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A conversation with food historian (and contrarian) Rachel Laudan. By Todd Kliman

You’ve probably never heard of Rachel Laudan. This column hopes to change that.

Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, Jamie Oliver—these are the theorists and influencers who drive the debate in the food world. Laudan belongs in their company, though her thinking differs from their thinking. In fact, her thinking frequently takes issue with their thinking.

Reading her writing can be as bracing as taking a first, unsuspecting sip of mezcal. Fiercely unsentimental and deeply skeptical of conventional wisdom, she is relentless in her pursuit of a difficult truth and situates her sometimes unorthodox assertions in a thick and sticky web of historical and cultural context.

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Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 05/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fresh options for dining and drinking. By Anna Spiegel
Del Campo's bar dishes up free snacks and $6 margaritas during late-night happy hour. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Del Campo launches late-night happy hour (with free food!)

777 I St., NW

Coming from an event at the Verizon Center, or just a really long day at the office? Consider Del Campo’s reverse happy hour, which runs from 10 to midnight, Thursday through Saturday. Sip $6 margaritas, pisco punch, beers, and wines, alongside free snacks like chorizo bites and grilled provoleta sandwiches. The deals are available at the bar, and on the patio.

New barbecue lunches at Jackson 20

480 King St., Alexandria

Chef Brian McPherson fires up his smoker for a new Lunch Line menu. Guests can pick between ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and spicy chopped chicken to stuff into sandwiches or put on a platter, plus traditional sides such as slaw and beans, and a nonalcoholic beverage ($15 for meat, side, and drink). The lineup launches Friday with a barbecue giveaway starting at 11:30—250 sandwiches are up for grabs. Going forward the ‘cue can be eaten in the restaurant or taken to-go, Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30.

Outdoor summer movies at the Occidental

1475 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Classic movie buffs can hit this downtown stalwart for an outdoor summer movie and dinner series, beginning Saturday, June 6. Flicks like Arsenic and Old Lace play on an oversize screen in the courtyard, while guests order a three-course menu, snack on complimentary seasoned popcorn, and grab drinks from a cash bar. Reservations are now being accepted for the first two Saturdays; the event starts at 8, and costs $45 (exclusive of gratuity, tax, and alcohol).

Sunday wine dinners at Casa Luca

1099 New York Ave., NW

Chef Erin Clarke and sommelier Sarah Bengston team up for a Sunday series of Italian wine dinners, launching May 31. Each week guests can try a three-course Sunday Sips menu, which showcases dishes and wines from a particular region. First up: Sardegna. The prixe-fixe is available at dinner, and is $48 per person including food and alcohol.

STK offers al fresco happy hour

1250 Connecticut Ave., NW

Head outside for $10 buy-one-get-one sangrias, $7 Belvedere vodka cocktails, $2 oysters, and $6 Prosecco. Rosé fans should plan to cut out of work extra early; glasses go for $5 from 2 to 5.

Throwback dishes at Il Pizzico

15209 N. Frederick Rd., Rockville

The Rockville Italian celebrates its 25th anniversary by bringing back favorite dishes, beginning Monday, June 1 and running through the week. Head in for mozzarella-stuffed eggplant bundles, homemade fettuccine with shellfish, mushrooms, and peas, and veal scallopini. A portion of the sales benefit the Manna Food Center.

Posted at 11:01 AM/ET, 05/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Friday, food truck followers! Kick off the weekend with a barbecue sampler from BBQ Bus in L'Enfant Plaza, or head to Farragut Square for a gyro from Kabob Square.

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Posted at 10:03 AM/ET, 05/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's the same as the Orioles wine. And the Minnesota Twins wine. By Anna Spiegel

Call it a swing-and-a-miss for Nats drinkers. Major League Baseball Properties just announced the launch of a Washington Nationals brand wine, created through a partnership with Wine by Design. The only problem: nothing about it, besides the label, really says Washington.

Photograph courtesy of Wines by Design.

According to a press release, the 18 wines created for teams in the American and National league are “tailored for each team market.” What does that mean for Washington? Very little. The Nationals 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is made with grapes from California’s Central Coast—no Virginia Cab Franc?— and the wine itself seems to be identical to the Baltimore Orioles Cab, according to details on the Bounty Hunter website. Huh. Geographical coincidence? Nope, looks like the Minnesota Twins have the same wine as well.

At least Washington's blurb is different, though it employs all the usual Beltway cliches: traffic angst (solution: drink wine), serious Capitol Hill business (blah, drink more wine). What can we say? High-powered, stressed-out Washingtonians just like their wine, though the baseball varietal comes at a price: $60 for a three-pack, or roughly the price of five tickets to a weekday Nats game.

Still in search of liquid Nats pride? Try beer. DC’s Atlas Brew Works created the 1500 South Cap Lager exclusively for Nationals Park, a pale brew made with summer ballpark drinking in mind. Boston-based Sam Adams also partnered with the team for the Nats Anniversary IPA, sold only at the Red Porch and a few other spots in the stadium.

Maybe the Nats should just steer clear of wine. And for that matter, ladies’ night.

Posted at 01:39 PM/ET, 05/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Thursday, food truck followers! It's almost the weekend again, so keep on truckin' with bratwurst from the Federal City Bros. at Union Station, or head to Friendship Heights for Habebe's shawarma.

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Posted at 10:10 AM/ET, 05/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Talking two decades of cooking in Washington, and what it means to be a chef today. By Anna Spiegel
Ann Cashion and John Manolatos celebrate 20 years of Cashion's Eat Place.

Cashion’s Eat Place celebrates a landmark two decades on Tuesday—an anniversary that few Washington restaurants have achieved, let alone at their status. The Adams Morgan institution continues to excel and remain relevant, even as its peers fade, and new restaurants sprout up across the city.

The restaurant's lineage is unusual in and of itself: chef Ann Cashion and business partner John Fulchino opened the doors in 1995, and hired current co-owners Justin Abad and chef John Manolatos, who was just a novice cook when Cashion began training him during the restaurant’s debut. Abad and Manolatos took over in 2007, preserving Cashion’s name and cooking philosophy.

We sat down with Cashion and Manolatos as they prepared to celebrate 20 years with a collaborative dinner. More than a look back, the pair offered insights into how Washington restaurants operate today—the danger of compromise, the difficulty of sourcing locally (yes, even in 2015), and how to create a restaurant that’s built to last decades.

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Posted at 02:24 PM/ET, 05/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Wednesday, food truck followers! Brighten your day with El Fuego's stuffed avocado in Tysons, or bacon mash aboard BBQ Bus at 21st and L streets, Northwest.

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Posted at 10:35 AM/ET, 05/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Image via Shutterstock.

Myth: Your tip goes directly to the server

Fact: Behind every great server is a support staff (food runners, bussers), and restaurants adopt different tipping systems to reward everyone. Some places are “pool houses,” where everyone’s tips are combined and the money is split among all the waitstaff. Others let servers keep their own tips and dole out the gratuity as they see fit. The servers take the largest cut in both scenarios, but your 20 percent is helping others as well.

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Posted at 09:50 AM/ET, 05/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
So many roofs, so many drinks. By Benjamin Freed
The roof deck at Perry's in Adams Morgan. Photograph courtesy of Perry's.

There's nothing like a post-Memorial Day haze to make one want to spend a few hours after work sipping drinks on a roof deck. And a recent list of 11 bars and restaurants with outdoor seating areas only begins to document the list of sunny options.

Washington's hospitality industry is rife with terraces and roof decks, but it can be difficult to keep everything in order. Luckily, a website called Raise the Roof DC has been pegging Washington's rooftop bars on a handy Google map. The site launched in 2013 after a Reddit thread that attempted to assemble a comprehensive list of the city's rooftop bars, but where Reddit dropped off, the site continued. Raise the Roof DC has continued to update its map, which contains dozens of elevated watering holes.

Posted at 04:26 PM/ET, 05/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus more porky fun at Del Campo's Cochon555-inspired rooftop party. By Nelson Billington
Grab free barbecue sandwiches at Jackson 20 to celebrate the launch of their new 'cue menu. Photograph courtesy of Jackson 20.

Week of wine: The finalists in the 2015 RAMMY “Wine Program of the Year” category host a variety of specials and events this week, including a ticketed wine tasting at Iron Gate on Friday ($25 per person), or unusual wines by the glass at the Red Hen from Albania and the Republic of Georgia. See the event page for a full list of participants and details.

Cashion’s turns 20: Cashion’s Eat Place celebrates its 20th year in Adams Morgan on Wednesday. Unfortunately the prix-fixe dinner is sold out, but longtime fans are welcome to drop by the restaurant at 9 for complimentary passed hors d’oeuvres and bar specials.

Chefs behind bars: No Kid Hungry hosts a “Chefs Behind Bars” at Stanton & Greene on Thursday from 6 to 8. The cocktail series features chefs like Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley and Doron Petersan (Sticky Fingers Eats & Sweets), who’ll take a break from the kitchen to mix up a signature beverage. Guests vote for their favorite. Tickets ($45) are available online.

Free barbecue: Jackson 20 gives away 250 barbecue sandwiches to the first guests at the Old Town, Alexandria restaurant on Friday, starting at 11:30. The promotion marks the beginning of their new Lunch Line menu, which draws from chef Brian McPherson’s barbecue background; guests can build their own sandwiches or platters for dine-in or takeaway, picking between pulled pork, ribs, hot chopped chicken, traditional sides (mac n’ cheese, slaw), sauces, and drinks ($15 per meal). Keep an eye on Jackson’s social media platforms in the future—whenever #whenpigsfly appears on Twitter or Facebook, the eatery will serve free barbecue sandwiches for 12 minutes.

Rooftop pig party: Chef Victor Albisu invites guests to Del Campo’s rooftop patio on Friday at 6 for a sunset pork party with panoramic city views. Albisu cooks up dishes from the recent Cochon555 competition alongside several new creations, while mixologist Mary Kelly crafts cocktails. Dress to impress: the theme is 1980's Miami style. Tickets ($69) are available online.

Barbecue battle: Head to the 9th Annual Beltway BBQ Showdown on Friday from 6 to 10 and Saturday from 12 to 7 in Fort Washington, Maryland. Needless to say, there will be meat. The Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) judges the cooking competitions for adults and teens, picking the best ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and more. A classic car show and craft demonstrations are part of the fun. Tickets ($3) can be purchased on the day of the event.

Bacon festival (road trip edition): Make a day trip to Charlottesville on Saturday from 1 to 5 for a festival celebrating all things bacon. Local restaurants create bacon-themed dishes, Starr Hill brewery pours beers, and Bold Rock Hard Cider provides the apple-infused drinks. The event supports Local Food Hub, a nonprofit that helps provide easy access to locally grown foods. Tickets ($30 to $60) are available online.

Pig roast: Black’s Bar & Kitchen celebrates the beginning of summer on Saturday from 12 to 3 with a patio pig roast. The restaurant prepares a heritage Berkabaw pig alongside three preparations of oysters, steamed and spiced crawfish, and sides. Beers from Jailbreak Brewing Company wash it all down. Tickets ($45 per person, all-inclusive) are available online; guests must be 21 and over.

Tour de Fat: New Belgium Brewing’s national tour stops in DC on Saturday at the Yards Park for an afternoon of beers and bicycles. The carnivalesque festival runs from 10 to 5 with musical acts, vaudeville performers, a “Bicycle Revival,” and plenty of brews. A $5 advance donation can be made online.

Presidential imbibing: Learn more about the Founding Father’s tippling habits during a seminar on Saturday at the National Archives, starting at 3. Moderator Reid Mitenbuler, author of the forthcoming Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey, discusses drinking culture in colonial times with a panel of historians and barkeeps. The course includes a specialty cocktail tasting. Tickets ($45 per person) are available online.

Grilled cheese party: Marvin resurrects its grilled cheese social series on Saturday from 1 to 8. Feast on cheesy sandwiches while dancing to turned from Daniel Biltmore, a Baltimore-based DJ, Chad Hugo. Admission is free, and no reservations needed.

Sweetlife festival: Sweetgreen’s annual music and food festival returns to Merriweather Post Pavillion on Saturday and Sunday. Headliners like Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris perform, while the culinary star lineup includes chefs like José Andrés and Momofuku Milk Bar, local vendors, food trucks, breweries, and more. Tickets ($175 to $350) are available online.

Bacon and beer fest (local edition): Wind down a swine-filled week at Penn Social during the second annual Bacon and Beer Festival from 2:30 to 5. The fundraiser for Food and Friends features porky dishes from the likes of Tico and Smoke & Barrel, local craft brews, and creative swag. Tickets range from $45 to $60, and are available online.

Posted at 11:11 AM/ET, 05/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()