Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of
‘Hank’s Oyster Bar’
courtesy of ‘jichen2′
Running Indefinitely: Kushi Izakaya & Sushi will donate 100% of the sales of its popular Buta Bara Kushiyaki (Pork Belly Kushiyaki) to the Japanese Red Cross to support earthquake and tsunami disaster relief in Japan. The Pork Belly Kushiyaki, made with North Carolina pigs and cooked sous vide for several hours, is Kushi’s best-selling menu item averaging monthly sales of approximately $7,500.00. 

Getting Bigger…Come May Hank’s Oyster Bar will double in size, adding a bar & lounge as well as a private dining room. So what does this mean? Late night hours! Two am on weeknights and 3 am weekends. Our devoted readers might also remember that restaurant partners Jamie Leeds and Sandy Lewis from Hank’s sold CommonWealth Gastro Pub in Columbia Heights last month.

Opening: Because I live for press releases with a lot of adjectives and love the movie Burlesque…”From the restaurateurs behind distinctive dining concepts OYA and SEI comes SAX, an exclusive lounge and restaurant with provocative live entertainment designed to amuse, please and divert the senses with opulent grandeur.” Look for it in May.

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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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Downtown, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: SEI

"Silver Samurai" cocktail at SEI

"'Silver Samurai' cocktail at SEI" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Oh, SEI! How I wanted to be seduced by your mod opulence, so Versailles by way of Anime. Your pristine white and gold decor, your flirty little lounge, all punctuated by red coral. What a tease you are. For these are not the times to enjoy $11 cocktails smothered in ice (what are those cubes hiding, I wonder? about 4 ounces of liquor), no matter how lusciously they roll over the tongue, or $12 plates of tiny cubes of tuna, no matter how perfectly they quiver before melting in my mouth…

Damn.

Honestly, going to a lounge like SEI at a time when everyday I hear of someone else losing their job, makes me feel dirty. I admit to a certain hypocrisy. But, really? Who are these people lining the bar? These spray-tanned wallet vampires in go-go boots? Of course, one can’t control clientele, and SEI’s decor (“New York? Miami? Where are they trying to be?” my friend sighed in confusion) is going to inspire people to dress a certain way. I just wish that the women of this city who still have disposable income would PLEASE learn that classy can still be sexy. It just isn’t seemly to see that much of your browned  (I meant) hyper-tanned crackling cleavage during a recession…

Ahem. Ok, sorry to get all social commentary on you. Back to drinks. 

The good news is that those ridiculously small cocktails are surprisingly good. I had the “Silver Samurai” first, a mixture of shochu, cucumber and vanilla syrup topped with cracked black pepper. I just had to try it, given the combination of cucumber and vanilla which to me sounded more like a bath gel than a drink. However, it was addictive, fresh and smart. “I could definitely take a bath in this,” I smiled to my friend, who was happily enjoying a mocktail concocted just for her. We never did find out its ingredients, because we could barely hear our lovely server over the electronica pumping through the place.

Next, I nervously ordered “Liquid Wasabi.” Continue reading