All words: Stephanie Breijo, Svetlana Legetic
All photos: Jeff Martin, Stephanie Breijo, Franz Mahr, Mathew Ramsey, Emily Cohen Dakota Fine
The coming of spring and summer may mean many things, but we get the most passionate, most excited, and most ecstatic about FOOD. From the best new restaurants to outdoor drinking and urban picnics, we love spending time eating and drinking our days through the warmest months of the year. On the 2014 D.C. docket there are tons of fabulous restaurant openings, specials, events and recipes, so we’ve compiled some of our favorite things we think will make your spring and summer PERFECT.
by Svetlana Legetic
Spring/Summer of 2013 were QUITE the banner time for new restaurants in D.C. this time last year and if the list below is any indication, things are about to get just as exciting in 2014. From Daniel Bouloud’s D.C. flagship to a brand, spanking new concept by Jose Andres to a whole batch of exciting new places opening in Petworth, Shaw and Bloomingdale. So, obviously-read on. Full disclosure: some of these were culled from our 2014 anticipated openings story (in case some of the words look vaguely familiar).
(FRESHLY) OPEN NOW AND READY FOR YOU TO ENJOY:
RED APRON/ THE PARTISAN – Whether you’re in the mood for the best breakfast sandwiches in town (bold statement, we know), some good meat to cook yourself or a full on MEAT dinner ORGY, the latest venture by Neighborhood Restaurant Group and Nate Anda is your new go to. In a turn of events that should surprise very few, the menu is a fine blend of whole animal butchery and modern, sustainable cooking techniques (Chef Witt was previously at Ashok Bajaj’s 701, and did a memorably meat-and-cigar centric “What’s In Your Fridge?” with us-ed). The menu is broken up by animal (beef, poultry, pork and fish) and includes things like 120 Day Aged Beef Carpaccio, home made pastas in rich bolognese, Corned Beef Belly and more. If you choose to go the share-with-the-table route, plates of Roasted Pig Head (served with salsa verde, pickled peppers, and arugula & pig ear salad) or Bollito Misto, (a stew of cotechino, smoked heart, belly, pickled tongue, pork bone marrow and tenderloin with calabrian aioli) await. Check out our full first look HERE.
AGGIO -The other half of Bryan Voltaggio’s food personality, and a yin to his VOLT yang, is a lovely, intimate, very seal-the-deal date destination in the back of Range. Open just in time for Valentine’s Day 2014, it is now in full, impeccable flow mode and ready for you and yours to enjoy. The food is Italian, the preparation methods a perfect balance between Voltaggio’s VOLT precision and the warmth demanded by the cuisine, and the tasting menu probably one of the best balanced in town. Keep an eye out for a full first look/taste test from us momentarily.
FIOLA MARE – Chef Fabio Trabocchi has done it again. Inspired by his childhood on the Marche coast of Italy, Trabocchi gives D.C. the gift of Fiola Mare. The new Georgetown restaurant offers daily lunch and dinner service as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, right on the water. Devotees of Trabocchi’s Fiola and Casa Luca can look forward to enjoying the same quality ingredients and impeccable attention to detail that make his cuisine the epitome of fresh Italian fare. Check out our full first look HERE.
DOLCEZZA FACTORY – 550 Penn Street NE – Any day is a great day for Dolcezza Gelato and now that Robb Duncan got an official 4000 sq.ft flagship outside of Union Market, there is one definitive destination to get your hands on it too. Grab some to go, or sit down and enjoy some with your Stumptown coffee. Take a gander at our early first look HERE and enjoy our gelato making excursion with them below.
ROOFERS UNION – Serving classic American food with a twist, this new outpost of the team behind RIPPLE is fast becoming our go-to spot. From the old-fashioneds to the beer menu to all those crispy pig ear salads and sausage party platters, we never want to leave. And now that there is a rooftop finally open-we may never have to. Check out our full first look HERE.
LUPO VERDE – Italian food is having quite the DC moment right now, and this 14th street outpost is definitely a welcome edition. Chef Orlando Amaro has created a menu of wood-fired pizzas and small plates featuring an impressive array of house-cured meats and house-dried pastas. If you want to whip up your own authentic Italian meal after you’ve been inspired by your dinner at Lupo, a 50-deep selection of house-made or imported Italian cheeses, house-dried pastas, house-made breads and sauces, and charcuterie are available for you to take home. For our kindred wino spirits: This place may be your new mecca. They have over 100 wines on their list, three wines on draft, and price points for everyone from the lowly college student to the connoisseur. Check out our full first look HERE.
TORO TORO – It’s hard to come across a D.C. dweller unfamiliar with Richard Sandoval. Between El Centro D.F., Ambar, Masa 14 and Zengo he’s become a known name in the District dining scene and now he’s adding one more spot to his already impressive roster; come March 31 (Today! This place opens TODAY!), Toro Toro–Sandoval’s Pan Latin steakhouse–opens to the public. Check out our full first look HERE.
OPENING VERY SOON (FINGERS CROSSED):
MAKETTO – 1351 H Street NE . Opening: Soon– BYT’s What’s In Your Fridge Alum Erik Bruner-Yang and DURKL’s Will Sharp (Whose “Finer Things In Life With…” was one of BYT’s first features) have been working on this restaurant-retail mixed use for a while now, and it looks like the opening is very near. Expect a menu inspired by Bruner-Yang’s travels to Cambodia and Taiwan and if their Hanoi house pop-up or his recent COCHON 555 victory lap-we’re all in for a treat.
El CAMINO –108 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. Coming: This summer. It is no secret that 1905 and Sticky Rice both hold special spots in our hearts. So, it is great to know that things are going really well on the new project from Tony Lucca and Phil Rodriguez. The application for a liquor license has been submitted, and placards are going up later today for El Camino, a full-service restaurant featuring traditional-style Mexican food with a variety of Latin cocktails. We’re ready.
DBGB Bar & Kitchen – City Center, Opening: Soon – There aren’t too many restaurant names attached to the behemoth that is City Center, but the one thing that is coming there for certain is the DC outpost for Bouloud’s NY downtown DBGB, with a French brasseries/American tavern vibe. (Daniel Boulud afterparty photo from our James Beard coverage)
SEVEN FACES BARROOM – 251 Florida Ave NW. Opening: Summer – Three of our absolute favorite bar folk are opening a bar together. Patrick Owens (formerly of American Ice Co, now at Ripple and a BYT DRINK DIARY alum), Owen Thomson (formerly of Range, now at Bar Pilar, and ALSO a BYT drink diary alum) and Ashley May (of Velvet Lounge, and co-creator of Spirits in Black, BYT’s favorite heavy metal cocktail night ever, with Owens) are coming together in a 1200 sq.ft space on Florida which they promise will be filled with good drinks, good food and, inevitably, great vibes. Summer could not be here soon enough.
THE ROYAL – 501 Florida Ave NW, Opening: – Early Summer. Paul Carlson, the owner of Vinoteca, is planning on opening a 40 seater in an old liquor store, smack in the middle of his LeDroit Park neighborhood. And from the first word on the place-there is very little not to like about it. The name comes from the previous space occupant (Royal Liquors) and the vibe will be strickly neighborhood-y. A coffee shop, and a small food menu in mornings and afternoons, and a great-value staple dinner program is planned (the goal is to be able to eat a full meal under $20, always). Washingtonian has the full scoop, so click here for it.
JEREMIAH LANGHORNE’s PROJECT – Location: TBD, Opening: Summer – To put an unnamed restaurant in an undisclosed location with a vague opening date on this list is a longshot but the DC food press has A LOT of faith in it, and the reason is this: McCrady’s. Aaron Silverman left this fine South Carolina operation, and opened Rose’s Luxury, which is almost-unanimously everyone’s favorite new restaurant in DC, and Langhorne comes with the same pedigree under his belt. The focus will be on vegetables and sustainable seafood, the theme is being delicious, and the location is, hopefully, Shaw (the BYT office on 9th street approves).
CHINA CHILCANO – 418 7th Street NW. Opening: Spring – It has been a while since the Godfather of DC small plates opened a new restaurant in the District, and the newest addition sees him both trying something new (for this area at least) and also staying very close to his Washington restaurant roots geographically. Opening in the old Olsson’s bookstore space on 7th, China Chilcano is sharing the block-and-a-half radius with Jaleo and Oyamel and a three block vicinity with Minibar/Barmini and Zaytinya. The concept is Chinese-Peruvian (or “Chifa”) and the press are salivating all over themselves. Rightfully so.
UNNAMED FILIPINO PROJECT (From the owners of Room 11) – 3226 11th Street NW, Opening: Late Spring – Nick Pimental is taking the old Rinconcito Deportivo space and putting a brand new Filipino restaurant in it. Details are sparse, but with Room 11’s track record and the fact that DC has been desperate for a Filipino joint (which is having all sorts of renaissances in NY with Maharlika and beyond), we’re counting the days till be know more and can eat all of it.
STK – Opening: April – The rumors/speculations/potential judgements about this DC outpost of NY’s popular “female friendly steakhouse” have been swirling wildly for months now, and in just a few weeks they’ll open doors at the old Casa Nonna space on Connecticut and you’ll be able to see for yourself. Eater has been keeping up to speed, so click here for details.
HILLTOP – Corner of Girard and Sherman NW. Opening: Late Spring – The new spot on Girard has their eyes set on becoming a real, honest-to-God neighborhood spot. The owners are related to the team that owns the U Street institution The Saloon, and while they will NOT be enforcing the no-standing policy Saloon has maintained for forever, you can expect a great beer menu, comfort foods and one of those sweet storefront seating situations, perfect for late spring/early summer people watching.
UNNAMED (from the owners of Room 11 & Petworth Citizen) – 828 Upshur Street NW, Opening: April – We LOVE Petworth Citizen. And when it opened Paul Ruppert left us with a promised us a next door restaurant overseen by Makoto Hamamura (previously of CityZen) and the French-Japanese fusion they have in store has all the makings of a very worthy Petworth destination.
RED LIGHT – Cocktails and Dessert Bar – 1401 R Street NW, Opening: April – Because, the only thing 14th street is missing right now is a craft cocktail and desserts bar. After that-it will officially be DC’s dining Disneyland. Brunch (hitting all the right spots with this concept) is launching in a few weeks too.
by Stephanie Breijo
“When all is said and done, around 75 percent of our ingredients come from the area.”
Robb Duncan, owner and founder of Dolcezza Gelato, is walking us through his newly opened factory in Northeast. It’s a bright, spacious Wonka factory with all of the magic and none of the terror and Duncan is equal parts Wilder and Depp; he’s a dreamer who believes in his product and spends a piece of his days concocting whimsical flavor profiles to serve children, adults, and the young at heart.
The day we tour the factory is rainy, bleak and overcast, though that could never steer us from our objective: we’re here to make gelato and, as we learned, it hasn’t stopped the public, either–in these first few weeks of business, the factory’s tours are full; the coffee bar is always humming; the gelato machines stir, swirl and freeze constantly, come rain or shine.
It should come as no surprise that the factory’s success has little to do with the seemingly seasonal expiration date on its goods; since opening Dolcezza roughly 10 years ago, Duncan and his wife Violeta Edelman began one of the District’s best-selling dessert brands in the spirit of “love locally.” The couple–now company–uses only the freshest ingredients and it’s just one of many traits that keeps customers coming back year-round. Naturally, we wanted to see how it gets made to understand just what kind of magic Duncan’s been working.
“When it’s fresh it’s the temperature, it’s the texture, it’s the fact that it melts in your mouth,” he tells us, noting that customers who order gelato in the factory taste product so fresh that it’s produced about 30 minutes before it’s ordered. Clearly the freshness extends far beyond ingredients–it’s straight from the machine, a fresh product and a fresh experience. The gelato, newly spun, is lighter, fluffier and almost unlike anything we’ve ever tasted. It is 30-some degrees outside but you’d never know it from inside the factory.
The first step, Duncan explains, is to add milk, cream and sugar, and the flavor of your choosing into the cooker, which will slowly emulsify the fats. From there we transfer our mixture to the ager or age master, which takes about five hours to fully chill our gelato, then brings it to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
“You can get pretty much geeky with whatever you do,” he laughs before explaining the science behind Dolcezza’s secret.
Once Duncan moves the gelato to the batch freezer it’s all a matter of precise timing. The gelato is already cold in due part to the ager, which is incredibly important; a cold beginning makes the gelato freeze easier. The easier it freezes, the smaller the ice crystals. The smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the texture.
He turns on the mixer which kicks on with a low hum. From there with the touch of a button Duncan starts the compressor, which begins the freezing process. This takes roughly eight minutes though eyeballing is highly encouraged to find the perfect texture.
“Thirty seconds can make a huge difference on this,” Duncan muses.
Once we finish our batch and lick clean a spoonful of the sweetest dulce de leche gelato to grace this fine city, we take a seat at Dolcezza’s bar. Customers may come here to order any number of items ranging from pre-packaged push-pops, affogatos made with Stumptown Coffee, or their own spin on a sundae like their “Fruity Pebbles” made with Singing Dog Vanilla, candied citrus peels and peanuts (conceptualized just 2 hours before we got there), or the “Earth, Wind and Fire,” scoops of dark chocolate topped with Kinderhook spiced nuts and whipped cream.
And how does D.C.’s Wonka imagine such creations? Much like that freaky scene in the tunnel, it’s fairly psychedelic.
“It depends on the experience but it’s usually lots of bad drugs late at night,” he laughs. “You either get really great ideas or really bad ones.”
After hearing his latest batch of spring/summer flavors–strawberry taragon, roasted strawberries, blueberries with lemon and thyme, opal basil with lemon, lime cilantro or pineapple cilantro, and black berries and cream–we’re positive there’s not a bad egg in the bunch.
by Stephanie Breijo
We all know you love outdoor drinking in D.C. and we can’t blame you. Whether we’re aiming for a full afternoon of daydrinking or an evening underneath the sky (or, hell, why not both?) we’re always on the look out for a new favorite spot. While we’ll always have a special place in our hearts for our favorite patios and rooftops from 2013, there’s been a new wave of outdoor drinking valhallas popping up around the city since we published last year’s Outdoor Drinking Guide. While we work on our 2014 edition, here are five spots we know we’ll be frequenting this spring and summer…
Located right on 14th Street sits one of our new favorite patios complete with fireplace, repurposed wood, some gorgeous greenery and a menu full of tapas and wine.
- Roofers Union
Where once The Reef perched over Adams Morgan now sits Roofers Union, the new restaurant from Ripple’s very own Marjorie Meek-Bradley. Order award-winning punches and feast on housemade sausages while you peoplewatch from high above your rooftop throne.
- Fiola Mare
Though Fiola Mare’s patio is technically enclosed, once spring hits those windows will be wide open for unhindered views of the Georgetown Waterfront. The stunning location is only rivaled by Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s menu so there’s no way you can go wrong.
- Agua 301
Let’s hop on over to Capitol Riverfront for another nearly-on-the-water experience, this time with an extensive Mexican menu and seasonal surprises like churros and homemade popsicles served exclusively to the patio.
- Little Miss Whiskey’s
Though the Whiskey’s back patio has long been a BYT favorite, the space is nearly new with a grill you can now rent for parties and private get-togethers. (Need some tips on grilling? We’ve got some of those for you in this guide, too.)
by Stephanie Breijo
After our long bout with winter it’s hard to imagine sun-soaked days ahead. The team at Farmers Fishers Bakers have their eyes on the prize, however, and know exactly what this city needs (and deserves) come late April; their tiki bar, with a fully revamped menu, should be just what the doctor ordered.
“During the winter, you want brown spirits. You want whiskey cocktails, Manhattans or a nice Martini to warm you up and in the spring and summer you want a nice refreshing drink to cool you down,” Beverage Director and Chief Mixologist Jon Arroyo said. “There’s where the tiki world is; you know, fresh flavors, things made with pineapple and guava and all these very tropical fruits. You should feel refreshed and cooled and sit out in the sun and have a great time.”
Though the Georgetown Waterfront’s a far cry from a sandy beach, Arroyo’s tiki program should bring you closer to warm-weather paradise with an extended frozen cocktail menu, complete with drinks served in pineapple shells and coconuts (most garnished with flamingos and paper umbrellas, at that).
We stopped by to take a peek at El Majico, their playful and spicy frozen blended cocktail you’ll be able to find later this spring made from Brugal Anejo, lime juice, guava syrup, Cinnamon Syrup, Don’s Spices, and Angostura Bitters. The one bit of advice we have? Get there early. Arroyo’s in-fruit cocktails are limited each day and we’re certain that if it comes down to you or us, we’d be willing to throw some elbows for this refreshing li’l sip of heaven.
by Stephanie Breijo
If you’re looking for an impressive cocktail, we’ve found one of D.C.’s most flame-boyant at Republic, Chef Jeff Black’s new Takoma Park restaurant. With a playful nod to Johnny Cash and celebrating its new live music schedule, Republic’s new Ring of Fire cocktail is all rock and roll with a hint (OK, a torchful) of arson. It’s a dark mix of Sambuca, Rye and Peychaud’s bitters with a bright note of citrus, that’s not just lit on fire–it’s nearly exploded to the point of visibility from across the bar.
We’ve got the recipe for you here if you’re feeling adventurous but we’re pretty positive you should leave this one to the pros–and especially to bar manager Brett Robison.
Ring of Fire
2oz Bulleit Rye
1/2 Romana Sambuca
1tsp simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
4 sprays angostura flame
1.) Combine bulleit, bitters, lemon peel and simple syrup in mixing glass. Add ice and stir five times.
2.) In a separate old-fashioned glass add 1/2oz Romana Sambuca.
3.) Stir the cocktail 10-15 more times or until well chilled.
4.) Light Sambuca on fire. Begin spraying angostura flames directly towards the flaming Sambuca. Miniature bursts or geysers of fire will form.
5.) After 4 sprays, strain cocktail into warmed and aromatized old-fashioned glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Nothing screams warm weather like a hot, juicy burger or a cool ‘n’ tangy pickleback shot. Luckily for us, Mathew Ramsey–the self-proclaimed Burger Pervert behind the epic foodporn site PornBurger–found an ingenious way to combine both. He let us in on the method to his madness with an exclusive recipe for his latest, The Pickleback. Take it away, perv…
What does a phallus patty of pickled goodness have to do with whiskey anyway? Turns out: everything. If you aren’t already familiar with the pickleback, you’re only hurting yourself. The concept is simple: a shot of whiskey, followed by a shot of pickle juice. For this week’s burger, I’ve changed the game but kept the rules the same. A shot of whiskey, followed by a mouthful of fried pickle, spicy cabbage slaw, beer-braised pork cheek, and a naughty cheddar-beer sauce. Hold onto your butts.
RECIPE (Makes 5 Sandwiches)
6 shots of whiskey (traditionally Old Crow or Jameson are used for picklebacks, but feel free to mix it up)
1 ½ lb of pork cheek (available for purchase from Harvey’s Market at Union Market)
½ cup of flour
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
½ red onion, quartered
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 guajillo chilies
1 pint of pork stalk (available for purchase at Red Apron Butchery)
½ can of DC Brau Corruption IPA
1 teaspoon of juniper berries
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
½ orange, quartered
1 bay leaf
8 sprigs of cilantro
6 sprigs of thyme
kosher salt to taste
Purple Cabbage Slaw
2 ½ cups of purple cabbage, shredded
1 jalapeno, minced
½ red onion, diced
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon siracha
2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 ½ limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
DC Brau Corruption IPA, Cheddar Cheese Sauce (h/t Chow.com)
½ cup of cold DC Brau Corruption IPA
14 grams of sodium citrate (available for purchase on Amazon)
13 ounces of white sharp cheddar, shredded (5-6 cups)
Fried Gordy’s Pickle Jar Hot Chili Spears, Pickle “Patty”
1 jar of Gordy’s Hot Chili Spears, halved and drained on paper towels
½ cup ap flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup of ap flour
1 cup of corn flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of cayenne
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 can of DC Brau Corruption IPA (12 oz.)
season with salt and pepper to taste
peanut oil for frying
5 Soft Rolls
Go out and buy ’em. Treat yo’self.
(I used pretzel, but ol’ fashioned dinner rolls would perfect too!)
Procedure, Pt. 1
1.) Pour a shot of whiskey, and drink it. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.
2.) Combine the flour, salt, and black pepper in small bowl.
3.) Remove any remaining silver skin from each of the cheeks, and lightly dredge in the flour mixture.
4.) Sear each side of the cheeks, in a large pot over high heat (I prefer cast iron). Once browned, set aside and allow the meat to rest. You can do this in rounds, if need be.
5.) In the same pot, over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery in olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
6.) Once the onions begin to soften, add the garlic and the chilies, stirring as needed. Continue to cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.
7.) Add the pork stock, beer, juniper berries, peppercorns, orange slices, bay leaf, cilantro, and thyme. You can add more beer (or water) to makes sure the pork cheeks are fully submerge.
8.) Bring everything to a boil and cover the pot with tin foil. Put the pot in the oven and braise for about 3½ hrs. or until the cheeks are incredibly tender.
Procedure, Pt. 2
1.) To make the pickle “patty,” you are going to skewer three spear halves with two toothpicks (one from left and one from the right).
2.) To make the “patty” nice and compact, the two outside pickles should be facing up and the middle one, facing down. Repeat until you’re out of spears.
3.) Set the “patties” aside on paper towels, allowing them to drain. The last thing you want is hot oil splattering in your face as you deep-fry these fellas.
Procedure, Pt. 3
1.) For the purple cabbage slaw, mix and combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
2.) Set aside and allow the flavors to meld as you begin prepping the next components.
Procedure, Pt. 4
1.) For the dry pickle dredge, combine the flour, salt , and pepper.
2.) To make the beer batter, combine the all purpose flour, corn flour, baking powder, cumin, cayenne, egg, beer, and seasoning in a medium sized bowl. Whisk the batter until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Procedure, Pt. 5
1.) In a medium sized pot, over medium heat, bring the cold beer to a simmer and add the sodium citrate, stirring until dissolved.
2.) Gradually add the cheese, one cup at a time, stirring until emulsified.
3.) Using an immersion blender, pulse the sauce. This will help make a super creamy texture. Keep warm over very low heat, stirring occasionally.
Procedure, Pt. 6
1.) Once the pork cheeks finish braising, remove them from the braising liquid, allowing them to cool slightly.
2.) Once you can safely handle the cheeks with your hands, shred them using your fingers, and place in a bowl with a little bit of the braising broth. This will keep the meat nice and succulent.
Procedure, Pt. 7
1.) In a medium pot, heat the peanut oil (enough to cover the pickles) to 375 degrees F. It’s important to keep the oil hot or your pickles will get mushy.
2.) Dredge the pickles in the flour mixture and then fully submerge into the beer batter.
3.) Carefully place the pickles into the hot oil and fry, until golden brown. Use tongs to gently handle the patties, as they’re a little fragile.
4.) Drain the pickle patties on paper towel and allow them to cool and crisp.
5.) Using the tongs again, take the fried pickle patties and once again submerge them into the beer batter and then the hot oil. That’s right, we’re double frying these dudes. Once fried to a golden crisp, remove them from the oil, and once again drain on paper towel.
Procedure, Pt. 8
1.) Time to assemble. Warm your rolls in the oven.
2.) Pour yourselves some shots of whiskey.
3.) On each roll, place a healthy portion of cabbage slaw, followed the pickle patty (toothpicks removed), pork cheek, and then smother in the cheese sauce.
Procedure, Pt. 9
1.) Toast, shoot, and devour.
by Stephanie Breijo
Spring and summertime and the picnicking’s easy here in D.C. We’ve always been advocates of the urban picnic, of grabbing a blanket and hitting every major park where you can enjoy a meal under the shade as opposed to someone throwing it, and these seasons just got a lot more outdoorsy thanks to Frederik de Pue’s newest venture, Menu MBK. Located in Penn Quarter and just a hop, skip and a jump from the National Mall, this spot is part restaurant, part bistro, part artisanal market just blocks away from some of our favorite picnic areas.
The best part? Menu’s market is stocked with fresh spreads, bottled dressings and sauces, salads and baked goods, nearly all made in house. The cold case offers a selection of both creative and classic meals we know we’d gladly eat outdoors, while the sandwich station and selection of cured meat and cheese sound perfect to keep us cool on a warm day. Pastry chef Jason Gehring (formerly of Astro Doughnuts fame) whips up some perfect chocolates and delectables to cap off your meal, and there’s even a selection of cold-pressed juices and glass-bottled soda to tote along with you.
With so many options, we asked Chef de Pue for his Menu essentials to take this season’s picnic to another level. If you’re ready for the Urban Picnic Big Leagues, try these on for size.
Chef de Pue’s Picks:
by Stephanie Breijo
If you’re anything like us you’ve grown accustomed to a warm, brothy bowl of ramen this winter and can’t imagine retreating back to a noodleless existence once the weather heats up again. Enter Zentan’s Executive Chef Jennifer Nguyen, who’s created an Asian Carbonara adorned with the freshest seasonal ingredients; who says you can’t eat ramen year-round?
“For me it’s being able to get the spring produce that’s in season and it’s an exciting time because it’s the first crop,” Nguyen said. “It’s like an invitation for summer and for me because everything else that’s in here is so heavy, those vegetables make it feel like it’s still light.”
Nguyen’s Carbonara is a fresh spin on Mazemen ramen combining spring flavors into our favorite slurpable dish, sans broth. Here you’ll find housemade noodles tossed with cured pork jowl, fresh peas, Maitake mushrooms and Nguyen’s elusive miso egg sauce.
We’re sure we’ll be enjoying it poolside at Zentan’s rooftop bar but until then we’ve got a recipe to try it at home. We’ve included Nguyen’s own ramen recipe for the ultimate DIY experience, as well as her seven-day cured pork jowl procedure. Try your hand at one or two recipes and spice up your culinary routine; try all parts and find yourself immersed in the best of both worlds–the (ful)filling texture and warmth of ramen with the crisp, refreshing taste of spring vegetables because, yes, you can have it all.
House-cured pork jowl
Yield: 3 lbs
3lbs pork jowl, small diced
2tsp Pink curing salt
4tbsp Coarsely ground black pepper
4 Bay leaves, crumbled fresh
1tsp Five spice, freshly ground
1/4C Brown sugar
5 Garlic cloves, smashed with flat side knife
2 tbsp Juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)
5 – 10 Rau Ram sprigs
1.) Combine all ingredients together and generously rub over pork jowl.
2.) Place all ingredients in a plastic bag and let meat cure in a fridge for at least 7 days, rotating every day.
Yield: 12 oz
1C High gluten flour
5oz Wheat flour
1 Egg, beaten
1tsp Potassium carbonate
1.) Combine all ingredients in a bowl, knead until a dough forms.
2.) Let the dough rest for for 30 minutes.
3.) Roll the dough through pasta machine about 1/8 of an inch and cut 1/16”.
4.) Cook in boiling, salted water until al dente.
Note: May substitute with store bought ramen.
Egg Miso Sauce
Yield: 32 oz
20 Egg yolks, frozen
3 pint Shiro miso
1 ¼ pint Mirin
1 pint Dashi
1 1/2C Shiro miso
2.4oz Soy sauce
3.2oz Sesame paste
8.1oz Rice vinegar
4tbsp Reduced miso
1.) Freeze egg yolks for 24 hours.
2.) Whisk shiro miso, mirin & dashi together then add egg yolks to marinade for another 24 hours then pass through a tami.
3.) Mix all ingredients together and put into a pan and reduce for 20 minutes on medium heat.
4.) Chill then whisk in mayo
Asian Carbonara with Ramen Noodles
Yield: 4 servings
6oz House-cured bacon
3oz Fresh peas, shelled
80z Pecorino cheese, grated
3oz Maitake mushrooms
6oz Ramen noodles
8 tbl Egg miso sauce
1.) Heat pan to medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil; add pork jowl and render, then add mushrooms and saute.
2.) Add 1 tablespoon shallots, add 1 teaspoon garlic and add fresh peas at the end.
3.) While rendering jowl, blanch noodles.
4.) When done add all ingredients into bowl and toss to incorporate along with miso yolk.
5.) Sprinkle with cheese and kaiware.
by Stephanie Breijo
No one knows meat like Nathan Anda, the man behind Red Apron Butchery. Whether he’s mastering the art of mortadella or charting wholly new territory (hello, andouille sausage spread), Anda should be your go-to authority and, for much of the District, he is.
We’ve long swooned over Red Apron and recently fell in love with both its newest location and sibling restaurant The Partisan, so it comes as no surprise that we have meat on the mind as we enter peak grilling season. Now is the time to turn our attention to hot summer days without slaving over a hot grill and we’ve got just the guide to help you reach a rich, meaty nirvana. Let’s revisit Anda’s burger tips and get those mouths watering in anticipation of your best grill-out yet, shall we?
Pro Burger Tips:
- Use a good quality blend. Our Red Apron house-ground 80/20 blend made with brisket, short rib, sirloin and round.
- When forming your patties, pack lightly (no smashing, squishing or any other words like these).
- Season the patty with salt and pepper liberally (basically, more than you would think).
- Cook on medium heat. When using a coarsely ground blend like ours, you don’t want to scorch the meat or you’ll get an unpleasant burnt taste.
- No pushing the patty down on the grill – you’re just killing it at this point.
- Slice that cheese thin so that it melts evenly through.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a really good bun —I prefer Tiffany MacIsaac’s brioche buns.
- Keep it simple with garlic, olive oil & red wine vinegar.
- April happens to be National Empanada Month (somebody up there likes us), and Cuba Libre is celebrating with a year-of-empanadas giveaway AND an empanada happy hour on April 8. Between 4:30 PM and 6:30 PM on this auspicious day, they’ll offer seven specialty and signature empanadas for just $1 each. DOLLAR EMPANADAS.
- 4/5 – Art and Soul hosts a one-night-only Colorado lamb and beer dinner on the 5th with a number of dishes involving spring-fresh lamb served alongside Colorado microbrews.
- 4/8 – Founding Farmers DC celebrates the five year anniversary of Founding Farmers today by releasing their newest spirit, Farm Gin. Head on over for the release event and imbibe. #TREATYOSELF
- 4/12 – Be sure to head to Penn Social for the first annual D.C. Bacon and Beer Festival, a celebration of all things pork and brew. Participants like Art & Soul, 1905, The Pig, Bourbon Steak and DC Brau provide the libations, Penn Social provides the arcade games. Clear eyes, (delightfully) clogged arteries, can’t lose.
- 4/15 – And of you can’t get enough of food and beer (we don’ blame you), there’s a Devils Backbone beer dinner over at Farmers Fishers Bakers on the 15th.
- 4/26 – Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is hosting their first crawfish boil of the season on the 26th with Louisiana crawfish flown in, plus suckling pig, coleslaw, pork buns, chicken wings, cornbread, desserts from pastry chef Carri-Anne Hamer, and of course, all you can drink Abita. There will be two seatings at $65 a person; if this isn’t a great way to kick off spring, we don’t know what is.
- 4/22 – And Del Campo’s celebrating its one year anniversary with a Tango Party–head thattaway for food, drinks and live tango entertainment. Dancing shoes recommended, Victor Albisu’s incredible eats a must. Reservations can be made at 202-289-7377 or by e-mail at email@example.com
- 4/26 – 4/17 – Head up to Baltimore for The Emporiyum, a two-day celebration of artisan food and brews. Join chefs Bryan Voltaggio and Erik Bruner-Yang, Momofuku Milk Bar, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and more for samples, beer, and unique foodstuff from chefs near and far.
- 5/4 – Sound Bites is, hands down, one of our favorite local food events. When else does 9:30 Club open its doors in partnership with D.C. Central Kitchen, offering free bites from 25 D.C. restaurants?? There will be great live music (Billy Thompson, Black Masala, DJ Harry Hotter, and Ingleside Collective) and the annual cocktail competition between mixologists.Remember how much fun it is? (Trick question; HOW COULD YOU FORGET?)
- 6/6 – 6/7 – The Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival at National Harbor says it all. Taste your way through 60 beers and 40 bourbons (all unlimited), plus all the BBQ you can handle. We’re talking brisket, whole pig, ribs, you name it.
- 6/7 – 6/28 – This summer we welcome back Post Brasserie’s Pilates on the Patio. On June 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th, Poste hosts a 45 minute class for $24, complete with complimentary glass of sparkling wine to follow.
- 7/21 – 7/27 – It’s time for EAT LOCAL FIRST WEEK: on July 25th, local beweries and cideries are making locally signature foraged casks. There’s also an Edible Garden Tour on July 26th and a Farm-to-Marketplace event on July 27th with hundreds of local food and beverage producers. Nothing not to love.
- 7/27 & 9/14 – It’s time for Jackson 20’s annual Bounty of the Bay Crab Fest, a full-scale Chesapeake Bay crab boil with oysters and sides. Part one happens July 27th and if you miss that one (or can’t get enough the first time around), there’s another on September 14th.