• 06Oct

    We recently reviewed a local business that cooks healthy meals and delivers them to homes in the DC area, Strong Fit meals. We ordered 5 more meals (pictured above), and were impressed with the consistency and quality of the entrees. Yeah, we missed the Chicken Fajitas and Chicken Satays from the last round, but the new meals were tasty (and healthy) as well.

    Strong Fit Meals did a good job at grilling many of the components (some proteins and some vegetables), and used some tasty herbs, spices, and sauces as well. We ordered four entrees from the clean menu (which changes weekly) and one (Ground Turkey) from the lean menu (which stays the same). The Teriyaki Chicken and the Ground Turkey were our favorite dishes this time around. The steak was a little tough but the chimichurri sauce made up for it. It would have been nice if the buckwheat noodles were not chopped up, but they were a tasty gluten-free option.

    It was nice that this week’s meals were not (low-fat) cheese heavy like some of the dishes we previously sampled. The cheese wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel it was necessary.


  • 27May

    Last week we attended a SOFAR (Sounds From A Room) concert in a Parks Department building in Columbia Heights. SOFAR has shows in various cities around the world (it started in London). You don’t know the changing venues or bands beforehand. People sit on the floor or in chairs and enjoy the beer they brought to the show. Mostly, there was a lot of DC’s own DC Brau at the show, but I did see some Sam Adams and Corona. And, one of the bands (Cautious Clay) was even “experimental” music.


    KetchungEditor’s Note:

    I keep meaning to mention a local spicy ketchup that I recently tried out called Ketchung. It is a good thick and spicy ketchup.



  • 09May

    Meats Port City Beer mixed with cheese to create an American Fondue French inspired Raclette Staff preparing fondue

    One of the great staples in life is cheese; it can go from the standard party fare (think cubes of cheese on toothpicks) to the divine (think anything Italian, gooey and aged). When talking cheese, Europeans have taught us all we know; they are masters at producing all manner of dairy-based delights. On March 30th, Via Umbria played host to a most wonderful event, celebrating another wonderful Swiss dish, fondue.

    A place to enjoy all things Italy right in the middle of Georgetown, Via Umbria brought together cheese lovers to taste their way around Europe and America.  The Melt Fondue Fest was created to show off some of the best international and local cheeses in the form of fondue. Upon arrival, guests were given a passport to visit five different cheese stations.

    Curated by in-house cheese monger, Alice Phillips, the evening included a formal nod to the home of fondue, with an Alpine Fondue which contained traditional Swiss melted cheese, garlic and wine. Waving the local flag, the American Fondue stall showcased a tangy cheesy dip made with dark beer. Heading back over the pond, the French inspired Raclette came scraped over boiled potatoes. The final stall featured Wisconsin Fried cheese, which was made from fresh cheese curds that had been dipped in beer batter and then golden-fried. These cheese selections were accompanied by paired wines and beers; guests all left feeling satisfied to the hilt.

    All cheeses can be purchased in the delicatessen along with accompaniments, so you can have out your own fondue night at home.


  • 12Mar

    My $20 off of $60 code is https://www.relayfoods.com/friend/9WZ8KG.

    I’ve been getting a lot of groceries lately from Relay Foods lately, so here are some of my current top picks from their lineup:

    Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are whole wheat versions of Fig Newtons are come in various flavors. I like the fact that they are whole wheat and in packages of two cookies for a healthy snack on the go. My favorites flavors are the blueberry, raspberry, original, and peach/apricot. I’m not a fan of the strawberry.

    Ninth Street (out of NC) makes Chocolate Babka. I’d prefer it doesn’t come frozen (because I have to defrost it to slice and toast it), but it is a good product. Keep in mind that it ca be difficult to slice, isn’t overly sweet, and should be toasted.

    Pretzilla Soft Pretzel Sausage Buns & Soft Pretzel Hamburger Buns. They arrive frozen. The hamburger buns they are already sliced but the sausage rolls are not.

    Hex’s Sea Kraut and Farmstead Ferments’ Classic Kraut are both good and local. Farmhouse Culture’s Organic Jalapeno Kraut is my favorite of the three, and is organic, but not local. (The other two are not organic.) Hex is a regular at the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market (and even sells kombucha there).

    I’m always a fan of Hudson Henry’s granola, which comes in three flavors (Pecan, Cashew, or Walnut) and is local. People go crazy for this product. This is my favorite granola right now!

    Asmar’s Baba Ganouj (out of Alexandria, VA) is a good product as well. It’s he best Baba I’ve found outside Middle Eastern Restaurants, although the texture is a little different.

    Escazu and Salazon are good options for local chocolate. The Escazu Dark Chocoloate Pumpkin Seeds & Guajillo, and the the Salazon Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and  Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel are my favorites of these products.

    Eden Brown Mustard with Apple Cider Vinegar is stone ground, organic, and a great product.


  • 28Dec

    DC’s long anticipated wait for Harper Macaw‘s chocolate factory is over since it officially opened its doors on December 12th. Harper Macaw is DC’s first chocolate factory that sources their cocoa beans from the Brazilian Amazon and Atlantic rainforest. The line to enter the chocolate factory was out the door as people stood in line to get a taste of Harper Macaw’s hot chocolate or mint hot chocolate. Immediately upon entering, the smell of chocolate was in the air, with a vast variety of chocolate bars on display; chocolate cookies, pies and other desserts were being served. When the crowd of people were done sampling chocolate, tours were given.   During the tour, there were not any Oompa Loompas or Willy Wonka in sight. Instead, there was a sophisticated array of machinery such as a “conche” that ages the chocolate and a “five roller refinery” used in a European style of chocolate processing that crushes chocolate particles to 20 microns. At the end of the tour, Sarah Hartman (owner of Harper Macaw) threw a tasting party highlighting their chocolate variety and the event provided an informational session on how to properly eat and enjoy your chocolate. Harper Macaw currently has four chocolate bars available with 52, 67, 74, and 77 percent chocolate bars. Two of the bars are single source being either from the Brazilian Amazon or Atlantic rainforest. The other two bars are a unique blend of the two cocoa beans that produce a very deep sophisticated dark chocolate flavor. Sarah mentioned that key notes to taste in her chocolate bars were the “Fruity jamminess and wine in our 67% Dark Blend Bar, raisins in our 77% Amazon Rainforest Bar, toffee, butterscotch and spice notes in our 74% Atlantic Forest Bar, and raspberries, malt and almonds in our 52% Milk Bar.”

    With everyone enjoying the vast amount of chocolate surrounding them, Sarah Hartman was more than happy to chat with DCFüd about what it takes to be a chocolate artisan.

    What inspired you to start your own chocolate factory?

    I’ve had a lifelong love affair with chocolate. While attending boarding school in Switzerland, I fell deeply in love with chocolate, craftsmanship, and the history behind chocolate. Later on, my mother in law gave me a Scharffenberger recipe book – and the chapter that intrigued me the most was the one which talked about the chocolate making process and the power that cacao agriculture has to promote agroforestry. I shared this interest with a good friend, and she encouraged me to go for a one week intensive course on chocolate – after which, there was no going back. It was a matter of months before I knew I wanted to start my own business, but I knew I needed more experience and knowledge.  So I started learning everything I could about it from various courses all over the world, and later gaining invaluable experience at Valrhona and Dandelion chocolate.

    What is your ideal chocolate for texture? What about for flavor?

    My ideal chocolate texture is a chocolate that is smooth, refined, emulsified, and velvety – it unravels itself on your palate as it melts. I absolutely love that chocolate is a food that melts in your mouth – it is one of a kind. I don’t like grittiness nor sandiness in my chocolate, but I fully understand why some people may be attracted to this type of texture.

    My favorite flavor profile in chocolate is hands down fruity – I love chocolates crafted with Madagascar, Peruvian or Venezuelan beans.

    The artisan chocolate market in the US seems to be growing. We see more and more brands offering single-origin, high-cacao content chocolate. How do you see the Brazilian market changing?  How do you see your chocolate being different?

    Harper Macaw is the only US craft chocolate maker that sources cocoa beans from Brazil. We hope to enlighten fellow chocolate lovers about the unique flavor, texture, and aroma that Brazilian beans impart on our chocolate and inspire other craft chocolate makers to explore new sources. Our chocolate is different not only because of our unique source of beans, but because of our state of the art chocolate making process. We are one of the few chocolate ventures that use a 5 roll refiner. This ensures that our chocolate has the best texture and smoothest mouth feel.

    What are some new flavors that we may expect in the future? 

    We are working on several new sources for our cocoa beans that will imbue new and exciting flavors to our products. We are currently researching projects in Indonesia and Congo for our next origin bars. We have chosen these specific locations as they are countries which also suffer from large deforestation issues and we want to replicate our conservation model at other origins as well.

    How would you describe the flavors that someone eating your chocolate may expect?

    Each bar is unique and flavors and perceptions are all in the “mouth” of the beholder.  Our flavors are anything but expected.

    -EWL (Eric)

  • 30Nov

    Cheftify provides an experience combines the experience of a seasonal gourmet meal, professional chef demonstration, and cooking class all in the comfort of your own kitchen.

    Chef Thomas Rider arrived promptly to JAY’s front door at 6:45pm.  Dressed in his white chef’s coat and armed with two Le Cordon Bleu bags of cooking equipment, his knife set, and organic ingredients,  Chef Thomas left no doubt that he was prepared to create a fine dining experience for us.  I was a little concerned that it would feel awkward to have a stranger cook for us in the apartment, but Thomas and his friendly manner immediately put those concerns to rest.

    Thomas asked us about food allergies and restrictions.  He explained that Cheftify sources ingredients from Whole Foods in DC and that while he did not select the ingredients personally, he was ready to adapt to food restrictions.

    We had previously selected a 3 course dinner option from the fourteen listed on the Cheftify website, so had some idea of what we were getting.  However, because the website did not describe the salad and left the dessert as a surprise, we watched Thomas unpack the groceries with interest.  I was delighted when we learned the “green salad” first course turned out to be a winter kale salad with radishes tossed in a fresh pomegranate and lime vinaigrette.

    As Thomas expertly sliced vegetables, we peppered him with questions about his background.  (From where did he acquire those knife skills?)  Thomas has been cooking his whole life and enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY when he was just 16 years old.  While he enjoyed drawing inspiration for his cooking from the Hudson Valley, he completed his education at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami.  After a short stint cooking at a luxury hotel in the British Virgin Islands, Thomas returned to his native Montgomery County and has since been dedicated to providing diners with experiences that are both outstanding and personal at the same time.

    The entree was Canadian mussels with coconut and red curry broth. I would not normally cook mussels at home, but Thomas explained how to clean and prepare mussels for steaming. Thomas helped us select a beer to pair with the meal.

    DSCN0822JAY had a bake at home baguette on hand to accompany the tasty mussels.  The broth is often the best part of eating mussels and we needed something to sop up that tasty sweet and spicy broth!  Thomas transformed our baguette into a crusty pan seared crostini in a hot skillet with Tunisian olive oil, salt, and pepper.  This was definitely a tip I would duplicate in future meals.

    When we selected our meal, Cheftify listed the dessert as a surprise.  Our dessert was a white chocolate and raspberry gelato with fresh black raspberries.  Cheftify has since updated their website to prompt diners to choose one of 3 desserts, including strawberry shortcake, s’mores, and mixed berries with fresh cream.  I have not tried any of those desserts, but Cheftify uses organic fruit from Whole Foods so the shortcake and mixed berry options are likely winners.  Choose s’mores for nostalgia sake or if you would like a demonstration to make a childhood treat at home.

    The meal was delicious and the Cheftify experience that evening was enjoyable in of itself.  However, what Cheftify provides that may distinguish its services from either another personal chef service or a meal at a restaurant is that Chef Thomas gave practical instructions that could help elevate future meals at home.  I will shy away from cooking mussels no longer.  Fresh pomegranate vinaigrette will be on the menu and yes, I will be using a skillet to make crostini from a baguette.  *Although Thomas came with his own cooking equipment this time, Cheftify suggests diners set out their own cooking equipment.  We could have recreated some aspects of the meal using equipment JAY already had at home.  Now if I only had Chef Thomas’ knife skills.

    Other thoughts and tips:
    Good choice for people who have their alcohol.  The cost of beverage mark ups in restaurants can add up.  Also, with a personal chef working away in the kitchen, your time can be freed up to show off your wine cellar or cocktail mixing skills.

    -CAF (Cindy)

    Editor’s Notes (by JAY):

    1. The teaching aspect may not be part of their normal program. I asked in the “Notes” section of the order for the Chef to teach us the dish (something that my contact JP said was possible).
    2. In the “Notes” section, I listed CAF’s allergies, which include chocolate.
    3. At the time that I placed my order (just a few days ago), actually selecting your dessert was not possible, although it is now. So, the dessert was a “mystery dessert,” and I had already listed chocolate as an allergy. The dessert wound up being White Chocolate Gelato, so the inclusion of a chocolate dessert was an error on Cheftify’s part. I’m sure they will be more careful with allergies in the future.
    4. A Cheftify press release I received today stated that you now get a choice of salad.
    5. We really enjoyed speaking with Chef Thomas and watching him cook. He even let CAF use the digital SLR camera he happened to have in his car (CAF’s camera’s memory card malfunctioned), so if the pictures look better than the ones I take, blame the two of them and the better camera.
    6. The Bake at Home Organic French Baguette (by Essential Baking Co.) I ordered from Relay Foods. The baguette is on sale this week at Relay Foods and there is a coupon/ad for $20 off of $60 on your first order below.
    7. * He did use my pots, pans, utensils, but brought salt, pepper, Tunisian olive oil, plates for the main course, and his own knives.

    Disclosure: From time to time, we are given free items, meals, or entry to events. Also, I do have a relationship with Relay Foods.

  • 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)

  • 29Jul

    Let’s rewind ten or fifteen years ago to my Quest for the perfect brie.  The Quest wasn’t for a blog article; it was because I loved food.  I purchased various brands from Costco, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods until I found the most delicious cheese on earth: a double-creme brie called Fromager d’Affinois. I’ve been gushing about it to my friends ever since.

    Rays of sunshine stream through the clouds

    The heavens agree: Saint Angel brie is a good choice

    So when dcfud asked me to review cheeses from Fromagerie Guilloteau, the family owned business that makes my all-time favorite cheese, you can imagine how much I bounced off the walls with excitement.  They let me try two different cheeses for free, and I loved their triple-creme brie so much that I couldn’t resist buying some for my parents when I visited them that weekend.  On my way back from Whole Foods—cheese in hand—I kept giggling because never before had the heavens parted as if to say, “excellent choice, Mark.” When I stopped at a red light, I had to capture the moment.  My parents loved it.

    Here’s the story behind this review.  On my way to work, I stopped at Murray’s in Grand Central Station in New York City.  As a purveyor of fine cheeses I thought they’d have a better selection than Whole Foods, who I already knew carried Fromager d’Affinois.  Luck was not with me that day, because d’Affinois was all Murray’s had.  Given my adoration for that cheese, I couldn’t just review it myself and toss journalistic integrity to the wind.  “But wait a second,” I thought.  “I have coworkers.”  Problem solved.

    A pound of double-creme brie

    A pound of double-creme brie

    Welcome to my office, toasted crackers and a pound of double-creme brie.  Don’t mind the lustful gazes from my colleagues.




    Later, as the brie was being demolished, here’s what everyone had to say:

    “I am not a brie expert, but I find it delicious”

    “It’s a good one. Not too strong. Not harsh. I like the crust actually.”

    “Very creamy. You can tell the difference between cheap brie and good brie. You can tell it’s not a cheap one. After a second helping I would say it’s not just creamy, it’s buttery.”  (she informed me that if she came back for thirds, I was to send her away)

    “Yeah, it’s double creme. A little nutty.”

    The guy with the most sophisticated palate—a Frenchman, as it happens—had the most critical feedback: “It’s good.  It’s definitely not a triple creme brie, but it’s good.”

    Not a triple-creme?  What is this heresy about my favorite cheese sullying my virgin ears!  This was the smoothest, sweetest, creamiest brie I’d ever had, and he dared scorn it as “just a double creme?”  The rind (white crust) on many bries is bitter or too strongly flavored.  Not Fromager d’Affinois.  It has a delicate flavor that will hook any cheese lover.  And it was being challenged.

    I did the only thing I could do.  After work, I went to Whole Foods and found Saint Angel, a triple-creme brie from Fromagerie Guilloteau.  Could I really tell the difference?  Is a triple-creme that much better?

    An hour later, I found myself in a molten puddle of cheesy ecstasy.  I’m dairy intolerant, but I ate it anyway.  It was worth it.

    Triple creme brie Saint Angel

    Stock photo (and it’s gorgeous) of the triple creme brie Saint Angel

    From the first nibble, I couldn’t believe how silky and smooth Saint Angel is.  The mouth-feel was so good that I ate it plain.  This cheese is so decadently buttery that I wish I’d known about it as a kid.  Back then, I used to saturate my corn on the cob with fresh slabs of salted butter.  Broccoli got the same treatment because butter is delicious.  Saint Angel would have been a perfect addition.  A purist would kill me for saying this, but it’d be good with spicy chicken wings, too.  Dear purists: marry this brie to your favorite French baguette.  You’ll love it too.

    Where does this leave us?  It leaves me with a new favorite brie and several variations of Fromager d’Affinois to tease me:

    • Garlic and mixed herbs
    • Truffle (I’m told this is especially good)
    • Pepper
    • Florette (made from 100% goat’s milk)
    • Brebicet (made from 100% sheep’s milk)
    • Campagnier (rind tinted with annatto and promises of subtle fruity flavors)
    • Bleu (or Saint Géric, which is the triple-creme version of this bleu cheese)

    What about you?  Care to join me? 🙂

    –Mark Feghali (MFF)

  • 02Jul

    Images from last night’s DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Noelia:

    Last week, we kicked off “The Week in DCFüd.

    Tracy's Cheesecakes: Oreo, Lime, Lemon

    Tracy’s Cheesecakes: Oreo, Lime, Lemon

    Well, this was a good week as well. We tried a few more of Tracy’s Cheesecakes, attended Wildfire’s Lagunitas dinner, hosted a happy hour at Noelia, and sampled a few brews directly from the wonderful & local brewery, Atlas Brew Works (thanks to their awesome beer rep., Chris).

    The Atlas beers Cy (who wrote the below beer notes) and I sampled included:

    The 1500 (South Cap Lager, brewed exclusively for Nats Park and definitely a great beer for a hot day at the ballpark):
    Light lager
    Nice bready smell and flavor
    Hops malt balance
    Slight sour overtones

    Home Rule (Pale Lager):
    Surprisingly malty
    Sour notes
    Would pair well with food

    NSFW (Imperial/Double Bock IPA):
    Dark unsweetened chocolate
    Dried plums

    Pumpernickel Stout (Cy’s favorite of the four):
    Very sweet

    For those of you looking for a 4th of July event to attend (and who want to meet Chris):

    “Celebrate Independence Day on the roof deck at 1905! We’ll have the grill going and special $5 offerings of select Atlas Brew Works beers available throughout the afternoon & evening. A $20 cover gets you 3 tickets to use on any combination of food or beer upstairs, including local sausages, pulled pork or portabello sandwiches, green bean salad with smoked almonds & arugula, wild-grain hoppin’ john, corn & tomato salad with feta & oregano, Sherry-bliss potato salad, or smoked broccoli with cheddar & pimentos. Tickets are available at the door only. The dining room will also be open that night with the regular menu starting at 5:30pm.”

    Update 7/5/15: Below is a half smoke platter (and at Atlas beer) from the 4th of July rooftop even at 1905.


    Half Smoke Platter

    Click to add a blog post for Noelia Restaurant on Zomato

  • 24Jun

    We have tried some great dishes and products in the last week. I still have a few of Tracy’s cheesecakes to try, so don’t be surprised if I write about them again soon. This business just relocated to Burke from Japan (2 months ago) so show some support to these new (to the area) desserts. The cheesecakes are light, fluffy, and delicious, and have a great crust containing several kinds of nuts. Tracy’s delivers (in more ways that one)!

    As far as Crum’s, Bungalow in Alexandria/Franconia carries about a half dozen of these great Alexandria-based hot sauces, and they don’t even charge for it, like the 50 cents they charge for that teeny amount of BBQ sauce you see in the image. I always feel like I am being swindled when Bungalow’s charges me for BBQ sauce, so I only eat there on burger nights (Mondays). The waiters don’t even mention the charge.


    Click to add a blog post for Bungalow Billiards & Brew Company on Zomato

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