Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Ripple


Pumpkin Soup at Ripple, Courtesy of Elizabeth Parker

I checked out Ripple when they first opened back in 2010, before there had been much buzz about it, before the restaurant expanded and back when it was one of those restaurants that I just had a good feeling about. The restaurant has changed chefs and menus through its almost two-year history, but one thing has remained a constant: the food.

One thing that stands out right away when you go to Ripple is the presentation. There are thoughtful details on each plate, such as the rouge pumpkin soup that’s poured at the table for a little added effect. The thick, bright soup goes with a somewhat unusual combination of eggplant, pine nuts, cippolini and squid, and somehow it all works well together. If you want to go for something a little heavier, try the mushroom risotto with the poached egg nestled on top. The runny egg yolk and tender mushrooms over a bowl of hot risotto make for great comfort food on a chilly day. And whereas other restaurants have little bites or snacks that are tasteless throwaways, the bacon-roasted pecans are addictive and pleasantly salty and smoky. If you go and the pork rillette is back on the menu, don’t pass it up.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: A Look at Medium Rare

Photo courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi
service @ Medium Rare, Cleveland Park
courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi

I’ve wanted to try Medium Rare ever since it opened earlier this year but, for some reason I rarely make it north of Dupont Circle. However, I managed to make it to the steak-frites restaurant twice before I decided to write it up.

Simple concepts can be executed nicely and Medium Rare almost hits the mark. As you might already know, the restaurant’s menu is based around one main dish: steak frites. Unfortunately, it’s nothing to write home about as the steak’s sauce was forgettable. While the concept of Medium Rare is excellent, it’s hard to compete with many other places in DC that do a better steak frites.

I did like the restaurant’s décor–it’s dark, fun and energetic. The restaurant has a great vibe and is a good spot for a variety of occasions, whether you go for a casual date, with a group of friends, or with family. Medium Rare is a nice neighborhood place and always seems crowded.
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The Daily Feed

New Chef at Ripple in Cleveland Park

Photo courtesy of
‘Making gnocchi at Ripple’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

In the most recent chef news in DC, Logan Cox has taken the helm at Cleveland Park’s Ripple. Previously, Cox was the executive chef at New Heights and had also worked with Frank Ruta at Palena and Tarver King at Woodlands Resort and Inn in Charleston, SC. He started working at Ripple in May.

From the looks of it, the menu won’t be changing much. There’s a farm-to-table emphasis (which I’m pretty sure existed previously), and dishes like the crispy duck breast, gnocchi and baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies remain on the menu with slightly different twists. Cox studied for a  year in Italy, so perhaps we can expect this influence to peek through on the menu. For example, there’s a smoked quail agnolotti with hazelnuts and English peas that is available, according to a press release.

As for the previous executive chef, Teddy Diggs, word on the internet indicates he has moved to Martha’s Vineyard where he is the current chef at Home Port Restaurant, an 80-year-old institution. Sad to see Diggs leave Ripple, but it should be interesting to see if and how Ripple’s menu will change under the new chef.

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs – Teddy Diggs of Ripple (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Gnocchi with creme fraiche sauce, spinach and beans’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Man, am I a big fan of gnocchi. It’s easy enough to make. It combines pasta and potatoes, the two powerhouses of starchiness. What’s not to love? So since it’s unpleasantly cold this weekend, make a nice, warm bowl of this gnocchi, courtesy of Teddy Diggs, executive chef of Ripple. In the recipe, Teddy uses a potato ricer. I usually follow the Alton Brown school of thought that “uni-taskers are bad.” But a potato ricer is a fantastic invention. Once you have mashed potatoes (or this gnocchi) that went through a potato ricer, you’ll never go back. You can use a fork to mash them instead, and use a fork to shape the gnocchi (you are forgiven for not having a gnocchi paddle).

The full recipe is after the jump.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Teddy Diggs of Ripple (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Teddy Diggs of Ripple’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

At some point in our lives, most of us have had a moment where we stare at the television screen and say to ourselves, “That’s what I want to do with my life.” For some it’s fantasy but for others, like Teddy Diggs, it actually becomes reality.

Diggs, the executive chef of Ripple, grew up on the “old Food Network” as a kid living in Oklahoma. You know, back when Food Network was actually good (that’s my opinion, at least) and aired shows with real chefs, like Bobby Flay and Emeril. So after watching the pros, Diggs became more interested in cooking, went on to take culinary classes in high school in Chantilly, VA, and eventually attended the Culinary Institute of America.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Vace Italian Delicatessen

Photo courtesy of
‘Vace Italian Deli’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Vace in Cleveland Park isn’t just an Italian market, it’s a way of life. The best way to explain this is with this little story. A friend of mine loved the pizza from Vace so much that every time he ordered it, he never made it home without eating a good portion of his order mid-commute. Not so interesting? Well, let me set the actual scene. He would order a large pizza while on the train at Metro Center, head up to Cleveland Park and spend the walk down Connecticut Avenue to his place in Woodley Park chowing down on half his pizza. I certainly hope some tourists leaving the zoo snapped a picture of this crazy dude, box top askew with pizza down his face. Now THAT is love.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Dinner with Wine Pairings at Ripple

Photo courtesy of
‘ready for wine’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

I confess that as a foodie my knowledge of pairing wines with food is…shall we say, a little lacking. I’ve always deferred to the “experts” and wino friends for advice on what wines to buy and what to serve them with. So the Peter Franus dinner and wine pairing at Ripple seems like it would be perfect for someone whose knowledge of wine is limited to “white with chicken and fish, red with beef.”

The dinner on January 25th will consist of five courses served with Napa Valley wines from Peter Franus Wines. Ripple is a gem in the city and when I had dinner there in the early fall, every dish was great from start to finish. For this particular tasting, some of the courses will include slow poached eggs, crispy duck leg confit, a braised veal cheek and a spin on the Fig Newton. Wine selections will include zinfandels, sauvignon blanc and a cabernet.

Tickets are $90 per person. To make a reservation for the dinner, call 202-244-7995 or email danny@rippledc.com or theo@rippledc.com.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Palena Cafe

Photo courtesy of
‘palena’
courtesy of ‘AlissaS24′
There are plenty of restaurants here that serve smart American food, and there are plenty of places that serve burgers. But there are few that combine the two in a way that satisfies me when I’m feeling fancy and when I’m feeling like…well…a burger.

Selling Palena Cafe as a burger restaurant isn’t really fair. It resembles Five Guys just as much as the Hay-Adams resembles a youth hostel. Palena Cafe is actually the front part of Palena–a high end price fixe restaurant in Cleveland Park. Unfortunately located next to a pretty spectacular gas station, Palena has done a great job of still feeling cozy and warm and like the little bistro you discovered by mistake while studying abroad.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: 2 Amys

Photo courtesy of
’2 Amy’s’
courtesy of ‘aus_chick’
There are certain unalienable truths for me when it comes to dining out: I don’t like to eat at restaurants with tons of kids, and I hate waiting for a table. 2 Amys is one of the few restaurants that I actually overlook these issues and settle in for a sometimes loud, usually not immediate dinner.

2 Amys is a neighborhood restaurant at its core, though a neighborhood restaurant with a much broader fan base than greater Cleveland Park. The restaurant is small, even with the secret second floor and tiny back patio, and not really made for the tables of four or six that are forced to meander around outside, hoping that a few two-tops will finish at the same time. Continue reading

The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Cleveland Park

Photo courtesy of
‘ladybridgev1c’
courtesy of ‘melody.a.thomas’

Cleveland Park is the focus of this week’s Where We Live.  This neighborhood has so much to offer, including great Metro access, proximity to major attractions, charming residential character, and some very cool neighborhood hangouts.  It’s one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city, with its views of Rock Creek Park and tree-lined streets, and it is a bit removed from the urban grit of downtown.  Read on for more information on Cleveland Park, including how it got its name and what to check out when you’re there.

History: Back in 1793, an aide of George Washington named Uriah Forrest built an estate called Rosedale.  More estates were constructed in the area, a suburb of Washington City, throughout the nineteenth century.  This was considered an upscale suburb in that era, as the higher elevation and breezes were an escape from the hot, humid air of the city.  In 1886, President Glover Cleveland purchased a house in the area and remodeled it as a summer estate.  Even though Cleveland lost his bid for reelection in 1888, the name Cleveland Park stuck with the neighborhood.

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The Features

A DC Halcyon Day

Photo courtesy of
‘Smithsonian Castle 2′
courtesy of ‘tbridge’

Sunday was just about as incredible a day as we get here in DC. Perfect temperatures, brilliant jewel-toned sky with wisps of high clouds, and colors that popped. I went out with some friends to participate in a Ravenchase Adventure, starting at Presidents Park just north of the White House. With a package full of clues and DC-specific hints and puzzles, we took off around the National Mall, from John Paul Jones to the Enid Haupt garden and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Running from statue to statue, sculpture to exhibit, Mall to Penn Quarter, we gathered seven worksheets full of codes and clues, all to realize we were carrying the solution in our bag all along.

We ended with a late lunch at Matchbox. We walked tired back to the Metro and car, having covered 4.5mi of ground in the middle of the city; it was the part of DC we usually reserve for tourism, doing our own tourguide duty for friends from out of town. It was nice to get down to the Mall to get to some of the out-of-the-ordinary places like the Enid Haupt Garden where the views are so lovely. Seeing Jim Sanborn’s Antipodes, a very similar work to his Kryptos which is at CIA-Langley and remains unsolved, was a real treat. I had somehow missed it on previous visits, and it is absolutely amazing in person. Our clues lead us to a code for Ian’s wooden chest, but lead us into parts of the Mall we’d otherwise missed. Our day, though, was not quite yet half-done. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Dino (II)

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Dino Sinage by Shawn.L on flickr

Last August, Tom and Tiff checked out Dino for Restaurant Week. I was jealous. It sounded delicious, and the menu changes seasonally, so a group of girlfriends and I chose Dino as our big Restaurant Week pick this go-round. We certainly weren’t disappointed. Dino, unlike most other places, was offering their entire menu for RW diners, along with crostini and a complimentary glass of grappa, limincello or muscato. It was a truly thrifty deal, and cheesy tasty to boot! Plus I love it when places embrace Restaurant Week for what it is, and make it worth the diners time by allowing us to try anything we want off the main menu. It enables a place to show off, and I always think it’s admirable when a restaurant  decides it can handle whatever the crowds throw at it.

We sat down at Dino and were immediately impressed- the menu is huge, and the choices can be overwhelming. There’s antipasti, oggi, pasta, formaggi, secondi, and plentiful options for dessert. The menu is rustic Italian featuring the flavors of Venice and Southern Tuscany – we were in for a treat. Continue reading