Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Rebecca Albright of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 2)


Montgomery Pie
Courtesy of Rebecca Albright/Linda Roth Associates

As that chill in the air grows, there’s one thing I’m always up for baking: pie. It’s comforting, rarely complicated and the smell of spiced fillings permeates my apartment with a delightfully sweet scent.

And what better recipe to have as we near the holidays than a recipe for a gingerbread pie. Pastry chef Rebecca Albright of Ted’s Bulletin shares her recipe for Montgomery Pie. Check out the recipe after the jump.
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The Features

ULTRA & Elkins: DC Faces at The Fridge

h.r. by ULTRA / aerosol and acrylic, 30 x 22 inches. 2012

It’s portraiture at its most local: to celebrate the opening of their new retail and gallery space, the folks over at The Fridge have put together two important DC-centric shows, filling their space front and back with provocative new works.

Quiet Walks in Dangerous Places

In the main gallery, the exhibit quiet walks in dangerous places showcases work by street artist Asad “ULTRA” Walker. ULTRA began his career as part of a DC-native go-go graffiti movement; and today his work in spray paint has changed the artistic sensibility of the district.

quiet walks in dangerous places is ULTRA’s first solo show. It focuses on portraiture of everyday people he has met in DC – people different from the ones you and I meet, unless you happen to be a graffiti artist out at 4am.

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Gallery Gab, The Features

Stocking the Fridge with Dana Ellyn and Matt Sesow

Rapture Draft (Hell No, We Won't Go), acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24"

When I regained power five blazing days after the derecho, I found myself first stocking my fridge and then attending the exhibition Stocking the Fridge.

The show – located of course at The Fridge venue in Eastern Market – includes nearly 100 paintings by DC power couple Dana Ellyn and Matt Sesow. Politically charged, invigorating, and provocative, it was exactly what I needed to kick my newly re-powered life back into gear.

Ellyn and Sesow are extremely prolific (perhaps you’ve heard about their “31 Days in July” project, in which they produce a painting inspired by the news every day for one month); and this exhibition shows off just how much they can do.

With both incredible artists in one place and paintings lining the walls from top to bottom, it would be impossible to cover everything in one article, or even one visit.

Here are a few standouts to give you some idea of why you should run to see this show before it closes later in the month.

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Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: The Bistro at Pound The Hill

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Back Patio at Pound The Hill
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Walking out into the back patio at Pound The Hill, it hits you: this is the slice of the outdoors that every Washingtonian wishes they had in their backyard. Even better than having it in your own backyard, is the fact that The Bistro at Pound has plenty of good food and wine to serve you, so you don’t have to be in charge of cooking for yourself. They launched the concept (coffee shop becomes bistro for dinner service) earlier this year and now that’s it’s off the ground running, I headed to Eastern Market to check out it out for the first time and see what they have to offer on their new summer menu, launching today.

The Bistro was born out of the owners’ desire to feature a menu that pulled from the group’s international inspirations. You’ll see dishes with a French influence, due to executive chef Jon Taub’s background, but also some Latin and Asian influences highlighted in the menu as well. Taub was previously the sous-chef at Station 4 and Art & Soul. While you’ll only find The Bistro in Eastern Market for now, owner Karl Johnson hints at future expansion, saying that they branded themselves with the father concept of “Pound [insert neighborhood]” on purpose.

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Duck confit at Pound The Hill
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

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Farm Fresh, Ward 6

Farm Fresh: New Tuesday Market at Eastern Market

Photo courtesy of ep_jhu
Eastern Market on a Hot Day
courtesy of ep_jhu

So I have to admit, I really do not love the outdoor farmer’s market at Eastern Market on the weekends. I’m not talking about the flea market with all the mirrors, animal hats and necklaces, I’m talking about the food part. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I don’t think repackaged baby carrots or oranges and bananas (clearly not grown in the Mid-Atlantic region) count as a farmer’s market. See, in the picture above, you see strawberries right next to apples. If you’re growing locally, the strawberries would happen for a few glorious short weeks in early spring and the apples arrive much later in fall.

When I go to a market, I want 100% local. And I want fresh, as in, vine to me in less than 24 hours. And sadly, I don’t see a ton of that at Eastern Market normally. But all this might change today with the announcement of the new “Fresh Tuesdays” farmer’s market at Eastern Market. Continue reading

The Features

King Me: An Interview with Laura Elkins

KING ME, Studies in the Uncivilized World, Installation View. Photo courtesy The Fridge.

Tucked back in an alley off of 8th Street in Eastern Market, The Fridge is an unimposing gallery space; and perhaps it’s that quiet intimacy that makes it such an interesting location for KING ME: Studies in the Uncivilized World – a show about authority and domination.

Showcasing works by DC artists, KING ME is at once political and quirky. It deals with power struggles over everything from gay marriage to consumerism and uses a variety of media, including thread, film, acrylic, and Tyvek.

Highlights include Seleshi Feseha’s obsessively-crafted thread collages, Stanley Squirewell’s striking use of mixed media, and numerous pieces by Laura Elkins, whose first lady self-portraits particularly stand out.

I sat down with Elkins to talk about some of her work on display at KING ME, and the inspiration behind it.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Ari Gejdenson of Acqua al 2 (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Pasta with beef ragu at Acqua al 2
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Clearly I’ve been on a bit of an Italian food kick lately. As well as a ragu binge. But is there anything better than a huge, warm pot of zesty, savory tomato sauce cooking away while it’s cold outside? Chef Ari Gejdenson’s recipe for beef ragu at Acqua al 2 is simple and delicious. Click through for the full recipe.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Ari Gejdenson of Acqua al 2 (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Chef Ari Gejdenson of Acqua al 2
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Watching executive chef Ari Gejdenson swiftly expedite plates at Acqua al 2, you’d never guess that he was previously an international soccer player and that the sport was what got him into the restaurant industry. For starters, playing soccer allowed the young chef to travel and be exposed to all different kinds of cuisines in foreign countries. And it was soccer that took Ari to Florence where he began his unorthodox journey to the kitchen. Not long after moving to Italy, he wound up opening Ari’s Diner, an American-style eatery. “I saw a gap and that it was something that was needed in Florence,” he says, adding that a lot of the clientele were American students who were studying abroad.

For Ari, playing soccer and running a restaurant aren’t so different, as he explains that in both arenas your job is to entertain people. “These homesick kids would come in[to the diner] upset. And they would come to this place that reminded them of home and they’d leave happy,” he says. “The whole idea of bringing people into a moment by heightening their tastes was what made me want to become a chef.” At Acqua al 2, you can see him work the room with ease, transitioning from calling out food orders to the kitchen to shaking hands and hugging regular customers.

After running Ari’s Diner with his childhood friend, Ralph Lee, who is a co-owner of Acqua al 2 in Eastern Market, Ari started working at the original Acqua al 2 in Florence and eventually served as the chef for several years there. Gejdenson says it’s hard to be in Italy and not get swept up in the incredibly rich food culture. “The passion for food in Italy is a different thing. You’d have to have a blindfold on not to notice,” he says. After years of living and working in Florence, the Washington native returned home to open the second U.S. location of Acqua al 2.

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Food and Drink, The Hill, We Love Food

First Look: Boxcar Tavern

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Photo courtesy of Tricia Barba

I went to Boxcar Tavern the first day (night) it opened – just two days before the New Year. When staring in from the outside it was impossible to see just how crowded it was, but upon opening the door, the excitement surrounding the new establishment was tangible. There were a lot of people (think standing room only) and it was loud and lively.

Boxcar Tavern is Xavier Cervera’s fifth restaurant on Capitol Hill. His empire includes Molly Malones, Lola’s Barracks Bar & Grill, and Senart’s Oyster & Chop House. With just one glance, those accustomed to dining on the Hill can tell whose baby Boxcar is. It has that “Cervera look.” The restaurant, situated right next to Tunnicliff’s Tavern on 7th Street SE in the old Petite Gourmet space, is long and narrow, filled with maple and marble decor. From the entrance, to your left is an elegant bar that stretches almost there entire length of the restaurant and to your right begins an endless row of small booths. Basically, it looks like Senart’s, just a bit darker.

Another similarity to Senart’s is Executive Chef Brian Klein, who is now running Boxcar’s kitchen.  The menus look the same physically as well; content-wise, Boxcar actually serves a Seafood Lasagna – my favorite dish at Senart’s before, sadly, it disappeared.

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Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Daily Feed

Give Back While Eating

Photo courtesy of
‘panettone inside’
courtesy of ‘willsfca’
The holiday season has arrived, and it’s the perfect time to start thinking about how to give back. It gets easier and easier every year – bring cans to work, send a text contribution, add an extra dollar to an online bill payment – you really have no excuse. Food lovers have a simple way to contribute as well. In the next few months many of my favorite restaurants are teaming up with local charities and coming up with creative ways to raise money. All you have to do is eat. Here are my top 3.

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Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, Penn Quarter, The Daily Feed, We Love Food

We Love Food: Quick Update on Restaurant Happenings

Photo courtesy of
‘America Eats Tavern- Washington, DC’
courtesy of ‘Plantains & Kimchi’

For those of you who avidly follow the food scene, this all might be old news. But to those of you who don’t eat, sleep and drink DC food coverage, here’s a little roundup on some of the latest restaurant happenings around DC.

Have no fear about not getting to José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern in time before it closes. The restaurant announced that it will be staying open through July 4, 2012–closing exactly a year after it first opened this past summer. Don’t forget that the “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?” exhibit, which served as inspiration for the restaurant concept and of which Andrés is the chief culinary advisor to, will close on January 3rd.

In “ancient” news by classic journalistic standards, Mike Isabella is opening a restaurant in the former Hook space in Georgetown. Hook and its sister restaurant, Tackle Box, had been closed since a fire in late June. Eater DC has a full recap of the drama behind how the story of Isabella’s new restaurant broke. All of that aside, Bandolero will be a “modern Mexican small-plates concept,” with dishes such as salsas, ceviches, tacos, and Isabella’s version of fajitas, according to a news release. Bandolero is set to open in early 2012.

Staying in the Georgetown area, PAUL Bakery has launched a second location in DC, which officially opened its doors on November 21st. The french bakery has enough seating for 30 to 40 patrons in Georgetown, or you can just grab a baguette to go seven days a week. PAUL had opened its first DC location in May 2011.

And lastly, unlike the other news about restaurant openings, The Washington Post reported that Ba Bay in Eastern Market closed its doors. As Tim Carman reported, Ba Bay closed “due to circumstances beyond our [the owner's] control.” No word on whether owners and cousins Denise Nguyen and Khoa Nguyen will open another Vietnamese-style restaurant or another Ba Bay elsewhere.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Free Beer Tastings at Acqua al 2

Courtesy of ThreeLockharts Public Relations

So many things, all wonderful and joyous, come to mind when I think of beer. So what better way to ease back into your week after Thanksgiving with some complimentary beer tastings?

Acqua Al 2 in Eastern Market is kicking off their new beer program with a week of free Italian craft beer tastings at the bar from 5:30 PM til 7 PM on November 28th til December 1st. Acqua Al 2 has more than 13 Italian microbrews available by bottle or on draft, including Moretti, Torbatta, Strada San Felice and more.

If one week isn’t enough, you can make a reservation for their Italian Craft Beer Dinner on December 5th at 7 PM. To secure a spot at the dinner, call the restaurant at 202-525-4375 or email Ralph at ralph@acquaal2dc.com.

Cheers, everyone.

Food and Drink

One Year Later: Acqua Al 2

more are and soul 003
One year later and I still want to call this fantastic Italian restaurant Acqua Al “Two,” so apparently I still need to brush up on my grasp of languages. Acqua Al 2 came to Capitol Hill a little more than one year ago thanks to DC natives Ari Gejdenson and Ralph Lee. The first location is actually in Florence, Italy and the other is located in San Diego.

Acqua Al 2 is long and narrow. You just can’t imagine how far back it goes when looking at the small front. Still, good luck trying to come here during dinner hours and not have to wait – it’s impossible. Thankfully, you have a bar to your right to hold you over (with extra seats). Or walk around looking at the plates encased in glass and signed/decorated by patrons.  

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 2)

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‘Walk of shame burrito from Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

We’ve all had a Saturday morning where we’ve woken up parched, head throbbing and stomach gurgling for something heavy and delicious to cure a bad hangover. Granted I tried Eric Brannon’s breakfast burrito for dinner (who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?), but I’d imagine on a weekend morning hungover or not, this burrito would really hit the spot. It’s easy enough to make, and certainly don’t feel obligated to eat it before noon. You’ll find the full recipe after the jump.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Eric Brannon of Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Eric Brannon serves up more than your average meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Since Ted’s opened a little more than a year ago, the chef has been serving up comfort food reminiscent of mom’s cooking but with more flair at Ted’s Bulletin in Eastern Market.

“I’m cooking food that gives you memories,” he says. “It’s so rewarding to have people come up to you and say, ‘This is like how my mom made it.’ It pays homage to folks at home.” For Brannon, his cooking is about revamping the simple and attainable classics, which is still a challenge.

The restaurant’s homemade pop tarts and adult (read: liquor-laced) milkshakes have generated worthy buzz around the city. This year the restaurant was nominated for a RAMMY as one of 2011′s Best Neighborhood Gathering Places, one of the few public vote categories. And he says new milkshakes, pop tarts and some fun entrées such as a Texas style brisket will be making their debut on the menu this spring.
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Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill, We Love Food

We Love Food: Seventh Hill Pizza

Photo courtesy of
‘Seventh Hill Pizza’
courtesy of ‘kspidel’

Last summer, in a fit of humidity-induced insanity, my friends and I decided to taste test non-delivery pizzas around town. There were seven pies, and in an attempt to branch out a little, I picked up one from Seventh Hill. I figured this Eastern Market spot (which no one had heard of before) would finish somewhere in the middle of the pack with perennial favorite 2 Amy’s coming out on top. In a Cinderella story that ESPN would surely have composed a specific theme song for, Seventh Hill came out of nowhere and clinched the win.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Ba Bay Kicks-Off Its Guest-Chef Dinner Series

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Photo Courtesy Ba Bay

The Vietnamese restaurant Ba Bay just opened late last year, and it’s already doing one of my favorite things — interacting with the restaurant industry, even highlighting other chefs. On February 27 Ba Bay will hold its first of monthly Guest Chef Dinners, and the restaurant wants you there!

The first chef to make an appearance in the Capitol Hill kitchen alongside Ba Bay Chef Nick Sharpe is Chef R.J. Cooper of Rogue 24, the Mount Vernon Square restaurant set to open in May. Together the chefs will put make a five-course meal dinner highlighting their interpretations of Vietnamese flavors and dishes. DC foodies will remember that Cooper was Sharpe’s mentor  while both worked at Vidalia.

The five-­course will cost $65  per  person, and for an extra $35, wine pairings are also  available. The menu looks delish. Continue reading

Food and Drink, History, The Daily Feed, The Hill

Senart’s Readies for Spring Opening

DSCN4684

Photo Courtesy Tricia Barba

Xavier Cervera’s Pacifico might still be working to get a liquor license, but Senart’s Oyster House, the restaurateur’s fourth Barracks Row location, looks more and more like a restaurant every day.

When I was putting together my list of 2011 Restaurant Openings, I noticed that Senart’s was originally “aiming” for a December 2010 opening. Of course, with the snails-pace that is DC sometimes, a “missed” target date is always expected. Still curious, I spoke with Shawn Case, one of Cervera’s right-hand-men. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill, We Love Food

We Love Food: Ted’s Bulletin

Photo courtesy of
‘Dine-In At Ted’s Bulletin’
courtesy of ‘[F]oxymoron’
Growing up on the mean streets of suburban Maryland, I ate at my fair share of diners. Silver Diner, Broadway Diner, Hoffberg’s Deli…the list goes on. There are obvious benefits to diner eating – major portions, the food you wish your mom made all the time (and made well), and breakfast all day. One thing that diners didn’t necessarily do for me was always taste good. They can be great, or they can be plastic cup of coleslaw on the side bad. I think we call that inconsistency. Now that I’m a big girl living in the big city, I’ve graduated from the diners of greater Rockville Pike to Ted’s Bulletin. Though it may not be a traditional diner, it’s the diner of my dreams.

Much like the diners of my youth, Ted’s is a fantastic fall back restaurant. Not to say that it’s not a destination unto itself, it just works as my go-to place when nothing else excites me. And in this dreary time of year, I’m uninspired and therefore eating at Ted’s a whole lot. And it’s really working out well for me. Continue reading

Adventures, Business and Money, Downtown, Entertainment, Fun & Games, The Features

Playing in the District: Labyrinth Game Shop

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It’s a rare event when a few of my mutual interests collide these days. Happily, my WeLoveDC self collided with my gamer self earlier this month when I managed to make it out to the grand opening of Labyrinth Games in downtown DC. Specifically, right near Eastern Market in Southeast.

Typically today, if you mention “game store” to someone, you’ll most likely get a response directing you to the nearest Game Stop or Toys ‘R Us. That’s because most people tend to think of games in one of two ways – on a console system or other electronic device, or one of those popular box games you find stashed on a shelf in one of the superstore retailers. While that’s just fine and dandy for those looking for the latest release of Madden Eleventy-one or the newest “collector’s edition” of Monopoly, such stores lack the breadth and character of a dedicated game store retailer. And such a store is a rare gem, when one can find it. Especially if they’re independently owned and operated.

Fortunately, DC has finally received such a gem. Continue reading