• 11Jun

    What do Jaleo, China Chilcano, Oyamel, and Zaytinya: what do these restaurants have in common? They are all owned and operated under acclaimed chef and restaurateur, José Andrés! And, all three participated in the chef’s Dine N Dash event earlier this week on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015.

    Chef José Andrés’ 3rd annual Dine N Dash is an extraordinary event in which participating restaurants and food trucks gather together and serve limitless dishes and drinks to Dine N Dash’ers. Of course, many of José Andrés’ restaurants partook in the event (China Chilcano, Jaleo, Oya, Oyamel, Pepe, and Zaytinya), making it a total of 17 businesses in Penn Quarter of Washington D.C. serving hungry Dine N Dash’ers this year. Proceeds from this event will benefit World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization (which the chef is an active Chairman in) that passionately trains people to develop and nurture skills to build “smart kitchens.” Coming together for the love of food to support a great cause to help others? Pure brilliance.

    I was determined to hit all the Dine N Dash restaurants from 6pm to 9pm, but ultimately failed and hit 13 out of 17. Which honestly, in my opinion, is still pretty good for a first-time Dine N Dash rookie. Also, due to early morning work priorities, I was unable to attend the after-party at Carnegie Library (close to Ping Pong, Dine N Dash’s starting point), so I am intrigued to see photos and hear about what happened. I will be Dine N Dash’ing next year for sure, including the after-party.



  • 13Sep

    Last night we celebrated the harvest season of the most iconic fruit, the grape at Zaytinya. The restaurant’s third annual two-week grape festival runs from September 22rd – October 5th.

    The food and drinks were exceptional, with my favorites being the lamb dish (Mutancene), the granita, and the cocktail. The Mutancene was a masterful combination of lamb, honey, vinegar, almonds, dried plums, and apricots. The “There’s More Than One Way to Skinos a Grape” (cocktail) is a combination of Skinos, Verjus, Dolin Blanc, Fee Bros old-fashioned bitter, a lemon twist and garnished with frozen peeled grape. It is like the Summer Shandy or Arnold Palmer of the wine world and is delicious. The granita worked wonderfully, with the orange flower scented yogurt espuma, candied orange, and lemon verbena combining to elevate the granita to a level usually unseen in that particular dessert.

    We were served two great wines, Ktima Pavlidis Thema Red ( syrah/ agiorgitiko) and Thema White ( Assyrtiko/ Sauvignon Blanc blend).


    Zaytinya on Urbanspoon

  • 22Mar

    Two evenings this week, Cy and I attended restaurant events where some very tasty small dishes were served to us. The first of these events was at Gryphon‘s opening. The food was much better than most of the bars I have been to. While we were not fans of the fried cheese balls, there were some standout dishes including:

    The following evening, we attended the preview night for Zaytinya’s annual Greek Easter Celebration. This special menu runs from March 31st through May 5th. I always enjoy showing up at this event and finding several huge hunks of lamb turning on a spit. I loved the Apokreas cocktail, which is made from a combination of Metaxa, Verjus, and maple syrup and is garnished with red pickled quail egg and baby carrots. Some of the standout dishes were:




  • 09Apr

    Pearl Dive Oyster Palace's table at The Rammy Nomination Party.

    Lime Fresh Mexican Grill opened recently in Clarendon (and is opening a Pentagon Row location). The standouts here are the sopapillas (little round cinnamon flavored doughnuts), guacamole (I prefer the Abuela and Hombre), and their own salsas and hot sauces. They didn’t make one hot sauce or salsa that I did not like. They also carry a variety of hot sauces from other companies.

    You too can make lettuce rolls with tilapia. Either I'm upside down or the table is. 🙂

    Lately, I have been making French fries and tater tots as an excuse to use Cucina Antica‘s organic ketchup. It is tasty and very “fresh” tasting  for a ketchup. Their tomato basil tomato sauce tomato sauce is great as well, but while I have a bottle of their “La Vodka” sauce as well, I haven’t gotten to opening it yet. They also have a line of organic dressings, including the “Fat Free Tuscany” which is the  favorite of the few varieties “S” sampled on behalf of DCFüd.  In recent news, Cucina Antica has opened its first retail location in Westchester County, New York, off of bustling Route 117 at 333 N. Bedford Rd, Suite 118, Mt. Kisco, NY; The retail store offers customers all-natural and organic products from both brands: Cucina Antica and Monte Bene.

    Zaytinya made enough lamb for me. 🙂

    Northside Social is a great Clarendon coffeehouse. My favorite items there are the Tuna Nicoise Salad (sushi grade olive oil poached tuna, capers, haricot vert (thin green beans), eggs, olives, lemon, and capers), cranberry ginger scones, cardamom biscotti, chocolate salt caramel tarts, chocolate espresso tarts, and both kinds of cinnamon rolls (one has frosting and one has a gooey topping). “S” prefers the frosted cinnamon rolls and the chocolate chip cookie tart (yes, it’s a tart). Their online menu does not list all of these items. They also have good coffee and a good selection of teas. Their upstairs space is a wine bar, and the downstairs space is a coffee house/cafe.

    Boqueria's quail eggs.

    Bangkok Golden is a Thai/Lao restaurant in 7 corners that puts out delicious food. You can order from the Thai or Lao menus, or opt for the buffet. JC Gibbs had been raving about this place in person and through her writing for quite a while, so I decided to try Bangkok Golden. I enjoyed the food so much that I ate there two more times in the same week.  The steamed tilapia with herbs (served in banana leaves) is a standout, as are the curries, and the crispy rice salad (which you get to wrap in lettuce leaves), but the menu is full of standout dishes. This is hidden gem you must seek out!

    This is REALLY good stuff!

    Boqueria is a new tapas restaurant in DC. The last Food Blogger Happy Hour was hosted there, and we tried some great tapas. Some of the standouts were the Cojonudo (Fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast), Tortilla Española (Spanish omelet), Pimientos de Padrón (Blistered Shishito peppers, coarse sea salt), Patatas Bravas, Buñuelos de Bacalao (salt-cod fritters), and a dish that included anchovies on toast.

    Zaytinya gave us lamb’s tongue! Not in my words: “Through April 22nd, Zaytinya is celebrating Greek Easter by featuring delectable Mediterranean-inspired dishes presented  by Head Chef Michael Costa.  Throughout the two-week festival, guests can enjoy a Chef’s Experience menu featuring a variety of spring lamb dishes, as well as the return of the popular lamb sandwich cart and Easter cookies.  Guests can also toast the holiday and the return of spring with two cocktails created especially for the festival. ” In my words: I was wonderful walking into a room and seeing several lamb roasts side-by-side roasting on a  spit. They had some great dishes at the media preview for this event. Some of our favorites were the lamb sandwich, lamb tongue, spanikopita, and the Easter cookies. The cookies were extraordinary!

    The Guacamole at Lime.

    We also ate well at the 2012 Rammy Nominations Party! I’ll share a category with you:

    “New Restaurant of the Year  A restaurant that must have been opened between December 1, 2010 and November 30, 2011 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.

    Elisir Restaurant by Enzo Fargione
    Hill Country Barbecue Market
    Pearl Dive Oyster Palace”

    Many wonderful restaurant served food at the event, but in my mind, Pearl Dive’s table was an instant hit! They served a great assortment of fresh and tasty seafood including some stupendous West Coast Oysters. It was fun watching people trying to peel humongous shrimp while holding a plate and glass of wine.

    The rest of the finalists are listed here, and are the shining stars of the industry. Maybe next time they will all give me humongous shrimp and oysters and it will be a really long article. Did I mention that the mixologist finalists were on hand? We had some wonderful cocktails that evening.


    Bangkok Golden on Urbanspoon

    Lime Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

    Northside Social on Urbanspoon

    Zaytinya on Urbanspoon

    Boqueria on Urbanspoon

  • 11Nov

    Staflion Granites

    On Tuesday evening, it was standing room only at the Grape Festival tasting event at Zaytinya in Northwest DC.  The Grape Festival aims to remove the grape from its relegated corner in fruit or chicken salads and the occasional sole Véronique, and thrust it into the entrée spotlight.  Personally, I have never done much with grapes beyond eating them straight off the vine in the bag.  However, Zaytinya’s Chef José Andrés, Chef Michael Costa, and the rest of the team aspire to turn the grape into an ingredient worthy of the dinner plate.  Each of the seven courses served made use of the tiny fruit in exciting and delicious ways.

    Kavouras Me Agourido

    Upon arrival, a host walked me to the Blue Room, which had no tables.  A handful of very large glass containers of what appeared to be olive oil provided a balance to the minimalist décor.  A waitress proffered a tray holding angular cocktail glasses filled with a bright purple drink.  The name of the cocktail was Bacchanalia, and tasted very much like icy, spiked grape juice.  I mean that in a good way; it was really rather grape-tasting, not an artificially-flavored concoction.  The drink contained Balcones Rumble, lemon juice, house-made grape syrup, and a dash of Peychaud’s bitters.  The tart taste complimented the richness in some of the courses being served.

    Gariddes Me Ouzo

    A couple waiters came through the crowd of about fifty or so, bearing trays with dolmades.  They looked traditional on the outside, but a mixture of butternut squash, rice, pine nuts, and tarragon filled the inside.  A lemon yogurt sauce had been drizzled over the plate, and the dolmades placed on top, finished with a little fleur de sel.  Served warm, the grape-leaf appetizer was delicious.  For those of us used to eating our dolmades cold, it’s a pleasant change.

    The trays that came around next contained Roka Salata.  A small skewer

    Lamb Chops Agourides

    held a couple of baby arugula leaves, a cube of house-made sheep’s-milk myzithra cheese rolled in chopped almonds, a thin slices of radish, and a split grape dusted with sumac.  The cheese was very creamy, and the sumac was something new for me.  I enjoyed the pungent flavor contrasted with the sweetness of the grape.  I would recommend the Roka Salata as a side salad to any entrée at Zaytinya because the flavors are amazing.

    Wait staff bearing trays with wide, brushed-finish spoons made their way through the crowd soon after the skewer salads.  Mounds of

    Roka Salata

    crab salad filled the spoons; served chilled, the salad mixed crunchy and soft textures with a bit of grape broth in the bottom.  I detected crisp apple pieces and chopped fresh grapes, as well as the tang of yogurt in the mixture.  The official name of this dish is Kavouras Me Agourido, and I would recommend it as a lunch entrée, perhaps with the Roka Salata.

    After the crab salad, a few trays came through with a shrimp dish, but I missed out.  Luckily, the wait staff made their way through the crowd again, and I was able to partake in a delicious bite of

    Butternut Squash Dolmades

    heaven.  A single shrimp nestled with a piece of grape, a piece of green olive, and was sprinkled with dill.  It tasted buttery, salty, and a little sweet and was served warm—not to mention, it had been marinated in ouzo.  However, the ouzo did not overpower the dish.  The proper name for this dish is Garides Me Ouzo, and the Bacchanalia cocktail complimented the rich flavor very well.

    Following the shrimp, the wait staff brought around trays of what appeared to be pieces of sushi drizzled with a little olive oil.  The

    Barbounia Tilihita Se Klimatofila

    little rounds were warm though, and turned out to be red mullet, wrapped in grape leaves and stuffed with sultanas and roasted garlic.  Quite frankly, the sultanas and garlic were overwhelmed by the fish.  I suspect that in entrée-sized portions, the fish would be balanced by the other flavors.  The red mullet tasted very fresh, and was grilled perfectly.  The official name for this dish is Barbounia Tilihita Se Klimatofila.

    Following the red mullet, trays with tiny bone-in lamb chops came through the crowd.  The meat was juicy and tender; small mushrooms and chopped grapes rested on top of each tiny chop, and a white wine reduction had been trickled over each.  The mushrooms were a variety I had never heard of—honey cap—and truthfully, they tasted similar to a portabello.  Of course, it’s possible that the lamb was so delicious that it took center stage in my mouth.  The proper name for this dish is Lamb Chops Agourides, and I highly recommend it; the Bacchanalia cocktail seemed just the right drink for the lamb chops.

    The last tray to come around contained desserts in a shot glass.  Served chilled, the glass held what tasted like a mousse topped by a granita.  I was half right.  An orange blossom yogurt cream had been piped into the bottom of the glass, and it was topped by a grape granita.  Fine diced grapes, candied orange peel, and a tiny mint leaf completed the dessert.  I must admit that the orange blossom flavor was overwhelmed by the strong-flavored grape granita.  The textures did contrast well with each other, and the creaminess of the yogurt complimented the tart in the granita.  The official name for this dessert is Stafylión Granites.

    Between the trays of food, I ducked to the back of the room and hit up the wine-tasting table.  Zaytinya offered four different varieties consisting of a red, rosé, and two whites.  I began with the red, which was made from a Greek variety of grape, the Limnio.  The sommelier told me that Aristotle wrote about the Limnio, and the wine itself is still made in Greece.  The wine actually smelled a little buttery and had a very smooth, light-bodied taste.  It was served at room temperature, looked very clear in the glass, and had strawberry and jammy flavors.  The rose was made from Cinsault grapes and Lebanese in origin (described by the sommelier as “a microclimate between two snow-capped mountains”).  It looked clear in the glass, served very cold, and was faintly tart.  The taste was fruity and silky smooth, with the tartness balancing the sweeter fruit flavors.

    The first white I tasted was made from a Greek grape, the Moschofilero, and was served very cold.  It was very clear in the glass, and it smelled fruity.  The wine tasted tart, light-bodied, and had a faint apricot flavor.  The second white I tasted was made from a Greek grape, the Bianco, which now grows in Sicily.  This wine smelled yeasty and was clear in the glass.  It tasted oaky, full-bodied, and lingered a little in my mouth.  I would highly recommend this second white to compliment any of the dishes I tasted at Zaytinya.



  • 21May

    What an event!  A text from my eating companion says it all, “This is heaven!”  Zoofari, a fundraiser at the National Zoo, happened last night.  With over 100 D.C. restaurants in attendance, it’s all a blur to me.  I do remember fish was the most fashionable ingredient of the night.  And that Blue Moon was the beer of choice.  Oddly enough, I spent two hours at the zoo and saw no animals, unless, of course, you count the woman with 5 Georgetown Cupcake morsels on her plate.  (And I’ll freely admit I’ve argued against boutique cupcakes in the past, but those were pretty damn good cupcakes!)  If I can remember correctly, I’ll share some highlights of the evening.  But again, I rolled out of the zoo last night like  a Violet Beauregarde blueberry.

    Mike Isabella of Zaytinya and Top Chef fame offered a melon popsicle.  Too bad melon isn’t in season yet.  Shouldn’t he know that?  The Source, sans Wolfgang Puck, served delicious dumplings – just one more tasty tidbit that reaffirms its place as one of the best restaurants in D.C.  BLT Steak had mini-burgers.  Mini-burgers that made me crave White Castle instead of their big brother.  Rocklands roasted a whole pig.  Belga Cafe had a few variations of a Belgian waffle.  I opted for the traditional topped with chocolate and whipped cream.  The waffle was warm.  Morton’s was a let-down.  Sure, there were a lot of soups topped with crab and various foams that I passed on, but a steakhouse, and a famous one at that, should not be serving teeny tiny slices of beef on a huge potato roll.  Tail gaiters can do better!

    I wish I could remember everything.  It all became a blur after a while.  And unlike a top news reporter or blogger extraordinaire, I was more concerned with not dropping my food and drink rather than taking notes and pictures.  But trust me, there were rows and rows of restaurants, beverage stations with wine and beer, and musical acts interspersed a long the way to keep the people happy.  Sure, Central, Chef Geoff and his offerings, and Zola are all a blur.  But it’s a good blur, and one I’d be happy to experience again.  But next time, I’ll be sure to pace myself.  One can’t eat so much delicious food so quickly!  It makes for gastro-intestinal mayhem and foolishness.

    Oh, and I almost forgot, I don’t remember who it was, but someone was serving what was essentially bacon juice soup topped with a goat cheese foam.  Yes, my friends, heaven it was.


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