Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eating around Town

I've been so busy enjoying fabulous food around town, that is hard to keep up with telling you all about it.  Here's what I've tasted lately:
Photo by Kristen Finn

Ardeo+Bardeo's new spring menu features a delicious potato soup, new cocktails and more.  When your in the mood to sit outside, check out Ardeo's roof top.   Ardeo also offers lots of tasty pizzas.
Ardeo+Bardeo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 29, 2011

DC Grey Market Redefines Traditional Market

Food markets rarely excite me. As a child, I was sort of brainwashed into thinking food markets were boring events that just sold different types of tomatoes and squash. I always went to the local farmer’s market with my parents to look for fresh produce for the week, and if I didn’t complain too much about being there, I was able to have a black-and-white cookie. Yet as I’ve matured to the ripe age of 21, I’ve found food markets to be quite different. The market I visited on May 21 at Local 16 was extremely different than the ones I frequented as a child: instead of squashes and tomatoes for sale, decadent and delicious custom foods were for sale and on display.

Of the 25 vendors from the greater DC-area who came and participated in the DC Grey Market, it’s difficult for me to narrow the one that impressed me the most. On that note, I tried so many different kinds of food that it would be impossible for me to review each item. So while the homemade graham crackers were delicious, the peppermint macaroons savory, the Kombucha interesting, to say the least, and the authentic Cuban sandwich rich with flavor, they unfortunately did not make the cut.

What separated this food market from others that I’ve attended is its location: indoors, as opposed to the traditional outdoor, tent-wielding events that food markets are associated. While there was an outdoor deck on the second floor, which was a good place to sit and relax, many of the vendors sold their items in a tight hallway. In this hallway though, amongst the hoards of people, I tasted a most delicious chocolate banana graham cracker: chocolate graham crackers topped with homemade fudge and slices of chilled bananas. I sincerely believe this is Harold Camping’s idea of heaven.

The initial taste into the graham cracker concoction was very cool and crisp. The vendor did an effective job of cooling the fudge so it wasn’t too runny; the chilled banana worked well with the fudge. The tropical banana and chocolate pairing work well, and the homemade graham cracker provided a necessary crunch that made the treat much more enticing. Surprisingly, the dessert did not leave you with an overdose of chocolate in your mouth (as if that would be a bad thing!). The banana counterbalanced the sweet, and left you feeling your sweet-tooth had been satisfied.

I continued eating dessert before my main course with lemon and rosemary ice cream on a cone. The first lick of the ice cream leaves you feeling like you’ve been hit by a brick of solid lemon flavor. The sour taste of the lemon was refreshing, though. Paired with the cream, it was also surprisingly light. I expected the ice cream to be creamy, and it tasted more like a sherbet than anything. Yet following the lemon extravaganza was the pleasant flare of rosemary. The rosemary contrasts the lemon incredibly well; the sour worked well with the bitter, as the aromatic experience of the ice cream was delicious. The ice cream very much tasted and smelled like a garden because of the earthy and pleasant flavors it produced.

The final sampling had so much flavor, expression and zest that it was difficult for me to not to take another. The hors’devour had a small, cracker shell, and it was filled with smoked salmon, wasabi cream cheese, capers, red onions, and basil. Each of the listed flavors is distinct and strong in its own way, which made combining them very interesting. The initial tasting left me unsure about what flavor was predominant in the food. Yes, I detected smoked salmon, yet the wasabi cream cheese enhanced that flavor. Capers, one of my favorite ingredients, worked with the red onions and basil to create a garden-tasting sensation in my mouth. The natural and earthy-smelling and tasting hors’devour incorporated the crispy shell into the flavor, too, to ensure that the entire tasting experience was appreciated. Without the shell, the hors’devour would have been delicious, but certainly lacking a crunch to incorporate all of the flavors. As it turns out, the shell was the bond between the varying wasabi and salmon, and the garden flavors that really made the entire sample work.

The DC Grey Market is unorthodox: it’s neither held outdoors, nor does it scream for visitors with flashy ads. Instead, the cozy nook is a subtle yet lively event that attracts food lovers from around the area. The food I sampled was delicious; it’s impossible to narrow down what I enjoyed the most. Regardless of the packed crowd, I had an incredible time tasting food from the area, and I’m most certainly looking forward to attending the event again sometime soon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thinking of Drinking: 3 Granitas

Yes, it is Friday again, and you know what I'm thinking about...DRINKING!   This is a big weekend of fun and it is going to be hot.  Casa Nonna's gorgeous outdoor 26-seat patio offers the perfect location to enjoy a spring/summer cocktail or leisurely meal the Italian way. To accompany the beautiful warm weather, Casa Nonna is serving a selection of Granita Cocktails ($12), made from sweetened ice infused with fresh fruit.  The restaurant serves the refreshing slushy drinks to diners on the patio looking to cool down with an authentic Italian treat.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Upcoming Food and Wine Fun

Photo by Emily Clack
Lots of Food and Fun coming up in DC:

Proof will now provide the battleground for one of the fiercest competitions in the world of wine: War of the Rosés. Throughout the summer, the wine-centric restaurant will offer a rotating selection of summer’s most sought after sippers for just $35 a bottle, allowing guests to enjoy several different bottles of the blush-colored beverage, and decide for themselves which one reigns supreme.  


Attention Interns:  Get some deals for all of your hard work.  Capital Cooking is excited to have Eric Wilkens starting with us this summer.  He's already been adding some great blog posts.  Keep up the good work.

We'll miss Diana, Paula and Simone this summer!  Capital Cooking would not be possible without the help of our fabulous interns so I'm happy to tell you about the InternsROCK! program.

Burgers and Shakes: Fried Pickles

With the excitement of National Burger Month, you need something to serve on top of or along side your juicy burger.  Miss Jenny of Miss Jenny's Pickles recently joined us on Capital Cooking's Burgers and Shakes episode to let us in on her secret recipe for Frickles.  We first met Miss Jenny at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show and we were so happy to have her as a guest.  
Miss Jenny shared more than just her Frickle recipe...she inspired us with her story about starting a pickle company after losing her job with the rough economy.  It is wonderful to see small businesses achieving success and Miss Jenny is a perfect example.  You'll be able to catch the episode next month on WETA Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weekend Fun: Toast of the Town, Preakness and Lamb Jam

This weekend was jam packed full of food and fun!  We started Friday night at Toast of the Town.  Toast of the Town lived up to the expectations.  The Wine Enthusiast put on a spectacular event at the National Building Museum featuring 500 wines and 35 top restaurants.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Event: DC gets a taste of New Nordic Cuisine!

Photos by Emily Clack
I began my exploration of New Nordic Cuisine in Iceland, but now you will have the chance to get a taste right here in DC.    Lucky for you, the embassies of the Nordic countries are bringing the region’s best and most creative chefs to the United States for the very first time.  Don't miss the Nordic Food Days June 19-26th!

Burgers and Shakes: Sweet Potato Fries

By Kristen Finn
Since May is National Burger Month, you need something to serve along side your juicy burger.  Mark Bucher of BGR recently joined us on Capital Cooking's Burgers and Shakes episode to let us in on his secret recipe.  You'll be able to catch the episode next month on WETA Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review: The Homesteader's Kitchen

Initial Thoughts:
  • Photos:  Some photos of ingredients, but I wish there were more of the finished dishes.
  • Recipes:  Lots of healthy recipes using fresh ingredients.  Most are accessible

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Starbucks' Exotic Flavors Impress

I always thought my last day on Earth before the (now-defunct) Rapture would be sitting at a Starbucks at Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street sipping exotic coffees. Indeed, there I was on May 20, taking part in a coffee tasting of three of Starbucks’ newest Reserve coffees: the Sumatra Tapanuli, the Rwanda Gakenke, and the Kenya. I was joined by two other food lovers, as well as two corporate Starbucks employees to explain the coffee tasting process.

Book Review: High Flavor, Low Labor

Initial Thoughts:
  • Photos:  Beautiful photography throughout the book
  • Recipes:  The recipes use familiar ingredients and seem accessible to the home cook.

Friday, May 20, 2011

DC Beer Has Got It Going On

I recently returned to the United States after a four-month study abroad experience, in which I not only hit the books, toured many countries, but also sampled many beers from Europe along the way. Yet after tasting some incredible brews from England and Prague, the apparent beer capital of the world, I was anxious to return to the USA to see how the local brews in Europe compared to those in DC. I was pleasantly surprised by what I tasted on May 19, as I visited and sampled an array of beers at the Celebrate American Craft Beer Week at Smith Commons.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Around the World Embassy Tour Provides Good Eats

The 2011 Around the World Embassy Tour featured not only 35 different embassies opening their doors for visitors, but also a chance for tourists to sample native foods from participating countries. While Italy did not participate, for possible fear of thousands of tourists swarming upon the embassy looking for free chicken parmigiana and pizza, an array of other countries did participate, including Nepal, Kazakhstan, Micronesia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti.

Re-cap: Kidsave

Nothing better than combining great food for a great cause.  The Kidsave event raised money to find orphans permanent homes.  The stories warmed our hearts.  Top area chefs and the local food service industry supported  this premiere foodie event, in which competitors prepared their favorite main dishes in hopes of being voted D.C.’s Best Main Dish award winner. It was wonderful to see all of the chefs giving back by participating in the event.  Some dishes really stood out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just Opened: SAX

Capital Cooking got an inside look at the recently opened SAX.  SAX is an exclusive lounge and restaurant with provocative live entertainment designed to amuse, please and divert the senses with opulent grandeur.  As you can see from the collage, the interior design is beautiful. 

Don't Miss Toast of the Town DC this Friday, May 20th!

Toast of the Town D.C. will be taking over the National Building Museum with more than 500 wines, spirits and beers and 35 local restaurants on Friday, May 20th 2011!

Overview: Railstop Gastro Pub

Recently, I attended the opening of Railstop Gastropub. Located within the Crown Plaza Old Town, this pub brings a new twist to traditional bar food in a comfortable setting.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Great Grapes Re-cap

Photos by Kristen Finn
I participated in the  Great Grapes event in Reston, VA earlier this month.  
I demonstrated wine to pair with three recipes from the Capital Cooking Cookbook including:  tzatziki, Ceviche and Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad using JD Gourmet Barrel Aged Balsamic. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spotlight: Hilary from the Cupcake Avenger

Tell us about your blog.
My blog is The Cupcake Avenger--dedicated to all things baking, dessert and, of course, cupcake.  In addition to checking out cupcake shops in town and around the world, my blog is also dedicated to baking and desserts in general, reviews of cupcake-related news and products, and with a focus on home-baked recipes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Afternoon at the Races: Re-cap

I got to try the Willard InterContinental's Round Robin Bar's Mint Julep at the Afternoon at the Races party.  Usually whiskey is too strong for me, but the Round Robin Bar knows how to make it just right with the perfect amount of mint and simple syrup.  The guests enjoyed food, socializing and watching the main event.  My horse came up short.  Hopefully I'll be luckier at the Preakness!

Event: Lamb Jam on May 22nd

 The American Lamb Board is springing into action in 2011 to unite dozens of local Washington DC chefs for the first annual American Lamb Jam on Sunday, May 22, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton. I'll be judging this fun event. 

Free Pizza!

Pizzeria da Marco will open on May 16th and will offer free pizza to guests who dine between 5-10:30 p.m.  The new neighborhood Neapolitan pizzeria is located at 8008 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda.  Customers will also receive a 50% discount on all pizza purchases from May 17-31.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Special Preview: Bistro Cooking

Bistro Cooking from Capital Cooking on Vimeo.
Bistro Cooking offers simple recipes in a timeless fashion.  Let host, Lauren DeSantis, and Chef Olivier Perrier of ICI Urban Bistro give you a taste on Capital Cooking’s next episode.

Event: Don't miss the DC Taco Experiment this Sunday!

Don't miss the DC Taco Experiment at the Rock N' Roll hotel from 12-4PM this Sunday! I'm happy to be one of the three judges at the event.  Attendees will sample all taco dishes and entry includes a Brooklyn Brewery beer. Come help us decide D.C.'s next Taco King or Queen.

Also, enjoy a pre-taco Happy Hour this Thursday at Birch and Barley from 5-7PM for food writers and participants.  Complimentary Brooklyn Beer!

New Spring Menu at La Taberna del Alabardero

Photos by Kristen Finn
RAMMY nominated chef, Javier Romero, cooked up a fabulous meal again with his new spring menu.  He doesn't disappoint.  He continues to bring his artistic creativity to each dish.  So much thought and flavor goes into each tapa.  You can taste the love.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thursday Night Pizza

Pizza is an American staple. Recently, I read a book featuring the in's and out's of pizza, Thursday Night Pizza. Father Dominic Garamone wrote this book outlining his favorite pizza recipes. The book contains recipes for appetizers, sauces, crusts, pizzas, and dessert pizzas.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Restaurant Openings

New restaurants are popping up everywhere.  Here are some of the recent openings and the others that we are eagerly awaiting.
PAUL:  The aroma of authentic French bread is now filling the streets of Penn Quarter!  

PAUL, a 120 yr. old upscale authentic French bakery-café, opened the US Flagship bakery-café here in Washington, DC on Monday, May 2nd in the Penn Quarter neighborhood.  A second PAUL store will open in Georgetown at the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and M St. NW later in the year.  The 3,220 square foot bakery offers seating for 50 at charming café tables and booth seating. PAUL offers a wide range of traditional and specialty breads, which are made by hand by authentic French bakers every day using a special water filtration system and employing a seven-hour process.  
Adding to the PAUL experience is the company’s renowned viennoiserie including melt-in-your-mouth, buttery pastries such as pain au chocolat and macarons, all prepared daily at the bakery. 
PAUL’s sweeter side is showcased with an impressive selection of seasonal cakes and tarts. 
801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (former D'Acqua space)

Watershed:  Watershed recently opened, but I haven't been in for a visit yet.  Guests can enjoy specialty cocktails, small plates and a daily raw bar selection featuring a coast-to-coast variety of oysters from Kusshis and Hama Hamas to Chincoteagues and Wellfleets. Crudos of the day, game specials and a seafood selection including Chef Todd's signature Rappahannock River oyster sandwich, take center stage at the restaurant's Chef's Table at the top of the 65-seat main dining room. Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto an outdoor patio seating 45 guests. The restaurant also provides catering services for all grand ballroom weddings, events and corporate meetings, as well as in-room dining service for hotel guests. 

Watershed is located at 1225 First Street NE in Washington DC.

El Centro opens tomorrow!  So excited for the new addition to my neighborhood.  In the underground Tequileria, Chef Sandoval’s menu of comfort food is served alongside 200 tequilas and mezcals. The collection was curated by Danielle Griffin, Chef Sandoval’s accredited Tequila Sommelier, and Courtenay Greenleaf, who manages North America’s largest list of Tequilas at Chef Sandoval’s Biblioteca de Tequila in New York City. On the Rooftop, guests can enjoy handcrafted margaritas and Latin cocktails, served from two outdoor bars. Later this summer, this upper level will launch a signature menu of dishes baked a la lena in the Rooftop’s brick oven.

1819 14th Street, NW
El Centro D.F. on Urbanspoon

SAX  is scheuduled to open on May 13th.  The SAX experience, from shocking paintings and elegant, erotic performances to a luxurious menu of modern French small plates and decadent cocktails, is an atmosphere lavishly unique in Washington, D.C. SAX is the third restaurant and lounge by Errol Lawrence and Nancy Koide, who also own OYA and SEI in Penn Quarter.

TruOrleans:  Located on the corner of H and 4th NE, the restaurant will be open Monday thru Sunday from 7:00 am to 12:00 am on weekdays and 7:00 am to 2:00 am on weekends. The split level restaurant will offer an upscale experience featuring many Cajun Creole favorites like Po Boys, Gumbo, Jambalaya and Beignets as well as New Orleans drink favorites like the traditional Hurricane, Louisiana specialty beers and a spectacular  wine list.  The restaurant will offer bars on both levels as well as an outdoor sidewalk café.  Set to open at the end of May.

Railstop Gatropub:    Located on the second floor of the Crowne Plaza Old Town, the 76-seat restaurant channels the British philosophy of gastronomy in pub fare.  A step above bar or pub grub, this gastro pub specializes in high-quality food including house-made sausages of both pork and seafood. 
RailStop Gastropub (901 N. Fairfax; Alexandria, VA, 22314; 703-683-8793; www.railstopgastropub.com)

Spotlight: Nevin Martell

Nevin Martell is a DC-based food writer and pop culture archaeologist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post Express, Washington City Paper and Maryland Life. His latest book, Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, is in stores now. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Food and Drink Lovers

There is still time for fun foodie gifts for mom. 
Photo by Kristen Finn

Fresh Thoughts: A Sustainable Seafood Dining Series

Photo by Corey Then
I recently checked out the National Aquarium's Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series featuring recipes envisioned by Chef Barton Seaver and prepared by Chef Xavier DeShayes of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Chef Xavier DeShayes
Fresh thoughts not only offers a delicious evening out, it's also a way to increase your understanding of sustainable seafood practices.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Milestones: 3 Year Airing Anniversary

Thank you to my friend Jennifer Glover for reminding me that it was 3 years ago today that Capital Cooking started airing.  Time really does fly!  Our production quality continues to improve and our distribution continues to expand.  Starting next month, we'll begin airing on WETA.  That means we'll be reaching 100% of the metro area.  Get ready to watch!!

Catering Upcoming Parties

With warm weather, comes lots of parties.  Save yourself some of the stress of cooking and look into some great catering.  Ridgewells Catering recently hired a fantastic new chef Robert Gadsby that wowed us with a taste of their spring menu. Jill Collins did a fabulous job planning the event.

Photos by Emily Clack

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fresh Farm Markets

It is officially Farmer-Market Season! Check out these fresh outdoor markets and discover the best local food of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.