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!

Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Liquid Lessons

Photo courtesy of
‘Every Food Fits – Master Mixology’
courtesy of ‘staceyviera’

The “silly season” is upon us, as a friend likes to call the December holiday rush. Suddenly everyone wants to get together and social opportunities are crammed into every evening in a frenzy before year’s end. You definitely need some relief mixed into that crazy cocktail of fun and stress!

Wait, did I say cocktail?

Luckily the city is full of cocktail classes and other libation tastings to help you connect with friends in a lively way, so you can relax and learn useful something in the process. Even our local madhouse of Type A’s can see the cost benefit in that. So here’s a sampler of upcoming events to both imbibe and educate! Enjoy, and feel free to add your favorites in the comments. Continue reading

Eat Like Me, Food and Drink

Eat Like Me: September’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of
‘Al fresco’
courtesy of ‘c00lmarie’
This month was a strange one for me food-wise. I ate out of a food truck the same day I went to a five star wedding at 2941. It also marked my first ever trip to Taco Bell (not the same day). I tried poutine for the first time and introduced people on three separate occasions to the tasty barbecue at Capital Q. I tried to get in my last summery foods, the entree salads and the light meals, and now I’m ready for some stew and things with melted cheese on them. But until the weather officially changes, I’ll remember my September meals quite fondly…

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Imbibe Loves DC Too

Photo courtesy of
‘The Tabard Cocktail’
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

The September/October 2010 edition of Imbibe magazine is out and features a sampling of the DC cocktail and beer scenes. With cocktail recipes from Gina Chersevani of PS7, Alex Bookless of The Passenger (recent winner of the Rickey Contest), and Chantal Tseng of Tabard Inn, the ladies represent!

Try your hand at mixing up Gina’s “Beetiful Bubbles” with, yes, beet syrup, or Alex’s “That Cucumber Drink” muddling cucumber and mint, or my personal long-term favorite, Chantal’s “Tabard Cocktail” combining sherry and tequila. Fantastic.

The current issue also breaks down 20 beer spots both inside and outside the city highlighting both the usual suspects like Greg Engert’s program at Birch & Barley/Churchkey and a few surprises.

The best part about DC being featured in Imbibe this month? The tone is congratulatory, not condescending in that way we sometimes see other national publications yap about DC’s food/drink offerings (Grey Lady, I am looking at you). I love it when our local talent gets recognized!

The Features, We Love Drinks

2009, A Glass Half Full

Glass Half Full

"Glass Half Full" by Jenn Larsen on Flickr

When I inaugurated the We Love Drinks feature back in September 2008, I really didn’t give it much thought to start with, honestly. We founding writers were tossing around feature ideas, and I said, “hey, what about drinks? I go out a fair amount.” That simple. It began mostly with bar reviews, with some coffee and tea thrown in for good measure.

But that slowly started to change when I realized there were people passionate about drinks culture in the city – not just nightlife and where to go to get wasted (not that I was writing about that! those days are over, darlings, good-bye jello shots!). It was a humbling experience to discover what a neophyte I was – when I got caught in the crossfire of a discussion on how to make your own bitters, for example, or the first time someone asked me whether I preferred green or yellow Chartreuse. Certainly the vast world of wine was still a mystery despite the wine bar explosion, and don’t even get me started about my beer ineptitude.

So why I am admitting this to you? Because these days I’m all about humility. I may be opinionated, but I’m still eager to learn and am constantly excited about the many different possibilities in our city of drinks. Respect for the taste and the balance of a proper cocktail, diving into the vast world of wine and beer, and most importantly understanding your own tolerance – that’s been my experience in 2009. Here are a few key moments that helped me on this continuing journey. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Fall Cocktails

Monaco

"Monaco" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Fall cocktails… Once upon a time, that just meant drinks with heavy cream. No more, thanks to some brilliant mixology (my waistline is thankful too).

I’ve been sampling some luscious fall drinks. Everyone is rolling out menus featuring autumnal tastes – apple, pear, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, cardamom – oh my. Spice has cream beat! Mulling and infusion are everywhere. It’s a good season for sipping slowly, admiring how flavors change and deepen over the course of your evening. Sigh.

Another fantastic benefit of all these freshly squeezed juices and housemade sodas and herbal infusions is that many bars are now offering non-alcoholic versions of their cocktails. With lots of parties and events in the fall, if you don’t feel like imbibing or are not able, you should always feel unabashed to ask. A good bartender should be able to respond without making you feel like a second-class citizen.

So let’s get down to it, shall we? Some of my favorite fall cocktails, with the usual quirky candlelit odd-angle photographs…
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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Herbs, Flowers & Spice

"Eros" cocktail, Zaytinya

"Eros cocktail, Zaytinya" by Jenn Larsen on Flickr

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.

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Food and Drink, Night Life

Happy Hour Food: Health Kick

Photo courtesy of
‘Vino’
courtesy of ‘marciadc’

A few weeks ago, I put together a happy hour food guide for particularly yummy fried food in the DC area. This was easy. Almost too easy, if you will, because every bar in the world has fried happy hour food, most of it yummy because it’s fried. Duh.

So I decided to stretch my skillz, and put together a list of healthy happy hour food for those of us doing Operation Hot Summer Bod 2009, or just those of us who like to eat on the lighter, healthier side.  Cause there is still delicious food to be had at happy hour, just without the added saturated fat. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The DC 100

DC Omnivore 100: #67: Beignets, period

Photo courtesy of micky mb
Cafe au lait and a beignet, please
courtesy of micky mb

Item 67 on the Omnivore 100 list is “Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake,” but I have to say – this is one place where I take issue with the list. I grew up in Miami and had family in New Orleans, so I’ve bought many a pack of churros while stopped at a streetlight on Calle Ocho and eaten my fair share of beignets at Cafe DuMonde. Calling elephant ears and funnel cake the same thing is one matter, equating them with beignets and churros simply because they’re variations on fried pastry is just…. wrong.

I leave you to your own devices to find an elephant ear; the circus comes through town on a regular basis and you have a decent chance at any street fair of finding a booth selling the drizzled fried dough. Churros we might re-address later – feel free to share any local location you think is worth out looking into.

For a beignet, however, my devotion to you, constant reader, is such that I compared two locations where you can try one of the few Louisiana exports to surpass zydeco. Continue reading