Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I will be out of town for Halloween this year, and it seems like I will miss a lot more than the usual Georgetown debauchery this time around. Enjoy!

Dia de Muertos

José Andrés and the team at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana led by Head Chef Joe Raffa will be hosting a Day of the Dead celebration, one of the most important holidays in Mexican culture. For one week, October 27th through November 2nd, Oyamel will provide a special menu featuring tasty tamales, specialty handcrafted cocktails and a tamal cart on the Oyamel’s patio. Highlights from the menu include Sopa de Calabaza con carnitas, a butternut squash soup flavored with Mexican cinnamon, annatto and habañero chile finished with crispy fried pork and marigolds and Ensalada de Agucate, a salad of avocado, purple tomatillo, red onion and crispy pork rinds topped with a Mexican oregano dressing.

Ghost Roast
On Halloween starting at 6 PM, Poste will celebrate fall and Halloween with a special Poste ‘Ghost Roast.’ With a menu featuring wood roasted baby goat and The Linus, Roasted local pumpkin, Flor de Cana 7 year old rum, Bacardi coco, touch of milk, dusted with nutmeg. All guests are encouraged, but not required to wear a Halloween costume. A five-course chef’s tasting for two will be awarded to the guest with the best costume of the evening. Cost for the roast with pairings is $45 exclusive of tax and gratuity. Space is limited (30 seats total) and reservations are required. In the event of inclement weather, the Poste Ghost Roast will be moved indoors to the Poste Atrium. For reservations and for more information contact Stacy Nemeth at (202) 449-7062

Trick or Tea
Over at Morrison House, their traditional Story Time tea will have a Halloween spin with a special reading of ‘The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat’ by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Chef Dennis Marron will prepare a fall and Halloween themed spread for the event, including house-made mini pumpkin pies, Halloween candy and treats, organic teas, freshly baked scones and biscuits and a selection of gourmet sandwiches. Kids $28 Adults $38. For reservations please call 703-838-8000 or email

Other Events

Doggie Happy Howloween Costume Contest: Two-and-four-legged guests are encouraged to don their best Halloween getups in front of a judge panel at this event benefiting the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Prizes will be awarded to the best owner/dog couple, the most glamorous canine, and the overall “top dog.” (Hotel Monaco Alexandria/Jackson 20, 5-8 p.m., Oct. 29)

Pumpkin Carving Contest: Five years running, the annual Pumpkin Carving Contest has proven to be a sure-fire “gourd” time. With the Helix Lounge providing pre-scooped pumpkins, carving tools and great prizes, all patrons will need to bring are creative ideas and a steady hand. (Helix Lounge, 6-8 p.m., Oct. 27)

Yelloween Bash: Topaz Bar invites Washingtonians to add a little color to their Halloween celebration, by attending the “Yelloween Bash,” sponsored by Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow Label. At the event, guests can enjoy tarot card readings, a costume contest and complimentary Veuve Clicquot champagne with hors d’oeuvres. (Topaz Bar, 5-10 p.m., Oct. 31)

Vampire Ball Costume Party: It’s official - the nation has been bit by the vampire craze, and this Halloween, Washingtonians can celebrate their other-worldly fascination in style at Helix Lounge’s Vampire Ball. Patrons can don their favorite vampire-inspired costume for prizes, and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and specialty cocktails. (Helix Lounge, 6 p.m. – 2 a.m., Oct. 31)

Let them eat pie

Food & Friends is having its third annual Slice of Life Pie Sale - the target is to sell 6,000 pies to provide 3,500 Thanksgiving meals for children and adults facing HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-changing illnesses.

To kick off the event, celebrity pie servers will be giving out free pieces of pie from 11.30 AM to 1.30 PM in front of the JW Marriott (1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) and in front of the Marriott at Metro Center (755 12th Street NW) next Tuesday, October 20. You can purchase whole Thanksgiving pies for yourself or a Food & Friends client.

Featured pies include Picture Perfect Pumpkin, Oh So Sweet Potato, and Harvest Apple Crumb Pie for $25, and Southern Pecan Pie and Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake for $35.

The pie sale lasts until Thursday, November 19th at 5 p.m. and the pies are available for pick up on Tuesday, November 24, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. at Food & Friends or one of 14 CVS locations in DC, Maryland or Virginia. For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Always an event

I had a long and difficult week, so I decided to treat myself to a late lunch at Woo Chon, one of my favorite Korean places in Manhattan. The meal was lovely - Bibimbab and all the kimchi I could eat. After mastering the art of smartphone and chopsticks, I headed down W 36th on my way to Penn Station when a sign with a very French looking O caught my eye. Koreatown had morphed into the Fashion District, and there, amongst papier mache creatures from dreams, stood a pastry case with fresh made macarons.

My love for macarons has been discussed. The shop is tiny, decked out in pastels, but still finds a way to have a full sandwich menu. The macarons are $1.95 each, and are also sold in boxes. There are a few places to sit, but I decided to just get some to go.

As I pored over the contents of the case, the women behind the counter gave one of their regulars an impromptu French lesson. I chose a poppy seed macaron (bright red, of course, and decorated with actual poppy seeds) and an orange blossom macaron (light yellow on one side, orange on the other). As I was about to pay, I noticed one of the servers was taking the time to curl the ribbon she had diligently placed on top of my small cellophane bag. While I fished for my wallet, I asked her not to bother - they would surely be gone way before I made it down 8th Avenue. "I am going to eat them!" "Well, yes, madame, that is what everyone does." "I mean they are for me, not pour ouffrir" (ah, my rustier by the day French!) She put the finishing touches on her bow and as she hands them to me says, "Here Madame, enjoy. A gift for yourself."

But of course. I should know better than to tell a French woman food is not an event. Had I not seen the "Macarons are Glutten Free" sign by the door, I would have felt very much removed from New York.

The macarons were fresh, fragrant, and as delicious as they were pretty. The poppy seed one, as much as I relate the poppy seed to Eastern European cooking, struck me as quintessentially American - direct and playful. Once DC gets over its cupcake craze, we can get started on these.

Macaron Café
161 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
T/F (212) 564-3525

My favorite things

I love coffee and my cameras in almost equal measure, so I was delighted to get an e-mail this morning from the Renaissance M Street hotel announcing their “Where Does Your illy Take You” contest.

In celebration of DC’s upcoming FotoWeek, Caffé at the Renaissance M Street Hotel is holding a photography contest calling for creative snapshots of where people have been with their cup of illy coffee. The contset is open from October 1 – 22, 2009. One grand prize winner will receive the “Picture Perfect Weekend at Renaissance M Street Hotel" to be used the weekend of November 7, 2009, when DC’s official FotoWeek starts. The weekend include 365 days of complimentary illy coffee at Caffé, where the winning photo and honorable mentions will be framed and displayed.

To submit an entry, visit Photos will be judged by a panel on creativity, uniqueness, artistic expression, and creative use of the illy coffee cup. Winners will be announced on October 26, 2009.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You oughta know

Photo courtesy of Equinox / Chef Todd Gray

The great state of Alaska has given DC more to talk about than Sarah Palin. October Marks Alaska Wild Salmon Month in DC, and chefs and restaurants are helping Trout Unlimited promote and protect Alaska's Bristol Bay, in an effort to spotlight the Bay's wild salmon and the risks they face from the proposed Pebble mine, the world’s largest open-pit gold and copper mine. The proposed Pebble mine threatens to pollute the pristine habitat of this iconic watershed which produces the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.

As part of Alaska Wild Salmon Month, a number of prominent D.C.-area restaurants will feature Bristol Bay salmon on their menus throughout October. Wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska, are one of the tastiest, most plentiful and yet threatened fish on the planet. Tens of millions of ruby-red sockeye salmon return from the Pacific Ocean to their natal rivers in the wilds of Southwest Alaska each summer, to the same place where mining companies are planning to build one of the world’s largest open-pit gold and copper mines.

During the week of Oct. 19-23, Trout Unlimited will host several Bristol Bay wild salmon events in Washington, D.C. to celebrate Alaska Wild Salmon Month, including the Red Gold Screening and Panel Discussion on October, 22, 2009, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the National Geographic Society (1145 17th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20036).

Participating restaurants include:

Blue Ridge Restaurant
Bon Appetit Management Co. cafes & restaurants
Coppi's Organic Restaurant
Equinox Restaurant
Granville Moore's
Harry's Tap Room
Hook Restaurant
Kaz Sushi Bistro
Poste Moderne Brasserie
Provence Cafe and Market (Bridgeport, WV)
Redwood Restaurant and Bar
Rock Creek Mazza
Singapore Bistro
Sonoma Restaurant

Monday, October 5, 2009

J and M’s Creamed Corn

J., one of the usual suspects for Restaurant Week blew us away this weekend with her twist on Michael Chiarello’s Sage Creamed Corn. The corn came from the White House Farmers’ Market, and she served it with Blue Corn Chips from Trader Joe’s. A perfect seasonal recipe with just a touch of heat.

Sage and Poblano Creamed Corn


4 ears corn, kernels removed from cob

1 tbsp sweet butter

6 sage leaves

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 medium poblano pepper
1 sweet red pepper
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream


Lightly brown butter in saute pan over med high heat, add sliced garlic. Cook until garlic is light brown. Add sage and peppers, and saute until aromatic and tender. Add corn and saute for one minute. Add salt and pepper. Add cream and simmer until cream is reduced in half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool.