• 26Aug

    “YOU GOTTA CHASE THE TASTE.”

    On average, beer has a 4 percent alcohol by volume, however craft beer alcohol content is higher.

    I had the honor to be invited to the 2017 Virginia Craft Beer Festival in CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. This venue located at the IX Park, in downtown CHARLOTTESVILLE which attracted craft beer breweries around the region along with food vendors.

    With paid admission, a patron would get a 5 oz tasting glass along with a map of the grounds and free range of food, music, and of course, beer.

    Some of the food vendors were sprinkled in with the beer tasting tents, I happened to stumble upon “THE MARKET, which is a local gas station that services gourmet sandwiches. Another great find was “Craft Beer Peanuts,” which was tucked away in the corner. This company hails from North Carolina, and offered up Bourbon Flavored Pretzels that was “sweet and salty” with just that hint of bourbon flavor. In the lane of food trucks, each offering had a local craft beer pairing featured at the festival.  I focused on the lighter, fruit-flavored beers.

    One of my favorites came from Watermelon-Lime Fruit Kolsch by Midnight Brewery. Midnight features handcrafted ales and lagers with seasonal brews, afternoon tastings, and a weekend line-up of various eats.

    Midnight Brewery is located at 2410 Granite Ridge Rd, Rockville, VA 23146.
    Midnight’s Tasting Room hours:
    Tuesday – Thursday 4-8 pm, Fridays 4-9 pm, Saturday 1-8 pm, Sunday 1-6 pm
    Tours available during tasting room hours and upon request Tuesday-Friday 2pm-closing. Call 804-719-9150 to request tour.

    However, while I was in the car, navigating the trip, I decided to Google: “What are the different types of beer?”
    Varieties of ale include:

    India Pale Ale: A very hoppy (read: bitter) brew.
    Hefeweizen: An unfiltered wheat beer.
    Irish red ale: The roasted barley content creates a signature red color and tea-like flavor.
    Porter: A London-style dark ale made with roasted malts.

    When I entered the venue, a Virginia Brew Hub Magazine  was available entitled “Beer Tasting Guide.” I used this as my guide while tasting brews and kept an eye on:

    1. ABV – Alcohol by Volume
    2. Color
    3. Head
    4. Aroma/Smell
    5. Flavor/Taste
    6. Hop Flavor
    7. Malt Flavor
    8. Sweetness

    I sampled beer from all over Northern Virginia including Port City ((Alexandria, VA), which I was first be introduced to at the “Taste of Shirlington.” I enjoyed their beer. It is nice that they have a female chemist on their team. Their 2 week aged Porter was extremely tasty. Usually the barreling process takes several weeks but with twerks in production time, one unit of craft beer can be produced in a shorter time which makes for fresh beer.

    Port City’s industrial brewery offers a tasting room with house made draft beers and public tours, and is located at 3950 Wheeler Ave, Alexandria, VA 22304.
    Hours: 3–10PM

    Another standout was the Geneva Convention, “A white winter ale” by the Young Veteran Brewery Company. This small, military veteran-owned brewery has an on-site pub selling draft beers and growler fills. YVBC is located at 2505 Horse Pasture Rd #104, Virginia Beach, VA 23453
    Hours: 3–11PM

    A random favorite:

    Boyzen Da Hood, Boyszenberry Gose (4.2% ABD) by Kindred Spirits Brewery. My opinion: Very good … Nice and sour.
    Kindred Spirits is located at 12830 W Creek Pkwy J, Richmond, VA 23238

    Another favorite is new on the scene, and trying to get the millennials involved is Heroic Aleworks. This comic book lovin’ beer making group of misfits liked to be center of attention. Their tagline is “You’ve tasted the beers, now get to know the stories behind the characters in the brand new, original ‘Heroic Aleworks Presents’ comics created by the owners of Heroic Aleworks, featuring artwork by talented artists from around the world.” Heroic is located at 14910 Persistence Dr, Woodbridge, VA 22191
    Hours: 12PM–12AM

    Anchor beers that have a heavy presence on social media and had a immediate name recognition with me:

    Starr Hill
    Adroit Theory

    I had the distinct honor to speak to some native CHARLOTTESVILLE beer festival patrons and some police that were present at the event. Now on everyone’s mind was the event of last Saturday, August 11, 2017. However, the ladies stated that, “This event is the complete representation of Charlottesville, not last weekend and the actions of some people. She was and is proud to be from such a wonderful community and was happy that this event went off without any incident and saw so many people enjoying themselves.” The police officers i spoke to echo her sentiments about last weekend. That isolated incident is not what C-Ville is about – this event is.”

    -CLF (Crystal)

  • 09Aug

    Saturday, August 19th will be the the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest in Charlottesville, VA. The Fest will be hosted by Three Notch’d Brewing Company and is the only sanctioned event of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild. Thousands of craft beer lovers from Virginia and surrounding states enjoy chatting with the brewers responsible for the tasty libations. With nearly 100 breweries from across Virginia on hand to serve tastings from 2-8 PM, you should plan to stay for the day so you get to taste them all.

    DCFüd is giving away a pair of General Admission tickets to this event. Email your first and last name and phone number to Contest (AT) dcfud (DOT) com by Sunday August 13th at 5pm with the subject “VA Beer Fest” for a chance to win. It may take a couple of days for us to get back to the winner.

    We wrote about Three Notch’d previously.

    Road-trip!

    -JAY

  • 05Aug

    Sugar Factory Rainbow Sliders

    We recently attended the recent pre-grand opening of Pentagon City Mall’s Sugar Factory American Brasserie. Sugar Factory started as a candy store, and grew into a group of restaurants with locations in Las Vegas, New York, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Dubai, Philippines, etc. They have both restaurants concepts (such as Pentagon City) and small retail stores/cafes (such as  Bahrain, Hollywood, and the newly opened Union Station in Washington, DC. The restaurants include small candy stores (and house-made ice cream).

    Let’s start with the drinks. There is definitely a sweet theme here, with many of the milkshakes and bubbling goblet (group-sized, 60 ounce) cocktails being garnished with candy. The 3 neon colored (individually-sized) martinis we tried tasted like Jolly Ranchers in the best possible way, with the Lemon-Head being our favorite. If you don’t enjoy very sweet drinks, you may want to skip alcohol for the evening. There is no beer or wine menu at this location.

    Milkshakes

    All of the food including sauces like Buffalo, BBQ, and mustard, and even the turkey in the turkey club are made from scratch. This is something that more restaurants should do because it is more cost effective, but also results in fresher, more flavorful food. The dishes we tried were good versions of classic American food that we grew up on.  The salmon was the one dish that was fancy restaurant fare instead of a good version of a classic diner or pub dish. We tried one brunch dish, the well-prepared  chicken and waffles. The only component of any of the dishes we tried that needs work is the asparagus that came with the salmon, which should be an easy fix.

    This is a good restaurant for groups, besides the goblet cocktails. There were even 5 or 6 birthday parties for children (all girls) going on the evening we were present. Sugar factory even has a 24 scoop King Kong Sundae for groups to share.

    We are looking forward to returning to Sugar Factory, possibly for brunch. Feel free to take a look at the drinks and food (including brunch) on their huge online menu.

    -JAY

  • 02Aug

     

    John Shields of Gertrude’s, PBS’s Coastal Cooking, and the New Chesapeake Kitchen was the MC and crab disassembling demonstrator at last week’s Crab & Beer Dinner at Wildfire in Tysons. Evolution Brewing of Salisbury, MD was on hand to pair and serve their fine brews.

    Properly-spiced Maryland blue crab served alongside a plastic lobster bib, mallet, and beach bucket for the shells was our first course of the evening. John showed everyone a proper technique to get out all the succulent meat in an expedient manner. He’s even studied with professional crab pickers. The blue crab was paired with Evolution’s Delmarva Pure Pils.

    Crab Spaghetti with summer vegetables and lobster sauce followed as the second course. Large chunks of fresh and delicious crab topped the spaghetti. The lobster sauce was made from a nicely reduced sauce. The dish was both fresh and delicate. This course was paired with Evolution’s Pine’hop’le IPA.

    Tender and savory Crab Crusted Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon in a roasted shallot-sherry wine reduction completed the pre-dessert courses. The steak dish was paired with Evolution’s Exile Red Ale.

    Dessert was served last, an orange pound cake with seasonal mixed berries and fluffy whipped cream.

    Keep an eye out for other extraordinary dinners at Wildfire. The next few months will bring another beer dinner, a single malt scotch Dinner, and a Wine dinner.

    Our thanks to Chef Moreno Espinoza (pictured above on the left) who joins us annually from Chicago to cook for this wonderful event.

    -JAY

  • 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

  • 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

  • 22May

    Summer Thursdays always brim with excitement. It’s not quite the weekend, but it’s close, and everyone seems to be out and about. If you’re looking for a Thursday spot with great food, great drinks, and an amazing vibe, look no further Bar Dupont. Located on Dupont Circle, Bar Dupont is the perfect place for people-watching and cocktail-sipping. They recently launched Dupont Live every Thursday through July, starting at 6:30 p.m., featuring local musicians on their patio, along with their newest menu additions.

    The Evening’s Performers

    Throughout the evening, we were able to try a variety of Bar Dupont’s new cocktails and appetizers. Their take on a Tom Collins, the aptly named Dupont Collins, was my favorite. The introduction of St. Germain provides a bit of a floral note, and the cocktail light and refreshing on hot summer nights. The Moto Guzzi, an Aperol spritz, is another perfect-for-the-weather option, albeit one that goes down a bit too easy. The Green Variety Margarita is tasty, and makes you at least feel somewhat healthy, due to the green juice. And who doesn’t want to sit on a patio while sipping a rosé? No patio menu would be complete without at least one option, and their Chateau Jouclary Bardes option is a great one, though they have several. Bar Dupont also focuses on offering local wine, beer, and spirits.

    Though “bar” is in their name, don’t let that fool you—their food is also fantastic. The two standouts for me are the tuna tacos (crispy shell, Ahi tuna, slaw, avocado) and the curried cauliflower (fried cauliflower bites with chimichurri). The tacos were not only tasty, but texturally interesting due to the crispy shell and tuna. The cauliflower was perfectly fried and went well with the tangy chimichurri sauce. It was also slightly addictive, and you might end up wanting a second order. The oysters were huge and delicious, though I didn’t care for the mignonette on them. But you can’t go wrong ordering those. I didn’t get to try the beef tartare or the Wagyu bacon cheeseburger, but those all went fast, so my guess is either one is a smart choice.

    Dupont Live will feature various musical genres and local musicians. The duo we heard played a bit of light jazz, which really set the tone for a chill atmosphere. Each act will be a surprise, so you never know who you might see!

    Bar Dupont should definitely be in your regular rotation, especially on Thursdays for Dupont Live. With impressive food, drinks, and musicians, you won’t want to miss it.

    -LEM

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