The latest chef to be eliminated from FOX-TV’s MasterChef series was Scott Little, a resident of Annandale, Virginia. Little found himself on the short end of a dessert challenge, failing to impress judges Gorden Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich with his strawberry shortcake. His tenure on the show was marked not with drama or emotion, but with a dedication and passion to learning more about his chosen craft from his fellow contestants and the three acclaimed culinary experts.
My wife and I had the enjoyable pleasure of talking with Scott and his wife Johanna about the experience and sampling some of his cooking. Over the course of the afternoon, Little shared about the show, his passion for cooking, and his future culinary vision.
Our gathering occurred over the weekend after the massive storm that swept through the region on Friday evening. Power in several northern Virginia neighborhoods was still out; the Littles only got theirs back on that morning. Scott had to scramble through three area grocery stores to find enough ingredients for our meal. “It felt like one of those Mystery Box challenges,” he says after greeting us at his home. “I ended up pulling together an hors d’oeuvres from ingredients in my garden.” Continue reading →
Like most people, I was excited to try out Sixth Engine, with a lot of the appeal coming from its setting: a historic firehouse house built in 1855 and the oldest in Washington, DC. Located north of Chinatown in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood, Sixth Engine serves modern American cuisine and comes to us from the team behind Capitol Hill’s The Dubliner Irish Pub.
I went there last week and even though it was freezing outside, the place was packed. Owner Gavin Coleman and team did a great job with the decor, though I wish the second floor didn’t feel so separate from the first: think doors, steps, and more doors. The industrial feel was appreciated albeit expected, and the furnishings and fixtures added to that historic appeal.
The food different story. Before I get to the negatives, the wine menu was uninspired and pricey, so I went for a regular cocktail instead and everything I tried was pretty good, so maybe the trick is to treat Sixth Engine more like a bar. The menu had many different options — it isn’t often that you see spaetzle on the same menu as a linguine. The prices were average (still on the high side) for the neighborhood, though more than worth it if the food turned out to be stellar. Unfortunately, that was far from the case. Continue reading →
Once again hosted by Chef Todd and Ellen Gray, the event highlights all things sugary and sweet, with chefs showcasing their confections. Of course, leashed dogs are welcome and encouraged to attend. So walk around with your favorite four-legged friend and eat desserts and doggie hors d’oeurvres respectively.
New this year: you can also meet contestants from TLC’s show Next Great Baker.Held Wednesday, February 1st, at the Ronald Reagan Building, the event begins at 6pm with the VIP Chefs’ Tasting Room followed by the General Reception at 7pm. Click here to purchase tickets.
After driving right by it and then almost walking past it, I finally made it into District Kitchen. It’s not really as bright in the dark as the picture makes it appear to be. Open just almost two weeks, the Woodley Park restaurant has almost mastered its customer service skills, and it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.
On the inside, District Kitchen looks rustic, simple, yet open. It reminded me of almost a Sonoma/Graffiato hybrid, but with more space to move around. The restaurant only sits about 70, but it feels like there’s more room and not like you’re sitting so cramped in. And, don’t expect to hear others’ conversations…not because it’s quiet or because there’s great noise absorption, but because it’s so loud you won’t be able to distinguish who is saying what. Still, I liked the ambiance…cool and neighborhood-centered.
As more restaurants are doing these days, the menu is printed on card stock and divided into: Snacks, Small Plates, Salad & Produce, and Mains. There aren’t too many choices, so you won’t be overwhelmed by an almost unmanageable selection.
Lunch Box collection; Image courtesy Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Beginning in the 1950s, television transformed the lunch box from an ordinary food conveyor into a storyteller. The screen-like sides of the lunch box offered kids a new form of self-expression. Since then, the lunch containers carted to and from offices and school classrooms have reflected American culture. Certainly, no meal received more cultural “attention” than lunch.
Box makers paid for the right to use TV shows to promote lunch box sales. The studios used boxes to gain market exposure. And children acquired a new statement of their power and influence in the emerging world of mass-marketed consumer goods.
This selection of boxes and their drink containers from the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History explores that colorful heritage. And to spice up what may be a loooong day at the office, share with us what your favorite lunch box was while growing up!
This month saw me head to Spain for a family trip, where I ate my weight in jamon. To prepare for the trip I didn’t bother learning any Spanish, but I did make sure to eat a ton of American comfort food so I wouldn’t miss the land of my birth. And that land is one of Chinese take out, Wolfgang Puck, and nachos. It’s a complicated land, but it’s mine.
Where I Ate: Smith Commons, The Source, Fireworks Pizza, Ted’s Bulletin, Young Chow, Bourbon Steak, Meridian Point, Le Pain Quotidien, Ventnor Sports Bar, Lyon Hall, Sushi-Ko, Wisey’s.
Bethesda Row’s Spring Restaurant Week kicks off this Monday, April 11 and runs through Sunday, April 17. Participating restaurants include: American Tap Room, Café Deluxe, Jaleo, Lebanese Taverna, Mamma Lucia, Mon Ami Gabi, Parker’s American Bistro, Raku, and Redwood Restaurant and Bar, who will offer two course lunches for $15 and three course dinners for $30.
Standouts in these pre-fixes include American Tap Room’s Open Faced Meatloaf Sandwich, Raku’s Green Tea Crème Brulée, Redwood’s Crispy Salt Cod Croquette and Jaleo’s Ensalada Verde con Queso Idiazábal (mixed greens with Idiazábal cheese, spanish anchovies and garlic anchovy dressing). Diners can preview the restaurant week menus before making reservations at the Bethesda Row website.
courtesy of ‘furcafe’
This month got off to a bit of a slow start food-wise. I had a few lackluster meals and a few blah-worthy chain restaurant lunches that didn’t bode well for a month of culinary excellence. I ended strong though, with trips to Bar Pilar, Urbana and my new love of my (edible H St.) life, Ethiopic. If it wasn’t for a superb crab cake at J&G, the lamb tibs at Ethiopic would take the cake as my favorite dish of the month. I also ate at a lot of old favorites, but tried to branch out. Sometimes it worked (the rice bowls at Surfside), and sometimes I didn’t (why I ever stray from the T.U.B.S. sandwich at Ted’s I’ll never know). But as always, I ate well, and I ate plenty.
Now that the weather is starting to turn for the better (don’t mind that pesky rain), all I can think about is eating and drinking outside. And in Washington, where the appropriate outdoor dining season is about two weeks long, it pays to be organized. That is why we’ve put together our favorite spots to sip a beer or have a bite on a patio, deck or sidewalk. Enjoy them, but if you take the last table at one of our favorites, we’re going to be seriously mad.
Some months I go fancy, others I don’t. I definitely erred on the side of casual this month, going so far as having a grilled cheese sandwich at not one, but three restaurants. Take note, fancy restaurants, I don’t find many things more satisfying than butter, bread and cheese cooked to gooey perfection. Did I just call the new burger? Is it the grilled cheese? I sure hope it is.
The snapshot verdict: Quaint, cozy, charming French restaurant with food so good you won’t be able to stop raving about it for weeks.
Entering Bistro Cacao can be a bit of a puzzle in itself. Located next to the Mexican restaurant, La Loma, and at the site of the old Two Quail, Bistro Cacao has you walk through an almost unmarked door, make a weird left, and then navigate a flight of steps to get inside. All this makes sense given that once you’ve walked in, you feel far removed from the bustle on Massachusetts Ave.
Like many Capitol Hill restaurants, Bistro Cacao calls a townhouse home, and the design is something to be admired. It looks thrown together, but it works because it comes off as unique and not manufactured. You’ll see antique lamps, huge chairs, and thick, red drapes. It accurately describes itself as “Old-style Hill Venue meets New-style French Cuisine.”
’264/365 – estadio’
courtesy of ‘dracisk 365/365′
It was a big month for me food-wise this January. I ate at a lot of new to me restaurants that treated me well (Estadio, Masa 14, Againn, Room 11) some new to me restaurants that didn’t treat me so well ([redacted]), and some old favorites that stayed my favorites (Tackle Box, Ted’s Bulletin, Market Lunch, Sticky Rice). And it was a big month for favorite dishes, so much so that some of my standards aren’t making this month’s best dishes list. Fear not, Brick sandwich from Market Lunch and tater tots from Sticky Rice, you’re still numero uno in my heart. Especially you, duck confit from Cork, Mommy loves you most of all.
courtesy of ‘Steve Snodgrass’
I learned a lot about myself this month. I learned that white anchovies are the way to my heart if maybe not the best way to a second date. I finally, officially learned that there is a reason I’m not stick thin — because fatty food tastes good. I learned I like whiskey more than I thought (sorry parents!). And I learned that eating at a Waffle House and a Hooters in the same day does not spring me in to spontaneous white trashedness. I also ate a whole lot this month, so it was pretty tough to narrow down everything I loved. As a result, you’ll notice the honorable mention category down at the bottom for those few dishes that came in a close second in the race to the top.
There are days when all you want to do is eat lots and lots of chocolate. You don’t care who sees you, and it’s not completely outside the realm of possibilities that you will visit not one, not two, but multiple stores in search of something to quench you thirst for something sweet. As a girl who has been down that road a time or two, it can be a bit embarrassing to run out of the house in your sweats and unwashed hair to blindly search for chocolate. But what if there was a way to justify this lapse in presentability by doing it in the name of learning? If you can make peace with that jacked up reasoning, then D.C. Metro Chocolate Tours is for you.
The tour is in its infancy here, but began in Boston over twenty years ago when a man who loved chocolate figured that lots of other people did too. Not until his daughter moved down here to attend George Washington University did he set his sights on our nation’s capital. They’ve only been operational for about six weeks, but judging from the tour I went on, already has quite a following.
After last month’s time as a vegan, I felt this month I owed it to my grease-loving, carb-loading, over-eating side to indulge. And indulge I did. I ate more burgers and subs this month than I do in a normal calendar year, and I seriously think I’m better for it (though my cholesterol probably has something different to say about that). Two trips to Taylor Gourmet, where I learned that though I love an Italian hoagie, I am officially a cutlet hoagie girl, and a road trip full of gravy-loaded dinners made for a happy and not so healthy customer. Maybe next month will be better? Because December is such a great month for eating healthy, working out, and getting lots of sleep…or something…
October wasn’t exactly a regular eating month for me. I was in China for two weeks (where I dined on delicious, delicious things that I won’t even try to identify), I spent a few days eating every random thing in my fridge to clean it out before my trip, and the rest of the month was spent mostly dedicated to Vegan Week. By all accounts it shouldn’t have been a hallmark eating month, at least not in any D.C. locations, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well I did eat.
courtesy of ‘c00lmarie’
This month was a strange one for me food-wise. I ate out of a food truck the same day I went to a five star wedding at 2941. It also marked my first ever trip to Taco Bell (not the same day). I tried poutine for the first time and introduced people on three separate occasions to the tasty barbecue at Capital Q. I tried to get in my last summery foods, the entree salads and the light meals, and now I’m ready for some stew and things with melted cheese on them. But until the weather officially changes, I’ll remember my September meals quite fondly…
I usually use this intro text in Eat Like Me to pontificate ($10 word! I win!) on what part of dining out in DC I’ve been thinking most about recently. This month I’ve been thinking more about styles of restaurants.
I would be the wrong person to be food editor if I didn’t say that I love every kind of restaurant, and have an affection for most styles of restaurants. I can get behind a chinatown hole in the wall, and love a simple stainless steel tea kettle just as much as I can get behind a Georgetown patio with fire pits and fancy cocktails. I’ve been mostly thinking about what draws me in and makes me love a place more than another.
I think it’s in the details. (For me, most things are in the details.) I think about the places that I love eternally – Againn, Et Voila!, Westend Bistro, and have been trying to figure out what strings them together, aside from the obvious good food. At Againn, aside from the seasonal, thoughtful food, I love the details of the restaurant – the tiles that line the walls are the same tiles used in the London Underground. The fox and hound door knockers on the bathroom are something I make sure to point out to anyone who goes to Againn with me. And the details bring me back to Et Voila!, too. They serve coffee with steamed milk, and wrap fries in newsprint. The skylight adds sunlight and charm. Westend Bistro’s pass lets me take a look into the belly of the operation, and makes me appreciate the work that goes into the food. I’m starting to believe it’s the little things that bring me back to a place time and time again. It’s the little things that make me answer my most hated question of “What is your favorite restaurant” with a different answer each time.
This month the details were where it’s at. Birch and Barley’s pastries, an addition of wasabi to mashed potatoes at Zentan, and the perfect whipped frosting on a Georgetown Cupcake. Lovely, subtle details are available at every type of restaurant, but here are the best of the best of April. Continue reading →
Spring is a lovely time in Washington – this isn’t a revelation. But it’s a perfectly pleasing time to be eating out in our city. Chefs are getting excited about spring farm produce, and menus are waking up from their brussel-sprout-and-short-rib trance. Fish makes it’s way to a more prominent place on the menu, and cherry cocktails celebrate the turn of the season. The arrival of Zaytinya’s Easter festival makes me think of sundresses, and the announcement of RAMMY nominations makes me want to strip off my tights and thrown on some open-toed heels. These events that make DC the perfect place to eat in spring, and I’m oh-so-happy to be back here again! Continue reading →
The theme of February 2010 was snow. SNOW EVERYWHERE, in flurries, in blizzards, in mounds. Even I was hesitant to head out in the big storm, only making it out once when I made it over to Westend Bistro to sit at The Pass on Sunday night after Round 1 of the storm had settled. Restaurants in our area struggled to stay open, they weren’t able to get wait staff in, shipments of food weren’t making it through the snowy streets, and even if places were open, it wasn’t the same turnover they would normally get on a Friday or Saturday night. It was a tough month – places were hurting after the break, and institutions like Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup ran happy hours this month to make up for it. I’d encourage you to get back out there in March and support your favorite restaurants, they’re hurting, and don’t you need to get out of the house anyways?
But that PSA isn’t what I’m here about. I’m here about all the things I ate in February that I loved. Unfortunately, when you combine being out of commission for 7 days stuck in my apartment, along with February being a short month, and I think I have broken the record for LEAST amount of places eaten in one month. I did much more cooking for myself than letting others cook for me. Luckily, this short month, when I did eat out, was full of DC classics. I was still able to hit a few of my favorites, and wound up with some delicious dishes, regardless of the time constraints. Continue reading →