Tag Archives: Events

Night at The Yards Food Competition: The Results Are In!

19 Oct

Last Friday, I was invited by Living Classrooms to participate as a food judge at their annual Night at The Yards event, benefitting the Foundation’s work of educating disadvantaged youth in the Baltimore-Washington region.

Night at The Yards

Night at the Yards featured over 30 food and drink vendors as well as four amazing musical acts including the Queez Beez, Living Classroom’s own program that gives young girls a platform to sing and dance and generated a great response from the crowd.

Food Judge

Meanwhile, the selection of food vendors was outstanding. Ranging from local breweries such as nearby Bluejacket to soon-to-open restaurants such as Farmers and Distillers (from the team of Founding Farmers), attendees had a wide array of food and beverage to choose from.

Pate de Campagne from Sonoma Wine BarRoasted brisket taco from Agua 301Cava Mezze spreads

So without further ado, here are this year’s winners from the 2016 Night at the Yards:

Best Food: Capital Crab Company

This local food truck and catering company hit it out the park with their jumbo lump crab balls and crunchy, savory hushpuppies.

Crab ball from Capital Crab Company

Crab ball from Capital Crab Company

 

Best Food Presentation: Farmers and Distillers

This upcoming restaurant from the Founding Farmers team not only offered the most generous portion of the event, but also the best presented with its barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider.

Barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider

Barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider

 

Best Booth Setup: Ice Cream Jubilee

The ice cream parlor, which is a just a stone’s throw from The Yards, dazzled with its table presentation with lights, cones, and scoops.

Best Brew: District Chophouse

A pioneer in the District brewery scene, District Chophouse was serving a seasonally appropriate Dunkelweizen that was a hit amongst the crowd.

Best Cocktail: Lavagna

The Capitol Hill establishment warmed patrons up with their autumn maple bourbon cocktail.

Congrats to the winners as well as Living Classrooms for putting on a very memorable event!

Night at The Yards: Friday, October 16

5 Oct

What better way to spend a Friday evening than under the big top at The Yards for an evening of food, drink, and music benefiting Living Classrooms, a nonprofit organization that strengthens communities and inspires young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as “living classrooms.”

LivingClassrooms

Night at The Yards will feature music by New Orleans funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk as well as D.C’s own Queen Beez. And with over a dozen food and beverage sponsors ranging from Bluejacket to Osteria Morini, Night at The Yards will be a memorable event for an even greater cause.

Tickets are $110 in advance and $120 at the door with the festivities kicking off at 7pm at the D.C. waterfront. Hope to see you there!

Mark Your Calendar: Dining Out for Life is This Thursday!

22 Apr

Dining Out for Life

If you’re going out to lunch or dinner this Thursday, be sure to dine at one of the 100 restaurants participating in Dining Out for Life, the annual fundraising event where a percentage of your bill will be donated to Food & Friends to support its mission of delivering nutritious meals to children and adults facing HIV/AIDS and cancer. You can find a complete list of participating restaurants here, as well as a list of participating restaurants that accept reservations via OpenTable. So on Thursday don’t cook in, dine out for life!

International Champagne Day at Weygandt Wines

10 Nov

I used to live in Cleveland Park (and in Van Ness prior to that), so I became very familiar with that particular stretch of Connecticut Avenue. Being that there is so much at our doorstep in Bethesda, I don’t go back to my old neighborhood as often as I would like. Given the recent resurgence of new establishments opening in Cleveland Park, it’s nice to see the area continue to change and develop.

Weygandt Wines

Just last week, we were able to attend an event at Weygandt Wines to celebrate International Champagne Day. It’s hard to imagine that the same spot used to belong to a Blockbuster Video, and right next door is the expanded Palena where I used to do my daily shopping at MacGruder’s. There are still the old standbys like California Tortilla and Indique, but we’ve definitely been eying Medium Rare and still need to make a trip to Ripple as well as the renovated Ardeo/Bardeo.

The Heart of Champagne

Anyway, back to the wines. We will fully admit that we are not winos and cannot claim too much expertise in that department. We do, however, enjoy trying new varieties and going to tastings at vineyards, but when it comes to choosing the right bottle at a restaurant to pair with a dish, consider us clueless… which is where the folks at Weygandt Wines come in.

Weygandt Wines

If I still lived in the neighborhood, I could see it being my go-to store for choosing the perfect wine. The store itself is a showcase for Peter Weygandt’s wine selections as an importer from wines all over the world. The store’s partner and manager is Tim O’Rourke, a former chef who hails from restaurants such as Cafe Atlántico, Michel Richard Citronelle, and Tosca. Along the way, he fell in love with fine wine and came to the store with the idea of a place to showcase wine and discuss food.

The space may seem a little intimidating at first, but the staff is very warm and helpful, and if you are looking for something within a particular budget, they can steer you in that direction. There is even a showcase in the front of quality wines for $15 or less.

Champagne Tasting

On this particular night, we were able to sample several varieties of champagne along with several red wines. They were all wonderful, but we have to say our favorite was the champagne from Nicolas Maillart. We even had some small bites to try courtesy of Ripple, and I was definitely drawn to their chicken liver and apple butter crostini.

Crostini from Ripple

In addition to providing helpful guidance on wine selections, they also hold regular tastings on Saturdays as well as other events. If you visit their website, there’s a handy guide of corkage fees in the DC area.

Weygandt Wines

Their wine club is very intriguing, as you can receive two bottles a month as part of the Classic Wine Club for only $29.99. Considering the selection and quality of wines available at Weygandt, that definitely seems like a bargain.The event itself was a great way to connect to the store as well as other local food and wine bloggers, and we will definitely be back again the next time we are looking for a special wine or to learn more about vino in general.

Recap: Taste of DC

14 Oct

We couldn’t have asked for better weather than last Monday for the District’s revival of Taste of DC. With temperatures peaking at the high 70s and not a cloud to be seen, more than 60 restaurants set up shop along Pennsylvania Avenue for the three-day festival.

Fortunately both and Rachel and I had Columbus Day off from work, so we were able to avoid the large crowds and not have to wait in any long lines.

Taste of DC

We started the day off with Medium Rare’s filet sliders. Topped with their delicious secret sauce, it made for a satisfying first bite. It’s one of many restaurants that we still need to try.

Medium Rare Filet Sliders

Up next was a miniature lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster. This was our first encounter with the NYC import, and after biting into the roll, it was definitely not our last.

Luke's Lobster Mini Lobster Roll

Nearby was Local 16, serving up their Neapolitan pizza made famous by pizzaiolo Edan MacQuaid. There was a lot of buzz regarding MacQuaid’s arrival to the restaurant earlier this summer, and after buying a slice of their cheese pizza, it definitely warrants the hype.

Local 16 Neapolitan pizza

Our next dish was a beef patty from Patty Boom Boom. Our friend Kim ordered the veggie patty and we both agreed it was the better of the two as the beef was not as flavorful and somewhat dry.

Patty Boom Boom Beef Patty

Meanwhile, Co Co. Sala’s four-cheese bacon mac and cheese was one of the most savory dishes of the day. On the sweeter side, they also offered their famous Chocolate Onyx. Featuring dark chocolate mousse, vanilla crème brulee, salted caramel, crispy chocolate pearls, brownie, dark chocolate sorbet, and cinnamon toffee bon bon, decadent doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Co Co. Sala’s four-cheese bacon mac and cheese

Chocolate Onyx

Moving onto Surfside, we cashed in four of our tickets for a fish taco from their food truck. Considering that the weather made it feel like you were on the West Coast, at least for a day in October, it was an apt choice.

Surfside Fish Taco

Speaking of food trucks, our next destination was Sauca. A few of our friends ordered the butter chicken, but because I’ve been on a banh mi kick lately (I had a heavenly banh mi burger at Masa 14 the previous day), I went with that instead.

Sauca Banh Mi

And of course, you can’t end any sort of food festival without consuming a giant cookie. Firehook Bakery’s Presidential Sweet oatmeal cookie fit the bill, containing chocolate chips, dried cherries, pecans, and coconut.

Firehook Bakery’s Presidential Sweet Cookie

Overall, Taste of DC was a bonafide success. Redeeming our tickets from the will-call table was painless, purchasing additional tickets was effortless (and to think, credit card was the preferred method of payment), and the vendors had plenty of food with little to no waits (at least that was the case on Monday).

It’s amazing that the festival has been on hiatus since 2003, but given the plethora of vendors this weekend as well as the large crowds it attracted, let’s hope Taste of DC remains a mainstay for years to come.

Recap: Truckeroo 2

28 Jul

Truckeroo is a food truck lover’s paradise. We first heard about the idea back in June and knew right away we had to go to at least one of these monthly events. Essentially, the owner of The Bullpen and Das Bullpen Biergarten by Nationals Park decided to capitalize on the food truck craze and get all of the trucks to gather by the bars as a way to draw crowds on a Friday when the Nats are away.

Truckeroo

It’s a win-win for everyone since it’s a fun, new event to look forward to each month in the summer, a great way to see all the food trucks in one setting (especially for those who don’t work downtown such as ourselves), and attracts customers to the Nationals Park bars that generally don’t see any business unless the Nats are in town.

We got to Truckeroo right after work a few weeks ago only to find a line that partially wrapped around the block. The event goes from 11am to 9pm, and immediately we wished the food truck gathering fell on one of our flex days so we wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. There were predictable long lines for Red Hook Lobster Pound and Takorean, so we decided to try some new trucks we hadn’t tasted from yet. We shared everything we got so we could try more items as well as give our feedback. Here we go!

TakoreanSurfsideBig Cheese

First up was Fojol Brothers’ Benethiopia truck. They have one truck for Indian cuisine as well as one for Ethiopian, and we were lucky enough to try the latter that day. This was Brett’s first time trying Ethiopian food, and he immediately decided we needed to try more, and soon! We had the berber meat and the stewed carrots and beans that were incredibly flavorful and tender after stewing for 12 hours. We had a “dingo bite” of each instead of a larger plate which made for a great way to start our food truck outing.

Classic Mac and Cheese

Next up, I had to try some CapMac as I have been waiting to try their macaroni and cheese. Brett was curious about the DC Empanadas truck so he waited in that line while I got my classic mac and cheese with cheddar, pimento, and crushed Cheez-Its on top. Yum! I couldn’t get over how much they gave you in a container. It was definitely more than enough for two people to share. It was such a nice summer day that I couldn’t help but also get some of the summer salad, which consisted of feta, watermelon, picked melon rinds, and basil. It was so refreshing and a great side dish.

CapMac Summer SaladClassic Mac and CheeseCapMac Menu

Brett got the vegetarian Tio Shawn empanada that came with black beans, rice, Monterrey Jack cheese, Chipotle peppers, and onions. He came away impressed as it had a nice Mexican flavor while the shell was flaky and crunchy without it being overly greasy. Given his appetite, he wished the empanada was slightly larger, but overall he thoroughly enjoyed it.

DC Empanadas - Tio Shawn

At that point, we were perfectly content and just walked around for a bit while our friend Erika got a chicken pita. I thought a great last treat for the night would be a pop from Pleasant Pops. I thought they were just fresh fruit ice pops, but discovered that they are actually Mexican-inspired paletas. Whatever they were, I couldn’t get over the flavor from the peach pop – it literally tasted like a frozen pureed summer peach! They were also serving Sweet Tea pops and both were going fast.

Truckeroo will take place once a month and continue through October. The next one is coming up on Friday, August 12th, so make sure to check out your favorite food trucks – all in one convenient location!

Recap: Best of Washington

19 Jul

Rachel and I made the swift decision of attending last week’s Best of Washington party after our names found their way to the top of the waitlist the morning before the event.

Tuna Crudo - BLT Steak

This was our third consecutive year attending, and it might have been the best yet given the quality of restaurants as well as the food they were serving.

Beef Tartare - Citronellle

Earlier Best Of parties featured unexciting vendors such as California Tortilla while more expensive eateries were offering cheap plates. For example, there were several instances of restaurants serving up watermelon and feta – who wants that?

Rappahanock River Oysters

When you’re paying $100 per ticket, you obviously want to get your money’s worth.

Basil-cucumber CollinsEggs with pickled red peppers - Estadio and BLT SliderLettuce cups - Jackie’s Restaurant

The 2011 edition felt like a vast improvement from past years. All of the major players were in the house. From Estadio to The Source to Rasika, this was a great year to be in attendance.

Macarons - Adour

Our favorite dishes of the night? We would have to go with Cintronelle’s wonderful tomato tartare. I don’t think we can ever go back to bruschetta again.

Bison Tartare - LevelGeorgetown CupcakeIce cream push-pops - Oval Room

As for dessert, Bibiana’s Bomba al Cioccolato (milk-chocolate mousse with gianduja custard and hazelnut powder) was the unanimous favorite. Absolutely decadent, the name of the dish says it all.

Scallop Crudo - Perry's

Overall, we had a great time and got to try some plates from restaurants we haven’t been to yet. After last Monday, Bibiana might be on the top of our list.

Recap: Fancy Food Show

14 Jul

This past Sunday, Brett and I were fortunate enough to obtain passes to the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Washington Convention Center. Even though we already had reservations that morning for Birch and Barley’s decadent brunch, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore this behemoth of an event.

Fancy Food Show Convention Floor

I used to work for the Food Marketing Institute, so I had an idea just how massive these food exhibits can be, but nothing prepared us for the countless rows of vendors from all over the world showcasing everything from fresh meats and cheeses to chocolates to wine to vegan and gluten-free fare.

This was a unique opportunity, as the reason for the DC location was due to their home at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City undergoing extensive renovation. In total, there were 2,400 exhibitors, 80 countries represented, and 24,000 attendees. Whew! To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement.

Sweet Potato MuffinsSpare RibsFreshly-sliced Capicola

We started off wandering the aisles one by one, which soon proved fruitless given the endless number of them. Some cool features we got to check out included the “New Brands on the Shelf” area, highlighting the newest specialty food and beverages that would be debuting soon. We quickly realized that the hall was organized with countries along the back and companies in the front, with various showcases for states in the U.S. as well.

Black Truffles

While wandering through an aisle, we happened to see a crowd of people gathered around a cooking demonstration. Turns out it was none other than Cat Cora showing how to make a Mediterranean dish with eggplant, Santorini tomatoes, and other vegetables. She was right by her booth of branded sauces and cookbooks, and also happened to be the keynote speaker at an awards event. Crazy to think we saw her the day before on an episode of Iron Chef America!

Cat Cora!

It’s hard to remember everything we saw, but some of our favorites included the endless amounts of olive oil, olives, and fresh cheese from Greece and Italy, trying a mangosteen fruit for the first time from the Thai exotic fruit exhibit, and of course, a Jelly Belly mural of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Jelly Belly Mural

We also heard there was a craft beer sampling booth, so with five minutes to spare, we found ourselves in front of the exhibit from the Breweries Association. It was our last stop of the day, and within a few minutes, we tried new brews from Dogfish Head, Allagash, 21st Amendment, Victory, and Lagunitas. Not a bad way to end a Sunday!

Bethesda Restaurant Week Starts on Monday

12 Jul

RedwoodSummer means it’s time once again for Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week!

Starting Monday, July 18 through Sunday, July 24, diners can visit the 30 or so Bethesda-area restaurants participating in the biannual promotion.

Newcomers this time around include the well-received Newton’s Table as well as Freddy’s Lobster & Clams.

Lunch prices will range from $12 to $15 while dinner will cost $30.

As for our picks? Persimmon, Raku, Jaleo, Food Wine & Co., and Grapeseed are all recommended.

Courtesy of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, here is a full rundown of restaurants that will be participating in this year’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week. Bon Appetit!

Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $ 12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $29
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

The First Annual Quesadilla Cookoff

12 Jun

About a month ago, a few of our friends thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of cooking contest with us presiding as the judges. When it came down to deciding what type of food the contestants should cook, a decision was quickly reached: quesadillas.

A little backstory: one of the contestants, Rajiv, was my roommate during my junior year of college. He was pretty good about cooking at home, but his favorite dinner to make was chicken quesadillas. Turns out that Jim, our other contestant, claimed that his quesadilla recipe could rival that of Rajiv’s. A battle was soon proclaimed. After a time and place was arranged, the cookoff was on!

Jim's Quesadillas

Jim's Quesadillas

 

Rachel and I decided that we would be judging Rajiv and Jim’s quesadillas under three factors: taste , texture, and presentation. A victor would be named based on these categories with a scale from one to four stars. And while I should note that I have obviously eaten Rajiv’s quesadillas in the past, the final result would be unbiased as Rachel and I would have to reach a unanimous decision before naming the winner.

Rajiv prepared all his ingredients, for the exception of the shredded cheese, in a stew. Chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onions and onions were all cooked together before being placed atop a tortilla. Cheese was then sprinkled on top of the mixture, a second tortilla was added on top, and then the entire product was thrown on a frying pan.

Rajiv's Quesadilla Preparation

Rajiv's Quesadilla Preparation

 

Jim went more with the traditional route by cooking his ingredients separately. He also used a smaller tortilla which made handling the quesadillas a lot easier than Rajiv’s, as well as it being a more reasonable portion size.

Jim's Quesadilla Preparation

Jim's Quesadilla Preparation

 

Taste:

In regards to Rajiv’s preparation, both Rachel and I agreed that some of the spices added, as well as the stewed tomatoes, really brought out the flavor and made for a tasty quesadilla. On the other hand, while Jim used a more traditional cooking regimen, we felt that the flavors were more on the blander side with nothing really piquing our interest.

Rajiv: ***
Jim: **

Rajiv's Quesadillas

Rajiv's Quesadillas

 

Texture:

Rajiv’s preparation made the tortillas soggy as soon as they were prepared. The stew mixture might have helped in regards to taste, but these were limp as soon as they were brought to the table. Meanwhile, Jim’s quesadillas were adequately crispy and had a nice crunch to them. No contest in this category.

Jim: ****
Rajiv: **

Presentation:

Rajiv’s quesadilla was presented with a dollop of sour cream and salsa on top, along with a side of arugula salad, refried beans, and guacamole. I would have preferred the condiments on the side myself, but otherwise, it was a well-presented dish.

Rajiv's Presentation

Rajiv's Presentation

 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Jim’s arrangement. His quesadilla (dotted with salsa) was placed in the center of the plate on top of a bed of arugula, which was then surrounded by a border of shredded cheese. It was way over the top and really detracted from the actual dish.

Jim's Presentation

Jim's Presentation

 

Rajiv: ***
Jim: *

Winner:

We’re going to have to give the nod to Rajiv. His quesadillas simply tasted better, and despite lacking the requisite crispiness, the overall flavor proved to be enough to win the battle. While Jim’s were crunchier albeit blander, it was his presentation that ultimately did him in. Both contestants have areas for improvement, but for our first-ever cook-off, it was a bona fide success.