Food and Drink, The Features

Greek Easter at Zaytinya

Photo courtesy of Greg Powers

Spit-roasts and cocktails? Get me to the Greek! Restaurant that is…

Starting this Sunday, Zaytinya, one of my Jose Andres favorites, is offering a special lamb-festive menu to celebrate the Easter holiday and all things spring (hence the beautiful green accents on every dish). Regardless of what Gods we do or don’t praise, Easter is a time for gathering over a lot of food, while drinking hair of the dog (or what I call a standard Sunday), and who better than the Greeks to give us a taste of their cultural heritage to live by.

Photo courtesy of Greg Powers

If you are a lamb lover-crafty cocktail sipping-date kinda guy/gal, the ten-course ‘Chef’s Experience’ has your name written all over it. A ten-course meal designed by Chef Michael Costa showcases a variety of dishes that speak to the versatility of the good old lamb, and highlight the chef’s own ability to take a classic dish and add a modern twist (case in point- Asparagus Salata, aka, the upgraded tzatziki – a combination of white asparagus, green asparagus, pistachios, microgreens, and lemon). Other standouts included Arni me Sparangia, spit-roasted lamb shoulder with asparagus, ladolemono and dill; Mayiritsa, traditional Easter soup with lamb’s liver, caramelized onions, short grain rice, egg and lemon broth (and I thought I wasn’t into offal); Spanakorizo, rice pilaf with wilted spinach and tomatoes, spinach puree, preserved cherry tomatoes and feta.

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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

First Look: Graffiato

graffiato

Earlier this year it was Toki Underground and Shake Shack that were pretty much the buzz everywhere before they opened their doors. When that died down, Graffiato became the restaurant everyone was talking about. The 130-seat dining spot in Chinatown comes to us courtesy Top Chef Mike Isabella, and it has been consistently crowded since it opened in June.

As most foodies can tell you, Isabella is no stranger to DC. He spent three years in a kitchen a few blocks northwest of Graffiato, as the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya. If that doesn’t ring a bell, he also appeared on Season Six of Top Chef and he was the runner up on Top Chef All-Stars.

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The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Jing a Ling’
Serendipity

Hopefully you haven’t missed it in the Shake Shack, Pinkberry, Luke’s Lobster craze…but Serendipity 3 is now open in Georgetown. There’s no way you haven’t heard of the NY based shop and its signature oversized Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and Foot-Long Hot Dogs, BUT you can also have the President’s Lobster Pasta here, a dish exclusive to DC. For the best opening story and pics head to Revamp.

Power

Can’t wait to see what the Young & Hungry team puts out for its Of Edibles and Eminence: What Makes a Powerful Restaurant? list on June 10th. They write “Beyond the ‘power lunch’ and the often elusive ‘power breakfast,‘ the places where we eat wield influence in a variety of ways. Some restaurants change our behavior. Some change entire neighborhoods.” Send Y&H your suggestions!

Jack Rose

Metrocurean tells us that Jack Rose, the new whiskey bar and restaurant from the team behind Bourbon, could open any day now. So if you’re looking for a place for whiskey, you might want to start walking towards 18th and Florida. It’s about time — we’ve been talking about this place forever!

Zaytinya, Bezu, Pizzeria Orso

In one of my favorite features, Best Bites Blog takes “the pulse of three area restaurants” in The Needle.  Zaytinya and Pizzeria Orso do very well…Bezu not so much.

Happy Eating!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Taste of the Hill is Coming

Photo courtesy of
‘Oyamel’
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.

The Daily Feed

Local Chefs Raise Money for Tsunami Relief

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Jing a Ling’
Get your credit cards out. Starting today, a series of donations will be auctioned off on eBay by more than 20 DC businesses. The money raised will support disaster relief in Japan. 

Earlier this week, KAZ Sushi Bistro Chef Kaz Okochi, who was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan, reached out to the DC Chefs’ Club for help. The result? Chefs are auctioning off brunch, dinners, tastings, classes, and more on eBay. The auctions will last for one to two weeks, and the winning bids will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Starting off the auction is KAZ, offering a tasting menu for two people as well as KAZ private brand sake or beer. The bidding starts at $50. To bid go here.

Restaurants participating include:

The Tabard Inn
Restaurant Nora
Perry’s
Equinox
Bourbon
Four Seasons
Masa14
KAZ Sushi Bistro
BLT
Peacock Cafe
Ris
Food & Wine Co.
Dino
DC Coast/TenPenh/Ceiba/Acadiana/PassionFish
Jaleo/Zaytinya/Oyamel/Cafe Atlantico
Marcels/Brasserie Beck/Mussel Bar
Hilton Garden Inn, Downtown

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Food Tweet of the Week: Chef Geoff Tracy

Photo courtesy of
‘shrimp n grits’
courtesy of ‘@heylovedc’
New (and even old-time) Tweeters can learn a thing or two from Chef Geoff Tracy.  With @chegeoffs, Tracy might not hold the record for the most tweets per day, but all the messages he sends out are either informative (specials of the day), enticing (pictures from the kitchen), or funny (as you will see below).

The famed chef from Chef Geoff’s and Lia’s writes on his Twitter profile “Don’t get pissy here.” Love it. Tracy has about 1,700 followers and is constantly telling them what’s on his mind and what’s coming up at his restaurants. His account is unique and personal.

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Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Greek Easter Lambwiches at Zaytinya

Photo courtesy of
‘Zaytinya’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

Oh man, it’s that time again – the Greek Easter Festival at Zaytinya. Last year, during the festival Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella served up lamb pita sandwiches with tzatziki out of a street cart on the corner of 9th and G street during lunchtime and it was crazy popular.

This year he does it again, but they’re adding picnic tables so you can enjoy your lambwich on-site. The festival runs from April 5-16th, so take a long lunch break, call in sick, do whatever you need to do to get yourself a pita. Plus, you’ll be able to rub elbows with cutie Chef Isabella, who promises to help his sous chefs man the cart.

Zaytinya is located on the corner of 9th and G streets NW, right across from the 9th street exit of the Chinatown Metro Station.

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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Eat Like Me, Food and Drink, We Love Food

Eat Like Me: June’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of
‘this is generally what my life looks like at 6:30 p.m. any given day’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

People ask me all the time if they can have my job. NO! Mine. Well, you can have my day job, but you’d have to fight me to the death for my foodie blogging job. And it would be your death, not mine. Along the way, through press dinners, media previews, nights out with friends, and places I’m reviewing for our We Love Food feature, I run into some damn good dishes (for up-to-the minute reviews, follow me on Twitter). Forkful after forkful, I wind up eating some dishes that make me think back with ultimate fondness, and leave me longing for them. Last month I told you all about with them in a little piece I called Eat Like Me. It was so popular with you guys, and I enjoyed writing it so much, that I decided I’ll do it every month. Sort of like a what’s worth it of my food intake – a satoralist of food, if you will.

So. June. It was rainy, right? Ugh. But it was also chock full of food for me, my calendar was overwhelming. June is a busy month in the foodie world. New warm weather menus come hot off the presses, restaurants open their doors to hungry summer crowds, and my friends want to eat out more. It’s pretty glorious. So, click on through to see what made the cut.  Continue reading

Food and Drink, The DC 100, The Features

DC Omnivore 100: #4, Steak Tartare

Kitfo at Dukem

If the idea of marauding hordes of Tartars riding with raw meat under their saddles to tenderize it just in time for a nice snack after some pillaging sounds appetizing to you, then you’ve probably tried steak tartare. Ok, we don’t really know if that’s the origin of the dish, but that’s the historical rumor. As most cultures have their own version, who can say for sure?

So, in our continuing quest to conquer the Omnivore 100 list, we’ll explore a couple of variations.

The usual definition of a traditional steak tartare is finely chopped or diced (not sliced) raw beef marinated in wine, and served with accompaniments like capers, onions and a raw egg on top. But this classic version has long been left behind by adventurous chefs putting their own stamp on it, so that now it’s common to see steak tartare listed on menus with the only similarity across the board being the raw beef itself. Continue reading

Foodie Roundup, The Daily Feed

Foodie Round-Up (April 6-10th)

roasted lamb to go

Zaytinya’s Roast Lamb To-Go for Greek Easter

As everyone is gearing up for big Easter meals, the foodie world has been a bit slow with forthcoming news. But there’s still some good stuff to report on, including one piece of news that makes me green with envy, so click on through for all the news fit to eat in the District this week… Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Preview: Greek Easter Festival @ Zaytinya

grape vodka cocktail at zaytinya

Easter Grape Cocktail at Zaytinya by flickr user Needlessspaces

Yesterday, before watching my Tar Heels snag our fifth Championship title (squee!),  I headed over to Zaytinya for a media preview of the Easter Menu.

While I’m still basking in the glow of my University of National Champions win, the Easter food and drink at Zaytinya certainly added to the wonderfulness of yesterday. So let me see if I can focus on food for a moment and tell you all about the Easter Festival headed our way… Continue reading