So we’ve all been saying it in hushed voices while knocking on wood – this Summer has not been NEARLY as bad, hot, or disgusting as last. When is the REAL DC summer going to get here? It’s been moderately pleasant outside, as opposed to the more oppressive heat we dealt with last year. That said, although we may not be face-of-the-sun hot this summer, we’re still somewhere around the Sahara from time to time. And what is better on a hot day than cold food? On your hottest days you’re not craving a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup and a nice meatloaf – oh no, you’re craving a Popsicle.
So, as we head into the hottest month of the year in DC, I’ve rounded up some good, cold food choices for you to nosh on while you stay cool. I include a bunch of local area restaurant’s offering and a do-it-yourself recipe from David Varley at BOURBON STEAK. Keep reading.
The first, and easy answer is Gazpacho, aka cold soup. You can find Gazpacho all over the city, almost every decent DC Chef has whipped something up this season, and everyone has their personal favorites. Mine is the chilled tomato consommé from Westend Bistro that I wrote about for Eat Like Me in July. But they’re certainly not the only place you can find chilled summer soup. Nage has a roasted Tomato Gazpacho, with Avocado, Fresh Crab at their Scott Circle location. The Ajo blanco Malagueño con uvas, or traditional white gazpacho of Malaga with grapes, is a delicious and elegant summer soup offered at Jaleo. Jaleo also had one of my favorite gazpacho’s on special a few weeks ago, the tomato almond gazpacho. Danny Bortnick, Executive Chef of Firefly recommends his Chiogga Beet Gazpacho with brioche croutons and chive oil for when the summer turns balmy. Poste does a great craveworthy heirloom tomato gazpacho.
You don’t even really have to go out for your gazpacho. In fact you can stay in the comfort of your own home and whip some up for yourself. David Varley at BOURBON STEAK was kind enough to share his recipe for a chilled white gazpacho that you can make with ingredients from your local farmer’s market! Here is the recipe:
Chilled White Gazpacho
Serves 4 appetizer portions
2 c peeled seeded cucumbers
2 cups white grapes
2 cups chilled vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, germ removed
1/4 cup sliced sweet white onion
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sourdough bread cubes crust removed
1 cup lightly toasted marcona almonds
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and puree untill very smooth and silky. Do not be afraid to let the blender run for a few minutes to achieve proper consistency. Balance seasoning, strain and chill. To serve pour the soup into chilled bowls. Garnish with sliced red grapes, toasted almonds, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the small tender tips of fresh herbs.
Another thing that makes me think summer is Lobster Rolls. I love a good sweet and savory lobster roll with crispy fries and a beer. Especially since lobsters are freaking CHEAP right now. Restaurant 3 has a great House made Lobster Salad with Tarragon and Green Onion. Also in the running, Hank’s Oyster Bar serves up the signature item in a crusty special rolls with a side of Old Bay fries. Johnny’s Half Shell on Capitol Hill also serves up a pricer New England Lobster Roll with fries.
Another fun cold dish to seek out in the city? Ceviches. Ceviches are the perfect light and flavorful summer dishes. Oyamel has a few new ceviches on their menu including the Ceviche de atun Pacifico, Tuna with Maggi-lime marinade, scallions, avocado, toasted pecans and jalapenos served with an amaranth and cilantro salad. The Grille at Morrison House has a Razor Clam Ceviche in a Jalapeno and Orange Marinade. Ceiba also does a ceviche sampler enabling you to nosh on tuna, shrimp, bass and Peruvian varieties. And how could I forget the aptly named Ceviche in Glover Park? I’m pretty sure they’ve got it on the menu.
And how can we talk about cold food without talking about salads? But I don’t mean your boring lettuce, tomato and carrot salad. Oh, no. There are some really a-typical salads out there. At Urbana diners can snag the Tuscarora farms beet salad with Laura Chenel goat cheese foam, crispy candy striped beet chips, baby mizzuna and minus 8 vinegar. It’s a delicious, fresh, and a summer dish with winter ingredients (heavy goat cheese made into light mouse, heavy beets dressed in a light vinegar. Heavy sweet vinegar lightly drizzled on the plate). Zaytinya serves up a watermelon and feta salad that I adore. Firefly has a Housemade Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomato Panzanella (bread salad). Jackson 20 takes advantage of the season and serves up a great Alexandria Market Vegetable Salad with Peas, Pea Shoots, Baby Carrots, Herb Vinaigrette.
And how can I forget dessert? Jackson 20 has A Trio of Chef’s Choice Cookies and Ice Creams. Rustico in Alexandria has a Smores float: homemade milk chocolate ice cream with cream soda and a brick oven roasted smores on the side. They also feature Bourbon barrel stout ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and salted peanuts. For all the ice cream and gelato recommendations you can handle, check out my frozen treats guide.
So what are your cold food favorites in the city? How do you cool down in the dog days of summer?