Wow, You Need Booze!


Curse you, Ted.

You’ve turned the normal order of things upside down with your diner-like offer of “breakfast any time.”  How are we to know when to go to work and when to go home if we can stop in for bacon and eggs at any hour of the day?

And sweetening the deal with homemade versions of classic breakfast pastries?  That’s just unfair.  Are you trying to keep us from ever looking at your lunch and dinner menus?

It certainly seemed that way when I stopped in to Ted’s Bulletin the other day.  It was lunchtime, sure, but that didn’t stop me from zeroing in on the breakfast menu.  I couldn’t help it – I grew up in New Jersey, and there it’s your God-given right to order an omelet and a side of disco fries* at any hour of the day.  Besides – it didn’t seem right to order a burger with a “pop tart” on the side, and I’d heard far too many rave reviews of the frosted treats to not try one myself.

A taste of Ted’s breakfast menu – whenever you choose to order it – after the jump. (more…)

At Capital Spice, we are firmly of the opinion that bubbly need not be reserved for special occasions.  Champagne and sparkling wines are a go-to to cap off a solid work week, sip alongside some salty appetizers, or kick back with the latest episode of Top Chef All-Stars.

For a splurge, we love J Vineyards, out of Napa, and of course Veuve Clicquot.

We’re all over the map for the everyday sparklers. Gruet from New Mexico is a solid choice. Check out The Stir’s rundown of their favorites under $25.

Best Champagnes Under $25: Surprising Taste Test Results! | The Stir.

It’s getting to be that time again.  The monthly DC Food Blogger Happy Hour is set to take place next Wednesday, November 3rd.  It’s the day after the elections, so you’re going to have a reason to come out for a drink regardless of which party you support.  And we’re here to support that.

So is Northside Social.  The neighborhood coffee house / wine bar / all-around enjoyable place to hang out is this month’s location, and we’ll have the back room reserved to give us room to get the party started.  If I know this group, we’ll be spilling out into the rest of the space before too long.

Why Northside Social?  Well, it IS our November Happy Hour.  We wanted to pick a place that offered some cozy warm beverages in case next week is more seasonably cold.  But we also wanted a spot with some solid beverage options as well.  General Manager and Sommelier Alison Christ has certainly seen to that, compiling a wine list that should offer something for everyone (and some choice beers for those who just don’t like wine).

And because the holidays are rapidly approaching, we wanted to try something new and (we hope) fun for this month’s happy hour: a cookbook swap!  Have a favorite cookbook you’ve worked your way through backwards and forwards?  Got a book you’ve been meaning to cook from but you just haven’t gotten around to it?  Bring it with you to Northside Social and trade it for another.  We’ll have a table full of cookbooks for everyone to pick and choose from.  Bring one book, take another home.  Bring two, take two.  It’s a great way to refresh your cookbook collection and see what your fellow foodies have been cooking at home.

We’ll kick off at 6 PM, as usual.  Northside Social is located in Clarendon, just a short walk from the Orange Line’s Clarendon Metro stop.  Head in the opposite direction from Hard Times Cafe along Wilson Boulevard, and you’ll pass a couple of additional foodie destinations: Eventide, Spider Kelly’s and Liberty Tavern (owned by the same folks who bring us Northside Social and Lyon Hall).

If you’re planning to come by, take a second and let us know on the event page over at Facebook.  And if you still haven’t joined the group, sign up to become a member of the DC Food Bloggers Facebook group.  It’s a great way to hear about each month’s happy hour as well as other fun events that come up from time to time.

Any questions?  Drop us a comment or ask on the event page.  We can’t wait to see you there…and Baby Spice may even make an appearance to sweeten the deal.

I have a confession to make: when it comes to Cuban cuisine, my knowledge is pretty much limited to ropa vieja and the oh-so-delicious sandwich with its pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard.  Cuba is a blank spot on my culinary map, and the dearth of Cuban restaurants in the district hasn’t done anything to help that.  But all that can change tonight, courtesy of Cuba Libre.

It’s official.  Tonight is opening night, and after a few days of soft service it looks like they’re ready to go.  The latest in a line of recent DC imports (the original is in Philadelphia and they’ve also got locations in Atlantic City and Orlando), Cuba Libre will be bringing an updated version of Cuban and Latin classics to Chinatown.

If you’re wondering what took so long (besides the fact that Cuba Libre is opening in Washington, DC) you need only look around when you step inside and you’ll see.  The restaurant goes out of its way to make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to pre-revolution Havana…or at least the idealized version of pre-revolution Havana.  It’s like you’ve sneaked onto the set of Godfather II.

No expense has been spared to create that atmosphere.  Above the dining area (the space is two floors high), facades have been created by Kevin Hale with a set designer’s eye for detail.  Stucco building-fronts feature backlit windows and real curtains.  A mural presents a Cuban street scene in one corner of the space.  The long, pale wooden bar was recovered from Havana’s Hotel Nacional.  It’s all tastefully accomplished – this isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean: the Restaurant.

More interior photos and a look at what Cuba Libre offers to eat and drink after the jump.  (more…)

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.

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!

Maybe it’s our status as a tourist destination.  Or maybe it’s a question of smart use of existing resources.  Whatever the reason, Washington has an abundance of surprisingly good restaurants that just happen to be located in hotels.  CityZen, Blue Duck Tavern, Corduroy’s first incarnation: all technically hotel restaurants.  Even some of the biggest names to arrive on the scene in recent memory (BourbonSteak, WestEnd Bistro, Adour) are situated in high-end hotels.

Even among all these standouts, we remain consistently impressed with the restaurants attached to Kimpton hotels in the area.  We’ve made no secret of our deep, abiding love for Poste, and we’ve had positive experiences at Urbana, Brabo, Bistro Bis and Firefly.  In each case the restaurant’s ambience makes it very easy to forget that there’s a hotel here, as well…it just feels like another dining destination.  It’s not until the bill comes and that “charge it to my room” option appears that we’re reminded of the connection.

Image from Morrison House website

A few weeks ago we learned that that’s not the case at every Kimpton restaurant, when we had the opportunity to check out the Grille at Morrison House.  As an incentive to register for the Modern Gentleman series they held last year, Morrison House offered participants a complimentary dinner for two (to show off what you’ve learned).  All that’s to say that we may have had a less than representative dining experience, though it had nothing to do with our status as bloggers.

The kind of meal we wish we could get from room service after the jump.

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So you’re in the mood for a drink but you’re sick of your usual and the last time you mixed something creative for yourself was at that party junior year (and that didn’t go so well).  You’re in luck, as that’s pretty much exactly the kind of problem that Tom and Derek Brown created the Passenger to address.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, next week is your chance to do so with thirty of your closest food blogger friends.  The eleventh installment in our monthly DC Food Blogger Happy Hour series will take place on Wednesday, July 7th at the Passenger.  From 6 to 8 PM you’ll be able to belly up to the bar and try some of their creative (or ultra-traditional) cocktail offerings, or tap into their vast knowledge of spirits to find your next personal favorite.

This month Thrifty DC Cook has taken the lead on organizing the Happy Hour, and she promises plenty of delicious surprises for anyone who comes out to join us.  We are DC food bloggers, after all.  For more information on what’s in store, make sure you check out the event on Facebook.  While you’re there, take a second to respond and let us know if you’ll be coming so we can give the folks at the Passenger fair warning.

The Passenger is located at 1021 7th Street, across from the Convention Center just north of Mount Vernon Square.  Not coincidentally, you can get to the Passenger by taking the Metro to the Mount Vernon Square / 7th Street – Convention Center stop on the Yellow and Green Lines.  Street parking is available – but limited – in the nearby area.

Hope to see you there!

There’s something fitting about this particular Travel Tuesday going up on a Wednesday morning.  A few weeks back, I told you about my trip to New Orleans and my highly scientific study of the Crescent City’s signature sandwiches, the po’ boy and the muffuletta.  Three of each over the course of the trip…not too shabby.

But that pales in comparison to the dedication with which I threw myself into my third and final quest: a search for the best Sazerac in the city that created the cocktail.  To say I’m fond of a well-made Sazerac is a bit of an understatement.  Over the course of my trip I tried no fewer than five different versions of the classic rye-and-absinthe drink.  I even paid a visit to the Museum of the American Cocktail (an impressive collection within the larger Southern Food and Beverage Museum).

I sought the Sazerac in the classics – the bars that claimed it as their own as well as the ones that have likely been serving it since its earliest days.  I tried a few in bars with no obvious connection to the drink besides a commitment to well-crafted cocktails.  I even checked out a Bourbon Street bar’s offering for the sake of comparison.

And what did I find?  Generally speaking, there’s a reason a bar (or a bartender) becomes a classic.  Whether through skill, art or sheer force of repetition, they deliver if you know what you’re looking for.  But beware of any place that claims too close an association with something…you’re apt to find the spirit of the thing lost to the marketing and hype that surrounds it.

After the jump, the making of a Sazerac and a run-down on the contenders for my new personal favorite. (more…)

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