Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Perfect Pairings at Flight

This photo perfectly sums up my night at Flight, DC’s newest wine bar in Chinatown. From the moment I stepped through the door, I was seduced by the simple, yet sophisticated amber-washed interior. So seduced that I forgot to take enough photos of the amazing food and wine. Sometimes drink writing is harder than it looks.

Luckily I snapped a photo of the tomato soup cake before we devoured it and drank all the madeira. I’m sure you’re a little curious, just like I was, as to what exactly tomato soup cake is. Put simply, think carrot cake only made with a can of tomato soup instead. But that just doesn’t do it justice. I was with a professed carrot cake hater who went crazy for it. I did too, of course. It’s spiced and sweet like carrot cake, but with a great tomato zing to it.

Spicy, sweet, a little fruity? Sounds like a perfect match for a glass of madeira. And hats off to Mike behind the bar for the awesome recommendation. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Sixth Engine

For someone who writes a column called “Friday Happy Hour,” I’ve attended dreadfully few happy hours since I’ve moved to this city. Unless you count late night Industry happy hour at Eat The Rich, in which case, I’ve done more than my fair share. But this past Tuesday, with the city practically shut down due to snowmageddon, happy hour sounded like a perfect reason to check out the city, all decked in white, and have a few drinks along the way.

This started out with the best intentions, but after the freezing five block walk from the bus stop to Sixth Engine, I was starting to regret my decision. Once I got my butt in a seat at Sixth Engine, I was there to stay.

First order of business was certainly going to be one of their winter warmers. Everything sounded great, but when the weather’s so gosh darned Scandinavian out there, nothing quite warms me up like a Swedish Punsch. Bonus if it’s served with spiced butter batter and grated nutmeg in the cheekily named Hot Butter Röm. Swedish Punsch is a spiced liqueur made from a base of Batavia Arrack, a Southeast Asian spirit very similar to rum and distilled from coconut sugar. It makes for a smart variation on the classic Hot Buttered Rum (or tiki drink if you’re at Hogo). Simple, warming, delicious – this might replace my morning coffee for the rest of the season. Continue reading

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Photo courtesy of Noe Todorovich
Color Block Bus Stop
courtesy of Noe Todorovich

Bright colors and straight lines can make simple, but fascinating, photo. Take Noe’s picture above. The framing lines of the windows, the plywood wall, the bus stop, even the traffic lines in the street, all make your eye go from side to side, and up and down, to explore the picture. And while your eye wonders, it is delighted with fascinating hues of purple, yellow, and maroon, to just name three (there are more). And then, as an added bonus, the people are there to give the scene scale; what at first looks like a small building/block becomes much larger once you notice the people. Truly a great shot!

Downtown, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Cuba Libre Hosts Pop-Up Paladares Dinners

Photo courtesy of amarino17
cuba libre
courtesy of amarino17

So you can’t jet off to Cuba that easily for a bite to eat, but perhaps you’ll find the next best thing in DC next week. Cuba Libre is hosting their second series of Pop-Up Paladares dinners June 12 through 14.

Cuba Libre’s chef and partner Guillermo Pernot is teaming up with chef Alain Rivera Santana from Doctor Café in Havana to create a four-course prix fixe dinner. Some of the dishes will include a fresh cod escabéche with lamb tongue and a beet salad, chilled mango soup, grilled yellow fin tuna and a fresh corn pasta cannelloni with a crabmeat filling. And since Cuba Libre is partially a rum bar after all, you’ll get to enjoy some of their rum ice cream for dessert.

The Pop-Up Paladares dinner is available at 6 PM and 8:30 PM on June 12-14 and is $45 per person (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 202-408-1600.

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Photo courtesy of Eric Spiegel
Piggy Back Ride
courtesy of Eric Spiegel

Random street sights can be random. Take Eric’s shot above. Who knows why this woman decided that she had to be that close to her friend. Was she tired from a day of walking; was she overcome by amorous feelings; or did she just want to piss off a friend? We can all look at this shot, and shots like it, and come away with a story as unique as this sight. And that’s why photographers keep taking street photos; it gets us a little further along in explaining the what and why of what people do.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

FREE FOOD ALERT: Soup at Ping Pong Dim Sum

Photo courtesy of christaki
ping pong
courtesy of christaki

So it’s not exactly soup weather and March is coming in more like a lamb than a lion, but Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown is running a pop-up soup shop today. And that means free soup for all of you who stop by the location from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. The restaurant will have complimentary coconut & kaffir lime soup with scallions and fried shallots. Bonus points: Ping Pong is giving out the soup in easy to-go containers, so you can grab, go and be on your merry way.

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features

Capital Chefs: Mike Isabella of Graffiato (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Mike Isabella’s Pork and Beans
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Pork belly, the stuff of Gods. And if you’ve had the delectable version at Graffiato, you know exactly what I’m talking about–melt in your mouth pork with that nice seared, caramelized outer edge, complimented by a roughly pureed bed of cannelini beans. Chef Mike Isabella shared the recipe with me in the most recent Capital Chefs which you can find after the jump. On a cold winter’s day, this dish is perfect.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features

Capital Chefs: Mike Isabella of Graffiato (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Mike Isabella of Graffiato
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Chef Mike Isabella describes himself as intense, focused and driven. And at first you might be intimidated by the tattoos or the serious face when he asks a line cook about a certain dish, not to mention his culinary prowess that landed him on Top Chef and as a runner-up on Top Chef All Stars. But then you mention you’re both from New Jersey or make an astute comment about a dish, and right away the ice is broken, the conversation is off to a start and you wonder how anyone could describe the chef as anything but affable and welcoming.

Like many of the chefs I talk to, Isabella started cooking at a young age just by keeping busy in the kitchen with this grandmother. “I loved the smell of her cooking. Helping her kept me occupied,” he said. From there, becoming a chef was a no-brainer. “This was the only thing I wanted to do. So I knew I couldn’t fail and I worked my ass off.”

The northern Jersey native started out at The Restaurant School in New York, followed by a stint in Philadelphia working with the likes of Stephen Starr, Jose Garces and Marcus Samuelsson. After Philadelphia, Isabella moved to Atlanta to work at a greek restaurant, Kyma, before coming to DC to be the executive chef at Jose Andres’ Zaytinya for three years. Today, you probably know Isabella best from Top Chef and from Graffiato, his Italian restaurant he opened in Chinatown this past summer. “I had grown up in New Jersey, went to New York and then Philly and Atlanta, but I couldn’t find the right fit for me,” Isabella says. In a goldilocks-esque moment, it turned out that DC was just right for the chef. “DC is the perfect size,” he says, adding that the farms in the area are a huge asset. “This city sticks together. We all [in the culinary scene] support one another and make each other better. Chefs here always welcome new people with open arms.” Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Chinatown Coffee Goes to Eleven on 11/11/11

Looking for a way to celebrate the very auspicious date of 11 11 11?* How about watching the movie that made eleven famous, This Is Spın̈al Tap. The phrase “Up to eleven” has its own Wikipedia page because of this movie, after all.

Chinatown Coffee has got you covered with a screening starting at 7:30, complete with drink specials. They will be projecting the film up on the wall while you sip your absinthe and think about what to name your next band.

*That is, a way to celebrate other than attending the grand meeting of Corduroy Club on the date which most resembles corduroy, 11|11|11. An event which I am personally hosting and thus this plug is very inappropriate, indeed.

The Daily Feed

Cuba Libre To Open On September 17th

Photo courtesy of
‘Cuba Street Sign’
courtesy of ‘Khirol Amir’

The embargo is officially over: Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar will open its doors on September 17th in Penn Quarter. With outposts in Philadelphia, Atlantic City and Orlando, the restaurant’s Washington opening marks a highly anticipated (and oft-delayed) addition to the city’s dining scene.

The restaurant’s 200-seat dining room will evoke Havana’s 1950′s golden age, placing guests in what will feel like a tropical outdoor courtyard. While the design takes a page from the past, the cuisine is all nuevo Cubano. Think lunchtime Cuban Bento Boxes, shareable tasting plates and flights of (sustainable!) ceviche. The menu – developed specifically for DC by the chain’s Concept Chef Guillermo Pernot – will pay culinary homage to the island’s African, Creole, Asian and native Tainos influences. If you’re more focused on the “Rum Bar” portion of the restaurant’s name, never fear: as Jenn reported back in January, the restaurant is known for its 75 varieties of rum and countless other cocktails.

To celebrate the restaurant’s opening, Cuba Libre will be offering 50% off its dinner menu from September 17th through 23rd. From September 24th through 30th, you can still enjoy 25% discounts before full prices kick in on October 1st. It’s the restaurant’s way of thanking patrons for their patience as they work out the kinks and settle into their groove.

Cuba Libre is located at 801A 9th Street NW. Closest Metro stop: Gallery Place/Chinatown (Green, Yellow, Red lines). For more information, call (202) 408-1600.

Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, We Love Food

We Love Food: Poste Roast

Photo Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

I love throwing dinner parties. In my head, they always turn out like the cover of Bon Appetit and there’s always enough delicious food and the wine is perfect and everyone is happy. But in actuality, the food is pretty okay, it never is all ready at the same time, and I usually forget to put forks on the table. I always just assumed that the perfect dinner party was in the same category as unicorns and leprechauns, but Poste Roast proves that is not the case.

Poste Roast is a genius special event put on by the fine folks at Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco. It’s part pig roast and part elegant dinner party. I admittedly didn’t really know what to expect when I forced seven of my closest friends to give over full control of their dinner and wallets to me that night, but I thought it was bound to be something memorable.

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Downtown, The Daily Feed

Neighbors Ask Fans To Keep the Beeps Down After Caps Home Wins

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

“FANS: As you leave the arena, please be considerate of our neighbors and use your horn only as a necessity. Thank You.”

The Capitals are having an immensely successful season, and as Ben noted earlier this morning, the squad just locked up their third straight division championship. Much of the success has been at home; until a shootout loss earlier this week, the Caps had enjoyed a double-digit win streak on home ice. The hometown crowd has certainly been enthusiastic in the Phone Booth, but some neighbors are now asking that the raucousness stay inside. reported that the sound of constantly honking cars after Caps wins at the Verizon Center have moved nearby parking facilities to ask fans leaving to not lay on the horn so much to celebrate. The above warning can now be seen on signs in the garage under the facility, and we’ll see how well it works come late-April now that the men in red are about to set off on another playoff campaign.

The Daily Feed

Stop the Billboard!

Photo courtesy of
‘Friendship Arch’
courtesy of ‘Rolenz’

The DC facade has undergone a few too many facelifts in the past decade or so, turning some neighborhoods – ahem, Gallery Place, Chinatown – into something reminiscent of a once (it’s getting a bit better thanks to NYC finally getting their act together) over-commercialized Times Square.

However, a few key residents of the Gallery Place neighborhood have joined together to stage an intervention.  Stop the Billboard, a website made public yesterday, hopes to raise awareness and gain support in order to “keep DC beautiful and free of outdoor color video advertisements“.  The residents behind the website are specifically outraged by the newest proposal by Gallery Place Partners LLC to install two, 12-ft by 40-ft ‘interactive’ billboards on the corner of 7th and G Street NW – which as the website states, “violates numerous District ordinances“.

If you want to learn more about this cause, keep DC architecture billboard free, or show your support – visit Stop the Billboard!

Downtown, Fun & Games, People, The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Damn, Crowded Metro Station! You Scary!

Photo courtesy of
‘not goin’ anywhere?’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Was anyone else at the Chinatown Metro station yesterday evening at around 6:15? I was, and I was pressed into the mass of humanity unsuccessfully attempting to move around the station. It all started because a red line train, which I was on, had to offload at Judiciary Square, thereby causing a delay that resulted in platforms down the line filling up. I got to Chinatown, got off the train and proceeded to work my way through a human traffic jam for 20 minutes. New trains would come in, but the platform was so crowded that passengers could barely get off and the doors would close before anyone waiting could board. This exacerbated the crowding problem and the platform just got more and more full. I’m pretty sure that no one died or anything, but I was witness to a few fights. The best part: this was just a Monday evening. Nothing special was happening.  I really do love mass transit.

(Yes, I know the picture’s not of Chinatown.)

Penn Quarter, The District, The Features

Photowalking: Chinatown/Penn Quarter

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘The Digital Story’

An intrepid group of 25 photographers met last night at the Friendship Arch in Chinatown to explore the neighborhood, take photos, and talk with visiting photo guru Derrick Story. It was a cool fall evening, but the light was good, and the company better still. Dig on deeper for the best of the bunch, or browse the whole tag at Flickr.

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Night Life, The Daily Feed

Photowalk with Derrick Story this Wednesday

Photo courtesy of
‘China Town Arch’
courtesy of ‘rgb48′

We’re excited that this Wednesday night at 6pm, Derrick Story, author of Pocket Guide to Digital Photography and proprietor of The Digital Story, and We Love DC will be putting on a Photowalk through Chinatown and Penn Quarter. We will gather at the Friendship Arch (pictured above) from 6:00 to 6:10, and we’ll probably walk about 90 minutes, before finishing at RFD at 7:30 or so for a round of tasty beverages on me.

We’ve also got a feature slot lined up on Thursday morning to feature your night shots of Chinatown and Penn Quarter, so if you can get a rough cut of your shots from the evening posted to our Flickr Group before 8am on Thursday, that would be most excellent. Let us know if you’re coming, just put a comment in the thread, and we’ll keep an eye out for you Wednesday night.

The Daily Feed

Awesome Coffee This Saturday

Photo courtesy of
‘Bourbon Organic Coffee’
courtesy of ‘Joe in DC’

Saturday afternoon presents a unique opportunity for DC’s coffee enthusiasts at Chinatown Coffee Company. They’ll be hosting a special cupping of some amazing coffee including the new Esmerelda Special from Panama. This is some incredible coffee, and your chance to have some for free is this Saturday at 3:30 at Chinatown. Take the metro on over, but don’t be late, the tasting is limited to the first 30 on hand.

Downtown, Entertainment, Food and Drink, Fun & Games, The Daily Feed

Party Like It’s 09.09.09, Oh Wait It is 09.09.09!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘The_WB’
Celebrate Niner-Niner-Niner Day with copious amounts of  Magic Hat #9 at RocketBar at 714 7th St NW in Chinatown starting at 7pm today.  Free Magic Hat t-shirts go to the first 99 people, there will be 3-for-$9 specials on all #9s and awesome giveaways like free rounds of beer to parties of 9, a custom cruiser bike and iPod shuffles.  Pretty solid marketing promotion for a tasty beer if you ask me. Hooray beer!

Downtown, Penn Quarter, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Penn Quarter

Photo courtesy of
‘Penn Quarter’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’

Another two weeks, another neighborhood!  This week we’ll be looking at the neighborhood at the center of it all: Penn Quarter. This neighborhood encompasses much of the downtown/Chinatown area north of Pennsylvania between 5th Street NW and 9th Street NW.  It’s a neighborhood that changed a lot in the past decade, seeing as it didn’t really exist before the 1990s.

History: This neighborhood is once again the heart of downtown DC, but up until recently it went through a pretty rough patch.  Because of its central location, the area was the hub of activity in the city up through the mid-twentieth century. Theaters, department stores, streetcar lines, restaurants, offices– this was the heart of the city (check out Washington Kaleidoscope’s Lost Washington series for historic photographs of the area).  But the streetcar lines were torn out, theaters were shuttered, and department stores closed their doors when the population base of the city escaped to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s.  Apparently President Kennedy commented on the sad state of this part of Pennsylvania Avenue during his inauguration, and in 1962 the President’s Council on Pennsylvania Avenue was established.

The President’s Council proposed a number of redevelopment projects in the area (including plans for a Freedom Plaza that would have rivaled the size of Moscow’s Red Square), and in 1972 the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) was founded to guide the redevelopment.  The PADC got a lot of things done: the Federal Triangle area was redeveloped and the Ronald Reagan Building was completed, the Canadian embassy was built, and a bunch of new mixed-use projects were undertaken in the Penn Quarter area.  The MCI Center (now Verizon Center) was a crowning achievement for the area when it opened in 1997.  With its sports events and concerts, it attracted restaurants and stores to locate in the area.  After the first stage of retail development, new downtown housing was built throughout the area, thus creating the neighborhood of Penn Quarter.  Today, the area is the most vibrant and active of the District’s neighborhoods– it’s hard to believe that fifteen years ago, it was considered to be an abandoned and dangerous part of town.

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Essential DC, Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, The District, The Features

Frozen Treats: DC’s Best Creameries

Photo courtesy of
‘Saturday Road trip’
courtesy of ‘gregoirevdb’

They tell me the first step is admitting you have a problem. So here it goes: I am shamelessly, hopelessly, horribly in love with ice cream. Now, I say ice cream, but in actuality, ice cream is a pretty generic term for what I really mean – frozen treats. I don’t care if it is gelato, custard, actual heavy-cream ice cream, or even italian ice. As long as it is sweet, and frozen, it qualifies. My partner in crime for ice cream loving is my friend Melissa, who has the genius idea to host an ice cream bar at her wedding. She’s the only one who truly understands my love. We’ll talk about going to a Nat’s game, and the first thing out of our mouths will be “OOOOH DIPPIN DOTS!” It’s a passion, not just a hobby, people.

So when I was informed that July is National Ice Cream Month, well, then, fine. That sealed it. I had to share with you, my dear We Love DC reader, my favorite ice cream (loose term) eateries in the city.
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