• 21Jul

    Coffee. Whether it’s your go-go juice, your perfect beverage paired with morning zen time, or an emergency pit stop to survive those last hours at work … Hopscotch Coffee & Records in Winchester, VA has your bases covered. The menu skips past the specialty drinks (don’t worry, you won’t miss those mocha-frappa-double-shot-extra-whip-hint-of-bullshit-achinos) because the true, rich flavor of Hopscotch’s locally roasted beans are showcased throughout each latte, espresso, regular drip, and french press. Did I mention that the beans are roasted less than a mile from the shop? I’d say that’s as local as it gets. Nate Rhodes, the owner, has seven years of experience with coffee and really knows what he’s doing behind the counter. I give him mad props for not hiring a bunch of hipster wanna be teens attempting to make coffee with no experience dialing in espresso. He’s really involved in his business, and I highly appreciate that as a customer.

    As for my latte, there were no complaints. I tasted no acidity, and only bold, rich espresso with delicate steamed milk. The drink was not blistering hot, and not at all lukewarm. The kitschy atmosphere reminded me of an urban outfitters, but homier. There was pinball machine in the corner, and cases of records for sale. Modern art adorned the walls as well as a map you might find in a high school geography classroom. There were plenty of seating and power outlets for every occasion, whether it be a business meeting, date with friends, or a quiet study session. All in all, for a shop only opened for 3 years, I see it being as prosperous and delicious for many more years to come.

    -Jara (JMG), Guest Blogger

    Permalink Filed under: Drinks, Etc, Stores Tags: No Comments
  • 21Jul

    Everyone loves food. Everyone loves tacos. Everyone loves a good deal, and what’s better than buying two tacos and getting an additional for free? Few things come free in life, my friends, especially tacos, so when the opportunity comes, I say go and eat it.

    Such is the case at Fruitive, an all plant-based, organic-certified restaurant in City Center DC. I realize that the most popular type of tacos come with a meat base, but before you wipe Fruitive off of your radar because they don’t serve meat, believe me when I say Fruitive doesn’t sacrifice taste for health, just as they don’t sacrifice health for taste. You get the best of both worlds. Just peep the pictures and close-ups of the tacos I bought this Tuesday; I mean talk about total food envy!

    L to Rt: The Sesame Ginger, Tuscan, and the Southwest Tacos

    So, what exactly is this taco deal, and what exactly are your options? Every Tuesday, Fruitive holds a Taco Tuesday Special: buy any two tacos, you choose a third for free. Fruitive has three taco options: Sesame Ginger, Southwest, and Tuscan. You can mix and match, and try each one or, if you so desire, get three of the same flavor! I tried all three, but my personal favorite were the Tuscan tacos. The basil pesto “mayo” they put in them is an utter game changer, and the butternut squash totally tastes like mango. As surprising as that combination of flavors may be, it honestly works! The other two tacos were mighty fine, don’t get me wrong, but everyone has a personal favorite.

    So, if you’re someone who is a taco fanatic, someone who is looking for a new food joint, someone who is health-conscious, or someone who, like me, loves food with a great price tag, I encourage you to check out Fruitive’s tacos any Tuesday! The atmosphere is great, and the tacos are even better.

    I’ve included links to their website, official Instagram, as well as their main menu below, so click away, and I hope to see you there next Tuesday!

    -Mela (MEL), Guest Blogger

  • 17Jul

    Trappist Beer Travels is a new book for those who love Belgian Trappist Brews and are interested in the eleven Monasteries/Breweries that produce them. This is a great coffee table book for those who appreciate Belgian Trappist beers and their history. The book is well written and includes history, travel tips, information on the beers themselves, and beautiful photos.

    Included in this book are Orval, Achel, La Trappe, Rochefort, Chimay,  Westvleteren, Westmalle, Zundert, Stift Engelszell, Tre Fontane, and Spencer.

    Wait, Spencer? Yes, Spencer Brewery (Saint Joseph’s Abbey) in Spencer Massachusetts (6o miles from Boston) is even included. It is a shame the Abbey does not permit tours of the brewery or jam factory, but there is a gift shop, and you can join in mass services and walk the well-manicured paths. I actually didn’t know that we have a Trappist brewery here on the East Coast.

    Saint Bernardus Brewery has a bed and breakfast and is only a 25 minute drive from Westvleteren? That’s perfect for us beer nerds! The research trips “required” while writing this book must have been amazing!

    -JAY

  • 16Jul

    Oklahoma Joe’s at Dunn-Loring Metro is now District BBQ.

    We recently read Time Carman’s article entitled “District BBQ and three other runners-up for best barbecue in the D.C. area,” leading us to believe that more had changed at this establishment than just the restaurant’s name. We’ve been to Oklahoma Joe’s a few times, and after finding the pulled chicken and pork, and sliced brisket to be bland, mainly returned a few times for the baked beans, French fries, and chicken chili. We headed to the restaurant in question this weekend (hoping for improved BBQ), but when we arrived, they assured us the food had not changed at all. We were already there and hungry, so ordered the Grand Champion ($29.99), which includes sliced brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, pulled chicken (we substituted turkey) and three sides (not counting the bed of French fries the meat rests on).

    The Sides:

    Yes, we ordered two sides of beans, since it is something that is done well here. The chicken chili would have been a good option as well. Yes, we asked for extra pickles. The onion rings had a thick crunchy coating and were well-executed. No complaints about the fries either. We really wish they would add a vegetable side such as collards or some other kind of cooked greens to the menu. I realize that the closest Oklahoma Joe’s come to a vegetable is green beans in only one of its locations in OK, but now … the name has changed, so that excuse doesn’t hold. Green beans would suffice if they were fresh and prepared well.

    The BBQ:

    The pulled pork, turkey, and sliced brisket lack flavor, but are edible if you cover them in BBQ sauce (including their vinegar BBQ sauce). The ribs and burnt ends were enjoyable enough (because they already have BBQ sauce added).

    We wouldn’t travel out of our way to eat here, but it’s a decent option if you live or work nearby, are craving BBQ, and order well.

    Recommendations:

    • Burnt Ends
    • Ribs
    • Beans
    • French Fries
    • Onion Rings

    -JAY

     

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  • 08Jul

    DC recently welcomed the Pod Hotel to its Chinatown neighborhood. For those that aren’t familiar, the Pod offers small rooms with large amenities and a fun vibe. Founded in NYC, they are just starting to branch out. Having stayed at the original Manhattan location, I think the DC outpost stays on brand. While I didn’t see the rooms, the lobby, staff, and diner were exactly what I’d expect from a Pod.

    Hushpuppy

    So why was I at the Pod, if I didn’t see any of the rooms? To sample sips and tastes from Crimson Diner, one of the hotel’s three eateries. While the Pod opened in April, this was their official launch party. The atmosphere was energetic and you could tell that everyone was really excited about this project. The diner is an all-day sort of place with a focus on Southern favorites and boozy milkshakes, is on the main level, and has just opened. Crimson Whiskey Bar is beneath the diner, and opens in July. Crimson View, their rooftop bar, opens in August. While the menus will differ, all three seem like places that will attract visitors and residents alike. Backed by the Hilton brothers, it’d be hard to go wrong here.

    For drinks, we sampled the Crimson Old Fashioned and cava. The Old Fashioned was strong yet balanced, and my favorite. You’d be remiss not to order it. The cava was dry, bubbly, and perfect for summer. Samples of the Tennessee Transplant, a boozy milkshake, were passed. Concocted of vanilla ice cream, Jack Daniel’s, peanut butter, and cola syrup, it wasn’t overly sweet, and I’d consider ordering it. For a non-boozy milkshake, we had the Georgia Belle, which is vanilla ice cream, peaches, and hibiscus syrup, and it was basically dessert in drink form.

    Fried Chicken Sandwich

    Food definitely focused on Southern fare. We tried biscuits with ham and apple butter, crab hush puppies, and fried chicken sandwiches. The fried chicken was savory and crisp, and I’m hoping it’ll be an entrée on their full menu, in addition to the sandwich. I’ve never even considered ham and apple butter on a biscuit, and while slightly salty, I loved this combination and it was my favorite nosh of the evening. It was texturally interesting as well as being delicious. I thought the hush puppies lacked flavor, and while crispy, I’d not go for those again.

    The highlight of the evening had to be that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser stopped by to speak and cut the ribbon to officially launch the Pod. She was just as excited as everyone else, and her energy was really great.

    Crimson Diner seems to be just what is needed in Chinatown—casual, but not “fast casual,” with thought and creativity behind the food and drink. Keep Crimson in mind when in the neighborhood.

    -LEM

  • 24Jun

    The Tysons Private Event Group (TPEG) is an informal group of restaurants with private event spaces in the Tysons area. They meet quarterly, discuss a topic of mutual interest, and refer business to each other. Thursday evening, TPEG gathered a crowd at Convene to sample some of the great catering options Tysons has to offer. After trying the evening’s offerings, it is clear why so many DC area companies hold their events in Tysons. Above are some image highlights from an evening of great food.

    The restaurants which sampled offerings from their private events menus included:

    Convene
    Flemings
    Fogo de Chao
    Gordon Biersch
    Lebanese Taverna
    Maggianos
    Ruth’s Chris
    Seasons 52
    The Capital Grille
    Ten Pehn
    The Palm
    Wildfire



    -JAY

  • 12Jun

    Congrats to Federalist Pig on winning the DC Lamb Jam for Best in Show and People’s Choice! Kudos to the judges!

    This was a great year for the Lamb Jam with most dishes being stand outs. BBQ is apparently a GREAT theme for lamb! We are already looking forward to next years event!

    Now that I’ve tried the Urban Butcher ‘s lamb salami with coriander and orange, I need to make another trip to the restaurant (or farmer’s market) in Silver Spring. Meat Crafters’ Skinny Salamis (the lamb versions) were also delicious, and are available at the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market.

    -JAY

  • 11Jun

    Savor at the National Building Museum is a great showcase for high quality craft beers, with this year (the tenth annual) not being an exception. This year’s beer list included some exceptional choices and pairings. Virginia’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company created this year’s collaborative beer, Savor X, a parting gift for attendees. Red Apron‘s charcuterie, Choptank‘s oysters, and Wisconsin cheese were hits!

    This is a show DC craft beer lovers (including myself) look forward to every year, so keep an eye out for Savor 2018! Maybe they’ll bring salons (classes) back next year?

    -JAY

  • 09Jun

    Alatri Bros. in Bethesda may only be a few months old, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. This “neighborhood pizza joint,” as they refer to themselves, is well worth a stop. It’s fun and funky, with interesting décor and a great soundtrack, along with fantastic service and food.

    Verdura Pie

    Over the course of two visits, I tried cauliflower fritti, wings, buffalo-style Brussels sprouts, and two pizzas: the Tomato & Mozzarella Pie and the Verdura. The cauliflower fritti is perfectly fried and deliciously addictive with its feta and red pepper dipping sauce. Buffalo-style Brussels sprouts seems like something that could easily go awry, but here the sprouts are crisp and have right amount of buffalo sauce. This dish might even convert a Brussels sprouts hater into a lover. Wings definitely hit the spot if you are looking for that classic wings and pizza combo. The pizza is great. The crust has that rustic wood-oven char that adds flavor and depth to a pizza. The pizzas are not heavily-topped (not that the toppings are skimpy), but you don’t end up with a mess, and they reheat well the next day. It’s hard to say which pizza I prefer, as I loved both. If you are a traditionalist, stick with the Tomato & Mozzarella Pie. If you need your vegetable fix, go with the Verdura, which is all about the veggies.

    Their liquor, beer, and wine selection is small but well-curated; I haven’t had a cocktail, though there’s some choices that have piqued my interested. I have had the red sangria, and it’s a good (and strong!) choice. Alatri Bros. has a rather full happy hour menu and dining al fresco, and it shares its patio with sister restaurant Gringos and Mariachis.

    Alatri Bros. is on par with some of my favorite DC pizza places, and I look forward to returning. It is worth seeking out, and you won’t be disappointed.

    -LEM

  • 26May

    We very much enjoyed organic Pacari chocolate samples from Ecuador!

    We attended the Embassy Chef Challenge a couple of nights ago, and sampled some great food and drinks. This event was a chance to try food from countries and chefs we might not otherwise have access to. Some standout dishes (other than those pictured above) included Chile’s salmon, Uzbekistan’s plov, and Morocco’s lamb shoulder. This is definitely an event you want to attend in the future.

    The 2017 Judges’ Choice award went to Chef Moha Fedal of Morocco with his Marrakech Tangia. Chef Cynthia Verna of Haiti brought home the People’s Choice award with her shrimp ceviche with plantain chips (served with a much appreciated passion fruit rum concoction).

    -JAY

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