As the most populous city in the world, Shanghai has been shaped by travelers and settlers from all over. This is particularly evident in the city's food, which has been influenced by the culinary styles from both the northern and southern regions of China, as well as dishes from throughout the entire continent of Asia. This cultural integration holds true at Shanghai Café, where the chefs use recipes the Hu family has spent the past half-century perfecting. These recipes follow various Shanghai cooking principles—for instance, the original flavors of meats and fish are allowed to shine through rather than being drowned out by heavy marinades or sauces that are too sweet or salty.
Though the recipes are traditional, they respect modern, healthful eating habits by incorporating natural broths and stocks and limiting the use of oil. Some of the restaurant's signature dishes include boiled dumplings, steamed pork buns, and dim sum—a Shanghai staple. In the spirit of Shanghai's pan-Asian tendencies, the menus also include Thai dishes, such as pad kee mao (drunken noodles), nigiri, sashimi, and maki.
Rockafellas eradicates hunger with exotic-yet-hearty sandwiches and classic pub-style eats in a lively, welcoming setting. After quieting belly rumblings with the restaurant's bevy of appetizers, diners can daintily slurp a soup du jour ($3.49 for a cup) or breadlessly feast upon entree-sized salads wearing chilled salmon ($9.99) or an array of zesty, confused taco accouterments ($7.99). The rollicking eatery specializes in signature burgers, with beef portions ranging from quaint quarter-pound ($6.39) to walloping whole-pound ($9.79) patties. Burgers arrive bedecked in festive disguises such as the Santa Fe, with its cloak of guacamole, bacon, and pepper-jack cheese concealing the fact that it's actually from Albuquerque, and the confoundingly chicken-less Cordon Bleu, with thinly sliced ham, mozzarella cheese, and dijon mustard. Turkey ($6.99), vegetarian ($7.99), and buffalo burgers ($8.99) are available for the beef-averse, as well as a suite of non-burger sandwiches and desserts.
On a hot summer day, the interior of Mr. Smoothie & Frozen Yogurt Bar looks a bit like paradise. Staff members man blenders whirring together non-fat yogurt and a choice of two fresh fruits into their signature smoothies, allowing customers to cool off with treats that are refreshing, healthy, and able to put out a very small fire. Everything made at Mr. Smoothie is customizable, and guests can opt to pare down the sweetness by only drinking freshly squeezed juice or creating fruity freezes from the same juices blended with chunks of real fruit. Eleven flavors of coffees are used to make frappes, with skinnier versions available for those desiring less calories and more protein. In fact, staff members can add a range of supplements and boosts to any smoothie or drink, adding ingredients that build muscle or nutrients that aim to improve hangovers.
There's something special about the ground at Good Life Farm. The fields—though now carpeted with veggies—were once home to an abundance of chestnut trees. Each autumn, the nuts would fall from the trees, decompose, and infuse the ground with carbon, nitrogen, and other minerals. While the mighty chestnuts died off in the 20th century, they left behind a powerful legacy: rich, potent soil.
Farmer Larry, the man behind Good Life Farm, uses this foundation to grow a changing bounty of fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers. Larry plants favorites such as tomatoes and sweet corn, and he also scours over seed catalogs to find new things to grow. Farmer Larry's passion stems from a belief that locally grown food is healthier and better for the environment, humans, and the pack mules that transport us everywhere. To that end, Good Life practices community supported agriculture. Community members pledge financial support to the farm in exchange for a share of the weekly harvest. This system keeps members supplied with fresh, healthy foods, and it helps Good Life compete with nonlocal growers and people with high-tech food replicators.
Farmer Larry also works with the Montgomery County Food Council, which supports the creation of a sustainable local food system, and the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, which educates community members on local agriculture. Good Life Farm does its share to enlighten locals with tours, which teach about crops and farm animals.
Vibrant murals and golden accents ornament the modern interior of Tandoori Nights, where chefs craft palate-pleasing Indian dishes. Tandoori specialties emerge piping hot and ready for stop-motion-animation performances from a clay oven, where boneless chicken breast swathed in yogurt, cream cheese, ginger, and garlic transforms into the malai kebab. Curry sauce flavors goat, chicken, and a school of Bombay-style fish and shrimp, and samosas lock flavorful bites inside pastry shells. Fluffy rounds of garlic-and-butter-topped naan swoop in to sop up leftover sauces or happy tears spilled by piles of biryani after they finally comprehend their own deliciousness.
For many children, an ice-cream cake was the only thing that could make up for not receiving a much-coveted grappling hook. Relive the triumphs and tribulations of celebrations past with today's Groupon: $12 gets you a large and luscious football-shaped ice-cream cake from Carvel in Muddy Branch Square, a $24 value. Layered with vanilla and chocolate ice cream and chocolate crunchies, this festive, sporty sweet feeds 8 to 12 hungry fans. Get up to two football cakes per visit until your Groupon expires on Super Bowl Sunday (February 7, 2010).