February 2010

Good morning! Is anyone else just dying for a taste of spring? A little warm sunshine…. a trip to VA wine country… the excuse to throw the windows open and let in fresh air? Your calendar is actually wrong. February is the longest month of the year.
The Peeps diorama contest is back! 
A peek into the McDonald’s test kitchen
Frank Bruni wonders at the competitive smugness that surrounds dining in elite restaurants. 
The Bitten Word has advice on selecting a CSA
Young & Hungry reports on the sweet new shop taking up residence in Takoma Park, MD. 
Get the ins and outs of a Taiwanese night market from The Upstart Kitchen. 
Would you pay $110 for a bowl of ramen? 
Best Bites Blog reviews La Fromagerie in Old Town. 
Ben & Jerrys announces plans to go all-sustainable with their ingredients, meaning each item will be from Fair Trade Certified resources.  
Looking for a hearty vegetarian dish? Try The Garden Apartment’s roasted portabella with quinoa.  
Restaurant Refugee mourns the loss of Polly’s on U St.

Endless Simmer wants you to spill the beans on your dream donut.

We don’t usually write about a restaurant the same night we eat there, but there are a couple of circumstances that come together to make tonight an exception.  For one thing, this wasn’t our first rodeo…we’ve eaten at Tallula before and had a great meal every time.  More important, though, is the fact that one of the recommendations we’re about to make has a distinct expiration date: this Sunday.

Along with its fellow Neighborhood Restaurant Group establishments, Tallula is celebrating the Olympics.  Each of the six properties has adopted a country, and they are offering special food and beverage options that reflect that country’s cuisine.  Get your “Olympic Passport” stamped at all six restaurants, and you earn a $50 NRG gift card for use at any of the six.  You’ll also be entered into a drawing for three grand prizes during an outdoor celebration at Evening Star Cafe on Sunday.  If you’re just getting started, you may have a tough time hitting all six in time to make the drawing (though it can certainly still be done!).

Of all the Olympic menu items, there was one in particular that caught our eye (okay, two if you count the poutine at ChurchKey).  We’re suckers for a good pierogi, those Eastern European pockets of dough stuffed with delicious, hearty fare like potatoes.  When we saw that Chef Barry Koslow and his crew at Tallula were taking them on, we knew where we’d be heading.

After the jump, I risk alienating my Russian-American family members with a startling confession. (more…)

In an effort to eat healthier, Mike and I have been hitting up a string of sushi haunts in and around DC. That there is such a palette of sushi options – each with a distinct experience and take on the cuisine – is a great testament to the mainstreaming of sushi in America.

Current: Sushi and Ooonce Ooonce by the Ounce
I stepped into Current and immediately thought I was in the wrong place. Had I stumbled into a skinny jean-eyeliner convention? Music pulsed through the moodlit restaurant where the bar and all available tables were bumping along with it, even on a cold Tuesday night.

Current took up residence where Dragonfly, a sleek lounge, used to be and it seems that the remodelers had to work around the clientele who never left. The scene still focuses on the club/lounge element but serves its bold and beautiful patrons light fare such as sushi and a handful of other Asian-themed dishes. We split a dish of crunchy seaweed salad nicely balanced with a citrus zest.  The vegetable and shrimp, served with a light lime-ginger sauce, come with a surprsingly delicate wrapper, succeeding with a light touch where many kitchens go thick and gluey. Sushi was decent but standard fare. The standout dish was a curious combination of tuna, fresh mozzarella, and asparagus – a surprisingly fresh flavor trio.

Current isn’t in the running to be a regular sushi haunt for us but it is worth a try. I can see it playing the perfect platform for dinner before an upscale girls night out.

1215 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Current Sushi on Urbanspoon

Momo Sushi: New Favorites in Old Town

Momo Sushi, on the other hand, is fast tracking its way to our new favorite sushi destination. It features exactly the perfect qualities that draw us in: fresh, creatively prepared fish, relaxed atmosphere, off-the-beaten path location and friendly service that recognizes a repeat customer. Momo Sushi, slipped into a narrow townhouse in Queen Street, is several blocks away from the most well-worn sidewalks of Old Town.

More on Momo and Sushi-Ko after the jump! (more…)

In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of Washingtonians who blog in what passes for free time.  Washingtonian magazine has definitely noticed, and they’ve been doing readers a service by highlighting a blog every Wednesday in their “Blogger Beat.”  That’s right – a blog about bloggers.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Emily Leaman to see if we’d be interested in participating.  As if there were any doubt.

The results are up today.  Check it out!

And once you’re finished enjoying our sparkling wit, check out some of these previous Blogger Beat posts with our fellow DC Food Bloggers:

With all the snow we’ve gotten this winter, the idea of getting away somewhere tropical and warm is more appealing than ever.  Although we weren’t able to escape this year, we did just that a year ago to celebrate our birthdays.  We rang in 2009 at Jaguar Reef Lodge, an all-inclusive resort in Belize.

The resort was wonderful.  The excursions blew us away.  The food…not so much.

Don’t get me wrong.  Most of the dishes we ordered were tasty, and the portions were certainly generous.  But I was hoping for something a little more authentic than chicken nachos and conch fritters, so I found myself selecting the menu items that seemed to be closest to the kinds of dishes a local might eat: rice and beans with stewed pork, grilled fillet of snapper with fruit salsa, etc.

Even so, authenticity seemed to elude me.  I was getting my fill of Belikin beer (regular and stout, thank you) and seasoning my meals with a healthy dose of Marie Sharp hot sauce, but I was eager to see what a local meal really looked like.  So I borrowed a bike from the resort one afternoon and headed down the road to nearby Hopkins Village.

It was there, in Hopkins, that I finally experienced a truly local dish: the Garifuna fish stew known as hudut.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but everything about the experience was unique.

What is hudut?  Find out after the jump. (more…)

If you’ve got a special someone to impress, Valentine’s Day really does take things to a whole new level.  Sure, we all talk a good game about what a made-up, commercialized holiday it is, and how we really don’t even understand what all the fuss is about in the first place.  But even couples who make a pact to ignore the day are loath to tempt the fates and skip the romance altogether.

Seems like a perfect opportunity to celebrate with a nice meal, right?  Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day ranks right up there with New Year’s Eve on the Capital Spice “worst times to dine out” list.  Prix fixe menus (often at inflated prices), crowds of diners and a general lack of inventiveness mean your meal is unlikely to deliver the romantic message you wanted it to.

A better – if not always safer – option is to take what you know about your Valentine’s likes and translate them into a home-cooked meal.  This year , I took the chance to cook up a three-course dinner for Elizabeth, with the goal of putting together a restaurant-quality meal in our new kitchen.

Along the way, I came across a couple of recipes that are likely to make future appearances in my cooking repertoire – a bright, citrus salad from Jose Andres, a savory duck breast/pear combination and a pie that would bring tears to Mrs. Fields’ eyes.

Colors, flavors and peanut butter cookie pie after the jump.


Even before the first DC Food Blogger Happy Hour ended last September, there were plans to do it again the following month.  The enthusiasm, the camaraderie and the fun were too good to let it go as a one-and-done thing.  But even the organizers had their doubts about whether the happy hours could last through the winter months.

On March 3rd, we’ll be holding the seventh monthly event.  This time we’ll be at Vinoteca, just off of U Street on 11th.  Come join us for a glass of wine – or a few.  Take advantage of the fact that you’re just a short walk from the Metro – and a slightly longer walk from Ben’s Chili Bowl.

The folks at Vinoteca have graciously offered to extend their normal happy hour specials for an additional hour, so we’ll be able to enjoy discounted menu items and as many as 20 wines by the glass for $5 each throughout the event.

If you haven’t joined us for a Food Blogger Happy Hour yet, you’re missing out.  It’s been truly impressive to see the way the local blogging community has really come together at these events over the past half a year.  And I know there are bloggers out there who can attest to the friendships they’ve solidified and the connections they’ve made as a result of these happy hours.

At the event, take a moment to chat with the organizers and share your thoughts about future venues.  We’re always looking for new ideas and we want to continue to highlight great locations in new neighborhoods throughout the area.

Not sure who the organizers are?  Here’s a handy list:

Arugula Files
Beer Spotter
Biscuits and Such
Capital Cooking
Capital Spice
Common Man Eats
Dining in DC
Gradually Greener
Modern Domestic
Thrifty DC Cook
We Love DC

And this month, they’ve added another way to stay in touch with your fellow food fans and bloggers: a Facebook Fan Page.  With more than 80 fans and counting, it’s a great snapshot of the DC food blogging community and a way to keep up to date on where and when events are happening.

Hope to see you there!

When storms like SnoMageddon hit DC, communities emerge. Few of us escaped those powdery weekends unscathed and without social stories. Twenty-something transplants may have found themselves cross-country skiing to a friend’s place with a case of beer to toast the snow in style. More settled residents emerged to check on elderly neighbors and shovel out pathways. Communities are a tricky thing. What defines one? How do you know if you live in a community versus a random collection of homes? One real estate guru opined that a true livable neighborhood is any place you can be served breakfast within walking distance of your front door.  For many DCers, that walkable breakfast is replaced with a caffeinated beverage from a local purveyor.  

Residents of the H St corridor have three coffee options just steps from their stoop: the delightful Ethiopian Sidamo, the true coffeehouse (with booze!) Sova, and the unassuming corner stop Ebenezers. Operating within a bean’s throw from Union Station metro on 2nd and F St NE, Ebenezers has been pouring  fair trade coffee to local residents since 2006. 

Ebeneezers is the longest tenured of the H St trinity coffee shops  and receives the least attention. Perhaps local beanheads, many of whom may not have been around in the pre-H St-is-a-hip-place days, take it for granted as the first coffeehouse stake in the ground. What it lacks in Sova’s living room cool or Sidamo’s everybody knows your name vibe in makes up for in gales of natural light and friendly service. 

Patrons mirror the neighborhood demo: mostly 20something. Mostly professional. Dogs are more common than strollers. On warm summer evenings (remember those?), friends run into eachother on the generous front patios while DC’s dedicated workaholics continue to stream by from Union Station on their way home. Sunday morning sippers may be surprised to hear worship services booming from the basement: Ebeneezers is run by a local church. Agnostics needn’t fear; Ebenezers isn’t a proselytizing beard. I like to think of it as a bonus that my morning coffee will be served by a fresh-faced barista who woke up hangover-free that morning, unlike other favorite caffeine haunts (cough::Peregrine::cough).

Ebenezers Coffeehouse
201 F St NE
Washington, DC 20002
Ebenezers Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

Sure, there are enough restaurants here in Washington to keep even the most dedicated diner busy.  But a love of good food – and a desire to experience it wherever we go – has led us to all kinds of great restaurants around the world.  We’ve already told you about a few of them from time to time.

Starting today, we’re launching a new feature here at Capital Spice – Travel Tuesdays.  We’ll be sharing some of our favorite road trip eats, destination dinners and even some international meals.  Sometimes we’ll focus on a specific dish or cuisine, other times we’ll offer our dining experiences.

And what better way to kick off Travel Tuesdays than with a visit to New York?  There are so many places to eat – and eat well – in New York.  Every time we go, we try to check out something new.

But we often find ourselves gravitating toward the Village.  There’s something about the narrow streets that spill into one another and the neighborhood feel that make it our favorite place to stay in the city.  It offers an exciting blend of high-end and low-rent restaurants, too…we rarely leave the neighborhood and still find ourselves with too many choices and not enough time.

On our most recent trip to New York, we crossed a few more places of our “to try” list:

The Little Owl

This postage-stamp sized corner restaurant in the West Village champions the holy trinity of neighborhood restaurants: intimate, seasonal, and friendly.  Needless to say, the combination makes it difficult to get a seat on a prime dining night.  After settling into our rented apartment, Mike and I took a quick stroll around the neighborhood and ooohed when we turned the corner to find The Little Owl with – could it be? – tables open on a Friday night.  We were seated without a fuss and our timing was impeccable: the restaurant was completely full within 15 minutes.

The space is even lovelier from the inside. Small-top tables benefit from soaring floor to ceiling windows that allowed light to pour in, bathing the lucky few diners in a soft gold evening light.  The service lived up to its renown with prompt, friendly attention and happy recommendations on the menu. The menu is not extensive – a handful of entrees and small plates – but focuses on seasonal ingredients of good quality.  We started with an appetizer of ricotta cavatelli with fava beans, pecorino cheese, and a rich tomato broth I would have eaten for 3 days straight given the chance.  The Pork Chop (named like that on the menu) is a huge, juicy cut of meat that threatens to overwhelm the plate it’s on.  And the raspberry beignets were everything a doughnut should be – hot, airy and sugary.  The Nutella dipping sauce that accompanied them made a rich dessert absolutely decadent.  It was a tremendous meal made even better by the fact that we hadn’t been expecting it.

The Little Owl
90 Bedford Street
New York, NY
Little Owl on Urbanspoon

Check out a few more highlights from Greenwich Village after the jump. (more…)

Empty grocery shelves may be a hardship for those of us who were late stocking up on our milk, eggs and bread, but that’s a temporary inconvenience.  Power outages, while they might cause us a few chilly hours, aren’t likely to put us at real risk of hypothermia.  And losing internet and cable service might be a huge frustration, but they’re not going do us lasting harm.

For those without shelter, however, storms like the one we saw this weekend and the one we’ll see tonight pose a real threat.  Food, warm clothing and a place to stay become dire necessities.  And Washington’s charitable community steps up.

In weather like this, local soup kitchens and meal providers have to swing into overdrive to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for DC’s homeless population.  Shelters stay open twenty-four hours a day.  All of that extra demand takes a toll on the services of groups like Food & Friends and the DC Central Kitchen.

We’ve received notices from both groups looking for extra help to make sure they can provide everything possible to those in need, and we’re printing them here in the hope that you’ll be able to help.


On Thursday, February 11th, Food & Friends needs 20 volunteers to deliver meals, especially those with 4-wheel-drive vehicles.  Those without cars would be very much appreciated in the kitchen, and it would be great if they could come between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.  Volunteers may sign up to chenderson@foodandfriends.org.  This information is also available on our website at www.foodandfriends.org/winterstorm2010.  Without Food & Friends, our clients likely will not eat, so the help of the community is vital.  Meals may be picked up from Food & Friends (219 Riggs Road, NE/Washington, DC) between 10 a.m. and 12 am., we will provide detailed delivery directions, and routes should take no more than 3 hours.  For more information, prospective volunteers may call 202.841.5347.


Volunteer Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am writing to inform you that DC Central Kitchen will be OPEN for business on Tuesday through Friday regardless of any other closures that may be announced in the city.

If transportation does not prove dangerous for you, we hope to see you at the Kitchen so that you can help us make the meals. Here are directions to DCCK: http://www.dccentralkitchen.org/directions.php. We’re just a couple blocks from the Judiciary Square Metro (use the 4th Street exit).

Also, you are very welcome to bring friends, family members or roommates who are not signed up on our online system (all volunteers must be at least 12 years old). We’ve had a shortage of volunteers over the past few days because of the weather, so we have lots of extra prep work that we want to get to.

Carolyn Parham
202-234-0707  X 108
DC Central Kitchen
Volunteer Program Coordinator

If you work with any other volunteer or charitable organizations here in the Washington area and you’d like us to help get the word out about anything you’ve got going on, please feel free to contact us at capitalspice AT gmail DOT com.

Next Page »