Now that the weather is starting to turn for the better (don’t mind that pesky rain), all I can think about is eating and drinking outside. And in Washington, where the appropriate outdoor dining season is about two weeks long, it pays to be organized. That is why we’ve put together our favorite spots to sip a beer or have a bite on a patio, deck or sidewalk. Enjoy them, but if you take the last table at one of our favorites, we’re going to be seriously mad.
courtesy of ‘angela n.’
Get your tickets while you can — Brent Elementary’s Taste of the Hill: Beyond the Classroom 2011 Gala is almost here. For $75 you’ll be able to partake in a night of music, dancing, food and beverages, and support Brent Elementary students.
Guests will enjoy food from restaurants in the Capitol Hill area and a tad beyond. My fave places participating include Ba Bay, Belga Cafe, Poste, Sonoma & Matchbox. Wine pairings will be provided by Charlie Palmer Steak sommelier Nadine Brown.
I’ll probably buy the Ticket & Raffle package. Raffle prizes this year include: an iPad, a $200 ThinkFood Group Gift Certificate (hello Oyamel & Zaytinya!), and Redskins tickets.
Taste of the Hill takes place April 2 from 6-10 pm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
All proceeds go to support the PTA programs at Brent, including physical education, Chinese, scholarships for before and aftercare, field trips, and more.
It’s time for another item on the DC Omnivore 100 list of the top one hundred foods every good omnivore should try at least once in their lives.
Since the launch of this feature back in 2008, there have been a few items on the list that we knew could be controversial – horse, for example, is one of the more obvious ones (and I plan to write about it soon). Foie gras is another, falling in and out of favor depending on whether taste trumps compassion. Some seasons it seems like every restaurant in the city is serving it, others not so much. What’s the deal?
Foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened, either force-fed through a traditional French method known as “gavage” or naturally overfed in say, the American method known as “double bacon cheeseburger with fries.” Kidding. It’s an ancient practice going back to the Egyptians and is protected under French law as part of their cultural heritage. The U.S. is actually the something like the fourth-largest producer of foie gras in the world. Basically the fattening process is exploiting a physiological capacity of migratory birds to store large amounts of food in their expansive throats, to sustain them over long journeys. The birds are fed larger and larger amounts of food until their livers are roughly ten times their ordinary size. With gavage, in the last phase they are force-fed through a pneumatic pump.
Grossed out yet? Morally appalled? If you are, you should read about abattoirs and where burgers come from as well. Personally, I’m with Bourdain. There are humane ways for us to get our guilty pleasures.
The reason so many people are willing to overlook the process is the result, one of the most luxuriant tastes on earth. Continue reading
Summer always puts me in mind to garden. I have a little herb garden with oregano, rosemary and lavender that always needs pruning, some roses that need constant watch from black spot, peonies dusty with blight – wait a minute. Gardening in DC is hard work, our weather vacillating between wet and humid to dry and droughty. Isn’t there an easier way to enjoy herbs and flowers?
Why yes. Drink them!
I love nothing better than to cook with fresh herbs and spices, and I’ve been known to throw some edible flowers into my salad, so I am loving the growing spread of these ingredients in cocktails. We’re both lucky and spoiled to be enjoying a cocktail renaissance here in DC. Time was a decent drink meant liquor + mixer, maybe with a garnish. Not anymore. Bartenders are approaching cocktails like, well, a chef would. The explosion of housemade syrups and infusions enable mixologists to make some potent magic.
But as with gardening, not everyone has a green thumb. It’s not enough to just toss some herbage in a martini glass and hey pesto! it’s a delicious cocktail. Just like that time I put too much adobe sauce in my sweet potato puree and set my guests throats on fire (um, sorry about that!). You have to know how flavors work together and how much power that pepper’s going to pop onto your tongue.
So here are my current favorites highlighting the trifecta of herbs, flowers and spice, with a few misses along the way.
WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to bring you a double-hitting feature about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?
Katie: Tucked inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter, Poste Moderne Brasserie is like a little city oasis. Most of the restaurant activity, at least in the warmer months, revolves around the closed-in patio. Poste’s patio has lots of tables, its own drink bar, a raised stage patio, and then this a little partitioned subsection off to the side with a large marble table situated between rows of herbs. This is the chef’s table. And Donna and I were at Poste for the exclusive “MARKET TO MARKET” dining experience.
Katie: The concept of the market dinners is simple. Guests take a walk through the Eighth Street Penn Quarter Farmers Market with executive Chef Robert Weland then take a seat at the Chef’s Garden table for a five course tasting menu showcasing local and artisanal products. Our week was a bit different, as Weland was out moving to a new house with his baby (I suppose that’s an acceptable excuse), we were in the capable hands of executive sous chef Jon Nickerson. Continue reading
Penn Quarter’s trendy happy hour spot Poste is introducing a new farm-to-table concept by chef Rob Weland. ‘Poste Roasts’, an affordable family table dining concept served out in the garden, features a spit-roasted locally-sourced animal (guest’s choice) on the garden’s new grill. Weland serves it with a complementary side that features ingredients from local farms and the restaurant’s organic garden.
The dinner, served for 6 to 12 people, is available every night except Thursdays. The meal is eaten outdoors, at the chef’s table in the restaurant garden. Unlike other larger dinners like this in the area (Planet Wine or The Majestic) – Poste Roasts will only set you back $27 per person (excluding dessert and wine). If you’re up for it, you can spring for more specific pairings with VA wines for each roast as well.
Looking for something to do this evening to celebrate Earth Day? There are a bunch of options, but the foodie one that tempts me is the official re-opening of Poste Modern Brassiere‘s patio “The Garden” with an Earth Day celebration benefiting FRESHFARM Market, the organization behind most of DC’s farmer’s markets.
With a $5 cover charge, you’ll get to snack on truffle frites and warm gougères, and sample the new summer menu of punches. Also in the drinks department, and keeping with the spirit of drinking locally for Earth Day, Poste will premiere its new, all-Virginia wine list. Vendors will be on hand to answer your wine questions. Cheese samples will be provided by neighboring Cowgirl Creamery.
I’m guessing with all this yummyness and fanfare, Poste will get pretty crowded tonight (unless it rains, party pooper, Mother Earth!). So I’d recommend getting there early. Poste is located in Chinatown at 555 8th Street, NW Washington, DC, 20004.
It’s a drink-focused round-up this week, but I think that’s because spring is in the air and all of us are practically clawing at our office doors to escape to grab a beer on the patio with friends. That said – Earth Day, jazz brunches, cocktails from the city’s best mixologists and a new team at Sonoma make up all the news that is fit to eat in the District this week. Continue reading