Posts Tagged dc restaurant scene

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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Weekly Roundup: Roll Out The Red Carpet Edition

Salty and Sweet Chocolate Thumbprints

These salty chocolate thumbprints will be making an apperance at the Food Bloggers Bake Sale for Haiti this Sunday!

I felt like I was reading about Hollywood and not the DC food scene this week. Nominees for The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s RAMMY awards and the James Beard Awards were announced this week. Well, okay, that’s only two awards. But still – there was lots of internet buzz this week about the DC nominees. In fact, several of the Beard and RAMMY nominees have been interviewed on this very blog – David Guas’ cookbook, Dam Good Sweet, was nominated for a Beard Award, and Pastry Chefs Travis Olson, Anthony Chavez and Josh Short received RAMMY nods.

Before you get all distracted with thoughts of sparkly dressed and red carpets, I want to put in a final plug for the Bake Sale for Haiti that’s happening this Sunday at Zorba’s (1612 20th Street NW) from 9-11. All proceeds will go to benefit Doctor’s Without Borders Haiti relief efforts, and many local food bloggers will be showcasing their best baking talents. Speaking of which, I’ll totally be spending tomorrow making lemon cupcakes and salty chocolate thumbprint cookies for the bake sale. So don’t be shy! Come out and get the baked goods you’ve been craving.

Okay, roundup time. Recipes I want to try, from this week’s Internet offerings:

  • Bacon cornbread. Bacon. Cornbread. I don’t need to say anything more. From Biscuits and Such.
  • Trash Bars from A Measured Memory. Dear God – they’re stuffed with everything one could want in a bar cookie – rice chex, muddy buddy’s, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and marshmallows. Oh, and butter. Don’t forget the butter.

And in other news:

  • Metrocurean rounds up all the DC peeps who were nominated for James Beard Awards, where DC made a strong showing. As I mentioned above, Pastry Chef Amanda Cook of City Zen received a nod, as did DamGoodSweet, the cookbook by DC Pastry Chef David Guas. And City Paper food writer Tim Carman was nominated for his piece about restaurateur Andy Shallal’s disastrous top-chef style competition to hire the new chef at Eatonville.
  • Whoo hoo! The food blogger bake sale for Haiti made it to the Young and Hungry blog!
  • Florida Girl in DC ponders what to make at the Food Blogger Bake Sale. I’m glad that someone else thought about this as much as I did! I willingly admit to having bake sale anxiety.
  • A new wine bar opening up on 14th street sparks a blog war with U Street Girl. The blogger removed a comment from her initial post about the restaurant’s opening date after the restaurant owner threatened her with legal action because he found the comment to be libelous. Wow. Well, now I really don’t want to go there, and I love a good wine bar.
  • No, I couldn’t attend Le Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris – Paris’ annual contest for the best bread in the city. But you can get an inside look at the competition – one of the judges was an American living in Paris, and wrote about the experience on her blog. Found via Chewswise.
  • Gradually Greener takes a look at some unexpected RAMMY award categories – the best neighborhood gathering place, hottest bar scene, and restaurant power spot. I can’t quite believe these are award categories, but they’re very interesting to think about.
  • Rather liked this post from The Lancelot Sturgeons about finally getting to that point where you have enough pantry items improvise a gourmet weeknight meal. Haven’t we all experienced that moment when you realize you can actually make a nice meal from random things stuffed into your fridge and pantry? It’s a good feeling.

Happy Friday!

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Weekly Roundup: “Oh My God We’re Getting A DC Top Chef” Edition

Churchkey_Chairs

Restaurants like Churchkey have helped put DC on the food map.

Ever since I came to DC four and a half years ago, the food scene has been expanding and growing right before my very eyes. The new bars and clubs that are opening up on H street, the ever expanding food scene on 14th street – it seems like every day there’s a new restaurant opening that I want to try. But now, I think the DC food scene has finally arrived. Yes – Metrocurean’s sources tell her that we’re getting a DC Top Chef.

Now, I know that Top Chef isn’t the last say on a city’s food scene – not by a long shot. The show’s focus on restaurant cooking really reflects one small part of a city’s food culture, after all – I’d still say that I wish DC had the vibrant ethnic food scene that you find out in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, for instance. But still, I’m pretty damn proud of my little city.

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

  • Salvadorian pound cake from One Bite at a Time. It’s a sweet cake that also uses Parmesan cheese – the combo looks fascinating to me.
  • Blood orange yogurt cake, from The Atlantic. I think we’re seeing the tail end of orange recipes for the season. Next up -rhubarb.
  • Amnesty cookies (they liberate all the bags of half-used ingredients from your cupboard), from David Lebovitz.
  • Sesame cookies, from Atlantic Kitchen. I know that sesame is often used in desserts, but it’s something I always forget about. These look lovely.

And in other news:

  • Dangerously Delicious Pies, a Baltimore Favorite, will be officially opening up their new H street store on March 12. Man. Does this mean I need to go down to H street? I hate paying cab fare. Via Frozen Tropics.
  • I really liked this post from DC Foodies about the proper use of the word “Gastropub” (and, according to the post, I’ve misused the term quite a few times on this very site). Considering that DC is experience a Renaissance of “Gastropubs,” I’m glad someone is taking a look at what, exactly, a Gastropub is.
  • Another sign that the DC Food Scene has arrived – two DCites made Food and Wine’s list of seven top Sommeliers: Greg Enert, Beer Director of Churchkey and Birch and Barley, and John Wabeck, Sommelier at Inox. Via Metrocurean.
  • Everyone cheats in the kitchen. Canned chicken stock, pre-bagged lettuce, minute rice – we all use shortcuts. Endless Simmer lists their top three cooking cheats – and now I totally want to make them my own.
  • The lovely Mango and Tomato is getting her teaching on – she’s started teaching Knife Skills classes. I totally think you should hit her up for a private class. The beautiful photos are by Adventures in Shaw.
  • The Tipsy Baker is having a showdown. A chicken pot pie show down. In one corner – the chicken pot pie from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Hom. In the other corner – the chicken pot pie from Pioneer Woman Cooks. Who’s pot pie reigns supreme?
  • There’s such thing as a beer CSA? Really? Via Young and Hungry.

Happy Friday!

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Weekly Roundup: Over this Weather Edition

Spring Flowers

I would just like to remind you that, eventually, it will be Spring.

Maybe it’s boring to always be talking about the weather. But it’s March. Besides the upcoming Food and Sports Blogger March Madness happy hour on March 16, and maybe St. Patrick’s day, nothing’s really exciting about March. Besides, that is, the onset of Spring. Oh, and the fact that I have now have a ModernDomestic fan page on Facebook. Are you a fan yet?

Spring is taking a really long time to show its face. I’m cold. I’m cranky.  I’m tired of shivering in my coat and sweater. I’m ready for something new. Spring, get your ass in gear.

Recipes I want to try:

  • Oh my God! Homemade Twix! These look amazing. From One Bite at a Time.
  • Tiramisu with pomegranate juice and pomegranate liquor, from Mango and Tomato. Lovely.

And in other news:

  • I’m not a hipster, but I kind of want to be a hipster housecleaner. No, not food related, but too delicious to pass up. Via The Hill is Home.
  • So, every time the Washingtonian does a big contest, like the Burger Bracket or the Pizza Pool, I get really overwhelmed. Like, inevitably I haven’t tried all the places, and I feel like I can’t vote in all the contests, and then I can’t keep up with all of them. Which is how I feel about the Cupcake Cup. And yes, I’ve had a lot of cupcakes in DC. But I haven’t come close to trying them all and, rather than giving myself a panic attack, I’m just kind of ignoring it. But if you’d like to check it out, be my guest.
  • There are a lot of tacos in DC. DCist sorts through them all and tells you which ones are worth eating. I’m kind of sad that they didn’t include Mixtec, in Adams Morgan – I really like tacos at that place.
  • Dine out for Life, the Food and Friends fundraiser, is March 11 – get the scoop on who’s participating over at Dining in DC.
  • Endless Simmer is holding a donut contest – create the ultimate Endless Simmer donut. I love it. I would like a chocolate bacon donut, please.
  • The Tipsy Baker sings the praises of good white chocolate. She is so right on.
  • Um, there are 95 cent cocktails at Occidental? Seriously? Seriously? Via Metrocurean.
  • It may be overlooked, but the sandwich is one of the greatest food inventions of all time. The Washington Post has a bunch of great sandwich recipes for a crowd – ideal for an Oscar party.
  • Girl Meets Food has a bad time at Vidalia during restaurant week, and can finally talk about it.

Happy Friday!

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Carri-Anne Hamer Serves Up Elegant, Delicious Desserts at Zola

Zola Sticky Toffee Pudding

The sticky toffee pudding at Zola is to die for - and yes, that's a sweet potato cake you're looking at.

Restaurant desserts are hard to do well. It’s common for diners to get a plate of something covered in spun sugar and modeled chocolate that looks beautiful, only to be met with disappointment in the first mouthful. But Carrie Anne Hamer, the Pastry Chef at Zola, doesn’t have this problem – her desserts not only look beautiful, but they taste wonderful.

Zola Carri Anne Hamer

Zola's pastry chef Carri-Anne Hamer.

Hamer has been interested in pastry ever since she got an EZ-Bake oven as a child and could make her mother and father their favorite pies – blueberry and cherry respectively. Originally from Virginia Beach, Hamer studied culinary arts at a vocational program in high school. After a bad restaurant experience at the age of 16 – Hamer says she has a “love hate relationship” with the industry – her career took a detour. She pursued an associate’s degree in business administration and planned on doing a major in international business. But she just couldn’t ignore her love for food. “When I was finished with my associate’s I figured out that my passion lies in the culinary field,” Hamer says. “So I applied to the Culinary Institute of America.”

After moving to DC in 2006, Hamer worked at Restaurant Eve, several different CakeLove locations, and Vinoteca, before moving to Zola in November 2009. Hamer describes Zola’s cuisine as “food that people are familiar with,” re-imagined with high quality ingredients and modern updates. “We have a mac and cheese, but it’s a lobster mac and cheese,” she explained.

Zola Cafe Ole

The Café au Lait, one of the desserts at Zola.

Hamer’s approach to pastry is creative and spontaneous – “it’s anything that just comes into my head,” she says. “You have all these classic desserts – how can you change them, make them your own?” She brings her classical training to bear in her desserts at Zola, which are elegantly styled updates of traditional European desserts – and yes, they’re delicious.

Take her sticky toffee pudding, which pairs an incredibly moist sweet potato cake covered in toffee sauce with a refreshing butter pecan ice cream. The cake practically melted in my mouth – it was my favorite thing that I tried. The Café au Lait- a coffee mousse with a center of Irish creme, coated in white chocolate and surrounded by a Irish creme sabayon, was surprisingly light and delicately flavored. Her chocolate dessert, called “The Bittersweet Love,” has a bitter chocolate mousse atop a crunchy hazelnut base, filled with a blood orange marmalade and surrounded by a blood orange and vanilla sauce. Unlike many mousse desserts, which can be heavy, this was creamy and light, and the orange marmalade and silky sauce brought out the deep chocolate flavor of the mousse. It’s no wonder that the dessert is Hamer’s favorite – “one of my favorite flavor profiles is chocolate and orange,” she says. “I used to get a chocolate orange in my stocking every Christmas.”

Zola Bittersweet Love

Bittersweet Love, Zola's dessert for Valentine's Day.

Hamer is already thinking of ideas for her spring menu, like a black forest milkshake. “Some ideas come months before the season,” she admits. She’s also thought of doing a dessert for the Cherry Blossom Festival, like a green tea cake filled with a white chocolate mousse, although she’s not sure yet what will end up on the actual Zola menu.

But I’m sure whatever it is, it will be delicious, beautiful, and a sweet way to end a meal.

Zola decor

Can I just say that I'm also a little in love with the retro chic decor at Zola? 'Cause I am.

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Weekly Roundup: Flattered Edition

Totally flattered - Cathy made the birthday cake I made for my mom. And she even improved it!

I love it when people tell me that they’ve tried the recipes from ModernDomestic – it’s one of the biggest thrills I can possibly get as a blogger. So I was really thrilled when Cathy of We Love DC and Constantly Cathy hit me up for birthday cake recommendations this week. She finally decided to make the almond cake with lemon curd and marscarpone frosting that I made for my mother’s birthday, and it came out great! She even had better success with the frosting (mine got kind of curdled) – she whipped the cream separately from the marscarpone and then folded it in at the end. It came out smooth and creamy – the way a good frosting should be. So not only did she try a recipe from here – but she even had better luck with it than me. There could be no better highlight to my week.

In other news, I’m over winter. Over it.

Recipes I want to try:

  • Britannia at Endless Simmer claims to not be big on baking, but his kumquat cupcakes look pretty damn delicious.

And in other news:

  • The Arugula Files is on vacation in Hawaii and she’s making me crazy jealous of the lovely food, setting, and weather! I was particularly interested in her post about rambutan – a fruit that kind of looks like a furry raspberry. I wonder how they’d be in a trifle – or a pie.
  • Confused about the difference between Dutch-processed and regular cocoa? David Lebovitz has an excellent primer. My problem with cocoa is that I read articles like this and I’m like “oh right, that’s the difference.” And then I promptly forget what the difference is and the next time I’m at the store trying to pick out a cocoa, I’m still in the dark. I need a cocoa cheat sheet.
  • Food & Friends is holding their annual Dining Out for Life event on Thursday, March 11th. You can find participating restaurants at Open Table, all of which will donate a portion of their proceeds to Food and Friends. It’s a really easy way to give money to a good cause.
  • The Washingtonian is hosting a Cupcake Cup. I guess the Post’s Cupcake Wars series really wasn’t the final word on DC’s cupcake scene. Via Best Bites.
  • Columbia Heights is getting a farmer’s market! I’m so excited – it’s opening June 5. Via DCist.
  • Loved this essay in the Washington Post about the power of the long, slow braise – and the recipes looked tasty too.
  • What do chefs and food writers have in common? Tim Carman cites 15 ways over at Young and Hungry.
  • One Bite at a Time faces an ethical food dilemma, one that I’ve faced many times – do you go for the $16 organic chicken? Or the $6 store brand chicken?

Happy Friday!

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Weekly Roundup: Twitter Addict Edition

TogoRun 3

These cookies made my entire apartment smell like royal icing for days.

I’m becoming one of those people. One of those people who actually uses Twitter all the time. I found at least half of the articles from this week’s roundup on Twitter – a social media platform that I used to abhor. I actually have friends that I know primarily from Twitter – and I know more about them than I do about a lot of my good friends from college and high school. It was only this week that I realized that the shift from Twitter skeptic to Twitter evangelist had taken place when I kept on wanting a “take a break” Twitter feature like Gmail has, which locks you out of the account for 15 minute intervals so you can actually concentrate. Now all I need is an iPhone so I can tweet from the road, and the conversion will be complete.

In other news, I’m finished up my final cookie plate last night for Miss. Nonna, and my apartment has finally stopped smelling like royal icing from the TogoRun cookies. I’m already planning my next bake sale, but I don’t have anything concrete to hint at yet. It’s kind of nice to have a free weekend where I can bake whatever I want. I’m thinking of doing something with chocolate and orange – maybe a cake filled with chocolate orange ganache, maybe a re-do of the citrus cupcakes with a silk meringue buttercream made with orange curd. Maybe I’ll re-do the King Cake with a brioche dough and ice it with a lemon icing. Not sure yet. But I’m already getting excited about my baking ideas.

Recipes I want to try, as found from this week’s Internet perusing:

  • Cranberry orange scones, from one Bite At a Time. I’ve been hankering to make scones lately – especially since they’re not on my usual baking roster. These look lovely.

And in other news:

  • Crumbs Bakery, the NYC cupcake shop, is coming to DC – and before they even get here they’re bashing the DC cupcake scene. “We came down to [the DC] market four months ago and did a complete tour and hit every cupcake place,” Crumbs Co-Founder Jason Bauer says in a WaPo article. “Quite honestly, we weren’t impressed with anybody’s product.” Um, anyone’s? Way to sound like an arrogant jerk – and instantly turn me off to your products, dude.
  • We Love DC sums up the Twitter outrage to the Crumbs WaPo article, including a quote (or, um, tweet) from yours truly.
  • In case you didn’t catch it in the bottom of my interview with the fabulous Theresa Luongo Pinelli, Chief Sweetness Officer at Treet – you can get a free brownie at her stand at the Bethesda Central Farmer’s market this Sunday. Just say the secret word “Olympics” and the brownie is yours!
  • Metrocurean took Samuel Fromartz’s snowpocalypse bread baking challenge, and is falling in love with bread baking. Ah. Young love.
  • Also, Metrocurean (aka, Amanda McClements) was interviewed on NPR about macarons, which she thinks will be the next big thing in pastry. Go Amanda! Although why must such a difficult baked item become the next big trend? I can make pretty cupcakes, but macarons intimidate me.
  • This New York Times article about chefs who tweet has been making the Twitter rounds. Most of the DC chefs I follow on Twitter seem so nice! Those NYC chefs are so . . . angry.
  • Jane Black, the Washington Post food writer, takes a look at the future of food writing on her blog. And it’s not pretty.
  • Young and Hungry is excited that BakeShop has finally opened up a storefront in Clarendon. As am I. As am I.
  • Top Shelf reports that Spike Mendelsohn will be opening a pizza joint next to the Good Stuff Eatery in April. And I will probably make the trek over to The Hill come April. Mmmm . . . pizza . . .

Happy Friday!

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