Compiled by: Stephanie Breijo, Svetlana Legetic, Phil Chevalier
Photos by: Jeff Martin with additions by Stephanie Breijo
The coming of Spring and Summer may mean many things, but we get the most passionate, most excited, and most ecstatic about FOOD. From delighting in cocktails on a patio to a perfect picnic, we love spending time eating and drinking out days through the warmest months of the year. On the 2013 D.C. docket there are tons of fabulous restaurant openings, specials, events and recipes. We’ve compiled some of our favorite things we think will make your spring and summer PERFECT.
If the start of 2013 is anything to go by, we are about to have a very exciting, opening-full season ahead. While we, as always, recommend following our FOOD section for the endless supply of FIRST LOOKS inevitably coming your way, here are some places to keep an eye on in the next few months:
- DOI MOI – Chef Haidar Karoum and restaurateur Mark Kuller (alongside their bar manager Adam Bernbach), in our opinion can do very little (if anything) wrong. PROOF and ESTADIO are constantly featured in our assorted guides (this one included) and for good reason. This spring, at 1800 14th street, they expand their repertoire to “offer regional cuisine of Vietnam and Thailand, inspired by the dishes found at street stands, stalls, and storefronts in the great cities of these food-obsessed nations.” The restaurant space is to be 5,000 square feet, span two buildings and include a bound-to-be-mobbed 2 Birds 1 Stone cocktail bar (and new home base for Bernbach).
- AZUR. – from our official, exclusive first look at the new seafood eatery by Frederik De Pue (who also JUST opened the lovely Table) springing in the old Cafe Atlantico space: Among variations on European seafood preparation and supply, the menu will change seasonally and include an extensive raw bar, just one of de Pue’s areas of expertise. Hailing from Belgium with years of experience working in some of Europe’s finest dining establishments (see Monte Carlo’s Le Louis XV or Sea Grill in Brussels), Frederik is using both modern and traditional seafood technique to craft a menu that emphasizes both quality and sustainability. The new spot is slated to open by the end of April, making it a perfect restaurant for a bite of seafood this spring and summer. (click here for more photos and words)
- CASA LUCA – Fabio Trabocchi, now that FIOLA is firmly placed in our hearts and minds as one of DC’s finest, has a new seafood, affordable concept, inspired by the dishes he grew up loving. From the press release which already has our mouths watering: “The menu will include charcuterie and cheese selections, Le Marche flatbreads such as crescia and chichì, antipasti and salads del campo (from the fields), housemade pastas, and main courses, such as roasted and grilled meats and fish. Presentations will be straightforward, allowing the fresh, seasonal ingredients to shine. Traditional dishes will take on a rustic elegance, appealing to modern palates craving familiar flavors.” Also coming soon for Trabocchi: Fiola Mare.
- BLACK WHISKEY – part whiskey bar, part restaurant, part gallery from the co-owners of Kushi, Black Whiskey is set to open at 1410 14th street. There is very little information floating around but according to Washingtonian’s “What to Expect” story: “the whiskey selection will be focusing on small-batch American producers like Smooth Ambler, Old Scout, and Corsair, around 20 draft beers, and cocktails from former Passenger barkeep Mick Perrigo. The fare, which Norris refers to as “19th century Scottish bar food,” is inspired by the United Kingdom’s carvery pubs, where bartenders shave slices of large roasts and serve them alongside traditional sides like Yorkshire pudding.”
- ROSE’S LUXURY – Aaron Silverman is an alum of 2941, Momofuku Noodle Bar and McCrady’s which, in and of itself, is interesting enough. But add to that one of the most affordable tasting menu options in town ($46), a menu separated into five sections (cold, warm, pasta, other goods, and meat) and a $90 chef’s table option which has no set courses or rules and you have on your hands one of the most intriguing new players on the DC restaurant block.
- LE DIPLOMATE – opening any second now really, on the corner of 14th and Q. If the tour we took of Starr’s restaurants in Philly is any indication (and we think it should be)-we’re all in for a treat with this French bistro “with an eclectic twist, notably when it comes to seafood. “Expect some bizarre mollusks,” we were told. If our platter at Parc this past weekend was any indication, we can expect loads of crabs, oysters, clams, lobster.”
- GHIBELLINA – the partners from Capitol Hill’s wonderful Acqua Al 2 come to Logan Circle (much like everyone else, it seems). The Chef Jonathan Copeland was previously at Society Fair and Palena. All good things.
- BEARNAISE – Spike Mendelsohn’s long awaited French Bistro concept is finally “just around the corner.” We’re ready to overdose on those french fries.
- NoPa – Ashok Bajaj’s track record says it all. If a man behind Oval Room, Rasika, Bombay Club, 701, Bibiana, Ardeo and Rasika West End wants to open a new place, who are we to not just line up and be as excited as humanly possible? The concept is “cutting edge brasserie,” and Washingtonian has a sneak peak into some renderings of the space.
- MOCKINGBIRD HILL – the neighborhood near Howard is about to become richer for one sherry-and-ham loving institution by Derek Brown. 40 seats, and we guess most of them will be taken most of the time. Washington Post has some more scoop.
- KAPNOS – for all of those who felt Mike Isabella really shined in his Zaytinya setting, here is a Greek concept to make you stand up and take notice. From the press release: “Isabella will draw inspiration from Northern Greece to create a menu of spreads, breads, phyllo pies, vegetables and other small plates, including his signature wood-grilled octopus. Dinner will culminate with the choice of carvings from whole animals that have been spit-roasted all day, including lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and suckling pig.”
- DEL CAMPO – Victor Albisu and partner Jeff Black (who knows a thing or two about making a restaurant WORK) takes over the old PS7’s space and transforms it into an upscale South American eatery, paying homage to Albisu’s Cuban and Peruvian roots. According to City Paper, you can expect “a rotating selection of grilled meats such as wagyu skirt steak, short ribs, chorizo, blood sausage, and sweetbread” while the bar menu “will highlight South American street food like the chivito sandwich, grilled skewered meats, and fried meats.”
- BLUE JACKET – It was only a matter of time before Neighborhood Restaurant Group had their own brewery. And OF COURSE they added a restaurant to it. Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac is set to pretzel you up to no end in the beer hall space, and Chef Kyle Bailey (who knows a thing or two about cooking around a great beer menu, as Birch & Barley and Churchkey have shown us) is prepping a menu of pot roasts, spaetzels and whole chickens for all to enjoy.
- IRON GATE – another Neighborhood Restaurant Group opening, this time around in Dupont Circle and in partnership with Vermillion’s Anthony Chittum. The menu will be Italian and Greek Inspired and EATER has more of the scoop.
- BABY WHALE – Tom Power’s more casual spot next to Corduroy adds to a growing Mount Vernon restaurant world (Which certainly had the BYT office all sorts of excited since we went from no casual-enough places to hang out at when we first moved here in 2010, to Sundevich, A&D, Seasonal Pantry, Table and now this.)
- unnamed project by John Mooney @ Union Market – Union Market has been kind of slaying it this past year (see below for MULTIPLE vignettes from their residents) but EVERYONE is losing their minds at the prospect of Bell Book & Candle’s Mooney showing up, planting a garden (on the roof?) and having his farm-to-table way with our stomachs.
- Finally: ASTRO DONUTS and GBD – if our DONUT FESTIVAL is anything to go by, these will have a line out of their doors.
- RED HEN -Bloomingdale gets a cool new bar and restaurant, designed by EDIT (the team whose visual vision brought us Daikaya, most of Eric Hilton’s establishments) and partners Mike O’Malley, Michael Friedman and Sebastian Zutant. On the menu: Virginia Clams Casino.
- B TOO – the team behind BELGA moves to 1300 block of 14th street. The concept stays mostly the same but we’re looking forward to all the mussels and frog legs and delicious beer selections we can get our hands on. Targeted opening: April, when apparently the restaurant population of 14th street will double.
- and the JUST opened IZAKAYA @ DAIKAYA + the Newly renovated ART & SOUL (click on the links for full sets of photos, words, feelings about food and drink and more)
When the weather turns warmer, we don’t care how close we are to swimsuit season. IT’S TIME FOR ICE CREAM (or, if you’re feeling like more of an adult, it’s time for some seriously seasonal cocktails). One of our favorite new spots for both just happens to be “mixtress” Gina Chersevani’s Buffalo & Bergen, the bright and bubbly New York-soda-shop-inspired bar with bites at Union Market. In addition to serving up bagels and knishes made with authentic New York tap water, Buffalo & Bergen also caters to your thirst needs with floats, egg creams, phosphates, and of course their boozy counterparts with full-service bar. One of the most incredible and unique aspects of the shop? They make all 15 of their own syrups from scratch using fresh fruit and herbs (some of the dried spices involved, it should be noted, come from suppliers in Maryland who are real witches). While you can order any of their syrups for home use in 16 and 32 ounces (they work great in a SodaStream), Gina and her right-hand lady Rachel Sergi showed us a thing or two about making syrups from scratch and even shared the recipe for their delectable spiced blueberry. Get your hands dirty (or don’t and give the professionals a call to order a week in advance for some syrup to call your very own).
1 pint berries
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
-Wash blueberries thoroughly.
-Place blueberries and in a large pot, mashing together with your hands (the mixture should feel like rough dough as the blueberries release water and coagulate with the sugar).
-When you are left with roughly one quart of mush, Add vinegar and water to mixture.
-Add cinnamon stick, green cardamom pods, and the bay leaf.
-Cover the pot and boil over medium heat or roughly 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-When the blueberries are translucent, remove from heat.
-WHILE IT IS HOT, strain through a fine colander. (If you wait until the contents of the pot are cold, they will be too thick to strain.)
-Let your syrup it sit at room temperature until it matches the temperature. After it does, store it in the fridge.
-Add to cocktails, floats, and more.
1 oz blueberry syrup
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 oz syrup
-Add syrup to the bottom of your glass and top with two scoops of ice cream.
-Fill glass 3/4 of the way full with soda water.
Going around claiming you’ve found the “perfect picnic basket” is liable to get you some scathing glances, and it might even lose you a friend or two. But let me ask, does a basket of buttermilk fried chicken, two mouthwatering side dishes (Mediterranean couscous salad and beet and blood orange salad are pictured below, but the list of available choices goes on), a glass of sparkling wine from you-pick-which geographical region, and homemade cookies sound like a pretty damn stellar picnic basket? Maybe even the perfect picnic basket? It does? We thought so, too. Cork Market on 14th now caters to the picnickers who thought they’d seen it all, but were fortunately mistaken.
What’s better in Spring than a get-together with all of your closest friends? When that get-together is a bonafide crawfish boil. Let’s be honest; you probably don’t know how to pull it off. You need giant pots and some Abita but beyond that, there’s a good chance you’re totally clueless and that’s OK. Jeff Black’s Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is here to help in more ways than one. This Saturday, April 6, they’re throwing their first crawfish boil of the season with Louisiana crawfish, suckling pig, peel-and-eat shrimp and more. To get you ready (and help in your own crawfish endeavors), we asked Chef James Huff for some tips on throwing the perfect boil.
“Spring is the time for crawfish, or “mudbugs” as some people refer to them. In Louisiana, as you get close to Easter, it kind of marks the start of crawfish boil time. May is generally considered peak time for crawfish-they are at their fattest and sweetest. While it’s possible to get them as early as February, they will be very small and not nearly as good. The 4th of July typically marks the end of mudbug season. At Pearl Dive, we source our crawfish from a farm in Crowley, LA. The farmers dig long trenches in their rice crops and flood them, making a nice temporary home for the mudbugs before harvest. The basics of a boil are actually pretty simple–water, seasoning, an open flame, crawfish, a plastic tarp, a big table covered with newspaper, and of course beer. There are many schools of thought on crawfish boil techniques but here are a few of my tips for a good crawfish boil:
1) Beer… lots of beer. Oh yeah, and paper towels too!
2) Good crawfish. It’s not worth the effort if they are small and full of mud.
3) Purge the crawfish in unsalted water (this is a huge point of contention in Louisianna–to purge, not to purge, salt, no salt, etc).
4) Make a nice “boil.” I use a concentrated liquid seafood boil, lots of garlic bulbs cut in half, lots of lemons–also cut in half, lots of spices (ours is a secret blend), a big sachet of herbs, a large sachet of pickling spice, corn and potatoes (which are added at various stages).
5) Throw some butter in the boil before you add the crawfish–it helps the meat slide right out.
6) Never actually boil the crawfish; poaching is better.
7) Cool the boil down to allow for a longer soak. The longer the crawfish soak, the more flavor they absorb. Most people use ice or frozen corn to cool down the boil.
8) When the crawfish start to sink, they will have absorbed about as much flavor as they are going to–timing is the key.
9) Trial and error is the best way to get it right. Tweaking spices, cook and soak times are the best way to achieve flavor profiles and the levels of nuance you prefer.
10) Most importantly, have fun!!!!!”
One of our favorite ways to cool off is a trip to Estadio where Adam Bernbach, the spot’s fearless and inventive bar manager, creates and executes the restaurant’s trademark slushitos and tonics with diligence, an eye for detail and the utmost care. Those familiar with these little tastes of heaven know that they change frequently, often multiple times over within a season. We dropped by and spent some time with Adam to learn just how these D.C.-famous drinks get crafted.
Let’s begin with Estadio’s current slushito, the Pistachio Manzanilla and Gin. I’ve got to admit; this could very well be my favorite drink in D.C. at the moment with its unique blend of natural creaminess (from the pistachios themselves), and the perfect balance between sweet and savory. The road to this perfect concoction began when Adam began working on a pistachio soda. His co-worker, Greg, took the idea and ran with it and thus an incredible (yes, incredible) drink was made. The team at Estadio first starts the process by grinding the pistachios down to a meal with water and sugar, then adding a whole bottle of both gin and Manzanilla sherry, the crispest, driest of the sherries. From there, they add water and blend once more. My jaw drops in its simplicity. “That’s really the point,” Adam says. “We try to get as simple and clean and elegant a profile as possible.”
When it comes to Adam’s tonics, there’s a lot of chemistry involved. The tonics that involve spices are often steeped like a tea and his Strawberry Espelette Cava–arriving at the end of April or beginning of May–is no exception. It’s phenomenal, both fresh and sweet. The Espelette (a distant relative to cayenne pepper) smooths out the denseness of the strawberries with a slight burn and kick at the back of the throat, just one of the many parts of a whole that make the balance so unique–in fact, this tonic’s got more ingredients than Adam generally uses. Fresh strawberries, pepper, brut rose cava, lime juice, water, sugar, and red cinchona all combine for a silky, spicy, sweet and refreshing drink we know you’ll be sipping all spring and summer (or at least until it’s gone).
Watching Johnny Miele plate a dessert at Range is something of a geometry lesson. A perfectly spread rectangle of white chocolate Mandarin cream sauce is soon masterfully adorned with delicious looking prisms, circles, and scoops. The final form emerges with architectural grace before our unblinking eyes. It was just as delicious, and just as hard to destroy, as it looks in the pictures.
The citrusy mix of flavors can be combined within each spoonful at the discretion of the consumer in a seemingly infinite number of equally bold ways, as there occurs on the plate a variety of starkly contrasting but richly complementary springtime flavors. The devils food style chocolate cake, infused with Ceylon tea herbs, brings out a rich, smoky feel to each bite, and takes on an unforgettable subtext when paired with the Seville orange caramel dipping sauce. You will tell your mother about this dessert.
If any mixed drink felt right at home in spring and summer, it’s a classic punch. It’s perfect for large parties, outdoor grilling, relaxing in the sun with friends–who are we kidding, with the right punch, anyplace becomes a party. We stopped by Trademark Drink + Eat to learn a thing or two about the classic concoction and even picked up a recipe or two, just for you. Mixologist Chris Bassett introduced us to his Trademark Fish House Punch, a recipe that dates all the way back to the industrial fishing heyday in Philadelphia. While the original recipe boasted rum, peach brandy, black tea, confectioners sugar and some lemons, Chris uses regular brandy and lemon verbena tea (though he still keeps the peach flavor alive with some Peach Lambic poured over the top of every glass). It’s strong, it’s flavorful and traditionally served over one large block of ice, it’s quenching. As Chris noted, “This is boozy and it’s intended to be.”
His sangria, conversely, is light and fresh with a white wine base, prosecco for textural bubbles, citrus from berries and other fruit, and apple liquor that intensifies the fruitiness of the drink. The real surprise is that this sangria is not sweet. In fact, it’s fairly tart, which is a welcome flavor profile after what feels like a lifetime of too many too-sweet sangrias. Try them at home for yourself–your guests/friends/neighbors/family will thank you.
Trademark Fish House Punch
1 bottle Myers Rum
1/2 bottle Korbel Brandy
1.5 qts. lemon verbena tea
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 lb. confectioners Sugar
*Top with Peach Lambic, at your discretion
1 bottle Albarino
1 bottle prosecco
1/2 bottle Berentzen Apfel Korn
Sliced seasonal fruit of your choosing
*Mix and enjoy!
When Amanda McClements, owner and creative director of Salt and Sundry, starts to talk about the beautifully weathered wooden furniture throughout her Union Market location, the southern accent she no doubt carried with her into her mid-twenties takes effect once again. The furniture – all of it – has been hand crafted by her father, a Durham, NC carpenter and blues man, and his rustic approach to woodworking fits perfectly with the shop’s decidedly “Southern/Bohemian” motif. In each place setting are a number of handmade and vintage wears, all of them total finds for anyone looking to provide his or her dining room table with a personalized, gentile spirit this Spring. Those gorgeous Turkish linen towels come by way of Berna Rodman.
Left: L0stine black walnut cutting board ($145), opal tea lights ($8 short, $12 tall), garland wine glass ($14), garland Champaigne flute ($14), white flat wear ($3.25 each), Fruitwood utensils ($18 each), olive wood spoons ($20 for a set of four), Seletti porcelain trays (large $27 small $16), vintage birdcage ($165). Right: Patterned bohemian dessert plates ($74 for a set of four), patterned bohemian bowls ($68 for a set of four), amber Moroccan glasses ($8), recycled glass carafe ($28), Corsica linen napkins ($55 for a set of four), small glass ice chiller – limes not included – ($56), colored tea light ($8 each).
Classic white wear ($8, $10), washed linen napkins ($45 for a set of four), smoked water glasses ($10 each), smoked wine glasses ($9), recycled glass carafe ($28), birdcage planter ($65), vintage silver wear ($7 a piece), hobnail mercury votive ($12), frosted resin antlers ($385), handmade linen Turkish towels ($62.50).
Spring is a time for rebirth and growth and there is no restaurant in D.C. this season that understands this better than Art & Soul. After months of renovation, the Capitol Hill spot just reopened its doors not only with a new look but a refreshing, conscientiously sourced menu. The painstaking care that goes into finding perfect eco-friendly suppliers for their new cuisine is a labor of love that Chef Wes Morton wouldn’t have any other way. Take for instance Wes’s cornbread. The southern Louisianan has understood the importance of quality ingredients in comfort food his whole life, which eventually led him to Geechie Boy Mill (“the best grits and cornmeal in the country”). After tasting Wes’s cornbread, we think he might be right. The final product is thick but still airy, incredibly moist, and textured but somehow still smooth. The pockets of bacon and fresh scallions burst with flavor over your tongue, making for a buttery, summery snack that transports you to a simpler time. Chef Wes was kind enough to share the recipe with us so that we can all try our hand at what is legitimately the best cornbread we’ve ever had, though we highly recommend stopping by for some of Art & Soul’s other upscale comfort items (or you know, just an entire table full of this cornbread).
1 large shallot, julienned
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 all purpose flour (unbleached)
2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
8 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 2/3 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
-Pour out and save bacon fat in a clean, aluminum can. Put aside.
-Add cider vinegar and sorghum to the bacon and shallot mixture in the pan. *You could also use molasses though that makes the flavor stronger or honey, though that makes the flavor sweeter, so only use half the amount of either.
-In separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients and eggs. Whisk together.
-Star slowly incorporating the wet into the dry
-Hand-mix or whisk the contents of both bowls together in one but don’t overwork them. (This would develop gluten in the flour; you want to keep it nice and airy.)
-Add two cups of the bacon-scallion mixture and whisk into batter.
-Rotate your aluminum can slowly, lining the inside surface with bacon fat. Fill with roughly 1 1/2 cups of batter leaving one centimeter at the top of the can.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
-Leave it in the can to cool between 5 and 10 minutes. (Be careful, it’ll be hot!) Slide cornbread out of the can and slice it. For best results, top with butter, a pinch of sea salt, finely shaved chives and dried scallions. Enjoy!
Imagine this: you’re seated on a porch, a blanket, or a patio, warm air tickling your skin. All around you is gourmet picnic fare–fried chicken, a bowl of peaches, a bale of softshell crab, a summer salad. In your hand, you hold a refreshing glass of wine that both balances and compliments your meal (and your afternoon). But which wine? Pairing can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be; we asked Brent Kroll, The Neighborhood Restaurant Group‘s new wine director, his top five picks for your summer evenings, afternoons and outings. With his comprehensive guide, you’ll make that imaginary picnic a reality in no time.
1) 2008 Hansen-Lauer, Riesling Sekt, Mosel, Germany
The only thing more refreshing than Riesling might be sparkling Riesling. Done in the Champagne method and Sekt (the equivalent of Brut Champagne, implying dry), it contains the white peach notes and minerality of Riesling but without the stereotype of cloying sugar. This is a small estate of 2HA and there is only 110 cases of this made for the world. With the truckload of carbonation and very high acidity, it’s great to clean the palate after eating fried food such as Chicken or Softshell Crab. Acid in wine pairs extremely well with the acid in food so it also aligns well with a simple fruit bowl.
2) 2010 Bernard Baudry “La Croix Boissee” Chinon Blanc, Loire, France
Loire valley is a region the spans across France’s oldest natural river. It’s nicknamed “The garden of France” and is home to some of the most refreshing wines on the planet such as Sancerre. When a French wine states the area of Chinon it’s normally for Cabernet Franc. This, however, is made from the very acidic Chenin Blanc grapes. This cuvee (special wine) is not frequently seen in most years and comes from a 1 hectare (about 2.5 acre) plot of land. This wine has flavors of green tree fruit that is restrained and spends 18 months in oak; a summer salad with a vinaigrette would be a good simple pairing for the acid in Chenin Blanc. It’s also great to not overwhelm something like olive oil or butter poached Cod. Due to the earthiness in Chenin Blanc is can also go surprisingly well with green vegetables.
3) 2012 Ameztoi Rubentis, Txakolina Rose, Basque, Spain
This light pink rose comes from Euskadi, known as Basque County in Northwestern Spain. The main difference between this and a normal dry rose is its petillant/fizz that comes across as a slight tickle on the tongue. It’s a rose made from a blending the white hondarribi zuri and the red hondarribi beltza. Best when drunk young, this is a great patio aperitif on its own. With food its spritz and acidity will be highlighted by citrus and stand up well to a summer gazpacho due to the high acidity in the wine and in the tomatoes. Its effervescence would also clean the brininess away from any raw shellfish, especially if there’s mignonette.
4) Grosbot-Barbra, “Chambre d’ Edouard” Saint-Pourcain Rouge, Loire, France
Grosbot Barbra is a small estate in St-Pourcain that produces 2/3 white wine but makes some great valued reds. This appellation isn’t very well known and was just given it’s current status is 2009. This Pinot named “Edwards Room” is less earthy than the more famous French Burgundy and is much less oaked and alcoholic than the California style. The wine contains subtle baking spice and soft red fruit like plums, apple and cherries. Light tannins make this a great pairing with lean meat like Roasted chicken. Flavorful fish like salmon and tuna also pair well with the soft texture in the wine.
5) Lustau, “Los Arcos” Amontillado, Sherry, Jerez, Spain
Lustau is one of my favorite bodegas in all of Jerez. The special part about sherry, that’s only done a few places in the world, is aging under flor. Flor (which means flower) is a layer of yeast that settles on top of sherry as it ages. It adds really odd but interesting complexity that reminiscent of the sea breeze in the region. Although this sherry has flavors of nuts and caramel, it finishes dry. This is great to tame strong fish/meat or to sit around and enjoy with salted toasted nuts or olives. Sherry is extremely disrespected because bad examples are used for cooking but have it with the right food and it’s a game changer.
Chef John Manolatos has been serving fresh, sustainable products since taking the reigns as head chef of Cashion’s Eat Place in 2007. Farm-to-table isn’t a trendy term for John, but rather his culinary mantra. One of his favorite summer varieties of fish is a popular menu item, the Mediterranean Whole Dorade Royale also known as Gilt Head Bream–we know it might sounds scary but trust us; there is nothing fresher than an entire fish (and it looks gorgeous as part of a dinner party spread, to boot). Like most of his dishes, the preparation is simple, allowing the original flavors of the fish to shine. Here are a few of John’s tips for preparing whole fish at home– try it with Maryland Rockfish for best results.
1. Preparation: When shopping, check for clear eyes and bright red gills, this assures freshness. Next, scale the fish completely and trim all fins with scissors, this helps with removing meat when ready to eat. Rinse fish under cold water after scaling and pat dry. For seasoning, slice half a lemon and take a sprig of rosemary and stuff both in the cavity of the fish. Next season with salt and black pepper. Tip: Look for 1 to 1 1\4 pounds of fish per person.
2. Cooking: Preheat over to 375. Place 4 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat on the store, about 3 minutes. Hold tail firmly and place head in first to lay the fish in pan. Sear for two minutes, to make sure fish is not sticking give the pan a little shake. If fish is moving freely, take a fish spatula and turn over. Place in oven for 6 minutes, flip and return to oven for 6 minutes. Remove from over and pan, let rest for 5 min. Drizzle with olive oil and rest of lemon.
3. For grilling: After seasoning the fish, place it on a high heat grill with no oil. Make sure the grates are very clean so it doesn’t stick. Grill on both sides for 3 minutes each. Move to medium heat and grill on each side for 4 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon. Enjoy!
- First off, ALL OF APRIL is National Grilled Cheese Month, which is possibly the greatest national celebration ever created (sorry we’re not sorry, Mother’s/Father’s Day). There are some fantastic specials around town, though we’re so pumped for Bourbon Steak‘s four special grilled cheese sandwiches (served one week at a time, so get on this while you can). From April 1-4, try the Moody Blue Cheese with charred radicchio on pumpernickel. From April 7-11 you can order the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with onion jam on rye; April 14-18 offers the Truffle Pecorino with foie gras butter on brioche and last but not least, from April 21-25 and 28-30, you can check out Raclette with dijon and cornichons on baguette. Yummmm…
- April also happens to be National Empanada Month (somebody up there likes us), and Cuba Libre is celebrating with an extended empanada menu throughout the month 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.
- Every month through July, you can now take wine classes with John Toigo, Fiola‘s wine director and–get ready–each 90-minute class is served complementary bites from Chef Fabio Trabocchi. Learn the ins and outs of vintage wines, bubble wines, the benefits of aging wines, Spanish wines and more…
- 4/6/13 – As mentioned above, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is hosting their first crawfish boil of the season this Saturday, April 6. Chow down on 250 lbs. of Louisiana crawfish, sustainably raised suckling pig, peel-and-eat shrimp, cornbread, house-made Andouille sausage, beer, more beer, sides, desserts and more for only $65. (Oh, and there’ll be zydeco.) If this isn’t a great way to kick off spring, we don’t know what is. Can’t make it? They hope to throw another two or three crawfish boils before the end of summer.
- 4/7/13 – Cochon 555 is, as always, going to be INCREDIBLE. Head to the Newseum this Sunday and witness Mike Isabella, Bryan Voltaggio, Kyle Bailey, Haidar Karoum and Jeff Buben facing off in a battle of pig. The champion gets the title of “Prince of Porc,” you get delicious food cooked by some of D.C.’s best chefs. Everyone wins.
- 5/4/13 – If you feel like getting gritty, the D.C. Chili Cookoff at RFK stadium is back this May featuring local restaurants competing to be tis year’s chili king (or queen). There will also be music (headliners this year happen to be Soundgarden) AND it’s all for a good cause. Sweet.
- 5/19/13 – 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 (Deathfix, DJ Will Eastman, Kid Congo and more) and cocktail competition between mixologists from The Gibson, Birch & Barley, Black Jack and Bar Pilar. Remember how much fun we had last year?
- 6/1/13 – Ready for a PHENOMENAL event? This year marks the 20th Taste of Georgetown. Here you can try over 30 D.C. restaurants with over 60 dishes to sample, plus wine pairings and live music. Nothing not to love.
- 6/14 and 6/15 – 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.