Eat Local


Some things are just meant to be.  The stars line up, you find yourself in the right place at the right time, and you’re handed something you didn’t even know you were looking for.  It can be a job opportunity, or a romantic connection, or something even deeper than those.

For us, it was bacon.

On January 26th, Mike read Bonnie Benwick’s profile of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and the Yummy Mummy’s tandem charcuterial endeavor and everything just fell into place.  We were just gearing up to start another one of our Cookbook Challenges – an attempt to winnow our ever-growing collection of cookbooks by attempting a new recipe from each one to make sure we still found the books helpful.  In fact, one of the first books Elizabeth reached for was Mike’s copy of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s “Charcuterie: the Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.”  Although he had received it a little over a year earlier, he had yet to attempt any feats of cured meat.

Enter “Charcutepalooza.”  The article made it sound tasty and fun all at the same time, and anyone who has read at least a few of our posts knows our love of all things brined, cured or smoked.  So we reached out to Mrs. Wheelbarrow through her website and decided to throw ourselves into the challenge along with the hundreds of other bloggers who have signed on.  A contest with some killer prizes has no doubt piqued the interest of some, but most seem genuinely motivated by the spirit that inspired the ladies to begin with.

The process seemed easy enough.  Each month a new pair of challenges is announced, with one for novices and one for those seeking a more intense assignment.  We all agree to work on the challenges ourselves and blog about our results on the 15th of each month.  We’ll continue like this throughout 2011, having cooked our way through a dozen recipes (more if you try both challenges in any given month) by the time we’re through.

So why am I up at 11:30 on a Monday night (Valentine’s Day, no less) waiting for my homemade bacon to reach an internal 150 degrees Fahrenheit?  My delicious, unintentional procrastination after the jump. (more…)

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For two years now, SeamlessWeb has been providing welcome jolts of caffeine to weary New Yorkers from time to time.  Starting today, they’re doing it here in Washington too.  And to celebrate, they want us to give you free cash.  Go figure, we said yes.

Let’s start with the free coffee.

If you were in the vicinity of Foggy Bottom this morning, you may have noticed a bright red truck trumpeting SeamlessWeb’s online food delivery service.  Hopefully you bothered to wander over to find out what it was all about.  If you did, you were part of FreeCoffeeDay!  If not, you missed out.

But don’t worry – the truck is going to be making the rounds for the next three days, stopping at Union Station tomorrow, Dupont Circle on Wednesday and in Chinatown on Thursday.  Each day, you’ll be able to stop by the truck and pick up a free cup of coffee to help get your day going.

And to sweeten the deal just a little bit further, SeamlessWeb is running a Twitter promotion in conjunction with FreeCoffeeDay.  Tweet a photo of yourself enjoying your free coffee to @seamlessweb and the hashtag #freecoffee and you’ll earn a chance at a free $100 SeamlessWeb gift card.

The free coffee doesn’t stop flowing on Thursday.  Starting next Monday, the 14th, and running through to the 27th, you’ll be able to swing by some of the local restaurants you can find on SeamlessWeb’s normal delivery service and score a free cup of coffee from them, as well.  Play your cards right and you’ll be jittering your way through the entire month of February on someone else’s dime.

So what about that free stuff they want us to give you?

How do two $25 SeamlessWeb gift cards sound?  They’re yours for the winning – all you have to do is tell us how you take your coffee, just like that sweet little girl did in the movie Airplane!  The two answers that make us laugh the loudest will win.

Not familiar with SeamlessWeb?  Neither were we, but they’ve been offering online ordering and free delivery from all kinds of restaurants here in DC since 2003.  I did a quick search, and they’ve got 30 restaurants that will deliver right to my office.  I can choose from Indian, Japanese, pizza or Turkish, as well as a wide range of offerings via Takeout Taxi, all accessible through SeamlessWeb’s site.  Use code FREECOFFEE on the site, and you can save an additional $5 on your first order of $10 or more.

When it comes to food, Seth Cooper knows that process matters.  He embraces the “Fresh, Local, Seasonal” ethos and he even makes his own cheese.  But he found himself frustrated over and over again as he tried to bring that mentality to meat.

From 2006 to 2008, Cooper lived in England and enjoyed farmers’ markets right on his street where butchers would bring freshly dressed cuts of meat to sell.  He loved the freshness and the more assertive flavor of the grass-fed beef.  He could ask questions about the differences between breeds of cattle and even between different steaks taken from the same animal.

Upon arrival in Washington, he found a kindred spirit in Jon Wrinn.  Together, the two engineers sought to tear down all the barriers that the meat industry has built up between the farm and the fork.  They visited butcher shops and market stalls trying to find knowledgeable purveyors offering top-quality local meats, but they found that combination in short supply.  They even toyed with the idea of butchering their own animals before buying a cow and splitting it among a group of friends.  They felt so strongly about what they were doing, they traveled to Penn State’s Meat Laboratory to take classes regarding the regulations and procedures governing small-scale butchering operations.

Thankfully, they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t be the only ones who were looking for this, and so they’ve set out to make it easier for others.  Thus was born White House Meats.  Their idea: bring grass-fed, dry-aged, locally-raised beef to Washingtonians in a way that allows them to promote the cause and have some fun at the same time.  Their method: The Meat-Up.

What is a Meat-Up and how can you get the hook-up?  Find out after the jump. (more…)

Image by Brooke Hatfield

In just its second year, the Washington chapter of Meat Week is all over the Internets this week.  Captain Jenelle Dennis (aka BabeBQ) has done a great job of spreading the gospel of ‘cue, and it looks like turnout for this year’s Meat Week will far surpass last year’s.

Want to see what others are saying about Meat Week?  Check it out:

Washington Business Journal
Washington Examiner’s Take 5
Washington Post’s All We Can Eat blog – Jim Shahin’s “Smoke Signals” column
NBC Washington
Northern Virginia Magazine’s Gut Check blog
UrbanDaddy
City’s Best
TBD.com
Girl Meets Food
Kevin’s BBQ Joints (blog)
Zagat Buzz

But enough about us – this update is really about you, or at least it is if you’re thinking about joining us for any of the Meat Week festivities.  We figured you might want to know when to show up each night, not just where.  And as the title of this post suggests, we wanted to encourage you to email Jenelle sooner rather than later if you’re interested in attending either (or both) of the Meat Week Sneak Peek events.

Details after the jump. (more…)

Just when you thought it was safe to hit the salad bar, Meat Week comes roaring back into Washington ready for round two.  Last year, Snowmageddon forced the cancellation of the final two Meat Week events in our area, leaving hungry carnivores unable to enjoy scheduled outings to Branded ’72 in Rockville and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish on Rhode Island Avenue.  Some folks might have taken that as a sign, a warning from on high to repent and change their ways.

Not us.

This Sunday, DC Meat Week will once again provide carnivores with seven nights of barbecued deliciousness at some of the area’s best ‘cue joints.  And for the second year in a row, Meat Week will be one of your first opportunities to check out a highly-anticipated newcomer to the DC BBQ scene.  Some of the venues have stayed the same (we HAD to kick things off at Urban Bar-B-Que again, and you know we wanted take a second run at Mr. P’s), and a couple of recent additions have been added to the list as well.

Perhaps the biggest change in DC’s Meat Week chapter is who’s running the show.  I’ve passed the Captain’s hat to Jenelle Dennis, aka BabeBQ, though I’ll be staying on as First Mate along with David Gootzit.  Jenelle brings an impressive barbecue pedigree to the role – she’s a KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge and one of the architects of the Snackadium.  Seriously impressive.

Check out the full line-up of venues for this year’s Meat Week after the jump, and pay special attention to Tuesday and Wednesday nights: they’re RSVP-required sneak-peeks at two of the best things that are about to happen to the DC barbecue scene. (more…)

We just got an update from the folks at RAMW with a list of fourteen sixteen restaurants that have announced their participation in DC Winter Restaurant Week 2011, and we’ve wasted no time adding them to our map.

The list includes a few of the area’s recent openings as well as several long-time participants who would have been sorely missed.  What does it mean for you?  If you move quickly, you may be able to snag a coveted Friday or Saturday night reservation before everyone realizes these places have signed on.  Quick – head to OpenTable and lock it in!

Click on the image to go to our Google map that locates every restaurant participating in DC's Winter Restaurant Week 2011.

You can see the full list of participants at the official site, and we’ll continue to keep an eye out for additions as they come up between now and the 17th.  The newest participants are:

Asian Spice – Lunch and Dinner
 
Charlie Palmer Steak – Lunch and Dinner
 
Circle Bistro – Lunch and Dinner
 
Cityhouse – Lunch and Dinner
 
Columbia Firehouse – Lunch and Dinner

Current Sushi & Lounge – Dinner Only

Floriana Restaurant – Dinner Only
 
Fire and Sage – Lunch and Dinner

Kushi Izakaya & Sushi – Lunch and Dinner

The Landmark at the Melrose Hotel – Lunch and Dinner
 
MASA 14 – Dinner Only
 
Notti Bianche – Lunch and Dinner
 
Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar – Lunch and Dinner
 
Siroc Restaurant – Lunch and Dinner
 
Tabaq Bistro – Dinner Only
 
Vento Restaurant – Dinner Only

Enjoy!

Twice a year, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) <<EDIT: and the folks over at Destination DC – sorry for the omission!>> give DC diners a good incentive to head out and try one of those places they’ve been meaning to check out: Restaurant Week.  Whether you love these discount dining days or hate them, it’s a safe bet you’re just as quick to check out who’s participating as soon as you hear the next round is public.

Well it’s time.  Just a few minutes ago, RAMW posted the announcement of the dates and participants for DC Winter Restaurant Week 2011 to the official Restaurant Week site.  This year the foodfest will run from Monday, January 17th through Sunday, January 23rd and more than 210 restaurants have already signed on.  OpenTable may have spilled the beans on the dates a bit early, having updated the header on the Restaurant Week page last week before it was officially supposed to talk about 2011, but otherwise RAMW has done an admirable job of keeping the details of Restaurant Week under wraps.

As we’ve done in the past, we wanted to help you visualize just what 210+ restaurants look like – not to mention map out your plan of attack.  Click on the image below to go to our semi-annual, color-coded Google map to figure out where you’ll be lunching and dining from the 17th through the 23rd.  And be on the lookout for some of our fellow bloggers’ usual contributions, like DC Foodies’ and Dining in DC’s menu roundups and lists of restaurants that will be extending their deals even further into the new year.

If you’ve got additional questions – like “Why isn’t that restaurant I’ve been dying to try on the list?” – visit the official site and ask the folks at RAMW.  They anticipate additional participants between now and Restaurant Week, so be on the lookout for updates.

Click on the image to go to our Google map that locates every restaurant participating in DC's Winter Restaurant Week 2011.

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