• 21Jan

    The snowy January afternoon of January 17 was no match for the warmth exuded by Chefs Behind Bars, an event with a straightforward mission: help end childhood hunger. Guests gathered at Prequel, the restaurant incubator downtown, which hosted the event in its two-level, industrial-cool bar/lounge space.

    The conceit: unique and playful. Seven celebrated area chefs are taken out of their element (the kitchen) and sent to work with ingredients of the liquid kind – behind a bar, of course. Each crafts an original cocktail in attempt to beat out the other six, later crowned champion of this annual chef-cum-mixologist-for-a-day competition.

    The chefs featured: Matt Baker (Gravitas), Jen Carroll (Requin by Mike Isabella Group), James Martin (District Supper), John Critchley (Brine), Hamilton Johnson (Honeysuckle), Liam LaCivita (Bar Civita), and Yuki Nakandakari (Ocopa). To make sure everyone was well taken care of, servers kindly paraded the room with chicken biscuit sandwiches and bacon-jam crostini. The nibbles were courtesy of Prequel’s current popup, the Southern-inspired restaurant Honeysuckle.

    Given that each cocktail is so expertly, one might say painstakingly, put together, choosing a winner might be an unenviable task. Luckily, the judge’s panel was made up of DC food celebs, so your author was not included.

    When it comes to drinks, interactivity is key. The winner in that department: Brine, which managed to truck in an ice luge to channel for its super-cool gin-based drink. Imbibing like this is a slippery slope. The yin to this chilly yang was led by Jen Carroll, the lone female chef among this impressive cadre. She brought us wine cask-aged rum set off with passion fruit tea – and a cinnamon stick lit afire. And when there’s fire, there’s smoke, no? James Martin mixed mescal with herb ash foam to produce a frothy masterpiece, and Hamilton Johnson, whose food also graced the space, made a drink using Maker’s, blood orange liqueur, and smoked tobacco. Thankfully, no call to DCFD was necessary. There was also a ton of local love. Matt Baker partnered with brand-spanking-new local distiller One Eight Distilling, using its District Vodka over charred pineapple syrup and Thai basil essence. At the end of the event, the Judge’s Choice Award went to John Critchley, of aforementioned ice-luge fame. Not unlikely that this was the first time an alcoholic ice luge helped end childhood hunger.

    DC’s Taste of the Nation event hosted Chefs Behind Bars as a sneak peek for the huge charity Taste of the Nation 2016 event, to take place on April 4. All proceeds from the tickets support No Kid Hungry, which works to end childhood hunger by supplying healthy breakfasts and lunches.

    -ESC (Evan)

  • 14Jan

    Plenty of hot air can come out of this city – but now we’re getting some hot spirits, too. Over the past two years, DC’s seen several distilleries open, many clustered in the warehouse district of Ivy City. On Friday, January 8, One Eight Distilling celebrated its one-year anniversary with a huge party in its sprawling, industrial-chic space. Founded by two college buddies, Sandy Wood and Alex Laufer, One Eight came from years of discussion to become a purely DC-focused, homegrown distillery.

    The event, which attracted almost 400 guests, featured Untitled No. 6, a nine-year-old bourbon with a triple-cask finish: cognac, sherry, and muscat wines. The depth and touch of sweetness from the wines shine through the liquor, pairing nicely with its mild, lingering spice. Because One Eight’s proprietary aged liquors are not yet ready, it currently uses other whiskeys and creates unique, original finishes and experiments with new flavors, all part of the Untitled series.

    One Eight served three flavorful cocktails for the night, crafted by guest bartenders, for their three liquors: Red-Headed Stepchild with the vodka, Beats by Dre with the gin, and Take a Hike with the whiskey. DCFüd voted for the last one, made with a vanilla-rooibus reduction.

    For the food portion, the event featured pillowy spicy Thai meatball steamed buns from Ekiben, and pulled turkey and cheddar biscuit sandwiches from Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. Dessert was provided by Milk Cult, which used One Eight whiskey for its specialty frozen creation. Party goers noshed on cheese and crackers while dancing to the beats of DJ Neal Becton. He owns local music shop Som Records, and brought in real vinyls for the crowd’s pleasure.

    DCFüd sat down with Alex for a few light questions.

    DCFüd: How did you get your start?

    Alex: Sandy and I have been buddies since college. A few years ago, after many years of discussion, we realized where our mutual passions were, and set out to set up a DC-based distillery. We took a liking to the Ivy City area, and found a large former warehouse space to set up. There’s plenty of space here to hold events, but also importantly, to hold all of the casks to age our spirits.

    DCFüd: What makes One Eight distinct?

    Alex: Here, we focus on the grain to make our spirits. We use and are very proud of American rye. This rye goes into our vodka and our gin, which make them unique. Vodkas are usually grain-based spirits, but we fell in love with one Polish rye-based vodka, and have taken it from there – but the rye we use comes from right here in Maryland. Of course, we also have white whiskey, rye, and bourbon, the last made with American corn and aged in American oak barrels.

    DCFud: Tell us more about that rye-based gin.

    Alex: Our gin is really special. We take our vodka, which is already different because of its rye content, and then distill it with our signature botanical: the American spice bush. It actually grows wild all across the East Coast. We call it Ivy City gin, in fact, to highlight its local nature (the grains are locally sourced), and because we donate proceeds to Habitat for Humanity in support of projects in Ivy City.

    DCFüd: And the whiskey?

    Alex: the white, unaged whiskey is of higher proof than other whiskeys. It’s named for our local green space – Rock Creek Park – and pays homage to DC history and culture. It’s made from 100% Maryland and Virginia rye, and the malt comes from North Carolina.

    DCFüd: So we have the vodka, then gin, and the unaged whiskey. When do we get to try this magical rye?

    Alex: Ah yes, our rye is sitting in the barrels to age. The first rye will be ready this year: our two-year rye. Others, well, we’ll have to test when ready.

    DCFüd: We’ll certainly be back to try that!

    -ESC (Evan)

  • 07Dec

    Thanks Cuba Libre and their new Executive Chef Brad Smith, John Shields (and the signed cookbooks he gave as gifts), and the wonderful bloggers at DC Food Blogger Happy Hour for a wonderful happy hour. The food and drinks were excellent. I was impressed with the malanga chips, dips, shrimp ceviche, and baby octopus. I’ll definitely go back to try more items.

    “A native Washingtonian, Brad Smith graduated with distinction from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in 1995.” Chef Smith was formerly the Chef de Cuisine at The Cuba Libre Flagship in Philly.

    -JAY

    Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 04Dec
    sTONE tOWER 4

    Photo courtesy of Stone Tower Winery

    The weather on Black Friday was stellar this year in the DC Area! While many people were out seeking the best possible deals on holiday purchases, I elected to spend the day with a close group of friends in in one of Virginia’s recognized wine regions – Loudoun County. Our day culminated at Stone Tower Winery off Rte 15, just south of Leesburg. I had never heard of Stone Tower until that morning when we gathered to start our tour and it was announced that this would be our final stop. The unassuming approach down a gravel road opened up to a stunning gently rolling appellation landscape that would make any wine connoisseur swoon. Over 50 of their 207 acres is planted with vines surrounding the charming tasting and event facilities. The land slopes gently down to a beautiful and inviting pond and time on the stone patios and balconies allow you to soak up miles and miles of stunning Virginia mountain views.

    sTONE tOWER 3

    Photo courtesy of Stone Tower Winery

    Stone Tower is a destination winery created by the owners of Belfort Furniture in Sterling, Va. They have lived on a large farm on Hogback Mountain for many years. Being in love with this land, its rolling hillsides, pastoral beauty, and hidden treasures like the old stone walls in its forests led them to buy the neighboring farm with the intention of preserving its agricultural beauty and creating a quiet haven to grow old, surrounded by family and their favorite countryside. Looking out at the hills surrounding the pond the estate just seemed to look like a vineyard. That thought led to many years of extensive research with top-notch viticulturists, soil specialists and geologists which established that the land held the potential for producing top quality grapes. Several vintages of great wines have proved their somewhat whimsical notion to be a reality –it’s a fantastic site for growing premium grapes here in Loudoun County.

    They offer two tastings: Current Vintages, a flight of four wines ($10), or the Reserve Tasting, a flight of six ($15). I opted to take a tour through their current vintages. I was pleasantly surprised. The Wild Boar label was created for their wines they have been producing from grapes purchased in the Napa Valley while they wait for their vines to mature to production. The Current Vintages flight were all from the Wild Boar label. Here are my thoughts about these wines.

    2014 Wild Boar Sauvignon Blanc

    This crisp fresh wine opened up with a citrusy bouquet that had notes of lemon and grapefruit. The taste was balanced, clean, and fruity. I could imagine myself enjoying this with a wonderful salad of mixed greens, fresh herbs, goat cheese, nuts and dried cranberries.

    2013 Wild Boar Chardonnay

    The Chardonnay opened up with a bouquet that combined pear, melon and peach in its aromas. Medium-bodied, the feel was crisp, the taste fresh and clean. I was ready to grab a small wheel of brie, a bottle of this and head down to the pond and enjoy a nice pre-dinner appetizer.

    2013 Wild Boar Merlot

    The Merlot was a deep ruby red and opened up with a fruity and peppery bouquet that had a distinct note of fresh berries. A dry wine was a bit tannic, but mostly because of its young age. As this wine ages, I can see the tannins mellowing to create a softer earthier tone. This would be perfect with a nice Sunday pot roast dinner!

    2013 Wild Boar Sanglier Noble

    A blended wine of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, this full-bodied wine opened up with a nice aroma of ripe red fruit, black currant, and a hint of pepper. It’s approachable but will benefit greatly by further cellaring. I wanted to grab a few filet mignons, head to a grill, and sit down for a wonderful steak dinner to enjoy with this one.

    The weather this weekend is supposed to be beautiful again! If you are looking for something really nice to do, I highly recommend a trip out to Stone Tower Winery on Saturday (December 4th) for their annual Christmas Market and Open House from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Do a tasting and bring a picnic lunch along to enjoy with a bottle of one of their wines, and of course use the time to do some great holiday shopping.

    Stone Tower 1

    Photo courtesy of Stone Tower Winery

    There will be 28 artists and artisans selling pottery, jewelry, paintings, ornaments, turned wood, pewter, vintage linens, knitting, weaving, and more. Indulge in some hand-dipped chocolates, take home some fresh greens for decking your halls, and, of course, be sure to taste some of our locally grown and bottled wine. They’ve been decking the halls and polishing up the wine glasses to get ready. Hope you will make the trip – it’ll be a great way to spend your Saturday before the onslaught of holiday parties this year.
    For more information about their history, the wines, tours and tastings, please visit http://www.stonetowerwinery.com/.

    SAW (Steve)

    stone tower invite

  • 21Nov

    A nibble, a shop, a nosh, a chat: all in an afternoon’s work at last week’s Emporiyum at Dock 5 of Union Market. Dozens of vendors set up wares, foodstuffs, and crafts – whether craft beer, sweets, or greeting cards. It was a veritable foodie haven, touching on all the latest local and national food trends. If it wasn’t there, it’s not hot right now.

    Requisite Sides for the Pastrami from DGSTop takeaways? Kombucha won the popularity contest, sold at several spots; surely no one went home won’t a good dose of probiotic. Granola came in a close second, the earthy crunchy sweet stuff making into everyone’s hands. Long lines abounded, including for Bruner Yang’s uber-popular ramen from Maketto, which was paired with Gordy’s spicy and briny Bloodys, bringing people into the far reaches of the outdoor space. Meanwhile, a DJ spun high-energy tunes on the other end to keep shoppers energized as they tasted Sir Kensington’s low-cal ketchup, Bullfrog’s unbeatable bagels, and flavorful, pumped-up coffee brewed with macha from startup Javazen. The DC area is apparently also almost overflowing with new brewpubs and distilleries, which made for a slightly tipsy shopping experience. The pastrami, smooth as butter, from DGS, helped sop it up.

    Finally, there were a few vendors there making sure we did good while picking up holiday treats. Beyond all the local, organic, fair-trade options, there were places like Fruitcycle, which uses produce that would otherwise go to waste, and also empowers women by providing jobs to those who are homeless or were recently incarcerated. Plus, the kale chips, tossed in cayenne and garlic, truly kicked it out of the park – or Market.

    Guest Blogger, Evan (ESC)

  • 20Nov

    Cuba Libre logoThe December 2nd Happy hour will be from 6-8pm at Cuba Libre, which now has a new chef and updated menu.

    Check the Facebook event here for more details and to RSVP.

    John Shields, the owner and Exec Chef of Gertrude’s restaurant in Baltimore will be speaking. He will give away a signed copy of his newly re-released book, Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, 25th anniversary edition. He has a PBS TV Show (and book) called Coastal Cooking and is a specialist in local seafood. I wrote about him here recently.

    -JAY

     

    john shields

     

  • 24Oct
    IMG_4950

    Organizers Basking in the Glorious Oktoberfest Sun: Olivier le Ru (Brand Marketing Manager of Urban Adventures Companies – the parent company of Capitol City Brewing Co.), Kristi Griner (Brewmaster for Capitol City – she creates the recipes and oversees all the brewing at both the Arlington and Downtown locations), Matt Benkert (Food & Beverage director of Urban Adventures Companies), David Von Storch (founder and CEO of Urban Adventures Companies)

    Oh, Joaquin…your infamously anti-climatic status as a “hurricane” was admittedly cute while it was threatening our commutes, but you crossed the line when you were to blame for postponing Capital City Brewing Company’s 16th Annual Oktoberfest a week. In Ze Deutschland, there is no greater offense than a lack of punctuality, so God help the entity responsible for making Germans late to their own event. Thanks to Capital City Brewing Company, the greater DC area was able to partake in their annual Oktoberfest in sunshine almost as golden as the brews. Sip on that Joaquin…..

    IMG_4941

    The Chalice of the day: providing the progeny of local DMV brewers. Yummy.

    I began the day with a minor aneurysm, where to begin? The vendors stretched down Campbell street and the assault of smells beckoning in all directions was enough to conflict the most focused of individuals. So many proud brewers standing by their products, so many beers to be tasted and only so much sober time. If I learned anything from growing up in Germany, it is that mothers always know best. So I was directed first to Three Notch’d Brewing Company’s tent by a hero of a woman sporting an occupied baby bjorn, a husband in one arm and a beer in the other. I was assured of her status as an idol amongst women when her suggestion was validated by one sip of their Pale Ale, lovingly termed “The Ghost.” Whilst sipping on this lightly hoppy brew, Taylor from Three Notch’d explained their barrel aging program lead by head brewer Dave Warwick. In collaboration with local coffee distributors and the Breckenridge Distillery in Colorado, Dave’s most recent creation is a testament to his ability to craft perfectly balanced, aged beers.  While I wasn’t able to sample the rumored, coffee and oatmeal stout that is barrel aged to perfection, you can bet your first born I will soon enough.

    Keeping true to all things German, Patrick Mullane, Co-Founder of Hellbender Brewing Company, gave me some scientific and technical background to the brewing process behind one of DC’s newest brewing companies. Uniquely, they have the only mash filter in the east coast, making their use of a highly protected Belgium style system unique not only for the area, but for the coast as well. Sporting a filter straight from Belgium, the guys at Hellbender are capable of producing their brews using 30% less water, 20% less grain and 15% less power. Their status as DC’s fourth brewing company, at a whopping 11 months old, makes them an up and coming entity in the city, especially those more conscious purveyors. They pride themselves on their efficiency, and I can verify that the beer was that much sweeter knowing that it was mindfully crafted.  When asking Patrick about the catalyst to starting Hellbender, he explained that he and the head brewer Ben, a microbiologist by trade, recognized a gaping void in the DC beer market. Brewing was only allowed four short years ago and companies like DC Brau have bravely led the way, but Ben and Patrick at Hellbender have picked up the mantle and combining a mutual love for fine beer and backgrounds in science and business, they are aiming to bring a “DC made beer, to the people of DC.”

    IMG_5018

    The perfect man is one who continually fills your glass with beer.

    Maybe it was Derrick’s soft ginger beard, being over two hours into beer tasting, or the beautiful sun and the throngs of happy Oktoberfest-ers, but Old Ox Brewing Company was my personal favorite of the day. Somewhere between the Bourbon Barrel Black Ox Rye Porter and Derrick, the brand ambassador, there were nuances and innuendos flying left and right. The dark brew with hints of coffee and chocolate was beautifully balanced with the sweet oaken flavor of the six months it spent nestled in Old Ox’s twelve barrel casks. Bourbon was there, but no one had to say it or to quote
    Derrick, “Bourbon is on the party bus, but not driving it.” Sipping my favorite beer of the day, Derrick explained the incestuous nature of small brewing companies and how that works to cultivate some outrageous and unheard of beers. Old Ox prides themselves on their bizarre flavors and the environment they have cultivated to help people like me get their kooky ideas in a tap. They are a think tank for brewing, and work with other companies, but also offer natives the unique opportunity to contribute to what they call the “Beers I Would Like To Try (BIWLTT)” list. If the idea catches the eye of the owners at Old Ox, your brew could find itself in one of their taps. With such beers such as Kristin’s Temper (Jalepeno IPA named after one of the owner’s wives), the Ox-cercist (Halloween-ready Pumpkin porter sporting sweet potato more than pumpkin and hints of nutmeg) and their Whole Foods-endorsed Raspberry Basil Saison, I believe the banter between Derrick and I was only half as entertaining as the beers being made at Old Ox.IMG_4949

    Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company offered up two brews: the Schwartz Bier, a pale ale wheat beer with banana and the Trail Angel Weiss. The Schwartz Bier, besides paying homage in my mind to one of my favorite American Generals, boosted a dark color slightly surprising for a wheat beer and subtle notes of banana that were evasive enough to go unidentifiable until the secret ingredient was revealed a couple of sips in. It was smooth until the last drop and had no bitter notes on the end. Enjoyable for beer drinkers and newbies alike.

    At Caboose Brewing Company, the first sip of the day belonged to their “Zoo Berliner Weiss,” a German style sour wheat ale. I was concerned that someone had switched my beer with a shandy. The 3.4% ABV makes it a perfect drink for summer days when beer disappears faster than water on asphalt. The light and tart front is reminiscent of acidic citrus fruits and makes it slightly deceiving as an ale, but the clean finish made it a perfect palate cleanser to move on to my favorite offering from Caboose. The “Cross Roads Lager” is a Vienna style lager with a rich dark caramel color with an equally complex aroma and flavor.  It was ever so sweet, especially when compared to its earlier counterpart, with a crisp finish rare for such a rich brew.  I would never have pegged it, but according to Caboose, this beer smells of bread and Werther’s originals…carb lovers rejoice. Speaking with Ian Gildea, a brewer at Caboose, I learned they are one of the only breweries in the country that has stacked serving tanks, making the keg an unnecessary aspect of getting their beer to their taps. Ian’s favorite beer offering at Caboose is the “KC Jones Rye Pale Ale” that features Zythos hops, creating a piney ale with spicy notes which is perfect for pairing with the bratwurst and pretzels of the day.

     

    IMG_4955

    From Capital City Brewing Company: Al Chadsey, Bo Elliot, Travis Reynolds, Leon Harris, Julia Christie-Robin, Kristi Griner

    Other notable brews of the day were: Mad Fox Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Saison, lovingly called “Stingy Jack’s,” that was a perfect kick starter to the beautiful fall day. Made from over 250 pounds of heirloom Cinderella pumpkins from Homestead Farms in Maryland, the pumpkin flavor was able to shine through without the overbearing taste of hops. I felt right at home drinking their Hitzig Frau Oktoberfest which has a delicate balance between malty taste and hoppy acidity, keeping the bready quality at bay. Brewed with imported malts and hops, it encapsulated the spirit of the day perfect.

    The beauty of Oktoberfest is that beer is the most unifying social phenomena known to man and it was wonderfully evident at Capital City’s rendition. Every brewing company offered different takes on a core concept and united seemingly unrelated people on a shining Sunday afternoon, a projection of the fact that try as we may….we’re still Americans. Thank you, oh Motherland, Deutschland. But thank God for the American twist on this tradition that combined the malty flavors reminding me of home with kicks and twists that were undeniably local.
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    From Capital City Brewing Company: Travis Reynolds, Leon Harris, Julia Christie-Robin, Bo Elliot

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    -CER (Celia)

    Editors Note: We recently attended (and wrote about) a Three Notch’d beer dinner.

  • 23Oct

    Chef Peter Prime

    Old Engine 12 Restaurant is the creation of Chef Peter Prime, a native Trinidadian, who in 2013 decided to renovate the firehouse of Engine Company 12 in Bloomingdale to launch his world class contemporary American restaurant. Originally constructed in 1895, it is noted for its artistic architectural design. Chef Peter, as he is more commonly known, transformed this magnificent architectural gem into a space where guests walk in and are instantly embraced by its history and elegance.  From the exposed brick walls, to the extensive original oak moldings, to the brass fireman’s pole to the captain’s loft – the legacy of generations of firemen who served here has been beautifully preserved.

    Chef Peter is classically trained, having attended the French Culinary Institute in New York.  His professional experience includes highly respected DC venues such as Leopold Kafe and Konditerei in Georgetown, Citronelle, Hotel Monaco’s Poste Moderne Brasserie and Todd Gray’s Equinox.  The menu at Engine 12 is a culmination of Chef Peter’s varied and extensive culinary lineage that began with time spent in his mother’s Trinidadian family kitchen and the influences that bestows.

    In speaking with this wonderfully creative chef, he expressed that Engine 12 reflects his desire to create a neighborhood nook where people gather to eat, drink and be entertained.  This fall, Engine 12 kicks off 2nd Sunday Family Dinners to honor a long standing firehouse tradition where firefighters come together for a good meal, full of laughs, bonding and conversation. The Sunday Family Dinners encourage neighbors and friends to gather for family style meals that are inspired by staff members, neighbors and some of Chef Peter’s childhood nostalgia!  These promise to be wonderful warm and friendly events and an excellent addition to the social fabric of Bloomingdale and Eckington.

    Main Dining Area - Nostalgic Artifacts

    A nostalgic nod to the venue’s former life as the Engine 12 firehouse

    For this review, I had the privilege of attending a preview dinner of Engine 12’s new fall menu items. Chef Peter graced us with an array of expertly crafted dishes over 5 courses, each accompanied by one of Engine 12’s signature craft cocktails. The entire evening was delightful and quite impressive in its execution, in the creativity of his culinary talent, and in the romance and charm of the experience of being in this historical DC architectural gem.  All of the menu items aim to offer a creative take on the notion of comfort food. And after experiencing them, I walked away with a new definition of what it means to eat comfort food – familiar ingredients with exciting new yet subtle flavors and a warmth that makes you want to just curl up in front of a fireplace and enjoy a classic after dinner digestif.

    THE HORS D’OEUVRES

    The evening opened up in the Main Dining Room (the area open to the public) with servings of Sweet Potato Chips and Jerked Chicken Wings.  The Sweet Potato Chips were served with a Jalapeño Mayo that was quite amazing in its execution.  I say amazing because never before have I tasted a dish or condiment of any kind that had jalapeño peppers where the flavor of the pepper came through elegantly and the heat was but a subtle undercurrent.  The Jerked Chicken reflects Chef Peter’s Caribbean upbringing and again the heat was subtle and the wings were flavorful in a very balanced and nuanced way.

    THE VEGETABLE/SALAD COURSE

    Main bar

    The Main Bar area with the brass fire pole prominently displayed

    After such a delightful introduction to Engine 12, we moved upstairs to the ballroom space (where private and special Engine 12 events are held).  Generous in size, encircled in exposed brick walls, and paved in original wood plank flooring, one immediately felt at home and could begin to envisage holding a private family event here.  The meal continued at this point with a trio of vegetable plates. First up were Grilled Brussels Sprouts drizzled with a sweet yet zesty balsamic molasses glaze. Next were Mini Roasted Potatoes prepared with beef fat and sprinkled with crunchy salt and chive gremolata. Third was a refreshing Kale Salad that incorporated dried cranberries, toasted almonds, parmesan and was sprinkled with a Balsamic Gastrique.  The Brussels sprouts were roasted to perfection and the addition of whiskey braised raisins added a wonderful subtle spiciness that had me elevating my desire for Brussels sprouts – Brussels sprouts were that one thing as kids we all absolutely turned our noses up at! The delicate nature of the baby kale made for a crisp and fresh salad completely absent of some of kale’s known bitterness.

    FIRST PLATES COURSE

    Next were two of Chef Peter’s unique inventions.  His Sweet Potato Caramello, a house made raviolo filled with a heavenly blend of sweet potato and ricotta, was dressed with an almond sage cream and topped with a tempura fried sage leaf.  The natural sweetness of the ingredients in this dish was sublime – just the right touch on the palette that blended well with its more savory notes.  The sage leaf was a beautiful surprise!  This was followed by Coffee Butter Scallops seared just right, allowing the natural sweetness of a high quality scallop to dance nicely with the nutmeg flavored cauliflower purée that served as the bed in which the scallop rested. I could’ve repeated this course several times over it was so great!

    SECOND PLATES COURSE

    The presentation thus far was a very smooth flow of well-balanced dishes that left the diner delighted and well comforted. We still had room for more, and more came in the form of two very flavorful meat dishes that had sides for which one would absolutely die.  The Jerk Spiced Duroc Pork Chop recalled Chef Peter’s Trinidadian roots and much like the Jerked Chicken Wings, fresh in flavor and subtle in heat. The pork sat in two streams of sweet potato – one a sweet potato pudding, the other a purple sweet potato caramel.  Everyone just smiled when they got to the purple caramel – I’ve never tasted a sweet potato so delicious! Chef Peter likes to do his own smoking on the premises and his skill in this area was presented to us in the form of Smokey Brisket, a dish so tender and a smoky flavor that had me recalling barbecues of my childhood.  Accompanied by Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Spicy Broccoli Rabe, it was a very satisfying end to the savory portion of this incredible meal!

    DESSERT COURSE

    Captain's Loft

    Captain’s Loft

    After being nicely sated with such a surprising meal, we were escorted to the Firehouse Lounge on the third floor – a very cozy candlelit lounge space filled with soft leather sofas and chairs that is quite relaxing in atmosphere.   We were treated to Zeppole, an Italian fried dough recipe accompanied with homemade caramel, chocolate and raspberry sauces for dipping.  Akin to what we know as donut holes, these were much lighter and more delicate.  Having grown up in a southern Italian immigrant family, I have been consuming zeppoles since I was a toddler, but the variety known to me is much more dense (we use regular bread dough) and sweet sauces are but one option for us (as another option we stuff ours with anchovies for a saltier more savory bite). There are many varieties of zeppoles in existence throughout Italy.  Chef Peter’s variety reflected a great understanding of this dish of many traits! I was quite happy at the end to be transported to memories of my childhood Christmases with my big fat Italian family where abundant platefuls of zeppoles were served at every meal at every house visit.

    HOME CRAFTED COCKTAILS

    Engine 12 completely won me over with its new fall menu items. But the icing on the cake was the house made cocktails.  All of them make superb signature drinks sure to please patrons of all types.  The Sweet Potato Pye, made with Rittenhouse Rye, sweet potato pudding and spiced brown sugar simple syrup was beautifully smooth, and again, subtle in sweetness.  The uniqueness of the sweet potato pudding was a delight – one expected it to be very heavy, but it was quite light in its composure and kept in theme with the extensive use of sweet potato throughout the evening. The Dirty is a unique style of martini that used Stoli Elite vodka and house-smoked olive brine. The subtlety of the smoked brine was amazing!  The smokiness of this drink was unmatched by anything I have imbibed.  Lastly, the Hydrant #12 was a very refreshing blend of Sapphire Gin, Mint, Cucumber, simple syrup , lime juice and lemonade.  Can I have another please?

    With the redevelopment of the Bloomingdale  and Eckington neighborhoods in full force, the push to bring in new businesses along North Capitol Street is off to a very good start and Engine 12 is leading the charge by bringing first class dining in a comfortable atmosphere that brings together friends, family, neighbors and staff in a nostalgic way.  Chef Peter is a talent to be watched.  He is true to his craft and has devoted a wonderful amount of energy to pulling together his rich background of culinary experiences in very thoughtful and creative ways.  I can’t wait to start attending the Sunday Family Dinners.  I have it on authority that Chef Peter’s Mom will be not only attending, but preparing some of the dishes herself – that for me warms my heart to the fullest.

    A visit is a must for any foodie living here in the DC area.

    -SAW (Steve)

    Old Engine 12 Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

     

  • 21Oct

    Three meats, three chefs, and one hell of a cause. The Brooklyn Brewery ended their week long DC Mash Tour with the Three-Headed Beast competition at Blind Whino Sunday October 11th. All proceeds from the event went to The Food Trust, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide everyone with affordable and nutritious food.

    Who was on the guest list? Self-proclaimed foodies and beer enthusiast who spent the better half of a Sunday skipping brunch in favor of the promised ‘nose-to-tail’ dishes. No vegetarians with gluten allergies allowed. What was on tap? Brooklyn Lager, Oktoberfest, Defender IPA, Post Road Pumpkin Ale, East IPA, all of which are delicious and perfect for a fall afternoon.

    Beer and good times aside, everyone was there for one, well three, things: meat, meat, and more meat.

    Hosting the competition was Head of Culinary Programming at Brooklyn Brewery, Chef Andrew Gerson. His beast of choice was lamb. Filling his niche of slow cooked, the braised lamb was perfectly seasoned with Szechuan pepper, ginger and star anise. Pairing the lamb with roasted delicata squash and Romanesco atop a butternut squash puree was a subtle nod to Gerson’s love for Italian cooking. The East IPA was suggested to be most complimentary to the lamb’s seasoning, making it the perfect fall pairing.

    Chef Kwame Onwuachi took a break from preparing for the highly anticipated opening Shaw Bijou. His beast of choice- Goat, head included. Drawing inspiration from a blend of cultures, the Bronx native serves his curry braised goat on msemsen bread topped with Kashmiri chili sauce and anticucho yogurt. Jealous? Seconds were had. The Defender IPA wasn’t a first choice but the right choice to amplify every spice in Onwuachi’s creation. The Defender IPA is your cousin who is Ivy League educated and also happens to be part of a female fight club. It’s more than just a red.

    We’ve all been there for the whiskey, but Chef Russell Jones is the true gem of Jack Rose Salon. His beast of choice was pig. Staying fresh and keeping classic, the smoked pork shoulder and tail were topped with the best chow chow north of the Carolinas. A house-baked Parker House roll was served alongside true, good ole fashion pork rinds, and yes, the spice was just as good as the crunch. A classic dish calls for a classic beer for a classic girl with food all over her face. The Brooklyn Lager and pork rinds were a perfect combination.

    All three chefs were winners of the Three Headed Beast competitions. “This is a perfect way to end, on a perfect day like today,” Gerson, toasting a Brooklyn Lager in the air to crowd.

    -HGP (Haylee)

    Editor’s Note: We’d like to mention that Kwame and 2 other local chefs (Chefs Marjorie Meek-Bradley and Garret Fleming) will be representing DC in the upcoming Top Chef season. Good luck guys!

  • 15Oct

    Nov 2015 DCFBHH BrickandMortarFlyer2

    RSVP here for the November DCFBHH. It will be at Brick & Mortar at Prequel. Brick & Mortar is a speakeasy-like bar in Prequel’s basement. They do make a helluva Hemingway Daiquiri.

    Anita of Greg’s List will be this month’s host.

    -JAY

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