Archive for the ‘Libations’ Category


My lovely cell-phone “action” shot from the Polish Embassy last year.

For a few weeks every spring, the embassies in Washington, D.C. open their doors and invite visitors to sample the music, dance, crafts, and food native to their countries.  Yours truly has attended Passport D.C. twice and always enjoys the quickie tour around the world.  One of the constant highlights of the festival is the cuisine, which (I think) conveys as much about the history, geography, and values of a place as its wikipage.  Besides, when else can you justify consuming baklava, pilau, and rum punch on the same day?

To cut to the chase: here’s a handy cheat sheet for eating your way through Passport D.C,  which will be held on Saturday, May 2, from 10 am-4 pm.  For more information, check out the official website.

Sample Australian eats to the sounds of the didgeridoo.

Bangladesh’s cultural heritage and vibrant people will be on display through dance, film, music, literature, and cuisine.

Enjoy delicious local food and learn to prepare it! (more…)


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What it’s made of:


combined with water, sugar, carbon dioxide, natural caramel flavor, and caffeine from coffee beans.

Answer after the jump. (more…)

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If there is a better way to spend Valentine’s Day than sipping cocktails side-by-side in a secret candlelit bar, I don’t know it.  Especially when some of those drinks involve handmade sour mix and a lovely, not-too-sweet almond liqueur from Portugal:

Ferreira Duque Doirinhaferreira-duque-doirinha

Doirinha is strikingly similar to amaretto, but less cloying and intense.  It makes a perfect sour and would also be good with soda and a generous squeeze of lime juice (my favorite way to drink its sister spirit). 

Online sources list Doirinha at around $12 (far cheaper than Disaronno!).  I’ll have to check whether anyone in D.C. carries it.

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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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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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A couple of nights ago, I had my first encounter with Nepali cuisine at Adams Morgan’s Himalayan Heritage restaurant.  It was fun exploring the menu, which isn’t intimidating if you’re familiar with Indian food.  Our waitress graciously guided us through the Nepali offerings and recommended chicken “momo,” or steamed dumplings ($9.95):



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Happy Inauguration, everyone!

To commemorate this historic day, take a cue from our new Commander-in-Chief, who believes in the audacity of flaky goodness:

In some public appearances, the president-elect has shown a clear interest in pie.

This wonderful credited to Scott Olson/Bloomberg News

If pie’s not your thing (or if you’re less enthused about the regime change), an inaugural cocktail might do the trick.

The Lady Michelle (rum, huckleberries, mint, lime, and raw sugar), #44 (muddled cranberries and house-made triple sec with vodka), and the O’Pama (Absolut mandarin vodka, Grand Marnier, pomegranate liqueur, and lemon-ginger syrup) will all slake your thirst, no matter your party allegiance.  Washingtonian magazine has more.

Pie and alcohol: bringing people together since…forever.

More on Obama’s taste at the Washington Post.

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