• 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

  • 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

  • 21Jul

    Coffee. Whether it’s your go-go juice, your perfect beverage paired with morning zen time, or an emergency pit stop to survive those last hours at work … Hopscotch Coffee & Records in Winchester, VA has your bases covered. The menu skips past the specialty drinks (don’t worry, you won’t miss those mocha-frappa-double-shot-extra-whip-hint-of-bullshit-achinos) because the true, rich flavor of Hopscotch’s locally roasted beans are showcased throughout each latte, espresso, regular drip, and french press. Did I mention that the beans are roasted less than a mile from the shop? I’d say that’s as local as it gets. Nate Rhodes, the owner, has seven years of experience with coffee and really knows what he’s doing behind the counter. I give him mad props for not hiring a bunch of hipster wanna be teens attempting to make coffee with no experience dialing in espresso. He’s really involved in his business, and I highly appreciate that as a customer.

    As for my latte, there were no complaints. I tasted no acidity, and only bold, rich espresso with delicate steamed milk. The drink was not blistering hot, and not at all lukewarm. The kitschy atmosphere reminded me of an urban outfitters, but homier. There was pinball machine in the corner, and cases of records for sale. Modern art adorned the walls as well as a map you might find in a high school geography classroom. There were plenty of seating and power outlets for every occasion, whether it be a business meeting, date with friends, or a quiet study session. All in all, for a shop only opened for 3 years, I see it being as prosperous and delicious for many more years to come.

    -Jara (JMG), Guest Blogger

    Permalink Filed under: Drinks, Etc, Stores Tags: No Comments
  • 21Jul

    Everyone loves food. Everyone loves tacos. Everyone loves a good deal, and what’s better than buying two tacos and getting an additional for free? Few things come free in life, my friends, especially tacos, so when the opportunity comes, I say go and eat it.

    Such is the case at Fruitive, an all plant-based, organic-certified restaurant in City Center DC. I realize that the most popular type of tacos come with a meat base, but before you wipe Fruitive off of your radar because they don’t serve meat, believe me when I say Fruitive doesn’t sacrifice taste for health, just as they don’t sacrifice health for taste. You get the best of both worlds. Just peep the pictures and close-ups of the tacos I bought this Tuesday; I mean talk about total food envy!

    L to Rt: The Sesame Ginger, Tuscan, and the Southwest Tacos

    So, what exactly is this taco deal, and what exactly are your options? Every Tuesday, Fruitive holds a Taco Tuesday Special: buy any two tacos, you choose a third for free. Fruitive has three taco options: Sesame Ginger, Southwest, and Tuscan. You can mix and match, and try each one or, if you so desire, get three of the same flavor! I tried all three, but my personal favorite were the Tuscan tacos. The basil pesto “mayo” they put in them is an utter game changer, and the butternut squash totally tastes like mango. As surprising as that combination of flavors may be, it honestly works! The other two tacos were mighty fine, don’t get me wrong, but everyone has a personal favorite.

    So, if you’re someone who is a taco fanatic, someone who is looking for a new food joint, someone who is health-conscious, or someone who, like me, loves food with a great price tag, I encourage you to check out Fruitive’s tacos any Tuesday! The atmosphere is great, and the tacos are even better.

    I’ve included links to their website, official Instagram, as well as their main menu below, so click away, and I hope to see you there next Tuesday!

    -Mela (MEL), Guest Blogger

  • 17Jul

    Trappist Beer Travels is a new book for those who love Belgian Trappist Brews and are interested in the eleven Monasteries/Breweries that produce them. This is a great coffee table book for those who appreciate Belgian Trappist beers and their history. The book is well written and includes history, travel tips, information on the beers themselves, and beautiful photos.

    Included in this book are Orval, Achel, La Trappe, Rochefort, Chimay,  Westvleteren, Westmalle, Zundert, Stift Engelszell, Tre Fontane, and Spencer.

    Wait, Spencer? Yes, Spencer Brewery (Saint Joseph’s Abbey) in Spencer Massachusetts (6o miles from Boston) is even included. It is a shame the Abbey does not permit tours of the brewery or jam factory, but there is a gift shop, and you can join in mass services and walk the well-manicured paths. I actually didn’t know that we have a Trappist brewery here on the East Coast.

    Saint Bernardus Brewery has a bed and breakfast and is only a 25 minute drive from Westvleteren? That’s perfect for us beer nerds! The research trips “required” while writing this book must have been amazing!

    -JAY

  • 16Jul

    Oklahoma Joe’s at Dunn-Loring Metro is now District BBQ.

    We recently read Time Carman’s article entitled “District BBQ and three other runners-up for best barbecue in the D.C. area,” leading us to believe that more had changed at this establishment than just the restaurant’s name. We’ve been to Oklahoma Joe’s a few times, and after finding the pulled chicken and pork, and sliced brisket to be bland, mainly returned a few times for the baked beans, French fries, and chicken chili. We headed to the restaurant in question this weekend (hoping for improved BBQ), but when we arrived, they assured us the food had not changed at all. We were already there and hungry, so ordered the Grand Champion ($29.99), which includes sliced brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, pulled chicken (we substituted turkey) and three sides (not counting the bed of French fries the meat rests on).

    The Sides:

    Yes, we ordered two sides of beans, since it is something that is done well here. The chicken chili would have been a good option as well. Yes, we asked for extra pickles. The onion rings had a thick crunchy coating and were well-executed. No complaints about the fries either. We really wish they would add a vegetable side such as collards or some other kind of cooked greens to the menu. I realize that the closest Oklahoma Joe’s come to a vegetable is green beans in only one of its locations in OK, but now … the name has changed, so that excuse doesn’t hold. Green beans would suffice if they were fresh and prepared well.

    The BBQ:

    The pulled pork, turkey, and sliced brisket lack flavor, but are edible if you cover them in BBQ sauce (including their vinegar BBQ sauce). The ribs and burnt ends were enjoyable enough (because they already have BBQ sauce added).

    We wouldn’t travel out of our way to eat here, but it’s a decent option if you live or work nearby, are craving BBQ, and order well.

    Recommendations:

    • Burnt Ends
    • Ribs
    • Beans
    • French Fries
    • Onion Rings

    -JAY

     

    Permalink Filed under: Restaurants Tags: No Comments
  • 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

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