Posts Tagged dc restaurants

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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Weekly Roundup: “Are We Really Going To Call it ‘The Teens?'” Edition.

New Years - Raise a Glass

Seriously - I'm so fickin' happy we're in a new decade. Can't it have a better name?

Thirteen. Fifteen. Eighteen. What do these numbers remind you of? For me, it’s really awkward clothing choices (leggings, over-sized sweatshirts and Doc Martens), an insufficient acne-fighting skincare regime, and rereading “The Bell Jar” more times than I care to admit. In other words, any phrase that reminds me of being a teenager does not inspire confidence. So are we really going to call this decade “the teens?” Couldn’t we find a better name for this decade? I’d even settle for “the not-aughts.”

Anyway, this week the Internets were buzzing with New Years resolutions, trend predictions for the new decade, restaurant week news, and roundups of our fabulous Food Blogger Potluck. Not a bad week for the first full week of 2010.

Recipes I want to try, as found during my obsessive Internet reading:

And in other news:

  • It’s New Years resolution time. The Arugula Files has a list of food-related resolutions – a whopping 25 of them. And Lemmonex is making a New Years resolution to indulge in some self-care (and, like me, wants all those New Years resolution people to get out of her gym).
  • Missed the Food Blogger Potluck? Dining in DC, Capital Cooking, The Arugula Files and Bisnow have roundups.
  • Derek Brown (who founded The Gibson and co-owns The Passenger, both known for their craft cocktails) has a piece in The Atlantic on cocktail trends for the next decade. He predicts food and cocktail pairings, monk-made liqueurs like Benedictine (get it?), vermouth, orange flavored liqueurs, and different varieties of ice will be big in the teens.
  • Best Bites lists foodie “ins and outs” for the new year. In: spaghetti and meatballs, bahn mi, and crushes on White House chef Sam Kass. Out: bacon, dirty martinis, and duck-fat frying. Some of the stuff I agree with – but can chocolate and peanut butter ever truly be “out?” I don’t think so.
  • We Love DC reports that chocolate shop ACKC just opened a wine bar. Chocolate . . . wine . . . did they open it specifically for me?
  • Gradually Greener totally reminded me that Hanks Oyster Bar has a great winter happy hour – oysters are only $1 each from 5:30-6:30. Damn my New Years resolution to go to the gym more. All I want to do it go out now.
  • Tim Carman chronicles his attempt to make pizza from scratch on Young and Hungry, using a recipe from master baker Mark Furstenberg. And decides that, next time, he’s getting take-out. I want to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to the Rose Levy Beranbaum pizza recipe. It’s so easy, so quick, and so good (and so much cheaper than takeout).

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An Interview With Anthony Chavez, Executive Pastry Chef at 2941

Anthony Chavez, Executive Pastry Chef at 2941.

Anthony Chavez, Executive Pastry Chef at 2941 in Falls Church, takes classic desserts and elegantly updates them with creative, seasonal touches. The fine dining restaurant serves modern takes on American French fare, and Chavez’s offerings include a Bailey’s ganache mousse, a pumpkin crémeux served with a root beer float, and a duo of egg-based desserts that pairs a crème brûlée with lemon floating islands. I would personally like to try all of them – New Years weight-loss resolutions be damned.

Originally from California, Chavez graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2001. He got his start at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, working his way up to Executive Pastry Chef in three years. Before coming to 2941, he was the Executive Pastry Chef at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower.

Chavez sat down with ModernDomestic before the holidays to talk about the dessert menu at 2941 (which looks delicious), the next big trend in pastry (he’s thinking petits fours), and where he likes to get dessert in DC.

MD: Why did you get into pastry?
AC: I went to culinary school and at the end of my internship I was given the opportunity to work in the pastry department. I stuck with it. It’s very precise, and there’s a lot of things you can specialize in. You can be a specialist in chocolate and candies, wedding cakes, plated desserts, sugar – there are lots of different aspects to pastry that are completely different from each other.

MD: So what’s your specialty?
AC: Plated desserts. They’re my favorite part about pasty and that’s why I work here. I love to make wedding cakes and chocolate candies, but I love the intensity of plated desserts. I try to encompass all aspects of pastry in a plated dessert – I can use a chocolate ganache that I’d use in a candy and use it in a plated dessert. Brioche is another good example – it’s traditionally a bread you eat for breakfast, but we use it all the time for plated desserts. You can make bread pudding with it, you can make French toast with it, etc.

MD: How do you describe your approach to pasty?
AC: I have a very classical French background – it’s how I was trained. I like to incorporate French techniques. I work with Bertrand Chemel, [2941’s Executive Chef] who’s from France, and our styles work very well together. I try to put a modern twist on the French classics.

MD: Do you ever cook at home?
AC: My wife and I met in culinary school and sometimes we’ll make pat a choux, eclairs, or brioche at home. We also sometimes like to make pie. We’ve made pecan pie, but instead we made an almond sablé dough and made a layer of sponge on the bottom. We took an American classic and made it French.

Chavez's chestnut yule log, for the holiday season. I have the recipe for this and it takes a whole two days to make.

MD: What’s your favorite childhood dessert?
AC: Chocolate s’mores. When we go out to West Virginia we do marshmallows on the campfire. I also like Snickers bars and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.

MD: So what’s on the menu now at 2941?
AC: It’s wintertime, so we’re doing fall desserts that feature apples and pears. We’re doing a caramelized apple with a black walnut filling, served with calvados sorbet. We also have a German chocolate cake – it has chocolate flourless sponge on the bottom and coconut cream. And we’re serving poached pear and buckwheat flapjacks.

MD: What’s your favorite dessert on the menu?
AC: I’m very pleased with the way the apple came out. I wanted to see what we could do with apples and this is one we’ve done before. The dessert never included the frangipane, but Chemel tried it and said that what would remind him of his childhood would be frangipane. And we work with a lot of farmers and we were able to get black walnuts. Black walnuts are a little sour and bitter, and if you pair it with the caramel apple they complement each other.

MD: Since you work with local farmers, is that how you source all your ingredients?
AC: A lot of it is from local farmers. Of course, if we’re using citrus or something that isn’t grown here we use a purveyor. We also go to the supermarket because sometimes they have better produce, and sometimes I go to the McLean farmer’s market on my way to work in the summer. We also work with a woman who has a company called Fresh Link – she travels around the Culpeper area looking for farmers with good produce.

MD: Did you follow any of the controversy surrounding Founding Farmer’s food sourcing? The Washington Post did an article recently about how the restaurant has built its brand on using produce from local farms, but actually gets most of its food from large corporations.
AC: I haven’t read it, but now I’m going to. But, you know, this was a really tough year for the food crop. Apricots never happened, local strawberries were only a two week season. Raspberries and peaches were the only things that did well. It’s hard to work with small farmers because of the consistency. The farmers we work with – we try to find people that are reliable.

MD: Any good bakeries in DC?
AC: I haven’t been to a lot. Buzz Bakery is nice, as is Artisan Confections in Arlington.

MD: What about dessert- any places you like to get dessert in DC?
AC: City Zen, Citronelle, Bourbon Steak. I really think that people are starting to figure it out, and are judging restaurants on desserts, more so than in the past. Before it was “so what can the chef do?” Now it’s “what else can the rest of the team do? Do you have a legit sommelier that knows about wine? Do you have a legit pastry chef?”

MD: Finally, I have to ask this question – do you think anything will replace cupcake trend?
AC: There’s so many cupcake shops – they’ve taken over so that people have lost the view of what a cupcake should be. I understand that some people are there to do something different, but some of us who have worked for many, many years on these techniques are getting overshadowed.

I think the trend restaurants are going to start focusing on petits fours. That’s your last chance to show off. Putting down a plate of tarts or gelees is a thing of the past. But I think people are doing some really nice stuff with petits fours and that’s where our focus is going to be.

The "Eye Scream," Chavez's Halloween-themed dessert. It's almost too horrifying to eat!

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