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Posts in "Eat"
August 29, 2014
Congressional Cemetery will help usher out the dogs days of summer with its Day of the Dog, welcoming local breweries, food trucks, dogs and the people who serve them on Saturday.
The free event, which lasts from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., is just the latest good-vibe party to swoop in on the final resting place for so many Capitol Hill denizens. Last week, the cemetery’s latest 5K, Flee the British, brought the historically minded running crowd over for a race on the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington by the British army. The British muskets that doubled as the starting gun were a nice touch, as was “Dolly Madison” fleeing the redcoats in a golf cart. There were even redcoat hecklers. “Run, you cowardly Washingtonians!” one said from a hillock full of family mausoleums.
Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach recently recounted how weird a conflict the War of 1812, including that “we are a little vague on the question of who won,” and “we have a decent idea of when it happened, because of the name, but given the critical events of August 1814, the conflict possibly should be called ‘the War of Approximately 1812.’”
In other words, the Flee the British race and Day of the Dog fits in perfectly for a quirky cemetery that last year employed a herd of live goats to dispose of the poison ivy and invasive weeds that threatened the grounds.
Every so often someone gripes about how appropriate it is to host such things at a cemetery. Pish posh. They’re probably the same sticks in the mud who groused about the Brits’ recent Twitter ribbing about the 200th anniversary of the burning, “a rather unfortunate event in UK/US relations” as the British Embassy’s press people dubbed it. Unfortunate, too, when so many people don’t get the joke.
But back to Congressional Cemetery. Amid the beer (Atlas Brew Works and Port City Brewing will be on hand), dog costume contest, raffle drawing for gate prizes and overall bonhomie, it’s a decent way to spend a Saturday.
When they stick me in the ground, I hope it’s in as lively a place as this.
August 28, 2014
Former White House aide Adrian Miller started writing his book “Soul Food, The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time,” in humble circumstances, but it wasn’t long before the James Beard Foundation Book Award winner took it to another level. “We should have soul food in space,” he said of a sit-down he’d had with folks about NASA.
Many forms of soul food do indeed taste heavenly, and whether they are bound for space travel any time soon is a topic that could be posed in person to Miller, who’s in town in Washington as part of the 2014 National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown. The one-time aide for President Bill Clinton, who worked as part of 42′s Initiative for One America before heading to Colorado to work for the Bell Policy Center and later as a senior policy aide for Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, decided to write the book almost on a lark.
At the end of Ritter’s term of office, Miller said to himself, “You know, I’m just going to go for it,” and cashed in his retirement to buy himself time and resources to research and write about his passion: a truly American food that is itself a melting pot story, a misunderstood part of our culture and a vanishing tradition. “I’m a risk averse person. It probably wasn’t the best financial decision, but I’ve never been happier,” he said.
The Beard award was “totally unexpected,” he said, and has given him and his work a level of appreciation that many books published by university presses (in this case The University of North Carolina Press) don’t enjoy. It’s an important topic as well, as it touches on issues ranging from nutrition, race and disappearing culture. Driving home the point about soul food’s endangered status, two of the local D.C. establishments I wanted to recommend to Miller for his trip to the capital city — The Rib Pit and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish — are no longer around, and it hadn’t been too long since I’d visited each.
Miller, who is now executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches, speaks as part of the Culinary Arts pavilion from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Saturday at the convention center. He’ll be signing copies of “Soul Food” from 11 a.m. to noon.
August 27, 2014
HARTFORD, Conn. — There is more to the Nutmeg State’s capital city than the insurance industry, homes that Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe used to live in and heartbroken Whalers fans. There are doughnuts.
Located on the city’s west side — not too far from the domiciles of the authors of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” — is Tastease, an establishment that serves up what it describes as “mini and midi donuts,” all for the good of mankind, if not its waistline.
Their midi donuts — bigger than a mini doughnut, not as big as a regular size doughnut — are cake varieties, in all flavors and colors. Want vanilla oreo? It’s there. How about apricot glazed? Check. German chocolate? Um-hmm. Red velvet? Yep. Dulce de leche? But of course.
The list of flavors and their decorative counterparts goes on and on. A collection of Tastease midis are at first a rush to the eyes, then to the taste buds. The beauty of the midis’ size is that one may sample twice as many at half the volume of a regular-sized doughnut. Truly a prized nosh.
August 14, 2014
DENVER — Here in Colorado’s Mile High City, the humble Duffeyroll has been staving off hunger pangs since 1986, a cinnamon roll with simplicity that belies its buttery, sugary goodness.
As the starch industrial complex moves from fetishizing cupcakes to doughnuts, something as “been there, done that” as the cinnamon roll has, perhaps, been left behind. Or perhaps its time will come yet. Who knows? In the meantime, the Duffeyroll abides.
The original Duffeyroll has been complemented in the intervening years by other flavors — Pecanilla, English Toffee, Zesty Orange, etc. — as well as a pecan sticky bun. They’re all good, too. But the original is a graceful classic, the black cocktail dress of breakfast desserts.
August 5, 2014
DENVER — Here in what used to be called North Denver — then Highlands, then LoHi — there’s a restaurant that does something that feeds the masses in an exemplary way, combining Italian and Mexican influences to produce a savory canoli.
Lechugas Italian Restaurant and Lounge is a place that has been here through various phases of this neighborhood as reflected in its name changes. North Denver was an Italian enclave, Highlands was Hispanic and LoHi is riding the latest wave of gentrification here in the Mile High City. Lechugas combines those first two influences — the first owners were Italian, the current Hispanic — and spreads the love in its menu.
The canolis, dense rolls wrapped around sausage and peppers, are available in mild and hot and are a smoking bargain at $2 a piece. More than one is a meal. More than two is a party. More than three feeds the hungry — and then some — who assemble here at 3609 Tejon Street. The sweetness of the roll beautifully complements the spicy sausage and peppers. This is grab-and-go noshing at its best. No surprise that among the vehicles you see coming for lunch and take-out is a hefty dose of contractors’ trucks.
On the way out after lunch, I asked for a takeout menu. No dice. There’s no website, either. They don’t need it. People who come here know exactly what to order.
July 29, 2014
Try as we might, it’s difficult to think of a better snack than the humble chocolate chip cookie. There’s something about the combo of chocolate chips, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter and the like that satisfies that most basic instinct to nosh.
Batter Bowl Bakery at 403 H St. NE makes a chocolate chip cookie for the ages. Whether it’s BBB’s obvious flaunting of the butter threshold, the cookie’s balance of bitter and sweet or its weighty appearance, this nosh is one for the ages.
July 22, 2014
Bring us your beef, chicken or vegetable Jamaican patty at Sunshine Caribbean Cuisine.
Located in the basement of Washington’s Union Station, tucked away in a corner that was probably at one point a train tunnel, Sunshine serves up pan-Caribbean cuisine, such as oxtail or goat lunch plates, pholourie and cocoa bread. Its simple Jamaican patties, though, are the perfect, and cheap, grab-and-go nosh. Two bucks gets you one of these caloric pastries.
These Hot Pocket/empanada/what-have-you cousins contain a little something for everyone. The vegetable patty, a sort of succotash pie, is a creamy delight with a little kick to it. The beef is the spiciest of the bunch, and the humble chicken patty starts off like chicken salad and ends like hot sauce.
July 18, 2014
If it’s summer in the capital region, it’s time for beer, crabs and Old Bay. And sometimes, it’s good to combine as many as possible in one package, such as Flying Dog Brewery’s Dead Rise Summer Ale.
The Frederick, Md.-based brewer’s latest mad scientist concoction, complete with Ralph Steadman bottle art, has been popping up more and more in Washington. I purchased my latest six pack at Hayden’s Liquor Store at Eastern Market, and partook of a flowing tap at Kelly’s Irish Times on Thursday.
For those counting themselves at Old Bay skeptics, give it a whirl. The celery salt brininess makes a nice baseline in the peppy ale. For those who can’t get enough Old Bay, you won’t need Roll Call After Dark’s encouragement to potentially overdo it with your table full of steamed blue crab by adding Dead Rise as your beverage of choice.
And if you’d like to go to the source, you’re in luck! This Saturday, Flying Dog is hosting its outdoor music/beer drinking session at its Frederick facility, with musical guests Lucero.
Questions? Flying Dog has an FAQ page for all your Old Bay-laced beer curiosity.
July 15, 2014
Doughnuts from a place that made its bones on cupcakes? In the case of the chocolate-frosted, chocolate sprinkle fare at Curbside Cafe, the answer is yes.
Regardless of whether you are a “doughnut” person or a “donut” person, the brick-and-mortar baking HQ of the Curbside Cupcakes empire at 257 15th St. SE offers a delicious addition to our favored starch-heavy dessert ranks. There is no shortage of doughnut offerings in Washington these days, with the likes of Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, GBD and District Doughnuts.
Curbside provides a no-fuss option, simply a nice yellow or chocolate cake doughnut that lets the flavors fly. It’s baked, not fried, which is kind of surprising, considering how good it tastes, how well it holds together (minimum crumbliness) and how satisfying it is. Its frosting complements, rather than dominates. Its sprinkles top don’t distract. Its cakeiness anchors it all splendidly. Doughnuts: They’re not just for breakfast anymore.
June 30, 2014
Independence Day in Washington is like Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa., a patriotic palooza. As if the stakes couldn’t be higher on the grandest stage at the capital of the free world, we could, possibly, be treated to yacht rock legend Michael McDonald singing “Sweet Freedom” with the Muppets as a follow-up act.
Of all the major holidays, D.C. really shines (or smokes, or swelters) on Independence Day, with the capital city coming alive with fireworks, concerts, Major League Baseball and even a fairground with midway rides.
Sure, the National Mall is the big gathering spot in D.C. for watching the fireworks come Friday evening, with the temporary concert venue on the West Front of the Capitol all set to blast tunes from everyone from McDonald to the Muppets to Frankie Valli for the Capitol Fourth celebration. What a fool believes! But the Mall and the Capitol grounds are not the only places to watch the pyrotechnics, not by a long shot.
Any higher ground vantage point, whether it’s Meridian Hill Park or the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Monument in Rosslyn, Va., or the roof of a pal’s apartment building will offer all the views with fewer sweaty souls jostling for precious few spots.
The fireworks and Capitol Fourth are a small component of the festivities, though.
The Washington Nationals, fresh from a Midwestern road swing in Milwaukee and Chicago, are back for a homestead against the Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. On Friday, the Nats will play the Cubs in an 11:05 a.m. game that will feature lots and lots of flags and many beer cans emblazoned with Old Glory. Fireworks are usually to be had. Such an early game lets everyone get out in plenty of time to find their ways to the Mall, Capitol or that pal’s apartment building.
And let’s not forget about the D.C. Capital Fair at beloved RFK Stadium, which started June 27 and extends through Sunday. We might not be a state or have a vote in Congress, but we’ve got a fair, complete with a ferris wheel, a petting zoo and wolf show (no word on whether Nats outfielder Jayson Werth will be attending) and illusionists, hypnotists and plenty of greasy food. This week through Thursday, the fair runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Starting Friday and going through Sunday, it runs from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Yacht rock, baseball, things blowing up in the night sky, fried food and carnies. What’s more American than that?
June 18, 2014
Do you know which Koch brother wanted to date Marla Maples, but thought better of it after Donald Trump picked her up?
How about which Koch brother donned a “Captain Koch” costume at the Wichita Gridiron Club?
Do you know which Koch brother wrote a play that provided source material for the film “Shakespeare in Love?”
How about which Koch brother opened up a bookstore, a John Birch Society bookstore?
Did you even know there were four Koch brothers? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., only talks about two of them, Charles and David, while leaving Bill and Frederick largely out of the equation.
Mother Jones Senior Editor Daniel Schulman tells the tale of the K-Bros masterfully in his new book “Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty,” and he’ll drop by Roll Call Book Club on Thursday night to discuss not just the history of the Koch family and its behemoth Koch Industries, but the people behind it.
Be prepared. These folks play hard ball, especially with one another for control of a vast enterprise. How else to explain the Koch brother who subpoenaed his own mother, after she’d had a stroke, to testify in a lawsuit?
Drop by our free event at Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, starting at 6 p.m. Wine, snacks and books included. Register at Hill Center’s website.
June 17, 2014
It’s good to know all this eating isn’t going to waste: Washington, D.C., has landed itself on Livability.com’s list of Top Ten Foodie Cities for 2014.
Livability, the list-tastic media venture that loves to compile best downtowns, kid-friendly places and etc., likes to spread the wealth around in the list of Foodie fave towns and cities. In previous iterations, they kept the criteria to smaller cities and highlighted places that wouldn’t necessarily survive a head-to-head matchup with, say, New Orleans. In their 2013, list, for example, nearby Alexandria, Va., was on the list.
Roll Call’s own Warren Rojas can vouch for how much folks in D.C. like to eat. Check out some of his own coverage in our Hill Life Food and Drink Archive.
This year, Livability’s foodie-ranking criteria included the following:
• Frequency that residents eat at local restaurants
• Amount that residents spend on food
• Access to healthy food options
• Number of farmers markets
• Number of restaurants
• James Beard Foundation Award winners
So here’s to D.C. Now go out and eat something!
June 15, 2014
Think it’s going to be a busy week in the Capitol, what with a full legislative calendar and House leadership elections? There’s just as much going on in the outside-work calendar, including a throw-down between members of Congress and the media and a telling of the Koch brothers’ tale.
The 6th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game is Wednesday night, and the trash talk is flying, including a radio “Softball Smackdown” featuring Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Huffington Post scribe Jennifer Bendery on the Bill Press Show. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Eventbrite. Proceeds benefit the Young Survival Coalition. The opening pitch is at 7 p.m. at the Watkins Recreation Center at 420 12th Street SE.
One of Washington’s high-profile film festivals, AFI Docs, gets underway Wednesday, with an opening night show at the Newseum of “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey,” by Scott Teems. Actor Hal Holbrook, who has been portraying Mark Twain on stage for more than six decades, will be on hand to introduce the film. The festival, which as a full slate of 84 films, runs through June 22 at various venues in D.C. and Silver Spring, Md. For tickets and showtimes, visit the festival website.
Roll Call Book Club returns Thursday night, when we’ll sit down with Mother Jones Senior Editor Daniel Schulman to discuss his new book, “Sons of Wichita, How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty.” In case you don’t check in on the Senate floor every once in a while, the Koch brothers are kind of a big deal. However, the K-Bros that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made into Democrats’ bete noire, Charles and David, are only half of the brood. Schulman’s biography serves up juicy bits on the eldest, Frederick, who’s a patron of the arts, and Bill, David’s fraternal twin, an America’s Cup winner and to this day a bitter rival to Charles and David. This free event, complete with wine, cheese and a book giveaway, starts at 6 p.m. at Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Please register on Hill Center’s website ahead of time.
Friday is the day we wrap the voting for the annual Roll Call Taste of America contest. Pulling for the deep-sea heavyweight, Maine’s lobster rolls? Want to make sure Iowa bacon wraps itself in victory? Trying to make sure Maryland crab cakes scuttle to victory? Then vote at rollcalltasteofamerica.com. The winner will be announced at the following week’s 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.
June 6, 2014
The riff on the Fat Sean Connery “Diamonds are Forever” James Bond installment boasts vanilla custard, coconut icing doughnut from nearby Astro Doughnuts, strawberry jam and sprinkles.
Let’s rewrite an immortal scene from a better Bond flick, shall we?
Bond: “Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?”
Goldfinger: “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to go into a food coma!”
June 2, 2014
This is a good week if you like to drink beer, ride a bike and eat doughnuts and Nashville hot chicken.