Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Todd Gray of Equinox and Watershed (Part 2)

Shrimp and grits at Watershed
‘Shrimp and grits at Watershed’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

With winter approaching, I’m feeling more in the mood to spend time in the kitchen cooking up warm meals. Chef Todd Gray’s recipe for shrimp and grits is one of those that you can spend a little extra time preparing and will hit the spot when you’re cozy inside on a chilly winter’s day. You can find the dish on the menu at Watershed Restaurant or make it at home with the recipe after the jump.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Todd Gray of Equinox and Watershed (Part 1)

Todd Gray at Watershed
‘Todd Gray at Watershed’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Juggling multiple restaurants and two catering companies, along with a recent RAMMY award win for 2011 Chef of the Year and several James Beard Foundation Award nominations, you could call Todd Gray a powerhouse of sorts. This year alone, the chef and his wife and business partner, Ellen Kassoff Gray, have expanded their hospitality group to include Todd Gray’s Watershed and Todd Gray’s Muse at the Corcoran just this year. So where did the chef start all of this?

For Gray, who grew up outside of Washington, DC, he knew he wanted to own a restaurant before he knew he wanted to be a chef. While he was studying at the University of Richmond and was working in the front of the house at a local restaurant, he found that he fell in love with the kitchen. “The culinary bus came and I jumped on,” he says.

Flash forward to years of building a successful career, it’s certain that the chef has far more planned for the future. Gray and his wife are working on a book due out in September 2012 with the working title, “Kitchen Conversations: Blending Jewish and American Flavors for Delicious, Easy Meals.” The chef slyly adds that there may be a few more restaurants for him on the horizon, but plays off any specific plans by saying simply, “I’m just going to keep on cooking and having fun.”
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Special Events, We Love Arts

June Happenings at SAAM

Photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Looking for some great things to do over the summer while the tourists flood in? There are several great programs (free!) being hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Penn Quarter this month. Take some time to check them out!

Opening Night of the IV BrazilDocs Documentary Film Week: Santiago
June 9, 7 p.m.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery host the opening-night film, “Santiago,” of the IV BrazilDocs Documentary Film Week, sponsored by the Cultural Section of the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC. In 1992, João Moreira Salles, one of Brazil’s foremost documentary filmmakers, began shooting a film about Santiago, the butler in his childhood home, who had lived a rich and vivid life. Through the film’s personal narrative, Salles addresses the elements of memory and identity that are crucial to the documentary genre.

The House I Live In
June 11, 4 p.m.
A theatrical presentation by Catherine Ladnier chronicles life in America from New Year’s Eve in 1939 through the end of World War II. Music underscores dramatic readings of letters written by servicemen and their loved ones, which recount the lingering effects of the Great Depression, America’s involvement in World War II, life on the home front, the bravery of soldiers, and gratitude for peace. In conjunction with “To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America.”

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Cook like a Pro: Learn to Roast a Whole Pig at BLT Steak

Photo courtesy of
‘The main entree – pig’
courtesy of ‘wfyurasko’

It’s not every day that you get to roast an entire pig, and frankly, it seems like a daunting task. But this weekend executive chef Victor Albisu of BLT Steak can break it down for you, as well as show you how to break down the whole hog.

The April 23rd class will run from 12:30 until 3 PM and is $100 per person. The class includes a four-course lunch and cooking demonstration. At the end, you get to feast on lechon asado, whole roasted suckling pig, crispy pig ears and artichokes, a valencia salad with Iberico ham and a chorizo stuffed pork loin. In hog heaven, yet?

To snag a spot, you can make reservations with Erica Frank at 202-689-8989 or email her at Enjoy the Saturday afternoon literally “pigging out.”

Capital Chefs, The Features

Capital Chefs: Victor Albisu of BLT Steak (Part I)


The first thing that you need to know about him is that Chef Victor Albisu has a calm, dry sarcasm that I find highly entertaining. Cathy and I recently stopped by his Farragut restaurant, BLT Steak,  to learn how to cook mushroom risotto.

We walk into his kitchen and Chef Albisu pulls out a pan of mushrooms and a big round of Idiazabal cheese from the Basque Country of Spain. “Spain is my favoritist place in the world,” Chef Albisu deadpans. “I’ve been incorporating elements of Basque cuisine into my cooking recently.”  And as he pours oil and rice into a pan, letting Cathy take the spoon, we launch into a conversation about Chef Albisu’s cooking styles and whether garlic is better than truffles. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

The Magic of the Single-Shot Photographer

Photo courtesy of
‘Personal Vision’
courtesy of ‘1Sock’

I read an article in Express yesterday that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. It was about color photographer William Eggleston, whose work is displayed at the Corcoran right now. The part that was amazing to me is his technique: he doesn’t take multiple frames of his subject and pick the best one, like most photographers. He takes one shot. Just one. And they’re not just good, they’re defining-art-photography amazing. This, I have to see. The exhibition, William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, will be open through September 20.

The Daily Feed

Get Ready for Protests

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Fire Horse Leo’

That’s right, folks, it’s World Bank Protest Weekend, which means that people from all over are descending on DC to make nuisances of themselves in front of the World Bank and IMF and in front of various hotels housing various officials that are coming for this weekend’s meeting. Apparently, it’s possible that the teabaggers and the WB/IMF crowds may join forces in the best case of “most unlikely bedfellows” since Youppi and Slapshot got it on to create the Nats’ mascot Screech.

So, if at all possible, avoid the area around WB and IMF this weekend, it’s likely going to be a giant charlie foxtrot within several blocks of there. And hopefully, no one’s going to go throwing bricks in georgetown like they did a few years ago. No one would be that stupid, right? Right?

Oh right, London was a nightmare during the G-20. Get your asshat-resistance gear on, people.

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Equinox, Redux

Chocolate Martinis at Equinox

"Chocolate Martinis at Equinox" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

It was a case of double trouble when I met Katie for a We Love Drinks special at Equinox‘s Chocolate Happy Hour. As two of the food and drink fanatics here at We Love DC, we thought it would be fun to head out together to one of Katie’s favorite spots, a place I’d actually never been. And it did not disappoint. 

Picking a spot for the after-work happy hour is a tricky thing. Equinox has a small bar area really more conducive for pre-dinner drinks than for bringing a group or meeting multiple friends. But for a twosome, it works well… though we certainly perfected the art of lurking menacingly for vacant seats, like two sharks circling for blood (“what’s with the guy at the end of the bar, with the crossword puzzle? come on, close your tab, we want chocolate before spring begins!”)

Finally we were able to nab seats and properly toast farewell to winter with the last of the rich chocolate cocktails – one white chocolate with chambord splash for me, and one dark chocolate with sea salt for Katie. “Hello Saturday morning!” she quipped, and oh yes, these were pretty potent for girly cocktails. Happily not too overtly dairy, just the right taste of cream and salt for a chocolate cocktail. 

Now, the goodies. All happy hours must deliver on the goodies.  Continue reading

Downtown, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Equinox

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

Situated on Farragut Square in the Downtown corridor, Equinox is unassuming on the outside. With a glassed-in atrium, it looks like it was once a lunch eatery or an after-work bar spot that has been transformed, to the best of an interior decorator’s ability, to an upscale dining room. After having a wonderful time at Equinox in the fall, partaking in the fall happy hour, I was dying to try Equinox for a full meal, and Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse.

We were sat, and the meal started out with bread. I love bread – it has the potential to set the tone for the entire meal. Bread can be a warm welcome, a fabulous place for a meal to start, and unfortunately Equinox’s bread fell flat. Well, not the bread so much as the hummus that came with it. I’m a big fan of interesting spreads (hello, honey butter, yogurt dill cheese or herb butter) and so I was excited to try the hummus that came with a pastry puff bread and some sort of fruit and herb bread slices. It was bland. It was mostly tasteless, with sort of a weird aftertaste. I tried it with or without the bread, and have to say, that hummus was a mistake for the chef to send out. I could have gotten better hummus at Trader Joe’s. But luckily, the hummus was the worst part of the entire meal, and everything just got better from there. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Obamas Arrive at Hay-Adams: Street Closures


The Obamas have arrived in DC for the next 10 days, as the girls are starting at Sidwell Friends today, and the President-Elect has business on The Hill talking about the bailout. They’ll be staying at the Hay-Adams for the next 10 days or so, which means additional street closures around the hotel. H Street is closed between Connecticut and Vermont, 16th between H and I is also closed, as well. Avoid the area at all costs if you’re driving.

Downtown, News, The Daily Feed

I Street Closed between 20th & 21st

Traffic Jam
Originally uploaded by winged photography

There’s “Police activity” according to WTOP traffic on I Street between 20th and 21st that has the whole block shutdown. BreakingNewsOn is reporting a Bomb Scare at 2099 Penn, which means rush hour in the downtown core is going to double suck tonight. So, if you’re still in the office, go for a snack and a drink before you head home, you’ll be happier.

If you’ve got details about the scare/closure, drop them in the comments!

All Politics is Local

President-Elect Obama

Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign by Barack Obama

While the final totals are still being tallied, it’s readily apparent that Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States on 20 January 2009. Virginia, DC & Maryland will cast their electors all for Senator Obama in December, the first time they’ve all been cast for the same party since 1964.

Kwame Brown and Michael Brown lead in the At-Large City Council race, with Patrick Mara and Carol Schwartz in 3rd & 4th. Eleanor Holmes Norton will return as our Delegate to the House. Maryland will get both Early Voting & Slot Machines. We still have no freaking idea what happened in Arlington. Well, we do, but it’s hard to believe that DC got their votes up before Arlington county did.

I’m exhausted. It was a rollercoaster tonight, and it ended with an incredible speech by President-Elect Obama. This was the end of his speech tonight, and I think it deserves to be printed here:

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

Congratulations, Mr. President-Elect.