PS7's Gina Chersevani with Alice Waters

If our math is correct, Alice Waters’ Sunday Night Suppers helped to raise more than $100,000 for the DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table for the second year in a row.  The 15 all-star dinner parties were limited to 20 guests each, and they featured some of Washington’s best and most established chefs.  But they weren’t the only way to help support these great causes this time around.

In an effort to engage the next generation of savvy and (hopefully) active foodies, Waters and company organized a pre-game called Sunday Night Sips.

Everything about this luxe cocktail reception was planned with a younger audience in mind, from the scaled-back price point to the collection of up-and-coming chefs whose dishes were featured to the high-end cocktails poured by three of DC’s finest craft bartenders.

We were invited to tag along and document the event, and we eagerly accepted.  What awaited us in hosts Greg Nelson and Jose Cunningham’s beautiful home was three floors of food and drink that were designed to impress.  Whether it was Will Artley’s BLT Gnocchi (a favorite we’ve ordered at Evening Star Cafe) or Owen Thompson’s Tequila Milk Punch, each taste packed a flavorful punch.

The evening in images (Who am I kidding? There are plenty of words, too) after the jump. (more…)

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On the eve of President Obama’s inauguration last year, top chefs, writers and artists from all over America descended on Washington to put on Art. Food. Hope. They served up a dozen amazing meals, inspired numerous conversations about what the new administration could do to show its commitment to sustainable agriculture, healthy food culture, and solutions to hunger.  Needless to say, the dinners were completely sold out, and they raised more than $100,000 for local charities like Martha’s Table and the DC Central Kitchen.  As luck would have it, we here at Capital Spice were even lucky enough to be at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market that Sunday morning when Alice Waters and several other participating chefs stopped by to pick up some ingredients.

Ris Lacoste, Barton Seaver and Alice Waters with representatives from FreshFarm Markets, Martha's Table and DC Central Kitchen

They figured it worked so well last time, why not try it again this year?  In the same spirit as last year’s event, Jose Andres, Alice Waters and more than two dozen local and national chefs will be working to put on 15 dinners on Sunday, January 24th.  To make it even more interesting, this year they’ve added a “Sunday Night Sips” cocktail reception to precede the “Sunday Night Suppers.”

With seating at each dinner limited to 20 guests, intimate doesn’t even begin to describe this.  These are basically command performances by most of Washington’s most celebrated chefs, with a handful of imports from as far away as San Francisco thrown in for good measure.  Four courses and conversation, with the goal of continuing all of the positive impact that came out of last year.

Have dinner plans for Sunday, the 24th yet?  Check out the list of participating chefs after the jump and get some more information on how you can get involved. (more…)

art_of_simple_food_book_jacketAs part of our ongoing effort to try new (and non-cream-based) soups this winter, we once again turned to Alice Waters’ Art of Simple Food this week.  Big surprise, right?  The book has quickly become our go-to source for recipes that are straightforward, tasty and loaded with unprocessed ingredients.

In response to the increasingly chilly weather, we found ourselves drawn to a recipe for Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup – a combination that sounded hearty and warming, to be sure.  The connection between cooler temperatures and butternut squash gets us every time (as evidenced by those amazing turnovers Elizabeth made for our Fakesgiving dinner), and the addition of white beans promised to thicken the soup while making it that much better for us.

Of course, we couldn’t allow ourselves to be TOO healthy.  A dinner party hosted by our friend Nell resulted in a windfall of spiral-sliced ham that was just begging us to put it to good use – who were we to refuse?  Frankly, we were more than a little surprised that Waters hadn’t thought to suggest the addition of ham, bacon, or some other salty meat product as one of her handy-dandy “variations” that accompany most of her basic recipes.

Ingredients, preparation and delicious results after the jump. (more…)

turkey-detailSometimes it all comes together just a little too neatly.  You’re trying to eat healthier, focusing primarily on foods as they exist in nature.  You’ve just smoked a turkey and you wish there were something more you could do with the bones.  And you KNOW that kale is really good for you, but you just can’t seem to find a recipe that makes it, well, edible.

Enter Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food.  Time and again, this cookbook/kitchen lifestyle guide has provided us with inspiration as we’ve tried to figure out ways to eat better without sacrificing flavor or having to seek out hard-to-find ingredients.  When it comes to that most unwieldy of Thanksgiving leftovers, the turkey carcass, Waters comes through in a big way.

turkey-stock“Big deal,” you may say, “My family has been making turkey soup (or skeleton juice, as it’s known in Elizabeth’s family) for decades!  We don’t need Alice Waters to tell us that.”

I don’t care if your family’s recipe for turkey soup came from Squanto himself at the first Thanksgiving, you’ll want to check out Waters’ recipe.  The addition of hearty kale and sauteed mushrooms elevates this from leftover disposal system to a cravable meal in and of itself.  And in our case, the brining and smoking that we put the turkey through resulted in an even more complex and flavorful broth.

The recipe and what we learned from our second attempt to smoke a turkey after the jump. (more…)

canned

“We should totally try to make these at home.”

In a lot of cases, as frustration mounts and the joy of recreating something you’ve loved in a restaurant falls victim to repeat failures, this phrase soon turns into “Whose stupid idea was this anyway?”

But a helping hand from a pro like Alice Waters can go a long way toward preventing such disappointment, as I learned this weekend when raw-materialsI attempted to make pickled vegetables like the ones we enjoyed at The Spotted Pig in New York last month.

While looking for another recipe in Waters’ newest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, I came across her oh-so-easy directions for making quick-pickled vegetables.  I knew I had to give it a shot, to see if it even came close to the tangy goodness of the green beans, beets and other veggies we had in New York.

Details on produce, prep, pickling and palate after the jump. (more…)