Food & Wine

 A psychologist once said that we know little about the conscience - except that it is soluble in alcohol."

~~ Thomas Blackburn

“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” 

  ~~  W.C. Fields


Coming soon:  

new wines to try: Virginia wine stand-outs, Chianti from Italy, Turkish Delight, Portugal offers more than Port, Discover Bulgarian wine,  Albariño from Spain

Announcing the first Ghvino Forum:to Advance the Understanding of the Origin and Evolution of Wine Culture

 Receptions, Tastings, and Seminars featuring wine from the Republic of Georgia 

Washington, DC / Nov. 11-13, 2018 / open to the public upon registration


Who were the world's first winemakers?  It might surprise you to learn that scientific evidence says it happened in the area that is now the Republic of Georgia.

 From Sunday, November 11th to Tuesday, November 13th, the first Ghvino Forum—a series of events created to further advance the understanding of the 8,000-year-old origin of wine – will be hosted in Washington, DC. The Forum will also examine wine’s influence on society and geopolitics in the Republic of Georgia, the Caucasus, and beyond. “Ghvino” is the Georgian word for “wine,” and is widely thought to be the origin of the term.   

Organized by the America Georgia Business Council, events include a Saperavi “Festival” at the Embassy of Georgia, a walk-around Georgian wine tasting at Supra (one of the foremost Georgian restaurants in the United States), and a one-day conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The forum is in response to the growing interest of American consumers in both the beginning of wine culture and how the ancient tradition of using Georgian “qvevri”— giant, hand-made clay vessels buried in the earth to make wine—were used through the ages and continue to flourish today, connecting the past with the present.

In 2013, qvevri winemaking was added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In July 2017, Georgia was the topic for the inaugural opening exhibit in Bordeaux’s stunning wine museum, the Cité du Vin. In November 2017, the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE) —a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto and the Georgian National Museum—announced evidence dating Georgian winemaking to the Neolithic period, establishing scientific proof for more than 8,000 vintages in the country.  In September 2018 alone, 
qvevri winemaking was written about in The Washington PostThe Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine Magazine, and Condé Nast Traveler, among many other outlets.

As a primary driver of Georgia’s burgeoning tourism industry (representing 18% of Georgia’s GDP in 2017), wine has been crucial to the internal financial, and legal infrastructure. Panels will explore how wine production evolved in Georgia and the Caucasus and transformed Georgia’s economy; the geopolitical consequences of a new wave of trade liberalization and foreign investment for the Caucasus; and the dynamics of local and global economies of wine, their politics and prospects. Attendees may attend one panel, two, or all three.development of Georgia’s trading, 


This event series is organized by the America Georgia Business Council (AGBG), with support from the National Wine Agency of the Georgian Department of Agriculture, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Embassy of Georgia to the United States of America.

Georgia is home to more than 520 indigenous grape varieties, Georgia is being transformed from an ancient cottage industry into an artisanal powerhouse, with winemakers producing some of the world’s most unique and distinctive fine wines using both qvevri and European winemaking methods.



editor/photographer Donna Christenson

From It's shaping up to be a strong month for restaurant openings (see their full story at the link)
America Eats Tavern by Jose' Andres' features local oysters (photo by Donna Christenson)

Chianti Classico from Italy

These are some of the delicious Chianti Classico wines we tasted this week 

...details on why you'll want to try them and where you can get them coming soon!


Halloween HalloWine

Celebrate with a devilishly good wine!
by Donna Christenson


What could be a more perfect wine selection for Halloween than Casillero del Diablo ...The  Devil’s Cellar!  A Reserva, this well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile won’t disappoint.  Deep ruby red in color, medium-bodied and well-balanced, it tastes like wines usually found at a higher price point, not the value that it is at about $11 a bottle. 

The devilish name of this wine comes with a devious story.
  More than one hundred years ago, the prominent vineyard owner Don Melchor de Concha y Toro discovered that some of his best wines had been stolen from the cellar ...the casillero ...beneath his stately home.  To discourage further theft, he started a rumor that became a legend ...that his cellars or casillero were haunted by the devil ...el Diablo.  Now Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo is Chile’s best-selling wine worldwide.  The cabernet sauvignon is the most widely distributed and best-selling cabernet sauvignon in the world.  When you try it, you’ll know why!

In addition to the cabernet sauvignon I was given the opportunity to try, the Casillero del Diablo premium line features a wide range of other varietals.  Reds include pinot noir, malbec, shiraz, merlot and carmenere.  Among the white wines there are the expected chardonnay, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc, but also a viognier.  There's even a rose' ...and if you're like me, you'll want to try all of them!

Happy HalloWine!



By Cary Pollak

Photos from Embassy Chef Challenge 2017 by Donna Christenson


Washington, DC, like most other major American cities has no shortage of wonderful food-related and cultural events to entertain and educate residents and visitors.  Only the nation’s capital, however, can host an affair like the Events DC Embassy Chef Challenge presented by TCMA.  That presenter is the company that manages the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, where the event will be held on May 17, 2018. 


This friendly competition features dishes from around the world, prepared by chefs who have been chosen by their countries

to cook for the ambassadors of those countries to the United States and for events hosted by those dignitaries.  These gifted culinary professionals rarely display their talents outside of their embassies and to have them gathered at one place cooking for guests who attend this special event is an experience not to be missed.


This year marks the 10th anniversary of this unique celebration of international culinary arts and, as in the past, the chefs will compete for the People’s Choice Prize presented by Events DC (voted on by attendees at the event) and for the Judges’ Choice Prize presented by TCMA (chosen by a panel of distinguished cooking professionals).  Past winners of these coveted awards have included Norway, Barbados, Morocco, Thailand and Hungary.  This year the Best Beverage Award presented by PepsiCo will be an added feature.


Among the approximately 30 participating countries will be the Asian nations of Nepal and The Philippines, the African countries of Ethiopia and Ghana, European participants Belgium and The Slovak Republic, and Jamaica and Peru from the Americas.  In addition to culinary delights paired with innovative cocktails, the embassies of many of the participating countries will provide cultural entertainment such as music, dancing and fashion displays.  Examples are the mariachi band Los Gallos Negros, Ghanaian jazz guitarist Dea Botri, Brazilian dance group Origem, and a live musical performance by City of the Sun.  In celebration of the tenth anniversary, a new award will be presented for the best cultural presentation.


Max Brown, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Events DC, has noted that the Embassy Chef Challenge brings together “residents, visitors and the Washington diplomatic community for an exceptional experience of authentic cuisine and culture from some of the world’s most talented culinary and performing artists.”  Steve Shulman is the Executive Director of Cultural Tourism, DC, which has been involved in the Challenge over the years.  Referring to the competitive aspect of the event, he has quipped the following.  “Founded as a friendly competition among the chefs who serve their country, over the years, chefs and their ambassadors learned that bon appetite tastes good but bragging rights taste better.”


Come to the Embassy Chef Challenge and you, too, will have great things to say about this adventure in culinary and cultural diplomacy.  Tickets, including options for VIP early entry and/or an after-party, can be purchased at the website, .



Medoc Wine from Bordeaux

By Roger Lindberg with photos by Donna Christenson

Press the average American wine drinker to name a French wine region and there is little doubt Bordeaux would be first on their lips because it is the largest wine region in France. Its proximity to the Atlantic made exporting simple starting back in the 12th century.  And half of the Bordeaux’s red wine production comes from the Medoc, a relatively small growing area some 50 miles long and two miles wide situated on the peninsula bordered by the Gironde estuary to the east and the Atlantic on the west. It is the very rise and fall of the estuary tides and the fog from the Atlantic combined with the gravelly soil (the result of a Dutch drainage project in the 16th century) that makes the grapes grown in the Medoc perfect for some of the best red wines in the world.  

Wendy Narby, a British expat who fell in love with the wines of the Medoc, has been lecturing at the Bordeaux Wine School for 30 years.  She recently gave a master class on wines of the Medoc at the Montgomery County Liquor Control Department in Gaithersburg, MD.  Narby explained that half the Medoc vines are Cabernet Sauvignon, the primary grapes blended with Merlot, and to a lesser percentage Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot that make up each years vintage.  The recent best vintages for the region are 2005, 09, 10, 15 and 16. But each year produces quality wines worthy of any dining table.  Sadly, Château Lafite-Rothschild, was not on the tasting list but the Chateaux offered were a joy to sample. They included: Chateau
 Cardus, Medoc, 2010, (fresh juicy fruit, lovely length, easy to drink,) Chateau Barreyres, Haut-Medoc, Cru Bourgeois, 2011 
(ripe fruit with spice and oaky,) Chateau Lalaudey, Moulis-en-Medoc, Cru Bourgeois, 2014 (fresh fruit - black berry, with tigh
t oak,) Chateau Reverdi, Listrac-Medoc, Cru Bourgeois, 2014 (young with more oak but ready & excellent to drink now, even 
better in 3 or 4 years) Chateau Paveil de Luze, Margaux, Cru Bourgeois, 2013 (ruby red in color, floral, velvety, full-body, well-structured, ready to drink now,) ChateauTalbot, Grand Cru Classe, Saint-Julien, Grand Cru Classe en 1855, 2010 (dense, ripe and powerful,) Chateau d’Armailhac, Grand Cru Classe, Pauillac, Grand Cru Classe en 1855, 2014 (dark sweet ripe fruit, cedar and minerality, an elegant structure, long finish,) and finally Chateau Morin, Saint-Estephe, 2011 (rich, dark fruit with enough tannins to accompany a steak, grilled duck or spicy food.)  

All grapes used in each chateau’s production must be grown on land owned by the chateau. However, this is not a field blending of the grapes but rather the blending is carefully supervised in the barrel, which takes more skill but insures a finer end product. So, next time you want a good Bordeaux for a meal you may want to ask your wine merchants if they could recommend a good Medoc. They’ll be impressed and your guests will be delighted. Most of these wonderful wines are available locally in Maryland, Washington DC or Virginia.  




The Marvelous Metrocooking DC Show is Back in DC December 9 & 10

By Cary Pollak and Donna Christenson

The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show (or MetroCooking DC) will make its twelfth annual appearance Saturday and Sunday, December 9 & 10 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District of Columbia.  General admission for each of the two days costs just $21.50 ($10 for children 4 to 12) and buys access to a fabulous array of events and products including cooking demonstrations, the wares of more than 200 specialty food and products exhibitors from around the world to sample and purchase, “Taste Talk” demonstrations and workshops, and pavilions featuring District of Columbia and Virginia vendors and “Natural Products & Healthy Living” purveyors.  The show opens at 10:00 a.m. both days and closes at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets may be purchased on line at and this year part of the proceeds will go to celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen to benefit hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.  You need only enter the code PUERTORICO when making your ticket purchase, and we hope that you will!

Among the national and local celebrity chef presenters will be television veterans Guy Fieri (Emmy award winning host of tv shows including the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”); Carla Hall (co-host of ABC’s Emmy award winning series “The Chew,” and competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef”); and Jose Andres (star of the PBS series Made in Spain and owner of Jaleo, Minibar, China Chilcano in DC and several other restaurants around the US).  Some of the DC area’s most exciting restaurants will be represented by culinary luminaries such as Vikram Sunderam (the venerable Rasika and the relatively new Indian street food restaurant Bindas, and Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington 2012 "Chef of Year"); Victor Albisu (Chef/Owner of Del Campo and Taco Bamba); Amy Brandwein (Chef/Owner of Centrolina in CityCenterDC); and George Pagonis (Executive Chef and Partner at Mike Isabella’s regional Greek Kapnos restaurants).

There also will be special ticketed events such as cooking classes by L’Academie de Cuisine, our area’s world class culinary institution founded by Francois Dionot.  Additionally in this category are a restaurant barbecue competition (with samples for the audience offered by over twenty restaurants’ BBQ chefs), a grand tasting pavilion with offerings from 50 local restaurants, a beer, wine and spirits garden and a gluten-free brunch cooking class hosted by Chef Taueret Khepera Thomas of Baltimore's Khepera's Kitchen.

MetroCooking DC is a great place to discover new food items and other products for your own enjoyment or to give as gifts.  For example, it can be  challenging to find gluten-free products that taste as delicious as traditional versions.  If Sweet Crimes Founder and CEO Keri Lijinsky (photo below) didn’t tell you that her moist, flavorful baked goods were gluten-free, you would never know it.

Among the other choices we previewed, delectable Guylian Belgian chocolates and confetti biscotti from .  From my home state of Michigan, there is dark chocolate cherry toffee from ...real homemade goodies made without machines, microwaves or assembly lines. Artisanal olive oil 1938 from Tunisia is coldpressed and unfiltered, and lists its harvest date as well as best by date.  Jinsei Juice is an organic cold-pressed juice and tonic company based out of Washington, DC offering an assortment of tasty nutritional juices and tonics.

In addition to the proceeds that will go to benefit Puerto Rico, a portion of the sales from the grand tasting pavilion will benefit So Others Might Eat (SOME), a local interfaith organization that helps the poor and homeless.  This weekend you can enjoy the delights of the Metrocooking DC Show and benefit people in need as well!

Tickets and schedule information   See you there!

(photo credits: Donna Christenson)    See more about this  and other events on our DCdigest Calendar - Upcoming Events at  

Tour the World Tasting Each Country’s Specialties at the Embassy Chef Challenge!

Embassy chefs serve up signature dishes to win the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice Awards

by Donna Christenson

A sensational way to experience a country’s culture is through its food. You can take a culinary tour on a grand scale at the 9th Annual Events DC presents Embassy Chef Challenge, a Cultural Tourism DC signature event, on Wednesday, May 24 at 6:00 pm at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.   

Guests can nibble their way through an abundant array of global food and drink prepared by a bevy of highly-regarded embassy chefs, along with live music
from around the world. All reflect the rich cultural diversity offered by our embassy community. To say that you are "sampling" the food really is misleading.  Each country is serving portion sizes that are similar to "small plates" or tapas-sized servings, and there are more than two dozen you'll need to try to pace yourself!   

The global line-up of culinary diversity includes chefs from South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and numerous Caribbean nations. In past years, Filipino chef Claude Tayag featured Bringhe …think of savory seafood paella made with sticky rice and coconut milk. British Virgin Islands mixed up big batches of its rum-based signature cocktail called “Painkiller” to give you a flavor of the tropics.  Attendees will have a delicious time trying the exciting range of dishes from nations as varied as Indonesia, Ukraine, Nepal, Japan and Jamaica. 

You might begin the evening with Guatemalan Gazpacho del Enchilada, followed by the Czech Republic’s bacon wrapped duck pate, Uzbek plov and Ghanaian black-eyed pea and shrimp fritters. You can wind up the night with an Arabic coffee from Qatar. All the while, you will be entertained by live music and dance from around the

 Exotic delicacies abound at the Embassy Chef Challence
world.   In addition, you'll be fascinated by the colorful national dress and other items on display.  For example, though butter is rarely used in Chinese cuisine, at a previous Embassy Chef Challenge the Chinese table featured an intricate sculpture made of butter, creating true art as you can see in the photo on left.

A panel of local celebrity chefs will award the Judge's Prize. Past judges have included Manny Rodriguez of Kapnos at Reagan National Airport, who was 2015 Challenge champion, Ris Lacoste of Ris Restaurant, Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve and renowned food writer and commentator Monica Bhide  Each attendee will have an opportunity to taste and cast their own vote to decide the People's Choice Award winner. 

Think you can’t afford a culinary tour around the world?  Tickets are just $65 and that’s an all-inclusive price.  That’s probably less than you would pay for dinner, drinks, tax and tip at many area restaurants.   The Embassy Chef Challenge will probably become your favorite foodie event of the year!    

Get your tickets at

About Events DC

Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, delivers premier event services and flexible venues across the nation’s capital.  Events DC oversees the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, an anchor of the District’s hospitality and tourism economy that generates over $400 million annually in total economic impact, and the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Events  DC manages the Stadium-Armory campus, which includes Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and surrounding Festival Grounds, the non-military functions of the DC Armory and Maloof Skate Park at RFK Stadium, Nationals Park, and Gateway DC, an innovative and versatile space featuring a covered and open-air pavilion in the center of a 1-acre park, conveniently located in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC.  For more information, please visit       

All photos credit: Donna Christenson


ZooFari, a Culinary Safari 

 Thursday, May 18 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Gourmet Food, Fine Wine and Live Entertainment on the Menu

by Donna Christenson


Zoofari!!!  It’s our favorite event of the year and it’s coming soon!!!  ZooFari offers the opportunity to sample gourmet fare from more than 100 of the Washington DC area’s best restaurants, along with complimentary wine from local and international vineyards.  In addition, three mega-bars located around the beautiful grounds of the Smithsonian's National Zoo will provide guests a selection of complimentary beer, soft drinks and water.  

To say that you are "sampling" the food really is misleading.  Many of the restaurants are serving portion sizes that are similar to "small plates" or tapas-sized servings, and there are over 100 restaurants you'll need to try to pace yourself!  For example, delectable sizzling crabcakes were offered by the wonderful West End neighborhood restaurant RIS at a VIP reception at last year’s ZooFari (photo below). 

All you can manage to eat and drink is included in the ticket price, with proceeds benefiting a wide range of Zoo programs.  In addition to an impressive array of food, wine and specialty cocktails, other ZooFari

highlights throughout the evening include opportunities for guests to visit the Small Mammal House, the Great Ape House, and the Reptile Discovery Center, as well as to experience animal encounters along Olmsted Walk.

Fabulous food, great wine, wild animals, live musical performances …but wait – there’s more!  The fun continues as guests also can bid on hundreds of exclusive items including vacation getaways and exclusive dining experiences at the ZooFari silent auction.  For those who can’t wait until the evening of the event, there is also a ZooFari online auction. Among the fantastic auction items, one of the most unique is  a ticket package to "Hamilton" on Broadway!

Additional experiences are offered to guests with VIP ticket packages.   A private, exclusive Pre-party Reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Elephant Community Center will offer elephant viewing, as well as specialty cocktails and catering by Equinox Restaurant, Ten Penh, Doi Moi, Compass Rose, and Purple Patch.  The LivingSocial Lion Lounge at the Zoo's Great Cats Exhibit offers a unique opportunity to view the cats at night with demonstrations and keeper talks. Specialty food and drinks as well as live entertainment and musical performances also will be offered.  And the Premier Pavilion offers seating, festive decorations, a private bar, exclusive animal encounters, interactive and musical entertainment, as well as select food offerings.   

Tickets for ZooFari and additional details, including a list of participating restaurants and wineries, are available through the National Zoo's website  

Photos by DCdigest 's Donna Christenson at ZooFari  2015


Easter Bunnies Love This Carrot Cake …and so will you!

 by Donna Christenson

A fabulous, homemade carrot cake is delicious at any time but is especially appropriate at this time of year when bunnies are hopping around everywhere.  If you want homemade taste and style, too, without having to do it all yourself, Claudia Sweeney's 14Karat Cake is the perfect answer. 

While carrot cake is perhaps her most popular creation, Claudia also makes a wide variety of other delectable possibilities.
  Just for fun, we added cheery little Peeps to a lemon cake for a birthday celebration.  It is topped with another special treat, lemoncello buttercream icing and Claudia's homemade lemon curd.  More than a dozen icing options include unusual flavors like goat cheese & mint, ginger buttercream, mascarpone cream, and chocolate ganache. 

One of the hardest things to do is to decide which of the 24 different flavors of cakes and cupcakes to choose.  Will it be Mint & Oreo?  Of course, there’s Red velvet, Chocolate turtle or German chocolate.  Maybe Tres leches or Orange cardamom? With more than three dozen different flavors for icing and cakes, the combinations are seemingly endless!

Or perhaps cheesecake is your decadence preference?  The one pictured to the left is Claudia's Blackberry and mint cheesecake …or would you want Chocolate Amaretto, or maybe Caramel Apple …or Peanut Butter Caramel Delight Cheesecake!  Again, there are a couple of dozen different flavors, and the good news is that there are no wrong choices!

Order a cake for the carrot-cake-lovers in your life or to make any day a special occasion.  See more photos and the dozens of possibilities available at  or email her at or call 

Happy Easter!
  Happy Passover!  Happy Spring! 


Oyamel Restaurant Launches Tequila and Mezcal Festival

photo feature by Cary Pollak with Donna Christenson

We have been offered a custom discount code that gives our readers a special ten percent discount to the kick-off party, Monday March 21, from 6 - 9 pm.      Kick-off Event for the festival will be an all-inclusive party featuring live Latin music, festive fare described below, specialty cocktails and tequila and mezcal tastings from renowned brands listed below.  Tickets are $44 all-inclusive with the promo code DCdigest and can be purchased online at   Fabulous fun event at a bargain!  It’s short notice so feel free to share this code with friends! 

DC Digest’s unique coupon code: dcdigest   

Be prepared for a "chili" reception when you next dine at Jose Andres’ Oyamel Cocina Mexicana restaurant.  That venue will be celebrating its Tequila and Mezcal Festival from March 21 through April 3.

As in past years, practically every dish and every drink will be laced with some kind of chili pepper.  That does not mean, however, that the event is only for fire eaters.  On the contrary, the kitchen and bar have been careful to make sure that their beautifully crafted flavor combinations shine through, with just enough heat to make it interesting.  The wide variety of chili peppers incorporated into the recipes makes this festival a tasty tutorial on the effects of those various chilies in Mexican style dishes and drinks.  Below, Ceviche Chef Colin Haydu prepares two of his specialties at the press preview for the Tequila and Mezcal Festival.


The all-inclusive kickoff party will be held on Monday, March 21 from 6 - 9 p.m., and will feature tequila and mezcal tasting stations, loads of specialty foods and drinks that will be featured throughout the festival, and live music from the Latin band Montuno.  We'll be there ...join us if you can, and invite your friends!


Cocktails created by Beverage Manager and expert Mezcalier Jasmine Chae are on the menu, and they are guaranteed to warm your spirits as the hint of chili spice swirled into each of them dances on your taste buds.  The Media Naranja (above) features Fidencia Clasico mezcal with sour orange, habanero, egg whites and is colored with a splash of bitters on top.  Mezcal also is presented in the Paloma de Oaxaca, mixed with grapefruit-jalapeno soda.  The Pica Pepino is a refreshing blend of Tequila Blanco, cucumber, serrano and lemon, while Tequila Anejo is featured in the La Capital along with sweet vermouth and guajillo chili.


Birria de Cabra starts with a whole roasted goat and the final preparation is served on tacos.

As is typical of the festivals and special events put on by Jose Andres’  ThinkFoodGroup, Executive Chef Colin King and the culinary team at Oyamel have created outstanding dishes which complement the aforementioned libations beautifully.  The variety of types of chilies and their uses in the hands of these experts is impressive.  Birria de Cabra, is Oyamel’s version of the Mexican goat dish birria, made with chilies and other spices.  Aguachili Costeno Amarillo is a ceviche style dish featuring Hawaiian ono sliced and served over jicama, red onion, avocado, radish, and cilantro with a spicy sauce of chili costeno amarillo and a puree of Mexican papaya.  Panuchos de Pavo con Salsa Chilmole features the habanero chili with tender shreds of braised turkey leg served over a bean-stuffed and fried tortilla, topped with sour orange, habanero, and tomato salsa with pickled onions and avocado.

Oyamel is famous for its freshly-made guacamole, served with salsa and chips.  Made table-side, it is a pleasure to watch as well as a delight to eat.  While the fabulous guacamole is always available, most of the other menu items featured in this festival are on the menu only now through April 3, so make your reservations right away!

Tequila & Mezcal Tastings: Throughout the festival, dedicated tequila & mezcal tastings will take place from 4 – 6 p.m. in Oyamel’s bar.

   March 22 - T1 & Tears of Llorona Tequila

   March 23 - Wahaka Mezcal

   March 28 - Vago Mezcal

   March 29 - 123 Organic Tequila

Tequila & Mezcal Tasting Dinners: Five course tequila & mezcal tasting dinners will take place throughout the festival featuring paired menus from Head Chef Colin King. Brand producers will be on hand to provide expert information. Dinners are $79 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity) and can be booked by emailing

   March 22 - T1 & Tears of Llorona Tequila

   March 23 - Wahaka Mezcal

   March 28 - Vago Mezcal

   March 29 - 123 Organic Tequila

Drink & Dish Specials: Throughout the festival, Oyamel will feature special dishes from Head Chef Colin King, made with fresh masa ground in-house, along with tequila and mezcal cocktails from ThinkFoodGroup Cocktail Innovator Miguel Lancha and Level 5-certified Master Mezcalier Jasmine Breedlove. Cocktails range in price from $11 to $14.

Executive Chef Colin King and DCdigest's Cary Pollak at the press preview.

To purchase tickets for the March 21st
 kickoff celebration,  go to and use promo code DCdigest

See you there!

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana 401 7th st NW, Washington, DC



The MetroCooking Show Is The Place To Be This Weekend

by Cary Pollak and Donna Christenson


On October 24 and 25 the spectacular MetroCooking Show will make its tenth annual appearance at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  A general admission ticket ($18 for each of the two days) buys an

extraordinary array of cooking demonstrations, instructive Taste Talks and access to an exhibit floor filled with specialty foods for sale and for sampling, cookware, kitchen gadgets and all manner of things to improve the home cooking experience.

Taking their turns on the James Beard Cooking Stage will be local luminaries such as Victor Albisu, Chef/Owner of Del Campo and Taco Bamba restaurants; Caitlin Dysart, Pastry Chef at 2941; Austin Fausett, Executive Chef at Trummer's on Main; Tim Ma, Chef & Owner of Water & Wall; Claudio Pirollo. Executive Chef / Owner of Et Voila!; Erik Bruner-Yang, Chef / Owner of Toki Underground and Josu Zubikarai, Executive Chef / Co-Owner of Taberna del Alabardero. 

An additional charge will get you into the Celebrity Theater, where you can view presentations by such nationally known figures as Emmy Award winning Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis, The Travel Channel’s David Gaus, Iron Chef Michael Symon and Christina Tosi, whose Milk Bar was dubbed “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country” by Bon Appétit Magazine. (Ms. Tosi’s Saturday demonstration will be free to general admission ticket holders).  Also present in the Celebrity Theater will be Bryan Voltaggio, whose demonstrated talent at his DC area restaurants such as Volt and Range, catapulted him onto the national culinary scene and snagged him an invitation to appear on the television show Top Chef, where he was a finalist.   Pictured at left are his decadent chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons and his gourmet deviled eggs with bacon and walnuts.

Other special presentations also can be viewed for additional fees.  For example, Professional instructors from L’Academie de Cuisine, our nationally renowned local cooking school, will present classes on holiday hors d’oeuvres, knife skills, cake decorating, sushi, dim sum and more.  After you put down the knives, a visit to the Beer,Wine and Spirits Garden will give you your choice of 150 types of alcoholic beverages.

New Orleans-born TV personality and chef, David Guas (photo at left) will be featured along with Iron Chef Robert Gadsby in a new event, the Barbecue Bash on Saturday.  After learning new grilling techniques, how yo make amazing BBQ sauces and rubs, and after sampling BBQ from all the best joints in the in town, you can vote and help determine who has the best barbecue in the DC area. 

On Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington will host the Grand Tasting Pavilion, presenting samples of specialties from more than 50 of Washington’s most distinguished chefs and restaurants.  The ticket for this event includes complimentary Marketplace General Admission valid on Sunday only.


MetroCookingDC Show Details

Saturday October 23 – Sunday October 24, 2015.

Walter E. Washington Convention Center – Washington, DC.

Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Nov. 8; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Nov. 9.

Ticket prices: General Admission - $18 in advance for one day.

Children ages 4 to 12 - $10.00 in advance; $13.50 at the door, Children under 4 free.

Tickets to celebrity theater performances, cooking classes and the Grand Tasting Pavilion are sold separately.


photo credit: Donna Christenson

ShopHouse To Give Away 5,000 Free Bowls With Riddle-A-Day Game, October 5-9 



DENVER, October 2, 2015  - ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, the Southeast Asian restaurant created by Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG), is challenging customers to prove their ShopHouse chops by acing an ingredient riddle in return for a free bowl. Every day for five days, from October 5-9, ShopHouse will post a riddle on and on its Facebook page, and award a free bowl to the first 1,000 people who solve each riddle correctly. 


The ShopHouse menu is packed with exotic and adventurous ingredients that are typical to Southeast Asian cooking, like kaffir lime leaves, green papaya, Thai basil, coconut milk and ginger, to name a few. Winners that correctly solve the ingredient riddle (might some of the answers be listed above?) will receive a free bowl offer on their mobile phone.


To get your mind in the riddling spirit, here is one to warm you up:

While some think the color in its name is quite moot, we can't think of many things better than this fruit.


Answer: green papaya


Green papaya is the crispy, crunchy star in our green papaya slaw and the perfect topping on a (Shop)House Bowl filled with jasmine rice, pork & chicken meatballs, charred corn, green curry, fresh herb salad and crispy garlic.


Stay tuned for the rest of the riddles and test your ingredient IQ from Oct. 5 - 9 at


ShopHouse is committed to Food with Integrity and sources the very best ingredients it can find by partnering with farmers and suppliers whose practices respect farmers, animals and the environment.  The result is a menu filled with a colorful array of fresh, seasonal vegetables, bold sauces, organic tofu, and Responsibly Raised® meats.  In addition to the 11 current locations in Los Angeles and the Washington, D.C. area, ShopHouse will be opening two new locations in Chicago this November.


For more information, please visit


About ShopHouse

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen opened its first restaurant in 2011 in Washington, D.C. Developed by Chipotle, ShopHouse draws on the unique flavors, ingredients and cooking methods of Southeast Asia, and takes its name from the mid-rise buildings prevalent throughout Southeast Asian cities where hard-working families live in apartments above the ground floor restaurants or markets that they operate. These shops serve as Asia's version of fast food, with tiny kitchens turning out rice or noodle bowls laced with spicy sauces, marinated meats, and a flurry of herbs and vegetables. There are currently 11 ShopHouse locations in the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles areas, with two locations coming to Chicago this fall. For more information, visit


About Chipotle

Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO, started Chipotle with the idea that food served fast did not have to be a typical fast food experience. Today, Chipotle continues to offer a focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through our vision of Food With Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food from using ingredients that are not only fresh, but that-where possible-are sustainably grown and Responsibly Raised® with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. In order to achieve this vision, we focus on building a special people culture that is centered on creating teams of top performers empowered to achieve high standards. This people culture not only leads to a better dining experience for our customers, it also allows us to develop future leaders from within. Chipotle opened with a single restaurant in 1993 and currently operates more than 1,850 restaurants including 11 ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants, and is an investor in an entity that owns and operates three Pizzeria Locale restaurants. For more information, visit





Il Pizzico Restaurant Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

By Cary Pollak

No one could blame you if you mistook Rockville, Maryland’s Il Pizzico Italian Restaurant for an ordinary pizzeria, either because of its name or its location in a tiny strip mall with a gas station on one side of it and an auto body shop in back of it.  The restaurant entrance is pleasant, but the overall setting does not make for an abundance of curb appeal.  If you venture inside, however, you will be pleasantly surprised to find a warm and welcoming interior that portends a fine dining experience.  Do you like surprises?  Here are two more: Il Pizzico ranks first in both food quality (scoring 26 out of a possible 30) and service (scoring 24) among the 22 Zagat rated restaurants in Rockville.


Entrance to Il Pizzico Italian Restaurant

 Il Pizzico recently marked its 25th anniversary in the same location, or more accurately, in a location that expanded as ever increasing business caused it to burst through walls and take over the space of departed neighbors.  This remarkable longevity resulted largely from building a reputation that pulled local residents into a spot that they might never have noticed had this been a more ordinary dining establishment.  Many who tried the place became devotees who came in regularly and whose children and grandchildren continued to do the same. 


Chef Enzo Livia

 Chef-proprietor Enzo Livia took the risk of opening a small Italian deli counter in this location that was less than prime (and surrounded by a fair amount of automotive grime).  The name he chose for his establishment means “The Pinch” and refers not to pizza, but to his stated belief that if he started with traditional recipes and added “the right pinch of herbs and spices to give his personal touch to the dishes” success would follow.  Not one to mess with that success, Chef Livia rarely has found any reason to change his core menu items.  He last revamped his menu somewhat three years ago, and proudly notes that some of the dishes changed but the prices did not.  Pastas here are home-made, as are many of the desserts and the goat cheese, provided courtesy of a prize winning goat named Molly.

A trio of some of Il Pizzico’s most popular appetizers

Among the antipasti is a crispy Sicilian rice croquette filled with meat and mozzarella resting atop a tasty cheese sauce billed as “Taleggio cheese fonduta.”  Be sure to ask what the topping of the day is for the Crostini del Giorno appetizer – and then be sure to try it.  Another winning combination consists of a mound of mild buffalo mozzarella topped with thin slices of flavorful prosciutto shaped into a pattern resembling rose petals.  It is a delightful blending of the bold and the (relatively) bland.

 Shrimps and scallops in brandy sauce

Pork chop with gorgonzola port wine sauce

About half the entrees on the menu are seafood items and you can’t go wrong with any of them.  Gamberi e Capesante Alla Kiara features sautéed shrimps and sea scallops with counterpoint flavors of braised fennel and crispy pancetta brought together with a brandy cream sauce.  A special offering on a recent night was a pork chop with a rich, dark gorgonzola port wine sauce.  The generous portion of meat was cooked perfectly, to a point of tender succulence.

Chocolate salami with gelato

When it is time for dessert, don’t be afraid to ask for the chocolate salami.  It may sound like some sort of meat roll flavored with garlic and cocoa, but it is instead a cake infused with rich chocolate accompanied by a scoop of gelato.  The salami moniker refers to the practice of creating individual portions by cutting off slices from a tube shaped cake.  

The appearance of dark and light flecks throughout the cake also is reminiscent of the dessert’s savory namesake.

As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, Il Pizzico donated the proceeds of its 25th anniversary raffle to the Literary Council of Montgomery County, MD.  It was one way of giving back to the community that helped to turn a small deli counter in an ordinary location into one of the area’s most outstanding neighborhood restaurants.

Photo credits: Cary Pollak


Guilford Station Arts Club 

Music, Antiques and Lebanese Cuisine Lure Us Out Beyond the Beltway!

editor & photo credit - Donna Christenson


Some of my finest dining experiences have been in the Washington, DC area …not just downtown but in places like Bethesda, Alexandria or Potomac.  I also love traveling and the opportunity to
try more exotic local cuisines …trips to France, Italy, and Brazil top my list of "great food" experiences.  For unusual food, it seems my mind drifts to places that require a plane trip …good things often begin at Dulles Airport.

Dulles is in Loudoun County, the home of Leesburg and Purcellville …interesting places perhaps, but a bit far away. For many of us city-dwellers, the obstacle is traffic-congested roads.  The idea of venturing way, way out beyond the Beltway fills many with "Traffic Anxiety Syndrome".

But it turns out you can find a truly authentic Lebanese meal in a quaint, rustic setting in less driving time than it takes to find a parking place in Georgetown …in Sterling, VA, near the afore-mentioned  Dulles Airport.  Combine excellent food with classical music performed live in an intimate setting, all at a bargain price of only $15, and you have a great reason to explore or re-discover the suburbs. 

I’ve had the food fortune to attend musical “salons” at Jackie Anderson's home in Mclean for many years, and the tradition certainly pre-dates me. I always admire the precision, comfort and grace Jackie gives these events, seemingly effortlessly. Anybody who visits Jackie's house is immediately impressed by her collection of beautiful and practical antiques, lovingly curated over decades. 
When she recently retired from her National Symphony Orchestra-violinist career, Jackie knew she wanted to do something special to stay involved in the wonderful world of music she loved, and to blend that with her passion for antiques.   

Jackie (in photo at left with her husband, Bill Ewing) is now focusing her interest and experience into an “Arts Club” – a place to meet other artists, discuss ideas, collaborate, practice, teach and learn – all with Turkish coffee (and eventually wine, too, if things work out.)  The Guilford Station Arts Club provides a wonderful performance space for musicians and offers audience members a rare opportunity to hear marvelous music in a charming, intimate setting.  Imagine delightful musical evenings reminiscent of a bygone era, before live music performed in private homes was replaced by electronic reproductions.    

This all takes place in an elegant 1860’s-era farmhouse that truly transports you to a new and wonderful Early American world – complete with Jackie’s golden touch. The Guilford Station Arts Club is just North of Dulles, in old Sterling (called Guilford when the railroad first came through.)   Jackie has always liked the idea of opening an antiques shop but a place filled with relics could potentially be stodgy.  That fate has been precluded with the emphasis on music and the arts, and by, quite literally, spicing things up …with aromatic Lebanese cuisine. 

Mona’s Café is a delightful feature of the Guilford Station Arts Club.  Mona Abul-Hosn has been cooking for Jackie for well over a decade and wanted to move beyond her home-based catering business. They already knew they had the right chemistry …when the two of them get together, the laughter is contagious.  Mona is as productive as she is authentic, laughing engagingly as she bustles in the kitchen, whipping up a batch of baba ghanoush, kibbeh and stuffed grape leaves quicker than most of us can slice a melon.  Mona (center) shows off a platter of falafel, Samaha (left) holds spinach pies, and Mariella has meat pies. 

At a woodwind quintet salon performance there a few weeks ago, I sampled a wide array of Mona's delicacies – lamb with rice, falafel, hummus. The package deal including the musical performance was incredible at $15, and Mona's everyday, prices are better than reasonable, too.   

So if you have an EasyPass (worth getting to avoid long lines in the cash toll lanes …or you might prefer just to take Route 7) it’s a terrific excuse to take a drive to what was, until recently, considered “out in the country”.  I highly recommend planning a trip to Mona's Lebanese Café and the Guilford Station Arts Club. You can check them out at and, (both ready for you to “like” on Facebook.) 

 The next salon performance at the Guilford Station Arts Club is Sunday, July 12 at 4:00 p.m., followed by a light buffet of Mona's delectable Lebanese cuisine.  Guests are encouraged to bring a bottle of wine or their favorite beverage.  Reservations are required!  Details on our Calendar of Events page or at  See you there!

Editor's Note:  We have taken the unprecedented step of posting this on several different pages on www.DCdigest because it is just too good to miss!  Tell your friends!


Beat the Summer Heat!

Sushiko Unveils Exotic Flavors Trio for National Ice Cream Month


Brothers Piter and Handry Tjan, the co-executive chefs at Sushiko have perfected three unique flavors for a new ice cream dessert offering at Sushiko Chevy Chase. Guests can enjoy the exotic trio, with each taste sensation featured in its own two-ounce glass.  It is recommended that one begin with the opening flavor, Lychee Sorbet with Pink Peppercorn and a Mint Leaf, followed by the Huckleberry Ice Cream with a Shiso Leaf,and then the final selection, a savory Foie Gras Ice Cream with Pink Himalaya Sea Salt. This dessert newcomer is priced at $9 and will be available starting June 26, through the entire month of July.  

Sushiko is located at 5455 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland, 20815 and is easily accessible from the Friendship Heights Metro station.  For more information please call (301) 961-1644 or visit


Nage Bistro Debuts A New Offering “Big Deal Wines at A Big Deal Steal”

editor & photo credit - Donna Christenson


Nage Bistro, the hidden gem in Washington, D.C.'s Scott Circle just announced an exciting new summer wine program highlighting “big deal wines at a big deal steal.”  Guests will enjoy a rare opportunity to drink hard-to-find, traditionally expensive wines at an unbeatable price.   The wines are offered by the bottle only, subject to availability, and will be changing throughout the summer to invite repeated visits for truly delicious exploration.  These big deal wines will be available all summer long, through Labor Day Monday, September 7th, during brunch, lunch, and dinner service.

For starters, one can try unique options like 2012 Chateau de Sancere Loire, France; 2010 Domaine JA Ferret Pouilly-Fuisse Tete de cru Les Perrieres Maconnais, France; 2006 Terlato &
 Chapoutier Shiraz Pyrenees, Australia; 2008 Domaine Berthet – Reyne  Chateauneuf du Pape Rhone, France; 2009 Sequoia Grove Cambium Blend Napa Valley, California; 2012 Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve Barboursville, Virginia; 2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Cabernet Alexander Valley, California; 2012 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz Southern Australia, and 2009 Far Niente Cabernet Oakville, California
.  These hard to find wines are priced from $40 to $99 per bottle at Nage, and they retail from $46 to $129 at wine shops and $63 to $193 in restaurants. 

“These wines are at a really good price point and we are very proud to be able to offer them this summer,” explains General Manager John Kilkenny who also spearheads Nage Bistro’s beverage
program.  “Many of these wines are priced below retail, and offer a significant savings compared to anywhere else in town. We hope our neighbors will come enjoy them.”

For the perfect pairing, guests can enjoy summer dishes prepared by Nage's Executive Chef Dwayne Motley such as Charbroiled Oysters with oregano, black pepper, and parmesan; Roasted Beet Salad with hazelnuts, frisee, goat cheese, orange, fennel, and brown butter vinaigrette; Ramp Bucatini with English peas, sugar snaps, green garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano; Chicken Roulade with cippolini onion, green garlic, English peas, and chicken jus, as well as Chesapeake Crab cakes with ramps, fava beans, morel mushrooms, and spring pea puree.  Menu items are priced from $6 to $29.  

Nage Bistro is located at 1600 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036.  The restaurant is open for breakfast, Monday through Sunday, from 7 AM to 10:30 AM.  Lunch is served Monday through Friday, from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and dinner is available Monday through Thursday, from 5 PM to 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, from 5 PM to 10:30 PM and Sunday, from 5 PM to 9 PM.  Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, from 11 AM to 2:30 PM.  For reservations please call (202) 448-8005 or visit


The Blue Duck Tavern Greets Warm Weather in Style

By Cary Pollak

The Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, DC’s Park Hyatt Hotel, is a highly acclaimed restaurant.  Being named the “Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year” by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2013 and appearing on Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list for the last eight years in a row are just two of the restaurant’s many accolades.

This charming restaurant offers a great dining experience all year round, but the advent of spring is a particularly special occurrence there.  At that time of year the restaurant’s fancy turns to thoughts of what new menu items should accompany the reopening of their outdoor terrace section.  A recent celebration of that opening featured refreshing new cocktails, imaginative appetizers, salad and entrée selections, artisanal American cheeses and an array of desserts that put everyone in the mood for warm weather dining.

The open kitchen at Blue Duck Tavern.                                                              Dessert table.                                                     Slow Roasted Porchetta. 

Prior to coming to the Park Hyatt Washington, Executive Chef Ryan LaRoche held that same position at the hotel’s Chicago location.  One can surmise that the spring season, and the possibilities it holds for exciting menu adjustments, was at least as eagerly awaited there as it is here, in our more moderate climate.  With spring on his mind, Chef LaRoche led his staff in doing a fine job of meeting his stated goal of “reconstructing a menu to better reflect what nature has provided us.”  One example of this burst of creativity is the Spring Pea Salad, an intriguing combination of fresh peas, lavender honey, preserved lemon and spiced peanuts.

Executive Chef Ryan Laroche prepares Spring Pea Salad.           Some Spring Pea Salad ingredients.                           Server Wayne Saward presents the District Snap and the Mellomaro.

Servers weaved through the crowd bearing such delectable tidbits as Rabbit Mousse with Gooseberry Compote and Peanut Brittle, Blue Crab Hushpuppies and White Asparagus Soup with Crème Fraiche and Bergamot Oil (the same ingredient that gives Earl Grey tea its essence).  Unusual cocktails were part of the event as well.  The District Snap contains mint, snap peas and rum – and goes down so easily that it is hard not to take one off of every passing tray. The Mellomaro combines whiskey, sparkling wine and Aperol aperitif.   

The Slow Roasted Porchetta is a boneless pork roll, Italian in origin, and enhanced here with andouille sausage, fresh vegetables and a bourbon based sauce.  It was delicious enough to make you think of having seconds, but then you might not have had enough room to indulge in all of the six tempting desserts that were offered.  Pastry Chef Naomi Gallego, once nominated for a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef award, learned her craft in both the US and Germany and was the first pastry chef at the popular Le Diplomat restaurant in DC.  Her creations included White Chocolate Lime Push Pops contained in see-through cylinders, Hazelnut Chocolate Ice Cream Bars, Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies, Russicher Zupfkuchen Bars (a cheesecake and chocolate cake combination), Peanut Butter Jelly Bars and Lemon Blueberry Cornmeal Shortcakes, which were served in lidded glass jars.  I felt duty bound to try them all and each one seemed better than the last!  


The Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington, DC Hotel is located at 1201 34th Street.  202-419-6899.  The website is

Photo Credit: Cary Pollak


ZooFari, a Culinary Safari 

Thursday, May 14 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Gourmet Food, Fine Wine and Live Entertainment on the Menu

by Donna Christenson

Mark your calendars!!!  Our favorite event of the year is coming soon!!!   ZooFari offers the opportunity to sample gourmet fare from more than 100 of the D.C. area’s finest restaurants. Top chefs like Todd Gray, Bart Vandaele, and Haidar Karoum will be featured in the festivities throughout the night.  For example, last year, Ritz-Carlton Chef Phill Sherman showcased delectable desserts. (photo left). More than a dozen vintners will offer complimentary wine from local and international vineyards.. In addition, three mega-bars located around the grounds will provide guests a selection of complimentary beer, soft drinks and water.  

To say that you are "sampling" the food really is misleading.  Many of the restaurants are serving portion sizes that are similar to "small plates" or tapas-sized servings, and there are over 100 restaurants you'll need to try to pace yourself!  All you can manage to eat and drink is included in the ticket price, with proceeds benefiting Zoo programs.  

A new feature this year will be the Battle of the Bartenders.  Local mixologists will compete to create the best tasting original signature cocktail using a mystery ingredient from the Zoo's Animal Kitchen. Tommy McFly from 94.7 Fresh FM  will serve as official emcee. There will be two rounds of competition at 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm. 

Battle of the Bartenders competitors include: Mary Kelly - Del Campo;  Max Pike-Ludwig - Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab; Giancarlo Cruz – Ocopa; Trevor Frye - Jack Rose Dining Saloon; Noah Broddaus – Bar Pilar & Café Saint-Ex; Jack Caminos – Compass Rose Bar and Kitchen; Christopher Franklin – Ardeo+Bardeo; and Christine Kim - Tico.

The fun won’t stop at the food. Guests can also bid on exclusive items such as behind-the-scenes tours of the Zoo at the ZooFari silent auction from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For those who can’t wait until the evening of the event, there is also a ZooFari online auction, which includes items such as artwork created by the Zoo’s giant pandas and exclusive dining opportunities. Strolling musicians will offer live musical performances, and National Zoo curators and keepers provide live animal demonstrations.
 Tickets for ZooFari are available  through the National Zoo's website 
The impressive list of restaurants offering complimentary tastings this year includes:

Pre-party Reception
District Commons
Equinox Restaurant

Main Event
1789 Restaurant
Anthem Restaurant
Armand's Pizzeria
Art and Soul
Asia Nine Bar and Lounge
B Too
Belga Cafe
Bistrot Royal
Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream
BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier
Café Deluxe
Café Saint-Ex
Calvert Woodley Fine Wines
  & Spirits
Cava Mezze
Cava Grill
Cedar Restaurant
Chaplin's Restaurant
Charlie Palmer Steak
Chef Geoff's
Circle Bistro
Compass Rose Bar and Kitchen
Congressional Seafood Co.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Cure Bar & Bistro
Del Campo
Delia's Restaurants
District Doughnut
Dolcezza Gelato
Doi Moi
El Centro D.F. 
Fourth Estate at the National
  Press Club
Georgetown Cupcake
The Grille at Morrison House
Hank's Oyster Bar
Hard Times Cafe
Hello Cupcake
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Jackson 20
Jardenea at Melrose
Georgetown Hotel
 Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak &
  Stone Crab
The Lafayette
LINCOLN Restaurant
Maggiano's Chevy Chase
Masa 14
Mason Social
Ted's Bulletin
Max Brenner
Mitsitam Café
Mon Ami Gabi
Morton's The Steakhouse
Nicecream Factory
Notti Bianche
Oceanaire Seafood Room
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Glory BBQ
Open Road Grill & Icehouse
Ovvio Pizzeria & Wine Bar
The Palm Restaurant
Paolo's Ristorante
Ping Pong Dim Sum
Plan B Burger Bar
The Queen Vic
The Ritz Carleton Tysons Corner
River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar
Rocklands Barbeque and
  Grilling Company
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Santa Lucia Estate Coffee
Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar
Stanton and Greene
Sugar& Ice
Sugo Osteria
SweetPots Mason Jar'd Desserts
Taco Bamba
Teddy & The Bully Bar
Tonic at Quigleys
Toro Toro
TRIO Grill
Washington Court Hotel–Bistro 525

 or in any Zoo gift shop.  Tickets are  $160 for FONZ members and $200 for non-members

ZooFari benefits many Zoo initiatives, from new and improved exhibits, such as American Trail, to conservation and  research programs dedicated to the survival of species such as the Asian elephant, tiger, and cheetah. 
For updates on ZooFari and other events at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo follow Friends of the National Zoo on Twitter and Facebook. 

Photos by DCdigest 'Donna Christenson at ZooFari  2012, 2013 and 2014

Zaytinya Restaurant Doubles Your Fun For Easter!

By Cary Pollak


Those of you who love the Easter holiday but feel that it comes and goes too quickly, are in luck.  Jose Andres’ Zaytinya restaurant is celebrating both the Western and Greek Easters in its “Greek Easter Festival,” and the festivities go on from March 29 (with the presentation of an Agora, or outdoor market) to April 12.  Special Brunch menus will be served on April 5, Easter Sunday, and on April 12 in honor of Greek Easter.  The $35 pre-fixe brunches are available from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days.

Spring Pea Tzatziki with pistachios, Greek yogurt and mint.

A particularly winsome brunch offering is Spring Pea Tzatziki with pistachios, Greek yogurt and mint.  In addition to being delicious, the combination of shelled peas, snow peas, sprouts, mint and pistachios infuse the dish with various shades of green that cannot help but conjure thoughts of spring.  Perhaps most interesting about this dish is the variety of textures in every bite, ranging from crunchy pistachios to slightly crisp snow peas to soft peas to creamy yogurt.  It is a delight.

Other brunch items include Mayiritsa, an egg and lemon soup with lamb neck, smoked lamb's liver and caramelized onions.  Leave to Zaytinya and its talented Head Chef Michael Costa, to show us what delicious things can be done with parts of the lamb that other restaurants might discard. 

 Samples of Mayiritsa Soup.

Another lamb based favorite on the brunch menu is Spit-Roasted Lamb Shoulder Hash with Cretan barley rusks, feta and avgolemono (lemon and egg) sauce.  Barley rusks have been a staple of the Greek diet since ancient times and are rarely found on restaurant menus.  It is not easy to make these twice baked hard breads at home either, since barley flour has all but disappeared from grocery store shelves.

  Spit roasted Lamb Shoulder Hash.

 Throughout the festival specialty dishes will be offered such as Kibbeh Nayeh, a Lebanese-style veal tartare version of a dish that may be made with ground lamb or beef as well.  It is accompanied by bulgar wheat, radishes and mint and stuffed into wonderfully crispy little pita breads.  Roasted Asparagus  is presented with the traditional herb blend called za’atar, rhubarb puree and labneh, a strained, thickened yogurt sometimes known here (but not in Greece) as Greek yogurt.  Also available is a dish of Smoked Sweetbreads with asparagus salata, Lindera honey vinegar dressing and roasted hazelnuts.


 Lamb on the spit.

Creative cocktails are available, such as the Metaxa Fizz, made with the well-known  Greek brandy based liqueur.  Complementing the Metaxa in this drink are lemon juice, bitters, egg whites and orgeat syrup.  That sweet syrup, made with almonds, sugar and rose water, helped to make the Mai Tai a famous cocktail.

Server Shirley Ruiz presents the Metaxa Fizz

The fame of Zaytinya restaurant has spread far and wide, and one reason for that is its popular Greek Easter Festival, now being held for the fourth year in a row.  Some of Zaytinya’s more creative menu items appear only during this event, either during the week or at the Western and Greek Easter brunches, so be sure to drop by soon.

Zaytinya (202-638-6969) is conveniently located in downtown Washington, DC at 701 9th Street, NW.  Unlike traveling to Greece to seek the original inspiration, it does not take a Herculean effort to get to Zaytinya, and the wonderful Greek Easter Festival is well worth the trip.


Photo Credit: Cary Pollak
Editor: Donna Christenson




Biochemist and Cookbook author Shirley O. Corriher
discusses food chemistry at the National Press Club

By Cary Pollak


National Press Club Executive Chef Susan Delbert (at podium) and acclaimed cookbook author Shirley O. Corriher teamed up recently to discuss how food science explains both good and bad outcomes in the preparation of popular recipes.  The program was presented by the NPC Events Committee and was open to the public as well as to Club members.

Ms. Corriher holds a B.A. in chemistry from Vanderbilt, and once worked as a biochemist at that university’s medical school.  Her first book, Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of 

Successful Cooking was a bestseller and won a James Beard Award for excellence.  She used the same combination of cooking tips and chemistry in her second book, Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking.  She has appeared on The Food Network’s Good Eats show with Alton Brown and also has been a guest on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!


The NPC event began with sangria and delicious appetizers prepared in Chef Susan’s kitchen in accordance with principles laid out in Ms. Corriher’s books. 

NPC president Myron Belkind (photo below left) introduced the two presenters, who reviewed common problems encountered in food preparation, and then opened the floor to questions.   

Among the many pointers given was how to prevent red cabbage from turning a bluish color when cooked.  Ms. Corriher explained that anthocyanin, the compound responsible for the red color, can leach out unless an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar is added to the cooking liquid.  That same compound is found under the skins of walnuts and a similar discoloration can occur when walnut breads or muffins are baked.  The cure in that case is to roast the walnuts before folding them into the batter.

Ms. Corriher also advised that one way to tell if eggs are getting old is that they float to the top when cooked in water.  On the other hand, one reason that hard boiled eggs may be difficult to peel is that they are too fresh when they are cooked.  Waiting seven to ten days before cooking should help.  Another of her tips was about how to maintain the bright color of blanched green vegetables like asparagus.  Acids such as vinaigrettes or lemon juice can turn them olive drab or brownish, so it is best not to add such enhancers until just before serving.


Ms. Corriher’s animated and upbeat delivery and chef Delbert’s able assistance in demonstrating techniques and in facilitating interaction between the audience and the speaker, made for an entertaining as well as educational evening.

 Photo credit: NPC's The Wire for Ms. Corriher, group photos by Cary Pollak


The 2014 Metro Cooking Show Promises To Have All The Right Ingredients


Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay plus James Beard Foundation Cooking Stage, RAMW Grand Tasting Pavilion, 100s of specialty food exhibitors set for two-day food extravaganza

by Cary Pollak for Whisk and Quill


On November 8th and 9th the Metro Cooking Show will make its ninth appearance in the nation’s capitol at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and each year it has outdone itself.  Last year over 200 vendors displayed and sold  their wares at the show.  This weekend the number of specialty food exhibitors will exceed 300, offering everything from cookies and scones from A Bit More Sweets and Specialties to coffee products from the Zen Den.  An exciting new development this year is the debut of natural and organic foods at the Natural Foods Pavilion.

Marketplace General Admission is good for one day and allows access to the Tasting & Entertaining Workshop Area, as well as cooking demonstrations on the James Beard Stage and the Exhibitor Marketplace.  For an additional fee, celebrity chefs will be demonstrating their culinary talents on the Celebrity Stage.  Check out Guy Fieri, (left photo) host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives who 

will appear on stage Saturday and Bobby Flay (right photo) of Food Network and the Cooking Channel who has some surprises for his fans on Sunday.  Both will be preparing a few of their favorite dishes.

Throughout the day professional instructors from the renowned cooking school of L’Academie de Cuisine will hold classes on holiday dishes, hors d’oeuvres, knife skills, cake decorating and more, and demonstrations on the James Beard Cooking Stage will feature eleven notable local chefs including Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve, Vikram Sunderam of Rasika, Bertrand Chemel of 2941 and Luigi Diotaiuti of Al Tiramisu.  Tasting and Entertaining Area workshops will focus on Turkish and Italian cuisines, nutrition, cocktails, spices, gluten-free desserts and more.

On Sunday from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) will host the Grand Tasting Pavilion to present samples of specialties from over 50 of Washington’s most distinguished chefs and restaurants.  The ticket for this event includes complimentary Marketplace General Admission valid on Sunday only.

 There is plenty to see – – and buy.  So bring along your Christmas shopping list and get cookin’!


Saturday, November 8th and Sunday, November 9th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW, Washington, DC. 20001

Saturday from 10 – 6 pm and Sunday from 10 – 5pm

General Admission – $20.00 in advance; $24.50 at the door.

Children ages 4 to 12 – $10.00 in advance; $13.50 at the door, Children under 4 free.

Tickets to celebrity theater performances, some cooking classes and the Grand Tasting Pavilion are sold separately.  For more information visit


This article originally appeared in Whisk and Quill November 5, 2014     Visit Whisk and Quill





First 100 in line get FREE “Bobbie” sub; first 50 get free “Bobbie” for a year!


                                            Editor: Donna Christenson     (
photo courtesy of Capriotti’s)

Want to win a year’s worth of the sandwich just voted #1 in The Washington Post’s World Cup of Sandwiches competition and also named “The Greatest Sandwich in America” by subscribers?  Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop ( expands its presence on the East Coast as it opens its second DC-area and first Northern Virginia location at 11 am on Monday August 25 at 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

The first 100 in line at 11 am Monday morning will receive a free “Bobbie” sandwich and the first 50 of those also receive certificates for “Bobbies” for a year. In addition, the Nats “Presidents” will be on hand to rally the crowd and pose for photos.

Capriotti’s signature sub, the best-seller The Bobbie, is the winner of multiple awards and also known as Vice President Joe Biden’s favorite sandwich because that’s what he ordered when he was the first customer at Capriotti’s 18th and M Streets NW location in DC. That classic sub, known as “Thanksgiving on a roll” is made with in-house roasted turkey, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce and a touch of mayo.  I can personally attest to the fact that it tastes even better than it looks. I would also highly recommend the Capastrami, a toasty, melt-in-your-mouth concoction of hot pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, Russian Dressing, and a tasty cole slaw.   

                                                                                                                     photo by Donna Christenson

Known for roasting whole turkeys daily and making fresh sandwiches to order, Capriotti’s is being brought to the DC market by local businessman George Vincent, Jr., center in photo above, flanked by Joe Combs, Director of Operations (right) and Jordan Schneider, Director of Catering.  The 33 year-old Landon School and University of Maryland graduate plans to open a dozen Capriotti’s locations in the region over the next two years.

Hot and cold sub sandwiches in three sizes, sandwiches made to order, a selection of salads and four vegetarian subs, plus a kid’s menu make up the offerings at Capriotti’s.  Founded in 1976 in Wilmington, DE and long a favorite of Delaware beach-goers, Capriotti’s has won numerous accolades including being named one of the “10 Great Places for a Surprising Sandwich” by USA Today and is a recent winner of “Best of” awards in Delaware, Las Vegas, Dallas, Quad Cities, Eastern Shore and San Diego.



1500 Wilson Blvd- Arlington VA, 22209  - 703.465.2277

Monday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.


ZooFari, a Culinary Safari, 

will be served up Thursday, May 15 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Gourmet Food, Fine Wine and Live Entertainment on the Menu

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo feeds 400 species regularly, but on Thursday, May 15 Friends of the National Zoo will host the human species at ZooFari, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Guests are invited on a culinary safari to sample gourmet fare from more than 100 of the D.C. area’s finest restaurants. The list of restaurants includes  Marcel’s, Equinox, 1789 Restaurant, 
Central, Proof, and Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab.   Fifteen vintners will be on hand to cleanse diners’ palates with glasses of wine between bites. 

This year also features a 
Celebrity Chef Grill Off  with Judging 7:00pm and 8:00pm.  Celebrity Chefs will battle for the title of Zoofari Grill Master using a mystery ingredient from the Zoo's Animal Kitchen. Sponsored by Capital One Bank and hosted by Tommy McFly from Fresh 94.7 FM. 

Strolling musicians will spice up the evening with live musical performances. And for those hungry to learn more about the National Zoo from curators and keepers, live animal demonstrations will take place between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. 

The Zoo’s great cats will be out for a nightcap and on view for a limited number of guests in the VIP LivingSocial Lion Lounge. The 
Lounge will be a carnival of fun for guests with a sweet tooth.  Hello Cupcake, Firehook Bakery, Ben & Jerry’s, Shake 
Sugar & Ice, Whole Foods Market  
and Dolci Gelati will serve delicious desserts. The lounge will be lavished with specialty cocktails, festive carnival games, a photo booth and live entertainment.

The fun won’t stop at the food. Guests can also bid on exclusive items such as behind-the-scenes tours of the Zoo at the ZooFari silent auction from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For those who can’t wait until the evening of the event, there is also a ZooFari online auction, which includes items such as artwork created by the Zoo’s giant pandas and exclusive dining opportunities. 
Tickets for ZooFari are available through the National Zoo’s website  or in any Zoo gift shop.  Tickets are:

   • $175 for FONZ members 
   • $200 for non-members
Groups should consider purchasing tables for 10. Tables include tickets for a group of guests, access to the LivingSocial Lion Lounge and valet parking passes. Visit the Zoo’s website for more information about tables. 

ZooFari benefits many Zoo initiatives, from new and improved exhibits, such as American Trail, to conservation and research programs dedicated to the survival of species such as the Asian elephant, tiger, and cheetah. Sponsors for ZooFari include: Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One Bank, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast, GEICO, LivingSocial, MIX 107.3 – WRQX FM, NBC4, Rosenthal Jaguar/Land Rover, Washingtonian magazine, Widmer Brothers and 105.9 WMAL. 

For updates on ZooFari and other events at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo follow Friends of the National Zoo on Twitter and Facebook. 

Photos by DCdigest 'Donna Christenson at ZooFari  2012 & 2013


Where to Celebrate Mother’s Day in The Nation’s Capital
 edited by Donna Christenson

Washington D.C. — To celebrate Mother’s Day, Washington area restaurants offer a variety of memorable dining options, perfect for treating Mom on her special day.  From American comfort food to authentic Indian cuisine, each restaurant will celebrate deserving mothers on Sunday, May 11th.

Executive Chef Anthony Lombardo at the historic 1789 Restaurant (1226 36th Street, NW) will be dishing up a Mother’s Day a la carte brunch served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 11th. During brunch service, the first and main courses are included in the main course price, which range from $32 to $46. Guests also have a nice selection of house-made desserts created by 1789’s Pastry Chef Ryan Westover, which range from $10 to $14. To conclude the day, an a la carte Mother’s Day dinner will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. For Mother’s Day Brunch, guests can look forward to first course menu items such as Asparagus and Ramp Soup with crispy purple potatoes and house-made crème fraiche; Mixed Berry Strudel with creamy mascarpone, seasonal berries and raspberry merlot sauce; Guanciale and Spring Pea Tartino with duck egg custard, Taleggio and mixed greens, and Primavera Salad with pickled spring onions, fava beans, white asparagus and green garlic vinaigrette.  The main course highlights includeMorel and Lobster Quiche with English peas, mixed greens and made in a cast iron skillet; Eggs Chesapeake with jumbo lump crab cakes, poached eggs, Hollandaise and home fries; Challah French Toast with Nutella, fig preserves and Virginia maple syrup, and Duck Hash with leg confit, spring onions, fingerling potatoes and fried egg.  For dessert there is Pot de Crème with chocolate cake crumbs, hazelnut, cappuccino gelato and maple kataifi; Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream Pie for Two, peanut butter ice cream, dark chocolate and brûléed bananas; Sweet Tea and Honey, honey and white chocolate crémeux, graham cracker tuile, mango and citrus fruit salad, Harvest Song walnuts and Red Rose sweet tea ice cream,and Monkey Bread with apple cinnamon brioche, apple ambrosia, butterscotch ice cream and butterscotch sauce.  1789 Restaurant offers complimentary valet parking. For reservations, or additional information please call (202) 965-1789, or visit

City Tap House, the new craft beer-focused restaurant at 901 9th Street, NW, 20001, will celebrate Mother’s Day with a Grand Brunch Buffet on Sunday, May 11th.  A bountiful menu prepared by Culinary Director Brian Cooke will be available for $40 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity), and there will be two seatings available, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  Guests can anticipate three brunch stations set up in City Tap House, one hot, one cold, and one for dessert.  Featured Mother’s Day specials at the hot brunch station will include Omelets to Order; a Waffle Station with traditional toppings and syrup including blueberries, strawberries, Chantilly crème and Nutella; Bacon & Sausage; Breakfast Potatoes; Scrambled Eggs with cream cheese and chives; Country Sausage with buttermilk biscuits; Carved, Turkey, Virginia Ham, and Roast Beef and Smoked Salmon with cream cheese, onion, capers & lemons.  Delicious options at the cold station will include Smoked Salmon with cream cheese, onion, capers & lemons; Assorted Bagels with flavored cream cheeses, Nutella & peanut butter; Assortment of Breakfast Pastries and Muffins; Sliced Fruit & Berries; a Make Your Own Parfait Station with vanilla yogurt, almonds, dried fruit, honey crisp granola, dark chocolate and white chocolate, and a Fresh Juice Bar from Lambeth Farms, including orange juice, grapefruit juice and a juice du jour.  The dessert station will feature a decadent Chocolate Fountain for diners to enjoy.  City Tap House will also have a “Make Your Own Mimosa” Bar on Mother’s Day featuring Poema Cava and assorted purees and juices for $12.  For reservations or additional information, please call (202) 733-5333 or visit


Mio Restaurant, located at 1110 Vermont Avenue, NW, 20005, will host an a la carte brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Mother’s Day.  Guests can anticipate the best of Puerto Rican cuisine prepared by Mio’s guest chef Roberto Hernandez.  Moms can look forward to Mio Mallorca Baskets; Stuffed Guinea Hen with chorizo and breadfruit; Short Ribs cooked in spices and tamarind sauce; Crispy Root Vegetable Gallete with a house cured smoked salmon; Ham Steak with pineapple and rum glaze, as well as Pigeon Peas Croquetas with bacalao.  Prices range from $9 to $25 each.  Mothers will also receive a nice take-home goodie bags, which includes a bag of Mio’s signature Arabica premium blend sundried coffee.  For reservations, or additional information please call (202) 955-0075 or visit

Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault and Chef de Cuisine Daniel Singhofen at the award-winning Blue Duck Tavern, located at 24th and M Streets, NW, 20037, are introducing new seasonal, American classics to the restaurant’s Mother’s Day menu.  Brunch will be offered from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 11th, and is priced at $95 per person for adults and $42 for children between six and 12, excluding tax and gratuity.  Children under the age of five are complimentary.  The three-course, fixed-price menu begins with a choice of starters, including seasonal salads, meats, breads and cheeses, on display throughout the open kitchen.  Next up, guests will have a choice of entrée and sides from the holiday menu.  Highlights include Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich with kale, lamb merguez sausage and a sunny side up egg; Duck Confit Hash with fried egg, green peas, chanterelles and romaine hearts; Baked Eggs & Shrimp with sofrito, baby spinach and shellfish sauce; Wood Oven Seared Scallops with green peas, bacon, spring onions and vermouth emulsion; Slow Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with horseradish sauce and natural jus, as well asRoasted Spring Lamb with gremolata, soubise and fresh herbs.  Brunch concludes with seasonal desserts, which are on display in the pastry pantry.  Standouts include Lemongrass Panna Cota; Carrot Cake with cream cheese mousse; Coconut Custard Cream Cake; Milk Chocolate Jasmine Tea Custard,and a Spring Candy Station.  Please call (202) 419-6755 or visit for reservations. 


Penn Quarter’s celebrated Indian hot spot, Rasika, located at633 D Street, NW, is crafting a memorable dining experience for Mother’s Day with a special three-course prix fixe brunch menu prepared by Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam.  From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Rasika will be offering their Mother’s Day Brunch for $45 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Menu highlights include Pepper Crab with garlic, ginger and green chilies; Ragda Pattice, spiced potato pattice with chickpeas and chutneys; Tandoori Salmon with cinnamon, red chilies and black pepper; Chicken Do Rukha, sweet and sour chicken, as well asParsi Lamb Rassa with poppy seeds, tomatoes and coconut milk. For dessert, guests will enjoy a sampler of Chocolate Cinnamon Parfait, Saffron Bread Pudding, Pear Cardamom TartinandPistachio Yogurt.  Rasika will open for regular dinner service from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.  For more information or to make reservations, please visit or call (202) 637-1222.


Ashok Bajaj’s sister restaurant, Rasika West End, located at 1190 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, 20037, will also offer a pre fixe three-course Mother’s Day menu from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., priced at $45 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Guests can indulge in modern, authentic Indian fare created by Group Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam.  Standout dishes not to be missed includeFish Farcha, sea bass, onions, tomatoes and jeera aloo; Chapli Kebab with mined lamb, coriander seeds, red chili and mint chutney; Alleppey Shrimp Curry with coconut, ginger and fenugreek seeds, as well asChicken Pepper Fry with onions, tomatoes, fennel and curry leaves. For dessert, guests will enjoy a sampler of Chocolate Cinnamon Parfait, Saffron Bread Pudding, Pear Cardamom TartinandPistachio Yogurt.  Rasika West End will open for regular dinner service from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.  For more information or reservations, please call (202) 466-2500 or visit


At The Oval Room located at 800 Connecticut Ave, NW, 20006, Executive Chef Tony Conte will be showcasing spring flavors with a pre fixe three-course Mother’s Day menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. priced at $50 per person or $75 per person with wine pairings (tax and gratuity not included).  Guests will delight in flavorful, beautifully executed dishes such as Spring Vegetable Soup with beet agnolotti and nori; White Asparagus with morels, whipped egg sauce and toasted hazelnuts; Fluke with fennel-tarragon, licorice vinaigrette and green almonds; Rack of Lamb with charred eggplant, spring onion & juices of spring peppers, as well as Prime Strip with broccoli, black bean sauce, fried ginger and garlic.  For dessert, tempting options include Vanilla-Ricotta Fritters with lemon curd ice cream; Tres Leches Cake with mint strawberry salad and strawberry ice cream, as well as Cocoa-Carrot Cake with cocoa crumble.  For additional information or to make reservations please call (202) 463-8700 or visit


Just across the street, Executive Chef Nilesh Singhvi at the Bombay Club, located at 815 Connecticut Ave., NW, 20006, will be preparing a decadent three-course, prix fixe Mother’s Day menu on Sunday, May 11th.  From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the special menu will be available for $39 per person or with unlimited Champagne for $54 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Standout dishes not to be missed include Crispy Kale Chat with date-tamarind chutney; Bhalla Papdi Chat, lentil dumplings with crispy puri, yogurt and spices; Bombay Sev Puri, crisp puri, avocado, mango, sprouts, onion and chutney; Chicken Pista Korma, pistachio, yogurt, mace and cardamom; Shrimp Chettinad, coconut, onion, curry leaves and star anise, as well as Mix Vegetable Roganjosh, onion, tomato, cinnamon and cardamom.  For the perfect ending, mothers can choose from mouthwatering desserts such as Sticky Toffee Pudding with chocolate hazelnut ice cream; Gulab Jamun, milk dumpling served warm with vanilla ice cream, as well asGreen Cardamom Kheer with raisins and almonds.  For reservations or additional information please call (202) 659-3727 or visit


Ardeo+Bardeo, located at3311 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 20008, in Cleveland Park will showcase a delicious three-course Mother’s Day brunch crafted by Executive Chef Matt Kuhn.  Highlights include Pea Shoot “Carbonara” Salad with black garlic mousse, guanciale, shaved egg, pickled Vidalia, and a buttermilk-pecorino vinaigrette; Deviled Eggs with basil mousse and bacon jam; Bouchot Mussels with arugula pesto, pancetta and foie gras butter; Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich with country ham, scrambled eggs, bacon jam and pimento cheese “whiz”; Grilled Steelhead Trout with truffled asparagus puree, white pea shoot, honey mushrooms and smoked roe, as well as “Granola” Salad, puffed faro, seasonal berries, dried apricots, basil and citrus yogurt.  Dessert options include Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie with lemon puree, and strawberry-basil “for-yo”; Chocolate “Bar” with peanut butter mousse, salted caramel sauce and candied peanuts, and Buttermilk Doughnuts with blueberry compote, cinnamon cream and vanilla crumble.  Brunch is priced at $39 per person, or $53 for bottomless Champagne or mimosas, and will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  For more information, please call (202) 244-6750 or visit


El Centro D.F., with two locations in the District, is serving up all-you-can-eat authentic Mexican brunch this Mother’s Day.  Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgetown address, and from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 14th Street, NW location.  Priced at $35 per person (tax and gratuity not included), Mothers can enjoy an endless selection from the entire brunch menu, with options such as Shrimp Ceviche with habanero citrus sauce and pico de gallo; Fried Egg Divorciados smothered in red and green salsa with chorizo and black beans; Picadillo Empanadas with ground beef, carrots, peas, potatoes and Mexican cheese, as well as theMexican “Benedict” with poached eggs, corn masa cake, black bean purée and canritas. Bottomless brunch drinks, such as the Michelada, Bloody Maria and choice of seasonal Aqua Fresca cocktails, complement the unlimited brunch offering.  The all-you-can-eat brunch menu must be ordered for the entire table, and all items are available a la carte priced between $4 and $16.  El Centro D.F. is located at 1819 14th Street, NW, 20009.  For reservations please call (202) 328-3131. El Centro Georgetown is located at 1218 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, 20007. For reservations at the Georgetown location, please call (202) 333-4100. For further information, visit the website at


Located in the lively 14th Street neighborhood at 1825 14th Street, NW, 20009, Masa 14 will serve colorful Latin-Asian cuisine to brunch-goers this Mother’s Day.  A prix fixe brunch will be available in the main dining room from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. priced at $35 (tax and gratuity excluded, and the last seating is at 2 p.m.), which includes an unlimited selection of brunch drinks full of seasonal flavor such as theTraditional Mimosa, Masa Mimosa, Lychee Bellini, Bacon Bloody Mary and Lemon Lager.  The menu will feature a selection of Flatbreads & Salads, Eggs, Benedicts & Omelets and Sandwiches & Such options, including Prosciutto Flatbread with goat cheese, cantaloupe, arugula, truffle and lime; Mushroom Escabeche Omelet with arugula, roasted peppers, avocado and tomato salsa, as well as the Bahn Mi Burger, a spicy pork patty with pickled vegetables and citrus aioli.  This special brunch must be ordered for the entire table.  Brunch offerings can also be ordered a la carte for a light bite with prices ranging from $4 to $12.  For more information or reservations, please call (202) 328-1414 or visit


Situated next to the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro, Zengo, located at 781 7th Street, NW, 20001, will offer their popular Bottomless Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. this Mother’s Day.  Priced at $35 per person and $10 per child under 10 (tax and gratuity excluded), guests can enjoy an all-you-can-eat selection of ceviche, sushi and salad, dim sum and antojitos, and brunch plates along with seven distinctive brunch cocktails.  Bottomless Brunch must be ordered by the entire table and the menu is offered exclusively for the prix fixe service.  The unlimited brunch menu includes tempting small plates such as Bacon & Scrambled Egg Steam Buns with salsa verde, Oaxaca cheese and house cured bacon and the Angry Zengo Roll with tuna, wasabi tobiko, avocado, cucumber, and sesame chipotle rouille.  The more ample brunch plates include Short Rib Hash with poached eggs, potato, rajas and caramelized onion; Crispy Tofu with baby bok choy, bean sprouts, cilantro, and ginger topped with sesame sweet chili, and Hanoi PandanWaffles with strawberry-guava sauce and whipped cream.  Zengo’s brunch menu is complemented by a bottomless supply of featured brunch cocktails such as the Bloody Mary, Bloody Maria, and Sake Sangria, as well as four types of mimosas: Mimosa Traditional, Passion Fruit Mimosa, Guava Mimosa and the Pomegranate Mimosa.  Signature cocktails will also be available off the regular menu for an addition $5 per cocktail.  For reservations or additional information please call (202) 393-2929 or visit


On Capitol Hill, Ambar, the nation’s capital’s first Balkan restaurant, located at 523 8th Street, SE, 20003, will offer unlimited small plates and free-flowing brunch cocktails this Mother’s Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Priced at $35 per person excluding tax and gratuity, everyone at the table can enjoy an all-you-can-eat selection of mezze, soups, salads, sandwiches, egg dishes, pastry & crepes and sweets along with three brunch cocktails.  Bottomless Brunch must be ordered by the entire table and the menu is offered exclusively for the prix fixe service.  One might wish to start with Fried Chicken Sandwich, almond & walnut crusted with spring mix and apple-wasabi slaw; Veal & Vegetable Soup with sour cream and fresh chives, or the in-house freshly ground Balkan Burger, beef & pork with cucumber yogurt, and roasted pepper cheese spread.  Those looking for breakfast fare options will want to consider the Eggs Benedictserved on an English muffin with Ajvar, prosciutto and Kajmak sauce; the Salmon Omelet or Prosciutto Omelet; or Steak & Eggs,sirloin served with homemade fried potatoes and Chimichurri sauce, and the Balkan Scrambled Eggwith red & yellow peppers, onion, aged cow cheese served with homemade potatoes.  Ambar also serves Ham & CheeseorRoasted Mushroom Crepes, plus two types of savory pies, Cheese, with cucumber yogurt and Ajvar emulsion;and Meatmade with group pork & beef and marinated pepper.  Ambar’s Mother’s Day brunch menu is complemented by a bottomless supply of featured cocktails such as the Traditional Mimosa; Bloody Mary and the Ambar Mimosa with Champagne, peach puree and blood orange.  For additional information please call (202) 813-3039 and visit


Et Voila!, the classic Belgian French bistro located in the heart of the Palisades neighborhood at 5120 MacArthur Blvd, NW, 20016, will showcase festive holiday specials in addition to their regular brunch and dinner menus this Mother’s Day.  Guests at Et Voila! will want to order the Oysters Rockefeller with DueS beer; Buratta with organic yellow beet carpaccio; Halibut served with ramp risotto and roasted green asparagus, or theGrilled Trout with crab custard and a corn and shitake mushroom beurre blanc.  For the perfect ending, moms can enjoy aDuo of Chocolate Cake, or the famous Le Fraisier Shortcake with strawberries and crème chiboust.  Et Voila will be open on Sunday, May 11th from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.  Specials range from $15.75 to $29.75 each.  Featured bottomless cocktails are available for $12.  For additional information and reservations please call (202) 237-2300 or visit


nopa Kitchen+Bar, Ashok Bajaj’s American brasserie located in the heart of Penn Quarter at 800 F Street, NW, 20004, will showcase garden fresh vegetables, select meats and fish prepared with a touch of French influence this Mother’s Day.  A delicious prix fixe, three-course menu will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and priced at $45 per person (excluding tax or gratuity).  Prepared by Executive Chef Greg McCarty, standout dishes include Yellow Beet Soup with pickled mushrooms and turmeric; English Pea Agnolotti with parmesan and sautéed dandelion; French Toast with caramelized banana and maple syrup; Roasted Hake Fish with spiced coconut broth, Swiss chard and purple potatoes; Potato Gnocchi with basil and walnut pesto and asiago cheese, as well as aSautéed Pork Chop with rhubarb mustard and sweet and sour mustard greens.  For reservations or additional information, please visit or call (202) 347-4667.


Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca located at 1100 New York Avenue, NW, is preparing a feast of elegant Italian fare for a memorable occasion.  Mother’s Day brunch will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Bibiana will serve a three-course, pre-fixe menu with a variety of options for $45 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Executive Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Mother’s Day menu invites guests to enjoy a family style antipasti tasting for the table.  Standouts include Aranchini Misti, rice fritters stuffed with pork ragu and provolone piccante and Frittata with spring garlic and leeks.  Next, guests can select their entrée from options such as L’Agnello, slow roasted lamb shoulder with faro, fava beans and Pecorino Zabaglione; Moleche, crispy Chesapeake soft shell crabs with fennel, radish, parsley and lemon garlic, as well as Gnocchi with ramp pesto, cherry tomatoes and ricotta salata.  For a sweet ending, Pastry Chef Jemil Gadea is creating a seasonal tasting of desserts.  From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. a regular a la carte menu will be available.  For more information please call (202) 216-9550 or visit


701 Restaurant, located at701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 20004, invites guests to treat Mom to a special brunch complete with live jazz and ample outdoor seating overlooking the Navy Memorial fountains.  The Mother’s Day brunch will feature a delicious prix fixe, three-course menu served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., for $50 per person (not including tax or gratuity).  Prepared by Executive Chef Benjamin Lambert, standout dishes include Chilled Pea Soup with buttermilk ricotta and orange confit; Lump Crab with hearts of palm, mango and yuzu; Salmon with miso-cucumber, spring onion, and a pineapple-golden raisin sauce; Grilled Flat Iron Steak with crispy potato, watercress, red onion and blue cheese sabayon, as well asGrana Arso Spaghetti with morel mushrooms, ramp, egg 63 and parmesan.  For the perfect ending, guests can choose from Fruit Tart with almond mousseline and raspberry sorbet; Linzer Torte with hazelnut, cherry marmalade and chocolate ice cream, as well asBeignets with Café du Monde anglaise.  Valet parking is available during brunch and dinner service for $8 per car.  For reservations or additional information please call (202) 393-0701 or visit


Cuba Libre, located at 801 9th Street, NW, 20001, invites mom to indulge in their “Unlimited Tapas Brunch” this Mother’s Day.  Guests can dine on a variety of flavorful small plates on Sunday, May 11th as the unlimited menu is available from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with seating available until 1:30 p.m.  Items will also be available a la carte until 3 p.m.  Moms can order all they can eat at Cuba Libre with no carry home leftovers and the unlimited brunch must be ordered for the whole table.  Standouts off Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot’s new brunch menu include the El Rey, banana, dulce de leche and peanut brittle sandwich served on buttered-toasted brioche bread; Tortilla en Cazuela, a cast iron frittata with calabaza squash, caramelized sweet onions, broccolini, provolone and Tetilla cheese; Mango-Avocado Salad with marinated Kent mangos, Hass avocados and arugula lettuce served with an orange vinaigrette, as well as theCeviche Mixto, lightly poached shrimp, Baja bay scallops and squid with fresh coconut water, chiles, citrus, Thai basil and cucumber salsa served with coconut chips. Guests can try every dish on the menu for a true feast with friends as Unlimited Tapas is priced at $26 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) while a la carte menu items are priced from $5.50 to $12.  Bottomless morning cocktails such as Cuban Mary (Bloody Mary); Classic Mimosa; Mimosa Rojo with Cava, fresh watermelon juice, and a splash of guarapo; Lychee Mimosa with lychee liqueur, Cava, a splash of Guanabana aqua fresca and a splash of guarapo, as well as Red and White Sangria, a daily beer selection and Agua Fresca can be added to your unlimited brunch for an additional $14 per person.  For more information or reservations, please call (202) 408-1600 or visit


Alba Osteria, located at 425 I Street, NW, 20001, is offering moms the opportunity to experience authentic Italian cuisine reflective of the Piedmont region of Italy this Mother’s Day.  Bottomless brunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is priced at $29.95 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Guests can enjoy an all-you-can-eat selection of breakfast pizzas, egg dishes, pancakes and meatballs along with four brunch cocktails.  Tempting plates include Fried Eggs and Meatballs,two fried eggs, tomato sauce, fried house made meatballs and fried potato; Buckwheat Ricotta Pancakes with lemon and blueberries; Egg White Frittata with spinach, mushrooms, onions, parmigiano reggiano served with a mixed green salad; Sausage Pizza with egg, provolone cheese and tomato sauce, as well as Monte Cristo, sautéed bread slices, egg, fontina cheese, Italian ham, fried eggs and fried potatoes.  Menu items will also be available a la carte with prices ranging from $8 to $14.  For the perfect pairing, moms can enjoy a bottomless supply of featured cocktails such as the traditional Mimosa; White Peach Bellini; Infused Prosciutto Vodka Bloody Mary, and aHouse-made Beer-Mosa.  Cocktails are available a la carte, and range from $7 to $8.  Guests can order brunch dishes a la carte, and take part in bottomless cocktails for just $18 per person (tax and gratuity not included). For reservations, or additional information please call (202) 733-4454 or visit


Zaytinya, located at 701 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, will offer mezzes reflecting the rich regional diversity of classical and contemporary Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine this Mother’s Day.  Guests can choose items off a pre-selected four-course menu priced at $35 per person (tax and gratuity not included), or order specials a la carte.  Prepared by Head Chef Michael Costa, highlights include Spring Pea Tzatziki, English peas, pistachio, Greek yogurt, dill and mint; Greek Egg, crispy breaded loukaniko wrapped soft boiled egg with garlic yogurt; Spit Roasted Lamb Shoulder Hash with Cretan barley rusks, feta and avgolemono sauce as well as Loukamades, traditional honey syrup soaked Greek donuts with mint and flower petals.  Prices range from $6 to $15 each.  Zaytinya will serve regular hours on Sunday, May 11th from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.  For more information or to make reservations please call (202) 638-0800 or visit


At Jaleo, a selection of traditional Spanish tapas will be available at all three Washington area locations this Mother’s Day.  Jaleo Crystal City and Jaleo DC will offer specials on their regular a la carte menus.  Specials on Jaleo Crystal City’s menu include Langostinos a la Plancha con Ajo y Perejil, grilled prawns with garlic and parsley; Patatas Fritas de Jose Andres al Cabrales, Jose-style fried potatoes with Cabrales blue cheese, as well as Arroz Caldoso de Bogavante, rice with lobster.  Specials off Jaleo DC’s Mother’s Day menu include Carrilleras de Cerdo Ibérico con Pure de Patatas, ibérico pork cheeks with mashed potatoes; Salmón a la Plancha con Pure de Coliflor y Frambuesa, seared salmon with cauliflower puree and raspberry sauce, as well as Sopa Fria de Melon con Laminas de Jamon Ibérico, cantaloupe soup with ibérico ham.  Tapas specials are priced from $6 and go up to $49 for paella.  Then, Jaleo Bethesda will offer a special $55 per person, prix fixe menu (tax and gratuity not included), which includes unlimited tapas until 2:30 p.m, and a complimentary glass of cava, mimosa, bloody gazpacho or fresh squeezed juice.  Children under 12 will get the same offer with small glass of orange juice for $36.  Standouts off the prix fixe offering include Jamónes y Chorizo Ibérico Fermín, 18 month, dry-cured serrano ham with acorn fed pork chorizo; Huevos Estrellados, traditional mix of crisp potatoes and a fried organic free range egg; Tortilla Espagnole, traditional Spanish omelette with fried onions and potatoes; Lomo de Buey con Huevo Frito y Patatas Valdeon, grilled hanger steak with a fried organic free range egg, potatoes and valdeon cheese sauce, as well as Escalivada Catalana, roasted red pepper, eggplant and sweet onion with olive oil and sherry vinegar.  Jaleo has three locations in the Washington metro area, located at 480 7th Street, NW, 20004, (202) 628-7949; at 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD, 20814, (301) 913-0003; and at 2250 Crystal Drive in Arlington, VA, 22202, (703) 413-8181.  Hours for Mother’s Day are as follows: Jaleo DC from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Jaleo Crystal City from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Jaleo Bethesda.  For more information or reservations please call (202) 628-7949 or visit


At Oyamel, located at 401 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004, guests can enjoy dishes, which reflect the rich culinary heritage combined with current urban fare of Mexico City.  Standouts on Oyamel's Mother’s Day menu include Tortitas de Papa con Hongos, fried potato fritters with Chihuahua cheese, Mexican crema, and fresh morel mushrooms; Jaiba con Ensalada Nopales, crispy, fried, soft-shell crab, cured nopales, frisee, tomatoes, and Chipotle crema; Mixiote con Mole de Olla, spring vegetables steamed in cabbage, guajillo mole de olla; Camarones al la Plancha Enchipoladas, seared head-on prawns, chipotle sauce with dried shrimp, salsa Mexicana, toasted sesame seeds, as well as Pechuga de Pato con Mole Frutas, seared duck breast with sautéed mushrooms, hominy, spring fruit mole, toasted pine nuts.  Prices range from $13 to $15 each.  Oyamel will serve regular hours on Sunday, May 11th from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.  For reservations or additional information please call (202) 628-1005 or visit


Cooperwood Tavern, located in the bustling Shirlington Village at 4021 Campbell Ave in Arlington, VA 22206, will be serving up a la carte brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Mother’s Day.  Standout dishes off Executive Chef Alan Javery’s menu include Bananas Foster French Toast with thick sliced challah bread and rum maple syrup; Duck Hash with duck leg confit, potatoes, onion, carrot, bell pepper and two poached eggs; Egg White Omelet with spinach, mushrooms and Swiss cheese; Cajun Benedict with house-made tasso ham, grilled tomato and Cajun hollandaise, as well asFried Chicken and Biscuits with maple-chicken jus and house made biscuits.  Prices range from $6 to $18 each.  Additionally, moms will receive house made brownie bites as an added take-home.  For reservations or additional information please call (703) 522-8010 or visit


Dolcezza will offer a delicious Argentinean treat for Mother’s Day, Dulce de Leche Gelato Sundae with homemade Virginia strawberry jam and fresh meringue priced at $8.  This limited edition sundae is a favorite of Dolcezza co-owner and mother of two Violeta Edelman, and will be available exclusively at the factory from Sunday, May 11th through 25th. Dolcezza Union Market is located at 550 Penn Street, NE, Washington, DC, 20002.  For additional information please call (202) 333-4646 or visit


This Mother’s Day Legal Sea Foods will be serving its delicious a la carte menu, as well as showcasing festive holiday specials with regular hours on Sunday, May 11th.  Legal Sea Foods locations in the Washington, DC area are as follows: 704 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 347–0007; 2301 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Crystal City, Arlington, VA (703) 415-1200; and Tysons Galleria in McLean, VA (703) 827-8900.  For additional information please visit



Shop Small & Local or International at the

Metropolitan Cooking & Entertainment Show

By Richard Sommerfeld with Donna Christenson

The 2013 MetroCooking DC is currently underway at the Walter Washington Convention Center.  Not only does it showcase 300 vendors, mostly from the DC metro area, but this year the new Holiday Bazaar is co-located with the show.  On Sunday the new Grand Tasting Pavilion will feature dozens of local restaurants and chefs sharing samples of their signature dishes.  

There are numerous celebrity cooking demonstrations to be enjoyed.  The American National CattleWomens Association (ANCW) not only sponsors some of the demonstrations, but has also provided the beef for many tasty samplings.  The ANCW is a professional networking group that keeps up to date on the issues related to the beef industry, which includes consumer education, promotion ideas and legislative items of interest.

Some of our favorite new discoveries among the many terrific vendors, all but two of which are from our local area, include:

Capital City Mumbo Sauce ( is a line of sauces that are sweet, sticky, tangy and plain old good.  The red tomato based sauce is sweet and tangy, with a bit of a kick. Often used as a condiment on fried chicken wings and French fries, mumbo sauce is, for the most part, only found at local Washington, DC Chinese carryout restaurants.  You can find Mumbo Sauce at the Union Market, Ben’s Next Door Gift Shop, the Eastern Market, Sav-a-Lot, and Murry’s.

Hoffman’s Meats ( of Hagerstown, MD has been providing all natural meats, including sausages, Fordham Bier Brats, and various baked goods since 1923.  Today, Hoffman’s is headed by the Trippett family who purchased the business in 2011  Hoffman’s serves retailers throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Laconiko ( offers a line of extra virgin and infused olive oils that have become increasingly popular here in the DC area.  With a limited quantity of olive trees (only 5,000), its private olive estate is located off the sandy beaches of the Southern Peloponnese, outside of Sparta, Greece, and surrounded by orange trees.  This unique location by the coast and in the midst of orange trees gives olive oil its unique delicate flavor.  We have written about Laconiko before (scroll down to find it) and now you can find Laconiko’s products in Wagshal’s, Cork & Fork and Sapore in the District, Arrow Wines and Clifton Wine Shop & Tasting Room in Virginia (among others) and 14 retail outlets in Maryland.

Parfections ( sells handmade gourmet chocolates that are scrumptiously different because they only produce chocolates in small batches, thereby allowing them to provide chocolates with unusual flavors and innovative ingredient combinations.  Based in Cockeysville, MD, Parfections’ product line includes over 30 unique truffle flavors, a variety of chocolate barks, dried fruits dipped in chocolate, and fresh strawberries decorated in your choice of chocolate.  Believe us, you could easily get stalled at this booth. 

Salt Rox ( sells pink Himalayan salt block that are perfect for cooking small meals of meat, poultry or fish, cooling fresh sushi, or presenting mouthwatering desserts either hot or cold.  Fresh fruit, and dessert items such as chocolate are transformed by the salt blocks natural seasoning.  You can put it on your grill or use it in your oven.  You cook right on the salt block.  We sampled grilled mushrooms and pork chops…Yum…Yum!

Todd’s Dirt ( which is a range of seasonings for meats, vegetables and soups.  The spices are all natural and there is no MSG or gluten in any of the four varieties.  In early 2014 the company will begin offering a range a marinades.  Our favorite spice from this Severna Park based company is Crabby Dirt which we have used as a seafood seasoning and as a pork rub for grilling.  You can buy a 3.25 oz. jar at the show for $5.  You can also find Todd’s Dirt at local grocery stores.

Velatis ( has been satisfying Washington’s sweet tooth since 1866.  Based in Silver Spring, MD, Velatis produces over twenty varieties of chewy and sugary styles of caramel candies made from Old European recipes. Vanilla and chocolate caramels are made with and without nuts and marshmallow centers. Seasonal varieties include raspberry, black cherry brandy, cream de menthe, pumpkin spice, key lime and eggnog.  In addition to their main store in Silver Spring, you can also buy Velatis chocolates and caramels at Piazza Italian Market in Easton, MD and at The Chocolate Seller in Middleburg, VA.

Artisan smoked salmon from Neopol Savory Smokery ( at Union Market.  You should taste the smoked trout…OMG

Hugh Acheson is the author of the James Beard Foundation Award Winning Cookbook A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen and chef/partner of the Athens, Georgia, restaurants Five and Ten and The National, and the Atlanta restaurant Empire State South.  He is a James Beard award winner for Best Chef Southeast and was named a Best Chef by Food & Wine Magazine.  Hugh competed in Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Season 3 and currently stars as a judge on Top Chef.

Jason Roberts is an internationally known chef and cast member of the hit daytime talk show “The Chew” on ABC.  

Roberts brings his unique flair and cooking style to the show for in studio segments and travels the country in search of unique and interesting food.

These and many more celebrity chefs will lead a variety of workshops over the weekend including Rocky Fino, author of Will Cook for Sex: A Guys Guide to Cooking; Kim O’Donnel, author of The Meat Lovers Meatless Celebrations; Marcia Friedman, author of Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life; and Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice: Inspired Indian recipes for the contemporary Kitchen.  




Foodie weekend to include TV stars, new tasting Pavilion, 100s of specialty food vendors


Washington, DC  – Metro Cooking DC returns for its eighth year to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center November 2 & 3, 2013. This year’s extravaganza brings television chefs, hundreds of specialty food vendors selling their products, cooking demonstrations, cookbook authors and workshops.

This year’s show will have two new features: the Grand Tasting Pavilion with dozens of local restaurants and chefs sharing samples of their signature fare and the Holiday Bazaar, an entire section of the event dedicated to specialty gifts.

Those who purchase a one-day pass have the opportunity to see a rotating roster of television chefs including The Chew’s Jason Roberts; actress Debi Mazur (of Entourage) and her husband Gabriele Corcos from The Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin; the Food Network’s Extreme Chef Terry French, all pictured below. Others include  cookbook author and James Beard 2012 Best Chef Southeast honoree, Atlanta’s Chef Hugh Acheson; and Grill Sergeant Brad Turner.

More personalities are conducting a variety of workshops over the weekend including Rocky Fino, author of Will Cook for Sex: A Guys Guide to Cooking; Kim O’Donnel, author of The Meat Lovers Meatless Celebrations; Marcia Friedman, author of Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life; and Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice: Inspired Indian recipes for the contemporary Kitchen.

Amidst the live discussions and demonstrations with chefs and the rest of the impressive list of participants will be a labyrinth of vendor booths in the Marketplace featuring samples and wares from more than 200 exhibitors. Local and international specialty foods and food-related products will be for sale throughout the weekend. 

Debuting this year will be the Grand Tasting Pavilion where attendees can sample favorites from a wide variety of DC area restaurants, chefs, caterers, food trucks and specialty manufacturers. Among them, Del Campo, 1789, Cedar, Bourbon Steak, Founding Farmers, The Hamilton, Thally, Fujimar and Hank’s Oyster Bar. The Pavilion will be open on Sunday, November 3, from 1-4 pm and the $63 ticket also includes complimentary Marketplace general admission.

General Admission tickets are $24.50 plus ticketing service charges, children ages 4-12 are $12.50 and children ages 4 and younger are free. General Admission tickets allow entrance to demonstrations, entertaining presentations and vendor booths on the exhibit hall floor. For a full listing of events and tickets, visit www.metrocookingdccom


Metro Cooking DC – Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Saturday November 2: 10 am – 6 pm   Sunday November 3: 10 am – 5 pm

General admission, $24.50 (+ processing fee); children 4-12, $12.50

Children 4 and under free

For information 703.543.1628


National Press Club's Fourth Estate Restaurant puts on a very special

cookbook dinner with Chef Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant

By Cary Pollak


On September 25th, Equinox Restaurant co-owners Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray teamed up with National Press Club Executive Chef Susan Delbert to host a much anticipated dinner featuring dishes from the Grays’ latest cookbook, The New Jewish Table.  The event had been sold out for over a month, and judging by the comments and frequent applause of the guests filling the NPC’s Fourth Estate Restaurant, it was a huge success.  After the dinner, Ellen Kassoff Gray exclaimed that it was “one of the best dinners we have ever done - and we have done close to 1000.”


Equinox Restaurant co-owners, Executive Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray


The evening began with a steady stream of hors d’oeurves being marched out from the kitchen.  Yukon Gold and sweet potato latkes (pancakes), Gruyere cheese puffs, falafel, eggplant caviar and smoked trout on crostini were paired with, a 2008 cabernet sauvignon – shiraz – merlot Meishar 41 from the Mediterranean coast of Israel.  This was the first of six wines provided by suppliers Mayer Jacobovitz and Agnes Goldberger of Israeli Wines Direct, and chosen to pair well with each course of the dinner. 


Fourth Estate Restaurant Manager Brent Gwathney greets arriving guests

with one of six Israeli wines offered during the evening


NPC member Cary Pollak, the organizer of the event, rose after the hors d’oeurves had been passed to introduce celebrity chef Todd Gray, whose many accolades include being a five time James Beard Award nominee, and being named Chef of the Year in 2011 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW).  Chef Gray regaled the audience with stories about the creation of The New Jewish Table cookbook, his romance and partnership with his wife, Ellen, and some of his projects, such as being the Culinary Director of Salamander Hotels and Resorts including their new resort in Middleburg, Virginia.  NPC Executive Chef Susan Delbert also addressed the crowd periodically during the evening, but much of her time was spent in the kitchen, doing the hard work that was necessary to make sure that the event lived up to its high expectations.


Executive chef Susan Delbert gives Fourth Estate Restaurant Staff last minute instructions


The first plated course was pumpkin risotto with sautéed wild mushrooms, an homage to the fact that the fall season is now upon us, and to the seasonal approach to cooking that is the hallmark of the Grays’ celebrated Equinox Restaurant and of the cookbook that inspired the feast of the evening.  This was followed by a salad of roasted heirloom beets, capers and almonds.  Next up was barbecued wild salmon with sweet corn, followed by pistachio-crusted loin of lamb with caramelized cauliflower and wilted spinach.  Apple strudel and vanilla ice cream ended the meal with appropriate old country feel and flavor. 



Roasted heirloom beet salads ready to be served; Pistachio-crusted loin of lamb

Between courses the Israeli Wines Direct team introduced the wine that had been chosen for the upcoming dish, with commentary and visual presentations on two screens provided by the Press Club.  Ellen Kassoff Gray, wife of Todd and previous winner of the RAMW award for Restaurant Manager of the Year, concluded the evening by addressing the crowd to thank them for coming and to praise the success of the event.


Photo credits: Cary Pollak; Donna Christenson,


"ROAD TRIP THROUGH GREECE” WINE DINNER on Monday, September 30, 2013 

        José Andrés and his team at the award-winning restaurant Zaytinya will host a “Zaytinya Road Trips 2013” dinner led by ThinkFoodGroup’s Wine Director Lucas Payá and Zaytinya’s Beverage Manager Daniella Senior.  

The evening will feature highlights of their most remarkable wine experiences from their recent travels through Greece, paired with a menu specially designed by Zaytinya Head Chef Michael Costa.

 $65 per person (excluding tax and gratuity)

       Zaytinya is located at 701 9th Street, NW, 20001. For additional information, or to book a reservation, please call (202) 638-0800 or visit

 The enticing menu is listed below, and scroll down for photos and more menu information about Zaytinya and their annual Grape Festival now through October 5th.





cured in Agouirido, borage flowers,

compressed cucumber



Grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, cauliflower,

served with Greek yogurt, sustainable caviar



sea urchin, olive oil, lemon, crispy bread

paired with

Domaine Tselepos Amalia Brut, Mantinia,

Greece NV





savory feta cheese pie, house-made phyllo,

heirloom lettuces, herbs

paired with

Roditis/Malagousia, Kir Yanni Petra,

Naoussa, Greece ’12





traditional rabbit stew with red wine and tomato



traditional spread of yellow split peas, olive oil and lemon



braised in red wine, peppercorns, bay leaves

paired with

Mavrotragano, Domaine Sigalas,

Santorini, Greece ’07





roasted on a bed of potatoes, lemon, greens

paired with

Xinomavro, Alpha Estate Old Vines,

Amyndeon, Greece ’06





traditional custard wrapped in phyllo, citrus sorbet

paired with

Malagousia, Gerovassiliou Late Harvest,

Thessaloniki, Greece ’05



Zaytinya Hosts its Third Annual Grape Festival in September

photographer & editor - Donna Christenson


Washington, D.C. (September 12, 2013) – It’s that time of year to celebrate the harvest season of the most iconic fruit, the grape. José Andrés and his team at award-winning mezze restaurant Zaytinya, led by Head Chef Michael Costa pictured below, commemorate this event with a two-week festival, which runs from September 22rd – October 5th. This is the third consecutive year that Zaytinya celebrates grapes, the most cherished of all fruits, through wine tasting events, dinners, a grape-inspired menu and a handcrafted specialty grape cocktail.


To kick off the festivities, on September 22rd, guests are invited to celebrate with an exceptional wine dinner crafted by Head Chef Michael Costa highlighting wines from the famed producer Ktima Pavlidis from the Drama region of northern GreeceThis dinner starts at 7:15 PM and is priced at $75 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). On Monday, September 30th, the “Zaytinya Road Trips 2013” dinner will be led by ThinkFoodGroup’s Wine Director Lucas Payá and Zaytinya’s Beverage Manager Daniella Senior, who will feature highlights of their most remarkable wine experiences from their recent travels through Greece.  This fun and casual family style dinner will start at 7:15PM and is priced at $65 per person (excluding tax and gratuity).


The Grape Festival provides a great opportunity to taste and learn about the diversity and complexity of talented Mediterranean winemakers through a series of complimentary wine tastings on Wednesday, September 25th (Lebanon) and Thursday the 26th (Turkey) and the following week on Wednesday, October 2nd (Greek) and Thursday the 3rd (distilled spirits from grapes) from 5:00 – 7:00PM.


Additionally delightful, a limited Agiorgitiko offering in magnum size, Skouras Megas Oenos, Peloponnese, Greece 2003, will be available by the glass for guests to experience throughout the festival. Cocktail enthusiasts can look forward to the distinct libation, There’s More Than One Way to Skinos a Grape, created by ThinkFoodGroup’s Cocktail Innovator Juan Coronado.   This is a delicious combination of Skinos, Verjus, Dolin Blanc, Fee Bros old-fashioned bitter, a lemon twist and garnished with frozen peeled grape. It is priced at $11.


To finalize the festivities, Zaytinya will host a Greek Harvest Patio Party on Saturday, October 5th from 12PM – 4PM. Priced at $10 per person, guests are invited to stomp on grapes, kick up their heels and dance to live music with a complimentary glass of wine or grape juice, and delectable snacks.


Zaytinya will feature the following special menu items during the two-week festival:


Grape Festival Specials



Border Spring Farm lamb shoulder braised in honey and grape vinegar

with almonds, dried plums and apricots    $12


Prawns Arak

Head-on shrimp sautéed with Arak, roasted grapes, red Fresno chiles and

aromatic herbs   $14

Lebanese-Style Preserved Labne

Served with raisin grape molasses spoonsweet   $8


Muscat Grape Granita

Orange flower scented yogurt espuma, candied orange, lemon verbena

Mezze Style $4, Full Portion $8




Part of José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, Zaytinya serves an extensive array of various mezze “little dishes” reflecting the rich regional diversity of classical and contemporary Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine.  Open seven days a week. Zaytinya is located at 701 9th St., NW, Washington, DC, in the heart of the Penn Quarter.  For additional information call 202.638.0800 or visit



Médoc Wines in the Bordeaux region of France Featured in Advanced Seminar and Wine Tasting 

by Donna Christenson


At an advanced seminar and wine tasting at The Capitol Wine School in Washington, D.C. September 4th, Wendy Narby taught wine professionals about the distinguishing characteristics of wines of the Médoc in the Bordeaux region of France.  British born Narby, who has spent the last 25 years in the French Food and Wine Industry, is a teacher at the Ecole du Vin and has been a wine and food consultant in Paris and Bordeaux.  Married to a local Château owner and negociant, Narby’s first-hand experience combined with her passion for the region made her presentation both informative and captivating.  

Bordeaux region is the most important wine producing region in France and in the world. Bordeaux has about 7,000 chateaux, with abut 1500 of those in 
Médoc.  Contrary to popular perception, cabernet sauvignon is not the dominant grape in the area, but is actually grown about equally with merlot, along with a small percentage of petit verdot and cabernet franc.  


Charity in Chocolate fundraising event returns to

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Friday September 6th

By Cary Pollak


After a temporary relocation in 2012 to the National Building Museum, one of our area’s most delightful and delicious benefit events returns to its previous home at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on September 6 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.  Charity in Chocolate features over 50 stations providing an abundant, well balanced buffet including candies, cakes and cookies, as well as an extensive array of savory offerings from some of our finest local chefs.  An open bar is another available amenity.  


 Executive Chef Susan Delbert of the Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club
 serves chicken satays with chocolate, coconut and peanut sauce at Charity in Chocolate in 2012.


As if sweets, savories and libations are not enough, the highlight of this unique soiree is a “chocolate fashion show” during which costumes designed by talented chefs are on parade.  The models are draped in beautiful creations made of edible ingredients such as chocolates and more.  The chefs, all of whom demonstrate great taste, might delight the audience with anything from gumdrop gowns, to licorice lapels, to bon bon bodices.  Even accessories such as purses, baskets and shoes might be made of items found more often in a kitchen than a closet.


Models backstage get ready for the runway in 2011.


The show is amusing as well as creative, and has been known to bring good natured “Snickers” from the audience.  At the 2012 edition of Charity and Chocolate, one model was dressed as Little Bo Peep with hundreds of macaroons affixed to the bottom half of her dress.  As she walked the runway and dropped a few cookies, the dog that came with her dutifully snapped them up, to the delight of the crowd.  The winning costume that year was a sweet and sexy rendition of the Queen of Hearts presented by pastry sous chef Shaun McCarty of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.


 2012 Chocolate Fashion Show winner, “The Queen of Hearts.”


Charity in Chocolate is an annual fundraising event for the Heart of America Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC that promotes literacy for children living in poverty throughout the country.  Since 1997, HOA has distributed 3.4 million books to local school libraries and reading spaces, making reading material accessible to more than one million children.  The goal of improving childhood literacy is accomplished through a network of staff, sponsors and an array of volunteers, who have contributed more than one million hours in local communities.


White chocolate brownies with honey chipotle frosting
and candied orange by chef Billy Klein of Café Saint-Ex.


A highlight of this year’s event is a raffle offering prizes such as dining experiences at excellent local restaurants and getaways to local, national and international destinations.  Raffle tickets are $20 and each will buy eight books for children in under-resourced schools and homes.  Because only 2,000 tickets are being sold, the chances of winning are quite good.  Another feature will be a special celebration of Italian culture and cuisine.  Accordingly, the Honorary Co-Chairpersons for the evening are His Excellency The Ambassador of Italy and Mrs. Claudio Bisogniero.  Other luminaries who are helping to make this great evening possible are Host Committee Chair Ken Harvey, President and CEO of JAKA Consulting Group, and Chef Chair Victor Albisu, Chef/Owner of Del Campo and Taco Bamba restaurants.


Charity in Chocolate promises to serve up a delectable evening for a worthy cause.  Individual tickets cost $110, tables of $10 go for $900 and VIP tickets are available for $250.  

See for more details.



Sunday’s Cosmopolitan Brunch at The Curious Grape

By Richard Sommerfeld & Donna Christenson


Tucked around the corner from Shirlington’s main eating thoroughfare is one of our favorite restaurants — The Curious Grape.  And now it is the latest entrant to the Sunday brunch scene, and will be a top contender on any list of “Best Brunches”.  (For more details about the stellar wine and food combinations on The Curious Grape dinner menu, scroll down to our previous article “Try To Find Something To Wine About!”.)  We LOVE The Curious Grape and think you will, too!


Executive Chef Eric McKamey’s menu is not your typical brunch menu either.  He stresses a fresh, seasonable table with excellent presentation.  Enjoy your Sunday brunch indoors or outside on the patio. 


The Curious Grape really is like a playground for wine and food lovers, just as their website says, and now they’ve brought that playful spirit into festive trios of imaginative brunch cocktails.  Starting with a sample flight of Bloody Mary’s especially crafted to accompany the international theme of the brunch menu, we tried the Italian Ciao Bella Maria, a Spanish Bloody Maria and a Chinese Beijing Mary.  As on the dinner menu, wines are available by the half glass as well as full glass or bottle, and are arranged by style (“Light, Crisp Whites” or “Medium-bodied Reds” for example) so you can pair each item with exactly the right wine in exactly the desired amount. 


We enjoyed the doughnuts with wild boar, hoisin sauce and cilantro that looked more like three sliders than breakfast pastries.  And don’t miss the cremini mushroom soup, a favorite we had tried before when it was on the dinner menu.  Other interesting starters include blintzes filled with a lovely fluffy ricotta, then seared in olive oil, thyme and caramelized honey.  Or there’s buffalo mozzarella, serrano ham and oven-dried pineapple …or perhaps Yukon Gold potato croquettes with black truffle crème fraiche to savor.


Just as the starters were intentionally not the typical brunch items one would find at other local restaurants or even some of the notable hotels downtown, the unusual selection of entrees will pique your curiosity as well as your taste buds.  You can literally eat your way around the world with an Austrian pancake soufflé or a Spanish breakfast potato and leek tortilla with crispy serrano ham or flat iron corned beef sweet potato hash with a poached egg and salsa verde.


Where else can you find a selection of mini cheese soufflés baked to order, or a cheese fondue for brunch?  And be sure to save room for their exquisite and unique desserts.  Consider a passion fruit crème brulee with coconut lemongrass ice cream, or perhaps a deep, dark chocolate secret paired with port-infused cherry ice cream.   


If you just want a cup of coffee and something from the bakery, you might order a mini pastry selection of muffins, scones, lemon poppy-seed bread and cinnamon buns.  One standout pastry is the coconut lavender muffin which is absolutely scrummy.  The Curious Grape also has a bakery case so you can grab and go with a cup of coffee or tea.  All that, and an excellent selection of wines, cheeses and other specialty items available to purchase. 


Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM at The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop, located in Shirlington Village at 2900 South Quincy Street, Arlington, VA 22206.  Call (703) 671-8700 or check out their website    Reservations are also available through

photos by Donna Christenson



La Bottega, a Hilltop Jewel in Tuscany

Restaurant Review by Rozanne Weissman




Traveling up and down a narrow, winding, twisting, dark country road that leads to the medieval fortified village of Volpaia, I couldn't wait to get to La Bottega, our restaurant destination in Tuscany, the mecca of wonderful Italian food. After having seen a "lucky" rainbow over the hills of Tuscany the day I arrived from Siena, I had great hopes for this dinner.

La Bottega di Volpaia, in recent reviews, is ranked #4 on trip of 23 restaurants in Radda in Chianti, Tuscany. The beautiful view from the outdoor dining terrace of the hilltop restaurant is mentioned almost as much as the food. 

A family-owned restaurant, La Bottega provides a sense of an Italian family through its warm atmosphere, Barucci family photos—including the dogs Ombra e Pallina—going back to the ‘40s, its brochure, and its poorly translated but charming online profile. 

Carla cooks and runs the restaurant, Mother Gina lends her considerable talents to making pasta and some desserts, Father Oriano tends to the vegetable garden and make salami, and little sister Paola runs the separate renovated wine bar—once a cattle shed where horses were given shelter and sheep, goats, and poultry occupied smaller rooms. In a play on the family name, the wine bar is appropriately named Bar-Ucci. 

Though not part of the Barucci family, even the young Romanian servers charm and flirt like Italians. 

The menu revolves around simplicity and tradition. The emphasis in their materials: Living simple moments in full consciousness. 

After finishing the fabulous first courses of homemade ravioli with sage and butter and tagliatelle with truffles, I asked to meet the maker

of the handmade pasta. Mother Gina was so delighted about my praise and request for a photo that she smiled warmly, opened her arms and hugged me, and then posed for the photo. Her warm smile and big hug reminded me of my own departed mother who also loved to cook and bake. 

Real Tuscan cuisine is “better than the best sex you’ve ever had,” The Washington Post travel section article quotes Antoinette “Toni” Mazzaglia, founder of the gastronomic excursion Taste Florence. I wouldn’t go that far. The pasta and desserts (I had a wonderful panna cotta), are the standouts at La Bottega di Volpaia. The chicken “cipollata” style was good, but, frankly, a veal entrée that was supposed to be veal roulade, but wasn't when the menu changed, left something to be desired on both taste and presentation.

And of course, there's the wine. I sat with a great view of the restaurant's wine cellar. No surprise that both the restaurant and wine bar favors “Chianti classico” wines of the region. It's traditionally aged in big oak barrels. There is also a selection of white and red wines that come from outside Chianti and different areas of Tuscany, but blend well with dishes on the menu. 

Paola Barucci even presents the wine as part of the "family." She says, "I know all the wine producers and their wine-making methods personally." Here is how she describes some of them:

  • CASTELLO DI BROLIO. Mr. Ferrini is the oenologist who makes a traditional wine, though a very round one, which always suits my customers’ taste.
  • PRUNETO. Riccardo is a lifelong friend, and a crazy vine-dresser, whose expert hands can both make a good product and respect Chianti typology.
  • QUERCIABELLA. Dales the agronomist follows the biodynamic method, which made me appreciate his product even more.
  • ANTICO BORGO DI SUGAME.  A Geonese in Chiantiland! A kind of wine I really like, made in one of the highest places in Chiantiland.
  • GIOIA. My friend Gioia is a great oenologist and she makes a woman’s wine: a great wine, as “only” women can do!
  • MONTEMAGGIO. Ilaria is the agronomist who runs her wine factory with the energy of a man. A great wine with intense flavors.
  • VAL DELLE CORTI. Roberto is a farmer and in his small wine factory he only produces Chianti and Chianti riserva.
  • VILLA SANT’ANNA. A women-run wine factory (and what women!). A great noble wine, with the typical fruity notes of this vine.
  • SAN DONATINO. Leo Ferré had once bought this wine factory, which is run today by his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law.
  • CASTELLO D’ALBOLA. My hill neighbors. They make traditional Chianti in their amazing estate.

Bar-Ucci, the totally separate wine bar with its own terrace and various rooms, also serves various types of salami, cheeses, La Panzanella, the popular bread salad, crostini and bruschetta, and ricciarelli an

d cantucci Italian biscuits. If you're in Tuscany, enjoy lunch or dinner with the Barucci family or wine tasting with their "extended family" of wines from the region.  

As you can see, DCdigest's Rozanne Weissman had a great time with the flirtatious waiters in Tuscany!



MetroCooking DC:  THE 2012 METROPOLITAN


By Cary Pollak

Do you like to cook?  Do you like to entertain, to see famous television chefs live on stage, to see almost nonstop cooking demonstrations from fabulous local chefs virtually for free?  Oh, almost forgot one.  Do you like food?  If you answered yes to any of the above, you surely should attend MetroCooking DC,  the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show coming to the DC Convention Center on November 3 and 4.  Exhibitors and guests come from all over the country to catch this grand production, so those of us within commuting distance of the convention center would be remiss to miss it.


Oh sure, you can go to Whole Foods or Dean and Deluca to pick out and purchase countless epicurean items that you may well enjoy once you get them home.  At MetroCooking DC, however, you can stop by hundreds of booths where representatives of gourmet goody producers are there to greet you, educate you and in many cases, feed you.  In addition to the aisles filled with exhibitors and cooking demos, the show offers tasting and entertaining workshops, book signings and even a Beer, Wine and Spirits pavilion.


The Tiny Kitchen, Inc., produces the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show  which has been an annual event in our area since 2006.  That longevity alone is a sign that they have struck the right chord with both the trade and the public. And you might notice that they've had to change their name a bit, not only because MetroCooking DC is growing larger, but the event now takes place annually in Houston and Dallas as well as DC. 


These folks know how to draw talent.  It’s not every day that you get to see Food Network and other television stars performing live.  Among them is Iron Chef Michael Symon, who will be a long way from television’s Kitchen Stadium when he graces the Celebrity Stage at the MCES.  Another visiting luminary is culinary expert and food writer Gail Simmons, who has been a judge on BRAVO’s Emmy winning series Top Chef since the show’s inception in 2006.  Chef Jeff Mauro won season seven of Food Network Star.  That would be a serious accomplishment for anyone, let alone this former comedian.  He now has his own show on that network, Sandwich King.  Speaking of culinary kings, another visiting celebrity will be world famous chef Jacques Pepin, who has published 25 cookbooks and hosted nine public television cooking series.  With him will be his daughter, Claudine, who has teamed up with her dad often on TV.


If your taste runs more to local fare, a cadre of fabulous chefs and cooking experts from the DC area will be performing one after another on the Food Lion Stage during the show.   My personal favorite within this group of James Beard Award winners and nominees is Francois Dionot, founder and director of L’Academie de Cuisine, widely recognized as one of the best culinary institutes in the country.  I took classes from Francois on a weekly basis for almost a year when L’Academie first opened its doors in 1976.  I thus can assure you that watching a demonstration by this world famous chef and instructor will, by itself, be worth more than the price of admission to the entire show. 


Francois will be in good company on the cooking stage.  Also appearing will be Scott Drewno, Executive Chef at The Source by Wolfgang Puck, which is widely recognized as one of the very best restaurants in the DC area.  Chef Drewno has plied his trade at a number of famous restaurants around the country, including stints as Executive Sous Chef at Spago in Las Vegas and as Executive Chef at Ruby Foo’s in New York City.  Other participating chefs include Guillermo Pernot, chef and part owner of the atmospheric Cuba Libre, Justine Bittner, Executive Chef of trendy Bar Pilar, and Victor Albisu, who led the kitchen at BLT Steak when it was named Power Spot of the Year in 2012, by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.  Don’t be surprised if Chef Albisu prepares innovative morsels that will be featured at Taco Bamba, his new venture that will open soon in Falls Church.


At a press preview, Food Network Star Chef Jeff Mauro chatted via Skype from New York about his show Sandwich King and about the delicious Cubano sandwich flown fresh to him from DC by Cuba Libre's Chef/Owner Guillermo Pernot.  The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show's founder Denise Medved (right) highlighted the celebrity chefs such as Giada De Laurentis  (pictured on screen) who will be featured at this year's show.      [photos/captions by Donna Christenson]

Regular ticket prices start at $24.50 for a one day general admission to the show, and can be ordered on line at  That ticket provides access to the exhibit floor, to the Food Lion cooking stage and to tasting and entertaining workshops.  Separate tickets can be purchased for the celebrity theater, celebrity book signings and VIP events.  See the Calendar of Events page for a special link for discounted tickets as low as $14.00.


Blue Crab Salsa, Coffee Creations in a Spray Can, and Cookies paired with Wine! 

Just a few of the fabulous  possibilities awaiting you at MetroCooking DC, the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show 

photo/essay by Donna Christenson

With so much to see and do at MetroCooking DC  (as described in Cary Pollak's preceding article), you can easily keep busy for two full days just learning from celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and sampling tasty treats from local chefs, too.   But plan to spend a lot of time discovering new products to enhance your culinary life at home.  Many of the featured vendors are local entrepreneurs who have created food items that are out of this world.  Most can be both sampled and purchased at the show.  

For example, Kaldi Olive Oil from Greece is made from rare Kolovi and Andramytiani olives grown and imported from their family's olive groves on the Greek island of Lesvos by two brothers who live in northern Virginia.  Kaldi Tomato Sauces are made from authentic family recipes dating back to 1895.  Recipes and more at   

Another innovative idea is called inventi, a spray can blend of five imported coffees that allows you to transform milk, water or other ingredients into exotic coffee creations, from iced coffees to milkshakes to martinis.  It also can be used to create dessert toppings, sorbet, chocolate mousse, Irish coffee ...or whatever your imagination dreams up!

And who can resist products like Toto's Blue Crab Salsa from Maryland, Wisteria Gardens Serrano Ginger Pepper Sauce  from Berkeley Springs,  West Virginia, Mango Bango Infusion Hot Sauce  made in Rockville, Maryland or the Smokey Mountain Special from Blue Ridge Jams

But wait, there's more!!! The wonderful German chocolatier  Lindt has come up with a delectable array of new chocolatey confections in varying shapes and sizes, with flavors like Strawberry Cheesecake or Caramel Brownie, all enveloped in chocolate.  Pure decadence!

Another new product we really enjoy is a line of savory cookies designed to pair well with different types of wine.  For example, Cookies & Corks, made by Cookie Zen in Falls Church, Virginia, suggests white cheddar rosemary with red wine, or perhaps espresso chocolate peanut butter cookies.  

Gator Ron's Zesty Sauces & Mixes has another compelling local story behind the scenes.  Connie Griffith, president and chief executive officer, features recipes created by her husband Ron, who later died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.   After promising him she would not give away his secret recipes, she started the company in 2011 and donates ten percent of the proceeds to ALS research.

Looking for something unique, as well as tasty as a snack with cocktails?  Goodness Gracie has yummy specialty items that will make your mouth water.  Choose sesame almond snacks or Buffalo Blue Cheese Pretzel Bites or perhaps a variety of sweet or savory choices in Gracie's Office Party  ...the hard part will be deciding!  

Our goal this weekend will be to discover and sample as many wonderful new specialty items as we possibly can, especially those made in our local area.  It's a daunting task, but somebody has to do it!!!  See you there! 

MetroCooking DC,  the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show at the DC Convention Center on November 3 and 4.  

See the Calendar of Events page for a special link for discounted tickets as low as $14.00.

Celebrate Day of the Dead at Penn Quarter’s Oyamel

By Richard Sommerfeld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        photos by Donna Christenson

The Day of the Dead is an ancient Mexican tradition of celebrating the dead and enticing the souls to linger with food, drink and festivities.  There is no better place to celebrate the Day of the Dead than José Andrés’ Oyamel at 7th and D Streets in Penn Quarter.  If you just can’t wait for Halloween, you can get into the swing of it immediately at Oyamel, which is known for more than fantastic guacamole, great wait staff and festive décor.

Chef Omar Rodriguez has prepared a special menu for this year’s festival including tamal mukbil, which is a classic Mayan tamal filled with rabbit confit, tomato and habanero

with grape and epazote pico de gallo.  Another tasty, albeit unusual, dish is the taco de mollejas de pollo, which consists of crispy chicken gizzards with a chicken liver pate, green olives, red onion, jalapeno and orange.

Head Bartender Joe Cleveland has also outdone himself with some enticing drinks for your soul.  Earlier this year the Oyamel team traveled to Oaxaca (Wahaca) to prepare for this year’s festival.  It was the use of mezcal from Oaxaca that caught my nose and then my palate when sampling the six drinks Joe specially developed for this year’s festivities.  Distilled from the fermented juice of the spiky-leaved agave plant, mezcal is a close relation of tequila.  Where the production of tequila has been industrialized to meet demand, mezcal is still largely crafted by small producers using traditional methods.

Good  mezcal is a unique and complex spirit, as I learned from Joe.  It’s smoky in a way that reminds me of Islay Scotch, with a grassy sweetness.  For about 400 years the distillation method has remained unchanged.  After roasting the sweet and smoky piñas of the agave plant, they are crushed with horse-powered stone mills, fermented in wooden tanks and double-distilled in small, wood-fired clay or copper stills.

Moving beyond the mezcal lesson, it was a challenge to taste all six of Oyamel’s special cocktails (Marigold, Casa Oaxaca Sour, the Zombie Apocalypse, Sacrifice, Oaxacan Chocolate-Pumpkin Margarita and the Liqueur de Atole Negro), but someone has to do it!  Sacrifice has house-infused turkey El Jimador Reposado, orange Curacao, lime juice and Mole Bitters.  For the more adventurous drinker, I would suggest you give the Liqueur de Atole Negro, which includes mescal and Oaxacan squid ink, a try.  It’s tasty and you get bragging rights at this weekend’s neighborhood Halloween party.

Oyamel's Head Bartender Joe Cleveland, Chef Omar Rodriguez and General Manager Michael Iglesias invite you to celebrate!

Oyamel’s Day of the Dead Celebration runs from October 22 through November 2.  If you’re looking for a foodtastic way to celebrate this festival with innovative cuisine and drink, then Oyamel is the place for you.


401 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC  20004

Reservations:  T:  202.628.1005, on the web at, or via


‘Cowboy’ Chef-Owner Luigi Diotaiuti of Al Tiramisu

Upholds Old Italian Tradition of Transumanza,

Driving Cows to Cooler, Higher, Greener Pastures


By Rozanne Weissman


Not only has Chef-Owner Luigi Diotaiuti burnished the Al Tiramisu brand as the most authentic Italian restaurant in Washington DC, but he also traveled to Italy to help his brother Antonio uphold the ancient Italian tradition of Transumanza, which was a way of life in Italy for some 3000 years that's in danger of dying.


Transumanza means "crossing the land." It's the nearly disappearing, twice yearly migration of cows and sheep from winter-appropriate lowlands to cooler, high-altitude, lush pastures and back again. It has the full support of the Italian government. Each cow has ID "papers" to make this journey—number, date of birth, and health information including vaccines.


It’s not exactly like the cattle drive in the popular American film “City Slickers,” starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance.  There are no Italian cowboys on horseback to herd the cattle—only men on foot both herding and shepherding hundreds of cows up and down hills, through pastures, gorges, valleys, refuges, glens of trees, rural villages and towns, and even down paved two-lane roads.


Even though he is fit and has participated in dozens of marathons on multiple continents, "Cowboy" Chef Luigi had his work cut out for him as he walked 120 kilometers, or 74 miles, with a crooked stick and helped herd 170 cattle, including little calves, for four long days starting from Tursi in the province of Matera, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, and ultimately through his birthplace on a farm near Lagonegro until he finally left the cattle to graze in summer pasturelands in Monte Sirino, a ski resort in winter.

Walking to the ancient rhythm of cowbells and a different time, Chef Luigi had no reception much of the way for his beloved iPhone, which documented the journey on Al Tiramisu's Facebook page through photos and La Transumanza 2012 photo album.


The trip is not surprising because Chef Luigi believes in upholding traditions and helping family and country—both Italy and the USA. Last year, he marked the joint 150th anniversary of Italy and the 15th anniversary of Al Tiramisu with cooking classes featuring not only the food and paired wines of the 20 regions of Italy but also the history, culture, and people.


And how do you top that this year other than herding cows?  Inspired by handsome actor and director George Clooney who has dined at the restaurant some 20 timesthree times with his parents—Chef Luigi debuted a four-course "Superstar Dinnerto mark the restaurant's 16th year in business.  It seems appropriately named because Superstar Clooneywith his vacation home, Villa Oleandra in Laglio, on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italycalls Italy his second home.

Proclaims Chef Luigi, "Now you, too, can dine like a Superstar with an Italian feast at Al Tiramisu."



Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.  Reservations: 202-467-4466. Valet parking seven nights a week 6-10 PM.

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Try To Find Something To Wine About!

By Donna Christenson with Richard Sommerfeld

You are going to LOVE The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop!  This new restaurant is exactly what we would have created if we had imagined the perfect experience pairing wine and food.  There is nothing we didn't like about it!

First, let me say that the food is wonderful and the wine list is excellent (more about both later).  But one of the things that is so special about this new restaurant is that they make it simple for you to optimize your food pairings by giving you a wonderful range of options so that you can choose the perfect wine to complement each dish.  Wines are offered in three ounce or six ounce pours, so you can select a different half glass of wine to go with each of several dishes you might want to try (and you'll definitely want to try as many different things as possible).  Or you might want to order a half glass of each of two different wines to pair with one dish.

But how do you know which wines might work well with your food choices? Beside each menu item is a recommendation, not of a specific wine but rather of the types of wine that would enhance the flavors of the dish.  For example, Chef Eric McKamey offered a perfectly-prepared dish of pan-roasted sea scallops with black rice, bok choy and plum wine beurre blanc which had a notation suggesting a light, medium or full-bodied white wine.  Another noteworthy creation by this talented chef was an exquisite cremini mushroom soup, very creamy in texture but actually made without cream using vegetable stock, topped with a balancing accent of preserved pickled mushrooms.  It was marvelous with either a full-bodied white or a medium-bodied red wine.  An unusually delicious preparation of pork belly & Serrano ham which we sampled along with rice fritters was all the more delectable when paired with the recommended medium-bodied red…we chose a velvety tempranillo, a 2010 Arrocal Ribero del Duero.  We’ll want to buy a case of that from The Curious Grape as soon as it is back in stock!  
But with so much variation from one wine to the next, even when they are made from the same grape, how do you know which wine is a "full-bodied white" or a “light-bodied red”? The Curious Grape makes that simple, too.  The wine list is grouped into the same categories, offering perhaps three or four examples of each type available by the glass, and even more by the bottle. Then, to make it even easier, the extremely knowledgeable owners and staff (many of whom are both) are happy to make specific suggestions and/or explain what it is about the elements in the recipe of the dish and the wine that match well or enhance each other.  And in our experience they were exactly right! 
To add to the flexibility as well as the fun, the menu includes a wide range of items that might be termed “small plates", though all the ones we tried offered nice-sized portions that gave excellent value for the price.  In addition to appetizers and salads, many of the entrées can be ordered in half portions.  Even the exquisite desserts are offered in manageable but very satisfying servings, with proportionately lower prices than at other restaurants of comparable quality.  The apple crisp topped with anise ice cream paired beautifully with the recommended moscato wine.  And where else but The Curious Grape can you get a cheese course with such an intriguing array of choices, both the cheeses and their accompaniments?  For that matter, where else does the focus on seasonal produce result in a menu including fiddlehead ferns?   
If, like me, you always have trouble deciding among all the intriguing possibilities, you might order an appetizer and a half portion of two different entrées, along with three different half glasses of wine; then you can mix and match, exploring various flavor combinations.  This makes for not only a wonderful meal, but also an opportunity to learn more about wine, food and your own taste combination preferences.  Unlike many restaurant wine lists, there is nothing hit or miss here; it’s clear that each and every selection was carefully chosen and the quality was consistently excellent.  Relax and enjoy yourself …you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices on this menu!
Complementing its range of affordable, excellent wines is a distinguished list of domestic and international beers that one rarely sees in our local restaurants or bars.  Many of
The Curious Grape’s beer selections could be found in Michael Jackson’s World Guide to Beer.  Tickle your taste buds with selections to accompany your meal that include Débutante Artisan Ale (6.4%) from the Stillwater Brewery in Baltimore which is a Saison-style ale from one of the American pioneers of Belgian-style brewing.  It is fresh with aromas of honeysuckle and lemon.  There are clean and smooth beers such as Weihenstephanen Hefe Weissbier (5.4%) and Traquair (7.2%) which is a dark and substantial Scotch ale.  Even if you are not a fan of beer or ale, you might want to try the Crispin cider, a tantalizing alternative even for an ardent wine-drinker.  The quality of the selections here far exceeds those you may have tried in local brew pubs.  We think the Traquair would be a nice accompaniment to the coffee and cacao-rubbed beef tenderloin with potato-fennel gratin, spinach and malbec bordelaise. Your taste buds will love you forever. 

For those of you who are bound to the wine pairing school of thought, think of ale as red wine and lager as white wine. Hoppy beers can also be used in place of a pairing that calls for an acidic wine. Though it honestly doesn’t matter, these tips might help you to convert your taste buds over to beer just for a little variety in life.
If any of this sounds complicated or too educational, blame it on the difficulty of finding the right words to describe why The Curious Grape is pure pleasure and delight!  From the moment you walk in the door, you will feel as if you have been welcomed into the home of your close friends … that is, if your close friends happen to be gourmet chefs, artful cheese mongers and wine connoisseurs!  The atmosphere is casual, comfortable and friendly, but not in an overly familiar way.  The feeling you get is that every person there really loves what they are doing and wants to share what they know about food and wine to make your experience the best it can be.

A few days after my first dinner at The Curious Grape I described it enthusiastically to a woman I had just met.  She grinned and told me that she goes there for breakfast every day and it just feels like home to her.  I predict that everyone who tries it will want to become a regular, too. 
Those of you who knew the award-winning Curious Grape before it evolved into its wonderful new sleek and sophisticated incarnation will be happy to learn that it still includes a wine shop offering an extensive array of over 300 international wines, as well as cheeses, pastries and other temptations.  In addition, the new space includes a private room for wine tastings and other events, so you’ll want to sign up for their mailing list to know what is scheduled.  

Sunday dinner at The Curious Grape is one of the best deals in town!  Dine on Sundays between 5 and 9 p.m.and you'll enjoy 30% off a great selection of wines by the glass.
The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop is located in Shirlington Village at 2900 South Quincy Street, Arlington, VA 22206.  Call (703) 671-8700 or check out their website 


You, Too, Can Dine Like ‘Superstar' at Al Tiramisu;

Media Followed George Clooney Everywhere in DC—

Except for Dinner at Al Tiramisu

By Rozanne Weissman

George Clooney, Chef Luigi of Al Tiramisu, and Clooney's longtime friend and work partner Grant Heslov

Washington, DC, May 2012—Responding to increased customer interest in Al Tiramisu's updated celebrity photo wall and web gallery and intense media focus on celebrities at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and pre-and post-parties, Chef-Owner Luigi Diotaiuti debuts a "Superstar Dinner" to mark the restaurant's 16th year in business.

For the first anniversary of Al Tiramisu, the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation's capital, Chef Luigi created a popular "Big Night" feast from the Italian film by the same name, and long-term patrons have been urging the chef to create other special dinners. 

"So," relates Chef Luigi, "I thought about customer questions, like: 'What did the Prime Minister of Italy eat?' 'What did various celebrities eat?' 'Can we have a similar dinner for special occasions?' and 'My girlfriend is such a fan of George Clooney. She would be so impressed if I proposed to her over a dinner he ate here.' "And, I realize everyone wants the opportunity to dine like a superstar," concludes the gregarious Italian chef who talks with his hands.

Actually, "Clooney-mania" was the impetus for increased customer questions which spurred the idea for the new dinner offering. Media went into overdrive with two spring visits to DC by handsome actor director George Clooney for the late April black-tie White House Correspondents' Association Dinner and multiple March commitments.  

Paparazzi and media covered his every March move—testifying before Congress on a humanitarian crisis, dining next to First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House official dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron, and getting handcuffed and arrested by the Secret Service for protesting at the Sudanese embassy. Covering his arrest, media even reported that notorious prankster Clooney identified himself as “Brad Pitt."

Clooney did give media the slip for dinner at Al Tiramisu, the cozy, joyful Dupont Circle establishment. Dinner for seven included his parents, journalist father Nick Clooney who got arrested with his son, mom Nina Clooney, and four others.

Having dined at Al Tiramisu about 20 times—three times with his parents—Clooney is ensured privacy from patrons though tables are close.  He leaves the food and wine selection to chef/owner Luigi Diotaiuti who describes the superstar as "fun, energetic, and real." The two men share a sense of playfulness and charm. Chef Luigi's guiding philosophy for Al Tiramisu: "I want people to have great food AND a great time."  

Proclaims Chef Luigi, "Now you, too, can dine like a Superstar at Al Tiramisu." That doesn't mean that you will have the exact same morsel-for-morsel meal as any single celebrity. It means that like them you put yourself in the talented hands of Chef Luigi to devise a menu for you based on the season and availability that day, including “insider” signature dishes which are not on the menu. Here is a sampling of what that might be:

Antipasti: Sampler of 4-5 seasonal Al Tiramisu signature appetizers Grilled Portobello mushroom, roasted stuffed pepper, Buffalo mozzarella. May also include Grilled baby octopus, breaded grilled calamari 
Le paste: Homemade Taglierine pasta, shaved fresh white truffles or Arborio rice Risotto with Porcini mushrooms
I secondi: Grilled Branzino Mediterranean Sea bass, extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice
Dolce: Tiramisu Classico (Additional dessert sampling depending on numbers of people)

Prix fixe menu per person PLUS tax and gratuity: food only $75; with paired Italian wines to match the food selections, $95—priced in case your earnings don't yet match that of a superstar.  A certified Sommelier, Chef Luigi could also recommend exceptional wines of rare vintage ordered by wine connoisseurs and superstars. Phone for "Superstar Dinner" reservations: 202-467-4466.

Clooney's March 15 visit to Al Tiramisu wrapped up the end of the restaurant's year-long dual anniversary celebrations for its 15th year and Italy's 150th year as a republic—with cooking classes from the 20 regions of Italy. How appropriate to mark these milestones since Clooney—with his vacation home, Villa Oleandra in Laglio, on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy—calls Italy his second home. 

Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.  Reservations: 202-467-4466. Valet parking seven nights a week 6-10 PM. 

      George Clooney with DCdigest's Donna Christenson


Where to Celebrate Mother’s Day in The Nation’s Capital
Washington D.C. (April 26, 2012) — To celebrate Mother’s Day, Washington area restaurants offer a variety of memorable dining options, perfect for treating Mom on her special day.  From American comfort food to authentic Indian cuisine, each restaurant will celebrate deserving mothers on Sunday, May 13th. 
At The Oval Room located at 800 Connecticut Ave, NW, 20006, Executive Chef Tony Conte will be showcasing spring flavors with a pre fixe three-course Mother’s Day menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. priced at $60 per person or $85 per person with wine pairings (tax and gratuity not included).  Guests will delight in flavorful and beautifully executed dishes such as Fragrant Steamed Salmon with cucumber, prosciutto, mint and pumpernickel; Hawaiian Sweet Shrimp with roasted garlic butter, pistachio, and lime; Red Beet Ravioli with brown butter, wine syrup and ricotta salata, as well as Pork Chop with licorice, fennel-herb salad and crushed potato.  For dessert, tempting options include Peanut Butter Bavarian with honey roasted peanut caramel; Carrot Cake with cream cheese ice cream, as well as Coconut Custard with lemon-lime sherbet and candied mint.  For additional information or to make reservations please call (202) 463-8700 or visit
Just across the street, The Bombay Club, located at 815 Connecticut Ave., NW, 20006, offers a decadent dining experience with a Mother’s Day brunch buffet featuring a special menu and live piano music.  From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the special Mother’s Day menu will be available for $35 per person or with unlimited Champagne for $45 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Entrée highlights include Manglorean Shrimp Curry with tomato, garlic and coriander; Kumb Corn Palak with baby corn, chitake, spinach, onion and garlic; chicken Korma with yogurt, onion, cashew, mace and cardamom, as well as Jeera Pulao with basmati rice, cumin and whole spices.  For reservations or additional information please call (202) 659-3727 or visit
701 Restaurant, located at 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 20004, invites guests to treat Mom to a special brunch complete with live jazz and ample outdoor seating overlooking the Navy Memorial fountains.  The Mother’s Day brunch will feature a delicious pre-fixe three-course menu served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., for $50 per person (not including tax or gratuity).  Featured brunch items include Vanilla French Toast with balsamic strawberries and lavender whipped cream; Burrata with a grape tomato and arugula omelet and breakfast potatoes and Strip Steak with eggs, smoked tomato sauce and breakfast potatoes.  For dinner, guests can choose from Salmon with forbidden rice, snap peas in a plum wine sauce; Shenandoah Lamb Loin with bourbon ribs, onion puree and crispy green beans, as well as Strip Steak with basil mashed potatoes and charred tomato relish.  Dessert offerings by Melanie Parker include Warm Strawberry-Almond Tart with rhubarb puree and strawberry-basil ice cream; Roulade of Red Velvet with buttermilk ice cream as well as the Chocolate Praline Bar with bittersweet chocolate sorbet and milk chocolate sauce.  Valet parking is available during brunch and dinner service for $8 per car.  For more information or to make reservations please call (202) 393-0701 or visit

For Mother's Day, Blue Duck Tavern, located on the corner of 24th and M Streets, NW, 20037, will offer its three-course, buffet-style holiday brunch, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Brunch begins with first course starters in the open kitchen, followed by choice of entrée and side dishes, and concludes with desserts in the pastry pantry.  Brunch is priced at $90 for adults and $42.50 (tax and gratuity not included) for children between ages six and twelve; those under six are complimentary.  Menu highlights include Prime Rib of Beef with horseradish and natural Jus; Wood Oven Roasted Cod with olive oil, crushed potatoes, fava beans and champagne sabayon; Scrambled Eggs with Rock Shrimp, roasted fingerling potatoes and caramelized Vidalia onions; Ricotta Cheesecake with brandied cherries; Buttermilk Panna Cotta with passion fruit tapioca, and Flourless Chocolate Fondant with bittersweet glaze.  For reservations please call (202) 419 6755 or visit 
Located at 4600 Waverly Ave., in Garrett Park, MD, 20896, Black Market Bistro will serve delectable modern American cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Dane Sewlall.  An a la carte brunch will be available from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 13th.  For starters, brunch-goers can sample the Black Market Salad with mixed greens topped with fresh oranges, toasted almonds and goat cheese and House-cured Salmon served with brioche toast points and dill crème friache.  Entrée selections will include Hardwood Grilled Skirt Steak and Scrambled Eggs served with roasted Cajun red bliss potatoes and a mixed green salad; Eggs Benedict with house-made angelbiscuit with grilled asparagus and a choice of house made Canadian bacon orhouse-cured salmon, as well as the Croque Monsieur with sourdough, French ham, sauce mornay, and gruyere cheese, grilled to golden brown and served with a mixed green salad.  Prices range from $2 to $14.  A kids menu will also be available for children 12 and under.  For more information or reservations, please call (301) 933-3000 or visit
Addie’s, located at 11120 Rockville Pike, in Rockville, MD, 20852, will be offering a seasonal a la carte Mother’s Day menu on Sunday, May 13th.  Brunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Prepared by Executive Chef Mallory Buford, menu highlights include New Orleans’ Style Beignets; Shrimp & Stone Ground Grits with sweet pepper-tomato butter sauce, herb grits and grilled Benton ham; Smoked Half Chicken served with a buttermilk biscuit, sausage gravy and braised collard greens as well as Eggs Ponchartrain, two poached eggs with Tasso ham, jumbo lump crab meat and roasted corn over an English muffin with stone ground grits and asparagus.  Entrée items range from $12 to $19.  For reservations or additional information please call (301) 881-0081 or visit
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace situated in the heart of 14th Street at 1612 14th Street, NW, 20009, is offering a New Orleans-inspired feast from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 13th.  Prepared by Executive Chef Danny Wells, the menu will feature the freshest, most sustainable seafood available worldwide.  Standouts include Stuffed Brioche “French Toast” with chocolate Frangelico ganache and candied hazelnuts; Fried Chicken Dinner with salt roasted potatoes, braised organic greens and creamy slaw; Wood Grilled Redfish with sage-native pecan butter and stone grits; Pontchartrain with two poached farm eggs, English muffin, blue crab, Tasso, crawfish and cayenne hollandaise, as well as Texas Gulf Shrimp Remoulade with shrimp salad, grilled romaine heart and brioche Texas toast.  For additional information please call (202) 986-8778 or visit
Black’s Bar & Kitchen, situated in the heart of downtown Bethesda at 7750 Woodmont Ave., in Bethesda, MD, 20814, will offer an unlimited brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Guests are encouraged to go back for seconds as there will be seven different food stations throughout the restaurant.  Menu highlights created by Executive Chef Quanta Robinson include Chesapeake Bay Blue Fish Rillette; House-made Brioche French Toast; PEI Mussels; Artisan Cheese and Charcuterie; Gulf Shrimp; Scrambled Organic Farm Eggs, as well as Herb Crusted Pineland Farms Prime Rib with natural jus, caramelized onions and horseradish cream. The unlimited brunch menu is priced at $33 per person (not including tax and gratuity); $12 for kids 12 and under.  A Champagne brunch option is also available for $45 per person, including unlimited pours throughout the meal.  Brunch will also be available a la carte for a light bite for those with smaller appetites, and prices range from $11 to $16 for featured dishes.  For reservations or additional information please call (301) 652-5525 or visit
For additional fresh seafood options, head over to BlackSalt FishMarket & Restaurant, located at 4883 MacArthur Boulevard, NW, 20007, for an a la carte Mother’s Day brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Guests can feast on fresh and sustainable seafood dishes prepared by newly appointed Executive Chef Thomas Leonard.  Highlights include Fried Bay Oyster Po’ Boy with field greens, BlackSalt bacon and chive aioli; Wood Grilled British Columbia Salmon with black eye peas, baby greens, and bacon vinaigrette, as well as Louisiana poached eggs with Blue shell crab, crawfish, tasso, and Cayenne Hollandaise.  Breakfast favorites such as English Scones with Devonshire Cream and House-made French Toast will also be available.  Prices range from $4 to $19.  For more information or reservations, please call (202) 342-9101 or
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located at 801 9th Street, Suite A, NW, 20001, will be showering Moms with flowers during brunch and dinner service this Mother’s Day.   Moms who dine at the restaurant that day will receive a flower along with a special gift card for $25 off the purchase of $100 or more.  Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot will be serving up flavorful highlights such as Empanada de Huevo: melted leeks, crispy bacon and poached egg empanada with watercress salad and Bloody Mary vinaigrette; Panqueques: two cornmeal pancakes and bacon served with Cuba Libre’s five year rum-molasses syrup and mango butter; Albondigas Camagüey: chino glazed beef, pork, and pine nut meatballs served with warm hot and sour Kennett Square mushrooms; Tortilla de Huevos a la Cubana: fluffy two egg omelet filled with sour orange marinated pork loin, Genoa salami, ham, provolone and Swiss cheese, as well asOne-Eyed Ropa Vieja Hash: classic Cuban shredded beef brisket stewed with tomatoes, bell peppers and red wine on a hash of Yukon gold potatoes, boniato, maduros and corn served with fried egg, Cuba Libre salsa and tropical chip.  Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.  For more information please call (202) 408-1600 or visit

The newly opened Italian trattoria La Forchetta, located at 3201 New Mexico Ave., Suite E, NW, 20016, is offering up a prix fixe Mother’s Day menu available from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, May 13th.  Priced at $30 per person (tax and gratuity not included, the three-course menu allows guests to choose an appetizer, entrée and desserts from Executive Chef Roberto Donna’s featured Mother’s day menu.  Entrée choices include Fettuccine alla Bolognese; Grille Salmon with sautéed broccoli di rabe or the Hanger Steak with salsa verde. For more information please call (202) 244-2233 or visit 
Ardeo+Bardeo, located at 3311 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 20008, in Cleveland Park will showcase a delicious three-course Mother’s Day brunch crafted by Executive Chef Nate Garyantes.  Highlights include Chilled Asparagus and Leek Soup with goat cheese mousse and pine nut praline; Rock Shrimp and Grits with brown butter emulsion; House-made Black Pepper Fettuccini with asparagus, pickled ramps, smoked ricotta and egg 63, as well as ‘Steak and Eggs’ with barrel cut ribeye, scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes.  Brunch is priced at $39 per person, or $49 for bottomless Champagne or mimosas, and will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  For more information, please call (202) 244-6750 or visit
Assaggi Mozzarella Bar, located at 4838 Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda, MD, 20814, is dishing up authentic Italian cuisine in an elegantly rustic restaurant for Mother’s Day.  An a la carte menu featuring a variety of specials prepared by Chef/Owner Domenico Cornacchia will be available.  Highlights include Vellutata di piselli con uovo soda e prosciutto croccante: Asparagus Soup with boiled egg yolk and sricpy prosciutto; Granchi soffici con burro, limone e mandorle: Local Soft Shell Crab with lemon butter sauce, spring vegetables and toasted almonds; Spaghettini con astaco del Maine in salsetta leggermente picante: Maine Lobster on Spaghetti in a lightly spiced tomato sauce “fradiavolo”, as well as Suprema d’anatra con salsa di cigliege, cipollini e carotine : Duck Breast with fresh cherry sauce, cipollini onions and carrots.  For dessert, guests can enjoy Torta rocesciata di pesche con gelato : Local Peach Tart Tatin with vanilla ice cream.  As a special treat, Moms who dine at the restaurant that day will receive a long stemmed rose to honor Mother’s Day.  For reservations or additional information please call (301) 951-1988 or visit 
At the sister restaurant, Assaggi Osteria, located at 6641 Old Dominion Drive in McLean, VA, 22101, Chef/Owner Domenico Cornacchia will offer a special a la carte menu with Italian highlights which include Cappesante su ragu di piselli e gallinacci: Seared Sea Scallops with spring peas and chantrelle mushroom ragu; Risotto con I gamberetti e porri selvatici: Risotto with wild ramps and Rock Shrimp; Sogliola del Dover in padella asparagi e spinaci: Sauteed Sover Sole with asparagus, Path Valley Farm spinach and lemon tarragon sauce as well as Costata di vitello al forno farcita al tartufo, patate novella e fundhi: Roasted Truffled Veal Chop with new potatoes and forest mushrooms.  As a special treat, Moms who dine at the restaurant that day will receive a long stemmed rose to honor Mother’s Day.  For reservations or additional information please call (703) 918-0080 or visit  
Situated in the heart of Shirlington at 2900 South Quincy Street in Arlington, VA, 22206, The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop offers an eclectic Mother’s Day menu of appetizers, small plates, entrées, and desserts incorporating or complementing the extensive wine and beer selection at the restaurant.  An a la carte menu featuring a variety of specials prepared by Executive Chef Eric McKamey will be available.  Highlights include Virginia Asparagus with Meyer Lemon vinaigrette, soft boiled egg and speck ham; Warm Baby Artichokes with spring garlic, mint, red chile and crispy bread crumbs; Lemongrass Shrimp with roasted peanuts, Thai basil, rice noodles, cucumber and tamarind vinaigrette as well as Pan-Roasted Sea Scallops with black rice, bok choy and plum wine beurre blanc.  The Curious Grape will be open from 5 PM to 9 PM on Sunday, May 13th.  For reservations or additional information please call (703) 671-8700 or visit 
Situated in the Southwest Waterfront at 1101 4th Street, SW, 20024, Station 4 is offering a feast featuring modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean twist this Mother’s Day.  Serving brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Station 4 will be offering a three-course, prix fixe brunch with bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Marys and Nectar & Champagne cocktails for $35 per person.  From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. a three-course dinner menu will be available for $38 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Executive Chef Orlando Amaro will invite guests to select from a variety of seasonal brunch items, which include Farm Fresh Omelette with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach and melted cheese, and the Classic Biscuits & Gravy, country Berkshire sausage gravy smothered on an open-faced biscuit served with two eggs any style and complemented with a sausage patty.  Dinner options include Grilled Fossil Farm Quail with sweet & sour cherries and wilted arugula; Smoked Salmon Tagliatelle Pasta with Alaskan salmon roe and cream reduction; Lobster Paella with saffron rice, peas, shallots and mussels, as well as Beef Tenderloin with poblano peppers-demi, braised morel mushrooms and potato foam.  To complete the meal, Chef Amaro will be serving up delicious dessert options including Mango Mousse, Tiramisu, or a Chocolate Ganache Cake.  Valet parking is available for $10 per car.  For reservations or additional information please call (202) 488-0987 or visit 
Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca located at 1100 New York Avenue, NW, is rolling out a feast of elegant Italian fare for a memorable occasion.  Serving brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Bibiana will be offering a three-course, pre-fixe brunch with a variety of options for $45 per person (tax and gratuity not included).  Executive Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Mother’s Day menu includes options such as Aranchini, rice fritters stuffed with pork ragu and provolone cheese; Pasta e Fagoli, cannaleini beans, mussels and small shell pasta; Agnello, slow roasted Boarder Springs Farm shoulder and leg with artichoke and cichercia bean stew, as well as Trota, seared Tasmanian Sea trout with glazed spring vegetables.  For a sweet ending, newly appointed Pastry Chef Jemil Gadea is serving desserts such as Fragola, warm strawberry confit, grappa scented mascarpone, almond crumble and malted milk gelato.  From 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. a regular a la carte menu will be available.  For more information please call (202) 216-9550 or visit

Complimentary glass of Boxwood Rosé 2011 Release
Saturday, March 31, 12:00-2:00 p.m.

707 6th Street NW
Washington, DC20001
(202) 289-3600 
On March 31, Boxwood Estate Winery of Middleburg, VA will release its Rosé 2011. Graffiato will be the first and only restaurant in the District of Columbia to carry the new vintage through April 7. Join us for a complimentary glass of Rosé from 12:00-2:00 p.m. and stay for lunch to enjoy several dishes Chef Isabella created to pair with the wine. 
Rosé will be available to all guests 21 and over at the first floor bar and in the main dining room. 
Tasting Notes:  Rose 2011 Blend:  
Merlot: 46%, 
Cabernet Franc: 35%, 
Malbec: 19%
Pale pink-orange color.  Aromas of fresh apricot ,strawberry, thyme, and star anise, leading to strawberry and savory flavors.  Extraordinary balance, freshness and length.



An Adams Morgan Bistro Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

By Cary Pollak and Donna Christenson


Napoleon Bonaparte once said that an army marches on its stomach.  If the Little Corporal were alive today, he might march his troops, in shifts, into the charming restaurant named after him, to show them French cuisine worth fighting for.  Judging by the size of the crowd that jammed in to help owner ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Zubair Popal celebrate five years in business last week,  this Bistro is here to stay and may be on its way to outlasting the 16 year Napoleonic era.  In addition to some special treats, the popular everyday menu of “mini plates” was available.  Salad Nicoise was served in a bowl rather than the traditional flat plate, making its components crowd into one another.  They were all there, however, and delicious. Tender greens and elegantly thin green beans were there, and the tuna was fresh and in the form of bite-sized chunks, pink on the inside and crisp with toasted spices on the outside.  Shrimp scampi ravioli featured garlicky chunks of shrimp inside tri-colored pasta pillows, all resting on a thick, bisque-like sauce.  Seared scallops were accompanied by a lovely reddish beurre blanc sauce.  The well seasoned white wine broth that came with the steamed mussels had us asking for extra bread to act as a sponge, and the fries that were served on the side were extra crispy on the outside while still soft on the inside just beyond the crunch.  Stuffed mushrooms were large and topped with a minced crab mixture that was tasty and piled high.  Like its namesake, the Napoleon Bistro and Lounge is relatively small in size, but deservedly large in stature!

Napoleon Bistro is the second of what will soon be a trio of very trendy restaurants owned by Popal.  The first, Café Bonaparte, opened in Georgetown in 2003 and gained fame for being frequented by Hollywood celebrities and such well-known guests as the Bush twins.  With the charm of a Parisian café, it is especially popular for very authentic crepes and other scrumptious delights, and for its “see and be seen” brunch.  Late summer is the projected opening date for the third location, overlooking the new waterfront park in Georgetown.  Along with Napoleon and Bonaparte, perhaps the as-yet-unnamed restaurant will bring Josephine to Washington, D.C. 

Owner Zubair Popal (left) with "Napoleon", celebrating the fifth anniversary of Napoleon Bistro in Adams Morgan.  




 Cultural Tourism DC’s Embassy Chef Challenge Had Something For Everyone

By Cary Pollak

Cultural Tourism DC is an organization that showcases the quality of life in the District Of Columbia by creating programs, and disseminating information intended to “increase awareness of local cultural institutions among residents and visitors.”  Its unique fund raising event, the Embassy Chef Challenge, brings together chefs who have earned the 

prized assignment of cooking at the embassies of their respective countries here in our nation’s capitol. The fourth annual installment of this distinctive affair was held recently at the Ronald Reagan building, and featured an upscale silent auction as well as a friendly competition among the cadre of chefs who learned their skills all over the globe.

Each year a panel of celebrity chefs and food critics bestows the prestigious Judge’s Choice Award to one of the contestants.
  This year’s winner was chef Viktor Merenyi of the Embassy of Hungary (pictured at left).  His “slow cooked beef” was roasted at low heat for an astonishing 20 hours, yielding hunks of meat that were tender as could be but still maintained a far more solid shape than would have resulted from a faster “slow” cooking.  Filling out the serving plates were small beads of pasta called “targonya” and decorative cubes of potato hollowed out and stuffed with a puree of cooked tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and mild Hungarian paprika.  

Chef Sondre Bruvik Ellingstad
from the Royal Norwegian Embassy (pictured center) won the Challenge Denmark award
 named after the country whose chef won top honors in last year’s Embassy Chef Challenge.  He prevailed by making the most out of a group of ingredients given to all the chefs in a separate competition similar to that seen on the Iron Chef television show.  A highlight of his table at the main event was a presentation of cauliflower puree topped with slices of Norwegian salmon and surprisingly crispy capers.  The crispy effect was thoughtfully achieved by deep frying the capers at an unusually low 100 degrees Celsius (about 212 Farenheit) so that they would maintain their crunch during the eight hours between set up time and serving time. 

Devin E. Johnson from the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas (pictured right), won the Peoples’ Choice award, voted on by guests at the event, for his Bahamian Seafood Duo.  This was a colorful layered salad including shrimp, conch, mango and avocado-cucumber puree.  Another crowd favorite was Chinese chef Sen Sun's minced shrimp and cod wrapped in a sesame seed studded egg roll skin.  The Chinese display featured an intricate sculpture made of butter, creating true art with an ingredient rarely used in Chinese cuisine.

To get a better idea of all that
Cultural Tourism DC does for our community, please go to their web site at  We think you will agree that this fine organization is worthy of your support throughout the year, and we can promise that the annual Embassy Chef Challenge is one of the most unique and creative fund raising events in which you can invest. 

photos by Donna Christenson


Embassy Chef Challenge

Join Cultural Tourism DC for the 4th Annual Embassy Chef Challenge: DC’s premier international culinary competition
Thursday, March 8
7:30 – 10 pm, VIP Reception 6:30 pm 
Co-hosted by Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center 
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004

VIP tickets are available for Friends of Cultural Tourism DC at the $250 level and Embassy Chef Challenge sponsors at the $5,000 level and above.

The Embassy Chef Challenge, held each spring, spotlights Washington DC’s international community in one unforgettable evening – satisfying far more than appetites. The Embassy Chef Challenge is Cultural Tourism DC’s annual fundraising benefit, featuring an international tastings, awards, entertainment, and a world-class silent auction.

See the video of the 2011 Embassy Chef Challenge 

and more details at


From The Plains of Virginia

By Richard Sommerfeld

One of the best discoveries at the Fancy Food Show, the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show and the International Wine & Food Festival was Martin’s Angus Beef, which is the supplier of that unforgettable steak you may have eaten at the Equinox, Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, the Hilton Hotel or Brabo’s in Alexandria.  Bill and Holly Martin are certainly passionate about their cattle and the beef they produce.  With a tenderness that melts in your mouth, exceptional marbling and amazing flavor  like nothing you have ever experienced from your local grocer, Martin’s will redefine how you shop for beef for your next picnic, dinner party, or family meal.

Martin’s Angus Beef produces quality natural beef that is free from antibiotics and hormones.  Their cattle lead a rather bucolic life out there in The

Plainsgrazing on top quality grains and Virginia grass.  Bill dry ages his beef for 25 to 30 days to add tenderness and 

flavor.  Over time, the dry aging process allows for the breakdown of the marbling to enhance flavor.  You won’t get this at your local grocer.   Bill and Holly ensure that they only supply good nutritional value and flavor that will truly excite your taste buds.

Remember those tasteless pot roasts your mother used to make?  Well, I took a Martin’s chuck roast and turned it into the best stracotto (pot roast) with porcini mushrooms I have ever made.  The meat came out so moist it fell apart when cut.  I added some flour to the gravy to thicken it up a bit.

Who doesn’t look to kick their hamburger up a notch?  I took some Martin’s ground beef and, on the recommendation of Bill, just cooked it up without cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers or any of the embellishments I might ordinarily use.  It was just a plain, ordinary hamburger.  But Bill was right!  From the first unadorned bite it was still fabulous!  Still, I couldn't resist kicking it up a notch and did so with the benefit of Fischer & Wieser’s Big Bold Red Soppin' Sauce.  Unbelievably delicious!!!

You don’t have to go to a fine restaurant to enjoy Martin’s Angus Beef.  You can find Bill and Holly Martin (pictured 
with Chef Jeff Sklaney of Vintage Fifty in Leesburg) with their Angus beef at local farm markets, selling for about the same price as you would pay for beef at your local grocer.  It's available all year round in the District of Columbia, Alexandria, Manassas, Bristow and The Plains as well as seasonally in other locations.   

All year round on Sunday mornings they are at the Palisades Farm Market, 48th Place NW @ MacArthur Blvd (next to BlackSalt Restaurant) Washington, D.C. and also in Old Town Manassas (Pavilion at the Train Station).  
You'll also get Martin's meat anytime at The Butcher’s Block: A Market by Robert Weidmaier, 1600 King Street, Alexandria, VA

Look for them at the spring and summer farmers markets Fridays at the McLean Farmer’s Market, 1659 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA .  Additional details about farmers’ markets, butchers and restaurants where you can taste the difference for yourself can be found on Martin’s website.   You can also order beef box selections at or call Bill and Holly at (540) 253-5264



The Clyde’s Group opens a spectacular live entertainment and 24 hour dining venue

by Cary Pollak


The Hamilton, located at 600 14th Street, NW, DC, in the building that once housed the upscale Garfinckel’s Department Store, is a bold and innovative establishment that represents a significant step forward in the ongoing revitalization of the District of Columbia’s commercial space.  The 500 seat restaurant area never closes, and even rotates its menu during a 24 hour cycle to present breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night offerings.  The subterranean performance room can accommodate 400 guests, who all can have a good view of the live entertainment being presented on stage.

The Hamilton is appropriately named after the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, in that it looks like the Clyde’s group broke the bank to create a beautiful space for visitors to enjoy day and night.  Dark woods and beautiful works of art abound in the restaurant level, while the performance area sports a sleek and modern nightclub look.  This blend of traditional and hip is embodied in the Hamilton’s logo, which is a portrait of the distinguished founding father, looking cool wearing a pair of shades.

We attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the establishment, which featured DC Mayor Vincent Gray (left) and several other city officials and councilmembers.  These local political leaders were rightfully proud of this opening, in part because the city contributed $4.4 million to the project, in the form of tax incentives and other benefits.  It was done as part of the Mayor’s “One City, One Hire” program, which is intended to create jobs within the District’s borders.  The Hamilton already has hired almost 400 employees, over half of whom are DC residents.

Doing the amount of business needed to keep the huge Hamilton going will be a challenge, but if any company knows how to draw in business, it is the Clyde’s Restaurant Group.  In fact, one of the new establishment’s closest competitors is another Clyde’s eatery, The Old Ebbitt Grill, which reportedly turns away hundreds of customers every day.  The overflow from the elegant Old Ebbitt rightfully will be directed to The Hamilton, which offers a similar dining experience from the same restaurant family.  In addition, there is little competition offering live entertainment in the neighborhood, and virtually no competition outside of Chinatown for very late night (let alone all night) dining.  Here at DCdigest, we are pulling for The Hamilton for all of the reasons cited above.

While The Hamilton is already going strong, the proprietors advise that “the final menu is still under construction.”  Early reviews of the food and service are a bit mixed, but we were impressed with the scrumptious breakfast buffet at the opening event.  The Clyde’s group has a serious commitment to quality food, including farm fresh produce and locally raised hormone-free beef.  In our opinion, you can bet the ranch that The Hamilton will settle into the kind of consistently excellent dining experience that keeps all of their other outlets busy as can be.  We plan to go back soon to be entertained and to try all that we can of the offerings on the menu, even if we have to pull an all-nighter to do it!

photos by Donna Christenson

Discounted tickets
International Wine & Food Festival 



DCdigest's Donna Christenson  notes: “The International Wine & Food Festival  is one of my favorite events of the year, bringing more than 500 wines together with foods from artisanal producers around the world and DC’s best restaurants.  Donna invites you to join her with discounted tickets for either or both days, Saturday and/or Sunday.  All guests at the Grand Tasting will receive an etched Washington, DC International Wine & Food Festival wine glass and have the opportunity to speak directly with winemakers while enjoying and learning about a wide variety of wines.  Discounted tickets are available for readers to purchase at the festival’s website  ...along with more details about The Grand Tasting and related events.    

Use discount code 
DCDG10 which takes 10% off the Grand Tasting ticket.    

Time  GRAND TASTING: 2 -6 PM Saturday and Sunday

Cost: $76.50 using above discount code DCDG10 from  (Regular price is $85, Price increase after Feb. 5 to $90.  Discount code DCDG10 takes 10% off either.)  Purchase tickets at 

 Location:  Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center offers a public parking garage (though a bit expensive). Follow Pennsylvania Avenue NW to 13½ Street and turn right to enter the parking garage. The Federal Triangle metro stop (orange/blue lines) is connected to the Ronald Reagan Building by a covered passageway. The Metro Center metro stop (red line) is two blocks away, and the Smithsonian metro stop (orange/blue lines) is within walking distance.  All guests will need to have a photo ID to enter the Ronald Reagan Building.  There is some metered street parking

In a very heated competition, first place in Thursday’s Sommelier Showdown went to Brent Kroll, Adour (left).  
Eli Benchimol, Chef Geoff's (center) placed second, and Theo Rutherford, The Coterie came in a close  third in a blind tasting to identify nine different wines.



Capitol City Brewing Shows a Lovely Dark Side

by JJ Rodriguez and Cary Pollak

In 1992, the Capitol City Brewing Company opened the first brew pub seen in the nation’s capitol since the days of Prohibition.  On December 20, 2011, the Washington, DC branch of that now venerable establishment broke new ground again, by hosting what was billed as a “one-of-a-kind tapping party” to roll out its special Oak Aged Fuel.   Such “parties” are relatively infrequent events, randomly scheduled when the brewers are particularly proud of one of their creations.

The dark and enticing Oak Aged Fuel is categorized as an Imperial Coffee Stout.  It is aged in a wooden bourbon barrel for four months, and is described by the management as having a full body with notes of bold coffee, and big oak and vanilla flavors.  We concurred, but also thought that the most distinguishing feature of this stout was the essence of whiskey that had leached from the barrel.

Another offering that we tried and enjoyed is the Snow Wit.  It is a Belgian style double white ale, made from 50% white
wheat malt with an addition of flaked oats to create a soft malt base. Two key ingredients are coriander and orange zest, which are flavors used in classic Belgian wheat beer.  This ale is served unfiltered, which accounts for its golden, opaque appearance.  If you would like to pour the Snow Wit and/or the Aged Fuel into your mug, hurry on down. 
Seasonal specialties such as these are always around, but don’t last forever.  The Fuel is particularly limited in quantity, and may not last much past the beginning of the new year.

Travis Tedrow (on right in photo), one of Capitol City’s in-house brewers, was on hand to talk about the beer and answer questions.  In addition to telling us about the night’s featured beers in loving detail, he also described Cap City’s “Core Four” beers: Capitol Kölsch, Pale Rider Ale, Amber Waves Ale and Prohibition Porter.  Travis and his colleagues keep innovating and experimenting, but these brews are their bread and butter.

During the evening, we also were treated to three dishes from the Starter Menu: Capital City Nachos, Grilled Chicken Quesadilla and the Capital City Wings.  These were very good versions of those classics, guaranteed to make you want a beer to wash them down and a sink to wash them off.  The Oak Aged Fuel is a rare treat, but both the DC and Shirlington locations of Cap City Brewing are crowded just about every night for a reason.  Good brew, good food and good times are always on tap.

The next Casks Tapping Party will be held at Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington Wednesday, January 18, 2012 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m   Details on on the Calendar page.

For more information on Capitol City Brewing Company, please visit: or on Facebook: and Twitter: @CapCityBrewers.


Ben & Jerry's Homemade Announces 'Get the Dough Out of Politics'

2012 Campaign at December 12 News Conference

By Rozanne Weissman

  Ben & Jerry's CEO Jostein Solheim (from left), Chairman of the Board Jeff Furman,
Cofounders Jerry Greenfield, and Ben Cohen (at podium).   

What do Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey have to do with Occupy Wall Street, the entire occupy movement across this country, and the corporate buying of US elected officials?

To explain, the top leadership of Ben & Jerry's Homemade — Cofounders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Chairman of the Board Jeff Furman, and Norwegian CEO Jostein Solheim, who hails from the parent company Unilever, a Dutch-British multinational consumer goods company — staged a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC December 12. The goal was both to further explain their support of the "Occupy Movement" as well as to announce their new 2012 campaign: "Get the Dough out of Politics."

After scooping ice cream and talking to the demonstrators at Occupy Wall Street, the executives at the $300 million global ice cream company in 34 countries, which is known for social responsibility, issued an early statement of support of the "Occupy Movement," noting that they share many of the same values of fairness, justice, doing what's right, and reducing economic inequality.

"Those are the values we at the company try to live by," explains Furman.  He notes that Ben & Jerry's, a wholly-owned Unilever subsidiary, has more autonomy than any other Unilever brand and is the only Unilever brand to have its own board and CEO. When the company was sold, the executives ensured that the social mission of the company would be continued in perpetuity.

"What does this have to do with ice cream?" we are asked.  "It has everything to do with it. The 99% are our key customers. They eat a lot more ice cream than the 1%," chuckles CEO Jostein Solheim, a 19 year veteran of Unilever. "We're issuing a call to action for other businesses to support the 99%. Small businesses with 20 or fewer employees are part of the 99%. The world needs dramatic change to address the challenges we are facing. Values-led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change."

While cofounders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield talked separately at the news conference, their collective remarks provide a picture of their thinking and of Ben & Jerry's upcoming "Get the Dough out of Politics" campaign:


  • Change the corporate role in politics. "We must get money out of politics. Corporations power the political system. They buy elected officials. Some government contracts aren't even bid. Government needs to run without the undue influence of the 1%."
  • Who runs the country?  "Our country is run by giant corporations. The system is rigged. It's not working. It's advantageous for the wealthy. The income of the top 1% is more than the income of the entire 99%. 1% owns 40% of America."
  • The middle-class. "The middle-class drives consumption. We are failing the middle and lower classes that have played by the rules and have nothing to show for it. Corporations have misguided self-interest. Getting more money into the hands of the 99% means they will buy more."
  • Some solutions.  "Level the playing field.  Establish a financial transaction tax.  Rescind corporate personhood. It's absurd. Corporations should not be considered people."

The corporate leaders noted that even if the occupy movement is evicted from current spaces, it will continue through social media, smart phones, and other channels which spread news quickly. Ben & Jerry's has 4 million Facebook fans. They noted that typically new movements are ridiculed until time passes and what they seek seems self-evident.

The news conference appropriately ended with servings of a selection of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I devoured Strawberry Cheesecake, a new flavor for me.





Paula Deen and Giada De Laurentis led

the roster of highly-regarded chefs and

television personalities who drew happy

throngs of foodies to the 

Cooking and Entertaining Show

photos by Donna Christenson


The Metropolitan Cooking Show had a smorgasbord of attractions, but the live demonstrations kept us coming back for more!

by Cary Pollak

In a previous article we promised you that the upcoming Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show would be well worth attending.  The show was held at the DC Convention Center November 4th and 5th, 2011, and on both days we had a great time and found it hard to make it to all the different events that were going on.  The nearly 400 vendors whose booths lined the convention center floor provided an opportunity for a highly entertaining walk up and down the aisles.  In addition, attendees periodically could take a seat in front of the Celebrity Stage to enjoy powerhouse performances by renowned television chefs Paula Deen, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentis.  The Beer, Wine and Spirits Pavilion, the Tasting and Entertaining Workshops and the Book Signing Pavilion were only some of the other draws that kept the crowds trying to figure out which way to turn.  The event was better organized than your average three ring circus, so perhaps a better analogy would be a six burner Vulcan stove with all gas jets lit up. 

If trying to decide where to go next wore you out, you could do as I did for most of the two days, and merely set up shop at the Bloom Cooking Stage to watch the almost nonstop array of local chefs and others doing terrific cooking demonstrations.  We are talking stars here.  Many of the demonstrators are the folks who put their restaurants, and our town, on the culinary map.  They had nothing to prove, but left their well equipped restaurant kitchens to show us what they could do with a couple of electric burners and a paucity of equipment.  Truthfully, not every one of the dozen or so performances was a masterpiece.  An ice cream making demo had dead time gaps that were so long that it seemed like it wasn't going to end until hell froze over.  It is equally truthful, however, to say that the overall quality of the presentations lived up to the expectations encouraged by the show's glittering web site.  The cooking tips alone were worth the price of admission to the entire show.

Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia, Bistro Bis), could have sent any one of several underlings that help to keep his restaurants among the most popular in town.  Like many others, however, he appeared personally and put on quite a show.  He prepared his version of fried chicken, which gave us a taste of why Vidalia has been so successful in presenting an elegant and upscale version of down home southern cooking.  He began by skillfully cutting up a whole chicken into ten serving pieces that each actually provided a generous hunk of meat.  One of his "secrets" was to brine the pieces before cooking - not in salt water but in a mixture based on sweet tea.  How southern is that!  He fried some of the chicken in a covered skillet and some in one that was uncovered, so that we could see the difference in the results.  The contrast could be described as extra crispy versus crispy enough but a tad more moist inside.
This was a master instructor at work, as well as a master chef.

Scott Drewno produces dishes worthy of headlines every day at The Source by Wolfgang Puck, which is in the same building as the spectacular Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C.  The restaurant aims to serve up a modern interpretation of Asian cuisine, and a number of dishes on the menu were inspired by the chef's two-and-a-half week trip to China and beyond.  Chef Drewno's swift hands went to work on preparing potsticker dumplings and lobster spring rolls, labor intensive morsels that sprang up quickly before our eyes.  He chose to use fresh ground pork belly in the dumplings because, as is known to chefs around the world, "fat equals flavor."  Sesame oil added a distinctive touch to the filling, but we were cautioned to remember that a little goes a long way.  Only moderate amounts of filling go into each dumpling so that they can hold their shape, but limiting yourself to eating a moderate number of them might take the discipline of a Zen master.

Peter Smith opened up PS 7's after building up an impressive background that included stints with Jeffrey Buben at both the Occidental and Vidalia restaurants.  His presentation of Teason Scallops was fabulous.  His work with the chef's knife was so dazzling that I forgot, for a while, what he was making.  The "tea" in "Teason" actually refers to an exotic blend of marigolds, apricots, cinnamon and more.  He advised us always to buy only dry pack scallops.  Otherwise you might wind up with a mollusk that has been bathing in a solution long enough to quadruple in size!

Venerated local cookbook author Joan Nathan prepared lovely versions of Moroccan Chicken and Cous Cous.  She shared her method of making preserved lemons, which was to slice them thinly and let them sit for one month in a closed jar with lemon juice and salt.  Renowned chef Michel Richard (Citronelle, Central and Michel by Michel Richard) modestly called his scrumptious dessert "soaked (but not soggy) sponge cake."  Genoise cake by any other name would taste as sweet, but the French born chef chose to use a moniker that was more familiar to his audience.  His final cooking tip was "don't cook; make reservations!"  

DCdigest's Rozanne Weissman tweeted live from the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show focusing on appearances in the Celebrity Theater by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Cheryl Najafi, Creative Catalyst & CEO, CherylStyle, and much more.  All of @PRlady097 tweets are on this link!/PRlady007 
The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show was filled with enticing exhibitors and attractions, but if you, like me, were there and found it hard to tear yourself away from the cooking demonstrations, you know that your time (and money) were very well spent.



No  “MRE’s” (Meals Ready to Eat) served at this event……………

 by JJ Rodriguez

On November 4 & 5, 2011,
more than 2500 military soldiers and spouses were invited to attend the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show at the Washington DC Convention Center.  They were welcomed by Jill Biden (left), wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and by Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. (right), who serves as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The guest chef for the hour was none other than the charismatic and entertaining Chef Guy Fieri (below right), who can be seen on the Food Network several times a week.  He is known for his top-rated show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, as well as the special series Tailgate Warriors.  In March of 2010, Guy made his first appearance as a game show host on the new NBC primetime series, Minute To Win It.  His demonstrations at the  Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show included dishes such as Mac Daddy Mac n Cheese, Stromboli & Marinara Sauce and S’more Pizza. 


For added excitement, various gift packages such as fine soaps and hot sauces were presented to soldiers in the crowd; which included “wounded warriors”.  Chef Guy autographed both a patriotic-themed apron for a soldier’s spouse and a cast iron skillet.

DCdigest’s Rozanne Weissman provided live tweeting throughout the event, available at  @PRlady097 and on this link!/PRlady007 

photos by JJ Rodriguez                     


Laconiko’s Infused Olive Oils

by Richard Sommerfeld


After the Fancy Food Show in July, I wrote “The Pure and Virginal…Olive Oil That Is” which featured three outstanding olive oil discoveries.  Well, I have since found a fourth amazing olive oil at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show that needs to be added to the list of “must try” olive oils.  It’s Laconiko Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  (For the other three olive oil recommendations, scroll down to see my original article below.)

For four generations, the Pierrakos family has been making its award winning olive oil from groves on the family estate in Laconia.  With 5,000 olive trees, the Perrakos family’s private olive estate is located near the sandy beaches of the Southern Peloponnese in Greece.  This unique location by the coast and surrounded by orange trees gives Laconiko’s extra virgin olive oil its unique and delicate flavor.

I sampled the range of Laconiko olive oils.  Its extra virgin olive oil, retailing for about $15 for a 250 ml (8.5 oz.) is terrific for dipping breads or drizzling over vegetables (sautéed or grilled).  The garlic infused extra virgin olive oil ($22 for a 350 ml. or 12 oz. bottle) really kicked up my lamp chops a notch or two when combined with a little rosemary.  Laconiko’s lemon infused olive oil ($22 for a 350 ml. or 12 oz. bottle) dresses up steamed asparagus or can be used when marinating chicken.
 In Greece, people commonly take containers to stores and refill them with olive oil.  Not only is it ecological to recycle the containers and cost-efficient to do so, but Laconiko’s “On Tap” program helps to preserve the quality of it extra virgin olive oil by protecting it from direct sunlight and oxygen, the two biggest enemies of olive oil.  When olive oil comes into contact with sunlight or oxygen, its oxidizes and the acidity level increases which then causes the oil to lose much of 


its nutritional value, not to mention shorten its shelf life..
 Using a fustisa—a stainless steel air-tight can—sunlight and oxygen are kept away from the olive oil.  You can take your bottles to retailers in the Washington metropolitan area and have them refilled.

 By using infused olive oils instead of spices and herbs, you can add truly wonderful flavor to vegetables and meats.  Infused oils make great bases for salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.  

Instead of giving that tired, old fruitcake this Christmas, why not give a gift box of five infused olive oils for $90?

 Laconiko’s outstanding infused olive oils are available at Arrowine in Arlington, Cork & Fork (DC, Bethesda & Gainesville), Unwined, The Vineyard Table, The Bottle Shop, and other unique retailers from Charlottesville to Baltimore.  For more information or to order online, visit their website at

photo by Donna Christenson




The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show, that is!

by Cary Pollak

This impressive event will be at Washington, DC's Walter E. Washington Convention Center this coming weekend (November 5 and 6), and we promise that those of you who attend will be "singing" its praises from the moment that you walk in.  As soon as you do, you will be able to feast your eyes on displays from about 400 specialty food exhibitors, ranging alphabetically from Agave Dream Ice Cream to Wildtree Herbs.  (FYI, agave nectar has been used as a sweetener for thousands of years, and recently has become quite popular among health conscious consumers.)

You could spend your two days well just by visiting the booths and learning about the wide array of products and services represented, but there is much more going on to compete for your attention.  The Celebrity Stage will be graced by nationally renowned luminaries including exuberant restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality Paula Deen.  Also there to spice up the proceeding will be her fellow Food Network stars Guy Fieri ("Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives") and Giada DeLaurentis ("Every Day Italian").  Unfortunately, Jacques Pepin has cancelled all appearances this week, as well as those of his daughter Claudine, because he is having hip replacement surgery.

The Bloom Cooking Stage will feature local culinary stars such as Michel Richard, whose restaurants, the bistro-style Central and the glorious upscale Citronelle, have helped to fuel the steadily ascending reputation of the DC area dining scene.  Also present will be fellow James Beard honorees and/or award winners Jeffrey Buben, who brought us Vidalia and Bistro Bis, Vikram Sunderam of Rasika and Peter Smith of 
PS 7's, to name just a few.

 Washingtonians got a taste of what a grand food and beverage event can be last summer, when the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade picked our town to host the internationally famous Summer Fancy Food Show, while its home at the Javits Center in New York City was undergoing renovation.  The fact that DC and its convention center have been chosen as the venue for another blockbuster food related event in 2011 is a testimonial to the importance that our area currently has in the eyes of culinary professionals everywhere.  

The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show has appeared in DC for several years in a row now, and with good reason.  We have shown in the past that we can support an event of this magnitude, and no doubt we will do so again.  At DCdigest, our only regret is that we have but two days to enjoy this special show.  

DCdigest's Rozanne Weissman will be live tweeting from the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show on Saturday, November 5, sessions from 9:30 am-1 pm.  Follow her live tweets @PRlady097  from the show.  She’ll be tweeting a private cooking demonstration at the National Beef Cook-off Stage by Mary Beth Albright, Food Network Star season 7 finalist; an appearance by Jer’s Chocolate founder Jerry Swain; then Guy Fieri in the Celebrity Theater, followed by a presentation by Cheryl Najafi, Creative Catalyst & CEO, CherylStyle.   Ultimately she'll cover the announcement of the national winner of the National Beef Cook-off!  DCdigest will re-post some of @PRlady097 tweets soon. All of her live tweets are on this link!/PRlady007 

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.  General admission is $24.50 in advance and $27 at the door.  For more information, including a list of and links to exhibitors, and details about demonstrations, tastings, workshops and book signings (some of which require separate tickets), go to the website: http://www.metrocooking,com 

Come join us and see what the fun is all about! 


Celebrating Julia Child

 by Donna Christenson

What could be more fitting to celebrate the 99th anniversary of Julia Child's birth than to have a fabulous dinner party?  That's just what the American Institute of Wine and Food did recently, at the charmingly French La Ferme restaurant in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  Founded 30 years ago in 1981 by Julia Child, wine maker Robert Mondavi and others, AIWF’s goal is to promote knowledge and enjoyment of great food and wine …and that’s exactly what they did that evening!     

To quote Julia, “Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.”  The evening’s festivities featured a tribute performance, a fun and witty lecture by “Julia”, the talented actress Mary Ann Jung, pictured above.  

AIFW President Carolyn Margolis, Jeanne Kersting Cohen and Don Cohen
enjoyed cocktails and conversation to start off the evening.

Rapt audience members included Paula Jacobson.

                                                                                                                                            photos by Donna Christenson

La ferme's chef and owner Alain Roussel prepared a simple, elegant menu in the Julia Child style featuring 
rainbow trout served with a sauce of white wine, shallots, mushrooms and  herbs.


Celebrity chef Cat Cora credits Julia Child as a mentor, influencing her style and encouraging her to pursue her dreams.  Below, Cora delivers the keynote address for the Fancy Food Show held in Washington, DC in July, 2011.  

The Summer Fancy Food Show is the largest marketplace for specialty foods and beverages in North America.

                                                                                                                        photo by JJ Rodriguez




September 12, 2011

Crab cake comparisons have been the subject of countless discussions and published articles in our area over the years. In this case "our area" means anywhere within a day's drive of the Chesapeake Bay, and probably well beyond that. Crab cake lovers will always argue about the relative merits of numerous restaurants and recipes. On Monday, September 12, however, there will be an opportunity to sample some fabulous crab cakes side by side, and to do a comparison in real time. 

The event is being put on by the National Capitol Area Chapter of the American Institute of Food and Wine. It will be held at Phillips seafood restaurant at 900 Water Street, SW in the District, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. The cost is $75 for nonmembers of AIFW and proceeds go to their educational programs, which fund culinary internships and scholarships. Crab cakes will be prepared by chefs from eight outstanding restaurants, including PassionFish, Bourbon Steak and Hank's Oyster Bar. 

The AIFW was founded by Julia Child, wine maker Robert Mondavi and others in 1981 to promote knowledge and enjoyment of great food and wine. It's membership includes enthusiasts who love the culinary arts as well as professionals who practice them. If the crab cake competition is sold out, don't worry. AIFW holds many events each year including an upcoming champagne brunch at the Bombay Club (September 25) and an evening with cookbook author Joan Nathan (October 4).  For more information contact Carolyn Margolis at 202-333-0421 or go to

--Cary Pollak



It is Restaurant Week, Aug 15 – 28 …a great time to try one of Washington, DC’s  many great restaurants at a better price than usual.

Over 200 restaurants are participating and offer comparable pricing:   $20.11 for a Three Course Lunch and $35.11 for a Three Course Dinner.  Check out the restaurant reviews on the DCdigest  Food and Wine page below or the website of your favorite place (or a new one you want to try) and make your reservations!



Fancy Food Show Exhibitors Make Record Donation to DC Central Kitchen
Specialty Foods from Around the World Help Feed Thousands

New York, N.Y. (Aug. 2, 2011) – The 57th Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., ended on a high note when exhibitors broke records by donating 153,000 pounds of specialty foods and beverages to area residents in need.

The food was the single largest food donation in the history of D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK), the Fancy Food Show’s local charity of choice. The items included artisanal cheese, olives, snacks, sausages, spices and other specialties from around the world. It was gathered by nearly 200 volunteers, including James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés, a longtime board member of DCCK.

“This was a wonderful way to end the show,” says Ann Daw, president of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc., the show’s owner. “The monumental food donation by our generous exhibitors is one of our proudest traditions.”

The Summer Fancy Food Show is the largest marketplace for specialty foods and beverages in North America. It was held July 10 – 12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Exhibitors from 80 countries and regions filled 318,000 square feet of exhibit space with 180,000 specialty food items, from hibiscus jam made in Senegal to hand-crafted salami from Salt Lake City. The show attracted 18,000 buyers from top names in retailing and restaurants worldwide to source new products to present to consumers in the year ahead.

DCCK deployed the donated food to area food banks, and to its own kitchens to use in the 6,000 meals it prepares every day. Some of the more unusual items, such as specialty olive oil and pickled vegetables, are being used in the organization’s Culinary Job Training Program.

“This is an amazing donation,” says Mike Curtin, chief executive of DCCK. “The caliber of food, and the largesse, is helping us further our mission in a significant way.” (Read more about DCCK in this Q&A with CEO Mike Curtin published in the July 2011 Specialty Food Magazine: Doing Right at DC Central Kitchen).

The Summer Fancy Food Show moved to Washington this year from its long-time home at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City due to on-going construction. It will be held again in Washington June 17 – 19, 2012, and is slated to return to New York in 2013. In New York, exhibitors have been donating food to City Harvest, a leading anti-hunger charity, for more than two decades.

The NASFT presents two Fancy Food Shows each year. The Winter Fancy Food Show will be held Jan. 15-17, 2012, at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Last January, exhibitors at the Winter Show donated food to Feed the Hungry.

About the NASFT
The NASFT is a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 to foster trade, commerce and interest in the specialty food industry. Today there are more than 2,900 members in the U.S. and abroad. The NASFT's website for consumers,, provides an insider's look at specialty foods and the companies, entrepreneurs and artisans behind them. For information on the NASFT, go to For information on the NASFT's Fancy Food Shows, go to

(posted 8/2/11 by Donna Christenson)

Rabbit opens in Clarendon Thursday, July 28 and
will be giving away free Red Velvet cupcakes from 4pm to 8pm


 Rabbit Brings Innovative, Seasonal Salads with Grilled-To-Order Proteins and Red Velvet Cupcakery Confections  

Arlington, Virginia, — Aaron Gordon, owner of the Red Velvet Cupcakery and Tangysweet frozen yogurt shops in Washington, DC, Reston, and Tucson, Arizona is pleased to debut the opening of his next project, Rabbit, located at 3035 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington, VA.  As an introduction to the neighborhood on opening day, Rabbit will welcome neighbors by serving complimentary Red Velvet cupcakes while supplies last and no purchase is necessary. The restaurant will open seven days a week from 11 AM to 11 PM, and serve inventive, thoughtfully prepared sandwiches and enticing salads served with grilled-to-order proteins. The recipes for Rabbit are the creation of Consulting Chef Katsuya Fukushima.

No stranger to the DC culinary scene, Katsuya Fukushima worked alongside José Andrés for fifteen years, becoming one of Andrés’ closest and most trusted collaborators.  Fukushima served as ThinkFoodGroup’s Executive Chef for Special Projects and prior to that, Head Chef of Café Atlántico.  He played instrumental roles in opening both the critically acclaimed minibar by josé andrés in Washington, DC, and the Bazaar by José Andrés in Los Angeles, Esquire magazine’s best new restaurant of the year for 2009.  Most recently, Fukushima served as Executive Chef of José Andrés Catering by Ridgewell’s, his final position before leaving the company.  

Rabbit strives to provide a straightforward menu with a selection of Simple Salads, Chef Crafted Salads, Sandwich Plates served with simple salads and Warm Dinner Plates that include made-to-order protein, simple salad, and house-made mashed potatoes.  All dishes are served with artisanal breads from a local bakery, which are baked fresh daily.  An assortment of freshly squeezed carrot juice and other seasonal juices will also be available at Rabbit including a boutique selection of wines by the glass and beer.  In everything, the emphasis is on fresh, organic and locally available products. 

Standout salads include the Beet Salad, made with fried breaded goat cheese croquettes, orange slices, arugula, pine nuts, pickled beet stems, fresh beets, mixed greens and a citrus vinaigrette; Seasonal Fruit & Prosciutto Salad, made with grilled peach halves (seasonal), sliced prosciutto, ricotta, arugula, toasted hazelnuts, honey drizzle, cracked black pepper and balsamic vinaigrette; Nicoise Salad, made with boiled potatoes, olives, haricots verts, egg, roasted tomato, seared tuna and a lemon vinaigrette, as well as the signature Rabbit Salad made with roasted carrots, shaved carrots, diced carrots, blanched snow peas, peas, mixed greens, pea sprouts, shredded mint leaves, carrot top pesto and topped with citrus dressing.  Prices range from $5.50 for Simple Salads to $10.50 for Chef Crafted Salads.

Handcrafted Sandwiches and Warm Dinner Plates will also be available. Tempting choices include Seared Tuna with roasted red pepper aioli; Vegetable Sandwich with green and red bell peppers, zucchini, tomato, romesco and pineapple; Grilled PB&J, as well as a rotating selection of grilled cheese sandwiches incorporating various artisanal cheeses.  All sandwich plates will include choice of Simple Salad.   Price for the Sandwich Plates and Warm Dinner Plates is $10.50. 

Additionally, twelve varieties of signature cupcakes from Red Velvet Cupcakery will also be available at the Clarendon restaurant.  Highlights include Devil’s Food, a rich chocolate buttermilk cake with Valrhona bittersweet chocolate ganache frosting garnished with a 24K gold leaf; Peanut Butter Cup, delicious chocolate buttermilk cake infused with chocolate chips and peanut butter topping and the Southern Belle, the shop’s best-selling and signature red velvet recipe topped with whipped cream cheese frosting.

Aaron Gordon, a D.C. area native, came up with the whimsical name for the new restaurant while talking with friends about shopping for salads.  “A friend of mine once asked me how long it had been since a good salad was thought of as ‘rabbit food,’” says Gordon.  “I liked the idea of turning this phrase of slight disdain on its head and decided that “Rabbit” would be the name for my newest venture.  To me, Rabbit incorporates many of the traits of the Slow Food moment…providing the highest quality ingredients, cooking them with finesse and care, and presenting them in a rich, relaxing environment. At Rabbit, our chefs will produce food in a timely manner, while presenting the exact opposite of fast food.”

The design firm StreetSense created the rabbit-inspired décor in the 2,000 square-foot space incorporating orange as the distinctive color.  The main finish palette includes slate tile, white surfaces and reclaimed woods.  The dining area is open with furniture that includes contemporary metals mixed with live edge woods and reclaimed woods.  The finish palette is also very natural and organic which is a reflection of the food served.  Rabbit can accommodate 50 guests and offers a communal-style table, which can seat up to 10.  Patio seating for 10 is also available during the spring and summer months, weather permitting.

Rabbit is located at 3035 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201.  For additional information please call (703) 243-5660 or visit  

(posted 7/28/11 by Donna Christenson)


'Fusion or Confusion?' Chefs Luigi Diotaiuti of DC’s Al Tiramisu and Mike Isabella of Graffiato,
Food Writers Discuss New Century for Italian Cooking in America at Fancy Food Show

By Rozanne Weissman

Washington, DC, July 12, 2011— There were no fisticuffs but there certainly was a difference of opinion at the Fancy Food Show panel, "Fusion or... Confusion? A new Century for Italian Cooking in America," featuring two leading DC chefs and two prominent food writers. 

The big question: Does getting creative and innovative with nonna’s traditional Italian recipes mean giving up the authenticity of ingredients in the kitchen?

Moderator Corby Kummer, one of the nation's top food writers, senior editor of The Atlantic, and recipient of three James Beard Journalism Awards, noted there are some who,  like respected restaurateur Tony May,  who say, "If you were not born and raised in Italy, how dare you!"

"That's not necessarily true anymore, but you do need a good education in Italy to be an Italian chef," countered John Mariani, also one of America's top food writers and author of "How Italian Food Conquered the World.  "A chef who has never set foot in Italy is at a disadvantage," he added.

Introduced as a "traditionalist who embraces the new," Italian-born Chef/owner Luigi Diotaiuti of Al Tiramisu, the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation's capital, emphasized, "Italian food is not just food or a commodity, it's part of a culture.  One day I will die," he added, "and I will still not know all of the Italian dishes and recipes I discover by going town by town."  

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italy and the 15th anniversary of Al Tiramisu, Diotaiuti has been teaching regional Italian cooking classes flavored with culture and history. Thus far, starting from the south to the north, he has covered Sicily (photos of- food and blog), Sardinia, and Puglia. The restaurant imports most of its food from Italy, and Chef Luigi said he can generally get anything he needs within 18-20 hours, including on Sundays.


On the other hand, acclaimed third-generation Italian-American Chef Mike Isabella of Bravo TV's "Top Chef" fame and runner-up on "Top Chef All-Stars" described his just recently opened restaurant Graffiato as "Italian inspired." He illustrated, "I grew up in New Jersey. I keep the products local and add my own touches. There are American influences on the menu like small plates so that two people can dine and try six or seven dishes together. "

Isabella noted he was most inspired by his Italian grandmother, as well as San Francisco Executive Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto Restaurant and Wine Bar who makes frequent appearances on the Food Network.  Corby asked Isabella whether he got all his tattoos after meeting Cosentino and what his grandmother would say if she saw the tattoos.  Isabella replied that he had the tattoos before and that "my grandmother would cry if she saw them."  

The panel, sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Trade Commission, was part of the Fancy Food Show at Washington, DC's Convention Center where Italy had the largest pavilion. Italy was among 80 countries at North America's largest specialty food and beverage marketplace which included 2400 exhibitors and 24,000 attendees.

Following the panel, Stacy Jolna spoke about the childhood obesity epidemic. He is the founder of Club EATalian 4Kids, which teaches kids healthy eating and cooking based on the authentic Mediterranean diet from Italy. The new program, with support from the Italian government, began in spring 2011 in Los Angeles.  

Similarly, Diotaiuti, in his engaging, entertaining style, has provided a hands-on cooking experience for third to fifth graders from nearby Hyde-Addison Elementary School’s Cooking Club. They cooked gnocchi (recipe and video) alongside Chef Luigi who closed Al Tiramisu for lunch to practice what he preaches:  teaching the importance of preparing good food using healthy, fresh ingredients—plus adding movement for health.  And then, at the table, they toasted the many chefs with lemonade.



For further information:  Rozanne Weissman, The author of this article writes film screening and food articles for DCdigest and also handles marketing communications for Al Tiramisu.



901 Restaurant & Bar

CUISINE Contemporary American

AMBIANCE Stylish, sophisticated, modernist design with an inviting level of lighting.  Sound level is conversational for groups of 2-4, 
but the acoustics may be an issue for larger groups, even in the three party rooms.

RECOMMENDED DISHES Duck quesadilla, Southern style crab cake sandwich, peppercorn lamb chops and the cheesecake, of course.

WINE LIST Varied, with some good choices from $27 to $65 per bottle.

PRICE PER PERSON $30 and under.

HOURS Lunch:  daily 11:00am to 5:00pm.  Dinner:  Monday–Thursday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm – 12:00am, Sunday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm

LOCATION Penn Quarter area at 901 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC  20001.  Walking distance of the DC Convention Center and 3 blocks from the Gallery Place Metro Station (Green, Yellow & Red Lines).


RESERVATIONS Phone 202.524.4433, Email or via OpenTable




America Eats Tavern


Opened July 4th


José Andrés, the James Beard Outstanding Chef of the Year,

and Restaurateur Rob Wilder's ThinkFoodGroup


Opened America Eats Tavern on July 4th to Celebrate

The National Archives Exhibit

What's Cooking Uncle Sam?



Restaurant Hours Beginning Tuesday, July 5th

Sunday - Thursday, 11:30am - 11:00pm

Friday & Saturday, 11:30am - midnight




America Eats Tavern

In the former Café Atlántico location

405 8th Street, NW


Metro:  Archives-Navy Mem'l-PennQuarter







Sponsor the EventBuy Tickets Sponsors-To-Date Finalists









Sunday June 26, 2011


Event Schedule

5:30 p.m. – Reception

A terrific start to an extraordinary evening with delicious passed hors d’oeuvres, delectable wines and beverages and live entertainment. You can feel the excitment in the air as the nominees arrive with good luck charms and acceptance speeches ready.

7:00 p.m. – Awards Ceremony

A lively, theatre-style presentation of the coveted crystal obelisks. As the winners are announced, explosions of jubliee can be seen and heard throughout the room.

8:00 p.m. – Dinner & Dancing

The grand ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park will be transformed with four international Food Pavilions featuring cuisines from Australia, Cuisine Solutions, Mexico and the Nordic Partners including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Speciality beverage pavilions sponsored by Republic National Distributing Co. will provide top-shelf drinks including the RAMMY Cocktails developed by the 2011 Mixology/Beverage nominees. Live entertainment during the dinner keeps the dancefloor as full as your belly!

Attire: Black Tie & Masks

Attendees are encouraged to wear masquerade masks to the event.

Sponsorship Packages
Platinum $20,000     Diamond $15,000        Friend of the Industry $10,000     Restaurateur (Members Only) $ 5,000   
Silver $ 5,000      Patron $ 3,500       Supporter $ 1,000

Individual Tickets
General Admission
$200 member
$300 non-member

57th Summer Fancy Food Show

is coming to Washington, DC …and that’s great news for food retailers and restaurateurs. 
by Donna Christenson

The three-day event, sponsored by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, will be held July 10 – 12 at the Walter E.Washington Convention Center.  

The largest marketplace for specialty foods and beverages in North America, the show features over 180,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more.  Some 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries will be represented, with an expected attendance of over 24,000 people.   With 320,000 square feet of exhibit space to see, be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

At a preview party featuring some of the local prize-winning products that will be marketed at the show, we sampled some of the delectable goodies in the photographs.  Though it was a tough decision, my personal favorite had to be the decadent offering from the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company.


Sticky Toffee Pudding from the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company 


Caprotto Casa Madaio and Cypress Grove Chevre Humboldt Fog cheeses & Puremiel Organic Honey 

Ken Seiter, National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Chief Marketing Director, and 
's Donna Christenson toast the four national winners whose products (pictured below) are from our local area.
                                                                                       food photos by Donna Christenson


DC digest - Donna's Choice:
  Two of my favorite events of the year take place back-to-back this week  ...ZooFari on Thursday and Toast of The Town on               Friday ...details below.  Lions and tigers and bears ...oh, my!    



Donna Christenson invites you to join her with discounted tickets just for  readers for a spectacular evening of wines, spirits, beer, music, and the best gourmet food the city has to offer.  Hosted by Wine Enthusiast, Toast of the Town D.C. brings more than 500 wines, spirits & beers together with thirty-five signature DC dishes from great restaurants like Bastille, Eatonville, Ping Pong Dim Sum and Taberna del Alabardero, all under one roof. It will be one of the most memorable events of the year celebrating all things food and wine.

This year a portion of the proceeds will be benefiting the National Building Museum's educational program and they'll have representation for Global Giving to allow attendees to give donations on-site for relief efforts in Japan.

Discounted tickets are available for my  readers to purchase at    The discount code for   readers is Early11 which takes $20 off of the VIP ticket and $10 off of the Grand Tasting ticket.   

Time:  VIP: 6-10 PM;  GRAND: 7-10 PM

 Cost: VIP  $149,  GRAND  $99  (using discount code Early11 for readers)

 Location:  National Building Museum, 401 F Street Northwest, Washington D.C., DC 20001,  (202) 272-2448 
                                                                         METRO: Gallery Pl-Chinatown Station 



 James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef José Andrés announces a new collaboration with the National

 Archives and the opening of a new restaurant America Eats Tavern
by Donna Christenson

Recently named Outstanding Chef at the James Beard Foundation Awards, the food world’s Oscars, José Andrés announces a new collaboration with the National Archives in support of the exhibit, What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet, opening June 10th, 2011.  José Andrés and partner Rob Wilder will transform their renowned Café Atlántico restaurant into America Eats Tavern with a menu and environment inspired by the exhibit and the rich history of American cooking.

This temporary American restaurant located just steps away from the National Archives building will open July 4th 2011 and operate for six months during the run of the exhibit.  Offering a new take on American classics, celebrating native ingredients and featuring some long forgotten dishes with recipes and stories collected through extensive research, the menu will range from burgoo to oysters Rockefeller.


Café Atlántico, D.C.’s beloved Nuevo Latino restaurant will end its run at 405 8th Street NW, on June 12, 2011. Originally created by ThinkFoodGroup partner Roberto Alvarez, Café Atlántico has had three different locations over the past 25 years and now José and ThinkFoodGroup look forward to finding the next home for Café Atlántico. Minibar by josé andrés will continue to operate its six-seat bar on the second floor of the new America Eats. During a brief break in June, the location’s décor will be transformed from Café Atlántico to America Eats under the direction of New York design firm SEED.  America Eats and minibar by josé andrés will reopen on July 4th. America Eats will be open daily for lunch and dinner. Minibar by josé andrés will continue to offer its innovative menu Tuesday through Saturday with two seatings per night, 6pm and 8:30pm. At the end of the exhibit What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? in January 2012, ThinkFoodGroup will begin preparations for the next phase of 405 8th Street, NW, and minibar by josé andrés.

# # # 


Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy and 15th anniversary of Al Tiramisu with a unique cooking class  
May 21, 11 am - 2 pm

Chef Luigi will cover the history, culture, people, and three courses of food and three paired wines of Sardinia. It's the 2nd of a series of popular cooking classes featuring the 20 regions of Italy from south to north. $75 all inclusive.  Limited space, so call early for reservations: 202-467-4466. 

A bonus:  Sardinia is one of the world's "blue zones" noted for longevity.  Some of the foods and wines of that region that we'll be enjoying have been touted for their longevity/cancer-fighting qualities by Dr. Oz and others as "super foods."


Al Tiramisu2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036


                                                                                                                                       photo by Donna Christenson    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Tiramisu, Most Authentic Italian Restaurant in Nation's Capital, Celebrates Italy’s 150th and its 15h Anniversaries

With Cooking Classes Featuring Each Region Starting with Sicily

by Rozanne Weissman 

Washington, DC, April 2011—Combining a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy as a United Republic and its own 15th anniversary, Al Tiramisu, the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation's capital, launches unique cooking classes covering all 20 regions of Italy this month.

“It’s like taking a trip throughout Italy without the cost of going abroad," smiles Al Tiramisu's chef/owner Luigi Diotaiuti who is known for his good cheer and authentic Italian cooking and wine mastery.  Attendees of Saturday classes will gain a real "flavor" of each region—its history, culture, inhabitants, and food and wine specialties—while cooking and eating three courses with wine pairings representing the area.

The first cooking class, Saturday, April 16, 11 AM-2 PM, focuses on Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean and the southernmost region of Italy. Succeeding classes will then move from the south up to the north of Italy. Cooking classes are $75 apiece including all food and wine. Reservations:  202-467-4466.

Cheerful and cozy, Al Tiramisu is like taking a trip to Italy without leaving Washington DC. The most distinctive food is imported from Italy—a large selection of whole fish such as Branzini, buffalo mozzarella, sardines, Parma ham, porcini mushrooms, octopus, white and black truffles. 

Chef Luigi's secret for remaining trim despite being surrounded by pasta and decadent desserts? Like a poster child for First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy eating and exercise "Let's Move" campaign, Diotaiuti not only jogs regularly but also runs marathons—25 full and half marathons to date. It's his goal to run marathons on every continent. He heads to the outback of Australia this summer and then to Africa.

The joint 150/15 year anniversary celebrations will culminate later in the year with a multicourse 15th anniversary feast with wine pairings. And, winners of a fall contest drawing will garner places at the feast.

Check the website and the Al Tiramisu Facebook page for additional cooking classes as they are added and updates on monthly events.

Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036  Reservations: 202-467-4466  Valet parking seven nights a week 6-10 PM.


Good news about Direct Wine Shipment in Maryland

From: Delegate William Frick []
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Subject: Direct Wine Shipment


Thank you for writing me during the 2011 Session to express your support for legislation to permit direct wine shipment to Maryland oenophiles. I am a strong advocate for the right of adults to purchase wines of their choice and have co-sponsored this legislation each of the last four sessions.

After years of opposition from industry lobbyists, the General Assembly has finally passed legislation to allow shipment of wine directly to consumers and is headed to the Governor's desk for signature. It is not perfect legislation as it is limited to wineries only and leaves out wine clubs and retailers. Nevertheless, the legislation which takes effect July 1st, represents real progress.

Thank you again for your loyal support for this consumer rights issue. Your advocacy over the years is very much appreciated.

Sincere regards,
Bill Frick


Al Tiramisu Celebrates 15th Anniversary Year as Most Authentic, Joyful Italian Restaurant 

in Nation's Capital — From Complimentary Prosecco to 'Multicourse Feast’

by Rozanne Weissman

Washington, DC, February 2011—Al Tiramisu, the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation's capital, launches a year-long 15th  anniversary celebration, starting with complimentary Prosecco (sparkling Italian wine) with dinner the week of March 3-10 and culminating later in the year with a multicourse 15th anniversary feast with wine pairings for winners of a contest drawing.

Reprising its roots, chef/owner Luigi Diotaiuti originally cooked up a celebratory first anniversary dinner from the Italian film "The Big Night” that was so popular he had to add another night.

"Al Tiramisu is my lifeit's who I am," smiles Chef Luigi whose delightful Italian accent and charming, playful style sets the restaurant’s tone. It's warm, cozy, and joyful. Witness the Jester logo, Al Tiramisu’s name (translation "cheer me up"), the “buona sera” greeting, and its cheerful, sunny yellow interior.  "I want people to have great food AND a great time. When people leave happy, I know that what I'm doing in life touches people," adds Diotaiuti. He has a huge scrapbook of handwritten notes from happy customers.

Al Tiramisu is like taking a trip to Italy without leaving Washington DC. The most distinctive food is imported from Italy—a large selection of whole fish such as Branzini, buffalo mozzarella, sardines, Parma ham, porcini mushrooms, octopus, white and black truffles.  Pasta is made on site. "Ragu is made as we did back home— we grind fine first cut meat. We focus on quality, not quantity," he emphasizes, "which we can do in a small space."

Surrounded by pasta and decadent desserts daily, how does Diotaiuti remain slim? Like a poster child for First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy eating and exercise "Let's Move" campaign, Diotaiuti not only jogs regularly but also runs marathons—10 full marathons and 14 half marathons to date. As part of his goal to run marathons on every continent, he ran in China, is heading to the outback of Australia this summer, and then Africa.

Diotaiuti also keeps growing by training in topnotch kitchens in Italy and Paris and perfecting family recipes. Chef Luigi is also a certified Sommelier from the Association of Italian Sommeliers. The restaurant offers 14 different Italian wines by the glass.

Celebrities and well-knowns have dined at Al Tiramisu.  "George Clooney—who is fun and real and also brought mom and dad—has probably come about 20 times," says the chef/owner. Others include Harrison Ford, Placido Domingo, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zita Jones, Demi Moore, Bill Cosby, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Steve Case, Wolf Blitzer, and Pelé. Magic Johnson and David Letterman also ordered carry out.

While many other restaurants unfortunately shuttered, Al Tiramisu has weathered tough challenges—the decline of business and tourist travel following 9/11, a lengthy economic downturn, plus two years of disruptive P Street construction in front of the restaurant. "Loyal customers simply came more often and told friends to ensure the restaurant's survival. We owe our success to our customers," says Diotaiuti.  

Expect to see combined celebrations of the 15th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Italy as a United Republic. "15/150—there's just a 'zero' difference between us," chuckles
Diotaiuti.  Check the website and Facebook for updates on monthly events.

Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.  Reservations: 202-467-4466. Valet parking seven nights a week 6-10 PM.



By Cary Pollak

A salute to eateries that have outlasted the competition


            Washington has become a city of fabulous restaurants. Restaurant Association President Lynne Breaux notes “the national and international coverage we’ve been getting, shows that metropolitan DC restaurants really rock!” Washington’s emergence as a culinary contender is not due to dazzling newcomers alone. While French aristocrats like Rive Gauche and San Souci have disappeared, some of their contemporaries continue to flourish. Three such survivors have contrasting formulas for success.

            The popular Old Ebbitt Grill (657 15th St., N.W., 202-347-4800) was so named in 1856. The original was eventually demolished, but Clyde’s Restaurant Group recreated it over two decades ago. The grand interior evokes the spirit of a Victorian saloon. Although well known for décor and drinks, serious commitment to food quality also contributes to its lasting success. The oyster bar is the best in town. These shellfish are tested extensively, and their elegant presentation in mixed varieties is a tasty tutorial. Burgers are ground fresh daily, and excellent parmesan crusted trout always features local fish.

            The more upscale Occidental (1475 Pa. Ave., N.W., 202-783-1475) opened in 1906 and for 65 years was the restaurant “Where Statesmen Dine.” It, too, was resurrected 20 years ago, by owners who crafted a classical ambiance. Photos of famous diners, like Buffalo Bill and Rockefeller, cover the walls. Chef Rodney Scruggs, who recently returned after a long absence, is doing excellent work. Crusty salt cod croquettes are delightful, and the veal ossobuco is picture perfect, until the tender meat falls apart when nudged by cutlery. This fall, Occidental will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and everyone is invited.

            La Chaumiere ( 2813 M St., N.W., 202-338-1784) has operated in Georgetown for 30 years, an extraordinary feat, especially in this competitive neighborhood. Affable owner Gerard Pain designed both the rustic décor and the menu of French comfort foods. Regulars come so often that they know each other almost as well as Monsieur Pain. Signature dishes are boudin blanc (mild white sausage), and quenelles (pike dumplings). They come as appetizers or entrees, and one is tempted to order them in both sizes at once. Perfectly formed dessert soufflés provide an ideal end to a lovely meal.

            Washington’s hot new restaurants deservedly get the buzz, but the great old-timers still get the business.



By Cary Pollak

Afternoon Teas at Some of Washington’s Most Venerated Lodging Destinations


            Indulging in the elegance of an afternoon tea is a delightful tradition, and what better time to partake than during the tradition-laden holiday season?  As for a lovely setting, some of the best are in the city’s most historic hotels.

            Afternoon tea is the upscale repast popularized by England’s upper classes.  High tea, despite the sound of it, is a hearty evening meal enjoyed by the common folk.  Why high?  That term describes the dining table, which was higher than the tea tables.  The afternoon tea tradition began in the mid 1800’s, when the Duchess of Bedford served guests in her private rooms, to bridge the gap between meals. 

            Tea at the ultra-historic Willard Hotel takes place in Peacock Alley.  The walkway’s grand beux-arts surroundings seem to immerse you in another era.  The menu differentiates between real teas and herbal blends – no ”herbal teas.”  This distinction is important for those who prefer tea for its healthful properties. 

            Dry teas are first presented in glass tubes, allowing you to see and smell the elixir you will soon enjoy.     The customary three tiered tray is generously laden with sandwiches, scones and pastries.  Crustless breads envelop smoked salmon, turkey or cucumber.  “Maryland” crab in phyllo, is a fitting diversion from the traditional to the regional.

            The Mayflower Hotel’s afternoon tea was discontinued after Prohibition, but reinstated in 1950.  In the beautiful Promenade Café, as at the Willard, a harpist plays.  The music emanates from an elevated alcove, making one wonder if the hotel has hired an angel with wings.  The impressive array of sandwiches and sweets packs a few surprises, such as a cucumber sandwich spread with a sun dried tomato mousse.  The scone specialty here is one studded with tasty black currents. 

            If ornate, spacious settings are not your cup of tea, try the elegant Henley Park Hotel.  In this Tudor style structure, patrons are served in an intimate eight sided room, which has as many seats as walls.  At holiday time a stately evergreen is set up, but the room is not large enough to accommodate both tea and tree, so guests are served elsewhere.  The food offerings for the “Royal Tea” (a play on words?), are not as generous as some, but include interesting multi-layered sandwiches, and wonderful sugar-crusted blueberry scones.  The inclusion of a glass of Kir Royal makes this selection a bargain at $25.

            The Jefferson, built in 1923, may be the city’s premier luxury boutique hotel.  Tea is served in a clubby environment with alcoves for those who like privacy.  GM Jonathan Heath, has been implementing changes, such as procuring creative serving pieces for the afternoon tea.         The menu includes an uncommon white tea, made from leaves that have simply been steamed and dried.  The beverage is properly pale yellow in color and light in taste.  Among the delicacies are raisin-filled “Jefferson scones,” served warm, just out of the oven. 

            Each of these hotels puts on an afternoon tea that pleasures all the senses in a beautifully historic setting.  Take a break during the holidays or any time, and be their guest, if only for a few hours. 



By Cary Pollak

A recognition of the many professionals who cook for causes


             Everyone knows what long hours go into running a restaurant.  Less well recognized is the astonishing amount of time and talent that our local chefs donate to area fundraisers. Restaurant participation is sure to attract crowds. Thus, survey results show that the average restaurant receives about 75 requests a year from community groups. An impressive 90% of these eateries reply favorably.
            No city boasts more responsive restauranteurs than our own. Last year's Dine for America benefit raised millions for Red Cross hurricane relief. 65 local restaurants participated, outnumbering counterparts in Philadelphia and L.A., and equaling New York. Washington's cooking elite swarm to events like National Zoo's Zoofari, Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, the Design Center's Capitol Cooks,  Humane Society's Sugar and Champagne, March of Dimes' Signature Chefs, and Food and Friends' Chef's Best. Attend them, and you'll never have felt so good about eating so well!
            Teatro Goldoni's Fabrizio Aielli (1909  K St., N.W., 202-955-5584) exemplifies the generosity of these culinary contributors.  He constantly assists numerous causes, from Heart Association to saving the tiger, and his web site invites even more to apply. His wife, Ingrid, was the Leukemia Society's Woman of the Year for fund raising prowess. Robert Weland of Poste (555 8th St., N.W., 202-783-6060), cares about local farmers, animal rights, and the staff that helped him earn a stellar reputation.  In addition to contributing to many local events, his annual Toast at Poste benefits juvenile diabetes research, because that affliction struck one of his servers.
            DC establishments recently recognized in the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Neighbor Awards include Lebanese Taverna (multiple locations, 703-841-1501), whose offerings were valued at well over $100,000 last year alone, and Chef Geoff's (13th & E Sts., N.W., 202464-4461), whose creative impulse took the form of "Yappy Hours" to benefit the Humane Society. So dine out often. Our continued support is what enables these goodhearted donors to keep contributing to the community.


A unique approach to dinner at the Inn at Little Washington

 by Cary Pollak

The “greeting” on the web site for the famous Inn at Little Washington starts with “[F]or some The Inn is a romantic fantasy world far removed from the harsh realities of modern day life.”  Our version of the fantasy began with being removed from Washington, DC by helicopter, headed for a fabulous dinner in an Elysian setting.

This memorable evening came courtesy of Rebecca Klemm, who had decided to make a generous donation to the Washington Performing Arts Society, by attending their gala and purchasing something spectacular to share with a few friends.  The helicopter outing was an auction item and her bidding strategy was simple: the sky’s the limit! 

WPAS gala proceeds fund young artists who sometimes grow up to perform at the galas.  One recent example is Wynton Marsalis.  The helicopter adventure was donated by Scott Kaprowicz, who happens to hold the record for the fastest helicopter trip around the world. 

Our trip was not made at record speeds, but was like a leisurely amble that allowed us to enjoy the lush topography of the Virginia Piedmont.  At helicopter height, trees, livestock and grand homes looked delightfully like miniatures in an elaborate model train display.  

Upon landing we were escorted to the Inn, where champagne and nibbles whetted our appetites in a graceful living room.  Our first treat at the dinner table was popcorn flecked with grated black truffles, and served in movie-house style cardboard boxes.  This mixture of whimsy and elegance was prominent throughout the evening.  

Also prominent were the creative accompaniments that appeared alongside the main offerings on the plates.  Examples were little cubes of ice wine jelly that adorned the hot and cold foie gras, and the sake-yuzu sorbet that was a counterpoint to the spicy tuna appetizer. The fricassee of lobster came with tiny brown morsels that were delicious but unrecognizable, until I turned them over and saw stems – “clam shell” mushrooms! 

The carpaccio of herb crusted lamb was so beautiful that I didn’t know whether to eat it or have it lacquered and framed.  Paper thin medallions of meat with black perimeters and red centers were fanned out in a display that looked like a peacock’s tail.  An adjacent thick stripe of green looked as if painted on with a brush.  It turned out to be pesto made dense by the infusion of brioche bits.  Small scoops of “Caesar salad ice cream” were melting enough to add pretty white stripes to the plate.  Happily, I chose to eat it. 

After dinner we got a private tour of the kitchen by chef-owner Patrick O’Connell.  It is an inviting mixture of high tech and hominess.  A portrait of the smiling chef with his departed Dalmatians hangs not far from a large, programmable oven that sits atop a counter.  It is a Vulcan, made in France to the Inn’s specifications, and when built, was the only one of its kind on earth. 

From our beautiful view on the flight down, to the top notch cuisine, ambiance and equipment that make the Inn so special, this was an evening that left us feeling on top of the world.



Bistro Bis

The modern, immaculate interior of Bistro Bis was created by the designers of those hip restaurants at the other end of the alphabet, Zola and Zatinya.  Its look and capitol hill location make power brokers love to visit.  The French accented Bis, along with the All American Vidalia, are chef Jeffrey Buben's upscale gifts to Washington.  At Bis, the Gateuax de Crabe appetizer actually combines favorites from Spain and Maryland.  Delicious crab cakes and piles of microscopically minced vegetables tread a bright puree of gazpacho.  Duck liver parfait features a slice of pate, plated (not layered) with duck confit, greens and apricot marmalade.  Lamb chops Nicoise are thick and cut from the loin.  They are accented by olives and tangy goat cheese polenta.  The haricot verts promised on the menu, however, were missing without mention.  Monkfish Crecy is doused with a carrot-coriander sauce that tastes of neither but is sublime nonetheless.  Lemon cake Provencale is dense, moistened (interestingly) with olive oil, and topped with a smooth warm meringue.  Fresh and pureed raspberries, and dots of lemon cream help to adorn the plate.  The white chocolate-espresso bombe bursts onto your taste buds, leaving them in shock and awe.  A rounded delicate mousse tops a dense fudge-like "truffle torte," while nearby, "chocolate silk" ice cream melts luxuriously onto a thin, lacey cookie.  Want a 10 course tasting menu?  You wouldn't be sorry (until later) if you made it all desserts.



What do you get when you cross a classically trained chef with a wife from North Carolina?  Jeffrey Buben's famous Vidalia, an upscale American restaurant with a Southern accent.  Crab cakes, offered as both appetizer and entree, are dense with meat and have just enough flavorful binder to keep them together.  Sugar and spice accompaniments come in the form of a sweet onion-cucumber slaw, and “old bay” potato chips.  The appetizer special of snapper ceviche, prime beef tartar and caviar is a fabulous display of raw talent.  Crustaceans that have never been frozen, and with heads still on, are featured in the deservedly popular shrimp and grits entree.  Crispy-skinned squab is served with chestnut puree, and tender ravioli, filled with celery root and apples.  The textures and flavors of the dish play together beautifully.  By this time, onions have appeared in a variety of ways, starting with the delicious onion marmalade that accompanies the bread basket.  It is thus all the more impressive that the signature lemon chess pie has flavor so intense that it easily stands up to the bold dishes that came before.  Equally distracting and delicious is the harvest apple dessert, which is a closed and rounded “hand pie” with ginger flavored cream anglaise.  It is plated with a shooter of applejack brandy masquerading as shot of beer in a miniature pilsner glass with froth on top.  If the way to your heart is through your stomach, Vidalia just might bring a tear to your eye.


Nina's Dandy

The menu on the cruise ship Nina's Dandy, consists entirely of time tested favorites that range in execution from decent to delightful. It is the overall dining experience, however, that makes the evening memorable. You are greeted with crackers, and soft cheddar cheese served in a plastic cup so flimsy that it keels over with each dip of the spreading knife. Don't abandon ship just yet, though, because the next offering is a small plate of fruits so pretty that you might grab your camera before your fork. Each course comes out at the speed of a jet ski, with all diners being served at roughly the same time. It is thus all the more impressive that the generous filet of salmon was fished out of the poacher while still underdone, exactly as ordered. The Cornish hen, however, was rather dry. Its wild morel sauce was rich and pungent, but filled with brown flecks, instead of recognizable pieces of mushroom. Still, as you float by the most beautiful sights in Washington, everything seems to taste just dandy. Desserts are from a good local bakery. Chocolate cake is dark and dense, and the excellent apple pie has large slices of fruit, well balanced between sweet and tart. Overall, the kitchen on Nina's Dandy does its part in ensuring that you will have a lovely time right here on our home town river.




Is It Time for an Oil Change in the Kitchen?


WHAT’S the best oil for everyday frying? Some markets where I shop offer more than a dozen oils, from argan and avocado to tea seed and walnut. I’d long figured that the choice is a matter of taste and price. I usually use canola oil because it’s neutral in flavor, a good source of omega-3s and inexpensive. Like soy oil, it costs about a dime a tablespoon, whereas extra-virgin olive oils can run well over a dollar.

Partisans of the olive maintain that a high-quality extra-virgin oil brings its special flavor and health benefits to foods cooked in it. More recipes now suggest it for frying and other high-heat techniques, not just for last-minute drizzling. But does it make enough difference that it’s worth a tenfold premium in price?

I investigated the flavor question by heating 15 oils — 4 olive and 11 seed oils — with nothing else in the pan, so I could taste what heat alone does to them. And I served some of them to trained oil judges.

We were surprised at how thoroughly heat obliterated the flavors in cooking oil until they all tasted more or less the same. Even prize-winning, and costly, extra-virgin olive oils lost much of what makes them special, though they retain their apparently healthful pungency. To get food with the green and fruity flavor of good olive oil, it seems more economical and effective to fry with an inexpensive refined oil and drizzle on a little fresh olive oil after cooking.

Many oils have little or no flavor to begin with, as they’ve been refined to remove almost everything except the oil molecules. This is true of most oils extracted from seeds, including canola and soy. Fresh out of the bottle, the nine refined seed oils I tested were almost odorless. Some seed oils, including peanut and sesame, are also sold in unrefined or partly refined form. These are usually darker and can carry the flavor of their sources. They’re also more sensitive to heat than refined oils. They start breaking down, developing unpleasant flavors and giving off smoke at lower temperatures. Heated in a frying pan, the two unrefined seed oils I tested began to smoke between 375 and 390 degrees, at the upper end of the frying range. The refined oils didn’t start smoking until 475 degrees or higher.

When heated to a moderate frying temperature of 350 degrees, only the unrefined sesame oil had a distinctive flavor. The other 10 seed oils tasted about the same, slightly nutty and, well, fried.

Unlike seed oils, olive oils are pressed from fresh fruits, so their flavors can vary tremendously. Of the four tested, one was an inexpensive “light” olive oil, made primarily of neutral refined oil, with very little aroma.

The other three were labeled “extra virgin,” a standard that in theory signifies an unrefined oil of good quality but in practice doesn’t signify much at all. The first two were a fruity Spanish oil and a spicy, pungent one from California. Both were international medal winners and priced accordingly, at a dollar or more a tablespoon. The third was a suspiciously inexpensive bottle from an upscale supermarket, a blend from several Mediterranean countries. It smelled stale and had a strong odor of fermented olives. These qualities should have disqualified it from extra virgin status because they indicate that the oil was made from damaged fruit.

But oil appeal is on the palate of the taster. According to a forthcoming study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, many California consumers actually like and expect these off flavors in olive oils, probably because they’re used to them and have had little or no experience of fresh, well-made oils.

The refined olive oil and two of three extra-virgin olive oils I tested began to smoke at a respectable 450 degrees. The inexpensive extra-virgin oil started to smell of rubber and plastic almost as soon as it became warm, and fumed at 350 degrees.

After I’d heated them, none of the olive oils had much olive flavor left. In fact, they didn’t taste much different from the seed oils.

To get a set of more expert second opinions, I took the olive oils to a meeting of the University of California’s olive oil research group. This panel of trained tasters evaluates oils from all over the world to provide guidance to California’s young olive-oil industry.

In a blind tasting of the four unheated olive oils, the six tasters easily distinguished the medal winners from the cheaper oils and found many interesting aroma notes in them, from tea and mint to green banana, stone fruit and cinnamon.

For the second blind tasting, I heated each oil to 350 degrees for five minutes. I also heated a sample of the Spanish oil more gently, to 300 degrees, to see whether it might retain more olive flavor.

The panelists said nothing as they swirled and sniffed the heated oils in their small tasting glasses, tinted blue to eliminate any consideration of color, then sipped, slurped and spat. The first spoken comment, immediately seconded by most of the panel members, was, “These oils all taste like popcorn.” In fact the panel ranked the heated light oil higher than the heated pricey California extra-virgin oil, whose pungency was no longer balanced by a spicy aroma and had become overbearing.

Even the defective supermarket oil had become much less offensive. This surprise led one panelist to recall that heating is part of the refining process that manufacturers use to deodorize raw oils. Cooking clearly also drives aromas out of the oil and into the air. That helps explain the harsh smell that filled our kitchen decades ago whenever my mother started to make spaghetti sauce. I hated that aroma, which came from the poor oil she must have used, but I loved her spaghetti sauce.

While it’s understandable that many people have learned to enjoy off flavors in oils, there’s a good reason to recognize staleness and rancidity for what they are and avoid them.

All cooking oils are fragile. Fresh oil begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s exposed to light, heat, oxygen or moisture, all of which can break intact oil molecules into fragments. One set of fragments is responsible for the hints of cardboard, paint and fish that we smell in stale, rancid oil.

It turns out that stale aromas, pleasant fried aromas and unpleasant scorched aromas all come from oil fragments called aldehydes that are more or less toxic to our cells, whether we eat them or inhale them during cooking. Frequent exposure to frying fumes has been found to damage the airways of both restaurant and home cooks. Fresh oils, and in particular fresh olive oils, generate the fewest toxic aldehydes.

So the choice of everyday frying oil should indeed be a matter of taste. Choose a cheap or expensive oil as you like. Fans of extra-virgin olive oil willingly pay more for its provenance and polyphenols as much as its aroma. But learn to taste the difference between good fresh oils and stale or funky ones. Buy small containers that you’ll use up in a few weeks, keep them dark and cool, and taste before you fry.


THE CURIOUS COOK  Published in The New York Times

There's still time today to see celebrity chefs Paula Deen, Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray, as well as cooking demonstrations by local chefs.   But our favorite part is trying all the great food and cooking products!

Look for some of our new favorites:

Feisty Mama - for sassy salsa (don't miss their So Very Pineapple Salsa!) and for drink & dip mixers.
Peri-Peri Good spiced peanuts - an unusual spice with an unusual story behind it
Le Grand pesto sauces and tapenades - all fresh, flavorful ingredients to quickly turn simple meals into something gourmet fabulous.  Clever                 packaging - squeezable, stay-fresh pouch with a twist-off cap
Pecan Jack's Snacks - for caribbean rum pralines and a range of decadently delightful pecan and chocolate concoctions.
Eco Gifts -handmade soaps that look good enough to eat, like beautiful slabs of fudge marvelous, exotic scent combinations.  Also perfumes,             lotion bars & wooden heirloom gifts ...all mindfully-made in Alexandria, Virginia
Leonardo & Roberto's Gourmet Blends - olive oils & vinegars in flavor combinations that will inspire your culinary creativity

Some are now in local stores, while others are available online.  Check back for more details later!
--Donna Christenson

Sunday, Nov 14, 2010  
Time Presenter Info
11:00am - 11:45am Nicholas Stefanelli Bibiana
12:00pm - 12:45pm Carla Hall / Dr. Patricia Davidson Alchemy by Carla Hall / Washington Hospital Center
1:00pm - 1:45pm Ramon Martinez Jaleo
2:00pm - 2:45pm Victor Albisu BLT Steak
3:00pm - 3:45pm Paul Stearman Marcel's


Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray plus DC chefs showcase their culinary skills

 Washington, DC (October 3, 2010) – On November 13 and 14, 2010, the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show will return to the Washington Convention Center for it’s fifth  year with special events featuring Food Network and Cooking Channel stars and DC-based chefs hosting cooking demonstrations.  The show takes place from 10 am to 7 pm, Saturday, November 13 and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday, November 14.

In addition to appearances by headliners Paula Deen, Bobby Flay and  Rachael Ray, the show will offer cooking demonstrations by award-winning local and national chefs, a food and wine pairing with Chef Carla Hall & the Wine Coach® Laurie Forster, Cocktails with Todd Thrasher, Savvy Holiday Entertaining with Tara Wilson, product sampling and sales from 300+ exhibitors, the Beef Check Off Tastings and Entertaining workshops, the Just for Kids cooking area, and a beer, wine and spirits tasting pavilion.  General admission tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on-site. Children ages 4 – 12 are $10 in advance and $13 on-site. Children 4 and under are free. General admission includes demonstrations and entertaining presentations on the exhibit floor. Additional tickets are required for the feature presentations in Celebrity Theater, the Food & Wine Pairing, Cocktails with Todd Thrasher, Savvy Holiday Entertaining with Tara Wilson, Just for Kids Interactive Cooking Area, and the Beer, Wine & Spirits Tasting Area.

 DC area chefs presenting culinary demonstrations include:

Chef Victor Albisu, BLT Steak

Chef Cathal Armstrong & Todd Thrasher, Restaurant Eve, Eammon’s, The Majestic

Chef Arthur Cavaliere, Central Michel Richard

Chef Scott Drewno, The Source by Wolfgang Puck

Chef Todd Gray, Equinox

Chef Carla Hall, Alchemy Caterers & Top Chef Season 5 Contestant

Chef Mike Isabella, Graffiato & Top Chef Season 6 Contestant

Chef Ramon Martinez, Jaleo

Chef Clayton Miller & Pastry Chef Chris Ford, Trummer’s On Main

Chef Patrice Olivon, L’Academie de Cuisine

Pastry Chef Travis Olson, 1789 Restaurant

Chef Paul Stearman, Marcel’s

Chef Nicholas Stefanelli, Bibiana


For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, please visit

Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show – Washington Convention Center

Saturday November 13 – 10 am – 7 pm - Sunday November 14 – 10 am – 5 pm

General admission, $20 advance; $25 on-site; children 4-12, $10 advance, $13 on-site

Children 4 and under free

ticket purchase 1.888.695.0888;  or for information 703.321.4890

posted 10/27/10 __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

First-ever "national wine" show comes to Washington

Premium content from Washington Business Journal - by Missy Frederick

Date: Thursday, October 28, 2010

With the plethora of wine shows, wineries, wine magazines and wine lovers in America, it would seem only intuitive that the U.S. would have its own national wine exhibition. Turns out it doesn’t, and Alex Papajohn is doing something about it.

Papajohn and his Richmond company, Variant Events, will host the National Wine Experience Nov. 20 at D.C.’s Newseum. Though the inaugural event will be a relatively small gathering of around 2,500 individuals, Papajohn’s goal is to transition it into a full-time expo next year at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which can accommodate a maximum of 42,000 people at once.

“I thought it was about time,” Papajohn said of his new event. “Every state has at least one winery, and with the rapidly growing industry and the quality level starting to get good, it made sense.”

Papajohn started planning the event about two years ago, looking at potential locations and regulatory issues. He is still hoping the D.C. Council passes a piece of legislation it introduced earlier this year which would allow wine to be purchased from the event and taken home. He says he is modelling the event after Vinitaly, a Verona-based event which draws more than 150,000 visitors to Italy each year.

About 100 wineries will be in attendance for this November’s event, including some well-known names such as Robert Mondavi’s California winery, the Biltmore Estate winery in North Carolina, and racecar driver Jeff Gordon’s Jeff Gordon Cellars. Twenty-five states will be represented.

Variant Events is investing more than $250,000 in the event. The 4-year old company is responsible for such events as the Virginia Wine Expo and the Monticello Wine Experience. The Virginia Wine Expo drew about 350 wineries as participants in its second year in February, with events spanning three days.

“We’re taking 100 percent of the financial risk on this,” he said. The event also is drawing corporate sponsors such as USA Today and will earn revenue through ticket sales.

America’s wine industry has been showing signs of maturity in recent years. The U.S. right now has approximately 7,400 wineries nationwide. Virginia has emerged as a leader in wine tourism, with more than 160 wineries. Maryland has 41.

This year’s event will be more focused on a consumer audience, while the larger event next year will appeal to both industry representatives and wine drinkers alike, he said. He also wants to strike up partnerships with D.C.’s embassies next year for related events surrounding the expo.

“I’m hoping it will become a major economic development opportunity for Washington,” he said.


 D.C.'s hottest new restaurant and rum bar Cuba Libre's owner and president of GuestCounts Hospitality Barry Gutin, chef John Damilio, marketing director Emily Jarmuth and general manager Amnon Pick

Cuba Libre offers a taste of Cuba most of us would otherwise never experience.  The newly-opened restaurant and bar boasts the best ever Mojitos ... and the secret is freshly-pressed sugar cane juice made on-site each day.


Restaurant Reviews


When it comes to choosing offerings from the wide array of asian cuisines, the menu at the downtown Cafe Asia gives you more ways to go than a Chinese checkers board. Never mind that the modern setting is uninspired, and in need of some fresh paint. Here, food is emperor, and will command your attention. Start with the sushi list. One of its stars is the "spider roll," featuring crispy deep fried soft shell crab, peeking out of a cone shaped seaweed wrapper. Indonesia is honored with a choice of meaty satays, accompanied by a good traditional peanut sauce, and marinated chunks of carrots, cucumbers and (watch out now) fiery jalapenos. "Ikan pepes" is a delightful tumeric infused trout filet, that waits inside of a banana leaf. Once exposed, the entree is heralded by an intoxicating cloud of basil and lemon grass, two hallmarks of southeast asian cooking. "Gway tio" is a combination of rice noodles, Chinese roast pork, and mussels. One taste of its complex brown sauce makes clear that the "sweet soy sauce" mentioned on the menu is not the only potion in the pot. The chef confirms that both mushroom soy and oyster sauce have provided a savory counter point. Long may yin and yang live in harmony! The fried banana drenched in honey, is a clumsy dessert. Try ending the meal instead, with the refreshing green tea ice cream.  --Cary Pollak


Long time Washingtonians know two things about A.V. Ristorante Italiano:

it has always been the subject of highly mixed reviews, and it has been a successful family run restaurant for decades. The theme of contrasting impressions is amplified on warm nights when dinner is served both in the dark, traditional dining room, and on the patio in this changing neighborhood near the posh convention center. You would do well to start with the antipasto, the quality of which is unambiguous. Lean and supple slices of prosciutto are draped over sections of melon. Paper thin rounds of salami and wedges of robust imported provolone help to complete the array of shapes and colors. Each leaf of the whole stuffed artichoke appetizer carries a bread crumb and olive stuffing - great fun for those who like to play with their food. Classic saltimbocca appears as pallid puddles of melted mozarella, served ungarnished on a plain white plate. Every bite, however, explodes like a culinary paint ball, as veal, anchovies, prosciutto and cheese vie for attention. By way of visual contrast, the platter of seafood over linguini is an impressive mound of squid and shellfish, featuring plump mussels and two shrimp as large as any that have ever posed atop an entree. Cannoli, spumoni and other sweets are as one would expect at a good southern Italian restaurant. Light and moist tiramisu is the only dessert made on the premises, however, and it shouldn't be missed.   --Cary Pollak


Donna's Favorite Holiday Punch

It can be difficult to keep a hot punch at the right temperature for drinking.  Either it is too hot, or it cools off very quickly in your cup, and then is not so appealing.  This one is served at room temperature.

one bottle of zinfandel (or other red wine ...cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot)
one bottle of ruby port
one cup of Grand Marnier (or other orange liquor)

Mix in punch bowl or large pitcher.  Makes approx. 20 servings  Be careful's so delicious but deceptively potent!


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