Posts Tagged birch and barley

Recipe Roundup: Something New for This Good Friday

It's Easter. It's time to bake. Or buy and eat other's baked goods. Like, these sticky buns from Birch and Barley Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac.*

*Photo by Olga Berman, of Mango and Tomato.

Hey MD readers. So, I’m trying something different this week. Rather than having the recipes and blog news roundup in the same post, I’m breaking them up into different posts. I mean, the roundups were getting kind of long and I think two posts will be a little more digestible. But do you love this idea? Hate it? Let me know.

So, these are all the recipes I want to try from this week’s Internet perusings. But in case you’re not in the mood to bake, never fear. Tiffany MacIssac, the fab Pastry Chef at Birch and Barley, is selling her sticky buns with cream cheese frosting for pick up this weekend. Yes. Yes. That means you can have them at your Easter brunch. It’s $20 for a half dozen, and they come with coffee sauce and extra frosting (just the way I like it). Call 202-567-2576 48 hours in advance to order.

  • Um, can I just say that I wish I would have thought of this? Check out these adorable Easter egg pot de cremes from A Measured Memory.
  • Beet cake – AKA red velvet cake – a recipe from Bourbon Steak’s pastry chef Santanna Salas, via Counter Intelligence (she’s back!).
  • Raspberry clafoutis (one of those desserts I’ve meant to make for years, yet never have) from The Bitten Word. Now if only we could get some raspberries at the farmer’s market.

So, that’s my roundup. What’s on your list of things to cook or bake this weekend?

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An Interview With Tiffany MacIssac, Pastry Chef at Birch and Barley

Birch and Barley - Cookies

There's more than just beer available at Birch and Barley.

DC pastry lovers – take note: Birch and Barley isn’t just about the beer.

No, there are equally great things happening in the kitchen under the skilled direction of Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac. A self proclaimed “cookie snob,” MacIssac most recently worked as the pastry chef at Allen & Delancey in New York City before moving to DC to take the job at Birch and Barley, the newest restaurant from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

Tiffany MacIssac

Tiffany MacIssac - the Pastry Chef at Birch and Barley, the long-awaited beer-centric restaurant that opened last week in Logan Circle.

In case you were wondering, MacIssac prefers her cookies freshly baked and still warm from the oven – when a cookie is in its most Platonic, enjoyable state. In fact, one of her ideas for the newly opened restaurant is to have a “late night cookie bake,” where lingering customers can purchase freshly baked cookies from their waiter.

After all, after a couple beers, who wouldn’t go for a fresh, warm cookie, straight from the oven?

It’s ideas like this – creative spins on classic comfort foods – that should make Birch and Barley patrons as excited about the desserts as they are about the beer. I sat down with MacIssac at Birch and Barley last Saturday, and she impressed me with her creativity, attention to detail, enthusiasm, and, of course, her lovely desserts.

DC’s beer lovers should be pleased that MacIssac is no beer novice herself; she and her husband Kyle Bailey, Birch and Barley’s Executive Chef, brew their own at home. “I appreciate beer for all its details,” says MacIssac. “I think it’s so much more interesting than wine. And for the price, you can try so much more of it – it’s a small commitment.”

Birch and Barley - Dessert Plate

From left to right: pumpkin pie ice cream, pudding pop, "Hostess" cupcake, oatmeal cream pie, passion fruit marshmallow, and chestnut honey caramels.

Her dessert menu for features classic, nostalgic desserts that are updated with thoughtful, elegant touches. Her chocolate peanut butter tart is paired with a whiskey vanilla milkshake, which she thinks will become the restaurant’s signature dessert. Her French toast is deep-fried in clarified butter and served with oatmeal ice cream. Also on the menu are caramelized bananas served with a bacon caramel sauce and a figgy toffee pudding made with black mission figs. And for the kid in you, there’s a cookie plate – complete with a gourmet “Hostess” cupcake filled with white chocolate mousse and a melt-in-your mouth oatmeal cream pie.

Some of the menu items incorporate beer, such as the honey crisp apple beignet, made with apples roasted in hard cider and battered in an oatmeal stout batter. For the table bread service, she makes a pretzel roll that uses porter, giving the bread “a rich golden color and a nice yeasty flavor.” If you need help paring a dessert or any menu item with a beer, never fear – Greg Engert, the NRG beer director, has been intensively training the wait staff on expansive beer menu, so they should be well equipped to offer food pairing suggestions.

Birch and Barley - Sorbets

From left to right: concord grape, vanilla buttermilk, apple cider, cranberry, and passion fruit yogurt sorbets.

MacIssac also offers a rotating selection of fourteen sorbets, which is one of her favorite menu items (she even thought of opening an ice cream shop before the Birch and Barley opportunity came up). “Everyone at the table has a different favorite,” she says of the sorbet plate, which features five flavors at a time. On the day I visited, I tried concord grape, cranberry, passion fruit yogurt, vanilla buttermilk, and apple cider sorbets. “The vanilla-buttermilk sorbet gets the strongest reaction,” MacIssac added, which was certainly true in my case. It was light and tangy and refreshing – and definitely my favorite of the bunch.

MacIssac is committed to making everything in house at Birch and Barley, from the breads to the cookies to each component of her desserts. “I don’t see why a pastry chef should use [pre-packaged] graham cracker crumbs,” MacIssac says. Right now, Birch and Barley’s bread program is almost entirely in house – the only thing they order out is the Ciabatta for the sandwiches at ChurchKey. And if MacIssac has her way, soon they won’t even be doing that.

ChurchKey

Glamour shot from ChurchKey - I want those chairs!

So yes, you can get excited about the beer – about the 50 beers on tap, and hundreds of beers in bottles. But also, get excited about the pastry – like a “Hostess” cupcake that actually tastes like chocolate, delicately flavored passion fruit marshmallows, and the possibility of a “build your own sundae” dessert (another one of MacIssac’s ideas for the dessert menu). Get very excited.

You really should be.

Birch and Barley - Beer Organ

Okay, so you can still get excited about the beer. The "beer organ" at Birch and Barley carries the beer to the taps at Churchkey, which is upstairs.

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