• 30Sep

    Eat Spain Up! is a month-long annual cultural event celebrating Spanish food and heritage. It rotates cities, but we are lucky enough to have it in D.C. this year.

    I visited the Former Residence of the Ambassador’s of Spain in Columbia Heights to attend a talk and tasting that kicked off the program. The talk, given by Manuel Estrada, 2017 winner of Spain’s National Design Award, delved into the design process and looked at how design intersects with culinary arts.He designed the core creative for this program. The residence had been transformed into a gallery, highlighting Estrada’s works and important ingredients in Spanish cuisine.

    The tasting featured appetizers from Jaleo, Taberna del Alabardero, Mola, Pamplona, and more. It also featured Spanish cheese and wine, anchovies (boquerones), and Iberian ham, all of which were fantastic. The Iberian ham was rich and delicious, and one of my favorite offerings of the evening. Jaleo’s quince and manchego cone was not only fun to eat, but the sweet, salty combination made it crave-able. I also really liked the ceviche from Mola, which was light and refreshing. It was a bit disappointing to see that two places offered ceviche, while yet another offered octopus (pulpo). While representative of the cuisine, more variety would’ve been appreciated.

    Eat Spain Up! has events for the rest of September and October, including additional tastings, gastronomic discussions, and exhibitions. I love Spanish cuisine, and if you do as well, or want to learn more about it, you’ll be happy Eat Spain Up! is happening in the district this year.

    -LEM (Lia)

  • 16Sep

     

    If you’ve not had beer brewed by primates before, then you are in for a treat at Twinpanzee Brewing in Sterling (full disclosure: the owners, Antonio & Maha, are friends of mine). Twinpanzee, named for nicknames of the owners’ children, has been a labor of love, and a long time coming from these avid home brewers.

    Located in an office park, just off 267, Twinpanzee is easy to find and has plenty of parking. Open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you’ll find a range of beers, plenty of seating, and good times. Snacks are sold inside, but there’s a rotation of food trucks outside, and you’re more than welcome to bring your meal inside.

    I visited on the grand opening weekend and truly enjoyed my brews. My first pour was the Toasted the Coconutz, a brown ale with toasted coconuts and 4.5% ABV. Definitely my favorite, though I could go for even more coconut, and perfect for someone who doesn’t drink IPAs but also doesn’t want something light. After that, I went for the Far From Lonely, a kolsch clocking in at 5.7% ABV. It was light, crisp, and refreshing. The aptly named Bob’s Brown Ale was my last drink. This 4.5% beer was tasty, and good for someone who likes a simpler beer, but I prefer the coconut version.

    For those that love delicious beer and supporting small, VA-based businesses, you’ll be happy you checked out Twinpanzee. It’s got a great vibe, amazing owners (chat them up if you can!), and fantastic offerings.

    -LEM

  • 16Sep

    I love barbecue and food trucks, so when I stumbled across Hardy’s BBQ in Bethesda, I was beyond thrilled. There’s not much in the way of food trucks daily in Bethesda, but Hardy’s is open from 11-2 each Friday in the parking lot of the Montgomery Women’s Farm Cooperative, on Wisconsin Avenue. Their Facebook page is often updated with their other locations as well. The line forms early, but moves quickly. Staff is friendly.

    I’ve tried the ribs, wings, fries, pulled pork sandwich, and collard greens. The most popular option seem to be the two wings, two ribs, fries platter. The fries are served crisp, seasoned, and hot, while the meat is pulled directly off the smoker and onto your platter. You then get to add your sauce. I’ve only done the hot BBQ sauce so far, and it has a nice amount of heat, but it’s not overwhelming. The ribs just fall off the bone and the wings are smoky. Both are delicious. However, the pulled pork sandwich my favorite. A nice amount of well-sauced pork served on a lightly toasted bun is both filling and tasty. And the collards are fresh and not overcooked, and work well to balance the richness of the meat.

    Hardy’s has been in business for a few years now, and while more BBQ places seem to be opening up in the D.C. area, Hardy’s a place worth visiting and worth adding to your regular rotation.

    -LEM

    Editor’s Note:

    Hardy’s is a long-time favorite of ours and is located in the same Bethesda location Saturday afternoons. Try the chopped brisket with mustard sauce and the barbecued chicken. Check their twitter (@Hardys_BBQ) on Sundays to see if they are at a festival (like last week’s Takoma Folk Festival).

  • 11Sep

    It was raining and soggy outside, and that just always seems like the right kind of weather to be cooped up into a warm coffee shop. Conveniently located in old town Fairfax, De Clieu Coffee & Sandwiches is nestled perfectly within the hustle and bustle of Main Street.

    The overall vibe of the store is eclectic and quirky. There is a broad menu ranging from breakfast sandwiches, lunch specialties, gelato, and of course, coffee. Chemex, french press, and regular drip coffee are the basics they offer as well as espresso, cappuccinos, and an abundance of specialty drinks.

    The seating is scattered with not much room to breath, and close enough to the stranger behind you who can’t seem to slurp their coffee without making noise. This is definitely not the ideal place to study, enjoy a book, or have some peace and quiet especially during the peak hours of the day. It gets way too loud and more of a hangout and chat spot than a get stuff done spot. Although those are minor defects of a coffee place, I believe that the ambiance and overall vibe of a coffee shop is just as important as the coffee itself.

    I brought my coffee connoisseur friend named Ben, and he ordered an espresso. He really enjoyed it for its sweet, light, lemon zest like acidity. It was balanced correctly and was shockingly not bitter at all. Except for the fact that it was not served in the right cup, and therefore featured splatter from the machine all along the inside of the cup. it was regardless an okay espresso. I purchased french press, and it unfortunately was lackluster in my opinion. For a three dollar mug of coffee it sure did taste exactly the same as the kind I make from home. That being said, it seems like their specialty coffee drinks were more of what the overall customer’s desire. After trying their seasonal beverages, which taste great and definitely are more of focused on.

    De Clieu was alright, but there are better coffee shops out there. Unfortunately, De Clieu is not there yet.

    -JMG (Jara)

  • 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)

  • 16Aug

    Tacos seem to be all the rage these days. Not that they haven’t always been loved, but they seem to get more and more popular. Recently opened in my neighborhood (Arlington’s Columbia Pike) is the brick-and-mortar version of a beloved Mexican food truck, Tortas y Tacos La Chiquita. Don’t be fooled by the name–this place serves more than tortas and tacos.

    I had never been to the food truck, but was thrilled to try their new home. It’s small, but it’s brightly colored and plays upbeat music. Staff is friendly and helpful.

    Over two visits, I tried the asada huarache, carnitas quesadilla, and a variety of tacos: pollo, al pastor, asada, and pescado. Everything was excellent. Huaraches are like a bigger version of a sope. Fried masa topped with beans, cheese, cactus, and meat; you really cannot go wrong. If you’ve never had cactus, I recommend trying it hear. Nicely seared, it’s like eating a pepper. If I hadn’t been told it was cactus, I wouldn’t have known. The quesadillas are huge, and are filled with tomato and guacamole, along with cheese and meat. The street tacos are traditional: two tortillas, meat, cucumber, lime, radish. The standard red and green sauces are offered; I opted for the spicier red version. La Chiquita does not skimp on the fillings, so prepare to leave full. As for the meat fillings, my favorites, across all preparations, are the asada and al pastor. Both are crisp and flavorful. However, if chicken is your thing, this is probably the best chicken taco I’ve had, as the chicken is well-seasoned, but not dry. Pozole is offered on weekends. In addition to Jarritos bottled sodas, other drinks include tamarindo, horchata, and limonada.

    There are many places for Mexican cuisine, especially tacos, not only in Arlington, but in the D.C. area, and many are quite good. But you’d be doing yourself a favor to swing by this small restaurant on Columbia Pike and enjoy a meal.

    -LEM

  • 12Aug

     

    In the D.C. area, you can find a variety of Caribbean cuisine–Jamaican, Trini, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican. But it’s been a while since our region had Haitian food. Luckily, that void has been filled by Don Berto’s Kitchen.

    A pop-up held most Sundays in Silver Spring (held in the Afrik Grill/GOLF Lounge space), Chef Don Berto serves fresh, flavorful dishes from noon-7 p.m. The menu changes weekly, and their Facebook page is updated frequently.

    Popular dishes from this island nation include griyot (fried pork), rice and beans, mashed fried plantains, and pikliz (pickled vegetables). You’ll find that here (though the griyot tends to be turkey), along with snapper, goat stew, rum cake, and more. You’ll also find the national drink, Rhum Barbancourt, which is a good sipping rum. What you won’t find is MSG and Maggi (used quite frequently in Haitian cooking). Instead, the chef freshly mixes his seasonings.

    I had the goat stew, red snapper with rice and beans, plantains, and vegetables.  Everything was delicious. The goat stew is rich and filled with vegetables, dumplings, and plenty of goat. I’ll be looking forward to this in the colder months. The red snapper was beautifully done, and I could not stop eating it. The sauce coated the rest of the food on the platter and made everything more delectable. The portion size is good, but you must leave room for the rum cake. Soaked in rum, yet not soggy, it is the best version I’ve ever had, and you’ll be taking a slice to go, guaranteed.

    Chef Don Berto and his staff are welcoming and happy to answer any questions. You’ll be craving their food after just one visit, and you’ll want to return for the family-like atmosphere, friendly service, and maybe even stay for the kompa.

    -LEM

  • 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

  • 06Aug

    Chicken Thighs with Just Spices’ Blend, Chicken Seasoning

    Just Spices launched 12 new spice blends in the U.S. market on June 22. This follows the German brand’s initial launch into the States late last year. We sampled three of their spice blends:

    Hash Brown Seasoning: This was our favorite of the three products. We tried it on French fries and sliced oven-baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. Next time, we will try it on actual hash browns or latkes. The blend includes sea salt, salt, fenugreek seeds, paprika, garlic, cilantro, natural smoke flavor, nutmeg, turmeric, cumin, fennel seeds, black pepper, cloves, and chilli. It is odd though that they use both sea salt and salt in two of these three products, where sea salt alone would do.

    Chicken Seasoning: This blend worked well on skin-on baked chicken and includes sea salt, salt, natural smoke flavor, brown cane sugar, tomato, paprika, garlic, chilli, rosemary, thyme, sage, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, and black pepper.

    Flavors of India Seasoning. This salt-free blend includes fenugreek seeds, ginger, paprika, onion, cilantro, cardamom, and turmeric. It did not seem as well balanced as the other other two seasonings, and in the DC market (or NYC) we have an immense number of Indian spice mixes, products, and restaurants with which to compare this product’s flavors. Odd that they didn’t include coriander in the mix. Maybe the spice blend reflects what Indian food tastes like in Germany?.

    We recommend trying the Hash Brown Seasoning, and Chicken Seasoning  if you run across them in the states.

    Other products in this line include: Tofu Seasoning, Berry Yogurt Seasoning, Blossom Mix, Clean Eating Allrounder, Herbs de Provence, Pasta Alfredo Seasoning, Ranch Dressing, Sweet Love, and Vegetable Seasoning.

    -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

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