• 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 $30 off of $50 on your first order on the right side of the dcfud.com homepage.
    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

  • 20May

    When it comes to living with allergies, there can be nothing more frustrating then trying to navigate the candy world. During Halloween, school or birthday parties, trying to read the ingredients on a candy package can feel like playing a game of Russian Roulette. But there is an easy answer that will not feel like a sacrifice.

    I would describe Sun Cups as an allergy friendly Reese’s cup. However, they even beat out the Reese’s cup by coming in FAR more fun flavor combos. Made with chocolate and a roasted sunflower seed butter they mix in a number of additional flavors ranging from caramel to mint chocolate. The result? A tasty nut-free, gluten-free treat for everyone! Some are even dairy, egg, soy and corn free as well. So load them in your purse or send them in to keep in your kid’s classroom and next time there’s a questionable allergy scenario there’s an easy answer that will still end in a smile.

    Flavor Offerings: Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Caramel, Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate

    Go to http://suncups.com/ for more information and to find selling locations near you.


    Permalink Filed under: Products Tags: No Comments
  • 17Jul

    USApples has a weekly selfie (with an apple) contest. Two weeks ago, a photo of a guy in a cubicle with an apple on his head won a Dizzy Pig‘s gift pack. My picture of a pirana attacking me while I was eating an apple won last week, so today I was happy to find a box of Brooks Tropical‘s fruit at my door. In the box was a lime, SlimCado, dragon fruit, and red papaya.

    Next week’s prize is a Tajin seasoning gift pack. Having tried Tajin’s seasonings, I recommend entering the contest.

    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs
    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs

    Weekly deadlines are the next five Sundays. The contest rules are here.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf


    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

  • 19Jun

    Crave Right cookiesCraveRight cookies are the newest craze in the natural foods market. After tasting and reading the “filler” ingredients in a lot of sub-par “healthy snacks”, they decided to create their own gluten-free treats from natural, ancient ingredients. As a small, start-up company from Alexandria, Virginia, they managed to succeed in not only creating a tasty snack, but also making their cookies completely allergy-free. They use no gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts or corn in their products. Therefore, their products are also 100% vegan.

    I have to admit when I first opened my pack of Crave Right cookies, I was expecting to bite into something that tasted like cardboard. I mean when they cut out so many ingredients, what can they do with what’s left? However, I was Crave Right cookies 2pleasantly surprised. I have tried all three flavors- chocolate chip, brownie and the sesame cookie. Each has their own unique taste that tantalizes the taste buds. The sesame cookie even manages to trick you with an almost nutty after-taste, which I can imagine for someone who has to steer clear of nuts regularly would be a pleasant surprise.

    All in all, Crave Right cookies are a definite must-try for anyone who is trying to follow an all- natural, allergy-free lifestyle. Or even just for people who like a new tasty gluten-free treat. Enjoy!

    -JPM (Joyana)

  • 30May

    pinch coverWe have tried some great products recently, and can’t wait to tell you about them.

    Pinch Dumplings  are awesome. They sell them at various farmer’s markets including the White House Market and Reagan Building Market. My favorites are the Shrimp & Pork, Traditional Pork, Traditional Lamb, and Lamb & Leek. The shrimp texture really pops nicely in the Shrimp & Pork dumpling. I can’t get enough of the lamb or pork versions either.  The dumplings come with a nice dipping sauce. Dan (the Dumpling Guy) really knows his stuff!

    We recently wrote about  NAR Gourmet (Turkish) products in a Test Kitchen article. The producer has since sent me two more jellies to try, peach marmalade and apricot marmalade. Are they actually marmalades? No, they are jellies. Are they good? Yes, they both taste great and are and very spreadable.

    Rana_Ravioli_ArtichokeWe recently sampled a box full of Giovanni Rana Fresh pastas and sauces. We loved everything we tried, including the Marinara Sauce, Pesto Sauce, Fettuccine, Cheese Ravioli, Cheese Tortellini, and Spinach Ravioli, but our favorite my the Artichoke Ravioli. Cy had to go to Safeway and buy more Artichoke Ravioli and Marinara Sauce. Safeway even carries Rana’s fresh Lasagne Sheets.

    We’ve been shopping at the  Springfield Butcher recently. They have fresh seafood (crab cakes, bacon wrapped scallops, salmon, grouper), house made BBQ ribs, ground elk or venison, venison brats, and various cuts of beef, pork, and poultry.

    If you are into jerky, read about Duke’s Smoked Meats in this article about Savor (the beer show).

    I recently started using T-fal’s Ingeneo pans. They are actually quite good and easy to store because they have interchangeable handles and lids.




  • 16May

    I attended Savor (the huge beer show) in Washington, DC  last night. I sampled some great beer at the show, and will show you some of the highlights. Let’s start with the oysters, which of course are great with beer.

    The Choptank Oyster Company was shucking their Choptank Sweets (Chesepeake Bay oysters), and serving them with lemon or one of three great sauces (ok, one was really a Champagne gelée so if more of a condiment) . The oysters were tasty, and my favorite of the three sauces was the Szechuan Chilli Mignonette, but the shucker’s favorite is Agave Kaffir Sauce.

    I attended a Salon (class) at the show: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer and Jerky. The presenters were Justin “Duke” Havlick (Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats), Mike Lawinski (FATE Brewing Company), and Jason Oliver (Devils Backbone Brewing Company).  Salon description: “Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats teams up with Devils Backbone Brewing Company and FATE Brewing Company to show attendees that smoked meats and jerky make for a quick, easy, versatile and most importantly, tasty partner for craft beer. Four beers will be perfectly paired with smoked meats and jerky from small batch producer Duke’s.” (Yes, they were good pairings.)

    I was new to FATE’s products, but they have only been in business a but over a year. FATE and Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats are both based in Boulder, CO.  Devils Backbone is local favorite for me since it is brewed in Virginia (and is excellent).

    Green Flash & Pork Belly

    I like Green Flash, this beer, and Pork Belly Brioche, but IMHO this was an unsuccessful pairing; the beer overpowered the food.

    My favorite of the 4 jerky’s was the Island Teriyaki Beef Jerky because I loved the chewy (but not tough) texture; it was paired with Devil’s Backbone’s Schwartz Bier, a German Style Black Lager. I very much enjoyed FATE Brewing Company’s Moirai IPA (with it’s grapefruit reminiscent scent and flavor); It paired well with the Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips. The Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips are nice because they are from a different cut of beef and is spicy; they were paired with FATE’s Barrel Aged Baltic Porter. The Traditional Dry Rub Beef Jerky is for the traditionalists; as someone who didn’t grow up eating jerky, it’s a tough chew for me since you have to gnaw on it. The Traditional Jerky (smoked with hickory and hops) was paired with Devils Backbone’s Striped Bass Pale Ale. BTW, Duke’s Shorty is delicious as well, although it was not part of the salon tasting.

    Most of the beer pairings were spot on, especially the ones paired with dessert. Below are some of the highlights. Yes, wild/sour beers and dessert pairing were common themes this year.




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View my food journey on Zomato!
View my food journey on Zomato!