Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’


Image credit: theworld.org

That’s desert, not dessert.  Click here (audio) to find out what a “food desert” is. Full transcript here.

Food deserts are something you definitely notice in certain neighborhoods in Washington, DC.  In the past few years, gentrification in Columbia Heights has radically changed the selection in grocery stores and even takeout food.

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Pret a Manger is a new sandwich shop imported to the U.S. from Britain.  But don’t let that deter you! (Sorry ;-)) The pilot has already taken off in (notoriously cutthroat) NYC, which now has about 20 restaurants.  Sometime around January 2009, Washington finally got one, too.  I tried Pret yesterday and can happily report that it’s a welcome new lunch option downtown.

The concept is in the name. “Pret,” I’m told, is French for “ready,” as in, “ready-to-wear fashion.” So “Pret a Manger” puns on the phrase “ready to eat,” meaning both prepared food and hunger.  Pop into one of the slick cafes and you’ll find a wall-length refrigerator stuffed with an impressive assortment of “just made” sandwiches, wraps, salads, yogurts, and juices. The sandwiches can be purchased in whole or halves—convenient for soup-n-sandwich types and variety lovers. On Friday, I fell into the latter camp: pret-half-sammies And the food? (more…)

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For you locals, there’s a fun event coming up with Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn @ 6th and I Synagogue.

Spike Up the Matzah


Sunday, March 22, at 6:00 p.m.

“Matzah brei, matzah pizza, matzah mania! Chef Spike Mendelsohn dazzled us last December with his suave latke-making skills. Just in time for Passover, he’s back with recipes to rev up your matzah. Matzah Master Spike will offer an entertaining demonstration of how to create 10 tasty meals, snacks and treats with matzah. And who knows, maybe Spike’s mom will join him on stage again? The cost of the event is $9.”

Tickets are available on this website.

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Today, I reached sandwich nirvana.  Do you ever eat felafel, those little croquettes made of chickpeas, fava beans, bulgur, parsley, and a medley of savory spices?  They’re often done wrong—restaurants typically pre-fry them in big batches and just reheat as needed.  Not surprisingly, this turns them into overcooked, bland, oil-logged little hockey pucks, tolerable only when drowned in hummus and yogurt sauce.

Thankfully, a new eatery in Adams Morgan, called Shawarma King, has reinvented felafel.  They’re made to order—shaped by hand and quickly deep fried.  Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, they are fragrant with garlic and enough herbs to turn the insides green. 


The quality of ingredients and the attention to detail at Shwarma King bring it to the next level.  To get started, dress your flatbread-wrapped felafel with assorted homemade toppings at the condiment bar.  My faves were the salty pickled beet/turnip/cabbage slaw and a thick Greek-style yogurt with cucumber and tomatoes.

toppings   topings-bar (more…)

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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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Martha Stewart takes a lot of flack for pushing all things rich and fattening, but you know, she’s met her match in Paula Deen.  Paula just can’t stop herself: an extra pat of butter here, a hearty dollop of bacon grease there.  And she has a sense of humor—something Martha can only aspire to.  Just check out the mischievous look she flashes at 00:00:14 in this video.  She can barely contain her laughter.  It’s clear she’s up to something very, very naughty.

Credit: Food Network

And is she ever.  It all starts out innocently enough with a chilled tray of macaroni and cheese.  But then Paula pulls out all the stops.  Hey folks, why don’t we dip this here mac in egg and bread crumbs?  And what do you say we deep fry it? I know—let’s be really decadent and wrap it in bacon first, just for the hell of it!

It’s a slippery, lard-greased slope, my friends.  I swear this entire segment must have been the result of a bet.  Paula claims the recipe came in a chance moment of inspiration: “A lot of recipes kind of come to you by accident. . .”  What she fails to mention is that she just won $50 by getting bacon-wrapped, deep fried mac ‘n cheese squares onto national television.  Beat that, Martha!

For some, more is…more.

For the uninitiated: the Red Derby bar here in D.C. serves fried mac ‘n cheese triangles.  Yes, I enjoyed them.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.

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