Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rest in Peace Chris

So sad to hear the news that one of our DC friends passed away.  Chis Crowe always lit up the room with his big smile. Chris loved food just as much as me and always had the best travel stories.  We will always remember and miss you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sips and Bites Special at J and G Steakhouse Wine Bar

Starting tomorrow, make your way over to J and G Steakhouse for a new Sips and Bites Menu.  You can't beat this deal!  Choose one pairing for $8 or three for $20. Available Monday through Friday in the Wine Bar, a hidden gem on the lower level of J and G Steakhouse in the W Hotel.  Every option is delicious.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Iceland: Grilled

For our third restaurant of the evening at Food and Fun in Iceland, Guest Chef Chris Parsons from Massachusetts started us off with a plate of art featuring Icelandic Arctic char at Grilled.  With a delicate taste and rosy flesh, Icelandic arctic char is a light and refined alternative to salmon.  It is one of the northernmost fresh water fish found in Iceland.  Chris did an excellent job with the presentation.

Overview: Kababji Grill

Capital Cooking Kababji Grill - slide show
Photos by Lauren DeSantis

I was pleasantly surprised to taste the food at Kababji Grill.  The house made pita chips and Lebanese olives are a perfect way to start the meal.  The hummus is so fresh and creamy and the Baba Ghannouj has a rich smoky flavor from grilling the eggplant over charcoal.  I loved the grape leaves, fried cheese rolls, kebbeh and yogurt sauce.  Kababji would be  a great place to stop in for a full meal or  even for appetizers and cocktails.  The bar is spacious and I've heard they make mojitos with their homemade mint infused lemonade.  Fabulous for the summer or anytime of year and their patio will be opening soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Special Preview: Sweet Endings

Photo by Kristen Finn
Sweet Endings Final from Capital Cooking on Vimeo.

Join Capital Cooking’s Lauren DeSantis and enter into a land of sugar: home-baked cupcakes, fresh mint truffles, sweet wine pairings, and two fun cocktails: a Chocolate Covered Cherry Cocktail and a Thin-Minti.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet Treat: Popcorn Palace

Looking for a fun Sweet Treat to give to friends or family this Spring? Popcorn Palace has some delicious flavors to pick from.  I liked:
  • Chocolate Drizzle Caramel
  • Coconut Cloud Nine
  • Curry Copia
  • Chipotle Cheese
  • Softly Salted
Great gift idea for something different.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hot Dog Season: Bæjarins beztu pylsur

Photo from Engineer Blake
The weather is starting to warm up and it is almost time for the opening day of National's baseball.  There is nothing better than sitting outside and eating a hot dog.  Iceland probably has the best hot dogs in the world and lucky for us, starting in May, Iceland Air will offer nonstop flights from DC to Iceland. Reykjavik has some amazing nightlife that goes until 6 a.m., so at about 1 a.m., when your starting your evening, it is best to stop by Bæjarins beztu pylsur for and early evening snack.   

Bæjarins beztu pylsur translates to "The Best Hot Dogs in Town."  But for me, I'd change the name to Best Hot Dogs in the World.  The hot dog is made with lamb meat and has the perfect snap.  The sauce combination is awesome.  You've got to order it with the works:  yellow sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion, and remolaði, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish.  So get your start planning your trip now and fly to Iceland in May and check out the hot dogs.  I've got some funny footage including some shots of the hot dog stand. 

Presenting Lionfish: Cooked at The National Aquarium

It was a night out at the aquarium. Flowing champagne, crepe cones of delicate salmon tartar, and some wonderfully fishy company.   

Guests of the National Aquarium’s sustainable seafood dining series participated in an ocean friendly gourmet experience amongst the eye catching pink and purple sea anemones, exotic tree frogs, and all the happy clown fish. 

The Organization of American States Celebrates Peruvian Cuisine

On March 22nd, the Organization of American States (OAS) hosted an event celebrating the history and significance of Peruvian cuisine. Peru's Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage, Bernardo Roca-Rey, accepted formal recognition of the award. Roca-Rey, a seasoned journalist and President of the Peruvian Gastronomy Association, spoke with passion and mastery about the origins of Peru’s cuisine.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 RAMMY Nominees!

Known as the “Oscars of DC area restaurants”, the RAMMY Awards recognize and award excellence and achievement in the DC Metropolitan restaurant industry. The 2011 RAMMY Award winners will be announced at the RAMMY gala on June 26, 2011 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. The theme of the 2011 RAMMY Awards is “Carnevale da Cuisine,” and celebrates the international and multi-cultural carnevale of cuisine the DC area offers. Tickets to the RAMMYS may be purchased by calling
202.331.5990 or by email at

Judging Food and Fun in Iceland: Seafood Cellar

Our second destination for judging the Food and Fun competition in Iceland led us the Seafood Cellar with Chef Even Ramsvik from Norway.
At the Seafood Cellar the New Nordic kitchen is in the forefront. It's a seasonal restaurant that worships everything that the Icelandic nature has to offer, as well as using a few things from Scandinavia. Their policy is to only use the freshest ingredients nature has to bring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Iceland: La Primavera

Photo by Emily Clack
So the judging begins at La Primavera with my team of judges, Marcus Jernmark of Aquavit and Fridrik Sigurosson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland. 
Photo by Emily Clack
La Primavera is a contemporary Italian restaurant which merges Northern Italian influences with local Icelandic products. Owner and chef Leifur Kolbeinsson spends a lot of his time in Italy studying and mastering the techniques and philosophy of the Italian cuisine. La Primavera has taken the pleasure in introducing Icelanders to the delicacies of Italian cuisine.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time for a Lunch Break with Capital Cooking

It’s time to break for lunch as Lauren DeSantis, host of Capital Cooking, shows viewers how to make a fulfilling and satisfying meal that goes beyond the typical lunch fare. Special guest Anita Estell, a local D.C. lobbyist, assists Lauren in the kitchen and shares stories of life in the city on the latest episode of Capital Cooking.

The Icelandic Adventure Continues: Cooking Segment at Restaurant Holt

Photo by Emily Clack
After enjoying the beautiful sights of the Gullfoss and Geyser and enjoying a delicious meal at the Trophy Lodge, we headed back to the Hilton for a quick nap.  I still hadn't quite figured out what New Nordic Cuisine meant, but I was about to get a taste of some local Icelandic ingredients.

Photos by Emily Clack

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Iceland: The Blue Lagoon

Photo by Sigurjon Ragnar
One of my favorite spots in Iceland was the Blue Lagoon.  The Blue Lagoon is a large outdoor pool in the middle of the snowy mountains filled with geothermal seawater.  We filmed a little more of the Capital Cooking Show before enjoying the water.
Photo by Sigurjon Ragnar

An Alternative to Diet Soda

For a new "diet" soda, check out Zevia, the first all natural, zero calorie soda sweetened with stevia.
With 100 percent natural formulas that are vegan, Kosher and gluten-free, Zevia is available in many flavors including: Cola, Ginger Root Beer, Dr. Zevia, Black Cherry, Ginger Ale, Lemon Lime Twist and Orange. New flavors debuting this year include: Grape, Mountain Zevia, Grapefruit Citrus, Caffeine Free Cola and Cream Soda.
Available at Whole Foods

Friday, March 18, 2011

Carrot Cake in Iceland

Photo by Sigurjon Ragnar
So during my judging experience for Food and Fun in Iceland, our favorite dessert was the deconstructed carrot cake. The first time I tasted Chef Even Ramsvik's (Oslo, Norway's Ylajali) version at Seafood Cellar, I thought it was a very creative idea. He made his version with sea buckthorns and carrots, cream cheese with pistachios, a lemon thyme meringue and sea buckthorn jelly paired with a Glen Carlou Welder Chenin Blanc. My other judge-mate, Chef Marcus Jernmark from Aquavit, disagreed with me and said, the dish had been done thousands of times and was in Thomas Keller's cookbook. We liked Chef Even's food so much that we picked him as the finalist out of our 5 different restaurant experiences.

At the finals, I realized he was right when we had to judge 2 out of the 3 desserts of deconstructed carrot cake. Even's was the best in Iceland, but for me, his still doesn't beat my Aunt Linda's Award Winning Carrot Cake. I'm going to try to play around with the original recipe to see if I can make my own version of the deconstructed cake to wow my friends in DC. This will be perfect for a spring soiree.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pound the hill


Pound’s newest location right around the corner from the Eastern Market metro stop, adds personality to the block. What separates Pound from all the other coffee shops in DC? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Functional Gourmet Food

Eating fast food because it's the only convenient option is no longer an acceptable excuse for those in DC with Litestars now in the neighborhood.

Our Icelandic Adventure Begins

Photo by Nick Szpara
We left DC at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday and arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland at about 7 a.m. on Thursday.  Iceland Air will actually begin direct flights from DC to Iceland starting in May. 
Photos by Emily Clack
Once we landed, we met some fellow Washingtonians (Gus DeMillo, Jeff Buben, Jeff Tunks and David) and made our way to the Hilton Nordica for some Food and Fun.  The Hilton has absolutely breathtaking views.
Photo by Sigurjon Ragnar
Running on empty, but full of adrenaline, we were in for a long day.  We quickly checked in and boarded the bus to our fist destination in Iceland:  The Gullfoss.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Truck Stop

Mark your calendars for March 31st so you don't miss the return of Food Truck Thursdays and its happy hour series!

Chinatown Coffee Co. will co-host a happy hour every Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. featuring a different DC food truck each week. With the weather warming up and Washingtonian’s Food Truck Fight going strong, Food Truck Thursdays is perfectly fitting.

The featured truck of the week will be parked on the corner of 5th and H Street, NW. In addition, Chinatown Coffee Co. will be offering $3 beer specials as well as a selection of wine and absinthe. Customers are welcome to purchase food outside and bring it inside the shop to eat and enjoy the beverage selection.

Be sure to stop by every Thursday starting at the end of the month and have a taste of the different offerings before they hit the road!

The Line Up:

March 31: Takorean

April 7: Red Hook Lobster Pound

April 14: Fojol Bros.

April 21: DC Empanadas

April 28: Big Cheese

May 5: Sabor’a Street

May 12: Eat Wonky

May 19: CapMac

May 26: DC Slices

June 2: PORC

For more information, visit

Sofitel Washington DC Debuted the new Low-Calorie "De-Light" Menu

Photos by Kristen Finn

ICI Urban Bistro is now offering a French De-Light Menu featuring many low-calorie options.  I enjoyed the Salmon Tartare Appetizer and loved the Fromage Blanc Ice Cream with Red berry coulis.  You can mix and match the De-Light option with the regular menu.  They also offer refreshing champagne that only has 68 calories per glass.  Chef Perret's De-Light menu will now be featured permanently so guests can enjoy healthful options all year long.  Also, stay tuned for Capital Cooking's Bistro Cooking episode where Chef Perret shows us how to make Braised Lamb Shank with Goat Cheese Polenta.  So delicious!

Monday, March 14, 2011

8th Annual Open-Air Georgetown French Market

This April, The Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) will host the 8th Annual Open-Air Georgetown French Market--a European market bringing French flavors and shopping deals at more than 30 Georgetown merchants. Marked as one of DC's most charming outdoor shopping events of the year, the French Market will return to the Book Hill neighborhood April 29-30, 20011 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. 

It’s Time to “Reduce and Concord” with Capital Cooking

Photo by Shauna Alexander
It’s always a perfect time of year to enjoy the sweet and savory aromas that fill the home after cooking a tasty meal. Lauren DeSantis, host of Capital Cooking, does just that as she walks viewers through delicious dishes all made with wine.

Lauren begins the show with port poached pears and a zabaglione cream. Allowing the port to reduce infuses each pear with a delectable and sweet taste that will coalesce wonderfully with the zabaglione cream. As the pears simmer in the port, Lauren begins on the creamy mushroom ragout, which sits on a puff pastry with sautéed spinach. Bacon, mushrooms, garlic and onion are sautéed together until white wine is used to deglaze the ragout. The puff pasty cups will help create a beautiful presentation, as well as delicious to eat.

Lauren ends the show with a creamy chicken Marsala, which is a perfect dish to make after a long day because of it s heartiness and pleasant taste. After allowing the bacon and onion to reduce, the chicken is added to absorb the bacon fat. The bacon fat is later used to create the Marsala sauce after it is deglazed with Marsala wine. Combine the sauce with the chicken and pancetta and viewers will have another memorable dish to enjoy.

This episode of Capital Cooking is not to be missed as viewers have the opportunity to learn the skills required when cooking with wine. Watch Capital Cooking on the Dish Network channels 9396 and 9407.  It will air EST:
Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday at 9:00 p.m. and midnight
Friday at 3 a.m.
Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Capital Cooking is the first television show of its kind and now airs in more than 20 million households on Dish Network through CoLours TV. Capital Cooking highlights cooking traditions of regional cuisine from all areas of the country as well as international dishes.  Throughout the series, DeSantis will incorporate entertaining tips into the shows, will cook with local chefs, and will demonstrate how to make recipes with ingredients that viewers can find at local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Visit for more information on upcoming events and for daily updates.

Food and Fun 2011 in Iceland

Photo by Sigurjon Ragnar
The world acclaimed Food and Fun festival is an international gastronomical festival that attracts chefs and guests from all over the world to come to Reykjavik, Iceland and join up with the restaurant scene and participate in a cooking event where the Icelandic natural and healthy food is combined with a lot of fun.  This year I was one of the judges for the competition.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recipe: Tuscan Panzanella Salad

Photo by Janelle Rigler
The Tuscan Panzanella Salad is featured in the Capital Cooking Cookbook.  Get your copy today!!

As seen on the “Picnic Pleasers” episode by Chef Domenico Cornacchia of Assaggi
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 European cucumber
1 celery heart
½ red onion
1 cup day old country bread, diced
1 cup fresh basil
2 balls buffalo mozzarella
1 tablespoon spoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine the diced day-old country bread with some of the vinegar and set aside for ten minutes to marinate.  Dice all the ingredients and using a mixing bowl add the rest of the vinegar, along with the hand chopped basil, sea salt and olive oil.  Mix all together until well incorporated and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe: Caipiroska

Photo by Janelle Rigler
In the mood for a light and refreshing drink?  Try this Caipiroska.  You'll be delighted!!  Also in the Capital Cooking Cookbook.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras and Lent

Fat Tuesday is tomorrow. Lent is a Catholic tradition that begins today, Ash Wednesday, and ends 40 days later on the Thursday before Easter. The past couple of years my husband and I have given up drinking at home by ourselves. I bet you are thinking that we are complete alcoholics, but after a long day of legal work, it is always nice to take the edge off with a glass of wine to wind down and relax. We sacrifice this nightly ritual to encourage ourselves to go out and socialize. It is always easy to come home after work, but it is important to keep up with friends and this helps us do just that. I'm planning to keep it up this year. Anyone want to go to the bar? 

Jessica Patterson Photography

Now Through March 8th, Anyone That ‘Likes’ Cal Tort On Facebook Will Receive Coupon For One Free Item

California Tortilla has launched a special Facebook promotion to reward loyal fans while also attracting new fans.  From now through March 8th, anyone who ‘likes’ California Tortilla on the social networking site will be rewarded with a special coupon, the value of which will be contingent upon how many people “like” California Tortilla. The coupon will be posted on and valid only on March 9th.  

Picnic Pleasing Recipes on Capital Cooking

Photo by Janelle Rigler
The Nation’s capital is a picnic hot spot, where you can intimately enjoy a home-cooked meal with the history of America.  On the newest episode of Capital Cooking, Lauren DeSantis, with the help of Chef Domenico Cornacchia of Assaggi, shares her flavorful recipes that keep it simple, yet delicious, for day out of a basket.

The Fabric of Life : Embassy of Sweden

The Swedish embassy celebrated the opening of their new design exhibit The Fabric of Life last week in style. The exhibit features pieces made by 17 female interior designers and 2 interactive rooms made for bonding with your children. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bistro Cooking and Pairing with First Vine

We had the best time filming our Bistro Cooking episode over the weekend.  We worked with First Vine to pair the perfect wines with the dishes.  We used the Delice wine in the soup.

Event: Makes-Me-Wanna SHOUT! Coconut Cake Challenge Semifinals

Eatonville Restaurant and Church Lady Cake Diaries present Makes-Me-Wanna SHOUT! Coconut Cake Challenge Semifinals to benefit Miriam's Kitchen Who will advance to the Finals for a chance to win the $500 prize for the Best Coconut Cake? You be the Judge! Saturday, March 19 from 2 - 4 PM Miriam's Kitchen 2401 Virginia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037.  Tickets are $15/person.  Proceeds benefit Miriam's Kitchen. 

Tickets can be purchased online or directly from Miriam's Kitchen.

Here are link options for persons to purchase tickets online (you only need to use one)

CHURCH LADY CAKE DIARIES WEBSITE (click on the Eventful widget)