Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Bourbon Steak’s Cheese Program

Photo courtesy of
‘Cheese wheels at Bourbon Steak’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

I can think of few simple combinations that go together as well as meat and cheese–philly cheesesteaks, charcuterie and cheese boards, chicken parmigiano, heck, even the simple breakfast sandwich combines the super powers of a sausage patty and melted cheese. So it made sense when Brenton Balika, the executive pastry chef at Bourbon Steak, started a cheese program at the meat-centric restaurant in Georgetown.

The cheese program, which was officially launched in May of this year, has opened up a whole menu featuring eight to 10 cheeses at any given time. While the cheeses can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to complete, depending on the type, the restaurant typically goes through an average of 200 wheels of cheese per week and 169 gallons of milk, according to Balika.

I met with Brent to learn more about Bourbon Steak’s cheese program and to find out what goes into making cheese.

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Entertainment, Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Smackdown! Beer vs. Wine 2

Photo courtesy of
‘Glorious Cheese’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

When last we met for an epic drinks smackdown back in March, fellow WLDC author Kirk and I had our preconceived notions of which paired better with food – wine or beer – challenged and in some cases totally overthrown. I left with a heightened appreciation for beer and a fascination with the subject of food pairings. So when I was invited to attend National Geographic Live’s A Come to Cheeses Moment: Wine vs. Beer event, where beer and wine would duke it out over best pairing with cheese, it took little to convince me.

Wouldn’t you know that earlier in the day I was advised to kick the dairy habit for two weeks thanks to suspected lactose intolerance (my reaction? censored!). So my second drinks smackdown fittingly became farewell to my beloved cheese. Forgive me then if this reads more as an ode to cheese than to drinks! Sigh. I inhaled deeply as I entered the Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic headquarters, redolent with the stinky glorious aroma, ready to say good-bye.

It was a packed house, and we were incredibly lucky in our three distinguished (and humorous) presenters – Steven Jenkins, Joshua Wesson and Nick Funnell. Both Jenkins and Wesson are regular on NPR’s The Splendid Table – Jenkins is the first American to win the prestigious title Chevalier du Taste Fromage and Wesson is the author of Red Wine With Fish and a top sommelier, having opened Best Cellars in 1996. Funnell is the brewmaster for the Great American Restaurants chain and a winner at the Great American Beer Festival. They had an amazing depth of knowledge that I can’t hope to replicate, but I’ll try to give you a taste.

All of the cheese served was from raw milk, and Jenkins did point out that he had chosen obscure cheeses which might be difficult for us to get ourselves (you’ve just been challenged!). The price point of the wine was very reasonable, Wesson indicated, around $15 a bottle. Funnell had picked all local beers at roughly $7 a pint.

So let’s dive in! Continue reading

Alexandria, Food and Drink, News, The Daily Feed

New Cheese Guy

Photo courtesy of
‘Cheesetique bliss’
courtesy of ‘meanlouise’

Everyone’s favorite Alexandria based, wine and cheese bar has a new chef.  Cheesetique announced last week that they have hired Josh Andrus, formerly of Minibar, to head up their kitchen. Chef Andrus brings a presumably more sophisticated palate to Del Ray’s local cheesemonger and has already revamped its menu.  New offerings include several cheese centric sandwiches, salads, and small plates.  It’s yet another reason to spend time at this fine establishment.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Cheesetique

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘angela n.’

In my humble opinion, cheese shops are too few and far between. Americans settle for the lactic crap that comes in baggies at super markets and fail to enjoy the finer aspects of one of God’s greatest creations. Sure, cheddar melted over tortilla chips has its place, but there’s so much that goes unrealized in the world of cheese.  Fortunately, there’s a place in Del Ray called Cheesetique: it purveys the wonders of excellent fromage to the greater DC area.

Cheestique is, perhaps, the brightest star in the glimmering neighborhood of Del Ray, Alexandria.  Over the past few years, this quaint area has been a haven for simple, unpretentious restaurants that serve excellent food to the many young families that occupy the neighborhood. None is as well conceptualized or executed as the Cheesetique.  By day it serves as a specialized grocery with dozens of excellent cheeses and decent bottles of wine.  By night, it’s a wine and cheese bar that is the first stop for a date night, or as the romantic destination itself. The former iteration was my first exposure to it.

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Food and Drink, Fun & Games, Special Events, The Features, The Great Outdoors, We Love Food

We Love Food: Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor

Food and Wine Festival

Summertime is festival time, and I’m not complaining. After attending Savor a week ago, I had no idea what to expect going into The Food and Wine Festival at National Harbor. Would it be fancy? Would it be lame? Would they have enough food and wine to keep me happy? Actually, does anyone ever have enough food and wine to keep me happy? Is there enough food and wine in the world to keep me happy for life? Ah! So many existential questions, but I digress. Basically, Jasmine and I headed over to National Harbor with zero expectations, and wound up extremely happy, totally entertained, bellies satisfied, heads full of wine.

We took the water taxi over from Alexandria, quite nice. Pretty views of Alexandria and National Harbor, and I generally just love boats. Period. If you’re a regular reader, you already know that if there is an event or location near, on, or around water, I’ll like it. It’s a guarantee. So National Harbor already had that going for it, as the festival exhibitors lined the boat docks, so we were on water the entire time. Combine that with wine, and food, and I think you’ve got a total winner. Continue reading

Downtown, Food and Drink, Night Life, Penn Quarter

We Love Food: Proof Positive

A couple weeks back, myself and a few of the authors you see sneaking around this site had a casual dinner over at Proof in Penn Quarter. It’s a newer restaurant – actually, more like a very upscale “wine bar” – and it was suggested as an alternative to the usual pub meetings we normally have.

Their website proclaims the restaurant is “a Penn Quarter dining destination that exudes both contemporary chic and rustic warmth.” I’ll say this – they completely lived up to that billing.

While there’s some seriously good (and expensive) food on the menu, by far the most popular choices of patrons is their various charcuterie and cheese boards. Oh, and the bazillion bottles of wine scattered around. Just in case you weren’t sure what exactly they excelled in.

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