Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Well positioned sunrise photos are always good, but when you can get that big ball of orange light in your shot it takes on a whole new life. In addition, you’ll get super-bonus points for getting a building, any building, in the shot. But when you can do it with the buildings being the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument, you deserve special recognition, like Kevin’s photo above. It has it all: the sun directly behind the dome; a uniform orange dawn sky; the sun as a perfect circle; and even a perfect silhouette, with no atmosphere distortion, of the Statue of Freedom. Pretty amazing.

As I mentioned in last week’s Week In Review, the Fall Equinox was on Sunday. That meant that the full moon last week rose almost perfectly from the east. What I didn’t mention is that the sun rises perfectly from the east on both Equinoxes (Spring and Fall). Since the timings and placements of these celestial bodies have been known for centuries, with the right tools it’s very easy to plan out a photo shoot to get your own well placed shots. I use the Photographer’s Ephemeris which provides a map and lines showing the movement of the sun and the moon for a given location; it’s very intuitive to use (plus the desktop version is free). So get planing, as the Spring Equinox is March 20th and I hope to see people out taking some sunrise shots.

Eat Like Me, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Sugar and Champagne Affair

Photo courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi
chocolate custard, cocoa crumble with roasted banana ice cream @ Watershed- Washington, DC
courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi
It’s almost time for the Sugar and Champagne Affair — back next month for the eleventh year. As the name implies, Sugar and Champagne is a dessert and bubbly reception that benefits the Washington Humane Society.

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.

Chefs on-hand for the VIP reception include:

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.

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Fall 2011 Comings and Goings of DC Chefs

Photo courtesy of
‘Grafiatto’
courtesy of ‘Plantains & Kimchi’

A lot has been happening in the DC chef community in the last month or so. Here’s a recap on the comings and goings of local chefs across the city.

First up, after 12 years Equinox’s chef and owner Todd Gray is passing the torch on to a new chef. Karen Nicolas, Equinox’s new executive chef, recently came from Simon Pearce restaurant in Philadelphia and Soul restaurant in Chicago. Nicolas also had a stint as executive sous chef at Tom Colicchio’s Gramercy Tavern in New York City. While Gray said in a press release that he will continue to work with Nicolas on dishes at Equinox, he added that her “culinary vision will be reflected in the menu.”
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Food and Drink

First Look: Watershed

ws 003
You have to admire people who take a risk. Opening up a brand new restaurant in a brand new hotel in a growing neighborhood is exactly that. However, if successful, you’ll not only reap the rewards, you also might be part of the force that helped reinvent a neighborhood. In this case, it looks like Chef Todd and Ellen Gray, along with their Watershed in NoMa are doing just that.

NoMa, of course, stands for “North of Massachusetts Avenue,” north of Capitol Hill and Union Station. It has one successful BID too; you can check it out on Twitter at @NoMaBID. The Grays are currently calling NoMa and the Hilton Garden Inn home as they work to get their second restaurant up and running. If you don’t know the restaurant is there, you’ll definitely miss it, but it doesn’t seem like that’s hindered anything thus far and there’s still a Grand Opening to come.

In what I found perhaps most interesting, Ellen tells me that Watershed is the only independent restaurant with Hilton.  What I found funniest is that Chef Todd is working on controlling his language (typical chef cooking) in the kitchen, as it’s an open kitchen and no one wants to scare away the customers. But now, on to the food.
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Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks, We Love Food

Upcoming: Operation Smile’s Grin Gala

Photo courtesy of
‘Lauren Graham and Peter Krause’
courtesy of ‘greginhollywood’

Got plans Saturday night?

The Grin Gala, now in its fourth year, is a benefit for Operation Smile. It is described as “an evening of cocktails, dancing and silent auction.” Lauren Graham, pictured above, is this year’s honorary host. Tickets come in two varieties: general admission ($120, of which $95 is tax deductible), and VIP ($240, of which $215 is tax deductible).

VIP access includes an early reception on the Chamber of Commerce rooftop with top DC chefs and mixologists including Chef Todd Gray and Mixologist Simo Ahmadi from Equinox; Chef Peter Smith from PS 7; Chef Victor Albisu and Mixologist Troy Bock from BLT Steakhouse; and Mixologist Stephen Warner from Columbia Firehouse.

The Social Chair and I will be there as invited guests. Look for us there Saturday night, and a wrap-up of the cocktails and food here next week!

The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of
‘Bacon Doublecheeseburger’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

Just Because I Love Burgers

LOVE this post. EaterDC gathered three chefs and had them duke it out to see who could “create a burger that would make the presidential mouth water.” The brave participants were Chefs Todd Gray (Equinox), Victor Albisu (BLT Steak) and Brian McBride (Blue Duck Tavern). Albisu won the challenge, but all the burgers looked to die for.

Lobster Update

Washingtonian tells us that New York-based Luke’s Lobster co-owners Ben Conniff and Luke Holden have signed a lease for a 700-square-foot space in Penn Quarter. They hope to open by the end of May.  The menu will include, of course, those buttery lobster rolls,  as well as clam chowder and Empress crab claws. 

Liquor License

Prince of Petworth has the scoop on the old Post Office Building at 1407 T St. NW.  According to the liquor license application, this would be a “casual and relaxed bistro restaurant serving an extensive Saturday & Sunday brunch.”

Loving Carbs

WeLoveDC Marissa got to baking this week at PAUL, a new bread shop and bakery in DC.  PAUL officially opens May 2nd and will offer pastries, soups, quiches, French macarons, sandwiches and salads. So head down to 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Cinco de Mayo!

Looking for a fun place to celebrate? How about sitting down (or standing up) at Masa 14′s 74-seat Tequila Lounge? Masa will celebrate Cinco de Mayo by offering five different flavors of margaritas for just $5 each on Thursday, May 5th.  Just make sure to pair them with Latin-Asian tapas.

Happy eating!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of
‘me + scallops = omg bff!’
courtesy of ‘skampy’
A Big Deal

The week’s biggest food news? Obviously the 2011 RAMMY noms. We Love DC eater Ashley writes that a few restaurants like Bourbon Steak, Citronelle, and Equinox show up a number of times, “but there are a few dark horses out there like Ted’s Bulletin, The Majestic and Liberty Tavern to round out the competition.” The winners will be announced at a ceremony on June 26th, and voters will be able to fill out a ballot that will run in the April 28th issue of The Washington City Paper or online. Check out the full list.

Actually, even bigger: the James Beard Award nominees! Up for Best Chef Awards (in the Mid-Atlantic region) are Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Johnny Monis of Komi, and Obelisk’s Peter Pastan. The only national chef or restaurant nomination was for the ubiquitous Jose Andres for “Outstanding Chef.” I back anyone behind Zaytinya, Minibar and Oyamel.

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The Daily Feed

Local Chefs Raise Money for Tsunami Relief

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Jing a Ling’
Get your credit cards out. Starting today, a series of donations will be auctioned off on eBay by more than 20 DC businesses. The money raised will support disaster relief in Japan. 

Earlier this week, KAZ Sushi Bistro Chef Kaz Okochi, who was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan, reached out to the DC Chefs’ Club for help. The result? Chefs are auctioning off brunch, dinners, tastings, classes, and more on eBay. The auctions will last for one to two weeks, and the winning bids will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Starting off the auction is KAZ, offering a tasting menu for two people as well as KAZ private brand sake or beer. The bidding starts at $50. To bid go here.

Restaurants participating include:

The Tabard Inn
Restaurant Nora
Perry’s
Equinox
Bourbon
Four Seasons
Masa14
KAZ Sushi Bistro
BLT
Peacock Cafe
Ris
Food & Wine Co.
Dino
DC Coast/TenPenh/Ceiba/Acadiana/PassionFish
Jaleo/Zaytinya/Oyamel/Cafe Atlantico
Marcels/Brasserie Beck/Mussel Bar
Hilton Garden Inn, Downtown

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Restaurants Love to Cook, Serve & Tweet!

barcode

“These days at a restaurant you have plates, tables, food and Twitter.”

-Barcode owner Antonis Karagounis

“People regularly ask for restaurant suggestions from other Tweeps on Twitter. When we are able to find those requests and immediately welcome them to our restaurant, they are floored by the quick response and personalized welcome. We’ve been lucky enough to gain many new diners this way.”

-Bourbon Steak Publicist Sangeetha Sarma

A recent Restaurant Week experience reminded me that you can’t always expect restaurants to be on 100% all the time, but if someone or something fails, speak up.

Like many patrons, I had an issue, vented about it on Twitter, and received a very satisfying response. SO I decided that every Friday I will write a small piece about The Week’s Winning Food Tweet. This could be a restaurant itself, a food truck, a chef, a manager, etc. The winner will be someone (something?) who puts a smile on my face for a different or interesting perspective.

The free, 140 character service has revolutionized the restaurant industry. It’s necessary for restaurants to actually engage their followers in order to create loyalty and really make patrons & potential patrons feel like friends.

I wanted to take a look at the Top 5 ways that restaurants use Twitter effectively. That means they aren’t just tweeting the daily specials, but following my rules to inform, satisfy, calm and entertain!

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Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Equinox, Redux

Chocolate Martinis at Equinox

"Chocolate Martinis at Equinox" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

It was a case of double trouble when I met Katie for a We Love Drinks special at Equinox‘s Chocolate Happy Hour. As two of the food and drink fanatics here at We Love DC, we thought it would be fun to head out together to one of Katie’s favorite spots, a place I’d actually never been. And it did not disappoint. 

Picking a spot for the after-work happy hour is a tricky thing. Equinox has a small bar area really more conducive for pre-dinner drinks than for bringing a group or meeting multiple friends. But for a twosome, it works well… though we certainly perfected the art of lurking menacingly for vacant seats, like two sharks circling for blood (“what’s with the guy at the end of the bar, with the crossword puzzle? come on, close your tab, we want chocolate before spring begins!”)

Finally we were able to nab seats and properly toast farewell to winter with the last of the rich chocolate cocktails – one white chocolate with chambord splash for me, and one dark chocolate with sea salt for Katie. “Hello Saturday morning!” she quipped, and oh yes, these were pretty potent for girly cocktails. Happily not too overtly dairy, just the right taste of cream and salt for a chocolate cocktail. 

Now, the goodies. All happy hours must deliver on the goodies.  Continue reading

Downtown, Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Equinox’s Cider Happy Hour

Equinox Cider Happy Hour by RSchley

Equinox Cider Happy Hour by RSchley

The Oct. 22nd edition of the Dining Out email from Washingtonian had a tip about a happy hour that sounded like a November dream – Fall Cider Happy Hour at Equinox. Yum! I do love me some cider. And my partner in crime for happy hour, Rebecca, loves herself some fall. Fall is well known as her favorite season.  So we decided this would be the perfect treat and headed over last Friday for “hard cider cocktails and complimentary snacks”.

Now, the first thing to note is that these Fall Cider Hours only happen on Fridays. And only between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., and only until December 19th. (Then, rumor has it, the theme changes to chocolate! YES! Jenn, wanna set a date?) So if you’re looking to get yourself some “fall in a glass” (as Rebecca says), then scoot on over!

So we arrived around 6 p.m.-ish and the place was packed. So packed that we almost turned around again and headed for the door. But we were stopped by a bartender who practically forced us to stay, and took our coats and bags and put them in the check room. Which was fabulous, really, for those of us who hate to tote around all our gear while we drink. He gave us a menu and promised us he’d be back. And then the free food started coming around – we were handed some sort of glorious crispy spring roll type thing. My apologies for not knowing exactly what it was. But it was seriously good food. I was hoping the drinks would live up. Continue reading