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Weekly Roundup: Easter (or is it Spring?) is in the Air

Anthony Chavez's Easter Egg. Yes, it looks like an egg. No, that's actually a cream cheese mousse. Yes, I was also fooled.

So, I know that Easter is a predominately Christian holiday, but according to the Food Timeline, a lot of secular holiday traditions (*ahem* Easter eggs, Easter bunnies) have their roots in pagan celebrations of springtime. And, really, given the beautiful weather this weekend, I’m really digging the idea of celebrating the spring.

Which is why I found Anthony Chavez’s Easter dessert at 2941 particularly fun. It’s a cream cheese mousse with a mango couliss and carrot cake ice cream. First of all, it’s incredibly clever – taking the elements of carrot cake and turning them on their head. And secondly, the mousse is in a shape of an Easter Egg, which definitely appeals to my Easter-bunny-loving, secular side.

But I know you’re not here to hear about why I love Easter eggs. So here’s the foodie blog news from the past week:

  • Um, Macheesmo is starting a restaurant!!! How frickin’ cool is that? Of course, that means he’s moving to Wisconsin. Less cool. But overall – really frickin’ cool.
  • Definitely agreed with Tammy Tuck and Bruce Falconer’s shout out to Pizzaria Paradiso on Young and Hungry. Paradiso’s great beer selection was overlooked in the Best Craft Beer Selection and Best Draft Beer Selection categories in the City Paper’s “Best of DC” contest.
  • Thank God I’m not the only one who hasn’t done my taxes. Florida Girl in DC hasn’t thought about them either, but she already wants some tax relief, BLT steak style. Yes, on April 15th BLT Steak will be taking half off their alcohol – wine, cocktails, bottles, wines by the glass. And that’s all day. All day. Um, could we make April 16 a national holiday, please?
  • Sometimes, I wish I were Jewish. The history, the community, the rituals, the food – it’s such a rich faith. But as I’m not, you’ll have to read about Becca’s memories of the food and celebration at her family’ Passover seders. It’s a lovely post.
  • Tim Carman’s write up of food-related April’s Fool’s jokes was awesome. I would totally eat from Alinea on the Road.
  • Oh God. I love bahn mi. Love it. It makes me miss the days when I lived in Seattle and was kitty-corner to an excellent little bahn mi restaurant. Check out this round up of good bahn mi spots in the DC area on Best Bites. Unfortunately, they’re a lot further than kitty-corner to my building.
  • Want to be a food blogger? Check out theses tips from Capital Spice guest blogger Jennifer Winter on food photography – a must-have skill for any food blogger.

Happy Friday!


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Reminder: Food and Sports Blogger March Madness Happy Hour – Tuesday, 3/16!


Food Bloggers + Sports Bloggers = Happy Hour

Yes, this is my final reminder – the food and sports blogger March Madness happy hour is Tuesday night (3/16)! Come drink with us from 6-9 pm at Clyde’s of Gallery Place. Just a note – we’ve been moved from the sports room to the oyster bar, but don’t worry. There will still be happy hour-ing. Fellow food and sports bloggers, readers, lurkers, sports fans, food fans, and friends all welcome.

RSVP on the DC Food Bloggers Facebook Page.

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Upcoming Pastry Classes At CulinAerie

Mom's Birthday Cake - Center


Some of you know that I started assisting cooking classes at CulinAerie, a recreational cooking school down on 14th street, back in December. Owned by two chefs and former L’Academie De Cuisine instructors, Susan Watterson and Susan Holt (aka “The Susans”), CulinAerie classes cover a wide range of cooking skills and techniques.

Having helped out at several classes by now, I’d definitely recommend them if you’re looking for a cooking class. The instructors are incredibly knowledge, the facilities are beautiful, and the classes are fun.

And if you’re looking for a food focused volunteer opportunity, I’ve loved assisting. Assistants help set up classrooms, prep, clear, and clean up. Really, the best part of it is getting to watch the class for free and being around other food people – well, that and you always get dinner after clean up. You can learn about CulinAerie’s assistant program by sending them an email.

I was excited to see that they have some baking and pastry focused classes coming up, so I thought I’d do a little blog shout out. I’m really sad that I can’t take any of these classes myself – how did my schedule get so crazy so quickly? I feel like all of March is full, and it hasn’t even begun yet.

Cake Making Classics
Instructor: Amy Riolo
March 6, 10:00am
Price: $85.00
Register here.

These timeless cakes are a “must” in anyone’s repertoire. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, hosting an elegant dinner party or looking to learn something new, this lineup won’t disappoint. Menu: Amalfi Coast Flourless Chocolate Cake; Tuscan Fig, Walnut & Fennel Seed Torte; Lemon-Filled Coconut Cream Roulade; Citrus Cardamom Pound Cake.

Bread for Beginners: Fabulous All-Time Favorites
Instructor: Amy Riolo
March 13, 10:30pm
Price: $85.00 per seat
Register here.

Details: Imagine turning back the hands of time and enjoying hot, fresh breads in your own home. These delicious, easy recipes will prove that making hand-crafted artisanal breads is much easier (and more fun) than you think. Menu: Cinnamon-Pecan Rolls; Easy, No-Knead Italian Baguettes; Tuscan Rosemary Focaccia; Lemon Apricot Tea Bread.

Basic Cake Decorating: Construction and Design
Instructor: Monica Marshall
March 21, 2010, 10:30am
Price: $85.00
Register here.

Details: Learn how to level, fill, crumb coat and ice a round cake. Decorative techniques for the sides of the cake will include raking, applying crushed nuts and performing geometric star dot patterns. Shell borders, star dots and scripting will finish the top. Students will learn how to choose the right equipment to complete cake decorating projects at home, how to use a pastry bag and how to mix colors.

Happy baking!

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Weekly Roundup: Snow and Cookies Edition

Cookie Plates

Can't really begin to tell you what I've gone through to make these cookies.

There’s been a whole snow-related drama that I haven’t really been talking about this week – the drama of the cookies. Now, as many of you know, I’m selling these cookie plates for Valentine’s Day – and this week was supposed to be the big week that I sent them out. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out when, exactly, I was going to make all these cookies – I couldn’t make them all at once, obviously, otherwise orders later in the week would be stale. And I was really proud of the schedule I drew up.

Enter the snow. Not only did the difficult traveling conditions and snow days completely change up my schedule, but the grocery stores were out of everything. Like eggs. And flour – yes, flour! I went to the Safeway on Columbia road Monday, and the only flour left was whole wheat – not cookie appropriate! The only white all-purpose flour I could fine was organic flour at Harris Teeter – I snagged one of the last few bags.

Of course, I’m very glad that everyone was baking up a storm during the snow days – ya’ll made some seriously tasty-looking baked goods. I just wish I had had the foresight to buy all my flour before the storm, that’s all.

Really lovely snow day recipes I want to try:

  • Tomato soup, simple and satisfying, from Sassy Radish.
  • Plum cake, another snow day baking experiment, from One Bite at a Time.
  • Bagels from The Indoor Garden_er (who, sadly, still had to go to work this week).

And in other news (both snow and non-snow related):

  • Lisa from Dining in DC is going to be a judge on the Travel Channels’ Food Wars this Sunday. Apparently the show has different chefs recreate an iconic local food item – and for DC, it’s the Jumbo Slice. You know, I really can’t argue with that. I’ll be at choir and making some epic cookies, but you can go cheer her on this weekend.
  • Over at Metrocurean Greg Engert, beer director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, shares good beers for cold nights.
  • I love Orangette, Molly Wizenburg’s lovely food blog. Wizenburg and her husband just opened up Delancey, a pizza joint in Seattle, which The Arugula Files visited this week.
  • Tim Carman at Young and Hungry takes a look at how supply chains affected restaurants’ ability to stay open during the Snowpocalypse.

Happy Friday!

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Save the Date – Next Food Blogger Happy Hour Feb. 3, 2010 at Againn

Out of the laptop and into the bar.

Were you drooling over pastry chef Genevieve So’s sticky toffee pudding? Well you’ll have a chance to try it – and her other delicious creations – at the next Food Blogger Happy Hour on Wednesday, February 3 at Againn.

The happy hour menu at Againn, DC’s newest gastropub, looks pretty awesome – they have $5 drink and food specials until 7:00 pm. The “coup d’etat” martini, with pineau des cherentes, cava, lemon, and cinnamon is calling my name, as is the house-made pretzel with sea salt and mustard. Come to meet, mingle and share recipe tips with your fellow food bloggers. This is a lovely and welcoming group of people – if you haven’t come to one before then please stop by. We’re very nice.

RSVP over at DC Thrifty Cook, who took the lead on putting this event together.

And thanks to the rest of planning committee, Arugula Files (who deserves special thanks for making the flyer), Beer Spotter, Biscuits and Such, Capital Cooking, Capital Spice, Common Man Eats, Dining in DC, Gradually Greener, and We Love DC.

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Weekly Roundup: Helping Haiti Edition

Haiti Earthquake

A Haitian girl rests after receiving medical care.

Photo by United Nations Development Programme via flickr, used under the Creative Common’s License.

The media coverage of Haiti is overwhelming – image after image of destruction still can’t really capture what it’s like on the ground. For a first-person account of the earthquake, Rollings in Haiti talks about what happened when the earthquake hit (I found the link on DC Blogs). I agree with Anderson Cooper that the camera lens is too small convey the depth of the destruction.

Food bloggers and restaurants have been stepping up to do what they can – raise money for the Haiti relief effort. So I’m postponing my regular roundup and just focusing on food bloggers and local efforts to raise money for Haiti.

  • Updated to add: Amy Leavitt Photography is doing a giveaway and donating $200 to a Haitian-relief charity of the winner’s choice. She’ll also be donating $5 for every comment between now and January 20th. The Cooking Ninja will be donating 0.10 € for every comment left until January 24th (up to 1000 comments); proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. Kay at the Keyboard will be donating 50 cents per comment to the most popular charity in her comments. And $5 dinners has already reached their $500 donation limit (they donated $5 for each link/comment received). Thanks to Scoop Adventures for the sending me these links.
  • The Washington City Paper has a roundup of DC-area Haiti benefits. Check out The Black Cat, which will be having a benefit on February 6, with performances from Tennis System and the State Department ($10). Busboys and Poets will also be holding a benefit this Sunday at 6:30 (suggested donation is $10) .
  • Endless Simmer has a roundup of legit places to donate to the food relief effort.
  • Mrs. Wheelbarrow posts her memories of living and working in Haiti in 1972, and urges readers to donate to the relief effort.
  • Thursday Night Smackdown is donating the usual cost of a “smackdown” dinner to the Haitian relief effort – and will give an additional $1 for everyone who comments before Saturday at noon.
  • For every comment posted on this Saffron and Blueberry post before January 31, $10 will be donated to the relief effort.
  • Confessions of A Pioneer Woman will be giving away two $500 donations to a Haitian relief charity of the winner’s choice, and will be donating 10 cents for every entrant in the giveaway (contest ends Friday at 12:00 EST).
  • Sweet Savory Life will be donating $1 for every comment received on her post – up to $1000.

Do you know of any other local DC restaurants or food blogs raising money for Haiti? Post in the comments.

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What Are Your 2010 Culinary Resolutions?

I want to make this cake so badly - in fact, it's a New Year's Resolution.

I’ve been waiting for months to write this post. I realized pretty early on last year that 2009 wasn’t for me, and I’ve been hanging my hopes on 2010 ever since then. I even wrote down a long list of reasons about why 2009 is now tied with 1995 (7th grade) and 2005 (the year after I graduated college) as one of my worst years. But then I scrapped it. After all, I’m not here to tell you why 2009 was hard. I’m here to tell you that 2010 has arrived, and it’s going to be awesome.

I’m already compiling a list of new years resolutions, which include the usual things, like going to the gym regularly, laying off “white” food (bread, potatoes, white rice), and upping my consumption of vegetables. And in case anyone was tracking my list of 2009 domestic resolutions, I still don’t have a headboard, nor have I established a personal filing system. So I guess they’re on the list too.

But rather than share my long list of dull personal resolutions, I’ll just stick to the pasty-related ones. Because, seriously, that’s one of the main reasons why 2010 is going to be awesome – I really want to up my pastry game. Here, in no particular order, are the kitchen projects I want to tackle this year:

  • Homemade marshmallows.
  • Try my hand at candy making.
  • Macarons (not to be confused with Macaroons).
  • Actually make a classic french buttercream frosting (yes, the one with the sugar syrup) that doesn’t dissolve into a puddle.
  • Try various laminated doughs: puff pastry, strudel, and croissants (my last attempt, while tasty, wasn’t quite perfect).
  • Génoise.
  • Take a cake decorating class – so I can finally figure out how to make the sides of my frosted cakes perfectly smooth.
  • Get used to making bread and cakes using a kitchen scale (one of my Christmas presents to myself).
  • Make the cake on the cover of “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” (another Christmas present).
  • Either take a class or regularly practice piping, since my piping skills are woefully underdeveloped.
  • Buy cake strips (little strips of silicone to put around your cake pans that keep the heat from penetrating the side of the pan too quickly, resulting in flatter, more uniform cake layers).
  • Practice decorating cakes/cupcakes with fondant.
  • Finally buy gel paste (a much more color-intensive way of tinting frosting than food coloring).
  • Finally go to Baked and Wired. (Still have not been!)

And, in blog related projects, I’d like to switch this baby to a custom template. Not that I don’t love this layout – I think it’s just time for a change. I’ve also been working on a new logo with a friend from choir, and I’d like to actually get it on the site, as she’s done some really lovely work.

As for you? Anyone have some crazy thing that you want to cook this year? Anyone planning on making some head cheese? Sausage? Tripe?

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Weekly Roundup: Already The Holidays Edition

Gingerbread Empire State Building

A gingerbread Empire State Building, from last year's gingerbread house competition at the House of Sweden. Yes, it's true - the holidays are upon us!

I know it’s the holiday season because every single weekend between now and Christmas is booked. Parties, gatherings, food expeditions, holiday-themed 10ks – there’s something going on almost every weekend.

This weekend I’ll be going to a bar crawl where everyone is required to wear ugly Christmas sweaters, as well as a going away party for a dear friend. And on Sunday, I’m having my book club over for a late lunch, featuring dishes from “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” (our December pick is Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France). It promises to be a weekend of lots of food, celebration, and cooking. A perfect start to the holiday season.

Recipes I want to try, as found during this week’s Internet explorations:

  • Lavender brûlée cake (a hybrid of cake and creme brûlée) from the menu of PS 7, via Best Bites.
  • The Arugula Files tries to recreate the California Pizza Kitchen’s roasted garlic and chicken pizza – a worthy endeavor.
  • Orangette is back to blogging, with a pantry-friendly pasta recipe: pasta, butter, prosciutto, and Parmesan. Man, it doesn’t get any better than that.

And in other food and blog news:

  • Don’t know what to get your booty call for Christmas? What about your mistress? Never fear. Lemmonex has the gift guide for you.
  • For the food lover in your life, Metrocurean has a local foodie gift guide with some excellent picks. I would like some local chocolates please!
  • Looking for charities to donate to this holiday season? DC Foodies has a roundup of local organization that feed the hungry.
  • Gradually Greener has been chanterelle hunting in Washington State – and they look beautiful (and delicious). I am also charmed that her mother has taught their dog to sniff out mushrooms.
  • Young and Hungry takes a look the profit margins of cupcake shops – and they’re . . . small. Very small. I can still dream about having my own cupcake place, right?
  • Capital Spice has interviews with the two DC Top Chef finalists – Michael Voltaggio and Bryan Voltaggio (yes, they’re brothers). I’m kind of glad I no longer have cable – I think I would have been too obsessed with this season of Top Chef, given all the DC connections. Also, I really don’t miss recapping that show (recaps are a pain).
  • I’m loving Mango and Tomato’s write up of the Puerto Rican food she had on vacation. Mmm, fried plantains.

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Weekly Roundup: Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Swedish Embassy

The Swedish Embassy, decked out for the holidays. We're in the thick of the holiday season.

I’ve loved reading the Thanksgiving posts and articles that have gone up this week. It seems like everyone is preparing for the big day. Except me, of course – I’ll be attending the Thanksgiving celebration of a friend from my bookclub, and I’ll leave all the difficult turkey-cooking to her. I’m a little sad that I won’t be cooking the meal myself, but I’m excited to share the holiday with my friends in DC. And it gives me more time to concentrate on pie – my true obsession this month.

Recipes I want to try, as found on the Internet this week:

  • Homemade vanilla extract, from Mango and Tomato. I’ve been meaning to do this forever – I go through vanilla extract like water.

And in other pre-Thanksgiving news;

  • Find out which  Starbucks baked good is worth buying at The Tipsy Baker.
  • I’ve been having a ton of fun watching the tweets from DC’s first Cupcake Cart, Curbside Cupcake. Now if they’d only come up to Tenlytown.
  • 6th and I is holding a potato cookoff. Mango and Tomato is already signed up as a contestant!
  • Crumbs Bake Shop is coming to DC! Actually, I’m pretty happy with our current cupcake offerings. Do we really need another? Via Metrocurean.

Happy Friday!

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Weekly Roundup: Beer Frenzy Edition


A reader made the Chocolate Guinness Oreos - and even sent me photographic evidence. Thanks Holly!

Birch and Barley, the new beer focused restaurant from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, finally opened this week, and the blogosphere has been set on fire. Well, at least all the folks on the DC Beer listserv. That, my beer ice cream extravaganza, and the excess of beer sitting in my fridge, has made this a beer-frenzied week.

Um, I kind of want a glass of wine.

Now, this week was a proud week for this food blog: someone actually made one of my original recipes – and sent me photographic evidence! The photo above is from a friend of my friend Holly – he made the Chocolate Guinness Oreos. And, apparently, they came out really well. I know that people  have made my stuff before (friends have shared stories – and my friend Alice really is my resident recipe tester), but the Guinness Oreos were my invention, so I feel particularly tender about them.  It feels pretty cool.

Recipes I want to try from this weekend’s Internet perusings:

  • The Bitten Word makes cashew chicken – that actually looks like it could rival takeout.
  • A luscious and seasonally appropriate pumpkin creme brulee from Capital Cooking.
  • The Arugula Files makes a deconstructed vichyssoise (i.e., leek, pototo, and gruyere) pizza. This is pure brilliance.

And in other Internet news:

  • The Washington Post’s Tom Siestema releases his 10th annual dining guide.
  • Obama visited Pete’s Apizza, which is actually right up the street in Columbia Heights. Young and Hungry investigates how the New Haven style pizza joint landed on the President’s schedule.

Happy Friday!

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