Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: A Rock and Roll Reintroduction

Several months ago, I was standing at the bar in Clyde’s of Georgetown, talking to friends Tim and Patrick, when Tim recommended that I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Patrick enthusiastically agreed, and given that both men are sharp but usually quite different in their tastes, I made a note to take it on a plane to Las Vegas.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it, in large part because you got a sense of Bourdain’s New York City in the 1970s and 1980s—a place where for him food, music and vice came together vividly in kitchens, dive bars and streets. I particularly enjoyed his mentions of slipping into CBGB’s for a show and his nods to the punk rock heroes of his past. Afterward, I read three more Bourdain books. With his success as an author, his world got a lot broader but it was still read like an adventure in rock and roll.

I began to contemplate my own community, made up of venturesome people who go to see concerts at the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, DC9, the Howard Theatre, The Fillmore, DAR Constitution Hall, and many other places around town. They live in these establishments and associated places—places that don’t host shows but serve fine food and drink. I’ve occasionally eaten with my fellow music admirers at some of these places; I’ve sometimes grabbed a dinner alone before or after a show; and I’ve made lists of interesting places to eat when recommendations are made. Man cannot live on music alone, after all.

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Food and Drink, The Features

Surviving Sandy: Foodie Style

We all know what happens when the imminent threat of a natural disaster is on its way. First we panic, turn on every weather channel known to cable, open multiple tabs on our browsers to follow copious storm trackers, have flashbacks of all those natural disaster movies (I’m looking at you Helen Hunt in Twister), and then… well, we hit the grocery store. If you are anything like me, my over-preparedness resulted in two glorious days of browsing recipes, cooking, and baking. I am a cynic by nature (no pun intended) but somehow found myself following the crowd and stalking up on so much food I could have had a neighborhood block party (or four). I felt a need to make- and eat – everything, as if the world actually was going to end tomorrow…

But alas, Sandy spared us some monumental destruction (thank you), except for the few pounds we may have added to the scale (white girl problems), but the forced hibernation was a welcome moment of peace amidst the madness. Something about the sound of heavy wind and rain inspired unplugging and putting hands, and minds, to use elsewhere.

I for one am a huge breakfast person. So staying indoors meant staying in pajamas a little longer, making more breakfast than usual, and planning that night’s lunch or dinner before I even finished my last sip of coffee. One of my favorite comfort foods, which brings me back home to Colombia, is the arepa. For those of you who have never had one, it is a corn-flour tortilla of sorts, similar to a Salvadorean pupusa, which is a vehicle for anything and everything you wish. From avocado and cheese (I go for mozarella or queso fresco), to bacon and other forms of cooked pork (shredded always best), an arepa is a versatile, delicious, comforting staple of Colombian cuisine. Using just cornmeal flour and water, the dough becomes dense and easy to mold, rounded out and grilled on a stovetop. My favorite toppings include butter, melted mozzarella, avocado, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

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Adams Morgan, Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features

We Love Food: Speak Easy at L’Enfant Cafe

Photo courtesy of M.V. Jantzen
Le Soir courtesy of M.V. Jantzen

The French get it. At least when it comes to food and romance. Mix Paris with a little New York and you have yourself a seriously original duo. Enter L’Enfant Cafe, a tiny bistro in Adams Morgan, and you see that America à la France at its greatest. It boasts only 16 tables, but dishes out some serious french fare that transport you to a cafe in the center of Le Marais. On a weekend, it is a great spot to find a croque madame and espresso, and on a weeknight, a perfect date spot for intimate conversation and glasses of rouge. This place is just as one imagines a Parisian bistro to be: effortlessly fabulous.

But that’s just the half of it. L’Enfant is so much more than just a restaurant. Co-owned by Christopher Lynch and Jim Ball, two New Yorkers who wanted to bring the art-y to Party, L’Enfant has turned into an institution of fun fare. Known for their yearly Bastille Day French Maid Relay Race, as well as their infamous Saturday Le Boum brunches, these guys keep it coming. Now, they are making Sunday the new Funday with a one of a kind dining experience. What does that entail? One word: Cabaret.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

Winter Restaurant Week 2012

Photo courtesy of Daquella manera
Cena courtesy of Daquella manera

So you are one week into your New Years resolutions of getting fit, eating healthy and exercising more… Good for you! Now get over it, because starting January 9th restaurants across the District will be offering killer deals for Winter Restaurant Week. From January 9-15, select restaurants across the city will offer a three-course lunch for $20.12  and three-course dinners for $35.12. Best part is, no mass daily-deal purchase necessary, all you need is a reservation. Now, who doesn’t love a delicious bargain?

Restaurant Week is a week to go big rather than stay home, as some of the pricier dining options in DC become immediately accessible. It is a chance for you to cross out some of those places you’ve had on your list for a while, instead of waiting for the next birthday/anniversary/you-name-it special occasion, you’re excused to dine with the big boys and save a pretty penny too. While some haters (I was indeed one of them) worry that the lower price point comes at the expense of quality, the restaurants below are quality-driven and promise a memorable dining experience regardless of the end bill. And let’s remember, it is their reputation on the line after all and consistency is key. So stop drinking the hate-orade and embrace the feast week.

Here are some suggestions:

Art and Soul- Art Smith will offer an extensive menu that includes some of his signature dishes, as well as a specially priced wine list for the week. Now that’s being a Southern Gentleman.  Menu highlights include shrimp and grits, charcuterie of the day, Yorkshire pig and cabbage, pan fried flounder, and sweet offerings like chocolate bread pudding and apple tart. Update: Art and Soul will be extending their restaurant week menu through January 22nd.

701 - Chef Ed Witt has developed an extensive and exciting menu, mouth-watering options include lemongrass lobster bisque, bourbon caramel apple salad with mustard greens, veal sweetbreads, red wine beef short-ribs, cider braised rabbit leg and desserts including an upscale s’more- chocolate bar with vanilla bean gelato, marshmallow and graham crackers. Need I say more?

Rasika- Reservations at Chef Vikram Sunderam’s Indian mecca are near impossible to snag, so book now if you want to dine here during Restaurant Week. The Penn Quarter powerhouse is consistently delicious and will undoubtedly be offering some of its best dishes.

Photo courtesy of angela n.
Art & Soul courtesy of angela n.

Fiola- Everything here from the classic antipastis to the homemade pastas and innovative fish and meat offerings is spot on delicious. As Fiola’s first Winter Restaurant Week, chef Fabio Trabocchi is sure to deliver. I also recommend you spend the money you would have on the meal and try many a drinks by Fiola’s resident mixologist, Jeff Faile. These men know what they are doing. Continue reading

Food and Drink

Rogue Sessions: Celebrity Chefs Rally to Support RJ Cooper

Rogue 24 by RJ Cooper
Courtesy Angie Salame

It is an unfortunate circumstance that will bring together some of the most talented chefs from the nation for a culinary showdown of epic proportions. Chef RJ Cooper, the mastermind behind Rogue 24, will undergo open heart surgery this month to correct a genetic heart defect which could be life-threatening if not treated.

In his place, ten of Cooper’s closest friends – who also happen to be some of the most talented chefs in the nation – will each take over the kitchen at Rogue 24 for a week. The impressive roster includes José Andrés, 2011 James Beard Outstanding Chef, David Posey from Chicago’s 4-star restaurant Blackbird and formerly of Alinea, Spike Gjerde, chef/owner of Woodberry Kitchen, Nancy Oakes, James Beard Best Chef California and chef/owner of Boulevard, and Top Chef contestant Jennifer Caroll, who worked with Eric Ripert at 10 Arts in Philadelphia and Le Bernadin in New York. And that’s just the half of them.

Each Rogue Session will cost $185 per person, and includes a 24-course dinner which will feature twelve dishes prepared by that week’s visiting chef and twelve Rogue 24 favorites, and wine and cocktail pairings by celebrity bartender Derek Brown and Beverage Director JP Fetherston. Tickets to these coveted sessions will be sold one week in advance exclusively through Gilt City. The first session kicks-off January 10th and will be lead by Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to Share Our Strength.

Now, if this isn’t the definition of chef love I don’t know what is.

Food and Drink

ROC Guide Highlights DC Restaurants

Photo courtesy of
‘Ben’s Chili Bowl’
courtesy of ‘Michael T. Ruhl’

When picking a restaurant for your next meal out, why not choose a place where workers haven’t coughed all over your dinner because they’ve been forced to work with the flu?

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and their local branch ROC-DC just released their first annual Diners’ Guide: a Zagat-like booklet that scores national and local restaurants based on how they treat their workers. The guide includes the 150 highest revenue restaurants in America as well as some local spots already working toward better standards for their employees.

Some of the results aren’t exactly shocking (no, Hooters doesn’t lead the industry in fair treatment of their workers). Others may be more of a surprise: Capital Grille, for example, makes it onto a special list of shame for restaurants charged with discrimination and wage theft.

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We Love Food

We Love Food: Santa Fe Cafe

Kip Laramie
Santa Fe Cafe Owner Kipp Laramie by MichaelTRuhl

In the heart of hilly Rosslyn amid the skyscrapers and the steel, the Santa Fe Cafe is an oasis for spicy food lovers. Offering authentic New Mexican food, the restaurant has maintained a presence in Arlington for over 20 years on Wilson Boulevard two blocks from the Rosslyn Metro station. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Willard’s BBQ

Willard's

“You just can’t get barbecue up here like you can down there,” I used to tell all my friends back home in North Carolina. That was before I met Willard’s. Way, way the hell out there in the suburbs near Dulles, Willard’s BBQ is what happens when Lexington, North Carolina transports itself right to Virginia. And for a Carolina Girl, that means Willard’s tastes just like home.

Ya’ll, they’ve got the pulled pork. They have the ribs, the brisket, the chicken, the catfish. Everything you’ve been craving, Willard’s has it all. And lord, is it done right. Continue reading

Food and Drink

Nationals Park Adds New Food Options

All photos courtesy of the author

Although Nationals Park already features a number of iconic Washington-area restaurants, such as Ben’s Chili Bowl and Hard Times Cafe, the Nationals partnered with New York City’s Union Square Hospitality Group to bring in four new dining options: Blue Smoke BBQ, Box Frites, El Verano Taqueria, and Shake Shack (which also just opened a brick-and-mortar location near Dupont Circle to much fanfare).
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of
‘Pork Loin with Kumquat Marmalade @ Ardeo’
courtesy of ‘jimcollins’

Talk about an empire. DCMud.com reports that restaurateur Ashok Bajaj, the man behind Bombay Club, 701, Rasika, and Ardeo + Bardeo could soon sign a lease for the retail space at 22 West in West End. Bajaj somewhat hinted at a new project in a chat last month with my fave food critic, Tom Sietsema.

My favorite news of the week comes via The Washington Post: Whole Foods Market and a D.C. real estate firm want to build a new store in Navy Yard, “but the developer says that luring the grocer would require $8 million in tax breaks.”  WaPo reports that William C. Smith and Co. is proposing a 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods in the 800 block of New Jersey Ave. SE as part of a building that would also include 375 apartments.

In other Navy Yard news, JDLand writes that a beer garden might soon be on its way to Southeast. The ANC6D (Advisory Neighborhood Commission) voted 6-0 “to support the Bullpen’s plans to open an additional 632-seat beer garden at Half and M, across from the Navy Yard Metro station’s west entrance just north of Nationals Park.”

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

DC Predicts: 2011 Trends in Food and Dining

Photo courtesy of
‘Restaurant with waiter’
courtesy of ‘The Field Museum Library’

To kick off the new year, we asked some of the most prominent folks in DC’s food and drink scene for their outlook on what will be big in 2011. We reached out to chefs, owners, bloggers, barkeeps, restaurant PR folks and more – all of them gave wise predictions on what will be big in the new year. Here’s what they had to say.

“With the population of DC crossing 600,000 in the latest census, you will see a lot more small, interesting restaurants. Bistros opening in the up and coming neighborhoods.” – Ashok Bajaj, Restaurateur (Bombay Club, Oval Room, Rasika, etc.)

“I predict more and more hip cocktail spots as people start seeking niche bars that feature house specialties rather than having the same old familiar line up…I also think many more smaller niche restaurants with more creative international decor…DCites are starting to demand more!” – Erik Holzherr, owner of Wisdom, Fruit Bat, and the soon-to-be-opened Church & State

“I think in 2011, you’re going to see more restaurants getting into the retail business. Some have done it already, like Cork’s Cork Market and Co-Co Sala’s retail boutique. Others will be inspired by the success of such ventures as the Batali/Bastianich Eataly in New York City. We’ve already seen some announced for 2011, like the Armstrong’s Society Fair market; it’ll be interesting to see who else gets into the game.” – Missy Frederick, Washington Business Journal Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Tim Carman Takes On The Times

Photo courtesy of
‘Lunch at the Majestic – the Aftermath’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

We love DC here, did you know that? Well, we do. It’s true. And we always appreciate it when someone else has a crush on the place we hold dear, and so today’s DC-loving award goes to Tim Carman.

Carman, formerly of the City Paper’s Young & Hungry and now a food writer over at WaPo took down the New York Times in today’s column “Dear New York Times: We get it. Your restaurants are better than ours.” Carman’s snarky criticism of the brash junk-food berating the NYT gave our fine city last week is a must-read for any DC foodie.

My favorite line? “District denizens are just beginning to evolve beyond their lizard-brain lust for red meat.” I highly recommend you read it on your lunch break over a meal from one of our sub-par eateries.

Update: It just came to my attention that Maria over at Hill Is Home should get an award too. Read: New York Also Thinks DC Looks Fat In Those Pants.

Arlington, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Ganges Grill and Ice Cream A New Alternative To Crowded Clarendon Sub Scene

There’s no shortage of Sub shops in Clarendon/Courthouse. Between Earl’s and the chain options of Subway & Cosi, there’s more than enough options if you want lunch meats in between two slices of bread.

However, I became interested with the arrival of a new sub shop on Washington Blvd. The former Quizno’s location was now draped with banners reading, “Ganges Grill and Ice Cream.” I decided to walk across the street from the Subway (where I am currently mayor on foursquare) to find out more.

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We Love Food

First Look: Carmine’s

Wine

When I first started with We Love DC, we had 11 authors. (I also hiked to school uphill both ways.) Now, we have a food and drink team of seven writers, and more fabulous authors than I can name in a sitting. We’ve grown into a big family, and so we were invited to Carmine’s for a dinner for eight, it was only fitting that we go together as a team, and make it a faux-thanksgiving feast.

Carmine’s is, as you’ve heard I’m sure, the largest restaurant in DC right now. So inviting a raucous gaggle of WLDC writers meant only one thing: we’d be loud. Luckily, Carmine’s is built for loud, large groups, and so we feasted on pasta, pasta, wine, pasta and a cannoli or two or five. Continue reading

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Win Wolf Trap Tickets and Silver Diner Nibbles

Silver Diner

You may have seen that you can get $10 to try Silver Diner’s yummy new Fresh & Local menu if you are one of the first 5,000 fans to like them on Facebook.

They’re almost to their goal – and if they reach it by 2 p.m. today, they’ll hold a drawing. You could win two tickets to The Sound of Music at Wolf Trap on Aug. 31 and a $25 Silver Diner Gift Card! Plus, four fans each get a $20 Silver Diner Gift Card.

But you better be quick!

Interviews, Life in the Capital, People, The Features, They Shoot DC

She Shoots DC: Paige Weaver

Photo courtesy of Paige Weaver, on Flickr
’3.30.10′
courtesy of Paige Weaver

Ever since I started our Weekend Flashback feature to start off your week, I’ve become fascinated with the myriad (just for you, Erin!) of photographers in our area. There’s such a wide range of talent, skill, expertise, and perspectives around here that’s worth sharing, so I decided to begin a periodic feature showcasing our local photogs and their array of works. Because DC imagery makes up only a small part of many of our local photographers’ repertoire, I want to give them a chance to expose their broad range of expertise and work – and their personalities.

Kicking off this periodic feature is Paige Weaver, known on Twitter as Moxie_Marmalade. A baker in Chevy Chase, Paige lives in the Mt. Vernon Triangle area and loves to shoot – and eat! – food on the side.

So who is Paige Weaver? Where do you come from originally?

Well, I grew up in Dallas, TX and ended up in DC via Maine and Tennessee. I graduated college in ’08 and moved to DC for a job, which I quit last August to attended culinary school in New York City. The school I attended emphasizes health supportive cooking — how ironic now that I make desserts for a living. But if you need a vegan, gluten-free dinner party menu, I’m your girl. I hate parsley, don’t discriminate against wine that comes in boxes, and have recently become obsessed with the Civil War.

I’ve also been participating in Project 365 this year, challenging myself to take a photograph every day of 2010. It’s been a great undertaking because it forces me to practice photography every day. As expected, some shots are much better than others, but so far, I haven’t missed a day!

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Cupcakes: Trendy, fattening, delicious

Photo courtesy of
‘Cupcake’
courtesy of ‘christaki’

Yes, cupcakes are a trend, a fad that will probably end soon enough. But until it does, I will bide my time eating as many of them as possible and debating the merits of DC’s many, many cupcakeries. The latest installment in our city’s love affair with frosting comes in the form of a Cupcake Camp scheduled for this fall in Arlington.

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The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Food, Inc. to Show on WETA

Photo courtesy of
‘Moo’
courtesy of ‘kevinspencer’

Not going to a happy hour, a film or a concert for Earth Day? You can still celebrate — and learn a little more about what goes on with Mother Earth — by watching Academy Award nominee Food, Inc. from the comfort of your own couch.

It’ll be broadcast on P.O.V. on WETA TV Channel 26 at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21st.

You might not look at dinner the same way again — but you just might feel jazzed and empowered to eat food produced in a way that’s healthier, for the planet and for you.

The Daily Feed

Maybe I Won’t Eat There

Photo courtesy of
‘FoodSign’
courtesy of ‘brownpau’

A few well-known restaurants in the DC area (I am not one to name names, but they are listed in the article) seem to be violating health codes according to an article released by the Examiner today. Although I am still not sure if I am utterly offended by the thought of ‘”slime”-covered water spigots” or not, I definitely may think twice before my next restaurant rendezvous.

I guess it is your prerogative, but diner beware.

Farm Fresh, The Features

Farm Fresh: Radius Pizza

Winter Pie

Winter Pie with celery root puree

Here’s another edition of our Farm Fresh feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna explains the restaurant’s environmentally friendly efforts and Katie tells you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: Radius is one of those neighborhood gems that make you feel like you won the jackpot when you discover it. Tucked away on the second floor of an old row house on Mount Pleasant Street in Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant, the little pizzeria is one of my very favorite restaurants in the city. Last April, husband and wife team Todd and Nicole Wiss took over the former Italian eatery and turned it into one of the city’s most eco-conscious restaurants.

Donna: Chef Todd and his Nicole met while working at Poste Moderne Brassiere, which also has a commitment to local and sustainable food. It was there, while directing a James Beard Dinner that Todd became passionate about farm-to-table cooking. “Having eaten this way the majority of my life, I found it really important to make it our goal to create awareness to the diner that this is really important for the sustainability of our land, for future farming, and future generations,” said Todd. And then he shared that other reason: “It tastes a hell of a lot better!”
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