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Plus Jaleo's Tomatina Festival returns. By Nelson Billington
Mu Ramen pops up in Washington this weekend inside a Burke pho shop. Photograph via Facebook.

Industry night: Head to DNV Rooftop on Monday evening for Closed Sessions industry night, where top bartenders from Oyamel, Fiola Mare, and more sling cocktails. Drop in between 8 and 10:30 for $5 drinks specials, and $3 beers from 3 Stars Brewing Company. Admission is free; a $10 charitable donation is encouraged.

Late-night pop-up: Chef Hamilton Johnson of Vidalia visits Granville Moore’s on Monday night from 10 pm to 1 am for a special dinner, no reservations necessary. The three-course menu includes dishes like veal tongue salad, cod cheeks, and a banana cream pie ($48 per person).

Restaurant picnic: The Fainting Goat continues its summer picnic series on Monday evening with a crab feast. A minimum of two guests per table can dig into Chesapeake Bay crabs, seasonal sides, and dessert ($25 per person). Advance reservations are required. The Monday crab feasts will continue through August.

Tons of tomatoes: The Tomatina Festival returns to Jaleo, Monday through August 16. Dine at any of the three Washington locations and try tomato-filled dishes and drinks such as octopus with caramelized tomatoes, tomato-strawberry sorbet, and tuna with heirloom tomato salad. Items are priced individually; no specific reservations required.

Free ice cream: Good Humor’s “joy squad” comes to town with free treats this week, served at various locations around Washington. The tour begins on Tuesday from 12 to 2 at Moynihan Plaza (1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW), and continues through August 25. Track the truck on Twitter to find out where the freebies are happening.

Live local: Boundary Stone throws a local social in collaboration with One Eight Distilling on Tuesday from 6 to 8. The event (21+ only) highlights the recent release of Untitled Whiskey No. 2. Other cocktails and bar bites will be available. The event is free, but reservations are requested.

Wine dinner: Urban Heights hosts a four-course wine dinner Wednesday, limited to fifty guests. Chef Cliff Wharton, formerly of the late TenPenh, pairs Spanish varietals with dishes from Southeast Asia. Tickets ($78.98) are available online.

Ramen pop-up: New York’s Mu Ramen is making a two-day appearance in Burke, Virginia on Saturday and Sunday. The popular shop will serve at H Pho (9546 Old Keene Mill Rd.) from 7 to 10. Seating is limited, and available on a first-come, first-eat basis. Guests will find four styles of ramen, snacks like short rib buns, and Japanese craft beers.

Cocktail history: The National Archives hosts a cocktail discussion and sampling (21+ only) on Saturday at 3 centered around David Embury’s book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. The event is moderated by Victorino Matus, and includes expert panelists like Derek Brown and Camper English. Purchase tickets ($45) online.

Sherry meets tiki: Mockingbird Hill bar manager Phil Clark teaches participants how to use sherry in island inspired cocktails during a mixology class on Saturday at 3. The course will focus on sips like the Mai Tai-loroso, Fog Cutter, and Lobo, and include samples of each. Purchase tickets ($65) online.

Farmers market tour: Go behind the scenes of the Bethesda Central Farm Market on Sunday from 9:30 to 11:30 with Jewish Food Experience. The morning event features a walking tour led by Mitch Berliner, founder of the market. Sample fruits and vegetables, learn the history of the market, and talk to Israeli-American chef Josh Rosenstein. Tickets ($10) are available online.

Beer festival kickoff: DC Beer Week takes over the city next week, and starts with an official kickoff party at Suburbia (Union Market) on Sunday from 1 to 5. The Brewers on the Block party features over 19 local brewers like 3 Stars, Flying Dog, and Stillwater Ale, all pouring unlimited samples. Guests can also listen to music from DC-59, and purchase food from market vendors. Tickets ($35 for general admission or $60 for VIP) are available online.

Posted at 12:53 PM/ET, 08/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

Susan Goldberg

Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic

Susan Goldberg's day is spent in the company of people from every corner of the globe. She has back-to-back meetings, international phone calls, and frequent business trips abroad. But before all of that, Goldberg starts her morning in the National Geographic Society cafeteria on M Street, Northwest.

Goldberg always asks for the same thing: two hard-boiled eggs with salt, a large cup of tea, and a juice blend (today she sips on kale, beet, ginger, and apple). Her tea has to be Earl Grey, and it has to have skim milk—it's a follow-up to the cup her husband, Geoffrey, hands her every morning before she leaves their home in Kalorama.

Goldberg is the tenth editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine, but she previously worked in newspapers, and her morning routine is that of a newshound's. First, she listens to WTOP while she wakes up and gets ready. Then, she reads both the Washington Post and The New York Times digitally.

Photographs by Elissa Miolene.

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 08/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Monday, food truck followers! Visit Captain Cookie in L'Enfant Plaza for chocolate peanut butter ice cream, or head to Chinatown for Yumpling's pork dumplings and edamame.

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Posted at 10:18 AM/ET, 08/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Trump is seeking $10 million in damages. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user iprimages.

Mouthy Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is suing restaurateur José Andrés over the chef's decision to cancel a planned restaurant at the forthcoming hotel at the Old Post Office Building because of Trump's campaign-trail comments about immigration.

In the suit, filed Friday in DC's federal district court, the Trump Organization seeks $10 million in damages from Andrés's ThinkFoodGroup, claiming that it has "already suffered and will continue to suffer millions of dollars in costs, expenses, losses and other damages." Andrés announced July 8 that he would abandon plans to open an anchor restaurant at Trump's hotel, following an online petition that urged him to distance himself from the fatuous developer and politician.

The Trump Organization announced last December that ThinkFoodGroup would launch a flagship restaurant at the Old Post Office, which is undergoing a $200 million renovation into a Trump International Hotel scheduled to open in late 2016, just in time for those Inauguration bookings. At first glance, the partnership seemed gaudy, but not unusual. Besides his Washington-area properties, Andrés has also opened restaurants at luxury hotels in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami.

But Donald Trump's emergence as a presidential candidate drove a wedge into the plans, especially as he's pushed a message that describes undocumented immigrants from Mexico as "criminals and rapists." Trump's bombastic campaign has made him the Republican Party's frontrunner first GOP debate next week, but has also alienated him from many of his old business interests.

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Posted at 01:55 PM/ET, 07/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
A Mexican cantina, ramen shop, and spot to indulge in summer's bounty. By Anna Spiegel
Pepita by Mike Isabella opens with casual Mexican fare and shareable drinks like this punch served in a barrel. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Pepita

4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (entrance on N. Quincy Street)

Frozen watermelon margaritas, barbecue lamb tortas, and tuna ceviche are all on order at Mike Isabella’s colorful Ballston cantina, which takes inspiration from coastal Mexico. Equally a bar and restaurant, guests will find a strong lineup of tequilas, mezcals and creative cocktails, as well as all-day happy hour. Look for a large outdoor patio to open around Labor Day.

Alfa Piehouse

1750 H St., NW

Greek celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou and the Alfa pastry brand are behind this 21-seat downtown cafe. Sweet and savory stuffed pies are the focus of the breakfast-to-early evening menu, alongside dips, salads, sandwiches, and a yoghurt bar. Desserts range from classic baklava to dairy-free pumpkin rolls.

Summer tomato salads, grilled peaches, and sweet corn tortellini are all on the menu at Garrison. Photograph by Andrew Propp.


Garrison

524 Eighth St., SE

Former Poste and Cork chef Rob Weland is back in the kitchen, this time at his own seasonal American restaurant on Barracks Row. A partnership with Maryland’s One Acre Farm and daily-printed menus mean “farm to table” is more than just a popular label—the menu is currently filled with dishes like burrata with grilled peaches and sweet corn tortellini. Veteran barkeep Gina Chersevani is behind the garden-inspired cocktails.

Gaijin Ramen Shop

3800 Lee Hwy., Arlington

There’s a new place to slurp noodles in Arlington thanks to this artfully-industrial Japanese ramen shop. Diners can pick between hearty tonkotsu (pork) bowls, miso, and yellow curry, and a variety of traditional toppings (roast pork, eggs, kimchi). Not in the mood for soup? Try a cold Sapporo and oder of bao buns, stuffed with slow-roasted pork belly and cucumbers, barbecued tofu, or slider-size burgers.

Masseria's Italian tasting menus include dishes like this fresh pasta with rock shrimp and zucchini.


Masseria

430 Fourth St., NE

Former Bibiana chef Nick Stefanelli just soft-opened the doors to his Italian tasting room near Union Market last week, and officially debuts on Tuesday, August 4. Head to the enclosed outdoor patio set with sofas and fire pits for a glass of Prosecco or cigar, or go in for a three or five-course tasting menu (check out a sample here). Guests can pick their own dishes, which can mean three pasta courses if the craving strikes.

Whole Foods Ashburn

19800 Belmont Chase Dr., Ashburn

This isn’t just another Whole Foods—just check out the bar. The newly-opened Ashburn store is the first in Washington to pour hard liquor, and boasts a “pub” that serves barrel-aged cocktails, locally-made sprits, totchos, and other super-trendy items. They even serve artisanal toasts.

Posted at 12:51 PM/ET, 07/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
After a long beach day, get your fill at our favorite spots. By Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegel, Todd Kliman
Blue crab claws with Old Bay and cocktail sauce from Bluecoast. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Bluecoast

Roasted clams with pozole. Photographs by Scott Suchman.

1111 Coastal Hwy., Bethany Beach; 302-539-7111

Chef Matt Haley, who died last year, was the mind behind this airy dining room, and it’s a testament to his strengths that this and his other places—which include Papa Grande’s and NorthEast Seafood Kitchen—are still such good bets. A stool at the long, roomy bar here is one of our favorite spots for a solo dinner. Some credit goes to the welcoming bartenders, but most goes to the kitchen, which turns out a straightforward but ambitious roster that succeeds with the simple things—tossed-to-order coleslaw, Old Bay-sprinkled crab claws—along with more labor-intensive plates such as al dente bucatini with fresh clams or bluefish pâté with toast points.

NorthEast Seafood Kitchen

29 Atlantic Ave., Ocean View; 302-537-1785

Crisp-fried Ipswich clams with tartar sauce. A silken seafood chowder. Baked Sweet Jesus oysters. Everything, in other words, that lying on the beach and tasting the salt air has primed you to want. Don’t miss finishing, in kid-like fashion, with the chocolate cake, drizzled at the table with a pitcher of warm chocolate sauce.

Rocky Road Fudge at Candy Kitchen

Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Multiple locations in Rehoboth, Bethany, Ocean City, and Virginia Beach

The chocolatiest, butteriest, and most decadent fudge we found, with a ripple of soft marshmallow and plenty of chopped walnuts.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 07/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Friday, food truck followers! Visit Cajunators in Dupont Circle for fried catfish with red beans, or head to Fairfax for PhoWheels's beef tongue tacos.

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Posted at 10:36 AM/ET, 07/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Who will claim the championship title? By Anna Spiegel
The W Hotel's POV Lounge (pictured) goes up against Jack Rose in Adams Morgan for the championship title. Photograph by Daniel Swartz.

Welcome to the final round of the Summer Drinking Showdown! We’ve come a long way since 16 of Washington’s top outdoor bars entered the competition. Now only two stand, and it wasn’t an easy fight. Yesterday Denizens Brewing Co. ran neck and neck with Jack Rose, and graciously lost by a hair of the dog. Head to Silver Spring this weekend to help them drown any sorrows with the brewery's fresh-made beers.

The two final teams need little introduction. POV’s rooftop terrace has shown its stealth in these games, besting great outdoor bars like Bardo Brewpub and Roofers Union for a shot at the championship. Stylish digs, monumental views, and seasonal cocktails make this W Hotel bar stand out from the boozy pack. Challenger Jack Rose is an equally unique place to sip—the Adams Morgan institution claims the largest whiskey collection in the Western Hemisphere. Even those who don’t like brown liquor are welcome, drawn to the open-air terrace by well-crafted cocktails, Southern bites, and cigars, or to the summertime pop-up tiki bar for island-style fare.

Jack Rose's open-air terrace (pictured) is one of the many draws of the AdMo bar. Photograph courtesy of Jack Rose.


So which outdoor bar deserves the title of Summer Drinking Showdown Champion? This is the ultimate al fresc-off, and the shots are high. Vote until the polls close at 5.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 07/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Whether you're nibbling on palak chaat or sharing a bunch of dishes, you'll want these wine recs. By Scott Greenberg
The newly renovated dining room at the Penn Quarter Rasika. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Rasika, with locations in Penn Quarter and West End, is one of the top Indian restaurants in the country, with cooking that emphasizes complex spicing over searing heat. To go with it, Sam Haltiwanger—wine director at the newly renovated Penn Quarter location—has assembled a wine list with a wide variety of thoughtful selections (an Argentine sparkling brut rosé made from Malbec at $12 a glass; a rare 2006 Reisling from Nikolaihof-Wachau, an Austrian estate that is the oldest biodynamic winery in the world). Need help pairing your next meal there? Here’s what I’d recommend.

If you’re getting palak chaat: And who isn’t? The crispy spinach—dusted with chickpea flour, flash-fried, and then lightly dressed with a mix of yogurt and tamarind/date chutney—is the kitchen’s most popular dish. Try the 2013 St. Cosme “Little James Basket Press” White ($11 a glass; $44 a bottle), a gem from the Rhone Valley. The blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Sec, and Viognier is fresh and aromatic, with lovely flavors of peach, lemon, and tangerine that balance the sweetness of the chutney yet cut through the yogurt.

If you’re having the chicken biryani: My favorite dish on the menu is this chicken baked in a casserole with aromatic spices and basmati rice, topped with a puff pastry, and served with a side of cooling raita. It calls for a big white that can both stand up to the spices and complement the chicken. The 2012 Sine Qua Non “In the Abstract” is a rare find on restaurant wine lists. The blend of white Rhone grapes (including Viognier and Roussanne) and Chardonnay from the cult wine producer Manfred Krankl is worth the splurge. It is a viscous wine, with cascading flavors of ripe apricot, white nectarine, grilled peaches, and baked apples—powerful and elegant at the same time. One caveat—at $295 a bottle, it ain’t cheap.

If you’re ordering tandoori salmon: The fish is coated with Kashmiri chilies, cinnamon, and black pepper, and then baked in a traditional tandoor. Given the smoky heat of the dish, I’d go for the 2010 Westrey Oracle Vineyard Pinot Noir ($58 a bottle) from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which has aromas of cherry cola, black plums, and baking spices. Hints of cinnamon on the finish add an exclamation point to both the wine and the salmon, while smooth tannins cut through the rich texture.

If you’re playing it safe with chicken tikka masala: I don’t mean to seem obvious here, but an off-dry Riesling, like the 2012 Mercer from Yakima Valley, Washington ($56 a bottle) is a great match. The lush juiciness of the honeysuckle, lychee, and tangerine flavors plays off of the spices, and the bright acidity is the perfect foil for the rich, creamy sauce. A slight effervescence adds a refreshing touch.

If you’re sharing a bunch of things: There are some cool picks for both white and red wine lovers to share here. I think the 2013 Luigi Tacchino Gavi di Gavi ($50 a bottle) is a versatile, well-balanced white that was born to pair with a variety of things—it’d be great with mild seafood, like the black cod with dill, and with chicken dishes. Red wine aficionados should spring for the multi-faceted 2012 Chateau Raspail ($95 a bottle) from the Gigondas region of the Rhône Valley. Made from a blend of Grenache and Syrah, this cousin of Chateauneuf du Pape offers up a flamboyant bouquet of red and blue fruits mixed with crushed rock and floral undertones. It’d pair deliciously with many of the cheese-based dishes and vegetarian selections.

Posted at 01:26 PM/ET, 07/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
We taste-tested sandwiches from Au Bon Pain and Pret a Manger to find the best (and worst). By Anna Spiegel
Chain lobster rolls from Au Bon Pain (left) and Pret a Manger (right). Photograph by Anna Spiegel

Lobster is still considered a luxury ingredient, despite its relative abundance and former identity as prison food. These days the crustacean is also shelled out by chain restaurants offering a mass taste of fine dining—there’s even a McLobster roll.

So where can Washingtonians try the McRib of the Sea? Unfortunately McDonalds only sells the specialty in New England, but two national chains with many Washington locations have created their own versions: Au Bon Pain and Pret a Manger. We taste-tested both to determine the best.

Au Bon Pain's lobster salad sandwich on a croissant.


Au Bon Pain Lobster Salad Sandwich ($12.99)

The bread: Though the Boston-based chain could have tapped its New England roots, ABP French-ifies the roll with a crusty, semi-decent croissant.

The lobster: North Atlantic claw and knuckle meat mixed into a salad. The look is promising, the flavor less so—the chopped bits are cold, salty, and taste more like the sea than actual lobster.

The seasoning: A “lite” mayo binder speckled with chives, parsley, and black pepper.

Overall: Not horrific, but not great. Kudos to ABP for the effort, but we’d rather put our $13 towards the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck where delicious rolls go for $15.95.

Pret a Manger stacks lobster and crunchy dressing on a brioche bun.


Pret a Manger Maine Lobster Roll ($8.99)

The bread: A slightly larger than slider-size brioche roll, pillowy and sweet.

The lobster: A decent portion of Maine claw and knuckle meat, simply dressed with lemon juice. The flavor is mild and sweet—not top of the line, but definitely tastes like lobstah.

The seasoning: Pret is strategic with the pre-made sandwich’s assembly: the “salad” dressing of mayo and finely diced celery, red onion, and yellow peppers is placed on the bottom of the sandwich between leaves of lettuce, so it doesn’t make the lobster meat or brioche bun soggy. Brits think of everything!

Overall: Winner, winner lobster dinner. Or light lunch—the sandwich is rich, but fairly small. Points for the creamy/crunchy dressing, and fresh brioche that mimics that traditional hot dog bun in texture and sweetness. Pret also offers lobster in mayo and bread-free salad form for calorie counters.

Posted at 11:51 AM/ET, 07/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()