August 2008

Much like gourmet burgers and cupcakes, DC is now crackling with tart frozen yogurt shops. Always eager to keep DC’s diners armed, especially if we get to induldge a sweet tooth on the way, we did a tasting tour of the Big Three.  Pictures and comparisons after the jump. 


That weekend trip to Eastern Market not quite the same since Murky Coffee closed?  Been sucking it up and buying your morning latte from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts or – perish the thought – making it yourself at home before heading out?

Pressing your nose up against the glass each time you walk by to try to see behind the newspapers that have obscured the shop from view these past few months?  (Don’t judge…I KNOW I’m not the only one who’s been doing this!)

In any event, your wait is over!  This morning Ryan Jensen and his band of baristas threw open the doors of Peregrine Espresso for free drinks from 7-9 AM.  Facebook friends and those who were just passing by were treated to some of the first fruits of Peregrine’s gleaming La Marzocco espresso machine and their impressive micro-brew rig.

Although they’re not yet open for business (they’re waiting on a health inspection which should happen this afternoon), Ryan hopes to be ready to meet the morning rush at 7 AM tomorrow and then be open for business all weekend.

Images and more details after the jump. (more…)

As it turns out, gazpacho is one of those dishes that everyone seems to have a recipe for, but none of them even come close to matching.  I learned this the hard way this weekend while staring down several pounds of beautifully ripe heirloom tomatoes that I picked up at the H Street FreshFarm Market on Saturday.

If you’ve been to a farmers’ market recently, you know that we are finally enjoying the bounty of late summer produce that our area puts forth: tomatoes in all shapes and sizes, peaches, peppers, summer squash, and watermelons are out in force.  This is the BEST time to visit your local market, as the prices are good and the produce is better.  And with the cost of conventional groceries on the rise, shopping farmers’ markets for your fruits and vegetables is becoming a truly viable option for most Washingtonians.

On my visit, I found myself picking up a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes along with some peppers, squash and eggplants.  I knew that I wanted to make my favorite cold soup, but I was uncertain how best to proceed.  What I found when I consulted some of our more trusted cookbook resources (Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, The Bon Appetit Cookbook) and several internet sources was something of a consensus on ingredients but no clear winner in terms of process.

Rather than following any one recipe to the letter, I opted to take in their combined wisdom and turn it into my own version of gazpacho.  And – in the interest of perpetuating the Babel-like proliferation of gazpacho recipes on the internet – I’m about to share it with you.

Ingredients, process, and an insider’s tip after the jump. (more…)

While peering into the papered-over windows of Matchbox’s forthcoming second location on Barracks Row, I noticed large signs in the windows of Jordan’s 8, the upscale steak-and-sushi restaurant located next door at 523 8th Street, SE.  Intrigued, I walked over to check them out and got a shock.

The sign, posted by the Office of Tax and Revenue, indicates that Jordan’s 8 has had its Certificate of Registration suspended, efffective today.  As I write this, one city vehicle and two patrol cars sit outside the restaurant.

Although I don’t know what caused the suspension at this point, a pair of employees who were walking out indicated that they have been told to show up for work at the usual time tomorrow, suggesting that the problem is temporary and likely to be addressed in short order.  If this suspension has anything to do with the suit brought by Jeffrey Cappolla (also owner of the now-closed Tapatinis on Barracks Row) against partner Amber Lynn Koger, however, it could last quite a while longer.

In the suit, Cappolla alleges that Koger’s capital contributions were financed using funds embezzled from condominium and homeowners associations throughout northern Virginia.  For more on the suit, check out this Washington Post write-up.

And keep watching Barracks Row for more developments – I suspect we’re going to hear quite a bit more about this one before it gets resolved.

When Elizabeth surprised me with a weekend in London last fall, we found our lunch options somewhat limited on Sunday around noon.  As it turns out, many British eateries open late (if at all) on Sundays and, when they do open, they offer a prix fixe menu known as a “Sunday Roast.”  It’s not just a clever name.  The standard Sunday Roast consists of a larger joint of meat that is slow-cooked and served with potatoes and vegetables.  Not exactly haute cuisine, but solid pub fare made to be shared.

Last night, we paid a visit to Chef Jamie Leeds’ newly-opened CommonWealth in Columbia Heights – something we’ve been eager to do since it opened two weeks ago.  Following up on a tip from Metrocurean, we wanted to check out the new gastropub’s take on this UK tradition, so we decided to go with some friends to sample the weekly special.

Roast report and first impressions after the jump. (more…)

A quick hit round up of food in the news…

Wine Spectator Gets Punked: Wine Spectator gave their award of excellence to a non-existent Italian restaurant. Wine critic Robin Goldstein decided to expose the lack of scrutiny associated with wine awards and set up a web site, copy of the restaurant’s menu, wine list (loaded with a handful of well-known wine flops) and – most importantly, according to Goldstein – submitted the $250 entry fee to include the restaurant for consideration. 

Would you like interactive marketing with your coffee?: Dunkin Donuts is testing interactive advertisements in stores that will display messages based on what you have already purchased. 

Hip hop honey bees and Jessica Simpson, beer shill, after the jump. (more…)

The dream finally became a reality for Mike and me last weekend: We went peach picking. The weather was perfect, the yellow peaches at Stribling Orchard were ripe and juicy. We picked peaches right off the branches for a few hours and even snuck a few samples right in the field with peach juice running down our forearms. Afterwards, we were able to top off the afternoon with a few glasses of wine at Naked Mountain Winery, where they have a gorgeous deck and pastoral view of the rolling Virginia countryside. At the end of the day we were relaxed, a little tanner and in possession of about 30 lbs of peaches.

Of course, the best part is finding new and fun ways to devour all these delicious peaches. Over the next couple of days, we’ll post the recipes we’ve tried and liked in case you go peach picking or simply bring home a fuzzy peach haul from the local market.

Peach-Opal Basil Lemonade

We’ve been wanting to try this drink recipe from John Ash’s From the Earth to the Table cookbook since we picked it up while wine tasting in Temecula last year.  It involves a few more steps than your basic frozen or pre-made lemonade but the combination of opal basil (an earthier, purple cousin of the more common sweet basil) and fresh fruit really drew us in. (more…)

A map of RNC sites and recommended restaurants in Minneapolis-St. Paul created by Capital Spice

Here at Capital Spice, we know that both parties have their fair share of foodies who will be making the trek to the national conventions in the next two weeks.

Last week, we teamed up with Mile High Eater to offer our readers who are headed out to Denver some suggestions on where to enjoy the best Colorado cuisine.

This week, we turn our attention to Republican foodies who will be making their way to Saint Paul for the GOP convention.  Going right to the source for our recommendations once again, we found Twin Cities Eats, a terrific blog that has been chronicling the Minneapolis-Saint Paul dining scene for the past two years.  This prolific blogger has reviewed more than 100 restaurants, and her style makes reading through them all a treat.

Find her insider’s view of the top restaurants, the best cost-conscious options, and a selection of additional foodie destinations after the jump. (more…)

It’s just this simple: if you want tasty, authentic Mexican food in Washington, you need to find a way to get to Ann Cashion’s Taqueria Nacional.   

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done for most of us because this carryout tribute to LA’s taco trucks is only open from 7 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday.  Lucky you if you live or work near Union Station and can stop by during the week!  If not, you may want to seriously consider taking a sick day so you can check this place out for yourself

When Elizabeth arrived in Washington after spending her college years in California, she quickly came to the conclusion that the DC Mexican food scene was sorely lacking.  After a few meals of tired tacos and boring burritos, she pretty much gave up on finding anything like what she had previously known and loved.

All that changed earlier this month, when she took her first trip to Taqueria Nacional.


Photo by Ben Schumin, courtesy of Wikimedia

Photo by Ben Schumin, courtesy of Wikimedia

If the half-smoke is Washington’s defining dish, as everyone from the Post Magazine to the Washington City Paper has said time and time again, then Ben’s Chili Bowl is Webster’s dictionary.

Whether you’re a famous celebrity chef or a famous Travel Channel – ummm – traveler, Ben’s is a must.  And considering that Ben’s has been a witness to the past half-century of Washington’s history, is that really a surprise?

This Friday, August 22nd, marks Ben’s Chili Bowl’s fiftieth anniversary, and this icon is throwing open the doors to celebrate with the Washington community in a big way – with an Anniversary Gala Thursday night at the Lincoln Theatre, a Block Party, and an all-day concert at the 9:30 Club.

More about the events, a commemorative book that has just been released, and a few thoughts about the best way to enjoy Ben’s (no, it’s not drunk – though that’s not bad, either) after the jump.


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