Saturday, December 31, 2011

12 Cocktails of Christmas Countdown: 7 Swans a Swimming

We had a blast serving up some of the 12 Cocktails of Christmas and selling out of my first batch of books at the Metro Show last year.  One of the crowd favorites was the 7 Swans a Swimming from the Capital Cooking Cookbook. This recipe is perfect for your NYE party.

Book Review -- Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat

Now that we’re almost through the overeating season, most of us will be thinking about dieting and exercise. A look at Facebook the day after Christmas confirmed this for me – a lot of moaning about how much people ate, the need to go back to the gym (tomorrow for sure!) and above all, the obvious tone of guilt. This won’t do, according to Dr. Michelle May in her book Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. She’d like you to stop looking at your holiday (over)eating as good or bad. It’s just food.

Food shouldn’t be a reward or a punishment, Dr. May claims, and this means that the Eat to Live/Live to Eat debate is beside the point. Everybody eats to live, and everyone has foods he or she likes better than others. They key to combining the two is to understand yourself and your eating habits and learn to improve them.

You’ve probably seen most of the information in Dr. May’s book before. Magazines like Shape, Self, (Insert-your-gender-here) Health and/or Fitness, Cosmo, and countless others thrive on providing snippets of this sort of advice (with considerably more drama, though, and a lot more exclamation points). Eat What You Love puts it all in one place. Dr. May doesn’t make self-examination fun, but she helps you step through it in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re watching Dr. Phil. And also without “inspirational” photos of people who are obviously far better genetically-endowed than you are.

The first and most important thing, according to Dr. May, is to learn when you’re really hungry, as opposed to when you feel like eating. Seeing or smelling appealing food can trigger hunger, but more often it’s just a desire for that particular food making you think you’re hungry. Once you can objectively evaluate your hunger, you can eat to satisfy it. Don’t wait until you’re too hungry, because you’ll grab whatever’s on hand. But don’t eat when you’re not hungry enough just because you think you might not have a chance to eat later, either. Whether it’s a walk around the office, a glass of water, or a quick e-mail to a friend, there are ways to distract yourself from eating when you’re not really hungry. And there are ways to avoid getting caught without something to eat when you are genuinely hungry, too.

By understanding hunger and its triggers for you, you’ll also be able to navigate situations when you’re going to be exposed to a lot of food, like restaurant meals, parties, and holidays. And yes, you will overeat sometimes, unless you’re an ascetic who finds nirvana in self-deprivation. If you’re attuned to your body’s hunger, though, you will compensate gradually for these occasions, because you’ll feel like eating less. So don’t make them into more than they are – we all have enough things that are more important to worry about.

Obviously, I’m oversimplifying. Understanding why you eat when you’re not hungry isn’t always easy, and Dr. May says up front that addressing the underlying causes is not necessarily something you’ll get from a book. That said, there’s a lot more substance to help here, including important nutrition information, ideas about portion control, advice about not being unrealistic about exercise, and some things to look out for in terms of medical conditions and their relation to food.

Lest you think I’ve gone soft on you, I did have some quibbles after reading it. There’s a fine line between motivation and personal stories to fill pages. The book leans a little too much toward the latter for my taste, and I skipped them after the first few. And while Dr. May clearly tries to avoid psych-speak, some of it sneaks in there anyway (in control vs. in charge...I’m not sure I get it or if I should care one way or the other). The most serious let-down for me, though, is the recipe section. While Dr. May makes no claims that this is a cookbook, she’s married to a professional chef. So I had hoped that the recipes might be more interesting. But even the most casual reader of this blog will have seen the few recipes in the book done better elsewhere.

In the end, though, these things didn’t keep me from thinking the book is useful. It’s worth reading, even if you think you’ve heard it all before. 2012 is a new year, after all, and maybe it’s time for a new approach to eating, too.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thinking of Drinking: Nuovo Inizio

Jeff Faile, Bar Manager at  Fiola, makes some amazing cocktails.  Nuovo Inizio means "New Beginnings" and was the first cocktail on Fiola's list ever. It disappeared during the summer to make a triumphant return this season. This one is a cold weather drink for all the gin lovers out there.

12 Cocktails of Christmas: 6 Geese a Laying

Photo by Emily Clack
Try my fun and tasty drinks for the festive season from the Capital Cooking Cookbook.  Learn how to make some of the 12 Cocktails of Christmas (6 Geese a Laying Recipe Below).  Capital Cooking Cookbook features the Holiday Cocktails, and copies are available online at:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Upcoming Events: NYE

Raise your glass this New Year's Eve!  There are so many fabulous options to ring in the New Year.  Happy 2012!
    • Newseum New Year's Eve Party 2011
    • Graffiato:  Not interested in long lines and cover charges? Head to Graffiato in Chinatown, where it's dinner as usual starting at 5:00pm. Make a toast with the prosecco on tap, and warm up with a Hot in the City - house-pressed pear cider, Jefferson's Rye, winter spices and apple chip. New Year's Eve reservations can only be made by calling 202.289.3600.
    • J and G Steakhouse:  Ring in 2012 in style at J and G Steakhouse. Host a private party in the "New Year's Eve Bubble Lounge," a wine bar package for up to 20 guests that includes perks like a private bartender, valet and private entrance with a red carpet, complimentary cook books and full access to the W Hotel's rooftop POV Lounge. Or, enjoy decadent offerings like foie gras brulé, sautéed Maine lobster and black truffle fritters from the prix fixe menu from 8:00 - 10:00pm. Reservations can be made online, and pricing varies by seating time and wine pairing option. Call  202.661.2440 for all private dining requests.
    • Smith Commons:  Check out Smith Commons on H Street for a sumptuous three-course dinner and dance party this New Year's Eve. For $60 per person, guests can enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres from 7:00 - 9:00pm, a prix fixe menu with highlights like braised short ribs and lobster ragout, a complimentary Moet Imperial Champagne toast at midnight and live music and DJ entertainment until 3:00am. Seatings are from 6:00 - 7:30pm and 9:00 - 10:30pm. Reservations are recommended, and can be made online or by calling 202.396.0038. Smith Commons is also open on New Year's Day for brunch, "Smith Hour" and dinner. 
    • Taberna del Alabardero would like you to join us for a Spanish Style Dinner on New Year’s Eve in the perfect ambiance on Saturday, December 31st. The evening will include live entertainment, a special pre- fixed menu priced at $120 per person (available beginning at 8pm, with regular a la carte option from 5pm-7pm), ringing in the New Years with the Eating of the Grapes at midnight. Contact Marta Molina at or Nicole Wahnon at for more details and reservations. 1776 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 (202) 429-2299 or .

12 Days of Christmas Cocktails: 5 Golden Rings

Photo by Kristen Finn
On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

12 Cocktails of Christmas: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Did you know that the 12 Days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas day?  The 12th day of Christmas is always on the evening of 5 January.  So to begin your 12 days of Christmas, start with A Partridge in a Pear Tree Cocktail.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thinking of Drinking: Alexandria

Jeff Faile, Bar Manager at Fiola, makes some outstanding cocktails.  This one is named after his wife, Alexandria.  It is Fiola's incarnation.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Upcoming Events: Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner

  • Christmas Eve
    • Join Chef Todd Gray at Equinox for an elegant Christmas Eve feast starting at 5:30pm. The menu will include traditional fish dishes and innovative seafood creations, with wine pairings. Top off the evening with a mulled bourbon manhattan served in a festive, ginger-rimmed martini glass. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 202.331.8118. (Price TBD).  

Happy Birthday Ashley!

Happy Anniversary One Lounge!

Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is more than lots of drinking and eating. It is about drinking, eating, and helping those less fortunate. That's why the 2nd anniversary of One Lounge in Dupont was such a good time and roaring success. The silent auctions and a toy drive helped owners Niko Papademetriou and Seth McClelland raise over $3,000 and collect over 150 toys all which benefited the Washington Children's Hospital.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Opening: Tortilla Coast in Logan Circle

The newest addition to the Logan Circle restaurant scene is Tortilla Coast (2nd location), featuring authentic regional Mexican cuisine. During a media event this week the restaurant showcased some of their best dishes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thinking of Drinking: Limoncello-Cran Fizz

Photo by Emily Clack
You know I'm a huge fan of seasonal cocktails.  Try this new Limoncello-Cran Fizz. 

Thinking of Drinking: Meleto

Jeff Faile, Bar Manager at  Fiola, makes some amazing cocktails.  This one screams fall and winter flavors.  I'm not normally a huge fan of whiskey, but this one is good!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Upcoming Events: Winter Solstice Dinner, Gingerbread House Decorating and More...

  • Winter Solstice Dinner - Friday, December 16 An Equinox tradition, celebrate the winter solstice with a four-course seasonal dinner and wine pairings. This year, Equinox introduces its first executive chef, Karen Nicolas, whose own commitment to using fresh, seasonal ingredients rings true in her inspired menu. Together, Chef Gray and Chef Nicolas will guide guests through the menu and celebrate the holiday season. Dinner is $125 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 202.331.8118.

Dinner at Fiola and a Show

This week we checked out Fiola's pre-theater three-course menu.  Priced at $35 per person, not including tax and gratuity, the pre-theater menu will be served in the restaurant Monday through Thursday from 5:30 – 6:00 PM

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eat With Your Eyes: Salt-Cured Salmon with Dill Potatoes

Lisa Elmqvist opened in 1926 to provide the best seafood to the people of Stockholm. I tried the salt cured salmon with dill potatoes.  It was so delicious with the sweet mustard dill sauce.  Amazing!  Are you drooling?  I just got another taste of this fabulous dish last night at the House of Sweden.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best of 2011

Lisa of Dining in DC, Johnna of Johnna Knows Good Food and I have picked our favorite restaurants of 2011 and now we want to hear from you.  Please tell us what you think is the best and we'll announce the winners before the end of the year!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

BBQ Bus Holiday House party

There’s one more option on the restaurant scene in Georgetown, but you have to catch it quick because it will be gone before you know it. For one week only, BBQ Bus DC teams up with Uncurbed to move their operation indoors.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Season for Giving

Photo by Kristen Finn
Give back to your community by using your passion for food.  It is easy to get wrapped up in the gifts and buying, but it is so rewarding to give back.

Celebrate the Holidays with Washington Wine Academy

This week the Washington Wine Academy is hosting a holiday wine tasting and tour on Thursday night. The evening begins at their Crystal City location with a tasting of ten wines, 5 whites and 5 reds. The wines vary in varietals from Riesling to Zinfandel, so there is something to suit everyone’s tastes. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and provides great detail on the wines coupled with fun stories about varietals from around the world.

Friday Night Game Roast at Watershed

Have you been to one of the fabulous roasts at Watershed?  If not, you've got to check it out when they pick up again in February.  

For only $75, you can enjoy a delicious meal with friends with local beer and an awesome band!  The Walkaways Band performs live music throughout the whole evening.  We loved the October Fish Fry, but the Game Roast was even better.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Farmer's Markets in the winter with Melissa Clark

Believe it or not, Melissa Clark began her love affair with the farmer’s market, in the dead of winter. On Wednesday night, as she read the introduction from her latest cookbook, Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make, I realized that most people abandon our beloved Eastern Market and neighborhood farmer’s markets in the winter time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Cocktails: Keep 'em Coming!

The holidays bring lots of parties and lots of food and drinks to be had. Pour me a cocktail and keep 'em coming. I love a party with a signature drink. Check out more of my fun and festive cocktail recipes here.

Photo by Shauna Alexander

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Upcoming Events: Jose Andres, Wine Events and More...

  •  CHEF JOSÉ ANDRÉS TO SPEAK AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES: This event will be held on December 8th in the William G. McGowan theater at 7:00pm. Doors open at 6:30pm and seating is first come first serve so be sure to get there early! For more information about this event, please click here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eat with Your Eyes: Fish and Chips

Is your mouth watering?  You can find this Fish and Chips Roll at SEI or only $10.  Do you have a food photo that would make others drool?  If so, email me at and we can include it in Eat with your Eyes.
Photo by Emily Clack

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Top 5 Brunch Spots in DC

I love to make brunch on Sundays, but sometimes I just don't feel like messing with the clean-up.  On those days, I like to go to:

2 Free Tickets to See Melissa Clark!

Enter now to win 2 free tickets to see Melissa Clark!  Simply comment your favorite recipe below!

Six Geese a Laying Some Awesome Prizes for You!

Cheers!  Don't miss out on some 12 Days of Christmas fun!!  For the 1st 12 days of December, 12 Washington DC area blogs have gotten together to do a massive giveaway of great prizes, culminating with a grand prize and donation to the World Food Program.

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Taste: Elisir

From the moment I heard about Elisir Restaurant, I couldn't wait for the opening.  I had my first taste of Chef Enzo Fargione’s talent at Teatro Goldoni.  He has a personalized vision and interpretation of modern Italian cooking that makes eating fun.  Elisir means elixir in Italian and Enzo wanted to create that light and refreshing feeling when dining in his restaurant.

Holiday Party: Chocolate Almond Biscotti

It is time to start making some holiday cookies for friends and family.  Do you have any fun recipes to share?  Try my Chocolate Almond Biscotti (Italian for Twice Baked).

Founding Farmers New Potomac Location

If you are looking for a fun and hip place to eat and have drinks in the Maryland suburbs, then look no further then the new Founding Farmers in Potomac, MD.  

Happy Holidays!

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Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Cocktails of Christmas? Yes, Please!

General Manager/Beverage Director Francesco Amodeo and Bartender Milton Hernandez have joined forces behind the bar at Ashok Bajaj’s Bibiana to create 25 new seasonally-inspired cocktails; a countdown to December 25th and the merrymaking holidays.  I was feeling pretty merry after the tasting;)  We're hoping they add a Kristen and a Lauren to the list next year.

Thinking of Drinking: Warm Winter Cocktails

Tis the season to warm up while you sip.  There are some fabulous spots around town that will help you do just that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

12 Days. 12 DC Blogs. 12 Awesome Prizes!

Announcing the first Washington DC Multi-blog Giveaway of its kind!

For the 1st 12 days of December, 12 Washington DC area blogs have gotten together to do a massive giveaway of great prizes, culminating with a grand prize and donation to the World Food Program.

Upcoming Events

Acqua Al 2 is celebrating the launch of their new Italian Craft Beer Program with a week of complimentary tastings and a special December 5th Italian Beer Dinner

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

El Centro Gets New Menu Items

El Centro is a great neighborhood hot spot and I enjoyed dining there for my third time last week.  It is a fun place to enjoy drinks on the roof in the summer, but you can try it this winter as well because they've enclosed the rooftop. 

Eat with your Eyes: dolsot bibim bap

Is your mouth watering?  You can find this dolsot bibim bap at Mandu for only $13.  Do you have a food photo that would make others drool?  If so, email me at and we can include it in Eat with your Eyes.
Photo by Emily Clack

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Perfect Pair: Beer Pairing Dinner at 901

Tuesday is all about pairing food and drinks.  This week Executive Chef Thomas Hall of 901 helped us out!  Chef Thomas worked closely with Brewmaster Mike McCarthy, 901 director of brewing operations, to create the perfect beer pairings. 901 recently opened in Penn Quarter and has a playful atmosphere.   

Opening: Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant

You might remember my friends, Heath and Brett, from our Thrill of the Grill episode of Capital Cooking.   Now, Pork Barrel BBQ is pleased to announce it has fired up its smoker and will open the first Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant to guests tonight for dinner between 5:00pm and 10:00pm. Pork Barrel BBQ co-founders Heath Hall and Brett Thompson partnered with veteran restaurateurs “Mango” Mike Anderson and Bill Blackburn in 2009 with the goal of turning their dreams of creating a gathering place for the community centered around their national award winning barbecue into a reality.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Weekend

How was your Turkey Day?  Sadly ours didn't go as planned.  We were so excited for my mom and sister to come out for a visit, but my mom had an unexpected surgery so they couldn't make it. 

Memphis Barbeque Opens December 5th!

Initial Thoughts:
  • Design and Decor:  The space is large and has brick walls and porcelain tile floor. The city of Memphis is celebrated through the use of photographs and artwork of Blues musician icons as well as images of the city.
  • Food:  Slow-cooked meats are smoked over hickory wood from two smokers and finished with a selection of tomato and vinegar based sauces. 
  • Drinks:  Limited beer and wine selection
  • Would I go back?  I'd go back if I was in the area.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cookbook Review: A Well-Seasoned Kitchen

It’s hard to resist the premise of A Well-Seasoned Kitchen: Classic Recipes for Contemporary Living, a mother and daughter recipe collection. When Sally Clayton began to suffer from memory loss, her daughter Lee Clayton Roper decided to spend more time with her mother in the kitchen, remaking family favorites. The result is a loving tribute that’s touching and beautifully presented.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers: The Clerk

Here's a fun recipe for "The Clerk" - a delish sandwich that Johnny Mo the Musical Chef - chef/owner of Mallards Restaurants, Catering, and Entertainment located on the Eastern Shore of VA - makes for friends, family, and guests at his restaurants using Thanksgiving leftovers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eat with Your Eyes: Chicken Cordon Bleu

This week's Eat with Your Eyes was submitted by a reader.  Doesn't the Chicken Cordon Bleu look yummy? You can find this dish at Poços Grill restaurant in Brazil. I want to go there to taste it!!
Photo by Cathia C. Mamede 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

KC Baby!

The best part about weddings is catching up with old friends.  Last weekend, we celebrated Charlie and Jacquie Stenger's wedding day in Kansas City.  I was so excited to see one of my best friends, Jolene.  The trip started off well with an upgrade to First Class!  Yes!  Jolene picked us up and we went to meet some friends (Mark, Hannah, Kevin and Laney) at The Cashew. The Cashew has a good liquor selection and a fun atmosphere for drinks.  
The Cashew on Urbanspoon