• 06May

    DominionJust in time for the warm weather, downtown Bethesda’s Piazza Beer Garden at Cesco Osteria is now open. Beer lovers and food enthusiasts can enjoy unique local beers and tasty Italian foods while soaking up the sun in this relaxed spot.

    Voted “Best Outdoor Beer Garden” by Bethesda Magazine, the piazza prides itself on its sustainability and support of local farmers and breweries. The piazza was created from sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, and the menu and beer options are local. Some favorite foods are the margherita pizza and fried calamari, among many other hearty Italian bites to choose from. At their season-opener beer bash last Tuesday, guests were treated to glasses of Dominion Candi, a popular Belgian Tripel. Perfect for the summertime, this beer is light, refreshing and on the sweet side. Piazza offers twelve taps with a changing selection of beers from local breweries as well as many bottle selections to please any kind of beer lover.

    On May 7th, Cesco Osteria will celebrate its 18th anniversary. Chef and owner Francesco Ricchi is offering all diners a complimentary glass of prosecco and birthday cake to celebrate. Check out Piazza Beer Garden Monday through Friday from 4pm to 10pm or Saturday from 2pm to 10pm.


  • 21Apr

    Ocopa has been rising to the top of H St NE’s restaurant scene with its flavorful Peruvian tastes. Its fresh ingredients and relaxed feel make Ocopa a great spot to check out in this warm weather. A small restaurant, the Peruvian hotspot has limited but fun barstools with an outdoor view. The patio will hopefully be opening in the coming months as well. If you enjoy watching the food being prepared like I do, sit at the main bar and watch how fast Ocopa’s team makes their dishes.

    In addition to its fine Peruvian dinner, Ocopa has recently started serving brunch. The restaurant is known both for their food and for their cocktails. Chef Carlos Delgado has paired with Peruvian mixologist Giancarlo Cruz to showcase traditional Pisco cocktails and classics with a savory twist that are must tries.

    ocopa_restaurant_frontAs I am not a Bloody Mary fan, I was recommended the lavender Pisco Sour instead. It is the kind of drink you could easily have in one go without realizing what you have just done. The perfect amount of sweetness, this Pisco Sour is incredibly smooth to the palate. I also got to try the Pisco fizz, a drink not featured on the menu. It has the same smoothness to it as the lavender Pisco does. I was nervous when I heard that egg whites were in it, but I soon realized that this crucial ingredient is what gives the Pisco sours their deliciously creamy texture. If you are a Bloody Mary drinker, however, make sure to check out Ocopa’s. Based on my drink experience there, I’m sure their Bloody Marys are some of DC’s finest.

    To combat the drinks of the day before, I also had the Conchas Leche de Tigre, or Peru’s hangover cure. This drink has scallops, yellow pepper, and tiger’s milk, the marinade that cures the seafood in ceviche. The sweetness of the citrus marinade balanced well with the kick of the yellow pepper. This drink has a bite to it that can undeniably cure any hangover.

    So, how do you make a dinner menu into a brunch menu as well? Just add egg! Ocopa does this right. My favorite dish, the Lomo Montado, features tender filet with potato confit, all topped with an egg. We started with the classic ceviche with flounder, their fish of the day. The flounder was thin and light, with sides of sweet potato and Peruvian corn that both paired well with the fish. The Causa Cangrejo, a potato dish with crab, was soft, light and creamy.

    Meanwhile, the Jalea Pescado had the perfect amount of fried crunch and soft, melt-in-your-mouth fish. We finished off the meal with an ice cream dessert that had chocolate ganache, tapioca powder and crunchy quinoa, for a bit of a savory taste. Like all of Ocopa’s dishes, this dessert especially had an attractive presentation. The paletas, or ice pops, are also a must try.

    I will definitely be going back to Ocopa soon, but next time for their lively dinner. Whether you’re going out on H St at night, or walking around the hip neighborhood during the day, make sure to try something new and check out Ocopa’s fine Peruvian cuisine.

    -SDM (Samantha)

    Ocopa on Urbanspoon

  • 03Apr

    belvedere_wild_berry_displayBelvedere Vodka’s newest flavor, Belvedere Wild Berry, just made its DC debut. Barcode hosted a happy hour reception last week to celebrate. Guests were treated to complimentary wild berry cocktails and food bites.

    Barcode sectioned off part of its lounge area for the event, which quickly became packed with guests. Guests with reserved tables enjoyed bottles of the new vodka. The wild berry cocktails delivered a fresh, smooth and clean finish. The combination of strawberries and blueberries made the cocktail soft and inviting to the palate. This new vodka flavor mixes perfectly with lemonade or tonic water, topped with fresh fruits. Buy Belvedere Wild Berry vodka on the Belvedere Vodka website, and look out for it in DC liquor stores and bars.


    Barcode Restaurant, Bar and Lounge on Urbanspoon

  • 25Mar

    Many heartfelt moments in our lives start with the opening of a bottle of wine. We may not realize it in the moment, but family and friends form bonds over wine. Whether at a family gathering or at a dinner party with friends, wine is a staple at events. Sisters Robin and Andréa McBride show how wine can help bring people together. The age-old beverage helped inspire the wine-making sister duo.

    This past Thursday, March 19th, the McBride sisters celebrated the debut of their new wine collection, Truvée Wines, in DC. Partnered with Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Truvée Wines is the latest wine release from DC&E. The event was held at The Manor, a relatively new restaurant and lounge located in the heart of Dupont Circle. Guests enjoyed Truvée’s Chardonnay and Red Blend, spritzers, sangria cocktails, and food bites at the chic event.

    The McBride sisters’ story is, to say the least, a remarkable one. Both born in Los Angeles, the two sisters were raised continents apart by their mothers, unaware of each other’s existence for nearly half of their lives. Robin grew up surrounded by vineyards in Monterey, California, while her younger sister Andréa was grape farming with her uncle in Marlborough, New Zealand. It was their father’s dying wish that his two daughters finally meet. When the sisters reunited at last, they discovered a shared interest in the wine business. As the wine title Truvée, derived from “to find” in French, tells, the two sisters found in each other something worth holding onto and formed a close sisterhood. The entrepreneurial duo became the first African American sisters to found and own a wine company. Robin and Andréa  serve as an inspiration to women and contemporary wine lovers.

    The sisters told their heartwarming story at the Truvée Wines launch party held at The Manor, as guests were served complimentary wine and cocktails. Upon entering the event, I was almost immediately offered the Princely Peach Sangria, a cocktail featuring the Truvée Chardonnay. It was light, crisp and refreshing: the perfect start to the evening. I then enjoyed the Saucy Spitzer, mixed with the Truvée Red Blend Wine. This cocktail was by far my favorite at the event: fruity, smooth and flavorful. Then I sampled a taste of the Truvée red and the white. The lightly oaked Chardonnay was light, balanced and not too sweet. The outstanding Rhône Style Red Blend delivered a decadent fruit taste and a bit of a spice. It was rich, velvety and the right amount of sweet. As a red wine fan, I especially enjoyed the Truvée Red Blend .

    With a recommended retail price of $15.99, these sophisticated, high-quality wines are attainable for today’s wine drinkers. Browse the Truvée website for more information on this affordable indulgence. Keep an eye out for Truvée wines at DC liquor stores and bars, including The Manor.


  • 10Mar

    The next DC Food Blogger Happy Hour is April 1st at Mango Tree!

    Please RSVP on the DCFBHH event page. Mango Tree is a new City Center Thai restaurant. We will be at the upstairs back bar (in the main dining room). Their Happy Hour menu is looking good!


    April DCFBHH Mango Tree



  • 14Feb

    Ok, let’s talk about sandwiches on King Street.

    I recently ate at Mackie’s Bar & Grill during February’s DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. Mackie’s is a relatively new steakhouse, where I sat at the bar I chowing down on excellent Jerk Wings and a delicious Bulgogi Hoagie (with kimchi on the side) while drinking one of three Evolution brews on tap. The owner’s wife makes the kimchi. I hear Mackie’s burgers are excellent, and based on the hoagie and wings, I believe it.

    Another King Street restaurant I recently tried for the first time was Pita House. The restaurant doesn’t seem to match the name, since it is a sit down place with table service, and not really a dive or chain. I gave it a try anyway, ordering felafel and requesting hot sauce, both of which were authentic and good. I need to go again soon to try some of their other Middle Eastern specialties such as chicken shwarma or baba ganouj.

    BTW, mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 4th, which will be the next DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. It will be in DC, but the venue has not been announced yet.


    Mackie's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

    Pita House on Urbanspoon

  • 07Nov

    I recently hosted DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Chef Ferhat Yalçin’s new restaurant, Fishnet DC. All of Chef Ferhat’s dishes were excellent, and it was nice of him to make my a scallop without mushrooms (since I am allergic). I definitely want to go back and try more dishes.

    Chef Ferhat Yalçin working with salmon.

    Chef Ferhat Yalçin working with salmon.

    You also can’t beat $3 craft beer on tap at Fishnet’s happy hour (4-6pm and 9-10pm). The HH beer selection includes:

    • Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier
    • Stone IPA
    • Bell’s Amber Ale
    • Avery White Racsal
    • Port City Porter
    • Oskar Blues G’Nkight Imperial Red IPA
    • Lagunitas A Lil’ Sumpin Sumpin


    Fishnet on Urbanspoon

  • 06Nov
    Ping Pong Dim Sum Brunch

    Ping Pong Dim Sum introduces their new brunch menu with an eastern flare.  Dim Sum is already considered Chinese-style brunch but fusing it with the western brunch style makes it a Ping Pong brunch to remember.  Dupont Circle’s location introduced their newest East West Brunch dishes and cocktails in late October. They flew their Beverage Director, Daniele Ziaco, from London for a quick mixology lesson on how to make one of their signature cocktails, Lemon Grass and Lime,  a complicated cocktail of 5 different ingredients (vodka, lychee sake with fresh lemongrass, lime and lychee juice).

    Daniele Ziaco, Beverage Director of Ping Pong Dim Sum

    Daniele Ziaco, Beverage Director of Ping Pong Dim Sum

    Ziaco brings 15 years of experience to Ping Pong, and has developed regional bar programs in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Before joining Ping Pong’s first store in London in 2006, Ziaco managed the bar programs in London for the critically acclaimed Hakkasan restaurants by Alan Yau. Born in Tuscany, much of Ziaco’s inspiration for his methodology, and appreciation for quality and freshness, comes from his childhood in Italy.​

    Ping Pong Bubble

    Ping Pong Bubble

    My favorite cocktail of the night was their Brunch Champagne with Bubbles.  Think of it as an adult beverage Bubble Tea although instead of your typical tapioca bubbles it’s filled with poppers.  And if you’re unfamiliar with poppers, I highly suggest that you go out and try them.  It’s unlike it’s tapioca counterparts because instead of being a solid ball of tapioca, the center is filled with fruit juice; the skin encasing the juice is so light that when bitten, a burst of juice fills your mouth.

    Egg & Cheese Spring Rolls

    Egg & Cheese Spring Rolls

    But now for the important part…the food!  I’m not a huge fan of western brunch foods as I’m not really a breakfast person, but these dishes really did wow me.  So here’s a take on my favorite dishes on the menu.  Let’s start with their egg and cheese spring rolls, which is a fried egg roll wrapper filled with scrambled eggs, sharp white cheddar, peppers and spring onion, and served with a five-spice tonkatsu sauce.  This dish will make you rethink your breakfast burritos.

    Chicken & Green Tea Waffles

    Chicken & Green Tea Waffles

    Next up is their chicken and waffles.  Who doesn’t like chicken and waffles, but how about green tea flavored waffles with an Asian spice kick?  It is a sweet and savory matcha made in heaven (see what I did there?)  Matcha green tea belgian waffles topped with sesame seed crusted fried chicken with lemongrass and ginger maple syrup!  Doesn’t the description alone get your mouth watering?  It has mine watering so much that it makes me want to drink the syrup.

    Black Mango Tea French Toast

    Black Mango Tea French Toast

    Do you have a sweet tooth for breakfast?  I certainly do.  In my non-executive chef mind, an eastern French toast would just be French toast with some Asian Fruit compote. but this is why I’m not an executive chef.  This French toast is no ordinary french toast; it’s a mango black tea steeped brioche French toast  topped with exotic fruit and served with a  ginger maple syrup. It’s that ginger maple syrup that brings you to tears of happiness.

    Char Sui Bun

    Char Sui Bun

    And my final top dish would be the Char Sui Buns, an ultimate favorite dim sum dish of mine made up of honey roasted pork in a mantou (fluffy white Chinese bun).  Although I don’t feel that Ping Pong’s rendition beats the original version, it is rather tasty and I’m a fan of the open face mantou.

    So with all that’s said and eaten, I highly suggest that you grab some friends and run, don’t walk to the nearest Ping Pong Dim Sum and have yourself a East West Brunch.





    Sichuan Hanger Steak "Loco Moco"

    Sichuan Hanger Steak “Loco Moco”

    Shanghai Shrimp and Grits

    Shanghai Shrimp and Grits

    Pork Belly Bun

    Braised Pork Belly Bao Sliders

    Sesame Beef and Sweet Chili Meatballs

    Sesame Beef and Sweet Chili Meatballs

    Edamame Dumpling

    Edamame and Truffle Dumpling

    Wild Mushroom Puff with Sweet Potato

    Wild Mushroom Puff with Sweet Potato

    Assortment of Steamed Items

    Assortment of Steamed Items

    Chinese Chocolate Sesame Donuts

    Chinese Chocolate Sesame Donuts

    Mochi Ice Cream

    Mochi Ice Cream


    Ping Pong Dim Sum on Urbanspoon

  • 22Oct

    beerologyBeerology is like a great  friend who holds you by the hand and leads you into the grown up world of beer. The author, Mirella Amato is a Master Cicerone, a beer version of a sommelier (there are less than 10 people holding the same title in the world). She knows her beers inside and out, and shares her knowledge in a very personable way. Amato guides you through different styles of beer, breaking down flavor profiles and even what to pair your beer with.

    The book is easy to read, informative while being fun. Without getting mired in the details, this book explains how each variety is made and includes a short explanation of how the beer in question ends up with it’s particular flavor profile. This can really help you identify what you enjoy or dislike about particular styles so that you can seek out beers that you are more likely to enjoy. Your experience with beer might have been limited to one or two varieties or even a single brand, but after reading this book you may dare to try something new and might discover that you love something very different from your go-to beer.

    There is great value in this book for the beer connoisseur as well, as it provides suggestions for brands and pairings that you may not have tried (or even heard of), and also vocabulary to describe what you are drinking. As a beer connoisseur and home-brewer, I found the food pairing ideas to be revelatory. I had never thought about beer in the same way as I had wine, as something to be enjoyed with food, and it was a great way to re-frame how I think about beer.

    Some other takeaways:

    The book helped me to understand why I love Belgians, Stouts and Porters, Sour Beers, Saisons, and why I dislike IPAs. Prior to reading this book, I believed that I disliked IPAs only because of how hoppy and bitter they tend to be. Belgians, Stouts, and Porters have more malt characteristics in them and fewer hops compared to IPAs.The book provided enlightenment for why the hops in my favorite beers did not bother me . I discovered through Amato’s  explanation the difference between old world and new world hops. Old world hops are softer, less bitter and more about aromatics, my favorites being ones that taste like citrus and floral notes . New world hops are more aggressive and can be very bitter and are used for flavoring the beer.  IPAS that are made with old world hops are ones that I  may actually enjoy, rather  than the new world style hop infused IPAs. Before reading this book, I did not know much about how beers age . There are some good suggestions for what beers to age and how to age them.  Beers, like wine change with age, and some are designed to be able to be aged. The IPA I find overly hoppy today might taste really good to me in a year or two, because according to Amato, the hop notes fade with time and the malt flavors get intensified. After reading this book, I’m going to have to have to try some old world style IPAs and give them a shot.

    Beerology is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to expand their beer horizons. It is also great for someone who is trying to help a less experienced beer drinker explore the world of beer.

    -JHC (Jennifer)

    Permalink Filed under: Books, Drinks Tags: , 1 Comment
  • 10Aug

    DC Food Blogger Happy Hour Wednesday was hosted by Wendy Brannen of USApples and myself at Roofers Union in Adams Morgan (in the former space of The Reef). We sampled a variety of Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley‘s delicious apple themed dishes and a great cocktail Bartender Frank Mills created. Frank named the cocktail “How Do You Like Dem Apples” and provided us with the below recipe (for an individual cocktail):


    Roofers Union on Urbanspoon

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