy of the name that i have found in the Washington area. pl

  29. Fred Strack says:

    These are all fine meals to end the day, but you forgot the most important one of all – breakfast. Now where’s the scrapple and eggs, potatoes fried with onion, hot dark coffee and sugar(hopefully you can find some actual Jamaican Blue Mountain), fresh toast and real Irish butter. My arteries are hardening already.

  30. R Whitman says:

    I am more of a fan of the Capital Grilles sliced fillet with mushrooms and onions, but leaving that aside you left out one of the nations great carnivorous treats–Texas beef barbeque.

  31. Phil Giraldi says:

    Best Vietnamese food in DC area is Saigon Cafe on Wilson Blvd in Falls Church near Seven Corners and Present on Arlington Blvd Falls Church, just down the road. The Four Sisters used to be the best but it has become too commercialized.

  32. Mark Logan says:

    Salmon is overrated. To represent the Pacific NW I nominate a Dungeness crab, cocktail sauce, and sourdough garlic bread, and an Anchor Steam.
    Also, the cioppino at Elliots Oyster Bar and Grill.

  33. Patrick Lang says:

    I have a long standing aversion to VN food. Almost anything else will do for me. I had a Cholon Chinese guard force once for my Hq. in a VN village. they were all guys who had been wounded out of the RVN army. They all loathed VN food. The 1st Cav Division had an LZ nearby and the mess sergeant out there would bring me truck loads of class A ration ingredients. The Army supply system pushed rations to the front continuously and with the troops out in the field a lot it would build up at the post. My Chinese took charge of that and would cook for themselves and my men. Many a good south Chinese meal I have had sitting on an upside down bucket with them sitting around me. pl

  34. Brian McNamara says:

    Saturday we bought a dozen Gold Creek oysters [Hood Canal] for $3.99 from Lam’s Market on King St. in Seattle, and washed them down at home with cold Chang beer on a perfect 60 degree day. Nothin’ better…

  35. Patrick Lang says:

    More –
    RT’s Restaurant on Mt Vernon Ave. in Arlandria for soft shell crabs, crab cakes and she crab soup.
    The Iron Gate on N St in DC for braised lamb shanks.

  36. Bobo says:

    Nothing is finer than a hot summer Sunday afternoon with the family at Woodman’s in Essex, Massachusetts devouring a gallon of Steamed Clams (little necks) topped off with a great Haddock dinner while swilling some Ipswich Ale. To my friend with the Quahog’s your palate is not yet refined till you try the above.

  37. Heather Carrington says:

    Almost every time I come home from school I stop at RT’s for their soup and I love your Virginia ham but lately I have been having a craving for Peking Duck from the Peking Gourmet Inn. I think it’s one of the best American Chinese restaurants I have eaten at.

  38. Jan Peter Fladeboe says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Actually, any breakfast at “Bob and Edith’s” in Arlington is great. What a place– you can have soldiers from Ft Meyer and Marines from Henderson Hall dining next to congressmen and businessmen. You are so right about leaving one’s circulatory system at the door. One can get a weekly chloresterol ration in one meal.

  39. different clue says:

    I am not so well traveled
    but I have a few restaurant memories which help, I hope.
    I sometimes visit/ stay with friends near Chicago. When my friend goes downtown
    to work, I go downtown to see a tiny bit of the city. I once went into a Mexican restaurant called Salvador’s. I liked everything I ordered, but I found the nacho chips most memorable. They were clearly oil-boiled right there and came out still burning hot and oil-film covered. The dipping sauce was a well designed and well balanced mix with some bitter cocoa powder, some cinammon, some visible minced cilantro leaves, some
    smoky flavored chili to make
    it warm but not hot. I would go back just for those.
    I was visiting with my brother once in southeastern Colorado. We had lunch at a restaurant in La Junta called the Hickory House. The menu described exactly what the different terms for how far to cook a steak meant so far as that restaurant was concerned. The menu then said: “we will cook it your way of course, but we really think it would taste best medium.” If they took beef seriously enough to explain all that on the menu, I decided to have it their way. Although I have had a few slightly better all-around beef experiences in restaurants, this particular beef had more actual taste and flavor than any other beef I have had in a restaurant. It went very well with the bowl of red beans in a thinly mud-colored bean broth (no chili) and the Texas toast which was like French toast but thicker and
    drier/firmer. It is on the main road a little way down from the Comanche Grassland ranger station and just across the road from a stockyard. I can’t find a postable menu, but here is sort-of a map.
    Years ago I went with a friend to south Florida. In Fort Lauderdale just across from the big road along the beach is a Howard Johnson’s hotel with a little restaurant in it. But it is not a Howard Johnson’s restaurant. I think it is a small Cuban-owned restaurant. I had hearts-of-palm salad, cuban rice and red beans, and grilled mahi-mahi (“dolphin”). It was all good and the fish was a 4″ x 5″ wide and nearly 1.75″ deep piece of fish very nicely grilled, with a layer
    of minced cilantro and other things with capers sauce on it. For dessert I had a frozen mango-cream “sherbet” packed back into the mango’s own scooped-out peel. It was one of the most perfectly balanced well made meals I have had in a restaurant.
    On Key Largo was/is the Mandalay Cafe. Everything I had was good and I especially remember the conch chowder..different vegetable chunks and tomato and chunks of conch meat all balanced, and with enough red pepper to warm without burning.
    I also have a cautionary tale. When I was a kid we lived in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our neighbor one day told us about a very good country restaurant in Townsend called the Kinzel House. We never went. I remembered it over the years
    and always meant to get there at least once some day. I recently went online to find the menu only to read about how “historic Kinzel House burns in Townsend”. The moral is…if you plan to go
    to a must-go-to restaurant sooner or later, it is better to go sooner than later. Because between the sooner and the later, it may all burn down.

  40. DaveGood says:

    fish and chips!
    Battered deep fried fresh cod and thick sliced Maris Piper Potatoes.
    Salt and pepper ( Fresh ground and black )… A good malt vinegar and a side order of garlic mayonnaise.

  41. DaveGood says:

    Oh, and you eat it in the street off paper, preferably in late autumn .

  42. Pat Lang,
    I can verify that your recipe makes a perfectly delicious country ham. We’re on our way to Rome and I’ll make it a point to try the carbonara at Abruzzi. All the comments on seafood sound wonderful and bring to mind the best seafood dinner I can recall. It was in a small restaurant on the shore of Loch Fyne. The salmon and oysters were the best ever.

  43. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant.

  44. JP says:

    A small bid for tiny calamari netted fresh just beyond the surf line at Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Lightly sauteed and served still sizzling with a backing of salsa crudo, and a Leon Negro beer. It’s been a while, so a time machine may be required. Look for a big Palapa with a sign that says, “ Playa“.

  45. rjj says:

    “Loch Fyne … oysters were the best ever.”
    They can’t possibly have been better than days-of-yore Baltimore oysters.

  46. rjj says:

    Which reminds me: nothing was better than a sampling tour of the old Lexington market.
    Not even Haussner’s.

  47. BillWade, Nh says:

    New Orleans, Commander’s Palace does it for me.
    Tooting my own horn here, you know you are doing something right when going out to eat often disappoints. I just love to cook: Thai, Cajun, Italian, whatever – we do eat well here!!

  48. Natalie says:

    The absolute best delis in my home town, Los Angeles, plus favorite orders-
    Canter’s on Fairfax (brisket with latkes)
    Nat ‘n Al’s on Beverly Drive (wild nova salmon in egg and onion breakfast scramble)
    Art’s Deli on Ventura Blvd. (Art’s veggy stew with chicken kreplach)

  49. optimax says:

    Tommaso’s at North Beach, S.F. Pizza with a perfect crust baked in oak-fired brick-ovens. Eggs Benedict at James John Cafe with Stumptown Coffee in Portland. OR.

  50. different clue says:

    There is a pair of people
    named Jane and Michael Stern
    who have made a paying career out of traveling all over America in search of unique and distinctive restaurants with excellent food. I listen to them on NPR’s “The Splendid Table” foodcast every Sunday. They reveal find after find after find. They have written at least one book about restaurants and their food which reads as tasty as
    these comments. If I had time in a strange city, I would consult their book or blogposts.
    Mark Logan, can we be sure that salmon is really overrated? Perhaps it depends on the kind of salmon…
    I sometimes buy Copper River sockeye salmon when it shows up here. Maybe I am just buying the hype, but I don’t think so. Firm dense flesh, deep orange-pink color, salmony salm salmon taste. Leaving a package of it way too long in the fridge by mistake showed me an interesting way to prepare it which is better than it sounds. Leave it in the fridge for a week or so, then open the package and very thoroughly wash all the slimy film off the surface. Then pat dry with paper towels and rub with olive oil. I heat some more olive oil in a saute’ pan till the oil bunches up and tries to flee the heat, but isn’t quite smoking yet. Then I lay the oil-rubbed salmon in the pan and pour in a few tablespoons worth of water and clamp down the lid and hold it down as tight as I can till the popping, pinging, and explosive bangs stop. Then I open the lid, turn the salmon over, put back the lid and give it a couple more minutes. It has a nutty cheesy taste over the basic salmon taste. Almost like a little salmon cheese on the salmon.

  51. different clue says:

    I don’t know if anyone is going to come back to this thread after all this time but earlier tonight I was at
    an educational foods-tasting event. One of the things they served tiny samples of was little slices
    of well aged and cured country ham from either Kentucky or Missouri. The ham tasted so good I forgot what the explainer said.
    And here is the interesting thing: the slices were “raw” if that word can be used for cured and aged country ham that hasn’t been cooked yet. The master speaker told us how it occurred to him that prosciutto di Parma is after
    all a sort of Italian country ham that is aged and cured and then sliced very thin and eaten “raw”. So why not do the same with American country ham? I thought it tasted very good.
    Maybe calling it prosciutto di Kentucky or prosciutto di Missouri would make the thought of it more thinkable?

  52. Patrick Lang says:

    I forgot “La Fiorentina” in Rome, a couple of blocks up hill and half a block off the Via Venito from the Excelsior Hotel. pl

  53. Patrick Lang,
    Madame and I are on our way to Rome (and Siena, Ferrara, Venizia, Bellagio,Annecy, Colmar, and Landshut) in a couple of days and, after investigating, I’m quite certain that the Abruzzi of the excellent carbonara is located on the Piazza S.S. Apostoli. We shall partake.

  54. There is a good restaurant in Ann Arbor called The Chop House which I was not going to mention because anyone visiting here will be told about it. But I just recently learned that the company which owns The Chop House and several other high-end restaurants here has just opened a sister restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland; also called The Chop House. If that is true, and if it is as good as The Chop House here, then it would be worth a visit at least.
    (I visit the Chop House here once a year on my birthday for the birthday half-price offer on all menu items except still-full-priced wines by the bottle or glass. Everything I have ever had there has been the best and most nearly perfect example of its type that I have had anywhere).

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