• 05Jan

    I’ve been a bit obsessed with Mexico City recently following a trip in November. It’s pretty fantastic (if you can handle the smog  and speak at least a bit of Spanish) – great art, great culture, amazing food, etc. – I’m going back this month. But in the meantime, back up here in the cold, I wanted to bring myself  back to a bit of a warmer state of mind, and what better excuse to use everyone’s favorite  winter warmer, the slow cooker?

    So I decided to try a spin on a DF classic – al pastor. So I polled a couple Mexican friends  (ok, exactly two) for a recipe, and combining them got a semi-coherent list of ingredients
    with vague proportions. But it sounded good, and I’m not big on precise measurements anyhow.  Also note that al pastor is generally defined by use of the guajillo chili, which I didn’t
    have handy. I used chipotle. I also had no pineapple juice, so that got mucked about a bit,  and obviously I slow-cooked instead or spit-grilling.Tasty, not authentic

    You read the title, right?

    I also added the onion because I thought it seemed right. It was.

    I used:


    • 2lbs pork butt country ribs, separated and stabbed repeatedly
    • 1/2 yellow onion, quartered
    • 11 oz cubed fresh pineapple


    • 2 tbs achiote (anatto) seed, ground
    • 2 tbs ground chipotle
    • 1 tbs garlic powder
    • 1 tbs oregano
    • 1 tbs cumin
    • 1 tbs salt
    • 1 tbs pepper
    • 1c cider vinegar
    • 3/4c water
    • 1 tbs agave nectar

    Preparation is wonderfully simple: put all the ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover and marinate overnight. In the morning before leaving for work, I poured everything into my trusty slow cooker, and set it on low for 9.5 hours (its longest setting, just because it’s not like I was getting home in less than 11) . I arrived home that evening to a gorgeous aroma from the pot, now happily keeping things warm, from which I heaped lovely, fall-apart tender pork. It was truly delicious alone, but over some rice (I suspect hominy would be good too) it was really awesome.

    The cooked marinade, by the way, is a keeper: this may become a go-to barbecue sauce for me: transfer it to a saucepan and let reduce. Thicken with cornstarch or flour, and toss the pork back in, you could make tacos. I’m just sayin’.

    Buen provecho!

     – MAW

  • 03Jul

    Mango Tree‘s Chef Nongnaphat Phanngam, popularly known as Chef Kate, is visiting from Thailand, and creating some wonderful Thai dishes. The last time we ate at Mango tree, it was a new restaurant. Two chefs later (Chef Kate is their third and is just visiting), the food is much improved.

    You can see Mango Tree’s dinner menu here. The menu includes many gluten-free options; the only items we ordered that contained gluten were the drunken noodles (egg noodles are used, not rice noodles) and creme brulee (because of the basil cake).

    Our main courses, the Sweet Tamarind Crispy While Fish (it was red snapper on that day) and Spicy Duck Curry (duck breast, red curry, pineapple, cherry tomatoes) were both excellent. The duck was our favorite dish of the evening. The fish could have used more sauce, preferably on the side (in a ramekin).

    The desserts were presented well and tasty. We ordered the Thai Tea Creme Brulee (which was deconstructed and included a basil cake) and Tapioca Pearls (tapioca pearls, coconut cream granita, grass jelly, rambutan, and jackfuit).

    At the bar, the Drunken Noodles (with shrimp) are the Spicy Siam cocktail are items you must order.


    Mango Tree Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 23Aug

    As sometimes happens, I was unable to stop myself. I didn’t need ground meat of any kind – I’m more of a whole-animal-parts guy – but it was there. Ground venison. I had to. The problem being, of course, that there’s no way I’m wasting that in a burger or ragu or whatever that’s going to totally just treat it like any other unidentifiable ground critter.

    Googling around, I came across this recipe for Korean style ground venison that looked like a nice way to get the needed fat and salt into the meat but also let its essential woodsy-ness come though. Also unable to help myself, I made a few adjustments.

    I used:20150817_193728

    1 pound ground venison
    2″ fresh ginger
    4 cloves garlic
    1″ fresh tumeric root plus an extra couple slices for later
    2 squeezes of raw agave nectar
    1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce mixed in 1/4 c water
    About 6 grams of coconut oil (maybe 1/2 tsp?)

    (Other stuff I’ll explain in a second…)

    1/2 a sweet onion
    1 jalapeno (diced)
    1/2 lb shitakes (clean and slice to taste)
    3-4 scallions (just the greens)

    Slice the onion and start it slowly caramelizing.

    Puree the ginger, garlic, and tumeric in a blender (except the extra slices). Brown the meat, add the spice mix, agave, and soy water. When the meat is almost cooked, add the ‘extra’ tumeric, finely diced. When all done, careful not to overcook, remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer.

    Now, your onions should be nice and caramelized. Add them, the mushrooms, and the jalapeno. Sautee that until done (just a few minutes), and remove with your slotted spoon to a serving plate. Plate the meat with the mushrooms (I did side-by-side, as you can see), and then jack up the heat under the remaining juices to create a glaze. Pour the glaze over both sides of the dish, and serve, topped with sliced scallion greens.

    It’s also low-carb and gluten-free and all that if you’re neurotic, but I ate the leftover meat with forbidden rice, and it was awesome too.



  • 23Apr

    Gluten-free baking in past years can be compared to trying to mix highly combustible materials. It has required such an accomplished hand utilizing a precise mix of ingredients to achieve an edible, tasty result. It therefore has been viewed as a completely intimidating task that many would rather steer clear from. However, with new products coming on the market each day, gluten-free baking might finally be more approachable for the amateur.

    I recently attended a gluten-free baking class hosted by Delight editor Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod. This particular event was sponsored by the Children’s National Hospital to raise awareness for their Celiac Disease Program and was kindly hosted at Wildfire Restaurant in Tyson’s. As usual, the food was fantastic and was accompanied with a surplus of great information. I would definitely consider the night a huge success.

    I have to say there is no one who is better informed about gluten-free cooking, baking or products than Vanessa. My head was spinning by the end of the evening, but I left feeling like I could conquer the world in my kitchen going forward. She provided us with slide after slide explaining the components of gluten-free flour blends and why certain flours are better for different kinds of baking rather than others. She also gave us tips on different substitute fats you could use to add moisture to your baked goods. My main takeaway is it is crucial to educate yourself about your ingredients and their consistencies and what other alterations you might need to make to a recipe to compensate.

    For instance, I learned that coconut flour is a great flour to use for baked goods, but you may need to use less sugar and add additional liquid for best results. I also learned the benefits of sorghum flour and how it has a smoother texture perfect for use while making pancakes and flatbreads as well as baked goods with a more bread-like consistency.

    Tapioca flour is apparently great as an additive for binding in gluten-free baking and works well to create crisp crusts and as a thickener for sauces. It has a sweet and starchy taste and is best combined with other flours like quinoa and brown rice flour. You should again use less sugar to compensate for the sweetness already present in the tapioca flour.

    As for the all-purpose baking flours on the market, I learned that is really crucial to read the listing of flours included. For instance, some blends are higher in starchy flours like brown rice and tapioca. Others are a blend of high proteins like millet, chickpea and amaranth. You need to be mindful of these blends when you purchase because they will have an effect on the baked good you are creating. The best blends should have a decent balance of both the higher starch and high protein flours to keep your baked good moist. You also want to make sure it has either guar or xanthan gum included as a binder.

    Overall, knowledge really is power. Gluten-free baking can be fun and rewarding once you become more comfortable. Instead of an intimidating challenge, I’ll now view it as an experiment to learn. For further information about the class I attended or future opportunities to attend yourself, feel free to contact me at Joyana [-at-] glutenfreenova [-dot-] com.


    Wildfire on Urbanspoon

  • 27Feb



    Gluten-free people are often deprived. While our non-gluten-free dinner companions can splurge on any delectable sugary treat on the menu, we are often left to look on in envy. But there are finally a good number of local restaurants who are catching on and spoiling the gluten-free population as well.

    I compiled a list below of my favorite finds in the area. I chose to highlight items based on their creativity and only listed them if they are staples on a restaurant’s menu. There are a few restaurants like Willow in Arlington or Wildfire in McLean that offer special seasonal gluten-free desserts. I purposefully did not include those on the list because they are not always offered. However, I strongly suggest you check them out when you can, because they are definitely worth it!

    1. Trummer’s on Main (Popcorn Ice Cream)- This is the most tasty and unique dessert I’ve found! The combo of sweet and salty is masterful and tantalizes the taste-buds. Not to mention the fun of the innovative presentation on the plate. This dessert makes the restaurant worth checking out on its own.
    2. The Great American Restaurants (Chocolate Waffle)- This treat is available at any of the Great American Restaurant locations. Its chocolatey goodness is delicious and I appreciate the original take on a flour-less chocolate dessert. Instead of the usual cake, it’s an actual waffle with molten chocolate inside! It creates a great combo of gooey chocolate and vanilla ice cream with every bite.
    3. Matchbox (Cherry Pistachio Cheesecake)- This sweet dessert is a refreshing change for the gluten-free diner. It packs a punch of flavors into its rich, creamy goodness. The cheesecake itself is mouthwatering and the pistachio and cherries complement it perfectly for a satisfying crunch.
    4. Rustico (Heart of Darkness)- Although this dessert is in essence a flour-less chocolate cake, it is different because it has layers! The cake is encased in a shell which is a thick cold layer of ganache like chocolate on the outside. Upon breaking it open, you have a layer of whipped chocolate mousse followed by the dense flour-less chocolate cake on the inside. They serve it with scoops of sherbert on the side. Delish!
    5. Wildfire (Chocolate Chip Cookies)- Sometimes simplicity really is the best. There is nothing over the top or fancy about these cookies, but that’s what makes them so perfect. For starters, they are the gooey, melt in your mouth kind of chocolate chip cookies, which I always prefer over the crisp ones. And they have perfected the blend of flavors so you would never be able to tell the cookies were gluten-free. I had to compete with my non-gluten free friends to keep them for myself!

    I hope you enjoy checking out these great treats for yourself. Happy eating everyone!


    Trummer's on Main on Urbanspoon

    Matchbox on Urbanspoon

    Rustico on Urbanspoon

    Wildfire on Urbanspoon

    Coastal Flats on Urbanspoon


  • 18Jan

    Gluten-FreeIt’s that time of year again! From January 19-25th we get to sample the best restaurants in the DC area at a discounted price. However, with limited menu offerings, this could also be a difficult event to navigate for gluten-free folk. So to make it easier for us all, I took this opportunity to scope out restaurants in the area with gluten-free offerings that are participating in Restaurant Week. Here’s what I found. (Restaurants with an * label their gluten-free items on their menus or have their own gluten-free menu available. Otherwise consult with your server.)

    * AGORA (Mediterranean Dupont Circle)-  AGORA%20MENU
    * B TOO (Belgian Logan Circle)- btoo%20menu
    Bandolero (Contemporary Mexican Georgetown) bandoleromenu
    Bellissimo (Italian Fairfax)- bellissimomenu (Gluten-Free pasta available)
    Cafe Dupont (Contemporary American Dupont Circle)- dupontmenu
    Capri Ristorante Italiano- McLean (Italian McLean)- caprimenu (Gluten-Free pasta)
    Carmine’s- Washington DC (Italian Penn Quarter)- carminesmenu
    * Chart House Restaurant (Seafood Alexandria)- charthousemenu
    * Daikaya Izakaya (Japanese Penn Quarter)- daikayamenu
    * Daily Grill- Downtown DC (Steak Downtown)- dailygrillmenu
    Darlington House- (Italian Dupont Circle)- darlingtonmenu (gluten-Free pasta)
    The Grill from Ipanema- (Brazilian Adams Morgan)- thegrillmenu
    Grillfish DC- (Seafood Dupont Circle)- grillfishmenu
    J. Gilbert’s- (Steak McLean)- Jgilbertmenu
    Jaleo- (Tapas Multiple locations)- jaleomenu
    Jardenea- (Contemporary American Foggy Bottom)- Jardeneamenu
    La Sandia- (Mexican Tyson’s Corner)-
    * La Tasca- (Tapas Multiple locations)- Latascamenu
    Laporta’s- (American Alexandria)- Laportamenu
    Lavagna- (Italian Capitol Hill)- Lavagnamenu
    * Le Mediterranean Bistro- (French Fairfax)- Lemeditteraneanmenu
    Lyon Hall- (French Arlington)- Lyonhallmenu
    M Street Bar and Grill- (American Dupont Circle)- mstreetmenu (wide variety of gf beers as well)
    * The Melting Pot- (Multiple locations)- meltingpotgfmenu
    Monty’s Steakhouse- (Steak Springfield)- montysmenu
    * MXDC- (Mexican Downtown)- mxdcmenu
    New Heights- (Contemporary American Woodley Park)- newheightsrwmenu
    Osteria Marzano- (Italian Alexandria)- osteriamenu (gluten-Free pasta)
    Oyamel- (Mexican Penn Quarter)- oyamelrwmenu
    RIS- (American West End)- RISrwmenu
    * Rosa Mexicano DC- (Mexican Penn Quarter)- rosamexicanogfmenu
    Rural Society- (Argentinian Downtown)- ruralsocietymenu
    Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse- (Multiple locations)- ruthchrismenu
    STK- (Steak Downtown)- stkmenu
    Toro Toro- (Latin American Downtown)- torotororwmenu
    Trummer’s on Main- (Contemporary American Clifton)- trummersrwmenu
    * Urbana Restaurant- (Contemporary Italian Dupont)- Urbanarwmenu
    * Walker’s Grille- (Contemporary American Alexandria)- walkersgrillemenu
    * Water and Wall- (Contemporary American Arlington)- waterandwallrwmenu
    * Wildfire- (American Tyson’s Galleria)- wildfirerwmenu
    * Willow Restaurant- (Continental Arlington)- willowrwmenu
    Yayla Bistro (Mediterranean Arlington)- yaylabistrorwmenu

    -JPM (Joyana)

  • 14Jul


    Wildfire hosted another gluten-free four course dinner and wine pairing recently at their restaurant in Tyson’s Corner. As usual their superb skills in preparing gluten-free meals provided an evening in dining decadence that cannot be compared. An interesting twist to this particular evening was that for the first time, the menu was so enticing it even brought in non-gluten-free diners to participate. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to one of these non-gluten sufferers, who enjoyed the meal so much he swore he’d be back next time!

    I also have to agree that this was one of my favorite Wildfire events. From the beginning appetizers of spinach ricotta bites and olive bruschetta, I was hooked. The first course of herb crusted salmon was so fresh and prepared so perfectly, it literally melted in my mouth. The other culinary highlight of the evening was the white chocolate banana s’mores bar. Made with coconut, cinnamon and marshmallow, it was such a unique and tasty blend of flavors, I only wished there was more after finishing.

    Overall, the food portion of the evening can only be described as absolute perfection. Being pregnant at the moment though, I unfortunately have less to say on the wine pairing portion. However, I brought my sister along with me for the fun and she was more than happy to act as my wine taste tester. She declared them all to be great choices, but her favorite stand out of the night was the Lock and Key Meritage ’11. She described it as a full-bodied red that had a rich blend of flavors. I took a sip or two myself from her glass and I have to agree I also found it to be delicious. I will definitely be getting a bottle myself to enjoy for post-pregnancy time.

    The entertainment portion of the evening was also enjoyable. Editor-in-chief from Delight magazine, Vanessa Weisbrod and her husband, Eric, spoke about the challenges of living with a non-gluten-free spouse. They provided humorous anecdotes from their dating days as well as informative tips about their day to day navigation through the compromises of living with someone who has a gluten allergy. I found myself chuckling at times while listening to their stories, because I could relate to some of their issues from living with my own non-gluten-free spouse. My husband and I always joke that his favorite thing about me ever going out of town without him, is that he gets to gorge out on gluten. I return home to find empty pizza and breadstick boxes every time. After listening to Eric and Vanessa though, I know we’re not alone. Apparently, it’s normal to stare longingly at the bread basket while my husband partakes and my husband is not alone in groaning to coming home to a meal made with whatever gluten-free substitute I’ve used that day. These are the sacrifices/compromises we all make for coexisting in peace and luckily with the advancements the gluten-free product providers have made in recent years, it’s not even as difficult for us all to be satisfied as it once was. Overall, the topic was well chosen and I do think enjoyed by all who attended that evening.

    All I can say is my sister and I returned home that evening with full stomachs feeling satisfied. And I know, I for one, am counting down until Wildfire hosts their next gluten-free event.

    -JPM (Joyana)

    Wildfire - Tysons Galleria on Urbanspoon

  • 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)

  • 08Feb

    I recently had the pleasure of attending a gluten-free beer and food pairing event at Wildfire Restaurant in McLean. Not only was this event a culinary treat, but it was also an opportunity to make new friends and lament over the difficulties of gluten-free traveling. Guest speaker, Eric Marrapodi from CNN, told us tales of his own travel mishaps while also providing tips learned along the way. The laid-back, friendly atmosphere, as well as the flowing drinks, allowed us all to swap a few more tales of our own.

    There were four pairings, each with their own individual taste and flair. First, there were appetizers of fried oysters and prosciutto and date flatbreads paired with Bard’s beer. I have to say, the flatbreads were actually one of my favorite options from the night, along with the jumbo lump crab cakes. The crab cakes were made with Wildfire’s homemade gluten-free bread and served with a dijon mustard sauce and a Redbridge beer pairing. Since going gluten-free, I have found very few occasions where I can enjoy crab cakes, let alone ones that were as moist and tasty as these. My entire table gushed and devoured every bite.

    The second course was a coffee crusted beef tenderloin with scalloped potatoes paired with Estrella Damm Daura beer. This was my favorite beer selection of the evening, although it was unanimously agreed by my table that the Angry Orchard cider and apple cinnamon bread pudding was the best pairing of the evening. Even my husband, who is not usually a cider fan, agreed the cider brought out the flavors of the bread pudding, while the pudding toned down the sweetness in the cider. It was definitely the perfect pairing to end a perfect evening. I departed that evening satisfied with a full belly and promising to count down in anticipation for Wildfire’s next gluten-free event.

    -JPM (Joyana)

    Wildfire - Tysons Galleria on Urbanspoon

  • 19Aug

    I had never been to New Hampshire before this week. I’m not really the outdoorsy type and I honestly didn’t know much about the area so therefore, I just hadn’t been tempted to go. But one of my husband’s best friends lives up there and we’ve been promising him a visit. So as we set on our journey to Martha’s Vineyard, we decided to tack on a visit to New Hampshire as well. What I found is that New Hampshire might now be one of my favorite places.

    Pic courtesy of Winter Hill Farm Market's Foursquare page.

    Pic courtesy of Winter Hill Farm Market’s Foursquare page.

    Yes, the usual entertainment consists of “outdoorsy” type activities. I was taken hiking and my husband’s friend does own a kayak and chop his own wood. But we also relaxed and enjoyed s’mores and a cook-out around a bonfire while watching fireworks. I was surprised to find the slower pace of life and friendly “small town” atmosphere strangely appealing.

    I was also blown away by the quantity and availability of great food. We divided our time between the rural area of Antrim, which has a population of about 1,400 people and the neighboring town of Peterborough which is a bit larger. As spread out as the area is, there are a number of great restaurants and fresh food available. In fact, some of the best food we experienced was from some unorthodox places. I had what might be the best ice cream I’ve ever had from an Airstream truck outside of a barn at Winter Hill Farm Market. A Kiddie cup is over two scoops. And when I say scoops, I mean HUGE bear claw sized scoops. The scoops then contain creamy, whipped heavenly ice cream with chunks of chocolate and other delights. The barn also sells other locally sourced products like maple syrup and fresh honey. There is also fresh milk, eggs and other products from the local farms.

    Gluten-free also appears to be the buzz-word up there. Every single place we went had homemade gluten-free bread and other available options. I enjoyed tons of great sandwiches like fresh grilled blue cheese and homemade cranberry relish, and Turkey Cobb with avocado and bacon. I also had one of the most amazing vegetable omelets I’ve ever had at Nonie’s Restaurant and Bakery in Peterborough. This thing was packed to the brim with fresh grilled vegetables and took up almost my entire plate! Every server I encountered not only knew the gluten-free lingo, they were fully able to accommodate my requests. Also every single restaurant or bar we happened upon carried gluten-free beers and ciders.

    Overall, it was refreshing to for once not be feeling like the outcast begging for the kitchen to accommodate my needs. Up in New Hampshire I felt like I was one of the gang with gluten-free being the norm. So while I was there visiting I stuffed my face and enjoyed every second. I think from now on I’ll be pushing my husband to go back for another visit.

    -JPM (Joyana)

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