Archive for January, 2009

Vinoteca is a wonderful wine bar in the U Street Corridor of Washington, DC.  It’s also conveniently around the corner from Ben’s Chili Bowl, if you’re into late-night noshing after wine.

But I digress.  One reason Vinoteca is such a fun experience is that they offer wine in three portions — tastes, full glasses, and bottles.  And unlike some places, they don’t mark up the price for the fairly generous taste, which comes in at about 50% of the full glass price.  That means you have plenty of opportunity to taste a wide variety and find a new favorite, without killing your wallet or overtaxing your tolerance.

cederberg-bukettraube-20071A recent great find: Cederberg’s Bukettraube (2007).  This South African is much like a Muscat or Gewürtztraminer, but even juicier and less acidic.  This wine also has an absolutely to-die-for nose: take a deep whiff, and it’s all peaches and honeysuckle.  And not in that wine-speakey “I detect notes of peach”-kind of way.  This fruit knocks you over and kisses you hard on the mouth, connoisseur or not.  Fantastic.  (more…)

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Pear Custard Pie Recipe


Here’s hoping pears are still in season, because this pie looks fantastic.  This recipe comes from Taste of Home magazine (my mom subscribes).  Contributor Barbara Rea says, “My daughter CJ baked a pear pie for us once and I’ve made it several times since then. We like it so much that I’ve considered contributing it to bake sales!” (more…)

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…actually, three:


Here’s a simple, 4-ingredient recipe for succulent jerk pork chops.  If you’re noticing a trend in these recipes, I warned you—I got a lot of pork chops on sale. (more…)

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Washingtonian magazine has released its list of the Top 100 D.C. Restaurants.

Petes Apizza, my local pizzeria, made the cut.  But it turns out, it got the nod mainly out of budget appeal, according to food critic Todd Kliman.  Personally, I find the pizza (by the slice) kind of lacking.  Maybe it’s better made-to-order?

Give me Red Rocks pizza any day instead.

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My friend, Jessica, put together a nice little salad based on quinoa (KEEN-wah), a protein-  and fiber-rich grain (or technically, pseudo-grain).  Its flavor is slightly nutty and delicious with fish or anything grilled.

-1 1/2 c. quinoa, steamed with 2-2 1/4 c. water and completely cooled
-1 cucumber, diced
-12-15 grape tomatoes, halved
-1/2 red onion, finely diced
-1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (or substitute fresh parsley)
-approx. 2 Tbsp. olive oil
-sea/kosher salt and pepper to taste

Fold the vegetables and parsley into the cooled quinoa.  Dress with olive oil (adding more as needed), and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Be careful not to oversalt.


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While we’re talking sandwiches…if it’s any consolation, you can bury yourself in a toasty sesame seed bun and processed “American” cheese-product slice:


Photo via Geekology

Facebook has all the juicy details.  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

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A moment of silence to remember the creator of the mouth-watering street snack, the Döner Kebab



Credit: The Local

A German news site, The Localreports:

In sad news for anyone who has been drunk and hungry at 2 am, the man who invented the döner kebab sandwich nearly four decades ago in Berlin has passed away.

Mahmut Aygün, the Turkish immigrant who revolutionised German fast food with his tasty creation, died at age 87 this week after a serious illness.

Aygün came up with the now ubiquitous döner while working at the “City Imbiss” snack shop in West Berlin in 1971. Cutting meat off a huge rotating spit, he was inspired to put it in pita bread and dress it up with vegetables and yoghurt sauce. Selling for two marks, the döner quickly became a staple of German street food alongside Teutonic favourites such as the bratwurst.

Although Aygün went on to considerable culinary success in Berlin, he didn’t make money from the thousands of kebab shops across Germany that copied him because he failed to patent his invention.

Still, he will be remembered by countless legions of döner kebab fans around the world.

“The news of his passing fills me with sadness, but I’m also overwhelmed by a sense of everlasting gratitude,” Andreas Tzortzis, a London-based editor and self-professed döner connoisseur, told The Local on Thursday.

Learning to love the meaty snack while living in Berlin for several years, Tzortzis – who has Greek roots – initially had to overcome his hesitation towards the Turkish treat.

“I actually stayed away from döner during my first two years there, but eventually realised my folly after ravishing my first one at three o’clock in the morning around the corner from my apartment in Prenzlauer Berg,” he said. “After that, the döner gave me comfort during both the deep dark of the Berlin winter nights and the lazy days of summer.”

But for Tzortzis, the divine sandwich created by Aygün almost forty years ago became much more than just good drunk food.  “There were even a few good döner places in Berlin you could enjoy while sober,” he told The Local.

Dying to try one, but find Berlin a bit of a stretch?  Head over to Cafe Divan (Georgetown) or Hamburg Döner (Leesburg) for a bite.  You might also try shawarma at Shawarma King (1654 Columbia Rd., NW ), which approximates (if not replicates) the kebab experience.  I’m not exactly sure what the difference is, so I’ll be investigating.*

*Explanations here and here, but no nice, succinct answer.  This post on chicken shawarma is also vivid.

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