• 28Apr

    From: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/going-out-guide/wp/2016/04/26/ottoman-taverna-is-a-native-sons-ode-to-turkish-cuisine/

    Ottoman Taverna: Wednesday May 4th, 6-8pm.

    This new Turkish restaurant (really it is Ottoman cuisine) will open 2 days before our Happy Hour (it’s already fully built and permitted). I is located at 425 I Street, NW, Suite #107, Washington, DC 20001, located between K & I on 4th Street), which is next to (the opposite corner of) Alba Osteria.

  • 23Apr

    Calling a restaurant a Bistro these days conjures up a certain image, a homely place, perhaps not quite of this time, with a bit of rustic charm and simplicity. That’s exactly the atmosphere you will find at River Bend Bistro, tucked away in Alexandria’s historic Hollin Hall Shopping Centre. The decor of the restaurant somehow manages to both clash and work at the same time featuring an extensive wine collection in wooden display cabinets, exposed brickwork, a wooden bar with wooden stools really captures a simple decor, and suits the vibe.

    The brainchild of Chef and Owner Caroline Ross, River Bend aims to provide, fresh and tasty local comfort food which she has handpicked over her nine years of gaining experience both locally and across the globe. Awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Ecole del Cuisine La Varenne, in Paris, France, the true French style subtle pulls together Chef Ross’ menu and helps add some European flair to this American-Style bistro.

    Her menu features Shrimp and Grits which is known as a traditional comfort food from the South. This is a combination of fresh shrimp and creamy grits provided by a local mill.

    For those enjoy a good Steak Tartar, Chef Ross features A French dish made with very finely minced raw  filet mignon and shoulder tenderloin beef seasoned with olive oil.

    The popular seasonal item for the winter menu successfully transitioned over to the spring with the Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Flatbread.  This is a classic pairing of salmon and goat cheese the River Bend captures perfectly.  Additionally the bread is made fresh in house.  This dish pairs beautifully with a Chardonnay.

    The Rainbow Trout with a Sage and Oyster Stuffing featured a classic herbed oyster stuffing which added depth, moisture and flavor rather than overpower with a fishy salty taste that someone may expect. The Rainbow trout was quite delicate and the stuffing lifted the overall taste of the dish.

    The Grilled Shoulder Tenderloin of Beef with an Arugula Salad and Herb Vinaigrette is a fantastic dish.  The beef shoulder tenderloin is one of the most tender cuts of beef and Chef Ross made sure to prepare it at a perfect medium rare.  The accompanying sharp peppery taste of arugula works much in the way as would a traditional salad, but with the crunch of salad and herbs.

    Chef Ross featured her famous and traditional Southern dessert a Chocolate Cherry Chess Pie which varied from the traditional single crust pastry with the addition of cornmeal.  In Chef Ross variation the fillings of black cherry are soaked in port which will leave you very satisfied and wanting more.

    -EWL

    River Bend Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 18Apr

    Mezcal: it’s not your frat-boy tequila. Ancient, yet new on the American bar scene, it’s tequila’s stylish post-hipster, more adult cousin. Mezcal’s not sloshing about in shot glasses hidden behind a curtain of overpowering lime, but proudly shining, served neat (see: fine scotch) to showcase a depth and range of flavor unencountered in other agave-based spirits.

    As we know, mezcal and tequila are made from agave, a wide-ranging succulent in Mexico. The major difference between the two is the production method. The piña, or heart of the agave plant, is removed. It’s then roasted, slowly, underground. It’s buried in the earth, covered by hot stones – creating the signature smokiness. The resultant mash gets a special treatment; it is crushed by a stone pulled by a donkey. Then comes the distillation. Tequila, meanwhile, is baked, or more often, industrially processed, leaving in astringent flavors. Finally, mezcals traditionally comes from Oaxaca, where the agave plant is most common. However, like with fine wines (and Scotch), the terroir truly comes out in mezcals. The highly specific local soil imbues the plant with unique flavors, which is why mezcals are really a small-batch liquor.


    This is true for El Silencio, carried at just a few select restaurants and bars across the country, including the one at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. El Silencio is an artisanal mezcal, produced in San Baltazar Guelavila, Oaxaca. The family-run business is now nine generations strong. According to the website, El Silencio uses only “carefully selected 10-12 year old agaves… and the production does not involve any additives or industrial processes.”

    At the bar, master mixologist Torrence T. Swain poured us El Silencio’s two options: Joven and Espadín. Joven is an “ensamble” mezcal, a blend of three different agave plants: espadin, Mexicano, and tobasiche. This double-distilled blend is quite smooth, very different from what might be first expected. The nose is full of floral and vegetal notes, like jasmine and cucumber. The flavor is full of tea and lemon, and ends with a light, white pepper finish in the back of the throat. Joven is something of a welcome mat for mezcal, not too forceful, turning the page on mezcal drinking to provide context that it can be complex and intricate. It’s a perfect mezcal for sipping on a veranda, shaded from a hot tropical sun after a day in the agave fields.
    Espadín, as might be expected, is 100% espadín agave. It’s even smaller batch than Joven, from highly specific agave plants. “It’s ready to do the heavy lifting in a cocktail.” Strong and bold, it’s quite assertive on the palate with a significant bite. The nose is strongly vegetal, and flavor notes feature leather and earth, with a black pepper finish. It’s a more concentrated flavor, better for a mixologist to play with.

    And thus our mixologist tour guide took us down cocktail lane. We landed at the Conejo Loco (“crazy rabbit”), so named because of the mezcal spirit’s origin story related to a rabbit goddess. The mezcal, already a bit smoky, receives a shock of spice, infused with Fresno pepper. An addition of pomegranate juice adds sweetness, a squeeze of lime for citrus, and most spectacularly, it’s served with a sprig of rosemary, which adds an aromatic herbal element. Certainly a great way to use this spirit.

    Finally, we got a sneak peak of Ocho Cientos Blanco Sotol, also from Mexico. However, instead of agave, it’s handcrafted from the Sotol plant, also called desert spoon in English. It’s native to Chihuahua in the far north of Mexico and tastes nothing like tequila or mezcal. Incredibly smooth, intense, earthy, and herby. Salud!

    – ESC

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  • 11Apr

    Pennsylvania 6 was the venue for the April DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. Above are the appetizers we sampled. Every one of them was delicious.

    Save the date: The next DCFBHH will be May 4th, although the venue has not been announced yet.

    Another save the date: DC’s Lamb Jam will be May 15th and I will be one of the judges. Run and get tickets if you love eating lamb!

    -JAY

    Pennsylvania 6 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 08Apr

    What better time than during the DMV’s most famous season – cherry blossoms! – than to celebrate the Best of the District of Columbia? Washington City Paper took over the cavernous DC Armory in Southeast to fete the 2016 winners, announced to the public during the event. WCP is decidedly nonpartisan, making sure everyone gets a voice in the system. Plus, proceeds from the event went to two great charities: Brainfood and World Beats & Life.

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Voting winners were divided between Staff Picks and the Reader Poll. Readers were able to choose faves in standard categories like Best Brewery (Right Proper), Sports Bar (Nellie’s), Movie Theater (E Street), and Lifestyle Blog (Popville), as well as some unique options: Tea Shop (Calabash Tea & Tonic), Local Instagram (Taylor Gourmet), and Place to Take a Tinder Date (McClellan’s Retreat). The Staff Picks are more eclectic: Best Bar and Restaurant for Punk-Rock Parents (Slash Run); Best Old Reliable Gay Bar (Number Nine), Best New (Old) Museum (National Museum of Women in the Arts), and Best Place to Catch a Glimpse of FLOTUS (SoulCycle).

    At a cocktail-attire party, it’s tough to get on a bike, but there was certainly plenty of food and drink to be had to help celebrate. In homage to what has been the opposite of a media darling of late, the DC Metro, each grouping of restaurants was set up around Metro station signs (“let’s go to Ballston!” was probably something said for the very first time by many partygoers).

    Tons of Tunes were enjoyed all evening long

    Tons of tasteful tunes were enjoyed all evening long.

    Mixologists played with lots of whiskeys, coming off winter, but also plenty of gin, hopeful for spring soon. And as would be appropriate, restaurants made efforts to source specifically from DC breweries and distilleries. Highlights included a tropical rum negroni from Don Ciccio & Figli, The Royal’s fruity sling using Catoctin Creek liquor, and a wistful whiskey cocktail by The Gibson called Memories. Waking up the palate was the thoughtful Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen, serving Bloody Marys overstuffed with pickled veggies as well as to mini-bagels topped with caviar and crème fraiche.

    On the main stage, The Dupont Brass Band gave the crowd some serious funk. Later in the evening, Batala Washington broke it down on drums, celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture, playing sensual samba and reggae music on a chilly early-April evening. Other entertainment came in the form of cornhole and life-sized Jenga courtesy of United Social Sports, making sure that the crowd stayed lively and athletic while throwing back craft cocktails and finely plated small bites.

    Dessert came in the form of heavenly doughnuts, cookies, and Harper Macaw’s sea-salt-and-coconut chocolate bark – but also another kind of bark: Wagtime enthralled the crowd with an absolutely adorable doggie playspace. Never has celebrated all the greatest in DC ever been so “ruff.”

    -ESC

  • 05Apr

    Wildfire has a gluten free dinner scheduled for Wednesday April 13th. You can view the menu for the event here. Gluten free dishes will be paired with Omission Pale Ale and Lager, Bard’s Gold, and Angry Orchard “Crisp Apple” img_20160403_133556827_hdrHard Cider. With the gluten free dinner quickly approaching, I decided to take a gluten free diner (let’s call her “GFJ”) to Wildfire to try their gluten free brunch. GFJ is very into the GF food and product scene.

    We ordered the gluten free Banana Chocolate Pancakes, Chicken Moreno with Artichokes, a Bard’s Gold (gluten free beer), and a side of green beans. We were served gluten free bread. GFJ said that the pancakes, chicken, and bread all “passed the test.” She would have liked to try more than one gluten free beer (but the two Omissions from the upcoming dinner weren’t available to us). It is nice that I – someone who doesn’t require a special diet – could eat gluten free and not miss the gluten. It’s a shame we aren’t available for the gluten free dinner, because Wildfire knows how to handle gluten free dishes.

    -JAY

    Wildfire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 28Mar

    pennsylvania 6April’s HH will be at Pennsylvania 6, a relatively new (less than a year) restaurant specializing in seafood and cocktails. JAY of dcfud.com is this month’s host.

    We’ve written about Penn 6 here: http://www.dcfud.com/2015/12/21/pennsylvania-6-is-a-great-seafood-lunch-destination/ and http://www.dcfud.com/2015/12/02/lady-in-red-a-rendezvous-with-pennsylvania-6/.

    Please RSVP here and keep your RSVPs updated so we can give the restaurant a good count. It’s the “yes’s” that get counted. Thanks!

    -JAY

  • 27Mar

    The best friends are the one who act with intentionality.  In a world where we “like” many things and have endless Facebook friends and Twitter followers, what portion of those folks could you wake up in the middle of the night to help you scoop water from your basement after a pipe burst?   In the New Testament, there’s a story well where a disabled man is lowered through the roof of a house where Jesus is preaching and Jesus heals him.  This divine miracle is fascinating and powerful, but this Sunday in church we explored the life changing dedication of the friends of this disabled man and their determination to do what it took to help their friend in need.  I’m not sure how hot it was that day in Capernaum, but I know how hard it is to fight through a July 4th crowd to find a place to watch fireworks.  I cannot imagine beating those kinds of crowds while carrying a person in a stretcher only to realize that the only way in is to tear up a stranger’s roof and lower the person through the ceiling.  I’m inspired by this story to invest in friends who will put me before themselves and celebrate my victories as their own.  The best way to find these type of friends, of course, is to be this type of friend to others.

    In the food world, we are lucky to have a world renowned chef who has this type of intentionality to educate our city about the multifaceted culture of Latin food.  There is no breadoildoubt that Jose Andreas has built an empire for himself, but I truly believe this is a by-product of his dedication to help us understand the beautiful differences between Mexican, Peruvian, Spanish and other Latin foods that, prior to Andre, mainly came to the US as an indistinguishable smorgasbord of TexMex chain restaurants.  Outside of running his plethora of restaurants, Mr. Andreas spends a considerable about of effort holding food tours and special events to help us learn more about the delicious culinary landscape of his heritage.  I was excited this soupSunday to indulge in one of his events called Paella Sunday at Jaleo in Crystal City.

    Jaleo is Jose Andrea’s blackboard to Spain’s tapas and paella culture.  Tapas are small plates of food,  ideal for those who can never decide what they want for dinner; paella is Spain’s quintessential dish of rice cooked in the savory broth of a stew until it plumps up and takes on the rich flavor of the ingredients swimming alongside it in the broth. Paella is to Spain as risotto is to Italy or as biryani is to Indian cuisine.  Every Sunday at the Crystal City Jaleo, Jose holds an all-you-can-eat paella feast for $25 – an unheard of price in DC for a 5-7 course meals at an award-winning restaurant.  On these Sundays you clearly see Mr. Andreas’ focus is not making money, but rather his dedication to give you the chance to swim through plates of paella flavors you may not have tried when it cost $40-50 for a single plate.  After courses of bread accompanied by aromatic rosemary and garlic oil, a small but crisp and fresh lemon caper salad, and a beet gazpacho (cold soup) that could be the star of any meal itself, you arrive at the opportunity to dive into seafood, chicken and mushroom, AND vegetable paellas.  I emphasize the word “and” here, because the staff do not wince at a half-eaten plate of paella as you ask for the next flavor.  Instead they seem delighted in my fascination to explore multiple types of this famous rice dish.

    Of course I started with the seafood version, which came with the plumpest mussels you can find around town.  Each plate of paella is served with a generous smear of garlic aioli (garlic flavored house made mayonnaise) that elevated each bite of paella.  One small very minor warning…the seafood paella is the most popular flavor, which means that even though the paellas are made to order in repetitive four person servings instead of a large oversized vats (where the rise could become overcooked and soggy), the sheer number of seafood paella orders lead to a few minor flaws, such as slightly undercooked rice and dryness.  However, these are so slight and only noticeable since I then had two more plates to compare
    to.seachickveggie

    Next came the chicken and mushroom paella.  This version is perfect if you’re looking for a meat and rice dish with worlds of savory goodness but seafood is not your thing.  Being second in the string of popularity at this paella event, I found the chicken paella cooked more fully through with a bit more broth oozing from the rice – which in how I personally prefer paella.  I have had the paellas in Spain, and I fondly remember the creamy bold original version I found throughout the historic alleyways of Barcelona.  Yet still I found myself craving the salty sea flavors of my first paella dish, despite its errors: I’m a die-hard seafood fan.

    Last but certainly not least came the true gem of the day – Jaleo’s vegetable paella.  This is the genius of Jose Andreas.  Never in a million years would I have ordered the vegetable paella without this Paella Sunday platform.  Yet this version was the true winner of the day.  The broth soaked paella cooking style brought out the deep flavors of these vegetables in a way you’d never taste if a quick sauté.  Topped with a generous guard of pungent and colorful olives that provided pops of salty goodness, this paella invites true gluttony.  After 3 pre-course and two other plates of paella, I found myself not wanting to eat more even if I was dangerously full.  After a few additional bites past my limit, I asked to take the rest home, for which the Jaleo staff happily obliged.

    The final bar of this Spanish concert ended with a perfectly creamy full size Flan al Estila Tradicional de Mama Marisa con Espuma de Crème Catalana…essentially a lightly citrus flavored flan with a generous portion of whipped cream on the side.  Jaleo’s kitchen did not lose heart in this final round.  They brought their A-game all the way until the end. I pity those who may be too full from the mountains of paella to cherish every bite of this perfectly balanced dish.  I thought I would try to eat just half to save my waist line and yesterday’s workout….but unfortunately this was the best flan I have ever had, and there was none left to take home.

    flan

     – Guest blogger JJS

  • 22Mar

     

    March is in full bloom, even if those blossoms are not quite there yet. And though it was chilly early this week, the celebrations around DC’s perhaps most popular annual event are certainly heating up. They started with a floral bang on Monday evening, March 21, at Chaplin’s Restaurant. In a top-floor nook lit up by the brilliant setting sun, a well-dressed crowd gathered to nosh and cheers to the season.

    Japanese beer fave Kirin Ichiban was on hand to raise glasses (and elegant ceramic appetizer spoons) in honor of the soon-to-bloom cherry trees around the city. The intimate, exciting reception began with chopstick and fan door prizes, and a live DJ spun beats the entire evening. Pink-clad mixologist shaking things up in front of the blossoms

    Chaplin’s owner Ari Wilder gave us the low-down on the unique cocktails featuring Ichiban. The first was a classic known by many a college-age youngster: the sake bomb. This time, though, the sake was special: the heirloom Sakura Emaki Rose Sake. The second was titled “Bread & Soda,” perhaps an Irish nod as well. It started off with a Bulleit bourbon base, and then sweetened with an international maple-ginger syrup using an Ichiban reduction. The drink was topped off with a toothpick of ginger beer cake also using this beer reduction, as well as a splash of lemon and a touch of cardamom caramel. Finally, The Honzo’s Steel cocktail arrived in a hearty mug with a base of highly floral gin, sweetened with Ichiban orange blossom honey, and turned a gorgeous color of pink with Tozai sake, distilled from plums. Cheers! Ari and his brother have been in the cocktail business for close to two decades, dreaming up cocktails using a range of unique ingredients with interesting interplay on the nose and tongue.

    He also gave us some exciting scuttlebutt: he’ll be opening an all-day breakfast bar across the street, as well as a casual yakitori and karaoke bar on the penthouse level of the building that Chaplin’s currently occupies.

    To pair liquid festivity with the edible type, Chaplin’s offered small bite tastes. These ranged from crispy fried wontons to shrimp gyozu to salmon-seaweed salad and of course, that Ichiban beer bread.

    And so while those trees aren’t necessarily bright pink right now, Chaplin’s and Kirin Ichiban are making the cherry blossom party bloom.

    -ESC

    Chaplin Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 18Mar

    Dressed-down denim: In Canada it’s a tux, but in DC it’s squarely casual.

    Except for the Blue Jeans Ball, a fabulous gala benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank. For 13 years running, this event has brought together chefs, mixologists, food artisans, and culinary greats to treat denim-clad guests to delicious bites and drinks. In fact, since its founding, the event has raised $2.3 million, providing almost six million meals to those in need in the DC area. The shiny new Marriott Marquis on Massachusetts Avenue played host this year, welcoming hundreds to partake in an evening of fine food, excellent cocktails, live music, and plenty of cheer on a chilly night.

    The cheese stands alone

    More than 40 restaurants and food purveyors lined the room, plating up delicacies and specialties. One particular area stood out for its pork-heavy focus: Café Dupont with its microgreen salad on adorable micro-spoons topped with prosciutto and figs, Lavagna with its soul-warming house-made whole-wheat radiator Bolognese, and River Bend Bistro & Wine bar serving delicate pork rillettes perched atop shatteringly crunchy chips. MeatCrafters also got into the pig game, serving four types of salami (locally sourced, small-batch, natch) from pig-shaped cutting boards.

    Other highlights? The long line told the story at Sodexho’s station, where the talented chef held court, expertly slicing pistachio-and-herb-crusted lamb chop over chorizo potato confit. DGS gave us a brunch meal deconstructed: cherrywood smoked salmon tartar and a tiny dollop of everything-bagel aioli. Our final fave may have been from Tosca: finely sliced duck breast kissed with a heavenly foie mousse, a touch of sweet and earthy from an apple jam and sage leaves, and a mind-blowing marrow dust to top everything off. Vegetarians enjoyed a dreamy truffle-cauliflower velouté from Gravitas.

    Emcee Scott Thuman of ABC News held sway, leading things off with a jeans-clad bam. Joining him on stage were the event’s co-chairs: Chef Ruth Gresser of Pizzeria Paradiso, Chef Sherry Yard of City Perch Kitchen, Cheff Jeff Buben of Vidalia, and Christopher Neal of Bar Dupont. He also invited up every representative chef to a hearty applause for such a good cause. While a silent auction took place below, he was followed by a vivacious live auction with culinary dream prizes like home-cooking events from the co-chairs. Finally, thrilling musical acts took to the stage, including a swaying gospel choir.

    Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the cocktails. There was an entire corner dedicated to the craft, all focusing on brown liquors. Kapnos served up a refreshing whiskey punch touched up with cucumber water and The Pub and the People gave us a tropical whiskey-pineapple-lemon concoction; but we had second from Del Campo, giving us Bulleit bourbon with Peychaud’s bitters and a nice firm kick from rocoto chile syrup.

    The food, the drinks, the company: it most certainly goes to show that just because it’s in a ballroom doesn’t mean we all need to wear ball gowns.

    -ESC

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