August 2010

We looked around and we couldn’t find a map that collected all of the DC Beer Week events and organized them by date.  So what did we do?  We went and put one together.  Using the details from the Lagerheads’ DC beer events calendar and the DC Beer Week website, we’re pretty sure we’ve compiled all of the events of the upcoming evenings into one color-coded map.

Check it out, and let us know if there’s anything else we should add to the calendar.

Have you been to any of the Beer Week events yet?  If so, what did you think?  And which of the upcoming events are you particularly eager to check out?

No big surprise here, but I can’t wait for the Low Country BBQ at Capitol Lounge on Wednesday night…

Click on the map to check out the details for all of the events taking place during DC Beer Week!

Ask anyone who has ever organized an event: it’s easy to put together the “first annual” version of something.  The challenge comes with the encore presentation…what do you do to prevent your great idea from going down as a one-hit wonder?  To answer that challenge, the organizers behind DC Beer Week have taken a page from Zoolander’s “old school” walk-off rules: Duplicate and Elaborate.

This year, DC Beer Week will take place over the course of 8 days.  It will include more than 30 bars and restaurants highlighting beers from roughly 20 breweries.  And it will even feature a Craft Beer Cruise on the Potomac.  Not too shabby for their sophomore outing.

So what do you need to know to take advantage of so much suds-centric activity across all four quadrants of the city?  Thankfully, the organizers and their partners have put together some great resources to keep track of the who, what and where of each day’s events.

Getting the Party Started:

DC Beer Week kicks off tonight at the Rock n’ Roll Hotel on H Street, NE, with a very special episode of DC Nerd Nite.  Check out Greg Engert, Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s resident beer guru, and other experts as they geek out on topics that address the history, artistry and science of beer starting at 6:30, then stick around for a “rock & barley” show that celebrates the close relationship between beer and music.  Tickets are $10 for one show or $16 for both.

Sticking to the Schedule:

Washington City Paper, which has partnered with DC Beer Week to promote (and in some cases sponsor) the festivities, is here to help.  Or at least The Lagerheads are.  They’ve got every announced Beer Week event on their regularly updated DC Beer Events Google Calendar, and it’s an impressive sight to see.  How often do you have your pick of 5, 9, even 13 beer-themed events in one night?  During Beer Week, it’s a nightly occurrence.  The calendar includes details, location, time and price for each event…everything you need to take full advantage.

Up-to-the-Minute Updates:

The @dcbeerweek Twitter feed is another new addition to the Beer Week toolkit, and it promises regular updates as well as some special offers for followers.

Fritz’s Best Bets:

Fritz Hahn, one of the Post’s Going Out Gurus, knows a thing or two about bars and events in the District.  He gives great advice with his fellow GOGs every Thursday on everything from where to find that perfect indie band to where NOT to have your bachelorette party.  In honor of Beer Week, he’s put together a list of the festivities he’s most excited about.  With 17 events on the list, it’s going to be a busy week for Fritz.  Check out his list and see if there are a few that speak to you, too.  Don’t forget – some of these events require advance ticket purchases or reservations, so act quickly if you see one you’re especially eager to check out.

Know of any other useful resources to help map out your Beer Week strategy?  Let us know in the comments section.  We’re looking around for a Beer Week map…if we can’t find one, we’ll likely make one this afternoon and add it to this post.

Who among us isn’t panting for a break from this summer heat? I’m seeing mirages of golden leaves along the Mall, cozy cocktails by the fire at Tabard Inn, and a parade of tweed prancing down M St. There are certain foods that, despite my cravings, I try to hold off on until the sweet breath of autumn blows into DC. Well, sometimes I just can’t wait. The siren song of Mandu’s pickled spicy flavors were too much to resist one evening so we made our way over to the Logan Circle restaurant to sweat out the heat.

Korean food is uncharted territory for Mike and I. To really get into the cuisine – which I’d like to do – we would benefit from a knowing guide.  Like tourists, we’re familiar with important landmarks like kim chee and bulgoki. but we ack the roadmap that would allow us to get to know the food in a nuanced, authentic way. So, every journey begins with one bite.

We started the meal with traditional kim chee featuring pickled vegetables like green beans and cabbage in addition to a soft tofu. At Mandu, all tables receive complimentary kim chee which is great as it gives novice diners a first taste of the cuisine before they even order. For appetizers we moved on to goo jul mari: a crepe-style pancake rolled with a mix of veggies plus egg and beef.  The rolls were thicker than I anticipated, reminding me of injera, Ethiopian spongey bread. The four rolls were served with a light mustard dressing, complimenting the veggies with a bright tart flavor.

While there is an ocean of Korean foods to chart, I’m always drawn back to the dolsot bibim bap, a hot stone bowl served with sizzling vegetables, beef and rice topped with a soft yolk fried egg. The crackling bowl arrives with each ingredient in its own section, waiting to be mixed together with a spicy bean paste. Taken together this becomes a hearty, soul-fulfilling dish of spicy and earthy notes. I’d put it up against a hot chicken soup as a perfect comfort food on any rainy day of the week.

Mike, meanwhile, went for the deadly delicious combination of spicy chili paste, beef, and thick tubular rice cakes with his duk bok gi. The concoction simmered together with onions and mushrooms rounding out into a robust spicy flavor that brought tears to my eyes and my fork reaching across the table for another bite. I love the texture of rice cakes; Chewy, doughy, and smooth, these are not the same as your Quaker Oats low-cal snack.

As our exploration of Korean food continues, I know I’ll need to branch out to new restaurants. The problem is, Mandu has everything I am looking for: a quality, well-edited menu of traditional fare done well, good service, and perfect people-watching from their sidewalk.

Mandu on Urbanspoon

By now you’ve probably heard it’s Restaurant Week.  It seems like just about every third tweet in our Twitter feed is talking about a completed or upcoming RW reservation, and most local food writers have already offered their recommendations, or a list of participants’ menus, or a passionate argument for or against the concept and/or its execution.  Some have even taken to recycling previous years’ recommendations, as the song remains (mostly) the same.

But we’ve been a little bit distracted this year, and so we haven’t embraced Restaurant Week with the anticipatory fervor we have in the past.  Sure, we made a reservation.  But there are so many more meals between now and then that we could be using to experience new restaurants or revisiting old favorites!

This got us thinking: what if we just heard that Restaurant Week was going on today?  Would there be any prime reservations available at all?

As it turns out, there are.  A quick search of the OpenTable participant list conducted today at noon for a 7 PM reservation tonight yielded 121 restaurants with availability! Sure, it’s Tuesday night and not Friday or Saturday, but that’s still a pretty healthy list of options to choose from.

Some of our favorites include:

A la Lucia (Old Town Alexandria)
Johnny’s Half Shell (Capitol Hill)
Kaz Sushi Bistro (Downtown)

And there are still a number of available “four dollar sign” restaurants (mostly steakhouses), which represent the greatest value for a Restaurant Week meal relative to regular prices.

But what about the marquee nights?

100 restaurants with availability at 7 PM on Friday, including popular options like AGAINN, Cafe Atlantico, and Indique Heights.

107 restaurants with availability at 7 PM on Saturday, including Agora, Kellari Taverna, and the Oval Room.

There are definitely choices (including some highly recommended options) still out there, so don’t worry if you’re late to the Restaurant Week game.  We’ll check in again on Thursday to see what the weekend holds, but don’t wait until the last minute if you see something you want to lock in!

<<EDIT 8/13/10 11:23 AM: Bummer!  Apparently the truck is out of commission for the day.  Red Hook has tweeted:

So, we’re not as weatherproof as our favorite hard-shelled friends and Friday the13th demons struck our truck. So sorry. Hope to roll Mon.

Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and a smooth opening run on Monday!>>

By the time you read this, Red Hook Lobster Pound may have already tweeted the site of their first stop (Brooklyn-based owner Susan Povich has already spilled the beans on their New York feed).  If that’s the case, you can bet that a line is already forming to greet them upon arrival, regardless of weather.  Before Red Hook had served even their first sample, they had more than 1900 followers hanging on their every update about when their mobile lobster shack would be hitting the street.

Well the wait is finally over, and we can say from experience it was worth it.  Last night the team behind Red Hook Lobster DC threw a launch party for some of their most eager fans and media types.  Guests enjoyed tastes of the truck’s signature lobster rolls as well as Cape Cod chips, shrimp rolls, whoopie pies and Maine Root sodas.  We gathered in the grassy park-like space where M and 2nd Streets meet in Southeast, near the Nationals’ stadium. (HINT: Apparently the Red Hook folks thought it was a good location…just saying.)

At the kick-off party we had a chance to meet Susan as well as Doug Povich (Susan’s cousin) and Leland Morris, the guys behind Red Hook Lobster Pound’s Washington operation.  The mood was festive despite the fact that we all huddled under a pair of tents while a storm blew through.  The mobile restaurateurs were effusive with their praise of their DC followers as they shared their excitement to be hours away from opening.

So what was that delectable-looking lobster roll like?  And what do you need to do to be ready when they come to your neighborhood?  Find out after the jump. (more…)

It is a little known musical fact that Johnny Cash Kris Kristofferson was inspired to write Sunday Morning Coming Down while strolling 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Who wouldn’t be? I can’t imagine a more perfect location to lament Saturday night regrets than this particular scene of so many social crimes. Luckily you can bring your Sunday morning right back to its rightful place with a well-timed brunch at Cashion’s Eat Place.

We took in Cashion’s on a bright Sunday morning when the city was still shaking off last night’s cobwebs. The air was warm but not yet steamy. The restaurant was humming but not yet crowded. Baby Spice was sleeping peacefully in her stroller and I was looking forward to enjoying a meal with two hands when… the harmony was broken by Mike talking dirty to his Bloody Mary. It was damned indecent. But Mike is a connoisseur of the drink and it takes no small feat to impress him. This Bloody Mary was on its game: robust, spicy, and not shy with the horseradish. Mike was in brunch cocktail heaven.

It was just the start of a flawless meal. Cashion’s has long been recognized for its take on sophisticated/cozy foods featuring ingredients you may have in your own kitchen but whipped into a flavorful frenzy by the talented John Manolatos. Our brunch entrees kept the joy alive. Mike’s cornmeal waffles may as well have been delivered with a choir of angels. These golden waffles were perfectly crispy with a feathery light interior that would put any duvet to shame. The warm, ripe Virginia peaches were a juicy addition to the flavors. The syrup was served warm. Thank you Cashion’s. When did cold syrup become an acceptable condiment? It ranks up there with rock hard butter as a what-the-cuss-I-may-as-well-be-dining-at-IHOP-for-all-the-attention-to-detail-I’m-seeing-here dining annoyance.The powdered sugar added its intended sweetness but was a little overkill with the ripe fruit and syrup. Still, a killer dish. If all waffles were this good, I’d never leggo that Eggo.

A savory brunch dish and surprising dessert after the jump. (more…)

When faced with an overabundance of summer produce, gardeners choose to do many things. The most obvious choice is, of course, custard.

Other options include an unrelenting parade of salads. Pies. Muffins. Gift baskets to friends. Or, for the truly desperate, shoving all your extra tomatoes, zucchini, or what-have-you into the first unlocked car you can find and booking it out of there , desperately hoping the police do not dust for your green thumbprints.

But back to that custard. The good earthy folks in Del Ray, Alexandria had a simple solution for their zucchini abundance: Take it to the Dairy Godmother. (more…)

In Italian-American family celebrations, there’s a concept known as abondanza.  The direct translation, as you may have guessed, is “abundance.”  But the more realistic translation as embodied by my mother’s approach to cooking is “make sure you’ve prepared enough of each dish so that if EVERY guest were to eat ONLY that dish, there would still be enough for everyone to be satisfied.”  It is in this spirit that Carmine’s arrives in Penn Quarter.

Carmine’s has become something of a New York institution over the past twenty years, a family-style restaurant that manages to balance a more refined atmosphere with a traditional “red sauce” menu.  Portions are huge, with each entree easily serving four, five or even six people.  Assuming guests play it smart and limit themselves to an entree or two for every four diners, it’s entirely possible to leave without dropping a small fortune as most entrees are priced between $20 and $30.

As of last night, Carmine’s is open for business – they’ll be offering lunch service as well starting today.  And I was especially impressed to see that they’ve wasted no time jumping into the Washington restaurant scene: Carmine’s is participating in Restaurant Week (August 16-22) for both lunch and dinner.  No word yet on what they’ll be offering, but it’s commendable that they’re participating so soon after opening.

We had a chance to take a look around the restaurant before last night’s dinner service, and we made sure to grab some pictures for you.  After the jump, take a look at Carmine’s studiously mismatched chandeliers, their ubiquitous menu boards (in lieu of individual menus) and a bar and lounge that are wired to accommodate even the busiest guests.


Things you see when you step into Big Bear Cafe in Bloomingdale:

– tall windows and ceiling fans, giving the space a bright airy vibe
– a woman behind the counter with a giant Obama tattoo on her left breast
– wooden chairs filled with locals enjoying their coffee and the paper
– a friendly barista in Buddy Holly glasses taking everyone’s order and finding a minute to chat with customers
– glass bottle milk used in lattes from Trickling Springs Creamery (the only dairy options are whole milk or soy, for you calorie counters)

You will have time to notice these things because Big Bear Cafe is crowded. And while the baristas were busting through orders as quickly as they could, the wait for my iced latte was long. Long enough for me to notice the $.60 price difference between an (already pricey at $4.20) iced latte and regular latte and get annoyed by it. Long enough to see a seemingly endless stream of customers pop in and and run into a friend or acquaintance, including Mr Buddy Holly Barista who seemed to know everyone.


In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, characters indulge in all kinds of merry making and festive behavior against a backdrop of mistaken identity and comic miscommunication.  We can’t guarantee anything quite that out there, but we CAN guarantee a good time with lots of tasty food and creative cocktails for the twelfth monthly DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour.  This time we’re taking over the bar at TenPenh on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The party gets started at 6 PM and our happy hour specials will run until 8.  If you’ve joined us for one of these evenings before, you know it’s a great chance to put faces and names to some of your favorite local food bloggers.  If you haven’t joined us yet…take our word for it.  The happy hour is open to food bloggers, friends and anyone else who enjoys sharing their opinions about food and drink.

TenPenh is celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, and we’ll be joining in the celebration with half-priced cocktails and a tempting menu of Asian-inspired small plates.  Check in to the DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour event page on Facebook to let us know if you can be there.

See you on Wednesday!

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