Make it Or Break It: Food Worth Keeping or Destroying Your 2013 Resolutions For
svetlana | Jan 16, 2013 | 9:00AM |

all photos: Jeff Martin (unless otherwise noted)

OH JANUARY. The month of crushed resolution dreams and already ignored new gym memberships (oh wait, is that just us?). Anyway-since we all started the month with the best of intentions, we figured as we dive into the second half of the first twelfth of 2013, we may as well celebrate both the most healthy and the most decadent dishes DC has to offer. So-we we went on a hunt for both in some of our favorite restaurants in the city and this is what we came up with. FOOD PORN does not come close to describing it.

To be nice to you, we’re kicking things off with food so good you won’t even realize it is good for you. Big trend: KALE EVERYWHERE.


Kick things off with the most important meal of the day: ART AND SOUL’S Toasted Quinoa Granola with red and white quinoa, steel-cut oats, toasted pecans, dried sour cherries, yogurt (or milk)

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Paul Zerdin WINNER of Americas Got Talent Live at Arlington Drafthouse @ Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse
$30 / $30
“Technically immaculate, it’s what he does with his slick talent that really sets him apart. His relationship with the characters has all the dramatic tension of a real life double act” – The Guardian Paul Zerdin has helped make ventriloquism cool again. From the Royal Variety Performance to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to India’s comedy circuit, Montreal’s Just For Laughs and UK tours with his Sponge Fest show and forthcoming Puppet Master tour. Paul’s fresh twist on this traditional comedy art has impressed everyone from Her Majesty the Queen onwards. “It is Zerdin’s sharp script that is the heartbeat of the show” – The Times Crucially, Paul Zerdin appeals to both comedy club and mainstream audiences in equal measure. The UK’s number one ventriloquist’s career has included appearances on everything from the Royal Variety Performance, Paramount and Comedy Central’s, The World Stands Up to ITV Daybreak, BBC TV’s The One Show, Sky News and Jason Manford’s Comedy Rocks. **** "Pure audience gratifying magic” – Time Out With Paul’s winning combination of technical skill, hilarious ventriloquism, charm and impeccable comic timing, Paul Zerdin’s live shows see him bring to life several very different characters amongst whom are the cheeky pre-adolescent Sam, belligerent OAP Albert and precocious infant Baby and in 2012 on his Puppet Master live tour, Paul will be introducing a new character! “I see myself as a one man Muppet sitcom, reining the characters in” commented Zerdin. “The old man has a thing for the ladies and so does Sam who is about to become a teen and knows naughty words. Between the two of them they lead the baby astray and the baby, of course, wants to know everything. I think it is important to have characters that people can relate to rather than, say, talking sheep which are less believable”. Simply put, Zerdin is the man who can make ventriloquism look cool” – The Stage Zerdin, who got the ‘biggest laugh of the night’ at the Royal Variety Performance in 2009, according to audience members, also went on to get 5 star reviews at that year’s Edinburgh Festival. Paul returned to Edinburgh to sold-out houses in 2010 and made his debut at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival that year before embarking on a major UK tour with Sponge Fest in 2010/2011. That Paul Zerdin should make his career in show business is not entirely unexpected “my mother was a BBC Radio 2 presenter and my father worked for the BBC World Service, so my sister and I spent a lot of time in the studios”, he reveals. When Paul was 10, a family friend made him a puppet theatre which he used to put on shows. As he is the first to admit, his hobby quickly grew into an obsession. “The real turning point was when I was given a book on ventriloquism by the legendary Ray Alan. By the time I hit my teens I was spending half an hour a day in front of the mirror practising talking without moving my lips.” Having failed his GCSE’s in spectacular style, Zerdin got a job in a magic shop, developing his magic skills along the way. Simultaneously, he was also developing a sideline as a children’s entertainer. “Compared to my friends and their measly paper rounds, I was raking it in!” he laughs. Zerdin made his TV debut as a magician on the BBC’s Tricky Business and shortly afterwards, at the age of just 20, landed a two year contract presenting the Disney produced kids’ programme Rise and Shine for GMTV. In 1996, Paul was the first outright winner – by over 100,000 votes of LWT’s The Big Big Talent Show, hosted by Jonathan Ross. The experience not only raised his profile, but introduced him to Nigel Lythgoe, the man who would go on to create reality shows such as Popstars and American Idol. Lythgoe took the 22 year old Paul under his wing, paving the way for appearances on scores of shows, Tonight at the London Palladium, and Generation Game among them. It was Nigel who gave Paul his first brush with Royalty when he secured him a spot on the Prince’s Trust Gala Show in 1997. “That was a totally surreal experience”, he laughs. “I was sharing a dressing room with Julian Clary, Alan Davies and Frank Bruno with The Spice Girls next door”. By the late nineties it was obvious that traditional variety shows were losing their appeal and it was then that Zerdin decided to introduce stand-up into his routine, a decision that has paid off handsomely. From Ray Alan through to Keith Harris, ventriloquists have been a staple of UK entertainment for years, but it has taken Paul Zerdin to bring his mix of stand-up and ventriloquism to the forefront of contemporary entertainment to truly put ventriloquism on the comedy map.
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and then-dive into some delicious, colorful, seasonal salads. Birch & Barley’s Roasted Beet & Farro Salad with House made Cottage Cheese, Candied Pecans, & Mint


up your iron content with one of these two amazing Kale salads: Farmers Fishers Bakers‘ Purple & Black Kale Salads made with fresh raw kale, hazelnuts, and dates, and you won’t be missing any of that bad stuff that you gave up.


or Firefly’s chopped kale salad with honeycrisp apples, smoked pumpkin seeds and a light apple cider vinaigrette (photo by Scott Suchman)

Looking for a full meal on a limited calorie intake, even on a slightly special occasion? Fiola just brought back Maria light menu, a three-course, prix-fixe menu filled with healthy options for appetizers, entrees and even dessert. The menu is inspired by Fabio’s wife, Maria, who says she loves to eat but she also loves to fit into her clothes. Dishes change regularly but here are a few examples so you can get an idea: Escarole with roasted beets and La Tur cheese, Snapper with seafood brodetto, quinoa and Manila clams, and Sgroppino (Red Currant and Prosecco sorbet)


Need something quick and healthy and very affordable? Kaiso Salad from YO! Sushi (sesame marinated Japanese seaweed, edamame and carrots) is 120 calories and just $3.50 (photo by Stephanie Breijo)


In the vegan friendly corner:  Sticky Fingers’ Carrot Ginger Salad with soy pepper steak and fresh vegetables


1789’s brussels sprout salad with toasted pine nuts and pecorino toscano.


And for your protein fix: Four Seasons‘ Skillet Roast Salmon with Eel Sauce, Sticky Rice, and Shitake Miso Broth


Now, to ease into the indulgences:


The Source is about to debut a special  that combines the best of two worlds and it involves a mix and match list of prix fixe sushi and Champagne in the lounge on the weekends (starting THIS weekend). So the healthy sushi will negate the celebratory Champagne, or that’s the plan, at tleast.



We’ll start with the savories and the most ridiculously sinful/extravagant treat for everyone: the $95 Wagyu burger @ Bourbon Steak. Only 5 are made every Monday with A5 grade wagyu, which is the highest, best quality wagyu you can get anywhere in the world (and there is plenty of other wagyu options on the menu too, in case you were wondering).


Looking for a little bit more of an every day indulgence? Read on:

Founding Farmers Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, made with fresh lobster and with a rich gouda–cheddar gratin.


Bandolero‘s Queso Fundido with housemade chorizo, poblano manchego with a sunny side up egg on top, just for good measure


And sticking with the Mexican theme: Taco Bamba‘s Masa Crusted Foie Gras with butternut sage salsa, pickled heart of palm, white mole


For hardcore meat lovers, we have 3 amazing sandwich options:
first up: The Steak & Cheese sandwich at Granville Moore’s (brisket, onions, cheddar cheese, horseradish cream on toasted baguette, served with frites – available lunch & dinner)



Urbana’s Foie Brat (a mixture of chicken breast, foie gras and pork fat back) elevates the usual brat indulgence to a next level (photo by Dakota Fine)

Can’t decide whether you want a grilled cheese or a cheeseburger? Farmers Fishers Bakers Wisconsin Grilled Cheeseburger to the rescue: a beef patty sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches – the pinnacle of decadence. You have your choice of sides, but the only logical one to go with a burger of this intensity is french fries.


Graffiato’s Glazed Pork Belly with apple and nigella chilis


And we saved our personal favorite savory deal breaker for last. Over at PROOF there is a winter cassoulet on the menu right now that legitimately we are still dreaming of. In it: crispy duck, pork belly and housemade duck sausage with flageolet beans, baby spinach, smoked bacon and garlic bread crumbs.



In fact, have one more photo of it:


and we certainly hope you saved some (serious) room for dessert:
we may as well start with the most intense one we encountered: The Titanic-from Carmine’s – essentially a massive banana split (edible smoke stacks included) Carmine’s style. 6 scoops of ice cream over a chocolate torte cake surrounded by bananas, whipped cream, pineapple covered in chocolate sauce. And yes, they make a slightly smaller version, and yes, it is called a tugboat.






Next, the cannollis from Fiola. No words, just photos:



“Grilled Banana” & Nutella Croissant French toast with Whipped Cream and Maple Syrup from Four Seasons


Napoleon’s Brioche Bread Pudding made with raisins, bourbon, brioche toast, and zabaglione gratinee



And finally (omg) Evening Star‘s massive house made sticky buns with brown sugar, toffee, and cream cheese


Feel free to let us know in the comments what some of your favorite healthy vs. sinfully indulgent dishes around town are….