Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features

Christmas Day Dining Picks

Photo courtesy of kimberlyfaye
Capitol Christmas Tree
courtesy of kimberlyfaye

It seems like we’re all still working off those pounds from Thanksgiving. If you want a more hassle-free holiday this Christmas Day, how about you keep the pots and pans in the kitchen and head out to one of your favorite DC restaurants open on the holiday.

After the jump are my top five choices of where to go. Keep in mind some are a bit pricey, but special menus can be worth it if you chose wisely.
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Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

The Last of the Summer Wine

Photo courtesy of
‘la terrasse’
courtesy of ‘jenny downing’

It may be September, but we denizens of DC know that doesn’t mean an automatic reprieve from hot weather. Though autumn’s official start will arrive in a few weeks, we still have plenty of swelter left. So, what to drink in this transitional time, this ‘tween season not quite summer and not quite fall?

Luckily for us, we’ve got a lot of brilliant local sommeliers to help us over the hump. I asked a quintet to recommend some current favorites to drink now and as the seasons change, and they’ve responded most generously. There’s an embarrassment of riches here – wine recommendations, vinology knowledge to inspire you to learn more, and some tempting food pairings to whet your appetite! So join me as we explore a beautiful array of wines to sip while enjoying the last of the summer heat, as the hazy lazy afternoons slowly give way to the crisp bounty of autumn color.
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Interviews, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Carlton McCoy

Carlton McCoy, sommelier for Sou'Wester. Photo courtesy Pfau Communications.

Carlton McCoy, sommelier for Sou'Wester. Photo courtesy Pfau Communications.

We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.

Ah, the mystique of the sommelier. How many times have you actually felt comfortable engaging in that dance of the wine list with one? There’s the delicate waltz about price point, the fear of disapproval of your favorite varietal. Unless you are a wine connoisseur or see something you recognize, no doubt it’s been awkward at best.

Enter Carlton McCoy, native Washingtonian and sommelier for Sou’Wester, Chef Eric Ziebold’s second restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental. Or rather, enter-exit-enter-exit-here-there-everywhere Carlton McCoy. I’ve never seen a sommelier with this kind of high energy. Almost like that perfect host at a private dinner party, checking in guests, smiling and milling about in an friendly open manner – he completely demystifies the role.

Gone are the days when people will accept a raised eyebrow reaction to a request for a moderately priced bottle. As we learn more about wine, we are less likely to approach a sommelier like a high priest, and certainly in rough economic weather that’s less likely to be tolerated. The best ones understand this and want to share their passion in an approachable manner. Carlton has this quality, times ten. I would never hesitate to ask him anything about wine, and I know he’d give an honest, no-nonsense reply.

This refreshing attitude comes backed with a pretty impressive pedigree. He’s an Advanced Level Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers (that’s one level away from being a Master Sommelier, of which there are only 168 in the world). But Carlton began his career in the culinary world, attending the Culinary Institute of America with stints at famed New York restaurants Aquavit and Per Se. He returned to DC to be Chef Ziebold’s assistant sommelier at CityZen while also managing the cheese cart there. His official duties at Sou’Wester include managing the some 250 bottle wine list, all-American beer list and cocktail menu. Having worn many different hats suits his expansive style well.

He’s also refreshingly humble talking about the cocktail program, his first! “Chef and I are lightweights,” he jokes, “so these are $10 cocktails you can have without falling over.”

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Eat Like Me, Food and Drink, The Features

Eat Like Me: November’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

You will not find a Washingtonian more grateful for the warm-ish weather that we’ve had this fall. I’m decidedly NOT a winter girl, and I’ve been known to curse coats and whine incessantly about the cold. While winter in DC is just something I must tolerate, sometimes I can assuage my pain with a really great bone-warming dish. I was lucky to run across a lot of those in November, and without really meaning to, my list of favorite dishes wound up being a list that could double-time as a ‘great winter dishes’ list as well.

So when you head out to spend your hard earned dollars on a meal, here are some dishes that are best bets for spending wisely. And to boot, they’ll even keep you warm. Continue reading